Monday, January 13, 2020

Reading Lately

It took me three months to read the first three books in this post and three days to read the fourth book.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
I picked this book up from the "take a book, leave a book" shelves at work. In Chapter 1, Alice is newly-married, fabulously in love with her husband and expecting her first baby. In Chapter 2, Alice awakens on the floor of the gym, having fallen off the bike in spin class. She is ten years older, has three children and is in the process of a nasty divorce.  Alice spends the next several months acclimating and trying to remember this new life. In her mind, it is ten years ago. 

In Chapter 1, they nickname the little baby-to-be the Sultana. The setting is Australia, so I had no idea what a Sultana was until I was watching "The Great British Baking Show" and found out a Sultana is a type of raisin. Who knew! With interesting subplots about Alice's family, this is a light fun read. 

Free book from the shelves at work. It fell apart after I read it!
The House of Eyes by Kate Ellis
Another book I picked up at work. This is one in a series of Wesley Peterson detective novels. Eyecliffe Castle and the surrounding town of Devon are the setting. At first Wesley is not too concerned when Leanne Hatman is reported missing by her father Darren.  Then Darren turns up dead at the site of a barn he is renovating on Castle property. 

The book goes back and forth between the present and an 1800's diary written by a member of the D'Arles family that used to live in the castle. Nefarious happenings were going on back then as well. There are also various archeological digs going on, and then it turns out two girls went missing in the 1960's.

Aside from having to keep track of three time periods, and way too many murders to be believable, this was still a quick read.  It all comes together, again, not too believably, in the end.

Kindred by Octavia Butler
I checked this out of the library upon reading about it on Modern Mrs It was one of her top reads of 2019, but it was written in 1979. I was intrigued because there is time travel in this book, and I love me some good time travel!

Dana is a young black woman living in California who somehow is repeatedly transported back to a pre-Civil War plantation in Maryland. Each time she has to save slave-owning Rufus's life, and ensure that he ends up with Alice, a slave, because they are Dana's ancestors. On one trip, Dana's husband Kevin, who is white, is transported back with her.

This book is basically a slavery narrative from a 20th century point of view - what Dana has to endure to survive and to return to her own time. I liked that it was a Jeopardy question one night when I was reading it.😉

The River by Peter Heller
As noted above, I read this book in three days. This is the story of two college friends, Jack and Wynn, on a wilderness canoe trip in Canada. They are very experienced outdoorsmen, but chose to forego bringing a satellite phone. Ugh, if only they had that phone.
While canoeing through dense fog, the boys hear a couple arguing on an island. When they smell the smoke of an encroaching forest fire, they decide to turn back and warn the couple. At that point, almost everything that could possibly go wrong, does.

The descriptions of the landscapes are vivid - made me want to be outdoors (but not in a situation like this). It is not a happy book, but it is a gripping page turner.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 6, 2020

2019 Amazon purchases

Personal finance blogger Joe at Retire By 40  recently posted a list / review of all his Amazon purchases for 2019. I thought it would be fun to do the same thing here.

I broke my Amazon purchases into categories:

Christmas Presents
1. Men's Compression Socks 2 pairs at $11.99 each
These were Christmas presents for my two sons.  Each of my three children got one big gift also known as the "anchor gift" and three small gifts. Socks are small gifts. I know they liked them because Son 1 requested them and Son 2 kept them. That is why I had to buy a second pair the day after Christmas.

2. Herschel Travel Bag $29.99
This was a Christmas present for my husband.  Usually we give each other "ideas", but I came up with this one myself. His old toiletry travel bag was decades old and had seen better days. Husband liked it.

3. Creatine Pills $27.83
Another small present for one of my sons.

4. Adjustable Height Standing Desk $119.99
Anchor present for my older son.  He will use this when he works from home.

1. Driftaway Julia Floral Lined Valances 2 valances at $17.99 each
We are redoing our living room. These look fresh and bright compared to the old 1990's brocade valances we had before. I am going to do a whole post on the living room remodel once it's done.

