Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Another move

So I've been MIA, what's new? I'll blame it on work, a lack of ideas... nay a lack of interesting ideas to blog about, and moving. That's right, I'm moving again. Just a few miles away, but that process involved finding a new place, changing utilities, packing... you know the drill. I'll move next week.

While I hate the actual moving process (thank goodness for my BF who says as long as I pack and unpack, he'll carry), I LOVE the process of unpacking and settling. I yearn for a time when that unpacking will be in a place I own, but I'll settle for a new, cute condo with a great landlord that I know... Craigslist is a small world.

I'm hoping to successfully decorate and make it as homey as possible and I've been following a few design blogs to give me some inspiration. I thought I'd share them with you.

I highly recommend the last blog, but with caution. They post frequently... like 80 times a day. But I LOVE the posts... specializing in small apartments in NYC and other cities. (Did I mention I'm losing 200 SF in this move??) I would love room for more books, but that's not in the cards. Maybe these bookcase stairs? day.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hair: Part Deux

I gave you a glimpse of the new cut last week. I continue to LOVE it and am thinking that I'll keep it this length and maybe shorter... So here are a few more pics. The first few were taken by my co-worker immediately post-cut. You can never get your hair to look as good as your stylist. Unfortunately, the views of the cubes behind me aren't quite as lovely.

And here's one with my favorite photo subject of all, my nephew Huck.

Dear Genevieve

I am home decor challenged. I've lived in my apartment since March and it still doesn't feel put together... something that frustrates me everyday. I have reached a very strange place with both my clothing and decor choices in that I cannot decide what I like. This leads me to blow my "spend" money on eating out because I've gotten so caught up in what's in style and fashionable, that I think I'm chicken to spend my money on something that potentially isn't.

There. I said it.

And despite my design blog reading (see Daily Reads on the right if you need inspiration!) and Dear Genevieve watching, I couldn't make a decision about anything.

But, I reached what I hope is a turning point today. I bought lamps for my bedroom. That may not seem like a big deal, but I've lived with the same tacky beachy lamps that I've owned since college and could not decide on replacements, despite the beachfront rental essence of these (picture will soon be used to post to Craigslist).

So I say goodbye to kitschy and hello to... classic? I don't know what style it is, but I know that I like them. And that's all that matters right? To make it even better, I found them at HomeGoods for $30 each.

Next, I'm in search of curtains to liven up the world of white and cream that is my bedroom (the joys of renting and not being able to paint). I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

2011 Goals Update

On January 3, I published my goals, formerly known as resolutions, for all the world (or the 8 readers of this blog) to see. To hold myself accountable, here's my mid-year update.

1. Cook twice each week. I've been successful in this category, but not in the way I'd intended. I was hoping to expand my cooking horizons, but I find myself eating a lot of bacon and eggs. Either way, I'm saving money by not eating out. I hope to cook one new/more complicated than pan-frying meal each week in the second half of 2011.

2. Exercise (at least) 4 times each week. I'm proud to say I've met this goal! Training for the triathlon helped me reach it and getting in the habit of exercising has helped me continue it. Now I'd like to try a new class or get back into Zumba, Pilates, and/or Yoga again!

3. Contribute a minimum amount to savings each month. I've finally paid off my credit card debt, am living on a budget, and starting to save. It's nice to not be scared to check my bank account. Win!

4. Find a church and attend twice a month. I'm sad to admit this goal did not take off. I don't want to replace it, but would like to find somewhere to volunteer twice a month. Perhaps I'll consider it an even trade?

5. Read one book for improvement and one book for pleasure each month.  I'm on target for the number of books... but not the type. I need to ramp up my books of substance, but this goal has definitely gotten me reading again! Check out what's next on Goodreads.

6. Blog (at least) once a week. I've been hit or miss here, but much more consistent than previous years! I love your comments, they keep me going so keep them coming!

Letters from Lauren

Last month I came across this post on Real Simple's blog. It's about a girl named Lauren (imagine that) in New York who pledged to write one hand-written letter every day in 2011, then she posts the letters on her blog, Letters from Lauren.

As someone who loves sending and receiving cards, notes and magazines in the mail, I love this idea. Although I didn't include it in my 2011 Goals, I have a birthday list on my fridge and I try to send a card and get it there ahead of time. This year, I have failed miserably. And every time a friend's birthday comes and goes, I kick myself. So here's to hoping that Lauren inspires me.

My favorite cards are FreshInk by Hallmark. They are refreshingly random and mildly ridiculous. I recommend you stop by and pick up a couple. Or just stand in the aisle reading them. You won't be disappointed. Here's a taste.
Picture from Fresh Ink's Facebook Page
"Adding to my misery, no one here thinks I'm funny"

Friday, July 1, 2011

Just a glimpse

I haven't had a chance to upload recent pictures lately, but here's a camera phone picture (don't worry, I was sitting at a red light) from the day I got my hair cut. This is the first time I've left the salon loving my new short 'do. Usually, it takes some adjusting. Now, I'm thinking I might keep it like this for a while! More pictures to be posted soon... Happy 4th!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

It's Time to Cut

I'm chopping my hair... again.

