Back to The Books Giveaway

Okay I have never done a giveaway before but I have a couple of fun books up for grabs! It's easy to win one! (if you live in the US) This giveaway is hosted by Kathy at I am a Reader, Not a Writer. After you have entered here, you can go to ANY of the other participants below and enter at their sites for many great book prizes! Enjoy!

Here they are:

If you want either or both of these books, you can enter in a few ways. 

One entry: In the comments below, tell me which book you would like (or both!) 

For additional entries you can: 
(1 entry) Follow me on GFC (and leave a comment below)
(1 entry) Follow me on FB (and leave a comment below)
(1 entry) Go to my Bookshelf and tell me which book I've read that you've liked! 

PLEASE make sure that you have your email enabled, or leave it in the comments so I can get a hold of you if you win! The winner will be drawn using random.org on September 8th!
That's it. Now get hopping!


The Control Freak Within Me

Today I wrote a really nice 600 word memoir for this assignment. And then I chickened out. It was too personal. I couldn't bare myself on the air. I couldn't do it. I can tell you about stuff like what I am eating, wearing, photographing, reading or where I am sweating, but personal stuff? Yikes.

I have always been like that, a very private person. I don't like to tell people what I am doing, where I am going, who I am doing it with or how I am paying for it. I don't know why. I guess it is a control thing. I like to be the one who decides WHEN to dole out that info. Or IF. I don't want to have that choice taken away from me. I am possessive of my thoughts, my things and my actions.

Which is very hard, as the work I do at my job gets handed from person to person to person. Many eyes see it, many hands touch it. I get critiqued and told how to do X and when to do Y. Everybody's nose is in my business. An unlike my personal life, I can't very well tell them to back off. On one hand, it's not as if the work is "mine" and so I am not as possessive of it as I am of my private things. On the other hand, it gets annoying sometimes when the boss of your boss's boss asks you why you did something the way you did. Even more annoying is that the answer is probably that your boss or their boss told you to do it that way!

So in this job, I have to take a step back and breathe and think, "This is not MINE". It is the company's. It will probably be revised again and again by somebody else. It will probably be fact checked by somebody else. The project will probably be closed out by somebody else. I don't need to hoard it.

But it is still hard. I want to have some control. And I don't.

And for some reason, this week, that fact is really getting to me.

Have you ever had one of those weeks? Have you felt frustrated at work? Have you ever been a control freak?

Disclaimer: If any of my coworkers are reading this, don't worry. You can make me feel better by sending a 5 gallon tub of Dryers chocolate chip ice cream to me via FedEx.


The Story Behind the Swap

It all started when Lucy asked for recommendations for a good summer (i.e. quick, fluffy) read. She specifically mentioned that she DID NOT want anything that would make her cry. You guys all know Lucy right? She's a teacher who loves to read, with a super sweet husband who does stuff like buy flowers for no reason and two cutie kids who sometimes chew things.

Have any of you read Marian Keyes? She's Irish and she used to be an alcoholic and she does a lot of stuff with charities such as To Russia With Love. Anyway, when she is not writing non-fiction about this stuff, she writes romantic fiction, i.e. Quick Fluffy Reads. So I suggested Lucy try reading one of her stories.

A few days later, on Kim's blog, Lucy mentioned that "someone" had suggested she read a "certain author" and the book she picked on that person's recommendation was...you guessed it...SAD. And it made her cry! Which is exactly what she didn't want.

So of course, I knew that "someone" was me, so I emailed her, begging forgiveness. She of course made me beg for a while, but finally gave in. And then, I offered to send her some books to make up for it. She, being very gracious, accepted and offered to send some back.

So, the book swap was finalized.

Today, I got my books! Thanks Lucy! Sorry that the author I recommended when you specifically asked for no sad books was sad! I'm excited to read them, as they are perfectly fluffy reads and will go by fast and be great for a day of mindless reading, which is just what I NEED right now!

I wonder, do you think she snuck in some sad ones just to get back at me?

