Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend


Wearing my medal after 13.1 miles!
I had a WHIRLWIND weekend!  I'm not kidding... I got home Monday night and crashed in bed before I 7:30pm, and slept until morning.  My body aches, but I had an amazing time.  Here's the rundown:

FRIDAY
On Friday, BD and I drove down to our vacation rental in Kissimmee.  Originally our group was larger, so we had a HUGE house (booked through EasyChoice Vacation Homes via HomeAway) for the weekend.  The house had five bedrooms, a pool, full kitchen and dining areas, and was an easy distance to the parks.  We each were able to have a bedroom to ourselves with ensuite bathroom, which was really luxurious.  It was easy to spread out.  After we settled in, BD and I headed to the Magic Kingdom for an evening at Disney.

We got to the park after dark (and during a parade) so we used that time to hit some rides and take advantage of the short wait time.  We did the Haunted Mansion and It's a Small World, which happened to be rides we both loved as kids!  We then did Snow White's Scary Adventures, one of the original rides from when the park opened, because it is officially closing forever in May.  Disney is doubling the size of Fantasyland, so the ride is being torn down as part of that expansion.  I'm very excited to head back to Disney once construction is complete, because rumor is they will replicate Belle's village from my favorite, Beauty & the Beast!

We grabbed a bite to eat in Tomorrowland, then met up with my friend MH for the evening fireworks.  It was the perfect way to kick off the weekend.

Animal Kingdom
SATURDAY
Saturday morning, BD and I headed to the Wide World of Sports to get our race numbers and see the expo.  There were so many 'girly' running things for sale, from running skirts to headbands to snacks!  We discovered that our bib numbers featured our favorite Disney princess, and that all three of us running had chosen Belle!  The bib number also had our names on them; mine said "Princess Aubrey".

After the expo, we picked up our third runner, VV, at the airport.  That was the worst experience of the weekend.  I had been at the curbside for no more than 30 seconds, waiting for VV, when the airport worker came up to me and told me I had to drive around.  He was aggressive and confrontational, and even though we could see VV running towards us, he was insistent that I move my car and threatened to call the cops!  BD scared him off by asking what his name was so we could report him, and we made our escape.  As I drove, I could see TONS of other cars parked for way longer than I had been... guess I was his lucky victim that day.

Shaking off that negativity, we headed straight to Animal Kingdom!  We looked at the animals, hit up some rides, and grabbed some pizza.  It was really great to take in the park at a slow pace, and I got to see a TON of giraffes in action (my favorite!) during our visit.

We left the park early so we could head back to the house for a low-key pasta dinner!  I made spaghetti and garlic bread, and we watched Beauty & the Beast on DVD.  Then it was off to bed, because we had an EARLY day ahead of us on race day.

3 a.m.!
SUNDAY
We woke up before 3 am, which wasn't a pretty picture!  I felt very silly getting into my Snow White running outfit so early.  We reached the parking lot by 4 am, then headed towards the bag check and staging areas.  There were 17,000 (or was it 19,000?) runners, so it took us nearly half an hour just to walk to our 'corral' to start.  It was chilly, so we stretched and danced around to stay warm.

When it was time to start, the Fairy Godmother gave us our cue, and they shot off pink/purple fireworks!  It was really a unique experience.  There were plenty of portapotties and water stops along the way, and running through the Magic Kingdom was the highlight of the race for me.  VV and I ran together the whole way.  There were even character photo ops along the way, so we slowed down to catch a couple of opportunities to make a memory.

My advice before running a half marathon?  Um, TRAIN.  I ran the first 6 miles without blinking an eye, but around Mile 8 I was waning.  I was HURTING for a while, and didn't perk up until about Mile 11.  It was an incredible experience, and Disney puts on an amazing race, but I was in real pain.  My medal was well-earned!

After we showered and napped, VV and I headed back to the parks to check out Epcot.  We limped around (haha!), ate pastries in 'France', then headed home early for some sleep.  I stayed up all night in bed watching the Oscars, happy to be horizontal for a while.

MONDAY
BD and I took VV to the airport first thing, then made a stop in town to see my friends CG and HG.  CG used to work with me, and she's due to give birth any day now!  I wasn't able to make it to the baby shower, so seeing them both was a real treat.  They made us an awesome Puerto Rican-style breakfast before we had to hit the road.

