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!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Happy Tuesday! Here is another set of questions from Chelsea!

1. Where are you from? Have you lived there your whole life?
I grew up in a tiny town called Wyndmere, ND. I lived there until I graduated from high school. I could never live there again. Way too small for my liking. But I definitely had a safe childhood so I can't complain too much...

2. How would you classify your clothing style?

3. What kind of car do you drive?
2003 Silver Honda Accord

4. What would your dream home look like if you could have it (or already do!)?
I don't really have a specific vision, but I would like something with an open floor plan and a big kitchen. I'd also like a nice back yard and a deck.

5. Do you have kids, and if so, how many and how old were you when you had them?
Nope, no kids. But I have 4 nephews that I love like they are my own.

6. What is your favorite hobby?
It's a toss up between reading and knitting

7. Are you going to have any New Year’s resolutions for 2011?
I don't really do resolutions, so no!

8. What is something, if anything, that you’d want to change about yourself?
I would like to have great skin. My complexion is just awful right now. :( I went to the dermatologist a couple of weeks ago and am not-so-patiently waiting for my skin to improve....

9. What is something that you love about yourself?
I'm very determined/hard-working.

10. Pick one of the following: Someone to cook for you, someone to do your laundry, or someone to do your dishes.
I wish someone to clean my house for me was an option! Out of those 3, I'd say someone to cook for me. I do enjoy cooking but it's not something I make time to do every day so I end up eating really boring meals (like baked potatoes in the microwave). I'd love to come home to a home cooked meal every night like I did when I lived with my parents.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Motivation Monday - Week 4

Oh boy. I might need to change this weekly post to Unmotivated Monday. Motivated probably isn't the best way to describe me these days in regards to working out! I had the best intentions to run with my sister when I was home this weekend... but dear God, it was so dang cold out.

The combo of the weather turning colder + experiencing a little marathon training burn out + and starting a new relationship = unmotivated Lisa.

I need to nip this in a bud before I lose the level of fitness that I worked so hard to achieve this summer/fall. So next week when I check in, my goal is to be able to say that I worked out 3-4 times this week...

The weekend wasn't a complete loss, though. I didn't do any 'formal' work outs, but here are a couple of things that helped me burn some calories:

  • The Barrister and I walked to an ice skating rink by his house and went skating! I have not skated since I was very young so I am proud to say that I did not fall! It's free to skate at this rink so I think we'll be doing quite a bit of skating this winter. It was such a fun date!!
  • I bought a new Christmas Tree at Target yesterday. I then turned down the Target employee's offer to put it in my car for me. Instead I lugged that heavy, awkwardly shaped box into my car... and then down the very long hall way in my condo building. That was a work out, my friends. As was lugging the bins of Christmas decoration from my storage unit to my condo.
  • In addition to the Tree, I bought a whole lot of other random things at Target, which I carried up the 2 flights of stairs to my condo. I will practically kill myself trying to get everything up to my condo in one trip v. taking multiple trips. Anyone else do that?

So not my most impressive week/weekend, workout-wise, but not a total failure!


Hi: Ice skating! I definitely used different muscles trying to keep myself upright!

Lo: I didn't run at all this week...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ten Days of Thanksgiving: Day 10

I am thankful that my entire family will be together this Thanksgiving.

Tomorrow, I will gather with my parents, my 4 siblings, their spouses, and my 4 nephews at my parents' home. We are separated by geography and busy schedules, so it's such a blessing when we can all be together in one place. Our family has holidays sort of down to a science - everyone is home for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. This is the year that everyone is home for Thanksgiving.

I can't wait to enjoy a delicious meal prepared by mom - with the help of others. She is definitely the mastermind behind the feast.

I can't wait to play Apples to Apples - most of the people in my family have a sarcastic sense of humor so playing this game with them crack me up.

I can't wait to play with my nephews and watch them interact. I'm hoping to play some Candy Land and Hi Ho Cherrio!

I can't wait to go for a run with my sister.

I can't wait to play Bananagrams with my mom, sister, and sister-in-law (and whoever else we can talk into playing!).

I can't wait to look around the room and see every person in my immediate family!

I am crossing my fingers and praying that everyone makes it home safely! The weatherman is forecasting freezing rain in Minneapolis and snow near my parents so I am leaving this morning in the hopes of beating the bad weather! I hope my siblings all travel safely as well!

For all my American readers, have a safe and fabulous Thanksgiving weekend! For those not celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, I hope the rest of week flies by for you!

I've enjoyed sharing 10 things for which I am thankful! I'm sure I'll be back next week with a recap of my holiday weekend!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ten Days of Thanksgiving: Day 9

Today I am thankful that I am back with my former employer.

For those of you who have read my blog for awhile, you know that I changed jobs this spring. This post has been brewing in my head for quite awhile, so I should warn you - it's a lengthy one.
Last October, I started what I thought would be my dream job at a company that I now refer to as "The Psych Experiment." I got the job offer through my MBA programs recruitment process and was on cloud 9 when I started. I was excited to work for this company and having met with multiple people within the organization, I thought it was going to be the perfect fit.

I couldn't have been more wrong... For reasons I won't go into, the position was not a great fit. Add in the fact that my manager and I did not see eye to eye on things, and, well, it was the makings of the perfect storm.

But I put on a happy face and kept telling myself it would get better. I told myself - just get through this first 18 month rotation and then you can look for something different. I am many things, but a quitter is not one of them.

By the time my birthday rolled around, though, I was crumbling. My dad called to wish me a happy birthday and innocently asked, "How's work?"

