Finally, Useful Snow!

Upon moving back to DC a few years ago, I came up with a new way to describe snow. I’d love to say that it’s something lovely and heart-warming, like poetically describing the difference between light, fluffy snow and dense, heavy snow that creates amazing snow forts/people/balls.

But it’s not. Rather, I’ve come to classify snow as being either useful or useless.

And there is but one simple criterion for this: whether or not the snow causes a delay or cancellation of work. Useful snow enables sleeping in and lollygagging around the apartment, whereas useless snow is dead to me. I don’t even want to look at you, useless snow.

Now, I know this makes no sense, but allow me to explain: I’m from Colorado, where the snow is a source of fantastic outdoor, mountainous recreation — and where the extreme cold never lasts for long. Snowstorms and ski days interspersed between multi-day stretches of sunny 50 degree weather is a fantastic way to do winter. If you’re going to live in a place where it snows, this is the way to do things.

In DC, though, it’s flat. And miserably cold. So, if it’s going to snow, I want it to be enough to call off (or, at a minimum, delay) work. Instead, this winter has been a combination of my all-time least favorite weather patterns: bitter cold, powerful winds, and a total lack of useful snow. This means that we all venture out into the bone-chilling cold of the early morning commute, walking diagonally into the window-rattling wind, so we’re able to get to work on time; around 10:30 some start to contemplate a Starbucks run but quickly abandon the idea, because even non-cafeteria coffee isn’t enough to lure them into the elements for the 4-minute walk to Starbies; and then, in the evening, trudge home in the same cold and wind that cut you to the bone. Our struggle is real, you guys.

Milton cold

But! I started having hope last week when local meteorologists began talking about a possible Presidents’ Day snowstorm. I held my breath (metaphorically, obviously) and crossed my fingers: could it be legit? Might we wind up with a four-day weekend? To quote Talladega Nights, please, sweet 6 lb. 8 oz. newborn baby Jesus, let us get a snow day.

And lo, my prayers were answered! The snow started yesterday afternoon, and it started sticking right away. It was forecast to continue throughout the night, and as Brandon and I ate dinner last night, my phone was buzzing with notices about all the local school districts being closed today. I was obsessively looking at my phone, waiting for The Big One (aka: the federal government’s operating status) when finally it arrived: CLOSED ON TUESDAY! Happy dance!

So, I’m happy to say that I’ve spent my morning drinking tea while reading InStyle, and I’m about to hit up the gym for a long workout. Thank you, useful snow, for this glorious extra day off!

Updates Galore

Since it’s been a while (cue Aaliyah! “It’s been a long time/we shouldn’t have left you/without a dope beat to step to”), I figure I owe y’all a an update on the various goings-on over the last few months.

In my last post before my long hiatus, I was waxing poetic about how much I miss Colorado. Thankfully, Brandon and I were able to head out there a desperately needed two-week vacay in February, which was awesome. What wasn’t awesome was the weather, which was predicted to be in the 40’s and 50’s and gorgeous, only to be revised (on the day we arrived, no less) as highs of 3 and wind chills of -20.  So, while we didn’t get to hike much, we did get to watch a lot of movies — and we got to see some of my favorite people, which made me sublimely happy. I did get one very brief hike in, juuuuuust as the weather improved before we flew back to DC — and of course, I had to take pictures for posterity. This is from one of my favorite local trails:

 

Bear Creek Trail

Oh, and the Broncos lost the Super Bowl. Guys, I knew it was doomed from the moment I saw that first fumbled snap. I’m not a big drinker under normal circumstances, but I made a considerable dent in my dad’s GF beer supply during the course of that game. As soon as the snap was fumbled, my dad and I exchanged one of those “oh, sh*t” glances and helped ourselves to a few adult beverages. (In case anyone is wondering, Colorado has some awesome GF beer.) To illustrate how much I love my Broncos, on the Friday before game day, I wore this shirt to work:

 

Broncos Country
I think this solidifies my candidacy for upper management, does it not?