New valance - photo courtesy of Amazon website
1. Vince Camuto Black Ponte Leggings $49.00
I used Swagbucks to buy these so they were actually free. Yes, I am still doing Swagbucks! And these leggings are great.

2. Mizuno Wave Rider 22 Running Shoes $119.95 Returned
I wrote about my search for running shoes in this blog post . This was one unsuccessful attempt. They were terrible and the only Amazon item that I returned.

1. Kind Bars $12.72
I bought these when I was figuring out how to redeem Swagbucks

2. Lara Bars $15.29
More testing out how to redeem Swagbucks

3. Ubr Breakfast Rounds 2 boxes at $19.99 each
I wrote about these yummy bars in one of my Acadia National Park posts. My husband fell in love with them at the breakfast buffet. I actually used a $25 gift card from Christmas 2018 towards this purchase.

Well that sums up my Amazon spending for 2019. I don't have Amazon Prime, but did take advantage of a 30-day free trial for Amazon prime / free shipping.  I did spend $2.15 for one week of Amazon Prime at Christmas. Excluding my returns, Swagbucks, and gift cards I spent around $255 on Amazon last year.

Do you spend a lot on Amazon?  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

New Year Update

Happy New Year.  This is going to be a quick post about how we spent our New Year's Day. My husband and I started off 2020 with a race. I ran the Bill Hogan 3.5 mile which is held in conjunction with the Hangover Half.  My husband did his own thing and ran about a 10K.  I finished in 45:38 which is about a minute slower than I did this race last year.

Afterwards, we hurried home to shower and get ourselves over to the Troy Music Hall. Our friends had tickets to the Berkshire Bach (orchestra) playing all six of Bach's Brandenburg Concerti.  We were in the sixth row and it was amazing. I am not a philistine! 😉 Of course not! That is a reference to one of my favorite movies "The Squid and the Whale" which I watched on Netflix over the weekend for the umpteenth time.

I watched a lot of Netflix over the past weekend, while recovering from a cold. The rewatch of "The Squid and the Whale" was prompted from viewing "Marriage Story", also by Noah Baumbach and also about divorce.  In addition, I watched "Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things" (so true) and "The Magic Pill", which touts the benefit of a ketogenic diet.

My husband and I have also started watching "Schitt's Creek" which is a Canadian sitcom by Eugene Levy and Dan Levy. It is about a wealthy couple who find themselves broke and end up in the small town they own with their two spoiled adult kids. 

It was a great way to kick off the new decade!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Last Run Recap

On Saturday we ran the Last Run Holiday Lights Through the Park 5K.  That was my 13th and final race of 2019.  For some reason I was dreading it ahead of time, you know that negative thinking "Why am I doing this? It's going to be cold! I don't want to run!"

In retrospect, that is probably because it is the only race of the year that starts at 5:00 p.m. in the evening.  Normally, we are out the door early in the morning, coffee in hand, with no time to think about NOT going.

However, when I was standing watching the pre-race fireworks, bopping to the music on the speakers and feeling toasty warm from all the holiday-bedecked runners packed in around me, I was really glad I was there.
Photo courtesy of Albany Events/Andrzej Pilarczyk
I found some hand warmers at home and I used those to keep my hands toasty with my little red gloves. The red ones matched my holiday attire which is part of the fun.

The first mile was incredibly slow as the roads were narrower than usual due to the big snowstorm we had five days earlier. That created somewhat of a logjam for those of us in the back.  Once we got past that, it was free and clear going. The holiday lights were fun too look at.

Photo courtesy of Albany Events/Andrzej Pilarczyk
All in all, my time was 40:17 (12:58 pace). I came in number 1,120 out of 1,513 total runners.

A lot of our running friends were there which made it even better.  We went out afterwards; our friend wanted to use up two $25 gift certificates that he had won in a raffle a few weeks earlier.  We had no idea what the place would be like. Fortunately, it was a little pizza joint so we looked perfectly appropriate in our crazy holiday running getups. It was less than $25 for four of us, so our friend will have to go back!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Turkey Trot Recap

On Thanksgiving morning, my husband and I ran in the Cohoes Turkey Trot.  There was easily a turkey trot to choose from within 20 miles in any given direction.  We chose Cohoes because it was free with a canned good donation. It is nice when you can get the occasional free race, and it helps stock their food pantry.

