Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Has Thrown Up Everywhere...And I Love It

Last week when I said I need to be a professional Christmas tree decorator, I meant it. And now I will show you proof as to why I think I need to work in November only.
This is my cousin Ashley's Christmas tree. I started decorating her tree three years ago when I realized she had no idea what to do with deco-mesh. I basically took apart her entire tree and redid it. And I've been doing it every Christmas since then. I absolutely love the top of her tree. Deco-mesh is super fun to work with, and I love the sticks coming out of the top.

My mom and I have yet to get deco-mesh for our family Christmas tree. But we do have some pretty awesome ornaments from over the past couple of years. I'm not in love with the silver gray bow on top, but it will have to do this year. Next year, we will have puffy deco-mesh. We will.

This is the first year I've talked my mom into decorating the mantle. And I'm still not sold on the design, but we work with what we have. A Christmas cookie plate, an iron angel and a hand-painted-by-me Santa circa 1997. (P.S. I've had that pink stocking since I was born. Rocking the tradition.)

Like I said I wasn't/am not sold on the decor for the mantle. So when I got back to Little Rock and the nearest Hobby Lobby, I made the executive decision to make something new. And I came up with this.
Now I got the saying "True love was born in a stable" off Pinterest. But the design is all me. I don't do pretty, perfect art. If I can't have room for mistakes (like mixing green and red to make some icky gray), it becomes too much pressure and I don't ever like the end creation.

But I'm quite fond of the messy polka dots and icky gray. It just feels right. And that's how I know I got it. Plus my mom loved it.

Christmas at my house is quite a big deal. The roommate and I go all out. See.
Two mini Christmas trees, a Santa, Christmas balls in a bowl, a Snowman teapot and a Christmas scented candle. Not pictured is the garland around the tv, one reindeer stocking, one penguin stocking, three feather "decorative" Christmas trees on the kitchen table, a Santa on a horse figure in the computer nook, a festive Christmas tree rug in front of the kitchen sink AND umpteen Christmas inspired coffee cups.

So....Who wants me to decorate their house for Christmas? Any takers? (I can tone it down if I need in your house won't look like mine.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

6.2 Miles of Pure Running Glory: A Race Recap

Dudes, I have officially ran 6.2 miles in 1 hour and 10 minutes. Holla. At. Your. Girl.

I have so much to tell you I don't even know where to begin. So let's start with the fact that I ran Thanksgiving morning. It was a short 4 miles of pure hell. Not even kidding. I was still getting over the sickness, and all the congestion in my chest decided to come out and play. Not cool.

Then I gorged on turkey, sweet potatoes, mac and cheese, dressing, cranberry salad, green bean bundles and pecan pie. And that happened all day long. It was amazing. I know why Thanksgiving only comes once a year.

On Friday, I didn't eat much better than Thursday. With the Wings Over the Prairie Festival in full swing, I had to follow with tradition and have my yearly after Thanksgiving corndog and funnel cake...and cinnamon sugan pecans.

So nobody had a clue what my 10K would look like Saturday morning. But it turned out pretty good.
It was a crisp mid-50s morning. And it was only to get warmer, which I wasn't upset about. I'd rather have hotter than colder any day of the week. By the time the race started, I ditched the pink pullover to avoid having to carry it later on.

Let's back up to before we left the house: I found this prayer on Pinterest a while ago. So that morning in the quiet of waiting to leave the house, I said these words silently over and over. And I also asked the Big Guy to carry me if my run looked anything like Thursday's torturefest.
Back to the race: My mom and I had a plan. At every mile, we would walk one minute. We positioned ourselves in the mid-back of the pack of runners. After the 9-minute-mile starting pace mishap at Race for the Cure, I knew I needed to get a groove all my own and not worry about how far ahead the other runners were. But let me just did bother me. My competitive side came out to play during the race, but more on that later.

Mile 1 was a nice warm up. The wind was coming from the South so it was blowing right in our faces.

Mile 2 was hell on earth. Not even kidding. Running straight into the wind with nothing to block it was very tiring and a little overwhelming. I really wanted it to be over. I'm pretty sure I was a gem to run with for mile 2. My mom, God bless her, had to put up with my moaning and groaning about the wind and how far it was until we turned out of the crazy wind.

Mile 3 was uneventful.

Mile 4 we played catch up. There were a few runners in front of us that we could catch. So we decided to increase our pace to catch them. It felt good to speed up. I'm not sure if it truly felt good, or if adrenaline kicked in to compensate for my competitive nature. Either way, it doesn't matter.

