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A wedding and floating on tubes: a summer recap

Here I am with the newly-married duo in the party bus headed for the reception!

Life has ebbed and flowed in a lazy fashion in the space between Vegas and now. Though there have been a few notes of excitement here and there. Namely my brother’s wedding.

In said wedding I got to be a bridesmaid (yay) and a part of all the fun wedding things. The journey as a whole was a lot of fun, I told my brother he should act like a groomzilla (insert link), it would have been funny because it’s not his style at all. Kristen, his wife, was totally calm throughout the process, too.  I think it’s because she’s organized, organized people seem to be able to maintain a higher level of calm under duress.

Anyway, the bachelorette party was really fun. A party bus to Detroit! I forgot that I’m not 22 anymore and probably haven’t partied in such a way since then…let’s just say the next morning was rough.

The wedding day was my favorite! It’s always fun to get girled up with someone else doing my hair and makeup. A limo bus took us to the church for the wonderful ceremony complete with ringing of an old fashioned bell. It’s the chapel’s tradition for a newly married couple to ring it as they leave. And then I made them ring it again! Remember those childhood field trips to an old, one-room school house and everyone wanted to ring the bell? This was like that. I was super jealous of their bell ringing ways and I think it’s safe to say, I wasn’t the only one who wanted to ring it! The reception was a total party (and the food was the best I’ve ever eaten at a hall!). My parents where hilarious on the dance floor…and so were my brother and his friends. Such silly boys!

The wedding was early July. July was otherwise pretty quiet. Lots of outside running! My apartment is by some fantastic trails and it’s been so nice to get outside and away from the treadmill!

I went tubing a few weekends agp with two of my friends, Kristine and her sister Lisa. We floated for five hours along the Rifle River. It was wonderful; a quintessential Michigan thing to do. Very relaxing, really pretty and now my sunburn is finally faded!

In the space between, I’ve had the extreme pleasure of wandering through some antique fairs (added to my vintage Pyrex collection), enjoyed many a meal on a patio…my favorite. Spent a lot of time with family and friends. I’d have to say, I can’t complain too much! But if I was going to… I’d lament that my summer has lacked a real up North trip, a boat ride or two and some swimming. I hope I can get my up North fix this winter with some skiing!

As I look ahead, I feel excited! There are so many fun upcoming things; fall is always such a wonderful time.

And who do we have here? Oh, it's just the fruits of my summer time labor! My patio tomato did such a nice job of giving me yummy tomatoes this summer!


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When flying the friendly skies takes an unfriendly turn

I realized something after a recent getaway to Las Vegas: times are bleak for people who choose air travel.

I suppose I could switch up that sentence a few different ways. Maybe like this: bleak for people who like to be treated like human beings and not a herd of pigs crammed into a semi headed for the slaughter. 

Maybe a little over the top.

Against my better judgment and for my desire to save money, Spirit was the airline chosen to get the party started to Vegas. In addition to featuring no leg room and a pay-per-snack (and I later learned also included $3 non-alcoholic beverage) philosophy, I was also aware of a pay-per checked bag. What I didn’t know was that you also now have to pay for an overhead carry on. That’s fine. If I can go to Europe for a week with only a little wheeley carry on (that I wasn’t charged extra to put into the overhead) I certainly can go for a long weekend to Vegas, where less clothing is required, with just a backpack.

There was no way I was going to pay the overhead charge of $30 extra EACH WAY and that’s only IF I decided my baggage fate at the time of plane ticket purchase. Otherwise, as I’m sure you guessed, it’s more at the gate.

Lucky magazine is my favorite because they provide stickers in every issue. This issue: flop flops! Perfect for long flights. Not perfect for the person you're traveling with 😉

Ok, that’s fine, I thought. I can deal with it. I’m saving nearly $100 on airfare. Yay, go me…or so I thought then.

Sitting on the plane was just what I expected, or perhaps remembered from the last time I flew Spirit (about three years ago to San Francisco): no leg room. This airline for sure situates the seats closer to each other than any other airline that I’ve traveled, and let me tell you, I’ve traveled more than a few!

