Thursday, August 25, 2016

Five Favorites - August 2016

Hey Friends! I would like to commemorate that this post marks one whole year of "Favorites." Let's take a look back at my favorite things from August 2015: Swede, books, cake, coffee, and I still love that necklace (and am wearing the same earrings from that photo today)... Not much has changed!

Here's what I'm loving this month:

1) I talked about this cucumber soda on Tuesday, but I think it deserves a double mention. After the kids are in bed, post-run, on the patio with a book, this soda (plus a splash of vodka) is the perfect easy and refreshing summer cocktail.

2) So I bought these Asian Wrap Cropped Pajamas from Garnet Hill last month. They are really comfortable, but what I think I like most about them is that having matching pajamas makes me feel like a grown-up. Even if Jonathan did tell me he thinks I look like a dental hygienist.

3) I really like this Downton Abbey English Rose Tea from Republic of Tea that Jonathan's mom gave me for my birthday. I don't usually buy in on kitchy marketing tie-ins to my favorite books/movies/TV shows, but I do like this one. Just realized that two of my favorite things this month are beverages, Hmm... I will try to branch out in September!

4) For years my grandma has asked what I want of hers and I've always said, "The pineapple!" And voila.. It is mine! [My grandma is still with us but a recent move was a good time for her to pass along some things.] You can't really tell from the photo but it's a cloth applique that she made. I'm planning to hang it in the entry way... Aren't pineapples a symbol of welcome?

5) Look, I'm finally showing you a photo of my new hairdo! It's been over a week and I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I didn't realize that my hair has gotten so curly since being pregnant. [Apparently this is pretty common.] See how it flips out at the sides there? It's all crazy like that in the back. It did not look like this when I had a pixie cut before the kids were born. Anyway... What I do love about my short hair is that is so quick and easy that I feel like I actually have enough time in the morning to get a little more put together before the day officially starts.

That's all. What is your current favorite beverage? [Since I'm apparently that's what I'm all about this month.]

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

40 Things You Might Not Know About Me

It's been a while since I've done a survey so when I saw this one on Heather's blog I thought I'd give it a try!

1. Do you like blue cheese? Yes! I'd always choose blue cheese over ranch dressing and I also eat actual blue cheese.

2. Favorite color? Pink.

3. Do you get nervous before a doctor's appointment? Not really. I do get nervous before dentist appointments though.

4. What do you think of hot dogs? Yum.

5. Favorite Movie? It Happened One Night - 1934 Best Picture starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.

6. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? A vanilla latte... Every day.

7. Do you do push-ups? No, The only thing I hate more than push-ups is burpees.

8. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? My wedding ring, but I also love the new "mommy bracelet" I got for my birthday.

9. Favorite hobby? It's a tie between reading and running.

10. Do you have ADD? No.

11. What's the one thing you dislike about yourself? I seriously think my nose is getting bigger as I get older.

12. What's your middle name? Elizabeth.

13. Name three thoughts at this moment: 1) Wow, I'm only on question #13! 2) What should I eat for lunch? 3) Oh, I can't forget to look into the pumpkin patch train for October.

14. Name three drinks you regularly drink: The aforementioned vanilla latte, water, and cucumber soda... I know that sounds strange but it's so refreshing!

15. Current worry? All things related to I-think-we're-buying-a-new-house!

16. Current annoyance? My neighbor has a construction project that has forced me to keep my windows closed most of the summer due to noise and dust.

17. Favorite place to be? Home Sweet Home!

18. How do you ring in the New Year? We started a new tradition last year of appetizers and board games. And I'm always in bed well before midnight.

19. Where would you like to go? See HERE and HERE for a list of my dream vacations!

20. Do you own slippers? Obviously. I like to be cozy.

21. What color shirt are you wearing right now? I'm wearing my green Kennebec Mountain Run shirt.

22. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? No, I prefer flannel sheets year round. [See above re: slippers and being cozy.]

23. Can you whistle? Sadly... No.

24. Would you be a pirate? In theory... Yeah! In reality... No way!

25. What songs do you sing in the shower? I don't sing in the shower.

26. Favorite girl's name? I love the name Ingrid because that's Swede's real name, but it was Jonathan's pick and a hard sell at first. My first choice was Annabel, which actually sounds a lot like... See next question.

