Saturday, October 25, 2008

VT Fall Colors Road Trip Baby!

Last year Dan and I visited VT for the first time. We took a road trip at the beginning of October. It was one of the best vacations we had ever taken. We headed back around the same time this year and it was just as great.

There's something about Stowe and Smuggler's Notch. The fact that everything is quiet and there's limited cell signal. The fact that there's wine tasting right next to the local cider mill. The fact that there's no noise. . .

This year we did so much! Wine tasting, horseback riding, hiking, a lantern tour of Stowe, trips to Montplier, Burlington, and so much more.

Here are a few shots I'd like to share . . . for the record, I miss Vermont already.

Taken while we were on Mt. Mansfield

The view from on top of Mt. Mansfield. So beautiful.

A shot I took right after we went horseback riding.
The green pastures really do remind me of Ireland.

The GIANT Stowe pumpkin. Much bigger than us.
PS - I'm kneeling down, Dan's not THAT tall!

Local farm, ah, it's like my Grandpa's!

Dan and I in Smuggler's Notch

My First 5 K

Fitness is a personal thing. Its battle between yourself and your body. You can be as fit as you want or as unfit as you want. It's the one thing that is in your complete control. Coming from a military family it's something that should be part of every fiber of your being - and my parents have been very disappointed that it hasn't played a larger role in my life.

Since I've graduated I haven't spent nearly enough time working on it. Last year I made a pact with myself to turn over a new leaf. For me.

Steady diet and exercise, coupled with encouragement from my doctor, allowed me to drop 25 pounds. While it's an accomplishment that I am very proud of, I still have a long way to go. I still try to stick with my diet (1400 calorie diet that I learned while working with a dietitian - same as weight watchers but without the weekly meetings) and incorporate exercise into my weekly routine at least twice. (I'm hoping to bump that up to 3 to 4 times soon)

My Saturday morning routine consists of an hour and a half workout. I wake up early (8am - early for me!), drop Dan off at his masters class and head to the gym for some me time.
This morning was a bit different. I woke up, got dressed in my usual work out wear but this time I headed to Fairield to compete in my first 5 K. After a 30 minute ride I pulled into the parking lot and found my friends waiting for me.

Up until two days before the race I had no fears competing. Let's be honest - - - I was under no impressions that I'd smoke anyone out there. But I wanted to do it for me, and even though a few of my coworkers would be participating as well, I felt like I could hold my own and not be embarrassed. My goal was to finish in 45 minutes. At most less than an hour. I know, that's not very fast but it was my goal. Last night I started to worry. Worried that I would suck. Worried that I'd be last. But I went.

After chatting, stretching, eating a banana, pinning on my racing number and taking a few photos with coworkers we were ready to go. Here I am below before the race, posing with an apple, ready to take the road on.

We all lined up and then heard, "ready, set, go!" and the race was on! I ran for a bit, but started to hurt early and ended up speed walking for almost the remainder of the race. Oddly enough, I can walk much faster than I can run - isn't that sad!? When we met the first mile marker the counter shouted, "15 minutes and 30 seconds." I turned to my friend and race partner in crime Shana and exclaimed, "We're doing good! Let's keep it up." Second mile marker and I knew that I wasn't going to make my goal. The counter shouted "33 minutes ladies." Ugh. There was no way I could push it any harder and do a 12 minute mile and a bit. But we didn't give up. I don't know my exact finish time. I think it was 53:15, or was it 55:13?

At the finish line our coworkers were waiting for us. They had finished in half the time we did. Ugh - I instantly thought. Try and stay positive Mack! You didn't finish last in the entire race, just last out of your group! We grabbed a few bottles of water and posed by a firetruck for a photo that will make it into our company newsletter.

When I left the race I felt disappointed. I didn't understand why I hadn't done better. At the gym I can clock 3.5 or 4 miles in an hour (on the elliptical and treadmill), where had I gone wrong? In the last month and a half I've lost 6.5 pounds. Why did I suck? I should have trained outside I thought. I should have pushed myself more. Or the ground outside should move like it does in the gym!

I realize that even though I didn't do spectacular, the main point is I did it. There's no way I would have done this a year ago. No way I would have put myself out there. In front of people I know and in front of REAL runners. It's okay that I did how I did. I think I need to learn to not put so much pressure on myself. Fitness is a journey and I'm just on the second lap.