Mile 5, the mile I've ran up to but never ran through, we passed the two runners in front of us. Not gonna lie. It felt good. I had trained for that moment, but I didn't know it. The pace was still faster than it was when we started. And my mom felt good so she was like a speed demon.

By mile 6, I had decided I had passed all the people I was going to pass. I settled into my pace to finish out the race.

Mile 6.2 I crossed the finish line. People were screaming. My mom and dad were waiting for me. The roommate was yelling like a fool. It was amazing. There is no feeling like that in the whole world. Knowing that you finished something only you can finish is a true accomplishment.

It was perfect. I never caught a cramp. Never had any issues with my breathing. It truly was the most perfect run I could have had. I thank the Big Guy for blessing me such greatness.

Post race celebration consisted of trying not to fall down. My hips hurt so bad after the race was over. Every step I took was a constant, painful reminder of what I had just put my body through. Clearly my legs were pissed. I finished 6th in my age division and 116th overall (maybe...I could have just made that up.), and my mom got a medal for finishing third in her age division.

But there is something that needs to be said about running and racing. And this is my personal philosophy. So take it as you will, good or bad.

Running is personal. For me, it's an outlet for everything else. It's a way to push yourself to the limit. It's fun to set goals and work toward them. To see yourself improve. To challenge yourself to be better than the last time you ran. It's about YOU. Not about everyone else that runs.

Running should never be used to tear other people down, runners and non-runners alike. Now I get that a race has a different atmosphere, but it still should be about you.

I ran this 10K for me. I ran it to see if I could do it. If I had it in me to complete it. To race the clock. The passing people during the race was part of it. It was not something I really cared about, but my competitive nature kicked in and it happened. Not once did I or will I ever use my finishing a race to make other people feel bad about themselves. Other people have the power to do that for themselves, they don't need the extra help.

It made me really sad to see people asking about finishing times and gloating about how their time was better. Or hearing "Oh, I'm sorry you didn't place. Maybe next year." with a pat on the back and a smirk on their lips. That's not what it's about.

Running is personal. It's about you. It's you and the clock. Or you and a former finishing time. Or you and a problem you're trying to hash out. It should never be about other people.

All I'm saying is don't use a race, or even a normal run with your usual running buddy, to tear other people down. They are out there trying just as hard as you. Congratulate them for finishing. Build them up. Making them feel good about their run. Because it's about each person's own journey through the run that matters, and nothing else.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

Good morning! Sorry for all the silence. I've been sick. Sick and busy. Work has been crazy the past week, and all I can think about right now is Thanksgiving dinner, which is good because I didn't want to eat for five days due to the sickness.

Let's catch up, shall we?

  • I was sick. And now I'm better. Not 100% yet, but I'm on the way.
  • I haven't ran in over a week due to the sickness. When you have fever off and on for 4 days and it rains like it does in London, a girl can't run.
  • I have not ran 5.5 miles.
  • I got my official confirmation e-mail for my race on Saturday. Yikes. See above bullet for minor freak out.
  • I found this awesome wreath on Pinterest.
  • So I made one for my front door and one for my mom.
  • My fingers are now bruised and have slight burns from my hot glue gun. Awesome.
  • I made a 96% on my third section of my PR plan. Holla.
  • I have not looked or thought about school stuff since I turned that part of the plan in last week.
  • Today is my last day of work for the week. I'm going home this afternoon.
  • Thanksgiving food happens in a mere two days. I can't wait to gorge on delicious eats and treats until it comes out my ears. Yes I plan to be that full.
  • After the 10K on Saturday, I will have reached another running goal I set a little over a month ago. What's next? Ideas? Half-marathon?
  • I just had a mini panic attack when I typed half-marathon. Oh look, there is goes again. Heart palpitations everywhere. Deep breaths. Ok. I'm good.
What's new with you?

What kind of Thanksgiving traditions does your family do each year?
 My mom and I put up our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. I also put up my cousin Ashley's Christmas tree. In case you didn't know, I have a true gift for decorating Christmas trees. Like seriously, it should be my profession. I could really make a lot of people very happy with my Christmas creations.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Liquid Chocolate Could Change Lives

I mean in all seriousiness, liquid chocolate could really heal all wounds and fix all the world's problems. I've made hot chocolate two nights in a row as sort of a "bedtime snack," and I have felt blissfully happy when my head hits the pillow at night.

