Thursday, November 17, 2011

Respect the Bird

I went into my favorite store (Hobby Lobby) in August and saw Christmas decorations up already.  What?  It was AUGUST!  Halloween hadn’t even come yet, much less Thanksgiving.  I understand the fact that some people are not as big procrastinators as me and like to shop early (or year round ßcrazy people!) but August seems a bit early.  Doesn’t fall start in September at least?

I just found this great website where is sponsoring Respect the Bird where people can pledge to not buy any Christmas presents or decorations until after Thanksgiving Day.  We all (me included!) need to remember that Thanksgiving is more than figuring out which Sweet Potato Casserole recipe to make or which family you will be going to see on Thanksgiving Day. 

Thanksgiving is being thankful that you have everything you have, great family and friends, gifts and blessings from God, and living in an amazing country that gives you the freedom to have everything and be who you want to be.
There are giveaways on the Respect the Bird website, Twitter, and Facebook.  Check it out and pledge to Respect the Bird today!  I did.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lighthouse of Houston

When I donate money to a charity I want my money to go directly to said charity, not only a portion of it.  For work we took a fieldtrip to the Lighthouse of Houston which is a seeing impaired facility.  At first I was hesitant about going, but once I got to the facility and saw who they were helping I was intrigued. 

We went upstairs to a media room where they showed us the different types of computers that can be purchased (or someone can get one free through the government if they are a full time student) and also different portable systems to take with them for doing routine tasks like reading menus and typing.  These computers and programs range from about $800 to $1,000 retail so the need for funding assistance is great.

The tour guide told us about the different programs that the seeing impaired can take to lead them to jobs like medical transcriptionists, phone system operators, general office assistance, etc.  Next we went downstairs and down the hall to the activity rooms where she told us all about the M-F program where the mentally impaired go to learn basic life skills.  One thing about this section was that the huge toy directly in front of the window was missing pieces and two screws/nails were sticking out.  Dangerous!  We pointed them out to the tour guide and hopefully they will either fix it or remove it.

Next was the retail store were they sell items to help with day to day tasks for blind people.  There was watches, games, clocks, calendars, color indicators, etc. They even had Scrabble and Monopoly with brail letters.  So cool!

Overall the tour was great, but there were a few times when we all looked at each other and wondered why she just told us that…TMI.  Personally, I was expecting more of a sales tour as to why we should support this organization, rather than this is this and that is that.  It’s a great organization, and I might be interested in volunteering one day, but they need to re-vamp that tour a bit so they can get the people behind them.

Thank you to the Lighthouse of Houston for giving us a tour and showing us about your program and how you are helping the seeing impaired of Houston and the US.

There is a big company that hosts huge campaigns to raise money and they divvy out the money that is raised to smaller charities that might not be able to get the money from corporations.  This said company (who I do not like and therefore will not say the name on my blog) has a huge overhead and not all the money goes to charities so I do not donate to them (plus they have been in the news for some shady things).  Like I said, if I want to donate money, it will be directly to the charity and not to a middle man that takes a fee. (ßedited to add: I understand that the large organization has to take a portion of the donation for their expenses, but when their expenses reach crazy and outrageous overhead levels, it’s time to cut back and I refuse to participate in that.)

Anyway, so we toured the Lighthouse of Houston and got to see many great things that they do for the blind and seeing impaired community.  According to their brochure, they service over 9,000 people annually through life skills training, outpatient rehabilitation, diabetes education, orientation and mobility services, Braille services, employment skills development, and many, many other great services.

One thing I thought was really neat was that the building was designed for blind people.  There is nothing hanging from the walls because seeing impaired people use their hands and canes to feel their way around so if items were on the wall they could be knocked down.  Also, the floor is white on the inside and darker on the outside so the seeing impaired would know when they are getting close to the edge of the wall or maybe a doorway.  Also right inside the lobby there was a big glass wall that had the brail system over and over. 

We got this cool handout where you can see different way that people are blind such as tunnel vision, diabetes vision loss, central vision, and all the way blind that can see shades of light.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Guess what number I completed on my 30 under 30 list?  #1 Baby!  Mechanical bull?  Done and done.

Let’s do this thing sucka!  I am coming for you.

