Dressed up dresser: DIY

26 Nov

I have a lot of stuff. Like…a whole lot. I also have a small dresser and a small walk-in closet. Therefore, for the past few years, I’ve had overflowing dresser drawers and a closet stuffed to max capacity.

closet

I mean, seriously. And this is after doing a big clean out within the last six months.

I had been thinking for a while about getting a second dresser. After looking anywhere and everywhere I could think of, I realized that I didn’t particularly like anything I could afford.

It doesn’t help that I’m picky. I very specifically wanted something with cabinet space for towels and sheets since I don’t have a linen closet. I also wanted drawers on the bottom, not just shelves or another cabinet. And high-quality armoires aren’t cheap, y’all.

Anyways, after watching a few of pinksofoxy’s DIY videos on YouTube, along with the furniture makeover vid from What’s Up Moms, I decided to give the upcycling thing a try.

I got insanely lucky and found exactly what I wanted the very first time I went to Goodwill to look for a dresser. Seriously, cabinet on top, three drawers, solid wood and made by Ethan Allen. I got it for about $40.

dresser original

To start, I took off all the hardware and removed the doors and drawers. I spent an additional $50 at Lowe’s on sandpaper, paint, primer, a roller, foam brush, mineral spirits and a paintbrush. I bought wayyyyyy too much paint, so that total could have been $10-$15 lower. I also bought really cute new knobs for the cabinet doors on sale at a craft store for $3.

Then, I sanded the entire piece, including the doors and drawers. After I sanded each part, I wiped it down with mineral spirits and an old, soft rag to make sure it was completely dust free. Then, I primed everything. I thought I might be okay with using a paint and primer in one (I wasn’t), but after trial and error, I highly recommend using a real primer solo first.

dresser prime

Once the primer dried overnight, I got to start painting! I did three light coats, and used Milk Paint by Olympic as the white base and Belle Grove Sorbet by Valspar for the minty green drawers and accents. I painted the original drawer hardware the same color as the drawers to make them really unobtrusive.

dresser paintdresser doors

Then, I reattached all the hardware and screwed the hinges back onto the cabinet. I let the paint cure for one more night to give it a full 48 hours before setting anything on it, and then started filling it up with my stuff! I don’t have anywhere really safe to clear-coat and seal it right now, but I’ll probably touch it up and seal it whenever I move or get access to a safe place to polyurethane.

dresser finished

I’m planning to get some canvas bins for underneath to house my running tops, so that I can really maximize my space. For under $100, I was able to get a customized dresser that is exactly what I wanted. It fits so perfectly with my room and the space I have.

The dangerous thing is that now I have 7,000 ideas for what I want to upcycle next. Any brilliant projects to recommend?

So, I finished a marathon

16 Nov

I did it! After starting to dream about running a marathon in 2009, on November 8th, the dream finally became reality at the Soldier Marathon in Columbus, GA. Countless miles, GUs, chats with my bestie, and viewing of Spirit of the Marathon went into the last six months.

Still high off the Publix Half from March, RunningBFF and I signed up for our first full. Unfortunately, our training was plagued by illness, injuries, and a growing sense of impending doom. While we got up to about seventeen miles for our longest run, neither one of us felt great about our training, and our goal was simply to survive and finish within the seven hour time cap.

The course is billed as flat and fast, and while it was pretty flat, there were a fair amount of small rollers and one big hill at mile three where they have drill sergeants out to “motivate” you up the climb. I discovered that years after high school and collegiate sports, I still respond to yelling for motivation.

Solider Marathon Elevation

RunningBFF and I got really lucky and found a pair of sisters (shout out to Andrea and Laura: you guys saved our race!) who were also coming off of a less-than-ideal training cycle and were doing run-walk intervals. We hung with them for the first sixteen miles until we got derailed for a few minutes by angry stomachs. We picked our way home, running and walking, for the last ten miles, taking our time. After we hit the twenty mile mark, we knew we were going to finish without a doubt, which was by far one of the greatest moments of the race for me.

The crowd support on this small race (1,500 runner cap) was incredible! I was so impressed by how loud everyone at all of the water stations were, even after standing out in the cold for five-plus hours. They made a back-of-the-packer like me feel just as special as the top finishers. Also, they gave out GU at four different stations along the course. I was thankful to be able to carry less with me at one time!  Speaking of top finishers, the last eighteen or so miles of the course is an out-and-back to Phenix City, AL. This meant that as we were headed out, we were able to see and cheer for everyone else as they came by.

And then I finished. It’s been a week, and I don’t know if it’s completely sunk in that I finally finished my marathon. After building something up in my head for five years, it seemed simultaneously like the biggest deal in the world and strangely anticlimactic. I hugged RunningBFF, got my dog tags from the (very cute) soldiers at the finish line, then grabbed water and a bagel and hopped in line for a post-race massage. I think immediately afterwards, my normally very emotionally contained father was more excited than I was. Don’t get me wrong, I was excited and proud, but I think I was more contemplative than anything else.

marathon shirt

Of course, I’m super proud. The marathon always seemed like an unattainable fool’s errand, even on race morning. And I finished it. At the same time, I feel ready to move on and focus on other things. I’m ready to run faster at some shorter distances and get back to a place where training doesn’t feel like a chore. At this point, I don’t know if I’ll ever be back for another marathon. I certainly won’t become a marathon maniac anytime soon. One is enough for right now. It might be enough forever, and I know that separates me from a lot of other bloggers who run. And that’s okay.

The biggest thing this whole process taught me is to believe in myself. RunningBFF and I overcame an awful lot just to get to the start line, let alone to finish, and I went to some dark places in the training cycle and in the race that I now know I can overcome. I know how badly I can hurt, and how much tougher I am mentally than I thought. Does that translate to another marathon down the road? I don’t know. It does translate to a new sense of perspective on myself. What else can I overcome? What’s my next challenge?

While my next challenge isn’t another marathon, I can’t wait to see what it is.

Run for Recovery 5K

28 Sep

In the midst of marathon training, I got to finally do something a short and sweet! I signed up a while ago to volunteer for Kennesaw State University’s Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery’s (CYAAR) Run for Recovery, so on my one day to sleep in, I was up at six to go help man the race-day registration table before running the race itself.

R4Recovery

The CYAAR is a group that is near and dear to my heart. Their mission is to enable, support and encourage young adult recovery and wellness by providing programs and engaging in collaborative research and education. They work with students with substance abuse histories, eating disorders, and mental health issues to provide a safe and supportive environment for students in the community to experience success in school.

The turnout was great, with over 200 people preregistering, and a good number of people signing up at our table. I was thrilled to see people coming out to support such a great group. I also got to run the race with friends, which was a different experience for me. Usually, I’m a lone wolf at races, so having people cheering for me along the way was really motivating.

The course was three times around a one-mile loop that ran along a trail in the Kennesaw State sports complex with some rolling hills. I really enjoyed running on a paved trail instead of a typical road race. The scenery was really pretty, which helped distract me from the fact that it was a loop course. It was a little demoralizing to get passed by the winners on the second loop, but then I passed some stragglers on my third loop, so that kind of made up for it.

orion finish

Passing the finish line twice before actually finishing sucked, though.

Since I’ve been so focused on running long and slow in preparation for the marathon, I was worried that my legs wouldn’t have any speed for this race. My official PR was a 33:30 from the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure this spring, but my unofficial PR was a 32:35 from the halfway point of my Run the River 10k race in 2013. I figured I would shoot for another official PR and try to get close to my unofficial PR.

cyaar race number

I blazed through my first mile in 9:26. Oops. I could definitely feel that through the rest of the race. My next two miles were a steady pace in the low 11-minute range. Maybe I could stand to work on my pacing a little bit? Even with the fly-and-die approach I took today, I crushed my goal of getting a new official PR by running a 31:51. I’ve been playing with the idea of shifting my focus back to shorter races after the marathon and really working on speed, so it’s cool to have a new benchmark to work from.

