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!

Gotta Get To The Sea

Last night, Scott and I went with another couple to see Jack Johnson. The concert was awesome  – yeah, like you couldn’t tell from my Tweets! He played at least 25 songs including an surprising rendition of Steve Miller’s The Joker – very cool! He also played several songs from his new CD – To The Sea. Again – awesome! Obviously, the photo above was taken at the concert. JJ looks so big on screen, but we were really waaaay back on the lawn. Jack looked like a green spec most of the time. I didn’t mind that much though as long as I could hear him sing. What I did mind was all of the smoking – tobacco and other things. I probably had a pretty good contact buzz going considering I was engulfed in a fog for pretty much the whole concert. But there was really no way of getting away from it. The worst thing was that there were little kids there – from babies to 12-year olds. So glad I decided to leave Mr. C and Ms. M home, although Mr. C would have loved the concert. He likes JJ just like his mom!

What impresses me about Jack, aside from his awesome songwriting and voice, is that he can put on a great concert without a lot of fanfare – it’s just Jack and his music and that’s all I need.

After returning home at 1 AM, I was not about to get up super early to run. I ended up getting out the door around 9 AM this morning. It was a gorgeous morning – about 65 degrees and sunny! I ended up doing 6.5 miles with 8 min 20 second miles. Not bad for getting about 6 hours of sleep! Could have been the leftover contact buzz 🙂

As you can see, I was sporting my brand new Lucy running skirt! I was a little apprehensive about wearing a running skirt at first. When I first looked at it, it looked VERY short. But then when I held it up to my regular running shorts, it was the same length! Oh, how our minds can play tricks on us. I’m going to give a full review of the skirt on on Wednesday. However, I will say that this skirt is a keeper. I felt comfortable and very chic at the same time -always a plus when I’m running!

After the run, we had more guests over for swimming and bbq-ing for lunch. Then, it was on to Ravinia, and outdoor lawn concert with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. We were treated to a fantastic all-French night of music, including Ravel’s Boléro – amazing!!! If you think you don’t know this piece of work, listen to it on YouTube. Most people will recognize it immediately. It’s sounds a tad like Memories from Cats, although I’m sure Ravel wouldn’t appreciate that comparison.

Off to bed now, have a great night all.

My Boy Jack

(Photo Source)

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!

FroYo and Shakespeare

Yesterday morning started with a fantastic 6 1/2 mile run – about 8 min 20 sec miles. Then, it was on to another patriotic breakfast of Kashi with red raspberries, blueberries, and milk – holy fiber batman!

After the late breakfast, Scott and I took the kids in the pool until it was time for lunch. We needed to make it a quick lunch, in order to pack the car for a mid-day excursion to the mall and then onto Shakespeare in the Park.

Before heading to see the Bard, we stopped at my favorite local tart froyo place – Red Mango! I have been craving a tart frozen yogurt since May when I was in DC for a week. Tart yogurt, oh how I miss thee – sigh…

I had an original flavor – plain, with no toppings. Well, sort of. I planned ahead and brought two of my favorite toppings (from home) in a baggie – walnuts and dark chocolate chips. The California Walnut Board was not kidding when they suggested that walnuts are great for the summer – especially on my summer froyo! My husband said I was being cheap by bringing my own toppings – I think I’m being frugal. I saved $1 and it was sooo worth it!

Once we had our fill of shopping with the kids or rather, I had had my fill of Anthropologie (I just can’t seem to find anything these days) – we headed over to Scott’s parents’ house to pick up my father-in-law. We all headed to Shakespeare in the Park where we saw a fantastic rendition of As You Like It. It had most of the same verse/prose from the original play, but it had modern music throughout (ie. Jason Mraz, I’m Yours.) Very creative! The kids liked it too – Mr. C was captivated by the actors and Miss M kept telling me who all of the “bad guys” were.

Fast forward to this morning – I’m taking a personal day to stay home with the kids while Scott teaches a class. We’re taking the car in for an oil change – how exciting. Well, it’s better than sitting in my cubicle!

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!

Closing Down the Bar with Banoffee Pie

Bonjour everyone and Happy Bastille Day! If you’re not sure what Bastille Day is, it’s the French Independence Day. Celebrating Bastille Day in the US is easy – just do something French! At the very least, you could order a French café and listen to French music on Pandora 🙂

Last night after work, I met my sister-in-law and mother-in-law for dinner at a fabulous local winery – Cooper’s Hawk. Although located in the Midwest Cooper’s Hawk makes all of their wines and has designed their restaurant and tasting room to have the same look and feel of a traditional winery – dark colors, wood floors, and walls of wine…

They have sooo many wines to choose from but I went with my standard – a fruity chardonnay which was just lovely – very cool and crisp, which was perfect because I was sitting directly in the sun! For dinner, I had the penne in a lemon cream sauce with asparagus and chicken – plus I added a little spinach for more veggies…

‘Twas delicious! But with such a huge portion, there was no way I could finish it all! When dessert came around, I contemplated skipping it because I was fairly full. But I had checked out the menu ahead of time and noticed they had Banoffee pie on the menu – I’ve never had it and it sounded SO good! It is seriously the first time I have EVER seen it on a menu – anywhere! We decided on the pie and a peanut butter ice cream cookie. The pie, which is a mix of toffee and banana, was amazing! It really gives my current favorite pie – banana cream – a run for it’s money.

