Thursday, November 29, 2012

Let's talk running

Or actually, let's not talk about running, as it's a rather sore topic. Training, injuries, and pain, oh my!

Instead, let's talk about running clothes. Sporty, colorful, and just plain stylish, I love looking at running clothes! Who doesn't feel tall and sleek when they slip on a cute tank top and shorts? Cute running clothes make me look faster than I really am. Too bad they can't actually make me faster! Now that would be some awesome clothes! In the past two weeks I have gotten not one but three new items and I have been loving all three of them! Yay!

First off: a new pair of running tights. I had a lovely pair from last year that I was wearing this year. They fit great, they were super cute (black with lime green!), and I fully intended to wear them this whole winter. But then one cold, dark morning run I tripped and fell (on the same knee and spot as last time) and ripped a hole in them. So I sewed it up but the fabric is weak and ripping more. So I did what had to be done and bought an (almost) identical pair. This is the pair I bought. They fit exactly the same as UnderArmour's Print Blocked Tight. Except they're not as cool looking. And actually, my boring black tights are an inch longer than last years tights! So they come all the way down the the top of my socks. No more cold ankles! Those of you who have never run in dark windy subfreezing temperatures won't appreciate this fact. But that one inch makes all the difference between being cold and being comfortable.

My other two purchases continue this theme of warmth. My second purchase:

This skirt. The Blizzard Skirt from Athleta in ugly purple (the only color in my size. How lame is that?!). Thick and fleecy, this skirt does a great job of keeping my butt warm. Because seriously?, my butt had been freezing on runs even when the rest of me was perfectly comfortable, sweating even. But with my (ugly) purple skirt my butt is much, much warmer.

A word on sizing: I bought this skirt in an XX Small. I measure into an X Small but I'm at the low end of the range. I had read alot of the comments on the site and many of them said that they felt that the skirt ran big in the waist so I went with a size smaller than I would have normally bought. I think this was a good decision. The skirt fits me perfectly at my actual waist. This makes it higher than I wear most things but it's very comfortable and, most importantly, it doesn't ride around. I have had no problems with it staying in place at all. I wear it over my tights and my shirts and everything stays in place perfectly.

And my last purchase:

This jacket. The Pearl Izumi Infinity Soft Shell Jacket. This jacket is AH-MAZING. It's mostly windproof and yet still fairly breathable. The pink portions of the jacket are all a very soft fleece that is extremely warm and cozy. Since this jacket is considered a soft shell I was concerned that it would restrict the movement in my arms somewhat or be tight across the shoulders. Fortunately, this has not been the case at all. The fabric is extremely stretchy and I can literally move my arms and shoulders in any direction I can think of. I bought this jacket to wear over my UnderArmour ColdGear 1/4 zip and it's been perfect for that as well. It fits closely enough that I could probably wear it on it's own but I would be concerned about getting a cold draft up the bottom. With the 1/4 zip underneath, and tucked into my skirt, I never get drafts on my stomach and back.

The collar comes all the way up to my chin and does a good job keeping my neck warm. I prefer to keep it zipped down somewhat because the collar feels tight on my throat at times. But when it's really cold I can zip it all the way up and it does a good job keeping things warm. I find after a few minutes of it being up that I don't notice it anymore and have no problems with it.

The only other complaint I have with this jacket is that the thumb holes are just a touch too small. (Well, the sleeve pocket is too small for my iPhone but I pretty much expected that!). Once again my hand gets used to the size of the thumb holes but they feel tight initially. I've found that what's most comfortable is if I wear the thumb holes on my 1/4 zip, put my gloves over top and then wear the thumb holes of the jacket over my gloves. This means that if I need to take my gloves off I have to remember to unhook the thumb holes first and I'm not very good at doing that.

All in all, this jacket is perfect for what I needed it for. It's insulated and warm and does a good job blocking the wind. Justin bought the men's version (in all black of course) too and loves it as well. I think his fits him as perfectly as mine fits me!

