Running Pace and Other Reflections on My 3rd Half Marathon


Before I start reflecting, here's what I've officially given the title of The Worst Photo Ever Taken of Me. My sister didn't fare too well either. (I'm only showing you this because it's completely ridiculous and also because I have no shame.)

Lesson learned: do NOT stand anywhere near a camera at 6:30 in the morning.

Two years ago this month, I took up running. It was April 2010, and a friend convinced me that we should run a half marathon together in Wichita in October of that same year, which gave me 6 months to train to run 13.1 miles. I trained through the sweltering Oklahoma summer and participated in my first half marathon. I had so much fun, I decided I absolutely needed to run another. I ran a second half marathon in October 2011. Then I ran two 10ks (6.2 miles)--one in February and one in April 2012. 

My third half marathon was on Sunday, April 29. My dad ran the half marathon as well (his first), though we didn't run together.

I write about running a lot on this blog (just click on the "running" tab to see them all), and that's because running has changed my life. In some ways it's more than a hobby; it's a way to test myself, push the limits of what I think I can do, and challenge myself to always be better. (And it allows me to eat pretty much whatever I want with no lasting effects.)

My personal best half marathon time was 2 hours and 8 minutes. When I signed up for the OKC memorial race, I set a goal of under 2 hours. Training began, and I quickly realized I had failed to consider just how hard it actually was to shave off time. 

I don't know all that much about the technicalities of running, but over the past two years I've observed a few things--one being that everyone runs at his or her own pace. Obvious, right? But the more I thought about it, the more it dawned on me that that's exactly why some people are faster or slower than others. Being in shape and adequate training are important, no doubt--but it starts with natural paceA person who finishes in 2 hours might not actually be in better shape than a person who finishes in 2:12, and they might not have been training as long. They could be, and they might have, but I still believe that from the get-go, the former had a faster running pace, so he or she finished sooner.

Case in point: my brother, who ran his first half marathon in 1:58 with minimal training. It was hard for me to not be slightly upset about his result, seeing as how I had spent months training, only to get a slower time. But if his natural pace is faster is mine, it's not a strike against my training or how in shape I am. It's just a fact that he runs faster than me.

When I set out on a run, my natural pace is a 10-minute mile. That pace got me across the finish line in Wichita in 2:08. So to cut 8 whole minutes off my time, I would need to somehow actually increase my natural running pace by a full minute per mile. 

After that genius thought hit, I bumped my finishing goal back from under 2 hours to anything under 2:08. (Secretly, though, I was still hoping for as close to 2 hours as I could get.)

The last 5 miles were terribly, dreadfully horrible. A few times I semi-seriously considered quitting. Just running into the grass and quitting right then and there. You see, what I realized too late (as in, 8 miles into the run) was that I'd been training for 9-minute miles, but I hadn't been going on runs longer than 8 miles at that pace. So for the first 8 miles, I was rocking a 9-minute pace. I congratulated myself more than a few times on my speed and was satisfied with how everything was falling perfectly into my running plan.

When I saw Jordan and my mom and my sister somewhere along mile 9, they said I was right on pace for a 2-hour half or, if not fully under, definitely close to it. 

Then I hit my wall, and so began the horribleness of the last 5 miles. 

After three half marathons, I can tell you with certainly that I hate mile 9 with the passion of a thousand fiery suns. Curse you, Mile 9! I felt like I was running through sand, and I got slower and slower...and slower. 

I hadn't once looked at my watch for the overall time, but when I finally hit mile 12, I figured I should see where I was at. 


"Crap!" I shouted out loud, causing a few odd looks from nearby runners. That one word had cost me precious and much-needed energy, so I continued the rest of the conversation in my head: Forget under two hours, you slow dummy. If you don't hurry up, you won't even beat your old time! Get moving! 

I spent the next 1.1 miles issuing loud, audible grunts every 30 seconds or so. This confused nearby runners and caused more odd looks, but I was beyond caring. A stream of negative sentences were running through my head. Apparently I had no energy left to encourage and found that negativity was easier.  

