Quarterly Check In on the Yearly Goals

As I was realizing that we are through the first quarter of the year (!) I had a vague memory of stating that I'd probably check in on my 2016 goals every quarter. And I must admit, I hadn't even glanced at them since I wrote them. I did have a few in the back of my mind, but there were a few surprises on there that I'm not doing too shabby in checking off the list. Maybe I'll add a few more bullets...

2016 Goals
End the run streak when the time is right/obvious.  
There has been no obvious stopping point, so I'm on track for TWO WHOLE YEARS (WHAT) by this Memorial Day. Yes, I even ran my minimum mile every day on our weekend vacay.

Read 55 books.  So far, I've read 14 books this year which is spot on for my target! (My goal this year was to read at least one more book than I did the year before (47 books in 2014), and I HANDILY succeeded by reading 54. So yeah, one more book than last year.)

Do the Book Riot read harder challenge.  Eeeep. I haven't been doing as well on this challenge. I think I have about five books checked off the list, but I might have to be more deliberate if I really want to get through it it this year...

Run 5 races, including one trail race.  I haven't made very good on this one yet! I'm registered to run the 520 Go Long 10K this weekend, but I may have a conflict, so we shall see. Either way, it's not going to be a race - more of a fun run and to participate in probably the only race that will ever take place on the floating bridge!   

Aim for one PR.  Again, I'm not making much headway on the racing front. After the bridge run, I do have the Brooks Trailhead 15K on the calendar for May. Although, I don't think that is a distance I want to try for a PR. Nor is the Rock n' Roll half in June. So I may aim for a 5K in the fall, and just continue to enjoy maintaining my fitness and being laid back about my running workouts.

Plan a girls trip with my high school buddies.   Yayyyy! It's on the calendar and my plane ticket to Denver is booked for this summer. One of my friends relocated from Chicago to Denver last year, so we're all meeting up there this summer to check out her new home and then take a drive to stay and play in Beaver Creek.

Plan another summer family road trip. This is also planned/booked! We've headed West, and headed North, now we're gonna go South to Oregon and check out Hood River for a couple of days. And maybe do a better job on the family car ride selfie...

More picture taking and maybe a small weekly or monthly roundup.  And this is why This Weeks Eats has become Everyday Life and Menu Plan! The menu planning is so helpful for me to have here, and I look over these posts often for ideas and links. It's way more fun to have little photo album to go along with it and may be a cool thing to print out one day.

Get at least 5 new meals into regular rotation.  There have been at least 10+ new recipes I've tried this year, and I'll probably make one or two of them again. But the Thai Sticky Chicken Fingers recipe we made this week is one that will DEFINITELY go into regular rotation.  

Try new restaurants with the hubs. Do vacation restaurants count?? I suppose we even went to an old favorite when we went to San Diego. We're old and set in our ways. GET OFF MY LAWN.

Have more fun with makeup and find the right routine, colors, etc. for me.  D'you know that at Sephora, you can get a sample size of pretty much anything? I went and got a few tinted moisturizers/BB creams to try out over a few weeks and have definitely fallen into the Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer camp (the oil free with SPF 20). Love. Love. Love. My other favorite thing, because I just can't get into eyeshadow on a daily basis, is the Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Highlight. I drag it over my brow bone after putting on mascara and call it good.

New goals!

  • Get my littlest riding without her training wheels.  There has been so much focus on how well she's swimming, that I've sort of let the biking go by the wayside. Although, I think her brother finally ditched them at age 6, too. So, hopefully she'll be on board.
  • Register for one summer camp.  Can you tell I'm sort of 'summer focused' right now?? It's that time of year when the brochures come out, the plans start getting made and you start to freak out about what to do all summer long.  
  • Reorganize our 'bonus room' and finally turn it into a play room.  The kids have gotten more into playing the Wii in our living room, and we got them an XBox for their birthdays this year. But I really don't want to have them all up in my grill every time they play, and it makes us nostalgic for our Midwestern upbringing where we had BASEMENTS. They are rare in our neck of the woods, so we're thinking about turning our guest room/loft into a game room/play room - but store the double bed for when Grandma comes to visit, of course.
Until next time!  Hopefully I'll remember to check back in sometime in July...


