March 2015 Desktop Calendar - Free Download

It's no secret - I love tulips, as they signal the transition to spring, rebirth and growth. After February's cold and snow, I am ready to see their green shoots emerge from the awakening ground.

To Download this month's free desktop calendar, click on this link at
Free March 2015 Calendar - Tulips


Oh to the Rose

The Rose

The rose is a rose,
And was always a rose.
But the theory now goes
That the apple's a rose,
And the pear is, and so's
The plum, I suppose.
The dear only knows
What will next prove a rose.
You, of course, are a rose -
But were always a rose.

Robert Frost


Some say love, it is a river that drowns the tender reed
Some say love, it is a razor that leaves your soul to bleed
Some say love, it is a hunger an endless aching need
I say love, it is a flower and you, it's only seed
It's the heart, afraid of breaking that never learns to dance
It's the dream, afraid of waking that never takes the chance
It's the one who won't be taken who cannot seem to give
And the soul, afraid of dying that never learns to live
When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter far beneath the winter snow
Lies the seed that with the sun's love, in the spring becomes the rose

Bette Midler

Oh the red rose, what a pain you are to photograph properly.
The blown out, saturated red, the funky chromatic aberration.
Not what I saw through my viewfinder.
I played with your hue, saturation and luminosity levels and I'm still not sure it looks right.
But your velvet, curved petals, forever spiraling from the center,
Exudes graces and all that is beautiful.




I'm nothing more
than who I choose to be
I will stand tall
I will be free


A Winter's Morning

I passed by the park on my way home from grocery shopping - the sun was shining, spreading a false sense of warmth on the golden, wintered landscape. Yet I knew the reality - I had already rationalized away my morning run, citing a negative 10 degF wind chill was just too cold for me to deal with.

A half mile down the road, I decided to turn around and found myself taking a 30 minute detour from my heavily scheduled Sunday.

From Here to There


It was the right decision and 30 minutes well spent.

Speaking about decisions, my daughter received her acceptance notification at the University of Illinois on Friday (she got in!). In order to make a more informed decision, we will be making a trip to the University of Kentucky in a few weeks. I also went ahead and entered the NYC Marathon Lottery. I place my fate in the hands of the automated system that will pick the entrants on March 3.

Hope you are staying warm this cold Tuesday morning!


Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

My daughter, a senior in High school, applied to four colleges. She’s been accepted to three so far, and the last school (University of Illinois) is expected to release their decision letters / notifications today. Based on her grades and test scores, we assume she’ll be accepted there (but you never know!). Then starts the decision making process. Scott and I would prefer she stay local, but not because we expect to ever see her during the semester. With her horse, Caesar, it makes sense for her to be close by. But it’s not our decision to make.

I am seriously considering entering the New York City Marathon Lottery. This is not a guaranteed race entry – lottery entrants will be picked via the lottery which occurs on March 3. It is estimated that less than 20% of the lottery applications are selected for the race. This is the same process I took last year when I entered to run the Chicago Marathon. The main difference is the percentage picked – for Chicago, 40% of the lottery entrants were selected. I have until Sunday, February 15 to decide!

We decided to book a family trip to Kauai, Hawaii. Scott and I planned to go to the island on our honeymoon nearly 23 years ago, but Hurricane Iniki changed our plans - this hurricane hit Kauai the day before we got married. We spent our honeymoon exploring Maui instead. We always said we would return to see what we missed and we'll get our chance this summer.

I was scheduled for an early workday start on Tuesday morning and I decided to take my phone with me into the plant after I caught pink steam rising above one of the buildings. I think it ended up being a good decision.

Early Bird Day #work #goodmorning #sunrise

The most pressing decision of the weekend will be.... how to spend our President's Day Monday holiday! It's Chinese New Year, so I will be making dumplings. It's going to be great.

Are you off for President's Day? Regardless, I hope you have a great weekend!


Ironwood Book Club Recipes - French Toast Three Ways

I'm continuing with the collection of recipes from my book club group. Since the event was brunch, there were many breakfast dishes, including two versions of French Toast. As a bonus, I am including a third recipe that friend Kellie shared.

Version One - a make ahead casserole
French Toast II

French Toast Bake (Recipe Courtesy of Friend Jill)
- 10 oz loaf French bread, cut in 1 inch cubes
(or Italian, up to 12-16 oz. size)
- 8 eggs
- 3 C milk
- 4 t sugar
- 1 t vanilla
- 3/4 t salt

- 2 T butter, cubed
- 3 T sugar
- 2 t cinnamon

• Put bread into greased 13x9.
• Mix other ingredients and pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
• Pull out 30 minutes before baking. Dot with butter, combine sugar and cinnamon and pour over.
• Bake 350° for 45-50 min.

Version Two is a traditional French Toast, but made with super yummy Challah. One of the local bakeries in town sells it and an Almond Bread that could be used.
French Toast I
Challah French Toast (Recipe Courtesy of friend Nancy)

- 1 t vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 1 C milk
- 8 3/4 in slices of bread (Challah or Almond Bread)
- 2 T unsalted butter
- 1 t coarse sugar
- 1 banana
- powdered sugar for serving
- real maple syrup

• Mix vanilla, eggs, milk. Dip bread into egg mixture, coating each side.
• Meanwhile, melt butter on skillet. Add pieces of bread to skillet and sprinkle with a bit of sugar.
• Cook about 2 minutes or until brown. Flip, add sugar, and cook for about 1 minute or until brown.
• Thinly slice banana over bread and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve with syrup.

Serves 4.

Version 3 was not featured at the brunch, hence no photo, but Kellie made this on our Book Club weekend in Holland, MI and it is very good.

