Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Favorites

I love happy things, I love my favorite things, and I love Fridays.  So there's no denying that I couldn't help jumping on this fab idea from Hungry Runner Girl

It's Friday, and these are my three favorite things on this fabulous Friday.

1. Finding a meter spot close to school.  The close garages are expensive, and the cheap garages are far away.  Those metered spots, so lovely that they are, are hard to come by, and even moreso at 7am for some reason.  My poor frozen car had to sit outside and freeze some more, but I only had to walk half a block run half a block in the cold without a jacket every hour.  Score!  Poor car, at least it's the color of a snowball; it feels at home out there.

2. Second favorite thing today has to be lunch; food is always right up there near the top because eating can obviously only have positive effects on my body.  Sure, I could have eaten the yogurt, pear, and baby carrots with hummus that I packed.  But why do that to myself when I can be lured to Panera by friends.  French onion soup and the only potato chips that I even like, yes please!

3. My third and probably most exciting thing today is job offers.  Ok, so it was only one job offer, but a job nonetheless!  We'll keep the location underwraps, but suffice to say it will take mounds of self control to not spend my paychecks at the same place that gives them to me.  I'm really good at that, spending money that is.

Including when I buy shoes and show them off in store like a supermodel because clearly that's some supermodel gorgeous fashion and posing I'm working down the aisles.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pretend

Let's pretend it's last Friday... because that's when this picture-happy post was written, and has since sat lonely waiting to be posted.

So the "getting snowed in" part was a little bit of an exaggeration, but we did get 6 inches or so, and I was more than happy to have nowhere to go this morning.  Instead I watched the Today show with oatmeal and a coffee.  The oatmeal didn't last long though.... gosh how I love breakfast.
 After I was all fueled up, it was time to head out in the tundra known as my front yard.  Step one, put on a hat and wool socks with your tank and shorts.  It's totally appropriate attire for single digit temps.
 Step two, cover up your workout gear and 99.9% of your body with a snowsuit.  Beanie on top optional.
Step three, start shoveling.  Don't be deceived by the areas cleared by the bone-chilling wind, there really was 6 inches everywhere else!
And soon enough, it looked like this...
Then I pulled my poor frozen car into the garage to thaw out.  Note to self: next house needs a TWO car garage!
Then it was time to get all prettied up to go apply for jobs.  I didn't think finding a little part-time job would be such a lengthy process... thankfully I only want a job and don't necessarily need one.
I passed this cute little Greek place on my way and was so excited to see a "now open" sign out front.  I've been hoping for months that the paper-covered windows meant they were opening soon and not recently shut down.  I was right- can't wait to try it!
One bajillion applications later, it was time for some serious...
...serious grocery shopping.
I also found an awesome deal along the way.  A super cute Pitt fleece for less than $5.  Have I mentioned lately how in love I am with Target?

ETA: I wore the new fleece to work on Saturday and had this conversation with one of my 4 year olds.
Kiddo: Why'd you stick your finger through your shirt?
Me: It's made like that to keep your hands warm.  See?
Kiddo: Oh. (20 second pause) But how do you take it off?  Don't your hands get stuck?

My 3-4 year olds totally make getting up at 7am every Saturday worth it!

to the Super Bowl we go!

I'm late with my public congratulations.
It's a given that we were celebrating in this household Sunday night.  We actually had a little party here and had 15 people squeezed into our living room to watch the game... and eat, a lot.  Unfortunately, we were so into the game that I completely forgot to take a single picture.  I can promise you though, I was all decked out though.
As usual...
Of course...
Confession: I was even wearing Steelers socks and undies.  Clearly I do this because my team may not have won had I not been wearing the proper underthings for good luck!

Now, onward to the Super Bowl boys!  And if a certain dimple-cheeked kicker wants to take me to Dallas for good luck, I think I'd be willing to oblige.  Sorry hubs, but I'm sure you understand.

Friday, January 21, 2011

To run or not to run

I'm was thrilled to hear that the things that were making me laugh made even one other person laugh too.  That's what it's all about- passing on the smiles.

This is going to be short and sweet tonight because I have to be ready to run around with my kiddos at work in less than 10 hours, and I'm exhausted!

I've been talking about running my first half-marathon ever since they announced that the Pittsburgh Marathon was coming back a few years ago after a little hiatus.  Instead of running it, I've been a cheerful spectator since.  Ok, well, I try to be cheerful, but it always rains.

So it's coming around again and is roughly 4 months away.  Do I register?

Pros: I'm a procrastinator so I'm going to keep putting off the registration like this every year.  If I register now though, I'll do it.  I also think it will be motivation enough to actually get me running.  Some days (like the current 7 degrees) are just too cold, but I need to get my feet to the pavement!  If I do the half this year, then maybe I'll be ready for the full next year!  For all I could find, this is the last half anywhere near me until next year!  Traveling is a maybe later this year, but I can't count on anything with my internship schedule.

