My 1/3rd Life Crisis: What to Do When Your Job Isn’t Working for You

I’m not even sure if a third-life crisis is a thing, but I think I’m a little late to call it “quarter-life” since I turned 30 last week. I, for one, do not plan to be around to see my 120th birthday. If you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time you’ve probably noticed my absence for the past, oh… way too many months. If you’re new here, Hi. I’m Kelly. Yes, there is in fact someone behind the blog, and thanks for stopping by!

The blog is not the only thing that I’ve been neglecting over the past six months. My work life had completely taken the place of my free time, my gym time, my early mornings and most of the evenings I should have been able to spend with my husband. I was commuting 45 minutes each way, 4 to 5 days a week to bust my ass 10 to 12 hours a day working on a thankless project that was making me miserable.

Before I knew it, I was past the point of no return. I considered taking a 50% pay cut and an entry level job that would have bored me out of my mind. I thought about quitting my job with no real plan in place other than to play housewife for awhile while I try to figure out what I really want to do with my life. All I knew was that I was burned out. I could not imagine continuing on in the position I was in for the next year, much less the next 35.

Wrestling with my loyalty and commitment to my company versus my sanity and happiness over the past few months has been one of the more stressful times in my life. Finally making the decision to quit the job that I originally thought could be my lifetime career has made me feel like I’ve failed in a lot of ways.

I’m here to tell you though, I think in the long run I will look back at this as a positive life experience. Even though I’m still not 100% sure I’ve made all of the right decisions, I’ve learned some solid lessons already that may actually make me a better person. So in case you’ve found yourself questioning your job or what you’re doing currently in life, I’m sharing those lessons learned today, at my wise old age of 30.

1. If you’re not happy, do something about it.

This is easier said than done. I remember telling my husband this very thing about a year and a half ago. At the time, he had a job that paid the bills, but it didn’t challenge him or show any promise for personal or career advancement in the future. While he did enjoy the fact that he could spend most of his workday watching youtube videos, it wasn’t the most fulfilling position to be in. Being happy with my job (at the time), I had fairly little sympathy for his complaints after a couple months and told him that he needed to do something about it. He did make a move to change his situation, and while it wasn’t an easy transition, he is definitely in a better place now.

I found myself eating my words when I was less than loving my job a year later, but it really is good advice. You are the only person that can change your situation when you aren’t where you want to be. Probably the most difficult thing I did during this process was make the decision to tell my boss that I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t sure what I would do yet, but taking that first step to admit to myself, and to my company, that I needed to make a change was half the battle.

2. Thank God we paid off debt.

The ONLY reason I was able to consider quitting my job without a plan, was the fact that we are out of debt except for our house. We’ve been busting our butts over the past 3 years to get to this point, throwing three times the cost of our monthly mortgage at our student loans and car debt. It’s the reason we could feasibly live on half of our income if we had to. It’s true that money can’t buy happiness, but knowing that you don’t NEED it will give you peace of mind.

I didn’t buy a new sporty car or a boat through my recent life crisis, but we have spent a lot on things like new snowboards, golf clubs, and clothes over the past few months. We’ve been on a splurge recently, partly as a reward for working to dump a whole lot of debt, and also probably because of stress. It didn’t solve my problem.

I was fortunate enough to find a new job opportunity that is still in the construction industry, and offers a similar salary to what I was making previously. However, knowing that I didn’t absolutely have to keep my job or find similar pay is an incredibly freeing feeling. Sure, had I taken some time off completely or taken that 50% pay cut, I would have had to make some lifestyle changes and slowed down on our plan to pay off the mortgage. Even having the option to do so and knowing we would be just fine is a huge luxury. So put that money to work while you’ve got it. You’ll thank yourself later.

3. Applying and interviewing for jobs is good life practice.

I had not interviewed for a job since I was in college, 6 or 7 years ago. Because I was so burned out at my job, I think I was in denial about staying in the same industry. I was looking for jobs that would be completely different from the fast paced, high stress job that I was in. I applied for a couple jobs that looked interesting, and got called in for two interviews for an entry level position at our state office of tourism. I was pretty nervous going in to the interviews, trying to anticipate the zinger questions they might ask that would trip me up. Overall, the interviews were pretty laid back, and I got through just fine. Through this process, I also learned that:

4. Being over-qualified is a real thing.

The interview committee struggled to hide their confusion as to why I was applying for this position, given my work and salary history which was required as part of the application process. They actually said to me “So wait, you’re OK with… starting over??” Waiting for the phone call that would either offer me the job or let me know they were going with someone else (it turned out to be the latter), I came to the realization that the job probably would have been a bit too much of a change for me. Taking a big pay cut at the risk of getting bored quickly was not going to be the right move.

However, I am so glad that I went through the process. I spent about a week getting my resume and a cover letter up to date, sharpened my skills, and made some new connections. The lady that called to let me know of their decision was extremely nice and told me that she would like to keep me in mind and reach out if there are other positions that come up in another department and could be a good fit. Win-win.

5. Check out all of your options.

Similarly to point #3, it never hurts to think outside of the box when you’re considering a career change. I applied to two very different jobs before deciding to take a chance on an opportunity that was in front of me to stay in the same industry. I also broke down crying (only once) AFTER I had committed to this new position because I had another potential offer that I hadn’t looked into before making a decision. Jesse reminded me that we had talked a lot about pros and cons of my options, and that I was making a smart decision for several reasons.

I did feel better after making a phone call and finding out that the other potential offer was not going to be comparable, salary-wise. Gut feel is worth a lot, but don’t jump into something unless you have at least considered other options. It never hurts to apply for posted positions, and call around to check out options that might not be published. Word-of-mouth and who you know can present opportunities that you may not know are out there.

6. Be honest going into a new opportunity, and learn from your mistakes

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through this whole thing is what it takes to become burned out. I read a statistic recently about overwork that went something like this: When you work 50 hours a week consistently for 10 weeks, you lose about 35% of your productivity for those working hours. Working 60 hours a week for 10 weeks leads to a 45% decrease in productivity. So putting in an extra 10 hours every week likely only results in an extra half hour of productive work.

I feel like I was working hard in front of my computer for almost all of the 10 to 12 hours that had become my daily standard. So while I wasn’t sitting around wasting time, working at the rate that I was for months on end was not making me happy and was definitely not sustainable. I now know that I have limits and needed to re-prioritize my life. So, going into a new opportunity, I was not shy about explaining that I need a better work-life balance. At the same time, I tried to remember to:

7. Be positive

During a conversation with a previous supervisor and good friend/mentor, I got some really great advice. It’s important not to sit and complain about all of the things that were not working with your previous job. While you can be frank and confident about what it is that you are looking for with a new position, it’s important to put a positive spin on it rather than turning an interview into a bash session on your last gig. This made a lot of sense to me. It’s a small world, and you want to avoid burning bridges.

8. People will be supportive

I found that breaking the news that I was leaving to my family and to several team members at my previous job was not as difficult as I imagined. While it can be tough to leave when you care about the hard work that you’ve put in and friendships that you’ve made, people will most likely understand. We’re all only human, and we all have the same basic needs. People get it. And if they care about you, they won’t fault you for doing what is best for you.

9. Take some time to refresh 

After a couple months of agony and stress over changing jobs and making some fairly large life decisions, I knew I would regret jumping right from one grind to the next. I took a week off in between jobs, just to relax and be a little bit selfish. I went to yoga at noon, just because I could. I caught up on cleaning the house, and enjoyed being home without an agenda. I thought a lot about what is important to me, and how to remember to focus on those things moving forward. It wasn’t a ton of time, but I am thankful to have had the chance to refresh, so I was ready to start back up again with a new energy.

One week in to my new job, I obviously don’t have everything figured out. It’s hard to know how things will end up a year or several down the road. All I can do is learn from my mistakes, and focus on what I know is important to my health, happiness, and my ability to be productive at my job for a reasonable amount of hours each week. I do feel like a huge weight has been lifted, and so far it feels a lot like the fresh start that I needed to get my life back in balance.

So if you find yourself feeling like your job just isn’t giving back as much as you are putting in, it might be time to take an honest look at what you can do to change your situation. I hope that whether you considering a change in career, working for yourself, or just adjusting your work-life balance in your current position, my experience will remind you of what is most important. Your happiness and well being are worth a lot more than money and so-called success. After going through this, I am hopeful that by setting my priorities straight and going to work in a position that allows me some balance, I should be able to have all of the above.

Oh HEY 2016!

