Running-Challenge
One of my runs this week wasn't a good one. It was one of those runs that in the past would have made me stop running altogether. One of those runs where your body isn't tired, but your mind shuts down and even though you try to talk yourself out of stopping, you stop anyway. 

However, this bad run was much different than the bad runs I've had in the past. For the first time (possibly ever) my bad run didn't leave me in a funk. I didn't spend five minutes of the run telling myself that if I stopped running I was a total failure. Instead, I just stopped running and happily walked the rest of the way home with the Husband. I think this is a major breakthrough. It's the first time I've felt okay about stopping and still felt confident that I'd be able to go out again the next day and run.

I told the Husband my feelings as we were walking and I even made up a little song (I know, super dorky to admit) to the tune of Camper Van Beethoven's "Good Guys and Bad Guys." It's definitely cheesy but today as I was running, I sang my running song in my head and it made me feel good about being out and excited to continue on my running journey. 

Here are a few running tips that have worked for me:

  • Record your progress. Seeing little improvements (running two extra minutes or an extra 1/2 mile) really makes a difference.
  • Accept that sometimes you will have bad runs, but remember that getting out and running, even if only for a few inutes, is still an accomplishment.
  • Sprint the last block home. Trust me, if you sprint up to your doorstep, you are going to feel really good about yourself and you'll end your run on a positive note.
  • Make sure to stretch! It can feel silly to stretch if you've only run for a mile, but preventing injuring is the name of the game. Taking five minutes to stretch is more than worth it to avoid shin splints or other injuries that will sideline you.
  • Try to have fun. Sometimes it can be hard to remember this one, but really, you should just be happy that you are out doing something that you put your mind to.

This post ended up sounding a bit like a motivational speech, but I'm okay with that. I watch a lot of Friday Night Lights and I think Coach Taylor is a really cool guy. When he says, "Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose," it makes me feel like I could even play football if I set my mind to it. So here's hoping, that one of my tips might prove helpful for whatever personal goals you're working toward, running or otherwise.

 

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Happy running :)

 

Operation--Bedroom-Makeover

I am one of those people that moves into a new place and takes forever to unpack boxes. Once I get the boxes unpacked, I set up the living room and dining room and then run out of steam. I think it's because I have some really great staples for the living/dining room like rugs, lamps and prints, but I don't have much in terms of accessories for the office/spare room and bedroom. I love apartments that look effortless but also complete. I pretty much drool over most apartments that I see in Apartment Therapy or similiar design websites. And you know what, if they can do it, I can do it!

Rug
Headboard

So, Operation: Bedroom Makeover starts now. I want this project to move quickly and stay on budget. So here is my plan:

  • Make DIY carpet, inspired by this pin (original source)
  • Make DIY headboard, inspired by this pin (original source)
  • Make DIY curtains
  • Order new bookshelf (on clearance sale!) from Target
  • Make or find something to hang on the walls

I want this project to be done by Thanksgiving and I'm allowing myself $200 for the full makeover. Cross your fingers that I can do it!

I will post my before and after pictures once complete. I don't want to scare you with the before picture now :)

Tractor - Chester IL
I love Los Angeles, but I must admit it was great to get out of town last weekend. The Husband and I made the trek to Southern Illinois to meet up with my Grandma, parents, sister, seven cousins and five second cousins.

We stayed at the beautiful Stone House right in Chester. The house, which features an amazing view of the Mississippi, is the perfect place to stay if you’re looking for a B&B in the area. It has three bedrooms and two porches (one on the first floor and another on the second) for you to sit on and take in the view

The Stone House - Chester ILView from Stone House - Chester

In addition to lounging around the picturesque Stone House, we spent time at the family farm catching up and standing around the fire and of course, celebrating my Grandma’s 90th birthday (the whole reason for the trip!). The party was great and I’d feel very lucky to be like her when I’m 90. One of the highlights of the party was my Grandma telling the Husband that how he and I were a perfect pair because of our matching happy, outgoing personalities. So I guess, I’ll have to keep him around for a while.

A few random facts about Chester (according to Wikipedia):

  • Scenes from “The Fugitive,” “Hoop Dreams” and “In The Heat Of The Night” were filmed in Chester.
  • Chester is the “home of Popeye.” Elzie Segar, the creator of Popeye, was born in Chester in 1894

Farm - wide shot - Chester ILSmokeyCampfire - Chester ILPopeye Wall - Chester IL

Chester Popeye Square Flags - Chester

Happy adventuring!

 

IMG_3255
I am currently in Chester, Illinois to celebrate my Grandma's 90th birthday and so far we've had a family cookout, an amazing hayride and this morning, the Husband and I went running along the Mississippi River. 

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Hope you are all having a great weekend!

Central Library Sign - Los Angeles
I was recently inspired to check out the Los Angeles Central Library after reading a post over at one of my favorite blogs, 365 Los Angeles. I had no idea there was a walking tour of the library and if there is anything I’m a total sucker for, it’s walking tours.

Flower St Entrance - Central Library
The Husband and I made it to the 2:00 pm Saturday tour. There were two other adults and two little kids in our group. The library was hopping when we were there due to “Friends of the Library Day” which made the tour even more exciting and added some fantastic people-watching opportunities. It was so crowded it sometimes felt more like a train station or a mall, which is really kind of cool if you think about the fact that the library can attract such a massive mob of visitors.

