Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It Was the Best of Times...

Hey everyone!  I am finally getting around to writing a quick post.  My internet has been down for days (cable, too).  Thank God for my iPhone.  I would be lost without it!  The internet has been fixed, but I won't trust it until it works consistently for a cuople of days. 

Anyways, I had an amazing weekend with Amber and Amber!  I am not even going to try to do it justice since Canadian Amber did an amazing job recapping each day with photos!  You can read about it here:

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

Seriously - go check out those posts.  She got some amazing photos.

I wasn't as good about documenting the weekend in photos, so in true Lisa style, you get a bullet-pointed version of highlights:
  • Dress shopping!  It was really fun to watch Amber try on the wedding dresses - and find THE ONE.  It was a very special experience to be there with her. 
  • Outerwear  Yep, surprise, surprise, I bought another coat.   Isaw it across the street and jay walked to check it out.  I know, I know.  I have a lot of coats.  But it's cold here a lot.  And this one is plum.  I will post a picture of it some other time.  The funny thing is that Iowa Amber misunderstood me when I said I have 16 jackets - she thought I had 60!  Ufda.  Now that would be a problem.  ;)
  • Running  I got to do 2 runs with Canadian Amber - one easy'ish but hot run on Fri and one long run on Saturday.  It was great to catch up while running!
  • Biking  We explored the city on bikes on Sunday and the girls loved the Nice Ride program as much as I did.  We spent about 80 minutes biking in total, so got a nice little workout it!
  • Linguistics  Turns out Canadian Amber pronounces quite a few words differently.  Like drama.  And pasta.  And chafing.  She should probably do a vlog about this.  I would, but the sound of my voice is akin to nails on the chalkboard for me....
  • Validation  I think one of the best things about this weekend was that they totally agreed that my neighborhood is  It's nice to see the city through someone else's eyes.  I didn't need their validation, but it's nice to have important people in your life tell you, "We get why you live here and why you are so happy."
I will leave you with one photo that I stole from Amber.  :)

So in summary, it really was the best of times.  The worst of times was the saying good bye part.  I find myself wishing I lived closer to a long list of people I've met through the blogging community!  That said, I know these good byes are really 'see you laters'!  The girls, and others I've met, are truly life-long friends.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wine and Love v14

Another week of wine and love, where I air my grievances and the things that are making me very happy!

- Sleep.  Lately I have been sleeping horribly.  I either struggle to fall asleep or struggle to stay asleep.  I am averaging around 7 hours a night and it's just not enough for me. 
- Furniture assembly. If you are on twitter, you KNOW how much I did NOT enjoy assembling that furniture.
-  I am very lucky to have a very busy life and a full social calendar, but it's sort of been a bit too much lately.  Like in the month of August, I had 2 free week nights.  TWO.  And one of those 'free' nights was spent in a car, driving up to my parents cabin.  It's been a fun month, but it's been exhausting.  A corollary of this is that I feel like I have to apologize when I have to say no to something because I am busy or just plain need a night to myself.

- Tonight, Canada Amber flies in and tomorrow Iowa Amber arrives for the weekend!!  Our group is smaller than originally planned due to some things that came up for the others, but I am SUPER DUPER excited to host these 2.  We have lots of fun plans, which include wedding dress shopping (for Canada Amber), a grilled dinner at my house, the state fair, watching "One Day" (which we've all read), and biking around Minneapolis!  I am sure I will have pictures to share and stories to tell next week!
- As much as I hated assembling my furniture, I love the actual furniture.  My place is starting to look more put together!  Everything was sort of in limbo until I got the couch - now I can start making decisions about what to do with the rest of my living room/den area/etc.
- I have tomorrow off!  I haven't had a day off since the weekend of the 4th so I am due for this!  I can't wait to spend the day with the Ambers!

Have a wonderful weekend!  I am sure I will be back with a recap next week!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Workout Wednesday: Furniture Assembly

Some weeks, you get a workout in without even leaving your home.  Last week was one of those weeks!  The couch I had my eye on was finally in stock at Ikea, so I purchased it on Monday and it arrived on Tuesday.  When I bought the sofa, I asked if it required a lot of assembly.  The Ikea person said, "Um, I think you need to attach some wheels or something.  It shouldn't be too bad."

So imagine my surprise when my couch arrived.  In 4 boxes.  Attach some wheels.  Sure.

It's amazing how some things like furniture assembly turn into a work out.  Between the crouching and the screwing in of parts, I worked some muscles that I have not worked in awhile!

Before I get into the post, I do have some complaints to make about ikea:

1.  Must the directions be 100% wordless?  Seriously?  Not everyone is a visual person (ahem, me).  I get that they are an international company so the directions are universal, but could you throw SOME words on there? 

2.  What is with the teletubby-looking 'people' in the directions.  I was like - am I looking at a person or is that Patrick from Sponge Bob?

Alright, grievances have been aired.  Moving on.

I didn't take any couch assembly pictures because I was in a mad rush to get as much of it assembled as possible before my friends came over that evening.  Thank God we had plans to walk somewhere for dinner.  There's no way I could handle assembly + make dinner!  Here are some pictures of the finished product!

I love the storage in the chaise lounge!  Great place to store blankets, sheets, etc.

It is nice to finally have a place for guests to stay.  In the past I would sleep on the love seat (which was way to short for me) or my guests would sleep on an air mattress.