Everyday Life and Menu Plan 3.27.16

This week flew by, with my husband having a super short work week due to our vacation and having Good Friday off. We took advantage of the day by hitting the trail at Rattlesnake Ridge.

And the next day was my daughter's last ballet class of the season, where we're invited to sit in and watch. It's always cute overload.

The cherry on the cake of a lovely week was a shipment of Portillos arriving on our doorstep. There was a St. Pat's sale that we just couldn't pass up, so there will be hot dogs on the menu this week - as well as...

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


A Weekend in San Diego

Last year we thought that the stars aligned so perfectly for us to be able to take our first vacation together since having our kiddos.  When I earned last year's trip from my Hot Chocolate Ambassadorship, I didn't know if I'd be able to swing it a third year in a row.  I guess people really dig a 4 in 1 buff!  We also didn't know if we'd be able to hit my sister-in-law up AGAIN to drop everything and fly to Seattle to watch the kids on relatively short notice.  We really wanted to check out San Diego and go to a somewhat warm destination.  Plus, it's been nearly 15 years since we set foot in California!  Everything ended up working out, so off we went for another getaway weekend.

Since we were staying in the downtown area, and the airport is an easy $20 cab ride away, we decided not to rent a car and just see what we could see on foot.  We are also not big on beaches (gasp! I know.) and would prefer to sit around poolside with Kindles and rum drinks.  

So that was the bulk of our daytime activities, with the following exceptions:

Upon our late morning arrival, we decided to stretch our legs and walk along the Embarcadero from our hotel (the Hilton Bayfront, which was perfectly lovely) to the USS Midway, which was very cool.
On our walk back to check in to our room, we stopped at one of the many cafes for quick lunch of club sandwiches and back toward the hotel, as well as a stop at Roy's.  Because if you spot an outpost, which we were lucky to have in Chicago, you must stop what you are doing and drink a Mai Tai.
Since we only had about four hours of sleep the night before our flight, we completely crashed until dinnertime at The Oceanaire.  This was a bit of a nostalgic choice, as there used to be one in Seattle and they closed a few years ago.  It was one of our favorite places for seafood, and we knew we had to go out for seafood whilst in San Diego.  
It was just as we'd remembered it, with a relaxing and cozy steak house vibe and delicious food.

On our second day, we opted for the Old Town Trolley tour.  This was SUCH an awesome touristy experience.  The ticket is good for a guided tour while also serving as transportation for the whole day.  You can get on or off at any of the 11 stops and also learn so much about the area.  

There was a stop at our hotel, which was perfect and we went over the bridge to Coronado Island and back through Balboa Park.
We hopped off in Old Town for lunch.  There were two restaurants where the making of handmade tortillas could be seen in the front window and we went for what seemed like the most established of the two, Old Town Mexican Cafe, for some tacos.  Yummmmm.
We got back on the trolley to see some more sights like Little Italy, back along the Embarcadero, and the Gas Lamp area.

Afterward we relaxed at the pool and went out for our second dining experience, which was a day-of decision: we saw The Whiskey House as we were exploring the Gas Lamp area during the day and thought we should, at the very least, get drinks there that night.  
We ended up staying for an entire meal of charcuterie and cheese, salads and I tried my first scotch egg:
Quite rich, but DELICIOUS.  And of course, I drank a fleet of tasty whiskey drinks.

Our last day was all about sleeping and pool lounging.  But we did go out for a stroll in search of a local coffee roaster and discovered Ryan Brothers.  So good, we even bought beans to bring home!  We went out for our final dinner at what seemed to be the highest recommended Mexicali joint downtown: La Puerta.  It did NOT disappoint.  Another thing on my must eat list was a burrito and, man, that was a BURRITO.
It required a steak knife and perseverance.  I was proud I got through more than half of it!  It was so flavorful, as was the house guacamole with serrano peppers and panela cheese.

Once again, I'm grateful to my peeps at RAM Racing for their fantastic incentive program and I'm also sorta glad our race registration never happened because I dunno if I would have been able to roll outta bed at dawn on this weekend of relaxation!  We shall see what next year brings...


Everyday Life and Menu Plan 3.20.16

Last week I had a hiatus on the weekly posting, due to ANOTHER wind storm power outage.  It was the third time in less than six months and we have the routine down pat.  Dinner out is definitely a highlight, as well as enjoying lanterns, candles and firelight.

