Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving sunset

On Thanksgiving, I got to see the sun set from one of my favorite sunset spots: the field behind my grandma's house.

The sun was already pretty low in the sky when I got out there, but the sky feels so much more expansive when you're out in a more open place.

One of my favorite tips for sunset viewing is to notice how the sunset is interacting with the space around you, not just the horizon in front of you. Sometimes I've watched a sunset and then turned 180 degrees around and noticed that the clouds behind the sunset are even more exciting than the actual sunset.

On Thanksgiving, the sunset was bouncing off the shed's windows in a beautiful way.

I was in total awe. I loved the whole thing.

Friday, November 29, 2013


Happy belated Thanksgiving! Josh and I spent the holiday in Minnesota. We missed being with family in Colorado, but we had a great day, first at my parents' house and then with a big group of extended family at my grandma's (29 of us, I heard by one count).

Here is an abridged recap via photo collage (counterclockwise from top left): my sister completing the Star Tribune turkey coloring contest as dictated by tradition, our caramel rolls at brunch, the popcorn, cranberry and orange strands we strung for display on the pine tree outside my grandma's kitchen window, Josh in the comfiest chair in my grandma's house, me proudly displaying my pecan pie.

This Thanksgiving marked the first holiday at my parents' new house. After brunch and before leaving for my grandma's house, my mom requested some time for the first family holiday photo in the new house. We are well, well versed in this particular tradition. We've done at least one for every year I've been alive.

I have a hunch, though, that it's actually getting harder, not easier, to corral all of us. My mom and I were setting up the timers on our cameras for the photos while these goofballs were goofing around, and we were both laughing so hard we were crying.

And finally:

We have so much to be thankful for, this year and always. I hope you had a great holiday.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Finding the foosball table

In this month's sibling hangout, my brother and sister and I went in search of our family's foosball table!

When I was a senior in high school, we moved into the house that my parents are now selling, and we got a foosball table. Twelve years later, Mom and Dad needed to move that foosball table out - and not to their new home. They listed it on Craigslist and found a buyer, who happened to be seeking a foosball table for a restaurant in Minneapolis named Parkway Pizza. Perfect!

It made perfect sense, then, to make Parkway Pizza the destination for our next sibling hangout, to see the foosball table in its new home. The three of us met there tonight. I got there just before my brother and sister, took a lap around the restaurant and secured a booth close to the foosball table. I started grinning as soon as I saw it.

For dinner, we ordered the Family Combo, because we are family. We got pizza, cheesy bread, and root beer. The pizza arrived and the pan took up nearly our whole table.

It was delicious. Thanks to my brother's recommendation, we had chicken and banana peppers on the pizza. I don't think I've ever had banana peppers before, let alone on a pizza. They were a perfect topping for a chilly night. Thank you, Brother!

We got a kick out of how many people played foosball over the course of our meal, too. It was in very high demand, which was really sweet to see.

Then we headed over to play a few rounds! My brother and sister started.

I guess I forgot that I'm an atrocious foosball player. My brother is a lot better. Eventually, my sister and I were on one team and my brother handled the right side of the table by himself. It was a hoot.

It was a great night out with my brother and sister, seeing something familiar in a new place. We'll definitely be back for more pizza and foosball.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Marvelous Monday: Week 47

Marvelous Monday! Here we go:

1) I ran nine miles on Saturday with Molly. Running buddies are always amazing, but especially so when the weather report looks like this when you wake up:

per Weather Underground
We haven't run together in awhile, so we got to catch up. It was great.

2) This weekend, I got a haircut! I've had it long, long, long for ages. I am happy to make a change, happy with the cut, and happy I got to spend the afternoon with my mom. (Thank you, Mom!)

3) It was a chilly weekend, but it also served as a good reminder of how comfortable being outside can feel if you're dressed for the weather. I took long walks with Josh and Wish, and I was extra-grateful for my favorite hat and down jacket. I'm beginning my second winter with the down jacket, and it's a game-changer for me.

4) I have a batch of Moosewood chili to work my way through this week.

5) I've got yoga class on tap this evening!

I'm also looking forward to time with my family, extended and immediate, for the Thanksgiving holiday and weekend.

What's nice about the start of your week? Where will you spend Thanksgiving? And what's your key to staying warm in chilly weather?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Some early works

Because of my parents' in-progress move to a new house, there are lots and lots of boxes of papers through which Mom is sorting, and I am working my way through piles of my writing. As soon as I figured out how to write, I wrote a lot, and it's a hoot to look back at the scribbles.

