Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekend Mash-up

I hope you all have a great weekend!  In two words, mine was plan-free and productive.  Just what I needed after a string of busy weekends.  I feel a bit discombobulated today, so here's a dashed recap of the thoughts & happenings of my weekend.

- I ran 10 miles, mostly in the rain, on Saturday.  Running in the rain isn't pleasant, but I didn't let it hold me back.  It went fairly well, but I was definitely ready to be done!  The garmin of the girl I was running with hit the 10 mile mark .12 miles before mine did...  I think that is a pretty big difference as we ran side-by-side the whole time...  I hope my garmin isn't on its last leg...

- I've gotten to the point where I just accept that my weekends are busy and sort of exhausting.  I've accepted that I will dash from running to studying to church to making dinner to whatever else I need to do each weekend.  I did well on the section assessments I took this past weekend, so I am feeling good about my progress.  Just under 5 weeks until test day! 

- I've also accepted the fact that I probably won't sleep well until after the CFA.  Like this weekend I was awake at 4:30 on Saturday even though my alarm wasn't going off until 5:45.  I feel relatively calm about the CFA stuff, but I think I'm more stressed than I think I am, and it's manifesting itself in my inability to sleep deeply and for as many hours as I'd like.

- Despite the weekend full of studying, I made 2 recipes this weekend:  a GF/DF Tuna Casserole recipe (I know that will disgust many/most of you, but it's comfort food for me), and Pasta Puttanesca! Oh yum, the puttanesca turned out awesome.  I rarely make pasta sauces from scratch, but really need to more often as they are so easy and SO delicious!  I'm looking forward to eating the leftovers this week.  

- Today would have been my paternal Grandfather's Birthday.  He passed 3+ years ago, and I miss him so much.  I might need to eat some ice cream for him today.  He was all about ice cream and thought you were never too full for a scoop.

How was your weekend?  What's on your mind today?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Dairy Free Friday

Happy Friday!  I hope you all had a wonderful week!

Today I'm sharing my favorite recipe that I've made so far in 2012 - which happens to be both gluten and dairy free!  I found it on the blog, For the Love of Cooking.  It's my new go-to blog as she posts easy, healthy recipes.  This recipe is called Tuscan Chicken with White Beans and Spinach.  I like it because it requires very few ingredients (most of which you will have on hand), it's made in one pot, and it's a quick recipe (takes about 30 minutes from start to finish).

  • 4 slices of lean bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 2 tsp olive oil (divided)
  • 5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of any fat
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • Garlic powder, to taste
  • Dried basil, to taste
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 15 oz can of white beans, rinsed & drained
  • 2 cups of baby spinach
My modifications:
  • I omitted the bacon because I knew I'd never use up a whole package of bacon. Leaving it out didn't impact the dish, in my opinion
  • I liked the bean/tomato part of the dish so much, I doubled the onion, tomatoes, and white beans so there would be more of the bean mixture.  
Here is the recipe in pictures!

Season the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried basil.  Brown the chicken thighs on medium high in 1 T of Olive Oil.  If you are vegetarian, I think it would work well to sub in your 'fake sausage' or whatever that stuff is called!

Once the chicken is brown, remove from pan, set aside, and cover with foil.  Reduce heat to medium, add additional T of Olive Oil.  Saute the onions for 4-5 minutes, until softened.  Then add the garlic and saute for another minute.

Add the tomatoes, white beans, dried basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Cook for 4-5 minutes until mixture is hot.

Add the spinach, heat until it cooked down, about 1-2 minutes.

Return chicken/juices to pan. 

It's so easy and SO good.  And relatively healthy (especially if you made it with chicken breasts instead of thighs). 

Have you made any good, new recipes lately?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

When I was a Child - Spring Edition

Well, it's time for the 4th and final installment of my "When I was a Child" post series.  It's been really fun to reflect back on my childhood memories.  I feel very fortunate to have so many wonderful memories!

Admittedly, spring has never been my favorite season, even as a child.  We have had a nice spring this year (for the most part) but we rarely get a true spring in Minnesota/North Dakota.  Despite our short/non-existent springs, I still have good memories, such as...

