Vertical

Not long after Wyatt and I started dating, we made a deal.  He would attend my spinning class, and I, in turn, would go rock climbing (indoors, of course) with him.  Neither of us had attempted the other’s athletic endeavor of choice, so it seemed like a natural trade.  Not exactly a fair one – I certainly think climbing up a vertical wall is more challenging than riding a stationary bike (he might argue otherwise) – but a trade nonetheless.  So when Wyatt attended my Monday night spinning class in December, I knew my days as a climbing virgin were numbered.

I’ve never been much of an athlete.  As a child, I hated gym class and didn’t play any sports.  I was always the last picked in volleyball (my own personal hell), didn’t enjoy playing dodgeball like my classmates, and even got a “D” in archery (yes, my school had archery, but not weight lifting).  Oh, and did I mention I broke my arm falling off the gymnastics rings in the fifth grade?  I’m not the fastest, or the strongest, or the most limber.  When a ball flies at me (insert famous Clueless line), my instinct is to duck, not catch it.  Once, when playing kickball in a young professionals league, I was munching on an apple in the outfield, and when the ball came to me, I let it fall to the ground rather than drop my apple.  The first and only time I tried skiing, I failed to make it down the hill without falling – not even once.  I went ice skating last winter and was so stiff and tense I could barely move my legs, let alone glide with ease.  When my girlfriends and I took a pole-dancing class as part of a bachelorette party, I wound up crying in the bathroom out of frustration that I couldn’t relax enough to “let loose and enjoy” (silly, but true!).

Despite all of this, I’ve managed to become a fit woman.  I’ve run three half marathons and am a four-time triathlete. I wrote about falling in love with strength in this post, and I’ve never felt leaner or more toned.  I’ve found sports that challenge me as an individual.  And I’ve discovered I’m actually a pretty darn good swimmer!  And while I still don’t consider myself athletic – I am an athlete.
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Maybe that’s why, when Wyatt and I made this trade, I didn’t immediately break up with him to avoid scaling a wall.  In fact, when the fateful day arrived, I found myself actually excited.  I ate a big snack and headed out of the office, prepared for the big night that lay ahead.

Vertical Adventures is Columbus’ only gym dedicated to rock climbing.  And let me just say – it’s really cool.  This sentiment is backed up by  Wyatt and my co-worker (and friend!) Ana, also a rock climber.  I mean, check out this place:
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And that’s just one part of the gym!  There are other walls to the left of this photo, an upstairs section for bouldering, and even a small exercise room.  Very cool.

After the requisite waiver forms, training videos, and manager spiel were complete, it was time to start climbing!  Well, sort of.  First I had to don the proper attire – harness and shoes.  Luckily Wyatt was there to show me the ropes (pun intended), because the process is a bit complicated for a novice.  He explained to me that each “route” – colored path up a wall – is given a rating from 5.5 – 5.14, with 5.5 being a simple climb and 5.14 the hardest out there.  Outdoor climbs are rated the same way, so it’s easy for climbers to transfer their skills from the inside out without getting in over their heads.
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Wyatt gave me a tip that I found particularly helpful: think about where I’m going to put my feet next and then figure out my hands, rather than vice-versa.  My legs can push me to the next grip easier than my fingers/hands/arms can pull me.  Despite this, more than once, I found myself “stuck” on the wall – I literally had no idea where to go next.  Luckily, Wyatt, as my belay, was standing right below me and would shout up instructions – “put your left foot on the hold to the top right”.  “You want me to put my foot there?!  But I can’t do that!”
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For some people, a fear of heights and the risk of fall is a real challenge when climbing.  Luckily, neither one of those things was a struggle for me.  But what I did struggle with was the strategy. Climbing is an extremely mental sport.  You have to think about your next move – and the move after that – before you make your current move.  You have to trust your body to hold itself on one leg, or hand, or finger.  It’s also about strength, but not in the way I expected.  I thought it would require upper body strength to pull myself up the wall, but in actuality, it was much more about leg strength and pushing myself up the wall.
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In total, I scaled five 5.5 walls (maybe one was a 5.6?) that night.  Each climb took maybe 5 minutes, but felt much longer and was more taxing than expected.  After those five climbs, I was spent, both physically and mentally.  I now understand why Wyatt can easily spend three hours at the gym – you climb, then take a break and belay for a friend, then climb some more, then take a break, etc.  In my case, watch in awe as more experienced climbers scaled 5.11 walls (I was watching Ana in this photo – she is such a badass!)
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So there you have it, folks – my first “vertical adventure”.  And guess what?!  I actually enjoyed it!  Unlike skiing/ice skating/pole dancing, this athletic endeavor challenged me without leaving me feeling frustrated and on the brink of tears.  The mix of physical strength and mental agility made me feel powerful and capable (and like my $$$ spent on personal training is paying off), and getting to the top is satisfying and rewarding.  I have Wyatt to thank for his experience, patience, and encouragement – it made all the difference.  I don’t think I’ll be scaling any mountains anytime soon (or ever), but I will definitely be back on the indoor wall soon!

So tell me – are you an athlete?  Athletic?  Both?  Neither?

Apartment

Hello, O-HI-30 readers!  I know.  It’s been a while!

I’ve planned on writing this post since day one.  As the title suggests, it’s about my apartment.
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The Short North has been my home since July of 2009.  For those of you counting, yep – that’s almost SIX YEARS.  Six years in the same apartment?!  My co-worker once told me that I was like a character on a sitcom – think Rachel & Monica on Friends, who lived in the same apartment for the duration of the show (with the exception of the time they had to swap apartments with Chandler & Joey – my favorite episode!  Mrs. Chanandaler Bong, anyone?!).  When he made that observation, I was four years into my lease.  When I resign it this summer, I’ll be starting my seventh year.

