Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ode to IT band

It's always gotta be something right? :)

Before the Turkey Trot 10k, both of my knees were giving me some problems, they would hurt under the kneecaps after a run. After the Turkey Trot, my knees were yelling loudly was like ground glass under my kneecaps and the insides of both knees were hurting. It went away after a few days. At the Reindeer Run 5k, the outside of my right knee started hurting after 1 mile. I finished the race, but was hurting pretty bad and gimping around at our traditional Starbucks stop. I had just started using a new running shoe (Brooks Ghost) - I loved them, but started wondering if they were the cause of the knee problems, because, thankfully, I've never had any knees issues (well, until I hit the 11 mile distance mark :) ). I went back to the running store and exchanged the Ghost for my usual Mizuno Wave Riders and went for a run - and was greeted with sharp pain down the side of my right knee. That's where the illiotibial band is...I rolled it out and iced it, but was still hobbling pretty badly the next day so it was off to my awesome chiropractor/PT inflictor, Dr Alice.

After chatting with her some about the knee pain, I think we've determined what the problem is: I've changed my stride when I run. I've subconsciously shortened my stride to reduce the impact/jarring that my back experiences when I run. Go figure. And it's affecting my biomechanics - hence the knee and IT band pain (but, no back pain!). So, the good news is, I can keep running - I'm not damaging anything, it's just going to hurt like the Dickens (where did that saying come from?) until I can retrain myself to not worry about my back hurting and just run like I used to run. I find the whole situation kinda funny, apparently there always has to be something wrong with me...but it keeps me humble and depending on God, so I'll keep welcoming the challenges. Oh and my knee is an awesome purple-y gray color now from the bruises inflicted by Dr. A (I told her my IT band hated her, and she just grinned at me and said that it would like her later. Whatever. Oh the pain of PT). But seriously glad to have Dr A to help me through all these bumps.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Finished projects!!!

My dining table arrived this morning!!! Here I am testing it out with the two rugs I bought:

Espresso/flax (it's not black and white) rug from West Elm

The Yasmin rug from Z Gallerie (sorry for the different angle- but you can see what the table looks like)

And the winner is...

Chevron rug!

Now, I initially was going to Anthropolgize some chairs I bought - intended for this table. I realize now they won't work - but they will work, I'm on the hunt for some chairs - I want them mismatched - and definitely at least one ghost chair among them...stay tuned!

The shelves are up and after almost two years in boxes, my beloved books are on their shelves. I still have another bin to put up and I haven't started organizing them yet (yes, nerdy) But my room feels so much more ME now. :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Turkey Trot and Reindeer Run

It's just SO awesome to post about races. I am incredibly thankful to be running again.

My running buddy, Lisa, and I did the Turkey Trot 10k (6.2 miles) on Thanksgiving morning. This was an interesting race for both of us, because neither of us really trained for it. I had only run up to 3 miles due to joint issues and a sinus infection, and she hadn't worked out since she finished her Half-Ironman three weeks prior (so, really, I was the one who hadn't trained...she definitely was ready for it :) ).

Two days before the race, I went and bought new running shoes because I couldn't stand my current ones - they were too stiff around the ankle, and I was finding that any distance over two miles was really starting to hurt. I figured running 6 miles in new running shoes couldn't be any worse than running in the horrible contraptions of Mizunos I had...and I was right...the new Brooks Ghost felt great (although, now I think they hate my knees...might be back to the revamped Mizunos...). We ran the entire thing (me giving my hips and knees a pep talk around mile 5.5) and averaged a 10:51 mile. Not bad for no training! :)

Post race, warming up with some coffee

Today was the Reindeer Run 5k. This was my debut-back-to-running race last year, where I was only able to run the last mile. Today, I ran the entire thing and averaged a 10:16 mile! My awesome running buddy was sweet to remind me today, when we hit the point where we had starting running last year "remember this time last year?" :) Yeah I do. And I am so thrilled to be feeling better and staggered by how much I have grown spiritually and emotionally during the past year and a half. It's been tough, and I still take it one day at a time, but God has been faithful throughout.

Pre-race photo, sporting our now traditional socks and antlers :)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Coming soon to a dining room near you...

It's time. Time to start putting a dining room together. The table I've been eyeing for awhile was on sale this weekend (priced even lower than the one on craiglist that I ran across!), so I ordered it. And then ordered two rugs and will see which works better. And then, scored some awesome tabletop decor as well. Can't wait to post pics of all of this assembled in my dining room :). Stay tuned!

This is the catalog picture of the dining table (Restoration Hardware)

Close-up of the table - it's made from reclaimed elm wood doors (so you still see the hinge marks, love that!) and steel

Rug option 1 (Z Gallerie) (this rug is actually blingier in person - pearly white and gold with beige)

Rug option 2 (West Elm). I heart chevron patterns. But this might be too bold. We'll see.

