Thursday, January 31, 2013


These evening after work, I pulled up to an intersection and waited for the stoplight to turn green. As I waited at the intersection, I watched the local bank's thermometer reading change from 1 degree to 0 degrees before my eyes. In related news, for an extremely unknown reason, I picked today to take Wish for a walk wearing ballet flats instead of my winter boots. Brr.

That's about all I've got to report about today in Minnesota. Also going on at Miles and Laurel: I got to see two friends from high school, I am excited about the upcoming weekend events and Tennessee landed a big recruit. Happy days - even if they're chilly ones.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The second quilt

As soon as I finished my t-shirt quilt, I wanted to try my hand at a "real" quilt. I am totally drawn to these - I think because I love bright colors in eye-catching patterns. Earlier this month, I made my first foray into a book of patterns called Country Quilts in a Day that Josh's aunt gave me last Christmas. I've looked through the book a zillion times, but everything in it made infinitely more sense now that I've actually tried making a quilt before. Even though the in a Day part of the book's title didn't prove quite true for me, it was an invaluable guide.

Right away, though, I rebelled a little bit against the instructions by choosing two similar fabrics (a red and purple print and a basic red calico) instead of completely contrasting white and dark fabrics. I ended up being happy about this, because while the contrast wasn't quite as punchy, it helped hide some beginner's mistakes I was making.

The book I have is based on the premise of strip-quilting - just to be very clear, that means sewing with strips, okay? (Yikes!) It's a good time to say I'm not sure if what I'm doing is exactly quilting - or it's not the traditional kind I picture in my head when I think of quilting, anyway. I'm definitely not sitting in a chair and sewing everything by hand. The whole thing is done with my sewing machine, so to me it just feels like sewing lots and lots of strips together to make blocks, and then sewing blocks together, and then doing the sashing and borders until voila, we have a quilt! (My next project, by the way, is learning how to do the pretty spirals all over the design that finishes the whole look. I'm not there yet.)

You start by cutting lots and lots of strips - dozens and dozens - of varying widths. I imagine this process will get easier each time I do it. As an added bonus, measuring everything out and calculating how many strips a piece of fabric will yield is also a healthy basic math refresher.

Then I sewed lots of those strips together, into groups of three, which I'd go on to use for both small squares and border strips for the larger blocks:

And then I cut some of those strips into a gazillion tiny strips, and sewed those together to make blocks - 64 in total. This was very pretty to look at but also showed me what I was getting into. I'd end up sewing all 64 of those squares to other pieces of fabric!

(The lighting in my apartment at night was a little weird, by the way. I don't have canary yellow walls, nor are these fabrics flaming red. You'll see a more accurate look in the daylight at the end of this post.)

Anyway, at that point I was ready to assemble the blocks for my quilt. It's approximately a full-size quilt, and it incorporates 16 blocks. This was when Wish started to get bored with my work. Or maybe I have it all wrong. Maybe he just wants to help! It does look like he's taking a peek at my pattern here:

Here he is, supervising me to make sure I cut the strips correctly:

I love the subtlety of the ball next to his paw.
No, I think he was fully aware that quilting is valuable time that could be better spent throwing a ball for him or scratching his belly. My favorite example of Wish frowning on my hobby was the night that I laid out my blocks to consider what fabric I wanted to use for the sashing. I carefully arranged a few while he watched:

Then I went to grab the rest, and when I came back, he had swiftly and effectively blocked any progress on my project:

But sometimes he just wanted to keep an eye a paw on my work:

Or...all paws:

After the top layer was done, I laid the back, batting, and top layer all together and sewed those three pieces together. (Actually, I was able to do nearly a double layer of batting, so it's extra heavy and cozy.) Then I sewed on the outside border and finished it with a little zigzag stitch.

Then, when I was finally finished, I was so excited I wanted to take a photo with my quilt for the archives. Josh wasn't home, so I set up the timer on my camera. Hello!

