Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Fun & Easy Valentine's Day Craft

I spent last Saturday night at home hanging out with Polo and my trusty hot glue gun. It felt so good to be crafty and see my vision for this craft come to fruition. This is a very easy project and can be completed in an hour or less and is the perfect craft to do while hanging out with your love and/or your pup!

What you will need:
1 sheet of red felt
Roll of brown twine/craft jute
hot glue gun
hot glue sticks
3 candles (or however many you want to decorate)
pink, white, and clear glass beads

1. Unravel an arms length of brown twine.
2. Apply hot glue to the candle. Apply it wide enough so that the hot glue will hold 8-9 rows of twine.
3. Wrap the brown twine around the candle. I wrapped it around 8-9 times but you can wrap it around more or less depending on your preference.
4. I drew a heart on cardboard and cut it out and used it as a template for the red felt. I traced the red heart with a pen onto the felt.
5. Cut out the heart from the felt and hot glue it on to the layers of twine.
6. Repeat for as many candles as you want!

That's it! Now you have a super easy Valentine's Day craft!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Spring 2015 Goals

At the beginning of every year I set goals for myself. I enjoy taking time to reflect on where I hope to be in the future and setting goals helps me outline a path forward. In 2015 I hope that I can accomplish some pretty significant goals that will benefit not only myself but also my future family.

Goal #1
I am going back to school in the spring. Although I am only taking one class, I wanted to get a start on taking classes and get a sense for how much of an academic workload I can handle before jumping in to a full class schedule. I hope to do well in this class as I have not been academically challenged since taking a class in 2012. With going back to school, I am anticipating that I will be reading a lot more than I do now. I set a goal for myself to read 25 books this year. This is quite a large goal but I have so many books that I want to read so I know that if I set a goal, the chances of me reading the books on my nightstand will be higher than if I don't set a goal. Right now I am currently reading the American Sniper.

Goal #2
I am taking the GRE in a few weeks and would like to get a decent score so that I can apply to a Ph.D program in the fall. I am not the best test-taker so to say I am nervous is an understatement.

Goal #3
Over the past couple of months, my fitness goals have taken a backseat due to cold weather and the holidays. I am looking forward to trying out the new GoQii Band and App. Equipped with personal coaching and the ability to earn "karma" points to help worthy causes, I hope to get motivated to train for a half marathon and be encouraged to be more active. Join the GoQii beta program along with me! I am looking forward to being motivated by a personal coach to specifically help me with nutrition goals and with working up endurance and stamina to be able to run 13.1 miles again.

Goal #4
Try new things. I love new adventures and I find myself eager to learn and explore activities that I have never tried before. I am interested in taking a cake baking class at Michaels or even signing up for a sewing class so I can learn to make quilts. Signing up for Crossfit has popped in my head as a new activity to try although I am hesitant because I hear that it can be really rough on your body and I don't want to get hurt if I plan to run a half marathon in the spring. I have even thought about getting a tattoo to document my newfound strength and pride in how far I have come over the past couple of months. There are so many new things to try and afterall, I am feeling rather brave these days.
What are your goals for 2015?

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of GOQii.

Friday, January 30, 2015

5 Coping Mechanisms That Help With Loss

Thank you for your sweet comments and emails in response to my last post. It took a lot of courage to write out my feelings about what I have been dealing with over the past few months and I greatly appreciate your support.

Others have reached out to share their experiences with separation and divorce and some have also asked me questions about how I have coped with the overwhelming feelings that come with separating from a spouse...or let's be honest...any break up. Breaking up is not easy; regardless of your status. Whether you're dating, engaged, or married, breaking up is still a loss. It can be anxiety inducing, scary because it creates self-doubt and questioning, and causes a drastic shift in your day to day routine.

While going through my separation, I have found that staying busy has helped me overcome feelings of loneliness and loss. I spend a great amount of time with close friends and family and although I am staying busy, I think it is important to allow myself to feel and not ignore the roller coaster of emotions that come from such a loss. I am lucky to have special people in my life who have supported and encouraged me every step of the way through this process and continue to be there for me now as this journey is far from over.

