Wednesday, May 24, 2017

5x5 Things About Me

Hey Friends! Wednesday seems like a good day for some random trivia. And, of course, some random recent photos.

1) Favorite Disney Songs, in no particular order:
     1) Once Upon a Dream from Sleeping Beauty
     2) Prince Ali from Aladdin
     3) Let It Go from Frozen <--Swede's current favorite movie
     4) Be Our Guest from Beauty and the Beast
     5) Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid

Mommy & Me Watermelon Toms

2) States in which I have lived, in chronological order:
     1) California
     2) Washington
     3) Idaho
     4) Florida
     5) Colorado

With my buddy Elliott in Denver earlier this month

3) Favorite black-and-white movies, also in chronological order:
     1) It Happened One Night - 1934, Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert
     2) The Philadelphia Story - 1940, Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn
     3) Casablanca - 1942, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman
     4) Roman Holiday - 1953, Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn
     5) The Apartment - 1960, Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine

This kid is so goofy and fun.

4) Things I'd like to do someday:
     1) Go for a ride in a hot air balloon
     2) Hike the Colorado Trail (500 miles from Denver to Durango)
     3) Learn how to can, quilt, and ride a horse
     4) See the Northern Lights
     5) Go on a yoga retreat

Swedey has graduated to the grown-up swings!

5) Words that describe me:
     - Affectionate
     - Quirky
     - Introverted
     - Organized
     - Tired

Your turn! Favorite Disney song? How many states have you lived in? Are you a fan of old movies? What's on your "Someday" list?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Currently - May 2017

Hey Friends! It's time for another "Currently" post. Here's what I'm up to these days:

Listening to: The Runners World Show podcast. I've enjoyed following along with Editor-in-Chief David Willey's attempt to BQ, and remember how I said I wanted to have dinner with Shalane Flanagan? Well - The interview with her a couple weeks ago was the next best thing!

Watching: Most recently - Waitress, which makes me want to bake all the pies, and Bridget Jones' Baby, which was funny, but probably my least favorite of the three.

Reading: I'm working my way through my 2017 Summer Reading List. Right now it's The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova.

Wearing: I am loving my 2017 Summer Capsule Wardrobe!

Feeling: Really stressed and anxious about things that don't matter. I probably feel this way every year but I've been having a hard time transitioning back to normal life after busy season. I have replaced the work to-do list with the life to-do list without decreasing the stress level at all.

Praying: To feel more peace and contentment, and to be present in the moment rather than worrying about tomorrow.

Trying: To do 15 minutes of yoga every night before bed. This is one of those on-again-off-again habits that feels so good when I manage to do it consistently.

Loving: Happy days with my loved ones!

Not Loving: Less happy days with my loved ones. Both kids have had some difficult moments lately. Abel is entering the "the testing age" (which is apparently what the Danish call the "terrible twos," as it has a more positive connotation) and Swede is, hopefully, nearing the end, but it's resulted in some very long days.

Looking Forward To: My BFF Laura is coming to visit Memorial Weekend. Look how little Swede and Abel were the last time she was here!

Eating: Inspired by Waitress I am making a ham & Brie quiche aka "Bad Baby Pie" for dinner tonight.

Planning: Our family vacation to Denver in June. I am excited to take the kids to the zoo for the first time!

That's all! What are you up these days?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

2017 Summer Capsule Wardrobe

I have been intrigued by the idea of a capsule wardrobe for a long time and I thought this summer would be a good time to try it since I was planning to refresh my wardrobe anyway after four years of being in some stage of pregnant, postpartum, nursing, and/or getting back in shape. I feel like my summer clothes were an odd mishmash picked up over the years and it was time for an overhaul.

I think the official capsule wardrobe limit is 30 items (which does not include socks & underwear, pajamas, or work-out clothes) and I think I'm a little over that but it feels right to me so far. I have plenty of room in my closet but I went ahead and packed up my winter clothes and now I'm loving the clean and spacious look.

I'm obviously not very into fashion and you know I work from home and live in a very casual Colorado mountain town, so I'm sticking with the classic jeans and t-shirt look. Here's what you'll be seeing in photos for the rest of the summer:

T-shirts: For years I have searched for the perfect t-shirt and these ones from Boden are pretty darn close. I have the Short Sleeve Breton in the pink/pink and blue/blue stripes, and the Lightweight Crewneck Tee in black, red, blue, green, and the grey bird print.

