Friday, July 30, 2010

Spent... and a Happy Birthday!

I had to describe the last week in one word, I choose the word spent. Last week's mileage increase + over-booking myself last week + a couple of bad nights of sleep caught up with me - big time. I actually ended up having to go home sick from work on Tuesday. I really did not want to go home sick as I hate wasting vacation days, but I was seriously deliriously exhausted. I was sort of like an over tired toddler - on the verge of tears and/or a breakdown for no reason whatsoever.

So I put myself in a drug induced coma on Tuesday and caught up on sleep. I'm starting to feel like my normal self again but I still feel pretty drained. I learned my lesson, though. 6 hours (or less) of sleep each night for mulitple nights in a row is not enough for me.

So this weekend, my goal is to get 8-9 hours of sleep each night. This will mean turning in early as I have to run 7 miles on Saturday morning & 15 on Sunday morning, so sleeping in past 7 is not going to be an option if I want to beat the heat....

Switching gears, I'd like to wish my nephew James a very happy Birthday. He turns 6 today and I am bummed that I don't get to spend his birthday with him! He is quite the little comedian. I have more than a few stories about James. A recent favorite happened last weekend. Us adults were asking the kids what they wanted to be when they 'grew up' and then we asked what they thought we did for a living. They had no idea what my older sister did (she's a teacher), but when I asked them what they thought I did, James turned to me and said with complete certainty, "You run." We all got a good laugh out of that. Yep, running has become such a big part of my life an obsession, it's all my nephews think I do....

Here are a couple of photos

Holding James just days after he was born. I can't believe how tiny he was!

Fishing on the dock a couple of weeks ago. James loves to fish - when you help him cast his rod, he asks: "Did you get it in the honey hole?"

I hope you all have a wonderful, restful weekend! Hopefully I will come back on Monday feeling rested and back to 100%. How many hours of sleep do you need each night?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Book Review: The Last War

"The Last War" by Ana Menendez is another book that I reviewed for TLC Book Tours. For those of you who are interested in how it works - they send me a lists of books that are available to be reviewed, I tell them which books I am interested in reading, and they send me the book. Pretty sweet set up, isn't it? When I reviewed the list of books back in May, I knew I definitely wanted to read "The Last War." Between the book cover, the title, and the synopsis, I knew it would be a great book to read. It's about a husband and wife who travel the world, covering wars. Brando, the husband, is a writer, and his wife, referred to by her nickname, Flash, is the photographer. In the beginning of the book, Brando travels to Iraq to cover the war but Flash remains in Istanbul, waiting for her papers to come so she can join her husband. While in Istanbul, she receives a letter from an anonymous source, revealing that her husband has been cheating on her.

Receiving this letter really shakes Flash up and makes her re-examine her relationship with Brando. This excerpt sums up how the letter impacted her:

"I had not been sleeping well since the letter. My mind had wrinkled onto itself... Nothing made sense. One moment, you think you own your days, and the next, all the capriciousness and cruelty that you've kept in a box, that you've regarded from a distance, behind a lens, gets inside of you." (p. 34-35)

Receiving this letter forced Flash look back over the years of her marriage and determine if she was ever really happy with Brando. The book then flashes back and forth between her time in Istanbul and the time Brando and Flash had spent in Afghanistan, covering the war. By reviewing her past, Flash tries to identify a time when their relationship began to fall apart.

This element of flashing back on their time together, looking for the first sign of trouble, is what drew me to this book. I find it so interesting how many relationships that are doomed to fail seem to have a moment of clarity where one person in the relationship realizes that the relationship can't last. In this case, that moment of clarity occurred when Flash received the letter. But there were signs along the way - signs that Flash and Brando ignored and didn't work through.

I know I am drawn to books like this, but I don't know what I think I can gain by reading them. I know that hind sight is 20/20 - it's easier to look back in the rear view mirror and identify the moments when the cracks in a relationship developed. Cracks that would eventually grow and become canyons. I know a person can't constantly analyze their relationship, but as I get older, I am trying to be more critical in the moment. I don't want to get to the end of another relationship and ask myself, "Why was I ok with that?"

Again, this is another darker book. While it captivated me, I don't know that I would recommend it. I really wish I could have seen the relationship from Brando's perspective.

Nonetheless, it was a fast, interesting read. And it makes me really want to go to Istanbul where much of the book was set!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

1. How do you take your coffee on an average day? How do you like your coffee if you’re splurging?
I rarely drink coffee anymore since I have had acid reflux issues lately... when I do treat myself at a coffee shop, I order a "Non-fat Vanilla Latte." At home I drink it very strong with a little bit of French Vanilla cream.

2. What is your genre of books to read?
I love fiction... no chick lit though...

3. Where do you want to retire, if you could go anywhere?
I'd love to be able to own a cabin on the lake near my parents place!

4. The 17-year-old you is told to write a 10-minute speech. What topic would you have picked?
At 17, I probably would have given a speech on eating disorders. I found them very fascinating so wrote my junior high term paper on them...

5. What word describes you best?

6. What is the next “event” that you are looking forward to? (ex.: vacation, moving, date, job change, etc)
The marathon in October - it's all I think about these days!!

7. Do you like to discuss controversial topics or do you prefer to avoid those types of conversations?
It depends on who I am with. In general, I would say I prefer to avoid controversial topics because those debates usually make me uncomfortable. But there are certain people that I can talk to about controversial topics and the debate is respectful and enjoyable.

