January 30, 2012

Laziness At Its Worst (or Best?)

This weekend was completely, utterly, incredibly... blissfully lazy. I went into it with a to-do list miles long, but instead the list of what I did not accomplish trails on and on: I did not make muffins with the poor bananas that are slowly browning on our kitchen counter. I did not reorganize our closet, as I have been vowing to do for weeks now. I did not cook dinner even once, despite having all the ingredients for a soup I have been dying to try. I did not prep my lunches for this week, an omission which I regretted this morning as I ran late. I did not get ahead on reading for work, or spend time on the wedding details that so desperately need my undivided attention. I did not clean my desk or file any of the paperwork that has been piling ever higher, most likely burying something very important and time-sensitive. I did not plan meals for this week, determine what groceries we need, or even take stock of our refrigerator to see what should be consumed in a timely manner. I did not make a dent in our overflowing laundry basket or sink. I neglected the dozens of errands that need to be run. And I am being absolutely honest when I say that this list doesn't even really scratch the surface. I could go on for weeks.
Despite all that, I do have a short list of things I did do this weekend: I slept more than any person should be allowed to sleep in two days, and it felt fantastic. I lounged on the couch, snapping pictures of this snoozing pair:
I sipped coffee at Panera and attempted to work on that to-do list, managing in the end to write two emails and four and a half handwritten notes to wonderful friends. I spend a while on the phone with my best friend, catching up on her life after going far too long between conversations (in a perfect world, she would still live next door... oh how I miss those days). I spent time with my mom and stepdad as well as Dan's brother and his girlfriend. I practically devoured a good book and realized how much I miss reading all the time. I literally devoured the delicious breakfast sandwich Dan made Saturday morning, wasting not one thought on how many calories I was inhaling. I went to the gym twice and enjoyed taking my time, spending as long as I wanted to on each machine, relishing the feeling of not having to rush through my workout. I laughed with my husband until my sides hurt. I took Tess down to the dog park and chatted with new friends while she had a blast rolling around with her new canine buddies.
So while the number and importance of things I did not get done this weekend may wildly outweigh those things I did get done, I would argue that my time was well spent. So what if I have a lot to catch up on this week? I would take time with friends over time with my washing machine any day. I would always rather snuggle with my husband and our furballs than clean the actual furballs that Tess and Toby leave behind. I will pick sleep over cleaning ninety-nine times out of one hundred (wouldn't you?) Besides, if I've learned anything in my few short years, it's that the laundry? It will still be there tomorrow.


January 27, 2012

Friday Favorites: Recipe for a Friday Morning

As Friday mornings go, taking into account that whole have-to-get-up-and-go-to-work thing, this one was relatively lovely. It started off on a good note, as I woke up next to this snugglebug:
I was running early this morning (which never happens) and was rewarded with a blissfully empty gym for most of my workout:
that, except dark (tanks to our neighborhood's website for this pic)
... which was powered by some excellent new purchases, including this song:
Gives me chills every time.
The weather outside is just perfect today. It had already hit 60 by the time I left for the gym, and on my way to work it was pouring in some parts of town but not raining a bit in others. These pictures were taken from the same spot -- one side sunny, the other looking a little ominous. 
My morning commute included my favorite five minutes of radio every week:
mascara alert: today's is a sad one
and a stop at Starbucks for a healthy dose of chai:
Even after all that, I was early getting in to the office, which afforded me a lovely 30 minutes to get work done before the phones started to ring.
blurred to protect the innocent... or something like that
Two to do lists are better than one? Things at work are crazy right now and are only going to get worse in the next few weeks. I suppose it's better to be busy than bored, at least.
My quiet half hour was also enhanced by the best sourdough toast on the planet:
excuse the missing bite... I couldn't wait
What a great way to start the day! Now only 5 more hours until I am officially on weekend time... I am so ready for this one.
Hope that your Friday morning was just as wonderful!


January 26, 2012

Colors of January

Cool thing #362,835 about the iPhone? Instagram.


