oh hey

Remember me?

I barely do either!

In the months since I last posted (July... embarrassing), we've done some traveling to the UK, dealt with a home robbery, and celebrated our 5-year anniversary! I want to say it's been super busy around here but that hasn't really been the case. I think I like to say I'm busy (sometimes I think I really AM busy) when really all I'm doing is making turkey stock (watching a pot boil) and gasping aloud on the couch whilst reading about some other character's death in the "Game of Thrones" series. I know. My life is really exciting!

In other news, I've been able to knock out some items on my 100 List - see, I accomplish things. So I'll be back, and hopefully not six months from now!

#18: Attend my 10-year high school reunion

Well… 10 years went by pretty quick.  Not sure how I feel about that. We flew to Colorado at the end of June to hit up my 10-year reunion and get in some family time. Second time to Colorado in two months! That must be some sort of record since college. Since there was a snowstorm in May while I was there, I hoped for some great weather and my wish was granted! It was absolutely gorgeous the whole time. This was also Mark’s first time to Colorado in the summer. I KNOW. How is that even possible? Many of his trips have looked something like this:

I kept telling him, Mark, it’s SO NICE in the summer! Like SO NICE. Now he can finally believe me. I wanted to go to the mountains at least once but the weekend proved a little too busy, plus the weather didn’t look that great up there anyway. On Friday I got to have breakfast with a friend of mine and visit her house in Denver. One part of growing up that I’ve really enjoyed is seeing childhood friends create lives and families of their own. I don’t know why I find it so interesting; I guess I just think back to third grade and even though my friends are 28, I can still see the 8-year-olds in them! Friday night we went out with Richard to a couple of bars in downtown Denver, one of which had live music. And there was a thunderstorm! We don’t get those very often in the northwest.

The next day we headed to Greeley for the reunion. It was a small turnout – eight people (out of a class of 26) plus spouses and kids. There were more kids than there were graduates! Even though it was small, I really enjoyed getting to visit with the friends who came. A couple I hadn’t seen in at least eight years. We held the event at a park so people could come and go and bring their families if they wanted. It worked perfectly – kids had room to run around while their parents chatted and caught up.

After the reunion was over, we headed back to my mom’s place to have dinner with her and my uncle. The original plan was to stay the night in Greeley and go back to Denver on Sunday but it ended up being easier to just go back to Denver with Richard on Saturday night.

On Sunday Richard took us to the most delicious Creole café for brunch! It seemed very popular (tons of people outside waiting) but it didn’t take long to get a seat. I had the Cajun breakfast, comprising poached eggs (I GOTTA start poaching me some eggs), red beans with meat, potatoes, and the most amazing biscuit you’ve ever tasted. If you’re in Denver (they also apparently have locations in Fort Collins and Boulder), you have to go! Reasonably priced, too.

I had a great time in my homeland! My friend is going back to Denver for her high school reunion next weekend and I want to stow away… maybe I will.

#9: Attend soccer matches in South America and Europe

When we visited Florence last year we had the unique opportunity to attend a soccer match of Italy’s top division, Serie A. We arrived in Florence around 11 a.m. on a Sunday morning, plenty of time to arrange transportation to the afternoon match. We stayed in the apartment of a local girl, who we found on Airbnb (I should write a post on our experiences using this website). She was a great host, especially when it came to helping us find the ticket office by bus. Nothing Google can’t solve but it’s nice to have a local on your side! Transportation was so easy – hop on a local bus and end up at the ticket office. The line for tickets to the match was already out the door. We waited in the group outside for a while before finally being let inside the office – where we saw a sign that said that passports were required to buy tickets and ours were back at the apartment. Luckily we had just enough time to run out of the office and catch the bus back to the apartment, grab the passports, get back to the ticket office, wait in an even LONGER line and get our tickets all before the game started.

Waiting in line was… interesting. A guy cut in line near us and someone noticed and got angry. I have no idea what was being said but I have to tell you it was quite the experience being the only tourists in a group of locals! Very entertaining.

Fiorentina is the local team of Florence but I don’t remember who they played. It was a beautiful day for a match! I loved being able to see the rolling hills outside the stadium. I highly recommend going to a local event like this as a tourist. It’s a good opportunity to get away from the typical touristy haunts and rub shoulders with the locals. It was easily one of my favorite experiences of our whole trip.

Some differences between an Italian stadium and an American stadium:
  • The visitors’ section was literally fenced in by sturdy plastic, presumably so the home fans can’t throw objects at the visitors? Or maybe it’s the other way around?
  • No alcohol in sight – it’s prohibited within the stadium.
  • As I mentioned earlier, you need a passport to buy a ticket. I think Mark said this makes it easier to keep the rabble-rousers out if they’ve caused trouble before. Your identity can be tracked.
All in all, very fun. Does anyone have any recommendations of non-touristy experiences during their travels? I’m thinking local markets and the like, anything that gets you into the heart of the culture!

A 100 List Update

I was browsing my 100 List the other day and I think it’s about time I updated it! I believe it’s been two years or so since I came up with it and after learning more about myself, there are some changes I need to make.

