Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rhythm & Blues 5K

This evening was my first race of the season.  If I lived in a different part of the country, this may be one of my last races of the season…however, when the summer days exceed 100 degrees, you’re left with a tired and soggy body, so mustering the motivation to go outside and run fast is close to impossible.  
It’s not exactly cool today (80 degrees) but it is raining, so that makes things a bit more tolerable. 

No matter how long or short my races are, I follow the same routine to get ready.  It is an event after all, and they're always so much fun! 

My new shoes. I've had them for a month, but they hadn't raced until tonight. 

Race bib, shoe tag (chip), watch, and all that extra stuff you get at packet pick-up.

My music. Who am I kidding? This is the first thing I get ready.

The race was scheduled for 5pm, but because the NOPD took way too long to get the streets blocked off, we actually didn't start for an entire HOUR after that.

I was afraid the extra waiting around time would create so much tension I'd have a hard time during the race...that I would be so stiff & irritated, it would be difficult to get back in the mood to run.  (To be honest, everyone there was starting to get on edge, booing and whatnot).
The beer truck actually opened up (meant to serve us AFTER the race) and some runners just started chugging away...but I refused to be swayed. 

I figured I'd made it this far, I could wait a little bit longer. I wasn't about to let a delicious cold beer keep me from a successful run. Plus, the rain had made the streets slippery and a sprained ankle would not be fun. At all. 

SO: Once things finally got started, the race was fantastic! High school bands from around the city played at each mile marker to cheer us on (NOLA style..amazing) 
My time for the 5K (3.1 miles) was 25:14--my personal best for this distance!! I was floored! I couldn't believe I did so well! I came in 24th out of all females in the race. 

To celebrate, my friend, Liz, and I decided a nice cold beverage was in order... 

No matter how weird we looked at the bar--
in sweaty running clothes--
on a Saturday night--
ordering wine

Whatever. They served beer immediately after the race-- which was awesome--but I know what I like. So we went to Tracey's, down the street from my house, and one of our favorite places to go for a quick drink or (delicious shrimp po boy).

Liz and I both ran our personal best today, so we had to raise our glasses and make a toast! 

Next race: 2 weeks from today!! 


Eat, Drink & be Married!

This weekend, I am celebrating a good friend's wedding reception! She moved out to California to be with the love of her life a little over a year and a half ago, and due to unfortunate timing, I wasn’t able to make it to her ceremony last summer. Luckily for me, and all of her other close friends and family still residing in Michigan, they decided to have a reception back in her home town, and mine, to celebrate (even though they have been married for a year). 

My Aunt and Uncle from Florida are also in from town visiting my family, so I’ll get to spend some quality time with them. 

A weekend full of friends and family events are among my favorite and I can’t think of a better way to welcome October! Perhaps I’ll drink some Oktoberfest at the ceremony. 

In the meantime, here are a few other things currently making me happy!

(new cubicle at amazing new corporate office!)

(spoiled on a daily basis with our Starbucks-like coffee station)

(parentals' amazing pantry that is sure to add to my waistline)

(can not decide which dress I want to wear this afternoon...)

P.S. Max and I are celebrating our 4 1/2 year anniversary this weekend. I know I know... you're not supposed to celebrate half years, but since we're only 6 months away from the half decade mark, I think I'll make an exception. 

- Meg

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Name these episodes

Well, I guess I made the first Friends trivia shot too I'm going to be a bit nicer this time.  Meg: describe each episode in 1-2 sentences.

Extra credit: which season do you prefer between the two?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Welcome to the NEW Corporate Headquarters

The time has finally come! Tomorrow I get to pack up my desk in preparation for moving into the new Corporate Headquarters on Thursday. In the words of The Pointer Sisters, "I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it"! Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely fortunate that my company has continued to grow, even through times where remaining status quo was considered a bonus in the business world. But here’s the deal, company growth = additional employees = busting-at-the-seams office building = claustrophobia. The lack of conference rooms and cubicle space has become an issue to say the least.
In our new building, we have excess amounts of formal and informal conference rooms equipped with state-of-the-art technology and furniture as well as brand new furniture in each personal work space (my desk has the option to go up or down depending on if I want to stand or sit!!). I’m especially looking forward to the WiFi capabilities throughout the entire 384,000 sq ft building for those warmer months when you just need to step outside for some fresh air, but don’t want to leave work completely.

