Family, Nutella, and Photobombs

When I last visited my brother  Zachary and his wife Natalie in Philadelphia, my older brother, Nathaniel, also made the trip. We went to a small Italian grocery store. We took this picture, although I didn’t know what faces were being made behind me at the time it was taken:

nutella and I

The next weekend, after I’d returned to Boston and Than was back in D.C., my parents also visited Zach and Nat in Philly and posted this picture:

nutella and Mom

I love my family!

 

 

How I Wound Up Training for The Broad Street Run

I am not a runner. Not naturally, not even a little bit. I used to make myself run sometimes back in high school . . . I think I even ran a few miles once or twice. I hated it. Let’s just say I’ve always been one of those people that was never very likely to live long in the event of a Zombie apocalypse. I’ve also been militantly ANTI-signing-up-for-road-races . . . partially because EVERYBODY seems to do it once they graduate from college. It’s like some misguided masochistic rite of passage. College graduation seems to perpetually be followed by road races and the eventual adoption/purchasing of a dog. And I wanted none of it. I’ve always found other fulfilling pursuits.

HOWEVER, after a LONG period of being sick (like 18 months, give or take a few), I decided that I needed a little extra motivation to get in shape, and I had seen a couple of FUN looking 5k races (you know, the color run, runs involving costumes, silly runs you can do with friends. . . you get the idea), so on New Years I told my sister that I wanted to run a 5k sometime during this new year. 5k = 3.12 miles, and I supposed I should probably be able to run 3.12 miles. I’m not big on new year’s resolutions, but it seemed like a good plan in general, SO I told her she was in charge of making sure  I signed up/ran a 5k with her at some point during 2014. She agreed to make sure I followed through.

Fast-forward a few months

to a moment when I am suddenly added to a text-message strand with an abundance of unread messages. . .

race1

Can we talk about this? I get added to this devious message strand by my super-scheming-yet-seemingly-oblivious siblings, the punks! I saw it, laughed really hard because I figured that I’d be in “the know” and ahead of their game . . . I would never give in to running a race longer than a 5k! Laughing at the lack of guile in my wonderful family, I posted the above picture on my facebook page, letting them know I was aware of their machinations. It was then that I learned the terrifying truth.

race6

That’s right. My sister, who I love and trust, signed me up for a ten mile road race. Not only that, but our team name is STAR WARS, in tribute the the fact that the Broad Street Run will be taking place on May the Fourth (as in: “May the fourth be with you”). Reality began to set in as the messages continued. . .

race3

I finally weighed in on the conversation, my own dubious opinions evident (at least, I thought so).

jabba

Fast-forward a few more weeks . . .

My initial feelings of fear and dread have now passed (mostly), and I have since decided to throw myself into the planning/preparation with dedication. I am currently in Week 4 of the following training plan, and have only missed one two-mile run so far (everybody gets sick sometimes, right?).

training program

With a few weeks of perspective under my belt, I have to admit something. I am kind of proud of myself. I mean, don’t get me wrong, running in New England in the Winter is not exactly making it to my top 10 favorite activities in life. In fact, running in general will probably never make the favorite activities list, no matter what season we’re talking about . . . but it is kind of fulfilling and empowering to see myself get better at this miserable process as I go. I can (begrudgingly) admit that I am glad I am doing this (despite the fact that it makes me HUGELY nervous that I still have yet to run even half of what I will need to run come May)!

SO, with that small bit of perspective firmly in mind, I’ll keep training. Any tips from more veteran runners are hugely welcome, and once May 4th has come and gone, I’ll let you all know how the race goes down!

One Winter’s Night: DIY Dinner Dance Decor!

I’ve coordinated a couple of high school dances over the past few years, and I always have a lot of fun with the creative ideas my creative students come up with for decorations and details! Each year, I am fortunate to have have a couple of truly fantastic students who volunteer to be on the planning committee, and 2014 was no exception! After polling the student body for ideas, we met up and settled upon our Winter Ball theme:

One Winter’s Night

Keeping our plans simple and elegant, we set out to provide thoughtful details that might enhance students’ experiences of the evening in question. Some of the things that we organized as part of this year’s festivities included . . .

Setting the Menu & Enjoying the Venue

Winter Ball FOodWe have the delightful opportunity of enjoying the delicious menu of italian cuisine provided by our venue of quality! The spread was delicious and everyone ranted about the chicken parm in particular. The food, however, was just a small organizational detail of the rest of the planning, which was far more hands-on!

Warm & Cozy Favors

What better to give as a favor for a Winter Ball than Hot Cocoa? Inspired by some adorable winter wedding favors on pinterest, we decided that it would be a fun direction to go, and we were not mistaken. We designed our own label, used some of the same cardstock we used for the leaf-creation, and put them together one chilly Wednesday afternoon. They turned out adorable!

Favors - Winter Ball 2013

They looked so pretty on the tables, as did our second focus of decor:

Twinkling Centerpieces!

centerpieces and tabletops

For several weeks before the dance, we brainstormed ideas for the centerpieces. In years past we’ve done everything from live fish to traditional floral arrangements to elaborate candy jars, and we’ve come to the conclusion that non-living centerpieces can render the set-up far less stressful! After doing some scouting and brainstorming, one of my students remembered that I had made some paper-leaf branches at one point. We looked at the paperstock available online, and decided to make our own silvery foliage, just for the occasion.

centerpieces 1

Making these branches  was a cinch, actually. First, we gathered up some sticks from the trail around the school. Then we made two different sizes for leaves and cut them all out by hand before attaching them with hot glue to the branches we had collected. The result looked quite lovely!
centerpieces in action

 After making the branches, we purchased some beautiful twinkly lights (via Amazon.com) to twine through them and the result was like something out of a fairy-tale!

Centerpiece - silver leaves

To these leafy, twinkly, not-quite-floral arrangements, we added a cut-crystal dish of navy-blue, white, and silver m&ms as well as a small glass to hold those lovely, snow-flakey pens pictured above. What might theeeeey be for, you ask? Well, I’m so glad you brought it up, because that brings us to our next element of themed fun . . .

Wintry Mad-Libs
madlibs - winter style

Mad libs are something that we make a point to include every year, at every dance. For one thing, they help break the ice and fill those occasionally stilted social moments before dinner or dancing commence. But, for another thing, who doesn’t like mad-libs? We used a paper punch to make this batch particularly dainty and then placed them at each place setting on the big night. madlibs in action

After that, as students found their way to tables and seats, all that remained was to watch as they took their snow-flakey pens in hand and general hilarity ensued! Let’s face it:

There is no better atmosphere than laughter.

Sick of the Frozen Hype? GIVE UP!

Okay, if you are tired of people endlessly talking about how much they love Frozen and posting videos and comments about it . . . well, I’m sorry. You should probably not read on.  Because the longer we obsessed creative fans have ahold on something, the more incredible the results, and the more inspired I feel to share them. I’ve already posted how my sister and I got her little child who can’t even talk to imitate Oaken’s Yoo-Hoo, and I’ve already shared my adorable neice’s rendition of “Let it Go”, not to mention the one by the Cincinnati weather guy. TODAY, I’m sharing another. This is a video of what happens to the song Let it Go when the lyrics are put through google translate language filters a multitude of times before translating back into English and sung to the original score. It is HILARIOUS. Major kudos to Malinda Reese for making and recording this: