Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in Pictures

In what has become a regular thing for me, it's time to look back at 2011 in pictures!!  And I got it in just before the deadline! :)  While 2011 hasn't been my best year, there were certainly some fun times!  I spent a lot of 2011 rehabbing my knee, which culminated in me walking a half marathon in September.  Wow!  To be perfectly honest, I'm not sorry to see 2011 go.  And here's to a fantastic 2012!!

From left to right, starting at the top row:
  • January: I had a hard time finding a January picture, but here's one of the Space Needle
  • February: Kathy & me having fun at Reese's birthday party
  • March: Having fun with the fishies in Honolulu
  • April: Nilufer & my feet with the tulips
  • May: Doe a deer, a female deer - in Salzburg, exploring the Sound of Music sights
  • June: Me & Michelle at WDW
  • July: Me & my brother-in-law about to go sailing
  • August: Finishing the Seattle Danskin Sprint Tri
  • September: Lining up with the walkers to start the You Go Girl Half Marathon
  • October: Jessica, the Evil Queen, and me at Mickey's Not So Scary
  • November: Jana & me enjoying lunch in Brussels
  • December: Chloe opening her Christmas present
And there you have it.  Time to ring in 2012!!

What the Kale?

In my quest to try (and like) more vegetables, I thought a green smoothie was a fantastic idea.  Fruit & veggies, but you only taste the fruit - sign me up!  My Whole Living magazine had a recipe for a Green Machine Smoothie which had kale, lettuce and pineapples, among other things.  Shouldn't be too bad right?  Wrong.  This was not the recipe for me.  I gritted my teeth and tried to drink some of it.  But I did not drink all of it.  But at least I tried.  And while I can't completely cross off #11 off my 12 by 2012 list, I at least made progress.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Run #1.7 Brought to You by the Letter W

W as in windy!!  Or it could have been B as in blustery!  I probably sound like a big baby, but in reality, I do like running in the winter.  It's much easier to bundle up.  You can only take off so many clothes when it is hot. 

Back to the run at hand - I took the morning off work so I could get a "quick" 8 miles in.  I started and about a mile into it I realized my Garmin wasn't doing it's thing.  Grr.  So I restarted it and continued on.  But my mojo was discombobulated after that. 

The trail was fairly empty, probably because it was a weekday rather than the weekend.  I got to the turn around and started back into a wall of wind.  Okay, so maybe I exaggerate.  But just a little! :)  It was at that point that I really wished for my gloves.  I had been doing fine up until then but the wind made me wish for all things warm.

In the land of coincidence, Colbie Calliat's Brighter Than The Sun came on my iPod just as I rounded a corner and the sun was directly in my eyes.

And then I was done and off to find warmth!!  

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What Happens in Vegas

What happens in Vegas, doesn't always stay in Vegas!  Especially when there are photographs involved! :)

But first we'll take a photo trip through Santa's Wonderland (from my trip to Houston at the beginning of the month).

One weekend Houston, the next weekend Vegas, baby!!  Lots of Christmas decorations everywhere, I saw La Reve & the Michael Jackson show, and had some fun at the craps table!!

A Hidden Mickey!!

Paris!!  And I get to see the real thing in March!

And there you have the first half of my December.  A little late - but better late than never (or as one of my fave headlines of all times said "Better Laettner Than Ever" circa 1992 Duke vs Kentucky).

Monday, December 26, 2011

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

After a chilly run this morning, I was ready to warm up.  And what better way than a nice bowl of soup?  Another good thing about being off at the holidays is the time I can take to actually make something.  I had been wanting to try a butternut squash soup for awhile (hence #22 on my 34 Things list to try a recipe with a squash).  When my Whole Living magazine arrived with a recipe for a Spiced Butternut Squash Soup, I knew I had to try it!  And the result?  Delicious!  And two birds with one stone!  Not only did I knock off #22 off my 34 Things list but I also knocked off #2 off my 12 by 2012 list.  Yay for me!

Frozen Fingers Run #1.6

Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas!  I'm using my time off to get caught up on my long runs!  But with nothing going on today, I slept in before heading to the park.  What's sleeping in?  Not waking up until after 8 and not getting out of bed until 9!!  Holy cow!  But oh so enjoyable.

Knowing I would be visiting the park quite a few times in the next few weeks, I decided to mix it up and start at a different spot.  And I got to use one of my favorite Christmas presents - a super cool headband from my super cool friend Kathy!