If anyone wants them, I would be happy to send them on once I am done with them. I am trying not to accumulate too much stuff. (no more book hoarding!)

If you want to find out more about what I am reading, go to my Bookshelf.
For Book Reviews, go HERE.

What are you reading right now? What is your favorite book of all time? I am always looking for recommendations!


Hop Stoopid

If you like IPAs and you haven't tried Lagunita's Hop Stoopid, you need to get on it. It comes in a handy 22 oz bottle that will remind you of your High School years. I mean college. Yeah. I meant college. If you don't like IPAs, Lagunitas has a bunch of other varieties that are good as well. However, if you don't like IPA, Kim, who hosts this hop, may not like you anymore. It's your choice. This beer is from California, naturally. I went to their beer fest last year and got to try some good ones! I suggest you head to your local grocer, grab a Hop Stoopid and then get comfortable while you Look What I Did Last Week.

See - Everyone likes Hops Stoopid!

This week, I signed up for a race! 
It's September 18th. 
That means I have less than a month to train. Eeek.
By the way, if you have never done a race, you should try it. 
It is way more fun than "normal running". There is something addicting about it. 
I train just so I can run these races.
I am training with Hal. He says: 

Is that like a "New York" State of mind Hal? 

 As you saw earlier this week, now that I am training, I can eat this from time to time. 

This week has been a strange weather week. I am enjoying the clouds. 

Remember when I asked how to fix my iPod, which has been wigging out from the humidity (I think)? I was told to put it in rice.  So I tried it. I will try anything. I need my iPod.

It did help a little. I am still having issues, but they ARE fewer and farther between. 
I am still going to use that rice. 

I tried to find a new running path, but why the heck are there no sidewalks in these places?!!

So I went to the tried and true. Below is my pre-run kit. 
Notice the bug spray. There are chiggers here. If you don't know what a chigger is, consider yourself VERY, VERY lucky. I got a bite over a month ago and it STILL ITCHES. 
Click here if you want to be grossed out.

It was cooler and LESS HUMID! Finally.

 After my run, I bought myself a little gift. 
Ahhhh. Sweet yummy goodness. 
 I couldn't stop guzzling it long enough to take a photo, so this is the only picture I got. 

I did get a light one though, and apparently it paid off. 
I have to cinch my belt two notches tighter!

I went grocery shopping. The blueberries are still fresh! 
I am taking advantage while I can!
Oh and I bought a whole watermelon. I live alone.

I DID eat the entire thing by myself. In less than a week, mind you. 

I also bought lemons, as I have been on an iced tea kick and love a nice cold tea with lemon. 

 I made another pot of chili. Yup, it's an old standby. I usually make about 10+ servings and then freeze 2/3 of it (in two separate containers) so I can just pull one out at a later date. 

Okay, you may not remember this barn. I have taken a picture of it before. Maybe a month or so ago. You can see that photo HERE. What a difference, right? It's kind of fun to take photos of the same things and see how they progress over time.

How was your week? Have you ever gotten a chigger bite? 
Have you ever run a race? 
Do you know how to fix my iPod?

This post is part of these hops: 



Where I've Lived

You have already seen my Where I Live series. You may or may not know that I travel a lot for work and so therefore have lived in some interesting places. I lived in New Orleans on and off for about 5 years. It is a great city and I can't wait to go back there someday. (You can see more photos of New Orleans on Photography Blog )

The theme today is BLUE, since I am hoping for the quick return of blue skies for my folks back East!  Fill up your bathtubs, buy batteries and don't forget to get money out of the ATM before the power goes out!

Earhart Ave

City Park

St Bernard Parish

Jackson Square

St Louis Cemetery

Rusty Pipes

Where are some of the most interesting places you have lived? Do you live in the path of Irene? Do you have plenty of candles?


Deep Thoughts

One would think that when you are on a long run, you would have plenty of time to hash out some very important things, make some important life decisions and figure out all the problems in your life. In my case, one would be wrong. Here are, in chronological order, some of the things that go through my head on a run. This run was 9 miles long.

