Thursday, December 30, 2010

This Christmas

Was a very good Christmas! Sure, I might have dozed off for the quickest of moments during Midnight Mass, but at least I went to church on Christmas.

The hubs continued in his "spoil my wife" game plan and gave me the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Autofocus Lens for Christmas. My infatuation with all things Canon related continues to run deep.

I also have to give a little shout-out for B&H Photo Video for their amazing wish list feature. All I had to do was make a wish list and the hubs could see exactly what I wanted for my camera. It really made made things easier because the hubs had a variety of gear pieces listed and he didn't have to worry about if something was right for my camera, since the list was all pieces I put together.

Now I'm off to play with my new lens and figure her out.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

Have a very Merry Christmas, it's the best time of the year!

(The above image is a screen shot of our Christmas Card made by Shutterfly. They were free and came out fantastic!)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Is it Spring yet?

Because these indoor tennis games are really starting to worry me. I'm afraid Jax might knock over the china cabinet. I'm fearful he'll take out a stair railing. I'm nervous he'll run into a table.

Most importantly, I'm petrified he'll bump into Jewels and then she'll beat the crap out of him.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Vegas Baby!

After years of complaining about my husband going to the same spot every year and backing out of last year's trip to Sin City, I finally made it to Vegas. Sure, I huffed and I puffed about not wanting to go, but at soon as we rolled into BWI I was incredibly ready for vacation. Then, I lost both my boarding pass and driver's license for a whopping 95 seconds in the airport. Whew! That was almost a bad start to the trip!

Without further ado, here's a few pictures from the trip. I will be totally honest, I was completely blown away by the amount of Christmas decor in Vegas. For some strange reason I thought such a hedonistic place would be devoid of all references to the birth of Jesus Christ. Then again, prostitution is in the bible, so maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised to see a few Christmas trees here and there.

The hubs booked a private limo tour of the strip just for the two of us on our first night there. That had to have been the coolest way to get a lay of the land and see almost everything along the strip. The two bottles of Champagne didn't hurt either :)

I couldn't figure out if Starbucks or Louis Vuitton was more abundant in Vegas. It seemed you ran into either store every time you turned around!

The morning we left our home away from home, The Venetian, the Rock N Roll Las Vegas Marathon and Half Marathon had taken over the Strip. I had entertained thoughts of running the half, but I must confess that it was much more enjoyable to walk around and watch people run while drinking coffee at 8:30 in the morning rather than running. I don't know if Vegas and running that sort of distance would have agreed with me ;) There's always next time!

It was a fantastic trip and I honestly might go back again. Not next year (it's my turn to pick the destination!), but certainly again in the future sometime. We've got nothing but the rest of our lives to head on back there.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The big 3-0

No, not me silly. I still have over two years left before I cross that bridge! Rather, one of my friends turned 30 last week. Since I happen to work with her I got to bring in her something tasty at work.

She absolutely loves my pumpkin roll, red velvet cake, and peanut butter chocolate balls, which meant I wanted to make something grand for her 30th that combined her favorite things.

I present:

Red velvet cupcakes with peanut butter frosting and garnished with a marzipan pumpkin.

I really need to get a cupcake pan. Any recommendations for a good quality airtight carrier?

When the directions say you should wear some type of gloves while using the coloring it's probably best to follow the directions on that one.

Monday, December 6, 2010

2010 Holiday Card (50 Free Shutterfly Cards for Bloggers!)

Last month we met up with the insanely talented Mandi White and did a quick photo session in Ellicott City, MD. I've had Mandi added to my Google Reader since before I got married and she's a fan favorite on the Baltimore Knot/Nest boards. All for good reason, she's awesome and crazy Boston Terrier friendly.

Honestly, this picture encapsulates Jewels' complete and total boredom with me, her human, that I see every single day.

There are no words.

And we have so many more to pick from! It's crazy. I squealed like a small child when I opened the email from Mandi that shared our online gallery. I looked at a few pictures on my phone, but my little Droid screen didn't do them justice. To sum up, later that week I ran into one of the hubs' co-workers and he told me that the pictures were adorable. I gave him a confused look and he said, "well of course your husband showed them to everyone at work!"

Next, I have to pick a photo card design. I've used Shutterfly in the past for cards and then this year I heard about a promotion Shutterfly was offering for bloggers. If you have a blog and would like to partake in this promotion, click over here and follow the instructions.

Joy to 2010 from the Holiday Collection.

