Friday, December 28, 2012

Merry Wordless - A Postal "Thank you"

Heart of Haiti ornament I won on Jaime's blog
What was your favorite part of Christmas?  Mine is that its not over yet - I still have Christmas with my family tomorrow night!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Aftermath

bliss in a cup courtesy of the in-laws
unpacking Christmas #1
Still waiting on Christmas #2

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Day

Jay is the train engine & I'm the caboose!
Only I didn't bring the hangers to WV with us.

Jay's on the left, mine on the right
courtesy of his parents
Athens, Ohio
2 libraries
30 bars
Mitten gloves FTW!
The year of the slippers

Monday, December 24, 2012

Office Christmas Party


Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Survey

Borrowed these questions from Bari, who borrowed it from someone else.

1. Favorite Christmas Album/CD/Song:
Kenny & Dolly's.  And the Alabama Christmas album.  and the Chipmunk album.  My mom still has all 3 records.  We use to listen to them every December.  She even got me the CD for Christmas a few years ago.
2. Run on Christmas morning or take the day off?
I'll probably take it off.  We've got to head back from West Virginia (duty calls on the 26th), so our day is limited, but I do hope to get at least 1 run on the treadmill while visiting Jay's family.
3. What do you usually eat on Christmas morning?
Cereal.  Growing up we were always in a toot to get our presents opened at the house, everything cleaned up, and be ready to go to my Mamaw & Papaw's house at noon.
4. Favorite holiday or Christmas tradition?
Christmas eve candlelit communion at church, followed by steaks and "Justus" potatoes for dinner.
5. Real tree, fake tree, or no tree?
I have 2 fake trees, but I love the real deal.  I'm allergic, so I'd be paying for a real tree the whole month.  I always buy a tree-smelling candle and light it in the evenings to get the same effect without the allergens.
6. Christmas pajamas, yay or nay?
Nope, never.  Although I love me some cute jammie pants.  Maybe this is a tradition I should start??
7. Where do you spend the holidays?
Every other year we go visit Jay's family in West Virginia.  When we're home, we spend Christmas morning just the 2 of us, then head to my Mamaw & Papaw's for lunch.  Christmas Eve is spent at my parents house for dinner.
8. Food that you always have during the holiday season/favorite Christmas treat?
FUDGE!! My mom makes the best, most yummy fudge in the world.   She makes both chocolate and peanut butter.  I have to be forced to share it with Jay.
9. Open presents all at once or take turns?
Take turns.  The only exception is if my sister and I got the same present from our parents, then we'd open them together.
10. Favorite Christmas(ish) movie?
What about you?  Care to join us and do your own blog?  Or just answer one in the comments.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Wordless for a Week

Over at Average Moms Wear Capes - Christie is going wordless for the entire week of Christmas.  From the 24th through the 28th she's posting only pictures of her week, and inviting others to do the same.  She'll even have a link up if you want to snoop blog hop and take a peak into how others spend their holidays.

I've got a busy weekend ahead, including some travel, so the 24th and 25th will be pictures I've already snapped in the days leading up to Christmas, but I promise to share pictures of the the holiday itself the last 3 days of the week.
How 'bout you? Want to join us for a week of celebrating Christmas with a pictorial view of your life?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Goal Review

At the beginning of the year, I declared "2012 is the year of the PR" and it was.  The only distance I didn't PR at was the 10K distance...but only because I didn't run it! 

I actually decided back in April my 2013 goal would be a sub 2 hour half marathon.  The realistic-ness of that goal was solidified in October when I ran my half in 2:07.  Some work at the distance and I know a sub 2 hour is doable.

Right now I have my eye  on a couple of different halfs.  I'm already signed up for the Covenant Health Knoxville {half} Marathon.  I ran the whole course this year for a 26.2 PR.  The Saturday morning training runs make for good encouragement not to skip runs and also provide an opportunity to train the terrain of the course.

My super awesome goal is to run this race in 2:07 - my current PR.  The course is super hilly, and the PR was set on a flat course.  I'm not sure I'll be able to, but its something to work toward.