I started sobbing. I let down my guard and told him how awful work was. I told him how each day I would drive home and say to myself, "I used to be smart, right? I used to be capable and confident and successful, right? Where is that girl?"

I think my dad was in shock. My parents knew I was stressed and probably not all that happy, but I don't think they realized just how unhappy I was. And I don't think I realized it either until I put those feelings into words.

In March, I made the decision to leave this organization, a short 5 months after I started. I contacted my former employer and they re-hired me. I should also note that I am so thankful that I did not burn bridges.

I would be lying if I said the transition back to my former employer has been an easy one, because it hasn't. I still feel a sense of shame over everything that happened. I feel like I should have been able to make it work at The Psych Experiment. I feel sadness and disappointment.

But I am also slowly but surely healing from this experience. And while it's been a difficult year for me, I am so thankful to be back with my former employer. Am I in the perfect position? No, I'm not. But I am surrounded by fun co-workers. I have a boss that supports me, encourages me, and gives me positive feedback. I work for a company where I thrive in their culture. And I am making steps to work towards securing a position that will be a better fit and will utilize my math major and my MBA.

I'm excited to see what the year to come holds.

And I am ready to put all that happened in early 2010 in the past.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ten Days of Thanksgiving: Day 8

Today I am thankful for the healthy kids in my life.

I am so thankful for my 4 healthy nephews! Over the last few years, I have learned that you can not take the healthy birth and development for a child for granted!

Late next spring, I will be an aunt again as my older sister is expecting - I am praying for another healthy niece or nephew!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ten Days of Thanksgiving: Day 7

Today I am thankful for Black Berry Messenger.

I would be lying if I said I don't have iPhone envy - I totally do. But until Apple releases an iPhone for Verizon, I will be sticking with my Black Berry.

While my Black Berry is not perfect, one thing I do love about it is Black Berry messenger. I would be lost without it! I am so thankful that Nora introduced me to it last fall when I bought my first Black Berry!

I use Black Berry messenger to keep in touch with my sister in Tucson. I used it to keep in touch with Amber while training for the marathon (and we of course still bbm on a daily basis!) I taught my parents how to use it and also use it to keep in touch with them. A week after we started dating, I showed the Barrister how to use it and now it's our primary source of contact during the work day.

I know that I will eventually get a new phone and bbm will be a thing of the past, but until then, it's a huge part of every day of my life!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Review: Wishin' and Hopin'

** I"m taking a day off from 10 Days of Thanksgiving to review a book. **

Last weekend I finished "Wishin' and Hopin'" by Wally Lamb, a book I am reviewing for TLC Book Tours. As you can tell from the cover, the book has a bit of a holiday theme - but not too much of an emphasis so it didn't feel too soon to be reading it. Plus, it snowed last weekend, so it felt pretty appropriate to read a holiday-themed book! This is actually the first book that I have read by Lamb. I have wanted to read his other books, but just haven't gotten around to it. Truth be told, I attempted to read "She's Come Undone" when I was in high school but I got distracted by school and extracurriculars, and gave up on it. I own it and it's on my shelf of books I own that I have not read.... err, it's on one of the shelves. Yes, I own THAT many books that I have not read...

Now back to the task at hand - my review of "Wishin' and Hopin'." This book, we meet Felix Funicello, distant cousin of Annette Funicello. Felix is a bright but very innocent 5th grader attending a Catholic elementary school. The sister that was their teacher has a nervous breakdown early in the year so the school brings in a replacement - who happens to be be obsessed with all things French! Madame Marguerite Frechette assumes her role and makes some changes to the curriculum. Soon the kids are learning French and preparing for a unique Christmas play.

This was a very quick, easy read. There were some funny parts that made me smile - and brought back memories of being in elementary school. I definitely do not miss that phase of my life, but it was fun to read about Felix's experiences.

I was actually wishing that the book had a bit more of a Holiday theme than it did. I love a good Holiday book! But it was still enjoyable!

Have you read this book or any other books by Wally Lamb?

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. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising".

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ten Days of Thanksgiving: Day 6

Today I am thankful for Blogger Meet-ups!

In August, 3 of my favorite ladies all came to Minneapolis for a blogger meet-up! Truth be told, I was going through a bit of a rough patch.. That's probably an understatement. It was as if a rain cloud had parked itself over my head. I was down about dating. I was down about the value of my condo. I was down about living in Minneapolis.

Then these ladies came and I was essentially forced to see the good in my life.

I saw my condo through the eyes of visitors and was reminded that it's not so bad and is actually sort of charming.

I saw my cities through the eyes of visitors and was reminded that there are fun and interesting things to do - you just have to seek them out!

Their visit couldn't have come at a better time. They really helped me get back on track, and for that I am so thankful!


Then in October, I flew to Vancouver and met up with Amber for our Marathon road trip!

She played tour guide and showed me around Vancouver and then we embarked on a fabulous road trip - destination Portland, where we met up with Lauren!

It's been wonderful to meet these ladies in real life! It's pretty amazing how they are all exactly like they come across in their blogs - fun, fabulous, genuine women.

If all goes as planned, I'll be meeting up with some new bloggers (and hopefully reuniting with some) in April in DC! Stay tuned for more info on that!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ten Days of Thanksgiving: Day 5

I am thankful for my iPod family.

Yes, I have a family of iPods. 4 of them, to be exact. I realize that this might seem a bit excessive, but keep in mind I only purchased 2 of the 4. And each one serves a purpose. So without further ado, meet my iPod family!

