Monday, August 3, 2015

Music, Books, Miles and Looks of July

And another month bites the dust!  *Insert cliche phrase about time going too fast*

Music:



I Belong To You by Brandi Carlie - Since I saw Brandi Carlile last night (!!!!) I had to share one of her songs for this month's recap.  This is one of the songs from her latest albums.  It's a live performance so the sound quality isn't great but you can see how talented she is live.



Shots by Imagine Dragons - This song has such a catchy beat.  I've loved it from the first time I heard it, which isn't too surprising as I pretty much loved every song on the band's first album. Although I will say that this song has a very different sound compared to their first album.

Books:

July was a strong reading month for me as I read 7 books! My favorite out of everything I read was The House Girl.  Similar to previous months, any books with a star behind them counted towards the read harder challenge.


Overwhelmed:  Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte - 3 stars
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut - 3 stars
As Always, Jack:  A Wartime Love Story By Emma Sweeney - 3 stars
The House Girl by Tara Conklin - 4 stars
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean* - 4 stars
The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard - 3 stars
Dog Crazy:  A Novel of Love Lost and Found by Meg Donohue - 4 stars
Above Us Only Sky by Michele Young-Stone - 4 stars

Miles:

July was also a strong running/biking/swimming month for me.  I hit the triple digit mileage mark for running as I ran 118 miles!  I also biked 92 miles and swam 3.75 miles (5 x 0.75 mile open water swims).  I logged a lot of miles but only fit in 3 strength training sessions which isn't great but between triathlon and marathon training I struggle to make time to strength train. 


Looks:

My looks for the month were kind of unremarkable.  I didn't wear anything new or exciting.  It was a pretty warm/humid month so my outfit selection has been all about finding things that I won't get too hot in while biking to/from work but are warm enough so that I won't freeze at work... and that's pretty tricky!   The only notable outfit was the dress I wore to a wedding but I already shared a photo of that...  Hopefully I'll wear some outfits worth sharing in August.

Friday, July 31, 2015

TGIF

Happy Friday!  This week once again flew by.  I had a busy week and am feeling a little worn out so I am so glad it's Friday today!  Here's how my week shaped up.

The high of my week was going on a triple date with two of my closest girlfriends from college.  We've been trying to arrange this triple date for 6 months (I'm not exaggerating!) so I am glad we finally made it happen!

The low of my week was another bad night of sleep on Tuesday night.  It was less bad than last Tuesday but still a bad night of sleep.  The whole going off Ambien thing has gone pretty well but I tend to have bad nights of sleep 1-2 nights a week.  It's extremely annoying and frustrating.   

A book I am reading is Above Us Only Sky by Michele Young-Stone. I heard about this book on the "All the Books" podcast so I checked out the eBook version of it from my library.  So far it's great!

For my workouts, I ran with my club on Monday, did a strength training session on Tuesday, a brick workout (bike + run) on Wednesday, and I ran with Phil last night.  Today is a rest day, tomorrow I'll run 16 very hilly miles with my club and then on Sunday I'm planning to swim and maybe go for a longer bike ride if the weather cooperates.

The best podcast I listened to was the "Abdi and the Golden Ticket" episode of This American Life. It tells the story of a Somalian refugee living in Kenya that wins the lottery for a visa to come to America.  It was a gripping story to listen to so I highly recommend checking this episode out.  It reminded me that I should be so incredibly thankful that I was born in the U.S.

The best money I spent was on the shoes I bought last Saturday.  I haven't spent much money this week (which is good!) so will have to count that purchase!

My plans this weekend include very little besides seeing Brandi Carlile on Sunday night!  I'm sure we'll stay busy but it's really nice to have a mostly unplanned weekend ahead of us! 

What are your plans for the weekend?  Are you reading anything good these days?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Weekend Recap

Happy Monday!  I hope everyone had a great weekend!  Mine flew by as they always do.  Here's how I filled my time.

On Friday night I spent several hours working on dishes for the dinner party I hosted on Saturday night.  I also threw together a quick dinner using more pesto from my basil plant.  That thing just keeps growing like crazy!  After dinner we headed to Phil's place.  He had brought home some mini cans of champagne from work (his office occasionally brings in beer or other cocktails when they have a good month or have something else to celebrate - I guess that is one perk of working for a small, private company!).  I'm not a huge champagne fan but it was nice to have a little cocktail to celebrate completing my first week at work.


The rest of the night was spent playing cards and playing with Oscar.  By the way, we recently found out that Oscar is actually a girl...  We were told the cat was a boy when we got it but after inspecting the cat the week after bring her home, Phil was pretty sure it was actually a girl.  The vet confirmed that 2 weeks ago - but it actually took 2 different vets to confirm the sex as the first one thought she might be a boy (who knew it was so difficult to tell the sex of a cat??!?).  So we are adjusting to referring to Oscar as she/her.  Phil decided to stick with the name Oscar since we are already so accustomed to using it.  I know of 2 other people who thought their cat was the opposite sex of what it really was so at least we aren't the only ones to make this mistake.  Girl or boy, we of course will love her just the same.
Even though she has lots of toys, she prefers playing with things that are not toys, like my hydration belt and running shoes.
On Saturday morning I ran 17 miles with my club.  It was so hot and humid so it was a tough run but my overall pace was good (9:30 min/mile pace).  That's probably a little faster than I should be doing my long runs but when it's so hot out there, I just want to get the run done as fast as possible.


