"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places." Roald Dahl

Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding

I was up early this morning and decided to head to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast.  Hey! - its Friday, and I have no food in my house that I could have eaten for breakfast, but that's besides the point... And while I was in my car everyone on the radio was talking about the "royal wedding".  I totally forgot it was today!

It was actually really fun listening to it on the radio and now I am a little sad that I didn't think to DVR anything to watch later.  I got really into it.  I heard them say their vows in their really cool British accents and I want to see her dress!!  Two of the teachers were talking about it this morning, but of course, I have yet to see it!  I'm sure if I am still interested this afternoon I will be able to find some kind of rerun or news program that will be showing it...

Did anyone watch it on TV?  What do you think?  or... Do you think there is way too much hype over all of this?

...In case you were wondering...Dunkin Donuts was delicious!!  Good thing I warned you yesterday that I am still a work-in-progress with this whole health thing.  Its all about moderation, right?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

New Opportunities

This winter, as I was recovering from mono and trying to get myself back into shape I realized that being healthy and fit is really important to me.  I don't think I realized how much that was true until I didn't have it.  Last fall, when I trained for and ran my marathon I felt great.  Not just when I ran, but every day.  I was energetic (except for maybe the day of/after a long run), my stomach issues were gone, and I loved how fit my body felt.  Then, as we all know, I went straight downhill from there.  

I was frustrated with my own body.  Two mile runs became huge challenges, I felt shaky just standing up long enough to blow-dry my hair, and I slept more than I ever had.  At one point, before I knew what was wrong, I hit a low.  I was up visiting my family in Michigan and after sleeping ten hours and then going to a football game I felt horrible.  I was so frustrated with myself that I actually went in my sisters room, laid down and started crying.  I had no idea what was going on and I couldn't understand why I couldn't feel happy, fun and energetic and enjoy the time with my family. I felt feverish, shaky and tired.  Luckily, my mom and sisters came and found me and they lifted my spirits a lot.  The trip was fun and I'm so glad I went, but I was definitely not myself.  

The point of me explaining this is not to tell you how awful I felt.  But to tell you that I never want to feel like that again.  I am aware that getting mono was out of my control, but there are a lot of things that are in my control.  Since getting better, I have changed a few things.  

I now do my best to eat fresh fruits and veggies every day.  Living on my own, its tough to buy produce because I know it will go bad.  Crackers, granola bars, cereal, etc are so much easier to get because I know I will eat them before they go bad and if I don't...oh well, its not super expensive or smelly.  Now I am definitely still working on this, but I do my best to have fruit or veggies every single day (I even have little cans of V8 in case I slip-up).  I still have a long way to go, but I'm working on it.

I also workout daily now.  Before I worked out a lot, but it alternated days.  I would go really hard one day and then rest the next.  Now, I do a little bit each day to stay active.  Some days are rougher than others, but I make sure to get outside and do something every day, even if it is a 20 minute walk.

Finally, I drink a ton of water.  I think dehydration might have played a part in all of this, so I drink water like it is my job.  And yes, I pee like it is my job too.  Ask anyone, I use the restroom more often than my grandma.  But it's ok, I can deal with that.

Finally, the point to this post today...When I started trying to figure out how I could stay healthy and be fit I rediscovered my interest in nutrition and training (Dietetics was my original major for the first two years ofcollege).  I made the decision to study to become a personal trainer.  It just seemed to make sense and because I am a coach, the knowledge I gain from studying about training has hugely improved my skills.  I was using most of these things I learned about, but now I know the why behind it and I can understand which muscles are affected, which energy system, etc.  It also allowed me to learn more about health in general so I can apply it to myself.  The fact that I may be able to get a job doing this is just icing on the cake.

I started studying in mid-February and my goal was to take the test before May...Yesterday I took the test...And actually passed, making my deadline by 4 days. I am a Personal Trainer certified by ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine).  Wahooo!

I'm not sure where I'm going to go with it yet, but I'm looking into a few things and now that I know I have the credentials, I can get moving on it.  

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Easter

I had a wonderful day yesterday!  I loved the company, and had so much fun being outside, enjoying the nice weather, and of course, I thought about my family a bit and how much they mean to me.  Love you all.

Hope you had a wonderful Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Help Around the House

While my parents were here I got some major help with my house to-do list.  My dad put up the shelf/coat rack in my downstairs closet.  Yay!  I worked really hard...I watched.  :)  He did a great job though, and that marks one more thing off my list.  It also allows me to free up a bunch of space in my closet, because all of my coats can come downstairs.  And we all know, I love free space in the closet.  Because it means I get to fill it ;)

Here is the "house to do list" that I created in my New Years Resolution post.  I have gotten to cross a few things off the list, but I obviously have a bit to go.  At least it's only April...