I don’t know anyone my age who has lived in the same place for as long as I have.  Most renters I know move every 2-3 years, some more frequently.  Others get sick of renting quickly and move on to home ownership.  It’s worth noting that my mother lived in the same apartment in Clintonville for almost FIFTEEN years.  Those 15 years included two marriages, some blissfully single years in between, and the birth of her two children.  I don’t see myself birthing a child while living on High St., but it wouldn’t be far off to say, “like mother, like daughter”.
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As a 30-almost-31-year-old, I’m at the stage in life where my peers are starting to make big changes.  There are expectations for people my age.  Buying homes, getting married, having children.  If you’ve been reading my blog since the beginning, you might recall a post I wrote on this topic.  It centered on the idea that we have a lot of expectations for ourselves – and for others – and when we inevitably don’t meet all those expectations, we feel inadequate.  Once might say it would be better not to set those expectations in the first place, but with so much pressure, both internal and external, it’s almost impossible not to.

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Ditching the renter’s check in favor for a mortgage is certainly one of those life milestones.  When a friend-of-a-friend traded her renter’s life for the keys to her very own condo last year, it really hit me.  Up until then, despite many close friends leaving their apartments and buying homes, I hadn’t thought much about my future living arrangements.  But something about this transition got me thinking.  Perhaps it was the fact that she, like me, is a single gal, living the “fabulous” life in Columbus.  I found myself thinking, “should I be thinking about buying a place too?”

I expressed this sentiment to my mother.  Not one for conventions, she didn’t encourage me to hire a realtor or to talk to the bank.  Instead, she pointed out a few of her observations.  One, that I’m not a fan of yard work and have no interest in planting flowers.  Two, as much as I love decorating my apartment and making it cute and cozy, I have never once expressed a desire to paint its walls purple or grey.  And three, my lifestyle – being able to walk out my door and meet my friends at a hopping restaurant across the street – is very important to me.  As is spending my weekends shopping, not gardening.
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Her observations were all true.  I don’t actually want to move.  Sure, there are things about my apartment that I don’t like – mainly, how LOUD it is (earplugs are my savior), or how dusty and dirty it gets just from being on High St.  Or that I can’t eat dinner sitting on a patio, or fire up the grill for burgers in the summertime.  But I’m a firm believer in that the grass is not always greener, and there are so many aspects of this apartment that I love – not the least of which is the extremely under market value rent.  Its hardwood floors and big windows that open up to trees lining High St. (yep, the same windows that keep me up at night).  My ample parking options, full amenities (washer and dryer, dishwasher, A/C, etc.), and 900 sq. ft. to hold all of my refurbished furniture.  And, of course, the plentiful bars and restaurants just below my feet – and the park across the street.
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I’ll admit that since beginning a relationship, my feelings on the subject have changed a bit.  It’s easier for me to think about buying a house – and all the work that comes with it – with someone than it is to think about doing on my own.  I know that doesn’t sound very “independent woman” of me, but it’s the truth.  I don’t think I want to take on the responsibilities of home ownership by myself, at least not right now.  But our relationship is still young, and we’re not there — yet.

So when my landlord hands me my lease 60 days out, I’ll resign it.  Again.  Despite my friends growing up and buying houses (and getting married and having babies), I’ll stay put right where I am. Do I want to live in this apartment for the next six years?  No!  (I’m pretty sure I’d get kicked out for yelling obscenities at the drunks on the street below).  But I’m not going to move just because it’s what is “expected” at this stage in my life.  The same can be said for getting married or becoming a parent.  No matter your age, you have to live life on your own terms and not anyone else’s.   I’ll become a homeowner when I actually want to, when it’s right for me and my life.

Until then – anyone up for a drink?  Meet you downstairs in five!

“Pho”

Hello, O-HI-30!

I bet you thought I’d given up on blogging.  Sorry to disappoint, but I haven’t!  On the contrary, I have many blog posts started in my head, but unfortunately my writing time as of late has been allocated to a different undertaking.  I can’t share more now, but I hope to be able to in the near future!  The good news is, I’m not completely disappearing.  And I hope you don’t either!  As always, I appreciate your readership, especially when I’m a less-than-reliable source.

While the time may be springing forward this coming weeked, the weather is doing anything but.  Thus, I’m finding myself still craving soup, but instead of my usual heavier stews and chili, I’m feeling something a bit lighter.  Enter this “pho”!  I’m calling it “pho” because while it’s certainly not authentic Vietnamese Pho, it’s kind of like it….so “pho” it is!

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One of the repercussions of not blogging regularly is that I forget (even more than normal) to take photos of my life!  It’s hard to share a recipe without step-by-step or final product photos (aside from those taken at my desk at work), but this pho that Wyatt and I made last night was so good and so different that I’m going to attempt to share it anyway.

This is my first time making Asian-inspired soup, and although I’m not big on recipes, I knew I needed to start somewhere. My co-worker and friend Alexa brought a similar soup to work a few months ago and upon my drooling, sent me the recipe.  I also consulted my Mom, who makes a Chinese chicken soup that she raves about.  I combined the ingredients and technique of those two recipes with a twist of my own to make Sarah’s “It’s Note Quite Spring Yet “Pho””.  Shout-out to Wyatt for his sous-chef chopping and tasting skills – we make quite the team in the kitchen (and hopefully outside too)!

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Although I didn’t intend for it to be, this recipe is actually vegan!  It comes together relatively quickly in about 30 minutes (maybe even less)  and is quite easy.  It does require a few non-standard ingredients, but they are worth it!  Healthy, warming, and flavorful, this “pho” is the perfect dinner to take you from the winter blahs to spring fever!

