Thursday, October 31, 2013

Trick or Treat

I love Halloween!

The pumpkins have been carved.

The porch is decked out with witches and bats.

The pups have their orange and black gear ready to go.

I'm sporting a vampy, red nail polish. 

The candy has been purchased. Oh so much candy.

Flashback, I missed out on Halloween candy the first year the hubs and I were in our house. I had a work trip to New Orleans and while I did appreciate the Bourbon Street (catching a theme here???) atmosphere I definitely missed handing out candy to trick or treaters. 

Last year after just a few groups had come to our house I told the hubs, "we need more candy - we're almost out!" 

Turns out when a ballerina troupe of first timers comes to my porch, complete with video taking parental chaperones I went a bit over board on their candy allotment. My bad. 

This year the hubs bought 4x as much candy and hopefully I can control myself this year. Hopefully. I just love handing out candy to kids! I really don't want to dip into my backup supply of 100 calorie mixed nut, snack packs if I run out of candy. 

What are your Halloween plans this evening? 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

American Made Sweatshirts You Can Wear in Public

Top: Milly //  Bailley44 // Gibson // 

Every once in a while the fashion rules make being fashionable a tad bit more comfortable. I'm not talking Uggs, because I don't think those things every looked good, but rather the latest trend of fancy sweatshirts has got me grinning like a fool. 

Bring on the silk sleeves, leather paneling, sequins, texture, embellished necklines, and bows! This isn't your old college sweatshirt, but rather the current sweatshirt trend is more polished, yet comfortable. I like a sweatshirt that can go from nap time to cocktail time in nanoseconds. 

Which one is your favorite? If I had to pick (and this is like picking a favorite pair of shoes) then I'd have to go with the Bailey44 in the top middle. Sequins + raglan sleeves. Yes please!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Inspired at Marine Corps Marathon 2013

I absolutely love the running community. That welcoming camaraderie among runners was one of my favorite pieces of Bourbon Chase, yet it is probably the most difficult to explain. Runners are a crazy bunch, but I'm constantly inspired by other runners and if I could bottle up that feeling I'd never have to fuel again. 

This past weekend I went down to DC to cheer on some of my running group buddies as they trekked through DC to complete the Marine Corps Marathon.  I got to my spot on the mall just in time to see the lead women go by and then I started walking the mall to cheer for runners.  I only snapped a few quick photos because my hands were too busy clapping, holding up a sign, and doling out high fives to passing runners. 

I was inspired by the kids who strategically waited near the top of a hill to cheer on competitors with a safe, "you've got this hill!" In the world of video games, cell phone games, and a million other distractions it was amazing to see a group of kids stand outside for hours and never complain once that they were bored. 

Running a marathon is hard enough, but I can't even comprehend the strength it would take to push an adult the entire 26.2 miles. And this guy was flying! 

Inspired by the Marines who showed up well before I did and stayed far long after I left to watch the 5:30 pace group make the last turn around the mall to head over the dreaded bridge.  These Marines were cheering the entire time, but ready to provide assistance at a seconds notice. 

Inspired by our brothers in sisters in arms who ran in their gear and many honored their fallen brethren. 

Inspired by those that take a different path in life and say, "running a marathon barefoot isn't so crazy." 

Inspiring is watching Dorothy Beal run. Her 3:13 on Sunday was impressive on its own, but add to the equation that she's worked her way down to that blazing time from more earthly times and the work she's put in makes her marathon time super human. And she has three kids! Dorothy - you are an inspiration. 

And then there are the inspiring moments where words escape me. 

Dear Marine Corps Marathon runners. Thank you for the inspiration. My runs this week will be fueled by witnessing your determination. The strength and perseverance you displayed will guide me through my darkest miles in my next marathon. And for that I can never thank you enough. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bourbon Chase 2013 Recap

Team Stay Vertical at Jim Beam
The start line at Jim Beam.
Two Heidi's (yes, you read that right) rocking our "Stay Vertical: It's just a 200 mile bar crawl" temporary tattoos. 
Oscar finishing the first leg strong. 
More temporary tattoos! 
Van 2 finished with their first legs in Danville. 
It's only slightly cold when you're not running and instead cheering for people in the middle of the night! 
Breaking out the hammock to catch a few hours of zzzs in a park. 
Of course there would be shots of bourbon involved! 
The finish line in Lexington! 200 miles DONE! 
Race medals from all five years. 
Official Maker's Mark Bourbon Chase items. 
Stay Vertical: It's Just a 200-Mile Bar Crawl 

Last weekend I ran in the Bourbon Chase relay with my best friend and her crazy running friends. It was a 200 mile relay that started at Jim Beam and then ran through the distilleries of Heaven Hills, Maker's Mark, Four Roses, Wild Turkey, Woodford Reserve before ending in Lexington, KY.   I had no idea what to expect going in because I had never done a relay event like this before! 

I knew I had three legs to run and two of them gave me some serious concerns. My second leg was projected to start around 1:30am. I haven't run in the middle of the night in quite some time. Plus, I was tremendously worried about getting lost and wandering off in the middle of Kentucky by myself.  My third leg involved running over the Kentucky River and anyone who knows me knows I am NOT A FAN of bridges. Especially bridges that come with directions of, "please yield to vehicle traffic if a vehicle will not yield of you."  Are you freaking kidding me?!?!?!

Conclusion: The race was amazing. I was in Van 1 and the weather was drastically different for all three legs. Leg #1 was hot and in the middle of the afternoon.  Leg #2 was chilly in the middle of the night (I went with capris, a long sleeve, short sleeve, night time gear, and a hat). Leg #3 was the hilliest leg for me, included descending and climbing a gorge, a massive scary bridge, and pouring rain. 

Yes, this was an exhausting relay because I think I only managed a few hours of interrupted sleep over the course of the entire 200 miles. There was a moment in the middle of the night where everyone in our van was so exhausted that things started to get a tad bit testy. One of my teammates has done a few relays like this in the past and he calmly stated, "guys, there is going to be a time when we're too tired to be polite. Things will get misstated and misheard. Just give everyone a pass."  His timing was impeccable. He broke the sleep deprived tension and we were good to go. 

The running wasn't the most challenging part of this relay. Well, I'm sure it was for the more competitive teams but our team wasn't being overly competitive. Everyone ran hard, but we're just not the overly speedy type! The challenging part was the sleep deprivation. I thought, "oh I can sleep when other people in my van are running." Nope! When you're van is "active" it's always moving: picking up the last running, driving to the next location, cheering along the way, driving to the next location, cheering, dropping off the next runner." Lather, rinse, repeat! There wasn't even time to stop for food along the way because you can't just tell someone to get in the car after they've ran. They needed time to stretch because they were going to have to run again in a few hours. Once your van is done and the other van starts its legs you've got to get food, calm down, and then try to get an hour or two of sleep. 

But then you want to go and cheer for your other's vans runners and you realize that you can catch up on sleep later in life! 

Bourbon Chase was amazing. Yes, the roads were not closed to vehicle traffic, but who in their right mind would think they would be during a 200 mile road race! However, every single intersection had multiple signs pointing runners in the correct direction. Larger intersections had police escorts to stop traffic and let runners pass through. I never once had to stop at an intersection because even at the smaller ones vehicles would see a runner coming and they would stop traffic and let you pass. 

Plus, running along open roads in Kentucky meant for beautiful scenery, lots of cheering from other vans shuffling their own runners, and cheering from local residents. Oh, and a lot of horse farms. I'm going to post more photos next week of just some of the scenery because it was jaw dropping. Well done Kentucky, well done. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Big Chop

Made in the USA: Jeans: James Jean 'Neo Beau'  // Pumps: Julie Bee's 'New Yorker' // Purse: Vintage Coach  // Lips: Revlon 'Berry Allure' Lipgloss 

In my nightmares mind, if I'm ever presented with a cancer diagnosis I have my first two questions ready for my doctor:

1. How do we beat this?
2. Am I going to lose my hair?

I know that's a crazy thing to think, but I'm terrified of getting cancer. I hate to say it, but my irrational fear of getting cancer stems from the fear that I can't comprehend living without my red hair. I tend to dwell on the potential hair loss piece of a cancer diagnoses because I can't wrap my head around the potentially fatal disease aspect.  I can't explain it, but my hair is such a massive piece of my identity. When in doubt people call me "Red" or "Ginger." But those monikers dig deeper than simple terms of endearment. Being a red head is my connection to my family. We're a crazy, feisty bunch and we've each got our own shade of red. 