That’s fine. I’m also ok with it. I knew that’s what I was in for. It was slightly worse than I thought because my backpack was literally stuffed under the seat in front of me, consuming all precious leg room. With knees squished against the seat, the person in front of me tried to recline his seat. I wasn’t even being mean, I wasn’t trying to prevent him from putting his seat back – it’s just that my knees had nowhere to go. I’m tall. I can’t help it. This same thing happened on the way home, and also happened when I flew to San Fran.

So here’s a question: if you are an airline with seats that are positioned much closer than any other airline, why do you allow passengers to recline their seats? There is simply no room. Especially now since everyone has everything they own crammed under their seat.

I will say one positive thing about this charging for overhead carry on bags “brilliant” idea, it definitely expedited the boarding on and off process. Another positive, for the passenger, not the airline, there’s no way to determine who paid to have their carry on up there and who just illegally stuffed it up there. I mean, it states that information on your boarding pass, but none of the overhead bins are even close to full, so why would a flight attendant have any reason to check? There is no extra tag, nothing. But I’m an honest girl. So I kept it under my seat…

Porky Pig's words of widsom - in an ad. If you are an airline with tv ads, then you should also have tvs.

Over some part of the U.S. at probably 10,000 feet (or at however high planes fly), with my knees numb from hitting the back of the seat in front of me for the past hour, I decided that Spirit Airlines is just a money-grabbing whore. They have advertisements on the back of nearly every seat and on most of the doors of the overhead bins. For those who understand how advertisements work (everyone, I hope) the hotel, or tv network that is being featured, likely paid dearly to have their plug for all passengers to see. Just like in subways, splashed along the sides of buses and so on.

If I owned an airline, I would say, “Look at the money we’re bringing in from these advertisements, I think I’ll let my passengers have their overhead carry on for free.” Because here’s my thing: I get the paying for a checked bag, but SERIOUSLY, paying for an overhead carry on when you clearly have a source of revenue filtering in from advertisements. It’s just poor taste and unkind.

On my way home, feeling like a snubbed sassy pants, my backpack rode in the overhead bin. For free. No one questioned me.

I guess since then, though I haven’t confirmed it, if you print out your boarding pass before hand Spirit will credit you $5. That is a fair thing. I can get on board with that. But I’m so soured by the overhead charge.

I feel like, if Americans keep expecting crappy things, crappy service, under the ruse of “oh poor us we’re in a bad economy” that’s all we’ll ever get: crap.

When I flew to Europe on KLM I was fed actual meals, had more than ample stretching out room and was treated like I was someone special. When I flew on the LOT Polish Airlines, they gave me an entire meal and if I wanted, alcohol, for free on a flight that was less than three hours. Again, leg room and fantastic customer service.

Welcome to reality on my Delta trip home. Yes, they did feed and water me for no charge, but I was indeed treated like a leper. Never in my life would I have thought asking a flight attendant how to work a remote to the tv would cause such an inconvenience when I would imagine, is among their jobs.

Maybe my years of working where customer service is king has soured me for people with badittudes.

I wonder what’s next with all these airline fees, especially when news reports say they are profiting like crazy.

Is this enough for me to decide to spend nearly $100 more and go with another airline? I’d have to say yes. The flight attendants were friendly, the pilots seemed nice, but I just can’t get over being taken for. I’d rather fly an airline that values people and not takes advantage of their financial fear created by a bad economy.

Look! An ancient meandering river bed! yay!

**Please note that even if they didn’t charge, I’d still take just a backpack. But I enjoy the comfort of knowing I can store in the overhead bin.**




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Being a grown-up = neglecting the fun things…or does it?

Neglect. That’s what happens when life picks up the pace and components of said life are pushed into the corner (or all over my dining room table…) and forgotten about.

Well,  maybe not entirely forgotten about. While trucking along at work, having not moved for hours from the hand-on-mouse, lean for the monitor pose, my little hobbies and projects poke into mind. They dance around and remind me of how awesome they are and how lame I am for working all week.

And so I leave early. Visions of doing WHATEVER I WANT dance around in my mind but by the time I get home, I take a nap. Oh well. I suppose that doesn’t always happen. I don’t always leave work early and I still devote a healthy amount of time to doing whatever I feel like, but still.

The summer weather that Michigan decided to finally let in has made me wish more and more that I was independently wealthy and/or owned a boat. A house boat! I would need the independent wealth for sure with that one, I think.