Well happy freaking new year. I’ve been MIA from the blog for awhile, and figured it’s about time I let you all know that I’M STILL ALIVE. And kickin’. I have been busier than ever with my day job (whomp whomp), but I feel like 2016 has some good things in store.

Here’s a quick run-down of what you can expect this year from me and my little blog!

New Domain(!): Yes, after just over a year of blogging, I’ve finally figured out what my blog name SHOULD have been. I’ll be moving all of my content over to the new site, and hope it goes smoothly – and that you’ll continue to follow along!

Home Projects: Namely, a NEW BATHROOM. We’ve been talking about putting in that basement bathroom, pretty much since we bought our house, and it’s finally moving forward! We completed demo and most of the framing just this weekend (I’m still amazed), so it is happening, like for real. I plan to document and share the whole process. It’s definitely the biggest home project I’ve ever taken on, and it’s super exciting!

Possibly Another ORC: I loved participating in the fall One Room Challenge, and have been enjoying our cozy bedroom every day since.

It was such a great kick in the ass to get a room done in six weeks, and our office desperately needs a huge clean-up and makeover. The Spring ORC starts in April. Depending on how quickly we get through that bathroom, I may or may not just keep on going and take on another room!

Money Talk: I definitely did not do a great job last year of talking personal finance as much as I would have liked. 2015 for us was a year to keep our heads down, work hard, and pay off debt. And we did! We are officially debt free, except for our house. It’s a pretty amazing feeling, and I have at least a few posts that I’d like to get out there about how we did it, and what our plans are now!

Travel: This summer, we are taking a couple of weeks and going to Europe! We’ll be visiting the town where Jesse’s folks lived in Germany, and hitting one or two other countries before we set off on a Mediterranean cruise. This will be Jesse’s first trip to Europe, and a once-in-a-lifetime trip for both of us!

Weddings: We have FOUR weddings on the calendar this year. This may not be a huge deal for a lot of people (doesn’t everyone have that year when every one of your friends and their mom is getting married?) Well, for me, this is that year. I will also be a bridesmaid for the first time, and a matron of honor 3 weeks later! If you know me, you know that I love love love weddings. So I can’t wait to help my sister and one of my best friends as they walk down the aisle. I also still have several wedding-related posts that I plan to write about our own wedding (because if I could re-live it over and over, I would.)

Probably Less Running: But hopefully some?! We have been HORRIBLE over the past several months, and have just not had time to run or work out. We’ve decided to forgo the Sandhills Half this year, after it turned out to be pretty miserable last summer. Jesse didn’t have a great race either, and we both think we probably overtrained (despite only running 3 days a week). We’re hoping to focus on some different things this year, but I would like to get back into running and hit a few more casual races.

So I’m going to stop now, before I over-commit (or maybe it’s too late for that). It’s definitely going to be a busy year! Thanks for reading, and cheers, to 2016!

ORC: Cozy Neutral Bedroom Reveal!

You guys. It’s the final week of my first ever One Room Challenge. Hard to believe that I started this little project six weeks ago. Almost harder to believe that I managed to put up a blog post for 6 consecutive weeks (plus one bonus post, it may be a record!)

If you missed it, Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5

I am so excited to share this with you, I could pee my pants! It turned out even dreamier than I was hoping. But first…

Huge thanks to Linda at Calling it Home, for hosting such an awesome event and letting Joe Schmos like me get in on the action. Between the weekly deadlines, the encouragement from other participants, and the inspiration from all of the other transformations going on, this was just the kick in the ass that I needed to make some serious changes to our overly dark and slightly drab master bedroom.

I started here with this mood board, and a sort of to-do list. Meaning, some to-dos, and some possibly/maybe to-dos.

Looking at this again now, I have to say – I think our bedroom turned out even better than my inspiration! We did get ourselves into a little more work than I had planned originally, but all in all – it wasn’t that hard. It helps that we had some extra cash this month to splurge a bit, and I also have the world’s handiest and most supportive husband. If I had unlimited funds and a little more time, I would update and decorate all day every day!

I’ll get to the big reveal in a second, but just in case you forgot, let’s look at some before photos!


Ok. It’s probably not the very worst space that you could imagine, but also not the magazine-worthy, pretty oasis that I want to lounge in all weekend and show off to our guests.

But that was then.

So without further ado! Welcome to our new bedroom…

Beautiful, right?! At least I think so!

Reagan was kind enough to model for the shoot, and also to match the color palette. Thanks, Reag.

My H&M throw pillow covers came just in time, and I think they are a perfect addition of pattern/texture and just a hint of that amazing blush color that I was going for. You may recognize this gold threaded cable knit blanket from my inspiration board. It’s a West Elm splurge, but I just love it. It’s super soft and cozy.

We added some finishing touches with our DIY rose gold projects this week as well. I printed these wedding photos forever ago. It’s about time I got them framed and hung up!! These frames and the $6 bowl that I got at TJ Maxx turned out so much better than I even expected. Spray paint. It’s magical.

You saw our DIY color cord pendant lights going in last week, and I couldn’t be happier with the warm, modern (but also vintage-y) light that these bring to our space! The best part is, these LED Edison Bulbs are only 3 watt each, so we can leave them on in the evening without using hardly any energy.

My old DIY necklace hanger shelf got a re-fresh, and our dresser tops are looking better than ever. The Ikea lack bedside tables won out over any pricey new actual bedside tables that we considered, and I think they still look great.

OH! And of course, I haven’t officially shown off our luxurious sheepskin rug until this week. Believe it or not, Reagan wouldn’t touch this thing the first day/night after we took it out of the box. Clearly, she’s over it.

So that is that, folks! I couldn’t be happier with how this turned out, and I’m so happy you stopped by to follow along.

Of course, I won’t leave you without my source and price list. And one Before and After, because why not.


Walls: Behr Premium Plus Ultra – Swiss Coffee in Eggshell finish – Home Depot – $32.98/gallon

Trim and Doors: Valspar – Ultra White in Semi-Gloss finish – We had stock in our basement, but probably something similar to this. – Lowes – $89.86/5 gallon

Jewelry Shelf: Behr Premium Plus Ultra – Mineral in Eggshell finish – Home Depot – $2.94/8 oz. sample

Light Brackets: Behr Premium Plus Ultra – Cotton Blossom – Home Depot – $2.94/8 oz. sample

Picture Frames and Bowl: Krylon Metallic Spray Paint in Copper – Michaels – $6.99


Linen Luxury Textured Faux Linen – TJ Maxx – $19.99 for (2) panels


Sheets: Calvin Klein Cotton Sateen Sheets in Ivory – TJ Maxx – $39.99

Bedskirt: Threshold Wrinkle-Resistant Bedskirt in Ivory – Target – $27.99 for a queen size

Duvet Cover: Queen Linen Duvet Set in Dark Gray (duvet cover and 2 standard pillow cases) – H&M – $129 (Get it for $103 if you sign up for H&M emails and receive a 20% off coupon!)

Throw Pillow Covers: Linen Cushion Cover in Light Pink – $9.99, Cotton Cushion Cover in Gray Pattern – $12.99, H&M

Blanket: St Jude Metallic Yarn Knit Throw – Unfortunately, no longer available at West Elm. I snagged one just in time!


TJ Maxx – $15.99


Headboard: DIY project, materials from Home Depot – $55

Jewelry Shelf: DIY project from a few years ago (shelf, with added board and trim from Michaels, knobs from Hobby Lobby), repainted in Behr Mineral

Faux Florals: $3.67 at Michaels. Apparently the first week in November is when EVERYTHING Christmas comes out, the regular floral selection is cut down to one small clearance rack, and you can get $20 worth of stems for less than 4 dollars.

Bowl: TJ Maxx – $5.99, DIY “Dip-painted” with Krylon Metallic Spray Paint in Copper

Wooden Dresser Organizer: TJ Maxx – $12.99

Picture Frames: Studio Decor Home Collection Flat Frame 11″x14″ – Michaels – $29.99 (BOGO Free), DIY painted with Krylon Metallic Spray Paint in Copper

Wedding Photos: Printed with Mpix – $18.41 with 50% off sale


Auskin Sheepskin Longwool Rug – Four Pelt – Sierra Trading Post – $299 (I got mine for $192 with a deal flyer email from Sierra, they offer different extra sales all the time if you subscribe to their emails).