I first donated my hair when my mom was sick in 2004 (she was not pleased, she liked my long hair). That time I donated to Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs for children with that lose their hair from medical reasons. I donated it again in 2008 to Pantene Beautiful Lengths that makes wigs for women battling cancer. Those wigs are distributed through American Cancer Society wig banks.

I'm not telling you this to toot my own hair-donating horn, but to demonstrate a pattern. Ever since I cut my hair that first time, I follow the same cycle. Don't like it short... can't wait to grow it out. It continues to get longer until I reach a point where I think "well, I might as well keep going and donate it again." And that's where I am now.

However, I'm determined not to dislike my newly shorn hair and go in with a plan... a hairstyle/cut in mind, which I've never done before. And I need help. Hopefully, my hair will be chin length or longer so those are the pictures I'm looking through (among lots of other Google images!).

OC Kristen - like the pieceyness
of the style, not the color

The ever popular Victoria Beckham bob

Love everything she does!
My hair will be shorter than Jen's and longer than Posh's so I'm not sure what to do. All I know is that it needs to be low maintenance. We'll see what I come out with!

Monday, June 13, 2011

We Did It!

Yes, WE did it! Thanks to your love and generous donations we raised $4,000 and I was the #2 fundraiser of 60 Team in Training participants for my event! I could not have done it... reached my goal, trained, and finished the race... without all of you. And just so you know, that brings our fundraising total for LLS to $13,660!!

I started the Latta Triathlon Sunday morning at 6:38am. Two hours and nine minutes later, I was a triathlete! I AM a triathlete! And, it wasn't as miserable as I thought it would be. Halfway through the bike course I thought, 'Hey this isn't so bad. What was I making such a fuss about?'

But it wouldn't be right if I didn't do something ridiculous along the way. When I completed the 17 mile bike portion I ran into the transition area, racked my bike, put on my hat and shirt and was ready to run. Except... I looked down for my water... not there. In fact, my towel wasn't there. And I wondered where my backpack was? I thought someone stole my backpack!! No, ding dong, I racked my bike in the wrong spot and put on someone else's hat and someone else's shirt... Whoops. To my credit (although little is due), I was only four slots down and Team in Training folks all wear the same stuff for the most part.

I didn't have a goal, except to finish in under 2 and a half hours which I did. But now I'm thinking that I want to break the two hour mark. So we'll see. For those of you who care, here's the breakdown of my times.

Swim     T1     Bike     T2     Run     Total Time
20:02     4:10   1:04     3:40   36:46    2:09:25

And now for some pictures!

With my mentor, Marilyn
With fellow TNTers, Rachel and Meridith

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Top 25 Most Played

I was browsing my iTunes library to update my training playlist and clicked on my "Top 25 Most Played" to pull some songs from there. What a revealing list it is! Luckily, I'm not terribly embarrassed by the songs on here... so here you go!

1. Candyman - Christina Aguilera
2. Rompe - Daddy Yankee
3. Stay - Dave Matthews Band
4. Only Wanna Be With You - Hootie & the Blowfish (have you heard the story about how I ran into Darius Rucker in the grocery store? Literally ran into him... it's a good one)
5. Bright Side of the Road - Van Morrison -- such a happy song!
6. Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison -- classic
7. Behind these Hazel Eyes - Kelly Clarkson
8. Addicted - Kelly Clarkson (widely unknown and totally underrated Kelly song)
9. Gunpowder & Lead - Miranda Lambert
10. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - Miranda Lambert (from these last two songs you'd think I'd just gotten out of a bad relationship, but I just love the rocker country!)
11. Here I Come - Fergie (please make another solo album Fergs)
12. Don't Stop the Music - Rihanna
13. Kiwi - Maroon 5 (new found love for Adam Levine thanks to The Voice!)
14. Cry Me a River - Justin Timberlake (love when the bass drops at the beginning of this song and yes, I just said that)
15. Love Song - Sarah Bareilles
16. Vegas - Sarah Bareilles
17. Bottle it Up - Sarah Bareilles
18. Many the Miles - Sarah Bareilles
19. Low - FloRida
20. Ven Conmigo - Christina Aguilera - this Spanish language version has survived my playlist since discovering it in high school
21. Only Prettier - Miranda Lambert (hands down, favorite Miranda song)
22. Leave the Pieces - The Wreckers
23. Me and Charlie Talking - Miranda Lambert
24. Don't Stop Believing - Journey - a playlist isn't a playlist without this ballad
25. Push - Enrique Iglesias - this is one of the gems I got from the Step Up 2 Soundtrack... and no I'm not kidding, love the movie and bought the album. Don't judge.

What's on your Top 25 Most Played List? Most embarrassing song?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sunday is D-Day

Hello long lost (and dare I say, few?) blog readers! I would give excuses for my absence, but what's the point? I've been inspired to write several things, but lacked the follow-through. So forgive me in advance for this lengthy post.

