Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ghost Town

Lately, I have been feeling like I live in a ghost town. The ghosts I am encountering are not of the "Casper-the-Friendly-Ghost" persuasion.

No, these are the ghosts of relationships past.

Now, when I accepted my job at The Chariot, I knew that I was going to be working closely with The Charioteer. I've gotten used to seeing him on a daily basis. Do I love the fact that when I stand up in my cube, I look directly into his cube? Eh, not so much.

I also knew I'd occasionally see The Deux. We don't see each other all that frequently since he works two floors above me. I actually haven't seen him much since the whole Two Exes and a Wedding experience. Which is nice - I mean, a girl can only handle so many run-ins with her exes right?

Well, I clearly hadn't hit my quota for June.

Let me set the scene for you. I had just finished a hot, sweaty 6 mile run with my running group on Sunday morning and decided to treat myself to a post-run iced tea. So I pretty much couldn't have looked worse. I walk towards the coffee shop and see a guy entering the store and think - hmm, that guy looks familiar. He turns back and I realize - oh wait, that's the freaking Dog Whisperer. Remember him? The guy I dated last fall who basically stood me up one night and then proceeded to fall off the face of the earth ?

We both pretended not to notice each other and he exited out of the back of the store, so luckily we didn't have to exchange words.

Even though he was such an insignificant person in my life, it still rattled my cage to see him. My heart was racing and my hands were shaking as I handed over my debit card to pay for my drink. And I was cursing the fact that he saw me looking like that - and not in a cute, summer dress, sans post-workout sweat.

As I was driving home, I thought of a quote from the lovely Carrie Bradshaw. It's from the episode where she sees Aidan at the Grand Opening of Steve's Bar:

“New York is definitely haunted. Old lovers, ex-boyfriends, anyone you have unresolved issues with you are bound to run into again and again until you resolve them.”

I know having a brief encounter with an old flame is not a big deal. I know I will never get closure or an explanation for his Houdini disappearance. And that is fine. It just makes me feel like maybe my city is getting just a little bit too small sometimes.

Lesson learned - no more post-run beverages at this coffee shop.

Do you ever feel like your world is becoming smaller? Maybe it's in a good way and you run into people you want to see. Maybe it's in a not-so-good way and you run into old boyfriends or friends you've grown apart from?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, everyone. Here's another batch of question - courtesy of Chelsea of Roots and Rings! Do you have 10 questions you'd like to ask? Send them to her, I think she's always looking for sets of questions to post!

1. What was/is your favorite live action (meaning not animated) kids movie?
I had a hard time coming up with one.... I really don't have a favorite non-animated movie. If i had to choose, I'd say The Never Ending Story?

2. What is a bad habit you have? Are you working on breaking it?
Biting my nails. I tend to do it when I am tense/stressed. I've worked on breaking it, and do well, as long as I am not stressed out. If I am stressed, all bets are off.

3. Describe your father in 3 words.
- Humorous
- Hard-working
- Humble

4. Which character in the Breakfast Club were you most like in the ’80s?
Oh wow, I don't think I really related to any of the kids.... I enjoyed the movie, but I can't really say I am similar to any of them!

5. Name 5 songs you know ALL the lyrics to.
You Oughtta Know by Alanis Morisette
The Luckiest by Ben Folds
Fall Apart Again by Brandi Carlile
Sort Of by Ingrid Michaelson
Dusk and Summer by Dashboard Confessional

*song lyrics are kind of my thing. When I am in the car, I am usually alone and singing along to something off my iPod. So this is just a random assortment of some of the songs I like to sing!

6. Do you make pancakes from scratch or a box mix?
I use My mom uses Pamela's GF baking mix when she makes them for me. Which happens about twice a year because I'm not a huge breakfast person, so I don't like her to go to the trouble of making a special batter for me in addition to batter for the rest of the family.

7. What was your worst job ever? Why?
I am going to have to say my job at The Psych Experiment was pretty darn terrible. But that is as topic for another post that I have brewing in my head...

Runner up is the summer I spent waitressing at a restaurant by my parents' cabin. I had just gotten back from my semester in Australia so was kind of depressed and suffering from reverse culture shock. The man who owned the restaurant made me think, "If he's here, who's running hell?" He would scream and berate the wait staff, sometimes making people cry. The kicker was that I worked all of Labor Day weekend - working until 4 am 2 nights in a row, and then the owners of this restaurant skipped town and I never got paid.

8. What was your favorite class in high school?
Calculus. Yes, I am a total math nerd. I adored Calculus.

9. Favorite summer guilty pleasure?
Laying on the end of the dock at the cabin, reading a good book, sipping a fruity blended concoction made by my dear mom.

10. Please share your best money saving tip!
I honestly don't have a great tip.... I think the best tip for saving, which is not a tip and more so common sense, is to have part of your paycheck go directly to a savings account. I highly recommend an ING savings account because it takes around 3 days to get the money transfer back into your checking account, so it keeps you from making impulse transfers...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Marathon Madness Monday: Week 4

Wow - it's week 4 of marathon training already. Training is a-flying by!

Last Thursday, I attended a running seminar at my favorite local running store - Marathon Sports. I love supporting locally owned/ran stores! I actually met a guy here back when I was training for the '06 marathon and we dated for about a month or so. But that's a story for an Adventures in Awkwardness post on another day...

The seminar was about running form and was put on by Grant Robison - he ran at Stanford and then went on to run the 1500m in the 2004 Olympics. It was pretty cool to be in the presence of an Olympian - and an attractive one at that! ;) He is behind the movement known as "Good Form Running." He suffered from a litany of running injuries in college and while he was a professional runner and really believe it all ties back to the fact that he had poor running form. For those familiar with Chi Running, Good Form Running is similar, but according to Robison, it's a bit easier to apply.

