My Latest Visitors

I spent this weekend on the Kitsap Peninsula. It requires a ferry ride, so just that in itself is pretty great. Life is a little slower there and it was a great place to seemingly say goodbye to summer and hello to fall. Saturday was gorgeous, sunny and warm and we spent the afternoon outside playing lawn games, then enjoying a bonfire long after the sun went down. On Sunday, I woke up to an overcast sky, dropped temps and football!

While the summer here has been amazing, I’m looking forward to a real fall. With sweaters and rain and apple picking and baking and tea and fall foliage, which is already starting to show up on some of my hikes.


Hike to Melakwa Lake

Before the summer ends, though, I have to share one of my favorite weekends I had this summer, when my parents came to visit me! It’s already been a few weeks since they were here; they came out in mid-August. When in the F does the time go?

They have visited Seattle a few times before – with me when I was looking at schools here and when they traveled through on their Alaskan cruise – so I tried to come up with some outside the tourist box ideas of things to do.

On their first full day, I had to work, so they did some exploring on their own before we went to the Mariners game. I don’t remember who they played, just that there was a second it seemed like they had a chance, then they lost big time! But, everyone stuck around because it was the last fireworks game of the season. It was a ton of fun. If you go to a game, I’d recommend upper level on the first base line, it gives you great views of the field and the city.


Saturday morning we took the ferry to Bainbridge and walked around the town. They have a great farmers market on Saturday morning and just a ton of cute shops to wander.


On their on-their-own day, my parents found the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room. It’s really close to my place, but I’d never been there, so we went there on Sunday morning. It’s pretty incredible! The coffee is crazy fancy, which is a little overwhelming, but I love that it’s authentic coffee, not fluffy coffee. I could spend a long morning hanging out there!

Then we made our way to the Seattle Center to check out the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. Again, overwhelming! The art is gorgeous and there’s so much of it!

Then we needed a little break. I was calling the days they were here “active rest” because we were hiking all over town and that was plenty of exercise to keep me sleeping soundly at night!

We went to check out the Ballard Locks, which allows large boats to go between the Sound and Lake Union. We were there for a while watching them load up the large locks, then filling it up and letting the boats go through.


Definitely falls into the unique category for tourists, but I thought it was fascinating. There’s also a salmon ladder to help the little fishies go between, I still want to go check that out soon!

That night, we stayed in and my mom and I made chicken and waffles! Yum. I got to test out my new waffle maker and learn how to make our classic family meal from the pro.

On Monday, I took the day off work to share my love of Pacific Northwest hiking with them. I researched a few hikes to find something lovely and manageable and landed on a 3-mile hike in Mount Rainier Park, Tipsoo Lake and Naches Peak.  It had a little elevation, a lotta awesome views of Rainier and we ran into a handful of PCT hikers heading to Canada! It was also very dusty and a looong drive, but worth it!


And then, because it’s beautiful and because in Washington, you can go from mountains to sea (Sound), we spent some time at Golden Gardens, a beachy beach in Ballard, where we saw some seals playing not too far out from shore.


We ended their trip with a tradition started on my last two trips to Seattle before my move – a last meal at Ivar’s on Lake Union. With great views of the city, the lake and of course, seafood, it’s a great way to say goodbye to my city love (only this time, I didn’t have to say goodbye).

I told them we were knocking out everything in the city because next time, I want to take them to the San Juan Islands, or maybe the Olympic Peninsula. There are just so many wonderful options!


Oh the Places You Will Go: Idaho

I’ve been meaning to write about Idaho since I returned three weeks ago. Here’s the deal…it was lovely. I ran hills in chilly fall weather.


I jetskied. And my 89-year-old grandmother jetskied.


I kayaked. I took my first attempt at stand up paddleboarding and was decently successful.


I played with my niece and my cousins’ little girls.

She thinks she's too cool for a safety vest.

She thinks she’s too cool for a safety vest.

I was outside 70% of the time. I read (The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets…4 stars).


I ate great food. And had my fair share of wine.

Me and my momma.

Me and my momma.

I slept (in an obnoxious twin bed, but the twin bed was in a glorious suite in a glorious “cabin”).

Anyway, FFF for the win, basically. It was nice to get away and relax and have a vacation that is about nothing other than R&R!


Workout Giant: Golfing

With over 300 days of sunshine each year and 250 courses, the Phoenix area is a golfing mecca. Even so, I’ve had a minimal interest in the sport, played nine holes a few times in high school and been to a few driving ranges since then. But, when my sister started planning a golf outing for my dad’s birthday and said, “you golf, right?” I just went with it.

