The Slipper Incident

Last week I said goodbye to an old friend, my five-year-old pink Ugg slippers.

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This is a small glimpse of them, taken last year while watching, I think, an epic rerun of “Fantasy Island.”

My brother-in-law brought these back from Australia for me as a Christmas gift, and man, did they see some use.

I strongly dislike being barefoot due to multiple toe stubbing/breaking incidents over the years, as well as the fact that I just don’t like having dirty feet.

Slippers are always nearby.

What I liked about this Ugg pair:

  • They were warm
  • They fit well
  • They had a sturdy bottom that allowed for quick trips outdoors

About that sturdy bottom: it also was patterned with an intricate design, a feature that proved to be a big problem when I accidentally stepped into dog poop last week.

Yep. Glamorous me, back again.

And not only did I make the initial step, I didn’t notice the problem until about three steps later when that intricate design basically turned into the world’s worst rubber stamp on our floor.

After gagging and clean up of the floor, I inspected the slippers. The pattern was so delicate that it would have required something as fine as a pin to clean out all the grooves. When I noticed a big hole in the left toe (how had I missed that?), the decision was clear: the slippers were getting tossed.

Which meant it was time to shop for new ones.

I decided to stick with Uggs and couldn’t believe my luck when I found this adorable pair on sale:

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These are currently half price at Ugg. I ordered them even though the site said they are backordered, although the expected ship date is in a few days so I am not worried.

And good news: the pattern on the bottom seems easier to clean, although I hope I never find that out the hard way.

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Sigh.

 

 

 

 

The Boring Tasks of the Weekend

Yesterday I did some boring but satisfying tasks, perfect for a cold Sunday.

These included:

  • Writing down birthdays, vacations and important dates (like when Trixie needs to be picked up from camp 400 miles away) in the Lilly Pulitzer 2018 agenda I received for Christmas
  • Meal prep for the week. I roasted red/yellow/orange peppers, as well as two heads of cauliflower. I baked tofu and garbanzo beans to make vegetarian bowls. I hard boiled eggs for the fridge. I made a quick Mexican street corn salad with frozen corn, jalapeños, lime juice and zest, red bell peppers, cilantro and a small amount of nonfat Greek yogurt. This was a lot of cooking for me.
  • Sorted through a huge pile of papers on the kitchen counter, tossing half a garbage bag’s worth of unimportant stuff. Organized tax materials. 
  • Collected all of the holiday cards we received and looked at them again. Updated any new addresses for people who moved over the last year. Ugh. This caused huge guilt because we did not get around to sending cards this year.
  • Filled out school forms for MGM.
  • Communicated with our realtor about our home search.
  • And the usual suspects: Target run, laundry, gym.

I also pre-ordered this book this weekend, “The Year of Less.”  The tagline is this:

How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store

I can get behind that sentiment right now. Looking forward to getting it on January 16th!

2018 *Must* Be Better

Last night – a few hours before the calendar turned – I posted the following on Facebook:

2017 was a shitshow. 2018 *must* be better.

Over 40 people instantly agreed. 

2017 was such a hard, hard year.

In the end, I am here and so are the people I love, and that is the most important thing.

But it took a lot to make it so.

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I don’t think I handled 2017 with particular grace, but there were some wins, particularly professionally. Personally, I have a long way to go.

My goals for 2018, in no particular order:

  • Train for and successfully complete races. I’m leaving the exact races and distances vague, but I want 2018 to be a better running year. I only did one race in 2017 (a half marathon) and while it turned out ok in the end, I was woefully undertrained and the whole thing did not feel good. I also set a goal to get a PR in a fall marathon and dropped out of training two months before the planned race. That felt like a failure. By “successfully complete races” I mean that I want to confidently step up to the starting line and finish strong.
  • Appreciate and encourage the unique qualities of MGM (10) and Trixie (8).
  • Be well. Eat healthy food. Exercise. Spend time outdoors. Take some time off.
  • Get taxes done prior to April 15th.
  • Find a suitable new home for all of us. Move. 
  • Celebrate 20th anniversary with Spouse. I tend to downplay birthdays and anniversaries, sometimes nearly forgetting them. I know. Bad. Our 20th anniversary is in early June, and I plan to celebrate all summer long. I already have two trips planned (one for just the two of us, one for our whole family) to bookend the summer. Considering that my wedding ring took an accidental spin in the garbage disposal over a year ago, a new ring would also be icing on the cake.
  • Continue to grow our medical practice. Practice medicine to the best of my ability.
  • Cultivate friendships, old and new.

