Friday, July 31, 2009

Sometimes running isn't fun

Good morning & happy Friday! Another week has come & gone. I heard on the news today that we never broke 90 in July. This is a rarity. I really hope August has some good weather up her sleeve!

The cooler weather hasn't been great for my weekends at the cabin, but it has been nice for running. A few posts back, I talked about why I run . A few of your asked how I got into running and how I've stuck with it. For someone who is thinking about getting into running or back into running, it's important to know this: most days I love my runs and get a little runner's high afterwards, but sometimes my runs just really, really suck. Like all the runs I've done this week. Especially last Saturday when I gave up at 2 miles. I just couldn't keep going. I am blaming the fact that I had donated blood the day before, but who knows. None of my runs this week have been particularly enjoyable - I've had to really push through and tell myself not to give up and walk. I tell you this because if you are going to try to get into running, this is going to happen to you, and you shouldn't give up or think that runs like this mean you are not a runner or will never be a runner.

I'll start my 1/2 marathon training the Monday after Abby's wedding. I finalized my little training grid this week and am excited to start training (I love me some spreadsheets!). I get butterflies in my stomach when I look at the schedule and wonder - can I really start stretching my weekend runs to 7, then 8, then 9 miles, and so forth until my longest training run, which will be 12 miles the week before my 1/2.

But I did it before, and I can do it again. Hal Higdon won't let me down! He got me through my first half & full marathons, so I am sure when October 31st rolls around, I'll be ready to rock this 1/2.

Does anyone have any big plans for the weekend? One of my best friends from college is getting married on Saturday - I'm so excited to see my college girlfriends. We are sort of spread out now, so don't get to rendezvous nearly as much as we'd like. Other than that, I need to finalize my maid of honor speech, shop for my sister's bachelorette party, and start packing - I'll be heading up to my parents cabin on Thursday morning for Abby's wedding weekend festivities. I can't wait!!! All 7 of my mom's siblings & all 3 of my dad's siblings will be there! It's so rare for me to get to see ALL of my aunts & uncles, so I am pumped!

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Summer of Me

Nora's post about finding her summer song really got me thinking. Her posts do a lot of time - she's working full time & also working on her masters, so a lot of her posts really hit home for me. I feel like I could have written some of them, actually!

I've been done with grad school for almost 4 months now and let me tell you - I do not miss it one bit. You should know that I am a lover of school. I adored my college years - they still stand out as some of the best years of my life so far. I missed undergrad after I graduated, and thought I might feel the same about grad school, but that is so not the case. At my graduation party, people were teasing me and saying that I'd be getting another degree; I boldly proclaimed that I was really done with degrees for good. But a little voice in the back of my heads said - Really? Are you going to eat your words on this little topic?

Well, it's been 2 months since the grad party and I am more confident than ever that I am done-zo with degrees. Maybe I will take a language class some day, but that's where I draw the line.

As much as I tend to moan & complain about grad school - I am glad I did it. It's going to further my career and because of that degree, there should be some changes on the horizon for me.

I am just really glad it's over. Because I kind of lost myself in the process of getting that degree. I let go of hobbies I really enjoy, like running. I put on weight. I really didn't see much of my friends. All of this was exacerbated by the starting and ending of my relationship with Ryan.

So this summer has been about getting back to the me I was before I started grad school in the fall of 2006. I've started running again. I tackled a book I never thought I'd be able to get through. I've shed almost all of the weight that I put on during grad school (note: this did not happen overnight. I've been working on it since Thanksgiving!)

And while I haven't proclaimed this as the 'Summer of Me', as others have, it definitely has felt like that.

And I still have about a month left and have so much to look forward to, including the wedding a good friend & my sister's wedding.

So here's to finishing out the summer on a high note.

Now, if we could just get some summer weather, that would be fabulous.

13 Random Facts

Pinkflipflops did this over on her blog earlier this week, so I thought I'd play along!

1. ONE OF YOUR SCARS, HOW DID YOU GET IT? I have scar on my forehead. When I was little, maybe 3 or 4, my sister was turning in circle, with a pillow in her outstretched hand. I stood up and was catapulted into the tv. You can't really tell it's a scar - just kind of looks like a forehead crease or something, but I wore bangs for years to cover it up since I thought it was so noticeable!!

2. WHAT IS ON THE WALLS IN YOUR ROOM? Not much. My favorite thing is a framed e.e. cummings poem. I have my eye on some prints on Etsy that I'd love to hang above my bed...


