Category Archives: Books

Mid-Week and Mid-Mileage

Welcome to Wednesday (deep sigh). Hope you are breezing through your week. My week has been busy and moving along pretty quickly. I’ve been enjoying reading some of the Boston Marathon recaps that bloggers have been posting already. Good for them – it just might have taken more than a month to finally post my recap. Oops.

It’s good old Wednesday and that means we’re halfway to the weekend and MAYBE for some, halfway through your training week. Now, if I had actually gotten up this morning to run, I could say that was me. But nope. Tired and slept right through my alarm. So after-work run, here I come. At least it’s not 90 degrees outside today. I still don’t know how the Boston Marathoners did it. Seriously, majorly impressed with any and all finishers.  

So far this week, which is lucky number week 13 of training, I logged an 8-mile run on Monday and 5 miles on Tuesday morning. Yup – you read that right. MORNING. I don’t know how it happened, but it was a beautiful thing. I mean, I really do LOVE running in the morning. It’s not too hot, it’s beautiful, the running areas are pretty clear, and I feel great afterwards. Come one – what’s not to love? Right – not being to drag myself out of bed.  It’s just so darn hard!

Yesterday I managed because I had happy hour plans after work. A few of my old colleagues and I tried a German Biergarten called Loreley on Rivington Street. Being that it was 80 degrees out yesterday and sunny, we obviously wanted some outdoor seating. This place did not disappoint. They have a decent sized back patio space with picnic tables. If you don’t mind possibly sharing your table with a random person or two, then you should be just fine.

(Source)

We had a few beers, snacked on some pretzels, ate a cheese plate (not very good), and a basket of pork meatballs with fries. It started to get a little crowded and loud as it got later, but nothing intolerable. Overall, I would definitely go back to this place. It’s pretty unnoticeable – you would never think to stop in just based on the exterior, but I recommend it!

In other news, I am currently reading “Real Food: What to Eat and Why” after reading a recommendation and I’m really liking it so far. I will definitely try to post a review on this one. Then next on the list is “Fifty Shades of Grey” for book club and I’ve heard a lot of mixed things. Should be interesting.

What are you reading right now? Any great recommendations? I think I am next on the book club list to select a book. Ohh the pressure – help!

 

 

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Book Review (Winter Garden) & Movie Review

Lately, it seems like I am just tearing through books. I tend to go through spurts like this every now and then. Typically, I’m not a very fast reader. Apparently finishing The Hunger Games so quickly, made me “hungry” for more reading ASAP. Hence this post will be filled with a book review and movie review.

Alas, no food or running will really be highlighted. I’m in a bit of slump there. I haven’t run at ALL since last Saturday’s 5k race.  I’m hoping that I’ll get a chance to do a longish run in Utica this weekend and find my running mojo.

So anyway – here goes my book review:

Winter Garden

By: Kristin Hannah

I approached reading this book in a tentative manner. First of all, I wasn’t too excited that I was going to be reading about winter at the very end of summer. I am ready for some fall weather, but didn’t want to jump right into winter.

Despite my trepidation, almost as soon I started reading Winter Garden, I was hooked. The initial setting is an apple orchard in western Washington state and Meredith is the narrator. I guess I connected immediately when she told the reader she had to start off her day with a run (okay, so morning really isn’t my favorite time to run, but I liked that the narrator was a runner in general).  From there, the story introduces us to her family: husband, Jeff; father, Evan; mother Anya; sister, Nina; and her two daughters. We begin to follow Meredith through life on the orchard and immediately notice a strange relationship with her mother.

Soon a tragedy occurs in the family, that bring Nina back home and forces Nina, Meredith and Anya (mother) to interact. The word “strained” does not do justice to how difficult it is for Nina and Meredith to connect with their mother. From there, we begin to hear a story within a story that helps to explain why Anya is the way she is. We are taken back to Russia during WWII and begin to understand the mystery that lies behind this cold, quiet woman.

At first I wasn’t sure about the story within the story and how it started off. It was difficult to grasp where it was going, who it was about and what the point was the first few times it was interjected. But slowly the “mystery” of the fable begins to unfold and the reader begins to understand the implication and what we need to gather from the story to proceed with the exterior family story.

