So Many Books, So Little Time

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book just for fun and even longer since I’ve read a book cover to cover. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading books, but rather I read them in shifts – a few pages in one book one night, then a few pages in another book the next. I have so many partially read books, it’s crazy! And the craziest thing of all is that our house has a small library in it – no joke! Because I used to work for a company that promoted books, I have a ton of self-help books, although they are becoming quite dated. And, since I’ve been blogging, I receive at least one book a month in the mail to review. Most of the time, not all the time, I’m able to read through the book – not cover to cover but more than skimming – to write a decent review. However, I still don’t consider reading these books as leisure reading – most of the time, it’s work.

A few months ago, I noticed a new book in my office’s lunchroom library (where people bring books they don’t want) – Eat, Pray, Love. Of course I know this book has been out for years and will soon be coming out as a movie. My brother and sister-in-law actually gave me the hardcover book when it first came out. I really wanted to read it, but at the time, I had absolutely no time to read. I ended up taking the book back to the store. Even now, I have very little time to read. But when I saw the book in the lunchroom, I felt it was fate telling me that it was time to take a step back and make time to read it.

I brought the book home and it has literally been sitting on my bookshelf in my room for MONTHS. Aside from having no extra time to read, I’m a little nervous about reading the book. I know the premise of the book – it’s hard not to when it’s been out for so long and now it’s been turned into a movie. I’m nervous that it will reflect a lot of what is happening in my own life – fed up with my job, wanting to travel and see things, and wanting more out of life.

I’m convinced that if I read this book, it will make me either a) very depressed or b) want to quit my job and move to Europe with Scott and the kids 🙂

Well, it’s time to see how this story will begin and where it will lead.

I’m off to read….

Can you run and drink coffee at the same time?

Today was – in one word – disappointing. For the last 6 months (more like 4 years) I’ve been working my tail off to gain more responsibility and more seniority at work. Well, today, I officially received a ton more responsibility, but zero seniority. I’d love to wallow right now in a huge bowl of self-pity, but I have so much work to do that I can’t.

Ok, let’s move on….to coffee!

I did read some good news today – that coffee can enhance your workout. Woo hoo – whoever said running and java do not mix was just plain crazy! Drinking a moderate amount of caffeine can help fend off muscle fatigue and keep you focused an energized without making you jittery. Researchers from the University of Auckland in New Zealand recommend drinking 0.5 to 1.4 milligrams per pound of body weight to receive a clear benefit without all the jitters. For a 130 lb woman, this would be about an 8 oz cup of coffee – just enough! BTW – I think that’s a “short” in Starbuck’s terms!

Garden update: So far, I’ve harvested 3 cucumbers, 3 tomatoes, a handful of snap peas, basil, and a boat load of jalapenos. Seriously, jalapenos must be the easiest things to grow – they’re like weeds!! Please send recipes that include jalapenos or I will be forced to take them to work and tell everyone they are abnormally small green peppers. Just kidding of course – kind of 🙂

Like many of you, I’m attending the Healthy Living Summit in a few weeks. To say I’m excited is an understatement! I’d love to arrange a Saturday night dinner – so if you’re attending HLS and are interested, let me know!

I’m outta here – night all!

My Boy Jack

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I am going to see one of my favorite artists perform in concert tonight – Jack Johnson!  I was first introduced to his music in 1995 through a very good friend who I met while working at Disney World. Now, many years and many songs later, my husband and my kids now love JJ, almost as much as I do. JJ, or at least his music, actually reminds me of a young Van Morrison and/or James Taylor. And of course, JT is a fave of mine as well.

Tonight, Scott and I are going with another couple to see JJ for the first time. We’re hoping the rain holds out. But rain or shine, I will not be kept from seeing Jack live!

Watch for pics from me on Twitter @RunWithCake!

Stress and the Carb Fix

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Stress – I said it before and I’ll say it again…stress makes me throw all of my good eating habits out the window. Work has been stressful lately – I have a zillion projects that need to be completed in the next 3-4 months. And, as of now, I have very few staff resources to help me.

Not fun. As a result of the stress – particularly today’s stress – I tend to eat bad. For example, take a look at what I ate today:

  • 1 peach and a few bites of my daughter’s Trader Joe’s waffle
  • 1 Starbucks Mocha Frap
  • 1 1/2 cups pasta with about 1/4 cup sauce
  • 1 bag of vending machine pretzels
  • 2 small cookies and 2 mini snickers
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 peanut butter sandwich
  • A load of BBQ potato chips

I am probably under my suggested calorie intake for the day, but still – it was a total carb-loading day. And, I had a total of 2 fruits/veggies – ugh! It doesn’t help that my husband is working a ton this week so I’m playing mostly single mom – taking Mr. C and Ms. M back and forth to daycare and t-ball.