Driving home was a bit painful, and it rained a whole lot, but BD and I survived.  I had some soup for dinner, passed out before 7:30pm, and have been limping around and back at work ever since!  It was a great trip (and another task off my Before I'm 30 list!)

(More photos after the jump!)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Kalbi (Korean Ribs)

 I love kalbi.  I'm sure I've talked about my love for Korean BBQ before, perhaps specifically kalbi, but. I. love. it.  I love to eat so much of it that I can taste it when I burp.  Hours later.  Weird, right?  My Korean relatives will stuff me with kalbi for consecutive meals and days because they know how much I enjoy it.

Anywho, I usually get my kalbi from a Korean takeout place, because I didn't make it very well... my previous efforts just didn't taste right.  When I was shopping at the grocery store and saw the EXACT cut of meat I needed to try again, I bought it.  Using some advice from my Mom, I pounded the rib meat flatter, added meat tenderizer, then marinated it in store-bought kalbi sauce and brown sugar.  I let it sit in the fridge for two days before I grilled it up.

DELICIOUS.  It's not as good as my grandmother's, but it'll do.  I ate it with brown rice in an attempt to be healthy... not the same but still satisfying.  I am thrilled I have regained confidence in my ability to make this.  YUM.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Gleek Peek: I hate being right.

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I love being right.  Except right now I actually hate it.  SPOILER ALERT, as usual.

As I was watching the most recent Glee episode, I learned that one of my predictions from early in Season 2 had come (somewhat) true... I said that Karofsky would commit suicide.  In fact, my friend LK messaged me as I watched because she remembered me saying it seemed to be pre shadowed circa 2010.

I was super sad.  I really thought Karofsky had a chance since he left McKinley... then they reintroduced him, and I felt I knew his fate.  Poor Karofsky.  Poor, poor Karofsky.  I'm glad he lived, but still... the attempt was scary.

I was looking forward to the performance at Regionals, and didn't appreciate Rachel/Finn trying to hijack the episode for some little wedding.  But it was interesting to see the human side of Sebastian, and how he had a connection to Karofsky too.

I enjoyed the Regionals songs, and I really liked how Kurt and Karofsky made up.  The final cliffhanger, though?  OH. NO.  I won't even address that right now.

Songs I'll Download:  "Cough Syrup", "Fly/I Believe I Can Fly", "What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)", "Here's to Us"

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

(Not-So) Fat Tuesday

Jackson Pollack
Happy Mardi Gras, everybody!  Laissez les bons temps rouler!

When I was in college, one of the guys in my dorm was from Mobile, AL, which has one of the biggest Mardi Gras celebrations outside of New Orleans.  (Mobile residents will argue they do it better.)  Anyways, his mom always sent us authentic King Cake this time of year, a cinnamon roll-like cake inside with sugary icing with traditional Mardi Gras colors outside.

Well, I'm still going strong with my New Year's resolutions, so I didn't want to overindulge on King Cake today for Mardi Gras.  But I still wanted to celebrate a bit!  I found a recipe for a healthier version of King Cake on Pinterest, made from low-fat crescent rolls, and decided to recreate it myself.  Instead of a the traditional ring, I decided to make cupcake-sized versions, so I could take the rest to work!

I adapted Holly Clegg's recipe for these, but used an additional tube of crescent rolls (and increasing the filling accordingly) to make an even 24.  I put one triangle of dough in each muffin tin, and watched them in the oven so they wouldn't overcook.  Then I went all Jackson Pollack on them with some festive colors.

And the best part?  Each one is under 200 calories.  WOOHOO!  Happy Mardi Gras!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Snow White goes for a run...

I'm excited to be heading down to DisneyWorld this weekend to run Disney's Princess Half Marathon!  To get into the festivities, I decided I needed to run in a costume of sorts... so I decided on Snow White.  Not a full-on Snow White costume, but more of a Snow White goes running theme.  I like to be comfortable, especially for long distances, so that was my top priority overall.

