31 December 2012

December's Top Picks

I hope you all had a fantastic 2012 and I wish you nothing but the best in 2013!


Rentals in Quebec City that are ah-maz-ing!


Amada Restaurant in Philadelphia has some of the best tapas around.

On that note, explore here in that city.

My obsession in cooking this month.

This book and this article on the book's author, Deb.

and...since it is that time of year...

Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne
We twa hae run aboot the braes
And pou'd the gowans fine;
we've wander'd mony a weary foot
Sin' auld lang syne
We two hae paidled i' the burn,
Frae mornin' sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin' auld lang syne
And here's a hand, my trusty friend,
And gie's a hand o' thine;
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne




Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année!

Over the past week and a half, I've had the opportunity to soak up some holiday happiness with my family in New Jersey and then with Dave in the most French of all Canadian cities...Quebec City. 

I got the chance to get some time in at home, prepping the house for the arrival of my sister, her husband and their three awesome kids.  Bunting was hung, a huge tree was bought, ornaments were stacked and stockings were pulled out of their bins for another go at the fireplace.  My parents and I celebrated a little down time in the preparations by heading to Philadelphia to enjoy the German Christmas Village where the aromas of spiced mulled wine and baked goods filled the air.  We wandered from stall to stall, taking in the sights and admiring the artistry on display as we oohed and aahed over carved wooden boxes from the Ukraine and hand-blown glass ornaments from Germany.  After all the hoopla at the market, we ate a fantastic dinner at Amada Restaurant...a great tapas spot in the Old City.  It was the perfect way to spend a chilly, pre-Christmas day.




The next day, the rest of the family showed up by sleigh (and by sleigh, I mean "family van") and we quickly sped off to the local mall to get one more meeting in with Kris Kringle before the big day arrived.  I mean, the next day WAS Christmas Eve!  The kids made their wishes known and we bid the days of preparation "adieu" as we sat down for a big family meal around the dining room table.

The next morning I awoke bright and early...I was off to the airport to meet up with Dave in Quebec!  Traveling on Christmas Eve is quite lovely.  The airport was festive and most travelers seemed genuinely excited to get going to their next destination.  The staff and crew were all in good spirits and the short hop over the border ended uneventfully.

And, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature town with snow, and lights, and a fresh market and my husband!  We quickly taxied to our apartment for the week, dropped our baggage and headed out into the cold winter air to buy goods for meals.  We were told about the Marche du Vieux-Port by our apartment host and we couldn't wait to go. 


It was magical...fresh breads, fruitcakes, local wines and cheeses, handicrafts and maple syrup all jostled for attention at each of the market stands.  Vendors were selling local vegetables which we snapped up along with some olives, jam and crusty bread for a Christmas Eve tapas dinner.  I could have spent hours in there.

Christmas Eve was quiet and lovely...we played music, hung our stockings, put up our paper Christmas tree from last year, strung up some lights and enjoyed being with one another.  After dinner, we headed out into the snow to see Old Quebec.  Old Quebec sits behind an old stone wall that fortified it during conflict with the British.  We snuck into the Notre-Dame-de-Québec Basilica-Cathedral for an early Catholic Christmas Eve mass which was lovely and then over to the Chateau Frontenac to watch the ice float by on a dark Saint Lawrence River.



We've been here a week now and let me just say one word...magical.   I can't even begin to describe this city's beauty and I know I've only seen a bit of it.

Happy New Year to you all!

20 December 2012

"Exciting Destination!"



I realized from a couple of posts back, I noted I was heading to an "exciting destination!"  My destination was...Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan!

For many, the Jaw might not conjure up ideas of excitement, but for me, that is where my home with my husband is, where friends are and a place where I can revel in the peace and quiet that only emerges under a sky as vast as the one in Saskatchewan.

It was a fantastic trip that started off with a holiday cookie exhange with friends and ended with a holiday party on the military base.  Dave and I snuck in a date to a not-so-great restaurant in Regina and took walks in the single-digit temperatures outside.  Let me just say that long walks outdoors are just fantastic this time of year.  Dave and I ventured out to Wakamow Valley to soak in some sun, listened to some Vinyl Cafe, and sipped on some tea as we wandered around in the snow.


In short, it was great to be home.

