Monday, December 31, 2012

Monday Randomness

Before I forget, I wanted to mention that tomorrow is the start of a new year, and we will do our annual New Year's Day run, which I like to do as a commitment to fitness and health for the year - start it off right, you know?  Anyway, I'd like to encourage all of you to join us in kicking off the new year in a healthy way, be it with a run, walk, swim, bike ride or whatever...and I'd love to hear what you did, in Wednesday's comments.

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Bear with me here, as we went on a whirlwind trip to Dallas over the weekend and my brain is a bit fried.  We went to Sam's place, where we helped him get speakers set up, a TV mounted on the wall, and naturally this involved a trip to Ikea, where I also got a couple of things to help organize my yarn and knitting supplies (more on that in a few days, when I've had time to put everything together).  Oh, and we also got to meet Sam's friend-who-is-a-girl, Roxy - she was very sweet and managed to hold her own with all of us plus my Uncle Phil, so I have to give her bonus points for that.  Plus, she brought us homemade tamales - how nice!

As part of his Christmas gift to Jeff, Sam treated him to a haircut and salon experience - quite the change from Jeff's normal $10 haircut.  I tagged along and was happily knitting away in the waiting area, when one of the hairdressers came out to tell me that "your husband wants you to take a picture of him and your son" - he was living the high life and wanted documentation!
Paraffin wax on the hands, scalp and neck massages...
followed by the hot towel, scented with eucalyptus oil.
Don't hate them because they're beautiful...

We spent most of Sunday getting things set up in Sam's apartment - I swear, it feels like we just did this, but I guess it's been over a year since the last time we helped change things up a bit.  Here's some of the progress pictures - unfortunately, we were running out of time and we had to leave for home before everything was finished, so no "after" pictures:
Putting a big speaker on top of the entertainment center...
While I found a spot to knit.
Measuring to hang a speaker shelf...
While I found a different spot to knit.
I did some work, too - got all of Sam's new dress shirts steam-pressed and hung up (the clothes on the back wall are the extent of his work wardrobe...poor kid is in the midst of "lose weight/rebuild wardrobe" right now); plus I washed all his sheets and towels (why is laundry more fun when it's someone else's?), and of course had kitchen duty.
Here's the finished speaker shelves - and we rehung the art...but I didn't get a picture of that.  Oops!

Max wasn't feeling 100% after his bout with the stomach flu, so he opted to stay home, which was nice for us, as we didn't have to bring Paco (and deal with walking him - Sam lives on the third floor of his apartment building).  I think Paco AND Henry were fine with staying home - here's the picture Max posted on Facebook while we were gone:
Awww!  Mortal enemies when they are awake, but Paco and Henry get along just fine, as long as they can sleep with someone as a buffer.

No pictures of this, but yesterday we went to Scotty P's for my favorite chili cheeseburger.  Which got me to thinking of the last time I went there - turns out, it was exactly a year ago, to the day.  December 30th, 2011.  I remember it so well because we drove to Dallas to meet up with Debby, where we lunched, and then she taught me how to knit!  Happy Knitiversary to me!  P.S.  I did not plan this, I swear, but I wore the same sweater this 12/30 as last 12/30.  My goal for 12/30/13 is to wear a sweater that I've knitted!

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Happy New Year!!!  I hope you all ring in 2013 in a safe and happy way!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Mishmash - Yarn!

It was a very knitty Christmas for me this year, and I loved it!  I got yarn, beautiful yarn...I've already started on a cowl with one skein, and have nearly finished a hat with two more skeins.  Plus I have enough yarn to make a sweater - eeek!  I've had my eye on a couple of different patterns for a pullover, and am working on getting my nerve up to attempt one.  All yarn came from my mom - she really came through for me!
An armful of yarn, wheee! 

Jeff gave me a yarn swift, a yarn winder, and some blocking mats.  All items that I've been wanting, but waited to make sure that I liked knitting enough to stick with it before requesting them.  Here's a couple shots of me winding my first "cake" of yarn (the ball winder makes yarn look like little cakes, hence the term):
A yummy cake...of yarn!

