[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I don’t know about you, but I love a good stroll through the Homegoods section at T.J. Maxx. You never know what might catch your eye. Or… give you the evil side-eye from the top shelf.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Apparently, after his mom was offed, Bambi ended up in the vase aisle. I thought about sneaking this into my cart, posing it on our mantle at home and trying to pass it off as a serious decoration. You know, to annoy Nick. And then I thought about waking in the wee hours of the morning, as I often do, stumbling into the kitchen for a glass of water and squaring off with those menacing eyes (and hooves). And subsequently having a heart attack.
No prank is worth that (even with a deeply discounted price tag). On the other hand, if it was sanded and spray painted white… hmm… would that be dear? I may be back on the hunt.
[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Happy National Running Day! And Happy 1st Day of June! I’m sure there are plenty of other things to be happy about… so Happy Everything Else, too! I always love the start of a new month (and clearly, exclamation points). With the big focus on running today, I’m looking forward to a summer (and fall and winter) full of races. What’s On Tap for the rest of 2011 race-wise?
Basically, if I didn’t register for 50 million races, I would never run. Ever. I would just sit on the sofa at watch Masterpiece Theatre. I ran my first race 4 or so years ago, at Nick’s encouragement. I saw how hard he was training, and the pride he felt with each new PR. I regularly ran on the treadmill at the gym, though without much purpose. I’d watch the timer tick down from 30 and be done. Running with a goal in mind– finishing a race– was a whole new ballgame. I found myself wanting to run further, run faster, and run longer.
My first trip across the finish line wasn’t pretty, but that feeling of accomplishment and relief coupled with overwhelming desire to either take an immediate nap or drink a celebratory beer was instantly addictive. In just a few short years, I’ve gone from wondering if I could run a 5k to knowing I can run a marathon. I’ve saved every single race bib and medal (the ones shaped like bottle openers are especially useful), and will soon be featured on a special runners edition of Hoarders. Just kidding. Unless that’s a real thing, in which case… producers, call me.
A (pained) smile made for television, don't you think? No? Maybe? What if I promised to shower first?
I am not especially good, and I am not especially fast. Sometimes I take walking breaks. Sometimes I forget to charge my iPod and after a mile or two, I want to commit criminal acts. I am not a zen runner. I spend more time starring at my watch than I should. I don’t always stick to the plan. I have been known to skip a workout here and there. Sometimes I worry too much about who’s faster than me or what I am wearing. But other times, I just run. I don’t run like the wind; I am more of a slight breeze. But when I am caught up in the moments, rather than the minutes, I am unstoppable. And if I can be unstoppable, you can be unstoppable too.
Whether you’re a veteran runner or thinking about getting started, the National Running Day website is packed with great information. A few links worth exploring:
[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Or inside. Either way, they’re pretty. Nick and I took a road trip in the rain to Westford to check out The Butterfly Place. I bought an Eversave voucher for discounted tickets, but forgot to print it (minor details), so I shelled out the cash for full price admission. I wasn’t sure what to expect, since the gift shop at the entrance seemed to be overrun with children buying “hatch your own butterfly kits,” but I was encouraged by all the full grown adults coming and going with camera equipment.
When we entered the butterfly flight area, we were immediately surrounded by the most beautiful butterflies I have ever seen. The space is akin to a greenhouse, with temperatures kept between 80-85 degrees (my hair instantly frizzed into Cape-hair), and tall ceilings. There are paths that meander through butterfly bushes, flowers and greenery… and some sort of chicken coop thing (for some cute little bird that is definitely not a chicken). For the record, I totally tried to get butterflies to land on my hand, but to no avail. I left the flowers alone.
Once the fog cleared from my lens, I started taking photos at random. Fortunately a few turned out pretty well. Including this one of someone’s bum.
Here are a few non-rear views, complete with some serious wing flapping.
I liked that yellow one best. Nick doesn’t seem amused, however.
After we checked our persons for hitchhikers, we hit the road again.
None of the butterflies tried to escape, so that probably means they’re happy there. I can’t say I blame them; it’s a pretty cool place.
