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Progress & Success

It has been a busy (and wonderful) few days around here! Friday, I ran four miles (on the dreadmill) and actually really enjoyed it! I’ve decided that 26 will be the age when I embrace running and stop making excuses.

Saturday we joined the moving team known as “Team Awesome” and helped two of our friends empty their old apartment, drive from MD to VA, and unload their stuff into a new apartment — all in four hours. It may have been the most efficient move I’ve ever been a part of. And Sunday was the Louisiana State Society’s annual Crawfish boil. Every year that is a good time and this year was no different. (This year, I opted to be “healthier” and instead of all you can eat jambalaya, sausage, and beer, I brought vodka with soda water and subway. However, the copious amounts of lime tortilla chips and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies were not the best for me…)

In between all this, Hubs and I made our “savings plan” for our trips this summer. We got serious and looked at how much we’d need to enjoy ourselves. The money considerations also convinced us to DRIVE to Atlanta in August (as opposed to flying). We’ll spend $200 in gas, but save almost $200 in dog boarding and close to $600 in airfare. (How are flights SO EXPENSIVE?!) That’s definitely worth a ten hour drive and our parents can spoil their granddog a little more. I’m pleased we sat down to figure this out — it makes me feel like we can responsibly take all the trips we want to by just cutting a few corners. Hooray vacations!

Now the only thing hanging over my head is my book ADD. Now that my Kindle is covered, loaded with books, and ready to go I just wanna use ittttt! *insert whining here* The only problem? I’m still finishing Thursday’s book club book and two library books. Hopefully I can settle down to reading only a book or two at a time once I make the switch to the Kindle.

Ugh, I need to get back to work anyway. But Buddy just gassed me/made my work space inhabitable. (How does something like that come out of my SWEET little dog?!) I’m making my escape. Later y’all!

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Mid Year Resolution Gut Check

I’m a little astounded that we’re halfway through the year already. It feels like Christmas was a few weeks ago — how has the summer gotten here so fast?

I figured it was about time to give myself a little look in the mirror and see how I’m doing with my resolutions.

1) Re-introduce weights.
I could be doing so much better with this. I love lifting. I just need to remind myself of that. This month, I’m re-introducing it in manageable, baby bite sized chunks. Then, next month I’ll add a little more. I want to be toned and feel great come September for the half (more on that in a minute) and our beach trip.

2) Run a half marathon. 
I signed up for this race! Yes, I actually did it! And, to boot, I got my husband and two good friends on board as well. I’m registered, we have a hotel room, I’ve got a training plan, and dammit I am going to do this!

3) Vary my reading.
I’ve been doing pretty good with this little goal. I’m realizing that I’m definitely better at knocking out non-fiction as opposed to classics. That’s a pity because there are so many classics I want to read. I’m hoping that having a Kindle (and free access to a lot of these books) will improve my classics record.  Don’t forget to add me as a friend on Goodreads! I love stealing book ideas from people. 🙂

4) Write letters.
I did pretty well with this for the first few months. Then, I got a few letters back and saved them with the intention of responding. They are still sitting in my cubby of the living room table. Whoops! I’ll work on sending some post cards from my trips this summer!

5) Get student loans under $X.
This is going very well. We are chugging away. I did some calculations yesterday about how much we’ve paid off in the (just under) two years we’ve been paying on the loans. I am astounded by how well we’ve done. Definitely on track here to meet my goal and pay off the loans before this time next year!

6) Cook!
Doing very well here too! Hubs and I have definitely been entertaining a lot. I’ve been picking a lot of our recipes for our meals and am generally starting to feel very at home in the kitchen!

7) Stop wasting time.
I gave up Facebook for Lent and that helped with this for a while. Lately, I’ve found myself killing time again lately. Refreshing facebook, twitter, and news sites. Re-checking blogs that I just looked at. Mindlessly watching TV that Hubs has on. I’m trying to avoid these time sucks but by the time I realize what I’m doing sometimes, I’ve wasted half an hour! Must stop wasting time! 

I’m satisfied with that. Looks like 3 goals could use some improvements and 4 are coming along swimmingly! Thankfully no huge failures on the horizon here! How are you doing on your New Year’s Resolutions?

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I Love June

Why is that? Because June brings my Birthday! It’s today, in fact! 🙂 I love birthdays and 26 is not disappointing!

