Thursday, March 31, 2016

ABC Reads Challenge

It's time to link up again with Andrea and Mia for the ABC Reads Challenge!

This month I was able to knock out four letters of the alphabet: K, L, T, and U.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by Ryan Stradal

As a self-diagnosed foodie living in Minnesota, I knew this book would be right up my alley. It did not disappoint in that aspect, and I loved how each chapter was centered around a particular dish. It was a little confusing that each chapter was from a different narrator's viewpoint, although they all tied back to the "main" character of Eva. But it finally all comes together in the last chapter, and Stradal does a nice job of connecting the people, places, and dishes all together again.  
Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

This is the third installment to Riggs' "Peculiar Children" series. It is a fast read, and I really like the way that the main character, Jacob, grows and matures in this novel. He develops strength that maybe the reader didn't even think he had. The ending was kind of unexpected, but a nice way to end things and as we like to say in book club "tie it up with a nice little bow". Like the second novel though, I thought that the pictures were a little forced in this one; in the first book you get a sense that the story stems from the photos, whereas in 2 and 3 the photos still fit but feel more like an afterthought.
Troublemaker by Leah Remini 

A very interesting and insightful look into the Church of Scientology from an insider's perspective. I think Remini did a great job at portraying the church in a fair light, and expressing her views objectively. I could also really relate to Remini in her life outside the church. She is very human, despite being in the limelight and makes no attempt at trying to present herself as perfect - quite the opposite.  

The Untold by Courtney Collins

I just finished this one, and I'm not really sure where I stand with it yet. I only gave it 3 stars in Goodreads because while I thought it was a good read (no pun intended), and well written, it didn't just grab me like I wanted it to. Also, it's told from the point of view of a dead baby. Uhm...that's a little hard to grasp. So I don't think I'd be recommending it to any women who I know has lost a child. The author explains this choice at the end of the book, so I won't delve into that here, but it's still something a reader may take issue with.

I have a feeling my reading is going to slow wayyyy down with my new job and just life in general. We'll see what next month brings me!

What did you read this month? Link up and tell us!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Life Lately

Oh my goodness guys. Life lately - craziness. Pure craziness. It took me three tries to spell "craziness" correctly; that's how life has been lately.

The most exciting thing in this week? I started a new job! Hip Hip Hooray! I am officially an "Information Specialist II" for the county, or less officially but more accurately - records clerk for the Sheriff's office.

Watch out now, mama's got connections.


This has actually been in the work for nearly two months. TWO MONTHS. Yes, that's correct. I interviewed and was offered the job on February 9th. However, the background check process is apparently sufficient to get me into the White House or something, so that took forever. But I got a call on Monday morning saying that everything was good and all systems go, so when could I start? I asked to start after Easter since Emily's daycare was closed on Good Friday and will be closed tomorrow, but they wanted me sooner. Like, the very next day, sooner.

So in the span of 24 hours, I found myself fully employed again. Like with a real paycheck and real benefits. Oh my goodness, it's amazing!

I like the job so far; although I'm still at the point where I don't know what I don't know. You know? It's a small office, and my supervisor and coworkers are really nice. The Sheriff and all the deputies (and...others...I still have to learn the designations and who's who) are all really friendly and helpful. I think it's going to be great!

It's been an adjustment getting back into the swing of things. Honestly, I was getting really good at being unemployed. Fitting all my "stuff" into the few hours I have after work has been a challenge!

On top of that, we celebrated Easter last night with our family. Due to some schedule conflicts, Saturday worked best to have Easter dinner, which was nice since then we could go to our own church this morning for Easter. Plus, we went to Easter brunch. Fun!

Happy Easter!

The rest of the day has consisted of napping and generally feeling stuffed. I always eat too much at buffets.

I will attempt to keep up some sort of regular blogging, but no promises. This job where I actually have to do things when I'm there is taking up a lot of my time, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Cheers to new adventures!

 How are you celebrating Easter? How do you fit everything in during the week?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Fitness Friday

Saturday - I ran outside. Outside! Only 4 miles, but it was so nice to not run on the treadmill. My foot was feeling good overall, although occasional discomfort when I had to take a left turn and put more weight on the inside of that foot. But I'm happy with progress, albeit very sloooooow progress. It still gets stiff and sore with lack of activity, so it's usually feeling 100% in the evenings. Mornings are always stiff and sore - and I'm a morning runner. Come on body, get it together.

