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Snapshots from a happy life

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve posted a Snapshots blog post. The last one was way back in July. And yeah – it’s been over a month since I’ve blogged. That was an unintentional break. It’s just been so darn busy, I haven’t had the time. Of course, life is stressful, but there’s a lot of good stuff going on, so I figured maybe it’s time to revive these Snapshots posts, especially since I’m actually doing an iphone photo a day project for 2016. Here are some highlights of my life, lately.

OK. January. It snowed! It was only Zachary’s second time (maybe) seeing snow fall, but the first time for William, and it was very exciting.

Fitness-wise, we had our Peak Performance Week at Orangetheory in January, and I held the longest plank of any female in my age group – 6:10. Yeah, I’ve done it longer at home, but it had honestly been a while since I had practiced. I was very proud of myself for winning this awesome challenge.

I also went on my first bike ride in three months in January. It had been a tough winter, and this was the first warm weekend we’d had in a while. I took advantage of it and asked my friend Evan to ride with me at the Silver Comet Trail. We put down 40 miles, which is also my longest ride to date. Had a great time, and can’t wait to do it again!

During a weightlifting clinic in February, I finally reached a goal of chest pressing 40lb dumbbells. I had a spotter the first couple times I did it, but I just did it again last week and was able to do it without a spot. It feels amazing to get stronger!

The boys got haircuts!

Scenes from a chilly bike ride at the Big Creek Greenway in Alpharetta. I’d been wanting to get a better version of this shot and was quite pleased with this result.

On February 21st, I completed the “Always” 3.94mi run in honor of one of my favorite actors, Alan Rickman, who brilliantly portrayed the character of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films. I ended up finishing it up for an even 4mi, which is the longest distance that I’ve run since last January. I’m itching to get out for another longer run again soon and am thrilled that temperatures are starting to warm up!

Another selfie after a 20.2mi bike ride about a week ago. This was a beautiful morning but filled with crazy headwinds and crosswinds. I was quite proud of myself after this ride, because I saw that my average speed was higher than usual, despite the insane winds. Made me happy to see that progress is being made!

March brought with it true signs of springtime, finally! Some of the daffodils in my front yard are in full bloom now. We were so excited to notice them the other day! More are blooming every day!

Will had a playdate at the park the other day and he was so excited to be on the big boy swing for the first time. I’m thrilled to have captured this absolutely ecstatic look upon his face!

That’s all for now. I do have some more to share, but I will save it for other posts.

KimMarch 8, 2016 - 12:35 pm

Awww, Karen! I love seeing how happy you are and how you keep growing and changing and trying new things and finding new passions over the years. Just had to comment. All the best from Peru :)

karen lisaMarch 9, 2016 - 8:48 am

Kim! Oh, thank you so much! Same to you! Love following your adventures! <3

13 years.

I wrote this on Facebook on January 28th – the 30th anniversary since the Challenger disaster and NASA’s official Day of Remembrance for the three tragedies that occurred at the end of January and beginning of February. However, today, February 1st, is the 13th anniversary of the loss of the shuttle Columbia and I wanted to make sure this was posted to my blog, too. Please take a moment to read it.

Everyone is sharing pictures of the Challenger explosion today. It’s hard to believe that 30 years have passed since this horrible tragedy in our space program’s history.

I found this article on Ars Technica that commemorates all three of NASA’s worst disasters: Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia, which are clustered together during a five-day period at the end of January and beginning of February. Today, January 28th is NASA’s official Day of Remembrance for these terrible incidents.

While I was not alive for Apollo, and was too young to remember the Challenger tragedy, Columbia is the one that hits home for me. I dread February 1st a little every year when I remember what’s coming, and might not post anything that day… So I’m going to make my post now.