It’s also a new month (and the halfway mark on the year). So, let’s see how I did in May…
1. Create half marathon training plan.
Check! I’ve been just about on pace with my long runs, but my overall weekly distance is NOT where it should be.
2. Complete six strength training work outs (2/6)
Obviously I, once again, slacked off here. I’m finding it very hard to make time in my workout schedule of runs to strength train, but I know it’s key to a successful race and fitness program. Sigh.
3. Read six books (6/6) 
Check! I’m reading about five simultaneously right now…
4. Of those six, read two classics (1/2) [Mansfield Park] and one non-fiction (2/1) [Bossy Pants, The House on First Street] 
Okay, so I didn’t read two classics and one non-fiction. Instead I read one classic and two non-fictions. I think that counts!
5. Beat my previous 5k time during this month’s 5k.
Going into this race, I was worried about finishing. But, I actually PR’ed! My new 5k best is 34:39. Onward and upward!
6. Eat at 3 new restaurants (3/3) [Lincoln – DC, Captain Billy’s Crab House – Southern MD, Eventide – Arlington]
While I visited three new places, I only had a drink at Eventide. I’m still gonna count it though!
7. Be more consistent with blogging! Post at least 16 times this month. (4/16) 
Toot toot! Here comes the fail boat… I suck at blogging lately. I think this is because my laptop doesn’t recognize the wireless in our apt anymore. I have live writer on that computer too. Our desktop is slowly dying and takes FOREVER to load pages. The combo = very little blogging motivation.

On Deck for June:
1. Get my mileage up! (0/4)
Right now, my training plan has me running 15 miles a week in addition to my long run. I’m definitely not there and I need to work on it! I will be aiming to run 10-15 miles each week.
2. Weight train (at least once a week). (0/4)
This is totally doable. If I don’t want to weight train and run on the same day, all I have to do is get myself into the gym or in front of the TV with my kettle bell ONE TIME a week. Do it, Anna. You will thank yourself.
3. Read three books that are non-fiction or classics. (0/3)
Again, trying to keep my reading varied. Hubs got me a Kindle for my birthday and I’ve downloaded some of the free classics. Hopefully that will help!
4. Get Laptop fixed. Seriously, Anna. 
I just need to take that sucker to best buy or something and get someone to tell me why the computer knows the wireless is there but refuses to connect to the internet.
(While I’m there, I should probably buy an external hard drive to back up our failing desktop…)
5. Make a savings plan for summer fun trips.
Hubs and I are fortunate to be going away for at least a weekend in July, August, and September. Super stoked for that, but since money doesn’t grow on trees we need to figure out how we’re going to pay for all this.
6. Make four new recipes. (0/4)
I cooked up a storm last month and want to keep that going! Being in the kitchen is becoming more and more relaxing for me.

Well, that should keep me busy for a month… especially considering everything else that’s going on!
– My 26th Birthday!!!
– Awesome friends (Dan and Kelly) move into our building
– Crawfish Boil with the Louisiana State Society
– Husband in Boston for a week
– Hosting book club ladies
– 4 Mile Twilight Race (my first four miler ever!)
– Finishing one project at work and simultaneously starting another

Hold on y’all! I have a feeling it’s gonna be a good month!

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Out like a Lamb

March, I’m a little sad to see you go. You were pretty awesome! You brought me my first wedding anniversary, a delightful mountain vacation, several excellent meals/visits with friends, and lots of excitement for the months to come.

March also had goals. Some met with success and some, not so much. Let’s take a look see!
1. Read another five books – Almost! I got 4/5; Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Stones Into Schools by Greg Mortenson, Room by Emma Donohue, and The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman. My favorite out of these was Stones Into Schools!
2. One of those books, non fiction or classic – Check – Stones Into Schools!
3. Try out at least three new recipes – Check! We tried a variety of new delights including a delicious slow cooker lasagna with mushrooms and spinach, a new “fake” egg salad recipe (which we made again last night), and a Shepperd’s Pie recipe from the slowcooker book that we adapted to the stovetop.
4. Write three letters – Also check; I actually exceeded this one and sent out my fourth letter yesterday.
5. Be able to run three miles straight – Oooo, not so much. I made it up to 1.5 miles. I had plans to be over two, but being sick this week set me back.
6. Buy a kettlebell (check!) and do a kettlebell workout at least three times –So I got the kettlebell, but only managed two of my three goal workouts. Again, being sick put a damper on this as I had planned to do another work out earlier this week.

