Who Runs the World?

Apparently I do.  Or, at least that’s my plan for parts of it.  Ever since last year’s “Oh, I should run a 5k before I turn 30” stroke of genius, I have really begun to like running.  Love it, in fact.  I have even started calling myself a runner.  I have a subscription to a running magazine.  Who am I?

I was perfectly content with sticking with 5ks and 10ks as challenges, but then I discovered a little nugget:  The Disney Princess Half Marathon.  It encompasses many things I love:  Disney, theme parks, castles, princesses, running, and goal setting.  It’s a half marathon run through and between Epcot and the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World (that’s the one in Florida, for those of you who mix it up like I used to), and you get to RUN THROUGH THE CASTLE!  YES!  Now, clearly this is going to be a challenge.  A half MARATHON?  Good Lord, what is going through my head?  I just mastered the 3.1 mile run, so why not add on another 10?  Sounds like a solid plan!  Oh my gosh.

Now, I have a few secret weapons in my back pocket, the first being B’s Aunt M.  Aunt M has run this race before, and she was supposed to this year before she ended up injuring her ankle.  I texted her after hearing about the race, and she got back to me immediately, writing nothing but encouragement and “Yes!  Doooo iiiittttt!”  (She, of course, is much too classy to use so many extended letters, but that’s what it sounded like in my head, so I took liberties to translate it for all of you.)  Unknowingly, I was then signing on for doing it (I was still in the decision process), and promptly received a “Let the training begin!” package in the mail, filled with a princess crown sparkly tattoo and a running magazine.  Aunt M then excitedly told everyone we knew that we were going to run the race together – including my parents, who didn’t have a clue that I was even thinking about running a half.  Have I mentioned how adorable Aunt M is with her excitement?  Love her!  Her encouragement has really helped with my confidence about being able to training and get through it.  If she thinks I can, why can’t I think I can?

I also am the most ridiculously stubborn person I know, aside from my immediate family members (hey, I have to get it from somewhere… and this is all genetic).  When I set a goal in my head, I have to do it.  No ifs, ands, or buts.  This has actually caused a few issues (more posting on that later), but I jumped onto the training wagon with fervor.  I have had to take some downtime for the past two weeks, and it has killed me.  I have dreamed about running.  I have daydreamed about running.  I have tried it when I possibly shouldn’t have.  (Hint – I have a doctor’s appointment set up for the coming week… you do the math.)  I am going to do this.  I must.  I set the goal, and it WILL happen.  I’m scheduled to do my first 10k on the Best Coast during the summer, so I am stepping up my distance in races as the half gets closer.

So as I go along on my training regiment, I’ll share my experiences with you.  First up, what it is like to deal with Runner’s Knee.  I’ll tell you what, it’s not fun.  It downright sucks.  Just ask B.  No, he doesn’t have it, but he has a noisy wife who has it, and he has suffered plenty through all of my caterwauling.

Do you like to run?  Any tips for a new one?

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Celebrating in Edited Style

A couple days after my dad’s birthday, there was another birthday to celebrate.  My grandmother was turning the big 8-0, and we knew as a family that we needed to do something more than just a cake and a big happy birthday.  We had started planning months before the big day; we had people involved, we had a location secured, and we had a food plan.  What we hadn’t planned on was my uncle losing the lower half of his left leg in a motorcycle accident on June 10.

It was around 9 PM, and my uncle decided to ride into town on his motorcycle, just two or three miles down the road.  My dad said that if he could have foreseen what would happen, he would have driven to his house and slashed his tires.  On his way back, my uncle’s motorcycle was clipped by a woman in an SUV who apparently didn’t see him (how do you not see an on-coming headlight?!).  I won’t get graphic with the rest of the details, but his lower left leg was severed on scene and everyone considered it a miracle he’s still with us.  After numerous surgeries and a month and a half in the hospital, he was finally able to go home at the beginning of August.  His struggle is anything but over, but going home is at least one little start.

