Laura Rennie

Update on health goals - What I learned (and lost)

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I'll start this off by answering the burning question: No, I did not lose five pounds by July 1st. But, I did lose three! Hooray!


I had several health goals for June, including losing five pounds, eating no more than 3 desserts a week, and exercising 5 times a week. Here's what went well and what didn't:

Limiting desserts wasn't hard. I allowed myself to have one dark chocolate a day, but beyond that I had to weigh whether I'd go for a slice of cheesecake in the evening or something like a bowl of cherries or some popcorn. 

I exercised 5 days a week for three weeks, but last week I only got in three workouts. Some days I walked for 45-60 minutes with Chloe, other days I did 10 minutes of yoga in the morning and 10 minutes of weights in the evening. I would ideally have more of an exercise routine, but I'm happy with how I (mostly) hit my goal and I'm calling it a success.

I kept a food diary for 3 of the 4 weeks. It was really eye-opening and helpful, and I highly recommend it! Week 4 was a bit crazy due to full days and traveling, which is why I slacked on exercising and note-taking. Oh well!

I intended to make three new recipes using vegetables, and I only made two. I tried roasting carrots (which didn't turn out great but I want to try again), and I made a KILLER cauliflower cheese. I roasted the cauliflower instead of steaming or boiling. 

I didn't lose five pounds, so I didn't hit that goal. BUT, three pounds lost is still great!

You could say I was 2/3 for pretty much all of my goals. Early last week I was feeling really down on myself because I had lost three pounds but only had five days to lose two more. Some prayer and a pep talk from a friend reminded me that obsessing about weight loss is NOT healthy, and that I should celebrate my wins instead of focusing on my failures. I decided to stop trying to lose weight and instead focused on maintenance. 

Overall the experience was harder than I expected, but worth the effort. I want to continue exercising frequently and limiting sweets. I'm hoping to lose two more pounds but will mostly focus on weight maintenance and exercise. 

Some of my favorite snacks: cinnamon sugar popcorn cakes, Thai Chili Lime Plentils, carrots with lentil or sweet potato hummus, cherries, and greek yogurt with peanut butter mixed in.

What has helped you reach your health goals? I'd love to know!

Cooking, reading, watching, and listening lately (v.4)

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I'm on week two of my health goals (trying to lose 5 lbs by the end of the month), and so far it's been... eye opening. I'm a little embarrassed by how delusional I was because I kept telling myself I was doing a great job of eating within a healthy amount of calories — but I wasn't counting drinks. Major fail. I usually drink 0-3 alcoholic drinks on average a month, and last week due to three events and one crazy toddler night, I had a total of four drinks. Plus two tall glasses of lemonade. That's a LOT of sugar! But, on a positive note, I only ate two desserts and I completed my five days of moderate exercise for at least 20 minutes. (One day I walked 45 minutes and another day I walked for an hour!)

Here's a little peek into what I've been up to lately...


I rarely order Hello Fresh because of the expense, but I *love* the service and feel zero guilt ordering it for weeks that I know will be super busy. I can get in a bit of a recipe rut and I like that the service has me trying new recipes while still cooking with foods I'm familiar with. Our last box was fantastic — we had Pineapple Poblano Beef Tacos, Mediterranean Salmon w/ Za'atar couscous, and Cauliflower Pancetta Mac & Cheese. YUM. If you want to try Hello Fresh, order it here! (Using that link to order earns me credits.)

Smitten Kitchen's Broccoli Cheddar Soup is on our dinner menu this week, plus lots of salad, fresh corn on the cob, and juicy strawberries. And maybe these incredibly easy and yummy homemade bagels, which I like to smother in Trader Joe's everything bagel seasoning.


I recently re-read Bel Canto and had all the same feels for it that I had the first time. It's a novel about a hostage situation in South America, and I find it absolutely fascinating — and thrilling, and romantic, sad, and also funny. Seriously, all the feels. (Disclaimer: I know people who, like me, loved this book — and others who didn't care for it.)

I also read An American Marriage, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It's a masterfully told story about a marriage affected by the husband's wrongful conviction and incarceration. It hits on racial injustice, love, forgiveness, family ties, friendships, and personal identity. If you're looking for a diverse book pick, try this one!


You better believe I'm watching The Handmaid's Tale: Season Two on Hulu right now! (I wrote about the first season almost exactly a year ago.) It's not any less dark or hard to watch than the first season, but the glimpses of hope and the strength of the characters in desperate and horrific situations make it impossible to resist.