Wish found joy in impeding this process by sitting just out of the picture, between the camera and me, so I tossed the quilt on him to see how he'd like it.

Well...after the initial surprise, it turned out that he was quite happy with it - as in, he started to settle into a nap then and there:

I don't blame him a bit for that. It is a cozy napping quilt.

I've learned so much through both projects. I made mistakes on the t-shirt quilt, improved on the red quilt, made different mistakes on the red quilt and now have ideas about how to improve on those for my next project.

Many parts, though, went much more easily this time around. Having a rotary cutter and knowing how to use it confidently helped immensely. A rotary cutter is really sharp and looks like a pizza cutter, and with a hefty protective board underneath whatever fabric you're cutting, it makes cutting a bunch of strips at the same time much faster and more accurate. I also had a little Plexiglass strip to help out. The quilt book's author recommends going to a hardware store to get a strip cut that's 2.5 inches by 27 inches, because a lot of her patterns' strips call for a width of 2.5 inches. Josh and I totally ran this errand one weekend afternoon, and the Plexiglass strip is worth its weight in gold - both as a measuring tool and as a prop to help me cut straighter lines with the rotary cutter.

That's the story of my second quilt! I think our house is finally clear of the red thread and fabric remnants that covered the home (and everything I wore while I sewed). I've had a lot of fun this winter working on the quilt projects - and I have more ideas hopping around in my head!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Marvelous Monday: Week 4

Welcome to Monday! (A special welcome, by the way, to the person who found my blog by googling "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles birthday.")

1) I got out for a glorious run over the lunch hour. The temperature was well into the 30s and I didn't have to wear any kind of hat. I actually could've gone with three-quarter pants or maybe even shorts, but the snow on the sidewalks was sloppy and that slush on bare legs would've been cold.

2) Tonight's dinner is in the oven. It's Mexican black bean and cheese pasta, a recipe I think I found through a  friend. I've made it before, but not for a long time, and am excited for both dinner and leftovers for lunch for the rest of the week.

3) Wish got to play outside in the snow this morning and was loving life again. Here he is, bounding around the neighborhood:

4) I finished my quilt! (More on this tomorrow.)

5) I got an email over the weekend advertising a Shutterfly code for 101 free prints, so I cashed in on that and a little package of pictures will be on its way to me soon. I only print out pictures once or twice per year, and it was fun to have an excuse to look through the last few months and pick images to have as real photos!

Your turn! What was good about your Monday? Do you still print out lots of photos, or are they all online? If you are in Minnesota, are you enjoying the new snow? And any recipe recommendations you've been loving lately?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday snow

Today I drove home from brunch in conditions that started as freezing rain and turned into a driving sleet. I was caught on the interstate in a wild icestorm with two friends a couple of years ago and would like to never do that again, so I was very relieved when I got home without incident.

Then, from inside the house, I watched the precipitation change over to big snowflakes - and few inches of snow piled up by the end of the afternoon!

I took Wish out for a walk and knew he would be off his rocker with excitement, and I was not wrong. I laughed out loud for most of our trip at how much joy he found, over and over, in bounding through the snow.

And there were pretty sights to see, too. I saw trees making beautiful shadows on the snow in the twilight and got out my little phone-camera.

Oops! Accidental flash! That's Wish's path through the shadows. Here are the actual shadows:

Earlier in the day, I had gone for a walk to run an errand, and noticed a tree with a fresh pile of snow on each of the little pine boughs, and the bark on the trunk and limbs was nearly glowing.

The city in the snow is pretty nice to look at, even without glowing branches.

The Sunday afternoon snow made for a peaceful start to the new week.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Call me course marshal

With my 101 in 1,001 list in mind - especially the "volunteer at six races" goal - I headed to downtown St. Paul this morning to volunteer at the Securian Winter Run, an event that includes a half-marathon, 10K and 5K. (I did this last January, too, in case this whole thing sounds really familiar to you.)

