Friday, January 31, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Week ending January 31

After almost 3 weeks, I am finally going to see Grammie today!  We live less than a 15 minute drive away, but between negative temperatures and blizzards and general working, the visits did not line up.   The good news is that Nene will be around as well, allowing me to visit two of my favorite people at once.   You know I am all about efficiency.

Last Friday we had "A Date Night," as Michael kept calling it.  This consisted of running an errand and eating at Red Lobster.   We really live it up.   I had not been inside RL for probably 15 years and I was pleasantly surprised.   The evening also consisted of me dropping my hat in the parking lot during the errand, not realizing it until we got to dinner, and having to retrace our steps.   I have lost so many hats since college it's not even funny.    The good news is that we found it, washed in the sink, and it's as good as new.

In addition to a traditional date night, Michael also treated me and my in-laws to a gourmet meal cooked at home complete with champagne.   Y'all.    It was delicious.    I am sure I am still running off the calories that I consumed on Sunday but it was worth it.  In other news, I'll be eating grilled chicken breast until Easter :-)

And while we're on the YAY Michael kick, I would like to report that I lost my VOIP internet connection that I use for work.   Michael MacGyvered a system that hooked my phone up to my personal computer which then used my cell phone as an internet hot spot.   It was a long shot, but it worked.   I love that he is such a good problem solver in so many areas, but especially technology.

This past weekend my mom alerted me to a few mega sales going on via the interwebs.   I really do not like shopping in stores, so on a frigid Sunday, I spent time browsing clearance winter clothing.   I understand stores have cycles that are way ahead of the seasons, but it is pretty silly to have a clearance sweater posted the same day you are experiencing -2 as your high.   Not that I'd know anything about that.      Any hoo, as part of my shopping spree, I ordered a pair of FLEECE TIGHTS! I am so excited about these.    I got word that my order shipped on Thursday so hopefully the warm coziness will arrive soon.   I should probably consider ordering a few spare hats too, now that I think about it.

Are you ready for some football?   I must say I love Super Bowl weekend.   I'm a fan of the game and I also enjoy all of the ads.  I have two entries in our office Super Bowl Squares game, so might even win some money among all the fun.   Bottom Line: I am looking forward to Sunday for the game, the food and of course the ads.  Have you seen this sneak peak from Budweiser?   I absolutely adore it.

Working in a sales department, my job ebbs and flows by the months of the calendar.   Typically the earlier portion of the month is slower and the last few days are craziness.   I am all for routine and knowing what to expect at work, but this month threw me for a loop - and a GOOD one!    After the New Year's confetti settled, we were SLAMMED.   This continued for about three weeks and started to taper.   The good news?   For the first time in I can't remember when [so many the first time EVER!] I reached my goal about halfway through the month and then I passed it.   By a LOT!   And to make it an even sweeter victory..... everyone on my team surpassed their goals too.   It was an AWE$OME month [as we like to say]

For more Quick Takes, visit Jen.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Be a BETTER Version of Yourself This Year

We've already discussed my lack of enthusiasm for structured resolutions at certain times of the year.  Now that the first month of 2014 is wrapping up, I wonder how the traditionalists are doing with their life changes.    Did they stick to their diet?   Are they still going to the gym regularly?   Are they reading more books?    I'm not judging; just curious.

The good news is they still have eleven months to work on themselves, but the bad news is I often times think people lose steam because they set crazy, unrealistic goals.    I'm all for going big, but don't scare yourself off before you try   Much better to break them into smaller chunks, or simply set goals that are more fun to achieve.