 

While Seattle obviously played a great game and Seahawks fans have every right to be thrilled about the outcome of that particular massacre, I’m not going to want to talk to any Seattle fans about that game for a very, very long time. In fact, probably not ever. As the game concluded, I put up a PSA on Facebook to let everyone know that if any Seattle fans talk any trash to me, ever, about this game, I will summarily de-friend them. Because my devotion to the Broncos obviously comes before human relationships. I’m nothing if not logical, folks. (As an example of my irrational sports fanaticism, I still loathe the University of Michigan after they beat my beloved Colorado College hockey team, in double overtime, for the NCAA national championship…in 1995. Now I rabidly root for them to lose in all sports, all the time. But I don’t carry grudges, I swear!)

Once we got back to DC, we were met with equally frigid and snowy weather as what we’d experienced in Colorado. The good part of this was that we had a bunch of snow days off from work – yay! – but the bad news was that once we did return to the office, my bus stop looked like this:

 

Bus Stop with Snow
To give you a sense of scale here, the ice was up to my knees. It was fun times.

 

I mean, who doesn’t like a treacherous, icy schlep to work in the mornings?! They’re beloved by everyone, obviously. Thankfully, winter fiiiinnnaaaalllly seems to be releasing its vise-grip on DC, since today is supposed to be gorgeous and warm. Despite the incoming pollen-bomb, my inhaler and I are totally going to take advantage of the sunshine by going for a run outside this afternoon. I may be a wheezy, sneezing mess by the time I get back, but I think it’ll probably be worth it. (Albuterol, don’t fail me now.)

Lastly, and most exciting, two weeks ago I had a re-biopsy to see where things stand with my endometrial cancer treatment, and the results look good! Things aren’t totally back to normal, since the cells have regressed into a pre-cancerous stage — but this means that a) the cancer itself is gone, and b) the meds are working. HAPPY DANCE!

 

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Colbert + Kermie = best happy dance ever

 

The state they’re in right now is basically a half-way point: when endometrial cancer develops, cells go from being normal to pre-cancerous to cancerous — so in treating it, the meds are supposed to make it go in the opposite direction. Since the meds are doing exactly that, my doctors are really encouraged that a bit more time will hopefully knock this out for good. I’ll remain on the progesterone treatment for another six months before we re-biopsy, and hopefully by then things will have returned to normal. My fingers are crossed — but, should you feel compelled, please feel free to light a candle/say a prayer/sacrifice a goat to add some oomph to my cause.

So, that’s a recap of the most notable goings-on during my blogging hiatus. I hope all you lovely people have been doing well!

Snow and WIAW

Happy Wednesday, friends!

This week has been fairly glorious so far: we had a snow delay on Monday, and then got all of Tuesday off due to a snowstorm that was forecasted to totally paralyze the DC area. (Of course, the reality was that it snowed but didn’t stick — but the call to shut things down had already been made, so we got a full day off. I know I should be all up in arms about lost taxpayer money and whatnot, but…nope. I’m not even a teeny bit outraged. #SorryI’mNotSorry.)

Today is supposed to be sunny but cold — so, IMHO, it’s the perfect weather for an afternoon run around DC during my “lunch” break. (On days like that, I eat lunch at my desk and then take the mandatory 45 minute break to go run outside. It’s fabulous, and it makes the day go a bajillion times faster.)

I love how relatively empty all the monuments are during the winter, so the running conditions are amazeballs. During the summer, hot as hell and crowded as all get-out, so I wind up having to dodge packs of sweaty middle-school students and tourist groups who walk painfully slowly. As you can imagine, it gets old fast. In the winter, though, it’s a) not 80 million degrees out with 2000% humidity, and b) noticeably lacking in tourists. There are a few here and there, but most of the people are other runners. It’s blissful.

 

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Aaaaaanyways, with that out of the way, it’s  time for What I Ate Wednesday, hosted by the lovely Jenn from Peas & Crayons! Jenn is both hilarious and a fantastic source of foodie inspiration, so I highly recommend checking out her blog.