Cheers, 2018.

Tucker Dress Inspiration

Did you see this photo last week?

The title from Mashable says it all:

Insane wildfire photo perfectly sums up America in 2017

Golfing at the country club while the forest burns behind you. Yep.

And this is exactly how I felt about myself yesterday as I sat on the sofa shoveling ice cream into my mouth while remotely tracking two of my friends who were competing in the Ironman Wisconsin.

She just completed mile 62 of the bike portion? Wow! Slurp. Slurp.

Her half marathon time is better than mine, even after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112. Wow! She’s so amazing! Slurp. Slurp.

I was so impressed that two of my friends had done the work required for an Ironman and were now fearlessly competing. That was awesome. 

The correct thing to do here would have been to become insanely motivated and head out for a sweat session of my own, running in solidarity, but I did none of that.

I stayed on the couch.

Argh.

Earlier this year, I set a personal goal to train for and set a PR in a fall marathon. I had my sights set on the Twin Cities Marathon (October 8th), with the secret dream to stay in good enough shape to consider tacking on the 25th Anniversary of the Walt Disney World Marathon in January. These are both races I’ve done before and love.

Through the end of July, I kept up with my training fairly well. At that point I was commuting up to three hours a day, but I still found time to get in the weeknight runs as well as the longer ones on the weekends. In the week before we moved, I completed a 15 miler. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it.

And then came the move.

The first week, I missed three training runs during the weekdays but was able to complete my longer run (13.1 miles, it was a drop-back week) on Saturday.

The second week, I missed the weekday runs and the long run. I started to panic. I didn’t know routes, directions or water stops in my new neighborhood. I doubted the safety of running alone. It was hot.

I fell apart.

I made the lame excuse-ridden decision that this was not my year, and called it quits on the marathon plans, but I really let myself down.

Compounding that is the fact that while I changed my exercise patterns, I sure as heck didn’t change my eating. Frankly, the move has opened up a Pandora’s Box of great new restaurants to try in person or via delivery. There is even a liquor store that delivers through Amazon Prime’s two hour service to my house, which just sounds like the most dangerous thing ever. (I haven’t sunk quite that far).

Which brings me to the title of this post: Tucker Dress Inspiration.

Tucker is a NYC-based company that makes feminine, pretty clothes.

They are also very expensive.

While I love to spend money, it is hard even for me to justify buying a blouse that is almost $300.

Except – I have a work conference coming up next month, and the combination of my lifestyle factors (M&Ms, I’m looking at you) and job switch (moving from all suits/all the time to more business casual or even – yikes! – scrubs) has left me with limited wardrobe options.

And of course I want to look good.

These dresses from Tucker caught my eye:

The top one is called The Market Dress in Black Tire Track.

It’s silk and retails for $375.

The bottom is a fun Russian Dolls print.

The style is called “Abigail’s Party Dress” and it retails for $355. Tucker’s website styled it well for fall with black tights and boots. It looks adorable.

The real kicker? Both of these look like they *may* be forgiving of my recent indulgences.

I might have to find out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spinn Coffee

Bono said it best: I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

There seem to be a few things for which I am constantly searching for perfection:

  • The perfect work bag that holds all my essentials, has many organizational features, will hold up to spilled lunches and looks good in the process.
  • Luggage. Always luggage. Especially a lightweight carryon bag and weekenders.
  • A perfect white V-neck tee.
  • A homebrew coffee system that rivals anything I’d get at a coffee shop.

Looking back, I saw that I first posted about my search for a perfect cup of coffee at home over three years ago. 

Not much has changed since then, although I went so far as to attend a barista class last summer in Chicago. During the Q&A session at the end, I asked the instructor about which coffee machine(s) would be recommended for home use. His answer – and he was a competitor in barista competitions, which is a thing – was this: “I never make coffee at home.”

Not helpful.

When I pressed him, he said that if he had to buy something, he would invest in a commercial grade bean grinder. Estimated tab: $1500. Yikes.

So I stuck with my $40 Black and Decker machine that I purchased on sale at Target for $29.99.

Until Spinn came on the scene.

Ads for the not-yet-released Spinn coffee system started showing up on my Facebook feed last fall.

Spinn promises a lot: one machine to make everything from espresso to drip coffee, plus wi-fi integration and even an app that automatically orders beans from local roasters when your supply runs low.

