July 13, 2010

stay tuned for a new Claremont Road!

As of tomorrow,
my new home on the internet will be at


I am so excited to unveil the new blog design, which is a bit cleaner and much more "me"; I'll be working tonight to transfer my Feedburner account over to the new URL, so those of you who subscribed to this blog via that "subscribe" link in the left sidebar will (hopefully) still see new posts in your feed without having to change a thing. However, technology and I aren't always the best of friends, so if you notice that you're not seeing new posts later this week, pretty please head on over to claremontroad.com and resubscribe. I'll be ever so grateful to know that you're still reading :)

Thank you so much for reading, and for sticking with me through this transition. I look forward to sharing more and more goodness with you as Claremont Road continues to grow!

July 12, 2010

Monday music, vol. 23: In The Summertime

Every Monday, I'll be sharing a pick-me-up song with the hopes of helping you begin your week on a positive note. Happy Monday!

This remains a favorite summer anthem of mine. (Try to ignore the frightening 70s sideburns, though.)

Buy this song here.

confectionary stencils

Artist Megan Herbert turned some of her illustrations into stencils for decorating coffee and desserts; I love that using these would allow fondant-impaired persons such as myself to create a presentable dessert without requiring too much work and frustration.

images via Megan Herbert, found via paper tastebuds

July 10, 2010

number 48: in which I check my inhibitions at the door (er, beach)

I did it. Number 48 on my list. I bared my pale, soft belly for everyone to see on a New Jersey beach.

Do I feel totally rid of every insecurity and inhibition I've ever had about my body? Of course not. Did I still catch myself covering/hiding my belly a few times? Sure. But did it feel pretty good to say "screw it" and put on my cute green bikini that I haven't worn since our honeymoon (where we didn't know anyone, and I was 8 pounds lighter)?


I'll be 30 in just over a month. I haven't had a flat tummy... ever. I have always carried those few extra pounds right around my middle. Even on our honeymoon, at my thinnest, I was still self-conscious about my belly. I haven't really lost weight recently, though I feel noticeably healthier since I've been working out more often. (Prime example: it was too hot to run outside while we were away, so I did a little Shred-ding with Jillian one morning — and it felt totally easy!).

On vacation last week with my family, I looked around on the beach one day and thought, I am nowhere near being the most fit person on this beach, but I am also far from being the least fit person on this beach. Women and men of all shapes and sizes were comfortable enough in their skin to wear whatever bathing suit their little hearts desired, and I didn't judge them for it. So why have I been judging myself so harshly?

I originally added number 48 to my list as a motivator to lose weight, like this fabulous lady did. And I still do hope to lose a few pounds, and be a little less shy to wear a two-piece someday, without feeling the need to suck in a little... but if I wait for perfection to don a bikini, I'll be waiting forever.

So, I did it. And it felt kind of good, imperfections and all.

July 1, 2010

oh, hi.

Happy July, friends! It's been another quiet week here at Claremont Road. I've been super busy with work and trying to soak up this awesome spring-like weather while it lasts.... oh, and working on getting a new (and I mean TOTALLY new!) blog design up. (Stay tuned! I'm pretty pumped about it.)

I'll be back as soon as inspiration strikes :)

June 28, 2010

Monday music, vol. 22: (I've Had) The Time of My Life

Every Monday, I'll be sharing a pick-me-up song with the hopes of helping you begin your week on a positive note. Happy Monday!

Nobody puts Baby in a corner.

Buy this song here.
See the scene from the movie (which I can't embed... boo)

June 27, 2010

stationery vs. stationary


June 24, 2010

my very own toy story

Last night, Nick and I went to see Toy Story 3 in 3D.... and there were no shortage of tears that resulted. I am a fan of the Toy Story series in general, and all of the movies have had touching and tearful moments (well, at least for me — I'm a crier), but this was some serious, I'm-sobbing-and-I-hope-no-one-can-see-me-behind-these-giant-3D-glasses kind of crying. If you've seen the movie, you probably know what I mean. (Or you just think I'm crazy and hormonal. Also true.) I'm not going to sell him out, but let's just say that someone sitting to my left may have also had tears running down his face.

What can I say? We're a bunch of saps.

