Motivation Monday: Foxy Trail Half Marathon


There were many hints. For one, the word "trail" was in the title of the race. It was put on by a racing group called Dirt Devils. The race was being held at Lake Hodges. Many hints. Actually, I don't think you can call them "hints" since they were more like "obvious facts." And yet....

I had no idea I was going to be running this half marathon on a trail.

I mean, when I heard trail, I think I just assumed it was like a wide and flat dirt road around the lake (as opposed to pavement). So, among the things I was not anticipating on Sunday: all the rocks, uneven ground, steep declines with no traction, roots, tree branches to duck from, narrow paths, so many rocks, horse poop, plant branches, the need to keep an eye out for rattlesnakes, running across a stream, dust, oh and did I mention rocks?

I ran cross country in high school so I know what trail running entails and on my better days, I'm normally not a complete moron. But for whatever reason, my brain gave out for this race. Why would I sign up for an obstacle-riddled, injury-causing trail race a month before the marathon I have worked so long to train for? Who knows. The good news is: I came out injury-free. And for a while, I even thought that I had PR'ed since I clocked in at 2:29 at Mile 13.1 (Another downside of trail races? They're not entirely accurate. My GPS for the whole course came in at 13.9). Then this morning I looked up the race results for all of the halfies I've done so far:

Disneyland Half Marathon 2011: 2:26:26
San Diego Half Marathon 2012: 2:27:33
New Year's Race Los Angeles Half Marathon 2013: 3:00:18
Mermaid Half Marathon San Diego 2013: 2:54:37
Foxy Trail Half Marathon 2013: 2:43:16

Apparently my best half time was 2 years ago during my first half marathon. Though honestly, I think I definitely would have PR'ed had it been a road race. After all, this was the most prepared I've ever been for a half.

I think the best and worst part about doing a race with 5 weeks to go is that it showed me where I need to improve. The question is: can I improve those things in the time I have left, when I'm supposed to begin my taper in 2 weeks? We'll have to see. In the meantime, since I didn't get hurt, I was glad that I got to switch it up and run on something other than pavement - I definitely think my knees appreciated it. My ankles, not so much. And it was inspiring to run with Dirt Devil racers as they are the kind of serious, no frills runners that I like to run with. They're also fast.

Which led me to unearth some new motivation as I wrap up 2/3rds of my marathon training: time. So far I haven't been concerned with it since my goal was (and is) simply to just finish my first and maybe last marathon. But running the race on Sunday and reading the blogs of other SoCal lady runners as I dive deeper into this rabbit hole of a cult, I have been thinking a lot about time and why I should be faster or at least training for speed. Since it's a bit late now to try and worry about that, I decided my new goal following the marathon is to run my fastest half marathon this year. More specifically, my goal is to get under 2:15:00!

4/22/13 - 4/28/13 Health and Fitness Stats:
  • ran 4 days for a total of 30.5 miles
  • ran a half marathon race and finished 13.1 in 2:29
  • ran my first trail half marathon 

Restaurant Review: Rama Thai, San Diego, CA


source: 1

If you're looking for the perfect date night restaurant in downtown San Diego or visiting America's Finest City and in need of a great place to have dinner in the Gaslamp, look no further than Rama Thai. One of the biggest transitions I made when I left New York City was leaving behind all of the great Italian places that I used to frequent almost daily. Thankfully, I have a new favorite that is as plentiful here as Italian is on the east coast: Thai food. Thai restaurants in San Diego are everywhere, but Rama Thai stands out: it's the first Thai restaurant I've been to with such a great combination of atmosphere, cocktails and delicious food.

Ryan and I discovered Rama last week after we got back from Coachella. And after 5 days of festival food, the amazing dinner we had there was almost too shocking for the system. Still in a party mood, I dove right into the cocktail menu and tried the Hibiscus Cranberry Margarita and the Thai Me Up pomegranate cocktail in quick succession. :)

By the time we started in on a couple of appetizers it was around 7:30pm and the restaurant was just starting to get packed. There were a lot of couples on dates, a birthday party in the back corner and a few co-workers enjoying drinks at the bar - a pretty decent crowd for a Tuesday night. We ordered the Kratong Tong first (in the photo above), which was so, SO good. It's a little bowl of minced curried chicken, potatoes, and carrots that you spoon out yourself into miny crispy shells. Ryan also got the Wonton soup and was enjoying that when I had to stop myself from devouring all of the Kratong Tong so that there would be some for him to try.

