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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tell me no!

I just got an email that piques my interest. It's about a marathon. 
A midnight marathon.
In Audubon Park.
It's free.
And it's this Sunday!
I absolutely want to run 13 loops around Audubon in the middle of the night. I really do! But I think that may be a bad idea since I'm totally untrained and I'm still (supposed) to be on a 3 miles, 3 times a week running limit (I'm not, though, 'cause I'm terrible at following directions). 
(At this point, pretend I have a beautiful picture of the park at night. I don't, because the only one I liked was on Shutterfly for sale for real money I don't have.)
But boy, do I want to do it. 
I'm off work Monday, now that I have a crazy awesome job with holidays off, so that's no problem. 
What should I do?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Nobody died

My brother in law actually let us keep these two for a day and nobody died.
In fact, they were mostly happy.
Probably because Uncle David kept feeding them peaches all day.
Hey, whatever works.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The sling-back dilemma: solved!

Feeling brave today, ladies? (Male readers: this will be of no interest to you whatsoever. Just go away until tomorrow and I'll put something normal up.)
Here's how you can solve that miserable situation of the too-loose slingback. Whenever I wear a sling back, the strap is far too large although the rest of the shoe fits. If that's your problem too, here's an easy fix. And you get to play cobbler!
You need:
Sewing supplies - a thimble, thread (preferably upholstery), needle, seam ripper, and scissors
Glue: either Shoe Goo or a similar epoxy
So. Start with adorable shoes
Got these at Buffalo Exchange for free after trade!
Get really brave. Feel along the strap to where the elastic stops. Cut the strap.

Use seam ripper and scissors to remove piece of strap from elastic. You can cut the end of the elastic into a point.

Trim some of the strap if needed. Use the seam ripper to help open up the strap, like so.

Spread the insides with glue, insert elastic, close tightly, and clamp with a clothespin or your fingers for several minutes. Let dry.
Starting to sew...
 To reinforce, sew around edges. Be very careful and use a thimble - needles are hard to push through tough leather or its fake, cheap cousin. After tying off the thread, smear the area on the back with a little more glue to make sure the thread ends are secure.
Ugly smeary back
 I didn't do a fantastic job here, and the glue shows. But seriously, who could see that from a standing height? Except two year olds, who don't care anyway?
Those aren't cankles! It's just the angle, I swear!

Repeat with the other shoe.
Hints: fabric straps and cheaper shoes are easier to work with and you can even use a sewing machine.
Hide your thread ends on the back. You can be a little messy - but get some good, strong stitches in - on the back of the strap.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I actually did sweat my thorns off.

Time: 4 pm
Temps: 91, with 82% humidity...actually not bad compared to the rest of this week.
Results: 21:37 and my thorns are gone. 
I had forgotten all about this guy's boring 5k, and blithely went to spin class Saturday morning...only to be greeted by multiple virtual race reports when I got home. There was nothing for it but to go out and run a 5k. In order to make sure I sweat my thorns off, I waited until 4 pm, when it was over 90 degrees,  before I hit the park.
Now this was kind of a big deal, because I was all pretty and dressed up when I realized I had to do this run, and I had to do the dreaded re-shower. I hate getting clean hair dirty, so this was a major sacrifice. But I didn't want to drop out.

I was actually dressed and showered and everything and I STILL went out to run!
And you can't tell because I'm a sucky photographer, but I actually put eye make-up on! Yet still, I forsook all to go for a run!
After I sweat it out for 3 miles, I didn't look so collected.
So much for make-up and clean hair!
This was actually my first timed run in a long time - the last one was May 27, for the Greek Fest 5k! I should confess that this is "cheat" time because I stopped my time twice to wait for traffic when crossing St. Charles Ave.  Still wasn't fantastic time. And the sad thing is... I felt like this was enormous effort. In fact I started at a 7:30 pace and I absolutely thought is was 7:00's. I was disgusted that I was nowhere near! I guess I have a lot of work to do.
I'm outta shape.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Can you believe it?
Tomie DePaola was signing books in my neighborhood!
Although he's a children's author, I love his artwork and his story lines. He's one of my favorite writers of any genre and I couldn't pass up a chance to meet him - so I raced home from a birthday party to get there in time. Isn't he precious?

