Pump me up.

Happy Halloween!

Tomorrow morning I’m running an 8K.  I’m scared and I feel unprepared.  It’s a difficult race–5 miles on what looks to be a hilly course–and I haven’t been putting in the miles like I’d hoped since I’ve been kind of adjusting to my new job for the last two weeks.  The upside?  They’re predicting weather in the 60s and sunny, so HOPEFULLY I won’t be struggling with my cold-induced breathing problems.

This is how I behaved all morning, since I slept way late:


Then I went to pick up my race stuff.  Is there such a thing as a race shirt that isn’t godawful ugly?  Note to race organizers: white backgrounds are okay.  So are grey, and black!  My last four race

shirts have been poo brown, offensively bright red, teal, and now pumpkin orange.  Yick.


And of course, my number and chip:


In other news, Milhouse hates us:


It was $4 at Petsmart.  I couldn’t resist.

Now, I don’t usually blog abut food, but I did find two things at the grocery store I am irrationally excited about.  First of all: PEANUT BUTTER BANANA ICE CREAM.

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I have to have something sweet every night, and I had an aha! moment at the grocery store last night when I realized I am much more conscious of portion sizes when I buy the tiny pints of ice cream instead of the huge gallons.  So, from now on, high quality pints it is.  I had a little bit of this last night and it was awesome–banana ice cream with peanut butter swirls and chocolate PB cups in it.  And I sprinkled a few dark chocolate chips on top for good measure.  I am not a fan of banana flavored things usually, but this was incredible.  I’m definitely going to be buying it again.

And I also found these!

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I am a big fan of sandwich thins.  (For some reason, on most blogs, they’re called Arnold Sandwich Thins, but here they’re called Oroweat Sandwich Thins.  Same thing, though.)  Previously, they’ve had Multi-Grain and Whole Wheat, which I think taste exactly the same.  However, these are new, and they’re Honey Wheat!  I haven’t tried one yet, but I am excited to give them a whirl.

Anyway, I’m off to do a ton of laundry, field trick-or-treaters, and create a pump-me-up playlist for tomorrow.  My goal originally was to finish in under 50:00, but now, heck, I’ll be happy if I finish upright.  Less than 50:00 will be a huge surprise and a major bonus.  I’ll update you in the morning!

How do you get pumped mentally for a race you’re worried about?

Other Weddings I Love #1

I love our wedding, and I am so happy we’re going to have a fresh, slightly vintage, springy feel.  I love our color scheme and I have no regrets.

That said…sometimes I just see weddings, or pictures of weddings online or otherwise, that flabbergast me with their beauty and elegance and whimsy and I wish I could blatantly copy them.   So, from time to time, I’m now going to share some of my favorite photos from other weddings.  Most of these ladies I’ve “met” on the Knot and not only did they have lovely weddings, but they are truly nice and funny and smart.  Since obviously what we’re doing for our wedding won’t be everyone’s cup of tea (and I can only yammer on about my own plans for so long before I start boring myself), here’s a taste of what some of my favorite ladies have done!

Veronika had a beautiful pink and damask wedding last May.  She also has an awesome beauty blog that is definitely worth checking out.  And I would obviously take beauty advice from her:

This is why I love peonies:

I’d never heard of damask before I started wedding planning, but now I love it.  Obviously:

And I love a good sparkler exit:

(Above photos by Craig Davis with Studio563)

Knottie ring_pop‘s wedding made me fall in love with plum and green together, and kick myself for not thinking of it when I was making such decisions for our own wedding.  I love this photo–the flowers are gorgeous, and so is the mehndi:

I love the entire wedding party’s look-the colors look so lush, and everything is coordinated but not too matchy-matchy:

How cute are the mini bride and groom cake toppers?

I just have to post this one because of the caption ring_pop put by it, proof of her awesome attitude and why I think she’s great.

She says, “YES: proof that it won’t matter whether your dress matches his shirt matches the linens. My dress was ivory, his shirt and tie were white, and the linens were white. Oh and just for good measure, the cake was ivory and the cake topper bride wore white.”

And it still looks gorgeous.

(Above photos by Jill Promoli Photography)

Aren’t these incredible? I have several more weddings lined up and will be posting them intermittently over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

Terrible, horrible, no good very bad day

Today was one.

