Archive | October 2012

Camping Trip

Finally!! Another list item down in the record books.  This past weekend, August and I summoned up the courage to take our wild toddler camping.  I’ve been wanting to do this since last summer, mostly because Ransom has always LOVED to be outside, even as a tiny baby.  Outdoors he is perpetually entertained – Indoors he is often more like a caged beast.

We made the trip as easy as possible by opting for a nearby campground with running water in the bathrooms.  The campground is called Rocky Springs and its part of the Natchez Trace Parkway, which is a National-Park-slash-Road-from-Natchez-to-Nashville.  (albeit a road with a 50mph speed limit and no sign of civilization for the entire 400+miles.  Not even a gas station.)

We pitched the tent without much difficulty.  Ransom was the primary stakeholder.  Har har har. He did great.

Dogs are allowed everywhere on the Natchez Trace, so even Abby got to come along for this trip.  She had a blast too.

We had enough time before dark to check out the nearby trails.  The weather was perfect, just a little crisp but not cold, and the late afternoon sun just peaking through the trees.

The trail is a section of the “Old Trace”.  Something about the geology in that area caused the path to erode quickly under all the traffic, so what’s left is a nice sunken trail.

Here’s a shot by August where he attempted to catch Ransom and I glowing.

Abby got to do some agility training.


The end of the trail brings you to Rocky Springs, a once flourishing town with a population of 2,616.  Now there’s nothing left but a church, two rusty safes, and two cisterns.

The church is really lovely and was in regular use until just two years ago.  Kinda sad that its now a rental space only, but its still lovely.

Ransom spontaneously hugged and kissed this statue out front, twice.

Dinner was something I cooked at home, just warmed over the fire.  MMmm.  Okay not really but it got the job done.

And that’s the last picture I have but the FUN was just beginning.  My worst camping fears came true – Ransom did NOT sleep well.  We all went down around 8:30.  Then there was a minor screaming fit at 11 or so, and then major playtime from 3AM to 4AM.  Kiddo likes it to be DARK and it was not too dark at all thanks to the aforementioned bathroom and its overzealous lighting. But after that we all slept soundly from 4AM to 8AM.

I’m glad we did it, but maybe we’ll wait till next year before we try again.  Ransom had a great time as we knew he would.  We are still talking about the big woods, and the campfire, and the tent, etc etc.

Lose 10 Pounds: So easy, a caveman could do it?

If this were a Disney movie, birds would be singing and small woodland creatures would break out in a choreographed dance in celebration of my latest list item check off:

9. Lose 10 pounds

Yes….I’ve finally gotten down below the target weight I set after stepping on the scale on January first and weighing in at 142 pounds.  I now proudly weigh 131.4 pounds, for a total of 10.6 pounds of total weight loss.  It’s been 10 months since i started trying to lose 10 pounds, so I’m pretty pleased with that progress.  That averages out to being 1 pound a month for 10 months, which feels like a really healthy way to lose weight….and keep it off. When I turned 30 on August 14th, I was down 7.5 pounds, which was still a big achievement, but those last 2.5 pounds were stubborn.  I went through the rest of August, all of September and the first half of October with no further progress, although I was glad to be able to maintain my weight and not backslide.  And then on October 17th, things got exciting again.  I was down a pound on the scale, and two days later, another half pound and then this past Sunday morning when I stepped on the scale, I was a full .6 pounds below my target number.  And boy did it feel great.  Why the sudden drop after almost two months of the same number everyday on the scale?  Let me backtrack.

The first 5 pounds were pretty easy to lose, if fact, I’d lost them about halfway through January.  I started out by getting on a workout program (my training program for my first 1/2 marathon) and by journaling everything I ate in  The workout coupled with simply cutting down on my food intake accounted for the first 5 pounds.  Keeping a list of what you eat is a great tool….no one wants to write down that they ate 6 doughnuts….so you just don’t eat them.  You taper back to one doughnut, and then as you get more serious, you realize, you don’t want any doughnuts, etc.  So that’s what I did.  I didn’t necessarily worry about what I ate, as much as HOW MUCH I ate.  I set my tracker to 1600 calories a day and I was hardcore about not going over that.  After a few months of that, I’d set new routines for myself, and become more educated on how many calories were in various foods, so I stopped writing everything down, because I didn’t need those training wheels anymore.