It’s Not Quite Spring Yet “Pho”
Makes ~8 large servings

Ingredients
~2 tbsp sesame oil
~1.5 inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced (Tip from Wyatt: use the side of a spoon to peel ginger – easier than a standard peeler and you lose less of of the ginger)
2 cloves garlic, minced
~1.5 tbsp sambal oelek chili paste (any red chili paste will do)
1 tsp tumeric
1 package extra firm tofu, drained and pressed (see this post for how-to)
2 stalks lemongrass (I found with the pre-packaged herbs next to the bagged lettuce), bruised (smashed) and sliced into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup soy sauce (maybe a little more)
1 tbsp sugar
3 quarts veggie stock
Shredded carrots (I buy mine pre-shredded in a bag)
Baby bok choy, sliced into ~1/2 inch wide pieces (will wilt in the soup so doesn’t matter too much)
1 small can sliced water chestnuts
1 package rice noodles
1 Lime
Shredded cooked chicken (optional – obviously not vegan anymore!)

For topping
Bean sprouts
Green onion (scallions)
Cilantro
Lime wedges
Crushed peanuts
Hot sauce (sriracha is best)

Preparation
1. Heat oil in large pot.  Add ginger, garlic, chili paste, and tumeric and stir.  Warm on medium-low heat for few minutes.
2. Slice tofu into thin strips, ~1/8 inch.  Add to pot and carefully fold into spice mixture, taking care not to break the tofu pieces too much.
3.  Add lemongrass, soy sauce, sugar, and veggie stock and bring to a boil.
4.  Add carrots, bok choy, and water chestnuts. Turn heat down to low and simmer for ~20 minutes.
5.  Cook rice noodles according to package in separate pot.  Cook ~1-2 minutes less than package directions, as noodles will finish cooking in soup.
6.  Add cooked noodles to soup and the juice of one lime
7.  Serve with a variety of crunchy and flavorful toppings:  bean sports, thinly chopped green onions, clinatro, lime wedges, crushed peanuts, and hot sauce if desired.
8.  Enjoy!  The lemongrass may be difficult to eat – if so, just pick out those pieces as you go (they are a little tough to chew).  Alternatively, you can leave it out altogether.

Note that I also added some shredded rotisserie chicken to my serving that I bought pre-made at the grocery store.  I simply heated the chicken in a separate pot on the stove with some of the soup liquid, and then added to my bowl (and some containers for leftovers) when it was time to serve.

What are you favorite “not quite spring” meals?

Eats

Happy Monday!

I write this post from 10,000+ feet, as I embark on what is sure to be a crazy week visiting customers in the Northwest.  Over the course of the week, I’ll be making my way through five different airports, flying every day except Wednesday.  Starting with today, as I fly to Spokane by way of Denver.  Then tomorrow night, Seattle, then Seattle to Vancouver Thursday morning and finally back to Cbus (via O’hare….wish me luck) on Friday.  If all goes well, I’ll be back in time for happy hour!

Despite this plane being teeny tiny (I thought one of the perks of flying cross-country was bigger planes?!), I thought I’d use my time somewhat wisely and write this blog post!  Lucky you.  Over the past few weeks I’ve eaten at some new restaurants – both new and new to me.  And this time, I actually remembered to take pictures of (most) of the food!  So without further ado, feast your eyes on some of my recent Eats!

The Market
Last week Wyatt and I checked out a place that is both new(ish) and new to us.  The Market in Italian Village had been on both our lists for quite some time, so we turned an average boring Tuesday into a culinary adventure (how’s that for cheesiness?).  The Market is actually what it sounds – a small market that sells unique products not found at your typical grocery store.  It also has a full-service bar and kitchen serving both lunch and dinner (and maybe brunch?).  The atmosphere at 7 on a Tuesday night was a little quiet and awkward – we were one of just a handful of patrons.  But we made ourselves right at home with a high-top table and two glasses of red.

Wyatt leans Vegetarian (with a capital “V” for emphasis), and while I certainly love my bacon, I find myself going meatless quite often for no other reason than I like it.  The Market makes it very easy to select Vegetarian, Vegan, and Gluten Free options, with simple color blocks indicating these items.  We opted to share two appetizers and wood-fired pizza, which turned out to be the perfect amount of food.
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This brussels sprouts salad was TO DIE FOR.  Our server warned us that it wasn’t whole brussels as the menu description would lead you to believe, but actually more of a coleslaw.  We almost changed our order but decided to give it a try, and I’m glad we did because it was outstanding.  So fresh and flavorful, with just a hint of mustard and nutty goodness from the pine nuts.

Our second appetizer was this roasted cauliflower with polenta.  This was also good, but not as good at the salad.  The cheese crisps were quite tasty (duh).
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And for our main course we shared the white pizza.  It was cheesier and greasier than I expected, but man was it good.  Full of flavor.  Who says pizza needs red sauce?  Luckily I remembered to snap a photo before it was all gobbled up – I let Wyatt have my last piece.  Aren’t I a good girlfriend ( / the boy has a serious metabolism)?
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In the summer, the windows of the market open up giving it that fresh “market” feel, and there is also a patio.  If you haven’t been, I highly recommend you check it out – I’ll be back this summer for a glass of white wine and that Brussels salad! (hopefully it’s not seasonal…)

Forno
Just two nights later, after putting over 600 miles on my 2003 Honda Accord traveling all over for work, I found myself dining over wood-fired pizza again – this time, at Forno!  Forno replaced the Worst Restaurant in the World (really, the worst restaurant group in the world) and is just across the street from my apartment.  I’m thrilled to have a new neighbor, but mostly I’m just glad it’s not the atrocity that was taking up space on one of the best corners in the Short North.  But enough of that rant – on to Forno!  For you locals, Forno is the latest project from the people who own the Pint House.  It’s much swankier than Pint House and features wood fired pizza as its main gig.  Ash and Jackie and I enjoyed the upscale atmosphere – nothing new for the Short North, but still fun.  We were seated in a big cozy booth by the window and feasted on two salads (actually three – the server accidentally brought us an extra) and two pizzas.
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I failed to capture the salads, but the pizza is what stole the show – we ordered the Hawaiian and the White (yep, white again!), and both were excellent.  The crust was just as I like it – not too thin, definitely not thick, and chewy, and the toppings were packed with flavor.  It was good enough to order as take-out; after-all, it’s just across the street!