My parents play with increasing regularity, my brother-in-law at least has his own clubs, but mentioned he had played once in the last five years, and my sister and niece (at the ripe age of 11 weeks) came along to watch. On the third hole, I asked if she had realized how long it actually takes to play 18 holes. She didn’t.

But, Saturday happened to be a beautiful day – our cold spell from last weekend warmed up to a fantastic mid-70s afternoon – and we headed out to Kokopelli Golf Club in Gilbert. They were running a little behind schedule, so we warmed up on the range until our turn.

Driving Range

Then our carts came up and my brother-in-law put his work iPhone on a “shelf” that actually was a hole down to the engine.


Fortunately, a staff member wasn’t afraid to reach up and find it!

Then we were off! The first hole was a bit of a learning experience, but eventually, I figured out the clubs, had a few good hits and even had some fun. I kept telling myself I’m naturally athletic, something I never would have imagined the last time I played golf, but I really do believe now.

I only lost a few balls early on. My biggest problem was not actually making contact with the ball. It’s a very small target dontchaknow. My scorecard included a lot of hearts and stars and other symbols in lieu of actual numbers. Either way, it was a great way to get some exercise and get outside to enjoy a day of warm weather and sunshine!

So, was it actually a workout? There were carts involved, but walking back and forth to the ball and swinging (many, many times) for four and a half hours definitely felt like one! WebMD’s Fit-O-Meter tells me I burned about 850 calories! Afterward, all I wanted was dinner, a warm shower and to SLEEP! I didn’t even care that it was 9pm on a Saturday!

Naked Commitment

This sums it up…tea, Steelers, crocheting.

I spent a wonderful weekend in Pittsburgh visiting my 88-year-old grandmother, Mimi if you will. I needed a vacation, she needed a visitor, so off I went to the land of cold (30s!) and no sun, but beautiful fall landscapes.

We played cards, went shopping, ate pie and got dressed up in fur and diamonds to go to an old school businessman’s club for dinner in downtown. We also watched the Steelers beat the Giants while eating pizza. On that day, I left the house all of six inches to scoot out the garage, pick up the newspaper and scoot back in.

After my five-hour flight on Monday evening, I was tired and needed to organize myself for the week and play with my puppy (who celebrated his one-year adoption anniversary at his own grandma’s while I was gone, puppymom guilt!), but I NEEDED TO RUN. I really felt like if I didn’t run, I would just die. Dramatic much?

Fortunately, I was already wearing my new lulu wunder under crops and hot pink Asics on the plane, so a quick bra change, but no shirt – how’s THAT for a climate change?! – and I was out the door. I NEEDED TO RUN.

And then, at that moment, I felt like a runner. It was a good naked run (I didn’t even take the time to find my headphones or let my Garmin find a signal). I only ran two miles and was home, showered and in bed before 10, snuggled with my pup who was totally pooped from his play weekend.

I made the decision to focus on training up until my third half marathon, that’s actually less than a month away at this point, and I wasn’t waiting any longer. I was doing it and making it a priority to get it in regardless of how late or early it is.

Granted, I kinda always get this fired up when I make a training plan (I had redone it on the plane) or sign up for a race and sometimes it fizzles, but the naked commitment run was pretty great and I’ve stayed fired with enthusiasm all week.

And now for my bitter rant about commitment…I belong to Lifetime Fitness and they as of recently have joined forces with Red Rock Co. that does a lot of the triathlons in the Valley. I think they’re both great organizations and I’ve applied to various jobs with both since moving back to Arizona, but I obviously do not work for either, thus the bitter part.

There are no REAL hard feelings though, as I said, I think they’re great, so I follow both and other associated groups and people on social media. A few months ago they collectively launched this campaign about Commitment Day, which is apparently January 1.

While I like the idea and plan ahead like a champ, I just can’t get over the concept of signing up for the movement and the New Year’s Day race in August and committing to commit to your wellness…in four months. What kind of permission does that grant for the rest of the year?!

Now, I don’t think anyone who they’ve rallied is all like, “Sweet, I’m gonna get fit in 2013, but I’m gonna get FAT for the rest of 2012! Honey, stock up on the Cheetos and get some mayo for dipping!”  But, potentially, participants are opting out of an entire quarter of a year and a quarter-year of their lives! Imagine the change that could happen in 120 days!

Obviously my stance is that the perfect day to adopt positive change in your life is the day you decide you want it…I did it with this blog, I did it with this commitment run…if you’re waiting for your life to start, you’re going to miss it!