Mile 0.1: This isn't too bad. Thank goodness it's not too hot.

Mile 0.12: I have to pee.

Mile 0.4: (I stop at the bathroom. Nothing comes out.) Hm, guess I was just nervous.

Mile 0.5: My left knee hurts. Maybe I should stop.

Mile 0.7: Man, my knee is really hurting. Maybe I will do my long run tomorrow.

Mile 0.8: Should I stop? I will just run one more mile and then if my knee is still hurting, I will stop.

Mile 0.9: I really want to stop.

Mile 1.0: I'm thirsty.

Mile 1.5: Man, I've only gone a mile and a half? Crap. I gotta stop looking at my Garmin.

Mile 2.0: Everyone on this path sure is happy and smiley today.

Smile for me babe. 
Whatchu looking at?
I wanna see your grill.
You wanna see my what?
Yuh grill, Yuh, Yuh, yuh grill.

Mile 2.5: Well it is a nice day. Hello bikers! Hello joggers! Hello man wearing street clothes and smoking a cigarette on the running path at 7 am on a Sunday! Wait, what?

Mile 2.7: Darn it. I've only gone 2.7 miles? Maybe my Garmin is broken.

Mile 3.0: I need a wrist sweat band. Is that like totally 80s? Do people still wear those? Will I look like Jane Fonda if I have one? Do I have to wear a thong leotard and listen to Michael Jackson if I have one? Maybe I should feather my bangs too. Wow, this could be a lot of extra work just to get the sweat out of my eyes.

Mile 3.5: Am I to the turn around point yet? This run is taking forever. I gotta stop looking at my Garmin.

Mile 4.0: I'm hot. I should have started running earlier in the day.

Well woman the way the time cold I wanna be keepin' you warm
I got the right temperature to shelter you from the storm

Oh lord, girl I got the right tactics to turn you on...
And girl I, wanna be the poppa, you can be the mom.
Oh oh. 

Mile 4.5: Turning around. Yay! Dang, I'm thirsty.

Mile 5.0: What the heck kind of shorts is that girl wearing? Helloooo butt cheeks! And a sports bra! What is this, a beauty pageant? Here she comes, Miss America!!

Mile 6.0: Hey only 3 miles left. Thank goodness I have my Garmin.

Mile 6.5: My right knee hurts now. 

Mile 7.0: Oh look, a doggie!

Who let the dogs out!! 
Woof, woof, woof, woof, woof. 

Mile 7.5: I am so tired. I think I just hit the wall. I could take a nap right here. 

Mile 8.0: Oh here come three girls running towards me taking up the whole path. One of them will get out of the way so I can pass. Maybe they will do it right before I get there. I know they see me. Huh. They are not moving. Um. Hello ladies? No?

Mile 8.1: Bitches! I can't believe they didn't move! Happy Sunday to you too ladies!

I do know one thing though,
Bitches they come and go, 
Saturday through Sunday, Monday
Monday through Sunday yo.

Mile 8.2: My knee hurts, I am so tired and I need to pee. And I have sweat in my eye.

Mile 8.5: Alllllmossssst thereeeerrrrre.

Mile 8.9: Pant, pant.

Mile 9.0: -------- So hot. So thirsty.

Mile 9.001: Hm. That wasn't so bad! 

So, as you can see, running is not really making me any smarter. But I am improving my knowledge of rap music, my meteorology skills, my fashion sense and my attitude.

Music credit: (1) Nelly (2) Sean Paul (3) Baha Men (4) Eminem 

What do you think about when you are running or working out? Are you solving world problems or do you think about silly things like I do? Have you ever worn a sweat band?  

In other news, I signed up for a race: 

City of Roses Half  -- Cape Girardeau, MO
September 18, 2011

You can read more about the other races I've done HERE
Also on THIS PAGE I made a list of  good places to run in the cities I've run  in. 
Stop by and check it out and comment with your favorite place to run in your city! Or any city!