#9: Attend soccer matches in South America, Africa, and Europe

I suppose I shouldn’t close the door on Africa, but I was probably the most motivated to visit when my friend Nicole lived there for about two years. She’s now back in Seattle and since we didn’t take the opportunity to go when she was there, it’s not high on our priority list now. So I’m now only including South America and Europe. And actually, I’ve already fulfilled Europe. I can’t believe I forgot to post on it! That post is forthcoming.

#16: Own a cat

Cats are OK, I guess. But our neighbor has three of them and while I don’t hate them by any means, they track dirt all over the car, poop in our yard, and creep me out by peering into our basement windows when I least expect them. Friends may swear by how sweet their kitty is, but what’s to stop them from ripping up the leather couch or scratching my beautiful (yes, I love it more than I should) dining room table? It’s just too risky. I know I can train dogs but a cat is more of a loose cannon. I’m changing #16 to re-painting the kitchen.

#32: Own a Newfoundland, like in Peter Pan

Now that I’ve done research on the type of dog I want to own, I realize a Newfoundland wouldn’t be a good fit for me. They are too big and have way too much hair for me to handle. I want a dog who can run with me, and Newfoundlands would probably overheat. But I still think they’re cute! #32 is being simplified to owning a dog in general.

#62: Live in NYC at least once

Not saying this could never happen. But at this point it isn’t a realistic enough goal to focus on, so off it goes. #62 is now to create a gallery wall. But I’m kinda cheating because I already did this and just need to post about it… ha.

#93: Read through the list of Pulitzer-Prize winning nonfiction books

Well… I was going to change this to fiction instead of nonfiction but I think I’m just going to add the fiction winners also to #93. Because I like reading!

#74: Go to a stand-up comedy show

We actually went to a show with Mark’s sister and brother-in-law back in March! We went to see Adam Carolla at the Moore Theater in Seattle, which was a great venue for a comedy show. Adam was pretty entertaining and kept us laughing with his anecdotes and slideshows, like a rant on how every faucet knob in a hotel bathroom is different and why can’t they all be standardized (complete with pictures). I thought the end to his routine was very inspiring – he showed us his yearly income when he was starting out (lots of zeroes) and his income now (lots of zeroes but behind bigger numbers), proving that just because you come from very little doesn’t mean you can’t make something of yourself. He’s a prime example of someone who has worked very hard to be where he is and there’s nothing stopping you, either.

Yard work

Undoubtedly, the biggest task for a homeowner is yard work. Maybe every house is like this but I swear we seemed to find the house with the biggest area to keep up versus the square footage. I am not fond of yard work. I know there are people out there who are but I'm just not one of them. All that aside, it's really not too bad when you have clear goals (we're going to weed to HERE and then eat dinner) and gloves.

The picture above shows a patch of land behind our house that no one ever sees. Does that mean it doesn't exist? Sadly not. Even though no one sees it, we still get to keep it weeded. I don't remember what it looked like when we moved in last April but by THIS April, it looked like a greenbelt. See that small patch of weeds toward the back (technically the front) fence? Imagine weeds like that all the way up to the nearest window well. It was BAD. But after two sessions of weeding, it now looks like the above. We found all kinds of creepy crawlies who have hopefully found new homes NOT on our property (I "relocated" the slugs to our neighbor's yard... they're renters, they won't know) and it's nice to look out the office window (the one nearest the chimney) and not see a forest. I really wish I had taken a before picture because it's such a dramatic change but you'll just have to use your imagination.

Ahh yard work. It's painful at the time but you sure can see the fruits of your labor!

Running recap

Kelly, Della and me -- the hardcore runners of the family!
I went all public with my running resolutions here and wanted to give an update on them. I ran my third half-marathon a couple weeks ago in Portland, Oregon, my first Portland Rock ‘n Roll. I knew the two-hour goal was a long shot so I aimed for 2:10 instead, a 10-minute mile average. I didn’t quite make it in 2:10 but did manage 2:12, shaving off five minutes from last year’s time! Even though I was short of my goal, I was still pleased to have taken off minutes from my previous PR. And now I have about four weeks until my next half-marathon, my third time at the Seattle Rock ‘n Roll. Four weeks to take off two more minutes!

As for running four times a week? Well… I’ve been managing three. When we had our church small group on Mondays, I was able to easily run Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Now that we’ve been attending small group on Thursdays, I’ve had to switch my running schedule to Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. And let me tell you, it’s HARD to run on Fridays. We so often have plans that it’s pretty difficult to throw a run into the mix. But any other day would have me running three days in a row and I don’t think I’m strong enough for that. So right now I just have to be fine with not getting in that fourth run if that’s what happens. And that’s ok.

And the treadmill? Guys, I haven’t been to the gym in ages so I don’t think I’ve touched a treadmill since February. I got much better at braving the cold and rain and doing my winter runs at the local high school track, which meant I didn’t have to truck it to the gym to get in my running. So, that’s that. And that’s ok.