DIY Fabric Wire in Copper Penny – Color Cord Company – $1.80/ft

Rose Keyed Socket – Color Cord Company – $20 each

Rubber Plug End in White – Color Cord Company – $4 each

LED Edison Bulb – Amazon – $13.88 each

Ekby Valter Bracket – Ikea – $4 each

I think that’s it! Now. I’m off to cuddle up in bed, finish my wine and check out more of the awesome designer transformations at Calling it Home. Yes, I drink wine in bed. Do you blame me?

Simple DIY Wooden Headboard

If you’ve been following along, you know I made a last-minute decision to participate in Linda at Calling it Home’s One Room Challenge this fall, and give our bedroom a little makeover. I’ve added a few to-dos to my list along the way, and I thought the DIY headboard that we completed this week was worth sharing on its own!

While browsing Pinterest one night, I found this DIY headboard post by Britt at My Daily Randomness, and loved the simplicity and rustic warmth that it brings to a neutral room. Perfect for the look I’m going for.

So, full disclaimer, while I would love to take creative credit for this beauty, I pretty much replicated the look of Britt’s headboard exactly. The one modification that we made was to mount the horizontal boards to a vertical frame, rather than screwing the boards to the wall.

Extra-full disclaimer, Jesse did most of the engineering for the headboard, and the bulk of the carpentry work. He’s a keeper.

I did get in on the staining, and assembling of the board. And I’m here to overload you with photos and share the how-to. So that’s something.

Materials list:

  • (4) 1″x8″x6′ Knotty Pine Boards (or “Common Boards” according to Home Depot)
  • (3) 1″x4″x6′ Knotty Pine Boards/Common Boards
  • 6 x 1 1/4″ Interior Wood Screws
  • 3/8″ Button Plugs, Birch
  • Stain. We used Watco Danish Oil, because we already had some on hand and it happened to be the exact color that I wanted – Dark Walnut.
  • 1 box Command Picture Hanging Strips, Large

Tools needed:

  • A saw to cut your boards to length. We used our radial arm saw. Or, you could have Home Depot cut them for you.
  • Sand paper/block
  • Rags and/or foam brushes
  • Drill/Driver
  • 3/8″ Forstner Bit (drills flat bottomed holes so you don’t have to drill as deep to allow for a counter-sunk screw)
  • Tape Measure
  • Speed square or drafting triangle, if you have one available
  • Wood Glue (optional – we didn’t end up using this to glue the wood plugs in – they are pretty snug right now. I don’t know if the wood might shrink or adjust and these will loosen up eventually.)

Cut your boards to size.

We cut our 8″ boards to 64″ lengths using our radial arm saw. Our queen mattress is 60″ wide, so we wanted the headboard to stick out a couple of inches on each side.

For the vertical legs, we first used a piece of cardboard to decide how high we wanted the headboard to sit above the bed. We then measured from the top of the cardboard to the top of our baseboard, planning to have the verticals sit on top of the baseboard.

We liked about 43″ above the baseboard, which is roughly 4′ from the floor. Knowing that we wanted the vertical boards to hide 3/4″ below the top of the 8″ top horizontal board, we cut our vertical boards 42″ long to frame the headboard. Quick spoiler, when we thought we were completely done and ready to mount our headboard, we decided that we wanted it a little bit lower. We ended up cutting 2″ off of the legs, so they are now 40″ long.

Our original plan was to double up the vertical legs at the bottom to allow for the headboard to stand on the floor, and work around the baseboard. Like so.

However, the quarter round trim at the bottom threw a wrench in the plan. Jesse even tried using a handsaw to cut a 45° angle out of the board, but it wasn’t enough to clear the quarter round and reach the floor.

So, in the end we just decided to let the verticals sit on top of the baseboard. Our plan was to secure the headboard to the wall with command velcro strips, so it doesn’t need a ton of structural support from the floor.

Sand and Stain.

We used a wood block and some 120 grit sandpaper to give the boards a good sanding. This is important to ensure your stain will apply smoothly. We tested the stain first on an un-sanded scrap board, and it turned out pretty splotchy.

After you have sanded all of your 8″ boards on the front and the edges, it’s a good idea to take a dry rag with some texture to it, and give the boards a good wipe down to get rid of any dust.

Once that’s done, you are ready for stain. We tested the stain on the pine with both a foam brush and a t-shirt, and decided we liked a combination of both for best application. We applied the first coat using an old t-shirt as a rag. The t-shirt soaks up a lot of the stain, but applies a nice thin coat as a sort of “primer”, without soaking into the wood too much in certain areas.

We then applied a second coat with a foam brush, trying to squeeze most of the excess stain out of the brush prior to applying. It definitely darkened up and brought out more of the grain with the second coat.

We stained the front and edges of our 8″ boards, as well as our 3 1/2″ vertical boards for the frame.

Once you are happy with your stain, let the boards dry overnight.

Layout and Assemble.

This is the part that Jesse tackled, while I was making dinner. We wanted the vertical frame to be 60″ wide, so that it would line up with our mattress. We also decided that the vertical frame pieces would sit 3/4″ down from the top.

Jesse marked out the screw locations at 1 1/2″ from the top and bottom of each horizontal board, and 3 3/4″ in from the edge. (Because our vertical legs sit 2″ in from the edge of the boards, this would put the screws right in the center of the 3 1/2″ wide verticals.)

We also marked out screw locations in the center for our third vertical support.

He then used the forstner bit to drill down about 3/16″ at each of the screw locations, on the front of the horizontal boards.

Once you have these marked out, you are ready to lay out your outer verticals and start attaching.

This took a lot of lining up, measuring, adjusting, and measuring again.

When you have the top horizontal board in the right location on the frame, you can drill through the center of your screw location until you hit the vertical board behind, so that you have a pilot hole for your screw.

Attach the top two outer screws on your top board to the outer frame first. Measure between your outside verticals at the top and the bottom, as well as diagonally from the top corner to the bottom opposite to ensure you are keeping the frame square.

Decide how much space you want between your horizontal boards. We used a couple of different drill bits to space them out, and decided that we liked a 1/4″ gap.

Space your horizontal boards evenly using a drill bit, check again to be sure your diagonal dimensions match, and screw each board to the outer verticals.

Mount the center vertical last. We marked the center on a piece of painter’s tape, to line up with the center of the vertical leg. We then carefully pushed that down to 3/4″ below the top before screwing together.

We liked the look of the un-stained birch wood plugs to cover the recessed screws. They fit perfectly and are quite snug, so we didn’t end up securing them with wood glue.

Looking pretty good, right??

We thought we were done and ready to mount the headboard. When we saw it against the wall, we decided we wanted it to sit 2″ lower. Jesse made some quick adjustments, and we also decided to cut the center vertical off flush with the bottom of the headboard, so it just stands on two legs.

Mount to the wall, and admire your hard work!

We used some large velcro-type Command strips to secure our headboard to the wall. Those things are genius.

And that is it! This project took us 2 evenings after work and a few hours over the weekend. It’s a pretty easy DIY that has a big impact!

ORC: Cozy Neutral Bedroom Week 3

Hey all, and welcome to the halfway point of this little challenge I’ve gotten myself into. If you’re just jumping in, you can catch up on where I started with week 1 and week 2. I think it’s safe to say this might have been the most productive week of my 6 total in the ORC. And most definitely the most expensive (oops). Some serious progress is being made over here, so let’s get to it!


I am SO relieved to say that I think we made the exact right decision on the perfect white paint for this cozy neutral bedroom in the works. Last week I had tested out three Behr whites (or to be more accurate, two whites and one greige) to give a fresh look to our bedroom walls. The “before” state of the room with its yellow-beige walls was getting old and felt super dark. I chose the Behr Swiss Coffee, but was pretty nervous that it was going to be too close to the existing white trim. I mean, I want white but not TOO white. Ya dig? It’s always so hard to tell how a color is going to turn out when you are mid-rolling it on the wall, staring at it from 12″ away. Even after we had one whole wall painted, I wasn’t sure.

I was reminded of that time we stained our DIY cedar fence, and after the first couple hours (of approximately 1 bajillion hours that it took us to stain that fence), we were like “ohhhhh shit. does this even look good? did we screw up?!”

But you can’t un-stain. So we kept at it. About half-way around the outside of the fence, someone drove by, leaned out the window, and yelled, “Looking good!!” So we were redeemed. Some random kind soul was so taken by our good taste in stain that they felt compelled to slow down and tell us about it.

We didn’t have any drive-bys in the bedroom, but after lots of second-guessing, about 2.5 coats on 3 walls, and a run to HD to buy another gallon of paint because I totally underestimated, I could tell. We did good. It was looking awesome.

