Happy Easter!

Today started out with Tim telling me I was not allowed out of bed because I woke up feeling gross.  Post-nasal drip is foul—the sludge piles up overnight and I woke up with a raw throat and upset stomach.

BUT, I knew I’d feel better once I got up and moving, so I ignored him and quickly got ready for church.  I really love services on Easter Sunday—they’re so cheery and happy.

Since many of you liked my dress, I took a full-body shot.  Yes, I re-wore it.  That’s the beauty of an intentionally wrinkled dress—you can’t get it wrinkled!  I got it at Target last summer for $19.99 and I get complimented on it more than any other piece of clothing I owned.

Apologies for the awkwardface.  And our messy house.0404 001

Anyway, services were lovely, including the baptism of a chubby little baby with adorable sticking-up dark hair. 

I am so glad I went—the sermon was actually (kind of) about running!  Our pastor was talking about resurrection, and how when you think all hope is gone there are miracles and triumphs of the human spirit.  She started talking about Team Hoyt.  (You should definitely go read their full story.)  Basically, the son was born with severe brain damage as a quadriplegic, and the doctors told his parents to give up on him and put him in a home because he’d be a vegetable.   They didn’t give up hope, and their son went on to graduate college, and his father has pushed him in over 1,000 races—everything from 5Ks to Ironman Triathlons (and a 2:40 marathon!  Holy cow!).

It was exactly what I needed to hear.  I’m not intensely religious, though I do enjoy going to church, and obviously, in my “I don’t know if I can do this” state re: half marathon, this really spoke to me.  I won’t give up hope and I will keep fighting.

We stopped on the way home for a little sale Easter candy, since the Easter Bunny did not come to our house.  Yum!0404 002

Then I went home and baked peanutty banana chocolate chip muffins.  They are delicious and will be heading too work with Tim tomorrow.0404 008

Easter dinner?  Rachel at Shedding It’s Prosciutto-wrapped Pork Loin, Christmas rice, and steamed green beans.

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This recipe for pork was MAGICAL.  It was nice and moist.  I usually shy away from pork because it always comes out dry and tough, but this was awesome.  This will definitely be going in our rotation.

I overcooked the green beans, though.

For dessert, I made Cookie Dough Brownies.  They are chilling in the fridge as we speak.

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Someone requested the recipe for these bad boys earlier this week, so here you go!

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0404 007 I cut down on prep time by just using a brownie mix for the brownie part.  The cookie dough topping and glaze is really the important part!

Here are a few more recipes that people wanted to see!

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Pretzel Jello SOUNDS gross, but is secretly delicious.  I swear. 

I’ve never tried the make-your-own-cleaning wipes, either!

Anyway, I think we are going to take Milhouse for a nice long walk outside while it’s still light out.  I hope you enjoyed your Easter!

Recommend your favorite pump-you-up songs for my half marathon playlist.  I have an hour and a half on there now, so I need at least another 45 minutes to an hour (unless I suddenly become Speedy Gonzalez.)  Help!

Irish eyes are smiling

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  I have not celebrated in any way at all today, which makes me a little sad.  I didn’t have the foresight to pack green clothing, unfortunately.  However, I am indeed Irish—75%.  (The other 25% is northern Italian.)  My mom’s maiden name begins with O’ and my paternal grandmother’s maiden name starts with Mc.   I have pale skin, freckles on my shoulders, and enjoy beer more than I should.  I think that qualifies me, no?  Growing up, we would always have corned beef, boiled potatoes and cabbage and soda bread today.  Last year I made soda bread, but this year I’ve been lame and forgotten altogether.  Fail.

Anyway.   Woke up in a hotel room.  My room service breakfast order showed up shortly thereafter.  On the menu today?  More food than I’d intended.  The card I filled out was for eggs and toast and coffee only, but much to my surprise, I got scrambled eggs, bacon, breakfast potatoes, orange juice, and coffee.

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The eggs were terrible.  So was the bacon.  So, I had toast, potatoes, orange juice and coffee for breakfast.  Not the healthiest, but such is life.

I did my work thang in the morning and got on the road back to Kansas City around noon.  It was a four hour drive.  After the coffee debacle, I decided to grab lunch BEFORE I got on the road.

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It was a long, foggy, boring drive.  Thank goodness for Dan Savage podcasts.

