Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

It's been a quiet, but very good day here. I found myself remembering Christmases past, and the traditions my family used to have. Being in a relationship with someone from a different religious background who has never celebrated Christmas has made things a bit different for me. One of my realizations, or reminders, today, is that I need to take the lead with creating traditions surrounding Christmas. G.'s family has family and friends over for Hanukkah, but my parents aren't in town for Christmas, so I need to make it happen in future years. I was happy to hear G. say that next year we should have a tree! Yay!

After opening gifts, we did have a very nice Christmas dinner this afternoon at Il Palio at the Siena Hotel in Chapel Hill. I would highly recommend it for a special occasion!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Creative Process of Writing

I mentioned a few posts ago that I had started NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, trying my hand at a lifelong dream of writing a novel for the first time. I'm still at it, currently hovering at just under 32,000 words. It has been a learning experience so far, both about the craft of putting words together on paper, as well as about the discipline of writing toward a goal outside of work for the first time in a long time. Oh, I write emails and blog posts all the time, but a story with characters and conversation and drama, well, it's a different animal altogether.

There have been times in the past three weeks or so that I have looked forward to writing after work, and times when I wanted to read, watch TV, clean the toilet, just about anything else. But every day I've written something toward the goal of finishing this 50,000 word rough draft dream of mine. It has to be finished by midnight on Nov. 30. Well, the rough draft has to be at or beyond the 50K mark. (Big difference!)

Whether or not I ever revisit this (very) rough draft creation of mine, for editing or whatever, the most important things I've learned so far have involved making time for myself, making myself disciplined to do something I have to do because I want to do it that much, and setting boundaries for myself.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Don't Go, Oprah!

Oprah Winfrey announced today on her talk show that she would be wrapping it up in 2011 because the time is right. 25 years at one gig, which is how many seasons Oprah's show will have been on when she wraps up the next season. Wow. Few people stay at one job for 25 years anymore.

I have watched the "Oprah Winfrey Show" on occasion, especially during the summer breaks when I used to be a teacher. Back then, I occasionally taped it when I knew an interesting guest would be on while I was at work. It's been a long time since I've watched the show, but Oprah has become such an influential person in her own right that rarely a month goes by that I haven't been aware of her, whether it's a new book pick for her show's book club, or in the past couple of years, her support for the Obamas.

One of the things I remember about her show is that, while she has had many famous guests on her show, she has also had a number of "regular people" who did out-of-the-ordinary things on as guests on her show. For years now, I've harbored a secret desire to do something inspirational that would land me on the "Oprah Winfrey Show!" Okay, there, I said it. My secret's out. And now, unless I get cracking, it looks like I'll have to keep working on the inspirational bit without the reward of a gig in Oprah's show! Ah, it was a pipe dream anyway. :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

You've Got Mail

In the past couple of weeks, I've rediscovered a website called Postcrossing, which facilitates sending postcards across the globe. People who register on the site initially receive up to five addresses of other people registered on Postcrossing. You mail out your postcard(s), and when the recipients receive and register their newly received postcards, you are able to get additional addresses to mail more postcards. Whenever you request a new address to send a postcard to, you get a unique ID number to write on the card. The person on the other end types in that ID number to indicate receipt.

Although I registered on Postcrossing about three years ago and sent/received a few postcards then, I got busy with other things and forgot about it. I just recently signed back in and decided to send out five more postcard and see that happened. Since then, four of my postcards have been received overseas, and I received two postcards yesterday, one from England and the other from Germany. It was fun to get some non-bill/junk mail in the mailbox, since I keep up with so many people by email, Facebook, and Twitter now.

This newly refound hobby will probably fade away again in time, but for now, in these drearier days of fall (did I mention it's been raining all week thanks to Tropical Storm Ida?!), it's fun looking forward to colorful mail via postcards in my real live mailbox (not the virtual one).

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Happy November!

It's been a busy fall so far, and it's not over yet! I love this time of year--for the weather, the fall colors, and all the neat activities going on.

George and I celebrated our 7th anniversary this past week with a fun trip to the North Carolina mountains. We stayed in Boone for the second year in a row, and explored the area for several days. It rained on us the first day, but otherwise the weather was quite nice. The leaves were just past their prime, but still very pretty.

I'm running my second marathon, the Outer Banks Marathon, next Sunday, and am rather nervous about it. I'm going to get to the starting line and see what happens! George has decided to run it with me, which should be a great help! I hope we both make it to the end.

Just today, I've started National Novel Writing Month for the first time! I'm excited about this project, partly because it'll be a great diversion from running, especially as I taper for and recover from the marathon.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

First Marathon Complete!

I finished my first marathon, the Triple Lakes Race in Greensboro, NC, last Saturday. The race report is here.

I'm still a bit stiff, so I've signed up for a chair massage at work tomorrow, and am looking forward to that! My knee (which I FELL on) and my blisters are slower to heal than I'd like, but I do feel some improvement.

I'm beginning to feel like doing some of the things I've been neglecting during marathon training and initial recovery, like cleaning at home, sorting through mail, and other domestic things. I still can't stay awake very long to read in bed at night, as I'm still pretty bushed. My body's healing, though, I can feel it. My mind is also on the mend. It took me nearly 11 hours to finish the race, a long time on my legs, AND a long time by myself, where I get downright lonely--and bored out of my skull! The next marathon I'll be running, Outer Banks, is a bigger race, AND it allows headsets. Also, George has decided to run the Outer Banks Marathon with me! (Woohoo!)

I'm eager to recover quickly so I can finish training for the Outer Banks race, where I hope to clock a big improvement!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

First Marathon!

I've got my first marathon coming up on Saturday, the Triple Lakes Trail Race in Greensboro! It will be a training run for me, and I'm feeling a combination of excitement and nervousness over the experience! Most of the time I feel like I'm going to nail the distance, but sometimes I think, "What if....?"

I'm trying not to get bogged down in the doubts, so I'm busy getting grocery shopping and errands done (after work) before Saturday, so I can take it easy for the rest of the weekend. I'll be getting to sleep early the next few nights, to boot. (I haven't done a good job of that so far this week! Yikes!)

I haven't written much about my marathon training here, since I have a running blog at Going the Extra Mile. My race report will show up there, probably some time next week.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Busy End to Summer

It's hard to believe it's the end of the last weekend of summer! Wow! Life has been busy, mostly with marathon training, smattered with a couple of recent road races. We also celebrated George's grandfather's 95th birthday in August, which included dinner at the Angus Barn (very nice!).