Cons: I haven't exactly been training for it despite my workouts.  I still have enough time though, right?  It is $90.  It's not exactly pocket change, but it's not any more than a nice dinner or two out... which we haven't had lately with our healthier eating habits.  And, I'm always worried about being injured.  I've just spent too much time in that position.

So it looks like the pros for registering take up more lines of writing are winning.  The registration fee doesn't go up again until April though, so do I jump on it now or wait.  What am I waiting for anyways?

I would love to hear some input from any other runners out there!  How did you bite the bullet and register for your first race?  Do I go for it or hold out till next year and just run shorter races this year?  Should I start with a smaller half or go big right off the bat?  Do I take the $90 and buy $90 worth of Lindt chocolate truffles and Reese's Klondike bars instead?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Things that make me laugh

We're slowly being snowed into our house, but we got home early before it got too bad and my 10:30pm soccer game was canceled so now I don't have to feel guilty that I wasn't planning on going anyways since I literally slid down my road before strategically coming to a stop in my parking spot in the front yard even though my brakes were totally useless on the snow-covered road.

End run on sentence... here's a picture:
Apparently I can't take pictures through a window when it's dark outside.

Instead, some things that have been making me laugh a lot lately!

Exhibit A:  The picture that the hubs found at my parents' house, took a picture of, posted on Facebook, and shows to as many people as possible.  The flowered vest just exemplifies the fashion sense I had even back then...
 
Exhibit B: THIS website.  I've actually laughed myself to tears over this on numerous occasions recently.  PG-13, immature, and sometimes nonsensical perhaps.  But everyone deserves a mental break now and again.  One of my favorites today.

Exhibit C: These 2 fabulous ladies (it's genetic).  These young sprites took me out Saturday night to have some fun with the younger-than-me crowd.  We laughed so hard that I didn't even take any pictures that night... but here's my cousin and sister looking fabulous some other day.

Exhibit D: It may be because I actually worked in a research lab for over 3 years, or it may just be because I am a major nerd and love nerdy humor... but I'm laughing as I write this post thanks to these fellas.

Everyone needs a good laugh.  What's been making you let out a loud, obnoxious HAHA lately?

ETA: Have you seen the CBS Valentine's Day/prostate commercial?  As of 5 seconds ago I have, and I laughed, hard.  "Why give a diamond when you can give the family jewels."  Keep it classy CBS, and I think I'll take both, thanks.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Changing it up

Confession: I never made it onto the elliptical last night.

So my exercise hiatus lasted a day longer than planned, but I'm not counting it as a failure.  I had my butt moving first thing out of bed this morning.  I wore the new pink VSX tank from this post, and I loved it.  I also attempted to workout pre-breakfast, and have decided to never ever attempt that feat again.  I need my morning fuel before anything productive gets done!

I talked a day or so ago about starting fresh in the kitchen.  I've always tried to keep lots of veggies around and cook in a somewhat healthy fashion, but for every healthy dinner there was also something fried and smothered in cheese and bacon.  I've slowly been trying to make changes rather than a huge overhaul, but something new has got me moving at a faster pace.

The hubs has joined a "Biggest Loser" challenge with some friends and former coworkers, and the top weight loss percentage in the next 6 months comes with a generous prize in paper form (read: cash or check).  Seeing as I'm pretty much the sole cook in the house, I agreed to be on board with helping him out.  After all, I'm helping me out too, and making us both healthier and happier!

Neither of us are too shabby to begin with I don't think:
But we don't look like we did when we got married:
And we definitely don't look like we did way back 7 years ago when we were just getting to know one another.  Nor do we dress like that anymore- er, that was the style back then, right?  When it's February and like 5 degrees outside?
Anyways, love can put the pounds on, and we're working not just to take them off, but to be healthier people. 

The Biggest Loser challenge only started this past Friday, but we've already been trying all sorts of new recipes.  Tonight was pineapple chicken and it was so juicy and delicious.  We've also been trying new foods altogether.  Like Monday night's quinoa:
And last weekend's edamame, which coincidentally not only is delicious but also fun to say and eat!
Sadly, that also means a lot less of this:
... and this :(
And it'll be worth it to lay by the pool looking like this again on our next vacation:
...
...
...
Ok, ok, you caught me, that's not us.  It was the blonde hair that gave it away, huh?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Welcome to the happy place

I can finally get my butt moving again today!  And I will do so as soon as I rest it on this couch just a little wee bit longer.  I am watching Biggest Loser though; does that count as a workout?

