Monday, December 21, 2009

Superstars revisited!

Last Friday, we got to do a great small group performance at the Fountain Square Theater swing dance. There was all sorts of fun lindy hop craziness--jumps and drops and flips!
There were three couples dancing the routine, Jon and Sandy, Kathy and Aaron, and Doug and I. We've been working on this routine since early in the fall, managed not to mortally injure each other in the process and had a great time!

Kathy and Aaron are the same great dancers who taught the original "Superstars" performance class for us last year. In addition to teaching us all the whole routine, they also did the choreography for the second half of the dance.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How's this for wonderfully sweet?

For the past few months, I've been searching for my wedding dress (yay!). There will be a lot of dancing at our fabulous party, so I've been trying to find a great dress to dance in. Since I also have a fondness for great vintage swing dance clothes, it seemed like a great idea to try to find a 40s or 50s style dress...and hopefully one that I might be able to wear again for fancy swing dance events again!


But it turns out that there's a bazillion full-length wedding gowns with trains, but not so many that are tea-length. Sigh. I did actually find some gorgeous "short" wedding dresses by a designer named Stephanie James, but I am SO not spending $1700-3000 on a dress (even though I desperately want to!)


I also took a trip up to Chicago late last summer to spend the day dress hunting with my sisters and niece. Although we didn't actually count how many dresses I tried on that day (at least 30) the very last one I put on had some potential. The right length, kinda twirly, not super ridiculously expensive... Definitely the best of the bunch, but still not exactly what I was looking for.

My mom missed out on this little shopping expedition, but we took photos. She had also seen the great 50s style dresses I was longing for, and suggested that she could make my dress for me. I love my mom. She's great. :) We've both spent the last month looking for vintage style patterns, and I went home last weekend so we could decide on a pattern and start shopping for material.

So here's the really wonderfully sweet and sappy part of the story. It turns out my Mom has kept the pattern she used to make her dress 48ish years ago. And after really taking a look at it, it seemed pretty close to the style I want...so we decided to use it as the pattern for my wedding dress. Sweet, eh?

The other really cute part of this story, is that my mother still has the wedding dress she made for herself. Back when I was in junior high, she had decked it out for me to wear in two school musicals...Glinda in the Wizard of Oz and the fairy godmother in Cinderella. This weekend we pulled off all the sequins, puffed sleeves, and alterations. It still makes me smile that my mom let me use her wedding dress for school plays. I love my mom. She's awesome. :)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Eeeek! Running from Zombies!

Let me state from the beginning of this post, that running is for crazy people. And as it turns out, I must be crazy.

I am pretty sure that I never really liked running very much. I have some rather vague memories from grade school gym class that I was never a particularly fast runner either. And in the few sports that I played back then--volleyball and softball--I could pretty much get away without doing much running at all. :) I do know that in gym in high school, we had to run a 12 minute mile, but I'm pretty sure that it was just a one time thing. And with some pretty half-hearted attempts to jog through Fairview Park with my college roomie Jenni, I'm pretty sure that my feeble attempts at any sort of distance running ended at age 18.
Two years ago, I started blogging a little about my forays into the weird world of running. In fact, about this time of year in 2007, I completed my first 5k race. While my plan had been to walk that race, I ended up being shamed into running a portion of it by an adorable little 74 year old lady named Edna, whose slow but steady running pace was kicking my butt! I finished that first race with pace that I was pretty shocked and happy with...37:56...pretty close to a 12 minute mile.

Back then, running as consistent form of exercise seemed like such an insurmountable task for me. I was still really overweight and still recovering from my (3rd) knee surgery. Oh, and I really hated running. It made my knees ache, and my legs hurt, and gave me blisters, and pretty much left me feeling like I wanted to die. And really, running is for crazy people.

But wow, running was SO much better and faster at burning calories than all the other cardio I was doing. And I was feeling so satisfied with the fact that I COULD actually run. And by working at it, I was increasing my mileage and speed. So all through that winter, I worked on adding to my distance, and in April of 2008 I ran a 5 mile trail run. Well, mostly ran. It was crazy hilly, so there was a fair amount of trudging uphills, and running the rest of it.

Today is the two year anniversary of my reintroduction to running. There's been a bunch of races (listed on the left side of the blog) since then. So I celebrated by running the Fort Ben 5k again, that same 5k that started all of this craziness. And since the results just posted, I am pretty
happy about my finish time, 30:54.6. Wahoo! That's a 9:57 pace! And this was despite the change in the 5k route this year, which included a really friggin' evil long uphill. So I'm pretty thrilled all around.
So it seems that I've turned into one of those people. Those people who run. Sigh.



