Mo-mo-more?

We’re in Rockford for the holiday, having moved the majority of our material possessions to Chicago three days ago. The last two days have been full of cookies and presents and traditions and relaxed family time. Max has been running around playing with trains and pointing at various delicious things and saying “mo-mo-more”, his voice lilting upward as he points at the object of his desire.

I mention this because as I look forward to 2012, what I want most is mo-mo-more. More time with friends and family. More travel. More flowers, more movies, and more amazing food. More miles. More love, more patience, and more connection in my relationships and with the world. So this post is me reaching my hands in the air and asking the universe for what I want in the next year:

  1. This year was about running further. 2012 will be about running faster in at least two half marathons plus the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.
  2. I want to take better photos of more than just food, though better food photos would also be progress. I want to take a class, read a book, participate in an online workshop – in general learn more about the fancy DSLR we bought almost three years ago. And then apply that knowledge for good, not for evil.
  3. I’m reasonably certain that the only movie I saw in the theater this year was the final Harry Potter installment. With two movie theaters within a mile of our new place, we should have no excuse – other than lousy offerings – to see fewer than 12 movies in the theater.
  4. I want to write more letters – at least one per week. Do you want to be my pen pal?
  5. I need to find a job in Chicago, as it will make many of these mores possible. More time with my family as they’ll be 75 minutes away instead of 5-7 hours. More time with many many Chicago friends (though less time with A2 friends). A new and exciting city life for the two of us. I’ve loved my MPub job, but I need to be in Chicago.
  6. I wanted to bake 24 unique loaves this year. We made significant changes in our diet over the summer, and I haven’t really baked since then. I think, however, that one pie per month is a reasonable goal.
  7. Bourbon and I got back together in 2012, but I need to have more in my cocktail repetoire than the trusty Manhattan. There will be many opportunities to drink fancy cocktails in our new ‘hood, but I want to master at least one new cocktail at home per month.
  8. We took a fun road trip vacation over the summer, and I took solo trips to Philly, DC, and New York for work, races, and fun. I would like more of the same this year, beginning with my birthday weekend in California and possibly including a trip to Europe after the semester wraps up.
  9. More books read: finish the 2/3 challenge, keep up with my book club, and hammer away at the To Read lists while reading at least two books per month.
  10. Step up my game and learn to do alterations so that I can finally finish all of the half projects in my closet.
  11. More feats of strength! More push-ups. More miles on Orange. And maybe, just maybe, a pull-up.
  12. And, most importantly, more time connecting with the important people in my life. I’m not sure how to quantify this other than to say that I want to fight my introvert nature and say ‘yes’ more than ‘no’ for lunches with friends, dates with my husband, or visits to my family.

What will you do in the new year?

Things I am Excited About Now That I’m Feeling Better and School is Out

Because seriously, I’ve been sick almost three weeks.  I’ve been on medication since Saturday and am feeling dramatically better, but until I’m done with these stupid metal-mouth meds, I’m still sick.

  1. The garden! Hoping to buy some plants and put some seeds in the ground this weekend.  Which reminds me that instead of doing crossword puzzles and eating Arctic Zero (not recommended), I should be figuring out where and what I’m going to plant.
  2. Knitting! I have barely touched my needles or my stash since finishing my socks in February, and I have a sweater all ready to start – I just have to, well, start it.
  3. Running!  This stupid sick has kept me off the roads long enough.  My last long run was the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, which was over a month ago.  Since then I’ve put in a handful of consistently paced 3-4 milers, but nothing close to double digits, which is what I should be doing in preparation for the Dexter-Ann Arbor half in a few weeks.  Side note: when I went to the doctor last weekend, I remarked that at this time last year, I was sidelined from running and in to see her because of knee pain which, amazingly, has almost completely subsided.  Better to be sidelined for something treatable – like this stupid sick – than for a serious or chronic injury!
  4. The farmers’ market!  Seriously, we haven’t been since October – and didn’t go that often last fall because we were overwhelmed with produce from our garden – and because one or the other of us was out of town so often.  A good problem to have, but I miss the Saturday morning routine and the opportunity to bump into so many friends all in the same place.
  5. So many upcoming weekend trips!  By the end of June, we’re going to be SO HAPPY to have a weekend at home – but for now, before we’re in the middle of it, I’m eagerly anticipating a weekend in Rockford for Max’s birthday, Cleveland/Dayton for Trav + Kristen’s shower and to see Linda + Jeremiah + Milo, Chicago for Dan + Laura’s reception and to see friendos, New York to visit Carrie, and then Cleveland again for Trav + Kristen’s wedding.