Cookie exchange...success!

I was feeling, from hotel to hotel and flight to flight, that I was missing out on the holiday season.  The time from Thanksgiving to Christmas is jam packed with meetings and conference calls.  All exciting stuff, but I love absorbing this of year.  I love walking slowly past brightly lit store windows on State Street in Chicago, seeing the ice skaters at Millennium Park and hearing the jingle bells ring of those seeking donations on the street corners.  It wasn't until I arrived in Moose Jaw that I felt I could take a breath, slow down a little and begin to enjoy the holiday season.  Sure, I was working from home and had things to do, but I was able to turn on some holiday tunes and spend the evenings with Dave...what could be more merry than that!

Moose Jaw has a small-town charm this time of year that can't really be described.  When Dave and I went out for a tea one evening, we got to Main Street and I said "I always expect to see George Bailey running down the street, screaming 'Merry Christmas!' to everyone this time of year!" 

Classic lights are strung up over the main drag and there is always a good amount of snow on the ground which lends an extra-certain-something to the electric glow of candles in windows.  Moose Jaw is the kind of town you can wrap yourself up in holiday style.  In fact, a holiday movie was filmed there a number of years ago...a movie starring one of Canada's own, Ryan Reynolds!


Ahem.  I digress.

I was grateful for my time in Moose Jaw...time to reconnect with friends, catch up on marriage (imagine that!) and just sink into the holidays...which are right around the corner!

19 December 2012

Airport Layover Post

I've talked about it before, but I am on the road...a LOT.  In fact, I just achieved yet another status jump on an airline due to the amount of flying I've done this year.  Let's just say it involves over ninety flights with one...single...airline alone this year.  As such, a lot of my time is spent shuttling from airport to airport, hotel to hotel with my life summed up in a suitcase and carry-on bag.  If you truly want to know what you can live without, I recommend going on a five-week travel spree that includes climates ranging from the deep south to the icy north. 

I am re-thinking my closet and what I really need as we speak.

Lucky for me, I love my work and it takes me to interesting places to do great stuff with great people.  This time of year, especially, I am reminded of how very fortunate I am to have the position I do and the opportunities I have to interact with the individuals and organizations that truly make positive differences in people's lives.  My every day consists of seeing a diverse array of individuals benefiting from the services my organization provides and it fills my heart with love and pride that I am so fortunate to be a part of it.

Humanity reveals itself in a variety of ways...last week, we were reminded by the events in Newtown, that all of us have a stake in ensuring the best quality of life - including mental, physical and spiritual health and safety - for everyone.  I am deeply saddened and troubled by the events of Newtown and it makes me wonder, especially as I see and work with people from every walk of life on a daily basis, what more can be done to ensure that we are providing one another with the best life possible.  How can we support one another, make each other feel valued and loved, help each other to realize our full potential and, most of all, encourage one another to be our very best selves each and every day?

My belief system involves my belief in the best of humanity.  I believe that we are all connected and I choose to seek the best in each person, meet them where they are, listen to their story and do what I can to make each individual feel welcome, comfortable and supported.  Whether it is a smile at someone over a coffee counter or having a deep discussion with my family about religion and politics, my goal is to hear each person and truly listen.  I may not always agree with everything a person says, but I strive to understand their experience and better acquaint myself with what informs their perspective.

I hope we can all strive to meet each other with compassion, love and with our very best selves on display.  As I sit here on my layover and I look at loved ones greeting each other at the airport, business men and women shaking hands and the lone travelers looking for their luggage, I feel the connection of our humanity.

Until my next flight...

08 December 2012

Sick (not Sleepless) in Seattle

What a week!
From sunny and warm San Diego to chilly and rainy Seattle...

I was doing really well...
Even managed to punch out a 12-miler on the treadmill on Tuesday.

By 2 AM on Thursday morning, the story was quite different.
In short...

I love Seattle.
I do not love being sick.
In fact, I am an awful patient.
For this trip to Seattle, my body said a big "WHOA" and "Slow Down!" and "get-thee-to-an-urgent-care-ASAP."

So I did.

I spent two days holed up in my hotel room, sipping tea and nibbling on Saltines, hoping beyond hope that I would feel better for my 6:30 AM flight on Saturday morning.