Jeans/Shorts: I have the Cambridge Ankle Skimmer Jeans, the Karin Shorts, both new this year, and  the Rachel Chino Shorts, in khaki and red, that I bought in 2015.

[Side note: This is not an ad! I just really like Boden clothes. But one thing to know is never ever pay full price. They have great sales all the time. The most I'll ever pay for something is 20% off but I can't usually get it for less.]

Dresses: New this year is the Phoebe Jersey Dress in the green flowered print. I also have the Fit and Flare Dress from Lands End in a flowered print from last summer, and another skirt that I bought at a local store a couple years ago.

Because it's cold in the morning and evening I picked up the Studio Wrap from Athleta and I kept out a couple fleeces. 

Shoes: I picked up the Dorra sandals from Chaco and these watermelon print Toms this year. [Full disclosure: I also bought Swede a matching pair of Toms... I know, I know!] I also have a classic black pair of Chacos that are ten years old ands still good as new.

I'm not including work-out clothes here but I did get the Vibe Tank Top from Title Nine and the Kendra capris from Kuhl to be my "cute hiking outfit."

This also doesn't include any work clothes for the 2-3 days per month that I'm in the main office in Denver. For that I have a couple skirts, one pair of dress pants, one pair of heels, and a rainbow of cashmere sweaters. I could probably add a few more items - I wonder when (or maybe it's already happened!) my co-workers will notice I wear the same clothes over and over - But I think I've done enough shopping for now.

Have you ever tried a capsule wardrobe? I am curious if I'll get bored wearing the same few items all summer, but I feel like I do that anyway so I'm not sure it'll be much of a change!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Reading Roundup - April 2016

Book Day! As usual I'm linking up with Steph and Jana for Show us Your Books. Here's what I read in April:

1) The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell. I really liked most of this book, but any time you see an "If you liked Gone Girl..." quote on the cover you know what's coming. In this case I don't think it was necessary. I loved the setting of this book in Prohibition-era New York. The main character is a typist at a local police station who becomes enthralled with a beautiful, dramatic, and mysterious new girl in the secretarial pool. I think I would have enjoyed the book more if she'd played it straight rather than adding the twist ending, which I didn't really get. Is it a Fight Club scenario and there's actually only one person? Of if both people are real then who is who and who did what? I don't even know. [PS: Thanks to Audrey for sending me this one!]

2) The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny. This is the fifth installment in the Chief Inspector Armande Gamache mystery series, set in the idyllic (except for all the murders) small town of Three Pines in Quebec. I have been working my way slowly through the series. They remind me somewhat of Agatha Christie mysteries. Gamache is so dignified, with a from-another-era feel, and the town of Three Pines is very untouched-by-time, that I often forget the novels are set in the present day. They are a little slow-paced but in a good way. My only complaint with this one is that the previous four books, while part of a series, also work as standalone books, but this one seemed a little more unfinished.

3) The Danish Way of Parenting by Jessica Joelle Alexandra and Iben Dissing Sandahl. I'm pretty sure this book will be my shortest read in 2017 when I look at my year-end statistics on GoodReads, but it is packed with good information. I underlined throughout and should go back to skim through it weekly! Perhaps more beneficial than the specific "parenting" techniques are the strategies and ideas about how to improve MY attitude which will then impact how I parent the kids, such as "reframing" (aka "looking on the bright side") and the emphasis on the togetherness side of hygge.

4) The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. This book is much more suited to wintertime but the library hold system has a mind of its own. It is a magical fairy tale style book set in medieval Russia, filled with myths and legends. This is the style of magic that I like best: The real world with magic around the edges. I was sad to leave it when I was done but very happy to find out this is going to be a trilogy! Thanks to Alexandra for recommending this one.

That's all!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Weekend [May 6-7, 2017]

Hey Friends! Did you have a nice weekend? Here's what we were up to:

On Saturday - I ran eight miles, and then baked banana-pumpkin muffins with Swede while Abel napped. We used this recipe, but I think without the frosting I can call them muffins, although we did add chocolate chips...

Swede is demonstrating here that she IS smiling because we can see her teeth:

In the afternoon we played in the yard and then visited with my parents. Abel is exceedingly attached to this blankie (called "Spouty") and often carries it around in his mouth to keep his hands free.

Jonathan and I went out to dinner at Fifth Street Eatery. I went for the shrimp and grits this time.

On Sunday - Church and then a family hike and then the kids both napped for two hours. I finished The Hearts of Men and started On Turpentine Lane.

