My Style: An Age-Appropriate Dress


I was at Target yesterday to go grocery shopping, and of course I had to swing by the clothes department just to see what the haps was. The first thing I saw were bathing suits. 

No, Target.
Is it not still February? Come on, people. I guess it's March tomorrow, but still.
Anyway, behind the swimsuits I saw a rack of dresses. Target always has the cutest dresses. I didn't buy anything, but seeing the dresses reminded me of the time about six months ago that I bought a dress from Target I thought was super cute. I tried it on at the store and checked myself out in the mirror and was all "why hello there, sexy" to my reflection. 

I brought it home and immediately put it on, excited to show Jordan my new summer dress. He was not impressed.
In fact, these were the first words out of his mouth: "That looks like a little girl's dress." He followed that deflating statement with: "Your sister would probably like that dress."

My sister is fifteen.

So I was all, "you are totally ruining this for me" and "by the way, you know nothing about fashion." But in the end I decided I sort of agreed with him, plus the dress was a little tight, so I took it back.

Fast forward approximately 13 days later.

We went to a wedding of a friend of mine, and at the reception I saw herIt was this cute, petite girl who was most definitely not older than my sister, which meant she was probably 13 at the most, was wearing the same Target dress. I punched Jordan in the arm and whisper-shouted, "Look!" 

He saw my thirteen-year-old twin and started cracking up. Apparently it was a dress for a little girl, because it looked way better on her than it had on me. That situation confirmed my belief that I should not go shopping alone. 

This all brings me to my brand-new Eshakti dress, which I just got in the mail earlier this week. This is a fun, cute dress that is not a, ahem, little girl's dress. Amen. Hopefully you can't tell that I'm freezing in these pictures. It was approximately 30 degrees outside, and my leg hair was growing a mile a minute. Don't look closely. 
Do you like how I put the watermark right in my armpit? 
Again, don't look too closely. Pleaseandthankyou.

Isn't this dress so cute? I love it. I even got to customize the length so it would fall just above my knees rather than below. I have huge calves, so the below-the-knee length is not a good look for me. 
It fits perfectly, and I love the stripes, the shape, and the pockets! Pockets are in right now.  And here's the kicker: this dress is machine washable. Boom. I try to only buy things I can wash because I'm lazy.

Check out Eshakti and get 20% off through March 10 using the code: THELDYKE

Marathon Training: Week 8


I already posted about my fifth half marathon, but I wanted to actually write about week 8 of marathon training. Week 8 looked different from my previous weeks for a few reasons, the main one being that I moved my Tuesday/Thursday runs to Wednesday/Friday. 

I also made the decision to plan what I called a "mini taper," which means that I intentionally lowered my mileage in order to give my legs a rest before the half marathon. I definitely think it was a good choice and gives me confidence for the marathon taper, which will start 2 weeks before the marathon. 

On Saturday I am running a 25k and also another 3 miles to get to 18 for the day, and then after that I will almost be at my longest mileage before the marathon! Recap to come. 

Get 20% off a Custom Eshakti Design


Last year, I was happy to have the opportunity to review a piece of clothing from Eshakti. Remember this black skirt?

I recently picked out another sample, which is on it's way to me right now! I'm excited to see how it looks. In the meantime, I wanted to share a special opportunity for YOU to get 20% off anything on the site*. Just use the code THELDYKE to get 20% off a cute dress or blouse from their new spring line or even check out their collection of adorable bridesmaid dresses. Seriously so cute. 

The best thing about Eshakti is that you can customize the look just for you. Make the dress longer, add sleeves, change the neckline, or add pockets as you like--all for free!

So check out Eshakti and use the code THELDYKE to get 20% off through March 10!

*Code has to be entered in the 'Promotional Code' box. No Minimum Order Value. The discount code is not case sensitive. The code can be used any number of times until the validity period. This code can be clubbed with any other gift coupon or gift card in the same order. This discount code is not applicable on our Overstock category. Not applicable on previous purchases. 

Race Recap: Texas Cowtown Half Marathon


I'll show you the end before I start at the beginning. 
The end is that I finished and hung that awesome medal around my neck.

