Monday, September 30, 2013

Autumn 2013 Book Challenge: The Preliminary List

Remember that time I made a goal to read 52 books this year? Yeah, maybe this wasn't the year to try to read a book per week. At first I kept a great pace, and so far I've read 21 books. My Goodreads challenge shows that I'm 17 books behind schedule...

I've been meaning to load my Nook up with books for a while and now that my race training is dying down I think I'll be finding I have some spare time to keep working towards my goal. When I saw that Megan at Semi-Charmed Kind of Life was having an autumn book challenge I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to get back at it. I also enjoyed the fun themes for selecting books to read for this challenge!

It took a while to make my list since I only borrow ebooks from the library I had to make sure everything I wanted to read would be available. I'm looking forward to kicking off the challenge with two books I've had on my to-read list for ages: Love in the Time of Cholera and Me Talk Pretty One Day.


A book that does not have "the," "a" or "an" in the title // Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris 
A book featured in Oprah's Book Club // Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A book that takes place in the state where you currently live // Big Stone Gap, Adriana Trigiani
An epistolary novel // The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon
A book first published in 2013 // Dad is Fat, Jim Gaffigan
A book with something spooky in the title // Dark Places, Gillian Flynn
A book with "air, "water," "earth" or "fire" in the title // Water Cooler Diaries: Women Across America Share Their Day at Work, Joni B. Cole
A book on which a television series has been based // Orange is the New Black, Piper Kerman
A fiction book that has someone's first and last name in the title // The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes, Diane Chamberlain
Two books by the same author // Big Cherry Holler & Milk Glass Moon, Adriana Trigiani {same series as Big Stone Gap}
A fiction and nonfiction book about the same topic // The Trouble I've Seen, Martha Gellhorn & The Worst Hard Time, Timothy Egan {both about the Great Depression}

Time to get reading, let's see if I can make it through these 13 books by the end of 2013. Interested in the challenge? Head over to Megan's blog for all of the rules and join in the fun!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

TBT: Past Races

I looked at the calendar and somehow it's two days until my 10 miler, and barely a week until my half marathon. My mind has seriously not caught up to how far my body has come. I'm in utter shock that my races are here!

With this thought I found it appropriate to honor Throwback Thursday with the races that lead me to where I am today. For those who are new around here my running journey began a little over a year and a half ago, you can catch up on that here. During my last semester of grad school I found running as an escape during one of the busiest times of my life. 

Since then I've ran a handful of races, signed up for the Disney Princess Half Marathon, hurt my hip, cancelled the Princess Half, ran my first post-injury mile, and signed up yet again to complete a half marathon.


Get to the Green 5k, Columbia SC // March 2012
This was my first race ever! When a group of friends from grad school said they were going to run it I decided to finally try and meet a goal I'd had forever to run a 5k. I set out to train (aka start running) and got up to 3.1 a month before the race. I was so proud to come in under my goal of 35 minutes even with a surprise hill I didn't know I was going to encounter.

HCA VA 8k, Richmond VA // November 2012
I thought a 10k would be the next step but with a popular 8k in town I went that route. This was my first dose of running in the cold. I thought I was going to die during my first training run where the temperature had dropped below 50*. It was even pretty chilly the day of the race, and at this point I had already hurt my hip but again came in under my goal of an hour at 51 minutes.

Carytown 10k, Richmond VA // May 2013
I had hopes of running the ridiculously popular Monument Ave. 10k but wanted to take my re-introduction to running easy so I didn't hurt myself again. This Cinco de Mayo race fit the bill! I went into this race with no goals or expectations of time, but mainly to just finish. I finished strong without stopping at 1:05 and was so proud that I actually emailed my PT after the race to show him my progress.

On Friday afternoon I'll leave work a bit early to head west to Lynchburg for The Genworth Virginia 10 Miler. I'm going with my friend Diana who I ran the 8k with, although when I say "ran with" I really mean that we drove there and back. I run in Diana's dust but I'm OK with that and proud of her speed! 

