re-entry

Back to real life… let me just say, it’s hard work, yo!

Tough re-entry areas:

1.  Sleep – I didn’t get enough while I was down in New Orleans.  I’m not sure what it is about that city but seriously, you just don’t catch any zzz’s.  (Okay… I have an idea)  I would wake up early and go to bed late.  I’m completely beat.

sweet potato fries, I’m tired

2.  Despite it being a “workation”, it’s always different from being in the office.  There is a sense of immediacy when you are in the office that is lightened when off doing some conferencing.  Now, I’m back.  All the emails.

3.  Umm… it snowed here last night.  It was 27* here today.  In New Orleans, I got a sunburn and sweated my brains out.  I preferred the latter.  What’s up MI?!

4.  Poor Simon seriously missed me.  He barely leaves my side and wakes me up many times a night – I think he just wants to make sure I’m still there.  I always miss the little guy as well so we had a nice reunion.

5.   Foods.  I miss some of the food I had in New Orleans.  I will get more into this in my next post but I definitely enjoyed all that the city/culture has to offer.  At the same time, I suffered for this!  I’m transitioning back into my normal lifestyle.  In some ways it’s harder than I anticipated.  I really did forget how easy it is to go out and pick up ready made food as opposed to cooking.  Now, I don’t want to cook.  However, I’m back to that point where I think I’m hungry but feel crummy so I can’t tell.  As sadistic as it sounds, it was worth it!

does there really need to be a caption here?!

6.  Exercising.  Again, another topic I will touch on in my next post but we barely sat down while there.  I even went for a run with one of my travel mates!  It was great!  Since he is fairly new to the running scene I think it was the first time for him to run in a foreign city (or at least recently).  We both agreed it was best way to get your bearings and see interesting things.  Not to mention, people said we were bad asses.  I want to keep up this momentum despite me wanting so much rest.

7.  Lack of blogging – I’ve missed writing and you all!  I need to kick start my posting/reading back in action!

8.  Actually having a schedule to follow.  This is probably the biggest difficulty for me.  I love not having a schedule but I also appreciate a routine – yep, there is no way to make me happy.  Getting back into the routine takes energy and intentionality, which I’m currently working through.  In New Orleans, it was simply more fluid; Saturday and Sunday I didn’t even know what day it was or have a clear understanding of time.  It was pretty nifty.  My alarm went off in the morning and I couldn’t figure out what the noise was or why it as assaulting my brain.

I have a feeling many of you can relate to these types of “concerns” whether it be a vacation or any kind of upheaval of regular life.  Next post I’m going to detail some specifics of my trip that definitely deserve high lighting.  Can’t wait to catch up with all of you as well!

the impending hauntings of me

I’m on an official countdown to my three day weekend… actually by the time I post this it will be even CLOSER – excitement!

I love days off from the daily grind.  I don’t always use the time wisely but sleeping in when I’m supposed to be at work is nice.  It makes it seem even more special than sleeping in on the weekend.  I relish not having to set an alarm.  Tomorrow?  I’m headed out to B & R for an ice cream coffee milkshake (yep – totally accepting this flies in the face of yesterday’s whiny post about sugar), and it is “sugar free”!  Yay!  Bring on weird chemicals!

my message to dairy

I do have some reasoning behind it though.  I’m going to test out some Lactaide to see if this helps with some of my tummy upset with regards to dairy.  I can do a little bit but when it comes in giant helpings, it’s a game changer.  Since I will be traveling next week, I won’t have as much control over my coffee ingredients and I want to try a bunch of foods.  I recognize taking pills in order to eat is a bit on the ridiculous side but in this case, I’m okay with it.

