Favorite Posts of 2013

Recaps of the year’s favorite/most viewed/best posts are so trendy in blogland, I couldn’t resist. I thought it’d be a quick post to crank out, but I’ve managed to put together a significant body of work for this blog’s first year!

It was fun to peruse the posts, cringing at some of the awkwardness (don’t worry it’s not going anywhere), and taking joy in the year’s memories and accomplishments. Check out some of my favorites below, and I hope you join me in 2014 for more fun and shenanigans!

10. My first blog post has to make the list! Just a little bit about the motivation behind my blog and how I finally made the leap to start writing.

9. We moved! We got a cat! We celebrated Christmas with Mom in the new spot! There have been so many positive changes in my life, I loved sharing them in this post.

8. My purpose for the Run to Feed the Hungry race this year was to spend the morning taking some time out for myself and reflecting on the things I’m grateful for…the loved ones in my life and a body that can carry me through a 10K. The Thanksgiving Feast that followed? A minor bonus :).

7. A girls trip to Cabo San Lucas? Memories to treasure. Planning a trip to Cabo? I included a few travel tips as well.

6. My Fave Newbie Runner Moments. Because we all have to start somewhere.

5. There’s been a lot of hiking this year, but exploring Point Reyes National Seashore was one my favorites. It also inspired another post I liked writing, how to survive a wildfire.

4. Weekly Workout Recaps are one of my favorite category of posts. I’m a geek for numbers, data, etc., anything that helps me see progress over time, and they’re a great way to reflect on the progress I’m making (or not making as the case may be). I chose this one to highlight because it was a great week for balance. I got my miles in, took in a ball game with the Mr., and discovered an amazing new brunch place with the girls. That’s the kind of week I want to have every week.

3. Discovering a new to us camping spot in Lake Tahoe was a blast. Fishing, beautiful scenery, a huge meadow and a creek all to ourselves…what’s not to love? Maybe the bug bites..

2. Race Recap: See Jane Run 5K. A huge PR for me of 32:59, and on a warm day to boot. Next 5K goal? Sub-30!

1. Celebrating my Dad on his birthday, the first since he passed. Go tell someone you love how you appreciate them just the way they are!

Here’s to another year full of many more favorites!

Always, Sierra

Our First Christmas in the New Spot

Merry Christmas! Better late than never, right?! How were your celebrations?

Shortly after Thanksgiving, the Mr. and I moved into a new spot. The first couple weeks of December felt like a never-ending cycle of packing, unpacking, cleaning, fixing, sleeping and pancaking. Pancakes were the only thing that got me through!

Moving

Our new place has more space, more wood floors, and more quiet. So much quiet that the first night I couldn’t sleep. It’s pretty amazing to not hear sirens/BART/crazy neighbors 24/7.

It also has more ghost…child-sized ghost.

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A better living situation wasn’t the only thing we gifted ourselves this holiday season…meet the newest member of our family!

kitteh

He’s going by kitteh for the moment, and he is full of kooky affection. The Mr. brought him home for the ASPCA about a week ago, and after a day or two of getting used to his surroundings he’s settled right in.

family

With all the changes going on, Christmas snuck up on me. I didn’t get the decorations and tree up until the weekend before, but they came together nicely.

Christmas Decorations

Once the decorations were up and Mom was in town, Christmas snowballed and took on a life of its own! There were gifts to be opened…

emergency underwear, keyboard, matching camo hats

…and dinner to be eated!

Christmas Pot Roast

We went non-traditional-ish with dinner this year, considering the amount of advanced prep I was able to do was non-existent, but it still came out pretty awesome. My first pot roast, green beans and bacon, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and the Mr.’s tasty gravy…(ha, that didn’t sound dirty at all).

Mom and I went for an after Christmas morning stroll to work off some of the deliciousness, and enjoyed the beautiful weather.

me & mom

Running slipped on my list of priorities during the madness of the month, but my final gift to myself this Christmas is an entry to my first half marathon! Training started Monday, details to come. Another feature of my new neighborhood? Hills galore!

hills galore

Hope y’all had a great Christmas!

Always, Sierra

Any suggestions for cat names?

What was your first half marathon?

 

Run to Feed the Hungry: 20th Anniversary

I started Thanksgiving off this year with my first ever Turkey Trot, the Run to Feed the Hungry race in Sacramento. This year was the race’s 20th anniversary, and there were over 28,000 runners! Crazy big, at least to me!

The Mr. and I got into town just before 8am Thanksgiving morning. I was aiming to run the 10K, but the start time was 8:35 and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make it. We dropped our stuff at Mom’s house, and then the Mr. and I headed out on a mission to get me as close to the start as possible. About a mile and a half away, we hit stop and go traffic. I ended up bailing from the car around 8:20 and considered the mile-ish jog to the start my “warm-up”. I made it just in the nick of time.

