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Holidays Are in the Air

So I’ve been slacking on the posting but I decided to take a week or so off during my vacation from work for myself. I wanted to spend time with friends and family without taking time out to write blog posts. It was purely selfish, but I really think it was needed. It’s help me re-evaluate what I want to write about and ideas to make our little corner of the internet better. While I’m a week late her are my Christmas recaps.

Christmas Celebration #1 – With Darren’s Family

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Before Darren and I headed to his families house for Christmas we exchanged gifts before hand. I got the bike (which I took for a spin for the first time this weekend), a Adele live DVD, dark chocolate of the world (from Trader Joes) and a few other small things hidden in my stocking. Darren’s gifts from me were of no surprise either since he practically hand picked them without knowing for sure if he was getting them. He got a watch, new running shoes and some Irish chocolate. I’d say we did a great job with the gift exchange this year. Most of the gifts were practical and we would get TONS of use out of. Those are my favorite kinds.

This Christmas at Darren’s families house is  the first time I’ve been away from my family for Christmas and it was a bit odd for me. Everyone has their own traditions and way they celebrate and it was interesting to see how another family does it. We attended a party on Christmas eve at a family friends house after having dinner all together.

Christmas day we woke up bright and early and opened gifts, had coffee and breakfast before everyone hide out and relaxed as preparations for Christmas dinner approached. Me and Darren watch Band of Brothers, which I’ve seen before. I LOVE this HBO series. It’s well done from the story, to the cast, to the visuals and so forth. If you are like me and are interested in WWII this is a must see.

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I was in charge of bringing sweets, which was right up my alley. I made a variety of things which of course I HAD to taste test. I made peppermint bark, Oreo cheesecake truffles (which Darren’s dad LOVED), Puppy Chow, English Toffee and brought some dark chocolate shortbread cookies. Phew that sounds like a lot when I write it down but didn’t feel like too much when making it all. Everyone ate most of it which is good because I didn’t want any coming back to my house. 🙂

Although it was odd to not be with my family on Christmas eve/day I enjoyed the holiday knowing that in less than a week I would get to celebrate with my family, including my brother who got time off from the Navy to come.

Christmas Celebration #2 – With My family

I took the week off work the week after Christmas. It was much needed and I’m itching for another one on my first day back to the office. My parents and brother came to good old San Francisco to celebrate together for Christmas on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Even though it was a week later it wasn’t weird or odd at all. The tree multiplied in gifts once my parents arrived.

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My mom is the kind of person that listens all year and stocks up on stuff throughout the entire year. She is really good at getting things you wouldn’t normally buy yourself but could really use. There were so many gifts, big and small. As was to be expected (knowing my mom) she got me and Darren several things for our apartment including a sweet new rice cooker, stacking mugs, and glasses. We also got some great individual gifts. I’m EXCITED that I got the Garmin I’ve been pining for and the curling iron – hopefully it will curl my hair. I also got some new running gear which is a great motivator to keep running.

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But more important than the material items are the time I got to spend with friends and family. My family very rarely gets together. My parents live 3+ hours north of me and my brother is in the Navy stationed out of state. I think the last time we were all together was over a year ago when my brother moved to where he is stationed. It was nice to get together, chat, see each other and just enjoy ourselves. We ate, we drank, we were merry and may have even watched a UFC fight – per my brother’s request. It was a great reminder what’s important and how much spending time with people is WAY more important than any material gift.

I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday season – no matter what you celebrate!

Holiday Wish List

If anyone has been hiding under a rock and didn’t know – the holiday season is literally on top of us. Good thing I was productive this year and finished all my Christmas shopping with a week or so to spare. In previous years, I’ve been one of THOSE people running around frantically on the eve of Christmas with an entire list still. It’s not pretty at all. I actually like being done early and can focus on better things like all the desserts and treats I need to make for Christmas.

On actual Christmas I’ll be celebrating with Darren’s family in Petaluma. It will be a little weird not spending it with my family but I get to have a belated celebration with them the following week. My brother is in the Navy and that’s the time he could get off. So I get two celebrations, be jealous!

Here is what was on my wish list this year. Cross your fingers for me and hope that Santa delivers them all to me.

Garmin 405

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This is #1 on my list because one of my goals for the year is to have better, more effective workouts and being able to identify my heart rate, etc. would make that a much more measurable thing. I dropped MANY hints to my parents. Hopefully they heard me, and saw the e-mails I sent. I’m not obvious or anything…

Bike

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I really want a bike because I haven’t had one in so long. I have really been liking getting out of the gym for my runs and walks and would love to add biking to that. I detest sitting on the cardio machines at the gym for anything over 20 minutes. I get insanely bored and lose motivation. I can recite by memory the rules sign in the gym because for my treadmill workouts that’s all I can stare at as I think “is this torture over yet?”. I know I already got this since it’s sitting in our dinning room. Darren isn’t sneaky and didn’t even try to hide it. Instead I got to pick it out. It’s purple and pretty. Picture to come soon.

Curling Wand

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I have naturally thick and curly hair. I straighten it a lot and its hard to get it to curl the way I want. A few of my friends have used this and swear by it. I really want to give it a try but it’s not something I would buy for myself. I’ve bought myself a curling iron and hot rollers in the past and been sadly disappointed.