Not a great photo, but we’ll save those for the big reveal, yeah?

I also waffled back and forth about if we’ll need to give the trim and doors a fresh coat of the Valspar Ultra White that we found in the basement. While the color worked out great with the new walls, whoever painted before we bought the house didn’t do a super solid job. It’s a bit old looking (but that’s just rustic, right?), and there are areas where you can kind of see through to the darker substrate. I’m thinking we’ll stick with it for now, and if we really feel like pulling everything out from the walls again, we’ll freshen it up. Someday.


My gray linen duvet cover from H&M arrived last week (!) in just 4 days after I placed the order. I haven’t put it on the bed yet, but my initial review is: So much softer than expected! Beautiful dark gray, just as I was hoping for.

There are a few little “slubs” in the fabric, and I’m not sure if that’s something I should be concerned about or not. I think it’s probably inherent to linen, but I’m a newbie to this luxury. Wikipedia says that while these used to be considered defects in low-quality linen, they are actually now often “considered as part of the aesthetic appeal of an expensive natural product”. So. I’m guess I’m super fancy.


I had taken a picture of some faux linen curtains at TJ Maxx (my new favorite store), that were available in either tan or gray.

I was considering trying to find some simple cream-colored curtains, but didn’t find anything online that I had to have for a great price. My friend Julie and I enjoyed a lady day Saturday and got all Maxxinista on some shit. I pulled the trigger on the curtains, and found a new dog bed for Reagan.

New Rug!!

Ok. This is a big deal. Initially, I wasn’t sure if I was going to replace our colorful, too small rug that we had at the foot of the bed. I was also falling in love with the look of these sheepskin rugs that I have been seeing all over my pinspiration. So luxurious.

I mentioned this to Jesse, and he said that Sierra Trading Post just so happens to have some sheepskin for sale right now. If you’re not familiar with STP, you should be. It’s a huge outdoor store that originated right here in ol’ Cheyenne, Wyoming. They sell tons of great clothing and outdoor gear at seriously discounted prices. They also sell high-end stuff like this tuxedo for the bargain price of $899.95 (that’s 46% off!). Weird, right? The brick and mortar store in town is hit-or-miss (sometimes you find nothing good, sometimes you get a Marmot ski coat for $20 – true story, that happened). But you can find almost anything online, including all kinds of home-ware.

Of course, sheepskin rugs are not cheap. So when I saw that Sierra had this 4 pelt rug for $330 on sale, I knew I couldn’t do it. I did some searching, and found some pretty affordable single pelt options. I found one real sheepskin rug at TJ Maxx for $50 (buried in a pile of about 10 faux furs):

Even Ikea offers a sheepskin, for $29.99! But I knew I wanted something larger if I was going to replace the rug we had. So I thought I might have to go with something simple, like this (also found at the Maxx).

However, Sierra Trading Post pulled through with their daily email “deal flyer” that I subscribe to. Usually, they’re offering something like an additional 35% off select items (above their regular sale prices). One day last week, I got this in my inbox:

For one day only, the four pelt rug was a total of 68% off, putting it at $192. Eeeeek! Still, a lot of money. So I did some research before I made any rash decisions. I read about 30 of the 143 reviews on the Sierra site, and all of them were insanely good. Everyone is like “I loved it so much, I bought three more!”,”Amazing quality!”, and even “Not only beautiful, but great protection from a house full of pets”. You people really know the way to my heart.

Not knowing much about quality/durability and wanting to be thorough, I googled a little more on sheepskin. This was the best article I found. Lots of detail on quality, eco-friendliness, and shopping options for sheepskin. AND, it says that “Genuine sheepskin rugs of consisting of 4 to 6 pelts start at around $300.00 and run up to $700.00”.

Clearly, I couldn’t afford NOT to splurge on this huge, longwool sheepskin rug for under $200. I ordered it, and picked it up at the STP warehouse last weekend. And holy crap. It is amazing. So warm. So luxurious. Beautiful. Makes getting out of bed so much more pleasurable. I’m tempted to join all of those reviewers that went back for several more.


Last week, added a DIY headboard to my to-do list. (To-do-maybe). This week, we went ahead and bought supplies while we were at Home Depot getting paint. When in Rome.

I came home from work on Monday to my sexy/handy/ambitious husband hard at work in the garage.

We’ve spent two nights so far working on it, and I think it’s going to be GREAT. Here’s a sneak peak.

Spending for the week:

  • Paint – Home Depot Behr Swiss Coffee, 2 gallons, and misc. supplies – $76
  • Headboard lumber and supplies from Home Depot – $40
  • Headboard screws/tools from Lowes – $15
  • Curtains from TJ Maxx – $40
  • Dog Bed from TJ Maxx – $16
  • Sheepskin Rug from Sierra Trading Post – $202
  • Cable Knit Blanket from West Elm – $70

Total damage this week: $474


Really though, this should be the majority of my spending. Plus, we’re basically going to live in the bedroom now. Forever.

Quick look at the to-do list:

  • Paint
  • New bedding – Still in need of a bedskirt and maybe some shams.
  • New curtains
  • Update artwork/wall hangings
  • Organize tops of dressers – In the works.
  • Possibly a new rug
  • Possibly update lighting/lamps – found some awesome stuff, and I really will share next week. Maybe.
  • Plants?
  • DIY Headboard – In progress!

And if you are thirsty for more inspiration, check out all of the awesome progress being made by other ORC participants, over at Calling it Home!

Next up: Week 4

Some blogger love + Friday Five – Summer’s Halfway Over?!

Oh hey, mid-July. I didn’t see you there.

Is anyone else shocked at how quickly this summer is flying by? I haven’t blogged in almost a month (the horror!), but don’t get your panties all in a bunch. I’m still here.

I’ve also been feeling slightly overwhelmed and discouraged by blogging at times. If you’re a blogger too, you know – it’s hard. Really hard. Especially if you have an actual day job where you may work 50 hours a week, or, I don’t know… kids (I hear they’re a lot of work too). Everything there is to learn, the social media, SEO and promotion, the pressure to post great content, and OFTEN, gain followers and traffic can be just plain exhausting. That’s why I found it pretty refreshing to hear some different perspectives from Hannah and Kristen. Two of my favorite bloggers, both very successful, and with different stories to tell. Their situations may be quite a bit different from mine, but bottom line, they reminded me that it’s OK to do this because I enjoy it. I also have a big blog crush on Lindsay. I love reading her blog because it’s genuine, fun, and HILARIOUS. Just try to read this stuff and not laugh. So I’m trying to remember to just do me. Blogging can be crazy time-consuming, but I think it’s more important that I’m having fun – even if I only have a few readers – than to stress out wishing that I could do more and make money and become famous.

Now enough with the sappy stuff. What the heck have we been up to?! Glad you asked.

I thought I’d try something new, and do a little Friday Five. Mid-Summer Edition. Here are some of the things I’m into slash upto this summer:

1. Beer! The Wyoming Brewer’s Fest is held annually in Cheyenne, this year it was June 19-20. There were 27 Breweries on the attendance list, mostly from Wyoming and Colorado. Plus a few randoms like Deschutes out of Oregon, and Green Flash from California.\

Jesse and I were lucky to have some brewer/distributor friends that were able to get us complimentary tickets, and we poured for several booths, met so many cool people, basically acted like we owned the place. SO MUCH FUN!!

2. Visits with Friends! After our 1/2 Marathon in June, we went to a wedding reception in Lead, South Dakota. It was so great to see lots of friends that we only manage to get together with a couple of times a year. We drank moonshine, hung out, and of course, cut a rug.

We spent a few days in Downtown Denver, while Jesse attended a conference and I planned to take a couple of days off to lay around but ended up having to actually work (womp womp). I was able to commute into my company’s Denver office, so it was a change of scenery at least. If you’re looking for good eats in Downtown Denver, go to TAG. Taco Sushi, Kobe Sliders with Duck Fat Fries, and Jalapeño cocktails. GUHHHH.

We got together with one of my best friends from college, who is now living in Denver and completing his medical residency along with his wife and being super awesome in general. We stayed out drinking way too late for a work night and it was totally fun and totally worth it.

We also had one of Jesse’s groomsmen in town for a couple of days from Montana, and we got to meet his girlfriend for the first time. Also drank some beer. Also super awesome!