[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]For the first time, and likely last time, ever I outran Nick this weekend… um, but only because he got injured at last week’s soccer game. We planned to stay close to our little team’s home base at the South Boston Running Emporium due to the drizzly weather and his busted hamstring. We ran side-by-side (awww) until I complete ate sh-t on D Street (owww) and watched Nick continue to motor on, unaware that I was face down on the sidewalk. What can I say, when he’s in the zone, he’s in the zone.
After I dusted myself off (and spit on the offending slippery grate for good measure… just kidding, I’m a lady), I tried and failed to catch up to my speedy boyfriend. When he looked back, I was already up and running, so he assumed I had simply slowed down and wanted to run my own run. That’s often how I roll.
I saw him run one way at the Sugar Bowl, so I ran the other way expecting to meeting him head-on at the halfway point. Unfortunately, he had turned back for the store, while I tried to hunt him down, asking strangers if they had binoculars or overhead satellite access. In the meantime, I ran a bunch more miles.
I eventually made my own way back to the store, covered in sea spray, a bit bruised and cut up, but proud of myself for sticking with it. It’s not every day that you wipe out less than a mile into your run, but I suppose that any day you get to run is a good one. Those seven miles were character-building for sure. Speaking of characters and Wipeout!, I really want to be on that show.
[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] We’re about to hit the road for Mass and Easter dinner at my parents’ house, but I wanted to be sure to wish those of you celebrating, a very happy Easter Sunday. To everyone ele, I’m wishing you a very happy regular Sunday.
In case you missed this last year, here is Clark doing his best impression of the Easter Bunny:
When I was little, I was terrified of the “Eater Bunny,” and as such, our baskets were filled and carefully delivered… to my dad’s car. Can you blame me?
Keep out of my house.
Terrifying. Speaking of terrifying, wait ’til my family cuts into this cake I baked (and then had to piece together with a big piping bag of frosting…) yesterday evening. Looks can be deceiving. I will be sure to post its innards later today.
As I rush to dry my hair and find my missing shoe, I’ll leave you with a few more early Easter pictures.
Easter baskets for Nick and Clark.
Please don't call the MSPCA. He likes the ears, I promise.
Happy St. Valentine’s Day from me to you. With a ribbon on it. And a paper rose. And some glitter. And a heart-shaped doilie. And two of these little ginger snaps.
When I was sixteen, I spent Valentine’s Day in Rome as a nerdy American exchange student. I think I’ve told you this story before, but it’s too mortifying to not dig up again. In my universe, Valentine’s Day is for everyone you love– your handsome boyfriend, your parents and siblings, your grandmother, your Frenchie (obviously), and most certainly, your friends. It’s a day to be a little mushier than usual, and as James Taylor would say, it’s a day to shower the people you love with love.
I didn’t know my Italian host family before arriving in Rome, but they were generous enough to be taking care of me and that automatically made them quite lovely. My mother helped me pick out little Valentines and chocolates for each of the family members– the mother and father, the Nonna, the daughter, and the two sons. I was excited to pull these little treats from my bright red suitcase on Valentine’s Day morning and bring them to the breakfast table with me. As I handed each Valentine to its intended recipient, I was met with puzzled looks. “Valentine’s Day is only for lovaaaaaaahs,” one of the older brothers declared.
My face turned the color of a Valentine and I contemplated crying, or fainting, or pretending to speak neither Italian nor English. I’m sure I got over it eventually, but my cheeks still burn thinking of that mortifying morning. When you’re sixteen and a twenty-five year old Italian in skinny jeans is saying the word lover, it would be impossible to not be mortified. In my opinion.
I also remember this (only slightly creepy) brother was wearing a BUM Equipment sweatshirt for essentially the entire length of my stay in Italy (he kept telling me it was “very cool and American,” and I kept trying to translate the phrase “Only if you take a time machine back a decade,” to no avail), and that makes me feel better.
And at the end of the day, I’d rather embarrass myself than not let people know I care about them. Even people wearing the word bum across their chest. Point being: Valentine’s Day is not only for lovers. It’s for everyone you love. So get out there and be mushy.
