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London Day 1

Thursday, December 29, 2011

We arrived at Heathrow about 7 am local time this morning. 2 hours later we made it through customs to find that our hotel transport driver left 5 minutes earlier because they only wait 90 minutes unless you call (a fact not noted on our itinerary). Nor will they return for you. I'm afraid I was somewhat rude by that point.

All was well though, we navigated the underground and found or way to the hotel, checked in and I promptly took a nap while my daughter showered & did her hair...and then fell asleep herself.

We did get up in time to have an early dinner (Subway, we came all this way and she chooses Subway!), purchased tickets for Saturday's matinee of Wicked at the Apollo Victoria theatre, and then went to Cadogan Hall to hear our high school concert band's performance, even though my son is not able to be here with us. There were 3 other groups playing there as well.

Tomorrow I think we will do the hop on/off bus tour and see what interests us. Saturday is Picadilly Market and Wicked, Sunday is the parade, and either Monday or Wednesday we will go to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Oxford.

My daughter is in charge of pictures but there are limits on downloading/uploading here in the hotel so I can't post anything.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MCJULIEO 12/30/2011 12:32PM

    Ooooooo! Stonehenge!

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DOODIE59 12/30/2011 10:30AM

    Have a blast -- what an adventure:)

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FITNFUNJEN 12/30/2011 2:15AM

    Enjoy! I fell in love with London when I spent 2 weeks there in 2010. Can't wait to go back!

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HOPEFULHIPPO 12/30/2011 12:20AM

    oooooooooooh! I wanna go someday! Have a great time with your daughter and thanks for stopping by to keep us Sparkies in the loop!!


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AIRPEACH 12/29/2011 9:37PM

    Sounds like you're having a lovely time! :)

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ANJAYS-JOURNEY 12/29/2011 7:19PM

    Have fun and take lots of pics,

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CBAILEYC 12/29/2011 7:14PM

    I loved London when I was fortunate enough to visit waaaay back when I was 16. I can only imagine how much more awesome it must be as an adult. Enjoy to the fullest!

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GETSTRONGRRR 12/29/2011 6:53PM

    Congrats on your arrival...enjoy it...stay away from greasy fish & chips!

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FANCY-PANTS 12/29/2011 6:06PM

    Oooooh! What fun!

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BEELALA93 12/29/2011 5:46PM

    Sounds amazing! I love London. Trafalgar Square is great and if you fancy a bit of browsing/inexpensive shopping, Camden is amazing!

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JUST_BREATHE08 12/29/2011 5:33PM

    emoticonSounds so Wonderful. Enjoy!!

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ADAGIO_CON_BRIO 12/29/2011 5:23PM

    I love London! If you have any time, Westminster Abbey and/or St. Paul's Cathedral are spectacular.

Have a great time.

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A Burpee Christmas

Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Burpee seed catalog came in the mail today, completely unexpectedly. I was so excited I read it over lunch.

Yes, I am a little to the left of normal lol.

A few weeks ago on one of my teams DOGSTARDADDY asked if we planned out our gardens or if we would just wing it. I almost fell off my chair from laughing so hard.

Wing it? Me?

I have spreadsheets for each year of gardening, from 2006. They are in color and to scale. There is clip art and conditional formatting. My 2012 garden was already roughly laid out before my 2011 garden was finished being planned. And did I mention my colorful, to scale spreadsheets?

I still have 5 months before I can start planting again and I'm already making my seed list and finalizing my garden plan. Can't wait for spring to arrive (and winter has only just begun).

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LITTLEFARMMOMMA 12/26/2011 11:24PM

    Wow, this sounds like my husband! He is such a gardener and is always reading his seed catalogs! emoticon

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MIQUEY73 12/25/2011 9:00PM

    I got mine too! I have got to see your spreadsheets! I wish I had all that documented!

