Friday Five: First Blogiversary

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

As of this week, #MARCI is #one.

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Happy Blogiversary to me!

This is my third stab at blogging and each time it seems to be serendipitous timing. My first blog chronicled my life overseas in Mexico, Italy and China, and the second was a Project 365 that captured the daily happenings of our engagement, wedding, and honeymoon. All things I would never want to forget. Tiny details forever in the interwebs’ clutches for me to browse and enjoy at any time.

So when I wanted to start another blog, I had a suspicion it would be the same deal. Life changes were a’brewin’. And I wasn’t wrong.

Since starting this little blog, I’ve:

# moved from Virginia to Utah
# said goodbye to one of the best
# said hello to one of the cutest
# been introduced to the world of Div. I
# experienced the true meaning of “winter” (and survived!)
# started a new job
# opened my own Etsy shop
# passed my brother on to his *second* wife
# surprised the bejesus out of my favorite little and BFF
# run my first 5k (and survived!)
# eaten a lot of sweets (namely these)
# taken a lot of photos (mostly of her)
# read 37 books
# written 120 posts

That’s quite the highlight reel.

I’m so glad everything is documented, so humbled you kept reading, so excited to see the adventure continue.

I love blogging and for someone who is as anti-Facebook and anti-oversharing as me, it’s a safe place for me to pour my heart, my happenings and my vulnerability. A place to call my own, literally.

I started hashtagmarci for me, my friends and my family, but it has incredibly grown into much more in a short amount of time. For today’s Friday Five I thought I’d share with you some surprising (and not-so-surprising) stats, but before getting down to the deets, I have a request. Some group participation, if you please. It’s a quick test and, to your relief and mine, no calculators are required. In fact, it just involves ice cream – my favorite kind of test. I just need you to tell me what flavor I should make (and share!) next. Seriously, how hard is that? Just click below! (Kudos to Bryan for the idea of a blogiversary poll that involves my favorite summer indulgence.)

If you know and love me, you’ll know which one to pick. (Hint: #breakfast) And if you know and love Joe, you’ll know which one he’s Jedi-mind-tricking you to choose. <insert slow hand-sweeping motion here> #Thanksgiving.  I don’t see how we can go wrong here, but I’m excited to see what the jury decides.

And now, much like the back of your high school yearbooks, here are the end-of-year awards for this little one-year-old blog o’ mine.

5. Voted Most Vocal

With 33 comments, Bobbie was a clear winner. Sean and Booh were tied in second place with 9 and Beverly rounded out third place with 8. Don’t be shy, my friends. Comment away – let’s chat! Blogging can be a lonely place without it.

Top Comments - Year 1

4. Voted Most Popular

Apparently people love themselves some coconut cake! I think I can thank Pinterest for the success of this post. Oh, and Joe, for being born.

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3. Voted Most Worldly (not to be confused with Most Wordy)

As you might guess, most of my readers come from the US of A. A whopping 5,027 views from ‘Merica, as of yesterday.

But what you might not know (I certainly didn’t) is that I’ve had readers from all over the globe. Here are the countries who contain some #Marci readers.

Around the World

2. Voted Most Friendly

This blog has 62 followers. 19 of those I know and can call on the phone. 43 of you I’ve never met. How crazy is that?! I love having new friends and appreciate you tuning in to see what’s going on in my dog-and-baking-filled life. Leave me a note or send me a message! And thanks for being part of my Framily plan. Group hug!

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1. Voted Best Eye-Candy

Move over, Brad and Angie! This blog has had a lot of head-to-toe eye sweeps. Like over 5,400 of them. And that’s not counting all you subscribers who tune in via email. Makes me want to blush and cover up all modest-like. No wait, that’s just Utah. Forget it. Short shorts and spaghetti straps for everyone!

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Thanks for being here, my friends. I want to eat all the ice creams with you. Forever and ever, amen.

Let’s celebrate.

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# a 5k first

Well, I did it.  I chased the rainbow at today’s Color Vibe run.

My first 5k is officially in the books…and by books I mean my baby book. Mom, can you make a note of today’s milestone?? Aren’t you still doing that??

All of my fears and concerns were washed away in a sea of tutus, screaming people, mountain views, and colored corn starch this morning. Funny how that happens.

Signing up for this in January, I had high hopes of training several times a week and channeling my inner-gazelle. And even though I’d go to the gym, I kept telling myself “It’s (X) months away! It’s only 3 miles!” and then the closer we got to it, those thoughts turned to “Shit! It’s (X) months away! It’s three miles!”  Turns out, there is no inner-gazelle.