I bought a yellow SparkleSkirt online, because I didn't want to mess with the shorts... spandex shorts are perfect to prevent chaffing.  SparkleSkirts has a great reputation, so I let them handle that.  :)

For the top, I purchased a navy-colored tank top on the cheap from Eastbay, and bought some white, red, and blue athletic fabrics (in tiny quantities) from Fabric.com.  My friends at Fabrika Fine Fabrics helped me come up with a plan/pattern for the collar and sleeves.  I did a cap sleeve so I wouldn't have a tight armhole or elastic around my arm, allowing for freedom of movement.  I free-hand cut the red accents, sewed them to the sleeve (I serged the sleeve edges), and did a simple gather stitch to give them a little poof.  I did a set-in sleeve, and it was sooooo easy.  For the collar, I added interfacing for stiffness, sewed right sides together, pressed right side out, stay-stitched and sewed it directly inside the collar seams on the tank top.

Whew!

All in all, it only took me about an hour or so.  SUPER easy, and I LOVE the aesthetic result.  I can't wait to wear it!  And RUN in it!  :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Anxiety

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I've had a few encounters with anxiety lately, and it ain't my friend.

It sucks.  It seems like you're doing so well, and then when you least expect it, it strikes.  Heart pounding, pit in your stomach, palms sweating... I feel so dizzy, tunnel vision.  It can have the power to incapacitate you.

For me, anxiety and depression were linked.  And now that I am no longer suffering from depression, my therapy sessions mainly address things in my life that cause me anxiety, to keep it from 'getting' me again.

When I start to feel anxiety, I have to take a step back.  Usually it has something to do with others and their approval of me, in some regard.  Something I feel invested in.  I'm a people-pleaser, and it's torture!  I have to back up and ask myself, "Why should I care about this?"  Most of the time, it just isn't worth being anxious over.  It isn't going to matter a week from now, or a year from now.  Chances are, something that causes me anxiety isn't causing other people anxiety, so why let it get to me?

I distract myself so I don't dwell... something as simple as aimlessly pinning on Pinterest, watching bad reality TV, doing anything mundane and mindless.  It occupies another part of my mind, so I can't be consumed.  Then later I realize it really wasn't worth being anxious or worried at all.  Peace.

The funny thing is, when you try to keep anxiety at bay, you kind of start to think that you shouldn't let ANYTHING make you even a little upset.  The moments of stress/anxiety I've brought up in therapy lately have actually been incidents where my therapist agrees I should have felt something!  So you're constantly walking that fine line between feeling too much and feeling too little... it all come backs to balance, something we're all trying to maintain.  We just need to know when to let go.

Oh, balance.  Elusive and difficult, but I'm closer and closer every day.  :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Apps for Productivity

iCal
I know what you're thinking... we spend so much time goofing off on our smartphones and tablets, apps function more often as a distraction than something productive!  (I'm an admitted Words with Friends addict.)  But ever since my iPhone (and now, iPad) became essential to my everyday life, I've actually really incorporated them into my work AND home life in more productive ways.  Here are a few that I can't go a day without!

Evernote
iCal.  This comes free with Apple devices.  With the advent of the iCloud, I LOVE that my iCal and Contacts stay updated on my phone, iPad, and computer.  I use these constantly and really couldn't do without them.

Dropbox
Evernote.  (Free) I use this EVERYWHERE.  I have it on my iPhone, iPad, MacBook Pro, and use it on my web browser at work.  It's the ultimate notebook for you, because it syncs and updates no matter which device you're using.  You can even use images.  You can organize it however you want, and it's organized/sorted well.  Love the easy use and access, almost like carrying a box of index cards with me wherever I go.

AwesomeNote
Dropbox.  (Free up to 2GB)  Dropbox is online storage, a web-based file hosting service.  It allows you to load documents online and store them, so you can pull them via web browser, iPhone, iPad, etc. whenever you need them.  "Never email yourself a file again!"  So long as you have internet access, you don't need to carry unsecure thumb drives anymore, either.  Over 50 million folks already use it, so it's being integrated into more and more apps... And if your computer crashes, whatever you stored on Dropbox is backed up.
AwesomeNote. (Free 'lite' version, or $3.99)  I used this on my iPhone, though there is an iPad version... but unlike some other apps, the two versions have to be purchased separately! (Boo...)  That said, AwesomeNote replaced both Reminders and GroceryIQ on my phone.  I love that I can have a sortable to-do list, a grocery list (I create tags for the different aisles), and give everything deadlines and alerts.  I've got mine divided into To-Do, Work, Study, and Shopping!  I highly recommend upgrading to the full version; I rarely pay for apps, but this one is worth it to me.  I don't even use my paper planner anymore, between this and iCal!  There's even a diary function, where you can include photos.  Definitely a lot of uses for this app.  I love customizing the folder colors too!
GoodReader