4. WHAT TYPE OF MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO? A little bit of everything, but I prefer acoustic, sing/songwriter type of music.


6. COFFEE OR ENERGY DRINK? Coffee with a little french vanilla creamer.

7. FAVORITE QUOTE? My favorite quote is actually a bible verse. It's something my Grandma sent to me in an email after Ryan and I broke up. (Yep, my grandma emails me! How cool is that!!) It gave me hope and I still go back and read it when it feels like things are bleak:

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

8. FAVORITE PLACE? sitting on the end of the dock at my parents' cabin on a beautiful, hot, sunny day.

9. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? I hate it. My mom says I never learned to properly hold a pencil and that is why my handwriting is so poor.

10. MASHED POTATOES OR MACARONI AND CHEESE? Easy. Mashed Potatoes. I could eat them every day.



13. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING? Ice House by Minette Walters.

OK - your turn to play along!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lordy this is gaudy!

I have a confession to make.

I know I said I was never going to watch the Bachelor or Bachelorette again... but I got sucked in, once again. I completely blame Heidi! She does these recaps on facebook each week and I just can't resist talking about the drama of this show with her!

Last night was the season finale. Jillian Harris, the bachelor had two men (technically three since the guy she sent home the previous week showed up to try to win her over) to choose from. As is the case with this show, a proposal seems to be inevitable/expected, even though the Bachelor/Bachelorette has only know these people for about 6 weeks and has been dating multiple men up until the shows finale (as I type this I am again wondering why I watch this smut!).

So last night was no different from previous finales - a proposal occurred and a ring was presented. What made this finale different is that I thought the ring was HIDEOUS!
Here is a picture of Jillian posing next to Neil Lane, the designer of the ring, and check out the close up of that ring!!

Yes, I am sure it sparkles like no other, but yikes. I think it is so dang gaudy!!

Oh, and the ring goes for the bargain price of $60,000. Unless I am dating a billionaire, he better not be dropping that much money on a ring!!

The guys had so many nice option to choose from - my favorite was the ring with the Ascher cut diamond. I guess I am just a simple girl who doesn't want something that huge on my hand. With a size 4.5 ring finger, I think it would look ridiculous on me!

So, am I alone in thinking this ring is so over the top & gaudy or are you drooling over it?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Book Review: Anna Karenina

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." And so begins Leo Tolstoy's classic novel, "Anna Karenina." I have wanted to read this book for such a long time, but was so intimidated by it. It definitely is not for the faint of heart. At 754 pages, it's lengthy, but so worth the read in my opinion. It has plenty of drama and scandal. As my aunt said, (who was also reading this at the same time) it could be subtitled "Desperate Housewives of Moscow"!! It was published in parts starting in 1875. Apparently adultery is not anything new, as there was plenty of adultery in this novel. I don't know why I thought adultery was a new "trend" - after all, adultery is forbidden by the 10 Commandments, so obviously it's been a problem for the human race for quite awhile.

Anyways, the story of Anna Karenina is centered around two couples: Anna Karenina and her lover Vronsky, and Konstantin Levin and his wife. Anna was previously married but falls in love with Vronsky and decides to leave her husband and her young son to live with her lover. Divorce was not accepted at this time in history, so she was shunned by society for the lifestyle she chose. While Anna's life can be described as scandalous, Levin's is the complete opposite. He is devoted to his wife and his work. One chose a life of passion, the other chose a life of duty and sacrifice.

I did not find Anna Karenina to be a very likeable character. Towards the end of the novel, she has such feelings of jealously that she finds pleasure in attempting to make other men fall in love (or lust) with her. When Levin come to visit her towards the end of the novel Anna has this thought after he leaves,

"she had... done her utmost to arouse in Levin a feeling of love - as of late she had fallen into doing that with all young men - and she knew she had attained her aim, as far as was possible in one evening..."

It is interesting to consider how different her life might have been if she had lived during modern times when divorce is more acceptable. The shame that Vronsky & Anna experienced seemed to draw a wedge between them. Perhaps if she could have divorced her husband and married Vronsky, their life would have been different. But maybe it wouldn't have been. Either way, it is interesting to think about.

I learned so much about Russia & Russian culture by reading this book. My dear friend from work is getting married in Russia on the same day as my sister. I learned so much about Russian wedding customs by reading about Levin's wedding - it helps me imagine what Yulia's wedding will be like.

