A Few of My Favorite Things

It's been awhile (over two months!) and this list is somewhat long, so I'll just jump right in: I finally succumbed to the allure of Baublebar.  I've been on their email list for the longest time and decided to get a couple of cute little pieces during a sale recently.

I got the Parallel Bar Ring and the Mini Cone Stretch Bracelet in gold.  I've always liked that Stella and Dot Renegade bracelet, but thought it's was just a bit too much for my everyday wear.  This little cone bracelet has a similar but more understated effect, I think.

Can I like something before I've even used it?  I'm counting down the days until it's time to bring this tote to the beach!
I've been using an old straw tote for the last few years and it only has two shoulder straps.  My go-to everyday bags all have a cross body strap, so I was SUPER delighted to get this in a beach bag.  It's Baggu for West Elm and it's on SALE now for only $29.99!

Last month I joined This is My Fave, a sort of monthly secret Santa/pen pal group and we exchanged our favorite stationery!  I sent my favorite, which is anything that suits your fancy from Shutterfly.  I have a number of personalized notecard styles from Shutterfly, but I went with a set of these whimsical, all occasion, cards to send to my 'pen pal.' 

They always have great deals, and usually ones for 10 free cards when you pay for shipping.  Whenever I see this deal, I snatch it up and get some stationery.

Then I received these!

How amazing are these cards from Elum Designs??  I think I might actually frame one...  Next month is our favorite kitchen item - a utensil, cleaner, towel, anything!  

I suppose this is really one of the kids' favorite things, but I love it because ZOMG it makes them excited to get in the bath!  All hail the Matchbox Mission: Marine Rescue Shark Ship.
My son spied it on a trip to Fred Meyer before the holidays and put it on his Christmas list.  We weren't sure if he'd really use it in the tub, as it has wheels on the bottom so it can be played with on land as well as sea.  But it has taken up residence in the bathroom and is the perfect thing to lure BOTH kids into the tub!  It has all sorts of little hidey holes and secret escape hatches and such.  I would have loved this toy at their ages, too.  No fights about getting in the bath: the gift that keeps on giving.  If you're looking for a big gift for a boy or girl aged 3 to at least 8, I HIGHLY recommend it.

Speaking of the kids, we've had our fair share of illness around these parts this year.  I received the Braun No Touch+ thermometer as a Klout perk a few months ago and MAN, it is truly awesome.  We had a forehead thermometer already, but you had to do some elaborate swipe from the forehead to the temple and I was never sure if I was doing it right.  This one is suuuuper easy - you just aim at the center of the forehead and push the button.  It will tell you if you need to get closer and even lights up green/yellow/red depending upon the severity of the temperature. 
Not the most fun, but one of the best Klout perks EVER.

It has been such a long time since I've shared what I've been adding to my running playlist!  (And, to be clear, I most certainly own 1989 and listen to it REPEATEDLY in my spare time.  All You Had to Do Was Stay is kind of my favorite - it reminds me of Abba.)  So, here's a big 'workout' song dump to make up for lost time.  My absolute favorite right now is Outside by Calvin Harris with Ellie Goulding.  It's got the perfect buildup to awesome crescendos, syncopated beats, dramatic strings - I just LOVE it.  Also loving: 

Praise You by Fatboy Slim (goin' retro)
Reflections by MisterWives
Leaving You by Audien
Push Play by Zedd
Break the Rules by Charli XCX, remixed by Tiesto
Never Been in Love by Cobra Starship, featuring Icona Pop
Heroes by Alesso

Videos embedded below for immediate ear gratification, enjoy!

Praise You:
Leaving You:
Push Play:
Break the Rules:
Never Been in Love:


This Weeks Eats 2.22.15

Even though we don't get out to see as many movies as we used to, watching the Oscars is a tradition we keep.  For at least the last ten years we've made it a chili night.  Really, Sunday is always a good chili day.  We DVR the show (especially since the telecast starts at 5:30 PM on the West coast), and sit on the couch with our chili bowls after the kids go to bed.

Couch meals = best meals!  The Italian Pot Roast recipe from last week was definitely not a couch meal, but it was really tasty and we'd definitely make it again.  This week...
As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


Seattle Love 'em or Leave 'em Valentine's Day Dash Race Recap

This year's race was a far cry from the last time I did Love 'em or Leave 'em.  I'm SO pleased with how things went down, and it's just icing on the cake that it's such a fun Oiselle team tradition.

Sticking with tradition, I did day of race packet pickup and scored a nice parking spot close to the start.  I love that it's a Saturday race AND it starts at 9:30!  Easy peasy to head over a little early to get your bib and shirt.  I must say, the shirts were a much lighter material and softer this year, maybe because it's the 10th anniversary of the race?  I hope to be able to wear it a bit more for kicking around.

After dropping said shirt in my car, I did a short half mile warm up and then met up with teammates to chat and take group pictures, naturally.

Another thing that's pretty cool about this race is that it is full of FAST people.  I still lined up optimistically at the front end of the 8 minute mile group, just to be on the safe side.  Things get off to a quick and easy start with hardly any weaving.  Then it's pretty smooth sailing throughout the entire course.  It's also probably due to the fact that (unlike many Green Lake races) it's mostly run on the roads around the lake with just a short stint on the running path (that you need to share with the many other folks enjoying the park).

off to a good start - thanks for the photo Irwin!

