Weekend in Houston & the ABB 5K

On Friday afternoon we headed down south to Houston for the weekend. We should have been pulling into the race expo around 4pm but due to congested highways and the population of Houston being incapable of operating a vehicle correctly, it ended up being just after 5. When traveling somewhere new, you should definitely experiment with using the maps app on your phone without turning the GPS on. Turns out all of the GPS usage and iHeart radio streaming on our road trip to/from Florida in December drained the crap out of our data for the month and we had to navigate downtown Houston GPS-less. It was REALLY fun.

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The expo was massive and super organized. I loved how a volunteer could scan the barcode from my confirmation email on my phone rather than having to print out a hard copy. We picked up our 3 (5K x2 & the half for me) race packets in less than five minutes and were released out into the sea of vendors. I chatted all things Oiselle with Sara at the Fleet Feet booth, browsed the USTAF merchandise, and pretty much breezed through the rest. Skechers, a new sponsor for this year, provided all of the official race merchandise. The LE shoes created specifically for Houston were pretty cool and a lot of the apparel looked great too, but I wish there would have been other items like pint glasses or magnets. Something cheap that wasn’t clothing-related. A Skechers employee working the area said they’d keep it in mind for next year. Luckily on our way out I saw Chevron putting free magnets out on their table so I snagged a couple.

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I saw the Nuun booth but it was pretty busy so I skipped over it, only to realize later that night they were giving out Texas-specific water bottles with the purchase of two tubes. Now I need another water bottle like I need a hole in the head, but guys: this one said Texas on it. Somehow this justified the purchase and we went back the next morning to grab one.

Nuun Hydration - Run Texas

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After the expo we made our way to the hotel. Initially I booked the Residence Inn downtown so we wouldn’t really have to drive at all and could walk to the race start both mornings. After a little research, I realized I could move us out to a SpringHill Suites near Reliant Park and save $300 on the hotel/parking. It was about 10-15 minutes away and only two blocks from the rail station. I don’t regret this decision at all – $300 is $300.

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The next morning was the ABB 5K, which was by no means a goal race for either of us since Brad was coming off a sprained ankle and I had the half the next day. We grabbed coffee in the lobby and took the rail downtown.

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The race was a super flat out-and-back and the weather was perfect. Beautiful morning for a run! We were pretty surprised with how many spectators were out cheering but it got me excited for crowds the next day. The National Guard handed out medals at the finish, which I thought was pretty cool.

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We had lunch at Freebirds and then went to see Lone Survivor. Okay, so I had heard this movie was pretty intense. I imagined intense like Act of Valor. Definitely teared up at the end and it was sad, but I was able to compose myself in less than five minutes. Let me just say that “pretty intense” does not even begin to describe Lone Survivor. I don’t cry at anything (owner of a black heart) and no amount of sniffling or deep breaths could get me back to normal before the lights came on. It was heart wrenching. Incredible movie, but heart wrenching.

For dinner I had my heart set on Italian and luckily there was a Carrabba’s only a few blocks from the movie theater. Once we cracked open the menus I realized we were at the most expensive Carrabba’s in all the land. Had I done a little research I might have noticed that this was the original restaurant and not under the same management as the chain. But since we were already there and every other Italian restaurant in town was probably swarming with runners, we stayed. At a normal Carrabba’s our exact dinner would have cost us $54 plus tip but at the original we were hit with an $85 bill. Good thing I saved a few bucks on the hotel.

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After dinner we returned back to the hotel so I could buy more songs on iTunes, tweak my playlist for the billionth time and try to get to bed early. Pretty sure Brad fell asleep before I did, but what else is new?

Next up, the Aramco Houston Half Marathon Race Recap

That Trip to Dallas

Yes, I’m well aware I was in Houston this weekend. And no, the post title does not have a typo in it. While I was cleaning up the photos in G+ (I was almost out of space in Google Drive – did you know that’s a thing? Apparently I take a lot of photos…), a few popped up from our trip to Dallas back in October. That trip where I flew my father out to Texas to take him to a Jason Aldean concert and then an obnoxious thunderstorm blew in, forcing Jason Aldean to cancel. Yes, that trip. Please step into my time machine…

On Friday afternoon we scooped my father up from DFW and made our way to downtown Dallas. I had booked us a room at a Springhill Suites which was only a couple blocks from the West End DART station. This worked out perfectly since we’d be drinking most of the weekend and could leave the driving up to the public transit operators. Austin, take note. Get us a legit rail system. We opted to check out Pat Green’s new restaurant, The Rustic, in Uptown. The beer selection is pretty stellar (and local!) so make sure to sample a few brews from their lengthy list of pints and bottles.