Their website fueled the hype: Spinn machines were available for exclusive pre-order and for an introductory price that was 40% off future retail.

Well, the Spinn folks understand my psychology well, because one Friday night after a glass (or three) of wine, I placed my pre-order for a Spinn Plus machine.

To be fair, the Spinn team said that my order would not be shipped until mid-2017. I was in the first production wave, so I hoped that things would go ahead of schedule – or at least on time – and that I would be sipping my wi-fi espresso now as I type. My current Black and Decker machine could limp along until then.

Fast forward to this week: I received a long email that was signed as being from the head of Spinn, outlining a lot of gratuitous “wins” in their design and production process, essentially to provide window dressing to the fact that Spinn still doesn’t have any machines produced, and that “mid-2017” shipment is now going to be delayed at least 5-6 more months.

Hmm.

Now, I fall on the side of getting things right, but really? In the end – if a Spinn machine ever materializes – it’s going to be more than a year after I ordered it. Meanwhile, I’ve already paid for the machine (like all of the other pre-orders), so Spinn’s got $400 of my money while I’m left hanging.

I could get a Tesla faster than this.

Needless to say, I’ll be very, very excited once my Spinn finally arrives. It’s also going to have to go above and beyond the hype, given the hassle.

Until then, hopefully my Black and Decker keeps chugging away.

 

 

 

 

Day Off

I had an unexpected day off yesterday, which was absolutely fabulous. 

I’ve been doing much more driving back and forth between my current home and new(-ish) job, which is easily a three hour plus commute most days.

[Side note: If you want podcast recommendations, give me a shout! I’ve listened to a lot.]

Even one day without the drive was simply heaven.

The end is in sight: we rented a place that is less than two miles from my primary office and can move in mid-July. I kept the commute up until school let out (two weeks ago; our kids went very late). Given that our house still hasn’t sold, we also haven’t been in a rush to move, nor been in a position to buy another place.

The in between is killing me, though. Three hours per day of driving also gives you waaaaay too much time in your head to worry about your un-sold house, perseverate on patient situations, ruminate on family problems, pine for vacations untaken and generally feel trapped within your own life as you slowly crawl through endless stretches of road construction.

So that’s going on.

Which leads me to yesterday.

I woke up and remembered I did not have to work. Felt happy. Made coffee. I told our nanny not to come until 10 AM, and then I went for a 10 mile run once she arrived.

This was sorely needed. 

Up until a few months ago, I ran at least one 10 mile+ run every week and have done so for years. Usually, I’ve got a race on the calendar to train for, making those long runs a necessity. In May, though, I made the tough decision to skip the 2017 RunDisney Tinkerbell Half-Marathon and with that, I suddenly didn’t have a reason to cover those distances.

Yesterday went better than I expected and I felt great. This gives me hope for a fall marathon, and even possibly doing an early 2018 one.

The rest of the day was full of leisurely errands, like a Trader Joe’s run (perfectly ripe nectarines, avocados, baked ranch chickpeas and two kinds of cheese), getting shorts on sale for my son (who’s now 10! Sigh), and finishing up the packing list for Trixie’s upcoming three week stint at Camp Ogichi-Kaa-Dwe.

I also prepped for dinner: Home Chef’s Grilled Honey Mustard Steelhead Trout with Fresh Tomato Relish. 

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This pan is only for grilling. I know, it looks gross.

And I went through my new Evereve haul.

Last weekend I was at my friend P’s house and she received a Trendsend box. If you’re not familiar with this, it’s basically Evereve’s version of Stitch Fix.

Unfortunately, the person who loved almost everything in her box was me, not her.

This blouse was the first item she pulled out of the box and it had my name all over it:

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This is a silky Lovestitch top with fluttery short sleeves and a soft blue floral print on a blush background. I snapped this pic right in her kitchen so I could get my own, which is why the photography is worse than usual. (Note: I couldn’t find this on the site for Lovestitch nor on Evereve.com, but I was able to locate it in store).

Trendsend paired the blouse with this Braeve (housebrand at Evereve) open cardigan.

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The color didn’t translate well in the photo, but it’s a denim blue and looks great with the blouse.

P. wasn’t feeling either of those items, but I was falling hard. I would have bought them directly from her, but the sizes were off. There are about 4 inches and 40 pounds that separate us, with 5’9″ me on the big end of that equation, so a simple swap wasn’t in order.