The Olde Mohawk
Saturday afternoon following my spin class, Matt and I had a long-overdue Saturday afternoon lunch “date”!  I knew I wanted fries, so when Matt suggested we take the CBUS (a free bus that circulates between the Short North and German Village) to The Old Mohawk in German Village, I was all in!  Now, the Old Mohawk is definitely not new, but it’s been years since I’ve been there.  We both ordered draft beers – hey, what’s a Saturday afternoon date without a day drink? – and I satisfied both my craving for a “salad” and my craving for fries by ordering the Mexican Cobb and a side of fries.

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Unfortunately, both were just OK.  I guess I had high hopes for really awesome bar food, but both my food and Matt’s Turkey Reuben were just OK.  The “salad” (I use quotes because the lettuce was just a way to consumer bacon and cheese and eggs) hit the spot, but unfortunately the fries did not.  I expect a place like this to have stellar fresh-cut fries, skin on (think Five Guys style), and these were a disappointment.  But don’t worry, I ate them, along with one or two of Matt’s onion rings (which were good).  All in all, a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  Thanks, Matt!

Some Random Place in that State Up North
I mentioned earlier that I drove 600+ plus miles Wednesday and Thursday of last week, driving up to Akron, then Cleveland, then Detroit and finally back to Columbus.  After meeting up with my Distributor in Detroit on Thursday, there wasn’t time to get lunch before our 1:30 meeting with his customer.  So, I did something I hardly ever do…I skipped lunch!  Me, skip lunch?!  Luckily, I had a feeling that might happen so I came prepared and ate a granola bar on the way.  By the time the meeting was over at 3:30, I was quite hungry and had a daunting 4+ hour drive ahead of me.  I knew I couldn’t hold out until dinner but didn’t want to spoil it (that’s the night I met A&J for dinner at Forno), and I avoid drive-thrus at all costs – I’m not good at eating while driving, plus, the food stinks.  On my drive in I noticed a cute spot who’s name I can’t quite recall – maybe the Clean Plate? – but I prefer to refer to it as some Random Place in that State Up North.
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Turns out, it was a good call!  It was cute and full of healthy options – I opted for a bowl of butternut squash chili.  It came with organic bread and was just the right size to hold me over until dinner, and only took about 15 minutes total.  Lesson learned – fast food isn’t the only option!

My Kitchen
And, finally, I thought I’d share a random dinner I made for myself last week.  It’s nothing special, but it was very tasty and came together in a heartbeat, so it’s worth sharing!  The mess pictured below is a sweet potato that I microwaved, topped with chili that I defrosted from my freezer and an ENTIRE BAG of microwaveable steamed broccoli.  Yep, I ate the whole bag.  Topped with sour cream, pepper jack cheese, and my new obsession – Cholula Chili Garlic hot sauce.  The meal came together in minutes, most of which took place in the micro while I showered.  Quick, healthy, filling, and very tasty – what more can you ask of from a weeknight dinner?

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So tell me – what are some of your recent Eats?

#SwimBikeRun

Happy Monday (probably Tuesday when I post this), O-HI-30 readers!  I hope you’re recovering well from the debacle that was the Super Bowl.  All I can say is, it was nice watching a game not involving the Buckeyes.  Anyone with me?  And despite some less-than-positive reactions in my office this morning re: the commercials, on the whole I actually really enjoyed them.  They were certainly more serious ones than previous years, packed with “messages” – the Dodge featuring the centenarians, Always “like a girl”, Nationwide killing little boys (too far).  But Doritos stayed funny (all of their commercials are created by regular people like you and me!), and I loved Avocados from Mexico (“the first draft”).  I’m sure I’m forgetting lots, but I enjoyed.  I also ate a lot of dip (gauc, queso, buffalo chicken – missed you, Pam!) and enjoying watching beach balls and Missy Elliot dance.  All in all, a fun night.  Thanks, Clint and Kelly (parents-to-be!) for hosting!
022Side note – Kelly didn’t want a TV that big, so she and Clint agreed that if he got his pick of the TV, she got to pick everything else in the entire house.  #marriage #compromise

OK, so back to the title of this blog post.  Swim, Bike, Run!  Yep, yesterday I did a triathlon.  And indoor triathlon, that is.  I first learned about indoor triathlons reading one of my favorite blogs, Healthy Tipping Point.  It sounded fun – a triathlon you can do in the winter?  So I did a search and quickly stumbled upon the OSU Triathlon Club’s Indoor Triathlon.  Unlike outdoor triathlons that measure your time, indoor triathlons typically measure your distance in a set period of time, making it easier to manage limited swim lanes / bikes / track space.  This tri was a shorty – 10 minute swim, 10 minute transition, 20 minute bike, 5 minute transition, 15 minute run = grand total of one hour, 45 minutes of work.
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When “race weekend” came around, I really didn’t feel like going.  Why did I sign up for this thing when I could just go to hot yoga instead?  But I paid for it, and knew that once I was there I would be glad I did it.  And I am!  The entire experience was over in just two hours – and that’s saying something, considering it takes about 10 minutes just to park and walk into the RPAC.  A triathlon that’s over and done with in two hours?  Can’t beat it!

I was fortunate this year to have some company while swimming, biking, and running (and in between).  Wyatt was an excellent spectator, serving as both my support crew and my very own personal photographer.

SWIM
The swim was by far my favorite part, per usual.  There is just something about swimming in a state-of-the-art, best-in-its-class facility like the RPAC Aquatic Center.  The water was so crisp and clear.
014I went a little fast out of the gate, but was able to hold the pace most of the way, swimming 585 meters in 10 minutes – 20 more meters than last year!  Completely out of breath but wishing I could keep swimming and skip the bike and run, I pulled myself out of the water and into the locker room where I transitioned to my biking and running clothes.  The transitions were super low-key, a nice departure from the frantic changing that accompanies outdoor triathlons; I even had time to use the restroom and hang around before the bike portion.

