Free Range Human

Life Outside The Box


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Yes, Please Pump Me Full Of Hormones!

Did you guys know that today is a very special day?  It’s National Peanut Butter Day!

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I am a huge fan of all things peanut butter, and I happen to believe that there is no better combination in this world than peanut butter and chocolate.  Of course, I had peanut butter in my oatmeal this morning, but, as an additional way to celebrate this momentous occasion, I decided to bake a little this afternoon!

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I ran across the recipe on Pinterest a while ago, and I decided today was the perfect day to use it.  Luckily, I had some questionable brown bananas just begging to be made into bread.

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This smelled amazing while it was cooking!  Unfortunately, I had already promised to make some banana bread for the hospitality room tomorrow night so this loaf was spoken for.  It took all the willpower I had not to dive headlong into it.  If I get any feedback, I’ll let you know how it turns out!

The Big Question

So, if you’ll allow me to switch gears for a moment, I want to talk about a serious issue today.  Before I go any further, if you are my father, stepfather, or father-in-law, you may want to wave goodbye for today and come back tomorrow.  Things may get a wee bit uncomfortable for you!

I told you several months ago that John and I are leaning toward not having a children.  At the very least, we’re not ready to have one anytime soon (do not make a crack about my age!) which obviously means that we have to use some form of birth control.

I’ve been on a birth control pill since I was 18.  Previously, I had irregular periods for years sometimes going as long as 10 months without one.  I had my first OBGYN appointment right after I graduated high school, and my doctor decided the best option was to go on the pill.  Fairly soon after, I started experiencing an amazing amount of hair loss.  I’ll spare you the details, but I shed like crazy!  I mentioned it to my doctor from time to time, but she wasn’t overly helpful with the matter.

About 6 months ago, I started doing research and discovered that the most likely culprit was the birth control.  At my yearly appointment in September, I discussed it with my doctor (a new one!), and we decided to switch the pill I was taking.  Enter the most uncomfortable few months of my life.  I’ve been having headaches, I’ve gained 5lbs., and I feel constantly bloated.  Not to mention the fact that it didn’t even stop the hair loss!  I finally decided I’d had enough, called my doctor, and I’ve sinced started taking a new pill.  It’s too soon to tell if this one is any better.

All of this has led me to do even more research on birth control pills and other methods.  The more I read, the more I become uncomfortable with the idea that I have been putting additional hormones into my body for so long.  I’m just not convinced that there has been enough research to determine the long term effects of those hormones on a woman’s body.  I’ve also heard countless woman say that they feel so much better after having gone off of them.  However, I’m just not sure what my alternatives are.

I highly recommend checking out Caitlin’s series on this topic.  Between her information and the information in the comments section, I’ve learned so much.  I’d also love to hear your thoughts and experiences.  I’ve come to realize you’ve got to be your own health advocate, and knowledge is power people!

What are some of your experiences with birth control?  Have you had negative reactions?


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WIAW: Super Sweet!

Good evening!  I’m finally home after a long night of selling cotton candy.  Does anyone else get the draw of cotton candy?  I know I loved it when I was a kid, but now I can’t imagine wanting to eat it!  It must be a childhood thing.

Speaking of childhood, I heard the most exciting thing yesterday.  Those of you who were children in the early nineties-prepare yourself!  New Kids On The Block are going on tour with 98 degrees and Boyz II Men!  I was literally jumping up and down in bed last night when I heard this.  I was a huge fan of all three groups when I was younger.  I understand this isn’t exactly musical genius, but these three bands were a huge part of my childhood and seeing them in concert would be so much fun.  I’ve already checked the tour schedule, and they’re going to be near me two different times this summer.  You better believe I’m going to do everything in my power to make this happen!

It’s Wednesday and once again time for What I Ate Wednesday.  My eats were a tad bit different today since my schedule was thrown off, but you know some old favorites are bound to make an appearance :).

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No surprise for breakfast.  My regular bowl of oatmeal with an apple, Craisins, and Cookie Butter.  Good news!  This morning I realized it’s just about time to make Oats In A Jar out of the Cookie Butter jar.  I have a feeling this particular OIAJ is going to be oh so good!

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I had to have my usual afternoon snack for lunch instead today.  I knew there would be no time to fix a yogurt bowl before I had to commence with my ballgame duties, and you know I can’t go a day without it!

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I told you guys a few weeks ago about trying the new Pear flavor that Chobani has just come out with.  Another new flavor they’ve debuted is the Banana, and I just might be in love.  This is so delicious, and it’s rapidly climbing the ranks to favorite yogurt flavor!

As I made my way to the ballgame after school, I snacked on an Iced Oatmeal Raisin Luna Bar.  I’ve had this flavor once before, and it’s definitely yummy.  Although I don’t think I’ve ever had a Luna Bar I didn’t like.