Somewhere along the way, I decided I might as well do my long run today.  I’d be back at the office at 3, meaning I could be at the gym by 3:30, do the run, and be home before 6.  If I waited to do it tomorrow, I wouldn’t be able to start until 5 and wouldn’t be home until 7:30 or 8!  Plus, I got a lot of sleep last night and was sitting on my bum all day.

I changed and walked over to the gym.  I wasn’t sure if I’d want two gels or one, so I brought two just in case.  I also brought some Gatorade powder because I remember craving it during my run last week. 

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And…the running commenced.  Today marked the start of double-digits for me with my first 10 miler!  I broke it into two 5 mile segments.  I took the Tri-Berry Gu at mile 5, and refilled my water bottle and added some of the Gatorade powder.

The first five miles weren’t bad, and I definitely felt a nice energy rush after the Gu.  But at about mile 7.5, my energy started to wane.  Fine.  I can push through low energy.  But at mile 9, I realized I probably a) should have saved the gatorade for post run and b) probably should have incorporated both gels into the run.  My stomach started feeling kind of barfy and sloshy.  Nonetheless, I pushed through, literally counting down the seconds until the 10 miles were done!

All in all, 10 miles in 1:40:00—I stuck the treadmill at 6.0 and left it there.  (I took maybe 1 minute to reset the treadmill and fill my bottle, but whatever.)  It wasn’t a bad run, but I think that I learned that 9 miles and over requires two Gus—maybe at mile 4 and 8 or something.  I also forgot a stick of gum, which helps with dry mouth, so I drank too much water which I think contributed to the stomach issues.

My right foot is also a hot mess.  It kind of reminds me of raw ground turkey.  And the toenail just keeps getting blacker.  Sigh. 

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In other news, remember the awful yellow flowered capris Victoria’s Secret sent me instead of my rehearsal dinner dress?  Well, the actual rehearsal dress showed up yesterday.

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I need to wear it with Spanx to smooth everything out, because it’s a little clingy, but I do like it and the price/casualness level was perfect.  I think I’ll wear it with some kind of sandal, maybe.  It’ll also be good to take on the honeymoon. 

So, that’s that.  10 miles, in the books, and I lived to tell the tale.  Just tack a 5K onto that and I’ve got a half marathon!  Eep!

Are you Irish? Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

Olympics Day!

Happy Olympics day!

I listened to myself and brought eggs for lunch.  I think I overcooked them, so they weren’t great.  I’m still a bit iffy on microwave eggs.  Sigh.

In nerdier news, I downloaded a whole bunch of Olympic video profiles of athletes to watch while I was at the gym (for free).  It was nothing groundbreaking, but interesting enough to pass the time (and pump me up for the opening ceremonies)!

I realized that all I had for a snack this afternoon was very calorie-dense bars.  So I had this PowerBar Harvest Toffee Chocolate Chip bar.  It was okay–not as good as the other flavor I tried awhile back, though.

Then I went to the gym.  Rather than try to get a real long run in today, I decided to just feel my shins out and go from there.  I ran a mile–at the end I felt a few tiny twinges of shin pain, so I stopped and hit the elliptical for 20 minutes instead.  Then, I was on my way out…and there were several free treadmills…and I couldn’t resist.  I hopped back on and ran a fast 9 minute mile pain-free as well.  I feel like the rest is what my shins needed, and I’m confident that after taking off Saturday and Sunday I’ll be back in the saddle Monday with a little more ice and foam rolling.  It’s such a relief to know (I think, anyway) that what I did worked.  I really, really think my body just likes several rest days after 6-8 weeks of consistent exercise.

Anyway, I got home, and the Shape subscription my sister got me for Christmas started with double duty!  I’m looking forward to reading these.

I also got a cute Valentine’s Day gift from my boss (the flowers and chocolate) and a most adorable Valentine from my talented card-making aunt.

Now we’re eating pizza and watching the start of the Opening Ceremonies.  U-S-A!  U-S-A!

Olympics: love, hate, or neutral?

DL Day Two

Self-appointed DL, day two.

Today I tried another new product–Yoplait’s Greek yogurt, this time in Honey Vanilla.  I liked this flavor better than the strawberry–it was more Greek yogurty to me!  I enjoyed it with some frozen strawberries.  Except when it’s seasonal, I buy almost exclusively frozen fruit.  It’s cheaper, and provided there’s no sugar added, it’s just as healthy as fresh.  And you don’t have to worry about it spoiling!

