April 15, 2013

I’ve been waiting to write this post for a while. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was to let my city start to heal, maybe it was to make sure that I did it justice, or maybe I just wasn’t ready yet. Whatever the reason, here it is.

April 15, 2013 started off like any other gorgeous spring day in the city. Chris had just gotten on a flight to L.A. for work, and I was taking the dog out for a walk. I remember how all I could think was “Today is perfect.” The sun was shining, there were a few puffy clouds in the sky, and it was warm, but not hot. Almost perfect conditions for one of my absolute favorite days of the year – Marathon Monday.

I instagramed this photo with the caption "Happy Marathon Monday!"

I instagramed this photo with the caption “Happy Marathon Monday!”

I had treated myself (and Zoe) to a dog walker for the day so that I could go watch the marathon and not worry about her. I packed my waterbottle, snacks, and my cell phone and headed off to my spot – just beyond Mile 26 on Boylston Street, in front of the Gucci store near the Prudential.

Mile 26 - my spot.

Mile 26 – my spot.

I’m starting to shake as I type this. It’s still so raw and emotional.

I got to my spot at my usual (absurdly) early time – 9am. Each year I end up next to the same man from Philly. We’ve watched his wife run by together for 3 years now. The funniest part is that we’ve never exchanged names in all our time standing on the side of the road together. Our morning went as it usually did.

With the country still reeling from the horrors in Newtown, CT, the BAA had done it’s part to pay tribute to the victims. It’s hard to see from my picture, but the Mile 26 marker was decorated with the town seal from Newtown. Families of the victims had been invited to sit in the VIP stands at the finish line. I believe there was a moment of silence held at the starting line for those young lives lost.

I started my usual obsessive checking of twitter. As the crowd built up around us, I announced the updates of both the Marathon and the Red Sox game. We watched as the wheelchair racers came through, and I clapped and screamed for them. Then we watched as the elite women came through

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Shalane Flannagan in third


Followed by Kara Goucher.

Then we watched the elite men come through:

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And finally it was getting to the fun part – watching everyone else come through. Those who train as hard as elites, and those who have an elite love of the sport. We watched my Philly friend’s wife come through. A few minutes later he took off to go find her. I was standing with another woman we had met that day, I believe she was from Ireland. We had watched her husband run by much earlier, around the 3 hour mark. She stuck around with me until it was mostly charity runners were coming through. Then she also started walking back to her hotel to meet her husband. I was still waiting to see a few friends run by, so I hung out a little longer.

Everything from this point on is cemented in my brain in slow motion – it will never go away.

I was laughing at a bunch of people walking down the sidewalk across from me with giant “Life is Good” heads on sticks when the first bomb went off. My initial reaction was that it was a cannon. This is Boston after all, on Patriots’ Day, so cannons aren’t abnormal. In fact, here where I live, I hear a cannon at 8 am and at dusk every single day. I remember looking down Boylston Street, and seeing the smoke from the “cannon” in what I thought was Copely Square. The conversation in my brain went exactly like this:

“That’s cool, they shot off a cannon for the winners”

“wait, the winner went through a while ago.. there’s no reason for a cannon…”

I heard a man behind me say “That wasn’t good” and the cop in front of me grabbed his radio and screamed “What the F- was that?!” and took off running towards the noise. That was when I got a little nervous. I picked up my bag – just in case – and the second bomb went off. It was just about a half a block away from me on the other side of the street. I turned and started running in the opposite direction. I was immediately swallowed up by a stampede of people running the same way. I watched a few people fall and get stepped on, luckily good Samaritans helped them up. I watched people scoop up their children and sprint. I watched as the happy faces and cheering spectators turned into terrified, running masses.

I remember thinking “The bombs are coming this way, they are just going to keep going off all the way down Boylston. I NEED to get out of here” I also remember thinking “I need to get to the hospital, they are going to need all hands on deck”. I got stuck in the crowd and got pushed into the Prudential Building.

As soon as I got inside the door, every muscle in my body tensed up, and I knew immediately I had to be out of that building – what if it was the next thing that exploded?

