Thursday, September 14, 2017

This & That 9/14

:: More joys of home ownership this week. A short while ago, we got our water bill and it was twice what it should be. We determined it was from a leaking flush valve. How? The food coloring test. Put a few drops of food coloring in the tank of the toilet. Wait 20-30 minutes and check the toilet. If there's color in the bowl, you have a leak. Ugh. Not a fun science experiment. So we shut the water off to that toilet (fortunately we have two others) until we could get the situation remedied. Thanks to my parents and a family friend, we didn't have to wait long. A new one was installed last weekend. Hooray!!

:: Last Friday, I got off work a little earlier than expected, so Sean and I had an impromptu date night. By date night, I mean dinner out and then grocery shopping. Are we getting boring?
Not us, but could have been.

:: I need to go shopping for clothes. And my mom and dad gave me a gift card for my birthday for this purpose. I just haven't been motivated to do so. I don't enjoy clothes shopping. I know, that's weird. I really just don't like trying things on.

:: The brewery where I work part-time currently has a gruit beer, which contains no hops. Instead, the brewer used backyard weeds -- creeping charlie, prickly lettuce, and dandelions -- in the bittering portion of the brew process. It sounds weird, but it's really quite tasty and refreshing. And it's called Baby Groot. Heh.
Photo courtesy of 515 Brewing.

What's on your mind this week?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Show Us Your Books: August

Life According to Steph

Man, after hitting a good reading stride in July, I slowed down again in August. I only finished two books. But both reads were really good, so I'm calling that a win.

At the beginning of this book, it is really hard to find any sympathy or affection for Letty. Honestly, I never really ended up liking her, but I found myself wanting her to sort things out in the end. She became a mother when she was a teenager but didn't really seem to grow up or take responsibility ... until her mother forced her to. Suddenly, she has to learn how to take care of her two children while running a household. She stumbles. Quite a few times. Her son is surprisingly mature and well-adjusted, however he eventually makes a decision that has some life-altering consequences for two families. The story sheds light on immigration and poverty and made me think about both of them a little differently.

A man is murdered. He leaves behind three widows -- none of whom knew about each other until his funeral. The women could not be more different despite their shared husband. The women end up working through their varied stages of grief together as each tries to escape to a cabin where each had spent their honeymoon. Tension gives way to tough conversations and realizations about the man they married. I liked the book because it combined a few of my favorite things -- romance and a mysterious crime.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sunday Sweats: Comfort before challenge

A few weeks ago, Holly said something in one of her posts about comfortability. I'm not sure why, but it sure seemed to stick in my mind.

The other day, as I was on one of my own runs, that line came to me. It was a Saturday morning. I needed to get my run in before tackling the rest of the day. The first mile was rough, but after that, it got better. So good, I wanted to keep going. I found comfort for a little while in that run.

I want to strive for more of that feeling.

Sure, I want to challenge myself too. I want to get faster and go further. And I will. But I think my main goal needs to be in finding comfort.

It wasn't that long ago that running a 5K was easy. I can still do it, but I wouldn't say it's easy anymore. I need to work back to that.

It was only three years ago I was training for my first half-marathon. I ran four times a week (while working two jobs) and a five-miler wasn't that tough. I need to work back to that.

I have some work to do.

The more frequently I run, the more comfortable I will become in my running. I'm on track for that now -- doing three runs a week. I need to remember to be patient, consistent, and diligent in my training.


Last week's workouts
Sunday - Off
Monday - Off
Tuesday - Outdoor run (20 mins) + Weights workout (40 mins)
Wednesday - Group run (30 mins) + FitFusion (60 mins)
Thursday - Weights workout (45 mins)
Friday - Outdoor run (30 mins)
Saturday - Off

Thursday, September 7, 2017

This & That 9/7

:: A few weeks ago, Sean and I went to our first movie together. Yep. We've been together for almost a year and a half, and we had not yet been to a theater. I'm honestly just not much of a movie-goer. And our schedules are kind of weird, so sometimes, even if there's a movie we both want to see, we just never get there. Regardless, it was fun to watch one of his favorites, "The Princess Bride," with him. We even got souvenir pint glasses! I'm almost ashamed to admit this is the first time I've seen the movie all the way through. I've seen snippets before, but some of my friends' jokes make more sense now. Heh.

:: College football started last Saturday. Sean and I managed to find some tickets for the Iowa State vs. UNI game, so we headed up to Ames to cheer on our Cyclones (the only team we both like). We had a great day tailgating and then watching a victory!