Now the beginning. Because I want to remember everything about this race. 

Our alarm went off at dark o'clock, aka 5 a.m.
I knew I should eat a good breakfast, but I got so nervous that all I could do was force down a few spoonfuls of oatmeal (thanks for making me some, Dad!) before I went to the bathroom 2 times.

Okay 3 times.
Okay 4. But who's counting? 

The race was set to begin at 7am, so the 6 of us piled in the car and headed into Fort Worth at 5:45. It was my dad, mom, brother, Jordan, and my brother's girlfriend, and out of all those people, it was I who made the unfortunate decision to sit in the backseat. 

Thus commenced the worst car ride known to the history of my life, where I spent the next 45 minutes debating whether or not to ask my dad to pull over so I could dispose of the 3 spoonfuls of oatmeal. I somehow held it together during five semi-dangerous U-turns, and after a close parallel parking job in front of a fire hydrant on a random side street a few blocks from the starting line, I nearly kicked Jordan in the face as I leapt out of my parents' Durango and fell to the ground, dew quickly soaking my shirt as I kissed the grass in some random stranger's front yard. 

After I decided it was safe to stand up, we walked to the start, and from there it was pretty much your run-of-the-mill race-day routine, which mainly involved trying to pin my bib on straight and then standing in line at the Port-o-Potty for 25 minutes. 

I ran with my brother, Austin, who is one of those annoying boys who is ridiculously good at everything. He said he ran a total of 1 mile in "training" for this half marathon. I wanted to punch him when he told me that. 

I knew we had to average a 9:09 pace to hit the sub 2-hour goal, but I did not want to go out too fast, because that was disastrous at the Oklahoma City Half Marathon last year. That was when I threatened to quit running forever. You can see how well that worked out for me.

The Cowtown is grouped into corrals, so your estimated ending time determines your corral. The corral starts are staggered with 5 minutes between each, which was amazing because it meant I had to do almost NO WEAVING. If you've never run a race before you probably don't know how awesome this is, so just take my word for it. My Garmin told me I ran 13.18 miles, so that's less than one-tenth of a mile extra. Again, that is amazing. Austin and I were in corral 2. 

I had previously signed Jordan up for text alerts, so he got a text with our splits and knew exactly where we were during the race. This was our 5k split:
Austin and I first saw our amazing cheer section at mile 4, and at that point I was feeling really good about our time even though it was slower than my goal pace. I knew I had more than enough time to make it up on the back half of the race. When I saw my family, I stripped off my pink sweater and tossed it to them, because it was already starting to warm up. The weather was as perfect as you could ask for. 
By our 10k split, we were still going strong, and we'd dropped our estimated finish time by 2 minutes. 
I was feeling good so far, but the kicker was going to be the terrible half-mile hill between miles 8 and 9. This thing was killer.

Once we finished the hill and I was still feeling energized, I knew the 2-hour goal was mine for the taking. By the 11-mile split, I had dropped my estimated finish time by another 2 minutes. At some point I also blew past the 2-hour pace group, which I have to say felt pretty good.

When I saw the finish line, I sprinted as fast as I could, and when I crossed, I instantly burst into tears. One might even call it hysterical sobbing, so much so that a volunteer asked me if I was okay. "I'm just so happy," I sobbed. 

Good grief, right? Who's got two thumbs and is a hot mess? This girl.
But I finished.
Official time: 1:56:47

I don't know if I've ever been so proud. 

I've got a 25k training race this Saturday and then it's nothing but training runs until the marathon on April 28. I'll continue with weekly recaps until then! 

I couldn't end this post until I gave a special shout-out to our amazing cheer section! 
They followed us to FOUR different spots on the course and were there to witness my dramatic and tearful finish. (Side note: someone tell me WHAT is going on with my dad's left hand. For serious. Awkward morning picture for the win.)

I highly recommend the Cowtown if you're looking for a fun Texas race!
It's where dreams come true. Or, something like that.

On the Eve of Half Marathon #5


Tomorrow morning I am running in my fifth half marathon at the Cowtown in Fort Worth, TX. 