Beer at the Rustic

If you don’t mind smelling like a campfire when you leave the restaurant, then you definitely need to enjoy their outdoor patio. It’s first come, first serve so that made snagging a seat a little difficult at 7:30 on Friday night, especially with a 2-hour wait inside. Brad was on top of his game though and after circling the patio 3 times or so, we were able to find a seat in about 15 minutes. The band was great and not too loud, so we were still able to chit-chat at the table without yelling.

The Rustic - Backyard

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Obviously it was pretty dark outside so I’ll spare you the sub-par food photos. My recommendation: order a Lakewood Rock Ryder and the Rustic Burger (hello, it has brisket & green chiles on it), you won’t be disappointed with either.

Saturday morning we took advantage of the free hot breakfast the hotel provided and then relaxed in the room for a bit. We hit Hopdoddy for lunch and then spent a couple hours at Targetmaster in Garland. Nothing screams father-daughter bonding experience more than unloading a few rounds at the shooting range. Afterwards we made our way back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. I was in full-on weather stalking mode because there was a giant patch of thunderstorms just west of Dallas making its way towards us and the concert was at an outdoor venue.

Dinner was at Cane Rosso in Deep Ellum. This is where I fell in love with burrata for the first time and now can’t leave Trader Joe’s without buying a package of it. I initially ordered the regular caprese, but it was seasonal and just my luck – not available. It was obviously fate for burrata and I to meet that night. None of us were really starving so we shared a couple appetizers and then a pizza: the Delia. It had house-made mozzarella, roasted grape tomatoes, arugula, and spicy bacon marmalade. And it was delicious.

Cane Rosso - Delia

I was still monitoring the radar and it looked like the storm had somehow went around Dallas and it was showing up on the east side of the city. Knowing it was probably too good to be true, we didn’t get our hopes up. But the sun was still shining so we hopped on the DART train and headed to Fair Park for the concert.

In fall 2012 I had signed up for Jason Aldean’s fan club to get pre-sale tickets for a show in San Diego. Luckily my membership was still active when it came time to buy tickets for the Dallas show and pre-sale access landed us PIT TICKETS. As in, so close to the stage that you could touch the performer if you wanted to (and weren’t concerned about getting arrested).

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Thomas Rhett was the opener and surprisingly put on a great performance. He played a handful of songs from his upcoming album and this one made its way on to my current running playlist. He had a short set but got everyone really pumped up for the rest of the show.

Thomas Rhett - Gexa Energy Pavilion

Jake Owen played next and he bounced around, covering every single inch of the stage. That man was full of energy! I wasn’t expecting to like him live as much as I did. His set was a bit longer than Thomas Rhett’s and had everyone singing along at the top of their lungs. Eight Second Ride is my favorite song from him and I was stoked he closed with it.

Jake Owen - Gexa Energy Pavilion

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At some point during his set, it started raining. The people on the lawn didn’t seem to be fazed one bit because it was still jam packed out there. Towards the end of the set, I caught a few glimpses of lightning. And then once the music went away, we heard the thunder. After about 20 minutes there was an announcement over the loudspeaker saying Jason Aldean would be delayed and those on the lawn were encouraged to head back to their cars until the storm passed.

Except that storm was so huge, it wasn’t going anywhere. After another 20 minutes, the show was cancelled. I know it was a safety issue and the right decision, but it was still disappointing. Those are the risks you take with buying tickets to a concert at an outdoor venue. The next morning I had an email from Ticketmaster letting me know I’d be receiving a full refund for the tickets since the show was cancelled, which was definitely an unexpected surprise.

Our final meal came Sunday morning at Smoke and I cannot explain to you how damn delicious it was. I declared the pancakes were life-changing and absolutely meant it. Heavy handed blueberry pancakes with vanilla poached apricots – you complete me.

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The bloody mary I ordered wasn’t nearly as amazing as Frank’s (hard to top a drink made with bacon-infused vodka) but the real star of the photo below was the bacon. More specifically, pork belly bacon. We were so full from each of our own meals that the three of us were struggling to finish the two thick-cut slabs of bacon. Brad carried the rest of it out of the restaurant with him because he refused to waste it. Something about starving children in Africa.

Smoke - Pork Belly Bacon

After brunch we killed some time perusing the CD sale racks (scored a few albums for $4.99!) in Best Buy and then headed back to DFW to drop my dad off for his flight. Sad face.

