Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thirty-Three Percent

Well, it's been 5 days since my half marathon, and I think I am finally back to standing & walking without uttering a verbal "ohh" or "ugh."

This half was a completely different experience than my last one...

Back in the spring, I (almost) never missed a training run. I ran when it rained. I (foolishly) ran when there was ice on the ground. I ran when I was in pain. I ran. I ran. I ran.

My first half marathon almost didn't happen for me for two reasons:
1. We thought I had a stress fracture in my foot, three days prior to the race
2. There were horrible storms the morning of the race. There were rumors it would be canceled, but after a 2 hour delay, the sun peeked through the clouds and we were off!

My time for my first half marathon was 2 hours 31 minutes and 43 seconds.

::fast forward to preparation for second half marathon::

This summer, nearly every run was a mental struggle. It was hot, my legs felt like they were full of lead, my skin got itchy due to the heat... and I was just too tired.

The cooler temps that rolled in yielded a few good long-distance runs, but my 10-mile run the Sunday before the race, well, it was a real tough one. 10 miles is far!

During my drive to Dallas last Friday, I just kept praying for a strong mental state, no injuries, and that I'd have fun while running. (Fun is a component that I don't usually think about while pounding the pavement.)

Momma flew in for the event, and once I picked her up at the airport, we went straight to pick up my race packet. Afterwards, we decided to drive the race route so that I'd be mentally prepared for any of the hills or tough spots of the course.

Overall, it was a pretty flat route, but there was  and a back-to-back steep hills portion and quite a bit of construction. The ever-concerned Mommacita was worried I'd trip and fall. #klutz

I was a healthy mix of excited and nervous the morning of the race. I knew that I had not prepared as well as I had in the spring, but I also wasn't fighting an injury like I had been before. Thank goodness Momma was there to be my cheerleader; She is so encouraging!!

I should also mention that she took a video of me at the start line, and I totally tripped on one of the legs of a metal barricade while she was filming. Yep. As I said, klutz.

The first couple of miles were a real test of my mental stamina. The "Mile 2" sign is always tough because the immediate thought is, "It's only been two miles?!" But then all of a sudden, I found myself at "Mile 6."

The second half of the course was along Katy Trail - which Momma and I obviously couldn't drive, so it was a total surprise the whole time. It is gorgeous with a paved sidewalk trail and shade trees.

I was actually enjoying myself quite a bit during the race, but then things took a turn around Mile 9. My quads were getting tight and I was just living for that next "Mile __" sign. I finally gave in to the pain and walked for the first time for about a quarter-mile during Mile 11. (Sidenote: this was already an improvement because in the spring, I walked on and off for the last 4 miles)

Unfortunately, the pain got worse while walking, so I pushed myself to start running again. For that last mile and a half, I kept saying aloud, "I can do all things through Christ. All things through Christ who gives me strength. That means you, legs. Keep going!"

You guys, the moment I turned that last corner and saw the finish line, well, I started crying. Tears because of the pain, tears because I was so close to being done, tears because I saw my mom and that gave me permission to feel all the pain, and then tears because I saw that I was about to beat my time from my half marathon in the spring.


Oh yes, I found the last little bit of energy that I possessed and put some pep in my step to finish strong.

Then I absolutely collapsed into Momma's arms. So, if you see pain written all over my face in the picture below, you'd be correct. But darn it, I did it and I got my medal!

So, as I said above, I am finally back to walking without pain -- 5 days later. And I'm 33% of the way through my fall/winter half marathons. Five weeks until the next one!

And just when you thought that was the end of the story...

I took some time to check two 26 while 26 items off my list while in Dallas!

First up: Explore Klyde Warren Park

It was pretty busy, but what a fun way to see the park! There was this small dog hanging out in one of the splash pads, and it was absolutely hilarious. Unfortunately, as soon as I pulled out my phone to take a picture, the dog decided he'd had enough fun for one day. There is an awesome reading nook at the park where you can borrow a book or magazine while you're there. There's also a great little putting green. Not to mention the restaurant on the grounds that was packed with people.