I shouldn’t complain though. I still have my health…sniff. Plus, we’re headed to see Jack Johnson this weekend – can’t wait!!! I have wanted to see JJ for YEARS! I’ve said on more than one occasion that I want to see JJ and Jimmy Buffet before I die. After Saturday – I’ll have just one more on my bucket list of concerts to attend! Hmmm…maybe the mellow sounds of Jack Johnson will help me relax a little. I’ll keep you posted 🙂

Cool and Classy

Morning everyone! I went to another Farmer’s Market yesterday. This time, it was a market located at a Chicago train station. Overall, I was fairly underwhelmed by the market – or “French Farmer’s Market” as they were calling it. There were probably 20 stands at the most, plus no cheese stand. Still, it was fun to take the kids there for the first time. I had explained to Mr. C that we were going to a Farmer’s Market. When we arrived he said, “Mommy, this is a strange looking farm.” Yeah, and not a very good one at that!

I ended up buying 4 tomatoes for the salsa we made for our BBQ. It was $3 for 4 medium tomatoes – not bad. There just happened to be a Starbucks at the train station too…notice how big my smile is 😉

Although I was disappointed by the market, I was once again impressed by the freshness of the flowers. And, that they were giving away free ones! Ok, only to kids – but that means I snagged two flowers!

How funny is that sign!?

After the market, we got the house ready for our afternoon/evening guests, then hopped into the pool for the rest of the day. Dinner included pasta salad (healthy), homemade salsa with tortilla chips (healthy), corn on the cob (healthy), and Polish sausage (not so healthy). Well, 3 out of 4 isn’t bad! Oh yeah, and before dinner even started – we enjoyed some awesome appetizers – cheese and homemade sangria…

Classy and cool – and that’s all she wrote!

Wavepools, Sunburns, and Migraines, Oh My!

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Yesterday, I spent most of the day at Six Flags Great America in its water park. Since I’m technically on vacation, I tried to make this excursion into a relaxing day away from home.

When you really think about it, there’s practically no way to relax at a water park when you have a 2 and 5 year old in tow. I spent most of my time chasing after my little one, walking up and own countless flights of stairs to the slides, and fighting back the waves. For five hours, I was nearly completely drenched from a combination of the wave pool/slides and the intermittent sun showers. Thank goodness it was so HOT, otherwise I would have been freezing!! Yet, somehow seeing the kids laughing and playing, and hearing them shout over and over “look at me mommy” made it all worth it.

After a very long day, I went to bed with a migraine then woke up with a nasty sunburn. Yes, I did apply 30 sunblock, but I omitted to apply enough on my back – not a good move. I also felt slightly hungover (sans alcohol) and as if I had run a 1/2 marathon. I was so sore I actually took tylenol and had to cut my run down to 4 miles – that was all I could do! Plus, it was at least 80 degrees when I went out for my run. And, as my former running coach (who happened to coach the national women’s running team in the 70s) used to say, heat is a sprinter’s best friend and a distance runner’s worst enemy. He wasn’t joking either!

Sunburn + Morning heat + Sore muscles = Lousy run.

Even after getting ready for the day and taking the kids to daycare, I still felt “off” and even a little sick. I was hoping a little retail therapy at the Gap and Banana Republic would help, but I could only walk around for about an hour before I had to head back home – now that’s telling you something! I ended up getting a quick burst of energy later in the afternoon so I was off for a 40 minute walk. And along the way, I picked more mulberries! I really have to find an easy recipe for raspberry/mulberry jam – any suggestions?? I have about 1 1/2 cups and I don’t want them to go to waste!

For all of you who are counting – only 3 more vacation days left! I better get movin’ if I want do maximize my time off!

A Berry Good Day

Back in May, when Scott and I planted our first vegetable garden, we had also talked about planting raspberry bushes. Unlike Scott, who grew up picking wild raspberries in his backyard, I was deprived of this simple joy. As an adult, I had always wanted some sort of berry or fruit plant/tree for the simple pleasure of being able to pick ripe fruit without having to spend any money. After planting our garden, we decided to hold off planting the berry bushes – we had heard that once you plant them they are hard to control, plus they have pickers!

Well a few days ago, I saw an older couple stop to pick berries off of a tree just beyond our property line. I had always known that there were berry trees in the area but assumed they were poisonous – too many castaway movies where people would get sick from eating bad tropical fruit! After talking to the couple, I learned that the berries were actually mulberries (ie, here we go round the mulberry bush…) and they had been eating them for YEARS! Come to find out, that our whole street, which borders a golf course, is loaded with mulberry trees just ripe for the picking! OK, and it gets even better than that. A few days later, my brother-in-law, who is quite the outdoorsman, was walking along the same street bordering the golf course and noticed we had several wild raspberry bushes. He picked a few and we ate them just to see if they were good. OMG, they tasted just like the black raspberries from the store!