My reading materials ranged from George Orwell, whose work I assessed very seriously in one review...

(My dad read Animal Farm and 1984 to me as bedtime stories, and this review is funny to me because I'm pretty sure the first time we read Animal Farm together, I did think it was about horses.) self-published works:

Although A Book About Me retailed for a mere dollar, it's only six pages long, with 15 words total. Sales were not high.

I also kept a lot of journals. Here is one noteworthy P.S.:

It's worth noting that the drawing above is a pumpkin and this entry is dated Oct. 31, 1991, the day of Minnesota's wild Halloween Blizzard. In it, I outline my Halloween costume and plans but make no note of the snow, apparently choosing instead of highlight Jessica Gold's triumph in one of my favorite TV shows.

The following excerpts are from one edition of "The Rebecca Press." I don't remember doing this, but judging from the box of papers, I produced this frequently, mostly handwritten and usually filing reports on what my family members did that day. This one turns third-person autobiographical.

In the "Taste" chapter:

"Her favorite food is pepperoni pizza. Rebecca's favorite pop is A&W Creme Soda. She loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Her favorite pie is apple. Rebecca's favorite cake is vanilla. Her favorite kind of ice cream is vanilla. Her favorite fruit is strawberries. Rebecca's favorite vegetable is cauliflower with cheese sauce."

Shifting to "TV" and "Books":

"Her favorite TV show is 'Saved by the Bell.' Rebecca's favorite boy character is Mark Paul Gosselar who plays Zack Morris on Saved by the Bell. Rebecca's girl TV character is Carrie on Little House on the Prairie. Her favorite series of books is the Babysitter Club. Her favorite character is Kristy."

I also found several Christmas lists that I'll save for later. And just to be clear, "Saved by the Bell" is still one of my favorite shows.

So many questions for you, Reader. Who were your favorite TV characters growing up? Did you love "Carmen Sandiego" like I did? And do you think I get to count cauliflower-with-cheese-sauce as a vegetable?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Scarf time

I will throw a party the year that I figure out how to store all of my scarves, hats, mittens and gloves in one place at the end of the winter.

For some reason, I am convinced every spring that I will likely never need these accessories again, let alone all at the same time. This attitude leads to me haphazardly squirreling away hodge-podge bags of winter accessories around the home. I found a bag of hats and a few gloves a few weeks ago in one closet, and then found the more exciting bag with my favorite hats and scarves in a completely different storage space this week. (Maybe this should be a January 1 resolution instead of wishful thinking.)

Anyway, after a couple of 45-degree days this week, I dressed up our dog in a scarf and promptly forgot my own scarf yesterday, when I actually needed it.

It's going to be a chilly weekend in Minnesota. Find your scarves and bundle up!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

On running

Lately, I've been thinking more about running.

I really haven't trained with any direction since last October, when I finished my eighth marathon. This summer, I worked back up to an 11-mile long run and ran a couple of 5Ks for fun - and I didn't feel any urgency to do more. Some months I focused on yoga. Some weeks were busy with wedding planning. Sometimes I just enjoyed not having to slip-slide on icy sidewalks for hours on a Saturday morning or hit the roads at 5:30 a.m. (or earlier) to beat the heat. I took a couple of weeks in the fall completely off from running, and then remembered that I liked leisurely leaf-watching strolls just as much as a run.

Chilly and gray November is a strange time for that motivation to return, but for whatever the reason, here it is. (Maybe because it's too cold for leisurely strolls and I still can barely stand the treadmill!) I've built back up to running around 20 miles per week, and that usually looks like three to four weekday runs of three to five miles plus one weekend run that's ideally a little longer.

If you've stuck around Miles and Laurel through marathon training cycles, you know I love thinking about how lessons learned in running apply to life. Here are the reminders I've picked up this fall:

#1 There are no shortcuts.
Of course it's possible to regain fitness and endurance, but the process sure is gradual. I can't jump back into track workouts and even try to hit the splits I was running back in marathon training or head out for a 16-miler on a whim to see how it goes. The best way to build running endurance is pretty simple. You have to run, and then, a little bit at a time, run a little farther. And if you push and rush that process, your body will fuss, rebel and protest. You have to be patient.

