Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Reads: Mermaids in the Basement (+ Raindrops on Roses!)


Book number five for the month of June is finished! And just in time, right? I was doing so well for the first part of the month, and then this last book took me forever and a day to read. I really wanted to like it, but things just moved so. slowly. and looking back, I'm not sure if anything actually happened. I enjoyed the characters, and they were quirky in the way Southern lit characters usually are. I loved the descriptions and the little details that made the environment and the atmosphere come alive. That was fantastic. But really the main character, Renata, wasn't my favorite, and I got a little tired of hearing about the various short-comings of her parents relationship. The point of view changes chapter by chapter, so make sure you check the chapter titles before you begin, or else you might get a little bit confused. (Guilty! I kept getting lost.) So this book was okay, but not my favorite. I gave it a 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads but when I looked at the reviews from other people most of them gave it 4 or 5 stars. Who knows!

Books for July:
This is the tentative list for July (depending on library availability!)
  1. Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett 
  2. Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach
  3. Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott
  4. Letters from New Orleans by Rob Walker
Have you read any of these books? What are you reading right now? I'm always looking for more books to add to my pile!

Also, thank you so much for the sweet comments on the post about my 5k! There are a few more races (closer to home) coming up soon, so hopefully I'll be able to do one or two of those in the coming month or so. And I think it's about time I get back into lifting weights at the gym, so I'm really looking forward to that.

And finally...I mentioned a few posts ago that I won a giveaway! I wanted to share this with you all because I'm a really big fan of the collection and the meaning behind the pieces, and I think some of them might resonate with you guys too.

Jess from Makeunder My Life and Jess LC Jewelry hosted a 9 piece giveaway a few weeks ago on 9 different blogs (including her own). The necklaces were from the Soc Chic collection, which is really unique! Each necklace has a different meaning behind it, and they're all linked to different non-profits. So if you buy one of the necklaces a piece of the profit is donated to the attached organization! I love anything like this - I get something cute, and someone else gets help with a cause. 

And here it is, the raindrops on roses necklace!

This benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

And I absolutely love it! Sometimes it really is the simplest pleasures that make life beautiful! I put this on when I received it last Friday and I haven't taken it off since. 

If you haven't visited Makeunder My Life I definitely recommend it, I love reading about the ins and outs of running a business and she has some awesome posts about living a life full of intention so you can do what you love. And all of her jewelry is gorgeous.

I think that's it! I had my 2nd photography class this morning and even though I've been doing a lot of reading and research on my own this past week, it was great to have someone explain the same concepts in person so we could all ask questions. I took all of the above pictures in manual mode! (Which could explain why they look a little funky.) I'm loving what I've learned so far.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sometimes a manicure

....looks better in your head! This is proof that I frequently encounter nail-fail.


This sounded like such a cute idea when I thought of it, but on my nails...yikes.

My other hand is dot-less and while I like that better, I'm not really a fan of the yellow in general. Almost looks like I dipped them in mustard! Yummmm - or not. 


(Also, I took this with my iPhone. I updated it over the weekend and apparently 3GS owners now have all of the features of the 4G? Including zoom and sharper pictures and bigger picture sizes, I guess! Who knew?)

Couch to 5K - Complete!

(Big thanks to my madre for taking all of these pictures. :) )
Well kids, I did it. I ran my (second) 5k without keeling over or giving up halfway through! I'd call that a relatively decent accomplishment. :)

The race started across the street from NW Personal Training and it continued through downtown Vancouver, WA, across some bridges, and through some kind of historical battlefield! This was my first time in Vancouver so I'm not the greatest tourguide, but the course was beautiful. Remember, when a race director tells you it will be relatively flat, they're lying. 
Sure, it's relatively flat when you're walking or looking at a map, but those itty bitty hills KILLED ME. And when I looked around, everyone was walking those hills. Even the big muscular guys that could have crushed my head with a bicep. I was feeling pretty discouraged about how much walking I was doing, but when I pulled myself out of my pity party world I realized that I wasn't the only one having a hard time!

Timing chip!

So yeah, I guess I really do like to match and accessorize even on race days.
I promise you I don't usually wear Nicole Richie sunglasses to work out. Really! I wasn't planning on it being so freaking sunny or HOT. 80 degrees is gorgeous when you're hanging out, but awful awful awful when you're running up and down hills and across sunny battlefields. Also, I'm just a wimp when it comes to being hot. I live in awe of all of you that run outside in Florida during the summer. CRAZY PEOPLE! 