I realized I need to work on my transitions from walking to running and back.  Running - no problem.  Walking - no problem.  But going from running to walking I find my walking slows down.  When I notice I try to speed up and find my pace.  Once I find my pace, I'm good to go.  

I decided to go without gloves, since it wasn't extremely cold out and I usually warm up by mile 2.  Not so in this case.  My fingers were so cold by the time I finished.  Brr!!

It was good to do a section of the trail I hadn't done in awhile.  I passed by a ton of ducks at one point.  I'm glad it was ducks and not geese - geese scare me.  Lots of geese are gaggles, what are lots of ducks?  According to the Internet, there are lots of terms for groups of ducks, depending on what type of duck and what they are doing.

I finished up and was so happy to jump in the car and get warm again!!  

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve Run #1.5

Yikes!!  Have you looked at the calendar lately?  I have got one month.  I repeat, one month until the Tinker Bell Half.  And I'm oh so behind on my long runs.  Which meant bright and early Christmas Eve I was lacing up my shoes.  Or at least early, it wasn't so bright.  In fact as I pulled up to the park, I could see the Christmas lights on the trees still lit up.  It had started raining and once again I was without a hat.  I really don't like hats, umbrellas or hoods.  But fortunately I had a random baseball cap in my car for emergencies such as these.

I still haven't figured out how to do intervals on my watch (probably because I haven't spent any time trying to figure it out!) so at the start of every song I ran for one minute.  My knee is still doing good.  I'll have to figure out a good interval.  It'll probably still be heavily weighted on the walking, but it is nice to be running.

And guess what was in the mail when I got home from my run?  My Tinker Bell tutu!!  I'm just about set with my outfit now.

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Five Senses Friday

It has been a blink and you'll miss it last couple of weeks!!  When I say work has gotten a tad hectic, I might be understating it slightly.  But it's Christmas and things are always much cheerier with Christmas music in the background.

  •  Super cool Christmas cards from Team Donner which of course makes me feel on the lame side since I had grand ideas but ran out of time to implement them and just sent a card.  There is always next year, right?  I will redeem myself next year.
  • CINDERELLA!!!  On Wednesday night I went to see Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella at the 5th Ave.  No singing mice, but still a fantastic show.  I just want to be an extra in that show so I can wear one of the pretty dresses.  And I so should have worn my tiara. 

  •  Do you ever have one of those weeks where you just keep making mistake after mistake and really want to either start the week over or hurry through it so you can be done and pretend it never happened?  Yeah, that's my week.  I don't like making mistakes.  And then I obsess over them. 

  • Christmas goodies, but my favorite was the gingerbread cake at Earl's.  Deliciousness!! 

  • Bells  
  • The announcement from runDisney about bringing back the Tower of Terror but instead of 13Ks it will be 10 miles!  Intriguing...but even more intriguing is the fact that it will push back the Wine & Dine to early November which means it is a way more realistic race for me to do.  But I can't do both..  Decisions, decisions...

  •  Cinnamon

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

34 Things: The Hunger Games

Similar to the Twilight books, I had somewhat resisted reading The Hunger Games.  But I kept hearing more and more people singing the praises of the books so I borrowed the first book from Jessica with the intention of reading on the plane to Houston.  That didn't happen.  I arrived in Houston and went to see Breaking Dawn with Michelle and Khrissy and guess what preview was played?  You guessed it!  The Hunger Games!  It piqued my interest.  And so I read it on my way home from Houston.  I really enjoyed it!!  (I'm so Team Peeta, in case you were wondering.)  I quickly borrowed books 2 and 3 from Jessica and read Catching Fire on my way to Vegas and most of Mockingjay on my way home from Vegas.

Part of the reason I was initially resisting reading this series was I thought it would be too much like Lord of the Flies, which I was not a fan of at all.  But Katniss drew me into her world and I eagerly started the second book and then the third becoming attached to the characters.  (Let me just say there is a huge benefit to waiting to start a series until all the books are out.  No waiting to read the next book!!) 

And now I can't wait to watch the movie!!

(I did briefly think about counting these as three different books, but they'll only count as one book for purposes of my 34 Things list.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

34 Things: Tales of a Female Nomad

Jana gave me this book to read.  It is written by a woman who, on the verge of divorce, decided to explore the world.  The book chronicles the beginning of her nomadic life, with stops in South America, Bali, Israel, New Zealand and even Seattle (and a few other stops as well).  It was really interesting to read her experiences.  And I was impressed she just picked up and left.  I don't know that I could do that.  It's been so long since I've read something autobiographical, and it was neat to read her viewpoint and thoughts.