I sprinted out a door and kept running until I could get to a spot where I wasn’t in the stampede. At that point I was next to the Hynes Convention Center. Everything in my body was screaming at me to get away from the buildings – to keep running, but I had to know what was going on. I called my mom and begged her to tell me what had happened. At that point it hadn’t even hit the news. What felt like an eternity to me, hadn’t even been 2 minutes. She and my dad were on their way into the city. They were watching as a massive line of emergency vehicles went barreling past them. Then she told me there were two bombs that had gone off. I told her I was safe and that I was going to run to the Esplanade and then walk home.

As I was running towards the river I called the hospital. I told the charge nurse on my floor what had happened. She still tells me to this day that it was one of the scariest phone calls she’s ever gotten, and that at first she thought I had lost my mind.

I realized I had been meaning to meet up with a bunch of friends who hadn’t made it to me yet. I began the frantic phone calls and text messages to find them. With the exception of one of my friends, everyone had been at home when the bombs went off. One of my friends was in between the 2 bombs that went off. She got pushed into the basement of a random building and then was forced to flee to the river via back alleys and people’s basements. Luckily though, she was safe.

The walk to the hospital was one of the worst of my life. There were people crying and just looking shocked all over. Runners with their space blankets on trying to find their families. People screaming out names trying to find each other. Frantic phone calls were being made. The only other sound you could hear were sirens. So many sirens.

I wanted to cry, I wanted to throw up, but nothing happened. I just kept walking.

Two of my friends met me at the hospital. The moment I saw them the flood gates opened. I couldn’t stop crying. The reality of what had just happened was so overwhelming. When I finally calmed down we walked into the lobby of the hospital. I had been wearing my Marathon jacket from 2009, the year I ran, so people immediately thought I had been running. I had a reporter ask me some questions, but I just wanted to go home. My floor was doing OK at that time and didn’t need me to work. The City of Boston did an unbelievable job of dispersing the victims so that the hospitals were able to handle all of the injuries safely and effectively. It still, to this day, blows my mind that so many lives were saved.

Walking home from the hospital felt like an eternity. As we neared North Station we saw groundskeepers sprinting to all of the trash cans, tearing them open, and duct taping the doors open. That was when we heard the first reports that the bombs had been in trash cans. I refused to walk through North Station. I still couldn’t stand the thought of being inside a building. We walked the long way around the outside.

At some point in all of the madness I remember that I called Chris. He was still in the air at that point, flying to California. I would find out later that since he was flying Jet Blue, the TVs on the plan were showing reports of the bombings. He had to wait 45 minutes, knowing how close I was to them, to find out I was safe. I left him a message and as soon as he was able to, he called to see if I was OK.

There were also innumerable text messages and phone calls. All of my friends and co-workers know where I go on Marathon Monday, and I feel so blessed to have so many people who care about me. I got to the point where all I could do was copy and paste “Yes, I’m OK” to the over 65 text messages I got within the first 5 minutes after news of the bombings hit.

When I finally got home, I felt like there was a weight on my shoulders that I couldn’t shake.  I was devastated. What hurt more than anything was that the people who had been targeted were the charity runners. These people aren’t in it to win it, they are in it for the fight, and for their love of the sport, and for their love of their charity.

I have said it a million times and I will continue to say it “I don’t understand why runners – it’s not like we even run with sticks!”

One of the eeriest things for me is the immediate change in my tone that can be seen on twitter:

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Even after all this time, it makes me cry every time I look at it. It goes from being what it should be – pure joy – to what it quickly became – shock and sadness.

The immediate outpouring of support for my city was incredible. The donation to the One Fund from the London Marathon, the ad in the Chicago Tribune, and even local support such as the lighting of the Lenny Zakim Bridge and the TD Garden in the BAA colors of blue and yellow helped to dull the pain.

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The memorial became a place where you could go to just pay your respects, and thank those who had rushed in when the rest of us ran away. People left everything from balloons, to shoes, to their own Boston Marathon medals. There were jackets, sports jerseys, flowers, and signs. I brought down my singlet and my sister’s T-shirt from the 2 years we ran. I added on a bib number with “BostonStrong” and 617, which is the main area code here.

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People decorated the famous “Make Way for Ducklings” sculpture:

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There are so many things I will never forget. I will never forget the sound of the second bomb – to this day my gut instinct is to take off running at loud noises. I will never forget the faces of the people I passed on my sprint to the river. I will never forget that feeling in my stomach. But there are also good things that I will never forget. I will never forget the intense feeling of pride at being both a runner, and being a citizen of the City of Boston. I will never forget the amazement at the outpouring of support. I will never, ever, ever forget the bravery of those first responders.