Here we are, less than ONE WEEK from my triathlon. At 7am on Sunday morning, I'll be diving into  Mountain Island Lake at Latta Plantation to finish this long journey.  I find myself thinking as I do a week before a dentist appointment... brushing and flossing diligently, as if that's going to make a difference when I get there. I want to run, swim and bike non-stop to make sure my race will be a success. I'm lamenting those times that I did not train and wondering how that will affect my performance.

But, I feel a sense of peace (one that my coaches assure me will leave me as soon as I wake up Sunday morning!) that I didn't have when I ran the half-marathon. Before that race, I had not run 13.1 miles so I wasn't certain that I could. But I have trained and completed the race distances for all three legs... now I just need to do it all in less than 2 and a half hours!

And as if I needed a reminder as to why I'm training and fundraising, I ran with a fellow TNTer on Saturday and she shared with me that her mother passed away from colon cancer when she was only three years old. Her mom was 29.  She participates and fundraises in events like these for many of the sames reasons that I do... but mostly to feel a sense of contribution to the support of families and the pursuit of a cure.

I can't even begin to express what a wonderful organization the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is and how much Team in Training has meant to me over the past few years, but especially the past 5 months.  I didn't actively participate in the team trainings for the half-marathon and now I wonder what I missed out on.  The group of people that I've had the privilege of getting to know is unlike any other. My heart is filled with so much joy and a sense of purpose after every training session.

And while I could go on for days about it, I won't. I can only suggest and hope that if you have even the slightest interest in training for an event like this, that you consider doing so with Team in Training. I promise, you won't regret it. My life has changed for the better because of it. Wish me luck this weekend!

Still accepting donations! ;)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

For Mom

I rode my first solo bike ride today.  And I have to admit, I spent most of my time admiring the backsides of those riders blowing past me.  While I didn't mind the rear views of some (bikers are in great shape!), it still messed with my head a bit.  First I started to blame my lack of training... then I went on to think that perhaps my bike isn't fancy enough. Yeah, that's it, it's the BIKE that's slower than those other riders. Then there was the moment when my bike almost tipped over and took me with it as I waited at a red light (enjoy that embarrassing mental picture!)

As a competitive person, it's hard to admit and accept that I'm slower than other people. But the great thing about the triathlon is that I have both strengths and weaknesses. Of those on the Team, I'm one of the strongest swimmers. While I'm no Nemo, I watch others struggle as I'm swimming fairly easily... then it's my turn to encourage them and remind them that while I might pull ahead initially in the swim, they'll surely pass me in either the bike or the run.

One guy today encouraged me as he passed me... twice. At that point I was trying not to count how many times he'd passed, but appreciate his encouragement and remember that I'm doing my best.

Then as I'm loading my bike in the car, I hear someone say "Go Team" (I'm wearing my Team in Training jersey). She stops and tells me she's training for her sixth event with Team in Training. Then I remember what it's REALLY all about... raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and helping those families, like mine, affected by the disease. I miss my mom every day and as Mother's Day approaches on Sunday, it only intensifies those feelings.  But it's a powerful feeling knowing that I'm honoring her memory in such a positive way.

I'm proud to be a part of the Team and excited for the challenges that my last month of training will bring. GO TEAM!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fundraising Update

Good news!! I reached my originial fundraising goal of $3000!! I am so thankful for all of your donations and blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life.  Seems like the only thing to do is keep on trucking!

The triathlon team is raffling some GREAT prizes to raise even more money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. There are two trips and a iPad up for grabs and we're only selling 3000 tickets (at the most!). Let me know if you interested in buying a few!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The weirdest thing...

I'm actually, dare I say, looking forward to running today. I can hardly believe those words just came out of my mouth.  My last two runs were... I won't say easy... but not totally miserable. And I know that if I keep up with my schedule, they'll only get better. Fingers crossed!

In other 'I'm incredibly easy to please' news, I got new goggles and they are awesome!  I had some seriously old school goggles (thanks Jessa!) that worked okay, but did required adjusting every couple of laps.  I bought new ones, but they didn't fit my face and let water in... which is a problem in case you didn't know.  Luckily, the folks at TrySports in Ballantyne let me exchange them and now I'm swimming like a fish (with goggles)! And let me tell you, I look sharp in them (hopefully my sarcasm transmits via blog).

I also bit the bullet and bought bike shorts.  While they were much more expensive than I expected, I know that the price is worth it!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Book Review: Sarah's Key

Sarah's KeySarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was hooked from the beginning and was intrigued and horrified at the same time. But I was disappointed with how the book/plot seemed to lose steam at the end. The last few chapters seemed almost shallow compared to the first 3/4 of the book. Regardless, I really enjoyed it, couldn't put it down, and would definitely recommend to others!

View all my reviews

Saturday, March 26, 2011

What I'm Wanting this Month

Between moving and training, I have a long list of wants these days!

For my apartment... priority 1 is a rug. While I love the hardwood floors in my new place, my coffee table has wheels and rolls around whenever I try to prop my aching legs up.  Ideally, I'd like some sort of pattern. Maybe something like this from Overstock...