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After my first ballgame duty, I decided to grab some supper before heading to the other tournament site.  We have a local restaurant in town that makes a wonderful chicken salad so I picked one to eat at the gym.  This is a staple of mine when I have to grab something quick for dinner.  Usually they do a little bit better job than they did tonight, but I doctored it up with some extras from home and it did the job!

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Yesterday, Meghan was nice enough to nominate me for the Super Sweet Blogger award.  What better day to answer a few questions about some sweet treats than WIAW?

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Super Sweet Questions

1. Cookies or Cake?  I’ll have to go with cookies unless we are talking about cake that came from The Cake Lady.  This is what I affectionately call the woman who made my wedding cake, and she’s the best!  Seriously, my wedding cake was quite possibly the best thing I ever tasted.

2. Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate in most respects, but, if it’s cake, it’s got to be vanilla!

3. What is your favorite sweet treat? You guys know the answer to this.  Ice cream!  I have a lot of new readers so I think it’s time to break out the ice cream rules again!

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4. When do you crave sweet things the most? I try to live life by the 80/20 rule.  80% of the time I eat healthy, and 20% is just junk.  That usually means that I have one day during the weekend in which I don’t think too much about what I’m eating.  I always crave sweets on that day!

5. If you had a sweet nickname, what would it be? I really don’t know!  It would definitely have to have something to do with ice cream 🙂

Ok, friends, I’m going to jump in bed and read a few chapters of Insurgent before I collapse from exhaustion!  Have a great night!

Were you a fan of New Kids On The Block, 98 degrees, or Boyz II Men? Answer some of the super sweet questions!


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I’d Still Have To Pick Erudite

I have to apologize ahead of time because I think my posting schedule may be a little all over the place this week.  I mentioned yesterday that our county tournament is going on this week so things are a bit crazy in my corner of the world!  It’s also kind of exciting though.  There’s something about big tournaments like these.  They just put a festive mood in the air!

So I did manage to pull myself away from Downton Abbey last week long enough to read a new book.  Many of you know that I’m the co-sponsor for the high school book club, and, as our first book after Christmas, the kids picked Divergent by Veronica Roth.  I’ve seen this particular book circulating aroung the blogosphere for awhile, and I’ve heard it compared to The Hunger Games on more than one occassion.  As a huge Hunger Games fan, this peaked my interest, but since I was fully emeshed in finishing the Stephanie Plum novels for the last six months or so, I hadn’t had a chance to peruse it.

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My co-sponser read it first, and kept saying that it took a little while for it to get interesting so I started the book with a little bit of trepidation.  I cannot tell you how wrong she was!  This book caught my attention from the very first page, and had me furiously flipping pages all the way through.

Divergent is a futuristic dystopian story set in what used to be Chicago.  Of course, many moons before our story takes place their was a horrific war, and, in the aftermath, the people decided to break into factions.  Each faction’s purpose is to cultivate a particular virtue.  Here is how the factions breakdown:

Abenegation-selflessness

Dauntless-bravery

Erudite-knowledge

Candor-honesty

Amity-peace

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Everyone must choose the faction they will serve when they turn sixteen.  Our heroine, Beatrice, has to make a difficult decision between staying with her family and becoming the person she feels like she is on the inside all while keeping a dangerous secret.  The book follows Beatrice as she makes her choice and the iniation process that follows.  Of course, everything is not as it seems, and Tris (as she decides to be called) quickly learns that trouble is heading her way.

Divergent ends just as some hidden plans begin to come to light, and I couldn’t wait to get back to work so I could pluck the next book in the series, Insurgent, off the shelves.  If you’re a fan of The Hunger Games or Young Adult literature in general, you will love this book!

Now it’s time to get back to basketball!  Catch you guys tomorrow!

What are you reading lately?


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A Marvelous Recap

Hello, friends!  I missed you over the weekend.  I hope you all had a great one.  We definitely had some fun in the Ford household, and the weekend fun extended through today!  Anyone else have today off for MLK day?

This week my school is hosting the county basketball tournament.  Basketball is a huge deal in this part of the world, and it doesn’t get bigger than the annual county tournament.  Needless to say, the powers that be at school are a little stressed.  I offered to help out by cooking up some goodies for the hospitality room so that’s how I spent my day off!  It’s not a bad way to spend a few hours ;)!