  • Begging my dad to get our bikes out of storage when the weather turned nicer, and then riding up and down our long driveway!
  • Celebrating Easter - from the Easter dresses/bonnets to Easter baskets to Easter mass and the dinner that followed - I loved it all!  
  • Lilacs and Tulips blooming.  I remember being amazed by the fact that those tulips would just pop up on their own (and I'm still amazed by this).  We had a big lilac tree in our backyard and we'd usually bring in a bouquet to place in a vase.  I loved the smell of fresh lilac flowers!
  • Those rare spring days when it was actually warm enough to wear shorts!
  • Memorial Weekends spent at the lake.  The lake season always kicked off on Memorial Day weekend - and while my younger sister was usually the only one brave enough to get in the water (burr!), it was still fun being back by the lake.  
  • Piano recital time!  I don't have the best memories of being in piano recitals (I thought they were stressful), but I loved having piano recitals when I taught piano in high school.  I was always so proud of how my students did. 
Did you like Spring as a child?  Do you like the season now?  If our spring weather was always like it's been this year, I would like this season way more!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Review and Reward

I hit a major milestone on Saturday. 4 months of studying, thousands of pages of reading, and nearly 800 pages of notes/problems later, I finished the CFA materials.  It's kind of surreal because while I feel like I've been studying so hard for so long, the time has sort of flown by.

The test is 6 weeks from this past Saturday so I'll have 6 weeks to review- 1 more week than I had last year.  Which is good because there is SO MUCH INFORMATION to cram into my little brain.  I am really glad I have the experience of last year to reflect upon - I'm much calmer about it this year.  It all came together last year, I know it will come together this year... somehow.

There are 18 sections, broken down into 64 readings, further broken down into countless learning objectives, so I have my work cut out for me. I'll spend the first 3 weeks doing practice questions, section by section, then I'll spend the last 3 weeks doing practice exams.

I've honestly never worked so hard for anything in my life.  I mean, it's significantly harder than it was to work full-time and get my MBA part-time in the evenings.  But hopefully all of this hard work pays off and I pass - I will be devastated if I don't. (My family/friends will probably be devastated too because they are probably sick of me talking about the CFA  I don't blame them!)

Given how hard I have been working, I decided I needed to reward myself when this is all said and done.  So I have decided that once I pass the 3rd and final exam (I'm on the 2nd exam), I will reward myself with a trip to France!!  My plan is to run the Paris marathon and then make a 10-14 day trip out of it.  If I pass the last 2 levels on my first attempt, I will go to Paris in April of 2014!

It feels really good to have something exciting to work towards.  This whole process has not been easy, and I've gotten discouraged a lot along the way.  So on tough days when I am anxious over how I'll pack this all in my brain, I take my eyes off the stack of books/notes, and look at this.

Between that reward trip, and the career advancement benefit of being a CFA Charterholder, I know it will be worth all of this hard work and dedication.

What is the hardest thing you've worked towards?  Did you reward yourself at the end?  Before this experience, grad school was the hardest thing I worked towards and I rewarded myself with a trip to NY to visit friends.  I am all about trips as a reward!

Friday, April 20, 2012

French Friday: Movies set in France

It's been awhile since I have done a French Friday post!  For other Francophiles out there, you can find the other FF posts here.

It's been over a year since my Paris trip, and my heart truly aches for Paris.  I got a bit of a fix by reading Amy's posts while she was there this spring, and am anxiously awaiting Jeanie's posts about Paris when she returns from her trip in May!  In addition to living vicariously through the travels of other, I get my Paris fix by watching films set in France.  There are SO many good ones to choose from, but here are some of my favorites!

Midnight in Paris - This movie came out last year so is a recent release.  It is a Woody Allen film, so it is quirky, but I loved it.  I thought they did a fabulous job of showcasing the city of Paris, and I adore Owen Wilson, so I really enjoyed this movie.  When the opening scene came on, I actually put my hand on my heart because the scenes they were showing of Paris were so stunning and brought back memories of my time in Paris.

French Kiss - I have always been a Meg Ryan fan, so I really loved this movie.  Plus Kevin Kline's character is SO sexy.  Hello, wonderful, charming accent.  I loved the way he said his name, Luc Teyssier.  I think this one has been broadly seen since it came out in the 90s, so I won't explain the plot, but it's one of my favorites - and one I should really own.