Everyone, from a novice runner to a professional athlete, can benefit from improving their form. Here are the 4 principles of Good Running Form that he went over:

1. Posture - Now, this is important in life in general. I must say my posture is pretty darn terrible. I try to work on it, but it definitely doesn't come 'natural' to me just yet. Robison basically said that we need a strong core to support good posture - otherwise, when the body gets tired during long runs, your hips will sort of turn forward, putting pressure on your lower back which is not good for you. His tip was to work on 're-setting' your posture. To do this, stand up (come on, get out of your chair for a bit and give this a shot) - now reach your fingertips towards the ceiling, hold them there for a couple of seconds, and let your arms drop. Your bodily is now properly aligned. We should all strive to have proper body alignment at all times. He said to do this 're-set' exercise throughout the day, day after day, until it becomes natural for your body to be in alignment.

2. Midfoot - When you stride during your run, try to land on the middle of your foot - not your heel as is very common. I am not going to go into a long explanation on this, but basically landing on your heel is uber hard on your body. It also means your leg is probably extending out which locks your knee and puts pressure on your knee - likely causing an injury over time. Want a simple experiment that shows you this? Try jumping and landing with your knees slightly bent. Now try jumping and landing with your knee locked. See the difference? So how do you land on your midfoot? You need to shorten your stride, which ties into principle #3.

3. Cadence - What is cadence, you might ask? It's the number of times your right and left foot strike the ground in a minute. The easiest way to count your cadence is to count the number of times your right or left foot strikes the ground in 30 seconds and multiply that number by 4. According to the folks at Good Running Form, the ideal cadence is 180. At the workshop, Robison had us march in place to the beat of a metronome set to 180. Then he slowed it down to 150. It demonstrated that running at a faster cadence forces you to take smaller strides and be a little bit more light on your feet. All along, I have been thinking I needed to lengthen my stride, but according to their research, it's all about lighter, faster, more frequent strides.

4. Lean - The last principle is the lean. This is probably the toughest of the 4 principles - at least for me - and something I am not quite ready to try to incorporate into my form. By lean, they mean leaning from the ankles. Leaning from the waist is not going to help you as it throws your alignment out of whack (see principle #1).

So there you have it. I know this is probably a little bit more technical and I have probably bored some of your to tears (or lost you after the first paragraph)!! But if you run - whether it's 1 mile or 26.2, these are important things to work on so you stay injury free! Robison suggested focusing on 1 of the 4 principles to start and to not 'over think' it. A slight adjustment could make a world of difference for you/your body.

I'll be attending another workshop on July 8th where they will actually video me while I am running to help make me more aware of my form and how it can be improved. These workshops are all free, which is pretty cool!

I'll be away at the cabin next Monday, so will be taking week 5 off from Marathon Madness Monday. I promise my next post will be less technical! I hope this was helpful for the runners out there, though!

Training Tally:
Miles ran last week: 22
Training-to-date mileage: 71

Friday, June 25, 2010

Upcoming Product Review & the Upcoming Weekend

Happy Friday, dear readers! Back in May the fine folks at CSN Stores sponsored a giveaway and next month they'll be sending me a product to review. CSN Stores has 200 stores with all kinds of items from dining room tables to kitchen gadgets like the waffle maker that J won in May to wine racks. It's fun/dangerous to click through all the options of things to buy. Even though I've lived in my condo for nearly 5 years, there are still plenty of things on my want/need list!

So next month I will be reviewing this Cuisinart Blender!

You can bet that one of the first things I'll be making is a Green Monster. Not sure what that is? You can read about it here. It's all the rave, especially in the runner community. In fact, just this week, Sassy made a Green Monster smoothie-in-a-bowl. Green Monsters intrigue me. I am also looking for filling breakfast solutions so can't wait to give them a shot!

Now, moving on to the upcoming weekend! First off, I have to say TGIF. I've had a great week, but it's been one of those I'm-so-exhausted-I-collapse-into-bed-each-night kind of weeks. The kind of week where unopened mail is piling up and my mental to-do list is a-growing. Besides catching up on sleep and relaxing a bit, I am looking forward to:

  • Staying in tonight. I plan on watching the movie, Valentine's Day, while working on a crochet project that I won't be able to reveal for quite a few months... What am I making? A couple of you know, but the intended recipients don't, so you'll just have to wait until later this year!
  • A date with my boys. I'll be babysitting for my 2 nephews on Saturday night so my brother and his wife can go out for dinner to celebrate my brother's birthday, which is tomorrow! I think I am as excited for a night in with the boys as they are with a night out without the boys! It's a win-win situation for everyone involved!

  • A short long run. This week is a 'step back' week for marathon training, so my long run is only 6 miles (it was 9 last week and will be 11 next week). I love the build, build, step back approach of Hal Higdon. It's lovely to get an easier week every 3rd week. Although I do wish this step back week fell on the weekend of the 4th! Oh well. Marathon training is all about dedication - and that means running on National Holidays like the 4th of July.

What's are you looking forward to this weekend?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

On Turning 5... With LOTS of photos!

Happy Thursday! Yesterday, it was so interesting reading all of your comments about how much you laugh. I definite laugh far less frequently than most of you, but I honestly think part of that is influenced by the fact that I am single and live alone. I hypothesize that those in happy relationship tend to laugh more. Companionship seems to breed laughter. I am alone quite a bit, so it's not too surprising that I laugh a little less than others.

But you know when I do laugh a lot? When I around my 4 adorable nephews!

It's been awhile since I've done a "gushing aunt" pose! My nephew Andrew recently turned 5 and I got to help out at his birthday party!

Before I share pics from his party, I'd like to flash back to some older photos of Andrew and I.

Visiting Andrew during his first week at home, June of 2005. He's so tiny!

Flash forward to summer of 2006. This is one of those rare times when he actually cuddled with his aunty. He's always been a busy body so I really treasure this photo! Oh, and clearly I was in the throws of marathon training, hence the fact that I was just hanging out in my 2 piece swimsuit with no cover up on!