January 25, 2012

Pumpkin Apple Muffins

Just an hour before we planned to leave town on Friday, with packing and laundry still to finish, I got an overwhelming urge to bake something for our trip. It was one of those urges that tends to strike at the least-opportune moments in my life (late at night, or when I am stressed and have a to-do list that could stretch for kilometers... or both), but one which I know better than to deny. I did a quick search and picked this recipe (detailed below) on a whim because I happened to have everything it called for, so I crossed my fingers that the finished result would be decent, taking comfort in the fact that at least I was using up the apples on my kitchen counter that were about to go bad. Thankfully the prep was simple and quick, and my helpful hubby was around to chop and taste test the apples, since I have that little deathly-allergic problem.
I had a little extra batter but didn't want to break out a third muffin tin, so I poured the rest into two ramekins that I baked alongside the 24 muffins. When they came out of the oven, I tried a bite out of one of these ramekins.... yum. These guys turned out delightfully moist and flavorful and were a huge hit with everyone from my baked-good-skeptical husband (who took one bite and told me he would "chop apples every week if I would keep making muffins") to our friends' nine-month-old. I'd call that a success.
I didn't have time to make the streusel topping that is included in the original recipe, but I did add one quick step to the recipe: after Dan chopped the apple, I threw it into a pan with some butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon and sauteed it for a few minutes. I drained this and then added the apples in to the rest of the mix. I can't say for sure that this made a huge difference in the end, but I think it may have helped boost the flavor.

3 cups all purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 (15-ounce) can solid pack pumpkin (don’t use canned pumpkin pie filling)
¾ cup vegetable oil
2 ¼ cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped 

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place a rack in the center of the oven. Generously grease 18 muffin cups or line them with paper muffin liners.
*my addition: Saute chopped apples in 1-2 tablespoons of butter with ~1/3 cup brown sugar and ~2 tablespoons cinnamon for 5-7 minutes or until soft. (sorry for the approximations -- I sort of made this part up as I went along)*
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, vegetable oil, sugar, and eggs. Slowly add the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Whisk until the flour is incorporated. Stir in the apple pieces.
Spoon the batter into the muffin cups; filling them almost to the top.
Bake for 18 to 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool briefly in the pan and then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Definitely worth a try if you're looking for something easy but yummy... or if you get one of those unavoidable urges to bake and happen to have apples and pumpkin hanging around. Just me? Oh well... Happy baking!


January 23, 2012

Great Friends, Great Wine, Great Weekend

As Monday mornings go, this one seems particularly hard to get behind. Maybe it's the cold rain falling that made my morning walk to the gym positively bleak, or perhaps it was the face that I stayed up entirely too late last night throwing together a batch of chili to simmer in the crockpot overnight. Could be that this is the first five day work week I've faced in quite some time. Most likely, though, it's because all I really want to do is go back to our vacation, curl up besides our gorgeous fireplace with a glass of wine and good friends, and continue to ignore the real world for a few more days weeks.
Our home this weekend was absolutely gorgeous. I was a little nervous because I had never seen one of the condos at this resort, but Dan and I were very pleasantly surprised when we walked in. It was spacious, incredibly clean, very well-equipped, and wonderfully decorated:
The real fireplace was by far the best part, and we enjoyed great fires both nights that we were there. There were so many pieces of furniture/decorations that I wanted to take home with me, including these awesome lamps in our bedroom:
We were lucky enough to be joined this weekend by our wonderful friends T, who deployed with Dan, and N, who helped so much to keep me sane here at home. Their adorable nine month old little girl is just about the sweetest thing ever and was so much fun this weekend. We have just gotten to know them just over the past eight months or so, but they have quickly become some of our closest friends, and this little trip was the perfect way to get away and celebrate the five of us all being together again.
Friday night, we snuggled in next to a fire with lots of great wine, munched on cheese and crackers and an excellent pasta dish (thanks to T, who is a fantastic cook), played the game Mad Gab, and stayed up super late just having a ball. Saturday morning I headed to check out the resort gym, which turned out to be pretty nice, and then we packed up for a day of wine-tasting. We took our time and enjoyed beautiful views:
... some great wine:
... and one very happy little girl:
... who especially loved a few fast stroller rides through gravel parking lots with her dad.
We made it to two wineries and had planned to have lunch at the brewery before heading to two more, but by the time we made it for lunch it was almost 4:00, so we postponed the remaining wineries and relaxed over some beer and excellent food:
... and then headed back to snuggle up by a fire, play with the little one, eat a light dinner, top off the night with oreos and milk, and crawl into bed early.
Sunday morning, we woke up to a beautiful view:
I made it to the gym again, and then we packed up, checked out, and headed out to make up for the wineries we missed on Saturday. We ended up tasting at three more venues, picking up several more bottles to bring home, and enjoying a fantastic lunch (fish and chips and a great hefeweizen) before finally waving our white flags. We snapped a few more pictures:
the girls
guys being... guys
... before saying our goodbyes and heading back home, already making plans to hopefully check out another wine expo in February. 
I was exhausted last night (and still am this morning), but it was absolutely worth it. Dan and I are so lucky to have such great friends and as much as I love spending girl time with N and her baby girl, having our wonderful husbands home is perfect. I am really looking forward to lots more wine and dinner dates, late night laughs, and weekends away with these guys!