And here I sit, ready to depart on my next flight, still sipping tea, but happy to have rejoined those who are out and about.

NOT the best way to end a business trip. 
C'est la vie.

More to come...I'm off to a very exciting destination!

02 December 2012

On the Road Again...

[Source:  Cherry Blossom Blog via Pinterest]

Friends, December is a crazy/wonderful/massive travel month.
Personal and professional trips are going to intermingle in the countdown to the Christmas holiday.

Just so you know where I'll be...in no particular order...

California
Georgia
Missouri
New Jersey
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Washington

Traveling almost everyday is SO glamorous!

*ahem*

I've managed to pack five weeks of clothes, shoes, work stuff and other necessities into two bags.

Along with a partridge in a pear tree.
Packing genius.

Just saying.

I'll update you along the way...it will be fun experiencing the December rush in a variety of different places.
I'm looking forward to it!


01 December 2012

November's Top Picks

Frosty Georgia Morning

I suddenly turned around and there it was....

December 1.

Can you believe it?!
To usher us into the last month of the year, here are my November top picks.

***

Patagonia's "buy less" campaign makes you think.

Doctors that are trained to make people feel better when they have serious illness.


Training for the Goofy Challenge!

Friends who send you amazing cards and homemade gifts (Sarah H!)

Officially being able to play holiday music on my computer

52 marathons in 52 weeks...go, girl, go!

Looking for good recipes here and here

Spending quality time with my sister, nephew and two nieces

An hour at an airport to catch up with my parents!


Lots of great images

***




24 November 2012

Thanksgiving Recap with Awesome Vegan Stuffing!

All-Vegan Gluten-Free Thanksgiving!

This year brought a quiet Thanksgiving my way. 
I had already celebrated with my parents and I will be heading down to Atlanta on Sunday to visit with my sister and her family.
I was looking forward to a calm week at work and Thanksgiving day with friends.

Matt and Constance are the kind of people everyone needs in their lives.
They are unfailingly wonderful, kind and honest.
They have two beautiful daughters who light up the room and provided ample amounts of entertainment on turkey day.
Matt's sister and her family were also over and she is every bit as wonderful as her brother.

One of the best things about having Matt and Constance as friends is that they always will supply endless amounts of vegan goodness for me to feast on.  Without question or comment.  It's just one of the many reasons I love them!

I contributed a vegan stuffing for the festivities (inspired by Heather Hands over at Flourishing Foodie) and even made a gluten-free version for Matt.

The stuffing was rich and sweet.
Apples and cranberries lighten the load of the bread and rice.
I added a good dose of chopped celery (because in my mind, nothing goes better with caramelized onions than celery) and omitted the vegan sausage (I'm not a big fan of fake meat).

The stuffing was a success and I think I like the gluten-free version better!  I've included my version below, but be sure to check out Heather's version on her site.

Hope you are all having a great weekend!


Heather's (inspired by Heather's!) Vegan, Gluten-Free Stuffing 

1 cup brown rice (cooked to package directions using vegetarian broth, not water)
2 celery stalks, sliced thin
1/2 sweet onion, chopped into small pieces
2 cups baby portobello mushrooms, chopped into small pieces
1 apple, peeled and cubed (small pieces)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp vegan "butter"

Cook rice according to package directions.  I substituted veggie broth for the water to give the rice a lot of flavour and eliminate the need for salt.

Put cranberries in a bowl and cover with just boiled water.  Let sit for 10 minutes and then drain out onto a towel.  Put aside.

While the cranberries are in the water, chop your onion, celery, mushrooms and apple.

Heat up a large frying pan on very low heat and (without adding ANYTHING), heat up your mushrooms.  Heather notes this releases the flavour...I have to agree.  Once they have turned brown and start releasing their liquids, turn out onto a towel and let sit.

In the same pan, turn the heat up to medium-high and add your "butter."  Saute your onions and celery in the butter until the onions start to brown and get sweet.  Once that happens, add your mushrooms, apple and cranberries.  Season with the sage and thyme (and any other seasonings you feel like adding).  Stir and get everything nice, coated and glistening.  Remove from heat.  

Once your rice is done, add it to the pan with the seasoned goodness.  Toss all of it together.  Add more seasoning if needed and turn up the heat a little if it is not warmed through.  