8. Would you rather add 4 free hours to each day, or add 1 extra day to the week?
An extra day, please. Dear God, I could use an 8 day week. I am so busy at work, and my life is busy between running and social engagements. I am so worn down, I really need an extra day!

9. If you created a sports team; what would your colors and mascot be?
Um, I am going to be a party pooper and I will say I would NEVER create a sports team. Because sports are just not my thing...

10. If you had to be a teacher, what subject would you teach?
Definitely English!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Marathon Madness Monday: Week 8

Happy Monday! Another week of training has come and gone. I must say - the last week of training beat me up a bit! My runs all went well, but fitting them in was a bit of a challenge!

Finding time for running is probably the biggest challenge. Last week, I had evening engagements on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, a late night at work on Tuesday, and then left for the cabin on Friday afternoon. So that meant getting up at 5 every day to get my runs in. I ended up missing my Thursday morning run since it was pouring rain. I can handle running in a light sprinkle, but running in a down pour when it wasn't quite light out just wasn't happening.

Since my mid-week run is now at least 7 miles going forward, I have adjusted my work hours - now I come in at 9 on Wednesdays so I can do that long run before going to work. It was just getting to hard to do it in the evening hours. Luckily I have a super flexible boss who doesn't mind that I will come in a little later one day a week.

My Sunday long run was 14 miles and my mom & I had to head back to the cities at 10 yesterday morning so that meant getting up at 5:30.

But the good news is that the runs all went really good. My ankle has completely healed and I felt pretty darn good after my 14 miles run (albeit a bit famished for the rest of the day...)

But I am a bit on the exhausted side, so I am relieved that this is a quieter week for me with far fewer social engagements. And I am staying home this weekend instead of going to the cabin. So I am sure I'll be feeling much more refreshed when I write this post next week!

When do you fit in your work outs? Do you prefer to work out in the morning or the evening? Given the choice, I prefer evening runs during the week and morning runs on the weekend.

Training Tally:
Miles ran last week: 32
Training-to-date mileage: 178

Friday, July 23, 2010

On Singing Another Melody

Life inside a music box ain't easy
The mallets hit
The gears are always turning
And everyone inside the mechanism
is yearning to get out
and sing another melody completely
so different from the one they're always singing
I close my eyes and think that I found me
but then I feel mortality surround me
I want to sing another melody
so different from the one I always sing
~ excerpt from The Music Box by Regina Spektor

On my 12 mile run a couple of weeks ago, Music Box by Regina Spektor came on. I really listened to the lyrics for the first time and I nearly stopped in my tracks. I thought to myself - yes - that perfectly describes how I feel.

But I am getting a bit ahead of myself here. Let's flash back a couple more weeks to a dinner with two girlfriends. My best friend was talking about the signatures from their guest book and how much life has changed since they were married in the fall of 2006. People have gotten married. Some have had one or even two children. Some are no longer dating the people they attended the wedding with. The central theme was that so much has changed in the lives of their guests.

I sat there listening to this and said:

"Well, maybe for others, but not for me. I am still signing with the same last name, with no plus one. I am living in the same condo. I am working for the same company. I have a different position, but work with many of the same people. Fundamentally, nothing has truly changed in my life."

Now, I do not want to turn this into a 'woe is me' post... although I was definitely having a 'woe is me' moment that night. I realize that I have so much to be thankful for and have been blessed thus far in life. I have earned my MBA. I have been through career challenges that really tested me and helped me grown as an individual. But nothing has fundamentally changed.

I always try to be honest in this blog - and I must say that as I approach my 30th birthday, my life is very different from how I imagined it looking. I never thought I would buy my first home on my own. I never thought I would turn 30 as a single person. My younger self honestly thought I would have at least one child by now.

But I don't - and that is ok. I am better for all the experiences I have had in my 20s. But at the same time, I sometimes feel like that ballerina - trapped in a music box, singing the same song, spinning in circles.

So I decided that instead of resenting the fact that my life is shaping up far differently than I imagined - I am trying to sing a different melody. I decided to do something that would celebrate the fact that I can go where I want, when I want, for however long I want. I realize that this is a freedom that I need to appreciate and embrace.

So this coming February, I will be spending 8 days in Paris - a city that absolutely captured my heart when I was there in 2008. There is just something magical about that city and I can't think of a better place to go to celebrate my birthday.

I am so excited for this trip and can't wait to return to Paris. This time around I am renting a flat in the Marais area which was my favorite area of Paris. It's actually WAY cheaper than staying in a hotel and I think I will have a more authentic experience.

Here are a couple of pictures of the apartment I am renting! It's so beautiful, I might not want to come back!! Mom, I promise I will... Unless I get swept off my feet by a handsome Parisian - then I can make no promises. ;)

I can't wait to bundle up in my wool coat and scarf and wander the streets of Paris. I can't wait to sip Cafe Creme in a quiet cafe while reading a great book. I can't wait to go ice skating on a rink by Hotel de Ville. I can't wait to discover new areas of Paris that I didn't have an opportunity to explore on my last trip.

So yes - my life is different than I imagined.

But a planning a trip like this makes me realize that maybe it's even better than the life I imagined.

What do you think, dear readers? So far, has your life turned out like you had imagined?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Blog Swap: The Good, the Bad, the downright UGLY of Marathon Training

Hello readers! Please welcome my training partner, Amber, from Girl With The Red Hair! Today we are swapping blogs to share our marathon training thus far. I hope you enjoy hearing about it from her perspective! Don't forget to stop by her blog and read my thoughts about the good, the bad, and the ugly of marathon training!