Mid-way through this book I was completely invested. I really enjoyed it and wanted to learn more about this family, the mother’s secret, and what happened in Russia. The glimpse into Russian life at that time was especially interesting and engaging.

If you are interested in reading this book, please realize it might take some time to get into the story and connect with the characters, but it will happen. I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it.

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And now on to a movie review….

Just Go With It

This netflix movie had been sitting next to our t.v. for over a month. Although we’ve been very busy, I also just wasn’t that excited to watch this movie. I’m not even sure why I added it to our list. It stars Jennifer Anniston, Adam Sandler and Brooklyn Decker. I knew this was going to be cheesy and potentially unbearable before we even started it.

The beginning part of the movie shows Adam Sandler with a GIANT fake nose and we see how/why he becomes so disillusioned with women and relationships. Then  it fast forwards to him being a plastic surgeon and Jennifer Anniston being his assistant.

Let me pause to say that I think Jennifer has most definitely had some facial work done and I don’t like it one bit! No lines, no wrinkles – it’s starting to look bad. She’s moving in the direction of her friend, Courtney Cox, and that is NOT a compliment. I hope she stops. I still like her.

Anyway, back to the movie. It was NOT nearly as intolerable as I thought it would be. I admit that I have a soft spot for both Jennifer and Adam, even though they’ve both made some terrible movies in the past. But for some reason, they seemed to have a decent chemistry in this movie. I believed that they probably did really joke around a lot when the cameras turned off.

As for Brooklyn Decker – a superb actress she is not. But I didn’t hate her. And then there was a totally unexpected cameo from Nicole Kidman and Dave Matthews. Totally random and appreciated. I miss Nicole.

Getting back on track. I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. I didn’t hate it and actually found myself laughing quite a bit. The ending is predictable, but I got past it and was able to enjoy the movie overall. Not a total hit, but not a complete waste of time either.

Have you seen any good movies lately? Give me your suggestions! Next on my list are Limitless and Bridesmaids (no, I can’t believe I haven’t seen it!!). I also just bought the book One Day, so that I can eventually watch the movie with Anne Hathaway.

Book Club, Race for Hope and a Baby Shower

Busy – that is the word to best describe my past week. Coming back from a long weekend (Labor Day) is always tough because it means squeezing a ton of work into four days.

But as busy as things were, I had to take time out to go to book club on Thursday night. We meet monthly and are each responsible for selecting a book for our month. This past month, we read The Hunger Games and you can check out my review here. But the first book was soo good, that most of us read the second and third book as well. Every month, we also try to choose a restaurant that goes along with the theme of our book. This month we thought it would be kind of tough, but turns out that Korean BBQ was the perfect choice! We went to Yakiniku West in the East Village. And soon it was time to cook our meat and veggies, just like Katniss did in The Hunger Games – okay… well kind of.

It was a great choice. We split four entrees, a few appetizers and several pitchers of beer and it was still very affordable and delicious!

With Thursday over, it was time to head upstate again on Friday evening. We drove up to Albany and got there in time to watch my cousins play in the CBA vs. Albany football game. CBA crushed them. I headed home early and went to bed because I had a race the next morning!

On Saturday morning, I ran the Race for Hope in Slingerlands, NY with a few friends. I can’t say it was the most organized thing in the world. They had one person working the table where they were handing out the tags, so the race started about 15 minutes late. But regardless, we were off and running. The course was a little hilly and pretty suburban, but it flew by.

According to my Garmin, I finished the 5k in 23:52. Not my fastest, not my slowest. That’s fine, I’ll take it!

After the race, we “raced” home to shower and get ready for a friend’s baby shower. I didn’t have my camera with me, so I have no photos from the shower, but I’m hoping friends will send a few my way. We had a gorgeous day for the shower, which was outside, and it was a lot of fun. Lots of food, fun baby stuff, ginormous CUPCAKES, and a very pregnant friend who looked fabulous. Seriously, she is eight months pregnant and so very mobile and comfortable looking.

