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31 January 2012

31/365

I'm attempting to make homemade sweet milk vodka. It requires equal parts vodka, sugar, and whole milk. And a bit of orange for citrus. I used some cheap vodka in case it all turns out to be crap, and then I'm only out about $8. (When I saw that vodka comes that cheap, I laughed out loud in the ABC.)

I'll let you know how it turns out it about 10 days. 

DIY Liquor Night

30 January 2012

30/365 and a running fail

Today was my first day back running after a 12-day hiatus. I haven't worked out PERIOD in 12 days. Between a tweaked knee and a stomach virus and being out of town, I haven't been able to exercise at all.  Finally, today, the weather was nice, my knee felt better, I've been eating normally for a few days, and I was tweaking out a bit from pent up energy. I went home straight away after a too-long meeting at work, grabbed the dog, and headed out.

I very quickly discovered that my 12-day-break has completely depleted my endurance. I could barely run for more than 3 minutes at a stretch. I worked through it, but I was pretty disappointed.  I'm hoping it was just me getting back into the swing of things and that things go better tomorrow. 

At least I had something pretty to look at while I ran ...

Sunset while running

29 January 2012

My new go-to relaxation spot

I spent this weekend in Annapolis with the cousin and his wife. I officially love going to visit them, and, despite my initial hesitation about Annapolis, Annapolis has become one of my favorite places to visit. There are a few different reasons why I enjoy it so much, but mainly I always have a great time there. And now, whether the cuz and his wife like it or not, they are stuck with me. :)

1.) Annapolis is close enough for a weekend away but far enough so that I can forget all about home and the stuff there. It only takes about 4 1/2 hours to get there (when traffic is ideal), and I'm able to completely bypass DC traffic. It's a super easy drive, and, since I love driving, it works out well.

2.) The cousin and his wife are awesome. Well, the wife is more awesome, but the cousin isn't so bad. This weekend, the wife made brownies at 9 at night simply because we wanted them. And before that she made an amazing dinner of fish and mushrooms and asparagus. It was awesome.

3.) Visiting the cousin means drinking and usually drinking a lot. This weekend, we were in the pubs by 10:30 on Saturday morning. We indulged steadily for the rest of the day, and, surprisingly, I went to bed totally sober. Which was a very weird experience, but whatever. We also made vodka gummy bears (which were awesome!), smoked cigars, drank whiskey, and played parchesi (or however its spelled).

4.) Crepes. Going to Annapolis means going to this amazing little crepe shop down by the water. It is ridiculous. I had a banana and peanut butter and granola and honey crepe this morning. Wow. The cousin had a reuben crepe, and the wife had something with sausage and cheese and egg and avocado. By all reports, they were amazing. I want to go back to Annapolis EVERY WEEKEND just to have one. Yum.

5.) Speaking of yum, I had two firsts this weekend end. I enjoyed my very first Irish coffee on Saturday morning followed by an amazing bowl of tomato whiskey soup. Wow. First, the Irish coffee. I hate coffee. I like the smell of it, but I've never liked the flavor. But add a some whiskey, brown sugar, and heavy cream and the coffee suddenly turns palatable. VERY palatable. The whiskey tomato soup was the best soup I've ever eaten. It was chunky and creamy and had the most amazing flavors. I've found a recipe online and will DEFINITELY be trying it out in the near future.

6.) Annapolis is pretty. And quaint. And I always take pictures while I'm there. In fact, I have some from this trip, but I haven't offloaded them from my camera yet, so they are forthcoming. Hopefully I'll get them posted tomorrow. We'll see. For now, I need to go to bed. It's been a long weekend, and tomorrow morning is approaching far too quickly.

29/365

Basking in the sun after her kennel banishment.

25 January 2012

25/365

I LOVE driving. Especially on such beautiful days. 