After assembling that couch, I had to take some time off from assembly.  On Sunday I tackled the table and 6 dining chair.  I figured it would be way easier than the couch.

Wrongo batman.

I'll let the pictures do the talking.

Yikes, that is a lot of hardware...

Laying some of the piece out - not all, though.  Oh heavens no. 

Making progress.   I definitely did not think I would get this far.

All assembled, just needed some assistance to flip her over!

And done

I am so so so glad that the assembly is behind me.  I am impressed I was able to assemble both items virtually on my own.  That's so unlike me - I am not usually a handy person.

I really love the table because now I have a big enough table to host dinner parties!  And I could potentially host a holiday some day if I had the opportunity.  The table actually has 2 leaves that are stored in the table.  LOVE.

After I replenish my savings account, I plan on buying 2 upholstered chairs for the ends, but that will have to wait. 

What have you done around the house lately that has resulted in a work out?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

10 questions

Caitlin thought up these questions and after reading Ambermy sister Abby's, and  Kelly's answers, I decided to play along!

What are you really good at?  What are you really bad at?

I'm really good at:  Math.  Excel spreadsheets.  Planning trips, especially to Paris.  Writing (sometimes, when I am inspired).  Staying motivated/sticking with a plan.  Organizing my life. 

I'm really bad at:  Going with the flow.  Handling criticism.  Being spontaneous.  Not taking things personally.  Hiding my emotions.  Sleeping.  Saying no.

Have you ever been in a car accident?  What happened?

I got rear ended in the fall of 2004.  It was not my fault.  Traffic came to a sudden halt on a random Saturday night when there should not have been traffic.  The car behind me was not paying attention and rear ended me. 

It was very, very minor, but I have never been the same since.  I am crazy-paranoid about getting rear ended.  Those who have been on the phone with me while I am in the car have heard me chant "please see me slowing, please see me slowing down" when traffic comes to a sudden stop. 

Where did you attend college?

I got my undergrad at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.  Go Sioux (or whatever the heck our mascot will be?)!  I got my masters at the Carlson School of Management (University of MN).  My loyalty is defnitely to UND, not U of M.  My masters was SO expensive.  Like a class cost as much as a semester at UND.  No joke.  Granted, part of that is due to inflation/the riduculous increase in the cost of education, the rest is due to the fact that I was paying for the ranking of the MBA program. 

Describe your morning routine today

5 am - wake up, put on work out clothes, go to the gym in my building.  Today I did speed work (800m repeats).  I don't usually run in my gym, but this week my schedule is all wonky. 

5:45 am - shower, get ready for work.  I am wearing my hair curly in the summer so this takes much less time compared to the rest of the year when I blow dry and flat-iron my hair.

6:10 am - make eggs and gf toast, eat breakfast, read blogs, respond to emails

6:45 am - leave house, bike to work

7 am - Arrive at work and get busy with whatever it is I am tackling that day!

Have you ever snooped through someone else's things?  Did you find anything interesting?

Not that I can recall.  I think snooping is playing with fire because if you find something out, what in the heck are you going to do with that information??  It would eat me up if I snooped and found something and then couldn't confront the person.  So no thank you on the snooping.

What do you think happens when you die?

I hope that I go to heaven, but I do believe there is a final judgment that will be made before I am accepted into heaven.  This is a really heavy topic and I don't really want to go there today, so I will just leave it at that!

Are you superstitious?

Not really.  But sort of.  I mean, I wore a certain dress to take the CFA, along with a wishbone necklace my cousin gave me.  I wore that same dress & necklace the day I got my results as I felt like it was a good luck charm.  I will probably wear that dress & necklace when I take the next 2 levels.  I also took advantage of back-to-school sales and bought my binder and notebook paper for the next level - and I made sure to buy a binder that was hot pink like my level I binder was.  So yah, I guess I am superstitious, or maybe you could say I like rituals?

Do people think you are younger or older than you actually are?

Based on looks, people usually think I am younger, especially when I wear my hair curly.  And because I wear a backpack to work.  My boss does, too.  It's how we roll.  But people see the backpack and think - she's in school.  Not - she's a 30 year old going to work.  What can I say, I heart backpacks.

I think maturity wise, I have always been mature for my age, although now my maturity level probably = my age.  But in my early 20s, I don't think I fit in with my age group as I bought a house and lived alone and didn't really go out, etc, etc.

How did your parent's relationship influence you?

It made me respect and appreciate happy and healthy relationships.  I learned how a man should treat a woman.  I learned that it is possible to not run out of things to talk about, even after 40+ years of marriage (this still baffles me!!).  I learned that opposites can attract.  My parents are different in many ways, but the thing that makes them work is that they have the important things in common (hobbies, faith, values, principles, work ethic, etc). 

What were the three happiest moments of your life?

This is tough because I have many happy moments in my life, but these are 3 that stand out in the couple of years (well, 2 are from this year):

1.  Becoming an aunt - each every time.  I know that is 5 moments, but I am cheating and grouping them into a single moment.  I am one proud aunt and absolutely adore my nephews.

