Starting anew.

Well, well, well. I guess I can only stay away from my beloved Beanstalk for so long.  I’m sitting here on my couch, morning coffee in hand, and I have a sudden urge to post on the ol’ blog. Old habits die hard.

So here I am, posting on the ol’ blog with not much to say. Or, too much to say. There have been so many things that have happened since my last post that I vote we just start anew. I don’t have the energy [or the memory] to update you guys on everything that has happened since February. My birthday, Lu’s birthday, summer holidays, summer vacations [New Hampshire, Denver, Iowa City]. I got to see family, see old friends and make new friends. Life is good, isn’t it?

Starting anew on the blog right now feels appropriate.. a part of me will always consider September the beginning. Even though my world doesn’t change in September, it use to change in September. I always loved the first day of school. The kiddos in Chicago go back to school today. Wishing them a happy & successful year.

Alright, this dinky little post is all I have for now. I’ll be back with my random musings on a more regular basis. Off to yoga. Bye.

 

photo(4)

flatiron hike in boulder,co

photo(4)

cubs game, the walker bros

photo(4)

beautiful days in chicago.

photo(4)

current situation:this papaya as good as the papaya in mexico. can’t get enough.

xo,lw

Advertisements

two years of [somewhat] blogging

Happy two year anniversary to the BEANSTALK! I wrote my very first blog post just over two years ago. Not a whole lot has changed since those days in early 2012. In fact, it sort of feels like just yesterday. One of the things I love about blogging is going back through old posts and remembering the good times. It’s like a journal of happy life moments.

Well, since my faithful readers probably want a little more meat to this post than a simple “happy anniversary to me,” I’m going to share a couple of beauty products I am obsessing over right now. Most of my life I have been a drug-store makeup junkie. I never purchased high quality face care but instead went for the old Cetaphil regimen that every dermatologist seems to recommend. I used Cetaphil face wash and moisturizer forever. I know a lot of people hate on Cetaphil but it worked for me. However, these days I’m growing more aware of how important it is to take care of your skin in order to age gracefully. Now I’m not going to claim that I have wrinkles or age spots or anything crazy like that. With that said, I’m not getting any younger and it’s never too early to take good care of yourself. I recently invested in some fancy face products that I loooooove. Honestly, I love them.

First up: Glamglow Youthmud. Gah this stuff. This stuff seriously works for me. After one use my face felt smoother and softer. I kid you not. It also helped reduce acne. I had a pimple (*gasp* i get pimples?!) pop-up overnight at work. I came home, used the mask, and the pimple was noticeably smaller. I spot treated the pimple the following day, and it was basically gone. I’m not exaggerating. This is good stuff… and at $69 it should be. But I actually bought mine on Amazon for $39. The internets told me that Jennifer Aniston uses this product. I wanna look like Jennifer Aniston. So does Lu.

unnamed

Next up: Glamglow Thirstymud. Uh oh. Have I joined the Glamglow cult following? I put this thirstymud on after I wash the mask off before I go to bed. It’s a deep hydration that smells so natural and heavenly not like those artificial fragrances. My face looks dewy when I wake-up in the morning and yes, that’s a good thing. I gather that this product is fairly new so I couldn’t find it on the cheap like I did the youthmud. It just takes a little dab for the whole face and I’m only using it twice a week, so I imagine this will last for months.

unnamed

Lastly: Coconut oil. I have definitely hopped on the coconut oil is magical oil bandwagon. It is the coolest thing… purchased in solid form, the substance turns to oil when it touches the body. I use it as moisturizer after I shower. I also use it as a deep conditioner on my hair. I’ll put a generous amount on my locks and let it sit for a few hours before I plan on washing my hair. I actually found an article in the Journal of Cosmetic Science(1) that reported a study about oils on the hair follicle. Coconut oil is the best oil for hair because “coconut oil, being a triglyceride of lauric acid (principal fatty acid), has a high affinity for hair proteins and, because of its low molecular weight and straight linear chain, is able to penetrate inside the hair shaft,” (Rele & Mohile, 2003). In other words, it can actually get in your hairs and hydrate. Wow. Let’s also not forget that coconut smells amazing and every time I use it I close my eyes and pretend I’m in the tropics. Mmmmm. If you do buy yourself some coconut oil definitely get organic virgin, unrefined. It’s the most natural stuff.

unnamed

There you have my favorite beauty products right now. Winter months = dry months. I’m all about moisturizing. What products are you guys in to?

xo, lw

1) Rele, AS., and Mohile, RB. “Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage.” J Cosmet Sci. 54.2 (2003): 175-92. PubMed PMID: 12715094. 5 Feb. 2014.