Despite the concert cancellation, it was a super fun weekend! We had a great time showing my dad around Dallas and doing Texas-y things like drinkin’ beer, shootin’ guns and rockin’ out to country music.

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Oh, and eating Texas-shaped waffles. That happened too.

Friday Favorites {Makeup}

I wasn’t always a big makeup wearer. While living in Florida my makeup bag consisted only of bronzer, eyeliner and mascara. The rest of it would melt off my face in 0.5 seconds after leaving the house due to the humidity so I kept the routine very simple. Fast forward a few years to an internet bursting with YouTube tutorials and beauty blogs, and well? Now I pretty much own every damn type of product on the market. Here are my favorites…

STAMT Makeup

Face

I’ve come to terms with the fact I will NEVER find a liquid foundation that works for me. And it’s not even a matter of finding the perfect shade. Every makeup artist at Sephora has tried on every possible liquid foundation they carry and every single one of them oxidizes on my skin. I can leave the house wearing a full face of makeup and by the time I make it to work it will have changed to an orangey-pinkish hue on my skin – nothing like what had been on my face an hour before. I’ve tried different coverages, different brands, wearing primer underneath, BB creams, CC creams. You name it, I’ve tried it. Nothing will stay the same color on me. We’ve even experimented with going a shade lighter than my skin so when it darkens up, it would (hypothetically) match. But nope, no dice. My alien skin still turns orange. Sometimes I can get away with a tinted moisturizer and Nars has one with SPF 30 that my skin will play nicely with about 75% of the time. So basically my only option is to spot-correct with concealers. The ones I always reach for are: MAC Select Cover-Up, Clinique’s All About Eyes, and this one from Maybelline with the super long name in Brightener. The last one is my favorite because the pinkish hues really offset the dark circles and make me look awake, despite how many hours of sleep I have (or haven’t) gotten.

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Currently my favorite blush is Exposed from Tarte, but Warm Soul from MAC is my summer shade. It has a tiny bit of shimmer in it that I prefer to save for the warmer months. For bronzer/contouring, Benefit’s Hoola was my go-to until recently when I tried this set. Now I’ve switched to Chocolate Soleil from Too Faced. For highlighting I use Hard Candy’s Baked Bronzer (yes, bronzer – it’s more yellow-toned than brown) in Tiki. An eyeshadow palette by Hard Candy was the first thing I ever purchased from Sephora back in the day for about $30. I bought this bronzer in Walmart for $8. Ah, how times change. On a related note, I saw that Kohl’s is now carrying LORAC, Cargo, and The Balm makeup. Not sure how those brands trickled down to them but if you use any, definitely buy them there! They often have crazy sales with 20% or 30% coupons. You could score some pricey makeup for super cheap.

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Eyes

The only powder shadow I’ve worn in the past 3 years is Urban Decay, specifically the Naked Palette. The shadows have great color payoff and are very blendable. The palette is perfect for both day/evening looks. Pretty decent bang for your buck as well, considering UD shadows will run you almost twenty dollars each. The palette has 12 different shades, most of which are now permanent and can be purchased separately. The ones I wear most are Buck, Smog, and Hustle.

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For cream shadows, I’ve developed an obsession with MAC’s Pro Longwear Paint Pots. I initially wanted to buy the cult favorite Painterly, but surprise surprise instead of it being the neutral shade everyone loves, it turned pink on me. I went with Layin’ Low which is basically the same thing, a flat nude which can be used as a base or on its own when you’re feeling particularly lazy. From there I added a few more: Bare Study, Rubenesque, and Indianwood. Of those, Indianwood is my go-to. It’s very similar to Smog, which is my go-to in the powder shadow department. The containers look small but they will last you FOREVER. I use Layin’ Low pretty much every single day and have hardly made a dent.

Eyeliner. I have two here: felt tipped liner for top lash line and gel for the water line. I like Maybelline’s Master Precise liner for the top because it’s easy to control. I prefer more of a super-skinny natural line rather than HI LOOK AT ME thick one. This one gets the job done. The water line can be a pain in the ass sometimes because it’s impossible to get eyeliner to stay put in that spot. I wore kohl pencil for years but it required constant touch-ups. Last summer I started using a gel liner, specifically this one from L’Oreal, and it’s been a real game changer. That stuff does NOT budge. I like Bronze for daytime and Blackest Black for nights out.

