Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Silkworm

This is the second mystery by Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling under cover) in the Cormoran Strike series. The first, The Cuckoo's Calling was just okay. I read it but apparently never reviewed it here. (?!?)


Good Reads' Synopsis: "When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days—as he has done before—and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives—meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.

When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before..."

What I Thought: This was a bit too meandering for my taste, even in a mystery. I liked Strikes' interactions with Robin but they are a good pair anyway. I just didn't really care whodunnit and found the ending leaving me a bit underwhelmed.

Rating: * * 1/2

Monday, September 8, 2014

August Running Round Up

This heel pain is really cramping my running style. I need to go to the podiatrist but it seems mine is no longer practicing in the area. Time to find a new one as I was nowhere near my monthly goals for August.

8/2: 3.1 mi OUT, 28:18 
8/3: 5 mi TM, 44:40
8/9: 4 mi TM, 34:41
8/11: 3 mi TM, 27:49
8/13: 5 mi TM, 44:22
8/16: 3.3 mi OUT, 30:08
8/23: 4 mi TM, 35:33
8/27: 4 mi TM, 35:55

Total: 31.4 miles

Pathetic. Abysmal. Laughable. If only I weren't crying in the corner.

Must do better in September. Here's hoping a healthy dose of real shoes over sandals and flip flops plus a lot of yoga and stretching will make a difference.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Brew Ha-Ha

This past weekend, John and I ventured out of our comfort zone (read: the same 5 places we go when we go out to dinner) and headed down to Cincinnati for Brew Ha-Ha. Held at Sawyer Point, the Brew Ha-Ha is a 3 day beer and comedy festival benefiting the fight to cure cancer. The event was free but you paid $5 for a wristband to be able to drink and $1/taste. Throughout the day, there were local comedians performing sets on a few different stages leading up the the headliners at night.

Believe it or not, with over 100 beers to choose from, we had tried the majority of them. The rule of the day was not trying anything we'd had before. We had big plans to sample a lot but the rain had other ideas. We spent a lot of time seeking shelter under a tunnel and then later under a tree. P.S. Trees don't really provide shelter from driving rain.

Rainy view from the tunnel with 50 other people

Prior to the rain, I debuted my new knock-off sunnies. Instead of $170, I paid $14. You can get them here, thanks to my friend who is always looking out for me and now we are sunnies twins!

In the end, we only tried a handful before moving on to dinner but the award for Most Interesting goes to Shocktop's Spiced Banana Wheat. The nose was full on banana. The taste provided a typical summer wheat but a strong banana flavor came through on the finish. I wanted it to be spicier but it was still interesting.

We only got to hear a few short comedy sets before bailing. Some were funny, most were not. I think they must get funnier as the night wears on, and as you have more beer. The headliner was David Alan Grier but he wouldn't have gone on until much later and we hadn't planned on staying anyway. As it happens, the rain didn't let up all that much so the umbrellas we had left in the car wouldn't have helped. There were lots of food trucks where we could have found dinner but in the interest of exploration, we ended up here:

This is the Rookwood restaurant which is housed in the old Rookwood Pottery manufacturing facility in Mt. Adams. The interior still has all the original fixtures and woodwork. You can even sit at tables inside the giant kilns that are still intact, though, thankfully not functioning. There was a neat outside patio/deck area but again, the rain deterred us from sitting out there. I had a delightful garden burger and John got the pastrami sandwich. Prices were incredibly reasonable for sandwiches. The entrees were a bit more expensive but I'm sure they are worth it. My burger and John's sandwich got many Mmmm's from us throughout the meal. John even said he liked the garden burger which is a glowing seal of approval.

After dinner, we headed behind the restaurant to check out the view of the Queen City.

We considered picking up dessert closer to our house but in the end, made s'mores in the oven. My friends, if you are jonesing for a s'more but don't feel like building a fire, turn on your broiler!!! A couple minutes and you have a gooey, melty treat to be devoured. I didn't take any pictures of me eating said s'more because it wasn't pretty. It WAS pretty delicious though.

I'll chalk this up to a very successful adventure and hopefully it will inspire us to to continue to try new places, even if it means driving an hour south.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

All the Light We Cannot See

This new release from Anthony Doerr has been climbing the charts so I decided to check it out for myself.


Good Reads' Synopsis: "Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure's agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.

In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.

Doerr's gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is his most ambitious and dazzling work."

What I Thought: I wasn't sure how to take the short, snippet chapters at first but in the end, I liked that style for hopping back and forth between Werner and Marie-Laure. I found myself anticipating the part where they would inevitably meet up and what would happen after that. I loved Marie-Laure's independence and Werner's wishes to be back with his sister. I really Doerr's writing and the story. If you like historical fiction, especially during WWII, you'll like this one a lot.

Rating: * * *

Monday, August 25, 2014

Recipe Reblog - BBQ Turkey Meatballs over Cheddar Corn Quinoa


In recent months, I've done a terrible job of cooking up new-to-me recipes. I find them online and pin them all the time and then just never make them. I'm very consistent in gravitating towards the easier recipes I've made 100 times for quickness and familiarity.

I'm so glad I broke that cycle with this one.

