Friday, August 24, 2012


Even though I love the change that comes with every season, I seem to hold a special place in my heart for Fall.  There's a million things to love about each season but every time I think of Fall, I get the warm fuzzies inside.  

See, in California you really don't start to notice a seasonal change until late November, it seems.  And with each passing year the summer heat seems to come in later and linger till October.  Now, in Indiana the air already starts changing by the time it's "back to school" right about now! Another reason to love Fall (yes, I know it's technically still summer).  I used to love going school supply shopping and picking up new highlighters, erasers, rubber cement...gotta love the rubber cement.  I think I enjoyed the supplies I used the least, like the protractor and the highlighter with the purple grip on it (what kid needs a highlighter!).  I remember some of my "first day of school" outfits that seriously deserve a few laughs, but they were so IN at the time.  

Like I was saying, the air starts to get a little crisper..especially in the early mornings.  There's a smell to the air too, it's fresher it seems.  Who doesn't love when the leaves start to change?!

This was definitely one of those crisp air type mornings.  

Even though the weather here in California doesn't really remind me of fall until later in the year, I luckily have Apply Hill close by to remind me that it's still here! 

Apple Hill is everything FALL! Apples, cider, pumpkins, nature, orchards, wine tasting, the country, pies, arts and crafts, candles, etc.  

Loads and loads of apples...
These bad boys were getting ready to be processed into cider! 

Best breakfast on Earth..."An apple a day"...or 5 ;-) 

Every time we go to Apple Hill I HAVE to get the apple fritter from High Hill Ranch...there is no substitute!
Of course, Mikey's favorites are always the caramel apples!
 You've gotta bring some apples home to make apple pies!
Fall definitely comes with pumpkin picking.  
Each year I seem to want something different and unique when choosing the perfect pumpkin...
Like this Cinderella's carriage looking pumkin here :-) 
And then comes the carving!!!
Yea, Tinkerbell's a little off...

The warm drinks start becoming necessary, and I find myself at Starbucks more often.  And when those happy red cups come out...I'm there even more so!  But to save a few bucks, I try my hand at barista as well...

And did I mention boots...a fall STAPLE! Must have boots! Multiple pairs are necessary...yes, necessary!  I call them my fall investment...I seem to get a pair every year :-/

And I think candy corn is the honorary candy of the season! Can't wait to get my dish out and put it to good use :-) 
And this little bumble bee came as my fall gift! We found this little munchkin on a stroll through downtown Livermore on a Saturday my family.  A rescue company had a set up of puppies and she won over our heart.  I always tell Mike that I found her, because let's face it, I practically took her and didn't let her go till the papers were signed!  I will never in my life forget the day this little girl came home with us...the first puppy I myself and my boyfriend ever owned.
I love taking rainy day strolls with her...both of us in our rain gear, she doesn't mind a few drops :-)
Aren't you excited for Fall!?
What makes you excited for the season?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"If I was going somewhere, I was running"

It's that time of year again! I'm starting to train for my 5th Half Marathon.  I was starting to get the itch to sign up for my second Half of the year after I ran the Color Run 5k..."The Happiest 5k On the Planet... and boy was it!!! 
My friends and I had so much fun just preparing for the event...figuring out our team name... "Color Me Bad" of course, and then deciding what our outfits would be months in advance.  We finally made the trek to Joann's to purchase tutu making necessities.  

We were like a bunch of kids on Christmas at that starting line.  
We couldn't wait to get splattered with paint...or I should say ketchup bottled with paint powder.  Every kilometer we ran through a gauntlet of people spraying a different "color of honor" on us.  The anticipation of each color was so much fun as we ran through downtown Sacramento.  
The color ceremony at the end was super fun.  Everybody got a packet of paint with registration and every 15 minutes at the finish line there was a count down to throw the packet into the air.  It was a rainbow of color haze.  
Pretty cool to see...
 and then it was an all out paint war with the remnants. 
Poor Mike, our fearless cheerleader was in the midst of all the paint, capturing the moments on camera.  What a guy!! I told him to not wear any good clothes and to stand back from the crowds but he didn't stray far from our sides and unfortunately got in on the action ;-) 
That hat was washed in the dishwasher (yes, the dishwasher) in a special baseball hat contraption 4 times (I think) before the purple paint washed out :-/ They said purple was the worst.  I'd argue green was pretty gnarly too!
Anyhoo, I was pretty pumped following this 5k to sign up for another Half.  I knew I was going to complete another one by the year end, it was figuring out which one to do.  I could have done the Urban Cow like last year, but I wanted to expand my half marathon horizons so I decided on a new one that's even closer to home...I'm sure Mr. Cheerleader will be thankful for the few minutes of extra sleep come race morning ;-)'s what my training schedule usually looks like from here on out. I typically run 3 times during the weekdays with a day of rest in between and a long run in on the weekend.  I start my training easy with 2 to 3 miles on the weekdays with my long run set at 4 miles.  Then, I gradually work up my weekday runs to 3-4 and my long runs adding a mile each week until I hit the 10 mile mark.  I've never done over 10 miles before a half marathon and this seems to work for me.  My goal is to finish under 2 hours like I have in my previous Halfs but closer to the 1:50 mark.  