Mascara is always Clinique High Impact. I’ve strayed a few times (Benefit’s They’re Real & BadGAL Lash, Tarte’s Better than Sex, Urban Decay’s Big Fatty, and almost all of the drugstore ones) and always come back to Clinique. The formula is super dark and doesn’t make your lashes feel crunchy. That sounds weird but if you wear mascara, you know what I mean. Comparable drugstore ones are Revlon Grow Luscious and Maybelline Full ‘n Soft.

Lips

I’m pretty low-maintenance when it comes to lip products and always have been. My go-to lip balm is this one by CO Bigelow. I love all things lemon and this stuff glides on super smooth like buttah. Their Rose Salve sits on my nightstand and is great to put on before you go to sleep. You’ll wake up with super soft lips. Both are sold at Bath & Body Works and they usually have the Buy 2, Get 1 Free deal on them. The smell of the Rose Salve was weird to me at first, but I got used to it. An alternative is this one from Sephora – smells minty fresh! For a little color, Nars Dolce Vita is a great shade that works on everyone. Very subtle, “my lips but better” color. For nights out I’ll layer that one and Clinique’s Black Honey.

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And that’s it! Obviously the high-end products outweigh the drugstore ones but I try to keep it cheap by buying sample sizes or investing in a full size only when it comes with a free gift. This works well for all of the Clinique items because everything I use also comes in gift/travel size. During the holidays I was able to stock up on minis of my face wash, toner, moisturizer, mascara, lipstick, and eye cream for free when I bought a full-sized face wash and toner.

What are some of your favorite makeup items? Do you lean more towards high-end or drugstore?

Tuesday Things

1. Are you sick of me talking about the office? Well sorry, I’m not quite done yet. The project is still unfinished but we’re much closer than we were a week ago. I bought a twin comforter set and while I’m sure it’s the norm, it bothers me to no end that it only comes with one pillow sham and no option to buy an additional one. The daybed looks dumb with just one pillow at the top and definitely requires 2(+) pillows in the middle. Currently I’m on a hunt for two red decorative pillows to match the sheets, but not really red … maybe cranberry? Or wine? In any case, it’s proving to be impossible to find pillows to match. Don’t even get me started on how expensive effing Euro Shams are. WHY?! It’s a piece of fabric. Also, please kill me for caring this much about a bed in a room we rarely go in.

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2. I accidentally became a VIB member at Sephora. Seriously, it was accident. My online account said I had 92 points – clearly not enough for VIB. Once I dug a little deeper it looked like they issued me a new BI card at some point and never linked it to my other account. So I was earning points in the store with one BI card and earning points online with another. While I was in there stocking up on moisturizer recently, BAM – they handed me a shiny silver VIB card. I have no idea what this card gets me except a private shopping event in November (which is REALLY far away) so I don’t know whether to be excited about the new status or upset I spend so much time in the store. I blame my sister mostly. In any case, I’m getting a post together about all the fun makeup-y things I’ve bought over the past few months. Makeup? On the blog? There’s something new.

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3. Oiselle, Oiselle, Oiselle. A few items from the S14 line hit their website recently and the colors are ridiculously beautiful. It’s taking quite a bit of self restraint to keep myself from putting every single new item in my cart. The newest Stripey (now Earn Your Stripes) comes in two of the best colors Oiselle has put out: brill blue + jade green.  I’ve figured out how to wear 90% of my Oiselle wardrobe to work, which is AWESOME. The seamless flyte tank is perfect for layering and much more exciting than a standard cami under a cardigan. If you’re currently Oiselle-less, this is a great piece to start with!

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4. It’s race week! For some reason even though I’m only running the half, this feels like a bigger race than usual. Maybe because there’s been so much build up since the lottery last summer. I’ve heard so many great things about Houston so I’m really excited to finally be able to run it. I’m also running the 5K day before – hello, bonus medals – with Brad. Well, Brad is a maybe. He sprained his ankle playing basketball while we were in Florida (probably trying to get out of having to drive on the way home) so he said he’ll make the final decision on Saturday. Either way he’ll be heading down there with me, so Houston here we come!

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5. The Verizon Wireless ambassador program is wrapping up this week and it was definitely a great experience. I learned a lot about the Verizon Edge program and new Isis Mobile Wallet, both of which I look forward to using in the future. One of the perks I received as an ambassador was a Samsung Galaxy S4 to use for the duration of the program. I’m not going to list out all of the technical specs because (1) your eyes will glaze over and (2) I don’t even understand what a lot of it means. The main thing I say to everyone who asks what I think of the S4 is that the battery is horrible. This may be because I came from the Droid Razr MAXX which had a much larger battery. I could stream Pandora in my car for 90 minutes on my way to work, use the phone intermittently throughout the day, stream Pandora for 90 minutes on my way home, and still end up at around 50% battery. With the S4, if Pandora is used on my way to work, the phone will need to be charged by early afternoon – even if I’m connected to the WiFi at the office. Hashtag first world problems. So now I listen to the radio in the morning instead. I’ve tweaked many of the settings but even with minimal use I’m usually at about 40% after 12 hours off the charger.

