The chief enemy of creativity... is "good" sense. ~Pablo Picasso


June 1st is quickly approaching. I've of course voiced multiple times about the all important conditioner purchase... Add to that mascara - which I've chosen not to talk much about for fear of retribution from a friend who is fanatic about expiration dates on those types of products but I also have realized that although I am in need of a few things... It's amazing to think of people who go without ANY of those "luxuries". 

I was recently introduced to a book called "Unbroken" - written by the author of Seabiscuit. Which I did not read. Upon probing about the topic - hoping it wasn't another horse story, I was equally unexcited when I was told it was a war story. A little backstory...

My father was a high school English and History teacher and we spent most of our summer "vacations" traveling to different war monuments (mainly big plaques in front of barren fields) paying our respects to different battlefields and those who lost their lives there. As a kid... I yearned for roller coasters and water parks and going out to eat. Instead... we packed a cooler with carrots, celery, homemade buns, summer sausage, cheese and maybe some cookies (if I made them), and drove our Pink Chevy full size conversion van to about 40 different states to pay our respects and see the country we were from. No AC, no video games, mainly NPR, and a KOA campground pass.

Some kids would have taken all that history to heart and become just as enthralled with it all as their father was. I did not. In fact, as is the case in many situations... I probably went in the exact opposite direction. However... as you grow older, I know it sounds cliche, but you start to "appreciate" all those things, yadda yadda yadda, and so I've started to try and resurrect the knowledge and experiences I already have and take a more mature approach. And so... I accepted the recommendation to read Unbroken. 
I'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with my mental shift to be more open - and more with the fact that Louis Zamperini is just absolutely amazing. 

In addition to being an incredibly talented runner and eventually an incredibly talented survivor - this guy made my nothingnewforayear stuff look like a joke. Granted times are a little different for us both, but as a POW in Japan for 2 years, it wasn't anything "new" he didn't get... it was anything at all. 

It seems every time I mention this book, there is almost always someone within earshot who has read the book and attests to the fact that his optimism and drive to live - is unfathomable given his conditions during WWII. 

It almost makes me want to tear down the page and deny that I ever felt upset that I was running out of conditioner or that I stole hotel soaps. I won't because as I said, times are very different now and we obviously have different issues. The point is that, the book is absolutely worth the read and the ultimate picture of someone who went without anything new and then some.... I could go into more detail about just how excruciating his life as a POW was, but I really can't express how much you need to read it for yourself. It will make you not want to ever complain, about anything, ever again. 

If you want a little more here's a review from the New York Times

P.S. I read it on my Kindle :)

Stripes from my ceiling to my toes...

There is a room in my home that is boring blue. 
Its not so much the blue... but the blah hue. 
But what do you do when you can't buy anything new?

You dig in the garage and you poke around...
and if you're lucky another color will be found. 

 In my case, all I could find was a gallon of the ordinary white.
It thought it could really add a little light. 

Depending of course on whether the paint is still ok...
only one way to find out... open it up and pray...

As I stood in the room pondering it's fate, 
inspiration came from my beloved box of striped socks and their mates. 

Welcome to the nothingnewforayear circus room :) 

Free upgrade? close enough!

I'll tell you what money can buy you. 
A big beautiful pod. Where you can stretch out, lay down and sleep comfortably on international flights. Don't worry, Jeff Smisek, President of United Airlines told me all about these wonderful new seats for 5 long minutes, as I sat crunched in my economy seat towards the back... As if I didn't notice them on my walk back to row 38. 

Money will buy you that... a lot of money, but sometimes it's worth it... if you can afford it. 

About $600 will buy you the experience of walking past those seats ranging from $2,000-10,000 to your economy seat - in the middle of the Boeing 777.
Sure they offer movies on demand, good ones even.
And TV shows, and you can even make you're own playlist for the long trip.

But sitting down in those small seats with your knees pressed up against the seat in front of you, shoving your few important belongings into the seat back pocket in front of you, creating even more of a cramped space, just praying that the person next to you had the decency to shower, maybe even apply a little deodorant before the flight, is not exactly the most relaxed way to begin a 10 hour journey inside a tube hurling through space reprocessing air... and I'm a good flyer! ha

Luckily for me I actually enjoy the feeling of being trapped in small spaces, and most of the airplane food I've had has been pretty good. I also love the chance to talk to people.
 Within the first 10 minutes I knew the lady next to me had been coached in intramural college soccer by Jon Stewart. She was traveling home after visiting her niece and was pretty excited to watch the movie the Iron Lady. She would also be enjoying the vegetarian dish...