After the shower, I headed to Clifton Park to spend the evening at another friend’s new house. She moved in about a month ago and already it’s looking pretty good. Know what else looked good? The mounds of food we brought…

…and devoured. We had so many awesome snacks, that we didn’t even end up needing to make the actual dinner foods that were prepared. To be honest, sometimes I prefer that. I love appetizers and snacks.

The night was filled with lots of laughs, girl talk, wedding talk, baby talk, and almost anything you can think. We go off on some serious tangents when we get together.

On Sunday it was time to head back to NYC, but not before stopping at Lindsey’s Country Store for some freshly picked apples and apple cider. It’s such a cute little store and I love it because they spell my name right!

We bought some gala and honeycrisp apples. Is there anything better in the fall?

And lastly, I will leave you with what we came home to on Sunday night…

Such a teaser – as soon as you go over and try to smush his stomach he tries to attack you. He’s sneaky like that.

What are you most looking forward to as fall approaches? I am torn between fall clothes, delicious fall flavored coffees, foliage, our wedding anniversary and apples. If you couldn’t tell – fall is my favorite season!

Book Review: Room

I have been delinquent in blogging. We got back from Maine (awesome trip) and I have yet to post any of my gorgeous pictures or share what we did. It’s coming, I promise. Plus, then there was a hurricane, so things have been a little crazy lately.

But in the meantime, I figured I would share with you another book review. I seem to be on quite the roll this summer – just devouring books left and right. Ok – in all fairness, they aren’t long or difficult books, but still, I secretly smiled last night when Hubby called me a big nerd. 🙂 Now for my review of Room

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Room

By: Emma Donoghue

I had heard about “Room” a looong time ago from a few different people. It was always on my list of books to read, but I never got around to buying it. And then thankfully one day my mom lent it to me. As I finished “The Hunger Games”, I decided to try to take a break before diving into the next book in the series “Girl on Fire.” So I picked up “Room” and started to read it.

Now I know I said I had heard about the book before, but I was not at all prepared for the story really. I don’t want to give too much away for people who have not read it, so I will sum it up by saying that a young woman (no name ever given) is trapped an 11×11 room and ends up having a baby while there. The baby (Jack) then grows up knowing nothing but his life in that room. The story develops and grows from there – that’s all I can really say.

Yes, it sounds weird. And it is. When I first started the book, I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue reading. But I stuck it out and I’m very glad I did. The story and the characters drew me in and pretty soon I couldn’t put it down. I began hoping the story would move in the direction I wanted – almost willing it to go that way. And although I found several things strange in the book, overall I really enjoyed it.

Again, it’s weird to say I enjoyed this book. And you won’t understand what I mean until you read it. It’s a book that is hard to enjoy in many ways. I guess I will say that I’m glad I read it – that seems more appropriate. And although the fact that it is narrated by a child initially put me off a bit, I quickly adapted to the style and then began to really like it.

Overall, “Room” is an emotionally charged, intense and unique book. I whole-heartedly recommend it, with the caveat that the reader must be prepared to be jolted a bit. But it is certainly a story you will never forget.

Book Review: The Hunger Games

I waited what felt like FOREVER to read this book. One of the girls in our book club mentioned early on that she was choosing it as her book, but I totally forgot she was sooo late in the year. The waiting was horrendous.

But when I finally did pick up the first book in this series by Suzanne Collins, it was all over. As I expected, I could NOT put it down. And although some people may consider this a teen or tween read, I’m not 100% sold. First of all, I’m not entirely sure about young kids reading a book that focuses solely on the annihilation of other human beings. And before you get all up in arms, I completely understand the underlying political and humanitarian theme of the book–I realize that it is not being condoned. Just saying that if I had a kid, I’d think twice before letting him/her read a book all about killing other kids for sport.

But I digress. Back to my point – this book is thrilling. I am a huge John Irving fan. And what, might you ask, does he have to do with this book? After hearing Irving speak in person twice, he extolled the long-lost virtues of PLOT in a book. To many reader’s today, plot is seen as a negative word – one that diminishes the poignancy and message of the novel, making it simply an easy, mindless read.