I won't ruin the ending of the movie for anyone who has not yet seen it, but the premise of the film is that Andy, the toys' owner, is all grown up and going off to college; Andy no longer has the same need for Woody and Buzz (and the rest of his beloved toys) as he prepares to move on to his exciting new life. It's true that we all grow up and lose some of the emotional attachment we once had with our toys, but I'm pretty sure that we all had our own Woody and Buzz at some point; those toys that represent our childhood, our innocence, our happiness.

For me, those toys were my CPKs — my Cabbage Patch Kids. My two best friends — Jill and Denise — and I were totally in love with our CPKs. We went over to each other's houses and had CPK school, CPK parties, CPK dance recitals... CPK everything. We had piles upon piles of clothes and accessories for our kids. We were enamored with them and they truly were like our own children.

My first Cabbage Patch Kid was Carol — she had orange yarn for hair and she was one of the original dolls when the CPK fad first hit in the early 80s. I adored Carol, and she came with me wherever I went... including one fateful trip to the store with my mom where Carol was accidentally left behind. I was heartbroken when we couldn't find her, but never fear — Carol 2.0 soon became mine and all was right with my world again.

me with the original Carol;
please take note of my stylish Strawberry Shortcake shoes

and the delightful shag carpeting

Over the years, I collected more and more Cabbage Patch Kids — some were gifts, some I saved up for and bought with my own money, some were inherited from my older brother when the novelty of the boy dolls wore off on him. At one point, I had 12 CPKs. Excessive, perhaps, but they were my world. I really don't remember any other dolls or toys that I loved as a kid, and that was probably because I didn't have a lot of others. My joy came from my CPKs, so that's what I stuck with.

The summer before I turned ten years old, my mom, brother and I went to visit relatives in New Orleans. My dad still had to work, so he stayed home and held down the fort, and the days that he'd be on the road for work, our neighbors were going to stop in to feed our dogs. Of course I couldn't bring all of my CPKs to New Orleans with me, so I chose one to bring along — her name was Jillian and she was one of the new bath-time Cabbage Patch Kids who had a rubbery body that could get wet; she had silky blond hair and wore a cute little yellow bathing suit with bright pink polka dots, and a bathrobe on top. My other 11 kids stayed home.

The day before our trip, Jill, Denise and I had forced our parents to sit through a CPK dance recital in Jill's basement; my kids and their plethora of costumes were still in the garbage bag that I had transported them to Jill's house in.

Yes... a garbage bag. Do you see where this is going?

I remember leaving the bag at the bottom of our stairs, by the front door, in the living room of our house on Claremont Road. It was completely my fault; I should have put the bag in my room when I got back from Jill's house that day, or taken the dolls out of the bag entirely and put them away. But I didn't. To this day, we don't know who was responsible for disposing of the garbage bag, but it was just a very unfortunate accident. My kids were inadvertently put on the curb amidst the garbage and taken away. All I had left was Jillian, the doll I had taken to New Orleans with me.

We didn't realize what had happened until a day or so after we returned from our trip when I invited Jill over to play with our CPKs. She came from her house across the street with her own bag full of kids, while my mom and I looked everywhere for mine. We simply could not find them. And then, it hit us. When we finally realized what must have happened, I think my mom was as devastated as I was. I remember the look on Jill's face... she felt the loss, too. I cried and cried and cried.

It took a while to be able to joke about it, but my mom and I now refer to that fateful event as "the cruise" — as in, the cruise that my CPKs took... to the Bermuda Triangle.

Looking back, I was probably growing too old to still be regularly playing with dolls, and I didn't really want to replace all of my lost Cabbage Patch Kids; getting a Carol 3.0 just sounded like a silly idea. Perhaps losing them at that point in my life was a little sign that it was time to grow up.

I did eventually get a few more CPKs, but they could never have truly replaced my lost dolls; many of them became more like collectibles to me as I got older. They sat as decoration on the built-in shelves in my bedroom, and helped me to remember the old times. Denise gave me an artist Cabbage Patch Kid as a gift when we graduated from high school. It was a nice little reminder of who we once were all those years ago, and where we were going (I was headed to college to major in art). The Cabbage Patch Kids I gradually collected after "the cruise" are still tucked away in a bin in my mom's basement, including that artist doll who is still in her original box; maybe my future kids will enjoy playing with them someday.

It may sound crazy, but I still get a little choked up when I think about losing my kids. Recounting this story actually makes my heart hurt. Cabbage Patch Kids were such a huge part of my childhood, and although it may sound silly because they were only toys and not real people, that was really my first experience with heartbreaking loss. It was accidental and unexpected, and there was nothing anyone could do to get them back. Twenty years later, I can still clearly recall the sadness I felt.