An American in Paris - This is a musical from 1951 which features Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron.  There is lots of singing and dancing, and it's just a really sweet movie.  I watched it back before my first trip to Paris, and the title of the film inspired the title of my French Travel blog.

Before Sunset - This is actually the sequel to the film, Before Sunrise.  So you need to watch that first to appreciate/understand Before Sunset.  In Before Sunset, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reunite in Paris, 9 years after spending a night together in Amsterdam.  They spend most of the movie walking around Paris, talking about what has happened in their lives over the last 9 years.  The conversations are amazing and I totally relate to Delpy's character.  I feel like I could have written the bulk of the script, honestly.

Paris, je t'aime - Last, but not least, is the film Paris, je t'aime.  It's a collection of vignettes about the city of Paris, and it's such a wonderful film.  In fact, I am going to close with a clip from this film.  It is sort of long, but I love it - especially the last 60 seconds.  And in the event that you don't want to watch, I've transcribed the end of the clip, as the character's monologue really resonated with me.
"Sitting there, alone in a foreign country, far from my job and everyone I know, a feeling came over me.  It was like remembering something I’d never known before or had always been waiting for, but I didn’t know what.  Maybe it was something I’d forgotten or something I’ve been missing all my life.  All I can say is that I felt, at the same time, joy and sadness.  But not too much sadness, because I felt alive.  Yes, alive.  That was the moment I fell in love with Paris.  And I felt Paris fall in love with me."

Do you seek out movies set in a certain location?  Are there any films set in France that you would recommend?  I just requested Funny Face from the library and am excited to check it out!

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Lately, Leigh has been posting her confessions each week, so I thought I'd play along this week!

  • I have lived in my condo for nearly 10 months and I have yet to hang a single picture on the walls of my living room.  I feel like the downtown view distracts people from noticing, though.  
  • I don't like Toms.  I think their company mission of donating a pair of shoes for every pair purchased is awesome, but they are just not my style.  I know I am in the minority on this.  
  • I also don't like sweet potatoes, regardless of how they are prepared (mashed, cut up & roasted, fries, baked).  They are just too sweet for me - I am more of a savory person.
  • I have zero interest in dating these days.  My last experience with dating was not a positive experience and I have no desire to put myself back out there right now.  I am hoping my attitude about dating changes after the CFA.   
  • Someone was talking about a 5 hour flight they recently took and my thought was - that sounds nice.  I want a vacation so badly, even the thought of a long flight sounds appealing.  My vacation in July can not come fast enough!
 Any confessions you'd like to share?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What I've Learned from Running

Lately, it seems like I am encountering people from different areas of my life who are starting to get into running and are training for races.

It's made me think back on everything I've learned about running.  I trained for my first 5k back in 2005, and went on to run my first 1/2 marathon in June of 2006, and my first full in October of 2006.  In the last 6-7 years of running, I've learned a lot - most through trial and error, and from reading Hal Higdon's book about how to train for a marathon (which I still use as a reference). 

Here are some of the things I've learned over the years:
  • Cotton is your enemy and body glide is your friend.  I used to wear cotton socks and sports bras.  All I will say is - ouch.  When I was training for my 2006 marathon, I had horrible chafing - except I didn't know what it was.  I met this guy at a running store (who turned out to be a total a-hole), but one good thing that came of it was that he told me about body glide.  And by the way, the guys in my office had a FIELD DAY when I innocently came to work the next day and told them I had learned all about body glide from my date.  Trust me, it was a G-rated date, and body glide sounds more, ahem, scandalous than it really is - it's basically a stick of vaseline.  And it's something every runner should own and apply liberally, in my opinion!  That guy also taught me to buy socks made from synthetic material. 
  • Follow a training plan.  Besides my 5k, I've never made up my own training plan.  Unless you are at an advanced level, there is no reason not to rely on the great training plans out there, from Hal Hidgon, to Jeff Galloway, there are so many options to choose from.  I always hung the training plan grid in my cube at work for visible motivation.  These days, I have relinquished control and I just rely on whatever my coaches have in mind each week.  I was totally skeptical last year, but am a full believer in their approach to training now, and I have let go of needing to know exactly what I will be doing every week for the 18 weeks of marathon training.
  • Pickles are never a good pre-run snack.  This is a lesson I have had to learn multiple times.  I have definitely learned what my body can and can't handle before a run.  Pickles?  Not a good idea. At all! Take my word on this one.  My go to snack is toast with peanut butter - that's also my pre-long run and pre-race meal.  I also drink coffee before my long run, but I can not have orange juice or anything fruity/acidic (not even jam on my toast).   
  • Hydration is really important.  Another tip I picked up from that running store guy was that if you are running for more than an hour, you most likely need to drink something besides water as you need something to replace the electrolytes you are burning.  I was struggling with horrible nausea when I trained for my first marathon until I learned about the importance of gatorade.  I don't follow that as closely anymore because I think my body is more efficient, so unless it's really hot, I only carry gatorade if I am running for more than 90 minutes.
  • It's so mental.  I can't over-emphasize this enough.  For me, it's about 80% mental, 20% physical.  Yes, you have to be in shape, but more than anything your mind has to be in shape.  The good thing is that the discipline I've developed, thanks to running, has spilled over to other areas of my life - like CFA studying. 
The last thing I will say is that while I get runners highs, for the most part, my satisfaction comes from finishing a hard workout or a race, and the camaraderie I have with other runners.  I think you have to stick with it and get to a certain level of fitness before it becomes enjoyable, but that time will come if you are willing to put up with some discomfort along the way.