I smiled because I had been afforded the opportunity to travel abroad for "work" and so putting up with a little cramped travel seemed like a reasonable trade off.

Rock 'n' Roll Edinburgh Half Marathon

I'd already spoken with the flight attendants and pilots, prodding them into helping me show the 2nd graders back in Iowa that Flat Stanley was on a great adventure
and I assured them that I would not pull a Kristen Wiig from Bridesmaids (unless they wanted a little excitement... :)
hilarious scene #1
hilarious scene #2
And maybe that karma played into what happened next.

The flight attendant approached me and said that the flight wasn't going to be full.
And that by some divine intervention... I would be allowed to move up to the middle cabin and have a row all to myself...

That's right. I arrived at my United economy seat fully prepared to spend the next 10 hours in less than roomy conditions...only to find that the plane was unbelievably empty and that I could have an entire row... just for me.
 Did I mention I had a really great book (Unbroken)... and a dream travel partner? (Flat Stanley) He's a great listener ;)

This is us all stretched out in our 3..."economy" seats... just hanging out. Excuse the hair. It was a long trip with a lot of rain and putting hair up becomes the norm. Flat Stanley on the other hand was looking rather dapper... although he did require a few staples to keep him pulled together. 

The food was pretty good.
 I used all three pillows and blankets that were in our "row" and made a nice little bed... and I laid down and slept for a few hours.
Key words... "laid down"

If that wasn't enough... they served us ice cream.

Did I mention I had an awesome book to read?
Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand

I'll tell you what money can't buy you...
The emotional high... of moving your few possessions from the seat back pocket in front of you into the seat back pockets... plural in your own row that you didn't have to pay a dime for... Laying down after a big trip and waking up to the sound of a very nice flight attendant asking you if you'd like another ice cream... for Flat Stanley of course :)

Did I mention I came home to these???


Such a Sucker in Scotland :)

I'm not going to lie. 
Passing gift stores full of neat stuff and having to walk away... got to me a little at first. 

I was in a foreign country and I really wanted to break all the rules...
Scotland is of course famous for the Lochness Monster -  lovingly referred to as "Nessie" - the name attached to all the plush toys with smiling faces radiating from an incandescent green hew... not exactly the Lochness Monster I remember learning about when I was a kid. ha

But I did try to believe that to really take in anything, it's about feeling it, tasting it, touching it, hearing it, smelling it...NOT 'buying' it. 
 - and I don't say that just to make myself feel better about not having a "souvenir". It's true.

There was the beloved European Fanta I couldn't wait to have again, and cashmere was being sold on every corner...
 but as I talked to the people who lived and breathed "Edinbuttr" Scotland, as they taught me...
 It became very apparent that unlike Americans, they really aren't about a lot of "stuff" anyway. 

For example, one day we needed to do a little shopping run for some pretty average stuff. 
Duct tape, scissors, zip ties, Sharpies, etc. 
Standing in various stores in search of all of these things, what lay before us was a pack of 20 zip ties, 3 rolls of Duct tape and 5 pairs of scissors - in the whole store! We of course needed the Costco versions of these items... 

It dawned on me that although for our race we needed a lot... even at my own house... I probably own 5 scissors. 
One in the garage, one in the kitchen, one in the bathroom (haircutting), one in my desk, and there's probably one more floating around... just in case. (just in case... sad reality)

My point is that I realized, I really could get by with less. And here I was, looking at entire Nation, who was living it.  And.. having less things means less things to keep track of, to take care of, to lose... you get it. 

Now don't get me wrong. They think Americans "go big" with everything. Which is true. 
But in some cases... I couldn't be prouder to be an American when I witness some of those "big" things we do. 

Namely... the great American Shower.
Talk about something I appreciate more than ever. 
A big, hot, entirely enclosed, severe water pressure out putting showers... are amazing

The half glass, hold the sprayer yourself while you try and sudz up your hair thing, sitting down... just isn't the same.