After my run, I hopped on my bike for about 30 minutes. This was a little unbearable at first. Right before I left for my run, I smacked my knee really hard on the corner of our mudroom bench. It was fine while I was running, but cycling hurt. A lot. I thought about stopping, but after 5 minutes or so the pain wore off (or my knee went numb), and I decided to stick it out.

Sunday - Sort of a rest day. I did get in about 30 minutes of pilates, focusing on the booty. But it wasn't a very tough workout.

Monday - I take that back. My hamstrings are sore! I ran 3 miles on the treadmill, averaging 10:01, and the hammy's were fine for that. Then I started my pilates workout for the day - mostly fine since it was total body day, but any time we did a butt exercise my hamstrings let me know they were unhappy! End result? Dead legs.

The positive was that my foot felt fine for the run and most of the time afterwards. But after some inactivity, it gets sore again. Who do I contact about a foot transplant? Scientist are making that happen, right?

Tuesday - Dog tired today - I think due to allergies as all our snow is melting and pollen is being set free from the ice tundra. So I took it nice and slow on the bike this morning. Foot is feeling pretty good today, although I didn't do much. I skipped pilates today -supposed to be ab day but I was sore in that general area from some of the moves yesterday. So we'll just consider today half a rest day.

Wednesday - Last night was kind of rough: waking up multiple times sweating, body aches, and feeling like dirt when the alarm went off. So I decided a true rest day was very needed, and I did nothing. It also happened to be a snow day, so I just enjoyed spending the day with my girl and getting a nice nap in.

Thursday - I felt so much better this morning! Plus, I woke up raring to go because I had an all day thing for the United Way, and I wanted to get in a run before hand. 3 easy miles on my treadmill at 1% incline in 30:11. My foot is feeling a lot better, although I still get a stiff/sore feeling with a lot of inactivity. Usually those quick PT moves shake it out in a few minutes.

Friday - I have a busy day planned of catch-up housework, laundry, etc., so I woke up early to do Pilates. I'm kind of off the schedule since I missed a few days when I wasn't feeling well, so I decided to do the HIIT day workouts from yesterday. 34 minutes and 283 calories later, I was one sweaty mess! Love it.

Tomorrow is a true test for my injury - 6 miles on the schedule. I plan on going to my running group for the first time in over a month.  A lot of them are training for a full marathon, so I may be on my own after 3 miles when I turn back for home but that's ok. I'm just hoping it goes well!

What's on your schedule for the weekend? What's your favorite way to burn some quick calories?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Snow Day Shenanigans

When I saw the Wednesday Word this week for Deb's weekly link-up, I thought "oh, that's perfect!"

You see, we woke up to this:

Boo! Hiss!

Snow. Snow upon snow. I know what you're thinking - "Alison, you live in Minnesota. How is this newsworthy?" Well, we had been enjoying lovely spring weather with temps in the 50's. All of our snow was gone. So getting this much snow is just annoying and obnoxious. The fact that they also cancelled school...shenanigans!

So what do you do with an unplanned snow day?

Well, we get all dressed up for no reason.

We watched cartoons for a bit, then decided to make cookies. Naturally. Except I had less than a cup of sugar in the house. However, I found this recipe for Maple Brown Sugar Cookies - I have lots of brown sugar! Who knows why, but I do.

This is my "not smiling" face

The dough needed to chill for a few hours. So in the meantime, we played dress-up and I gave Em a makeover.

Uhm, hello daughter. You can stop growing up now.

After lunch and naps for both Mom & daughter, we finished making those cookies and played a few rousing games of ABC Go Fish. This game is fantastic for preschool aged kids, and Em is really starting to get a handle on her letters.
Enough with the camera Mom!

Then, we finally enjoyed a cookie!

Whoa bedhead!

Now we're watching Beauty & the Beast, and I've got dinner going in the crockpot. Because really, who doesn't like having the crock pot going on a cold, snowy day?

How do you spend snow days? What does "Shenanigans" make you think of?

Link up and tell us about it!

Deb Runs

Monday, March 14, 2016

Monday Musings

Hello dear blog readers. I don't have much to talk about today, so you get my rambling thoughts.