I'm bending over because I'm actually double his height.
Watch out for the chicken feet in your soup!<-- if you don't get that, get thee to the library and read the book by this name!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Want to lose weight? Eat nuts.

Today I read this interesting study:

"Potato chips may be the most dangerous food for your hips, according to a study that lays out weight-associated foods by the pound.

Roughly half of the average 3.35 pounds a healthy, nonobese American gains over four years could be chalked up to eating more potato chips over time (1.69 lb per additional serving per day), Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Schools of Medicine and Public Health, and colleagues found.

Other food strongly associated with weight gain in the prospective longitudinal results reported in the June 23 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine included:
  • Potatoes at 1.28 lb
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages at 1.00 lb
  • Unprocessed red meats at 0.95 lb
  • Processed meats at 0.93 lb
Four-year weight loss was most associated with intake of:
  • Yogurt at -0.82 lb
  • Nuts at -0.57 lb
  • Fruits at -0.49 lb
  • Whole grains at -0.37 lb
  • Vegetables at -0.22 lb

All the above values are per serving added per day to the diet over four years and all were significant at P≤0.005."
I'm not surprised by the list of foods associated with weight loss (vegetables, news flash!), but I am surprised at how high yogurt scored. That makes me think that there is a bacterial reason for weight loss - a concept that has been considered by scientists in the past few years. I am surprised that unprocessed red meat landed in the top foods for weight gain. I didn't think anything unprocessed would be in the list - but I suppose it's an example of too much of a good thing. We do eat an enormous amount of red meat - quarter pounder burgers, 16 ounce steaks, pot roast.

Thoughts? Did any of the foods listed here surprise you?

Primary source: New England Journal of Medicine
Source reference:
Mozaffarian D, et al "Changes in diet and lifestyle and long- term weight gain in women and men" N Engl J Med 2011; 364: 2392-2404.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Target success!

I bet it would make your day to see the deals I got at Target.
I'm happy to oblige!
AND another linoleum shot! Doesn't it bring you back?
So here we have the deals. On the outside is a cute little nightie I got for a friend who just had a baby. I think moms need pretty things after having babies...but they should also be loose and flowy for now! This was $9.95, not the best deal in the world, but since it was a gift I won't obsess over it. I'm soooo generous. In the middle is a pajama set I got for my sister, just because I think she looks good in olive. The pants were $3.21 and the top (which is really soft cotton) was $4.45. All the way to the right is a pair of high-waist, flare-leg, retro slacks for me. I don't adore them, but they were $6.24 so I bought them. I do like the thin (cool) fabric and the fact that they are different from any other pants I own.
On the bottom left is my biggest score: winter running tights marked all the way down to $1.99 from $21.99! Their only flaw is no key pocket, but my handy-dandy seamstress self is about to go add one to the waist band. I might do a tutorial on it!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Shoes for a new runner

My sister in law just started running as a way to stay in-shape and healthy. Since she hears running horror stories from me all the time, I'm pretty sure I didn't influence her. (It seems like I only tell awful running stories. "And then my calf cramped and I was in agony!" "Sometimes I throw up when it's hot during a run." "The car practically ran me over!" "I lost another toenail." "Running gives you thunder thighs" "My shoes are all stinky from sweat dripping off my legs onto them!" "My hamstrings are so tight I can't straighten my right leg" etc. She probably thinks it's all torture).
However, now that she's running, I'm all over it! For her birthday we got her her first pair of running shoes. Before now she's been run-walking in Keds, but that's resulted in lots of blisters and blood blisters. Time to upgrade!

