new blog name

I thought of something lying in bed last night and decided to change the name of my blog. I still think “Because Nice Matters” – it really does. But, my blog isn’t always about being nice. So, I thought I would change it to something that really encompasses what I write about. Ya’ll let me know if I’m off my rocker!


learned something new today!

I learned how to bend wire and make jewelry today during a class at Chestnut Creek School of the Arts. It was a fun class that I took with my friend (the one that does the tooth fairy pillows). The neatest thing I learned was that you hold the wire with your tools and move your other hand…I had been doing it the wrong way when I tried to bend the wire on my own. I probably could have learned to do this by watching online videos, but there was a certain appeal about taking a class with a lady whose been making jewelry and teaching for years. She was a neat instructor.

The three little things I created in the 3 hour class. So fun!

The three little things I created in the 3 hour class. So fun!

I’ve found myself with free time lately after I put my son to bed at night (thanks to my blessing of a husband who keeps our home spotless and saves me LOTS of work), so I will have time to practice my new skills. My plan is to make some neat pieces and give them away as gifts; and perhaps even sell some if I get good enough.

Next up? Learning how to play the banjo (something I’ve wanted to do for years!).

OH! And I learned something else new today – how to use the Pampered Chef apple peeler. I tried to use when I made apple butter and couldn’t figure it out. Should’ve known there was a youtube video for that! Second batch of apple butter coming up soon.

mandy’s top 10 ways to stay “exercisingly” motivated

I just finished a 10 x 10 workout that’s kick butt. My goal this fall/winter is to do more strength training since I feel burnt out on running and the same old triathlon training.

I’ve been working out regularly for 9 years and I’ve only missed a few weeks during that whole time span (due to illness or recovering from childbirth). I’ve come to find that these are the 10 things that keep me motivated to exercise and stay healthy:

  1. Feeling Good – I promise that once you get into an exercise routine, you will feel much better than you do just being a couch potato. It may take a few weeks or even a month to feel better (you may even feel worse to start), but after you get into the HABIT of working out a few times a week, you’ll be addicted. It makes me sleep like a baby at night.
  2. Looking Good – Now, I’m not saying I’m fitness model material, but I’m 5’7″ and a healthy weight of around 150. Having muscle tone makes me see the fruits of my exercise labors. I need to say here that it doesn’t matter what your size is, but you will look better if you break a sweat on a routine basis!
  3. 0911-workout-clothesWorkout Clothes – I like fitted, breathable workout clothes. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on expensive brands, either. There’s a good selection of workout clothes at places like Wal-Mart and Target. I’ve had some of my same pieces for nine years! When I’m dressed in something besides and old, baggy t-shirt and shorts that are too big, I just feel more like a real fitness person (and it makes me perform better).
  4. Music – Find the music you like and listen to it while you exercise. I don’t have an iPod, so I just listen to what’s playing at the gym. I do find that when I run outside, though, I don’t listen to music, but the nature sounds instead. When I run or ride on the road, I pay attention to the sounds around me to be more aware (and safe). There are lots of studies that show much music can boost your workout performance.
  5. Variety – I actually enjoy exercise and I vary it so I don’t get bored. For example, I normally swim, bike, or run but yesterday, I felt like taking a brisk walk through the woods…so that’s what I did. You don’t have to run 5 miles to get a good workout. Just chase your kids or dog around in the yard. If you find you’re bored, for Pete’s sake, Google something and find a new workout or sport.
  6. Competition – Yep, I’m a bit competitive and signing up for events helps me have a goal to work toward. For example, 5k or 10k races, sprint triathlons, or fun walks are all good ideas and they are ALL over the place ALL the time. Try for examples of events in your area.
  7. Friends – Hang out with like-minded people or be “friends” with them on social media sites. I have found some really cool workouts on Pinterest (and I don’t even Pin that much). They can help you stay motivated and you can swap ideas.
  8. Kim-Dolan-Leto-Fitness-Magazine-Cover-e1361635784313Media – I have a subscription to Fitness Magazine (cheap, but loaded with exercise ideas and health tips) and I pick up other magazines that folks bring to the gym where I work. It’s amazing the neat stuff you can find in magazines. I rip out the pages and add them to my workout binder.
  9. Family – My son is almost 20 months old and I want to be a fit mom for him. I want to be able to keep up with his constant movement and also be a positive role model to him as he grows. I want him to be proud that I’m his mom. Same goes for my husband – I want him to point me out in a crowd and say “That’s my wife – doesn’t she look good/healthy?”. Maybe that’s vain, but he didn’t marry an unhealthy chick!
  10. acepersonaltrainerProfession – About a year ago, I decided to change jobs, going from an IT/sales professional to a personal trainer. I work at a gym where I can exercise a few times a week on the clock and help people by creating workouts and motivating them. I know this isn’t a luxury for everyone, but if you’re passionate about it, think about making the career change. It’s been a positive change for me. Oh, and hire a personal trainer if you need to – we’re worth the money!
  11. BONUS TIP: Blogging – HA! If I didn’t workout, I wouldn’t have a very interesting blog. Fitness is such a big part of my life now and I want to share all the tips and tricks I can! Maybe that would work for you, too.