[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] Charm bracelets have been around in some form or fashion (according to Wikipedia, obviously) for 75,000 years. That means they’re almost as old as the jar of mustard I found in the back of my refrigerator this morning. My parents bought me my charm bracelet when I was in eight grade, I think. I (that is to say, the bracelet) had just two charms at the time: a tennis racquet and a soccer ball. Totally ballin’.
I don't advise wearing this through security at Logan.
Next came the music staff. Inspired by President William Jefferson Clinton, I played the saxophone, but had the wherewithal to quit before we were required to play in the marching band. Polyester does not agree with my sensitive skin. Nor does social ostracism. Just kidding. I also sang in the Chamber and Jazz Choirs. Judge freely.
Charms make brilliant souvenirs. They don’t take up any room in your suitcase, and they’re always right on your wrist when you’re in the mood for a mental vacation or a trip down memory lane. From our summers on the Cape, I have a lobster trap (complete with a trapped lobster), a Nantucket basket (Nick thought this one was an NFL helmet… he might have concussion), a whale’s tail, a lighthouse and a scallop shell. From my parents’ adventures, I have a buffalo (I think this is from Arizona, but I’m not sure if they have buffalos there, so I could be wrong), and sandals from Sanibel and Captiva.
Vista House (in miniature).
Nick bought me this miniature Vista House. He was in Portland, Oregon for work a few summers ago, so I went out to visit for a weekend. We drove out to the Columbia Gorge, climbed a bunch of waterfalls, and enjoyed breathtaking views at Vista House. Then I deleted all of the pictures on my camera… so we retraced our footsteps and did it everything over again. Everything, except for the deleting part.
Vista House (in real life).
I tend to think it was worth going back for photographs and memories like this.
Let’s see, what else is on here? I have a thistle–the emblem of Scotland– for my grandfather, who wasn’t prickly, but he was Scottish. Similarly, I have a pineapple, which reminds me of my parents’ house and is the symbol of hospitality and welcoming (and fruity beverages). I also have a vintage charm that I found on Etsy, a tiny silver key with the Virgin Mary on one side and Our Lady of Guadeloupe on the other. It’s really cute, in a holy way.
When my younger brother and I visited our older brother at the UVA Law, we visited Montecello. I wasn’t feeling well and nearly fainted in Thomas Jefferson’s bed (where he, coincidentally, had died many years earlier). To commemorate the trip, and my survival, I picked up a quill pen and ink charm, with TJ’s signature on the inkwell, in the gift shop. Next to that is a ferocious looking eagle, which soared onto my bracelet after I graduated from BC. And by soared, I mean it was attached by one of those melting tool things the jeweler uses.
My newest charm has extra special meaning. It arrived in the mail a few days ago from my friend Kristine, and is in the shape of Cinderella’s castle to celebrate completing my first marathon. It’s a great reminder not only of what I can accomplish through hard work, but how blessed I am to have such incredible friends and family.
If I ever forget for a second how lucky I am, all I have to do is look down at my charms. They’re magically delicious. You saw that coming.
[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] Humans are nosy creatures. I’m pretty sure we were just born that way. Either that, or MTV’s Cribs made us that way. We could debate nature vs. nurture, or I could just let you peek inside my fridge and call it a day.
48 hours ago, our refrigerator housed nothing but a jar of pickles, a bruised tomato and a few bottles of Nick’s home brewed beer. Perhaps that’s why I mysteriously lost two pounds. I scaled back our grocery shopping knowing we’d be away over the holidays and for the marathon. What I didn’t anticipate was a full blown blizzard coinciding with a full blown post-marathon hunger rage. Whoopsies. We made do with one or two quick trips to the store, plus a gigantic Peapod order once the snow had cleared and the truck could safely make it down our driveway. Now we have three jars of pickles. And some other stuff, too. Grocery delivery has changed my life for the better. And the lazier.
A few tips if you’re considering a similar service:
I still do most of my shopping in person, like most non-celebrities, but Peapod and similar services are great for large orders and stocking up, or for when you don’t want to carry economy-sized packs of toilet paper through your building lobby.
Ordering online is convenient, helps with meal planning, and helps to eliminate impulse purchases… like Star Magazine, for example. Or chocolate-covered… chocolate. The downside being, obviously, that you never find out if that baby really is an alien, and you miss out on the chocolate.
