November 20, 2014

Erin Condren Life Planner 2015

I just ordered my fancy, new Erin Condren life planner for 2015. If you want one, this link will get you $10 off:

Why am I buying a $50 paper planner? What is this, 2003? Here's the deal. I live by Google Calendar. I have one for races, training, work, birthdays and anniversaries, and they're all magnificently color-coded and synced. But they're just digital appointments and reminders. There are no notes about FEELINGS, or milestones. My Augusta Google Calendar has my training plan, but my paper planner has a year's worth of notes about how I FELT during my training. There are stickers and exclamation marks every time I did something for the first time, met a goal, or lost weight. It's so satisfying to have something you can flip back through and see your progress. For instance, here's my first entry:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014
*180 lbs
Trainer ride, 30 min
Strength, 30 min
First day with TriSuccess! Feel like a badass!
Had pie for lunch. You can lead a horse to water...

*The author would like you to know that she's currently weighing in at a svelte 159 lbs, thank you very much.

Last year's planner

Last year I chose one of the super cute classic covers, but this year I went off the range. I noticed on Instagram that a lot of girls have covers I couldn't find on Erin Condren's site. I did a Google search and found an image that took me to Etsy. Y'all, there are Etsy sellers that make you custom covers for just $5! So yeah, I totally bought one of those.

Let my online detective work be your gain. It looks like there are two Etsy sellers who specialize in EC covers:

Evelyn Lane

I went with Evelyn Lane because she is offering 15% off everything right now. She was great and easy to work with. And P.S. if you're new to Etsy, here's a link that gives me referral credit:

So here's the deal. These planners already cost $50 ($40 if you use that link up top) + $8 for shipping. They're not cheap. To do what I did will cost you an additional $15:  $5 for the Etsy cover, $5 to EC to upload your own front cover, and another $5 to upload your back cover.

I'm a special snowflake and it was worth it in my case, but I want to be up front about the additional cost. Also, figuring out how to do this isn't intuitive, so if you decide to go this route, here's a step-by-step guide:

  • Buy the Etsy cover and save the png(s) to your computer
  • Select the 2014-2015 EC life planner - picture this! full frame - custom colorway
  • I didn't want any additional text on my cover, but EC doesn't give you a way out of this, so I opted for a black "2015", which I did by selecting Black as both my primary and accent color, then selecting Other under Personalization and typing "2015" into Line 1.
  • Under Capitalization, I chose the "as sampled" option
  • Upload your front and back covers. The images will then show up in the boxes under "front cover" and "back cover". Mine didn't do this the first time and I had to start all over. It seems to be a bug in her site. It worked the second time.
  • Under Special Instructions, I clicked the "no thanks" option. The other $15 option is if you want to do more than upload images for the front and/or back cover.
  • Double check that your shizz is correct, then hit Continue, and you can take it from there.

Her site's a little clunky and could use some updating and a more streamlined way to customize and purchase, but I forgive her because I love these planners so much.

Happy planning!

November 17, 2014

Weekend Wrap Up: Yes Please Edition

Friday night manicure. Essie No More Film and Sephora Only Gold For Me glitter topcoat.

Early Saturday morning I took a 5-mile performance test at Endeavor Performance. It was real hard. I went HAM. I came in 4th place. The End!

I rode so hard, y'all. I was in 5th place the first half of the ride. As I started getting close to the person in 4th place, I was able to pass her and stay ahead of her. It's probably the fastest I've ever ridden. Todd crouched down behind me for the last few minutes and got me to sprint to the end and keep my 4th place status. When it was over, I stood up on my bike to relieve my soft bits and tipped over. Why? HAM, that's why.

Parnassus Books turned 3 over the weekend and to celebrate, emailed 20% off coupons to use in the store on Saturday. Yes Please by Amy Poehler? Don't mind if I do! Buying books at Parnassus is one of my favorite things to do in Nashville. Second only to yelling "Hello!" to Ann Patchett when I run past her walking her dog in the morning. A behavior I'm simultaneously embarrassed about and unable to stop. I love everyone that works in Parnassus, but I especially love Bill. When I was checking out, Bill said, "My, look at your nails!", which is pretty much the highest compliment you can pay me.

John's car is a truck now. A fact that we're both hilariously in denial about. But we got our first truck request over the weekend. Friends Keith and Nicole (Urban, yes) needed help with a couch. I snapped this pic of Linda on our way out because it's the way she looks at us every time we go somewhere, like she couldn't be more disappointed in us. Because I like to come up with pun-y memoir titles in my spare time, I came up with this one for Linda, Where Are You Guys Going:  The Linda McCartney Story.