…la boda cuernavaca…

Let’s escape to the City of Eternal Spring. La ciudad de la eterna primivera.

Let’s escape this unrelenting frigid snowy situation in Chicago for the warm air and blue skies of the Sierra de Chichinautzin mountains.

Let’s go. Let’s go on a quick three and a half hour plane ride that takes us far away from the February weather we are suffering through. It’s basically a whole different world, for more reasons than one.

Who’s in?

As we embark on our journey to Cuernavaca, we touch down at Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City. We go to pick up our checked bag. Oh wait.. where is it? I’m seeing dozens of large black suitcases on that conveyor belt but not ours. At least I have some basic toiletries and other things to keep me somewhat presentable. Worse things could happen. Worse things do happen…

After getting the runaround about our suitcase, we end up with an extra $100 dollars in our pocket and told our bag will arrive at our hotel the next day. I’ll take it.

Enter Senor Johnnie Walker, Lu’s awesome cousin. He lives in Mexico City and kindly agrees to pick us up from the airport. The drive from Mexico City to Cuernavaca (a drive that I’ve done only one other time) takes us through the bustling metropolis of Mexico and onto a curvy mountainside road that deposits us in this beautiful City of Eternal Spring. I’m sure everybody is well aware of the negative publicity Mexico gets for its crime. Having been to Mexico three times in the past two years, I have always felt far removed from any sort of violence. Although it is somewhat alarming that each policeman carries a machine gun strapped to his chest. Hashtag Yikes. Hashtag Scary.

Now we’ve only just begun our ride through the city. Mexico City has just shy of 9 million people and a surrounding urban population of 21 million. It’s dense, and it’s traffic is horrendous. Of course we leave the airport in the evening so getting stuck in that traffic is inevitable. At least I’m in good company. Remember when I mentioned that worse things do happen? This is the part where the worst happens. We’re stopped at a stoplight probably talking about something silly. Laughing. Windows cracked for a fresh evening breeze. The sun has already set. THUNK. Two men on a motorcycle accost the driver’s side, stick a gun in the window, and say in fast Spanish “Dame tu telefono! Tu telefono! Tu cartera!” Yep. That happened. We were robbed at gunpoint, and it was officially the scariest moment of my life. Johnnie handled the situation. He handed over his iPhone, which was already on display so there was no getting out of that one. He handed over some sunglasses. I sat in the backseat absolutely frozen scared. You never know how you’re going to act in these situations, and my act was inaction. If you had a snapshot of my face, I was probably holding my breath with my jaw dropped and eyes wide open. It didn’t even really occur to me to reach into my purse and handover my goods, which was quite dumb. I was too busy thinking “is this real life? Is this actually happening?” They told Johnnie to turn off the car. They told us to give them more. While I remained paralyzed, Johnnie and Lu were acting their hearts out. They were doing the universal “I don’t have anything else” sign where they pat their pockets and shrug. Johnnie told them we were visiting and didn’t have anything. Then by the grace of God, the light turned green and they sped off leaving us dumbfounded. We were all so shaken up but also very relieved that they left us alone without taking everything and most importantly without hurting us. Are you still in for our trip to Cuernavaca? I calmed my nerves with some simple math. The probability of that happening to us again had to be very low. Besides, having lived in Mexico his whole life that sort of situation has never happened to Johnnie before so it is a rare occurrence. Let’s not forget that the beans live in one of the most violent cities in America. Chicago is known for its gang-related violence and unfortunately large number of murders. It’s a sad truth that violence is everywhere but you have to keep on living. Onward, we go.

We arrive in Cuernavaca. It’s late, and we’re hungry. The answer to our hunger in Mexico is always street tacos. We love us some tacos. Two things that always taste better in Mexico are tacos and fruit. Always. We meet up with the bride-to-be (Lu’s cousin, Johnnie’s sister) and her handsome groom to bask in the taco goodness. Vacation has begun.