January 22, 2012

Silent Sundays

Weekend: accomplished.  



January 20, 2012

Friday Favorites

My favorite thing about this Friday? It's almost over.
In just a few hours, I am escaping from work half a day early to head off for a lovely mountain:
(which will unfortunately have significantly less snow than this picture)

We have rented a great condo for the weekend:
... and will be spending the next few days visiting a few of our favorite vineyards:
  and introducing friends to our very favorite brewery:
There will also be lots of napping, yummy food, a new gym to check out (am I crazy for being excited about that?), and lots of quality time with great friends!
Hooray for Friday! Happy weekend, everyone.


January 18, 2012

So What Wednesday

Because sometimes, especially on Wednesdays, it's a little hard to care.

So what if
 -- I'm a little obsessed with breakfast foods right now. My amazing hubby indulged my need (yep, definitely a need) for crispy-to-the-point-of-burnt bacon last night (so worth the smoky haze that settled over the entire apartment for the rest of the evening). He also made cheesy scrambled eggs and the most incredible french toast. The guy has talent. But the cravings continue: today for breakfast and lunch, I packed pumpkin bread and oatmeal. I could seriously go for some hash browns, too. Nothing wrong with eating breakfast three times a day, right?
 -- I'm a little ok, ok, a lot late on the grey nail polish trend. I have been dying to try it for quite a while but didn't have the courage until I saw it on a coworker (on whom I admittedly have a bit of a girl crush... she has adorable, effortless style and is incredibly sweet and successful). Mine don't look nearly as good as hers, but I'm still in love with them.
 -- I park a little closer to the door on super cold mornings at work.
 -- I wish that Siri could do slightly more advanced tasks: "Pump my gas, Siri." "Go to the gym, Siri." "Unplug the shower drain, Siri." "Take Tess for a walk, Siri." No luck on these so far, but I feel sure that she is trainable -- I'll keep you updated on how this goes.
 -- Some days I miss college only because I long for the days that I could roll out of bed, throw on a pair of yoga pants, grab a fantastic cup of coffee, and prop myself up in class behind my laptop. Better yet, I miss the rare days when I could turn off my alarm, skip the class, and start my day closer to lunchtime. Life in the real world makes those four years seem better and better.
 -- I waste large chunks of time daydreaming about my next life, in which I will be a pastry chef with thick, wavy hair, a closet full of cute shoes, and a supersonic metabolism. I'm not asking for much here, people.
 -- I get a little annoyed at the girl in the car in front of me on my commute who is doing more dancing than driving. It may be true she will reach her destination in a much better mood than I if I choose to let her get to me... but happy or not, late to work is late to work.
 -- I forked over big bucks for a nice hotel room on a weekend trip this spring that I'd really rather not take. I'm crossing my fingers that the gorgeous pool and in-room jacuzzi will make up for the high levels stress and frustration that this little "vacation" (ha) is sure to cause.
 -- I crave the same foods over and over again day after day... even when I've just eaten them. I would be thrilled if I could eat pasta and toast and drink iced coffee forever -- days that include those foods are just happier.
So tell me: what are you saying "so what?" to today?



