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Thursday, December 19, 2013

One Semester Down, Three To Go!

I handed in my computer final last night and that is that.  That class was a struggle for me, and while I am not happy with my performance and lack of understanding, I am glad I used my "marathon" memories to power through it.  It certainly felt like a very very long run.  Still waiting on grades, but I have to be happy with knowing I did my best.  The problem with grad school is that you know you're smart enough to get in, and you don't like not feeling so smart when you have trouble in class.  It shakes your self confidence, especially when you've been pretty confident in the rest of your life.

This is my first night since August where I don't have to think about homework.  It will take me a few weeks to decompress, just in time to start again in January.  As always, I've learned a lot about myself and hope to use those lessons to be better next semester.  For one, I neglected to realize I don't have a place to study at home.  I will be taking my spare bedroom and turning it into a study room, complete with desk, chair, and good smelly candles.  Sitting on my couch and using the coffee table has just about driven me mad!  This is one of the few bad things about having a small house.  No kitchen table.
I need to create a space that is conducive to studying and learning.

I also missed running terribly these past few months.  I simply didn't have time to work out at all.  My schedule for next semester will hopefully be a bit easier (only have to travel to campus once a week) and enable me to get back into the gym.  I also learned the hard way that I need to spend more time with Bud for my mental health.  I got a bit depressed not seeing him much at all; sometimes not for a week at a time.  When you love someone, you want to be with them, and Bud's faith in my school plan needs to be reinforced sometimes with him being here with me !  So we're working on that.

It's been a semester of playing catch up and trying to learn Excel and Powerpoint on the fly.  I'm taking an Excel class in January over the course of two nights to learn a bit about it so I feel better prepared for school.  I've been feeling fairly frustrated over missing opportunities to get some experience in librarianship.  Working full-time leaves little time for extra stuff.  This semester I'm going to take some chances on the temporary opportunities that come up at school to help with projects.  I'm excited to see what's around the corner.

So…I'm relaxing tonight on the couch with a beer and mindless tv.  Retail Christmas hell is in full mode, and bad weather is a 'comin the weekend before Christmas.  Cue the hyper shoppers frantic to finish their shopping.  I'm just looking forward to baking a few breads and making a batch of cookies before Christmas Eve.  And cue the reading marathon I am starting tonight.  I have one month to cram as much reading in as possible.

Everyone have a wonderful Christmas!  What are you looking forward to in 2014?


Friday, November 1, 2013

November. I Made it Through Mid-Terms. Barely.

October was beyond stressful.  It was pretty darn awful, in fact.  I am glad to see it go.  It means I have about 6 weeks of this semester left.  We are down to single digits for remaining classes.  Learning so much and wading through information coming at me left and right.  

I've figured out a few things to help me next semester: make plenty of muffins and easy breakfast items that I can stick in the freezer. Make plenty of meals to stick in the freezer to take to school for lunch.  I'm very fortunate to have a SLIS program that not only has a study/computer/relaxing room for all of us, but a kitchen where we can keep our food and reheat it.  Iowa City is ridiculously expensive and money can be spent pretty quickly eating on the run.  Over Christmas break I'll be making lots of soups, beans and rice, and other easily portable lunches to feed me through the Spring semester.  

Right now I'm figuring out what to take for classes in the Spring.  So many opportunities to try so many things at school it's hard to make a choice!

And I miss my running.  I so miss running.  All the things I need to do to keep me calm and focused aren't happening--meditation, exercise, good, clean eating.  Skipping meals, not drinking enough water, and not getting enough sleep are keeping my energy not so high.  All of this is a big part of adjusting to a major change in my life; a change that takes up a lot of time.  So I'm not that great at being organized yet.  But it will come!  And lucky me, I haven't even had a sniffle, while people around me are all sickies.

What can I say about the coming few months?  On the downhill slope now; but Christmas is coming.  Not too far away, can you believe it?  Without a doubt it will be a small gift giving season for me.  I did find a fantastic little shop in Iowa City yesterday that will keep some of my money.  Can't wait to go back when I have time to pick up a few presents for Christmas.  

Pomegranates are back. Oh, happy days!  And cranberries.  Love them any which way.  I think I may have to make a pomegranate martini sometime this month just to celebrate that glorious fruit.  

My dates with friends are starting to stack up.  I think so far I have three outstanding "when you have time" appointments to meet friends over drinks.  And my dear Bud, what a wonderful man.  He's been so patient and accommodating to my "I can't see you this weekend I have to study" phone calls.  He keeps me going.  Can't wait to spend some quality time with him!  We've already made a date to have a get away weekend in January before school starts again.  I'd be happy just lying in a hotel room watching tv  for the weekend.  

How is your November shaping up?  Fingers crossed the snow holds off until after Christmas!  

Friday, October 4, 2013

An October Chock Full of Stuff: School Is In Full Swing!

I have always loved October, until my sister Patti passed away last October 19th.  Now I don't like it so much.  I can only say I am glad this sad anniversary is on a Saturday, where I'll be at work and hopefully so busy I won't think about it too much.  The first year is always so damn difficult.  My grief is still evident every week, but slowly getting better.  I think this process will be going on for quite some time and I don't see a day yet where I can't think about her without getting teary.  

But life goes on.  Thanks to Patti, I decided to go back to school. And through miracles of timing and help from above, I got in and started school in September.  I talk to Patti all the time, and I said recently:  "Ok, you helped me get in, now help me get through it!"  I figure I'll ask help from anyone to keep me motivated and moving forward--family and friends are a big help.

September was such a big month of change.  I felt a bit out of place the first few weeks of school, and overwhelmed.  But I quickly realized that my fellow SLIS (School of Library and Information Science) students all felt the same way, too.  And my age really doesn't matter.  I also realized just how much I had missed being in the academic world.  I really do like to be in school.  It is such a change from my day to day life as a manager in a bookstore.  Night and day.  And while the stress from working full-time and going to school full-time is a daily test of my resolve, I can say I love arriving at school and being in a different world for a day.  I don't have anyone asking me where a book is, how to set a display, or deal with customers.  It's only for 2 days a week, but it's a needed mental break from that side of my life.  And when I'm at work, I can't think about school.  It requires my manager hat and simply getting things done and serving customers.  