Flash forward to Andrew's 3rd birthday, summer of 2008. This picture cracks me up. We were all singing Happy Birthday when this photo was taken but he just could NOT wait to taste that frosting!

Now here we are at present time! Andrew's party was at a place called Pump It Up. They had those inflatable slides & bouncing things. Pretty much every active 5 year old's dream!

Andrew was super excited to head out to party!

There were slides to slide down

Obstacle courses to navigate

And an air hockey table!

Matthew, my 2 year old nephew, wanted in on the air hockey action. It's sort of tough for a 2 year old to play air hockey...

Hence the little meltdown when Matthew kept getting scored upon. I could not help taking this pictures. Some of us the kids in my family are uber competitive (ahem, like me); apparently this gene was passed down to Matthew. I know this little melt down probably wasn't funny to my brother & sister-in-law, but I kind of thought it was hilarious.

After running off some energy, it was time for cake!

Then Andrew got to sit on a throne and open up his presents. He got quite the royal treatment!

I ended the day with a snapshot with Andrew

I am so lucky that I live so close to these 2 little munchkins so I can be part of these memories! I wish I lived closer to my other 2 nephews. I will get to see them all in August so am really looking forward to that!

Do you remember your 5th birthday party? I had my firsts friend's party. There were both boys & girls there and we went to Show Biz Pizza which is now called Chuckee Cheese. My grandma made me a Rainbow Brite Cake and I remember having a fabulous time!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On Laughter

Earlier this month, I read the book, "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin. Towards the end, I read a surprising statistic:

A small child typically laughs more than four hundred times a each day, and an adult - seventeen times.

I read that and thought - really? I spend quite a bit of time around my nephews so I know kids are more prone to fits of laughter and giggles - but 400 times a day? Let's say the average small child is awake for 14 hours - that means they are laughing just over 28 times per hour. So every 2 minutes. Really?

Then there's the adult part of the statistic. Do I laugh 17 times a day? Honestly, on a typical day, I don't. I consider myself a happy, content person, but unless I am around friends and family, I don't laugh all that often. I guess I am just not a "laugher".

But you know is? The girl that sits next to me at work. I've started to refer to her as 'the giggle box'. She actually might laugh 400 times a day. She's a great co-worker who is always willing to answer my questions, but I have to admit - there are days when I am thankful that I can put on my head phones, turn up my iPod and zone everyone out...

What about you? Do you think you laugh 17 times a day?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

1. If you could trade lives with another blogger for a day, who would it be and why?
I actually can't think of anyone that I'd really want to trade lives with. I would more so want to trade lives with someone in their life so I could spend the day with the blogger!

2. Do you prefer receiving handmade or store bought gifts? Be honest!
I prefer a handmade gift. They could make it themselves or support someone on Etsy. I think some of the best gifts I've given have been things I've made - like scarves for my mom/sisters/sisters-in-law - and I'd like to think it's been one of their more memorable/favorite gifts from me...

3. Would you rather camp or stay in a hotel?
I'm going to have to say a hotel. I would like to try camping, though. I have never really gone camping where you actually stay in a tent and all!

4. What’s your favorite comfort food?
Mashed potatoes. They can not come from a box - ick. I can actually smell the difference. Seriously.

5. You’re having a really bad day at work. How do you unwind when you come home?
I go for a run and then maybe cry on the drive home from the run. Or maybe during the run. Depends on how epically bad the day was.

6. What’s your favorite chore? (Or, the chore you hate the least)
I actually enjoy ironing. It's really calming/soothing for me, and it's something I can do while watching tv or a movie.

7. What got you interested in blogging?
I got into blogging after I got hooked on Matt Logelin's blog. If you haven't read it, you should check it out. His story makes your worst day look like a walk in the park (most likely). He doesn't update his blog as often since he's busy writing a book/taking care of a 2 year old, but his posts are definitely worth chekcing out.

8. Are you currently reading a book? What is it?
Yes, I am reading "Good Things I Wish You" by A. Manette Ansay. I'll be doing a review of it on July 1st for a TLC Book Tour.

9. Do you have a favorite artist?
Yes, I love Monet. I loved seeing his art up close & personal when I went to Musee d'Orsay in Paris.

10. Have you ever met someone famous?
Does Hal Higdon count? If you aren't into running, you'll probably have no clue who he is, but he is sort of my running idol. So meeting him last fall was a very cool experience for me! Yes, I realize that this makes me a total dork.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Marathon Madness Monday: Week 3

Greetings and Happy Monday! 2 weeks of training down, 16 to go!

Today I am going to talk about motivation.

I think there is this misconception that for us "runners", every run is rainbows and sunshine and butterflies.

Let me tell you - that is really not the case. Yes, I am in shape and can run 10+ miles at a time, but I still have crappy runs. I still have days where I really, really, really do not want to go for my run. Some days, running is a mental battle. Maybe there are runners out there who never have to dig deep to find motivation, but I'm not one of them!

Everyone has to find their own solution for dealing with those bad runs or days when they don't feel like running, but here is what has worked for me:

  • Sign up for a race. Nothing puts the fear of God in you like knowing you need to run 3.1 6.2, 13.1, or 26.2 miles on race day. On those days when I dn't feel like running, I remind myself that I need to do these training runs so I will be ready on race day1
  • Find an accountability partner. I exchange black berry messages every day with Amber, telling her what I will be doing that morning or night, or that weekend. I'm also doing these Marathon posts, so even though you all probably don't care if I skip a training run - I do since I am tracking how much I run each week and training-to-date.
  • Write it down. Before I leave work each day, I write down the number of miles I am going to run after work. I hate the thought of having to cross out that number and write down something smaller - and that keeps me from cutting my runs short if I am not feeling it (I of course listen to my body and will cut my runs short if something feels off).
  • Get good at talking yourself into exercising. When I don't feel like running, I tell myself, "Self, you will never regret going on this run... but you WILL regret if you don't." I feel guilty when I skip work outs for no good reason, so when I start thinking about skipping a run, I remind myself of the guilt/regret I will feel

I hope this helps! Bottom line - we all have bad days. We all have bad runs. But I definitely have more good runs than bad runs, which is what keeps me coming back for me each week!