As I wrote last year, I've run this half-marathon a couple of times and always had felt extra-appreciative for the volunteers who were standing outside and supporting us. I included the goal on my 101 list to make sure I was consistently giving back to the race community that has taught me so much in the last 15 years - and while I don't know for sure, I have a hunch it's harder to recruit volunteers for these cold races, so I've kept this one on my radar.

It's also a fun race because it's part of a wild weekend in St. Paul: it's Winter Carnival time and Crashed Ice World Championships about a mile apart from each other. There's a parade today in downtown St. Paul and all kinds of Winter Carnival events all week, including a medallion treasure hunt with a grand prize of up to $10,000. (I think my brother is hunting for the medallion!)

The tagline? The Coolest Celebration on Earth. You don't believe me? Proof:

And it was definitely cool today. It was a handful of degrees above zero when I headed out this morning, and now that I'm back home and cozy with a cup of hot coffee, I see that the windchill is still -2. I bundled up pretty well: two pairs of tights, a base layer top, a really warm pullover, my down jacket, a little face mask, hat, two pairs of socks and my winter boots, plus a pair of lackluster gloves that proved to be where I came up short. (Brr. Cold hands.) I stayed pretty comfortable until the end of my shift, and then I was ready to hustle back to my car.

(But I still had time to swoop through Rice Park to see the ice sculptures. Sometimes it's too warm and there's panic about the ice sculptures melting. Not a problem this year!)

I was stationed at a pretty busy intersection in downtown St. Paul, and this weekend is always more hectic than usual there because there are lots of people driving who aren't quite sure where they're going or aren't pleased to see that a major road is temporarily closed. I had two awesome policemen doing the heavy lifting on traffic control (along with a bunch of road barriers), and I very much appreciated their help. My job was to hold my yellow "TURN LEFT" sign, make sure the runners properly cross the street and get onto the next leg of the race, and provide some general good cheer.

In case you had trouble picturing, I've provided a visual. Also, this is on a side street before the race, in case you are rolling your eyes at this being the "major road" and "busy intersection" I referenced in the previous paragraph!!

It was really fun to see tons of runners out on a chilly Saturday morning - but I have to say, I didn't have any urge to be out there running myself! I will head to yoga this afternoon instead, but am happy I got a chance to support some very hardy runners in a community (and place) I love.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Three things Thursday

Just a quick swoop past Miles and Laurel tonight!

Workout: An easy visit to the elliptical and a few free weights over lunch, followed by a visit to the sauna. The sauna! It reminded me of being up north at the start of my canoe adventure this summer. It was also the best thing ever on another chilly day - but I did skipped scampering around in the snow afterward. Not today.

Dinner: I tried a new recipe tonight: cheesy taco soup from Iowa Girl Eats. Yes. I threw in a bag of corn and used turkey instead of beef.

Find of the day: Some beautiful grapefruits dropped merrily into my cart at the grocery store tonight and I am very excited for tomorrow's breakfast.

And now I think it's movie night! Good night!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Venturing outside

After a long stretch of what felt like utter and complete hibernation, I ventured out into the world today for my first outdoor run since Saturday.

The weather was of the 16-degrees-feels-like-10 variety, sometimes with bright sun, so the sunny stretches with the wind at my back felt downright tropical and the ones with the wind in my face were, well, less so. I had a facemask on, which I usually kept pulled under my chin, and a hat, and I wore my coziest, thickest pullover, so I was pretty comfortable.

Honestly, the whole expedition felt comfortable compared to the cold earlier in the week. You know your meteorological norms are shifting when you take your dog out at night, nod your head happily at the mild weather, and learn that it's 3 degrees. (That happened last night.) Everyone was happy.

The pets seemed happy, from what I could tell from their footprints.

The little birds were happy.

I was happy!

The sun and clouds were so pretty.

