Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best of 2013

I don't know about you, but I love a good list. As 2014 draws near, I've been reading lots of fun posts about 2013. After looking back at the last year, I have to say, it was better than I expected. Sure, there has been a lot of stress and studying, but there have also been some pretty amazing moments in there too. I thought I'd share some of the fun moments from 2013.

I bought my Wedding Dress
But I didn't show it to you until after the wedding. Duh. I actually found it when I was shopping by myself on my lunch break, but didn't buy it until my mom could see me in it. 

Had a girls weekend in Hood River, OR
My high school girlfriends and I tried a new city for our girls getaway and as always enjoyed long chats, laughing, and exploring together.

The manfriend made a few meals from scratch
The manfriend definitely stepped it up over the last year in helping me with meals, errands, and chores around the house while I was busy studying or stressing about studying.

We went through premarital counseling
I definitely recommend it. Be sure to do your research when seeking out a good therapist.

I ran an ugly St. Patty's Day 10K
This is a good reminder on how NOT to fuel for a race, but also that racing is fun even when you don't win, or race your best for that matter.

Tackled a long wedding to do list
After planning our own wedding, I understand why people hire a wedding planner or let someone else do it for them if they can. There was just so much to do. and buy. and make decisions about.

Heard Ann Curry speak on ethics in journalism
Being a journalism nerd and a fellow UO alumnae, Ann Curry has always been a bit of an idol to me. It was eye opening to hear her talk about doing "fluff" pieces so that she could also have the opportunity to tell the in depth news stories.

Visited Bend for my hair & makeup trial
That place is so beautiful, it's hard to imagine ever getting tired of seeing the crisp views of the Three Sisters mountains, running the trails, or smelling the sage and pine in the air. And my hair and makeup artists exceeded my expectations.

Spent a lot of time outdoors
When I think about why I didn't get X or Y projects done for our wedding, I probably have my need for endorphins and sunshine to blame for it. Many glorious hours were spent running, riding my bike, or yoga flowing rather than working on said wedding task.

I tried Insanity...
and I liked it. In fact, I've been toying with the idea of buying it, but I already have so many workout videos or websites I like to use that are free that it seems silly to spend the $$ on it.

Oh man, that was a lot of fun {and a LOT of hard work}. It's hard to imagine that the manfriend and I are actually married as it all just flew by. We are truly lucky to have been able to share this day with our friends and family. To see more wedding related posts, click here.

Went on a Mini 'Moon
Crater Lake is gorgeous. If you ever get the opportunity to visit Oregon, it should be on your list of things to do {in addition to visiting our many amazing wineries}.

The manfriend ran his first MARATHON and I ran #8
Holy impressive, manfriend. It's like you're an athlete or somethin'?! I didn't BQ, but this race made me want to train harder than ever to earn that BQ.

Took you on a Virtual Run Date past Pre's Rock
I'm not joking. If you visit Eugene, I'll be happy to take you on a little running tour of all the famous spots and/or most epic views around these parts.

Went on a Gorgeous Snowy Run
Snowpocalypse 2013 may have shut almost everything down for about a week and brought temps in Eugene to -10 F, but there was no way I was missing out on this run. #crazyrunner

So there you have it: 2013 was largely about getting married, running, and going back to school (although there wasn't too much exciting to talk about there)! On a much less visual front, I'd say 2013 was also full of exploring and pushing my limits on the yoga mat and being a bit nicer to myself.

What was your favorite moment of 2013? And the #1 thing you're looking forward to in 2014?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Looking Ahead & Staying Healthy

Whew! Is anyone else feeling the post holiday blahs? I'm currently in the battle of the bulge, trying to work off a few extra pounds that arrived with the extra cookies, drinks, and constant celebration.

It's not the end of the world, but I certainly don't like not feeling comfortable in my jeans. I guess that's an up side to buying well fitting or skinny jeans. There isn't much opportunity to get out of control with your daily nutrition because there aren't extra inches in the jeans waiting to be filled! ;)

This sort of feels like my last week of vacation, although I'm still working regular hours. With New Year's and my birthday this week, it just feels a little special. Next week is the start of winter term, ready or not.

I have been thinking of ways I can stay on track with my studying, but also fit in the important/fun stuff like running, hanging out with the manfriend, etc. I don't know about you, but my biggest distractor can be my blog feed or social media. I love reading about what others are posting, but ultimately I need to remind myself that 9 times out of 10, the distractions won't help me reach my end goal any faster. In fact, they can hinder me. So, onward and upward!

