Race Recap: Jingle Bell Run 10K

One gray and rainy Saturday my friend Marnie and I met in a parking garage in downtown Indianapolis. Marnie had on her IU running shirt. I had on my candy cane striped knee-high socks.

We crossed the walkway from the parking garage into Banker’s Life Fieldhouse (home of the Pacers) and secured jingle bells to our shoes.

And we ran. We jingled through the streets of downtown.

Here’s the thing. I’m a huge slacker and this race happened last Saturday. As in over a week ago. But I’m still writing about it!

So this was the Jingle Bell Run, which raises money for arthritis. All participants were encouraged to wear festive holiday outfits, and everyone got two jingle bells to tie to their shoes. Marnie did the 5K, and I did the 10K.

The morning really was gray and wet, but not too cold. Thankfully for my phone, which I carry in my hand so I can obsessively check my time, the rain stopped right as we started. My goal was to finish the race in around 52:30 with an average pace of 8:30.

I have this problem of getting swept up in the moment of the start of a race and running my first mile fast, which only makes miles three and four kinda hard. I can pace myself no problem on just a regular run, so I know what my 8:30 pace should feel like. I just get swept up. Maybe I’ll start doing more interval training so that I can practice running all out and then coming back to my regular pace and holding it for a few miles.

Anyway…6.2 mile course was nice. It was different than all of the other races I’ve run downtown, which I appreciated. We wound around the Eli Lily buildings, on and around Mass Ave, around Monument Circle, and finished back up at the Fieldhouse. At around mile 4 or so we met up with the 5K runners.

I love the end of a race. The part where you see the finish line and runners kick it into high gear. I witnessed my favorite race moment as I approached this finish line. I was running alongside a dad and his son for a few seconds. The dad looked down at his 10-year-old and said, “There’s the finish line, buddy. Wanna leave me in the dust?” Of course the kid said yes, and took off. I can only assume the dad slowed down a bit so his son could kick his butt. The competitive runner in me thinks that’s about the sweetest thing. Taking a hit in your end of race sprint so your kid can leave you in the dust.

So how’d I finish? 52:20. That’s an 8:25 pace. RIGHT ON! The results seem to think I finished 10th in my age group. I find that somewhat hard to believe, but I’ll take it! And 175 overall out of 576 runners.

This was a fun race. It was very family oriented, but as a kid-less runner out to hit a time goal, I didn’t feel out of place. Hopefully Marnie and I can both do the 10K next year!


Cranberry Pear Pie

Do you ever feel like you’re going to lose it? If the dog puts her head sweetly on my leg one more time and looks at me with those puppy dog eyes. If the cat utters another single meow as she begs me to toss her duck tape football toy. If one more car drives by my house TOO LOUDLY. If one more part of my body, my leg, ear, arm, anything, itches. If one more insignificant item drops to the ground, and I am forced to bend down and pick it up. I swear to God I will explode.

I may or may not be on my period.

I may or may not be perpetuating that stereotype that women go crazy on their periods.

Dudes, this does not give you the green light to throw a girl’s period/pms in her face when she’s being “weird.” This is called a double standard. It’s cool.

It’s days like this that I should not have jars of Nutella in my house. Or half of a pie. But I’m so glad I have half of a pie in my house for two reasons. One, it’s a damn good pie, and I love a damn good pie. Two, it was a result of a damn good weekend.

My trips this fall seem to be coming at just the right times, just when I need distraction the most, when I’m getting too caught up in my own weird head. This past weekend I drove up to Milwaukee with the dog to do the Lakefront Discovery 15K with my friend Heather. More on the race in a later post.

Car rides with Mir.

Before my arrival in Milwaukee, Heather alerted me of a pie crust she had made that was waiting for me in her freezer. We had plans to fill it with nutella (that pesky condiment again), apples, and cherries, but somewhere between the free post-race beers, the dude in pink and purple spandex, the guy painted blue, and lunch at a lovely local restaurant called Cafe Benelux we changed our minds…cranberry pear would be a much better filling.

We didn’t start the pie until around 9 p.m., and if you know a thing or two about pie making, you know a pie takes about an hour to cook, and then has to cool. Completely. Like it’ll tempt you on the counter for another hour as the filling continues to thicken. So we didn’t actually eat any until breakfast the next morning. But let me just say that when we did….mmmmm.

This pie should probably end up on your Thanksgiving table. Who wants traditional apple or pumpkin anyway? Or it could just end up on your Wednesday night table. But you should really make it ASAP while the pears are in season. And, lucky you, fresh cranberries should be appearing in groceries soon in preparation for the holidays. If they aren’t freshly around though, just check your freezer section.

This pie is sweet and fresh from the pears and perfectly tart from the cranberries with just a touch of spice from the cinnamon. It’s this perfect combination. If, however, you do not like a tart pie, you can add more sugar. I just happen to like my pies kind of slutty.