I'm watching Suits whenever I find an extra few minutes (or hours!) and I am LOVING it! I have only heard from ONE person that they loved Suits — is it just me, or is no one talking about this show? Is it like Friday Night Lights and Prison Break, both of which no one appreciated until after they were off the air? I'm totally guilty of starting Suits because of my curiosity regarding Meghan Markle. I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I have. The dialogue is clever but believable and the character development (especially Louis Litt's) is so well done that I often find myself smiling like a total goofball while watching. Seriously, watch it.


Music-wise, I'm almost embarrassingly obsessed with a couple songs right now: Anchor by Novo Amor and Olivia by Canyon City. I listen to both songs probably every day.

I recently started listening to the Coffee + Crumbs podcast, which is produced by a team of women who share the ups and downs of their lives — as women, wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters. Their approach to the podcast is simple — they either interview someone, or the hosts pick a topic to talk about, such as "quiet time," and they each discuss how their family handles it, what's going well, what's not working, etc. I love learning about how families operate, so this podcast is totally up my alley and always leaves me feeling encouraged and enlightened. 

What are you cooking / reading / watching / listening to these days? I'd love to know!

My health goals for summer

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I mentioned in my last post that I'm eager to get back on track when it comes to eating more healthful foods and making time for exercise. I was feeling super frustrated the other day and listed off a bunch of complaints — it's too muggy or rainy to run / I was sick a lot last month so I couldn't exercise / Chloe's waking up so early that now I can't exercise in the morning / I'm too tired to exercise at night — and then decided to call it like it is. I'm making excuses. I'm feeling sorry for myself because I've gained weight. I'm disappointed in my lack of discipline.

But I am *capable.* (My word for 2018.) Here's what I'm aiming for:


- lose the five pounds I somehow gained in May. Yeah. That happened. (Maybe I can blame some of it on antibiotics?) 

- make 3 new recipes for vegetable main or side dishes that both Andy and I enjoy. I'd love your recommendations! 

- eat dessert only 3 nights a week (however, a little dark chocolate doesn't count)


- moderate exercise for at least 20 minutes 5x a week (whether that's lifting weights, yoga, walking — whatever!)

- food diary! I'm not sure if I'm going to consistently count my calories, but I'll at least write down what I eat. 

- share my experience here, of course. 

Here we go!!! I'd LOVE for you to help keep me accountable. Ask me how I'm doing! Share your favorite healthy recipes! Let me know if you're also trying to lose weight/exercise more!

Guess whose husband just brought home chocolate chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream? (Yes, you read that correctly.) Sigh.

Looking back // Looking ahead

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on a dinner cruise IN ITALY! - photo by Sky Becker

on a dinner cruise IN ITALY! - photo by Sky Becker

I started this post at the end of December... and here I am finishing it five months later. It's oddly good timing though, as I've recently been doing a lot of reflecting and goal setting for summer. LET'S DO THIS, shall we?


2017 was a doozy in many regards, but for me personally, it was a good year! I haven't documented much of my life on here lately, so I thought I'd share some of my reflections on the past twelve months and what I'm aiming to do in the months ahead.


I invested in my marriage
We celebrated nine years of marriage this past May. I can't tell you how many times I've had the thought "it's been X amount of years, how do we not have this figured out already?" But now I think, "we've been through a lot of heartache and change together in nine years — we're doing pretty great!" 

(UPDATE: just had our 10th anniversary! What in the what?)

I worked on letting little irritations go instead of voicing them or holding on to resentment. I made a point to brag on Andy to my family and friends and chose to follow any negative thoughts in my head with at least one positive thought or memory. I also prayed for Andy in very specific ways.

Andy has served me by sharing in child care and house work and supporting my social life. He asks me for my opinion and advice and doesn't make decisions without talking them through with me first. He tells me often that I'm a great mom. *Swoon.*

I took care of my body (ish)
I took 40 barre classes over the summer, many of which required me to wake up at 5:20 in the morning. I have never stuck with an exercise class that long. I saw a huge improvement in my strength and physical confidence!

I began taking a daily multivitamin and finally purchased an under-eye repair cream and a wrinkle repair cream for my forehead. I also drank a TON of water each day and cut back to drinking only one cup of coffee most days.