Has anybody else read "Anna Karenina"? If so, what did you think? Did you feel more sympathy for Anna than I did? If you haven't read Anna Karenina, what is the best 'classic' novel you've read?

I can't wait to chat about the book with my aunt Barb when I see her next!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

And the winner is...

The winner of my blogoversary give away is (drum roll please)....

Comment #1 - Anais of Through Green Eyes! Please send an email to with your mailing address and I will get the book sent out this week! I hope you enjoy this travel memoir as much as I did!!

I have less than 100 pages of Anna Karenina left so should finish it this week. I think it will end up taking me about 6-7 weeks to read it? I usually read about a book a week, but since this one is 750+ pages and is a heavier read, I'm pretty happy with the pace I've maintained. It's been a great read and I look forward to posting a review next week!

NPR is holding a 100 Best Beach Books Ever contest. There are 200 books to choose from and you can vote for 10. Go check it out! I plan on printing out the nominations list for future reading inspiration. In my opinion, a Best Beach Book needs to be a fun, easy read - something I can easily pick up & put back down. I think of books like The Harry Potter series, The Pilot's Wife, and Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas.

What is your favorite beach read?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Always, Sometimes, Never

Amber did this last week over on her blog so I thought I'd give it a shot.

I always...
  • drive with my headlights on - even when it's completely bright outside.
  • end every conversation with my parents by saying 'I love you'.
  • let the phone ring twice before answering it. I think my mom learned to do this at some business seminar she went to like 15 years ago and it has stuck with me ever since.
  • put on my make-up before blow drying my hair.
  • tear up when a bride is walking down the aisle, even if I don't know the bride that well.

I sometimes...

  • wonder if certain people who ride my bus missed out on the lesson in kindergarten about waiting your turn in line. There are people who will get dropped off as the bus is arriving and will hop right onto the bus even though there is a line of people. It infuriates me!!
  • wonder what my life would be like now if I had gone to college outside of my home state of North Dakota.
  • walk in and out of Barnes & Noble without buying a book. But not very often.
  • fantasize about living overseas, possibly in France. I could never do it, though - I would miss my family too much.
  • get in these intense cleaning moods where I clean out & re-organize closets/fridges/etc. I usually get in these moods when I am worrying about something or going through a break-up.

I never...

  • stretch before running. I'm too impatient and am always so anxious to get started on my run.
  • drink milk directly out of the carton, even though I live alone. I find that repulsive.
  • talk to the person sitting next to me on airplane rides. I immediately put my headphones on and give off the 'don't talk to me' vibe. I would probably change this policy if a cute guy ever sat next to me but that never seems to happen!!
  • enjoy driving. I don't dream of having a nice car, I dream of having a chauffeur!
  • dreamed that I would run a marathon; it always seemed like an unattainable goal that only really athletic people could achieve.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I hate spray sunscreen...

So I have this spray-on sunscreen that I use when I go for runs. I've been using it all summer, and it has been serving me well - no burns so far. Then today I sprayed some on before heading outside to sit in an Adirondack chair & read Anna Karenina (only about 125 pages left - the end is in sight!!). When I sprayed it on, it felt like maybe it 'spit' a little more than it sprayed, if that makes any sense... But being the impatient person that I am, I just assumed it was fine, and headed out into the sun.

I got back home to Minneapolis this evening, looked in the mirror and saw this...

What in God's name happened to me. The picture doesn't really give it justice. I seriously look like I have some sort of skin disease or something. It's reminiscent of the time my father slapped sunscreen on his back, but didn't bother to ask anyone to help him rub it in - which resulted in hand prints on his back...

Obviously the sunscreen worked on one side because this is what both shoulders look like:

See? One side is not burned and does not have odd shaped blotches of white skin.

Lovely. The whole reason I went to sit in the sun was to try to get rid of the faint tan lines from the shirts I wear when I run. - which were completely unnoticeable according to my mom. You see, my sister is getting married on August 8th, and I will be wearing a halter style dress and I want to be a good bridesmaid who doesn't have any funky tan lines. Now I look like I have leprosy or something.

Ok, I am exaggerating, but still. It's kind of weird looking. Luckily it's an extremely mild burn so will probably fade within the next couple of days. Hopefully the sun will make its appearance next week at the cabin so I can fix what I did today. I certainly won't be using this stupid spray on stuff again.