Why hasn't anyone else thought hot chocolate could change lives?
I ran 5 miles on Sunday for the first time since September.
Distance: 5 miles
Time: 1:01
Best Pace: 9:40
Average Pace: 10:22
Calories: 562

Now when I say it was windy, I mean it was w-i-n-d-y. So windy that I would run into the wind and not really go anywhere. Just arms and legs moving and not moving an inch forward.

But I must say I did a pretty good job on this run. And I'm pretty sure had I pushed all the buttons on my watch correctly, I would have been under an hour. Dang that 1 minute.

This weekend marks the end of training for the 10K. I have my 5.5 mile run, and then it's smooth sailing until the 6.2 mammoth.

Today I will run 3 miles. I have to. I haven't run since the 5 miles on Sunday. But in my defense, it was raining excessively yesterday in the Big City.

Also, on a completely random note, I feel like I should invest in a heating pad to strap to my lower back to keep it from feeling like butter knives are continuously being stabbed in my back. Anyone have any insight as to why my almost 24-year-old back decides to ache all the time, especially after runs?
I made beef tips and rice a few nights ago, and I thought you might like a new comfort recipe to try out.
What you will need:
1 package of stew meat
1 package of Lipton onion soup mix
1 can of beef consume
1 onion
1 package of sliced mushrooms
Red wine
salt and pepper

In a large pan on screaming high heat, throw in the stew meat. Be sure to salt and pepper it before it hits the heat. The meat should get a nice browning effect and bits should stick to the bottom of the pan. But don't let the meat cook all the way through. De-glaze the pan with some red wine.

Put meat and wine into the crock pot. And the onion soup mix, mushrooms, big slices of onion, the entire can of beef consume. Add water to cover all the ingredients. Salt and pepper generously.

Turn crock pot on high. And cook all day. I ususally do all the prep work in the mornings, and I have a nice comfort food dinner when I get home.

Make rice. And serve the beef tips over rice. Mmmmmmmmmm.

What's new with you?

What is your favorite comfort food recipe?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Crown that Lasts Forever

Happy Birthday Alpha Sigma Alpha!!!

110 years ago five amazing women came together to create the most beautiful sisterhood, ritual and values ever created for a Greek organization. And who would have thought I would share those secrets, sisterhood and values with such amazing women of poise and purpose.

I was the 1,547 Alpha Sig at UCA. I am 1547. I will always be 1547.
This was me on bid night when I got to the room. I was pumped. And whenever I think about this night, I still get misty eyed. I know, I'm such a girl.

This was my pledge class new member class SPRING 07!!!! BEST CLASS EVER!

It seems so crazy to think my three and a half years of Alpha Sig are over. But the best part is it's not really ever over. I've met so many wonderful people and became friends with people I would never trade for any reason. And that is such a beautiful thing.

Today is our Founder's Day. I am celebrating the creation of an organization I'm so proud to be a member of. As a little ole freshman, I made one of the best decision of my life: Alpha Sigma Alpha.

So today, and every day, I will remember why Alpha Sig is so important to me. And I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing organization that helped shape me into the person I am today.

To fill my days with satisfying activity.
To find dominant beauty in art, literature, nature and friendships.
To know the peace and serenity of a divine faith.
To love life and joyously live each day to its ultimate good.
This is my creed in Alpha Sigma Alpha.
~Wilma Wilson Sharp

Aspire. Seek. Attain.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Shoulds V. Wants

I've been struggling here recently with juggling stuff I should do and stuff I want to do. I've broken it into three specific categories so ju guys can see it.

Stuff I should do No. 1: Homework

So much to do in so little time. I've really had a hard time with self-motivation this semester. It had to be taking the summer off. I settled into my lazy ways of watching too many movies, cooking delicious food and doing whatever I wanted. School started back, and I didn't really jump on the bandwagon. So now I'm sprinting to catch up with school, while trying to keep up with my social life. It's very tiring.

Stuff I want to do No. 1: Running
I ran yesterday after work. I didn't want to because of the wind and the cold. But I had the best 3 miles ever. And probably my fastest.

Distance: 3.00 miles
Time: 34:41
Best Pace: 9:24
Average Pace: 11:30
Calories: 355

Look who was a whole minute faster than normal. And the best part was the run didn't feel like it was too much. It didn't get bigger than me. I felt in control and good the entire time.

Stuff I want to do No. 2: Cook and Eat

Pinterest has become my go to I'm-bored-and-don't-want-to-do-homework-so-lets-waste-time-staring-at-recipes-online thing. I'm not ashamed since I've found some seriously good looking food.

