12/12

12.31.2014


*Project 12: A photo on the first day of every month in 2014*
January | February | March | April | May


You guys! I made it! Project 12 is now complete. I won't lie: there were two months I forgot to take a picture on the first, so we took it on the second of the month, but whatever. 

I'm going to put all 12 pictures together and include them in my 2014 recap by the numbers, so stay tuned.

Now the real question: who's joining me for Project 12 in 2015? This is seriously one of my favorite ways to recap the month. You probably have heard me talk about how much I hate weekend recap posts, and you can probably count on one hand the number of times I've done one on this blog. But Project 12 is such a fun way to recap the month PLUS you are guaranteed to have at least 12 pictures of yourself at the end of the year! DO IT. (Shoutout to Robyn who did it with me this year!)


Read
My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff
In the Woods by Tana French
Once Upon a Secret by Mimi Alford
*Reviews of all these books are up on Goodreads.

Traveled

Dec 25
Hobart, Oklahoma
Jordan's grandma's house for Christmas

Dec 26-28
Texas for Christmas

Dates
I think we got Chipotle takeout one time. I know. Party animals.

Notable Events
Dec 9--Dinner with girls from church
Dec 12, 13, 14--Play in Christmas concerts at church
Dec 14--Christmas party with friends
Dec 24-25--Christmas with Jordan's family
Dec 26-27--Christmas with my family

Happy New Year's Eve!
If you're anything like me, you'll be asleep by 11:30.

The Funniest Christmas Picture + a New Year's Giveaway

12.29.2014

Well hello there! My Christmas celebrations have come to a close, and I'm on a Christmas cookie detox at least until tomorrow. Jordan and I got back last night from a weekend in Texas with my family, and I'm on a state of high alert. Our apartment is a mess, our fridge is empty, and I have about 10 loads of laundry to do. No one told me being an adult would be so much fun. And by fun I mean hard work.

I wanted to pop in and share a funny moment from Christmas with my family. In case you haven't been around for a while, we are big fans of the tripod and self-timer. Every time the whole family is together, we set it up and take a few pictures.

This year, we all got a pair of flannel pjs for Christmas. I know for some people that's a tradition, but this is the first year I can remember everyone getting a new pair.
After everyone opened their pjs, we put them on and set up the tripod. At the exact moment the picture took, I jumped up on Jordan's back and kicked out my back leg. You know how music videos and movies have disclaimers like "no dogs or trees were harmed in the making of this movie"? 

Well, let's just say that someone WAS harmed in the making of this picture.
Ahem. Sorry, Dad.
But seriously, I'm dying right now. This is hilarious.

I'm sure there will be more Christmas pictures and stories to come on the blog, but for now... I'm excited to team up with these ladies for a New Year's giveaway that will hopefully bless one of you as we enter 2015. There will be 3 winners! Enter using the giveaway tool below.

1st Winner - $75 Value
  • Journaling Bible
  • Blessings for a Woman's Heart Devotional
  • Max Lucado Calendar
  • Jesus Today Book
  • Scripture Cards
2nd Winner - $45 Value
  • 2 CD's
  • Starbucks Gift Card
  • Notepad
  • Women's Devotional
3rd Winner - $25 Value
  • Itunes Gift Card
  • Journal
  • Scarf
It's A New Year Giveaway

Runners Tell All: 2015 Running Goals

12.21.2014

"Runner's Tell All" is a monthly linkup for runners of all ages, skill levels, and experience hosted by Sunshine to the Square Inch and The Lady Okie.
________________________________________________________
*My mom and I finishing the Oklahoma City 5k last April

We made it! This is the final Runners Tell All. If I had to go back and start over, I don't think I would have changed anything about this linkup. I loved all the topics, I'm glad it was a specific date of the month vs. the third Thursday or something (I can never remember those), and it was fun to have some sponsors for the majority of our giveaways. Shoutout to Beka, the best linkup cohost out there. We really hope you guys had fun linking up with us this year!

For the final topic, we thought it would be a good idea to recap 2014 running and list some goals for 2015. I feel like I covered my 2014 recap pretty well in this post

In summary: I ran a grand total of 2 races (4 if you count the Electric Run and my Tough Mudder, which I kind of don't). I did get a 6-minute PR on my 10k time, which makes me happy. I also fell into and climbed out of a running slump this year. Go me.

Total 2014 running miles (as of December 18, the day I'm writing this post): 558. Definitely not as many as last year but also nothing to shrug about.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2015 RUNNING

April 2015 will mark my 5th year of consistent running, and what I've learned over the last five years is that I probably won't ever be a "serious" runner. I know I could get considerably faster with hard work and an actual training schedule, but I just don't care to. I have run 3 days a week for the last 5 years, and it's what works for me. It fits into my schedule without it taking over my schedule.

