Friday, November 30, 2012

Young House Love DC Book Signing

First, we really want to say thank you so much for the responses to M's post yesterday.  Getting so personal was definitely hard, but it seemed to resonate with people so we will try to include more posts like that in the future.

Now, onto something a little more fun, the Young House Love book signing at FLOR in DC!!!!!  We have to acknowledge that YHL is one of the blogs that helped inspire us to even start this little thing, so of course we were excited to see a signing for their new book here in DC.  Unfortunately M had other commitments Wednesday so I flew solo to the event.  I got to Georgetown (FLOR is on 33rd St just off of M st. NW) at about 6:05, the signing wasn't supposed to start until 6:30.  So thinking that I didn't want to be the crazy person standing outside the door a half hour early I thought I might run over to CB2 to just kill some time.  Luckily I happened to glance down the street towards FLOR because an ENORMOUS line had already formed. I scrapped my CB2 plan and quickly rushed to grab a spot for myself.  While I ended up pretty far back in line, I was lucky enough to have a view of the upper windows of FLOR where we could see John and Sherry getting ready for the event.  It was so cute to see them taking pictures of all of us in line while we were all holding up our cameras taking pictures of them.

See Sherry up there!  Oh and that dude on the left that looks like he might be John, he's not and there's a funny story about that below.

At first it felt a little lonely to be standing in such a huge line all by myself, but as luck would have it I suddenly saw a friend of mine walking up and she happened to meeting up with some friends who were only 3 people behind me, SCORE!  So to keep her from having to jump back and forth between me and her other friends to chat, I decided to just jump back a few spots and hang out there, because what's a couple of spaces when the line is ridiculous anyway.  Clearly I'm noting this because I was proven wrong later.

When our wait first started we were commenting about how surprised we were that it really didn't seem that cold out, which was a pleasant surprise.  However, about an hour later when we were still just waiting in a line outside, having made some progress towards the door, but not a ton, the feeling in our toes was starting to slip away.  That was when we started saying how smart the cookie food truck that had parked nearby was, because people all around us had run over to get cookies and hot cider from them.  However, we also noted that we really didn't want to have to go pay for it.  Thankfully the girls in front of us overheard and filled is on the deal, the cookies and cider were FREE!  So, so, so brilliant!  This was just the pick-me-up my group needed.

Yay for cookies and cider!!

So now I will tell you the funny story about the guy from the window who looked like John, but wasn't really John.  Periodically throughout our, ultimately, 2 hour outdoor wait this guy would come outside and kind of survey the line, sometimes he would also be on his cellphone.  Practically everyone, myself included, truly thought this guy was John.  And we all noted that we thought it was him, but he looked a little different than we thought he would.  For one, his hair was all spikey.  We just assumed it was John's way of changing things up for us DC folk.  I was so convinced it was John that I even tried to be stealth and grab a candid pic of him over my shoulder, as seen below (he turned around right as I took this).

Clearly my papparazzi career is a non-starter.

At this point we were so close to the door, yet still so far.  Luckily the FLOR staff were doing their best to keep a much larger than expected crowd happy, so they started handing out the popcorn that was inside to those of us still waiting in line outside.  An RSVP was supposed to be required for the event (it was free but they needed to cap the number of people), but it was clear that A LOT of people who hadn't RSVPed showed up anyway.  So props to the FLOR staff for making it work and doing your best to make the long wait as enjoyable as possible. 

Finally our wait was over!  Inside we went.  And this is where my jumping back in line a few spots comes into play.  John and Sherry had posted on YHL that if you come to one of their signings, it's helpful to the host if you purchase their book on site.  All the girls I had grouped with had seen that and planned to do just this.  So of course, the last book sold to the girl right in front of me, WHOMP WHOMP.  All was not lost though, John and Sherry had book plates with them to sign for anyone without a book (it's basically a big blank sticker they sign that you can put in the book later).  There was also wine once you got inside, which was delightful.

Popcorn and wine, what could be better?