Hi guys!

When I asked Lisa if she wanted to do a blog swap last week re: our marathon training she said yes and that was the last we really talked about it.

On my run Tuesday morning I was racking my brain as to what I could blog about, and I decided to do a ‘Good, Bad and Ugly’ post about my training cycle so far. Imagine my surprise when a “Good, Bad and Ugly” post arrives from Lisa in my inbox Tuesday night.

Isn’t that funny? I guess between our daily BBM’s and emails our minds are starting to sync or something!

To say this training cycle has been a learning experience would be an understatement, I’ve already switched up my training plan once and spent more money than I’d care to admit on running gear and GU’s in the past 6 weeks. And there’s still 11 weeks to go!

OK, here’s the Good, the Bad, and the Downright Ugly of Marathon Training thus far.

The Good:

1. My legs look hot. Seriously. I don’t mean to brag or anything, but I can’t help but check out my toned, lean quads and calves whenever I walk past a mirror. My legs have quickly become my favourite body part thanks to marathon training!

2. I have made an awesome new friend. Obviously, Lisa and I were friends before, but I really don’t know what I’d do without our daily BBM’s and emails. I mean, who else would I frantically BBM when my Garmin won’t turn on, when I’m having shin pain, when a run goes really well or really crappy, when I feel the need to tell someone how sweaty I am after a run, when I don’t like the taste of the sports drink that will be served at the marathon or when I need to tell someone how I’m SO FREAKING HUNGRY I COULD EAT A HORSE and the list goes on.

The Bad:

1. I am having some recurring shin pain and despite foam rolling, icing and wearing Zensah compression sleeves it doesn’t seem to be completely going away. I had x-rays so I know it’s nothing serious like a stress fracture, but I just wish the pain (it’s actually more like a twinge) would go away for good!

2. Tan lines. Oh, the horrible tan lines. I have a farmers tan on my legs from running in shorts all the time. And I have so many different straps/t-shirts tan lines on my shoulders/chest that I think it’s a lost cause to ever even it out this training cycle.

The Downright Ugly:

1. Beat-up feet: Broken toenails and dead skin on the ends of my toes and more blisters than I can count Now Lisa was kind, and didn’t share photos of her beat-up feet, but I will be doing no such thing. You have to see the nastiness to realize just how *Downright Ugly* it truly is. (And painful too!)

And that’s the extent of my marathon training observations for now. Running and training for this marathon has basically consumed my life and my thoughts lately. But, so far, I love it!

Have you ever trained for/ran a marathon or a similar distance event? If so, any advice for me as a first-time marathoner? If not, would you ever consider it?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

5 Years Ago Yesterday...

Yesterday I celebrated 5 years of home ownership. It's pretty hard to believe that I bought my little condo 5 years ago. I mean, I was 24 years old. It kind of blows my mind to think that I had my act together enough at that age to buy something on my own! I remember feeling very proud of the fact that I could buy this condo all by myself - no co-signors, no co-borrowers, just me!

Now this has certainly not been my best purchase. Yes, it has been wonderful to have a place to call home - and I do not miss moving once a year... nor do my parents, I am sure. They schlepped my stuff around a few too many times and my dad did grumble a bit and recommended I invest in a library card instead of amassing books like I have in my 20s. So yes, there have been some perks to owning a home.

But I definitely feel like my home owns me instead of vice versa. I unfortunately bought at a terrible time so the value of my little condo has nose dived. I try not to think about it because it is out of my control. When I do get frustrated, I remind myself that I am in good company - there were plenty other older and wiser people who also invested in real estate and are stuck in their homes, waiting for the market to rebound a bit.

All that aside, I do really like my little condo. I love that I have a wood burning fireplace. I love the wood floors that my cousin put in for me a couple of years ago. I love that I have underground, heated parking. I love the winding, tree lined road that my condo is located on.

Right now, I do not have the option of moving out of my small condo, so I am trying to embrace it and focus on the positive aspects of my living situation.

To give you an idea of where I live, here's a snapshot of my living room area. I have a desk in my bedroom, but I never use it. Instead, all of my blog posts are written from the comfort of that small love seat!! I also read in that over-sized reading chair on lazy afternoons.

I'd love to hear where you live! Do you rent or own? Are you happy with your current residence?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Ten on Tuesday is a bit different this week! If you have some great product suggestions, please share them!!

For each of the following 10 categories, tell us which brand/product you use and why.

1. Cell Phone
Verizon Blackberry. I am Verizon customer for life. I tried Sprint and AT&T and both were terrible. I would love to have an iPhone but that is not happening until the exclusivity contract runs out. I did a research project on the cell phone industry in grad school. Did you know that Apple initially approached Verizon and Verizon TURNED THEM DOWN because they had to relinquish control of the marking??? I wonder if Verizon regrets that decision...

2. Email
Gmail. I love that it groups all the emails into 'conversations' - so all the replay to all are grouped under one email. So if you have a big 'reply to all mass email, instead of opening up you email and seeing 13 emails, you just see one email. Hard to explain, but it's a wonderful thing.