I’m also looking forward to the majority of Grand Rapids employees all under one roof! Through my various roles as well as internships during my 4 ½ years in this company I have come to know many people and developed invaluable friendships with them. Through time, we’ve moved on to different roles and, in some cases, different buildings. I already began to map out where certain people sit so not to get lost when I need to escape my desk for some much needed chit-chat.

The daily workout won’t hurt either, since it will take approximately 8 minutes to walk from one end of the building to the other J

(some amazing coworkers decorated my cubicle for my birthday a couple of years ago)
(my most recent work home where I sat for just a few short months)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Music to Live By

When your taste in music varies as much as mine does, there's no explaining it in a single sentence.  It's easier to break it down by time of day, mood and activity.  

Here's how my life can be explained in music.  

When I’m on a short run…
This is when I like to go faster.  I’m either doing speed work preparing for a race, want to burn more calories bc I’m out for a shorter amount of time, or just want an energy boost…so songs end up sounding like this:
1. I’m Not in Love by Crystal Castles   (feat. Robert Smith from The Cure)
2.  Lights by Ellie Goulding  (there is a much better version out there with much more incredible beats…look for it!)
3. Chapel Song by We Are Augustines (recommended by Meggie!)
5. Wish by Nine Inch Nails  (warning: not a pleasant video...but a great song. Do NOT judge. I've loved this song since middle school)
6. Raise Your Weapon by deadmau5  

I am always on the lookout for new fast-tempo songs that will energize my runs--especially  when a race is coming up.  As I find new ones, I'll share them...perhaps this Saturday after I complete my first race of the new season, Tipitina's Rhythm & Blues 5K.  

When I’m on a long run
I mostly prefer instrumental songs.  I may choose artists known for their ambient tunes or--embarrassing reveal--film scores.  The point is, lyrics distract me from my own thinking.  I love to use my long runs for mental cleaning…I organize my ideas & tasks, calm my worries and clear out the mess. Songs with lyrics tend to mess things up in there.  
3.  Time by Hans Zimmer from one of my favorite movies of all time: Inception.

If I'm in the mood for lyrics but want to enjoy the run, I might choose songs like these:
1. Weird Fishes by Radiohead
2. Flying Over Bus Stops by Athlete
3. Lifeline by Angels & Airwaves
4. Untitled by Interpol

The rest of the time, I’m listening to an audio book because, let’s be honest, it kills two birds: I’m reading AND I’m exercising.  

When I’m in my car…
Honestly…I really just listen to NPR or books on CD.  I wish I could say that I have a "start-my-day" song that I listen to before work, but really, I'm in no mood for tunes first thing in the morning. I like talk. I like information. 
I’m currently listening to In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan.  

HOWEVER--If I’m on a long road trip and need to stay awake, I turn my husband’s satelllite radio to a techno station and try to dance or fist-pump in my seat…or I just pull over and tell him it’s his turn to drive.

When I’m working in my home office…(see also: "When I'm cleaning or organizing") 
This is another time I like no lyrics--especially at times like these.  Classical music and beautiful film scores work best for me.  This got me through 2 years of writing online discussion posts and research papers while I completed my master's degree. 
1. See You Again by Mychael Danna.  This is from the movie, The Time Traveler's Wife.  Not my favorite movie, but it happens to be my favorite  book.  
2. Suite Bergamasque - 3. Clair de Lune (this is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard)  
3. For the Love of a Princess by James Horner (Braveheart soundtrack)
4. Main Title from The Notebook...I'm no longer embarrassed by my movie theme just get used to it.
5. May it Be by Enya from Lord of the Rings. You can thank my husband for this one. The movie, not the song.

