Good Riddance, 2013

2013 has not been the best year. The year started with the sudden death of my grandmother, who I was very close to (my mom and I lived with my grandparents until I was 8). It also included my husband having numerous medical issues, numerous bad luck type expenses (major car issues, part of my bike being stolen, etc.), and me having to give up on my goal of earning a second master’s degree. I’m sure I’m actually forgetting bad stuff in that list, to be honest. The year also had highlights, though, so I thought I’d go through a few of them to remind myself that while it was probably one of my worst years, if I look at the big picture rather than focus on these small problems, the year has been pretty good!


  • I finished my first quilt! My grandmother taught me how to sew and got me into quilting. Normally I just quilt small things (table runners, purses, etc.) but she bought me the materials to make my own quilt and after I found out that she had cancer (October 2012) I made a goal to finish it before she passed away (don’t worry, I did, and she saw it over skype). In 2014 I plan to finish some of the quilts she had been working on.

The awesome quilt. It had some issues with the binding, but whatever, it was my first quilt.

  • I returned to graduate school! I had taken off fall semester of 2012 for my husband’s medical issues and was able to return for both semesters in 2013. Leaving once and returning gives me hope that I will return and finish eventually!


River on her first day home, being a pit-ball.


  • Every year my roommate and I try to throw an epic fancy cheese and wine party. We had it this year for her birthday and as an added bonus made it a masquerade!

Selfie in my sweet masquerade mask.

  • Ran my first 5k! You can read all about it on my race report!


  • I replaced my running shoes for the first time.

  • Played hookie from an academic conference to go see Sue (and other, lesser dinosaurs and I suppose a few other things) at the Chicago Field Museum.

  • Ran my 2nd 5K and almost broke 25 minutes (I have done it a few times in training, but never officially in a race).

Pre-race selfie.

  • Won an outstanding teaching assistant award for the political science department. Mostly because I had the patience to not yell at kids who didn’t know that Obama is not a dictator (regardless of your opinion on him, he still has to deal with Congress, so he is not factually a dictator). Hopefully my roommate wins outstanding independent instructor award this year for the patience she exhibited dealing with kids who were not only ignorant but argumentative about it (like, yelling at her for displaying statistics from reputable sources because they just “can’t be true” levels of ignorant and argumentative, and that is just the tip of the iceberg).


  • Independently taught my first upper-level statistics course. It was intense to teach 2 hours a day for 4 weeks but I loved it!

Bathroom mirror selfie before my first day of teaching.

  • Belle and River were introduced (because Kris came to visit in Indiana). Belle did get injured while there due to having a panic attack, but it had a silver lining: River became nicer to her because she was trying to protect her, and I bonded with my students after explaining to them that my poor doggie bled all over their exams.

Belle and River slept on this bed while Kris and I slept on an air mattress.

My roomie observed that this photo shows their true nature: Bellie begging for belly rubs and River slowing encroaching on my space.

Injured Bellie 😦

  • Two friends of mine got married and Kris was able to attend the (awesomely geeky) wedding with me.

Guests were asked to wear their Harry Potter house colors. We represented Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw!

I won the Tardis cookie jar centerpiece (as I said, awesomely geeky) and was gifted the Corgi for watching their furbabies during bachelor/bacherlorette festivities.


  • My roommate and I moved into a nice apartment that did not have awful maintenance men who pretend to fix your AC (ours was broken in the old place for 11 months, including months where it was so hot the dog starting throwing up).
  • Kris and I got bicycles!

Don’t worry, I bought a better lock!

  • Ran my first half marathon and beat my goal of finishing in under 2 hours! I don’t actually have any really good pictures of this, as the pro photographer didn’t catch me. There is a picture of me crossing on the post, though.
  • Finally took our delayed honeymoon to New York, where we went from loving to hating Brooklyn in the course of an afternoon and saw Wicked (which was amazing). But seriously, Brooklyn, we could only take so much hipster and you guys were apparently too cool to sell us overpriced craft beers (we were ignored in a bar).

On the Brooklyn Bridge.

They seriously gave us these cups for wine. And filled them with about 1 inch of wine.


  • I turned 24. Not the most exciting of ages. Really I just want to be 25 so I can save on car insurance, though I will miss saying that I am in my “early 20s.” At least I got a nice present – a GPS watch!