Knowing she's fashion-conscious, I was pretty concerned about the shoe's appearance - I knew she wouldn't want a big, heavy-soled, clompy shoe. And I would rather get her something lighter and more flexible anyway, so she won't develop an unnatural gait right off the bat. I settled on the Lunar Fly - it's attractive, it looks like a casual shoe, it's flexible yet has some support ("dynamic support"), it's a light 7.6 ounce shoe, and it's Nike plus compatible - which I think she'll like. I have two problems with the shoe: One, they're Nikes, and I despise Nikes. But she prefers Nikes so I sucked that up. Two, they're anything but "drop zero" and have a big at cushy heel. I'm worried about her transitioning from Keds (totally flat) to this near-wedge.
Oh and we also got her these clearance Christmas running socks 'cause we're classy like that.

What are your thoughts on shoes for new runners? What would you suggest as a first-time running shoe?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Foody Friday: after-dinner pizza

When people say "dessert pizza" they usually mean a cookie crust with frosting and fruit (or some atrocious topping like Oreos). So I've renamed this after-dinner pizza.It's a perfect little snack for a late night after a play or concert.
- Unbaked pizza crust, thin crust, your favorite recipe.  A tip for getting a thinner, less bread-like crust: Make dough, then freeze it. Defrost in the fridge for 24 hours before you need it. This allows the yeast to rise and fall a little so you get a thinner crust. I use whole wheat crust.
- Goat cheese and neufchatel cheese
- dried figs or dates
- toasted walnuts
- kosher salt
- brown sugar
Before popping it back in the oven...

Roll out (or toss, your choice, my tossed pizzas are never round, though!) the crust on a pizza stone. Bake at 425 for 8 minutes. Remove and spread with a thin layer of neufchatel and goat cheese. Top with toasted nuts and dried fruit. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt and a little brown sugar. Put in the oven under the broiler and let the sugar JUST start to melt and caramelize. Remove and allow to cool for a minute or two before cutting into tiny slices (it's rich!).
These slices are far too large. Piggy me.
Serve with espresso, dessert wine, or port.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Southern Orthopaedics...and an injury update!

I had to make a tough decision when I finally concluded that I should see a doctor about my leg pain. I previously saw Dr. Stewart in the Tulane Sports Medicine complex when I had runner's knee. In all honesty, the entire situation didn't impress me. Tulane does not have any special equipment or faculty specifically for runners, and both times I went I waited for an hour only to be rushed by the doctor. I think Dr. Stewart's nice, but the practice is too busy (just try calling them - no one ever answers, and if you leave a message it takes 1 - 2 days to get a response) and for runners, there's just not any focused care. So I had to choose - stay with my current doctor for continuity? Or find someone new, at the risk of creating a complex and confusing medical history? I finally chose someone new, just because I wanted someone who could tell me accurately when it was safe to start running again. I chose Dr. McNulty at Southern Orthopaedics. The office staff, when I called to make an appointment, were very helpful in finding the appropriate doctor for me and working with my schedule. The office manager even sent me a personal email later to make sure my needs were addressed. However, I have the same old complaint about my visit - WAITING. I waited an hour before I was ever seen...with more waits for an x-ray and for the doctor to finally examine me. I was at the office for over 2 hours! Definitely inconvenient. 
But back to the appointment itself. I agreed to a single x-ray, even though I really don't like radiation. After looking at the film and feeling the egg still on my calf, the doctor concluded that I had a healed stress fracture (or in the process of healing) but that I also had...a torn muscle insertion. I kind of suspected that. Luckily, and remarkably, it's healing very well on its own! There is significant inflammation, though. We discussed a steroid shot but since I don't like steroids - even locally - we decided to go with oral NSAIDS instead (yes, I'm that annoying patient who won't take certain drugs). The egg I've been feeling along the bone is actually a lump of muscle that healed wrong, and it's probably there to stay. Besides that, I have medial tibial stress syndrome, which probably preceded the tear, and which neither I nor my doctor care about. If it didn't bother me before I don't really care if it's inflamed. I'm obviously good at ignoring it! 
The good news is that since I appear to be well into the healing process, I can actually start back running. I have to go slow and only three days a week - and distance is a no-no - but I'm happy about that. Dr. McNulty said I looked like I was 6 months post-injury, not 6 weeks! I told him it was all clean living.
I'm supposed to take NSAIDS for 2 weeks to diminish the swelling; run with discretion; and call back in 2 weeks. If the pain returns I will need an MRI to rule out complications or cancer.
Interestingly, this apparently is not a running injury. It seems I did something abrupt, like jumping from a height and landing on a twisted leg. Now I think I have a hunch what that was, but I'm embarrassed to admit. Unless you beg!
Conclusion about Southern Orthopaedics? An obviously better choice for runners - the staff and my doctor were familiar with runners and their ailments -  but there was the same old issue with waiting. I think I'll start telling patients that prescriptions will be ready at 10 am, then make them wait until 11. See how that flies.
So - have you ever changed doctors (for any reason besides moving)? I changed dermatologists TWICE because the docs would not believe I had facial eczema because it was always healed by the time of my appointment. They wouldn't look at the photos of flare-ups I'd brought - so I found someone who did!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Paging Dr. Cuddy