I also received several knitting books that were on my Amazon wish list:
Sam gave me the three books, and a dear friend gave me the perpetual calendar - I feel very indulged!

I am so pleased with everything - I've really come to love knitting, and all of these goodies will help me enjoy my hobby even more!

I also received a couple of other fun gifts - Max gave me a Fiestaware spoon rest for my stove, in Peacock green:

And Jeff gave me this cute Lego set, which appropriately, is sitting on my desk:
Will I ever outgrow the thrill of getting a new toy at Christmas?  Probably not. :)

Speaking of new toys, Paco got his present:
 
While he's quite adept at unwrapping his gift, Paco was a very good dog and did not unwrap any of the other presents under the tree.  Maybe he knew Santa was watching?

Everyone posed with their favorite present:
I gave Jeff a mile marker from the half marathon we just did - they were auctioned off afterward with the proceeds going to the race charities.  I thought this one was very symbolic of our year of running together and was really glad to win the auction - bidding was going on right up to the deadline!  I framed it so he can hang it in his office.

Sam only asked for two things - a pair of sharp kitchen scissors, and new clothes.  We gave him an IOU for a shopping trip for the clothes, so on Christmas day, his favorite item was the scissors:
Goofy Sam, as usual...

Max wanted a pet rat, so we got him all the accessories and will take him to Petco next week to pick out the rat (we're going out of town this weekend and didn't want to leave the new rat alone so soon).  Here he is with the rat food (Fiesta Max, how appropriate):
If he looks ill, it's because he was.  The stomach bug (norovirus?) started with Sam last Tuesday night - he was really sick until Saturday.  Then poor Max got it Christmas Eve...he wasn't feeling very good here.  Heck, he'd been up most of the night tossing his cookies, so when he finally fell asleep, he didn't wake up until nearly noon on Christmas day - it was the latest we'd ever waited to open gifts!

Dinner picture - we'd just popped our Christmas Crackers, and my prize (a shoe horn, lol) was sitting on my plate.  Paco got in on the picture action, too:
Ham and all the fixin's - it was good!  

We're headed up to the Dallas area this weekend for a quick trip - it's going to be freezing up there, so I need to finish knitting that hat today!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wednesday Workout Update

I am very grateful for my exercise routine during the holidays - with Jeff off work and the kids home, my normal routine is definitely off, but having my set "run days" in place, and doing them - no matter what - is helping to keep me sane and alleviate the guilt of lazing around while we watch tons of movies.

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Is it wrong that I feel like I beat Jeff the other morning, when my alarm went off and he heard the wind howling outside, said "I'm not running in this wind" and I still did?  Hah!  Wind to him is what hills are to me - we all have things we hate to deal with in running.  But the windy day was Thursday, and Erica and I run on Thursdays.  She showed up at 6:00 am and we did our normal run, in the wind.  Booyah to Jeff!  (Why yes, there *might* be a tiny bit of competitiveness between Jeff and I - and I so rarely win that I have to note it when I do!)

On Saturday morning, we met up with about 10 of our running club peeps and set out to run 5 miles.  Jeff and I were joined by Will and Amy in doing 3:1 intervals while everyone else did their own thing.  This was my first time doing intervals for a long distance (I did them when I was first getting back into running), and I really had no idea how it would go.  It was 33 degrees when we started out, and it definitely took me a while to warm up, but once we got moving, my running pace picked up.
I wore my Garmin to track the distance, but used a Gymboss for the intervals.  The Gymboss was super easy to set, and very simple to use.  I clipped to to the handle of my water bottle, which worked out great - we all could hear the beeps clearly.  We did the 5 miles in 1:08, and in looking back at my training history, I've been averaging 1:05 for a 5 mile run, so this wasn't too far off.  At this point, I'm more interested in being able to make it through a long, long run without wanting to quit at the midpoint, than I am in speed, so I'm OK with that pace.