My new goal that I’ve been tracking is to run at least 50 miles each month. April saw 63 miles and May saw 52! May was the real shocker to me considering I took two weeks off running, one because I was in Colorado and another to “recover” from the half-marathon. I’m really getting my money’s worth out of these shoes of mine.

Sarah’s wedding weekend

Last weekend I drove to Spokane to participate in a friend’s wedding! I grew up with Sarah in my hometown of Greeley, Colorado and she was also in my wedding, along with two other girls we grew up with. Now that Sarah’s hitched, we’ve all been in each other’s weddings! Megan got married in 2006, I got married in 2008, then Breanna in 2012, and now Sarah in 2013. It’s the end of an era for us; I joked that we needed to find some more marriageable friends because the weddings have been a great excuse to get together. After all, who wants to be the one girl of the foursome who can’t make the wedding?

Sarah’s wedding was pretty convenient for me because Spokane is drivable – about four and a half hours from Seattle. I took the day off on Friday to make the drive and arrived at the venue just as everyone else was getting there to start setting up and decorating. After the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, I went to the airport to pick up Megan. We shared a room in Sarah’s apartment for the weekend and it brought back such great memories of sleepovers from middle school and high school. At one point I told Megan I felt like we were in her old room in Greeley and there should be glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling… and we should be listening to Sarah McLachlan. She asked if I remembered the hammock she strung up in her room and I had to confess I’d forgotten until now! As soon as she mentioned that I could remember a lazy summer day where we laid in the hammock and watched a war movie on her computer. Rough life, am I right? I miss summers.

The view from the Davenport.

I feel this picture perfectly captures Sarah's beautiful, loving spirit.

Saturday was a wonderful day spent with my friends. Sarah treated the bridesmaids (all 12 of us!) to brunch at the Davenport Hotel, a beautiful landmark of Spokane. If you’re ever in Spokane, you should check it out – the hotel has a ton of history behind it and had an interesting walking tour. Breanna, Megan and I explored it for a while and then went up to get ready with the rest of the girls. The wedding went off without a hitch and before I knew it, Sarah and Tom were getting ready to leave! My phone was in my purse most of the time so I didn’t get any good pictures of us – I know that Tom got a picture of all four of us on his phone though so we need to track that down. The wedding ended early enough that Breanna, her husband Johnny, Megan and I could go out afterward for a drink. We ended up at a bar called Fast Eddie’s, which seemed like a really popular place to be on Saturday night. We saw at least two limos drop off or pick up groups of people who looked like they were having way too much fun.

Breanna and Johnny

Me, Breanna, Megan

The next morning I woke up way too early (4 a.m.) to take Megan and two other girls to the airport. Someone asked me if I was going to head to Seattle after the airport run and I said, helllllll no! Heather’s got to get her beauty sleep! I think I would’ve been amped up for the first hour of that drive but might have had to pull over after that. Plus I’d already made plans with Breanna and Johnny to meet at Frank’s Diner for brunch. The restaurant is located in a converted sleeper car – really cute! Plus the food was great. And there was a ton of it!

Frank's Diner

This guy was my booth-mate. Yeah… kind of creepy. Funny story: we told the waitress we were in Spokane for a wedding. For some reason, she turned to me (the alone one) and said, “Oh congratulations!!” Which led to an awkward, oh not me, hahaha, our friend! Isn’t that weird? I mean, did she think I had left the new groom at home?

After brunch it was back on the road again. My visits with the girls always go by so fast!

New running shoes

I think I’m finally at a point where I can favorably offer an opinion of my new(er) Brooks running shoes. I recently bought a pair of Brooks Defyance 6 (and YES it bothers me that they spelled defiance this way – really, is anything gained by intentionally misspelling a word to use in a product name?) These are the newest iteration of my previous shoes and I’d liked those well enough to stick with the brand. I used my Defyance 5s for about a year until I started noticing the signs that they were wearing out – unusual aches and pains that I was reasonably sure I couldn’t attribute to normal exercise. To be honest, I was disappointed the shoes didn’t last longer but we all know how hard I am on clothes and such. Well, maybe only I know that – but take my word for it! For the record, I logged 297 miles in them before I switched over.

But when I did switch over, I thought maybe I’d made a mistake. The nagging pains continued and forced a weeklong break from running to figure out what was going on. My feet felt heavy and the shoes didn’t feel as I thought they should – we were not one with each other! However, six weeks after buying them and 13 runs later, I finally feel like they’re comfortable. Maybe it just took me that long to break them in? Whatever the reason, I’m relieved. I really didn’t want to have to try out another pair!

Space cadet

I don’t know what’s with my brain lately.

I locked myself out of the house on Tuesday after my run. But let me back up. Mark left for his soccer game around the same time I was leaving for my run and asked if I wanted him to leave the key to the house. Nope, I said, there’s one under the mat! I watched Mark leave as I stood there psyching myself up for the run. Then I decided I needed my hat. So I took the key from under the mat, unlocked the door, and grabbed my Mariners cap from downstairs. In case of rain. Without thinking, I left the key inside, locked the door and left. It never even dawned on me that I’d forgotten to put the key back until I returned from the run and picked up the mat for the key! Cue the sinking realization that I was stuck outside. On a positive note, our house is pretty hard to break into. Because I tried.

