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Whole 30: 30 Days of Clean Eating

30 Sep

We’re going to skip the part about me being a bad blogger, and jump straight to what we’ve been up to these last 30 days, ok? Good.

This summer Calvin and I had adopted a paleo lifestyle for the majority of our meals. We didn’t completely convert with everything though (aka: we still loved our craft beer several times a week and indulged at our favorite pizza place far more often than our stomachs or bank accounts preferred). But we felt pretty good about our 80% commitment and didn’t really see a reason to take it any further.

Then we went to Europe for ten days. Oh yeah, “Hey blog, we went to Europe for ten days!” Numerous pictures and stories to tell about that one day, but back to paleo. It was vacation, we were experiencing another culture (one that loved their potatoes prepared any way as much as they loved their fish and chips) so our 80% paleo effort stayed on the other side of the Atlantic. But our stomachs didn’t seem to like that situation very much.

We returned to the States and tried to fall back into our semi-paleo way of life, but doing something halfway is a hard thing to re-adopt. So when my sweet sister-in-law asked me if I had ever heard of whole 30, I knew this just might be the commitment I needed to figure out what my eating habits really should be. I’d read about whole 30 a lot through researching paleo, but it sounded pretty extreme and intimidating. Calvin was not on board.

However, after a weekend spent on the lake indulging in all kinds of delicious junk food (and paying for it on the way back to Memphis), Calvin told me he had changed his mind. We made a plan with Mary and set our start date for September 1st. Our journey of a month with no dairy, gluten, grains, legumes, sugar, or processed food of any kind was about to begin.

So what did we eat? Lots of lean meats, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats (primarily tree nuts and coconut). While it may seem limiting, when you stop and think about how many different kinds of meats, veggies, and fruits there are and how many different ways you can prepare them, you realize you can literally go 30 days without eating the same thing twice if you wanted.

We cooked more this month than I think we ever have in any 30 days of marriage. While we didn’t eat out a whole lot for meals we shared together before, these 30 days showed us how often we would just run out and grab something for a quick lunch or dinner should we happen to be rushed and unable to eat together. And for a girl that doesn’t just love to spend her free time in the kitchen, I really enjoyed all the extra time we shared there together this month prepping and cooking meals.

But you’re probably thinking that all sounds well and good, but tell me more about what made this challenging and what you learned from it. Well, glad you asked! It was definitely hard, especially the first 8-9 days. Sugar cravings are no joke. Even though we had done a pretty good job of cutting back on sugar through doing paleo for several months, the complete omission of sugar (even natural sugars like pure honey) is rough for us sugar-crazed Americans. It was most helpful to eat a good breakfast with a full serving of protein and some healthy fats with nothing sweet to help fill me up and not wake up my sweet tooth earlier than necessary. And while whole 30 doesn’t encourage a lot of snacking (your meals should fill you up and keep you full until your next one) if I was hungry I would snack on some raw veggies or mixed nuts to keep me from thinking about cookies or cupcakes until my next meal.

After a few days into the second week, I was getting better at building my portions to adequately fill me up and snacking less. The sugar cravings still happened occasionally, but they were much more manageable. The hardest part was fighting temptations that were right in front of me. You know, potluck on the floor at work, offers to go out for drinks with friends, sitting in pizza restaurants and only drinking water, the ice cream fundraiser at the office, all those delicious things that just seem to pop up. My stubbornness to finish what I start was actually a blessing in these situations.

Week three came and suddenly I felt like a brand new person. The cravings were essentially gone and I had consistent energy levels all day long. Did you know that it’s not normal to be tired at 2:30 every day? Or that some people can wake up with or before their alarm and feel energized and ready for the day? Yeah, me either. But I’m here to tell you that I am totally a believer now. I have never been a morning person, but now I can barely sleep past 7:30-8:00 (yes even on Saturdays), I have energy all day long, and when I start to get tired at night I go to bed and sleep soundly. This, people, is worth all the rule following for 30 days! Here’s a fun little graphic with a link to the full article outlining what you can expect during your whole 30.