GoodReader.  ($4.99)  This is the PDF reader/annotater I use on my iPad.  It links up with Dropbox, so your files can be loaded into GoodReader from your storage.  I like to convert Powerpoint presentations from work into PDFs, so I can mark all over them during meetings with my notes. I don't use the separate version on my iPhone, because PDFs are viewed better on a tablet.  There are a lot of PDF reader apps out there, but I love the ability to take notes on this one.

Onlive Desktop.  (Free up to 2GB)  This is a new iPad app that lets you run Microsoft Office (complete versions!) on your iPad as a virtual machine... for FREE.  I really don't know how it's allowed, how it works, nothing.  But you can do all the things you need in Microsoft Office using this!  Just sign up for an account, download the app, and you're good to go!  Get it while it's available.  :)
Onlive Desktop

Another thing I did?  I went to Verizon and added a Personal Hotspot to my iPhone.  It's totally been worth the money!  I have Wifi for my iPad (I don't have the 3G version) or laptop whenever I travel; never have to pay fees at a hotel again, or drive to a coffeeshop/McDonald's with free wireless.   You can even use it on long car rides!

So while you've got plenty of apps that distract you and are awesome mobile applications (Netflix, games, etc.), at least you know there are some things out there to help you get some work done too.

What productivity apps do YOU use?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Gleek Peek: Valentine's Day

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I'm not sure what I thought about Glee's Valentine's Day episode.  It was just kind of... meh.  I was happy to see Samuel Larsen from The Glee Project make his debut as religious kid Joe, and finally meeting Rachel's fathers was interesting.  But other than that?  Meh.

Rory and Artie competing for Sugar's attentions was contrived, the "God Squad" and the Santana/Brittany's fight for the right to kiss in public were dull, and where was Sue Sylvester?  I did like the parental plot to break off Finchel's engagement; unfortunately it backfired, but we all know it's doomed.  And Karofsky's profession of love to Kurt also seemed like a forced plotline... is this foreshadowing a future event?  I predicted he would commit suicide earlier in the show's run, but I hope I'm not eventually right.  :(

Mercedes' rendition of "I Will Always Love You" was tragically timed; the episode was obviously filmed well in advance of Whitney Houston's demise, and the airing was pre-scheduled for Valentine's Day.

So yeah, didn't have much to say, because this just an okay episode.  I'm hoping for better in the future... I'm more into "Revenge" these days.

Songs I'll Download:  "Cherish/Cherish", "Stereo Hearts", "Love Shack"

P.S.  Did anyone else catch the tongue-in-cheek comment by either Puck or Sam that Rory's speech in incomprehensible?  It's TRUE!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Easy Bow T-Shirt Upcycle

Jason Wu for Target, $22.99
I love bow blouses.  I wish I had more occasion to wear them, especially the pretty chiffon ones!  I was at Target today, browsing their current Jason Wu line, and picked up a bow blouse for my shopping cart.  But then I realized I needed to buy Breaking Dawn: Part 1 on Blu-Ray instead, and saw another shirt from the collection for $22.99, a regular t-shirt with a bow...  What a great idea!  Especially since I'm a little obsessed with the bow that character Emma Pillsbury wears so consistently on Glee.

I checked out the construction, and it was simple enough.  This is something a novice can do!  I think it took me a total of about twenty minutes.  The shirts are super soft, and they are more casual than a normal bow blouse. I could wear these with jeans, or a coordinating cardigan!

