To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Want vs Need - Working For What You Have

**Note: The following entry was written wearing shoes purchased in December - of 1998!

Halloween costumes we created by
trading clothes with friends for the night
I’m late to the game, but I finally watched the Blind Side this weekend. It really stuck with me how this rich family didn’t hesitate to help someone who needed it. He was so appreciative and humble. He didn’t ask for anything. The family in turn saw how fortunate they themselves are. It was refreshing and a message I wish more people would notice and think about. It seems that everything is all about bigger, better, I have to have it, I need to have the best and be better than the next person …. Yet nobody wants to actually work to achieve all these things they THINK they NEED. Need vs WANT. There is a huge difference.

I need my cane today. I don’t want to use it. I wanted a cane with more personality since I need to use it, so I set aside some money and shopped around for one that I liked that was also affordable. (You wouldn’t believe how expensive they get!) I was in bed this morning battling my Meniere’s Disease and thinking back to my life when I was younger and how different it was. I know people talk about me behind my back and complain that I get to travel a lot, or that I bought a new house yet only work part time. **For the record, part of the reason I work only half days is because of my Meniere’s Disease and how difficult it was becoming to work 8 hours a day. So I thought today I’d back up a bit and show how things aren’t always easy and you don’t just magically get a new house or get to travel or get to buy yourself a cute cane. You have to WORK for it and EARN it!

Cheap clothes,
but they worked!
College: I don’t know a single person that went to college and didn’t have student loans and debt to pay off. It is just part of the deal. You want a higher education, you PAY for it. It’s not handed to you. You go to class, you buy textbooks, you study, you try to work in a social life sometimes. It’s hard work. You have to dedicate yourself to it. College is NOT like the movies. You don’t just get to say you’re in college and then party all the time and get drunk and go to football games and not work and not study and sleep through class. That isn’t the real world…. If you want the education.

Work: I wanted a part time job during college. My roommate and I got jobs at the movie theater and had to have the proper attire. We bought black Keds because they were cheap. We each bought two pairs of black pants and two white shirts. Those got us through months of buttery popcorn and sticky Coke. Nothing was designer, it was all on sale, and it got the job done. I’ve had jobs where I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without asking permission and having someone cover my spot for me. I’ve worked 13 hour shifts from early morning to late at night. I’ve worked outside in blistering, humid heat. I’ve worked outside bundled up in multiple layers and rain. Work isn’t always glamorous or worth bragging about, but it’s what you do if you want to be a grown up and want to have things you WANT. For many years I was working to be able to buy things I NEED.

Food: I can look back at photos of myself in Florida and tell when I had no money. I was very tan (like I could afford sunblock?!?) and skinny (food wasn’t filling my cupboards). I was struggling just to pay rent and utilities. I never ate out. My lunch would consist of a package of peanut butter cracker sandwiches that I brought from home. Water was free at work, since they didn’t want us passing out or dehydrated, so that was a plus for my pocketbook! And speaking of pocketbooks – designer purses?? No. A cheap purse from an outlet store? Yes.

Check out that fancy entertainment
system - thanks to my parents for
passing them down to me!
Television: At Oregon State the first year, I had a hand me down TV – it was a rotary dial with 13 channels. This is how I got to know Mr. Bean and every other show on PBS. The next year I was given a "new" hand me down TV. A tiny box of a TV, but it worked and was even in color. Most of the friends I had in the dorms didn’t even have a TV at all, so we were all thrilled to watch anything on PBS. How many nights we made sandwiches in our rooms, sat on cheap bean bag chairs and watched Mr. Bean. And we loved it!

Phones: As a teenager I didn’t have a phone, other than a regular old-school phone in my dorm room. My car was giving out and my step-dad was worried, so sometimes he had me take his car phone. Yes, kids – we used to have “car phones”. It plugged into the car, was ginormous, the bottom part flipped open and it had a huge antenna. I had it for emergencies while driving. Some friends had pagers and I would use my home phone to leave number messages on their pagers to call back. Texting was non-existent. Email was all in DOS format. No way did we email on our phones! Our phones didn’t take bathroom selfies. They pretty much made calls and were as simple as you could get. And we were fine with that.