I can’t believe that I’ve lived here for almost 9 years and have never once attempted to eat our local berries. And the best part is that with so many berry bushes just steps from our front door, we won’t need to plant any ourselves!

BTW – those are the first snap peas picked from my garden – woo hoo!

No Sense of Time

Gland Update

As some of you know, I headed out of work early yesterday because I was sick. I haven’t taken “sick” time from work in over 4 months so I was about due. My gland/tonsil was really swollen and hurt like crazy. I’m hoping the antibiotic and a little Tylenol will take care of it quickly. I hate being sick – it just doesn’t fit into my schedule.

Big Day!!

Today is the big day – I’m getting the new iPhone!!! Scott ran out the door a little after 7 AM so that he could wait in line for both my phone (already ordered) and his phone (on reserve but no guarantee). After 2.5 hours, he is still waiting in line! I’m hoping he meets me for lunch and presents my new baby, fully charged and ready to go!

No Time To Spare

Because I’m getting the new phone today, Scott needed to take my old one with him, which left me phoneless taking the kids to school and then driving to work. When I got into the car, I realized that the stereo lights were not working which meant that I could not see the time. So, no phone time, no car stereo time, and no watch. I had to rely on talk radio to update me with the time – which is rather frustrating since they only say it once every 20 minutes. My kingdom for a clock, my kingdom for a clock! Basically, I had so sense of time until I got to work. Of course, I was 10 minutes late.

Anyway, aside from the iPhone, I also have a big day and weekend ahead. Today I have a meeting with our senior VP about my new role at work -oooh, aren’t you excited to hear the details? Well, that makes two of us. Because I still don’t know what the hell is going on with my role! Then tomorrow, we head to Michigan again for a big family reunion. My younger brother is coming in from San Diego with his whole family -can’t wait! I know I just saw my little bro in October but the cousins haven’t been together in a year!

OK, must get back to work.

Runners: Shoes That Pamper Your Feet

I woke up with a killer headache this morning. It was so bad that I did not go for a run. Between work stress (taking on much more responsibility) and my house falling apart, I knew it was bound to catch up with me. My house is not literally falling apart, it’s just that with a near 40-year old house, there’s a ton of work to be done  – and the work just never ends!

Despite all of my complaining, I’ve actually had a great couple of weeks in regard to receiving surprises in the mail. I’d love to cover all of these goodies in one post, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Last week, I received a pair of OKA b sandals (the Shoes That Love You) in the mail to try out. They were the thong sandals, the kind that go between your toe – not my first choice, but I gave them a try. OKA b sandals are made with Microplast™ material and are waterproof, antibacterial, and have a seamless design. They also have the company’s signature reflexology massage beads and ergonomic footbeds built right in.

So what did I think? Marvelous! As a runner, I’m always looking for a way to pamper my feet a little bit more and I think I’ve found the trick. Seriously, I put on these sandals after a LONG day at work and I felt like my feet were being massaged as I walked.  I’ve worn them every day since (not all day long, but at least part of the day) because I like the beads so much, he he!

The only thing I did not like about these shoes is that they were thong sandals. Some people love thong sandals but I’m not a huge fan. I’ve yet to find a pair that look good on my feet and feel good between my toes. I took several photos of myself actually wearing the sandals but opted not to post them – believe me, you don’t want to see my feet in thongs!!! I’d love to try the OKA b slides – I think they’d much more suit my style.

And speaking of style, they have so many styles and colors online – one for every outfit I’m sure – day or night! And, what would a cute sandal be without a cute name? They all have such trendy and chic names like Claire, Lucy, Madison, and Malia. I don’t suppose they have one named Jennifer??? I would definitely buy that one!

Overall, I can see these becoming very popular in day spas, high end resort spas, and yoga studios. I can also see these being the new croc shoe, but they are waaaay more stylish than crocs. If you are a runner or know a runner who needs a little pampering, give these shoes a try, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

I wanna be your watermelon….

Yes, I totally meant that to be a random Poi Dog Pondering reference. I used to be really good at obscure 80’s movies references – a la Breakfast Club, etc, but my husband has absolutely no clue when it comes to 80’s movies so my retro humor is lost on him.

But seriously, I have been eating watermelon ALL DAY! I know that too much of anything is usually not a good thing, but can you really have too much watermelon? It must be the hot, hot, hot weather that’s making me crave cool things. Aside from watermelon, I had an awesome spinach, feta, and chicken salad today, plus loads of ice water.

Most of my “day off” was spent outside. I did everything from cutting down evergreen branches, to weeding my huge garden, to going to the park with Mr. C and Ms. M. Oh, and by the way, this was all after a 5-mile run this morning. Between the run and  working outside in the hot weather, I must have burned like a thousand calories!

Ok, signing off for the night. I’ve got yoga at 8AM followed by a much-needed lunch with my friend Anne B. Can’t wait!