Melanie and I were scheduled to run 6 miles on Sunday. The weather has not been kind to us. The temperature for our Friday run was 18 degrees, and on Sunday, it was POURING. And also still really cold. Six miles isn't that far, so we ran our 6 rainy miles and then treated ourselves to coffee and breakfast biscuits at Dose.

A few hours after my rain-run, I started to feel sick, which should surprise no one who tracked my fitness this weekend. I decided pho would make me feel better, so we went down the street to Vn Pho & Deli. The pho was delicious, but I am definitely sick. We spent the rest of the day on the couch watching Twin Peaks.

November 13, 2014

Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga -- Doing It!

A week ago, Ironman announced a new 70.3. And guess where it is? Chattanooga! Prior to this, I was planning on doing Augusta again with some of my Nashville tri friends. I loved Augusta and was looking forward to racing it again and trying for a faster finish time. But ultimately I went with Chattanooga because:

travel expense
race date
future race plans.

The location is a no-brainer. Chattanooga is a 2-hour drive from Nashville, as opposed to Augusta, which is a 6-hour drive. This means I can buzz up to Chattanooga on the weekends and train on the course, which is HUGE.

The travel expenses incurred during Augusta were substantial:  gas, food, hotel, etc. It added up. Chattanooga will be cheaper primarily because it's closer. I also won't need a hotel. I have friends in Chattanooga who have graciously offered up their homes for training weekends, as well as the actual race.

The race date, May 17, is a deterrent for a lot of people because it's so early in the season, but I like that it's early. Oh, and my birthday is May 20, so DUH. I trained well for Augusta and I've maintained it for the most part. If I follow the same 20-week training plan, I'll start training on Dec. 29, which is 7 weeks away. I like that I won't have those bleak winter months to lose my training and gain Christmas weight. I was worried if I did Augusta, that by the time I started training, I would be starting from scratch. I also like getting my big race over with early in the season and spending the rest of the summer doing fun, local races.

We all remember how vehemently I decreed 2 weeks after Augusta that a 140.6 just wasn't in the stars for me. Show of hands if you actually believed that. No one? That's what I thought. Well, you were all right. About a month to the day after Augusta, my friend Marne talked me into doing a 140.6 in 2016, which is the year I turn 40 (hashtag: fabulous by forty).

So.... the new plan is volunteer at IM 140.6 Chattanooga in 2015 (same day as Augusta) and race IM 140.6 Chattanooga in 2016. Also on the table is IM 140.6 Lake Placid with Marne in 2016. My hesitation with Lake Placid is cost and distance. I want people to see me do my first 140.6 and Lake Placid is too far to expect people to travel. The cost of flying me, John and my bike there, plus hotel probably rules this one out. But I have until June to decide, so we'll see.

Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga 2015 -- doing it! Ironman 140.6 Chattanooga 2016 -- probably doing it!

Yours forever in HAM,

November 10, 2014

Weekend Wrap Up: Anniversary Edition

This weekend was our anniversary. On Friday I stayed in, painted my nails and watched Mortified Nation on Netflix. Have you seen that? It's pretty hilarious and I highly recommend it.

Saturday morning I finally took a class at Endeavor Performance. I say finally because people have been telling me to take this class for a year. Congratulations, you all win. This class was awesome. It was also my first time on my bike since Augusta, which was 6 weeks ago. Oops! And ouch.

Todd is offering some free classes right now. I took a free beginner class on Saturday and I'm taking the free performance test this week. This is a whole other post, but it looks like I start training again in 7 weeks and, if I can swing it, these classes may be a new addition to my training. To be continued...

I spent Saturday afternoon sitting on an ice pillow and taking pictures of Linda. It's hard to tell, but her head is laying on her paws.Y'all, this dog.

Saturday was our 6-year wedding anniversary. John and I met and started dating in 2004, so this year is a cumulative 10 years together, which is so nuts, especially since 10 years ago, John was 15. Just kidding. Kind of.

For dinner Saturday night, we went to Margot. We had such an amazing time. I don't know why we don't eat there more often. I like the cozy atmosphere and the food is unbelievable. We had frog legs! And they were so good! Also, that cookie plate right now is on point. Trust.

Oy, Sunday. It was a rough start. Luckily, I just had to run 10 miles. I can do that on 1 hour of sleep (approx.) and a belly full of frog legs and wine. No problem! Sigh... I met my lady gang on Belmont Blvd and we ran Bongo to Bongo, shockingly without incident.

I stopped at the store on my way home and grabbed stuff to make crockpot dinner. I made this recipe from Erin's Food Files. It was delicious!