Put in a pretty bowl (or plastic container!) and serve to good friends and family!

Most of all...enjoy!


The Matt and Constance Spread!
Such a great looking family!
Thanksgiving Walk...
A warm and windy Chicago on Thanksgiving Day





22 November 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Give time, give thanks.
Just give.

This year in honour of Thanksgiving I am donating to Women for Women International.

What are you giving today?


21 November 2012

An Early Celebration

Two weekends ago, I celebrated Thanksgiving a little early with my parents.
We wouldn't be spending the actual day together, so I wanted to get some quality time in.
My parents live on the coast of New Jersey...so the timing after superstorm Sandy was also good so I could check in and see how things were.
I didn't grow up in New Jersey, but parents have lived there for over a decade now and I care very much about what happens to the residents there.
It was pretty amazing to hear the stories of those affected and see huge trees toppled                            over like Lego towers.

It was just another reminder about how much we have to be grateful for.

We did Thanksgiving right...complete with stuffing, apple pie, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and everything in between.  
We even took a lovely drive out to Peddler's Village in Pennsylvania to walk along the paths, drink hot apple cider and get some holiday shopping out of the way.

It was a great weekend and I'm so glad I got that time with my folks!

Hat for the holidays???

Around the village...
A holiday tradition...the apple pie.  My dad and I
always peel the apples together before the baking begins and then
my mom and I take over the baking.
What a spread!

20 November 2012

"Psalm of Life" by Longfellow

Looking for some inspiration...just read these words...

A PSALM OF LIFE

WHAT THE HEART OF THE YOUNG MAN
SAID TO THE PSALMIST

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream ! —
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real ! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal ;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way ;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle !
Be a hero in the strife !

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant !
Let the dead Past bury its dead !
Act,— act in the living Present !
Heart within, and God o'erhead !

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time ;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate ;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.


19 November 2012

Giving Thanks...



Moose Jaw, SK

Friends, it's the most wonderful time of the year.
Lights are starting to twinkle in store windows, my favourite music is being piped over loudspeakers and it's time for the long-standing Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to once again grace our televisions with it's over-the-top presence and Broadway songs!

As the year winds down, I notice I begin to take stock and reflect on everything that January 1 through November 19 has brought my way.  It's been a whirlwind of a year and I cannot believe all the goodness that's come my way. 

With Thanksgiving on Thursday, I thought I would share some of the things I am most thankful for...

Dave.  He is my everything and I am so lucky to have him as a partner in life.
My family.  They are incredible, talented and inspirational.
All the friends, mentors, coaches who have made an impression on me and provided encouragement when I've needed it the most.
My health.  This year, more than ever, I have learned that you can't take it for granted. 
The experiences I've had from coast to coast...I've traveled a lot this year and each plane ride and car trip has introduced me to new people and new things to try.
Crisp, cool air and the first snowflakes.
The brillant colours on the trees this fall.
The roof over my head right now...for that, special thanks to C and D. 
For major life-changing decision-making (more on that one later, but things are happening, folks!)

To those in Canada who celebrated their Thanksgiving over a month ago and to those in the United States who are celebrating this week, I wish you all a very happy holiday and continued love and joy.

18 November 2012

Special Guest: Courtney Thompson!

Hello, readers! 
I am so excited to introduce you to one fabulous woman...Courtney Thompson!

Courtney and I have known each other for some time now and I am constantly inspired by her energy, enthusiasm and her personal brand.
Courtney is full of life and fun and I thought everyone should get a chance to know her.

I asked Courtney five questions to answer...
So, without further ado...Courtney!

***


1.     How did you start blogging?

My background is in journalism and I’ve always loved to write but I had nothing to write about!  A good friend of mine has a great blog that I really enjoyed reading.  So much so, it made me want to write.  I began to think of things I could write about and the first thing that came to mind was me!  I was recently single and I thought writing about my recent life change would not only be therapeutic for myself but it just might help others as well. Hence… Table for One!

2.    What do you like most about blogging?

I love that there’s no pressure.  I can be exactly who I am at all times and not have to worry about saying the wrong thing or making good impressions.  It’s just for me and the fact that others care to read it is a plus! It’s like I’m talking to myself but the rest of the world is there… Pretty awesome!

