Saturday, October 31, 2009

Monster Half Race Re-Cap

I did it!! I totally beat all the time goals I had set for myself and PR'd! Scroll down to the bottom if you want the details on splits & final time. Here's my race recap.

I so was not worried for this race. Usually I am kind of a basket case the night before a big race. I think I had trained harder & smarter for this race, though, so just didn't have the pre-race jitters I usually had. My night before the race was pretty typical. Had some carbs and laid out all my gear, like I usually.

Can you tell I like the color pink?

I had no trouble falling asleep. I was, however, awoken at 4 am by the sound of the wind rattling my windows. I told myself - don't freak out, you race is over 4 hours away, the winds will die down by then.

When my alarm went off at 6:45, the windows were still rattling and on it said winds were in the 10-15 mph range with 20 mph gust. Yah, not ideal running conditions.

So I decided that instead of wearing this:

I'd add a fleece to that and wear this (I had always planned to wear the hat, it just didn't make it into the first pic):

Turns out I totally underestimated how warm I'd get and totally overestimated how cold the wind would make me. I should have stuck with my original outfit. Lesson learned. Having that fleece was great when I was waiting around for the race to start, but about 1.5 miles into the run, I was HOT. So I wasted at least a minute taking the fleece off and moving my race number, garmin, and iPod from outside of the fleece. I had recently bought that fleece so I just couldn't stand the thought of throwing it away (most runners will wear a layer that they will throw away as they warm up during a run like this). So I tied it around my waist and carried on.

I lost quite a bit of time during that wardrobe rearrangement, so I kind of felt like I was behind the 8 ball very early. Thank God I had my trusty Garmin. I was able to make up for lost time pretty quickly, but my overall time could have been better if not for that wardrobe switcheroo.

The whole run went really well, though. I had some knee/hip pain around the middle but other than that, it was a pretty smooth run. I didn't realize how hilly it would be, so my glutes are definitely feeling it this afternoon!

Now for the data!!

Mile 1: 9:40
Mile 2: 10:24 (stupid wardrobe rearrangement)
Mile 3: 9:06 (ok, good, made up for lost time during this mile)
Mile 4: 9:17
Mile 5: 9:27
Mile 6: 9:31
Mile 7: 9:24
Mile 8: 9:05 (I saw all the runners from back from the out & back turnaround at this point so turned on some speed)
Mile 9: 9:14
Mile 10: 9:14
Mile 11: 9:18
Mile 12: 9:18
Mile 13: 9:02
The rest: 2:24 - (8:31 mi/min - was supposed to be .1 mi, according to my Garmin it was .28 mi)

Average pace: 9:22
Total time: 2:04:24

If you recall, my 'hard goal' from yesterday's post was 2:07 so I totally nailed it! I'm really proud of myself for achieving this goal. All that hard work totally paid off and I think I have more speeds in my legs than I thought.

That said, I might have pushed it a little too hard or something. I felt totally fine after the race but spent this afternoon with some pretty un-fun digestion issues. Not going to TMI you guys and get into that, but I have been pretty miserable and had to miss my friend's son's birthday party. :( I remember feeling like this after the half I did back in May of 2007, but I did not train for that (yes, I was an idiot), so I was not surprised when my body revolted the way it did. I shouldn't feel the way I do now. So maybe I didn't drink enough. Or maybe I didn't eat the right meal last night. Or maybe it was the post-run latte? Who knows. I guess I'll have to figure it out by trial and error. I'm already starting to feel better after downing some Gatorade and taking a little nap.

What's next? I'm not quite sure. There is a half in January, called the "Frozen Half" that I might do with some co-workers (my employer has a running club - how cool is that?). But I am kind of scared to think what the temps might be like in January in Minnesota. So I might take a break from training and focus on cross training and then will probably try to do a half in the spring - followed by a marathon in the fall. Which I will be running with some fellow bloggers (stay tuned for details on that!!)

So there you have it! I hope you are all having a safe and fun Halloween! Time to push some more liquids and watch a movie! Gosh I'm exciting, aren't I!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

It's Game Time

Guess who's running a half marathon tomorrow?


I've been thinking about this half marathon since I registered for it back on June 18th. Do you remember when I told you about that? It doesn't seem like it was over 4 months ago. I have made so much progress since then, though. I'm back in shape and finally feel like I can once again say, "I am a runner."

When I tell people I am training for a half marathon, the most common response is, "I could never do that."

Well let me tell you - I am living proof that anyone can run a half or full marathon (except those with injuries that prevent them from running). Believe me when I say I do not have an athletic bone in my body. I got music abilities from my mom's side and book smarts from my mom - but I somehow totally missed out on my dad's athletic abilities. Seriously - I was always the super uncoordinated kid. Oh, and my only memory from playing basketball was scoring a basket at the last second - FOR THE WRONG TEAM.

Ouch. That was awkward.

Ok, back to the theme of this post (I swear I have one). It's not a question of whether or not you can run a half marathon. It's a question of whether you want to.

It takes a special person to train for these races. It requires dedication, discipline, and and a stick-to-it attitude. It means saying no to happy hours and saying yes to logging miles on local running paths or the treadmill. It means getting up early on the weekend to get in your long run.

But if you enjoy it, all the trade offs are so worth it.

I'm so glad I discovered the sport of running. The feeling I have about tomorrow's race is probably comparable to the way the point guard felt the night before a big game - that's something I never had the opportunity to experience.

So on Saturday morning, I'll throw on my running gear and head to the starting line with the hopes that the culmination of the last 4 months of hard work will pay off and will potentially result in a PR.

So what is my goal? Well, my 1/2 marathon PR is 2:17, but the half split from my marathon was 2:09, so here are my goals:

Easy Goal - 2:16 (gives me a PR)
Medium Goal - 2:11 (means maintaining a 10 min mile, which I've been doing in my long runs)
Hard Goal - 2:07 (approx 9:40 min miles, beats my unofficial PR from my marathon 1/2 split)

So wish me luck & please pray that it doesn't rain. So far the forecast is looking good, but you just never know in Minnesota!!

I'll be back with a race report on Sunday!