You have all sorts of crust options! It’s really exciting. You have my personal favorite, a vodka lard/butter pie crust, a non-vodka butter and crisco crust, or an all butter vodka crust. Feel free to use all butter in that non-vodka crust if that’s your thing. Just sub the crisco with the same amount of ice cold cubed butter. Heather and I made this pie with a crumble topping. It’s way yummy. You can totes make this a double crust pie if you heart desires though.

So let’s make a pie, bitches, and get out of our heads!

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So This is the New Year

Happy New Year! You did it. You survived another year.

2011, I loved you and hated you. I put some serious miles on my travelogue, and even stamps on my passport. I lost two grandparents in a three month span. I fell for a man with a butt chin and blonde hair. Every time he cuddles with one of my four-legged girls, I melt a little.

2011, you saw one of my co-workers become one of my best friends. You watched me spend eight hours a day in a very difficult work environment and  apply for countless jobs. You were the year I got a new job, my second grown-up job, (That’s right, folks, new job! I haven’t been withholding information from you for that long. This just happened a week or two before the end of December.) but not before I realized just how much my co-workers at my old job had taught me.

2011, during your autumn, I ran my fastest 5K, which prompted me to sign up for my first half-marathon, The Indianapolis Mini-Marathon. Hopefully that means 2012 will see me complete my first half-marathon.

2011, I spent lots of your hours in my kitchen. I found a handful of dinner recipes that we like enough to make on a regular basis, ones that I know well enough to maybe start tweaking. We spent $40 on chocolate (it was Valhrona after all) in an attempt to make the world’s best chocolate chip cookies. While that batch was an expensive fail, I did eventually find an acceptable recipe. I spent time every weekend getting to know the dough hook attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer.

2011, you were good to me and you made me cry. You were up and down. I would call you an amazing year and a hard year.

2012, bring it. I resolve to make you awesome, to update my blog more regularly, to take risks, to really get in tune with my photography skills, to get my dog to stop peeing on the couch, and to say “I love you” more.

A Very Merry

I just want to sneak in one last Very Merry to You, to each of you who takes the time to read my silly blog.

I hope your holiday season has been filled with sparkly lights, dear people, warm fuzzies, favorite food, hilarious and awkward and terrible (because you know the holidays are not complete without those) family moments, and thoughtful gifts (because a thoughtful gift is way more than a gift, it’s a person really knowing you). I hope that tonight, despite any and all holiday stress, you are going to sleep thinking of the one moment this holiday season that was the sweetest, and I hope you had at least one, and that you are smiling.

I know I am. I am very merry indeed.

A Very She & Him Christmas

I have a major girl crush on Zooey Deschanel. Like out of control major. She’s super cute, has a great sense of style, I love her hair (maybe, just maybe, I wanted bangs because of her.), she has a funny TV show, she thought she invented rinsing after toothbrushing, oh yeah, and she and M. Ward have this great band called She & Him. I’m pretty sure we could be best friends since we had the same American Girl dolls as kids (see above-linked video).

It’s a good thing Michael loves Zooey too, otherwise he’d probably start getting jealous.

So back to She & Him. Why do I enjoy them? The songs on their two albums are sweet and so easy to listen to. They have this great throwback retro 60s and 70s sound. M.Ward’s music has that simple quality for me, deceivingly so I think, because upon closer listen his songs are a bit more complex. And Zooey’s clear voice sounds retro and fresh at the same time.

So this October She & Him released a Christmas album. I love Christmas music, but I hate how cheesy and done up it can be. So I really appreciate the genuine holiday cheer in every song on this album. I just want to put it on a record player and decorate the crap out of  my house with little lights, homemade garlands, and candles.

Sleigh Ride is my favorite song on the album. One it features both the She and the Him on vocals. Two I’ve always loved this song. It paints such a romantic scene of winter fun. And as I listened to it today this line jumped out at me

These wonderful things are the things we’ll remember all through our lives.

Sold. That’s what the holidays are about guys. These wonderful things, these little moments that the holidays give us a chance to find ourselves in. We’re all forced to hang out with our family and our dear friends extra this time of year, because that’s just what you’re supposed to do. And while this time of year may be exhausting and expensive and stressful, and sometimes we just may want a river to skate away on (sorry, can’t help it, that song’s also one of my faves this time of year, even though it’s so not a Christmas song and is really kinda sad), we’re put into these situations that are just made to remember if we just freaking breathe. I know breathing is hard, trust a girl. So I’m gonna make this time of year A Very She & Him Christmas because these songs remind me to chill the eff out and enjoy simplicity.

Listen to it. Get into the holiday spirit. After all we’re mid-December now and up to our ears in the holidays. Do yourself a favor.