:: On Monday, we went out to the lake with some friends and then got some projects done at our house. The landscaping out front was the big one. Or at least the most fun to share. (We also need a new toilet since one of ours has a leak and can't be repaired.) Adding pavers and mulch to the front was such a little thing but I think it makes a big difference.

:: Well, the above picture was how it looked for a few days. Two to be exact. Tuesday night, we heard loud noises and when we investigated, we found people taking down our patio fence. At 8:30 p.m. Kind of weird.  We were a little freaked out and not convinced that someone wasn't just casing the place to rob it. So we went to Wal-Mart at 9:15 p.m. to get some extra security measures. We had no idea this project was happening but apparently some people did (we found one neighbor to ask). Then the next evening, I came home after my workout and found they'd also pulled out the posts. So now our front looks like the photo below.  Sigh. The guy (who turned out to be the HOA guy I've never gotten ahold of) apologized for ruining it and said he would fix it. I also told him how I felt about the project happening without notification. I actually gave him an earful about the stress he's put us through with this. He has my contact info now and I have his.  Sigh. The joys of home ownership.

:: I'm trying to get back into eating better. The main factor in this is just planning things out. So I bought myself a fitness and food diary. I'm hoping it'll keep me organized and on track.

What's up with you this week?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Wedding Wednesday: The dress

Important note: None of the dresses pictured in this post are the one I chose.  

I had mixed feelings about going shopping for my wedding dress.

On one side, I was really excited to find what I'd be wearing when I marry Sean. I've often said that the only things I care about in my wedding are good beer, good music, and wearing a pretty dress. I've watched lots of "Say Yes to the Dress," so I was looking forward to putting on a gown, looking at myself in the mirror, and just knowing it was the one.

On the other side, I knew that I'm a terrible shopper. I don't like trying things on. And if I get a tunnel vision about what I want, I usually find nothing. I was also worried nothing would fit me or make me feel beautiful. I was really nervous I'd end the day with no dress and no self-esteem.

Fortunately, none of my worries came true.

Sure, I was a bit dismayed by the size of dress I had to try on. It was three sizes larger than what I usually wear. (Who decided that was a good idea?) I actually ended up ordering a dress four sizes larger than my everyday wear. I didn't like the number but at the end of the day, I realized no one will know what number is on the size of the tag. Except me. And I just have to get over that mental game.

My first stop of the day was a bridal consignment store. With a modest dress budget, I thought this might be my best bet. The downside was that there was no consultant. It was just me wiggling into dresses and my friends closing them up for me. I tried on a bunch of silhouettes to see if I could rule out anything. We quickly nixed the mermaid style for me. It just made me look short. And I don't need any help in that department. I probably tried on six to eight dresses at this store. There was a dress with red detail we loved, but the material was better suited for a winter wedding not an outdoor affair in June, so it went back into the racks. We also liked this strapless number with some lace.

I loved how it gave me shape and how it felt. I didn't think I wanted anything with a lot of detail or a big skirt, but I really liked this dress.  I honestly thought this might be the one, but I wasn't ready to commit. Because the shop was a consignment store, they couldn't "hold" the dress for me (even for a few hours), but they advised us to "hide" it so we could come back for it at the end of the day if we still wanted it.

At the next store, I had a consultant helping me with the dresses. This made the process so much smoother. She knew the best way to get in and out of them. I tried on about six dresses at this store. There were different things I liked and didn't like about them.

Finally, I put one on that I didn't want to take off. It was simple and had the light feel I wanted. There's just enough detail to make it interesting, and it really flattered my figure. I wanted to wear it all day. That's how I knew it was the one.

Also, it was within my budget. And I got to get a brand new dress even though I'd accepted that I might have to buy right off the clearance or consignment rack. Total win all the way around.

Neither shop would let us open champagne for mimosas (something about having a license), which was a little disappointing. But we all went out for a drink once the shopping was over.

I was so pleased to have another wedding detail checked off. And I can't wait to see my dress again. And wear it, of course.

How did you know when you found your wedding dress? Did you have any surprises?

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Driving, baseball, and more driving

Between buying a house and planning a wedding, Sean and I didn't have a lot of money for a big summer vacation. Our work schedules also throw a wrench into things. But we really wanted a bit of an escape, so we settled for a day trip for one of our favorite shared interests -- baseball.

Last Thursday, we got up before dawn and hit the road by 6:30 a.m. We stopped for breakfast and coffee and continued north. On the way, we listened to our favorite sports talk radio and then opted for regular music. We arrived in Minneapolis a little after 10 and got parked at Target Field around 10:30 a.m.

