Eat, Pray, Love

Book review time!

Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love is one of my new favorite books. As I read this book I could feel myself relaxing about the stupid little details in life and instead, focusing on what really matters to me. I really began to let go of some stress and allowed myself to enjoy life a little more--and who doesn't need a little dose of 'chill pills' every now and then?

I won't ruin the plot but here is my cliff notes version:

Liz has a minor mid-life crisis and decides to travel abroad for a whole year of her life. She picks Italy for pure pleasure---eating fabulous food while learning one of the most beautiful languages in the world made for a happy journey. Italy is the 'Eat' in the title. She picks India for religious devotion---focusing on her inner soul, in order to experience spiritual enlightenment. India is the 'Pray' of the book. Then she picks Indonesia to find balance between pleasure and spirituality--where she just might find some sort of 'Love' to balance her life wonderfully.

As someone with minor OCD when it comes to structure, organization, and fitting everything into perfect little categories, I love this book. Liz has everything divided into glorious symmetrical sections: three sections of 36 tales which adds up to 108, which is the exact number of beads on Indian prayer necklaces. She strings her tales together as if she is creating a beautiful necklace and I dig it. I like how she picked three countries with the letter "I" and each of them symbolized something unique. I like how she gets all philosophical on us because sometimes I enjoy making my brain hurt with deep questions in life: such as...Who am I? What do I want out of life? Deep stuff, my friends.

Anyway, this is the type of book that inspired me to jot down some of my favorite quotes for future use. And of course, that future use includes sharing some of them on my blog. You ready?

Best quote ever:
p.10 "Moreover, I couldn't stop thinking about what my sister had said to me once, as she was breast feeding her newborn: 'Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. You really need to be certain it's what you want before you commit.' "

Can I get an AMEN? I know a lot of you are in the same boat as me: recently married, getting bombarded with the 'when are you going to pop out a kid?' questions, and wondering if now is the right time. Well, hello, tattoo on my face! I couldn't have said it better myself--not quite ready to commit.

Then there is this quote about depression, which thankfully I have never experienced first hand but some of those closest to me have struggled with this diagnosis:
p.48 "When you are lost in those woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost. For the longest time, you can convince yourself that you've just wandered a few feet off the path, that you'll find your way back to the trailhead any moment now. Then night falls again and again, and you still have no idea where you are, and it's time to admist that you have bewildered yourself so far off the path that you don't even know from which direction the sun rises anymore."

I just think that description is beautiful in some sad way.

This quote runs along those same veins:
p.52" That's the thing about human life--there's no control group, no way to ever know how any of us would have turned out if any variables had been changed."

Here is my new favorite quote about transitions in life, a topic that obviously hits home on this blog. She is talking about a mausoleum in Rome that has made it through some rough times:

p.75 "I look at the Augusteum, and I think that perhaps my life has not actually been so chaotic, after all. It is merely this world that is chaotic, bringing changes to us all that nobody could have anticipated. The Augusteum warns me not to get attached to any obsolete ideas about who I am, what I represent, whom I belong to, or what function I may once have intended to serve. Yesterday, I might have been a glorious monument to somebody, true enough--but tomorrow I could be a fireworks depository. Even in the Eternal City, says the silent Augusteum, one must always be prepared for riotous and endles waves of transformation."

I like it!!

And one final quote for you, my lovelies. Here is is talking about finding true happiness and not wanting it to end.

p.260 "I also keep remembering a simple idea my friend Darcey told me once--that all the sorrow and trouble of this world is caused by unhappy people. ...Even in my own life, I can see exactly where my episodes of unhappiness have brought suffering or distress to those around me. Clearing out all your misery gets you out of the way. You cease being an obstacle, not only to yourself but to anyone else. Only then are you free to serve and enjoy other people."

So yeah, it's pretty much the bomb and I highly recommend reading it. Who else read it? Did anyone get a completely different feel from the book?

