28 January 2012


I recently had the pleasure of playing Pandemic! It was so much fun I thought I'd share a little bit about the board game.

The basis of the game is that there are several viruses on the loose, and the world has to discover their cures in order to survive. It's a healthy challenge as there are numerous ways that the virus wins and only one surefire way for the world to win.

There are various roles with various talents (i.e., a researcher who can build a research facility in any city), and - here's the neat, unique feature of the game - the players must work TOGETHER to win! I love that! It's not an every man for himself game, but rather the opposite: every many for everyone.

If you're interested in learning more about the game, check out Board Game Geek Pandemic Page.

Happy gaming!

22 January 2012

May 2012 Cruise

To celebrate my paternal grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary, my family is taking them on a 7-day Western Caribbean Carnival Cruise aboard the Liberty!

I've been on two cruises before, both to the Western Caribbean, so let me tell you from experience, these adventures are amazing! All you can eat food is probably my favorite aspect of being on a cruise, in addition to the fact that everything on the ship is included excepting drinks (I'm certain) and specialty services (I think), but here is a grand list of other things the Liberty has to offer:
  • 24-hour room service
  • Spa
  • Shopping
  • Piano Bar
  • Live Music (DJ Irie)
  • Arcade
  • Yoga & Pilates
  • Live Shows
  • Formal Dinner Evenings (I'm taking ballroom dancing to prepare for the dancing opportunities after dinner)
  • Cantinas & Bars
  • Coffee Bar (the desserts and pastries look amazing)
  • Gym
  • Jogging Track
  • Art Gallery
  • Library
  • Salon
  • Pools
  • Seaside Theatre
  • Basketball
  • Shuffleboard
  • Pool
  • Table Tennis
  • Miniature Golf
  • Comedy Clubs
  • Night Clubs
Oh, I can hardly wait. I've been saving money for this trip for nearly a year! I'm so proud of my financial endurance on this one. = ) Saving is fun and so rewarding!

10 Nail Care Tips

I am not a girly girl, but I do appreciate sporting a nice set of nails. Here are 10 tips for nail care (credit: adjusted from a Beauty page of the April 2011 issue of In Style).

1. Do a fun style, like two-toning your nail and your moons:

2. For dry, brittle nails, condition the cuticle before bed.

3. Take fish oil to help boost nail thickness. I like Nature Made Fish Oil.

4. Give your nails some shape. I like to do mine squared off. I enjoy using the fun foam nail files - plus they're usually less than a buck!

5. Want to quit chewing your nails? Pop some gum and slap on some lotion. The gum will keep your teeth occupied while the lotion makes for a nasty taste on your tongue. I like Orbit's Sweetmint chewing gum and Jergens' Ultra Healing lotion.

6. Not sure if the salon thoroughly sterilized those tools for your mani or pedi? Bring your own kit.

7. Putting unpolished nails into a lemon wedge twice a week will help whiten the nails and clear out hiding bacteria.

8. Avoid UVB lamps because they can accelerate the aging of your hands' skin.

9. Regularly slap on a top coat to keep painted nails looking fresh. My favorite is OPI's Top Coat.

10. Finally, keep your nail polish stock full of fresh, classic and fun colors! Right now Nicki Minaj has a featured set of OPI nail polish lacquers.

TSRS 5/7: Seasons 52 5.2

Sunday was the fifth race of the Track Shack's Running Series: the Seasons 52 5.2K in Winter Park, Florida!

Here is a snap shot of my race results (I'm 8th):

Nike+ offers some neat statistics and graphical views. I would share a graphical view of my pace throughout the race, but my Nike+ application only captured my time - none of the distance. So it's of no use for this run. = (

Here is a map of the route (with start, finish and mile markers):

While I had planned to arrive to the race early to allow for ample stretching and warming up and packet pick-up, the day started out poorly as I slept in by about 45 minutes, had to get gas, and hit stand-still traffic on 408. My friend, Joel, ran the race with me, and we made it to the start with about 60 seconds to spare. Considering the rough start to the morning, the race was pretty decent. I felt pretty good (even with having a tough leg workout a few days prior and battling a sore throat and not enough sleep). In the last 0.5 mile of the race I was thankful to have a few girls (most of whom looked to be in my age group) keep sneaking up behind me to pass. That was when I kicked it in gear, took longer strides, bettered my breathing, and passed a girl I'd figured was beyond reach! She didn't see my coming!

After the first race I was sitting fairly well in 7th place in the series for my age group (Women 19-24) because I came in 7th place in the race. After the second race, I was sitting pretty in 4th place in the series because I took 3rd place in the race. After the third race, I was still sitting in 4th place, and I was okay with that. I injured my back and had to sit out of the fourth race; this dropped me down to 6th place. Now, after the fifth race, I've gained 3 points and am now in 5th place in the series.

And that wraps it up for the fifth race in the series! Next up is the House of Hope Run Around the Pines 5K in Winter Park, Florida on Saturday, 18 February 2012! Here's a snap shot of thTrack Shack Running Series (link to my blog about it):

11 January 2012

2011 Running Recap

2011 was a really great year for running for me:

  • Ran a race in 9 of the 12 months of the year. (Missed May due to plans to move to Colorado, missed November due to back injury, no race planned for December.)
  • Pretty much DOUBLED my annual mileage from that of 2010.
  • Found a good friend to do local races with: Joel. = )
  • Began really learning and understanding speed work.
  • Participated in my first running series!

