Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Little Bloggy Break

For reasons that I don't want to get into at this point, I've decided to take a little step back from blogging. I want to take extra time for myself during the busy holiday season. I won't be gone for too long, though! You know I couldn't stay away forever, I'd miss you all too much! I will most likely be back at some point in January.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year!

If you want to keep in touch, you can always reach me at lisasyarns {at} gmail {dot} com

Monday, December 20, 2010

Motivation Monday

Good Morning! Christmas week is upon us, believe it or not!! So far, my weight has not fluctuated since Thanksgiving which is good as I think I read once that the average American gains like 5-10 pounds during this time of year! I will say, since I don't eat gluten, I avoid a lot of calories that I'd consume if I could have gluten since there have been a plethora of cookies and treats around the office!

While this is a fun and celebratory time of year, it's also a season that seems to heighten people's stress levels. In the past, I will say that I would give into bad eating habits when I was stressed. I've gotten better at choosing healthy activities when stressed as I've gotten older.

I was reminded of this last Monday when I had the most frustrating day that I've had in months. Traffic was ridiculous backed up as not all the lanes of the roads in the city have been plowed. It was so bad, it took me over 90 minutes just to get out of the parking garage at work. I seriously thought I was going to lose my mind. Because of the traffic delays, I had to miss out on meeting my friends baby and missed a class I should have attended with my sister-in-law.


My initial thought was to go home and eat some comfort food. But instead, I went to the gym and ran off some of my frustration. It helped immensely. I left the gym feeling a little bit more calm. I was still far from being in a jolly mood, but I wasn't fuming anymore. As a result, I probably slept better than I would have if I hadn't ran.

If the last couple of weeks of winter are any indication of what is to come, I have many more nights of terrible traffic ahead of me. My goal is to choose exercise over other unhealthy habits on those nights!

Hi: Getting some good runs in on the treadmill with no pain in my knees (I had some pain after the marathon).

Lo: I attempted to do some 'real' push-ups. Total fail. I really need to work on my core strength!

PS: I'd like to wish a very happy 41st Wedding Anniversary to my parents! AND a very Happy Birthday to my cousin Suzanne!

Friday, December 17, 2010

What a week!

Oh my gosh, it's been quite a week! Here are some of this highlights in bullet point form!

  • Babies, babies, babies. I became an 'aunt' twice this week as my 2 best friends had beautiful, healthy babies! Owen Douglas was born on Monday and I will be visiting him at home this weekend! Elle Grace was born on Wednesday and I will be visiting her in Phoenix next month when I go stay with my sister over MLK weekend! Can't wait! The babies and moms are all doing well!
  • Snow. I heard on the news that we have gotten 34" of snow so far this year. That is A LOT. The roads are such a mess after the 17+" we received on Saturday. Not all of the lanes have been plowed on city streets so traffic this week has been an absolute nightmare... I am hoping that things start to improve soon!
  • Hunger Games. I started and finished this book this week! Many people had raved about it so I had to check it out. It didn't disappoint and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series! But first I need to read, "A Christmas Carol". Nora's mom posted about their tradition of reading this book as a family each year which inspired me to read it! I figure it will help put me in the Christmas spirit!
  • Training and traveling. On Monday, Charbelle and I found out we won the lottery for the DC Cherry Blossom's 10 mile run!! I can't wait to meet Charbelle! It will be such a beauitful time to visit my nation's capital. I have never been and can't wait! This means I FINALLY get to meet Becky and her husband Ben and will be reuniting with the lovely Mandy who will drive up for the weekend. SO excited!! I'll start training for this race in late January and can't wait to get back to a training grid.

Has the week been kind to you? What do you have planned for the weekend? The Barrister flies back in tonight so I will be picking him up from the airport. We'll be making peppery garlic shrimp. If it turns out, I'll share the recipe with you! Tomorrow we'll be attending a good friend's 30th/Holiday party. I can't wait to wear a dress! Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Date Night in the Kitchen

Since the Barrister and I started dating, we have done a whole lot of eating out! His busy travel season has commenced so I am going to try to make an effort to cook for us on Friday nights. He eats out every meal during the week so is very ready for a home cooked meal by Friday night!

We are sort of a tough couple to cook for, though... I have a gluten intolerance and the Barrister has a severe allergy to peanuts, so peanuts and all legumes are off limits for him. We still have plenty of options, though. He's not a picky eater, so that really helps.

Last Friday, I made Risotto for us. I had seen the recipe on Nola Girl's blog last April and have had it book marked since then! I really liked the recipe since it did not appear to be labor intensive. Making Risotto typically means you will be doing a whole lot of stirring. The risotto bakes in this recipe, so it's not at all labor intensive!