One of my professors said yesterday that October is the month where students have to cope with an enormous amount of work for the program.  Looking at what's due each week, I can agree wholeheartedly.  Just a few things I have to do this month:  attend a conference (and write a paper), present a book report, give a 1 hour presentation, a mid-term, weekly computer homework assignments, reading a book each week for class, keep up a reading journal, interview a librarian (and write a paper), work on an information page about music therapy with my librarian mentor, visit a library 3 times, gather information, and write a paper, and weekly article readings due for discussion in class.  I don't think that's all, but it's enough. 

I have begun to carry my planner around with me so I can schedule things in the few free moments I have available.  At work, I have a book talk next week for my friends at a local retirement facility, a book talk for local librarians in a few weeks,  and at the end of the month, setting the store for Christmas.  Yep.  Christmas.  

I can only hope all this stress decreases my appetite!  I haven't exercised since I started school, which sucks.  Sleep has been very sketchy, so getting up even earlier in the morning to workout before school or work just doesn't compete with trying to sleep another hour.  I've kept up my gym membership, so I hope to get back into my pump class soon.  Some things have to fall to the side, and this is one of them.  Housework is another.  Making pumpkin and banana bread is another.  

How is your October shaping up?  What do you do to cope with stress?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Spending the Day With Bud and Friends--and Holy Crap! Lots of Food

My first weekend off in a loooong time.  Working and going to school 7 days a week made me forget what it's like to have a whole day where I don't have to do either one!  Except homework, laundry, dishes, and de-trashing the house I've ignored since school started.

Bud and I went to our first ever college football game yesterday, complete with early morning tailgating with our friends Kelly and Jon.  Jon tailgates for every home Iowa Hawkeye game, and he's a dedicated fan of the Hawks.  And since I am officially a "hawkeye" for the next 2 years, I figured Bud and I needed to see a game.  

Yesterday's weather was absolutely perfect.  It was a bit chilly at 6 AM, but it warmed up enough that we both managed to get sunburns on the side of our faces that faced the sun whilst watching the game.  I also have raccoon eyes, thanks to my sun glasses.  So attractive.  

Bud, me, Kelly & Jon
yes, Jon & I are drinking whiskey at 9 AM
Our tailgate was fantastic.  Yes, I did drink beer at 8 AM.  It tasted pretty darn good, too.  I made guacamole, pumpkin bread, chocolate/apple/caramel bark, and brown-sugar bacon.  I made 3 pounds of bacon and it was all gone.  It was pretty awesome--and I put in cayenne pepper to give it a slow burn.  Sticky, hot, and bacony goodness.  I was also up at 4 AM to make it, too.  

Jon made breakfast burritos (hence the guacamole) and nearby tailgaters brought apple crisp, fresh fruit, and cinnamon rolls.  It was all so damn good I ate too much.  And the game was fun, too.  I immediately went hoarse from yelling within the first five minutes.  I am that way at sporting events. It is embarrassing for those with me.  

People rent out their front yards for tailgating
We had so much fun, it made getting up at 4 AM worth it.  Good food, good people, and good times.  And most importantly, Bud and I got to spend the whole day together!

Bud took this panoramic view of our little tailgate community

We won!  Boy, did we win!

If only I knew I was getting a lovely sunburn!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I Am Doggie Paddling As Fast As I Can!

So....I continue to adjust to the work/school week.  Not having any time to think is making the time go fast--in a blink of an eye it's Thursday night and the week is (mostly) over.  

School is getting thicker.  That's the only way I can describe it.  I have been strongly (yet in a totally friendly, enthusiastic way) advised to attend another librarian convention in October.  I talked it over with my Bud and a friend of mine, and they both say "you'd better go!".  So, pencil that into my schedule.  That's two conferences in October--both within 10 days of each other.  

I am finding myself taking bits of time here and there to quickly try and get some homework reading done; plan my days, and think about upcoming assignments.  I am learning PowerPoint this Saturday on the fly from my sister--who says "I looooove PowerPoint!  It's so easy!"  I hope she's right.  I have my first big presentation next Thursday for class and I'm doing it on PowerPoint.  I feel like I should be flying a flag from my truck antenna that says "flying by the seat of my pants"  That truly is how I feel.  Really wishing I had a blow up ring around my middle to keep me afloat.

One thing I really really miss is working out.  I simply haven't been able to do it since I started  school.  40 hrs of work + 8 hrs of classroom time + 10 hrs of homework a week don't leave me with much wiggle room.  Right now I feel that getting sleep is more important.  Getting up earlier in the morning to do homework before work means I am ready for bed by 9 PM.  

School is much more time consuming than I predicted.  As I said in my last post, graduate school is so much more different than undergraduate school that you have to go through it to get it.  When I say "I don't have time to do that/for that" I really mean I have no time.  Just ask the unfolded clothes in baskets and the dirty clothes hamper; the sink full of dishes and the meals that I haven't made all week.  

I am not complaining.  I do not regret even for one nano-second going back to school.  It is hard.  It is time consuming.  It is tiring.  But I will get through it, one week at a time.  Me and my vitamins!  How do you cope with added responsibilities?  

Thursday, August 29, 2013

1st Week of School is Done: A Few Things I've Learned Already

This is the first capitol building in Iowa.  It is smack dab in the center of campus.  It is also the crowning glory of a very large, steep hill that you can't escape when you are going to school at the University of Iowa.  You can jog, skate, bike, walk, or take a bus, but up that hill you will go.  There is no way around it if you need to get from point A to point B and they are on either side of this sharply inclined pain in the ass.  But there is a lovely view while you move up and over that hill.

On top of the hill are all the cool shops, great food places, and the ped-mall.  It's where everyone goes when they don't want to stay in the library to study or  be in class.  It's always busy.  I've walked up and down that hill numerous times this week, and my legs are still shrieking.  

Here are a few things I've learned already.  At this rate, by the time I'm done in 2 years, I will have so much knowledge I may want to rule a small country:

*I do not look like a student.  This is good in many ways.  No one bothers me while I'm moving from point A to point B.