2.  A moment in Paris when I was walking along the Seine, taking in the beautiful sights of Paris, and as they say, "my cup runneth over".  I remember looking around and thinking - 'is this my life?  Do I really get to be here and experience this beauty?'  Le sigh. :)

3.  Finding out I passed Level I of the CFA.  I cried  (happy tears) and my heart felt like it swelled in my chest.  I worked so so so so so so so freaking hard for that pass.  It was just a relief and a wonderful feeling to know that all of my hard work paid off. 

Pick one (or all of them) and answer it in the comments!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Book Blog Swap!

Greetings, and happy Monday, readers!  A couple of weeks ago, I was shopping for books for my oldest nephew's birthday.  My blog-friend-turned-real-life-friend Nora and I started exchanging messages about our childhood favorites.  The result of that conversation was this new blog swap series - Book Worms Recommend!  Nora loves books just as much as do so we thought it would be fun to swap blogs monthly and share some of our favorites.

This month we are kicking it off with recommendations for children ages 2-6.  Since Nora is a bonus mom to 2 adorable girls, she will focus on books for girls.  Since I am a proud aunt to 5 boys, I will be focus on books for boys!  Curious to see what I recommended?  Hop over to Nora's blog!!

Without further adieu, here are Nora's recommendations!

* Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt. Perfect for toddlers who are into opening books and getting a feel for what a book is, Pat the Bunny is one of the best books for this age group. It works on the various senses (touch, sight, smell) and is just really adorable. This is one of those books I buy for every single one of my friends when they are having a baby, even if it's sit on a shelf for two years, it's a classic and should be in every child's early library collection. (Ideal age: Toddler!)

* The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown. Maybe this is a favorite of mine because it was the very first book I read all to myself. Or maybe it's just because it's kind of a sweet story about bunny mother and her child. It's ideal for children who are learning how to read or are just reading themselves; the pictures are gorgeous and captivating, the story is simple and as far as I'm concerned, it's an undisputed classic. (Nora's Ideal Age: 2-4 yrs)

* Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. I know, I know. This is a really old book and it talks about kids drawing on walls but the book is still one of my favorites. The girls absolutely love it when we read it to them (and it does come with a warning about drawing on the walls after we're done). I think what I love most about this is that it encourages the imagination, something that as an adult I know I struggle with. It's a reminder to have fun with the simple things in life, to be creative, to dream and to imagine. (Nora's Ideal Age: 2-4 yrs)

* The Classic Characters of Golden Books, Various Authors. Remember Golden Books? I had piles and piles of them some of them including the traditional characters (Scuffy the Tugboat, anyone?) and then some Disney and Mickey Mouse books too. I am a huge fan of traditional and classic books for kids like this. There's nothing wrong with Dora, Phineas and Ferb, even the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse books that are everywhere for kids, but there is something about old-school classics like this. It opens them up to a world before cartoons and DVDs, teaches them basic lessons, and allows you to share a piece of your childhood with them too. They still make Golden Books which I just adore because they were and are some of my favorite books for children, boy or girl. (Nora's Ideal age: 3-5 yrs)

* Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Perhaps a little bit overdone with the most recent movie (which I thought was terrifying and sometimes the book can be too), this book is still a classic. The illustrations. The idea of a magical land that you can escape to in your dreams. Jolie (and Belle, too) both love this book. They insist on it being read once a week which proves that Sendak knew his audience. I suppose this is another classic that one can't help but buy for their little girls. (Nora's Ideal age: 3-5 yrs)

* Fancy Nancy books, by Jane O'Connor. While these books didn't exist when I was growing up, I'm a huge fan of Fancy Nancy, specifically her "I Can Read," series. You can't go wrong with a character who likes to bake cupcakes, participates in Earth Day, takes ballet, has tea parties and goes to museums, can you? She's a wholesome character, always wearing little girl dresses and shoes, learning right from wrong, and of course there's a lesson or moral to each and every story. (Nora's Ideal age: 4-6 yrs)

* The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter. (And of course all the other Potter books.) Growing up I had the Potter series and loved them. Couldn't get enough of them even if some of the characters are a little bit on the scary side (ahem, Mr. McGreggor). I loved the ideas of animals having families, adventures, lives and of course, learning lessons, sometimes the hard way. Jolie has started to enjoy these books more and more and I'm happy to share the stories and tales of Beatrix Potter with her. (Nora's Ideal age: 4-6 yrs)

* Angelina Ballerina by Katharine Holabird. A cute mouse who loves to dance? WIN. Yes, this was another book I read and loved as a child that has fortunately survived over the years (of course there are more books, a tv show, figurines and etc. but I'm glad she's done so well for herself). I confess I don't remember all the details of this book but I love that she's still around, she's still an adorable little mouse who loves to dance and she's a great character for little girls to read. (Nora's Ideal age: 4-6 yrs)

* Thumbelina, by Hans Christian Andersen. I remember for years of my life my mom read this book to me; I'm on a hunt to find it for Jolie one of these days. The idea of a fairy who lives in flowers and has various encounters with potential suitors is whimsical and fun. There are many adaptations of this tale, illustrations and etc., but the story is light and lovely, and perfect for little girls who are into the ideas of fairies and princesses. (Nora's Ideal age: 4-6 yrs)
There are so many other books that I love for little girls who are young and just starting to read but I'll stop here for now. I'll be back in September with recommendations for our next age group, so be sure to keep an eye out for this series in the future!