My city has been forever changed, but the good news is that I know it has made us stronger. As President Obama put it “We may be momentarily knocked off our feet, but we’ll pick ourselves up, we’ll keep going. We will finish the race. (Source)

So come April 21, 2014 you will see Boston, once again in all of its glory. The sidewalks will be packed from Hopkinton to Boylston Street. Thousands of people will cross that finish line and we will come back, and we will finish OUR race.

Day One is in the books!

California International Marathon – here I come!

Today was the official start of my 20 week marathon training plan. With a goal of qualifying for Boston in 2015 (I’m hoping to get a charity number for 2014 – my name is on a list at this point) I knew I needed a long and solid training plan. I decided on 20 weeks instead of 16 to help get an even better base under me.

I’m using the Cool Runnings Beginner training plan to start. I’m nervous that it won’t give me quite the distance that I need to get my BQ, but I also don’t want to jump in headfirst and risk injury.

Speaking of injuries, today was one of those mornings where you go back to bed and get up again in an attempt to start over.

Chris woke me up for our bike ride (I’ve got killer shin splints at the moment so I decided to cross train day one) and as I went down the stairs in my socks (NEVER a good idea…) my left foot went out from under me and down the stairs I fell!

A little steep huh? and yes.. that wallpaper is for real. No, we didn't pick it out.

A little steep huh? and yes.. that wallpaper is for real. No, we didn’t pick it out.

It’s funny how when you are falling it feels like an eternity and you can think so many thoughts in such a short time. I remember thinking “Don’t break your leg! You can’t go to the beach in a cast!” (normal reaction, huh?) and “I knew I should have put my shoes on first!” and “well, there goes the bike ride this morning…”. All that in the span of about 5 steps – madness!

Luckily there were no broken bones – just a bruised rear end and sore arm – so off we went on our ride.

At this point I should probably also mention that this is only the third time I’ve ridden my bike off of the magnetic trainer in our “gym” (more on that later). The last 2 times I’m fairly certain ended with me falling off my bike. True story.

Chris got me a fancy Felt Racing women’s bike for my birthday a couple of years ago. Up until then, the last time I had ridden a bike was in middle school, and it was the kind where the cross bar went down on a diagonal. Niiiiicee and easy. This one has a horizontal cross bar, so I’m constantly forgetting I have to take a foot out and lean forward and to the side to get off the bike :/ It does have pretty pink handles though!

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Aren't they nice?

Aren’t they nice?

Anyway, back to the actual ride. We took off from the house and headed over to the Charles River. It has been so humid out lately, but the breeze off the water was nice and light. The fact that it was overcast was great too, since there was no glare off the river. We biked down Memorial Drive about 4 miles, and then cut across the river and came back down Storrow.

I have always loved running on Memorial Drive. It gives you some of the most beautiful views of the city. On a calm day the reflection in the water of the Hancock Tower and the Prudential Building are unbelievable.

It’s also fun this time of year because the city is setting up for the Fourth of July. Here in Boston we have the Boston Pops concert and the fireworks display on the Esplanade. There are huge barges that set up in the middle of the river to shoot off the fireworks. The barges went out to their station last week, so it’s cool to see them floating out there.

All in all it was a pretty great ride. With the exception of a couple less than stellar dismounts from the bike, I managed not to make a complete fool of myself. I got in a great workout, and prevented myself from further bothering my shin. I think Chris and I are planning on heading out again tomorrow for another ride, weather permitting…



Welcome Back!

After almost 14 months of a hiatus from blogging, I am back! So much has changed in my life in the last year, and to be quite honest I have sincerely missed the health and fitness community here in the blogosphere!

Up until about January, I hadn’t really been doing much in terms of running or exercising at all. Thank god for my cousin, who talked me into running the Run To Remember Half Marathon here in Boston on May 26th. Training had been a little lax on my part until April 15, 2013, which I consider one of, if not the, worst day of my life so far. I will save the full tale for another post later because of my intense emotions about that day. There is no way that a person, with as much love for the Boston Marathon as I have, couldn’t have been changed on that day. Two days after the Marathon I ran 10 miles after minimal training. It was that day, on that run, that I remembered WHY I love to run so much. Running has helped me heal many emotional wounds from that day and the turmoil that ensued in the city of Boston in the following days. The running community itself has helped me heal in ways that it will never know.