Daylight Savings time was kind of a PITA this year. Normally, it's not a big deal, but Emily was just not having it this year.

We woke up "early" to go to church, and by lunchtime she was a basket case. She started crying while I was making lunch, and when I asked her what was wrong she said that she missed Grandma's "dead bunny". Uhm...ok. I can tell you ZERO facts about this bunny. I think it was a living thing that Em may have seen a few times, but I can't tell you color, age, or even when it died. So I tried comforting her by saying that I missed it too, but now it's in Heaven and very happy there. That seemed to subside the tears for a few minutes.

Fast forward to 5 minutes later. Emily is now in her chair awaiting my gourmet lunch of chicken nuggets and peas (hey, it's not alway 5 star in my kitchen, cut me some slack).

Cue the water works. Full on sobbing, buggers, everything. When I asked her what was wrong, she had no idea. Just shrugged.

I am a woman, and I totally understand just needing to cry every once in awhile. I get that. But I'm learning that being on the other end of it is not fun, and slightly frustrating. She just had to cry it out, and then she ate her lunch with minimal tears involved.

Then, my friends, she crashed. Praise the Lord for naptime!

Sadly, we're on the tail end of the nap era. Not many days include naps for my girl anymore. But Sunday? We napped! For 2+ hours! She eventually came downstairs and told me she was done sleeping, which is perfectly fine by me since she was in a much better mood at this point. The rest of our day went by with no drama, and I got my happy girl back again.

This morning, she was slighly groggy but overall in good spirits.

Crazy bedhead for Em, post-run hair for me, but we're happy!

How did your household weather Daylight Savings this year? Did everyone make it out alive?

Friday, March 11, 2016

Fitness Friday

Hello and Happy Friday! Things are looking up in the Northland - warmer temps, the snow is melting, and my foot injury is feeling better!

Saturday - 3 easy miles on the treadmill - with almost no pain! There was some slight discomfort every now and then, but I'd say 95% of this run was good! A little stiffness/soreness in the ankle area afterward though. I also did 30 min on the bike right after, just to get in a good amount of cardio. Maybe a duathalon is in my future!

Sunday - Today was supposed to be butt day with the Blogilates calendar, but my hamstrings were bugging me so I swapped for Monday's total body schedule.

Monday - Another easy 3 miles on the treadmill, still feeling pretty good. I put the incline up to 1% so my legs don't forget how to run outside (the incline is supposed to help mimic the propelling you do when outside vs. inside on the belt of the treadmill). More stiffness/soreness after this run. My hamstrings felt better today, so pilates butt & ab work.

Tuesday - Technically a bike day, but I wasn't feeling the bike after spending so much time with it lately. So I did a pilates cardio workout followed by the 1000 ab challenge. When I read the title of this video, I thought surely Cassey was exaggerating ad we would not be doing 1000 different ab moves. Surely. But oh no, it's legit. 10 moves, 100 reps of each = 1000 ab moves. Ugh! I made it through, although I may have cheated with the Eagle Ab move a little. I just did them really fast to get them over with. I haaaate Eagle Abs.

I don't know why she calls it that, but it is so hard for me.  You basically bring your elbow and knee together, over and over, but this move is so tough! Anyway, I did all 1000 and I'm pretty darn proud of myself.

Wednesday - I thought I'd be really sore from all the ab work yesterday, but I felt good! Cobra pose is great to stretch out the abs, and I think that really helped my abs from tightening up. So this morning I hopped on the treadmill for another easy 3 miles. My foot felt ok - a little sore for the first mile or so and slowly working itself out. Not as sore afterward as on Monday, but still not perfect. I also did the Blogilates leg workouts on the calendar for today. There was a cardio workout in the beginning that had some jumping in it, which I think aggravated my foot more than running. Gotta keep an eye on that. But I wanted to make sure I burned some extra calories because of our date night!

Thursday - Easy 3 miles on the treadmill, but with no pain! I bought a pair of Superfeet insoles on the recommendation of one of my coaches, and I really think it helped! There were a few moments where my foot kind of reminded me that it's still not perfect, but never any actual pain. I feel so encouraged by this run! I also did about 30 min of Blogilates' PIIT workouts - pilates intense interval training.I was so over single leg lunge jumps by the end; no more, no more!