Aside from my bizarre sunburn, I had a great weekend! I went to my hometown to visit my Grandma on Saturday. She made the cutest little lunch for me and even found Gluten Free crackers to serve - can't believe she found some in the small town where she shops!! It was my first time going to their house since my Grandpa's funeral. I wasn't sure how I would feel, but it went really well. I grew up down the road from my Grandparents, so saw them on a very regular basis growing up - practically daily before I went to school. I miss having them close by.

She talked about my Grandpa quite a bit - they were married for nearly 63 years and had this amazing marriage. She said she saw my Grandpa get mad a few times - but he never got mad AT her. Isn't that amazing? She also said that every day, he complimented her cooking, even if she was making the simplest dish. He was certainly a one-of-a-kind man - and he definitely made sure that everyone knew how much he loved and adored Grandma. Abby's wedding next month will be the first big family event since his passing and he will be greatly missed.

Alright, time to go throw out that stupid spray sunscreen and re-apply some lotion to my lovely little burn.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Why I Run...

Good Morning and Happy Friday! The calendar says it is July 17th, but my outfit says it is December 24th. I am wearing a red sweater and jeans. It was in the 50s today, which would have felt like a heatwave back in April, but feels pretty chilly when you are used to 70-90 degree temps.

So the weather is a bit cooler than we'd like around here in July, but it's fantastic running weather! I haven't ran as much this week since I had some celebrations in the evening and my cousin came and stayed with me one night this week. But I did go for a run last night and it was wonderful! I entered a lottery for the Twin Cities 10 Mile that's held on the same day as the marathon and found out I got a spot in the race! Yippee!! I figure that will be a good training run for the 1/2 marathon that I will run at the end of October. Now if only I could win the REAL lottery... but that would require me to buy a ticket, and knowing the mathematical odds of winning keeps me from doing that. I can't tell you how many times we used the lottery in my math classes in college... So the flashbacks of the problems on the blackboards at UND prevent me from buying tickets... most of the time! Hey, I don't want to be the only person left in my office if our office pool wins the lottery!

Anyways, since I always run alone, it leaves alot of time for self-reflection and self-examination. I think back to when I started running in 2004 and try to remember what it was that got me into this sport. I don't come from a family of runners, I never really participated in sports in school since I don't have an athletic bone in my body, yet I somehow managed to become addicted to this sport. It probably has to do with the addictive personality that I have. I don't really do anything in moderation... And when it comes to running, that is kind of a good thing.

The reason I have taken to running so much can be best explained by the mock Nike Ad on the movie "What Women Want." I'm pretty sure everyone and their mom has seen it since it's always on TBS or some other channel like that. But in case you are not familiar with that movie, here is the text of the voice over, done by Mel Gibson:

You don't stand in front of a mirror before a run
wondering what the road will think of your outfit.

You don't have to listen to its jokes and
pretend they're funny in order to run on it.

It would not be easier to run if
you dressed sexier.

The road doesn't notice if you're not
wearing lipstick.

Does not care how old you are.

You do not feel uncomfortable because you
make more money than the road.

And you can call on the road whenever you feel like it. Whether it's been a day or even a couple of hours since your last date.

The only thing the road cares about is that you
pay it a visit once in awhile.

Nike. No games... just sports.

There are of course other reasons, but this sums it up pretty well. The politics of life, especially at work, and the game playing that seems to be inevitable in dating get old so I love participating in a sport that is so simple and straight-forward. A sport where my success is solely determined by the work I put into it. And even though it's a solo sport, there is still a fantastic running community to support you and guide, if you want/need that. Like last night - I was running and met a girl on the path, she gave me a fist pump and said, 'way to go!' I love that the running community is like that!

So there you have it. A sort of unconventional way of describing why I run!

I hope everyone has a great weekend! I am heading up to my parents' cabin tonight. Tomorrow I am driving to my hometown to have lunch with my Grandma. Other than that, I have no plans for the weekend - which is fabulous since I had a very scheduled week!

Happy Friday everyone!!

* PS - don't forget to comment on my blogoversary post!! Your chances of winning that fantastics book are exponentially better than winning the lottery! :) *

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Blogoversary & a give away!

Happy Blogoversary to me! Hard to believe it's been a year since I started this little bloggity blog. I have officially been blogging since I started An American Girl in France back on June 3rd, but it would have been kind of silly to celebrate that blog's anniversary since that blog is on hold until my next trip to France - hence, no updates are posted to it and no one is reading it anymore. And really the only people reading that were pretty much my mom, my brother, and my aunt (thank you, my faithful readers). This blog has a much more diverse readership - which I am so thankful for! Especially when you comment - my fellow bloggers are probably nodding in agreement, it really means the world to us when we get comments on our blogs. So keep 'em coming.