I had a pretty fabulous weekend just hanging out and enjoying the company of my dad, sister, and John.  I thought I’d give you guys a short recap in the form of Marvelous In My Monday!  Thanks to Katie for hosting this link-up.  I don’t participate often because I am rather partial to Friend Makin’ Monday, but, because I was off work and I’m in a wonderful mood, today calls for being marvelous! mimm Marvelous is…………..the fact that Five Guys and McAlester’s Deli has now come to Ft. Smith!  We new they were coming, but I hadn’t heard when they would be finished.  Therefore, John and I were over the moon when the four of us noticed that parking lot full of cars on Saturday.  John is an avid fan of Five Guys so he’s been anxiously waiting this day for many months! IMG_0596 Marvelous is…………….seeing a Saturday afternoon matinee.  We viewed Gangster Squad as planned and it didn’t disappoint.  Could Ryan Gosling be anymore gorgeous?  I also think I’m rapidly developing a girl crush on Emma Stone. IMG_0603 Marvelous is…………..climbing Cavanal with a novice.  Most of my family members have made the trip now, but it was Caite’s first time.  She made it all the way to the top, and I think she realizes why this is such good training for us! IMG_0600 Marvelous is ………Divergent! I finished the book this weekend, and loved it.  I can’t wait to get hold of the second one in the series.

Marvelous is…….this book that I got in the mail last week.  I’ve been wanting to read this one for awhile, and I’ll be diving into as soon as I read Insurgent. IMG_0610 Marvelous is……….all the goodies I’m making today!  I made Caramel Apple Cheesecake bars, chocolate chip cookies, and another pot of Chicken Taco Chili.  I hope the coaches in the hospitality room will be happy.

Marvelous is…………John and I watching a few old Disney movies on ABC Family yesterday.  I love Gus-Gus! IMG_0606

Marvelous is………….not weighing myself.  I stuck to my goal last week, and didn’t step on the scale at all.  It is amazing how much better I feel!

Alright, friends, it’s dinner time!  I hope you’re all having a marvelous Monday!

If you’ve read Divergent, which faction would you be a part of?  What’s your favorite Disney movie?


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5 Things I’ve Learned From Backpacking

Friday is here!  Who’s excited?  I know I am.  Gotta love a three day weekend.  Not to mention, some of my favorite folks are popping in to see me this weekend.  Dad and Caite should be here in just a few hours, and, per usual, I’ve got all kinds of things scheduled!  I think we’re going to hit the movies tomorrow, and see “Gangster Squad”.  We’ve all been wanting to see it for months.  I love Emma Stone, and, well, Ryan Gosling is in it.  ‘Nough said, right?

So I have some sad news I need to get out of the way.  I’m completely caught up with Downton Abbey.  I finished Season 2, and watched both of the new Season 3 episodes last night.  So that means I now have to wait for each new episode every week like everyone else.  I may be going through withdrawals.  Is it too soon to start over?  I have a feeling John is reading this, and screaming “YES!” at the top of his lungs.  Don’t worry, I’ll get him to come around ;).

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Today I want to continue the 5 Things I’ve Learned series.  I started everyone off with a silly one last week, but this week I wanted to touch on a subject that you all know is near and dear to my heart.

5 Things I’ve Learned From Backpacking

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1.  I am so much stronger than I ever imagined.  From time to time, I get labeled as an “outdoorswoman” or “outdoor enthusiast” here in the blog world, and I always have to do a double take to check who they’re talking about.  But it is me!  In my mind, this is an incredible fact.  When I started backpacking and discovered that I am physically capable of climbing mountains and hiking so many miles while carrying a loaded pack, I was astounded.  This fact fills me with more pride than I can tell you.

2.  God is in the mountains.  I understand this is not true of all people, but, for me, I find God there every time.  I feel more connected to my faith in the backcountry than I ever have in a church.

3.  I am mentally tough.  The first thing I learned was that I am physically strong enough to do this, but what is more important and more surprising is that I am mentally tough enough to do it as well.  Many people will tell you that that is as important if not more so than the physical aspect of any kind of endurance feat.  My limits have been tested, and they will be tested far further in the future, but I CAN do it.

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4.  Now I get really irritated when I have to stand in line for a bathroom.  Yes, it’s a little funny, but after spending so much time in the woods, you become very accustomed to, uh, relieving yourself whenever and wherever necessary.  As a result, waiting in line for a bathroom makes me irrationally crabby!

5.  I know what it is to be truly passionate about something.  Before I discovered backpacking, if someone asked me what I liked to do, I could usually only come up with reading.  I didn’t really know what it was like to have a real passion for something-to have that one thing that you love to think about, talk about, and do constantly.  Backpacking has become that passion for me, and no one is more surprised than I am!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

What are you passionate about?


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Puppy Love

Hello, friends!  I hope all of you are looking forward to the weekend as much as I am.  My dad and sister are coming for a visit, and John and I both have Monday off.  Good times!  I think we have plans to head up Cavanal again this weekend.  My sister has never made the trip with us, and she’s ready to give it a go!