What are you all doing this weekend? Any fun Halloween parties?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ten on Thursday (v. 3)

First of all, thank you for all of your sweet, supportive comments yesterday. They were all so thoughtful & kind - so thank you for that. I am feeling much better - the worst part is getting over the initial disappointment. Now that I've cleared that hurdle, it's onwards & upwards from here!

Alright, now for something lighter! I'm back again with the 3rd edition of Ten on Tuesday, brought to you by the lovely Chelsea.

1. What are you going to be for Halloween?
Um, I kind of hate Halloween. I love seeing kids dressed up, but I do not enjoy partaking in that tradition as an adult. Go ahead, call me a fun hater. This year I am running a 1/2 marathon in the a.m. & then going to a 3 year old's birthday party in the afternoon. So I told my friend (the mom) that I will either show up as a) a beat up, very sore runner, or b) a librarian.

Because neither 'costume' would require me to wear anything out of the ordinary.

2. Have you ever been on television?

3. Do you have a toilet paper preference?
I'm definitely an over v. under girl. I have to resist the urge to 'correct' the roll when at other people's houses. I'm not as picky with the brand but prefer something like Quilted Northern.

4. When you’re pregnant, will you find out the sex of the baby? (Or if you’ve already had babies, did you find out the sex?) Why or why not?
Nope and this is so out of character for me because I do not like surprises. Even when they are fantastic, fabulous surprises. But when it comes to finding out the sex of my child, I will not (unless my husband feels really strong about this - then maybe). It's just the way it's done in my family. No one has found out, and I feel like I would be the person who would be told she's having a girl, then paints her nursery pink, only to be surprised by a boy.

5. What are three items that every kitchen must have?
A saute pan, a good knife, and a cutting board.

6. Do you enjoy Christmas shopping?
Yes, I really do. It's the best feeling when you pick out that perfect gift for someone. I actually enjoy the shopping & giving more than the receiving. Don't get me wrong - I love the gifts I receive each year, it's just more fulfilling picking out gifts for others. I guess this means I am 'growing up'.

7. What is your go-to recipe? (The thing you cook more than anything else because it’s easy and mindless.) Please share the recipe.
Um, this is bad but I don't have one. It used to be this lasagna recipe of my mom's, but then I went gluten free and I am afraid to try it w/ GF noodles. But if I was having people over for dinner, I would probably make this recipe (assuming they liked mushrooms).

8. Do you sleep on your back, belly, or side?
I sleep on my side, cradling a body pillow. I used to sleep on my stomach, but it was causing arthritis in my neck... so the doctor said no more stomach sleeping. So I trained myself to sleep on my side. It was NOT easy!

9. How do you feel about Tom Cruise?
I don't care for him. I think he's very odd. And he's brain washed Katie Holmes, in my opinion.

That said - I'd love it for a guy to be so excited about me, he jumped up and down on a couch... even though that might not have been genuine and might have been a publicity stunt. But let's just all pretend for a moment that it was completely sincere. That must feel pretty awesome to have a guy THAT excited about you.

10. What books are in your “books to read” stack?
Oo, good question. Let me show you...

Yep, those 2 shelves. 2 freaking shelves. And yet, I continue to buy books. Why? I don't know. But I have been much better about not buying books lately. I have maybe bought one book each month - which is pretty good. Here's a random selection of some books on those shelves:

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Marathon by Hal Higdon
The Red Scarf by Kate Funrivall

You all know the drill - answer some, answer all, post them on your blog!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fool me twice, shame on me

Last week after the Dog Whisperer & I worked things out, I deleted the post where I talked about the initial communication snafu and the post where I talked about second chances. I figured that I should take them down on the off chance that he found this blog and read them. Now I don't care if he finds this. So read away, Dog Whisperer.

When we left off, he had apologized for not calling me back and I had apologized for reacting like I did. He said he wanted to continue to date and see where this could go.

I really thought we were going to move forward from this. He called me early Wednesday morning to tell me to have a good day so I thought - 'yes! He gets what I was saying about communication being important!'

We chatted again on Thursday night and I suggested that we go out for dinner on Saturday night. He thought that sounded good and said he'd call to confirm plans on Saturday afternoon.

I went to church on Saturday night at 5 and had yet to hear from him. When we talked on Thursday I told him I'd be going to church & would most likely meet up with him after that, so I was trying to remain positive and hopeful - thinking maybe he would call during church or was assuming I'd just come over after church.

I sat down in my pew in church and started perusing the bulletin. An excerpt from Psalm 126 was on the front of the bulletin. It reads as follows:

"The Lord has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed...
Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves."

I read that and thought - wow, that's probably foreshadowing for how the rest of my night is going to go.

And it was - there were definitely some tears on Saturday night.

I called the Dog Whisperer after church at 6 - no answer. So I left a message, asking him what time he wanted to meet up for dinner. He never called on Saturday night. He never called on Sunday. I never did hear from him.

What happened? I have no idea. If he wanted to stop dating, he had his opportunity to end things last weekend. So why apologize and say you want to continue to see me, only to stand me up a few days later? I'm not even angry at him. I am just hurt and confused.

I know we only dated for 5 weeks, but it still hurts. This is the first guy I've been excited about in a long time - like over a year. And I felt like it was really going somewhere - especially since I met his parents, sister, and friends. But apparently I was so wrong.

I guess his nickname should have been Houdini. He sure was good at the disappearing act.


It seems that whenever I see some of my aunts and uncles, they ask if I am dating anyone and when I respond that I'm not, the response I often get is: "Oh, but you've got that great career."

As if it is an either/or proposition. As if having a great career and dating a great guy are mutually exclusive.

I used to shake my head in disagreement when I walked away.

But I guess they were on to something. Maybe my career is all I will have.


I will say this - this experience with the Dog Whisperer might have been 'the final kick in the tires'. I just can't bounce back from these disappointments like I used to. I keep telling myself that I should be good at this by now. I mean, I've been through this a few times.

But no matter how many times my heart has been hurt, it feels like a fresh, brand new feeling every time.

And I am trying to believe that there is some rhyme or reason that God would keep putting me through these disappointments over and over and over again. I'd just really like a sneak peak at this master plan He has for me.