Note to self: bring eggs for lunch tomorrow.  You’ve gone to the microwave the last two days at lunch and gone “hmm, I wish I had eggs.”  Take it as a sign.  Eat the eggs.

I’ve also been working on my weekend to-do list.  I’m SO excited for my mental health day on Monday!

So much to do!

Moving right along, instead of running, I decided to do the OPPOSITE of healthy and make delicious Valentine’s cupcakes to foist on my co-workers.  (And Tim’s.)  I refrained from purchasing us Batman and Glee valentines to distribute as well.  Red velvet, with cream cheese frosting dyed pink and red sugar sprinkles!

Re: Valentine’s Day.  You know, I’m pretty okay with it.  I get annoyed with all the people that are like, “UGH It’s so CORPORATE and invented by HALLMARK, WE show our love EVERY DAY.”  Well, yeah.  So do we.  But really, is it that bad to have an excuse to go out and have dinner and eat some candy?  No.  Especially because January to April is pretty barren as far as holidays go.   We aren’t doing much, we’ll go out to dinner (which we do most Saturdays anyway), and I bought Tim a card and a small gift.  (Emphasis on small.)  Generally, this year, what with the wedding and all, we’re trying to not burn out on celebrating our love so chill is the key word.

Anyway, tomorrow I’m going to try to run again.  I’m also going to altogether overhaul the rest of my training schedule–I’d built in an extra week just in case something like this happened, so I’m going to do this week’s running next week, and so on.

Tomorrow’s schedule technically says I should run 7 miles.  Honestly, I’ve been really excited about this for a long time.  My personal distance record (PDR, aka, the longest I’ve ever run) was 7 miles, and it’s been over a year since I’ve done that.  I was planning on making my 7 miler a 7.1 miler just so I could say I broke it!  Anyway, I will probably just shoot to do what I can–if I’m pain-free, I might take it to 4 or 5 miles, but if I don’t want to do my longest run ever right after coming back from an injury.  Doesn’t seem smart to me.  But anyway, I WILL break that PDR…probably just next week, not this week.  Such is life.

What are your plans for V-Day?  Love it, hate it, in it for the chocolate?

2009 Recap

So, 2009 is drawing to a close.  Here’s a brief summary (also useful, because I didn’t start blogging until August!).


Since Tim proposed on New Year’s Eve, we started January out with the whole “OMG WE’RE ENGAGED!” shenanigans.  We got a bunch of cute engagement cards, which I saved.

(Gotta love the graduation card with “…on your engagement” written underneath it!)

I also got my ring sometime towards the end of the month–he proposed without it, we went shopping just after New Year’s, and it came in a week or two later.  This is my first horrible attempt at ring photography so my mom could see it:

At the end of January, we set a date for the wedding (5/8/10) and booked our reception venue.  It’s funny to think how far away everything seemed at that point–we were almost 16 months/500 days away at that point, and now we’re at about 4 months/130 days!

I also got into the swing of The New Rules of Lifting for Women and discovered that lifting can be super fun!


Um, I don’t remember February much.  Law school will do that to you.  Valentine’s Day?  I think we went out to dinner.  Good times.  Oh, yeah, we got all spiffed up and went to our final Barrister’s Ball of law school!

Every dress should really be accessorized with a Miller High Life wristband, don’t you think?


In March, we celebrated Tim’s big 2-5 with my first ever trip to Kansas City.  We hunted for and found our house (that we rent), and I got to see where we’d be living.  I also met all of Tim’s aunts and uncles that live there for the first time!  It involved a long road trip and we went to Cracker Barrel.  Tim was excited.


April…April.  Huh.  Don’t remember much about April either, probably because I was pushing through my final  round of law school finals.  They suck pretty hard, and I’m so glad I’ll never have to do it again.  Apparently, the only pictures I took in April were of the cats, so here you go.  Our cats, in April.  (Did you really think I could get through a recap of the entire year without cat pictures?  Come on, now.)


May was a big month.  First, we went to Chicago and took our gorgeous engagement pictures:

And I went dress shopping, but didn’t buy a dress.  (My ass looks pretty great in this one, though.)

(Look familiar?)

Then we graduated from law school!