Sometime when I wear my gear when it's light I'll get Justin to take a photo of me in it to post here. The purple and pink clash delightfully, and my blue green shoes just add to the wonder. It's warm and it's perfect. Who wants to match anyway?

Also, what all does everyone else wear on their heads for winter runs? I'm in the market for a nice warm hat the covers my entire ears, earlobes and all. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

There and back again!

Sometimes I can't get over how incredibly, amazingly handsome he is. How could any not-blind woman resist jumping him the second he walks in the room?

And we're home again! It's hard to believe it's been four and a half weeks already since we pulled up to our very own door weary but happy. Halloween, the Election, and Thanksgiving have all come and gone, and we've settled into a cozy fall routine. There are still a few things from the trip to sort out (can anyone say photos and souvenirs?) but we're loving being back in our own adorable house.

And I'm so glad to be back on here too! What did I miss while I was away?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Today was a perfect almost fall day. The weather was crisp and the house stayed cool with the windows open, Justin worked on a project and I putzed around the house. Some dishes, some laundry, some articles, some Pinterest. It was on my Pinterest board that I found this recipe. I had pinned it months ago from one of my favourite blogs and promptly forgotten about it. But today it was found again and I knew as soon as I saw it that I would be making it at once. I made a few tweaks and we were both very happy with how it turned out. Not an exact copy of the classic but I might almost like it better!

Peanut Butter Cups
adapted from Summer Harms

Peanut Butter Layer:
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 T. honey

Chocolate Layer:
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla
4 T. honey

Mix all the ingredients for the peanut butter layer well and spoon into 10 muffin cups. I used my new silicone baking cups. Place in freezer. 

While the peanut butter layer chills, put the other four ingredients in a small pan and heat just into coconut butter is melted. I used a double broiler (aka a glass bowl set on a pot of hot water) but I don't think that extra step was really necessary. 

Allow chocolate to cool slightly and then pour on top of peanut butter layer. Mine ended up being about 2 tbs of chocolate into each cup.

Place cups back into freezer for 20 minutes. Remove one and eat it. Put the rest back into the freezer until you feel like taking boxing them up. They can be stored in either the freezer or the fridge. 

Makes 10 large, beautiful peanut butter cups!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Recipe: Refrigerator Dill Pickles

I'm still fairly new to the pickle world. For the past 18 years or so I have had a strong distaste for pickles but I recently rediscovered my love for dill pickles!

I made a few changes to the original recipe. It called for kirby cucumbers. I just used two random cucumbers from my in-laws' garden. I have no idea what they were. Also, I forgot to stir them at all and they did fine.

All in all, a super easy recipe that makes fantastic sour pickles!

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

1-1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
1/4 sugar
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
3/4 teaspoon dill seeds
2 cups hot water

2 large cucumbers, sliced 1/4-inch thick
3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped


Put the first seven ingredients in a glass bowl and stir until dissolved. Cool to room temperature.

Slice cucumbers, chop dill and garlic, and place in a large bowl.

Pour brine over top and mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight/twelvish hours.

In the morning, put in mason jars. Store up to two weeks (if they last that long!).

Yield: 1 1/2 to 2 quarts.

Source: One Perfect Bite


Monday, August 6, 2012

Goodwill: July 2012

Just a small bag for goodwill this month. I forgot to take a photo before I tied it up but this bag is:
two tablecloths,
a tiny folding stool,
a coke glass,
a christmas scarf,
and a bandeau from Victoria's Secret.

(Getting rid of this last item gave me great pain but it NEVER fit right, and I only ever wore it twice in a year or two. Sad day indeed.)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pennsylvania Holiday

I spent the second week of July out in Pennsylvania at my Grandma's house with my family and had a blast! David and I had a busy little trip. We were gone five days total, and two of those were spent driving! In those three days we made it to the lake, the Corning Glass Museum and down the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. As you can see, my Grandma lives in a beautiful part of the country!

And the third week of July was spent recovering and settling in to our new routine. Second shift is quite the adjustment but I'm loving all the time I have to write.