May 26th has come and gone, and my cousin and I successfully completed the 13.1 mile Run to Remember.


The Run to Remember was an amazing event that allowed runners to come together in the city of Boston for the first time since the Boston Marathon to honor those who had been injured, or had lost their lives in the attacks. The Run to Remember has always been an event to honor fallen police officers, but this year with the loss of Officer Sean Collier, it had an extra special meaning behind it. A full recap of this race will be coming soon as well.

Since then I have signed up of the California International Marathon on December 8, 2013 in Sacramento, CA.

Why run a marathon in California when I live in Boston?

Because I’m moving.

3000 miles away from the place I have always called my home.

driving map

The New Yorker’s company is closing it’s offices here in MA and is relocating to LA county. Talk about a change! No more shoveling snow for this lifelong New Englander! We are super excited about the move, and can’t wait to start our cross country adventure – which it’s bound to be with an 18 month old boxer puppy and a crotchety 12 year old cat in a Jeep!

I’m really excited to be back to my blog. It has always been such a nice little place for me and I’m ready to start adding to it more.

Thanks for stopping by to check it out, and hopefully I’ll be “seeing” a lot more of everyone!

Fit Friday And A Special Request

This has been a great week! Here’s the recap in case you missed something:
Beautiful Mondays had an amazing Guest Post from one of my favorite people
– Tuesday showed you something a little crafty that I did
– Wednesday was all about a great dinner
– Thursday gave you a glimpse into my home decorating

So here we are on Friday. This has been the first week in a long time where I have been able to post every day. It’s been really nice, and I’ve totally enjoyed it! I think I’ll be keeping up the current format and series. I hope you all are liking it as well!

So moving on to the last new series: Fit Friday

This one is another brain child of the Lovely Miss Kara, who pointed out that Fridays should be about fitness to help motivate you to keep up your fitness throughout the weekend. She’s such a smart cookie! 🙂

Back at the beginning of February, I made a list of goals to help keep me fit in Feb. I would give myself a solid score of 50%. I did get 3 new recipes that The New Yorker and I LOVE, and I registered for a 5K. On the other hand, 100 miles of running ended up with 3, and Meatless Mondays morphed into “oh shoot, it’s Lent and I’m not allowed to eat meat on Fridays”.

My biggest accomplishment, hands down though, was starting CrossFit. I have to say, I’m already addicted, and am dreading next week when I can’t make my favorite class (stupid work…)!

Source: lifeasrx.com via Cameron on Pinterest


The CrossFit gym where The New Yorker goes has a great way of introducing new clients to CrossFit. There are a lot of techniques that you need to know in order to keep you safe (and not looking like an idiot) in the classes. They start with a free intro class where they go over the basics:
Different equipment in the gym
Squat series
Push ups
sit ups
Pull Ups
and so on.

Then she put me through a workout. The workout was the Baseline workout for CrossFit:

500m row
40 squats
30 sit ups
20 push ups
10 pullups

Source: google.com via G. on Pinterest


The intro class lasted about 45 minutes, and I left completely unable to walk down the stairs! My trainer was awesome, and I had signed up for 2 “onboarding” classes before I walked out the door. The Onboarding classes were even more technique focused than the intro class, and I learned a ton. We went over a lot of the modifications that I would need until I was stronger, like using a band to help me with my pullups.

Then I bought a 10 class pack.

With the class pack came the CrossFit log book for the gym. It has an AMAZING amount of information about Paleo, the  bench mark workouts, technique, and more.

The best thing in the book, hands down, is the measurement pages. I immediately had The New Yorker help me with all of my measurements, and I can’t wait until next month when I get to check and see my progress!