Anyway, let me get to the explanation about the zombies in the title of the post. A few months ago, I decided to try out the Nike+ gizmo--a sensor that goes in your shoe and records your pace & distance on your iPod. I'm all about figuring our ways to motivate myself into exercising, and this seemed like a great tool for that. My friend Jill had used it last year and it intrigued me enough to try it out. And now I'm totally hooked on it. During your runs and after, you get feedback through your iPod about your distance & pace, best run times, and congratulations on finishing your workouts. And all of your run information uploads to the Nike+ site, so you can track your progress, set goals, and join challenges with other Nike+ weirdos.

Doug, as a rule, doesn't really need too much motivation to run. In fact, he's usually been my motivation for running most days, but I've also lured him into the Nike+ fold. And in turn, we've also pulled our great friends Valerie and Darren into our insanity by challenging them to join us-- in running away from zombies! Val had mentioned that she was looking for motivation to add some more exercise into her daily routine...so we decided to create a challenge that was fun and silly.

Doug has been coming up with a pretty elaborate story segments about zombie uprisings that force us to run so many miles to escape the zombies--like 20 miles in 2 weeks. When we finish one segment of the challenge, we can see the next zombie story line and start the next mileage challenge. Doug sends us out the stories by email, along with some great zombie photos (a bunch of our other friends are helping out by sending in photos of themselves as zombies).

So far, this has been REALLY motivational. It turns out that we all might be just a wee bit competitive. The first week, my weekly mileage jumped from 10 miles to 20 miles, mostly because Valerie and Doug were catching up with me, and I didn't want to be left behind to be eaten by zombies!

Anyway...it turns out that you can become a born-again-runner. But, I will state for the record, that I still hate running. :) I love that I can do it, but it still is totally a crazy activity.

Thanks to everybody, for all the love & encouragement that I keep hearing from you--especially as my annoying shoes keep posting on Facebook. And smooches to Doug for being a fabulous motivator and to Darren and Valerie for joining us in our foolish games!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

And now for the sparkly ring!

When Doug propsed, he sweetly gave me a Claddagh ring (it's in the picture in the last post). It's a traditional Irish ring, symbolizing love, friendship and loyalty. It was a wonderful choice!

He decided to give me the Claddagh during the proposal, but he wanted us to pick out a nice shiny sparkly ring together. Which we did. It's very shiny. And sparkly. We love it.

The photo doesn't do it justice, and the small stones in the band are sapphires. Pretty, eh?

Yay!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We changed our Facebook status to "engaged"...it must be true!

Yep. Doug asked me to marry him on Sunday night.

At the behest of various friends...here's the story.

Last weekend, we spent a wonderful few days with our friends Valerie and Darren, as guests of Darren's sister & brother-in-law at their amazing cabin near a lake down by Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. We boated, we jet skied, we rode horses, we played games, we geocached, we sang and played music, we laughed and chatted, and had an all around fabulous time. (Thanks Kathy & Mike!)

Doug claims that he had a fabulous plan. Since we managed to leave the cabin by mid-afternoon on Sunday, we should have made it back to Indy by 8 pm or so. That would give us plenty of time have a nice glass of wine by the pond, watch the beautiful sunset, and to savor a wonderful weekend. He would say all sorts of romantic things and I wouldn't be able to resist his perfect proposal.

Ha! Little did Doug know that his carefully laid plans would be foiled by Valerie, Darren and I. But really, shouldn't he know by now how easily we're distracted? By shiny things, "Ooooh! Fort Knox!" And by food, "Ooooh! Steak!" And by spooky roadside attractions, "Ooooh! Haunted Sanitarium!!!"

By the time we finally got back to Indianapolis, it was well past dark, the lonely cats had taken their revenge on some defenseless furniture, phone calls missed over the weekend needed to be returned...and we were just exhausted. And yet, Doug would not be thwarted. He did manage to convince me--despite my whining--to sit down for a nice cuddle and to relish the good weekend we'd just spent together. Then he said all sorts of romantic things and I wasn't able to resist his (not quite as perfect as planned) proposal.

I especially enjoyed that part when the ring box got caught in his pocket.

But really, the best part was that the guy that I've loved forever asked me to marry him.

Even though it was pretty late by the time all the cooing and grinning and cuddling was finished, I was able to call my parents with the good news that night...how often do I get to give my mom an engagement for her birthday present?! I managed to get the news out to all my sisters by early Monday morning....which was good, because by noon, my cousin Rory from Ireland was already congratulating me via Skype. It is just a little scary how well my family's transatlantic grapevine works! :) Doug also managed to give the happy news to his parents, brother and sister after work on Monday.

And then I was able to be obnoxious, and changed our relationship status on Facebook. Heehee.

Update: our next post has a pretty picture of the official engagement ring.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

fences, fishes, and bowls...