  • Chopped my hair off! It is so much nicer for running to be able to tuck it into a hat like a dude and wash and dry it in minutes (I can seriously blow dry my hair in under 2 minutes). I also get tons of compliments on it!

  • Kris and I went to another wedding. I mostly am posting these pictures from weddings because Kris and I are adorable. 
  • With my birthday money, I accessorizedmy bike.


  • Celebrated our one year wedding anniversary!

Cake from Kris’s family.


  • Quit the horrible second Master’s program (this was both good and bad).
  • Acquired my first running injury by falling down a hill (read:cliff) while trail running.


  • Ran my second half marathon. Again, it was in the rain and quite unpleasant. At least I didn’t do worse the second time around!

I look so thrilled to be there.


  • Made a mini-Thanksgiving for roomie/BFF and I.

  • Road-tripped to South Carolina for Thanksgiving after being stuck in the Cleveland Airport for hours.

Belle hating her harness.

Evidence of civilization.

  • Forced Kris to do his first 5K – a turkey trot – with me in record low temperatures for the area.


  • Got to come home to Kris and Belle to celebrate the holidays and got tons of awesome Christmas presents!

  • Kris and I plan to celebrate the new year by hanging out at home with Belle (if there are fireworks we don’t want her to panic) drinking wine and eating butternut squash and black bean enchiladas rather than the traditional pork and sauerkraut (that is the tradition in this area). I don’t really hate sauerkraut THAT much but my family always picks on me about it so I basically don’t eat it out of spite. Amusingly, I told my mom I couldn’t make it because I don’t have a crockpot and then I wound up getting a crockpot from her for Christmas.

See, when you look at it that way, the year doesn’t seem half bad! Not only did I run my first race, but I ran 5 races and was able to maintain my weight loss (well, within a reasonable range of about +/- 5 lbs) all year. Here is to hoping that 2014 is even better. Happy New Year everyone!


Christmas: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I really meant to have a post about Christmas earlier (like, on Christmas day), but let’s just start by saying that my Christmas this year was um… interesting. I basically felt like doing nothing for about 2 days afterwards and just really started being productive yesterday. I think at some point in there I cleaned my kitchen? I did try to take down the decorations, but they just sort of laid under my coffee table for awhile (most are properly put away now!).

Let’s start with the really bad new first, so that the post gets happier as it moves on: on Christmas day, right before we were going to eat lunch, my husband had a completely random seizure. He has had some medical issues in the past that can cause seizures, but he has never had one before so we really weren’t expecting it and so it was terrifying and confusing at the time. Luckily he is already a patient at a great neuro practice nearby so I am hopeful that they will be able to figure out what is going on.

In general, he is fine – he left the hospital after only 2 hours with a diagnosis of a sinus infection – but the whole incident has really thrown a wrench in all of our plans. In Pennsylvania, if you have a seizure, you cannot drive for 6 months, meaning that I have to shift my plans to finish up my PhD out in Indiana a bit so that I can stay here with him. I’m still trying to figure some details out but things are starting to fall into place and get back to normal. I must say I am surprised at how weird it is to have to drive him around – the first 3 years of our relationship he did not have a license so I thought it would be like riding a bicycle! Then again, this is me, and my return to bicycling was clumsy, so I am fairly certain I am going to forget to pick him up from work at least once. Sorry honey.

I was also surprised at how hard this incident hit me in terms of my weight loss maintenance. Typically, structure helps me to deal with stressful situations and I loosen up on my diet when trying to relax. For example, I somehow managed to stick with calorie counting pretty closely during Kris’s previous medical adventures, while taking exams that would determine whether I earned my master’s degree or not, and even at funerals!

I don’t think I’ve actually gained any significant weight, but this Christmas was the most off-track I have ever been. It started when it was snowy in the days leading up to Christmas – I was really down on myself about not being able to run and having trouble eating the low amount of calories that resting/doing super boring home workouts permits. I then decided that I would let up on calorie counting at my parents’ for Christmas because I was already slipping and it would be difficult to do there and I could get right back on track when I got home. I think I wasn’t TOO bad about what I ate there in general but to me not having the exact amount of calories quantified always makes me feel like I’m probably eating enough to gain 10 lbs a day.