Any other books I must read now that I'm finished with this one?

Wedding #2

We are back from the ginormous Kansas City wedding and I know you are dying to see pictures, right?

I forgot to mention that we flew out of Chicago Midway, since tickets out of Milwaukee were ungodly expensive. What is usually an hour and a half drive to the windy city turned out to be a three hour drive on a Friday night, which helps me remember why I would despise the constant Chicago traffic if we lived there. [I love that city with all of my heart but the traffic would drive me insane.] We still made our 9 pm flight without issues, arrived in KC at 10:45 and then discovered that the airport is inconveniently located in the middle of nowhere. It was seriously a $75 taxi ride to our hotel and that was our cheapest option---everyone was out at the rehearsal dinner so we couldn't bum a ride, and by the time we got to our hotel at midnight we were sufficiently exhausted. Needless to say we called it an early night and did not meet everyone out, which made for an extra short weekend---I felt like we didn't get to visit our friends as much because of it, but oh well.

Saturday the temperatures soared to 90 degrees in Kansas City--which us Wisconsinites consider tropical and we nearly melted all day long. But it was a gorgeous day and a beautiful wedding, here is the only shot I took at the ceremony:

Ashleigh was a picturesque bride, fit for a magazine. She had her gown sewed by a family member and it was stunning--I wish I took a better picture of it for you, but she was a tad busy with her hundreds of guests all day:)

We went to a bar between ceremony and reception, where one of the groomsmen displayed his new purchase: a boom box for their trolley. This group of guys is probably one of the most random and hilarious collection of personalities ever.

The bartender asked if I wanted a small or large beer and without asking for clarification, I said 'large.' Here is what I got:
So then came the reception. Did I mention that they invited 760 people [I think about 500 attended]? And did I mention that the reception was in the groom's parents' back yard? Hardly your typical backyard wedding with that number of people, right? Well here is how you host a huge party under a tent, in your backyard:

I'm not sure if you can fully grasp how large this tent really was, but it caused an audible gasp from our shuttle when we pulled up to the house. The tent was HUGE, their house was a mansion, complete with their own private lake. Pretty freaking impressive, if I do say so myself. Aren't we cute? Nate was an usher and mighty handsome if you ask me. And hello to my J.Crew dress!
Onto the details that I know you brides/newlyweds want to see.

They had a monster sized Gocco:
And here is my attempt at showing you how many freaking tables they had set up under the tent. I couldn't even capture half of them but it was amazing:The flowers were incredible---Ashleigh's bouquet even had tiny feathers in it! Squee!
Her colors were chocolate brown, rusty orange, and accents of leopard print. How feisty, right? Here are their programs:

First dance: you can kind of see her dress here:
Yours truly:
Andy and Laura--our best buds for the night. They are getting married in two weeks! Can't wait to see you guys in St. Louis for your own big day.

The band was quite entertaining, costumes and all. That would be Tina Turner, Superwoman, and I think Elvis? :

Reuniting with college friends always makes me want to become the photographer for the night:
These two handsome lads are single, ladies. I know---try to restrain yourselves.

Frat boys will always be frat boys, wild stories and all:

And the boys with their groom. Now that Caleb is sporting his wedding band the world has officially lost one of the most notorious bachelors. It's the end of an era and it proves that we are all getting REALLY old:)

And now the bride and groom are off to St. Lucia---and we are of course, insanely jealous since that is where we spent our honeymoon. But they will be at Andy and Laura's wedding in two weeks so I hope they bring their pictures for me to drool over.

So yeah, it was pretty much the bomb. I'm more tired than I've been in months and my throat is a bit scratchy from yelling over superwoman and her band, so I think I should call it an early night. I mean, the marathon is in 6 days and I need as much rest as I can get!! Eeek.

That's what she said.

So last night was The Office season premier. I've been anticipating the return of my favorite show for months now, especially since I rarely watch TV anymore at all. [I know, it's weird---but I'm either working, running, eating, talking to Nate, sleeping, or working on album time for TV].