January 17, 2012

Apple of my Eye

I have a rather exciting confession to make. That package the hubby and I were eagerly awaiting on Friday afternoon? It contained our official entry for membership in the cult of Apple. True, we started this transition a while back thanks to our iPads: Dan's is over a year old now (practically qualifying as a historical relic), mine was a birthday gift a few months back. And we haven't completely made the switch, as I am rather attached to the lovely Dell laptop that my sweet hubby bought me for Christmas this year (it's been a big few months for technology upgrades around these parts, let me tell you). But this weekend, our little family made a big leap toward Mr. Jobs' end of the continuum: we traded in our aging little android phones for shiny new iPhones.
I will admit, the first 24 hours left me mildly disappointed. I couldn't get certain applications to sync, nothing from my old phone seemed to want to transfer, and I was a little sad to leave behind certain android perks like the cute little weather animation (go ahead, laugh at me -- my husband certainly did). My incredibly full google calendar showed up blank, and only a random 28 contacts made their way across the stratosphere, leaving over a hundred more lost somewhere in the interim. I was also a little let down when the first person I showed failed to share in my excitement, but made no effort to hide their judgement about how much we had paid (a total which was, in fact, surprisingly small and came with a substantial reduction to our monthly bill). I can't lie, I went to bed Friday night with more than a little buyer's remorse weighing on my tired brain.
After spending the weekend exploring and experimenting, however, I think it's safe to say that I'm in love. Every last piece of information is finally transferred, the angry birds are in full swing, and Siri and I have become great friends. I love that I can read blogs, Kindle books, and an incredible amount of news right from my phone (although this makes me a little nervous about productivity levels in the near future). I am also over-excited by the new podcast app I downloaded -- I use this every day and was so frustrated with my old one, but the new version is worlds better. I couldn't believe how clunky and slow my poor dying android seemed when I picked it up last night after spending just two days with its lovely Apple counterpart. I've never been one to own the latest version of any kind of technology, so between the phone, iPad, and new laptop, I am feeling so cutting edge and up-to-date that I can barely stand it.
All of that being said, I am really looking forward to unplugging this weekend. Dan and I are escaping with two wonderful friends (and their adorable baby girl) to a nearby ski resort for a long weekend of laughter and wine-tasting and yummy food. I am more than ready to turn off the technology and spend some time celebrating the guys' safe return!
Until then, though, please fill me in: what are the apps you can't live without?? 



January 13, 2012

Friday Favorites

 I won't go into the gory details, but this week has left me in great need of a little extra patience, a lot of sleep, a brain reset, a glass of wine, new carpeting, a vacation, and a healthy dose of gratitude. Because sometimes, having a new dog is more exhausting than it is fun. Sometimes, having a full time job and also an social life is enough to make you want to quit one or the other. Sometimes, your hormones get so out of whack that you contemplate just sitting on the floor and crying for no apparent reason... multiple times a day. And sometimes, it's nice to stop and just be thankful that you made it through another week.

I realize that I'm more than a little late for this train, but I'm going to chase it on down the track. I bought several Tervis tumblers as Christmas presents this year in a burst of brilliance (breast cancer awareness for my mom, Marine Corps for my stepdad, US Army for Dan), but I've never had one of my own. After Christmas, Dan and I ran across a huge aisle of them in a store and I may have mentioned that now everyone had their very own tumbler that represented their passion... except me. He insisted that I pick out one for myself, so I got the cute little runner above. Oh. My. Goodness am I in love. I never knew it was possible to get so excited about a piece of plastic. These things are incredible though: bigger than a normal glass, always condensation free, dishwasher safe, great for hot or cold, and perfect for both home and the office (in other news, I should probably pursue a career in infomercials). I only made it about three days before I dragged Dan out to get 2 more -- now we have a "woof" and a "meow" to represent the other two members of our family!

This just speaks for itself. How cute is that last little guy?!

I'm not sure what I did all day before I discovered pinterest. I can (and do) kill entire hours browsing, squealing in delight, and adding things to my "crafty amazingness to attempt" list. Now any time I need ideas for gifts, recipes, decorations, or life in general, pinterest is my first stop. Strangely, however, I've realized that while I find a lot of amazing pictures, I rarely pin anything on my own boards. Guess we know what I'll be doing this holiday weekend!

My fantastic boss brought muffins for everyone this morning, and I snagged the last blueberry one. YUM.