Choosing our dinner selections was really difficult: everything on the menu looked tasty. Ryan ended up getting the Pad See-ew and I ordered Yellow Curry and white rice. Both of our choices were amazing and super filling. We each ended up having enough for leftovers for lunch the next day.

Because the restaurant opens right into a front patio, I can't wait to head back to Rama for dinner on a warm summer night. I highly recommend making Rama your dinner destination the next time you head downtown to the Gaslamp!

Indio or Bust! Coachella 2013 Weekend 1 Recap


If something could be the opposite of a secret, it would be this: Coachella is my absolute favorite time of the year. This year was the first year Ryan and I went together, so while it wasn't quite my favorite Coachella music-wise, it was my favorite Coachella overall. :) From our cozy home-away-from-home in the back of Ryan's truck to surprise visits from friends to finally getting to see Airborne Toxic Event and Postal Service, it was an amazing weekend.

Getting on the road and out of San Diego has historically been the most stressful part of Coachella for me. This year wasn't any different. I was supposed to get a 16 mile marathon training run in and... I didn't. I tried though. I swear! Around Mile 9 when I realized it was going to push our departure time back over an hour if I kept going, I gave up and decided on a 10-mile run. I still feel pretty guilty about it, but honestly, I just wanted to start my vacation and get to the polo fields!

Once I got back, Ryan and I started loading up his truck for car camping. We said goodbye to the pups, made one final beer and ice run, made the obligatory road trip kickoff stop at In-N-Out and got on our way.

We decided (by accident) to take the mountain route through Temecula instead of the 215 to the 10. Which, as you can see from the random horse sculptures in the middle of nowhere and the mountains, is a much more scenic drive, though not necessarily a shorter one. Get stuck behind the wrong car on a one-lane windy road and you could add an hour.

Around 4pm we finally made it to car camping. A lot of people complain about the long security lines to get into the campgrounds, but honestly, it was one of our favorite parts of the weekend. The whole parking lot turns into one giant pre-party. Once we got into our lane, we shut off the engine, opened our cooler, got out the beer koozies and sunscreen and proceeded to have a blast for the next three hours. Everyone was in such a great mood and if I'd taken a shot for every time we got a "Happy Coachella!" I'd have been pretty drunk. Or rather, more drunk than I already was.

We pulled into our camping spot a little after sunset, set up, ate and promptly passed out on an air mattress in the back of the truck.

In the desert, there is absolutely no where to hide from the sunshine. So despite our makeshift curtains (I ducktaped pashminas to the windows), we had no choice but to get up with the sun. At 7am.

Friday morning we tried to be good and hold off on drinking as long as possible. But honestly, what else is there to do in the desert? After getting some breakfast (Yay for the return of green juice in the campgrounds! Wish I could remember the name of their truck..) and re-meeting our camping neighbors in the daylight, we set up our outdoor living room and then headed over to my co-worker's camp site for some beer pong.

Eventually our friends made their way over to our campsite and we headed into the festival in the late afternoon to catch the end of Stars. Our Friday lineup after that was mostly back-to-back. We managed to catch full or partial sets for Metric, Alt-J, Of Monsters and Men, Palma Violets, Modest Mouse, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I had originally hoped to watch Beach House and last til midnight for Tegan and Sara but after our 7am rise and shine, we called Day 1 quits after YYY.

Takeaways from Friday? I wish we'd gotten tickets to Alt-J at the Casbah in San Diego, because as fun as their set was in the Mojave tent it would have been better in a smaller venue. Karen O is a performer not to be missed. And Modest Mouse was a huge letdown. Whether it was the sound problems they were having or just their set list, I couldn't really decide, but for a sunset show on the main stage, they were truly disappointing.

It never fails that Saturday ends up being my favorite day at Coachella. After a rough start (Note to self: VIP showers are still terrible and SO not worth the 3 hour line), it turned into a perfect day. First, Ryan surprised me with my birthday present a few days early: a really gorgeous, festival-ready gold wrap necklace that I LOVE and went perfectly with my outfit for the day. Then our friends showed up to the campsite fairly early to enjoy some shade and beer pong with us during a relaxing, lazy day. And in the afternoon, two more friends who weren't originally coming to Coachella showed up with day passes and snuck in some Fireball whiskey for us! Many, many shots ensued.