Anyways, I feel like I have come quite a ways since that first book review post. By the way, if you haven't checked that book out, you really should. Especially if you like quotes and inspirational little poems. I am pretty sure something from that book will make a cameo in my maid of honor speech next month at Abby's wedding.

I have hashed out alot of topics on this blog. I've lamented about what it's like to be single and 28, I've blogged about some vacations, I've faced down the ghosts of boyfriends past, and I blogged about the passing of my Grandfather, who was one of the most important men in my life.

Some downs, but as many, or more, ups. I've made progress. Personal progress is a funny thing. When I compare my life today to my life a year ago, everything is the same, but nothing is. Not sure if that makes any sense. This blog has definitely helped - it forces a person to be a little bit more self reflective than I would have been otherwise. I've met some great new friends through this and have grown closer to my aunt & cousin who also blog. I know some of my family and friends probably scatch their heads and wonder why in the heck I do this, but they'll have to continue to wonder because this blog is not going away.

So, in honor of my one year anniversary of being a blogger, I figured it was time for a little give away. The initial reason for this blog was to review books, so it seems only right that my give away involve a book. Comment on this blog post by Monday, July 20th and you will have a chance to win one of my favorite travel memoirs!

Without Reservations, by Alice Steinbach is an awesome travel memoir. As Steinbach writes,

"I had fallen into the habit of defining myself in terms of who I was to other people and what they expected of me."

So what did she do? She takes a sabbitical from work and travels around Europe with stops in cities such as Paris and Milan. It's a page turner and will definitely make you want to drop everything and take a trip to Europe.

So come on all your lurkers - come out of the dark and leave a comment! I'll use the random number generator on Tuesday to select the winning comment!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Weekend Recap

Another fabulous weekend - the weather here was dang near perfect! Living in Minnesota, this is something we really have to appreciate and soak up since we get lots of months of freakishly cold weather. But honestly, weather like this totally makes up for all those months of subzero temps. I complain about the cold A LOT in the winter, but I definitely LOVE the state/city I live in.

The bbq on Friday went great - I brought asparagus and that Spinach/Apple/Strawberry salad with the vinaigrette recipe that my mom suggested. The salad was a hit! In addition to the Spinach/fruit, I added some toasted walnut and Gorgonzola cheese. Yum. I would definitely make it again - maybe as soon as next weekend when I am at the cabin.

The Block Party last night was lots of fun. Again, the weather was perfect - not too hot, but it didn't cool off too much so I was comfortable the whole night. My body runs at a different temperature than most people - I am always cold. So it was wonderful to not get cold after the sun went down last night. We watched Tyrone Wells, Matt Nathanson, and the Counting Crows perform. I pretty much want to marry Tyrone Wells. He's a new artist, so I wasn't super familiar with his music, but it didn't matter. It didn't hurt that he is very attractive, and appeared to be very down to earth. He told a story about how he has played one of his songs, Sea Breeze, at 3 different proposals. The song is beautiful and it's pretty cool that he's been willing to be part of these proposals! Pretty cool - huh?

I did feel a bit old at the Block Party at times, though. There was a group of young girls in front of us - I was pretty sure they were under 21 and when they started passing around a plastic container that appeared to be full of vodka, my suspicions were confirmed. I don't think any adults of the legal age pass around a bottle of vodka and take shots. Yuck - I cringe as I think about that... I kept thinking, 'Kids these days' which made me feel sort of old!

Now it's Sunday which means prep time for the upcoming week. I try to do my grocery shopping on Sunday & then get everything in to single serving containers so I can just grab and go in the morning. So I spent a good chunk of my afternoon slicing, dicing, and packing up lots o' fruit.

I realize that is a TON of fruit for a person who lives alone. I could probably live on fruit alone this week. When berries and melons are in season, I am like a kid in a candy store - I feel like I need some of EVERYTHING. So I probably overbought... But whatever doesn't get eaten will be brought to my parents cabin next weekend.

After cutting up all that fruit, I sat down for a little rest before tackling my next chore. Then I looked over at the table where my Peace Lily lives and saw this...