I already mentioned that running on a treadmill while watching TV is not the same as running outside—a shocking revelation to only myself, it seems. Anne and I trained together only once—two days before the race no less. I met her after work for a run near her house, accompanied by our own personal trainer pushing us along…her son, Harrison. Look at that face! He totally means business.

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Our run had a lot of walking breaks, but you couldn’t beat the scenery and the conversation. We even saw a baby horse and a few weed-eating goats on the side of the road.

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Those on Instagram saw that we picked up our packets yesterday at a local gym. Our haul included a race shirt, sunglasses, color bomb packet and, of course, the legit race number, which I kept calling my “badge” much to Joe’s chagrin.

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Bella woke me up today at her normal time of 5:45 and I had a hard time falling back asleep – lots of excitement and nervous energy coursing through my veins. The fear of the unknown is always the worst, right? And with this being my first race, there were a lot of unknowns and my mind was fluttering through a flurry of what-ifs.

I took my time getting ready, following their suggestions of wearing light-colored clothes to show the color better, throwing some old towels in the car, and coating my hair in oil to protect my color from theirs.

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Thanks to a large scoop of coconut oil, you too can run your color race looking like a used car salesman or Pat Riley!

The race was held at the American West Heritage Center, a place I’ve driven by countless times on my way to Salt Lake but never paid much attention to. It’s nestled near the Wellsvilles, which proved to be a picture-perfect spot for running inspiration. I feel sad for those that run their races surrounded by buildings and concrete. You can’t beat this.

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Does this course map look daunting to you? It did to me at first. Can a sister get a map scale??

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As you’ll see in the photos, we ran through fields, near streams and livestock and even through the parking lot at the very beginning.

Joe and I got to the site early for some stretching, people-watching and badge pinning.

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Here’s Anne!

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We saw all kinds of people at the start line. Old, young, *very* young. (If there’s going to be a no-pet rule, there should probably be a no-baby rule too.) It was a little chaotic and many chose to douse themselves with color before the race even started. We opted to earn our stripes on the course.

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They staggered the runners at the start line, using what appeared to be leaf blowers to coat us in color as we neared the front.

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And then we were off!

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Since I opted to not run with either the GoPro or my cell phone, Joe documented the race from the sidelines, even catching us a few times along the way.

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Don’t mind those sagging saddlebag pockets…that would be my inhaler and two color packets for the end of our race.
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Nice form, Anne!

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Just a sampling of some of the livestock we passed. We even saw beautiful horses running in a nearby field at one point. Definitely an inspiring boost at the end of the race.

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Here are some general photos from the race…you won’t find us in these, but they give you a good idea of the course and the amount of crazy people surrounding us.

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What you don’t see here are the actual color stations along the race where volunteers, also coated in color, threw the powder at you as you ran by. There were four along the route, each being a different color.

The race took us about 35-40 minutes and I’d say we ran over two-thirds of it. There were times when we were forced to walk when the path narrowed or the runners became too concentrated. And, of course, there were times when I was all “T-O!” and had to walk a bit to catch my breath or fight a stitch in my side after gulping down some water halfway.

We found Joe quickly before joining the mosh pit of recent finish-line crossers with our color bomb packets.

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Do you see us?

So fun, except when the majority of your blue packet hits your head and goes down your shirt sleeve…something you don’t realize until taking a shower later.  #blueboobs

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The only thing I wish I could have changed today was some of the terrain. There were long stretches of tall grass covering uneven ground—a sure recipe for twisted ankle disasters. Some of the paths were very narrow and when you’re running next to someone with a huge stroller filled with littles, something has to give and that something is going to be you. Other than those times, it was perfectly enjoyable the entire way.

To counter my asthma, I did exactly what I had been doing in my training: take one hit off the inhaler about 30 minutes before starting to run and I had absolutely no issues. No wheezing, no chest tightening, no coughing. I’m not a doctor, but it worked for me. Smiles all around.

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After the race, we met up with Anne’s husband, Brant, and Harrison for a well-deserved breakfast burrito at Paco’s. Warm carbs are always the best reward.

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And paper bags always make the best hats.

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I can’t believe it’s all over! All that worrying and inner struggle over a fun 35 minutes on a Saturday morning.

I’m so glad I did it and…wait for it…I’d even do it again. I think having the fun factor helped for my first time: the color, the excitement, the craziness, the mountains, the we’re-not-going-to-time-you. It was the perfect introduction into the world of running and it definitely has me curious about other races. Maybe Anne and I can be 5k buddies–we definitely were a perfect match for each other today.