There is some blank tape post-Fireball but somehow my friend Heather and I separated from everyone else to go see Bat for Lashes (which was awesome!) and explore the H&M tent. We reunited in the Red Bull Speakeasy, where I quickly downed two Red Bull Raspberry Lime and Vodkas (Red Bull had 3 limited edition flavors for Coachella that I hope, hope, hope they start selling soon), then we headed to watch Grizzly Bear (equally fun) en masse.

Postal Service was the band I was most looking forward to on Saturday and though they were absolutely amazing, afterwards Two Door Cinema Club ended up being my favorite show of the day and maybe even of the whole weekend. I danced so much that I immediately needed dinner, which I got at Mangler's Meltdown, this LA-based food truck that sells grilled cheese sandwiches with mozzarella sticks inside. What!?

We closed Saturday by watching the first half of Phoenix and then returning to camp. All in all, Saturday ended up being a lot of fun and performance-wise, definitely had some of my highlights. However, it remains undetermined if said performances were enhanced due to Fireball-induced euphoria...

I was absolutely determined to skip drinking on Sunday morning when I woke up and I believe that I cracked my first Bud Light Lime open around 10:30am. Which explains the photo at the very top, of me barefoot and fancy-free, dancing my heart out to Airborne Toxic Event at 2pm. Postal Service and ATE were two of the bands on my bucket  list and I am still so happy that I got to see them both.

In fact, Sunday may have been the best for shows. It certainly felt like we saw more full performances than we did any of the other days and a lot of them were bands we were checking out for the first time, which was fun. Our Sunday lineup also included: Grimes, Tanlines, Tame Impala, Vampire Weekend (surprisingly fun), Pretty Lights, The Faint, and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Outside of music, the highlight of Sunday? Riding the ferris wheel for the first time. The lowlight? The ridiculous sandstorm that made RHCP's set less than enjoyable. Despite how badly I wanted to stay, I couldn't even keep my eyes open with the wind whipping dust and sand into them (though, I will say, it made for a pretty light show during Pretty Lights' show). After about five songs, we made the trek back to the truck one last time and drove home Monday morning, more than ready for a shower.

Sets I Missed and Wished I Didn't: Youth Lagoon, Blur, How to Destroy Angels, Janelle Monae, Wild Belle, James Blake, Father John Misty, and the last half of RHCP. Again, damn you, sandstorm.

Coachella 2013, you were so good to us. See you next year!

Motivation Monday: Earth Day


Happy Earth Day, everyone! As a kid, I used to love Earth Day. Connecticut is just finally starting to see some sun around this time of year and I would take those incremental increases in temperature as an excuse to be outside constantly. Now that I live in San Diego and there's never an excuse NOT to be outside, I feel guilty that I don't take advantage of it more.

Marathon training has been a great remedy for this. With all the hours that I'm logging on the road, I've had a lot more time to enjoy the natural beauty that is San Diego. Wildflowers are blooming, the smell of jasmine is everywhere and lately, there hasn't been a cloud in the sky. We'll see how that holds up before May Gray sets in. In the meantime, my motivation to keep training lately is just the excuse to be outside and soak in our pretty city. :)

4/15/13 - 4/21/13 Health and Fitness Stats:
  • ran 4 days for a total of 21.5 miles
  • experienced a lot of knee pain while running
  • skipped my long run (18 miles) :(
  • lost 8 lbs in total so far!

Twenty Six Things I'm Grateful For


In celebration of my 27th birthday yesterday, I tried to come up with twenty six things or memories from my twenty-sixth year that I'm grateful for. It wasn't very hard and I am even more grateful that that was the case. I am so lucky to have such love and opportunities in my life. The time that I spent writing this post was a trip down the memory lane of a great year and a really good way to spend some time appreciating the people, places, and experiences in my life.

26. Living next to a great bar. Oh Aero Club. Thank you for hosting so many of my favorite nights. :)

25. Going to Disneyland for the first time. I had to brace myself before I told my friend Marisa that I had never been to a Disney park. Marisa is a huge Disney fan and grew up in Southern California, so to her (like most locals) this revelation was unfathomable. She and her husband gave me the VIP tour during Christmastime. I could have ridden Space Mountain all day. 