Shimmering Stars from the Christmas Card Collection.

Snow Flurries Cocoa from the Christmas Card Collection.

Glitter Glamour Joy from the Christmas Collection

Or perhaps I can just make photo calendars for the whole family for next year! Nothing like a daily dose of the hubs, pups, and I to get the morning started. :)

I can't make a decision! Do I pick a card design first or photo? There are too many fantastic options and combinations available.

Normally, I'm not one for taking something free in exchange for advertising it, but I feel very comfortable with this Shutterfly deal. For one, they're a reputable company. I've used them in the past for prints, photobooks and photo hosting and with nothing but good results. Two, the rules were plainly described to me in an email and I felt like I wasn't "selling my soul" for some free goods. Third, I've read comments on other blogs that posters did in fact receive their free cards. I wanted to wait a few days and make sure that others were receiving their cards before I went a head and posted about the giveaway. Finally, maybe you haven't heard about this deal and I would love it if someone else was able to partake in it before the December 10th deadline. Money doesn't grow on trees and the stamps will still set you back a pretty penny, so why not have free gorgeous cards?


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Turkey Coma

The hubs and I started a new tradition this Thanksgiving by running in a local Turkey Trot. I don't know if we'll do the same 5k next year, as neither one of us were fans of the course, but we're definitely up for running pre-turkey filled coma.

The course was on a high school cross country course and with the early morning rain it was quite slick in some parts. Yeah, clumsy me fell on a hill roughly 2.5 miles in. Thank goodness I was wearing tights!

I made the hubs stay after the race for the awards show because I wanted to see where I finished in my age group. Well, technically I finished 3rd in my AG, but the first two runners finished the race 1st and 2nd for women, so they automatically forfeited their AG finishes. I won $75 worth of gift cards to two restaurants.


The hubs was pretty ticked off with his time, so now he wants to run another 5k in December. Fine by me!

After the race we came home and started the turkey prep. Clearly, we needed a 20lb turkey to feed three people. No babies in my tummy! My brother-in-law joined us for dinner.

Yes, the hubs and his brother eat Thanksgiving dinner in their PJ's. It's weird and they made fun of my brother and me for dressing up last Thanksgiving.

Boys are so weird!

This isn't what we consider doing the dishes, I swear!

The rest of the weekend was spent in a flurry of shopping, decorating, playing video games, and napping. Oh, and there's still 5lbs of cranberry and apple dressing in my fridge... someone please come eat it!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Yuck! I joined a gym

I loathe the gym.

I hate the gym.

I despise the gym.

I, typically, would rather be tied to a chair and forced to watch re-runs of The View than go to the gym.

It's really weird, but for such an active person I really can't stand "the gym." I think it's because I'm spoiled. Ha! The hubs would have loved to been the one to say that line! I've never had to be a person who slaves away at the gym to stay in shape.

Anyway, I find most people at "the gym" to be completely pretentious buffoons. You have the women in their Juicy Couture-esque outfits, full makeup on, and more concerned with chit chat than working out. Then, there are the thugs... the huge guys who only seem concerned to either out grunt or out lift each other. There are a few others who don't fall into those two completely ridiculous groups, but in my mind they're lost to the crazies.

That sounds like just the place I'd like to pay to hang out! NOT!

But, a co-worker of mine finally convinced me to head to the office gym after work three weeks ago. It was a very small gym with just a few machines, a full mirrored wall, a water dispenser, and a really, really, really loud tv.

I kind of like it :)

Typically there's only a few people there and I can get in, do some cardio, do some arm workouts, and get out in just over an hour. It's really nice going with my co-worker because then she and I can walk back to the train station together. Since it's completely dark out at 6:15pm it's nice to have a partner in crime for the mile walk.

It looks like I'm forming a gym habit, which is a good thing. I have a bad tendency to forgo all forms of physical activity during the winter months and I hope to break that vicious cycle this year. Every year I say I'm going to take a yoga class, but that's yet to happen so I'm not going to hold my breath on that one.

Oh, the best part is the price. If I go with my co-worker it's absolutely FREE!!! If I want to go and she's not going I can do one of two things: borrow her card (free!) or finally get my own key which costs me a whopping $10.

That's it! The gym could cost only $10. That's barely more than two cups of joe at Starbucks and probably a lot better for my personal long-term well being.

Now I just need to figure out to use that dorky looking weight machine in the corner :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

And out of left field...