Then, I went home on Christmas day completely stressed out and accompanied by 2 gallon bags full of homemade chex mix and no less than 4 dozen Christmas cookies.  Once again, reflecting on what I’ve eaten today in comparison to the days I wasn’t counting here shows me it wasn’t THAT bad, and I have been sticking with running the whole time, but I still felt miserable and off. I think part of it is that there are additional personal worries for me compared to past problems – I was really looking forward to the class I was going to teach, and this would have been my last semester with not only many of my friends I have made at school, but also with my roommate/best friend and her dog. I’m starting to calm down about all of that, though, which is helping.

The silver lining to all of this is that I have been reminded of what wonderful family, friends, and mentors I have. Everyone around me has been 100% supportive and helpful. It was especially nice to be reminded that my family is always there for me. Last time Kris had medical problems and I had to take time off from school they eventually came around but initially were far less understanding and supportive. I am also glad that I get to spend some extra time with Kris and Belle, who I would otherwise be missing terribly pretty soon (though I will probably have to spend a different period of time away from them instead). I have really had a lot of time to think about my priorities, and while spending time with them has always been high on the theoretical list, it certainly has renewed importance.

Apologies that the first half of this post was so depressing and self-reflective. I just felt weird not talking about it at all on the blog, especially as it is directly impacting my attempts to maintain my weight loss. If I’d had a perfectly normal Christmas, I’d probably be making jokes about how I have to burn off the few extra calories I consumed eating cookies, not reflecting on the reasons I didn’t count calories for about 10 days and how that made me feel  (it really felt much longer – to say only 10 days makes it sound like it wasn’t even that big of a deal!). Now on to the good things!

  • My mom and I made a bunch of wonderful Christmas cookies and homemade chex mix! Some were really messed up (not the chex mix, it was perfect, as always) but we still had fun. Our turtles, for example, failed because we cooked the condensed milk on high instead of low (we decided to call them sea monsters). My mom nearly had a panic attack over making sugar cookies. And my grandpa bought the wrong kind of Reese cups for the peanut butter cookies so they looked like aliens.

I actually have photographic evidence of this.

  • Belle actually opened her own Christmas presents! She never does this, which is weird considering that she is pretty destructive. She got some treats, a stuffed alien, and a stuffed horse head with red eyes that we have dubbed “demon horse.” We forgot demon horse there so there are no pictures. Here, we bought her a stuffed duck that she ignores. Go figure.

Opening presents!


She also got to BE a present!

  • Presents! Most of the presents I got for people went over well. Even my biggest “flops” weren’t that bad – I made Kris some custom etched beer glasses and they didn’t work so well, but he liked the gesture and I will be able to make more in the future when I am more practiced. I also bought “texting” gloves for my dad that don’t work for texting, but are still nice gloves. Now I just have to find gloves that are able to text, be warm and durable enough for someone who works outdoors in the winter a lot, and fit his aesthetic (read: camo). I’m sure I’ll have fun with that!
  • More presents! Kris and I also got a number of exciting presents! He did really well buying me a new flipbelt to carry my stuff while I run (it works PERFECTLY, I highly recommend. He also got me a couple of sweaters and blouses (he really prides himself on being able to find clothes for me, and because he does a good job, I find it adorable). We got a number of things for the kitchen that I will be able to make exciting stuff with: a wine rack, a crockpot, a food processor, and a KITCHENAID!!! EEE!!! (It is that exciting that it can make me go EEE in a mostly depressing post like this). We also got some new bedding (my parents got us a down comforter and we bought ourselves new stuff to go with it).

The new mixer versus our old one that was broken and only went one speed.


The wine rack. My mom was super worried I wouldn’t like it because it was from a secondhand store, but I think it is perfect!


Belle enjoying the new bedding (less than 2 minutes after it was put on).

Not Dreading the Dreadmill & Christmas Gift Lists

No “Food Friday” post today. My most exciting food moments of the week were going out for sushi (I love sushi, but I swear it is the only thing Kris wants to eat lately) and making snickerdoodle blondies, and neither one of those is particularly new or exciting. Sorry that there have not been many of these lately – I guess my eating habits have been quite boring lately!

Instead, I have sort of a double post on two things that really have nothing to do with each other. Enjoy, because I probably won’t be able to post much while visiting my family Saturday-Wednesday.

Less than a year ago, I was absolutely terrified of treadmills. Even when it got cold last winter and I finally moved my running into the gym I stuck to the indoor track for a few weeks. Then I attempted walking on the treadmill. And finally, I sucked it up and did a nice slow 5K to ease myself into it. They still aren’t my favorite thing, but now that I do not have access to one, I realize that I miss them because they allow me to run in bad weather conditions.