3. Toothpaste
Crest regular paste. Can NOT stand any other brand or flavor. I do not leave home without this stuff.

4. Car
My Honda has been really good to me. My next car will likely be a Honda.

5. Writing Utensil
I really like blue bic medium ball pens. I am a bit particular, what can I say?

6. Lotion
I like Vaseline Intensive Care lotion. I have a hard time finding lotions that don't result in me having an allergic reaction, but this one works well for me. I have to stay away from anything that is scented.

7. Interior Paint
Behr brand is on my walls, I believe. I really couldn't care less what brand the paint is as long as someone else is putting it on my walls. I am a horrible painter!

8. Soda/Drink
I don't really drink soda anymore, but my favorite drink is Crystal Light Cherry Pomegranate. I drink at least a gallon of this each week. It's a good low-calorie juice alternative.

9. Laundry Detergent
I like Tide with Febreeze. I like Downy Mountain Breeze (I think that's the scent - sort of a greenish color) Fabric Softener.

10. Medicine
I probably over-use Ibuprofen... I have bottles at work, in my purse, and in my kitchen. I like to have it within my reach at all times in case I get a headache.

Any product recommendations you'd like to share?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Marathon Madness Monday: Week 7

Marathon training is 1/3 over! Holy canasta, it is going by so quickly! I hope the next 12 weeks slow down a bit!

This week I am writing about something that I never used to really think about - runner safety. Even though I've started to do an occasional run with a local running group, the majority of my runs are done alone. I used to tell an old co-worker - "well, if I don't show up tomorrow, maybe turn on the news and see if they found an unidentified female runner in South Minneapolis."

I know it's not funny to joke about something like that, but I live alone and there isn't anyone that I talk to every day. So I sometimes feel that, if I were to go missing, I could be missing for days before all the various people the corners of my lives connected and realized I was missing. That's just the reality of being a single person who lives alone.

After joking about it long enough, I finally decided to be a bit more responsible so I bought a Road ID that I now wear on my running shoes are at all times. It has my first name and my emergency contacts (my brother that lives in the Minneapolis area and my mom).

Pretty much every race bib has a tear off coupon for $1 off a road id. I believe mine cost around $19 - and it's worth the $19 spent to know that, if something were to happen to me, whoever finds me would know who to call.

Now that I am training for this marathon and exchanging daily Blackberry Messages with my training partner, Amber, I've taken it a step further. Last week, Amber and I exchanged emergency contacts and common running routes. If Amber or I don't hear back from each other in a reasonable amount of time, we'll know who to contact if something doesn't feel right. I realized it's kind of ironic that the one person who knows where I am when I am running lives 1,300 miles away, but it doesn't feel like she lives that far away since we communicate so frequently.

Hopefully these precautions I am taking never come into use, but they make me feel a bit safer and more comfortable.

I think it's important for anyone who runs, bikes, or walks alone to think about their safety!!

Training Tally:
Miles ran last week: 26
Training-to-date mileage: 146

Friday, July 16, 2010

Oh the Places You'll Go

"You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You're on you own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the (girl) who'll decide where to go."
~ Dr. Seuss

When I graduated from high school, my eldest brother gave me the book, "Oh the Places You'll Go" by Dr. Seuss. I thought it was such a clever and appropriate gift (and later learned that his then-girlfriend-now-wife suggested he buy it). It still resides on a bookshelf in my living room. Have you read it as an adult? If not, next time you are at the library or a book store, pull it off the shelf and spend 5 minutes reading it. You might be surprised how applicable this book is to an adult's life!

If you someone had told the 18 year old version of myself that in the 10 years to come, I would have visited 2 other continents and a total of 8 countries outside of North America, I never would have believed it! Now, I know that there are many others who have seen far more of the world than I have, but considering the fact that I had never stepped on a plane at the age of 18, it's somewhat impressive that I saw so much in those 10 years after graduating from high school.

So why am I thinking about my past travels?

Well, my passport will expires on my birthday this year. The fees to obtain and renew a passport increased by $35 on Tuesday, so I decided to renew my passport this week. I'll be needing a valid passport for a trip in 2011... More to come on that...

Before sending it off in the mail, I looked back over the stamps on the pages. Words can not explain how excited I get over passport stamps. My friend Brooke loves to tease me about this! When we went to Europe together in 2004, on every train ride, I would excitedly ask,

"Do you think we'll get a stamp today?"

I know I will always have photos and memories from my trips, but there is something so nostalgic and timeless about a passport stamp. After looking through the stamps, I pulled out my old photos. I am not going to bore you with tons of vacation pics, but here are a few of my favorites.

Hiking in Mt. Cook National Park in New Zealand. New Zealand was by far the most beautiful country I have ever seen. And my word,I have never seen so many sheep! On this trip, I read that the sheep-to-people ratio in New Zealand is 10-1!

Queenstown, New Zealand is known as the adventure capital of the world. While there, I tandem para glided (pictured above) and bunjy jumped - two things I never thought I'd do. I have a video of bunjy jumping - I had to get it to prove to my parents that I did it as I knew they'd never believe that their chicken of a daughter would do that! I should figure out a way to get the VHS of that experience into a You Tube video. It's pretty interesting to watch...

In 2006, I visited a friend who was a Peace Corp volunteer in the Dominican Republic. We spent the first half of my trip in her campo where they did not have electricity. This trip was very eye opening as it made me realize how much of a spoiled American I am. I came back from this trip thankful for basic things like running water and electricity! In this picture, I am getting SCHOOLED in dominoes by these young girl. Oh vey, Latin Cultures ROCK at dominoes.