But back to the point... There are some "souvenirs" I was able to get entirely for free... that truly mean more than a t-shirt to "prove" I was there. And this, is one of my favorites. 

A beautiful morning walking past St. Giles Cathedral. 

I certainly enjoyed the food (Pret a manger - was one of my go-to's) along with the national soda IRN BRU (which outsells Coke and Pepsi!)

 I took in the fresh rain filled air and green grass of Arthur's Seat and a rainbow...

 the potent but smooth aroma of locally distilled Macallan whiskey, 

felt the old stone walls of some of the worlds oldest castles 

Oh and did I mention the "listening" part??

Let me tell you about a fun "fact' I learned while I was in the HoneyBee Hive Pub the night after the race. 
I'm approached by a tall young gent who asks if I am the girl who was "commentating" at the end of the race. "Yes" I replied. 
"I almost ran you over" he said. 
I chuckled. There are a few runners every race who get a burst of energy upon seeing the big finish line structure and bolt to the outside of the finish chute to sprint their way to the end. Usually I'm standing near the outside, right along the fence, and I can see the determination in their faces and so I flatten myself along the fence and let them past. With just 5,000 runners I actually remembered seeing this mans determined face, and the flick of his hand gesturing to me to get out of the way. As he passed he must have had to really dig down deep because he growled a little bit. 
I was not mistaken. 
(His friends made it very clear to him that he indeed make a very odd growling sound as he sped past them as well)

Either way we all had a good laugh about the race and of course the conversation continues about where everyone is from, what we had done during our time in Scotland etc. 
One of my regrets was not trying haggis. There was a food vendor at the race but by the time I was finished the food vendor had packed everything up. We scoured the menu at the Honeybee Hive in search of some, but no such luck. To make up for it I suppose, the guys started telling me all about it. 
It was a "sausage" or hot dog of sorts. various meats from an animal that lives in the highlands cased in it's stomach - traditionally. 
"Is it like a pig?" I asked.
No. They told me it was smaller. 
"Like a raccoon?" I pressed
No. Smaller they explained. And since it lives in the highlands and spends all it's time in the hills, it has adapted physically. One side of it's legs is shorter than the other. Which gives it an advantage in some ways, but a disadvantage when it comes to being caught. hmmm. 
You should have heard the ghost stories I heard a few nights prior as I was roaming the ancient city....

This is what I do know....
Haggis is a kind of savoury pudding containing sheep's pluck (heart, liver and lungs — see offal); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally encased in the animal's stomach and simmered for approximately three hours. Most modern commercial haggis is prepared in a sausage casing rather than an actual stomach.
As the 2001 English edition of the Larousse Gastronomique puts it, "Although its description is not immediately appealing, haggis has an excellent nutty texture and delicious savoury flavour".[1]
The haggis is a traditional Scottish dish, considered the national dish of Scotland as a result of Robert Burns' poem Address to a Haggis of 1787. Haggis is traditionally served with "neeps and tatties" (Scots: rutabaga and potato), boiled and mashedseparately and a dram (a glass of Scotch whisky), especially as the main course of aBurns supper. However it is also often eaten with other accompaniments.

Here is what I just learned yesterday.... :)

Now... that is something money... just can't buy.

Wet Wellies and wonderful food!

Each day has started a little wet, been fairly sunny, and then rainy at night.
Just to be sure... I've been wearing my Wellies. 
I gotta tell ya... could be one of the most "useful" thrift store purchases I've ever made. 

DAY #1

DAY #2

and just in case there was any doubt about how much "work" i'm doing... ha
I also managed to polish off an entire pizza by myself tonight. Now that's work!

Oh and did I mention we did Karaoke last night? Apparently they're not big country fans around here :)
My Miranda Lambert "Gunpowder and Lead" only got a few laughs when I got to the chorus... ha
But you know I got home safe and dry thanks to my big green boots. 
They kind of help me camouflage into the terrain. It's so green here!
Little do they know what lies beneath... ha

Then headed over to stuff goody bags for the Rock n Roll Edinburgh Half Marathon with some local high school kids. What a hoot! They really like Lucky Charms... and they can't get it here. I asked if we could make a deal? Lucky charms for Fanta in a can...