Vacation Math

Investment:

  • 3 vacation days (3 months’ worth of accrual at the previous rate)
  • $113.38 in gas (with 1/2 tank left)
  • $28 for my share of groceries
  • $92 for my share of three nights at a farmhouse in rural Illinois

Yield:

  • Three nights up way past my bedtime talking about everything under the sun with five of my best ladies
  • Three mornings up with the sun nursing my coffee and observing my friends finding their way into parenthood
  • Shoulders to cry on, strong arms to bounce babies, noses crinkled with laughter, shiny painted toenails
  • Bottomless tins of cookies, boxes of fried pies, and bottles of wine
  • Prairie rain giving way to fog giving way to a remarkable morning just in time to drive home
  • Two runs on country roads so quiet that the only sounds were the breeze, my footsteps, and the crackling of the power lines overhead.
  • Too too many sweets (and broccoli) – but also homemade lasagna, amazingly golden roasted chicken (raised across the street), home fries made in the leftover chicken fat, Nutella crepes, and a lot of Chupacabras
  • Stepping out of a hot shower onto a heated ceramic tile floor and into warmed towels in the fancy master bath
  • Making Shane’s day by stopping at a yard sale on my way out of town because there were mopeds I’d never seen before.  Oh yes, and then driving home with one of them in the back of RS.

All told, a quite good investment, even if I did come home sick (again) and with no photos to show for it.

Friday this and that

In no particular order, a list of things I am very much looking forward to:

  1. Taco Tuesday, which I have missed for lo these many weeks since the semester started on January 18.  I will eat hella al pastor tacos and all will be right with the world.
  2. Visiting Champaign and seeing GSLIS peeps this weekend, even though I have a full day of teaching on Saturday. Related: the Esquire! Cheap beer and free bowls of peanuts! Drinks at Boltini! Working at Kopi! Sam’s French toast! Beer at the Pig or Mike & Molly’s!  Champaign, my love, I haven’t forgotten you!
  3. Springtime is coming, right?
  4. Two of our best dudebros coming up from DC next weekend for beer and shenanigans!  Hopefully we will NOT watch The Room this time.
  5. Hanging with Baby Sipes at ACRL, then going down to DC for the weekend to see many friendos, eat many things, and run many miles.  OMG I CANNOT WAIT.  Related: everything about the Galaxy Hut! Baked & Wired cupcakes!  Running with Team Astronaut Mike Dexter!
  6. Springtime running.  Late spring running.  Early summer running.  Any running other than heavy winter running.
  7. The arrival of a delightful assortment of energy gels that I ordered from Hammer Nutrition earlier in the week.
  8. Possibly driving to Toronto in April to see Sarah.  Visiting a formerly Canadian friend while she is in Canada just seems appropriate, you know?
  9. Shane’s birthday and our first anniversary!  Can’t believe it’s been almost a year, omg hearts.
  10. Another long weekend with my ladies from grad school.  This year we’re going to Peoria instead of Carbondale, and we’ll also have two babies in tow.  I’m hoping for lots of girl talk and wine coolers and laughter.
  11. The end of the semester will be here before you even know it!  Seriously, we’re half done, and I canNOT believe it.
  12. Ordering stuff for the garden.  Planting stuff for the garden.  The garden.
  13. Using that spa gift certificate that Shane got me for my birthday just as soon as I have a half weekend day free.

Friday this and that

Things I’m into right now:
1. Essential Mixes have been carrying me through long workdays of literature reviews and conference prep.
2. THREE DAYS left at my current job! I start here on 28 February.
3. I’m in desperate need of a pedicure. I might treat myself after tomorrow’s seven mile run. (OMG, running seven miles)

Things I do not like:
1. The weird faces in reddit rage comics.
2. Brak, at least in his appearances on Space Ghost thus far.

Things that do not exist as far as I know, but really should:
1. A website that shows you all of your available transit options between two locations, including schedules and pricing. One-click booking would be ideal. Use case: I want to travel from DC to NYC. My options include several bus lines, flights from three nearby airports, the Acela, car rental, etc.
2. A website that lets you input your price range, then shows you your flight (or, ideally, all transit) options. Example: I want to spend up to $300 on airfare for my upcoming vacation. Where can I go if I book my tickets today?
3. A coffeeshop along the lines of Aroma, Kopi, or Paradiso. Adequate coffee, free wireless, and affordable lunch options. As far as I’m concerned, these things are essential to grad school success, and are woefully absent in A2.
4. Even better, I would like the above in my neighborhood. Or any kind of cafe within a few blocks of my house.