This is part of Jill's:
Fitness Friday Blog Hop

Also, if you are new here, make sure to check out some of these other running posts:
Running with Music (and other ways to get faster)
Running with Heat and Fatigue
Running and Hills


Planning, Anger, Onions, and Randoms

You may already know this, but last year, after working 60 hours plus per week for many, many months, I had finally saved up enough to do my favorite thing in the world (no pun intended) -- Travel! 

This time the trip was going to be Around the World. Now, I am a planner and I usually like planning, but have you ever tried to plan a multi-month trip?

Want to hear more about this? Please go over HERE (<---- link) where I have a post up about trying to plan this trip! 

Also for where I went on this trip and others, go HERE
A few of my favorite posts this week from other bloggers: 
Liz, who has lost many lbs through running, talked about running a 30k!
Kate talked about saving money by making lunch.
Cailen is giving away a free cookbook!

This is the book I am currently reading:

click photo to go to Amazon
Nice huh? Actually, it's interesting, in a good way.
It's about women and how they cope with anger in all different situations.
If you want it, I will send it to you when I am done. For real.

ALSO on the same line, I got an Amazon Gift Card and need to know -- what book do I absolutely HAVE to buy next!? Recommendations are in order!

To see more of what I am reading you can check out my BOOKSHELF or friend me on GOODREADS

Okay, I know this is kind of a strange segue, but next up I am going to tell you....

How to cut an onion

You heard me right. I know, we have all cut an onion before. Many of them probably.
And we all Know How To Cut an Onion Already!
But wait! I learned this great way to cut an onion and since then, I am a fired up onion chopper. I am like the bass-o-matic. I can chop an onion in two seconds flat! Okay, maybe not that fast. But pretty fast.

First, cut the onion in half, vertically.

Now, put it flat side down and with what used to be the top of the onion facing away from you, slice the onion like this. 

The key is: Do Not cut it all the way to the end. I repeat: Do Not cut it all the way to the end. Only cut it about 7/8 of the way to the end.

Make the cuts about 1/4 or 1/2 of an inch apart, depending on how small you want your dice. Keep leaving a little bit intact on the end.

It should look like this when you are done.

From the back. See the cuts. They don't go all the way.

Then start slicing it perpendicular to your original cuts.

Like this: 

Keep going until you get to the end. Once you get to the uncut part in the back, I lay the little bit that is left down on it's side and finish it off. BUT be careful. There is now a lot more finger near the knife than there is onion.

If you are looking for recipes, you can go HERE for more.

And now: How to cut your finger.
While trying to take photos and do a tutorial and cut an onion all at the same time, put your finger right under the knife. Duh.

Tip: When cutting the onion, be sure to keep your finger out of the way of the very sharp knife.
Do as I say, not as I do.

Do you have any tips about getting food prep done faster? 
What were your favorite blog posts from the last week?
What book should I buy with my gift card?


Ten Questions

These originally came from Caitlin but then I stole them from Lisa, since today is a very busy day and a Q&A is a lot easier than trying to make my brain work on a real post!

What are you really good at?  What are you really bad at?

I am good at planning things. I am very organized (read: anal). I am good at spreadsheets. I am trying to be good at photography. I am good at tying a cherry stem in a knot with my tongue and remembering the words to songs. I am good at remembering birthdays and phone numbers and random things like that.

I am really bad at changing plans, especially at the last minute. I am bad at making plans at the last minute (that is essentially changing plans). I am bad at letting go of control. I am bad at accepting other’s faults. I am not patient. I am very hard on myself and other people. I hold a grudge.

Have you ever been in a car accident?  What happened?

In 1999 in Sacramento I was driving home from work and a lady turned left across my lane and right into my driver’s side bumper. I was not hurt. My passenger was not hurt. My car was barely hurt. It was not really a big deal except that I was on my way to a party and it made me late.

Where did you attend college?

Who said I went to college? Just kidding. I first went to college at a JC when I was in HS, to get college credit before I even went to college. You would think this would have given me a jump start and SHORTENED my college experience. You would be wrong. 