3.    Where are you originally from?

I am from the best city in the world! Chicago… Where dreams come true! LOL

4.    What are your likes outside of work?

I love to hang with my friends and family! They are the people who accept me despite my flaws.  We dance, sing, cry, laugh, eat, drink and everything else in between… Precious moments.  I also like to sing karaoke every once in a while! People have to suffer through me singing my favorite songs and I make them clap even when I don’t deserve it!  Good times…

5.    What is your biggest fear?

It’s funny you ask this question, because it’s one I’ve been asking myself for a while now.  My biggest fear is being alone.  Meaning, by myself and I’m not just speaking in terms of a romantic relationship.  I’m talking all across the board.  I love that I have people around me that I can turn to for everything and sometimes nothing at all (if that makes since).  I am who I am because of the influence others have had on me and I’m just working on being the same for others.

You can find out more about Courtney in a bunch of different places! 
Check her out here!

04 November 2012

Settling In...to a New Place

I am a moving maven.
I move a lot.
And by a lot, I mean I've lived in at least 24 different spaces in my life.
By my estimation, that a lot of spaces in not that much life!

This week was no exception as Dave and I packed up my studio apartment and moved me in with good friends.  It was decided that since I'm on the road so much, it wasn't worth the cost of keeping up an apartment I hardly get to see.

So, here I sit, unpacked and settled into a new place.  
Special thanks to C and D for letting me crash in their pad!

***

In addition to moving, Dave and I had a fun week together full of cooking in the kitchen, drinking tea together and enjoying some of our favourite haunts in the city.

We enjoyed a double-date on Thursday to celebrate the 50K, Marathon and my birthday at Slurping Turtle and I introduced Dave to the awesome tapas and atmosphere at Cafe Iberico.

And...we took time to just walk the city streets, admire the first smattering of holiday cheer going up in  storefront windows and catch up on us.

I'm always so sad to see him go, but I'm always so grateful for the time we have together in person.  Those moments are to be cherished and I'm so happy he was here to support me during the race (couldn't have done it without him!) and help me get from one living space to another.  

I'm a very lucky gal!

31 October 2012

October's Top Picks


Planning for our Christmas holiday...here's a not-so-subtle hint!

These father-daughter photos are incredible...what a lovely and hysterical idea!

Great pub on the South Side.

On my bookshelf right now are Chrissie and Daniel.

Winter boots!

This soup is delicious...thanks for the inspiration 101!

Great coffee, great people, great surroundings...if you are in Estes Park, just go Kind.

Airport greetings are the best!

The new season of zombies has begun...

50K...DONE!

Heading out for the last loop of the 50K
All...it's been an incredible week and then some.

Since running the marathon, I've been a bit all over the map.  However, after returning from Massachusetts and Nevada last week, I had a big weekend on the books.

On October 27, 2012, I was running the Chicago Lakefront 50K.


Here's the thing, I wanted to do this before my next birthday.
My birthday is on October 28.
This was no small thing.

I landed on the 26th at O'Hare from Vegas and met Dave after his flight landed from Moose Jaw.  Yup,  he was coming down to support me on the race and to help me move (more on that later).  We hugged and then made our way back to the apartment.  We ordered in my traditional pre-race meal, a veggie spring roll and a veggie sushi roll and then were off to bed for a very early start the next morning.

We woke and it was...COLD!  Temps weren't expected to climb out of the thirty's until well after the race was done.  We grabbed a taxi and headed down to the start.  

I have this thing where I don't like to show up late, however, in this case, we were REALLY early so we scouted out a place to get warm.  That's when we found Robust Coffee Lounge.

Robust is a gem on the south side of Chicago.  The staff were great, the space warm and the spicy soy hot chocolate just the ticket to take my mind off the race.


After sitting there for a bit, we wandered back over to the start.  The 50-milers had already been on the trail for a while and at 8:30 AM, our start was to happen.  It was such a difference from the marathon!  There were maybe 250 runners, everyone super-nice and jazzed to be out there on a chilly fall day.  The whole aura of the race was relaxed and supportive - everyone hoping the person next to them would have a good day out there.  I loved it.