It's been a busy spring. After many many days last month of many many hours in the garden, things are really looking wonderful! Nearly all of the things on the "to do" list from my last post are finished. Shocking!

Last month, I found a fabulous handyman to take down the too-big cedar in the front yard and to finish fencing in the rest of the yard. Yay!

The landscaping around the pond is really starting to come together, and the fishes are growing like mad! Kayaked a bit, danced a bunch, spent two days reveling in the National Road Garage Sale with Valerie and Darren (yay! lots of fun stuff!). I also took a pottery class, and am finally getting work done on the kick wheel that Doug borrowed for me. Just got my first set of bowls back from their final firing. Shiny, pretty bowls!



The rest of the summer is starting to look even busier. Lots of visits with families and friends, and hopefully lots of kayaking, camping, and dancing. My yard is going to see a lot of activity next month as well! I've been asked to be on two garden tours, the Cool Ponds Water Feature Tour on July 10-11 and the INPAWS Native Plant Garden Tour on July 18. The Native Plant Tour is overlapping with my big yard party, which has a pirate theme this year. Some of the tour people may be shocked and entertained to see pirates playing croquet in the garden. :)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Not just a giant hole in the mud anymore!

Yay! The pond is finished! Progressive photos of the project can be found in the album.

It took the guys from Cool Ponds about 3 days to finish the installation. And with Doug's help, it's taken 3 very long weekend days and several weeknights after work to get the rest of the yard in order.

On the completed list:
  • Flagstone path between house and garage
  • Stone path to patio
  • Stepping stones around strawberry bed by the garage
  • Rebuilt poor, abused sod couch into Lawn Armchair (mostly done, still need to buy a roll of sod to finish)
  • Cleaned gutters
  • Built & installed 2nd rain barrel
  • Got koi & goldfish for the pond
  • Lots of mulching done
  • Finished planting redesigned front prairie bed
  • Finished redesigning & turning the veggie beds
  • Bought a new fire dish (to replace the ponded-over fire pit)
On the still to be finished list:
  • Find a contractor to finish fencing the yard
  • Plant the rest of the veggie garden
  • Buy sod to finish up the lawn furniture remodel
  • Prettify the compost bins
  • Finish moving the rest of the dirt from the pond excavation
  • Plant grass seed around the flagstone path and the nook behind the pond
  • Finish planting marginals in the pond
  • Create & plant the 2 bog beds around the pond
  • Get the cannas & elephant ear tubers out of the basement & plant
  • Buy & install a bit more lighting for the pond
  • Dig back the mulch & re-edge the pebble patio with bricks
  • When the first rain barrel gets empty, raise it up on another level of cinder blocks & paint it (no more bright blue barrel!)
  • Get some flower seeds planted around the yard
  • Finish more landscaping around the pond
  • Continue redesigning the front prairie planting to be more acceptable to the lawn police
  • Get the chipper back to the shop to see why it's STILL not running (Sigh)
  • Convince the City of Indianapolis that the prairie planting in the front yard is not weeds
Whew. The "to do" list seems entirely too long. I'm tired already!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Giant Hole in the Mud (aka the new pond)

On this wet and icky morning, digging started on the new pond, which quickly turned the back yard into a giant mud pit.



Sadly, the crew had to throw in the towel after a few hours, due to the treacherous muddy conditions. They should be back on Thursday to finish up digging, install the liner, and schlepp around the boulders! Woohoo!

Friday, April 10, 2009

I would bike 1000 miles, and I would bike 1000 more


I bought a recumbent bike (Rans Rocket), and have had no end of joy biking around town. I've had it since 9/2007, and yesterday, I passed 1000 miles. So, I'm the equivalent of 1/3 of the way across the United States! Wahoo!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Heart Racing Dips

Doug and I took our first class for the "Dips and Tricks" lessons last night with Naptown Stomp. Since I'm a little obsessed with calories & exercise these days, I've been trying to wear my heart rate monitor to all of our dance events, to see what kind of value they have as exercise. I'm still compiling a pool of data on these, but the early results show that real contra & swing dances, even with a few breaks keep my heart rate elevated enough to count as a pretty decent cardio workout. Classes, not so much for the real cardio work out, but they also burn more calories than just lolling about on the couch.

The results from last night's class were hysterically funny. Instructors talk, leaders figure out footwork...70-80 heart rate. Thirty seconds of twirling and dipping...heart rate rockets up to 130-160. It was awesome.

I love dips!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Wonderful Winter Weekend Update

Doug's fancy GPS watch told him that the fastest toboggan run was really 41 mph! Woohoo!