I ran Monday morning, just doing a 2 mile loop in our neighborhood.  Jeff, Sam and I are going to run this morning, but we are waiting until the temps warm up - and by that I mean get at least close to freezing...although with the sharp north winds we're having, it will feel like the teens - BRRR!  We are going to do our long run this week on Friday morning, since we'll be traveling on Saturday.  Plans are to do 7 miles with the same 3:1 intervals - here's hoping that it goes well and my brain cooperates with running that far!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Gingerbread House Throwdown, Year Four

Once again, we had our annual Gingerbread House Throwdown, where Team Awesome (Max and I) fought tooth-and-nail against Team Hug It Out, Bitch (Sam and Jeff)...and while I'd say the end results were close, the houses were so different that there was no clear winner.  So that means that Max and I won, right? Either way, you can see the influence of Reddit in our creations.  By the way, Max and I were going to do a house under construction, but a key part of our design was pink cotton candy to use for insulation, and we could not find it anywhere (seriously, I swear I see it all over the place...except for when I actually NEED it), so we scrapped that idea for this year.

Here are our creations - first, Sam and Jeff:
The engineer in Sam was trying hard to figure out how to make the cuts necessary without compromising the structure of the house...while Jeff busied himself by cutting up black jelly beans.
Jeff carving a shape...
As soon as I saw this, I knew they were doing a cat - they kept denying it, and referred to the cut out shapes as "angel wings" but I knew better.
The big guns - er, drill - came out to attach the cat ears...
Aha!  I was right!  It's Tard, the grumpy cat from internet fame!
 Nailed it?

And now, here's the house Max and I made:
Max putting on the roof shingles.
 Since I took so many pictures of Jeff and Sam, I handed the camera to Jeff and asked him to get some shots of Max and I...this is what I saw when he handed the camera back to me.  Haha, Jeff...haha.
 
Teamwork in action...
...frosting cleanup?
Actually, the front of our house looks like Tard the Grumpy cat at this point!
Our finished house!  Complete with snow made out of marshmallow fluff and mini marshmallows, Christmas lights along the eaves, "lighted" windows (we used yellow decorating sugar) and we made our gumdrop trees tall by adding pretzel stick trunks.  Cute, right?
The Reddit-ish houses - Max and I noticed that the M&M's on the front of ours looks like an "upvote" arrow, and of course the Tard cat house. 

It's always fun to see how the houses turn out, plus the craziness that comes along with the decorating makes this tradition one that we all look forward to doing each year.  If you're curious, you can find the past throwdowns here - year one, year two, year three.

Merry Christmas!!!  For those of you who celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful day!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Mishmash - Gettin' Lean in 2013

The title of this post is a sneak peek of my goal for next year - while I've done a great job of losing weight (why yes, I'm still proud of that!), and a pretty decent job of maintaining that loss, I'd like to be a bit leaner - less flabby, if you will.  I still don't care what I weigh, and I have no intention of stepping on a scale, but I'd like to see my body firm up and look more toned.  So beginning in January, you'll see me posting a bit more on diet and exercise than I have been, and hopefully I'll also be posting some good results as well!

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Never fear, though - the Friday Mishmash will still be full of all sorts of random things.  And speaking of random, the random number generator has picked the five winners of Book Giveaway #1.  Without further ado, the following people will be receiving a copy of Weight Loss For People Who Feel Too Much:

Jane Higbie
Roxie (#1 - you DID win!)
Jennifer (#27)

Congratulations!  Please send me an email (40somethingsjourney@gmail.com) with your mailing info so I can give it to my contact.  If I don't hear from you within a week, I'll have to choose another winner.  The next book giveaway will be on January 1st.

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Last week my knitting guild had a holiday party/secret Santa swap.  We signed up for the swap, filled out a short questionnaire about our likes and dislikes, and were paired up with someone.  I had a great time coming up with goodies for my person (my mom very nicely helped out by sewing a project bag AND making up some cute knitting notecards), and while I tried to keep my expectations low, deep down I was really excited to see who had me.  I was not disappointed - the person who had me was Steph, who owns the knitting store in Navasota!  I laughed because I knew she had a great idea of my likes, seeing as I'd go into the store and touch all my favorite yarns and we'd discussed our favorite colors...little did I know she had a secret agenda with that!  Here's what she gave me:
Yarn!  Malabrigo Twist, in my favorite color, Indiecita.  Snowflake stitch markers, cute ornament, handmade soap, coffee mug with sea turtles on it (I'd listed Hawaii as something I liked), homemade toffee, Harry and David pears, and earbuds that she knitted a cover for - love how Steph combined my love of knitting with running like that!

