Friday, May 31, 2013

Meals, Miles, Books and Looks of May

Wow, how is it May 31st and I am done with student teaching, my master's degree and am looking for a job?? Time freakin' flies.

I always notice awesome recap posts from a lot of my favorite bloggers, but for some reason the beginning and ending of months always seem so busy for me, and blogging is on the backburner. Not today!

I'm subbing at a middle school, and the end of the year is c-r-a-z-y. I found myself praying that they would be watching a movie as I drove in today. Instead of a movie, I got the next best thing. They're playing with ipads! I will take it.

Plus, it's a half day, so I'm off at 11:30. This means I can meet my dear friend, Lesli for lunch since she is in town today!

Anyway, on to my recap. I'm going to do this recap Lisa style and reflect on meals, miles, books and looks of May.

Last night was our May Books n' Bars meeting and we met at a new(ish) restaurant downtown called Gramercy Tap. Unfortunately, I did not get a photo of my meal... I was positively starving when I got there right after a run with See-Us Run Des Moines, so I was not very conscious of health food when I ordered. I got the Gramercy burger, which had blue cheese and bacon, with a side of fries. Not the most elegant meal, but it sure was tasty!

Other memorable meals this month included a delicious brunch (after a beautiful wedding) at Americana, and cooking at home a couple times with Bill - including one amazingly delicious grill out. The first of the season!

(Our eyes were a tad bigger than our stomachs when we shopped for this meal... we've got asparagus, corn on the cob, bacon wrapped sirloins, stuff peppers and mushrooms. Omg, this was so good.)

This month I have logged 70 miles, and I am pretty pleased with that! I wish I had a little more under my belt, but I haven't been tracking my miles as closely as I did last year. I would say I'm doing the bare minimum in preparation for Dam to Dam (which is tomorrow! Eek!) but, I am confident I will pull off a PR. I have a few goals for myself, but I honestly am keeping them to myself... when I recap my race next week I am sure I will clue you all in on what they are!
(after Dam to Dam last year. I cannot wait to see what the race holds for me tomorrow!)

I am so thankful I have kept up with reading this spring. Reading really keeps me calm and centered. It's my "me" time and I am not willing to give it up!
Here is what I read, with a link to my Goodreads review:
  • Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Fowler - I really enjoyed learning more about Zelda Fitzgerald. This book will make you not really like F. Scott Fitzgerald though - I think that's pretty common though from all biographies of this couple.
  • Slammed by Colleen Hoover - Love, love, loved this book! Definitely recommend this book to almost anyone, but especially fans of John Green
  • Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham - this book was just "ehhhh" for me. 
  • Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover - the 2nd book in the Slammed trilogy. This book wasn't as good as Slammed, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it!
  • The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult - I literally just finished this book, and haven't even written my review on Goodreads. But, OMG. It was fantastic. I loved it. I don't know why I keep putting myself through the sadness of books profiling the Holocaust, but I do. This was such a memorable story and I absolutely recommend it.


I didn't take too many OOTD's for the month of May, but I did have a few memorable looks including graduation, my best friend's wedding and a few teacher looks!

 (after my graduation ceremony with my boyfriend, Bill)

 (Such a beautiful, surprise wedding!)

 (I finally succumbed to the leggings under dresses look. Leggings are so necessary in the classroom!)

(The photo from my teaching portfolio - so teacher-ish! Ha!)

How was your month??

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Another great running week!

Last week was an okay running week for me and this week is race week! Dam to Dam is Saturday and I am excited to run this "dam" race!

For those of you that are new to ALPITC, I ran Dam to Dam (20k) for the first time last year and I absolutely loved it. Since then I have definitely been bitten by the running bug, and signing up for races really keeps my body moving!

Here's my workout recaps from last week:

Sunday - Quick 3 mile morning run before all the festivities of the day. I knew a run would energize my day and get me through the wedding, brunch, graduation and dinner with my family!

Monday - Practice with SRDM. We did two laps around Roosevelt (about 2 miles) and then strength training. I was SORE for days... Note to self: quick slacking on strength training.

Tuesday - Active rest. This was an active rest day because I spent 30 minutes walking Zeke and then I spent 40 minutes on a walk with a client (who is young and can walk at a moderate speed)

Wednesday - 10 mile long run. Most of this run was in the rain, and I actually enjoyed it so much! However, I did have an old man shaking his head at me when he offered me a ride and I declined. Seriously, it's 2013. The offer is nice, but... no, thank you.