My fear of losing my hair began in my teenage years and started with me begging my parents to buy me a more expensive shampoo. The fear now includes an even more expensive shampoo, prenatal vitamins, lots of water, wearing a hat when running (slightly less worry about sun damage), using heat products sparingly, eating lots of fatty fish and high protein foods, and other odds and ends. 

A week after graduating from high school I chopped off 12 inches from my hair.  Then, 14 inches came off after I graduated from grad school. I had a long pixie cut for a few months. A measly 8 inches came off three years ago and it was barely noticeable. I still feel bad about that one. In February of this year I got my first hair cut since I was 20 years old where I took off more than a few inches, but not enough to donate. And I felt guilty about it. Really, ridiculously, guilty. 

Last Monday night I sat down in a salon chair and said, "chop it off." I cringed when that first cut was made. It took 4 hacks to make it through all my hair (it's a lot thicker than it looks!). I had wanted to give 12 inches, but one thing led to another and I was left holding 15 inches of a red hair in my lap. 

Gulp. There it was staring at me. But you know what - red heads get cancer too. It takes at least 4-10 donations to collect enough hair to make a wig for one person. That's a lot of hair!

So the reason I don't style my hair every day, blow dry my hair often, or color my hair in any way is because I'm paying it forward with my hair. Somewhere there's a red head rocking an amazing wig that contains a few of my strands. I hope that she's able to feel just a bit confident with her wig.

Rational thought would have dictated that I would have waited until after my next marathon to chop off my hair (my pre-race routine is a well oiled machine at this point). However, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and it only made sense to chop off my hair now and donate it to a woman who is facing something far more difficult than how to wear her hair on race day. 

For additional information on how you can donate your hair I recommend both Locks of Love and Pantene Beautiful Lengths. I've used both organizations twice now. For additional information on how you can get involved and make a donation, in any way shape or form, please visit the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month website

If you're thinking about donating your hair I highly recommend making the cut. Go short. I'm not a fan of my own hair when it's short, but anytime I get frustrated by my limited hair style selections I remember how much I love playing with my hair and if I can do anything to give someone else that happy feeling then I'm doing it. Gotta grow it out so I can donate again in another 3 years. 

Cancer is an absolute b*tch and anything that can be done to help out a family battling that monster is a good thing in my book. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Made in USA Plaid

Fall is officially here! There were a few rough weeks where the weather was a bit erratic, but now the weather has cooled and it's time to bring on fall's greatest print - plaid! Whether you want a little plaid or a lot there are plenty of made in the USA plaid items available.

My hubs is a huge hoarder fan of plaid and his plaid collection far outnumbers mine. I wish I could steal a few of his broken in plaid shirts, but alas that's just not in the cards. Now, if anyone buys him that plaid hat or scarf well then it's game on and I could totally "borrow" those beauties.

What's your favorite plaid piece in your wardrobe? Are you looking to pick up anymore plaid now that the weather has finally cooled to seasonally appropriate temperatures?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

SHOPBOP Friends and Family Sale

Kenneth Jay Lane 'Polished Drop Earrings'  // Alexis Bittar 'Crystal Encrusted Horseshoe Necklace' // Tucker 'Button Wrap Skirt' //  Clover Canyon 'Russian Enamel Pencil Skirt' //
Nanette Lepore 'Grand Bazaar' Coat // Heidi Merrick 'Riding Jacket' // David Lerner 'The Madison' Colorblock Dress // Bailey44 Sleeveless Lace Detail Dress //

Let's be honest, one of the cruel downsides of online shopping is that dreaded moment when you order something and it just doesn't work for you. The fit is off, the color doesn't mirror what was on your monitor, it didn't give you goosebumps in person, or you just don't have the body type of a standard fit model. Been there done that. That little moment of glee that accompanied your wrapped package is now replaced by guilt and the shame that accompanies having to send something back. Especially if it didn't fit!