Pete - This was my first iPod. I got it as a Valentine's Day gift in 2006 from the guy I was dating at the time! I had just gotten into running and was training for my first half marathon so he thought it would be the perfect gift. And boy was he right. When the relationship ended, I seemed to spend even more of my time running while sorting through the aftermath of that break up. I started to feel a little lame about the fact that I was always running alone, so I named my iPod Pete; that way, when people asked what I did the night before, I could say, "I went for a run with Pete."

Ella - Pete was a first generation Nano and only held 4G. I have quite the large music collection so I decided to use some credit card points to purchase an iPod Classic. It holds 120G so it easily holds my music collection. I never run with this because it is sort of big/bulky. But I use it every day - either on the drive in or while I am working. I am very lucky that I can put on my head phones and listen to music at work. It creates this barrier that helps me concentrate.

Sophia - Pete was starting to get up there in age and wasn't very reliable anymore. Sometimes he would freeze up and give me the "sad Mac face" (SATC watchers will get this reference). After my iPod died on a couple of runs, I knew it was time to replace Pete with a new model. Along came Sophia, an 8G Nano. Pete now resides on a docking station in the kitchen and keeps me company when I am making dinner.

Patrick - Meet the last member of the iPod family, Patrick the iPod Touch. Similar to Pete, I did not purchase this one; one of my best friends generously gave it to me when she got an iPhone this summer. She apparently doesn't hoard iPods like I do. ;) She used this iPod on her trip to Paris with her husband last fall and thought I could get use out of it when I am in Paris in February since my cell phone will not work there. Patrick was very useful when I was in Canada on my marathon trip. I wasn't able to use my phone in Canada, so Patrick helped me keep in touch with the Barrister and my parents as I was able to send emails.

So there you have it. Don't judge. We all have our quirks. I realize it's a bit odd to own 4 iPods, and have names for them. But our quirks are what make us loveable and interesting!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ten Days of Thanksgiving: Day 4

Today I am thankful for my aunt (aka my Minneapolis Mom), her amazing cooking skills, and our shared passion for Julia Child and all things French.

Last weekend, we had our 2nd Annual Julia Child night at my aunt & uncles house. You can ready about the night on my aunt's blog here and here. It was an absolutely fabulous night! There were 15 adults and 4 children there - so quite the large group! I brought the Barrister with - he didn't seem to be intimidated by the large group, which is good because there really is no such thing as a small gathering in my family... I mean, my immediate family has 15 people when you include spouses and children... so yeah... It's best that he gets used to this early on!

Anyways, I am very thankful for my aunt for opening up her home to that large group! And for spending hours in the kitchen, slaving over what was a delightful meal. I have always been close to my aunt, but blogging has brought us even closer together!!

Now for a very picture heavy post! First a disclaimer - I have a cheap point and shoot camera and I am not so great at photographing food... So these pictures won't really do the meal justice, but it's the best I could do.

My mom is on left, my aunt Barb is on the right - we are all sporting our Anthropologie aprons! If you don't own one, I highly suggest getting one! If you need a gift for you best friend, mom, sister, or mother-in-law - you can't go wrong with an adorable apron!

The appetizer course - cheese, olives, crackers, and Gluten Free Gourgeres. Oh. Em. Gee. The Gourgeres were amazing. I might have had 5 or 6 of them. Oh, and I also shared some dark chocolate covered cherries that I bought in Seattle. Nothing wrong with throwing a little chocolate into the savory appetizer mix, right?

The salad course which featured warm squash. It is my cousin Suzanne's recipe (she also has a blog) and it was delicious!! My aunt substituted rouquefort for the stilton to make it a bit more French!

While the adults enjoyed their salad course, the kids snacked on cheese and apple slices.

Between the salad and main courses, my uncle Paul, aka the baby/child whisperer,entertained the kids. I love the look of absolute joy on my nephew Matthew's face! He is a huge fan of Paul!

Now for the main course! My aunt prepared Beef Bourguignon, a potato casserole, and green beans prepared Julia style! Oh my gosh, the food was amazing. My aunt is truly a chef!

The kids enjoyed pizza and milk while the adults feasted upon our gourmet meal. I love how they are toasting with their milk in this photo.

Of course, no meal is complete without dessert! I prepared a dark chocolate mousse. I was a bit nervous as the recipe sort of had a lot of steps and I was kind of doubting my ability to pull it off. But I did it! I made it on Friday night and the Barrister was there to offer moral support... and to lick the beaters! He gave it 2 thumbs up so I felt confident serving it to the masses.

All in all, it was a very successful evening! It was so fun to plan this with my aunt - we exchanged quite a few emails; she was definitely the master mind behind this and I was the sous chef. I love that we have made this an annual event and can't wait to plan our 3rd Annual Julia Child night! Hopefully I will return from my trip to France with some inspiration for our next meal!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ten Days of Thanksgiving: Day 3

Today I am thankful for my successful marathon.

As you all know, marathon training consumed most of my summer. I spent hours running. I spent hours staring at my marathon training plan. I spent hours exchanging emails and bbms with Amber about, you guessed it, marathon training!

Cue the song: You're My Obsession.

Yes, it became an obsession. A healthy one in my opinion, but I know some people might disagree with that statement.

I am thankful that all the time spent training led to a successful marathon where I PR'd. Now I feel like I can hang up my marathon shoes and set my sights on other goals.

Goals like a sub-2 hour half-marathon. Goals like improving my core strength. Goals like possibly buying a road bike and giving that sport a try next summer.

I am thankful that I ran a successful race, but I am equally thankful that it is all behind me!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ten Days of Thanksgiving: Day 2

First off - thank you for your kind, sweet comments yesterday! Thanks for being so excited for me!