Creme Brulee French Toast (Recipe courtesy of friend Kellie)

- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 C packed brown sugar
- 2 T corn syrup
- 8-9” round loaf country style bread
- 5 large eggs
- 1 1/2 C half-and-half
- 1 t vanilla
- 1 t Grand Marnier
- 1/4 t salt

• In a heavy saucepan, melt butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over moderate heat, stirring, until smooth and pour into 9x13 pan.
• Cut 6 1” thick slices from center portion of bread, reserving ends for another use, and trim crusts. Arrange bread slices in one layer in baking dish, squeezing together to fit.
• In a bowl whisk together eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, Grand Marnier, and salt until combined well and pour evenly over bread. Chill mixture, covered at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.
• Preheat oven to 350° and bring bread to room temperature.
• Bake bread mixture, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed and edges are pale golden, 35-40 minutes.
• Serve hot French toast immediately.

Maybe it's time for some "breakfast for dinner" and I could use one of these recipes (as desert?).


Thinking Out Loud

No reference to Ed Sheeran's latest hit, even though it's on repeat in my head. And I don't really like the song that much, other than the melody (lovely) and his live performance at Sunday night's Grammy Awards (awesome). My reason for not liking the song is that it is destined to be the upcoming wedding season's cliche. It's the same reason I didn't like Sara Bareilles' I Choose You.

But I AM Thinking Out Loud this evening, trying to type something coherent while the cat vies for my attention by walking on the keyboard. So why does he ignore me when I'm doing nothing on the couch? Cats....

I have an obsession with rain, I love the sound of it even if it's not real rain:

The video clip is snow melting off a park shelter, falling like rain off the perforated roof. These are the crazy things I am attracted to after a long run (probably because I'm not thinking too clearly).

Which reminded me of the time this past summer, after the morning's run, I was cooling down in my backyard with some yoga stretches when the storm-threatened sky released the rain. It fell slowly at first - you know - those fat drops that dot the concrete - before accelerating into a curtain of water. I merely continued my stretches in the rain, then realized I was being watched - the people who moved into friend Kellie's house were peering out at me, "that crazy woman doing yoga in the rain". I make a great first impression....

Thinking about the Grammy's, I admire and secretly covet Madonna's legs. I guess it's no longer a secret now...

I'm a tiny bit jealous of all the snow Massachusetts has received, although I'm not sure if I would like it in reality. Six feet of snow sounds like fun. In reality, it's probably too overwhelming.

Some recent remnants of snow in the front yard:

So, no snow here and we had a true taste of spring this past weekend - so much so that I washed the car with the garden hose and hosed down the garage floor. Dare I say, maybe the ground hog was wrong? Is it Opposite day?

Aren't you glad I decided to Think Out Loud?

Yeah, don't answer that....

Edited to add - this link takes you to a video of Ed Sheeran's Grammys performance of Thinking Out Loud, also featuring John Mayer on the guitar. US Weekly Magazine Online - Ed Sheeran Video


Along My Run | 12 - January Potpourri

January presented itself with a wide gamut of conditions - we finally got some snow (yay!), then bitter cold, freezing rain and ice (boo!). There were several sunny days where the frost glistened along the path, and rain that washed it all away. Mother Nature tempted us with hints of an early Spring, but I'm not buying into it just yet.

Along My Run - January 2015

1. New Years Day Run is Done, 2. First Snow, First Snow Run #shirleyruns, 3. The Snowy Trail Beckons the Soul, 4. Daybreak, 5. River Runs Through , 6. Find the Sparkle Along Your Path, 7. Looking Up, 8. Perfect Morning for a Long Run, 9. Every Time It Rains, I Know It's Good To Be Alive, 10. Softly Falling, 11. Winter Morning , 12. Two More Miles - Keep Moving Forward

January commenced Spring Marathon training. Like last year, I joined the local running club's marathon training program. And like this time last year, I have not yet committed to running the local marathon. I'm sure I will sign up in the next month, as the training is going well.

The training program gives us two options to follow - a beginner program based on Hal Higdon's Novice 2 program, and an intermediate version based on articles from Guy Avery. I [mostly] followed the beginner program for last year's two marathons, so this year I'm going with the intermediate program. Generally speaking, there are more miles, more specific mid week workouts (hill repeats, tempo runs, etc) and runs at "goal pace". This, of course, forces me to hone in on an actual race goal (other than "just finish the thing in one piece and without being sent to the hospital"). I'm always reticent on these goal things - admittedly because I fear failure (not meeting my goal represents failure, even though I know it should not). But, for the record, my goal is to run a 4 hour marathon.

January Stats: 107.3 miles, 9:23 minutes / mile average pace
Favorite run: This year's first run in the snow, of course!

Monthly collection of running quotes, aimed at getting past all those doubtful feelings....

Don't let fear decide your future.
– Shalane Flanagan

Your toughness is made up of equal parts persistence and experience. You don't so much outrun your opponents as outlast and outsmart them, and the toughest opponent of all is the one inside your head.
– Joe Henderson

Don't try to rush progress. Remember–a step forward, no matter now small, is a step in the right direction.
– Kara Goucher

Happy Running!


February 2015 Desktop Calendar - Free Download

I'm writing this as the snow falls outside my window, a great way to end the weekend. We don't have to leave the house, the neighbors are outside building snowmen and shoveling their driveways, giving us that rare opportunity for some winter interaction. Earlier, I thoroughly enjoyed a run through the neighborhood trails and parks, all covered in white.

So, it seems appropriate that this month's free calendar download features a snow scene.

I took the photo last year, amidst one of the coldest and snowiest winters I've experienced in our 12 years living here. While I don't wish for a repeat of all that snow, I am happy we are getting some of the white stuff today.

To Download this month's free desktop calendar, click on this link at
Free February 2015 Calendar



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