Thursday - Practice with SRDM. 3 mile run - I forgot my phone so I had to estimate on the time... This run was about 30 minutes long

Friday-  Rest day. (FULL rest day) (besides dog walking)

Saturday - I was supposed to run 5 miles with SRDM for their long run day (they're training for the marathon in October) but it got rained out... At 7am Saturday morning it started pouring down rain and lightning... Back to bed, I went! Unfortunately, I did not do much later that day besides dog walking. :-/

As always you can find my runs and walks on Runkeeper and if you're interested in joining Gympact and get paid for your works, use my referral code "frontAmber" to get $5 automatically!

How was your week of training? Anyone local running Dam to Dam this weekend??

Friday, May 24, 2013

Book Club Friday

Hellooooo, Friday! TGIF, riiiight? This week has been a kind of long week. I am back into subbing full time and, as any teacher will tell you, the end of the year is the WORST. The kids are just restless and done. The end is in sight and they are Checked. Out. It took me a couple days to just finally give in, and decide not to fight this battle with them.

So, I am glad it's a weekend, and a holiday weekend, too!

Today I am participating in Heather's Book Club Friday for the first time in what feels like ages. I am reviewing Slammed and Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover. Molly sent me Slammed in a book swap quite a long time ago and it has been taunting me ever since. I am so thankful I finally picked it up, because it was SO good!

Almost immediately after finishing Slammed I went to my Netgalley account because I was pretty sure I had a copy of Point of Retreat (the sequel) for review. Huzzah! I did, which I devoured in less than 24 hours.

Here is the synopsis of Slammed from its Goodreads page:

Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother. Outwardly, she appears resilient and tenacious, but inwardly, she's losing hope.

Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection, leaving Layken with a renewed sense of hope.

Not long after an intense, heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart.

Colleen Hoover's writing really reminded me of John Green. I noticed that from that start and I knew immediately that I would end up devouring everything she has written. There were a few things that I found unrealistic, but this is young adult fiction. I quickly reminded myself that this is a story to get lost in and I promptly got over it. Slammed is full of quotes that are just amazingly rich and make you stop reading to think about it or read the quote over, and over, and over... 

Here are a few I loved: 

“Question everything. Your love, your religion, your passion. If you don't have questions, you'll never find answers.” 

“Don't take life too seriously. Punch it in the face when it needs a good hit. Laugh at it.”  

“Imperfections define perfection” 

“Respect the hand that I was dealt. And to be grateful I was even dealt a hand.” 

Point of Retreat was also pretty good. I won't say it was as good as Slammed, but I definitely enjoyed it and read it very quickly. There is a third book in the series called This Girl. For some reason none of my local libraries have it, so I am probably going to have to buy it. Darn.... 

 If you are a fan of John Green, I definitely recommend this series! 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Run, run, run!

Yesterday I ran my last long run before Dam to Dam. I was a little nervous because all of my long runs during this training season were not going well at all. Last week I went out to do my 10 mile long run and by mile 6 pain was shooting up and down my back from my left shoulder. I was determined to finish the run though.

2 1/2 hours later I was hobbling to my car...

I'm still not sure what the deal was, but I foam rolled the heck out of my body, iced my shoulder and back and tried to do lots of stretches throughout the week to take care of my muscles.

What is suspicious is a few weeks ago I was at one of the women's expo things where there are vendors set up everywhere and we stopped at a couple chiropractor stands. One was offering free massages, seeing as I have never had a professional massage, I accepted.

Yep, I have never had a massage. I know I am probably missing out, but I don't think you understand how ticklish I am. Bill can barely touch me without me jumping practically out of my skin. Obviously I get used to after a minute or two, but I am ridiculously ticklish. Pedicures are practically painful for me! Anyway, I got a quick massage from this chiropractor (and I controlled my jumpiness) and when she got to my left shoulder she goes, "oh!"

Ummmm. What?

She said she would talk to me after. Great.

Afterwards she said that I need to be adjusted, specifically in the left shoulder area. Fast forward two weeks later and I am suffering from pain in that shoulder. Coincidence? I'm not sure.

Well, yesterday the pain was okay, and it didn't bother me too much. Thank goodness. Last week though? Oy.