Now onto Day 2...

Today I am thankful for the brave Veterans who fought and continue to fight for our freedom.

Today is Veteran's Day so it seems fitting to dedicate today's post to the brave men and women who have decided their lives so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we all too often take for granted.

As I have aged, I have become more interested in the wars of our past and the stories of the men and women who fought in those wars; I feel like it is my duty as a US citizen to learn more about the sacrifices they have made for us. So each year, I try to read a couple of non-fiction books so I can broaden my knowledge of the wars of our past and present.

Today, I give thanks for the soldiers of the past, present, and future. I am thankful for these men and women who, as the song America the Beautiful so eloquently states, "more than life, their country love."

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ten Days of Thanksgiving: Day 1

Today kicks off my 3rd annual "10 Days of Thanksgiving" posts! It seems like we spend so much of the year focusing on what we wish we had or what we are working towards; I am glad that this time of year makes us stop and think about all of the things in our lives for which we are thankful!

Today, I am thankful for my boyfriend.

Yep, you read that right! I have a boyfriend! I've been a bit hesitant to blog about him as I am sort of paranoid and think, "If I blog about it, it will end." But we have been going strong for 2 months, and he's met my parents and gotten their stamp of approval so I feel like now is the right time to tell you about him.

Plus, today is his birthday so I figured it was apropos to start my 10 post series by telling you about him.

About 2 months ago, we were set up on a blind date by a mutual friend (a good friend from college is good friends w/ his sister-in-law). Truth be told, I was a bit hesitant to go on this date. We had exchanged a couple of emails and he came across a bit formal in his email. In fact, I nicknamed him "The Barrister" when talking about him because at times I felt like I was corresponding with a barrister in London, not a CPA in St. Paul.

Our first date was the evening of September 11th. I had done my 20 mile training run that morning so I figured if the date fizzled, I had a viable excuse to leave early.

We met for dinner at 7 pm at a seafood restaurant in Minneapolis. Dinner progressed to post-dinner drinks at a local sushi bar where we sat and talked until 1:30 am!!

Again, let me remind you that I had ran 20 miles that morning. The date was that good, it kept me out well past my usual bed time.

I was quite smitten from the get go and still am today. There are many things that I like about the Barrister (the nickname has sort of stuck... he knows about it and I think he likes it). Here are a few that I'd like to share:

I like that he plans fun and interesting dates - whether it's a great rooftop table, an evening at the Science Museum, or dinner at a French restaurant followed by an orchestra concert.

I like how he has welcomed me into his world by introducing me to his family and friends.

I like watching him interact with his niece.

I like that he makes me laugh - and I like that we have inside jokes that are only funny to us.

I like that I have a huge grin on my face as I think about him while typing this post.

I like all these things, and so much much... :)

Happy Birthday, Barrister! I hope the year to come is your best yet!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

1. Who makes your Thanksgiving dinner?
Usually my mom. Although last year my parents were at my brother's in the Chicago area and I wasn't able to join them so I crashed my aunt & uncle's celebration!

2. What is your favorite recipe the includes pumpkin? (bonus points for including the recipe)
I don't have one... Is that bad? I tried making some GF pumpkin muffins last year and they turned out so horrendously, they were seriously inedible.

3. What are 5 things you want for Christmas?
5 thing? That's kind of tough... But here goes...
1. Gift cards to a store where I can buy more Fiesta wear to go with the plates I recently got.
2. Narcisso Rodriguez For Her perfume
3. Yarn or a gift card to the yarn store where I shop (Bella Lana in Minneapolis)
4. A new apron from Anthropologie (you can't have too many!)
5. Shauna Ahern's new GF cook book

* um, this was hard. I have been thinking lots about what to get others... Making my own list? Not so much. I feel like I am getting to the age where the # of presents I receive should be pretty minimal since I really do not need anything!

4. Does your family draw names or do you buy for everyone?
My older brother, my younger sister, and their spouses draw names each year.

5. How do you feel about motorcycles?
I hate them. They make me so so so nervous.

6. What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy Saturday?
Sleep in, read in bed, knit, and eat soup for lunch!

7. What is the coolest thing to do in your city?
Well, I love the Lake Harriet area so I love taking visitors to one of my favorite book stores, then to my favorite ice cream shop, and then down to the lake to enjoy the views (weather permitting).

8. Do you paint your fingernails?
Never. It would look like a 5 year old did it.

9. Who is your favorite actor over the age of 50?
I think Richard Gere is really dreamy.

10. Do you have a high school letter jacket?
Hells no. I never bought one. I HATED high school. I am not exaggerating, people. I hated it.

PS - Tomorrow I kick off my "10 Days of Thanksgiving" blog post series - and I have some big news to share tomorrow!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Motivation Monday - Week 3

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a great weekend. Mine was fabulous! It didn't feature much of anything in the working out department but I sure had a lot of fun!

As I mentioned last week, fitting my work outs in each week has been a bit of a challenge lately. This week was no different. My past schedule of working out after work 3-4 nights/week just isn't going to cut it as there seems to be no end to the evening social commitments. I am not complaining, I just need to make some adjustments!

So my plan going forward will be to work out before work 2-3 times/week. Some mornings I will do a short 3-4 mile run, but one morning a week I would like to do some core work. I know myself well enough to know that going to the gym in the morning to do core work is just not going to work out for me. I can not stomach the idea of getting ready at the ghetto Y...

So I want to come up with a routine that I can do at home. From my Body Pump class, I have some core moves that I will do, but I am wondering if any of you can suggest a DVD that would be good for core work.