Monday, December 19, 2011

From Z(agreb) to B(russels) Part II

Remember way back when I was on vacation?  It seems so long ago!  Finally I'm getting around to the second half of the trip.  Missed the first part?  Check it out here.

Day 6
The alarm went off way too early.  When we booked the plane tickets, it seemed like a good idea.  Plus it was the only direct flight from Zagreb to Brussels.  But when the alarm went off, it was not feeling like a good idea.  We put the finishing touches on our packing and started lugging our suitcases down the two flights of stairs.  As soon as I got into the taxi I realized I had forgotten to give my postcards to the hotel clerk to mail.  But guess what?  There was a post office at the airport!  Hooray!

The flight was uneventful.  I tried to to sleep but settled for keeping my eyes closed and drifting in and out of wakefulness.

We landed in Brussels and passport control took forever but finally we were in a taxi heading for our hotel.  The sight that greeted us outside our hotel was the beginnings of a Christmas market!  Unfortunately it seems we were about a week too early for Christmas and Christmas markets - decorations were up or being set up but not turned on.
The hotel clerk checked us in and told us we were in the Istanbul room.  We stepped inside of the room and found out why - the room even had a hookah pipe!  Instantly the song of the trip became Istanbul (Not Constantinople).  In fact, it's still in my head!  We started calling it our Cave of Wonders room.  Or our Princess Jasmine room.

It was by now definitely lunch time!  We ended up at a seafood restaurant across the square from our hotel.  Our waiter was awesome!  I had salmon, which was good.  But dessert was DELICIOUS!!  It was my first exposure to speculoos, a type of gingerbread, but my dessert was in ice cream form.  Yum!!  And shockingly this was to be my only ice cream of the trip.  I know, right?  Me, the queen of gelato.  It was just too cold.

Our next stop was Church of Ste. Catherine, which was just a block from our hotel.  The church was completely under construction.  From there we walked to the Grand Place, which is a super cool.  I really like this square.  Since we were there, we visited the City Museum, which was inside the King's House.  The top floor held a collection of Manneken-Pis costumes.  That little statue has lots and lots of costumes!!

We wandered around a little bit more, poking our heads into chocolate, lace, tapestry and beer stores before walking over to see Manneken-Pis himself.  And then it was dinner time.  We found a little pizzeria close to our hotel (delicious!) and then headed back to the hotel for an early night.

Day 7
We slept in a little and then had the joy of using our Princess Jasmine shower (oh how I missed our Zagreb shower).  It was on the small side which wouldn't have been too bad except the shower head was right in the middle.  And it was sort of at a slant so everything kept sliding.

Breakfast was a decent spread.  And they had a make your own cappuccino machine!  And remember that delicious gingerbread ice cream?  They had it in a spread which tasted fantastic on toast!

We set off to explore Brussels.  We walked through the Grand Place up to St. Michael's Cathedral.  This is where the royals are married and buried.

From there we walked up to the Upper Town and went through the BELvue Museum, which went through Belgium history (from 1830 to the present day) as well as a look at the kings.  In 1830, Belgium gained independence from the Netherlands.  Underneath the BELvue Museum were the remains of a 12th century palace which we explored as well.

Our tummies were telling us it was time to eat, so we had lunch at the restaurant at the top of the Museum of Musical Instruments.  The view was nice and the food was good.  The menu was all in French and Dutch so we had to guess a little but I ended up with a curry chicken which I enjoyed.

Next up was the Magritte Museum - Rene Magritte was a surrealist painter.  I wasn't sure what to expect with a surrealist painter, but I enjoyed the museum, much more than I expected to.  It was a good mix of paintings and letters and photos from his life.

We explored a bit more, did some shopping and by then it was dinner time.  We had crepes for dinner!  Yum!!  It was a super tiny little restaurant, but very good.  And I had peach beer which was delicious.  I am not much of a beer drinker (I just don't like the taste) but this peach beer was something else.  So good!!

Day 8
After breakfast at the hotel, we took the metro to the train station and caught a train to Brugge (about an hour or so away).  For their honeymoon, my parents had bicycled around Europe.  One of the places they had gone to was Brugge and some of the photos they had taken in Brugge are still hanging up in their house.  So of course I wanted to go!  I had been to Brugge once before and was blown away by its charm so I was eager to go back.