Today because it’s Thursday and it’s an all over the place kind of day, I’m going to do an addition of Thursday Thoughts.  Here we go!

1.  I felt like it was Christmas all over again this week went I found this in the mailbox on Monday.  I really look forward to this every month.  Backpacker is my dream magazine to write for.  Backpacker, call me! 🙂

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2. It’s looking more and more like a big change is going to be happening for John and I in the next few months, and I’m beginning to get excited about it!  Sorry to be vague, but I’ll let you know as soon as I can!

3.  I’m in love. That’s all there is to it.

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4. Does anyone have any hair growth tips?  I’d really like to see if I could grow mine a little longer, but it seems as if I have one spot that my hair gets to and it won’t grow any further.

5.  Have you guys checked out the latest information on the Blend Retreat coming up in May?  I want to go desperately!

6.  I’m finally reading another Young Adult novel after quite a bit of time away.  We picked Divergent for our book club at school this month.  It has completely sucked me in already.

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7.  You know I’m a quotes girl, and I thought that, since we bloggers tend to love food a little more than the norm, you all would appreciate this one.

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8.  Remember how I said my goal for Boot Camp this week was to do one set of scorpions without the modification?  Epic fail! Those things are so hard!

9.  I’ll leave with something that always puts a smile on my face.

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Have a great evening everyone!

Have you read Divergent?  Are you going to Blend Retreat?


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Taco Chili & A Downton Obsession

The week is flying by, and it’s already time once again for What I Ate Wednesday!  I’m going to jump right into it because I am halfway through the second season of Downton Abbey, and I have about two hours before John comes home and makes me turn it off!  William just died, Matthew’s in a wheelchair, and I’m not entirely sure I trust this guy claiming to be Patrick.  AH!

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Today started off on a great note because I noticed last night I had an empty peanut butter jar just begging to be used for breakfast!  This time is was regular peanut butter which is quite a change from my usual Peanut Butter & Co. flavors, but it was still so good.  I don’t know what it is about the simple act of switching a bowl for a PB jar, but, guys, this is good.  Try it!

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Lunch was a bit of a treat today.  I had a salad to sneak in some vegetables for the day along with some feta, plantain chips (yummy!), and a drizzle of Caeser Italian dressing.  That was great, but the real winner was the Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili I made for dinner last night.  I had a small bowl with my salad, and it was even better today!  I love how the flavors in chili come together overnight ensuring wonderful leftovers.

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Can I get three cheers for yogurt bowls?  Nothing out of the ordinary in my afternoon snack.  The Pomegranate Chobani has always been one of my favorites, but I’ve really been feeling it lately.  I mixed it up with banana chips, Craisins, and a little Love Grown granola.  Of course, there’s an apple in there too.  Honeycrisps are still making an appearance in my grocery store, and I’m taking full advantage.

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Let’s talk dinner a minute.  Last week Julie decided to declare a Crock Pot Challenge.  She’s determined to try ten new Crock Pot recipes by the end of February, and I decided to join her.  I’ve always loved my Crock Pot, but I’ve never used it for much more than beans.  Julie’s challenge gives me a perfect excuse to be more adventurous with it, and the adventure began last night.  The first recipe I decided to try was Skinnytaste’s Chicken Taco Chili.

Chicken Taco Chili

adapted very slightly from Skinnytaste

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 16 oz. cans of kidney beans
  • 1 8-oz can tomato sauce
  • 12 oz package frozen corn kernels
  • 2 14.5-oz cans Rotel
  • 2T homemade taco seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 20 oz (3-4) boneless skinless chicken tenders
  • cheddar cheese
  • sour cream

Combine first 8 ingredients in your Crock Pot.  Place chicken on top of bean mixture, and turn your crock pot on low for about 9 1/2 hours.  Remove chicken and shred.  Return chicken to Crock Pot and let cook for another 45 minutes.  Ladle into bowls and top with cheese and sour cream to taste.  Enjoy!

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It was delicious!  Like I said, I adapted this very, very slightly from Skinnytaste.  Be sure to check out her original recipe if you’re interested in all of the nutritional information.  This is a great if you’re involved in the Crock Pot Challenge, or just looking for a wonderful cold weather recipe!

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And, finally, a rarity around here-Dessert!  I picked these up at the store last weekend, and I’m almost through the entire box.  They’ve been a perfect after dinner snack, and you better believe I’ll be having another one tonight!

That’s another Wednesday in the books which means the weekend is right around the corner!  Now, I’ve got to run.  Mary is threatening to marry Richard, and I’ve just GOT TO KNOW!  See ya tomorrow!

Who’s your favorite Downton character?  How often do you use your Crock Pot?