The other night I was sort of drifting in and out of sleep on the couch.  It was late but it seemed like too much effort to get off of the couch, take my meds, take out my contacts, wash my face and then go to bed.  So, I was laying there and suddenly my brain started thinking about our housing arrangements for New Orleans.  There are a couple of us staying in a house-share type deal and my brain went all Supernatural on me.  GHOSTS.

pleasenopleasenopleasenopleaseno

Listen folks, I believe in ghosts.  I know my last apt was haunted and I am anticipating this one will be too.  Because you know, it’s the south and New Orleans – I think everything is haunted down there.  I’ve decided I will need to be able to pick my room and be able to feel out the ju-ju to make sure it doesn’t feel ghosty.  If all of them do, I’m going to put some salt around my bed.

Naturally, by me simply thinking of this means I am going to have some vivid dreams/nightmares while I am down there.  Due to my extremely active imagination, I can make things come true in my mind.  My doubting travel companions shake their heads in skepticism but they’ve been warned.  Hope they can fall back to sleep when I start crying out in the night!

maybe I should just try this option…

Oh and I plan on going to some variation of a fortune-teller and/or a psychic.  Not the crystal ball type, maybe taro cards?  I’m not quite sure which one just yet and this will certainly play into my weirdo brain even more.  What can I say?  I’m masochist!

Would you ever go to a fortune-teller/psychic?

indy wrap up – written between naps

Since I returned from Indy, I’ve been exhausted.  I attribute this to the following:

1. Long run on Sunday

2. Late nights and early mornings

3. Sitting in sessions all day – my brain is tired.

4. Heavy meals.  REALLY heavy meals.

5. TONS of walking

While I had a good time, I was very happy to be home.  Of course for the last few days, all I’ve done is nap off and on and go to the bathroom.  TMI?

Well, just hang with me for a few minutes…

I traveled with some serious food-lovers.  This wasn’t a negative, I love food as well so it worked out to the benefit of all of us.  I tried a few new things and we tried to hit up as many local places as possible.  I ate my first etouffee – a chilly cheese version with crawfish.  YUM!  I love crawfish!

Then I discovered a pecan praline.  Maybe I’ve had one before?  It couldn’t have been that good because I forgot all about it.  Needless to say, I won’t forget about this one anytime soon!

this was massively sweet and it took me four days to eat - worth it!
this was massively sweet and it took me four days to eat – yum!

A bison burger… I’ve had bison before so this wasn’t the epiphany part of my meal.  I had a fried egg on my burger for the first time ever.  I was hugely hesitant and voiced my concerns.  Soon after this, I wasn’t talking at all because I was stuffing my face with this goodness.  Definitely a treat and definitely something I could only eat on special occasions.

We went to a combo Thai/jazz bar restaurant (yep, we are probably thinking the same thing) and it was delicious.  It was a huge plate of crab fried rice and one of my coworkers enjoyed the other half.  We also found a local pub with such excellent fare, it won our patronage twice during our week-long visit.  All in all, there were some seriously good eats.  BUT all of the restaurant foods made me swell up like a balloon!  I’m sensitive to water retention and considering I don’t eat out very much, I was shocked by the outcome of all the eating out (and a few adult beverages) had on me.  How do I know?

I lost 5lbs of water in a 24 hour period!  On the drive home, I went to the bathroom before we left and MAYBE a half hour later I had to go again.  This was happening the whole entire time I was in Indy as well.  I was being very intentional about drinking water while there too as I was constantly thirsty.  And while this is kind of a funny story, the fact is, I know it’s really bad for me.  My ankles were swelling on a daily basis and my not-tight-at-all socks left indents on my lower legs.  YIKES!

Yep, I peed out every last ounce of water from my body (and hopefully all of the sodium).  Alas, how does this fit into my body image (semi) crisis of last week?  Well, I tried to walk as much as possible and avoided snacking.  My meals were packed solid with sodium and calories but I also knew I would be back home soon and I could focus on a healthier routine then.  Stressing about it while there wasn’t going to help me at all.  I also left food on the plate and tried to ensure I wasn’t overeating.  It wasn’t easy, the goodness would call to me!  I ate breakfast every morning and didn’t drink any pop.  Small victories but victories nonetheless.  And wouldn’t you know it?  I didn’t gain any weight (aside from the water) while I was there.  I just feel crappier health-wise.