Peas and Crayons

Per the usual lately, I’ve been a slacker in terms of taking pictures of my food — there’s so much going on in the evenings that I often totally forget to pause for some photography. Blogger fail! Sooo, these descriptions will be short and sweet.

Breakfasts and snacks: If I hit the gym in the morning, I usually crave a green smoothie afterwards (something cold and packed with spinach sounds delicious after a hard workout — which my husband, parents, and pretty much all my nearest and dearest have taken as proof of my abject insanity). However, if I run in the afternoon instead, I tend to want oatmeal (and lots of it — I love the stuff). Lately I’ve been really diggin’ GF oatmeal with hemp seeds, blackstrap molasses, and almond milk; it’s deliciously Christmas-y, and it’s packed with iron. Win.

As for snacks, I usually default to fruit, or bell peppers (look, they’re so seasonally colorful!) with hummus. Oh, and as I might’ve mentioned last week, pickles with hummus. Confession: while normal people stocked up on bread, milk, etc. before the predicted snowstorm, I stocked up on pickles and hummus. I’m not even kidding. I walked out of the store with a party-sized (read: Lillian-sized) tub of hummus and four jars of pickles. The cashier at Whole Foods probably thought I’d taken leave of my senses, but whatever — I can’t be left with a dwindling supply of my favorite snack!

 

WIAW 12-4-134

Lunches: I have exactly zero pictures of my lunches, y’all. I can tell you, though, that I’ve been chowing down on soup: either Curried Pumpkin from Whole Foods (with added lentils for protein) or Dr. McDougall’s Black Bean and Rice (with added spinach for veggie power).

Dinners: We’ve had a wide range of foodstuffs for dinner lately, including spinach-feta turkey burgers, turkey-veggie chili, and Thai lemongrass stir-fry with brown rice, chicken, and veggies galore.

 

WIAW 12-4-133

…And that’s all, folks! Hope your Wednesdays are all off to a good start!

What’s your favorite thing to have for breakfast?

Do you have a favorite (or least favorite) meal of the day?

Do you mix things up with your dinner menu, or are you pretty consistent?

All Mondays Should Involve a Two-Hour Delay {MIMM}

It finally snowed here! Well, ok, it snowed for a couple of hours (we picked up a whopping .5″, which is better than nothing) before transitioning to freezing rain.

I’d normally complain about freezing rain, because I feel like it’s the worst possible combination of weather patterns (if it’s going to be frickin’ freezing and there’s going to be precipitation, I want snow) but today it has brought us the next best thing to a snow day: a two-hour delay. I woke up at my normal time to see this beaut on the website of the office that makes the call on weather-related closures/delays:

Snow & Dismissal Procedures Current Status

Washington, DC, Area

Applies to: December 9, 2013

Status: Open – 2 hours Delayed Arrival – With Option for Unscheduled Leave or Unscheduled Telework

Huzzah! Mondays should always start with a delay, in my opinion. I’m adding it to the list of policies I’ll implement once I’m a benevolent overlord. It’ll be part of the “ease back into the workweek” plan I’d mentioned last week. All in favor, say “Aye”!

I particularly needed this delay after a busy weekend — a weekend that involved my plan to Christmas-ify the apartment. Operation: Holiday Spirit was a success, y’all.

I really wanted to get a tree, but our space for it is pretty darn small. I thought we’d have to go hunting far and wide for a small-ish tree that would fit in our apartment, but lo and behold, as we were en route to lunch on Saturday we drove right past a place that had a veritable cornucopia of small trees. Win! We picked one up yesterday, took him home, and dressed him up. I’ve named him Melvin.

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The folks at the tree stand also let me take some cast-off greens that had been cut away from other trees, so I also got my decorating on around the living room.