Tomorrow starts the beginning of my training with a 2.5 mile loop with a pretty good incline.  The one thing about this half...the finish is a pretty steep hill, so I'll have to build in some incline training.

To bed I go, for the early morning is when I can escape this crazy heat in order to get that run in.  Wish me luck!  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Beer Tasting 30th Birthday

I must preface and say, my boyfriend is NOT easy to surprise and I can not keep a surprise to save my life.  Did I mention, Mike hates surprises?  I mean, hates, and I know that's a harsh word.  He likes to know what's going on at every turn and every second that passes.  Let's just say, he likes to be prepared.  Soo, about 6 months prior to his birthday I started thinking what the heck am I going to do!??  It's his 30th and it must be done right! 

I wanted in the worst of ways to surprise him, but I knew this was a sure-fire fail, so what did I do? One night as it was coming down to the 1-month-prior mark, I straight-up asked him what his ideal celebration would be.  And before this, he'd said he didn't want anything, but I think I kept dropping the message that this isn't just any birthday...sure, it only comes once just like all the others, but it's important, it's special, YOU are special, and YOU are important, your friends want to celebrate this day with you, and it's the big 3-O! You can't escape it! I think he got the message of how important it was to me to do something for him, and deep down I knew I could throw him something that he'd truly enjoy.

So, he actually told me what he'd like to that's surprising! He said a get-together at home with friends would be perfect and then we can head out to a bar downtown for drinks later in the night.  Everybody would then enjoy eachothers' company and it would be the easiest scenario for all involved (he's always thinking of others).  No traveling to far off places, no throwing in tons of cash-ola for the people attending...just show up and have a good time!  And having a good time is exactly what Mike's all about.

Here is how it went down...  

Once I knew the logistics of what he wanted, I went to town on being creative, my forte!  I decided on a manly-man theme and something that he would love...a "Beer Tasting" party...what guy wouldn't like that?  I kept the theme a surprise to everyone and just gave out the minimum details to the party goers so there would at least be a few elements of surprise throughout the night.
I researched some trusty party sites and came up with a culmination of good ideas: 

I liked the decor of the pinwheels in this "Pots and Pigs" themed party on the Hostess Blog

This bottle cap cake was most definitely being made from a "Modern Beer Tasting Party" also from the Hostess Blog
I got the idea to make the Blue Moon and Guinness cupcakes and adorable bottle cap coasters from a "Plaid Flannel Beer Tasting Party" once again from the Hostess Blog 
I enjoyed the idea of galvanized pails as beer coolers and chalkboard signs for more decor which I found on A Thoughtful Place blog.

The "Gourmet Grill-Out" Party on Pizzazzerie really confirmed my want of chalkboards, pails, bunting signs and the color scheme of teals and oranges. 

And of course, every party needs a game...the Beer Tasting Game from the Could Be Interesting blog
*All photos courtesy of their respective blogs.  

So after compiling all my ideas, I made a plan of action.  I started with Michael's for any random supplies they might have.  I did find awesome beer cozies and all my chalkboard needs!  Party city came in handy for all the food serving necessities and they have a plethora of colors to suit your party theme, for sure.  Thanks to World Market and Bevmo for the never ending supply of alcoholic beverages.  And to my favorite grocery store ever...Winco for all my gourmet needs.  

I was able to prep and prepare everything in a day and a half after a month of good hard planning and decoration creation.  I think he was pleasantly surprised with all my hard work and preparation...yes, actually surprised despite the fact that he knew the shindig was happening.    
I used a Martha Stewart punch to personalize each cozie
I bought these cute wooden crates at Michael's to hold the non-alcoholic beverages and found the huge blue totes at Party City for a surprising $4 bucks!

I bought a block of thin Styrofoam and painted it black for a concrete look and glue gunned the bottle caps on.  Cheap coasters!
Got these cute little chalkboard pails for snacks in the dollar bins at Target! What a find!!
The Beer Tasting/Guessing game...don't worry, the bottles were covered and the caps off once people started arriving :-) 
And you can't forget the food... 
Mini wedge salads with bacon bits and blue cheese dressing on the side
Cheese tortellini skewers with pesto dipping sauce
You can't have a beer party without soft pretzels!
The Blue Moon and Guinness Cupcakes, recipes linked
And even though we had cupcakes...
You've gotta have an actual cake on your birthday! My own red velvet and cream cheese concoction in the shape of a Stella Artois bottle cap :-) 
I think the birthday boy was definitely a happy camper and it'll be a night he remembers.  

My mission: accomplished!