So back to the classes:

Last Saturday I did the Bootcamp class. My trainer from the onboarding classes was teaching it, so I felt more comfortable knowing that she knew my limitations. The workout for class was

3 Rounds for Time-cutoff is 40min:

50 Kb Swings 24/16 (scale down as appropriate)
45 Single Jump Ropes (scale up for double unders)
40 Lawnmowers 35#/20# (scale down as appropriate and split between both arms)
35 Ab Mat Situps
30 Walking Lunges
250 M Row
25 Burpees
20 Box Jumps 24 inch/20inch
15 Push Press 85#/65#
10 Lemon Squeezers
5 Dead Hang Pullups

Can you say HOLY HELL?? I got through 2 rounds + and was pretty pumped. I didn’t wimp out, and did every.single.rep. It was such a great feeling.

(Sorry, this is staring to get wordy.. I’ll hurry it up!)

After my class, The New Yorker was doing the CrossFit Open at the gym. The Open is like the Olympic Trials. There is a set  of workouts that anyone can do every week, as long as they are judged by an eligible judge. The people who do the best at round 1 of the open, move on to regionals, and so on, until they have the competitors for the CrossFit Games.

The New Yorker’s Open workout on Saturday was 7 minutes of Burpees.  If you’ve ever done burpees, you’re cringing right now. I can see you! If not, here’s the basic idea:

Source: tumblr.com via Emily on Pinterest


The New Yorker did amazing, and got 95 burpees in 7 minutes!! He’s headed back tomorrow for workout #2, I’ll keep you posted on how he does!

And FINALLY, my first Beginner CrossFit class was Monday. I was terrified! The Bootcamp had been more cardio focused, where this class was way more weight focused. We did 2 seperate workouts.

15 Min AMRAP
2 Muscle Ups
10 Handstand Pushups
10 KB Swings

Then WOD #2
22-20-18-16-14-12-10-8-6-4 Rep Rounds of
Ab Mat Situps
Sumo Dead Lift High Pulls

We modified workout 1 a LOT. Muscle Ups are this absurd thing where you go from hanging on a set of rings, to a pushup-like position on them, to pushing your whole body to an upright position. It’s super hard to explain, so here’s a picture to help you out a bit:


Our modifications were 1: working on the dip movement on the rings and then 2: dead hang pull ups.
Then for the Handstand push ups, the mods were handstands against a wall for 10 seconds, followed by 10 pushups off of a bench.

It was an insanely hard workout for me, but again, I did everything and was really excited when I didn’t totally suck at it!

Now, I’m hooked and headed back for another BootCamp class tomorrow. I just looked up the workout:


Each exercise is 30 seconds on/15 seconds rest (off)
5 Rounds at each station and then move to the next station
1. Mountain climbers
2. KB Sumo Deadlift High pulls
3. Burpees
4. Split squats (right leg)
5. Gymnastics Push ups
6. Sit Stands
7. Triple Extension Jumps
8. Split squats (left leg)
9. Ab Mat Situps
10. 1-arm snatch left arm
11. 1 arm snatch right arm

Here is my new motivator – and this workout is helping me become more useful in general 😉

Source: zazzle.com via Jennifer on Pinterest


I hope you all have a great weekend, and a HUGE shout-out to Krysten from Darwinian Fail, who is  running a Half Marathon this weekend, and then turning right around and going in for major surgery on Monday. Please keep her in your thoughts this weekend, this girl is phenomenal!

Picture This

There’s this wall in my house that has been dying for some decoration since we moved in almost 2 years ago.

 I’ve been toying with different ideas for what to decorate it with. At different times I’ve wanted to frame maps, paint a mural of a tree, decorate it with those metal flowers that Crate and Barrel has, put up framed wedding pictures, you name it, I’ve wanted it on that wall.

I’ve also been needing to learn photoshop. I bought Photoshop Elements 10 a few months ago when I found out that Picknik was closing (HUGE fail on their part!). With both of these things needing to be taken care of, I sat down and spent the whole day working.

I had bought a copy of “Adobe Photoshop Elements For Photographers” last week, and when I opened it at home, I was totally overwhelmed! There is SO much to learn, and so many amazing tools. I figured I would teach myself what I needed to know by tackling a project and learning the tricks as they came up.

While scouring the web for ideas, I saw a simple ampersand. That was my focal point, and the rest took off from there. In Elements I picked a background and a font and got to work.

Then I decided I wanted the letters of our first names, C and K. I picked a font, spruced it up with some of the (MANY) tools in Elements, added fun backgrounds and printed it out.

Next, I found some quotes that I loved. One I just printed as is, the other, I moved into Elements, removed the background, and kept the text.