How did I find a mechanical bull in Houston you ask?  Well, it was at an elementary school carnival of course.  I know, I know, It’s the last place I thought I would be riding a mechanical bull, but I digress.

My sister is the PTO President at my nephews elementary school and every year that have a carnival fundraiser in April where they make a bulk of their budget for the next year.  I had heard that there were two carnivals in Friendswood where I live that have a carnival and they make about $100K profit each (one is a fall festival, one is a spring festival).  $100k at a carnival? WTH!  My sister and I were intrigued so we were determined to go to the fall one to get ideas and figure out how in the heck they raise about $95k more than my nephews school. 

So, off we went to the Cline Elementary PTO carnival called Clinefest.  Before buying any tickets we decided to walk around and look at everything to see if we can find the differences.  The main difference is the amount of silent and live auction items and also the raffle items.  There was large raffle items (like iPod’s, fire pits, complete outdoor stereo systems) and smaller ones (scooters, fishing poles, ice cream makers, etc).  The silent auction items included a plate or platter with each child’s teachers name and grade level in a different theme with the kids name on it also.  Some of the were really cute like a picnic theme with the kids names written on a different aunt, or a popsicle theme with each child’s name a popsicle.  Super cute idea.  Other silent auction items were a family portrait session, a chance for your child to have lunch with the Chief of Police, tanning sessions, etc. 

Are you ready for the live auction items?!  A limo ride and 4 tickets to see Taylor Swift! ßI really wanted to win that one, but I think it went for $1k ++.  Your child’s opportunity to be Vice Principal for a day, your child to be in the upcoming parade as prince or princess of the parade.  A week long stay at a resort in Costa Rica.  There were three different ‘prime’ parking spots that were auctioned off for about $600 each.  Now, for me to pay $600 for a parking spot it had better be lined in gold, but you know how often you get to park in this parking spot?  THREE times a year.  Yep.  Only three.  At the Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day parties.  That’s $200 each time your happy butt gets to park there.  Crazy.

On to the bull ride:As I was walking around looking at all the stuff I wanted but couldn’t afford (sorry Taylor Swift, perhaps you could come back to the HLSR and I can pay $20 to see you) my sister came up to me and said there was a mechanical bull at the carnival.  WHAT?!

I had to see it to believe it.  Yep!  There it was all spinning around in the sun just waiting for me to ride it.  6 tickets please!

As I stood in line I had my step mom Pie to go and make sure that adults were able to ride it.  Yep? Check!  We made friends with a lady that was on the PTO at Cline and chatted with her about how they make so much money.  She was super nice and helpful and even stayed to watch me conquer the bull.

This is it.  It was finally time to ride.  I took my shoes off and mounted the bull.  When I added the mechanical bull ride to my list I had no idea where or when I would ride one, but I have always wanted to do it so this was my shot.  I had pictured myself wearing some sort of slinky cowgirl outfit and a pair of boots but I ended up wearing shorts, my Astros 5K t-shirt, and tennis shoes. (Note to self:  Look cute no matter where you are going, you never know when you will have to take pictures for a fun adventure and make a blog post about it).

Spin, Spin, Spin, Spin.  Look, I can even ride it one handed!

Do you like my bull riding form?  I trained for this.

Whoa, I’m about to fall off!

And I’m down for the count

I really don’t know how long I stayed on the bull, but it was super fun.  I was the only adult that rode it and everyone was staring at me when I got off.  Oh well!

Thanks Cline Elementary PTO for hosting Clinefest and thinking about having a mechanical bull.  I really enjoyed it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Welcome to double digit land

Saturday was my longest run that I have ever done…11 miles!  Yikes, that’s crazy talk! The week before I ran 10 miles with my friend Nicki but I was determined to go further.  I had originally planned on 12 miles per my training plan, but a few things hampered my goal.  Let’s back up first.

On Friday night I knew I would need some carbs, so my neighbor Carol and I went to Zio’s for dinner.  I ordered the spinach, olive, lemon penne pasta dish with chicken.  It was ok, I guess I was looking for more of a sauce rather than lots of lemon juice with some spices. 