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And, for one of my favorite pictures, I’d like to introduce you to Wine Bottle Burqa. She was a wedding gift from a friend who’d been deployed to Afghanistan before our wedding, and she is exactly what her name implies: the exact same type of burqa approved by the Taliban, but designed to fit nicely over the necks of wine bottles. I’ve thought about doing a series of Wine Bottle Burqa still life shots throughout the year, which would depict her doing things like enjoying the springtime amidst the flowers. This is the first installment in that series: Wine Bottle Burqa gets in the holiday spirit.

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On a separate note, I slept like crap last night and am trying to gear myself up for a trip to the gym. I know I need to get ‘er done this morning, because shoddy sleep means I’ll be too wiped out this afternoon to drag myself to the gym. Oy. I clearly needed this weather delay.

And, as always, thanks to Katie for hosting MIMM — here’s to getting through Monday!

MiMM

Here Comes the Sun

Good morning, y’all!

Yesterday’s storms wound up being a total bust, which was good in terms of not getting snatched up by a sneaky Hamburgler-like tornado (see yesterday’s post to understand what I’m referencing with that — it’s weird, I know!), but still kind of disappointing, because I was hoping to see some hardcore thunderstorms. Alas, we had 15 minutes of wind and torrential rain, and in my neck of the woods, none of the storms lived up to their hype. I’m pretty sure this should be the official motto for DC weather, especially after this winter’s epic snowstorm that never happened:

 

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Speaking of all things meteorological, though, here’s a random fact: did you know that today is the earliest sunrise of the year? (I had no idea, but I read it today as part of the weather report. Whoda thunk it?)

One of the many reasons why I love the month of June is the fact that there’s just so much sunlight. I’ve always been a sunshine junkie — I don’t lie out and tan, but I love going outside and getting a bit of photosynthesis. (I realize that I’m not a plant, but hey, a girl’s gotta get her Vitamin D. That windowless office of mine is almost certainly going to give me Rickets.)

Anyways, I’d originally planned to do a big ol’ nerdy, quasi-scientific post about The Autoimmune Epidemic by Susan Nakazawa, but things have been really hectic this week — which means I didn’t have time to sit down and write what will be a more time-intensive post.

With that in mind, instead I’m going to do one in a similar vein as yesterday’s post. It’s random, it has virtually no substance whatsoever, and…that seems about right for a Friday. 🙂 (Does anybody else feel like their brain is fried?)  So without further ado, here’s a series of random reasons why I looooooooove the sunshine:

 

  • One of the many things I love about this time of year is the fact that it’s light out when I wake up. The fact that it’s not pitch black out when my alarm goes off makes it approximately eleventy thousand times easier to crawl out of bed. In the depths of winter, it looks like this:

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But during the summer, when it’s getting light out before six, it looks more like this:

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  • When it’s sunny out, it automatically puts me in a substantially better mood than when it’s all gloomy and gray. When it’s rainy and gray, I’m all:

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But when it’s sunny and warm out, I’m all:

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  • Growing up in Colorado means that I was raised on a steady diet of sunshine; Colorado gets over 300 days of sunlight per year, and we never went more than a day or two without sun. The East Coast, by contrast, gets — and this is a hard, scientific number, backed up by loads of empirical data — at least 80 million fewer days of sunshine per year than they do out West. Living here has made me become really hardcore about going outside on the days when it is nice out. I could be sick, incapacitated, or generally on the brink of death, but as soon as the sun appears, I’m ready to run outside.

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Brandon and I have talked about how much we miss the West and how much we’d like to someday move back there. If we ever do, I can guarantee that this is what I’ll do almost every day:

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With all that in mind, I want to know:

What type of weather do you like most?
(I may be a sunshine junkie, but lots of people love rain!)