I needed that good run yesterday. I am so thankful it went well. I am feeling even more confident for Dam to Dam on June 1, and I know I will have a huge PR. Last year it took me 2:50 to do 12.4 miles and I hit a major wall at mile 9 and pretty much walked the rest of the way. This year my goals are to run as much as I can, finish with a smile, and hopefully that smile happens around 2:30... :)

Have you ever had a massage and/or been to a chiropractor for an adjustment? Do you believe in chiropractors and/or visit them regularly?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Weekly fitness recap

Awhile back I promised a running/fitness update, so here it is! I recently hit 100 workouts this year and so far through Gympact, I have made $32.43. Not exactly rolling in the dough, but hey, I got paid that just for working out, which I was going to do anyway! Why not?

Anyway, on to the update.

Throughout student teaching I have had some highs and lows with fitness. During my first placement I did awesome. The building I was in was full of young teachers that made fitness a priority (not that my second placement didn't - I'll get to that) and there was a para educator there that was a fitness instructor at the YMCA. She organized a group fitness class every Wednesday in the building and any teacher was welcome to join. I jumped on this, and so did my mentor teacher. It was such a great bonding experience with the other teachers to run through the halls and do circuits together. I loved it!

During my second placement Dam to Dam training began. Luckily, this school was very close to my favorite place to run, Grey's Lake in Des Moines. It's a 2 mile loop around the lake with connecting trails that lead out into Des Moines or into the downtown area. I love it! I spent many afternoons after school trying to running around that lake.

Then, my good friend Emily suggested me as a mentor for See Us Run Des Moines, a local running group that mentors high school students for the Des Moines IMT Marathon in October. I thought this was just the boost I needed, but I was not planning on running a marathon this year (or maybe ever!). I decided to still go and see if I could still mentor but run the half as I had planned on. So, now that student teaching is over, I am running with SRDM 2-3 days a week and I will hopefully be able to mentor students either as a volunteer or actual mentor. We'll see!

Something that really fuels my running and fitness in general is social networking. I use the app Runkeeper to keep track of my runs and the site is linked to Facebook and Twitter. If I choose, I can post my runs on there for all my friends and followers to see. Friends on Runkeeper can already see it no matter what it is. Knowing that this run is going to be seen by others, is motivating for me... it is a little shallow (maybe?) but it works for me. Have you ever seen those signs along race courses that say, "Don't stop now, someone is watching?" It's kind of like that!

Another motivator is this here blog. I like when other bloggers, such as Amber or Chandra, recap their weeks and what they did. So, I think every Monday or Tuesday I am going to recap each day and what I did to benefit my fitness level. Here is last week:

Sunday: Rest, driving home from Spencer, IA

Monday: Rest again (oops)

Tuesday: Long run, 9.25 hard miles. I planned to take this run slow, and I took "slow" to a whole new level. This run was the hardest run I have ever done. I ended up with pain in my shoulder (???) and was practically hunched over and limping by the time I left. When I got home I foam rolled like crazy and hopefully this week my long run goes much much better.

Wednesday: 2 mile walk with a client

Thursday: 2.5 mile morning run

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 4 mile "long" run with SRDM. This was my first Saturday workout with the group, and I *almost* didn't go. I am SO glad I did. We ran from Roosevelt down to the Ashworth Trail (which is gorgeous and feels like you're in a forest). The route was hilly and probably just what I needed. I left feeling fantastic and so glad I went!

Wow, writing all of that out like that was a little surprising. I ran a total of 16 miles. I felt like I did more than that! This goes to show how beneficial it will be to recap here what my training has looked like. Although I write things down in my planner and Runkeeper and Gympact have a record as well, nothing can replace reflecting on the week later.

I am looking forward to recapping my workouts each week!

How do you keep track? What are you training for these days?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

13 little things

I am sure there are not very many new readers here, but if there are, welcome! I am so glad you stopped by.

I saw this cute little 13 question meme on Jenn's blog and I thought was a perfect way to dive back into blogging. Meme's are quicky, easy and a great way for reader to get acquainted (or reacquainted!) with you.

13 Personal Questions:

1.  What do you order at Starbucks?
I am super boring... I get plain coffee and doctor it up myself, or I will get an iced coffee with a little Splenda and milk. I hate spending money on overpriced drinks, so I rarely buy coffee at Starbucks. Sorry, Starby's!