We spent the 4th of July in Denver at our friend Marshall’s folks’ place. They threw a big party, complete with BBQ, glow sticks, and car bomb races. ‘MERICA.

3. Not running. Dammit. Yes. It’s true. I did it again. I always tell myself I’m going to keep running after a half marathon. And I always take more time off than I should. We were considering running a second half this summer in South Dakota (would have been last weekend). After our brutal race in June, we figured we deserved a week off. One week turned into a few, and we hadn’t registered for the SD run, so we opted to stay home. It’s now been almost a month, and I’ve run a total of 3 times. One of which was a 5k race, which I somehow ended up winning my age group even though I was quite hungover from catching up with friends the night before (see #2).

I am, however, signed up to run the Ragnar Colorado on August 7th-8th, a 200(ish) mile relay with 12 person teams, 3 legs each. Yikes. Time to get it together!

4. Gardening. Slowly but surely. One of my goals for the year was to grow some stuff. We finally replanted our little corner bed, which had about 3 little bush type things in it when we bought the house. They died. (Maybe because we never watered them, ever?) So it was nice to finally pick out some perennials that should require very little maintenance, and come back every year.

We also re-seeded about 2/3 of our lawn, which was pretty much destroyed due to not having a sprinkler system and having a crazy dog who ran her ball along the fence and around the yard all winter. We’ve tried to re-seed before. A couple times. Apparently we did something right this year, because we are growing grass like fricking CHAMPS.

LOOK AT IT. It looks so good. The insane amount of rain we have gotten since late spring didn’t hurt. I also planted my tiny vegetable garden (which I started in the house from seed), and while it’s a little late, it is looking pretty good. FINALLY, I got some flowers for the pots on our front steps. Whew.

5. Pretending I’m a photographer. I took Ashley Ann Photography’s SnapShop phone course. It was short and sweet, a self-paced reading course that you have access to for 3 weeks. The content of the course was pretty basic, but I really loved how she explains things in conversational terms, and provides lots of examples and inspiration. The fact that the course was specifically for phone photography was awesome, because I’m not about to buy a DSLR and haul it around. For now anyway. While my photos aren’t always the best, I picked up some great tips on composition and lighting, as well as some super practical stuff like – tips to organize and archive digital photos, phone editing apps and printing options. More than anything, I’ve been consciously taking more photos. Kind of fun.

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So that’s what has been keeping me busy! Hopefully it won’t be another month until you hear from me again.

What have you been up to this summer? Any tips for when blogging gets overwhelming? 

Sandhills Half Marathon Recap: Thoughts and Lessons Learned from the Worst Race of My Life

This is a story about that time that I thought I could win the Sandhills Half Marathon.

I was right on pace for the first two miles.

Then I thought I was going to die.

Then I learned some serious racing lessons.

And I finished.

Weekend before last, I ran the Sandhills Half. It was the. hardest. race I’ve ever run. And it had nothing to do with the race itself, or the course, which couldn’t get much better. It just was not my day. Not at all.

So before I get into the miserable details of my personal experience this year, let me give you the backstory about this race.

It’s in the sandhills (duh) of Nebraska, near a town called Brownlee. Population: 15 (as of 2010). Jesse grew up about 25 miles from where the race is held. Aka: “the middle of god-damned nowhere” (his words, not mine). It is beautiful. There is next to zero cell phone service, and lots of rolling hills, windmills, wildflowers, and cattle.

The course is FLAT (one teeny uphill and a total elevation decrease of about 200 ft), and is run on a narrow “oil road”. It’s at 2,867′ elevation, and it’s a fast course. The race offers both a full and half marathon, and is limited to about 140 people between the two races. Registration opens up at midnight on New Years day, and typically sells out within 24 hours. It’s not the most well organized race that I’ve ever run. (e.g., they pick everyone up at the finish area at 6:15 a.m., and bus you out 13.1 miles to the start. This year, there was only one porta-potty at the pickup location, because apparently the other porta-potty guy had an issue and was running late. You distance runners know how important that Pre-Run Poop is, and one john for 70 people is just not going to cut it. So we waited for everyone to get through the line, and the bus left about 20 minutes late). But, the race is small and laid back. AND they do have traveling portas hauled on truck trailers that drive along the course and pull over for runners. So that’s something.

Last year, it took several months for the results to be posted. I was super impressed that results and photos were online within two weeks this year – a much appreciated improvement!! Overall, it’s an awesome race. I would highly recommend it.

We ran this 1/2 for the first time last year, and here’s how it went that time. I stuck to my 10 week training plan for the first 5 weeks of training, and only found time for 2 runs per week for the second 5 weeks. I was in the best shape of my life. I forgot to put on deodorant the morning of the race, and PANICKED when I realized it. We were on the bus heading out to the starting line. There was nothing I could do except freak out about how bad I was going to smell, and oh god, what if my armpits chafe the whole time?! Luckily, it was pretty much freezing that morning. Completely overcast, humid, about 43 degrees and windy. As it turned out, no deodorant was not even an issue. I didn’t notice it at all comfort-wise, and I hardly broke a sweat in the chilly weather. And I was FAST. I use Strava to track my runs, and have it set to announce every half mile and my pace. My first two miles were sub 7 minutes (wowza), and I had to consciously try to slow myself down. I then settled into a pace between 7:15 and 7:35 for the remaining 11 miles, and felt like I could go on like that forever. I had that runner’s high, and nothing was slowing me down. I was warmed up so the cold didn’t bother me, the wind was at our backs, and I was loving the scenery. In my head I was like:

This is so beautiful!

I feel great!

Mile 9 already?

I can’t believe how easy this is!

I PR’ed by about 5 minutes, clocking in a time of 1 hour, 37 minutes, 12 seconds. I came in second place, because there was some freak of nature female from the UK who beat me by 12 minutes. I was bummed when we waited around for awards, and they only announced and awarded a trophy to THE winning male and female in each race. No top 3, no age divisions, and they didn’t even announce the winning time (say what?)! Still. I felt amazing, and had run my best race.

So, this year, I was back to win. Spoiler alert: I didn’t.

Here’s how it went.

Jesse and I both stuck pretty closely to our training plan. I’m sure I put in more miles this year, but I still only run 3 days a week at the most. We built up to a 12 mile training run, so we were well prepared for the 13.1 distance. For some reason though, a lot of our later training runs just felt hard. We tapered for the last two weeks leading up to the race, so I should have been well-rested.

I try not to be a health food snob. I don’t worry too much about what I eat in general. I know we could do better, but we don’t eat out real often and cook decent stuff at home. However, I think I did probably got a little too lax about my pre-race fuel. I didn’t argue when Jesse and I stopped at McDonald’s Friday morning on our way out of town to Nebraska. Sausage McMuffin with Egg and Cheese? Yep. I’m lovin it. We also managed to skip lunch after arriving in Nebraska, but I drank plenty of water and only one beer Friday afternoon. I did wonder if stuffing my face with the pre-race dinner that my MIL prepared was a bad idea, but I figured I’d be ok. I was happy to have an awesome meal so I didn’t complain. We had chips and guac, smoked ribs, pasta salad, veggies, and cake for dessert. Could be worse, right? I’m guessing my food choices might have had something to do with how my race went on Saturday.

I woke up on the morning of, feeling great. My legs were rested, I had my race outfit laid out, and I put deodorant on. WIN! I ate a half bagel with peanut butter, and sipped on coffee and water on the 40 minute drive out the race. Made my pit stop at the lone porta potty, the bus loaded up and we were on our way.

It was much warmer this year, clear skies and maybe 60° at the start. The (literal) shotgun went off and I told myself:

Don’t go out too fast.

Damn, this chick in the pink with the Boston back tatt is serious.

Keep your eye on her. Don’t go out too fast. This is a long game.

I should make small talk with these people. So they don’t think I’m an asshole.

“Where are you from? (Sterling). Colorado? (No, Nebraska, near Lincoln.) Oh, nice. (Have you run this before?) Yeah, I ran this race last year, you?”

Good, now I’m not an asshole.

Mile 1 – 7:26

I’m right on pace. Good job.

This headwind sucks.

Pink lady is within my reach. I’ve got 12 miles to catch her. Don’t blow it.

Mile 2 – 7:16

Still on pace. I can negative split my second half at this rate.

And then, I got a horrible side stitch during mile 3. You know. One of those sharp, nearly crippling stabs in your gut. This has only happened to me ONCE before in my racing career, and it is about impossible to run through. And I thought:


It’s over.

What if I’m fighting this for the next two hours? It’s going to be all I can do to finish.