One thing to keep in mind - the video can't really feature any 'hopping around'. You see, I live in an apartment-style condo with neighbors above and below me. My neighbors are nice but dear God, they are a bit persnickety. I would like to avoid snarky notes and comments directed towards me at HOA monthly meetings, so for a exercise video to work, it has to be mostly 'stationary' type of moves.

Any suggestions?

Last week's high: I didn't have any work out highs, but I did make a new, healthy recipe on Friday that turned out fabulously!

Last week's low: Ufda. Let's not talk about how much I didn't work out last week... *hangs head in shame* Must turn this around this week!

Friday, November 5, 2010

It's Time for a Soiree!

Bonjour and Happy Friday to you all!

I am SO excited for the weekend ahead of me! My parents will arrive tomorrow for a big event.

What is the big event, you might be asking?

They are coming to Minneapolis for the 2nd Annual Julia Child Night.

You all know how obsessed I am with France - but I share an obsession for Julia Child with my aunt Barb, the author behind the blog, Adventures with B and B. Tomorrow night we'll be cooking up a feast fit for a king! It will feature Beef Bourguignon as well as other fabulous French dishes. I am taking care of the cheese and olive course and tonight I will whip up some chocolate mousse which we'll have for dessert. Please cross your fingers for me - I hope it turns out ok!!

I am sure I will back next week with lots of photos. You can read about the inaugural Julia Child Night here if you would like!

I'm off to iron my Anthropologie Apron - cute aprons are a prerequisite for this evening! Au revoir!

What do you have on tap for the weekend?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Music, Books, Miles, and Looks of October


Breathe Again by Sara Bareilles - I saw her in concert this week so had to include another one of her songs. I couldn't find a live version of this song, which is too bad because she is amazing live!


Oh boy, I really did not read much this month... All of my free time has been dedicated to knitting that gift for my friend, so I have barely read this month... I think this is the first month that I haven't read a single book since my grad school days...


54.2 miles. So I pretty much run 1/2 of the total miles for the month on 1 day. I've been giving my body a break from running, and will probably continue to give it a break so I expect my mileage to be on the lower end until February when I start ramping up the mileage in preparation for the start of 1/2 marathon training.


The weather has cooled off, so I am in cardigan mode! I bought this cardigan at Ann Taylor Loft this fall and have gotten quite a bit of use out of it already.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Another Tuesday and another set of questions, courtesy of Chelsea of Roots & Rings. Want to play along? She posts them on her blog on Monday at some point (there is a link on the right).

1. Do you color? If you do, is it with markers, crayons, colored pencils, etc.?
If I am hanging out with my nephews, yes. Otherwise, no. I am artistically challenged. Coloring is not my thing. But I am on the same level as my nephews (ages 2.5-6) so I fit right in when coloring with them! I prefer the big box of Crayola crayons. Preferably nice and sharp!

2. What’s the most organized part (or system) in your house?
I have a file box in my closet where all of my bills and financial documents are in folders, in alphabetical order.

3. What’s the most unorganized part (or system) in your house?
My bedroom desk right now is an absolute disaster. I bet I have a stack of about 40 magazine that I think I am going to read so refuse to throw away.... The desk is also a catch all for stuff I want to keep but don't have a place for. Like my 20 mile and marathon race bibs. And my marathon medal. And a whole bunch of random stuff. I wish I had an invisibility cloak to throw over this desk when my parents come this weekend...

4. If you had unlimited amounts of time and money, what museum would you want to see and why?
Hmm, probably the Louvre. I didn't go when I was in Paris because it was just too overwhelming. But if I had unlimited time and could continue to go back without paying the admission fee, I'd like to check this museum out.

5. What is your favorite part of the fall season?
The cooler fall temps and the colors of the changing leaves. We've had beautiful fall weather here in Minnesota!

6. Did you dress up for Halloween?
Hells no. I am a party pooper. I don't really 'do' Halloween. But I enjoy seeing my nephews all dressed up!

7. Have you started Christmas shopping?
No, but I have started to make a mental list of what I am going to buy whom.

8. Do you crack your knuckles?
Nope. My piano teacher forbade me from doing this as she told me I'd have ugly, puffy hands. That has stuck with me so I have never intentionally cracked my knuckles..

9. If you had to live in another city for a year (all expenses paid), which city would you choose?
Can I pick 2? In the US, I'd like to live in Manhattan - probably on the Upper East Side. Internationally, I would choose Paris and I'd live in the Marais area!

10. Do you have any reoccurring dreams?
Nope, they are different every time, and pretty much all equally weird/non-sensical.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Motivation Monday - Week 2

Happy Monday, everyone! Did you have a great Halloween? The day came and went like any other day of the year for me. I am just not a Halloween person to be quite honest... If I actually got trick-or-treaters, I'd enjoy it. But I don't since I live in a condo building with a bunch of retired peeps.

Anywho. Last week was not my best week, work-out wise. I am not doing such a great job of having a social life + exercising. Things aren't going to slow down this week or anytime soon since the holidays are fast approaching, so I need to work on fitting work outs in.

This summer it was so much easier to fit in work out since I could get up and run at 5 before going to work. That's not such a great option for me anymore because a) it's way way way dark now at 5 am, b) soon there will be snow on the ground and I just can't do snow + dark weather.

I could go to the gym before work, but that would mean getting ready at the ghetto YMCA I belong to. Oddly, it is located in one of the wealthiest suburbs but that doesn't seem to matter. Yes, I could change gyms, but the other gym close to my house is so busy, I couldn't get a parking spot when I went to check it out. So I will take the ghetto Y over a really nice but ridiculously busy gym.