I had a margarita (#17 of 30 towards my 30 under 30 list) with dinner and it tasted off.  Boo! I  <3 margaritas, but this one tasted like feet.  I think my tastebuds were off. L


I went home, played with my favorite cat and promptly hit the sack for an early wake up call.  My plan was to get up early on Saturday morning and leave my house by 6 am to be at my parents house by 7.  So this is what happened: 

I got up around 6 (oops) and made Jabba his breakfast, heated my breakfast while I was putting my clothes on.  I ate breakfast (leftover lemon chicken pasta) and got my running gear together.  My grandparents called and said I had a package at their house that came in the mail.  Huh?  Well, I had ordered something on ebay to use to make my outfit for my ½ marathon and for some reason it went to their house (I guess I need to change the address in my ebay account).  So that put me behind a bit also.  Finally I made it to my parents house at 8ish and me and my Mom set out on the road to Huntsville State Park. 

About 15 minutes before my run I had a gel energy packet and searched for my gps watch to keep track of my mileage.  Turns out that I left it at my parents house in my overnight bag.  BOO!  It’s ok though, I have my phone so I could just bring it and use my app.  Oh wait, my phone app wouldn’t turn on!  Ugh!  Fine.  I just downloaded a new one (which I didn’t really like) and set out.

My Mom went in the opposite direction of the trail and we would meet by the lake (my 4 miles, her 3 miles).  I started out on the trail and was immediately overtaken by 5 bike riders, then a ways down another few bikers.  It turns out there was a bike race on the teeny tiny width of the trail that I was sharing.  After almost getting run over (which walkers/runners are supposed to have the right away) I just kept turning my head any time I thought I heard a biker so I could move over. 

Trail running is really fun, you just have to be really careful for your ankles so you won’t trip on roots and soft sand though.  I got to the 1 mile marker and I thought I had gone MUCH further, lol.  Trails weave all around so the distance seems like a lot more.

I don’t like to run with things in my hand so I didn’t have a water bottle.  I didn’t have one of those water bottle belts either so I was getting really thirsty by mile 4 when I met up with my mom.  I immediately chugged water and ate some sports beans and rested about 5 minutes while we made plans to meet up again.  She was going the 4 miles (walking though) that I just ran and I was going to go the 3 she just walked (running though) and I would meet up with her at her last mile and my 8th mile (did I just confuse you?).

I set out for mile 5-7 and I felt really good, I was getting tired but no big deal.  At mile 7 I got to the car and drank some more water and had another Gu (Black cherry flavor=disgusting).  I went back on the trail to meet up with my mom. I saw her just after the mile 1 marker (mile 8 for me) and I got some more water.  I had originally planned to run to the 2.5 mile point and turn around (5 miles + 7 miles=12 miles) but since I did not have my cool gps watch, and my newly downloaded phone app was being dumb, I just told her I would go to the 2 miles point and turn around and meet her at the car.  So 11 miles it was!

At the 2 mile mark my Mom called and said that she made a wrong turn and came out at a different spot.  She was going to walk to the car and wait for me. I told her ok and set out for my final two miles (HURRAY!).

I passed a group of guys (my, but no hotties to try and flirt with) and they asked me how far it was to the nature center (beginning of trail), at this point I was so excited to tell them that it was only 1 more mile (I had been counting down you see) and new exactly how far it was.  Every time I passed a group of people coming down the trail and they said hello, all I could say was 1 more mile.  I am sure they thought I was a sweat crazed lunatic muttering to herself, but whatever I just ran 11 miles.

At about 1 mile into my last mile I didn’t see the end of the trail that I really was desperate to see.  Hmmm?  Did I miss the turn off?  Did I really just do what I silently laughed at my Mom for doing?  It turns out I did.  I somehow managed to miss the turn off to my trail and ended on the Dogwood trail.  I promptly (out of breath) called my mom and said I am not turning around and for her to come pick me up. LOL.  I was tired! 

So, I might have technically ran more than 11 miles, but I have no idea.  My stupid new running app that I just downloaded had stopped running (plus it was in km and I don’t know how to transfer it to miles ??) and it wouldn’t turn back on.  Boo. When I got home  I promptly deleted that app from my phone. Thank you very much.