I didn’t have my phone or I might’ve called Mark’s sister for the spare key. I thought of going over to our neighbor’s house to wait inside but… let’s just say I wouldn’t wish post-run Heather on anyone besides immediate family. Plus it’s not like it was raining or anything. So I sat outside for 45 minutes waiting for Mark to get home from his game. And when he did, he said, “Why didn’t you walk over to Ingraham?” OF COURSE. I’d completely forgotten he told me his game was at a high school a 10-minute walk away. Come on brain, you’re really letting me down!

You know what the hardest part was? It wasn't the cold. It was the lack of entertainment! Speaking of someone who is addicted to her phone, being without my blogs/Pinterest/Facebook/Words With Friends was devastating. So I sat there and listened to my Caedmon's Call anthology playlist (yes... I have every Caedmon's Call album ever released and put them all into one big playlist) and quietly sang to myself. True story. Now I'm the weird neighbor.

Roll with it.

Sometimes you just can’t control it all and you have to let it go.

Last Friday I got off work at 2:15 so I could get home and hopefully be out the door and on the road to Vancouver by 3:15. We were going to a wedding at 7 and I figured (hoped) that would be enough time to make it from here to there. As the day would have it, Mark got off work late and we didn’t get out the door until closer to 3:45, which would’ve still been enough time had traffic been good. But no, traffic turned out to be awful. We ended up missing the ceremony altogether and arriving just as the wedding goers were moving to the reception area. We blended right in. ;)

Some lady in the bathroom as she and I were washing our hands: “Wasn’t that just a beautiful ceremony!”

Me: “Um… yes, yes, it sure was!”

When in doubt… agree?

I was originally upset when it became apparent we were going to be late. But hey, sometimes you just have to roll with the punches and accept the situation and move on! And I’ll be honest, I was much happier when I accepted that we were going to be late and heck, it was going to be all right. The wedding police weren’t going to be fining us at the door for missing the first 45 minutes. We got there for the cake and that’s a win in my book.

A shot at sewing, part 2

Last time we chatted, I mentioned I was taking in the sides of this blazer. I’m proud to report that I finished the other seam, re-hemmed the jacket, and it’s now as good as new! The second seam was easier to complete than the first, which boosted my confidence a little. I’ll be the first to say that this isn’t quality work by any means. I wouldn’t want anyone with experience to take a close look at the seams but I can at least say that I didn’t ruin it!

I’m still unsure on whether I’d do this again. I didn’t fail so that does help my case, but obviously a tailor would do a much better job. I definitely wouldn’t do an alteration on a full-priced item. Though actually, I wouldn’t buy a full-priced item that needed alterations anyway. Or even a full-priced item!

The cost of the alteration was pretty low, especially considering I’ll continue to use the tools I bought.
  • Mini seam ripper: $5
  • Dressmaker’s white pencil: $3 (DON’T BUY – it didn’t work for me)
  • White and blue marking pens: $5
Total: $13

And I think I had coupons so it was less than that. Win.

Taking a shot at sewing

I don’t know what possessed me to think I was up to the challenge of taking in the sides of a blazer but that’s what I’m currently trying to accomplish. I do own a sewing machine and know enough to be dangerous. Meaning I know enough to get myself into a mess but not enough to get myself out of one. HOWEVER. I’m halfway through my little project and can report that I have successfully taken in one seam without too much damage done!

I didn’t go into this without research but I’ve been struggling to find good tutorials on what I specifically wanted to do. I tried searching for videos and blogs with detailed instructions and pictures but couldn’t really find much. If anyone knows of any tutorials or good sewing websites, please show me the way! I tried to take pictures of how I took in the seam but I’ve been working on it at night and the lighting is terrible for pictures. Believe me, I tried. I’m hoping the second seam will go smoother than the first now that I basically (marginally) know what I’m doing.

It’s SCARY to take out a seam. Once you cut it apart, there’s no going back. I actually had to look up a video on how to use a seam ripper because I’d never used one before. I thought taking out a seam was straightforward but there are multiple ways to do it. I learned to be very careful because at one point I actually ripped through the delicate material (the jacket is made of crepe fabric). Luckily it was on the part of the fabric that was already taken in and hidden on the inside. Like I said… I know enough to be dangerous.

I’m on the fence on whether I’d embrace this undertaking again rather than taking my projects to a tailor (whom I now have MAD respect for). But I know if the rest of the jacket turns out positively then I’ll have more confidence to take on other alterations myself.

Here are some general observations on what has made this project easier yet also somewhat complicated.

Black fabric: The dark color is more forgiving when it comes to mistakes. I ran into some difficulty with my first seam when I got up to the top, where the sleeve attaches to the bodice. Obviously the seam had been sewn first, followed with the attaching of the sleeve. I was too scared to detach a portion of the sleeve so I tried to finish the rest of the seam by hand to avoid further unstitching and reattaching. I’m sure pro sewers would flinch if I showed them my work but since the jacket is black and the area is in a more hidden spot, no one can really tell. The disadvantage to black fabric is that the stitches are much harder to see. My sewing area must not have been lit enough because I was really struggling to see the tiny stitches I needed to remove.