What were your favorite books when you were a little girl? Any books that are must-haves, gifts you give to your friends with children or make sure you keep on your shelf if you have your own?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wine and Love v13

Another week almost come and gone!  Where is the time going?  Feeling like expressing your wines and loves?  Link up over at Nora's blog! 

- No matter what I try, I can not seem to get rid of the eczema on my leg.  It has my dermatologist baffled as it's only on one leg.  I have tried cortizone, gold bond powder, a topical cream from the derm, a oral steroid, jojoba oil, and now I am trying zinc oxide.  Seriously hoping the zinc oxide is the cure!
- Work has been a bit stressy this week.
- I really, really, really dislike vague/cryptic facebook statuses.  Actually, I could write a whole post about my pet peeves with facebook.  I would deactivate my account but it's a good way to see pics for friends' children and stay in touch with aunts/uncles/cousins/etc.

- The couch I have had my eye on for over a month finally was in stock at Ikea!  It was delivered on Tuesday (along with a dining room set) and I actually managed to assemble it almost totally on my own!  That's shocking - assembling is NOT my thing!
- Visitors!!  Yes, that required bolding.  This week I had 2 friends over on Tuesday, my cousin came last night and spent the night, and my aunt & uncle are coming over tomorrow night!  So fun to live in an area that actually attracts visitors.  That was SO not the case in my suburban condo!
- The weather.  Oh my gosh, the weather has seriously been just amazing and perfect lately.  Makes a HUGE difference when the temps are normal and the humidity is contained! 
- I had an amazing weekend at the cabin with my family last weekend!  I slept so well, relaxed a ton, and soaked up the time with family.  It was downright blissful. 
- I am going to the womans finals of the National Gymnastics Competition on Saturday night.  I am such a gymnastics dork so I am super duper excited!  Some of these girls will be on the Olympcis team next year so it will be cool to say I saw them live!!  Eeks! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Workout Wednesday: No Excuses

Happy Wednesday everyone! 

Last weekend I went to my parents' cabin on Friday night.  I had partially packed on Thursday before going out for dinner with friends, and then finished packing on Friday morning.   Apparently it was NOT a good strategy to not pack things all at once.  I forgot some crucial things....

1.  I forgot my shoes.  I realized this as I was leaving the suburbs of the Twin Cities.  I did not feel like driving back into the cities, so I just sucked it up and bought a new pair.  Not ideal as I already have a new pair that I was planning to start wearing this month, but I guess those will get worn at a later time.

2.  When I started getting ready on Saturday morning, I realized I also forgot socks.  Seriously.  I borrowered some from my mom, but they were cotton.  Cotton is NOT good for running, let me tell you.  Cotton + new shoes + 10 miles is just really not a winning combination.

3.  I thought - fine, I have body glide, I will just put a ton on my feet.  Nope, no body glide.  That didn't make it into the suitcase either.  And my parents didn't have any vaseline.

4.  As if I didn't have enough stacked against me, I grabbed my iPod when I was heading out, only to find my iPod was completely dead

But you know what, I plodded head.  I grumbled for a bit and then headed out.  I was doing 2 5-mile loops, so luckily I was able to stop back for my charged iPod on my 2nd loop.

The point of this rambling 'Lisa is the worst packer' story is this - I had PLENTY of excuses not to run last weekend.  Plenty.  And a couple of years ago, I would have used ANY of these reasons not to run.  Heck, I would even use the fact that I forgot to bring a hair tie as an excuse to not go to the gym.

Not anymore.  I have become pretty darn determined and there really is not much that will keep me from running!

Are you good at talking yourself out of working out?  I used to be, but now when I start to talk myself out of running I tell myself, "You will never regret doing a run.  You will ALWAYS regret skipping a run."  That always seems to work and gets me out the door. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

When I was a Child - the Summer Edition

I don't know about you, but there is something about summer time that makes me nostalgic.  I am more apt to think of my time as a child - maybe because summers as child hold so many great memories.  So I got to thinking that it would be fun to do a seasonal post entitled, "When I was a Child" and I will reflect upon/share memories/highlights from my childhood!  You should play along, too!

When I was a child...
  • My mom would slice up lots of cucumbers and tomatoes from our garden to serve at dinner and us kids would practically fight over who got the last tomato slice!  I miss the days of having fresh produce in my back yard. 
  • I would anxiously await the weekend when our family would pack up the car and go to the lake.  We didn't have a cabin back then - instead we had a really small camper.  I don't know how all 7 of us fit in there, but we did.  It seemed like it would take FOREVER for my dad to get home from work on Friday night.  I think we must have drove our mom crazy on those afternoons!
  • Most of my day was spent outside.  We'd run through the sprinkler or slide down the Crododile Mile (anyone remember that?).  It was very very rare to watch movies or tv or play video games. 
  • I thought I was going to be a world class gymnast some day.  My older sister and I would spend hours practicing our round-offs and cartwheels.  I got to re-visit this passion when I showed my nephews how to do a cartwheel last year - which resulted in me spraining my ankel.  My body isn't quite as nimble as it used to be! 
  • I would ride my banana seat bike down to my best friend's house.  We'd listen to New Kids on the Block and play barbies.
  • I would devour books.  I read anything from Anne of Green Gables to Little House on the Prairie to Babysitters Club Books.  I especially loved the BSB Summer Specials because they were nice and thick! 
Life sure was simpler back then!  Not that I would want to go back, I definitely enjoy being an adult!