Running this summer, especially training for the marathon, has taught me a lot about myself. I recently completed a 20 miler, and while my body was wiped out, it was a nice feeling of accomplishment. I'm still pretty slow, so I've been working on speeding up, with some results. It's also been good mental training for "long haul" stuff, as it's been tempting sometimes to quit and make it s shorter run.

I've been trying to read more this summer, though I've discovered recently that I have to take a break from books about running! Thinking about running, training, sleep and nutrition, it's on my mind almost constantly, so I need my reading to be a diversion, something to give my brain a break! Once I have fall racing behind me, one of the books I hope to read is Born to Run.

Speaking of reading, just last week I rediscovered the website, a way to recycle used books and follow a book's travels around the country or the globe. I have so many paperback books at home that I haven't read, so this should be motivation to read them and start "releasing" them! I've already ordered my first batch of bookplates and sticky notes from the BookCrossing store (though it's not necessary to do so), and am looking forward to getting going again with this little project. My BookCrossing profile is here.

Between marathon training, reading, and life in general, I haven't been watching much television this summer, and most of the time, I don't miss it! I'd be surprised if I've watched a total of two hours of TV all summer! Hard to believe. :) Of course, I've spent more time on the computer, some of it doing research on running, genealogy, and other things.

I'm looking forward to fall, for sure. Happy First Day of Fall on Tuesday!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Wiped Out

I have so much to catch up on here, including a weekend with the widest range of activities and emotions I've had in a while! Tonight, though, I feel too exhausted to do it all justice here. For now, I'm going to close down the computer, turn off the apartment lights, and join George (who's already crashed for the night!) in bed. Tomorrow's a new day.

Sweet dreams!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Fun Way to Improve Time Management!

George and I had a small get-together Saturday night, a few friends over to play board games. It was pretty amazing how much we got done around the apartment, between getting things clean, buying groceries and cooking snacks, and taking care of other things (like cleaning the carpet with a machine from the grocery store and replacing burned out lightbulbs), knowing people were coming over. A lot of that we got done after our 10-mile long run Saturday morning! We were pretty exhausted yesterday, but loved recuperating in a clean apartment, with the post-party "glow" of having friends over. We've decided we'd like to have more get-togethers, and hope to have another one next month.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Okay, I Watched It!

I finally saw the movie "Twilight" over the weekend. George and I watched a loaner DVD of the movie together. George hasn't read any of the Twilight books, and he didn't like the movie AT ALL! I've read Twilight and Full Moon, and had mixed feelings about the movie.

Things I Liked About the Movie:
*The greenery was very pretty! I loved the lushness of the forests, and it was fun to recognize Multnomah Falls, which I visited many moons ago.
*Speaking of the set/scenery, I thought the Cullen' house was pretty neat, with all the glass.
*Bella whines much less in the movie than she does in the movie. (Uh, thank goodness!) She also seems less clumsy in the movie.
*I thought the casting was interesting.
*The movie was a Reader's Digest version of the book, with some scenes, issues, and the whining all condensed. Big plus in my book. I thought Twilight (the book) could've ended much sooner than it did.

Things I Didn't like About the Movie:
*It still came across as very "high schooly," especially the dialog. Okay, I KNOW the characters are in high school, but some of the dialog was cheesy, even for high school.
*Edward comes across as pretty darn smug, rather than aloof, to me. Same as the book.
*The movie seemed pretty low-budget for such a highly popular book series.
*Bella's character would come across better if she didn't have to come across as clumsy at all, I think. The times she did stumble in the movie seemed a bit forced. ("Oh, that's right, my character is supposed to be a klutz!") If I didn't know her character was clumsy in the book, I would've thought they'd forgotten to do some editing.
*I don't think the movie really explained Edward's showing up in Bella's room while she slept. Just happened. Still creepy to me, not romantic.

Overall, I'm glad I saw it as a cultural reference, but....*sigh* it didn't make me any more of a Twilight fan. I keep coming back to my feeling of relief over the fact that it took me less time to watch the movie than it did for me to read the book. Like Harry Potter, I'm glad the young adult audience has found another series of thick books to sink their teeth into, but it's been a challenge for this fortysomething to follow suit here.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Week That Was

Today I went to the TRLN Annual Meeting that I mentioned in last Friday's post, and really enjoyed it! The keynote speaker talked about digital projects; afterward I chose a breakout session that featured two speakers: one who talked more about the future of digital projects in the university setting, and the other who talked about Green IT, or the environmental and university impact of going green with library/campus IT. Both presentations were full of interesting information, BUT the first presenter read a lot from his Power Point presentation. The second presenter did a lot of well organized ad libbing, mostly because he had more colorful images as examples in his Power Point presentation. (Note to self--remember this!)

After the break out session, we went to the yummy buffet lunch, and heard Karla Holloway, a Duke professor and author, speak. She gave a witty talk about her book, which was about reading and how reading has affected people, including writers and blacks. Interesting.

Earlier this week, I gave the book New Moon away to a coworker who'd just finished reading Twilight. I saw her today at the TRLN meeting, and she handed me her Netflix copy of the movie, "Twilight," to watch! Okay, I didn't much like the book, but I continue to be curious about the whole phenomenon, so I'm looking forward to watching the movie! (Thanks, TC!)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Okay, I Caved!

I just pre-ordered the paperback copy of Stephanie Meyer's Eclipse, the third book in the Twilight Series, with mixed feelings. I finished Twilight earlier this month, and didn't like it much at all! I finished New Moon over the weekend (I'd already bought it, so I decided to go ahead and read it), and liked it a little better. Now I'm hoping the series will continue to warm up for me. For those of you following the Twilight Series, it looks like I'm in the Team Jacob camp so far.

I continue to be curious about the hold this series has on people. Teenage Bella seems to be at her worst when she's with Edward, vampire extraordinaire: klutzy, whiny, clingly, and dependent. Edward's family seems to accept all of this, and they remind her of her own awkward self at different times throughout the first two books. When Bella befriended Jacob (who turns into a werewolf in New Moon), she became more self-confident and adventurous. That's why I liked New Moon better--Bella became a much more interesting and well-rounded character.

I'm such a horder of books I want to read, that I am beginning to get a little overwhelmed by all the unread possibilities on my bookshelves at home, not to mention my Wishlist and my to-read list on (there is some duplication between the two lists, but not totally). While many of the books I have at home are personal copies, many are library books (both university and public). I recently decided to start weeding books out a bit, so that I can focus on what I really want to read for a while, and make my home office a more comfortable place to read, write, and relax in the evenings. Recently, I took a few personal books I didn't want to keep to work to share with my colleagues, with the promise that I didn't expect (or even want) to see them again. This afternoon, I returned a bunch of books to the public library that I'd either finished or decided I could read later on down the road. While my bookshelves are still double-stacked when possible, and now-smaller stacks of books still abound elsewhere, my home office is looking more airy, relaxing, and productive. I feel like I have a little more focus.