That said, my main focus for 2015 will be to lower my 1/2 marathon time just a tad. I'd love to cut 3 minutes off and get under 1:50, and I think it's very doable with a little hard work and some speed drills and tempo runs, which I've never consistently done before. I've run 7 half marathons so far and am currently signed up for 2, so I'm thinking maybe I will run 1 more and make it an even 10 next year.

Other than that, I'm just hoping to have fun and keep bothering all my friends about how awesome running is so they want to do it too.

For our final giveaway, there will be THREE winners! Each winner will receive a pair of ProCompression socks and a beaded bracelet that Beka sent all the way from Asia! (Bracelet not pictured) 
I am going to warn you about the socks: these are from the ProCompressions grab bag sale, so I didn't get to choose the colors or design. I can't promise you that one of the pairs of socks doesn't have a giant four-leave clover on it. I'm just saying it could happen.

Use the Rafflecopter widget to enter below! Entries will be verified, so play fair or else.



Runners Tell All Linkup Rules
  1. You MUST leave a comment on the person’s blog who linked up directly before you. This is not a linkup for the sake of linking up. This is a linkup to build community and spread the love and encouragement to your fellow runners! Don't be lame.
  2. Link back to either Beka or Amanda in your post so others can come here and join in! Or grab the button below and add it to your post. 
  3. Have fun!



Electric Run in Del Mar, California

12.18.2014

After our whirlwind day in San Diego, we headed to Del Mar for the Electric Run 5k. First we changed clothes in a Marshall's fitting room, but you already know about that awkwardness. By this point we were all pretty tired. Remember, I had woken up at 4 a.m. CA time and flown in from Oklahoma, and we estimated that we had already walked at least 5-6 miles that day.
Alison had picked up a free sample of 5-hour energy at the December Nights festival, and she chugged it on our way to the race. She got super hyper almost instantly and started talking really fast and bouncing around. It was pretty funny.
Alison and Hilda don't run, but I was able to convince them that I would be able to hold back and not sprint away as soon as the starting gun went off. They shouldn't have worried. With all the stops we made to take pictures along the route and all the people who were running (10,000!) it ended up taking us about 50 minutes to walk 3.1 miles. I never thought I'd have so much fun finishing a race so slowly. 
I started off strong, but by the end of the race, I could have laid right down on the ground and fallen asleep. Luckily, they were giving out Rockstar energy drinks at the finish line, and just half of one perked me right up. We stayed for most of the after party, which basically involved lots of lights and loud music. Hilda took a short video on her phone, which you can see below if you want to check out some of that action.

video


As far as a race "review," I will say that I was impressed by the amount of lights and fun spots along the course (example: the giant glowing gummie bears). The race was well organized, and the after party was fun. There were a lot of parents with their kids, and overall I thought it was a family friendly event. (Minus some of the 20-something crowd at the after party, but that's to be expected I guess.)

That said, I always end up feeling the same about novelty 5ks races like this one or the Color Run, etc. They are something fun to experience once, especially when you have a good group to do it with, but for me they are a one-and-done kind of thing. It's just too much money for not enough running.

Have you ever done an Electric Run? 
What are your thoughts on novelty 5k races?

Dr. Seuss Plants and Teen Angst

12.16.2014

*It was sunny, okay?

Two weekends ago, I flew out to San Diego for a girls' weekend with two of my oldest friends. You know those friends you don't have to see or even talk to very often, but when you do it's like no time has passed at all? That's the best kind of friend, and I am very blessed to have not just two but many friends like that.

Alison and I have known each other since the sixth grade. Hilda joined our crew freshman year of high school (holler to my Wheaton North friends!), but I kind of forget she wasn't around since the beginning. All weekend I kept saying, "It's just like the sixth grade!" And Hilda was all, "I didn't know you guys in the sixth grade!" She knew what I meant.

Earlier this summer, Alison and her husband moved to California, and as you can see I wasted almost no time buying a ticket to go see her. I told her it was 30% a desire to see her and 70% California. Just being honest.

Actually it was more like 90/10.
No hard feelings, Al.

It was a super short trip: I got in Saturday at 10 am and flew out Monday at 4 pm. We spent all day Saturday sightseeing in San Diego, and Saturday night we ran the Electric Run 5k in Del Mar. We spent Sunday in Alison's town of Temecula, going to wine tastings and shopping in old town. Today's post will just be scenes from our twelve-hour tour of San Diego. Hope you enjoy!
The first thing we did after leaving the airport was head over the bridge to Coronado Island. We saw a fantastic view of the city, ate lunch at the Coronado Brewing Company, and drove to the beach. It had been a very long time since I'd dipped my toes in the ocean.
The weather was gorgeous the two days we were there--75 degrees and sunny. People were laying out, playing beach volleyball, and even surfing. I can't even really imagine what it would be like to live close enough to spend every day on the beach. I picture it like the show Orange County. You know, all teenage angst and tan lines and stuff.