12 Books #4: Blue Highways

Blue Highways

I’ll freely admit that I didn’t finish my January book for 12 Books, 12 Months. And you know what? That’s OK. I read – am reading –Blue Highways, by William Least Heat-Moon.  Out of a relationship and out of a job, the author sets off in his mostly-trusty van to travel the country on the “blue highways” or back roads.  Rather than a clichéd “finding yourself on the road” story, Blue Highways has been – at least thus far – a rambling love song to forgotten and wonderful pockets of our country.  I look forward to finishing it at my leisure, which I think is totally appropriate given the subject matter.

2011 Resolutions

I usually like to give myself until my birthday to make resolutions and to report in on those from the previous year. This year, however, I’m pretty set on my list, and if I post it today, that gives me almost 13 months to complete the following:

  1. Expand my bread repertoire by baking 2 new types per month.  I can make a solid sandwich loaf, but there are many more loaves to try!
  2. Knit socks.  I’m there.  I can do this.
  3. Run the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.  If my knee, winter training, or finances prevent this, run at least one 10K.
  4. Continue saving aggressively for a down-payment on a house.  We’re hoping to buy this summer, but it might be advantageous to wait another year, which is why this resolution is ‘save’ not ‘buy’.
  5. Complete the 25 Recipes challenge, in which we attempt to master 25 recipes that we’ve been intending to try.
  6. Learn to accessorize.  I love the look of scarves, jewelry, and all of that, but haven’t spent much time figuring out how to work those things into my wardrobe.
  7. Make a decision about grad school.  Do I need/want more of it? In what field? This decision will largely be influenced on my job situation.
  8. Sock away 3 months’ worth of my half of the household budget (approx $4500).  I worked on this in 2009, was un/underemployed for a few months, and then got a job that pays $15,000 less than I was making when we established our budgets. I’ll be posting about this and other financial goals on How I Am Not Spending Money.  Hopefully extra income from teaching will help with this.
  9. Survive my first semester of teaching.  Can I tell you how intimidated I am about this?  It’s a little paralyzing.
  10. Take a solo trip and a vacation with SB.  We’re thinking Portland or San Francisco, and I’m thinking that my reward for #9 should be a trip to NYC.

What do you want to do in the new year?

Moments of Clarity

The first few days after a vacation are often filled with a sense of peace and clarity about things. I’m guessing this happens to everyone, right? Depending on the length of the trip, you may have had time to fall into a new, more relaxed routine. You haven’t had to go to work, so when you return to the office, you either have a renewed sense of focus about your work – or the blinders are off about all the things you hate. Maybe you’ve had a lot of good food, or maybe you drank too much, but either way, you’re committed to new(ly) good habits.

When I came home from visiting Oday in France, I relished the few days before my body acclimated to the proper time zone.  I got up early and enjoyed my coffee outside before work.  After Spain, I just walked and walked and walked and walked.    Most of my trips in the last two years have been for work or family events, so I feel like this is the first big reset in a while.

Today I’m finding it a little easier to unsubscribe from those listservs and RSS feeds that I’m just not interested in reading anymore.  I have a little more willpower about the candy dish on the other side of the office, though I did just grab a couple of Tootsie Rolls to help with the afternoon dra-a-a-a-g.  I feel less frustrated and more serene about my work situation, though I also feel like I need to have more interaction with people.  I’m enjoying reading more than I have in a while.  The weather is exquisite, though I was absolutely blinded by the sun this morning.  I’m sure in a few days this will turn into a post-vacation funk, but for now, things are good.

Things I’m Super Into At the Moment

A brief list in a few moments of stolen Internet:

  1. The crazy serious SF coffee scene, including but not limited to the beautiful equipment and perfect coffee at Blue Bottle and Four Barrel.
  2. So much walking.  I love it but am not walking anywhere for a few days when we get home.  Including to the end of the driveway.
  3. Lemon cookie ice cream from Three Twins.
  4. Very nearly swooning from joy at Ferry Plaza Saturday morning.
  5. Lots of unlimited quality time with my husband.
  6. Sweet corn in pasta and frittatas and with lots of other summer veg over creamy grits.
  7. Finding hella cheap housing through Airbnb.  Seriously, $40/night in Noe Valley?  Yes please.
  8. Stripes, apparently.  Today I wore a black/white striped tank top under a grey/white striped top with black/grey striped knee socks.
  9. It’s knee sock weather out here, u guys.  It’s also blustery, and I’m Not Into That.
  10. Whirlwind tours of awesome things courtesy of Kiya and Demitra.

2 days to #12books!

Wow, guys, you’re totally blowing me away with your enthusiasm and also your impressive reading lists!

Shane and I are off to San Francisco for our honeymoon on Wednesday, so look for the sign up round up post towards the end of the week, and for reviews from both of us of our first books when we get home!  For the record, I’ve started with The Winter Queen, while Shane is reading Kitchen Confidential on his new and fancy-pants Kindle.