OH MY LORT! I just want to cook and eat. All the time.

It's getting out of control. Seriously.

Who wants to pay me to make their meals? I'll do it for a small fee.

I think the whole food thing has become a problem. But for all I know, it could be my life's calling.

Cooking and eating and writing. I could totally live with that.

Goal for the rest of the week/weekend: Finish all homework. ALL homework. Cooking something divine...I'm thinking Cheesy Potato Soup (my momma's recipe). And run 5 miles.

What are some of your shoulds v. wants?

Any recipes you want to share? I'm always looking for something new to make in the kitchen.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Little Game of Touch and Go

This morning has been touch and go. And let me tell you why.

Touch: Nobody wants to get up. Period. End of story. It's become a problem.

Go: I had a healthy, delicious breakfast this morning.
Peanut butter and banana sprinkled with pumpkin pie spice on a 100 calorie English muffin. YUMMY!

Touch: It's freaking windy.

Go: But it feels great outside.
I'm suppose to run this afternoon. Hopefully I can get Logan to go with me (ahem, Logan needs to run again). But I don't think I can tell you how freaking windy it is. Blustery might be a more appropriate term.

I need to run. I have to run. I'm training. I have to run. I want to run. I need to run.

Touch: I woke up with a headache. NBD. I get those sometimes, but this one is the size of an elephant sitting on my tiny skill cap.

Go: CAFFINE AND ADVIL! Two of the worlds greatest miracle drugs.

Touch: It's freaking windy, which makes me not want to run.

Go: I found some really great quotes on Pinterest to keep us me going.

"If you run, you are a runner. It doesn't matter how fast or how far. It doesn't matter if today is your first day or if you've been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run." - John Bingham

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I will not run like someone running aimlessly.
1 Corinthians 9:25-26

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." - Steve Prefontaine

"The hardest step for a runner is the first one out of the front door." - Anonymous

Sidenote---I watched a movie about Steve Prefontaine one day. I was really into it, feeling inspired. And then he gets in a car wreck and dies. I was so upset. More angry than upset. Such a true talent. What a shame.

So the quote he said above is about running, but it can be applied ot any part of your life.

Another sidenote---I'm feeling much better now that I've shared with you all about my touch and go day thus far. I'm hopeful it will be a GO day for the rest of the day.

What are some of your favorite inspirational quotes?

How do you handle touch-and-go days?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

All That is Important

I ran 4.5 miles this weekend with my mom and some of her super awesome running buddies Kerri and Lisa. I got to wear my new long sleeved running shirt. I felt legit.

The downside to legitness came when the run was over, and I took off my fleece headband thingy to evaluate my hair.
In my defense, that is not all sweat. It was very foggy that morning so condensation played a big part in the making of this rat's nest.
The fog was so thick it didn't really lift after the sun came up. (Yes, I said when the sun came up...meaning that I got up before the sun to go run in the freezing cold.)

Fog is super creepy. All I could think about was someone jumping out of the fog and chasing us. Clearly I have a problem. My brain works too hard when it comes to thinking up crazy scary senarios. I still blame Criminal Minds.
My friend Jodi has the cutest baby in the history of all the babies.
It's crazy to me how five months ago we were all waiting to see that cute little face. I lub her so much it's a little stupid.
I ran again yesterday. Still preparing for my upcoming 10K. I've got two weekends left for long runs. (BTW--anything longer than 3 miles is a long run to me at this point.)

Distance: 3.0 miles
Time: 37:38
Best Pace: 10:29
Average Pace: 12:33
Calories: 317

This weekend I will run my first 5 miles since the last one. Next weekend I will run 5.5 miles. And then next weekend is the race. And I will run 6.2 miles...a personal record for me. So it's getting down the wire with it all. But I'm excited.
I made soup last night. I'm pretty sure it's the best soup in the world. Thank you Clean Eating Chelsey for creating something so wonderful.
Broccoli, potato and white bean soup is probably my favorite soup this season. I have a feeling the roommate and I will be eating lots of soup this fall/winter.
Kroger had my most favorite flower in bulk. So I had to get some to brighten my house.

Tulips are the most beautiful and happiest flowers. I love all the different colors, but I'm a true sucker for red tulips with the yellow centers. I swoon.

Did I leave anything out?

How was your weekend?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

First Class Roommate

I've lived with the same roommate for 5 years. I mean that has to be a world record. And everyone thinks Samantha, the roommate, is the quietest, sweetest girl ever. Everyone loves her.