Found two of these on the Anthropologie sales table!

Friday, November 25, 2011

House Projects and Parents' visit

My Mom and Dad came to visit me for 5 days in October and it was awesome! Not only did we have fun chatting, watching movies, and seeing a bit more of the area, but they gave me some elbow grease and we got a TON done around the house...including the first project I ever started at the house!

But first, their trip couldn't be ALL work, so we went to Brazos Bend State Park and I introduced them to some alligators. It was a gorgeous day and we had a blast having a picnic lunch and playing Uno.

Me and the 'rents

THEN it was time to put them to work. Seriously, though, such a blessing to have them help out on some projects I've been putting finishing the chair rail I started in the entry way over a year ago. They bought me a miter saw (drool!) for Christmas and I was having some serious issues getting the stand to balance properly (wobbly stand = poor cuts).

Dad working out the kinks in the stand while Mom worked her magic in the front yard weeding and tidying it up.

Perfect fit! I didn't even need to caulk it. My mom laughed at my Dad and I 'cause we were all sorts of high fiving each other over our awesome cutting job. :). Oh and I did paint it of course.

Mom making a REAL curtain out of the piece of fabric I just had draped over a curtain rod...

I'm doing these wall/bracket shelves for my massive amount of books. I couldn't do the drilling 'cause of my swollen hands/fingers, so Dad came to the rescue (he let me argue with the stud's a little unnerving revealing the building flaws/inconsistencies when you use one of those things...).

Today, I finally got around to starting the staining process for the wood we bought for the shelves while they were visiting - I wanted something chunky since 1) it would span about 4 feet and 2) I have a lot of books and 3) I wasn't going with fancy wood, just pine. I hand-sanded and then stained, I did not condition the wood because I wanted the stain to look less perfect (trying to match the vintage furniture I have in my room - bring on the blotchy streaks!)

First four shelves up! Two 12-foot boards will be on the top two brackets (uh, one set of brackets is missing 'cause I need to buy more). So two shelves will go right over the door. The stain came out decently, not a perfect match to the furniture though. I had a water base stained mixed called "American Walnut" but it didn't come out as orange/vintage-y as the sample. Still, it will work for now, I may restain with a more orange tinted stain later. I hope to finish staining the rest of the shelves this weekend and FINALLY unpack the 5 plastic bins of books that have been sitting around since I moved in.

Thanks for all the help Mom and Dad!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nephew time!

I took another trip to see my sister and her family in Boise. We had a great time (as usual)! Carter is starting to talk a lot, but I still had a bit of trouble figuring out what he was trying to say. For instance "coo-pitt" means "too big"...took me about 50 times watching him trying to cram a Hot Wheels car into a little house with him yelling "Coo-pitt! Coo-pitt!!" before I was like, "Ohhh!" Lightbulb :). (He also insisted on calling me "Nana" (um, yeah, not a Grandma, kid!) - which my sister found hilarious and I did not. After about a day, he finally got around to calling me Sissa. Whew.

After I arrived back in Houston, I got a phone call from him and he said "Sissa, I yuv yew TOO much". Awwww :)

Carter also likes trucks and tractors. However, any type of construction-related vehicle is a tractor to him, much to the frustration of John Michael, who knows ALL the proper names.

Sample of a conversation while we were running errands:

C: "Tractor!"
JM: "No, that's a digger Carter"
C: "Tractor!"
C: "Tractorrrrrrrr!!!"
C: "Tractor"
JM: "Carter, we are not going to have this conversation right now".

Monica and I were cracking up at John Michael's last statement (she says that to him quite a bit - he might have a bit of an argumentative streak in him ;-) )

Sporting Sissa's glasses :) I can't believe this kid is almost 5!

It has become a John Michael-Sissa tradition to make faces while in the car. John Michael decides which face we are going to make and Sissa takes the picture

Not sure what I am going to do if Monica and John ever get rid of this chair! It's fun to use it for our Photo-with-Sissa op each time I visit.

It was indescribably sweet to sit down on the couch and in less than 10 seconds, have both boys snuggled up against my sides (or arguing over who got to sit in my lap), John Michael insisting on holding my hand as we grocery shopped (and also insisting on "walking on" Sissa's feet - you know, where you stand the kiddo on your feet and they walk "big" steps?), and Carter randomly dropping whatever he was playing with to throw himself around my knees and give me a hug (or if I was sitting, hug-tackle me). I love those boys. SO SO SO much. I won't get to see them until March, when we will be celebrating my Grandma's 90th birthday, so I am glad I had a longer trip this time. Good times.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fall Decorations 2011

Here are my fall decorations...just a few touches to remind me that even though it's 88 degrees really is mid-October :)

Welcome to my fall house!