One good thing about going on a vacation is coming back and being able to jump into healthier habits.  My body is CRAVING some quality nutrients!  OH!  And not to be a total coffee snob but I’m going to be… I’m happy to be back because I couldn’t get a good cup of coffee to save my life!  One day it was marginal and that was it.  I tried a new place everyday – some local and some chains, nope.  Sad.

We walked back and forth (and back and forth – times this by a lot!) to the various restaurants and by the end of the week, I could find my way around without the help of google maps.  In fact, I would say I know some areas of downtown Indy better than areas here in Kzoo!  Indy is a fun city.  It closes down fairly early in the evenings though and at times were walking home and NO ONE was out and about – not even cars.  It was so strange.

From our hotel, I saw this funky building.  I was fascinated by how it appears to be paper-thin.  I mean, beyond obsessed!

I swear, this isn't a trick of the camera - you wacky architects!
I swear, this isn’t a trick of the camera – you wacky architects!

Then there was this funky little door/window that led to a roof access.  The door is my size!

so cute... so inviting... I'm so weird...
so cute… so inviting… I’m so weird…

Again, happy to be home, getting back into a routine and hanging out with Simon.  The poor dude missed me and has barely left my side since coming home.  If you get the chance to visit Indianapolis, do it!

too much running is a thing

First of all, I had complete intentions of blogging while I was at my work conference.  I even lugged around my computer for the trip despite it’s size and weight (I have an older mac and I’m not ready to pull the trigger for a newer model when this one is still up and running).  But get this:  the hotel charged $12 a day for internet.  Whaa?  I didn’t even know people still did this!  Granted, they did offer free happy hour drinks/snacks along with a free full breakfast daily but the internet thing threw me.  Considering I was only in the hotel room to sleep – I’m not even kidding I was barely there, it didn’t seem like a wise choice of spendage.

My apologies

I do want to fill you in on the run that nearly destroyed me.  ***Only minor exaggeration ahead!***  Indy has a Trader Joe’s and from my investigation they had 2 within a 12 mile vicinity of my downtown hotel.  My coworkers weren’t all hot to drive there so I decided I was going to run it.  I needed a long run that was roughly this distance and the idea blossomed in my mind.  I briefly considered Indy may have a few not-exactly-safe neighborhoods but remember?  Denial?  I decided to “run” (ha!) with it.

oh my gosh – this is oh so true!

My coworkers weren’t terribly thrilled with this idea.  Since we arrived on Saturday and the planned run was Sunday I started asked questions as soon as we got to the hotel.  I printed out directions ahead of time but alas, left them in the printer.  One person said it was super easy to get there and I just needed to run up this main street and I was good to go.  I talked to a friend who lives in the area and he introduced me to the Indianapolis Cultural Trail which ever so nicely leads to the Monon Trail.  In turn, this leads to Trader Joe’s.  Bravo!

My friend also told me to hit up the TJ’s on 86th street as the one on 82nd wasn’t in a good area.  He also told me to turn right at the end of the trail and my mecca would be 10 minutes away.  I felt very confident.  It was a beautiful day for a run – 50’s, a shiny sun and I felt pretty good.  The trail was fairly easy to navigate, however there was one weird corner where I took a wrong turn and ended up with an extra giant circle of steps.  With this detour, I’m guessing I was at roughly a mile and some change.  I don’t know for sure since my garmin didn’t like Indy all that much and it took some time to find a satellite.  I found my way and then soon I was on the Monon Trail.  Since I knew the distance to TJ’s, (12 miles) I wasn’t concerned about the wrong turn.

The Monon trail is fantastic.  There were a few inclines but nothing horribly challenging.  Most of the scenery was nice and again, it was such a beautiful day!  For the most part, I was accompanied by other runners and bikers so I didn’t feel unsafe.  Since the trail crosses major streets, there were cross walks at numerous intervals but trail blazers have the right of way and Indy drivers were very courteous.  I even saw a cop drive down the trail.  I was pretty tired at the 10 mile marker and had to keep an internal pep talk going but I knew I was almost finished.  Yay!  I should mention my garmin died at mile 7 since it wasn’t fully charged when I started.

