Whew. Hi. It’s been a bit crazy around here for the past two weeks. I’ve been meaning to put some thoughts to paper, but I haven’t quite had the time or inclination. Buckle up or maybe drink some more coffee — this is long and slightly picture-heavy.
FIRST, in the week after the half marathon, I was focused on finalizing decor and details for a dear friend’s baby shower that I was co-hosting. Due to some unexpected planning and logistics twists (the party site had to be moved last minute to accommodate the work emergency of another co-host), it was a stressful and busy lead-in week! BUT, I had taken on the decor and desserts, and it was a really fun process in a lot of ways. I’ve been wanting to stretch my Martha Stewart muscles for a while, and this was the perfect opportunity. The new party room was beautiful, and really made the perfect backdrop for everything.
I focused on DIY options, both because they’re fun for me, and because I knew the mom-to-be’s style lent itself well to this kind of whimsical, Anthropologie-inspired decor. Decorations included:
- Fun, homemade tassel garland (tutorial)
- Hanging flowers made out of paper lunch bags, and dusted with gold and copper spray paint (tutorial)
- Polka dot garland, for which T was recruited to cut out probably 100 circles of various sizes. His efforts netted him some leftover fried chicken and cookies. (tutorial)
- Handmade, Dollar Store cake stands for the cookies and cupcakes [Side note: I was a little concerned about their durability, but I dropped one of these twice, and it was totally fine, so… yea. I also didn’t put the actual cake on one of these because a) I was nervous about cutting it and tipping it over; and b) it would have been impossible to transport.] (tutorial)
- Milk glass flower holders with decorative ribbon trim (also from Dollar Tree)
- Homemade penant-style banners made from construction paper and twine (tutorial – rather than the foldover style of attachment, I punched holes and threaded the twine)
- And the coup-de-grace? I surprised the mom-to-be with a life-sized, cardboard cut-out of her beloved corgi, who didn’t make the 5hr drive with her. I worked with her husband to get a good picture, and her tears made the whole thing worthwhile. (No formal tutorial, I just trimmed a life-sized color photo of the pup from Kinkos, glued it to some foam board, trimmed around it with an exacto knife, and attached triangle legs to the back with foam board scraps and double-sided foam tape. The tutu was a shower gift for the mom-to-be from her sister that we obviously had to put on Pup2.0.)
- My new, go-to sugar cookies (Basic Rolled Sugar Cookies recipe) with a meringue buttercream icing (recipe). The frosting dries hard enough to stack/transport, doesn’t bleed very much at all, and still gives you the soft bite of buttercream.
- Strawberry layer cake made with fresh strawberries, including a strawberry puree between the layers (recipe), with a homemade, vanilla buttercream frosting (recipe), and decorated with some leftover meringue buttercream from the cookies. (I was going to make a cake banner, but I found this cute one at Michaels for $1, so I went with it.)
- Yellow cupcakes (mom suggested Betty Crocker’s Super Moist Yellow mix as a favorite) with homemade, chocolate buttercream and sprinkles. (I followed the same recipe as the vanilla buttercream, but substituted some of the powdered sugar for some hot cocoa packets I had – it worked, thankfully.)
The day before and of the shower were both unusually hot, so the frosting melted a bit more than I would have liked, but everything tasted awesome, so I’m ok with some melting.
SECOND, my best friend in the whole world had a baby. Our little friend circle was group texting with her while she was in labor, which is basically my favorite thing about living in 2016. Seeing her as a new mom is incredible, and awe-inspiring, and I couldn’t be more excited and happy for their new little family. Also, baby toes and hands will be the end of me.
THIRD, Todd and I celebrated a year together in the best ways we knew how: being active and glutinous. Beautiful (charitable) flowers arrived at work [Flowers For Dreams donates 25% of each month’s profits to a different charity], and we celebrated the actual day with a track workout, chased by awesome burgers and beer. Our “formal” celebration that weekend included an amazing meal at North Pond. And, as everyone does, we chased that Michelin star-meal with a slightly hungover 5k…
We decided to do the Ravenswood Run as it’s a fun, banner race here in Chicago; and as it was celebrating an anniversary of its own (20th year!), it only seemed appropriate. T and I have a shared love of racing and being active, and we couldn’t think of a better way to cap off a great year. As I hadn’t been focused on shorter distances, I didn’t expect to PR this race (it currently stands at 23:35, or a 7:35 pace, from last summer), but he wanted to shoot for a PR-worthy sub-25, so that’s exactly what we did. The race was a little warm, but great weather. I made the mistake of taking Nuun on-course (yuck – nope), and wanted to barf in the finishing chute, which is as it should be in a 5k. All in all, it was fun to play the rabbit, and cheering T through the finish line was really gratifying. It’s not easy to learn how to “embrace the hurt” of shorter distances, and accept that the pain is finite, which is essential to dropping those times. I was so proud of him for staying on my hip, and pushing when things felt hard. Watching him start that journey is exciting, and I’m pumped to see where he takes his tri season this year!
Moving Forward: This race kicks off a season of shorter distances for me. So far, we have another 5k this weekend, a 10k trail race (me)/sprint distance trail triathlon (him) weekend extravaganza in June, and another 10k in July. There are a handful of other 5k and 8ks in that time that may end up on the schedule as well. This summer, I’m really looking forward to seeing my 10k PR fall (currently stands at 49:33, or 7:58 pace), as I haven’t tried my hand at the distance for almost 3 years (wut). We got a free OrangeTheory class at the race, and upon advice from some friends, I looked into Pelaton cycling class options at Studio Three. I’m hoping to check those out and write some more cross-training reviews. Next immediate step is putting together some training thoughts for these shorter distances. Anyone have any plans they love?
Public Service Announcement
Buy these spicy maple bourbon pickles at Target and up your Bloody Mary or sandwich game. Write me and tell me how they’ve changed your life – I’ll be waiting uncomfortably on the edge of my seat.