Prior to that, we had a school in-service day and I thought it would be a fun diversion to hit up the super cool indoor pool, complete with tube slides.  
Only we had a nice little evacuation situation ten minutes after we arrived.  My daughter was the lucky one to discover the CONTAMINATION.  Yeah.  Like Caddyshack but not as funny.  I'm waiting on my mom of the year award for keeping the natives from rioting while waiting a half an hour to get back in to play. 

I've been enjoying my break from race training and just running for fitness, doing no more than six miles at a stretch and more cross training classes. The streak is still alive, it'll be two years on Memorial Day, and I am more than willing to bend this 6 mile limit for good conversation and good friends. 
Last week, eight miles flew by with my buddy Lauren, even at a slightly faster pace than my normal long runs! 

If you missed it, I highly recommended this book:
And this week was alllll about the vacay...
I'll probably have more to say about San Diego next week - and about what we ate, of course.  But for now, here's what's on the menu:

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

Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld (NetGalley Review)

Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld
Publisher: Random House (April 19, 2016)
Description from the publisher: 
From the “wickedly entertaining” (USA Today) Curtis Sittenfeld, New York Times bestselling author of Prep and American Wife, comes a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. A bold literary experiment, Eligible is a brilliant, playful, and delicious saga for the twenty-first century.

This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.

Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.

Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . . 

And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.

Wonderfully tender and hilariously funny, Eligible both honors and updates Austen’s beloved tale. Tackling gender, class, courtship, and family, Sittenfeld reaffirms herself as one of the most dazzling authors writing today.

Right off the bat, I must admit that I'm not an Austen devotee. I also must admit that I REALLY ENJOYED this book! Prep is one of my all time favorite novels, and Sittenfeld delivered this version of Pride and Prejudice with the same witty dissection of social norms and issues (of feminism, family, class and race to name a few) through a hilarious modern update. 

If you are very loyal to Jane Austen, I'm not sure how it will go over. I've made several attempts at reading her classic novels, and they are just not to my liking. But, oh, how I love the stories! She was a master storyteller. Sense and Sensibility is one of my most favorite films, and who doesn't love Clueless?? Reading the dated dialogue puts me in a trance, but to see it performed is something else entirely. And this book is also something else entirely, and equally wonderful. I was reminded of last year's fun romp The Royal We while reading Eligible. Sure, you know how the story is going to go, but it's fun reading a different interpretation - and a sharp, whip smart one at that.

One of the things I love about Sittenfeld's writing is the uncanny, seemingly small - yet important, details she delivers of the minutiae of life. There's a tiny scene in the book where Liz asks Kitty's boyfriend where he went to high school and there's this immediate understanding/insinuation on Kitty's behalf that it's a sort of Midwestern way of discerning someone's class or background. It made me laugh out loud and also nod my head. This is something she nails in Prep, with the spot on descriptions of being an overwrought teen, and what it's like to be a mother of small children in Sisterland. The world she created is so fully realized and I could relate so much more to Elizabeth and Jane in this retelling. For some, it might be considered a sacrilege, but I am now looking into all the other novels included in The Austen Project: including Sense & Sensibility , Northanger Abbey , Emma: A Modern Retelling.  


A Few of My Favorite Things

As I was posting a Trader Joe's haul picture on Instagram the other day... 

(being inspired by Trader Joe's List to see all my goodies at once), I realized it's been another long while since I talked about some of my favorite things. TJ's things among the list, of course.
I shared this pic awhile ago and I loved these Sriracha chips so much that I cannot have them in the house anymore.  Seriously. I ate nearly the entire bag and felt not so great afterwards. If you have the slightest bit of self restraint, unlike me, then I HIGHLY recommend these chips.

On the other hand, I think my love for the Kale & Edamame Salad makes up for the decidedly not nutritious chips.
I buy at least one a week for lunch, add avocado and use about half the dressing - because it's plenty and the salad dressings at Trader Joe's are delicious for a reason: a twee bit more saturated fat and sugar than is strictly necessary.

And a nice little healthy snack I pick up from TJ's, but you can find in any grocery store is the Pure Bar Organic
I like that it's less than 200 calories, has a decent amount of protein (5g), AND fiber (4g) which most protein packed bars are usually lacking. The thinkThin Protein & Fiber Bars fit this bill, and I'll buy them every once in awhile, but the Pure bars have a much more natural taste.