Run to Feed the Hungry

My favorite part of the course was the first third along J street, going through the Fab 40s neighborhood. There were lots of spectators out who had houses along the course, and I got a kick thinking about how it was as much of a tradition to watch the race for some families as it was to participate.

We passed Mercy General about a mile and a half into the course, and my thoughts were full of my Dad, who spent a lot of time before passing in those halls. This was our second Thanksgiving without him, and our first Thanksgiving without making him his own lemon meringue pie.

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Lots of people had awesome turkey hats on, but these people definitely won first place in terms of costume creativity.

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There were three people in that thing, and they were giving off some pretty righteous turkey calls!

3.75 miles into the race and I was ready for some diversions. I happened to stumble across the most awesome spectators ever, running a mimosa aid station. In case there was any doubt, the best fuel for a Thanksgiving morning race is champagne + orange juice. To the spectators who spent their time and energy handing out mimosas, you guys rock! Seriously made my morning.

Run to Feed the Hungry mimosas

That mimosa upped my energy level like no other and the next couple miles were all about taking in the sights, enjoying the music and giving thanks.

Run to Feed the Hungry  band

Even though this was only a 10K, I figured Thanksgiving was the perfect time to dedicate every mile and give thanks and remembrance to the people in my life. Here’s how my miles went:

  • Pre-jog run to the start: Grateful for legs that get me where I want to go when I need to be there.
  • Mile 1: Grateful to the Mr. for being the best support crew today and everyday
  • Mile 2: In remembrance of my Dad
  • Mile 3: Looking forward to going home to cook with my Mom, and remembering when it used to be cooking with my Grandma
  • Mile 4: Appreciating my family that I would be with later and the ones that are farther away, and my Aunt and Uncle for always hosting Thanksgiving at their house
  • Mile 5: Grateful for the friends who have become family over the years, my brothers from another mother and sisters from another mister
  • Mile 6: Thinking about seeing my brother on Sunday, and to our round two feasting that we will have
  • Mile 0.2: The shortest distance for the smallest creature…my sweet little chihuahua mix, Lupita, who came into my 4 years ago and changed it for the better.

I crossed the finish line in 1:14:19, a 7 minute PR for me, and a decent time for me considering the bobbing and weaving for the first and last mile.

Run to Feed the Hungry results

Run to Feed the Hungry has become a Thanksgiving tradition for many in the Sacramento area, both for those running/walking and those who enjoy spectating. I can’t help but think it’s a must run for me going forward. The spirit of the event was amazing!

I can’t speak much to the after-race party, because when I finished the run it was all about getting down to business. I finally met back up with the Mr. and it was time to get home to start cooking. I was on-deck for dressing and candied yams.

Thanksgiving candied yams

I wish I had taken a picture of our full spread of food because we did amazing things this year, but to be honest I was way too busy enjoying the deliciousness. A shout out to my Aunt for the tasty green beans, and to Yvette for the delicious adobo. (FYI Yvette, you’ve been offered money to produce adobo on a regular when you’re interested!)

I still say the best part of Thanksgiving is the morning after omellette courtesy of the Mr….eggs + cheese + turkey + stuffing + bacon = amazing. I’m so sad the pictures came out a little blurry, but the food was perfect!

Thanksgiving Omelette

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

Always, Sierra

How was your Thanksgiving? Did you do a Turkey Trot? Favorite food you ate?

Did you do any Black Friday shopping? 

 

 

 

 

Vacationing in Aruba, 8/10 to 8/13

Guys, Aruba was a much-needed breath of fresh air. This was my first view of the ocean and I was utterly enchanted.Our hosts, Deno and Helen, very generously picked us up at the airport when we arrived on Saturday and delivered us to their timeshare at Marriott’s Aruba Surf Club. The drive to the resort was such a visually interesting experience. Aruba used to be a Dutch colony, and there was a great contrast of gingerbread-y architecture and open air island markets.

driving in Aruba

If I had to change anything, I would only have asked for more time, but we made the most of what we had. Bags were dropped off, swimsuits and cover-ups were donned, and we made our way down to Hadicurari, a restaurant on Palm Beach. I ordered a grouper sandwich off the lunch menu, and could not believe how delicious it tasted. At first I thought they added special ingredients, but then I realized it was just slathered in mayo. I always hold the mayo these days and I had forgotten how creamy and tasty that stuff is! We settled back to soak in the island life and the local beer, Balashi.

Hadicurari

beach lounging

That first night, I had a near-gout experience. Deno treated us to an unforgettable meal at Texas de Brazil. It was my first time at a Brazilian Steakhouse, and I wasn’t ready. Let me repeat, I was not ready.

We had a bit of a wait time before we were seated, and when we were shown to our table, I was ready to get down with some food. The meat was succulent and juicy (especially the chicken sausage), and before I knew it I had consumed at least 48 lbs of it. True story. And then I decided to top it off with creme brulee because why not. We had planned on going out that night but by the time we made it back to our suite, meat coma had struck us all. It was a rough, uncomfortable night.