*The shorts young ladies wear these days are just too damn short.  Yeast infections must run rampant around here.

*Librarians are not what you think.  I believe I am riding the "cusp" of this new, crazy, information guru librarian wave.  Forget card catalogs, and instead think computer savvy, class teaching, information-culler and program-forming source of all knowledge.  That is what a librarian is today.  Oh.  There are also a gazillion different types of librarians.  I have yet to meet one who has the same title as another.  They work everywhere!  

*Iowa has the most public libraries of any state in the United States.  Sweet.

*I am too old to go to 2 classes twice a week and work full time to come home and have a cocktail.  These are firmly placed on the Friday/Saturday night dinner menu for the next few months.  No drinkee for Susie.  At least not during the week.  

*Graduate school is hands down so beyond different than undergraduate school.  All I can say is it involves projects for class, lots of reading articles, and always, always, looking at ways to connect with others in your field.  So far I will be attending a conference (and writing a paper on it), interviewing a librarian, job shadowing a librarian this semester, giving a book talk, leading a class discussion (a whole hour and 20 minutes--power point may be used--did I tell you I don't know power point?) keeping a reading journal, reading one book a week from several different genres, learning to write computer code, and having group projects in class, too.  This is just the tip of the ice berg.  I also have to write a 20 page paper and a 7 page paper.  And I think a 3-5 page paper, too. 

*There aren't enough calendars to keep track of all this stuff.  I am deathly afraid I will miss some crucial due date.  I would like a personal assistant to tell me what my day will require every morning while serving me coffee and a chocolate filled croissant.  

****All I can keep saying to myself is have faith.  This is a marathon and I will remember to hydrate, snack to keep up my energy, and take rest breaks when needed.  But I will get through it and learn a lot in the process.  Have faith is my mantra.

I am now off to bed, so I can let my brain rest.  

**One more thing.  All this new learning stuff is making my brain have some crazy ass dreams at night, populated with people I've never seen and colors that would rival Oz.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Few Things I'm Grateful For....Saturday Edition

It has been forever since I posted anything about gratitude, so here's my musings on some things that I am grateful for in my life--big and small:

Blueberries  I cannot get enough of blueberries.  I eat so many that my dentist asks me every time I visit if I'm still eating frozen blueberries.  Luckily I've managed to snag lots of fresh berries this summer.  I love them in smoothies, in oatmeal, and just by themselves.  Yum.

Wendy's Chocolate Frosty  I adore these.  Chocolatey malty goodness that is a sweet treat on a hot day (and we're in a heat wave here in Iowa right now!)

Templeton Rye Whiskey This is an Iowa product and I can't tell you enough how it has changed my view of whiskey.  Bud and I enjoy it over ice.  It makes me feel like I have finally grown up and is a perfect small treat after a long week.  Click on the link to visit their website.  At first extremely hard to find, its growing popularity has made it more available in places outside of Iowa.  My brother even found it in New Mexico!

Mac Book Air  Honestly, I'm not a huge laptop fan.  I prefer my desktop. But, with school starting, I can't carry that around to class.  My Mac Book Air is sleek, light, and thankfully I had no problem adjusting to this little gem.  It will become my new bestie while I'm at school.  And I've got a lovely red cover to protect it.  

And finally, I am grateful for the support I've received from family and friends on my return to school.  Bud has been beyond wonderful and knows he will hear everything about every class every week.  And the people at school?  I've had nothing but positive experiences--everyone is helpful and easy to talk to about the smallest of worries.  I can't tell you how much I missed the world of academia and how good it feels to be back in it again.  I guess I'm a school nerd.  And this probably won't be my last time going to school.  I'm already planning what degree I will earn after I retire and can go to school just for the heck of it :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

See, They Knew I Was Coming To College

School is a mere 3 weeks away, and the butterflies are definitely starting to appear.  I have my books, my book bag, and my school ID.  I am thankful it doesn't look like my driver's license, which portrays me as a bitter old woman who recently held up a liquor store.  At least school lets you smile for your picture!

Yesterday it was announced that: University of Iowa is Number One Party School .  They must have known I was going to be a grad student this Fall.  I suspect all my drinking will be done at home, and not in the bars around downtown Iowa City.  After all, I do need to drive 20 miles home.  I will cherish Friday and Saturday nights when I am done working and done with school for the week and can have a friendly cocktail with my sweetie in the comfort of my own home.  Lately I've been stuck on the classic cocktail the Old-Fashioned.  Not for sissies--it packs a punch.  There are many variations, but mostly it's just a few ingredients:  bourbon, ice, simple syrup, a bit of water, bitters, an orange slice, and a maraschino cherry.  It will put hair on your chest--or if you've already got a  hairy chest, check out your back.  

I keep getting emails from the SLIS (School of Library and Information Science)--which is great.  Only problem is that I don't really have any idea what some of them are about.  I expect I will soon unlock the secrets to some of these new terms, ideas, and opportunities.  I can't wait to look back on this Fall semester and see how it all panned out.  I think my brain will be undergoing a radical change in a few short months.  

I had dinner with friends last night, and one said to me "How are you going to read for fun with all this going on?"  And my response was "I just will.  I will make time."  Reading every day is a necessity for me, and a stress coping mechanism.  Sometimes (well, mostly every week) I get up an hour early in the morning just so I can read before going to work.  I can't seem to read in bed very much without falling asleep.  And then I think I'm awake and reading, and wondering why the story has changed so dramatically--then I realize I'm actually lying with my eyes closed and making it all up.  I have to say I've impressed myself with those story crafting abilities.  Perhaps I should write a book someday?  After school, of course.  

This time of year, it's all about getting kids ready for school.  I like to think about all the adults who are starting school anew; looking at another career path, finishing that degree that was interrupted all those years ago; making that brave decision to step back into academia even if it's just to take classes and fulfill a long desire to attend school.  We are nervous, excited, and have our school bags, too.  We just have to drive ourselves to school.  We don't have anyone holding our hands and taking our pictures.  It's a bit of a solitary road but I'm a big girl, and I can do it all by myself.  Just make sure there's someone standing at the door on Friday night with a cocktail for me.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Life Changes Are Good Even When They Scare The Bejesus Out of You

So....I am making a big change in my life.  It is a good, positive change.  It is a change that is clearly a move onto a new path, since every sign I've seen along this road has directed me onward in a new direction.  Now all that's left is getting past the "oh shit!" of it all, and embracing that fear, knowing I'll be okay and get through it.  I've had so many times in my life where I thought "I can't possibly do that!" and then I've done it, and wondered why I put up such a fuss.  Fear can do that to you.  It makes you doubt yourself.  