What do you do on the days when you just don't feel like exercising?


Training Tally:

Miles ran last week: 25

Training-to-date mileage: 49

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ode to My Dad

Happy Friday! Another week has flown by!

Father's Day weekend is upon us already! I will be heading up to my parents' cabin but I actually won't get to see my dad as he will be on a fishing trip with my brothers. I hope they have a fun & successful fishing trip. I am always more than happy to help them eat what they catch!

I consider myself incredibly blessed to have such a wonderful dad. The older I get, the more I appreciate my parents and the more I try to ensure that they know how much I appreciate them!

So today I'd like to share just a few of the many, many reasons that I love my dad!

  • First and foremost, he has shown me what kind of man I want to marry. I take after my mom and tend to be a little bit on the high strung side so I know I need to marry someone like my dad. Someone who is just a little bit more layed backc. Someone who can dispel tension in a room with a quirky joke. Someone who doesn't have an arrogant bone in his body. You will never hear my dad brag about himself. His humility is part of what makes him so likeable.
Mom & Dad on the night of Abby's wedding, just months before they celebrated 40 years of marriage!!
  • He has supported me as I've tried to find my place in this world. I had put on a stiff upper lip when I was working at The Psych Experiment and hadn't told my parents how unhappy I was... until the afternoon of my brithday when my dad called. All the doubts and insecurities and terrible experiences came rushing out of me. I couldn't hold it in any longer - but he was there to listen and to tell me I could make it through and that no matter what I decided to do, mom & him would be behind me 100%. That next Monday after my Birthday, he called me at 6:30 when he knew I'd be on my way to work to give me a little pep talk. My dad is not a big phone talker so that phone call meant the world to me. And in the months to follow, he continued to support me and assure me that it would all work out.

Dad & I on the day of my MBA commencement

  • He's taught us kids to appreciate the simple things in life, especially the great outdoors. When I pull into the driveway of my parents' cabin on Friday nights in the summer, I know I can expect to see my dad sitting at the end of the dock, fishing. There is something really peaceful about stepping out of the car and seeing him at the end of the dock. He's taught me that sometimes silence is better than endless chatter.

My dad really loves to fish and he let me take a picture of him with this tiny fish that he caught a couple of years ago. My dad does not like having his photo taken, but he was a good sport about it!

  • He is an amazing grandfather! I think he is actually a bit of a 'baby whisperer'. My 4 nephews are all so drawn to him. They refer to him as Papa and you can see how much they look up to him and admire him!

Reading to my nephew Kolin at the cabin

Wordless communication with my nephew Matthew

  • He plays multiple games of cribbage with me whenever I see him. I don't think he has ever turned down. It's kind of "our thing" to play cribbage together.

I love you, dad! Happy Father's Day!!

How will you celebrate Father's Day? Who are the special Fathers in your life and what qualities do they possess that you most appreciate?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It's a Small World & a Guest Post

It has been over a month since I last ran with the local running club. My Wednesday just filled up over the last month, but I was finally able to do another run with the group last night.

Here's a couple of random things that happened in bullet point form:
  • At the beginning of the 6 mile training run, I met a girl who is running the Twin Cities Marathon and then the following week she is going out to Portland to cheer on a friend that is running the Portland Marathon! How random is that? So she said she will definitely cheer us girls on! Yea! I've rounded up a spectator!
  • A couple of miles back, I decided to hang back with the 9-9:30 pace group as I knew the 8-8:30 pace wasn't sustainable for 6 miles. I ended up running with a guy that is a law clerk and works with one of my good friend's husbands! Again, how random is that! Minneapolis is a big city - what are the chances I meet someone that works with my friend's husband?
  • I got back to my condo and was getting a mail and ran into another resident. He looked at me and said, "How was the pool water?" (there is a pool in my condo association). I had to awkwardly say, "um, I haven't been swimming. I just got back from a 6 mile run...." What can I say - it was a hot/humid 6 mile run and I swear, ever since I trained for my first marathon in 2006, I sweat way more and way more easily (probably TMI, I know). My friend that is a nurse said this is a good thing and it means my body is more efficient. I'm not such a fan of it... but I feel less bad about occasionally drinking pickle juice since I am losing a lot of sodium! Or at least that is what I tell myself.

If you want to hear me talk about something besides running and perspiration, head over to Becky's Blog! I'm guest posting about believing in love today!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Best Summer Ever & a Winner

It's time to announce the winner of last week's book giveaway!

I had so much fun reading about your favorite summer jobs last week. So before announcing the winner, I'd like to share my favorite summer job!

During the summer of 2001, I moved out to Steamboat Springs, CO with a sorority sister to move in with her aunt and uncle who both worked for resort management companies. I had never been to Colorado so was so excited for a new experience!

With her aunt , we secured front desk jobs at two different properties. I worked at Thunderhead Lodge, which was located at the base of the main mountain, and Amy worked at another place called, The Lodge. We spent our days greeting guests, checking people in, and suggesting activities for our guests. I absolutely loved my job.

I didn't have a digital camera back then and haven't been able to track down as many photos as I'd like to share, but here are a few!

It's hard to believe this photo was taken 9 SUMMERS AGO. I like to think that I haven't changed too much since then.

Hiking Fish Creek Falls. Oy vey, those jean shorts were hideous. Err, the whole outfit is a bit of a disaster. And seriously - who hikes in jean shorts??

Relaxing in the natural springs - clothing was optional at night! How risque!

It's hard to believe that I actually took this picture on a hike. It looks like something you'd find in a book! I wish I had a digital copy to enlarge and hang in my condo.