We headed into the ballpark immediately. Sean's team (the White Sox) were the visiting team so he was hopeful about seeing them take batting practice. It was a getaway game, so there was no BP, however there were some players out stretching and warming up. He scored autographs from two of the guys -- Dylan Covey and Lucas Giolito.

Once we were sure they were done signing, we took a walk around the concourse of the ballpark. It was Sean's first visit to the Twins' home, so we wanted to take it all in. We also located some lunch -- two 60/40 sliders (60 percent beef, 40 percent bacon) and some chips -- and some local beers. We spent more on the beers than the food. And I don't see anything wrong with that.  Ha ha.

Then we went to get settled in our seats for the game. Since it was our one game and our vacation, we splurged a little and bought tickets for 9th row right next to the White Sox dugout. It was a great view, and I have no regrets about that splurge. Also, about 20 minutes before first pitch, Sean saw another player signing -- Avisail Garcia. So he scurried down and got another autograph. He was pretty happy. (Below is a photo I took of our view without any zoom.)

It was a gorgeous day. Cool, sunny, and clear. It warmed up as the day went on, but never became unbearable. Unfortunately Sean's beloved White Sox lost the game. On a walk-off hit-by-pitch, no less. So that part wasn't very fun for him, but otherwise it was a great experience at the park.

We contemplated checking out one of the nearby breweries, but I was kind of eager to get out of downtown Minneapolis before traffic got crazy. I'm just not a fan of city driving. It makes me nervous. So we hit the road instead and stopped for dinner about an hour south of the city. We also went to a liquor store and loaded up with two whole coolers of Minnesota beer to bring back.

Driving back felt really long. Radio didn't interest us much and we were both tired. I was so happy to pull into the driveway at about 10:15 p.m.

It was a long day of driving, but I'd do it again. And we probably will next summer.  Maybe for my team next time.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Sunday Sweats: August ftiness recap

August goals:
- Run eight times during the month.
I almost made it. I hit seven times. I probably would have made it if I hadn't gotten sick.
- Get my bike out again for a ride.
Boo. I still didn't do this.

Number of days I worked out: 19. This is higher than I thought it'd be after all the days I took off.

Miles Ran: 13

Personal victory: I found a group of women to run with during my lunch hour on Wednesdays. One of them is around my level and two of them are much better. They push me. Last week, we did 2 miles of walk and run intervals. The run intervals were at a 10-minute mile pace. I don't know how I kept up, but I was proud of myself for it.


September goals:
- Run 10 times during the month.
I almost bumped this up to 12, but decided to stay conservative.
- Go to RIPPED class once a week.
I keep looking at this on my gym schedule. It's time to just jump in.

I'm also going to be working on cleaning up my diet. Mostly, this means being better at meal planning and prep as weekday breakfasts and lunches are my weaknesses. Do you have any favorite (and easy) on-the-go breakfasts or lunches?


Last week's workouts
Sunday - Off
Monday - Outdoor run (30 mins)
Tuesday - Off
Wednesday - Group run (30 mins)
Thursday - Off
Friday - BodyPump (60 mins)
Saturday - Outdoor run (30 mins)

This was kind of a down week for me. Taking time off last week to recover from that migraine kind of stole my motivation. I had a hard time getting going again, but I think I'll be better this coming week.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Music Monday: Us the Duo - "No Matter Where You Are"

I will always preach to people to get to shows for the opener. Sure, sometimes they're going to be a dud. But every now and then, there's a gem just waiting for you to hear them. That's most often the case for me. I have discovered a lot of my favorites because they opened for another artist I love. It's a total win-win.

A few weeks ago, I got to see Pentatonix live. They were incredible, and I'm so glad I went. Especially if the rumors about them breaking up are true.

Their opener was a husband-wife team who really surprised me. It took me a few songs to really get into them, but I think part of that was because I was tired from being at the fair all day. Once I really focused on them, I decided I loved them. They were adorable together and had a great sound. I'll definitely be buying their music soon.

They even wrote a song that served as their vows at their wedding. Swoon.

Who's the best opener you've seen?

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sunday Sweats: Working out during your period

Yep. I went ahead and put that word in the title.

It's natural. It happens. I'm not going to censor it.

My workout routine is really important to me. I prefer to be active five out of seven days, and I've been trying to incorporate some strength to go with the cardio. I've really gotten into a groove the last few months, but I hit a bit of a dip last week.

I went for a run on Saturday morning. My legs felt fine, but as I continued, I just didn't feel right. My whole body felt heavy and cumbersome. I finished my two miles, but I didn't feel as victorious as usual.