You start by cooking some onions in olive oil. Then you add the rice, spinach, broth, and salt (I omitted nutmeg because the Barrister didn't have it). The recipe calls for 8 cups of spinach - as I added it, I was like, "whoa, this is way too much spinach." The Barrister gently reminded me that it cooks WAY down. He was totally right.

After stirring in a 1/4 cup of fresh grated parmesan, we popped it into the oven at 400 to bake for 15 minutes. Next we added the asparagus! The spinach cooked down even more as it baked.

We covered it with another 1/4 cup of parmesan and baked for another 15 minutes.

15 minutes later - it was done! And it was delicious. We had some extra asparagus so we sauteed that in some olive oil. Mmm!

A delicious meal that got 2 thumbs up from both the Barrister and I! I really enjoy cooking with him. Eating out is fun, but it's fun to hang out in the kitchen together. He's really good about pitching in and helping in any way he can, which I really like!

Have you made Risotto before? If so, what kind have you made? Next time we make Risotto, I want to find a recipe that calls for shrimp as we both love seafood!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ten on Tuesdays

Another set of questions from the lovely Chelsea! Just a heads up, she posts them ahead of time on her blog if you'd like to participate!

1. What is your favorite kind of cheese?
Tough question. I adore cheese. I am actually known for this at work. If we were to do a Secret Santa, I am pretty sure I'd get a block of cheese each day.

If I had to pick, I think I'd have to say a nice, sharp cheddar. Mmmm... Because cheddar makes everything better, right?

2. Do you prefer fudge with or without nuts?
Without please. I actually am not really a fudge person, though. It's too rich for me.

3. How do you feel about cats?
No thank you. I am allergic to them, so I could do without them...

4. Meg Ryan or Julia Roberts?
Hmmm... Probably Meg Ryan because of my love of the movies "You've Got Mail" and "When Harry Met Sally".

5. Do you wear a watch?
All the time. I feel lost without it! I have been a watch wearer since I was very young. I have vivid memories of wearing one when I was in elementary school. Being punctual is a big deal in my world...

6. What are a few of your favorite songs from the 90′s?
Be With You by Mr. Big comes to mind first... Britney Spear's Hit Me Baby One More Time (ow whatever the name of that song is...) All My Life by Kacee and Jo Jo.

7. Do you like scented candles?
Yes, but I am really, really picky about the scent. And it needs to burn 'cleanly'... Cheap candles do not burn cleanly which = soot on your windows.

8. What do you like on your hamburger?
Cheese. Ketchup. Mustard. Pickles. Maybe a slice of onion. Well, I eat all of this on the side usually since I have only had a gluten free bun once in the last 2 years...

9. How often do you cut your fingernails?
I most often bite them *hangs head in shame* So whenever I am stressed or worried about something, my nails get bitten...

10. Do you sleep in socks?
Right now, yes. But it's like -30 with the windchill and my bedroom window is so drafty, so it's pretty chilly in my bedroom...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Motivation Monday

Good morning and happy Monday! I hope you all had a great weekend. I spent much of it snowed in. The snow they predicted arrived with a vengeance so driving was out of the question. We got around 17" of snow so it was quite the dumping! I was so bummed as I am not sure when I will meet my friends baby's and I won't be home for Christmas so it was my only opportunity to see my Grandma. But safety comes first!

Winter is definitely upon us. We have basically had snow or freezing rain every weekend for the last 5 weekends. We certainly did not ease into winter this year! Every year, I get sort of down this time of year. It's tough to get out and about and I am not a fan of running in these conditions.

This year, though, I really want to try to take advantage of the winter weather and find ways to be active. I am sort of a klutz by nature, so running on snow covered paths is a recipe for disaster, but there are other ways to get my sweat on! Here's what I plan on doing this winter:

  • Ice skating - When the Barrister and I ice skated a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised to find that I was sore the next day. I had so much fun doing it - and was so focused on staying up right - I didn't realize I was getting a work out. I felt it the next day in my glutes and ham strings so I know those muscles were engaged. Those are my weak areas, so I am hoping to skate more this winter - and the best part is that it's totally free!
  • Snow shoeing - I want to look into getting some used snow shoes so that I can go for walks on the trails in my neighborhood. I live close to a nature preserve with lots of trails. I think it would be fun to go snow shoeing on a winter day!
  • Cross country skiing - I plan on renting cross country skis and hitting some of the local trails with one of my best friends that lives here. She will have a baby any day and wants to find ways to be active in the winter so we are going to try this out in January. I haven't x-country skied since I was in Colorado so I am looking forward to doing it again!