 

See that pretty blue sky?!
See that pretty blue sky?!

The end-ish of the trail hits 86th street, I took a right as instructed.  My phone then said I was going toward 82nd.  Hmm… maybe my friend got a bit directionally challenged?  This wouldn’t be the first time, so I turned around and started heading in the opposite direction toward the 86th store which “shouldn’t” be too far so I kept running.  And running.  And running.  Great scott, I thought I was tired at mile 10.  Mile 13, 14 and 15 I wanted to crawl to the side of the road and weep.  I certainly wasn’t ready for this distance and the grocery store was nowhere to be found.  I did take my GPS out and it finally said I was almost a 1.5 away.  Since I couldn’t find it, I briefly thought about turning around to the other one however, now this one was 4.4 miles away.  A conundrum indeed.  I did what any sane person would do when their calf muscles are so tight it felt like it was pulling away from the bone with every step, was getting dark, in a strange city, and getting cold; I turned around.  Yep, I admitted defeat, cursed my friend for his misguided directions and hung my head.  I was a few blocks away from a Baskin and Robbins I had spotted and went directly there.  This was approximately 7:45 pm and I started my journey at 4 pm.  I got some ice cream, talked to some locals who were astounded when I told them I ran from downtown and then called a cab.  45 mins after that, Roy (my cab driver and new friend) picked me up and mocked me a bit about how I ran all that way and then was picked up by a taxi at an ice cream place.  It WAS funny, however I just wanted to get back to the hotel and EAT EVERYTHING.

source

A burger was on my plate within a half hour of returning to the hotel.  I legit took 10 mins to clean up and then we walked to the restaurant.  I drank two 24 oz glasses of water throughout dinner and cleaned my plate (not a normal thing for me).  Here is the crazy/nutty part of the story:  the next day I was watching the news in between sessions.  There was a bank robbery on the very street I was running on that evening!  I mean, I was RIGHT THERE the night before.  Yes, this completely weirded me out!

My coworkers did end up taking pity on me and we stopped at TJ’s on the way out of Indy.  I was all prepped to buy 3 bags of peanut butter filled chocolate covered pretzels and hoard them.  Typically, I portion them out and allow myself one serving (5 nuggets) per day.  And yes, I really do stick with this.  Guess what?  They were out.  I did console myself by buying a bottle of wine.  But seriously?  Why universe WHY?!!!

my heart belongs to you, TJ
my heart belongs to you, TJ

This is the end of my running saga… thanks for hanging in there!

always an adventure

Snow day #2.  I checked the temps at 10 am and it was -10.  Hey, it went up 2 degrees!

I had to take off my gloves and that's when I felt the cold
I had to take off my gloves and that’s when I felt the cold

My mathematically inclined daddio did some math this morning and lo and behold it will feel 100 degrees hotter in FL than it does here in MI.  The actual temp will indeed be 92-95* higher.  Isn’t that weird?!  I can hardly wrap my mind around it.  He is actually concerned about me running these four races.  Epilepsy is temperamental and two of my triggers are dehydration and stress.  I do think the main one I need to be wary of is the dehydration so I’ve been guzzling water and will continue to do so this whole weekend.

fairly accurate description of what my transition will be like

I have one more treadmill run today and then I need to pack.  The Disney hotel I’m staying in has a w/d so I’m not overly concerned if I forget something.  The expo will have everything including the kitchen sink so I have options there too.  I need to make sure I put some spending limits on myself in regards to expo swag.  I can feel the urge to spend already and I’m not even down there yet!