I'm a pretty happy-go-lucky kind of girl.  I'm a big fan of positivity, optimism, and looking on the bright side of things.  I have been accused of having too much "youthful optimism" and living in a fictional "Abby world".  I suppose some people find a fault in that.  I figure, why waste my time otherwise.  I'd rather spend it smiling.
 I try my hardest to be nice, smile, and try to see the good in others.  Even when times are tough or life isn't going my way, I know I have so very much to be thankful for and happy about. 

I have found my soulmate and best friend in my husband. 
 My family is the most fun, crazy, loving group of people I could ask for.
I have a wonderful home filled with all of life's needs and necessities, and most of my wants too.
I was accepted at my top choice grad school, and I have met a ton of incredible people on this venture.
I have traveled to more countries by 26 than many people have the chance to in their whole life.
I feel so very blessed.  But even more important than all of that, I know that whatever troubles, challenges, or difficulties come my way, things will always get better.  It can be hard to see that sometimes, maybe even impossible.  Sometimes it's just easier to be angry, or vengeful, or detached.  I see it in others, and it always breaks my heart.  I try so hard to keep myself out of that pitfall, and I think I do a pretty good job of it.  I wish I could somehow give that ability to everyone.

So you may be wondering all this is coming from?  It's just an accumulation of many trivial encounters that all sort of "came together" after yet another trivial encounter this past weekend.

I was leaving the mall at the tail end of a trail of about 8 cars, with no one behind me in sight.  A car waiting to make a left turn across my lane was stopped ahead.  Just as I approached, the male driver cut me off.  I had to slam on my brakes to avoid a collision, but didn't feel the need to honk.  The person was obviously aware of what they were doing, and I knew a honk would accomplish nothing.  Then the woman in the passenger seat looked back at me, with her tongue flapping and flipped me the bird.

In the moment, a foot taller and 100 pound heavier black belt carrying version of me wanted to make a right turn and follow the car, just to ask the woman what could possibly make her so absurdly angry that she felt it was appropriate to make an obscene gesture to a complete stranger that had done absolutely nothing to her.  Of course I didn't, and instead I kept driving on to my grandparents' house, all the while replaying the brief encounter and wondering curiously about people that react like that woman had.

The more I thought about it, the more sad I felt for her.  I can't imagine that you can find true happiness when you are holding onto so much anger.  You can't truly respect yourself when you show such a lack of it for others.  You can't make things better in your own life by trying to bring things down for others.  Any momentary satisfaction you get isn't going to hold up beyond that moment.

This one little episode is what got me thinking, but this post isn't just about that one encounter.  It's about the way we live our lives everyday and realizing how we have the power to control our own lives as well as how we affect the lives of others.  We choose how we behave and how we let the behaviors of others affect us.

So friends, go out there and smile, seek out the good, surround yourself with positive people that make you a better person, and most importantly, don't flip me off in the mall parking lot or I'll blog about you, and it won't be pretty.  And in extreme circumstances I may even be forced to make the angry face in your general direction!

People are like stained-glass windows.  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.  
~Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross

Monday, January 17, 2011

Purging

Siiiiiiiiiigh.  Never has a day off been so productive.  I'm not so proud of the fact that most days off result in a lot cuddling up on the couch with a cup of coffee and a nap and very little of anything else.  I was determined to make today different, and I surprisingly succeeded.  This is probably a good habit to get started since I have 4 or 5 days off every week this semester!

I started by tackling the dozenish loads of clean laundry that have accumulated over the last week or so.  Just as I was about to put them all away though, I had the urge to clean out the closets.  I haven't done a clean out in at least a few months, so I was much overdue.  This was the result.
I usually end up letting my sisters/cousins/friends "shop" my old clothes, but I may actually try selling some online now.  I have an additional huge box of more clothes sitting in the spare room from when I cleaned out last year.  I did some searching around this weekend, and came across the site Smashion.  You can sell your clothes online with no listing fees.  I may have no luck, but at least I'll only be out the time it took me to take the pictures and such.

I was so hyped up on purging that I decided to continue my quests downstairs.  The refrigerator, pantry, and all of the kitchen cabinets got a major cleaning.  I ended up tossing out a lot of stuff that had expired or just gone stale.  I always hate throwing out food like that, but at least we have a fresher start.  We've purposefully been kind of letting the shelves get a little bare, so we can start better eating habits fresh.  But that's a topic for another day.

I followed up the purging with prepping the livingroom for a big reno (yay!), cleaning, running errands, and cooking.  My dinner came out disappointingly boring and bland, but I followed it with some cranberry almond quinoa to stash away for breakfast.
Looks delicious, so I hope it tastes as good because it's all ready to be breakfast for the rest of the week.

Good News of the Day: I can start "exerting" myself again tomorrow.  We're also supposed to be ambushed with freezing rain... hello elliptical!