Next are some new couch pillows. If I end up with a solid rug, I'd love some orange patterned pillows to make my pale mint green sofa pop. I've been looking on Etsy and I really like these from Kainkain...

Next is this butcher block from Ikea. I don't have much counter space at all and I could put this at the end of the counter and wheel it in when I need it!
Finally, my TV has been sitting on my desk for the last year and I'd like to reclaim it! I'd like to buy two of these shelving units, put them together, and make it my little entertainment center.

And that's just for my apartment! There's training gear on that list too. (See my previous post about the necessity of bike shorts, ouch) My only challenge is keeping myself from buying everything all at once. My credit card would not be pleased.

Time to get serious!

Today I realized it's time to get serious about training... AND time to buy bike shorts. I give you permission to laugh because if you could see me hobbling around right now, I know you would. I'm definitely laughing at myself.

I've missed several team trainings due to weddings, moving, showers... but I've realized those aren't reasons, they're excuses.  I made it to the Team Ride this morning at the Booty Loop, a three-mile loop packed with runners and bikers.  There are a couple of long hills on the back end of the loop and man, those killed me.

I learned a lot today. One of the coaches rode with me (probably scared I would get run over :) ), but he taught me about gears, strategy (yes, there's strategy... mainly not to kill yourself in the bike so you can make it through the run), and fueling... myself, not the bike.

Everything I thought I should be doing in terms of switching gears was incorrect and the correct way is totally counter intuitive to me. But I'm so glad I learned when to gear up (going down hill) and when to gear down (heading up hills).  I also feel comfortable enough to head out there on my own during the week. The cars in the area are used to the bikers, they might not like us, but they're aware.

We were all talking today about how we used to make fun of "those" people.  Head to toe spandex and totally geared out.  But now I'm excited to be one of those people, doing something that's not only great for myself and my body, but for those battling blood cancers.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to buy some padded bike shorts.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dress Down for LLS

Tomorrow, on St. Patrick's Day, Walsingham is having a dress down day to help me raise money for LLS and my Team in Training goal of $3,000. I remember Dress Down Days as high stress. What to wear on the one day I don't have to wear a uniform?? I'm sure they were days my parents dreaded (high drama with two girls), but they were still fun days full of Abercrombie and American Eagle.

This is the third fundraising event I've done for LLS, and the third time Walsingham has agreed to help and honor the memory of my mom and those affected by leukemia, lymphoma and other blood diseases.  I'm so grateful for the support!

As much as I'd like to post a picture from high school, I don't have a scanner, which I'm sure makes many of you happy.  So here's a picture of me, Jessa and Mom from Mother's Day in 2004. While I don't think it's the most fabulous picture I've ever been in, I love it.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Training Update

Life has gotten in the way of training as of late. Between packing and unpacking for my move, planning and attending a bachelorette party in Florida (I know, life is rough) and work, I haven't had the energy to follow the training schedule to a T.

This week I vow to change that! Today, I got to the gym 45 minutes before our team swim session to run for 30 minutes. Mind you, my 30 minute run is a run/walk hybrid, but I got through about 2.25 miles.  Then I hopped in the pool with the team for our hour long training swim.  We do a series of drills to improve our strokes then more drills to improve our strokes! 

Tomorrow, a 30 minute bike is on the schedule.  I plan on conquering that at lunch.  Wednesday is 30 minutes of swim drills and a run.  Since I play tennis on Wednesdays, I count that as my run... wish me luck!  

Just for pizazz, here's a picture from the bachelorette party.  The girls with Captain Hatch.

Grocery Cart Envy

It's true, I covet those things in others' grocery carts.  I leave the store with at least two more items than I intended to buy, not due to the clever product placement of the store, but of my grocery cart voyeurism (if that's not a word, it should be).

Lately, I've started shopping at Trader Joe's (LOVE!) and I don't know where to begin with all of their fabulous foods.  On my first visit, I saw a girl grab the White Cheddar Corn Puffs. Delicious!  Tonight, I came away with some pre-prepared grilled chicken, a different kind of lettuce, and some new Luna bars.

So if you see me in the store, I'm probably peering into your cart to check out the goods. Creepy? Well, not intentionally at least.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I Go Back...

I've been awful nostalgic lately.  I doubt that's shocking to anyone, considering my penchant for scrapbooking, taking pictures, and reminiscing. I've been compared, on more than one occasion, to Melissa Joan Hart's character in Can't Hardly Wait as she tries to get the entire senior class to sign her yearbook. (In other news, apparently you can't find EVERYTHING on YouTube, as they don't have a clip of that part of the movie. A tragedy.)  Regardless, I've felt several pangs lately.

Being at home. My sister and I went home a couple of weeks and as I ran through the neighborhood (yes, I actually did) it reminded me of growing up, riding my bike, fishing in the pond, and stealing golf carts.

Listening to my iPod on shuffle.  On that trip home, I shuffled my iPod and came across some goodies and ALL of them took me to another place and time. I LOVE that about music.  To name a few... Why Georgia, Here's to You (Rascal Flatts), Blue Sky (Allman Brothers), Crazy Game of Poker (O.A.R.).