I won’t be doing a ton of extra things while in FL.  Downtown Disney is *free* and there seems to be a lot to see/do down there.  I saw a running store online that offers free gate analysis so I’m going to check that out for sure.  Since I’m a runner who always jumps on the latest bandwagon concerning gear and shoes, I want to try on a pair of Hokas.  Yep, a year and half ago I ran my first marathon in some minimalist shoes – like I said, bandwagon jumping.  Actually, I’ve noticed for a while how my feet hurt after running long distances (they killed during that aforementioned marathon).  I’m guessing this is normal and happens to everyone.  Since I went to a more cushioned shoe, it has improved but not as much as I hoped.  I don’t plan on doing any ultramarathons so maybe these aren’t necessary?  I will ask all of these questions.

this is how I feel about new gear!

I might hit Epcot Thursday afternoon as I heard you can get cheaper tickets after a certain time.  My goal is to make smart decisions financially and physically.  Walking extra mileage in the parks is NOT going to help me any!  Not to mention, no one is going to want to hear me complain at the “happiest place on earth”.

Essentially, I am getting to the frenzied excited stage.  I still have to pack as I mentioned above.  And as I’ve screamed from the rooftops, I hate packing.  Somewhere in my brain, I made a smart decision and went out to start my car this eve before my 5 am departure time.  My car was dead.  Blast you polar vortex!  With the help of a friend we got it started and there was only a mild electrocution (my friend has very good reflexes – thankfully since there was a scary crackling noise!) and I am certain this piece of my car was only for looks anyway.

it doesn't look THAT important
it doesn’t look THAT important

Alright.  Time to stop procrastinating…

premature tapering

Typically, when I write about other topics and don’t touch on running it’s because I’ve been slacking.  However this isn’t the case!  Wahoo!  I’ve been running like a good runner in training should.  On the treadmill no less, which despite all of my previous whining has been a huge asset.  You see, it’s been snowing here in Kzoo.

this was my experience  last week

So thankfully, my good ol’ ‘mill has been seeing some action.  My Kindle has been a big helps as well and I figured out that if I open my window it makes it much less stifling.  Now time for a related topic… Awkward transition…  Throughout the course of my longer race training history an interesting pattern has evolved.  I call it premature tapering.

No picture here as I am not even willing to do an internet search!

I’ll be running and running and then the 3 weeks BEFORE I am supposed to taper, I start the tapering process.  I’m not quite sure why but I do think I start to get bored or burned out.  Then after these three weeks are over I give myself a quick swift kick in the bum, freak out and go full throttle with training again.

I wonder if Disney will allow me to have one of these?

This is a most excellent plan.

Since I can’t remember doing it a different way (I’m sure it wasn’t like this when I did the running camp but my memory fails me) it hasn’t been too detrimental.  I did it for my first full and I’ve done it for most of the 1/2’s I’ve run.  I’m sure doing it the way I’m “supposed to” would be helpful although the concept of tapering freaks me out.  And you know, it’s too late now.

Am I worried?  Eh – I don’t know.  Since this race has been on my mind for months I’m to the point where I know it’s going to happen.  I’m 75% confident I will be able to complete the whole thing.  I have no worries about the first three races; it’s just that dang full at the end!  But if I don’t complete the full I won’t get the Goofy medal, the Dopey medal or the 26.2 medal.  This set of races is really about the bling!  I’ve also told everyone I know (repeatedly) about this race and I’m not thrilled with the idea of saying I didn’t finish.  Oh yeah, and you know my personal pride!

okay, so I kind of feel like this on the inside sometimes!

I am also getting excited to go to (warm) FL, stay in a Disney hotel, buy some treasures and run!  The minibreak aspect of it will also be welcome.  I do plan on busting out some snowy, cold miles on Thursday and Friday when I have time during the day.  Then next week I’m headed out to visit the fam and it is a balmy 40ish degrees!  I find this splendid.  While the weather will be ideal my test will be to get out there and run as opposed to sitting on the couch.  While I would like to declare my intentions of running all the miles we all know this isn’t a solid guarantee.  Haha, stay tuned!

Are you good at tapering?  If not, you have found a kindred spirit!

back in the game

Whenever I take a break from blogging, it feels harder to get back into it… It’s like my brain has forgotten how to function in this creative medium.  This is my attempt to jump-start my brain!

