Happy Halloween!

Ok, I am officially declaring this A Thing. 

And a brilliant one, at that.

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We’re all set for trick-or-treaters, with lots of candy for the kids and shots of Fireball for the grown-ups.

Spouse gets all the credit for this one, but really, why didn’t I think of it before?

Who wouldn’t want a little warm up while you’re out with the kids, slogging from door to door on a night that is going to prove to be cold and windy?

Happy Halloween, Folks! Please stop by.

Fair Isle Made Modern

Fair Isle patterns really aren’t my thing.

They just harken memories of bad 1980s sweaters like these:

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All 80s sweaters via liketotally80s

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And yet … they’re suddenly everywhere. 

Over the weekend, I saw a cute outfit in a magazine pairing a Fair Isle sweater with an icy blue skirt. Specifically, this Fair Isle sweater from Old Navy:

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This rings in at less than $40.

And then I opened up the latest Boden catalog to see this:

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I like the neon pink color pop.

Here’s another option from J. Crew Factory:

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If you’re not ready to commit to the trend, these accessories are a start:

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Splendid scarf

And even though this Boden Hat & Mittens set with a matching Scarf are technically for tweens, I could still see them being cheery and fun for adults:

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Are you wearing Fair Isle this fall?

Cheap Thrill: Kids’ Bath Edition

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Trixie (6) and MGM (8) saw these Crayola Color Bath Dropz at Target a few weeks ago, and since it was in the middle of one of our frantic weekly trips where we race through the store, sweating and randomly tossing things into the cart, I didn’t see them among our purchases until we made it home.

Sigh.

We tried them out that night, and they were were a hit!

The Bath Dropz come in red (looks purple in the container, but they’re red), yellow and blue.

One will tint the water (and not the tub or kids, a very important point), but two or more really makes for a fun kid bath.

Our favorite combos:

  • 2 yellows + 1 red = bright orange
  • 2 blues + 1 red = deep purple
  • 2 yellows + 1 blue = grass green
  • 2 blues + 1 yellow = a gorgeous turquoise, similar to Caribbean water

At around $4 for 60 tablets, these were a cheap thrill. 

An Incredible Tap Performance for the Weekend

My jaw dropped when I saw Michelle Dorrance’s tap performance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert earlier this week.

I would say that this has to be seen to be believed, but it’s really the sound that makes this special.

Winner of a 2015 MacArthur “Genius Grant,” dancer and choreographer Michelle Dorrance is described as “one of the most imaginative tap choreographers working today” by the New Yorker. 

I couldn’t believe my good fortune when I discovered that she will be performing near me next month. I snapped up two tickets, one for me and one for Trixie (6).

I hope she is inspired to try tap! Maybe I’ll give it a whirl, too.

Have a great weekend!

On Injury

I recently had a very humbling experience.

Ok, this was really just one of many humbling experiences life seems to throw my way, but this one was specifically related to running.

[It is also moderately painful to admit I need to categorize, sub-classify and then create my own Dewey Decimal System for the myriad humbling/humiliating/mortifying events that surround me].

I was planning a fairly easy Friday night run a little over a month ago. Thirty minutes in to what should have been a comfortable six miler, I felt something pop or snap in the back of my right leg.

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Image via Active.com

The pain was immediate, and all I could think of what that something really, really bad had happened.

Initially I couldn’t even bear weight on the leg and worried how I’d get home.

After about 40 minutes of sitting down, I was able to take a few s-l-o-w steps at a time and made it to my car, where I called my friend D. – a genius physical therapist – for some emergency advice.

D. agreed to meet me at my house that night and put my knee/leg through a series of tests to determine the source. At the time, it fortunately did not seem to be a serious knee injury; rather it was more consistent with a hamstring pull.

She was even able to nail down the tender spot to one specific site and – great friend that she is, seriously D. is the best! – she came over four times over that weekend to manually dig into that spot and work on the strained area.

By Monday morning, with the help of D., ibuprofen and copious icing, I felt about 90% better.

But I knew that this was a warning sign.