Meanwhile, I have a total of seven (SEVEN?!) books in various stages of ordering and shipping at Amazon, so I'm hoping to finish up some other books at home before they arrive! Three of those books are released for shipment in August, and another won't arrive until late October, so I'm hopeful that I can make some progress between now and then. Three of the seven will arrive this week, though. I'd better stop writing and go read for a while! :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

No Doesn't Always Mean No

This morning, I realized I'd missed the deadline for signing up for the TRLN Annual Meeting next week. A coworker had asked if I were going, in hopes that we could hang out together. :) I remembered that I'd emailed my boss, asking her if I could attend, and I never heard from her. I was a little bummed with myself that I hadn't followed up with her in time to make the registration deadline. I enjoyed this meeting last year, and had been looking forward to it again. I thought I was out for the count.

I sighed over it for a bit, and vowed to follow up better next year. Then I decided I wasn't ready to give up for this year! I found a contact person on the TRLN website, and asked her if it were possible to at least attend the morning sessions, if not the lunch. As luck would have it, I heard back from her almost immediately saying she could get me in, and that I needed to respond with my breakout session preference, and if I wanted to stay for lunch! Yessss!

So then I tracked down my boss, who said, "Uh, sure! I assumed people would just sign up if they wanted to go!" (This particular meeting is free of charge, and in a nearby city, but it is time offsite and different from the normal work routine, eventhough it is work-related.)

I emailed the TRLN contact back gleefully, happy with myself that I hadn't given up so easily. It's a minor victory, but a nice way to end the work week.

Happy Weekend, all!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Kitchen Fun

One of my goals for this year is to do more cooking, so I decided to try a new recipe from the cookbook 366 Delicious Ways to Cook Rice, Beans, and Grains. I bought this cookbook in the spring of 2008, and I think this is the first recipe I've tried from it! I decided on the "Brown Rice and Lentils" recipe on p. 329, went to the grocery store, and came back with several goodies!

For starters, I didn't have a large skillet with a matching top! I was also missing the spices cumin and coriander in my spice rack, and I also picked up lentils, fresh cilantro, and fresh scallions.

Here, I sauteed the fresh carrot and small onion (in the first picture) in olive oil, and added the cumin and coriander. Yummy smell already at this point!

Here, I added the uncooked brown rice and lentils, and sauteed a little more. I added four cups of water, put the lid on and brought it to a boil. Then it simmered for 40 minutes.

The scallion and cilantro got mixed in at the end, and the whole enchilada had to sit under a paper towel for five minutes.

And voila! It tastes really good, and the recipe made several servings! Can't wait to have it for lunch this coming week!

125 Days and Counting!

I just checked the website for the Outer Banks Marathon, and it's only 125 days (plus some hours and seconds) away! Wowee! I'm both excited and nervous about it, to be honest. I'm excited because it'll be my first marathon, but I'm nervous because I've been kinda struggling with the long runs lately. I must be patient, and continue to prepare for it. Well rounded training includes good nutrition, hydration, and sleep, as well as exercise.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happy New Year!

Today marks the end of the fiscal year at work, and I'm relieved and glad that things went really well. As with many "new year" transitions, it's made me pensive about things at work, and my life in general. What do I want to accomplish in the next year? 5 years? 10 years? I'm glad for the chance to think about these things in the middle of the calendar year, even if some of the decisions and challenges are tough.

I'm looking forward to taking the rest of the year, I mean WEEK, off, to power down, catch up on some housework, reading, and genealogy, and probably do some goal planning.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

100 Day Challenge for Better Health

I'm now on Day 9 of the 100 Day Challenge I started for myself to work on healthy habits. I was inspired a bit by the book 100 Days of Weight Loss: The Secret to Being Successful on Any Diet Plan, a book I'm reading through in chunks. I decided not to follow the book, day by day, because I want to develop all-around good habits. Of course, I want to lose weight along the way too! :) The book has some pretty good ideas, but I'm glad I borrowed it from the library.

So, I'm tracking the following things, with the goal of doing them daily:

1) Weigh in
2) Take a multivitamin
3) Drink 64 oz of water
4) Sleep
5) Floss

I'm recording my weight, as well as hours of sleep, no matter what the numbers are. I've also got a comments section, where I put things like "ate at ____ Restaurant last night" or "meeting after work," in hopes that I can see patterns over time that will help me be healthier.

One of the motivators in this is that I'm training for my first marathon, and being ready means doing all I can to be healthier. The exercise is easy for me to do, and I'm already recording that in a paper log, as well as several online exercise logs. (Wierd, but there's a reason! The paper log goes with me to the gym. The various online exercise logs have different features I like a lot, whether it's tracking shoes, neat graphs, or social networking. I haven't been able to give up one of them yet!)

So far, I have a perfect score in every column for the first 8 days. I'm still working on going across the board for today. Things I've learned so far:

1) Something close to 7 hours of sleep is optimal for me, but I'm not good about getting it.
2) It's easier for me to drink more water during the work week.
3) Flossing any time of day is good. If I floss in the morning, sometimes I floss again at night. All the better, right? I think my dentist and dental hygienist will be pleased, come August, if I keep that up. I've gotten the flossing lecture during my last two visits to the dental hygienist. I haven't had a cavity in ages, but I don't want to tooth ache to interfere with my marathon training!

I'm keeping track of this on a spreadsheet, which I uploaded to Google Docs, so I can add to it wherever I am. I numbered Days 1-100 down the lefthand side, and have the five goals in column headers across the top, along with a comments column.

So far, so good.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Top facts about the name Lesley Looper

I googled my name recently, and came upon the site It's pretty amusing. I also learned that my "power animal" is the Satin Peruvian Guinea Pig, and my numerology number is 6 (which means I'm responsible, careful, and compassionate). Also, acccording to the US Census Bureau, 0.023% of US residents have the first name 'Lesley' and 0.0017% have the surname 'Looper'. The US has around 300 million residents, so we guesstimate there are 1 Americans who go by the name 'Lesley Looper'.

There's actually one other "Lesley Looper," and we're related (don't remember how, now), but have never met.