Let’s fast forward. Wedding day has arrived. Estefania and her mom planned one of the most stunning weddings. As expected, the weather was nothing short of perfect. There was not a cloud in the sky. Flowers blooming in a lovely garden. Pink and white were the predominant colors. Let’s let some pictures do the talking.

photo 4 copy

photo 5(2)

photo 1 copy

photo 4(1)

photo 1(3)

After the beautiful ceremony came cocktail hour. Sunshine + family + margaritas = happiness.

photo(2)

photo 2(3)

photo 1

photo 5

photo(1)

After cocktail hour came a delicious seated dinner followed by hours of dancing. You want to know a good way to make this American gal feel dumb? Throw me into a pool of beautiful Latinos salsa dancing in their gorgeous dresses with 4 inch heels on like it ain’t no thang. Um, yeah. Don’t get me wrong, I still got out there to bust my best moves but folks probably thought I had two left feet. At least my primary dancing partner (hi, big frijol) has a set of those Latin hips himself so my guess is everybody was looking at him and not me anyway. Seriously, if you don’t know then now you know. The big frijol is an amazing dancer. Swoon.

Now let’s talk more about how gorgeous the people were. Mexicans sure do look pretty. The ladies, and I’m talking both the bridal party and guests included, were dressed in beautiful, bright colors with hair and make-up to the nines. It was an exceptionally good looking wedding.

One of the cool things about the wedding was that the food kept on coming. After dinner, we indulged in esquites. Followed by chilaquiles, pozole, and of course there were some tacos shortly after midnight to round out the party. It was an awesome celebration in honor of the lovely couple who appeared so happy and so in love. The whole event was heartwarming and magical. Who doesn’t love love?

Now I’m back in the windy city. It’s calm before yet another winter storm moves in tonight.  Make today a good day. xo, lw.

PS: how beautiful is our abuelita?

photo 2photo(1)photo 1(2)

the beanstalk lives

Did you think I fell off the face of the earth or something? I’m not going to lie,  I even thought myself that perhaps the beanstalk had seen its final days. I mean I love my little space of the internet… The little beanstalk space where I can ramble on about basically nothing… But there are times when my creative juices run dry and this time that dry spell lasted for months. Yes, I was still reading my favorite blogs daily but I was feeling uninspired when it came to my own writing.

Last week I found some inspiration in an odd place. I came across a fabulous photography series called “Follow Me To…”. Murad Osmann, a Russian photographer/videographer travels the world with his gorgeous Russian girlfriend, and they snap pictures at iconic and exotic locations across the globe. Each picture is of the lady’s backside with her arm extended behind, tugging Osman forward. These pictures are just so darn cute. Osmann captures these tender moments beautifully. You can find the pictures on his Instagram account, here. I’m anxiously awaiting the next post, which will come from the French Alps (there was a lil foreshadow on the muse’s instagram). These pics make me want to live, love, travel and be present. They also reminded me one of the purposes of my blog; to record my journey. While my journey may not be as international as theirs, I do some fun things every now & then. I also do a lot of boring things. Oh well.

Take the inspiration I got from those pictures, throw on a hefty dose of resolution (the new year variety) and here we are. I’m back.

There is way too much that has happened since my last post to do a thorough update but I’d like to hit a few highlights.

Thanksgiving in Boston with one of our favorite couples.

photo 2-2

An anniversary weekend at a bed & breakfast in Wisconsin.

photo 1-1

A new apartment and some new furniture.

photo 3

Christmas and New Years in Chicago with both my family and Lu’s family. (Unfortunately I didn’t take pics of my fam. What?)

photo 2-1

photo-127

My Chicago bestie moved back from NYC!

photo 1

And here there was a lowlight over the past couple of months: the Polar Vortex. Chicago set a record low of -16 with a windchill in the -30s.
That happened.

I hope this post finds all of you happy and enjoying these days. 2014 is a good year for you to choose happiness and to make yourself better.
Life is too short to do otherwise. Adios for now…

xo,lw

soup du jour

I have been seriously obsessed with soup this fall. I already shared this tomato soup recipe with you all a couple of weeks ago.  That tomato soup used to have my heart. It was the soup to end all soups…

…Until I met butternut squash, that is. And the little booger stole my heart at first taste. I am obsessed. I’ve made it multiple times. In fact, I have some in the fridge waiting to be eaten after I post this. I originally had it at my mom’s house (thanks, mom). Then it became my mission to make this soup and spread the word that this is now the soup to end all soups. You’re welcome.