Playing tennis. I grew up training for tennis. As we had our first match last night, I climbed out of the car to those same familiar smells and sounds.  I can't describe how happy it makes me!

I can't figure out whether recalling these moments makes me sad or if they just take me back.  So I'll leave you with the ultimate reminiscing song...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My A-HA Moment for Today

I had an a-ha moment today, as Oprah would call it. Although, Oprah's a-ha moments are typically deeper than what I'm about to share.  I discovered the most awesome calorie counting & fitness tracking app for my phone! (Behold my shallowness).

MyFitnessPal gives you a recommended amount of calories... depending on your age, weight, height, how much you want to lose, how fast you want to lose it, etc. THEN you can log meals, snacks, and exercise. Full disclosure, it's highly unlikely that I'll follow this to a T, but it's a great guideline and accountability tool! I'm also determined to make my fancy internet phone worth the money I pay for it.

Here are the three coolest things I've found:
1. You can scan the bar codes of foods you eat and it pops up instantly! Instead of searching (although the search is really user friendly) through similar items, you save time this way.

2. The app also estimates the recommended amounts of vitamins, fats (good and bad), fiber, protein, etc. that you should (or shouldn't) be taking in, and let's you know how much you have left until you reach your daily goal, or if you're close to passing your recommended sodium intake for the day.

3. It syncs up with their website, so you can input information on your phone or on the web.

I've tried another similar app before, but this one is a lot better and easier to navigate. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Breakfast Dilemma

I may or may not be using training as an excuse to eat more... which brings me to Emeril's Breakfast Casserole.

By 9 a.m. every morning, I'm hungry. Not that this is shocking to anyone, but I decided that I need to up my breakfast game.  I know myself well enough to know that I won't get up early enough in the morning to cook something hearty and delicious. Also, if I succeed at training before work (this remains to be seen), I won't have time.

So I decided to cook a breakfast casserole that I can cut, heat, and eat. The only disheartening thing about my plan was reading the comments on the recipe.

"Cook this for my family for Christmas morning breakfast..."

"Always requested by my out of town guests..."

Translation: "I cook this for large groups of people." Yet, I'll be the only one enjoying it. Well, the enjoying part remains to be seen... I put it together tonight and will bake in the morning.

Will post a review... and a picture, if it's worth sharing!

First Swim... ouch

I took to the pool today for my first swim since... well, 1998.  Let's just say, 3 minutes after I climbed out of the pool, I could hardly lift my arms. 

I may have pushed myself a little too hard the first time out, but I forgot how much of a workout swimming is. Also, considering the last time I really competed I was 14 and running around all day, every day in a variety of sports.  I started with freestyle, breathing every third stroke. When I got really winded, I'd switch to breaststroke. I've NEVER felt my triceps pull more!

The other part of swimming at the Y, is that you're typically sharing the lane with someone.  I started out on my own and a girl around my age joined me about halfway through my swim. So of course, I couldn't let her pass me! ...the competitor in me may have also deemed me incapacitated tomorrow...

Looking forward to our team swim on Saturday morning!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I think I'm meant to be a baker

I don't know that I'm cut out for cooking. I understand that I need to be patient with myself, but the whole "trial and error" process is frustrating! Although I have discovered that I'm a much better baker. Perhaps it's easier, but I'll leave that argument to the contestants on Top Chef.

In my efforts to cook more often, I'm also trying to satisfy my raging sweet tooth along the way. That's where these Lemon Squares come in. I came across this recipe in Fitness Magazine so yes, I'm putting these in the 'healthy' category.

Light Lemon Bars

Instead of typing it all out here, click the link above to check out the recipe. It's really easy and well worth the effort!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Team Run at the Booty Loop

We had our first Team training this morning at the Booty Loop. Yes, that's what it's called. My suspicions about the origin of the nickname were confirmed when I was told that this particular stretch of road in Charlotte earned its name thanks to the numbers of people (safe to assume they're also somewhat good looking) and co-eds that jog in the area. Apparently, it's the place to be "seen". If you've read about my strong dislike of running and my very slow pace, I have no desire of being "seen" while doing so, so I'll be doing that part of my training elsewhere!

Meeting and running with the group was a great motivator!  The coaches are encouraging, which I totally need, and it's...dare I say... fun? We ran for about 30 minutes and as much as I didn't want to get up at 7 on a Saturday morning, it sure feels good to feel accomplished at 8:30am!

I'm going to start taking some pictures as the trainings continue to (hopefully) jazz up my posts a bit.  Perhaps I'll include some pics of the 'booty' at the loop to encourage you to come back and read!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fundraising Milestone

Through all of the training, I try to remember the bigger picture. Those people in need of support while they, or their loved ones, struggle with leukemia and lymphoma.  As of today, we've raised $1350!! That means that I've met my required minimum of fundraising for the event.

While I'm extremely excited and grateful for the support, that isn't my goal.  My goal is to raise $3000. Since I have four months, I'm hopeful that I can surpass my personal goal and provide more of the valuable funds to LLS.

Over the course of my past two events fundraising for LLS, we have raised $10,255! That is an amazing accomplishment and I have all of you to thank for it!