24. Dental insurance. Until this past year, I completely took it for granted. But without it, I would still be suffering from headaches and sleepless nights caused by my impacted wisdom teeth. Or at the very least, I wouldn't have been able to afford the unbeatable level of care that Dr. McGann provided when he removed them. If you don't want to be YouTube famous, he's your man. 

23. Jack's Mannequin's last show. Even though I've more or less grown out of the music, Andrew McMahon's bands (Something Corporate and Jack's Mannequin) hold a special place in my heart. Still, I didn't know how much I wanted to go to Jack's Mannequin's final show until it sold out in seconds. I posted on Craigslist looking for tickets and prepared myself to spend much more than face value. Predictably, someone contacted me with an offer for 3x their original price. When I explained to him that the show was a cancer benefit concert and asked him if he'd be willing to donate some of the extra money he was asking for to the Dear Jack Foundation, he apologized for raising the price. He sold them to me for the same price he'd paid, meaning that all the proceeds went to DJF and I got to share a huge influence in my life with Ryan who'd never seen them play before. And who, by the way, tolerated my fangirl request to stay until Andrew came out to take pictures after the show, waited until 1am with me and THEN drove us back from LA in the middle of the night. Have I mentioned how awesome my boyfriend is? 

22. New York City. My friends know that one of my favorite things to do is complain about New York and my time there. But when Ryan and I visited in November, we had more fun than I ever remember having when I lived there. From autumn leaves in Central Park to delicious Italian food in Little Italy to singing karaoke in Koreatown at 5am to our awesome AirBnB rental apartment in Union Square, it was great to visit and see friends and appreciate the city through the eyes of someone who was visiting for the first time. 

21. Valentine's Day bonfire. Having dinner, wine and dessert on the beach by fire in February? Unheard of for 85% of my life. So for me, where we spent Valentine's Day was almost as magical as who I spent it with. :)

20. Going back to school. While I'm not necessarily happy about school itself, I am always thankful for the freedom and opportunity that I have to get additional education and for the reprieve it's giving me from student loans. 

19. Celebrating new journeys for my best friends. I am so happy for so many of my best friends this year. Two of them graduated college. Three of them made the brave step to start their Bachelor's degrees. One friend bought a house on her own. Four of my favorite people got engaged. Five of them moved to a new city. Two had a tough year and came out stronger than ever. One of them had a beautiful baby girl. Lots of moves and changes and engagements and accomplishments and I could not be prouder or more excited for all of them. 

18. My company's parties. My company throws a seriously fun holiday party every year and this year was no exception. Great food, tons of champagne, a flipbook photo booth, and hours of dancing to live music from every decade at a venue they rented out just for us. They also held a summer picnic for us at SeaWorld and Marisa got my department a behind-the-scenes tour where we pet penguins and sharks and stood next to dolphins while drinking BLLs. Um, that's about as good as it gets. 

17. Disc golf. I played my first game of disc golf and bought my first disc this year!

16. San Francisco trip. Our trip to SF in February was a great time. I had never been before and we got to spend a fun weekend with friends drinking, shopping and exploring the city. It's hard to choose my favorite part, but our private Anchor Steam Brewery tour and our day trip to Alcatraz were definitely highlights.

15. Vavi kickball. I've wanted to join a Vavi league for a while and thanks to my friend Heather, I finally did last spring. She rallied us all to sign up for Vavi Kickball and for about 8 weeks we played every Thursday night after work. We were a terrible team but it was a lot of fun, especially the pregame Mexican food and cheap beer that no doubt enhanced our performance.

14. One year anniversary. In October, I got to celebrate one year of being with my best friend and the love of my life!

13. My new ride. For Christmas, Ryan got me a beach cruiser that is literally the bike of my dreams. My very grew-up-on-the-East-Coast-and-desperately-wanted-to-be-a-California-girl dreams. With a perfect little white basket on the front, this bike is going to see some serious miles this summer.

12. No more laundromats. Between having my phone stolen at one laundromat and having clothes ruined by the machines at another, I don't know if I can accurately convey how happy I am to have gotten a washer and dryer this year.

