Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thinking of the future

Before Mike and I got engaged, I would look at my left ring finger and wonder what it would look like down the road. What would my ring look like? Would it look good on my finger? Would it fit right? Would I like it? Sometimes I would hold my hand out and think "Be patient. Enjoy this time. Enjoy this time where you don't have to wear any jewelry." I had never worn jewelry consistently before - I would wear a fashion ring for a few months and then ditch it for something else or for nothing at all. I wasn't sure I would like always wearing something on my left hand.

Before we got Milly I would look around the condo and wonder what life would be like with a dog. Surely there would be dog hair tumbleweeds all about, as I'm not the greatest housekeeper. Would our dog be a boy or a girl? How big would she be? Where would she like to sit? What would she look like? Would she like to cuddle and sit on our laps? Would she be good at playing fetch? Would she like me or Mike more (answer: Mike! He must be the alpha) What kind of dogparents would Mike and I be? And then I would think to enjoy this time where we don't have to vacuum up dog hair, pick up poo, walk a dog that is not very good at heeling. Enjoy our freedom.

Now I walk around our condo and wonder what our future looks like. What will this room look like in a few years? How will we balance our lives? What changes will be made? And I think to enjoy the freedoms we have - that we can take Dog to the kennel or any one of our friends at a moment's notice to head off on an adventure. That I can take a run whenever I want, stop at the grocery on the way home. Simple things that make me happy. I think enjoy, enjoy, enjoy what we have.

But then I also remember how scared I was that we wouldn't get engaged, how scared I was that Milly would be a rotten dog and a horrible decision, or that she would never stop peeing on the floor. And now I think of how scared I am of maybe our life never following the path we want it to, never being able to make certain changes.

And I repeat to myself, "Enjoy. Enjoy what you have. " And I get down on the floor and play with Milly and she licks my hand because I just ate a slice of cheese, and she looks at me like licking cheesy hands is the best thing in the world. And I think of Mike coming home tomorrow for good, rejoining our daily routine. And I enjoy.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

So how's that going?

A couple of weeks ago I decided to do some things to bolster spirits and make me feel better. Here's an update as to how that's going:
  • Exercise: Yoga - I've been going at least once, maybe twice a week. And so far I like it! I have been going downtown during lunch mostly but still want to try a yoga basics class on Sunday in the Gold Coast. It's so hard to make it out of the house at 10:30 AM on a Sunday though!! Lifting: I've also been lifting with Michelle every Tuesday night. Running: I have gone for about two runs a week. I'm doing the Couch to 5K program on my iphone and am going to run the JP Chase Corporate Challenge at the end of May.
  • Photography class - I've signed up and it starts April 18th. I am so excited!
  • Take other steps to mitigate stress - I've started seeing an acupuncturist and left open a few open weekends to take a beat and hang out.
  • Healthier eating - I think I've been doing pretty good at this! I have been making big healthy meals and eating them during the week. I am currently in love with the mushroom barley soup that is this week's selection... so yummy. The thing about this one is that I know exactly what I should eat (salads, yummy whole foods) and what I shouldn't (cookie dough straight from the mixing bowl) but the execution can be rather shaky. I haven't been awesome lately but I haven't been awful. I big component of that is eating at home more than eating out - which we did all three nights this weekend! I was so proud of us!
Honestly I have felt a ton better but a good portion of that I attribute to the fact that we've gotten some sunshine! It's feels so good to know spring is here and good weather is just around the corner. The month of April is pretty temperamental in Chicago, but with Hubs home (he comes home from Detroit for good next week) I think I can handle it!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Little brother

IMG_0063, originally uploaded by agstratt.

is not so little anymore!

My brother turns 28 today! I can't believe he is so old - that makes me feel SUPER old. I love you, Jay, happy birthday!!!

Some evidence that my husband is dorky. And also super smart.

Mike sent this email to some friends this week. It's awesome so I thought I would share!


Hi, science friends.

Jay's birthday is this weekend and I was going to get him a set of whiskey stones. (Granite or soapstone rocks that you keep in the freezer and then use instead of ice cubes) The question I was pondering was which are better? I was looking at specific heat and thermal conductivity...trying to figure out which material would hold more "coldness" and transfer it best to the liquid.

After some googling, I came up with:

Specific heat

Granite - 0.79 KJ / kg K
Soapstone - 1.047 KJ / kg K


Granite - 2.75 g /cm^3
Soapstone - 2.98 g /cm^3

Specific Heat by volume (calc'd using above inputs)

Granite - 2.17 J / cm^3
Soapstone - 3.12 J / cm^3

I think this means that it takes more energy to warm up a certain volume of soapstone than it does the same volume of granite. Since they'd both be chilled to the same temperature in the freezer, I think soapstone is the better choice.

Soapstone also has a much higher thermal conductivity (6.4 W/mK compared to 2.1 W/mK), which makes me think it will absorb heat more quickly, thus allowing quicker consumption of a chilled adult beverage.

So....all signs point to soapstone, right? It's been a long time since I've thought about thermo so figured i'd run it by you guys first. Also, I know Brett doesn't actually do any work and is probably looking for something to distract him.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Well hello old friend

Had to take a picture of my old suitcase before I donated it to the Salvation Army. I probably should have just thrown it away because the handle to wheel it along with doesn't really work! But oh well. Maybe someone would want it. Regardless, this old boy has been along with me to many places - I bought it when I first started travelling for PwC. It has been to Hawaii, Italy, and all over the US to name a few. I was kind of sad to see it go.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I didn't take very many pictures in Tahoe...

DSC_1363, originally uploaded by agstratt.