BBQ Turkey Meatballs over Cheddar Corn Quinoa: This recipe is from Pink Parsley and I've made and enjoyed several things she's posted. In our house, we use ground turkey almost exclusively over ground beef for health and cost reasons. The flavor in these meatballs was awesome! I love incorporating BBQ sauce in non-traditional ways. I did use extra sauce for dipping. The quinoa was a much fancier side dish than the plain quinoa I normally make. I'm glad to have classed things up a bit. I did mix up the meatballs ahead and refrigerated them to save me time on a weeknight. I also ran out of scallions but I don't think anything suffered and I know John didn't notice. I will be making this one again soon, and you should too!

Remember back in 2011 where I made a new recipe every week? Maybe I ought to reinstate that challenge.

P.S. Blogger spell check thinks I spell quinoa wrong. Get with the times! It's only the hottest grain around. Sheesh.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Time Marches On

-That moment when you see a girl wearing something cute and you think about asking her where it's from then realize she's not even old enough to vote

-When you can't go up the stairs without your knees, ankles or toes cracking

-Being able to say, "I haven't watched this in 20 years....." (Kill me now)

-Knowing that extra glass of wine is most definitely going to give your morning an even slower start

-Forgetting how old you are and then having to do the math in your head while someone looks at you like you are a total nutter because you DON'T KNOW how old you are

-Spending a lot of time pursing your lips in the mirror to watch your smile lines disappear

-Being concerned with adding things like flax, omega-3's, supplements into your diet because you probably aren't getting enough of them anyway

-Making sure you turn on CBS Sunday Morning just as it starts and getting excited to watch the entire thing


Monday, August 18, 2014

The Interestings

Look! Another camp book that is actually about camp this time. Well, most of it. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer has popped up on a lot of lists lately. I actually had it on hold for me at the library months ago but I was out of town and couldn't get to it in time.


Good Reads' Synopsis: "The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge.

The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. Her friend Jonah, a gifted musician, stops playing the guitar and becomes an engineer. But Ethan and Ash, Jules’s now-married best friends, become shockingly successful—true to their initial artistic dreams, with the wealth and access that allow those dreams to keep expanding. The friendships endure and even prosper, but also underscore the differences in their fates, in what their talents have become and the shapes their lives have taken.

Wide in scope, ambitious, and populated by complex characters who come together and apart in a changing New York City, The Interestingsexplores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life."
What I Thought: This one had a lot of promise for me in the beginning. I enjoyed getting to know the characters as teenagers. It transported me back to a time when I could have pointed out a person in my life to fit every one of these kids. However, as they aged and their stories continued it just dragged on a bit. There was no real spark. I wasn't invested in their futures or where they ended up. I kept wishing Wolitzer had spent more time developing their stories at camp. It just felt a bit flat which was disappointing.

Rating: * * 1/2

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Lucky Star Brewery

A couple weekends ago, John and I were entertaining his parents at the B&B. Now, John is the breakfast maker around these parts. I couldn't flip a pancake to save my life. But, I was in charge on Saturday and made scones. Knowing that wasn't enough to sustain our day until lunchtime, I supplemented with a genius idea. Yogurt bar! It was a great way for everyone to customize their own parfaits with berries, coconut, walnuts, etc. Healthy option with fruit and protein. I think it was a big hit. After breakfast, I attempted a new hairstyle.

Dutch braids! If you don't know the difference, a Dutch braid is done by passing the strands under each other as opposed to a French braid in which the strands go over. The result is a braid that sits on top of the other hair. Some people call it an inside out braid. I followed this tutorial and felt like it did a good job explaining the steps.

What does this have to do with Lucky Star Brewery? 

Well, nothing really. Just that I was really proud of my handiwork. It was a hot day and my hair was off my neck. that was the main goal. Plus, it looked cute.

Onto the brews!

Lucky Star is the latest local brewery to open here in the Dayton area. It's located in Miamisburg about a block down the street from Star City Brewing Co., which we also took my in laws to for the first time. This was opening weekend for Lucky Star so we weren't sure if it would be too crowded to check it out. 
(Spoiler Alert: it wasn't).

Along with some brew kettles, the interior is brightly painted with Mexican decorations all over, including this hand painted skeleton face on the wall. Pretty fancy, eh?

They have 5 beers and their own root beer on tap. The flight was $6.42. Don't ask me why I remembered that exact amount. Maybe because I thought the tax on top was a little odd. But, the flight board was a cute wooden star and the glasses were mini handled mason jars. Too cute!

John doing what he does best

Here is the part where I have to slap my blogger self on the wrist. I didn't take a single note and I didn't take a picture of the board listing all of the beer. Duh. In my defense, we had been to a beer festival in Cincinnati first, then Star City. So, this was the third stop and I may not have been as sharp as I should have been.

What I definitely remember is that the hands down favorite at the table was what they're calling a Sweet Stout, but was really a milk stout. I love a good milk stout but my mother-in-law LOOOOVES a good milk stout and she was downright giddy for this one. Star City's milk stout is tasty and we were excited to have her try that but on this day, it wasn't very good. Something was off in that batch and we were disappointed. But, this Sweet Stout made up for it ten fold.

I know they had an Irish Red, a lager or wheat (what I'm holding up), probably an IPA that I would have skipped and maybe an Amber? That's my best guess. The 6th glass on the board is the ROOT BEER!! Root beer is my jam, y'all. I don't drink pop but if you hand me a frosty mug o' root beer I will drain that thing in about 2 seconds. It was sweet and crisp and simply amazing. It's non-alcoholic, just so there's no confusion. What this means is that if you have a buddy who is not into beer, they can come to Lucky Star with you and order the root beer instead!