What lessons have you learned along the way while pursuing a physical activity or sport?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mid-Month Money Manifesto - Month 4

Month 4:  On Being a Landlord

One of the biggest changes over the last year was my decision to move out of the condo I own (well, technically I do not own anything because the mortgage is higher than the value of the home.  So I own a mortgage).  For those who are newer to my blog, I had been pretty miserable in my suburban condo for quite awhile and last year when I got back from Paris, I had an epiphany and realized that I could choose to continue to live in a home I didn't like or I could choose a different path.

I chose a different path and decided to rent out my condo and rent a place downtown.  Buying a place was not an option as I did not have enough money for the down payment.

I definitely took a more unconventional approach to my living situation, but it has worked.  I know there are people out there who view my approach as moving backwards in life, but I don't view it that way.  I am so much happier downtown, and while my housing expense has increased, it's been partially offset by a decrease in some expenses.  Like going from buying gas once a week to once a month, no longer needing a bus pass or a gym membership (my condo has a really nice gym), and paying $70/month less for cable/internet (which makes no sense to me but I will not complain!).

I do feel extremely fortunate to have a wonderful tenant who pays his rent on time (or early most months).  He takes great care of the place and said he plans to stay there until he buys a home. I hope and pray that he stays in my condo for years!

Being a landlord has not been too bad, but it's not the easiest thing either.  I had to figure out how to draft a lease agreement, run credit/background checks, and apply for a rental license.  I did all of that in the weeks leading up to taking my 1st CFA exam when I was already stressed to the max.  Filing my taxes was way more complicated/complex and I had stomach aches until I filed them as I was worried about how my taxes might be impacted (it ended up having very little impact, thank God, as I had all those medical bills to pay and could not handle a big tax payment on top of that).  And I have the added worry of knowing that some day this tenant will move out and I'll have to start all over and maybe the next tenant won't pay so promptly or won't take good care of the place...

But in the end, it's worth the stress - because I am so much happier in my new home and can't imagine living anywhere else.  Some day I will buy again, maybe in 2-3 years, but for now, I am content with renting.   I look forward to the day when I will be able to sell my condo and close the door on that bad decision, but in the mean time - renting it out is the right thing for me to do.  Financially speaking - I'd prefer to own the home I live in as renting is sort of like treading water, to some extent.  Right now I want to buy in the development  I live in, but I want to give myself 2-3 years to make sure this is truely the lifestyle I want in the long run.

But this whole renting out my condo and renting a condo?  It's definitely been a step forward in my life - not backwards.

Do you own the home you live in?  If so, are you happy you made the purchase or do you wish you had waited to buy.  If you rent, do you wish you had bought or have plans to buy?  I unfortunately bought at the peak of the market, right before it burst. It's a decision I completely regret, but I have learned a lot in the process, and I will be a much smarter buyer next time around.  I am hoping to be in the position to sell my condo in 5 years as I should have some equity at that point.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Blog Swap: Summer State of Mind

Greetings and Happy Friday readers!  I don't know about you, but it seems like SO many people have been taking spring break trips this year. 'Tis the season for vacations, I guess, but if you are like Nora and I, you might not be able to get away this spring.  Our solution?  Escaping through reading!  I'm over on her blog sharing some books that help me escape every day life, and she's got a great set of books picked out (I read 2 and agree they are definitely worthy spring break/summer reads).