2. What is one thing in your closet that you cannot live without?
Dresses! It is ridiculous the number of dresses I have! I just feel so comfortable and feminine in them, I could not live without them, especially in the summer.

 (One of my favorite sweater dresses! I was trying to find a good picture of one of the many sundresses I own, but I got lazy)

3.  What's one thing most people don't know about you?
Hmm... I think most people don't know that I started out (13 years ago. Oy) in journalism. In high school I loved working for the newspaper and was features editor my junior and senior year. In college I wrote for the newspaper and began a major in journalism, and just... got sick of it, I guess. I switched to fashion and figured I could always try to combine the two later. That never happened. I still love to write though, hence this here blog!
(One day when I was subbing in my high school, I went through the old school newspapers. I found a feature I did on the treasures hidden away in the 100+ year old school's archives)

4.  What is one thing you want to do before you die?
Be a mother.
(Me with my good friend's newborn baby back in October)

5.  What's one food you cannot live without?
Cheese. I could not be a vegan. Ever. I could give up meat, but cheese? Never.

6.  What is one quote you live your life by?
Oh, there are so many! Here's a few that stand out... 
"Fake it till you make it."
"Whatever you are, be a good one."
"You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose."

7.  What do you like and dislike about the (You Tube) Community?
I'm going to follow Jenn's lead and talk about the blogging community. I love all of the amazing people I have met through blogging and some have turned in close friends that I am so blessed to have in my life! I dislike how blogging has become a way to make money, get free stuff, etc. Not that I do not enjoy those perks, I just miss the way it was before. The bloggers that do not care about the monetary value in blogging are out there, but they are much fewer and farther between.

8.  What's your #1 song on your iPhone/iPod?
I don't use iTunes... I use Spotify or Pandora, and my music tastes change daily with my mood! These days I have been in a classic rock or oldies phase. When running I love to listen to the DJ Girltalk, so they're probably the most played!

9.  What kind of style would you describe yourself as having?
Classic pieces that will last years. As I have gotten older I have noticed that I do not buy into trendy items that will not be in style the next year. I get all of my clothing pretty much between Kohl's, Gap, and Old Navy. I wear a lot of dresses, skirts, leggings and tunics, and cardigans with a cute tank underneath.

10.  Favorite number?
9 was my soccer number in high school, so I'll go with that one!
11.  Two hobbies?
Running and reading
 (Lisa and I after she ran the full Des Moines Marathon and I ran the Half Marathon last October)

12.  Two Pet Peeves?
Snobby people - why can't you just be nice and smile?! People that leave their shopping carts out anywhere in the parking lot - just take it back!

13.  Guilty pleasure?
Fountain diet coke every once in awhile (okay, maybe every other day...). Either way, I have cut pop (yes, it's called pop around here!) significantly from my diet, so now it is a treat every once in awhile.

What is your guilty pleasure? Or, what song has been your #1 lately? I need some new music. If it's running music, even better!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Moments Marked in Time Forever...

Good morning!

This weekend was one of those epic, whirlwind weekends where there is so much good going on, you can barely contain your excitement and might just burst!

On Saturday my best friend had her bachelorette party and then the next day was supposed to be her engagement party. Instead, she surprised everyone with the actual wedding! Then, later that day, I graduated from Drake University with my Master's in Teaching!

Us girls at her backyard bbq bachelorette party - it was so perfect and relaxed! 

You might be asking why my friend decided to get married three months early (and no, she's not pregnant!). The wedding planning was quickly growing into something she did not originally vision, so she took control and did it the way they originally wanted it to be. What she did was so admirable, and I love how she kept what was important, important and remained true to herself. It was such a beautiful day and it reminded me that things like a cake, flowers, pretty dresses and rings are nice, but they're not most important on the day you say vows to the person you spend the rest of your life with.

The happy couple sealing the deal!

All of us girls before the ceremony

 Someone took some pictures for me... :)

I am a girl, so of course I think about my wedding day, and this wedding got me really thinking about what my priorities would be when I plan my wedding.

Later that day, my boyfriend, parents and I headed to the Knapp Center at Drake University to watch me receive my Master's in Teacher. I was not sure I wanted to sit through the ceremony and walk, but I am really glad I did. It is such a relief to be done and feels so good to have worked so hard. I have met almost all of my goals (including that coveted 4.0 grade point average!) and am so proud of myself!