Why would I go to a brewery and not get beer? For the chips and guacamole, of course! There is a small food menu and had we not been heading home to burgers and brats, we would have stuck there for dinner. The chips and guac were only $3.50 and holy cow was that guacamole full of flavor. There are several types of tacos available too and all reasonably priced. Service was fast and friendly the whole time we were there. The space is pretty sizable. You can sit at the bar or there are plenty of tables as well.

You're still here reading? Put your shoes on and get over there already!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Written in My Own Heart's Blood

I have been waiting for this book for 3 years! It is the latest installment in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. I've been waiting so long that I completely forgot what happened in the last book. I probably should have read my own review or another synopsis. No matter. I still remembered all my old friends.


Good Reads' Synopsis: "WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD is the eighth novel in the world-famous OUTLANDER series. In June of 1778, the world turns upside-down. The British army withdraws from Philadelphia, George Washington prepares to move from Valley Forge in pursuit, and Jamie Fraser comes back from the dead to discover that his best friend has married Jamie’s wife. The ninth Earl of Ellesmere discovers to his horror that he is in fact the illegitimate son of the newly-resurrected Jamie Fraser (a rebel _and_ a Scottish criminal!) and Jamie’s nephew Ian Murray discovers that his new-found cousin has an eye for Ian’s Quaker betrothed.

Meanwhile, Claire Fraser deals with an asthmatic duke, Benedict Arnold, and the fear that one of her husbands may have murdered the other. And in the 20th century, Jamie and Claire’s daughter Brianna is thinking that things are probably easier in the 18th century: her son has been kidnapped, her husband has disappeared into the past, and she’s facing a vicious criminal with nothing but a stapler in her hand. Fortunately, her daughter has a miniature cricket bat and her mother’s pragmatism.

The best of historical fiction with a Moebius twist, WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD weaves the fibers of a family’s life through the tapestry of historical drama."

What I Thought: Well, this didn't make as much of a splash for me as I had hoped. In 800+ pages it didn't really seem like a whole lot happened. Of course that's not true but I felt as if it was a bridge book. Like we were just trying to end up somewhere for the next book, which won't come out for even more years. I liked it because I enjoy the series but I wanted to like it a lot more. If you haven't read any of the Outlander books, obviously start at the beginning. But know that they are large and it will take you awhile. The journey is worth it.

Rating: * * *

Additional exciting information! Starz is now showing the new Outlander series. Do you have Starz? I do not. Can I come to your house and watch???? The actors they selected for Jamie and Claire do not fit my personal vision of them but I'm still excited to see it. Even if I have to buy it on DVD (do they still sell DVD'S?) whenever it comes out. If you've watched it, PLEASE tell me how it is.

Monday, August 11, 2014


Monday again?

Fun weekends make weekdays that much harder to handle. The struggle is real.

Not so fun parts of my weekend: playing chauffeur to get John's oil changed, dropping $200 at the vet to find out there's absolutely nothing wrong with Sadie's breathing, more heel pain from Saturday's miles

Extra super fun parts of my weekend:

-Eating amazing schnitzel at the Germanfest Picnic. I discovered my love for schnitzel at an Oktoberfest last fall. I don't even really like pork but dang if I don't devour a good schnitzel in about 3 seconds. And this Germanfest is a big deal here in Dayton. It's 3 days at Carillon Park and it was packed! Free to get in, $2 to park. Lots of food, music, biergarten, booths. GREAT festival.

-Watching a beard contest at said Germanfest, which is exactly what it sounds like. Bearded men were introduced to the crowd and then the volume of cheers they received decided the winner. It was intense.

-The cake that I wish I knew the name of and am glad to not even guess the amount of calories in it. It was pasty on the bottom, about 2 inches of cream filling in the middle, and then more pastry and candied almonds on top. What is this magical delicacy? The German man serving me said it too fast, and in German.

-Revisiting a wine bar that we love but haven't been to in over a year because we've been trying out all the breweries in our fair city. We only wish the live music had started earlier. One guy with an acoustical guitar and a nice voice. Next time, we'll go later and catch more of the set.

-Starting to cut up umpteen pairs of jeans for a sewing project I've never before attempted. I didn't get very far and I've got a long way to go but I have a plan and I even did all my math correctly. I think.

What was the best part of your weekend?

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Can I borrow $170?


I haven't really been doing much shopping lately. When I do shop, I don't buy anything. This is odd for me but maybe I'm growing up? I've seen these Ray-Ban Aviators with green flash lenses all over online but I finally tried them on the other day and just about lost my mind. I have yet to come up with a good argument for this expenditure except that I have had my current sunglasses for at least 7 years which is some sort of record for me. I told you I was growing up. A grown up needs grown up sunglasses.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Burnt Mountain

I was looking for a book about summer camp because it's summer and I have always wanted to go to sleepaway camp. While that ship has likely sailed, I did stumble upon Burnt Mountain by Anne River Siddons.


Good Reads' Synopsis: "Growing up, the only place tomboy Thayer Wentworth felt at home was at her summer camp - Camp Sherwood Forest in the North Carolina Mountains. It was there that she came alive and where she met Nick Abrams, her first love...and first heartbreak.