Because we’re talking holidays, I’m going to give you a second song like a gift – Silver Bells.


TOW Lola Rings in the New Year with One Eye

I’ve been busy. It’s 2011 after all. But not too busy to ring in 2011 in the most enjoyable and dramatic ways possible.

Enjoyable way to ring in 2011.

With a best friend.

Watching friends hug.

With confetti!

Also with lots of shots and beer, which make getting up at 10 am the next day to make cheesy grits at your parents house difficult.

And now, dramatic way to ring in 2011.

Your cat loses an eyeball.

That is no lie. As of Thursday night, my Lola kitty has only one eye. The Mira dog had a moment of insanity during which she felt she needed to protect her giant bag of dog food from the vicious and hungry Lola. A small scuffle ensued, Momma Julia yelled at Mira and waved her hands, Mira backed off, and Lola was left with a punctured eye.

One visit to the 24 hour emergency vet clinic (at 11pm, because I use that 24 hours!) and a large vet bill later, Lola is one eyeball short of blind and wearing a cone around her head. She sure as hell knows how to party.

No worries though, kitty is doing amazingly well. She seems to hardly realize her new handicap. And there are no hard or weird feelings between her and Mira (thankfully!!).

I’m going to put this photo after a break, in case you are a squeamish sort of person. Lola’s left…eye…hole(?) is sewed shut. There’s a bit of oozing going on in the photo also which has since stopped.

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Fat Witch Brownies

So, did you have a good Thanksgiving? Did you survive? Did your stomach survive? By the end of the weekend I felt slightly pregnant, but in all honesty this may have been the best Thanksgiving I’ve had in awhile. I think that’s because I had no expectations. No, that’s a lie. I expected to miss celebrating with a big family as well as my own. This year I just spent time with my family. We don’t have a huge Thanksgiving; just my mom, dad, brother, and my grandfather, and this year Ian’s girlfriend. Ian and I pulled up to my parents’ house around 1pm to start cooking…and drinking. After all, what’s Thanksgiving without some wine?

Look at my brother! He’s a cook!

A quick rundown of the really really delicious food we made.

So, now starts December. I’m very excited because this year my friends and I have decided on a no presents rule. Instead I’ve ordered two packs of really cute (and some baking-related) holiday cards. Also begins a time when I feel absolutely guilt-free about baking non-stop. Who cares about calories during the month of December? OK, actually, I’m buying a cold-weather running shirt to combat all the baking. As in, I will be running aplenty. Out-of-doors.

So, the first delicious-you-must-make holiday recipe is: brownies! Fat Witch Brownies to be exact. This recipe has been floating around the food blogosphere internet for quite awhile. I’ve just been slow to jump on the bandwagon. Fat Witch Brownies come from a bakery in New York called, yes, Fat Witch Bakery. They seem to specialize in awesome brownies. Sweet. They have a cookbook, in which the recipe for their original brownie can be found.

It’s a very different brownie from the other brownie recipe I have on here. Still gooey, but much more mellow. It’s still very obviously chocolatey, just not insanely intense, probably because it has only 1/2 cup of chocolate in it. And it’s kind of buttery. I have no other word to describe it. These are every day brownies, the kind you can snack on without feeling like you might explode. They’d probably travel really well in holiday care packages too.

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Oatmeal Pancakes

OK, I’ll just put it out there. I’ve had a  hard month, the culmination of which, after three years of couples cooking, has me cooking for just one. There’s no hate, no anger, just a lot of sadness, and hopefully a friendship again in the future somewhere. Thank goodness I have amazing friends and family both here in Indianapolis and over the phone. I also have these sweet girls.

And Matt Nathanson, whose music has an uncanny ability to fit the lovey-dovey beginning of relationships and the heartbreaking end of them, too. And then there’s food. Saturday afternoon I stood over a mixing bowl, beating together butter and brown sugar for cookies, crying, and I literally muttered through those tears, “At least no matter how little sense everything else makes right now, butter and sugar will always make something delicious and magical.” It’s nice to know that I can combine ingredients in a certain way and know that they’ll be tasty. It is not nice to know that every time my cat visits the litter box, she’ll emerge stinking and desperately wanting to cuddle. These things are certainties.

OK, so enough about me and my wah wah wah life. THIS WEEK IS THANKSGIVING WEEK! I love this holiday. It’s the Pie Holiday. It’s the Food Holiday. It’s the Hang Out with Family and Just Eat and Be Happy Holiday. I’m sure you’re all planning menus, grocery shopping, and getting ready to start cooking up a storm. I’m going to try to document all the wonderful things my family and I cook and eat. I am not going to give you the few sweets recipes I have in my queue right now. Instead I give you: breakfast. Because you will need a good breakfast to prepare you for a day of cooking and family time.