My husband truly never ceases to amaze me. I've been begging this guy to be my gym buddy ever since he got home, and he has joined me a grand total of one time in more than a month. Until this morning, that is. When my alarm went off at the crack of dawn, it took just a few seconds of sleepy thought to decide "I'll just go to the gym this afternoon. I'm very comfortable right here, thank you." So I reset the alarm, turned over, and snuggled up to Dan's back. Our conversation went a little like this:
   "Mpf" (Dan)
   "Aren't you going to the gym?" 
   "Not this morning. I'll go this afternoon. I'm sleepy."
   "What if I go with you?"
   "Ha. Ha ha. Hahahaha. Right."
   "No, really. I'll go with you."
Following this statement, my husband actually lifted the covers and proceeded to get out of bed all by himself . (By the way, sweetheart: that was a big mistake -- now I know it's possible.) And so with a bit of grumbling, I too pulled myself upright and we went to the gym. It was brutal, but now I don't have to go tonight, and for that I am infinitely grateful. 

Last but certainly not least, this week I am thankful for the package that is scheduled to arrive at our doorstep any minute now with very precious cargo. Dan has been texting me all morning: "It's in [hometown]!" "It's out for delivery!" "It left the post office at 9:30!" The anticipation is killing me. I promise to fill you in when it gets here!
Happy Friday everyone -- hope that you all had a week with such lovely things!



January 11, 2012

Early Bird

Last week, in some kind of fit of superhuman motivation, I managed to drag myself out of bed every day before work to hit the gym. In the interest of full disclosure, I did have Monday off, so the "week" was truly only four days. Still, for an unabashed non-morning person (just ask poor Toby, the typical recipient of my glares and growls as I force my feet to hit the ground), this is a pretty impressive accomplishment. 
I go through phases like this every once in a while -- weeks where I am consistent enough about running in the mornings that my body either gets used to it or just resigns itself to the whims of my crazy brain. These good weeks, however, tend to punctuate months where I only make it to the gym a few mornings a week, or, in some rare cases, never at all. On days that I can't rouse myself early enough, I always run in the evenings... but only after I've sat at my desk all day wrestling with the guilt that comes with skipping my morning run.
Now, however, we come to the real anomaly of last week: not only did I manage to run every day before work, but three out of four days, I also spent time at the gym after work. One day I ran twice, and the other two afternoons I hit the elliptical after longer runs in the morning. Inspired? Definitely. Crazy? Possible.
I'm not a stranger to two-a-day workouts -- back in the summer and fall when I was training for races I tried to squeeze in two runs a day (or a run and crosstraining) at least once a week. Three times in one week, however, is certainly a first. These days I am running fairly reduced mileage thanks to the on-and-off pain in my right shin and the fact that I don't have any races on my calendar for at least two more months, so even with a high volume of separate workouts, I'm nowhere near the training level I was in August and September. My runs during the week were also exclusively pounded through on the treadmill (although I did manage to get outside during daylight Saturday and Sunday), so they weren't exactly 100% effort or fancy tempo runs, even though I did maintain paces that satisfy my craving for speed. Still, nine sessions of decent sweat over six days is nothing to sneeze at around here.
This week has been much more normal so far -- I made it in Monday morning, but opted for the extra hour of sleep yesterday and today. Last night I finished my longest run since before Halloween, and I plan to follow it up with a 5k distance (-ish) recovery tonight. That little guilty voice has taken up its spot in the back of my head again, though: "It's good to start your day with a run," it says, "You should have gotten up." Damn voice. It's especially loud after a week like last week.
It makes me wonder, though -- is it really better to work out in the mornings? Sure, it's nice to start out the day knowing my run is out of the way and I can relax after work. There are lots of days that I know if I don't do it in the morning, I won't have time to run at all, so there's that. And it is true that once I manage to get out of bed, I feel good about starting off my day by sweating -- it wakes me up and allows me to feel accomplished first thing in the morning. But honestly, there are plenty of other benefits to running in the afternoons: I can burn off both the stress and the calories of the day, I'm not in a hurry and can go as far as I'd like, and it seems that my body is happier, too. There are days when I get home from work and it it only takes Dan one glance before he gently guides me to the closet to change clothes -- he knows that a run is the ultimate bad-mood killer after a long day for me. Besides, one of the cardinal rules of training is to mix it up with different routes and different speeds to keep my head engaged and committed. It would seem that varying the time of day would be a no-brainer.
So while I do feel pretty proud of myself for weeks like last week, it's definitely time to stop beating myself up over it. Sometimes my body needs that extra hour of sleep much more than it needs to be set atop a moving belt and asked to keep up while only half awake. That treadmill isn't going anywhere, and especially when it's a choice between 3 rushed miles before work or 6 quality miles in the afternoon, the right answer is pretty clear.
That said, tomorrow I'm determined to get my run over with before work, because words can't express how much I don't want to go spend time on the treadmill right now. Is it spring yet? I miss the roads...