The following Monday, I hit the treadmill. Again, I had a hard time continuing to run. My energy level was so low, I did a lot of walking with a few running intervals mixed in. It was the best I could do. OK, so I don't love the treadmill, so that might have been part of it, but I don't think that was all of it.

Oh, I forgot to mention that my period started between those two workouts. I'm pretty sure that was the culprit for my depleted energy and endurance. So I decided to do a little research about any connection or information about working out during that time of the month.

As it turns out, there's no specific science to explain why I felt more tired and less motivated to get my sweat on. In fact, Refinery29 said working out during your period may increase intensity of workouts because of the way the hormones are working and affecting energy storage.

Most articles I found actually said working out during your cycle actually has a lot of benefits. It can reduce PMS, headaches, enhance your mood, and regulate irregular periods.

So maybe I was just plain tired those two days. Or maybe this was the lead-up to the migraine that took me out of commission on Tuesday and Wednesday.


Last week's workouts
Sunday - Off
Monday - Treadmill run (30 mins)
Tuesday - Barre (60 mins) + Treadmill run (20 mins) Migraine said no workout
Wednesday - Outdoor run (30 mins) + BodyPump (60 mins) Migraine hangover kept me down.
Thursday - Barre (60 mins)
Friday - Off
Saturday - Outdoor run (60 mins) skipped

I was pretty bummed to miss BodyPump and other workouts because of a migraine. But I decided I should be nice to my body while it fought off that pain.

As always, be sure to check out Sunday Sweats posts from Holly and Christy.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

This & That 8/24

:: The other day, I heard "Dirty Dancing" was 30 years old. Unreal. Of course, I had to go home and watch it that night. This movie could never be made in 2017. And while I didn't hate "Havana Nights," I'm OK if they don't make another adaptation.

:: I like trying things other bloggers recommend. Earlier this month, I bought a Turbie Twist after reading Ricci's post about her curly hair routine. So far, I love them!

:: The other day, I did something I've done maybe twice in my adult life -- I left work early because I didn't feel well. What started out as a slight headache in the morning blossomed into a massive pain that went from forehead to the nape of the neck. It felt like someone had driven an ice pick through my head. On top of that, I had nausea and shakiness. And Sean said I looked really white. I tried to power through the day, but ended up packing it up at 12:30. I'm pretty sure I experienced my first migraine. And hopefully my last. That was terrible.

:: Have I mentioned lately how much I love powder dip manicures? Here's what mine currently looks like after four weeks. FOUR WEEKS. I'm getting it re-done this weekend, but man, I love how long it lasted.

:: My Monday ended with a double rainbow. Seriously, how beautiful is this? The picture really doesn't adequately capture how VIVID the colors were in the bottom rainbow.

What's new with you this week?

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Advice for my "niece" and other young ones

A lot of my friends have kids. This definitely changes the friendship a bit, but it's not a bad thing. I get to be an honorary aunt to all these little girls and boys. It's fun watching them grow and getting to play a small role in their lives.

When one of my nieces celebrated her first birthday, her parents requested that in lieu of gifts, we each write a letter to the birthday girl. The letters will be kept safe until she turns 13, at which point she'll open them. I took this assignment very seriously and penned what I hope will be perceived as a thoughtful letter. Then again, she'll be a teenager, so who knows.
Within the letter, I decided to share a few snippets of advice. I thought it could appeal and apply to all littles, so I'm sharing them here.

-- Chase your passion. Your dad might want you to play sports. Your mom might want you to be a dancer. Don't be afraid to try both. Or explore something different altogether. 

-- When you get your heart broken, let yourself feel whatever it is you're feeling. And then only dwell on it long enough to learn from it. Every crack is a chance to see what it is you really want and what is really meant for you. Once you figure that out, go out and find it.

-- Spend time with your grandmas and grandpas. You are lucky to have so many of them. When you get older, you will treasure the time you had with them.

-- You might not think your parents understand you or what you're going through, but believe me, they do. They've been through it all. And any hurt you're feeling, they're feeling it too. They want what's best for you and will always have your back. Always. (And so will I.)

-- You are strong, gifted, smart, and so very loved. Never let anyone make you doubt any of these things.

What advice would you give to the littles in your life?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Currently: August 2017

Sipping on ... water with Mio Energy. It gives me a break from plain old water without a ton of sugar.

Snacking on ... grape tomatoes. They're a favorite. I might have to get a plant for my house next year.

Listening to ... a few different running podcasts. I'm really loving "Run, Selfie, Repeat" and I was excited to see "Run, Eat, Repeat" entered the podcast world as well.