After spending a couple of days at my friend's compo, we headed to a beach resort where we seriously stayed in this little whole in the wall place for something like $10/night. I might have been worried about there being bed bugs... but it was across the street from the beach. After the heaviness of my experience at my friend's Peace Corp site, it was nice to end the vacation with some sun and relaxation.

This is the bridge in Prague - which is definitely the most beautiful bridge that I have ever seen - with Prague castle in the background. I am pretty sure my best friend Brooke took this picture because most of the pictures I took on this trip were blurry. Why? When we landed in Europe for this 10 day trip, I came down with a bug and I swear I have never been more sick in my life. It's really fun translating Bladder Infection into German... On top of that, I had a sinus infection and lost my voice. I was on so much cold medicine, I was literally shaking, hence the blurry photos. I was such a 'fabulous' travel partner, but we still made the most of it and had a wonderful time.

This post wouldn't be complete with a picture of the city that completely and utterly captured my heart in 2008. This is the city where I started blogging. This is the city where I finally broke free of the dark shadows of a difficult break-up that had happened earlier that year. This is the city where I discovered how much I enjoy traveling alone.

I can't wait to see what stamps I'll acquire in my new passport. I hope the next 10 years are as exciting and full of adventure as the past 10 have been. Next Friday, I'll share my exciting travel plans for 2011.

Do you have a passport? If so, do it have as many stamps as you thought it would at this point in your life. Even though I am happy that I have been to as many places as I have been, I do wish I had seen a bit more!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Color Me Excited!

So I feel a bit juvenile saying this, but I am so excited for this movie...

As a young girl, I adored Beverly Cleary's books. Ramona was such an endearing character, wasn't she? One of my favorite moments from that series was the time when Ramona brought an egg to lunch. She thought it was hard boiled so she thought it would be funny to crack the egg by slamming it against her forehead. It totally wasn't hard boiled so she had egg yolk running down her face. I do not know how old I was when I read it, but I still vividly remember thinking that was so funny - and at the same time I felt so bad for Ramona.

I could relate to Ramona since I have an older sister. As a child, I wanted her to like me and play with me and let me play with her friends and I didn't always understand never understood that she needed space and privacy. I am sure she can relate to how Beezus felt and just wanted her bratty, annoying sister to leave her the heck alone!

I think it looks like a great movie - and it has a great cast! John Corbett (hello, swoon! Love him), Bridget Moynahan, Ginnifer Goodwin, Josh Duhamel, and Sandra Oh. Great cast, right?

I might have to go see this when it hits theaters...

Did you love Beverly Cleary's books as much as I did? What other books did you love as a young reader? Besides Cleary's books I also loved Judy Blume, the Anne of Green Gable series, and The Baby Sitters Club series. And many others! I always had my noise in a book as a child (and still do as an adult!)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Match Maker, Match Maker, Make Me a Match

On Cup of Jo yesterday, Joanna featured an article about a mom who started a website to find a match for her adult son. Pretty unconventional, interesting, and a little bit hilarious, right?

It got me thinking - would I trust my mom to pick out a date or two or twenty for me?

The answer is yes.

I am not talking about an arranged marriage here, but I do think that my mom could pick out a suitable potential match for me. After all, she's watched me date for 10+ years. She knows what works and doesn't work. She knows what types I am attracted to. She understands that I am a bit on the melodramatic side (ahem, like crying on the phone about a cartwheeled induced ankle injury), so she understands what kind of personality a boyfriend would need to balance my high strung side.

Now, this blog post isn't a plea for my mom to put on her match making hat. For now I would like to retain control of that corner of my life. But it was interesting to think about.

On the other hand, I am not sure how I would feel about being set up with a guy by HIS mom. I feel like that would scream 'momma's boy' and I am not sure if I could date a guy like that... It just makes me think of the Sex and the City episode when the Jewish women at Charlotte's synagogue are trying to set her up with their sons and it goes miserably... (I feel like any and every situation in life can someone be related back to SATC, by the way...)

What do you think, dear readers? Would you trust your parents' match making or do you think they'd fail miserably at finding a suitable match for you? If someone wanted to set you up with their son, would you be open to that?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Good morning and Happy Tuesday. This is my batch of questions so you all should participate this week. Or at least answer a few in the comments!

1. What is the worst movie you have ever seen?
Hands down, Magnolia. This is the only movie where I have gotten up and left before it was over.

2. Do you have a favorite Disney/Pixar film?
Disney = Beauty and the Beast
Pixar = Ratatouille

*ahem - surprise, surprise, both movies are set in France...

3. Do you have a favorite movie from the 80′s?
It's a toss-up between Dirty Dancing & Girls Just Want to Have Fun!

4. Are there any movies you saw more than once in the theater?
I saw Titanic and Love Actually twice.

5. What is one city/area of the US (or country you live if you do not live in the US) that you have not seen but would like to see?
I've been on more vacations outside of the US than within, so there are many areas I would like to see. So I have to break it down into two answers...

Outdoorsy/National Park = The Grand Canyon
City = Washington, DC

6. What are your favorite toppings on an Ice Cream Sundae?
I like chocolate sauce and some fresh fruit like raspberries. And maybe a side of peanut butter cups. :)

7. How many proms did you go to? What color was your prom dress? If you went to multiple proms, what color was your favorite prom dress?
I went to 3 Proms. My HS boyfriend lived in a different city so we went to both of our Prom junior year and I wore a black dress. My senior year, I was no longer dating my HS boyfriend so I went with another guy from his school and wore a red dress. I broke up with my date the next day over email (I know, how immature) and I had strep throat so I do not have fond memories of this prom.