I remember telling the story of "the cruise" to my friend Amy 10 or so years ago, and she had tears in her eyes as I relayed what happened. No matter who we are or where we came from, we can all relate to having that innocent, emotional connection with and undying love for a toy (or toys) as a child; fortunately, the memory of utter happiness and adoration for that thing is not something that can be taken away from you, even when the object is no longer part of your world.

Me with another one of my CPKs, years before "the cruise"

My childhood joy was my Cabbage Patch Kids... what was yours?

June 23, 2010

out with the old, in with the new

I bought myself some proper running shoes now that I'm taking this whole "physical activity" thing seriously. Aren't they pretty?

I won't even tell you how old my other shoes were... it's embarrassing how long I wore them (and how poorly they fit, which I didn't realize until now). My new kicks are Brooks Ravenna, and I feel like I'm wearing clouds on my feet! The Asics 1150 were a close second in my search, but they felt a little heavier, so the Brooks won out in the end. I got them a half size larger than my normal shoe size, which is what is recommended for running shoes.

I took them out for a test drive this morning, and they felt fantastic. They're not magical so I'm not quite running 5K yet, but once I do get there, hopefully my feet will be a little happier for having worn these! Now if someone could just tone down the freakin' HEAT in the northeast...

If you're in the Phillly metro area, I got these at the Bryn Mawr Running Company at 20% off, for a total of $79.00. I didn't find any cheaper pricing online, so they were a good deal for sure. And getting properly fitted at a specialty store is definitely the right way to go if you want the right fit.

June 22, 2010

flea market finds

On Sunday, we visited a huge flea market near Nick's parents' house (and "huge" may be an understatement; it's like nothing I've ever seen before). It is nothing short of awesome, and while I brought home a few treasures, there were many more that I left behind. As soon as we have more space, I can't wait to pick up more vintage goodness! (Nick is rolling his eyes as he reads this.)

I picked up this set of 3 children's books, published in 1959. No, we're not expecting, but I just couldn't resist the charming stories and illustrations (and they'll look cool in a baby's room someday!)

Apparently these books belonged to Ricky... should I call him?

We also found some cool old postcard books. I love the detailed illustrations and the colors; you just don't find postcards like this anymore.

What's your favorite flea market find?

June 21, 2010

101 in 1001... revisited

I haven't been keeping you all as up-to-date on my 101 in 1001 list as I did when I first started working on it. My apologies... I have continued checking items off the list, but many of them have been smaller things that aren't necessarily blog-post-worthy. I'll continue to keep you posted when I tackle any of the larger items, I promise!

The list really has kept me motivated to follow through with my goals, and evaluate new goals that I want to set for myself. I decided to replace a few things on my original list, since they may not necessarily be things that are applicable to my life anymore (for instance, I no longer have the goal of taking new classes at the gym, because I no longer have a gym membership!). I also have some new goals that I thought were a bit more noteworthy. And once something is on the list, I really have to hold myself accountable to get it done.

See my entire revised list here... I've also listed my new additions below.

Additions/replacements - 2010

6. start a business (April 2010)
45. run a 5K race
53. write a manuscript (and submit to publishers)
77. attend Altitude Design Summit
81. attend a Making Things Happen seminar with Lara Casey

And a few notes....

6: I already did this one, but it's a doozy, so I thought it deserved a place on my list ;) It's honestly been a goal of mine for years, but I never thought it would realistically happen before I turned 30. It did, though, and I've never been happier.

45: Since I've actually been keeping up with C25K (albeit at a slower pace than the actual program), I have decided that I'm really going to follow through and sign up for a 5K race (probably in the early fall). As the most unathletic person on earth, I'm slightly terrified, but it's an exciting goal.

53. I have had an idea for a book for a few years now, but I can never find the time to write it. It's time to make the time and just do it. Holler.

77. This conference is right up my alley; I found out about it too late in the game last year, so I'm going to try really hard to get there this year!

81. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Lara Casey schedules more dates for MTH, and that I can afford to attend. She is an idol of mine who has accomplished so much so young, and I'd love to learn from her!

Monday music, vol. 21: Merry Happy

Every Monday, I'll be sharing a pick-me-up song with the hopes of helping you begin your week on a positive note. Happy Monday!