However, I was there for the food trucks. I had done a little bit of research online and decided that I wanted to try Ruthie's Rolling Cafe, home of "The Best Grilled Cheese in Texas." Well, I haven't had any other grilled cheese sandwiches in Texas, but I can say that this was a darn good one! Ham, cheese, bread, yum.

Next: It was time to hunt down those B_G statues! I had a lot of fun with this item on my list.

The first statue that I found was a complete accident - it was right next to the start line of the half marathon. However, the picture I took before the race was far too dark, and as we addressed earlier, I looked like walking pain afterward.

I think my favorite statue that I visited was the Frankenstein & Witch combo at Klyde Warren Park. What a fun project! Way to go Big D.

Oh, and I almost forgot, I simply had to check out the new Sprinkles Ice Cream. As a dedicated customer over the past few years - helllooooo sugar addict - I felt like it was my duty to support the new shop. I'm so generous, no?

All kidding aside, what a fun concept and it was delicious! How cute are the mini cupcake toppers?!

Well, that's it kids. You better believe that I'm going to take some time to relax this weekend. I've also got a list of Loops & Belles tasks to do this weekend - including photographing a few new products to share with you all.

I'm getting so excited for Deluxe Winter Market! (That's right. That's my biz name listed on their website under "Artists." SQUEAL!!)

Alrighty, have a great weekend!

xoxo, E

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The guy who started it all..

I have always loved paper - for as long as I can remember. I have a box of cards, notes, and letters that date all the way back to elementary school. It's fun for me to pull out the box and sift through all of the treasures that are in there!

So, as I said, I've always loved paper... but it wasn't until I checked my mail on Tuesday afternoon that I finally realized what made me fall in love with snail mail to begin with.

I opened my mailbox to find an envelope addressed to Lizzy Newton, and I couldn't get inside fast enough to open the letter from my darling Danny Boy.

Dan and I met as just a couple of 16-year-old kids at a leadership conference in Washington, D.C. 

Following that trip, we started writing letters to each other - and even though the frequency has decreased a bit - it's a tradition that we've continued for 10 years. (I can't believe it's been that long!)

Side note: I need to send Dan some mail while I'm in another state. He's winning the award in "variety of states" mailings!

Danny Boy: CT, NY, VA, GA, and OH
Lizzy: NC and OK


I consider myself a fairly witty person, but I cannot hold a candle to Daniel. Seriously, it's almost pointless to try.

I would go to the mail room in college and as soon as I'd see his handwriting, I'd quickly flip over the envelope to see the humor that was waiting for me.

Here are a few of my favorites...

"My apologies if the seal smells like oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I was eating one when I licked it..."

"How can you tell if a Smurf is choking on something?"

"To the mailman (or woman): if you read our weird notes, check here"

So, when I checked the mail on Tuesday and had two pieces of 8.5 x 14 paper waiting for me from my Daniel, well I was giddy.

One of the pages was filled with his humor, details about his new house in Ohio (and the large guest suite that has my name on it), congratulations and excitement over Loops & Belles, and the mention of a "nitriding furnace."


Nitriding... Right... I totally know what that means.

Lucky for me, Dan included a drawing to explain Nitriding - complete with atoms, references to the periodic table, and graphs. You guys, he's an engineer... and way smarter than I can ever hope to be!

I have to admit that I kind of love that a piece of snail mail has the ability to brighten my day as much as this one did.

Happy Thursday friends. Here's to hoping you have a fun little surprise in your mailbox today!

xoxo, E

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Hashtag Discovering Oklahoma

So, I've lived in Oklahoma for 8 years. Let's take a moment to let that sink in.

When I first left North Carolina, I would have sworn that I'd be in Oklahoma for no more than 8 semesters. Notice how I didn't say 4 years? Nope. The plan was 8 semesters - with summers at home or elsewhere.