Due to the snow and ice, I still haven’t run – since Sunday! This is one of the longest breaks I have taken from running in the last year and I am not really enjoying it. All it does is make me feel lazy and introduce weird anxieties into my life like “what if I can’t run three miles anymore” or “what if I’m really slow now.” These thoughts make absolutely no sense (after all, it’s only been 5 days), but this is exactly one of the reasons that I run. I *might* be a ridiculously high stress person normally, and running really helps me to not be like that (instead I’m just a high stress person). I think this is especially telling because I’ve still been working out about 20 minutes a day at home. There is no way that I am getting out of shape or being lazy, but my brain is acting like I haven’t run in 6 months or something! Ugh. It must be obvious that I am feeling this way, too, because yesterday Kris basically okay-ed me joining a gym or getting a treadmill for the house for next winter when I am home full-time! Hopefully I can find some time/place to run when I am visiting my family – their treadmill is broken, and I could use my mom’s stationary bike to get some good cardio in, but it’s not the same.

I *should* be able to go for a run today, though. I’ve been able to tell that even if the park isn’t clean, the sidewalks along the roads mostly are, so I could run there if I absolutely had to. I don’t really like running on sidewalks, though, because I am more likely to trip and I have to contend with traffic at major intersections. It was in the high 30s yesterday, though, and should be in the 40s today, so I am thinking that most of the snow will melt and I will be good to go on my normal route. Either way, I really need to get out there – I am going to Kris’s office Christmas party tonight and I need to preemptively burn off cookies and beer! After I write this post I’m going to finally get dressed and take Belle for a walk so I will see what the state of things are then.

Now on to the second part of the post, which is of course basically a rant. Due to the impending holiday, I have been seeing gift idea lists for people who are into fitness and I must say that in my opinion, some of these are just TERRIBLE ideas. Now, many of these gifts are not inherently bad ideas – they would be good ideas for specific people, but they are not really appropriate for a list of random gift suggestions for a friend/relative who is a bit into fitness. They are the type of thing you should ONLY buy people who have specifically asked for them, not the type of thing you should buy people after Googling “gift ideas for health nut friend.”

First, we have meal/weight loss plan subscriptions. Yes, I have actually seen this suggested. Now, if you know someone who is on a specific plan (i.e. Weight Watchers) and you know they are thinking of discontinuing it for monetary reasons, this might not be a bad idea. But to randomly get it for someone who seems like they like to watch what they eat? No. Just no. First of all, it presumptuous because it implies the person cannot accomplish their goals without supervision/guidance (this is being nice to the gift giver and assuming that the person even has a goal that such a plan would be appropriate for, otherwise such a gift is just plain rude). Second, even if the person had expressed vague interest in such a plan, I imagine that unless the gift giver knows EXACTLY what plan the person wants to follow, this could really backfire. Like, if the person on the receiving end of this gift was thinking of trying Nutrisystem and you paid for Weight Watchers instead, you’ve put them in an awkward position. It’s like if your eldery grandparents with only good intentions went out and bought you a Microsoft Surface when you wanted an Ipad. It seems rude to return it for something that to the gift-giver is functionally the same darn thing, but you would really hate the gift because it wasn’t quite what you wanted, and then you feel like an ass. I hope this makes sense.

Second, we have the 80,000 gadgets intended to keep track of your bodily data, such as Fitbits with bodyfat scales that sync up to MyFitnessPal (or whatever). These are bad gifts for the reasons I already mentioned – a bit presumptuous, and what if you wanted the Jawbone thingy instead of the Fitbit thingy? There are two additional problems with such gifts, though. First, they constantly keep track of numbers such as calories, weight, and body fat. It is difficult to know whether a person can handle being constantly updated with that information or not. I am very good at dealing with calories, for example, but try to force myself to weigh once a week or less because otherwise I get very caught up with my weight. If I had some sort of freaking scale that synced up with all of my other data and constantly reminded me to get on it and was aware of every 5 pound fluctuation up and down I’d probably drive myself nuts (and I  mean this literally, there is not a word of humor in this sentence). I just can’t handle that, which is why I don’t own a scale. I weigh myself at gyms and other people’s homes so that I can limit myself. The point is that for many people, one or more of these numbers might be problematic, so don’t buy them this stuff unless they have specifically asked for it. Second, I have a feeling that these are things that are going to get rarely used by even the biggest data and fitness geeks because they just look ugly. Like, who is going to wear a Fitbit to work all day everyday? Maybe this is one of most “just my personal opinion” points here but I think if a numbers-cruncher such as myself thinks that looking silly isn’t worth it for a few numbers, there are not many people who are going to be willing to make that sacrifice.