27. Favorite boy's name? Abel

28. What's in your pocket right now? Nada.

29. Last thing that made you laugh? The kids being silly and cute.

30. Best toy as a child? I had one of those rocking horses on springs that I loved. [Do they even sell those anymore? It seems like the springs would be considered a hazard nowadays.] I wanted to be a Pony Express rider for a while there. His name was Gallant.

31. Worst injury you've ever had? I broke my arm just before kindergarten.

32. Where would you love to live? Within walking distance to all my best friends. Or at least in the same town. I am within walking distance to my parents which is really great.

33. How many TVs do you have? One.

34. Who is your loudest friend? Hmm... We are a pretty quiet bunch. Does Swede count? She hasn't learned "inside voice" yet.

35. How many dogs do you have? The one and only Gumball! By the way, Gumball's birthday is on Friday! She'll be five, which, if you go by the x7 rule, means we both turned 35 this month.

36. What book are you reading at the moment? The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon. [It's not actually about goats or sheep.]

37. Favorite candy? I have a weakness for jelly beans.

38. Favorite flavor of ice cream? Chocolate Fudge Brownie or Vanilla Caramel Fudge.

39. Favorite sports team? Either the Colorado Avalanche or the San Diego Padres.

40. Favorite month? I've always liked August, because summer and my birthday and often a family trip to the beach, but I also like October as the quintessence of autumn.

That's all! Did you learn anything new about me?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Week Ahead [August 21, 2016]

Hey Friends! Did you have a nice weekend? I was in Denver for work on Thursday and Friday then was able to attend a first birthday party for Elliott before coming home on Saturday.

I love this family!

Other highlights from the weekend: Friday night in Denver at Laura's house with wine and mozzarella sticks. A good eight mile run. An enthusiastic greeting from Swede when I returned home. Church. Ice cream. Watching Galen Rupp win bronze in the Olympic marathon. 

And... Getting organized for the week ahead! Here's the plan:

Mon - Italian Sausage & White Bean Cassoulet - Three Many Cooks
Tue - Cesar Salad
Thu - Southwest Scrambled Eggs - Budget Bytes
Fri - Spaghetti & Meatballs <-- Pre-Race!!!

Mon - Run 3 miles
Tue - Lower Fix
Wed - Run 3 miles
Thu - Upper Fix
Fri - Rest
Sunday - Yoga

   - I have another dentist appointment on Tuesday... Remember the never-ending Saga of the Root Canal? It's still going on.
   - On Friday I'm taking Abel for his nine-month checkup, and I need to pick up my race packet for the Thirsty 13 Half Marathon.

One more photo for the road... This is Swede practicing (3 months early) for her birthday:

Have a great week!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Dream Vacations [Abroad]

Last  month I shared the my dream vacations in the U.S., so I thought I should also share my dream vacations abroad. Unlike the U.S. vacations which are all fairly likely and/or possible in the next 5-10 years, these vacations are serious dream vacations that may or may not ever happen, but it's still fun to dream.

1) Hike the Tour de Mont Blanc. There is a 100 mile trail that circumnavigates Mont Blanc on the French/Swiss/Italian border. It takes about a week and you can arrange to have your luggage transported each day between mountain huts and quaint little towns along the way. (Here is an example of a self-guided tour itinerary). The scenery looks spectacular!

2) Do a cruise on the Baltic Sea. I'm not sure about the exact itinerary... Maybe something like this Viking Homelands tour: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Poland, and Russia. I haven't ever done a cruise or guided tour before but I like the idea of a getting to see so many places in one trip and I think it would be nice have a guide for some of these locations.

3) What sounds the greatest currently is an all-inclusive Caribbean beach resort vacation. I don't want to think about driving my car or spending (additional) money or trying to plan the itinerary. I just want to read on the beach, swim in the water, do a little snorkeling and paddle-boarding and yoga, and eat all the delicious food. The end. Where do I sign up?

4) Take a train across Canada. Check out this two-week itinerary from Vancouver to Halifax with stops in Toronto, Niagara Falls, Montreal, Quebec City, and Halifax. Although maybe I should just do the Toronto to Halifax portion... Four days on a train across the prairie might get a little dull. Or maybe I'll save this one for my dotage.

5) Go trail running in Patagonia. Years ago I read an article in Trail Runner Magazine about this Patagonia Running Adventure by Andes Adventures and it's been on my Bucket List ever since.