BIKE
Ah, the bike.  You would think that as a spin instructor, the bike would be my favorite (and best) part…but au contraire.  This photo was taken before the bike – I wasn’t that happy after!
017I biked just over five miles in the 20 minutes.  Apparently, that was pretty lame (although it was further than I went last year…).  I blame most of it on the stationary bikes – unlike the swim and the run, the bike is heavily dependent on the equipment.  The “distance” you cover is a combination of pedal speed (RPM) and resistance – which is apparently not equal on all bikes.  For example, the girl next to me was pedaling slower, on a lighter resistance…and going “further” than me.  And she wasn’t the only one.  WTF.  I’m not particularly competitive, but my streak came out when I realized that all the bikes I could see were beating me.  I tried to focus on my own bike (Wyatt kept me company and attempted to keep me focused), and before I knew it the 20 minutes were up and it was time to hit the track.  Bring it!

RUN
After a frustrating bike, I was excited to hit the track and regain my dignity.  And regain it I did!  The track was 200 meters, so 8 laps = 1 mile.  Since the run was just 15 minutes and not my usual 30-45, I knew I could push it with the pace.  I ran my heart out for all 15 minutes, and covered 15.25 laps – 1.9 miles, a 7:53 min / mile pace!  Me, running sub-8 minute miles?!  I couldn’t believe it!  Wyatt was so busy counting my laps (and daydreaming, I suspect) that he forgot to capture a photo of event #3, but he did capture this photo of me after the event – 45 minutes of intense work, complete!
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OVERALL RESULTS
There were 26 women in my division (“open” – there was a separate division for collegiate athletes).

Swim: 585 Meters in 10 minutes.  Place: 2 / 26
Bike: 5.1 Miles in 20 minutes.  Place: 25 / 26
Run: 1.9 miles in 15 minutes.  Place: 3 / 26
Overall Place: 10 / 26

Yes, folks, you read that right…I placed second in the swim, third in the run, and….25th in the bike.  wah.  Some of it can certainly be blamed on the bike itself – girls pedaling much slower and lighter than me went further?! – but not all.  The bike is usually the hardest part of real triathlons for me, so I’m not surprised that it was my weakest event.  But I am surprised – and unconvinced – that it was SO weak compared to everyone else.  I’ll take comfort in three things:  1. It wasn’t a “real” bike, 2. I teach a hard spinning class – I’m not out of shape! and 3. I killed the swim and the run!   Not bad for a girl who didn’t play sports growing up!

I’m glad I signed up, and I’m even more glad I dragged my butt to the race and didn’t give in to my desire to bail.  I always have fun once I’m out there!  If any of you are thinking about getting into triathlons, I highly recommend checking out an indoor tri in your area.  It’s a great way to get familiar with the sport in less intimidating way.

Triathlon Season can’t come soon enough!

Adventures!

Hello, O-HI-30 readers!  Yes, this is your long-lost blogger here.  What can I say, I’ve been busy.  If I’m being completely honest (and when aren’t I?), I’m still trying to figure out what I want out of this space.  For almost six months I wrote twice a week, every week, and rarely missed a post.  I found that writing this blog gave me something “to do” on random weeknights besides watching TV.  Although writing is a solo activity, sharing my life and thoughts with you made me feel less lonely.

And then I actually met someone, and aside from being great, he’s also taking up more of my time.  And that’s a good thing.  A great thing, actually!  But a side effect is that I’m finding myself with less “me” time – and perhaps less of a desire to write.  I never wanted this space to be something I had to do, but rather something i wanted to do.  I tend to view the world as black-and-white, at least when it comes to me – I don’t like to do things half-assed.  But here I am still, and I’m not at all ready to cut the cord.  I realized – why does it have to be all or nothing?  After all, there is nothing stopping me from posting twice a week, or twice a month, or twice a year (although I’d probably lose some readers in the process!).  It’s my blog, and it’s supposed to be something I do because it’s enjoyable – both for me and for my readers.

So that’s where I’m at.  I’m going to keep writing, and I hope you’ll keep reading.  No promises on how often, or what about – but I promise I’ll be keepin’ it real.  And with that, I’ll share some of my latest Adventures with you – I’ve been busy!

Dresses!
My freshman year roommate (Bradley 304 (or was it 305?) baby!) and dear friend Laura Nash is getting married this year!  It’s hard to believe this little girl is going to be walking down the aisle – let’s hope she can do it without squealing like a teenage girl!  I’m so happy for her and Kyle, and am completely honored and excited to stand next to them at the alter on their wedding day (November 14!).  This photo is circa 2006…I look much older now, Nash looks about the same!
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First things first – wedding dress shopping!  I drove down to Cincinnati, where Nash and Kyle live and where the wedding will take place, a couple of weeks ago to provide support to the bride-to-be as she tried on no less than 20 dresses.  Never being one to turn down a shopping trip or lack an opinion, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  It’s much easier being the person who sits on a comfy couch and murmurs her approval (or disapproval) than it is to be the one trying on gown after hefty gown.  Needless to say, by the end of the day, Nash was exhausted, and her entourage was in turn.  Shout out to Christen for planning a wonderful day!  I failed to capture any photos other than photos of Nash in wedding gowns, and I can’t share those on this space – don’t want Kyle to get any ideas!

Sadly, I wasn’t there to witness THE dress, which was found the following day, but if pictures do it any justice, then let’s just say that I say YES TO THE DRESS!  I LOVE it, and I’m so excited to see her in it in person.  Nash, you are going to make a beautiful bride!

NOLA
After my time in Cincinnati, I turned around and packed my bags again – this time, to fly south to New Orleans for my company’s annual sales meeting.  It wasn’t my first time in NOLA, and it certainly wasn’t my first time at one of these meetings, but nevertheless I enjoyed myself – it’s nice to get out of the office and “bond” with co-workers I don’t get to see every day (and those that I do!).