Unfortunately, 25+ years of running has not necessarily made me a better runner. I have bad habits. 

  1. I rarely stretch or foam roll.
  2. I run to the detriment of everything else. When time is tight, which it always is, I choose running. If I have 45 minutes, I run for 45 minutes, not 30 with 15 minutes of conditioning, etc.
  3. I rarely strength train.
  4. I often take a weekend warrior approach and run taxing, big miles on the weekends and much shorter distances during the week.
  5. I don’t monitor my form.

The list could go on for a long time.

With my wake-up call, I did the following:

  • Went to PT. This has been extremely helpful. At my first appointment, the physical therapist politely asked if, perhaps, I thought I had weak glutes and a weak core? My resounding laughter affirmed his inquiry. He gave me a series of exercises, a strengthening band and I’ve been following up with him once a week for a total of five sessions.
  • Was treated with the Graston Technique. This was new to me, but it really seemed to help. Stainless steel instruments are used to comb the affected area and identify any muscle disruptions, which are then worked on with deep tissue release techniques. The person I was working with said that he could feel the torn area in my semimembranosus muscle.
  • Did a video taped running analysis. Actually, I did this twice. Once was at a sports performance assessment with a PhD Physical Therapist and running expert, and the second time was at a store when I bought new running shoes. I was warned before watching the video that the angles were not that flattering, but essentially I was filmed on a treadmill with four cameras watching me run. After painfully getting past the jiggling, I could see what they saw: I slouch, I pronate and I don’t engage my glutes well so my hips drop with every step. Over time, that adds up to injury.
  • Bought new shoes. My old ones were examined by a few different people and determined to still have life in them, but it was recommended to consider a pair with better foot guidance to avoid pronation. Ok. Check.
  • Watched a lot of YouTube videos on proper running form. Like this one.
  • Tried to clean up my diet and lose some weight, which is undeniably helpful on the joints. (Notice I say “tried” since I fell off the wagon this week).
  • Concentrated a lot on my form. When running, I worked on keeping my feet underneath my center of gravity to avoid overstriding, leaning forward from the ankles and engaging my core, and taking shorter, quicker steps to increase my overall cadence. It’s hard to remember to do all of this simultaneously, though.

So, here’s what happened: things seemed to get better within about three weeks. Both the physical therapist I have been seeing and I were wondering why I was even in PT. I wanted to test my leg out, and I was very, very nervous about getting behind on my training schedule for the January marathon I have on deck.

After a few gingerly-executed runs, I went out an did an 11 miler two Saturdays ago. I felt great! My form seemed better, it was a beautiful day, and I was optimistically thinking that I would come back better than before.

And then on Sunday, my right knee blew up like a balloon.

It did not look good.

Not only did it hurt, there was also a crunchy spot I could feel when I bent it.

Sigh.

I really started to fear a meniscal injury, since new pain was now present at what I thought might be the joint line.

I took five days off running and did three miles last Friday. The knee hurt more.

Last Saturday, I was supposed to run 12 miles. I did zero.

This week, things seem cautiously, slightly better. I ran twenty minutes on Thursday night with some walking intervals mixed in. I felt very deconditioned. That was humbling, but I made it through without aggravating the knee more and it doesn’t feel bad today.

Being sidelined as a runner doesn’t feel good, but overall I’m still trying to remember my mantra “I run because I get to,” and be grateful for any (healthy) steps I take.

This meme summed it up well:

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Fingers crossed for recovery!

Big Sigh For My Life, October 2015 Edition

A few funny things are going on lately. I mean weird, not ha-ha.

Seriously, what’s in the water?

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First of all, I’ve been struggling with a nagging running injury. More on that later this week, but it’s really becoming a drag. I’m rightfully worried about the half marathon I have coming up in a few weeks and the full marathon I’m training for in January.

Work-wise, I owe everybody something. Argh! I agreed to give several talks and am woefully behind on getting the presentations ready. This does not feel good.

Speaking of work, there’s really a yin and yang going on. I don’t like to talk too specifically about my job, but I found out last week that I have an exciting and unexpected trip to a very exotic location on the horizon, which is awesome.