I do make a couple revisions to the aforementioned recipe:

-Add 8 baby carrots to the apple/onion sautee
-Use 2 cups water instead of 2 1/2 cups water (we like our soups thick)
-Use 2% milk instead of heavy cream
-Use dried sage instead of fresh (I have it on hand)

photo 2-1

photo 1

Ok, are veggies not your thing? Do you need some meat in your life? I have a pretty darn good beef & sausage chili recipe for you… One that the big frijol named a top contender. Again, thanks to my mom for the recipe. However, I used my creative license to make some changes to the recipe as follows:

Beef & Sausage Chili

1 lb ground beef
3/4 lb ground sausage
1 small yellow onion
1 green pepper
1 1/2 (each can 28 oz) cans tomatoes with liquid. I realize 1 1/2 is obnoxious but that’s what I do. Use the whole two if you want.
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
1 (15.5oz dark red kidney beans)
3 tablespoons chili powder (to taste – I usually add more)
2 teaspoons cayenne
salt and pepper (to taste)

[NOTE on canned foods. Many companies use a canning process that adds BPA to the liner. Yes, that means you end up ingesting BPA, which is bad for your body. I doubt this is news to you but I suggest you find a company that does not use BPA in the can liner. I buy Eden Organic cans found at Whole Foods.]

Cook beef and sausage. Remove from pan to dry on paper towel.

Add chopped onion and green pepper to the pan and saute (saute in the grease of the meat pan. Nice & healthy)

Place canned tomatoes and tomato sauce in the blender and puree. You can make it as chunky as you want but the big frijol doesn’t like pieces of tomato in his soup so I make it pretty smooth. (Note: Don’t drain tomatoes)

Put the tomato mixture in a pot with the sauteed onion/green pepper, kidney beans (don’t drain), cooked meat, and seasonings. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about an hour.  Serve with cheese on top, avocado, whatever floats your boat.

photo-125 copy

Ok, so you want something with meat but not quite ready to commit to clogging some arteries with the ground beef and sausage? You could try this tortilla soup recipe with shredded chicken on top. I made this for the bean family last night, and it went over with a thumbs-up. You should know that this is a brothy recipe. Also, I used New Mexico chiles instead of guajillo chiles. Then I threw in one small arbol for a little heat. It definitely came out spicy but yummm.

photo-125

Any other soup lovers out there? Anyone have any recipes to share? If you end up making some of these soups definitely let me know which one is your favorite. I hope you guys are making today a good one. I’m off to enjoy me some butternut squash love in a bowl.

xo, lw

PS: If you’re not watching the show Scandal, you should start. So good.

marathon recap.

Sunday, October 13. What a day.

It was 5:30 in the morning, and my alarm starts chirping. Hello, darkness. There was not even a single ray of sun peaking over the horizon. I felt quite groggy especially considering nerves and excitement kept me from getting a solid, quality eight-hour sleep. Despite the sleepiness, I sprang into action… Brew coffee. Make oatmeal. Stretch it out. I executed my morning plan. It was marathon day. And I was all excited.

I had my entire outfit laid out, everything down to my hair-tie. Are you a runner? Are you a lady? If so, you need to get this shirt immediately. As in, you’re allowed to stop reading this blog post and buy that shirt instead. I won’t take offense. It is absolutely my most favorite shirt ever. The mesh design allows the breeze to cool you down but the full-length coverage still keeps you quite warm. I realize that doesn’t even make sense… but it just works. Plus it’s super cute, snug and doesn’t chafe a wink. Of course you’re going to need something underneath. I’d recommend this Lululemon luon tank. My outfit worked like a charm. No wardrobe malfunctions for this girl.

photo-122

At 6:15, I headed to the race start with the big frijol and a bagel in hand. During my long training runs, I found that a whole wheat bagel with a smear of peanut butter works wonders an hour before the run. Carb loading ain’t no joke.