So for now, I am interpreting this as God's sign that I need to throw myself into my work and just forget about dating for awhile.

So that's what I plan on doing.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Over the Top

I received this lovely little award from Becky at Love Everyday Life and I think one other person might have also awarded it to me, but I can't seem to remember who... sorry... my brain is fried these days!

In order to accept this award I have to answer the following questions and then pass the love onto six other bloggers, so here goes.

By the way, I've answered these before but was restricted to answering w/ one word, so I am re-answering them since I can now expound on answers if need be!

  1. here is your cell phone: on the coffee table
  2. Your hair: in need of hair dye
  3. Your mother: compassionate
  4. Your father: a proxy for the kind of man I would like to marry
  5. Your favorite food: pickles
  6. Your dream from last night: I dreamed I was going to grad school in Cuba... Bizarre, I know.
  7. Your favorite drink: water with cucumbers
  8. Your dream/goal: to have a family some day
  9. What room are you in: living room
  10. What is your hobby: reading
  11. What is your fear: Not living up to expectations at work
  12. Where do you want to be in 6 years: in a house in SW Minneapolis
  13. Where were you last night: at home
  14. Something you are not: patient
  15. Muffins: Blueberry
  16. Wish list items: GPS - I get lost ALL THE TIME
  17. Where did you grow up: North Dakota
  18. Last thing you did: Sent a text message
  19. What are you wearing: a t-shirt and pajama pants
  20. Your TV: in use at the moment
  21. Your pets: None - I can't keep a plant alive, probably not a good idea for me to have a pet.
  22. Your friends: irreplaceable
  23. Your life: busy
  24. Your mood: tense
  25. Missing someone: friends & family
  26. Vehicle: silver Honda Accord
  27. Something you're not wearing: socks
  28. Your favorite store: Banana Republic
  29. Your favorite color: pink
  30. When's the last time you laughed: At work on Monday
  31. When's the last time you cried: Sunday
  32. Your best friend: Caring
  33. One place you go over and over: Target
  34. One person who emails me regularly: Heidi
  35. Favorite place to eat: My mom's
Here's my 6 - it's so tough to pick because I definitely read & love more than 6 blogs!

Roots & Rings
My Life with a Crazy Puppy
Walking Through the Rain
This Girl...
Suburban Euphoria
Cherry Blossoms

Monday, October 26, 2009

Friday Night Cooking Lesson

Happy Monday, my dear readers! Did you have a great weekend?

My Friday night was wonderful. I went over to my aunt & uncle's house for a little cooking lesson and let me tell you - it was a magical night. We had quite the group! I think there were about 16 of us in total. Such a fun group!

My aunt selected a Julia Child recipe - we both have read "Julie & Julia" and "My Life in France" and adore Julia Child so figured it was fitting for us to make one of her recipes. Barb selected a Paella recipe - I had never made paella before so was so excited to give this recipe a try.

Without further adieu, here is my night in pictures!

As I have said before, you need to wear a cute apron when cooking. I used this cooking lesson as an excuse to buy aprons for us from Anthropology. They seriously have THE cutest aprons!

We started out the night with some Sangria,


and Olives!

After enjoying the delicious aps, it was time to get down to business. My aunt and I each cooked a batch in tandem - we were feeding 12 adults and didn't want to risk running out of food so we made 2 batches of the Paella. Here is a picture of my aunt and I getting the recipe started!

My dad doesn't do much cooking, but he wanted to sneak in and pretend he was cooking. He was a bit sheepish about it - hence the odd face he is making!

He decided to hand the wooden spoon back to my aunt and hopped into a photo with my mom and nephew Matthew. I guess this was 'make odd faces' night for my dad. :)

Now, here are some photos of the recipe progressing through the night:

And here we are with the finished product!

It was so, so, so good! Definitely the best paella I have ever eaten!! And the recipe is actually quite do-able and something I could easily repeat again - and definitely will. I am so glad my aunt took the time to do this little cooking lesson with me. I am already feeling much more confident in the kitchen!

Oh, and my aunt sent me home with a bunch of leftovers - which were amazing the second time around! I pretty much ate paella for every meal this weekend - I love leftovers!

So what did you do this weekend?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Chicago Trip - Part II

Happy Friday! Whew - what a week. I'm kind of exhausted. But I am looking forward to the weekend. Tonight I am doing my 'culinary bootcamp' with my aunt Barb. We are going to make a Julia Child recipe for a big family dinner. My parents are driving down from North Dakota, my brother & his family are coming, and my Godparents will be there w/ their son & grandchildren, so it will be quite the big group! I can't wait - I do so love that I have such a big family!

So it's been almost a month since I went to Chicago and I am just getting around to Part II of my trip. What can I say - life has been a bit chaotic since then. New Job. Training for a half. You know - not a lot of free time!

Anywho. When I last left off, I had told you all about the Frank Lloyd Wright tour that I took on Saturday. Today I am going to tell you about my Sunday - in pictures. We spent that Sunday north of Chicago in an area where my sister-in-law's siblings live. There was a farm show that had tractors, hay rides, and a petting zoo so we thought it would be fun to take Kolin there. He LOVES anything that has wheels so of course, this was a hit with him.

Without further ado, here are the pics!

Hanging out in his pj's before we headed out for the day.

I love tractors!!

Feeding the goats

Watching the tractor parade. This is my favorite pic - I love how he has his head resting on my brother's head. So sweet.

On the Hay ride

It's tough to get him to sit still long enough for a picture!!

The yummy veggies my sister-in-law's brother cooked up at the end of the day. Yum!!

I am so glad I got to spend 3 days with my brother, his wife, and Kolin. I don't get as much Kolin & Lisa time as I would like so those 3 days were amazing. Now that Southwest flies between Minneapolis and Chicago, I am hoping to do more trips like this!

So what are you up to this weekend? And how often do you see your siblings?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ten on Thursday - Take 2

I am experiencing major brain drain. I'm still adjusting to my new schedule. It goes something like this:

-Get up at 5:15
-Take 6:48 bus to work
-Work, work, work. Try to catch on to everything. Try not to feel like the village idiot.
-Take the 5:08 bus home.
-Read blogs/comment

I typically get home around 7:30 - 8 and I go to bed at 10 so my nights feel extremely short!