As easy as it is to blame D, I know that I too played a part in the deterioration of our marriage. I want to heal and learn from my mistakes so that I can become a better person and a better partner. I am taking time to reflect, learn, and try to understand where I went wrong so I can improve myself. I have found that one of the reasons I was so unhappy in my marriage is because I lost who I was. I abandoned my interests and goals because I didn't feel that I had the support to accomplish them. I changed my interests to reflect what D wanted out of my strong desire to keep the peace so to speak. What I didn't realize at the time is that by not speaking my mind or sharing how I was feeling, I was allowing myself to be treated in a way that was unhealthy. Many times I felt that I was just "accepting" the person that I had married. Now that I am separated and going through a divorce, I find myself re-establishing interests, rekindling friendships, and pursuing my goal of going back to school.  I am also no longer afraid to speak my mind regardless of the consequences. In so many ways, I am free to be me again.

At first I felt lost. But relieved. But overwhelmed. Yet free. So many feelings. So much free time to do whatever I wanted. What would I do with all the time I now had on my hands? When I am not at work or socializing with friends, I needed to find coping mechanisms to help me pass the time while I go through the divorce process. Besides my support system, here are some ways that I have been coping.

1. Technology. My iPhone (yes, I am back from my hiatus) served as a great distraction during sleepless nights and lonely times. Texting those I am closest to has provided support and comfort in times of stress and uncertainty. Instagram and Snapchat have distracted me for hours; especially late at night when I couldn't sleep. Quotes that I have found on IG have lifted my spirits, validated my feelings, and inspired me to keep going. Photos on IG have given me hope that I can be happy with a little family of my own one day. Snapchat helped me feel connected to friends who were not able to get together with me on the daily but allowed us the ability to still converse and see each other over snapchat videos.

2. Shopping. I love to shop, specifically for clothes, shoes, and accessories. I like clothes a lot and enjoy wearing cute outfits. My desire to wear cute outfits probably comes from my mom always dressing me in pretty clothes while growing up. The prettier the dress, the better. During my marriage, shopping for clothes, shoes, and accessories was often frowned upon if they were not needed. Now that I am on my own again, I can now buy cute clothes again.

3. Music. Often times a quiet house can be depressing yet I am not in the mood to have the television on all the time. I have turned to music to help me sort my feelings, put me in a good mood, encourage me to be active, and motivate to dance around my apartment. I have turned to artists such as but not limited to Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, and Carrie Underwood.

4. Fitness. Working out on a regular basis helps release serotonin from the brain which makes me feel better.

5. Reading. As I mentioned above, I am motivated to learn about why my marriage did not work so that I can prevent it from happening again. One of the ways that I am learning about aspects of my marriage that were detrimental to my happiness is by reading blogs, books, and peer reviewed articles about topics that I believe to have been the culprit. I am also reading the American Sniper and I just started Still Alice.

These are just a few ways that I have been coping with the loss of my marriage. What has helped you cope with a loss?

Friday, January 23, 2015

My Separation

***This post is something that I have been working on for some time. It may be fragmented or disjointed. It may read strange to you. That is okay. I am sharing this personal information with you in hopes that I can be helpful to others who may be in the same position that I have been in and don't know if they can take a huge step forward to improve their lives. This post is in no way an effort to talk badly about D or a cry for empathy. My goal for this post is to share what has been going on in my life as many of you have emailed me and asked me where I have been since I am no longer on Facebook, I have been lackluster at best on Twitter, and I haven't been blogging much at all. Lastly, I feel like this post is the symbolic end to a chapter in my past; specifically in regard to my blog.***

Whenever I find the motivation or strength to write about this aspect of my life, I get side tracked or find myself at a loss for words. How do I articulate the biggest challenge and struggle I have ever had to go through in my life? How can I possibly convey in words what I am feeling about this topic and how unhappy I was for so long? What I am prepared to share with you has taken a lot of self-reflection and months of healing. Now that I am a couple of months into this chapter of my life, talking about it is somewhat therapeutic.