The weather was absolutely perfect; it was a chilly 50-something when we stepped outside and the sun was just beginning to rise over Lake Michigan. As we approached the start area, flocks of runners and supporters were gathering. There was energy in the air. I love race day. The excitement of race morning makes the hours and hours spent running and training worth every second. This is where the hard work pays off and the reward sets in. This is why we run.

photo-123

I had to say goodbye to my sweet husband at the entrance gate. There was heightened security this year for obvious reasons so only runners were allowed in the start corral area. See ya later, bean!

I was a good forty-five minutes early to my corral, which definitely worked to my advantage because I was in the front of the pack. Yep, the early bird gets the worm. (But wait… the early worm gets eaten. Anyway.) I was in the corral with other people running for charities so I like to think that we were an extra special group. Go us.

photo-116 copy 7

Next thing I knew, we were singing the Star Spangled Banner and the race had begun. We were off on a 26 mile journey. Ay caramba.

I love love love the beginning leg of this course. We run through The Loop for the first several miles and the crowds are spectacular. I love when the spectators give high-fives, especially the kiddos, which is one of the reasons I run curbside. Plus, running on the side makes it easier to maneuver around people going under your pace and not get trapped in the herd. I like it.

photo-122

I felt fresh right out of the gate. My Garmin told me I was going faster than I had planned but I was feeling great so I figured I might as well keep it up as long as possible. At the same time, a little voice in the back of my head was telling me not to overdo it and tire out too early. Starting too fast and pooping out is probably the most common mistake marathoners make. But like I said, I felt good so I was going to run with it (pun intended).

I saw my sweet momma just after the first mile. She took video footage of me… including the part where I reach out to touch her and knock her iphone out of her hands. I felt horrible!! She was so sweet to watch me, cheer me on and be one of my biggest fans. Thanks, mom!

The race took us through Old Town and eventually onto LaSalle Street where I saw my little bro and his girlfriend just shy of mile six. I liked their Hawkeye pom pom. It was so awesome seeing you guys!! Thanks for supporting me. At this time, I was still cruising over my planned pace and still felt great. One word: epinephrine. I guess we know that my adrenal gland works.

We continued the ascent north of the city and eventually turned around to head south at Addison Street. Mile eight marked my first fuel break. By break, I mean I kept running but ate a few of my trusty gummie bears and downed some water minus half of the cup I spilled all over my face. I’m pretty sure I’ll never be coordinated enough to drink and run simultaneously. Regardless, I continued to run through water breaks until mile eighteen. After mile eighteen, I walked through the water breaks to hydrate without spilling and rest my wheels.

Coming down Clark, I heard “Laura, Laura!” It was another one of my biggest fans, my poppa in the front row around mile nine. I was still feeling energized enough to give a huge smile and a “heey!!”! It was so nice to see him there cheering for me. Thanks, dad!

Around mile seventeen, things started to change. I was beginning to feel the burn in my quads. This was not a welcome feeling considering I had 9+ more miles to run… and so commenced an internal freak-out. A few of the thoughts that crossed my mind at that time were: “what if I don’t finish? my quads never hurt on my long training runs. will I go into rhabdo? i shouldn’t have started so fast.” Then I realized, all things considered, I wasn’t hurting that bad. Sure I was feeling the burn but this freakout was premature. Did I really think I would run this race without feeling pain? This was the point where the race turned into a mental exercise, as well as a physical one. One foot in front of the other. Just keep going and keep pushing yourself. If your body is truly shutting down, it will do just that. It will shut down, and you’ll fall to the ground. I was nowhere near that point. I think we are all stronger than we know.

However, my pace did suffer some. My last miles were slower than the first by about 30 seconds to a full minute. I realize that all “real” runners aim for negative splits. Sure in an ideal situation I’d love me some negative splits, too. But that just wasn’t in the cards for me this race day, and I didn’t really care. What I cared about was reaching my sub-four hour goal, whatever my splits may be.

I pushed on. I don’t have much to say about miles 18 through 24 (which is a good thing for you because this post is looong). It was hard. I knew it would be hard. I no longer felt great. I more felt like dying. Once I hit mile 24, I was officially on the home stretch. We were on South Michigan, and there were two miles left. This feat was doable. As mile 25 approached, the crowds were becoming more dense and the cheers were unrelenting. Honestly, the encouragement and support of complete strangers was truly breathtaking. The physical strain of the race combined with the outpouring of love from strangers caused quite an emotional response in me… I actually started to tear up. It was intense.