Friday - An easy 45 minutes on my bike this morning. Old buddy, old pal. Gotta get in that recovery work!

How's the weather by you? Is it warming up?

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Fire and...Snow?

Last night Travis and I finally got to go celebrate our anniversary in Duluth. "Finally" being 3 days later, but I was so excited by our plans!

After spending a few hours doing some shopping and browsing at the "big" mall (read: it has more than 7 stores like our hometown mall), we went to dinner at the Black Waters Lounge. A fun place that usually has live music, typically a jazz trio, it's lots of cozy tables and dark lighting to set the mood. It's restaurant week, so they had a set menu that included lobster bisque or roasted pear salad, a choice of 3 entrees, and a dessert. We also got some fancy cocktails since they have a pretty unique menu - and we were early enough for happy hour! $5 martinis? Yes please!

After dinner we went to Lake Superior Art Glass for a class on making wine goblets. So cool!

I wasn't really sure what I expected, but I guess I didn't actually think that we would be doing the torching and spinning and parts that involved fire. I was a little intimidated about the process, and a little nervous since I was not 100% sober after our dinner cocktails!

I made Travis go first, so I could review the process while he was doing it. The two instructors, Dan & Sam, were incredibly helpful during the whole process. Honestly though, you can't mess this up. Just keep spinning, and if it feels like the glass is getting out of control, you just pull it out of the flame. It cools in like 5 seconds, so there's really no way that you can drop hot, molten glass on the floor, or yourself, or wherever.

We got to pick our colors for the stem of the wine glass, and they had premade the bowl & foot for each glass since that is really the hard part. I chose a sparkly light green, a really pale lavender that is supposed to show it's color in the sunlight, and then a dark purple (or maybe cobalt - not sure yet!) for my stem. I was very pleased with how it turned out!

We had to leave the glasses there overnight. After we finished our stems, one of the instructors connected it to the bowl & foot and then it goes in the kiln overnight to set. I can't wait to see the finished product! Since we don't live nearby, they will ship them to us, so it'll be a few days before we get them.

When we left, it had just started snowing. By the time we were driving out of Duluth, which is known for being on a hill, it was like a complete white out! Thankfully we were able to get out of town by just going slow, and a few miles out of Duluth the snow had completely stopped. But it was hairy for a little while there!

Have you ever taken a glass blowing class? Do you get nervous driving in inclement weather?

Monday, March 7, 2016

A little mush for your Monday

Yesterday marked 7 years of wedded bliss for Travis and I!

Well, it hasn't all been bliss, but the good times outweigh the bad times and that's all that matters.

We're planning on actually celebrating this Wednesday, so more to come on that. I don't want to give too much of it away, but I'm pretty excited!

I did get some lovely flowers and a sweet card. I know a lot of people are not into cards, but I am. Especially from my man who is not always very vocal about his feelings. He writes the best stuff in his cards. :o)

But for the most part, we just had a nice, relaxing day!  

Are you a fan of cards for special occasions?

Friday, March 4, 2016

Fitness Friday

Happy Friday!

Saturday  - 90 minutes on the indoor bike. Thank God for Netflix. Also? My butt was so sore. By the end it was taking all I had to stay on the bike and finish the ride out. I'm thinking I need to invest in padded shorts or something. I already have a gel cover on the seat, so I'm not sure what more I can do!

Sunday - Pilates booty day. I kind of love it! I threw in a short obliques workout too, just 3 minutes, because I felt like the Blogilates February calendar was kind of skimping in that area.

Monday - Today I did 45 min on the bike, then 30 minutes of pilates - a quick cardio/fat burning workout followed by some abs and back stuff. Also, obliques are sore! Proof that I haven't been working them enough lately. But it's a good sore.

I also made the decision to downgrade from the Fargo full marathon to the half. I'm kind of bummed about the whole thing but the way my injury is still bugging me, I just don't feel confident that I'll be ready for 26.2 miles by mid-May. I'm ok with putzing my way through a half, and maybe treating it more like a training run than an actual race, but I can't do that for a full. So fingers crossed that I'll actually be able to run a half by May!