Also on the list... A road trip through Bavaria, a beer & cheese tour in Belgium, a bike trip around Tuscany, and a yoga retreat in Bali. Oh, and why not add an African safari to the list!

What are your biggest dream vacations???

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Week Ahead [August 13, 2016]

Greetings! I have a busy week ahead, but first, some quick notes from an uneventful but nice weekend... We didn't really do anything except mooch around with the kids, but we had a (surprisingly, after my complaints on Thursday) nice time.

We baked coffeecake and brownies. We went on a nature walk. We ate pizza. We went to the library for a dozen new books, and read them all a dozen times. The kids napped simultaneously for over an hour on both Saturday and Sunday, and I enjoyed the quiet with a cup of tea (I'm enjoying the Downton Abbey English Rose, which was a gift, I promise) and a book (I'm reading Keep Me Posted for Brie's bookclub on Tuesday). There were a couple unpleasant tantrumy moments but otherwise it was low-key in the best way.

Some photos:

Here's what's on the agenda this coming week:

Mon - Pimiento Cheese Chicken Salad Sandwiches from How Sweet Eats
Tue - Cesar Salad (This is on the menu weekly in the summer, I'm addicted).
Wed - Spaghetti & Meatballs
Thu & Fri - I'll be in Denver for work

Mon - Run 4 miles
Tue - Upper Fix
Wed - Lower Fix
Thu - Run 4 miles
Fri - Rest
Sat - Run 8-10 miles
Sun - Yoga

Other Stuff:
   - On Monday I have a dentist appointment in the morning and a haircut appointment in the afternoon. I'm still planning to go ahead with the pixie!
   - I'm flying up to Denver on Thursday morning for two busy days in the office. I have scheduled nearly back-to-back meetings!
   - I'm staying in Denver on Saturday to attend Tyffani's baby Elliott's first birthday party!

That's all! Do you have anything fun planned this week?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Coffee Date #5

Hey Friends! I think it's time for another coffee date.

First: This will come as a surprise to exactly no one but I am still finding life with two kids to be pretty challenging.

This little man is SO busy!

The most difficult times are when I'm on my own with both kids. The 30 minutes every morning from 7:30-8:00 once Jonathan has started work but before I take the kids to preschool and/or my mom's house for the day can be a little frantic. There is the struggle to get everyone dressed and fed and organized. Then we start to run this little scenario on repeat:

   Step 1: Swede starts to play with Toy #1.
   Step 2: Abel crawls over and tries to grab Toy #1.
   Step 3: Swede, shrieking: "Nooooo, He can't have it! He has to play with he's [sic] toy!" Hands Toy #2 to Abel.
   Step 4: The kids play with their respective toys for approximately ten seconds.
   Step 5: Return to Step 2.

So... Yeah. I realize this isn't groundbreaking news. Every stage of life comes with its particular challenges and this is where I'm at right now. I keep thinking, "How can I make the morning go better?" but I'm not sure if there's anything I can do except wait until Abel is old enough to understand the "taking turns" concept.

In other child-related news, I am really excited that Swede has finally consented to me doing anything with her hair! I love the pigtails.

Next: Lately I have been feeling really sad about the world. There is so much anger and hate and destruction and cruelty. Every day I carry on with my usual (& extremely privileged) life while millions of people and animals and the Earth in general is suffering and dying. I'll get a glimpse of a tragic news story and I can't even handle it and so I try not to think about it at all. Even things like seeing the daily roadkill on the way into town every day makes me so sad. And anxious about the future of the world that I've leaving to my kids. I don't feel like I can do anything about anything and so I don't do anything, except some token donations to various charities, but I don't know what I can do to change anything except by trying to be a nice person, but that (obviously) isn't enough.

Moving on to a lighter subject... I feel a little awkward doing so but I have more to say! Isn't this how a real coffee date is though? One minute you're having a serious discussion, and the next minute you've segued into the hilarious thing someone said at work the other day. So... I have a haircut appointment on Monday and I think I'm going to get a pixie cut. I had one in 2012-2013. It's just so easy. And cute - I hope! My pixie cut inspirations:

What else? Recently I've been infatuated with various gorgeous bullet journal feeds on Instagram, and thinking about abandoning my Erin Condren Life Planner for a Leuchtturm and an array of colorful pens, but honestly I don't have the time or the creativity to draw up a whole new spread every day/week/month. The one thing that is lacking from the Life Planner in my opinion is more blank pages at the end. So to remedy that I ordered a new blank notebook for ALL THE LISTS. I chose a flamingo design for the cover, which is my current summer obsession. I need more flamingos in my life. Maybe it's just that I love how Swede calls them "mingos."