About a half a mile in, I looked down at my Garmin and felt like 'huh, this isn't too bad' while doing just over an 8 minute mile.  'Juuuuuuuust keep it up' was my mantra.  Which we all know is easier said than done in a 5K.  As usual, that second mile was tough.  I deliberated whether to save some energy for the last mile or to keep pushing it.  I kept pushing it, but I was getting fatigued and just kept telling myself to get to that 'Tunnel of Love' at the end where there's a perfect little downhill to kick it towards the finish.  And I suppose that worked because I kept roughly the same pace for mile three as mile two.

The final chip time of 25:35 gave me a renewed sense of trust in my Garmin.  For the first time in awhile, I actually started it without issue and remembered to stop it on time.  As for goals, I easily met my 'B' goal of sub 26 and was only 6 seconds away from my 'A' goal/PR.  I am very pleased!  My PR race at Fall City Days was a straight out and back, so I think that I'm pretty much back to the level of speed I had THREE YEARS ago.  I might have to run it again and see how I'd do on the same course...

As per usual, the post race festivities seemed to be hoppin' - especially since they added a beer garden this year.  I picked up some KIND bars, some Zico coconut water and a sample of one of my favorite treats: Bark Thins.  There was also a flower truck on hand for all those last minute Valentine's Day shoppers, which was a cute addition.  Really, no matter what they do, this will always be a must-do race!

*Also, speaking of meeting goals, I'd really love it if you'd go on over and register for the Hot Chocolate 5K or 15K (LINK HERE) with the code: SEAHAT2 for a free tech hat.  Even if you've registered already, you can shoot Hot Chocolate a message (via the 'questions' tab on the website) and they'll add it on for you!


This Weeks Eats 2.15.15

Since Valentine's Day actually fell on a Saturday night, we decided to do something special and have appetizers with a favorite wine for dinner.  It's very rare that we do this outside of Christmas Eve, but was so fun and indulgent.

And beyond Salami Stacks, these Pastry Bites from Trader Joe's are a MUST HAVE for appetizer night:
The caramelized onion and feta combo are ahhhhhmazing.  I could eat a whole box.  Maybe I should for dinner one night...

And we pretend like we're adding something green and healthy to our meat and cheese dinner by eating these super tasty kale and spinach bites to the mix.

I always pick out a couple of cheeses and found this new to me package of Spanish cheeses - definitely a winner.

This week is slightly less exciting, yet still delicious!

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


Books I Read in January 2015

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters 

Waters' latest novel, The Paying Guests, is getting a lot of attention and the library hold was rather long.  So, I thought I'd try out one of her earlier novels that was highly praised by a friend of mine, and I wasn't disappointed.  This was a perfect rainy January book to immerse myself in: Dickensian London, plots within plots, and a wholly original love story.  

All the Light We Cannot See by by Anthony Doerr

I know already that this will be on my favorite books for the year.  The one word that keeps coming up in reviews to describe this book is lyrical.  And try as I might to think of another, I think it hits the nail on the head.  Despite it's poetic style, it's a super fast paced read, as it bounces in short chapters between the two main characters: Marie-Laure, a blind French girl in an occupied French town and Werner, a reluctant German soldier, as well as a few chapters from the evil Nazi officer von Rumpel who is trying to track down a treasure that may, or may not, be in Marie-Laure's keeping.  This book made me wish I was in school to write a paper about it, to dissect all the beautiful symbolism as well as the time period.  I spent a few weeks during the summer between my Sophomore and Junior year of high school exploring Brittany, the coast, and many of the cities mentioned in the book, including Saint Malo.  I really wish I had read this book beforehand!  


The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Yes, I was doing a bit of catch up on older novels I had been meaning to read.  I was wary of this one because I didn't want to cry my eyes out like Marley and Me.  Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the story being told from the perspective of the dog.  It could have gone horribly wrong, but it lent just the right amount of humor and also a simple honesty to a heart wrenching, but ultimately uplifting, story.  


Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls - book 1) by Maggie Stiefvater

Yeah, I couldn't get into this one.  The ebook was available while I was waiting for other newer holds, so I gave it a go.  This worked out swimmingly with The Art of Racing in the Rain.  Not so much with Shiver.  I've always wanted to read one of Steifvater's books, and maybe I should have gone with the Raven Boys trilogy instead.  This story just jumps right into the two main characters being obsessed with each other.  Even if they've been dancing around each other for years, I've only known them for a few pages.  It fell flat for me, as did the characters.


This Weeks Eats 2.8.15 (and some Pike Place food obsessions)

I happened to get a chance to meander Pike Place Market a few weeks ago and hit up my favorite places including the Daily Dozen doughnut stall and my favorite flavored oil ever from Sotto Voce.
And then I happened upon Ellenos Greek Yogurt for the first time.  
Remember when I thought Noosa was the most amazing discovery?  Well, I have now been ruined for all other yogurt, including Noosa.  Ellenos is so awesome, it's almost indescribable.  It's like a completely different product than Greek yogurt: thick, rich, creamy, not overly tangy or sweet...  Thankfully they have an outpost at our local Uwajimaya.  Since that day in the market, I have yet to go without this stuff in my fridge.  It looks as if they ship, so non-Seattleites can taste the goodness!  I'm partial to the plain Greek (honey) flavor, as well as the one with museli mixed in.