So, what do I suggest instead? Stick with known quantities or things that aren’t offensive and presumptuous. If you know they are a runner, for example, you could buy them things like clothing/accessories, energy gels, or small things they could use at home like handweights or foam rollers. These types of things are easy to return exchange for inoffensive reasons (i.e. it didn’t fit, that flavor upsets my stomach) or are things that most people use (i.e. handweights don’t really imply that the giver thinks you need to lose weight/get fit to the point of a meal plan!). If you want to go for a more DIY route, make them some healthy holiday treats for a nice break in the sugar-cookie flood that Christmas is or do something like make them a display case for medals/bib numbers. If all else fails, just get them a gift card to a store that you know sells things for their hobby. It is less thoughtful than the other gifts, but it at least shows that you pay attention to their hobby, and is not necessarily NOT thoughtful. For example, my husband loves Warhammer, but everyone just gets him Games Workshop gift cards because we know we’d mess up trying to get him actual miniatures, so it is probably more thoughtful than a) getting him the wrong miniatures or b) just giving him like a Visa gift card and socks (except for runners – runners actually want and love all the running socks).

Have a happy holiday everyone, and hopefully I have a Christmas of running shorts and Clif bars rather than scales that follow me around!

This Post is Basically Just Photos of my Dog

I haven’t been able to go running since the snowstorm on Sunday 😦

My city is broke, and the park is therefore covered in ice and snow (because they aren’t spending the money to send someone to shovel it). I really should have brought my ice-spike things for my shoes with me, but “it doesn’t snow much here” so I decided against it. Or maybe I just forgot them. I actually forgot a ton of things :/

The state of my running path yesterday…today there is an addition of about 3 inches of snow!

I’ve been trying to keep up walks with Belle but a major issue has been that there is a barrier of ice over the snow and she has difficulty walking on it because she isn’t heavy enough to immediately break through. You can’t tell from this photo but she basically ran/slid across the ice as fast as possible to get to this spot in the “grass” to do her business then ran/slid right back to the sidewalk. She has realized that the run/sliding is more effective than trying to walk normally so that has been what she is doing. She also gets very cold outside. Unfortunately I can only find this Christmas sweater that doesn’t fit her very well right now and only one of her little dog boots, so I’d feel bad making her walk even now that there is a bit more snow and it’s easier to walk.

It also doesn’t help that this is about the current state of many of our sidewalks:

Yes, that is someone’s driveway plowed into the middle of the sidewalk. And no, they did not shovel any of the sidewalk except where their driveway and the sidewalk happen to intersect. The issue is that I live on a smaller side street that runs parallel to the main street. People with normal sized houses/yards have a house that faces their respective street with the back yards matching up. All of these people have shoveled their sidewalks in front of their houses (in accordance with city laws). “Rich” (ok, they live in the city so they probably aren’t THAT rich) people have houses that face the main street and then their yard extends all the way back to my street, and many have a garage back there. This means that they only cleaned in front of their house and maybe cleaned their driveway but seem to expect some magical snow shoveling fairy to come shovel the sidewalk back there. I might actually get grumpy enough to report them to the city so that they get a $50 fine (the minimum for failure to remove snow).

Sorry for all of the grumping about the lack of snow removal. I’m just mad that I can’t really go running and I really get bored with working out at home, though I have been trying to at least a little bit. At least due to things like holiday shopping and actually having work to do when I am at home I haven’t gone stir crazy yet!

Snow Day

I got back into Harrisburg yesterday – just in time for a snowstorm today! I’m actually quite surprised because we typically don’t get much snow here. Well, except for our first winter in Harrisburg, during which Snowmaggedon occurred. Of course that was the year I was walking to and from work!

One of my more representative Snowmaggedon pictures.