We were getting so hungry stuffing and of course we started talking about McDonalds, and In-N-Out and Chick-fil-a and they asked if I liked Jaffa cakes? 

That's on my list to try tomorrow. 
My rule is I have to try one new food everyday. 
Yesterday I had a Double Decker candy bar - pretty good.... 

 and today I tried two different kinds of "crisps" or chips. One flavor was Steak and Onion and the other was Prawn Cocktail. Good!

"What did you do while you were in Scotland Ann?"
Well... I tried every kind of junk food they had!" 

Oh and last night we ate Sea Bass - with the head on! at The Outsider - delicious. 

Thrift store Kilt shopping

When you travel abroad, it's advised that you contact your bank to let them know... in case they see some weird charges coming from say... Scotland. 

I had to laugh because today I used my credit card in Scotland and figured if they questioned the charge, they could easily see it was at a Salvation Army and would think... yep, that's probably her... :)

Wandered around some "vintage" stores - which are not "thrift stores" - easily identifiable by the difference in price. 

Sure enough, ran into a Salvation Army. Probably the smallest Salvation Army I've ever seen. They're just not as wasteful over here in Europe and so they don't have as much crap to give away either. Luckily, they did have just what we were in the market for...

Last night I ate... and ate... and drank... and then ate some of the most amazing carrot cake I've ever had... at a place called
(yes it made me think of the movie... the people under the stairs - but it had a much nicer ending! ha)

I drank a pint of beer  - made with gooseberry!!

and asked the locals about "the underground city tour" and the Lochness monster 
(aka Nessie)
Apparently Nessie is a little bit of a drive away... but we were totally convinced tonight is the night. 
 I'm set to get the bejeesus scared out of me tonight as I tour the hidden underground city beneath Edinburgh and I can't wait. 

European Easter Bunny

I gave up sweets for Lent. 
Lent ended on Easter Sunday - 40 days later. 
I flew to Edinburgh Scotland on Monday. 

Hello Cadbury....

I selected only one if you can believe it. 
The KitKat Crunch... with Caramel. Didn't want to overdo it! ha

I may have augmented it with one of my other all time favorite things in Europe

Fanta tastes dramatically different here. Its more like San Pellegrino than it is soda. It must be made with a different sugar. I really prefer it in a can... but I couldn't resist. 

My thrift store rain boots are going to come in quite handy this week. Supposed to be lots of rain, but I suppose that's how it stays so green and beautiful! 

I thought at first it might be kind of silly... but everyone and I mean everyone wears rain boots here. It's a necessity. Tomorrow is going to be castle day! Pretty sure we might run into Kate Middleton. I hope she's wearing her rain boots too! ha

Sorry this one is so short and not that exciting....
I actually have to work while I'm here so I have to squeeze a lot of Scotland as a tourist in... in a few days!

Rock n Roll Edinburgh Half Marathon anyone???
Pretty good way to blow off some steam after doing your taxes :)

me vs. marketing

Everyday I wake up to emails from various retailers....
 They like to remind me I only have a few more days to save 20% at Bed Bath and Beyond, or Snapfish is offering me penny prints.
I considered "Rent the Runway" for a dress to wear to the Endurance Live Awards, and now they suggest renting an entire week of dresses! 

Upon the whole nothingnewforayear idea it crossed my mind to unsubscribe to these emails so that temptation wouldn't eat at me daily from my inbox - in addition to the newspaper flyers, tv commercials, radio commercials....oh what the heck I thought.
Maybe it's best to be taunted and tempted, and learn how to walk away. 

Well, after 10 months of email blasts I've found a new purpose for them.
Educational tools.
Since magazines are on the "illegals" list, I only get a quick run through while I'm at other peoples houses, sometimes at the airport or the other day at the Vet.
(Although they were all really old so that doesn't help)

For example... I got one this morning from Victoria's secret. They were advising me on their favorite tops for the season. Instead of cursing under my breath because if I fall in love with one I can't have it...
Now, I open up the email and cruise through their stuff with an open mind.

Then... I think about my already existent and paid for wardrobe, and inevitably, something kind of falls into that same category... And... it's my size!
no returns, no exchanges, or the shipping charges.

Now, if you ask my college girlfriends, they would assure you that just because something is "in" doesn't mean I will wear it anyway, which does make it easier for me than it does some.