Still in marital celebration mode, we treated ourselves to a fancy movie. We saw Interstellar in IMAX at Opry Mills. It was totally worth it! Well, says the one Baldwin who didn't spend the rest of night reading Interstellar sub-Reddits.

For your perusal, here are 500 pictures from our 2008 wedding:

November 8, 2014

Birchbox Review: September

I loved this Birchbox despite being a little behind posting the review. Here's what I got!

Noir Cosmetics Long-Wear Eyeliner, $15

I've received a couple of good black eyeliner pencils via Birchbox lately. Maybe the universe wants me to wear black eyeliner. I like this one from Noir. It feels great going on, not stabby or pointy. It's made with vitamin E and jojoba oil. It's also waterproof, which I like. I still prefer my Bobbi Brown gel liner, but this is a great pencil.

Ruffian Dressing Room Nail Lacquer Remover Towelettes, $12

As someone who does her own nails once a week, I have a lot of opinions about nail polish remover products and their varied effectiveness. I love these towelettes! First of all, the towelette is a lot bigger than the typical ones you buy at drugstores. These don't have acetone, which means they don't smell and they don't strip your nail. They're actually scented, which seems like a bad idea, but isn't. And they remove the polish! A lot of towelettes I've used dry out or fill up before you finish all 10 nails. Not these! I love these a lot, but I'm going to have to think about $12 for a box of 10 (plus shipping).

Juliette Has a Gun Romantina, $120

Skin and Co Sicilian Light Serum, $47

My opinion still hasn't changed on serums. I don't believe in them, but I keep using the samples. No idea if this one does what it alleges to do, which is "restore firmness and clarity". Meh? Until someone proves me wrong, I think serums are a way to make women in their late thirties spend money in Sephora.

Ruffian Nail Lacquer in Naked, $10

Yes, finally! I've been in the market for a neutral/tan nail polish and this one is perfect! In a month, I've already used almost the whole bottle. Looks like I'll be buying this one.

Microdermamitt Makeup Remover Mitt, $28.50

Okay, this guy is why my review is so late. I didn't want to publish it until I tried this weird magnet mitt. The questions I have for this mitt couldn't fit into a Suburban. I'm so confused about how it works. How does it take off makeup, especially mascara and gel eyeliner, without cleanser? How does rinsing it with hand soap every night not make your face explode? How does it not have chemicals? HOW DOES IT WORK?

But it totally works. It's super soft and feels great on my dry, sensitive skin. And it really does take off all of my stubborn eye makeup. I don't know what kind of black magic makes this thing work, but I'm real into it. This mitt is the "Miracles" of Birchbox. (video NSFW)

November 3, 2014

Weekend Wrap Up: Halloweekend Edition

I LOVE Halloween! I mean, I looooooove Halloween. After a brisk Pancake Run on Friday morning, I saddled up to my coffee table to give myself a Halloween manicure while watching A Nightmare on Elm Street. "One, two, Freddy's coming for you..."

Once my nails were dry-ish, I went upstairs to evaluate my makeup situation and decide what, if anything, I needed to run out and buy for my costume. I went ahead and did my full makeup with stuff I already owned. I thought this looked too dark, so I ended up buying brighter eyeshadow.

Who wants cream cheese? When I was standing in Publix reading all of my recipes for the party, I was like, there's no way I need this much cream cheese. My math must be wrong. But no. Y'all, I used all of this cream cheese. All of it!

I love how every weekend, I'm like, oh, that's right, I'm training for a half marathon. I'm continuously surprised when the long run alert pops up on my phone. I needed to run 9 miles this weekend. This was a busy weekend for everyone, so I got up on Saturday and ran my 9 miles sans lady gang.

On Saturday night, we hosted our 6th annual Halloween party. John was Klaus Nomi. I was Pharaoh Williams. Don't know who Klaus Nomi is? Join the club. A Google image search should keep you occupied for awhile. I was a cross between Pharrell Williams and Cleopatra, which almost ended our marriage as apparently there's a 5,000 year difference between a pharaoh and Cleopatra. APPARENTLY.

Thanks to everyone who came out on Saturday night! Thank you for dressing up, thank you for eating all of that cream cheese, and thank you for appreciating the craftsmanship of John's costume despite having no idea who he was supposed to be.

Full Halloween Party photostream here.

October 29, 2014

2014 Reading Round Up, Part One

Oops! I forgot to do a reading round up this summer. Here's where I left off at the end of 2013. Since that post, I've read a whole new crop of books! See below for the complete list, as well as my woefully inarticulate reviews.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

I liked this book and I read it quickly. The short chapters are broken up by character, so you find yourself reading a lot in one sitting because it reads so quickly. I thought the ending was a little abrupt and could have gone further. The author's note at the end of the book is pretty fascinating. I assumed the entire book was fiction.