After leaving Coronado, we drove to Balboa Park to walk around the December Nights Festival. There was lots of fair food and also booths with food from all around the world. Christmas lights were up, but it didn't really seem like Christmas at all with the palm trees and the sun shining down. I actually got kind of hot!

One thing I couldn't get over were the crazy amount of succulents everywhere. Seriously, succulent explosion all over the dang place in every restaurant, every hanging pot, and even huge succulent bushes! There were also tons of weird-looking plants and giant trees. I felt like I was walking around a Dr. Seuss book. I kept taking pictures of the plants, and Hilda said, "So... you're going to write an entire blog post filled with pictures of flowers aren't you." Kind of yes.
We spent a little time walking around Balboa Park, although we didn't ride anything. I used to love roller coasters back in the day, but now I think I'm too old for them. I get really motion sick when I ride them now. Sad!
Our last stop before our Electric Run in Del Mar was La Jolla. We saw the cove, watched the sun set over the ocean, and ate sandwiches for dinner. Then we changed in the fitting room of a Marshall's for our run! 

*Oh, and in case you were wondering, it's extremely difficult to explain to a fitting room attendant that you're changing into a different outfit of your own clothes and aren't actually buying anything or trying on any of the clothes in the store. Plus, when you walk out holding a bag of clothes, you look like a shoplifter. Not our smartest move, but it was pretty funny. Alison and Hilda were making fun of me because I just kept repeating, "We just changed," to the lady while she stared at me in confusion. Yes, obviously you changed. You're in a fitting room.

I love San Diego!

*Next up on the California whirlwind trip, pictures (and maybe even a video!) of our Electric Run in Del Mar on Saturday night.

A question for people who live near/have been to San Diego: did we hit all the good spots on our tour?

Christmas with the Bumgarners

12.11.2014

Earlier this month, I had the brilliant idea of going downtown OKC to a holiday photo booth to take fun Christmas pictures. I already had my Christmas cards printed, so this was just for kicks. But then I did some research and discovered that the pictures were going to cost $36 EACH.

The adventure part of me said, Who cares! Throw caution to the wind! You're only young once! The budget part of me said, "That is insane. You have a self-timer. Use it."

I'll let you guess which option I chose.

*My sweatshirt is from Target, in case you were wondering. (Bought it last year)

I love these pictures so much that I was *this* close to ordering completely new Christmas cards, but that would have definitely defeated the purpose of not paying $36 for a professional photo booth shot.

I'm pretty excited that I got Jordan to play along with me. That is, until I made him nauseous from forcing him to spin the light strand around himself, and then the fun was over.
 
Christmas is the only holiday I actually decorate for. It's also the only holiday I have decorations for so there's that. I thought you might like to see some of my favorite decorations I have right now around the apartment.
My friend Katie made this for me during a crafty secret Santa exchange. I hang it on the wall and tuck all of our Christmas cards into the red ribbon! It can get pretty full, but so far I haven't had an issue with anything falling out.



Every year in November, my church hosts a "Jingle Bell Jamboree," where all the women of the church are invited to come and make a Christmas craft. I always have fun and make sure to go every year. This chalkboard Christmas countdown was the craft I made the first year I went, back in 2009. I painted the words and the red around the outside, the green and red balls, and created the tree out of strips of different kinds of ribbon. It's a little ghetto, but I love it!
^^This was the Jingle Bell Jamboree craft this year. This isn't a great picture, but it's basically a wreath-type thing. The craft part included bending the green parts to make the shape and then gluing the pine cones, berries, and bells into it how we liked! There's a burlap bow at the top too.
^^^This is our Christmas tree. Yes, it's tiny. Someday when we have a house, we will get a normal-sized tree, but until then we'll pack our ornaments and lights onto this bad boy.

My grandpa gave this tree to me when I moved to Oklahoma in 2008, and I've put it up every year since. He even bought me the "snow" to put around the base. This tree is actually an antique! It's still in the original box from the 50s. The tree does not come with lights, so even though this tree is artificial, I still have to string lights around it every year. I appreciate my dad's light-stringing skills so much more now. Even with just a tiny tree, it's hard work!

So that's what Christmas with the Bumgarners looks like this year! I've never really done anything like this on the blog before, so I hope you enjoyed it.

-How much is too much for a Christmas photo booth picture?
-Do you have any favorite Christmas crafts?


p.s. My girls' weekend in San Diego was amazing! I have a lot of pictures to share, but I haven't had time to go through them yet, so stay tuned!

