Container Gardening

Our second-floor balcony

We’re lucky to have a fairly large balcony attached to our second-story apartment home. In times of nice weather, we enjoy eating dinner, drinking wine, lesson planning, reading, or just getting some sun out there. This year, I decided to try to spruce it up a bit.

Spruced-up balcony

It’s nothing fancy, but I added a few plants and a small container herb garden. The color and life brings vibrancy to what was bland and grey last summer.

Two larger pots of petunias stand on the floor.

White petunias

Pink petunias

Planter on the railing

Dianthus

Vinca Vine

We’ve also really enjoyed using fresh herbs from our “garden” in our cooking recently.

Herbs on the railing

Oregano

Parsley

Sage

I’ve used the oregano in a few pasta dishes, and the parsley I used in a vegetable side for our family Easter celebration. The flavor is so much more full and intense with fresh herbs than the dried stuff that came in our Martha Stewart spice rack.

I’m pretty impressed that I’ve managed to keep all of these plants alive so far. I haven’t had much success in this area in the past, killing the two plants I had in my classroom this year, as well as the plant I had in college. (As soon as I moved home, I forgot about it and left it to rot in my parents’ basement alongside the boxes of plastic dishes that had come out of my college kitchen.)

The Running Community

Since becoming a runner, one of the things I’ve really come to appreciate about the sport is the community.

I’ve been running regularly for about 10 months now, and am feeling less and less like a fake. The times when I feel most like a runner are…

1. Weekend long runs

My alarm (either internal or external) generally goes off by 7:00 on Saturday mornings, and I’m laced up, granola bar’d, and on the trail by 7:30. Although I’m a solo runner, opting to spend the 6-10 miles with my audiobook, I never feel lonely. I’m bound to pass another runner friend, a piano student’s parent, a member of my gym, or just other runners out doing a training run that morning. There’s even one woman, whom I’ve never officially met, that I’ve named Carla in my head. I see Carla every Saturday morning without fail, running with her water bottles strapped around her waist, then generally bump into her at races, as well.

As a runner, every time you run by someone, it’s polite to say a “Good morning!” or at least give a little wave. Often, you’ll pass the same person going back the other direction. The second time, it’s customary to say “Hello… again!” or share a little laugh. The joke never gets old–you’ve got to do something to entertain yourself while you’re out there.

Then there are the strong runners who fly by at my sprint pace–even though they’re running twice as many miles as I am. My favorites are the ones that give an encouraging thumbs up or even a “Good work!” It may sound cheesy, but those little encouragements can go a long way.

2. Running stores

Gary Gribble’s Running Sports is the mecca of all running stores in the KC area. It’s a great place for running shoes and apparel, as well as accessories like running gloves, hats, and water bottles. You can even score all kinds of running memorabilia like coffee mugs, lanyards, headbands, and bumper stickers sporting the ever-popular 26.2 or 13.1 logo.

Walking into Gary Gribble’s makes me feel like my hobby is legit. I walk over to the glove section, and peruse the 50+ choices. An employee comes over to help me:

“What are you looking for today?”

“Well, I’m thinking I need some gloves.”

“Let me show you our options: these $50 gloves have three sweat-wicking layers, insulated in fleece. The $25 gloves are our thinnest and sport a pocket for your car key. These $800 gloves actually communicate with your tennis shoes and ensure that your hands and feet are moving in perfect harmony to propel you forward at the optimal pace dependent on the incline of the path and the length of your stride.” (Okay, I made that last one up…)

“Gosh, I just don’t know. There are so many choices…”

“I guess you just have to ask yourself how cold your hands get.”

“They get pretty cold. Even a little numb.”

The employees at Garry Gribble’s are also so encouraging. The company often holds training runs, and sets up water stations along running routes. One time, I was out on a 10-miler, trying out the fancy new water bottle I’d purchased earlier in the week. I couldn’t get any water out! I felt like a total idiot, until I ran by the lady who’d sold it to me, walking from one water station to the next.

“Excuse me!” I said. “I’m sorry, but I recognize you from Garry Gribble’s. Could you tell me the trick to this water bottle?”

“Oh sure!” She responded, and gave me a quick tutorial right there on the path.

On my way back, I passed one of her water stations.

“How’s that water bottle working now?” she asked.

“Just great!” I answered. “Thanks for the tip!”

3. Water stations

Sometimes on a long run I’ll get lucky and run by a water station that is set up for a running group that morning. “Hey! Come get some water!” They’ll often call. And I just can’t pass them up. You stand around the water cooler for a minute or two, sipping from a Dixie cup.

“How far are you running today?”

“Eight. You?”

“Fifteen.”

“Wow! What are you training for?”

“The Des Moines marathon. You?”

“The Kansas City half.”

“Good luck! That’s awesome!”

“Have a good run!”

