Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What I'm Loving Wednesday 12/7



I'm loving ...

... my Christmas decorations, including what I believe is the ninth annual baseball tree. It's a fun way to spruce up my little apartment for a month or so.


... that I have every Saturday off this month. And they're all full of holiday plans.


... that I got to take Sean to "RENT" a few weeks ago. Musical theater is one of our shared interests and he hadn't seen the show live. The 20th anniversary tour was the perfect opportunity to fix that. Needless to say, we both loved it.


... that fantasy football season is almost over for me. My team was terrible this year. I'll be really glad when I can stop messing with my roster to TRY and have a shot at a win.


... that I got to attend my first ever Des Moines Buccaneers game last weekend.  It's been on my bucket list since I moved to the city, and I just hadn't gotten around to it. Free tickets (on the glass) helped me check it off.

... that there was good news about the pipeline over the weekend. It's about time!!



What's good with you?


Monday, December 5, 2016

Music Monday: Simple Plan - "Perfectly Perfect"

I am a sucker for stories about how people met. Sean and I love telling ours (and we still find it amusing).

The latest video from Simple Plan has collected some of these stories. It's adorable. And the song is sweet with a great message. I'm a teensy bit obsessed.




Friday, December 2, 2016

Turkey Trot 5K recap

For the second year in a row, I started my Thanksgiving with a 5K. The same race, actually.  I enjoyed the one I did last year so much, I decided to do it again.

And for the second year in a row, I ran into some friends unexpectedly before the race. Bryan and Lisa, with whom I went to college, were back in town from Texas for the holiday. I hadn't seen them in probably 10 years, so it was really fun to catch up and chat about our lives and our running goals. They had just done a half-marathon the previous weekend. Warriors.

Anyhow, I was not feeling very prepared for this 5K. To say I missed my November running goal of 30 miles in 30 days is an understatement. I was sick for one week and I just had so many other things going on. Not a great excuse, but it is what is. I'm disappointed in myself, but I'm choosing to just pick up and keep moving.

So I hadn't run a decent distance in more than a week before the race. I wasn't sure how my legs would react. Turns out they were fine ... at least after I got started. Right out of the gate, my ankles gave up and I nearly went tumbling to the ground. Somehow, I kept my footing and kept moving. But my ankles were sore for most of the run. I powered through regardless, and I felt pretty good when I crossed the finish line.



Time = 35:13

Not great, but not bad for someone who hasn't been running consistently.

+++++

Last week's workouts
Friday: Off
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Off
Monday: Cardio kickboxing

Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Yoga

Thursday: 2-mile run

I sound like a broken record, but I really am working to find my motivation to work out more and eat better.


Friday, November 11, 2016

Two weeks without my FitBit

A few Mondays ago, I was halfway to work when I realized I'd left my FitBit at home. I didn't have time to turn around. And it would have been silly anyway. 

Going back for my phone or coffee = acceptable. 

Going back for my FitBit = Nah. 

Throughout the day, I patted the spot where my FitBit usually is (I have the clip one, so I'm always checking to make sure it's still there). Eventually I stopped. And I wondered if I'd really and truly miss the little device. 


I've had a FitBit for five years now. There's been a day or two in there I didn't wear it. On accident. But it was pretty much my daily companion. I liked knowing how much I was moving and how far I was walking each day.

It's now been almost two weeks since I last wore my FitBit. I'm not sure I miss it. Sure, there are days I'm curious about my stepcount. But I don't feel like my activity level dropped because I left the FitBit behind. (I'm working out less, but it's because I'm spending more time writing right now.) 

It's also been kind of nice not being shamed for my lack of steps. I used to be a sucker for the daily and weekly challenges, but half the time they just made me feel bad about myself. Some people were hitting 25K to 30K steps a day. I don't know how. I guess their jobs are more active than mine. But it was discouraging. I could never beat them. And I hate to admit it, but when I never have a chance to win, I lose interest.

I'll probably put the FitBit on again at some point, but it's been interesting evaluating my dependence and favor to the device over the last two weeks.

+++++

Last week's workouts
Friday: Off
Saturday: 2 miles on the trail
Sunday: Off 
Monday: Off

Tuesday: 3 miles on the trail
Wednesday: Off

Thursday: 4 miles on the trail

Lots of running and not much else. I'll try to be more balanced next week.

+++++

Current mileage = 12

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Great Pumpkin Swap Reveal



When I've joined swaps in the past, I've always checked "no" on the option about my willingness to ship internationally. I'm probably not the only one. It can get expensive.

This year I went the other route and was paired with Erin at Texerin in Sydneyland. She's commented on my blog often, and she always has a kind word.  I had a blast shopping for her, and while it was expensive to ship, I'm still really happy I was paired with her. I mean, look at all the goodies she sent me:

- A kangaroo mug
- A beautiful postcard with a handwritten message
- A koala holding a flag
- A cat pen
- Three kinds of candy, including Teasers (which had kind of a crispy rice in chocolate), mint chocolate BB's and caramel koalas.