Over the next few months, I also want to stay on top of meal planning for both lunches and dinners so that we are eating healthy, affordable meals that are easy to assemble because we have the ingredients for them.Yesterday morning, I looked through a few cookbooks and wrote out meal and grocery lists for the week before we headed out to do errands. Sunday night dinner was a healthified (no crust + lots of veggies + reg. milk) quiche.

On the menu for tonight is baked chicken and a honey dijon broccoli salad from the Sprouted Kitchen cookbook.

In unrelated news, we got a new kitchen floor mat from Costco yesterday. Jonah Bell thinks it's her new dog bed. I can't really argue with her as it's memory foam and extra comfy.

And lastly, as I'm looking toward maintaining health and balance through the beginning of 2014, I am signing up for a few races! It feels like far too long since I've raced or trained (Chicago Marathon was my last "race").  

So far, I've signed up for the Grapes of Half, a local 1/2 marathon in wine country with some rolling hills. And in the next week or so, I'm planning on also signing up for the Peterson Ridge Rumble, a 20 mile trail race in Central Oregon that I've run once before. While that race didn't go magically for me, it was one of my first real trail races and I've had a lot more experience since then. This time around, I'm hoping to feel strong and happy most of the 20 miles. 

Do you have any fun New Year's Eve plans or traditions? Are you doing anything special to prepare for the start of 2014?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas (eve) to all of you celebrating! I left our rental house early this morning for a gorgeous (but frigid) 5 mile run along the river path here in Sunriver (just outside of Bend, OR). Sunrise really is the best time for a run. There's something about a sunrise that is not only breath taking, but hopeful and inspiring.

We are packing up and heading back to my parents house today to do Christmas Eve with my grandparents and other family members and then stockings and brunch tomorrow morning. I may not be a kid anymore, but stockings still are one of my favorite parts of Christmas and Christmas Eve always seems magical.

Last night, I baked this cranberry, lemon & basil brie for us to snack on. It was a tasty combo, easy to put together, and none of the flavors were too overpowering.

What is the most magical part of your holidays? And your favorite Christmas recipe or dish?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas feels like...

Christmas feels like... being lazy, eating too much, spending quality time on the couch, laughing to Grumpy Old Men, making whiskey Manhattans, and seeing snow on the ground. The list goes on. You could say we're well on our way to Christmas cheer.

It started out with Friday's cookie baking festivities at my friend Jenn's. She always has the prettiest Christmas tree. I love how the branches are so far apart. 

We did more socializing than anything, but managed to make sugar cookies, gingersnap, and sugared pecan balls. The pecan balls, in my opinion, are the BEST cookies with your morning coffee or tea. 

Can we talk about how awesome the OXO chopper is? Makes finely chopping nuts or veggies easy peasy!

Saturday morning, after a short night's sleep, the manfriend and I dropped off the dog and headed to central Oregon to meet up with the family. This view never gets old. I love how clear and sunny it always is in Bend, just a few hours from Eugene. 

Three Sisters mountains

After a huge grocery shop for the weekend, we headed to Deschutes Brewery for lunch and beers. How awesome is their Christmas tree? 

The beard is back

Half of us had the Red Chair Ale and the other half had the Black Butte Porter. Both are delicious. 

Sunday morning, we woke up at the rental house and I headed out for a run. The paths around here were pretty icy, so it was more of a jog, but still good to get some exercise in when indulging! Then the whole family headed on a walk for coffee.

This afternoon, we headed to Mt Bachelor for a little fun in the snow. 

Brother Kyle and his wife Sabrina

My dad, Pete and I headed out for a little 6K cross country loop. It was a little slushy  and I hadn't skiied in about four years, so I had a few falls at first, but then I was golden. 

Yes, it is a requirement that you look nerdy when cross country skiing... or maybe that's just me. 

So far, our time here in Bend has been just what I needed. I do miss my little brother Max who is in Antarctica, but we're keeping him in the loop with photos. I hope you're having a great weekend! 

Tell me: what are your top 3 favorite Christmas movies? We've watched Grump Old Men, White Christmas and The Holiday in the past 24 hours.

Okay, we're off to do some ice skating at the local rink. I think almost every muscle in my body is going to be sore tomorrow. I see a little yoga in my future.