Um, I think I really killed it this time. The picture doesn't do it justice. It is the saddest looking plant. Ever. I took this plant home from my Grandpa's funeral and was bound and determined to keep it alive, but I am obviously failing. I tried the water globes, but the water would just run out of the planter, so I stopped using them and re-started recently since I just wasn't keeping up with the watering. When I saw my mom over the 4th, I told her the plant wasn't faring well and that I'd be bringing it to her next time I saw her, if it was alive. I thought I could keep it alive for another 2 weeks. I can't imagine this plant coming back, but we'll see. I just feel terrible since this was something someone bought for my grandfather's funeral and here I am, killing it. Gah.

I guess I'm not ready for a pet. Not that I would get one anyways. When I was in my early teens, my eldest brother told me that he kind of pictured me living in an apartment with a ton of cats and a big grand piano... I've never been able to shake the vision of me being this Miss Havisham type of person with a ton of cats. So I would NEVER get a cat. But if I ever got past the bleak prophesy, I might have considered... but this whole 'keeping a plant alive' thing has shown me that I obviously can't take care of anything besides myself!

Anyways, maybe this plant has nine lives or something. That is what I am hoping.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Critical of being cryptic

I recently had a conversation (over email) with my aunt about how much we love technology. Thanks to facebook and blogging, I feel way more connected to my aunt and cousin than I would have otherwise! My aunt's last blog post was so funny, I laughed until I had tears in my eyes.

But sometimes I hate technology. Specifically email and how cryptic emails can be. I took this communication class a few weeks back and they had us do an exercise where we read the same sentence, but put emphasis on a different word each time we read it. It completely changed the meaning of the sentence - the exercise was kind of an eye opener for me. Today I got one of those emails that left me scratching my head and wondering - what is she trying to say? Am I supposed to respond? How am I supposed to respond? The meaning of her email was completely lost on me. Plus the sender of the email is someone that I have a somewhat strained relationship with, so it's tough for me to give her the benefit of the doubt and not think she is delivering some sort of virtual jab by sending this email. I'm pretty sure she was.

But you know what? It's Friday. All I can say is, Alleluia! I made it through another week and didn't have any days that were as bad as last Thursday. Onward and upward - that's what I keep telling myself.

I've got a busy weekend ahead of me - tonight I am going to a BBQ at a friends house. I attempted to make Waldorf Salad. Ok, I am using the word 'attempted' lightly because I didn't actually attempt to make it. I printed off the recipe. I had all the ingredients in my shopping cart. And then I panicked. Have I ever told you how culinarily challenged I am? I had thoughts of the Waldorf salad being a complete flop - then I would have had to show up sans salad at the bbq tonight. So I called my mom from the grocery store and had her help me come up with something else. Maybe I will feel like an adult when I no longer have to call my mom from the grocery store. She came through, as I knew she would, and found an easy vinaigrette that contained ingredients that I pretty much already had. So I'll be bringing a Spinach Salad with strawberries, walnuts, and apples. Crisis averted. I did email my aunt this week (the same one that I had the 'I love technology' conversation with) and said I definitely need some "culinary boot camp / teach Lisa not to be afraid of the kitchen and recipes" classes. She's happy to help and is such a pro in the kitchen - I'm looking forward to learning lots under her tutelage.

Tomorrow night I'll be going to the Basilica Block Party. This is something I've wanted to check out since I moved to Minneapolis 6 years ago. It's a huge outdoor concert that is help on the grounds of the Basilica of St. Mary. Yep, you read that right - it's held on the grounds of a Catholic Church. The proceeds of this huge music festival help the church maintain the Basilica. Counting Crows and Matt Nathanson are both playing so it's quite the line up!

Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Safety First

I wouldn't consider myself to be a morbid person - I rarely think about how I am going to die or when I am going to die. I don't worry about it - when it happens, it happens is the approach I take. Granted, I am 28 and pretty healthy, so there is no reason to think of the end of life.

That said, I often joke with co-workers when I leave work with a plan to go for a run. I will often tell my co-worker, 'um, ok, I'm running Harriet tonight - if I don't show up tomorrow, look for a news story about an unidentified female runner found in South Minneapolis. Ok? Bye!'

Since I live alone and don't talk to anyone on a daily basis, I feel like I could go missing for days and no one would really know. I have all these separate groups of friends in my life, but they aren't at all connected - my co-workers would notice I was missing, but they wouldn't know how to contact my parents. You know what I mean?