Okay, so now on to the non-battery related things. The camera is excellent! It’s just average in low-light (concert photos turn out not so hot) and at night, but for everything else the pictures are great. The screen is huge and super bright, even when the setting is at 50%. The Samsung-affiliated apps are nothing to write home about, with the exception of S Memo and WatchON. S Memo is exactly what you’d expect, a note-taking app. WatchON allows you to turn your phone into a remote for your TV. Rather than scrolling through your provider’s channel guide, WatchON recommends shows to you based on your preferences. You just press the photo of the show you want to view and voila, your TV switches to that channel. Pretty cool feature and the recommendations are always spot on.

WatchON App

Also (this is minor) since I own a Samsung Tablet, I really appreciate that the two run on the same operating system. When I had a Motorola phone, it was somewhat annoying to go back and forth between the two devices. Now everything looks almost identical. Also minor, but there are a lot more options when it comes to cases. My current favorite is the Spigen Neo Hybrid – very simple and lightweight.

Overall, I really like the phone. My main issue is with the battery and it’s probably only because I was majorly spoiled with the Razr MAXX. I carry a portable charger (purchased with my own dollars, not provided by VZW) with me when heading to concerts where the camera will drain my battery or when I’ll be away from an outlet for most of the day. I also connect to WiFi at the office and at work, which helps avoid battery draining caused by roaming. Would I recommend the phone? YES. But if you’re a heavy data user, you may want to look into an extended battery or portable charger so you aren’t SOL mid-day.

Tell me something about your Tuesday. Or Wednesday, since this went up way later than I originally planned.

Ditching Your Wallet

Disclosure: I’m a Verizon Wireless Voices SE Ambassador and have been provided a phone to use through the duration of this program. No other compensation was received. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Aside from when I’m heading to work, I am 100% anti-wallet. For going out to dinner or nights out on the town, I toss my debit card, ID, and phone into a wristlet and that’s it. And I’ll usually keep my card and phone in my pocket when heading out to the grocery store or to run errands. No reason to lug the giant wallet around with every credit and discount card I own. Sure it’s easy and convenient, but sometimes I freak out a little when I need the debit card and my pockets are empty. Like when I’m at the gas pump searching for my card and realize it’s still in yesterday’s pants. That’s always a fun little surprise. So when I heard about Verizon’s Isis Mobile Wallet, I was obviously intrigued.

Isis - Pay With Your Phone

Isis Mobile Wallet is an Android app which allows you to pay for items with your phone at participating merchants. You can also load all of your loyalty cards into the app so everything is stored in one place and you can rid your key ring of those pesky mini plastic cards. Isis requires a Secure Element (SE) SIM card – you can pick this up for free from Verizon – which will keep your personal data encrypted and safe.

How Isis Works

The app also allows you to search nearby participating retailers while you’re on-the-go. Currently Isis is available in over 20,000 locations across the country. American Express, Chase, and Wells Fargo credit cards are all compatible with the Isis app. An alternative is to set up an American Express Serve account that you can add money to with your credit card, debit card, or bank account. Now through January 31, Serve is giving customers 20% back (up to $200) on all transactions made using Isis Mobile Wallet. You can learn more about American Express Serve here.

Verizon has uploaded several videos to YouTube to help breakdown each of the functions of Isis and they’re definitely worth a look. From setting up the app to adding your cards to making your first purchase at a participating retailer, this page covers it all.

Find the Isis Mobile Wallet App on your carrier :: Verizon :: T-Mobile :: AT&T

What do you think of the idea of a Mobile Wallet? Would you be comfortable using it over traditional cards?

The World is Ending

Well, probably not, but at least that’s how it looks outside right now. The forecast is calling for thunderstorms all day and then temps in the mid-70s over the weekend. On my commute Monday morning I couldn’t crank the heat high enough to fully thaw out (I know you people enduring tundra-like negative degree weather are scoffing right now, but temps in the teens are pretty much tundra-like for Austinites) and then last night on my way home the air conditioning was on. Texas, I will never understand you.