The month prior, Columbia, South Carolina is hosting a half marathon.  The only thing really appealing of this race is the friend of mine who lives nearby.  I'm always looking for an excuse to go visit her! 

Meeting my sub 2 hour goal will probably take several attempts on my part, so I really need to be looking later in the year for some good races.  Any suggestions on favorites?


Checking in for the Great Maintenance Challenge

Challenge starting weight: 137

Current weight: 135.2

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Chestnuts Roasting...

One of the perks to living in an old house is the maturity of the trees around it.  Jay and I enjoy the shade and the beauty of the trees nearing a century in age.  We have several different varieties - including walnut and chestnut trees.  We've even tried cooking and eating the chestnuts, although I wasn't a fan.  (Microwaved chestnuts taste like bland scrambled eggs.)

I'm thankful we seem to be rid of our mouse problem, the nut trees create a different kind of rodent problem - squirrels.  Not content to rob us of peaches and nuts, they also feel welcome to make their home in our attic and the walls of our house. 

We've tried several different options - including the high pitch noisemakers to no avail.  One was so high pitch the squirrels couldn't hear it.  Another was so obnoxious I threatened to move out.  We consulted the "guarantee to rid your home" people, but I suppose for $6,000 you could offer that kind of guarantee!!

Jay finally decided a live trap cleverly positioned in the path the squirrels typically take from tree to tree to house was the solution.  I'm not sure he knew what he would do or where he would transport them when he finally caught one...

He spread peanut butter on the spring and carefully positioned it.  For a few days, nothing came of his quest.  Yesterday getting in my car, I noticed he caught something.

I felt sorry for the little guy, pacing back and forth as best he could in the cage.  I had to get to work and had no clue how to free him, so I sent Jay a text.  "Good luck with that." 

He posted the picture on facebook (tagging me as the skunk) and was the recipient of several "that stinks" comments.  Around lunchtime I got a call from my friend (coworker/running buddy) Kelly.

Her: What's Jay going to do about that skunk?
Me: I'm not sure.  He's gotta let it out, but he's not at home right now.
Her: But its supposed to rain all day.  And Pepe doesn't have shelter.
Me: Um, okay.  That sucks.
Her: He can't just leave it out there.
Me: Um...
Her: What are we going to do about it?

Me: I guess we're skipping our lunch run and freeing him?
Her: I'll get my coat.

Seriously.  She loves animals that much.  I told Jay what we were doing and he finished up with the contractors and headed home.  While we were waiting on him, I gathered the supplies.  Google had advised us to sneak up on the skunk and cover the cage with a dark blanket.  We were hoping a hook or other such devise would allow us to keep our distance from the cage.

She was nominated (by default cause I sure wasn't gonna) to free Pepe.  She carefully approached the cage as directed - quietly and in a non-threatening manner.  The covering was the easy part.  She tried a couple of different times to use a hoe to open the cage, to no avail.  It didn't help that she was working blind - the mechanism was also covered by the blanket.

Finally we decided to wait until Jay arrived. He had set the trap and remembered how to open it easily enough.  With cameras poised, the actual freeing wasn't very dramatic.  A pull of the handle and off he ran!

Operation Free Pepe was a success!  He was free to scamper back to his home in time to tuck the little ones in before Santa arrives.  Hopefully he'll adopt the "if you see something, say something" policy in helping us catch the real criminals Chip & Dale.  

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Life Without...

WordsWe use them every day, but seldom we do we stop and consider their power.  Power to build up. power to heal. Power to tear down.

Yesterday I read words on a blog and I felt belittled   The author’s intent seemed to be expressing her love for her children and how she couldn’t imagine life without them.  From my perspective (as a woman childless-by-choice), however, it felt like a judgment against me.  Against a choice of how I live my life.

I’m a bit ashamed to admit that my concern for those who desperately desire children but cannot have them became a secondary reaction, although I have since continued to pray God would protect them and not allow them pain from the blogger’s words.

On vacation a month ago, I found myself in the position of the blogger.  I professed my feelings about my life and (to my surprise) offended someone.  Chatting with a stranger at our bed and breakfast, she asked if my husband and I had children.  “Nope.  They are loud, messy, and I just don’t like them.”