Anyone who's read this blog for any length of time should know how ridiculous it still is to me that I have even run one half marathon, not to mention five. (Read recaps of all my races here.)

I'm trying not to put too much pressure on this race, but I also want to be honest and tell you that I am going for a specific time.

 I really want to run a half marathon in under 2 hours

Ever since I finished my first half marathon in 2:08, I have been trying to get to that 2-hour mark, but I have been specifically training for it for over a year now. I went for it in the Oklahoma City half marathon last April and missed the mark because I went out too fast. Everything was great until mile 9, where I faded fast. Then, in October last year, I finished the Texas Motor Speedway race in 2:03. A personal best that had me in tears (in a good way); but what I really wanted was to see a 1 as the first number. 

Now, I legitimately believe I have a shot at my goal. I had a fantastic 12-mile marathon training run in week 4 where I was dead-on my 1:59 half marathon goal pace, and now the only thing left to do is tack on another 1.1 miles! 

I am technically training for a marathon right now, so this half isn't the end goal of my training. But I've heard more than a few stories from marathoners who ran their best half marathon during marathon training. I'm hoping I can be included in that group as well.

So wish me luck! Hopefully I'll be writing a recap post about how well the race went. But even if I don't, I'm going to be cheesy and say that in many ways I've already won. Running a half marathon was a huge goal of mine, and I've been successful in ways I never imagined.

So with that said, here's to number 5! 

High Five For Friday!


To say that I am glad this week is over would be a huge understatement. That's why I am giving Friday a whopping high five. Nothing terrible happened to me, yet I had a complete meltdown on Monday night, causing me to cancel all the plans I had for the week and hole myself up in my apartment and not speak to anyone.

I literally did not answer my phone when it rang, and I canceled Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night plans. 

Has anyone else ever done this? I know I'm not the only one.

On Wednesday, I came home from work, and Jordan ran in with his hands behind his back, saying that he'd gotten me a present. It was a cupcake from the bakery that is unfortunately fortunately placed 2 minutes from my apartment. 
This might have been the best cupcake ever to be eaten.
Scratch that. 
It was the best cupcake ever to be eaten. 

And I know joy doesn't come from a cupcake, but it sure did boost my mood. 

What is something that always boosts your mood? 
P.S. Speaking of a mood boost, I'm running my FIFTH half marathon on Sunday. Wish me luck! I'll be back tomorrow for a pre-race post! Crossing that finish line always makes me smile.


The Graze Box


Have you heard of Graze? If you're like me, probably not.
Allow me to enlighten you.

A friend of mine tweeted about getting her first graze box, and I was like, What is that? It sounds weird. 

I didn't think more about it until she tweeted about it again. And again. 
Then she mentioned she PAID for it, and I was intrigued. Sure, it's easy to get excited about free stuff, but you know it's legit when you're willing to cough up the dough. 

So I signed up, and my first box came earlier this week. It was free, in fact, so I seem kind of hypocritical. But since I actually will continue to pay for the graze box, you can be sure it's serious.

How else can I describe this than a box full of delicious treats you can, dare I say, graze on? I love it! 

You can sign up to receive a box in the mail every week, every two weeks, or every month, and each box is only $5. It's delivered right to your mailbox, or you can have it delivered to your work! That's what I did. Who doesn't love mail? 

You can rate different foods and get something different in each box! Here's what was in mine this time: 

And, all the nutritional information is included, so you can see what is in each package.

If you really don't like a certain snack, you can rate it on the graze website so they will never send you that again. This goes for nuts and other allergies. 

If you're interested in trying it out, you will need an invite code. 
It's like Pinterest was when it started, only more delicious. 
Here's my code: 

It's only good for a few invites because they're just trying out the program. But try it! Your first box is FREE. After that, whatever you decide to do is up to you.

UPDATE: Apparently I made Graze sound so cool that enough of you used my invite and now it's closed. Bummer! You can still go to their site and put in your email address so they can contact you when they open it up to the public, though! 