Without further ado, here's Nora!

The last few weeks there have been lots of kids running around the neighborhood as the various school districts observe spring break. I’ve always hated the fact that as an adult there is no spring break that you are forced to take and after chatting with Lisa, we decided that we’d do another Blog Book Swap. The theme this time around gets us in the mood for spring/summer and helps heal the fact that we are no longer granted an easy-peasy Spring Vacation. You can see what books Lisa recommends on my blog; I’ve read one of them and it really is an amazing book! 

The shortlist of books that I have enjoyed reading and either include summer/spring or are books that I tend to gravitate towards during the spring and summer for fun reading:  

  • Summer Sisters, by Judy Blume. My college BFF gave me this book before we graduated; I devoured it quickly. This is classic Blume but for adults: she focuses on friendship, love, past and present, and how we move on with our lives after big, life-changing events. It’s definitely a good book to read at a cafĂ©, pool or by the beach.

  • Jemima J, by Jane Green. I know that Green is women’s fiction (or chick lit) but for some reason I have enjoyed most of her books. Green takes you on a voyage with a woman who considers herself to be an Ugly Duckling and does all that she can to lose weight and become the woman she wants to be. Once she’s there she makes some startling realizations about the skinny world, the men who fawn over her and her true friends.

  • Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman. Not sure if it’s the fact that this book takes place in sunny, Georgia or that there are lots of parties and social get togethers, but this makes me want to take a road trip, stop at every random dive restaurant just so that I could stick my feet in the sand at the end of the trip. And I would love to have some really awesome outdoor parties with a bunch of friends, too.

  • The Sookie Stackhouse books. I know, I know, vampires and werewolves and crazy stuff going on in the books but they scream summer reading to me. They are light, entertaining, a guilty pleasure and even if it gets hot in the upper MidWest, it’s not nearly as awful as the heat Sookie experiences in Louisiana. It probably helps that for the most part the books come out in the summer so I spend a whole weekend (or two) devouring the books by the pool or on my patio.
What’s one of your favorite books that takes place during the spring/summer or that you enjoy reading near a pool?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Looking Forward

It's been awhile since I did one of these "Looking Forward" posts.  And right now, looking forward is sort of what is getting me through the stress of studying!

Today I am looking forward to running with my running group and then volunteering with the group at "Feed My Starving Children."  I've done this the last 2 years so am excited to do it again.  You assemble dehydrated food packets (which contain rice and other nutritional supplement) which are sent to children all over the world.  This organization does a good job of making it fun to assemble these food packets, so it's definitely a fun way to give back.

This week I am looking forward hosting a small dinner party on Saturday night.  My first boss from my very first job (back in 2003) with my current company is coming over (I think, he might have to travel for work...), as well as another former co-worker.  I love that we've all kept in touch through the years.  They are both bringing their significant others, and we are going to grill. I'll be using my charcoal grill for the first time, but I think the guys will be manning the grill and the girls will drink wine in my kitchen (at least that is how I envision things playing out)!  Should be a really fun night!

This month I am looking forward to another girl's night get together with my two close friends that live here in Minneapolis.  We have started to get together on a monthly basis now, and it's always one of my favorite nights of the month.  I definitely am very thankful for the wonderful friends I have in my life!

This year I am looking forward to seeing my sister Abby and her husband Ryan when they are at my parents' lake home in July.  Their vacation is close to my trip for Amber's wedding, but I am trying to finagle the time off so I can spend some days with them!  That would mean taking 7 days off from work!  Which would be my longest vacation since 2008!!  I think I can swing it, though, as that week of the 4th of July is very very quiet at work, so I don't think I'd miss much. I am really hoping I can make this happen!

What are you looking forward to these days?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Recap

Happy Monday!  I hope you all have a great weekend.  Mine was a bit of a whirlwind, but a great weekend, nonetheless.  I was at my parents lake place just under 24 hours, so it was a quick trip, but it was just what I needed.  I'll let the photos do the talking!