So yah, I am a little exhausted. But yesterday I was in the best mood all day long - because I had a haircut & color scheduled that night. I hadn't seen my usual girl since March (she called in sick when I went in before my sister's wedding). So I was so pumped to see her, catch up on her life, and have her work her magic on my hair. Which was in desperate need of a clean up & color. Because, good Lord, the gray hairs are infiltrating like crazy. Hi, I am 28. Why do I need to have tons of gray hair? Thank you God for these fantastic genes I apparently have. It could be worse, I guess. At least I have hair.

Anyways, I drove into work v. taking the bus, and rushed out of work to get there on time - only to find out that something went wrong in their scheduling system so my appt had been deleted. I really wanted to cry. Ok - I didn't, but I'm not going to lie - I was a bit on the salty side. They can't get me in w/ my gal until 11/4 so I have to put up my hair for another 2 weeks. Le sigh.

Oh, and I almost forgot. I got some soup at lunch from a local deli and it was SO HOT it burned the roof of my mouth to the extent where some of the skin is now peeling off. Ok - tmi and gross, but it drives home the point of how freaking hot the soup was!

So let's do something fun to get my mind off my crankiness from yesterday/last night. What would be fun? Borrowing from Chelsea and doing Ten on Thursday again.

1. What's your favorite late night talk show?
- I don't have one because I can't even stay up late enough to watch the freaking news. 5:15 comes really fricking fast people.

2. If you got an all expense paid week-long trip for two, where would you go and who would you take?
- I would take my mom to Italy - specifically to the Vatican and Assissi because we are both Catholic and there is so much to see and do related to Catholicism there!

3. What's your stance on Botox?
- To each their own but personally I think it's very vain and unnecessary. I think wrinkles are part of the aging process.

4. I have to read a few classics for my 101 in 1001. Do you have any recommendations?
- Pride & Prejudice. Sort of tough to get into initially since the language isn't super pedestrian, but if you can get past that, it is such a lovely story.

5. Have you ever broken any bones?
- In 3rd grade a boy fell on my arm when we were playing flag football and I got a hairline fracture. Hurt like crazy. But I didn't get to get a cast since it was just a fracture and I was PISSED. I thought it would be so cool to have a cast. How lame am I? I also thought having crutches would be really fun...

6. What are your top five favorite television shows?
- Project Runway, Private Practice, Top Chef, How I Met Your Mother, Brothers & Sisters.

7. What is something you are embarassed to admit?
- Um, I own a webkinz. Do you not know what that is? Oh, that is ok because it's marketed to elementary age children. In my defense, I do not play any of the games anymore - I did 2 years ago when I had apparently had no life, but I can honestly say I haven't logged in since maybe last December?

8. Best movie line ever?
- "After all... I'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her." - Notting Hill

9. Cupcakes, cakes, or brownies?
- Definitely cupcakes.

10. Can someone PUH-LEASE help me find a dress to wear to a few weddings this winter?
- Ooo, I suck at figuring out dresses for winter weddings. Oh, but wait, Chelsea lives in Texas - not the frozen tundra that is Minnesota.

Ok, totally failed on the budget aspect ($40) but I think this is a cute gray dress:

I love Shabby Apple. I have wanted many things off their website but am always nervous they won't fit right. I know I should just order something and see how it works out.

Alright - your turn. Answer any/all in your comments or do this on your blog!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Book Review: The Year of Magical Thinking

I do not remember why this book ended up on my to-read list, or why I bought it, but I am so glad I did. "The Year of Magical Thinking" was such a good book. Disclaimer: it is not a happy book. The author, Joan Didion, abruptly lost her husband in January of 2004; this book tells the story of her grieving process. It gives you a glimpse into what it is like to be a widow - especially when it happens so suddenly.

My grandfather passed away very abruptly in February of this past year so reading this gave me a better idea of what my grandma has gone and continues to go through. I, of course, have never lost a spouse, but I was still able to relate to the author. I've lost grandparents so know what it is like to grieve for someone. There are still days where I ask myself if my Grandpa is really gone. Similar to the husband of the author, my grandfather died pretty suddenly from cardiac complications. The author was there when her husband passed away - as were my grandma, mom, and dad. The author replays those final moments - over and over and over. How terrible.

Here are a couple passages that struck me:

"... I would be fine alone. And I was. Until the morning. When, only half awake, I tried to think why I was alone in bed. There was a leaden feeling. It was the same leaden feeling with which I woke on mornings after John and I had fought. Had we had a fight? What about, how had it started, how could we fix it if I could not remember how it started? (p. 31)

"I know why we try to keep the dead alive: we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us.

I also know that if we are to live ourselves there comes a point at which we must relinquish the dead, let them go, keep them dead.

Let them become the photograph on the table.

Let them become the name on the trust account.

Let go of them in the water (p.225-6)."

This isn't a book that I would widely recommend because it is such a heavy subject. If you have any interest in the grieving process, I highly recommend. Didion did an amazing job of baring her soul and showing what it was like to live through that first year without her husband.

I'm going to close with a stanza of a poem that Didion includes in her book:

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
~ W.H.Auden

I had a really vivid dream about my grandpa on Friday night - it was so wonderful to see him and hear his voice, but it was weird because in the dream I knew he was not alive so I couldn't stop crying. Do you ever dream about loved ones you have lost?

Friday, October 16, 2009

My Life in Books

I saw this little meme here and thought it'd be fun to attempt. It's kind of a little brain teaser since you have to think about all the books you've read this year. I actually only review a few of the books I read each month so this gives you a better idea of what all I've been reading in 2009

Here goes!