Do you love bows, too?  :)

What I used:
-patterned fabric from my stash (I just cut a simple, long strip, based on a blouse I already had)
-two solid t-shirts (purchased on the cheap at Target!)
-scissors
-thread to match t-shirt color

My fabrics

1) Sew the bow right sides together, then turn inside out.  Finish the ends.
2) Simply pin to the inside of the collar, and sew!
Make sure your thread blends with the shirt color to hide your work.

Shirt #1

Shirt #2

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The O.C. is back! #RHOC

Bravo
The original is BACK!  Okay, so the show has had more new characters than its cast has boob jobs, but still...  I only watch the OC and Jersey housewives, so I'm happy this reality guilty pleasure is airing again.

My thoughts on how the ladies are doing since the explosive reunion?

Gretchen's still with Slade, promoting all of her 'businesses', and actually seems to be playing nice with Tamra.  Gretchen used to be my favorite, then I hated her, and now I don't know.  I'm really interested to see how she does this season with the other girls.  As for Tamra, she was so out of line last season, and super evil.  She just doesn't know how to say no to a catfight.  It's good that she is trying to make amends with Gretchen, because I think they have a lot in common... probably why they hate each other.

I feel bad for Vicki... she's totally compulsive in her behaviors as she goes through this divorce and prepares to sell her house!  She's neurotic to say the least, but she's still the original OC housewife and I love her.  I wish her the best.

Alexis?  She's still the fakest of the fake.  I think she could compete with Taylor on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills in terms of shadiness.  I wouldn't wear 'Alexis Couture' if you paid me to, and she was TERRIBLE in that news segment.  Must be a pretty desperate station that needed her 'celebrity' to boost ratings.  She's so bitter towards Peggy for dating her husband BEFORE she married him (WTF?) and needs to be eliminated from this cast.  She's just weird.

Peggy didn't really appear much in the episode (and isn't a main cast member anymore), but a couple of 'friends' who seem to be season cast members did pop up.  Heather seems gorgeous and like she has it all... except reality TV stardom, of course!  And she's the only brunette in the bunch!  Gretchen's friend Sarah makes an appearance too, but I don't think she has the money to be a RHOC.  She'll likely just be one of those frequent add-ons throughout filming.

Can't wait to see who gets a drink in the face next!

The "Something Blue" Dress

Check out my latest sewing creation on The Sew Weekly!

Fabric: Blue floral cotton print from stash (4 yds.)
Pattern:  Simplicity 4343 (vintage)
Year:  early 1960s
Notions:  Invisible zipper, Hook & eye (all from stash), Double fold bias tape (3 packages!  $3)
Time to complete:  3 hours
First worn:  February 2012
Wear again:  Maybe
Total price:  $3


This is the first dress I've sewn with the vintage patterns I bought.  The fit is off, and the fabric isn't my favorite, but I wanted to just give the pattern a try to see if it was close to my fit.  It's also my first attempt at sleeves and bias tape, both of which were successes this go round!  I'm going to keep practicing (and hopefully buy a dress form to improve fitting) and start making this vintage patterns fit a more modern wardrobe.  I'm also buying a petticoat to go under these full skirts to make them look a little better.



Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Gleek Peek: Soy una Gleek y yo sabes!

FOX
Kudos to Glee for having an episode with songs in Spanish!  I never would have thought about them doing something like that.  Ricky Martin was lookin' awesome as guest star.

The storyline did move along, and I think Sue Sylvester's new "I want a baby" story line is interesting.  But Nene Leakes stole the show, and Sue's thunder!  I also appreciated Kurt's confrontation of Finn over his proposal to Rachel; he spoke some really great wisdom there, and it was perfect.

I don't see myself downloading any of the songs, because I didn't think any of them were that spectacular, but I enjoyed Ricky's bilingual rendition of LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It", and his duet with Santana on "La Isla Bonita".

Oh, and in unrelated news?  I've lost two lbs. in the last week!  GO ME!  Broke a weight loss plateau I've been struggling with, all thanks to some Shakeology.  :)  Hooray!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New TV Review: @NBCSmash

NBC
Did anyone else catch NBC's new show "Smash" last night?

Description:  The show revolves around a group of characters who come together to put on a Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. But before that can happen, the people who will try to bring it all together must deal with their own personal acts.