I hadn't seen baby Charlie for 3 months and my gosh, he has changed!  I love his curly red hair!!  He does this awesome worm/army crawl move to get around.  It's adorable.

This is the view I woke up to on Sunday morning.  Talk about peaceful!!

Here I am with my nephews, James and Charlie.  Charlie had just woken up from a nap so was not really into picture taking!

It was really quiet when we were getting dinner ready and us adults were like - 'uh oh, what are the boys up to now?' (quiet is usually not a good thing).  Turns out they were quiet because they were on the couch reading.  This makes their book-loving aunt VERY happy!!

After dinner, Matthew snuggled up on the couch with me for a bit and James and Andrew jumped in for a self-portrait photo.

And soon it was time to say good-bye to this place...  But I will be back in just a month as I have my nephew James's first communion in May.  I can't wait to return then, and many weekends this summer.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  I am definitely starting my week a bit more calm. The CFA exam is just under 8 weeks away, so I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  Those brief 24 hours gave me a glimpse of what life will be like again once the CFA is behind me.  I can't wait!

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Day of Rest

Good Morning and happy Friday to you all.  It's hard to believe that Easter is this weekend!  Since I am a week ahead of my study schedule, I decided to take Sunday off from studying and will spend it at my parents' lake cabin. I am SO excited to see my family - and I am especially excited to enjoy my 'day of rest' on Sunday.  I typically spend 6 hours each Saturday and Sunday studying, so to have a full day off without studying will be amazing!  At the same time, it makes me feel a little anxious and guilty to take a day off, but I know it will be good for me to take a break.

I'll be heading to my parents' lake home on Saturday night after I wrap up a day of studying.  I'll get to see 2 of my 4 siblings and 4 of my 5 nephews!  I haven't seen 2 of these nephews since New Years, so I am long over due for some time with them!

I am planning on attending the Easter Vigil on Saturday night with my mom - it's one of my favorite masses of the year.  Sunday we'll have Easter Dinner together and then I'll head back to Minneapolis in the afternoon.  It will be a short visit, but it's better than no visit at all.

For those of you who celebrate Easter, I hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend!  I gave up candy for lent so am looking forward to indulging in some Reese's peanut butter cups.  Yum.  They are my favorite!

What are your plans for the weekend?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Happy Wednesday!  We are almost half way through the week!  Woo hip!  I'm borrowing this "currently" format that other bloggers use to fill you in on what I'm up to/what's on my mind...


- Very thankful that I have not had a sinus infection since my surgery.  Phew.  Sure feels awesome to feel healthy.  I still use my netipot every night as a precaution, but that's a pretty easy bedtime ritual.

- Growing my hair out for Locks of Love.  It's actually long enough to donate now, but I am waiting until October so I can a) wear my hair up at Nora's wedding, and b) put my hair back in a ponytail for the marathon.  After the marathon, though, adios long hair!  Can't wait to chop it off (I have no attachment to my hair).

- Waiting for the work reorg to be announced.  I've known changes were coming for a month now, but am not sure what those changes are or what they will mean for me.  I'm not as pessimistic about the potential changes as I was initially, but I still am anxious and just want to know what the future holds.

- Eating about a jar of pickles a week.  No joke.  The more I run, the more pickles I tend to eat.  I think I need to have a friend with a costco membership buy me a ginormous jar.  I have low blood pressure, so I am not worried about my sodium intake.  And really, there are worse things to eat in massive quantities!

- Day dreaming about my trip our West for Amber's wedding in July.  That trip cannot come fast enough!  I can't wait to see Amber and meet both Kelly and Anais for the first time after being blog friends for years!  Besides Memorial Day and the potential day I will take off in May to study for the CFA, I have no days off planned...  so I am REALLY ready for some time off in July!

- Realizing that while I really wish I could meet a great guy (and hope I do some day), in some ways, being single is sort of simpler than being in a relationship. So I am trying to appreciate the benefits of being single instead of thinking about what I am missing out on...

- Devouring books like it's my job.  Reading for pleasure keeps me sane.  And there are no good shows on these days anyways (what is up with Parenthood having their season finale in like February?).

- Loving the runs with my run club.  I am so glad I took a chance and joined this club last year.  I've made some great friends and am a stronger runner because of the coaches.