Do you like to plan ahead or make changes as soon as you make the decision? What are you committed to this fall/winter?

A Wet Summer Weekend

This weekend was wet! We had four days of rain, apparently something that hasn’t happened since 2008!

On Saturday, I went to a first birthday party for the smiliest little girl I know. I find either way I describe my relationship with this girl to be confusing. She’s adorable, so I want to call her my niece, but she’s not really my niece, she’s my sister’s niece, meaning my sister’s husband’s sister’s baby. Got it? Good. Moving on.

It was a pool party that was cut short by a downpour, but we moved inside for cupcakes and gifts! She’s a smart little girl who has already realized she has the power to make a room full of normally rational adults laugh and clap and say “yay” just by clapping her own hands together.  Girl is going places. Plus she already likes shiny things:

On Sunday – after a workout, I DID fit one in – I was having mid-afternoon sushi with some lovely ladies at Sushi Roku at the W Scottsdale, when it started raining through the sunshine and then it just got kind of gross. When I walked outside it was like being in a hot Seattle – muggy and overcast. I went to an eerily empty Target on my way home – apparently not everyone was inspired by the weather to go spend $90 on things they didn’t even know they needed!

I also watched some gloomy weather movies – the creepy thriller Perfect Stranger and Sleepless in Seattle. And A League of Their Own, which is not so much for gloomy weather, but Tom Hanks times two for the weekend? Yes please!

The weather couldn’t take down my good mood this weekend though. After a lot of hurry up and wait to get my ducks (fingerprints) in a row and all my loose ends tied up, I am officially a Realtor! Check out my website work in progress, I’m pretty legit!

Coyotes Carnival

I know my “I have fun plans” tease yesterday just kept you right on the edge of your seat…so, what did my Sunday Funday include?

The Coyotes Carnival at Arena! My sister and her husband are hockey fans and live (for now) out on the westside, so the whole fam went to the charity carnival for some more Forced Family Fun because the sheer amount that’s been going on since The Wedding has quite simply just not been enough.

When I get around my family – even though who you’ve been ain’t who you’ve got to be (thanks Timmy-my-love) – I am definitely the LITTLE sister and I’m the one who makes everyone stand in line to take pictures with the mascot.

There were carnival games and mystery bags and player meet-and-greets. Even though I did go to TWO hockey games last year, I wouldn’t know any of the players from Adam, but we did have fun playing Spot the Aspiring Hockey Wives among the women who were standing in line.  And then there was ice skating.

Pretty cute. I tried to take him home, but his parents were all like, “no.”

I was wearing my mom’s 40-year-old ice skates, which were at least a size too small, but it was pretty fun to do a few laps on the arena ice, despite the four-year-olds out there making me look like a fool.

The winter hibernation is coming to an end as my calendar is filling up with more of these unique community events.  Tis THE season in Phoenix after all.

On Swimming

One of my current, ongoing fitness goals is to swim a mile every week. It’s doable in one workout, or I could split it up, although I’ve yet to take that option.  I kind of have a love-hate relationship with swimming.  Here are my thoughts on the topic:

1. It’s usually a negotiation to get in the water. I don’t like being cold and that’s the biggest deterrent – the water’s cold, getting out of the water is cold, the locker room is cold, but as with most of my workouts, “you’ll regret NOT doing it” wins 98% of the time. 

2. There are four pools at my gym (which is pretty much the only reason I don’t know how to quit it, Brokeback style). I recently discovered that the indoor play pool they use for lessons in the afternoons is the warmest. Because it’s shallow?  Because it needs to be warm for the skinny little kids?  Because it’s close to the big windows and can sun itself throughout the day? Because the kids pee in it? I don’t know and I don’t really care to know, but I always swim there when given the option because it makes the thought of getting in a lot better.

3.  If I want to swim in that pool, it means I have to plan around those kiddie lessons so the lanes are available and usually go early morning or mid-day.  The only time I was able to go mid-day was when my office had to close early because someone stole the copper pipes and there was no running water in the building.  So, usually I go early morning, but swimming a mile kinda wipes me out and I want to fall asleep at my desk by about 10am.

4. The play pool is 25 yards v. 25 meters like the others, so I feel like I’m constantly turning around and I have to do an extra six lengths to get in my mile, but it’s still worth it.

5. I’m good at flip turns…the secret is to start blowing out your nose before you’re inverted so water doesn’t have a chance to get in…but usually on at least one I get a little chlorine surprise, but I kind of like it because the smell and burning feeling reminds me of summertime when I was a kid.

