Friday, April 27, 2012

I'll Never Forget

April 27th will never be "just another day" in the minds of Alabamians. It will forever be a feeling in the pit of our stomachs that emerges at the faintest threat of another tornado.
 -Kathleen Davis,

I'll never forget that Wednesday afternoon
Sitting around on my lunch break, checking twitter updates on my phone. 

I'll never forget seeing the tweet about a tornado heading for Cullman.

 I'll never forget being in my office, freaking out, watching James Spann's live report of the tornado ripping through the city.

I'll never forget the pit in my stomach that wouldn't go away. That feeling of hopelessness, sadness, and fear for my loved ones and friends.

I'll never forget calling  my best friend Jackie from Cullman to make sure her family was OK, even though she now lived in Tuscaloosa and was "safe".
I'll never forget  later that afternoon sending Jackie weather updates via text as she sat in a basement in Tuscaloosa, living out the nightmare-ish day first hand.

I'll never forget Prateek and I packing up his truck to take supplies to my ravaged hometown and driving the 11 hours overnight, pulling into Cullman at 6AM. 

I'll never forget seeing Jackie's house for the first time-- half blown down, but her and her family all standing there alive and well, picking up the pieces.

I'll never forget staring at the remnants of my church's Sanctuary. Or trying to remember what once stood on those empty city blocks.

You don't really understand how devastating it is until you're standing in the middle of the rubble.  And you don't really understand the sense of a community pulling together for a common good, until even after going through such tragedy, you can still feel the warmth of a neighbor's good heart.

May this day never be forgotten by our community, and may it always remind us how strong of a state we live in.

God Bless Alabama, my Heart of Dixie! 


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Happy Birthday, Blog!

It was a year ago today that I began my journey into blogger and created my very first blog post.

I wasn't sure where it would take me, but what a crazy first year it's been! 

85 posts and almost 9,000 views later, (seriously? that is so cool!) I've taken you through the joys, sorrows, and trials and tribulations of my world. 

You read about my running life, from my injuries to my belly-aching to my very first marathon.

I took you on journeys with all of my traveling, from road trips to Boston to Calgary to California to New York to Miami to Cozumel to Vegas and back. 

I filled you in on my attempts at DIY activities, from Halloween costumes to holiday foods to sewing projects.

Whether it be from sincere enjoyment, pure boredom, or bewilderment on how I survive day-to-day life without adult supervision, thank you for being here and reading my posts.

I can't wait to see what the second year has in store! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Love-Hate Relationships

Sewing is a funny thing. You look at a pattern, or a DIY project on Pinterest, or an item someone created on Etsy, and you think "Wow, I could totally make that, it looks so easy!". So you set forth in your quest to the fabric store to make your DIY dreams come true. 

Sew many projects, Sew little time. Get it??? I'm so punny.

Then, four hours later, after spending $50 at the store on a project that's supposed to save you money, and then cutting and sewing and seam ripping and re-sewing and cursing your sewing machine and everything else around you, you've decided you hate sewing and crafting and you vow never to do anything so ridiculous again.

 Then you finish your project and all of a sudden you're all "WOW, I LOVE SEWING!".

My new motto is it's not a good day's worth of sewing if you don't use at least two or three choice words or expletives.

Last week my fabulous friend Esther decided it was about time that some of the girls got together for a sewing night. We chose to create skirts out of a pattern that called itself  "The One Hour Skirt" - you can find it here.  While I had never made an article of clothing before, I felt reassured knowing I'd be in the presence of Esther and our other marvelous friend Carrie, who are both much craftier and artistic than I ever dream to be. I figured if my skirt ended up being disastrous, they could give me tips on how to use my seam ripper to at least salvage some of the pieces. 

Nevertheless, the one-hour skirt took about three. And it also took a night of me wearing it around the house, all pinned up, to figure out how I wanted to tweak it so it fit correctly. 

Just so you know -  the one hour skirt uses way too much fabric, in my opinion. I looked like a pregnant balloon. I ended up unstitching the two main skirt pieces and cutting off a good 12 inches of fabric to make it more fitted.

Then I got this bright idea the next day to make a matching clutch, since I had spare fabric.

 I found a pattern I liked called "A Simple Clutch". 

 It should have been called "A Challenging Clutch for Ambitious Novices".

It was back to the fabric store to get this stuff called interfacing that I had never used before. There are about 100 different kinds of interfacing, all with different numbers. Mine needed a  950F and a Peltex 71F, whatever that means. Maybe someday I'll learn what all of that means.
Or not.

I toted my items back home and began my simple clutch. After a few choice words, I finished up the clutch project I began at noon that day just in time to get ready to go to dinner that night - you bet your sweet hiney I wore my matching skirt and clutch! 

The ladies


I got fancy and made a contrasting interior with pocket. 
Oh and please excuse the wet spot on my slightly protruding belly. I had just eaten a massive pasta dinner to prepare for the half marathon, and got spaghetti sauce on my shirt. 
Story of my life. 

The following day was the Iron Girl Half Marathon. Another great love/hate relationship example. 

I've been training in general...not really for this particular half, but mostly just to get myself back in shape after the three months I took off this winter. This half marathon was a good way to make sure I was on the right track and give me a goal to work towards.