Also, a light coating of snow had fallen, and there was some interesting stuff going on in the sidewalks.

Some of paths looked like this - kind of what you'd expect for footprints on fresh snow, right?

But some looked like this, sort of like film negatives?

And when the sun was shining on those funny tracks, they glittered and looked like this: 

How in the heck does this happen? I have no idea, but I'd like more of it.

I had my fingers crossed that the nicer weather would last until evening so I could take Wish for a better walk than we've been able to do in the last week, but alas, the winds were starting to pick up again even by later in the afternoon. A cold front swooped back in, the winds are whipping, and the temperature is about to dip back below zero. The chill is back, but it sure felt good to have the sun on my face this afternoon, even just for a little bit.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Night at the museum

To the museum we go! It's date night!

I'd been eyeing a couple of Minnesota History Center exhibits for ages and noticed recently that admission is free after 5 p.m. on Tuesday evenings. (Tonight's visit - spoiler alert! - sealed the deal that I simply must just  buy a Minnesota Historical Society membership because I want to support the good work that they do and also visit the History Center anytime.)

The big exhibit right now is called Then Now Wow and pulls together the "wow" moments that define Minnesota's history.

I had been a little uncertain of what to expect because the exhibit is billed as kid-friendly, but it really is just appropriate for everybody. It was, at a minimum, a great overview of what shaped Minnesota for both visitors and longtime residents. There are eras and events in this state's history covered that are challenging to process for people of any age, so in a way, I actually appreciated seeing them presented in a narrative that a wide range of ages could take in.

Anyway, there aren't enough adjectives for how fascinating I found the exhibit, both in terms of the content and how it was assembled. The whole experience is about as far away from the stereotypical quiet museum as you can imagine. It's multisensory and multilayered and interactive and brilliantly creative in conveying an enormous range of Minnesota experiences, people and events in one project. The level of detail is incredible. I was so impressed.

We both learned a lot. Josh gives a thumbs up to Minnesota:

And then we stumbled across a nearby exhibit that was all about Minnesota weather, and the whole visit got even better. Weather!


Friends, I highly recommend a trip over to the History Center. I'll be back soon, hopefully with a membership card in my hand, because I need to see two more exhibits: Minnesota's Greatest Generation and The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. (And maybe go back for another peek at the weather one, too.)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Marvelous Monday: Week 3

I wanted to save my headstand progress for today's marvelous tidbits, but I couldn't hold back! Even this morning's weather couldn't dampen my good spirits. I took Wish out at 8 a.m. and the temperature was -9 with a -24 degree windchill. (Okay, it's possible that my spirits were dampened - or frozen, rather - until we got back inside.) It made me remember how last winter, as we were talking more seriously about getting a dog, I was advocating for getting one ASAP instead of waiting until the spring, and Josh was a total naysayer about that. And now I concede that he was right! It would've been really hard to establish a good routine and training and exercise during cold snaps like this one.

Onward with this week's Marvelous Monday:

1) We celebrated Josh's birthday with my family last night. My dad cooked a turkey and my mom cooked the side dishes. Here's Dad, serving the turkey:

Wish came along, too, and besides being cramped in the backseat with my brother and sister, he was all, "You guys invited me to a turkey dinner and aren't letting me eat turkey?" But then he got to hang out with one of his favorite humans: my sister.

2) I am reading Crossing to Safety, a book by Wallace Stegner that came highly recommended in the End of Your Life Book Club. I'm about halfway through and there's some tension developing, which makes me think something big is coming around the bend.

3) I have experimented with various macaroni-and-cheese-made-healthy recipes over the past year: macaroni with squash, macaroni with tofu, all kinds of variations. Over the weekend, I took a break from that experiment and made just plain old regular macaroni and cheese (from this month's Bon Appetit), and that recipe is definitely going to become a staple. The panko topping alone - butter, garlic, parsley and the panko breadcrumbs all sauteed together - is a treat in itself. And it comes together quickly, and it even looks like the picture in the magazine!