Then I changed my major, so it became 9 semesters.

Then I got a 4-month contract job with the University - 9 semesters and 4 months.

Then I applied for jobs all over the country, and I got an offer from an advertising agency in OKC - 9 semesters, 1 year, and 4 months.

Then I had a job offer that took me to the heart of downtown OKC for about 5 months - 9 semesters, 1 year, and 9 months.

Then I started working for the downtown organization, and over the next 2 years, I totally fell in love with this amazing city. And the more I learned about the state, the more I wanted to explore.

Now, I love a good road trip. Momma and I have driven from NC to OK many a time - plus a trip from OK to CA, as well. I will happily drive I-35 to Dallas at the drop of a hat for a quick adventure, and let's not forget the weekend trip to St. Louis a few months ago. (Relive my time in STL here, here, here, and here -- I'm ready to go back!)

I am also a lover of cheese.

Hm, wondering how those two are related? Well, now that you know those two facts about me, is it any wonder that I was elated when I learned of the Watonga Cheese Festival in Watonga, OK?!

I must go there. I must.

Well, as it so happens, the Watonga Cheese Festival was last weekend. And yes, I went.

After heading west for about an hour, it was time for this girl to get some caffeine -- the dreary day wasn't doing much for my energy level. And as luck would have it, there was a fun little surprise waiting for me inside the gas station.

I. Love. Buffalo. Statues.
Can I also tell you that this buffalo felt extra special because it's so far off the beaten path? What a fun find!

I also stumbled upon this unique buffalo sculpture on the way in to Watonga.

The sign points the way -- Home of the Watonga Cheese Festival! I was more excited than a kid on Christmas for what was destined to be a heavenly dairy experience. Can you hear the foreshadowing in my voice?

Now, here is the point in the adventure where a tiny red flag should have gone up in my mind. However, this mouse sign was moderately cute and he was pointing me towards the illustrious "cheese tasting line." Let's do this!

After a bit of wandering through the building - and a quick gander at the art show - we finally found ourselves in line for cheese!!

I should note that I was gobsmacked when I found out that the admission to the festival was only $5. (Yes, this should have also been a red flag flier)

Once I finished going through the line, this affordable entry fee was no longer surprised. There were 7 tasting plates with tiny (and I mean, even the cute little mouse on the sign would have said they were tiny) squares of cheese at the end of a toothpick.

I kinda felt like a character in that children's book, "If you give an Eliz a tiny square of cheese, well, she'll want to go to Ted's for bottomless queso for dinner." 

The adventure wasn't a total wash though. I got to experience a new area of the state, I did get to eat some cheese, and I absolutely fell in love with this building facade on my way out of the fest. 

To take full advantage of the holiday weekend - thanks, Columbus! - I decided to zip on up to Tulsa on Sunday. I've been to T-Town a few times, but I never feel like I've adequately explored the area.

If you're in Tulsa though, you might as well drive a little bit further to Catoosa to see the big Blue Whale on Route 66! I'd stood in the mouth of the whale once before, but it never gets old to pretend you're Jonah.

Whew, I sure did work up an appetite after all that "surviving a whale attack" business. 

I had heard a lot of good things about Andolini's Pizzeria and decided to give it a try. After being there for less than 5 minutes, I already knew I loved the place. Gorgeous brick walls, fun atmosphere, and a waiter who did a phenomenal job going over the menu and the local ingredients. Per his recommendation, an order of garlic knots (oh-my-yum) and the Upper East Side pizza were on their way to the table. 

I mean, come on, take a look at that pizza. To ease your curiosity, I'll go ahead and list the ingredients for you: roasted garlic infused olive oil, brie, toasted walnuts, honey glaze, topped with fresh Granny Smith apples. 

Oh yes, that's right, there was also prosciutto. Yum.

In case you can't tell from the photo above, this road tripping, picture taking, cheese-loving girl sure was happy after a weekend full of #DiscoveringOklahoma. 

xoxo, E

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Reigniting 26 while 26

I want to start by saying a huge, huge THANK YOU for all of the love and support after yesterday's big Loops & Belles announcement!