P.F. Chang's Half-Marathon - January 2009      $7,720
Light the Night Walk           - November 2009  $2,535

Just so you have an idea where that money goes, here are some stats. Just imagine what we've done and who we've helped with $10,000!
  • A $25 donation provides patients with booklets of up-to-date information to keep them informed about their disease and treatment options available.
  • A $50 donation makes Family Support groups with trained professionals possible.
  • A $100 donation helps supply laboratory researchers with supplies and materials to carry out their search for cures.
  • A $500 donation can provide aid to patients for a year.
  • A $1000 donation makes one-on-one conversations with health care specialists possible. They can answer questions, discuss treatment options, and help them prepare questions for the rest of their health care team.
Keep these stats in mind if you're considering donating and know that your money goes a long way in the fight!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

First Run of 2011!

I completed my first training run tonight in preparation for our first team running session on Saturday morning. I haven't run since I completed the half-marathon in January of 2009. That's 24 months of NOT running! If I'm being totally honest, even though I ran 13.1 miles and I'll be running 10 miles LESS during the triathlon, I'm most nervous about this part. Nervous about being the slowest, being last... all of those fears we had in school.

But I've already resolved to be more diligent and dedicated in my training for this event than I was for the half-marathon.  I'm excited and scared at the same time. Excited to push my limits and get back in shape but scared about all of the unknown factors (will I sink like a rock in the pool???).

Here's a glimpse of my training schedule for February.

Monday            Team Swim                 20-30 minute run
Tuesday            30 minute bike/spin
Wednesday       Swim drills                  20-30 minute run
Thursday          30 minute bike/spin
Friday               off
Saturday           Team training - varies between the three events
Sunday             Swim or run, whichever is your weaker event- this remains to be seen!

Training officially starts Saturday morning at 8am, wish me luck!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

No Buy Month - Could you do it?

In my extensive (read: time consuming) blog reading, I came across The Frugalista. I've only been following her for a couple of weeks but her latest post talks about her annual No-Buy Month. During the month of February (maybe because it has the least number of days?), she does not spend a cent on eating out, shopping, getting her nails done... basically, no fun! However this does not extend to rent or bills, so no excuses on not paying those! But she saved $400 last year, how much do you think you could save?

I'll be honest, I'm sure I could do it, and I probably should do it, but I won't do it. Going cold turkey on "entertainment" spending for a whole month would be SO hard. Not to mention, I JUST made a list of all of the workout gear I want (and kind of need) to buy. Okay, a workout bag that holds my yoga mat isn't a need, but swimming gear for my triathlon is!

Could you do it?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My take on the Kindle

Despite the fact that I HAD to have a Kindle for Christmas this past year, I've only read one full book on it since. However, I've started reading Bright Lights, Big Ass by Jen Lancaster (click the picture for a link to Amazon, the book is hilarious) and I've discovered a few pros and cons about it.

Things I love:
  1. I can download the classics, a.k.a. those books I was supposed to read in high school, for free. I'm attempting to re-read several of those to see if my lack of interest was a result of my "oh-so-dramatic, I don't have time to read" life as a high school junior or if I genuinely don't enjoy them. On my 2011 list: Pride and Prejudice (loved it in high school), This Side of Paradise, and Great Expectations. ( Also just came across this article on getting free books for your Kindle if you have one)
  2. Assuming I ever go on a relaxing vacation again, I don't have to take 4 books with me (I'm a fast reader).
  3. I can "highlight" and share passages from the book on Twitter (@lhuckaby) and Facebook. For those of you who follow me on Twitter, I apologize in advance. I'm totally one of those people who's reading, finds something funny or interesting, and totally want to share it with whoever is sitting next to me. In lieu of that, I'll be sharing with the Twittersphere. I'm already having to reign myself in.
  4. I came play games (educational ones of course), surf the internet (do people even use that term anymore?), and read samples of books before I decide to buy.
  5. I can instantly look up the meaning of a word if I'm unsure. This will come in handy when I'm tackling #1 above.
Things that make me miss hrad copy books:
  1. I can't dog-ear or highlight pages, at least not in the literal sense, but I did check out a lot of library books so I couldn't do that anyway. We'll call this one a wash.
  2. Reading footnotes isn't exactly user friendly. You have to scroll down to and click the footnote which takes you to another page, then click back to the book. While this doesn't apply in most books, Jen Lancaster has (hysterical) footnotes on almost every page.
In short, if you're considering buying an e-reader of any kind, I definitely think it's worth it!

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Wal-Mart Effect

I haven't shopped at Wal-Mart since the fall of 2007. At one point in my life, it was the only place I bought groceries, toiletries and the like. But I took a course in grad school that focused on Wal-Mart's business, ethics, and public relations practices and I haven't shopped there since.

Before you assume that the class skewed my perception, we watched movies and read books that were both for and against the conglomerate. But, surprisingly, the book that changed my opinion was the most objective of them all. The Wal-Mart Effect.

The book explores real stories of employees, suppliers, and others who had all been affected, either positively or negatively by the store.  It's a really interesting read.