I spent quality time with my girl
I refuse to feel guilty for working part-time, going out with friends, or even spending a night or two away from my daughter. I want to be an example of a woman who has an identity outside of motherhood — someone who gives energy to both her child(ren) and her interests.

I make it a goal to have quality time with Chloe every day, which is usually in the form of a walk. Our neighbor has commented that he admires how we walk even if it's raining or snowing. Sometimes our quality time looks like me setting my phone, book, or to-do list aside and playing play-doh, reading a stack of books, or having a long snuggle on the bed with tickle fights and nursery rhyme singalongs. Little moments of connection matter greatly, but a good 30-60 minutes of TRUE one-on-one time without distractions is good for the soul. 


I want to write for myself again
It has been a long time since I blogged regularly. I need to stop thinking about how no one really cares about what I have to say and start thinking that 1) some people actually do care and 2) I should write for myself, not for others. Writing is a great outlet and something that brings me pleasure. 

(Also, I really want to start a podcast. EEK!)

I want to memorize scripture
I recently bought a small stack of scripture cards that I plan to display one at a time and memorize. I also bought a few for Chloe and look forward to learning the verses with her. I lose my patience more often than I'd like, and when I do the enemy attacks and tell me to give up and that I'm a horrible mama. I want to be prepared to respond with truth! (Ephesians 6:10-18 is top on my list.)

I want to take care of my body
Like a lot of people, I tend to exercise most and eat more healthful foods during warm weather months. I don't have a set plan yet for how I'm going to accomplish my weight loss/healthy eating goals, but stay tuned because I'll (hopefully) share that soon! In the past three weeks I've had two health issues and my period, so eating well and exercising has hardly happened. I follow Amanda Wilson on Instagram and have been really inspired by her approach to healthy eating. She says to enjoy eating out or special occasions with family and friends, but to not use those experiences to purposefully over-indulge (instead, enjoy it but stop eating when you're full). Also, don't use that meal as an excuse to make unhealthy choices all day long — which is something I am soooo guilty of! I could be doing a much better job of taking care of my inward and outward body. I want to be strong, full of nutrients (and burgers and chocolate, too), and be energetic. 

My word for 2018 is "capable." I have LOVED this word and have really embraced it at work, but I could do better about embracing it at home. I am capable of writing! I am capable of memorizing scripture! I am capable of exercising and eating my vegetables! :)

What are some of your goals for this year? I'd love to know!

Cooking, reading, and watching, lately (v.3)

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Why hellooooo! Look at me, blogging! Popping back in to share a few things I've been up to lately. 



Do you ever drive to a destination and once you reach it, wonder how you got there? That's how I feel about cooking lately. I know we eat, but I can never seem to remember *what* we eat. (Which is why I started this post right after trying a new recipe!)

Copycat Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken - this was delicious and really easy! I recommend reading the recipe through at least twice before starting, because you have to make the chili vinegar first, then put the marinade together and wait 30 minutes before cooking. BUT, even with all of that, it was only an hour start to finish and the actual time spent chopping/cooking was less than 15 minutes. It has a slight kick to it from the chili vinegar and pepper, but I would still describe this dish as mild.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup - another yummy, easy dish. I did a few things differently (feel free to ask if you're curious) — the main thing being that I only used ONE large chicken breast. It was more than enough. Overall I stayed true to the recipe and we both liked it a lot!

Mocha Cheesecake Brownies - I lied, I haven't actually baked these lately. BUT they've been on my mind! I made them for the Super Bowl earlier this year and they were a huge hit. If you need something to take to a holiday party, take these! 


I few months ago I went through Instagram, unfollowed a TON of home decor accounts and then began following several accounts encouraging reading (@the_book_darling, @alltheradreads, @anniebjones05 and @diversebooksclub). I use the the little save flag option to save posts that feature books I want to read. (I also have Instagram "boards" for places I want to go, outfits/jewelry I like and recipes I want to try.) 

Books I've read lately: Little Fires Everywhere, At Home in the World and Good Morning, Midnight. I'm almost finished with The Ninth Hour


Now that we have Hulu again, I can finally finish The Mindy Project! I have been straight up guffawing throughout the episodes lately (the Meryl Streep costume party was delightful). It makes me sad that I don't have anyone to talk to about it! What should be my next "girly" show? Felicity? Dawson's Creek? I've never seen a full episode of either!