May I present the best list of 'resolutions' I have seen so far.    Jess has the right idea, if you ask me.   Her blog is wonderful and you should definitely read it.   But if you don't want to click over, I have include her list here

The following are 10 simple things you can do to become a better, happier version of yourself in 2014- based on both personal experience and things I’ve learned along the way. 
According to a L’Oreal survey, 75% of women believe that lipstick makes them feel more confident. That rings true for me as well. You can bet that I’m wearing a shade of red lipstick when I walk into a big presentation or client meeting. When I’m in a bad mood or feeling under the weather, MAC lipstick in Lady Danger is the first thing out of my bag. A girl can’t conquer the world without her lipstick.
Pay attention to this one.  It will make a world of difference in your life. In her book The Happiness Project, writer Gretchen Rubin encourages her readers to act the way they want to feel. Kind of a different version of “fake it ‘til you make it,” but guess what? It works. When you walk into the office on Tuesday morning and have that “Oh my God, its only Tuesday” feeling, put a smile on your face. Maybe you start humming your favorite song. Act excited about that new project someone handed to you. Pretend like it’s Friday. Before you know it, you won’t be miserable anymore.
We all lose track of time in our lives. Old friendships fall by the wayside. That’s okay, it happens to all of us. Chances are, you’ve forgotten how much fun you used to have with your old college roommate, or neighbor from childhood. So stop making excuses, call them up and meet them for drinks, coffee, or Skype   
Know what always makes me feel good? Making other people feel good. It’s part of being human. It’s why we spend so much time picking out the perfect Christmas present or birthday card. We want to make others feel good. Stop waiting for an occasion to do so. Make a point to over compliment people every day. 
Scientific evidence tells us that hugs lasting 20 seconds are more are proven to increase levels of oxytocin (a happy hormone.) Additionally, women in particular experience greater reductions in blood pressure than men after their hugs, says one article published on BBC.  
Arguing sucks. Often times, both people are usually left feeling worse than they did before the confrontation if not handled correctly. I think we all argue a lot more than we need to. In 2014, let’s try to pick our battles. Let your Mom’s nagging go. Forget that your roommate forgot to lock the door on her way out. Cut people some slack and address only the things that really matter. 
This is coming from someone who turns her room into a tornado every time she gets dressed to go out. Lack of organization causes stress. Think of how serene you feel walking in the door after you’ve done your spring cleaning, or after your cleaning lady comes? Commit to spending just 5 minutes per day tidying things up, and you’ll feel a lot better when you wake up to a clean house each morning. 
This doesn’t have to be something earth-shattering. Pick up a book you would never normally read. Go to Chinatown. Sign up for Photoshop 101 on 12 “new” things a year is not a hard thing to do but it will make you feel much more accomplished. 
This one might seem a little strange at first. After all, our mothers always told us to never talk to strangers. I don’t know about you, but I’m always the most touched when I get a compliment from someone I don’t know, or experience a random act of kindness from a complete stranger. I get a lot out of hearing someone else’s story for the first time. In 2014, I want to talk to more strangers. 
Everyone wants to be more like that friend who always has a sweet card in her back pocket when you need encouragement. Who never forgets to send a note for a birthday. Maybe she’s the family member who always gets her Thank You notes out on time. I am so far from that right now it’s not even funny. In 2014, I’m going to stock up on greeting cards, so I never have an excuse. 
Ideally I will post a monthly [or quarterly] progress report of how I am personally measuring up.   My initial reaction is I do some of these! and  I used to do some of these but stopped.   How did I fall off the bandwagon?

Bottom line,  it seems like a great way to make small changes that make you a better person, but in small ways make the world better too.   I have go to now - I haven't put my lipstick on yet today!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mantra for the Year?

I saw this quote featured on Pinterest this week and it struck a chord.    I like to think that we all try to enjoy life and be happy, but it's not a 24/7 thing for me yet.   Maybe it's something to work for in 2014.   

It's a basic thought and honestly, I don't think it takes much to get there.    Even though I don't usually make resolutions, having these ideas floating around that are simple and easy to understand is something we can all get behind.   What's your definition of happy?    Let's all try to enjoy and be happy more days than we are not.

Friday, January 24, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Week ending January 24

Last week we took a drive past the property and were pleased to see vertical steel beams!   This indicates that walls will be up - eventually - and those are rather important for a building.    I'm standing there in what will be the drive-thru to orient ourselves and to keep the scale in perspective.   I'm 5'9 so those are some tall beams.