I love Kate Nash's sweet voice and honest lyrics... and I love that you can tell she's British. (Isn't it weird that some people, like Elton John, don't sound British when they sing, but other people do? I have always wondered why...)

Anyway, I like that this song is a little sad, but not in an angst-y way — it is actually kind of sweet.

Buy this song here.

June 20, 2010

for dad

We were away this weekend so this post is a little late... but I just wanted to give a little shout-out to my dad on this Father's Day! I definitely got my love of dancing from him, and he always laughs at my jokes. What more could a girl ask for?? I'll forgive him for passing on his dark, large eyebrows to me (they need a lot of taming) since he's so nice.

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

wedding photos by The Wiebners

June 17, 2010

adventures in swimsuit shopping

Remember last month when I posted about the adorable polka dot swimsuit from J.Crew that I just had to have?

After a few of you mentioned how "me" it was, I caved and ordered it. And, well — hmm, how do I put this? — the girls, we'll call them Donna and Debbie (if you catch my drift), did not really fit in this suit. Not at all. It bordered between hilarious and offensive, and I was certainly not leaving my bedroom, let alone going to the beach, looking like that.

Talk about disappointment; it was so cute and a perfect fit otherwise, but the whole spilling-out-of-the-top part... not a good scene.

I reluctantly returned it and instead ordered the same suit I bought last year, but in a different color. This style has a variation for ladies with their own Donna and Debbie duo going on up top. I really like it, but I'm still mad at J.Crew for not offering the polka dot suit for the ladies with a little extra somethin'!

It has been a constant struggle over the last, oh, 15 years, to find swimsuits that fit right. Where do you find suits that fit your body the best?

Images via J.Crew

June 15, 2010

music philosophy posters

I love this music philosophy project... and I'm sort of mad that I didn't do it first.

June 14, 2010

strawberry shortcake, the claremont way

Before I met Nick, strawberry shortcake consisted of a store-bought shortcake cup, some chopped up strawberries, and Reddi-Whip. After I met Nick, strawberry shortcake became a much more delightful treat that I now look forward to every spring.

I don't know if it's a Central PA thing or just his family's traditional way of making it, but I do know that it is scrumptious. Here's what to make:

2 1/3 C Bisquick
3 Tbs sugar
1/2 C milk

Mix ingredients; in an ungreased 8" pan, spread mixture and bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

mash up strawberries
add sugar to taste
that's it :)

Cut a piece of the shortcake you made and put it in a bowl. (I like to break mine up.)

Add the crushed strawberry mixture. Don't be shy... add lots. You won't be sorry.

Pour some milk on top, enough to soak into your shortcake.

Mash that baby up and mix it all around to make a gooey, sweet, and delicious treat. Dig in!

Strawberry season is a short one, so when we have the opportunity to make this with some really amazing berries, we often have it in place of meals. I know, I know — not the most wholesome dinner! But boy, is it yummy.

Have you ever seen/had strawberry shortcake like this?

Monday music, vol. 20: Africa

Every Monday, I'll be sharing a pick-me-up song with the hopes of helping you begin your week on a positive note. Happy Monday!

Do you ever have songs that "follow" you? I hadn't heard this song in a while, but in the last few weeks I think it has come on the radio four or five times, so, clearly, I took it as a sign that I had to share it with you. It brings me back to 7th grade geography class :)

Buy this song here.

June 11, 2010

So You Think You Can Dance is back!

If you've kept up with this blog for a little while, you know that I am a die-hard So You Think You Can Dance fan. I have been since season one, when not many people watched and when the host was sucky (the fantastic Cat Deeley is now half the reason I watch). I used to do weekly recaps, but it got to be a little too much, so now I just like to check in from time-to-time to chat SYTYCD to any other addicts out there.

When I first heard that season 7 was going to have a new format, with only a top 10 making it past the Vegas auditions and "all-star" cast members returning to the show to round out 20 dancers, I was hesitant. I don't like change. I always liked the show the way it was before, so why change it? Then they announced who the all-stars would be, and I quickly changed my tune. Neil! Twitch! Allison! Courtney! Pasha! (Among others.) Amazing.

On Wednesday night, the top 10 were chosen (but it's actually the top 11 because they just couldn't narrow the guys down to 5). Last night was the first performance show of the season, and it did NOT disappoint. I can breathe easier — the show I love and look forward to every summer is back!