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ROCHELLE62 12/25/2011 10:35AM

    I got my catalog too; I had the opposite reaction. I had been Christmas shopping and seen displays for Valentines day, and then a seed catalog this early just kind of had me shaking my head. I would assume many seeds get started by Presidents Day, so I'm sure it isn't too early, I just know I wasn't ready for it.

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AIRPEACH 12/25/2011 9:57AM

    Wow, you are so organized! Back when I had a house, I never managed to get any beds in, so I was still a container gardener for edible stuff. The roses, on the other hand, I did pretty well with.

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DELERIOUS64 12/25/2011 6:53AM

    I would LOVE to see those spreadsheets!!! I usually buy my seeds as soon as they come out when the ground is still frozen... What kinds of different seeds do you order??

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KAREN42BOYS 12/24/2011 11:16PM

    Blog more on this please. We just had our first garden, so we are still quite new at this!

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DOODIE59 12/24/2011 8:56PM

    WOW. A gardener after my mother's heart:) Nothing like a catalogue to get the heart pumping hard, though MY catalogues contain apparel and accessories. To each his own;)

Have a wonderful Christmas, may all your seeds be fertile, and your garden in perfect harmony.
Deirdre emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Making my list & checking it twice

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Today will be my last shopping run before Christmas and our trip, to get the last few things for dinner tomorrow and for the time we will be gone. For the trip we just need umbrellas and the pets need food & litter for the time we are gone.

For dinner tomorrow I think I have almost everything I need, but I need to take a last look at the recipes to make sure.

My daughter wanted a "normal" meal instead of something exotic this time - past holiday meals have included alligator, crawfish, ostrich, elk, bison - so I ordered a seasoned beef roast from the local Amish market and picked it up yesterday.

We will also have herb roasted baby potatoes (white & purple because "normalcy" comes hard lol!), jambalaya with crawfish, several varieties of pierogi, white cornmeal casserole, homemade banana cream pie, pumpkin cranberry bread and pomegranate coconut rice pudding made with black rice.

So as far as heritage goes I have English, Cajun, Polish and Hillbilly covered (although strictly speaking there is no Cajun in our background). I wonder if any of these can do double duty to cover the German & Ukrainian so we have full representation?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MCJULIEO 12/24/2011 9:26PM

    I have a great recipe for crawfish etouffee that I've had many successes with...(I spent my formative years in south Louisiana)

My lowfat roux makes an OK substitute for the real thing...

Sounds like you're in for a treat! (lots of treats!)

Comment edited on: 12/24/2011 9:27:43 PM

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CANDOK1260 12/24/2011 2:52PM

    boy can i come over for dinner we having turkey, ham and fish for christmass and christmass eve we have perogies and polsih sasuages and jeswich mushrom soup

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KAREN42BOYS 12/24/2011 11:10AM

    Sounds fabulous, enjoy your festivities. :)

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FUSCHIA6 12/24/2011 10:39AM


At my house, it's turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy,cranberries & turnips. One time I planned to make "double mashed" potatoes & there was a big hew & cry from the family. My mom insisted that I make her some "regular" mashed potatoes anyway.

Still, it will be fun. Merry Christmas to you & your family!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MAJTMS 12/24/2011 10:25AM

    Wow, I feel like such a slacker! I show up at my sister's house with a bottle of wine and call it good! But I do the dishes after the feast, so I am not completely useless on the holidays. I hope you have a wonderful holiday feast.

Merry Christmas and all that stuff,

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SBNORMAL 12/24/2011 10:25AM

  Sounds like an interesting meal.

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CODEMAULER 12/24/2011 10:10AM

    If you can work in some sauerkraut...

Just kidding; everything sounds yummy, what time should I be there for helping you eat?!


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The agony of defeet

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nope, that wasn't a typo. My feet have been hurting for more than a month. I though maybe it was my running shoes needing to be replaced but they still hurt after I got the new shoes.

My specific pain is the ball of the foot. The other times my feet have hurt like this were when I was overweight...when I was pregnant I went to the foot doctor and that is what he said it boiled down to. Lose weight = no more foot pain. He was right, it did go away.