If you're like me  you keep those moments as infrequent as possible by sticking with a few brands. This can make you skeptical of trying something new without trying it on first in person. However, every once in a while a great sale comes around and that allows me to step out of my comfort zone and try a new brand.

HURRY! Shopbop's friends and family sale is going on NOW and ends TOMORROW, October 17th. Try something new or stick with a classic piece. Whatever you do, please check out those gorgeous beauties above and take comfort knowing that each and every one of them was made in the USA.

Use code INTHEFAMILY25 at checkout to score 25%. Some exclusions do apply.

What are you scoring during the friends and family sale?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Baltimore Running Festival 2013 Recap

The walk leading up to the start of the half marathon. Photo stolen from my sister's Instagram feed. 

This past weekend I joined a few thousand other runners in Baltimore and took part of the Baltimore Running Festival. This is now the third year that my best friend and I have run the half marathon as a fun run leading up to our fall marathons. My bestie, Bee, is getting ready to run the ING New York City Marathon in just a few weeks so she added on a few miles before the race and turned this into her last 20 milers.  I had wanted to go sub 1:50 for my half, but unfortunately my hip had other ideas in mind and I was able to get through the course in 1:57. Every hill felt more difficult than I remembered and I kept thinking to myself, "when are these hills going to end?" Even the down hills were painful! 

Bee and I pre-race. The hat was a last minute addition as it started to rain right before the start of the race.  The weather was definitely fickle on Saturday morning - there were periods of rain and wind, but overall a nice, yet humid, day.  

One knock on the race - the start line for the half marathon was moved north a few blocks. Bee and I were supposed to start in the first wave, but we ended up starting in the third wave because we didn't realize the start line was moved and we had to walk north to get to the start line. That change also meant our significant others missed us starting because they were also camped out by the old start line. I know that it is our fault for not reading the map in more detail, but I guess we got lazy because we've run this race a few times. 

However, the real attraction for this year's race was the 5k. I registered my nephew to run the 5k as an invitation to get my sister and him to come down for a weekend :) Just like any stubborn 13 year old he had to come in late the night before the race because he refused to miss one of his middle school soccer games. We're so alike it isn't even funny! 

Bee's boyfriend was kind enough to run the 5k so that there would be a set of eyes on the kid during the entire race. Thank goodness for speedy friends who can dog out a 20 minute 5k without a speck of training! 

The 5k utilized the same start line and first mile of the marathon course. This allowed us to watch all of the marathon pageantry and cheer for all of the marathoners as they started their long trek toward 26.2. After the start of the marathon I pulled the kid aside and told him to make sure he was in the first or second row to start the 5k. I had examined the results for the past few years and based on previous results the kid had a solid chance of finishing in the top 25 if he ran his race. 

He did fantastic! A new 5k PR with a 19:24 and he finished in 12th place out of 3400+ runners! I'm not sure who was added to the official results because on Saturday the results stated he came in 11th overall. Eh, close enough!  Here's video of me screaming like a proud auntie at the start of the race. 

After the race he was upset with his time and he confided to me that he had kicked it in early. A spectator yelled to him when he came near Camden Yards that he was almost done, so the kid kicked it in only to find that the race finishes well past Camden Yards. A rookie mistake. Although my sister and I used that as rational that the kid will be getting a running watch from Santa this Christmas. 

I'm sure every runner can remember a race when someone yells to you, "you're almost there" and you're nowhere near the finish line! Not a knock on spectators at all because I love each and every one of them, but "almost there" is a very speculative distance.  I told the kid later in the day that someone told me once at mile 3 of a marathon that I was almost there! It happens. 