Now, moving on to 26 while 26.

I'm going to be real honest with you all... I loved my 25 while 25 challenge, and as excited as I was about my 26 while 26 list, I completely lost all my oomph and motivation to work towards the goal over the last few months.

To be fair (and kind) to myself, all of that motivation and work ethic was thrown into creating Loops & Belles. But now that I've shared the exciting news with you all, I have suddenly found the excitement and drive to reignite the 26 while 26 list!

So, here is a quick little update of where things stand since we last talked:

First and foremost, I haven't spent time in any new cities. Trust me, I'm just as upset about this as you are. But you better believe that I'm trying to make plans for all of the long weekends that are ahead of me in the next few months. You think I'm kidding, don't you?

I've made a hint at progress towards my goal of 26 new tastes this year, including trying mussels and dates. Deeeelicious. Well, more the dates than the mussels.

Oh, I finally decided what that one "TBA" item on the list would be... Looks like this girl will be training for a full marathon in the spring. I'm very excited -- and equally as nervous!

I mentioned that I'll be running a half marathon in Dallas at the end of the month and I plan on accomplishing the following items on the list that weekend:
- Explore Klyde Warren Park (I also plan on trying a variety of Dallas food trucks while I'm there)
- Hunt down as many of the B-G statues in Dallas as possible
- Go Indoor Skydiving

Oh yes, it'll be a busy weekend for sure. But you've got to go big while in Texas, right?!

I've also made some decent progress towards my volunteering goal over the last 2 weeks - including both the AIDS Walk in downtown OKC and ARTonTAP at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

I really need to get truckin' on my "try 10 new restaurants" goal, but I ventured out to Eischen's in Okarche a few weeks ago. I loved the novelty of it - no plates or utensils, just wax paper and your fingers. The best part was that the food was as good as everyone said it'd be!

I'm so glad I set the goal to see at least one movie a month in the theatre. I forgot just how fun it is to go to the movies!! It doesn't hurt that there are like 4 movies out right now that I want to see. Have you seen any good ones lately??

Finally, my Lettered Letters project has 16 remaining cards to send. As a reminder, this particular project entails sending 100 handwritten letters in a year. Also, it's one of the items on my list that I've enjoyed the most!

I've got some pretty fun plans lined up this weekend - after all, it's one of those three day weekends that I was talking about earlier - and I can't wait to share all of the adventures with you on Monday!

xoxo, E

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Big Announcement (12 months in the making)

I am a fairly excitable person, and I sure do love a lot of things, but nothing quite compares to my love of paper.

Ever since I was little, paper products have held a special place in my heart. I always wanted to go to the teacher supply store and buy cute notepads. When I was home sick from school, my dad would bring me sticky notes to brighten my day. And don't even get me started on the number of journals I've purchased over the years.

Second to my love of paper, is my love of receiving snail mail. These handwritten notes show that someone took the time to pick out a card, write a letter, find a stamp, and put it in the mail.

About a year ago, I started a list of ideas that I thought would make for good greeting cards. I would tell friends, "I love stationery so much, and I have all these ideas, I just wish I had the design skills to make my ideas a reality!"

After saying this a few times, I had the bright idea that "wishing" wasn't doing me any good. I simply needed to take action and start working towards acquiring the skills to achieve my dream of producing my own line of cards.

Enter, Nicole's Classes. I took a 4-week course to learn the basics of Adobe Illustrator. [I even shared some of my homework assignments here on the blog]

All the while, I confided in a few friends that I was working towards this goal.

My friend Kelly has been there with me since day one. She gave [and still gives] pep-talks, sat through brainstorming sessions, and provided feedback on whether or not a card concept was actually as witty as I hoped... Basically, she's been my rock.

