2013 in Review

30 12 2013

One of my favorite things about blogging is that it’s like a virtual scrapbook. I can share stories and pictures from throughout the year and then look back on them and smile. I don’t look back often enough, because as I was preparing this post, I found myself saying “OH yeah, I forgot about that!”

Here’s a few of my favorites- I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them!

For my 30th birthday, I went FlyBoarding!

fly boarding(And um, I’m 30. WHAT!?)

I rode a motorcycle for the first time.


A weekend in the mountains with my favorite people was exactly what I needed in March.


I made some mouth-watering, decadent pancakes, if I do say so myself. (exhibit A, B, C)


I embraced the outdoors and went camping for the first time, followed by some Florida hiking, all in preparation for my big trip to ALASKA!!


My Alaska trip was BY FAR the highlight of my year. It was an absolutely incredible experience that I will never forget. You can relive the experience by reading my posts (Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) (<–Clearly, I didn’t want to miss a single detail!)


I wanted to know what it was like to work in the food service industry, so I took on a part time job (in addition to my full time job) for a short time. Unfortunately, I couldn’t balance the two, so it didn’t last long. However, it was a great learning experience!


And, last, but certainly not least- my biggest triathlon accomplishment to date: I competed in my first Half Ironman.


Call me crazy, but I really enjoyed pushing myself through 70.3 miles- using my own two feet, pumping heart and burning lungs. I can definitely tell you there’s another 70.3 happening in 2014.

I had an absolutely awesome year, with fantastic friends and family to support me along the way. Thank you, my wonderful readers for joining me on my journey! Here’s to a 2014 that’s just as great (if not better) than 2013!



Cindy Lou Who Costume

23 12 2013

I’ll be perfectly honest here- I really don’t like getting all dressed up in costumes. Perhaps it was all the years I spent in drama club, or perhaps it is my disdain for all Halloween costumes being “Slutty fill in the blank” and completely acceptable.

However, over the weekend the XP gang had a Christmas party. A themed Christmas party. A dress-up like your favorite Christmas movie character themed party. I loved the idea, but I wasn’t super pumped to put effort into creating a costume. I didn’t really put much thought into who I would be until a few days before when I randomly decided to be Cindy Lou Who.

When I first thought about Cindy Lou Who, the image that came to my mind was from the cartoon- the original, which I still think is way better than the Jim Carrey version.

Cindy Lou Who

But then my friends started talking about doing up my hair and I remembered the real-life version of Cindy Lou Who:

MV5BMTMxMzY3ODg4Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwOTE5MDA3._V1_SX640_SY720_Hm. I could do something like that.

I didn’t really start putting thought into it until Thursday (the party was on Friday), when I started googling “Cindy Lou Who Costumes” and “Cindy Lou Who Hair”.  Who knew there were so many “How To” videos and pages out there!? I spotted one site where a mom used an empty water bottle, and I watched a video where a girl teased her hair A LOT.  I had ideas swirling in my head, but really didn’t have a plan in place when I left my house late Friday afternoon to go to a thrift store, fabric store, and Lowe’s, in hope that something would come together in the two hours I had before the party started.

At the thrift store, I saw a pink nightgown that might have worked for the original Cindy Lou Who, but kept to my plan of the real-life character. I grabbed a red fleece blanket (actually, a Delta airline blanket) for $0.95 and figured that would work for a cape. Then I went to Lowe’s and grabbed some wire for my hair. Finally, at Hancock Fabric I bought (way too much) fuzzy white fabric and some styrofoam balls.

When I got home, I wrapped the blanket around me and crossed my fingers that it would work as a cape, and wouldn’t be too bulky. Surprisingly, it was perfect! I just had to trim a little off the bottom. Then, I cut a strip of the white fuzzy material and hot glued it to the bottom edge. Voila! A Christmassy cape!

I threw on a black dress I owned and my striped socks I bought for last year’s Christmas run.

IMG_4895Then, it was hair time. I started with a pony tail on top. I knew I wanted to put the styrofoam ball in the pony to add structure, and I was a little worried that with my shorter, fine hair it wouldn’t work, but it actually worked!


This was a good start, but it wasn’t quite right yet. I wanted to go higher, but how would I get there? Another styrofoam ball was too big for the remaining hair. Then, I got a bright idea.

IMG_0311My cats have plastic toy balls with bells inside that they play with all of the time. They were the perfect size for the amount of hair I had left. So, I covered it with hair and then secured it on top with a hair tie. Unfortunately, the top ball kept flopping over, so I grabbed a piece of wire and stuck it through the openings in the ball and into the styrofoam. The added jingle whenever I moved my head made the ‘do. Perfection!

I added some pigtails, a few bows, a butt load of hair spray, sparkly makeup, and I was good to go!


I didn’t get a great picture of the whole ensemble, but here’s the best I have:

IMG_0300Once I started putting together the costume, I really got into it! I was actually quite fun! It was even more fun to see what my friends had come up with:

IMG_0273Cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation and a Christmas present!

IMG_0305Frosty the Snowman!

And my favorite, the Starbucks Red Cup!