I don't have access to any photos, but the black dress was my favorite of the two. It was an Alfred Angelo dress with an open back with thick, beaded straps that criss crossed.

8. Is there a sport or extra-curricular activity that you didn’t get to try as a child that you wish you would have? (e.g. gymnastics, piano lessons, ballet, etc.)
Gymnastics and ballet. I used to be really, really flexible so I think I could have been good at these activities. Unfortunately, my parents were busy enough taking care of us 5 kids, they did not have time to drive 25 miles each way to take me to Gymnastics or Ballet classes!

Additionally, if my school had offered cross country, I wish I could have taken that. But my younger self never realized how much I liked long distance running so even if it was offered, I probably wouldn't have participated.

9. How many siblings do you have? Are you the oldest, middle, or youngest?
I have 4 siblings - 3 older and 1 younger.

10. Do you feel like you fit in with your age group? Or do you feel younger/older than your age group?
No, I really don't. Growing up, I always felt like a bit of an old soul. I wasn't really big into drinking and have always preferred to go home around midnight so I never really felt like I fit in during my early 20s.

Now I am 29 years old and I do not have any local single friends and many of my friends are starting to have children. I don't feel less mature than them or anything like that, I just feel like I am in such a different phase of my life.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Marathon Madness Monday: Week 6

It all started with a proclamation made by my soon-to-be-six year old nephew/Godson, James.

He said, "You are the most athletic person in our family!"

This proclamation was met by a chorus of laughter. Honestly, in the past, Lisa + athletic would only be used if I was trying to explain what an antonym meant! Trust me, people. I was more of the band/choir/speech/drama/student council type in high school.

But in the eyes of my James, I am the most athletic person. That morning, I had explained that I would be running a marathon. Running 26.2 miles is hard for the adult mind to grasp, so I imagine it's even harder for a child to grasp. To help him understand how far it is, I explained that I would basically be running from his house to my parents house. Putting that distance in understandable terms for him resulted in a wide-eyed/shocked/"you must be crazy" look.

Hence, the reason for the proclamation that I am the most athletic person in the family.

This is certainly not the case. My brothers were good at football in high school. My sister would leave me in a trail of her dust if we were able to go for a run together.

But earning the admiration of a 6 year old apparently made me believe in myself and my abilities a bit more.

Couple that with the fact that I seriously SCHOOLED my family in bocce ball on the 4th - and, well, I was feeling pretty darn athletic.

So in the evening hours of the 4th of July, I thought it'd be a great idea to show my nephews how to do a cartwheel and a round off. As a child, I had spent hours upon hours in our yard, practicing cartwheels and other acrobatics, so I figured I still had it in me.

I will say, I successfully completed the cartwheel and round off and I really felt like I stuck the landing.

The next day I woke up in pain and had a swollen ankle. I thought I had maybe tweaked it on my long run on Saturday (which went horribly by the way). Then, last Wednesday, the light bulb went off and I realized that the ankle issues could be traced back the freaking 4th of July acrobatics.

Although I am basically in the best shape I could be, apparently my 29-year old body is not built to do cartwheels.

I often say, "Know your strengths." Now I will follow that up by saying, "But know your limits."

I will say - this injury freaked me out. I am a bit of a schedule follower, so taking a couple of extra days off sent me into a tizzy. I may have called my mom and cried. There was a flurry of bbm's sent to my training partner, Amber.

Luckily, I was able to run again by Friday and had a great 12 mile training run yesterday.

I learned my lesson, though.

Marathon Training + Cartwheels do not mix

Training Tally:
Miles ran last week: 21 (should have been 29 if not for the ankle issues...)
Training-to-date mileage: 120

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fill-in Friday

Happy Friday! This week flew by for me! Work has been crazy busy. Interest rates dropped again this week, and since I work in an industry that is very impacted by interest rates, that means we are busy, busy, busy. They are having some late nights next week and management just told us that they have 14 iPads to give away! I'm definitely crossing my fingers that I win one!!

I thought it would be fun to finish off the week by learning a little more about each other. Here are 5 "Fill-In the Blank" Questions. I'd love it if you answered in the comments!

1. I wish I had more time during the day to __________.

2. I feel most confident when I am __________.

3. I am more of a _________ brain person. (left or right)

4. I was born in the month of __________.

5. I like my eggs __________.

Here are my answers:

1. Crochet/Knit
2. Wearing heels and a flattering dress
3. Left
4. February
5. scrambled with some cheese and chopped veggies, like peppers and onion.

Have a fabulous weekend, everyone! After being out of town last weekend, I am looking forward to a weekend in Minneapolis!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My 4th in Photos

I could tell you all about my fabulous 4th of July weekend, but I'm feeling sort of wordless today... So here are some photos I snapped!

I got up bright and early on Saturday morning to put in my 11 mile run while the rest of the family (except my early bird mom) slept. I love mornings at the lake when the sun reflects off the glass-like water!

Even though there is a huge lake to swim in, sometimes the boys need more entertainment. This made me miss my slip n' slide days!

I was almost tempted to give this a whirl, but figured I might actually break a hip or something!

My parents bought a new tube to pull behind the boat. It great for young kids since it's not likely that they'll fall out of the tube. Andrew and James let me ride along with them for a bit.