Did you know that Lesley Looper is...
  1. Well envoweled
  2. Yelsel Repool backwards
  3. Esleylay Ooperlay in Pig Latin
  4. 01001100 01100101 01110011 01101100 01100101 01111001 00100000 01001100 01101111 01101111 01110000 01100101 01110010 in binary code?
See more at www.IsThisYour.Name

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fun with Picture Books!

I've been on a reading kick of late, and my current obsession is children's picture books! I'm finding them to be very relaxing and soothing, sometimes funny, sometimes thoughtful. Some of the books have been pictures only, but most have had stories as well. Some of the books I've reread, as they were favorites when I taught school, but some I've enjoyed for the first time. Now, I'm on a kick to read all of the Caldecott Medal winners. It'll take me a little while longer, as I can only put 30 books at a time on hold at the public library, and I'm currently at my quota (again!). The staff must "love" me, but if circulation stats mean anything, perhaps I'm helping there! :>

Some favorite illustrators I'm enjoying revisiting are David Wiesner, Steven Kellogg, Tomie dePaola, Chris van Allsburg, and Uri Shulevitz.

I write reviews, however short, for a lot of the books I read, on book-tracking website Check out my profile here, and feel free to "friend" me visiting the website. I enjoy checking out what others read, and have gotten many good ideas. Once I finish the Caldecott winners, I'll think about what reading goal to tackle next. Any ideas? :)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Trip to Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area

This afternoon, George and I packed a lunch at drive one county over to Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, in Hillsborough, North Carolina. We had a nice lunch on one of the picnic tables at the bottom of the trails, which was very pleasant. Then we headed up the trail to the summit.

The trail is through a pretty, wooded area.

This is one of the overlooks.

Near the summit

This tower was at the top of Occoneechee Mountain. Not very scenic from the bottom of the top, but this towers are kinda fascinating to me, up close anyway.

It was a nice, relaxing way to spend an afternoon. The hike we took was not terribly long or strenuous, a good thing because it was very humid this afternoon!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

You CAN Buy Imagination

Earlier today, I ordered this poster from for my cubicle at work. I decided to have them laminate it as well. My cubicle walls are still pretty drab, though I've been in my new workspace for nearly 10 months! Can't wait to hang this poster up!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Okay, I Did It Again

No, I'm not about to break into the Britney Spears song by a similar title! I did just register for the local Galloway training program, though! Evenhough I'm still working on the IT Band Syndrome in my right leg, and am hardly running at all at the moment, I'm still doing crosstraining and stretching like crazy. I'm missing running like crazy too, and have been exercising with my bottom lip sticking out this week. I think this is just what I need to start getting out of my funk! The people in the Raleigh Galloway group are friendly, helpful and really encouraging, so the timing of the training season kick-off this coming Saturday couldn't be better for me! I start physical therapy a week from today, and am thinking about getting a sports/deep tissue massage for my leg. (Any recommendations for Triangle massage therapists?!)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Thanks to Katy and the Pink Pacers!

Katy, a fellow Junior Leaguer, and her "Pink Pacer" teammates recently did the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Washington, DC. Before they left for DC, Katy put a shout out on Facebook, inviting her FB friends to post the names of people we wanted her to walk in honor or memory of. My mom, LaNelle Looper, is a breast cancer survivor, so I posted her name for Katy. After the walk was over, Katy posted cute pictures on Facebook, including a picture of the backpack she carried with her on the Avon Walk. In the middle column, above the pink part, is my mom's name! Thanks, Katy!!

Read more about Katy's Pink Pacers Team here. (You can even donate!)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday Picker-Upper

I just got the link to this YouTube video from a Duke classmate on Twitter. (Sounds very Web 2.0, doesn't it?!) I expecially enjoyed it because "The Sound of Music"has been one of my favorite movies for ages! Enjoy!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bucket List: The Grand Canyon

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk about my pipe dream for retirement, which included trips to at least four international locations I haven't been to yet (Machu Picchu, the Pyramids in Egypt, the Great Wall of China, the Eiffle Tower).

After a recent trip by George's first cousin to the Grand Canyon, I decided I want to add some "local" destinations to my bucket list as well. I'm sure there's little surprise that the Grand Canyon is high on my list.

Yesterday, I started a savings account for this trip. (ING Direct, an online bank, allows for any number of accounts, which you can name. Transferring money from my main brick-and-mortar account will be easy, technically speaking, anyway! One dollar at a time, right?

I don't have a timeframe yet; it'll depend on when the money is saved, and when both George and I can go. Meanwhile, I'll enjoy researching the activities, lodging, and other possibilities. I'd love suggestions!

Meanwhile, these are free images of Grand Canyon from the National Park Service website! Inspiration!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Main Street

A couple of Saturdays ago, when a group of us volunteered at Urban Ministries for supper, we noticed that nearby Dillard St. was blocked off, and there were lots of bright lights. Turns out they're filming the movie,"Main Street" in Durham. Pretty cool! It includes several actors I've actually heard of (don't laugh!), including Colin Firth, Orlando Bloom, Ellen Burstyn, and Andrew McCarthy. Now I wish George and I had hung out for a bit!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thinking Ahead

A couple of weeks ago, my Covenant Group (small "spiritual discussion" group from church) met, and the discussion topic revolved around our "pipe dreams" for retirement. It was interesting to hear the group members' thoughts on this, as I formulated my own. Retirement is a moving target right now, in terms of when I'll be able to retire, as well as my interests. Part of what I want to do in retirement will depend on what I accomplish between now and then. It's been fun to continue to think about this topic, to mull ver my "bucket list."

In the mean time, I've increased my 403b contribution at work, hoping that the economy is pretty much done tanking, and will start to rebound in the months ahead. I also dumped some spare change into my IRA. Money will play a part in what I can or can't do in retirement, and I want to have options. Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy choices!

My family tree work has also been getting more attention lately, as a result of the last Covenant Group meeting. I'd like to be able to do a number of things with my genealogy interest, not just in retirement, but in the months and years ahead!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Losing Interest

Last night, I watched "The Biggest Loser" for the first time in several weeks, and it reminded me of my own TV-watching transformation, something that's happened almost without my noticing.

It used to be that, when "The Biggest Loser" first started, I watched the show by myself, then George started watching it with me. We watched the past couple of seasons together pretty religiously, though we both got pretty irritated by one of last season's contestants, Vicky. We started watching again this season, but then realized that spending two hours watching TV on a "school night" felt like a big chunk of time, when we both had other things we'd rather be doing. So, we started taping the show and watching it on the weekend. THEN, our weekends started getting busier, so we recently missed watching about a month's worth of episodes! Well, last night I happened to have the TV on, listening to more than watching the local news, which has a 7 PM edition, and "The Biggest Loser" started right after the news. I'd forgotten it was coming on, so it took me by surprise! (I used to put it on my calendar!) George didn't even have any interest in watching it with me, and didn't ask me about it as we got ready for bed.