In the afternoon we went to the playground and then to the grocery store. We had my favorite veggie sandwiches (cream cheese, avocado, cucumber, tomato) and chips for dinner and I did some yoga (which felt so nice!) and now it's time for bed!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Great Summer To-Do List [2017]

Welcome to the 2nd annual edition of The Great Summer To-Do List. This is where I get organized with projects and fun for the months ahead.

1) Redo the flower beds in the front yard and do something about the (lack of) grass in the back yard. I don't exactly have a green thumb so am not looking forward to this but it'll be nice once it's done.

I am including this photo as the yard looks currently in hopes that I have a gorgeous "after" photo to show you in September:

2) Buy a couple comfortable chairs and an end table for the back porch. I have dreams of sitting outside after the kids are in bed with a book and a cocktail.

3) Organize closets - Already done! I tackled this last week but I'm leaving it on the list anyway.

 I'm taking a week off at home each month in May, July, and August. I'm hoping to do some "staycation" activities with the kids such as going to the pool, to the river, maybe renting a boat on Vallecito Lake, going on bike rides, having picnics, and going hiking.

At the river last summer:

5) I'm doing the same summer races as last year minus the oh-so-intense Kennebec Mountain Run. They are the Narrow Gauge 10-mile on Memorial Day, the Steamworks Half Marathon in June, and the Thirsty 13 Half Marathon in August.

6) Last but not least - We are taking our first ever family vacation in June to Denver!

What's on your agenda for the summer?

[PS: I am linking up, a little belatedly, with Kristen and Gretchen for What's New With You!]

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

2017 Summer Reading List

Apparently I'm doing a mini "Books on Tuesday" blog series, with my Favorite Children's Books last week and the next monthly Show Us Your Books link-up next week.

I always have a list of TBR (to-be-read, for the uninitiated) books in my GoodReads, but this summer I decided to do something different and be a little more intentional about what I choose to read versus going with whatever happened to come in on library hold this week.

Usually I read 4(ish) books per month and this year I'm trying to read one non-fiction per month so that puts me at 12 fiction and 4 non-fiction for May through August.

How do I decide what books to read? 1) Recommendations from other bloggers, 2) the Amazon Editors' "Best Books of the Month" selections 3) Browsing at bookstores, and 4) GoodReads.

Here's what I have on the list right now:

Fiction -

The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church
The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis
The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion 
On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman 

The Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler
Celine by Peter Heller
The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova
The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny
The Midnight Cool by Lydia Peelle
As Good as Gone by Larry Watson
The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman

Non-Fiction -

The Year of Living Danishly: My Twelve Months Unearthing the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country by Helen Russell
Gracious: A Practical Primer on Charm, Tact, and Unsinkable Strength by Kelly Williams Brown
Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan
The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We've Lost in a World of Constant Connection by Michael Harris

Your turn! Any recommendations? I'm sure I can squeeze in a few more... Are there any books that you're most looking forward to reading this summer?

Sunday, April 30, 2017

2017: April Check-In

I decided to abandon my standard format for these posts this month. I might return to it in the future but I feel like a "Coffee Date" style post will suit me better for April.

Suffice to say, I didn't knock it out of the park in any of my established 2017 Goal categories. As Kerrie so eloquently put it a couple weeks ago: I have lost all my mojos. My running mojo. My reading mojo. My blogging mojo. My cooking mojo. My sticking-to-the-budget mojo. My being-a-fun-mom mojo. It's all starting to come back slowly, and I think I'm ready to refocus on my goals in May, but I don't really want to go through each category of not-success.

Step one in the plan to relax-and-recharge was a morning off last week in which a) I picked up my favorite Caramel Creme Latte from the Durango Coffee Company, b) spent a leisurely hour browsing at Maria's Bookshop, and then c) had a massage and pedicure at the Spaaah Shop. Bliss!

I have been in a major running slump the past month. It has been really tough and really discouraging. I ran 55 miles in April (versus 70 in March) and almost none of them felt good. I'm thinking (& hoping) this is just residual tiredness from the past couple months of busy season and that I'll rediscover my energy and joy for running again soon.

I decided to quit Instagram and Facebook and I have to say that I don't miss either! I thought I would miss IG especially but I realized that almost everyone I followed has a blog so I can catch up with you that way. I felt like I was getting too caught up in wanting my own IG feed to be just so - Having the right photos and the right variety of photos, the right captions and the right hashtags. And the instant gratification of how many likes you do or don't get... I know I'm overthinking everything, but it was too much for me! It's been a little weird to feel that impulse that "this would be a good IG photo moment!" and then a nice feeling of relief that I can just be in the moment versus trying to capture it.