I figure by focusing on the FUN activities I CAN do, instead of the activities I can't do, maybe I won't get as down/frustrated by the cold and snow.

Hi: Weighing myself and discovering that my weight has not changed, post-marathon. I was a bit shocked as I am not working out nearly as much... but I am also not eating nearly as much so I guess it is all balanced out!

Lo: I didn't get as many workouts in this week as I would have liked - and this coming week is going to be even worse since I have plans on Mon, Wed, Thur, and Fri nights...

Friday, December 10, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas...

I can hardly believe that it's already December 10th! Christmas Eve is just 2 weeks away. How is that possible? Do you remember how it took FOREVER for Christmas to come when you were a child? I remember staring at counting the gifts under my parent's Christmas tree and waiting with such anticipation for Christmas Eve when we would open our gifts! Now I kind of wish that we had an extra week before Christmas - I definitely do not feel ready!

But ready or not, here it comes! I might not be ready for Christmas, but my condo is! Last week, I had 2 girlfriends over for a Gingerbread decorating party. This is an annual event that I host each year. Now, I am far from crafty/artistic, but these 2 friends are very artsy, so I love seeing what they come up with! Here's a picture of our houses! Mine actually turned out decent! It usually looks like a 5 year old decorated it!

Mine is the one on the left!

I put my tree up the Sunday before the girls came over. I bought a new, pre-lit tree this year, which was a good decision! I'm definitely a white lights kind of girl and all of my decorations are silver, white, and blue.

As you can see, there are no gifts under my tree... I have bought some gifts but have yet to wrap a single one! I have my work cut out for me!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Tonight I will be picking up the Barrister from the airport. He's been traveling for work this week so I am very excited to see him! Then tomorrow morning I will head back home for a friend's baby shower - weather permitting... They are forecasting another winter storm this weekend. This is the 3rd weekend in a row that we've had a winter storm; is it too early to say that I am kind of over winter?? I hope I am able to make it home so I can meet my friend's baby & have dinner with my parents and grandma.

What are you up to this weekend? If you decorate a tree, do you prefer white lights or colored lights?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Book Review: Everything I Never Wanted To Be

I read Dina Kucera's memoir, Everything I Never Wanted To Be over Thanksgiving weekend. I read the book over the span of 2 days - it's a very quick read that sucks you in pretty quickly. I guess you could say it's a bit of a train wreck story. What I mean by saying that is that you want to look away or stop reading because some of the events of Kucera's life are so harrowing and awful, but at the same time, you want to know how it all ends. In this book, Kucera shares her family's story of addiction to drugs and alcohol.

I must say, I have lived a very sheltered life and am blessed to have not been exposed to drugs. The first time I saw marijuana, I was 20 years old and I was working at a resort in Colorado during a winter break. One of the bell boys helped someone carry groceries up to their condo. When he came back to the front desk, he opened his palm to show me his tip... A look of confusion came over my face and I said, "He gave you dried up grass?" I had NO idea what I was looking at! I got teased quite a bit for this comment and my naivety! I feel blessed that I lived such a sheltered life, though!

It was eye opening to read such an open account of the life of a family struggling with addiction. It made me think more about the drug problems in America. Kucera frequently touches on the lack of treatment options for those who can not afford expensive drug rehab programs. Until I read this book, I had not really thought about that and how our country should handle drug dependency - especially when the addict is a minor.

While the story was very heavy at times, Kucera did a good job of introducing humor throughout the book, which kept it from getting too heavy for the reader.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from TLC Book Tours. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

As always, these questions come from Chelsea's blog! If you'd like to participate, you can find the list of questions here.

1. What do you order at Starbucks?
Usually, I order a grande non-fat vanilla latte. In the fall, I change that to a pumpkin spice latte. During the Christmas season, I change that to a gingerbread latte or if I really want a treat, a peppermint mocha.

2. Where is your favorite place to eat breakfast?
Spoon River

3. Are you on Twitter? Why or why not?
I'm not. I feel like it would be a huge distraction at work and that I would get nothing done. And I feel like I wouldn't have any followers. Or anything to tweet about.

4. What is your favorite Christmas movie?
Miracle on 34th Street or Christmas Vacation

5. Are you a good gift giver?
I think I am decent. It depends on who I am shopping for, though.

6. Do you like your handwriting? Bonus points for posting a picture.
I hate my hand writing. It's pretty terrible.

7. Is your signature legible? Bonus points for posting a picture.
Not really. Because my last name is so freaking long (9 letters), I sort of just scribble it.