The running has to stop. This is the worst I've ever felt in my life. I am never running again. Heck, I might even quit right now. MAKE IT STOP!

My faint light of inspiration was the sheer fact that the sooner I got to the finish, the sooner I could stop. Forever. That and the fact that I would feel like a huge failure if I didn't at the very least beat my old time kept me moving forward at as quick a pace as I could manage. 

Oh, and the fact that I'd written this message in Sharpie on the back of my calves: 

I saw someone do this once and thought it was a fun idea. The only problem is that if you write something like this on yourself, you can't very well stop and walk without looking ridiculous and hypocritical. 

Also, please note the arrow, which is pointing to the blood that seeped through my shoe when my toe split open. I was stupidly not wearing my blister-proof socks. This has happened to me before.

At the end of it all, I clocked in at 2:07
Forget 8 minutes. I was overjoyed to have lost 1. And that's the truth.

I was smiling, but really I felt like I was dying. 

Despite my negativity, I do plan on running another. I will continue my quest for an under-2-hour time, although now I realize it might take me years. Literally. Even so, I know what I need to do now, and I'm more prepared for the simple fact that speeding up your natural running pace is hard, hard work.

So just know that this is not the last you will hear from me about running. I don't know if that's a warning or something to look forward to, so take it as you will. Running is part of my life now, and I love it. It's hard and stressful and downright dreadful sometimes, but there's nothing quite like crossing that finish line, knowing you wanted to quit but didn't, knowing you did something that at one time seemed impossible. And--for me, anyway--the lingering knowledge that at some point in the future, I'll line up at the start, and it will happen all over again. Mile 9 is waiting.

For now, however, I'm icing my knees and eating cake.

(Oh, and I can't forget to mention that my dad's a total rockstar. He finished just 7 minutes behind me in 2:14.)

(It started raining. That's not all sweat!)

Stupidity: 2; Bumgarners: 0


Yesterday I did something stupid, but I didn't think it was funny enough to earn itself a blog post, so I just wrote a Facebook status about it. 

But then tonight Jordan did something stupid. I decided it was the universe telling me that our combined stupidity was too ridiculous not to share on my blog (which may or may not technically reach more people than a Facebook status, but that's beside the point).

Stupid something #1, brought to you by me:

Last night, while I was waiting for dinner to finish cooking in the oven, I started unloading the dishwasher. In the past I've had a few plates or glasses come out needing an extra rinse because there are still small particles of food. This annoys me to no end. 

But last night was the worst I'd ever seen. I pulled out a plate, and it was dirty. So I put it in the sink and washed it by hand. The next plate I pulled out looked the same way, and so I washed it by hand. Then I pulled out a bowl, and it was dirty too, so I gave my dishwasher an evil look and launched into a five-minute criticism of crappy apartment appliances and the complete and utter uselessness of my dishwasher--all the while continuing to remove plates and bowls and silverware and wash them by hand. 

It was only after I had almost emptied the entire bottom rack that I remembered how earlier that morning I had loaded the dishwasher, closed the door, locked the handle, and left for work, completely forgetting to add soap and actually start the dishwasher. 

I felt like I owed my dishwasher an apology. 

Stupidity: 1
Amanda: 0

Stupid something #2, brought to you by Jordan:

Tonight I made my mom's favorite meal: chicken cordon blue. Making said chicken involves folding a slice of cheese and ham inside a chicken breast and using a toothpick to hold the sides together.

When I called Jordan into the kitchen to eat, I added this warning: "Watch out for the toothpicks in the chicken." 
We got our plates and sat down to eat. 
"How is it?" I asked after a few minutes of silent chewing.
"It's, it's good..."
I could tell by the look on his face and the odd way he was moving his jaw that something wasn't right. "Are you okay?"
"I think so."
At this point I repeated what I thought was a needless warning: "Well, just remember to watch out for the toothpicks." 
"Umm, yeah." I wasn't sure why he sounded confused, seeing as how just a few minutes earlier we had conversed (albeit briefly) about the possible toothpick danger.
"That's what I'm chewing on!"
"Are you serious?" This wasn't a real question. I thought he was kidding.
"I think I ate one!"
I asked him a few more times if he was joking, just to make sure. But no, sure enough, he had been chewing for a solid minute on half a toothpick that he had thought was the burnt edge of a piece of ham. 
He searched his mouth and pieced together what he could of the mutilated toothpick on his napkin, and we determined that he had most definitely consumed at least 25% of it.
I was not sympathetic. "I warned you about the toothpicks," I said between laughs. "This is completely your fault."
He sighed and lowered his head in shame. "I know."