Tuesday - Pilates HIIT & ab workout, about 30 minutes. Feel the burn! The best news is that I had an appointment with the orthopedic doctor, and he doesn't think I have posterior tibial tendonitis! He thinks I injured my peroneus longus at the insertion point on the inside of my foot. He did a pressure point test, and I kind of wanted to punch him when he hit that spot. Mystery solved! It makes total sense though, since that's the issue I've been dealing with since October. I didn't know that that tendon ran under the foot and into the inside, but apparently it does.

We're going to do orthotics to get my feet in the right spot function wise as he said I have "the worst feet he's ever seen on a 31 year old". Lovely. He also gave me a little PT move to do that feels like magic. The best news: I can start running again! Easy, and probably best on my treadmill for awhile, but running is running!

Wednesday - Despite getting the ok to run from my doc, I figured I'd be kind to my body and do a few more days of the bike and PT exercises before easing back into running. So 55 minutes of cycling this morning, followed by pilates leg day.

Thursday - My foot was feeling like 100% on Wednesday evening, so I thought I'd give it a whirl on the treadmill for an easy 3 mile run...and it hurt. It was stiff in the morning, but I did the little PT stretch the doc gave me, and it was feeling good! I did 5 min of walking to warm-up, then started cruising at around 5mph. Not fast by any stretch of the imagination. But there was still some strain in the inside of my foot. It actually started to feel better about 1.5 miles in, but afterward and for the rest of the day it's been on and off sore. Mostly up into my ankle, which is kind of different. Also, frustrating as hell.

I also did a 28 min PIIT (Pilates Intense Interval Training) workout. What a work out! I ended up taking 2 showers today. Lesson learned. 

Friday - Pilates arms & back. March started a new calendar on Blogilates, and Cassie switched up some of the days we do certain body parts, so even though I already did arms & back this week...I'll do them again.

Well, at the end of the week I still feel like I'm in no-man's land with whatever is going on with my foot/ankle. I told my husband that I think maybe my doctor was wrong and doesn't know what he's talking about. He laughed and said that that's what all his clients say. He works with disabled people, some due to mental health reasons. I'm not sure if he was taking a pot shot at me or what. I don't know if I should continue to try to run, or go back to the bike and continue to rest it.

Or maybe I should just throw in the towel, eat a bucket of ice cream and call it a day. That's sounding pretty good at this point...

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Super Tuesday!

Super Tuesday! Say it like you're introducing a super hero - it sounds so much cooler!

Normally I am not "up" on politics. I watch the news occasionally, and I'm interested in the potential candidates, but I'm more of a primaries type of voter.

This year, however, things are...a little crazy. I think whether you're a Republic or a Democrat, we can all agree that there's a full moon or something over the 2016 election. To say the least, it's caught my attention.

With Minnesota being a caucus state, I felt like I should maybe get in on the action. In my old age of 31, I lean more towards the Republican side of things, so that's the caucus I went to. You do not have to register with a party in Minnesota, so I could have gone to either. Some people joked about leaving right after they voted, and going to the Democrat caucus since it was right across the street.

Our caucus was held at the community college last night. I got there about a half hour early, and it's a good thing I did! I heard one of the volunteers say that they only had about 30 name tags, and there were well over 150 people there. Apparently my city does not typically have a huge voter turn out!

They had tables sectioned off for each precinct, and our table quickly grew into three tables, and then some. At 7 o'clock, they did some introductions, we said a prayer and the pledge of allegiance, and then our tables were kind of left to vote. I will say that I am disappointed that there was not more discussion. Well, there was plenty of discussion about who we didn't want to vote for (hint: think comb-over), but not much on the qualities of the other candidates. Once you turned in your vote, you could leave. I decided to stick around to hear the results. I was disappointed with our particular results, but happy enough with the state results. Let's leave it at that.

The exciting thing is that I was chosen as a delegate to go to our County Republican Convention. I get the honor of paying $25 to go, but I think it'll be interesting, and rumor has it that they serve us lunch. So I better start reading up on the candidates!

I think this year, more than ever, it is so important that everyone votes. Regardless of who you think will do a good job or where your party affiliations lie. Ok, well I would be lying if I didn't say that I think it's important for those that are NOT voting for Trump to get out and vote. But, it's a free country, so....go vote!

Does your state caucus? Did you go?