I was cast as Dr. Cuddy for an internal company commercial, and we're filming tomorrow. It's a parody of House and it will be showing at the company's yearly worldwide manager meeting. Yes, I think this is silly...but of course I said I'd do it. I don't like telling my big bosses no.
I need to make THIS....
...look like THIS!

So, hints on how I can make my short, wide, brown-eyed face look like her long, lean, blue-eyed one?

I watched an episode of House last night (I really never watch the show so I wanted to get an idea of what this character looks and acts like) and I came to the following conclusions:
1. I will need to search my closet for Office Hoochy, which seems to be her style.
2. My hair will pass but it needs a wave. Damp braid to the rescue!
3. Soft bronze eyeliner and mascara needed.
4. I have to figure out how to frown yet look mood-neutral at the same time.
5. Plastic surgery would be the best option.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Taking tacky to a whole new level

I spent the weekend - and end of last week - in DC for a conference. I love DC, but our conference was actually closer to Arlington, VA, at an incredibly tacky resort called the Gaylord.
Oh my gosh it was hilarious.
It made Vegas seem reserved and quiet.
Although there were nice views,
That's the famed colored fountain you see in this pic.

They were ruined by fiber optic lights at night and piped-in soft rock.
The hotel itself was a massive glass cube planted lushly inside; I cannot begin to fathom the air conditioner bill. Every surface was marble or pleather; there was a hysterical assumed air of eliteness (there was a way-too-cool bar - oops, I mean LOUNGE - that actually had all the guests names on a list, so the sunglasses-adorned bouncers could check your name on the list before letting you in. I guess some people get their jollies off being on a list?!).
Of course, like many such places, the actual service was kind of crappy. There were so many guests that the line to check in was crazy long, and I waited half an hour, then trudged to the tenth floor and through about 6 miles of hallways only to discover that my key didn't work. I repeated the entire process, but the key still didn't work and I ended up calling the locksmith. As it so happened the key DID work, it was just that the door was swollen shut so firmly it wasn't budging. He heaved his weight against it, called for help, and eventually got it open. Then we discovered why it was swollen shut: the temperature in the room was over 100 degrees! I cranked on the air, but it blew hot. Annoyed, I called the front desk, and we discovered that my AC was out of order and my room was not supposed to be used. The good news is that I got upgraded to an obscenely large suite.
Sorry for the Blackberry pictures, I didn't pack a camera!