Years later, Thayer marries Aengus, an Irish professor, and they move into her deceased grandmother's house in Atlanta, only miles from Camp Edgewood on Burnt Mountain where her father died years ago in a car accident. There, Aengus and Thayer lead quiet and happy lives until Aengus is invited up to the camp to tell old Irish tales to the campers. As Aengus spends less time at home and becomes more distant, Thayer must confront dark secrets-about her mother, her first love, and, most devastating of all, her husband."
What I Thought: I read this a few weeks ago and forgot to write about it. Thus, I can hardly remember my talking points. What I do know is that the plot was flimsy and the best part was the heroine's name. The ending was bad and barely made sense. Pass on this one.

Rating: *

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

July Running Round Up

Well, I didn't do a very good job this month. It started out great with good intentions, as most months do. I did have an awesome PR in my July 4th 5K. After that.....not so much.

7/2: 3.5 mi, 29:52 TM, 8:58/8:23/8:18

7/4: 3.1 mi race, 27:18, new PR

7/8: 4 mi TM, 34:31

7/10: 3.1 OUT, 27:15

7/15: 5 mi TM, 45:16

7/19: 3 mi TM, 25:26 8:49/8:25/8:12

7/20: 6 mi, TM, 53:13, 8:54 pace

7/22: 3.3 mi TM, 29:35

7/26: 4 mi OUT, 36:21

35 total miles

Much lower than my normal goal but these things happen. Let me tell you about a funny story though. My last run of the month was back in my hometown on a hot Saturday morning. I had on my new short shorts and was trucking along. An old man sitting on his porch stood up, put his hands up to his mouth and yelled, "You don't need it!" I chuckled to myself, waved and said, "thanks!" His response, "Well, you don't." I gave him a thumbs up and kept going. For a split second, I couldn't decide whether to be flattered or creeped out. He wasn't skeevy so I went with flattered and smiled for the rest of my miles.

That and the 5K were my high points. My low point has been within the last week. I've been having a lot of heel pain on my left foot. It's not so much when I'm actually running but the day after is not good. I'm worried it's plantar fasciitis. I took about a week off but the pain is still there. Not sure what I'm going to do about this...... I haven't worn my orthotic inserts for a couple years but I'm working them back in to see if that helps.

Here's hoping August running is more normal!

Monday, August 4, 2014


Oh, heeeeeyyyy August.

Where did you come from? Just like every month this year I am shocked when the calendar flips over. I have no idea where July went. But I also have no clue where June, May, April, you get the picture, went either.

Here's something I did realize this weekend. I have no plans for August. None. I have no social obligations until Labor Day weekend. Normally I would be freaking out about this but when John pleaded, "don't plan anything," I agreed not to. We have been go go go for the past several months (probably why they move so quickly). It'll be nice to slow down and just relax for a little bit.

We haven't tackled any house projects at all this year really so perhaps something like that is in order. Or maybe I can accomplish something on my summer bucket list, none of which has been touched. These are not difficult tasks: go for a hike, play putt putt, ride bikes to the ice cream stand, get John to the pool with me. Classic summer fare. We just haven't had time to do any of it. Time's a wasting!

You want to hear an unrelated strange story? John and I were at JC Penney's yesterday looking for a dress to wear to a wedding. I had on a polo shirt and seersucker skirt. A woman came up to me and said, "I just have to tell you, you look really nice today." I was a little taken aback but said thank you for the compliment, of course. She went on and on about how she likes to wear outfits like this but sometimes she thinks she's too old. She also said you feel better when you dress up and she asked if John treats me better when I wear a skirt, which I thought was really odd. Here's the kicker. She said to remember to wear a skirt or a dress when you want to manipulate someone and that it would help me get what I wanted. Um....okay? She was a nice, older woman but, weird, right?

Anyway, make it a great Monday out there!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Back to Athens

More years ago than I care to admit, John and I were fresh-faced undergrads at Ohio University. We started dating just a few months before we both transferred there from other schools (a decision in the works prior to us getting together, for the record). Athens holds a special place in my heart because our relationship started and grew there for 3 wonderful years. A couple weekends ago, we went back for a visit.

This is the most spontaneous overnight I have ever orchestrated and gotten John to agree to so excuse me while I pat myself on the back. On Wednesday, I told John OU was hosting Ohio Brew Week. On Saturday, we were there. Bravo! We hadn't been back to campus since 2008 which was just a day trip. We walked around, ate, bought t-shirts and drove the 2+ hours home. It was fun but this was better. We stayed overnight at the OU Inn which is the only walkable hotel option. It's a bit under a mile which may seem far to some but we are accustomed to this walk. John's apartment was up a giant hill across the street so it was all very familiar.

We got there in the early afternoon, checked in, and headed up to campus. A lot had changed but it had the same feel. All of the happiness we felt when we were carefree in college came rushing back in and we immediately knew this spontaneous getaway was the right decision.

The CI in the daytime is strange.

Being Ohio Brew Week, we didn't have to stoop to the Miller Lite of our formative drinking years. Although, I did love the prices on that schlock. I wish I could go through all of the 30ish beers we tried but I didn't take good enough notes. And no, all of them were not full pours by any means.