January 9, 2012

January Blues

Yesterday, something went down in our household that I would have sworn to you would never happen. My husband uttered words that I would have bet my life savings would not in a million years cross his lips. That's right: yesterday morning, Mr. Christmas himself looked me square in the eye and said "Can I take down the tree tomorrow?" I am still reeling from the shock.
Sadly, I can no longer come up with a good excuse to leave up our lovely evergreen just a few more days... the holidays are officially over, ladies and gentlemen. The worst part, however, is that with the tree go the decorations: my singing snowmen and carol-playing Snoopy and "brrrr"-ing Winnie the Pooh must retreat to their boxes for another 11 months in storage. My Zwarte Piet (Dutch elves) must be tucked away, the advent calendar doors must be closed, and the rosemary bush dried and shaken down into potpourri. Perhaps saddest of all, this means that our brand-new adorable stockings must finally be emptied of their chocolate and folded up until next December (unless I can think of a clever excuse to reuse them for Valentine's Day...)
The disappearance of these seasonal items leaves our living room looking a bit empty, so my next project is to find a few new accessories for our sparse coffee table and bookshelves. As is the norm these days, my first instinct was to turn to the lovely pinterest for answers. As is also the norm, pinterest did not disappoint:

Adorable pinwheels in a flowerpot
Colorful lanterns!
The perfect way to use up all those lingering candy canes
Perfect idea for Valentines Day...
or Easter.
 Love these flower/floating candle combinations
Gorgeous for fall
I think I will probably give this look a try -- I have about a gazillion white candles and vases, so I'm going to pick up a bag of cranberries tonight and see how they work.
The winner, though, has to be this incredibly unique and adorable use of vegetables:
If I had lots of time on my hands, I would absolutely start eating the middle out of cutting up some artichokes.
The small bit of my brain that is just slightly crafty is itching to try a few of these ideas. Also, stay tuned -- next up: our boring white walls!