Friday, July 20, 2012

We did it:

We bit the bullet and bought the tickets!!!

This is a long held dream for both of us and has been a long time coming. We're excited to begin the researching and planning process, and plan the trip we've both been dreaming of!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

To my love:

Central Park, NYC, May 2012

Happy third anniversary, darling! You're the best husband a girl could ask for and I'm so grateful that I get to spend the rest of my life with you. There's not a day that goes by when I'm not struck by how lucky I am that you picked me. I love you!

What I've been watching July 2012 Edition

First, and foremost, we're still working our way through NCIS. We began watching Season 1 shortly after we got married three years ago (today!). This past weekend we finished Season 7. Season 9 finished airing in May and is due to come out on DVD this fall. So we are making definite progress! I'm still loving this show and am always eager to see what happens next. I don't want it to ever end (although I know all shows must eventually) and I'm excited that they are at least making a Season 10!

Secondly, in the spring we began watching Doctor Who Season 1 on Amazon streaming. We're now halfway through Season 2 and I'm really enjoying this show. I have to admit that it does frequently creep me out/scare me. Certain species of the aliens and bad guys in this show just really do me in (can anyone say weeping angels?) so I have to be careful about when I watch it but I still love it.

And thirdly, I've been watching Frontier House on YouTube this week. Frontier House is a PBS show that follows three families from 2001 as they attempt to live and survive on a 1883 homestead in Montana, and it is absolutely fascinating. The drama and bickering between the families is a little much at times but watching them build houses and do chores in a beautiful Montana valley is addicting. It's both a blessing and a curse that the show only contained six episodes. I could have watched and enjoyed many more episodes but I have plenty to do without watching hours of semi reality tv. Luckily for me PBS did several more shows like this. Coal House, 1900 House, 1940 House, Colonial House and Manor House. Now I just have to find them online!

I have a couple of shows I'd like to watch soon. Season 2 of Downton Abbey and Stargate SG1 to begin with. Any suggestions of shows I should add to my cue?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On why I am no longer job hunting

Today I went crazy. I walked into a second interview for a job, received an offer, and turned it down. Now, this wasn't just any job. It was a good job, a fantastic job.  Good pay, great hours, wonderful environment, and amazing people. The best kind of people actually. The kind you want to just sit and talk to all day because they're just that awesome. And yet, when it came down to it, I just couldn't commit. As much as I would have loved that job (and I definitely would have. Can anyone say natural, integrative, medical practice?!), accepting that job would have been a sacrifice.

You see, Justin and I, we have a bargain of sorts. It's never been explicitly stated but it's there. He works outside of the home and I work inside the home. He makes money and I try my darnedest to save money. Some might call that patriarchal and old-fashioned. And, really, it kind of is. But you know what? I really like it that way. Yes, I know we're extremely lucky and have a very unique situation. Many people around the country aren't in a position to be able to live on one income. But we are and want to take advantage of it. So I did the unthinkable and turned down an amazing job today. Because ultimately I know that I can't do everything. I can't work 30 hours a week and still do everything that I need want to do. We have plans and goals, and, unfortunately, this job, or almost any job in fact, wasn't compatible with them. We have races to train for and classes to take. We're starting house hunting and trying to plan a vacation. Someday we'd love to get down to one car and plant a large garden. How are we going to do all this, and more, if every evening and weekend is filled with housework and grocery shopping? How can we stop being dependent on two cars if everyday I commute 5.5 miles in one direction and he commutes 6 miles in another?