Here are a few standouts that we really enjoyed:

-Rockmill Brewery, Saison Noir
-Mt. Carmel, Coffee Nut Brown
-Jackie O's, Skipping Stone (actually -- pretty much everything we had at Jackie O's)
-Listermann, White Death (my new favorite Christmas brew by FAR)

While the beers were great, the atmosphere was just as awesome as we remembered. I was worried I would feel really old but because of Brew Week, the crowd was definitely more outsiders than undergrads. That and there aren't nearly as many students on campus in the summer.

The remodeled Junction now known as J Bar -- come on.

One tank top wearing 22 year old guy talked to me as if I was much younger than my 31 years and it made me feel really good about myself. I am aging well, apparently.

At the Pigskin

We capped off the night with a slice of pizza from Goodfellas (of course) for the long walk back to the hotel. Our t-shirt supply is now restocked too and we have vowed not to let another 6 years go by before heading back.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

New Sweats

Can I tell you about a YouTube workout channel that I am loving lately? It's Jessica Smith TV.

I've done several of her workouts and they are a nice change of pace. I really like the ballet based ones but I did this fat burning yoga the other day and was pleasantly surprised at the sweat I worked up. It incorporated weights which I liked.

I love lifting heavy but small movements with light weights are a good way to mix things up. Also featured in many videos is her French bulldog, Peanut. LOVE this dog.

I've also been working my way through various kettle bell workouts on YouTube. THIS ONE from Bob Harper (of Biggest Loser fame) was top notch. I think it's actually a DVD series you can purchase but someone has put it on YouTube for free ninety-nine.

I'm really trying to shake things up since my weight loss has plateaued for the last 6 months or so. I'm still working out 6 days a week and eating normally. While I know running is still doing good things for me, it doesn't seem as effective as it usually is. Time to play around with some speed work and hills. My favorite! (Did that sarcasm come through?)

How is your fitness going? Any good YouTube channels I should check out?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Recipe Reblog: Grilled Corn & Crab Salad

This recipe for Grilled Corn & Crab Salad with Summer Ale Cilantro Vinaigrette from The Beeroness came across my blog feed and I knew I had to make it! Seemed like a perfect summery meal using local fresh corn and also tomatoes from my garden. I did make one major change in that I omitted the crab. I like crab but I wanted to serve this as a side dish for grilled chicken and I didn't feel like I also needed crab in there. I also skipped the avocado. I know, I know. But really, avocado is not my favorite. To me it's best in a good guacamole but not so much by itself.

The vinaigrette mixed up quickly and was full of flavor. I really liked the addition of the summer ale. It gave it a nice effervescence. Next time, I'll use a little less olive oil. Grill up your corn ahead of time so that it's chilled when you mix it all together. Then, ENJOY!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Garden Girl

We are closing in on the end of July and I haven't told you about this year's garden yet! I'm so sorry. We are having kind of a weird summer weather-wise here in Ohio and the garden doesn't really know what to do with that.

I planted (and killed) cilantro, rosemary, basil, mint and parsley for the herbs. I planted (and killed) broccoli, early girl tomatoes and beefsteaks. I re-planted the basil and (fingers crossed) it's still alive.

Let's talk about the successes. When I shopped for my plantings in May, I went on Mother's Day. I walked into Lowe's and said out loud, "I've made a terrible mistake." Mother's Day is a super popular day for plant buying, it seems. Plus, the weather was awesome so everyone thought, "Let's take Mom to buy her a chore." Lowe's and Home Depot both were totally picked over and thus, did not have my beloved Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes. I settled for Sunsweets.

They are orange in color but just as tasty (as I have learned) as my Sweet 100's. So far, I've harvested about 35. I'm calling this a success because it continues to bear fruit even though the leaves look like they're dying. As for my red pepper plant, the jury is still out. There is a pepper growing...slowly. P.S. Do not buy anything from Menard's garden center. You will be sorely disappointed.

One success? You say. That's it? You say. While I am distraught at the utter failure of my herbs, my dark horse of the garden has bolstered my spirits. This year, I tried zucchini for the first time. John was skeptical, to be sure. Well, I'm here to say that there is a large zucchini ready to harvest and 2 more on the way!


I hope by the end of the season we will have so much zucchini we won't know what to do with it! I am bummed that the tomatoes didn't work out because fresh bruschetta is my favorite but perhaps I'll find some new zucchini recipes that will cheer me up.

Did you plant this year? How is your crop?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Love Life

I headed to my old library last week when my current library didn't have the DVD for Walk the Line. My old library didn't let me down though. I forgot how much I loved their Express Check Out shelves. You can only keep the books for a week but they're all new releases. Too bad it's not convenient to anything and takes 15 minutes to get there. The newest memoir from Rob Lowe was available so I decided, why not?


Good Reads' Synopsis: "When Rob Lowe's first book was published in 2011, he received the kind of rapturous reviews that writers dream of and rocketed to the top of the bestseller list. Now, in Love Life, he expands his scope, using stories and observations from his life in a poignant and humorous series of true tales about men and women, art and commerce, fathers and sons, addiction and recovery, and sex and love.