Turning off Blog Comments: Pros, Cons & What I Learned

12.08.2014


During the month of November, I conducted an experiment with turning off blog comments. You can read my original announcement post on that here. In the post, I mentioned the pressure that is often associated with blogging and comments and page views. I wanted to see if and how turning off comments would affect the way I blogged.

I will start by saying that although I am very glad I tried it, I will not be turning off comments on this blog. Surprisingly, I found that there are many pros to turning off comments. There is, however, one giant con: if you turn off comments, you won't get any. Thank you, captain obvious.

But more on that later. First let's start with the pros of this experiment.

1. More Free Time

Although as a reader it annoys me when bloggers don't respond to comments, I can see why: responding to comments takes time. A lot of time. Because I turned off comments, I suddenly had a lot of extra time that I would have spent replying to comments or visiting the blogs of people who had commented on my posts. That was time I was able to put into writing and scheduling blog posts, crafting witty Tweets, and doing dishes. (Kidding but not really on that last one. Adult life.)

2. A Clean Inbox

No comments = no emails. Hurrah! Instead of constantly checking my inbox for a new comment, I almost completely forgot about it and checked maybe a few times a day. It was kind of revolutionary.

3. Less Pressure to Comment on Other Blogs

I suppose this could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it, but something I noticed was that when I wasn't getting comments on my posts, I felt less desire to visit other blogs and leave comments. I still read blogs, but I definitely commented less. Maybe this is just me, but if someone leaves a comment on my blog, I try to visit their blog and leave a comment back. This doesn't always happen, of course, but especially for the people who consistently visit my blog, I just think it's nice to return the favor. 

That's not to say I want people to feel like the only reason I visit their blog is because they visited mine, but I do see blogging like a friendship of sorts, and friendships work best if both people make an effort to be friends. Someone could have the best blog ever, but if I've visited and left comments and even linked up with you, and you never reply or visit my blog? Goodbye.

4. Less Anxiety about My Stats

This is ridiculous, but I'll just be honest: if I am consistently getting 20+ comments on a post and then I write something and it only gets 5 comments, I do feel bad. I start wondering, What was wrong with that post? Why did everyone hate it? Why is my follower graph on Bloglovin taking a nosedive into a fresh blogging grave? Why does everyone hate me? Why am I even blogging at all?

You can see how this line of questioning is completely unproductive, not to mention dramatic.

When I turned off comments, I felt the weight of comment anxiety lifted from my shoulders, and it was awesome. It also served a double purpose of making me feel LEGIT when I published my next post and turned comments on. Since I'd gotten a big fat zero on my previous post, I felt like a blogging rockstar when I got 5 comments. Perspective for the win.

* * * *

Okay, so those were the biggest pros to turning off comments. But again, the one con pretty much outweighed all of those. The truth of it is: I missed getting comments. And if the feedback I got from some of you on this experiment of mine is any indication, I think you missed having an easy way to give them.

Sure, you could email me or tweet me (and some of you did, which I loved!). But for the most part, I didn't see a huge jump in "shares" or emails or tweets. You probably just read the post (or not) and moved on. I felt bad denying you an opportunity to comment if you really had something to say.

For the record, on the posts where I turned off comments, I had a noticeable decrease in page views. My theory (although there's no way to prove this) is that a lot of you read my blog in email or through a blog reader like Bloglovin or Feedly. If you aren't going to leave a comment, you don't click through to the actual post, so a page view isn't registered on the stats. Again, that's just my theory.
* * * *

I'm so glad I did this experiment. If nothing else, I feel like it gave me some much-needed perspective on blogging. Listen: stats aren't the end of the world. When I wrote my first Blog Talk post about how to get more comments, I said that leaving comments and replying to comments is the best way to get more comments. I still believe that, but I don't think I feel as strongly about that now. Or, I guess maybe I should say that I don't feel as strongly about doing any and everything to rack up my number of comments.

Comments are fun, but they aren't everything; and we shouldn't judge our worth, our writing ability, or our blog's awesomeness on the number of comments we do or don't get. That is the first thing I learned from this experiment. Here's the second: Instead of focusing on how many comments you didn't get, try being thankful and excited for the comments you did. Do you know what a comment means? Someone took time out of their day to come to your blog, read your post, and find something relevant to say about it that they wanted to share with you. Whether it's one person or fifty, that's pretty  darn cool. Especially when you consider all the other blogs that are out there they could have been reading instead of yours.

I would be very interested to hear from any of you who have thoughts about my experiment! Feel free to leave a comment below with feedback on my experiment, questions about what I've discussed in this post, or to just say hi!
・ DESIGNED BY ECLAIR DESIGNS