You better believe I've opened all the candy. I think the mint chocolate BB's are my favorite so far, but they're all delicious.

Thanks so much Erin!!


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Show Us Your Books: October

Life According to Steph

I'm still completely hooked on suspense and thriller books. I've tried picking up a few lighter things, but they just didn't hold my interest. I'll go back to them when I'm out of this phase.


This book takes the lives of four seemingly separate women and eventually shows you how they weave together. Honestly, I figured some of it out pretty easily, but there were still a few revelations that caught me off guard. Ultimately, it made me think a lot about the choices we make and the impact they can have in the long-term.


I picked up this book on my kindle through some free offer from Amazon. I don't even remember why I got it. Either way, it sounded interesting and fed my current fascination with suspense and thrillers. It took me a really long time to figure out where this was going and what was happening, but the story flows really well and the characters were intriguing even if not all of them were very likeable.


I purchased this book with a gift card from a friend. I liked the description and the cover (sometimes you can judge a book by them). It took me a while to figure out that the book was basically written in reverse.  And I'm still not sure how I feel about it. Sure, it made the story more suspenseful, but it got a bit confusing sometimes.

++++

I feel like November is going to be lighter on the reading side as I will be focusing a lot of my time on writing and National Novel Writing Month.


Friday, November 4, 2016

October fitness recap

I know the journey to getting in better shape is a slow and steady one.  And little goals along the way will help me reach my overall goal.  So I have fitness benchmarks I want to reach each month.

Goals
Work out 16 days a month.  Grade = B
I was really close, but not quite there.

Strength training once a week.  Grade = B
I missed BodyPump last week. And trust me, I'm missing it.

Track my food each day.  Grade = C
Meh. Some days I just don't feel like it.

+++++
12 Races in 2016 update:
My boyfriend joined me for the Superhero 5K.


+++++

Last week's workouts
Friday: Off
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Off 
Monday: Yoga at home

Tuesday: 3-mile run
Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Off

Not my greatest week. At all. My motivation is missing lately -- probably because of everything else I'm trying to do. But I'll find it again.

+++++

Oh yeah, and there's this now ...

Current mileage = 3

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Stuff & Things 11/3



:: Yesterday was a really tough day here in my city. In case you didn't hear, two police officers were shot and killed while sitting in their patrol cars in the early morning hours of Nov. 2. The shootings happened roughly 20 minutes apart and were perpetrated by the same guy, who ambushed the officers. The suspect was apprehended less than 10 hours after the shootings. It was heartbreaking news to wake up to, and I was angry, sad, and scared for most of the day. These two officers were just doing their jobs. They didn't deserve to be ambushed and murdered. And then I get on social media and see people politicizing the event. No. Just no.  RIP Sgt Beminio and Officer Martin. Thank you for your service. I'm so sorry you were taken out by such a coward.


:: Speaking of politics, I'll be really glad when this election is over. I'm not convinced all of the tension and crap will go away, but I'm hoping it will at least start to.


:: On a happier note, congrats to the Chicago Cubs on their World Series win. I know lots and lots of happy people right now (and also a few sad and angry ones). Congrats also to the Cleveland Indians, who have absolutely nothing to hang their heads about after the way they plowed through the postseason. I didn't have a dog in the fight, so to speak, but I was really pleased to see the series go a full seven games. I love baseball, so I wanted the season to stretch as far as it could. This series gave me everything I could have wanted as a fan of the game.


:: I'm once again in the midst of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I really need to make progress on book three of my baseball romance series. It's been a slow start so far. This character is just tougher to get into. (P.S. Blogging might take a backseat for the next month or so.)


:: As if that's not enough, I've also decided to take on a running challenge this month because I really want to get back to running more regularly.  I'll update my weekly mileage in my Friday posts.  Think I can do it?



Yeah, I'm probably biting off more than I can chew. Ah well.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Putting bad days in perspective



A friend of mine posted this on Facebook recently and it really struck me. I realized I am very guilty of this mentality.

- Someone cuts me off in traffic.

- A customer calls and complains.

- I lose an arbitration hearing.

- A friend posts a hateful political meme.

- My favorite sports team loses.

- A coffee shop or restaurant messes up my order or takes too long to fill it.


Each of these events are things that consume mere minutes of my day and yet I can stretch them into an all-day dramatic affair. I can turn one negative moment into a terrible day. I basically turn into Alexander.


Ever since I saw this post, I've been more mindful when bad things happen to me. When I catch myself feeling grumpy or angry, I take a moment to identify what triggered the mood. Then I think about how long the actual event happened and whether it truly had any trickle down. More often than not, it did not. It was one isolated bad moment in an otherwise neutral or even good day. Then I work to get over whatever's bothering me.