So for now, I am trying to say yes to only one social obligation during the week. We'll see how that goes.

How do you fit your work outs in? Do you work out before or after work?

Last week's high: Running outside in beautiful fall weather on Sunday morning.

Last week's low: Only running twice... Hence the reason for the 'how am I going to fit my work out in' post...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Labor of Love - Part I

Do you all remember that time of your life when it seemed like everyone was getting married? Well, that phase of my life is behind me as most of my close friends are married.

Now I am at the phase of my life where it seems like everyone is pregnant. No joke. I haven't sat down and counted, but I know of at least 8 people, possibly more, that are due within the next 3 months. I have 3 friends and a cousin who are all due within ONE WEEK of each other. Two of my closest friends are due ONE DAY APART in December.

As you can tell if you've read my blog for long, I adore kids so I am excited that so many of my friends are embarking on this new phase in their life!

I love working with yarn and think that handmade gifts are the best. My grandma makes baby blankets for all the great grandchildren and I think it's the coolest gift to receive so I decided to make baby blankets for my 2 close friends who are due in December.

Today I am sharing the blanket I crocheted for my friend that is expecting a little lady in early December. This is actually my first crochet project where I had to follow a pattern, aside from some potholder I tried last year (which were an epic fail, by the way). You would think that if a person struggled to crochet potholder, it would be a bit delusional to make an entire blanket, right?

What can I say? I guess I like a challenge! Here are some photos for the finished product!

Here it is on the floor my condo, right before I boxed it up to send to my friend in Arizona

Here is a close up of the edge/corner details.

Another close up of the edges/corners

My friend had her shower last Saturday - I wish I could have been there when she opened it up but a trip down to Phoenix just wasn't in the budget.

I am still in the process of knitting a blanket for the other friend. I sadly did not finish it in time for her shower 2 weeks ago. :( It's taking me a bit longer to finish it than I thought it would! I am loving how it is turning out so can't wait to share it with you!

Do you ever make gifts? Have you receive a hand made gift that you loved? My grandma made each grandchild an afghan when we graduated from high school and I still have mine. Another 'hand made' gift that I received and loved was a journal that my mom kept of my senior year.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

1. What is your favorite decor item in your house?
The Paris prints above my bed that I bought off Etsy. Love them.

2. What is your favorite hair product?
I don't really have one... Any suggestions? Especially for a girl with naturally wavy hair that wants straight hair?

3. Are you a good dancer?
Good? Probably not. But I don't let that stop me! I do have a sense of rhythm thanks to all of those years of piano lessons, though.

4. You get some good news, who’s the first person you call?
Most likely my mom. Or one of my close friends. Depends on the nature of the good news. If it's work related, I call my mom. If it's in regards to meeting a new guy or something like that, I tell a close friend because I think telling my parents about a new guy too early jinxes the relationship.

5. Would you rather take pictures, or be in pictures?
Definitely take them.

6. What is your shoe style?
I love all kind of shoes, but my favorite are bold-colored, pointy toed, heels. Like this one pair of red shoes that I own (that really need some TLC from the cobbler). I am a pretty conservative dresser so I rely on my shoes to make my outfits interesting.

7. How often do you eat out?
I try not to eat out very often because it's expensive and you really don't know what you are eating (i.e. does it have gluten in it?) or how many calories you are consuming. Lately I have been eating out quite a bit, though, and need to get back to cooking more!

8. If someone has food in their teeth, do you tell them?
Yes. It's awkward, but I would hate to be the person walking around with food in their teeth. If I notice mid-meal, I will wait until the end as it might 'work itself out'. But if by the end of the meal they still have food in their teeth, I will say something.

9. Do you fold your underwear?
Heck yes I do. I like order. It drives me crazy when people don't fold their underwear... or their socks. It stressed me out to see a drawer of chaos.

10. Milk, dark, or white chocolate?
Dark, please!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Motivation Monday - Week 1

Good morning and happy Monday! I hope you all had a great weekend. Mine was quite full, but also very fun so I can not complain. I could use another day off, but couldn't we all?

Thank you for your kind, supportive comments last week regarding my post-marathon blues. I am already starting to feel better. I went to the gym on Tuesday and Wednesday and the endorphin release from working out again really helped.

As I said in my marathon recap posts, I think my marathon days are behind me. Instead I want to focus on improving my 1/2 marathon time. My PR from last October is 2:04 and I would really like to run a sub-2 hour marathon. I know I can do it, I just need to train for it and add in some hills/speed work.

As much as I want to register for another race, I know that I need some time away from a training schedule. So my next half won't be until next May when I will run the Fargo 1/2 marathon.

So what will I do between now and late February when I will start training for that race?

Well, I took a body pump class last week, which is a class hosted by the Y that works all of your major muscle groups.

It was an eye opening experience.

By taking that class, I realize how weak my core and upper body muscles have become. I shouldn't be surprised as all I have done for the last 4.5 months is run. Taking that class showed me that while I am in shape, especially cardiovascularly, I have some areas to work on. One of the things on my 30 before 30 list is to be able to do 20 real push-ups. My birthday is just over 3 months away; I am hoping shifting towards a mix of cardio and strength training will help me achieve this goal.

Posting about my marathon training each week worked well for me. It kept me honest and was a great way to track my progress week by week. So from now until 1/2 marathon training starts, I'll be blogging each Monday about how this shift away from just running is going. I figure it will keep me motivated! I'm borrowing Becky's Hi/Low approach and will leave you each Monday with my exercising hi/low. I'd love it if you would also leave your hi/low in the comments - whether it's in regards to exercising or life in general!