Besides calorie counting,  I was working out like a beast, as you all know, with lots of running, some swimming and biking, and 3 major races mixed in.  However, muscle weighs more than fat.  So, while I only lost a total of about 2.5 or 3 pounds from February to August 14th, I dropped another pants size or so.  I kept getting leaner and stronger…losing more fat and building muscle and thus the weight loss wasn’t as dramatic as the body change was.  And then I turned thirty.  I was slimmer, more trim, and more in shape but I still wasn’t 10 pounds lighter which had been my original goal.

As you may remember, Keith and I have now been attending bootcamp classes for about a month.  And there I’ve noticed an improvement too in my level of physical fitness.  Our trainer, Maxwell, who we both really like, suggested the Paleo diet as a way to take our healthy lifestyle to a new level.  I’ve always been skeptical of diets.  Atkins, South Beach, and all the rest have always made me suspicious, so I was hesitant about trying this one.  But….after Keith did a little research and then after I did some more on my own, I figured it was worth a shot…especially since Keith was so excited, and it seemed like a great thing to do together.

The Paleo diet is nicknamed “The Caveman Diet” and basically, you can eat whatever a caveman would have eaten….whatever you could hunt or gather.  So lean meats, vegetables and fruits are fair game, as are nuts.  Anything made with flour is off the table (for all you gluten-free folks out there, even rice flour isn’t an option here! The only flour you can use is almond flour, which is just almonds ground to a fine powder.) as is anything processed or anything with lots of sugar.  Dairy is off the table as well, although Keith and I still drink small amounts of milk and use cheese for flavor.  A typical day for me used to consist of waffles for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, tortilla chips for a snack, and some sort of rice or pasta with dinner.  Talk about carbs with a side of carbs with carbs for dessert!  Goodness! Now, a typical day’s worth of meals looks more like the photos below (of actual meals from the past few days).

A healthy salad from Panera Bread…greens, grilled chicken, avocado, tomato and an apple on the side! They even have a special paleo-friendly menu now!

Whole Foods is another “Date night” favorite for us since we’ve started Paleo. Green tea, grilled squash and zucchini, salmon, carrots and broccoli and then strawberries, mushrooms and cucumber for dessert! yummy!

Keith satisfied my craving for something bread-y this morning by making blueberry pancakes with almond flour. Delish!

Grilled tuna steak with homemade mango salsa and steamed spinach was our yummy dinner tonight! Our appetizer was fresh tomato topped with a little olive oil and fresh mozzarella cheese.

It’s not just about the weight loss, although clearly we’re excited about that.  We’ve both been sleeping better at night, have more energy during the day, we don’t “Crash” mid afternoon, our moods are good, etc.  We’re thinking we’ll be hardcore about it for 2 months and then settle back into adding a few things back in from time to time when we feel like it.  (Keith doesn’t miss specific foods…but misses variety since we’re much more limited to what we can have….and I’ve had a hard time giving up breads and black beans).

Anyone out there have any great Paleo-friendly recipes to try?  You know I’ll be posting some!

Thoughts on Thirty

Dear Thirties-

Since I’m officially in my third month of my being thirty, I thought I’d take some time tonight to reflect on how it’s going thus far.

Thirty has brought a sense of confidence that I had no idea I could posses.  Maybe it’s because I have accomplished things over the past ten months that I had no idea I could accomplish, or maybe because it’s given me a reason to pause and think about all I’m thankful for.  Whatever the reason, I’m certain I’ve begun a good chapter.

I turned thirty in Mexico with my amazing husband.  I started a new job six days later.  I sadly haven’t had time to blog much.  Or achieve many list item check offs.  But I feel like I’ve taken the lessons and discipline I learned through all our blog challenges and have let them bleed over into my “new” life.  I feel older!  Not like my back is giving out or my knees hurt (although both of those things sometimes feel true when I go to my boot camp class!) but like my SOUL is older.  Like I’ve grown emotionally and spiritually and intellectually and like I’m finally able to look life in the face and say, “I get you a little more now…and I’m going to roll with whatever you throw my way.”