And moved to Kansas City.  I had the pleasure of driving four hours with two screeching, screaming angry cats in the backseat.  I don’t recommend it.  By the time we arrived, my nerves were completely shredded.  I cried, I begged, and we had even given them a mild tranquilizer…it didn’t work.

On May 30, I found and bought my wedding dress!

We also started our bar review class.  No fun.


June was occupied mostly with bar review courses.  No fun.  But, we did manage to take a little break for my 25th birthday–we went out for Chicago-style deep dish pizza, and Tim bought me tickets to a White Sox-Royals game!  (I love baseball and the Sox are my team.)  We had incredible seats and the weather was bee-yoo-tee-ful.

Tim makes funny faces in pictures sometimes.


July is a big haze of bar review and taking the bar exam, which was entirely as awful as it sounds.  It was hot, I was cranky, and I was convinced I was going to fail.  Bad times, y’all.

But, I did manage to fly to Rhode Island for my beautiful friend Lindsey’s wedding!

But then, the exam was over and we were gloriously free!


On August 1, we departed for a beautiful vacation to the Outer Banks with Tim’s family.  I’d never been and it was gorgeous.  We really needed a long week at the beach after all our bar studying!

(Tim and his brother were dispatched to the ice cream truck more than once.)

Then, when we got home, my mom and sister came to visit KC and we picked out bridesmaid’s dresses.

Also, I started blogging at the end of the month.  Woo!


September was largely defined by panic over being unemployed.  I sent out a lot of resumes and applied for lots of jobs.  I also struggled with depression, which I haven’t talked about much here, but being out of work really took a toll on my emotional health.

I also ran my first race, and had so much fun I registered for a few more right away.

I think that part of the reason I got so addicted to racing was that even though I couldn’t find a job and I felt helpless, finishing races proved to me that I COULD do something and be successful.  It was an immense help to me, mentally.


In October, I got a job and started it!

We also went to Chicago and picked out our wedding cake, met our florist and officiant, and I ran a race with my sister.

When we got home, we officially adopted Milhouse and brought him home.


In November, I went on my first ever business trip.  And also I ran an 8K and another 5K!

We spent Turkey Day with Tim’s family and I shot guns and played with dogs. (Not at the same time, though.)


We went to visit my fambly for Christmas, and found out we’re going to be an aunt and uncle soon!

And now, on New Year’s Eve, I’m at work, planning to finish out the year tomorrow.  I remember New Year’s Day 2009 thinking of how big of a year this was going to be–I’d just gotten engaged, and in the next year I had to graduate, plan a wedding, move to a city I’d never even visited, take and pass the bar exam AND get a job.  I was overwhelmed and, frankly, scared shitless.   2009 was going to be the most stressful year of my life. I had no idea how I was going to do it all.

But I did.  It wasn’t easy.  I struggled.  I gained a few pounds.  I cried.  Tim was there to support me every step of the way, even when I was angry and felt cheated that I’d worked so hard to be rewarded with unemployment.

I made it through, and somehow, I will look back on 2009 as also one of the best years I’ve ever had because of the insane amount of things I made it through.  I went from student to gainful employed adult.  Tim and I moved in together and we got closer and our relationship grew stronger.   I ran, and I ate, and lifted.  I learned how much my family and friends mean to me because they are now out of my immediate reach.  I grew up, a lot.

Cheers, friends, and here’s to 2010!  (blows party horn)


Just a quickie update because there’s not too much to report.  I have some cool stuff going up tomorrow (best. giveaway. EVER!  For Canadians, too!) and New Year’s Eve, so I will make up for it then.

First things first, an administrative note: Please do not leave your web addresses in comments, other than in the space marked for “website address.”  So, if you write a comment saying “Your blog is awesome! http://www.mycrappysite.com” I will mark it as Spam and it won’t be published.  However, if you simply post “Your blog is awesome!” with your name being My Crappy Site, linked to said site, that is fine.  (Not that any of you have crappy sites, but spammers, I’m on to you and it’s to your benefit to not piss me off.)