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So we start reintroducing foods tomorrow. We’ll eat several different types of dairy throughout the day and observe how we feel while going back to the full whole 30 diet for the two days following. Grains with gluten come just in time for our weekend in Starkville; fist pumps for Stromboli’s! Although I fully expect to feel pretty miserable afterwards. Gluten-free grains get reintroduced on the 7th, and we wrap up with legumes on the 10th. It’s a little nerve wracking to start adding these things back in, but I’m really looking forward to knowing how each of these food groups affect me so I can make well-informed choices with my food.

I promise to come back with a full update after the 10th to see which of these food groups are the biggest culprits for inconsistent energy levels, headaches, and heartburn. Should be fun! If you want to know more about whole 30 I highly recommend reading It Starts With Food. The authors have done their research and have testimonies of thousands of people who experienced a similar and often more extreme transformation than Calvin and I. Their website, whole9life.com is also a great resource. And of course we’d be happy to share the recipes and other resources we used to help us on our journey or answer any questions if you want to know more.

A Big List of Morris News

29 Jun

I feel like I start all my posts with, “Wow, it’s been so long since I’ve updated our poor blog, let me catch you up!” and since that seems to be the reoccurring theme, maybe I should just admit to myself that I’m not a daily, weekly, or sometimes even monthly blogger.

So if we all agree there are no expectations for this little corner of the Internet, then I’ll write when I can and you can read when you want to, deal?

Ok, good. Now that we’ve got that out-of-the-way, what do you want to hear about first? The house? Our new favorite recipes? Neglected DIY projects? Penny? My new job? How hot it is in Memphis? My new obsession with Jerry’s Sno Cones? The LuvMud 5K?

Well, obviously that’s too many topics for one post so I’ll answer that string of questions with one sentence for each, and come back soon with longer, more exciting posts full of details and pictures.

The house is awesome and feeling more and more like ours each week. We have loved cooking in the big kitchen on a gas stove and trying out new recipes. Our current fav is this angel hair pasta and prosciutto recipe courtesy of Pinterest. We undertook several DIY projects right after we moved in and are planning to tackle a few more this weekend and over the holiday next week. Stay tuned.

Penny is loving her new-found freedom of being outside without a leash, and she recently had her canine friend Gracie over for a week. So it’s safe to say she’s pretty content.

Like how I threw a new job in the midst of this random list? So as of July 23rd I will be a Regional Account Manager for IP. I’ve LOVED my Supply Chain job and will miss my current group so much, but as a marketing grad I’m excited for this new opportunity. Way more to come on that!

It’s freaking hot in Memphis. I need a pool, lots of frozen alcoholic beverages, and sno cones to make it through this summer. Luckily, Jerry’s Sno Cones helps. I’d always heard of this place but never been until we moved. And it definitely lives up to its hype. It’s a Memphis must!

I ran in the LuvMud 5K last Saturday (an obstacle course 5K kind of like Warrior Dash) and it was fun but hot. I’ll leave you with a before and after picture of team Muddy Buddies.

Happy Friday friends! Back with more soon!

Our New House!

10 May

And the story of how we got it.

Yep, we are officially homeowners now! We closed today, May 10th and will spend the weekend and next week preparing the house for move-in. The movers come next Friday the 18th and we can’t wait!

But let’s back up a little and talk about how we got here.

Last July when it was time to renew our apartment’s lease we knew we weren’t ready to buy a house yet. We briefly debated about moving out of the apartment and into a rental house, but quickly decided we would stay another year. {Our first lease was 14 months from May 2010 to July 2011 and we renewed for 10 months from August 2011 to May 2012, for a total of two years}. But we knew when it came time to renew again that we would be ready to move out and into a house.

So when did the house search begin? I guess we started talking about our wish list of requirements as soon as we made the decision to move after our lease expired, so last July. But we didn’t really get serious until January this year. For anyone who is interested, here is our wish list separated between what we’d like in a house we owned versus what we’d like in a house we rented.

