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.

October 27, 2014

Weekend Wrap Up: Hey Girl Fitness Pal Edition

I never drink anymore, so after 1.5 beers at my friend's going away party on Friday night, I was craft-beer-drunk and convinced that I made up the best MyFitnessPal deviation yet:  Hey Girl Fitness Pal.

It all started when I couldn't quit eating the chocolate cake at the party. I made a quip about not logging that into MyFitnessPal and then I said I wish MFP had a 'Hey Girl' function, like 'Hey girl, it's okay you ate all that cake. Didn't you run 2.8 miles this morning?' I thought it was the funniest thing I've ever said.

My friend Chatty is moving to Belgium. We gathered at Fat Bottom Brewery on Friday night to say our goodbyes. This pictures is terrible, but it's Lana, Mary Katherine, Chatty, me and Marne. I'm smiling because I'm high on chocolate cake and my own sense of humor.

Sanctuary Yoga celebrated their 10-year anniversary on Saturday with free classes, so I jumped on that. Hey girl, that chocolate cake isn't going to work itself off. After a great 90-minute class, I drove to Performance Studios for Halloween miscellanea. Behold, the wall of animal masks, the scariest part of Performance.

After a few more errands, I was STARVING, so I called my friend Carolyn and we met for pizza at The Farmers' Market. This is the margherita pizza at Bella Nashville. I like to add a farm egg and chili oil. It's kind of my favorite thing to eat in Nashville.

My homegirl Freya had a show on Saturday night via Music City Burlesque. It was their big BOO-lesque Halloween show. Initially, a group of us were going, but it sold out before everyone bought their ticket, so Lana and I went and had a blast. We had thai food beforehand because, 'Hey girl, aren't you doing a long run in the morning? Get the egg rolls.'

I needed to run 7 miles on Sunday, so Lana offered to run with me. Because I can't do math or create routes, I accidentally took us on an almost 9-mile run. Whoops! But we did see some awesome Halloween decor. Richland Park's Halloween game is on point!

Sunday was Baldwin Costume Day. OBVIOUSLY, we fueled up at Secret Bellevue Cheesesteak. Obviously. Then we went to every store that exists to get the materials for John's costume. Because once an Eagle Scout, always an Eagle Scout.

This went on for a long time, like probably 10 hours, but it's mostly done. I kept teasing John, asking how many Boy Scouts badges he earned for Halloween costume construction. I hope you're all prepared to see the insanity that will be John Baldwin's Halloween costume.

October 20, 2014

Weekend Wrap Up: Nordstrom Rack Edition

Every Friday, I run with a group around Hillsboro Village and then eat at Pancake Pantry. This Friday, we did an impromptu Birchbox swap and this is my haul. It's all moisturizer and nail polish. Shocking. Thanks for the loot, Melanie!

Nashville has long lost out on the shopping game to neighboring cities like Atlanta. But no more! We have a Madewell AND a Nordstrom Rack. We're just a Crate & Barrel away from being a real, live city!

I met Jenn at Nordstrom Rack on Saturday to see what all the fuss is about. I liked it! I don't have a job, so I couldn't buy anything, but I would have bought lots of things. Of particular interest were the shoes and athletic apparel. Sigh.

On Sunday morning, I met my lady gang for a brisk 8-mile run. I'm having this disconnect between thinking I'm not ready to run 8 miles and reminding myself that I ran a half marathon 3 weeks ago. Thanks, brain. Post-run, we treated ourselves (treat yo' self!) to breakfast biscuits at Dose. Friends who biscuit together, stay together.

After my run, John and I put on real clothes and went to celebrate the recent union of our friends Courtney and Brian. Courtney is my friend Katie's (above) little sister and Brian you may know as the photographer at our Halloween parties. I've known Courtney a long time and am so, so happy for her and Brian. I also have a deep well of love for the Krampf family in general. Hash tag: KrampfBecomesRisse.

To know Courtney is to know her love of tattoos, so in her honor, I wore one of my Tattlys from the Rifle Paper Co. Floral Set. Afterwards, back in my Halloween pajamas (DUH), John and I settled in for more Twin Peaks. Unfortunately, the mimosas I had at the reception won and I immediately fell asleep. But look at that awesome Tattly!

October 18, 2014

These My Nails

I love painting my nails. Always have. I have a pretty extensive array of polishes and decorative (read: glitter) top coats, which I like to spread out on the floor while waiting on inspiration to strike. Once I've decided on a color, with surgeon-like precision, I arrange my tools on the coffee table, find an eighties movie on Netflix and commence to paintin'.