The Valentine's Day Twitter Board


I am the first to admit that I get very excited about insignificant things. Case in point: last week, on Valentine's Day, I got retweeted on the giant billboard in Oklahoma City, and I kind of freaked out. Like, I called people to tell them about it freaked out.

You see, you can only get up on the twitter board by tweeting something witty. So for the last few months (basically ever since I got a twitter), I've been trying to tweet something worthy of getting up on the board.

Who knew that instead of trying to be funny, all I had to do was tweet something random that was also 100% true. I totally took down some Hershey's kisses the night before Valentine's Day.

So while Valentine's Day was great and all that... I love my husband and yada yada yada, the real excitement was getting my tweet up on the billboard.

My second big excitement was going out to get frozen yogurt with Jordan. Because it's delicious. 

That's how you rock Valentine's Day when you're lame awesome.

2-Step Crock-Pot Meal: Beef, Barley, & Onion Soup


Lately I have been in an inspired cooking mood. I've been trying new recipes a lot the past month or so, and it's really fun to discover meals that I know will be staples in our house for years to come. 

One such meal is an easy Crock-Pot recipe that is delicious and good for you! It involves barley, which I'd never eaten or even bought before. I would compare it to rice as far as how you cook it and consistency. It was so good! You really should try this sometime this week before it gets too warm for delicious Crock-Pot soups. Just add all the ingredients and let this baby cook all day while you're at work. Then, voila! Dinner! 

Ingredients: 9
Cook time: 8-9 hours

What you will need: 

2 lbs beef stew meat [1/2-inch cubes]
3 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 large ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch slices
4 cans (14.5 oz) beef broth
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves (*note: I didn't have any, so I didn't use it)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup barley
2 cups French's French Fried Onions, divided

(I cut up the carrots and celery the night before, so in the morning I could just throw them in the Crock-Pot.)
I just get a package of stew meat like this at Walmart or your local grocery store. You will notice that the recipe called for 2 lbs, and this is 2.37 lbs. We used all the meat, and it turned out fine. It's all about improvisation. 

Step 1: Combine beef, carrots, celery, broth, and seasonings in slow cooker. Cover. Cook on LOW 7 hours (or HIGH for 3.5 hours) until meat and veggies are tender.

Step 2: After the 7 hours, stir in barley. Cover and cook on LOW for 1 hour or HIGH for 1/2 hour or until barley is tender. Stir in 1 cup of French fried onions. Spoon soup into serving bowls and sprinkle with remaining onions.

And that's it! Super easy and SO good. This fed Jordan and I for a few days, with multiple helpings each. It was just as delicious warmed up as leftovers. 

I will add one quick note: I didn't read correctly and accidentally added 1 1/2 cups of barley (so three times as much). It wasn't a huge problem, but it did take longer to cook (it was about 1 hour on high after adding the barley); and the barley soaked up the broth, so it wasn't quite as "soupy." I think you could add as much or little barley as you wanted to, depending on how much broth you have and how much leftovers you want. 

Also, if you don't like onions, I think this soup would be fine without them. But they do add a crunch and a bit more flavor.

Marathon Training: Week 7


Last week I read a tweet that asked this question: are you a blogger who runs or a runner who blogs? 

It's an interesting thought, because I have been writing about running a lot lately. But ultimately, I am a blogger who runs. 

Over the last three years, my favorite posts have been the ones where I write about my life. Funny stories, mostly, about the things that happen to me. I write them because I don't want to forget and because I like writing stories. When I started this blog, the thought of running a half marathon wasn't even a dot on my radar. It was more like a "that would be so cool but I will never do it" kind of thing. But as I've taken on this running challenge, it's become a large part of my life as well. Even though I do not write primarily about running on this blog, my long runs in particular always leave me feeling introspective. So here goes. 

This morning was my seventh week in a row waking up at 6:00 on a weekend to do a long run. Sixteen miles. Now officially the farthest I have ever run.

I wish I could have had a camera to take a picture of my view, but at the same time I feel certain that no picture would have captured the scene. So I will attempt to recreate it as best I can. 

