Thursday, August 30, 2012

Life...Back on Track

I am well aware that anything including the words "Penn State" is a loaded subject at the moment.  However, I am a strong supporter of the Nittany Lions and think that the 10 men I've spoken about below are doing an amazing thing, in memory of a great athlete.

It's no shock to most of you that I am still pole vault obsessed, even 4 years after I stopped competing.  Vault Safe was my motto for most of my high school and then college career, after a horrible accident at the 2002 Big Ten Championships where a Penn State vaulter, Kevin Dare, was killed.  I sported a blue bracelet that said Vault Safe, and I know my own mom was thankful for that. While this terrible accident was exactly that, terrible - I am proud to follow- along with Life... Back on Track as they experience the journey of a lifetime in honor of Kevin.

This week, 10 cross country runners have begun their quest to set a world record for running 1000 miles.  Yes, that says 1000 miles - from the indoor track at University of Minnesota where Kevin was killed to the outdoor track in State College, Kevin's home track. 8 of these runners are Penn State alumni, and one is a fellow graduate of my high school, Nick Hilton. The current world record for a 1,000-mile relay is 99 hours 3 minutes and 27 seconds and is held by a marathon team from South Africa. 
The team - courtesy of

They are doing this to raise awareness, raise money for the Kevin  Dare Foundation, and support the Dare family.  The goal of the run is to raise $20,000 - enough for one full scholarship. Please follow as they blog on their website, tweet updates, mileage, and speeds, and if you have a few dollars, please donate as well. They are a funny group of guys (as it seems most xc runners are), and are dedicated like you wouldn't believe!

Thanks for taking the time to read my plea, and remember that we can all use a little support to get our own life... back on track.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Long Overdue: Stay-cation 2012

Long Overdue: The heading for posts I should have posted a long time ago, but either forgot to write, never downloaded photos, or just ran out of time. There will be several of these to come in the next few weeks.

Due to a general junky set of circumstances, we decided to stay in the area for our week of summer vacation this year.  The most exciting thing we did was spend 2 days in DC.  We purchased tickets to "Brew at the Zoo" at the National Zoo, visited Arlington, The Mall, several Smithsonian's, the Zoo, and Fort Myers. 

Arlington and the Tomb of the Unknown are two of the most moving things I have ever seen, and having Christopher with us made those even more so.

The Korean Memorial is important to many people, but over 18 months became even more important to Christopher.  It was incredibly special, and something I won't forget.

Seeing Fort Myers from the perspective of a soldier is something we would never have had an opportunity to see otherwise.  Unfortunately, I was so immersed in the vehicles, horses, and soldiers that I took zero photos. Maybe someday I'll get a do-over and will be able to spend another day learning about the Old Guard and exactly what these men (and women) do.

Now, for Brew at the Zoo.  This was a really amazing fundraiser for the zoo, we were able to take the metro there and back, and got to drink some great beer.  I think that was a great opportunity, and the most fun I've had at a zoo in 10 years!

Any suggestions for our next trip to DC?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Long Overdue: Light at Longwood Gardens

Long Overdue: The heading for posts I should have posted a long time ago, but either forgot to write, never downloaded photos, or just ran out of time. There will be several of these to come in the next few weeks.

Just after the 4th of July, I got invited to attend the exhibit Light by Bruce Munroat Longwood Gardens.  I've attended the Christmas at Longwood exhibit dozens of time, but to see Longwood in an entirely different manner was very exciting! I should note that the gardens are open late during this exhibit, and I was there from 8pm - 11pm and could have spent hours more.

I'm not going to share the entire thing, because I encourage everyone and anyone I know to attend themselves! (It's even man-friend friendly - note: they serve beer for during your walking visit).  The three best areas, in my opinion, were the Water Towers, the Forest of Light, and Waterlilies. 

Water Towers as shown below, one-liter recyclable plastic bottles filled with water, wood layers, and fiber optics that makes each of the tower change colors.

The Forest of Lights took me about 20 minutes to walk through, and was very peaceful.  The forest is completely dark with the exception of the lights you see below.  With varying shades of red, yellow, green, and blue, the colors are amazing against the dark sky. 

The last thing I found most interesting was the water lilies on the pond.  These apparently are cool to see during the day as well since the sun reflects on them.  In the evening, I was able to see a bit of the sunset reflection on the cds, but was most interested to see the composition of cds on water.