Stupidity: 1
Jordan: 0

Our combined total is:

Stupidity: 2
Bumgarners: 0

Don't be like us.

So, THAT Happened Again--A Lesson in Car Confidence


If there's one aspect of my life I feel confident about, it's my transportation. Everything else may be falling to pieces, but when I get into my trusty Ford Focus and turn the key, I have complete faith that it will start up and get me where I need to go and back again--with at least 34 average mpg. 

This trust is misplaced, obviously. It's a car, and it will break down eventually. I mean seriously, the dang thing is like a ticking time bomb. At least I can see my clothes fading or the soles of my running shoes wearing thin, but for the most part I can't tell when my car is going to fling my misplaced confidence right back in my face and refuse to go anywhere.  

Case in point: Saturday night. While my car didn't refuse to start, it did almost refuse to get me home. 

I was happily flying by slow people on the highway when a light dinged on my dashboard--low tire pressure. The last time that particular ding occurred, I immediately drove to 7-11 (which, thankfully, was right across the street) and tried unsuccessfully to fill one of my back tires with air before a nice man in a pickup truck took pity on me and offered to help. It was he who discovered the large nail wedged deep into my tire, from which I could hear air escaping quickly as it deflated right before my eyes. 

So this time, when the "low tire pressure" light started flashing, I had a pretty good guess about what had happened. Unfortunately for me, I was in the middle of the highway going 70, miles away from my house, and nowhere near any gas station that I knew of. I got off as soon as possible and pulled into the Whole Foods parking lot, figuring that if I was going to be stranded, this was the place to be. 

[Important side note: Have you ever been inside a Whole Foods? If not, go immediately. It's a haven of expensive, organic fruit. And other things too, but the fruit is my favorite part.]

I hopped out of my car and checked the tires one by one. The back passenger tire was noticeably flat, and I, recalling my previous experience, bent down to check for a nail. I was proud of myself for knowing what to look for.  

Sure enough, there was a sizable nail in my tire.

I bent my ear near the puncture wound and heard a hiss of air. That's when I started freaking out. If you know me in real life, you've most likely seen this in action. I am absolutely the worst with directions and get lost more often than I don't. (When I was little, I thought north was whichever direction I happened to be facing at the time, and I'm still not much better.)

I don't handle getting lost well. It usually results in tears and shouting at whoever happens to be talking to me at the moment. I'm not proud of this. 

I tell you that to say that my getting-lost reaction is similar to that of something happening to my car. It's fair to assume that the intensity level of my reaction is directly proportional to my confidence level. And since I've admitted that my confidence level is high, my reaction is as well. 

So there I was, in the Whole Foods parking lot, watching air escape from my tire while I fought the urge to burst into tears. Again, not my proudest moment, but sharing stories of my failure to be a confident female on my blog is what keeps me humble. 

Jordan was less than helpful when I called him for help. He will admit this. Our one-year anniversary is coming up next month, which means there are years and years left of learning how to handle each other. I am not easy to handle and will therefore require extra practice. Saturday night was another learning opportunity for both of us. I'll leave it at that. 

This story is already longer than I intended, so I'll skip a few scenes and jump ahead 20 minutes. 

I found myself in a Hibdon tire parking lot in an unfamiliar part of the city. It was Saturday night at 6:35. Hibdon was closed, and I was alone except for a blue SUV parked two spots down. The fact, however, that directionally challenged me had found my way to the parking lot of a car-fixing shop felt like a major success, though an actual solution was still out of sight. 