Watching the episode last night wasn't as satisfying as it used to be. I didn't feel really motivated or inspired afterward, like I used to, and I've been trying to figure out why. It was kinda nice to see the progress the remaining contestants have made, but it didn't leave me looking forward to next week's episode at all.

I think part of it is that I've realized (again!) how unrealistic the show is. Few people have the time to take off several weeks to months from their lives to exercise, work with trainers, and eat healthy meals in a constrolled environment. Then, there was last season's player of players, Vicky, who so blatently "played the game" that it was a distraction from some of the good things happening on the show. Of course, there was this season's flub with contestant Dane, who was taped at home (once he got eliminated) finishing a local marathon, when in reality, he was picked up several miles from the finish line and driven to the end of the course, where he was taped crossing the finish line. Only when viewers balked did the show and Dane come clean about really happened with the race. (Apparently, Dane wasn't going to finish before the race officials closed the course, and the segment producer wanted to have him crossing the finish line with the finishing clock running for the benefit of showing at the end of the episode. When that episode aired, no one in front of the camera mentioned the pickup, and we were left with the impression that Dane had finished his first marathon in a great time! The story now goes that he returned to the course later in the day to run the miles he'd missed for the taping of the episode. ) Being a slow runner myself, that whole thing was a turn-off.

So, I think I'll probably just catch the recaps online for the rest of the season, but maybe I'll watch the season finale. I'll find other things to do with that two-hour chunk of time!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New (to me) Products

I recently read the book, Purple Cow, by Seth Godin. It was an interesting book about what makes companies and products remarkable. One of the products mentioned was Dr. Bonner's Soap. Part of what's supposed to be remarkable about this product is that it's organic. I've never shopped for organic soap...I buy organic vegetables and fruits once in a while, but that's about it. I was intrigued, though, so I bought some of the peppermint liquid soap at the Vitamin Shoppe last night. I tried it this morning, and it smells yummy! Otherwise, it seems a little bit on the liquidy side. I'm going to keep trying it, though. It's supposed to be okay as a shampoo as well.

In addition to the soap, I recently bought a 12-can box of Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry, and I like it!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

I've had an unusual Easter weekend, but a good one!

Friday night, George and I joined our Covenant Group at Nancy's house to bake some 400 cookies my scratch! That was a new experience, for sure. The cookies were for the local homeless shelter, and we were scheduled to serve last night. So, we spent about three hours baking cookies on Friday night, then about three hours cooking and serving dinner (and our cookies) at the homeless shelter last night! It was a very worthwhile thing to do, but George and I were pretty bushed this morning! So, we both slept in, and then had Easter lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Stonewood Grill in Cary. Afterward, we went to nearby Henry's Gelato for dessert. We split a small cup of half mint and half biscutto (I think that's what that half was called, close to biscotti, but not quite). That was a yummy treat!

This afternoon, I decided to bump my fundraising goal for the Ronald McDonald House from $500 to $1000! I'm so excited about this, and my marathon race plans, that I decided to take it up a notch! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Um, Congratulations?

Folks who know me well, know I'm a big fan of the Duke University Blue Devils! This goes wayyyyy back, as my parents both graduated from Duke, where my dad attended on a football scholarship. Yes, I was a Duke football fan long before I saw a Duke basketball game. What makes this a little more unusual is that I grew up in SEC territory, where most of my friends pulled for Auburn or Alabama!

My sister followed the family tradition by attending Duke, and lo and behold, I did as well! Then, some 15 years after graduating, I returned to Duke to work. So, my Duke blue blood runs thick!

So, you can understand if I have trouble sometimes pulling for the "other team," the UNC Tarheels, the newly crowned 2009 NCAA besketball champions! UNC is Duke's biggest rival, and sometimes it can be a bitter one. But, I do have fond memories of spending time in Chapel Hill my senior year. I even got to attend the first basketball game in the Dean Dome (which happened to be against Duke)!

Truth be told, though, I think that having another great basketball team in UNC down the road helps make Duke a better team. If the rivalry shut down, I think Duke would be hard pressed to find another consistently good conference team to replace UNC in the schedule. It's like being part of a class, group, or work department where everyone is busting their butts, so you're motivated to do the same.

There's something to be said for the company you keep (or want to keep). That's why we join clubs, churches, interest groups. Joining the Galloway training group in Raleigh last year has opened up my running world, and I get a kick out of seeing the people I met there out and about in the area. They're an active bunch by the nature of it being a running group, and most of them are faster than me. Probably without knowing it, many of them inspire me to want to be a better running.

Although I didn't watch the game last night (it was halftime when I clicked on the TV, but it was bedtime for me), and in fact I haven't watched any basketball games since Duke bowed out of the tournament, I am glad that a North Carolina and ACC team won the national title--eventhough it wasn't Duke! UNC makes for good company. (Shhhh, don't tell anyone I said so!We're rivals, you know!) ;-)

Monday, April 06, 2009


Every so often, the whole patience lesson comes up to show me a thing or two! For instance, the week after I signed up for the Outer Banks Marathon, I got overexcited about training, and got injured. It's taken patience to take it a little easier, and to be creative about working out. As a result, I'm doing more strength training and stretching.

Over the weekend, George and I went to a couple of meetings at church, in addition to the regular service, in an effort to learn more about recent events going on at our church. I was hoping to learn all the facts over the course of the weekend, but that wasn't in the cards. I learned more, but not everything! I discovered that no one has all the answers, and it will take patience (among other things!) to sort through everything and figure out the way. Our covenant group had our regular meeting tonight, and while we talked about "the issues" briefly, most of the meeting was our normal topical discussion. I must admit, it was nice to take a mental break from the challenging issues of the weekend and funnel my brain power in a different direction. The people in our covenant group make for good company and stimulating conversation!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Excitement at Barnes & Noble

I stopped by Barnes and Noble at New Hope Commons tonight on my way home from dinner out, and escaped without buying a single book (but pretty notecards instead)! That's not the exciting thing, though! I learned at checkout that the Barnes & Noble sign was on fire! I thought they meant a stand-alone sign was flaming, but no! The store evacuated as I was getting into my car, and as I drove out, I saw that the "B" on the sign ON THE BUILDING was ablaze! Thank goodness the firetrucks were on their way as I drove down 15-501! Yikes!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Busy Sunday

I've had a really busy Sunday, but I'm so thankful for it! I'm feeling tired, but satisfied!