We were going to go see the Hobbit today, but decided to stay home and work on decorating for Christmas instead (we only left to go to a nearby grocery store because I forgot something for the chili I was making). I wasn’t sure when the snow would start so I almost didn’t run, but after taking Belle for a walk and encountering zero snowflakes around 9:30 am I decided to risk it. I wasn’t the only one by the way – I saw multiple runners out there braving the bad weather! It of course started snowing right when I started to run, but it wasn’t too bad until the end of my run – you can really tell from my splits because I slowed down about 45 seconds per mile! I don’t really mind running in the snow (the bitter cold bothers me more) but like with rain, it makes it difficult to see because it sticks to my glasses. I’m glad I went out even if it was for a relatively short run, though, because I had taken two days off with traveling and was starting to feel quite lethargic.

Here you can see the tiny amount of snow that accumulated during my run (there was no snow on the path before):

We do have a bit more snow now. Here is my street this morning after my run compared to about 30 minutes ago (and we are just really starting to get the heavy snow):

We have been able to enjoy our day inside, though. For breakfast I whipped up some eggnog pancakes and then we made up a batch of quinoa black bean chili (link to recipe). We’ve also been having lots of hot chocolate and beer (porter is wintry even if it doesn’t warm you, ok?). As previously mentioned, we decided today would be a good day to decorate for Christmas, so we turned on the Nightmare Before Christmas and put up our few decorations:

Stockings I made for us last year!

Part of my Christmas town. There should be more, but it appears to be MIA.

Blurry picture of our tree!

Hopefully we can find a way to entertain ourselves the rest of the evening. Stay warm and safe, everyone!



Cleaning Out my Gym Locker

Good news: there wasn’t anything terribly wrong with me on Sunday when I had my overly difficult run – or at least I wasn’t the only one with something wrong. I spoke with my trail running friend yesterday and she told me that when she tried to go running on Sunday that she went out for about a mile and was so tired that she had to turn around and very slowly jog back. She also felt sick and sore and had calf muscle cramps while sleeping that night (I also had cramps, but had forgotten to mention them).  Our theory is that when we went out on Saturday and the ground was frozen solid that we ran harder on the uneven surface than we would have had it been soft and uneven, wearing our bodies out more. It is the only thing we can think of considering that we usually go trail running twice a week with no problems! I was also perfectly fine for my run this morning (in the 17 degree weather -eek!). I was a bit slow, but that was because I was trying not to slip on the snow and ice (its not QUITE icy enough for my spikes yet), not because I was miserable!

It being my last official day of the semester – after grading finals this afternoon, I am “done,” except for the revisions to my preliminaryexams and dissertation proposal, the experiment I am working on, and planning my class for next semester, you know, very simple thing (that was sarcasm) – I had to go clean out  my gym locker so that I wouldn’t have to pay a fee for them to clean it and lose my stuff to them. Before I started going to the gym, my major hang ups/excuses about going were mostly logistical. For example, I didn’t want to do anything to actually get sweaty at the gym because I didn’t know what I would do with my towel. I just couldn’t fathom how people took showers there! Apparently I’m weird because I was bothered by things like this, rather than normal things like working out in front of others (though I do sometimes get mildly embarrassed by how sweaty and wild my hair gets while there).

I eventually broke down and rented a locker at the university gym and started using it, and I am glad that I did because I am now able to use treadmills, do proper strength training, and I have a place to shower on campus any time that I want! I thought it might be useful to discuss what I ended up needing to keep in the locker as well as what I might change in the future.

Things I had in there when I cleaned it out today:

  • Lotion (my skin is always mega dry)
  • A towel (apparently towels weren’t that hard to figure out after all)
  • One of those scrubby shower things
  • Flip flops (the $2 kind from Old Navy)
  • Sunscreen (to keep my poor skin from being damaged!)
  • Hairspray/mousse (the only way to tame my curly hair)
  • Deodorant
  • Travel bottles filled with shampoo, conditioner, bodywash, and facial cleanser

Things I might change next year:

  • I might bring in a hairdryer since the ones that they provide really suck
  • I might get a full locker (they have “half” and “full” ones at our gym – basically 3 or 6 feet tall) – it’s difficult to fit my backpack and coat and clothes in there while I’m working out with all of my other things
  • I will never get a locker near the showers again – I thought it would be great to be able to quickly run over to the showers from my locker, but my stuff dries out very slowly due to all the moisture and gets musty smelling :/ (I mean after like 2 uses of a towel)
  • Somehow I need to figure out a better way to deal with certain toiletries. I have so many deodorants in various places (two at home, one in my office, one at the gym) that it is ridiculous. Not sure how to fix that yet.