4) My next quilt project is coming along. It's more of a gradual timetable than the t-shirt quilt - possibly because I am more confident this time around that it will turn into some semblance of a functioning quilt - and that makes the process more relaxing. I am finishing up the pattern's big squares and will start making it look like an actual quilt soon.

5) The exterior temperatures seemed to make it feel colder inside today, and I think even the furry dog was feeling it. This afternoon I piled under some blankets, Wish hopped up on the couch and draped himself over the blankets and around my shoulder, and we caught up on last night's episode of Girls together.

Hey! What was marvelous about your day? Have you tried any new recipes or picked up a new book lately? P.S. I will be eager to hear a certain blogger's recap of what the energy in Washington, D.C. was like today. I followed the presidential inauguration on Twitter, but I have a hunch that that wasn't quite the same as just being in the city, let alone attending the events.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Momentous occasion

I set a goal for myself on Friday and am happy to report that, in the course of one weekend, I have never before spent so much time in a headstand. Actually, I have never spent any time in a headstand at all before this weekend, and now I have. Estimates of my personal best range between two seconds and as many as five, and some efforts are less pretty than others, but either way, I am very excited about this development. It bodes well for my yoga classes, and especially for my goal of learning to do a cartwheel sometime in 2013!

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Cold and wind, that is! Whoa!

I think if you've visited Miles and Laurel more than one time, ever, you know I revel in weather chatter. Today a wild front swooped across Minnesota, and it's ushering in some Arctic air. I will take you through the day:

9:30 a.m. On our walk with Wish, I'm warm in my down jacket.

10 a.m. I start my run, and temperatures were in the low 30s. I wear a lightweight shirt, a jacket, pants, a headband, and gloves that I sometimes removed. There's a light breeze, and I really couldn't ask for better January 19 running conditions.

I run 9.5 miles (as usual, my longest since the October marathon!) and am happily surprised at how good I felt at the end. When I finish the run, the breeze has picked up a little bit and I am glad to finish before the wind blows in from western Minnesota, where temperatures are already plummeting.

1 p.m. According to Josh's car's weather gauge, the temperature is 42.

4 p.m. Josh and I venture out to get groceries and my replacement telephone. The car's weather gauge reads 28 degrees. It's decidedly less pleasant. (But my phone is up and running!)

5 p.m. We exit the grocery store, and the winds have really picked up. Back in the car, we see the temperature has dropped seven degrees in the last hour.

5:15 p.m. Wish is dismayed at the unfavorable conditions on our walk. It's a short one. We play a wild game of fetch in the house instead.

He assembles all of his favorite toys in one place and pauses momentarily to appreciate his good work.

A few minutes later, winds are gusting to 42 miles per hour. Yeep.

If you are in Minnesota, were you out and about as the weather changed today?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Three things Thursday

Gosh, Miles and Laurel lags a little when I'm honing in on a quilting project! Here it is, 10 p.m., and I just turned off my little sewing machine's light for the evening. Lots of progress - but lots more to go, which is good, because the temperatures by the end of the weekend will create primo conditions for staying inside.

Three little tidbits for today:
  1. Guess what? Sometimes that insurance that you pay for your cell phone - the same kind that makes you feel silly for forking over $5 every month - comes in handy! My phone went kaput last night, and the replacement is going to be (mostly) free. (P.S. I'm sorry if you called or texted and I haven't responded. I promise I am not giving the cold shoulder.)
  2. I got to have tea with my friend Lindsay tonight before heading to a hot yoga session!
  3. And when I got home, Wish was so excited that he tore through the house, picked up a strip of fabric from my quilting project and brought that with him, like a little streamer. Also, yesterday morning, we passed by a dead squirrel on the sidewalk, and he didn't try to eat it. I love my little dog.
What's news about your Thursday, Reader?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013






Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The dress (unabridged)

And I do mean unabridged, dear Reader. This post is just for the archives, but I hope you enjoy reading about the dress-shopping extravaganza (minus identifying details about the dress itself, of course!).