The summer came to an end and I had the hardest time leaving Steamboat. There is this phenomenon known as "The Yampa Valley Curse". I met many, many people who came for a ski season and stayed for a lifetime - like my friend's aunt & uncle! They were so sure I had fell under the curse. But I had two years of college left, so staying wasn't an option. Luckily, I was able to come back out and work over the following 2 Christmas breaks. I'll have to tell you about my first experience skiing sometime!

That summer was truly the summer of a lifetime. My eyes were opened to another area of the US that I hadn't experienced before. Colorado is so breathtakingly beautiful, I feel like I would need "less" if I lived there. I gained more of a sense of independence since it was the first time I had been away from my home state for a considerable amount of time.

After graduating from college, I strongly considered moving back out there. But after a couple of discussions with my manager in Steamboat, I decided that I needed to try a different path first. I loved Steamboat, but I also know it's a city full of Peter Pans. In a way, it is sort of the equivalent of Never Land. Although, I will say I probably wouldn't be single if I lived there as the guy to girl ratio is something like 10 to 1! Those are my kind of odds. ;)

I am happy as a city mouse, but I still miss Colorado. If I were to relocate anywhere, the Denver area would be at the top of the list. I hope to some day get my family to take a vacation out there (hopefully these photos will convince them that this is an area that they need to check out). I'm already working on getting my sister & her husband to meet me there - possibly next summer - since it's pretty central for us (she lives in Tucson, I live in Minneapolis).

After all, I am pretty sure I could hook us up with a pretty sweet deal.

Alright, enough reminiscing. It's time to announce the winner of Summer at Tiffany! The winner is...

Nora from Walking With Nora!!

I'll be reviewing more books for TLC Book Tours, so I there will be more book giveaways to participate in this summer!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

1. What would the title of your autobiography be?
Knit Happens. I love knitting and I feel like random things happen to me, so that's the best thing I can come up with.

2. What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever heard a child say or seen him/her do?
When my nephew/Godson was 3, I tried working on reinforcing his use of manners one weekend at the cabin. I'd remind him to follow up each request with "please?", every granted request with "thank you", and the occasional burp with a prompt to say "excuse me."

On Saturday night, we were having a family dinner. He burped at the dinner table, and I said - "Now, what do you say, James?"

He looked at me with a pained expression & said - "When are you leaving?"

He had apparently had enough of Miss Manners.

I will say, he does have good manners now that he's almost 6!

3. What is your favorite kids game to play?
My recent favorite is Hi Ho! Cherrio. I also love memory and connect 4. I love playing these games as much as my nephews do. I am usually the one saying, "Do you want to play again?"

4. If you got invited to a potluck BBQ tomorrow, what would you bring?
I'd probably bring that Chinese Chicken Salad I made for the potluck on Friday. Despite the various snafus that occurred, it turned out really good - and people asked for the recipe, which is always a good sign!

5. If your ears are pierced, how old were you when you got your ears pierced?
I got mine pierced when I was in 3rd grade. Sometimes I wish I hadn't. Until recently, I never wore earrings, which used to drive my mom crazy!

6. If you were celebrating your 30th anniversary, where would you want to go?
Ok, um, since I'll be like 65 probably (yeesh), I am going to say Paris because that city is timeless; you could enjoy it at any age. And I'd love to go there for my honeymoon, so it'd be neat to return on our 30th. And before that as well. If the future husband likes France and all... And really, if he doesn't like France, he probably won't be my husband. ;)

7. What one blogger would you love to meet and why? And what would you want to plan to do with them?
I can't pick just one... That's just too tough. There are so many fabulous women I'd love to meet. We'd go for a run or grab coffee and talk about books or enjoy wine while sitting on a patio.

8. On a scale from 1-10, how good at you at home decor? (Pictures welcome.)
Maybe a 2? Or a 3? I actually don't do my own home decor. I call up my friend Brooke and she comes over. She even comes and decorates my Christmas tree.

9. Do you have good fingernails?
Right now, I do. You would think I was on pre-natals or something. They have been growing like crazy! It helps that I am not uber stressed out anymore. I am terrible about subconsciously biting my fingernails when I am stressed...

10. Pickles: Dill or sweet? Baby, spears, or chips? Plain or on a burger?
I love them all. I am a total pickle lover. They might be one of my favorite foods. My favorite these days are the baby jalapenos dill pickles. Mmm. I can eat them plain. I eat them on potato or tortilla chips. I might drink some of the pickle juice sometimes... I love pickles so much, I got them as a gift from the mom of my best friend when I graduated from high school!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Marathon Madness Monday: Week 2

Happy Monday, readers. I am in much better spirits than I was on Friday! Phew! It's amazing how restoring dinner with family, training runs, and a comforting chili recipe can be. Yes, I eat chili, soups, and stews year round. It's how I roll.

Today I am going to talk about my training plan. I'll be using the Intermediate I plan developed by Hal Higdon - aka my running idol. I got to meet him last year at the Twin Cities Marathon expo, but was so star struck, I was too shy to ask for a photo! I wonder if he will back this year?

Every runner has their own approach to training; I have always relied upon Hal. He got me to the finish line for my marathon in 2006 and the various halves I've done. His approach works for me, but I know it doesn't work for anyone. I've done his 15k, 1/2 marathon beginner & intermediate programs, and marathon beginner program, so Hal and I are sort of running bff's in my warped little running world.

I won't bore you with the mundane details, but my mileage will gradually build over the course of 18 weeks. My longest run will be 20 miles - I will do 2 of those this time instead of one like I did last time I trained for my marathon (did the beginner plan for that marathon).

Sometimes it's daunting or intimidating to think about those long runs or the weeks where I will run 43-44 miles. I'm glad I have my experience from the marathon of 2006 to draw upon. And when the memory of those training runs is too foggy for me, I pull out the photos from the race day, one of which I will share with you today.