Michael is doing additional training locally.   Mandatory franchisee training ended lsat month but he wants to keep his skills sharp for when those beams turn into walls turns into a restaurant.  His first day was Tuesday.   I have a connection to that shop owner's wife.  We went to the same church and her mom was my 3rd grade PSR teacher.  Small world!

We also HIRED OUR FIRST EMPLOYEE and it's someone I have known my whole life and love dearly and am related to!   Having her join this challenge is so exciting.  She's a pro and trustworthy and ideal in so many ways.   Her expertise cannot be measured, but we'll try by paying her a salary and providing her with a kick-ass work environment.   YAY

Movie Update
Philomena is VERY good.   Sad, haunting almost.   Worth the watch.  Bring tissues
Her is VERY weird.   Interesting concept, good acting, good production values, almost literary in some elements.   I just couldn't get behind the idea of an OS having emotions.   Both Michael and Mario enjoyed it more than me.   Not to say I hated it - it was just not my cup of tea.
Oz The Great and Powerful is worth the rent!  I went in with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised.   We needed an escape-type story after all the heady dramas we've been seeing!

It's still cold.   A second 'polar vortex' type snap is here.   Boo hiss.   I have contemplated wearing my Sugoi tights (aka Ninja Suit!) under my jeans while working here at home.  So far I have not pulled the trigger but I am tempted.   I did, however, decide to wear my thumb-loop running jacket today!

So... we are pumped to go to Florida next month.    Michael and I will be working to pack up the house but we can open the windows and with luck I can jog outside.   YAY!    We will also be playing as we celebrate Mom's 60th birthday, and thankfully Al will be able to join the whole fam-damily in the festivities thanks to Michael's expertise with airfare and a United voucher from September when our plane was broken.   Grrrr  - but at least it helped us get the family all in one spot!

I have been a FitBit fan for several years.    Well, my FitBit stopped syncing on January 1.   A rather ominous start to the new year for someone who never is without it.  I am happy to report that the FitBit customer service is absolutely amazing.   We did a bit of trouble shooting, diagnosed the issue, and they sent me a brand new device.   Seriously - amazing people to work with.   I'm still a little shocked I had any issue at all, but technology is not foolproof so at least they have a backup system.   Less than 4 days after the ultimate diagnosis, I have a new device in my house.   Amazing.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Taking it VERTICAL

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have vertical steel which means eventually these will be WALLS!

That's me standing where the drive-thru will be.   And the white stuff on the ground is SNOW!   Hoping that can go away soon enough so the builders can keep building this here restaurant and we can open in the spring.

Friday, January 17, 2014

7 Quick Takes: This Week's Summary

Grandma is home after surgery in December, a stint in rehab, and an unexpected hospital visit.   She is happy to be home, but it is challenging for her to accomplish basic tasks due to her age and being very weak.   The good news is that a lot of family is close by - including us now! - so hopefully that will help long term and keep her spirits up.

American Idol is officially on our TV right now.   It's been awhile.  While I don't anticipate watching every moment, I must say that I am loving HCJ.   Several years ago he was a mentor and bringing him back as a judge seems like an excellent move.   Well done, AI

Mother nature must have heard me last week.  By some miracle, I had a few hours on Sunday during which it was sunny but not snowing and not single digit temperatures so I was able to run outside.   Was it my favorite or best run of my life?  Not at all.   But it was the first non-treadmill run of 2014 so I consider it a success.