Those are factual statements. Most any mother would tell you that children ARE loud and messy, but they love their kids despite those qualities.  Or even because of those qualities (although I don’t quite get that…)

As the conversation progressed (over several drinks) we talked out the issue and ended hugging.  She did kinda weird me out when she prayed over us and attempted to make the sign of the cross on our foreheads for us to have a boy-child (what century is this again?).  I did, however, understand her heart and was blessed by it.  Someone I had just met had bared her soul to me.  She loved her life so much, she wanted me to share in her joy.

The good news of Jesus.  Isn’t that what we are called to share?  To be so enthralled with how this God-child changed our lives.  Not just added a little something here and there, but turned our worlds upside down?  So full of joy that we can’t imagine a different life?

Over the next few weeks I want to attempt to answer some of the blogger’s questions with a series entitled “Living the Life…of a Childless {and frugal} Trophy Wife.  I don’t claim to speak for everyone out there who doesn’t have children.  I can only speak for me. 

Today, however, I want to take a moment to consider what the center of my world is.  What in my life could I not imagine living without?  What in my life is so close to the core of my being, to remove it would be to remove a part of me? 

My relationship with my Savior should be my answer, although I fear it’s not. What is the rock on which your life is built?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Santa Hustle - Recap

Less a race report and more a pictorial recap, I wanted to share with you images from the Santa Hustle event I did this weekend.  Several friends of mine and I signed up for the 5K.  At the first of the week we decided to be festive.  Since we're all different run paces, we decided to walk the event together and just be festive.
Yes, the beard is on my nose.  I couldn't get it to stay and he was in a hurry to take the picture.  Yes, I have bigger legs than all 3 of the other girls combined.  Yes, I'm wearing snowman socks. 
Any more questions?
The "beachy" quality to my hair is because Kelly and I met before the race (in the 6 o'clock hour) to run 4 miles before meeting up with the rest of the crew.  Only my hair looked ridiculous in the hat and beard while also pulled back into a ponytail.
Hot chocolate in hand, we lined up behind the start (appropriately placed toward the back so no runners would get pissed off at us being in their way.)
The start line was packed and we were glad that we wouldn't be racing this event.  I always struggle with positioning and having to pass people early on in races.  Instead, we enjoyed chocolate covered cherries at the candy station set up around the half mile marker on the course.
We also partook of the cookie station later on in the course (and on the way back - given the out and back nature of the event.)  Our time was certainly not a PR (48:12) but thanks to good friends and the Jango Bell Rock music station it certainly was a good time. 
Checking in for the Great Maintenance Challenge
Challenge starting weight: 137
Current weight: 135.6
The magic number this time around is *133.2 so anything above that is just bouncing around the holiday bloat.  As long as I stay in this general area for the rest of the year I'll be happy.  Come January though, I'd like to see a 2 as the middle number of my weight.

*Found the actual weight in my records.  From 10/21.
How are you doing this holiday season?  Still keeping up with your exercise program despite the busyness of the season?  Saying no to one-to-many desserts or extra drinks?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Frugalista Gone Wild

Yesterday after a doctor's appointment (no worries, just a follow-up on my new medication) I hit the mall.  I've done most of my shopping on Amazon, but I still had a couple of gifts to pick up.  Plus Christmas isn't Christmas without a trip to the mall!

In addition to finishing up my gifts-to-buy list, I also picked up a few things for myself.  The bags were heavy and I felt like I had gone wild with my purchases.  Turns out, I really didn't spend that much on myself.  It felt good to try-on and buy at a regular retail store (instead of the normal thrift store shopping I do).  Turns out my favorite jeans aren't made any more. 

The more I walked around the mall, I realized just how dated a good portion of my wardrobe is.  I have too many nice things to walk around in the same old crap I always wear.  As soon as I get it washed up, the outfit I was wearing yesterday is getting donated.  I refuse to wear anything that makes me feel less than fabulous.

I started in American Eagle and purchased this top without trying it on.  I had went out with friends on Sunday and didn't have any long sleeved, casual tops I liked.  Unfortunately, I don't like it as well on as I did on the hanger.  I'm mostly certain its going back. 