Our hotel was in the French Quarter and right on Bourbon St. (luckily, my room faced the inner courtyard!).  The best part was our meeting room – unlike the windowless, depressing meeting rooms of the past, this room was lined with floor-to-ceiling windows – and had a BALCONY.  For those of you who travel in the corporate world, you can understand my excitement!  It was sunny and warm during the day, and man was that Vitamin D appreciated during 15 minute breaks.

View from the Meeting Room Balcony

View from the Meeting Room Balcony

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Just a Random Tuesday Afternoon

Unfortunately, the food was a bit disappointing.  Perhaps my expectations were just too high – last year’s meeting was in Savannah and it was some of the best food of my life.  Don’t get me wrong, the food in NOLA was good – just not great.  Some co-workers and I did manage to patron the famous Cafe Du Monde, and their beignets were as good as I remembered.  Love me some powdered sugar!  And that’s their equally famous chicory coffee – my old boss LOVES it, but I’m on the fence.

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Also on the food front, I discovered a new hot sauce that I am obsessed with – Crystal.  It’s not actually all that hot, just full of amazing flavor.  I couldn’t get enough!  One of my co-workers assured me that I could find it at my local grocery store back home, but so far, I haven’t been able to locate it.  #majorfail.  Knew I should have picked some up when I was down south!
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As far as nightlife goes, there was some of that….a lot more for others (you know who are you are).  Sure, I enjoy going out with co-workers for a drink or two, but I also really value sleep and exercise at these meetings.  Years of traveling has taught me that exercise is the single most important thing that keeps me feeling good.  No matter how much I eat – and it’s a lot – if I can run a few miles on the treddy in the morning it makes all the difference.  Anything that can keep me feeling as “normal” as possible, which is tough when you’re out of your normal routine.  So this trip, I called it early one night, and hit up Bourbon street the other two.  I was in bed by midnight both nights, and up and at ’em by 6AM to squeeze in a workout in the hotel gym. I wasn’t sure what this hotel would have to offer – NOLA isn’t exactly known for health – but I was pleasantly surprised.  Three treadmills and also a decent weight selection – I did a mini “sweat” workout one morning.
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But don’t worry, I had some fun too!  One night I karaoked (not a word…) to “Wanna Be” by the Spice Girls with a middle-aged male co-worker who claimed he knew the words but definitely didn’t.  And the next night I danced my booty off to some of the best live music I’ve ever heard!  Check out the vodka soda my old (previous) boss got me….yep, that’s a normal sized beer.  It was HUGE – and actually really really good.  I stuck to just “one” drink that evening…
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I got back late Thursday night, and then packed up my bags AGAIN for my next adventure!

Lake
Wyatt invited me to join him and his brother and sister-in-law for a weekend at their friend’s cabin on Deep Creek Lake, Maryland.  Maryland, you say?  Yep – it was only a four hour drive from Columbus – apparently Maryland gets real skinny and comes much further west that I knew.  #georgraphylesson.  After a fairly treacherous drive in the snow and dark, we arrived at Megan and Matt’s (technically, Matt’s parent’s) cozy lake cabin late Friday night, fire roaring and soup on the stove.  A very chill weekend commenced – think lots of comfort food, games (euchre and Cards Against Humanity), oohing and ahhing over the adorable babies (both of the other couples have a baby boy), and sleeping.  I did venture out twice on Saturday – once to help the boys build an “hockey rink” on the lake, and again later in the day for a snow walk.  The ice was half a foot deep on the lake (probably more), which meant we could walk – and skate! – on the lake.  So cool, and so beautiful.
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It was a really nice weekend.  Those of you with lake houses – they aren’t just for the summer!  There was some really magical about being out there in the winter .  Very quiet and peaceful.  It was just the weekend I needed to chill out after such a busy couple of weeks.  Thanks, Megan and Matt for your hospitality!

O-H-I-O!

GO BUCKEYES!
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For the second time since I became an Ohio State Buckeye in 2002, Ohio State is the Best Damn Team In All The Land!  I almost wasn’t going to post on the subject – after all, what hasn’t already been said on your Facebook feed?  But then I realized, what the hell am I thinking?!  Of COURSE I have to blog about this historical moment!

Yesterday started off on the right foot – casual Monday!  After a busy work day filled with anticipation and excitement, there was just one more thing between me and the game – Spinning!  I debated finding a sub to teach my Monday night spin class, but given my less-than-stellar attendance rate in the upcoming weeks and my love of teaching I decided to squeeze it in.  Class starts at 6:45 and usually lasts ~50 minutes, so yesterday I cut it back a little to ensure everyone (read: I) would have time to get outta there, shower, and be in front of the TV by the 8:30 kickoff.  As I suspected, class was smaller than usual with 14 people, but those 14 people were there to get their sweat on and adrenaline pumping before the big game!  I made a special National Championship playlist with songs that remind me of the Buckeyes (and tailgating!):
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If that playlist doesn’t get you pumped up, than I don’t know what will!  Even Johnny approved!

After a frighteningly quick shower and lean cuisine dinner (I keep them around for nights like this), it was off to the bar!  It was tempting to watch the game at someone’s house, but we watched the Sugar Bowl at a bar and the lively atmosphere was so fun.  Luckily my friends had their priorities straight and got to the bar early last night – no spin for them – so despite it being packed, we had a decent space with bar access.  When I arrived, a cold bud light draft in a plastic cup was waiting for me – it was going to be that kind of night!

Insert flashbacks to the 2006 National Championship, when I was a mere 22 years old and about to graduate, and 18 of my closest friends and I flew across the country to cheer on the Bucks as they played Florida (home to Urban Meyer at the time) in the National Championship.  We had an absolute blast the weekend before the game (we won’t talk about the game itself).
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Eight years later, the friend group has largely remained the same (with some new additions!), and we’re still going to crazy bars, but this time the outcome was much more favorable!
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Ashley turned the big 3-1 at midnight, which corresponded to roughly the same time that we realized that barring some horrible disaster, the Buckeyes were going to be crowned National Champions!  We sang Happy Birthday and Hang on Sloopy and brought in the win!