The bad news is that the entire process took over an hour!
But I'm not complaining, because nothing says luxury hotel like having a formal dining room in your suite (and no kitchenette or fridge, so obviously you're serving take-out on your pretty polished table).
Instead of a chocolate, I got a card on the pillow. It said, and I paraphrase, "Please enjoy a good night's sleep. But first go look at our awesome colored fountain, provided for your delight" (the phrase about "your delight" is a direct quote).
I was at my conference from 6:15 am to 5:15 pm (seriously) Friday and Saturday, then had a half-day Sunday before I flew out. I arrived Thursday night, and David joined me Friday night, which was sweet of him. He brought his camera and has better pictures of our loverly resort, but his computer is having issues, so you'll have to wait on those. Don't get too stressed with anticipation!
So my question today is...
Which do you prefer to stay in?
1. A huge fancy resort, that is so all-inclusive that you never leave the premises to sight-see?
2. A cozy bed and breakfast with an heirloom ghost?
3. A no-frills Holiday Inn Express kind of thing - super basic, but has a business center and continental breakfast?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

More art!

The next pics for my office are these cheese-ball musicians done on glossy stock in acrylics. They are clearly "tourist art" and, well, I don't love them. But I need some inoffensive, generic art for my office and this will do. It sort of continues the New Orleans theme I have going on with my skyline picture.

The swirly background, you ask? Well, I don't actually know what's up with the swirly background. I think I got sick of painting. I can only paint for about an hour at a time and then paint starts drying under my nails and I freak out. I think I quit early on these.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Special Man

In case you missed it...

...Conan is mocking a commercial that is near and dear to the heart of the Crescent City. Watch this commercial and savor it. It makes NO SENSE. There is no explanation for any of the in it, none whatsoever. Doesn't matter. New Orleans loves things that don't make sense. Even more, New Orleans loves characters. Just put some weird outfit on and give yourself a name and you'll be a legend.
I adore the parodies people are posting, too. Especially the speech coach:

Sometimes I pull the special man line when people are out of refills at the pharmacy. Do you have any iconic commercials in your area?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Confession time! I can't swim!

As I wait for my leg to heal (Are you listening, bone? Get it together, literally!), many people have recommended that I swim to stay in cardio shape. That's a great idea, except I'd drown. I can't swim. At all. Not even doggie paddle. I can't even float.
In fact today I'm going to the gym to RUN in the water because I'm so lame, and I'm scared I might drown. Also I don't own a bathing suit*, so this is my poolside style today (I know, you can't believe I'd wear something so scandalous in a public pool...I'm crazy like that!).
Um, fashion bloggers? How on earth do you take mirror pictures of yourself? This was absurdly hard and I still cut off my head.

The odd thing about my inability to swim is that my father is an accomplished swimmer and was actually a Coast Guard scuba diver. And all the rest of the family swims if they just see a puddle. I took lessons three times and did nothing but sink like a rock!
So if you never hear from me again it means I drowned trying to get out of the pool. I'm a safety risk.

*Well, I have some bikinis, but they probably aren't made for vigorous water running.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hail, basketball, and fire.

I kind of miss the days when the finals were all about the Bulls. I guess it just reminds me of my childhood! But even though I've kind of lost track of basketball during the season, this is definitely an exciting series.
I need a piece of art above that TV.
We're finishing up a game now. I need to unwind after a hectic day - early meeting, working alone while my employees were in orientation, teaching a class, then getting caught in a 1-hour rather violent hail storm! My car was pummeled, even after I sought refuge at a gas station, but remarkably the body is ok. The front windshield, however, has multiple minute chips. That hail was hitting with some force!
After making it home alive, I spent the rest of the afternoon with my friend Bj, a fellow pharmacist (we ran the Thunder Road marathon together last December).
*At this point my post was interrupted by a power outage. Upon investigation, we discovered that lightening had struck a transformer during the earlier storms. As it turns out, it was the transformer next to the bar where BJ and I had met for a drink earlier. The owners said they smelled burning and saw ash in the air for hours before they traced it to the smoldering transformer and called the fire department! Power is now safely restored!*

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I love these - nude pumps

I got these comfortable pumps at Payless, of all places (where I didn't really pay less...even the cheap stores are getting pricey!). I love the round toe, cone heel, and neutral color.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

NAIA Nationals: they sucked.