Weight Set

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I don’t have any free weights at home and would love some. Sometimes getting my butt to the gym is a feat in its own. It would be nice to have a set where I can do some working out in my living room opposed to the extra steps of walking to my car, driving to the gym, and all that mess. I can look a mess and get my workout on in the comfort of my apartment.

Harry Potter boxed sets (movies and books)

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I’ve never owned any of the books and always borrowed them. I joined the bandwagon late (last year) and fell in love with these and read the entire series in like a little under 2 weeks. I’ve seen all the movies and would LOVE to add both boxed sets to my collection so I can watch/read them over and over again. I’m still in denial its over. I like having everything in a nice box and did the same with my Twilight books and am waiting to do the same with the movies. Yes I like these books and I won’t deny it.

These are my top things. I have numerous DVDs, books, and the like on my wish list too. But more importantly I get to spend time with family and friends. Gifts are fun but not the most important thing. I hope everyone has a happy holiday season and enjoys not only the gifts but the time they get to spend with their loved ones!

Are bears really thirsty?

This past week was busy and uneventful for the most part. I took a day to do absolutely nothing but sit at home, watch movies, cross things off my to-do list, etc. It was a day of lazy glory. I loved it and needed it. I haven’t done it in so long I forgot how fantastic it was to do NOTHING. I might need to do it more often.

But this past weekend I did none of that. I was out and about trying to wrangle up a few last minute gifts, enjoy a birthday celebration and have friends over for dinner. Did I mention I had a HUGE mountain of laundry I had to fit in there. No one wants to hear about my dirty clothes so I’ll spare the details because they aren’t pretty.

On saturday night we had dinner plans with a big group of friends for a birthday celebration. The birthday girl picked the place and we all met up.

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We went to the ThirstyBear in San Francisco. It’s a brewery that serves Spanish tapas. I’m not a huge tapas person because they are generally over priced for what you get. But this place wasn’t too bad. Darren and I decided to split two items since we weren’t too hungry. We probably made the two best decisions EVER.

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I’d like to introduce you to bocadillos. These bad boys are mini-burgers made from a mix of pork, lamb and beef with a caper aioli, slice of hard boiled egg and the tastiest bun. They were served with a fingerling potato salad that was all right. The real star of this meal was the mini-burgers (most people call them sliders). They were a little rarer than I usually like  my burger but it didn’t matter at all because once I took a bite I forgot all about the pink meat and only enjoyed the mix of flavors in my mouth. I’ve never had a burger with any type of egg except a fried one but boy was the boiled egg a nice touch. Mmmm.

Our second choice was by far our favorite. The burgers were good and had a nice flavor but the flavor in this soup won hands down. I will definitely be re-creating this chorizo, lentil, bacon and kale soup. The flavors all went together perfectly. It had just the right amount of seasoning and spice and was not at all overwhelming or too much of one thing. I can’t explain it any other way but to say it was absolutely delish! I’ve only tried lentils this year and have quickly fallen head over heels in love with them.

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I’m not a huge beer drinker so I didn’t try much of the beer. I sipped a friends Golden Vanilla beer which had a hint of vanilla which was actually quite good. I also split a Polar Bear Pilsner with Darren simply because I liked the name. It was pretty tasty and refreshing. I’m not a beer connoisseur so I can’t give you much more in depth info than that.

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One thing I took note of and really like about this place is that it’s the only SF certified organic brewery. I thought that was really interesting and cool.  “ThirstyBear offers the beer drinker traditional beers, unique interpretations of traditional beers and wholly unique beers. Our ingredients must respect our earth and our bodies. Thus we are San Francisco’s first and only CCOF certified organic brewery. Our beers are good for you and growing those grains and hops did not pollute the earth or the farm workers with chemicals, pesticides and petroleum based fertilizers.”

Anna’s great job at her 5k on this past Saturday inspired me and I’m signed up for my first one on January 15th. I’m not much of runner but am trying to get better at it and improve not only my distance but my time. So here goes nothing on my first attempt. I’m off to the gym for a little cross training and some leg work to get them burning.

* I was not compensated for this review. These are my own opinions about a restaurant I went to on my own accord and paid for out of my own wallet. *

Walnut Creek 5K

As a part of my half marathon training I decided to sign up for a few races to keep me motivated and on track with my training. This past Saturday I participated in the Walnut Creek 5K (there was also the half and 10K).

The night before the race I got my stuff organized since it was going to be an early morning for us. It’s about a 30 minute drive from SF, so we had to be up around 6AM.

We stopped at Starbucks on the way to grab something warm.

I didn’t realize how cold it was going to be. When we left SF at 6:45 it was 50 degrees outside. It was 32 degrees in WC. I am so happy I brought my North Face fleece. Originally, I was going to wear it up until the race started, but I couldn’t get warm so I ran the whole race wearing it.

My awesome husband who stood out in the 32 degree weather for an hour supporting me. Poor guy, lucky me 🙂 He ended up surprising me at the finish line. Talk about motivation. I sprinted past a few people in the last leg (and I thank Robert for that!)

I ended up finishing in 29:40 with a 9:33 pace. I finished 80/401 overall and 36/270 for the women. For my half marathon training plan they have me training at an 11 min pace, so I am happy with the results.

After the race we went to our favorite little breakfast place called Sunrise Bistro to get some hot tea/coffee and food. I didn’t take any photos, but I got a pot of tea, two poached eggs with tomatoes and toast and Robert got coffee and a breakfast burrito. Yum!

Did anyone else have a race this weekend? How did it go?

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