It actually started right at midnight, when the dog started barking (for the first time ever–we’ve never heard him bark before) because the neighbors had some kind of tow truck ruckus going on in their driveway.  Obviously, this woke me up and discombobulated me altogether.

Then, I had to be at work at 7 a.m. to set up for a big event.  Since there’s a half hour commute and a dog walk involved, and I usually snooze twice, this means my alarm went off at 5 a.m…awesome.  Got up, walked the dog, left, fine.  Oh, and it has been pouring rain all day, just to set the scene.

Let me disclaim this with I like my job and this in no way means I don’t like it anymore.  In fact, I do like it, and today’s shortcomings were pretty much entirely my fault.

First of all, I didn’t realize I’d be literally on my feet all day.  My cute heels are fine for everyday work, because I’m mostly at my desk.  But I was running up and down halls, hauling tables and chairs, etc.  And my feet were KILLING me.  They are actually swollen right now and hurt a whole bunch.  I am dying to buy a pair of the Cole Haan heels with the Nike Air stuff inside, but…they’re expensive.  Poop.

Then there was the food issue.  Because of the nature of my job, when there are big events I can’t really sit down to a  nice lunch.  There were boxed lunches with slimy gross deli meat sandwiches anyway.  So…naturally, I just let myself get really hungry HOPING I’d make it until 2 when the event was over to have my almond butter and jam sandwich I’d packed. I always panic when I get hungry, so, what do I do?  Eat a bag of chips, and a donut, both scarfed quickly in .25 seconds each.   Neither item is remotely satiating and they both just make me feel gross.  Awesome.

THEN, once the event is over I get an e-mail from T.  I left before he was awake this morning and assumed he’d feed the dog when he got up…but he had assumed I’d fed him before I left.  Oops.  So, I feel awful, knowing our dog is crated and probably even hungrier than I was.  And I’m exhausted.

So, after a 9.2 hour workday with no breaks my boss finally said “You look exhausted.  Go home.”  And I did.  I don’t feel remotely bad about not working out.  I can barely fathom getting up off the couch to go make dinner right now.  My pants are soaking wet from walking the dog in the rain and as soon as T gets home I’m going to take a nice, long, hot shower and put on clean, dry PJs before a nice warm dinner.  My bedtime tonight will probably be about 8:00.  Please excuse the lack of pictures–this has not been a day I care to document!

Anyway, what’s your best remedy for turning a bad day around when you’re in no state to work out?


My nemesis.

Well, that’s a bit of an overstatement.  Challenge, maybe?

My office celebrates holidays like most others do: a few paper cutouts on the wall and tons of food.  Since it’s Halloween, the obvious culprit is Halloween candy.  They are especially sneaky this year–we are hosting two groups of children that will come in to trick or treat to our offices.  One group was today (which I missed since I was out doing some business stuff) and one group is Friday.  So, of course, we have to bring in candy or we’ll look like the Office Scrooge.

I’ve been putting off buying Halloween candy until last weekend.  If you buy it in September, you’ll just eat it before the holiday, so I try to keep it out of the house for as long as possible.  Then I try to keep the bag sealed for as long as possible, because once it’s unsealed it’s like the demon mouth of hell opens and the shit hits the fan.  I won’t say I have NO self control, but when it comes to snacking, if it’s bite-sized and within my reach, it’s murderous.  Anyway, I filled my cute candy pumpkin this morning and brought it in.  And it’s sitting on my desk, taunting me.  No lie, it’s hard.

Here is the candy pumpkin of death and her sweet, sweet innards:

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I don’t mind a little candy now and then, and I think I did pretty well today.  I had one piece in the morning in lieu of my usual apple (not the best, but calories are calories in the end, and I’m out of apples anyway) and one after lunch.  In a perfect world, I would eat none, but in that perfect world I’d also be a sad, deprived woman.   In a past life, I would have probably had at least four or five pieces over the course of the day, so I think cutting it in half, at least, and finishing the day with a good workout is a pretty good compromise, no?

Anyway, we had an errand to run after work so I just did a three mile run at the gym.  Good times.  My lungs were fine–I think I’m pinpointing things such that running/fast walking in cold air is what triggers me.  I speedwalked to the gym on Monday before I ran, and it was pretty chilly that day, and sure enough, my lungs were bad.  Today was warmer and I walked slowly and it was fine.  So, that’s…something.

How do you stay away from the Halloween candy?  And, more importantly, what are you giving away this year?