Last week's high: Running for the first time since the marathon with no pain whatsoever.

Last week's low: Feeling pain in my knee cap when doing lunges during Body Pump. Clearly I have not completely recovered from the femoral patella issues I had last spring.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A case of the blahs

I think I am experiencing a bit of the marathon blues.

It's only natural, I think. I felt similar after my 2006 marathon. I remember feeling kind of 'blah'. I remember finishing that marathon and thinking, "Was it a big deal that I ran a marathon?"

Now I ask myself, "Is it a big deal that I ran a 4:22:10 marathon and beat my time goal of 4:30? Was 4:30 an ambitious goal? Is 26.2 mile really that far??

I realize that questions like these sound down right delusional.

But marathon training kind of messes with your mind, in my opinion. You lose perspective of what a 'long run' is. You toss around phrases like, "I only have to run 12 miles this weekend."

I think I need time away from marathon training to gain respect for what I accomplished.

But then I see things like the text of this ad from Nike, which I saw on (Long) Road to Paradise.

You pretended the snooze button didn’t exist. You dragged your butt out of bed while others slept. While others ate their pancakes you had a feast of protein, glucose and electrolytes. You double-knotted. You left the porch light on and locked the door behind you.

"You ran 5Ks, 10Ks, 26.2 miles. Some days more, some days less. You rewarded a long run with a short run. And a short run with a long run. Rain tried to slow you. Sun tried to microwave you. Snow made you feel like a warrior.

You cramped. You bonked. You paid no mind to comfort. On weekends. On holidays. You made excuses to keep going. Questioned yourself. Played mind games. Put your heart before your knees. Listened to your breathing. Sweat sunscreen into your eyes. Worked on your farmer’s tan.

You hit the wall. You went through it. You decided to be man about it. You decided to be woman about it. Finished what you started. Proved what you were made of. Just kept putting mile after mile on your internal odometer... You ran. And we ran with you. How much farther will we go? As far as you will."

I read this ad and I remember that running a marathon IS an admirable goal.

I remember that I made quite a few sacrifices while training.

I remember how hard I pushed myself.

I know I shouldn't need to read a silly ad to feel this way, but I do. I am confident that this is just a little phase that I am going through; before long, that feeling of pride will catch up with me.

Have you ever worked towards a goal and then after achieving it, felt a little blah like I do? Also, I should emphasize that I am not fishing for compliments; I am just being honest about how I feel, post-marathon.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Three Things Tueday

1. There is no Ten on Tuesday today because a) this is Chelsea's first week back from maternity leave so she's obviously got her mind on other things and b) she didn't have any questions to post. Send some her way if you like Ten on Tuesdays and have some burning questions you'd like to ask and/or answer!

2. My complexion is at an all time worst for some random reason. Is it the change of seasons? The stress of traveling and running the marathon? Has my body gotten used to the Tetracycline I have been taking for about a year now? Who knows. I am baffled. And so so so frustrated. It doesn't seem right/fair that my skin is worse now than it was when I went through puberty. My skin should not be at its worst at age 29 - well, I don't think it should be but my dermatologist said it's quite common for women to struggle with skin problems in their upper 20s/low 30s. I splurged and used some gift cards to purchase a Clarisonic at the recommendation of a friend and my esthetician. I am praying that it's effective. Otherwise I might start walking around with a paper bag over my head. :(

3. I've been a 5-day-a-week poster for the last year or so; that's going to change starting this week. My life is feeling quite full these days - with good things - and I just need to take a little step back and post a little less often. I hope you'll be patient with me as I learn how to juggle all the things I have going on in my life right now!

What are the top 3 things that are on your mind today?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Marathon Trip Recap

So I have talked quite a bit about the marathon, probably ad naseum for some of you, but I haven't even mentioned the road trip! This is probably because Amber did such an awesome job of blogging about our journey! Here are her posts:

Vancouver - Day 1
Vancouver - Day 2
Snoqualmie Falls + Night Before the Marathon
Marathon Day

I barely took any photos on this trip... You see, Amber has an awesome SLR and I have a crappy point & shoot, circa 2004. SLR > my crappy camera, so I let her capture out trip in pictures! Here are a couple of my favorites!

Day 1 in Vancouver, crossing the bridge on our way to Granville Island.

Day 2 in Vancouver, standing in front of "Canada Place".

Enjoying Pumpkin Spice Lattes in front of the original Starbucks in Seattle! Yum!

Snoqualmie Falls. Pictures do not do this justice. It was STUNNING. It was definitely worth the detour on our way to Portland!

I'll close with some highlights from my trip, bullet-point style:

  • Meeting Amber and Lauren and discovering that they are even MORE awesome in person... which wasn't a surprise since this has been the case for all of my blogger meet-ups.
  • Discovering that I can actually navigate quite well - whether in the car or walking in a new city. I think traveling alone to France really pushed me out of my comfort zones and taught me how to really 'get my bearings' for a city.
  • On Sunday night, after the marathon, Amber and I went out for dinner at Deshutes Brewery where they had a gluten free menu. Words can't describe my delight at finding that they had a hamburger that was served on a gluten free bun! I haven't eaten a burger on a bun since I went gluten free in February of 2009! I might have clapped with glee when my meal arrived...
  • Receiving the congratulatory phone calls, bbms, text messages, and emails from SO many people. I was so touched and felt incredibly loved!