I know people think I'm slightly crazy for saying things like this, but I really think dogs are like children. You have no idea when they are going to batshitcrazy on a dime.

But, it makes for a highly entertaining few minutes when it happens.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lazy weekends...

are by far the best.

Now only if there was room for a 125lb red head on that little twin bed.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Marine Corps Marathon (The Race)

One last wave to my dad and I'm off.

Let's do this thing!

The start line.

That is A LOT of RUNNERS.

I started the race with B and Kristen and figured the first three miles would be completely jam packed. It was definitely crowded, but the crowds weren't moving nearly as slow as I anticipated they would be.

Here are my splits from my Garmin. Now, please keep in mind I forgot to turn off my auto-pause so my Garmin did not take into consideration the time I lost when I stopped to stretch, re-tie my shoes, and stretch some more.

Mile 1: 8:45. A bit fast, but I'll slow down. I'm just hyper at this point.

Mile 2: 8:50. Okay good, slowing down. Ditched my hoodie, but kept on my gloves.

Mile 3: 8:30. Crap, got faster again. There was a big downhill during this mile, so maybe that's what happened. No worries.

Mile 4: 8:16. Heidi, what the hell are you doing?!?!?! Slow the hell down! There was another down hill, but this is ridiculous!

Mile 5: 8:40. Okay, this mile is only slower because I WALKED through the water and Powerade stop.

Mile 6: 8:17. I am the dumbest smart person in the world. I am going to crash and burn and I'll be telling myself, "I told you so" the entire time.

Mile 7: 8:50. Again, only slower because I walked through the aid stations and ate some jelly beans. Also stopped to tie my shoe and stretch my calves.

Mile 8 8:44. Settling in, went up a hill, but still going way to fast. Water stop right at the end of the mile.

Mile 9: 8:45. Well at least I'm consistently stupid. Gotta have some credit for that!

Mile 10: 8:25. Getting dumber. The course split into two sections here and I had no idea which way to go. My family was supposed to be looking for me around 10.5 and I got worried that if I ran on the "wrong" section I'd lose them. I saw my dad's head (thank goodness he's tall!) and heard him yell, "holy crap! There she goes already!" They weren't ready for me yet! Still walked through the aid stations.

Mile 11: 8:55. Thank goodness. Still too fast, but getting better.

Mile 12: 8:31. Damnit, getting faster.

Mile 13: 8:51. Saw a water stop coming up and figured I should eat more jelly beans and switch my piece of gum. Dropped a fresh piece of gum :( Realized I probably just PRed my Half-Marathon time and that wasn't a good thing.

Mile 13.5. The pain begins.

Mile 14: 9:37. Slowed down and stretched, again. Pain is picking up steam, but I'm trying to be positive. I keep telling myself that I'm going to see my family again soon.

Mile 15: 9:20. This is still faster than I wanted to be, but I'm getting better.

Mile 16: 9:40. Was able to slow down.
Saw my family and it was fantastic! I heard my dad yell for me around a slight turn. I saw my brother kind of point (honestly he could have just been moving his arm to wave) but that made me look across the street and I saw the hubs. Instant life high. Since my brother was close enough to the course he handed me a pack of jelly beans. I had given my brother, dad, and hubs each a pack the night before and told them to hand them to me if I look like I needed food. My brother just figured that was his best chance to fork 'em over.

Mile 17: 10:18. Houston, we have a problem. I'm in pain and it's not going away. I think this is where I started running on the grass for a bit just to have a softer running surface. I again walked through the aid stations. I swear as the race progressed there seemed to be more distance between the Powerade and water stations. I would just walk from as soon as I got my Powerade and continue walking until I finished my water. I just can't run and drink at the same time!

Mile 18: 10:50 Yucky!!! Slowed down too much, stopped to stretch again. Legs are definitely heavy. Foot is definitely not happy.

Mile 19: 9:41. Getting better. Saw my co-worker and about tackled him. He didn't see me at all and I popped out behind another runner and definitely scared the daylights out of him.

Mile 20: 11:11. Running over 395 was miserable. I've avoided running on concrete as much as possible because it's such a hard surface. That bridge hurt. I realized I had two options. 1 keep running and risk either getting injured and/or finish the race absolutely miserable. Or, option 2, slow down, walk a bit, stretch more often, and finish the race happy. Slap hands, "hoo-rah" and in general have a good time. I went with Option 2.

Mile 21: 10:47. This is now the farthest I've ever run! There was an aid station right before the mile 22 marker.