First of all, I was the Worship Associate today at ERUUF. This is my second year in the Worship Associate program, and I've really enjoyed it. The service was about secrets, inspired by Frank Warren's PostSecret art project and books. I met with the minister last weekend to start talking about today's service, and wrote a 2-page "reflection" about my personal observations about secrets, to present during both services 9:15 and 11:15). For the reading today, Rev. Southworth and I alternated reading several secrets from the PostSecret books (there are four out right now). It was a nice service, I thought, and I got some good feedback. (After the 11:15 service, I got to catch up with a friend I met while I was on the Rice Diet, which was a real treat!)

My sister, Lisa, and her family are in town, as daughter Emily is on Spring Break, and they're doing the college tour. (Emily has interviews at Duke tomorrow and Wednesday.) So Lisa, as well as Mom and Dad, came to the 11:15 service at ERUUF to hear me do my thing (though they stayed for the whole service!).

Afterward, we all (the churchgoers plus brother-in-law Craig, Emily, Laura (Emily's big sister and a Duke sophomore), and George, met at Watt's Grocery for brunch. I'd been there once before, lunch with a co-worker during the week, but never for a weekend brunch. I had an omelet with asparagus, caramelized onions, goat cheese, and spinach. This may well be the best omelet I've ever had! I kid you not! Awesome!

Once we'd finished eating, Dad and Craig headed out, but the rest of us stuck around to coach and encourage Emily on her upcoming interviews. Time just flew, as we had a lively conversation in the quiet of the restaurant, which had cleared out by the time we looked up! The staff was very patient and let us stay on, not even interrupting us with the offer of drink refills. We were too engrossed in the conversation to care or notice!

George and I got home around 5:00, give or take a little, and I'd been going since 6 AM, when I got up to get ready for a 30-minute workout (shorter than usual, but my leg is still healing, so that was fine), then get ready for two rounds of church services.

George needed to run some errands, so after we got home, he headed out again. I decided to stay home and soak in the solitude. Being an introvert by nature, today was a bit draining, to be honest. I loved doing the church services today, and lunch and the ensuing conversation were stimulating and fun, but I felt drained on the way home.

So, I read for a while, but got restless, so I got on the computer for a while, and was drawn to my genealogy research again. I get a lot of satisfaction out of working on my family tree, though it's a hobby that fades in and out, depending on other time commitments. That's one of the great things about genealogy, I can put it aside and pick it up again easily. I've been working a lot on my McLamb line of late, and the past few days, I've been putting a little more time on it. (Okay, "more" is relative here, since I've been busy getting ready for today's worship services as well.) A little while ago, I printed out a "book" of all my McLamb relatives. (I do this periodically to have all the information I have on a given line in RTF format, and to see what needs editing or correcting.) The information, with sources listed, for my McLamb line comes to over 1200 pages! And I'm not even done entering the information I have on the McLambs! This really excites me! (I'm grinning as I type!) I'm not the type of amateur genealogist who prefers quantity over quality, by any means. This is not a contest. It's just exciting to see the fruits of many years of research, and know that there's still work to be done! I love putting the pieces of the puzzle together, doing research and verifying information, meeting and communicating with relatives. Part of what inspires me is that I'd love to organize a family reunion for the McLamb line someday, and the more (and accurate) family tree information I have, the better.

George has come home since I've been typing, and I've just noticed it's heading toward 10:00! I'm still "hung over" from today's experiences, so I think it's time to turn off the computer and head for bed a little earlier than normal. (Maybe it's too late for that!)

I just love a day when I have quality time with people and quality time alone! Today was one of the best.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

March Madness

Well, I've injured myself again, for the second March in a row, and I'm not happy with myself! Why? Because I think I did it to myself with overtraining. Best I can tell from online research, I've done a number on my right hip flexor. *sigh* And I have a half marathon scheduled for Saturday. It looks like I'll be taking it easy. But, in the big scheme of things, I'd rather take it easy now than miss training for the Outer Banks Marathon, which is still 7+ months away.

Meanwhile, Duke is playing in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Basketball Tournament tonight. Tip-off is at 9:57 PM EDT, which is exactly my bedtime! ;-) Good luck, Blue Devils!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

2009 Reading Goals

Well, I hit my first reading goal of the year this past week, hitting the 52-book mark! I decided back in January that I wanted to read at least one book a week, but I finished my 53rd book today. What does that tell me?

First, I've read some short books! We're talking a little poetry, a handful of photography books, which I love! Another thing I've noticed is that I'm watching less television and reading more, which is a good change of habit. Yay!

Now, I'm wondering if I can hit my secondary goal of 100 books for the year. It's possible, but isn't a must-do. I hope to continue to read more poetry and explore art and photography books, but I'd also like to tackle some longer fiction and non-fiction books as well. I'm still enjoying the book tracking website, and am getting some interesting book ideas there. Seeing others' reading lists (including some friends and co-workers) on Goodreads has reminded me how fascinating it is to broaden my horizons through the things I read.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I Did It!

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night, and couldn't go back to sleep. Part of what was on my mind, was trying to decide between running a half marathon and a full marathon, and using it as a fundraier for the Ronald McDonald House of Durham. The fundraiser thing I knew I wanted to do, despite the economic woes in our area and across the country and world. (Children still get sick enough to need hospital care, and their families still need a place to stay!)

I decided that since my church did a gutsy thing this past Sunday by giving out envelopes to everyone in the congregation with cash to return to the community, that I could do something gutsy with the money I received ($20). I'd definitely decided to put it toward my fundraising goal, but when I couldn't get back to sleep about 2:00 this morning, I decided that shooting for the marathon was what I need to do. I just need to do it. So, I got up, fired up the laptop, and registered for the Outer Banks Marathon on November 8! Half marathons are a fun--and still challenging distance for me, but I decided I needed to stretch myself and shoot for the marathon distance. At this point, my stomach has butterflies, but it's a goal I need to put into motion now.

I signed up for an account with, and it was really easy to set up a fundraising page for my marathon-running, Ronald McDonald House compaign. My goal is to raise $500! I hope I can do it in these tough economic times. Check the page out here to stay posted.