But nobody knows that she is an absolute loonybird. She's not a bit quiet. In fact, she never shuts up. And she has a bit of an attitude, which I like to think she picked up from me throughout the years of living with me.

The reason I bring this up is because everyone thinks the roommate has it together. That she is prim and proper and lady-like. Nobody ever sees what she's really like.

Last night I caught her in one of her finer moments.
This is mild compared to the fact that she likes to scream into the couch cushions and has conversations with me while sitting on the couch facing the wall.

And I always say, "Nobody's ever here." Nobody ever sees her like this except me.

Clearly she's insane and hilairious. And the comedic relief that I live with every day.

So stop saying that she's quiet. Don't do that anymore. Because it's a false statement.

The kid never shuts up. And if you listen to her, you wouldn't want her to shut up because she is the funniest person I know. She's a guaranteed laughfest.

Other classic Samantha/roommate moments:
I hope I've cleared up any misconceptions of the roommate and her insanity. And now you know. So next time you see her, scream at her and I'd bet she'll scream back.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Holy Crap I Can't Handle Stuff Like This Before 8:30 A.M.

Dudes we have to take a break from the HTDTYSAKW series because it's only 8:30 in the morning, and I have already overcome a crisis.

Exhibit A:
A newly released from life cockroach.

Exhibit B:
Cockroach killing assistant.

Now let's really talk about what happened.

7:30 A.M. I stopped at Starbucks on the way to work to get some coffee because I'm out of half and half at home...clearly a good reason to hit up the Bucks.

7:50 A.M. I sit down at my desk and turn on my computer. Check the work e-mail. Check the personal e-mail. Open Blogger to check my favorite blogs.

8:05 A.M. The co-workers start to come in. Lots of movement. Papers shuffling. Talking amongst ourselves.

8:07 A.M. Hairy-legged cockroach makes it's first appearance on the bookcase near my desk.

8:07:30 A.M. I zero in on said hairy-legged cockroach. Drag Tiffany over to look at the cockroach with me. Feeling of disgust and horror consume my thoughts.

8:08 A.M. Try to convince Tiffany to kill the cockroach.

8:15 A.M. Tiffany and Stacy leave me to conquer cockroach alone.

8:15 A.M. to 8:25 A.M. Played out worst case senarios in my head of cockroach flying in my face, crawling on me, just walking around on its spindly legs. I shudder.

8:25:30 A.M. Cough. Almost throw up. Pace around in a circle.

8:27 A.M. Get pissed off at said spindly legged cochroach. Find the Raid.

8:28 A.M. Use Raid to end cockroach's life.

8:30 A.M. Crisis over.

If the cockroach were still here to tell us his side of the story, I'm sure he would have a good reason for being inside my office crawling on the bookcase near my desk.

But I didn't give him a chance to speak. I just sprayed that Raid until there was a thick sheen on the cockroach's legs and everything in that general area smells of cochroach killing spray.

That having been said, the can of Raid will stay at my desk in case others come to mourn the death of their fallen brethren.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Running with a Famous Person

I spent yesterday afternoon catching up, making a costume and running with my old college friend Ben Davis. We've known each other for three years now and have a bit of a history.

Ben is now my famous friend.When we met in 2008, Ben was 360 pounds. He was sad and lonely, but then he made a decision to change his situation. Three years later, he is a whole person smaller, a marathon runner, two-time Ironman and inspiration to millions of people who follow his life journey every day on his blog Ben Does Life.

We met at Starbucks to have some coffee and catch up. And as the conversation went along, he said we should run.

Now let's get this straight. Ben runs. I jog. It's very different. And I was instantly nervous when he said we should run together because I knew I wouldn't be able to keep up. See...Ben runs fast. I jog slow.
But we ran. And it was amazing (aside from the fact that my side had a sharp shooting pain under my rib cage the whole time). Four miles at sunset. Perfect weather. It was glorious. And I didn't really keep up, but I tried. And that's all that matters.

And I helped him make an old school ghost costume.
He's so menacing. (We did cut out some eyes...and we basically stole that sheet from Wal-Mart. But let's not get into that.)

Ben: I had fun with you yesterday. When you come back to 'Merica, there will be more coffee, running and friend time. So get ready. See ya at Christmas when you pick up the masterpiece of Sherman.

On a semi-related note: my mom sent me an e-mail this morning.
Yep. It's happening. 13.1 miles. I will get that sticker. And that medal. And that personal accomplishment. And bragging rights. And whatever else comes along with it.