Never thought I'd be someone who got so excited about yarn, but there you go.  I've been perusing patterns for this yarn on Ravelry for nearly a week now...can't quite decide what to make, but I know I'll love knitting with it!

Speaking of knitting, here's a cowl I made for my friend Terry:
Malabrigo Rasta, in Sunset.  Chunky and warm for her cold mornings/evenings on their boat!
Of course, hipster Paco had to model it.  

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Ooh, speaking of warm things, our master bedroom is not - in fact, it turns into an igloo when the weather gets cold, and our bed is freezing.  After years of trying flannel sheets, and going to bed wearing sweats, socks and multiple layers, I finally broke down and bought a heated mattress pad last week.  WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG???  This thing is amazing.  I crank it up to high a few minutes before we go to bed, and then?  It's like having one of those hospital-warmed blankets put on you - the entire bed is toasty.  It has dual controls, which works great for my cold/hot/cold spells throughout the night - I'm telling you, between this and the new ceiling fan with the remote control, I may just come up with the optimal room/bed temperature yet, and maybe, just maybe, sleep through the entire night!

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We've been having a lot fun with the kids home - our annual Gingerbread House Throwdown is happening later on today and I'll post pictures of that on Monday - hopefully Max and I will be the winners this year.  We have a plan, mwahahahaha!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wednesday Workout Update

Y'all.  Mother Nature has lost her mind.  Weather conditions for the last 10 days of running were:
  • December   9 - 72 degrees/soupy
  • December 13 - 32 degrees
  • December 15 - 67 degrees/rain
  • December 18 - 45 degrees
Normally I can move my hot weather running gear to the back of my closet by now, but I don't dare, what with this crazy weather.  I don't know if it's just Texas that seems to be dealing with erratic weather, or the entire country, but it sure keeps me guessing on a daily basis!

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I ran with Erica last Thursday for the first time since the half - we took it nice and easy and my legs felt great.  On Saturday, Jeff and I met up with several of our running club peeps for a short run - we ended up doing 4.5 miles.  Oh yeah, it rained.  Too bad I didn't check the radar beforehand, as I didn't wear a hat or visor, and that made visibility a little fuzzy...glasses plus raindrops are never good.
Yes, we matched.  The shirts were just begging to be worn!

The run was a good one - we took it easy (haha, are you sensing a theme here?) and ran one of our regular routes backward, which was a nice change. 

Yesterday, I did my half mile warm up, one mile fast, half mile cool down.  It went well, although I felt like it took me about an entire mile to get really warmed up - but that could have been related to the cold weather.  I meant to stop my Garmin after the half mile warm up and restart if for the speed mile, but I went right into it.  I was pushing myself, but holy moly, a mile is a long way for me to push!  My average pace for the mile and a half run was 12:16, so I'm pretty sure my speed mile was well under 12:00, but I'll have to wait until next week to do this again and get a specific starting point.

Sam is home and came running with Jeff and I yesterday - he stayed with us for the first half mile, then went on ahead.  Here's a couple of shots of Jeff and him finishing together:
 
 And here's me and Sam, dressed for cold weather:
...would you believe, it was 80 degrees later on in the day?  Texas weather.  Freaky.

Sam will be here for the next 10 days or so, and he's become quite the workout enthusiast, so I think I'll try to piggyback on that and work on adding in some cross-training to my exercise.  Sam even has a consultation scheduled tomorrow with my old trainer, Brad, to make sure that he's doing all of his lifting correctly...is it wrong that I hope Brad makes him do a couple of burpees while he's there?  Hah!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Book Giveaway - #1!