As we rounded the corner onto Roosevelt Road, the last .2 miles of the race, fans disappeared. Only official race personnel were allowed that close to the finish. Lining the road were Chicago Police Officers and race volunteers including RNs, MDs, and EMTs. They were ones who made this race possible. It was very special to have those people shouting the final words of encouragement as each and every runner ran those last .2 miles to a triumphant finish. It was awesome.

Right after I crossed the finish line, I saw one of my coworkers who was a volunteer RN. I got a hug and a congrats immediately upon finishing. That was super cool.

My final time: 3 hours, 43 minutes and 2 seconds. I reached my goal and then some. I have to admit, I’m proud! I’ll also admit, I am totally feeling the pain. My legs have been so crazy sore since the race. It’s actually difficult to walk normally. But boy was it worth it.

Now let’s talk about the MVP spectator, Mister Lu, the big frijol. He trekked all over the city to find his little bean among 45,000 other runners. I saw his handsome face first on State Street. I had to fight the urge to run right into his arms for a warm embrace. Instead, I gave a huge smile and a wave and knew I’d see him again down the road. He hopped on his bike and spotted me around mile twenty. I must have been in the zone because I missed him… but I did catch a glimpse of that cute man at mile twenty-two. He knew I would need some serious encouragement on the last leg of the race. Thank you so much, bean, for supporting me and spending your day chasing me. You truly are the best.

photo-119

photo-121

photo-122

After the race, I collected the swag and post-race snacks being given out. Then I plopped down on the sidewalk at Columbus and Jackson to reunite with the hub. We walked through the 27th Mile after-party for a few minutes but all I really wanted to do was go home and take a hot bath followed by a cold shower. Yes, a hot bath and not an ice bath. This has become my strange post-marathon tradition. I know, I know. Everybody and their mother says to sit in an ice bath. I just don’t like to torture myself.

The rest of Sunday was spent relaxing and eating wholesome foods to replenish my beaten down body. That night Lu and I met up with of our favorite couples, Abby & Matt, and had dinner at Mexique in West Town. I highly recommend this restaurant. I forgot to take a picture of the four of us at dinner so here is a picture of Abby and their adorable kiddos, who I had the pleasure of hanging with for several hours on Monday.

photo-124

photo-118 copy

And there you have a recap of my second marathon and a PR. I’m still feeling very sore today and walking down steps is nearly impossible but it is significantly improved from yesterday. I was going to treat myself to a massage but I decided to go shopping instead. A little retail therapy never hurts.

I’d like to take a moment to congratulate those of you who actually read this entire post. Talk about a marathon. Who knew I could have so much to say about that measly race? Thank you for the support people!

xo, lw

the eve of the marathon

It has arrived. The Chicago marathon is upon us. Twenty-four hours from now it’ll all be a memory… and let’s hope it is a good one.

The city is abuzz with people from all over the world who come for one measly race. And by measly, I mean gargantuan. Last year, the Chicago marathon had the most finishers of any race in the US with 37,315 people crossing that finish line on Columbus Drive. There were 109 countries represented. It’s known to be an extremely fast course (think Midwest: flat, flat, flat) and home to many PRs both amateur and professional. Yes, I plan to be one of those people and throw down a PR tomorrow.

The course takes us through 29 neighborhoods in the city with adoring fans lining every inch of it. The crowd is one of the best things about the Chicago marathon; so many people come out to support the runners and that’s what makes it simply amazing to run this race. But it’s not all fun and games. The city raked in over $243 million in economic impact last year’s race weekend. Holy moly. Can I get a cut of that?

Last night Lu and I ventured down to the Expo at McCormick Place to pick up my bib and race-day info packet. We stayed for an hour or so snacking on samples and browsing various vendors amongst fellow runners. I got to take the annual #ownChicago picture at the Nike booth. Below is this year’s photo on the left and last year’s on the right. Yep, I’m in the same hoodie. Recycling outfits. No shame. There was also an #ownChicago board we signed… go little bean!

photo-116 copy 5

I hogged the photo booth until I got a picture with “Laura owns 26.2”.  Let’s hope it doesn’t own me. It sounds like tomorrow will bring perfect conditions. At race start it’s suppose to be in the upper 50s, the low 60s by noon and no chance for rain. I like it.