Memorial Day Tigers' game. Hottest day yet, but so perfect!

Summer is one of my favorites, but I hate how fast it slips through my grip! Life seems to amp up faster and faster during the precious summer months (in Michigan, they are absolutely precious)  and go by so quick. Hold onto it tight! As for me, I will be doing as much outside stuff as possible, which is probably obvious. My first sunburn was acquired yesterday at the Tigers’ game (we beat the Twins!) Fyi on that one, spray-on SPF is a joke. It kind of worked and where it didn’t, I look like I have some kind of weird blotchy skin disease. So skip that product no matter how amazing it seems! (colorful packaging gets me every time).

And how about a summer song? Or, how about an entire album! I just bought Foster the People after listening to their song Houdini. Check it out. It’s light, it’s fun, it’s great driving around music. I loved their first single, Pumped Up Kicks, but Houdini sold me. Here is a snippet!

Cheers! And yay for June : D

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Running toward nothing, everything; my time on treadmills

If someone were to alter the lyrics of Michael Sembello’s one hit wonder “Maniac” and replaced “dancing” with “running,” it could be my theme song. Because seriously, I’ve been running like I’ve never ran before!
If you recall my first post of this year (or if you don’t recall, I’ll recall it for you I had a list of things that I wanted to achieve for 2011. So far, I’ve scratched them all off my list except for two. One of them is to try something new in the sportsy/outdoorsy department and the other is running a half marathon.
As someone who doesn’t make lists, I think it’s pretty fantastic that I’ve managed to power through this one. 
Anyway, I’m working towards the half marathon. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. I joined a running club at my gym as a way to stick with training. The club’s goal is to run a halfer at the end of this month. The downside, which was actually also what enticed me, is the 5 a.m. meet-up time. Waking up early and getting my miles in before I officially started my day sounded like the best idea ever. It was like cheating! Because who wants to go to the gym after working all day?! Well, I hate waking up early. And I hate going to bed early. So already you see how this is going to be problematic. For two months I met with the group and ran with them. Amazingly I stuck with it. And then I moved kind of far from that gym and it became ridiculous to drive out there in the morning. So back to running after work! Yes, I could have just ran at my new gym in the morning, which is one mile from my home, but the thought of waking up early depresses me.

After the Cork Town 5k with my brother Dave. What does he listen to at the gym? Jazz. I haven't tried that one yet.

So far, a few pretty neat things have happened from January until now regarding me + running. First of all, the training provided in the running group has all been heart rate-based. So to start out with this training I took a metabolic test. For that, a mask was strapped on me and I did all kinds of running tempos on the treadmill. Data gathered from that determined my heart rate zones. For the better part of 10 years I have been a runner. Not really consistently, just something I do mostly during the summer months. Because of that, I jump into my higher heart rate zones really quick and into my anaerobic threshold. The goal is to stay in the aerobic development and aerobic endurance zones. But because of all my years of running without a heart rate monitor or any clue about heart rate training, it was difficult to stay in those lower zones –  my body wanted to go right to my higher zones! Many times during our training sessions I’d have to slow down to a walk to get there again. It was so annoying because I knew that I could just keep on running!

