Tuesday, September 30, 2014

In a new place

We're here!!

The past five days have been a whirlwind of signing papers, getting keys, painting, carrying boxes, unpacking some of those boxes, and making trips to the hardware store. Of course, we haven't done that all on our own. We are very grateful for all of the people who helped us get here.

I handed over the keys to our apartment tonight and unpacked one more carload full of odds and ends. Now I'm sitting at the table in our dining room. Wish is curled up in a little ball next to me, tuckered out after these days full of new hallways and corners and smells. Josh is putting together a bookcase in the adjacent living room, and we've got playoff baseball on the TV. Two of our neighbors dropped by last night to say hello.

It's pretty wonderful how quickly this house structure can begin to feel like our home.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Moving along

This morning I went for what I expect to be my last run starting from this front door. Cardboard boxes are the sole decoration in our apartment right now. (Wish only likes them when he's leaping over them.) Over the last month, we've been looking back fondly over the last four years at this address (four years!) and making plans for the next one.

In the next few days, we'll be in our new home!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A sibling stroll

Tonight my sister hosted my brother and me for dinner at her new apartment!

After the wonderful dinner we went for a walk around town. I love these warm-enough September nights.

The above photo may be a tad blurry because we may have used the video function on my cell phone as a substitute for my camera's timer and then grabbed a still image out of the 45 seconds of footage. (I need not post the video of that process.)

The evening was such a treat. Thanks to my brother and sister for making this happen!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

All of a sudden

In Minnesota, the leaves are changing - and this year the fall colors snuck up on me! It seemed like there were hints of yellow and orange around the neighborhood earlier in the month, but all of a sudden, the colors are brilliant.

It's the time of year when you take an extra little break here and there during a run to look up at the sky.

This is my first post of 2014 about fall colors but likely not the last. This may be my favorite time of the year.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bear Water Run 2014

Last weekend was Bear Water Run!

I've run this 10- and 20-mile race three times before, once with Molly and always the 20-mile distance. (Here's my 2012 recap.) I always loved to run it as part of my training for a fall marathon because it's so nice to have a 20-mile route planned out for you, in a different place, with most of the participants treating the race like a long run in their own marathon training, too. Because of its mid-September timing, Bear Water Run often coincides with the season's first wave of cool weather, which is another treat after long runs through the summer.

I haven't been logging those long, long runs this summer, though, and I didn't think this race was in the cards for me this year. But then Molly asked if I wanted to run the 10-mile option, and I did, and it turned out that officially registering for the race a few weeks back was a good kickstart toward more consistent running. I moved my long run distance up for a couple of weeks in a row until I got to eight miles the week before the race, which was close enough to 10 miles for me.

On Saturday morning, the temperature was around 40 degrees when we arrived in White Bear Lake, about half an hour outside the Twin Cities. It had clearly been colder overnight: the first frost I've seen this season!

I choose a long-sleeve quarter-zip shirt over a t-shirt with 3/4 running tights, the warmest running outfit I've worn in months. Molly—who was doing the 20-mile option and would be out on the course later into the morning—went for a short-sleeve shirt, vest, 3/4 tights and gloves. For people running a fall marathon, this race is also a really good opportunity to practice what clothes, shoes, and food and drink work best for a long run.

Bear Water Run is low-key in a great way. Here's the finish area:

We got started at 8 a.m., and the first several miles flew by. The course meandered along White Bear Lake, through residential neighborhoods, and over rolling hills. It was wonderful to run in a different-for-us place with my dear running buddy, and we were chatting the whole way. About seven or eight miles in, I started to feel the effort more, and I told Molly that I might want to walk or stretch. She asked which one, and I hemmed and hawed and said, "I don't know. Let's keep going." She suggested that we slow down a little, I agreed, and that seemed to be just the ticket. We ran the rest of the way.

I know the last mile of this course well from previous years' races, and as I got closer to the finish, I felt that little burst of pride that finds me as I'm approaching a finish line. (I think I told Molly how happy I was about six times in the last mile.) After lighter training this summer, I was pleased and grateful to work my way back up to the 10-mile distance and finish it feeling good. Molly headed out for her second loop, and I crossed the finish line and grinned.

I changed into warmer clothes and ate and drank (this is the event with pickles among the post-race refreshments!), and then I just relaxed at the park near the finish line while Molly worked her way through the second loop.

When I turned toward the lake from my spot at a picnic table, this was my view:

A finish line is a great place, and I loved sitting there on a gorgeous morning, watching families cheering for their runners—and then cheering for Molly as she finished 20 miles!