My mom picked me up and I wanted to hurl.  Around mile 9.5 I had started feeling nauseous and needed food asap.  I had brought some veggies with me to hold me over til I could eat a really substantial meal but I needed food like yesterday.

We exited and found a Whataburger, I told my mom what to order me and I quickly ran to the bathroom to throw up.  TMI:  it was all carrot bits and water.  EWWWWWW!!!

We got our hamburgers, iced tea, two extra packets of salt, and onion rings to go and I chowed down.  It probably was not the best meal to eat, but I needed salt and food in my system so I didn’t car what it was at the time.  Whataburger=Yummy!

My mom kept asking me “So, this is fun to you?  Throwing up?” LOL, yes Mom it is!  I just have to get my nutrition and water intake down pat so I will be ready for race day.   I told my Mom that the water bottle belts were like $40 and I couldn’t afford one right now so I would just get water at the water stations.  She wrote me a check for $45.  J Spoiled 29.5 year old brat?  Well yes, I do believe I am.

Fun times in the woods.  How was your Saturday?!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Blind dates can be scary

#16 on my 30 under 30 list is go on a blind date.  Oh, what have I gotten myself into? 

My sister and her friend Laura K both get Schwann’s delivered to their houses bi-weekly and their new delivery guy asked them if they knew any single women about his age that they could hook him up with.  Immediately my sister thought of me and my 30 under 30 list so she called me to see if it would be ok for her to give him my number.

I immediately cringed at the idea, but said ok for the sake of The List and she gave him my number on a Friday.  That night Blind Date Guy (BDG) called me and we talked for a few minutes over the phone and planned on going out that Sunday for dinner.

Over the phone he sounded nice, though it didn’t seem like we had much in common. I still pressed on for the sake of the list.  He called me again on Sunday afternoon to make sure we still were set to go.  I almost changed my mind, but decided that my 30 under 30 list was all about me pushing myself out of my comfort zone and trying things that I had never done before and a blind date was absolutely one of those things in my life that I would have never done without this list.

We agreed that since I live in the Friendswood area and he lives in the Spring area it would be best if we met at the restaurant.  We decided on Branch Water Tavern in the Heights area.

I immediately called/texted some of my friends to see if they knew what sort of restaurant it was and also what I should wear; I didn’t want to go over or under dressed.  My friend Brandi originally told me that is was a casual dining spot and I could wear jeans and a cute top.  Then she called back and said she was thinking of the wrong place and too dress up in a cute dress-no jeans.  Crap!  Good thing I started getting dressed early so I had time to change plans.  LOL. That would have been interesting.

I got there, parked, and headed inside.  I told the hostess I was waiting on someone and that I didn’t know who it was.  I explained the blind date thing and she asked if I wanted to make some sort of hand gesture if I wanted her to come over and say I had a phone call.  Too funny!  I sat down to wait for BDG to arrive.  He had apparently been at the bar having a drink with the owner so he came over and we got our table.  I ordered an iced tea and he ordered a glass of wine. I guess he was nervous also!

We looked over the menu and I decided on Shrimp wrapped in bacon over cheesy grits and an egg.  He got scallops.

We talked about what we were interested in, our families, our jobs, both of our lack of kids, our nephews, religion, books, writing, etc.  We found out that we both want to write a book one day.  I told him some of my ideas and he told me his idea for his books (Lord of the Rings sort of but different).  BDG then went on to say that he is recently divorced (as in January she left him recent) and they had been married for 10 years.  He seemed very upset about it still and sort of angry about it. I won’t go into details though to protect his privacy.  Afterwards BDG walked me to my car and said we would meet again. 

Good things:
-I got out of my comfort zone
-I tried a new restaurant
-I met an interesting person
-I found out that I love shrimp and cheesy grits!!!!

No so good Things:
-Sometimes there were lulls in the conversation
-I don’t think he is over his divorce (which isn’t final yet)
-He smokes (YUCK!)
-I don’t like blind dates

All in all I had a good time.  I am glad I got to say that I went on a blind date, but I do not want to go on another one anytime soon.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Less than 1 month…

Or 23 days to be exact I will be running my FIRST ½ marathon.  Yikes!  I’m scared.