Anyways, after joking about being an unidentified female runner, found on a running path, I figured it was time to maybe get some proper identification. My mom did make me a laminated emergency contact sheet after I got caught in a lightning storm, but I only have that on me when I run with my running belt, so it's only useful when I'm doing long runs...

So I bought this road tag today - similar to the bracelet below, but you attach it to your shoe.

So now if, God forbid, something were to happen to me when I am running, they person who finds me can call my mom, dad, or brother Kevin. The chances of this little tag ever being needed are slim to none (I hope), but it eases my mind a bit to have it on me.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Details, details

Alright, time for another little vacation. I thought I was done traveling for the year since I spent about 5 days in Phoenix in January and 6 days in NYC in April. But I have been wanting to get out to Chicago sometime this year to visit my brother, his wife, and their little boy Kolin. Thanks to a lovely SW airlines fare sale, it became feasible. I bought my round trip ticket for the bargain price of $120. That is seriously cheap in my opinion.

So I'll be heading to the Windy City the weekend of September 25th. Do you remember when I read Loving Frank? It was such a great book - if you haven't read it and have any interest in Frank Lloyd Wright, I highly recommend it. It's an intriguing read - very scandalous. Just be sure to read the end part in privacy. I cried in the waiting area of the airport, waiting to board the plane. Can you say embarrassing? Anyways, my friend Adrianne did a FLW tour in Chicago and said it was great; my sister-in-law said she would come along with me, so that is definitely on the itinerary for this trip. Can't wait to figure out which one of these tours we will do. I think there is also an architecture boat tour that you can do, so maybe we will check that out as well? I haven't really done any touristy stuff in Chicago for a couple of years, so hopefully I can squeeze a few things in on this trip.

So here's a little random fact about me (as if you didn't get enough info yesterday). I suck at buying plane tickets. Theoretically, I should be the most detail-oriented person ever. And I am in some ways, but not with plane tickets.

One of my best stories was when I went to visit my study abroad girlfriends in NYC. I swear to God I bought a plane ticket that would arrive at JFK. I knew I had to find my own way out to the Long Island Rail Station that is close to where my girlfriend lives, so I had done all this research on how to get from JFK to Penn Station to Smithtown, Long Island. This was back in the day when my itineraries included connections (these days I buy direct flights most of the time). I got on the first leg of the flight to Columbus, OH, glanced down at my boarding passes and said - 'Oh my God, my next flight is flying into LaGaurdia!!!! I thought I was flying into JFK!' You should have seen the looks on the faces of the people sitting around me. They were probably thinking - who is this idiot and how does she not know where her final destination is. That's what I would think if I overheard a fellow passenger say something like this.

Luckily I had some helpful seatmates on my flight from Columbus to LaGuardia who were willing to point out LaGuardia on my pop-out map of NYC and said the help desk should be able to help me get to a Long Island Railway Station. The help desk people at the airport were very helpful and I managed to end up in Smithtown with no trouble at all.

I wish I could say this is the only time something like this has happened. But it's not. I can think of at least 3 times when I've bought tickets on the wrong date or flying into the wrong airport or something like that.

This time, though - I double and triple checked before pushing purchase. I think I got it right this time.

Oh, and I won't be checking luggage. After the last debacle, I don't think I will ever check a bag again.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Award Time

A big thank you to Ashley from On Wings of Pigs for this little blog award!

To accept this award, I am supposed to list 7 traits about myself and then pass the award onto 7 other bloggers who deserve recognition for the personality they share through their blog.

So here goes...

1. I'm a complete baby when it comes to things like mice, snakes, spiders, etc. I understand that these critters are probably more scared of us than we are of them, but this rationale does not help. This weekend, I was reading Anna Karenina when my brother-in-law thought it would be a good idea to drop an army worm on the page of my book. I FREAKED OUT. He now knows not to play tricks on me like that!

2. The older I get, the more set in my ways I become. I know this is the case for everyone, but I feel like it's even worse for me. I have this problem where I think there is only ONE right way to do things - from cutting a green pepper or onion to folding a towel to putting toilet paper on a roll. It is really hard for me to watch someone do these things differently & not say something... I never do say anything, as that would be really rude - instead I tell myself to just let it go & let them do it their way.

3. I would consider myself book smart, but sort of lacking in common sense. I often over think problems. For example, when I was vacuuming one day, I picked up my lamp & set it back down and the light went out. I figured that something went wrong with the lamp socket or something. So I took the lamp apart and jiggle things around a bit. It still didn't work. Days later it occurred to me that maybe the light bulb had burned out. Yep, that was the problem, but it never occurred to me to start by checking the most obvious cause of the light not working....