But fear can also be a kick in the pants, and make me angry for being afraid.  Over what?  Not much.  Afraid to fail, afraid I've made a bad choice.  At least I've made a choice, right?  And one that feels concrete, solid, and blessed.

I am starting Graduate school next month.  And continuing to work full-time.  I hope this can be done; it must be done financially.  This whirlwind started in March, and in June I was accepted to school.  I was waaaaay past the February deadline, but somehow a belief in it happening and some help along the way by fantastic people got me in the program.  Passing the GRE was the first step.  Can I just say my brain hurt afterwards?  And I still suck at math.  I wish I didn't.  I feel like there is some secret code to math that I haven't figured out yet, and if only I did, I would be good at it.  

I had wonderful people write me letters of recommendation; I don't know what they said, but whatever it was, it worked.  The School of Library and Information Science at the University of Iowa decided to take a chance on a 46 year old woman and take me into this program.  I haven't been to school in 19 years; last time I wrote a paper, it was on a typewriter.  I went to small colleges; the U of I is huge and requires me parking in a lot, and taking a bus to the library for my classes.  

I don't know how I will come out of this life change.  I expect I will learn some incredible things about life and myself while attending school.  I know it is never too late to try something new.  I have the unwavering support of my main cheerleader, Bud.  He is so happy I'm making a change.  That change will take a few years, so you'll be hearing about it all the time here on my blog.  It has given me a spark in my attitude, my job, and my life.  It has given me a goal to work towards.  My brain will be rattled, shaken, and stirred.  It's time to learn  something new and stretch my thinking muscles.  I didn't realize how bored I was with my life.  And quite frankly, until my sister Patti died last year, I was fairly content.  Not supremely happy, but okay with life.  

But now I know life can be too short, and I have more to do.  

My blog will be changing just a bit, as I will be writing about school, work, and life.  The challenges and surprises along this journey.  The sick feeling in my stomach as I go to school on my first day.  I never did like the first day of school--ever!  How will I balance school and work, and Bud?  And both my blogs?  I don't know.  All I do know is that I will come out the other end.  And I suspect I will have a lot of help along the way.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Book Review: Running Like A Girl by Alexandra Heminsley

If you've been reading my blog for a few years, you know I have been running for years.  Lately those running sessions have been few and far between, and as I've gotten older I've become slower and heavier.  

I found this book on Net Galley and just had to read it, and found someone who wrote a book just for me.  Running Like a Girl is Alexandra's true tale of how she got off her duff, started running, completed a marathon, and found herself sitting on the couch again and not running.

That is me.  Except I don't sit on the couch, I lay on it as I read books or take a nap.

What makes this book different from other running books is what really hit home for me while I was reading it last night.   I don't want to spend all of my runs thinking about how fast I have to run, negative splits, fartleks, or planning my meals for the next week around long runs.  I just want to enjoy the run, see the sights, and finish feeling tired and achy but knowing I just did my body and mind a world of good. 

 Alexandra readily admits to working her ass off to run a marathon (with the help of her dad and brother) and even raises money for a charity in order to feel good about her suffering through training for 6 months.  But after that triumph, the glow faded; she found herself running less and less until she stopped.  Somehow she did take up running again, and has run more marathons and half marathons since then.  Running is now part of her life.  What she found out about herself and running really hit a chord for me, and made me feel that I wasn't alone in the post-race let down and inability to keep running and being enthusiastic about it.  But you can always, always, put those shoes on and begin running again.  It is never too late, and you are never too out of shape or too anything to not try it again.  

The second half of the book is about some running advice she's learned over the years--simple stuff, but great for a novice or someone who doesn't know a lot of runners and is a bit intimidated about buying shoes or a running bra.  We all know when we're out running there is always someone who runs faster, looks fab in their work out clothes, and never seems to work hard while piling up the miles.  But for the rest of us who struggle through every run, want to give up, and can't afford to spend money on matchy matchy anything, this is a great uplifting book that will get you off the couch and out the door.

Rating:  7/10 for humor, brutal honesty, and an easy read.

Available in October in hardcover and e-book.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Flowers That Managed To Stay Alive In My Backyard & 4th of July

This summer has certainly been much more damp than last summer, when we didn't have rain for oh, around 6 weeks.  Now a week doesn't go by without some kind of storm, downpour, or flood warning.  

Somehow the native plants I have in my garden just keep on growing, taking their licks and ignoring the erratic weather and my lack of tender loving care.

I had family over for 4th of July and it was so wonderful to hold babies and have fun with my brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews:
Me and my nephew Ryan

Sis Michelle and our nephew Henry:  what a doll!

Niece Miss Rose and Nephew Noah--best pals
The weather was perfect, the bugs behaved for most of the party, and I bribed the kids with sidewalk chalk and bubbles and they were all happy.  Bud was my grill master and I ate too much cake, but sweated out all the beer I drank.  All in all, a good day and my flowers provided a beautiful background to family chaos.  Once again, I am so appreciative of having such a large family!  Can't imagine life without all my brothers and sisters and their kiddies (and their kiddies' kiddies).

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer Sun (Finally!!) And The Workout That Wasn't Meant To Be

We've had 4 days in a row of sunny, warm days and wonderful evenings here in Iowa.  This is a record, since this hasn't happened since last summer.  Plants are growing like crazy and happy to see the sun.  I am happy to see the sun come up at 5:30 in the morning, cause it means I can get up early and run.  There is nothing like running early in the morning, when the air is cool, there's no one around, and the day is new.  It makes you feel like you actually did something with your day even if it ends up taking a nosedive.  And you can relax at night, knowing you worked out super early.  I would like to run at night, but I have horrible night vision and would end up tripping over a curb, running into a parked car, and probably a light pole.  