(Fast forward a couple of weeks.)

“Hey! How’s the training going?”

So much encouragement! I love it.

4. Race Expos

I LOVE packet pick-up. Walking around, checking out upcoming events and running apparel. I’ve become a sucker for those cheesy running shirts, like: “I’m only half crazy,” or “I don’t go all the way.” I’m loving all those new running headbands, and plan to invest in some soon. Probably the one that says: “Will run for ice cream,” or maybe, “I’m a wine drinker with a running problem.”

5. Race Day!

No words can explain the endorphin kick that comes from a good race. Thousands of runners, warming up, stretching, listening to “Pumped Up Kicks” over and over again. The spectators with their awesome signs: “You’ve got stamina! Give me a call…” “Your feet hurt from all that ass you’re kicking!” or just “Go, Mommy!” even though they’re not my kids.

Then there’s that awesome feeling of walking around afterwards, sweaty and disgusting, a medal around your neck, eating a banana and drinking a chocolate milk. Chocolate milk really makes me feel like a runner.

It’s these times that get me out of bed at 4:45 on Mondays and Wednesdays, and that keep me hitting the trail every Saturday morning. It’s these reasons that I’m signed up for nine more races this season. Moral of the story? I love being a runner and being a part of this community.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

“I hate airports.”

“Really?” Oliver says. “I love them.”

She’s convinced, for a moment, that he’s still teasing her, but then realizes he’s serious.

“I like how you’re neither here nor there. And how there’s nowhere else you’re meant to be while waiting. You’re just sort of… suspended.”

This is just one of many insightful moments by two teenagers in this lovely book. That’s really the only way to describe this novel; it’s just… lovely.

Oliver and Hadley meet in an airport. Hadley has just missed her flight to London, where she’s expected to see her dad marry a woman who is not her mother. Oliver is on his way home to London for a family affair. The two end up dozing on one another’s shoulders for the duration of the overseas flight. Separated at customs after a tantalizing kiss, Hadley isn’t sure she’ll ever see Oliver again. They exchanged no contact information, and she’s now running late–very late–to the ceremony. Will she ever see Oliver again?

“People who meet in airports are seventy-two percent more likely to fall for each other than people who meet anywhere else.”

“You’re ridiculous,” she says…

“Did you know that people who meet at least three different times within a twenty-four hour period are ninety-eight percent more likely to meet again?”

This time she doesn’t bother correcting him. Just this once, she’d like to believe that he’s right.

The entire novel takes place in a 24-hour period. Not only does it feature a “meet cute”, but the storyline ends up being much less predictable than you might think at the get-go. Through flashbacks, we learn about Hadley’s relationship with her parents, and the complexities of this weekend in London. Oliver’s situation turns out to be more complicated than we originally believe, and the two teenagers are able to support each other much more than your average airplane seatmate.

I would highly suggest this quick read for before-bed or pool-side light reading. It took me about three evenings to finish–and I tend to fall asleep quickly when I start reading at night.

In concordance with the many young adult blogs I read, I’d give this book lots of stars–if I gave books stars.

Jennifer E. Smith has written three other novels–You Are Here, The Storm Makers, and The Comeback Season–all of which are now on my TBR list.

Oh, and let’s add this to my Books I’d Like To See Made into Movies list.

Top Ten Tuesday – Authors I’d Like to See on a Reality Show

When I saw this topic listed on The Broke and the Bookish, I planned to just skip it. I’m not really a big fan of reality shows. But, then I began thinking about classic authors, like Jane Austen and Roald Dahl, displaced into modern-day reality TV situations… and knew I couldn’t resist.

I just want to say, before you read any further, that these are all authors that I’ve read, I like, and I respect. So don’t read into my assignments, here–they’re all in fun!

Modern Day Authors

1. Stephanie Meyer on Temptation Island

… But with vampires and werewolves.

2. Meg Cabot on Last Comic Standing    

Because she freakin’ cracks me up.

     3. Nicholas Sparks on Tough Love: Couples

Let’s let the master of romance put his knowledge to good use.

4. Jodi Picoult on The People’s Court     

Knowing the ins and outs of the law, Picoult could really put some of these people in their rightful (lawful) place.

     5. Suzanne Collins on Survivor

But, let’s make it, like, Survivor on Steroids and give her a taste of her own medicine.

6. J.K. Rowling on Dancing with the Stars    

I simply chose this combination because I could actually see it happening…

Classic Authors

     7. Laura Ingalls Wilder on What Not to Wear

I’m sorry, I’m a HUGE Wilder fan–I even did my undergraduate capstone on the timelessness of her series!–but she could seriously use Carmindy and Ted Gibson to revamp her make-up & hair.

8. Dr. Seuss on Project Runway    

With his imagination and creativity, even I might be interested in watching this show for once.