Thanks to everyone who emailed, commented, texted or called with their well-wishes and encouragement. I definitely felt your support today.

And major thanks to Anne, who is a great companion whether we’re running, walking or talking, and to Joe, who cheered us on and put up with my severe pre-race neurosis.  I couldn’t have done it without you guys!

Does this mean I can stay on the couch the rest of the weekend?? I mean, come on, I have a badge!

Friday Five: Dig It

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

A three-day weekend is staring me down right now and I couldn’t be happier. We’re all due for a few relaxing days. So much has been happening here lately…anniversary, 5k training…but I’ve decided to give you a link round-up for today’s Friday Five. Here are some things over the last week that have given me pause, made me snort-laugh and made me want to do nothing but devour books:

5. Summer Reading

You already know what I have on my plate for the next few months, but if you’re looking for suggestions, Amazon’s got you covered. Here’s their list of 100 books to read in a lifetime, which includes childhood favorites like The Hungry Caterpillar, tomes like Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, old classics, recent hits and many of my favorite books ever. I love that each book has a tagline over its photo for a quick reference. I’ve read 36, how about you? After a summer of heavy hitters, I’m thinking about devoting my next Shelf Life to classics I’ve never read.

Amazon.com’s 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime

4. 9-11 Memorial

This week the 9/11 memorial museum opened to the public, a both highly-anticipated and highly-controversial undertaking. Though I’m not on board with the gift shop, I think it’s important to have such a museum…a place where anyone can go and see the faces of those lost and remember the day that changed so many lives. The experiences I’ve had while visiting the Holocaust and OKC Bombing memorial museums are ones I’m continually grateful for and humbled by, and I imagine this would be no different. But, this article made me really question everything. This is profoundly moving. If you only click on one link here today, let it be this one.

The Worst Day of My Life is Now New York’s Hottest Tourist Attraction

3. It Ain’t Over Until…

If someone said “think of an opera star,” would you picture Anna Netrebko, or would you picture a robust lady in a viking’s hat with long, blonde braids? Be honest.

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The truth is that many people believe opera stars to be heavy, overweight, and/or voluptuous. And many are. So why are critics now calling them out for it?

Mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught was recently fat-shamed by several critics after a recent performance. Isn’t opera dramatic enough? My good friend and former colleague, Glenn Winters, *weighed* in on the matter on his own blog, Operation Opera.

Operation Opera: Weighing In on Opera Singer’s Weight

2. Safety first

My 5k is tomorrow and earlier this week I innocently went to weather.com to look up Saturday’s forecast. And then this story was featured at the top:

Teen dies from asthma attack after running two miles.

Oh, dear. I’m superstitious at times, but that seemed like a pretty big warning to me. Then, I saw another similar, heartbreaking and terrifying story and quickly shut my laptop.

Virginia girl dies moments after finishing half marathon.

Inhaler in hand, I will run tomorrow and know my limits. Those poor, grieving families will be on my mind the entire way.

1. Friday Funnies

Let’s end this on a lighter note, shall we? Lots of internet things have made me laugh this week. There was this word comparison between Mormons and the rest of the country (#spoton), and there was a new installment of Jimmy Kimmel’s hilarious series ‘Celebrities Read Mean Tweets’ (WARNING: Graphic Language). But, the thing I loved most is this Drum-Off on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show. You know I love Will Ferrell, right? He can do no wrong, unless you’re talking about Men Seeking Women, then he can do all kinds of wrong. But, this. This, is perfect.

Roll the credits. Happy a happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone!  

Love Letter: Year Four

Dear Husband,

4 years = 48 months = 209 weeks = 1461 days = 35,064 hours = 2,103,840 minutes = 126,230,400 seconds.

That’s how long it’s been since we said “I do.”

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So, how can it feel like it was yesterday?

That week was so amazing. The culmination of six years of friendship, five of those years dating, four countries lived in, three degrees, two families and one very precious puppy.

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And, don’t forget, the true pre-ceremony test of cleaning salsa out of my teeth. Despite what you were thinking at that moment, you really were winning by choosing me as your bride.

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Do you remember when our late-night study sessions used to revolve around madrigals, horn history and…inevitably…scary movies? Now they include discussions on equity, investments and Bella. We were mere babes back then. Muppet Baby versions of ourselves.