Unrelated photos of the kids while on a nature walk:

However I still feel like I spend too much time of my phone. I have spent way too much time online shopping. In my defense I have been planning for a long time to refresh my summer wardrobe but now that that is taken care of I need to stop idly browsing the "New Arrivals" section of my favorite online retailers.

Food: There have been too many chips and not enough vegetables eaten recently. You'll notice I added fewer recipes to the "Food" page and developed a slight obsession with comforting breakfast-y meals for dinner (see also: Breakfast Casserole, Breakfast Nachos, Breakfast Pizza).

Going into the summer I want to:
- Stick to my training plan for running and do cross-training 3x/week including one yoga class at a real studio.
- Start playing the piano again regularly.
- Be cognizant of the budget and reign in impulse purchases and retail therapy.
- Spend less time (<30 minutes per day) on my phone.
- Try to be more present and mindful.
- Recommit to the word of the year: REST. I must resist the tyranny of the to-do list! It has to get done, but it doesn't all have to get done right now.

Unrelated photo of Swede helping wash the car:

That's all! I wish you a Happy May Day tomorrow! I've always thought "May" has a really cheerful ring to it.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Pros and Cons of Working from Home

Today marks three years since I moved from Denver to Durango and starting working from home. I kept the job that I had in Denver when we moved and have been working remotely ever since with occasional trips back to the main office.

My home office

In our old house my desk was in a corner of the living room so it's been really nice the last six months since we moved into our new house to have a dedicated office.

Here are some of my thoughts on the pros and cons of working from home...

The commute

This is a huge benefit to me. I love not spending time in traffic. Of course it depends how close you live to work. For three years in Denver I had a 45-60 minute commute, which was pretty awful, and then for the last two years I lived 5 minutes away from the office, which was pretty nice, but nothing beats zero minutes.

The only downside that I can think of is that I used to listen to NPR on the way to/from work and I am much less informed these days on local, national, and international news.

The schedule

I have a very flexible schedule but it is even more so while working from home. It's so easy, almost too easy at times, to take a quick break to fold the laundry or put dinner in the Crock-Pot, so I have to be really careful not to let home chores overwhelm my work responsibilities during work hours.

And vice versa. The downside, both to the flexible schedule and to working from home, is that it can be hard to draw the line between work and home. During busy season, my computer was always on, and I was always popping back into my office to check and respond to email.

The dress code

Pro: I can work in pajamas!
Con: I can work in pajamas.

I do love my comfy clothes, but I have to say that even when I'm not leaving the house, I feel so much better if I take the time to get ready for the day. Not that I'm wearing business casual around the house but I don't want to be embarrassed if I have to answer the door or run an errand. It helps me feel more professional too. 

Another thing to note is that if you're wearing yoga pants 24/7 you might not realize right away about those couple pounds you gained over the holidays...

Busy season uniform

The community

As an introvert I feel that I am well suited to work from home, but I do miss the camaraderie of the office from time to time. I met almost all my good friends in Denver through work. It has been much harder to make friends and get connected in the Durango community without the office environment. I do also miss going out for (free!) lunches and coffee dates. Sometimes I think it's healthier to work from home without the various free donuts, snacks, lunches, and drinks, but on the other hand, at home, the kitchen is always right there.

That's all! Do you, or have you ever, worked from home? If so - What do you think the greatest perks and drawbacks are?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Favorite Children's Books

Hello! Today I'm linking up with Lauren and Bre for Add It To My List. This time I thought I'd share some of my favorite children's books.

I have always loved children's books. During my sophomore year of college my roommate Ali and I would check out picture books from the Education section of the library and read them before bed. I remember being particularly enamored with Amos and Boris by William Steig.

I've always been in the habit of wandering through the kids section at bookstores and every once in a while before I had kids I'd pick up a book with "someday" in mind. I bought Jane Eyre and Pride & Prejudice from the BabyLit collection in Savannah in 2012.

Of course nowadays that I'm reading bedtime stories and nap time stories and breakfast time stories and any time stories, I am always on the lookout for new and fun stories because even the cutest books get tiresome at some point. We do go to the library every week but sometimes it's hit or miss, so if you have kids, or if you just love children's books, please give me suggestions!