Car: My car had to get oil put in it every time I drove between school and my mom’s home. I had to sometimes drive on the shoulder so semi trucks could pass me… it was having a slow death. But it was my car. I used it until it physically couldn’t go anymore. Air conditioning? Power windows? Cruise control? CD player? Never heard of it. And I survived just fine! - I didn't have a car with all of those things until I bought the one I have now!!

Electronics/computers in the '90s,
 things have improved!
Computer: OMG my computer – slow, old, huge … but it worked! And my printer? Dot matrix. So loud the entire floor could hear me printing reports. And then the tearing of the sides and each sheet. Good times. I was one of the few to have a computer and printer. Most people spent nights at the computer lab working on their reports. And you know how we gathered information? It was called a library. We checked books out or looked in encyclopedias. It’s crazy how much has changed in just a short amount of time!! I sound ancient!

Travel: “You are always on vacation!” is what I am always told. Yeah, when I am gone ever notice most of the time it’s a 3 day weekend so I don’t miss much work? When I am in Vegas I don’t gamble. I don’t eat at fancy restaurants. I stay at Excalibur, which is nothing to brag about. I get free things by playing the myVegas game on Facebook. I’ve been to Walt Disney World a lot – but let’s look at that…. I got in free when I worked there. My first time visiting Florida wasn't even for vacation --- it was to WORK! Now when I go I get 50% off my hotel rooms and I get let into the parks for free. (I don't have perks in California, hence why you rarely see me there!) I save money for each and every trip and budget to make sure I have enough for what I want once I am there. BUDGET AND SAVE!!

And finally, my house: Man Friend and I have worked years to get to a place where we could buy a nice forever home. My life has always been fun, because my family and I made it that way – money or not. I've diligently saved and worked very hard to have great credit. I paid off my car in full early – every month I paid more than was due, was never late nor did I miss a payment. I have minimal credit cards, and the ones I have I used just to help build up my credit score. Going all of these years tending to what I NEED more than what I WANT has allowed me to be able to move into a nice home that I WANT to take care of.

Being a lazy free loader with no motivation will NOT
help you find a place you can call home!

Basically I only buy things on sale. Man Friend has to force me to put groceries in a cart when I am not wanting to buy food at regular cost. The only shoes I buy are for running – when I need to replace a pair. I don’t know the last time I bought regular “normal” shoes. I did buy a skirt on sale last week, otherwise I can’t remember the last time I bought new clothes, aside from a souvenir t-shirt. I take excellent care of what I do have because I know all the work that has gone into getting it. So on the outside it might look like I’m spoiled, but I've worked hard and gone without (post high school) in enough situations that yeah, now I CAN spoil myself once in a while. The point is – you don’t need the newest phones. You don’t need a fancy TV. You don’t need the nicest car. Be grateful for what you DO have. Take care of it. Work hard to get what you do need – food, medicine, toilet paper? – and eventually you’ll be able to get what you want and appreciate it!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Prefontaine Memorial 10K - Year 5!

When I started running in September of 2009 I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea how to possibly run AND breathe at the same time. People don't run in cotton t-shirts?? People rub what where?? Gels? What the heck is a Garmin?? Professional runners, what?!? I quickly learned about all of those things non-runners are clueless about, but I also needed some inspiration. Someone to look up to when I'm struggling and needing motivation to just keep pushing. If you've ever read this blog or even looked in the room I am sitting in right now, you'll know that Steve Prefontaine is and always will be my running idol! I rarely repeat races, but the Prefontaine Memorial Run every September in Coos Bay is the one race I will not miss. I could be pregnant and waddling, I'll still do it. I could have something broken and I would make sure I am racing. This is MY race rain or shine. Healthy or not. I will always be there!!

This was my fifth running of the Prefontaine 10K. It is such a wonderful atmosphere and experience every year. The volunteers are so happy to be there, and some even know Pre himself! This year I talked with a lady that went to school with him and her friend used to date him back in the day. It's just a wonderful small town race where we people show up from all over just to run in honor of Pre. This year's bib #1 was a guy that checked every day to register as soon as it opened ... and he came all the way from Brooklyn, New York just to run. That right there shows you the influence Steve Prefontaine has on the running community even now!