Offers of books to review seem to come in waves, and lately, surf's up.  However, after accepting a few and not finding time to read them (what can I say, I'd rather sit and knit than sit and read), I decided to, with the publicist's permission, simply post a brief description of the book, along with a giveaway.  I have several lined up, and they will be popping up on Tuesdays over the next month or so.  Here's the first one:
From internationally renowned intuitive counselor, life coach, motivational speaker, and author Colette Baron-Reid, a four-step, eight-week program for managing empathy overload - the hidden cause of unwanted weight gain.

Through her own personal experience and work with thousands of clients, Colette Baron-Reid understands the real reason many of us struggle to lose weight and keep it off. It isn't that we don't know what to eat or that we don't have enough willpower; it's that we are responding to feeling too much.

Weight Loss for People Who Feel Too Much focuses on the keys to weight loss for sensitive people: managing empathy, setting and maintaining healthy boundaries, eating to support well-being, and dealing with challenging situations that can trigger disordered eating. With a simple, practical program, Colette shows you how to release the extra pounds and create a new, healthy relationship with your body, your weight, and food.


I have FIVE copies of this book available for the giveaway!  Just leave me a comment saying you'd like to win one.  I'll have random.org draw the winners and announce them on Friday's post.  Open to U.S. and Canada residents - good luck!

Edit 12/21/12:  Comments are now closed as this giveaway has ended.

FCC alert:  I got nothing for this post, not even a book!  No opinions were posted.  The publisher will be fulfilling the giveaway.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sadness

It feels really trite to blog about normal things with the horror of what happened in Connecticut on Friday so fresh in everyone's minds.  The unfathomable tragedy is a parent's worst nightmare and my heart breaks for everyone affected.  I can't adequately express it any better.  My children - yes, they are grown but they'll always be my children - are coming home today for the holidays, and you better believe I'll be hugging them extra hard...and very grateful that I can do that.

I'll be back tomorrow with a regular post.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Mishmash

I have taken the laziest approach to Christmas decorating this year - I guess maybe because I was concentrating on another date in December (last Sunday's race), or that I've been busy knitting, but aside from putting up our little tree, no other decorations are out yet.  But now all my knitting is finished and in the mail, so tonight I'll be a decorating fool - and the house will be all nice and Christmas-y for when the boys come home on Monday.

I do have a few ornaments on the tree, though - four were gifts, and one that I made.  I think we can see a theme brought on by my new hobby this year:
I made this one
 From my friend Terry
This one and the stocking below came from my mom - she bought them from a man who knits while waiting around in airports as he travels.  P.S.  The hat fits Barbie...yes, I checked!
A tiny sock!  I don't have the courage to knit a regular-sized sock...super impressed with this!
From my secret Santa in the knitting guild - a knitter's emergency kit!
Yarn, tiny knitting needles, even a Christmas light stitch marker - so cute!

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Quite a while ago, I wrote about a young man in our running club who had taken on the challenge of running 1,000 miles in boots - specifically, soldier's boots, to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project.  We saw him before the race started on Sunday, and he said that with this half marathon, he would hit his goal.  And he did - congratulations, JP!  Here's a link to his blog if you want to read his thoughts on that last run.

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Speaking of running (oh WERE we??), the race pictures were posted.  And my gosh, were they ever horrible.  It wasn't just me - pretty much everyone looked bad.  And the ones where we played with the camera?  Oh no.  Remind me to never do that again.  Jeff and I were just about to take a GU when we came on a photographer, so we held up the packets and smiled.  She took five shots, and in each one, my expression progressively got goofier - think Jerry Lewis/Nutty Professor goofy.  Of course, Jeff seized the opportunity with my GU picture and Coach Will's look of death as he ran to the finish line:
I have no words...

And in these shots, I don't know why we were doing this, except that I think we were only about a mile into it and still full of energy:
Raise the roof?  Gig 'em?  Who knows.

So yeah.  If we ever get good official race pictures, I'll buy them.  But not these - unless we want a good laugh!

Have a great weekend!