Currently the #1 spot is held by Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins. It's about a grumpy bear who begrudgingly takes in four baby geese. Swede has this book memorized and it's so cute to hear her say phrases like "mistaken identity" and "explained migration."

Some other favorites are:

Bedtime for Monsters by Ed Vere
The Night Gardener by The Fan Brothers
The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield
Snappsy the Alligator by Julie Falatko and Tim Miller

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
Such a Little Mouse by Alice Schertle and Stephanie Yue
The Wonderful Habit of Rabbits by Douglas Florian and Sonia Sanchez
Dream Animals by Emily Winfield Martin

I picked up this set of ten fairy tales from Scholastic a while ago and was surprised by how much Swede loves them. I guess they are classics for a reason!

Abel is just now starting to be interested in books so I'm looking forward to getting out some of my favorite board books to share with him, such as the Penguin and Pinecone series by Salina Yoon, the "Baby" series by Leslie Patricelli, anything by Sandra Boynton, and anything Eric Carle.

That's all!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Weekend 2017

Greetings! We had a really nice Easter weekend - I hope that you did too!

The weekend started out with a five mile run on Saturday morning - OK, so this was not a highlight was the weekend, because it was miserable! I have seriously lost my running mojo these past couple weeks which is really discouraging. But that's not what I'm here to chat about today, so... 

Later in the morning the kids and I headed over to my parents house for an Easter egg hunt. It was a beautiful day and my mom's daffodil field bloomed perfectly in time for the holiday! Swede was very serious and focused on finding all the eggs. A girl on a mission! It took Abel a while to catch on but I think he enjoyed it too.

He's a good egg.

Amicable sibling moment - It DOES happen!

There was chocolate...

In the afternoon both kids took great naps and then Swede and I dyed eggs which was fun, and less messy than I anticipated - Bonus! I like the turquoise one the best.

In the evening our babysitter (who has been out of town for several weeks) came over so that Jonathan and I could celebrate 4/15 at one of our favorite restaurants - Cyprus Cafe. The deadline isn't until 4/18 this year but I finished up most of my work on Friday - Hooray! This lemon cocktail was delicious, and they have an intensely wonderful chocolate pot d'creme dessert that I can't resist.

On Sunday we went to the early church service and then headed over to Jonathan's parents' house. It was also my mother-in-law's birthday so they hosted brunch for all the aunts/uncles/cousins. There was ham, spinach salad, fruit salad, potato salad, deviled eggs (made by Jonathan and they were delicious) and a green-chili egg bake.

Plus... Cupcakes! There was a high level of chocolate consumption this weekend.

The kids were a little overstimulated from all the excitement and presents and chocolate so we had a low-key afternoon at home, leftovers for dinner, and an early bedtime for everyone.

That's all!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Race Recap: Run the Rim 10K

Welcome to my first race recap of 2017! This one wasn't on the original 2017 Race Calendar that I set up in January but I just couldn't wait until May to do my first race since last August. The main reason I wanted to do an earlier race was to gauge where I'm at with my training so far and to get a baseline going forward into the summer. But there was a secondary benefit which I didn't plan on that it reminded me of everything that I need to do going forward to have a successful race!

Honestly - I hesitate to call this a race because it was the smallest, low-budget, no-frills race you can possibly imagine. I think I'm being generous when I say there were 50 people. No chip timing. No mile markers. No aid stations. But it's to support scholarships for the Fort Lewis College Exercise Science Department so at least you can be sure 99% of your entry fee is going to the cause!

The race started at the clock tower on campus which is on a mesa above Durango and consisted of many loops around campus including along Rim Drive which overlooks town. There was a 5K which was a small loop and a big loop, and for the 10K you did both loops over again. I passed my car four separate times and every time I thought that maybe I should just hop in and go home! Mostly because that part of the course was really windy. Running into the wind is high on my list of least favorite things.

My splits were - 8:44, 8:31, 8:10, 9:00, 8:42, 8:41, and 2:46 for the last .3 (per Garmin) for a total time of 54:34 and an average pace of 8:40. I was hoping for closer to 8:30 but there were numerous things I could have done better leading up to and during the race, such as: a) going to bed at a reasonable time the night before - not at 11 p.m.! b) eating a proper dinner the night before - not Chinese food at 3 p.m.! c) bringing some water/fuel for during the race - even though it was *just* a 10K a GU before the race and at mile 3 would have been nice. That is was so windy was also not very helpful.

That's all! I hope you have a nice Easter weekend.