What are you cooking, reading and watching lately? I'd love to know!

v.1 here // v.2 here

photo by Mary Brunst

Cooking, reading, and watching, lately (v.2)

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I hope your (almost) summer is off to a great start! After a weird stretch of cold and rainy days, we're finally experiencing sun and OH HEY 98 DEGREE WEATHER. One of my favorite things about summer is how my body craves movement and fresh fruits and veggies. I'm going to barre classes 2-3x a week and I feel like a superhero every time I leave class.

Here's a bit of what I've been up to lately...


I've been mostly sticking to quick meals or even throwing random things together and calling it dinner. (Naan pizzas for the win!) We've been eating a lot of salad — this one is our current favorite. It's easy to put together and perfect for serving friends, especially if you're serving someone who doesn't eat meat. You can keep it simple and serve it as a side dish or add protein to turn it into a meal.

Apple, Feta & Pecan Salad
Butter lettuce (or a Spring mix)
Crumbled feta cheese
Diced apple (use 1/2 for two people, a whole apple for 4)
Chopped pecans (or walnuts)
Balsamic dressing (our favorite)
Optional add-ins: dried cherries or cranberries, crumbled bacon, chopped chicken breast

A friend posted about this Korean Beef Bowl and I knew we had to try it. (Plus, I'm a big fan of Chungah's recipes.) IT WAS SOOO GOOD! And she's right — it takes all of 15 minutes to make, if that! 

I also gave this Maple-Glazed Skillet Chicken Breasts With Sweet Potato Hash a try, and despite the fact that I burned the maple glaze so much the smoke alarm went off and I had to throw it out, it was delicious! (I remade the glaze, but with much less syrup since I ran out, and I drizzled it over the chicken and sweet potatoes without reducing it down.) I chopped some of the leftovers up for Chloe and she loved it.


I've been doing a rather fabulous job of setting my laptop aside at night and sinking into the tub with a book. I leave my phone in another room and pour in my favorite bubble bath. It's a much healthier form of "me time" than binging Netflix on the couch with a plate of cookies in my lap (though I do that now and then, too).

I got on the Liane Moriarty train a few months ago, and I'm not getting off anytime soon! I read "Big Little Lies," "What Alice Forgot" and "The Husband's Secret" and I have "Truly, Madly, Deeply" next on my list. Moriarty's books are fun and easy reads, but they're cleverly written. She does a great job of creating a variety of complex female characters and captures the female brain PERFECTLY. (If you're wondering about the content, I'd rate it PG-13.)

Another book I recently finished: "God and Jetfire" by Amy Seek. It's a memoir about a birth mother's experience with open adoption and both regretting her choice while knowing it was the right one. I listened to Seek's essay on the Modern Love podcast last month, bawled the whole way through and immediately checked her book out at the library.

“One afternoon we sat together on my futon and cried, knowing we were crying for our own exclusive concerns, and out of compassion for each other. We were tragically enmeshed; each the source of the other's pain, each the threshold of the other's future. We stood like tired boxers, clinging to each other to stop the beating. I could end her suffering, some of it, but only at my own expense. She was the only one who could see the magnitude of what was happening. She wasn't telling me it was somehow good for me. She knew what was at stake; she was weighing it every moment. We were two pieces in a puzzle that were negotiating the exact shape of the cut that would at once connect and divide us. We were pressing at each other through a curtain to establish the precise profile of our grief.” 

It wasn't an easy book to read, and I found myself torn between being annoyed/frustrated with Amy and feeling sorrow and compassion towards her. Let me know if you read it!

Also, I somehow missed this post on passion when it was published back in February, and I'm so glad I came across it the other day! This is another thing I'd love to discuss with someone... hint hint!


I'm reading more than I'm watching TV these days (ahhhh, it feels good to say that and mean it), but my "me" show of choice right now is Top Chef. I'm re-watching past seasons and loving it just as much as the first time around. I can watch five minutes of it at a time and not feel torn about pausing it.

I'm also watching "The Handmaid's Tale" because the book took my breath away as a teenager and remains one of my favorites of all time, but GUYS. This show is rough. It's a little too much for me to handle — thank goodness for fast-forward. It's not a feel-good show in any way shape or form, but I think it's an important story, now more than ever. The show is really well done, but I'd much prefer to recommend you read the book. (Seriously, read it.)

As a couple, we're watching "Better Call Saul" on TV and "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" on Netflix. Titus Andromedon is my spirit animal. Kimberly! Use your key! I'm Lemonade-ing!


What are you cooking, reading and watching lately? I'd love to know!