The costumes weren’t the best part of the night though. We surprised Mary and Marcus with an awesome gift for Baby Baum.


What a fun night! It was a fantastic way to spend a Friday night with my favorite people!

(And for some more fun pics, check out Meghann’s blog!)


I Didn’t Realize Putting Up a Christmas Tree Could Be So Difficult!

17 12 2013

Hi, I’m Stephanie, and I used to blog much more regularly than I currently am. Sorry about that friends, but thanks for sticking with me!

It’s been pretty busy around here, and now that it’s the off season I don’t really have much working out to tell you about! Don’t worry, that will change soon! I did get my first longish ride in awhile in this weekend with the XP gang. We went nearly 30 miles and realized a) that we are really out of shape b) riding into the wind and with crosswinds is pretty tough and c) riding home with a tailwind is awesome!

IMG_0175(the watch is in kilometers in case you were wondering)

It was nice to be back in sunny Florida after spending a week in the Midwest. Yup, I was just up in Chicago and Madison for work and I certainly got my fill of cold weather.


Brr! The one thing that was (dare I say) nice about the trip’s weather is that it included snow!! What better way to get into the Christmas spirit than to look outside and see beautiful white flakes falling from the sky? Especially when you haven’t been in snow in awhile!

On the Sunday I was in Chicago, I went to brunch with my friend Leah at Au Cheval. I wasn’t super hungry, so I shared the order of  fries with mornay sauce, garlic aioli and fried farm egg, and then got their house made granola with yogurt and fruit. Normally, I think its lame to order something that boring for brunch, but this was quite good.

AuChevalAs we were wrapping up brunch, it started to snow! Leah and I had already been talking about going to Home Depot to get a Christmas tree, and the added snow made it the perfect day to decorate. On our walk back to her place, we noticed that a restaurant had a bunch of fresh trees lined up outside their door. They were selling local Michigan trees for a fairly reasonable price. We didn’t have much further to walk and buying now meant we didn’t have to get in the car and drive to Home Depot, so we decided to go for it. We found a perfect tree and walked it through the streets of Chicago in the snow.

IMG_0098I couldn’t help but laugh and sing a little carol in my head. This was so fun!

We made it back to the apartment and started to put it into the tree stand. Leah kept talking about how the Home Depot guy always chops the end of the trunk and drills it so that it fits into the tree stand correctly. I knew it was best to cut the trunk (kinda like cutting the stems of flowers) but I don’t ever remember them drilling into the trunk. Maybe I just had too small of a tree or never paid attention? Anyhow, since we purchased it from the hostess at the restaurant, we didn’t exactly get a freshly chopped trunk, but the tree had only been cut down three days before according to the tag.


We first tried to put the tree into the stand without doing any drilling. We also didn’t have the nuts at the end of all of the screws, but figured we’d give it a try. The tree was in the stand, but it definitely couldn’t stand on its own. So, we took it out, borrowed some nuts from another tree stand Leah had, and then tried to drill into the bottom of the tree.


One would think this would be pretty easy to do. I don’t know why, but we just could not make any progress. We tried all kinds of different bits, using different amounts of pressure, different angles and NOTHING could get further than about an eighth of an inch in. We probably worked on this for over an hour, until we were sweating, frustrated, covered in sap, and barely hanging on to the Christmas spirit. The thought of some egg nog or hot cider was the only thing keeping us going.

Finally, we threw in the towel and decided to just try and put it on the stand with the small amount of progress we made. We lined up the small holes as best we could and after a few tries, we got close enough to start turning the screws.  Before we really secured it with the screws, we had the brilliant idea to hammer the stand to the tree, just to make sure it was in there snugly. Leah whacked it a few times with the hammer until the stand stayed on the tree all by itself. Snugly in the stand, we tightened the screws all the way, and then stood it up. Success!

IMG_0116That’s Lucille, Leah’s adorable husky!

We did the next thing that anyone would do- we watered it.

When we went to move the tree a little and put on the tree skirt, we felt the ground around the stand. It was wet. Really Wet. Um, I think we may have cracked it when we busted out the hammer. Awesome.

So, we dumped the water on her deck (so thankful she had a deck, otherwise that would have been SUCH a mess!) and thought about how to repair it.

No, it did not cross our mind to use the other tree stand Leah had (It was supposed to be a gift for someone. And yes we did “borrow” some of the nuts from it, but we thought we would replace them!). Instead, we went to the store to see what supplies we could get to repair it.


Our grand plan included super glue, duct tape, ear plugs and saran wrap.

We were able to isolate where the cracks were and went about gluing and plugging the holes with the ear plugs. We covered it with Saran Wrap and then duck taped it all together. We crossed our fingers, tipped the stand up, and then refilled it.


And you know what? It worked! We were so relieved! Leah proceeded to decorate the tree while I sat and watched 😉

We decided that it probably would have been easier and cost about the same to have gone to the Home Depot in the first place. But then we wouldn’t have a funny story to go with it! What a way to end the weekend!

And, just because I want to, here’s another picture of Leah’s adorable dog!


Question of the day: Do you have a funny tree decorating story?