Yay! for vacations!  My original plan was to blog while I was home visiting fam but there simply wasn’t time.  I spent every waking moment chatting, laughing, sometimes crying, drinking coffee, laughing some more, eating, being out and about and LIVING.  It was wonderful.

vacation is tough
vacation is tough

Here are a few highlights and things about my family that I love!

1.  I really do come from one of the most beautiful places on earth.  I forget until I am home for a visit (or I actually think about it) how magnificent the PNW is.  Here are a couple of views from the day we went to Hurricane Ridge (local), which is part of the Olympic Mountains.  Yes, this IS my back yard.

hurricane ridge2.  Sometimes I forget how awesome it is that my family is  touchy-feely.  Please don’t read this wrong – it isn’t anything weird.  Rather, when one of my family members walks by they might rub your back or give you a hug or just touch your arm.  It’s not every time but it is very comforting.  They say personal touch and cuddling has healing powers and I firmly believe this.  Babies who aren’t touched from birth have developmental and emotional issues.  So seriously, go out and give someone a little squeeze today!

starfish - ridge3.  We are a FUNNY family!

naturally strawberry mojitos belong in GIANT mason jars
naturally strawberry mojitos belong in GIANT mason jars

4.  A “German moment”  can be anything that reminds us of our childhood.  Sometimes it’s running late and sometimes it’s making really bad puns.  This goes along with #3

5.  I got to get to know my brother’s girlfriend so much better on this trip!  We talked a lot about men, work and what I am going to do when I go visit them in Paris.  Yes, this will include eating a lot of bread and riding a bike.  With a basket.  And being all sophisticated… or something!

I'm not sure France will let me in... btw, this is my "elder wand" yo!
I’m not sure France will let me in… btw, this is my “elder wand” yo!

6.  My niece and nephew are now adult-ish.  It’s so weird!  My niece is 19 and my nephew is 17.  I spent some major quality time with both of them.  They still call me “Auntie Amy” (which I will always insist on!) and they are simply amazing people.  Oh yeah, and my nephew gave me a big hug – even in front of his other 17 year old buddies!  I must be cool.

I taught my niece how to make smores over the stove!
I taught my niece how to make smores over the stove!

7.  I discovered a new place!  It’s a local beach where the rocks are ROUND!  Wait, scratch that – SPHERES!  I dubbed them “alien rocks”.  Pictures to come!

during our search for the alien rocks
during our search for the alien rocks

8.  Even though we were running around doing things and hanging out, I had the opportunity to have conversations with my family on an individual basis.  I am so grateful for this.

paige and me

9.  When I am home, I am Maggie’s favorite

yes, maggie is the dog
yes, maggie is the dog

10.  A run – with no humidity?!  With a cool breeze?!  Constant hills?!  Okay, except for the last one, it was perfect!  As I’ve mentioned, my dad maps out the HILLIEST routes!

11.  My grandma made me kidney bean salad – sooo yummy!

12.  My dad found a bunch of old pics and we went through them the last day I was there.  They were great!  We also told stories about my mom the entire trip.  Sometimes this was sad and other times hysterical.  Both help though, you know?

my bro called this "hard-boiled siblings" and yes, we are wearing matching shoes!
my bro called this “hard-boiled siblings” and yes, we are wearing matching shoes!

Of course, it all passed by too quickly.  There are times when I regret moving half way across the country because I feel my heart is split in two.  I have friends and family in both areas and when it comes time to leave either it just sucks.  We need to invent teleporting NOW!

Simon gave me a lovely homecoming with kitty-hugs and snuggling.  My friend’s baby was supposed to arrive while I was gone but he waited for me!  After almost missing my last flight to Grand Rapids, MI because I was asleep at the gate, I made it back in one piece and hit the deck running for work.  Phew!

Hope you are having a wonderful weekend!

mini vegas recap

Yay!  I’m back!