While I was working, I heard a funny sound. When I went to investigate what it was, I found this:

She snores louder than The New Yorker!

I decided that she had to make the wall, so I printed this one out too.

Then, I started assembling. I put everything into frames, and started arranging them on the floor. Per usual, my “assistant” was present to “help”.

Don’t worry, that paper stayed exactly where she wanted it.

Once I had everything in the right place, it looked like this

Then I not so patiently waited for The New Yorker to come home to help me put it up on the wall.

I’m not so great at the whole measuring thing, so I figured it was safer to let him help me.

Slowly, but surely, the pictures made their way onto the wall.

We kept measuring a putting until they were all up. We were both really happy with how it looked all put together

It really makes a huge difference in the hallway, and people who come over to visit like to look at the pictures.

We’ve already decided that when the puppy gets here, we’ll take down the “love” quote on the bottom right and replace it with a picture of the puppy. I can’t wait!


Whats your favorite way to display your photos?

Chicken Fajitas with Guacamole

First of all, Happy Leap Day! I hope everyone enjoys the extra day, and makes something special of it!

Last night The New Yorker and I had an AMAZING dinner. I wanted something new, so I went to the Paleo Plan website and started hunting on their recipe page.

Paleo is the choice diet (not the right word, but that’s what it is) of CrossFit and I’ve decided to loosely follow it. Loosely is the key word here!

Anyway, back to dinner.

I knew we had chicken defrosted and I just bought avocados yesterday, so when I saw “Chicken Fajitas with Guacamole” I was sold.

The New Yorker agreed and I went grocery shopping.

First, I made the guacamole.

I used:
1/2 avocado
5 cherry tomatoes
1/2 small onion
1/2 garlic clove
lime juice

I mixed them all together, mushed them up, and the guac was ready to go!

Next was the chicken.

The New Yorker mixed up the spices and chicken while I sautéed the onions.

While I got that cooking, The New Yorker cut up a pepper.

He added the pepper and I cooked that until the peppers were no longer crunchy.

Then (since we had just finished an episode of Chopped) I “plated the dish”. I started with a bed of mixed greens,

added my guacamole and salsa on the side,

and finally, I added the chicken.

The New Yorker on the other hand, didn’t have such a colorful plate

Rice and chicken.. Booorrrrriinnnngggggg 😉

We started eating, and both of us looked at each other and said “this is a keeper!”. I turned around and printed the recipe off immediately so that we wouldn’t forget it.

The spice combination was really good. It was also really easy to prepare, and didn’t take long to cook at all. My kind of meal!

What are you doing on your extra day?

Cork Board Makeover

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I’ve been a bit lazy. In blog terms that is.

Casa Sans Pasta has been getting a bit of a DIY makeover these past few days. Nothing too fancy, but just small touches that I needed to make it feel like more of a home, and less like a shell of a house. We’ve been living here for almost 2 years, and it’s been the ultimate DIY makeover since the word go. Luckily, the New Yorker is really handy, and I like to pretend I’m super crafty 😉 We also make a pretty good team, and have some great friends and family who’ve helped us out big time.

So what have I been up to? Decorating, decorating, decorating!

We have a wall that will get it’s own post later:

But in the meantime, I want to show you a cork board that I brought back to life. I have had this particular cork board since I was about 4. I remember it hanging, always over my desk, in all 3 of my childhood bedrooms, and too many dorm rooms/apartments to count while in college. Now that I live with the New Yorker, it’s been sitting in a room with no real purpose. I just couldn’t bring myself to throw it away.

I decided to update its look and put it back in its rightful place of honor over my desk in my (soon to be workable) craft room.

I painted it white to start with.

Then I decided I wanted it to have a chevron pattern, so I hunted down the painter’s tape and started measuring and taping.

I used my Ex-acto knife to cut the extra tape and create a sharp point.

I finished taping the whole board

Then I painted the stripes grey

Once I had filled in all of the stripes, I let it dry and peeled off the painters tape.

Once I was sure it was all dry I broke out the painters tape again, and taped off the border.

And then painted that black

Once I have a picture of it up on the wall in the craft room, I’ll post it. Right now it’s just leaning against the wall, sad cork board.