Friday, December 20, 2013

'Tis the Season

Good morning and happy FRIDAY! Has it felt like we're one day further in the week than we really are to anyone else this week? I guess I'll blame it on Christmas anticipation.

With two more weeks off from school, I've enjoyed doing and dreaming of all the things that my non student, full time employed self did.

Tuesday, the manfriend and I watched Love Actually after dinner. Hard to imagine I hadn't watched it yet this season.

Wednesday, I went to Lifeforce Fitness for the first time in 10+ weeks! The most challenging things we did were: 80 star jumps (w/ mini breaks) and 6 sets of 10 hanging knee ups alternated with 10 push ups.

Yesterday, I did a daily double, as in a morning and evening speed workout with the group. And tonight I'm baking Christmas cookies with my friend Jenn!

Last night I also prepped some of the gingersnap cookie dough and made these tasty little pretzel turtles. I'd seen them before on the Pioneer Woman's blog and then yesterday from Bobbi of nhershoes. They're super easy and would be fun to take to a party or even wrap up really cute and give away as gifts.

And then this weekend, I'll be spending some serious lazy time hanging out in Bend with the fam. SO excited to have no obligations other than to HAVE FUN.

Fashion Friday
It's been a while, eh? Well, fall term was definitely not full of super cute outfits, but occasionally I lucked out and liked what I wore to work & school. It really is a tough balance to try to dress business casual, while being comfortable enough to sit in class for up to three hours at a time (i.e. M/W 6-9 p.m. A&P class). 

First up: preppy casual. Early this fall I scored a few items during a JCrew Factory sale at 40% off. These cords were a good purchase indeed as they're comfy, well fitting and fairly versatile. 

Shirt: Gap, sweater: LOFT, pants: JCrew Factory, shoes: DSW

Secondly: Purple pop! I don't have many work outfits I can really wear these boots with as they are a bit more on the casual side, but I feel like they usually work with this dress. Guess that means I need another pair of boots... ;) It is my birthday in a few weeks, so I may finally bite the bullet on a new pair.  

Scarf: TJ Maxx, Necklace: LOFT, Dress: Old Navy, shirt: LOFT, boots: Clarks

What is the dress code where you work? And your best fashion investment? Did you do anything fun to get in the holiday spirit this week? 

Friday, December 13, 2013

What I'm Looking Forward To

Hello and happy Friday! Guess what? The snow is finally melting! Thank you, universe. It was fun for the first few days and then... not so much.

From Monday 

This whole snow and ice thing really threw a wrench into finals week. One of my finals was totally cancelled and the other I'll be taking on Monday. So much for finals week being over...

The community college I'm taking classes at is up on a hill and with so many students and teachers commuting, it makes getting there a little harder here where we don't have many snow plows and the manpower to get these streets clean pronto.

In other news, we had some version of these veggie burritos twice this week (and I can't promise we won't have it again tonight). Shh... don't tell the manfriend. 

Also, please know that the manfriend told me "this better be the blog!" because he cooked dinner on Tuesday night while I studied. ;)

I'll admit to having a few of these peanut butter blossoms this week as a "pre-breakfast" if you will. Tis the season?

It's fun to have a few more treats around the holidays, but I'm also glad to know it lasts for a defined period of time. Give me free reign with sweets and pastries and I'd be doomed (or be buying much bigger pants).

What I'm Looking Forward To
Since I'm pretty much all over the place today, I thought it would be fun to tell you what I'm looking forward to. And, I always love reading what others are excited for.

In a few days... Being done with finals. I foolishly booked a facial as my "yay, I'm done with finals!" treat for tonight. Now, I'll be studying most of the weekend after getting said treat.

In a week... Going to Bend, OR with the manfriend and my family to enjoy a few lazy days at a rental house enjoying the holidays, good food and drink, the snow, Christmas movies, etc. I can't wait to be on vacation!

In a month... While I'll be sad to see Christmas pass, January is the start to a new year and an exciting 2014. I'll be turning 31, we'll be booking our flights to Europe, and I have lots of miles in store for these legs amidst the studying and work. I've also got some personal goals that I'd like to work on in 2014 (kind of like resolutions, but I'm not calling them that).

In a year... Well, that feels like a long way forward, but I hope to have most of these prerequisites conquered and to be taking more classes focused toward nutrition. Chemistry just doesn't feel like it's related, even though it is. And overall, just living a bit bolder.

What are you looking forward to in week, month or year? 