My manicures always last a week, usually longer if I let them. With short nails and light polish, I can usually make it 10-12 days. That's pretty good for an at-home manicure. And I'm using regular polish, not gel.

The secret to my nail success is two-fold:  Orly Bonder and Sally Hansen Ultra Wear Top Coat. That's right, Sally Hansen. My love for things you can buy at Walgreens is unparalleled. 

I've probably used every basecoast you can buy, including the fancy $20 ones at Sephora. None of them work as well as this Orly basecoat. It'll change your nail polish life. Same with the Sally Hansen top coat. It's on the high-price-end of Sally Hansen products, but it's worth it.

The most recent addition to my nail arsenal is this Sally Hansen (duh) I Heart Nail Art Pen. I've definitely gotten $5 worth of fun out of it, although John did have to draw the stripe on my right hand the first time I used it. I've gotten better at it, but it takes some practice to get used to drawing with your non-dominant hand.

See! Check me out, drawing triangles with my left hand! This is my attempt to DIY Door Sixteen's much-coveted calgel manicure. Close! Ish...

I am nothing, if not a copycat. I get most of my nail inspiration from bloggers and Birchbox. Feel free to follow my copycat ways on Pinterest. You can find my Beauty & Makeup Board here. Happy painting!

October 15, 2014

Checking In: Two Weeks Post Augusta

Okay, technically, two weeks and three days. But who's counting?

I didn't think about how I would feel after the race, or how long I would feel that way. As a long-time resident of camp, I'll Show You, it's been uncomfortable to live in a space of sheer joy and pride, which is undoubtedly why I keep crying every time someone says something nice to me. But this new space is nice, and I'm acclimating to it.

The first week is a blur. I don't know what I did for those seven days. I think I spent the whole week unpacking and writing my race recap. I remember being tired and sore, and sleeping a lot. Oh god, and crying. SO MUCH CRYING.

The second week, last week, was still weird. I was still more tired than usual and had a hard time figuring out what to do with myself all day. I couldn't get into a rhythm. Nothing felt right and my emotions were running high. I also dreamt about the race every night, usually that I was lost on the course. We had that full/blood moon last week, so maybe the moon is to blame. I don't know. Science.

This week, I'm back! I had a super awesome weekend and I woke up on Monday feeling like my old self. My sleep is back on track and my days feel normal and less terrifyingly unstructured. I feel like my brain turned back on.

The biggest adjustments have been sleep, food and time management. The sleep is probably obvious. When you work-out for 10-12 hours a week, you sleep like a baby. The circadian rhythm is going to get me, but it hasn't gotten me yet.

While I stayed at my 1,500 a day calorie goal during training, I could go over a little and still lose weight. I could also eat like a dumbass and still lose weight. Not anymore! It's a work in progress, but I'm trying not to go over my calorie goal, at least not every day.

I followed a 20-week training plan, but I started training for this race in February. So for seven months, I had a thing I did every day that took anywhere from 2-6 hours. I'm figuring out a new routine and it's becoming more comfortable every day, but it's an adjustment for sure. Right now, my problem days are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday - the days I rode my bike.

I don't currently have a gym membership, so I'm figuring out what to do and where. There's a Planet Fitness down the street, but is that a place actual people go? There's also McCabe Community Center and Centennial Sportsplex. I don't know what I'll do yet.

Oh! And I have a black toe, which I'm super excited about! No, really, I am! Y'all, I feel so hardcore. For years, I've heard people complain about their toenails turning black and falling off, but it's never happened to me. Finally I can lay claim to that elusive black toe bragging right. I've shockingly refrained from photographing it thus far. Thus far...

To be continued!

*I told you I bought those pictures.

October 13, 2014

Weekend Wrap Up: Ham In, HAM Out Edition

This Saturday I ran the Germantown Oktoberfest 5K with my friend Lana and approximately 70% of East Nasty. Because I PR-ed at this race last year, a few people asked me if I was going to try and beat my time. I looked up my splits from last year and realized I ran a 9:38 average pace. Yeah, there was no way I was going to beat that two weeks post-Augusta. I decided to try and at least keep my sub-30 PR, but to ultimately not kill myself trying. Famous last words.

After we took this picture, I asked my friend Hercules, aka Jeremy Taylor, what pace he was going to run and if I could run with him. And then one millisecond later, the start gun went off. He and Kevin took off and I knew it was too fast, but I decided to stick with them as long as I could. When we hit one mile, my Garmin told me we were running an 8:52 minute mile. Y'ALL.