Not so! I completely agree with Irving’s point of view that plot is essential in a story, maybe even more so today than ever before. A good plot can help get across your message in many ways. And in today’s world where attention spans are miniscule, a gripping plot is a savvy device to use.

The Hunger Games is ALL plot. And that’s probably why it’s such a page-turner, has been so successful, and completely wraps you into the book. The plot is highly developed and strategic. You know what is going on almost from the first few pages and continue to expect the worst. This plot-induced dread and, yes even fear, force you to tear through the pages at light speed to find out what will happen next.

I started this book on a Tuesday and finished it late on Thursday night. I skipped running, turned off the T.V., sped through meals and stayed up all hours of the night to finish this book.

So maybe you think these are kid books, or just easy reading, but I really enjoyed this book and think it deserves appropriate props. It was really good, well-written, and so utterly engaging. And at the end of the day, scrap all my concerns about it being inappropriate because of the violence. If it can tear kids away from their video games and DS’s for a while, then that is a win in my eyes.

All in all – I suggest you run, don’t walk, to buy these books and “devour” them.

Midweek with a Movie Review

How is it Thursday? This week is FLYING by. I last posted on Tuesday and really wanted to get back into the swing of any everyday post, but not happening. The good news is that we’ve made it over the mid-week hump and I’ve actually managed to get some running in.

Tuesday – no running to speak of. I’m pretty sure that was the day I attempted to run in the morning before work (a plan my husband laughs at whenever he hears it), but of course I just hit snooze instead. Seriously people – how do you do it? Unless I am meeting someone, I just can NOT seem to get up and run. It could have to do with the fact that a morning run for me means running at 5:45 a.m., which to my mind is CRAZY early. If I could run at 6:30, things might look a little different. But because of my work schedule, it has to be that early. ARGH!

So seriously – tell me your early morning running tricks. I think next time I may try sleeping in my running clothes. I believe this might instill a more pronounced sense of guilt if I’ve worn the clothes and done all the prep, only to hit the snooze five times. We’ll see how that works out for me. Other tips?

So because  I did not get my lazy arse up on Tuesday morning (or Wednesday), I decided to squeeze my run in before our book club meeting Wednesday evening. I fueled up with a decent lunch and then ate an early dinner of leftovers from Tuesday night.

Brown rice, chicken, grape tomatoes, mushrooms and carrots with low sodium soy sauce. It made for decent pre-run fuel on Wednesday afternoon as well.

After work I begrudgingly hit the gym treadmill for four quick miles before book club. An outside run would have been ideal, but not realistic given my time constraints.

Run done – feeling better, I headed to our book club meeting which happened to at a movie theater this time around (we usually meet at a restaurant that coincides with our book theme) to see The Help. I actually read The Help awhile ago and you can check out my book review here.

I will say upfront that I RARELY like a movie even half as much as the book. So I was a little surprised when halfway through the movie, I found myself enjoying it. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked the book better. But the movie did not make me want to scream insults or get up and leave. And before you say it sounds like I really didn’t like it. I truly did. I just won’t ever give a movie as much credit as a book, no matter how well-scripted and acted it is. The movie reel in my mind that goes along with the book is always 10 times better.   

Anyway…it was good. I love Emma Stone (like in a serious girl crush kind of way) and I think I’ve seen just about every move she’s been in. I do need to see the other new one she is in with Steve Carrell and Ryan Gosling though – it’s on my list.

To summarize this travesty of a movie review, I will finish by saying it’s a good movie, I thoroughly enjoyed it, thought the acting was great and I recommend it.

So now it’s Thursday evening and it’s time for what I hope will be a delightful run in exceptionally tolerable weather, a delicious dinner (there may be corn-on-the-cob on the menu), perhaps reading a bit of The Hunger Games (just started it, sooooo good), and then if I’m being completely honest…probably some Jersey Shore. 🙂 Have a great night all!