We arrived in Brugge and didn't read Rick's instructions close enough and the 4 minute bus ride we thought we were taking into town turned into a 34 minute bus ride.  Darn!  Guess it would have been better to take the 20 minute stroll into town.  But we made it to the Market Square to find more preparations for a Christmas market.

We started following Rick's City Walk, passing by Burg Square, the Basilica of the Holy Blood, and the Blind Donkey Street.  Lunch ended up being frites (or french fries) which we ate while sitting by the river. 

Our next stop was the Groeninge Museum, which was mostly Flemish painters (Flemish primitive, which basically means pre-Renaissance).  Whenever I hear Flemish, I generally think dark paintings, but that just goes to show you what I know.  These paintings had a lot of color!  From there we went to the Church of Our Lady, which had a beautiful Madonna and Child (by Michelangelo) as well as paintings from the 13th Century, which were fascinating.

Even though it was cold, we decided to brave it and take a boat ride through the canals.  Waiting in line, we were entertained by 4-ish yr old boy who was singing about ducks.  Swim, ducky swim.  It was quite the song.  The boat ride was fun, if cold!

Since lunch really wasn't that substantial, it was definitely time for an afternoon snack of waffles!!  We went into this little restaurant and were the only people there.  But I had probably the best cappuccino I have ever had!  I don't know if it was the cinnamon or the whip cream that made it so good.  Probably both.  And the waffles were good too!

We finished up our day by meandering through the town, going in and out of chocolate and lace shops.  There was a post office in the Market Square so I stopped to get my stamps and even though there was no one else in the shop, they wouldn't help me until I got a number.  But as soon as I took a number, it came up and I was helped.

It was dark by now and the Christmas decorations were actually lit up!!  Hooray!!

We were trying to decide whether to eat in Brugge, or wait until we made it back to Brussels.  We decided on a Rick restaurant and set off to find it.  We completely missed the street the first time, but finally found it.  Between the bus and trying to find this restaurant, Rick was not on our favorite people list.  Thank goodness we didn't give up on the restaurant, because the food was so good!  It served "Flemish specialties" and we had the beef stew.  Which came with a side of applesauce (random, right?  but oh so good!).  And I tried the cherry beer tonight.  Yum!  The restaurant was on the small side but it was decorated for Christmas and they sat us next to the fireplace (which after a cold day was a great way to warm up).

Then it was bus to the train station, train back to Brussels, metro to the hotel and bed.

Day 9
Our last day, and our last breakfast at the hotel.   Gearing up for the Christmas market was in full swing as we stepped out of our hotel and saw the Ferris Wheel they were assembling.  On the next block was a merry-go-round with random sea creatures and birds.  We slowly made our way over to Mannekin Pis to see him in the daytime.  And we started walking towards Notre Dame, passing by a section of the old city wall leftover from the 13th Century.  Notre Dame had beautiful stained glass.

From there we walked over to the Museum of Ancient Art (the Modern Art section was closed).  I don't know if I would consider the art we saw to be ancient.  There were lots of paintings of St. Sebastian, St. Anne and St. Barbara.

We walked back down and had lunch at the crepe place, which was once again delicious.  And finished up the day by going to the Costume & Lace Museum, which had lots of beautiful clothes.

We made it back to Grand Place where they were in the process of putting lights up on the Christmas tree.  But the stupid crane they were using did not make it easy to take good pictures.

Dinner was at the Italian restaurant near our hotel.  Pizza - but just any pizza - pizza with salami, mushrooms, and Gorgonzola!  Wow, that sure isn't margherita pizza!!

Then we headed back to the hotel room to pack.  Packing is never my favorite thing to do.  But finally everything was in the suitcase.

Day 10
No breakfast at the hotel this morning.  Instead we were in a cab on our way to the airport.  We said our goodbyes and then Jana was off to Houston and I was off to Seattle.  

Istanbul Room

Grand Place

View of Brussels

I forgot who he was...

Watch out when you are taking feet pictures!

Yummy fries!


Christmas Decorations

Ferris Wheel being assembled outside our hotel

Mannekin Pis

Our last day and they finally put the lights on the tree

Twelve by 2012 Check In

Well I had started off doing okay and then I was out of town.  Time to regroup and see what is left to do by the end of the year.
2. Try two new recipes.  One down, one to go.

4. Ease back into running once 1 year has passed since I fell off a cliff.  Slow and steady, but I am working my way back into running.

6. Attend yoga at least twice a week.  If I'm in town, I've been pretty good about it.

8.  Catch up and finish reading my bible in one year plan.  Well, I'm giving it a good effort but I'm not sure I'll make it by the end of the year.