I hope this is another new beginning that can continue in my life. Maybe I'll find more 5Ks to participate in. And maybe, with training, I can improve on my time for the next one.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Proud Wii Owner

My 27th birthday is on Tuesday. When Dan, my boyfriend, asked what I'd like for a gift I gave him my usual response . . . I don't know! I never seem to.

Since the Wii broke onto the scene it's been on fire. I've seen it fly of shelves in person. I've seen people fight over it in stores. And as much as it seemed to be the latest and greatest thing, I asked myself one question. Would I like it?

I'm not a gamer. My brother is the only person in my family who is. When we were growing up he'd ask for systems and games for birthdays, holidays . . . any time that he'd qualify for a gift! I can recall many holidays were Matt would jump out of bed, unwrap his gifts and spend the rest of the day in his room playing. I never got it. I tried to play - for the record, I suck at Halo. And it wasn't that fun for me. I thought, why spend so much money on a gaming system? Would I like it? Would I get bored with it? Would it be a waste of money? Should I buy something smaller and put the other money in savings? All boring questions I admit. But for someone who's not that into video games, it would be a big leap of faith to buy a Wii.

My boyfriend got word that I was interested in one (for the record, it was only so that I could play Mario Kart) and surprised me with one yesterday. Yes, an early birthday present. My reaction - I actually jumped up and down like a kid. So ridiculous, right! We set it up and played last night and I have to say . . . I get why this is the system for non-gamers. The system to make non-gamers into gamers.

In just one hour we played every game in the Wii Sports package. I rock at bowling and tennis. Totally suck at baseball and golf. This morning, before work, I caught Dan playing baseball. I laughed to myself. I then turned and said to him, hey, do you think they have Wii Volleyball. I think I could rock at that. He just laughed.

The addiction has begun!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Old School

I logged onto the web and went straight to YouTube tonight to watch Beyonce's new video, If I Was a Boy. For the record it's fantastic. But before I even got to it something caught my eye in the Promoted Video's section.

First I saw the title. . . Sesame Street: Kermit and News With Rumplestiltskin . . . and then I saw him. Kermit. In his little trench. Had to watch it. So should you. This is old school Sesame Street!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Muppet News Update

I am a fan of toys. I don't apologize for always wanting to feel like I'm four. Okay, not always, but in the true sense I don't necessarily want to grow up. Toys bring happiness to a person - regardless of age.

The Muppets are some of my favorite characters (Jim Henson is actually one of my heroes) and I'm always trying to stay up to date with their latest and greatest news. Here's some new information for all you Muppet fans.

Check out their new web video

Get your OWN Muppet for the very first time in your life! FAO Schwartz will be opening a Muppet Whatnot Workshop in their flagship store in NYC. The specialty section is due to open on October 22nd and will run you upwards of $130.

The Muppets 2009 calendar is on the market. You can only buy it on, who claims that it is already not in stock.

Stay tuned for more updates.

A Little Slice of Japan

As a military brat I have been fortunate to live and travel to many countries. My family moved to Tokyo, Japan when I was 13 years old. The move was rough for me. I had moved from Colorado Springs, CO.

Being 13, in a foreign country and not speaking the language was a challenge. But it quickly became a challenge my family and I took by storm. I lived in Japan for three years and loved every single second that I was there. It is one of my most favorite countries in the entire world.

Moving is never easy - you could move from Seattle to Kansas City or from Finland to Guam and you would still feel the effects. The same core principles apply. Your favorite places and people disappear. The culture of your town and city, the culture of the people and the familiar foods you've grown to love slip away.

When we left the land of the rising sun our boots hit the ground in Shreveport, LA. I left Tokyo ten years ago and have yet to go back. I've found a few Japanese markets here and there but have rarely found something that could jog the memories of happiness that are tucked away for safe keeping.

Enter Mitsuwa Marketplace ( located in Edgewater, NJ. Or as I now call it, my favorite Japanese hot spot outside of Tokyo. Aside from being an amazing market that has the good stuff from my days long ago, it also has a traditonal Japanes food court that makes me feel like I'm transported back. It is an incredible feeling, and despite the 1hr long drive it takes to get there, I'll be spending several Saturdays there!

Here are a few shots of the food court, along with some of my most missed dishes.

The coolest thing about the food court is the authentic Japanese food displays. As you can see from the photos above, the food is on display in a case. It's a totally standard thing and was uber helpful when we first moved to Japan. It's rare to see to see this in the US. The court is loud, everyone speaks Japanese and there's a buzz of chatter in the air. Ahh, I so miss Asia! PS - the marketplace has wonderful varities of sushi for bargin prices!