Thinner, unlined fabric: My jacket is thinner than most blazers because it’s made of a light crepe material.  I had no problem feeding the material through, but the delicate nature of the fabric was more prone to ripping. One of the reasons I wanted to attempt this alteration myself was because the jacket is unlined, making the seam much easier to access. Linings are awesome but they do complicate things!

Tips are appreciated if you have any!

Curtains: to make or not to make?

I had grand plans of making my own curtains for all of about 48 hours. I had done SO much research on how to sew them, add a lining, or even make a no-sew version if I wanted. I was in a crafty mood and I knew I had a short window to take advantage of it, or I’d move on to other grand plans. That’s kind of my M.O. I know now to take advantage of my moods because who knows how long they will stay! So I went to Joann’s in search of fabric and with a 40% off one item coupon on my phone. There I had the depressing realization that fabric, especially the home décor kinds I was interested in, is certainly not cheap. Even at 40% off, making my own curtains wasn’t a bargain. Especially when you consider that you can get pretty cute curtains at Target or West Elm for equal the price or even less than what it would cost to make yourself. But Heather, you may ask, can you really put a price on something you make with your own two hands? Isn’t the accomplishment worth something? Sure, it can be. But I think it depends on the cost difference, especially when you factor in the time spent.

I realize it’s a little unfair to make comparisons to Target prices, but I want to be realistic in that Target is one of the first places I would go to search for housewares like this (and no, they’re not paying me).

Take these curtains from Target, currently on sale at $23.79 per panel.
I knew I wanted something similar to this color scheme -- a little cream, a little yellow. Neutral, if you will. So I went to Joann's to check out fabric. I can't remember exactly what print I was looking at, only that the brand was Waverly and that the colors were similar. Something like this, which I found on Joann's website: 

How much do you think this would cost per yard? Naive Heather would've thought, what, $10 a yard? Try $59.99. PER YARD. And fine, it was on sale for 40% off. But that'll still run you $35.99 per yard, and I needed about five yards per window. $180 curtains were not in my budget, especially when it would've taken me at least a couple hours to iron and sew everything (and that's highly optimistic).

I know you can find cheaper fabric. But isn't the point of making your own curtains getting to choose exactly what you want? And apparently my tastes run expensive. But don't worry, my hopes were dashed for all of about a minute. I flew the white flag and ended up at Target, like I usually do.

And done.
They took a while to grow on me (all patterns do) but now I think I love them. I don't know what it is about me that finds it so hard to commit to housewares. I just keep thinking that something better will come along (a cuter pattern, a better sale) and it keeps me from pulling the trigger. But sometimes I find that you just have to bring something home and put it up for a while to see how it melds with your space. As I like to say, you can always take it back!

Nail art!

I treated myself for my birthday to a beauty product I’d never bought before because of the price. And that price, folks, is $10. No cheapy here! Right. You’ll see what I mean, though. One of the new trends in nail polish is a nail polish strip – like a decal – you can adhere to your nails. They’re often patterned, giving you a nail art look that appears as if you spent hours on it. But really, you peel off the sticker, stick it on your nails, and file off the excess. BAM, instant nail art. I tried Essie Sleek Sticks, but you can get this type of product from a few other brands too like OPI and Sally Hansen.

The pros are strong. You don’t need base coat or top coat, which saves time. The stickers are obviously dry to the touch, which means you don’t have to sit around waving your hands and saying things like, “Can you grab that for me? My nails are wet.” That, in my book, is a huge plus. Removal is also easy: they peel right off. But strong as these pros are, they can’t make up for the big detractor.

Nail strips are obviously only a one-time use, and packages only come with enough strips for one application. At $10 a pop, there’s not enough bang for your buck to make nail strips a regular in my nail rotation. Especially when you consider you can buy a bottle of polish for the same price (or perhaps two) that will last you years. For special occasions though, I can totally see myself buying these again! The factor that does help justify the price are the designs: you’d have to put a lot of work into creating these nail looks yourself. If you think of it as a manicure (minus the spa treatment and convenience of having someone else do it for you…) then you can sort of justify the price. Sort of. But it’s a fun treat! A word of caution though: your patterned nails will be very distracting! Really, I can’t look at my keyboard without admiring the cool lace design I’ve currently got on my tips.


We saved our maps from Rome and and Venice for framing purposes, though our trip was five months ago and I’ve just now gotten around to popping one of the maps in a frame. I really love the idea of framing maps – I think it’s such a cute (and cheap) way to decorate, especially if the maps mean something to you. Even if they don’t, they still look great!

I found this image on Pinterest and like the idea but I didn’t want to use one of our Italy maps since I’d have to cut out part of the map. I’m pretty commitment-phobic when it comes to cutting anything… what if I don’t like it? I can’t hit “undo” in real life!

I put our map of Rome in a 5”x7” frame and hung it in our hallway.