I could go on about how unbelievable of a season it was – who remembers how everyone thought the season was over before it started because Braxton was hurt, or because we lost to Virginia Tech?! – but I’ll leave that to your Facebook feeds.  Suffice it to say that a little persistence, agility, and unwavering leadership can go a long way.  #anythingcanhappen!

NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!  


Blowout

I’m not talking about the kind of blowout the Buckeyes had against Wisconsin last month.  I’m talking about hair!  Specifically, hair blowouts.  Sorry, fellas – this one’s for the ladies!

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Ladies, if you’re anything like me, you’ve been hearing about and seeing these “blow-dry bars” popping up all over the place and have been wondering what the heck they are all about.  At first I envisioned old ladies with 80’s style perms and big hair – no thanks.  But then I realized that what really goes down at these places is just a nice styling of your hair – like a haircut, but without the cut (and color perhaps).  Just wash, blow-dry, and styling of your choice – no perm necessary.

I, for one, am inept at doing anything with my hair other than blow-drying and straightening it – despite it being part of my 30 before 30 list, I never quite got the hang of using my straightener to create beautiful waves.  I’ve always envied girls (like my friend Shep) with long, beautiful loose curls – think Charlotte from Sex and the City!  So when Wyatt asked me to attend a wedding with him in late December – a black-tie optional wedding, nonetheless – I figured, what better opportunity than to check out one of these fancy blow-dry bars?

I did a quick Google search and arrived at The Blowout Bar in Grandview.  At $35 for a blowout, I felt the price was reasonable.  I also liked visually seeing the “menu” of hairstyles, and the ability to schedule an appointment right then online won me over.  I made an appointment for 2 PM the Saturday of the wedding and crossed my fingers.

The Blowout Bar did not disappoint!  In fact, I loved my experience.  For one, the space was gorgeous – simple, clean, elegant, and modern.  The staff was friendly and my stylist was rockin’ a cutoff sweatshirt and short spiky hair.  They offered me coffee, which I happily consumed given my date with the dance floor later that evening.  My stylist washed and blow-dried my hair carefully (much more painstakingly than I ever do), and then got down to the business of styling.
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I told her I was interested in something between the “cosmo” and the “flirtini” (see menu).  I’ve had my hair curled by my hair stylist in the past, as well as for bridal parties, and I’ve always felt like it was too “cute” – the curls were too much or something.  I explained this to my stylist at the Blowout Bar and she assured me we could make it curly and loose with lots of volume, without looking like I “tried too hard”.  I was going for sexy and glamorous, not cute!

Less than an hour after walking in, I walked out looking like this:
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Which turned into this a few hours later:
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As you can (hopefully) tell, a few hours and some makeup did me wonders!  My hair loosened a bit and took on this wavy, voluminous look.  Every time I went to the bathroom I was thrilled with my hair – so much so, that I kept telling Wyatt all night (alcohol-induced, mind you), “My hair looks FABULOUS!”.  And after all – isn’t that what matters?

I highly recommend The Blowout Bar in Grandview – or any blow-dry bar near you!  They would be great for bridal parties (listen up, Nash and Pam!) or would even be fun for bachelorette parties or divorce parties (yes, that’s a thing) or just for the hell of it!  I’ll be back.

2015

Happy New Year!

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EB and Jackie, showing off the fabulous spread at Ash and Johnny’s NYE Party!

I hope this blog post (#51!) finds you well and rested and ready to bring on a new year!  The fact that I’ve been MIA on this space isn’t lost on me.  I kept thinking I would write over the past few weeks, but then….I would watch another episode of Homeland season three with my Dad or go shopping with my Mom.  I guess you could say I took a break from computers.  And you know what?  It felt GOOD. No work, no blogging, barely any screen time at all.  (Computer screen time, that is…I watched plenty of TV:)).

But alas, with my first day of work in almost two weeks looming tomorrow, I figured it was time to get back on the proverbial horse.  And what better way then with a blog post?  So here’s a recap of what’s been going on the past few weeks!

Home for the Holidays
I arrived at my parent’s house late afternoon on Christmas Eve and stayed til mid-afternoon New Year’s Eve, along with my brother who was in from NYC.  Despite spending an entire week together doing very little, it still felt like we didn’t have enough time.  As previously mentioned, we did spend a lot of time watching TV – specifically the entire third season of Homeland (only 13? episodes) – SO GOOD.  And enjoying my mom’s superb cooking, of course.  Of which I share the highlights below – drooling, commence!

Christmas Eve traditional dinner (Christmas for the Jews!): Chili, salad, and crusty ciabatta bread.
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Christmas morning:  Migas (a mexican egg dish with fried tortilla strips!), Israeli salad, bacon, toast, fruit salad.
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Picturesque Christmas Day at my Aunt and Uncle’s home in the country (not Jewish!).  My aunt is a superb “classic” cook, and I look forward to this meal days in advance!  It did not disappoint.
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Just an average Friday night at the Chait household: swordfish, kale citrus salad, rice, roasted garlic cauliflower, and random leftover corn casserole from Christmas dinner.
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And last, but not least – jambalaya!  Served with salad and crusty bread (notice a theme?)
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Aside from all the amazing food and TV watching, there was also a decent amount of exercise, shopping, and chilling by the fire.  Notably, I beat my brother in scrabble for what I believe is only the second (maybe third, but definitely not fourth) time in history:
001Hey – a win is a win!  Especially against my brother.