Overall, we spent 3 1/2 hours eating and chatting. Some would even say we closed down the restaurant, which is probably easier to do on a Tuesday night. What a perfect way to spend a summer evening. Can’t wait for the next girls night out!

Photo Breakfast

Fresh off of my 5.5 mile morning run, I decided to have a little fun and take a few pics of myself before work. I’m not really in to taking pictures of myself because I don’t think I’m very photogenic. Then again, we are our own worst critics. All of the photos were taken on my back deck overlooking our many gardens. The photos were also taken sans shampoo, as I don’t like to shampoo my hair everyday. My hair is dry enough and shampooing it everyday just makes it worse!

I am trying very hard not to wear black in the summer, but it just seems like when I do wear black or dark blue/brown, that’s when I take the best photos. I wonder if there’s such a thing as “summer black”, like summer white?

Before breakfast, I took a walk around the veggie garden to see if any critters had stolen more of the goods – no sign of activity, all of the peppers are there, safe and sound. And so I made a lovely bowl of Kashi Go Lean Crunch (1/2 cup) and plopped about 1 cup worth of strawberries and raspberries right on top. Perfect for a warm summer morning!

I just love how the red berries just pop out of the picture!

And yes, here is me in my natural habitat – eating. Damn – I wish I would have put our fancy chair cushions out, it would have look so much nicer – blah!

Notice how the light just happens to shine right on my cleavage. My husband obviously took this photo and apparently he had an agenda.

I’m off to work – have a great day everyone!

Vacation Dreaming…

I am back at work after 10 days of vacation. And, what am I doing? I am sitting at my desk thinking about when I’ll be able to take my next vacation!

On the first day of my vacation, I mentioned that there were several things I wanted to do, including:

  1. Spending time in our pool with a frozen drink – I did spend a LOT of time by the pool which was extremely refreshing. And, I did have one or two frozen drinks, but who’s really counting?
  2. Shop at my own leisurely pace – I did shop at my own pace, which is just heavenly when I’m used to carting around 2 impatient kids
  3. Trying a new restaurant sans kids – Scott and I did meet for lunch one day, although it was at Wildfire, a restaurant we’ve been to several times.
  4. Attending my first Hot Yoga class – Didn’t make it to hot yoga, but I did attend a fantastic hatha yoga class on Saturday!
  5. Going to Great America with the kids – We did do this and it was so much fun! Makes me want to go back to Disney, hence the vacation dreaming….
  6. Eating tart frozen yogurt – I’m bummed I didn’t get to do this. It’s on my list for this weekend though!
  7. See Letters to Juliet before it leaves the theatre – I didn’t get to the movies at all. Letters to Juliet has been out for a while so it was very hard to find an accommodating show time that was near my house. Ugh – guess I’ll wait for the video!

Now, I am really looking forward to the Healthy Living Summit – it’s just a few weeks away!

OK, back to work for me…

Vegetable Garden Conundrum

Today is the last day of my vacation – ugh! I have been away from work for 10 days (including weekends) and it felt sooo nice to be away from work! To celebrate my last day of vacation, I went for an awesome 6-mile run and then hopped in the pool with the kids!

After lunch, I enjoyed a little Conundrum wine with Scott and his parents on our deck. The white wine is a mix between Pinto Grigio and Chardonnay (I think!) – very nice on a summer afternoon. And how appropro, considering it says right on the bottle that the wine is perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon by the pool…

I really needed the wine to help me with what was in store later in the day. Before dinner, I headed back into our vegetable garden to set up a new fencing system. We’ve already had two of our baby green peppers “stolen” by bandit critters. No one takes my vegetables with out a fight! I set up a wrap-around flower bed fence and then added screening wire to keep out the pests. Hope this works – otherwise the guy at Home Depot said to try deer and rabbit repellant – that just doesn’t sound good.

One thing is for sure – whatever is eating our green bell peppers is staying away from our jalapeno peppers – if it’s too hot for you, stay out of my garden! At least they did not eat my first cucumber…

Yeah for fresh veggies picked straight from the garden! See you all tomorrow 🙂