Once inside we still had a little bit of a wait, but we slowly inched way through the line sipping our wine.  I should also note that it wasn't until we got within sight of the table John and Sherry were at that we all realized the spikey haired guy was not in fact John, embarrassing!  No wonder that guy seemed to be so weirded out by all of the girls staring and taking pictures of him outside. 

Then, after almost 2 1/2 hours in line I MET JOHN AND SHERRY!!!  Even though it was brief, there was still a long line of people behind us that had to get through, they were so cute and seemed so nice and genuine.  It was worth the wait I will say.


Armed with my signed bookplates I rushed home to order the book off Amazon.  I was about to pull the trigger and complete my purchase when I glanced at the expected delivery time frame only to see that Amazon's expected ship date was 2 MONTHS from now!!!  What the what!?  Can't a girl get a break!  Thankfully I hopped over to Barnes and Noble online, which had the book in stock, and I now have 2 copies on their way to me.  Merry Christmas M!!!!

Are any of you also YHL fans?  Have you ever been as excited to meet a blogger in real life as I obviously was?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Reflection on Setbacks

Image via


For most people, setbacks are a fact of life.  Sometimes they're big, sometimes not so big, but either way, they're usually discouraging.  

Like anybody, we are no strangers to setbacks.  This post, though, is written completely from M's perspective...hopefully her reflection on her major 2012 setback, will help inspire those of you who can relate.

2012 was an incredibly successful year in many aspects of my life.  I settled into a job I truly love. I moved in with the love of my life. I sailed and traveled more than usual, and worked on my friendships in between.  And, last month, I finally got the promotion I worked so very hard for over the past 6 months.

On the flipside, maybe my only regret for 2012 was that I lost my focus on fitness.  

As personal and work stress began to mount, I failed to listen to my body, instead doing the opposite.  I quit going to yoga. My running / gym days become few and far between.  I let my eating get out of control, in fact, "stress eating" became my MO for most of the spring & summer.    

I became my own setback.  When I probably needed to be working out more than usual to combat stress, I completely quit. 

Late summer got a little better.  I recommitted to my fitness routine, started going to classes at the gym & I began marathon training.  Everything was going well, and then I twisted my ankle, and downhill I went.  I started working later and later, rarely getting home before 8pm every night, barely getting 1 measly workout a week in over the fall.

I usually run at least 4 double digit-mile races each year, my race count for 2012 is 0.  For someone who is almost always in training, I feel like a complete failure.


To make matters worse, the number on the scale and the way my clothes fit is even more depressing. 


In reflecting on this pity party, I realized that I've been here before.  But this time, I know that I am where I am by no other fault than my own.  Things happen, calendars get hectic, life gets in the way.

The most important thing this time around, is that I recognize that this failure to prioritize fitness and value my workout time, is the mistake I made.  It wasn't life circumstances that got me here, it was my own inability to prioritize me. I keep coming back to this same question - If you don't have your health, what do you have?

 What we do with our bodies, how well we treat them, shows on the outside, just as much as it feels on the inside. The way we deal with setbacks is indicative of who we are. 

My realization came after a first short run back in the saddle literally left me breathless, and exhausted on the couch.  

As I sat there, I thought "but I ran an entire marathon a little over than a year ago, what happened?!" I realized I can't go down this road any longer.  I am the only one who can set my priorities, and health is one of the most important ones. Health dictates how well we do everything else in life.

Since this realization a week ago, I figured why wait until the new year to start this journey back to health?  So, I've signed up for a half marathon, renewed my gym membership, and also penned a meal plan for the next month.  I'm determined to stick to all of these, not because I should, it's because I WANT to.

So, how am I feeling with all of these goals? Especially now that they're public?  Overwhelmed.  However, as long as I'm doing the right things - moving, eating good food, nurturing my body, I should be healthy, and in turn, I should be happy.  

As you think about 2012, what were your setbacks? What are your goals for 2013?  What can you start now?  There's no time like the present! 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday Perk: Winter Workouts

Note: Sorry about the wacky formatting, sometimes Blogger just chooses to do it's own thing despite our best efforts.