My dad decided last minute to participate in the 5k too! He signed up for the walking division and kicked some serious booty. 2nd place overall booty - holla!

There's my dad! This was the start/finish line (duh, obviously...big sign up there!). There was a TON of police support along the route, but the last 1/2 mile or so was when things fell apart - runners kept getting lost! We didn't really know where to go and the officers were trying to direct us and stop traffic at the same time, which made things a little bit confusing.






Such. A. Dork. 
This was right after I finished and about 30 seconds before I had a mini temper tantrum because I was hot and didn't feel good and I wanted to sit. down. right. now. (I'm sorry mom, thank you for putting up with me!)

Oh and guess what? 2nd place in my age group! I was NOT expecting this at all. Seriously. My time was 34:06 - almost a minute slower than my first 5k (33:11). But hey, I was still under 35 minutes, which makes me happy because I'm slow. Okay, maybe it's not that I'm slow...I just like to walk a lot!

Whew. I can honestly say I'm glad this is over. This was a really tough race for me both mentally and physically. I sound like I was running a marathon or something, but the shorter races can be a challenge too! 

Almost forgot...the music! I don't remember listening to these songs at all, but my iphone says I did! haha I guess that goes to show how focused on putting one foot in front of the other I was. 
  • Shirt Off - Blank & Young Ivy
  • Rude Boy - Rihanna
  • We'll Be Alright - Travie McCoy
  • Typical - MuteMath
  • Run Joey Run - Glee Cast
  • Women Lie, Men Lie - Yo Gotti ft. Lil Wayne - TWICE! Told you it's my fave running song.
  • Summer Girl - Jessica Andrews 
  • California Gurls - Katy Perry ft. Snoop Dogg
  • Bottoms Up - Keke Palmer
Aside from the random country song that slipped in there, this was a pretty sweet playlist for the run. 

Okay, I've got a few more posts coming up (probably today), including one about the giveaway I won from the fabulous Jess of Makeunder My Life and Jess LC Jewelry.



Thursday, June 24, 2010

Kick Ass Rockstars - Sarah

This is Sarah and she is a kick ass rockstar.

Seriously!

We were roommates (apartment-mates?) last year at school, and I stopped by to visit her on my way through Washington yesterday. I miss having her around all the time! 

The weather was gorgeous and we had a picnic at the park in her hometown. 

 
 

Such a great lunch, simple but the perfect foods for a picnic. I would call her a mini Martha Stewart, but I know how she feels about that! :)

After lunch we ran around downtown and I tortured her with my camera. Um. I mean, she graciously agreed to be a guinea pig for me.  (Could this girl get any prettier?!)


She just started a blog of her own and she bakes adorable cupcakes that I'm totally jealous of, so of course you should stop by and say hello! :)

It's Thursday, which means Burn Notice and Royal Pains tonight. I'm a sucker for all of the summer shows (True Blood, anyone? Mad Men?). What have you guys been watching lately?

Couch to 5K - Second to last run?

65 degrees and sunny when I headed out this morning. Finally. SUMMER! Yesterday it was in the mid-80s and there was lots of sunshine and I about died of happiness. So gorgeous.

Today's run was...well, it was a run. I didn't have fun and I wanted it to be over. Maybe because it was warm outside? I don't know, but I wish I could have an easier time enjoying my runs. I see people out there and read blogs of people that love running and I wish I could feel the same way!

Today's playlist:
Chillin' - Wale ft. Lady Gaga
Rude Boy - Rihanna
Women Lie, Men Lie - Yo Gotti ft. Lil Wayne (This is the BEST song for running)
Drop the World - Eminem ft. Lil Wayne
Pretty Girls - Wale ft. Gucci Mane
Ridin' Solo - Jason Derulo
Becky - Plies
All the Way Turned Up - Soulja Boy ft. Roscoe

If only the people driving by knew what I was listening to! haha Definitely not what you would expect from the little girl jogging by in her all-pink outfit and sunglasses.

I just finished making a green smoothie and it's in the freezer right now. I know they're really good for you, but I can't bring myself to drink it! haha I'm hoping the extra cold-ness will help...I'm not a fan of a warm smoothie.
Do you drink these green monsters? What's your favorite recipe? 