They made me well aware that I looked "frumpy" and "lame" running on the Woodway treadmills in the back of the gym in my old school Umbros and baggy shirts... while they wore  matching tank tops and short cotton "Sofie" shorts expressing their love for our beloved "Hawkeyes" on their butt while jogging on the fan, stereo, calorie counting treadmills in front of the mirrors. 

For me it was function. It was my prime. I was cranking out 7 or 8 miles in the hour we were there (and protecting my knees and joints) while they put in an easy 3 and then hit the tanning beds and flirted with the boys. Not to mention the chance to run on Woodway treadmills was something I wasn't going to waste... in the winter... in Iowa.

For me, Umbros and baggy shirts didn't rub, they didn't ride up, and what did I care. I was a sweaty red mess afterwards anyway. Not exactly in a position to land a date...
My rationale was they'd find a way to get in touch when they saw my name in the paper for winning some amazing athletic event... and then we'd talk.
Hey - college is a time to dream! ha

Anyway... Now I peruse through the emails to keep up to date on what is "in" 
(Sometimes I say - well it's about time! and other fashions... well I shake my head in amazement)

 It's a good excuse to pull out some oldies. 
They say you wear 20% of your wardrobe 80% of the time. Well, if you don't really buy a lot of new stuff, but hang on to the the "quality" old stuff - it comes back around. And if you're really feeling behind and you like the new styles, make some mental notes and hit a thrift store. 

The beauty of the internet is that you can justify your style. It may not be Victoria's or Jessica's but I guarantee there are other people out there who love your outfit choices as much as you do... and if you can't find anyone - it's ok. I've only got this 5'8, blond hair, blue eyed, really tan, C cup girl who can run a 1:30 half marathon in my mirror on my team :)

For those of you who wondering if i'm being extremely arrogant right now...
I was just re-measured at the doctor at 5'5.
I have brown eyes.
I'd rather my cup size stay between me and 10 year old niece who I share clothes with...
I'm Norwegian and Dutch...
And I only broke 2 hours in a half marathon once...


up and at 'em!

I should start this off with a great big Thank you... for making me cry like a baby :)

Last week, this was Thor...barely able to sit up enough to drink water... in bed. 
An air mattress was quickly moved into the kitchen, and there, is where I slept all week.  The poor guy didn't want to go to the bathroom because of the pain. At one point he went almost 13 hours holding it. Of course dehydration was a fear of mine (in general and now more so because of his kidney issue) so if he couldn't sit up to drink out of his bowl we were going to have to find another way.
The answer... water bottles from our bikes. Just stick the little button top under his floppy lips near the crease in the back and squeeze. He actually did great, and the method hardly spills any water, anywhere! He may have actually consumed more water that way than the sloppy way he does with a bowl! ha and it let me keep track of how much he was drinking. 

As a surprise birthday present from my sister-in-law to my brother and their 3 little girls, they all came to visit for the weekend. 
We were a little concerned that Thor might get too excited and want to play and so we gave ample forewarning that staying out of the house as much as possible and remaining calm, so that he could rest, was imperative...

Well... It looks like maybe the crew took the resting part... more to heart than Thor!

this was after we came back from the pool... 

Later that night...

The following night...

and finally... we just covered this one up with a blanket and went to bed the last night. 

If you notice... Thor is usually awake in most of those pictures.
He was so grateful to have so many people willing to snuggle with him, he would just stay there and lay with them even when he wasn't sleepy. 

It must have done him some good, because this morning when we went outside to do our duty I had to put a stop to his wind sprints in the backyard... :) 
It's so uplifting to see his spirits up and his pain subsiding - but it makes it even harder to try and rationalize with him that he needs to take it easy and rest... But I'll take the latter. 

Thank you again for all of your notes of encouragement.
We'll be back at the Vet on Monday to check on the kidney issue, and will know more then. 

On a nothingnewforayear point... Those shampoo/conditioner packets that I don't love very much - seemed to work out just fine on my nieces hair. And with a few birthdays close by we also doled out some Rock n Roll Marathon t-shirts (always a big hit) and some Girl Scout Cookies for my brother, so it seems a few more birthdays were celebrated without any complaints from hand-me-downs or food as gifts!