Please feel free to ask if you have any questions, I have been raving about it for weeks and am hoping to convince Kev to go with me soon! You'll need to buy timed tickets via Longwood's website and if you have time, I would suggest visiting Brandywine Prime or Brandywine Bistro for dinner beforehand.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Best Birthday Gift 2012

I am willing to admit that this year, I received two amazing gifts for my birthday.  My mom always asks what your favorite gift, moment, holiday, vacation, etc was and this year, it was a super tough answer!

Husband bought me an amazing purse, thanks to the wonders of Pinterest.  I am not a flashy bag girl, but this one is awesome! It has a shoulder strap, but I haven't used that one yet since I think it looks a little odd. 

Aldo Revera
The second amazing gift is a year's subscription to Birchbox from my in-laws! Rockstar Sister In Law gave me the cute set-up you see below, as a "stand-in" until I recieved my first box at the end of July. 

The real first box I received is further below and my favorite sample in that box was the Stainiac lip stain.  It's a great pink color and has lasted me throughout an entire work day!

I am super excited to see what I receive throughout the year and hopefully find some new favorite products for myself, friends, & family throughout the year! If you have any interest in trying Birchbox for a year, a gift, or even just a month to month subscription, feel free to use my link HERE.  I will acknowledge up front that I do receive Birchbox Points if anything is purchased.

Friday, August 17, 2012

27 Going on 13 (Thanks Face)

Welcome to the world of my skin.  I won't list my eight hundred issues, complain about zits, or how my skin trashes my self confidence 27 - 30 days/month.  I'm begging for help and suggestions from anyone who has had success with issues similar to the two that most bother and affect me. 

I have tried a variety of products (most listed below) and all avenues of diagnosis and treatment from weekly dermatology visits, monthly Ulta appointments, and clearing the shelves at CVS. I understand it could be worse, and that this is a totally first world problem, but it's my skin and my confidence and my first world problem.

  1. Tiny bumps all over my cheeks and T-zone (not pimples, but little bumps, often red)
  2. Large under skin cysts that are painful and often take a week to develop into a giant zit and then a week to go away.  
  1. I wash my face every morning, post-work (to clean off the make-up). post work-out (4x/week), and before bed.  So, most days that is face washing 4x/day.
  2. Based on whatever regime I am following, I typically add in some sort of toner or astringent morning and night, plus sunscreen in the morning, and spot treat large zits at night.
Dermatology Solutions:
  1. Dermatologist Number 1 - I visited her for 2 years, and she used a variety of peels, microdermabrasion, blu-u light treatments, and MD Forte topical products.  This was thousands of dollars and the only improvement I saw was in the quality of my skin.  The skin not covered with tiny bumps and giant cysts looked great, but that was not the goal.
  2. Dermatologist Number 2 - This doctor used more straight forward oral antibiotics that negated the effectiveness of my birth control, and so I only took them for about 3 weeks.  Maybe a bad move on my part, but at the time a baby would have been way more inconvenient than some pimples.  We moved on to prescription acne treatments such as face wash with sulfur, clyndamycin, and Differin gel.  In the end I spent about $180/month for 4 months and saw no results. 
Ulta Solutions & Products:
  1. If they sell it at Ulta, I used it.  I saw minimal improvement with Murad, but this also made my skin very dry.  When I cut back on the usage to minimize the drying, the effectiveness dropped off considerably.
  2. Also used the Philosophy products for some time.  These smelled great, were easy to use, but not effective.
CVS, etc:
  1. Clean & Clear, Vichy, Proative, Neutrogena, Loreal, Clearasil - according to my receipts, I spent more than $500 at CVS last year.  Ouch.

FAVOR: If you have a routine that has been effective in clearing up obnoxious 27 year old acne, feel free to send it my way.  I typically try a new routine for at least 4 weeks before giving up, and am willing to try anything from holistic to Ulta to slapping lemon slices on my face.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Long Overdue: Memorial Day 2012

Long Overdue: The heading for posts I should have posted a long time ago, but either forgot to write, never downloaded photos, or just ran out of time. There will be several of these to come in the next few weeks.

Can someone please remind me what we did at holiday gatherings before I had an adorable god-daughter?

Most entertaining moment of the day is tied in my completely biased mind.  Moment 1 is Autumn using the corn-hole boards as a sliding board for about an hour.  Only problem here is that we couldn't play corn-hole while she did so.
Moment 2 is Autumn walking around all over the deck saying "hi" to everyone, and mostly making it her job to eat as many Tostitos and salsa as possible.