I'm excited and nervous at the same time and just keep thinking of my running reward which is going to be a trip to the J.Crew Clearance Store. Who wouldn't run for that? I'm sure you'll see some updates on Saturday after the race, and I'll be sure to provide a recap next week. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Getting Organized

Before I was even engaged I stashed away tons of articles and tips on Pinterest on how to stay organized while wedding planning. As someone who has had experience planning several large scale events I had no hesitations about planning a kickin' party for my closest family and friends, but when I started to get into it I realized it was a bit more to keep up with than I originally thought.

Enter the wedding binder!


There are some great resources out there but after trying to play around with The Knot for a few weeks too long I realized I would need to figure out a different system to work with. I took information from several sources and thought about what methods usually work best for me and I knew that a tangible (and adorable) binder was going to be the best way for me to go.

THE Binder
You're going to become intimately familiar with your wedding binder throughout your engagement so spend time finding something you love. I found this polka dot binder at Target and they had a ton of different patterned binders to choose from, find something that's your style. Grab some stickers or a paint pen and make it your own, add your name or better yet your future name! I printed off some of the images I found on Pinterest that inspired the colors and feel for our wedding and taped them on the inside of my binder so I have some eye candy every time I open it up. A picture of you and your fiance is also a good idea!

Once you have the binder you're going to need to fill it, trust my advice and splurge for divider that have folder pockets on them. They are crucial for stashing away business cards, brochures, and other materials that you can't hole punch. Here's how I organized my dividers:
  • Venue {contracts, floor plans, pictures, and details on your venue(s)}
  • Catering & Sweets {all things food, sweet and simple}
  • Guest List {finalized guest list, RSVPs, seating chart, gifts received, thank you's sent, gift bags}
  • Bridal Party & Attire {details & receipts, attire choices for bridal party, checklist}
  • Photo/Video/Paper {photog contract, must-have photo list, info for save the date & invitations}
  • Vendors {all contracts, details, pictures, business cards & comprehensive contact list}
  • Rehearsal {everything and anything for the rehearsal & dinner!}
  • Timeline & Details {ceremony plan, day of timeline, decoration/set up details, miscellaneous}



Checklists
You can find checklists galore on the internet. There's a pretty comprehensive one on The Knot, then there are some cool timeline infographics like this and this, and finally there are some phenomenal blog posts out there like this one with links to free printables to use in your binder. I decided to use these different resources as a guide and created my own on plain old loose leaf paper. I used a different sheet for each month leading up to our wedding, the week of, the day of, and post-wedding. This method works well for me because I was able to customize the list to fit the details of our wedding specifically. For example we're getting married and having our reception at the same venue so that cut out many items that are on sample checklists.

Spreadsheets
Some things are just easier in a good ol' spreadsheet: guest lists and budget. Use one spreadsheet for your guest list and create multiple tabs for different wedding festivities like the rehearsal dinner, bridal shower, bachelorette, etc. Immediately add all of the addresses you already know and then contact the remaining guests for their information. Excel is clearly your best friend when it comes to the budget. Even spreadsheet illiterate people like myself can do it! There's a wedding budget template...shhhhhh.

Google Drive
For brides that are planning all the time and all over the place Google Drive can be your best friend. It's a great place to keep your guest list so you always have access to it, but I've found some uses that work well for me. I have one master spreadsheet with a few different tabs:
  • Music {keep track of your must plays, don't plays, and ideas for the first dance, father daughter, etc.}
  • Vendor Research {great way to keep track of recommendations from friends, that cute bakery you pass by while shopping, etc. to look into later}
  • Registry {master list of what to register for and conveniently on your phone so while you're cooking and realize you don't have a garlic press open your Google Drive app and voila! add it to the list}

Get a system going early and find a regular time each week that you can sit down to do some planning, a routine is one of the best ways to tackle this beast. At the end of the day don't stress out, and remember...

via

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mile 9 & Tea Time

I continue to be amazed at just how far my legs can take me. Yesterday morning I conquered nine miles and can't believe that my 10 miler is just one week away.