... but one that was a must-take was of our friend Brett accosting a three-foot icicle. I think it was worth it, no?

Cracking me up!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Today is Chuck Norris' birthday!

Tahoe trip!

We're back from Tahoe and to say I had a great time wouldn't do it justice! I had an absolute BLAST! Now, I am not a very sporty person AT ALL. My hand-eye coordination (or hand-brain coordination sometimes) is total crap. I only learned to use an elliptical machine a few years ago. And my skiing experience is limited to one 7 day trip to Breckenridge with the family when I was 13 or 14. Now, I remember taking almost a full week of ski school, and then spending two more days running double-black-diamond runs with my Dad and brother. But that was over 15 years ago! And while I did ski in college a few times - I remember being way unsteady on my skis. While that could have been due to the fact that the hills in Indiana are covered in ice rather than snow, it could also mean that my memories are viewed through rose-colored glasses and I wasn't the complete snow-sport bada$$ I thought myself to be.

Well, I decided the first day to just go out on some greens and blues and see where I was at. And I was pleasantly surprised. I was able to parallel ski and take some turns down the mountain. The skiing did wear me out and I was ready to call it a day around 2:30. Once I was tired, it was harder to keep control and I took one big spill where I went butt over teakettle, rolling down the mountain and smacking my head and neck on it (chiro, appointment for Monday please!).

At the top of the mountain, Day 1

Shortly before this picture was taken I was checking Chad for weakness. But thought I'd be slightly more appropriate for the pic.

The second day we took an intermediate class where the instructor corrected a few small things (boots were too loose, we were committing to turns to late which caused a quicker, more out of control turn) and after that I felt on top of my game! I felt like I could have spent a whole week out on the mountain. I'm sure after a few more trips and practice I could be back on the black diamonds - I am way more cautious now than I was as a teen, and my legs are in no shape for the superquick swishing to be sure. But now I feel like I can get back to that skill level at some point, and that feels good that being good at something isn't impossible.

The thing that sucks is that I don't really like any other sports, and I can't ski very much where I live now. BOO.

So the second day we did the class in the morning, and in the afternoon we skied with the group of our friends. Chad and Stacy and I decided to head to the far side of the mountain and work our way back. At the top of the last lift, he said "Ok, on this trail to the left is blue. The right is black diamond (expert). They meet in the middle, so you girls go to the left and I'll go to the right and we'll meet up."

As he skied away, I thought: "Famous last words. We are screwed."

This is not a picture of the hillside we were going down
So anyways, we look at the hill and it's a sheer precipice - we can't see where we're going until we shove off the top of the mountain. And baby, that's not how I roll. I like to know where I'm going first. So we skiied down the side parallel to the dropoff a bit - to see where we were going. That's when we realized the area we were supposed to go down was completely ungroomed. There was a trail, but it was RIGHT under the lift only, and the place we'd skied down to had no trail, nothing. But at that point we kind of had to go down it. Great.

About halfway down that area (and stopping and discussing our options every few minutes, with the option of taking skis off and hiking back to the top sounding better and better), we finally realized that about halfway down the ungroomed hill we were on there was ANOTHER sheer dropoff. Oh yay (insert Chad-cursing here). We skied parallel to that one for a while before finally popping back out onto the trail. Whew. Only it had taken us so long that Chad thought we hadn't waited for him and had bailed on us. Boo. So we raced back to the lift and snagged it up the mountain to head back to our lodge, completely on the other side of the mountain.

Once we did the next run and got to the next lift, we had fifteen minutes to get to the top of the mountain, ski down it, and hit the next lift before they closed. So we hauled butt to the final lift and got there at 3:58, 2 minutes before closing time. We took the final run down to our lodge and walked in to cheers from the crowd that we actually made it back. It was kind of fun, like we were our own little band of heroes, just me and my friend Stacy. At least people didn't have to come retrieve us from the other side of the mountain!


Here are another few pics of the group on the last day. Mike and I stayed in and rested up - I could have skied some more, but I didn't want to get back to Chicago all tired and sore. So we stayed in and watched movies and took naps. But it looks like the group had fun!

After they got back from skiing, the group above jumped in the hot tub. Brett said he would get Chris a drink that night if (in his swimtrunks) he jumped off the deck railing into a snowbank with a bellyflop and did a snow angel. I happened to be watching from a window up above and saw the whole thing, it was awesome. That is so our friends, making silly bets.

All in all, it was a great trip. The place we stayed at was amazing, and our friends are already talking about going back next year!

all pics stolen from my friend Deanne!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Happy Monday

Whew! I feel better just unloading in that last post. Sometimes it takes some courage to get things out there. But sometimes getting things out there makes them better already.

I went to my first yoga class last week and spent the weekend laying around, accomplishing some chores, and trying (and failing) to kick my cold. Somehow I just feel more centered.

Last week I also had some quality girl time, hitting up Perennial with three girlfriends on Monday and Piccolo Sogno with Emily on Thursday. Both were amazing, but the leftovers from Piccolo were extra awesome. My noodles were great at the restaurant, and totally hit the spot again on Friday for lunch when I was home sick.

Speaking of food, check out this week's recipes:
  • I made Thai chicken soup and boy howdy was it tasty.
  • Prosciutto-wrapped pork chops on Saturday was So. Freaking. Good. Don't be stingy with the thyme! I'm sure you thought pork wrapped in pork wouldn't be anything but awesome. It is. Awesome that is.
  • Pot roast yesterday... may tweak the recipe just a bit for the fact that I don't make 4 lb pot roasts.
Man, you'd think it was new recipe November all over again! Yummy!

Maybe I'm in an extra-great mood because we leave Wednesday evening for Tahoe? Probably!!