Race on Saturday! 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kissing Frogs



Have you ever found something that for no particular reason pulls you in? There's a feeling you can't shake. I know I know, I'm getting kind of woo-woo on you here.

This is my frog. I found him at the cutest, quirkiest store in Portland last summer. I saw him the instant I walked into the store and as I circled around looking at everything (this place is packed with all kinds of vintage jewelry, decor, clothes, everything), I kept coming back to him.

After my third pass, the young man working picked up the frog and thrust him into my arms. Take it, his juju is speaking to you, I can tell, he said. Juju? Speaking to me? I laughed, but carried around the heavy statue for the next 45 minutes as I browsed through the store.

He was right though, I couldn't leave without my little frog prince.

And lately, his juju has been at an all time high. He's been living in my bookcase and for some reason he'll catch my eye at random times throughout the day. I woke up last night and my eyes flew directly to the statue on the shelf. Weird! I'm being stalked by a frog! Wearing a crown!

I think this frog is trying to tell me something. Stay with me here! We've all heard of intuition, right? And how we should follow that little feeling in our stomach, even if it feels super crazy and out there? You know exactly what I mean!

And that's what I've been doing this week. And you know what, since I've listened to my frog prince crazy weird juju, some crazy things have happened. Crazy awesome things. Coincidence? Maybe. But I think mr. frog prince deserves a little bit of credit for this!

Instead of doing what I usually do (endless research, list-making and planning), I jumped headfirst into something. In a big way! And things are happening - good things! I'm enjoying this whole listening to your intuition thing.

And because this is a weird, scatter-brained post, here's today's current ring + manicure (from my iphone before class this morning!).

Coming soon:
- The final push before this weekend's 5k!
- Bedroom makeover
- Pretty pictures, we've had gorgeous weather!
- I don't know what else, I have a list of stuff somewhere. :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Couch to 5K - The final countdown!

5 days and counting until the 5k this weekend! I'm excited, even if I'm still not over this cold I think it's going to be a really fun race. They have bands and a costume contest! When we lived in Portland I noticed that PDX-ers love any excuse to dress up in crazy costumes.

Today's run...55 degrees and cloudy (of course). So so so humid! I'm still really congested in my chest, so I made sure to take it easy while I was out there. 20 minutes of running, with one walk break in the middle. Not an epic run by any means, but it got the job done. I'm looking forward to doing more strength training after this weekend. I really miss lifting weights!

Today's music...

  • Liberty Walk - Miley Cyrus
  • Oops, I Did it Again - Britney Spears
  • Obsessed With You - The Orion Experience 
  • Magic - B.O.B. ft Rivers Cuomo
  • Nth Degree - Morningwood
  • We'll Be Alright - Travie McCoy
  • Don't Pretend - Travie McCoy
Lots of good sing-along-songs! 

Today's question...
What's your favorite song right now? I'm loving California Gurls by Katy Perry, it's seriously the perfect summer song. How fitting for today - the first official day of summer!

Weekend in Pictures

Well it's past midnight, which means today is officially my daddy's birthday! And it's finally the first day of summer! Happy Birthday Dad, I love you!

I have a lot of pictures from this weekend. The camera hasn't left my hands since Friday afternoon. I've been bitten - hard.

Ready? Let's go.


Miss Pearl.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could all lounge around like this?

Breakfast Saturday morning...

Oh yeah, this happened.
With ice cream. This wasn't mine though! (I just ate half of it.) What'd I have?

Pure strawberry deliciousness. And I don't even like crepes.

Slipped these on for a walk around downtown.




Back home for some b-ball with dad for Father's Day!

I wore these, obviously. 
Kidding, but I love them. They're GOLD.
Switched out this lens for the 50mm. Tricky little thing, but I'm enjoying using my feet as my zoom. Golden cowgirl style, of course. Yee haw

Look at that depth of focus! (I think? Still learning my terms. My brain is in summer-mode!)

ps I'm not engaged, so let's call this my single girl right hand ring. Keepin' it classy, folks.
Finally, my last project for the weekend.

Soft pretzels for my dad! 

Just an FYI, if you put parchment paper into an oven that's over 400 degrees, it will
a) turn brown
b) smoke furiously
c) eventually catch on fire
I managed to um, heat things up not once but twice today in the kitchen. Obviously, I have skills. Everything tasted great though! My dad and I also watched Cupcake Wars, which may be my new favorite Food Network show, even though the cheese factor is through the roof.