In Love Life, you will find stories about:

• Kissing Unexpectedly
• The secrets they don't teach you in acting school
• His great, great, great, great, great-grandfather's role in the American revolution
• Parks and RecreationBehind the Candelabra, and Californication
• Trying to coach a kids' basketball team dominated by helicopter parents
• The hot tub at the Playboy mansion
• Starring in and producing a flop tv series
• Camping at Sea World
• Playing saxophone for president Bill Clinton
• The first journey to college with his son
• Warren Beatty
• The benefits of marriage

Throughout this entertaining book, you will find yourself in the presence of a master raconteur, a multi-talented performer whose love for life is as intriguing as his love life."

What I Thought: This was a little disjointed and all over the places but the stories and anecdotes were interesting. I am a fan of Lowe's acting and his writing is better than some memoirs out there. If you want to learn a bit more about his career and life, start with Stories I Only Tell My Friends.

Rating: * * 1/2

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Girl You Left Behind

I so enjoyed Me Before You by Jojo Moyes a couple weeks ago that I wanted to try another one by here. Thus, The Girl You Left Behind.


Good Reads' Synopsis: "In 1916, French artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his wife Sophie to fight at the Front. When her town falls into German hands, his portrait of Sophie stirs the heart of the local Kommandant and causes her to risk everything - her family, reputation and life - in the hope of seeing her true love one last time.

Nearly a century later and Sophie's portrait is given to Liv by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. Its beauty speaks of their short life together, but when the painting's dark and passion-torn history is revealed, Liv discovers that the first spark of love she has felt since she lost him is threatened...

In The Girl You Left Behind two young women, separated by a century, are united in their determination to fight for the thing they love most - whatever the cost."

What I Thought: While I didn't like this quite as much as Me Before You, it was still a good little read. I enjoyed the juxtaposition between old and new with Sophie and Liv and their separate plights. However, I did like Sophie's story a lot more than Liv's and was sad at the 100ish page mark when it switched to present day. The plot kept me guessing and the ending surprised me which was nice. Nothing worse than a predictable ending. If you like offbeat love stories with a little feminism mixed in, give this a shot.

Rating: * * *

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

June Running Round Up

June was a good month for miles, even if most of them were on the treadmill. Hey, it got really hot here in Ohio. Must be summer or something. And I want to congratulate myself for those 2.5 miles in Nashville. The gym at the Omni during my work trip was top notch. The miles were junk (up too late the night before honky tonking) but that's okay.

6/1: 4 mi, TM, 34:31

6/3: 4 mi, TM, 36:09, sore!

6/8: 4 mi TM, 36:02

6/10: 5 mi, TM, 44:23, 8:53 avg

6/14: 4 mi, OUT, 35:38, 8:53 avg!

6/15: 6 mi, TM, 53:14

6/17: 4 mi, TM, 34:56

6/19: 2.5 mi, hotel TM

6/22: 4.5 mi TM, 39:38

6/24: 3.3 mi, TM, 29:18

6/28: 4 mi, OUT, 35:47

6/30: 5 mi TM, 45:00

Total Miles: 50.3

Next on tap for July.....another 5K on the 4th!

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Fabulous 4th

What an amazing weekend! Was yours awesome too? I sure hope so.

I always like when a holiday falls on a Friday so you can dovetail it into the weekend seamlessly. A three day weekend will do wonders for the soul. Let's dive in, shall we?

Thursday night, John picked up our race packets on his way home. We walked Sadie and then headed over to a local park to hear the community orchestra play a selection of American and patriotic tunes. We've gone to this concert many times. It's free and well-attended but parking is plentiful and it's not far from our house.

They played some questionable songs that were only loosely America-related. Luckily, they ended with the 1812 overture and Stars and Strips Forever which is all we really wanted to hear anyway. We stopped for froyo on the way home. It is dangerous that they opened an Orange Leaf about a mile from our house.

Early to bed because Friday was early to rise.

We signed up to run the Americana 5K in Centerville knowing that we probably wouldn't have great races. Yes, we had just achieved PR's (personal records) in our last 5K but that course was flat and fast (even if it had been raining). We last ran this race 5 years ago. What a different time that was.

So, we got up before the alarm (Thank you, Sadie), ate our peanut butter toast and laced up.

I'm sporting my new Brooks shirt which I L-O-V-E love and want to buy in many colors. We got there in plenty of time and because the race starts and ends at the high school stadium, you get to use actual toilets instead of portapotties. Modern plumbing FTW! We lined up and were off. Well, once we weaved around all the people who lined up towards the front and were walking with no intention of actually running any bit of these 3.1 miles. Please. If you're going to walk, start in the back. The course is a simple out and back with a gradual but long hill right in the middle, which means you have to run it twice. There was one water stop manned by some very enthusiastic boy scouts.

I went out way too fast, as usual. About a half mile in I realized I was holding an 8:25 pace. Whoops! Better dial that back before I bonk completely. Before I knew it, I saw John at the turn around looking very strong. He was watching for me but didn't see me despite my arms waving like a fool. The long slog back began but my splits were looking good and I didn't want to give up. I started realizing that my pace was steady and faster than I expected. With about a half mile to go, I realized another PR was possible if I really went for it. So I did.

I entered the stadium and sprinted the final lap finishing in 27:18. A full minute faster than my last race! A full 4 minutes faster than my very first 5K. How about that! John also PR'ed with an amazing 23:23. We could not have been prouder of our races. It was good enough for a 22nd finish in my age group, 491st overall (out of more than 1,100). Average pace was 8:48 which is something I never hold outside. John finished 20/55 for his age group and 221 overall. We surprised ourselves. The weather was on our side. A cool start around 60 degrees, if that.