Anyway.  That said, today was a gym day.  I would have run outside, but frankly, my cold weather running gear smells bad and I didn’t want to put it on this morning.   New Year’s Eve and probably New Year’s Day will be for relaxing, and Half Marathon Training 2010 kicks off next Monday!  (Skeery.)  I was feeling a little indecisive, so I did:

  • 1 mile of running, increasing my speed every minute from 6.0-7.0 mph
  • 20 minutes of FHIIT (fairly high intensity interval training) on the elliptical.  I would go at an easy pace for two minutes, and then push myself to a pretty high max heart rate for a minute, lather, rinse, repeat.
  • Another mile of running, at an easy 6.0 pace (my legs were like lead from the FHIIT)

Then I came home to a fun surprise–more Christmas presents from Tim’s parents!

(And an excited dog to knock them over.)  Tim got a video game and a DVD and a book, and I got some fun stuff for my office and a candle holder.

Be sure to stop in tomorrow morning!  You will NOT want to miss this giveaway!

Back to the grind

Although it’s been pretty un-grindy today.  There weren’t many people in at work, so things were pretty calm!

I went to bed last night at 9:30 and woke up this morning at 6!  I was so tired from our early, early flight and snow digging.  Last night I took Sheila out for a test drive and just ran a mile around the neighborhood.  I was wondering why it wasn’t working until I realized I hadn’t pushed the start/stop button!  Clearly Garmins are too advanced for me.

Anyway, I went to work this morning and found a card and Panera gift card from my boss for Christmas!  How sweet of her.  I do love me some Panera.

I came home to my animals after work!  It’s so nice to be greeted by three warm, furry pals.  Milhouse, Sheila and I headed out for a run.  Unfortunately, I didn’t figure out that I had to reset my Garmin and not just stop/start it until halfway through, so the stats have today and yesterday’s run piled together.  I did about 3.5 miles?

My pace is way off because of the two runs together.  I was happy to see my fastest mile out of both days was 9:18, which is pretty darn good for me!

Preliminary thoughts on the Garmin: obviously, this is an awesome running tool.  I really like the chest strap for the heart rate monitor, which is more flexible (though wider) than the one on my Polar heart rate monitor.  It’s very comfortable!  The unit itself is heavy when you’re paying attention to it, but while running I barely notice it.  The satellites take at least a minute or two to load, which is a little frustrating (especially when you have a dog raring to go), but all in all I think I’m in love.  I like that I can use the lap feature to track my mile times!  I can’t wait until I can load the software on my computer to play with that, too.

In general, I had a really lovely run despite the eight inches of snow and icy conditions.  I felt good and strong after my rest week, which, yet again, cemented my belief that rest pays off a millionfold in the long run.  (Milhouse went inside with Tim at about mile 2.4.  He was cold and whimpering.)  I have to say, I really love running with a dog–it gives me something to focus on, other than myself, and the time just flies by!

Then, I came home and opened the mail to find a nice surprise–Larabars!  I entered their special holiday promotion last week and got four free ones–Peanut Butter Cookie (which I’ve had and liked), Cherry Pie (which I’ve had and not been a huge fan of), Tropical Fruit Tart and Key Lime Pie (neither of which I’ve had).  Sweet!  I big puffy heart free stuff.

Who are your running buddies? I think Milhouse is mine, and of course now Sheila the Garmin too.

Massive Christmas Recap, Part the Second

Overnight, Santa Claus came!

Lots of stockings and overflow bags!

Tim and I opened our stockings together (before showering, and makeup, forgive me)

I got lots of fun things–a cookbook, new spatulas, a candle, some lotion, a Starbucks card, lots of chocolate, and a ridiculously cute animal picture calendar.  (I’m so transparent.)  Tim may or may not have gotten some Nutella in his!

We passed out the gifts.  Sorting them between 20 people is a production!  It probably takes half an hour.

Everyone gets a pile!  We go in age order, from youngest to oldest, around and around.  (It always devolves into a free-for-all after about three hours.)  Some of my highlights?

Yay!  Santa listened!  (Or my mom.)  We decided that her name is Sheila.  So, please meet my new running buddy, Sheila.

I got Tim a fancy watch for Christmas, so we both had to be watch models.

And our registries got some more action!

Our toaster oven from my lovely sister!  Now I don’t have to flip our toast to get it toasted on both sides!  (We had to do a little return and re-buying due to its size, but it’s well worth it!)

A nice new hand mixer! We also got the giant fancy crock pot off our registry, but my cousin is shipping it to us because it was too big for the plane trip.