     9. Jane Austen on The Bachelorette

Let’s see if any men could measure up to the standards set by Mr. Darcy.

10. Roald Dahl on Jersey Shore    

He just seems like such a strange guy… I think it’d be awesome to see him and “The Situation” duke it out.

Did I miss any obvious choices? Do you agree/disagree?

Meet Tammy

I’d like to introduce you to a new contributing partner here at Sharing Closet Space. After much debate, B and I decided our family could use a new member. So, without further adieu, meet Tammy…

No, we did not get another puppy. Tammy is my brand-new Canon Rebel T3! Ever since photojournalism in high school, I’ve been drooling over the though of one day owning a digital SLR. However, being a broke high school/college student, that dream never became a reality… until TODAY! As a grown-up with a grown-up job, I finally found myself in the position where spending $$$ on a new toy didn’t seem totally irresponsible (just a little irresponsible). Plus, I went to Sam’s Club, where I got the body of the camera, 2 lenses, a camera bag, and a memory card all for the standard price of just the camera body.

So, here she is! Say good-bye to pictures of this quality…

T3 Camera became T-Cam which became Tam which became Tammy

And hello to pictures of this quality!

I’ve been playing all day, and having a blast.

My handsome hubby

“Oh, Dad, you’re so embarrassing…”

I also bought a Groupon for a class at Freeland Photography in Lee’s Summit. I’ll be going June 8th to a 4-hour class, where I’ll learn about f-stops and shutter speeds, then go on a photo shoot with guidance from professional photographers. (The Groupon deal was awesome–$59 for what is usually a $450 class!!)

‘Tis the Season

Well, folks, running season is in full swing. I kicked it off with the Rock the Parkway half-marathon, and since then, have gotten a little registration-happy. Here’s my race calendar so far:

Seeing it all typed out makes me feel a teensy bit crazy, but also super-stoked. I went to Michael’s last weekend and bought all the supplies necessary to make my own race medal display. After this season, I’m gonna have that baby filled right up!

Goodreads

This year I decided I needed to start keeping track of the books I’ve read. I have an awful memory, and will literally forget about a book less than three days after finishing it. If someone asks if I’ve read a book, I often didn’t know… It was pretty sad.

My mom has a friend who has kept a notebook since high school, detailing every title, a quick summary, her opinion of the book, and any memorable quotes. I only wish I had thought of that years ago! Alas, I did not, and I’m sure that tens of books I’ve read will remain forgotten.

To remedy the situation from here on out, I took two measures: I started my Book Log page on my blog, to let you all know what books I am reading in 2012. And I also opened a Goodreads account. I’m really enjoying being a Goodreads member, as I can scroll through list after list of books, marking them as “read” or “to-read”, giving my own ratings out of five stars, and even voting on some of my favorites. It made the A-Z list I posted earlier this week a breeze.

Although I’ll never actually be able to add every book I’ve read in my life (because I can’t even remember what I read last month), if I keep this list going from now on, at least I’ll have them all from age 24 on.

How do you keep track of the books you’ve read?

Top Ten Tuesdays – Favorite Quotes from Books

Brought to you by the creators of The Broke and the Bookish

Presenting…

Katie’s Top Ten Quotes from Books

1. “You should be kissed often, and by someone who knows how.” – Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind

2. “Perhaps it is our imperfections that make us so perfect for one another!” – Jane Austen, Emma

3. “Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.” – Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

4. “I’m right and you’re wrong, I’m big and you’re small, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

“Here it is,’ Nigel said. “Mrs. D, Mrs. I, Mrs. FFI, Mrs. C, Mrs. U, Mrs. LTY. That spells difficulty.’
How perfectly ridiculous!’ snorted Miss Trunchbull. ‘Why are all these women married?”

“I cannot for the life of me understand why small children take so long to grow up. I think they do it deliberately, just to annoy me.” – Roald Dahl, Matilda

5. “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” – L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

6. “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

“It is our choices, Harry, that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

“It takes much bravery to stand up to our enemies but we need as much bravery to stand up to our friends.” – J. K. Rowling, the Harry Potter series

7. “Old Marley was as dead as a doornail. Mind! I don’t mean to say that, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a doornail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a doornail.” – Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

8. “Neither the mouse nor the boy was the least bit surprised that each could understand the other. Two creatures who shared a love for motorcycles naturally spoke the same language.” – Beverly Cleary, The Mouse and the Motorcycle

“Words were so puzzling. Present should mean a present just as attack should mean to stick tacks in people.”- Beverly Cleary, Ramona the Pest

9. “Maybe, sometimes, it’s easier to be mad at the people you trust because you know they’ll always love you, no matter what.” – Ann Brashares, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants #1

10. “I’m telling you, it’s fu**ing hard to be classy.” – Janet Evanovich, One for the Money