I weaved my way in and out of the different shops in the mall trying on skinny jeans.  I have a pair from Express  but apparently they no longer make the X2 style any more - plus they were all around $50.  In Belk, I found a sale on unmentionables.  I purchased a couple pair along with this really comfy pair of jammy pants.
I ended back up in American Eagle (thanks to Bari's recommendation of their skinny jeans) and after much deliberation decided on this pair of jeans.  I still feel a bit awkward in them.  They seem too tight or I'm too old or fill-in-the-bank.  On the way to the register I saw this shirt in the clearance section and picked it up.  I like it much better than the first.

My big shopping spree ended up being less than $100 (including the top I'm taking back).  Not so wild for most people, but it felt really naughty (and freeing) for me!
Do you shop for yourself while shopping for presents?  Just collect ideas for your list?  Or shop for yourself all year round?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Decor

The week after Thanksgiving, my in-laws came for a visit.  While they were here, they helped Jay and I decorate for Christmas.  First stop was our rental cabin.

The  tree was left over from my days as a single gal living in my small City apartment.  Most of the lights were no longer working (we added a couple strands for the cabin) and it was far too short for the 10 foot ceilings in our house.  We purchased a bit of garland, a few bows and were done with the rental.

Now...on to our home.  I had originally purchased the tree below to replace it, not realizing it would also be far too small.  Now it is perched atop its storage container (covered cleverly by a blanket of "snow") to elevate it - and make it the right height for our side neighbor to see. Last year at her Christmas party she told me how much she enjoyed it.

Last year during the after-Christmas sales, Jay and I purchased a 9' beauty.  This is its Christmas debut in the Frugal family household.  Normally we have fun ornaments we've collected along the way.  This year I just wanted to keep it simple - just red and silver balls.

Our stockings hung by the chimney with care...
And what would Christmas be without the birth of my Savior?  Typically I don't put him in the scene until Christmas eve.  Also, whenever my friend Kelly comes to visit, she moves the wise men to a different room - reminding me they weren't in the picture until Jesus was a couple of years old.
I've also got a wreath on the front door, but I forgot to get a picture of it.  Oops!  Forgive me?
What's your holiday decor style?  Do you go all out?  Do your neighbors think they live next to the Griswalds?  Or do you prefer a more simple approach?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Porters Creek Trail

My family and I wanted to hike Mt LeConte the day after Thanksgiving. With my mother just recently recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery and my dad scheduled for knee replacement, we decided to go for a shorter hike

Above is a picture of me with my 3 main men: Daddy, Jay, and Papaw.  (Listed in order from left to right on the picture, not importance.)  Yes, 2 of them have a mouth full of tobacco - but at least they all came out, right?
And then there was the rest of the crew.  My mom is the one in the goofy hat on the left. She and Daddy struggled quite a bit on this "easy" hike.  It was less than 4 miles round trip.  Papaw, who turned 80 in September, had no trouble keeping up with the young folk!

Half way up, the trail veered off to the right towards an old homestead and a barn.  The kiddo & his parents, as well as my parents stayed behind while Papaw, Jay, Sharon (one of my mom's best friends), and I went exploring.  Once we were done we doubled backed, met up with the crew, and headed toward the falls.
At the waterfall, we stopped for some snacks (because isn't that what hiking is all about) before heading back down.  Jay, Sharon, and I ventured up the falls for some better shots.
On the way down, Jay and I really struggled with hiking slow enough to stay with the crew.  When we got to the more even ground, 1 mile to go section Jay piggy backed me the rest of the way.  I carried the heavy backpack and he carried me.
Being carried by someone who wants your arms and legs positioned just-so isn't easy!  (Although carrying around 135 squirming pounds probably isn't either.)  We had to stop and reposition several times, and we still ended up waiting for them at the end. 

Apparently going down hill is harder on bad knees than going up, so my mom needed several breaks.  I forgot I had the water, so they couldn't even snack when they stopped.  Oops!!
All-in-all, it was a fun hike.  I'm hoping come next spring the parents will be healthy enough for us to take on the 10 mile trek to Mt. LeConte!