Set backs and frustrations

I've run into a snag with my run training. (Pun intended)

Last Wednesday, I tweaked my knee. When I tried to run through it on Thursday (dumb move), it got worse. I was halfway into my run, and it felt like I had been shot in the knee cap. And, of course, being halfway into the run meant walking the rest of the way home. Which only confirmed how badly my knee hurt. And now it's hurt consistently every day since. Not an unbearable pain, but an annoying pain that seems to be lingering longer than it should. Because it's not 100% yet, I haven't run on it since.

And, if I hadn't been dealing with a banged up knee, I've been dealing with a messed up stomach. The stomach flu has been circulating school like wildfire. I've got a touch of it, and started feeling like crud last Friday. I never got the full blown sickness, but I've had zero appetite for about five days now. For anyone who knows me at all, you know I LOVE food. I've always had a healthy appetite, probably too healthy which is why I need to exercise to keep a consistent weight. But, for the past five days, I've consumed about 500 calories a day. And I've had to force myself to eat that much. Food just looks completely uninviting. And that makes me sad.

Yesterday I started to feel a little better in the afternoon, and I made myself a nice healthy smoothie with spinach and yogurt and fruit and some protein powder. I followed it an hour later with a piece of bread. And then I realized that I wasn't feeling it. I didn't get sick, but I didn't feel so hot. I'm definitely staying hydrated with lots of water and tea, but I'm feeling the effects of my newly decreased diet. I'm tired all the time, and I've lost about 5 pounds since Thursday. No real nutrition = no energy = no working out. I haven't had any exercise since last Thursday, and I'm getting jittery and anxious as a result. I have a physical scheduled for tomorrow morning (my first in over three years. Yeah, I know that's bad.), and they'll be taking blood work. Maybe they'll see something to explain this. Or maybe it is just the adult strain of the stomach bug.

I'm going out to eat tonight (my favorite ... Mexican!), and I'm hoping I'll be inspired to eat something. Maybe I'll get my appetite back over margaritas.

I just want to eat!!

23 January 2012

23/365

She's willful. Refuses to lay her head on her soft bed.
Prefers the hard bricks instead. 

20 January 2012

20/365

Spontaneous fan club creation by my students -
I love how they make me feel so loved.

17 January 2012

The wait

I spent Saturday with old friends in the 'boro. My girlfriend May* from Ithaca-by-way-of-the-'boro-by-way-of-NY came down for the weekend to celebrate her recent spontaneous nuptials. I made the drive over to the 'boro on a beautiful afternoon and it was totally worth it. I didn't get to see all the people I wanted to, but I got to spend some amazing QT with May and Jack.

May and I are a funny story. We actually grew up in the very same town just a few years apart. She attended high school with some of my older cousins (and possibly my brother?), and, since I transferred to a different high school in the 10th grade, we never knew each other. When I moved to Greensboro and started RCIA, May was in class. We both liked the Red Sox and loved Ithaca, so we became fast and instant friends.

During our friendship, May had a long run of bad luck. She just couldn't seem to catch a break. She has the most genuine heart and loving spirit, but it truly seemed that the world was conspiring against her. Nothing ever seemed to be easy for her or to go her way. She eventually migrated to NYC to see if things would be better there. I missed her, but things just weren't happening for her in the 'boro.

After she moved, things were still rough but they also got better. Most significantly, she met Jack. From the moment she met him, her Facebook posts and general outlook seemed to improve. This man brought something into her life that she had been missing: a cheerleader, a caring companion, a strong supporter to help her through the hard times. Even though I only met him this past weekend, I knew I already loved him. He gave her something that she so richly deserved and needed, and he gave it freely and lovingly. And that, my friends, earns major points in my book. Of course, hard times still happen for May and Jack, but she's not longer facing it alone. And that alone makes it easier.

And, most importantly, she's happy.

Happier than I've ever seen her. And it's a wonderful feeling to see someone you care so much about find "it."