While it's not officially winter yet, it sure is starting to feel like it.  The colder temps combined with the sun setting earlier makes the couch so tempting.  However, we must persevere and find some motivation to keep up with our workouts.  So let's start with some good winter gear to keep the chill off.

We like to keep our winter running clothes in bright colors, it helps to ensure that we are seen at night (along with reflective pieces we also wear), and it also just brightens up the dark dreary days that come with the winter.  This cute half zip jacket comes in numerous colors, and is sure to help keep you warm.           
                                                                              Nike Pro Hyperwarm II Fitted Half Zip                                      

The North Face Women's Windwall 1 Vest
Also helpful in keeping you warm & visible, especially if it's not cold enough for multiple long sleeve layers, is a white vest. Another plus to wearing a fleece or goretex-type vest, is that most of them come with lots of pockets for storing gloves, your house key, a little money, fuel, cell phone, etc.  It still blows our minds that most running gear is made without pockets! 

Patagonia Women's Synchilla Vest


 When it starts to get really cold the full length pants come out.  If you're in the market for a new pair check out these running tights from Moving Comfort & Under Armour which include some reflective elements for nighttime running. 

Nike Cold Weather Reversible Headband    

Our ears are extremely sensitive to cold temperatures so a good headband that provides protection is a must.  This Nike one looks like it should do the trick, and it comes in several colors.     

Motivation can be extremely lacking in the winter months.  Registering for a spring race can be a great way to keep yourself going, even when the couch is so cozy and warm.  

M is about to begin her half marathon training.  After an injury benched her from the MCM, and sidelined her for much of the fall, she's concerned about building long mileage back into her workouts.  She wants to stay healthy and not overwhelm her body.  

In order to safely build running back into her routine, she uses the free 16-week Runners World SmartCoach training program.  It's easy to cater to  personal fitness levels, and the plan can be as long as 16 weeks, or as short as 10.  The plan has a short, medium, and long run each week, and adds an extra short run in to up mileage towards the middle-end of the plan.  Trainers are supposed to also add 2 to 3 cross training or yoga days and 1 rest day during non-run days.  Having used this plan many times before, M knows that it's a flexible plan and can easily be worked into a busy schedule, which she needs.

Another way to keep your motivation up is to change your workout routine entirely.  H is taking this approach.  After a fantastic race year, H is listening to her body and taking a break from racing and training.  Instead she plans to increase the number of boxing classes she takes a week to 3.  She takes class at LA Boxing, and swears it is the hardest group fitness class she has ever done (last night's workout had 100 jumping jacks, 100 jump squats, 100 crunches, and 100 burpees just for the warm-up).  In addition she also plans to potentially add a day of yoga a week to her routine to spice things up a bit.

How do you stay motivated when the temps are low and days are short?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Marine Corps Marathon: An Experience

Photo via

Here is a special Tuesday post.  This is a little belated since the race was a month ago, but I went on a long vacation right after, and late is better than never.  M and I had both been planning to run the Marine Corps Marathon this year, unfortunately a late injury has forced M to defer until next year so this review is coming solely from my experience. 

I had run two marathons prior to this one, and while both were good races that I was simply happy to finish, the MCM was an experience.  I had not initially planned to run a marathon this year, however a good friend of mine decided to enter and raise money for a charity that means a lot to her.  This was her first marathon, so eventually I decided the best way I could support and motivate her was to enter and also raise money for the charity.  I just need to say a real quick thank you to all of my friends and family who were beyond generous in donating, they put me comfortably above the minimum fundraising goal.

I started my training in late June, and in the beginning my training was going great.  Unfortunately, because of travel and life in general my training towards the end was not as strong as I would have liked.  I did the last really long training run with my friend at the beginning of October, and let's just say it didn't go great for me (she rocked it however).  Two weeks before the race I came down with a horrible sinus infection, that honestly is still plaguing me a bit.  The week of the race I was nervous to say the least.  This was the first time I had ever run for charity, so I felt a lot of pressure to run and finish because so many people had been so generous, but I honestly was questioning how the race would go and if I would in fact be capable of finishing.  That's when I just let go of all self-imposed pressure.  I told myself time didn't matter, how much I walked didn't matter, the only thing I would not let myself do was quit.