I ate yogurt tonight with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while and we talked and laughed and teared up at one point.  We both said at that we couldn’t believe how much had happened over the years since we’d met (acquaintances since high-school…friends for six years.)  and as I continue to think about it now as I’m home and typing this blog….So. Much. Has. Happened.  Boyfriends have come and gone, jobs have changed, houses have been purchased, etc. etc.  And it seems like just yesterday we were both discussing whether or not we were “Nashville” enough to purchase skinny jeans and tuck them into our tall boots.  [they just didn’t do that in Mississippi back then…and we were both pretty fresh off the Mississippi boat].

And that’s just one friendship.  I’m so thankful for the girls I hold dear, and I feel like the Lord has blessed me with so many of them.  That’s another thing I feel like thirty has brought with it: a deepening of friendships in several directions….thankfulness for the ones I’ve had for years (exhibit A: Mary-Hall), the blessing of new ones (often from unexpected places), and the renewal and growth of several others.  I constantly stand amazed at the women the Lord chooses to bring into my life; how extraordinary they are in their own right, and how rich life can be when we encourage and walk with one another.

I’ve also lived enough to know that I won’t always be in this season.  Heartache will happen.  All my achievements will pale in the face of disappointments that I won’t seem to be able to overcome.  But I know that the Lord will remind me of how He brought peace, strength and happiness over the past few months and how He will bring that again.

So in closing, you’ve been good to me thus far, thirty, and I’m thankful.  I pray that I will continue to walk in the confidence and peace that I feel at this moment.  And when I fail, or when all does not go my way as I know is bound to happen, may I have the grace to press on, the covering of my Heavenly Father, and the continued love and friendship of those with whom I have community.

Further up & further in,


P.S. In other news, I’m down another pound for a total weight loss of 9 pounds since January 1st! Only one more pound to go until I get to check “loose 10 pounds” off my list.  Keith and I are still doing bootcamp classes together which not only gets our bodies in shape, but has been such a fun experience for us as a married couple to take the class together…encourage each other….watch each other make progress and succeed.

P.S.S.  A shout out on the blog to anyone who can give me the title and author of the book where the quote “further up & further in” is from.  And no Googling…I’m putting you all on the honor system here.

Historical Foto Friday

Well, Friday has come again.  Instead of posting more hilarious old and/or streaking ladies, I thought I would share a couple of old family photos.  I am working on collecting, printing, and ideally framing some old family photos.  Its been on my To-Do list for ages (see list item #19).  I just find them to be so beautiful and interesting and thought-provoking.  So I want to hang up some of my favorites.

So, in the theme of Foto Friday, here’s my great-grandmother Rebie and her aunt Nina.  Although an aunt, Nina was just a few months older.  The photo is titled “Lovers”, by my great-grandma I believe.  Rebie’s mom died when she was 8 months old, so she was raised by her grandma (Nina’s mom).  Thus, the ladies were more like sisters than aunt&niece.

And this next lady is still a bit of a mystery to me.  She’s related to the first two, although probably at least one generation earlier.  MENTAL NOTE TO SELF: This would be the perfect outfit to match that house I showed you guys earlier in the week.

House Hunters – Mississippi Edition

There’s not a whole lot of strictly “list” related activity in my life right now, but there is plenty of “goal oriented” activity.  A major “goal” for the Johnson family is to find a new home.  We’re spending a lot (A LOT) of time scouring the internet for potential places to set up permanent residence.  The search isn’t going all that well right now, but I figured I could share our progress as we go along. After all, that show “House Hunters” is certainly addictive although I kinda wish HGTV would lay off sometimes.