#2 Celebrate successes.
In the midst of all that patience, I do believe firmly in assessments. To be sure, I'm not breaking any personal records, and the days when I used to jot down "easy 18 miles" in my training log feel very (and sometimes very, very) far away. But right now I measure progress in other ways. Sometimes progress means not needing to walk at the top of a hill that had tuckered me out the week before. Sometimes progress is feeling excited to go for a run, instead of assuming it will be a slog. Whenever you can, notice it and be kind to yourself about it instead of lamenting how far other benchmarks may feel. Sometimes on a run (I'm not kidding) I say a tiny "good job" out loud to myself.

#3 Identify your obstacles and work on overcoming them.
Think about what motivates you (or stifles your motivation), then give yourself chances to thrive and have success. For me, it's harder to motivate myself to get out in the dark morning or evening, so I try to run at lunch, even if it means a shorter run than I'd normally be able to do after work. If running in the dark is my only option, I make sure to have my reflective gear and blinky lights. Find what running clothing works best for you, and then have those pieces close by: a hat if it's rainy, your favorite layers for a chilly run. If I'm running inside, I like putting new songs on my iPod. It's motivating for me to see parts of the Twin Cities I don't normally visit outside of running, so last weekend, I picked a route that sent me into a park I haven't been to in ages. It was more fun because of that.

#4 Think about goals.
This can be very firm or very loose, and it depends on what kind of goal you need. Sometimes in my training I've done well with keeping my eye on a very specific goal: an event, finish time, or goal pace. Sometimes (i.e. in all of 2013) I've done better with more flexibility. I'm thinking about long-term goals, but right now, my goal is simply to be consistent: first three runs each week, now four. That helps keep me on track. I'm working my way back to longer long runs, a little bit at a time. That's what works for me right now.

What works for you? What keeps you motivated? What have you learned this fall, and what personal successes have you noticed lately?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Marvelous Monday: Week 46

What a weekend!

On Saturday, Josh and I drove all over the metro area. On Sunday, we thought about what we'd seen.

And today we bought a car for me!

I said goodbye to my 2000 Mazda Protege, which accompanied me for 60,000 miles from age 21 to 29. I bought it in the summer before my junior year of college and learned how to drive a stick shift en route to my first internship, in downtown St. Paul. (I might have acquired its first dent in the parking ramp for said internship, when I may have forgotten to put on the emergency brake, looked back as I walked into work that day and saw the car rolling backwards toward a cement post.)

Nine years later, we've been trying to squeeze a few more miles out of it, but it had become increasingly less reliable (and as a result, especially in the winter, less safe). So I'll start my 30s with another Mazda - this time, a Mazda 3 - and I'm happy and grateful for the switch.

That is the highlight of Marvelous Monday, but here are five more tidbits:

1) Wish and I went for a run today. He was mildly patient all weekend with our car-related visits and research but needed to run off some energy, so we trotted around the neighborhood. We're building up his endurance.

2) The kitchen was hopping yesterday and I made smoky pulled pork tacos via the crockpot, quick minestrone for the week's lunches, and blondies (just for fun). And Josh made paninis!

3) I got my December Bon Appetit over the weekend and the cover features holiday cookie recipes.

4) It's going to be 50 degrees tomorrow!

5) I have been delving into the wonderful world of stencils and will tell you about that project soon.

What's marvelous about the start of your week, Reader? What's your favorite holiday cookie? And what was your first (or favorite) car?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Snoozing on bricks

This weekend I caught our odd dog trying to use part of our fireplace as a pillow.

He is certainly an innovative, enthusiastic napper.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A quiet weekend run

One of my favorite things about running is getting to see my city in different lights.

Specifically, seeing the neighborhoods on a weekend morning is particularly wonderful. Depending on where you are and when you're there, you might see lots of other runners, walkers and cyclists - or barely anyone at all.

Today's run fell into the latter category.

It's fun to get this look at a city that nearly 300,000 people call home.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hello, bench

I'll cut right to the chase: some of you know how I delight in seeing things (both small and significant) that I've never noticed before along my daily paths. It happened today!

Today was a wonderful, beautiful, sunny, 56-degree November day, and I went for a run and pushed up my sleeves. I was on a street that finds its way into many of my routes. I've run on this block's sidewalk at least dozens - and honestly, maybe hundreds - of times.

And what do you know? Today, for the first time, I noticed an old bench built into a yard's slope, a perfect little place to pause, stretch and maybe even take a seat and watch the cars go by. How did I miss this bench so many times? I actually did a double-take and stopped to inspect it (but did not sit down). There are some letters engraved on the bench, but they're worn away and I couldn't string them together.