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Hint

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then I immediately got a brutal rejection for a paper that I submitted to a journal detailing a research project that I’ve been working on for over a year. The rejection email was cringe-worthy. Crying would be a legitimate response.

And my shoes fell apart.

After 8+ years as my trusty OR clogs, my worn Danskos quite literally rotted away. I guess they’d seen one too many liquid spills and splashes of all sorts of nastiness.

This turn of events was unpleasant, but I used my new Amazon Prime membership to score this rainbow pair within a cool 48 hours.

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New shoes – love!

Last work-related item: We conveniently have meetings Every Single Day during the time that most people would, say, go out for lunch or procure something lunch-y to eat, so brown-bagging it is pretty necessary lest there be no sustenance at all.

Due to my propensity to rip, spill and otherwise ruin things (see rotten shoes above), I go through a lot of lunch totes, some cooler than others.

I recently purchased one for MGM (8) at the start of the school year, which I thought he would love based on his TV viewing habits.

Instead, he deemed it too baby-ish (although an R2D2 lunchbox apparently is the height of third grade chic), which is why I am a now 42-year-old accomplished physician carrying my sandwich and apple to work in this:

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Big sigh for my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stitch Fix #9

Ok, last week I wrote about how I thought Stitch Fix had jumped the shark and I was seriously contemplating a break up.

And then a new box arrived on my doorstep and it was all “Reunited” by Peaches and Herb. 

Reunited and it feels so good
Reunited ’cause we understood
There’s one perfect fit
And, sugar, this one is it
We both are so excited ’cause we’re reunited, hey, hey

Unboxing photo #1:

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All I could see was a dark blob…

which turned out to be this jacket:

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This Tart Hala Wrap Jacket is made of supremely soft fleece, and basically it is right up my alley, style-wise.

The fit was like a cozy robe, but in the best possible way. It was also mightily similar in fit to the M.M. LaFleur Morandi sweater I happened to be wearing at the time, and I love that sweater. Good pick, Stitch Fix, good pick.

Next up: this Market & Spruce Fierro Elbow Patch Crew Neck Sweater.

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This is a basic black crew neck sweater with gray elbow patches.

I’d been pinning a lot of elbow patch sweaters to my Stitch Fix style board, so this was another good choice from my stylist. It’s minimalist. It’s modern. I loved it.

Item #3 was a pair of Gorjana earrings:

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These are described as “Heather Hammered Bar Drop Earrings.” I don’t have anything similar, so I like them. At $34, they’re also not too spendy.

I didn’t know how to feel about the next piece, these jeans:

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At first I couldn’t figure out what color these Level 99 Giovanni Straight Leg Jeans were. Green? Gray? Faded black? The stylist’s note said they were gray.

Ok, let’s go with that.

I don’t have any gray jeans and the fit was alright, so I was on the fence.

This shirt was piece #5:

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As soon as I saw this Papermoon Tigard Lace Back Knit Top, I hated it. The tag says this was made for Stitch Fix.

This just looked so cheap. The striped fabric is henley material and the back has an internal lace layer with a shorter back. The colors are faded browns. Blech.

And yet…

I tried it on, and it wasn’t terrible. The stretchy fabric was soft and the muted colors actually looked good with the sweater I was wearing. While I would never pick this out in a store, I am contemplating keeping it for the buy-it-all Stitch Fix discount.

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And now for some Stitch Fix math:

  • I like the Tart jacket ($98) and the crew neck sweater ($58) = $156
  • The earrings ($34) are also pretty cool. $156 + $34 = $190
  • The jeans are listed at $98 and the knit top is $58
  • Retail for everything is $346, but the Buy 5 Discount subtracts $86.50 and the Styling Fee credit is $20, so the total to keep it all is $239.50.

I’m not sure I’m feeling Fix #9 to the tune of $239.50, but I am definitely interested in the jacket, sweater and earrings.

And overall, this Fix was the best one in months. A big Note to Self is that I need to keep pinning more things I like to my Pinterest style board, which I think made all the difference.

Are you still into Stitch Fix?