  • Paint both upstairs bathrooms (I did one, does that count? yes, I no longer want to paint the other.)
  • Replace mirrors and light fixtures in the bathrooms (not planning on doing this anymore)
  • Get towels and bath mats (that actually match)
  • Hang a rod for coats in the front hall closet 
  • Weather strip the front door
  • Hang curtains in my bedroom
  • Get a nightstand for my room
  • Hang curtains on the living room window
  • Organize the garage
  • Put a backsplash up in the kitchen (maybe)
  • Look around for bargains on granite or nice kitchen counters and see if I can redo mine (dream)

In other news, my mom was also pretty helpful.  She hemmed two pairs of pants for me.  Yes, I am that girl that has had (and possibly been wearing...) pants with the hem falling out of them, since September.  Yikes.  I thought about taking them to a tailor so many times, but it just never happened.  She's really good at it!  And to give me a little credit, she was begging to do something for me.  

Thanks Mom and Dad!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Charleston, SC

My cousin is planning an anniversary trip for her and her husband and Charleston, SC is one of the places that they might visit.  She asked me to put together a list of things to do, places to go, etc, because I love Charleston!  I've only been there three times, but I am a huge fan.  The first time I went was for spring break in 2009, the second time was for the 2010 Cooper Bridge Run and the last was this past Labor Day weekend for Andrea and Corey's wedding.  If anyone else is interested in visiting Charleston, take a look.  (I am by no means an expert, these are just a few of the things I've done and seen that I've enjoyed).

In Charleston:

Old City Market - Located on Market Street in the downtown, its an open air market (covered from the sun) where local vendors sell their stuff.  You can find anything from touristy t-shirts to jewelry to sweetgrass baskets.  Its surrounded by restaurants on Market Street, so if you get hungry you can pop your head in any of the places for a bite to eat.

Battery Park - A huge park right on the coast is a must see.  The park itself is beautiful!

Rainbow Row - One of the coolest parts about Battery Park is that you can walk along the ocean for two sides of it, and on the other sides, you can see the huge mansions of "rainbow row".

There is a carriage ride that you can take as a tour around the historical downtown.  The tour guides tell you all about the buildings, who lives/lived there, the history, etc.  I have never taken the tour, but I've heard its fun, and I did take this picture of some unsuspecting tourists.

King Street - King Street is home to tons (and I mean tons) of shopping.  You can find everything from tiny boutiques and antique stores, to Gap, or Starbucks, right next to each other.  I normally do more window shopping than buying, but it is so fun to wander the streets.

Waterfront Park - This is another park on the coast that you get to via cobblestone streets.  There is a great view, lots of benches, and a fun fountain.


Folly Beach - Its about 15 minutes from downtown (south), but its gorgeous!  There are a ton of beachy restaurants to grab lunch or dinner and the beach houses are so fun to look at!

Sullivan's Island - Its also 15 minutes from downtown (northeast), and a little quieter than Folly Beach, but still gorgeous and very relaxing. It is a laid back, family friendly place.

Isle of the Palms - 12 miles from downtown, just past Sullivan's Island and very similar.  They even have a park on the beach.


Basil - A Thai restaurant right on Kings Street.  Its delicious!  I would go back in a heartbeat.

Poe's Tavern - A beachy place on Sullivan's Island with unique American food.  Try the fish tacos!  yum.

Other than that, I'm sure any restaurant you try will be good.  Charleston is known for their Shrimp 'n Grits, so make sure you try them while you're there. 

If you stay at a hotel in the city, you can take a rickshaw to get around.  They work solely on tips, and it is very fun to ride in the open air and get a mini-tour on your way to dinner.

Other things to do:
Ferry ride to Fort Sumter
Patriots Point
SC Aquarium
Magnolia Plantation
Middleton Place

I'm sure there is a whole lot more, I am by no means an expert.  I love the history of the city and how beautiful it is.  Emily, let me know where you decide to go!

Anyone have any other ideas for things to do in Charleston?  Or other fun cities in the US that they might want to visit for their anniversary trip?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Congrats Cath

This past weekend my sister, Catherine, officially accepted her spot in the University of Michigan School of Medicine!  Congrats!  I can't believe my little sister is so grown up - and so smart!  Class of 2015 - Wow!

She used to be so cute and angelic. haha ;)

But she is all grown up now, and still pretty cute.  And she's gonna be a doctor.

Congrats again, Cath!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Weekend with the 'Rents

My parents got here Thursday night and after Derek and I picked them up at the airport, we headed to grab some dinner.

Friday, I went to school while they slept in...until 10:00am!  Good for them!  After school we took a long walk, toured some model homes and enjoyed the lovely weather.