The run was three just-over-ten mile loops along the lakefront.  Heading north was tricky due to really cold and gusty winds, but the awesome part was that then those gusts were at your back coming back south to the next turnaround!  I had a blast out there!  I just focused on the other runners, handing out high-fives and telling everyone to keep going!  

Dave...FINISHER...of helping put up the sign...
Dave got some company along the way when our friend Deb showed up to help cheer me on.  I didn't have anyone on the sidelines for the marathon, but having Dave and Deb (the Double-Ds!) on the course was such a motivational boost!  

I finished the 50K in 5 hours and 27 minutes!  

Dave snapped this just after I finished.  Official time - 5:27:43!

Better than any medal!
I got across the line, looked at Dave and Deb, started to tear up and said "I can't believe I just did that!"

*Don't tell anyone, but I think I'm hooked!*

Since then, I've had a great time with Dave here...it's just so much more fun when my better half is around.  He is helping me prep to move to a new space in Chicago this week.  We are going to make dinners, talk and just enjoy each other's company.  We are also doing lots of planning for our Christmas vacation...I'll tell you more about that later!

On a final note, I've been running my races in support of Women for Women International this year and I want to thank everyone who took the time to donate to the cause.  It means so much to me and I couldn't have done this without your support!


22 October 2012

A Lovely English Breakfast


I love a good breakfast...not too sweet, not too savoury...just right.

It's a lovely little British pub in Chicago that serves up a mean pot of Earl Grey on a cool fall Sunday morning.
The decor is fantastic (you MUST see the bathrooms!), the crew that man the kitchen and bars are friendly and welcoming and the atmosphere is complete with a fireplace and classic teacups.  By day, it's a good place to grab a bite and relax while watching a game, by night, it boasts a boisterous and welcoming pub scene.

If you are in Chicago.  Go.  Just go.

{source}
My friend Mark and I headed there last Sunday to soak in the goodness and catch up with one another after not having seen each other for months.
Mark is a great friend...he genuinely cares about everyone in his life and always has great advice to dish out.  In short, I'm lucky to have a friend like Mark.
He's got a great way of pulling out blinding one-liners that put everything in perspective.  
I often find myself just nodding in response with a smile knowing that he just cleared up a lot of questions.
Mark is a cheerleader for the loved ones in his life.  I hope I'm good enough at returning the favour!

I hope everyone has a Mark in their lives.

Hope you had a great weekend!


20 October 2012

Favourite Time of the Year


It's no secret that I adore fall...and winter.
Needless to say, this time of year has me in good spirits.
Anytime I can walk outside with a sweater, jeans, boots and a scarf on is a good day.

It's also the time of year when my mailbox gets flooded with holiday cheer in the form of catalogues.
I don't buy from these companies, nor do I hear from them during the rest of the year, but somehow they find me around mid-October and tempt me with cozy knits, furry boots and outerwear that makes me swoon.

I'm a sucker for this stuff.

Because of my work, I have been on the road quite a bit meaning that getting back to cooler climes this time of year takes on new meaning.  Fall can look very different in Las Vegas than it does in Boston.  Seattle has a different shade of fall colours than Charlotte.

It's always an adventure.

What doesn't change are the sights and sounds in the windows of shops...pumpkins galore; deep oranges and reds; and sparkling lights that twinkle into the night.

This is also the time of year that means my running training is nearing it's payoff.


A couple of weekends ago I ran in the Chicago Marathon.  
The day started off great with friends...we headed to the start in the chilly air as the sun began to climb higher in the sky casting its pale light on nervous faces and twitching muscles.
The Chicago Marathon queue is like no other.
They position you according to your expected finish time and the masses all jostle for position near Millennium Park.  Getting into the queue is a feat unto itself and once you are there you are standing for  minutes (what seems like hours) before you get to the start.  I was grouped with the 4h 30m finishers.  
Things start when you toe the starting line...we were off!

Unfortunately,  I couldn't warm up during the race...I remained pretty chilly throughout.  We crossed through the Loop, hit the streets of Wrigleyville and then into Boystown.  We crossed by North Shore before heading back into downtown.  Then it was out to UIC, Pilsen and Chinatown (which for me always go by in a blur).  It's only when I'm heading back along Michigan Avenue toward the finish that I regain my senses and really soak in what I am about to accomplish.