Lastly, this Taylor Farms salad mix is not from Pike Place, but it's super easy to find at my local Safeway.
I've tried several kale salad blends, but they have so many stems cut into the mix.  Blech.  This blend is awesome with nary a stem to be found.  Highly recommend!  

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


February Goals and January Recap

I usually feel like January goes by at a snails pace, due to the post holiday blahs and the winter weather.  But this January has been fantastic and went by SO fast!  A snow day is something I still hope for, but we had a rather dry and sunny month and I took advantage.
  • Decide on a plan for the Lake Sammamish Half and get to it!  I decided on the Higdon intermediate half plan and it's going well so far.  This is the first time in a while that I've done multiple double digit runs and good intervals before a half.  So we'll see...
  • Keep up the run streak, of course. Day 256 today
  • Reign in the alcohol and dessert consumption/get back to a normal routine.  Holiday weight is GONE.  Yes!
  • Change the batteries in all of the smoke detectors - exciting! and done.
  • Get out and run the trails, maybe try and hit up a new one. Ah, the weather afforded me the opportunity to hit up a favorite trail with my husband for the first time in YEARS.  
Rattlesnake Ledge
It was more of a hike up and jog down than a run.  So I did do a mile run after we got home - just to be on the safe side of the streak. Because I'm crazy.

February Goals
  • Get my baby girl registered for Kindergarten, wah! This is one of those write it down just so I can immediately cross it off my list - did it today and it was very weird, to say the least.
  • Valentine's Day card completion for both kids.  Now that baby girl is writing her name, we've gotta put our nose to the grindstone and sit her down to write up a bunch of cards for preschool, while also convincing the seven year old to get 'em done.
  • Get a haircut OMG.  So, I was thinking that I'd grow my hair out all nice and long for a change, just to see what it'd feel like to have long hair.  And... I just can't. I can't even deal with the work that goes into making it look decent.  I have to get out the flat iron even after blowing it dry and ain't nobody got time for that.  Constant ponytails are rather boring and headache inducing!
  • Run a smart 5K.  This will be the first time in two years that I'll be running the Valentine's Day Dash.  The last go round was at the height of my injured-ness, so I'm excited to see what I can accomplish.  My A goal would be to PR (sub 25:29), B goal to get it in under 26 minutes.  If all else fails, I can certainly count on this race to be a good time!
  • Hit my Hot Chocolate 15K/5K referral goal.  This is a long shot, this is a big goal, but I gotta put it out there and try!  If you are local and want to do me a solid - please, please, please feel free to share this link to the Twitterz, or Facebook, or anywhere.  I'm trying to exhaust ever single option in my quest here :)


Brooks Trailhead 10K/15K Race Discount Code!

Yep, another discount code to share!  When it rains, it pours apparently.  I'm super lucky to have a relationship with the Snohomish Running Company: they are working with Brooks on their inaugural Trailhead Run and asked me to help get the word out about the race.  Now that Brooks has opened up new offices and the Trailhead Store across the street from the Burke-Gilman Trail, what better way to celebrate than with a run?  

The start and finish of the race will take place at Gas Works Park, just a short walk from the Trailhead Store.  This race is the new incarnation of last year's Emerald City Run and before that, the Seattle's Best 15K.  Which I ran three years ago and can attest to the fact that it's a mostly flat course. (I'm excited to tackle that very short uphill/downhill portion again, now that I know what to expect!)
can't beat the view from the start/finish
If you're not sure about the half marathon distance, or want a nice little 9+ mile training run, a 15K is a great option.  And I love a good 10K, too.  Medals are awarded all finishers - 15K and 10K!  I am a HUGE fan of Brooks shoes, so a Brooks themed medal is very appealing.  Also appealing - a SATURDAY race.  Here are the deets:

Brooks Trailhead 10K & 15K (1K kids run): Saturday, May 30th 8AM
Where: Gasworks Park
Register HERE and use code: HALLBERG15 for 15% off (good thru May 1st!)

Disclosure: I was offered a race entry in exchange for getting the word out about the race; although it is sponsored, all opinions are my own.


This Weeks Eats 2.1.15

We are pretty proud of how our team played and are excited for the years to come.

But, oh man, we're still reeling.  I don't know what else to say, so I'll just get right to the food...

I forgot to check in on some new dishes we tried recently. The Thai Chicken Meatballs from Jo Cooks were super tasty, and we'll definitely make those again!  That same week, we tried roasted potatoes in the crock pot and a 'bang bang sauce' inspired salad and they were both just okay.  I think bang bang sauce is a bit rich for a salad, and the potatoes in the crockpot didn't really get crispy - they tasted like potatoes that you cook along with a pot roast, but there was no pot roast!  Going with what we know this week...
As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!