Now, when you look at this photo, which was taken around the last mile, keep in mind that I was NOT planning on running in a sports bra. Who knew it was going to be 85 degrees by the time I hit the 2nd half of the marathon? I didn't. So I ditched my t-shirt around mile 15. Had I known I was going to do this, I definitely would have worn a different one.

I pulled this photo out when I was in the midst of losing 35 pounds in 2009 (a subject for another post some other time). I pulled this photo out when I was getting back into running after taking a very long break from it during grad school.

And now I have this photo on my bedside stand. It's a reminder that I can do it. I will do it.
Like many challenges in life, I just have to take it a week at a time.

Training Tally:
Miles ran last week: 24
Training-to-date-mileage: 24

Friday, June 11, 2010

Guest Post & Potlucks

Good Morning and Happy Friday. Coming off last week's 4 day week, this week felt really long to me.

Today we have a potluck at work for a co-worker that is moving to California. It's a "California-themed" potluck so I had to come up with something that a) has to do with California, b) is gluten free (obviously so I can eat is). So I made this Chinese Chicken salad. The main ingredient is Napa Cabbage so I figured that tied in well with the CA theme.

I've had a busy week so hadn't bought any of the ingredients, so had to go get them after my book club meeting last night. At this point of the day, the stomach problems I have been having were at their worst (turns out I have acid reflux. It's super fun), so I was having a moment where I wished I was the kind of person who signed up for tortilla chips or bought a fruit tray from a grocery store. I had already seen the list of what people were bringing, though, so I knew we'd need some sort of entree-esq dish. So changing my plans was not an option.

So I made the salad. Actually, I made it twice because something happened while I was adding the last chopped ingredient that required me to throw everything away and start over. At 9:30 at night. When I was in a horrid mood and felt like someone had taken a knife to my esophagus and stomach. I was in a stellar mood.

So anyways, the salad has been made and dear God, I hope people like it because I had to go to the grocery store this morning (in the pouring rain) and pick up the ingredients that I didn't have extras of (red bell pepper and cilantro) and then chop them up in our break room. It's super convenient to bring a chef knife and a cutting board to work.

Ok, I am done whining. Deep breath.

I clearly need to turn my focus to something fun and positive. Like books. If you are looking for a great summer read, head over to my friend's blog where I am posting about my summer read suggestions!

Do you have potlucks where you work? If so, are you the person who brings something home made or do you buy something from the store?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Book Reviews & a Give Away: Summer at Tiffany

During the summer of 1945, Marjorie Hart and her best friend Marty Garrett, sorority sisters from the University of Iowa, decide to move to New York City for a summer of adventures. After several unsuccessful attempts to find jobs, they are able to secure positions as pages at Tiffany & Co. Marjorie Hart's memoir, Summer at Tiffany, chronicles their time in this great city during a pivotal time in our nation's history. This book was not published until 2007 but you would have thought that Hart wrote this book as a young girl. She successfully captured the excitement and naivety of her younger self, which I think would be difficult to do! You could just sense the wide-eyed wonder of the author as she described their day to day experiences!

Hart and her best friend had so many "once in a lifetime: experiences. They joined the celebration in Times Square on VJ Day. They were working the day that Judy Garland came into the store with her fiance to select a piece of jewelry. Hart met Mr. Charles Lewis Tiffany II, grandson of the founder of Tiffany.

Life wasn't all joy and bliss during this time, though. After all, a war was being fought. Hart shared what it was like to find out a relative had been killed; she spoke of the anxiety of opening letters from home, fearing what news her parents would be sharing.

All in all, it was a fun, light, summer read. I believe I read it in about 2 days, so it is a quick, engaging read. It will leave you dreaming of 1940's fashion and the beautiful jewelry of Tiffany & Co.

I received this book through TLC Book Tours and I'd like to give away my copy! To enter the giveaway, leave a comment and tell me about the best summer job you've had. You have until 8 pm on Tuesday, June 15th to leave your comment. I will then announce the winner on Wednesday, June 16th!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Looking Forward

I've done a decent amount of looking back lately - which has been both good and bad. Some memories are fun to revisit, like looking at pictures of the day my nephews were all born. Some memories are not as fun to revisit, like looking back at past relationships that have ended.

So today is a good day for another looking forward post!

Today I will have dinner with 3 of my best girlfriends from college, one of which now lives in NYC. It's not very common for us 4 to see each other, so I am so excited for tonight! I can't wait to catch up over wine! Hopefully the weather cooperates so we can sit outside!

This week I will have dinner with my aunt and cousin at Ecopolitan, a restaurant I have been wanting to try out for a long time now! It's a raw food restaurant that is gluten free friendly! My cousin has raved about it so I can't wait to check it out!

This month I will get together with some co-workers from The Pysch Experiment. While I do not miss job one bit, I do miss the people I worked with. It will be great to catch up!

This year I will go on a mini-vacation with my girlfriends to celebrate our upcoming 30th birthdays! I can't wait to figure out where we will go for our long weekend getaway! Perhaps we will start the planning process at dinner tonight.

What are you looking forward to today, this week, this month, and/or this year?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

1. What does your car say about you? If you don’t have a car, what kind of car would be your daily driver?
I drive a 2003 Silver Honda Accord. I guess my car probably says that I am practical and economical.

2. To this point, what has been your purpose on this planet?
Oh boy, that's a bit deep for a Tuesday morning. I think my purpose so far has been to be a good person, to follow the platinum rule (treat others as they would like to be treated), and to live by the standards of my Catholic faith.

3. If you could trade places with any person for any amount of time, who would it be?
I would like to trade places with a performing artist to see what it's like to sing to an audience and hear them sing the words of a song you have written back to you.

4. What is your favorite kind of cake? If you don’t like cake, what is it about it that you don’t like?
My favorite kind of cake is carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. I haven't tried making a gluten free version of this, but I think it would work out ok.