Here's what I love about that race.
The spectators.  The people along the way that cheer you on.  
They are incredible.
They hand out candy and oranges and hope.
They offer water and Gatorade and smiles.
They rattle their cowbells, shout your name and give up high fives by the dozen.

THAT is why I love that race.
I had a good day out there and had a personal best of 4h 7m.

It was awesome to finish in that time.

I've been taking it easy since trying to mentally prepare myself for October 27 when I will be running the Chicago 50K.  I know that race will be much more of a mental battle than a physical one.  I'm excited to give it a go!

For this moment, though...I'll enjoy looking at those catalogues that have been stuffed in my mailbox... I see a great pair of boots I must would like to have!

15 October 2012

Artist's Saturday - Older Post!

NOTE:  This post should have originally gone up on September 15.  
Silly Blogger.

Sarah is a great friend.  Strike that...she is an awesome friend.
We both agree that new things are always worth trying and that when you try those new things, it's best to do it with a friend by your side.


Sarah obtained a Groupon to check this event out and we just finished painting our way into a lovely Saturday afternoon.  The gist is this...a local artist will come, share a sample of their work with you, show you a little technique inspired by the piece and then you get to strut your own stuff on the canvas.

Today's event was hosted at a little bar and restaurant called Revolver.  A perfect site for a bunch of unskilled and skilled artists to strut their stuff and throw some paint on white paper.  While Sarah and I didn't partake in any spirits, we had a great time sipping water, catching up with one another and encouraging each other with each brushstroke.

It was a great way to spend a Saturday.

Everyone should find a friend like Sarah...she's pretty amazing.

Happy Saturday!

Artist's Inspiration
My painting's start...
Sarah painting

Sarah's finished product...awesome!!!

My finished product

Add caption
ps.  Wish me luck...I've got a 20-miler to tackle along the Chicago Lakefront tomorrow!




A Month and a Day...

Let's recap the last little bit...

Moose Jaw, SK
San Antonio, TX
San Diego, CA
2 red eye flights
Babysitting for friends
Spending a day in the city with my brother-in-law
Long Beach, CA 
Albany, NY
Johnstown, PA
A surprise birthday party for my godmother
Two conferences
Lots of meetings
The Chicago marathon
Estes Park, CO
Moving all my furniture out of my apartment
Dave visiting for a too-short weekend

There you have it.  The past month in a nutshell.  It's been a little busy and when you throw in a nasty cold and all the marathon and ultra-marathon prep...well, somethings gotta give.

And readers, you know what that is...

le blog.

I want to be better and not have to apologize for not writing.  But, sometimes it's just enough to keep up  with the day to day.  

I do what I can.

It's been a whirlwind of work and missing home.  I've been quite homesick lately...especially from being on the road so much.  I feel caught between Chicago and Moose Jaw and everywhere in between.

I miss friends and quiet time with the ones I love.
Lucky for me, things should slow down considerably in 2013.

Yup...happy new year to me.

It's never to early to celebrate!

I'll keep you posted.
More often.
I promise.


05 September 2012

Working From Home...

When I'm in the Jaw, I have the lovely pleasure of working from home.  In fact, I think I work harder and get more accomplished from Canada than I do when I'm in the office - chalk that up to less meetings and more time to put my thinking hat on!

However, it can get a little lonely when you are working on your own.

Say hello to Wilson!


A colleague of mine was kind enough to send me Wilson when I first moved up to the Jaw.  He figured I could use some company from an office-mate that kept their opinions to a minimum.  Wilson is great company, but I think he takes way too many snooze breaks.

 Look at him all cozied up in the blanket!

Do you remember Wilson...from the movie Cast Away?


Yup...that's me and Wilson...erm, minus the crazy hair and arguments where I throw him off a cliff and I don't talk to him...and so...yeah...it's nothing like the movie.

In all seriousness, I am very grateful for the fact that I can work from home in order to get some much-needed time in with the husband.  I have a great job and a fantastic space from which to work...it even features a desk that the Mr. made for me when I first arrived up north!

It's my little working haven where I can sip a cup of tea, watch the weather change outside and crank out some serious hours on the computer!