So there you have it, project 1 of many I’ve been working on around the house. I can’t wait to share the rest with you!

What is a quick DIY project you have done recently?

Beautiful Mondays – DIY Salt and Sugar Scrubs

Welcome to another round of Beautiful Mondays! I’m taking today off from writing, and have turned the blog over to my sister Beth, from Boston2Berkeley. She offered to write the following post, and I’m so excited to have my very first guest poster on PastaFreeRunner! Please enjoy – it’s a good one – and make sure to show Beth some blog love!


Hi, everyone!  I’m Beth, and I blog over at Boston2Berkeley.  I’m a huge fan of all kinds of homemade and DIY kitchen projects.  While I usually write about food, Kate and I thought Beautiful Mondays would be the perfect place to show you all how to make a few body and face scrubs.  These are all made with things you probably already have in your kitchen; not a single scary ingredient in sight!


The premise behind these scrubs is simple.  Both salt and sugar will act as an exfoliant.  Simple white sugar tends to be more gentle than the coarse kosher salt that I’m using.  Sea salt will be even more coarse; just pick whichever one you have on hand or feel comfortable with.  I usually use sugar for a facial scrub and salt for a body scrub.

The second component of the scrubs is oil.  Salt and sugar won’t dissolve in oil the same way they will in water.  You can use any kind of oil here; I’ve used safflower oil, olive oil, and almond oil all successfully.  Olive oil will have a stronger smell than something more neutral, so keep that in mind when you’re picking an oil.  Some people love the smell of coconut oil, but it’s solid at room temperature, which makes it harder to mix in the salt or sugar evenly.

The final component is scent.  I like using vanilla sugar (just pop a vanilla bean in a jar of sugar; the sugar will become completely infused with the scent of vanilla) and citrus zest together.  You can also get essential oils in almost any scent.  My grocery store carries them, but Amazon is also a great source.  The bottles are tiny, but you only need a few drops.  I have both grapefruit and peppermint essential oils that I’ve used with great success.  Pick whatever scent appeals to you!

Vanilla Lemon Sugar Scrub


  • 1 cup vanilla sugar (sugar that has been stored with a vanilla bean for at least a week)
  • 1/2 cup almond oil
  • zest of 1 lemon
  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Store in a small sealed jar (canning jars are perfect for this).

Peppermint Sea Salt Scrub


  • 1 cup sea salt
  • 1/2 cup safflower oil
  • 10 drops of peppermint essential oil* (see note below)
  1. Mix together the sea salt and safflower oil in a medium bowl.
  2. Add 5 drops of peppermint essential oil and stir.  (* different manufacturer’s make their product at different strengths.  Start with 5 drops, and add more as necessary.  I’ve found ten drops works well for me, but your taste might be different)
  3. Add more peppermint oil as necessary.
  4. Store in a small sealed jar.

These are so simple to customize and quick to make.  Plus, with a cute label they’d make a great gift!

Beautiful Mondays – New Shampoo

Welcome to another edition of Beautiful Mondays! I’ve been having a lot of fun writing these! I’m learning a ton, and (with the exception of my face… rawr. ) starting to notice a huge difference!

This week we’re taking a look at something you use pretty frequently – shampoo and conditioner.

Previously I was using Redken Clear Moisture.


My stylist suggested it to me before the wedding because my hair was SUPER dry and snapping easily. I loved it from the word go. It smelled amazing, and made my hair really soft after the first use! The more I used it, the softer and more healthy looking my hair got. It was great!

In the spirit of my new organic lifestyle, I took a look at the ingredients in my beloved Redken.

(I’m taking these right off the back of my old bottle)

water, sodium laureth sulfate, cocamidopropyl betaine, glycerin, dimethicone, distearyl, ether, behenyl, alcohol, cocamide mipa, sodium chloride, PPG-5-CETETH-20, Laureth-2, Fragrance, Sodium Benzoate, polyquaternium-10, arachidyl alcohol, Salicylic acid, carbomer,butylphenyl methylpropional,hydroxypropltrimonium hydrolyzed wheat protein, glucosamine Hcl,glutamic acid,linalool, methyl cocoate, limonene, oleth-10, disodium cocoamphodipropionate, sodium cocoate, lecithin, phenoxyethanol, sodium hydroxide, phosphoric acid, prunus armeniaca kernel oil/apricot kernel oil, citric acid


My next step was to head over to my favorite site: Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep.