Friday, January 14, 2011

The dangers of shopping

I think I acquired a shopping injury.  If the clothing you are holding in your right arm is making it go numb and twitch, it's probably time to stop shopping... or at least ask the salegirl for some help!  Lesson learned.  My arm was still a bit sore hours later.  Let's be honest though, I'm not actually a big "shopper".  I actually would love to be if I could, but grad students don't have money.  I do love a good sale though.

VS had an extra 50% off semi-annual sale prices.  Um, yes please.  I may or may not have left with 28 things in my bags.  Confession... that's the only reason I drove 20 minutes out of my way stopped at the mall on my drive home after class today. 

My favorite loot?  A Pitt hoodie and pair of pajama pants.  Nothing like showing school pride when no one can see it.  My jaw almost hit the floor when I saw the original price on the pants though... $59.50!  No wonder there were so many left.  Are there really normal people that choose to sleep in $60 pants?  They are comfy though, and for less than $15 they were mine!
I also found some super cute (and hopefully functional) pieces from the VSX line.  I'm really excited about this tank. 
 It has a built in sports bra but fits nice and loose through the body before gathering at the bottom.  It is also made of some very nice non-cotton material.  And since it was the awesome-happy-Friday price of just $6.50, you can bet I bought it in all 3 colors!
Hopefully they live up to my excitement when I actually put them to the test with a workout.  If not... I'll be returning whichever two I haven't christened with my sweat yet!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It's naked!

It's naked!  My neck is totally naked!

This is me before walking out the door last night.  I pretty much strongarmed the hubs into driving me to the mall in a snowstorm actually, and for that reason, he's awesome.  Just ignore the fact that I thought my dishes drying served as the appropriate backdrop.




See all that hair all up in my face!
Well, now it's sitting in a plastic bag instead.
All 11+ inches of it!



I think the hubs may have even taken some pics/videos while I was sitting in the chair just before the big cut.  To be honest though, I had my eyes closed and was trying to resume breathing while simultaneously stopping my heart palpitations.

You may wonder how this happened.  The short answer is that I have Wednesdays off, and I had nothing better to do than find hairstyles online and go to the mall.  The longer version is that I started growing my hair out pre-wedding.  After only getting a few cuts after that, I decided I wanted to grow it out and donate.  I've been ridiculously frustrated with the massive mop of hair and came close to giving up so many times.  I held off though, and I was shocked when my stylist measured out my braid to 11 inches!  The Pantene Beautiful Lengths program only requires a min of 8 inches, so they got an extra 3 just for fun!

New year, new 'do, and I'm loving it!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Of interviews and too much free time

It took me 80minutes today to drive the route home that usually takes 15ish.  Fabulous.  I just love rush hour snowstorms.  No worries though, a large minty hot cocoa generously doused with CoolWhip fixed everything.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sugar and Spice fix everything nice

Well wasn't I a Debbie Downer yesterday.  I'm still frustrated, but I found the perfect fix for not being able to workout for a week.  Make a dozen or so cinnamon rolls and douse them in ridiculous amounts of ooey-gooey sugary goodness.  Smile on my face- problem solved!

So next time you're benched for a few days, have yourself a cinnamon roll.
(Bear with me, I like to bake/cook by look and feel... so my measurements are estimates at best)

In a large bowl, mix together:
1 3/4 cups warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 1/2T. yeast
Let sit for about 15 minutes.
Add 2 1/2 cups of flour.
Stir/beat to a smooth texture (I used my hand mixer to take care of the lumps)

(I forgot to take a lot of pictures though the next few steps secondary to having really messy hands!)

Add an additional 2 1/2 cups of flour and knead with your hands until combined.  Then transfer to floured surface and continue to knead until smooth, adding small amounts of flour as needed.  Let sit for 15 minutes.  Roll out on floured surface.
And no, I have no idea how long or how wide or how thick to roll it.  Just roll it until it looks right or you get tired or bored from rolling.

Melt a big dollop of butter (official measurement right there) and spread evenly on dough.  Shake on large quantities of cinnamon and handfuls of sugar... until it looks right.  In hindsight, I would have about quadrupled the amount I used.
 Roll it up.
 Slice to desired thickness (I got 16) and place on a large baking sheet that has been sprayed with Pam or something similar.
Set the oven to 400 degrees and place the sheet on top to raise for another 20-30 minutes, at which time they should look more like this.
Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

Make the frosting by beating together 1 splash milk, a big squirt of vanilla, a wollop of margarine, and heaping cups of powdered sugar (again, super official consistent measuring is totally useless in my kitchen)  Spread excessive amounts of said frosting on a roll.
Eat two of these for dinner, and you'll totally forget what was wrong in the first place.  Life's problems yet again solved with sugar and spice.