What a great way to start the day and get your workout finished early. Home to shower and cook. Lunch, a little downtime and then back to the Americana Festival. We walked by all the booths but didn't buy anything. A root beer float was shared and then we headed home to eat again.

At night, we pulled out the fire pit and enjoyed some s'mores. Our neighbors set off some small fireworks. It was lovely. Sadie didn't appreciate said fireworks though. She never does.

On Saturday, I made it to hot yoga for the first time in about a month. It was glorious. I wish I could go every day. In the afternoon, John and I drove about 45 minutes to Hanover Winery. They make good wines. They also make good wine slushies. We did a tasting and then shared a bottle with some snacks I had packed. The weather could not have been more cooperative. Sitting outside on a picnic table with a light breeze and some sun was perfection.

We stopped at the outlets on the way home but came home with just a new pair of running shorts for me and new shoes for boxing for John.

That brings us to Sunday. We were supposed to do yard work but that sounded wholly unappealing. Instead, we had a lazy morning with the New York Times and I'm writing to you fine people. Weekends like this make the toiling weekdays tolerable, yes?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Uganda Be Kidding Me

You know I'm always looking for a funny book. I have read a couple of Chelsea Handler's books in the past. She's not for everyone. Her memoirs are typically quite vulgar. If you are offended by language and off-color stories, walk on by Uganda Be Kidding Me.


Good Reads' Synopsis: "Wherever Chelsea Handler travels, one thing is certain: she always ends up in the land of the ridiculous. Now, in this uproarious collection, she sneaks her sharp wit through airport security and delivers her most absurd and hilarious stories ever.

On safari in Africa, it's anyone's guess as to what's more dangerous: the wildlife or Chelsea. But whether she's fumbling the seduction of a guide by not knowing where tigers live (Asia, duh) or wearing a bathrobe into the bush because her clothes stopped fitting seven margaritas ago, she's always game for the next misadventure.

The situation gets down and dirty as she defiles a kayak in the Bahamas, and outright sweaty as she escapes from a German hospital on crutches. When things get truly scary, like finding herself stuck next to a passenger with bad breath, she knows she can rely on her family to make matters even worse. Thank goodness she has the devoted Chunk by her side-except for the time she loses him in Telluride.

Complete with answers to the most frequently asked traveler's questions, hot travel trips, and travel etiquette, none of which should be believed, UGANDA BE KIDDING ME has Chelsea taking on the world, one laugh-out-loud incident at a time."

What I Thought: This was a fast, amusing read but not quite as funny as I wanted it to be. Handler's travel tales are slightly unbelievable but there are pictures included as evidence. It was so short, it only took me a couple hours to get through but that's okay. I don't think I needed more than that. Not the best from her.

Rating: * *

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Back on the Wagon

This weekend, to shockingly little fanfare, I had a cup of coffee. Unremarkable, I know. More remarkable when you know that I haven't had coffee since last December. I made the switch to tea as part of my New Year's resolution and a quest to cut out sugar. Tea gave me a much-needed morning jolt sans sugar. Tea, however, is not something I crave. I didn't really look forward to that morning cup. I tried mixing it up, chai, green, chamomile. It just wasn't as comforting as coffee.

On the weekends, I would stare longingly at John's cup of coffee while sucking down my Orange Ceylon. What I've discovered over these last nearly 7 months of fasting is that cutting those calories didn't seem to help me lose any more weight or magically make my stomach flatter. I, of course, have still been working out 6 days a week but I can't seem to break through this doggone plateau. Why am I depriving myself of something that I truly love when I'm not seeing any benefits from it?

The straw that broke the proverbial camel's back came in the form of coconut creamer. I spotted my beloved Coconut Creme Coffeemate in the cooler and had to have it. We at the G. Household are big fans of flavored creamers, especially holiday ones. The creamers John's been buying lately have no draw for me. They too are unremarkable. Coconut? That's another story. I am a fiend for coconut. I purchased that creamer, in the jumbo size.

Saturday morning, I put a K cup in my Keurig and brewed away. I took my first sip. While it was good, the choirs of angels I had been expecting to float down on high were not there. Sure, I enjoyed it but it was slightly bitter to me. In goes the sugar. I had told my sister that perhaps I would be able to just use creamer and it would be sweet enough. I was wrong. I'm also a fiend for sugar, it seems.

There you have it. I've turned back to the dark side. Only on weekends. Give me a little credit.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Dayton Date Night

Right on the heels of our Nashville trip, as in, we had to leave Nashville in time to be home for the show....we had tickets to Million Dollar Quartet at the Schuster Center in Dayton. We were gifted these from my parents back in January for our birthdays this year and the time had finally come to see the show.

I took this at the Johnny Cash Museum - how fitting!

If you're unfamiliar, Million Dollar Quartet tells the story of an incredible night in December 1956 when Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis met for a recording session at Sun Records. The show itself really follows the story of how Sam Phillips, owner of Sun Records, brought everyone together and where their careers were headed at that time.

The show is comprised of all their hit songs so it was a lot of fun. Our seats were incredible, third row! We happened to sit next to the mother of the actor playing Jerry Lee Lewis which was neat. If you're a fan of this music, you'll really enjoy this show. We did!