11. Balloon chandelier and our party getting escorted out of the US Grant Hotel. You had to be there. :)

10. Another wonderful Coachella. More on this later because I can't wait to share my pictures and the recap from my favorite weekend of the year!

9. Great coworkers. For as stressful as work can be, when you work with fun people it makes all the difference. The people I work closely with are kind and hilarious and super smart. I couldn't ask for more.

8. Big Sur roadtrip. What an amazing vacation. Big Sur is truly breathtaking. We were lucky enough to have a wedding to attend up there and took Brewer along for the ride. The three of us camped in a tiny cabin underneath the redwoods for the weekend and had the absolute best time.

7. Marathon motivation. After everything that just happened in Boston, I am even more certain of my decision to register for my first marathon this year. Life is too impossibly random and short to ever put off a bucket list item like this, especially one that is so determined by health. I'm glad I had the motivation to finally register, I'm inspired now to run for those affected by Boston's tragedy, and I know it will be one of my favorite moments of my 27th year.

6. My neighborhood and San Diego at large. I love where I live so very much. Growing up, I never knew any of my neighbors and here I not only know them but consider them my friends. I love the sense of community and knowing that a friendly face is always just around the corner next door.

5. More nights I can't remember with friends I'll never forget. Some of the best memories from 26 are actually pretty hazy. Fact: if I can't remember it, Fireball shots were probably involved.

4. Banjo!!! Our little Banjo bear was my gift to Ryan for his birthday and he has been the best addition to our home. Now I can't even imagine Brewer without his perpetually happy, snuggle monster partner in crime.

3. Getting older. Over the past year I really felt a shift in my perspective and a change in my way of thinking. Mostly, I feel confident, calm, and clear on who am I and what I want. And I know that that is a gift that only comes with age. In a way, the tragedies that have been happening in the world have added to this and helped me to prioritize the things that matter most to me. So much of one's teens and early twenties are about striving and for the first time, I feel that I am finally getting the chance to enjoy what I've worked so hard for. I wouldn't trade where I am now for anything. 27 is going to a fun, wild year and I'm looking forward to every minute of it.

2. Moving into The Sunset House. This house. It could not be more perfect. I love our yard, I love our view, I love our hammock and our wall art and our Craigslist-furnished rooms and and and...

1. My friends and family. I can't say enough about the people (and dogs) in my life and sometimes it's overwhelming when I think about how lucky I am to have every single one of them.

Motivation Monday: Boston


My  younger brother and I are both runners. Throughout the past several years, we've taken turns inspiring each other to take on running endeavors: I got him to run his first half marathon, he encouraged me to run my first full marathon. With the distance between us (him in Boston, me in San Diego), it has become a given that visiting each other will likely occur around a racing event that we can run together. I hope and imagine it will be that way for as long as we're able to run.

Mike texted me only seconds after I heard about the bombing to let me know that he and his girlfriend and friends were all safe and far from the explosions. Thankfully, he reached out before phone lines were jammed and so quickly that I didn't have time to let my imagination run wild. Still, the stories coming in from Boston made it sound as if the threat was not over and it was unnervingly reminiscent of when my mother was radio silent in NYC on 9/11 and I felt helpless to confirm the safety of the people closest to me.

In fact, helplessness is by far the overwhelming sensation that I've combated since yesterday. I've been following the reactions of people on social media and monitoring the details through news outlets and the more I become saturated in the story, the more helpless I feel. Helpless to distinguish fact from fiction. Helpless to correct the inaccuracies and ignorance of the blame game. Helpless to offer any consolation. Helpless to even put my own emotions into words. So yesterday I did the only thing I could think to do: I ran.

For the first time during marathon training, for the first time in years, I ran without my cell phone, without music, without a GPS. Without noise or distraction. I ran for an hour around San Diego, gray and quiet in the hours just before 5pm. And as I ran, I thought about all of it. About the victims. About the pain and the guilt of runners whose supporters were injured or killed trying to cheer them on. About the families and friends who hadn't heard from a loved one yet, who still had to hope their way through the silence. About these elite runners who had trained for months for this race, who had trained for years to qualify, only to have this momentous achievement made so very ugly. About the brave individuals who ran towards the explosion to help. About the people of Boston who, like New York and other cities before them, will now live in the aftermath of a city whose vulnerabilities were exposed. About who could do such a thing.