First of all, I am practically jumping for joy considering my internet has been down now for TWO *%#!* WEEKS!  Great balls of fire, this was annoying!  Thankfully, I was gone for a week of that time but still, it has been so irritating.  I just wanted to pin and write!

Seriously though, I am happy to home.  I had a blast in Vegas but my waste line, my liver and my wallet would not be able to survive long-term there.  I understand people who live there don’t party it up every night and maybe if I spent longer than a week there, I wouldn’t have either.  However, let’s just say, I took advantage of what Vegas had to offer!

Here are some of my pictures:

two of my super ugly views - one from the vdara and one from palms place
two of my super ugly views – one from the vdara and one from palms place
breakfast of champions, yo!  this included creme brulee (best flavor ever) and chocolate frozen yogurt
breakfast of champions, yo! this included creme brulee (best flavor ever) and chocolate frozen yogurt
this combo might look odd but it was fab - sour cream, relish and tomatoes.  eat one, now!
this combo might look odd but it was fab – sour cream, relish and tomatoes. eat one, now!
a cupcake too pretty to eat?  almost... but I managed to choke down this triple chocolate bit of heaven!
a cupcake too pretty to eat? almost… but I managed to choke down this triple chocolate bit of heaven!

All in all it was a great trip.  I really did get some good work done and attended quite a few quality sessions.  I got to see one of my old friends/co-workers and got to know a few co-workers all the better.  I even ran twice!  Maybe not an epic number but considering alcohol was a main staple in my diet, I was fairly happy with it!

it's me getting ready to run!
it’s me getting ready to run!

Also, let me say… the FOOD!  Wow!  I hit four different buffets – the dinner and breakfast buffets at the Aria were two of them.  At dinner, one of my favorite things was (get this) the fish from the fish and chips.  Oh!  And the mac and cheese – so good!  They also probably had some of the best bacon I have ever tasted.  I wanted to stuff pounds of it in my purse!  We also ate at a sushi buffet called, Todai and whoa – delish.  I tried several different things that I ordinarily would have snubbed my nose at.  Of course I can’t remember what they were called but still, it was fantastic.  Finally, we ate at the Caesar’s buffet and this was the best from the bunch.  My favorite thing was the sweet potato tots – YUM!  But of course I loaded up on seafood at each one and tried duck (not my fave), crawfish (very good) and plenty of other things.  That is definitely the best part about a buffet – you can try so much that you might not want to pay straight up for.

However, we ate dinner one night at Sage (located in the Aria).  We chose the Chef option menu and there is a lighter (read less expensive) option before 7 pm.  We both chose this and while I never would have put any of the flavors together it was probably one of the best meals I have ever eaten.  There was a pear and brussel sprout salad – love.  Then a chicken dish with parsnips and for dessert a pineapple concoction.  Apparently the chef liked us because we started the meal with some sort of duck mixture (this one I liked) and ended the meal with basically a little shot of hot chocolate and peanut butter – it smelled like a chocolate and peanut butter cookie.  We used it to wash down this

two of us shared this... potent business friends
two of us shared this… potent business friends

Then it was on to the show Absente!  It’s adult only – and really it’s a comedy show mixed with Cirque de Sole mixed with… I don’t even know.  But it was great!

Of course being in Vegas meant I had to bet on my Zags!

me and my "bookie"!
me and my “bookie”!

Unfortunately, I bet to beat the point spread.  While I am happy they won by 20 points, I only needed them to make ONE MORE BASKET and I would have won a whopping $18.00!  Haha, yeah, I’m not the biggest gambler.

Great vaca and happy to be home.  My little fuzzy buddy missed me and I need a nap like it’s nobody’s business.  Because of situations like this…

one of our new friends from san diego - they loved us and proceeded to buy us alcohol
one of our new friends from san diego – they loved us and proceeded to buy us alcohol

Can’t wait to catch up on all of my blog reading!  I missed you all!

back in twilight country

Phew!  It  has been a hectic last few days!  I know it’s the holiday season so “busy” is a natural state for everyone.  For me, I was trying to finish up things at work, pack and fly back to WA!  Wahoo!

edward missed me too
edward missed me too

Yesterday, I spent a total of 6 hours flying.  It’s not as horrible as it sounds.  I wore my compression socks (my feet and ankles swell when flying and these are my FAVORITE!) and because both flights were delayed they let us watch TV on the plane for free.  Hours upon hours of watching HGTV?  Yes please!  People all around me were griping but not to sound super elitist but I was simply happy to be on the plane.  I flew Frontier and “Dale” was my first plane’s name and “Carl” was my second.  There was no point in whining.