I was super excited to sign up for a new course at the YMCA called Y360.  It was basically a 3 day a week 45 minute workout using tires, ropes, kettle bells, and my pure muscle strength (insert sarcasm).  It was also at 5:45 in the morning.  It was tough to get up, but once I was up and out the door, it felt good to be up and motivated early.  And it was an excuse to get coffee on the way home.

Except I was the only person who showed up.  THE ONLY PERSON TO SHOW UP AT ALL EVER.  Out of 3 YMCA's in the community, no one else paid and joined the class.  What the hell?

So my teacher, Lynn, worked out with me for those 3 days last week.  We worked outside and she tried to kill me, but I survived.  It was decided that if no one else joined, the course would be cancelled.  And it was.  Crap.

I'm back doing Body Pump and again contemplating doing Cross Fit.  And each week I tell myself I have to run x number of miles, and every week I don't.  Life is getting in the way of my running.  I haven't made it a priority, and I need to do that for my peace of mind, my giggly gut, and my legs that really really need to muscle up.  

What are you doing to stay fit this summer?  Have you tried a new fitness class?  Do you do Cross Fit?  

This is me after 5 minutes of exercise

Monday, June 10, 2013

Breakfast Made Easy-Peasy

I know I'm late to the party, but I finally bought a microwave egg-cooker a few months ago.  And can I say I love it?  I can use it to make a gigantic egg poofy breakfast with 2 eggs,  or just use one egg to make something that will fit on an english muffin.  I've used it to make egg, cheese, and ham sandwiches, and today I made a tomato, basil, and parmesan cheese poofy egg breakfast.  I call the eggs poofy 'cause they rise up so high it's amazing!

This is something your kids can use to make their own breakfast, too.  Or your hubby, or significant other.  It takes the excuse out of "I don't have time for breakfast."  Yes you do.  It takes about 2 minutes to cook your egg.  Long enough for you to pour a cup of coffee and take a sip or two.  

It's good to make a homemade breakfast for yourself.  Makes you feel like you have a handle on your day before you leave the house.  And it's definitely less than a drive-through or a donut shop.

So if you don't have a microwave egg cooker, go get one!  They're cheap (under $10) and you can get them at Target, Walmart, and everywhere else.  Easy clean up, too.  

The wondrous egg machine!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Trying On Clothes Makes Me Want To Drink

I think that every clothing store should have a bar set up in the dressing room so those of us who don't fit into any of the clothes we try on can get a shot of alcohol.  This will keep us from ripping out our hair and gnashing our teeth.  I almost did both of those today trying to find shorts. 

It is hard for me to look at myself in the mirror anymore.  My legs are so heavy and gross looking that it shocks me to think they are my legs.  I always had "chicken legs" and never gave a thought to wearing shorts.  Now I don't want to wear shorts.  I am in denial.  I don't know how my legs got so fat--but I'm guessing that a metabolism that has come to a complete halt is part of the problem.  And I don't exercise regularly, that's for sure.  It's got me starting to look at everyone's legs, no matter how old they are, to compare mine to theirs.  

I think of how many miles I would have to run to slim down my legs; how many pump classes I have to take each week to build that muscle and burn that fat.  It's depressing.  

I have shorts from last year, but they don't fit.  They're about 4 pounds off the mark for me to wear them.  I can sit at home and ponder this for days, but the only solution is to get off my ass and work harder than I ever have to carve away at those fat legs.  I understand women are too hard on themselves and how they look.  I get that.  I can be like that, too.  But I don't think I'm being too hard on myself this time.  I wasn't hard enough before when I should have been seeing the signs of inactivity, eating too much, and aging.  

I have taken a step that is guaranteed to make me feel like a complete wimp, crabby, and teary:  an 8 week course through the YMCA that is similar to Cross-fit.  It meets 3 times a week from 5:45 AM to 6:30 AM outside.  We'll be tossing tires, working with ropes, kettle bells, and all sorts of other painful methods of exercise.  I've already paid, so I'm locked into this adventure.  It starts June 10th.  I am excited to challenge myself--and maybe this will be the thing that helps me see results and sets me on a path to better health.  

So, I still want bars in dressing rooms.  I only think that is fair.  And fix the damn lighting, will ya?  I have never looked so old and washed out in my life!

Find it here

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Where, Oh Where Did May Go? And How To Get Lost At A Race

I know.  I haven't posted in forever.  That's because my life in May was pretty uneventful.  I think the most exciting thing I did was run on the wrong course for my 5K last weekend.  Yep.  

My sister and I signed up for the Marion Arts Festival months ago to run the half marathon.  Then we realized how ill-prepared we were (as in no running/training) so we changed it to the 5K.  We could do that.  

We walk to the event last Saturday morning--it was perfect outside, but promised to be pretty warm and muggy later on in the day.  My sister lives very close to downtown Marion, so the walk only took a few minutes.  We wandered around, waiting for the start.  Can I say there were an enormous amount of people waiting to run?  Giant hordes.  The race is no long a small race, which takes a lot of the fun out of it.  I miss that about this race.  

We followed the swell of people who were walking over to another street to start the race.  Ok.  It was so loud we couldn't hear much of anything, and everyone was wearing the same race bibs, so no distinction between half marathon and 5K runners. Boom!  We are off and running.  

We ran the wrong course.  For 5 frickin' miles, people.  I hit the 3 mile mark and was waaaaay out in the middle of nowhere--not running past Walgreen's and through the finish line.  My sister had run ahead of me, so I had no idea where she was.  I figured out I was on the wrong course pretty quickly, but had no option but to keep moving forward.  I was a bit freaked out--no cell phone, no way to find my sister.  And I was pretty far from the finish line.  

I turned a corner, and saw my sister standing at the water stop.  Phew.  She was with another woman who was also on the wrong course.  A pretty cool dude at the water stop was trying to find a sag wagon to pick us up.  Guess what?  There wasn't one.  He said there were many people who had made the same mistake, so we didn't feel too stupid.  

We started walking back since there wasn't any option for a ride.  We didn't get far when a man driving a U-Haul picking up cones offered us a ride back into Marion.  We gladly accepted.  And he too, said many people had taken the wrong route.  He dropped us off near my sister's house and we walked home.  We never even made it back downtown, never crossed the finish line, never got to eat goodies afterwards.  Phooey.