- Thinking about taking the month of May off from planning any social engagements.  I'll start reviewing in late April and when I review for the CFA exam, it sort of sucks the life out of me, as my studying will increase to 20+ hours/week so it might be in my best interest (and the best interest of my friends) for me to just avoid being social for the month.

What's currently happening in your life/on your mind these days?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Music, Books, Miles, and Looks of March


Pachelbel meets U2 by Jon Schmidt and Steve Sharp Nelson - Pandora introduced me to this gem of an instrumental song.  As the song title implies, it's Canon in D meets With or Without You.  I think it's beautiful and genius and when I listen to this song, it calms me down, which is pretty important these days as I am quite stressy.

I had another strong reading month, on top of completing 72 hours of studying.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer - I really struggled through this book and would not have kept with it if I wasn't reading it for a book club.  It's about a boy struggling to come to terms with his father's death on 9/11.  The last 100 pages were good, but it was just a little bit too 'weird' for me I guess you could say.  I am glad I stuck with it, but it's not something I'd recommend. I do want to check out the movie, though.

The Violets of March by Sarah Jio - This is another book that I read for a different book club.  I really enjoyed it!  It's about a woman who is struggling through the aftermath of a divorce.  She travels to Bainbridge Island to visit her aunt.  She stumbles upon a diary and finds out all kinds of family secrets.  This is a fast, engaging page turner.  I can't wait to read her next book, The Bungalow.

Bond Girl by Erin Duffy - This was a total chick lit book. I usually avoid these kind of books because the mindless characters make me want to throw the book across the room.  But this book is about a girl working in the same industry as me.  It was fun to read, but the character definitely made some horrifically bad decisions - mostly in regards to dating.  Not something I'd recommend unless you really like chick lit.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - Many people on twitter had raved about this book, so I had to check it out.  It did not disappoint!  It is young adult, but I think any adult would enjoy reading it.  As I said on goodreads, the conversations between the main characters sort of reminded me of the dialogue on Gilmore Girls. Odd connection, I know. But it's that fast paced,  intellectual without being pretentious kind of dialogue that I love!

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson - I think I saw this book on a Barnes and Noble best of 2011 book list.  It's not my typical genre as it's sort of a mystery/thriller type of book, but I decided to check it out anyways.  It's about a woman suffering from amnesia - every day she wakes up not knowing who she is.  Memories begin to re-surface, so she begins to keep a journal of these memories.  I ended up staying up until 11 pm on a week night to finish this book as I could not put it down.  It's disturbing, but a great book.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick - This is technically children's literature - but it's a huge 500 page book so I felt like it qualified to make the list of books I read.  There are many pages of beautiful illustrations, so it's a very fast read, but, in a word, it's delightful.  It's about a little boy who lives in a train station in Paris.  The movie Hugo was based upon this book, so I wanted to read the book before watching the movie.  I've heard great things about the movie and can't wait to check it out!

6 books.  That's a lot.  But as I've said before, my free time is split between running and reading.  There's not much tv or movie watching happening in my house these days!

This was a good mileage month with me.  Running club has resumed, so I usually do one week night work out and the long run on Saturday mornings.  It's so good to be back running with this group!  I logged about 75 miles this month which is way more than I have ran any of the prior months.  I expect my mileage to stay around this point until after the CFA.

I also biked 26 miles, 11.25 of which were on a bike I am borrowing from a co-worker's husband who restores bikes.  I'm thinking about buying a road bike so I can bike to and from bike club on week nights.  Haven't made a decision yet, but I think it would be nice to own my own bike (I'll still use the nice ride biking sharing program, though).

For a change, I actually liked some of the outfits I wore this month!

Nothing too exciting about this, I just like the clean look. The shirt is from J. Crew, pants are from banana, and cardigan is from Target.  I've had the J Crew shirt since 2007!  Goes to show that it's worth it spend money on classic, higher quality clothing as they last for a long time.

Of course I had to include some stripes.  I wore this outfit to a friend's baby shower. 

This is my favorite outfit of the month - and yes, that is a dressing room photo.  I am not used to wearing fitted pants so had to send this photo to Nora and Amber to get their opinion.  They both liked it, so I went with it.  And I am glad I did!  It's definitely my new favorite outfit!

72 hours of studying... 75 miles of running...  It's no wonder this month was a blur that has left me exhausted.  2 more months and then CFA studying is behind me, though - can't wait!  :)