At first I was a bit apprehensive about this run because I didn't get in the amount of mileage that I wanted during the week. Also I have been doing my long runs up and down Grove Avenue in Richmond which is a flat, straight course, and yesterday I ran back home at my parents house. This meant running in a rural neighborhood and also LOTS of hills. Which I guess was good preparation considering this 10 miler is supposedly super hilly.


It was a nice change of scenery and there was something fitting about running in the neighborhood I grew up in while also listening to "Summer Hits of the 2000s" on Pandora. Clutch. I thought a good deal about how I never could have ran this far when I was in high school. In gym class I could barely make a B for our timed mile run and here I was whizzing past my high school on my nine mile jaunt. Take that!

After mile seven I honestly felt like I was on autopilot. My legs just kept on going it almost felt easier to keep chugging along than it would have been to stop at that point. Such a weird feeling.

I'm pumped to be so close to race day and actually feeling pretty ready. I know that the course is going to be pretty tough but I've realized that my mindset is such a major part of conquering these longer runs. I have some mad pep talks with myself when I even have fleeting thoughts about stopping. I can't wait to get my new polish to celebrate the milestone!

Somehow I wasn't completely wiped like I usually am after my long runs which was good since I was back in my hometown for one of my best friend's bridal shower. It was one of the most adorable showers, I felt like I had stepped into a Pinterest picture! Her sister, and MOH, threw the shower which was an afternoon tea and there were many little details that made it so special.
Wedding festivities to celebrate my friends is definitely getting me more excited for our wedding. Now that we finally took engagement pictures and are starting to do some real planning it's getting much more real. The joy and awkwardness of a long engagement.

Hope y'all savor the rest of this weekend!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The World Will Go On

This is a little mantra I sometimes have to repeat in my head, or sometimes even out loud. Yes, sometimes I talk to myself. I have spent the better part of my twenty five years being ridiculously on time for everything on my calendar, whether a meeting for work or just getting in front of my TV five minutes before a show starts.

I think some of this comes from my mother who is extremely timely and taught me to also plan well and think ahead. I'll admit I think some of this also comes from a little bit of FOMO (ya know, fear of missing out) because I hate being the last one to show up when everyone is already have tons of fun.

Lately I've been working on trying not to get so anxious about time because Mr. Young is completely opposite of me in this department. And yes, this causes much stress for us. When I'm in the car racing to my destination I've tried to slow it down and remind myself that if I'm three minutes late "the world will go on" (for most things). Driving any faster really isn't going to make a big difference and it just puts me on edge. At that point if I'm already going to be a bit late, why stress over it?

via
This morning I finally found myself acting pretty calm in this type of situation. I decided to update to iOS7 over night (which I don't care for at all, more on that later) and didn't realize that this would mean that my alarm wouldn't go off. Mr. Young and I get up at pretty much the same time so I don't stress because one of our alarms will always go off.

Surprise, not today!

My internal clock had me up at 7:00am, forty five minutes after we were supposed to be up, and I first freaked out because I was supposed to run six miles before work (who was I kidding with that goal?). Then I realized Mr. Young was still asleep and screamed "GET UP IT'S 7:00!! IT'S 7:00! OMG!"

Typically this wouldn't be the biggest wrench in his plans but today of all days he had a faculty meeting before work. While he ran for the shower I started stressing over how I didn't get to run and I said to myself "Self, get it together! If that's the worst that happens today you're not doing too bad." Instead I ran downstairs to help Mr. Young get ready.

With impeccable timing he came downstairs to grab his lunch, breakfast, and coffee I somehow threw together in three minutes and was out the door at 7:10.

Although he was freaking out during those ten minutes I kept reminding him that he is a responsible employee and being 5-10 minutes late for his meeting was not going to be that detrimental. For someone who's worked 7:30am-9:30pm every day this week, I think missing an alarm is exactly what he needed.