Needless to say, this whole situation put a damper on our family, and as a secondary thought, the party planning.  It certainly took an emotional toll on everyone, so instead of pushing everything along and acting like we’re all in the mood for a large room of people, we decided to have a smaller party, one that would involve my uncle in his new rehab hospital he was in at that point.

So what is a girl to wear to a surprise party at a hospital?  I thought something festive but casual.  Something like this:The tank top is from Gap Outlet for $5 (on sale at the time), and the skirt was from Goodwill for $4.99.  The hair flower was something I had already made for our wedding rehearsal dinner back in 2010.  The colors would work well with the party attitude, and the skirt made it a little more formal.  I paired it with navy blue flip flops to round out the casual vibe.  The party was pretty successful.  Tons of Chinese food and cake were eaten, presents were opened, and my grandmother was surprised.  Was it the party we wanted to give her?  No.  Definitely not when compared to what we originally had planned.  But sometimes life needs to be edited in order to celebrate what you have.  Sometimes you just never know.  So we celebrated a big birthday and celebrated being a family. 

That’s what’s important.

Thoughts from the Displaced

We moved in on Sunday, and it’s already Friday.  Where did that go?  I feel like that has been the question of the week, and I’m not talking about the time.  Living out of boxes is totally not my thing.  Observations and knowing where my junk is is more my speed.

My observations on moving and living in a new state from the past five days:

1.  Hearing your father-in-law call your dad a “beast” in a torrential downpour while moving giant furniture is hilarious.

2.  Giant furniture, and the moving thereof, sucks.  These pieces lead to giant bruises.

3.  These giant bruises will surface when you want them the least, like, oh, the day you have an interview to become a coach at your new school district.  No, sir, I wasn’t beaten recently; I just had a run-in with a lot of furniture that needed to go up and down four flights of stairs.

4.  I have the greatest college friends ever!  Carolyn and Aaron got up relatively early in the morning and loaded a ton of our stuff into the parking lot for the “boys” to pack into the moving truck.  If that isn’t impressive enough, it was about 85 degrees out with 70% humidity on Sunday.  We were all drenched in our own sweat.  Gross.  We owe them big time when they move into their new house (which is hopefully soon!).

5.  Remember our neighbor who used to live below us in Maine who constantly coughed and I thought she was going to pass out each time?  Yeah, she’s been replaced by a constantly ringing phone next door.  Who gets that many phone calls during the day?  I think they are running a mail-order bride business.  Also, who still have everyone call their home phones?  Oh.  Right.  My parents who don’t have cell phones.

6.  Whoever designed the lighting in our apartment was on crack.  There are three light switches to the front hallway light.  This light is just for a five-foot hallway.  That’s it.  And there are three light switches.  The bathroom’s light switch is in this five-foot hallway.  Not in the bathroom, oh no!  That would make too much sense!  It’s not like there isn’t space on the wall for it.  There is.  Lots.  The light in the kitchen is also all the way on the other side of this skinny little kitchen, no where near where you think it should be.  Plain and simple – the electrician was on crack.

7.  Why does everyone in Massachusetts have to drive like they are in labor and about to give birth?  Sure, I like to get where I am going too, but I have no urge to get to the grocery store ten miles away in 60 seconds flat.  Also, honking makes few situations better.

8.  The grocery store carries something called “New Age Beverages.”  Um… what the hell is that?

9.  Massachusetts has the FREAKIEST tree frogs.  They sound like they have little sinister laughs.  Nightmares are made of these.

10.  It only seems to rain here when you want to move something, be it all of your apartment goods, groceries, or the bajillion boxes you now have clogging up your five-foot hallway with three light switches.  Where was the rain on the days I was sweating my butt off?

11.  There is a reason people pay a crap ton of money for water from Maine.  I have now discovered why.  When your husband tells you that your new water, even after being run through a water filter, has a different “tang,” prepare for your body to reject it and become best friends with the bathroom.