In November 2014, I separated from my husband D. There are many posts throughout Hiya Luv about my relationship with D and our marriage. As Hiya Luv has always been my little place on the internet to share my life, stories, experiences, goals, hopes, dreams, material wants, etc., I thought it was important to share this challenge as it is quite a significant part of my life and I am only a better person because of it.

To be honest I am not sure where things started to go wrong but they did and without even realizing it, I began to pull away. I began to invest my time and energy into other aspects of my life so as to maybe find happiness in other ways or even just escape the turmoil that I was experiencing at home.

I walked away knowing that I gave my all. I tried to work things out. I wanted to fix our marriage. For a long time, I hid that there were even issues. I was ashamed. It took time, reflection, and great friendships to help me realize that I deserved better. I deserved to be happy and that I could be happy if I made changes in my life and took steps to move forward.
I never dreamed of being in this position. For quite some time I even fought the idea. In some ways I felt like I was a failure if I "gave up" on my marriage. A special person in my life was able to point out to me that I wasn't a failure because my marriage didn't work. After hearing that, my perspective totally changed. It comes down to me wanting different things than D. It comes down to me needing to be loved in a way that he could not love me. I don't feel like I gave up. I feel like I grew up. I became stronger in knowing who I am and what I want. I am a different person than I was a few years ago; or even last year...shoot even 2 months ago! I am better. Stronger. Resilient. Confident in what I want for my life. Confident in who I am and in the decisions I am making for myself. I am free. I am happy. I am proud of what I have overcome and am really looking forward to what lies ahead.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Sno-Cap Butterscotch Cookie Recipe

I tend to crave sweets on chilly evenings in the winter. Last night, I was craving cookies and decided to whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies except I went to my pantry to find that I didn't have any chocolate chips. I did however have less than 1/4 of a cup of butterscotch chips, a box of sno-caps, and a handful of Reese's peanut butter cups. All three are delicious and I thought "why not try them all together in a candy bar cookie?"

My Saturday evening turned into experimenting with cookie dough ingredients. I substituted 1 large egg for 1/4 cup of vegetable oil. I also added cream cheese to the cookie recipe. Lately I have been adding a bit of cream cheese to my cookie dough. It adds flavor and texture to the cookies. The key to the cookie dough recipe that I am about to share, is that you need to let the dough chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before baking. This is very important! If you don't let the dough chill, the dough will spread out and not bake as well.

Candy Bar Cookie Recipe

1/4th block of Philadelphia Cream Cheese (regular, not fat-free or light)
1 stick of unsalted butter
1/4 cup of butterscotch morsels
1 box of Sno-Caps refrigerated
8 Reeses Mini Peanut Butter Cups
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup of vegetable oil (or 1 large egg)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened butter and cream cheese for 1 minute on medium speed until creamy. (I used my Kitchen-Aid mixer with the paddle attachment.) I also put the butter and cream cheese in a small bowl and microwaved it for 30 seconds to soften before mixing them together.
2. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and mix on medium speed until light in color and fluffy in texture.

3. Mix in the vegetable oil (or large egg) and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
4. In a separate large bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda.
5. On low speed, slowly mix in the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients.
6. Put dough to the side. Cut up the Reese's Peanut Butter cups into 4 small pieces.

7. Add the box of sno-caps, butterscotch morsels, and cut up peanut butter cups to the cookie dough. Mix on low speed until combined well with the cookie dough.

8. Using a spoon, scoop out cookie dough and roll into a ball. Place on a plate or cookie sheet.
9. Chill cookie dough for 1 hour minimum and up to 2 days. (Make more than you want to bake? You can freeze the cookie dough for 30 days.) It is mandatory that you chill this dough before baking it.
10. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 8-9 minutes. The cookies will still be soft but they will set while cooling.