photo-116 copy 4

Here’s a picture of the big frijol at the Expo. Yep, he took the Divvy bike inside. What a goon. I love that goon.

photo-116 copy 6

After the Expo, we stayed up entirely too late watching blooper reels on Youtube. Yes, you read that correctly. Blooper reels. It was lights out at 1:30am but this little bean couldn’t fall asleep until 2:30. Cue: Sleeping in until almost noon… Oops. You know sleeping in that late means I’m going to need a fat cup of joe in my favorite coffee mug from my sweet Mexican Momma.

photo-117

A lazy Saturday is just what the doctor ordered. I did do a two mile shake-out, slow paced run to get a little blood flowing. The rest of the day will be spent hydrating followed by carb loading tonight and hopefully a much earlier bedtime.

I have the outfit all ready to go: my favorite Lululemon running capris, Brooks base layer on top, and Brooks Pureflow 2s on my footsies. I’ll probably sport the black sneakers tomorrow. I love how that shirt says run happy. Run happy!

photo-118

My fuel is ready, too. Strawberry Shot Bloks and jelly beans. My plan is to refuel at mile 8, 13, 20 and 24. I didn’t refuel enough mid-race last year, a key error that I won’t be making this year. No matter how many marathons I end up doing (and this one will quite possibly be my last), I will always think it’s strange to eat while running.

photo-116 copy

I want to thank each one of you for your loving support. Thank you so much to those who donated to the charity group I am running with, Imerman Angels. Thank you for the kind words of encouragement. I’d like to give a special thanks to one of my besties, Meghan, for sending me beeaaautiful flowers this morning (in a lovely tea cup, I might add) and making me smile big today. She’s seriously the best. Hurry up and get back to Chicagoland, Megs!!

photo-116 copy 2

If you’re interested in seeing my pre-marathon post from last year click here. And here is the recap of last year’s race.

Alright, I’m out. Going to get ready for the big pasta dinner tonight.  Lu and I are kicking it old school and going to the original gangster, OG, the Olive Garden. Haven’t been there in who knows how long. Hello, breadsticks and delicious salad. Can’t wait to see you again.

Please, send me good vibes! I’ll be back with a race update in a couple of days.

xo, lw

it’s that time of year.

….It’s that time of year. Yep, you know what I’m talking about. It’s soup time. It’s suppose to be in the mid-60s in Chicagoland today so I figured some homemade tomato soup just makes sense. Vitamin A, anyone?

I found THIS TOMATO SOUP RECIPE last year from the ever entertaining and delicious How Sweet It Is blog, and I’ve made it multiple times. Amaaazing. Comfort food at its finest. Maybe it’s the cheese (mascarpone and havarti) that makes this soup extra delectable. Maybe it’s the blend of spices. Maybe not. This is one of those soups that is definitely worth the extra time invested — it ain’t no Campbell’s tomato soup. I dare you make it.

photo-86

One of my favorite kitchen tools is my garlic press. Love it. Do you have one yet?

photo-94

I’m a little sad that summer days may be behind us (read: I’m actually super excited for fall but I feel like I should mourn the loss of summer like everybody else is doing). Let’s take a look at some highlights from the last couple months of my summer.

First up: Family wedding in Guadalajara. Lu’s beautiful cousin was married in August. It was lovely to see Lu’s momma’s home city and spend time with the family. It was a gorgeous wedding. We also got to spend an afternoon in Tlaquepaque., which is an adorable artsy town next to Guadalajara. We brought home a few fun souvenirs including his & hers leather jackets. Let’s chalk that one up as the most random purchase I may have ever made. Maybe I’ll whip out that leather jacket this weekend now that fall is in the air.

photo-108

561574_10151797184884424_302834962_n

photo-113

photo-111

photo-112

photo-110

Next up: Grilling with Papa T. The man can make a mean scallop. And that sweet corn took me back to my childhood in Iowa enjoying sweet corn by the bushel each summer. So delicious. We spent a few evenings eating good food with good company. And a pretty good view, if I do say so myself.

photo-95

Next up: Big brother-in-law and his lady friend came to visit us in Chicago for a fun long weekend. Events included celebrating his birthday, eating at Girl and the Goat (my new favorite restaurant in Chicago. It DEFINITELY lives up to the hype. I didn’t expect to be so impressed with the food. While the price tag was steep, it wasn’t outrageous. I’ll be going back in about four months aka the amount of time it takes to get a reservation there), wandering the city, watching football and playing lots of candy crush saga.