Obviously I cannot go a month without some goals. So, here is what’s up for April:
1. Be ready to start half-marathon training (aka be able to run three miles with minimal walking breaks). This is mandated by Thea who will be creating my half marathon training schedule – I start May 1!
2. Complete 6 strength training work outs. (0/6) I miss my muscle tone! These can be kettlebell workouts, gym workouts, bootcamps, whatever as long as I feel the burn!
3. Make 3 more new recipes, including something to share. (0/3) I already have a few things up my sleeve!
4. Read 5 books, for real this time! (0/5) My upcoming travel for a family wedding should help since I’ll be killing time in an airport for a while.
5. One of these books should be a classic. (0/1) I’m not doing so hot with this part of my resolution. Anne of Green Gables is still a work in progress and probably won’t count until May.
6. Stick to our weekly budgets. (0/5) We’ve been diverging from our meal plans a little too much and spending more money than we should. Eating in more/sticking to our plans should help me achieve at least three new recipes!

So, what’s April got in store for me?

  • I’ll be making my first trip to the dentist in over two years. It is also worth noting that I’m horrified of the dentist. I’m already a little anxious thinking about it.
  • I’m headed to Atlanta and then on to St. Augustine for my cousin’s wedding!
  • About a bazillion friends have birthdays that need celebrating. This is always excellent!
  • I am teleworking a ton which is wonderful!
  • Hubs has some work travel coming up and I’m fairly jealous. It’s okay though because he can’t come to St. Augustine due to school work.

What are you excited about in April? Are you making any goals this month?

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Welcome, 2011!

Does anyone else keep accidentally typing 2001 instead of 2011? It’s like my fingers know they need to repeat a number, but they’re definitely still more used to repeating 00 as opposed to 11!

Post-Tapas feasting, Hubs and I posted up on the couch and had a wonderful, relaxing New Year’s Eve. This pretty much sums it up.
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I felt moderately like an old lady reading , watching football, painting my nails, and relaxing instead of being out and about but it was a nice change of pace. It was also wonderful to wake up without a hangover!

Okay, so it’s 2011 and I’ve got some resolutions to share!

1) Re-introduce weights. I love weight training, I love being and feeling strong. It’s time to start lifting weights again and incorporating that into my work out routine.

2) Run a half marathon. Yes, there, I put it in writing. This is going to be a serious challenge for me. Weight lifting will be key in this as will a good training plan. One of my co-workers and friends, Thea, will be helping me develop a plan. Any ideas, tips, tricks are welcome! As a part of this goal/resolution, I am aiming to run at least 3 (but ideally 5) races of various lengths before my half. I aim to run the half sometime in late summer; currently, I have my eye on this race. More on this soon!

3) Vary my reading. I read a lot. I finished 62 books in 2010 and read almost 24,000 pages. I want to read more non-fiction and more classics this year. I know that might lower the number of books I finish (cause nothing reads as fast as generic fiction) but as long as I stay over 50 books I’m good to go! If you want to follow along or check out what I’m reading, add me as a friend on Goodreads!

4) Write letters. I love getting mail – the worst thing is that most of the mail I get is in the form of bills. No one really likes bills. So, I’m trying to put some snail mail out there. I know I have quite a few friends out there too who would love to see a letter or postcard as opposed to a bill in their mailbox. (Do you want a letter? Send me your address! annathamlin@gmail.com)

5) Get student loans under $X. I have a certain goal in mind. I won’t share it here because money is weird like that. But let’s just say that this is a serious part of my plan to get my loans paid off by my 27th birthday (June 2012).

6) Cook! Hubs and I got a TON of cook books as wedding presents. One of my aunts even threw us a recipe shower. I’m at a point where cooking and baking are enjoyable. They relax me and more often than not, the results are pretty tasty. I’m proud of finally knowing what’s up in the kitchen (to an extent) and I’m looking forward to expanding my abilities!

7) Stop wasting time. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve wasted in life – staring at the computer, refreshing facebook status feeds, updating twitter, watching tv shows I don’t even care about. I want to start consciously using my time. I know I can do so much more – cooking, reading, working out, spending quality time with Hubs, the hound,  my friends, etc. if I’m not wasting away with a computer in my lap or my eyes glued to the tv.

So, there you have it! This is what I want to do in 2011. What are your goals and resolutions?

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I can’t even see that far back…

Okay, so I’m a sucker for end of the year blog posts. I stole this from Brie. You should check out her responses too, cause I love her blog!