Once I had some concepts mocked up, I slowly started telling more people about my plan. I worked on my website. I had card proofs professionally printed. (That was a super exciting day!) I started posting to my Instagram account. And now, I'm finally announcing and sharing the news on my blog!

So here it is... my big announcement... I have started a stationery line called Loops & Belles. (A little nod to my love of penmanship and my southern roots.) Squeal!

Feel free to click on over to my website and explore. You can also follow Loops & Belles on Instagram!

I'm also super excited to say that I'll be a vendor at this year's Deluxe Winter Market over Thanksgiving weekend in downtown OKC. So, if you're in town, stop by and see my first booth setup. Double squeal!!!

This adventure has already been everything I dreamed it'd be. I have said time and time again that this is my passion project. I've been looking for the right way to articulate exactly what that means to me, and then I found this:

"A passion project doesn’t mean a side business, although it could grow into one. A passion project is often an indulgence of your deep inner desire to create. A drive to bring your ideas to life, whatever form they may take... Create. Not for the money. Not for the fame. Not for the recognition. But for the pure joy of creating something and sharing it." (Source)

That's it! That's what Loops & Belles is to me. It brings my soul alive and gives me so much joy!

My friend Kelsey - who is embarking on her own passion project - wrote a great blog post about Loops & Belles on her website. Her words were so kind and encouraging.

I am so excited to build and grow my business. My biggest goal in all of this is to bring back the art of letter writing and encourage people to rediscover the joy of checking the mail!

xoxo, E

PS - I mentioned that the blog will be at a new URL soon. So, go ahead and bookmark

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Hello Fall. Hello New Job. Re-Hello Blog.

Re-Hello, Blog!
Well hi there! It's been quite some time since I popped in - we won't address quite how long (for shame!) - but the blog is undergoing a revamp, and I'm excited to be back!

[More on this tomorrow]

Part of the redesign will include a new URL, so you'll want to update your bookmark if you have it stored. But as I said, more details coming tomorrow!

Hello, Fall!
This is my 9th fall season in Oklahoma, and it is without a doubt the nicest one yet - and it's only just started.

We had the most beautiful weather on Saturday. So gorgeous in fact that this "indoor girl" wanted to be outside as much as possible. So gorgeous in fact that my quick 2-mile run turned into a 6.5-mile run... simply because the weather was just too nice to stop! (Okay, that, plus the fact that I have to run 13.1 miles in 18 days.)

[Eek! 18 days. Deep breath. You can do this, Newton!]

Hello, Momma!
My momma was in town recently for a quick visit. There is nothing better than a weekend spent with her! And after a year and a half in my house, she finally convinced me to bring a little color and life to my front porch. How gorgeous is this mum?! Again, hello fall!

Hello, Goodbye!
After two wonderful years planning events for Downtown OKC, I found myself presented with the opportunity to work for a cause that I'd dreamed of since I was in elementary school. Taking a job with the Children's Hospital Foundation meant saying goodbye to the people that were not just co-workers, but friends -- and the hardest "goodbye" was with my sis. She definitely pulled a few tears from me with her photo collage on Instagram.


What good sports! Everyone donned a bow (or in Joe's case, an ascot) during my going away lunch. Yes, those bows were made of plastic tablecloths. Long story. 

Hello, New Workspace to Decorate!
I immediately took to decorating my new work digs. There is still more to do, but it definitely feels like home!

Hello, Target!
I've never been big on Halloween, but Target has made it pretty fun to wander the aisles the past two years. [Although, when is it ever NOT fun to wander around the good ol' Target?]

Hello, Great State Fair of Oklahoma!
Somehow during my last 8 years in Oklahoma, I missed the fact that there is a barnyard birthing center at the State Fair. You guys, I saw a baby pig literally be born - right there in front of my very eyes. It was really gross, and then really adorable when it started squealing! Oh, and that baby goat... be still my heart.

Hello, New Adventures!
Now that things have settled down a bit, and I'm finding my footing in my new job, I'm excited to come back to blogging and adventuring!

See you tomorrow!
xoxo, E