I'll freely admit I was excited but also pretty nervous going into the day. I love the group I assembled for the trip, but I'm so not usually an all-day shopper with people crowding around me with feedback. I was nervous about getting cranky and grouching at the three wonderful people who had taken the day to be with me for this experience (and thus forever remembering the fun, special day instead as The Day When The Bride Got Freakishly Grouchy). I was nervous about not finding anything and then about finding The Dress that was out of my budget. I was trying so hard to not put unrealistic pressure on myself, but there was a whole lot of unknown looming in front of me when Saturday began.

Luckily (a happy spoiler!) I had worried for nothing, so rest assured that the remaining paragraphs don't echo the previous one. (Relief!)

My mom had booked 90-minute appointments at three stores around the Twin Cities, and by the way, she was amazing. She started the day by distributing carefully assembled and very humorous survival kits for each of us, containing tissues and snacks and chocolate! The whole purpose of this post is not to give feedback about specific stores but rather so I can remember the experience - so I won't name names, although I've given positive feedback offline in some cases. I'll take you chronologically through the day.

We got to Store 1, and there were a couple of other parties in there. Over the course of the day, we'd see brides with anywhere between one or two and ten women with them. I brought my mom, my sister, and my friend Sara, and that was a great group for me. We chatted with our contact at Store 1 for a few minutes, and then we all went around and grabbed dresses that might match my ideas. I tried on a bunch (13, I think) and found one that rose above the rest. I liked it a lot, even though it was different than what I expected I would choose. You learn quickly that you get surprised with how dresses look in real life and how they fit, including both dresses that didn't originally warrant a second glance and dresses you thought you would love. I had forgotten my high heels (oops) but it wasn't a problem because I could step onto a little platform that made me look way tall!

Our contact at Store 1 was great: patient and very helpful. She was right there next to me in the fitting room, getting me in and out of the dresses and giving good advice. She didn't give a lot of specific feedback, but she knew that it was our very first appointment and first time looking at dresses together, so I think she intentionally stepped back to let me process everything. I appreciated that.

At the end of our first appointment, I asked somewhat desperately if lunch or another appointment was next. I was tired from getting into the dresses - more intricate than anything I'd ever tried on before - and from making sure I hadn't missed the right dress among my choices. It was confusing at first because it wasn't like I had tried on wedding dresses before - heck, any kind of fancy dress! - so they all felt strange and not completely natural. I did get a much better idea of what I preferred from our first stop, and I had a dress I liked. I just wasn't sure if I was supposed to actually have that fabled  "OH MY, THIS IS THE ONE" moment, but I felt good.

After the ever-important lunch (fish and chips for me!), we went to Store 2. Right away, the energy and vibe were not matching our group's. People I love have found the right dress at this store (and had a great experience, too), so it's just an example of how visit quality can vary based on any number of reasons. But the bottom line was that I was neither comfortable nor relaxed, and I wanted to get out of there. I won't dwell on this part of the day too much, but our appointment was a short one. Besides the energy, my style (and my budget) also didn't seem to match well with the store's inventory, so I wasn't clicking with the dresses I was trying. Right at the end, though, I did try on a great dress that was on par with my favorite from Store 1.

I left the second store feeling depleted because of the lackluster visit but truly content with my top two choices. I didn't feel torn. I felt like I could pick either one and be happy about what I chose.

We went into Store 3, and there were literally dozens of women milling around in the main reception area, and all I could do was laugh and kind of nonsensically start talking about Little Women with my group. Luckily, we got called to a quieter room that we had all to ourselves (with my changing room across the hall), and we met our contact there. She wanted to hear about our whole day and what I was looking for, and she made us all feel comfortable right away. She gave me a heads-up that she expected some fatigue from us, given that it was our third stop. Man, she was right on. All of the dresses in the first group were blurring together, and nothing seemed quite right to me.