Your turn, when I was a child I...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Not If, But When

Another bonus video for you today.  Mat Kearney's new album came out recently so I of course bought it.  This song is the kind of song that makes you want to clap your hands (especially since there is hand clapping IN the song)!  Do you listen to his music?  He rocks.  I have had a crush on him for quite some time, mostly because of his singing/song-writing abilities.  And he is cute, too!

But Mr. Kearney is off the market, so I will have to set my sights on someone else, I guess! 

Do you know where he met his wife?  Anthropologie, my friends.  He said he was shopping for a gift for his sister.  He locked eyes with this girl, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

What a lucky girl - she probably got a cute purchase, like an apron, AND a husband out of a trip to Anthro.

It just goes to show - you never know where you will meet someone.

I used to talk about this with an aunt and she would tell me that she sometimes fantasized about meeting a man in the grocery store.  She thought maybe one day she'd be reaching for a cantaloup at the same time as some great guy, and the rest, as they say, would be history.

What is the point of this post, you ask?  The point is that life is full of surprises.  I am sure Mrs. Kearney did not think she would meet her husband at Anthropologie, right?  But she did.

And no, there have not been any surprise encounters with the man of my dreams, but I still remain hopeful.  Who knows, he could be in Caribou when I order my coffee or at Lunds where I buy my groceries or he may ride up the 13 floors of my condo building with me one evening.

Maybe he's out there, maybe he isn't.  Lately I've thought it's not a question of if I will meet him, it's a question of when.  Either way, I will keep living life to the fullest... and I will certainly keep shopping at Anthropologie.  ;)

If you are in a relationship, how did you meet your significant other?  If you are single, where would like you like to meet your significant other?  I think it would be cool to meet someone at a bookstore because then there would be a pretty good chance that we'd share a love of books.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

In the Name of Research...

Hello readers!  Rememeber when I said that I met up with my blogging friend, Crystal, last week?  Well it turns out she is in the midst of writing a dissertation.  Crystal asked me to post this because she needs help getting participants for her dissertation examining grief following the loss of a companion animal. If you or anyone you know fits the following criteria (either A or B) and would be willing to take a short online survey, please email her for further details. Thank you!

Group A)
You may qualify if you meet the following criteria;
·         You have experienced the death of a companion dog within the past 5 years.
·         You have attended therapy during and/or following that loss. (The therapy does not need to have been specific to that loss)
·         You are over the age of 18.
Please email Crystal at (for more information or to see a flyer click here)

Group B)
You may qualify if you meet the following criteria;
·         You are a therapist licensed either at the masters or doctoral level.
·         You have been practicing for at least a year.
Please email Crystal at

Hopefully she can drum up some more participants!  And wow, I am feeling mighty lucky that I did not have to do a dissertation to get my masters!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wine and Love v12

Another week of Wine and Love!  Brought to you by the fabulous Nora!

- Yesterday.  I biked to work as usual but the docking stations by my office were not accepting bikes for some reason.  So I went to the next station that was a couple of blocks away and docked my biked.  I walked the 3 blocks to work and then realized I did not have my purse - I HAD LEFT IT iIN THE BASKET ON THE BIKE.  I then ran as fast as I could (in heels) back to the bike station.  Luckily, the purse was still there.  But my heart was racing and I was basically drenched in sweat from running/panicking.  Not a good start to the day.  That said, I am incredibly lucky that no one took my purse. 
- When I grilled my dinner last Saturday night, the grilling/pool area was like an all out frat party.  There was chanting and yelling and jumping in the pool.  These boys were not college aged, but they sure acted like it.  Not impressed.  I felt really out of place reading my nook whilst grilling. 

- I went out last Thursday night and had a great time.  I definitely over-indulged, to say the least, but considering the fact it was the first time I was intoxicated in 6+ months, I am not going to beat myself up too much.  It was a going away happy hour for a couple that is moving later this month.  I am sad to see them go, but am thrilled that they are moving to a location that is pretty cheap to fly to!
- My brother set up my patio furniture so I am now able to utilize that space!  I ate my first meal outdoors on Tuesday night and it was glorious.
- The weather has been cooler lately and I am LOVING it.  I'm no longer in a rush for fall to get here!
- I'm heading back to the cabin this weekend to help my mom celebrate her birthday!  Should be another fun weekend of family time.

What your wine(s)/love(s)?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Workout Wednesday - Half Training

This week is week 4 of my half marathon training plan, so I thought it would be a good time to check in and talk about how it's going as I will be 1/3 of the way through after this week!  Which is exciting as that means the trip is just around the corner!  Super duper excited to see Amber, Lauren, and Leigh.  I think our little group is going to have a blast in Victoria, BC.  I can already tell we will travel well as a group.  Which is so important.  There are just some people you travel well with, and I know these 3 will fall into that category.  I mean, I spent 5+ days with Amber last year and we never got on each other's nerves once - seriously, I am not exaggerating.  That's saying something! 

Anyways, back to the training.  This training cycle is VASTLY different from other training cycles.  How so?  Time for a bullet point list...