Tim’s present was sadly delayed in shipping, so I haven’t gotten it yet, but he got me a jewelry box and a gift certificate for a manicure!  I spent about an hour and a half untangling my various necklaces a few weeks ago and he took the hint.  I can’t wait for it to come!

I also acquired some awesome new cookbooks:

I literally finished the last little piece of our Halloween candy right before we left for our trip last week.  Our candy pumpkin is full again thanks to Santa, this time with the good stuff–Ghirardelli and my personal favorite, Fannie May.  (Is Fannie May a Chicago thing or nationwide?  Either way, their chocolate is to die for.)

This post is not only going to contain gratuitously cute animals in sweaters photos, but SANTA BABY photos. You’ve been warned.

Towards the end of present opening, Tim called his parents and brother and sister-in-law to check in.  When he came back, we got some great news–we’re going to be Aunt Brie and Uncle Tim in August 2010! This will be our first niece or nephew and we’re so excited.  I plan on buying lots of adorable baby things, most likely hats with various animal ears and onesies with sarcastic phrases, and diverting any baby fever symptoms I’m having in their direction.  We’re so happy!  Talk about a great Christmas surprise.

Later on in the day, we munched on appetizers and Christmas dinner.  We have pork tenderloin and spaetzle, which is kind of a chewy German spaghetti that’s served with gravy and is awesome.  But the star was dessert, crafted by my cousin/bridesmaid Brandy and I–egg rolls stuffed with banana and Nutella, served with dulce de leche sauce.

Ohhh yeah.

Once a year, right?

After dinner, we engaged in a long standing holiday tradition–bingo!  We wrap up household products and use those as prizes.

Yes, we are five.  (We also played numerous games of Uno, Life, and Apples to Apples over the weekend.  Oh, and Tim learned to play Gin.)  I won some toilet bowl cleaner and shower cleaner!  Woo!

We went to bed on Christmas happy and full.

The next morning, we were on a mission–flower girl dress shopping with the adorable Miss Maddie.  We ended up going to three shops before we found something I liked.  (Yes, I’m a prude, but three year olds should not be wearing spaghetti straps…and EVERYTHING had spaghetti straps.  Ugh!)  We picked this dress, but it will be in pink with an ivory sash.

Maddie may or may not have been bribed with candy to stand still to be measured (twice).  She would have been fine without it!  She’s so adorable.

Then we went and had the most delicious lunch–I had pad thai, which I love, but I always forget I love it.   So, remind me next time, okay, Tim?

The snow was starting to fall so we hurried to get on the road back to Chicago.  Our trip took an extra hour, but we made it home to my mom’s house safely.  We ended up meeting my bridesmaid Teresa, her husband Marc, and her sister Melissa for a drink late that night, but we had to be up for an early flight!  My uncle picked us up at 5:25 a.m. for our flight to Kansas City.

Luckily, security and baggage check wasn’t bad at all!  I think we beat the rush flying today.  Of course, we got on the shuttle to the economy parking lot just as it was pulling up with no wait, and Tim made the mistake of saying, “Everything’s going our way!”

Then we discovered this:

That’s our car.  With snow plowed up to the bumper.  With no shovel or ice scraper to speak of in it.  (Tim took mine out of my car and didn’t return.)

We got creative and used two baking dishes/cookie sheets my mom gave me as shovels!  It actually wasn’t too bad and we dug ourselves out in about 15 minutes, but my penny loafers, gloves, and jeans were frozen and wet by the time we got home.  It felt great to get back in my nice warm jammies!

Today’s a catch-up day–grocery shopping, unpacking, and the like.  We can’t pick the animals up until tomorrow morning, unfortunately, but hopefully everything will be in order by the time they come home.  I miss them!  It’s back to work tomorrow for me, too.  I’m hoping I’ll get a nice run with my new Garmin in afterwards!

What was the highlight of your Christmas? I had an awesome year!  I’m so excited about Napa Valley, but I think that a little niece or nephew on the way is my favorite memory.

Massive Christmas Recap, Part the First

PHEW.   Talk about a crazy, but fun, trip!

We left for the Kansas City airport early on Wednesday.  We split a pastry at Starbucks, and I chugged a giant OJ to help ward off plane germies.

After a quick flight, and a not-so-quick snowy/rainy four hour drive, we were at my aunt and uncle’s house!  They live next door to their middle son, so we all crash somewhere between their houses.  In total, we had about 20 people camped out for the holiday!