4. I'm an organized person, but constantly lose things and can be forgetful. Like a few times I have not only forgotten to lock the door to my condo - I've also left the door slightly ajar. Once I came back from a weekend to find that I had left my door ajar. Thank God I live in a super safe development.

5. When I graduated from college 6 years ago, I strongly considered moving to Steamboat Springs, CO. I had worked there the summer between my Sophomore and Junior year of college and during 2 winter breaks and absolutely loved it out there. Looking back, I know it was the right decision to move to Minneapolis, but I do wonder what my life would be like now if I had moved out there. I hope to some day buy a vacation property out there.

6. After being single for the last year or so, I have become completely ambivalent about dating. It's been so long since I met someone that I was actually excited about, I am beginning to question if I'll ever feel that way about someone ever again. I know this may seem pessimistic, but I honestly think I am being realistic and not setting myself up for disappointment. I'd rather think it's not going to happen and be pleasantly surprised than assume it is going to happen and be incredibly disappointed.

7. I'm a chatty person and can be a bit long-winded... which you can probably tell by reading the above 6 character traits/random facts!

Ok, my turn to pick 7...

1. Girl with the Red Hair
2. (mis)adventures of aimee
3. Project Subrosa
4. Walking Through the Rain
5. The Many Thoughts of a Reader
6. Sassy Molassy
7. your wishcake.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Weekend Review - 4th of July

I am back from a fantastic weekend at the cabin. It was just what I needed. That mantra I posted on Thursday was totally ineffective. Thursday was probably the worst, most frustrating day I've had at work in years... but it's over and thank God I took Friday off so I would have a nice long weekend to relax! I am really hoping that this week goes better than last week did....

The weather at the cabin was pretty much perfect all weekend. I was starting to think I was the bad luck charm as every weekend I've been down this summer, the weather has left a bit to be desired. But not this weekend! The temps were high and the wind was pretty low. I had a great time soaking up some sun, playing cribbage with my dad, and reading. I'm about a little over 1/2 ways through Anna Karenina and am really liking it! I think it is probably going to take me 6 weeks to get through it. At least that is my goal!

Anyways, back to the weekend review. I pulled up to the cabin on Thursday night after dealing with some serious road rage on my part, and was instantly calmed.

The sun was setting, the lake was like glass, and my dad and nephew James were fishing off the dock. Ahh, I am so glad my parents have a cabin. This is my little slice of heaven on earth.

3 of my 4 nephews were down at the cabin - it was fun watching them play in the sand together. Andrew and James are less than a year apart and act like brothers. They even call each other "brother" when they play together which is so cute!

Matthew is the youngest nephew and gets more and more of a personality every time I see him. Apparently, his taste buds are in the process of developing...

He sucked on this lemon and never made a face!!

He's also getting good at posing for photos for his camera-crazy auntie.

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend that went WAY too fast. The 4th of July feels like the beginning of the end of summer - and it feels like summer just started for us. So I definitely need to make the most of these summer weekends at the cabin!

I'll leave you with this photo of my nephew James. He actually asked if he could wash the patio window. I guess he enjoys washing windows? He must have some McDougall blood in him - my Grandma Val would be so proud! Kind of makes me wish I could bring him back to Minneapolis to do some light cleaning for me!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Today's Mantra

I have been in a salty mood at work for like 4 months. Ok, maybe not for that long, but I've had more than a few cranky days. I'm not very good at masking my frustration for things like databases that seem to take forever to calculate and merger changes that I don't understand or agree with.

But today is my Friday since I am taking tomorrow off - and to help fend off any feelings of frustration, the quote on this poster is my mantra for the day. Another favorite of mine from this fabulous Etsy Seller. I could buy a poster for every room of my condo from this girl's site. But I won't because I am kind of putting myself on a strict budget... I really need to make buying a house a reality and not a dream. So time to tighten the belt. My goal is to be in a house by the time I turn 30 on February 6th, 2011. Mom, I will try to not make you guys move me on a ridiculously freezing day in February... But just think - it should be the last time. My dear parents have moved me into more apartments than any other kid in our family. It's possible they've manned more moves for me than for all 4 of my siblings combined! What would I do without them?

Anyways, back to the mantra - here's hoping it will result in a day free of any snarkiness... Perhaps I need to bend the rules of my budget and purchase a copy of this to hang in my cube...