Thanks little girl and your pigtails for being so much fun!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I am a Terrible Shopper

I think my mom missed the boat on the shopping gene, and then passed that lack of shopping enthusiasm on to me.  I do not necessarily hate shopping, but if I have 3 hours, you will find me curled up reading, never shopping.  I have a difficult enough time committing to a shirt when I can try it on and be sure it fits, so forget about any chance of shopping online.  Or, (this gets even worse) - I will go to the store, try on the shirt, and then not buy it because I can't commit to a $42 shirt from Banana.  So I'll come home, stalk the shirt for 6 weeks and then it'll go on sale.  And I'll be like, "oh, it's only $37 now, I should totally buy it".  And when I go to buy it, they'll only have it in XXXL. Fail.

I've had the same damn commitment problem with purchasing a piece of jewelry.  With the exception of a watch, and some super high quality (sarcasm) pieces from Clarie's, I've never bought myself jewelry.  Why would I, that is what grandmas and husbands are for! But, when my maternal grandmother passed away last year, she left some high quality but not our style jewelry behind.  Rather than keeping jewelry that wasn't going to be worn, we each kept one sentimental piece.  I chose/was given her wedding band by my grandfather, so that is my "aww Grammy" piece.  We then trucked the stock to a local jeweler and exchanged the quality gold for cash.  Now is where we get to the recent shopping issue: I had cash money to spend on a nice piece of jewelry for myself and couldn't commit (notice a theme here?)

Studs; Hoops; Necklace

Finally, yesterday, I committed.  I have been drooling over this pair of earrings from Blue Nile for 4 months now.  They weren't going to be put on clearance, and I hadn't found a store with anything I liked more for a better price.  So, they are on there way and should be here tomorrow.  I can't wait! I am excited to have a little bling to remember my Grammy by, and hope that I love them as much in person as I do online!
BlueNile - Grande Love Knot in White Gold
Fingers Crossed, and Drive Fast please Mr. Fed-Ex!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Long Overdue: October Snow Storm & Surprise Birthday Party

Long Overdue: The heading for posts I should have posted a long time ago, but either forgot to write, never downloaded photos, or just ran out of time. There will be several of these to come in the next few weeks.

Denny is Kevin's dad, and his birthday is in November.  This past year, we decided to throw him a surprise 60th birthday party to celebrate.  Thinking November was a little later and might tempt bad weather, we decided on the last weekend in October. Well, if we had only known that Saturday would be the only accumulating snow we would get all year, I assure you, we would have rescheduled.  But - invitations had been sent, the pig (yes, I said pig), had been delivered, and SIL and I had spent countless hours baking, cooking, formatting, and shopping.
We roasted a pig all day on a giant spit delivered via a very nice man.  He probably thought we were crazy roasting a pig when it was supposed to snow, but hello - have you met us?! I should probably mention that BIL and Kev were most involved in the actual roasting, and the ladies were just there to do everything else.

The games part of the invitation went a bit out the window with the addition of 8 inches of snow, but much later in the evening there was a rowdy version of "Minute to Win It"!

Specifics: we had around a 50lb pig, and we invited about 50 people.  We also had a large assortment of side dishes, including the following overly large list:

Doing our best to maximize all counter/table space with the addition of your traditional picnic supplies (plates, napkins, foil pans, chafing dishes, buckets, pots, cups, and the like)

  • Bacon wrapped pineapple
  • Creole deviled eggs
  • Drunken dogs
  • Sweet/sour meatballs
  • Chips with salsa/guacamole
  • Peanuts
Main Feature
  • Grilled chicken
  • Pork
  • Potato Soup Bar
  • Green & red onions, bacon, various cheeses, broccoli, others?
  • Potato salad
  • Calico beans
  • Broccoli salad
  • Mac & cheese
  • Baked apples
Miscellaneous (sides, etc.)
  • Traditional cole slaw
  • Fancy cole slaw (red cabbage/carrot/pecan)
  • Pickels
  • Jalapeno
  • Onions
  • Various homemade barbecue sauces
  • Rolls
  • Cake in a Jar
It was a once in a lifetime type of party, or with the addition of the snow, I hope a once in a lifetime event.  I guess we'll see what happens the next time someone turns 60!