8. Have you ever been to New York during Christmas season?
I was in NYC shortly after Christmas in 2004. I was able to see all the Christmas decorations, so it was almost as good as being there during the Christmas season!

9. Are there any items that you are completely brand loyal?
I'm brand loyal to quite a few things. I'm really picky about brands of toothpaste, laundry detergent, and cleaning supplies. I'm not the type to just buy what's on sale...

10. Who is your favorite public speaker?
I have thought about this for awhile and I really don't have one!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

And the planning begins...

Do you remember when I told you that I was going to Paris to celebrate my 30th birthday? I haven't really talked about it since then. Not because I am not excited - mostly because it didn't feel real.

Sure, I had exchanged emails with the landlord in Paris and signed a lease for my amazing apartment, but it still didn't feel real.

Well as of yesterday, it feels real. Why? Because I finally bought my plane ticket! I had been watching flight prices for the past months but finally accepted the fact that the fare just wasn't going to go down. So I sucked it up and paid a bit more than I was hoping.

And now I feel like the planning can begin! Since I am returning to a city that I am very familiar with, I don't feel as much 'pressure' to plan it all out.

Last time I was in Paris, I had an excel spreadsheet with lists of things to do each day of the week (ahem, I am a bit anal).

This time around, I want to leave more time to wander the streets and see where the city takes me. I want to leave more time to sip coffee and read a book. I want to leave myself open to exploring museums that I stumble upon while walking around.

But there are a few things I am researching as they will require more planning! Here are a couple of things that I am hoping to do while I am on my trip:

  • See an opera or a ballet at Le Palais Garnier, most likely on Valentine's Day.
  • Take a day trip and tour the Beaches of Normandy. I think my late Grandfather would be proud of me for making that a part of my trip. Plus it's something I am super interested in seeing, especially after watching shows like Band of Brothers & Saving Private Ryan. It makes me sad that I won't be able to talk to him about this part of the trip.
  • Visit the Chateau de Versailles. I didn't get a chance to do this last time I was in Paris so I definitely plan on checking it out!

I am not sure what else I will do on this trip, but it really doesn't matter because I will be in my favorite city! And the great thing about traveling alone is that the trip is totally mine to plan. I get a lot of strange looks/comments when I tell people that I am traveling to Paris alone for a week, but I am really excited to have a week to myself (although I will really, really miss the Barrister).

What are your thoughts on solo travel? I've done trips alone in the past and really enjoy traveling alone. I know it's not for everyone, but when people don't approve or think it's odd, I wish they'd keep those thoughts to themselves! Sometimes I get tired of explaining why I enjoy solo travel!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Labor of Love - Part II

December is going to be one exciting month! In addition to all the holiday hustle and bustle, two of my closest friends will have babies! They are due just a day apart, next week, which is kind of crazy! Last month I showed you the blanket that I crocheted for one friend; today I am sharing photos of the blanket that I knitted for my other friend!

Before I bought my yarn, I found out that this friend was having a boy so I selected a baby blue color of yarn. I chose a simple, checkered pattern for the blanket.

The two blankets I made couldn't have been more different, but I am very happy with how they turned out!

What is my next project? Baby hats. Lots and lots of baby hats!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Music, Books, Miles, and Looks of November


Your Love by The Outfield: I am going old school on you this month. The Barrister and I went and saw one of his favorite local performers earlier this month and he did a little 80s montage which reminded me how much I love this song. My co-workers also love it, so when one of us is in a bad mood, we'll play this song!


This was a much better reading month for me!

Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors - This was my local book club selection. It's a work of historical fiction based upon the building of the Taj Mahal - definitely a great read!

Wishin' and Hopin' by Wally Lamb - You can read my review here.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro - This was an interesting read that is outside of my typical genre. It was a bit dark, but was pretty engaging so I am glad I checked it out.

Everything I Never Wanted to Be by Dina Kucera - I'll be reviewing this book next week, so stay tuned!

I honestly have no idea how many miles I ran in November but I can tell you, it wasn't many! I have been doing more biking lately as my knee has been a little bit wonky. Hopefully I can post a more respectable number in December!


I adore this dress, but not the price tag... so I will admire it from afar. For the first time in years, I actually have a holiday party to attend so I was looking for a fun holiday dress that will not break the bank! That Anthro dress was not in the budget but luckily I found something I like even more, at a fraction of the cost! So this dress is on it's way to me! I hope it fits!