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It’s almost been ten years since I first laid eyes on you. First impressions are always the strongest, and while yours of me involved 80s hair and a shiny case, I admired your worldliness, not having a clue that in less than two years we’d be travelling the world together. But, before that there was Brass Choir, Horn Choir, ensemble rotations, recitals, music history classes, music history study sessions and many, many lunches. I think we’re the poster child for friendships turning into the best relationships.

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Clearly.

I think we’ve also proven that if you can survive living overseas together without killing each other, you’ll make it for good. I love our international trials, because they are THE BEST stories at parties…still. Hell, they are the best stories to just us. I’m glad we can still laugh about China. I feel like we’ll be 80 and still laughing about China.

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But no marriage is perfect and we’ve certainly seen our share of struggles thanks to our being two of the most stubborn people on the planet. Thank you for being patient, sharing blame when it wasn’t needed, and showering me with kindness, all for the sake of bringing our relationship back to balance faster.

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To truly love someone, you not only accept their good, but also embrace their quirks. And you’ve got the hottest quirks around.

I don’t mind that you clutter our home with horns, because you also clutter it with laughter, silliness, hard work and love. I don’t mind that you can search Ebay for hours, because you use that same search prowess and determination to find us amazing places to live, travel deals and new jobs that take us far and wide. I appreciate everything you do to lead our little family of three, making me feel equally on my toes and safe and secure all at once.

This morning as I brushed my teeth, I stared at your wedding ring sitting on the shelf next to some lotion and floss. Something so extraordinary surrounded by the ordinary. This feeling of pure comfort and happiness washed over me. This is everything I imagined marriage to be and more. And that’s because of you. I will always choose you.

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Thank you, thank you. For leading me in ways I didn’t know I needed. And loving me at times when I didn’t think possible. I know I’m a handful, but I’m glad you’re the one holding me. I love you.

Here’s to forever.

Always,

Your Bride

Wedding photos by the one and only Ricardo Serpa.

# we all scream

Summer = Ice Cream.

Don’t check my math, I know it’s accurate.

About this time of year my mind starts to go ice cream crazy. The weather is nice, just begging you to enjoy a cold scoop. I can’t be the only one in this dilemma.

While I’ll never turn down an opportunity to hit up Braum’s (Tulsa shout-out!) or Aggie Ice Cream or Orange Leaf, I really love to make my own. It’s so rewarding and who can beat having a quart of the homemade stuff in the freezer? And since I can’t get Blue Bell out here in the forgotten West, I’m all the more willing to do the work myself.

My favorite ice cream cookbook has been Jeni’s.

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I had been hearing Bobbie and Robert rave about her flavors for years before she started shipping them across the country to specialty food stores. And then her cookbook came out and I no longer had to shell out $12 for a pint. All was well. Her flavors are exotic and mind-blowing. You might remember the Cranberry Royale Sorbet and Bourbon Ice Cream I made for Thanksgiving last year. So amazing.

Recently I was reading a review for food blogger David Lebovitz’s new book, My Paris Kitchen. After a little digging on my library’s website, I not only put myself on the waiting list for that, but all of his other books as well, including his The Perfect Scoop.

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Apparently he wrote the Bible of all Ice Cream cookbooks. How did I not already know this?!?! I picked it up yesterday on the way to my haircut and was sitting in my hot car in the parking lot, not willing to go in until I absolutely had to. I was too busy drooling over his recipes, photos and stories. French Ice Cream v. Philadelphia Ice Cream — did you know there are two ice-cream making schools of thought? I feel like such an ice cream amateur.

One of the first things I do with any dessert cookbook is flip to the back and check out “P” under the index. I measure and judge cookbooks by their peanut butter recipes. Joe and I are the reigning King and Queen when it comes to peanut butter. Our wedding cake was even chocolate-peanut butter, accompanied by Happy Birthday tie-dye cupcakes for those with peanut allergies. #sorrynotsorry

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Back to the car. I was about to be late to my appointment, but David Lebovitz’s Peanut Butter Ice Cream was staring me in the face. It seemed too good to be true. A handful of ingredients. One blender and an ice cream machine. That’s it?! No eggs on the stove? No tempering?

*thump – whoosh*

That’s me dying and going to heaven. I had already planned on meeting Joe for lunch after my appointment and when I told him I had to stop at the store on the way home so we could make ice cream, he lovingly dubbed it “Saturday Fatterday,” in response to my Sunday Fundays. Works for me.