So far in the top 11, I am loving Kent, Lauren, Billy, and Cristina. You can learn more about all of the dancers here and here. Oh, and for regular SYTYCD updates on dancers past and present, I love SYTYCDism.

I'm looking forward to seeing the first week of competition next week; who are you rooting for?

June 10, 2010

GUEST POST: A Starter Course for New Runners OR How to Run Without Falling Over. Really.

Please welcome my good friend Penny for the very first guest post EVER on Claremont Road! Take it away, girlfriend...

Hello! My name’s Penny, and I am a map artist and blogger over at Pantomime Papers. There are lots of pencils and paper in my life!

In addition to drawing, I’m also an endurance runner. I know your very own Brooke-o-licious has been working through the Couch25K running program, and so I thought many of you might be doing the same thing. Perhaps you are even training for your first 10k, half marathon, or – lawsy – full marathon! Two years ago, I couldn’t even run a half mile straight through… but in December 2009, I completed my first full marathon. I learned so much about running during all my race training through trial and error – I thought some of you new runners out there could benefit from my pulled muscles and crying in the gutter! (Seriously, I had a rainy 18-mile training run that had me crying six ways to Sunday – don’t tell anyone.)

SO, these are my best tips – the tips that helped take me from couch to crossing the finish line. Every runner is different, so definitely take what sounds helpful and leave the rest. This is just what worked for me! Seriously, you can do this, whether your goal is to be able to run 1 mile, a 5k, a 10k – anything. As the most unathletic person I know… if I can become a runner, anybody can do it. You might even start to enjoy it!

1) Good Gear: Buy a Pair of Real Running Shorts

For-real running clothes (the kind you buy at a sports store) is miles better than our Target yoga pants or – God forbid – Umbros. “Real” running clothes are made out of wicking material; they wick sweat away from your body to keep you cool and dry. Running clothes feel breezy; workout clothes will stick to you and then chafe your lady parts. You do NOT want to chafe your lady parts. Right? Right. (Body Glide helps with that, too.) Running clothes can get expensive, so if you can only buy one piece… snag some shorts for between $30-$45. You can make less-than-stellar tops work, but nice shorts will make you a happy camper. Look for a pair that’s not too short (to avoid riding-up) and that feels super-comfy. Many will even have a pocket for your keys – bonus!

SUPER-TIP: For the best $$ deals, try on shorts at the store, then order from Running Warehouse. Almost always, I find they’re much cheaper than retail!

2) Sometimes Walking Helps You Run

I had a really tough time during my first year of running. I always felt sluggish when running, and it was just so hard! My after-run recovery time was SO slow, too. On my long run days, I would fall on my face into bed for hours. I’d wonder “WHY is this so tough for me; what am I doing wrong?” Ummm, that’s when I discovered Jeff Galloway, one of the most popular running experts out there (overlook the sadly unfashionable book cover). He advises implementing walk breaks into your runs. Jeff says that incorporating walk breaks helps prevent injuries and significantly shortens recovery time. “Ho-kay, I’ll try it.” And you know what? He was right.

I started out with four minutes of running followed by one minute of walking. The walk breaks meant that I could knock out a ten-mile run without feeling like I was going to die; and I was bopping out to lunch with friends afterwards! No more losing an entire day to my long runs, and I started to ENJOY running! Crazytunes. Now, a year later, I’ve worked up to run one mile, walk for one minute, with a twelve minute per mile pace (including the walks!)

SUPERTIP: So you don’t have to keep looking at a stopwatch, time out your intervals with your iPod. Create a playlist of bumpin’ songs to run to, but every five minutes (or whatever interval you choose) lay in a 60-second (ish) “walk” song. When you hear the walk song, you’ll know it’s time to… walk. :) I use “Guilty”, by Billie Holiday for my walk cues.

3) You Can’t Run on Empty

Fueling is so important to running. Drink tabs (I use Nuun tabs) are these fizzy tabs you dissolve into your water bottle. They power you better than water, but won’t send you into sugar shock like Gatorade. Gu Chomps are these chewy gummies to munch on before and during your run – they’ll keep you going when you’re low on energy!

SUPERTIP: After your run, within thirty minutes, it’s really important to eat a little something… a little chicken, juice, fruit, anything! It takes awhile for your body to wind down after a run. Your feet stop, but your body keeps going. You have to eat so that your metabolism chews up calories from food, not your hard-earned muscles! Bananas are a really great post-run snack.