Now every time we pass it I can remember the Colosseum and that rainy, rainy day.


I hope everyone else also has the day off! I must say, three day weekends should be standard, don't you think? I for one feel very relaxed! Though that might have more to do with my girl's day in on Saturday. Two of Mark's friends from Portland drove up for the weekend and had a guy's day out while I spent a much needed day inside resting. I came down with a slight cold last week so I knew I didn't want to be out and about in the elements on Saturday.

So I slept in until 10:30 and then caught up on six episodes of my favorite show at the moment, Gossip Girl. My sister-in-law got me into it and I'm so glad she did. I never knew I could care so much about catty rich girls in New York City. :) Watching it is a great escape for me and I'm over halfway done with the series thanks to my binge-watching. I also gave myself a manicure and a pedicure on Saturday, and felt completely guiltless about ignoring any and all housework. Basically... it was amazing. Then the guys came back and we watched a documentary on a sushi chef in Japan, went to dinner at Cactus in South Lake Union, and then watched the first half of a miniseries called "Treasure Island," which I'd totally recommend though I fell asleep through most of it (how is that possible... I did nothing on Saturday!) Mark and I actually finished the miniseries last night (there's only two episodes) and I thought it was very well done.

The added benefit to a day of complete relaxation? After Mark's friends left on Sunday, I totally powered through a bunch of housework and had energy to spare. Give yourself the time off you need and you'll come back full throttle! I had been planning on making ribs for Sunday dinner but the recipe I was planning on using called for stewing them in the crockpot for 11-12 hours and I completely forgot to prepare. I guess my day off cleared my mind so much I forgot I had a plan for Sunday. So I found a new ribs recipe -- Ina Garten's beef short ribs -- and set off to the store for a leek and a fennel bulb. I'd never bought fennel before so I didn't really know what it looked like, but I'd heard of it so I thought it would be easy enough to find. Two passes down the produce line later, I was convinced that maybe Safeway didn't have fennel. I'd seen something called anise that I thought could have been fennel (it came in a bulb, like fennel), but wouldn't they have just called it fennel? So I asked for help but the worker didn't know what fennel looked like either. She went to the produce manager who came out to tell me that they in fact didn't have fennel. Argh. So I drove down the road to Haggen's, a different grocery store, because I still needed this darn fennel. There I found the same vegetable that had been labeled just as anise at Safeway, only at Haggen's it was labeled "anise fennel bulb." I asked the produce guy if that was indeed fennel (I'm sure he thought I couldn't read) and he answered affirmatively. Well, if I'd have KNOWN that's what fennel was also called, I would've just gotten it at Safeway!

I guess the moral of the story is to not trust the Safeway produce manager? Anyway, bulb of fennel finally in hand, I went home and prepared what turned out to be some truly delicious ribs (I called it Mark's Valentine's Day dinner). That Ina Garten knows what she's talking about. I also learned that when the recipe tells you to tie up the fresh herbs with kitchen twine, you should probably use kitchen twine. I didn't have any so I used a long sprig of thyme to tie them up (and yes, I thought I was a genius) but it didn't keep the herbs together in the end. So I had to fish most of them out by hand. Lesson learned.

Hanging out with da 'mill

Remember when I said that I wanted to make friends with my nemesis, the treadmill? While we aren’t besties by any means, I think we’ve reached a truce of sorts. I lasted 45 stinkin’ (no really, I was gross) minutes on that thing (first time ever making it that long) and didn’t once slow to a walk, which was my goal. I came up with some changes to my thinking that, I think, got me through it.

1. It’s all in my head. For me, the treadmill is all mental. Win the battle in your head, win the battle on the treadmill. I convinced myself that my brain was telling me that I was too hot and too tired but that my body was, in reality, doing just fine.  Studies show that despite what your brain tells you, it’s physically easier to run on a treadmill rather than outside. Since I have no problem running outside, the treadmill shouldn’t feel so hard. I’m not saying you shouldn’t listen to your body though – I’ll touch on that later.

2. Do what it takes to make it happen. I used to think that if I couldn’t sustain my goal pace then I might as well just take a break and walk. This runs counter to my jogs outside, where my motto is NEVER WALK UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, from which I rarely deviate. If I can do it outside (and for much longer), which the experts say is technically harder, why can’t I do it on the machine? For me, the solution was swallowing my pride and slowing to a more relaxed pace (10:20 min/mile) in order to keep myself from walking. It drives me a little nuts to intentionally slow but I have to ask myself the question, what is my goal here? If my goal here is to just keep running for 45 minutes, then there’s no shame in taking steps to meet that goal, even if it means my pace is slower.

3. Chunk it. I started out for 15 minutes at a 10:00/mile pace and spent 10 minutes in the middle at a 9:30 pace, intending to spend the remaining 20 minutes back at 10:00/mile. But with 10 minutes to go, I decided I could no longer sustain a 10:00/mile pace and slowed to 10:20/mile. And then I took it minute by minute. A minute would go by and I’d reassess. Do I need to slow down? How can I focus better to get through this next minute? One minute is easier to tackle than 10!