Extra Credit Reading:
In case you're needing some validation for not wanting to buy presents this year, this is a good read. The Case Against Buying Christmas Presents 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Winter Snowy White

One thing's for sure, this weekend was a cold but BEAUTIFUL one for running! While Lonn officially moved the Over the River and Through the Woods 10K to next Saturday, he still invited anyone who wanted to brave the roads out to do the run and enjoy some food (as he had massive amounts of stew, cinnamon rolls, brownies, etc on hand). You don't have to ask me twice!

I took a million photos, so let's just consider this our second Virtual Run Date, eh? Runner note: If you ever want a good Boston simulator run, this is a great loop, just south of Eugene, OR on the country roads of Creswell. It has some great places to add on a few miles, or even do the loop twice for a LONG run.

Luckily, our new vehicle, the Subaru Forester handles pretty well in these conditions so I woke the manfriend up at the crack of dawn and we headed to meet up with the rest of the crazy runners.

Half of the group (mostly the elite runner types) ran early from Lonn's to meet us to get in the extra mileage.

The other half of us met at a nearby golf course and headed out for the 6 mile journey at 8 a.m.! A few walked the shorter route (~4 miles) up to the house. 

It was cold (~10F). I think I'm kind of grimace-smiling here.

I bundled up in polypropylene tights (usually reserved for under ski pants), a wicking tank, two Smartwool tops, a thin cycling vest, thin gloves + ski mittens, a headband, wool socks, and trail shoes! Holy layers!

As we set out, the sun was coming over the nearby hills and it was a pretty magical sight to see. 

Courtesy of the manfriend

After a few miles, I was holding up the rear of our group of 30 or so, which was just fine on such a serene morning. My Garmin was dead so I just enjoyed not really knowing my pace or mileage. I've run the route several times so I generally knew "where I was" in terms of distance.

I always love running by this church. If I went to a church, I'd want it to be a little quaint one like this with just a handful of rows. 

After a few miles of fairly flat country roads (I forget how nice it is to not worry about traffic!), you meet "the great hill", which just. keeps. climbing. UP. before the rolling begins for another two miles. 

Luckily, the view is gorgeous at the top, overlooking the snow covered valley. 

When you think that the hills have to be ending someday, eventually they do. And then you take a right and then a left and run along Bear Creek. Tell me this does not scream WINTER WONDERLAND!

And finally, 6 or so miles later, your quads and adductors are sore, your hands have finally warmed up, and you have a silly grin on your face. 

That is the feeling of accomplishment and one hell of a run. I said this on Facebook, but Saturday's run was by far the most beautiful run I've ever done, so I had to share it.

I hadn't really eaten anything before the run, so I pretty much walked into the house and promptly grabbed some coffee and a cinnamon roll (followed by slow cooked pork, brownies & beer) because nothing chases an awesome run like some epic fueling. Am I right? Ahem, my pants may be a little tighter today because of that epic fueling...

This run and the opportunity to hang out with runner friends for a few hours was a good reminder of how much I need this in my life. Sometimes our schedules are my schedule is too packed to really enjoy what's important in life. This journey is all about balance and I'm definitely working on that, one stride at a time.

Tell me, what & where was your most epic or beautiful run/hike/race?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Snow Ho Ho!

I know that much of the country is experiencing extremes with these various cold fronts. As you probably know, here on the valley floor in Oregon, it's rare that we get snow. 

This whole week has been extra cold and then as predicted, we woke up at 6 a.m. to a blanket of the white stuff! 

The manfriend and I were both pretty giddy about the scene outside. He got up and got to work shoveling the walkway and driveway (can't blame the Michigander), while I bundled up for a necessary snow run!

 Loved what the light and movement did to this photo 

So peaceful out

Jonah Bell was especially happy this morning bounding through the snow on our walk. 

It continued to snow through the day and I came home late this afternoon to more work for the manfriend! I think we got about 6-8" in total. 

People in these parts don't really know how to drive in this kind of weather and we don't have the snow plows to keep up, so the roads are a mess. People are encouraged to stay home if they don't have to go anywhere. I heard on the news tonight that there were about 250 wrecks in the Eugene/Springfield area today!

When the manfriend got home, we headed to Jerry's, the local home improvement store for a bag of salt for the driveway. 

Not gonna lie, it was fun to be all bundled up, drive slowly (of course) and peruse the various Christmas ornaments. My favorite tree was this rustic one with the cowboy boots and old fashion skis.