So I settled into the couch a little before 8:00 with a nice cup of hot tea. Nate on the other couch, Henry next to me, and the room full of excitement. I didn't realize the first episode would be a full hour long but I quietly thanked NBC for that nice surprise.

The first 30 minutes were HIGH-larious. Loved it. Laughed out loud multiple times and realized how much I missed this crew.

And happened.

Channel 4 had a major spazz attack and the whole screen became scrambled. We frantically flipped through the other channels and sure enough, every other station came through clear as day. We ran downstairs and my in-laws' TV was showing the same chaos on channel 4. Of COURSE this happens to the one and only show I care about, of course! I looked at Nate and told him if Jim proposed to Pam and I missed it, I would throw myself out a window.

So I pouted for awhile as I stared at the snowy screen---we couldn't even hear the audio at this point. I missed the whole last half of the show and was forced to watch Gray's Anatomy. [As a side note: I know a lot of girls my age love that show but it's so freaking ridiculous sometimes. I mean, the Asian chick got stabbed by a fallen icicle last night and it was no big deal. Bleh-so dramatic.]

Moral of the story: I hate NBC!!!!!

Then today I had an epiphany: I went to and found the whole first episode from last night. I love you, NBC! We are friends again. Wouldn't you know it.....Jim popped the big Q!!!

It was worth the wait, my friends. Totally flipping perfect. I love this show.

The best line of the night came from Phyllis:

"I wonder what people like about me? [pause] Probably my jugs."

Ah, all is right with the world again. On top of a fabulous Office, I ran my final long run this morning. My last 8 miler before D-day felt really good--I felt strong and ready for 26.2. Of course, I'll probably be freaking out a week from today but as of right now I'm ready to kick marathon arse. It looks like Nate probably won't run it with me, considering that he didn't 'test his legs' at all this week. I suppose it's still up in the air but I'm preparing myself to do this solo. He mentioned that he might jump in with me for the last 5 miles or so, to help motivate me for the finish. It's pretty much his best idea ever---I think I'll need that extra push after 21 miles!

And now I must pack for our trip to Kansas City where we will attend a fabulous wedding for these two crazy kids:

Fun fact for the day: they invited 760 people to their wedding! [gasp]. Here's to a great wedding, Caleb and Ashleigh!

Also, mad props to Nick and Amy who are also getting married this weekend, in North Carolina.
If we could be in two places at once we would get to attend both weddings, but alas--we are mere mortals. So sorry to miss this one, but can't wait to see pictures.

Anyone else attending weddings this weekend? Anyone watch The Office or are all my readers faithful Gray's fans?

tap, this thing on?

Is anyone out there? Remember me, that blogger who used to blog nearly every day? Yeah, I'm still alive. Apparently I took a week long hiatus without realizing it. I suppose you could say life is pretty freaking busy right now, huh?

Let's play catch up, shall we?

1. A few weekends ago I got on one of my cleaning kicks and scrubbed our place top to bottom. Because my mother-in-law has mad housekeeping skills [the woman scrubs the inside of her oven all the time, and cleans their coffee pot with vinegar each week!] I sometimes feel inspired. After all, we live right above her display of perfection so it makes our flat seem like a pig sty in comparison.

So I tried to emulate my mother-in-law with her "soapy water and bucket trick" for the floors. I suppose Nate found this amusing and decided to take pictures of me without my consent.

When I noticed him snapping away like the paparazzi, I asked what he was doing. He replied, "Taking pictures of this for your blog." Wow! He's come a long way, folks.

2. Henry got his monthly haircut but something went horridly wrong. Can you notice the difference?


And After:

He has a rat tail, a worm, a little stump, whatever you want to call it! The horror! His once long and luxurious locks [ahem, maybe they were a little ratty looking?] are gone all because of a wicked matted mess. We are getting used to his new tail but it was quite startling at first. I think he digs it, though.