After that, we met Derek, Dusty, Jan, Cameron, and Mandy for dinner.  It was so much fun to have everyone all together!  Everyone got along great and we had a blast.  We stopped for coffee afterwards and finally headed home.  (My mom is still kicking herself that she didn't get any pictures.  I agree.  It was a great photo opportunity, and we all forgot.  Oh well.)

Saturday we ran some errands and then I headed to the wedding, while my parents headed to my cousin Carol's house.  This is where the story gets exciting.  Apparently, while I was at the wedding, there were tornado warnings and watches all over the Raleigh area.  At the wedding, we noticed it got really dark and windy at one point, but we were inside the big church, so I kind of felt like I was in a bubble and didn't even worry about it.  After the wedding we came outside and realized that there were tornados - for real!

I called my parents in a panic to make sure they were alright, and they were, but they almost weren't.  They had been watching the news and knew about the weather scare, but decided to head to my relatives' house anyway, thinking that they would "beat" the storm.  So they headed out.  Halfway there, Carol (the cousin, not my mom. I know it can get confusing) called my parents and said they should turn around, because a tornado was spotted in their area.  My parents decided to continue on (?!) and my dad told my mom to "look for funnel clouds".  My mom decided she would rather not see them, so she was not going to look for them, and she instructed my dad to just "drive faster."  Anyway, they made it safe and sound, and arrived at my relative's house but no one would answer the door - they were in the crawl space.  Needless to say, they were very lucky!  And they enjoyed a nice dinner by candle light.

The wedding was beautiful and we had a great time!  Karen and Guy both looked great, and the ceremony and reception were so nice!  Even though the weather for the wedding was so stormy, by the time we got to the reception, the skies were blue and the sun was shining.

On Sunday, we checked out the flea market, bought some pretty cool stuff (more on that later) and then stopped at Boylan Bridge Brewpub for lunch in downtown Raleigh.  They have a huge outdoor seating area and I do have to say, the food was really good!  The last time I went there, it wasn't great, but the outdoor seating is so nice that I didn't mind...they have made some changes, for the better.  It was delicious!!

It has a great view of the Raleigh skyline too.
We drove around Raleigh for a little bit and we were shocked by some of the damage that we saw from Saturday's storms.  I still can't believe how lucky we all are.  The storms were really bad, a lot of people lost homes and some people were seriously injured, and we all ended up just fine.  Very lucky and very thankful.

This was taken right in Moore Square.
After that we headed to do some shopping :)  yes, that was a common theme of the weekend.  And then back home.  Sunday night Derek came over, we grilled out, and played Monopoly deal.  Coincidentally, we each won one hand.

Monday, we headed to the coast to look at some real estate and to go for a walk on the beach. 

And today, my dad flew out early and after a long walk around the lake my mom and I went shopping!  (40% off EVERYTHING at Loft, for anyone who is interested!) We stopped to see Derek one last time and then headed to the airport.  :(

I was so happy that I got to spend some time with my parents.  Other than Saturday, the weather was gorgeous and we had a lot of fun.  I'm going to miss them a ton!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

patience: not my strongest trait

My parents will be here in exactly 5 hours, and I am so ready.  I haven't seen them since Christmas.  That's probably one of the longest stints I've gone without seeing them since I moved here.  I have everything ready for their arrival...house cleaned? check. pantry stocked? check.  guest bedroom ready? check.  Now I just have to wait for them to get here!

We have a nice relaxing weekend ahead of us and hopefully the weather will be nice and make it oh-so-tempting for them to get those "moving south for retirement plans" on fast forward.  Forecast this morning said partly sunny and an average in the mid-seventies.  I haven't checked recently, but I'm pretty certain that it will beat the weather in Chicago this weekend.

Wait, I just checked...now it is supposed to storm this weekend.  Come on Mother Nature - help me out here!

Ok, its official, breathe a sigh of relief, the high in Chicago is 55 this weekend, with a forecast of rain and wind, yikes!  :)  I feel better now.

I would say that the simple fact of me living here could lure them down, but as one of three daughters, I know that the two of them up north definitely outweigh me, so I have to use the weather to my advantage.

Anyway, I am so excited!  I'm sure I will have some stories and pictures coming soon.  And for now, I am anxiously awaiting their arrival.  (and maybe still working on making sure the house is clean.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Marshmallows Do Go Bad

Friday night Derek really wanted some rice krispy treats (the only sweets he eats!) so I went about making him some...

From the start the marshmallows didn't look right.  They were puffing up instead of melting down.  They weren't loosing their shape, they were just getting bigger.  I, of course, kept on cooking, thinking that they would eventually melt.  It didn't.  But, it did start to burn.  And caramelize.  And turn brown.  Gross.