  • Instead of running 4-5 times/week, I run 3 times/week.  Each run has a focus:  tempo/pick ups, hills, and long distance runs.  I am still getting in as much, if not more, miles that I would if I was runnign 4-5 times/week as the runs as my week day runs are 6-8 miles and the weekend run is 8-12 miles. 
  • In the past, I ONLY ran.  This time, I bike twice a week and am  starting this week, I am going to incorporate strength training.
  • Instead of doing every single run alone, I run with my run club.  I don't always run with someone as sometimes I am going slower than those around me, etc, but I always have company at some point during the run.
  • I'm sort of winging it when it comes to the long run on Saturday.  In the past I followed Hal Higdon's plans, but this time around, I am running 10 miles each week and that will start to increase as I get closer to the race day, with my longest run being 12 miles.
I am such a creature of habit, so it's been interesting to switch things up SO much.  I have been a bit nervous lately as I have had some not-so-great runs, but I am doing my best and trusting the coaches. 

Will I make my sub-2 hour goal?  Time will tell.  In the event I don't make my goal, I will go back to the drawing board.  The good thing about half marathons is that there are plenty to choose from so I can always find another race in the late fall or spring. 

Oh and while we are on the subject of races, I'm about 99% sure I will do another marathon next year...  So much for the 'I am never doing another marathon' comments I have made for the last year...  Now I just need to pick a marathon!  :)

Are you training for any races?  Besides the half in Victoria, I am doing a 10 mile race in late September, which I will treat as a training run.  I'm excited as Kyria might come to Minneapolis and do this with me, and Raquelita of Historiadora on the Run is definitely doing it, so I'll get to meet 2 bloggers! 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Looking Forward

It's time for another looking forward post!!

Today my brother is coming over to set up wireless internet and other technology related stuff.  Thank God my brother is willing to be my personal techie.  I am NOT good at dealing with technology.  He is also going to assemble the patio furniture I bought on Sunday but was not able to assemble (I tried, I really did!).  Since I am monopolizing so much of his evening, I told him to bring Julie and the boys.  I am grilling dinner and the boys will swim.  Should be a REALLY fun night!  Love that I am hosting a meal for them for the 2nd time already!!  I rely on my brother and his wife quite a bit so it's nice to be able to make them dinner to sort of pay them back for all the things they've done (and continue to do for me) over the years!

This week I am getting together with a former co-worker and his wife.  They are coming over to see my place and then we are walking somewhere to get dinner.  I love that I now live in a place where I can WALK to dinner.  I know I keep raving about where I live, but I just really, really love it.  And I love that I now live in a place that people WANT to visit. 

This month I will host Amber of Girl with the Red Hair, Amber of a Little Pink in the Cornfields, Amber of Awbviously Awmber, and Kyla!  I had to clarify which Amber since there are 3!  We definitely will need to use nicknames or something!  I've been thinking about what all I want to show them for months!  And I have been planning the menu for our Friday night dinner for months!!   It will be vegan so should be challenging/fun/interesting!

This year I will travel to Victoria, BC to run another half marathon.  I have never been to Victoria but I have heard great things so I can't wait to check it out!  Plus I will be traveling there with some awesome ladies - more on that tomorrow!

Ufda, I was an exclamation point over-user in this post, but oh well.  So much of my life requires that punctuation! 

What are you looking forward to?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Yoo hoo, over here! & Weekend Recap

Greetings and Happy Monday!  Are you curious about what I do for a living?  Do you wonder what I mean when I say I work on a bloomberg terminal all day long?

Then hop over to Amber's blog!  She does bi-weekly career feature posts, and today she is featuring me!

I had a wonderful weekend.  As much as I love going to my parents' cabin, I also love weekend at home.  Especially now that I live in a neighborhood I love!  Here are some highlights from my weekend, bullet point style!

  • Meeting a dear friend's 2-week-old baby girl and getting lots of baby holding time. 
  • Running 8 miles with my running group - not my best 8 miler as I was a bit dehydrated, but it was still good to get a training run in.
  • Hitting up a Borders going-out-of-business sale.  Did I need to buy 4 books?  No, not really.  But it's tough to resist deeply discounted books - and I had a gift card I needed to use up!
  • Having a Saturday evening to myself.  It included biking to church, reading on a bench in a park, grocery shopping, and grilling a yummy, healthy meal.  And going to bed at 9:30!  On a Saturday!  Woo hip, this girl is exciting!
  • Sleeping for 10 hours on Saturday night.  Feel a bit guilty about this, but I have been getting about 7 hours of sleep/night for weeks so I NEEDED those 10 hours of peaceful sleep.  I did NOT need the bad dream that left me feeling unsettled.  That's a topic for another post, though.
  • On Sunday morning, I went to 4 stores in 90 minutes.  3 of which were furniture/home decor stores.  Ahhh!  I do not enjoy furniture shopping.  Or shopping at all, really.  Just ask my mom.  And the search for furniture continues...  I have a couch from ikea picked out, it's just taking FOREVER for them to replenish their inventory at my store and it's not orderable...
  • Meeting up with a blogger friend (Crystal) who recently moved to St. Paul!  We met at my place, walked across the Stone Arch Bridge, and got coffee/tea at one of my favorite cafes along the river.  So fun to meet another blogger.  :)
What were the highlights of your weekend?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Seven Links

Amber tagged me to do and I am finally getting around to it!  I think most have seen the explanation of this meme, so here goes!