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When I was mixing the ice cream, I remembered we had some of our favorite milk chocolate fudge (Southgate shout-out!) and being that milk chocolate is the perfect match for peanut butter, I decided to layer the ice cream with ribbons of the fudge. I hate always being right.

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And then I stood over that machine and thought of all of the other things I could mix in, if I had them at the ready: Uncle Dick’s peanut brittle, salted peanuts, pretzels, chocolate-covered pretzels, mini-marshmallows, any kind of candy bar. Peanut butter is the new vanilla.

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The light in my kitchen was so perfect this morning that I had to take a few pictures of my  new favorite ice cream. The peanut butter flavor is so prominent. No hiding in the background here. And no eggs! Philadelphia-style ice cream may be the way to go!

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The only problem with using morning light to photograph your ice cream, is that you find yourself face-to-face with ice cream before you’ve had a chance to get out of your PJS. And then this happens…

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Break out those ice cream makers, my friends! It’s officially summer. (And I’d start with this one…)

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Peanut Butter Ice Cream

from The Perfect Scoop

3/4 c. smooth peanut butter (do not use natural peanut butter)
3/4 c. plus 2 Tbs. sugar
2 2/3 c. half-and-half
pinch of salt
1/8 tsp. vanilla

Puree all of the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze to the desired consistency.

And now I’ll continue my ice cream obsession…anxiously waiting for my library to carry these. I may just break down and do an Amazon order…in Utah, the summers are too short.

Ample Hills Cookbook      Jeni's Desserts

 

Friday Five: Marci Gump

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

So, I’m running a 5K next week.

Did I forget to mention that?

Of course I did. Denial is a powerful drug.

If you looked at a dartboard of my comfort zones, it would include music, books, writing, cooking, dogs, family, photography, computers/design, pop culture, sarcasm and peanut butter. Being athletic has never been on the list. Not even close. I’m talkin’ bottom of the bottomless barrel.

I have horrible, life-scarring memories of the PE tests in elementary school with me being the last kid running the mile, crying as everyone watched me struggle. When I was young my parents sent me and my brother to tennis camp and I couldn’t serve up the damn ball. When we had our final assessment at the end of the two-week camp, I bartered with my coach, offering to help a girl clean sunscreen that had exploded inside her gym bag rather than take my test. (It didn’t work.) There are these humiliating moments dotting my life when it comes to not being athletically coordinated.

And then a bit of a reprieve. I was diagnosed with asthma when I was 12. Finally!, I thought. My days of having to pretend to participate are over. I have a valid excuse. I have a way out. And, I’ve used it, believe me. I’ve milked the asthma-card so hard that even IT can’t breathe.

But, here’s the truth:

I go to the gym a lot and my asthma has never proved a huge concern. Nothing I can’t manage, even without my inhaler.

I’m stronger than I think. Stronger than I’ll let myself believe.

To prove this to myself, I signed up for the local Color Run back in January, full of resolution and drive. And now, five months later, I’m a little more unsure of the situation. A 5K isn’t far, I know this, but there is still an uneasiness about the entire situation.

Here are some of the thoughts running (har har…har) through my mind at the moment:

5. I’m not a runner.

This is where I blame my asthma, the altitude, my high arches, my general uncoordinatedness. Yes, I can play a 70-minute Mahler symphony, but make me run outside for 30 minutes and I’m a mess. Or am I? (See number 3.)

I picked the Color Run for a reason. It’s not timed. People throw color bombs at you while you run past checkpoints. It’s totally chill. And I need chill right now.  “The Happiest 5K on the Planet”?? I can get behind that.

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4. I’m an inside girl.

I can run my heart out at the gym on the treadmill or elliptical machines, surrounded by the comforting familiarity of air conditioning and Law and Order re-runs. But the idea of unforgiving asphalt, uneven ground, thin air and inescapable heat (yeah, right, most likely COLD) has me a little weary.

3. Shut up, Marci.

I’m not worried about what others think of me, but I know the criticizing voice in my head tends to tell me I can’t do things like this. It shouldn’t be so easy to talk myself out of things I know, deep down, I can do.

I remember being 13 and traveling overseas with People to People ambassadors and we were going to climb a mountain (not like Utah mountains, UK mountains…okay, big hills). I think I made it halfway up before ducking out and climbing back down to the city’s safety net to wait for everyone. I think I even got ice cream while I was waiting. How pathetic is that? I just didn’t think I could do it. Granted, my asthma diagnosis was fresh off the file (whoooop, there it is!), but I probably could have done it. I regret that moment still. I’m not going to let that happen again. So, shut your trap, inner Marci. Let me do what I know I can do.