Reading ... "We Never Asked for Wings" by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. It's a heavier book from the ones I ran through in July. So it's taking me a little longer to get through it.

Happy about ... my new-to-me car. My mom bought a new car and gifted her old one to me. By old, I mean a 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport with 48K miles on it. It's a step up from my 2009 Lancer, although it was kind of sad leaving Ribbie (my car) behind. That was my first brand new car ever and we went through a lot and to a lot of places together. I'm going to miss her. My parents kept her, so I'll still get to visit.

Worrying about ... money. Always. Weddings are expensive. Even though we're trying to keep it simple and casual, all the little things really add up.

Looking forward to ... seeing "The Princess Bride" at Flix with Sean on Thursday night. It's one of his favorite movies. And, believe it or not, we have not yet been to a movie together. So that'll be fun. We're also going to a bridal fair this weekend. Can you say cake samples?!?

What's up with you lately?

Monday, August 21, 2017

Music Monday: Rachel Platten - "Broken Glass"

Rachel broke onto the scene with "Fight Song" and followed it up with "Stand by You." She's becoming the girl best known for powerful motivational songs. I don't think she's too mad about that. I know I'm not. Her songs are some of the best to turn on on a bad day or during a workout. Her latest fits right in.

According to an essay published on Refinery 29, Rachel wrote this song as an homage to people who come together for good.  It also serves as a testimony to her own stubborn pursuit in the tough music business.

She's been one of my favorites for a while. I'm anxious to see what's next from her.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sunday Sweats: Am I half-crazy ... again?

I've been so inspired by following Holly's posts about her running and training. A few weeks ago, she notched a PR. I was so happy for her. I know how hard she's worked and trained. And I know how it feels to crush a goal.

I completed my first 13.1 race in October 2014. I remember the rush of crossing the finish line at the end. I remember the pride in wearing my medal around all day. I also remember how burned out I got during the training. I felt like all I did was run, sleep, and work.

Despite the training memories, I'm starting to get the itch to do another half-marathon.

The one I'm eyeing is next May.

That gives me plenty of time to prepare. I trained for my first half in 16 weeks. I could definitely do that for this one. I'd have to do a lot of my early training indoors on a treadmill, but I'd be able to get outside late in the training, which is when the longer runs come into play.

But ... I'll also be getting married in June. A month later. Is it a terrible idea to train for a marathon during the last stretch of wedding planning? Or could it actually be good for me to have an escape from wedding madness (running)? I didn't actually lose any weight the last time I trained for a half, so I wouldn't need to worry about it messing with sizing for my dress. I might have to contemplate weird tan lines though.

Am I (half) crazy to be considering another half? Especially one so close to my wedding?


Last week's workouts
Sunday - Off ... but I did walk about 10 miles at the fair
Monday - Boot Camp (30 mins)
Tuesday - WOD Strength (30 mins)
Wednesday - Off
Thursday - Warrior Strength (30 mins) + Outdoor run (30 mins)
Friday - BodyPump (60 mins)
Saturday - Outdoor run (40 mins)

As always, be sure to check out Sunday Sweats posts from Holly and Christy.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

This & That 8/17

:: I should probably be more consistent with my blogging, but I'm not sure I care. I enjoy my blog, but I don't want it to become another job or chore. I want it to remain the fun outlet it has been and is. So I'll just continue to blog when I feel like I have something to say. Even if that something is really a lot of nothing.

:: Sean and I went to the Iowa State Fair twice. Although that's probably being a big generous. Our first trip was an 11-hour adventure. The second one was only about an hour (we only got a half-day from job one and then he had to go to his second job). But I think we made the most of our time on the grounds. We ate lots of good food, bought bourbon barrel-aged syrup, saw a Pentatonix concert, met up with one of my college roommates, tasted some beers, and saw baby animals. Pretty much a win.
Some of my fair food: mini donuts, deep fried Oreos, & bacon brisket grilled cheese.
Baby animal alert (clockwise from top left): ostriches, goats, chickens, & ducks.

 :: I had fully intended to go to my favorite fitness class last night. But as the day wore on, I became more inclined to stay home for an evening of TV and reading. And that's what won. I've been so busy the last few weeks. It was nice to just have few quiet hours to myself. I think that's as important for my health and wellness as a workout.

:: I cannot find all the words I want to say about what happened in Charlottesville over the weekend. I've seen lots of articles, coverage, and even a short documentary about it in the last several days. I'm still in disbelief that people with such extreme hate exist. I just don't understand that way of thinking. I guess that's a good thing. All I know is I am very sad about the current state of our nation. We need to do better.

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