Finally, Here Are My 7 Links

So this was kind of a time-consuming post–hence it took me a while to get it all together and up. It involved going back through the past almost two years of posts to select the ones I thought fit best into the 7 categories. I’m just going to jump right in…

Most Beautiful
I don’t know that I would really call any of my posts “beautiful.” I don’t really get very sentimental or poetic on my blog. It’s all pretty cut and dry, with maybe a dash of cynicism and humor. That being said, there is a tie for this category. My Relfections on 2009 post was surprisingly touching to re-read over a year later. It was really nice to look back on 2009 and see all the amazing times we had. You forget about all the events, anniversaries and family moments that were very special.

The second one would be my “Back from Ireland” recap post because the pictures were absolutely gorgeous and we had a beautiful time. I kind of skimped on the recap because I was too exhausted to go through each and every day. But the overall photo recap was amazing.

Most Popular
So this one was immediately evident to me. It was my Poconos Marathon Race Recap. I started my blog just after finishing my first marathon and I quickly decided to run another one and announced it to the blog world. I also announced my HUGE goal that I wanted to try to qualify for Boston. EEK! But once I put it out there, I was more determined than ever. Over the course of the next 6 months, I received so much advice and encouragement from a ton of people online that I kind of knew that my race recap would be my “grand finale” and culmination of all my hard work. The thought of all these people who tried to help me and inspired me really made me push to my limit during the race. And thankfully, I did it. My Poconos Marathon Race Recap was by far my most popular post on my blog to-date. And I still look back to read all the wonderful and supportive comments.

Most Controversial
This one was tough for me. It was a toss-up between my “To Eat Meat of Not to Eat Meat” post and my “Yucky Yogurt” post where I said that I was not a fun of the Yoplait Greek Yogurt–neither the taste or ingredients. In the end, I guess I’ll go with the yogurt post because Yoplait actually contacted me with a coupon to try their new redeveloped and relaunched yogurt a few months later. And if a blog post can get the attention of a company, then I’ll go ahead and dub that controversial.

Most Helpful
Easy one to pick. My “How I Got My BQ” post is without a doubt my most helpful post. People consistently find my blog through this post and have contacted me to thank me for my advice and candid words on the topic of qualifying. I talk about working on speed, tracking your pace, increasing your mileage and paying attention to your food, among other things. I still look back at this post when I find my endurance and speed decreasing and need to pick things up a notch.

Surprise Success
There have been a few posts that received a lot of comments and feedback that have surprised me. I guess the one with the most comments was the “Where Did All The Food Go?” post, where I talked about how shocked I am by the amount of food my husband and I consume in a short timeframe and how much it costs! A lot of people could relate. This post also included a recap of “Angela’s Ashes” so there were a lot of comments for that as well. Overall, it seemed to be a post that many people could relate to and were interested enough to comment.

Not Enough Attention
I don’t know about this one. Who am I to say that I think any of my posts really deserve more (or any) attention? I’m not going to get all serious with this one. Instead, I am going to say that my post “You Know You’re a Winter Runner When…” deserves more attention because I thought it was kind of funny and I really wanted to hear other people’s “you know you’re a winter runner” stories and commentary. I love these kind of posts that point out the hysterical but oh-so-true and ridiculous things about ourselves. I should write more of them… 🙂 Do I see a new blog post forming?! 🙂

Most Proud
I’ll say it yet, again, easy – my “2011 Boston Marathon Race Recap” is the post I am most proud of. I started this blog basically because I had this goal in my head and didn’t know how to get there. I think writing this blog really helped me get there and kept me on track and accountable. It helped me achieve one of my life goals and I am forever grateful. This post also marked my “return” to the blog world after a long hiatus, so I’m doubly proud and thankful I wrote it.


In conclusion – thank you again for tagging me Katie. It was a very nice trip down memory lane. Now I know the rules state that I have to tag other bloggers to post their 7 links, but let’s cut me a little break – ok? I am just returning to blogging, hardly anyone is reading my blog, and the chances that anyone will see this and then post their 7 links is slim to none. So instead, I will say – if you are a blogger and you have NOT been tagged to do this yet, then consider yourself tagged – courtesy of me. But don’t blame me when you lose half your day working on this post. 🙂

Question of the Day: If you’ve done your 7 links, how much time did you spend on it? And did you enjoy your trip down memory lane? Can’t imagine those bloggers with years and years of posts – how did you choose?!!