I have never run on a wrong course before in a race.  The actual 5K was on the opposite side of Marion from where we ran, and started at the same time.  There were no clear directions, we couldn't hear announcements, and nothing at all in my goodie bag about course maps or instructions.  Boo.  I really think races must always include maps of the courses and information about the race in the bags we pick up for the race.  Bud has used those maps many times when he's ridden his bike along with me as I run the races.  Race officials shouldn't expect participants to print off information on the internet.  

In good news, the annual 8K race on July 4th is going to be back downtown this year, so I plan on running it--after taking the last 3 years off.  I love this race.  There was major construction in downtown Cedar Rapids for the past few years due to the 2008 flood, and streets were blocked off.  Moving the race sucked and I didn't like the new course.  It was my mini-protest.  But it's back on the old route this year, so I am happy!  I'm going to sign up!  I have one month to be able to run 5 miles.  I have work to do.  

May has been an extremely busy month, for reasons I can't share right now.  Needless to say, my reading, flower planting, and usual Spring clean up have been delayed and I'm getting antsy to move it along.  Memorial weekend I am finally going to buy flowers, get some herbs planted, and set up the back patio.  Fingers crossed the weather stays sunny and not so darn rainy.  I'm happy to report my Iris patches are all blooming lovely purple flowers.  My lavender came back and is looking great.  Peony bush is quickly getting ready to bloom lovely giant pink poofs of beauty.  

Next up:  limoncello.  It's just about ready; this weekend I am going to finish it off and fill  the bottles!  Then summer can officially begin.  And so can another batch of limoncello.

How was your May?  Crazy like mine?  What are your plans for June?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Smoothies, Mowing, and Other Non-Related Stuff

I've joined the smoothie crowd and enjoying every darn one I drink.  In trying to cut down on gluten and dairy to see if they are issues (umm...yes) I tried a gluten free protein powder called tera's whey.  You can get chocolate or vanilla, so of course I have tried both. I  usually have the blueberry/banana/strawberry smoothie combo with protein powder and water.  Very tasty smoothies--although I have to eat something with it, cause I found out the hard way it doesn't keep me full for very long--even with 2 scoops of protein powder in the mix.

Along with the smoothies, I am trying really hard to avoid pasta.  So far, I am doing a good job.  When I do eat it, I can tell and it makes me more determined to just avoid it as much as possible.  Eating lots of protein, veggies, and fruit.  

I'm making limoncello.  This has left me with a dozen lemons without peels, so I've been drinking gallons of lemon-flavored water in the past few weeks.  Two more weeks of lemon peel/vodka infusion, then I'm adding simple syrup and we have touchdown.  I'll post pictures of the lovely summer drink when I have the finished project.

Yard.  Oh God, the yard.  Mowed for the first time tonight and it was a mess.  Filled in a few holes that have mysteriously appeared over the winter, fertilized and seeded.  Flowers this year will be simple and few.  I can see I will have to go back out this week and mercilessly kill weeds.  I hope they enjoy the next few days cause they won't see the sun rise on Saturday.  

Yesterday for Cinco de Mayo I made beergaritas.  I found them on Iowa Girl Eats  and may I say they will knock you on your ass?  Granted, the lime beer is pretty harmless, but add a few shots of hard liquor to it, discover the deliciousness of this combination, and you'll find yourself feeling pleasantly buzzed after 2 drinks.  And I can attest to the fact that eating guacamole and chips while sipping these drinks won't help slow down the booze to brain train.  And I can also say that they will make your boyfriend fall asleep on the couch and be out for at least an hour.  As Bud said this morning, "That is a two-limit drink."  Amen to that.  Let's just say I had a headache this morning.  Oops.  

Mother Nature has finally blessed us with warmer temps and sunshine for many days in a row.  It's nice to go outside without a coat on, and not have the heat on at night.  I'd like to say running has been wonderful, but so many things have been going on in my little corner of the world that I haven't been doing much of it.  But, since I mowed the yard tonight, I will have time to run after work tomorrow and before I get my hair cut.  I know my hairdresser just loves me appearing all sweaty with a lovely mop on my head.  

One crappy thing about warmer weather: open windows.  Open windows and neighbors who have a small child who cries all the damn time!  Jesus!  Feed that kid something to make it sleepy.  It's up past 10pm and cries all the time.  Drives me nuts, and forces me to shut my window.  Living out in the country is looking more and more appealing to me every week.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Color Me Rad Kansas City 5K

My sister and I traveled to Kansas City a few weeks ago to run the Color Me Rad 5K with my niece Amber and nephew Shawn.  No time on this run, no mile markers; we were all too busy getting colored dye dumped on us at every color station!  Luckily sunglasses were provided--kept that dye out of my eyes.

I did, for one brief morning, have purple boobs.  Inside my bra.  My sister had blue teeth.  My niece had orange hair.  It was so much fun!  Here are some of the official photos from our morning of color:

Michelle and I after the last color station

the whole gang

Can you tell Amber is the fittest of us all?  High jump!

Amber, me, Michelle, and Shawn:  4 Gerths that run!
We promptly went to our hotel, showered ( I could not get my hands into my hair until it was completely soaked with water), then went for BBQ.  A fun weekend spent with the kiddies.  Next run up:  The Marion Arts Festival 5K on May 18th.  No color bombs in this race.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Cooking Challenge 2013: Beer Battered Fish: How I Impressed My Boyfriend With My Mad Skills

My fish looks pretty damn good

I am still on my quest to actually eat fish.  This is a very long road for me--I am not a huge fish fan and probably never will be. I like to eat things that eat grass.   Bud loves fish, and I love Bud.  So, I have been making fish every other week or so for us--but pretty much just by sticking it in the oven with some kind of topping/sauce and baking it.

This time I went crazy and got a wild hair on my day off.  I called Bud and asked him if he wanted beer battered fish for supper.  Let's just say he was a bit excited and after hanging up, I thought "Shit!  What have I got myself into this time?"  

