Kelly Clarkson – Catch My Breath

I don’t think I will ever stop loving Kelly Clarkson. Not sure what that says about me, but oh well 🙂


December 18, 2012 at 5:05 pm Leave a comment

A Birthday & Christmas-Part One

This weekend, we continued to celebrate M’s birthday and also had our first Christmas celebration of the year. Yay!

On Friday, M and I went to dinner at Lolita, and it was just as delicious as we remembered from his birthday dinner last year. We started with the eggplant dip as an appetizer, and this was easily my favorite part of the meal. Sooo good. For the main course, I ordered the Roasted Chicken with a side of polenta, and M got the Duck Confil with a side of rapini.  Yum-o.

On Saturday, I woke up nice and early to head to the West Side Market before the crowds. I love waking up when it seems like no one else is awake. I purchased some dried fruit as a $10 gift for our Christmas Part One, and some other goods for us at home.

After several other activities, M and I headed to the East Side in mid-afternoon for a bit more Christmas shopping, including our second $10 from The Gourmet Soap Market in Willoughby (such a great shop!). We also stopped at M’s brother’s house to attempt to take Christmas pictures of our nieces. This did not go as well as planned. The girls were just not in the  mood. (Still cute though). M managed to get one good picture though, which is really all you need, right?

Then it was time for Christmas Part One. This was with M’s dad’s family – really just two of his dad’s siblings, as the parents live in Florida, and the rest of the family is scattered as well. It was a very fun evening, and definitely put me in a festive mood. We each had success in the $10 gift game – I got a water bottle and M got a box cutter (or something like that), so that was great, too! Definitely made me excited for the rest of our Christmas activities, which already start one week from today!

Yesterday, we went to M’s Grandma’s and celebrated M’s birthday there. The last day of his birthday week! 🙂 We had delicious food and it was pretty relaxing, even though I got picked to play hide and seek (a game I do not enjoy) with the nieces. But I don’t mind playing with them in general, so it was fine 🙂

So, fun and celebratory weekend! Time to settle into the usual routines, for this week anyway, before a nice break from work and more Christmas celebrations. Phew!

December 17, 2012 at 2:19 pm Leave a comment

Registered: Cleveland Half-Marathon

Yesterday, I officially registered for the 2013 Cleveland Half-Marathon. I had been planning to run it for awhile, but it’s different when you actually register for it. The event is May 19 – they also have a full marathon, a 10K, and a 5K.

It’s three weeks after my wedding.

Does that make me a crazy person? Probably.

But I really want to run a half-marathon, since I’ve only run a full one (one sentence I never thought I would say?). And I want to run another full one this fall (probably the Towpath again).

So May seemed like a good time to complete a half. And, since things will be crazy, I just created a training schedule that works for me. By this I mean it starts earlier than it otherwise would (Feb. 4) and I made the weekend of my shower and a week around the wedding off-time. I did this for the marathon during our vacation to Oregon (i.e did not run for those 10 or so days), which was about 3 weeks before the run, so I am comfortable with the schedule.

And, the wedding comes before trying to meet a certain time goal. I am approaching this half-marathon with a “just want to finish” attitude, which should suit me fine.

So, I am feeling good about this new challenge. And hopefully it will be an opportunity to relieve stress and distract my brain from the wedding.

December 14, 2012 at 3:37 pm Leave a comment

Tillamook Cheese.

As I mentioned yesterday, I had been waiting for M’s birthday present to be delivered. It came, I wrapped it, and then I had to wait and wait and wait for M to get home to open it. (Adult lesson: Sometimes the anticipation of someone opening a gift you bought them  – especially a really awesome one, ahem – is more than the receiver feels waiting to open it.)

Well, M seemed really happy with his gift, and genuinely surprised (yay!).

What was it?

Tillamook cheeseCheddar and Pepper Jack. And a t-shirt (think Grilled Cheese if you click to view the shirt and are confused).

So. Why on earth did I get cheese and a cheese-themed t-shirt  for M as a birthday gift?

Well, in September, we took a really epic vacation to Oregon. Seriously: epic. We flew into Portland, rented a car, and then proceeded to make a big loop – checking out the Columbia River Gorge, Mt. Hood, the city of Bend, Mt. Bachelor, CRATER LAKE, the Pacific Ocean, Cannon Beach, etc., etc., etc. along the way. One of our stops – on the coast – was the Tillamook cheese factory. We toured the facility and, although we really wanted tons of cheese to take home, settled on very small, individual servings of cheese – a couple each – since we were traveling and couldn’t keep perishable items on us. Then we drove a little longer up the coast, until we came to a lookout (views of the ocean) where we could pull off and have lunch, cheese included.

We lunched like this a couple of times, and I have fond memories of this. Sitting in the car, munching on some lunch items, looking at the ocean, hanging out – just being together. Especially the day with the Tillamook cheese, because boy is it good. Like, seriously good.