So when you're running around today in your crazy life remember that the only thing it's going to do is stress you out. Don't mosy along to your appointments, but please don't sprint either. I promise it will be OK, and if not we can all move to Europe where five minutes late (or more) is the norm.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: $300 Million Dollars

Although this blog has only recently become Chasing Young, I must pay hommage to her predecessor, My Semi-Charmed Life. When I saw that today would be my 300th blog post since establishing this little piece of the internet back in May 2010 I knew I should do something to commemorate the momentous occasion, but what exactly would that be?

After kicking off my new Wedding Wednesday series last week I decided I would blend these two themes. Also, THANK YOU! to all of those who share their words of wisdom via comments and email about wedding registries. I really need to get a handbook on all of this, it's like a science. If you have some good advice about registries you didn't get to share, please share all of your insight with me on this post!

So, back to Wedding Wednesday...

For this week I was first thinking of doing a daydream post of what kind of wedding I'd have if I had a million dollar budget. To incorporate the celebration of my 300th post I've upped the ante to $300 million dollars. 

At first I began to imagine a wedding in some type of barn-esque type building decorated with billowy fabric, big chandeliers lighting the space, and hydrangeas everywhere. Something rustic yet still classic and slightly glam. Fine china, silky linens, and a live band for the soundtrack. Maybe a bit like this...

via
By the way I highly encourage you to head over to this photographer's blog because this is seriously one of the most gorgeous weddings. Legit size bottles of wine for favors?

Once I came up with this beautiful scene in my head I realized something else. If I had $300 million dollars (heck if I only had one million) I would run to the nearest wedding planning boutique, sign up for a full service package, and have them plan this for me. Then I'd like to sit in an oversized chair drinking champagne and eating Trader Joe's cookie butter from a spoon while they give me options for flowers, food, and other details and I simply select what I like the most.

Damn, that sounds amazing. Alas I have no where near $300 million dollars, however I am still determined to have that rustic yet classic wedding and am excited about many fun ideas to start bringing to life with planning. 

In real life we tasted some phenomenal cupcakes and took our engagement pictures this weekend. Both were an absolute blast, I'm glad some of the fun parts of being engaged are coming into my life. Want a sneak peak at our pics? Check out our wedding website/blog.

Happy Wednesday lovelies, what would YOU do with a $300 million dollar wedding budget? 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Dear Mindy: Seeking BFF

Dear Mindy,

You have come into my life so quickly and completely absorbed me in every way possible. Just last week I was going along my daily routine when for the first time in months I decided to sit down in front of the television. Rather than put on HGTV and watch another endless marathon of House Hunters I decided to do something a bit different.

Yes, I hit the On Demand button.

Then there were so many choices. TV show? Movie? Made for TV movie? Although we all know the latter is a cop-out and is probably no good if it couldn't get into theaters. I digress.

I remembered someone telling me how much I would love you and then briefly thought back to the short fling we had this past winter. It still brings a smile to my face when I think about reading Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

With this thought in mind I quickly clicked through the entire TV show listing because I'm sad to say that I had no clue what network you lived on. I settled in with your first episode...and five more later I emerged.

I must say how much I look up to you and wish that I had the balls to pull some of the same stunts. Example one, the first season pilot. You finally think that you have fallen in love for life when it's ripped from your hands and your previous beau gets engaged faster than Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries' divorce. It was completely rational for you to both drink a tad too much at his wedding and give a speech. People that tell you they'll love you forever and turn that quickly deserve to have their weddings ruined. Preach girl!

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When I realized that your new season will be coming to me so quickly I put it in gear and have quickly worked my way through season one. I have become enchanted with you and need to ask you something rather important, will you be my best friend?

I would be honored to borrow clothes from your beautiful closet room, grab dim sum with you at all hours of the night, and take tequila shots with you even though I have personal commitment to no longer drink straight liquor (my poor stomach never recovered from college). I would laugh at your segment with Erica on the local news and I would have never lured you to a surprise birthday party with the bait of a blind date. I still can't believe that happened. You call them your real friends?