12. Take the stairs to work at least twice a week.  Same as #6 - if I'm in town, I've been able to do it.

I've definitely got some work to do!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

On the 1st K of Christmas

On the 1st K of Christmas, I ran across the start line!  That's right, I ran!!  Welcome back Emily.  I'm still running in one minute increments.  This is one of my favorite races.  I just love the costumes, especially the dogs wearing costumes.  It is such a fun race.

I met up with a couple of co-workers before the race (we were a mixed bag, some doing the 12K, some doing the 5K).  It was misty, but thankfully that's all it was because I had forgotten a hat.  The 5K started off and then it was time for the 12K to start.  I lined up in the 12+ minutes per mile category, which was also called the fast walker category.  I get to run, but I have to line up in a walker category?  I don't know if it was better lining up in the walker category or the jogger category.  In any case, I lined up and then we were off!!  And I was running across the start line!

One house we ran by had Christmas music playing for us - love it!

My time goal was under 2 hours.  But my secret time goal was to get under 1 hour and 45 minutes.  To put this into perspective, my best time on this course previously was 1:42:28 and that was when I was running and not coming off a knee injury.

The Ks kept going by and I started paying attention to my watch.  My secret time goal was definitely within reach.  If I kept up the pace.  But with the big hill behind me, and the majority of the rest of the course downhill or flat it was looking more and more like a possibility.

I kept up my running increments and was heading towards the finish line at the same time the kids race was finishing.  Which meant it was a bit chaotic.  But I RAN across the finish line!!  My time - 1:39:34 - holy cow!!  That would be a PR.  Can I say that again?  I PR'd - 1:39:34!!  I am going to bask in this glow for awhile.  Wow!!

P.S. I am participating in Katye's Virtual 12Ks of Christmas so this race was doing double-duty as my December race and my entry into the virtual 12Ks of Christmas!  Oh wait, it was actually doing triple duty as this is also Run #1.4!!  Wow, I got a lot of mileage out of this one race.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Foggy & Cold Run #1.3

Wow, December is speeding by!!  But thankfully I will not be boarding a plane for the rest of the year.  I love getting on a plane and going somewhere, but after three almost back to back to back trips I am ready to be at home. 

I came back from Vegas (which means I didn't hit the jackpot - darn!) late Sunday.  So I took Monday morning off to sleep in as well as get 7 miles in.  I went to my more hilly route, but I was determine to avoid doing the big bad hill twice.  Once is bad enough!!  Which meant a few loops and zig zags to pick up distance and make my loop that much longer so I would only have to do it once, rather than doubling back.  And I succeeded!!  Hooray!!  Stupid hill.  My running increments are now up to one whole minute!  I haven't figured out how to input intervals on my Garmin so instead, at the start of each new song I would run.  My knee held up again really well.  Towards the end, it started getting a little achy, but no real pain.

There was more I was going to say, but the words are not coming to me so I'll leave at that.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Run #1.2 With Actual Running

That's right! It is officially December which means I can run again! It has basically been a year since I have run (give or take a few weeks when I was in between physical therapists).

I got up early this morning to squeeze in six miles before my flight to Houston. Once again I started off in the semi-dark but the trail still had a good number of people on it. I didn't want to overdo the running so once I was warmed up I decided to run 30 seconds at the start of every song. It felt good to break into a run. The questions that kept going through my mind were "is it time to run?" followed by "does my knee hurt?" which I am happy to say it didn't. Towards the end I did start to feel a little twinge in my knee so I stuck to walking for the remainder of my run.

Not only did this run have actual running, but I also had an encounter with an otter. He looked at me. I looked at him. And then he jumped back into the grass, back towards the river. Whew!

All that is left to say is - I'm back, baby!!

Sent by T-Mobile. America's First Nationwide 4G Network

Five Senses Friday

  • The craziest "holiday" decorations in our lobby.  Seriously - they look like 1) an alien threw up or 2) we are living in Dr. Seuss land.

  • A hand written thank you card from Hillary Biscay!!  How cool?!  (I had donated to her 3 Day Walk - and yes, not quite "hearing" but we're still going with it.)

  • Thanksgiving leftovers - I'm not a huge turkey fan but combined with Gruyere cheese and apple slices on a bun and toasted - delicious!

  • Popcorn

  • Still way overwhelmed, but a little better now that I'm just about done Christmas shopping!