My Review:  This show has been billed as a grown up "Glee", but really I'd say it's really a drama where Glee is a comedy.  It reminds me a lot of the movie "Center Stage", but with a Broadway theme.  Katharine McPhee is the perfect ingenue, and my beloved Megan Hilty (I saw her as Glinda in 'Wicked' in LA!) plays the Broadway veteran competing with her for the coveted lead role.  I LOVE MEGAN HILTY!  Almost as much as I love Kristen Chenoweth!  I also liked seeing great actresses Anjelica Huston and Debra Messing return to TV. I really think this show is off to a great start and shows a lot of potential.

I'll definitely be DVRing this, and hoping it continues full speed ahead!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Savannah Celebrations

Afternoon Adagio
I had spent two great days enjoying the best of downtown Savannah this weekend, all with my friend LD!

Friday night, I was invited to the New Space Party for Fabrika Fine Fabrics!  Emily and Ashley are two super awesome chicks, and their new store location on Bull & Liberty in Savannah is AWESOME.  They taught me everything I know about sewing, and I love their cotton prints!  There was a DJ, catered food, a photo booth... what a neat party.

Then, in the spirit of Savannah Restaurant Week, LD and I hit up another favorite, The Chart House.  (We went to the amazing Alligator Soul last weekend with our friend TP!)  Their 3-course menu was divine, and the few bites of pecan pie I had were the best.  It may be a chain, but the Savannah restaurant is set in a beautiful old building int he heart of River Street.

Saturday, LD and I experienced the South at its best!  We dressed up in our Lilly Pulitzer-esque finest (I even rocked some pearls!) and headed to the sold-out Afternoon Adagio at the Olde Pink House, a champagne and tea party to benefit the Savannah Philharmonic.  We sat with an amazing group of ladies (who all questioned whether we were of age to drink!) and had some amazing treats and teas.  The scones were amazing!  I felt so Southern, like a true "society" lady at this party... even the Mayor and a local news anchor were there.  It was like a modern-day scene from 'The Help'!  There were opera singers and small ensembles playing music, a hat contest, and a silent auction.  Everything was gorgeously decorated.

What a perfect couple of outings in Savannah... I will miss this city.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

New TV Review: @ABC_Publicity Daytime TV Shows @andersoncooper @therevolution

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When I was younger, one of my favorite parts of summer vacation was watching morning television shows!  I watched The View from the day it premiered, and I always loved Live! with Regis & Kelly.  I would catch Ellen and Oprah whenever I could, and I got a lot out of those shows; they were like the "soft" news I enjoyed (Good Morning America!) and taught me a lot about hot topics in the world, healthier living, money-saving tips, and more.

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A few new shows have popped up in the mornings, which unfortunately is during work for me; still, I have a DVR and enjoy catching up in the evenings!  Here are my reviews of three shows in the new lineup... ALL from ABC.

Anderson:  Oh, Anderson Cooper, you silver fox.  This show is the new Oprah, even though it airs in the morning.  He talks about controversial topics, interviews interesting people, and is a really great host.  His audience seems educated, and they ask great questions.  In addition, Anderson's journalism background really makes him reminiscent of Oprah, or Meredith Vieira in her days on The View.  I think guys will get into this show too; it's not female-centric like most daytime talk shows.  Grade: A+

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The Chew:  Sigh.  I wanted to love this show, because I love Clinton Kelly from What Not to Wear.  I also love food, so I thought this show focusing on eating and other topics would be up my alley.  Unfortunately, I felt like the hosts are yelling over each other and competing to be heard.  Mario Batali has a great following, and I was happy to be introduced to Dr. Oz's daughter, Daphne.  But I just felt like it was too chaotic; there were literally too many cooks in the kitchen.  I dropped it from my DVR.  But I still love you, Clinton!  Grade: C-

The Revolution:  This show follows The Chew, and every week it features somebody who is going through a 4-month transformation.  Because of the way it is filmed, they are able to show that person's progress every month in an episode.  There are five hosts, but the most well-known ones are Tim Gunn (PROJECT RUNWAY! LOVE TIM!) and Ty Pennington.  There are three other 'experts', a gynecologist, psychologist, and fitness expert.  I love this panel.  I've never been a Ty Pennington fan, but this group doesn't compete for attention, each host has their own niche, and it really gives me good information I can use in my everyday life.  I take away so many ideas for how to live a better life from these guys.  Sometimes it is a bit cheesy (even the theme song declares is a self-esteem anthem) but I enjoy it.  It has been on my DVR since its premiere.  Grade: A-