Sometimes all the sun can wear a person out and you just need to curl up on the couch with a cozy blanket like Mattie did on Sunday!

Fishing is quite popular with the boys. I do not touch worms, minnows, or fish, but am always willing to capture the moments on film. The first fish was a decent sized fish...

But they just got smaller...

and smaller! The last fish could have been bait, I swear.

Besides swimming and fishing, the boys spend lots of time playing in the sand. Mattie has apparently inherited the non-existent derriere that men in our family are known for...

This is actually one of my favorite pictures from the weekend. My favorite photos are always photos taken of the back of people. For me, there is a peacefulness to photos like this!
I can't believe the 4th has already come and gone! I hope summer starts to slow down soon!

How did you celebrate the 4th of July?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

So Many Books, So Little Time...

That's really how I feel - and how all of my book loving friends feel, too. A few of your commented about how many books I read each month. I will say - that is one perk of being single! Instead of the 'good night' phone calls, I pull out a book to keep me company. I keep my reading light on for as long as my heart desires and no one will complain about this cutting into their sleeping hours.

Here's what's on deck for the month of July!

I read Stieg Larsson's first book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo last summer. Murder/mystery books are not my preferred genre so I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed the book. Being the easy sell that I am, I bought the 2nd book at the prompting of the Barnes & Noble cashier. But then I never got around to reading it - until now! I started it last night and am enjoying it thus far. According to Emily, it's better than the first so I think I am in for a great read!

Speaking of Emily... Our July Blogger Book Club book is The Secret Garden. I am sort of embarrassed that I never read this classic Children's book - but better late than never, right? I saw the movie as a young child and remember loving it, so I am sure I will love the book. Are you looking for a light summer read? Then read along! Emily posts questions and an occasional guest post throughout the month to keep us all engaged.

I do not know how "I Capture the Castle" got on my reading list. It's one of those books that I have picked up and almost bought at Barnes and Nobles and then talked myself out of buying (shockingly enough, sometimes I can talk myself out of buying a book). This strikes me as a great summer read. It was the first novel published in 1948 by the author of 101 Dalmatians. It's set in a castle in England so should provide a great virtual escape!

"The Last War" is the next book that I will be reviewing for TLC Book Tours. It tells the story of a photojournalist, Flash, and her war correspondent husband. She receives a mysterious letter and finds out that her husband has been unfaithful. After learning of his infidelity, she begins to look back on her marriage and asks herself if she was ever really happy. I'll be reviewing it on Wednesday, July 28th!

What are you reading these days? Have you read any great books this summer?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Happy Tuesday - although it feels like more of a Monday today! Here's this week's installment of Ten on Tuesday, courtesy of Chelsea.

1. If given the opportunity, would you choose a mediocre job that paid well or your dream job that paid poorly?
It would be great to have my dream job, but there is more to life than working. So I'd rather have a mediocre job that paid well so I would be able to do things like travel.

2. What is your favorite thing about the 4th of July? (For the foreigners: What is your impression of the 4th of July?)
Being at the cabin with my family! 3 out of 5 of the kids in my family were at my parents' this weekend and we had a blast (although I wish 5 out of 5 of us would have been there!).

3. What’s the most random fact you know about American history?
I am ashamed to admit that I do not have any fun random facts that I know about the US. My late Grandfather would be so disappointed as he was the biggest history buff...

4. What is the best fireworks display you’ve ever seen?
When I was in high school, I went to a fireworks show in Fargo, ND that was put on by a pyrotechnic guild (who knew there was such a thing?). It was a great show - and I went with a guy that I had an enormous crush on!

5. Who taught you how to put on makeup?
Um, no one. Which is probably why I sort of suck at it.

6. Have you ever gone through a financial planning process? Tell us about it.
Nope. I will probably look into finding one in the next year or so.

7. What was your favorite outfit as a kid? Bonus points for pictures.
I didn't have one - or at least one that I can think of... I think I was more of a lover of wearing multiple outfits in a given day v. wearing a specific outfit.

8. Do you prefer a beach, lake, swimming pool, or no water?
I would say a lake - caveat being the water can't be freakishly cold, and it has to be a clean lake... like my parents' which is the 3rd cleanest lake in Minnesota!!

9. Do you recycle? If not, why?
Yes. You would have to be uber lazy to not do it where I live since they have receptacles for everything in the garage.

10. What are your thoughts and feelings about the Twilight Saga?
To each their own... I don't want to offend any Twihards out there (props to Rachel for introducing me to this word!), but my thoughts are: "meh". I read 3 of the 4 books, but the 3rd one annoyed me so much, I could not finish the series. I have to say that the movies are downright TERRIBLE, though. Like, I want the 2+ hours I spent watching the 2nd movie back - that's how awful I thought that movie was.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Music, Books, Miles, and Looks of June

How is it possible that Sunday is the 4th of July? Time needs to slow the heck down! I can't believe 2010 is half over!!!

Time for another round of Music, Books, Miles, and Looks!

Lisztomania by Phoenix - This just screams summer anthem to me. I really think it's impossible to listen to this and NOT tap your foot or bop your body along to the beat. Oh and Phoenix is a French band, so how could this Francophile not love them!

King of Anything Sara Bareilles - Anyone who has received unsolicited advice should enjoy this one! Another song with a fabulous beat. I can't wait for her CD release this fall. Her last CD was wonderful and if this song is any indication of what is to come, her sophomore album has the making of being wonderful as well!