During my previous nail-in-the-tire episode not barely five months ago, I had stood by and watched while a stranger changed my tire. At that time, I had observed pickup truck man carefully and determined that changing a tire was not difficult, and I could definitely do it myself should such a need arise. I then vowed to redeem myself.

"You can do this!" I said, clutching my keys in my hand and raising a fist in the air. "You can do this."

I felt empowered. Excited, even. I pictured myself arriving home and nonchalantly telling Jordan, "Yeah, I changed my tire. No big deal."

I hopped out and practically ran to the trunk to pull out my spare. It took me a good two minutes to collect all the tennis balls that had rolled out of the bag, and then I had to move the books and bag of clothes I'd been planning to take to the thrift store for a month.

And then I was ready. 

I pulled out the spare tire and leaned it against the bumper. 
Then I grabbed the jack, leaned down, and placed it under the car. 

Just then, a white pickup truck pulled up, and a girl in khakis, wearing a blue shirt and a name tag, jumped out and walked over to the SUV. The driver of the pickup truck pulled up to me and said, "Do you need help?"

I wanted to say no. "I've got this. I'm fine. I'm just about to change this tire. No big deal." That's what I wanted to say. But what came out was a plea for help from a nice stranger in a pickup truck. Then I watched, torn with self-loathing and gratefulness, as he changed my tire. 

His girlfriend came over, and I apologized for ruining their night. "I was going to change it myself," I told her, trying to convince myself that I actually believed I would have been able to do it. 

She laughed and flipped her long brown hair over her shoulder, her eyeshadow sparkling in the fading sunlight. "Oh don't even worry about it. There's no way I would ever change my own tire." 

I sighed inwardly and turned to thank pickup truck man.

It had happened again.

I'm not at all trying to speak negatively about the kindness of strangers. The fact that there are still people willing to put aside their personal plans for the moment and help out a stranger gives me hope for the world. But seriously. I must fix this. I will learn to change a tire, and then the next time I am stranded and a strange man in a pickup truck offers to help, I will wave him along and say I've got it under control. 

In the meantime, I will take my car to the shop and have the kind mechanics fix it while my car confidence continues its steady decline.

3 Discoveries of Late


1. I like running a 10k.

I ran my second on Sunday. Clocked in at 56:21, which is a good 2 minutes faster than my last 10k time. 

Jordan, good husband that he is, came to watch. I've decided I like 10ks. 6.2 miles is long enough that I feel accomplished but short enough that I can do it with relatively no mental or physical preparation. My half marathon is in less than two weeks, and I will need much more mental and physical prep than I currently have (see #3).

2. You can brush too hard. It's a real thing. 

Forget circular brushing. Apparently the next phase of teeth awareness is brushing too hard. Who knew that was a thing? I sure didn't. I went to the dentist yesterday for the first time in at least 4 years. I learned that:
A) I still have no cavities. Hurray! 
But I also learned that:
B) I brush too hard, which has consequently brushed all the enamel off two of my upper teeth and exposed the root. 

If I continue in this brushing pattern, I could scrub off the root completely, and my tooth will fall out. This conclusion is horrifying and disastrous and not what a hypochondriac like myself needs to hear. I'm upset, of course. Why wasn't I warned about this?!

3. Oklahoma has given me allergies
3a. Allergies are terrible and should not be wished upon your worst enemy.

In Illinois, allergies are not common. Then I come to Oklahoma, and everyone I know has allergies. Including, now apparently, me. I currently sound like a ninety-year-old smoker, and I have since Monday. It's getting old. 

I'm blaming allergies on my strange dreams as well, because otherwise I have to assume they're foreshadowing an event in the near future, which I really don't want to see happen since the last few dreams have involved the untimely deaths of my husband and my mother. 

My allergies have drained me of motivation to do anything except drink hot tea. I'm going back to Illinois. 

Until next time, don't brush too hard! And sign up for a 10k. They're fun.

Polishing Your Prose, Part 4: How to Avoid Bad Dialogue


"How are you?"
"I'm fine. How are you?"
"Doing well, thanks. I am just heading to the store to pick up some dinner."