So, just like that I was banned from the kitchen.  Derek discovered that I had used Country Crock instead of  margarine.  Which I did, but that's beside the point.  :)  Because I was banned from the kitchen, but Derek still had to have his rice krispy treats, he tried the next batch on his own, with me watching skeptically.

Look at that evil eye!

Unfortunately, this is what he came up with...slightly better than my attempt, but not great.

Yes we piled the new mush on top of the old mush because we were afraid to put it straight into the trash for fear it might burn a hole in the trash bag/can.

I was slightly happy, of course, because it was not my bad country crock move that had ruined the first batch, but we still had to figure it out.  Upon closer look at the marshmallow bags, we discovered that both bags had expired in February of 2011.  Bingo.

After a quick run to the store, we had new mallows, finished treats, and a great dessert.  I took Derek's word for it, because I am still doing my best to not eat sweets.   :(

Moral of the story:  The expiration date on a marshmallow bag really does mean something.  Bet you never knew that before.  

Friday, April 8, 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Grill & Bar

On the way home from the pool tonight Derek and I decided to grab some food, and because we often frequent the same places, we decided to try a new place.  And try a new place we did...

We decided upon a little sports bar not too far from home called Champion Bar.  When we got inside, we discovered that the real name was "Champions Bars + More".  According to the name on the menu, there is more than one champion and more than one bar?  It was a unique/different atmosphere, but we decided to try it out.  

The food was pretty good.  We came to two conclusions: 1 - that trying out new places is really fun, I think we laughed all through dinner, and 2 - that this "sports bar" was surely owned by foreigners. 

Let me tell you a little bit about our experience.  Upon walking in, you notice several things about the ambiance, one of them being the red, fancy curtains in the windows.  It was also the only sports bar I've ever been to with a two page long, extensive wine list.

There was old school music playing from the juke box in the corner.  When I say old school, I mean old school show tunes mixed in with some Beatles and other oldies.  The waitress was singing along to these tunes, making us think that it was her playlist, and we were treated to her lovely singing as she brought us our silverware, food, drinks, etc.

Derek insisted that the sanitation rating (hanging directly above/next to my head) was way too good for a sports bar.  

We went with a simple appetizer called the "Hat Trick", which was a sampler platter.  In hockey, a hat trick is 3 goals...the sample platter had 4 different foods in it.  After ordering, Derek went to tell the waitress our 3 selections of the 4, but she had already gone.  In this restaurant, a hat trick indicated four, not three.

The kicker, though, was the beaded decoration hanging directly above our heads from the home-made tiki-hut. 

This is a Turkish charm that is believed to ward off evil spirits.  How do I know that?  I have one hanging in my kitchen :).  My exchange student gave it to me last year before going back to Turkey.  There were three of these in the restaurant. 

The food was good, we had a great time, and I haven't laughed so hard in a while.  This place was big on Karaoke, they have contests every weekend and the winner gets their name on the wall.  I would say we'd go back...but we've now promised to try at least one new place a week.  Just to keep up the tradition.  

As we walked out, we realized we should have suspected something from the start.  

Champions Grill & Bar.  Not  to be confused with Bar & Grill.  

Monday, April 4, 2011

Girls Weekend in SC

I headed to South Carolina with Liz on Thursday night.  We were meeting up with Andrea and Sarah, two of our oldest and closest friends from high school.  It was an amazing weekend.  Andrea's sister, Katie, was there, along with her husband, Corey.  Corey was a great sport and hung out (put up) with all of the girls all weekend.  It was so nice to see them all.

On Thursday, Andrea had pizza waiting for us when we got there and we sat up talking most of the night.  Then on Friday we made our way to the beach in the convertible (Andrea's car was in the shop for the weekend, so we got to ride with the top down!).  The beach was freezing, and windy, but we did stay there, chatting for several hours.

After the beach, we all got a little pampered and had our nails done :).  

Friday night we made sure to celebrate Sarah's birthday (May 5), just in case we are not together before then to celebrate.

On Saturday we slept in, went for a group run, and then headed out on the boat.  It started off really chilly, but the sun came out and I for one, got a ton of sun.  I am feeling a little crispy today.  

This is some homeless girl we found sleeping on Sandy Island.
Just kidding...Katie was trying to stay warm in the wind.

Sarah and Liz

More good times at Sandy Island

Sarah and I.

Leaving Sandy Island to head back to the marina.

Liz and Andrea on the boat.


Oh, Hello!

Not a cloud in the sky, my oldest girlfriends, and some sun.  What more could you ask for?  It was a great weekend and I am going to miss those girls. Until next time...  :)