Here are some fun 2011 running statistics (thanks to Nike+).

Here's to a great year of running in 2012!

Getting Back to the TSRS

Okay! 2012 has made it's entrance, and the next Track Shack Running Series 2011-2012 event is just 2 weekends away! At last check, I'm sitting in 6th place. My goal is to finish in the Top 10 by the end of the series; in fact, it's one of my 2012 New Year's Resolutions.

Wish me luck at the Seasons 52 5.2K!

Previous TSRS 2011-2012 race blogs:

4/7 - missed due to back injury = (

3/7 - UCF U Can Finish 5 Miler

2/7 - Autumn Rock 'N Run 5K

1/7 - Celebration of Running 5K

DEC 2011 Running Challenge Recap

In December I challenged myself to run every day of the month (click here to view the original blog). Here's the recap on how it all went down:

Days in December: 31
Days Ran: 26
Days Not Ran: 5
Success Rate: 84%

Thanks to Nike+, here's a nice visual of the month's runs:

Not too shabby considering that 2.5 of the days I didn't run were devoted to driving to and from Florida and Indiana (18 hours, one way). 

Overall it was a good challenge. No, I didn't "do" it 100%, but look what trying got me! 53 miles! I'll take it!

09 January 2012


This is my latest obsession: Bananagrams.

I've always been passionate about language, words, word puzzles, etc. Now I'm addicted.

I started playing Scrabble in 2008. In 2010 when I got the iPhone 4 I started playing Words with Friends. In August 2010 I was introduced to Bananagrams. Since then I've acquired my own set and introduced my friends and family to the game. For a White Elephant Gift Exchange over Christmas Break I won Scrabble fridge magnets. This weekend I bought the Scrabble Dictionary, 4th edition to use during play (either Scrabble or Bananagrams) along with the Bananagrams Page-A-Day Calendar 2012.

If you're just getting into these awesome word games or are curious, here are a few references to check out:

Banangrams Website
Buy Bananagrams ($15, Amazon)
Buy the Bananagrams Page-A-Day Calendar 2012 ($6.50, Amazon)
Scrabble Dictionary (online)
Buy the Scrabble Dictionary ($7.50, Amazon)

Happy word playing!

04 January 2012

Books Read in 2011

If you know me, then you know that I have a passion for reading. In 2011 I had the pleasure of reading 28 books, 26 of which were novels. Reads include the entire available-in-paperback-Sookie-Stackhouse series, the start of a re-read of the Harry Potter Series and the conclusion of The Millennium Trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy). The links below link to more information about the book; the list is in reverse-chronological order.

My top 5 favorite books read this year are as follows with one being the most favorite:

  1. Snow Flower & the Secret Fan
  2. The Help
  3. Shades of Grey
  4. Life of Pi
  5. A Christmas Carol

2012 New Year Resolutions

It's the time of year where we all think of what we'd like to accomplish in the coming year. I'll share my 2012 resolutions in a moment; first I'd like to see how I did with my 2011 resolutions (click here to read the related blog post).

2011 Resolutions and status:

  • spend less time surfing Facebook - 100% successful! I'm happy with how I've reduced the amount of time I spend on the social networking site.
  • pay of a significant chunk of my student loans - 100% successful! Well, sort of. Since February 2011 I've paid off $11,365 in debt. My student loans went on hold since I'm working towards my master's degree. So while I didn't do anything with my student debt, I did work wonders my other debts! As I've said before, many thanks to Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover book!
  • run 525 miles by Saturday, 31 December 2011 - 82.5% successful. To date I've run 432.92 in 2011. I'm just over 100 miles from my goal, but I think I did fair considering I had a majorly stressful time in May and that I pulled my back in November.
  • earn B or better in all my PSU master's courses (2 in the spring semester, 2 over the summer, and another 2 in the fall) - 100% successful! I earned all As this year!
  • read the Bible (or at least several books; will be difficult with all the master's work) - 100% unsuccessful. I briefly joined a Bible study group but school sort of got in the way. I'm going to work really hard in 2012 to make reading the Bible the priority I'd like it to be.
  • catch up and keep up with my scrapbook for Heidi (I'm behind by about 12 months, heh) - 100% unsuccessful. I'm now behind 24 months! I have lots of pages ready to be pasted together and even more photos ready to be scrapbooked. I really need to make it a weekly thing where I sit down for a couple of hours and work at this.
So I didn't do so terribly. I achieved a 64% success rate with my 2011 New Year Resolutions.

And now, for my 2012 New Year Resolutions!

  • Pay of another significant chunk of debt.
  • Finish in the Top 10 of my age group (Women's 19-24) in the Track Shack Running Series (2011-2012).
  • Run two half marathons (13.1 miles) and my first full marathon (26.2 miles); it will be okay if I do the full marathon in January 2013 since that's when the Disney Marathons take place.
  • Earn Bs or better in all of my PSU master's courses (1 in the spring semester, 1 over the summer, and another 1 in the fall)
  • Read 10+ books of the Bible.
  • Scrapbook Heidi to the present.
  • Make a quilt.
  • Make a boy baby blanket.
  • Learn to ballroom dance.
  • Continuously train with Heidi be it agility, Schutzhund or otherwise; formally or on my own.
That said...