I have run in the morning, mid afternoon, after work, and at night.  I have transitioned from running in the heat of Texas to cooler temperatures and I’ve traveled over bridges big and small.  I have cross trained and I have raced eight 5K’s and one 10K all leading up to this big event.  

I have been recruiting friends to join me in my quest for a medal and have successfully convinced at least two people, if not 6 people to join me. 

Shirts have been made, posters have been glitterized, and pasta will be consumed.

So LaPorte by the Bay ½ marathon-I am coming for you, and I will kick your ass!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pumpkin Judging 101

When judging a pumpkin baking contest you have to have several things.  An empty stomach, a love of all things pumpkin, and the ability to be mean and score someone really low because their pumpkin stuff tasted like crap!  Next year I plan on announcing that I am the judge and maybe I will get some bribes, but I probably won’t get any since it’s a college town! LOL.
I am friends with one of my former Hospitality professors on Facebook and she had posted about needing help with the pumpkin judging at this years Scare on the Square in Nacogdoches.  I immediately became obsessed with getting picked so I bugged her until she said yes.  I. Am. In.
I immediately recruited Britney to come along with me also, if I was going to eat the calories from all that pumpkin stuff, then I was not going to do it alone!

Krista and I got to the Nacogdoches CVB and went to the board room where they were doing the judging.  Look at all those great eats!

Hmmmm……So much work! 

Then there was an extra spot so Krista got in on the action also!

Overall, there was one I loved (it was a pumpkin cupcake with cinnamon pumpkin seeds, and a cinnamon stick) and one that I hated (an unappetizing looking/tasted pumpkin cobbler).  After we got done, Dr. Wittenbach gave me an extra cupcake!  Score!

Earlier, while we were waiting to start the pumpkin baking judging, Krista got to judge in the pumpkin carving/decorating contest.  There was a kids contest, and an adult contest.

The awesome entries:

Krista looks deep in thought!
We had tons of fun eating so much pumpkin baked goods and seeing the creativity of the Nacogdoches community.  Thank you to Dr. Wittenbach and also the Nacogdoches CVB for putting on such an amazing event.  Hopefully I can do it again next year.

The Hunt for a Keg

Can you guess what I did this weekend?

You: Found a pot of gold? 
Me: Nope, guess again!  
You:  Saw a unicorn in a magical land?
Me:  No, but I will give you a hint…BEER!
You:   A keg stand?
Me:  Yes, you are so smart!!!!

At SFA homecoming this weekend one of my main goals besides seeing my old friends and fellow alumni was to find a keg to mark one item off my 30 under 30 list.  A keg stand you ask?  For what reason?  You do not drink beer!  I know, but you got to take one for the team list.

After the Driving Jacks Alumni Night meeting Krista, Colleen, Britney, and I were hanging out in the Driving Jacks office and we started looking for a keg so I could complete one more item. 

We had heard that there was going to be one at three different places, one at Theta Chi, one at the baseball teams party, and one at the Sammie house.  All three turned out to be complete fake-outs, getting us all excited and I was losing all hope. (Cue the sad music and a tear).

Everyone was trying to call their friends to find one for me, then Colleen suggested that we just drive to our friend Josh’s party and see if there was one there since we couldn’t get him to answer the phone. 

At this point it was close to midnight and I was super, super tired (I am an old lady people) and I still had to go back to the hotel and do the 30 Day Shred (#7 on my list).  I was beginning to think we would not find one. L

On the way to Josh’s house Colleen stopped at Amanda’s house to see if they had one.  Krista and I stayed in the car, crossing our fingers.  I saw a few cups and said “If there are cups, then there must be a keg!” but I didn’t want to get my hopes up.  Colleen walked out with Amanda and did a thumps up sign, we were in! 

The next dilemma we faced was where to park.  The parking lot at the apartment complex was super tiny, hardly big enough for residents and people were double parking.  Even though we would be in there for 10 minutes tops, I made the smart decision to park elsewhere so my car would not get towed.  Krista and I found another complex about 2 blocks away, it was freezing so we decided to make a mad dash to the party.
This is our running/determined face:

Me in front of the party, so excited!:

 Amanda and Kool-Aid man educating me on how to do a keg stand.  They would make great college professors.