While I know that you already have Gwen, Alex, and Maggie, and even Shauna and Betsy, you said it best yourself when you taught Danny how "best friend isn't a person...it's a tier." So if you'll have me feel free to comment and we can find some time to meet up. Trust me, this will be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Sincerely yours,
Anna

Monday, September 16, 2013

One Month In

Yesterday marked one whole month since we got the keys to our new house. I seriously can't believe how quickly it's flown! On one hand I feel like we've already been living here forever, and then sometimes I still can't remember where I put some my kitchen gadgets. True life, freaked out this weekend when I couldn't find out bottle opener so that I could enjoy some Leinenkugel Oktoberfest, tragedy!

Moving to me is always like a puzzle. Once you get into your new place many of your belongings will find a home, some things need to be repurposed for the new environment, and some might just not fit anymore. This is the game I've been playing over the past couple weeks now that we're getting pretty settled. Some deets on our experience so far:

Love...
...that we have awesome storage in our attic
...that we just have space in general
...that I have my own little office (!!!!)
...that we can walk to Einstein bagels and Cookout (dangerous)
...that we get tons of light, the back of the house in the morning and the front in the evening

Don't love so much...
...that we have no dishwasher (but getting better at that)
...that I feel like I sweep our hardwood floors 34548 times each week
...that our master bath is teeny tiny
...that our closet space sucks

I'm pretty proud at the progress we've made so far, especially considering that we moved the weekend before things ramped up for both me and Mr. Young at work. A late August move date for two people that work in education may have not been the most ideal, but we've made the best of the situation.

Now onto the meat of this post! We have plans for this little house and while she's currently in an OK state there's walls we'd like to paint, furniture we'd like to re-vamp, and still a few boxes to unpack. I'm going to start with sharing the bare bones of our humble abode and after I clean this dump next I'll show you how we've settled in so far.

Welcome!
The front of the house

The Living Room

Living Room

Living Room

My office

Dining Room

Kitchen

Kitchen

Kitchen

Downstairs hallway

Downstairs bathroom

Linen closet

Mr. Young's "game room"

Game Room

Game Room

Guest Room

Guest Room

Guest Room

Guest Room

Stairs to master

Blank canvas of a wall!

Master bedroom

Master

Master

Tiny closet :(

Master Bath

Master Bath

Master Bath

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Registries

Now that we've been engaged for a little over six months I can give you the full report: it's silly. Planning a wedding is definitely not as glamorous as it looks (unless you have an unlimited budget and time) and I seriously cannot believe how much money we are going to spend on a 6-8 hour shindig. That could be one killer honeymoon.

I guess since we're officially under 300 days until the wedding (we set our date for June 28, 2014!) I should start getting on the real planning train. I've booked most of our big vendors by now and we're taking engagement photos and doing a cake tasting this weekend, the most exciting things to date besides finding the perfect dress in June. ps. if you're interested, check out the wedding blog we're keeping to update family and friends!

Since I know I have quite a few lovely readers who have recently been married or are engaged I've decided to use y'all as help during this process! I'm lucky that one of my best friends was married in July and another has an upcoming January wedding so I've had a lot of support and information shared, but I always like to get as many opinions as possible. Insert Wedding Wednesday which will be advice seeking posts, fun updates, or maybe just wedding daydreams if I'm having a lazy week...



REGISTRIES

I can't tell you how excited I was when I woke up the morning we were going to start our first registry. Since I've found planning a bit stressful I knew this was one thing I'd love: shopping without paying the bill. Zing! However I quickly found out just how overwhelming it was and also hated that the guy at Bed Bath & Beyond wouldn't let us just run around the store by ourselves which I'll be requesting next time after he had us register for the most expensive everything. 

You can register for everything and anything in the world and that is both thrilling and terrifying. We want to register for nice things, but I also think it's ridiculous to ask a guest spend $20 on a set of four measuring cups unless they're made of gold, in which case they'd probably be much more expensive, but I digress. Luckily I've been keeping a Google Doc linked to my phone so that while I'm cooking or doing things around the house and think "I wish I had a [insert object here]!" I can make a note and add it to the registry later. 