Describe yourself: The Reader (Bernhard Schlink)

How you feel: The Elegance of the Hedgehog (Muriel Barbery)

Describe where you currently live: The Ice House (Minette Walters)

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: My Life in France (Julia Child)

Your favorite form of transportation: Riding the Bus with my Sister (Rachel Simon)

Your best friend is: The Smart One and the Pretty One (Claire LaZebnik)

You and your friends are: Tales of a Female Nomad (Rita Golden Gelman)

What's the weather like: Lush Life (Richard Price)

Your fear: The Dud Avocado (Elaine Dundy)

What is the best advice you have to give: The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry (Kathleen Flinn)

Thought for the day: And Sometimes Why (Rebecca Johnson)

How would I like to die: Nineteen Minutes (Jodi Picoult)

My soul's present condition: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Jean-Dominique Bauby)

So could you fill out a meme like this with all the books you've read this year? It was definitely tough and some answers make more sense than others!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ten on Thursday

Chelsea did this over on her blog so I thought I'd borrow her idea and do this today. Here are 10 random questions:

1. If you won the lottery, what would be your one random, off-the-wall purchase?
A black baby grand piano.

2. What is popular now that you just don’t get?
Sorry to get political on you, but I have to say Barack Obama. And leggings. They look horrible on me.

3. What would your last meal, you know, if you were ever about to be executed and you got to choose that sort of thing?
Hmmm, that is hard to answer. I would probably eat an entire bowl of guacamole as an appetizer. Then I would switch cuisines and have a huge bowl of pasta with shrimp and some sort of red sauce. I would have lots of dark chocolate for dessert. Mmmm...

4. When is it okay to start listening to Christmas music?
The day after Thanksgiving.

5. How do you feel about facial hair on men?
Not a fan. I know very few people who can actually pull it off.

6. McDonald’s or Burger King?
Not a fan of either, really, but I'd probably pick McD's over BK.

7. What kind of soap do you use?

8. What movie can you watch over and over and never get tired of?
You've Got Mail, When Harry Met Sally, The Holiday

9. Favorite beverage?
NA: water with cucumbers (don't knock it until you try it).
Alcohol: a well-made margarita or glass of white wine

10. What do you want for Christmas?
Those books I blogged about yesterday. Some yarn for my knitting projects. B&N gift cards. A GPS.

Ok - your turn. Answer any/all of them in your comment or answer them on your blog!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Return to the Classics

Thank you for all of your sweet comments yesterday. I am feeling better. I don't know how pregnant people put up with like 3+ months of nausea! I guess it's tolerable because it's nausea with a purpose!

Ok, I know I was just talking about fall, but it feels like Christmas around here with the snow we've been getting lately! My best friend Brooke starts listening to Christmas music after Halloween has passed! I don't start singing Christmas Carols that early, but the holidays are definitely on my mind - especially my wish list. After all, my mom has 5 kids, 4 daughters/sons-in-law, and 4 grandchildren to shop for, so I try to give her some specific ideas to make it as easy as possible for her!

How fabulous are these books? They are definitely going on my wish list!

Collection of books spotted here, available for purchase here.

I will be the first to admit that I don't read enough of the classics - which is why I read Anna Karenina this summer. My goal is to read a couple of classics every year. So if a couple of these found their way into my stocking on Christmas Morning, I'd be pleased as punch.

I know I have alot of books and sometimes I think I need to stop buying books because I am running out of room in my teeny tiny condo.

But then my cousin Suzanne sends me a photo like this..

And I don't feel so bad about this book buying addiction that I have...

What is your favorite classic book?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Comfort Foods

Last night I felt, in a word, pukey. No idea what my deal is. I have kind of felt like this for the past day or so. It's getting old. I am hoping today is a better health day for me. It's draining to feel nauseated all day!

Now that I am gluten free, my good old stand by comfort foods aren't an option anymore.

If I wasn't gluten free, I'd eat:

Some Chicken Noodle Soup

Or some saltines

or maybe a bowl of boiled macoroni

I am pretty sure there are GF options for 2 of these 3 items. I just don't feel like going to a grocery store and shopping for them.

So instead I ate a baked potato last night since I figured it would probably be easy on my tummy.

I don't have time to be sick so am hoping this little bug goes away very quickly!!

What are your go to comfort foods?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Story Time

Good Morning and Happy Monday to you all!

It's story time. I've had some news to share with you all for awhile, but I have been hesitant to share it because I have this stupid sense of paranoia and feel that as soon as I share some exciting news a few days will pass and I will have to come back and say - yah, that good news? Never mind, it didn't work out.

So here it is. I met a guy!

We met in the most random way. Before I get into the story, you should know that a) I am kind of afraid of dogs, b) I am not a forward person when it comes to approaching the opposite sex, and c) I NEVER mess up dates/times for commitments.

So let's turn back the clock to three weeks ago. I was supposed to be volunteering for a 5k on a Sunday morning. Or so I thought. Turns out it was on Saturday so I totally missed it. I never mess up my schedule - never. I was so pissed at myself. It was 9 am and I had to be at a friend's house at 11:30, so I decided to go to Caribou for a while and get the paper rather than drive all the way back home just to turn around and drive north to the suburb my friend lives in.

Ok, so I am fuming and so pissed at myself at this point, but I get my water and paper and go sit on the patio of Caribou (local coffee shop). There is a table of 5 people next to me, and one of the guys has a dog. His dog kept coming over and standing by me, basically asking me to pet him. So I kept petting him, and he kept coming back for me, and shockingly - I liked this dog. He didn't scare me. I wasn't intimidated by him. When the dog kept coming over to me, I heard his owner say something like, "I guess my dog wants to hang out by the pretty girl."

I had also heard him say he was single (I was totally eavesdropping on their conversation). So I texted my friend Heidi and told her what was going on and she wrote back and said I had to give him my number. I never do this, but after her urging, I figured - what the heck. What's the worst that can happen? At one point it was just the dog owner and one other person, so I gathered my stuff up and he said - "have a great Sunday" so I was like - ok, self, you can do this.

So I walked over, and said, "I never do this, and I have no idea if you are single (I totally did), but I wanted to give you my number." He stood up, shook my hand, and said he would most definitely call me.

And call me he did - that very same night. Unfortunately our schedules just didn't match up - he was out of town for work, then I was in Chicago, then he was out of town for work, so we had our first date a little over a week ago, and last night I went to a party that he hosted at his house... where I met a group of his friends, his sister and brother-in-law, and his parents.

Yep, I know it sounds like dating on speed.

But you know what - it doesn't feel like we are moving too fast. It feels just right.