1185382_10100380167148828_1527421737_n

1236697_10100380165182768_324112003_n

photo-99

photo-100

And finally: Babysitting our niece, Sophie. She had us wrapped around her little paw while her parents were away. We love that kitty. Except she did have some feisty moments where she would attack us and chase our toes. It was all in good fun.

photo-114

There has also been a whole lot of watching Breaking Bad this summer. And fresh summer eats. Check out these grilled chicken/shrimp kabobs. I smoked out our whole apartment making these bad boys. That was interesting.

photo-115

As these days of summer are winding down and we begin the spiral into shorter days and colder temps, I want to leave you all with the following thought. I hope you all are doing well. xo, lw

tumblr_magfloFCSF1rgj6lto1_400

 

not just a nurse

Hi friends. Here is a lovely post I’d like to share with you all. It’s written by a fellow nurse about nursing and the fact that nurses are not just nurses.
Very eloquent. Love it.

I recently switched over to the night shift at work, and I’m still working on balancing my life while being up all night… and that’s one of the major reasons why I haven’t been blogging much recently. Stay tuned because I have some fun posts forthcoming.

Talk soon.

xo, lw

hello there.

Well hello. It has been a while… Don’t worry it’s me, not you. It’s hard to keep up with this blog thing during the summer months because of trips, birthdays & my desire to be outside (instead of in front of the computer) as often as possible. But I’m back. For now, at least…

Let’s start with a quick recap of the last couple weeks.

Last weekend I went back to Austin, TX but this time I had the big frijol in tow. We celebrated Lu’s birthday there and hung with my college bestie. It was another fabulous long weekend in a fun city, and I came home with no less than fifty bug bites to prove it. We went to a local dive bar for some live music, hit up Barton Springs, kayaked on Lady Bird Lake, ate our way through multiple food trucks (including this one) and still managed to workout every day. I’m kind of sad to be back to reality.

photo-85

photo-92

photo-53

photo-86

photo-91

Lu noticed that our spot at Barton Springs looked like a real life version of Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte, which just so happens to be displayed in the Art Institute of Chicago.

photo-88

photo-90

photo-93

And there you have our Austin trip. Until next time, ATX. On to other updates…

My big bro moved to Los Angeles, and we miss him. Talk about a far move. But it’s also an exciting move for him, and I’m very happy he gets to start a fun new chapter in his life. He may just be the next big thing out there. I’ve never been to LA, and I can’t wait to go visit later this fall.

I’ve eaten my weight in sushi this summer. I love Sushi Dokku almost as much as I love Toro. The first step is admitting I have a problem. Yes, I have a sushi problem.

I joined a gym. I have finally accepted that I don’t consistently cross-train or weight lift on my own. I need classes and more options than what we have in our skimpy apartment fitness center because all I seem to consistently do on my own is run. My body needs more well-rounded activity.

Speaking of running, I’ve been going strong with marathon training. I’m not going to bore you guys with a recap of all the runs that I’ve done since we last talked but let it be known there have been some good ones, some bad ones, some skipped runs and some extra runs. Of course, I’m still having to tweak the training schedule a lil bit to fit my needs. For example, I did my long run yesterday instead of Sunday since I wasn’t about to run 16 miles in the Texas heat. Yesterday’s run: 16 miles in 02:24:44 (9:02 min/mile average). My average moving pace (pace without water stops) was 8:57 min/mile.

I want to expand on yesterday’s run… It was the best long run I have ever done. For the first time, I really made an effort to carb load and hydrate before the run. I had a bagel the night before in the Detroit airport, my usual oatmeal in the morning and a second bagel with nut butter about 2 hours before the run. I didn’t have a “hit the wall” moment, and I never really felt like I needed to stop. Whereas in the past, I would usually start dragging at about 13 or 14 miles. Added bonus – my pace was the fastest pace I’ve had for a long run yet. Call me dumb but I was honestly surprised how much carb loading and hydrating helped. In the words of the big frijol, preparation is key!

So what’s new with you guys? Hope you’re making today a good day. I’m glad to be back around these parts.

xo, lw