Tinseltown prevails.  We keep going to see movies in the theater [Frozen!  August: Osage County!] but we're also keeping up with the award circuits.  After devoting several hours of my life to the Golden Globes, I made a point to check the Oscar nods yesterday and consequently have a decent list of "Movies I should see before the Oscars"    I have always wanted to see all the best picture nominations before the show.   This year I have seen a couple already and there are one or two that I have no interest in seeing, but I anticipate being able to make a dent.   This excites me because I am a nerd living in a cold climate.   I am able to stay up with pop culture and remain entertained and CREATE AND CROSS OFF A LIST.   #Win

Music is powerful, folks.   It's amazing how spending $15 on three MP3 Greatest Hits albums [gotta love Amazon's $5 collection] can make a difference.   It has pepped up my work and my workouts this week.  And at this price I feel like I should plan on updating more regularly!

Some days I like my job more than others.   I have been on an upswing for awhile and it's quite lovely. I'm not necessarily waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I am enjoying this current state!   It's been busy and at times a little more than what is comfortably busy but overall, at the end of each day, I feel satisfied.  I feel lucky to be able to say that.

This time of year it's all about makeovers and chances and resolutions and I love it!   But I am feeling a bit on the outside looking in.   We're not in a permanent spot so there is no room to makeover or adjust.  The closets and storage areas are not full of my stuff so I really don't have any business going in there purging and rearranging.   And the idea of buying new clothes when I work from home and will also have to move to a new place in a few months is also not appealing to me.   I am telling myself that I can save up and do even more next year :-)   And in the meantime I'll enjoy the dollars remaining in the bank.

Remember, for more Quick Takes, check out Jen.

Friday, January 10, 2014

7 Quick Takes

I am trying something new here in 2014.   One of my favorite bloggers, Kathryn, writes what she calls 7 Quick Takes that serve as a weekly wrap-up.  I like it!   It's like a cliffs notes version of the week and seems like a saving grace for people who may continue to slack off on posting   Maybe I can even keep it going THROUGHOUT the week and be ready to schedule it for Friday.   Hey a girl can dream.


Our Florida house sold!   This is good news because it means we get some cash and the money is not sunk into a house in which we are no longer living.    It is a cute house, we enjoyed living in it, but we have moved on - no pun intended - and will look to settle in a new place in the coming months.   (We're living in my parents house while they're south for the winter - it's working well except for the leak!  See #3)


It was cold.   I mean, obviously, we all know that.   But after arriving back in Ohio a few weeks ago after several years in Florida, it was kind of a mean trick.  The inside thermostat shows the outside temperature as -12 degrees F.  In Celsius it's even worse (-24).   This was captured for posterity and perspective the next time someone complains about being cold when it's, you know, 30 degrees.   Perspective, people!

The cause caused only minimal damage so far in that it caused condensation to freeze in the bathroom fan.   What do you do when this happens?   Call Dad!   Luckily my dad can diagnose just about anything so after a description of the situation, me crawling up on the bathroom counter to peer into the intake pipe, and a lot of fan-running, we SEEM to have turned a corner.   The bad news?   The water that did leak collected on the backsplash of the counter and has caused it warp like nobody's business.   Do I see the first home repair of 2014?

For the first time in I can't remember when, we are in town for a big-family birthday party!   This time it's Aubri, my cousin's daughter, turning 2.   The pink wrapping paper has already made an appearance.   Photos of joy to come next week

I miss running.   We joined the local metroparks / gym last Saturday and they have the usual equipment and also classes, a pool, etc.  But what I really want to do is just run outside.  I have the gear, but the sidewalks are just not clear enough.   I fall in good weather, remember?  I can only imagine what sheets of ice will do to me.   I am thankful for the indoor equipment, but I am looking forward to 'warming up' this weekend that should melt the snow and ice on the paths and allow me a few outside miles and frozen snot.   Sorry - gross - but it's the little things!

TRAVEL PLANS have started.   Barely.  But they have!  If you read my year in review, you will see that for the 2nd year in a row I have not left the country.   I love our country but I also love exploring new places.  My BFF approached me about dusting off our passports in 2014 and I am excited!    We do not know where or when, but it has been fun to throw out ideas


Cold weather results in northern residents enjoying a lot of inside activities.   I know, I know.  Thank you captain obvious.  We watched four movies in the span of less than three days, which is a huge deal for me.   I really don't like sitting still that long and most titles are not compelling enough for me to sit and watch them instead of doing other things.   But when it's January I definitely change my tune.  Michael and I even combined home viewing with a trip to the theater despite frigid temperatures.  What did we see, you ask?  Man of Steel, The Heat, Despicable Me 2, and American Hustle.   Man of Steel was disappointing and confusing to watch, but two thumbs up on the remaining titles.