My first week back to work after the glorious 16-day hiatus was definitely a clusterfuck and I am pretty psyched it’s only a few short hours from being over. My email is caught up and I can somewhat see my desk again, so I guess progress has been made. But it sure doesn’t feel that way. I spend the weeks leading up to and following a vacation freaking out because of what could/did happen while out of the office. But that vacation was totally worth it.

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So now the weekend is almost here and my to-do list is overflowing because the end of the month is already booked for Houston & the “I’m no longer in my 20s” Pity Party. It’s time to focus on whipping the office into shape, which is one of the things on my 30 Things (creative, no?) list. And speaking of that list, I should probably finish making it. 30 Things currently consists of 15 things, so I’ll need to come up with a quite a few more this weekend. Finding items that are a good balance of “easily attainable” and “ridiculously impossible” is interesting to say the least.

One thing I can put a big satisfying check mark next to is fixing all of the broken links here on STAMT. Well if that wasn’t a monster project. One of my resolutions in 2014 should be to not include 1200 links in every post. There were even some that still linked back to posts with the We Run for Wine address! 2012 was the most time consuming to fix because I found the need to participate in these little challenges where I’d post every.single.day of the month, whether I had legitimate content or not. You know what that results in? Garbage posts. Garbage posts full of broken links. Oy vey. LESSON LEARNED.

Anyway, back to that whole office task. Who out there reads an affordable interior design blog that wants to share the link with me? I’ve been researching a lot of the ideas I have on Pinterest and then I inevitably get sucked into the black hole that is Etsy. And before I know it I’ve lost three hours and my cart is filled with $200 worth of crap I don’t need – and $100 worth of shipping fees. So basically I need some blogs to stalk for ideas and then I’ll head to Hobby Lobby to buy the stuff for 75% cheaper.

I sent Brad to Target yesterday to buy new sheets for the bed in the office and as it turns out, even men can’t escape that store with only what they intended to buy. So now we have this fancypants new drawer organizer (for the shiny new silverware):

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Kitchen-related things are my FAVORITE. Seriously, if you buy me a spatula we’ll probably be best friends forever. Except don’t really buy me a spatula because I already have three. Anyway, this drawer organizer was completely unnecessary but apparently he hated our old one so much that he wanted it replaced ASAP. Oddly enough, I had looked at them when buying the silverware last weekend but was like, “nahhhh, we don’t really need a new one.” Guess I was wrong.

And he also came home with a new – well, is it still considered new if we didn’t have one to begin with? – doormat:

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Maybe we’ll be able to explain to Sox how to use this so she doesn’t tattoo her muddy pawprints all over our carpet and couches. Not holding my breath on that one.

Speaking of the little devil, WHY IS SHE HUGE? Here’s your daily puppy photo, whether you like it or not:

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Now, fork over the links to your favorite interior design blogs.

In 2014, I Will Run

And that’s it.

In the past I’ve declared a certain distance or time as my goal for that particular year. Whether it be to run a full marathon or PR in the half, I was always worked towards something running-related with a number tied to it. In 2013 I stepped away from that approach and simply wanted to focus on quality over quantity. Unfortunately, I didn’t exactly follow through on that.

2013 Austin Races

I jammed a million races into the spring and didn’t PR any of them. Don’t get me wrong: I know not every race is going to be at a hard effort and yield satisfying results, but at least one of them should have in order to meet my goal of “quality > quantity”. Sometimes I get registration happy and want to sign up for every single race out there.

I managed to restrain myself from registering for the Rogue Distance Festival, and a handful of local 5Ks & 10Ks. All were fairly affordable and probably could have been squeezed into the budget, but somehow I made it into the spring with the same two races on my schedule that have been there since July: Houston Half & Austin Half. And I’ve decided not to “race” either of them. The holidays/road trip threw somewhat of a wrench in my training and running was put on the backburner. ALL MY FAULT. Not blaming anyone but myself. If Houston let you defer without having to pay again next year, I’d defer to 2015. But since they don’t and the hotel is already booked, to Houston I go.

So what’s next? Ragnar Relay Cape Cod with Oiselle Team

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FINALLY! My first relay. I had hoped to run Hood to Coast with Nuun the past two years, but that didn’t pan out. I had planned on applying again in 2014 but we booked a trip to Mexico for that same week, and well, Mexico wins. Always. Back in the fall Jill tweeted about getting together a team of Oiselle runners for Ragnar Cape Cod. After countless emails back and forth, team Flock You Like a Hurricane was born + registered. So in the beginning of May I’ll be heading up to Cape Cod to run a 200-mile relay with Oiselle teammates I’ve never met. God I love the internet.