If any readers have run the OBX Marathon, or can recommend a hotel, I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Local Running Community

Yesterday, I ran the Run for the Oaks 5K (in downtown Raleigh) in the rain! (Check out the race report here, if interested.) My performance was a bit disappointing, but the thing I took away from the race was that the online running community is alive and well in the Triangle! No kidding, I met three different online friends yesterday who saw and recognized me first, then I recognized them too. All three are from a combination of Facebook, Twitter, and/or running bloggers I follow. What fun! I also had someone comment on my race report that he was the guy who finished just in front of me in the red jacket, and asked if I was the one in the Duke t-shirt. (Yep!) I tried catching the red jacket guy for the last chunk of the race, but couldn't pull it off!

While this could border on creepy stalking, so far the online community has been a great way to follow each other through training and races in the area, and getting to see pictures of each other helps a lot!

Wearing the Duke t-shirt garnered a couple of comments, but it helped that it was ACC Basketball Tournament weekend!

Meanwhile, the new Raleigh Galloway training season is starting in a couple of months, and I'm planning to sign up again. I've discovererd that I like running alone, but the Saturday group runs offer extra motivation, good running tips, and a sense of in-person community that I miss when I'm running alone. I've enjoyed following some of the Raleigh Gallowayers on Facebook in the off-season.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Work Meets Running

I'm running in the Run for the Oaks 5K tomorrow morning, and they have a corporate team competition. I stepped out on a limb and solicited other interested runners at the library. Now, three of us are going to brave the rain tomorrow morning in Raleigh! I'm excited! The rain will be a bit of an adventure, or at least a good story to tell later.

Last night I went to the Athlete's Foot at Cameron Village to pick up my race packet. The man behind the table made a comment that he recognized my name, that I must run a few races around here! :) I didn't mentioned that I'm a back-of-the-packer. TMI.

I picked up a new pair of running shoes while I was at the store, but I'll save them for after the rain.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Another Snow Day!

I've delighted in having a snow day today, one that was called by
work, so I've enjoyed puttering at home and going to the gym a little later. It's been a good "mental health" day for me, especially after battling the cold last week, and being concerned about some issues going on at church.

I'd been wanting to take pictures, but had a dead battery pack in my new (Christmas present) digital camera. I went online to check into buying a new battery pack, and something made me find the original box, which had a battery recharger--yay! So here are some pictures from behing our apartment this morning.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Another Biggest Loser Grrr Moment

The "Biggest Loser" contestant, Dane, who got voted off of last week's show, was taped "at home" completing a marathon with his wife in under four hours, impressive for anyone in my book, much less a first time marathoner! Well, it's been revealed since the airing of the show that they didn't actually run the whole marathon, but were picked up like three miles back and brought closer to the finish line to be taped running across the line and past the clock! Gosh, what a loser thing to do! I think I read it had something to do with needing to finish taping his marathon "journey," but that's not what he ended up running after being PICKED UP! They should've called it what it was, 23 miles of a marathon, instead of leading the viewers to believe he'd completed the whole thing. It's just another frustration to add to this past week's episode. Grrr!

Update: I read another online post about this issue and learned that something was wrong with the finish clock's lightbulbs, and Dane's finishing time was actually 5:53 instead of 3:53, and with a 6-hour time limit on the marathon course, the field producer wanted to tape Dane and family crossing the finish line while the (malfunctioning) clock was still up and running. Uh, so? Read more here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Losing Weight, Gaining Perspective

George and I watched the show, "The Biggest Loser," tonight. First, we watched what we'd taped from last night, and followed it with tonight's part 2. We agree that it's probably our favorite season yet, but I'm still starting to wiggle a bit about watching it. It some respects, it inspires me to see people successful at losing weight. I also enjoy watching some of the workouts for ideas of things to do in the gym.

On the other hand, the contestants are taking time off from work, family, and extracurricular responsibilities to exercise several hours a day and be around others 24/7 who have the same goals. And they're dissappointed with weight losses of 5 lbs. or less in a week! I was also ticked this week because the teams got shifted this week, and a lot of air time was given to trainer Bob and his team getting really emotional about it all, when they were STILL on the show, STILL getting to work out with a trainer and each other, with the same medical and nutritional supervision. Golly, where's the perspective?! It just got on my nerves a little tonight! Maybe I'm not enjoying the show as much as I used to.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Another Race Under My Belt

I've posted my race report for today's Coach Bubba 20K on my other blog! Check it out here. Afterward, George and I had a yummy lunch at the Mellow Mushroom. It had been ages since I'd had pizza, so it was fun to have the treat AND sit down for a while!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy President's Day

Although not an official holiday at Duke, I decided to take it as a vacation day. George was off, so I decided it would be a good day to take off as well. We've spent some time together, but we've also had some alone time; both have been refreshing.

I've gotten some reading and genealogy done since this morning's gym workout. I'm also trying to get my main Yahoo inbox down to zero, one of the Lifehacker tips I've been hearing about and finally decided to work on. My main Yahoo inbox currently has over 5000 emails in it, but I've moved or deleted about 200 emails already, and have worked my way back to November.. It's going to take me a while, I know, but I'm not giving up yet.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dinner at the Ronald McDonald House

This evening, I joined several other Junior League members at the Ronald McDonald House of Durham for our Extra Hands event, a short community service project that everyone in our Junior League chapter is required to do at some point throughout the year. This was my turn.

We had assignments to bring a crockpot of chili or baked potatoes to cook there. While the potatoes were cooking, the night manager showed us a short video about Durham's Ronald McDonald House, and afterward took us on a tour. I was so impressed, yet saddened to hear how many families they have to turn away every year. They're trying to raise $15 million to build a new facility in Durham that will be three times the size (much needed) of the current house, but the economic troubles of the nation have hit the Ronald McDonald House's fundraising efforts as well. This has really made an impression on me, because children just don't stop being sick with serious conditions that require hospitalization, and in some cases, longer term treatment.

After the tour, we joined the families in the dining room for dinner. Jenny and I sat with a little boy named Michael and his mother from Florida. I don't know what the boy's condition was (we enjoyed talking about other things--basketball, the weather), but after supper I saw him again with a face mask on. Another tug on the heart strings.

I wonder how I could help them. One thing I'm thinking about is using one of my races as a fundraiser, setting up an account through Firstgiving. Hmmm. I'll have to give some more thought to my big fall race this year.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Time Flies!

I've been much more aware of time lately, and it quickly it's going. At work, there are less than 5 months left in the fiscal year, so my group is starting to gear up for that.

On the running end of things, I can now say that my next big race, the Coach Bubba 20K, is next week, though it's a week and a half away, on Feb. 21. I'm not sure if I'm ready, but I'm going to go out and just do it! I have a good running base now, I think, and although I haven't run that distance since my half marathon, I've been close several times.