4) Your Left Brain is Nuffin’ but Trouble, So Ignore It

The left side of our brain is useful for many things… running is not one of them. The left side is what says “This stinks. I hate running. What the heck am I doing here!?” The left side also says things like “It’s raining/snowing/sleeting/etc – I don’t want to run in this.” It’s ok to think these things, but think them while you lace up your shoes and hit the pavement anyway. The true rewards in running aren’t in that race at the end; the rewards are in your training – in the sweat and push, in challenging your boundaries, accomplishing things you never thought your body could accomplish. One of my best runs was an 8k race that I ran in a freak blizzard. My time was crappy; I was soaked from head to toe – but I finished. And I felt like a beast.

SUPERTIP: Nike+ is a great wristband tool that will help you track your running progress in a really fun and motivating way. Your left brain won’t stand a chance! See my full review here and feel good about the progress you’ll make as you build a running history!

In closing…

Learning to run has truly changed my life, and – don’t faint – I really love it. A former couch potato loves to run. I hope these tips helped you on your own running journey – much luck on the road!

Little Bee

A few months ago, I bought Little Bee by Chris Cleave, but it took me a while to sit down and finally crack it open. Over Memorial Day weekend, while lounging on the beach, I finally dug in... and, five hours later, I had to peel myself out of my beach chair and head home because I was starting to get sunburned. It was that captivating.

image source

Little Bee is a Nigerian runaway exploring a new world and trying to connect with the only two people she knows in a foreign country. I don't want to give anything away because I really enjoyed that each detail of the story was a complete surprise to me, so I will just say a few things to help you decide if this is a book you'd like to read:
  1. It is, by no means, a "feel good" story... BUT, it is beautifully written. The imagery and descriptions pulled me in immediately, and I don't think I'll soon forget a single detail of Little Bee's life and journey.
  2. The character development and clear, distinct voices make you feel really connected to the two main narrators.
  3. I literally couldn't put it down and I read it in 3 sittings. I've been in sort of a reading slump lately, so it was nice to feel really invested in this story.
Have you read Little Bee? What's on your summer reading list this year?

June 9, 2010

C25K and LoseIt! progress (and a few steps back)

It's been about a month and a half since I've been following the Couch to 5K program, and a month since I've been tracking calories with the LoseIt! app. I've been planning to post a little follow-up on my progress for you guys, but it's not without some embarrassment that I do so.

See — I was doing really well. I was keeping up with C25K, building my momentum, and eating well. (By "well" I mean "better than the crap I usually eat." I'm not going to change overnight, people.) In four weeks, I had lost three out of the eight pounds I was hoping to lose! I felt great and motivated to keep going.

And then... and then... I got sick. Again. Just as I got sick halfway through my last attempt at the Shred, I was forced to throw in the towel for a few days while I got hopped up on Nyquill and made my way through about six boxes of tissues. (As an aside, I'm a generally healthy person. I can't help but wonder if I'm allergic to exercise and that's the reason I get sick every time I seem to commit to a new workout regime. I'm just sayin'...) Once I was feeling better, it was time to head down the shore for a long weekend with my family. My family and lots of food. My family and lots of food and some adult beverages. By the last day of our mini-vacation, I didn't even bother logging each thing I ate into LoseIt! — I just created a new food item in the app called "Caloriefest," estimated a whopping number of calories and called it a day. I told myself I'd start fresh the next day.

Well, the next day? It was like 97 degrees and humid in Philadelphia. The news stations were calling it a heatwave. And seeing as I have no gym membership, no treadmill, and an extremely whiny disposition when it comes to heat, I put my C25K runs on hold. For another week. I could have done some DVD or OnDemand workouts to stay active in the meantime, but I didn't. I just plain got lazy and didn't do anything, and, in addition, I slacked on logging my calories in LoseIt! all last week (and therefore ate too much junk).

I gained every pound back.

I'm mad at myself. I know it's not a huge amount of weight, but how disappointing to have done that well for a month only to throw it all away for some manicotti, cold beer, and some amazing lemon sugar cookies (among other things). I'm embarrassed that I've documented so many attempts at getting fit on this blog to no avail. What a bummer.