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
I got married! I also did a lot of traveling and saw a lot of places for the first time: Jamaica, Austin (Texas in general), New Orleans (Louisiana in general), and West Virginia. Oh, and I got my first ever massage on our Jamaican Honeymoon.

I also ran my first race on January 3rd. It was FREEZING!

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I did a pretty good job with my resolutions. I’m happy with this past year. And I definitely plan on making more resolutions. More on that in the next few days!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No one gave birth this year, but I have good friends due in April, May, June, and August!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Thankfully, no. I’ve been very blessed this year.

5. What countries did you visit?
Jamaica!
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6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
A lot less student loan debt!

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
March 27 – Our wedding date!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Completing two races and planning a wonderful wedding!

9. What was your biggest failure?
I missed out on several races. One I was registered for but decided not to run (as it was the day after we moved). I also intended to run several others but never followed through. I’m fairly disappointed with myself for not following through.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
A couple bouts with food poisoning and a variety of work out “ouchies” with a side of achy knees. Otherwise, again, I’ve been very fortunate.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My wedding dress! (I’d love an excuse to wear it again…)
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12. Where did most of your money go?
My Student Loans and Hub’s tuition. More recently, to this little fellow:

Holidays 023

13. What did you get really excited about?
Getting married, going on our honeymoon, all my work travel.

14. What song will always remind you of 2010?
Our first dance song (David Gray’s This Year’s Love) or Don’t Stop Believing (specifically the amazing rendition from Dan and Kelly’s Wedding)!
Ridings Wedding 126

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder?  Happier!
– thinner or fatter? About the same, maybe a little fatter (Sad smile).
– richer or poorer? About the same.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Camping.
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And, spending time with my friends. I love to relax and sometimes it turns me into a little bit of a homebody. So, if you’re reading this and you live in/around/near DC – let’s hang out!

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Waste time: on the internet, watching mindless tv, etc.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
Surrounded by my wonderful family in Atlanta!

19. What was your favorite TV program?
I enjoyed: Top Chef, Biggest Loser, Glee, Gossip Girl, and The Office.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

I finished 62 books this year. Highlights included: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, the Hunger Games books, The Looming Tower (Lawrence Wright), Zeitoun (by Dave Eggers), and Omnivore’s Dilemma (Michael Pollan).

21. What was your favorite music from this year?
Sarah Barailles, Florence and the Machine, The Used, and mind-numbing top 40 music.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?
I only saw a few movies in theatres and none of them were anything to write home about, sadly.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 25 and spent the day at work. I had delicious, cheap Italian food and drinks with friends that evening. Hubs and I belatedly celebrated my birthday a month or two later with a fancy, wonderful dinner out.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Paying down my loans farther. I wanted to be at a certain number by 1/1/11 and I’ll fall short of that. I’m making it my goal to have no more loans by the 27th birthday – ideally, though, the loans will be gone this time next year!

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
Well, I’ve been trying to diversify my casual wardrobe and move away from all my college t-shirts. That’s an ongoing battle. It’s hard to buy casual clothes when you really need work clothes.

26. What kept you sane?
Hubs, my amazing friends, my parents, and good workouts.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010

I learned a lot this past year. I need to believe in myself more and follow through with challenges I set for myself (running: case in point). I also need to stop worrying about what other people do and don’t have. Someone will always have more than me and someone will always have less – I need to be happy with exactly what I’ve got.

 

All right, the Dawgs on on TV and I need to concentrate on football. We’re headed in to Old Town in a few hours and I can’t wait to chow down on some tapas.  There’s a delicious chocolate stout six pack in the fridge and a large saison for toasting with at midnight. This is certainly a fortuitous start to 2011. Happy New Years, Y’all!

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Grump, grump, grump

It’s Friday, but I seem to have found myself in a funk. I have plenty of reasons to be happy today, but I just need to grump for a few minutes.

Why am I a grump? Money and weight. Too little of the first and too much of the second. I feel like I’m constantly on a budget, always the one counting pennies. My work friends go on so many trips (I swear, one girl has gone somewhere every weekend since May started) and it’s hard not to get jealous. Going to Atlanta was wonderful and I’m incredibly appreciative that we got to go. I just wish we could take a vacation this year. I know, I know, we just got married four and a half months ago and spent a week in Jamaica. I should be satisfied with that. Somehow, traveling a little only makes me want to travel more. (Travel bug?) We’re cobbling together a three night trip to VA Beach in late September (once peak rates have died down) and I’m really looking forward to that. I just need some time away. I suppose I’ll be pinning my hopes on an extended trip to Atlanta around Christmas and then our anniversary trip sometime in March or April.