"Carl the coyote" was our captain
“Carl the coyote” was our captain

Since both flights were delayed my first flight’s arrival time completely overlapped with my connection departure.  We were waiting to deboard and there was this guy who was also on the same Seattle flight as me.  I knew this because he didn’t stop griping.  Then he was yelling because he wanted to get off the plane.  Classy.  I get off and check the board and he shoves past me (I might be slightly overdramatizing this part – he really just walked past) grumbling and dropping “F” bombs.  I went over to see why and while almost ALL the flights leaving Denver were delayed, ours said “On Time”.  Boo!  I just booked it over there anyway.  Guess what?  They were holding the flight!  Yay!  The dude?  He never showed up.  Karma can be a doozy grumpy man!

Other than that I’ve been rushing around to get ready.  Simon was not pleased about being left and looked forlorn as he sat in my suitcase hoping to stow-away.

mom, please don't leave me!
mom, please don’t leave me!

But when I landed seeing my dad was GREAT!  He has been walking every day and has lost 30-50 lbs.  I am super proud of him!  He doesn’t let anything get in the way of being active and has essentially healed himself of many ailments he had been suffering from prior.  Dad you ROCK!

I talked dad into going to get me coffee.  I told him, "it's liquid gold dad".  he responded, "it's liquid crack"... well, that too!
I talked dad into going to get me coffee. I told him, “it’s liquid gold dad”. he responded, “it’s liquid crack”… well, that too!

Then we stopped at the restaurant my niece works at and met up with my sis, bro-in-law and nephew.  When I walked in my niece came over to me and gave me the biggest hug and said, “Auntie Amy, I have really missed you!”  Yeah, total heart-melting moment.  I adore my niece and nephew.  On Saturday, the three of us are going shopping for my sister and I think it will be a blast.  My nephew asked if it would take a half hour – I told him, “Yes… in ONE store!”  The teenager in him just looked at him but I believe he is secretly looking forward to it!

OH!  Yesterday, before I left for my flight Meagan and I fit in a little over 4 miles at 7 am and then rounded up to 5 with some coffee and a speed walk home.  It was great.  I know I wouldn’t have gotten up early without her so it was a perfect way to start out a day of sitting.  Meagan was a lovely host and even slipped an energy bar and Fiber One chocolate chip cookie in my bag on the sly.  This came in SO HANDY when I didn’t get to eat for about 6 hours!

a (mostly) pictorial thankful thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.  I love the focus on giving thanks, eating (!), hanging with family and then eating some more.  While I adore Christmas, Thanksgiving simply doesn’t have the same chaotic atmosphere that Christmas has.  Did I mention the good eats?!  Many of my favorites in one day!

I am super grateful this year.  It’s been a really tough year – as in if 2013 is anything like 2012 I’m moving to a cabin in the woods.  BUT rays of sunlight DID occur and it’s important to remember them!

Family – of course!

Running – and everything/everyone it has brought to my life

Friends (not all of whom are pictured) who have been never-ending fountains of support

Simon!

My new job

Focusing on reducing debt and spending more money on experiences rather things… like traveling!!

not giving into some of those bitter jaded feelings that tug at me sometimes

This blog!!

this was the first pic I used!!

Thanks to everyone to stops by – your encouragement, support and comments mean the world to me!  You all are helping me achieve my dream of being a writer!

Have a wonderful day!  I’m headed out for a run in a few minutes and then making some tasty dinner.  Then relaxing… non-stop – YAY!