Prior to the show, we had a light dinner at Citilites Restaurant in the Schuster Center. We were a bit short on time so we thought it'd be easier to already be at the theatre ahead of the show. Having eaten much southern food the previous three days, both John and I opted for salads. He had the kale caesar and my Wintergarden salad had mixed greens, blue cheese, cranberries and pecans. Both were delicious and very reasonably priced, especially since they were huge. They hit the spot! We also shared the Beef Tenderloin Egg Rolls which were quite tasty. Service was relatively quick in that we got to the show on time and we were able to get a table without having a reservation. We would definitely eat here again!

All in all, a great night out downtown. We are looking forward to trying out some new-to-us restaurants in Dayton in the coming weeks too.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Destination: Nashville

 Do you ever discover a new city on vacation and instantly feel like you could move there tomorrow? That's what Nashville did for me last week. John and I were fortunate enough to be sent there for a convention. It was a great mix of business and pleasure. Because the business side will bore you, here's what we did for pleasure!

We spent three nights at the Omni Nashville Hotel. Our room was $200/night before taxes but it's possible that may have been a group rate. The rooms were modern and spacious with a luxurious feel. Actually, everything in the hotel felt luxurious. The beds were comfortable, the shower was perfect and the room itself was so quiet. I didn't even need my earplugs. TOP TRAVEL TIP: Please tell me you pack earplugs when you travel. It will change your life! Nothing worse than noisy neighbors. There are several restaurants in the hotel and it happens to be attached to the Country Music Hall of Fame. We didn't have time to tour that but plan to do so in the future. Parking was a bit pricey at $32/night for valet but I think that's pretty comparable to other nearby hotels.

Outside the hotel, it was only a short 2 blocks to Broadway. Nashville is known as the Live Music Capital of the World and this is why! Starting in the afternoon and straight on through to the wee hours of the morning, each of these bars, honky tonks and restaurants has live music playing non-stop. It was incredible! If you're not a country music fan, never fear.

Great group at Robert's Western World -- view from the back balcony bar area

A lot of the groups played a mix of some fun, non-country hits sprinkled in. We had the best time at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, Robert's Western World and Tin Roof Music Joint. Some of the places even had multiple stages and groups performing. The drinks were pretty pricey ($5/beer and $7+ for mixed drinks) but there are no cover charges. The bands play for tips and boy, do they deserve them.

Tootsie's Orchid Lounge -- awesome fiddler!

We had a fantastic time dancing and singing along with our new colleagues and all the other tourists. We probably stayed out way too late but it was hard to leave! Our last night was just the two of us because our friend, Sarah, and many others had already gone home. It was fun but it's more fun with a bit of a group where you're all enjoying the energy. The whole area has a fun and funky vibe. Everyone is friendly and in a good mood. Please don't miss the honky tonks if you head to Nashvegas (as they say).

Let's talk food. If you are a fan of southern cuisine, you are in luck! If you need lots of green vegetables in your life, you might have a little trouble. We ate at Rippy's BBQ as a group one night with a buffet of pork, chicken, potato salad, and cole slaw. I'm not sure about the cost as it was included in our tour price but I'm guessing it was quite reasonable. We ate at one of the hotel restaurants one night as well, Barlines. Burgers were cooked well and sweet potato chips were crunchy and plentiful. Most meals, however, were eaten during meetings and they were all tasty too. The Omni knows what they're doing, especially with fried chicken. YUM!

We discovered a couple Tennessee delicacies, as well. There were Moon Pies and Goo Goo clusters in our welcome bags. Holy cow! I was not counting calories at all this trip. I'm praying the dancing and walking balanced it all out. And we DID run in the hotel gym one morning (very nice facility).

Besides the food and music, there wasn't much time for sightseeing outside of meetings. We didn't even make it to the Opry or the Ryman. We were able to take a bus tour as a group on Thursday night which took us to some further out areas in Nashville like Music Row and gave a good history of the region. The one place John and I did visit was the Johnny Cash Museum.

It happened to be open until 7:00 pm when all other museums were closing at 5:00. It was also the cheapest entry fee at $15/person. It's a small but well done museum and John is a big fan so he really liked it. Lots of memorabilia and information about his career.

I actually learned a lot about Cash that I didn't know which was nice. One of my favorite exhibits was an ipad that allowed you to hear his songs in all different mediums they were recorded (vinyl, cassette, CD, mp3). That was very interesting and the vinyl really did sound great. The cassettes, not so much. It took us about an hour to go through which was enough time to let the rain outside let up. We had hot, steamy weather all three days but it did rain for a couple hours on Friday afternoon.

Last stop, not to be missed, is Hatch Show Print. This is the letterpress company that prints all of the posters for the artists coming into town for concerts, among other things. This was also attached to our hotel.

We bought a couple prints as souvenirs and I'm excited to frame them in our house. This is one that we bought. I couldn't find the other two online but they are equally cute and will make nice memories from our trip.

I'm already plotting when we can return to this wonderful city. There is so much that we missed that must be seen! I also want to get some cowboy boots really badly. John wasn't into it, but maybe he'd let me go back for this hat?

Even if you're not into country music, I think everyone can find something they'd love about Nashville. It was about a 5 hour drive for us which wasn't bad at all. Very easy for a future vacation......