It's no secret: I love Bear Water Run. We had a great time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Watching the lake

Part of the weekend included a visit to Tin Fish at Lake Calhoun, a patio that I've visited more this year than ever before. When I first visited, halfway through a bike ride on a warm Friday afternoon earlier in the summer, the lines were long and the patio was packed. Lately, with cooler weather, the patio has been much quieter.

When Josh and I were there over the weekend, we sat in one of the bar-height double Adirondack chairs overlooking the water. It was a windy afternoon, and instead of the usual kayakers and paddleboarders, we saw lots of people sailing and zipping around the lake on windsurfing boards. I'm not sure windsurfing is in the cards for me anytime soon, but it was beautiful to watch.

Our view:

I'm hoping I'll be out on this lake at least once more yet this fall for more kayaking. It's a wonderful place.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

One year ago

This weekend, Josh and I celebrated our first anniversary!

We spent most of the afternoon outside on two different Minneapolis patios on a sunny, cool afternoon. We exchanged letters, partly because the traditional first anniversary gift is paper and partly because we loved including letters to each other in our wedding day a year ago. We also visited the historic mansion where we celebrated at our reception, and my sister kindly met us there for what might become a little anniversary tradition: a photo on the front steps, set up like one of my favorite wedding photos from that day. We had to scramble to take this year's photo quickly because guests were just starting to arrive for another wedding!

I loved our first anniversary celebration - and I am beyond grateful for my wonderful husband.

Friday, September 12, 2014

In between seasons

As the forecast earlier in the week suggested, that cool and rainy weather did arrive. Josh and I went for a walk before work one morning and I saw these pretty raindrops piled on leaves.

It's not the heart of autumn by any means—I haven't started making soups yet and warmer weather will be back in the week ahead—but I have worn a fall jacket and I am making some sort of baked caprese pasta for dinner tonight, which I imagine to be a nod to both the fading season and the upcoming one.

One definitely wonderful aspect of these cooler temperatures: running in them. I'm lacing up my shoes for 10 miles tomorrow morning with Molly, and with the temperature at the start will be hovering around 40 degrees, which is just about my favorite running weather. No time goals for me—I'll be happy when I cross the finish line. I'm excited to start Saturday with one of my favorite local races.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

10 Books

Have you seen the "10 books" challenge that's been circling Facebook lately? The idea is to list 10 books: not the Best books, not your Favorite books, but simply 10 of the books that have stayed with you since you read them. I've loved seeing what books my friends have listed, and then when Stephanie went and wrote her blog post on this topic, I started daydreaming about what my own list might include and finally decided to write my picks down.

Like Stephanie, many of mine are from my first 10-15 years as a reader, a realization that surprised me initially. For all of my life, reading has been a vehicle through which I explore other perspectives and ideas. I've never stopped reading for that reason. I do wonder if that experience was more startling and thus more formative in different stages of those first 15 years, from the first chapter books I read to the wonderful English class in my senior year of high school that introduced me to modern fiction.

And before I begin the list: yes, I have many more in my head that didn't fit in the first group of 10!

10 books that have stayed with me

The Giver: This may actually be the book I've read the greatest number of times in my life.

Stargirl: If Stargirl had been around when I was a kid, it might have rivaled The Giver in total times read. This book came out in 2000, and I think I discovered it in college.

Number the Stars

Animal Farm, which my dad read to me as a bedtime story in elementary school

The God of Small Things and The Things They Carried, both from that high school English class

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (and the sequels that followed)

The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir

What is the What

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life: I read this collection of essays during a day of train and air travel, and I was in tears or close to it practically the entire time.

Just choosing these 10 books makes me want to re-read every one, in addition to so many of the books that my friends have mentioned. I will have a long reading list this fall.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Monday notes

Much like last Monday's post, I'm here to report that Josh and I spent big chunks of Sunday packing and organizing and preparing for our move in a couple of weeks. We get more and more excited about our house the more work we do, and just the simple task of labeling each box with its destination in our future home builds on that feeling. Soon we'll be in our new house!

Other Monday updates:

1) I ran eight miles on Saturday, my longest run in a few months! Molly nudged me to sign up for the 10-mile option of a great local race, and it's this weekend, so I've been slowly bumping up my mileage to prepare. She's running the 20-mile version, so I'll get to run one loop with her before she's on her merry way for 10 more miles.

2) This dog:

3) One year ago this week we were getting ready to get married! I love thinking back to the days leading up to our wedding.

4) Some autumn weather is swooping in later this week. I dug out my sweaters.

5) Chilaquile casserole tonight for dinner using tomatoes from the garden, fresh sweet corn and a farmers market zucchini - a big departure from how I assemble this dish in the colder months!