January 6, 2012

Friday Fluff

I have to sit at this desk for another three hours and pretend to work, but my brain has already clocked out, kicked off the heels, and reclined with an adult beverage. Honestly, I can't remember a time when I was so over being at work. Since last Friday, at least. The last 3 hours of the workweek are always downright brutal.
Speaking of brutal, this week at work has been particularly so. Something about sitting here at my computer for 8 hours a day while my hubby is spending his vacation time sleeping and playing with our new puppy just doesn't thrill me... I can't imagine why. Add to that the handful of coworkers who seem to think it is their job to jump up and down all over my last nerve, and let me tell you: girlfriend needs a long weekend. Except that last weekend was a 3 day weekend. And the weekend before that. Let me rephrase that: girlfriend needs a longer weekend. I think 5 days miiight do the trick.
Since my brain seems to have taken a half day, these lovely little bullet points are going to be as good as it gets right now. Please don't expect them to make too much sense.
-- While I didn't make any running resolutions this year, I did mention that I might have some goals for 2012. By which I mean I should have some goals, but I haven't gotten myself together enough to set them. I'm sure that when that happens, they will include a few races, a few training improvements, and getting rid of this damn pain in my right leg. For now, though, I'm still super excited by the thought that I ran over 1000 miles in 2011 (1045, to be exact), which seems pretty decent considering it was my first year running and I had some injury-prone months in there.
 -- Speaking of running, I have been itching to get some new running clothes... I am dying for a new pair of these. And perhaps one of these. And most definitely a pair of these. If only my wallet agreed.
 -- It's shocking how much more I look forward to my evenings now that they involve snuggling up with my husband and catnapping on the couch. Even if I have to go to the gym first, just knowing that he will be there when I get home is terribly exciting. Looking back, I'm honestly not sure how I got through 7+ months without the guy.
 -- This weekend I bought a fancy brand new moisturizer for my face. I will refrain from mentioning the brand, but it's a well-known and typically highly-recommended name, and this one was specifically for sensitive skin. I used it three times on Monday and Tuesday, and by Wednesday morning my face was drier than the Mojave. Days (and several applications of my old moisturizer) later, my cheeks are still itching like crazy. I might as well have thrown that $14 directly in the trash.
 -- This weekend is the first in recent memory that I anticipate having lots of time to sleep, and I plan to take full advantage of this. I was so used to going to bed early when Dan was gone, now that he is home I struggle to make it past 10. In other words, I am the very definition of exciting (he thinks so, at least).
 -- I have never in my life looked forward to spring... I like the season just fine, but I usually save all seasonal anticipation for the glory of fall weather. The past few weeks, though, as I've driven around in my unheated car (please just don't even ask) with icicles hanging from my extremities, I have been absolutely dreaming of those warm spring nights. The lovely outdoor pool cruelly mocks me from my treadmill, as I am too much of a wimp to even run outside after dark in this weather (and these days, it's pretty much always dark). Dearest groundhog, I am putting my request in early: Daffodils. Pronto.
 -- And finally, a confession: a little over a month ago, when my life was just downright awful, I stopped reading blogs. First, let's back up -- my reader is filled with the works of about 25 lovely bloggers who write about a wide variety of things: running, cooking, dating, marriage, babies, pregnancy, autism, photography, cute puppies... the list goes on. Every day for the past few years, I spent a bit of time reading what each and every one of those ladies has to say, and that time has always been of my very favorite parts of the day. I am inspired and motivated by all of the blogs I read, I am always learning new things, and I am only slightly ashamed at how creepy it sounds when I speak about these girls to others as if they are the closest of friends. Once upon a time, I checked my reader more than once a day, just hoping for the chance to read something new and wonderful. But in late November, when my dad was in bad shape and my world was falling apart, I just couldn't take it: I couldn't read about the lives of others, I couldn't give their writing the attention it deserved. I tried not to feel bad about it, but as unread posts started to build up, I couldn't help but feel terrible for getting so behind. After my dad died I thought I would catch up and go back to reading, but I found by then that my reader was even more daunting... not only did I still not feel like facing the normalcy of others' days, but I was so far behind that it would take me quite a bit of time to catch up. Even in a normal year, December just does not come with that kind of free time. So I put it off and put it off and even my guilty conscience seemed to become less bothersome as I got better at ignoring that little number of unread posts. 
A few days ago, though, I suddenly realized how much I missed my favorite blogs. My running motivation had reached an all time low, I didn't have any recipes that I was dying to try, and my days were woefully void of cute baby pictures, fun stories, and surprising bits of knowledge. So I have spent the past three days wading through hundreds of blog posts, catching up on lives, reading about crappy days and wonderful days and holidays and runs and dinners and first teeth and second dates and races and gifts and small victories. Phew. Let me tell you... I feel so much better. I feel like a hole in my life has been filled. I am once again inspired. And I will never again go so long without reading.
Happy weekend, everyone!


January 4, 2012


It seems that a certain furball may have let the cat out of the bag yesterday (terrible pun absolutely intended), but there is a special someone who I'd like you to meet:

Dan and I are thrilled (and Toby is clearly not-so-thrilled) to welcome Tess, a 3 year old black and tan coonhound, to our little family. She is a very large sweetheart who likes to cuddle, eat, play outside, drool, and sleep... a lot. She has adjusted fabulously (even though her brother has not) and we are very much in love!


January 3, 2012


Is there anyone out there??
Toby here... you've probably seen pictures of me around this place before:

I've hijacked mom's computer today with a plea for assistance. Yesterday I was all snuggled up on the couch, dreaming of Wheat Thins (no kidding, that's my favorite snack) when my mom and dad came home. They had been gone all afternoon so I was pretty excited to see them... until I caught a glimpse of what they had with them. I didn't get a great look in the appproximately .3 seconds it took me to dive under the couch, but it was big. And black. And furry. And did I mention big?? Huge.
Since then, I've mostly been hiding in the bathroom or on top of the refrigerator... whatever that thing is, it can't be very smart because it hasn't found me yet. Early this morning I was right under the bed when I saw these huge things walking around...

... but thank goodness it didn't hang around for long. Dad said something about going outside and it ran away... seems like a pretty dumb idea to me, it's really cold out there. I think it's only a matter of time until I lose this little game of hide and seek though, because it has a pretty big nose...

So I'm officially making an offer. I sort of doubt that anyone reads this thing (my mom can be really long-winded and boring...) but if someone does see this:

Fluffy, sweet, well-behaved cat -- free to good home!




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