2. I’m not alone.

I won’t be running alone next Saturday. My friend Anne has graciously agreed to stay by my side. We will hopefully get in a few practice runs this week together to see how it goes. Joe will be there on Saturday cheering me on and documenting this momentous occasion. For you, but mostly for me. I need them both more than I let on.

1. In sickness and in health?

I haven’t even been to the gym this week (not to mention I haven’t even been running outside yet to train) because I’m trying to fight off this nasty cold. I’m worried about the running making me feel worse. I’m also worried being sick is making me less excited, less happy, less encouraged to do this. I’m worried I’ll use it as just another excuse. I’m trying not to. Really, I am.

The point of this post. The point of this run is to break some boundaries I’ve set against myself. To rid myself of the habit of excuses no longer valid. I can run 3.1 miles. Easily. I can detach myself from the sad girl running around her playground’s soccer field while everyone watches. I can do this, and I will.

There is no longer nowhere to run, but there is nowhere to hide. This might just be the most vulnerable 5K ever run.

Throw me some good vibes next Saturday and I promise to post a recap of how it all (and, hopefully not me) went down. And then you can surely look forward to my next post.

# MIL

It was so nice having my mother-in-law here last week. Understandably, our visitor list was a bit short, okay…blank, during the winter. We apparently don’t surround ourselves with ski junkies or snow bunnies.  But having her come was the perfect kick in the pants to spring-clean our place, fluff the guest bed and explore Utah post-freeze.

Since I had just returned from my own trip, I wasn’t able to take off any days while she was here, but this is Joe’s prime summer time before his festival starts, so they were able to explore together.

Things they did without me: visit Salt Lake’s Temple Square, hike the Wind Caves, relax in the hot springs.

I joined up with them after work for dinner, movies or TV before crawling to bed.

On Friday, we heard a bell concert at the Mormon Tabernacle in town. You might remember the building from my early-Utah post last summer.

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My god, when was Utah ever that green?! I did a triple-take when the picture loaded. I’m ready for summer.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it was nice on the inside. Nothing over the top. We sat in a very steep balcony for a birds-eye-view of the place. I found myself staring at those organ pipes for most of the concert.

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On Saturday morning we got up early (for me on a Saturday at least) and went to the opening of the farmer’s market. It was cold and rainy, so not a lot of people out, but I did manage to find local honey to combat my ever-present allergies and some awesome red pepper hummus made from pomegranate seeds. #yum

Then the sun came out and we walked over to the Willow Park Zoo. I didn’t even know Logan HAD a zoo and was pleasantly surprised at its offerings.

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Coyotes, linx, wild turkeys, all tucked away together. Well, not *together* together.

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Spoiler Alert! The Ugly Duckling was really a pelican.

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These baby turkeys were just born that morning! Momma was being very protective. This was the best shot I could get before she tucked them under her. FYI: baby turkey = poult.

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It was Family Day at the zoo, so they had a special petting zoo. We passed by the cage and no one was around, so I admired the baby goat and lamb cuteness before moving on. Confession Time: I have a hard time with petting zoos. Mainly the part where I have to put down the animal and leave. My parents have photos of me strangling goats with hugs and then throwing a fit when prompted to move on. PhotoS. plural. And let’s just say nothing’s changed.

When we walked by the second time, a volunteer asked if we wanted to come in the pen. Umyesofcourseido.

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I was in pure heaven.

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Until Joe told me it was time to leave. (Are you there Freud, it’s me Marci.)

Lucky for him and Leslie, no fits were thrown. At least not verbally. I did want to take them all with me. *sigh* Good thing it’s not a permanent exhibit, or I’d be there every weekend.

Leslie headed home after our Mother’s Day brunch, but we’re so glad she was able to make it out to Logan to hit off summer. And it’s a good thing she’s gone, because now I find myself one sneeze away from a horrible cold. You know the feeling….sore throat, chills, almost-feverish, scratchy voice? I’ve been balancing here for two days now. What will tomorrow bring? Relief or full-blown ick?

# mother’s day 2014

I love my momma. Plain and simple.

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She’s my twin. My best friend. My co-conspirator. My biggest fan. The biggest heart. An amazing YaYa. Damn good cook. I could go on and on. She’s so much to so many. Isn’t that the definition of a mom?