Over the weekend, we discussed all these things. Around and around we went, wrestling with the all these facts, trying to decide what was best for us, both individually and as a couple. Because frankly, I wanted this job. I wanted it a lot. To be able to spend my days with this group of people that I admire and respect, to be in an environment that supports the things that I believe in, would have been fantastic. It was the perfect job. But there were still those nagging thoughts and questions. What parts of our lifestyle will we be giving up just to have a little more money? In the end, Justin left the decision to me and I turned it down because, ultimately, we would have lost more than we gained. Do I regret my decision? No, I don't think I do. Do I wish I could have made both work? You betcha.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Instagram April

Here's a collection of my favourite Instagram photos from this past month. April was a busy month for us. Trips to visit family and business trips ate up all but one week of it. But we did get a few days of fun! I took the boys to Turkey Run, Justin and I ran the Winona Lake Ultra and also spent a day in NYC, which I haven't even talked about yet. PLUS we both had our birthdays and turned 25 & 26 respectively.

Whew. All in all, a good but busy month. And May is shaping up to be just the same!

Monday, April 30, 2012

On contentment

Sometimes, I look at the lives of my friends

and see their exotic travels and crazy adventures

and I get jealous of them,

but then I think of everything I would have missed out on,

and would have never experienced.

And suddenly,

I just feel sorry for them instead.

P.S. Happy birthday to my wonderful husband, the most amazing best friend and lover a girl could ever wish for.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Race Update: Winona Lake Ultra 2012

Race: Winona Lake Ultra 50, 30, & 10 miles
Date: April 14th, 2012
Score: Awesome!
Time: 1:46:59.9 (aka 1:47)
Placing: 91st over all, 7th 18-24yr old women

This was a really good race. It wasn't a perfect race for me certainly but I really enjoyed it. It was well organized and executed by the directors. And it was very reasonably priced. $18 apiece. How can you beat that? I would definitely run more races by this organization.  

Justin and I before the race. This is classic us.

Justin and I ran the 10 mile which was one loop. The 10 milers started at 10am with the 30 milers and 50 milers starting at 10 minute intervals. There were 118 runners in the 10 mile, 38 in the 30, and 20 in the 50. So our race was by far the biggest of the three. But we got passed by many 30 and 50 milers over the course of the race. 

Justin finishing. Look at that concentration.

The race had a rocky start for me. Training had not gone well for either Justin or I the last few weeks and we had barely managed to get our long runs in let alone any speed training. Also, all our runs had been on the road. So, not the best training conditions for an ultra which by definition is a trail race. So we had determined to take it easy and just focus on having fun.

Me sprinting to the finish. I should have just passed him earlier.

Despite us trying to start in the middle of the pack we ended up farther forward than I would have preferred. The race very quickly dropped down to a single track and I immediately got seperrated from Justin. I also knew that there was no way I could maintain the pace I was running for very long so I slowed way down and allowed many people to pass me. 

Us after the race. Victorious and very sweaty.

Around the 1 1/2 mile I had caught up to a couple of other people and several of us were pacing off the man in front. He was running a pace that felt very doable to me so I hung with him. However, by mile 3, my fast start had caught up with me and I had a nasty side cramp. I walked my way into the first aid station at 3.2 to find an apologetic Justin waiting for me.

My little baby scrape.

I sucked down a HAMMER Gel (nasty, chalky stuff by the way) and we headed on. The rest of the race went more according to plan. I took one fall. Truth be told, I still don't know what I tripped on. Justin says it must have been a root. I think he's being generous that I tripped on my own two feet. However!, I managed to fall to the side of the trail so that neither Justin or the two men following him stepped on me. Score one for me!

Dry shirts and finisher medals.

I think the biggest thing I learned from this race is that electrolytes are very important for me.  My cramp went away as soon as I took the HAMMER Gel and stayed away the rest of the race as long as I ate Shot Bloks on a regular basis. Next long run I plan to start with electrolytes and maintain them. I have a theory that this will prevent cramps from starting which I would much prefer. So, I'll experiment and see what happens.

Celebrating with Ritters icecream!

Final thoughts: 

1. This was an awesome race! I definitely want to at least run the 30 next spring and am seriously considering running the 50. I know, I know, insane. At the very least, with a little training I should be able to win my age group if not place over all in women's. The fastest woman finished in 1:16:13.2. That should be doable for me with some focused training. I look forward to next year!