Texas de Brazil

Despite having gained 10 lbs overnight, I fearlessly threw on a two piece the next day for some fun catamaran action. This was the only excursion we did while in Aruba, and it was easily the highlight of the trip. Our first snorkeling stop was over a shipwreck which totally made me feel like a treasure hunter. The water was pretty deep so I couldn’t see a lot of the WWII ship, but it was still pretty awesome. These black and white fish were the friendliest and if you held your fingers out like you had food, a school of them would come up and swarm around in front of you. Some people on our boat saw a sea turtle!

catamaran

The thing I ended up loving the most about the excursion was the rope swing on the boat!! I’ve never in my life used one of those things, and for my first swing over the water I screamed bloody murder (I almost drowned out the laughter from the boat). The second swing was rough too, our fearless captain was attempting to give me a good push for more speed, and instead I slipped off the boat before I was ready. By the third go round I was a freaking pro!

rope swing

When we made our way back to the beach and the resort area, we headed over to MooMba Beach Bar & Restaurant for a few libations. I loved the vibe of this place. It’s an open-air palapa right on the beach, and a perfect stop after a dip in the ocean. The bartenders were friendly, prices decent and hamburgers were surprisingly large and tasty (again with that mayo!). MooMba is the place to be on Sunday nights, for visitors and islanders, and when we made our way back there later that night, it was packed.

MooMba

I had been hoping to make the 6ish mile round trip run to the California Lighthouse, but I just couldn’t work up the motivation in the face of all that humidity. I wasn’t going to go my whole trip without doing something active (besides posing for pictures), and Monday morning happened to be Zumba morning at the Marriott. The class was a sweaty good time.

Zumba and cool runnings

The rest of the day was all about take it easy mode. We did a lap at the swim up bar, lounged, chilled with some of the fellow resorters…

iguanas in aruba

…and did some souvenir shopping.

souvenirs in aruba

I didn’t spend all of my money on souvenirs; I saved a little to play with later that night at Stellaris casino. My roulette skills had been hyped up all day, so of course I lost twenty bucks in two minutes. I didn’t lose it at roulette though, I lost it by sitting down at a machine that I thought was penny slots but was really dollar slots. D’oh. Does that only happen to me?

Stellaris casino

Waking up Tuesday was a cold dose of reality. Ashley and James headed out early to catch their flight, but Yvette, Corneka and I had almost a full day to say goodbye to beautiful Aruba. We made our way to a restaurant we hadn’t tried yet, Nos Clubhuis, and it was easily my favorite meal of the trip. We ate lionfish, bony but delicious! We also tried pastechi (like hot pockets only twenty times better) and funchi.

Nos Clubhuis

And then it was time to wish Aruba a fond farewell.

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Always, Sierra

For another take on Aruba, check out Ashley’s travel log here

Fun Stuff I Haven’t Posted

I missed a whole week of posts and haven’t had a chance to share some of the fun things I’ve been up to lately. A couple of weekends ago, I checked out the California State Fair with my Mom. We’ve gone for almost as long as I can remember, and I look forward to it every year.

Our first stop was the livestock tents, I’m such a sucker for the cute little critters.

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We also checked out one of this year’s special exhibits, Wild Science. As soon as I saw the giant versions of my favorite games I was super psyched. Life-size scrabble? Game on!

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Every year, the State Fair has I think 8-9 galleries set up with different arts, skills and crafts that people submit for competition. It spans all age groups, and covers everything from raising chickens to designing houses. When I was younger, I never had the patience to look through everything, but now it’s one of my favorite reasons for going. It’s inspiring to see so much creativity in one place, and here were a couple of my favorites.

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That sugar skull is so detailed!

I also had some specialized superhero training. My first lesson was the importance of color coordinating.

practicing being the hulk

The weirdest food we saw was deep-fried watermelon, which made me think of this awesome blogger, but at $7 we decided to pass. We feasted on gyros and fried zucchini instead.

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Already looking forward to next year!

I also recently attended the wedding of a good friend of mine. I’ve known R for over 6 years, and it was crazy to see him all grown up and getting married. He’s found an awesome woman to share the rest of his life with, C is as feisty, generous and loving as he is. Their wedding was at The Gardens at Heather Farms, and it was a little warm but the gorgeous venue made up for it. C walked down the aisle through the gardens to the classic Etta James hit A Sunday Kind of Love, and all kinds of tears were flowing.

R&C

Part of the fun was having the two best dates ever, I love these gals!

R&C2We occupied ourselves with photo shoots while waiting for the couple to make their first appearance. How awesome is that squash bird/carved watermelon combo?

Also, you might recognize my dress from here. The beauty of weddings involving different groups of friends is getting to recycle a great outfit. Save money and still look cute? Yes please!

The couple kicked off the reception with their first dance, and spent the rest of the evening celebrating their union.

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Congrats R & C, wishing you many years of happiness and love!

Always, Sierra

What fun have you been up to lately?

Do you ever recycle wedding outfits?

What’s your favorite fair treat?