In the comments section yesterday, Inmytummy wrote:

Is this planning thing stressful to you? You seem so calm!

and I thought, hey, that’s a good question to answer in a post.

The answer is yes and no.  Obviously.  Wedding planning is really what you make it.  To have a wedding, you need a bride, a groom, an officiant, maybe $50 for a license and a witness.  Your wedding, contrary to popular belief, does not require a monogrammed unity candle, ribbon wands, or even a dress.  I try to keep this in mind when making wedding decisions–ultimately, everything but me and T and the officiant is gravy.  Nothing is required, other than what we’ve made ourselves require by hosting guests.

When you get a little more complicated and have guests at your wedding, etiquette requires a few more things.  Contrary to what some brides think, etiquette is not antiquated.  Etiquette is what makes guests feel welcomed and appreciated.  Did you know that wedding receptions are for the bride and groom to recieve their guests and thank them for attending?  Shocker, because from the wedding shows I’ve seen on TV, you think the reception is “all about the bride and groom.”  The phrase “it’s my day” makes me want to throw things. 

When you host wedding guests, you need to feed them, if the reception is during a mealtime and provide them with a seat at the wedding (no standing, thanks).  If you can’t afford food, host a reception that falls maybe between 2 and 4 o’clock and have cake and punch.  It doesn’t have to be an elaborate seated dinner.  Hands down, the best wedding food I’ve ever had was a barbecue buffet catered from a local joint for probably under $10 per person.  It’s doable, and it makes you look like a good person.  (And delicious.)  It’s common decency.

Phew, okay.  Back to the original question.  I am pretty relaxed about wedding planning because I try to keep those basic priorities in mind:

  • Maintain a good relationship with T.
  • Have an officiant.
  • Have witnesses.
  • Get a marriage license.
  • Food for the guests.
  • Seating for the guests.

Everything else is just not necessary.  Even if I blanked and didn’t book a florist, the wedding would go on just fine.  Is it what I want?  Well, no.  But I generally keep a level head about things that do not compromise any of the above.

I will confess to throwing one bridezilla fit.  Long story short, it involves some stated rules posted online not being followed by the people who promulgated the rules, and it involved one or more of the things above.  But instead of taking it out on the person, (after crying and throwing a temper tantrum in the comfort of my own home), I just removed myself from the situation and asked the sweet, level-headed, logical, and patient T to deal with the issue for the rest of the wedding planning.  And it’s been fine.  I didn’t flip out on anyone but my couch pillows (and, well, okay, my mom via phone and I ranted generally in T’s direction but not AT him for awhile) because where would that get us?  Shit outta luck, that’s where. 

So, yes, generally I am pretty laid-back about this.  Here are my tips for keeping a generally pleasant engagement.

  • Prioritize.  At the end of the day, just ask, “Will we be legally wed, and gracious hosts, if we don’t have this?”  IF the answer is yes, it’s not really worth your energy flipping out over.
  • Have a long engagement… We will have had a 16-month engagement when all is said and done.  I get to do things in small chunks, and stop planning altogether for awhile if I get frustrated.
  • …but not too long.  I think our 16 months is pushing it–ideally, I think a year long engagement is perfect.  You’ll have plenty of time to relax, but still get to enjoy being engaged.  We’ve been engaged for 9.5 months now and I”m starting to get a teensy bit ready to get the show on the road already.
  • Delegate.  People love to help with weddings.  My mom and aunts, in particular, have ASKED for “wedding jobs” to do, so I’m using them.  I could care less what the flower girl’s basket looks like, but my mom collects baskets and loves them, so I asked her to figure that out and she’s thrilled.   One aunt volunteers at a Goodwill store and is collecting photo frames for our collection of family photos.  Be kind and gracious to these people and write thank you notes.  Don’t ask for help from people other than your fiance, but if they offer it, feel free to accept.
  • Use the groom.  If he’s old enough to be getting married, he’s old enough to help you.  Don’t make him do the stuff that he doesn’t care about, like pick out bridesmaid’s dresses.  Is he into computers?  He can make a wedding website.  Does he like to tinker around with carpentry?  Have him make a card box.  Good with directions?  He can write out the directions for the invitation. 
  • Chill.  Generally, just chill.  I asked T once what was important to him wedding-wise, expecting to hear “delicious cake” or “cleavage baring dresses” as a wise-ass response.  But he said simply, “That we are legally wed at the end of the day.”  When you can sense a bridezilla fit building, just remind yourself–even if things aren’t perfect, you will still be married when all is said and done.
  • Remember the following: Nobody cares about your wedding as much as you do.  Don’t get the notion that they should. 
  • Pick your battles.  I stand up for the things I care about–and let the ones I don’t go.  I refuse to fight for things that aren’t worth fighting for.