There are always new things to see.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

One year ago

A year ago today, I had no idea what was in store for us over the next 12 months!

Josh and I flew to Atlanta, drove up to Tennessee and stayed for a week at a cabin (booked via Airbnb!) bordering Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We saw our first Tennessee game at Neyland Stadium, drove around the national park, went hiking, and spent a lot of time sitting with books and cups of coffee on our cabin's magnificent porch:

I don't know that yet another view from that porch is pertinent, but I'll share one for good measure because it's one of my favorite things ever:

On the second to last day of our trip, on the porch at sunrise, Josh asked me to marry him!

Here we are later in the day, en route to Clingman's Dome, the highest point in the national park. I will help you interpret my facial expression: "EEEEEEEEE!"

We were very excited to celebrate with our family and friends, and we didn't want a very long engagement, so we got to work as soon as we got back to Minnesota. Exactly a month later (Dec. 13), we booked our reception venue - and then exactly nine months after that, we got married.

Right off the bat, I wished the engagement was a little shorter, but we chose September because 1) we both love fall in Minnesota and 2) we hoped to reduce the chances of a heat wave. (We were deciding between Sept. 6 and Sept. 13, and Josh lobbied for the 13th because it was later and thus likely cooler. I teased him a little, but sure enough, the temperature approached 90 on Sept. 6 and had settled back into the mid-60s for Sept. 13.)

But truly, I'm happy now that we had 10 months, because it was a really marvelous window of time. When I think back on the last year, so many things happened that I'm grateful we didn't crunch: how our relationship evolved, the special times with our families, our marriage preparation classes, the wedding planning conversation threads with my mom via a sprawling Pinterest board, and very sweet and fun celebrations with family and friends who supported us as we started the new adventure.

I'm not sure if we'll keep marking this date in the years to come, but today I'm thinking of the porch in Tennessee!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Marvelous Monday: Week 45

I had a great weekend that included some bowling, a birthday celebration with old friends, and some much-needed couch time on Sunday evening with a very tired dog after yesterday's outdoor festivities. I have never seen Wish so utterly tuckered out. He's not usually one to snuggle with me too much, but last night on the couch, he wedged his head next to my collarbone and fell into a deep sleep with my arm around him.

Five more marvelous tidbits:

1) After too many days away from the yoga studio this summer and fall, I thought it would be prudent to stop my membership. It was the right decision for now - I'm running a little more and have gym access through work - but I recently decided to sign up for a weekly Monday night yoga class, also through work. That means tonight was my first yoga class since midsummer, and I was so happy. It's power yoga, like I was doing at the studio, and it's so, so good for my mind and body - even though I expect some sore arms tomorrow. At this time, a weekly class works much better for me than a monthly studio membership, and I'm very excited to get back into it.

2) Today's temperatures were cold, but the sun was out, and that makes a huge difference.

3) A year ago this week on a porch in Tennessee, Josh asked me to marry him!

4) I've got a new recipe for butternut squash and sage lasagna that I'm excited to try out this week. (Although tonight was not the weeknight to roast the squash, cook the noodles, assemble the layers and then wait another 45 minutes until it's ready to eat. Nachos for dinner!!!)

5) My Road ID mysteriously went on the lam for a long time - I velcro the tag to my shoes, so I truly have no idea what happened to it. Whatever happened, its absence is bad because I take very seriously the habit of carrying ID with me when I run. (I've been grabbing my license, but I love the Road ID because it's attached to my shoe at all times and thus impossible to forget - unless, of course, it goes on the lam.) I finally ordered a replacement Road ID, complete with my new information, and I think it should arrive tomorrow.

Finally, it's Veterans Day, and among other vets, I've been thinking of both of my grandpas: two dear men who served in World War II.

I hope your week is starting out well, Reader.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A new favorite place

This fall, the big news in my family is that my parents are moving!

Mom and Dad have found a house in a different neighborhood in their current city that's a much better fit for them now that my brother, sister and I aren't living at home. It's great for them for so many reasons, and I am so excited for them and looking forward to the good times we'll have in the new home.

We've been to the house a few times, but today was Wish's first visit.

His favorite feature is undoubtedly the fenced-in backyard. With the exception of occasional trips to the tennis court with my dad, he has never been off leash outside with us! I've been excited to show him the backyard ever since the first time I saw it for myself. He was a little uncertain momentarily but didn't need to be nudged twice before going into full gallop mode.

