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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Weekend Rewind: Fall Fun

It’s pretty amazing what you can accomplish in a weekend when you don’t have to fit in a 15-mile or so run—and all the preparations that go into that. I’m still adjusting to life post-marathon, but I did go for my first jog and caught a beautiful fall sunrise over Montrose Harbor. IMG_2851

I’m REALLY liking that I have more time for projects around the apartment. Much more on this later, but here’s a sneak peek…

Once I’d scrubbed all the stray paint off (I somehow managed to get it on the strangest things, like my work bag in the next room!), I had to quickly get ready for my first Halloween party of the season at a friend’s apartment. He’s a great host, so the party was a blast! I can only hope my Friendsgiving in a couple weeks is as successful. (Speaking of, it’ll be my first dinner party so I welcome all tips and tricks! Send ’em over!)

And that still wasn’t the end. We decided to go for a scenic drive… and ended up in Milwaukee. Whoops!  We picked up some cheese and meats and enjoyed a nice view from the lakefront near the art musuem. It was very Wisconsin.

I hope everyone is getting out there and enjoying these beautiful fall days!

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.

Weekend Rewind: Ice Bath Challenge

I finally did the ice bucket challenge! Well, in a sense…

IMG_2484OK, there was no charity involved here. No, this ice bath was just a necessity after running 18 friggin’ miles. Who am I?! #chicagomarathon #orbust

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For those of you familiar with Chicago, 18 miles is essentially from the Montrose Brown Line stop, out to the Lakefront Trail, down to the Shedd Aquarium… and back. This was the halfway point, about 7:30 Saturday morning. I was slow, but steady. I’d say it went better than expected.IMG_2491

My plan was to go out to the suburbs for a flea market (something that’s been on my bucket list for a year!), but I couldn’t muster the energy to be on my feet all day at a fairground. Hell, I didn’t even want to put on shoes. I guess I’m single-handedly bringing back the slide sandal. Who needs Birkenstocks when you’ve held onto these beauties since 8th grade soccer? That was 1999… they’re practically vintage!

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Luckily, by Sunday I had recovered enough to make it to the bar for the Bears game—and more importantly, to kick ass at Jenga!

On My Mind: August Edition

1. OMG there’s only two super long runs left until the marathon! Where did August go? Granted, I have to run 12 miles today (because that’s not long at all… who am I?) and then 18 and 20 the next two weekends, but after that I begin tapering for the BIG DAY (Oct. 12). How can that be? I feel like I’m getting there physically, but I’m not sure I’m mentally ready for this!

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2. After the marathon, I’m hoping to take some time off and travel somewhere warm. I don’t want to sight see; I just want to lay on the beach, eat/drink whatever my heart desires and not set an alarm for an entire week! I’m lucky enough to have a job with a decent PTO allotment and a boss that encourages me to take it, but I feel like there’s been a lot of chatter lately about how Americans don’t use their vacation time, which is just plain stupid. I especially liked Gawker’s take:

That job don’t love you. That job is not your friend. That job is not looking out for you. That job is a machine in which you are a cog. That job has no human feelings. That job is interested only in sucking you for every last ounce of labor that you are physically capable of producing before you pass out. It is not the job’s fault; it is in the job’s nature. Therefore it is up to you to look out for yourself. You gotta love yourself in this world. Take that time off. Nobody else is going to take it for you. Take it. Take it all.

Touché, Gawker. Touché. Now where should I go? Suggestions?

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3. Um, so I woke up today and decided that I hate my bathroom. I hate the stupid black and white checkered floor, I REALLY hate the old-school mirror/light combo, I hate the cheap over-the-toliet storage cabinet, I hate the color of the green accents. OK, I can really only do something about that last one (maybe two), but I’ve decided it’s time to revisit this space. It’s pretty much been the same since I moved in two years ago so… Here. we. go.

Opening Ceremony And 'Birdman' - Premiere - 71st Venice Film Festival

4. I’m really excited to get my hair cut tonight. I have not had many good hair days lately. The truth is I was on a medication for awhile that started to make my hair fall out! It was awful. And it still kind of is because now I have all these new hairs sticking out like a baby bird. But I’m hoping my stylist can work some magic. I’m thinking I should cut a couple inches off to help the little hairs “catch up” to the longer ones faster, and I think I’m going to use Emma Stone’s new do as inspiration. I kind of have a girl crush on Emma. She was hilarious in the Lip Sync Battle with Jimmy Fallon.

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5. I’ve totally been slacking in the cooking department. I got the new stove/oven weeks ago, and I think I’ve only used it once—to warm up leftover pizza. That’s just sad. But now that my grad class is over (and I’m taking the fall off), I might be able to get back in the kitchen. First recipe I want to tackle? Spicy beer shrimp sounds pretty damn good. Or maybe jalapeño cheddar scones. Guess I’m all about the heat right now!

(Images: 1. National Geographic, 3. The Gloss, 4. Chocolate Moosey)

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(Long) Weekend Rewind: Pure Michigan

Vacations are hard to come by when you’re training for a marathon—building in a couple hours a day for runs and watching your diet isn’t exactly fun while traveling. But you can find a sweet spot if you combine the two…

On Sunday, I did the Vineyard to Bay 25K (roughly 15.5 miles) in Traverse City, Michigan. This was the first time the race has ever been held, and there are definitely some kinks to be worked out, but I was just happy to use it as an excuse to get out of town for a few days. I’m getting tired of pounding out miles on the Lakefront Path!

We rented a house in Sutton Bay (more on that next week). It was a overcast most of the trip, so we didn’t spend much time sitting on the beach. Instead, we drove out to Sleeping Bear Dunes, shopped in Charlevoix, ate LOTS of ice cream and even kissed a moose. Don’t ask…

There’s no way this trip would’ve been possible without my parents. Thanks, Mom and Dad! They are pretty great travel companions. We already have another trip in the works, too—Scottsdale for Spring Training!