The library has a very interesting history that includes two arson fires, seven years and 200 million dollars of construction and a barely avoided relocation to the valley. As our docent relayed a brief history of the library, the head of the library popped by to introduce himself. He also informed us of a couple cool facts that not many people know:

  • Over 90,000 kids a week go to after school programs at the library
  • Tutors are available for any student with a library card seven days a week in both English and Spanish

After our initial history lesson, the docent took us through various parts of the “old” (pre-1986) and “new” (post 1993) wings of the library. She gave us an overview of several of the larger art pieces, explaining the techniques used and cluing us in as to what exactly we were looking at. One of more interesting facts she mentioned was that the library architecture and art were inspired by the idea of light and learning. After she told us this, I noticed examples everywhere that demonstrated how the various artists brought in over the years found inspiration in these recurring themes. Although I wasnt a huge fan of all the artworks, it was consistently impressive to see the scale and detail of the pieces. Every single detail was thought out and planned, from the carpets to the lighting and various repeating symbols and images, from pyramids to torches to eight-pointed stars, that seem to crop up everywhere you look. Add to that the fact that all of these murals, paintings and magestic ceilings are public works of art and how many people were milling about the library just enjoy the art, and I was even more impressed.

Second floor rotunda - central library

During the tour, we walked through the second floor rotunda, the children’s library, the history and geneology section, elevators plastered old dewey decimal cards and the Tom Bradley wing with it’s massive chandeliers. There are additional art galleries, cafes and seven floors of volumes that we didn’t have a chance to go through. Next time I go to the library, I plan on printing out the self-guided tour PDF which goes into even more detail than the walking tour.

Childrens Library - Central Library LAChildrens Library 2 - Central LibraryLamps - Central Library Los AngelesTom Bradely Hall - Central Library

Make sure to explore the exterior of the library after your tour ends. Take special notice of the stairs leading up to the Flower Street entrance and the quotes adorning many fountains. One last note: park in the library parkng lot when you go on the tour. It’s only $1 with validation (which you get by showing your library card).Library peakCentral Library - Fountain 1Front steps - Central Library

Happy adventuring!

Single lantern
I've been wanting to do a paper lantern project for quite a while, so last week I finally decided it was time to commit. I wanted to  make a few lanterns to hang in my room, so I went to Paper Source for some decorative paper and World Market for a few cheap lanterns (even though I'm sure there are some random China balls sitting in the back of one of my closets) and got to work. This is a fairly easy project that produces quick results… the best type of project, in my opinion :) 

Here are the materials I used:

  • Decorative paper that you will use to make the circles. For my lanterns, I used the swirls vellum paper from Paper Source.
  • Glue gun (or if you prefer, double-sided tape)
  • Paper lanterns – for this project I chose the battery operated lanterns because they have hooks on the top, but any paper lantern will work. The battery operated lanterns don't have the best reviews due to teeny lightbulbs' short lifespan, but this wasn't a major concern for me because I'm using them more for decoration than a light source.
  • Hole punch. I used the 2 1/8" circle punch. If you choose a larger hole punch, you will use fewer circles.

Step 1: Use your hole punch on the paper of your choice. I was able to punch around 70 holes per sheet of my swirl vellum paper from Paper Source. One lantern seemed to take around 80 circles, but that could also be because I had a few mess ups. If you use the same paper as me, it's probably safe to assume you will need a little more than one full sheet per lantern.2 18 circle hole punch

Paper punches
Step 2: Following the included directions for your lanterns, expand the lanterns to their full size.  I forgot this step on the first lantern so it wound up being slightly smaller than than the other one. I tried expanding it after the dots were glued on, but unfortunately when it's streched out it messes up the spacing of the dots. Oh well!

Step 3: Start gluing the dots on your lantern. I highly suggest figuring out how you want it to look before you start gluing. Do you want the dots to overlap? Do you want the bottom row of dots to hang down past the lantern or touch the bottom? Also, one other item I did not notice ahead of time: Are the lines on your lanrtern even, or do they slope to one side like mine did? I started out by gluing my dots along the line only to notice at the end of my row that they were uneven. No big deal if that happens, but a minute or two of preplanning will help avoid this issue.  One last note, the glue dries very quickly. Once your dot is on the lantern you only have a few seconds to move it before it's stuck there forever.Glue Gun

Gluing dots on lantern

DotsStep 4: Keep gluing dots until you cover the whole lantern. Once complete, make another lantern or find somewhere fun to hang it!Holding lantern

Lanterns hanging
Happy crafting :)

Cookies #3
I woke up early Sunday morning craving some type of fall flavored cookies. I found a great recipe on Martha Stewart for pumpkin cookies with brown butter icing. The recipe seemed easy enough, so I made way to the grocery store for my supplies. 

A few notes on the recipe: I used about a quarter cup less sugar for the cookie dough because it called for quite a bit. The recipe also states that it will make around six dozen cookies. I don't think I made exeptionally large cookies or anything, but my final count came in at a little under five dozen. I also had a full cup of frosting left over at the end, so I'd suggest cutting down on the frosting recipe. My last tip is to use Ziploc bags to as a makeshift piping bag for the cookie dough and the frosting. Put the dough and the frosting in seperate Ziploc bags and cut the tip off one corner. This way you can just squeeze them out and make the cleanup a lot faster.

Verdict: Delicious! The cookies taste a bit more like cake than a traditional cookie (as many people noted on the Martha website). They are super soft and fluffy which makes them dangerous. I've already eaten three…

Cookies close up

Happy cooking!

Weekend adventuring
Happy weekend, everyone! I've been listening to the new Stars album The Five Ghosts this morning and it's making me want to jump in the car with the Husband and have a grand adventure. Hope it makes you feel the same.

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