House to Buy Wish List

  • 3+ bedrooms
  • 2+ baths
  • central heat/air
  • fenced in/fence-able yard
  • open floor plan & big kitchen
  • garage/carport
  • back patio
  • hardwood preferred in main living space
  • lots of windows
  • separate tub & shower in master bath
  • separate closets or large walk-in
  • brick/mainly brick exterior
  • in a neighborhood (not on main roads)
  • sidewalks
  • near a park or walking trail
  • 20 minutes from our offices (preferably no interstate driving on the commute)
    • East Memphis (north of Poplar, east of Highland)
    • Germantown
    • Collierville (Wolf River/Shelton, near Johnson Park)

House to Rent Wish List

  • 2+ bedrooms
  • 2+ baths
  • fenced in backyard preferred
  • central heat/air
  • big kitchen
  • same locations as “to buy” list, but also open to Midtown (willing to commute a little further if we are just renting since it would be easier to move if we hated it).
  • Single residence/townhouse/condo
  • Park or sidewalks

We also preferred an older home with lots of charm as opposed to newer construction. So we registered on zillow.com and started saving houses to our favorites to get an idea of what was out in the market, and in our price range. The more we searched for homes, the more we realized we really wanted to purchase a home instead of rent so that we could really make it our own. But the thought of making such a huge decision was pretty intimidating and we were nervous to make a commitment.

We spent a lot of time talking about the pros and cons of renting a home versus buying one, and prayed that God would lead us in the direction of His plan. Through this process it became pretty clear that we were ready to own our own home, and even though we were still nervous about making such a huge decision, we were excited!

Once we made the decision to buy, we edited our Zillow account to reflect only the homes listed for sale. And once we had a pretty sizable list of houses in each of the areas on our wish list, we contacted my grandparents {who are real estate agents—they work for Kaizen Realty if you are searching for homes in the MidSouth} to set up some showings. And so the hunt began in late January this year!

We looked at 3-4 houses in Germantown and concentrated the rest of our search in East Memphis in the Highpoint neighborhood as well as neighborhoods around White Station and Walnut Grove. After just two Saturdays of looking, we were quickly discovering our number one location was in the White Station area and number two was in Highpoint.

We loved different things about each area. In the White Station area homes are built between the mid 1950s-early 1970s. They are typically ranch style homes, in a great school district {for one day in the future when this matters to us as a family or potential buyers when we’re ready to sell}, and really convenient to our offices and the places we like to hang out.

In the Highpoint neighborhood homes are as old as the late 1920s and more of a bungalow style, but most have been renovated with new kitchens and bathrooms and refinished hardwood floors. The area has its own corner market, pizza place, and other local businesses within walking distance. It seems to be a really close-knit community but is further from our offices and the area of town we typically hang out in.

So now that we had two really great locations, we started a list of houses that we loved in each of them. We tried to always keep no more than 3-4 homes on our favorite list at all times so we wouldn’t fall into the trap of trying to combine what we loved about one house into something we loved about another. {That tip can be attributed to my grandparents. They are wise. Give them a call if you need a realtor!}

Once we had these 3-4 homes we began talking about what was most important to us. For me, it was always the number of rooms and the location {good neighborhood, convenient, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and an overall good flow of the house}. For Calvin, it was more of the home’s style and upgrades as well as the location {but the neighborhood and surrounding area’s amenities outweighed convenience for him}. So can you see what happened? Yep, I was falling hard for a house in the White Station area while he couldn’t get his mind off of one in Highpoint.

While we both loved each of the other’s first picks, and ultimately agreed that our number one house was the one in the White Station area, when it came down to ranking the rest, we had problems. I loved another one in the same area, while he was pushing hard for our favorite in Highpoint. But thankfully, since our number one favorite was the same, we were able to agree and move forward while still keeping each of our number two picks on the list as numbers two and three.

Once we had our list of the top three, we continued to look at houses in our two favorite neighborhoods just to be sure we explored all our options. We took our time and didn’t look every weekend, and while some houses we saw seemed to make their way on our list, none of them ever took the number one spot.

By this point it was mid-March and we felt comfortable with the fact that our number one favorite was still just that, and it was still on the market with no offers. So on March 17th we worked with my grandparents to prepare an offer and sent it to the seller’s agent. And then the waiting and negotiating game began.