My point is, I've realized what a HUGE effect Wal-Mart has on our economy and our everyday choices, especially those in the lower classes. Which is why I was interested to hear that Wal-Mart is planning to offer healthier food choices.  I'm hoping that it will positively impact the health of Americans, but I'll wait and see.

Guilty Pleasure

I once thought that introducing DVR into my home would cause me to watch a million shows that I wouldn't otherwise and permanently attach me to my couch. However, it's just the opposite. When I have time to sit and watch TV, I only watch those shows that I intended to watch... well, except for that Sunday a few weeks ago when I was sucked into a Jersey Shore marathon...

But I digress. My guilty pleasure is not watching these shows, but reading the follow-up online.

A friend from high school got me hooked on Gossip Girl (ridiculous, but lots of pretty people to look at) then got me hooked on reading the Recap on NY Mag's Daily Intel blog the next day. Basically, these bloggers watch the show and add or subtract points based on the ridiculousness. It is highly entertaining. In fact, I might enjoy it more than watching the show itself. I also find myself thinking, "Oh there totally going to make fun of that tomorrow." It makes a more interactive (read: nerdy) Gossip Girl experience.  The Daily Intel is also an entertaining way to get your daily dose of news stories too.

Then there's Bravo TV. What on EARTH did I watch before Bravo came on the air? I love watching their reality shows and then heading to their blogs to see what they have to say more themselves. My favorites are the Top Chef blogs. I love hearing what the judges thought, why they voted the way they did, and how they react to the craziness that they don't see until the show airs. Not to mention, I discovered that Anthony Bourdain is an incredibly talented writer. The way he describes food and experiences is amazing. I've never watched his show, but I think I'll definitely add his books to my "To Read" list.

Have any guilty pleasures I need to add to my list?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dinner Tonight

I admit, I've never watched much of the Food Network. But I've recently started DVRing Paula Deen and Rachel Ray's shows. RR does get on my nerves from time to time, but her meals are creative. And Paula?? Love Paula! 

Last night, I curled up with a glass of wine and watched Paula's "Lazy Man" meals (Her husband, Michael, was sous chef for the day). When they started to make the Fried Egg & Avocado Sandwich, I was pumped. Not only did it look delicious, but I have everything I need to make it in my fridge and pantry! That never happens!

My fridge typically looks like one that belongs in a bachelor pad... some frozen meals, milk, and beer. But I've had some visitors in the past couple of weeks, so I tried to stock up on some staples.
It's on the menu for tonight, I'll let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Team in Training Fundraising in Full Swing!

Although I haven't started officially training yet, my fundraising for the triathlon with Team in Training is underway! My personal goal is to raise $3000 before the event in June and I have $600 so far, so I'm off to a great start. I'm getting antsy to start training though. Getting back in a pool is by far the most anxiety producing part of the process. Do they make more flattering "racing" suits than Speedos these days? I'm not thrilled about looking like a sausage in Lycra, while I know string bikinis aren't exactly lap pool friendly. If I had a swim team photo from back in the day, I would definitely insert it here. You'll just have to use your imagination.

I swear they have the same pattern suits these days as they did when I swam 15 years ago (eek, that just made me feel old). Like this one... and this is "new" according to the website.

I might have to splurge for Nike's overpriced yet cuter looks. Although, I should probably focus more on training, less on fashion since NO ONE looks cute after face-planting due to exhaustion.

Needing inspiration today?

It's no secret that I LOVE inspirational sports movies. Rudy (one of the originals), A League of Their Own, Remember the Titans, The Rookie, Mighty Ducks, Cool Runnings... just to name a few. I could list them for days.

On my snow day at home yesterday, Coach Carter came on... another fav of mine. One of the best moments (in my opinion) is this part when one of players stands up and recites what I originally thought was a poem, but is actually an excerpt from A Return To Love, a book by motivational speaker and author Marianne Williamson. Regardless I think it's incredibly poignant and so accurate about a lot of people (I'm including myself in this group). Check out the clip and the text below.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking

so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.

And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

Monday, January 10, 2011

2011 Goals Update

I know you're all dying to know how goals are coming along in the first week of 2011! I did cook a delicious meal in my crockpot and discovered the next recipe I want to fix this week. However, the Taj MaTeeter was sold out of everything last night when I went shopping (note to self, NEVER go to the grocery store in SouthPark on Sunday night).

I successfully made it to the gym four times this week. I went to two Spinning classes and did this circuit from Women's Health on the other two days. I modified the circuit a bit to keep my heart rate up... adding step ups and push ups, but it's great for those who tend to get bored (like me)! I've also decided I want to look into what it takes to become a spinning instructor. I LOVE the class and have been trying to think of ways to make some extra money without cramping my style too much.

My fun book this month was Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly. I downloaded it for my drive to and from Raleigh last week. I love a good cop story to keep my attention. One of the better books in this series that I've read lately. I'm also reading QBQ by John Miller and Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith. Reading the not "fun" books definitely takes more dedication but I'm hoping to finish by the end of January!

How are you doing with your resolutions?