He gives me butterflies. He opens my car door for me. He seems to embrace my quirks and finds them endearing. It feels really good to be excited about someone - it's been a really long time since I've met someone that I'm quite smitten with.

Who knows where this will go. But either way - I have learned that you really can meet someone at the least expected moment.

Oh, and remember this post where I said life had come full circle? I think I needed to get to the point where I didn't feel like I 'needed' someone so I could meet someone.

So that's my story for the day.

So tell me, dear readers, how did you meet your significant other? If you are single, would you ever give your number away like I did?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Yoo Hoo! Over here!

Happy Friday! I am going to keep this short because you can go here - I am the featured runner on the Runner's Lounge this week!!! So go over there & read about me, if you feel so inclined! And if you are interested in running at all, Runner's Lounge is a great place to check out!

Week one at my new job is coming to a close and boy has it been an intense week. I am averaging about 5 hours of meeting a day, much of which is training. It's kind of overwhelming, but it's all good. I definitely feel like I am 'drinking out of a fire hose' right now, but I expected that since I changed industries. And with a new industry comes new acronyms, processes, financial measures, etc. It's great to be challenged again, though! My schedule has been turned upside down, though. I leave the house around 6:20 and get home around 8 so the days are long! I've still managed to fit in runs after work so I am proud of myself for making time for that. I wasn't so good about that when I was in grad school...

My insomnia continues. It's really frustrating. I am hoping it's just the anxiety of a new job. So hopefully after a month or so, things will improve on that front. My alarm goes off at 5:15 which means I am averaging about 5 hours of sleep a night which isn't nearly enough... So yah. I kind of feel like I am running on empty right now, but hopefully that will change!

I have a pretty low key weekend ahead of me. I am going to a house party on Saturday night and Sunday I plan on doing a 10 mile training run and making some savory comfort food for dinner because guess what - we are getting a rain/snow mix on both Saturday and Monday. WHAT!!!?!?!? Um, fall, seriously - don't be the petulent child and please bring back the lovely fall temps. I am not ready for winter outerwear. Thanks.

What all are you guys up to this weekend?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Honest Scrap

I was tagged by OH of OH! BOOKS...PAPER...REAL LIFE. The rules? I have to list "10 things others don't know about me".

Hmm. 10. That's alot - especially for someone like me that is sort of an open book. Here goes.

1. I have been told that I should never play poker. I do not have a poker face. You can easily tell when I am happy, sad, mad, frustrated, etc. It totally shows in my eyes and my facial expressions.
2. I used to have trouble with insomnia. Then it went away. Well, it's back with avengeance. Not fun. I kind of want to take a Benadryl every night - but I won't because I don't want to have to rely on something to help me fall asleep. I am hoping this is a passing phase.
3. I am really anal/OCD about the randomest things. Like towels. I have purple and gray towels in my bathroom - I will only use purple towels in the morning and gray towels in the evening. Bizarre, I know.
4. When I talk on the phone, I often stand in my kitchen and step on every other tile. Back and forth. Back and forth. See #3 - yes, I have OCD tendencies.
5. I love to sing along to songs when I am driving - but if I pull up next to someone in traffic or at a stop light, I will either stop singing or I will stop moving my lips because I don't want it to look like I am talking to myself!
6. I kind of hate Halloween - at least as an adult. I love celebrating it with my nephews. But you will never be able to talk me into going to a costume party. I will boycott it and show up in my usual clothing and say I am a librarian or something like that.
7. I have a twin! Kidding. I don't. But I feel like my little sister is my twin. We've been told we look alike, our nephews have trouble telling us apart, and we have a lot in common. I think out of the 5 kids in my family, we are the most similar!
8. I used to be a sun godess and layed out for hours. Not anymore. I am diligent about applying sunscreen because Skin Cancer freaks me out!
9. I can't stand ticking clocks. If I can hear one when I am falling asleep, I have to get up and take the batteries out because that ticking will drive me crazy!!
10. I adore knitting! It's one of my favorite hobbies.

So there you have it - still want to read my blog after reading about all my quirks?

I am supposed to tag people, but I am going to break the rules (for a change) and ask any of you that are interested to do this on your blog. I LOVE reading random facts about people!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sunday Night Dinners: Chicken with Mushrooms and White Wine

Happy Wednesday! I have another recipe to share with you. This one was a HIT. Probably one of the best pasta dishes I have ever made. I rarely eat pasta anymore - the gluten free stuff just isn't the same as regular pasta. I was hoping to make quinoa pasta, but couldn't find any! I went to 3 different grocery stores and struck out at all 3, so I went with a rice/potato starch pasta. Which was decent. It's good when it's covered in sauce - not something I'd eat solo, though.

First off, you should probably don a cute apron. I love aprons! My friend Heidi collects them - if I had more room in my kitchen, I would totally collect them, too, but I have limited myself to only 2 aprons. This William Sonoma one is my favorite!

Since I am always cooking alone, I am a big fan of the 'mise en place' approach to cooking - which translates to "putting in place". I have learned that having everything chopped ahead of time reduces the chance of me having a panic attack while cooking!

Now, for the recipe. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 7 minutes.

Transfer to a plate.

Add another teaspoon of oil and the mushrooms to the skillet.

Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are browned, about 5 minutes. When I was browning the mushrooms, I couldn't help but think of that scene from Julie and Julia where Julie Powell exclaims - 'don't crowd the mushrooms!'

Stir in the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and herbes de Provence. Cook until the onion is softened, about 3 minutes.

Sprinkle with the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute longer.

Add the broth and wine and bring to a boil.

Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet.

Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Sprinkle with the parsley, if using. Serve with the pasta.

I paired my pasta with a tossed salad.

Like I said, it was delicious! The recipe yields 4 generous portions. Please note - I NEVER eat that huge of a portion but I figured I would easily burn it off on Sunday morning with my 10 mile run!

I had leftovers when I got home from my run on Sunday and it was just as good the second time around. I will definitely be making this one again.

I'm slowly, but surely gaining confidence in the kitchen. I'm hoping to really jump up the learning curve after a little informal cooking class with my aunt and mom later this month. They are both amazing cooks, so I intend to learn as much as I can from them!