As a country, the cries for change have been deafening. Aurora, Sandy Hook. Evil continues to exist, as it has from the beginning of time, and tragedies both natural and man-made continue to test our beliefs about purpose and faith in humanity. People who crave safety are fighting people who crave freedom and the middle ground is a distant place, encased in fog. But Boston is tough. And runners are resilient. And if there is one thing that running teaches a person, it is that you have to keep moving forward, you have to fight through the pain, you have to work hard to get to your destination. If that's not motivation, I don't know what is.

4/8/13 - 4/14/13 Health and Fitness Stats:
  • ran 3 days for a total of 21 miles

Etsy Shop Highlight: The Mango Seed


Given my obsession with surf shack decor, the moment I stumbled upon Christina's Etsy Shop, The Mango Seed, I fell in love with her beachy signs and ocean-inspired art. Based out of North Carolina, The Mango Seed's coastal-style inventory boasts over 370 creations made out of  recycled and upcycled materials, as well as paintings on traditional canvas. Whether you need a new custom sign for your beachfront business, art for your walls, custom props for your beach-themed wedding, or whimsical pieces for your child's nursery, The Mango Seed is an Etsy gem! I interviewed Christina to learn more about her store and her life as an artist and business owner.

When did you start making the signs? 
In August of 2011 I was driving around in eastern North Carolina when I saw an old fence that was being taken down at a someone's home. I've always had an interest in recycling and upcycling so I stopped to ask if I could have the wood. At the time I had no idea what I was going to do with it. I brought it home and put it in a corner in my studio. One day I was playing around with different ideas and I took one of the old fence pieces and painted "SURF" on it in turquoise and white. I thought it looked so unique! That was the first sign I made and it shipped several months later to a town in France called Ciboure along the Bay of Biscay. I thought it was pretty neat that a piece of this old fence, which had been weathered for years in North Carolina, found a new home in France.

Where do you get your inspiration?
I love the ocean so I spend a lot of time at the beach. I love the energy that flows from the waves, the coastal wind, and the sun. That's the source of my inspiration. When I'm there my mind is free and ideas seem to come from nowhere.

Who are some of your favorite artists?
I admire the work of Escher, Picasso, Dali and Gaudi. I also love the work of Dolan Geiman on Etsy! His art is so creative, fantastic and magical. I have some of his work in my home now and I'll collect more in the future.

Is The Mango Seed your full-time job?
Yes it is. I've been self-employed as an artist since I graduated from college. In addition to the beach-themed signs, I also paint on canvas and take on custom projects as time permits.

How many signs do you make per day?
It really depends on the day. Some days I feel inspired and focused so I might make a quite a few, or I might paint on canvas. If I'm traveling then I won't make any. However, my iPhone and iPad are never too far out of reach so I touch Etsy everyday.

What is the most surprising thing about running your own business that you had never anticipated?
I had no idea how creative Etsy customers would be! I hear from so many people around the world who have an idea for a custom sign they would like. I love it because I never know what incredibly creative idea someone may come up with next.

What is the most special way you've seen your signs used?
Babies and weddings! I love seeing my signs and artwork decorating a baby nursery or a child's room. I hope the imagery and colors in my work inspires the imagination in their minds. I also love knowing my beachy wedding signs are a part of such a special day for newlyweds.

Proudest moment as an Etsy shop owner? 
When I sold my first triptych in 2012. It was a painting of a hammerhead shark designed across three canvases. I had it hanging on the wall in our sunroom and we loved it. I was happy it sold but sorry to see it go. Maybe one day I'll paint another one.

Most challenging aspect of being a shop owner?
I'm an artist but I'm a mom first. I have three children (9 yr old boy, 7 yr old boy, and 2 yr old girl) and I home school. So we're never bored and we're never short on challenging moments. Our mission as a family is pretty simple -- be nice, be creative, be healthy, work hard, love everyone and add to the beauty of the world. It's a never-ending journey and we try to enjoy everyday.

What is your favorite type of sign to make? 
I love to make the custom surfboards listed in my shop. They are pretty large so I have a lot of space to paint. There's no limit to how creative we can be with them and customers seem to enjoy being a part of the design process. I also love designing surf and beach-themed vintage ads. They have such a classic appeal.