When I’m cleaning or organizing…
I can't explain this one. My mom certainly didn't clean to this sort of music growing up (that's when she decided she liked country music one day), and it doesn't pump you up or anything.  This is just what ends up on Pandora. It's a mystery why songs like these make me so focused and ready to beautify my surroundings.
This list could go on and's the one genre that has been a constant in my life. 

I did mention in my original post that I was an old soul.   

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Lazy Weekend

Per this post, I was seriously craving what I consider a lazy weekend. This means no traveling to a different city, no plans, NO agenda. While I love a busy social calendar, I also enjoy the weekends filled with zero obligations, no matter how few and far between they may be. I thoroughly enjoyed marking some organizing projects off my to do list, and relaxing with cocktails and Revenge.
Another thing I was craving? Baked goods! I know that seems vague but really all I wanted was the batter! So when the mood struck I decided on cornbread since it reminds me of my childhood, when I used to come home from school to Courtney pulling out a double batch from the oven. Perfection.
(I’m pretty sure I ate at least one muffin worth of batter)
Since I forgot just how much I love cornbread (and cornbread batter, OOPS) I decided for my next batch I will try out this Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread recipe. This will impress Max :)
The highlight of my weekend? A solid 3 hour FaceTime session with my sister!
Coming up I look forward to a week full of yoga, dinners at home with Max, getting a much needed hair highlight and moving into my new corporate office on Thursday.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mapping our Journey

Ever since I was little, I've had the tendancy to romanticize just seems so much nicer through that lens, right? So, when my husband bought me two posters for our new condo in Chicago (my lifelong dream: to live in downtown Chicago!), I went straight to the romantic interpretation  of the gift.   (However, I'm pretty sure that he just picked them because he likes blue and the artwork is contemporary.)

The simplicity of these two pieces fits both our clean decor and our attempt to compromise in decorating tastes.   In the past 5--almost 6, wow--years together, we've come to a style that is now ours, and are often complimented on how well we put a home together. 

Back to my point: the two posters my husband presented me with were from Ork Posters, which offers grid map style prints of various big cities around the world. Hubbie chose Great Lakes and Chicago...I saw them as a tour de us...

(Where we met, worked together and fell in love...)

(Where we were, at the time, moving into a fantastic condo...
and where we were to be married...)

And so it's no surprise, that once I'd discovered these prints, I'd go searching for the missing piece in our journey together: New Orleans!  It's in the mail as we speak.  Once it arrives, we'll have it framed of course, and it will join the other two on the walls of our home. 

(This is where we first moved to, established ourselves as a couple, and have now returned to advance our's where we lived when we got engaged, where we made a few of our now closest friends, and where Monkey first lived.)

As much as I love this artwork, I hope with all my heart that I don't need to purchase another print.  My dream now is to return to Chicago for good.  We'll find a cozy 2 (or 3) bedroom in the South Loop, find jobs we can settle in to and set up camp for a long while. Our journey together will move and change,  but hopefully our address will not. 


Friday, September 21, 2012

Gold Rush

I am the first to admit that I used to turn my nose up to everything gold that crossed my path. Jewelry, sunglasses, knick-knacks, you name it. I thought it was “old” looking. I can finally say that I have turned a corner and am now embracing it in full force. Ever since I purchased these sunglasses earlier this year, I have slowly come around to subtle speckles of gold in outfits and around the apartment. As you saw on this post, I recently welcomed a new piece of jewelry into my wardrobe and have since become enamored with these little touches, which in my opinion can make or break a specific “look” you’re going for. I’m not talking permanent fixtures, but they are a fun way to spice things up (where appropriate).
Here are some pieces that I currently have my eye on:
(would LOVE to pair this Michael Kors watch with so many outfits)

(can just picture favorite rings and bracelets stored in this Etsy Bowl)

(another cute Etsy find...)

(there is something so charming about this Urban Outfitters locket)

(mismatched vintage knobs for our "State Room" dresser)

Thursday, September 20, 2012


My husband is in Chicago at a conference for a few days.  This means I have the place to myself and I choose what is shown on our HUGE TV.