6. I was on a swim team during summers while I was growing up.  I think I cried before my first meet (and in my defense I was five!) but after that I loved it.  Yes, I was a Dobson Dolphin!

7.  Each season we’d have a stroke-a-thon during one of the practices and the goal was to get a mile. It always seemed so huge and took the whole hour, even though we probably were swimming that daily with warm ups and drills and cool downs anyway.  

8. Swimming that much wiped me out back then too and I remember frequently coming home and crashing out for a few hours, which is maybe why my mom signed me up in the first place so she could get some peace and quiet in the summertime.

9. My sister was also on swim team until she lied to our mom about having her suit on under her pajamas. She didn’t and she just sat out the whole time (she was much more into team sports, while – or maybe which is why – I liked the individual sports). I’m not sure why that was easier than just saying, “Mom, I don’t want to do swim team this year,” but it kind of explains a lot.  

10. My mom says she swam while she was pregnant with me, but not my sister. I definitely plan on swimming while pregnant because I want mine to come out little fishies too!

11. For how often I’m swimming, I’m still really bad at counting the laps. I count by meters (or yards)…so 25, 50, 75, 100. Sometimes when I get close to the end, like the last 200, I count down by numbers…8, 7, 6, etc.  If I think I’ve lost count, I’m more likely to undercount and repeat a lap if necessary so I don’t cheat myself.  

12. I keep a decent pace and it feels like work, but by the end, I think it ended too quickly and was too easy and usually add on a 50 or 100 in case I did mis-count somewhere along the way.

13. Sometimes I don’t feel like counting at all and start off thinking I’ll just swim for a half-hour, but counting is kind of a habit and it makes me feel good about the distance I’m accomplishing.  During my last swim, the mile took me less than 25 minutes. Swimming is such a great whole-body workout that I don’t even feel guilty about working out for less than the recommended 30 minutes a day!

14. I hate that I smell like chlorine all day and I hate even more that the next time I do a “dry” workout, like running or yoga the next day, I sweat even more chlorine! But I also secretly think it makes me a bad ass.

My Mother’s Potatoes

I am my mother’s daughter so when I signed up to take mashed potatoes to Thanksgiving dinner, I did what my mother would do…I attempted to double the recipe that already claimed to make eight servings even though there were only eight people at dinner and obviously there were many other things to eat!

I say attempted to because I made slow cooker garlic mashed red potatoes (yum!) and my crock pot is a mini-me and only fit the ingredients for a single batch.  It’s actually a good thing because my family ate and liked the potatoes AND  took some home, but I took the bulk of the leftovers and just finished them on Friday! Imagine if I had made a double batch. (My sister is also our mother’s daughter and actually did double her sweet potato au gratin casserole recipe and ended up taking the whole second dish home with her!)

But, still, I was left with the extra five pounds of red potatoes I never made.  If you followed along, you’ll see how I blame my mother for those five pounds of potatoes, which is why, when my mother came over for breakfast after the GOTR 5K (she was a running buddy!) yesterday, we had potato breakfast burritos. 

There were no pictures of the food, so I’ll just tell you they were pretty and yummy.  Just sautéed/steamed green peppers and red potatoes, eggs, cheese and salsa verde.  Further proof that I am my mother’s daughter, I used the smoke detector as a kitchen timer.  Twice.  I blame the turkey bacon. 

Since I like cooking and baking so much recently, I should probably just leave this little quick access to smoke detector set up as is.  And yes, that is It’s a Wonderful Lifetime on the TV…I love made-for-TV holiday movies!

Pretty Active During Weddingpalooza

Weddingpalooza, as I’m referring to October, is truly not that crazy. It’s two weddings, two weeks apart, but I’m in both, so there are a bunch of other activities and commitments (and travel for one of them) involved.

This Saturday, my sister is getting married, and the “events” start today. We’re talking five straight days of Forced Family Fun. I’m still working today and tomorrow and still GOTRing tomorrow, so now the tricky part is to figure out how to keep training a priority when there are pampering seshes to be had, family to love on and champagne to drink. Gosh, what a tough life!

I specifically picked the Nathan Tri because it was at the end of September and I wouldn’t have to try to do any serious training during October, but I am still moving toward my next 10K, which is also turning into the beginning of my next half-marathon training.  More importantly, I know myself enough to know that I need some kind of daily physical activity to feel like a sane person, particularly when things get busy!

So, this week is going to be about balance.  A little slack, but no excuses.  Morning sweat is a must…then let the fun begin!