Beach Music by Pat Conroy

This book was recommended to me after reading, and loving, South of Broad. Beach Music is a great book. It was a little long in some parts, but overall I really enjoyed it. The last 50-100 pages are beautifully written and heartbreaking. Very satisfying ending.

The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin

This was a creepy, fun way to spend a few hours. Super short book. Read it in two sittings. I recommend it.

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

John and I made a deal that he would read The Goldfinch & I would read a Kurt Vonnegut book of his choosing. He chose Breakfast Of Champions. I don't know if this was the wrong book or what, but it didn't work for me. I couldn't follow it and had to make myself keep reading it. I get why John likes it so much, but it's not for me. Smell you next time, Vonnegut.

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) by Deborah Harkness

I liked this book. It's a good book that doesn't require a lot of brain power. It is long though. So very long. This book reminded me how much I enjoy vampire love stories. I wish I could quit, but I can't. *I'm interested in the next book in the series, but I assume it's as long as this one and I may need a minute. Definitely recommend it though. Great beach/vacation read.

*I've since read the second book. Barely.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts by Jeni Britton Bauer

Jeni's second cookbook, Desserts, exceeded my expectations. The book is divided into three categories: ice cream parlor, bakeshop and sundae bar. Bakeshop is my favorite chapter. She includes recipes for cakes, tarts and biscuits that truly do seem easy to make. And, of course, go great with a side of ice cream. I'm excited to make a lot of these recipes. Maybe I'll actually buy an ice cream maker and make the ice cream, too!

P.S. Loved all the Nashville shout-outs, e.g. Yazoo, Loveless, Peach Truck, etc.

Delicious! by Ruth Reichl

I loved this book! It may be the most descriptive book I've ever read. You really see New York and you definitely taste and smell the food. Great read!

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Oy. This book was not for me. I labored through it off and on for two years. I just recently made myself pick it back up and finish it because a friend talked about how much she enjoyed it. I'm glad I finished it, but I don't recommend it. Sad that this was my first foray into the world of Haruki Murakami. I'm going to have to shake this one off before attempting anything else of his.

How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer

A friend loaned me this when I told her I'm hating everything I read right now. She said a good collection of short stories will cleanse the palette. She was right. I loved this book! I loved every story in it. Very relatable for the modern lady. Highly recommend.

South of Broad by Pan Conroy

A lot of people have recommended this book to me over the years and I finally got around to reading it. I loved it! The cover is terrible, which is part of the reason I would never pick it up. But don't be fooled by that font. There's a great story here. Highly recommend.

L.A. Son:  My Life, My City, My Food by Roy Choi

I had to return this book to the library before I finished it, but I really liked it. It's more reading than a normal cookbook. I like his story and I like the recipes. I'll probably end up buying it.

One More Thing:  Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak

I REALLY liked this book. When I finished it, I handed it to John and he loved it even more than I did. It's a collection of short stories, most of which deal with current trends, like online dating and Wikipedia. Some of the stories are just one page long, which I find hilarious. I think having a dark sense of humor is important when reading this book, as well as a general grasp on how most people use/misuse the internet. This book served me well in-between heavier reads. Highly recommend.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

This book reads quickly, which I always appreciate, but this book isn't for me. I like the San Francisco setting and learning about what certain flowers mean, but the storyline is too sad. And I generally like sad books. This one just seemed sad for sad's sake. I needed it to have one thing that wasn't sad and it didn't. It was a little bit like an old-school Lifetime movie... Disclaimer: everyone else likes this book, so take my review with a grain of salt.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Hands-down, best book I've ever read. I gave it the maximum allotted five stars, but my heart gives it 100 stars. My poor, poor bleeding heart. It's going to take awhile to shake this one off. Unfortunately, I'm too emotional about it and completely incapable of writing a proper review. Things I can say: Donna Tartt is one of my favorite authors, this book is the best book I've ever read, and I CANNOT stop thinking about it! If you read and liked her earlier book, The Secret History, this is along the same lines. Read this book!

I later wrote an entire post about this book:

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

I read Allie's blog, so I'm familiar with her style, but after hearing her Fresh Air interview, I expected a little more out of this book. It really is just a book version of her blog, which is fine and will probably sell like gangbusters, but I was hoping for a more personal look into her depression and all the things she talked about on NPR. That being said, it is a hilarious book. The beginning about her childhood is really funny. And, of course, all the chapters on her dogs. If you like her blog, or if you have dogs, I highly recommend this book. I almost don't recommend it if your only exposure to her is her Fresh Air interview.


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