I can't let it get me down, though. Yesterday, I started back up with C25K (in case you're wondering, I'm stuck on week 4... but hey, at least I'm doing it), I'm back to logging what I eat into LoseIt!, and I'm trying to remember that I can't just diet and then splurge for a week and expect nothing to happen. Even when I'm not trying to lose weight, I need to remember that I still have to put a little effort into maintaining my weight, because clearly when I get lackadaisical, I gain. I'm not 17 anymore and I can't pig out like I used to without some love handles to show for it :-/ Sigh.

I'll continue to keep you all posted on my successes and failures as I work to get healthier and a little more svelte. In the meantime, tomorrow I'll be sharing a guest post from a good friend of mine who went from non-runner to marathon-completer — she is an inspiration and she'll be sharing some great tips for easing into the world of running. Stay tuned!

June 8, 2010

is your husband immature?

Mine is. This is what he does when mailing things to his parents (who, fortunately, have a good sense of humor):

photo courtesy of my mother-in-law

When writing me a check for the rent each month (no, we still haven't gotten our act together enough to organize our bills to pay from a joint checking account, shush), he also writes "*SEXUAL FAVORS*" in the memo line to embarrass me in front of the people at my bank.

Such a charmer, he is. Wherever did I find him?

June 7, 2010

Monday music, vol. 19: St. Elmo's Fire

Every Monday, I'll be sharing a pick-me-up song with the hopes of helping you begin your week on a positive note. Happy Monday!

Only 25 years late, I watched St. Elmo's Fire for the first time this weekend. Fashion from the 80s will never cease to amaze me — really, with the unflattering baggy everything and the crimped hair? But... I did enjoy the movie, and what a kick-ass theme song. I was singing it all weekend. (And please check out that glorious mullet.)

June 4, 2010

recycled paper garland

How adorable is this? I love pretty much any project that involves taking old book pages and making them into something charming and decorative, but this one might take the cake. I love the simplicity of this garland — and what a pretty thing to spruce up any room.

Check out the bookity shop on Etsy for this and other sweet items made of recycled paper.

found via Oh So Beautiful Paper

June 3, 2010

permanent press

You know you're a grown-up when you start lusting after beautiful laundry rooms.

Have you seen the great DIY transformation of Centsational Girl's laundry room? It makes me want to sing and dance around with an oversized bottle of Wisk.

I also love the tidy and organized laundry nook of John & Sherry from Young House Love.

Alas, for now, our little washer-dryer combo tucked behind a curtain (in my office, of all places) will have to do. Sigh. At least we have a washer-dryer, right?

June 1, 2010

small shore town love

We had an absolutely delightful long weekend at our new family shore house... the kind of weekend where I forgot to take lots of pictures because I was too busy relaxing/laughing/stuffing my face. (Yeah, I have renamed the weekend Caloriefest 2010 and it was NOT good for my diet. Oh, well.)

I did manage to snag some photos of this gem of an ad for a local dive bar. Small shore town, I adore you.

It's true — their ATM is always broken. Now, that's honest advertising if I've ever seen it. And don't forget, they "got the greatest cheesesteaks," but you'll have to go to the end of the world (and then one block to the left) to get one. Fantastic.

This is pretty much what the rest of the weekend consisted of:

Nick dug holes. I lounged around with a great book and zero people coming between me and the ocean. Heavenly.

May 31, 2010

Monday music, vol. 18: Summer Vacation

Every Monday, I'll be sharing a pick-me-up song with the hopes of helping you begin your week on a positive note. Happy Monday!

You may have thought that Britney, Christina and Justin were the first to record albums after their stints on The Mickey Mouse Club (MMC), which ran from 1989 to 1994... but if you thought that, you'd be wrong. Does anyone remember a little group by the name of The Party? Don't lie. You know you had the tape (and a crush on Damon).... orrrr maybe that was just me.

Tune in, groove on, bust out, people. Happy Memorial Day. Let the summer begin!

May 28, 2010

happy holiday weekend (and a shorts update)

Memorial Day weekend is here! Woohoo! I hope you all have a happy and safe extended weekend. (Don't forget to take a moment to remember what the day is really about.) I'll be relaxing with my family and perhaps partaking in some adult beverages.

Oh, and an update on the shorts situation: I took a trip to Old Navy last night and tried on those Perfect Khaki Shorts (5"). I headed straight for the gray pair I had seen online... but you know what they don't show you online? They have BLEACH MARKS on them. Like, intentional, "I'm cool because my shorts look worn and old" bleach marks, under both front pockets. I was seriously annoyed, especially because ALL of the other colors were free of bleach marks. I ended up getting a purple pair (not shown online), which I really like, and they were on sale for $15, but I'm still perturbed.