11. Pour a glass of milk and enjoy!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Love in Shoe Form

There are many advantages to working at a university; one of which is getting a generous amount of time off around the holidays. In the past I have spent the week after the holidays in Orlando or Las Vegas with friends or in Ohio with family. This year I had no such plans and thus have had a week off to myself.

At first the idea of a week with no plans felt daunting and I wasn't sure how I was going to fill 168 hours of free time. One can only sleep so much. I spent the first day of my staycation cleaning and doing laundry for most of the day. Meanwhile I brainstormed a list of things that I wanted to do on my week off. Shop, craft for Valentine's Day, hang out with friends, go to the movies, watch football til 1am, and eat lots of delicious food are all things that came to mind.

Sunday evening I put on a cute outfit with my brand new, Tory Burch flats that I've been lusting over for years (view previous posts here, here, and here) and took myself to the movies. I saw the movie WILD with Reese Witherspoon. What a liberating film!

The movie was great but the star of the evening was my Tory Burch flats. The soft leather felt so good against my toes and made me feel like I was walking on clouds.

I kept looking at my feet throughout the movie and smiling at my new shoes. Perhaps I am silly.  Perhaps I am crazy. Perhaps I am in love with my new shoes. If you have a pair of Tory Burch flats, you understand my love affair with these shoes.

If you don't own a pair, you should. Tory Burch flats are love in shoe form. Not to mention they are a classic staple that will go with everything in your closet.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Piyo on the go & Asics Gel-Fit Sana Review

In the past, while traveling for the holidays, I would pack up my running shoes and clothes before packing anything else. I love that about running; you can work out anywhere. After awhile though I realized that although I was running several days a week and my endurance was great, I was weak in many areas such as but limited to upper body strength. Over the past six months, I have made some adjustments, both personally, which I will write about another time, and with my workouts.
I have certainly not stopped running; but I only do so about 2-3 times a week now. When I am not running, I really enjoy doing piyo with Chalene Johnson from the comfort of home. My favorite piyo workouts are Buns, Sweat, or Drench and I prefer to do them in shoes although you certainly do not have to. I find that when I do piyo barefoot, I slip around and lose my stability with some of the moves.
I was thrilled when given the opportunity to try out the Asics Gel-Fit Sana active athletic shoe because I had been looking for a new shoe to wear during piyo workouts. I had been wearing my running shoes but found that I was stretching out my shoes during piyo and not feeling as much support while running.

As described by the Asics America website:

The GEL-Fit Sana™ features a Flexible Fit system with flexible support bands from heel to forefoot, to provide adaptable support in designated areas. Designed with a stretchable mesh upper and MONO-SOCK® upper construction, it gives a sock-like fit and feel that makes for a secured comfortable wear. A smooth inner lining and lightweight, low-profile midsole gives this GEL-Fit Sana™ a barefoot-like sensation and an overall customized fit. Weight: 5.6 oz.
Asics Gel-Fit Sana Specifications along with my thoughts:
*MONO-SOCK® Fit System which is an elastic internal sleeve that replaces a traditional tongue providing a "sock-like" fit. I prefer to wear socks with my shoes because I am afraid I will get blisters. I did find that my favorite athletic socks were a bit snug in these shoes but I was able to work out in comfort. I did notice that the tongue of the shoe was different that my other athletic training shoes in flexibility. The tops of my feet have a tendency to get sore after working out but I was pleasantly surprised that these shoes did not cause soreness and I would attribute that to the Mono-Sock fit system.
*Rearfoot GEL® Cushioning System attenuates shock during impact phase and allows for a smooth transition to midstance. I did notice that these shoes provided support and grip in some of the more challenging piyo moves that running shoes do not. For example, the abduction plank requires strength and balance and it is really helpful to have good gripping shoes so you don't slip.
Fit: I wear a size 7 and find that these shoes fit true to size. However with that said, if you are the kind of person who likes to wear thick athletic socks to work out, I would suggest getting a half size up.
What is your favorite fitness activity?
This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of ASICS.

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