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Now that my sister and friends are having littles of their own, I watch in awe of their sacrifices and appreciate my own mother all the more. Mothering is tough stuff. In today’s Facebook age, people tend to just share the good times, portraying a picture-perfect life full of smiles and clean playrooms and clean diapers. But, that’s just a glimpse into something so much larger. The tears, the insecurity, the sleepless nights. I feel honored when my friends let me into their true world of parenting, because it’s just something most people don’t discuss that much. I try to picture what my mom’s life was like when I was little. Makes me want to whip up a homemade super-hero cape and slap it on her back. Job. Well. Done.

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And, I can’t even tell her that on the phone today because she’s celebrating a job well done off the coast of Italy. A well-deserved, much-needed trip. Soak it up, girlfriend. #WLU

I’m lucky to have a lot of great moms in my life. Grands, in-law, step and fairy god – I’ve got ‘em all and I need them all. I appreciate all of the strong women in my life who continue to mold and guide me.

And, then there’s my baby. Fur baby, yes, but my baby all the same. Bella is everything to me. I love and treat her as if she were my own child. Those who know me know that’s not an exaggeration in the least. I’m happy to be a fur baby mommy. She makes life wonderful and full of love. I’m a better person because of her, no doubt about it.

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Before I tell you how we celebrated today, I have to say one more thing about Mother’s Day. Another unspoken truth. Mother’s Day is dreaded by many, many women. It’s a day where people spread their I’m-a-mommy cheer, rightfully so, but there are women who are yearning for their own. Women who were told they couldn’t have their own. Women who are mourning the loss of their own. Women who are waiting to bring home their forever baby, biological or otherwise. Women who are mourning the loss of their own mother. It’s a hard day and I urge everyone to tread lightly among the silent broken hearted. **Dismounting soap box**

Today was a lovely day in Utah and a special Mother’s Day because we got to spend it with Joe’s mom, Leslie! A rare and wonderful treat.

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Since she had to catch a flight tonight, we had a special brunch. You know we celebrate with food in this house. “To cook for someone is to give them part of yourself. It’s the greatest gift you can give.” So said Robert Irvine on a Restaurant Impossible show we watched today. #sotrue

We started with our favorite Doughnut Muffins. These really are a perfect breakfast treat, or snack treat or dessert treat. Joe and I absolutely L-O-V-E them.

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Light and fluffy on the inside, humming with warm cinnamon and nutmeg, with a nice—slightly crunchy—outside thanks to some melted butter and cinnamon and sugar.

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They really do taste like old-fashioned cinnamon-sugar doughnuts.

Doughnuts or donuts? I feel lazy when I write donuts. Just write out dough!

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And, as per usual, I take these holidays as a chance to try something new and this time I chose a recipe from my the newest Pioneer Woman cookbook.

Savory bagel and cream cheese French toast.

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I don’t even LIKE French toast, but I couldn’t pass up the looks of this breakfast casserole.

I love me some bagels!

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In hindsight, I would have cut the cream cheese into smaller pieces. or reduced the amount, because those bites of all-cream-cheese were a little much, even for me.

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But, all-in-all, I was happy with my savory French toast. The bagels weren’t too eggy or soggy, my main FT complaint. The bagels on top were so brown and crunchy – definitely my favorite part.

Here are the recipes for the next special breakfast in your life. Enjoy!

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Doughnut Muffins

1 ¾ c. flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. cinnamon
1/3 c. oil
¾ c. sugar
1 egg
¾ c. milk

Topping: (may need to double, as needed)

¼ c. butter
1/3 c. sugar
1 Tbs. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Combine oil, sugar, egg and milk in another large bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir only to combine.

Pour into greased muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes.

While baking, melt butter in a tall mug or bowl and let rest.  Mix together sugar and cinnamon in another bowl.

While still hot and in the muffin tin, brush entire outside of muffins one at a time with the melted butter, pop out of tin and immediately roll in cinnamon/sugar mixture to coat.  Let cool. (Yields 9-12 muffins, depending on how heavy you scoop.)

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 Bagel and Cream Cheese French Toast

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays

3 everything bagels
butter, for greasing the pan
4-ounces cream cheese
1 c. grated cheddar cheese
4 eggs
1 c. milk
¼ c. heavy cream
½ Tbs. chives, plus more for topping}
½ tsp. dry mustard
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cayenne (optional)

Tear bagels into large pieces and put them in a large buttered casserole dish.

Cut the cream cheese into (SMALL!) pieces and distribute them all over the top of the bagels. Sprinkle on the grated cheese.