New wreath (yay 60% off sales at Joanns!)

Same as last year, Autumn Leaves candles and fall foliage

Sorry for the dark picture - fall foliage in the wall vases with mini-corn husk thingies...

Breakfast nook centerpiece

Kitchen sink decor - fall foliage and gourds

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Guest bedroom: Progress

Well, the parents arrive in about 1.5 hours. I wasn't able to get all the guest room items taken care off, but it's definitely a HUGE improvement.

The biggest frustration (thus far!) was the painting. I used some paint (Silver Drop) that I bought back in February. I ran out and went to Home Depot to get some more...when I brought it home, even though the labels were identical, the colors were very off...turns out they mixed it incorrectly back in February. What followed was four different trips to Home Depot and me speaking with two different managers to convince them it was their mistake and they should give me another gallon of the Silver Drop to compensate for the incorrect one...I did manage to convince them, but I lost a lot of "get the room ready" time in the process and had already spent almost 7 hours the wrong color. So the parents will enjoy 3.5 whiteish (not Silver Drop) walls. At some point, I'll repaint with the 2 gallons of Silver Drop I now own.

I did order a white sofa slipcover from Bed, Bath, and Beyond, but wasn't happy with the quality or color of it, so it's getting some point I'll get a sleeper sofa in here that actually matches, but for now, the sturdy Lazyboy works well.

Guest bedroom - Progress

Close-up of the frames...yay scrapbook paper

Absolutely thrilled with the lamps and counter stools!

All ready for Mom and Dad!

A couple of things - those pillows from my other post run about $40-50 a pillow! No way am I paying that I plan to create a few of my own (or hawk the CB2 website until they go on sale :)). Also, my mom and I will tackle the curtains (I have the curtains and the paint, just wasn't able to get to them) this week, so I'll post pictures of those.

Whew. I'm beat :)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Running Brain

I surprised myself today...I forgot how weird my running brain thoughts are...

I was running here today:

Seabrook Trails

I love these trails. It was my first running spot when I moved to Texas and I've pounded a lot of miles out on those trails. But I digress...Running Brain.

So as I am running along this afternoon, I head into a more densely wooded area and was saddened to see the state of the woods due to the severe drought here...the trees actually looked thirsty.

Here are the thoughts that Running Brain was outputting:

"Hmm, the human body is made mostly of water"...
"What if the trees smell me as I am running through them"...
"Would a root shoot up from the ground and stab my leg like a straw?"...
"Wait, it would just get blood and that's salty and counterproductive to quenching thirst"...


"Oh no! Now the rabbits are after me!"

Yes, scary, I know. I managed to control any thoughts on thirst-crazed rabbits chasing after me...and Running Brain settled, until I saw the usual alligator warning sign and started planning for how I would wrestle the alligator that was probably about to jump out of the bushes at me (how it would manage to jump, I don't know...I don't seem to have a lot of control over Running Brain).

Hey, at least it makes the miles go by fast :)...maybe Running Brain is just glad to active again...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mission: Guest Bedroom

My parents are coming to visit in two weeks. The guest bedroom (the sofa is a sleeper sofa), which is actually more office-sized, as my roommate occupies the second bedroom in the house, currently looks like this:

I know, right?

So besides giving those ceiling fans a ride to Salvation Army and putting a lot of that stuff back in the closet (which is strategically packed to the brim with old college stuff I have yet to go through - (sad, yes) - luggage, and Christmas decorations), the room needs some character. I'm currently sitting on a gallon of paint called "Silver Drop" - it was supposed to grace my bedroom walls, but I ended up going a different direction and I don't want to waste it. So here's the mood board I put together for the guest bedroom:

1. Silver Drop from Behr - I already own this...the rest of the paint colors are just to give you a feel for what I am going for in the room

2. Jumping on the chevron pattern fabric bandwagon ... I think I am going to go with wider chevron stripes (similar to this, but not as wide, I'll find a happy medium), andI found several online tutorials for how to paint your own chevron curtains (I plan to use some plain white grommet curtains from IKEA)

3. Throw pillows from CB2...I have a gift card from a returned purchased...definitely could come in handy...and I'm loving the question mark's called "huh?" :)

4. These are actually counterstools on Overstock, but I thought they would make great end tables/nightstands on either side of the couch.

5. Frames from Pier 1 (I already own these, thanks to a gift card :) ) - I think I will put yellow flowers in the center

6. These lamps are on sale at West Elm right now...I think I might just go ahead and buy them, since they are SUPER on sale.