12.  My in-laws have this weird thing where they like to turn on all of the lights and then just leave them on.  It drives me nuts.  I don’t want to pay to have every light in the house on at the same time, mmkay?  As a side note, I have discovered that I am completely anal retentive about shutting off lights and will only turn them on or use any electricity when absolutely necessary.  You can only see five feet in front of you?  Meh, you’re fine.  No need for lighting.

There are, of course, hundreds of other thoughts bouncing around in my head, like why do 3M velcro strips have to cost so dang much?  And will that stupid phone EVER stop ringing?!  No, sir, Olga isn’t available anymore, but we do have a lovely Marta model if you are interested!  You should also check out Svetlana while she’s available.  Please call back later!

Moving is tough.

Castle Out of Boxes

The vagabond lifestyle is not for me.  Traveling?  Yes.  Constantly moving and having your belongings not in their places where you can reach for them time after time because everything you want to make seems to call for those pesky measuring cups you stupidly packed away two days too early?  Not having it.

This is currently our living situation.

All of our stuff is crammed into boxes, bags, and the random hampers that lived behind our living room door.  It will probably be like this for a day or two.  Today, though, is the day it all makes a journey.

Today, we move to Massachusetts!

It’s taken me a while to come around to the idea of moving, not because I hate the idea, but because I love the people around me.  My coworkers spoiled me in the past couple days, not to mention how wonderful they have been for the past two or three years.  We have laughed, we have cried, and we have determined that we are not necessarily all going to heaven.  Our family lives here.  Our pets (who all live with our parents) live here.  One of my best friends lives two doors down the hall from our apartment.  I love the outdoors.  Why on earth would I want to leave?

Well, for the adventure.  This is a time where we are married, but we don’t have the extra responsibility of dragging kids along with us.  We also need to do it for B.  This is a time for him to play with his professional dreams and succeed in his own endeavors.  Moving back to Maine wasn’t something he thought he would be doing, but he did it for me to be successful in teaching (and paying back some loans).  It’s time.

So, with our parents’ trucks, our two cars, and a moving van loaded down, we bid Maine adieu for now.  Of course we’ll be back for visits (though everyone keeps talking about Massachusetts as this super far off place where no one ever returns).  Here’s to adventure!  See you again from a place a little bit more southern!

The First Man in My Life

Today is a great day in the B (and, of course, H) household.  Today, 52 years ago, the first man in my life started a life of his own.  Today, my dad turns 52! 

B and I got together with my parents and my grandmother to celebrate with a picnic on a local hill that overlooks the nearby mountain ranges.  Absolutely gorgeous.  What is even better is the man we celebrated today.  My dad has always been my hero, even though I haven’t always thought about it that way.  He has taught me how to be strong in my convictions, not be afraid to go against popular belief, and hold my own when it comes to getting quality service, especially when it comes to cars.  Yes, I am a girl, and no, that doesn’t mean I should be taken advantage of because I supposedly know nothing about cars.  During wedding planning, he wanted to be a part of anything I asked of him, and he always made sure that B had a say in the decisions we were making (he always did).The man made dozens of crepes at my bridal shower.  He has tried hard to understand field hockey and all of its rules and whistles.  He let my sister and I put his hair in pigtails.  He wrestled with us and didn’t back down just because “we were girls.”  He fixed our Barbies by making them wooden prosthetic arms, and when prosthetic parts didn’t work, he made them wheelchairs.  He’s been on our side, and while we didn’t always see eye to eye on topics, we can agree to disagree.He’s the best dad, and I am so lucky to have him as my dad.  Happy birthday, Dad!  Here’s to another 52 years!  I love you!

Back on Track

Right, where were we?  Ah, right before my birthday with a pre-birthday Goodwill haul.  B is so good at planning birthday dates, and that one was an excellent one to be sure.  My actual birthday was a bit chilly, and, dare I say, a bit less fun.  Thanks to hormones and some untimely not-so-kind words, I was upset, and nothing seemed to go right.  People were too cold at the baseball game.  The restaurant I picked didn’t suit everyone.  I ended up crying in front of everyone and feeling stupid.  It was not the best birthday.  There were, however, some excellent highlights, like seeing these people:

and getting my new baby, a sewing machine!  B and my parents had pooled their birthday funds and purchased an AWESOME sewing machine for me!  I need to take a class to get myself started, but I cannot wait to start creating!