Coupons, online specials, and the odd discount code or two help to offset the delivery fee– many services will give you free delivery on your first order. Once you get a taste, you’ll probably get addicted. You’ve been warned.
Our driver always takes our plastic bags from previous orders, so I don’t feel quite as bad about blowing up the Earth by not using re-usable bags. This may not be true for every service, but it’s worth looking into.
One of these things is not like the others. Hint: it's the bagel that could be mistaken for a small asteroid.
I took Bridget‘s lead and supplemented my usual groceries with a trip to the Wayland Winter Market at Russell’s Garden Center. One of my favorite things about living in the city is having access to multiple farmers’ markets during the spring, summer and fall, but it wasn’t until I read Bridget’s recent post about winter markets that I realized how much I missed the local, farm-fresh produce and goodies during the cold months. Yesterday marked my first Saturday in nearly five months with no early morning long run On Tap, so I hopped in the car and enjoyed a gorgeous, snowy ride west of the city to Russell’s.
In addition to the fromage blanc (from a farm in my hometown) and Pam’s Salstina, I also picked up a bag of loose black citrus tea, two salt bagels the size of my head, and a big bunch of fresh basil from the Cape. There was a great variety of vendors at tables scattered throughout the garden center. It was a lovely way to spend the morning and add a few fun ingredients to ye old fridge.
Curious about the rest of the kitchen?
I think Nick’s favorite thing about the kitchen (besides the fact that food magically appears in there), is the under-counter lighting. Those lights make no sense to me, so we spent 5-12 hours a week, following one another to the light switch turning them on and off. I figure we’re saving time by having someone else grocery shop for us, so we may as well waste that saved time, by wasting energy.
A real bulldog, and a real bulldog tea towel.
Our kitchen is rather small, but I think it’s just plain perfect. There’s plenty of room for everything we might need, and no room for the things we don’t need.
Yes, that is a Sandra Lee cookbook. Don’t judge. She makes a mean tablescape, and an even meaner cocktail.
In case you need proof that art imitates life, I give you a newly acquired piece of art, which cost about the same as two bunches of basil. And it hasn’t wilted. Yet.
A print of Jane Mount's Ideal Bookshelf 102: Cooking... must frame and hang sometime this millennia.
The two hardest working things in the kitchen (besides the dishwasher, obvi) help me to reach things that are way up, or way down.
A collapsable step stool for shorties like me, and a very furry vacuum cleaner.
And last but not least, my absolute favorite, functional item in the kitchen: my BC Grandpa mug. I sort of stole it (with my mom’s permission) from my grandparents’ house when my Grandma was moving into assisted living. As much as I like everything to match, I think there’s something sort of sentimental about tea mugs.
Cute mug for a cute man!
My grandpa was one of the kindest, sweetest men, and though he didn’t live to see me or my siblings graduate from BC (or Merrimack… hello, big little brother), I think he’d get a kick out of me walking around with his mug. And he’d probably like our kitchen. I would’ve loved to show him around. 🙂
Welp, it’s almost time for grown men to get paid millions to jump on one another the Patriots v. Jets, so off I go. Perhaps I’ll take you on a tour of the living room if the game gets boring.
Also On Tap for Today:
Look for indoor soccer shoes, first game’s tomorrow
And my amazing (and fast!) boyfriend. And my incredible family. And the strangers on Twitter who tweeted words of encouragement at 5 AM on race day. And my fellow Team in Training South Boston teammates: Nick (obvi), Amy, Brian, Tina, Mal, Colleen and Ben. And our coach Christina. And the incredible TNT coaches, mentors and staff who lined the marathon route offering support and encouragement. And all those who have bravely battled blood cancer, and their families who battled alongside them.
[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] Let’s begin by acknowledging what a gigantic nerdball I am. Good. And I will continue by promising I am almost done rambling about my vacation. We just have to talk about Tulum and another day of Cool Stuff Explorations and then you can stop wanting to poke me in the eye. Let’s roll.
The day we spent amongst the Mayan ruins at Tulum nearly blew my tiny mind. I was like,
“Whoa! Look at that! Whoooaaaa! Look at that! How did they doooo that? Whoa! Look at that!”