My final thought for this fine Friday is something I just read in the July/August 2013 issue of Women’s Health magazine:

Research suggests that extroverted, open-minded people also have a higher aerobic capacity, meaning they can go harder for a longer period of time. It could help explain why these same traits are linked to better health and longer life, note researchers in the journal PLOS ONE. Quiet types have equal potential but may need to focus on their attitude toward exercise, not just the workout itself, say study authors.

I’m fortunate because I’m one of those “extroverted, open-minded people” they mention in the article (if you’ve not yet gathered that).

apple butter success

I’ve never made apple butter and I’ve never canned anything…until now! I blogged a while back about the apple tree beside our house that is loaded with ripe, fresh, “organic” fruit and I wanted to try my hand at apple butter. It turned out really well. I brought a jar to give to my mom this morning and it sealed on the way – I was so tickled! If you’ve never heard a canning jar seal, it’s an unmistakable “swhoop” noise. Very neat! If you like apple butter, try out this recipe.

I was feeling frisky last night (not that type of frisky), so I got out my bike and made a round on our homemade cyclocross course. It’s hard! My father in law was nice enough to bushhog us a path through the field so my husband and I can practice before our race in October. I forgot how challenging it is to ride a bike through a grassy field and the woods. I never mountain bike, so it’s mentally and coordinately difficult for me. I only ended up with one bruise where my pedal whacked me in the back of the calf.

Tomorrow, I’m excited to go pick up my chickens from a local farm that raises organic, hormone-free meat. It will be about an hour drive each way, but it’s a pretty drive and it will give me time to just chill out and let my mind wander. Sunday, I’m taking a wire bending jewelry class and hopefully seeing a high school friend for a few hours while letting our sons play. Cheers to the weekend!

good morning workout

Got up this morning at 4:30 with my husband, had my cup of joe and my breakfast smoothie, then got to work at 5:50. Then, I tortured my 6:15 Morning Mix class with this workout:

Workout courtesy of Daily Dose of Fit

Workout courtesy of Daily Dose of Fit

We started with a quick warm up on the BOSU then lit into the hard work (if you don’t have a BOSU, use a step). Let me tell you, those jump squats kick butt, especially after doing a squat hold for 30 seconds. On the third circuit, I didn’t know what “kickouts” were, so we did flutter kicks while lying on our backs (30 seconds). We repeated each circuit 3 times, then had a one minute break between each set. I’m going to be sore tomorrow.

After the class, I saw the sky was glowing pink, so I stepped out and took in the gorgeous sunrise. I took a picture, but my dinky phone camera didn’t do it enough justice to post here.

Last night, I made venison (deer meat) meatloaf and a fall vegetable hash. Very good, healthy dinner!

Fall Vegetable Hash (from Southern Living Magazine)

  • 4 thick bacon slices
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium-size sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 medium-size sweet potato (about 10 oz.), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 medium turnips (about 12 oz.), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (I didn’t have this so I used white vinegar – worked just fine)
  • 1 pound small fresh Brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced


  1. Cook bacon in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon; drain, reserving 2 Tbsp. drippings in skillet. Coarsely chop bacon.
  2. Add oil to hot drippings in skillet. Cook onion and sweet potato in hot oil and drippings over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add turnips; cook, stirring occasionally, 8 minutes.
  3. Combine vinegar and 2 Tbsp. water. Add Brussels sprouts, garlic, and vinegar mixture to skillet. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in bacon; add salt and pepper to taste.
Yum yum! Give me some!

Yum yum! Give me some!

seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years

I had a completely random thought today while lifeguarding 4th graders in the pool (YES, I WAS paying attention!). I don’t even remember what triggered it, but my thought was “All the hard stuff has already been done.” Can you imagine living before there were measurements of time? It almost seems unfathomable.

I give kudos to whomever decided it was time (pun intended) to break up time into seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years. I mean, just think of the chaos that would be if we couldn’t say “See you next Tuesday at 9 am”. It’s kind of liking thinking what happened before people had names. Very strange.

There’s my random rambling for this Tuesday, September 24, 2013.

getting ready for cyclocross

A few years ago, I competed in a couple of cyclocross races. Let me tell you, it’s mostly a man’s event. I was one of maybe three women that competed those days (two Saturdays in October), but I won the coolest trophies! They were hand made things and I was so proud. If you’ve never done cyclocross, it’s very intense. The course is normally made up of grass, mud, gravel, and you have to jump off your bike and take it over small obstacles. There was even a part that went through the woods. You go around as many times as you can in 30 or 45 minutes (depending on how much pain you want). I honestly think that short amount of time is harder than an entire triathlon.

I started digging around trying to find out if they are doing those races again this year and they are going to do a one day race as part of a big outdoor festival. I’m excited! I can’t say I’ve trained, but I have several weeks to practice (which will probably consist of riding my bike through the field a couple of times). My husband even says he’s going to do it! I think the whole festival will be fun.

Here are some pictures a guy took of me back in 2010 – I look like such a goof ball! The entire collection can be found at!i=1061954322&k=X7RxtD5