It feels like vacation or something, but alas, I still have to take final exams on Monday and Wednesday. :(

Tomorrow we're supposed to go to running friend Lonn's Over the River and Through the Woods 10K, but tonight's temps are supposed to be in the teens so I'm not sure if it will be a "go." Crossing my fingers though!

How's the weather in your neck of the woods? Welp, we're bundling up to walk down to the corner store for some necessities, ahem, craft brews. Stay safe & warm!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

On That Running Thing

Well, I guess it's been a while since I really talked about running here on the blog. Life is busy and running is no longer my #1 focus. Someday, someday...

What I've noticed over the last three weeks or so as I've let my mileage fall back a bit is how hard it's been to even fit in 20 miles a week. Previously I was working to fit in 40 miles per week. Oh how priorities have shifted.

Ultimately, I've been happy with my running and commitment to fit in some kind of exercise almost every day, even if it is just a brisk 15 minute walk or a late night yoga session at home. Working in an office (and not running much) makes me much more aware of just how much we sit. And anatomy class is reminding me how bad it is for us. :)

PSA: If you sit all day, drink more water, go to the copier, walk to talk to your coworker rather than email, take a five minute walk outside. Just find an excuse to get up and move a bit. It will do your but and your blood flow a lot of good!

Last week's workouts went like this:

Monday: rest day, in class 'til 9 p.m.
Tuesday: 6 mile run, had an evening work event so I took a rare longer lunch and went running outside on Pre's Trail (in the sun)
Wednesday: jump rope warm up, 30 min tabata strength workout, in class 'til 9 p.m.
Thursday: 30 min spinning, 'Unstuff the Turkey' run (4.7 miles) and workout
Friday: 2.5 mile neighborhood run, 1 hour yoga class
Saturday: 3 mile hike w/ manfriend & Jonah Bell
Sunday: 8 mile run with hills

Sunday I ran 8 miles just so I could hit 20 miles of running for the week. What can I say, we runners like the number game! And not all weeks have been this active. During test weeks I haven't had time to do much of any strength work or "longer" runs midweek.

Okay, I'm off for a quick run before walking the dog. Hope your week is going well! Finals are next week so I'm just trying to hang in there before a much needed break.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Holiday Favorites

Hello and happy Monday! After a long {hopefully relaxing} weekend for most of us, I thought it would be fun to share a few things that have been making my fall and holiday seasons just a little bit happier. After all, it really is the little things in life...

Bath and Body Works Twisted Peppermint Candle, $10 on sale
This was one of my black Friday purchases from 2012. I got sucked in to Bath and Body Works when I smelled all their holiday candles. It makes the house smell fabulous and it's huge so it will last forever

Meyer's Cranberry Dish Soap, Target for $3.99
This was totally an impulse purchase, but let's be honest many a Target purchases end up that way. The cranberry scent and general cleansing factors sold me. Plus, it will make washing your dishes just that more pleasant. 

Trader Joe's Barely Buzzed Cheese, price depends on the slice you get ($10.99/lb)
This cheese is perfect for a party or a tasty snack. I initially bought it for a wine & cheese party we went to a few weeks ago and it hit the spot. This hard cheese (maybe a cheddar?) is rubbed with lavender and espresso. Put a slice of this on a rice cracker and grab a sip of red wine. You won't be disappointed. 

Trader Joe's Spiced Apple Cider, $2.99
Growing up, every year I would ask my mom to buy those cider spice packs and some apple juice so we could have hot apple cider during the holidays. This tastes just as good, but is much easier as it's all in one container. This has been a nice treat in the early mornings (both weekday and weekends) and I've even heated it up and taken it with me in a to-go cup to work. It's like a much cheaper version of a morning Starbucks run!

Warning: your house will smell divine after heating this up. On that note, this would be a perfect thing to heat up just before guests arrive for a holiday party or dinner.

Erath Pinot Noir 2011, $9.99 on sale at our grocery store
It's rare that I buy a bottle over $10 for general drinking, unless it's for a special occasion. Erath's 2011 Pinot Noir was surprisingly enjoyable with having a bit more complexity than I'm used to for a $10 bottle. Pinot Noirs also have a tendency to be a bit much for me {too oaky or something}, but this one was totally drinkable without being pretentious and would be great for a dinner party or as a host(ess) gift.

Tell me: What little things have been making you extra happy this season?