Here are the ingredients to the recipe:

4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
salt & pepper to taste
2 t. olive oil
4 oz. mushrooms, halved
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. herbes de Provence
1 T. all-purpose flour (I used a GF blend of flours)
1 c. chicken broth
3/4 c. dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
4 cups hot cooked pasta

Serving = 1 chicken breast, 2/3 c. sauce, 1 c. pasta

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My First Day!

My first day at my new job went really well. I was pretty much in training all day long, learning about my employer's mission, vision, and values. They do a really good job of introducing you to the culture and explaining what makes the company so successful. I am definitely even more excited to be joining this company!

Here's my first day outfit.

My apologies for the terrible self photo! It totally felt like my first day of school! I picked out and tried on my outfit the night before. I wanted to make sure I made a good first impression! And of course I had my signature item - a cardigan!

The dress code at my company is way dressier than what I am used to - they prefer that women wear either a suit or a dress - so I now have an excuse to buy more dresses. Which is a good thing because I LOVE wearing dresses! It makes me feel so feminine! I also do think that the dress code impacts the performance and productivity of a company. It just puts you in a different frame of mind. When I was in college, I dressed up on the days I had exams - I've always thought that when you look good, you feel good, and you perform better.

Tomorrow is my first 'real' day of work. I met my manager and co-workers today but didn't get much time with my manager so tomorrow will be more like a 'normal' day. The division I support has a big quarterly breakfast meeting tomorrow so it will be a great opportunity for me to do some networking and meet people I'll be collaborating with!

Oh, and I have already used my employee discount. :)

What is the dress code like where you work? Do you enjoy dressing up as much as I do?

Monday, October 5, 2009

It all started with a book shelf

It all started with a bookshelf.

I wanted it to go from looking like this:

To looking like this:

Much better, right? So on Friday, I went into my storage unit to retrieve the bookshelf. It's important to note that my condo and storage unit are both on the 2nd floor. I walked into my storage unit and had a super delayed response. My brain said:

"Self, are we starting in about a 1/2 inch of water?"

Yes, indeed I was. Now I am used to dealing with flooding because I grew up in the Red River Valley and our basement flooded a few times. I'll never forget the morning my mom came down to wake us up for school and discovered that our carpet was floating on inches upon inches of water.

But, stupidly, I thought I had left those flooding days behind. Especially since I live on the 2nd floor. Wrongo batman. Apparently when they turned the heat on yesterday, something went wrong, which resulted in lots o' water in my storage unit.

Fan-freaking-tastic. Luckily most of my stuff was in plastic bins, but I did have a box of books and a box of sheets/mattress pads that were sitting in the water. 2 books were damaged and I had to throw out a mattress pad. Not terrible - it could have been much worse. But still super annoying.

So my condo went from looking super clean and spacious, to looking like this:

That's the majority of what is in storage. The building manager kept telling other residents that he hoped they didn't have 'that much stuff' in their storage units. I personally don't think that is alot. 3 of those bins have Christmas stuff, and most of the boxes are actually empty, just waiting for the day that I can sell this place and start to pack up.

So yah, this little fiasco threw a curve ball at me so I didn't get the rest of my to do list done - it took quite a while to move all those boxes (and some other boxes that aren't in the picture) from my storage unit into my condo.

And I was already in an epically bad mood to start with since my Home Depot shopping experience that morning was 'pleasant', as usual. I walked in, asked where I could find the laminate floor putty, and was given a 10 minute pitch on how I should remodel my kitchen. Um, yah. I own a depreciating asset that has tanked in value so much as it is, I really don't feel like putting even more money into it. Oh, and the person delivering the pitch was like a toned down version of Micheal Scott. He got uber excited when he described how I could have glass doors on one of my cupboard to display - wait for it - wine glasses!! I wanted to say - calm the hell down, sir. No one is that excited about a glass display door on a cabinet.

Oh, and when I said no thanks, he walked away and didn't answer my initial question. And then I finally found what I was looking for, but they didn't have the color of putty that I needed, so I had to go to a 2nd Home Depot store.

So yah, Friday was pretty craptastic.

But I am lucky that I went into my storage unit on Friday because more damage would have been done if my stuff had sat in the water for days, weeks, etc.

So that was the conclusion of my stay-cation. Today is my first day back at work and I am so excited! I kind of feel like it's my first day of school - I have been thinking about my outfit selection for days now!

I'm sure I'll be back tomorrow to let you know how it goes!!

So tell me about your weekend! Did you do anything fun!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

TC 10 Mile Race Recap

Greetings! I hope everyone is having a great weekend.

The Twin Cities Marathon/10 mile was today! We finally had perfect weather - it pretty much rained non-stop the previous 3 days so I was relieved that it didn't rain today.

I started out the race weekend by going to the Expo on Saturday. There is definitely a tangible buzz at marathon expos. It's the prime place to contract the 'marathon bug'. I had already decided to do a marathon next fall, but being at the marathon expo made me even more excited to run in another marathon.

Of course the highlight of the expo was meeting my running mentor - Hal Higdon!! The guy is a legend in the running community. He's part of my daily life.

That lovely grid hangs on my fridge and tells me what to do every day. So meeting the master mind behind these training plans was awesome.

I tried not to be too star-struck, but I was pretty giddy when I met him. I bought his new book, which is a novel, which he graciously autographed for me! I was too shy to ask for a photo with him but am really regretting this as my friend Brooke said many people got their photo taken with him. Oh well, that's what I get for being so shy/star struck in his presence. Yes, I realize this makes me a dork.

Here's a photo of the page of the book that he autographed for me!

The rest of my Saturday was pretty low key. I made an awesome pasta dish which I'll be sharing with you later this week. Then I laid out my running clothes & other items I'd need in the morning, which is a race ritual for me.

I had to be up at 5 am so attempted to get to bed early. Total fail. I tossed. I turned. I said Hail Marys. I said Our Fathers. I got back up and read another chapter. Nothing worked. I've been a bit of an insomniac this week, so I shouldn't have been so surprised.

I must have fallen asleep around 1 am? So my 5 a.m. alarm came entirely too fast. I was excited for the race, though, so I jumped out of bed and got ready for my race.