Enter  Paula Deen.  I figured if anyone knows how to fry something, it's her.  I found her recipe on Food Network, and it's so easy I had to keep rechecking it to make sure I wasn't missing something.  Nope:  beer, flour, seasoning.  Hot oil.  Fish.  Done.

What does make this a little different from other recipes is that you dip the fish into the batter, then into flour before frying.  The flour makes it look all crispy and ridgy looking--like something you'd get at a restaurant.  

Needless to say, Bud was bowled over by the fish.  He inhaled it.  Keeping it warm in the oven worked wonders--every piece I brought out of the oven--even 15 minutes after we started eating--was piping hot and steaming.  And it stayed crunchy.  

I used malt vinegar on my fish and I liked the taste.  I will definitely have to make my own tartar sauce; the stuff I bought tasted horrible.  Ick.  

Here's another look at my first--and certainly not last--attempt at beer battered fish:  I know my mad skills don't extend to camera work, but you get the idea:

By the way, I used cod.  And I made red potatoes seasoned with butter, garlic powder, oregano, salt & pepper.  I decided we had enough fried food with the fish.  

This would also make some tasty fried chicken strips and onion rings, too.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

All This Rain is Making Me Nervous

It has been raining a ridiculous amount here in Iowa, and temps have not been anywhere near as warm as they should be.  We are permanently stuck in the upper 40's.  Sigh.  Even possible mixed snow/rain on Friday.  Really?

All this rain reminds me of the Spring of 2008 when we ended up with a devastating flood in Cedar Rapids that my city is still recovering and rebuilding from and trying to move away from those horrible memories.  We have our annual Run the Flood race in June to commemorate that awful time and all fees for the race are donated to local programs to help people who are still affected by the flood.  I didn't run this race last year, but this year I plan on doing so--it's a great race to run and my sister wants to run it this year, too.

All this rain has kept me from running outside pretty much all the time.  And when there is a nice day outside, I'm working!  Needless to say, I get the shame award for the yard that hasn't been cleaned up yet from the winter.  My  tulips and daffodils are pushing through all the junk anyway, and there is green out there.  

So what have I been doing?  Working, cleaning out that darn basement, and detrashing my house.  I have found more junk to toss that I ever even knew I had tucked away.  It's amazing what we can do without.  My method is simple: have I thought about this item at all in the last year?  No?  Then it's gone.  It's very cathartic.  

My sister and I have decided we aren't going to run the half-marathon in May.  Neither of us has been able to prepare; both of us are having leg problems--me my hamstring, her a lovely sciatic nerve issue.  Combined with the weather, it has stymied our plans.  When Michelle does run a half-marathon, I want her to be well prepared and enjoy the run.  Right now neither one of us would enjoy it at all.  I know how hard it is to run that 13.1 miles!  We're okay with this decision and instead will run shorter races this summer.  She's a single mom with 3 kids (one special needs child), two jobs, and not much time.  I admire her taking up exercise as a way to relieve stress and have some time to herself.  I feel like a slug.  I have all the time in the world, yet it seems to always be filled with projects, books, blogs, and things that keep me running around and pooped.  

So.  I do have some good news.  My other blog, was graciously awarded this lovely prize from  Can I say how much this made my day?!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

April! Yippee!! Is That Spring I Smell?

I have been reading through J.J. Virgin's The Virgin Diet and quite frankly it requires a level of commitment that I do not have right now.  But, I have learned a valuable thing from her that I will be carrying into April concerning my eating habits:

They suck.  I eat unconsciously all the time.  I eat stuff I don't even want to eat--it's there, so in it goes.  I've been running outside the past few days and it has been such a struggle.  I will admit it felt wonderful to pull out the Garmin, charge it up, and strap it on my wrist.  I told myself not to look at the time, but to look at distance.  Since I'm running around my neighborhood, I really use the Garmin just so I know how far I've gone, and how much more I have to go before I can go home.  I've been running without my iPod, since there are no sidewalks and I have to run in the streets.  It gives me a chance to listen to my breathing (Lord almighty I sound horrible!), hear birds sing, and be aware of being in that "bubble" of outsideness.  I don't know how else to describe it.  I managed to find a few streets that not only have nice inclines, but a few hills that require my legs to move past that ache.  I guess all those squats in Body Pump have helped me move past that awful burn of screaming muscles.

I've got approximately 7 weeks before my half-marathon, and have tentatively written down goals each week for long runs.  And with these goals, I'm starting tomorrow on a healthier eating schedule.  Pasta-out.  Breads--out.  Lots of veggies, hummus, eggs, and I'm going to try smoothies in the morning.  My friend C-Joy recommended a gluten-free protein powder--so of course I bought the chocolate flavor.  I really do feel that not eating so much wheat will help my guts a bit.  It's the first time I've trained for a race with the deliberate intent to cut out a lot of wheat.  We'll see if it helps keep me from the issues I've experienced before.  This is going to be so tough, but I've got nowhere to go but up.  I am also going to try really really hard to cut back on the dairy.  Occasional cheese is ok, but gosh, I so love it.  I found a recipe through Oxygen Magazine for egg muffins that looks so good!  Easy to prepare and keep ready for those quick breakfasts in the morning after workouts and before going to work.  

I'm feeling the call of Spring and am happy to be getting out, looking around, and making plans for the garden, patio, and exercise.  My life since October has felt like one long, dark, dreary event.  I am going to celebrate life and keep working on remaining optimistic for the future.  Still have those moments of absolute grief, but more and more moments of thinking of Patti with joy and smiles.  Oh, I wish she was here.  So badly.  She told me after my Savannah half-marathon that she would like to run one with me someday, so I expect her spirit to be with me in May.  I think her having wings will make her just a bit faster than me.  

Here's to daffodils, the smell of rain, and running in the great outdoors without freezing and being miserable.  Here's to driving with the window down, and grilling supper outside.  Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Where Did March Go? And Screw You Snow!

It's a common acceptance that January and February will suck in Iowa.  You get through them by laying on the couch, covered in a favorite blanket, and watch all the tv series you can on Netflix, and reading all the books you can, too.  March will come along, and by the end of the month, you're outside and coming out of your winter funk.