The volunteer support was great, even though I might be biased because I know most of them. The fact that it was a loop meant I got to see the same water stand volunteers over and over, and they were doing a killer job motivating people on the course. We had a little snafu with t-shirts at the end, but everyone pitched in and worked together to make sure that every runner left happy and satisfied.

I also ran this race in random extra running shoes, because in the early morning confusion that is my house, I couldn’t find my regular (mile-heavy) shoes. I learned an important lesson. I. Need. New. Shoes. Shocker—when I wear shoes that aren’t beat to hell and back, my knees and back don’t hurt. I know, I know, I’ve just unlocked a magic running secret.

To sum it up: speed, new shoes, friends, volunteering and a PR. Sweet day.

If you are a student at Kennesaw State University who is struggling with addiction or an eating disorder, please look at the CYAAR website for resources and information. If you are in active recovery, you can look into how the CYAAR can help you achieve success at KSU.

Gummy bear nightmare

22 Sep

My long run this morning started off so, so promising. It really did.

RunningBFF and I went out to the Silver Comet trail to log 17 miles this morning. We were foam rolled, stretched, Advil-ed, and ready to go. The only hitch was that I was out of GU, so we decided to swing by a gas station on our way to the trail and see what they had available. They had a pretty solid candy selection, so I scooped a few ounces of gummy bears into a baggy to use as a substitute fuel.

A little foreshadowing: changing up you nutrition in the final weeks of marathon prep is a bad idea.

me gummibear

I would come to regret this picture.

A few miles into our run, BFF and I were both feeling fantastic. We were clicking off the miles, holding an easy, solid pace, and we were consistent with our splits. The trail is beautiful, and there were a ton of people out running and cycling while we were there.

silver comet

We hit the turn around at mile eight and a half, and I figured it was gummy bear time. I chomped down about half my baggy, and chased it all down with some blue Gatorade. Everything felt great, my legs still felt light, and our pace was still fast and felt easy.

gummi gatorade

Then…disaster struck, in the form of major stomach cramps that kept me at a walk for most of the second half of the run. Like, every jostle is pain and I almost yakked through my nose just plain awful cramps and nausea. All within ten minutes of the gummy bears. Can I still call it a run when I had to walk five of the seventeen miles? I’m lucky that RunningBFF is a good person and doesn’t ditch me every time (read: every long run) I have issues of some kind. I pushed on with running as long as I could, but eventually my (newly picky and very demanding) stomach won the battle.

Poor planning. I can’t pretend that this run was affected by anything other than my failure to get proper nutrition that I know works for me.

Positives: Holding a steady, even pace, the pace feeling easy, no serious hip pain.

Negatives: Poor nutrition planning, stomach cramps from hell.

Probably the biggest positive out of everything today is my recovery speed. After one episode of NCIS and a meal of shoveling as much to-go brunch into my face as possible, I actually feel pretty good. This is a new development—I’m usually out for the rest of the day after a huge effort.

If I can manage to link everything together (pain level, nutrition, pace) in one of my next three long runs, it will definitely boost my confidence. Knowing that all the pieces are there, but not being able to put them together in one run? A little demoralizing.

At least I’ve got three more shots to try?

The easiest party dish ever

20 Sep

One big advantage of my new job is having weekends off. After two plus years of having to work at least one weekend day, I have been learning to embrace Saturdays and Sundays.

I woke up this morning feeling less than stellar. I’ve been battling allergies and a scratchy throat all week, so I took some medicine, drank some tea with honey, and went right back to bed. I woke up feeling loads better, and just in time to watch a little football! I’m just hanging out at home snacking, stretching, and rolling out my legs in preparation for tomorrow’s long run. What are your weekend plans?

When I’m not feeling under the weather, I prefer to watch football in the company of friends, and if I go to someone’s house to watch the game, I hate showing up empty-handed. My go-to dish is sausage and Rotel dip.

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This is the simplest dip in the world. Take one pound of hot sausage crumbles, sixteen ounces of softened cream cheese, and two cans of Rotel, drained. Mix everything together in a bowl, then spread the mixture evenly into a 9×13 glass baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes and eat hot!