And before I knew it (not really… I was very aware) I was done. And I felt a kinship with the treadmill, like we’d found a mutual respect for each other. Plus I always love being the one who’s been on the treadmill the longest. Or is that just me being competitive? Whatever works!


I was in a mood last night. A productive mood!

First up was the almond butter. Seriously people, I don’t know why I don’t make this all the time. It’s so easy. Just pour in some raw almonds into a food processor and press ON. Then wait about 12 minutes; the almonds go through stages of releasing their oils so patience is key. In the first few minutes you start to think that maybe processing isn’t going to work because the almonds get crumbly for a while, but then it starts getting creamy and oily and all is right with the world. THEN the butter starts to get crumbly again and you wonder where you went wrong and if you should’ve quit while you were ahead. And just when you think the processor might just up and die on you (mine starts to get hot), the butter turns creamy again. So there you go: make it and love it.

Then I decided that I needed to do something with the leftover quinoa and brown rice I made earlier in the week. I thought maybe something Greek inspired that I could eat on top of a salad for lunch this week. So I chopped up half a red bell pepper, halved some cherry tomatoes, and tossed in a spoonful of herbed feta and mixed everything along with some balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper. The result is a flavorful salad that I can’t wait to enjoy for lunch today. I thought after the fact that chopped red onion would’ve been a nice add – next time!

That salad was inspired by a trip to Pasta and Co., a local joint I can only describe as a type of deli (actually the website calls it gourmet take-out, a good description), though whatever you buy they can plate and serve to you in-store if you would like, as they have some seating for customers. They have all kinds of salads: pasta salads, vegetable salads, rice salads, you name it! Plus, there are free samples everywhere: yesterday we sampled two different cheeses, a house-made granola, and the best white chocolate raspberry cheesecake I’ve ever had. Really, if you’re in Seattle (or Bellevue), you’ve got to go!

Running resolutions

This March will mark my four-year anniversary of the month I started running recreationally to prepare for my first half-marathon. After that race, I told anyone who would listen that I would NEVER EVER do that again.

I ate my words last year and logged a second half-marathon, and even shaved off 26 minutes from my time. I also enjoyed it a heck of a lot more, and upped my running days from twice a week in 2009 to three times a week to prep for the race.

2013: I’m signed up for not one but TWO half-marathons, within a month of each other! The race in June is the Rock n’ Roll, the same one I’ve done twice before. The race in May is the Rock n’ Roll in Portland, which I’m especially excited for since it’ll be a new course and location. And I have a goal: I want 2013 to be the year I break two hours in my half-marathon time. It’s a lofty goal. My first half-marathon time was 2:43 and my second was 2:17. So if I aim for a repeat of 2012 and shave off another 26 minutes, I’d for sure break two hours. Never mind the fact that breaking two hours will require running near 9-minute miles, which I’ve never actually accomplished before (well, once… for only one mile). So I’ve got my work cut out for me.

Since the addition of a third day of running helped greatly last year, I’ve decided to add a fourth after listening to advice from my running co-workers and searching online for tips on breaking the two-hour barrier. I also want to utilize the high school track near our house for speed work and make friends with my nemesis, the treadmill. We’ll see how THAT goes.

Monday Monday

So… I feel like Mondays are like an eyebrow wax. Just when you get all comfy and relaxed, you’re forced BACK TO REALITY when someone rips off half your face. And as if it isn’t bad enough to have someone armed with hot wax tearing out those stragglers, THEN they have to go back over and tweeze. Just like those Monday morning projects. It’s bad enough that you get dragged out of bed at an absurd hour but then you get slammed with all the little things that cropped up over the weekend.

At least an eyebrow wax cleans up my face.

An upside to Mondays: I get back to my healthy lunches! We continued our Sunday afternoon football tradition of ordering wings and fries with our friends during the Seahawks game, so I was ready for some healthy food today. Today’s lunch was a black bean burger (Morningstar), brown rice topped with some sriracha hot sauce, and steamed green beans. Lunch got healthified.

On my bookshelf

I’ve been a library fanatic lately! Soon they’ll know me by name. At least, they would if I didn’t scan out my items myself since I know my library card number by heart. Nerd.

“Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card

This is a science fiction novel about a boy in a military school in a future where the human race has successfully fought against an alien race for survival. This is a much different type of book than I usually read – according to Wikipedia, this book is suggested reading for the United States Marine Corps. But I read it because the movie will be coming out in November and I wanted to be able to compare the two (nerd). I hate to make this distinction but it’s undoubtedly a “boy” book – lots of military strategy and violence. I’d recommend it if you like science fiction but if you don’t, you might want to wait for the movie. Perhaps my imagination isn’t as geared toward science fiction but I had a hard time imagining some of the scenes in the book so I’m curious how the movie will do. It will star Asa Butterfield (“Hugo”) and Harrison Ford, so hopes are high!

“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coehlo

What a gem of a book. I LOVED it. This novel is short and reads like a parable. It’s about a shepherd in Spain but it’s really about YOU. The boy learns throughout the book to pursue his personal dream, overcoming obstacles with the help of a mentor, a man known as the alchemist. I definitely recommend this book and think everyone should read it. It’s inspiring.