3. I purchased a dress for the third and final wedding. I went with Ebay and got my first love, Lydia, in black for $120 [originally $250]. No, it's not the greatest deal ever but I love it and decided I needed a fabulous LBD. I think this fits the bill!

4. Fun with the mail:
A. Brigid's album arrived!
B. One of my many dorky PT magazines actually looks quite interesting this time:

5. I had my blood drawn for a health and wellness test at work. The biyatch totally blew my vein as you can see:

As Nate pointed out, this picture did not turn out very well and I waited a few days too long for the true hideousness. So I photoshopped my version of the bruise for you fair readers. This is how it FELT at least:
What, you don't think that looks realistic? Please. At if that isn't dramatic enough, I walked around the hospital with an ice pack on my arm the day of the blood draw. So sue me.

6. On a more serious note, the marathon is less than two weeks away. And I'm FREAKING OUT. Especially because my running partner might be down for the count. Poor Nate hasn't had the best of luck with training, considering that he has to study every night after school and many hours each weekend. His ankle immediately started hurting him after our 22.5 mile run and it really hasn't gotten better. Well, I take that back---it gets much better when he doesn't run for a few days, but as soon as he tries to run again it gets bad. So bad that he told me it feels like his Achilles tendon might rupture.

You don't have to be a medical person to know that would be very bad. It's not worth it, in my opinion, to get seriously injured over a stupid marathon. It's not life and death, we have plenty of running years left in our old and crumbling bodies, and right now Nate's priority is school--not marathoning. Of course Nate is a stubborn Type A like his wife and doesn't like to give up on anything, so he's not totally counting himself out just yet. He will see how it treats him this week and then make a decision. I'm sad to possibly lose him as a running partner---crossing the finish line together has been our goal since we started this training back in May. But running in a full marathon was my idea and I'm still going to do it no matter what.

I cannot believe it's only 11 days away. Barf. I'm scared.

keri update

I talked to her tonight and the biopsy was negative!

Whew, what a relief. It's still not 100% certain since all biopsies can sample the wrong tissue---Keri put it best when she said it's like fishing in a big pond and trying to catch a certain fish but not the others. They will re-scan her in 6 weeks but for now this is an answered prayer. Thank you, God.

Also, the boobies are doing well. The new girls are hidden in bandages but I'm sure they are fabulous. A boob job and biopsy...all in a matter of two days. I'm tired just thinking about it.

Anyway, Ker was in good spirits and I could feel the relief in her voice. Thank you all for thinking of her. I know she appreciates it!

Totally unrelated: I updated my mysterious post below, if you didn't check back.

Totally unrelated x2: Did I mention that the marathon is in 3 weeks? And did I mention that two out of town weddings will sandwich the marathon weekend? Wedding in Kansas City, Marathon, and then wedding in St. Louis. This is otherwise known as three weekends of pure craziness [ie traveling, running, being sore, dancing, seeing old friends, my parents are coming!!!, etc].

So yeah, things are about to get real exciting around these parts. Be prepared, my friends. Pictures to come.

Quotes by Nate

Quote of the day, from my hubby:

"If they'd stop being so hard, the tips wouldn't rip off."

Do you have any idea what he's talking about here? I'd like you to make your best educated guesses and then I will post the answer later.

And yes, it has to do with running [of course].

9.16.08 UPDATED for your enjoyment:

Yes, my lovelies. He is referring to his nipples. [Not mine, thank goodness. My little guys have hung in there without issues but Nate's are another story].

I would have enjoyed posting a picture of said bloody nipples but I fear that blistered toes + bloody nipples = over-the-top gruesome blog. And I never wanted to be a 'disgusting' blogger anyway. So instead of the picture, I'd like for the brave readers out there to google image the following phrase:

"mens bloody nipples after running."

You can thank me later.