What are your tips for keeping wedding related stress low?

Adjusting expectations

First, an update–I’ve made a doctor’s appointment for a week from Friday to get my lungs looked at.  I do think this is a combination of the remnants of my childhood asthma reacting to the new chillier climate and the fall weather (I’m highly allergic to dead tree leaves).  I’ve been wheezing intermittently throughout work today, so I hope that’s a sign that it’s not just me being out of shape.

Today at the gym I decided to set myself up for success.  Honestly, after a full day’s work, and getting much less sleep than I was used to during funemployment (RIP), I am going to have to lower my expectations a little bit.  And that’s okay. Instead of my old 60-90 minute workouts, I’m shooting for 45 minutes.   And, perhaps a more important goal–I’m aiming to NOT be disappointed with myself for cutting back.  I can only expect so much from myself.  I am adjusting my food intake slightly to accomodate, and I think that just as a function of being awake for 17 hours a day as opposed to my former 13-14 hours a day I’ll burn more calories anyway.  It will be okay.  Fitness is supposed to be fun, and it won’t be fun for me if I push back too hard and take too much time away from my family and relaxation.

Anyway, that said, I went in today with an adjusted set of goals.  I would work out for 45 minutes.  I wanted to run two miles, and then either lift weights or do more cardio if I felt like it.  Doable.  No need to bust my butt training for Sunday’s 8K–I know I can finish upright; yes, I might walk a little; I’m dealing with some health issues I don’t normally have.  It will be a fun, scenic run/walk, and I am going to make T bring Milhouse so I have an adorable little dog pawing me happily at the end.

All the treadmills were, sadly, full, except for a very large, cage-like intimidating one on the end.  An incline trainer!  I’ve heard of these.  So, I used it.  It was a little claustrophobic and I was sad that the TV screen didn’t work.  Otherwise, it was perfectly adequate.  I ran the two miles and my lungs felt great!

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Then I found a video spin bike!  Cool, huh?  This one was like a video game–you had to move the handlebars, and there was a pacer for you to chase and it was HARD.   (I suppose that’s what I get for picking the “challenging” course, fancying myself a bit of a badass.)  I think the “race” I did was 8 miles.  Pretty cool–will definitely be using this until I can actually afford a road bike.

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How have you adjusted your expectations to deal with schedule changes?

I think I’ve settled on…

The design of the actual informational part of our invitations.

Backing up for a minute: I have an aunt who is awesome at stamping and making cards, who immediately volunteered to help me with invitations.  I am so, so grateful for her help, but I’ve tried numerous stamps and embossing things and nothing really seems to work for me.  I love what I’ve come up with, I just need to execute it now.  This will likely involve a lot of cutting and swearing and complaining.   Good times!  I look forward to these little darlings sucking up my weekends from now until March.

The actual invitation part is white paper with the pink rose printed on it, with an overlay of ivory vellum with the wording printed on it.

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And the inserts:

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I still have some work to do on where everything gets placed and how it gets cut, but that’s a pretty good approximation of how it will be.  I really like the touch of pink the flowers add, without being too overwhelming.

What do you think?  Yay or nay?

New gym!

New gyms are exciting, but in an awkward, first day of high school kind of way.  Except instead of cafeteria seats, the issue is which treadmill to pick.  Do you want to run next to Sweaty Guy, or Ambling Old Woman, or Heavily Perfumed Teen?  Who should you avoid?  (At my last gym, it was Woman With Toddler Seeking Friend To Become Babysitter and Man Who Grunts.)  I was filled with anxious anticipation all day long.

Anyway, all day I couldn’t make up my mind as to what I wanted to do.  I brought general cardio clothes, so swimming was definitely out.  (Also, the fact that I am a crap swimmer.  I can do lots of backstroke laps, though.  Does that count?  I might do that later this week.)  I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to try running on the swanky treadmills with the iPod syncing and television screens, running on the indoor track, other cardio, or weights.  So many choices!