Tomorrow:
- I'm running! Finally. I suck at working out these days, but I have a 5k on Saturday! 

I hope you guys all had great weekends, and a (somewhat belated) Happy Father's Day to all of the dads out there! 
And, happy 1st day of summer! Today's weather was 55 degrees and rainy. I haven't worn a sundress in weeks. Heard a rumor we'll be seeing some sun soon. Fingers crossed, like always!

What'd you do this weekend?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Mermaids & Grapes

Haven't done one of these posts in a while!

Gargantuan Green Grape by OPI

Book number five!


Loving this ring from Forever 21. I've had it since last summer. 

What's on your fingers (or toes!) today?

Ps. Happy Friday. TGIF!

Blog Redo - The Details! - Long.

In the process of creating my button - this morning.

Yesterday I set out to make a few little changes on the blog, and here we are with an entirely new look! While I made everything you see here, I didn't do it without lots of help - and I wanted to let everyone know where I learned all of this great stuff and that it's not as hard as it looks!

A Solid Foundation
Before you create any kind of fancy background or header for a blog, it's really important you have a simple skeleton to work with. Ideally, you would use a layout that has a basic original design, a similar structure to what you'd like to have and is easy to customize. So really, you don't want to start off with something that has very elaborate HTML coding or lots of complicated doo-dads and colors and graphics, because it can be tricky to navigate through all of that stuff.

I used the Minima template (or layout, whatever they're calling them these days) from Blogger. I see this used on a lot of blogs, and before I had Extreme Georgia as my template I used Minima myself. The template is exactly what you want when you're doing work on a blog, it's very simple, black and white and even if you only add a header image or a little bit of color to the links it already looks classic and pretty.

Roadblocks are Moveable
After spending a few hours creating a really pretty orange and red background yesterday and testing it out (more on this later), I realized that Minima is a 2-column template, meaning you have your content on the left and one column on the right for widgets and gadgets (like links, your followers, about me section, etc). I needed more space! After a lot of Googling and a lot of frustration, I decided to manually change Minima into 3-columns instead of using something else. Here's how you can make Minima into a 3-column template.

Breaking it down...The Background
This is a great tutorial on how to make your own scrapbook style blog background. I used Photoshop, but you can also use GIMP, which is the free equivalent. The tutorial is for a 2-column style, but once I played around with things I was able to adjust it to the right width. The undo and step-backward buttons are your friends!


The Header
I had so much fun making the header! I didn't use a tutorial for this, I just played around with some different textures and papers until I found a combination that made me smile. Don't forget to save as you go! 


Custom Fonts
Once again, Amanda from Kevin & Amanda came to the rescue with another fab tutorial. See the fonts I have for the post titles and the different headings on the sidebars? Yeah, I did that! This was time consuming, and a little tricky. Even if you don't have a lot of experience with coding, her directions are extremely helpful, and there's a troubleshooting section at the end too. You can do it! She has links to a million bazillion cute fonts, too.

Grab a Button
Finally, I made a button! You can find directions for this here, and they're very easy to follow.

Resources - The most important part of this post.
If you want great ideas (and step-by-step directions) for making your blog super awesome, I'd recommend Shabby Blogs Blog and Kevin and Amanda. I used both of these blogs for my makeover, and I absolutely love them. Super easy to follow, and extremely helpful!

Megan at Shabby Blogs also has a ton of blogger backgrounds (free for you!) that you can use too, in case you're not ready to make your own yet.

If you are ready to make your own backgrounds, welcome to my new addiction: the world of digital scrapbooking.

Oh yeah, it exists. And it's serious business, folks. Super awesome serious business.

The paper I used for the background, the lettering, the bows, the background of the button all came from Summertime Designs and Shabby Princess. These two ladies make amazing amazing kits, and they're all free for you to use. Crazy, right? I spent so much time downloading different themes and playing around with all of the cute stuff last night. Seriously addicting.

Okay so, I think that covers everything! Oh, I almost forgot my #1 tip. Create a test blog! If you're on blogger it's super easy to do - go to your dashboard and click 'create new blog'. There you go! You can set it as visible to only the author (so that means just you) in the settings, and then you can play around with everything without worrying about messing up your blog! And that way you'll know that when you go live with your new redesign everything will work correctly and look great.

Do you do all of your own blog design, or do you have someone else help you out? Who are your favorite blog designers? If you had wicked awesome photoshop skills, what would your blog look like?