I walked for a couple minutes, gripping my side and trying to breathe out for as long as I could with each breath.

My race is over.

This just doesn’t happen to me. 

I’m finally having that bad race that you hear about. 

After all these years, I’m finally realizing that I’m not invincible.

I slowly started to jog again when the pain had subsided. Right about at that time, I heard footsteps approaching from behind. It was a guy and the girl that I had chatted with briefly after the start. I moved over to the road shoulder and we exchanged a “good job” as they passed. But all I could think was:

Great. These people think I’m a total dumbass. Who goes out like a bat out of hell, and then has to walk mile 3?

Mile 3 – 9:20

Great, I already lost a couple of minutes. I was then stuck with nothing but the open road, the sun, and my thoughts for a grueling 10.1 miles. It was a huge emotional roller coaster, and a really really tough physical challenge. I caught up to the pair that had passed me, and debated about whether to pass. Knowing that I had a lot of miles ahead of me, and scared that my side stitch would return, I didn’t want to overdo it. So after awkwardly trying to run beside these two on the shoulder, I settled in behind them for a bit. (The race organizers had asked everyone to run 2 wide at the most, as it was on a narrow road without much shoulder).

I said “sorry guys, I’m not trying to push you over.”

Not trying to be an asshole.

The gal from Sterling asked if I wanted to pass, and I said “No, you’re good. I got a side ache out of nowhere.”

In case you didn’t know? Am I making excuses?

She said “Yeah, I saw you holding your side. You ok now?”

“Yeah, I’m good. Just hoping it doesn’t come back.”

So I’m running a step behind these two, trying not to waste too much energy during the first half of the race, and I realize how annoying it can be when someone is drafting off of you. Which is exactly what I’m doing to these two.

God, what an asshole move.

Now I’m an idiot who doesn’t know how to pace, and an asshole.

I should be happy for these people. I want them to do well, right?

Yeah. It’s not about competition. It’s about a supportive community.

So sometime around mile 4 (8:31), I made a move around these two. Then, I had some slightly irrational and short-lived thoughts about

Maybe I could still win. Wouldn’t that be crazy?

It could happen.

Mile 5 – 7:54

I’m no longer here to win. 

Just finishing is going to be just fine.

I should be more proud of myself for running through this than for just having a great race.

I’m overcoming adversity, or some shit.

Mile 6 – 7:59

It quickly warmed up, and felt flat out miserable HOT at about 75°. I felt bad for complaining about the cold last year.

Oh my god. That sun is horrible. 

I am going to die. 

I would do anything to get that cold weather back.

This will all be over in about an hour. Suck it up.

Mile 7 – 8:01

Wow, Brownlee sure came up fast! 

Maybe I’m going to be ok. 

Thank god for this shade.

There is one turn on this course that takes you off of the main highway and down the road about 1/2 mile into Brownlee, then you turn around and make your way back to the highway and continue on. I was so thankful for the sidewind breeze and a couple minutes of shade at this point. I took a water at the turn-around point, and walked for 30 seconds or so to drink a bit. I was also happy to see Jesse as he came down and I was headed back, and get a high five as we passed each other.

The next three miles kind of blurred together, but not because they went by fast. They were really slow and really tough. I was thinking things like:

Mile 8 – 8:33

I’m a full minute slower than my goal pace.

It’s ok. Any time is ok.

I just want to finish.

Why is this SO HARD?

I know it’s pretty out here, but this sucks.

I am not having fun. 

I should be thankful. I GET to run. Not everybody can do this.

Mile 9 – 8:32

More of the same. And also:

This is horrible. But it’s going to make a great blog post. 

Unless I die.

And then: Mile 10 – 8:32

Thank god. Mile 10. 

I can do anything for 3 miles. 

Right? RIGHT??

I’m not sure I’m going to make it.

Mile 11 – 8:57

I took another small bottle of water at the last aid station, somewhere shortly after the Mile 11 mark. One of the volunteers asked if I wanted an energy gel, I hesitated, and said no. (I’ve never eaten an energy gel during a race. I rarely take water – last year I only took a few sips at one stop, around mile 10.) But I immediately regretted it turning it down.

Damn it! I should have taken the gel. 

I’m dying. The sugar could have saved me.

Is it too late to turn around?

It’s too late. 

I can do anything for 2 miles. Right?

Less than 20 minutes. I can do this.

At this point I had made it to the very last, very long stretch of road to the finish line. It’s about 2.5 miles remaining after the last big curve in the road, and there is a grove of trees along the North side of the road that I remembered distinctly as being a sign that the end is near. Unfortunately, they provide very little shade on the road, and the sun was blazing. You can also see them from a ways back, and holy shit, did it take FOREVER to get there.

Mile 12 – 8:45

It’s so f*$%ing hot. 

It’s a billion degrees.

I will never make it to those trees.

The guy that was running with the chick from Sterling passed me. I told him “Nice job. Way to finish.” And I meant it. I wasn’t upset. I was secretly relieved that Sterling wasn’t with him. But if she was, I would have been happy for her too. Really. He then made a comment about how “That’s a nice sight to see” (referencing all the cars and people in the distance). We then both said something about the heat, mine was along the lines of “it’s killing me.”

No really. I think I might die.

Just get to the finish line.

It will all be over, and you can drink a beer.

Then I went into a chant in my head, for what felt like 20 minutes.

You can do this. Don’t stop moving your legs. This is ok. Any time is ok. You can do this. Don’t stop moving your legs. This is ok. Any time is ok. 

I also kept thinking that I was closer than I actually was to the finish. Strava announced 12.5 miles and I thought it should have been 13 (I was slightly delusional at this point, and my judge of distance was clearly off).

Mother f*$%er! You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m never going to make it another half mile.

This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

You can do this. Don’t stop moving your legs. This is ok. Any time is ok.

Mile 13 – 8:26

Thank god.

Mile 13.1 – 7:48 pace – I somehow managed to kick it in. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so glad to cross a finish line. My final time was 1:48:08. 11 minutes slower than last year, but still not bad by any means. I know a lot of people would be thrilled with this time. And I’m really not beating myself up for it, I realize it’s pretty damn good. When I say it was the worst race of my life, I mean physically and mentally the hardest for me personally.

So while it felt like one of the most miserable running experiences I’ve ever had, I am so glad that I finished. I also had plenty of time to think about things. I feel like I had several running epiphanies that are good to keep in mind going into any distance race, and here they are:

1. You aren’t invincible. And neither am I. You can’t have a great race, every time. I don’t know why I thought I could. Maybe it’s the fact that I typically only sign up for one half marathon a year, so I damn well better have a good race. But it was good for me to finally get knocked down, and realize that it’s still a big accomplishment to finish.

2. You can’t control how anyone else does that day. You never know who’s going to show up. And you never know if they’ll have the best race, or the worst, of their life. Whether it’s a phenom from the UK, or a tough chick with a back tatt, you don’t know who you’re going up against, what their training has been like, or if they chose spaghetti over ribs.

3. The racing community is supportive. People want you to do well. They may or may not be there to compete, but they’re almost always friendly. Everyone is in the same boat as you. Whether you are on track to run 1:35:00 or just trying to be under 3 hours, everyone that is putting themselves through this is in pain to some degree. If it were easy, everybody would do it. It’s a big deal to run a half marathon, and those that are doing it with you understand what you’re going through.

4. Pre-race fueling IS important. I tried to act like tough shit, thinking I could eat whatever I want and still run well. I think I’ve officially been dis-proven. There’s no telling how many factors actually contributed to my bad race day, but I’m almost positive that a mcmuffin and bbq ribs the day before were major culprits. I’m thinking I’ll stick to pasta next time.

5. The most important thing is how you approach the race mentally. You’ve put your training miles in. You have to trust that you’re prepared, and remember that there is nothing you can do day of to change the physical shape that you are in. You may get some blisters, or fight through some joint pain. But assuming you don’t get an actual running injury, your legs will get you to the finish. It’s all about telling yourself that you can do it. And yes, your mind may be all OVER the place. 13 miles is a long time to be alone with your thoughts, and it’s hard to stay away from thinking negatively. But know that you can do it, and tell yourself that. Even if what you’re really thinking is that you’re going to die.

Have you experienced a bad race day? Any tips to prepare? What are your favorite pre-race foods?

June Boarding – Medicine Bow Peak

Looks like a nice ski trip, but why are you posting these snowboard pics to fb now, when your trip must have been months ago? 