And our tour guide was like,
“Whoa! Pipe down, ya freak! You’re single-handedly ruining my tour of the ruins. By the way, we offered you all umbrellas for a reason. You look like a drown poodle. Take this poncho as a sign of my annoyance with you.”
I saw someone run up those stairs, Rocky-style. I simultaneously wanted to join him and citizens arrest him.
Looks like someone had the brains to take a complimentary umbrella. More importantly, how beautiful is this place?!
Talk about a view. (Please ignore the water blob/paranormal activity thing... it really could be either.)
I literally walked around the park with my mouth wide open, taking photographs in the pouring rain (with Nick protecting my camera), looking like the most nerd-mazing tourist on the planet, trying to soak it all in. I wish it hadn’t been pouring, but we were in the jungle, so I suppose that’s to be expected. Plus, the rain made everything seem even more mysterious. Here are a few of the things I learned:
Tulum is Mayan for “wall.” In other words (i.e., in my imagination), someone probably pointed in the general vicinity of the ruins of the walled city and was like, “What is this?” And someone answered, “A wall… obviously.” And then the first person was like, “I just discovered Tulum. Please. Shower me with praise.” Tulum may have actually been named Zama, meaning city of dawn.
The city is pre-Columbian (and therefore pre-Pinta, pre-Nina, and pre-Santa Maria) and reached its height between the 1000 and 1600 A.D. The city was inhabited by the Mayas for approximately 80 years after the arrival of European colonists. It is speculated that because the Mayas worshiped a god who looked like a white man, they did not immediately feel threatened by the Spanish. Who knows? (Probably someone, obvi.)
Only 500 people lived within the walls of the city. The city was a noble city, and only the ruling and priest classes were allowed to live within the walls. Everyone else lived outside the walls. The only time all people were welcomed into the city (for reasons other than work) were on feast days– on these days, our tour guide told us, everyone wore white robes. I bet that would be incredible to see. At feasts there would be dancing, competitions, performances and sacrifices (some human, some not human).
The pyramids and other structures were rebuilt every 52 years. Unbelievable, right? Meanwhile it’s taking me 52 years to pick a shade of gray paint for our walls.
Speaking of paint, the buildings were painted a vibrant red and blue, using paprika and indigo which were acquired on trade routes. Tulum was a major trade port for the Mayan empire and could be easily accessed by land or water. The Mayas traded cacao, salt, jade and obsidian at Tulum.
We learned a lot about the Mayan calendar, mathematical system and religion, too. Because the Mayas understood that the universe was logical and predictable, they were obsessed with time. By predicting cycles, they were able to set their own cycles for farming and so on. Their calendar system was used to dictate everything from behavior to when religious ceremonies would be held. I am sort of not at all equipped to explain this stuff. But trust me– it’s incredible. The Mayas also developed an extremely sophisticated writing system.
We ordered a personalized Mayan calendar while we were there (and I scored my very own luchador mask, but I am saving that gem for later). We needed to provide a significant date, and all I could think of was Clark’s birthday (weird, I know). It turns out Clark‘s animal spirit is a dog. The accuracy is chilling.
Nick and I met the Saturday Friday (please see the comments section hahahaha) after St. Patrick’s Day a hundred years ago, but truth be told, I can’t remember the actual date. We could have just used one of our birthdays for the calendar, but I wanted both of our names to be on it (you know, in case we ever need to prove our whereabouts… these are the things I worry about), if only so I could see how Nick’s last name would be misspelled (this seems to happen all the time). Somehow, only Nick’s first name was spelled wrong. Touche, souvenir seller, touche. I don’t know why I am telling you this.
Okay. More pictures.
This temple, overlooking the Caribbean, had small portals in the upper levels. The sun would shine through specific portals during the Solstice and other important days.
5 points if you can spot the bird.
I may be a professional nerd, but clearly I am an amateur historian– so, please forgive me if a. none of this makes sense or b. some of this turns out to not be true. And do let me know if you’ve got some facts to share. I paid as much attention as I could, while still yelling “Whooaaaa!” and pointing at things. I am sure you understand. It’s a lot to fathom.
Also On Tap for Today:
Testing out paint samples (this could go one of two ways– one of them is horribly wrong)