When you're sick of sitting on your butt watching movies, you can also take the more 'active' route [at least for your mind] and play games.  It's a good thing that board games make me smile.   My family always played games when I was younger.  We did not have a set game night, but when one does not have cable tv and the winters are long, you do what you can.   Over the years, our collection has dwindled, but a few favorites still remain on the shelf in the 'playroom' and they usually make an appearance at Christmas when we're all together at home.  Now that Michael and I are living here, the games keep coming.   Wednesday it was Sorry!   Remember Sorry! ?   It's a classic - from the 1950s originally, who knew- and the first round was quick but the second took us almost an hour.    We are dorks, but we had a lot of fun.  For the record, it is 2-0 Jules.    I'm competitive, I keep track.

Kathryn's idea comes from Jen - check it out!

Friday, January 3, 2014

2013 Year in Review

I have started a bit of a tradition with this post, and traditionally enjoy the retrospective.   The thing is, I feel like I have blogged less and less over the years and therefore forget what I have done!   Boo hiss.   Maybe 2014 is the year to turn that around.

1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before?
Saw Indians spring training in ARIZONA-  So fun
Ran - and finished! - two half marathons!    They were challenging and fun.   I'll be doing more of this in 2014
Rode Harry Potter Forbidden Journey with Hannah
Rode around in a little boat in Bay Lake
Got an iPhone [better late than never?]
Flew into tiny NY (Ithaca & Westchester) airports - I actually liked it
Walked across the Brooklyn Bridge [heck, went to Brooklyn at all!]
Bought skinny jeans GOD HELP ME
Flew on an airplane with a cat [he did beautifully I must say]

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
As always, I don't really make resolutions.    I blame impatience.  I tend to make a change whenever the spirit moves me.  You know, hair cut, rearrange the furniture, enter in a race, etc.  

That said, I'm going to set a few goals here to compare in a year (you may see this later in the list too!)

1) Read consistently [not necessarily MORE, but keep the books going]
2) Blog more- at least weekly, maybe even a month of daily posts, like Leah did in November.
3) Take and share more photos.   The iPhone should allow me to do this with relative ease
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! Cousin Anthony's wife, Nikole, had Mason on November 20

A few high school and college friends had babies too, and so did Holly, one of my favorite bloggers.  She's not close to me but I love her writing!   Was 2013 the year of the baby?
4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, thankfully.  
5. What countries did you visit?
Zero!  I was stateside once again.   Hoping I can jet off somewhere in 2014.   Suggestions?

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
As always, for the Indians to win the World Series!  Last year they had a decent playoff run, so I am really hoping there is momentum for this year.  Fingers crossed!

An open, functioning, successful restaurant franchise.    This is taking forever!
7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
February 24 - Princess Half!

May 8 - my birthday blast
November 2 - Marissa got married!  
November 9 - Wine and Dine Half!
December 13 - flight with Oliver that was so much better than I thought he would be
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Shaving more than 10 minutes off my 1/2 marathon time from February to November was pretty kick-ass.   I'm still not as fast as I want to be, but it's awesome to see those times go down.   Apologies for sounding like a broken record - I run a lot. 
9. What was your biggest failure?
Oh this is depressing isn't it.  I try to learn from my failures and not necessarily RANK them.  That said…. I do have an answer ;)

Posting photos to the photo site in 2013.    I posted just one album and it was of the Princess race back in February.  It's been almost 12 months since I posted!   Yikes.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yes.  Another running injury, this time worse than the elbow.  I was jogging at sunrise, triped and fell on my face, scraped my lip and leg, bashed back my front teeth and chipped one of them.  It was a disaster.   I got the teeth bonded, my scrapes healed and I kept running.  All is well.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Probably race registrations and running shoes.   And continual vet visits for Oliver were good because he's still around!