I also made a stop by Goodwill to use my birthday 25% discount with my Goodwill card.  I only ended up picking up a few necklaces because we were in a time crunch to get to the baseball game, but it was kind of fun to tell the cashier it was my birthday.  Yes, I am one of those people who loves to tell others that it’s her birthday.  I have a countdown starting April 1.  B is well aware of when my birthday is, and there is little opportunity for him to forget when my birthday is because I refuse to stop reminding him.  I wouldn’t say I nag, per se, I just like to get excited about events.  I had a day-by-day countdown for our wedding.  I keep countdowns for trips or when people come to visit (and I also post them on those people’s Facebook walls for good measure).  I just like getting enthusiastic!  All of you Debbie Downers can exit here.

But fear not!  Even with my blah birthday, I am bound and determined to make year 26 pretty darn great.  And you know what?  So far, it hasn’t treated me too badly.  I have, after all, done a bit of traveling…

But those are all stories for another day!

Have a wonderful (hopefully less humid) week, everyone!

Short on Money, Short on Scarf

Did I ever tell you that my dad knits?  As in sits in his recliner when he comes home from work, picks up his latest project and simply knits.  He usually has this fellow on his lap, as well, which can make things difficult:

Meet my sweet cat, Italics!

I come from a very crafty family.  My mom is a wonder at painting, drawing, calligraphy, and baking.  My sister took AP Art in high school, works as a hair and makeup artist now, and can draw, paint, create mosaics, and sculpt better than anyone else I know.  My dad’s hobbies include blacksmithing (he made the lantern stands for my wedding centerpieces), using CADD programs to run and design projects, and, of course, knitting.  He also drew and painted at one time, I think.  With all of that crafting and artistic ability comes a deep sense of how valuable handmade gifts are.  You don’t just toss them aside because the color is “a little of.”  You Tim Gunn that business and “make it work!”

That’s what I knew I had to do with a certain green scarf I received from my dad a couple years ago.  When he was just beginning, he started off like any other beginning knitter:  pot holders, wash clothes, and scarves.  I received at least one of each.  This green scarf is a gorgeous color, and very well done.  The problem, however, was that it was made too short.  I think he had run out of yarn.  Draped around my shoulders, the ends would only fall to the tops of my chest, and that was without tying it.  Sadly, it didn’t get a lot of use and just sat there in the bottom of my winter clothes tub, wishing to some day be a real scarf.

Suddenly, the thread fairy came to visit!  The green scarf was granted its wish to be a real scarf, and with a little hand-stitching magic (no crickets involved), it was brought back to life.  How?  By making it into an infinity scarf!  Chunky knits are all the rage this fall and winter season, and they have been for at least the past three.  Infinity scarves don’t seem to be going anywhere either, so I took out my trusty sewing kit (no luck on a sewing machine from Santa this year), threaded the needle with some green thread, and sewed the two ends together, using a tight X pattern to keep the stitches from stretching.  It took maybe 20 minutes, and voila!  I had a brand new chunky knit green scarf from my dad that will get a whole lot more use!

Total spent on new item of clothing:  $0

Monthly clothing budget left:  $10

How have you revamped your down-on-their-luck clothing items recently?

I Want You to Want Me

Let’s be real.  When you get dressed in the morning, you take what other people will think into account, even just a little.  Come on, you know it’s true.  Otherwise, a whole heck of a lot more people would be running around naked.  I know at least five people who would if they could.  Two of them nearly did.  Boston does an underwear day.  If you ever visit Boston, watch out for that.