Now, I'm not saying pity parties aren't allowed. They certainly are. Every now and then, I just have to have one to get the feelings out of my system.  But I'm trying to be more aware of how often these happen and make sure they're fully warranted.



Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Unique and perfect finds at Uncommon Goods

This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links.

When I bought my first house a few years ago, I loved adding all the touches to make it mine. Coats of paint and wall hangings helped turn an otherwise bland ranch-style house into my home.

A welcome mat was also a key feature. It had to be just right. I searched local stores but wasn't impressed with the offerings. So I began to look online. That's when I found this:

[source]


I found it at Uncommon Goods. It was absolutely perfect for me. I still have the mat. Five years later. Mine doesn't look as the one pictured above. It's definitely showing some wear, but I'm holding out on a new one until I buy my next house.

Uncommon Goods has lots of other goodies as well -- games, gifts, jewelry, art, and other home furnishings. Many of the products are "green" or sustainable as the company strives to have a positive impact on the environment and the world as a whole. They partner with artists and small manufacturers to offer unique items, which make for memorable gifts and purchases. 

Here are some of the other items that have been added to my wishlist:

They also have them for basketball, hockey, football, and soccer!

I would wear this almost all the time.


When I have a bigger place, I'll be all about hosting game night with friends. This would be a blast.


I also spied some items I could give to others:

This would be an adorable wedding gift.


I have a few friends who are pregnant. Muahahaha. 


I have a few friends who love owls, and this is very classy and pretty.


There's so much to look at on the site, but Uncommon Goods can help you find the perfect gift for your friend, relative, or colleague. The web site is really well organized and categorized making it easy to find gifts for celebrating love, honoring your bros or girlfriends, or just unique finds.

** Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Music Monday: Pentatonix - "Hallelujah"

Everyone and their mother has covered this Leonard Cohen classic. There's a reason -- it's a beautiful song with a great message. I've heard it hundreds of times and in a variety of styles.  This Pentatonix rendition is gorgeous and chill-inducing.


By the way, Pentatonix has a new Christmas album out. Acapella holiday tunes are always a win with me.



Friday, October 28, 2016

Superhero 5K recap

Last Sunday marked the sixth anniversary of my first ever 5K (I only know that thanks to TimeHop). Appropriately enough, I ended up doing a 5K on that day. I'd say that's a good way to celebrate!

I participated in the Superhero Heart Run 5K, which aimed to raise funds and awareness for congenital heart defects. Yesterday I found out there were more than 400 participants in the race and we raised more than $15K for the cause. It was a little shy of their $20K goal, but still very impressive. 

As you might know, I usually do my races solo. I don't mind it, honestly. I like being on my own time table. And I usually end up finding interesting people to chat up while I'm waiting for the race to start. But I had company for this 5K. 


My boyfriend ran cross country in high school and college, but he hasn't really done any running since then. For whatever reason, he decided to join me at this race. As the raceday got closer, he expressed nervousness about running again. Mostly, he was worried about his expectations for himself and how he would handle finishing much slower than he did when he was running competitively. I am guilty of comparing my finish times to where I was a year, two years, or three years ago. I know I'm slower, and it's largely because I'm not training as much. Reminding him that the times aren't that important and that the main thing is to finish and feel good was also a reminder to myself.

He ended up finishing quite a while before me and I'm pretty sure he was sore for a few days after. I'm not sure if he'll join me for another race, but it was fun sharing the event with him. Oh, and we got capes. They're pretty cool!

+++++

Last week's workouts
Friday: Off
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Superhero 5K
Monday: Off 
Tuesday: Barre
Wednesday: FitFusion

Thursday: Off

I was kind of lazy with my workouts this week. The cool temperatures and early darkness kind of suck my motivation. I'll need to try and find it again soon.



Thursday, October 27, 2016

Stuff & Things 10/27



:: I am supposed to be in Minneapolis today, visiting friends and heading to the Tour de Compadres show featuring NEEDTOBREATHE, Welshly Arms, Mat Kearney, and Parachute. But ... life has happened and I realized I needed to put more focus on some of my financial priorities (i.e. buying a house next year). So I surrendered the ticket and am staying home. Adulting, right?


:: Over the weekend, my company upgraded the software I need to do my job. On Monday, there were a ton of glitches with the software. In the first three hours of work, I was only able to use the program for about 20 minutes. It was not a good start to the week. So I decided to cheer myself up by finally spending a Half Price Books gift card I got last Christmas.  Have you read any of these titles?


:: The other day, Eric Hutchinson announced he's going on an indefinite hiatus from touring. That life has to be exhausting, so I can't blame him. I'm really glad I went to see him when he stopped in Des Moines last month. By the way, he's started blogging and has had some excellent posts so far. Check him out if you're interested.


:: My boyfriend brought me "just because" flowers on Saturday. Is there a better kind of flowers?



What's up with you this week?

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