Very soon after this (mid-September), I knew I would be ordering some cheese for M’s birthday. Partly because it’s delicious, but also because it holds special meaning for us. It evokes memories of that moment eating lunch in particular, but also about the coast, climbing mountains, taking in Crater Lake, hiking near Mt. Hood, and everything else we experienced and shared together.

So, a strange gift to outsiders, maybe, but also something very special to us. Indeed: the best kind of gift.

December 13, 2012 at 5:51 pm 2 comments

Gift Giving. (Or Not.)

I do love this time of year!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, actually. It kicks off this cozy and cheerful time of year! It’s also about getting together with family without worrying about gifts.

But I do love Christmas, too! And although I like Christmas for the getting together with family and friends, and for the holiday spirit in general, it is a holiday that includes giving – and receiving, if you’ve been nice 🙂 – gifts.

It can be hard, when you’re on a budget to manage all the gifts you need and want to give.

Actually, we don’t have that many gifts to buy, and most of the gifts we do have to buy come with a dollar limit (for a Secret Santa or other game). And, this year, for our nieces, we have decided to spend money on an experience, not a thing. So, I don’t feel bad about spending money for that one!

For M and I though, we struggle every year with setting a limit on how much to spend on each other. Last year I think it was just $25 with the requirement that it fit in a stocking. That was pretty tough! This year, well, we decided not to get each other anything!

You see, M was going to get me a pair of work pants that actually fit, but then when we were at the store, we found the jacket that goes with the pants, and a few other things. We kind of decided then that since we bought my suit together, and M has been buying work shirts that actually fit him, we didn’t need to spend money on presents for each other.

And, I am pretty OK with that.

BUT. I did get him a pretty great birthday present that should be arriving any moment now, that I’m pretty tickled about. And we’re going out to dinner for his birthday (it was yesterday). I think overall we tend to go bigger for our birthdays than Christmas. Which is fine with me. I can’t wait for M to hope his present tonight!

What do you do for gift giving around this time of year?

December 12, 2012 at 1:45 pm 1 comment

Knowing when to rest.

The worst habit I have for my health is not knowing when to rest – or knowing I should, but not allowing myself to rest.

Say it with me now: Guilt.

I woke up Sunday e-x-h-a-u-s-t-e-d. The back and forth to Michigan caught up with me, plus a busy Saturday running, baking and Christmas card writing (which I love to do, but still), and then we were out late.

So, as I said, I woke up and all I wanted to do was keep sleeping. But I had things to do, and thought perhaps a run would shake me awake. I couldn’t fathom sleeping in and skipping a workout.

Well, I should have done just that. I was in a daze all day, and felt terrible. I couldn’t focus, let alone make decisions. I felt worse and worse and worse as the day went on.

It was especially disheartening to feel this way, because I love spending time with my family; baking – especially Christmas cookies; and spending some time with friends from the Village. All these things were super fun, but nothing is really 100% enjoyable when you’re exhausted.

Today, I woke up still feeling terrible. And I even went to bed at a good time yesterday. I decided to sleep some more. Yes, that means I slept a lot last night and yes, it means I skipped my workout today.

But I feel pretty good right now, so I think it means it was the right decision. Plus, I got back into my healthy breakfast followed by salad/brown rice for lunch, which I think helped immensely.

SO yeah, sometimes resting is where it’s at. In fact, resting is a key component of self-care.

I think it’s ultimately about listening to your body. There have been plenty of times where I’ve felt sluggish, and a good run shook me out of it. But given that this approach did not work yesterday, I had to try something else today – rest. And it worked.

Thank goodness, too, because I was over feeling terrible.


December 10, 2012 at 8:14 pm Leave a comment

Domestic Goddess

Yesterday, besides running a 5K in support of the Arthritis foundation, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen. Before the race, I put together potato soup in the slow cooker. Sometimes, especially on cold Saturdays, knowing I have something warm, healthy (because of course it was a healthy version of potato soup), and delicious simmering away for me to eat later is enough. I mean really.

After the race, I got to work preparing cookie dough for my family’s annual cookie baking session. My mom, aunt, grandma, cousins, and I (or some variation of all those people) typically get together each year for one day of all-out Christmas cookie baking. Last year, perhaps because I finally had my own kitchen, we decided we would start something new: everyone was required to make dough from scratch. Yes!

This year (and last year), I prepared gingerbread cookie dough (two batches) as well as chocolate cookie dough. Yum!

I also – and really this is the moment you’ve been waiting for – made homemade bread.

I know. 

I used this recipe and it could not have been easier. Or more delicious. I am very excited to play around with this basic bread recipe and come up with different flavor combinations!

So that’s that. I really did feel like a domestic goddess yesterday – homemade (healthy) potato soup, homemade cookie dough, homemade bread.

Other than that, we went to a game night with M’s co-workers, which was a lot of fun.

So a full and exciting day. And now? Oh it’s cookie baking time.

December 9, 2012 at 3:14 pm Leave a comment

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