After the run, a local running store had a 25% off shopping day for us.  I bought some new shoes and a couple of other essentials like body glide and salt tablets.  There were 4 different color options for the model of shoes I run in but I was excited to see this pink color as an option as I love pink!


After the run I dashed home and spent the afternoon working on the rest of the food for the party.  I kept the menu pretty simple and just did pork tacos, black beans, fajita vegetables, and chips/guac/salsa.  If you like pork, I recommend trying the recipe I made, which can be found here.  Even though the menu was pretty simple, it's still time intensive as there is just so much chopping and dicing to do!  Not pictured is the banana cream pie I made which obviously doesn't go with the Mexican theme of the meal but I couldn't come up with a Mexican dessert that was GF (tres leches cake is of course an option but I'm not crazy about it).

The food table looks a little sparse but I promise that no one went home hungry!

Our guests arrived at 7 pm and everyone seemed to like the food, especially the pork!  Between dinner and dessert we played a game of Apples to Apples and then at 10 pm we watched an awesome fireworks show from my balcony.  The fireworks show is sponsored by Target and they put on the best show!

On Sunday morning I biked over to a local lake and went to a tire changing class.  I've been biking more lately so figured it was time for me to learn how to change a tire.  The instructor did a great job as she showed us how to do it and then had us practice on our own bikes.  I can now say that I know how to change a tire but I hope I never have to because I think it is very difficult/tricky to do!  The rest of Sunday was low key and productive as I cleaned, did laundry, ironed, went to church, and did a video chat with Amber.

I definitely had a fun, full weekend!  I felt pretty tired at the end of the weekend but this coming week should be pretty low key!

How was your weekend?  

Friday, July 24, 2015

TGIF

Wow, Friday already?  This week flew by!  Here's a little recap of my week!

The high of my week was starting my new job!  The first week has been great and I feel like it is a place where I can settle in and work for many years. Everyone has been very nice and welcoming. After essentially doing the same thing for the last 4.5 years, it's great to be challenged and learning lots of new things.

The low of my week was my horrible night of sleep on Tuesday night.  I just could not fall asleep.  The last time I looked at the clock it was 2:15 and I got up at 5:15 so I got about 2.5 hours of sleep at most which is not nearly enough.  I guess my body is still adjusting to not being on Ambien and it didn't help that my mind was in over-drive mode with the information overload that goes along with starting a new job. I am envious of people who are able to easily fall asleep and stay asleep!

A book I am reading is Dog Crazy by Meg Donohue.  Nora read it and loved it so I decided to check it out! 

For my workouts, I did a speed/tempo workout with my club on Monday, a strength training workout on Tuesday morning and then swam 0.75 miles at a local lake with Phil on Tuesday night, a hill workout with my club on Wednesday night, and a brick workout (bike + run) last night.  Today is a rest day (thank God!), tomorrow I will run 16 miles with my club and then Sunday I'm hoping to go on a longer bike ride.  For awhile there it didn't really feel like I was training for a marathon but now that my long runs are soooo long it's starting to feel more real.  Add in triathlon training and I'm feeling pretty fatigued these days.  But the triathlon will be behind me in less than a month (it's 3 weeks from Saturday - yikes!).

The best money I spent was on groceries for the dinner party I am hosting on Saturday night!  I'm trying some new recipes so am crossing my fingers that everything turns out!

My plans this weekend include staying in tonight so Phil and I can start to work on some of the food for the dinner party.  Tomorrow I will run with my club in the morning and then spend the rest of the day getting ready for my dinner party which starts at 7.  On Sunday morning I'm going to a hands-on clinic on how to change a bike tire and then hopefully I will go on a longer bike ride. 

What was the high of your week?  What was the best money you spent?

Monday, July 20, 2015

2015: Half-time Check-in

I know I will sound like a broken record when I say this, but I can not believe that 2015 is over half over!  Time is a-flying!  With the half-way point of the year behind us, I thought it would be a good time to check back on my 2015 goals and see how I am progressing.  So here goes!

1.  Work on resolving my sleep issues.  Status:  In progress.  For this goal, I wanted to get off Ambien, look into having a sleep study done, and implement some cognitive behavior therapy techniques to improve my sleep.  I've been off Ambien for a week now so have kind of achieved one of the goals, although I'm relying on Melatonin now.  But it's natural so it's a lesser evil, right?  I knew I would be changing insurance companies so I haven't looked into a sleep study yet, but I might if sleep continues to be a struggle.

2.  Tackle a list of purging/organizational projects.  Status:  Completed. I made the most of the cold weather months and got through all of the organizational projects on my list!  Knowing that I would be moving motivated me to get some of those organizational projects done.