5. Would you have wanted to live in your parents’, grandparents’ or great-grandparents’ generation or only your own?
That's a tough question. Each generation has its pros and cons. I would like to see what it was like to live in the 50s for fashion reasons - then I could dress like Betty Draper of Mad Men. So that would probably be my grandparents' generation since my parents were pretty young in the late 50s/early 60s.

6. Do you have any home remedies for illnesses, cleaning or otherwise?
I can't think of anything earth shattering. Sip regular coca cola when you have a stomach ache. If you are a female, eat yogurt when you are on antibiotics. That's all I can think of right now!

7. What is your ideal weather situation?
Sunny, cloudless skies, 80 degree temperatures, a light breeze, and little-to-no humidity.

8. What is your best attribute (physical or personal)?
Physical = my eyes or my legs from the knee down
Personal = I am very disciplined/focused

9. Do you text or surf while driving?
*hangs head* I am guilty of texting while driving. I know this is terrible and so dangerous. I am working on breaking this habit, though...

10. How long have you known your best friend?
I don't really have 'one' best friend. I have a group of best friends. Aside from my cousin who I have known for 28 years, I have known all of my other closest friends since freshman year of college, so a little over 10 years.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Marathon Madness Monday: Week 1

My training for the 10/10/10 Portland marathon commences today.

Today I begin an 18 week journey that will prepare me to run those grueling 26.2 miles. It’s hard to believe that the human body is capable of such a thing. But I’ve done it before, and I will do it again.

And this time around, I am such a smarter runner. Oh, how na├»ve I was back in 2006. I didn’t know about the wonder that is Body Glide. I didn’t know about the importance of a proper taper in the final weeks of training. I didn’t know how painful those 26.2 miles were going to be - especially the last 6.2.

It will be different training for this marathon, knowing what to expect on race day. I imagine it’s probably akin to the way a mother feels as she prepares for the birth of her second child; she knows the pain she is going to experience, but at the same time, she knows it’s all worth it in the end.

As I train for this race, I will be in good company, albeit virtually. Lauren & Amber are both running the Portland Marathon with me, and Gracie is running a marathon around the same time. It'll be comforting to know that I have friends who are going through the same trials and tribulations of marathon training.

It will be a different experience from my marathon training in 2006. When I trained for the 2006 marathon, I was running away from the heart ache resulting from my break up with The Charioteer. I was running to cope. I was running to create a physical pain that would take the place of that heart ache.

This time, I am running for me. I am running to prove to myself that I can do this again - I can run 26.2 miles.

Let me tell you – it’s a much better feeling to run for yourself v. running to escape something.

I know the next 18 weeks are going to be challenging, but the masochist in me is looking forward to watching myself grow as a result.

Each Monday, I’ll do a brief recap of the previous week of training. I will try not to bore you to tears as I know now everyone shares my passion for running!

Here’s to the start of a healthy, successful training program!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Music, Books, Miles, and Looks of May

Happy Friday, everyone!

Each month, I usually do a monthly re-cap post that I borrowed from Nora. It's time to switch it up, though. Going forward, my re-cap post theme will "Music, Book, Miles, and Looks". Those are 4 elements of my life that are very important to me!

I'm a bit late on posting a re-cap, June just came upon us way too fast!


I'm loving Crystal Ball by Pink - favorite phrases are:
- Love just needs a witness, and a little forgiveness, and a halo of patience, and a less sporadic pace, and I'm learning to be brave in my beautiful mistakes.
- Oh I've felt that fire and I've been burned, but I wouldn't trade the pain for what I've learned.

Also loving Set Down Your Glass by Snow Patrol. It has fabulous lyric, like - "I'm shaken, then I'm still. When your eyes meet mine, I lose simple skills. Like to tell you all I want is now.

The whole album (A Hundred Million Stars) is fantastic.


May was a good reading month for me. I read:

- The Piano Shop on the Left Bank by Thaddeus Carhart - Loved it, book review can be found here.

- Cooking for Mr. Latte by Amanda Hesser - Total waste of time and money. Hesser is a pretensious name-dropper in my opinion. It's so awesome that she's on first name basis with Jeffrey Steingarten (obnoxious judge on Iron Chef). So awesome that she seemed to bring him up as much as possible. And gasp! How awful that her boyfriend ordered lattes after dinner. Apparently this is a faux pas in the food review circle. Not in my world.

- American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld - Fabulous book. You can read my thoughts here!

- Paris Time Eight by Deirdre Kelly - Meh. The editing of this book was so pour, I am tempted to contact the publisher to point out the numerous spelling and gramatical errors.

- Swimming by Nicola Keegan - This book fell a bit flat for me. I might just not be 'deep enough' to appreciate it, though. Who knows.


Total miles ran = 74

That's pretty mediocre, but I purposely gave myself some extra days off because I know when marathon training commences on Monday, I will only get one day off each week. So I gave myself permission to slack!


I'm coveting this top by Anthropologie... but not enough to shell out $88. I think it'd look great paired with my skinny jeans & a pair of flats.

Even though the wedding wasn't quite a smashing success, my dress for the wedding was definitely my favorite outfit for the month of May!

I plan to brush the dust of an evening with the exes off this dress, and get some use out of it again this summer!

Any great music, books, or looks you'd like to share with me?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Creatures & Comforts

Yesterday was just not my best day.

I haven't been feeling well since Saturday night. I thought maybe the stomach issues were from the stress of Saturday night. But then I started getting such terrible headaches. Headaches so bad my teeth and jaw bone hurt. The pressure was so bad, I was almost wishing my very own Dr. McDreamy would come along and drill a hole in my head.

I kept waiting to feel better, but towards the end of the day yesterday, I resigned to the fact that I most likely have a sinus infection and made a doctor's appointment for this morning.