But. It’s June. I didn’t realize they run ski lifts that late.

Soooo…. wait, what?

Jesse and I both used to live in Eastern Kansas, and these are some of the responses we get when we try to tell our friends from the flatlands (whom I love dearly) about our annual June hike/snowboard trip up Medicine Bow Peak. Med Bow Peak is one of my favorite places in Wyoming. Scratch that. In the world.

It was featured on our wedding save-the-date (designed by yours, truly).

It was also the backdrop to several of our pre-ceremony wedding party photos.

It’s the reason we skipped our long run this past Saturday. And it’s a whole lot of bad-ass. So get ready for a pic-heavy post, because even though the photos don’t quite do it justice, I just can’t really put it into words. Also I apologize in advance for getting a little braggy. Or maybe it’s too late for that.

After stuffing our faces with the breakfast of champions (the original West-Mex, Taco Johns), we started our trek on the side of the road near the base of the mountain. It was a beautiful day to start.

The monsoon we now know as “May” benefited the snow situation on the mountain. There was even more remaining this year than is typical. We all enjoyed our fair share of post-holing up the mountain.

The views along the way didn’t suck.

We were sure to catch our breath and hydrate.

About half way up the mountain, the clouds took over. We only briefly considered turning back while it sleeted on us.

Then we basically climbed Mount Everest. It’s the same, I’m sure.

After what felt like forever but was really only maybe 3 hours, we summited at 11,995 feet.

Bolder Boulder, Running Recap + Catch-up!

Hey, remember that one time that I didn’t post anything for 2 weeks and then put up 2 posts in one day? It’s today.

SO, for an update on running – since it has been about 2 months. Anyone else feel like this year is blazing by?! The last goals I posted were for April. Since then, Jesse and I have been following (mostly) my 10 week half marathon training plan. Our half is coming up 2 weeks from today! Hoorayyyy for starting our taper! Here were my April Goals:

  • Get 10 runs in – FAIL. (DANG, the only goal I didn’t hit. I’m over it.)
  • Run a hill workout – CHECK! We found a gradual hill, measured out 1/4 mile from the top using GMaps pedometer, and ran up it 6 times. It was actually… fun.
  • Log an 8 mile long run – CHECK!
  • Run 50 miles total – CHECK!

April Stats:
9 runs total
52.4 miles (44% increase over March!)
Longest Distance: 8.3 miles
6 speed workouts  
0 races
Average training pace range: 9:07 to 8:28/mi

May Stats:
10 runs total – FINALLY!
68.8 miles (31% increase over April)
Longest Distance: 12.1 miles
5 speed workouts
1 race – Bolder Boulder 10K – 45:40, 7:21/mi avg pace
Average training pace range: 9:28 to 7:47/mi (getting faster!)

The Bolder Boulder was super fun, as always. Jesse’s entire family made it out for the race, and so did my Dad and Stepmom (and 50,000 other people – literally). It’s the biggest and best organized race that I’ve ever run. There are bands, belly dancers, hippies playing instruments, front lawn slip-n-slides, people handing out bacon, doritos, and even liquor (Jesse’s dad inadvertently took a shot of rum thinking it was water), on the sidelines of the entire 6.2 mile course. The weather was perfect, about 50 to 60 degrees throughout the morning, and a sweet break from the rain we’ve been getting every. single. day. for the past several weeks. Apparently we live in Seattle now? My time was 12 seconds slower than last year, but I’m not beating myself up about it. I’ve run the Bolder Boulder 12 times since 2000, and last year I ran my 10K all-time PR. (You can’t expect to do that EVERY year). We also ran hard two weeks ago leading up to the race, so I was definitely not well-rested. I was stoked to be sub-46 minutes again.

Here I am coming around the track at CU Stadium, not kicking because I was totally dead the last 0.2 miles, and trying real hard not to pee my pants.

Don’t know this guy, but apparently he does this before and after every race. Impressive? See the first photo above, strong-man is right behind me. He may or may not have passed.

Jesse ran a PR of 49:49, cutting almost 40 seconds off his time from last year.

I’ve been feeling like a lot of my recent training runs have felt much harder than I remember them being last year. We ran 12 miles AFTER WORK on Thursday, which is definitely a first for me, as we usually do our long runs on Saturday morning. Jesse is judging beer all day at his homebrew club competition (poor guy), so we had to do a weeknight 12 miler. I think that deserves a medal or something.

I was hurting by the last few miles, but this was also our first run after the Bolder Boulder. I’ve been sore all week. Looking at my monthly stats now makes me feel better about that. I’ve done a better job of sticking to my 3 run/week plan than I did last year. Pretty sure I finished the last 5 weeks of my training with only 2 runs per week last year – and somehow ended up in the best shape of my life. So overall, I think my body is probably more fatigued right now, and I’m looking forward to tapering off over the next two weeks.

IN OTHER NEWS (can you believe there’s more?!), we have been married 9 months today! We went to dinner at the Melting Pot last night to celebrate. Actually, we went to the Melting Pot mostly because we got a coupon in the Valpak mailer and we had two gift cards from Christmas that we’ve been saving, but we’ll use our 9 month anniversary as an excuse.

Fabletics Review (+ a cost saving hack!)

If you’re like me, you have likely seen Kate Hudson’s smiling face and super toned bod pop up a few times recently on your fb feed or sidebar ads. You may also be like “hey, cute workout threads, Kate. How trendy yet comfy-casual do you look?”

The $25 first outfit offer was too much for me to take.

So I finally gave in and decided to sign up for VIP membership to her athletic clothing line “club”, if you will, Fabletics. The premise is similar to Stitch Fix (which has also been tempting me for several months now and I just haven’t been able to pull the trigger because I rarely pay full price for anything and it’s probably almost surely out of my price range), or Nature Box, or any of those subscription type specialty shopping services that offer “custom” packages on a monthly or so basis.

While you can shop Fabletics without a membership, following are the perks that are included with VIP membership, straight from the website:

  • Up to 40% off retail prices.
  • Free exchanges and easy returns.
  • Free shipping on all orders over $49.95.
  • Earn rewards points (aka free outfits!) with every purchase, friend referral, or product review.

Here’s how it works, and my review after joining and receiving my first outfit (Note: this is not endorsed or sponsored by Fabletics, I am just sharing my opinion. If you sign up with my referral link, I will earn $10 in Fabletics credit – as is offered to all VIP members):

  • If you sign up as a VIP, you are signing up for one “outfit credit” every month. Most Some outfits include 2 pieces and cost $49.95 at VIP cost. However, you have the option to login to your account by the 5th of the month, skip that month’s outfit – and be charged nothing – for that month. You can do this as often as you’d like.

After you’ve skipped the month to avoid being charged, you can still shop later that month and purchase items if you change your mind.

  • If you don’t either purchase an outfit or skip the month by the 5th, you are charged $49.95. This gives you 1 outfit credit on your account, which can be applied toward a purchase at any time. Fabletics will not automatically choose outfits that you must purchase, or send you monthly packages.

I love that there are really no obligations, fees, or penalties associated with membership. Yes, you are signing up for a monthly subscription. If you are responsible enough to remember that fact and login once a month, you could place one order under VIP membership for only $25, and never pay another dime if you don’t want to. You can skip any and all months, and cancel at any time. I’ve seen some reviews warning of a “scam! – you will be charged without permission!, etc.” Come on people. If you’re too dumb to read the 4 bullet points on how it works when you sign up, I have zero sympathy for you. Also, the money that you are charged if you are a bit forgetful goes 100% toward outfit credit.

  • When you sign up, you go through a short lifestyle quiz to choose the types of athletic clothes you prefer, colors, body type, workout preferences, etc.
  • At the beginning of each month, Fabletics suggests “looks just for you”, based on your preferences.

This is the part that I’m not fully sold on – you will get an email notifying you that your picks are ready for the month. When you login, there will be 3 outfits that are suggested for you. You can select something from your suggested looks, from “Kate’s Picks”, or from any of the other options available that month. OR, mix and match individual items and only purchase what you want. However, with the somewhat limited variation in styles offered, I’m not convinced that the “personal style picks” are really unique. It feels more like they may come out with 15 to 20 new outfits each month, and they suggest 3 for each person – but everything that they offer is essentially the same style. Just some slight variations from running shorts to yoga pants, or a slim fitting top vs. a slouchy shirt. Again, just my impression.