Head-Up-Wings-Out

And then after that? Who knows! I’m forgoing a spring goal race and focusing solely on Ragnar. I’ll probably have a goal race in the fall (in addition to Ragnar Trail Hill Country in October, depending on whether or not my sister decides to get married that weekend) but I don’t want to rush into it or even start thinking about which race until April or May. I don’t want history to repeat itself so instead of racing the crap out of the spring and being burnt out by May, I want to enjoy no-pressure miles in the spring.

So that’s the plan for 2014. I will run, plain & simple.

Fun While It Lasted

Well it’s a sad day, friends. Not only is it Monday, but also my long vacation from work has officially come to an end. I’m lucky enough to work for a company that operates on a “non-accrual” PTO policy, which basically means you can take off however many days you want. These days are subject to manager approval but as long as your work is done and your requests aren’t excessive, the number of PTO days you take in any given year is up to you. I’ve read that companies expect employees to take 3-4 weeks off per year under this policy, but in 2013 my days totaled just over 2 weeks. Definitely not going to be the person who abuses that policy.

Anyway, since I don’t take many days off during the year I was able to use 6 PTO days to create a 16 day holiday vacation for myself. Initially we were planning on going back to work on the 2nd, but the idea of going back for only Thursday + Friday seemed silly (and painful) so we took the additional two days. You know how after a vacation you find yourself wishing you had a vacation from your vacation before going back to work? That’s pretty much what that was. The road trip and all of the traveling wreaked havoc on our sleep schedules – which is why I slept through NYE – so it was nice to have a few extra days to reset before going back to the grind.

You probably hate me now. Sorry about that.

While the days off were certainly relaxing, they were also very productive. On Thursday we did all of our laundry from the trip. Brad took the dogs to the park and I went shopping for baking sheets. I came home with new baking sheets, cake pans, a muffin tin, a loaf pan, and new silverware. Still not sure how I ended up with all of that stuff. Whoops. Our previous bakeware and silverware sets were ~8 years old, so they could be somewhat justified. But probably not. But oooh, look how pretty the new silverware is:

silverware

Thursday night we went to see the Wolf of Wall Street. I read the book awhile back (‘09 or ‘10) and was really excited to see it was being made into a movie. The reviews were so-so and some people seemed to be genuinely horrified by it. Let’s be serious here: it’s a movie about Wall Street. Obviously there’s going to be sex, drugs, excessive spending, and a hell of a lot of cursing. Maybe I was prepared because I read the book. Maybe I was prepared because I expected it out of a movie directed by Scorsese exposing the lavish lifestyle of stock brokers. Either way, just know this: if you’re a modest (or even somewhat-modest person), this movie might make you ridiculously uncomfortable. After all, the movie set the all-time record for the use of the F-word.

On Friday the Christmas decorations came down. This is kind of a big deal considering we usually we keep them up until my birthday on the 21st. But the weekend before my birthday is the Houston Marathon and the weekend after I have friends in town to help me mourn the loss of my 20s. I really didn’t want to wait until February 1st to take them down so it happened this weekend. And I’m not really upset about it. The house looks so clean now.

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Saturday I did some work on the office. Someday this room will be done. I emptied a huge filing cabinet that basically held every important (and some “WTF did I save this for?”) document from 2002-2009. You know, just in case I’m curious how much I paid for electric in October 2004 ($89.52) or what my rent was in 2008 (more than our current mortgage payment). I filled up a laundry basket with paperwork that needed to be shredded and that thing was HEAVY. Then I went through the manila folder labeled “To Be Filed” that has been sitting on the desk since 2010 and created hanging folders for each category, filing each paper away into its new home. There’s still a little more work to do (pictures need to be hung, desk needs to be cleaned off, etc.) but it’s getting there. Paula, here’s your progress photo:

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Sunday morning Brad went out and bought a shredder. We spent over 5 hours shredding our own crap, plus a giant box of his mom’s paperwork. Six garbage bags later, anything with personal information on it had been converted into confetti. Then I deep-cleaned the kitchen and the bathroom. Our counter space in the kitchen is pretty limited so I moved a few things into cabinets and a few things into our bookcase.

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All wine and booze now live amongst our many leather-bound books. And this corner of the house smells like rich mahogany. I’m slightly upset about how empty that wine rack is. Don’t worry friend, I’ll fill you up soon.