 Just before walking across the stage!

Couldn't have done it without the love and support of my amazing parents.

Bill and I, after the ceremony

Hopefully now that school is done and all I have going on is subbing, working at the agency and job searching, I will find my blogging mojo again and be back regularly! We'll see. Only time will tell. 

How was your weekend? Tell me what you did or something that you are really looking forward to happening soon!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Looking Forward: Books Edition

Hi! It has been ages. I know. March 25th, to be exact. Crazy times. I'll be back though, don't you worry.

I have exactly three days of student teaching left and I will receive my Master's degree on the 19th. It is all so surreal! I am so grateful that I have had this opportunity, but I will save that kind of gushing for another day.

Yesterday I went on a massive book holding spree at the three public libraries I frequent (don't judge me) and today on Twitter, Lisa suggested I blog about what books I am looking forward to reading over the next few months. I thought that was a great idea and I found myself with some extra time today (a rarity), so, here I am!

Now, I must admit, I am extremely lucky with the public libraries in Des Moines. Between DSM and West DSM (two separate cities right next to each other) there are lots of different libraries I can use. So, I do.
I pretty much have them figured out and I stalk Amazon author pages to figure out release dates and I put all the books on hold. Works like a charm (and saves me a ton of dough. I'm a poor college student. Soon to be a poor teacher).  If I catch them in time, I'm usually pretty close to being one of the first people to check out the book. Takes organization, but it's worth it for me.

So, without further ado.. here is what I have on hold currently:

1. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham
  •  I've loved Lauren Graham since Gilmore Girls, and I adore Parenthood, so of course I want to read her book!
2. Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld
  • Ahhh! I have been waiting for something from this author for YEARS now! American Wife is my FAVORITE book and I really liked Prep, so I cannot wait to get this one when it comes out this summer.
3. World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength and the Power of Family by Josh Harnagarne
  • I am a big fan of the Book Page publication that I pick up at my local library (one of them, ha) and I get lots of great recommendations from it. In this month's issue there is an ad for this book and I was immediately drawn to it. I loved books about books, so this is right up my alley. I believe it is already out, I'm just waiting for it at the library. 
4. The Best of Us by Sarah Pekkanen
  • Sarah hooked me with her first novel, The Opposite of Me a few years ago and I will read anything she produces! Her books are great summer reads!
5. Waiting To Be Heard by Amanda Knox
  • This is a no-brainer. Amanda, I want to hear what you have to say!
6. Always Watching by Chevy Stevens
  • I really really liked Still Missing, and I liked Never Knowing. I'll probably always pick up Chevy's books as well. They're great mysteries that keep you turning the pages!
7. The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks
  • I haven't even read the Sparks' release last year. In fact, I bought it and it has been sitting on my desk since then. Oops. I still reserved this one though. It does not come out until September, so perhaps I will get to the 2012 release this summer. 
8. Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand
  • I've read a few of Elin's books and have loved each of them. These are perfect for the summer because they're always based on Nantucket or Cape Cod. Each of her books make me itch to visit one (or both!) of those places!
9. Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella
  • I think I have outgrown Sophie Kinsella, but I just can't give her up completely. I didn't really care for her book last year, but maybe this one will be better. I didn't get it reserved early enough at the library to get a copy soon, so I think it'll be awhile before I get my hands on this. 
10. Looking For Me by Beth Hoffman
  • Another author that I have been anxiously waiting for to release something new! I adored Saving CeCe Honeycutt and cannot wait to read her newest book! 
11. Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns by Lauren Weisberger
12. This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
  • I have heard this is a total cheesefest, but I do not care. The title and the cover sucked me in. I'm a sucker for cheesy YA romances!
This should keep me busy this summer!! I am not completely sure what I am doing this summer (besides reading, ha!). I might be nannying. I might be just working at the agency (God, help me). It's kind of up in the air.

I'm still looking for a teaching job. And trying to be patient.

The patience is waning.

I know that many other people across the country have been looking for much longer than me, so I am for sure keeping that in perspective, but I am so nervous that I won't have a job. Luckily, I can always sub, but I am just ready to move on to more responsibility.

Anyway. That is all boring talk. I'll be sure to clue you all in when I get a job offer! :)

To conclude this somewhat random conclusion (lol) tell me, what are you looking forward to reading? What are you reading now?

Hope you're doing well!