What I want to find out today are a few things from you experienced brides and wives...

What did you register for that you definitely didn't need and never use?
What do you wish you had registered for but didn't include on your list?
What are your favorite wedding gifts that came from your registry that are must-haves to include?
For your kitchen appliances what brands did you get, and do you like them?

I would love any of your input surrounding wedding registries that you are willing to share to help us along this journey. So far we've decided to register at Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Honeyfund, and I may potentially put together a small Etsy registry as I find things to decorate the new house

Happy hump day and thanks in advance for your tips and tricks!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Full Steam Ahead

Remember that one time I signed up for a 10 miler and a half marathon and vowed to chronicle my training through this little blog? Well I've definitely sucked at that but am back with some highlights and missteps of the journey so far.

Before I jump into running update on the big move...
With help from both our families and friends here in Richmond we moved everything in one day! I am still amazed. Some highlights from the move...
-We had to saw our boxspring in half to get it upstairs to our bedroom (more on that later)
-One of our cats is still so freaked out that we think she's losing weight
-It's really easy to downsize your wardrobe when you move into a house with closets 1/5 of the size of your previous one
-Space is nice but keeping up with a yard is slightly overrated

So to get to the juicy stuff I have been progressing with the training plan I put together, and although I did fall a week behind I'm still getting up there on mileage. On my six mile week I only went five due to running in the heat when I'm used to running in cool dark mornings. The next week (same day we moved, not a bright idea...) I finally passed my personal record and hit seven miles. Of course the GPS in my watch went out halfway through so I didn't get the gratification of seeing the big number or a new record on my watch since it was essentially split in two.

I promptly went to Target and got some new running gear and my first training polish to reap the first of my running rewards.


I am loving my new running capris! While it's still a bit warm here to wear them I'm glad to have another pair for fall. I have tons of running shorts but definitely noticed my shortage of longer running bottoms this past fall and winter. The new top is definitely my favorite of them all. The color is "orange sorbet" and while I may look bright and reflective like a construction worker I love it. The top is so light and breathable I may go back and buy a few more.

As I looked at bras I definitely should have chosen something more sensible. I've been wanting one with thinner straps and didn't think about the fact that it might not be quite as supportive. It wasn't awful for running but I'll definitely keep it reserved for other activities. The nail polish...swoon! It's been a long time since I've worn a pastel color, although I had an entire collection back in middle school. While I think this is a great color for spring I had fun wearing it to celebrate the last days of summer. The name of this one is Full Steam Ahead, hence the post title.

Mile Eight
Yes, this post is continuing. And that was a horrible transition. It's been a few weeks so I have gone a bit farther. I hit mile eight this past Friday and although I was excited when it was finished, I hated just about every step after mile four. First, it was sunny and warmer than my usual runs since I had to take Mr. Young to work that morning and got started late. This messes with me more than I'll ever realize.

I stopped and walked for a block after mile four before continuing and really didn't want to start again. However, I was now four miles from my car so that wasn't happening. I kept trudging back and then my knees started to get sore which happened on my seven mile run too. It literally took everything I had and a lot of coaching to get to the end. I just kept telling myself "run to that stop sign", "run to that next block," "run to that pole," until I made it back.

I all but collapsed on the floor when I got back to the gym (where I started from) and immediately chugged two bottles of water before my cool down walk and stretching. To be completely honest I felt pretty defeated, and disgustingly drenched in sweat.

The trainer that I worked with when I trained for the 8k last fall was there so after chatting with him I realized the mistake I've been making this time around: major slacking on weight training. This is why my knees have been starting to hurt as I up my mileage so I'm hoping that by really going full force with it now I can build myself up to be able to continue my long runs without struggling so much.

So that's where I am and I'm taking it day by day at this point. I'm still on for both races, I'm registered and have hotels. I don't even have the slightest thought of giving up but need to adjust before I hurt myself again. Who wants to be twenty five with horrible knees? Not this girl.

I know some of my lovely readers out there are also training for races so I hope this hasn't been something you've skimped on and would love to hear how your training is going!