After cleaning the bathroom and organizing hair products + makeup, I decided it was time to bring my makeup brushes out of the drawer they’ve been living in. Now they’re out on the vanity for easy access (thank you, Pinterest):

makeup brush container

So now that the laundry is done, the Christmas decorations are gone, the kitchen is clean, and the office is somewhat organized, I feel a little bit better about going back to work. There’s something about a clean + organized house that calms me. Here’s hoping this first week back is quiet and uneventful!

Oh, and a puppy photo, because… why not?

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Upgrade Early with Verizon Edge

Disclosure: I’m a Verizon Wireless Voices SE Ambassador and have been provided a phone to use through the duration of this program. No other compensation was received. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Back in my younger days when I was much less wise, I had countless short-term relationships with phones. I frequently drove with a cup of iced tea in my cup holder. I also drove with my phone in my cup holder. A handful of times those two things happened simultaneously and byebye cell phone. I’ve left a phone at the bar and returned in the morning only to be told it hadn’t been turned in. I’ve had a phone thrown off my second story patio by an ex-boyfriend and watched it shatter into a million pieces. Unfortunately for my meager 20-something bank account, these things always happened outside of the window for a discounted upgrade. Full retail = see ya later, paycheck.

Thankfully as years went by I learned to take better care of my cell phone. But since technology changes so fast these days, I find myself wishing for a better phone only a year into my contract term. Your smartphone is basically outdated the second you walk out of the store with it. Whether you’re looking for Siri to answer all of life’s problems or a camera with higher megapixels, there’s always something bigger and better out there. A majority of the population will wait until they’re eligible for an upgrade rather than plunk down full retail to purchase the latest and greatest device, myself included.

Verizon recently launched a program that might have been able to save my ass back in the day AND gives me the opportunity to try something new much earlier right now. Rather than waiting the standard 24 months to upgrade at a discounted price, Verizon Edge lets you upgrade every year if you want – and there’s no long-term service contract to worry about.

 

Here’s how it works: first, you choose the phone you want. All phones offered by Verizon are eligible on Edge. I’ll use the Samsung Galaxy S4 as an example, which retails for $599.99. This is spread over a 24 month period, so with taxes/fees you’ll add $25.22 to your monthly bill. Once you’ve paid for 50% of the phone (which in most cases will be 12 months) you can upgrade again! At first the idea of tacking on an extra $25 to your bill each month might not be appealing, but it’s really no different than shelling out $200ish dollars to upgrade. It’s a matter of spreading the amount across 24 months versus dropping a large chunk of cash up front.

With the Verizon Edge program you’ll receive a data plan capped at 6GB. Before you get bent out of shape, know that this is a fairly large amount of data. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the internet in general more often than I’d like to admit, and the most data I’ve ever used in a month is 4GB. And I’m pretty sure a lot of that usage was due to having the GPS enabled. 6GB should be plenty to get you through each month.

Verizon Edge - Verizon Wireless

Verizon is currently running a great promotion for customers trading up to the Edge program that includes free activation, a waived initial monthly payment, and a $100 Verizon gift card to buy as many phone cases + other accessories (I recommend this one, it’s a lifesaver) as your little heart desires. Interested? Make sure you take advantage soon – it expires on January 15, 2014!

Good Intentions

So it’s that time of year where we all pledge to quit things (coffee, smoking, drinking) or start doing things (read more, save money, go to the gym) or just strive to be a better person all around. After two weeks of reading 2013 recaps and 2014 resolutions, it’s very clear people either love making resolutions or think they’re absolutely dumb. I creeped back in my archives and found resolution posts for 2011/2012/2013 filled with aspirations to live a better life each year. Pretty sure those lists didn’t get revisited once the calendar flipped past March. Best laid plans, I suppose.

The road outside my house is paved with good intentions.

So this year, this dreaded wonderful first year of my thirties, the focus will be on different things than I’d normally put on a resolution/goals list. Instead of resolving to drink my body weight in water daily (which will probably happen anyway) or quit sugar (which will never happen in a million years), I want to finally get my passport. And master pivot tables and circular references in Excel. And finish decluttering + reorganizing the damn office. You know, adult-ish things.

I’m still trying to come up with something more clever than “30 Things for 30 Years”. HELP. Once the list is done and has a non-lame name, it’ll live on a separate page on the blog for all the world to see. Accountability, people! That’s why we put this crap on the internet, right? Then I’ll obviously shout it from the rooftops when I check one of those babies off the list.

Let’s dub 2014 as “The Year to Get Shit Done”. What big thing are YOU planning to tackle this year?