I'm off to pop outside to see if the clouds have cleared enough to reveal tonight's harvest moon.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Recipe adventures

In the last 1,001 days (well, just under that), I've tried a lot of new recipes, thanks to this goal:

#82 Cook one new recipe per month.

With a batch of Moosewood Tuscan beans with sage I cooked on Monday, I've checked the longest ongoing goal off my list: a new recipe in all 33 months!

Not surprisingly, there was an ebb and flow to my progress: there were some months in which I tried a bunch of new recipes and jotted down only the first one, and others that found me focusing on tried-and-true recipes (or not cooking much at all). I loved this goal, though. I liked the little nudge to actually act on a recipe I bookmark online or tear out of a magazine (Cook's Country, Bon Appetit and Cooking Light are some of my favorites), and as the months went on, I started noticing types of recipes toward which I gravitate. I've had a lot of fun cooking in my little kitchen over the last four years. It's funny to imagine that next month I'll be cooking in a totally different space.

Among the 33+ new recipes I tried, there were some that I especially loved trying, and some that I went on to prepare over and over again. These are eight of my favorites, in chronological order:

  1. April 2012: sweet corn and quinoa with honey-lemon vinaigrette from Iowa Girl Eats. This became a true staple in our household this summer. (Also, I think I spelled "vinaigrette" wrong for my entire life until now.)
  2. May 2012: salted nut roll bars. I've made at least a few batches of these each year since finding this recipe.
  3. August 2012: smoky pulled pork tacos (also from Iowa Girl Eats). This recipe tops the list of my go-to slow cooker meals.
  4. March 2013: best birthday cake via Smitten Kitchen. My friend Nora introduced me to this cake, and I think it was the first cake I made from scratch. I haven't tried the chocolate frosting pictured in the post - I usually pair it with a vanilla buttercream frosting. And besides the cake my mom makes for my birthday, this really is the best birthday cake.
  5. August 2013: tomatillo salsa verde. In our CSA box that month, we got a box of tomatillos, with which I had never tried cooking before. I loved roasting them in the oven and loved this salsa.
  6. September 2013: sweet corn and bacon skillet mac and cheese. (Again, this is from Iowa Girl Eats, though I promise she has not compensated me.) I have not cooked this recipe over and over again, but this week's combination of having leftover bacon in the fridge and seeing this recipe on the list prompted me to revisit it - and I'm glad I did.
  7. October 2013: lasagna soup thanks to a Kowalski's Market recipe I found adapted for a blog via my Google search! This is my favorite soup at the local Kowalski's deli, and I ending up cooking it several times last fall.
  8. January 2014: slow-cooked carnitas. I found this recipe for Josh's birthday, and I think this will be his traditional birthday dinner for a long time.
This is another item I'd like to have on my next 101 in 1,001 list - and another one I can't believe is complete!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The start of September

We've spent big blocks of the last few days getting ready for our move later this month—packing, prepping, organizing and cleaning—and feel good about the progress!

Five other notes:

1) I did start the weekend with a run: On Saturday morning I ran with Molly, two of our former cross-country teammates and one of their partners. I haven't run with a group that large since I was part of the running club a few years back, and I loved it. I was only with Molly and the crew for six of the 17 miles she eventually covered, but those miles flew by as we talked both as a large group and in pairs.

2) We took a break in between errands on Sunday for lunch outside at Anchor Fish & Chips in Northeast. The view from my seat:

3) I said before that our home projects were on hold, but we wanted to do one more: recovering four chairs for our new dining room. I read several tutorials online, but the one I recommend most is a Martha Stewart video on the topic. Josh used needle-nose pliers to rip out the staples on each seating pad's previous cover while I cut fabric, fit each piece to the chair and stapled it back on. This project was easier than we thought, especially once I got past the first chair's first corner.



We liked the final result!

4) I might have also made a mini table runner modeled after the checkerboards in Tennessee's endzones to use up a leftover piece of duckcloth from last fall's table runner projects. And Josh and I were happy about many components of Tennessee's big win on Sunday night! I loved hearing how loud the crowd at Neyland when the team ran through the T and during other key moments. There were some great college football games this weekend.

5) As I sorted out my books, I discovered that I had two copies of Jerry Spinelli's book Stargirl, a pleasing realization. I hope this happened because I just bought duplicate copies of this wonderful book at different stages of my life, not because one copy belongs to someone else.

6) This guy elected to spend a lot of time lounging in his room (his crate) while we were packing and organizing this weekend, but he loved a long walk on Saturday.

Last night, Josh grilled bacon cheeseburgers on pretzel buns, I made Oreo ice cream, and we watched "The Way, Way Back," which I loved. We are ready for the first week of September.