I forced myself to rest up all week leading up to the race, and miraculously I felt fairly healthy when I woke up bright and early on race day.  Maybe it was because I had already done two marathons before, but I felt the calmest I have ever felt before a race that morning, and I felt completely ready.  Once the race started I told myself to just do my own thing and enjoy the experience, and I stuck to that.  I paid attention to the shirts people around me were wearing, I saw a man who's shirt said he had had open heart surgery in August and was lucky to be alive and running that day, and I saw one man who was running his 100th marathon.  I also saw more "In Memory of" shirts than I care to count, and I almost completely broke down in tears every time I saw one of those shirts in memory of a lost husband on the back of a young a woman who looked around my age.  And perhaps it should also be clarified, these shirts were all recognizing lost military service men and women.  Every shirt I saw made me think about the danger our military service members place themselves in for me, and whatever your politics are regarding the wars I think we can all agree we owe these men and women on the ground a huge thank you.  And if the numerous memory shirts weren't enough to get my tear ducts working, mile 12 had signs with pictures and names of fallen soldiers, some of whom were only 18 or 19 years old, it was a very touching mile.  Fortunately after that there were a couple of miles of funny and inspiring signs to pump me back up, but I did truly appreciate the one mile of pure reflection.

When running a marathon I typically hit my wall around mile 17.  True to form I hit it in the same place this time, however I did not hit it nearly as hard as in previous races.  I had been keeping pace with my friend, who was totally rocking the race, and while I generally felt fantastic I really needed to slow down a bit, so I did.  I let her go on ahead of me and I slowed my pace to keep my breathing even, I ate some orange slices, and carried right on forward at my new pace.  I happily finished the race about 15 minutes behind my friend, and again almost burst into tears when a Marine put my medal around my neck and saluted me, a gesture I did not feel at all deserving of.  26.2 miles in no way compares to the tremendous service these men and women provide for our country.

I have run countless races at this point in my life, but this one race stands out far above and beyond the others as my favorite race.  This was the first race I have run where I didn't care about my time in the end, where I let myself fully enjoy the energy of the people and the crowd around me, and it was the only race that has ever made me reflect so much on how lucky I am. 

I have learned not to say that I will never run a full marathon again; however I do think there is a strong chance that this will be my last full, if so I couldn't be happier to end my marathoning on such a high note.

Don't you love the photobomber behind me

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday Moodlifter: Making a List...

Sorry for the incredibly long hiatus, we both have had some exciting new job changes and there has been some vacationing going on as well, but we are BACK now!  Today, as you are probably very aware, is CyberMonday.  Most of our favorite retailers have some great online sales happening today, so it's a great day to get on that holiday shopping if you are like us and avoided Black Friday like the plague.  Here are five items on our gift giving lists, along with sale info.  Enjoy!

This versatile bangle bracelet from J.Crew would be a great gift for a friend.  Today J.Crew is offering 25% off and free shipping on any order with the code MONDAY.

This leather clutch would be a great gift for your sister, it comes in so many different colors you're sure to find the one that suits her best.  Ann Taylor is offering 40% off everything today with code MONDAY.

This is a bit pricey, but what mother wouldn't love this beautiful cashmere scarf.  Think of all of things she's done for you over the years, you know she deserves it.  Banana Republic is offering 30% off today with code CYBER.

Grandma's kitchen could definitely use a snazzy rolling pin like this to jazz things up.  Anthropologie is offering free shipping on all orders today.

For that coworker who's really more than just a coworker this little enamel dish is perfect.  She can keep it on her a desk as a stylish little catch-all, or she can take it home for her jewelry.  Crate and Barrel is offering 15% off and free shipping today with code SAVE15.

Enjoy your online shopping today!