So it’s pretty straight-forward. Now, here is my experience so far – and some info that you may not get from the website:

USER FRIENDLINESS: I’ll give it 4 out of 5 stars. It’s quick and easy to get signed up as a VIP. You will get multiple emails around the first of the month to notify you that your new picks are available – thus reminding you that you need to login and skip the month if you don’t plan on purchasing and want to avoid being charged. I received 3 Fabletics emails between April 30 and May 2 (and several more throughout the month), they look something like this:

With just two clicks from the email, I was able to skip the month (and you don’t even get an annoying pop up asking “are you sure?” Or urging you to reconsider spending money.) The only reason I’m holding back the 5th star is that supposedly you can shop Fabletics without signing up for membership, by unchecking the VIP box at checkout. For the sake of a complete review, I tried shopping the site without logging in. Adding an outfit to the cart seems to require you to sign up for an account (“To order, simply take our quick lifestyle quiz”… Which then requires you to enter an email address and password once complete), or to login if you are already a member. So while they say you can uncheck the VIP option at checkout, I was not able to get so far as to test this without creating another account. Bottom line, if you want to shop, you likely are best off signing up for VIP. So far I have not encountered any difficulties, unfair/unexpected fees or downsides to doing so.

SELECTION: 4 out of 5 stars. Like I said before, there is not a huge range in overall style. Meaning, all of the clothes have a similar/coordinating look. However, almost all of the clothing is cute and trendy in my opinion. Anything that makes working out a little more enticing, no? The similar look can also be a plus, when you consider mixing and matching outfits, and coordinating color schemes. I actually kind of roped myself into needing more outfits with my first order. The tank I got goes well with the tights I ordered. But after I got it and the weather started to warm up, I realized that I don’t have any shorts that go with the black/green/orange tank. Yeah, believe it or not, I have zero gray or black shorts. Guess I’ll be back for another order. Fabletics, 2. Kelly, 0.

SIZING: 3 out of 5. When you sign up for VIP membership, they ask your size preferences for tops, bottoms, and sports bras. I am 5′-2″, and weigh 105. For the tank top, I ordered an XXS. It fits well, semi-fitted but comfortable and not too tight. For bottoms, it was a different story. When it comes to jeans and pants, I wear a 25, 00, 0, or sometimes a 2. Usually an XS in athletic shorts. So I had a hunch that something was off when the Fabletics size chart put me at an XXS all-around.

Since this was my first order though, and I’ve never worn a size 4, I decided to trust the size chart. I shouldn’t have – my hunch was correct. I got my XXS Lima Capris in the mail and about fell over when I saw how tiny they were. I’m kicking myself now for not thinking to take a photo. I wasn’t even going to try them on, but to humor Jesse – who insisted that they would fit – I squirmed into them. They made it over my butt, but BARELY. Pretty sure they were made for a child. So, needless to say, I completed my first exchange with Fabletics. Which brings us to:

SHIPPING & RETURNS/EXCHANGES: 4 out of 5. I’m being all first-world problems on this one. It was very easy to complete my exchange. All you have to do is login to your online account, select the item you want to return, and choose whether you want a different size/color, reship the same item (I assume if there is something wrong with the one you received), or return for Fabletics credit. I chose to go up one size to the XS, and ended up having to get a different color because they were out in the size/color that I ordered originally. The color selection is pretty good though, so I chose a lighter gray. They ask the reason for return, and the item’s condition. You then print out a return packing slip, affix it to your package and drop it in the mail. All of this and the exchange shipping are free – so you have nothing to lose! The ONLY reason I am rating 4 instead of 5 is because I’ve been spoiled by Amazon Prime. I’m used to getting something the DAY AFTER I decide I want it and order it online. So the 7-10 business day shipment time from the order confirmation email date tested my patience. My exchange capris shipped from Ohio on a Monday, and they were delivered to my home in Wyoming on Saturday. Watching that shipment tracking crawl is painful. So like I said. First. World. Problems.

DESIGN AND QUALITY: 5 out of 5! All I’ve purchased so far is a tank and capri leggings. They are both flattering, and they fit well (once you figure out the correct size!). The tank top is light, non-constricting, and has a mesh back which should be great on hot days. The capris are soft and comfortable. They are thicker than I expected, which makes me think that they will last well and be durable. I ran 7 miles in these in about 45 degree weather and a nasty wind chill, and they kept me nice and comfy. They also boast a smooth, chafe-resistant design, moisture wicking technology, AND a hidden pocket. I saw this on the tag, and it’s true – it took me a couple of minutes to find the pocket. It’s small, but would carry a house key or I.D. Overall, I give the design and quality two thumbs up. That’s right – 5 stars and 2 thumbs, because why not.

PRICE: 3 out of 5. The first outfit is a 5 out of 5, no-brainer. I got my Berlin tank and Lima Capris for $24.97(a $90 tag value, and over 50% off VIP price). Beyond that, because the monthly charge for an outfit credit is $49.95, I kind of assumed that most of the outfits would include 2 pieces and cost $49.95. This is not really the case. Of the first 30 outfits that showed up for May’s newest, only 4 were offered for $49.95 at VIP cost. The rest are 2 or 3 pieces running $59.95 or $69.95. These prices are listed at about 40% off of the “Regular” Fabletics list price. They are still a good deal (I did some cross-shopping, below), but $60 or $70 per month on athletic clothes is more than I am willing to shell out. This is why I will likely skip most months of purchasing, enjoy not being charged anything, and treat myself to a new outfit a few times a year. To be sure I’m not just setting unrealistic expectations for price, I cross shopped a Fabletics outfit with something similar from Nike. Obviously you could go much more affordable by shopping off-brands at Target (and who doesn’t love Target?), but I would put the quality of Fabletics clothing up there with a major name brand. Also, the majority of my running wardrobe consists of Nike, so I think it’s a fair comparison.

I chose one of the outfits from “My Picks” that came out in May, the “Marathon”. Probably my immediate favorite after a quick browse of the newest options. It is offered to VIP members for $59.95, and includes 3 pieces:

Aventura Tank: $15.95 (Regular: $29.95). Much cheaper than a basic cotton blend tank, the Nike Gym Vintage Dip Dye tank, at $40. I’m also comparing it to a cheaper option from Nike in Dri-FIT (which I prefer to cotton), because I own several of these and wear them pretty much for every run: Nike Women’s Flow Thru tank, at $19.99. Not a huge savings here, and I would probably choose Dri-FIT over cotton for $4 more.

Suva Run Short II: $24.95 (Regular: $39.95). Compared to Nike 2″ Rival Printed shorts, marked down from $60 to $39.97. Both are a polyester blend, with a brief liner in mesh or polyester. The Suva short has an internal coin pocket, while the Nike short offers interior waist pockets (plural), AND a back zip pocket, so it might get the edge. However, at VIP cost, the Suva shorts still seem to be a bargain.

Sevan Sports Bra: $15.95 (Regular: $24.95). Compared to the Nike Pro Indy Freeze Frame sports bra, $39.97 on sale from $50. Both are cute with slim straps, and offer “light support”. The Sevan is 98% nylon, while the Pro Indy is Dri-FIT polyester. I can’t say how these compare. At $15.95, I like the trendy and unique design of the Sevan – and the price.

Total cost for the Nike outfit (Flow-Thru tank from Dick’s, Rival shorts and Pro Indy sports bra from Nike): $99.93. Both of these purchases happen to qualify for free shipping from these websites, and are taking advantage of sale prices.

Total cost for the Fabletics outfit with VIP membership: $59.95 – IF you purchase the outfit as an outfit. Not sure what I mean? Here’s a little hack I figured out by going through this cost comparison:

Rather than selecting the Marathon outfit, verifying sizes/colors, and clicking “Add Outfit to Cart”, try clicking on each individual item and adding them separately to the cart. Turns out, the individual pieces in the Marathon outfit total to $56.85 – a savings of over $3! Compared to the Nike outfit, that’s a 44% savings.

I tried this with one other Fabletics outfit – Ten Thousand Islands. This one ended up being quite a bit more expensive as individual items ($74.90 for the two vs. $59.95 for the outfit!) So it probably averages out overall, but it’s worth a minute or two to find out if you can save a few bucks!

Overall, I am on board. I plan to keep my VIP membership with Fabletics. Mostly to browse, and to treat myself to a new outfit once in awhile. If you want to try out Fabletics, get your first outfit for $25 and help me earn some credit, please use this link to get started!

Hope you found my review helpful. Anyone else have a good (or bad) experience with Fabletics? Any points I’m forgetting? Let me know!