Here we go: 
I lasted 7 seconds the first time around (I’m not really a fan of beer…why don’t they have margarita kegs?)

Here are the two awesome gentlemen who made my first keg experience possible:

Then everyone wanted to do one, I started a trend!

And then I did another one.  It was super fun!

I did it!  Do you see the beer on my shirt?  I got sprayed!

Thank you Amanda for letting us come to your party!  I will never forget it.


Houston Texans Running with the Bulls 5K

***This post should have been posted October 16th, but I have been lazy!  Enjoy anyway though!***

It seems that every major Houston sports team hosts a 5K (did you read my Houston Astros 5K recap?).  The Houston Texans are no different. 
What to wear? What to wear?  Hmm, a new Houston Texans shirt?  Yes, please!

Breakfast was a rice cake with almond butter, pumpkin butter, and a nutty trail mix on top.  It was yummy!

I went with my aunt and cousin so I waited outside for them to pick me up and did a few stretches and took pictures of my feet. J

The race was held at Reliant Stadium.  We got there early to pick up our packets since neither of us wanted to drive into Houston earlier in the week.  My cousin also wanted to join us in the race so he had to get signed up for it.

My friend Andrea let me borrow her Garmin 201 that she isn’t using until my half marathon in December so I was able to keep track of how far I was going and what my time was.  At the end of the race the watch said 2.75 miles so I don’t know what happened. 

At the end of the race you travel down into the stadium on the floor of Reliant.  Through the blowup Toro the bull and to the finish line.

The race itself had a great course, but my legs were not feeling so hot from yesterday’s Friendswood Monster Dash so I figured I wouldn’t try and beat a specific time.  I didn’t take it easy though either.  I ran the entire time! 

Check out the cute shirt I got!

My official time?  35:34ßNot my best time, but I still finished it without stopping.  After yesterday’s race and my knees hurting, I think I did really well.  I am not sure that I will sign up for another race the same weekend I do another one.

Friendswood Monster Mash 5K

On October 15th I ran in the Friendswood Monster Mash, which was super close to my house, so I was super excited that I could sleep in an hour later than normal when having to start a race at 8 am.  The Friendswood Monster Mash was about 3 miles from my house at the Friendswood High School so I woke up about 6:45 am, and put on my running attire.

This race was a monster mash so naturally I would dress up in costume.  What was I?  The Good Witch of course!

The Good Witch t-shirt and a lime green tutu (have to represent Driving Jacks)

My breakfast was a scoopful of my favorite trail mix but when I got to the race they had donuts and kolaches for everyone.  Who’s strong and resisted the HUGE urge to get a kolache?  This girl!

At first I felt silly for being the only one dressed up in costume, but then I saw this lady in a stork costume and I knew that I could rock out my good witch costume!  The stork is actually a midwife student studying in Pearland so she thought it would be a good idea to dress up like a stork!  Cute!  If she would have stuck around she would have one the costume contest.  I have never done a race where I knew no one so standing around waiting for the event to start was not my idea of fun, so I found new friends to talk to.

Oh, and look who I met!  The newly crowned Ms. Texas!  I guess she is from Friendswood or something and that’s why she was there.  Not really sure.

Look at my race goody bag.  Included: T-shirt, pretzels (which came in handy on my Sunday race), travel vitamin/medicine holder, shampoo sample, tanning cream, free kid’s meal at Luna’s (I don’t think I will be using this one), Crystal Light water sample, coupon for a $.01 eye shadow from Mary Kay, two granola snack bars, free sonic hamburger coupon, and a F.I.R.S.T. bracelet.  Free stuff rocks!

The race benefited the F.I.R.S.T. (Foundation  for the Icthyosis and Related Skin types) charity for helping to find a cure for Icthyosis and also helping educate people about this genetic disease.  Thank you to F.I.R.S.T. for hosting this event (10th annual) and for educating me on the skin disease Icthyosis; this was by far my favorite race to date (and not just because of the new P.R.).  I loved the hometown race feel.

What time did I finish? Why it was my newest PERSONAL RECORD of 34:34 ßThat is 58seconds faster than my previous fastest time!  Go me!