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

What to Do When Natural Disasters Strike

When I was a little kid, I had an irrational fear of tornadoes. Some of my earliest memories involve an unshakeable fear that a giant twister would creep up in the night (because obviously tornadoes are totes known to be quiet, sneaky things), possibly while looking like the Hamburgler, and suck me out of my bed. I’d be tossed into an oblivion, probably with a lot of airborne cows. (Tornadoes always involve flying bovines, right? RIGHT?) As I got older, that irrational fear morphed into a general wariness of Mother Nature. Imagine me standing next to Mother Nature while doing this:

 

 

Anyways, back to the present day: DC is expected to get a round of hardcore thunderstorms today. It’s not supposed to be like the derecho we experienced around this time last year, but these storms are supposed to be some gnarly beasties that will involve a lot of wind, torrential rain, flooding, hail, and possible tornadoes.

Soooo…given my irrational fear of tornadoes, I figured I’d illustrate my extensive understanding of disaster planning efforts (by which I mean “the stuff I hear people say about disaster planning”) and what I fully expect will be my reaction if, God forbid, we encounter any sort of imminent threat from a tornado. Obviously I am a mature, capable adult who remains calm and focused in the face of meteorological danger.

 

Tip #1: Watch or listen to the local news to keep apprised of the situation.

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Tip #2: Make lists of the things you’ll need if you have to shelter in place.image

 

Tip #3:  Prepare for power outages by ensuring that all your devices are charged, while also stockpiling batteries and flashlights. If the power goes out, grab a flash light and stay cool.

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Tip #4: Most imortantly, it’s critical that you stay calm. Panic is contagious, but so is calm — so, if disaster strikes, lead by example and remain calm, cool, and collected.

 

Obviously, I’m precisely the sort of person you want to have around in the event of a tornado. I’ll be the calm, uber-prepared one, chillin’ in the basement…by which I mean, I’ll basically be doing this:

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What I Ate Wednesday

I have a theory regarding the climate in DC: if I’m going to live somewhere with blazing, oppressively hot summers, I want to at least be granted a pass with mild winters. I’d like to not routinely feel like my face is going to freeze off. I’d like to run outside without getting windburn or feeling like my lungs have just had a close encounter with some dry ice. Take, for example, a place like San Antonio (where Brandon is from):

Image source: http://www.planetware.com

Alternatively, if I’m going to live somewhere with frigid, bitterly cold winters, I at least want it to involve buckets of snow on a semi-regular basis. Take, for example, a place like Colorado (where I’m from):

Image source: http://www.123rf.com

But nooooo, DC has to go and have the worst of both worlds (except for last winter, which was gloriously mild). Blast furnace-esque summers combined with meat-locker-meets-wind-tunnel winters doth not a happy habitat make. This makes me extra, super-duper happy that I can now take the bus instead of having to rely on on Metro (which often lacks climate control) and thus schlep a half mile to and from work.

Memo to the bus: you complete me. (Ok, I also told my other great love, guacamole, that it completes me, but it totally doesn’t have to know that you’re competing for my affection. This can be our little secret.)

Today, of course, is a frigid day — so as you’ll see from this week’s What I Ate Wednesday, hosted by the lovely Jenn from Peas & Crayons, I’m relying heavily on warm, soul-soothing foods to get me through until the next heat wave.

Peas and Crayons

Before hitting the gym, I had my customary coffee, banana (it was gobbled up while the toast was toasting and the coffee was brewing, so it didn’t make the photoshoot), and toast:

DSC00679I took my breakfast to work, which means I wolfed down my GF oatmeal with ground flax seed, blueberries, and almond milk. My beloved snacks were comprised of cantaloupe, celery with hummus, Greek yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, and string cheese.DSC00684

Lunch consisted of lentil soup and an apple…and enough tea to park on a barge.DSC00621

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Dinner, because I was feeling a tad lazy, was rotisserie chicken from Costco (Costco: you also complete me! Shhh, don’t tell the bus or the guacamole) and salad with yogurt-based French dressing. Sometimes I just have to ask somebody else to do the cooking for me, know what I mean?

DSC00550Now that it’s Wednesday, I’m looking forward to the upcoming weekend (of course) — but in the meantime, I hope everyone stays warm and well-fed. Happy WIAW!