Hubs and I are doing our best to be good, fiscally responsible little adults. School makes it hard though. Between paying for his tuition (thank goodness for in state!!!) and paying off my loans (gag), we’re “losing” more than a grand a month. Yes, it was our choice to go back to school. It was my choice to take out loans. I knew what the consequences were when I picked GWU for my masters program. But, that doesn’t make me any less whiney occasionally. I suppose just about everyone could say their life would be easier with a little more money.

Weight has also been on my mind. I feel like I’m just slugging along and not getting anywhere. I was down to 150 at the start of the month. I got on the scale this morning and it said 153.6. I’m so ashamed to write that out. So ashamed. I thought I was making progress. It could be that heavy dinner I had last night that’s just weighing me down this morning. Or, perhaps my breakfast cheesecake is catching up with me. Regardless, I feel gross.

What brought all this to a head? What made me a super grump this morning? DC Restaurant Week. Normally this is one of my favorite events of the year. Once in the summer and once in the winter, a collection of amazing, delicious, and normally (astronomically) expensive DC Restaurants get together and offer a sweet deal: three course lunch for $20.10 (+tax) or a three course dinner for $35.10 (+tax). It’s glorious. Hubs and I look forward to it twice a year!

Restaurant Week is next week. And, I will admit, I’m excited. Who doesn’t love a chance to eat at yummy places on the cheap(er) side?! We have plans to visit SEI for dinner with friends, Jackson 20 for a date night, and Againn for lunch with friends. All will be delicious and I can’t wait to try these places. However, once you add it all up and factor in tax and tip, I’ve spent 3/4 of my weekly budget! That doesn’t include groceries or the happy hour I’m supposed to go to with an old friend from HS. Whoops! Looks like next week is gonna be on the high side. Oh, and the bachelorette party (co-ed) that is going next weekend also and is going to cost $75/person plus drinks. (Renting something known as a “Keg Bus” and riding it all around DC.) I think I also forgot that friends want to take a trip to an awesome speakeasy in the area: PX. I’ve been dying to try it out so if we manage to get reservations I don’t think I’ll be able to decline…

Yeah, so next week is going to be awesome. Busy, but awesome. Oh, and expensive. These are ALL things that I really, really want to do (and have been wanting to do for sometime) but *insert whine here* why do they have to come all in the same week?! Oi! Also, while my wallet will be super skinny next week, the events leave me worrying about my waistline. I doubt that Restraunt Week kitchens are worried about calorie counts and fat content. And, even if I have just one or two drinks at happy hour, the bachelorette, and PX, I’ve still racked up quite a few more calories.

I’m trying to think proactively (instead of just being a complete whiney mess). I’m trying to save about 1/3 of this week’s budget to carry over to next week for a little cushion. Hopefully I can scrimp the last week in August too in order to balance out any extra I might go over. I’m planning to be frugal (but healthy) at the grocery store for next week. (I’m in training W-F, so I have to bring unrefridgerated lunches: hello apples, bananas, carrot sticks, cucumbers and a baby PBJ sandwich!) I also have plans to work out every day but Tuesday. Training starts later than work normally does for me (by an hour and a half!) and is much closer to where I live (cuts about 20 minutes off my commute). That means that even for the days I have evening plans, I can still get up later than I normally do and get a work out in. Score! Hopefully my penny pinching and my added in work outs will help me combat my (awesome) week next week.

Bah, just as I was finishing this post, I got a smack in the face. I really need to work on my grumps and priorities. A sorority sister just found out that she is pregnant (!!!) — she and her husband have been trying for a while. However, her husband also just found out that he has cancer. Heartbreaking. If you pray, I would appreciate it if you lifted these two wonderful people up. If you don’t, could you send positive thoughts their way?

I’m off to try and de-grump myself. Hopefully between venting and getting a priority reality check, my grumps are on their way out the door. I have countless things to be thankful for: health, a wonderful family, a kind and adorable husband, amazing friends, a roof over my head, a gym to work out in, a job to pay my bills, a library to encourage my book addiction, a reliable car, and it goes on. If I’m less grumpy later, I’ll be back with a happy post. One that will, no doubt, include deets on last night’s yummy Vietnamese dinner, the latest book I’m reading, and my Wednesday night workout.

Wow, feeling less grumpy already. (Thanks for “listening.”)

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