12. Where did most of your money go?
The vet!  Also dining establishments in central Florida and a lot went to the restaurant franchise which, again, I hope to talk more about soon!

13. What did you get really excited about?
My 30th birthday celebration and all the fun stuff that came with it

Al visiting us in Florida
Running my first distance races
14. What song will always remind you of 2013?
Blurred Lines.  Thank you Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

- happier or sadder? About the same
- thinner or fatter? Thinner!  Woot!!!  Two years in a row.   Let's go for a hat trick!
- richer or poorer? Poorer thanks to Ollie and the restaurant
16. What do you wish you'd done more of?  
In December 2012 I said swam and read a few more books.   I think those are both good targets for the coming year.   Now that we're in Ohio and my parents have a pool I would not be surprised if I swim more in 3 months than I did allllll year in Florida.

Now that I am in Ohio and it's darn cold out, I wish I had spent even more time outside in Florida.   Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of outdoor moments.  But you can't bottle them up and take them to January in Ohio.   Alas
17. What do you wish you'd done less of?
WILL I EVER LEARN!?    Last year I said comparing myself to others.  I still do this.  
I also should stop thinking about the future and what comes next at the expense of enjoying the present moment.   What can I say?  I am a planner at times.   So maybe 2014 should be the year of less planning on my part, and more delegating.  I like the sound of that.
18. How did you spend Christmas?
We were in Ohio, as usual, with our families, but this time we were not heading back to Ohio and were not living out of suitcases. Christmas Eve Mass, ML's lasagna with a few late arrivals this time around!  Michael's grandparents were in town as well, so that added to the family tally.
Christmas day we woke up at my parents' house [which I had not done since 2008!] and made breakfast together.   It was delish    The day included lots of gifts at both parents' houses as well as the Lasky bash, but Erica ONCE AGAIN had the flu and her presence was greatly missed.  It was ridiculous.
19. What was your favorite TV program?
Nashville!  Soapy and full of good music.  What more could you ask for?!
20. What was the best book you read?
Sadly my list from which to choose has shrunk over the last few years.  Perhaps a goal for 2014 should be to read more books.  Since I am totally OCD I keep a list of all the books I have ready over the year, and after taking a look, there were some good ones, so I guess I got a lot of bang for my buck.  If I have to choose just one, the BEST one was probably The Art of Fielding.
21. What was your greatest musical discovery?
My favorite may be all the a cappella groups I heard on The Sing Off in December.   Probably not a great discovery, but I liked it!   I also became an even bigger Justin Timberlake fan, which I did not honestly know was possible.
22. What was your favorite film of this year?
Recently saw Saving Mr Banks in the theater, which was quite enjoyable

On the Netflix front, I FINALLY saw Rocky.   I know, I know.   It's really good.
23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 30!  We celebrated over a several day stretch, including two dinners and a 5k.  May 8 included Disney fun and cake.
24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
World Series win for the Tribe
Overall, though, 2013 was good to me.   I was not necessarily immeasurably dissatisfied! 
25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
Consistent?  Needs improvement?  
Working from home allows me to pretty much do whatever I want in the fashion department.  I did wear a lot of baseball caps for video meetings!
If I ventured out of the house it was often to a theme park decked out in a tank top and shorts, or I was running in athletic gear.  
26. What kept you sane?
SAME AS LAST YEAR!  Many many cups of tea and many miles of running.   And probably some ice cream, too.
27. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Same as always: Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman. I mean, who else is there?  Actually I take that back.   I'd like to add a third.  Mr. Chris Pine.   Hellooooo Captain Kirk.
28. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
I am capable of conquering various challenges, and feel best when I am prepared for them.   This is not revelatory but was reaffirmed throughout the year.