3.  Complete the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge.  Status:  In progress.  So far I've completed 21 of the 24 categories so am really close to completing the challenge!  It's been really fun!

4.  Read 12 books that I own.  Status:  In Progress.  I have read 7 books that I own so am making good progress towards this reading goal, too.

5.  Employ a "Buy One Give One Away" approach to all book, clothing, and kitchen gadget purchases.  Status:  In progress.  I've done more 'giving away' than purchasing so far this year so am on track for this goal as well.  It hasn't exactly been a 'matched' approach as I tend to get rid of a lot of clothes or books all at once and then slowly purchase new clothing.  I have barely bought any books this year - I can only think of two that I have bought and I gave away about 60!

6.  Complete a sprint tri.  Status:  In progress.  The triathlon is just a month away and I feel fairly ready to tackle it.  Since marathon training is my primary goal, I haven't strictly followed a training plan for the triathlon but I've done enough to get me ready for race day.

So there you have it:  6 goals, 1 completed, 5 in progress.  The only goal I can see myself not achieving this year is resolving my sleep issues but at a minimum I am glad that I am off of Ambien now. 

Did you set any goals for 2015? 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Currently: July Edition

I was surprised to see that I haven't done a currently post in 3 months!  Here's what is currently going on in my life!

Reading:  The House Girl by Tara Conklin.  It's a historical fiction novel about the slavery era.  Part of the story is set in 1852 and tells the story of a house girl living in Virginia, and the other part of the story is set during modern times and is about a young attorney working on a class action lawsuit for reparations for the descendants of slaves.  I'm just over half way through and am really enjoying it.
 
Loving:  all the fruit that is in season right now - especially watermelon, nectarines and cherries which are some of my favorite fruits!

Thinking: about the menu I am planning for a small dinner party I am hosting later this month.  The theme of the meal is Mexican and I am planning to try a couple of new recipes so hopefully it all turns out!  There is a huge fireworks show that we will be able to see that night from my balcony so it's going to be a lot of fun.  It's the second year I am doing this.  Last year was a blast so hopefully this year's party is equally fun!

Frustrated: by how difficult open water swimming is.  I've gone 4 times now and while I feel more comfortable I can't say my speed or endurance has improved much.  The swimming part of the tri is something I am just going to have to 'get through.'

Feeling:  happy and content with life right now.  

Anticipating:  my next trip which is a trip to visit Amber in Kamloops!  I can't wait to see her city with my own eyes after seeing countless pictures!  We always have the best time when we are together so I am really excited for a long weekend with her!

Watching:  The Next Food Network Star.  I have watched this every year for several years and while I am enjoying this season, I feel like the contestants aren't as strong as they were in past seasons. 

Sad:  that one of my coworkers, who is someone I've worked with for 4+ years at two different companies, was not supportive of my decision to take a new job and did not mask the fact that he did not support my decision.  

Working: on getting my body to adjust to not being on Ambien (a prescription-strength sleep aid).  I've been wanting to get off of Ambien for quite awhile so I decided to stop taking it during my week off as I'd be able to lay down in the afternoon if I felt really tired.  I don't expect the adjustment process to happen in a week since I've been on it for two years, but I am hoping that I am able to sleep a bit better by the end of the week. 

Grateful:  for the new job I am starting next week.  I feel like some of excitement about the new job got lost in the shuffle of the extended/awkward resignation process but it's finally starting to hit me that I will get to work with my old boss again!

Listening: to lots of podcast, as usual.  My favorites are Run to the Top Podcast, Startup (which is on a break), Happier, Dear Sugar, and BookRiot

Wishing: Kyria the best of luck as she runs a 100 mile (!!!!!) trail race this weekend at Lake Tahoe! 

What are you currently anticipating, grateful for and wishing for?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

From Terrace to Table: a Great Use for Basil

As I mentioned in my post on Monday, my basil is growing like a weed.  I can barely keep up with it!  I rarely use dried basil when cooking so I have been trying to find recipes that utilize fresh basil.  Luckily I found one - pesto!  I really like the Skinny Taste version of the recipe because it does not call for pine nuts (which are typically pricey and not something I keep on hand). 

If you have a lot of basil on hand, I highly recommend this recipe as it refrigerates well and it also apparently freezes well.  The recipe calls for 1 cup of basil but I had 2 so I doubled the recipe.

All washed and ready to be put to use!
The recipe called for things I had on hand (garlic, fresh parmesan cheese, and olive oil plus S&P for seasoning).  In a matter of minutes, the pesto was done!


A week went by before I used it, so I can attest to the fact that it refrigerates well.   Last Thursday we used the pesto to make grilled pesto shrimp skewers.


They were so good and delicious!  We paired them with grilled corn on the cob and Mexican rice, which was obviously not grilled but still delicious!


Have you grilled much this summer?  We have not grilled much as neither of us has our own gas grill.  I have a charcoal grill but it's not worth heating it up for quick recipes like this one.  Luckily my condo association has an area with gas grills - we just need to be better about using them!