The Run-Up and Vent Out

Saturday is 10K race day! Thank you very, very much to the folks that have kindly supported me in my fundraising for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. I'm up to $355!! Completely terrific!Now, just an afterthought, and maybe a bit of sour grapes, to express how I am a little perplexed and frustrated over those who didn't even toss a few coins my way.

This is to the co-workers. The co-workers who post cookie dough, girl scout cookie, Christmas wreath, wrapping paper, chocolate and pre-prepared food fund-raising flyers about the office. And *every time* I get a little something, as a gesture of support for the soccer team, band, scouts, or school activity. I think I have three kinds of cookie dough coming my way...for the two of us at home. And just one* of you has supported me in my race! (Ironically, a person whose kids are too small to be fund-raising just yet.) This may be my Carrie Bradshaw moment, in the episode where she is taken aback in frustrated wonder when the friend for whom she's bought numerous gifts (engagement, bridal shower, wedding, and babies x3) refuses to help her replace a pair of shoes taken/stolen by another guest at the friend's party.

It's not something I'll mention aloud, since it seems a little mean-spirited to the girl scouts...but in the space of my blog, I wanted to vent a little. Raising money for HIV care (which we all work on) seems just as legit as the band's trip to Disney or the new football uniforms.

I know giving isn't about expecting something in return, but I want to live in a world where we reciprocate the kindness we receive from others. Like walking through double doors and holding the door open for the person who just did that for you.

I guess I have six miles on Saturday to pound out the (possibly petty) anger.

*Sura, you count as a friend now, not co-worker. And thank you for your contribution. :) Thank you everyone, again!!

Chicago: Cuter by ~11 Months for a Weekend

Philadelphia's cutest citizen (JUNE!) came to visit Chicago last weekend, accompanied by her handlers, Juliet and Hugh. Here she is enjoying the ride down Lake Shore Drive to the Shedd Aquarium. We'd never been to the Aquarium before, which now seems shameful. Even the adults were amazed by the exhibits that bring you into the native habitats of the fish and creatures, whether it's Pacific Northwest or Philippines. June seemed to like the fish too, particularly the dolphins. (That's not a dolphin, obviously.)

Over the weekend at home she disrupted our cats' toys and beds, gnawed on our kitchen utensils and cardboard, had us down on the floor acting goofy, and was a very pleasant, well-behaved little girl. Mom, Dad, and baby were also very considerate that us non-parents are accustomed to sleeping in on the weekends. Here she is bopping around the kitchen in her jammies.
June is welcome back whenever she'd like to come visit. (I'm told she earned her flying wings with excellent plane behavior too!) So cute! Thanks for coming to visit Juliet, Hugh & June. We love you all so much!

Dandy

This is just dandy, I love the hip vibe and decor. I also know I will never have the free time to work something like this up.

Brilliant

Inventors are a wacky bunch. You wonder how they dream up the little ideas that could someday make them rich... or end up in the bins at the 99 Cent Store.

Sometimes I look at something and just can't help but think, "BRILLIANT! I need this right now."

Right now, because upstairs a rumpled duvet sits on our bed with its corners staging a family reunion by bunching up in the center of the duvet cover. I will repeat the nightly ritual of shaking the comforter to sort its corners back to where they belong.

Little did I previously know of Chez Duvet.

The duvet’s split corners open (like a mouth of sorts) and close around the interior corner flaps of the duvet cover using a simple and effective low profile hook and loop retaining system from Velcro® USA.


(See graphic.)

Like the right of eminent domain, whereby governments can put highways through your backyard simply because it serves the greater good, I think that the intellectual rights to this invention should be surrendered so that every duvet can be fashioned in this style. Or maybe I should just get myself the kit to retro-fit my current comforter. (I've already been hand sewing ties into the corners of our duvet covers, which is probably equally tedious.)

This is about as cool as finally figuring out how to fold a fitted sheet.

Unfortunately there's still that pesky slouchy middle of the comforter that migrates away from the top of the cover. Where's that solution? (Buy a regular American comforter and stop pretending we're European?)

Such bourgeoisie, chardonnay problems I suffer.

Run, Run, Run

The training for my 10K race continues! Here's the training plan checklist from two weeks earlier. Friends who race on a regular basis tell me that longer distances become less of a physical challenge, but instead a mental task. This weekend I found myself there too...since over 4 miles is a long distance for me. I drape my gym towel over the treadmill's numbers because, if I watch, the numbers seem to tick forward so painfully slowly. After peeking at 2.5 miles on Sunday I started thinking about slowing for a while, but realized it wasn't my body that necessarily felt tired, it was my mind that wanted to walk.

I have become a loyal listener to NPR's Fresh Air to keep my mind occupied. Their weeklong homage to country music was a little hard, since I'm not a fan. I also switch to my running podcasts, particularly in the second half of any given distance, to pep up.