What are your favorite paint brands/materials/etc? 
I love working with reclaimed materials and high quality paint. I want to make art that can be passed down over generations. To accomplish this, I work hard to make sure the materials I use are premium quality and durable. Then I pay attention to the details of the process to ensure a finished product that will last.

Can you share some details about your workspace?
I have four areas that make up my studio and workflow. First, my original studio began in a room built onto the back of our garage. I quickly outgrew that space so then the studio took over the garage as well. I installed metal shelving in the garage like a little warehouse and that's where I store thousands of reclaimed boards. I also keep quite a few tools there like a table saw, a couple of sanders, and hand tools. I use that space for processing reclaimed boards (removing nails, cutting and sanding). Second, I have a space inside my home where I design and paint. Third, I have a designated shipping area where all of my orders are packaged and prepped for shipping. Fourth, I have an office where I work on the computer and run the business day-to-day. Keeping each of these processes separate helps me focus on what I'm doing at that moment. It also helps me keep track of orders as the go from being a blank board to a finished product that's ready to ship.

What kind of support system have you had as a small business owner?
People are my support system. I have a great family and great friends. And I've made a lot of friends on Etsy and through my work.

Be sure to visit The Mango Seed and browse some of Christina's beautiful work! It will be hard not to find something to fall in love with. ;)

Motivation Monday: It Doesn't Get Any Easier


When I first started marathon training 6 weeks ago, I kept telling myself that it would get easier. Getting out the door would be easier because the run itself wouldn't be so hard and intimidating. The run itself wouldn't be so hard because I would have the runner's high to look forward to after. I would be motivated by becoming stronger and losing weight and getting faster.

I know better.

And I do. I was a runner in high school, a 5x/week runner with a 6 minute mile. And it never got any easier to get out the door. I always have to motivate myself each day. Sometimes it's with the promise of beer after a run (contradictory much?). Sometimes it's by looking at my fitness board on Pinterest. Sometimes it's just a 20 minute long pep talk on my drive home. Sometimes it's Ryan running the first half mile with me just to get me going. Whatever it takes, it's as hard to get out the door as it was on Day 1... if not harder.

I don't say this to sound negative. I say it as a reminder to myself and anyone else who is trying to get in shape or training for a goal. There is no one out there, no matter how hot they look, for whom getting out the door or into sneakers becomes easier.There's that Zig Ziglar quote: "People say that motivation doesn't last. Well neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it every day." It's true. Six weeks in and I have to motivate myself every single day.

4/1/13 - 4/7/13 Health and Fitness Stats:
  • ran 5 days for a total of 32.4 miles
  • average pace: 11'50" per mile
  • ran my longest run EVER - 15 miles!
  • lost 6 lbs in total so far

Motivation Monday: You Get What You Work For


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This past week I truly started to notice a difference in my runs. In general, I was running a lot faster, feeling a lot stronger, and logging a good amount of miles at my 10'00" MP. I ran my fastest 10K and my fastest half marathon and had the most mileage of any training week yet. Plus, I finished out the month of March running over a hundred miles and lost another pound! It's an amazing feeling when you get to the point of training where you're constantly impressing yourself by being able to do more than you could have the week before. 

This coming week, I am going to continue to step it up. Due to other commitments, for the past couple of weeks, I've only been able to run 4 days a week instead of 5. This week it's back to 5 runs. I am also going to attempt to run more than I've ever ran before this coming Saturday. With 8 long Saturday runs to go, I am trying to incrementally get to a 23-mile run before race day. My plan is: 15, 18, 20, 13 (I'm racing a half marathon), 18, 20, 23, 10 (week before the marathon). But in order to do that, I'm definitely going to have to get one of those super attractive racing belts with water bottles. Does anyone have a brand they love (preferably one in hot pink)? ;)

3/25/13 - 3/31/13 Health and Fitness Stats:
  • ran 4 days for a total of 30.57 miles
  • ran my fastest 10K yet at 1:05:59
  • ran my fastest Half Marathon yet at 2:32:31
  • average pace: 10'50" per mile
  • logged 105 miles in the month of March!!!
  • lost 5 lbs in total so far
  • didn't track my LoseIt Calories this week