When I get dressed, I take a few things into consideration:  whether or not I have to work, what I am doing for the day, the weather, and my mood.  But before I even get to picking out an outfit, I have to figure out how to shop for an outfit.  After all, where does my style taste come from before I look for pieces?

Tons of girls (and probably guys for that matter) look to celebrities for some help.  There are a few people I would love to emulate (and it would certainly help if I had their wallets… just saying…):

1.  Reese Witherspoon

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Can we just appreciate how chic and effortless she always looks?  From her hair to her clothes, she’s always put together.  Dear Reese, please be my style Godmother and grant me my clothing wishes.  Her style is very classic with touches of trends here and there.  Oh, and she’s into having swap meets with her friends.  PLEASE BE MY FRIEND!  And could I be your size?  Okay thanks.

2.  Rachel Zoe

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I love her spunk.  I recently found a few episodes of her show on Hulu (what?  This broke girl can’t afford cable, thank you very much.) and fell in love.  I have gotten so many ideas from watching her style celebrities and just seeing what she wears on the show by herself.  Sometimes her clothes are a little out there for me, but I can appreciate where she lives and what she has to work with.  She isn’t afraid to make a statement, something that I am trying to work on.

3.  Lauren Conrad

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I know, I know.  But put “The Hills” behind you for a minute and look at what she wears.  She is another one of those combinations of classic and on-the-minute trend.  Her clothes become her, not the other way around.  Also, I love her line for Kohl’s.  They are just too cute… but sometimes too expensive.  Come on, Kohl’s.  Help a poor girl out.

As for non-celebrities, I have a few family members who really have a great eye for things I might like to wear.

1.  My cousin Becky

Becky is on the left, Jess is on the right

Becky is eight years older than me, and I have always found her style to be up my alley.  She is quite like Reese Witherspoon with her ability to take classic pieces, rock them, and then add pops of trending.  She almost always looks put together, and her outfits over Christmas were adorable.  Too bad I don’t have pictures…

2.  My cousin Jess

While I’m using the picture above, I might as well talk about my cousin Jess, Becky’s younger sister.  Jess was like my big sister growing up because we lived across the street from each other and are a year and a half apart.  She has always dared to wear things I didn’t.  I was the wallflower, and she dared to show it off.  Her wardrobe is put together, fun, and quirky.  Her shoe collection is killer, though I don’t know how she wears some of those shoes sometimes.  She must have feet of steel.  Even when she was pregnant, a time when most women would hide under baggy clothes, she had style.  Love it.

There are, of course, loads of other people who give me silent guidance, like my sister who tends to show me the up-to-date trends and picks classic pieces on occasion just like me. She also rocks in the makeup and hair department.

I find that the more I people-watch, the more I find what I like and what I don’t like.  Just being witness to fashion helps me weed out the “what the…” from the “hmm, I could do that.”

How do you pick out clothes when you go shopping?  Who are your style icons?

Classic Christmas

Christmas may have been a few days ago, but that’s no reason not to show and tell!

Christmas is always a busy time in my family, and B is just now getting the hang of how my crazy relatives roll.  It’s been quite a switch for both of us, celebrating holidays with each other’s families every year.  I have a large extended family; my mom is one of four and my dad is one of three.  Ten cousins, five cousins’ significant others, two boyfriends, one sister, and two baby second cousins mean lots of noise, lots of people, and lots of activity.  I associate holidays with talking, catching up, photos, laughter, and tons of food.  B, on the other hand, is accustomed to a very different family style.  B and his brother K are the only children on B’s mother’s side, and his cousins on his dad’s side are about 15-20 years older than us.  They live all over the country, and it takes an occasion like our wedding to bring most of them together.  Holidays are typically celebrated with B’s mom’s side and are very quite.  With no cousins, it’s just his parents, his grandmother, his aunt Sheila, and his uncle J.  Quiet, quiet, quiet.