This was the state of presents when we arrived:

Please note that they are stacked up to the top of the fireplace mantel.  And it only got worse/better as time went on!

Tim and I were so excited to meet my new second cousin, Connor.  He’s our flower girl’s little brother and is perhaps the cutest baby ever.  He has the sweetest disposition and is so happy all the time!  He is blind, but still loves to play and cuddle and is no different from any other baby.  Behold the cuteness.


Oh, and then I got a big surprise.  I wish I had the “reaction shot” pictures, but since it was a surprise, we were obviously not prepared with the camera.   My uncle has a bar in his basement, and we were all sitting around having a cocktail late that night and my sister starts asking for a glass of wine.  Which is weird, because my sister rarely consumes alcohol that isn’t some lurid color or in a drink ending in -tini.  She starts talking about how she only likes sweet wine, and usually she mixes wine and Squirt to create a cocktail to her liking (wine snobs everywhere just died a little)…and then whips out a piece of paper and says, “Or…how about we go get some wine in Napa Valley at your bachelorette party in April?”

I was shocked!  She and my bridesmaids booked a plane ticket and hotel for me for the weekend after my big half marathon.  It will be pretty small–me and my sister, my mom, my bridesmaid Teresa, and her mom and sister, Lynn and Melissa.  (I grew up with their family, so I’m close to all of them.)  I’m super excited and so thankful.  My sister is really incredible, and it was so sweet of her to plan a trip around something she knows I love (wine, food) that she doesn’t.  (She has threatened to bring a flask of Squirt with her to the wineries.  We’ll see.)

The next day was Christmas Eve.  We spent most of the day doing last-minute shopping and wrapping, and also making and consuming pudding shots.  I’m not sure what was in them, but I think they involved instant pudding, Cool Whip, and liquor.  I will e-mail my cousin for the recipe and post it here.  They were dangerously good!  We made Oatmeal Cookie shots, Kahlua chocolate shots, Slippery Nipple shots….good times.

Then, preparation for our traditional Christmas Eve fondue dinner was underway.  Clutch your pearls, ladies–we basically fry beef in canola oil.  But it is delicious!  We also have dirty rice, salad, bread, and assorted veggies.  I end up eating more of the side dishes anyway!

Then, after dinner, we had our tacky sweater competition, which went well until I broke out in bumps from my Goodwill sweatshirt!  Yick.

Even Duncan the doggie got in on it:

Sadly, I did not win.  But it was fun nonetheless!

Be back later with a recap of the rest of the weekend!

Christmas break!

Christmas break!   Christmas break!

Preparations for our big Christmas trip are underway.  We fly out of Kansas City tomorrow morning around 9 and will hopefully be in Chicago by 10:30.  Then we’ll be driving to visit family.  I am crossing my fingers super hard that winter weather doesn’t get in the way!

Today work crept by so slowly.  On my lunch break, I picked up two books for reading on my trip, plus one to slip in my mom’s stocking.

But finally, 5 o’clock rolled around and I left.  FINALLY my laptop was ready to be picked up from the Geek Squad at Best Buy.  I was so excited to get her back!  I brought her home, plugged her in…and guess what?  She’s still broken!

I ate dinner quickly and turned around and went straight back to Best Buy, where they informed me that I needed a new AC adapter, which they did not have and I’d have to order.  Oh, and they knew this two weeks ago, but they didn’t tell me them and were extremely rude.  Screw you, Best Buy!  I have the new adapter ordered and I’m using Tim’s computer for the time being.

I went home and had a small meltdown.  Every once in awhile, I need to yell and swear loudly.  Today was that day.  But, it’s out of my system now, laundry is in the washer/dryer, suitcases are mostly packed, and hopefully I’ll have my computer back next week (ugh).

I will not be blogging again until Sunday.  Between broken computers, and families, and limited luggage space I’m going to take a bit of a break.  But, I will take lots of pictures and do a nice long recap when I get home!  I’ll also be tweeting from my phone.

Because today was a giant clusterfuck, here are some cute animal pictures I took last night to save this post.  (This is a pretty cheap trick of blogging, I know.  Sorry, guys.)

Merry Christmas!  I hope you are able to enjoy time with loved ones, reflect on the last year, and have a peaceful, happy, healthy day.