After getting off the phone with the doctor's office, I kind of wanted to just lay my head on my desk, but instead, I just sort of let my head hang to stretch out my neck muscles and at that moment, I saw a mouse run across the floor of my cube.

Ahem. Did you catch that? A mouse ran across the floor of my cube.

I screamed. And not quietly. It was probably reminiscent of the time I screamed when a mouse ran across my room in high school. I screamed so loud that time, my dad thought there was an intruder in the room.

I know it is irrational, but I am petrified of mice and other little creepy crawly creatures. No thanks. I like my work space vermin free. I hope they get this little problem under control soon.

Luckily this all happened at the end of the day, so I was able to leave immediately after the mouse-capade.

I got in my car and realized it would be foolish to go to this running event. Yes, it would be a great way to meet some other local runners, but between my upset stomach and the ridiculous headache, I knew I'd be in no position to be a chatty Kathy.

But it was National Running Day, so gosh darn it, I was getting a run in. So as much as I wanted to crawl into bed, I laced up my shoes and pounded out a quick 3 miles.

When I got home last night, I was in need of some comfort food. Going gluten free has been the best change for me, but I still don't quite have 'go to' comfort foods. My old stand-bys like saltine crackers and chicken noodle soup are off-limits. I've slowly found some replacements over the last year, but they still don't quite do the trick like saltines or chicken noodle soup.

My new comfort foods/drinks are:
  • mashed potatoes
  • baked potatoes
  • plain white rice
  • elbow -shaped quinoa pasta
  • regular Coke

Last night I had a baked potato and it seemed to hit the spot. What I should really do is make some chicken stock and freeze it - then I can just add some quinoa pasta and make my own chicken noodle soup on the days when I am needing some comfort food!

Here's hoping the doctor prescribes me some strong drugs today so I can be back to my normal self soon.

What are your favorite comfort foods?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

National Running Day

Did you know today is National Running Day?

It's sort of fitting that it falls so close to the starting of my marathon training - which kicks off on Monday!

Running has become a huge part of my life; it almost borders on being a bit of an obsession or addiction. I figure there are much worse things to be addicted to, though!

So today, in honor of National Running Day, here is a list of just a few things I love about running!

  • Running makes me feel Athletic: I was always the kid that got picked last in gym class. When I was in basketball in 5th & 6th grade, the only basket I made was for the opposing team. “Athletic” was never a word that described me… until I discovered running! I still have a hard time saying I am athletic, but the fact that I can run 10, 13.1, or even 26.2 miles without collapsing must mean I am athletic!
  • Running keeps me healthy: During grad school, I did a horrible job of balancing a full time job, school in the evenings, a boyfriend, and running. Stupidly, I cut out running completely and really paid for it on the health front. I learned my lesson - cutting out running is not a good idea. It helps me stay at a healthy weight, I sleep better, and I now have toned calves to show for all the hard work I've put in!
  • Running ties in well with my type-A personality: Training for a big race like a marathon or a half-marathon takes hard work, dedication, and a whole lot of planning (at least the way I approach training). This will sound weird to the non-planners out there, but I am comforted by the fact that, starting on Monday, I know exactly how far I need to run each day (or when to rest) for the next 18 weeks!
  • Running calms me: Since I have a type-A personality, I am a bit on the high strung side. Running gives me an outlet for pent up stress and frustration. Sometimes I use my runs to think through issues that are bothering me. Other times, I use my runs to take a break from the inner monologue that marches through my brain all day long.

I could go on and on, but I will stop there as I know not everyone shares my passion for running!

Today I will be celebrating National Running Day by running with a group at my favorite local running store, Marathon Sports. The run is being led by some pretty elite runners (one guy placed 9th at Boston this spring!), so I will be a bit out of my league, but I am guessing there will be some people there close to my pace group.

Do you enjoy running? If so, what do you love about running?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Adventures in Awkwardness: Chapter 2

Chapter 2: Two Exes and a Wedding

Last week, unbeknownst to me, I had relocated to a little land called Denial.

I was trying to use the power of positive thinking to talk myself out of the fact that going to a wedding with my 2 exes wouldn't be awkward. I thought with the right dress and the right attitude, the evening would be fun.

I had positive interactions with both exes in the weeks leading up to the wedding. In fact, I had thought that The Charioteer had grown and changed quite a bit in the last 4 years since we dated. Since we started working together about 2 months ago, it had seemed like we were on the pathway of renewing our friendship. So I had envisioned an evening of great conversation and laughter.

Saturday night was a heavy, heavy dose of reality.

For those of you who have seen (500) Days of Summer, the evening reminded me of this scene:

The evening was a reminder of why I am no longer dating either of these two men. I was reminded of how much work it was to carry on a conversation with The Charioteer. And how one-sided those conversations tended to be. I felt more alone sitting next to The Charioteer in a room full of people than I would have felt had I been sitting in a room by myself.

That is not a good feeling.

I kept the tears at bay until I got in the car for the 3+ hour drive home. Parts of that drive were spent in tears. Tears of sadness. Tears of frustration over how, all these years later, these exes still get to me. Tears of fear that it will never be my turn to say "I do".

After a couple of phone conversations with a couple of great girlfriends and some encouraging Blackberry messages from my mom (I love that my mom bbms!), I felt more calm and centered.
As difficult as this was, I probably needed this dose of reality. The human mind has an amazing ability to forget pain and discontent; I had started to forget why I chose not to be with these 2 men. I had started to forget about the qualities they both possess that make them such poor matches for me.

The chapter of the book of these two men was finished long ago, but it warranted a re-read.

Whenever I start to feel despair about my future and wonder how I will ever find my way to my Mr. Right, I keep those feelings at bay by focusing on a bible verse that my grandma emailed to me shortly after my break-up with The Deux (yes, my 80-something grandma emails - how cool is that?):

"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

So for now I will go on living my life, focusing on the things that make me happy. Focusing on becoming the best possible version of myself. Focusing on believing that he is out there.