Before I go... To catch up from our last coffee date in June, when I was talking about getting serious about eating better and working out more: I've mentioned it here a few times but I did buy 21 Day Fix. I'm not following the program religiously but I've added the strength and yoga workouts into my weekly schedule along with running and I feel so much stronger and healthier overall. I've never been able to maintain any at-home workout routine in the past, or really to do anything consistently other than running, but this seems (6 weeks in) to be working for me really well.

That's all! What's new with you?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Reading Roundup - July 2016

Happy Book Day! Before I get started, I'd like to note that tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of my blog! One year ago I said to myself that I'd see... a) if I enjoyed blogging, since the last thing I need is a hobby that feels like a chore, b) if I could manage a consistent schedule, and c) if anyone wants to read my random ramblings. The third item is still up for debate, but the other two are definitely yes, so here I am! And now... Let's chat about the books I read in July.

1) First Comes Love by Emily Giffin. 3.5/5 stars. This book goes back and forth between two very different sisters, Meredith and Josie, struggling with their life choices fifteen years after a family tragedy. Meredith is unhappy despite an outwardly perfect career and family. Josie is desperate to have a baby but hasn't found "the one" and starts pursing non-traditional paths to motherhood. I enjoyed the book but think it could have been done better, and I'd rather just follow one character rather than bouncing back and forth between the two narrators. One thing I did like was the glimpse back into Ellen's life from Love the One You're With, which I happened to reread on a whim back in May.

2) The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell. 3.5/5 stars. This book, as the title might indicate, is a Bronte spinoff, although it mostly features the lessor known Anne Bronte novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, rather than Charlotte's Jane Eyre. It follows the last living relative of the Bronte sisters, Samantha Whipple, on the hunt for a mysterious and long-lost family legacy with the help of her handsome and equally mysterious Oxford tutor. I enjoyed Samantha's quirky voice and references to the various Bronte novels, but the plot flagged a little at the end.

3) The Children by Ann Leary. 4/5 stars. This is one of those books where everything disintegrates slowly as you go along and was increasingly painful and sad to witness. The narrator is Charlotte Maynard, who lives with her mother Joan and often-visiting sister Sally in a sprawling Connecticut lake house which is now owned by her step-brothers Spin and Perry since the unexpected death of their father. When Spin comes to visit with his fiance Laurel... Cue the aforementioned disintegration of the seemingly well-adjusted family.

4) Opening Belle by Maureen Sherry. 3/5 stars. I think being a working mom (or a stay-at-home-mom, or any part-time variation of the two) is really difficult. I can't even imagine working in high-stress, male-dominated Wall Street, as Belle, the main character of this book, does in the years leading up to the recession. This is an interesting, and also depressing, glimpse into Wall Street culture and specifically at the greed and irresponsibility that caused the global economy to collapse. There are also struggles at home with her husband, and to a lessor extent, her kids, who are the least present aspect of the book, as well as a pretty unbelievable side plot involving an ex-boyfriend.

5) The Summer Guest by Alison Anderson. 2.5/5 stars. I could barely finish this book. It wasn't bad. It was just very slow paced and none of the characters pulled me in. Most of the book is the diary of Zinaida Lintvaryova, a young doctor struck with a fatal disease which has blinded her, who becomes friends with rising literary star Anton Chekhov at her home in the Ukrainian countryside in the summer of 1888. There are also two minor present day storylines - Katya, who is hoping the diary will rescue her struggling publishing house, and Ana, who she has hired to translate the diary into English.

6) The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay. 4/5 stars. This is the story of the four Turner sisters, aged 13-22, who set out on the road as a vaudeville act in 1919 after their father injures his hand and can no longer work. Narrated alternately by the shy and intellectual Winnie and the vivacious Gert, this was a really interesting look at a vanished era. I had no idea how popular vaudeville was in the years leading up to the introduction of movies and radio.

That's all! Have you read any of these books? Do you agree/disagree with my review? What have you been reading lately? As usual I'm linking up with Stephanie and Jana for Show Us Your Books.

Life According to Steph