Ultimately, I decided to run because ohmygodI’mrunningan8KonSunday.  Whoops.  Haven’t done a whole lot of running for the last two weeks, so yeah, I needed to do that if for no other reason than to build up a little confidence.  It doesn’t help that this looks like a kind of hilly 8K, and it’s been too cold and dark/I’ve been working/cold makes me wheezy for me to conquer the ones in my neighborhood lately.

But first, around 4, I had a pre-workout snack.  I warmed it up and it melted, kind of.  It was good, but I’m not a big white chocolate person.

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Then I went to the gym and changed!

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And then I ran on the fancy pants treadmill. It is hard to take a picture while running.  FYI.

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And…it kind of sucked.   I ran two miles and then I felt like I was being strangled.  I really, really need to go to a doctor and get this whole asthma thing checked out.  I’m hesitating because I’m being self-loathing and thinking that it’s my fault and I’m out of shape.  Logically, that seems incorrect, but it also seems logically incorrect that suddenly my asthma would be back for no reason.  Sigh.  I then did about 15 minutes on the stairmaster and ran a lap on the track just to see if I liked it (I did).  I do not feel great about my race on Sunday AT ALL right now.

Anyway, it’s a very nice gym and I think I’ll like it once I get my various lung issues in order.  The track was a fun way to run that was a little different than the treadmill, and the people seemed nice and there was plenty of room.  And towel service!

What do you do when you’re having health issues?  How do you deal with it mentally?

DIY programs

Well, all weekend I’ve been plugging away on getting the design down for my programs and my invitations.  I first of all have to give tons of credit to Knot user Macdidlyicious, who has a wonderful bio full of templates for wedding invitations, water bottle labels, programs, and all sorts of other downloadable goodness.  For these, I used the tea-length program template, and discovered the gorgeous Rose font for the pictures.  (The regular font is Albemarle.  All our wedding stuff uses a combo of Albemarle, Albemarle Swash, and Albemarle End Swash, depending on the degree of swash required.)

Here’s what I  came up with.  I will probably get a thinner ribbon, but this is what I had laying around.  I also got some chocolate on my mock-up.  Oops.  This will have to be done pretty close to the wedding, but I’m going to cut the blue backing in the coming months so there’s a little less to do right before.

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Page two:

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Again, a million thanks to Macdidlyicious for her excellent templates (and congratulations to her on her recent wedding)!

What do you think?  Thumbs up?

The best spaghetti sauce you will ever eat

So, this is a secret, treasured family recipe.  And I’m sharing it with you.  You should be honored, and then immediately proceed to your kitchen to make this.  My mother makes a double batch of this every year the day after Thanksgiving, and my whole extended family has a big pasta dinner after a tough day at the Black Friday sales.  It is incredible, and I’m pretty sure it’s also incredibly healthy–lots of veggies, and you can use very lean beef or ground turkey, and far less sodium than store-bought spaghetti sauce.

Once in awhile I make a batch for me and T and freeze it so we can have high quality spaghetti sauce.  We’re out, so it’s about that time again.  Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 -28 oz. can tomato puree
  • 21 oz. water
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 lb. ground beef (I’ve also used ground turkey with good results)
  • 1 onion, diced fine
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 – 1 green pepper diced fine
  • 1 can mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

And my mom’s instructions: put tomato puree, water, tomato paste, mushrooms and spices in a pot.  Brown ground beef in a pan adding 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper per pound(this is in addition to the salt and pepper you put in your tomato puree and water).

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Drain and add to the tomato puree and water mixture.  Saute onion, green pepper and garlic.  (Brie note: we leave out the green pepper because we don’t like it.)  I add a little water so it doesn’t stick.  You can either add a little water and then drain it and add to your sauce OR you can use a couple of ounces from the 21 and then you don’t have to bother draining it.

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I usually taste it after everything is put together because the salt and sugar is crucial to the flavor.  You may have to add a little more salt and/or sugar to get the flavor just right.

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This stuff is seriously good.  It spoils me.  I don’t want to eat pasta sauce from a jar after this.  Make it.  Trust me.

In other news, tomorrow I’m going to my new gym for the first time.  I’m excited.  Also, (holy crap) I’m running an 8K in a week.  I don’t feel prepared at all, but I think it’s just my body being silly after a rest week.  I’ll be fine!