Here's our list of races for this spring:
3/21 Holliday Park 5 mile Trail Run - Indianapolis, IN
4/18 Hellbender Hustle 5k - O'Bannon Woods State Park, IN
4/25 Road Ends 5 mile Trail Run - Pinckney Recreational Area, MI
5/30 Brown County 5k Trail Run - Brown County State Park, IN

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Wonderful Winter Weekend!

I started off this year reinspired to focus on improving my health. Hence restarting my running program. Blech. :)

I have figured out that if I want to run, I can find some extra motivation by training for races. Nope, not the Indy Mini--I still have NO desire to run 13 miles. But I have registered for a few 5Ks and 5 mile trail runs. In the past few years I've walk/run a few 5Ks (for a good giggle, read about how I started running at my first 5k) and one 5 mile trail run, but I haven't ever managed to keep a running pace through the whole of any of them. So I set myself a new goal for this first 5k of the year--I wanted to actually run the whole thing. In training on the treadmill or on the nice flat crushed limestone Indy Towpath, I have done okay running a full 3.1 or 5 miles. But during the races, I haven't been able to continue running where there's been significant uphills. So, the first 2 races of this year are in Indianapolis, a great wonderfully flat place where I can finally finish running a race. And Doug is being a wonderful guy in joining me for these races!

So, we started the weekend by running our first race of the year, the PolarBear 5k through downtown Indianapolis, starting at the Indiana World War Memorial. I was a bit worried about this race, since I had been having some trouble in my training running a full 5k at a pace to match or beat my previous 5k best, 37.56. But despite my worries, we started the race on Saturday morning, at the balmy temperature of 37 degrees, with the forecasted snow/rain mix still holding off. Depite stopping (TWICE!) to retie my shoelaces, we passed the first mile marker at 11:40ish. Woohoo! More or less keeping the same pace for the rest of the race, with a little bit of a sprint at very end of the race, I finished my first all-running 5k race!
"Your overall finish place was 216 and your age group finish place was 12. Your time of 36:26.0 gave you a 11:43 pace per mile."

Immediately after the race, we celebrated by picking up coffee and a tasty chocolate croissant from the Indy Winter Farmer's Market. Yum.

Then we started a three hour drive up to Pokagon State Park to meet our friends, Juliet and Frank, for some toboganning! Yep, there's a toboggan run up in northeast Indiana, about an hour north of Fort Wayne. And we had a fabulous time. It was just about perfect winter weather, a few inches of snow. We ran the toboggan runs a half dozen times, and the winners of the top speed of the day (for us) were Juliet, Frank and Doug at 37 mph. Woohoo!



We finished off Saturday evening by heading back towards Fort Wayne, to a little town called Roanoke, to have dinner a wonderful restaurant called Joseph Decuis. Doug & I had gotten some gift certificates for this place when we bought some amazing soup at the Farmers Market. And the soup from the Market was a great indicator of the fabulous meal that we had. Yum, again!

This morning, we rounded off our wonderful winter weekend by cross country skiing before we left the state park. It's the first time I've skied since high school, and I was pleasantly surprised by finding it way easier than I remembered. Not that there wasn't shrieking and falling, but it was way fun.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Yoga at the office

For a few years, I've been going to a studio about a half mile from my office that offers vinyasa (flow) yoga. It was one of the first fitness routines that I actually enjoyed--when I wasn't in the midst of cursing it or my aching body--and looked forward to on a regular basis. Since then I've been trying to entice some of my co-workers to join me at the noon sessions that they offer. With one person, who already knew some yoga, she loved the classes and joins me regularly. With a completely new to yoga person, it failed miserably. Recently another yoga novice showed some interest in joining us, and I didn't want her to hate yoga too...so....

I sent around an email at work, trying to gauge the interest in having a few beginners group yoga classes during lunch. Fantastically, about 10 folks were interested, so I was able to book a few classes with my favorite yoga instructor, Eric, at a fairly reasonably per person price.

Yesterday was our first class, and it went pretty well. I think a lot of people were pretty shocked at how hard we worked--especially when I reported the calories burned from my heart rate monitor at 400 cal/hour. Which is pretty fun, since what we did in an hour for this class compares with the first 15 minutes of Eric's regular class. (Sadly, the calories burned won't multiply by 4...but even so I usually burn about 500 in an hour in the advanced class, and most of it is in the aerobic range. Not bad for yoga. Vinyasa rocks!)

Taking a yoga basics class was also great encouragement for me. In addition to reminding me of the proper way to do poses, it also really reminded me of how far I've gotten in my own practice over the last few years. I vividly remember my first classes and how crazy hard it was to hold those deceptively easy looking strength poses. Maybe it will also remind me not to be so despondent when I have a hard time holding the crazy poses that I'm trying now. I must remind myself to remember this lesson during the intense 2 hour hot yoga class I'll be taking on Saturday. :)