2. Play with the electrolytes. Figure out what works and go from there. It's very disheartening to begin a race with a cramp and feel like you're playing catch up the whole time. This is something I need to experiment with more on the regular runs.

3. The Nathan pack rocks! I love mine so much. You get used to it after a while and don't even notice it at all. For a shorter race like this that has aide stations I would definitely only fill it half way but I loved having it with me. The pack is well worth the money I spent on it and would definitely suggest it for other runners who are working to increase their millage.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Part 6 of Why I love my small house

After ragging on myself and my feelings about my small (672 sq ft) house recently, I want to expand on some of the reasons why I really do love this house. This is the fourth post in a series discussing what I love about our house.

Today: The kitchen!

First off. This skillet and strainer hanging on the wall. One. I love that skillet to pieces. Non stick and perfect every time. Two I love how these pieces look hanging on the wall. They're functional and easy to get too but still interesting to look at. 

Secondly, our aprons. I love my apron. It was a gift from my mama and I use it several days a week. In particular when I'm baking. I'm extremely bad about flinging flour all over the place and this apron is a life saver.


Thirdly, our spice cabinet. This is my absolute favourite thing in our kitchen. We found it at a local used furniture shop and just had to have it. As you can see it holds A LOT of spices and keeps them out of our limited cabinet space. I love the leaded glass and the way it smells when you open it. 

Fourth. The ghirardelli chocolate is another of my favourites. It holds ghirardelli chocolate at all times :-)

And lastly, this painting. It came from a Burmese missionary and Justin has had it for a long time. We finally got it framed and it matches our yellow kitchen perfectly! 

Well, there you have it. All of the details about our small house that I love. When I started this series I thought I would cover more of the rooms and talk about the house itself more. But as I went I found myself paying most attention to the details, the things that have stories. I guess this just goes to reenforce that it really is the little things in your house (and your life) that really count.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Part 5 of Why I Love my small house

After ragging on myself and my feelings about my small (672 sq ft) house recently, I want to expand on some of the reasons why I really do love this house. This is the fourth post in a series discussing what I love about our house.
Part 3.
Part 4.

 Today: The Living Room!

First off. I love these maps.  They're huge. They cover the entire wall and are the first thing you see when you enter the house. Someday we'd like to pin the places we've been but as we've yet to decide how to do that without damaging the maps they're unadulterated. We like them just like this and frequently find ourselves perched awkwardly in the chairs looking at them while we brush our teeth. 

Secondly. Our makeshift entry.  These hooks don't hold all our coats and gear, we have a small hall closet that most of these items live in. But we do store our most frequently used items on these hooks. This helps alot in the winter/rainy season. The closet is too crowded to hang wet items inside. I also love our key hooks. I never lose track of my keys now that they always live on the bottom hook. Besides, it's fun to find something useful to do with that tiny strip of wall. Every inch counts!

My fishbowl full of lights! I had to get my engineer husband to sign off of this one before I could do it. Didn't want to put too many lights in the bowl and melt something or break the glass. But he said it should be fine, so here we are! I love to plug these in and turn on a good cd on dark nights and just relax. 

Thirdly, my Mandelbrot set collage. Justin made this for me for our first Christmas and I LOVE it! I had always wanted to hang Mandelbrot photos on my wall ever since reading about the chaos theory while in highschool and he made it happen for me. I love him. 

Fourth. Our little bulletin board. This hangs in the living room, just before you get to the kitchen and just beside my bike. I love the simplicity of it and how useful it is for storing things. Coupons, concert tickets, bakery gift certificates, and more live on that board at all times. Wonderfully handy. 

And lastly, our poor bedraggled plant. This is not our only plant. In fact, we have have four more. But this one is my favourite. It was a hand me down and it's scrawny but it's a fighter. When I received the plant it had only four leaves. And look at it now! It does take an excessive amount of watering. I typically give is 20oz every two to three days. But really! How can you not love it with it's skinny, skinny trunk and it's shiny leaves. I just wish I knew what it was!

And there you have our living room! Only one room left in the house: the kitchen.