I am loving the thrill of being just a half or quarter mile away from the day's goal distance. Suddenly my feet pick up higher and I feel like I'm bouncing and flying along. And even though I'm going faster, my strides feel like they are actually slowing down, easing into slow motion. (Listening to WNYC's RadioLab podcast "It's All Relative" later while stretching I heard high school track athletes talking about this same phenomenon.) Maybe it's just the waning hydration and the glee of being able to finally get off the treadmill, but it's ironically the moment I'm most ready to run some more.

Sayonara Summer, Acknowledging Autumn

After fighting it for a week or so I'm ready to concede that summer is ending.Like every year, I wonder if I spent enough time outside these past two or three months, adequate time on the deck, or sufficient use of the grill -- before we pack everything up for the fall and winter.

This weekend I reconciled with my possible regrets and decided to start embracing autumn. I picked basil off of our deck to make pesto, before it all shrivels in the chill. At Home Depot I strolled aisles of mums, asters, and pansies, picking up all three for the building and our deck. I wanted to buy a million of them and deck the whole place out in puffy, warm fall colors, and maybe nestle some pumpkins in between. (Although our building's colors are purple, thanks to the bright lavender entryway - the developer's choice, not ours.) I snuck a few yellow and deep red pansies in anyway.

So it's time for hearty glasses of red wine, scarves, football, and caramel apples. The first day of coming home to an apartment cold enough to turn on the heat, and the first toasty rush of air coming through the ducts. Sweaters, socks, and flannel sheets.

Top image can be yours, from Kiki and Polly, on Etsy.

H2-Oh wow!

Life's little surprises, even in their smallest measure, can be delightful. This weekend I learned that the water dispenser in our refrigerator door works in not one, but TWO, convenient ways.

We've lived with this fridge for about two years now. Neither one of us had ever pushed on what looked like a plastic design accessory. Surprise! It's functional!

I was kind of sad I was alone when I discovered this. It was a small bit of amazing.

Ladies' Weekend

On a very gorgeous end of summer weekend I was quite a busy girl - particularly since Jason was out of town for the Buckeye game.
Saturday Ladies' Brunch, with a try at a new non-alcoholic beverage, appropriately known as the "Sophisticated Lady." Cranberry juice, simple syrup, infused with salted and muddled cucumber, with a splash of lime juice. (Lots more yummy non-alc cocktails are here.) I might have over-reached this time, trying lots of food options like pancakes, bacon, breakfast tart, non-alcoholic cocktail... A sure sign of this excessive ambition must have been making my simple syrup the night before, and then distractedly spilling it on the floor and all down the kitchen cabinets. Is there possibly anything worse to spill but sugar water??! Next 30 minutes were spent mopping and then padding around to sense if the floor was still sticky. Re-mopping. It ended up feeling like Lucy Ricardo was hosting this brunch after I also burnt my pancakes.

The good company made up for my foibles in hostessing...like the smoke detector going off about six times before I hustled out the ladder and unplugged it. (Don't worry, we have at least two more working detectors.)

I was happy that night to go out to meet friend Sura for dinner and let someone else do the cooking. Later, a little guilty feeling came over me when I walked up to Matilda's to meet Liz and Geoff and saw a *Michigan* flag waving above my head. I told Jason it felt like cheating on him while he was out of town to go hang out at what turned out to be a Michigan bar. But likely better that he wasn't in town, because I'm not sure I'd have gotten him through the door, even if the cause was a good one - Liz is running the marathon to raise money for cancer research.

Sunday I was cruising with the tatooed hipsters shopping the Renegade Craft Fair. I love this craft fair. Anyone who loves Etsy like I do, loves this fair. I found a little gift-for-self necklace. And a reclaimed book journal, made from an old kids biography of Sandra Day O'Connor. Awesome, even if she's not my very favorite supreme court justice. (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is my girl on the court.)

Even if the Renegade Craft Fair doesn't visit your city, thanks to the wonders for the internets you can visit them here.

Dress for Sweat-cess (Meant to Sound Like "Success")

Since more and more often I'm finding my laundry basket taken up with athletic wear, I decided to treat myself to some nice new workout duds, from Lululemon Athletica. A lot of their focus is yoga, but running apparel and sports bras are also on the racks, and always cute.

And don't you know, look who else is wearing my sassy new top?(Not the kid with the football, but the always stylish Mrs. O!) My top is in a color billed as "alarming" - but I call it coral.

To carry it to the gym, a new gym bag is also on order to replace my utilitarian Eddie Bauer bag, circa 1998.

It's been crazy durable, but I have to say this takes away a little bit of the pleasure of going to the gym so frequently. I want to see my bag take some wear and tear, a reflection of my dogged determination! While my sneakers get scuffed and softer, my towels sweatier and stinker, this darn EB bag still looks like the day I bought it. Kudos to Eddie Bauer, but how's a girl ever supposed to feel a sense of accomplishment looking like the newbie entering the gym?(For your own perma-duffel, shop Eddie Bauer.)