Friday, February 3, 2012

Mentorship & Coach Q

Coach Q
I've been thinking a lot about mentorship.  I really believe that it is one of the most important things to have in your life, for your personal path and your career.  I have had a series of great mentors in my life... my parents are my constants, I had great coaches and teachers in high school and college, and I even have close friends who are my mentors in their own way.  We stay in touch, mainly through Facebook, but I know if I ever need them, they are there.

It's important to have people who believe in you, especially when you're about to give up on yourself.  It's important to have people who set a good example, who achieve their dreams, so you can believe in your own.

I don't talk that much about West Point on this blog... have I ever even mentioned it?  Maybe once or twice.  My four years at West Point were perhaps some of the most formative years of my life.  It is a magnet for great mentors and leadership.  But I may never have gotten there if it weren't for Coach Q.

Coach Jerry Quiller made cross country and track his life... he ran in high school and college, and coached at universities for most of his adult life.  He produced multiple Olympians, nearly two dozen All-Americans, and sent numerous athletes to the NCAA Championships.  He mentored athletes and helped them pursue greatness.  But he was more than just a coach; he was a good man.

Track meets are long! We may have taken some pictures
with Q as he caught a nap...
I was a runner in high school and performed fairly well.  But then I went to West Point for a visit, and I knew that was where I should be.  Coach Q heard of me based on some times I ran my freshman and sophomore years of high school, and he thought I could maybe run at that level again.  Perhaps more importantly, Coach Q thought I would be a good cadet, and he knew what it took to make it through the United States Military Academy.


After receiving a Letter of Assurance from West Point in the fall, I got some bad news in the spring of my senior year: I was medically disqualified from attending West Point.  I couldn't get the usual waiver for my vision; they didn't think my terrible eyesight would be correctable.  I was devastated, and I started making backup college plans.  But Coach Q stepped in and went to bat for me; he made me an official athletic recruit, and he reassured me we could get a waiver.  And we did.

I only ran on the team for two years and was pretty much the slowest girl on the team.  But Q promised I could stay on as long as I wanted, and encouraged me to enjoy being a cadet and pursuing my interests.  I loved West Point, and I really thrived there.  Many of my teammates and classmates had closer relationships to Q than I ever did, but I will never forget how much this one man changed my life by believing in me.  Even though I was never a star, he remembered me whenever we crossed paths.  I knew he was happy to have helped me get into the college of my dreams, and I can never thank him enough or repay him for that.  I don't believe he ever truly recruited me to be a runner; I think he just wanted to make me a cadet, because he saw something in me.
My eyes are closed, but I'm standing with greatness.

We lost Coach Q yesterday, after a long battle with multiple myeloma.  He was an incredible man, and a true mentor to so many.  I am keeping his wife and sons in my thoughts today, and giving thanks that he cared enough to stand up for me.  I wouldn't be where I am today if not for him.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Gleek Peek: MICHAEL

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Hello, Michael Jackson tribute episode!

Okay, I'll admit MJ wasn't always my favorite... towards the end he was a little creepy.  But he did leave behind a repertoire, and Glee has already performed such gems as "PYT", "ABC", and "Man in the Mirror."

Darren Criss is adorable... I can't believe my enthusiasm for his cuteness ever waned last season.  The opening number to this episode was epic!

As for the story, I think Finn asking Rachel to marry him was a bad idea.  And whatever they're doing is juvenile.  I'm glad Quinn is on the right path, though!  (And I'm relieved they've stopped featuring Rory... sorry, kid is uninteresting and hard to understand.  Bring Harmony back!)

I like having the Warblers as the enemy (maybe I like Blaine better sans blazer?), and Sebastian is perfect.  His duet with Santana of "Smooth Criminal" was an amazing face-off!  Glad the Glee kids take the high road though.  I don't have much else to say about the storyline... I was too into the music numbers!

Songs I'll Download:  "Starting Something", "Smooth Criminal", "Black or White"
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