Weird Weekend Runs/Friend Makin’ Monday

I went running on both Saturday and Sunday as usual this weekend. Both experiences were…interesting.

On Saturday, I went with my trail-running friend to a nearby state park to try some new trails. I have lived here for like 4 years (to be fair, I used to live much further from the park) and I had no idea the state park was so nice! It had a farm (that sells stuff/has educational tours in the summer), a mini water park, a pine forest made out an old Christmas tree farm, and preserved prairie grass! I can’t wait to go back to the park in the spring/summer when Kris visits with Belle. On top of learning that all of this was only 5 minutes from my house, the experience was interesting because it was SO COLD. I think the actual temperature was 15 degrees so who knows how cold the “feels like” temperature was (I can’t remember). It was so cold that my sweat froze into an icy layer all over my fleece jacket and headband!!

Yesterday, I decided to opt out of running with my friend at the park because I’m a wimp. Basically, it was only 8 degrees and we were having our first snow of the year so I chickened out and decided I’d do a short run on the treadmill in our apartment complex gym later. I don’t know what was wrong with me, but that run was incredibly difficult! I could barely keep up my normal easy pace (about 9:00-9:15 per mile) and my lungs were hurting a bit at the end – and I only ran 3 miles! I don’t know if the treadmill was inaccurate (I usually use the other treadmill but someone was on it) or if I am starting to come down with a cold or what. Typically days like this are disheartening because I feel like maybe I’m slow/tired because I’m lazy, not because I am worn down or sick, but this was SO difficult for me that I am more baffled than discouraged. I will just have to see what happens next time I’m out running!

Now on to the Friend Makin’ Monday part of the post. I am very excited about the topic this week – I love new recipes, which would be evident if you ever glanced at my Pinterest (I’m totally going to make ALL those things someday).


If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

Share Your Favorite Holiday Recipe

Ok, so I don’t have my actual recipe book here in Indiana, so this is going to be a little half-assed. Let’s just pretend I am sharing more the gist of this recipe rather than its actual specifics and then it won’t be such a spectacular fail at recipe-writing. Now, for context: the recipe I am going to share is my Grandma’s recipe for turtles, which she makes for everyone every year, along with numerous quantities of fudge and those Hershey Kiss cookies. It is such a tradition that it was seriously a huge signal of adulthood to me when I received a plate (read: one pretty Christmas plate and then like 3 ziploc bags of stuff that won’t fit on the plate) made up for “Chelsea and Kris” instead of my parents receiving one for the whole family (and I get more now because my mom passes off like half of the butterscotch fudge to me!). I don’t recall exactly how she melts her chocolate/toasts her pecans/how much she uses of each item, but I do know the most important part: she uses homemade caramel. And you would be surprised how easy making this homemade caramel is.


  • 1 bag pecans (you might actually need more, I’m not sure how much she uses)
  • 1 bag chocolate chips (again, not sure of this, but it seems to make sense)
  • 2 cans sweetened condensed milk
  • Seriously, that is it, unless you like to add milk when melting chocolate


Start by making the homemade caramel. This is the part I actually know how to do. Place your 2 cans of condensed milk (still closed) in a crockpot and completely submerge in water. Turn the crock pot on low for about 8-10 hours, checking to make sure they are still submerged, and adding water as necessary. When it is done cooking, open the cans to find caramel! Note: this always works better for my Grandma than for my mom – it still turns into caramel, but my granmda’s is much thicker – which I am guessing is because her crockpot is older and therefore cooks at a lower temperature. I would recommend making the turtles right away or you will have to heat the caramel up (like in a saucepan) to make the turtles.

In order to make the turtles, start by toasting the pecans (however you like to do it – I usually just do a couple minutes in the oven at 350 or so). Lay them out (individually if you want them small; a couple if you want them big) on baking sheets that you have covered in wax paper. Melt the chocolate chips however it is that you typically do it (if you don’t know how, basically put them in a bowl in the microwave and cook for 30 seconds and stir then repeat until it’s melty, or, if you have one, use a double boiler). Over each pecan (or group of pecans) drizzle 1-2 teaspoons of caramel then 1-2 teaspoons of chocolate. Let them set up before transferring to a serving plate or container for storage. 

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s question!  Don’t forget to come back and link up in the commencts!  Happy Monday! :)