Combine the eggs, milk, cream, chives, dry mustard, salt and cayenne, if using, in a bowl. Whisk until combined and then pour it all over the top.

Cover with foil and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

When you’re ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 350-degrees and bake, covered, for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 15-20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Cool 15 minutes before serving with extra chives.  (Yields 4-6 servings)

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!

Friday Five: A Guest Post for Mother’s Day

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

So far, it’s just been me cranking out these posts, but today I gladly hand over the reigns to a very capable young lady. Ladies and Gents, I give you my first guest blogger…Lily.

This all started a few days ago when I called Lily before bedtime.  Here’s how it went down:

Lily: Hi, NoNo

Me: Hey, Lil’. Am I on speaker phone?

Lily: Yep.

Me: Can your mom hear me?

Lily: Yep.

Me: Turn the speaker phone off, or go where she can’t hear me.

Lily: Okay! <<insert crazed running down the hall and a door shutting>> Now you’re on speaker phone in my room, but she can’t hear you.

Me: Perfect. How would you like to help write a blog post for your mom?

Lily: Okay! What do I need to do?

Me: Tell me the top five things you love about her.

Lily: Oh….easy!

5. She’s sweet. I mean, like, really sweet.

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Lily: How many do I have left?

Me: That was one, so you have four left.

4. She helps me

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3. She really, really, really, really…wait a minute….really, really reads books to me.

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2. She helps me color

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Me: Yeah, she’s a really good colorer, isn’t she?

Lily: Yeah, she is…but so am I! (haha!)

Me: I know you are, I have your artwork all over my house! So, what’s the number one thing you love about your mom??

1. I like it that she loves me.

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Well said. Everyone would be lucky to be a Booh Baby.

Here’s to all of the mothers out there, fighting the good fight, passing up on sleep and sanity to be the best they can possibly be. You have my amazement, appreciation and adoration.

Today’s blog post comes from Lily

IMG_9841 Lily is a sassy six-year-old, an amazing big sister, smarter than most and loved by all.

She likes to swim, read, play with her baby brother and shoot guns like a boss.

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Above sentiments also shared by brother, Linc:
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Love this family!

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Friday Five: USU Lessons

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

We did it. It’s the end of the school year, our first here in Utah. Graduation is tomorrow and then it’s blue skies toward summer. Well, for Joe at least. We’ve really enjoyed this year in Utah and are REALLY looking forward to spending another summer here with Sean and Wallis. Before I recap what I’ve absorbed in our first year here, I thought I’d put out a call for Friday Five topics for the summer. What do you want to read about? Nothing’s too random. Five things I’d take to a desert island? Five foods I’d never eat? Top five books of all time? (Don’t make me choose!) YOU get to decide. Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or send me an email or text.

So, in honor of the last 10 months, here’s a little collection of five things I’ve learned from USU students this year.

5. It’s only as cold as you think

My building on campus is right next to the field house, where the student gym is, and every morning I’m bundled up as much as possible while students are pouring in and out in gym shorts and tank-tops. I’m trying to adopt their serious mind game, but it’s not working yet. Gloves, please, for me.

4. Front-page-worthy news is a matter of opinion

Enough said.

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3. Agricultural schools have the best ice cream

I’m excited it’s getting warm enough for me to indulge my Aggie Ice Cream habit. Wallis, hurry back. Our patch of grass is waiting for us. That, and the Bull Tracks or Aggie Blue Mint. Or both:

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2. Seize the Day

This year got off to a tragic start after Joe lost one of his students in a freak accident on campus. Losing Eric left many of the band students devastated, as well as us, but they showed incredible perseverance through their pain and grief, honoring him in every way throughout the season. He will always be missed, but we all remember him by his motto: Work Hard, Play Harder, Smile Hardest. A good reminder for us all.

Eric Anderson

1. Be as nice as you possibly can. Always.

I’ve lived a lot of places and I’ve never EVER encountered people and students as nice as the ones in Utah. I’m sure it’s a Mormon thing on some level, but I find myself much happier here. Life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, for anyone, but I can honestly say that I have way less negativity in my life since moving here. It’s like my outlook shifted. The other day, I was sitting outside the student union reading and a girl from catering dropped a huge box of silverware. No less than 15 people stopped and ran over to help her. One was even on crutches! I couldn’t believe it. That kind of attitude changes everything. People can knock Utah all they want, but it really is a fabulous place to live.

And now it’s time for S-U-M-M-E-R. It’s supposed to be in the high 70s tomorrow. AH! I can’t wait. Another trip to the dog park is in order.