For the first time I arrived in Coos Bay feeling relaxed. Maybe it just takes 5 years to get me to calm down. I ate a full bagel, banana and half a pack of Clif shot blocks. That is more than I've ever had for any race including my marathons! The weather was crazy warm before the start but we didn't mind. We joined in with all the buzz at the start area, dancing along with the DJ and people watching. At 9:30 the art museum opened and we slipped in to go check out the Prefontaine exhibit. It was nice being in there all alone just taking some time to soak up all things Pre and get my head ready for the race.

At 10 o'clock The Final Countdown started playing, just like it does every year. This year, however, our race was started by none other than Linda Prefontaine, Steve's younger sister! It was surreal to be looking up at her as I crossed the finish line, but also super cool! I was casual and didn't go into stalker mode or go cry on her shoulder again like I did a few years ago. ;) So now the race....

The only flat part of this course is the last lap on the track at the end. Once that shot gun goes off you are already starting at a minor incline that only continues to grow for over a mile. I've been training on hills a lot hoping to tackle this course. I have also been sidelined with training due to my Meniere's Disease. Life has gotten busy and stressful, which is sadly a trigger for my Meniere's episdoes. This day was not any different. I was happy and relaxed, but still suffering. Not gonna lie - this race was my most difficult so far of all my years running it. From before the gun went off until well after I crossed the finish line I was dealing with pretty bad vertigo and vision problems. I made it a whopping half a mile before I had to allow myself to walk. Heat, hills, vertigo -- I was just overwhelmed and had to have some quiet Me time. 

After my first water stop I just let my legs go. My Garmin got lost with its satellite somewhere so I can't even tell my actual pace. But I know I was hauling ass running DOWN Agony Hill. After that it was just a battle. Myself versus Ocean Boulevard. Thank goodness Man Friend was with me. Multiple times I had to grab onto him so I wouldn't fall down. He was good at just putting a hand on me to make me feel more steady when I had to walk. It was emotionally pretty taxing since this is not a race I wanted to literally fall over during! All things considered I am happy with how I did and I how I didn't let myself back off, even during the dizzy moments that forced me to walk and stumble around.

The volunteers were great as usual. We had plenty of water and spectators with hoses ready to cool us off. And just like every year, I found nice runners to have mini conversations with - and as per usual that always happens on the way back UP Agony Hill!  This was my strongest finish other than in 2012 during marathon training. I powered up the last mini hill and kept steady on the track. An older man felt me coming and sped up a bit. I was going to let him have it, but then I got more steam and just steadily pushed though. So yes, I did pass that man in his 70s and the one in his 60s. Go me! 

We crossed the finish line with Linda Prefontaine standing at the sides. It's probably best I didn't see her there at the time! History shows I would have started crying! My time was far from spectacular but this year I didn't care at all. I was so happy to just be there and to be able to do something Pre never did. I tackled his course during 6.2 miles of vertigo and confusion. Take that!!

And now I end with this photo. Every time I run as a character it seems that suddenly that character is now available in tech materials or the costumes appear out of the woodwork. I keep noticing it. This time I HAVE to point it out. Notice the outfit I wore last year (the bottom photo). Now look at this year's race participant tech shirt (the above photo). Notice any sort of coincidence?!?! I predict pirates on next year's shirt - which wouldn't be too far fetched since Pre was a Marshfield High School Pirate!

I Notice Everything

I notice everything. It's rather annoying. In college I realized I had to tally mark things as a way to mentally cope during class. Like the sorority chick behind me that would take 5 minutes to nibble on her Triscuit. I swear she took soooo many bites off of one tiny cracker. Or the guy that would snore at work in between his non-stop bouts of eating. At 9am he ate a full sized back of chips all by himself. The body sounds I heard from him were so vile. A friend and I once tracked a lady's shirts and noticed every Wednesday she would wear the shirt we referred to as the table cloth. I know exactly how long some people will spend in the bathroom at work. If you come around the corner I can just give you a look to tell you not to bother because there are still 6 minutes left. OR I can say it is almost free because I hear the toilet flush and so and so is a fast hand washer. So with that, here is some nonsense for today that I hold fast to.

1. Wash your damn hands!! If you don't, trust me I WILL know it. Trust me.

2. How appropriate that this is number two. Yep, I just made a poop joke. But when this empty roll has been sitting there for almost a week now - fair game. I can point out that you can sit and take a shit but not even throw away the empty roll into that garbage can that you can literally touch while taking said shit.