Much better than on the 11" laptop screen

Meg: I'll send you a treat if you can name this episode...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Happy Hump Day!

To my dismay this week is simply crawling by. It’s not for lack of activity; rest assured I am keeping busy from morning until night. Yet, I find myself often glancing at the clock and am disappointed by the minimal amount of time that has passed since the LAST time I glanced at the clock. Typically, I feel like this happens when there are big weekend plans approaching, plans you’re so excited about that time never goes fast enough. However this weekend, even though I have nothing (special) planned, my week seems to be at a standstill. Perhaps it’s because, I couldn’t be more excited to DO NOTHING. One thing about me, I’m not the kind of person that has to be entertained 24/7. In fact, I NEED time to myself to do what I want and recharge my batteries. I suppose its part of how I’m wired…  

With the exception of a happy hour with friends on Friday, I look forward to spending the weekend in solitude, organizing, catching up on my stack of magazines and doing whatever else strikes my fancy. Though I’ll miss Dave while he’s at his golf tournament, there is something about enjoying time apart to do our own thing that makes the Sunday night reunion that much sweeter.

Here are a few things I’m looking forward to this weekend:

(can’t wait for Friday night happy hour here with close friends)

(so excited to cuddle in bed with a bloody mary, magazines and watch this)

(organizing my clothes for the new season)

(perect for a lazy weekend spent bundled up doing all of the above)

- Meg

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Brunch + Beads + Books + Buttons

Would you ever guess that this post is about running? When you live in a city like New Orleans, you never know what you’re going to pass on a jog about town.  This is more of a tour of what I see when I lace up and head out during the week. 

I open my wrought iron gate, leave my house, and immediately pass a Starbucks (right across the street!).  The smell of strong, black coffee…sigh…is there anything more intoxicating…
Our condo is in a magnificent southern house, split into 5 units
BRUNCH: Then, about 1/4 mile down my street, there’s Commander's Palace, a WIDELY known restaurant, saturated with very old-money (aka: super fancy & expensive).  CP hosted the finale of Top Chef back in 2007 (maybe 2008).  It is—supposedly—a favorite restaurant of many celebrities who live here in NOLA.  It is also constantly holding up traffic on Sunday afternoons, due to the valet attendants parking cars more expensive than our combined student loans, just so their owners can enjoy a famous brunch. 

Trotting on…

Once I’m unleashed onto St. Charles, it’s nothing but miles of winding street car tracks to lead me.

This is what I typically see on an evening run after work, 
just as the sun begins to set.  So relaxing.  Resets my day and my state of mind.  This is when I start the good songs. 
Two reasons I run on the “neutra-ground” (some might call it a boulevard):
1. The dirt/grass covering is much better for my knees. 
2. The views are spectacular!

BEADS:  New Orleans never really has a chance to forget about Mardi Gras because no matter what time of year it is, there are beads caught on  the trees along the parade routes.  Strong storms can't even untangle them. 
If you look closely, you'll see several beads on this tree...Mardi Gras was back in February!
BOOKS:  As I’m approaching mile marker 2.5, I pass my library.  I can’t figure out if it’s my love of the smell of old books or the beauty of the architecture that lures me to this branch…but here it is!  
Latter Branch NO Public Library
BUTTONS:  Great movie.  Attractive lead male role…he even has a house here, yet I’ve still never, EVER seen him…
For the late person, I’m referring to Brad Pitt and his hit movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
This house is very near my own. It also happens to neighbor Commander’s Palace, and makes an appearance at the end of my 4.5 mile loop around the Garden District. 

Bonus note about the story of Benjamin Button: I like to listen to audio books on my long runs, & recently picked this one….originally a short story, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  It's quite different from the movie...doesn't even take place in New Orleans!!! 

Sometimes I take my long runs to the park...but that's another day. 