I continue to enjoy reading more these days, and wish I had more time for that. Sleep, work, time with George, and at least an hour of exercise every day. These things take time too. Who knew?!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Small World

This afternoon, I attended the retirement party of a coworker in the library. She'd worked her for 31 years, which amazes me! She was a hard worker and a dear lady, and I'll miss her. We worked in different departments and buildings, so I didn't see her everyday, but I always enjoyed talking to her.

I got to meet one of her sisters today, and that was a surprise as well as a highlight! This sister of the retiree is a nurse in Chapel Hill. As it happens, my father was referred to a physician in Chapel Hill, and this lady is one of several nurses who work for that doctor. She happened to be the one who helped my dad that day, so she met my mom as well. Well, my parents are very outgoing, and my mom is especially good at making connections with people, so it wasn't long before they all realized that the nurse's sister and I both worked for the same library, but in different departments! When Mom and Dad related this to me, they talked about how professional and nice this nurse was, and what good care she provided! I loved relating these good words about her sister to Onie the next day at work, and today I got to meet that nurse in person! It was a treat to thank her personally for taking such good care of my dad. :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Close to Home

The current economic awfulness is hitting closer and closer to home! Of course, it's already home, with food costs, gas prices--which are a bit better now, and other increases along the way. Now I'm learning of more and more people getting layed off from their jobs, people I know. That's making it all a lot more real for me. It's scary, to be sure. I am hopeful, though. I usully feel optimistic when a new administration starts. It'll be interesting to see how things go. Meanwhile, I hope job hunts go well, especially for the folks I know.

Last Sunday, George and I took a day trip to Emerald Isle, to see the new beach home of my sister and her husband. It's a beautiful home, which will be used as a rental property! I was so impressed by it! I took lots of pictures, but now the pictures won't export from my digital camera memory card to my laptop, and I'm not sure why. I've tried inserting the card several times (it'll only fit in one way), and tried restarting my computer and inserting the memory card again. No luck yet! Any advice would be appreciated! I hope to post pictures soon. It turned out to be a wonderful family gathering!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Snow Day!

I woke up to snow this morning! It's so pretty, and really refreshing to see.

I made it to the gym this morning to get my workout in, and it was fairly deserted. It reminded me of the Frozen 5K I ran on Saturday, when the temps were in the teens. Deteremined people there, both times.

George has decided to take a snow day, but I'm going to try to make it in. Part of me would love to stay home and watch Obama's Inauguration, but they're going to have it on there anyway. I'll catch bits and pieces. Work calls.

Wish me luck on the roads!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Addicted to Books

Last evening, after work, I went to another used bookstore, Nice Price Books on Broad St. in Durham. I've gotten several recommendations for it recently, including a couple of shout outs in the North Carolina group on (I'd posted a discussion on the boards there, asking people about their favorite NC bookstores, and Nice Price Books came up a few times.) So, I had to go and check it out.

I enjoyed the browsing experience there, and managed to walk away with just one book, a light mystery, this time. I went to two other used bookstores just this past weekend, Edward McKay's and the Readers Corner, both in Raleigh, and came away with eight books between the two stores.

You'd think I didn't have anything to read at home, huh?! Well, I happen to have plenty, so I don't know WHY I'm shopping for more books! Yikes!

Over the holidays, I decided to sign up for Amazon Prime, which offers free 2-day shipping for most items for an annual fee. Well, I did a ton of holiday shopping using that, and then I started ordering presents for myself! (Perhaps vacation meant a little too much free time on my hands!)

I did come to my senses a little bit, though, and decided to check the local public library to see if they had some of the titles on my growing Amazon Wishlist. I was in luck, and decided I'd start borrowing some books from the public library rather then buying everything I want to read! I got overzealous, though, and have ended up with a stack of library books with due dates! Ha! Nothing like a deadline to make me read, though, right? What I don't get to soon, I'll renew or turn back in. The most interesting ones will rise to the surface, and the rest can wait or just go back to the library.

MEANWHILE, I also have a slew of books from the library where I work, all of which came through my department and looked so interesting I decided to check them out too! They have a due date of the end of the year (unless they get recalled by another patron, or have a 4-week "New and Noteworthy" status). I have so many great books to read, and so little time! What's a girl to do?

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Last night, George and I finally watched the season premiere of "The Biggest Loser," which we taped last Tuesday night. We decided during last season of "The Biggest Loser" (which ended just a few weeks ago, actually) that committing two hours to television on a weekday night was a bit much for us, so we started taping the new season and saving it for weekend viewing. We were rather dismayed by the last season, thanks to a particular contestant and her conniving tactics to win the game (which she didn't), so I wasn't as excited about the new season as I'd been for previous seasons--and neither was George.

Well, the episode we watched last night, which introduced the newest contestants, was interesting! Not only do they have the heaviest female, the heaviest person (a man) on the show this go-around, they also have the oldest contestants this season, a married couple who are grandparents! There was an unexpected twist to the show, announced at the weigh-in. Every couple, except for the challenge winners and the weigh-in winners (two different couples), had to send one person in each couples team home! The other part of this interesting twist is that each person who got sent home will be able to return to the show in 30 days IF the other half of their couples team is still part of the show (hasn't been sent home from the game after a weekly weigh-in).

I think this is a fascinating and good turn of events for the show, and shoule serve as a great motivator for the contestants still playing the game! Wow!

I've been looking for some weight loss motivation of my own lately, which is part of why last night's "The Biggest Loser" episode really spoke to me. I've recently bought a couple of books on that very topic, and will be starting them soon. More later!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

10 on Tuesday: 10 Things I Want to Do in 2009

It's been a while since I've done one of the "10 on Tuesday" memes. This seems like a good one to do.

1) Run another half marathon.
2) Read more books.
3) Travel to more counties in North Carolina for my "North Carolina Odyssey Project" to visit and blog about all 100 counties in NC.
4) Run 1000 miles.
5) Take more pictures.
6) Watch less TV.
7) Cook at least 10 new recipes.
8) Research martial arts and decide which one, if any, I'd like to learn.
9) Take a yoga class.
10) Lose more weight.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Back to Work Tomorrow

It's back to work tomorrow, after a nice break. I didn't get everything on my to-do list done, but I made progress. I must admit, I am looking forward to returning to a routine. It's time.

Besides, I'm looking forward to catching up with my coworkers! It seems like it's been a while since I've seen the whole group. These days, I feel fortunate to have a job, and to have one that I like, with co-workers I enjoy.....

Bring Monday on! :)