The trip really could not have gone better than it did. It's sort of surreal that it's all over and done with. Amber and I have been planning this trip for about a year now, so it's sort of sad that it's over and done with. However, I am confident that I will see Lauren and Amber in the future - possibly for a destination 1/2 marathon! :)

I hope your week is off to a fabulous start!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Marathon Recap: Part II

Hopefully you weren't too bored with part I of the race recap! Here is a post with more details!

When we left off last time, I mentioned that it started to pretty much pour when we were starting... While the rain did let up a bit at times, it consistently rained the entire race. I stepped in a puddle right away so my feet were sopping wet from the beginning. So wet that every step I took, water would shoot out of the mesh toe covering of my shoes. No joke.

Miraculously, I got no blisters.

I did not lose a toe nail.

And I did not chafe.

I do not know how this is possible. I did cover my feet with body glide on race morning and every time I saw Vaseline at an aid station, I grabbed a gob and rubbed it on my inner thighs and on my upper arms where they sort of 'swipe' my sports bra top.

I guess you can say that you lose all sense of modesty when you are running a marathon. I mean, when else in life is it acceptable to take a gob of Vaseline and rub down your inner thighs in public... right?

Oh and the whole fuel thing? It wasn't an issue at all. I think the adrenaline took over or something, so I actually drank the Ultima crap and did not puke. Score 1 for Lisa. I carried 32 oz of gatorade in my running belt but only drank maybe 4 ounces around mile 23 when I needed a 'treat' to get me through to the end. I tried to drink a 1/2 cup of ultima and a 1/2 cup of water at every aid station. Since it was raining and sort of cool, I didn't really 'feel' thirsty, but I knew I had to keep hydrating or I would definitely pay for it later in the race.

So now for the splits and a little commentary when necessary...

We started in a thick pack of runners so my pace was a bit slow to start, which was probably for the best as it gave me a chance to warm up.

Mile 1: 10:45
Mile 2: 10:34

Around this point, I split off from Amber. My legs were itching for speed. Amber stayed with the 4:30 pace group (sort of, they were behind us at this point), and I forged ahead.

Mile 3: 9:57

After mile 3, I decided to put my head phones on. I hadn't planned to run with my headphones on as you can't really connect with the spectators as well, but it was so mentally grueling for me to run in the rain, I needed the music to distract me!

Mile 4: 9:04 (now that is more like it!)
Mile 5: 9:17
Mile 6: 9:30
Mile 7: 9:22

I really started to hit my 'sweet spot' during these miles and had that "I could run forever feeling... or at least for 26.2 miles". At the same time, I kept asking myself, "Am I seriously running 26.2 miles today?" The race just came so quickly, I was still kind of in shock that it was race day!

Mile 8: 9:28
Mile 9: 9:59 (Bathroom break #1)
Mile 10: 9:13
Mile 11: 9:29
Mile 12: 9:53
Mile 13: 9:28
Mile 14: 9:45
Mile 15: 9:33
Mile 16: 9:54

I was starting to "feel" the miles at this point, but still felt strong. I knew that the mile to come was going to be one of the tougher ones as you have a huge hill that brings you to a bridge - sort of like a never ending on-ramp I guess you could say? I wanted to walk so many times during this mile, but I just focused on the person that this mile was dedicated to (one of my best friends that is pregnant) and would NOT let myself walk.

Mile 17: 10:29 - slow split but I just tackled a huge hill so I will not complain
Mile 18: 9:54
Mile 19: 10:01
Mile 20: 10:09

When I hit mile 20, I actually felt better than I did compared to how I felt when I finished my 20 mile training run. My hip flexors were not bothering me and I still felt like my legs had plenty of energy.

Mile 21: 11:10 - another bathroom break!
Mile 22: 10:03
Mile 23: 9:59

At this point, I was REALLY ready for the race to be done. I was exhausted. I could FEEL every. single. step. My knees were starting to ache a bit and my quads were so tight, but I kept pushing ahead. I kept telling myself - it's only another 5k! At this point, I knew I was going to come in under 4:30, which made it easier for me to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Mile 24: 10:35
Mile 25: 9:57
Mile 26: 9:56
The final .2 (or .48 according to my Garmin): 4:46

Total time - 4:22:10 - average pace of 6 mph

I pushed myself to run as hard as I could those last couple of miles and am proud of the fact that I had sub-10 minute miles, even if it was just barely below 10.

It felt great to cross the finish line. I raised my arms in the air in triumph! Hopefully the race photographer caught that.

Now that the marathon is behind me, it's sort of surreal to think about. Even though there were moments during the race where I struggled, in general, I really felt great. It was a completely different experience from my 2006 marathon when I walked most of the last 6 miles.

Since I hit my time goal, and kind of blew it out of the water, I feel like I can hang up my marathon shoes. I enjoyed the training process and it was awesome to share it with Amber, but it's also super time consuming.

I could eat my words, but I really think that was my 2nd and last marathon. I proved to myself that I could do it again and do it much faster.

Now, I'd like to focus on a more well-rounded work out schedule. I am not hanging up my racing shoes; instead, I will shift my focus to my 1/2 marathon and will work on training for a sub-2 hour half in 2011 hopefully.

Once again, thanks for following along with me and encouraging me along the way. I really appreciated every encouraging comment, email, black berry message, and facebook post! Having you all there, cheering us on from afar, meant the world to me!

And that concludes the marathon recap!! I will probably post some race photos once they are available!

Have a fabulous weekend, everyone! Any big plans? Tonight I am having dinner at a French restaurant that I have always wanted to try and then will go to a orchestra concert. I definitely plan on enjoying a glass of wine with dinner which is something I haven't done for the last 3 weeks (except on Sunday night when Amber and I toasted to our successful races!)