The story is this: Nate has a painfully tight cut-off spandex shirt that I lovingly call his 'Bro.' It's so tight it acts as a sports bra for his girls and he sometimes wears it underneath a regular shirt....just like a sports bra:)

Well sometimes Nate freaks out and thinks the Bro is too hot, so he won't wear it. And do you know what happens then? His nipples get hard, and they rub on the shirt for 2+ hours during a long run, and then they literally bleed down the front of his shirt [did you google the pictures yet?].

The best part is when he takes a shower. I'll hear a scream, followed by cursing, followed by wimpering and I know his nipples lost the battle on the pavement. Seriously, there are little scabs on the's the epitome of sexy, let me tell you.

He even stooped so low as to try band-aids for the 23 mile run, which totally didn't help and they still bled through. I wanted him to take off his shirt and run with just the band-aids but he refused. Can you imagine? I'm snickering now just thinking about that sight.

And so, when he has one of his PT labs at school, they have to remove their shirts and poke around on each other to learn about the human body [and yes, I'm okay with long as his lab partner is an ugly chick]. So now my husband is That Guy With the Scabby Nipples.

True story. I'm sure you appreciate the humor as much as me, right?

Hard Core

Saturday morning we swam 14 miles.

Well, technically we ran them but it was raining so hard it felt like swimming.

Here is the sight we saw upon waking for the day:

And here is the inner turmoil we suffered:

Sleepy Self: "Get your butt back in bed. It's raining too hard and that is the perfect excuse to skip a run."

Dedicated Self: "But the marathon is in THREE WEEKS. What if it's raining on race day? They won't cancel the marathon, you know. We might as well get used to these conditions just in case."

SS: "Please. You could sleep in today and hope for better weather tomorrow. If you run in this weather your feet might fall off."

DS: "It's game time, biyatch. We've trained for nearly four months already and I'm not going to let a little rain stop me from this run. Now shut up and get yourself ready."

And thus, we drove down to the Lakefront to meet the running group. Sure enough, there were only about 20 people there instead of the usual 100 or so. These were the hard core runners. The ones who looked like they'd completed 10+ marathons before this one. And then there was Nate and I...standing around shivering, soaking wet, and mumbling obscenities under our breath. We might be newbies but apparently we are pretty hard core :)

The run itself wasn't so bad considering it poured for the first 6 miles, then it turned to mist, and then it was just plain old humid. You know the kind of air that wraps around your face like a wet blanket, suffocating you to the point that you're gasping for oxygen? Yeah, that type of humidity...St. Louis style but without the sweltering heat.

But no matter what, tapering your mileage from 22.5 miles to 'just' 14 is the bomb. Tapering is my new friend and I'm going to hug the hell out of him for the next three weeks. Me and tapering, sitting in a tree...

So about my feet: you can imagine that running for 2 hours 13 minutes with squeaking, wet socks and shoes isn't the best therapy for already shredded feet. Please note that I found the time to paint my toenails [hi, Kristal and Jenn] to mask the disgusting-ness.

Before I get into the gruesome detail shots, I know my previous toe pictures caused quite the uproar with some of you. So please do not scroll down if you are eating, just waking for the day, or if you have a weak stomach. If you hate feet then you'll despise mine. They've gotten worse, my friends. Don't say I didn't warn you this time. It's your decision...

wait for it....


Ta Da!

Apparently wet callouses turn into this white junk. What do you think would happen if I strolled into a nail salon with this hot mess of a foot? Do you think the pedicure lady would pass out? I think it would be pretty entertaining.

Since I'm one of those weirdos who LOVE to pick/pop/pull nastiness like this, I'm pretty proud of myself for leaving the callouses alone. After all, these babies are four months in the making and probably serve some kind of protective function for my toes. If I pulled off the dead skin my new skin would be totally ticked at me on my next run, right? So I'm going to deal with the hideous growths for three more weeks and then it's Adios to the little horrors.