I sometimes get beaten down by life and wonder what the hell it's all for. So many people have to struggle so hard to get such meager rewards. The inequity that I observe daily can be so frustrating and disheartening. I'm blessed enough to not have to face such hard things on a regular basis, but my heart bleeds for those who do. And I'm amazed that people can continue on through all the struggle and heartbreak. But May and Jack reminded me that the old cliche is indeed true: Good things come do to those who wait. And May waited a long time. And her reward is all the more rich because of her wait.

It melts my heart to see her happy and fulfilled. Even the hard times now don't seem so hard for her. She has someone in her corner. And I couldn't be happier for her.


*Names have been changed to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent. ;-)

17/364

Yep. My torn cuticle hurts that much.
Sometimes the right band-aid DOES make it better. 

15 January 2012

15/365

Glass lace

The value of water

My 5k training has been going swimmingly except for one little hiccup in the plan.

Staying hydrated.

I know water is essential for your body, especially so when working out. Even Shannon warned me about it when I started this whole thing. I try to drink as much as possible, but I sometimes forget to keep my water bottle filled and close at hand. Thursday I experienced what happens without water first hand.

I had my morning tea on Thursday but never really drank again all day. When I went to Zumba that night, my muscles started to cramp up just a little. I left class halfway through and decided to get my run in. Ten minutes into my run, my legs cramped so bad I could barely walk. It wasn't goof. And I was pist and felt like an idiot because it was both 100% preventable and 100% my fault.

So I learned my lesson. Water, water, water. Ever since Thursday, I have been drinking water like no one's business! When I ran yesterday with girlfriends, I was fully hydrated and feeling good. And I had no cramping at all.

Lesson learned.

08 January 2012

5k Training - Week #1

So, I've been roped in to running a 5k in March. It all started when I decided to start running and then Q's Momma wanted to train for a 5k. And, because we support each other that way, I'm in training with her. This was the first of training, and it, surprisingly, went really well. I worked in my training around my existing fitness schedule, and I feel good.

The training this week was an easy one: Walk 4 minutes, run 2. Repeat 6 times, three times a week. Q's Momma and I did two on the treadmill and one outside. The two on the treadmill directly followed kickboxing and Zumba, and I wasn't nearly as exhausted as I thought I would be after two hours of cardio. On Saturday, the GNO ladies all got together to run around the lake. It went well other than being cold and making my lungs hurt. But it was good.

This week its a 3 minute walk, 3 minute run cycle, again repeating 6 times, three times a week. I'm actually looking forward to getting out there tomorrow after work and getting some fitness in. I'm not sure what happened to me this year, but something certainly has.

Countdown to the 5k = 61 days

8/365

Christmas is officially over when Cecilia is naked again.

07 January 2012

05 January 2012

5/365

This is what you get when you combine and adorable child
and blueberries.

04 January 2012

4/365

My tree is still up and decorated.
It's not Epiphany.
I have until Friday. 

03 January 2012

3/365

After 60 minutes of kickboxing and 30 minutes of a run/walk, I deserved this.
My world-famous stove-top popcorn.
With butter.
And salt.
Mmmmmmmmmm ...

02 January 2012

2/365

These are magic shoes. They make me want to run.

A funny thing happened at the start of the New Year ...

I ran.

Me. The one who always say, "I wouldn't run if someone was chasing me." Yeah. I ran. Willingly. And no one was chasing me. I don't know what came over me. But, me running isn't the most shocking part.

I actually enjoyed it.

And then did it again today. And it felt good.

Unbelievable, I know. Right?!

Let me explain myself ...

In an effort to keep up with my "continue to get fit" resolution, I took The Beast for a walk yesterday. I did the regular loop (which is about 4 miles) because it was so gloriously pretty out. About a mile into the walk, I said to myself, "I'm going to jog to that intersection." I don't know how far the intersection was, but I picked up my pace, shortened B's leash, and did it. A little while later, I did it again. And then ... again. And then, when I was near home, I did it a fourth time. And the last time was the longest and hardest that I ran. I was pretty impressed. And then I was convinced that I would be paralyzed this morning when I woke up.