The weather had called for 70% chance of rain all week, up until the night before when it dropped to a 30% chance. We got there and the skies were fairly clear, so I was feeling confident. 

I had a few butterflies in my stomach at the starting line, but nothing like previous races. I just wanted to finish at a decent time and try to avoid falling over the side of the causeway into the Gulf of Mexico.

About 6 miles in, the winds began. Right before I hit the first bridge. Awesome.
As I was going up the Belleair Causeway into a brick wall of gale force wind gusts, I thought to myself 

Then the sideways rain kicked in around mile 10, right before the Sand Key Bridge. 


 I really can't wait to see my race photos. I promise to share them. There are going to be some winners... with my disgust in the strong headwinds after going over two giant bridges, mixed with Skrillex on my playlist, I must look like a total beast.

 I couldn't see the finish line, which annoyed me because I always sprint to the finish at my races to shave off a good 15-30 seconds. It turns out the big inflatable finish line banner got blown down by the wind. Bummer.
 I still crossed the finish line in a respectable time - 1:51. Not a PR, but not my worst time, so I'll take it, especially seeing as I was in the top 5% finishers! 

Seriously, am I bipolar or what? 
And then when my friend Christine crossed the finish line in her goal time of sub-2, I loved running even more! Congrats Christine, you rock and I knew you would conquer those bridges!

And how awesome are my race day shorts?? It's OK to be jealous.

Next up? Chicago Marathon training begins. I have no doubt that I will hate it, but love it at the same time.

Hold onto your britches, it's gonna be a long summer! 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

No Rest for the Wicked

It didn't really sink in that I was headed to Sin City until we actually got to the airport to leave.

In previous years' trips to Vegas, I had planned my outfits weeks in advance and bought Vegas-specific attire. I had gone onto the website of the hotel (where we had made reservations at least a few months in advance) and educated myself on the ins and outs of what it offered so I knew the hotel like the back of my hand.

 This year, I waited until the night before to pack, didn't know the agenda of the trip, didn't know my flight information, and didn't even know where we were staying until the day we left.  It wasn't until I changed into my wedge heels and white skinny jeans to get ready for the airport that it finally started to get exciting! (Yes, I always wear Vegas-specific outfits to the LAS airport. Go ahead, judge me.)

We checked in at the Southwest gate, only to find Governor Rick Scott doing a "Let's Get to Work Day" and tagging bags at the kiosk! I was a little star struck so had to get a photo. 

We boarded the flight, but were delayed leaving as our very own President of the United States was departing from the Tampa Airport at the same time. So, I got to watch Air Force One take off! 

Although not as organized as I typically like to be, Las Vegas never disappoints - we saw Avicii at XS, went shopping at the Miracle Mile, enjoyed pool time at Cosmopolitan (with tragic bachelorette party girls keeping us entertained),  ate tapas out of a shoe at Jaleo,went to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and ate ourselves into a coma at The Buffet in the Bellagio after watching the fountains. Among other things, but those are the highlights.


Dinner - Cosmopolitan

Top of the Eiffel Tower

Meandering past the Strip


 This trip taught me that sometimes being OCD about organization is not always necessary if you're in the right company. Even though I may or may not have already looked at hotels for next year.

I also think it would be really stellar to run the Rock N Roll Marathon or Half Marathon up and down the Vegas strip in December. It's an evening race and it would be so magnificent to run past all the lights and the casinos! I'm keeping that one on my radar.

See you soon, Las Vegas - whether it be this year or next!


Monday, April 9, 2012

Back in the Swing of Things

Traveling is one of my top favorite activities - I love the idea of jumping from coast to coast, boarding one plane only to jump on another the next day, and living in hotels and out of a suitcase.

What I Think I Do

What I Actually Do

It's also so nice to be home.

The last chapter of the 2012 Travel-palooza is this weekend in Las Vegas, and things are gradually getting back to normal around here.

My running legs are finally getting back in shape, and my long run paces are continuously improving (two-a-days three times a week and track work has also helped). 
The Iron Girl Half Marathon is next weekend in Clearwater, and it craftily takes you over those bridges I'm so fond of

I ventured out to Clearwater Beach at dawn on Saturday for the first time since my full marathon training. I don't know if it was the sip of coffee I had before I started, the inspiration of watching the moon set and the sun rise at the same time, or my new updated playlist (or perhaps it was just my pure brute strength).....whatever the reason, I crushed those bridges like a bug.

I don't plan on getting a new PR on this race by any means, so I decided my only real goal is to conquer those causeways and show them who's boss! 

Ooooh, I like that as a hashtag - #conquerthecauseways. Look for that next week via Twitter.

The rest of the weekend, I got spoiled by visits with my grandparents, Uncle and cousins. We had a nice afternoon in downtown St Pete on Saturday, and a wonderful Easter Sunday. 

Easter morning, I surprised the boys in my house with Easter baskets. 


I also put together some fun Easter goodies - I went with a carrot theme. 

Baked crescent rolls with veggie cream cheese and carrots/broccoli on top

Chocolate covered strawberries - white chocolate with orange coloring

Oh, and the cherry on top to the weekend  -- the Rays swept the Yankees! And my favorite golfer in the final round yesterday won the Masters (I picked him as my favorite only because of his bright pink driver. And because his name was Bubba and it reminded me of home.)

I hope everyone had a blessed Easter!