This was definitely the most difficult part of the process. The seller no longer lived in the house and it had been on the market for over a year, so when we submitted our offer we were very hopeful. But when he responded with his first counter-offer, we quickly realized this was going to be much more difficult than we thought.

We went back and forth with him for over two weeks before we were finally able to reach an agreement. At one point when we hadn’t heard from him in five or six days, we went back out to look at a couple newly listed houses because we were sure he had enough and was going to decline our latest counter-offer.

But just a few days after we went to look at more houses, we got a call from my grandparents saying he had countered back and they thought it was something we would be happy to sign. We quickly checked our email to review the offer, squealed, did a little happy dance, and called my grandparents back to ask if we could come over to sign it!

And so we did!

We were ecstatic, but tried not to get ahead of ourselves since we still had to have the home inspection and the option to walk-away from the deal if we couldn’t reach an agreement about any necessary repairs.

We scheduled the home inspection in early April and were a little disappointed about a few things, but overall still very happy and hopeful that the seller would work with us to fix the main issues. So we sent a list of the things we would like him to repair and waited some more for his response.

And then things got pretty crazy. It can be summed up like this: we wanted three main things fixed, the seller was willing to pay for repairs but capped it at an amount we knew they would exceed, we couldn’t afford to cover everything but didn’t want to lose the house, there were lots of emails being sent and received {some not so professional}, and then suddenly {and miraculously} the seller agreed to what we had asked!

We were overjoyed and praised God for how evident He was through the entire situation. There were many times throughout this whole process that we could’ve lost the house, but each and every one of them all worked out favorably for us—and that can only be because of God’s providence. Praise Him!

Things have been pretty crazy the past few weeks trying to get all the details finalized before our closing date. There are so many people to communicate with, get forms to, appointments to make, and on and on. It takes a lot of people to buy a house! But we are thrilled that the day is finally here and we are homeowners!

And now that the cat is out of the bag, can we just talk about how much packing sucks? Especially when you’re packing a tiny two bedroom, third floor apartment. So that’s what we’ll be doing for the next week and then the movers come Friday the 18th.

We are blessed and God is so good. Thanks for reading about our journey; we’re so excited to finally be able to share it!

The New Morris Mobile

3 Oct

So the short story is that we sold Calvin’s car and bought a new one. But that’s boring and no one reads one sentence blog posts. So if you want the long version, then keep reading!

Calvin drove a 2001 Ford Taurus that served him very well. But it was getting to the point that the regular maintenance of the car plus random issues that come up in automobiles with more than 140,000 miles on them, was more than we wanted to continue to invest in it. So we’ve been saving and talking about what kind of car we might want next, for several months. We were thinking we would trade his car in sometime after the holidays early next year. But God is good and He provided us with the means to get something new much sooner than we were anticipating.

A few Sundays ago in our community group fellowship, we were talking with a family who mentioned needing to buy a used car for one of their daughters. Calvin jokingly said that he had a car he would sell them, but never really expected anything to come from it. They asked questions about what kind is was and how many miles it had, and seemed very interested. So after emailing about it off and on during the day Monday, Calvin arranged for them to see it on Tuesday. When he told me this, my first reaction was to tell him to get it cleaned! You see, Calvin views his car as an extension of his closet and office, so there were lots of things to clean out, throw away, and of course it had to be vacuumed and washed. He did this during lunch on Tuesday and showed them the car first thing Wednesday morning. And with a quick visit to our favorite auto mechanic to have them check everything out and note any repairs that were needed, it was sold first thing Friday morning! Praise the Lord for His provisions and His perfect timing. We were able to give a family something that they needed, and they in turn were able to help us reach our savings goal months before we expected.

But this left us with only one car and we were leaving for our beloved college-town early Saturday morning. Plus, I would be returning to Starkville after work on Monday with several of my co-workers to attend the career fair and recruit potential candidates to interview with International Paper. So we were feeling a little pressed for time to make a decision. We prayed that God would lead us to the right decision and set out to a local Toyota dealership Friday night.