While this might sound like a normal conversation between two people speaking in real life, no one wants to read this type of dialogue in a book. Why? Because it's horribly boring. The only reason you would include something like the above in your book is if you wanted your readers to fall asleep after the first page. 

In fiction--and nonfiction--writing, your characters will come alive when they speak. And bringing them to life is not an easy feat. Luckily, bad dialogue is relatively easy to long as you know what you're looking for.

Book Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


I go to a zumba class on Monday nights. Actually, hip-hop would be a more apt description. Going to this class and being forced to watch myself shimmy in the mirror has confirmed the fact that I am very white. And a very bad dancer.

Last Monday I arrived at the community center early for no particular reason and had a free twenty minutes before class started. I decided to walk down the hall and wander around the library, just to see if anything caught my eye since I was between books at the time. Five minutes later I walked out with a worn copy of Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. You know the book I'm talking about: the one with the bold yellow cover and long title. 

Before reading the back cover, I didn't know much of anything about the plot except that it was good. That, and the library book I checked out had a blue sticker on the spine that said "mystery." The only other thing I'd heard about the story was that there was a lot of sex (this from both moviegoers and book readers). Being a conservative reader, this is most of reason why it took me so long to decide to read it at all. 

It took me 4 days to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and the experience can easily be compared to reading Stephen King's 11/22/63: I read the prologue and was hooked. The only difference is that in this case, I had to wade through the first 40 pages after the prologue, which is a boring, too-detailed financial narrative about a minor character who doesn't even appear in the book again until the last 100 pages. All I can say is that I'm glad I was forewarned about this slow beginning, because I might have stopped right then and there. (As a matter of fact, I know one coworker who told me she's tried twice to read it and hasn't been able to make it past the second chapter.) 

If you can push through, however, it's almost impossible to put down. And impossible to stop thinking about even when you're not reading it. 

The plot follows Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant but socially deviant hacker, and Mikael Blomkvist,  an investigative journalist, on a search to solve a forty-year-old murder. They wind up uncovering much more than they expected--which is, I suppose, as all good mystery thrillers go. Still, the plot for me was unexpected and entirely engaging, and there were twists and turns until the end that kept me guessing. The characters themselves were unique and believable as well.

On the whole, I greatly enjoyed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and am glad I finally read it. What's strange about this book is how so many people read it and like it, yet there's so little actually said about it. A friend of mine wrote a review, and I'm going to copy a few lines from her post, because I don't think I could say it better: 

"My conjecture is that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is intriguing for Americans first and foremost because it’s so entirely different from what we’re used to. This novel is very European, by which I mean that it is rather mature for U.S. standards and more liberal than we’re usually willing to be comfortable with." 

In 2011 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was made into an American movie (the original Swedish version came out in 2009) starring Daniel Craig and previously unknown Rooney Mara (who earned an Oscar nomination for leading actress). I haven't seen it, and after reading the book, I don't plan to. 

Thinking about my conservative taste and what I am personally "willing to be comfortable with" has much to do with why, if I claim to like the book so much, I still say I do not want to see the movie. 

The shortest answer is to say that for me, reading a scene is different from watching it happen in front of me, and there are scenes in this book that I would not want to see on a screen. There is sex in this book--both positive and negative occurrences--and those negative ones are centered around sadistic abuse of women. Larrson didn't go into as much detail as I know he could have, which I appreciated. For the most part I was left to picture as much or little as I wanted; with a movie, this would not be the case. That's the main reason I am most likely not going to watch the movie. Call me a prude if you want. 

But as far as suspense and storytelling goes, Stieg Larsson is (or, was--he died in 2004 just after submitting his manuscripts) a master. 

That aside, there are some editorial concerns. Namely, his tense shifting, transitions, and short sections of text, which at times made me feel like I was jumping around too much with no place to land. It also frustrated me that it wasn't until just over halfway through the book that Lisbeth and Mikael actually met and started working together. 

Even though this is part of a trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo comes to a clear conclusion and can easily stand alone. But although the main plot questions are answered, I have to say that when I closed this book, I didn't feel a sense of closure. The best way to put it is this: the ending was neither what I expected nor what I wanted. I want to be honest about this, even though I'm not entirely sure how to explain myself.