1.  Most Beautiful:  On Singing Another Melody

There are no pictures in this post, but it's my most beautiful post in that it eloquently captured where I was at in my life at that point.  Here is a quote that particularly sums it up: 

"I sometimes feel like that ballerina - trapped in a music box, singing the same song, spinning in circles." 

It was a post inspired by a song by Regina Spektor and in that post, I announced I was returning to Paris to celebrate my 30th birthday. 

2.  Most Popular:  Giveaway Post

This is probably cheating as giveaway posts are very popular in general, but I freaking made someone a scarf and hat!!  I look back and think - how in the heck did I have time to do that?? 

3.  Most Controversial:  The e-Reader Debate

I am not a controversial blog poster...  Or a controversial person in general...  so my most controversial post was probably  the post about the e-Reader!

4.  Most Helpful Post:  ** insert crickets**  Date Night it the Kitchen

I am really not a helpful blogger.  Sorry peeps, if you are coming here for help, you are at the wrong blog.  ;)  But I know that Becky made this recipe, so I guess it counts as helpful as she learned a new recipe as a result!

5.  A Post Who's Success Surprised You:  10 Days of Thanksgiving

I've done this post series three times now and Erin and Becky ended up doing it with me!  It was the first time that I inspired others to do a post theme!

6.  A Post You Feel Did Not Get the Attention it Deserved:  Letter to Me

Maybe this one?  I thought it would be more popular as the letter I included is something that has hit home with me. 

7.  The Post you are Most Proud of:  Why

This is the post I wrote when the Barrister and I broke up at the end of 2010.  It was difficult to write, but I am very proud of this post (and all of my relationship posts) because I opened my heart and was very honest - which made me very vulnerable.  While I was vulnerable in opening my heart, this post also showed the strength I displayed in making the decision to walk away from a relationship that I knew in my heart was not the right one for me. 

I also could have chosen this post for most beautiful and for most popular.  I have come a long way since I wrote that post in January.  It's hard to believe it was just over 6 months ago.  My, how life has changed - for the better.  For the longest time, I had this quote as the background of my computer and wondered when I would find joy:

  Well, it's been found.  I actually never thought I could be this happy as a single person, but I am actually significantly happier than I was in my past relationships.  And that is a wonderful thing.
Tell me about a post(s) you would choose for any of these 7 categories - and the url so I can read the post(s)!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wine and Love v11

Another week of Wine and Love, brought to you by the ever-fabulous Nora!

- After watching prices for months, I bought my plane ticket to Seattle for my half marathon trip.  Then days later the price dropped by $50.  Of course.  I should NOT have looked at the price again.  Sometimes ignorance is bliss, you know?
- I am working on a scarf and realized I made a mistake 2 rows back...  which means I have to take out 1,200 stitches.  1,200, people.  That is a freaking lot.  So annoyed with myself for not double checking the pattern. 

- Reclaiming my status as social butterfly.  I said no to pretty much every happy hour and most invitations for weekend plans when I was studying for the CFA.  Now that I am on a study break until December, I can fill up my calendar with fun stuff once again!  I figure I need to say yes to think now because come December, I will go back to being a recluse!
- Spending time with family at the lake cabin last week.  We all swam out to the raft together and then my mom brought margaritas out on the paddle boat.  Talk about a full service swimming experience!! 
- Getting some alone time with my grandma.  That doesn't happen very often when you have a big family like mine!
- My aunt had surgery this week and it went well.  Fingers crossed she heals swiftly. 

Your turn - what was your wine & love of the week?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Nice Ride!

That post title is not in reference to the car I drive.  It's the name of the Minneapolis Commuter Biking Program - which I have fallen in LOVE with!

Bike station located behind my condo!
 For those not familiar with this program, here is how it works.  It's meant for commuters (specifically trips that take less than 30 minutes).  You buy a membership (daily, monthly, or annually) and you then have unlimited access to stations all across Minneapolis!  When you have a month or annual membership, you insert a little key and release a bike and you then can use that bike for 30 minutes, free of charge, as long as you return it to a different station within 30 minutes. 

If you don't return it within 30 minutes, you start to get charged.  It's pretty minimal for the first 1.5 hours, but after that it adds up pretty quick.  But there is no reason to accrue charges as there are bike stations all over the place so it's very simple to find another one!  Also, there is an iPhone ap that shows me the closest stations, tells me how many bikes are available, and tells me how many docking stations are available!

It's genius, really.  I have used this SO much. 

I've biked to get groceries.
I have biked home from work.
I have biked to meet my brother for lunch.
I have biked home from happy hour (sober, of course!).

I hadn't rode a bike in AGES, so it has been fun to rediscover my love of biking.  I told Amber that I feel like a little kid again! 

I purchased an annual membership and my plan is to see how much I use it and then possibly buy a bike next summer.  Maybe.  We will see.  The thing I like about this program is that you don't have to worry about locking your bike or getting it stolen or maintenance.

As soon as I started utilitizing this program, Amber gently prodded me made me get a helmet.  I feel less cute in one, but oh well!  I am riding in traffic, so safely comes first! 

Also, now that I have my membership activated, it will track information such as how far I have gone and how much gas I am saving by biking.  I just got my membership recently, so my stats are low, but I imagine they will be high by the time fall rolls around!  I will probably share my total when the program wraps up in October.   Here are my stats thus far!