Once out of HS, I started college at CSU, Sacramento. I also went to the local JC to get some of the general requirements out of the way… Again, why was my experience not shortened? I took a year off to figure out my life and then I transferred to SFSU (San Francisco), which I think probably added a year, since all the classes did not transfer over. I am not sure why. I also went to the local JC while I was there! So then, about 17 years later, I graduated.

Describe your morning routine today

6:00 alarm goes off

6:00:01 think about getting up to go running, instead, I hit snooze

6:09 get up, make coffee

6:10– 6:17 Pee, put on pants, put hair in ponytail. Ready to go!

6:18 start work

6:19 – 8:29 work, drink coffee, make spreadsheets

8:30 eat breakfast (I usually get by on coffee for the first couple of hours)

9:00 meeting with client

10:45 take a much needed 10 minute break and a quick look at Reader

Have you ever snooped through someone else's things?  Did you find anything interesting?

No. I am a very private person and I would hate it if someone snooped through my things, so I give them the same privacy.

What do you think happens when you die?

I am not sure. I think…nothing. Maybe it’s like falling asleep but you don’t dream and you don’t wake up.  Honestly, I don’t really contemplate it.

Are you superstitious?

No.  But I do knock on wood.

Do people think you are younger or older than you actually are?

Younger. Not only do I have a young face, but I usually wear jeans and sneakers. However, even when I get dressed up, I still get thought of as younger. Also I work with a lot of older guys (read: 50s, 60s, 70s!) and so they really think I am younger.

How did your parent's relationship influence you?

My parents were very loving to each other. I mean, they had fights, who doesn’t but I always remember them kissing and hugging (and me going “EWWW”!) and being very loving to each other. They were also both very hard working, not only in life, but in their relationship. I saw that even when they fought, or even when they had differences, they still made a point to work it out! I would like to say this is how I am, but I am still working on it. However, they have led by giving a good example.  

What were the three happiest moments of your life?

1.      I witnessed a friend of mine slip on a rock and go sliding down the side of a sheer rock cliff and go flying over the edge and I thought he was dead. This was not the end of this saga by far, but learning a couple seconds later that he was still alive was the best feeling ever.

2.      In the same vein, my brother almost drowned under a waterfall when he was a kid but I went under the water and grabbed him by the arm (or hair, I couldn’t quite tell, I was so panicked) and pulled him out and dragged him to shore and I was so scared (I was probably about 15 at the time) but SO HAPPY that he was alive.

3.      Wow, so since the other two are both about near death experiences…um…I am going to leave you with a happier but generic answer and say that I am happiest when planning my next trip or when traveling!

What was the happiest moment of your life? Or any other answer to any of these questions? 


The Blacker the Berry, The Sweeter the Juice

I went home for a few days and lucky me, the blackberries were ripe. So I decided to make what is one of the easiest and yummiest dishes to make in the summer, cobbler. Blackberries and cobbler are one of those things that really make me think of summer. My mom calls this "magic cobbler". Probably because it's super easy to make!

First, admire the nice ripe berries. Yum. 

Next, pick the berries. You will need 4-8 cups. 

Wash the berries. Nobody wants to eat those weird little hairs!

Magic Cobbler:

1 cube of butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup Bisquick
2 cups milk
4 cups fruit (this is also really good with peaches)

 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a 9 x 13 pan, melt the cube of butter. 

Mix the sugar, Bisquick and milk together. It may be a little lumpy, but that’s okay. 

Pour the batter into the buttered pan. 
Pour the blackberries (or whatever fruit you want) into the batter.
Don't worry, they will sink a little as it cooks!

Bake 35 - 45 minutes until brown. 

Serve with vanilla ice cream. 

A couple of notes: I added about a half a cup of oatmeal to mine, which gave it a bit more robustness. I also added about 6 cups of fruit, which didn't make it too soggy or too tart. 


Do you have a favorite summer recipe to share?