Thus ends your lesson for today: that running is downright nasty sometimes. Anyone rethinking marathon training now? Aren't you glad we are almost finished with this madness? :)

Eye candy, etc.

If you are like me, you've always drooled over dreamy destination weddings. Nothing says fabulosity like getting married on a sandy beach, with the ocean as a background, and the sun shining down. Ah, pure paradise.

I got the pleasure to design my first destination wedding album for Brigid---who also happens to have her own photography business called Ramblin Rose Photography. It's a bit nerve wracking when you design a photo album for a photographer: their attention to detail can be more precise than non-photographer brides. But after tweaking her layouts so that both of us are satisfied, her album is officially ready for print!

Brigid's photographer was Eric Dahl from Maui Wedding Photography. Now THERE'S a career that makes me jealous enough to cry...taking gorgeous photos of weddings in Hawaii? Yes, please!

Here are a few of my favorite layouts but you can see the entire album under 'example's at J.Lorene Design. As always, click the images to make them bigger.

On a completely unrelated note [something that should probably be it's own post, but I'm feeling lazy right now]: Keri is scheduled for a lung biopsy on Monday. The re-read her CT scan and cannot deny that the spot is bigger, so they feel a biopsy is the only way to properly diagnose her. You can read more about it at her journal but please keep her in your prayers [thank you for doing so even before this new discovery!]. I spoke to Keri last night and she was rightfully overwhelmed by all of this new information. I simply cannot imagine. Ugh.

One positive bit of news is that she WILL get her boob job on Tuesday! Yay for new boobies:) I know she's been looking forward to the new girls and after much discussion the doctors decided she could go ahead with the original surgery date. Needless to say, Keri has a big week ahead of her.

Not to sound like a broken record but please let Keri's story impact your life in some way. For me, the recent events have brought me back to reality again. It's made me reasses my priorities in life and has helped me let go of the little things that seemed so important last week. Looking at the big picture that is life, and stepping back from the daily grind has helped me appreciate life's little blessings. And I hope it's done the same for you.

Random musings

[kind of like a Miscellany Monday but not.]

1. Look at these hunks of burning love and try not to be insanely jealous of me:

Nevermind the fact that Henry looks like he split his torso down the middle. That is his signature porn star pose----he's patented it, in case you care.

2. My husband is a metrosexual. This isn't a new announcement or anything, but please take a look at the evidence:

[Henry is saying, "WTF, Dad?"]
A closer look yields the truth: Nate bought a pair of Sevens. He is officially the perfect blend of frat boy/meat head/a guy's guy AND a well-groomed/girl's guy/fashion slave. I never thought this day would come, my friends.
He is a multi-faceted one, my husband.

3. Did you notice my new blog lift? So much for changing it every month....bah to that. I'm trying for every other month now. And I decided to move away from the sickeningly sweet pink and settle into some nice cool greens. You like?

4. I just finished reading "The Kite Runner" and it was so-so. I never thought I'd like a book set in the Middle East but it really was pretty riveting. No, I've never seen the movie---I'm just way behind on the times, okay?

And now I just started "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. Um, can you say obsessed? Anyone read either of these bad boys?

5. Nate's cousin Mike just sent me some mysterious digital negatives from their Beyond the Booth. Hmmmm, I wonder why I didn't print these off for myself? My father-in-law and I are so hawt. He is saying, "Why is this crazy chick living above us?"

Sometimes I like to practice my pregnant pose. "Ah, my aching back....rub my feet, please, honey." Can't you just hear me being all whiny and stuff?Then there is my husband: just looking plain cute. Poor guy, has to deal with his insane wife.

6. Guess who bit the bullet and ordered some business cards? That's right, I'm pretty much official now. And did I ever mention that I registered for my business license, too? Yep, I've gone corporate. Tax ID number and all---for reals.
You didn't think I'd post my actual phone number on my blog, did you? I have to draw the line somewhere: you might know a lot about me but not that. :)
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