But I wasn't.

So, today, I did it again.

I went to the gym, hopped on the treadmill, and started my exercise. I didn't run the entire time, but I did set mini challenges for myself. I would pick a song with a good beat and make myself run until the end of of it. I ran through a few different U2 songs, some David Grey, and part of an LMFAO song (don't judge me on my musical choices). From what I was actually keeping track of, I ran a 4:10 segment, a 5:00 segment, and a 4:10 segment. I didn't keep track of the other segments. But I've never run for 5 minutes at one time in my entire life. My ENTIRE life. And it felt good. And I was proud of myself. And I'm going to do it again! Not tomorrow because that's kickboxing, but definitely on Wednesday.

I've realized a few things about why I've always hated running. First, I wasn't running in my natural stride. I was taking steps that were far too short for my natural gait which made my shins hurt terribly. Second, I'm currently in the best shape I've been in in probably ever. So I can actually breathe when I'm running. Third, I was being too critical of running in general. It's actually not that bad.

So, now Q's Momma and I are going to start working towards a 5k in the fall. I know that's only just over 3 miles, but I would be amazingly proud of myself if I could get to that point. And I'd start to get a runner's body which is highly desirable. :)

01 January 2012

1/365

Vinho Verde

Mandatory New Year's Post

I hate New Year's. It's a bit like Valentine's Day. A made up holiday to give people a reason to get dressed up, go out to expensive dinners, stay up late, and act like idiots. But, what makes it better than Valentine's Day is that the next morning, everyone gets to start over from scratch again. After all, it's a new year! Time for changes, right? There are resolutions to make (and subsequently break), right? Happy New Year!

But, because I'm a good sport, I play along. I do make resolutions each January 1st, but I also make them at various other times of the year as well. I think that any changes worth making can be made at any time. And, in fact, they should be. Waiting for a special occasion to make a change in your life isn't the best strategy for success. But, because everyone else is doing it, so will I. Here goes ...

- This is going to be the Year of MaryBeth. It's the Year of the Dragon, and I think that is fitting for me this year. Chinese tradition cites the dragon as a doer who gets things done. It's also closely associated with wisdom and power. I'm focusing on me this year. I'm going to work at doing what I want and need and following my heart more. I'm going to make decisions that make me happy and fulfilled. I'm going to say "no" more often; but, at the same token, I'm going to say "yes" more often as well. I'm going to work on setting some boundaries because, let's face it, that is definitely a weak spot for me.

- Part of focusing on me is also focusing on things I love to do, namely photography. I'm going to get back into my photo-a-day routine, and, hopefully, I can go more than just a few months!

- I'm also going to continue getting fit and healthy. I made great progress last spring and have maintained that success. But, I want to kick it up a notch and keep it rolling. I can fit into my high school prom dress (it's just a little snug, but it zips completely!), and I plan to wear it out somewhere special by the end of the year. Perhaps next New Year's but hopefully before that.

- I also plan to spend next New Year's in a different time zone, and, hopefully, a different country. I haven't worked out the details on that one yet, but I've got a few months to think about it.

- And, of course, I will finish my dissertation in the coming year. Well, perhaps not finish, but be prepared to submit and defend by the spring semester 2013. That's just over a year away.

2011 has been an "eh" year. Not horrible, but certainly not amazing. I travelled a lot (New Orleans, New England, Ireland, Annapolis, Florida ...) which always makes me happy, but it also made my travel bug itch all the more. I've made some close bonds with people in my life and walked away from others. I've laughed a lot, cried a lot, and I've been angry or hurt more than I would like to be. 2012 will hopefully have a lot more laughter and a lot less anger and tears.

So, here's to 2012. Cin cin!

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