7. Not pictured, but I want to get a white couch cover for the sleeper sofa...otherwise, ick, major color clash!

We'll see how far I get in two weeks...stay tuned...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Recent literary delights

I just finished another trio of reads. Starting with my favorite of the trio:

Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand

I finally got my hands on a copy of the book and pretty much devoured the thing when I flew to San Francisco. THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. First off, I am a huge fan of Lauren Hillenbrand. Her "Seabiscuit" was absolutely fantastic and I had no interest in horse-racing whatsoever when I picked it up...I still don't really, but she made me appreciate it, I wasn't bored, and felt I "grew" from reading it. "Unbroken" is non-fiction, a true account of Olympic runner, Louie Zamperini, and his experience in WWII. Louie was a bombardier on a B-24 Liberator that crashed into the ocean. He survives for over 40 days in a rubber raft, in which in and his surviving comrades float thousands of miles into Japanese territory. He's captured and spends time in several Japanese POW camps. I write this all mater-of-factly, but Ms. Hillenbrand pulls you into what Louie is smell the gasoline and the alkaline smell of salt water, you feel the stillness and the chaos that Louie describes...I was a bit afraid I was going to fall asleep that evening and dream of war (I didn't, thankfully, but that is truly how vividly this story is told).

I won't lie, there are some tough parts in this book. We are talking about war and POW experiences after all...they are hard, horrific, and staggering, and my mind can't wrap itself around the cruelty that humans are capable of. However, this book (I am getting goosebumps as I type this) centers around the resiliency of human life, overcoming the odds, determination, focus, and finding the good in the small things, when all else seems lost. It is an amazing work of writing and I didn't want the book to end. Lauren Hillenbrand brings history to life on the pages - I am now so much better versed in the Pacific aspect of WWII and I feel like I actually know some of the soldiers that fought in it. Well done Ms. Hillenbrand, well done. 47 thumbs up on this one.

Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret - by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Hudson

Hudson Taylor was one of the first Christian missionaries to enter central China and this book is his autobiography, written by his son. I had heard Mr. Taylor's name referenced on several occasions, but was not familiar with the work that he did. I was astounded reading about the trust Mr. Taylor showed in God through severe trials. He truly left everything to the Lord. As a believer, who trusts her life to God and seeks to honor and give Him glory in everything she does, I still struggle with trying to take back control of certain areas of my life, rather than handing it over to God and letting Him lead's a daily battle. Mr. Taylor had an amazing capacity for looking at an issue, trusting it to God's sovereignty, and then praying for direction and guidance, and moving forward, rather than stewing or being anxious.

One excerpt that particularly challenged me was the following:

"Take time. Give God time to reveal Himself to you. Give yourself time to be silent and quiet before Him, waiting to receive, through the Spirit, the assurance of His presence with you, His power working in you. Take time to read His Word as in His presence, that from it you may know what He asks of you and what He promises you. Let the Word create around you, create within you a holy atmosphere, a holy heavenly light, in which your soul will be refreshed and strengthened for the work of daily life"

Very convicted on being still before God and waiting on Him. Very good read.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

This is a fiction work that tells the story of twin brothers growing up in Ethiopia and the chain of events that start from before they are born that shape their lives and paths decades later. Truly well written, Mr. Verghese characters are so real that I had to remember that this was a work of fiction, not non-fiction. I appreciated how Mr. Verghese intertwined the fictional lives of the characters with real historical events and issues that took place in Ethiopia - historical events and issues that here in America, we glance at in the news, or realize we never even heard about it and I now have a new appreciation and understanding of the struggles of other nations. The only aspect about this book that I didn't like was the sensuality. I really don't want to read about the thoughts 13 and 14 year old boys have about women. I know it happens, and Mr. Verghese was making his characters real...I just don't want to read about it, and that's just me. The writing style, flow, plot development and characters were all phenomenally well done.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

San Francisco - Final post - Boats and crab

I also really like boats...I've read a lot of books that take place on clippers and schooners and stuff like that and love the history behind these beauties. We took a tour of this schooner that was in service for 50 years! From sailing around South America to England, to Australia for lumber shipping, and to Alaska for a salmon cannery, this boat has some great history and once again I was blown away by the excellence of the displays, information, and videos. National Parks Service rocks!

The schooner, Balclutha

View from Balclutha

Oh, it's NOT naptime?

A mockup of supplies in the middeck hold thingy place (yeah...that's nautical terminology for you...)

I'm a natural, dontcha think? :)

I was told I couldn't come to San Francisco and not partake in a Dungeness Crab who am I to argue with San Franciscan expectations?

Dinner: before

Dinner: After

It was so incredibly tasty! And we wrapped up dinner by swinging by Ghirardelli's again, where I got a caramel-sea salt hot chocolate...and then preceded to enter a sugar -I never-want-to-eat-chocolate-again-coma after drinking only HALF of a SMALL size. I never thought I would be bested by chocolate ::hangs head::

As you can see, it was a FUN trip and I really enjoyed the city. Hope I get a chance to visit again and see more of the sites/museums/theaters.