“White Jacket Required” by Jenna Weber

Jenna is one of my favorite bloggers and runs the site Eat Live Run. I’ve tried a few of her recipes including this white chicken chili, chicken and biscuits to fix your life, and chicken parmesan with a twist and I’ve loved them all! Jenna seems so genuine and wonderful that I knew I had to read her memoir. I loved the behind-the-scenes look at her culinary school experience – I’ve always wondered what culinary school was like. Believe me, this girl knows her way around food! It makes me trust her recipes even more.

What is everyone else reading? I love hearing suggestions!

My favorite hair products

Favorite hair products

Do you ever look back at a period in your life and think, “Man, if I knew then what I know now…” Call me crazy, but I wish I knew in high school what I know now about how to control curly hair. I could’ve told you that the secret wasn’t so much in the product, though the product does make a difference. The secret is in the hardware. My first week at college changed my life. My hair’s life, that is. My roommate introduced me to a tool called a diffuser: a cone-shaped hunk of plastic that attaches onto the end of the blow dryer and softens and redirects the air flow so your delicate curls don’t get blasted (and frizzed) by a jet stream of air. The only problem with diffusers is they aren’t exactly travel-friendly because they’re oddly shaped and rather large. But now I can’t do without! Blow-drying my hair straight in the morning can easily take 40 minutes while diffusing it takes only 10 minutes. More time for make-up. ;)

Curls still need some type of styling product though, and this is where the trial and error begins. Believe me, I’ve spent a bundle through my life trying to find the product that works for me. L’Oreal, Pantene, Dove, Herbal Essences, trust me, I’ve tried them all! My go-to curl products in college were a mousse and a curl setting spray by a brand called Got2Be. They reformulated their products though and removed them from stores for a while. I can find them online but I don’t care enough to pay for shipping, plus I’m nervous that the reformulation won’t be as good as I remember. If I could find the products in stores again then I might try them out again! The product I’ve been using for a couple years is actually by TRESemmé. I don’t know why I find that so surprising; maybe because it took me several years to try any product by TRESemmé so I was surprised when the first try hit it out of the park! I use TRESemmé’s Flawless Curls Mousse and love it – my hair isn’t weighed down and the curls are defined. I also love TRESemmé’s Ultra Fine Mist Hair Spray – it’s very light and doesn’t feel like it’s coating my hair or making it heavy.

And now for the secret weapon. This product is the SECRET to looking like you just got your hair cut when you actually haven’t been in four months. I don’t know how it works but Redken Smooth Down Butter Treat is a miracle worker. My hair gets pretty tangled after a shower, even after using a regular conditioner. But if I apply and leave on the Butter Treat for even just one minute, I can get a comb through with no problems. Plus it keeps the ends strong, smooth, and shiny. This WILL weigh down your hair if you use too much, so I avoid the roots and put it on the lower half of my hair and concentrate on the ends. You can either apply it in the shower and rinse it out, like a regular conditioner, or use it as a leave-in conditioner, which is how I choose to use it. Note: on a quick search for an image of this product, I found that Redken has DISCONTINUED THIS PRODUCT. I’ll believe it when I can’t find it in stores anymore but seriously, why this one?? The site says another line, Smooth Lock, has taken its place, so perhaps I’ll have to give the new product a go.

As for shampoos, I’m not particularly loyal to any one brand. I used to be a diehard for Dove but I think I used it for so long that one day my hair revolted and decided Dove didn’t work for me anymore. I’ve lately been sweet on Redken’s Full and Soft shampoo but I wouldn’t say it’s crazy awesome or anything. Ulta seems to always have sales where you can get the huge bottles for half off, and those bottles last me ages. I recently tried a new-to-me brand called Abba; they make sulfate-free and paraben-free products that are supposedly healthier for your hair. I really liked it but if you can't find it on sale then it's a little pricey for me.

Any recommendations out there for products or brands you like?

#34: See the Nutcracker in Seattle

Mark surprised me with tickets to see the Pacific Northwest Ballet's performance of the Nutcracker here in Seattle! I've been wanting to see this for YEARS because I was obsessed with the music of the Nutcracker as a child. I had a tape of the music that I listened to every night when I went to bed. Really, every night. I actually wore out the tape because I listened to it so much. My favorite Christmas special on TV as a kid was "Care Bear Nutcracker," where the Care Bears have to go into Toyland and save Christmas (I think) and the storyline is based on the Nutcracker. I tried to find it on YouTube but I could only find a clip of the last four minutes and MAN is it cheesy. But I loved it.

Back to the Nutcracker in Seattle: what a beautiful performance! The orchestra was amazing and the show was everything I thought it would be. Of course, I forgot to take the camera so we didn't get any pictures except a blurry cell phone shot that I'll spare you from seeing. Afterward we went to a Thai restaurant in lower Queen Anne called Bahn Thai where I had some stellar noodle kee mao. You should try it: noodles and TONS of vegetables in a spicy, salty sauce. Delicious.