Breakfast is my absolute favorite meal of the day. I love brunching with my lady friends. I love, love eggs with runny yolks that ooze in a buttery fashion all over toast and potatoes and greens. And I love fluffy, sweet pancakes and waffles. My dad makes the best waffles, but alas I have no waffle maker. My mom always made the best pancakes growing up, these quick and tasty ones from Betty Crocker I believe. I have sweet memories of standing on a chair by the counter, helping to mix ingredients for waffles or pancakes on weekend mornings.

So these pancakes are not the ones my mom made for us growing up. They’re full of oatmeal goodness that fills you up properly. I’ve been making them since the summer, when I topped them with strawberries, powdered sugar, and syrup, and I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to share them with you. Seriously, these are the best pancakes ever. I’ve been mixing cut up apples into them lately and smothering them in honey. Or mixing in some pumpkin puree.

So, OK, you should make these during your holiday weekend. In your robe. Lazily. With a cup of coffee.

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A Sugar Cream Pie New Year

Where were you 10 years ago? What were the decade’s top songs/artists/albums? 2009’s best music: Vote Now! Not going to lie, I got very tired of seeing these types of polls and articles pop up in my inbox and on my Twtitter feed. So here’s mine.

2009: Fine as a Swine
-I traveled to Las Vegas for the first time (!)
-I took over Jack and Jill magazine (!)
-I reached a quarter of a century and have had various small quarter life crises (…!…?)
-I came to terms with the term “broke” and made some lifestyle changes such as canceling cable and cutting shopping (not !)
-I visited camp under the guise of a work trip and got my flight paid for (!!!) hey I did write an article on my fave place in the world for the mag
-My dog was banned from my parents’ house (not !)
-I fell into more new music than I could have ever have dreamed of (!!!!!!)
-I decided to one day open a bakery in North Carolina with Bette and have a prostitution business on the side (!!!!) (anyone interested in a “cherry pie” aka a tall blonde with big tatas and a midget on the side?)

-I celebrated the two year anniversary of my return to Indianapolis (not !)

My New Year’s resolutions are as follows: put $100 into my savings account every month as car payments have ended, pawn off baked goods on unsuspecting coworkers in an attempt to lose weight, have formulated a move to North Carolina plan by the end of the year.
In 2010, more specifically Jan 12, Vampire Weekend comes out with their second album! You can listen here until then. I’ve got a couple more listens before I comment on it, but so far, so musically nice on the ears!

In 2009 I also made a sugar cream pie.
Here’s how that story goes. I love pie. I love making pie. PIE. Thanksgiving is the Pie Holiday. I wanted to make cranberry caramel almond tart for Adam’s Thanksgiving. Adam wanted me to make sugar cream pie. I’d never heard of such a pie, and quite honestly a pie consisting only of cream and sugar sounded bizarre. Adam’s grandmother, on the other hand, makes the world’s best sugar cream pie. Adam was setting me up for failure. Julia, make this pie that you’ve never made before, but that my grandma’s a pro at for my family’s Thanksgiving. I manned up, found a good recipe, tweaked it a tiny bit, and, with my sexy assistant Adam, made my first official state pie of Indiana. (That’s the sugar cream pie, if you didn’t get that….) His grandmother deemed it a very good sugar cream pie. I pass!

a grown up Christmas list

I love lists. There’s nothing quite like drawing a neat black line through items one by one, just ticking them off. So I have three quick lists for the end of the Monday before Christmas.

Things That Should Not Happen Again

-unbuttoning my pants on the way into the bathroom at work (that should happen after I’m in the stall)
-wearing skinny jeans on a day when my thighs feel as big as boulders
-snow and ice on my car in the morning
-the toilet in my apartment running constantly (aauuugh the noise and the water waste!)
-going to the bathroom at work without my shoes on
-falling asleep on the couch for the millionth night in a row (contrary to anything Adam might say, this is NOT fun.)
-standing in line for half an hour at the post office to mail a gift
-Christmas present shopping for five hours

Things That Should Happen Lots More Times

-a free Moosejaw sweatshirt with orders over $79
-wearing a cute yet flowy shirt on a fat day
-wrapping presents and putting them under the tree (FESTIVE!)
-making cheesecake
-ugly christmas sweater parties
-talking about buying Bonnaroo tickets in December
-penguin onesies from Target (which is what I should have worn to work today instead of the skinny pants)
-Christmas present shopping for five hours only if done with Adam
-wearing red and white striped Christmas knee high socks with white santa fur around the top
-The Flaming Lips live (particularly “White Christmas” and “Do You Realize”)

Things That Are Going to Happen Tonight
-mushroom marsala pasta with artichokes
-possible toilet fixation (well I do have a fixation with the damn toilet right now, but I meant the toilet getting fixed.)
-penguin onesie from Target