Here’s a little tidbit on heart rate stuff. If you don’t care, just skip this! It’s just me being informational. And btw, I’m no expert.
The reason why heart rate-based training is so beneficial is because you’re better utilizing your own resources. You can’t run for long distances at your anaerobic threshold because you’ll eventually run out of sugar. But if you keep it to the lower zones your body will happily run along, using fuel from fat and carbs, which lasts longer than sugars anyway. The gym I go to, Life Time Fitness, breaks the zones down by numbers. I’ll use me as an example: So zone 1 is my Active Recovery and there my heart rate is between 124-134. Zone 2 is my Aerobic Development with a 134-155 bpm. This zone builds up my fitness base. Zone 3, or Aerobic Endurance is 155-176. In this zone I’m building endurance. Zone 4 is the Anaerobic Endurance from 176-186. Zone 4 is great for interval/tempo work. Anything over 186 is just speedwork for me. *Fun fact* zone 2 teaches your body to burn calories more efficiently and in zone 3 you actually burn the most.
So with the training, I alternate between zones at two minute-one minute-two minute intervals. That number and the zones are switched up every time.
But now I can see how the training has paid off. I can run for about three miles in my zone 2 and then after that, stay nicely situated in zone 3.  
I will be honest, it was quite the uphill battle for me to muster up any kind of enthusiasm for the treadmill. I even bought an audiobook. I thought, what a great way to “read” some books that look interesting. A few friends recommended Haruki Murakami’s “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” and I thought it sounded like a perfect book to listen to while running. The book is really good! But I had trouble paying attention to it. I found this to be surprising because what else am I doing? I’m running. Talking to no one. On a treadmill. With headphones on! Evidently, my mind likes to wander. It likes to run and jump on all kinds of topics and thoughts. Listening to a book was ruining its good time. And so back to music I went. My go-to album, the one that I always listen to first, every time I run, has been Bloc Party’s “Silent Alarm.” The beat on most songs is perfect for running. At about 53 minutes the album ends and either I let it play again, or go on to something else. At about that time I need to restart the treadmill anyway, because after an hour they time-out, so it’s a nice chance to pause, have a drink and change things up. Or not.
I guess I’ve made peace with the treadmill. I look forward to my alone time with Bloc Party and the miles I log while my caged-up thoughts are allowed to run free. Although I probably could get a few more Bloc Party albums to add to my playlist…
In the meantime, I ran a 5k with my friends and brother the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day. I’m glad I have so many running-minded friends. Often we chat about how our running is going, our shoe situation and what our next 5k should be.
Speaking of shoes… I already ran through one pair! I scored a great pair of Mizuno shoes that are like clouds for feet, and at half their usual price.
As for the other things I said I’ve accomplished from my January list, I will have to make a post about that. It’s a new artistic medium! I’ve gotten a little behind with maintaining Shine Life. I’ll try to be less negligent!

A few years ago my friend Lisa and I decided to train for New Baltimore's Jingle Bell Run 5k. We even blogged about it. This pic is from there and while it was an accurate depiction of how I felt back then, thankfully it isn't any more!


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Only Judy Garland Knows How I Feel

Well, it’s been a crazy time at work. When catching up with friends and exchanging tales of our week, I tell them that it’s been so busy. I say this with certainty that next week will be less busy. But it isn’t! It’s only been getting more hectic! Moving didn’t exactly lend to a stress-free time. Don’t mistake me for ungrateful, I’m very happy for my job and to have this wonderful opportunity to take on and learn more tasks and duties. It’s the learning curve that I need to work through.

At any rate, I enjoy the Turner Movie Classics channel. If I wasn’t so exhausted (and had cable during this transition period) I’m sure I would watch more of it to unwind. I love old movies. My mom and I get sucked into them easily and sometimes a whole evening can drift by while watching a movie or two. A few months ago “In the Good Old Summertime” with Judy Garland was on. It was a fun movie, a musical, but what stuck with me is the song “I don’t care”.

Let me tell you, that song effectively sums up exactly how I feel after simultaneously venturing into my own place and figuring out my new role at work. This song sometimes pops into my head while I’m at work and I’m seized with a desire to run up and down the cubicle rows flailing my arms just like Judy singing “I DON’T CARE, I DON’T CARE.” Just the thought of me doing that cheers me.

And here’s to another whirlwind week, I’m sure!

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Living Out of a Bag and Other Shortcomings

