Monday, August 18, 2014

Running for Team USO

As you know, I will be running the Marine Corps Marathon on October 26th in Washington, DC. I've been training hard, and now I have one more reason to help get me out of bed at 5:30 on Saturday mornings: I'm the newest member of Team USO.

I had a great experience running last year for the American Heart Association and wanted to get involved with a charity again this year. Because my brother is a Marine and I'm running the Marine Corps Marathon, it seemed fitting to choose a military-related charity.

After a race with my favorite Marine

Most people think of Bob Hope when they think of the USO. While entertaining our troops is a big part of the USO's mission, they do a lot more than that. They provide support for injured troops and their families. They help troops get the education and training they need to successfully transition to civilian life. They provide international calling cards for families to get in touch with their deployed loved ones. They distribute software and audio devices that help troops deployed in Afghanistan to learn the local languages.

My goal is to raise $1,000 before I cross the starting line on October 26th. You can donate HERE. Every dollar helps, and I would sincerely appreciate anything you can give.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Lately I'm Loving: Postmodern Jukebox

I love finding inventive covers of songs I already like on YouTube. There are some seriously talented and creative people out there. Recently, I discovered a few more of these talented, creative people doing something called Postmodern Jukebox.

They do covers of pop songs in different vintage styles. For example, here's a version of "Burn" by Ellie Goulding in the style of a 1960s doowop group (complete with a saxophone on fire!).

Or "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea in a 1920s big band style.

My personal favorite, though, is the cover of "Rude" by Magic. I am obsessed with this song. It already has a vintage vibe, so this 1950s style is perfection. Also perfection: the singer's voice. (Check out his version of Beyonce's "Halo" when you're done with this video.)

Any YouTube channels you love?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Marine Corps Marathon Training: Weeks 5-8

Week 5: On Wednesday, I met up with my running group for 5 miles. It was nice having company, and I'm definitely going to try to make the Wednesday night meet-ups part of my schedule. On Saturday, I woke up at 6:20am. Our run starts at 6:30 a few miles from our apartment. Oops! I flew out of bed and into my clothes, ate a Pop-Tart in the car where I risked a ticket for going 65 up Lake Shore Drive and managed to catch my group at 6:35 right as they were leaving. Phew! I finished a very rainy 10 miles that felt not terrible but not great. Next week, I'll set my alarm for 5:30am instead of 5:30pm.

Week 6: Great week! I think this was the first week that I actually ran all the scheduled miles. Oops! On Wednesday, I ran 5 miles with my group. Because I was the only 10:30 group member there, I ended up running with a faster guy. We held close to a 10:00 pace for 5 miles for an accidental tempo workout. Saturday, I managed to wake up on time and got in a great 7 miles for the last single-digit long run of this training cycle. One-third of the way done!

Week 7: I started off the week with a pre-work run. That's right; I woke up early to run. It's a miracle! Thanks, 100-degree heat index! Thankfully, it cooled down for the rest of the week. My long run on Saturday was 12 miles, and it was a bit rough. My stomach felt off (we'll check BBQ off the list of things I can eat the night before a long run) and I think I was a bit dehydrated. I finished, though! On Sunday, I got a wonderful massage to work out some of the tightness I've been having in my left hip.

Week 8: I woke up Monday morning with a sore groin muscle, which prompted me to skip my Tuesday run. Wednesday's 6-miler was decent, and I woke up Thursday pain-free. Very strange. The first half of Saturday's 13-mile long run was great. I started to get tired around mile 8, though, and fell behind my group on the last mile. I stopped to get water, stretch my legs a bit, and then kept on trucking on my own. I even did the giant hill at the end! I was proud of myself for having the mental strength to keep going on dead legs. It was great practice for race day!

At this point, I'm almost half-way through training, and I feel like I'm in a good place. The runs are getting longer and more difficult, but I'm definitely getting stronger. I'd like to incorporate more cross-training. And by more, I mean any at all. I'm also working on my hydration by forcing myself to drink one glass of water every morning, one before I go to bed, at at least 2 during the day at work. Now, if only I could find a way to get rid of this persistent blister...

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Book Report: I Am Malala

I Am Malala is the story of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban when she was 15 because she stood up for the right of girls to go to school. In this book, you hear first-hand how the Taliban changed the life of Malala and her family and how she worked - and still works - to fight them and their message of hatred and intolerance.

She starts by talking about her parents and her childhood pre-Taliban. It's fascinating hearing her talk about the rise of the Taliban in Pakistan. There's a fundamental fear of anything that would allow for individuality. Women must stay inside and wear the burqa if they come out. Men must grow beards of a certain length. Everyone must wear plain clothes. No music or television is permitted. Malala says "If God wanted us all to be the same, why would he make us so different?" Why indeed.

As an American unfamiliar with the history and geography of Pakistan, I really enjoyed learning about it. Malala talks of the beauty of her hometown and the rich history of Islam. Some may be bored by this aspect of the book (and it seems to be a common criticism), but I thought it was important for the reader to have the context in which Malala's story is taking place for the storytelling to really be effective. Plus, it was a good nudge outside the Western box I occupy 99.9% of the time.

Malala's story was both heartbreaking and inspiring. It reminded me how much I take for granted every single day. Fortunately, there are people in the world like Malala, fighting the good fight for the equal rights of women and girls. She reminded me that one person's voice really can make a difference in the world. For that, I give this book an A.

Friday, July 25, 2014

First Impressions

We have a very tiny entryway in our apartment. How tiny? It's about 3 feet x 4 feet. Right now, it's beige and boring. I want to do something to spice it up a bit and give a better first impression of our home. Because of the small space, I feel that it can handle a very bold statement. But what kind of statement? Do I want bright, glossy color?


A bold, painted-on pattern?

Apartment Therapy


Better Homes and Gardens

Maybe something architectural?

Jenna Sue

Something on the ceiling?

Apartment Therapy

Maybe I should focus on the door itself.

Made By Girl

What kind of statement would catch your eye as a guest?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Weekender Bags

Summer is the season of quick getaways. Whether it's a weekend at the beach on Long Island or 4th of July at my in-laws' lake house in Michigan, I'm tired of having to take my wheeled suitcase with me when I take short trips. It's time to invest in a weekender bag. My criteria are as follows:

  • can hold enough for 3 days of travel
  • front pocket
  • shoulder strap
  • stylish
  • around $100 or cheaper


This Everlane bag is almost perfect. It's simple, sturdy, and stylish. The only things I don't like are the lack of a shoulder strap and lack of a front pocket. I like to have my phone accessible without having to unzip my bag when I travel.

Kate Spade Saturday

My favorite part about this Kate Spade Saturday Weekender Bag is the zippered shoe compartment on the bottom. You could also use it for dirty laundry. It seems a bit small, though, and the price is over budget.


This Herschel bag has the size of the Everlane bag and the shoulder strap and shoe compartment of the Kate Spade Saturday bag. Still no front pocket, though.

Lo & Sons

The Lo and Sons O.G. bag has quite the fan club on the internet, and it's easy to see why. With compartments for everything, it's great for work, the gym, quick trips, and even a carry-on bag. The only problem is the price. $295 seems a bit steep for something I'll only use a few times a year.

Do you have a favorite weekender bag?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Happy Birthday, Prince George!

Today, the future king of England turns 1. Happy birthday, Prince George! This blog post is basically just an excuse to post photos of the adorable baby prince, so let's get to it.

I can't handle the cuteness!