After a breakfast of Corn Chex and some home-made GF banana bread (another post to come later this week), I was ready to head out the door!

Yah, I look a little groggy!

It was a cool 43 degrees when the race started, but the cool weather felt wonderful. The race couldn't have gone better. My goal was 1:40 - 1:45. My chip time was 1:36:10!! Here is how my splits broke down:

Mile 1: 9:08
Mile 2: 9:19
Mile 3: 9:43
Mile 4: 9:27
Mile 5: 9:55
Mile 6: 10:12
Mile 7: 9:57
Mile 8: 9:30
Mile 9: 9:40
Mile 10: 9:19

So there you have it. Totally blew my time goal out of the water! And I am really happy that my last mile was my 2nd fastest. I tend to kind of lose steam towards the end, so wasn't expecting a 9:19 split! I'll run my half on 10/31 and am now thinking I might be able to PR! We'll see!

Now I am going to spend the remainder of the day knocking out a few more things on that to-do list.

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Vacation Recap

Well, here we are on the final day of my vacation. Sure, I've got the weekend, but I know that is going to fly by! I can't believe how fast my 2 weeks have gone. I kind of thought that the time would go by a little more slowly! I have gotten quite a bit of stuff done, though. I've seen lots of friends - I basically had a dinner or lunch w/ someone every day during my vacation.

And I've done so-so on the to do list.

I've crossed off quite a bit - mostly cleaning tasks. Most of the stuff I have left to do requires a trip to Home Depot. Can I just say how much I hate going to that place. First off, I can NEVER find anyone to help me, and when I do manage to track someone down, they treat me like a complete moron. I hate it. I usually try to seek out some retirement-age employee because they are usually the most knowledgeable and helpful. *sigh* But I have decided to go to Home Depot today so wish me luck.

I haven't solved my book problem yet.

Houston, we have a problem. Do you see all the stacks of books on the shelves - my cup runneth over. I already have 2 other bookshelves that are packed to the max. So I either need to pack these books away, or I need to swap out my bedside stand with yet another bookshelf. Let me remind you that my condo is a whopping 720 square feet. I buy books like I live in a mansion. You know the whole "old woman who lived her in shoes" rhyme? Yah, I am going to be the old woman who lived in a house made of books. I think I am going to end up swapping out my bedside stand... I just can't bare the thought of packing these books away!

Oh, and when I was cleaning my closet out, I discovered that I own 6 black cardigans. No joke. In addition to hoarding books, I apparently hoard cardigans. Let's not even talk about how many cardigans I own in total. Yikes. You know those people who store like jars of water in case the end of the world comes so they are prepared? I guess I am doing that, but I'm preparing for J. Crew and Banana Republic to close down their operations (which would be a really, really sad day in my world).

Alright, enough about my hoarding habits. I am fully expecting an email diagnosis from my cousin Suzanne who is in med school and has done some psych rotations.

The Twin Cities 10 mile is on Sunday so that is kind of the focus of my weekend. This will be the first time I will be 'carb loading' gluten free. I am going to make some quinoa pasta so I guess I'm not quite off my quinoa kick just yet.

Oh, and for you runners out there, you will appreciate this. I was talking to my best friend that works for the company sponsoring this weekend's marathon/10 Mile (Medtronic). She said she had to volunteer and I asked what she'd be doing. She said, 'oh, I have to escort this guy around.' I asked who. She said Hal Higdon!! She didn't even know who he was! I used Hal's books & training plan when I trained for the marathon, I am using his 1/2 marathon training plan for my 10/31 half, and I am currently reading his book, "Run Fast" - so I am kind of fan.

So yah, I might be the dork that tries to get his autograph. Or Brooke might snag it for me if I can't stalk him track him down at the expo on Saturday night.

What are you all up to this weekend? Is there anything you buy excessive amounts of - like black cardigans? Come on - share and make me feel more normal!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Book Review: Olive Kitteridge

Greetings! I haven't done a book review in quite awhile! But I have a great one to review today. My friend Katie and I are starting a book club this month and we selected Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout for our first meeting. Katie had read it and loved it so I couldn't wait to dig in. That is a picture of my copy of the book to the left - check out all the post-it flags I used! I originally planned to borrow this book from Katie, but have decided that I need a copy of my own so purchased a copy to give back to her. Plus it got a little beat up on my trip to and from Chicago.

I had read Amy and Isabelle, which was also written by Strout, when I was in high school and loved it. This book was even better. It's basically a collection of short stories that are tied together by a central character in the book - Olive Kitteridge. Truth be told, I am usually not a huge fan of short stories, but I loved this book. Strout really delves into the intricacies of relationships - from husband/wife to parent/child to friend/friend. She writes some things so subtly - in other words, she doesn't dumb it down and tell you everything, she lets you figure it out by her use of language.

I will say that Olive is definitely not a likeable character, but the book works despite the fact that she is so unlikeable! She's reaching the end of her life and is pretty bitter about a lot of things. She's always looking to blame someone else and doesn't utter the words, "I'm sorry" or "That's my fault" very often. She's kind of a curmudgeon. I think we probably all know people who have similar characteristics. But she does evolve, to some extent, by the end of the book.

I won't tell you much more as I don't want to spoil it for you, but here are a few of the passages that I marked to re-read:

  • "You couldn't make yourself stop feeling a certain way, no matter what the other person did. You had to just wait. Eventually the feeling went away because others came along. Or sometimes it didn't go away but got squeezed into something tiny, and hung like a piece of tinsel in the back of your mind." (p. 57)
  • "She took a deep, quiet breath and thought how she did not envy those young girls in the ice cream shop. Behind the bored eyes of the waitresses handing out sundaes there loomed, she knew, great earnestness, great desires, and great disappointments; such confusion lay ahead for them, and (more wearisome) anger; oh, before they were through, they would blame and blame and blame, and then get tired, too. (p. 139)
  • "People mostly did not know enough when they were living life that they were living it." (p. 162)

I highly recommend this book. If you read it, tell me what you think of it! I can't wait to see what the other girls in the book club think of it. We are meeting at the end of this month!