Hair products have never really been my bag. I really dislike the feeling of any product in my hair. But, since I hardly use product, I rely overmuch on heat styling tools. So, when I saw all the raves about this L'Oreal Blow Dry It Quick Dry Primer Spray in the Target Beauty Box I missed, I thought it was a product I should at least try.
And, lo, it is LOVELY. It smells fantastic and makes my hair feel so NICE, not at all product-y. Hopefully it's also protecting my hair...

You know what else is soft and lovely? (How's that for a segue?) Alternative Apparel sweatshirts. I bought this one from ILY Couture last year and it is still SO SOFT after weekly washings. I wear it, you guessed it, every weekend. So I looked into the brand and found that their products can be purchased quite inexpensively from Amazon. 
I got another scoop neck and this awesome lightweight Slouchy Pullover pictured above.  

Why oh why did it take me so long to see Spy?? You've all seen it, right?? 
My husband and I watched it for one of our Saturday date nights and we were both howling. We're both fans of Jason Statham, and it was fun to see him as kind of a idiot instead of the super cool tough guy. And, of course, Melissa McCarthy is the bees knees. But, you already knew that.

Last, but not least, I've been loving the What Should I Read Next podcast, which I mentioned the other day on my library haul post.  
I've participated in Ann Bogel's book review linkup for a long time on Modern Mrs. Darcy.  She used to do this 'Literary Matchmaking' as a questionnaire on the blog, recommending books to readers, and it is WAY more fun to listen to the conversation that happens when people are posed with her questions: What are three of your favorite books? Name one book you hate. What are you reading now? Is there anything you'd like to change in your reading life? The most recent guest is one of my favorites: Janssen at Everyday Reading who I link to frequently here (especially in the recipe department - mmm, Jalapeno Popper Chili), and it was the most relatable of all the podcasts for me. I very much agree with Janssen on being 'meh' on books described as having 'beautiful writing' and enjoy plot driven, first person narratives. I fervently wish that one day Anne can give me book therapy!  


The Stack - March 2016

After last month's heavy and solemn reading, there is definitely a theme of YA in my library haul, and 'chick lit' in my ebook queue.

How beautiful is the cover of Everything, Everything? I'm excited to read that one - I've heard nothing but good things. I'm also really curious about Bone Gap (the Printz winner and National Book Award finalist) as I've seen it can be categorized in sci-fi and I had no idea, based on the description. Love Is the Drug is a direct result of listening to What Should I Read Next, the awesome podcast Anne Bogel started, which I highly recommend.  I'd never heard of this title until she recommended it to Osheta Moore who wants to read more books written by authors of color.  The story sounds SO GOOD.  And I still have another month to renew A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing, so that one might get pushed back again.  

Honestly, most of these might get pushed back, because I'm going to be relying on my Kindle a lot next week for some vacation reading!!  My husband and I are going to San Diego for a couple of days, and plan to do a LOT of pool reading if the weather cooperates.  To that end, I put a Sarah Dessen, Jojo Moyes and Elin Hilderbrand into my Overdrive queue and they're suspended/ready to go.  I kinda hope I'm Glad About You comes in soon, too, as there are only two people ahead of me.

New e-books ready in my queue:

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand
Silver Bay by Jojo Moyes
I'm Glad About You by Theresa Rebeck

As well as the ones I've had ready for awhile:

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld (NetGalley ARC)
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry
Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave (NetGalley ARC)
The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Happy Again by Jennifer E. Smith
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

As always, I'm interested in any thoughts/if you've read the books on this list or others I should know about!


Everyday Life and Menu Plan 3.6.16

Last week was Literacy Week, a yearly favorite event at school, filled with all sorts of reading related fun: book exchanges, hat day on Dr. Seuss' birthday, a pajama 'read in' and even a carnival-like night at school.

We also observed many rainbows this week.

And joyfully celebrated the return of the Ellenos yogurt bar at Uwajimaya.

In addition to lots of yogurt, this week we'll be eating:
A note on one of the new recipes from last week - be careful when making the Toasted Chile Chicken marinade.  I think it would go over better in a shallow pan, as I kept burning the chile flakes in the pot!  Also let it cool a bit before adding the garlic, or that will burn too.  Otherwise, the marinade was pretty tasty.

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