Honestly, this past weekend was amazing. I can barely focus on my race, but instead I can remember in vivid detail every second I got to spend with my family. I feel terrible that I didn't get a picture of all of us, but it was amazing. We had quite the cheering section for the kid: my sister, my hubs, my brother, my best friend, her boyfriend, and me. By far the most bizarre sight of the weekend was my 6'3" brother hosting our sister onto his shoulder so she could have a better view of her son crossing the finish line.  That's love! 

I can't wait to run another race with my nephew. I'm going to try to find a race around Christmas that we can do together in New York and I'm trying to find other races he can do in Baltimore.  I don't play video games and I have no idea what it is like to be teenage boy, but I do know a bit about running and I'm truly blessed to share my passion with the kid. Plus, he can play video games with my hubs! I don't have to learn how to play them. 

The best part of the weekend was having the kid tell me, "next year I won't kick early and I'll do even better." I'm already counting down to next year's Baltimore Running Festival when I can see him run again. 

Anyone else race this weekend? How did it go? Any PRs?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Man Repelling

Wednesday night I joined my friend Meaghan and a few hundred other bloggers/fans/stalkers to attend a book signing by Leandra Medine. She's the smart aleck behind the Man Repeller blog.  The book signing was hosted by BrandLinkDC at the W Hotel's P.O.V. rooftop bar

Measure of success for me: making a funny person laugh! 

Measure of success for someone else: writing a book and having the cover of your book made into an edible adornment on mini cupcakes. Because honestly just having your edible book cover on a regular sized cupcake would be bush-league!  Thanks Georgetown Cupcakes for the delicious treats.

Kind of random, but there were models sporting looks curated by the Man Repeller. I just thought the reflection of the lights were cool. 

Speaking of pretty lights - hello lover! 

Two things:

First - Back in February Leandra Medine spoke at the IFB Conference and one thing she said struck me. She was providing bloggers with advice on how to stay true to themselves and she said, "Niche Niche Niche Niche" Recap here 

It was at that point in time that I was still slowly embracing my "Made in USA" motto, but after hearing it over and over again that having a small focused approach was better than having a wide approach I figured why not go with it. And since then I've been focusing on items made in the USA whenever possible. My friends used to think I'm crazy. They probably still think I am, but at least now they just go with it. 

Second:  I have the utmost respect for funny women. I vividly remember a very frank conversation I had with a highly respected grad school professor about life and funny women. This professor had just met my soon-to-be-hubs at a department social event and saw how crazy we were about each other. My professor was thrilled for me because there was an old adage that funny and successful women did not always have the best of personal relationships. The beginning of that conversation felt like a slap across the face with a hot iron. I felt like I had to make a choice in life: be funny and single or be not-funny and married. 

To sum up: I said "screw it" to the old world of thinking and I went ahead and married the hubs and we make each other laugh every day. Okay, fine I no longer do stand up comedy, but those engagements were few and I think my potential was held back by my lack of cursing rather than my happy home life. I can still crack a joke during the most insensitive of times like the best of them. 

All of this boils down to why I'm a huge fan of Leandra Medine's and many other intellectual, funny women. The old world thinking that women couldn't be smart, funny, and successful is just outdated. Nobody's got time for that crappy way of thinking! Smart and funny women do not repel men. They repel intellectually inferior little boys, but attract smart and funny men. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. 

What was a moment in life where you said, "screw it" and did it your way?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

American Made Fall Boots

There's just something about skinny jeans and boots that goes together like lamb and tuna fish. They're just perfect with each other. Whether you need a classic fall boot for work or play this season the six boots above have got you covered. Tall, short, heavy-duty, flashy, yeah, they're all represented.

The best part is that they're all made in the good ol' USA. Now go finalize your apple picking outfit  and I'll meet you in the orchard. Or meet me at the bar with our booties on and have a fall seasonal brew waiting for me. Honestly, that sounds like an amazing Saturday if you ask me!