We went hoping to test-drive two Toyota Highlanders we saw listed on their website. But after driving both of these and loving a black 2009 model, we weren’t completely sold. Even though it was only a 2009, it had over 70,000 miles on it, and we just weren’t sure we wanted something so new, but with so many miles. But before we left, we decided to test drive a 2010 Rav-4 that was parked nearby. We hadn’t really considered Rav-4s because we both loved the Highlander so much. But after driving it, we really liked it. The gas mileage is great, it’s more of a crossover SUV which is all we really need, so the only problem was the price. Since it was a 2010 and only had 20,000 miles on it, it was way out of our price-range. After much debate back and forth between the ’09 Highlander and the ’10 Rav-4, we decided to just call it a night and keep thinking/looking.

The next morning we talked to the dealership as we were driving to Starkville, and the salesman mentioned having more negotiating room with the Rav-4 since it’s practically a new car, but the 2012 models are coming soon. After some back-and-forth with him and his manager, Calvin hung up and said they had offered us the Rav-4 for the same price as the Highlander, if we could come today. For a split second we considered turning around. But we knew we would be at the dealership for awhile if we decided to buy it, and would end up missing the game. So I asked him to call them back and see if we could come in when we got home Sunday. Thankfully, they were willing so we continued on to Starkville excited about seeing our friends and the game, and hopeful that we could get this great deal the next day.

Maybe, I’ll get a quick Starkville post up soon, we weren’t there for long but we had a great time!

Fast forward to Sunday afternoon. They were true to their word and offered us the Rav-4 for the price of the much more used Highlander. So we began all the paperwork and about an hour later, we were driving off the lot in our new car! {Well Calvin was. I had to drive our other car home :)}

Sadly, it was already raining pretty hard, so we basically just parked and ran inside. But I got to drive it to work the next morning, and Calvin rode with me to drive it back home since I was going to be out of town. While I was gone, he got to drive it and start getting used to everything and when I returned on Thursday, I was so excited to finally get to enjoy our new car! We’ve had a busy weekend so I’ve gotten to drive it everyday, but I still can’t believe it’s actually ours! We feel so very blessed and know that God worked each of these details out to provide us with exactly what we needed.

So here’s to a roomier vehicle, more reliability, and better gas mileage. Who’s ready for a roadtrip?

Running the Race

14 Jul

About four weeks ago, Calvin and I both decided we wanted to start running several times a week. Don’t ask me why I decided I wanted to do this, because I’m not really sure. I have never run more than 1.5 miles consecutively in my whole life. Sure, there were those occasional runs during PE or band practice {yes, I was a band nerd and I’m not afraid to admit it}, but no one ever made me run very often, so I just didn’t. Calvin, on the other hand, played basketball and ran cross country in high school, so it wasn’t as foreign of a concept to him. But we had both heard about the program Couch to 5K and decided it seemed doable and a good way to get us moving, so we thought we would try it out. We both downloaded the app for our iPhones, bought armbands to hold our phones while we ran, and new earphones that wouldn’t fall out like those tiny earbuds do.

We were really excited to start, so we decided to run our first run one June Saturday at 10:30 am. And then we were not so excited anymore. Lesson number one: don’t run between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:00 pm between the months of June and August. We did it once and we haven’t done it since.

Fortunately, we didn’t let our bad experience on our first run discourage us too much, so two days later we ran again. And guess what? An evening run is so much better than a mid-morning run! And now we’ve been running every other evening for almost five weeks.

Couch to 5K is all about getting your body used to running by alternating running and walking for 20-30 minutes each workout. You start out walking more than running, and gradually increase the length of your runs while decreasing the length of your walks until you can run for a solid 30 minutes. I wouldn’t say that every run has been easy, but I also haven’t felt like puking and/or dying after each one either. And any program that can make me want to run and keep the times I feel like puking to a minimum seems like a good one in my book.

Overall, I’ve really enjoyed disciplining myself to get in shape and am proud of what I’ve accomplished so far. Yesterday was our eleventh run and we ran/walked for 2.4 miles. We are almost halfway through the program and estimate we’ll be running for a full 30 minutes, hopefully at least 3 miles, by early August.