For interested parties, Abe had a terrible race at the NAIA nationals. Poor kid, none of it was really his fault! His trip was a disaster: due to bad weather, his flight was rerouted to Chicago and didn't land until midnight; after attempting to sleep from 2 to 4 am on the floor of his teammate's family's living room (one other teammate qualified, and luckily her parents live in Chicago!), they got up to figure out travel plans. Coach found a megabus to Indianapolis, so they piled on. They arrived in the afternoon and still had to get a ride to pick up their rental car. By the time they reached Marion, Abe hadn't really slept in 45 hours or eaten in 24 (well, almost, he actually are his Gu stash on the drive back to Marion). The group attempted to eat before turning in, but apparently the food at Wesleyan is inedible... Abe couldn't stomach it. Unfortunately he didn't really recover from the trip ordeal in the day before the race - he had an upset stomach and just couldn't handle the food, plus he was trying to rehydrate and get rest. It didn't work...he awoke race day with a headache and feeling sluggish. In an attempt to rescue the race he chose his lightest - and newest - running shoes, a choice he later regretted. At the start he gave his teammate his watch, since she felt like she needed one, and Abe figured he could use time on the course. Except there wasn't any! The whole race was bad for him. He had had only water the morning of the race, and tried to catch up on calories with Gatorade, but it was a losing battle. By mile 8, he had blisters; by the half his feet were bleeding. His coach saw him and tried to pull him out because he was cramping all over his body, but Abe told him he'd take a Gu and be fine. Except he threw it up. This happened again at mile 20; by that time he was seeing stars and barely finished. He waited for his teammate; poor girl had such a rough race she nearly didn't make it but another runner helped her cross the finish line, where she promptly lost consciousness (she's ok now, but the dehydration and lack of food hurt her, too). This was easily Abe's worst time, running right at 3 hours, and he was ill the rest of the day - seeing stars, dizzy, cramped muscles. It took him awhile to recover enough to actually eat, which was really what he needed all along. I feel so bad that all this training culminated in such a mess!
He told me he's thinking he needs a break, anyway. He had to train for track and the marathon at once this semester, and it's burning him out on running. He's doing 130 miles a week and the two training plans conflict - a recipe for burn out, injury, and sub-par races. I agreed that he needs to focus on school and let running be fun again.
I'm not an expert, but I think his mileage is awfully high for a college freshman. Am I misinformed? I personally rarely break 40 miles a week, even during marathon season - maybe hitting 65 four or five times a year. What's standard mileage for you?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Greek Fest 5k...a return to running

I ran the Greek Fest 5k last Friday - my first run back after hurting my leg. It's a night race, warm and humid, and lots of stars show up since there's a cash prize. People OBSESS about the cash prizes.
I decided to take it easy and stop if my leg hurt. Of course, I started out way too fast. I hadn't run in almost two weeks, plus I wanted to assess the leg, so I should have backed off: but everyone started so fast I did, too. The pace was far too quick for me (mile one: 6:28) and I paid for it: my second mile was 6:58 and in the third mile pains started shooting up my leg. I walked it off but you know...races are high pressure...I started running again since I figured "damage done"  and finished in 21:54. BAD.
Worse, my leg hasn't improved since. I thought I was ok to do a few runs but now it's swollen. What's up with that?!
The Greek Orthodox Church and canoeing on Bayou St. John

Greek Fest, of course, was fun - the race fee ($15) includes entry to Greek fest and two beers in addition to your T-shirt and swag, so you really almost break even. Entry plus two beers would cost you $11 without the race. It's a deal! We ate lamb sausage pita by the bayou and relaxed. So fun!
I guess it's back to the elliptical for me, though. Can someone please recommend another form of cardio? I'm losing my mind.