Since I quit eating meat, I have been making my dip with Boca crumbles. To add the heat from the sausage back in, I switched one can of Rotel for the spicy mixture with habaneros. The veggie version is still just as popular, even among my most carnivorous friends!

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What’s your favorite party dish?

Missing it

17 Sep

Oh, uh, hey there, Internet! Haven’t talked to you in almost a year….

Around this time last year, I found myself really not wanting to blog anymore. And since this whole blogging thing is supposed to be fun, I quit. I put all kinds of completely unrealistic pressure on myself to produce awesome content on an almost daily basis. I also learned that isn’t possible for me.

I’ve been doing a lot of work in the past year on finding balance in my life. I’ve changed jobs, I’ve gone back to school, and I’m still running. Plus, I still try to fit a social life in there somewhere. It’s a lot to juggle.

Recently, however, I’ve gotten the urge to write again. Not all the time. Not about everything. But I do finally miss blogging.

So, I’m back. With lots of new stuff to talk about. So here’s a quick update on what’s new in my life.

School:

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After two and half years away from the classroom, I have finally decided to return to school to finish my Bachelor’s degree in Human Services. I’m starting slowly—I took one easy class over the summer, and I’m just taking two classes this fall. But it’s going really well so far, and I have a new desire to learn and gratitude for my education that wasn’t there before.

Work:

I did it. I left the animal shelter and all of the adorable, sweet, cats and dogs there. Sort of. I still volunteer at both shelter locations for a total of 8-10 hours a week. I have moved on to another nonprofit, this time in cancer research and patient advocacy. In the shelter, I worked on the operations side, so to work on the fundraising side of a nonprofit is definitely a new and exciting experience.

Running:

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I ran my second half marathon last November, and my third one in March. I also ran my second Peachtree Road Race and the Race for the Cure this summer. Oh, and I’m training for my first marathon on November 8th in Columbus, GA! Training has had a lot of setbacks, so I’m a little nervous, but I have no doubt that my awesome running partner and I will get through it!

I’ve been on a huge learning curve, trying to adjust to a million changes at one time. But things seem to finally be settling into a rhythm, and I’m inspired to write again.

I don’t know how often I’ll post on here; I just know that I want to blog again. But it’s good to be back.

Accountability and balance

9 Oct

Accountability. It’s not something I’ve had much of recently in regards to my work outs or  my dieting. I’ve been going it alone for about three years now, and I’m used to only having to be accountable to myself. And I accept the lamest excuses in the world.

I know that for me to get everything in, I have to get up early and hit my workout first thing. I know that I need to eat healthfully and focus on the quality of food I’m putting into my body. I know that I need to be making sleep and time for myself a priority. But I’m not.

I feel like I just can’t get it together.

The funny thing is, I’ve recently felt really productive at work. I’ve been sidelined the past week from being under the weather, but other than that, I’m genuinely happy going into work most days right now. Work is not the issue. Letting work tip everything else out of balance? That has become a little bit of an issue.

juggling life

This is how I’ve felt recently.

The real issue, however, is me. I let my busy schedule become an excuse for not taking care of myself. I miss sleep, I eat “convenient” meals, and I skip workouts in that name of “me time”. I don’t know about you, but when I sacrifice the YouTube zombie time and actually use my me time to do something good for myself, whether it be running, reading a book, cooking, or spending a few hours with a friend, my life seems to almost effortlessly fall into a natural rhythm.

So why can’t I pull it together and do what I know I need to do? Accountability, man. I’ve got to find ways to remind myself to keep the appointments and promises I make with myself.

WheelLifeBalanceSmall

Apparently this is what a balanced life is supposed to look like: energy directed equally to all the important areas of your life. Ahem. Maybe if you gave career half the wheel, social/fun and friends/family/community a quarter, and smushed everything else into the remaining quarter you might have a more accurate representation of what my life looks like right now.

My point in writing this post is to give myself a little more accountability to focus on the neglected areas of my life. I felt awful yesterday, so I went down the the river (less than a mile and a half from my apartment!) and soaked in a little nature. And I snuggled with my foster kitty a whole lot.

hoochittypants

It’s not much, but it’s a start.