Another item in the box was a ruffle sleeve striped black and white top from Peyton Jensen. This may also be an Evereve housebrand? I can’t tell, but I’ve only seen it there.

P. also wasn’t digging this top, but I loved it.

She also received a printed skirt, sleeveless black top and a cute fringed dress. These were more up her alley than mine.

On Tuesday afternoon I had a bit of time to kill between work and a haircut, so I went to Evereve (less than a mile from our rental house. Danger! Danger!) to do some sourcing.

One sales associate saw me hunting and asked what I was looking for. She knew the printed blouse immediately and brought it to me. She had an armful of clothes to return to the racks and the denim colored open cardigan was magically in the pile, so I snagged it to try on. Both were winners. Sold, although in the end I decided to get a different size in the blouse (L, not M) to make it more flowy and they have to send it to me).

The salesperson also brought a pair of navy Level 99 cargo-ish pants and I was pleasantly surprised by the fit. Mine. I also spied the perfect long oatmeal cardigan.

They had the striped ruffle sleeve top in my size (M), but in the end, I liked it better in a blush pink color.

Here’s the haul, minus the blouse:

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A closer look at the ruffle sleeve detail on the top:

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I would describe the fabric as a soft sweatshirt material. It is extremely comfortable.

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Like everyone else in Summer 2017, I am all about blush pink.

The long cardigan, in a perfect oatmeal color:

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I’m super happy with Evereve right now.

While every day can’t be an unexpected day off, yesterday was pretty darn awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orangetheory Fitness and Me

I recently started attending classes at Orangetheory Fitness.

Here’s a description of the workout from the Orangetheory website:

Our heart-rate monitored, high-intensity workout is scientifically designed to keep heart rates in a target zone that spikes metabolism and increases energy.

Here’s my take: This is a killer workout that uses heart rate monitors to force you to your breaking point.

The ostensible goal is to get 12-20 minutes per workout in the “Orange Zone,” where you are working at 84-91% of your maximum heart rate.

Ok, this is really hard to do.

The hour-ish long workouts combine running (or walking) on a treadmill, rowing and calisthenic exercises, usually with hand held weights.

Participants spend about half of the workout on the treadmills and rowing machines, and the other half in the weight area. The cardio time consists of stints of working at Base Pace (which is what I would consider my normal running pace, maybe 6.3-6.5 MPH, or a 9:30-9:10 minute pace per mile), Push Pace (1-2 MPH over Base Pace), and All Out Intervals, where you just go nuts and run until you feel like your heart will explode.

Why I decided to try this:

  • I love running and have been working hard for the past six months or so to get faster. Speed work – which the Orangetheory workouts naturally include – are a necessary pain to achieve that goal.
  • I secretly have always wanted to be a rower. Spouse was on the crew team in college and later taught me to row. I regret not trying it earlier, especially in college because I think I would have been pretty damn good at it.
  • While I love to do cardio, I hate to lift weights. Without the pressure of a personal trainer or a group, I just won’t do it. And I know weight lifting is important to overall conditioning.

Here’s a dirty secret about Orangetheory: if you’re already in good cardiovascular shape when you join, it’s going to be really, really challenging to get 12-20 minutes in the magic Orange Zone during the class.

For me, getting to the Orange Zone requires running on the treadmill at a speed of at least 7.5-8 MPH, which is waaaaaaay faster than my normal pace.

And it is super uncomfortable to do so.

On the flip side, if you’re not in good cardiovascular shape, you could easily get to the Orange Zone just by briskly walking on the treadmill at a modest incline.

I routinely see people get 20+ minutes in the Orange Zone, whereas it is a struggle for me to reach 12. This is humbling. It is hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that while I am working extremely hard, I need to work harder. Part of me always wants to throw in the towel and feel Good Enough with what I’m doing, which is often a lot more treadmill work than the person next to me.

But I guess that’s the whole point of Orangetheory. Push. Push. Push.

Yesterday was particularly humbling: I went to a class and got zero Orange Zone minutes.

My heart rate monitor read a steady 112 BPM even when I was running 8 MPH at a 5% incline.

Something was not right.

At the end of the class, I approached the (very fit) front desk worker and said that my heart rate monitor did not seem to be working. He asked me to show him how I was wearing it, which prompted lifting my shirt and providing an embarrassing display of my abdomen to the entire studio.

Turns out, I was wearing the heart rate monitor upside down, and it will definitely not work properly that way. Whoops.

Big sigh for my life.