This year was a classic “run until your head falls off” celebration situation.  I think I now get what it feels like to have a divorced family.  Everyone wants to see you, and there isn’t enough time in a day to make everyone happy with how long you spend with them.  I get it.  I want to spend a ton of time with all of them, too (yes, I love my in-laws.  They’re great!).  We figured out a schedule that allowed us to have a little bit of “us” time, celebrate with paternal my grandmother, my immediate and extended family on my mom’s side, and his immediate and (abbreviated) extended family. Our parents live about 15 minutes away from each other, which is helpful, and my aunt (who hosts my extended family’s holidays) lives 15 minutes away from my parents.  My grandmother is about an hour and 15 minutes from my parents, so it’s a bit more travel to get there.

Keeping all of that running and travel in mind, I wanted to pick out outfits that would be both stylish, holiday-esque, and comfortable.  B’s parents’ house tends to be on the colder side (and I am always cold in the winter, so it’s bad), so I picked pieces that would be stylish and warm without all of the bulk.

CHRISTMAS EVE

Christmas Eve day started with B and I getting up early to open some of our gifts we got each other.  It’s important for us to have our own Christmas as we begin our own little family unit. (Please note that that sentence does NOT mean we are having a baby.  Two people can be a family unit.  Thank you.  Please carry on.)  Outfit of choice?  Classic red and pink striped pajamas.  (Also, my grandmother made that quilt.  MADE IT.  Is she amazing or what?)We then showered and changed for the rest of our day, which meant traveling to my grandmother’s house with my parents.  We would be leaving my grandmother’s house in the early evening and going straight to church in my hometown after, which meant no time to full change outfits.  Solution?  Pack it all in advance and simply change bottoms.  For the Christmas at Gram’s, I paired a goldeny-tan dolman sweater from Goodwill ($5) with a pair of dark wash jeans from Target ($8).  To play up the goldeny factor of the sweater and be a little more festive, I added in a silver and rose gold waterfall necklace from Kohl’s ($4.80), a silver cuff bracelet from eBay ($0.40), a ruby ring my grandfather made (I come from a long line of creative people) and a pair of classic black heels.

To change for church, I kept everything but the jeans the same.  To me, Christmas Eve service needs a bit more than just jeans, so I threw in a pair of opaque black tights ($6 Kohl’s) and a high-waisted black skirt ($5 Goodwill).

To wrap everything up, I threw on my cream wool dress coat from Moda International ($19.99 Goodwill).

CHRISTMAS DAY

Christmas morning almost always starts off with the same outfit:  my Christmas Eve pajamas.  My parents started a tradition with me and my sister when we were younger where they always give us pajamas to wear on Christmas Eve.  I now have the biggest collection of pajamas.  Ever.  I’m not kidding.  B and my sister’s boyfriend Jeff are now in on the tradition as well.  I didn’t get a top with the bottoms this time around, though, so I had to supplement with the top I brought.  What?  It totally goes.  Be nice, it’s Christmas.After opening presents and eating breakfast with my family, we headed over to B’s parents’ to have Christmas lunch and gifts with them.  I didn’t want to keep changing clothes with each location change (I don’t have unlimited access to free laundry here, people), so I picked something that would be comfy and appropriate for all of our family events.  The first piece was a long sequin tank I found at Kohl’s a few days before.  I had $15 in Kohl’s cash I needed to spend, so I found this shirt for $12… which means FREE!  I then pulled a cranberry cardigan from American Eagle that I have had for eight years (HOLY MOLY!) from my closet to add some color and some warmth.  I then put it together with the same jeans from the night before (what?  Kate Middleton did it.).  For shoes, I wore my tall brown boots for warmth and a more casual appeal ($29 from Amazon.com).  These boots also allowed me to wear fuzzy, warm socks to keep my frozen feet warm!  For accessories, I wore a silver sparkle headband ($0.75 from Joann Fabrics), three clear bangles, a leopard infinity scarf I made two days before (look for the tutorial!) and a pair of purple wrapped earrings from my parents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So there you have it!  How did you style your Christmas look?  Honestly, if I stayed in one place, I would have stayed in those Christmas jammies.  I would live in them all day if I could!