Don't Stop Believing performed by the cast of Glee - Yes, I have clearly been living under a rock and just started watching Glee. The show is awesome! I have the Vol 1 & 2 soundtracks of season one - great running music!


- Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford - June book for my local book club. Was a fast read that was pretty middle-of-the-road.

- Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart - you can read my thoughts here.

- The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin - interesting book, the author made some interesting points about choosing happiness.

- The Locket & The Carousel by Richard Paul Evans - I needed some light/mindless reading so read these 2 books. I always enjoy books by this author.

- Good Things I Wish You by A. Manette Ansay - you can read my thoughts here.


Total miles ran = 97! I am really happy with this number! It will definitely be over 100 in July!


This month I was all about wearing dresses. My condo doesn't have central air so I lovingly refer to it as the hot box. This summer might go down as the pantsless summer - ie, I am wearing dresses as much as possible to stay cool. I am not going to complain about the heat and humidity since I wait for hot summer weather as a small child waits for Christmas... I could do without the humidity but beggars can't be choosers...

I'm strongly considering buying this dress (can't get the photo to post, click over and check it out!). I had totally forgotten about Shabby Apple. A best friend and I used to exchange emails with links of dresses from this site. Then I totally forgot about this site until my sister bbm'd me and said I had to check it out. There are so many cute dresses to check out!

Now some terrible self-photos of a couple of dresses I've been wearing this month.

This a super comfy linen dress purchased on clearance from Gap last spring when I was in NYC. That was the trip where they lost my luggage and I didn't get it back until I arrived home at the end of the week! I didn't love having to buy replacement clothes, but at least I have gotten a lot of use out of this dress!

This is a simple, cotton dress that I bought at Target. I have lucked out and found quite a few inexpensive dresses at Target this summer!

Have a fabulous 4th of July weekend! I am heading to my parents' cabin for the long weekend (I get Monday off). I am sure I'll have some photos and stories to share as I will get to see 3 of my 4 nephews! What will you be doing this weekend?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Book Review: Good Things I Wish You

Earlier this month, I read Good Things I Wish You by A. Manette Ansay. I had previously read and really enjoyed Blue Water, another book by Ansay, so was really looking forward to reading this book. Good Things I Wish You (which I will refer to as Good Things in this review) could fall under the classification of historical fiction. In Good Things, we meet Jeanette Hochmann, a newly divorced woman who is writing a book about the relationship between Clara Schumann, wife of the famous composer Robert Schumann, and Johannes Brahms, the protege of Clara's husband. My oh my, the lives of the composers were certainly more scandalous than I ever would have imagined when I learned about them as a young child!

Ansay skillfully weaves together Jeanette and Clara's stories. Through her research, Jeanette is trying to determine the nature of the relationship between Clara and Johannes. Was it a romantic relationship? Were they strictly friends and colleagues? Ansay includes excerpts of letters from Johannes, either to Clara or about Clara, that clearly show that Johannes was in love with Clara, such as the following:

"I often have to restrain myself forcibly from just quietly putting my arm around her and even - I don't know, it seems so natural that she could not misunderstand. I think I can no longer love an unmarried girl - at least, I have quite forgotten about them. They but promise heaven while Clara shows it revealed to us." (p. 57)

From this excerpt it sounds like it was unrequited love, but it's difficult to confirm this as the letters from Clara to Johannes have all been destroyed... It does appear that Clara had the upper hand in the relationship and seemed to keep Brahms wanting more. We do know that Clara lived a very lonely life. Her husband dies in a mental institution in 1856, after an attempted suicide. Clara then goes on to live for 40 more years and never re-marries and Brahms does not marry either. On her death bed, Clara continues to proclaim that they were best friends.

While Jeanette is doing research for a book about this pair, she is re-entering the dating world. She begins a relationship with a man named Hart, but finds parallels between Clara and Johannes's relationship and her relationship with Hart. At times, she will use direct quotes from letters from Johannes when describing her relationship, such as the phrase, "She wants to be close. She can't bear to be close."

"I was tired of this. Tired of him. He could touch me, yes, but on his own terms. He could say anything he wanted. He wants to be close. He can't bear to be close. This was going nowhere." (p. 173)

This book strikes me as a study in dysfunctional, unbalanced relationship. I think every person finds themselves in that sort of relationship at some point in their life, so for me it was a book I could relate to. There were times when I read passages and thought - yes! That is exactly how I felt.

After I finished the book, I turned off my light, and tossed and turned. I kept thinking about passages that so aptly described how I feel at times. Passages such as this last one that I will leave you with:

"All that I'd lost truly hit me then. I was alone in the world, I was truly alone. And yet.. I must go to work and come home. I must shop and cook and clean the house, balance the checkbook, take the car in for oil changes, repair the gutters, pay taxes. A privileged life, a blessed life, in a world filled with hunger and terror and want. It was shameful to admit, even to myself, that it all seemed impossible somehow." (p. 246)

Good Things is a short, quick read. It's not a cheerful, pick-me-up sort of book, but if you are anything like me, it will leave you thinking. It has also sparked my curiosity about the life of Clara Schumann; I plan on checking out one of the books that she cited throughout the book (Clara Schumann: Piano Virtuoso by Susanna Reich).

In Ansay's book, Jeanette tries to answer the age old question: can men and women be friends? I do have male friends, but do not have a close, personal relationship with any that would mirror Clara and Johannes relationship. What do you think? Is it possible for men and women to just be friends?