This is NOT the look I'm going for.

(Okay I'm exaggerating a little bit. They didn't really look like that. But still, someone remind me why this is a trend?)

Anyway... happy weekend! Stay safe!

May 27, 2010

I gave away all my shorts

Sometime over the course of the last year, in one of my "I haven't worn this in forever so it's going to Goodwill" moods, I got rid of the two pairs of shorts I owned that aren't running shorts. No, I hadn't worn them in a while... but now I'm completely short-less! It took a 95 degree day on Wednesday to realize this. Oops.

While I normally prefer to wear skirts over shorts anyhow, I think I should still pick up a comfy pair or two to get me through the summer, especially since I'll be spending a lot of time down the shore this summer at my mom's new beach house. (Here in the Philadelphia area, "down the shore" is our way of saying "going to the beach." It's just how we do it around here; don't ask me why.)

I am definitely not a fan of denim shorts. I have just never found a comfortable pair, so I usually go for lighter-weight fabrics for those super hot days. I like these Havannah shorts from Fossil, and I like that the pattern is a little on the dressier side... but I'm not sure the number of times I'd wear them justifies the $58 price tag.

I'm short (5'3" on a good day) so finding the right length is key for me when it comes to shorts. I don't need anything riding up all day, thankyouverymuch, but anything that gets too long just looks silly on me. These Perfect Khaki Shorts with a 5" inseam from Old Navy might actually be close to perfect, and I like the neutral light gray. Plus, I can definitely handle $19.95.

While not as practical and classic, these Heatwave shorts from Anthro are damn cute and perfectly nautical. But again with the $58 pricetag... are Fossil and Anthro in cahoots?

Where do you find cute, inexpensive shorts that get you through the summer? (Oh, and I'm going to say it: I think capris are stupid. I just don't like 'em anymore. So please don't even try to talk me into them.)

under the stars

Have I told you how much we love the town we live in? I've lived here, in the same apartment, for almost six years now; Nick moved in with me after two years. We are within walking distance of some fantastic little restaurants and bars, there are some nice little shops and small businesses that we like to support, the people are friendly, and it's just a very happy little place to live. We're a quick 25-minute drive to Center City Philly, a mere 15 minutes away from the airport, and convenient to pretty much everything we need. Now that I work from home, it's not unusual for five or six days to go by without me needing to drive my car anywhere; I can walk to Trader Joe's if we need groceries, and we pretty much never go to a restaurant that requires that we drive there. Why bother when everything we need is right here?

The summer before we got married, they started doing "Dining Under the Stars" on Wednesday nights: the streets are closed off to cars and become filled with tables from all the restaurants, filled with jovial diners. Last night, it was just too gorgeous out to sit at home while we could hear the murmur of the crowd around the corner, so we blew our strict dining-out budget and took advantage.

It was like a bit of happiness and love for our town all rolled into one perfect little evening.

We love this place.

May 26, 2010

app magnets

Oh my. These are just too cute. And about 90% of the people I know are going to need them. (Because I truly think only 10% of my friends and family DON'T have an iPhone. Yup, we're all that nerdy.)

tomatoes = productivity?

Staying productive when working from home can sometimes be a challenge, especially when I'm working on projects that aren't necessarily for a client, but are more self-assigned. I recently discovered mytomatoes.com, which employs the Pomodoro Technique: 25 minutes of work, then a five minute break, and after four "tomatoes" a longer break. Every time you complete a "tomato" and hear the alarm, you log what you worked on, so it's really great for accountability.

Using mytomatoes.com is what motivated me to have a day free of social networking one day last week. I realized how much time I was wasting on Twitter and Facebook and I needed a break to increase my productivity! For me, it also does double-duty — I need to track my time when I'm doing work for clients, and this way I have a reminder to log what I work on for every 25-minute increment (instead of remembering at 4pm that I should have been tracking my time for the last 7 hours. Oops).

May 25, 2010

missed connections

Have you seen the blog Missed Connections? It's where artist Sophie Blackall posts the beautiful and whimsical illustrations she creates based on missed connections websites. I love the stories and imagery she creates from each snippet she finds.

You can buy some of her work in her Etsy shop.