I will always remember going to see the shuttle launch on a truly beautiful, cool morning on January 16, 2003 with Adrian. It was a nice drive from Gainesville to our favorite Titusville viewing spot behind the McDonalds next to the apartment buildings up on the water. We went inside to get milkshakes and took our spot on the little dock. You locals will know exactly where I’m referring to…

We were so excited about the mission and the international crew, which included Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon. It was a beautiful and successful launch. Seeing a space shuttle launch was always one of the most exhilarating things ever. I am incredibly lucky to have seen several launches, and the magnitude of it fills you with indescribable emotion.

The image below is probably the only image I have of when I saw the launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia. I don’t have a clear one without the text – which I probably added to stick on my LiveJournal or blog back in 2003 after I got the film developed.

In Memory of Space Shuttle Columbia

Imagine our shock to wake up 2 weeks later on the morning of February 1st to hear that Columbia had broken up upon entering Earth’s atmosphere. Adrian & I were heartbroken and horrified.

Today, honor the memory of the Challenger astronauts, those lost in the Apollo 1 accident, and the astronauts who were aboard Columbia. These astronauts sacrificed their lives in the name of scientific discovery, exploration, and the hope that maybe we aren’t the only ones out here floating in the middle of space on a “pale blue dot.”

“Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand. Our journey into space will go on.” George W. Bush

A screenshot from my computer on February 1st 2003:

Screen Shot from February 1, 2003 - Shuttle Columbia disaster



Recipe: Chocolate-chip Banana Protein Muffins

For a while now, I’ve been wanting to make some protein muffins that I can eat before I workout, or have later in the day as a yummy snack when I want something sweet but not really bad for me. I usually don’t have a huge appetite in the morning, especially when I’m getting up for those crack-of-dawn sessions, but I would like to get something relatively healthy in me that will give me some energy to not fade out by the time I finish my cardio and hit the weight room.

This recipe is simple and very easy. The muffins come out perfect, moist, and delicious, and they definitely do not taste like cardboard. No, they’re not paleo, because I’m a girl who likes her carbs and definitely don’t mind having some extra carbs to keep me going in the morning when I’m heading into a tough workout.

Chocolate Chip Banana Protein Muffins © BrightAutumnSun.com


  • 4 small ripe bananas mashed
  • 1/3 cup virgin coconut oil (room temperature and packed, like butter, not melted)
  • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar (found this at Target, it is darker and gives a richer taste to your baked goods)
  • 1.5 heaping scoops protein powder (vanilla is probably best, but I used pumpkin spice protein by Max Muscle, since that’s what I have. You don’t taste it much.)
  • 1 egg
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1.5 cups flour (I used organic all-purpose, but you could easily substitute with oat flour or whatever you want)
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (basically, one Chobani Greek yogurt single serving cup)
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix mashed banana with coconut oil, egg, sugar, and vanilla.
  • Add protein powder and mix until fully combined.
  • Next, sprinkle on a dash of salt and add baking soda and flour. Stir until combined.
  • Then, stir in the Greek yogurt.
  • Finally, add and gently fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Bake at 350F for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (it was about 17.5 minutes for me)

This makes about 18 muffins. Personally, I did 12 more-than-half-filled muffins and 3 mini-loaves.

If you don’t like chocolate chips (you crazy person), you could easily add nuts, or blueberries, or probably anything you want. Please don’t add raisins, because raisins are disgusting – LOL. This recipe is really adaptable. I am going to try making it with pumpkin purée, too, since I love pumpkin, but I had the bananas on-hand. The Greek yogurt really helps to make the muffins moist, and definitely adds some more protein. No, I didn’t use the low-fat kind because all they had was fat-free or full-fat, and I figured it was only half a cup, so I went for the good stuff.

Here is some more eye candy… If you make these, please tell me how you like them and if you made any changes and how that went! ENJOY!

Chocolate Chip Banana Protein Muffins © BrightAutumnSun.com

JudyJanuary 2, 2016 - 2:18 pm


AmyJanuary 28, 2016 - 10:46 pm

Looks good, except I would sub raisins for the chocolate chips, lol!! Ha ha!

karen lisaJanuary 30, 2016 - 5:31 pm

Raisins are DISGUSTING!