2014: A Year in Review

Can you believe it’s 2015?! Last year just FLEW by, but when I go back and review all the posts from 2014, it really is amazing how much happened. Thanks to all of you who have stuck around and continue to offer your advice and words of encouragement – I love you all!

I’ll create a to-do list for 2015 tomorrow, but first let’s take a look back of some of the best posts of 2014:

DSC00473Most popular post: A step-by-step look at how to turn an IKEA Ribba frame into a bar tray garnered the most clicks this year – and it was even picked up by IKEA Hackers!

Most commented on post: Remember when y’all helped me pick out a new living room rug? Great job, by the way.

DSC01014Best before/after: I’m so happy I finally bit the bullet and gave my living room a navy accent wall like the ones I’d been admiring on Pinterest forever. Will I regret it when I move out and have to paint it back white? Only time will tell…

Still on my wish list: This may just be the year that I tackle my first upholstery project, so I better pick up “Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design” to prepare.

11Best trip: Sometimes the best trips are the ones that are last minute and random and cheap – that happened to be Kansas City for me this year.

Best purchase: I know this is a home design blog, but this Kipling tote has been a godsend this past year. The blogging fashionistas of the world certainly don’t have anything to worry about, but I know a good bag when I see one.

friendsgivingBest party: I finally pulled off a Friendsgiving this year! The place looked great, and I hope it’ll mark the begin of many dinner parties to come. I love hosting.

Greatest accomplishment: I trained and ran a friggin’ marathon. 26.2 miles. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever say that. Hell, I could barely run the 5 miles during soccer two-a-days in high school! It felt amazing.

DSC00683Best recipe: I just made this Parmesan Ranch Snack Mix for a New Year’s Eve party… so, so good – and ridiculously easy!

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Bucket List Update: Marathon. Check.

I’m a little late here but… I’m officially a finisher of the Chicago Marathon!

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Pardon my language, but I made that 26.2 miles my bitch! It’s not like I posted a record time or anything, but I ran every step of it (OK, maybe you could argue that I had to walk through some of the hydration stations, but whatever) and came in 10 minutes faster than my goal time. And most people say for your first marathon, your goal should really just be to finish. Well, done and done.

I guess those four-plus months of training paid off because I also wasn’t very sore in the days after. (I swear by ice baths!) The marathon was last Sunday, I took Monday off (though really I didn’t need to) and by Wednesday, I felt ready to workout again. But I didn’t. Instead, I let myself eat and drink whatever I wanted for an entire week, and now today, I desperately need to get back on the bandwagon. After feeding your body a bunch of quality food and working out about five days a week, straying from that kind of makes you feel like crap.

I don’t really know how to work out now though. I had definitely plateaued because I noticed toward the end that even if I was running  like 30 miles a week, I was gaining a little weight. (Though apparently at some point, I “lost” my boobs, as a male friend so rudely pointed out to me last weekend! WTF?!) I guess I’ll have to try something different, but it makes me a little sad only because I already really miss the mental aspect of a long run. As much as I sound like a cheesy workout shirt, running really did became my therapy.

It’s also kind of a weird feeling to devote your life to something for months, have everyone ask you about it, finally accomplish that thing—and then really not having anything to show for it. Sure, I can say I ran a marathon, which is a feat in and of itself, but I somehow feel like my life should be different… but it’s not. It’s the same as it was in April. No wonder professional athletes are terrible with their money—I bet they try to use it to feel the void! Am I just getting sentimental? Any other runners out there feel the same way?

On a more upbeat note, I have to thank everyone who encouraged me in this endeavor. There were so many sweet Facebook messages and texts, and I’m sorry I didn’t respond to every one. I was telling my parents afterward that I’m not sure I could do a marathon where I didn’t have any fans out on the course—it really did mean the world to see my friends and family, if only a fleeting glimpse! xoxo

A Weeklong Rewind

Last week got away from me. Every week I think, “OK, this week will be a nice, relaxed, obligation-free week…” but instead it blows up with events, drinks, long runs… and, in this case, hot dogs. So. Many. Hot Dogs.

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But it had to be done. Hot Doug’s, a Chicago institution, is closing in less than two weeks, so we were left with no choice but to go wait in the ridiculously long line and eat a ridiculous amount of encased meats. For the record, we arrived at 8:30 am, were third in line, and got our food about 10:45. It was definitely the breakfast of champions. Also for the record: These were all mine.

Just keeding. I ordered two: a classic Chicago-style dog and a ham sausage with spicy pineapple salsa. Both were fantastic.

And what goes better with hot dogs than baseball? This was my first trip to Wrigley Field all season! I guess the summer also got away from me. I really need to re-up my love for the Cubbies. I’ll be a better fan next season, promise. Well maybe, ha.

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I rounded out the week with drinks with a college roommate, another successful alumni association event…

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And—this is a big AND—a 20-mile run! That’s the most I’ve ever run at once in my entire life. It’s the longest run I’ll do before the marathon, but it actually went really well! I think I’m officially ready.

Now let the tapering begin! Thank goodness.

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And So It Begins…

Today was my first official marathon training run! Granted, it was only 3 miles, but I still feel like I’ve accomplished something. In 18 short weeks—well, ok probably more like 18 grueling, intense, potentially hot weeks—I should be ready to take the starting line at the Chicago Marathon. (I’m doing Hal Hidgon’s Novice 1 training plan for anyone interested.)