Pretty cool, huh? 

This commuting bike moment is sweeping the nation!  I believe it originated in France as I remember Paris has a velib system when I was there in 2008.  I am thrilled that Minneapolis has this program available.  It most definitely cuts down on the amount of driving I do!

Do you like to bike?  Does your city have a program like this?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Alone v. Lonely

The week before I moved, I had an unbooked evening and was in dire need of a break from packing so I decided to take in a movie.  I had asked a couple of girlfriends if they were available - they weren't, but I decided to go anyways!

I saw the movie, "Midnight in Paris".  I really, really liked it.  It's a Woody Allen film so it is a bit quirky but I definitely enjoyed it.  When the opening scene came on the screen, without thinking, my hand went to my heart and I audibly gasped!  Seeing the sights of Paris made me grin ear-to-ear!  They showed so many places that I walked by or visited.  I felt like an insider when I recognized the interior of a museum  they visited (l'Orangerie) as well as various street corners and cafes.  It definitely made my heart ache a bit for Paris, but I know I will be back there again!

I really enjoy going to movies by myself.  Sure, it's nice to have company so you could discuss the movie afterwards.  But seeing a movie alone doesn't take away from the experience.  I've had conversations with other people about seeing movies alone and I am always surprised when people tell me that they wouldn't go to a movie alone. 

I guess at this point of my life, there aren't many things I wouldn't do alone.  I mean, I went to Paris by myself so clearly, I am really comfortable being alone.  The way I see it, if I wait until I have someone to go to a movie with or go to Paris with, I could be waiting forever.  I'd rather do these things alone than not at all!

It's interesting because it seems like some people confuse being alone with being lonely.  I won't say that I am never lonely - I was extremely lonely this spring as I spent hour upon hour at my dining room table, studying away.  But in general, I really don't feel lonely and I am proud of the fact that I will pretty much do anything by myself, whether it's going to a movie, eating dinner, or traveling to another country.

How do you feel about being alone?  Are you comfortable going to movies, dining, or traveling alone?  I think that as we age, we become more comfortable with being alone - at least that has been my experience.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Music, Books, Miles, and Looks of July


Best Thing I Never Had by Beyonce:  This song goes out to all the guys I dated and *thought* were perfect for me...  One benefit of aging is that we see relationship for what they were - not for what we wanted them to be.  I wish the men I dated the best in their lives, but I have to say that they all fall into the "best thing I never had" category.  Well said, Beyonce, well said.  But by the way, Beyonce, I know you are proud of your body, but you didn't need to sing the first half of the song in your lingerie.  And I am pretty sure no one wears lingerie like that under their wedding gowns.  I'm just saying.

Been a Long Day by Rosi Golan:  Thanks to Pandora, I discovered this AH-mazing artist.  Her voice is amazing.  For those who watch Brothers & Sisters, you might recognize this song as one of the episodes ended with this song this season.  I'd love to see this artist live.

Knee Deep by Zac Brown Band:  I am not a big country person, but this song screams summer!  It has such a great perfect toe-tapping beat.  The chorus begs for some hand clapping in my opinion.  I bet this band would be fun to see live, too.

This was a solid month for me.  I ran 76 miles and biked 46 miles.  I have started to bike twice a week in the hopes that the cross training will help my running!  The great thing about those 76 miles is that they were all purposeful work outs, meaning they were either hills, tempo, or long runs.  Before I joined this running club, I did a lot of what I call "junk miles" where I just went out and ran - which is fine, but not as effective as actually focusing on something during your workout.


In the Long Run by Jim Axelrod -  This is a running memoir about a CBS News correspondent who decides to try to beat his father's marathon time (of around 3:30) - even though he hasn't really ever been a runner.  While this is a running memoir, it's also full of life lessons that Axelrod learns.  I'd recommend it, especially to any novice runners who are looking for inspiration.  It was emotional to read about the challenges of training as well as his race recap as it brought back memories of my Portland marathon.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson - Our blogger book club (which is hosted by The Many Thoughts of a Reader and is open to anyone who is interested) read this book for our July book club.  I thought it was so charming and entertaining.  It's about a retired British Major and the trials and tribulations of living in a small town amidst small-minded people.  Definitely a great read!

Wishing for Snow by Minrose Gwin - I reviewed this book last week (post can be found here).  It's a heavy read and not something I would recommend...

The Last Time I Saw Paris by Elizabeth Adler - This was a light, borderline smutty read but was pretty entertaining.  I did get annoyed with the main character, though.  I read books like this and am reminded why I don't read chick lit anymore.  I don't like how they tend to feature the cowardly woman who won't stand up for themselves...  But besides those annoyances, it was fun to read about her travels through the French countryside!


My favorite outfit that I wore this month was this one.  Please ignore my still-wet hair.  I like how the neckline sort of drapes and the pattern is soft and feminine.  And I heart white pants, even though they are not super flattering.

A look I am coveting is this one.

I actually bought the shirt and skirt( (I resisted the jacket since I own 17 already).  Unfortunately the skirt & shirt didn't fit (too big) so I am on a mission to return them.  The top is extremely tent-ish.  Like I fear people will think I am hiding a baby bump or something (yes, I am paranoid about people thinking I am pregnant, but that's a whole other post).