When she came back to our room, I surprised myself by launching into a weird, convoluted monologue about what I was looking for and why the other ones weren't quite working. It was totally vague and didn't contain what I perceived to be specific feedback but did include broad tangents about who I am and how I see myself in a wedding dress. When she and I returned to the changing room, I said, "I'm sorry, I don't know if that was helpful at all" and she said, "Wait, I have another idea for you." She brought back a couple of dresses, and I tried on one and said, "Oh!" I went into the room with my group, and then onto the little stage with mirrors all around me. I had found the right dress for me.

It's hard to express this without unabashedly embracing a tired cliche, but the feeling I got wearing this dress was entirely different than trying on all of the others. I wanted to keep wearing it! It made me realize that the other dresses were wonderful but also not quite right for me, in contrast to feeling natural and comfortable wearing this one. I felt like myself in it, instead of someone wearing a pretty costume. (Also, I think I had a seriously tell-tale perma-grin going on the whole time we were inspecting it.) I guess all I need to say is that I learned that it was possible for me to know when the right dress came around after all, and it was thrilling. (And yes, when our contact gave us privacy to "talk about the dress" amongst ourselves, we started taking pictures with each other and me in the dress instead, and I said dramatically, "I'm going to say yes to this dress!" and we all squealed. Ha!)

I was so happy - and yes, relieved - that after trying dozens of gowns, we had found a dress I loved and in our budget. I am so grateful for my group for offering great feedback and support all day - for making the day fun! - and so grateful for our contact at Store 3. Josh and I have met a lot of people through wedding planning so far, and some of them just go above and beyond their job description. She was one of them. She was so genuine and helpful and honest, and she really listened and responded to our feedback - but was also knowledgeable and creative enough to bring out a dress that I don't think I would have flagged on the hanger or in a picture, which of course ended up being the dress I ended up buying on the spot.

I can't wait to try my dress on again later in 2013, and I really can't wait to get married in it.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Marvelous Monday: Week 2

Hi, second Monday! I got to wear 3/4-length pants for a run late last week, but that might not happen again this month. This morning started out very cold, and I was glad my car was up to the challenge. The temperatures are supposed to warm up later in the week and then take another major nosedive next week, so I will enjoy any warmish sun I can snag.

Oh. I could talk about weather all day long. Let's refocus: it's Marvelous Monday, where I like to list five marvelous things happening today or this week:

  1. I squeezed in my first real speedwork in a long time (albeit gentle speedwork) on the treadmill over my lunch hour. That's also my first treadmill run in probably a year but [warning: more weather talk coming] the sidewalks were so icy over the weekend that I wanted to take my run indoors to a safer surface. (Bonus: I stumbled across some songs on my Treadmill Mix to which I haven't listened in ages!)
  2. [More weather talk] As previously mentioned numerous times, it was really cold this morning, and when I was driving down my street en route to work, I saw a dude leave his house with bike in hand, hop on the bike and cycle away like it was no big deal. That's tough - and marvelous.
  3. I'm poaching this one from Nat, but I couldn't help but notice after she mentioned it: the days are getting longer! When I took Wish out for a stroll today after work, there was so much more light than at the same time a couple of weeks ago. Ahhh.
  4. I am cooking dinner with two pals tomorrow!
  5. I wore my bright pink corduroy pants today.

I am still so happy about this weekend's dress adventure, which I will tell you more about tomorrow.

What was marvelous about your day, Reader? Do you have a specific item of clothing that brings you a little extra cheer? Also, I just finished Little Women - any recommendations to share based on what you're reading? Do share!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Dog smiles

Yesterday a friend mentioned how great dog smiles are (in reference to one of his pup's great smiles).

I thought of that tonight when I looked over and saw Wishy flashing this grin. I definitely agree.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The dress adventure (abridged)

Oh, Reader, I promise, promise a more detailed wedding planning update soon. Sometime soon!