You may have noticed a few changes...

If you're reading this blog via email or Google Reader, I'd highly recommend you click through to see what I've been up to today!

Remember what things looked like before?


And now everything's been beached out! I seriously spent 8+ hours working on this today, and I still have quite a few things I want to do but still, pretty big changes, yeah? I did it all by myself, too! And I've got more on the way. :)

I should be done tinkering around with everything sometime tomorrow, so don't be too alarmed if you see more changes. Let me know if anything isn't working for you, or if there's anything you'd like to see added or changed. (I'll add a resources section tomorrow morning, too. I couldn't have done it without the help of the Google-machine!)

Okay, I think it's time to step back from the computer...I think I'm going cross-eyed. I'll be back!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Couch to 5K - W7D3 & Your Hometown!

I'm pretty sure I've been on week 7 for about three weeks now!

Today's run wasn't the greatest thanks to my bum foot and my super congested lungs, but I guess some is better than nothing, right?

Listened to...
Hollywood - Marina & the Diamonds
I'm On A Boat - The Lonely Island ft. T-Pain
Closer - Kings of Leon
Robot - Miley Cyrus
Poker Face - Glee Cast
California Gurls - Katy Perry ft. Snoop Dogg

It was 55 degrees and sunny at 9am. Today's high is 63 and they're calling for rain - again. Are we sure it's summer time? Seriously people!

This IS the Pacific Northwest though, so I guess this is normal?

We're known for three things here...

and of course this....
 
Seriously. Lots of this.

Though of course you know if you're a real PNW-er you don't use an umbrella - ever!

What's your region known for?

Summer Reads - Them Bones


Am I the last person in the world to find out there's more than one mystery genre? I knew about true-crime and thrillers and horror, but I didn't realize there was a genre for the kinds I like to read! You know, the ones where the sleuth owns a bakery or she's a librarian and she just so happens to be dating a detective or a policeman and of course she lives in a quaint town and she loves to make soap or knit in her free time. Ummm maybe it's just me, but I love love love these types of mysteries! And they're called cozies, apparently. So when I discovered that this genre existed (and there are entire websites dedicated to cozy mysteries) I about peed my pants. And then I added a TON of books to my to-read shelf

This was the first of my foray (officially, at least) into cozy territory. 

From Amazon...
Meet Sarah Booth Delaney...an unconventional Southern belle whose knack for uncovering the truth is about to make her the hottest detective in Zinnia, Mississippi...if it doesn't make her the deadest.
No self-respecting lady would allow herself to end up in Sarah Booth's situation. Unwed, unemployed, and over thirty, she's flat broke and about to lose the family plantation. Not to mention being haunted by the ghost of her great-great-grandmother's nanny, who never misses an opportunity to remind her of her sorry state--or to suggest a plan of action, like ransoming her friend's prize pooch to raise some cash.
But soon Sarah Booth's walk on the criminal side leads her deeper into unladylike territory, and she's hired to solve a murder. Did gorgeous, landed Hamilton Garrett V really kill his mother twenty years ago? And if so, what is Sarah Booth doing falling for this possible murderer? When she asks one too many questions and a new corpse turns up, she is suddenly a suspect herself...and Sarah Booth finds that digging up the bones of the past could leave her rolling over in her grave.
I'll be honest. I liked this book, but it didn't knock my socks off or anything. This is the first book of the Sarah Booth Delaney series, so maybe that was part of the slowness? There's a lot of character development to be done for a multi-part series!

Also, the whole ghost thing? Maybe I just don't understand it, but I had a hard time suspending disbelief when it came to Jitty. Once an author has gained my trust, they can do all kinds of crazy things and I'll most likely stay with them through the end of the book - like introducing a ghost. The thing is, they need to gain my trust first. That being said, she was a funny (and quirky) character, and she helped Sarah Booth out quite a bit when it came to her amateur sleuthing.

I'm not sure if I'll continue reading the next books in the series. Has anyone else read this or the others? (Buried Bones, Splintered Bones, etc)


Next up:
Mermaids in the Basement by Michael Lee West (my final book for June's challenge!)
Columbine by Dave Cullen

Today:
I'll be lacing up my sneakers for the first time since last Monday. Yikes. Has it really been that long? My 5k is in nine days y'all. NINE. I think I'm pretty much recovered from my cold of doom though, and  my foot isn't broken - just a bone bruise! We'll see what happens. Fingers crossed!