E-Reader'ing

Taking an extra day off as part of my Labor Day weekend, I spent most of the day on the couch with the windows wide open, reading. I had already finished my last book, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, about a girl who can taste emotions in her food. Kind of like a reverse Like Water for Chocolate, but set in the suburbs with a typically dysfunctional family. It's probably true that like many other e-readers, I am reading a bit more nowadays. The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the habits of e-reader'ing folks like me:

A study of 1,200 e-reader owners by Marketing and Research Resources Inc. found that 40% said they now read more than they did with print books.... While e-readers are still a niche product just beginning to spread beyond early adopters, these new reading experiences are a big departure from the direction U.S. reading habits have been heading. A 2007 study by the National Endowment for the Arts caused a furor when it reported Americans are spending less time reading books. About half of all Americans ages 18 to 24 read no books for pleasure, it found.


I choked a little on the train platform when I read that last line in my newspaper. Half of Americans read NO books for pleasure? None? I bit my lip with concern.

I am already a healthy 81% through this weekend's book, Orange is the New Black the story of a woman sent to prison for thoughtless involvement in drug smuggling in her college days. Ten years later, after she'd seen the folly and uselessness of her actions, the Feds catch up to her and send her to jail for a year. There she (a white girl who graduated from Smith) is mixed up with all types and shares her reflections, including how hard stoicism can be when they take away your underpants. (My favorite line, so far.)I recommend both books, for a holiday weekend or part of the hibernation planning that anyone who lives in Chicago will begin to think about as the days grow shorter and colder. What will I read during the months of being under the blanket with a cup of tea, instead of the sun and cool breeze?

Cooking Up the Best of Breakfast

One of the best things about holiday weekends is having the time to spend a little more thought on the routines of life, like breakfast. This weekend I was eager to try the Spring Breakfast Tart I'd read about on another blog. After a trip to the supermarket for ingredients, I was ready and mixing.

Asparagus, thyme, bacon, puff pastry, and a small tub of creme fraiche that demanded a dedicated trip to Whole Foods were my starting point. (Good thing I've been watching Top Chef and noticed someone buying some of their own at Whole Foods in the last episode!) I decided that the arugula flowers the recipe also asked for were just an embellishment and wasn't going to bother tracking those down. Arugula has flowers? Who knew!?

This is a nice mix of the best parts of breakfast: fried eggs, juicy bacon, healthy veggies and all on top of a crispy croissant. It worked out extraordinarily well. Very tasty, and not too difficult for a holiday weekend chef.

Eating with a Two-Year Old is a Mess

So much for the glee of a two-year old. A two-year-old table that is now wrinkling up and falling apart like a grumpy old man.

Our West Elm table, before. One of the first purchases for our new home. And despite the fact that Jason and I eat more often on the coffee table, or on the deck...this is what's happened after just two years. The veneer around the side is pulling off. My guests apologize when they think they’ve caused the damage, but I have to explain that it actually started before they even sat down. And just once a water glass was left on the tabletop, and the veneer bubbled. When wiping off the table it chipped right off. Ugly and unhappy, isn't it?I know Mom always said to use a coaster, but even on a dining room table?! Isn't it expected that glasses will be put on a table?

My letter to West Elm has attempted a calmer, more conciliatory tone. Maybe they will at least throw me a table runner to cover the ugly while I figure out Plan B? Jason encourages me to wait at least two weeks before I start looking for a replacement table. I want to keep the chairs, since they cost more than the table, and are still in good shape. But what's a good match?

Here are a couple of options...not from West Elm.

CB2's Silverado Round, no need for a coaster on glass.Or, their Odyssey Grellow Table (grey + yellow, do you think it would go ok with our grey walls, but orange couch? Maybe it's too matchy-matchy with the green/yellow accents on the wall?)
IKEA has a white version too,with a little more curve.

Crate & Barrel's Strut Table, has the same retro modern lines, but might not be an exact match on the wood tones.

My Birthday Flower

A September birthday seems to arrive at the end of many good things, like summertime and the flowers that thrive in its warmth and sunshine. I still remember the year that the first day of school even fell on my birthday. Brutal for a pre-teen who still has to shop for the teacher-mandated list of college-ruled marble composition books and Number 2 pencils. And getting sweaters as a gift, instead of hula-hoops and bright summer t-shirts was never as much fun.

However, when it comes to flowers, there's one kind that seems to show up every year just in time for my birthday. A co-worker once gave me a bunch of these bright, intriguing flowers for my birthday and ever since I've found them a signature delight when the calendar page turns to September every year. And I kind of think of them as my birthday flower.

I don't even know what they are called, but they had them at the farmer's market last Sunday. I love the fuzzy folds of magenta and red.

They also provided a colorful note in the background for pictures of our cats lounging around in the sunbeams on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Jason pointed out that if our cats were a band, and needed an album cover, this could be it. Look at the languid stare of rock-star discontent coming from Teedie.

Homesick


Try this , from Arcade Fire.
It's worth the experience, although it might make you miss home. (My childhood home, above.)

As a marketer who hears the word "social media" everyday lately, I wish I had thought of it. As a fan of Arcade Fire, I'm also not surprised.
 

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