Monday, September 17, 2012

Rustic Vegetarian Spaghetti Sauce

As the summer comes to a close, the amount of fresh garden vegetables available becomes less and less. While we don’t have our own garden, Max and I have been able to take advantage of a few friends that just happen to have” too many” tomatoes and jalapenos to finish themselves (oh darn!). That, along with the apartment community garden that we will occasionally pick at, we like to make many dishes that include fresh ingredients.

Our “rustic” spaghetti sauce is one of our favorite dishes to make together (probably because I can chop up the veggies and he can do the actual cooking). This meal is the perfect balance of freshness and satisfying flavors that is sure to fill up the belly. I must say that Max calls it “rustic” because he never actually follows a recipe. It’s more or less a throw-everything-together kinda deal until we are satisfied with the flavor.

With that being said, I did my best to capture all of the measurements that will make a perfect meal for two with definite leftovers for lunch the next day.

1 onion
5 cloves of garlic
Assortment of tomatoes (see image) we used 10 roma tomatoes and roughly 30 cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or EVOO as my girl Rachael Ray says)
1 minced jalapeno
1 tbsp of red wine vinegar
1 tbsp of honey (to add sweetness)
Basil and parsley – finely chopped (to your liking)
2 Cups of Pasta (whichever pasta you prefer; I love tri color pasta)

1) Sweat onion and garlic with salt and pepper until caramelized
2) Add tomatoes evenly into pan, along with the red wine vinegar, jalapeno and a touch more salt and pepper
3) Cover pan, reduce to low heat, and cook an hour and 15 minutes or until sauce is thickened
4) Add in parsley, basil and honey; let cook another 15 minutes
5) Taste for consistency
6) Pur over pasta and enjoy!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cafe Du Monde

Meg posted this week about some of the things that make her happy.  One of them was a mug I brought her from local (and historic) coffee & beignet shop here in NOLA, Cafe Du Monde.  It's a disgustingly popular (no matter what time of year, no matter the weather, there will be a wait), it's cash only (weird) but soooooo, incredibly worth it.

A normal night at the cafe...

This was Cafe Du Monde during Hurricane Isaac...eerily vacant
It's a good thing this place is in the French Quarter, rather than across the street from me, because their cafe au lait is made perfectly every time (I'm a coffee, black sort of girl) and serving of 3 (THREE!) beignets per person...with about 2 cups of powdered sugar piled on to them.

A habit like this would cling onto a girl's tooshie so quickly, she'd almost miss it...

Point it, the place is genius.  So simple in that they only serve these sinfully delicious pastries w/ your choice of beverage (coffee, milk, OJ).

Every time Meggie comes down here to visit, we bump Cafe Du Monde to #2 on our list of activities (#1 being, you guessed it: a cocktail).

Last summer when she was here, the weather was soggy and glum...but we didn't let it stop us.

There was even a nice local gentleman to play us music while we stuffed our faces...

This place always--ONLY--makes me think of my sister. 

Even though the first time I visited here, it was to soak up my first French Quarter experience in 2007 (you all can fill in the blanks), and my husband took a picture of me, literally shoveling the remaining powdered sugar into my mouth, long after the beignets were gone.  That picture is not shown on purpose.

Even though it's the spot where many of my French Quarter 5K races have begun (really hard to start a running event when you're salivating for fried, sugary treats)...

EVEN THOUGH it's a major landmark in the town that holds such a dear place for me and my husband...

The first thing Meg asks when she gets off of the plane in NOLA is, "When are we going to Cafe Du Monde?". 

Answer: "As soon as you get here."


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Happy Hour

Where to go with my girlfriends on a Friday after work for a crisp, cool, de-stressing refreshment in a town where drinking trumps most everything else?

Oh, where to begin…

Considering its condensed size, New Orleans has a wide array of options for happy hour. My teacher friends and I try to find spots centrally located between our schools, sprinkled in different parts around town. Margaritas at Juan's is often a favorite choice, or if it's beer we're craving, the only place to go in my opinion is The Bulldog.  They have a location down the street from our condo where a pitcher of Blue Moon and a dunkel cheeseburger are ingredients for a perfect night (especially during football season).