I knew it wasn't smart, and they were starting to pull away from me, but I sped up and stayed behind them. Alas, I lost them in The Farmers' Market. Without my pacers, I slowed down a little and ran the last mile alone, questioning my life choices. My splits were: 8:52, 9:14 and 9:24, giving me a new PR of 28:23. HAM.

My friend Erin frequently posts pictures of this mythical place that serves chocolate gravy over biscuits. I've been trying to eat there for about a year now. On Saturday, it finally happened. After the 5K, Lana and I drove a few blocks to Big Al's Deli in Salemtown. It was the breakfast of my dreams and I want to eat there every day. I ordered Big Al's Breakfast (for $5.75!) and gleefully ate all of it. I joked on Instagram that I went so HAM at the race that I had to immediately go eat ham to replenish my supply, to which my friend Jenn quipped, "Ham in, HAM out".

On Saturday night, we went with friends back to Tango Grill, home of the # 1 Baldwin Sandwich, the Chivito Punta Del Este (# 2 is Secret Bellevue Cheesesteak - duh). I can't quit this sandwich. This picture doesn't do it justice.

After dinner, Mike and Amanda stopped at this butcher shop behind Tango Grill. Apparently John has always wanted to go in there (???), so we all went in. It was kind of awesome. We were too overwhelmed to pick anything out, but I'd like to go back and further investigate their pickled vegetables and array of salsas and sauces. I also just want to support any business who has this as their sign.

A week before my half Ironman, I registered for a December half marathon so I'd have something to focus on after my big race. Turns out, December isn't that far away, so guess who had to do a long run this weekend? Yep. Lana and I ran 7 long, slooooow miles and then treated ourselves to coffee and biscuits from Dose. I'm obsessed with this spicy egg biscuit. Obsessed!

Yesterday John and I saw The Skeleton Twins at the Belcourt. It was so good! I mean, obviously, it's hard to go wrong with Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, but this movie is really good. It was a little heavier than I expected, but I loved it. I think it's at the Belcourt through next Thursday, the 23rd. I highly recommend going to see it.

October 6, 2014

Weekend Wrap Up: Pinker Hair, Still Don't Care Edition

Y'all, I can't let this dream of having pink hair die. This is my third, & probably final, attempt. My first attempt was baby pink highlights, which immediately washed out. So I went back & had my hair dyed pink. Still washed out, albeit it lasted a little longer. So this time, we amped up the pink so that as it inevitably washes out, it will fade to that elusive baby pink.

So yeah, my hair is REAL pink. It's so pink, it's pank. On Friday night, I saw my girl Jordan to get re-re-pinked. I think she nailed it. Fingers crossed it doesn't wash out next week! Oh, also, I'm growing my bangs out. #themoreyouknow

Sufficiently panked, I met Melanie for dinner & then we went to the Grand Opening of Studio Debutante. I've been watching my friend Freya build this thing all year & I was so proud to be there for the grand opening.

P.S. Go sign up for some super fun classes like Hoop Dance & Booty Burn! Personally, I'm trying to decide between Bumps n' Grinds & Floorwerk.

This was the first Saturday of 2014 that I didn't have anything to do. Super friend Lana had a feeling I may be bored, so she asked me to meet her at the new Barista Parlor Golden Sound for post-yoga coffee. The coffee was delicious. The seating is a work in progress. But the new space is real cool.

My homegirl Carolyn just bought a house, so I drove over there to get a tour & then ended up spending all day with her shopping for appliances. It was actually fun. It was my first experience at Sears Scratch & Dent. That place is NUTS.

My Saturday night is pretty accurately summed up in this text with John from 7:19pm (I'm in blue).

I put this on Instagram Sunday with the hashtag, "Fine, I'll work-out again." After a week of celebrating & recovering, I met Lana & Melanie on Sunday morning for a 5-mile run. It was 37 degrees! Luckily, I just bought this new long-sleeved tech shirt at this place I went last weekend...

A run in 37 degree weather meant one thing:  chili. It's time. Plus, I haven't cooked since like February, so... Not that the crock pot counts as cooking, but still. Hey, I browned the shit out of that meat! Eight hours later, we dined on this fine chili & watched more Twin Peaks. Then I fell asleep to the sweet, sweet sounds of John reading Mike Reno's Wikipedia page to me.


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