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While I’m not exactly looking forward to those 10+ mile Saturday morning runs, I kind of like the structure of knowing what workout I’ll be doing on which days. I think pushing through all those miles is going to be just as hard (if not harder) mentally as physically. Those of you who know me know I’m not exactly a patient person…

But I’m also hoping to use the training to travel a bit—I think I’m going to sign-up for the Vineyard to Bay 25K in Traverse City, Michigan! I’m sure I’ll be sick of Chicago’s Lakefront Path come August, so it’ll be fun to run through the vineyards and sneak in a day or two of vacation time right around my birthday.

Brooks: Check. Yurburds: Check. Foam roller: Check. Protein powder: Check.

Let’s do this thing.

Summer Bucket List

Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 8.37.25 PMHappy Friday! I don’t know about y’all, but this week has felt forever long. I think it’s because it’s been raining all week. I’m not (really) complaining because I’m happy it’s finally above 35 degrees, but I have to say I’m pretty excited for summer to hurry up and get here. I dream of the beach… yes, even our fake Lake Michigan “beach.”

But speaking of summer, it’s time to put together a bucket list! For the past couple years, some friends and I have assembled a bucket list for each new season. Some of the stuff frankly isn’t possible (create a time machine), some of it is too ridiculous (Sketchers Shape Up bar crawl) and some of it we just don’t get around to (go skydiving), but a lot of the items do get crossed off. It’s a great resource to have when you find yourself with a random free Sunday, and you’re looking for something to do. Then again, maybe I’m just not creative enough to think of something on the spot.

Anywho, here’s some of things on my personal Summer Bucket List:

Train for the marathon. This isn’t so much a fun bucket list item as a straight-up necessity. The Chicago Marathon is Oct. 12, so that’s means the training program starts about the second week of June. There’s going to be some eaaaarly mornings this summer… (This also means on your bucket list should be “Make signs to cheer Kelsey on at the Chicago Marathon!”)

Make my own popsicles. This one has been on my mind for awhile even though I don’t eat that many store-bought popsicles. I’m weary of what exactly is in there. (Is high fructose corn syrup good or bad for you this week? What about chemical sweeteners? Why are they always slimy?) But I’m always looking for new healthy snacks, and if I can make my own, then I’ll know every ingredient. Plus, I’ll have an excuse to buy these super cute molds. Yes, I’m really 6 years old at heart.

Go floating. This is a repeat item from a many a summer bucket lists past, but it’s finally happening this year—for my birthday! For those of you not familiar, floating trips involve, well, floating down a river in a big inner tube with a bunch of friends and usually a cooler of adult beverages. It’s like a real-life lazy river. We’re going floating at Turkey Run State Park and camping out nearby. I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday!

Attempt to grill pizza. In general, I want grill out a lot more this summer, but I’m especially interested in trying to grill a pizza pie. This idea could very well stem from the fact that my oven is terrible. (It won’t consistently stay above 400.) I really want to try this grilled pesto, sweet corn and avocado pizza recipe. Check out that dessert pizza she makes too, omg…

Eat at Hot Doug’s. Sticking with food, I want to make it to Hot Doug’s one more time before the beloved sausage joint closes in October. I’ve only been once—see above, that’s what just me and one other person shared. It was sad… but delicious. After Charlie Trotter’s closed, I wished I’d made an effort to get there. I should feasibly (read: financially) be able do Hot Doug’s at least.

Hit up the Kane County Flea Market. The rumor is that this flea market about an hour outside of Chicago is the place to be on the first weekend of every month (March-December). Like any flea market, I’m sure the Kane County Flea Market is a hodge podge of junk and treasures, but I’ve heard there’s some quality mid-century items up for grabs if you get there early.

Bike ride every weekend. I have a bike; I need a helmet. Then I’ll be good to go on weekend biking adventures around the city. I’m just a tiny bit scared…

That’s all I’ve got so far, but I still have another week to brainstorm. (I consider Memorial Day to be the summer kickoff.) Do you have a Summer Bucket List? What’s on it? What should I add to mine?

Bucket List: 26.2 Miles Ahead

Oh god, what the hell was I thinking?!photoYes, that’s a confirmation of my acceptance into the 2014 Chicago Marathon. A MARATHON, people! 26.2 miles. That’s potentially five straight hours of running…

I got the email last night (it was a lottery system, according to the Tribune 71,000 entered and 33,000 “won”), so I’ve had a little bit of time to get over my initial freak out. That doesn’t mean I’m any less terrified.

But I’m putting together a plan of attack. It starts with buying cute new running shoes—hey, they say half the battle is feeling good about yourself. In all seriousness though, it’s just time to retire my current pair. I’ve already picked up a couple marathon training books from the library and looked into getting a trainer at my gym (less for the running aspect, more for cross training).

I can do this.

After my half marathon last year, the idea of running a full marathon started to creep onto the ‘ol Bucket List. It was like it was penciled in, something I’d thought about but hadn’t seriously considered. What changed, I’m not sure. I think maybe this awful winter made me so completely stir crazy that I started to believe that I’d want to spend hours outside running once it’s nice enough. We’ll see if that’s true…

What’s on your Bucket List? Have you crossed anything off that just seemed crazy at the time? Inspiration welcome!