First, here’s our wish list:

  1. 30+ acres, at least.  Many more acres if feasible.  This is Mr Husband’s primary criteria.
  2. A structure to reside in.  This is my primary criteria.
  3. A structure that has some level of architectural character.  Mine too, although now I’m just being picky.  Go ahead, demand the moon too, Mary-Hall!!
  4. A decent school district and a half-decent commute to Mr Husband’s workplace.
  5. Oh and of course we have some financial limitations as well.  i.e. a budget to stick to.

That’s all! Not so hard right? Well actually what we’re after is sort of like the ubiquitous needle/haystack, and I’ve mentally prepared to remain here at Camp Johnson for a while.  And that’s totally fine.

So here is the first place we actually visited.

How does it stack up against our wishlist?

  • Acreage: LOTS
  • Structure: Yes
  • Architectural Character: Negative, my friend.
  • School District: Fine.
  • Commute: Little far, doable though.
  • Budget: A little bit $$, but we also suspect its a tad overpriced.

The land is very pretty.  Big trees, some hills and valleys.  A little creek.  Some mud holes.  Ask my husband about it if you are curious.  I’m the one you ask about the house.

So, what we have here is an approximately 1940-ish structure.  However, along the way it has been hacked quite badly both inside and out.  Windows replaced probably in the sixties.  Vinyl siding.  A glorious red tin roof that looks new-ish.  1200 sq feet.  An ambiguous floor plan a la “Should we make this a dining room or a bedroom?”  The majority of the trim, inside and out, is either missing or has been replaced with something new and cheap.

Ugh a bug people.  We’ve been squinting at it through all sorts of DIY goggles and our verdict is leaning towards no on this one.  We’d have to live in the structure for probably 5 years before we could afford to build, maybe 7.  So, we’d have to put some serious time and not inconsequential investment into making the above 1200 sq ft liveable.  And then at the end, what would we do with it?  There’s a difference between DIY and Money Pit.

Ah well, to amuse myself I made this design mood board to reflect my vision for the space.

  1. Clearly that porch needs rocking chairs.
  2. Without central HVAC, we’re gonna need a selection of toddler-friendly space heaters.
  3. A big red metal chicken to match our red metal roof.
  4. Goats. duh.
  5. Little country child – easy! Already have.


Foto Friday

Its time for another edition of Fabulous Female Friendship Foto Friday. YES!! In lieu of photos of me and Bethany, I’m going through a spell of posting pictures of other people. This series of photos makes me happy and that just feels about right for a Friday.. Here’s last weeks: Old Ladies in the Garden

This one is a postcard I bought on a trip with some of my dearest girlfriends – sadly not including co-author Bethany but instead my other best friend Bethany. Oh to be 19 and roaming the streets of London on $4.50 per day. While wearing a purple ski jacket.

Book Review – Wild

So, here’s proof that I read another book. Another free library e-book in fact. PS now I know the answer about how to check these e-books back in: you don’t. When the checkout period ends, the book just disappears. Poof! I wish more stuff would poof! away from me like that.

The book is “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed.

This book is the author’s memoir of her epic hike on the Pacific Crest Trail in the mid-90s. She walked hundreds of miles from southern California through Oregon, mostly alone, in her early 20s. She had gone through some really rough losses: her mother’s death from cancer, her immediate family imploding, a divorce.. She set out on the trail to heal from all that and re-center herself.

I once read a memoir of two guys hiking the Appalachian trail titled “A Walk in the Woods”. I have to say, there were a lot of parallels. “A Walk in the Woods” is all humor and misadventure. “Wild” is all emotion and internal dialogue and heart-wrenching struggle to overcome the odds. But both are about people walking a very long way, with very heavy packs, and crashing into their tents each night too tired to cook dinner. I believe Mrs Strayed found her walk to be more inspiring and life-changing. The Appalachian Trail guys actually gave up early.

Both books are great reads and both left me itching to go on a big adventure. Probably didn’t help that while reading this, my husband was packing for his annual 10-day hiking/hunting/camping trip so our living room was appropriately full of frame-packs, light-weight sleeping bags, dehydrated food packs, water filters, and on and on. However I’m pretty sure my idea of a big adventure does not include four straight months of walking. Cheryl’s toenails fell off, for heaven’s sakes.

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