3.  That concludes today's observations.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pinterest Projects: Rum Cupcakes

I'll just say it now ... don't bother making these if you want any flavor at all - especially any hint of rum.

So for my Pirate Pool Party I made delicious rainbow cupcakes with sand and a pirate flag. They were so tasty and cute to look at ... but they weren't my only consideration. I thought it would be fun for a more adult dessert. I looked through many recipes (on Pinterest of course) and decided to make some cupcakes with RUM!! I was VERY excited and certain these would be my new favorite!

Something different about these, compared the other cupcakes I've made, was that they were 100% from scratch. I was certain if my mother-in-law was still with us she would have been proud of me! 

So there I was, armed with my iPad directions, measuring cups and a ton of ingredients. Um, can we just discuss how expensive hoity toity butter can be? Psh, been there, done that.  I mixed everything together - and I was so underwhelmed I can't even give you a recipe. Flour, brown sugar, sugar, blah blah blah. 

The fun part was taking eggs and mixing them with some spiced rum. Maybe I should have added more rum..... Then I mixed the two together to get my cake mix. As a girl that proudly cooks her things from a box - I have no shame or guilt in that - and neither should you - the texture difference was something I noticed right away. This nonsense from scratch felt heavy and thick. Hmm. I started to get concerned. But I hadn't yet tasted it, so who knows. Maybe it would be delicious. These also took longer to cook that my trusty box type, making this whole process in the heat of summer even more tedious. Granted I have A/C but still.

I made the frosting from scratch as well. I thought I had one of the ingredients, but didn't - so I substituted pineapple juice. The frosting was made from powdered sugar, crushed pineapple and then the juice the pineapple was in. Hm, there was obviously something else in it but I am blanking on that. It all mixed together fine and I actually had a ton leftover. Aside from the pineapple chunks it really lacked flavor. Maybe the rum would tie it all together!  Maybe.

Here is my finished product. They tasted as good as they looked. We had a few tastings. Some with frosting. Some without. Warm out of the oven and also cooled. I thought they tasted like a sugar cookie. So really it wasn't a BAD flavor. It just wasn't the flavor I wanted. And the texture was thick and heavy just like I suspected it would be. In the end I sent all of them to work with Man Friend and didn't care what happened to them as long as I got my serving tray back. I figure guys will pretty much eat anything - especially if it is free. So the moral of this story is..... just make a cupcake from a box and drink the rum!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pinterest Projects: Rainbow Cupcakes

My favorite time of day, no secret, is what I call "Housewife Hours"! I get to vacuum any time I want (I LOVE vacuuming!!!), watching my Bravo Housewives, listen to music, try to isolate myself for undisturbed quiet time ... and try to create things I have found on Pinterest. For my Pirate Pool Party I did a few rounds of experimental baking to decide what my dessert would be. Given the name of this blog, it's probably no surprise that I opted for the rainbow dessert! How did I make it? I shall show you. You're going to realize this is ridiculously easy and complete common sense. I fully admit I found it on Pinterest and followed directions on how to do it - but looking back - um, DUH!

So here we go! *I did a double bath for the party, which resulted in way too many, FYI. First up - just get a simple box of white cake mix. Prepare it as the box says. If I can do that, ANYONE can except for maybe teenage boys. My cake had 6 colors, so I had 6 bowls ready for the mix to be evenly split among them.  To get the split I put half a cup of batter in each bowl, then just used a big spoon to start doling out the remaining bits to each bowl. Then the fun part - food coloring! I just started adding drops as needed to get the desired strength I wanted for each color. You can see my finished result here!

This is the part that was the most labor intensive - filling the cupcakes. Getting the right balance was hard because I would end up putting too much of the base colors in and by the time I was at the top I had a very full cupcake. I put about a spoonful of each other one at a time into the cup. It was probably less than a spoon once I figured out the right balance.

 Here is the inside of my finished product! It tasted as good as it looks!!!

For the Pirate Pool Party is got a little themey with them. I turned some vanilla frosting blue (like the ocean), used brown sugar to look like sand, and planed my flag in the center of my island! Yarr!!

Completely easy, right?!?!