While we're talking boots? What is your height preference? I used to be tall all the way, but I'm slowing inching my way down to ankle boots and booties.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Fall Sunflowers

I go through ebbs and flows with having indoor flowers, but I will throw down at the farmer's market Trader Joe's for the last bouquet of sunflowers. I don't know if it is because my dad used to grow them for me when I was a kid or it is because I successfully grew my own once from seeds, but I'm completely smitten with sunflowers. 

I'm probably partial to sunflowers because even though they spend all summer chasing the sun they are the unspoken official flower of fall. And I've made it abundantly clear that I love fall.

I do not, however, love 86 degree days and drowning humidity in October. Since Mother Nature wasn't cooperating outside I needed to bring a bit of fall inside. A few faux pumpkins (real ones are coming in next weekend!) and a fresh bouquet of sunflowers did the trick. 

Although even in this brutal heat wave there are a few signs of fall outside. Looks like I'm going to have to break out the gloves here soon and rack up some leaves. 

Anyone else a sunflower fan? I just don't know what it is about those flowers, but I love them. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Monkey Business

It seems this is my, "hello officer" face. I like to call it, "smile huge and act innocent." 

Made in USA: Tee: American Apparel c/o Mail Chimp // Skirt: Karen Kane (chevron version)// Bag: Luciana Verde via My Habit // Nails: Essie 'Bahama Mama' 

Imported/Unknown: Shoes: old Calvin Klein via RueLaLa // Bracelet:  old InPink // Necklace: gifted Wallis (England) 

Monkey business people. Absolute crazy shenigans have occurred this past week.

1. DC. Seriously, Congress. There are no words. Actually, there are plenty of words, but I generally try to keep my f-bomb allotment to four or less per year. It's been tough this week. My best friend is furloughed. Many of my friends are furloughed and it's also affecting my own work details. Not cool.

2. The weather. What the french toast!?!?!?!?! It is OCTOBER and it was almost 90 degrees this week. Fine. I'll wear a white striped skirt after Labor Day. Deal with it! For the record I would much rather be wearing sweaters and as much leather as possible right now.

3. Busted. I live in suburbia and I generally avoid taking any type of outfit post photos in my neighborhood because I don't want my neighbors to think I'm certifiably crazy. They already think I'm pretty looney because they see me running all the time.

For outfit post photos the hubs and I quickly stop by one of three empty buildings on either our way home from work or on our way out to dinner. The massive parking lots and the occasional brick background offer a safe environment. Plus, there is never anyone around so I don't have to deal with anyone thinking I'm weird (besides the hubs). I'm shy enough in front of the camera without someone else throwing side-eye at me.

I guess the one building wasn't so empty. The hubs was able to take a few photos and then we heard a loud, "what are you doing?" There was a security guard coming our way and we decided to get the heck out dodge before I got thrown in jail for refusing to hand over my camera.

I probably couldn't have planned a better day to wear a graphic tee with a massive monkey on it! Has this week been nuts for you as well?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

American Made Denim Classics

(L-R):  J Brand '811' // Bullet Blues 'Fox-Azur' // James Jeans 'Neo Beau' // Earnest Sewn 'Harlan30' // Current/Elliott 'The Wide Leg' // Hudson 'Autumn Green Wax'

There's nothing more American than a great pair of jeans that is going to last year after year. Styles may come and go (hello '70s flares and '80s acid washed), but a classic cut will weather any style trend. Unfortunately, when most people think of American made denim they immediately think of Levi's. I hate to burst that bubble, but most Levi's are now made in Mexico.

Don't fret, the six amazing pairs shown above have got you covered. Truthfully, this was by far the most difficult task because for someone that lives in jeans outside of my 9-5 it was painfully difficult to narrow this down to just six pairs. I initially wanted to go with just five, but I couldn't omit any of the ones above. My rule of thumb for jeans is the darker the wash the better. Dark colors are slimming! But I can't deny that a nice boyfriend jean looks amazing in a lighter wash.

What is your favorite jean style? I'll fully admit it took me quite some time to board the skinny jean train, but now I'm stocked with a few trusty pairs and I'll never give up the cut. They're perfect for boot season.