Mile 22: 13:44. I had to stop and use a port-a-potty. I didn't want to stop completely so I would just walk around in a big circle around the port-a-potties! I guess that never caused my watch to stop. There is a funny dark red dot on my GPS tracker during this mile! Oh, dear mean lady spectator! When a runner stops to use the bathroom, please be kind and don't skip the runners walking around and dive into the next available bathroom. The port-a-potties are there for us first and then you!!!

Mile 23: 11:09. The wind through Crystal City is ridiculous! There was a tiny water stop, but the street was looking gross because so many red Powerade cups had blown onto the street that the street looked bloody. Yucky!

Mile 24: 10:48. I am officially very tired and on the verge of getting cranky.

Mile 25: 12:22. Walked for what seemed forever between the two aid stations. Honestly, don't care because walking felt nice at this point.

Mile 26 and .2: 11:03. Started off slow, but got stronger as the race progressed. Saw a woman pass out, but a Marine caught her before her head hit the ground. I had no idea where the finish line was so I kept looking for it. Now, I'm running back where the course began, so at least I've been here before. Running by Arlington Cemetery calmed me down and made me focus on the hill that I knew was coming. When that road started to incline and I heard a Marine yell, "you're not done until you take that hill!" that's when I knew I was close and I just let loose.
I heard my family yell for me, but I didn't see them. I was just looking ahead and focused on a group of people a head of me. I said, "you are going to pass every single one of them."

I did. I tore ass up that hill. I honestly don't think a single person passed me on that hill. I just wanted to be done running and all those painful training runs popped up in my head and I figured I could tough it out for a few minutes longer.

The end.

Haha, just kidding. After finishing I fell in with a mob of people. I think the first thing that was handed to me was a blanket. 10 seconds later I got freezing cold and said, "wow, these Marines are brilliant! They must have known all these runners would get cold once they stopped running." Yeah, my mental capabilities at this moment were slightly lacking.

Next, I got herded into a line to receive my finisher's medal. A very nice and courteous Marine told me to stand up straight and then he put my medal over my head, said congratulations, and shook my hand. That was awesome! I think I stared at my medal for a minute straight before I tried to figure out where to go next.

My next stop was to weakly walk to my left where another Marine put a bottle of Powerade in my hand told me that in continuing with the course, water was at the next table :)

Now, at this point there were so many people I had to stop moving, which was not the best idea. Once I stopped moving I wanted to just lay down and not get back up. So I started taking mini air steps while waiting in the next line. In that line I received a food bag from a Marine. Bagel, fruit cup, banana, wheat thins, and pineapple chips.

Here the mass of people got really annoying. Apparently people were trying to go into the Finish Festival and a bunch of people coming out decided to exit via the entrance. That caused a massive pedestrian traffic jam!!! After navigating through that mess I found a Verizon stand that was letting people make free phone calls. Of course the only cell phone number I know is the hubs so I called him. Like any rational person, he was over at family link up!

I wondered over there and found the hubs and B. At that point everything became a blur! We got my bag, found the rest of my family, said goodbye to B and headed home. The metro on the way home was packed, but we got out safe and sound.

I'll have one more post of crazy costumes people wore during the race and a few other pictures my dad took during the day.

I just wanted to end with the most moving and emotional thing I witnessed that day. There were so many runners who were running in memory of someone else. Many of them had a picture of their fallen loved one pinned to their back. It was beautiful. However, around mile three I heard runners cheering. As I continued forward I found out why. There were four Marines running in full gear. I mean the 60lb backpacks and everything. They were surrounding a hand-cart participant. As soon as I got closer I could see what all the runners were cheering about. The two marines flanking the back of the cart were each carrying a prosthetic leg. One of the Marines running up at the front of the cart was carrying a prosthetic arm. When I started to pass the cart I was able to see that the hand-cart participant was a wounded Marine. He had no legs and only one arm. He was willing himself forward with his comrades, his own arm, and a prosthetic arm.

Every single runner who was near this group cheered in some way shape or form. Many cheered, "USA! USA! USA!" Others yelled "SEMPER FI!" I went with "HOO-RAH!" Runners were patting these Marines on the back and one runner offered to carry a backpack. I honestly started to tear up.

Anytime I started to feel weak and thought about giving up I thought back to that moment very early in the race. If you witness something like that and your heart doesn't swell up with emotion for your fellow man, then you need to get yourself to a hospital because you're dead inside.