At first, I was upset because at the end of it all there wasn't a single character above reproach. The case was solved, but there wasn't really a winner. However, after thinking about it (and through the course of writing this review), I've decided that there really was no other choice. The dark subject matter lends itself to a conclusion that is satisfactory yet, on some level (for me, at least), disappointing--another reason the movie version doesn't appeal to me and why--at the conclusion of a mostly positive review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo--I'm going to contradict (and surprise) myself and say that for the moment, I don't plan on rushing back to the library before zumba class next week to pick up book two. 

*I linked back to two reviews in this post. 

The first was written by Nathan Brandford, an author and former literary agent, on whether or not he would have accepted Larsson's manuscript in its current form. You can find it HERE.

The second was written by a good friend of mine and goes into more of the sexual subject matter and cultural biases of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo than I have done. You can find it HERE.

On Playing the Violin


Last week I was asked to play violin at a Good Friday service for a church in Amber, Oklahoma. It was a small town located a good 45 minutes out in the middle of nowhere, and it had an even smaller church sitting right in the middle of deserted Main Street.

The week before, I'd randomly received a call from the music minister in Amber, saying that he got my name from the music minister at my church and wanted to know if I would be available to play for them. He seemed relieved when I told him that yes, I would be available. He thanked me effusively and said, "I've called four churches so far, and no one has a violinist!" 

Having lived in Oklahoma now for three and a half years, this was not surprising. It's band all the way down here, and I recently had an epiphany: it's because college sports are such a huge deal, and they want people to play in the band at football games. 

In Illinois, however, it's quite the opposite. There's band, of course, but orchestra is offered as an elective as early as the fourth grade. That's when I started playing the violin. One day during music class, they brought in all the different instruments and let us try them out. If we were interested, we could come to school early once a week and start learning.

Looking back, I'm not sure why I initially picked the violin. It could have been because I didn't want to carry the bass or cello around, and I think I liked how the violin played higher notes than the viola.

I played for the rest of fourth and fifth grades and all though middle school. When I was eleven, it wasn't considered "cool" to be in the orchestra, and I hated carrying the ugly rental case back and forth every day. My parents bought me a violin case in seventh grade, but what I really wanted was a violin of my own. They said they wanted to wait to buy me one until they were sure I would keep playing. 

I entered high school and signed up for orchestra as my elective, where I became part of a sixty-piece orchestra. For Christmas freshman year, my parents bought me a violin. I started crying when I saw it. To this day it's my most memorable Christmas present.

My senior year I made first chair of the second violins, which meant I got to sit in the front row next to my best friends, who, incidentally, sat first chair first violin, first chair viola, and first chair cello. We had good times in the front row avoiding being hit by our conductor's baton or sprayed by his spit. 

Then I joined my college orchestra. It was much smaller and included members from the community--older men and women who still enjoyed playing. We came together with the choir and played The Messiah every Christmas. I loved it.

Every once in a while I would bring my violin to my grandparents' house and play for them. When we went back to Illinois for my grandma's funeral in December, I considered bringing it with me. Just because I knew she would have loved it. (We could barely fit ourselves in the car, though, so the violin stayed at home.) I remember once playing hymns from an old green hymnal my grandma found while my family sang along. 

When I moved to Oklahoma and found a church I liked, I immediately asked about playing violin on Sundays. They didn't have anyone who played; I was actually the first person who'd ever asked. Since then, I've played almost every single Sunday morning. I've also gotten the chance to teach two people, and I've played in three weddings.

This was all flashing through my mind as I drove to Amber last Friday, and I realized that it had been seventeen years since I first held a violin. 

I'm not trying to sound all poetic about it or anything, but this overwhelming feeling hit me that I am so thankful I started playing all those years ago. I don't know how hard it would be to pick it up later in life, but I do know that they say it's easier when you're young, and I don't know if I would have the patience now to learn.

I just love the way the violin sounds. I love that the old people in church come up to me on Sunday mornings and tell me how much they enjoy the music. It's not because I'm so great; I just love that I can use my talents to serve. 