And just to make things a little more ambitious, last night we registered for the St. Jude half marathon in December! If you’re counting, that means in six months I plan on going from a total couch potato to running a half marathon. And yes, you’re free to call me crazy because I definitely feel like I am. However, from what we’ve read and researched, the typical training program for a half marathon is anywhere from 12-17 weeks. It just so happens that race day is exactly 17 weeks from when we plan to be finished with Couch to 5K so we should be right on track.

But we won’t be running alone. We will be running as Heroes {St. Jude’s name for those who want to run and fundraise to raise money for St. Jude} with team Finding my Feet. I’ve been reading Raechel’s blog for awhile and am so excited that she decided to organize a meet-up with her readers centered on such a great cause. So far I think the team is made up of fourteen people, but Calvin and I are the only Memphians. We’re excited about meeting everyone in December and welcoming them to our city! {So if you happen to be a Finding my Feet teammate reading this, let us know if you have any questions about where to stay, where to eat, or what to do other than run while you’re here.} Until race day, we’re going to be virtually training together using Nike+ to keep up with our runs and encourage {and compete} with one another. It should be a lot of fun, and we’re really excited about the challenge, the opportunity to do something great for the kids of St. Jude, and the chance to meet some fellow bloggers.

I’ve added the Finding my Feet team button to the side of our blog that will link to our team’s St. Jude page. St. Jude also gives each Hero participant their own fundraising page, so you can visit Calvin’s and mine as well. Our team goal is $1,000 and we would truly appreciate your support. These kids and their families go through so much and St. Jude provides excellent care to them even if they can’t pay. So if you feel led, we would be so grateful for your support for those sweet kids.

Okay, this post is getting pretty lengthy so I promise I’m wrapping it up, but one more thing before I do. I just want to encourage each of you that you can do something like this too! I’m not saying you have to run a half marathon, but everyone can incorporate some kind of walking/jogging/running program into their exercise routines. I wasn’t kidding when I said I was a couch potato who had never run more than 1.5 miles before. I hated running, got cramps, couldn’t catch my breath, and overall just sucked at it until a month ago. And I still have a long way to go, but if I can do it then you can do it! Couch to 5K makes each run easy enough to stick with it, but challenging enough to burn calories and help get you in shape. And I really do feel better on the days I run. Our bodies were meant to be active and mine was pretty sedentary.

This is a great way to get in shape and stay motivated to stick with it. The app keeps up with everything: it tells you when to walk or jog, maps your route, keeps up with your time and distance, lets you play music, and has a journal for you to log how you feel after each run. Plus once you finish the Couch to 5K program they have a Bridge to 10K version as well. So in just a few months you can go from a couch potato, to running a 5K (3 miles), and then to running a 10K (6 miles). It is super cool and Calvin and I highly recommend it. So if you’re thinking about trying it out, let us know! We’d be happy to answer any questions or just be there to encourage you.

Thanks for sticking with me through this long post, friends. Leave us a comment to let us know if you’ve tried Couch to 5K because we’d love to hear what you think. And if you have any tips on running a half marathon, we’re all ears. Should be an exciting five months!

One year.

29 May

One year ago today I said “I do” to my best friend and became Mrs. Calvin Morris. I thought I could never feel any happier or my heart be more full of love than it was on that day. And even though this is totally cliche, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

After 365 days of living, loving, arguing, apologizing, forgiving, and just walking through life with Calvin, there is no doubt that I love him more today. He knows my faults, my sin, my quirks, what makes me laugh, how to make me chill out when I’m stressed, and so much more. Some people say the first year of marriage is the hardest, but I’m blessed to say that I haven’t felt that way. Granted, I have no other years to compare it to, but I have truly enjoyed our first year as husband and wife. Continue reading

Time Flies

29 Mar

Ten months ago today I married my best friend. Ten months before that, he proposed to me. And five years (or around 60 months) before that we started dating.

The five years thing, I can wrap my head around that. Dating felt like a very long time. Maybe it’s because we were younger and still in school, or maybe it’s because we were counting down until we graduated and could get married. Either way, that felt like a long time.

Continue reading