It's the little things

The little things in life really DO make a difference, in my opinion. For example, one of my ridiculous pet peeves is getting in a long line and and then having no one get in line behind me. For some reason, I feel that my decision to get in the long line to wait for whatever  is only validated if the line continues to form behind me. Weird, I know.

My point is, the 1000 Awesome Things blog celebrates these little things in life that boost your mood just a bit. Here's one of my recent favorite posts. And you can't tell me that you don't love it when this happens.

Just a suggestion to add to your blogroll!

Here's my awesome thing for the day. When your sister buys your nephew an Indian headdress. Awesome!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Meet my new best friend... crock pot! In truth, my sister gave me this crock pot SIX years ago and yesterday was only the second time I've used it. But, in an effort to cook at least twice a week, I pulled it out of its box and tried out a recipe from this month's Real Simple.

To begin with, I'm always nervous about how something I cook will turn out... and with good reason. I was also nervous about leaving an appliance on, heating and cooking all day. I know, I know... but I'm practically a crock pot virgin so I feel as though my nerves were justified due to my lack of experience. But I'm proud to proclaim SUCCESS on not burning my apartment down and a fairly delicious meal.

I say fairly delicious because I'm not a huge fan of "traditional" crock pot recipes... stews, roasts, soups... really beef in general. But one can't argue with the fabulousness and ease of returning home at 6 and finding a delicious aroma and meal waiting for them... almost as if magic elves prepared it! I think one of the best parts of preparing it was mixing the sauce together. I'm following the recipe, not knowing what I'm doing, only to find out that I'd made a barbecue sauce of sorts! I felt so accomplished! Here's a picture of the finished product... not so easy on the eyes but wonderful on the taste buds.

Next up, a lemony chicken concoction. Do you have any tried and true crockpot recipes? ...that aren't pot roast?

Cleaning for a Reason

I came across this website today and I thought, what a wonderful idea. Cleaning for a Reason provides house cleaning services to women currently undergoing cancer treatments. When my mom was sick with leukemia, it was nearly impossible to keep the house clean. Despite the fact that several of us were home, the last thing we wanted to do was spend our time cleaning. We wanted Mom to devote her energy to getting well and we wanted to devote our energy to her.

If you know of anyone who could use the service, it seems pretty easy to sign up. An application and a doctor's note. They accept 50 applications each day.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Fat is Money

Not my title, I promise! posted this graphic detailing the expense of being overweight.

Maybe that will help motivate me for #2 and #3 on my goals for 2011!

2011 Outlook

Wow, it has been a LONG time since my last post! I'm always thinking... "I'd like to blog about this, or that" but I never seem to get around to it. Since it's that time of year for resolutions, I'm (once again) adding a 'blog more often' resolution to my list.

Speaking of resolutions, I've read that writing down your goals is directly associated with success in achieving them. I figure sharing my goals (formerly known as resolutions) with you and the rest of the world is the best way to do just that. Nothing truly groundbreaking here, but I'm hopeful nonetheless!

1. Cook twice each week. It's no secret that I love to eat out. The social aspect of going out is one side of the appeal, and sheer laziness and lack of skill on my part comprise the other reasons it's enticing. But I know I'll only get better and faster at whipping up delicious meals through practice. I broke out my crock pot today for only the second time since I've owned it. Beef brisket with carrots and potatoes is what will hopefully be waiting for me when I get home. I'll let you know how it turns out... for better or worse.

2. Exercise (at least) 4 times each week. I love working out, it's weird I know. But lately, I've had a hard time consistently getting myself to the gym. However, I signed up for the Tri Latta Triathalon with Team in Training, so I won't have any excuses NOT to work out. And I'm excited to get back into swimming, finally use the bike that I bought a few years ago, and raise more money for LLS!

3. Contribute a minimum amount to savings each month. I've never been a good saver, and lately that's scared me. I've figured out an amount that's manageable for me to put away each month and I'm looking forward to having a rainy day fund by the end of the year.

4. Find a church and attend twice a month. This one will be a challenge. Weddings, showers, and visits to friends keeps me on the move (and also makes #3 more difficult), but I'd like to find a church where I feel comfortable and welcome. I suppose it'll be trial and error on the first few visits, but I'm hoping to find a good fit in 2011.

5. Read one book for improvement and one book for pleasure each month. I use the term 'improvement' loosely here. I'm going for books of substance with that term. Books that challenge me. I was inspired by Dave Fleet's post on How to Read 26 books in a year, but I didn't want to overwhelm myself the first time around.

This month it's Selling the Invisible, a service marketing book recommended by the president of my company. I'm a marketing specialist for an architecture firm and we serve public clients. It's difficult to influence school board members and county commissioners by Twitter updates or Facbook pages, so I'm interested to see what the book has to offer. If you're interested, check out the books I'm reading on GoodReads.

6. Blog (at least) once a week. I'd like to become and remain active as a blogger. I'd also like to expand my readership, not that the eight of you aren't enough! Finally, I'd like to make the blog more interactive, so please, comment away!

What are you hoping to accomplish in 2011?