The Turkey trot in my own town cost $30 per person plus a processing fee and is not even chip timed.  Seriously, why pay that much and not even get a time?

It was ironic that there were only two port-a-potties for about 500 runners! Fortunately, I got in line with time to spare. There was a lady in the back telling people to hurry up. I think everyone got to “go” by start time.

They had water bottles instead of cups at the water station.  More poor planning because who wants to run a race holding a water bottle? And then no water bottles at the finish. They did have coffee, which worked for me, however most runners want water.

They say you get what you pay for.  Or should I say you don't get port-a-potties and water bottles at the finish when you don't pay!

This was a 3.5 mile race and I finished in 43:59 (12:34 pace).  I was number 353 out of 489 runners. The day was blustery but fortunately the air temperature was warm, so you were good with a warm hat. I had new earbuds so I had my music as well.

This was my 12th race of the year.  I met my 2019 race goal of running in 12 races, and I still have one more race coming up.

Since I don't have any amazing race pictures, here is a picture of the salad I made on Thanksgiving.  It is a blue cheese and pear salad; the recipe came from Food My only tweak was adding the craisins. Yummy.
Dressing was added later
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

I Get The News I Need On The Weather Report

That song came on my iPod when I was running one day last week. That song is in one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies.  If you don't get the reference, google “Garden State” - Infinite Abyss. And yes, right then, I did feel like the only living girl in New York.

In addition to my family and friends, the main thing I am thankful for on this day before Thanksgiving is the feeling of being able to run outside in the sunshine.  That sums it all up for me - good health, the outdoors, the glorious sun on your face.  As Dr. Cohen says in another scene from Garden State: "Yeah, you're alright. You're alive!"

This time of year, I really do get the news I need on the weather report. If it is sunny you will find me running outdoors, walking the dog, and occasionally helping my husband with the endless leaf blowing and raking.
My husband, daughter and Summer on the rail trail on a perfect November afternoon
My older son got me a groupon for a dip in a sensory deprivation tank as a birthday present last month. I scheduled it for the day after Stockade-athon to rejuvenate any sore muscles.

That was a new experience for me. You get naked, shower, put in earplugs, and climb into 11 inches of salt and hydrogen peroxide-infused water. The salt concentration keeps you afloat, just like in the Dead Sea. You switch off the light and just float for one hour. It was relaxing and maybe I would do it again. I definitely wondered about the cleanliness of soaking in water that others soaked in. As it turns out, nothing (bacteria!) can survive in that mixture. Plus, it’s been well over two weeks and I didn’t catch anything.
Yes, I went into that abyss 
Speaking of Stockade-athon I was in the newspaper. Yes, that's me in the pink.  Bethany from my running club is to my left in purple.
Photo courtesy of Schenectady Gazette
Thanks for reading! Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Stockade-athon 2019

On Sunday I ran the Stockade-athon which is a 15K run. Yes, that is 9.3 miles. Or three consecutive 5K's is another way of looking at it. It is my longest run of the year and this was my second year running it. 

The day was overcast, but definitely felt warmer than last year, probably due to it not being windy. Plus, you can stay indoors at Proctors Theater or the YMCA until the race starts which is very nice.
Despite the sign behind us, we were not actually frozen
Running 9.3 miles does push me to my limits, but in a good way. I was totally prepared for this race, having followed Hal Higdon's 15K training plan for a solid three months.

The first two miles went by quickly as I was trying to finagle with my iPod.  It turns out the wire to the earbuds had broken so the one negative was that I had no music for this run.

At the start - colorful runners on a gray day
The middle miles are just a matter of one step in front of the other. My legs were just on autopilot and I felt happy to see each mile marker. The last third goes through beautiful Central Park which is very pretty and scenic. It was an overall good run.

Here is a screenshot of my time.  I came in 1347 out of 1409 runners. Hey, I am only in competition with myself. And guess what? I beat last year's time by over 1 minute so I have a new PR in the 15K.  

Thanks for reading!