It had snowed overnight. Not enough to stick to the pavement, but the grass and all the trees were dusted with white. It looked like that fake snow they put on expensive Christmas trees, less like a blanket of snow and more like, I don't know...cumulus clouds, puffy and thick. The temperature was a frosty 30 degrees, and the sun was just rising. 

Our sixteen-mile out-and-back path started off in a neighborhood in the well-to-do part of Oklahoma City. Then we climbed the overpass bridge and crossed the highway before entering the park. My footsteps crunched the snow as I crossed the bridge, and I could see puffs of breath from the runners around me. The path wound through the park and went out by the lake, where the rising sun shone brilliantly on the water. After the lake we ran through a golf course, and this is where it became truly magical for me. 

It was around mile 9. I looked at my watch and realized I'd been running for close to an hour and half. An hour and a half. 

I'm doing it, I thought. I'm doing it. 

Then I lifted my head and looked around. There were hills and bridges, light tracks in the snow from the golf carts, trees that stood proud and white, the sun glinting through the trees. It was beautiful. 

And I didn't feel tired.
Now, I was tired. I am tired now as I write this. But I wasn't dying or cramping or feeling like I was going to throw up. 

I was just running.

So I ran and ran and ran. I passed back through the park and over the bridge and across the highway overpass and down through the neighborhood. By the time the run was over, it had warmed up 10 degrees, and I could no longer see my breath. The snow was starting to melt, and the sun kept rising. And I ran hard until the end, finishing 16 miles in 2 hours and 38 minutes

9:46-min/mile pace.

I am doing something I never thought I would do. 
Something that, three years ago, sounded terrifying. 

And I know I'm being a bit overdramatic. It's just running. It's just a thing people do. 

But it's also a reminder that I need to be grateful every single day. Grateful for two strong legs to run and eyes to look at the snow and see the sunrise. And ears to listen to worship music as I run and thank God for the blessing of health and life.

See? I told you running made me introspective. 

If you've stuck with me this far, I'm not really sure why. Ha. 
No but seriously.

The fact of the matter is, right now I love running. I might not this year. I might not after my marathon in April. I might not tomorrow. 
But today. Today was magical. 

And that's all I have for now. Next week I will be HOPEFULLY telling you all about how I dominated the Fort Worth Cowtown half marathon and ran it in under 2 hours. 

*cross fingers*

Why We Don't Buy Gifts for Valentine's Day


Jordan's and my first Valentine's Day together was 2010. Before then I had spent a total of one Valentine's Days with a boyfriend, so I didn't know what was going on. For our first Valentine's Day, like an idiot, I did that thing girls do where they say, "Let's just get each other something small," but really they are secretly hoping their significant other will know that they actually mean they want something big. A grand gesture, if you will. And obviously, like any female, I couldn't tell you what that grand gesture would be, but you can be sure I would know it if I saw it. 

Except there was no grand gesture, through no fault of his own. He's a guy. 
I think we give them too much credit. Or...not enough credit. Or something. 

Anyway, I don't remember what the "something small" was, but what I do remember is that I did that thing girls do where they get upset because their man didn't get them something "good enough."

After that, I decided I would never again be that girl.
Because that girl is annoying.
I don't like her.

So for the last two years, and now again this year, Jordan and I get each other one thing: a card. We don't buy gifts because, let's face it, Christmas was less than two months ago. I don't need anything.

And you know what? It's worked perfectly. No games. No expectations. No stress. 
Jordan is completely able to pick out a card, and since this is the only thing he has to do, he actually spends time finding me a good one. I like that I will have fun Valentine's Day cards to keep, and I like that we don't get mad at each other for something as ridiculous as Valentine's Day. 

I like Valentine's Day because I like the color red and I like chocolate. Even when I wasn't married or didn't have a boyfriend I liked Valentine's Day. Maybe it was because my mom always sent me something in the mail. February 14th is a Hallmark holiday, but it's pretty hard to ignore; and what I don't want is for February 14th to be stressful for Jordan and I. 

That's why we do the card thing, and I love it.

Also, this is random, but LOOK AT MY BREAD. This was my sandwich today. 
Do you see the heart? I just thought it was weird. 
That is all.

What do you do for Valentine's Day?