But wine is my drink of choice most of the time so, last week, my friends and I chose a place that specializes in wine…lots and lots of wine. It’s called Swirl, located in a charming corner of Mid City.

The owners recommend a bottle based off of your preferences, and voila! Bottoms up!

Once you pop the cork and watch the alarmingly fast rate at which the bottle drains, there is atmosphere, cheese and loafs of French bread to enjoy...just a few of my favorite things. The pino grigio above was delicious (insert sophisticated wine words here).  A welcome, but pricy, treat from my regular $6 bottle of Yellow Tail.  Another place similar to Swirl is W.I.N.O. (Wine Institute New Orleans). I plan to take Meg there next time she's down here.

This city has more to offer than I will probably ever get a chance to fully explore.  Mainly because my husband and I are creatures of habit and often end up at the same places.

Sometimes it's best to mix up something at home and take it on the road because, well, in New Orleans you can!  It's not uncommon for people to take a picnic to one of the local parks or Mississippi River bank for an outdoor rendezvous.  Happy hour can be whatever (and where ever) you make it!

Meggie and I at Audubon Park having mimosas one Sunday afternoon. 
So, now, I raise a class to my baby sister, all the way up in Michigan...may your happy hours never be without spirit!  Love you, miss you, wish you were here...Clink!


On the Banks of the Red Cedar…

…Is a school that’s known to all.

Today is a day I’ve been looking forward to for months. Each year I get together with a group of college friends for either the U of M v. Michigan State or Notre Dame v. Michigan State game, depending on which falls in East Lansing. We whoop it up in true Spartan style and relive those rebellious years at our alma mater, where the typical tailgate festivities take place, including but not limited to bags, boys at the grill, flip cup, beer pong and all other types of “games”. Tonight is an 8pm kick off, reminiscent of the last Irish meeting at MSU. Little Giants my ass!

On a different note, I could not be more thrilled to visit the amazing shops that downtown East Lansing has to offer, Urban Outfitters, Mad Eagle, Pitaya and American Apparel… just to name a few. Although, I need to watch my spending given that I “accidentally” purchased some more boots from here yesterday. With that being said, there are still some things I have on my radar.

(I already have this in grey but since it’s now on sale, I can’t help but indulge since mint is my current obsession)

(can’t wait to throw a sweater over top and pair with some tall boots! Which color should I get?)

(colored jeans are another obsession, especially “Jeggings”, which are perfect to tuck into tall boots for the cooler months)

And what kind of MSU grad doesn’t load up on different gear every season??A trip to SBS is always on the agenda, especially since it’s not far from my favorite bar, where a 10am Bloody Mary sounds like heaven.

Have a great weekend!

- Meg

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Summer Shudder

Today I had a much anticipated half day due to a team outing in the afternoon. To celebrate, I began my morning with typical cup of coffee and splurging on a couple (maybe a few) pieces of chocolate. Note: If I could begin every day with chocolate, and not worry about the health implications (or my tendency to become addicted), I would.

(Cafe Du Monde mug, from my amazing sis, that brings a smile to my face every morning) 

I love work outings. I get the same rush as I did back in grade school when you were, for some reason or another, not in the typical class you would/should be at that time of the day. It feels dangerous, like I’m breaking the law…
This afternoon, I went with my team to the Grand Haven State Park. Back in April I took on a new role at my company, with brand new responsibilities as well as a brand new team. Since I have not gotten to know them very well, this was quite an interesting “team outing”. I love getting to know people based on how they interact during competitive situations. After playing beach volleyball for hours in what felt like 40 mile per hour wind, let’s just say that my legs were burning, my body was covered in sand and my co-workers and I grew closer together. As I, literally, felt the Fall air start to blow in, it wasn’t an ideal beach day, but it was the perfect way to end summer.

(deserted beach view in early afternoon)

Coming home to a “Love Letter Scavenger Hunt” was an amazing way to end my day. As the boy likes to say, “he’s always keeping me on my toes”.

(apparently I haven't even found them all...)

- Meg