And on a slightly more selfish level, I love that the hobby that wasn't "cool" in the sixth grade is now something people tell me they wish they could do. If I could, I'd go back to eleven-year-old me and tell myself not to feel stupid for being in the orchestra. 
"Self," I would say, "don't run past the eight graders in shame." Of course, middle school was a bad time for me anyway, so I don't know if that advice would have helped all that much. But a little self-confidence wouldn't have hurt. 

I guess what I'm really saying is that I'm glad I didn't quit. I could have, and I think I almost did a few times; I remember hating to practice, and I know I sounded terrible for the first few years. But my ability to play the violin is something I like about myself. It's something I'm good at, something I enjoy. Something I'm grateful to be doing now and something I hope I'll be doing in the future.

The Day I Almost Met Pioneer Woman


The day I almost met Pioneer Woman was last Saturday.

My mom came into town specifically so we could go to her book signing in the city and buy her latest cookbook. We arrived at the bookstore just after high noon, bought two cookbooks, and found seats for PW's presentation, which was to begin at 1:00.

She arrived just a bit late due to a traffic jam, and we spent the next 45 minutes laughing while she shared funny stories of her early blog years and life on the ranch.

At the end of the presentation, she said, "Please don't look at me during this next part," then put up a picture of her dog on the screen and proceeded to sing "My Endless Love." This only confirmed my suspicions that she really is as nutty in real life as she appears on her blog.

After the presentation was over, they started calling numbered groups to line up to meet Pioneer Woman. I'll make a long story short and just say that my mom and I talked about it and decided to blow off actually meeting her and getting our new cookbooks signed.

Instead, we snuck into the bookstore and took a few creepy stalker pictures so we could prove we were there (even though we didn't get an autograph).

Then, we headed out for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory, shopping at the outlet mall, and pedicures. It turned to be a wonderful day--I say much better than waiting in line for hours.

And seriously, who doesn't love a good creepster photo? Win.

Chicks, Ducks, and Bunnies (7 Questions)


7 questions time! If you want to join in, head over to Gentri Lee's blog.
First, as always, a random photo that has nothing to do with the questions.  

What a truly terrible picture. I don't know what else to say except please forget you saw that. I'm not sure why I even showed it. Let's move on.

1. If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
I would love to be able to fly. Flying would be ridiculously cool. But, being someone who started wearing glasses in the fourth grade, I'd be satisfied with 20/20 vision. I sort of consider that as a type of superpower. Glasses (especially huge ones like I had) are the worst.

2. If you could hold the world record for something, what would it be for and why?
I would love to be a fast sprinter, mostly because I think it would be fun to be really, really fast. 

3. What is the weirdest thing you've ever eaten?

I had alligator bites once. They tasted like chicken. I've also eaten deer burgers, though that probably isn't that weird. 

4. Where would you hide something if you didn't want it to be found?

I'm not sure why I should answer this question....Is this a trick?
Maybe I'm being too suspicious. 

5. What is one of your Spring and/or Easter traditions?

Eating sweethearts chicks, ducks, and bunnies. Around Easter, I like to buy 4 or 5 bags and eat them year round. I also like the Easter songs we sing at church. 

6. Would you rather have to cook dinner from scratch every night, make all of your own clothes (including patterns), or walk everywhere you wanted to go?

These options seems so different from the other that it's hard to choose. I'd pick cooking since I sort of do that anyway. I know for a fact I would be terrible at making my own clothes. Walking wouldn't be that bad either.  

7. What is your most embarrassing moment? 

Let's just say I once translated a Spanish verb VERY incorrectly my junior year of high school. And let's also say that while the entire class (note: even my teacher) started laughing, I still had no idea what I'd said until my friend leaned across the aisle and whispered it in my ear. In the interest of keeping this blog PG, however, that's all I'm going to say. 

Guest Posting at: The Pen and Whisk


Today is my first guest post! I'm excited to be over at The Pen and Whisk talking about one of my favorite things: cupcakes! 

Head on over to The Pen and Whisk and check out a few tips on baking delicious, homemade cupcakes.