My Redken conditioner is listed with a score of 5! YIKES!

Major concerns with this product are listed as:
-Endocrine disruption
-Irritation concerns
-Contamination concerns
-Organ System Toxicity


So I went to Whole Foods in search of a new Shampoo/Conditioner that I could get on a moments notice (aka, when I run out on a Tuesday morning). I picked up Giovanni Smooth as Silk Deep Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner.

I couldn’t get access to EWG Skin Deep in Whole Foods for some weird reason, and so I just assumed since Whole Foods sold it, it was good.

Then I went home with my new products and created a preliminary report on Skin Deep. Turns out that Giovanni  Smooth as Silk Deep Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner scores a 4, and has all of the same concerns as the Redken I was using!


Lesson learned. Do NOT just assume that because it’s sold at Whole Foods, that it’s good for you! Do your research first, and know what you are buying.

So now I am stuck with this shampoo/conditioner until I run out, but in the mean time, you can bet I will be doing my research and checking out what scores a 0-1, rather than a 4-5!

What do you use for a shampoo and conditioner?

Valentine’s Day Dinner

The New Yorker and I have a tradition of making ourselves dinner at home on Valentine’s Day. We’ve only been doing it for a couple of years, but we both really enjoy it. It removes the stress of trying to make reservations, and it allows us a little more flexibility with my schedule.

We make sure it’s different from every other night. Our normal night (when I’m not working) is to plop on the couch and watch TV until we’re hungry, get up and make something, and then eat on the couch in front of the TV. Terrible, I know, but it’s our routine, and we enjoy it.

The rules for Valentine’s Dinner are simple:
– Dress up. We act as if we’re going out, I do my hair and makeup, wear heels, and Chris stays in his work clothes instead of tossing on shorts and a T-shirt.
– Eat at the table. This gives us time to really talk. Granted, I’m usually talking straight through whatever show we’re watching, but this way, he talks back 😉

Since I was off yesterday I tried to make the kitchen a little more special looking. Our table tends to be a “catch-all” for (mainly my) stuff. I cleared everything off the table and put it all away.

My mom had given me a Valentine’s bag with 2  place mats, 2 napkins, and a great smelling candle. I set everything up and then set the table.

It really gets you in the Valentine’s Day mood, right??

I made dessert (simple, but cute) and when The New Yorker got home we started to make dinner. (By “we” I mean he did it all, and I took pictures. Typical.)

First were the potatoes.They came from our Green Box, and were a mix of sweet potatoes and not sweet potatoes (not sure what exactly they were). He cut them up, added onions, garlic, olive oil, and a few spices. He tossed them all in a bowl until they were coated, and then they went in a pan in the oven.

Next came the green beans. He mixed them in the same bowl as the potatoes and then put them in the oven.

Finally came the salmon.

The New Yorker has this amazing rub he uses for the salmon in the summer when he grills it on cedar planks. I asked him to do that and then grabbed all of the ingredients.

First he squeezed fresh lemon juice on the salmon. Then in a bowl he combined:
-brown sugar
-ground cumin
-chilli powder
-sea salt
-black pepper

He spread it over the salmon and then that went in the oven as well

While we were waiting we had a drink.

When it was finally all done we loaded up our plates and sat down to eat.

Dinner was spectacular! The salmon was amazing, and I really loved the potatoes and green beans as well. It was simple enough, yet felt a little more special since we don’t eat nearly as much fish as we’d both like to.

(PS – The Rangers were playing the Bruins, so I caved a little on the ‘no TV during Valentine’s Dinner’ rule. He was good though, only checked the score a few times during the game)

Finally, we had dessert.

I had made my favorite peanut butter cookies, but added a little something to them-

In the Valentine’s bag from my mom there were also Dove chocolates, so when I pulled the cookies out of the oven I pushed a chocolate into the center of a few. Then I cut out a paper heart and placed it on the center of the cookie. I sprinkled powdered sugar over the cut out and when I pulled it off, voila! Decorated cookies.

We both enjoyed the cookies, and brought a few down to Grandma so she could enjoy them too.

So there you have it. The Valentine’s Dinner 🙂

Did you do anything special for Valentine’s Day?