For today, all I'll say is how happy and lucky I feel to finish a long day of dress-shopping by feeling over the moon about the result - we've got a wedding dress!! - and so grateful for the patient, funny, wise and wonderful women who accompanied me.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Winter trees

Sometimes I forget how pretty trees in the winter can be.

Make no mistake: it's hard to top the beauty of summer trees. And even more difficult in my book, as you guys know, to top how beautiful trees in the fall are. But even without leaves, there is a certain appeal to these bare branches. They are almost somehow more interesting in this season. I was running along the river road yesterday, and there was a gorgeous contrast going on: dark trees, bright blue sky, and a brilliant sun. It didn't hurt that the temperature was nearly 40 degrees - and that by the end of the day, dreary clouds would roll in and the skies would open up with cold rain.

A happy run.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The story about the hats

Wait, I have to back up a little bit. There's more to share about Josh's birthday yesterday, but between making the carrot cake (his favorite), having dinner, wearing our hats and brainstorming wedding dance playlist material, it got to be very late and I ran out of time to tell you about it!

How it all unfolded:

Yesterday was Josh's birthday. As part of my sister's greeting on Facebook, she included a picture she had found online of this random celebratory Keeshond (not Wish, obviously), wearing a hat and eating some sort of meatloaf cake:

Josh was loving it, and I realized I had missed an important detail in the birthday celebration plans. Instead of fawning over the picture and then deciding the internet and world had fulfilled the Keeshond-wearing-birthday-hat quota, it didn't take long to decide that Wish needed a birthday hat for the evening's celebration. But I had a run planned for lunch and didn't quite have time after work to drive around looking for birthday hats! Whatever would I do?!

I have not been packing in the running miles lately but have become a big fan of blending running and commerce. I like to run to the grocery store and pick up the one or two items I need for that night's dinner (see? no impulse purchases possible that way!) and then run home. It was settled: I ran to a dollar store and bought party hats and birthday candles.

(Feel free to excuse my mega-awkward camera shadow.)

Later that evening, I got home and introduced Wish to the hats. At first, he was not having it, and I wondered if my idea was going to flop. Luckily, digging out a few of his favorite treats to have on hand worked wonders.

The outtakes:

I grated about one million carrots (vegetable-packed cake!?), got the cake in the oven, and heard the key turn in the door. I must pause and tell you - the dog owners among my readers will totally hear me here - that to my pup, this sound is one of The Most Exciting Sounds that exist in this world. I jumped up and said "WISH, COME HERE!" and waved a big chunk of his favorite treat toward the bedroom. I can't believe he choose following me into the room over attending to the door. (I told you he was treat-motivated!) I slammed the door and I think Josh was mightily confused while I got Wish ready with his hat.

Then Wish ran into the hallway to find Josh, and I heard Josh say, "Ahhhhh you're wearing a HAT!!!" Success!

They sat down together on the living room floor, and wouldn't you know, the dog lounged peacefully on the floor with his little hat on, breaking out his little Keeshond smile from time to time and relaxing with his papa.

And then I figured we should have a family photo, too, for the archives:

Our little dog has our days sweeter and sillier in so many ways, and it seems fitting that our first birthday celebration with him was like that, too.

A very happy birthday to my dear fiancé, who also makes my days brighter in so many ways.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A football hater

Not me! The dog!

Back in the fall, we tried to get Wish to like Tennessee, but it didn't work. Remember his reaction to one game this season?!

To be fair, I can't deny that this matched my own reaction to some of the losses.

I thought the NFL season might be different. But tonight I learned that we had swung and missed again, this time on adding our pup to the Denver Broncos fanbase.

I interrupted Wish trying to eat poor Miles.

Football is definitely not his sport - unless he is chasing a toy football and trying to eat that, too. How many days until pitchers and catchers report?