We raked a lot of leaves with my parents and sister, ate pancakes, and threw Wish's football over and over.

He'd race back and forth around the backyard, several lengths at a time, like this...

...and then he'd need a break and plop down in the grass.

We got home a couple of hours ago, and I think he has been asleep for the better part of the afternoon since we got in the car. He is a happy dog after the first of many visits to this backyard.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Another leaf pile

If today's gusty winds aren't reminder enough, the leaves are on their way out, and it did snow earlier in the week. There will be a cap on 2013's leaf photos.

But it's not happening this week. I forgot how pretty they look all frozen in the morning!

Happy Saturday to you and yours!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday sunrise

This morning I was enjoying a cup of coffee in the kitchen, and outside the closest window, I noticed pink clouds off in the distance. We don't have super sunrise views in our current home - something I aim to fix at some point in my life - so this is about the best indicator that a fabulous sunrise is going on. I gasped and scurried outside, and I wasn't disappointed.

My favorite part of this morning's sunrise is that when I got back inside, I had a new text on my phone from my mom, who had shared a picture of her own view of the sunrise at the exact same time that I was out watching it in my city. What can I say? It runs in the family.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Movie night

This evening I was walking Wish around the neighborhood, and we strolled past a group of kids batting around a balloon, trying to keep it in the air. It lifted momentarily out of their reach, and one howled, "Gone with the wind!"

I was tickled by this, because all day, I have been looking forward to my evening plan. You'll see how it connects in a moment.

You may remember how I enjoyed reading Gone With the Wind this summer - and when I expressed that, some of you insisted that I must watch the film adaptation. (How nice that such an activity would also support #97 See five classic movies on my 101 in 1,001 list!) Awhile back, I was browsing upcoming classic movies, and I found a quite rare "Gone With the Wind" TV showing on TCM. Last night, the DVR successfully recorded it!

I've made a pan of macaroni and cheese, and tonight, I'm going to sit down under a quilt and watch all four hours of "Gone With the Wind."

Also, this happened today:

Anyway, have you see the movie and/or read the book, and how do they compare? And do you have a favorite classic movie? I need to branch out in this category, because to me, a really beloved classic movie is something like Rookie of the Year. Help me, Reader!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November leaves

Everything in Minnesota is happening two weeks later than usual this year because spring arrived late, so there is a weird amount of bright leaves still left on the trees.

But it's snowing tonight - November does average nine inches of snow in the Twin Cities, after all - and that means this could be the last round of leaf pictures!

These photos, by the way, are courtesy of a few miles around the streets of St. Paul. These leaves won't be around too much longer, so I love to get outside when they're still so bright.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Marvelous Monday: Week 44

Hi, Monday! I'm settling back into life at home after a full weekend on the road.

1) The New York City Marathon was yesterday, and even though I had absolutely nothing to do with it, I can't help but marvel every year at wonderful, enormous races like this one. I do hope to run it someday, and I'm so proud of my friends (and everyone else) who did yesterday!

2) I ran today at lunch. It rained on and off and that made it chilly, so that wasn't particularly marvelous, but the windy weekend meant there were tons of wet, bright leaves on the ground that were so beautiful.

3) Last night I pulled together the pumpkin-black bean soup that I like to make in the fall and winter, so I'm starting the week with good leftovers for lunch. (Today's lunch also included a pretzel bun, which is pretty much my favorite soup accessory ever.) This Sunday soup stuff is turning into a pattern and I'm happy about it.

4) I saw pictures on Facebook today of a golden retriever festival and it's about as great as you can imagine.

5) It's Monday and my beloved "Hart of Dixie" is on TV tonight.

Anything particularly marvelous about the start of your week? Favorite TV shows this fall? And truly, can you imagine a better festival than a golden retriever festival?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Back home

We woke up in Missouri this morning, and here we are now, back in Minnesota!

This weekend, with two of our friends, Josh and I trekked south to see the Tennessee Volunteers play the Missouri Tigers in Columbia, Missouri - the SEC school nearest in proximity to Minnesota!

We had a great trip with our friends (even though the score did not go, shall we say, in Tennessee's favor). I'll tell you lots more this week, but for now, I'll leave you with a photo of one of my favorite tailgating Missouri vehicles we saw to show you the enthusiastic spirit in Columbia this weekend:

Hope your week starts out well, Reader. (And, win or lose, go Vols!)

Friday, November 1, 2013


We are hitting the road today with friends...

...and we'll be wearing orange!

Can you guess?!

Back soon!