New Year’s Eve
Confession:  I don’t like New Year’s Eve very much.  I tend to think it’s an average night with the expectation of a Fabulous one, and thus, leaves me (and most people) disappointed.  Dinner reservations are hard to come by, the bars are crowded, and it’s next to impossible to get a cab home. This, compounded by the fact that more often than not, I don’t have someone to kiss at midnight, makes me a bit of a Grinch when it comes to NYE.  So when Ashley and Johnny decided to host a party this year, I was all in!  For once, a NYE without all the drama.  I still didn’t have anyone to kiss at midnight (Wyatt was visiting friends in Arizona), but with no expectations other than to have a fun night, I succeeded in doing so.  Thanks for a great night, A&J!
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This NYE was also extra special because our dear friend Pam recently got engaged to her now fiance Reinhardt!  Right before the Holidays, Pam surprised me by asking me to be her maid-of-honor – quite the honor, indeed!  To celebrate, we had Kittie’s Cupcakes (the BEST – A&J had them at their wedding) and I gave a “cupcake toast” an hour or so before the real champagne toast at midnight.  It wasn’t much, but it was a fun little way of celebrating the happy couple.  2015 is going to be a fun and crazy year!
025026And last, but definitely not least…

National Championship!
OHIO STATE 42     ALABAMA 35

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From left to right: Pam, EB, me, Ash, Kelly. Real Football Fans Wear Sweatshirts, not Sundresses!

‘Nuf said.  Bring it on, Ducks!

Happy New Year from O-HI-30!  

Hanukkah!

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From right to left: Nash, Shep, Jackie, EB, Kelly (hidden!), me, Ash

8th Annual Hanukkah Party = Success!

I’ve been quiet on the blog front, and there are two good reasons for that.  1.)  I was sick last week with the worst sore throat I’ve had in recent  memory.  It lasted a full SIX DAYS and I could barely swallow, let alone eat or drink without sharp pain.  I consumed about 1000 Ricola cough drops (a godsend – worked better than drugs) and complained a whole lot.  It wasn’t fun.  and 2.) Saturday night was my annual Hanukkah party!

Needless to say, between the sickness that kept me from doing much more than pressing play on my next show (I did manage to work a few days but it wasn’t pretty) and prepping for the party, O-HI-30 just didn’t make the list.  So tonight, on this first night of Hanukkah, I’ll share some highlights from #8, and then I promise I’ll be back to regular programming (upcoming post – Match.com!)

With seven parties under my belt, I’m finally starting to get the hang of hosting and pulled of #8 without too much frantic running around or stressing.  There was a moment around 3 PM that afternoon that I panicked, but everything came together in time, as it always does.  I’ve learned over the years that the key to throwing a good party is to have just the right amount of food – not too much, not too little.  And, of course, lots of booze!  And good music and fun activities like lighting the menorah and playing dreidel.  You know, just the usual party things.

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I failed as a blogger once again and didn’t take any photos of the food spread, but it was a good one – and the best part is, it was all eaten!  Every last bite except for a few pathetic veggies and crackers.  In years past I’ve been left with way too many leftovers that have seen better days, and I hate to waste food.  So this year, the spread included the following:

  • Latkes (frozen from Trader Joe’s) served traditional with applesauce and sour cream – I made them from scratch once and I will never again – at least not for a party!
  • My Dad’s homemade hummus (he even made it – original recipe in Hebrew!) served with pita and veggies
  • Hot artichoke dip
  • My mom’s to-die-for mushroom cups
  • Bacon-wrapped dates courtesy of Ashley (because every Hanukkah party needs some bacon)
  • Various desserts made by my kind girlfriends (most famously, Jackie’s dreidel-shaped rice krispe treats).
  • White chicken chili – I made a pot so early party guests could eat dinner, and leftovers freeze well!

On the booze front, I always make a vodka punch using Trader Joe’s pomegranate sparkling juice and club soda – always a hit and very pretty with cranberries floating on top.  And copious amounts of other liquor, wine, and beer of course.  Duh.

We lit the menorahs (I have two – one real and one that sticks into the top of a wine bottle…classy) around 10 PM, at the peak of the party.  Even though Hanukkah doesn’t actually start until tonight, it’s tradition to light at least one candle at the party…so that’s what we did.  Call the Jew police.  And then the “dancing” of the Horah (yes, with the chair lifting an all) and general craziness until the wee hours of the night.  And don’t forget the Spin Me Maybe sing-along!

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Jackie the Jewish DJ

One thing that sets this party apart from others is a tradition that started a number of years ago with my closest group of friends.  Every party semi-destroys the home it takes place in, but my friends decided to kick that up a notch.  It started tame, with baby carrots being tossed all over the place for me to clean up with the beer bottles and and crusted-on food the next day.  It then escalated the next year to shaving cream on mirrors and on the walls of my shower, then paper towel mummies.  But this year, they really got creative.

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Yep, those are Styrofoam peanuts you see.  EVERYWHERE.  And I mean EVERYWHERE.  And not just what is visible – all over the floor – but in every nook and cranny of my apartment.  That’s where the real cleverness comes in – as I was cleaning late that evening and the next day, I found them (ok, we found them – Wyatt should get credit here for being a helpful co-host…) in coffee mugs, in bowls, in ice cube trays, in decorative martini glasses, in my pantry (laid neatly on top of each can), in my coffee maker, in my bathtub (along with all the ice from the beer bucket…that was a pleasure)…EVERYWHERE.  And just as I was finally getting into bed at 2 AM, exhausted – between the fitted sheet and my mattress!

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But perhaps the most clever placement of all wasn’t discovered until long after all the beer bottles were picked up, the dishes were washed, and my apartment was scrubbed head-to-toe on Sunday.  It was discovered last night, when Wyatt and I were getting ready to watch an episode of The Killing (now on Season 3…so good) with a $10 pint of Jeni’s Ice Cream (dark chocolate peppermint!), and discovered this:

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Yep.  That Happened.

And with that, I’ll call Hanukkah Party #8 a success.  Thanks to all who attended, and to all who didn’t – there’s always next year!  Wish your Jewish friends (all hundreds of them) a Happy Hanukkah tonight, and every night for the next eight!