Not this March.  We've had more snow in March that the whole rest of winter.  And it's been cold.  I cannot bitch too much, since in late November we had weather in the 50's--which is just not normal.  I ran a Turkey Trot at the end of November in shorts and a t-shirt.  Usually everyone is bundled up.  So I accept that Mother Nature has enjoyed screwing us all over in March.  

But really, I'm done.  We are finally hitting the 50's (fingers crossed) this weekend.  I am hoping, really hoping, to get outside and run.  My training for the half-marathon in May is pathetic, and I must kick it up so many notches I have lost count of those actual notches.  Let's just say it's a lot.  I do not like running on the treadmill all that much, and I really am tired of doing that.  I like to be outside in the fresh air and sun and not smell the stinky guy on the treadmill next to me.  I am willing to just smell my own stinky self, thank you.

I've been keeping up my Body Pump class at the Y.  I do enjoy it, and I think I've been to a class with each of the women who teach it.  They're all pretty good and don't cut any slack.  I may venture into a heavier weight for my bar this week.  I'm still sore from Monday's workout.  This is good.  Those thighs aren't gonna shrink without some muscle aches.  

I really feel like March fell into a sinkhole.  It went by so fast I think I missed some of it.  And I can't say for sure what the heck I did all month.  I didn't get to read as much, and I don't know why.  It seems I have been busy, but I can't put my finger on what exactly I've been busy doing all month.  My house is a pit of paper (shredding will be a job) and my piles of books are growing.  The only thing I know I've been doing is dishes.  They never seem to stop.  

So April, I welcome you!  I will be out running no matter what the weather.  I only ask you be kind to my new running shoes and don't make it too muddy.  I'd like them to stay pretty for just a little while.  And I have a hankering for asparagus risotto.  Never made it.  And some kind of shrimp grilled and glazed.  Vague recipes floating around in my head.  

What are you planning for April?  It's almost here!  And this elusive flower will surely appear sometime soon:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fish Does Not Taste Like Chicken

Fish does not taste like chicken and that is a problem for me.  

Bud loves fish.  I do not.  As a matter of fact, it's taken me 3 years to actually be able to eat shrimp--but not any which way.  I am particular with my shrimp. I never make fish for Bud, and I feel like a cruel person--it would be like someone never having chocolate when I visit their house.  Sorta.  

Anyway, I told Bud I would try try try to eat more fish.  We bought a huge bag of frozen cod fillets since Bud decided the "mild" fish would probably be a good place for me to start.  I made it a few weeks ago, and it was ok.  I told Bud I can only eat fish if there is some kind of sauce to hide the fact that I am eating fish.  It's all a mental game for me.  Bring on the sauces!  Bud, on the other hand, is quite content eating fish with just a bit of nothing on it.  Ick.  

So my last cod recipe expedition was making a bread crumb topping with melted butter and parmesan cheese mixed in--you put it on the fish and bake it.  It tasted ok to me, and Bud liked it.  I need a bit more jazz, I'm afraid.  I resorted to eating tartar sauce, and I'm not a huge fan of that, either.  Unless it's on a McDonald's fish fillet sandwich.  Then I take the fish off and just eat the bun, cheese and tartar sauce.  It's the same stuff they put on their Big Macs, I believe.  It's tasty.  Sorry.  Regression to childhood Lenten torture.  

Anyway.  Tonight is another cod night.  I am dithering between putting a pesto on the cod, or making a mayo/mustard topping for it.  It all goes in the oven and bakes.  I am missing tomato, so I may try the pesto gig another night.  I'm thinking mayo/mustard is the way to go.  Bud could have had an asparagus and shrimp risotto tonight, if he had known that was on my mind.  Always another cod adventure around the corner...

So fish.  I don't like you.  I understand your benefits, but I still don't like you.  I prefer a lovely steak.  Or a chicken boob.  I am interested in trying fish on the grill as soon as we see some Spring in our lives.  I am going to try salmon with a teriyaki sauce on the grill.  I think I could maybe eat that--very slowly, and in small bites.  

I am even contemplating making my own beer batter and trying that out for a change.  That may very well never cease to amaze Bud.  The things we do for love.  

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Things I've Found in the Basement That Make Me Wonder About Myself

I had a goal while on vacation a few weeks ago to clean up my basement.  It's so easy to stand at the top of the stairs and just toss stuff down and forget about it.  That's the super lazy Sue that sometimes occupies my body.  The other one is horrified at my basement mess and realizes that she would feel much better and less stressed if all the crap was organized.

I got part of the basement straightened out, but more still awaits my magic touch.  Today I hit the basement briefly to make sure nothing gets wet with the large amount of rain and melting snow we have in our forecast for the next few  days.  Unfortunately, my basement does get water in it when it rains really hard, and the combination of 1.5 inches of rain on top of the large amounts of snow that are melting means I will probably get something in the basement.  What can I say?  My house is over 80 years old.  Boo.

Here's what I discovered this morning:

I have been hoarding plastic shopping bags for no reason.  I keep finding them all over--completely empty.  Needless to say, I'll be making a trip to the grocery store, where they have a barrel set up to recycle plastic bags.  What does this say about me?  Why? Why? Why?  That's all I can ask myself.  I have no clue.

I have even more books that I thought.  They are everywhere in boxes.  

I have an enormous amount of pictures just tossed in a box.  I think I need to invest in a few albums and get them organized.  The thought of this just does not fill me with any amount of excitement--not even a teeny-weeny bit.

I have taken an extreme dislike to pretty much all of my Christmas decorations.  Trying to stifle the impulse to just toss them all.  That would mean I would be stressed out trying to find stuff to decorate for Christmas in a mere 9 months!! But I can certainly get rid of the stuff I absolutely loathe.  Light up snowman snow globe?  Buh-bye.  Christmas teddy bear?  So long!

Bud and I will have to have a big enough house so we can have our own wine cellar.  I think you can understand my meaning here.  If the apocalypse ever happens, I have enough wine to keep me blissfully ignorant of it for at least a good year.  

I'll be drinking that wine and eating cans of baked beans during the apocalypse.    I have far too many and can't possibly eat them all.  I'm sure the wine will cover the taste, so I guess I'll manage okay.