So as you may know from previous posts, I am moving. To be precise, I am actually mid-move. I signed papers Monday and have been trickling in ever since. In hindsight, taking a week off of work – or even just a few days – would have been the sane route. Ha. Sanity. Instead, I have been racing home from work only to race off to do moving-in things, like buying a table or unpacking boxes.
The funny thing about unpacking has been realizing how many completely useless things I own that will not help contribute to a successful lifestyle. Aside from a ridiculous set of “silverware” (in quotes because they’re half plastic – in random colors), a pot and a bundt cake pan, I own nothing in the ways of cooking food. To my guests: I can make you coffee or serve you some wine or rum but if you’d like actual food, you’re going to have to settle for a bundt cake. I hope you like chocolate. And actually, most of my friends will be just fine that. What am I saying, they will all be ok with that.
I admit, the bundt cake pan is kind of a random thing to have when I have nothing else. Owning things that make sense hasn’t been a trend for me though, so why start now?! And really, I could make things like quiche or meatloaf in that pan. But I also have a pot! Which means I can boil water and from there, my world has completely opened up! Maybe this will just be an adventure into how creative I can get with a bundt pan and a pot. Challenge accepted.
Yesterday I did buy a cookie sheet and a (purple) can opener, so I’m getting there.
Aside from my kitchen deficiencies, things have been going surprisingly smooth for me. I was expecting the worst. I generally don’t like to expect the worst, but when forced to expect things, expecting the worst really works out well. I love being surprised when things go well! This past weekend, I had little hope after I realized I packed my list somewhere. It was especially devastating because I’m not a list-making person, I prefer a note on a sticky to an actual list. But sometimes, a note on a sticky won’t cut it. So I made a list and then apparently packed it. I panicked the next day when I realized my misfortune, because it was quite extensive containing things I needed to get and needed to remember.

Here's Old Faithful, saving me from losing my mind.

To avoid such a horror, I’ve been stuffing everything I need in my purse. I am practically living out of it. Hungry? I have a granola bar! Need some paper? Let me pull out one of the notebooks I’ve been carrying around. Need a pen? HA! What color would you like!? The thing weighs a ton. Yesterday while I was vacillating over what color can opener to buy, I realized how heavy it was and how much my left shoulder was really starting to hurt. I’m looking forward to being done with this moving so I can revert to carrying only my wallet and few other (light) sundry items.



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Raising orchids, or not killing two of them

After more than a year, three perfect blooms!

It’s more satisfying to be surrounded by flowers than to be surrounded by a roomful of expensive things. Flowers give back in ways that tug at your heart and bring a smile to your face. Expensive things will only mirror the money you could have saved instead.

Orchids are among the flowers that melt my heart. I’ve always loved them from afar and admired them at florist shops but never bought any. They are inspiring to look at; I’ve even painted them. They’re also quite expensive and rumor always has it, they are very difficult to maintain and keep happy.
A year ago, near Christmas time, Home Depot was selling a few orchids that were practically dead for only $4. That’s very cheap for an orchid. Since they were on their death-bed anyway, I felt confident that it could only go uphill. So I bought two.
Neither had any flowers, just their naked stems. I had no idea what they would look like! I also didn’t have the first clue about orchid care. They live in small wood chips, not dirt. They don’t really have roots and according to their tag, they only eat two ice cubes a week. So I started quizzing people who were buying orchids about how they keep theirs alive and also googled variations of “orchid care” until I felt a bit more confident.
Generally I kill house plants. This fact concerned me about venturing into orchid rearing. I closely followed the directions I found: I trimmed them just above their nodes (encourages more flowers), watered them with special orchid food (they like acidic food) and put them near a window – but not direct sun, they don’t like that. I felt weird feeding them ice cubes, but did anyway. I watched and observed them and nothing happened. But their long leaves stayed healthy and a darkish green, so in spite of occasionally forgetting to water them, they were happy! Then finally, one started to bud!
They were relocated to a south-facing window sill and watched like a hawk. I became very concerned with consistently watering them because there were buds! After a YEAR they were FINALLY starting to bud! I couldn’t wait to see what color they would be! About a week ago before work (that’s the first of their daily scrutiny) one bud looked quite poofy so I knew that it was only a matter of time. After work (the second time) I went and checked on it and it had bloomed!!! I was very excited. This little guy took more than a year to produce a perfect white bloom with a touch of buttery yellow. Now there are three blooms and several other buds.
As for my other orchid, he was in worse shape when I bought him. The stems were completely dried up and dead so I had to cut them at the base (I think that was the thing to do). Progress with that one is steady though, there are quite a few new stems starting to shoot upwards. I will remain patient for him.
Things I’ve learned about raising orchids is they’re not nearly as difficult as I thought they would be. I no longer water them with ice cubes. They also like to have a fan on them at night, lucky for them, so do I. They require their caregiver to possess a good deal of patience because these little blooms take at least six months to bloom again. I think if they hadn’t been practically dead when I rescued them, they would have bloomed sooner. Next time!
Interesting: would you consider orchids to be deceptive to get what they want or “nature’s version of the inflatable love doll?”

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