Until I started gaining weight again a few years ago. Once I hit about 175 the pain came back and the more I gained the worse it got. Then this year as I started losing the pain started diminishing and disappeared for awhile.

Now it is back and it can't be weight related. Well, I guess it could be but I'm in big trouble then because there is not much more left to lose before I become underweight and I have no intention of going there.

I've mentioned before that I have some pretty ugly feet. They are flat and wide and have been unfavorably compared to Fred Flintstone. I have hammertoes (much better after surgery but still obvious) and chronic ingrown nails. Sorry for the TMI, I should have warned you it was coming. So my feet are not the narrow dainty painted toenail ones you see in shoe ads. I actually wear a men's running shoe for the width and depth in the toe box as women's shoes tend to be too narrow side to side & top to bottom...but I also sacrifice some support.

So I went to the running store and asked what they would recommend for me, being flat-footed, which turned out to be a ridiculously expensive orthotics insert. The kind of expensive where they don't put the price on the box so you have to ask...and if you have to ask you can't afford it anyway LOL. Well, at least it was riduculousy expensive for a shoe insert, IMHO; Dr. Scholl's it isn't.

They've been sitting on the counter for over a week. Yesterday I finally put them in my shoes.

OMG, what a difference! No more ball of foot pain when walking or standing! I traded them into my running shoes last night and no pain when running! Couldn't wear them for yoga and the pain came back, and I won't be able to put them into my work shoes so I will have to get some basic arch support inserts for them. But for the next 3 weeks at least my feet will be pain free when I'm wearing my walking/running shoes for the most part (no work) which, I hope, will be enough of a break to lessen or eliminate the pain for when I'm not wearing them.

Definitely worth every penny!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EMMANYC 12/24/2011 1:23PM

    Those orthotics might seem expensive, but they will extend the life of your expensive running shoes, so in the end you'll save money. I'm glad you've got happy feet again.

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CODEMAULER 12/22/2011 11:02PM

    Sore feet = no fun; glad you have that worked out!!

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BUTEAFULL 12/22/2011 8:30PM

    emoticonone problem solved at least, if you still have a recurrence though, I'd check back with the dr again and say it can't be wt related what's up doc?

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    My new shoes from the New Balance store have made all the difference in the world for me, too! I guess I'm just going to have to pay for high dollar shoes for my feet, but that beats doctor's appointments! I am so glad that you have found relief! I will be away from Spark pretty much, for the next week or so, so just in case we don't connect again, I want to wish you a wonderful, joyful Christmas ever!

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GETSTRONGRRR 12/22/2011 4:45PM

    Great may want to get a few pairs.

Have you looked into the minimalist shoes at all? I've had people swear by the five fingers made by Vibram.....much less stress on the foot after you get used to the change of gait

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HOPEFULHIPPO 12/22/2011 4:25PM

    awesome! for a second there I thought maybe "Plantar fac-somethingorother"

glad you foudn relief!!!

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INIT2LIVEIT 12/22/2011 4:00PM

    Any chance you can get your sneaks in a black color sot hat you can wear them also for work? I know that people do that over here

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MCJULIEO 12/22/2011 11:17AM

    So glad that they worked for you!

Spenco makes an insert that is sold at Academy that can give arch support (I have a very high arch), and I think it's not quite so expensive as what the podiatrist sells...

Dr. Scholl sells an insert at Walmart that is connected to these cute little foot kiosks that measure your feet electronically
ncedRenderContent.aspx?id=78152, "Custom" orthotics (about $50) but Walmart sometimes has coupons!

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MICHIGANLORI 12/22/2011 11:15AM

    Yea, I have the same ball of the foot pain issues. It comes and goes. I also wear expensive orthotics. What I find that helps it massaging my feet with tennis ball. I put weight on the tennis ball and roll it up and down. Then I put pressure and hold it on achy spots. I do this daily and it helps. There are times I can feel a pop in my foot like something is being released.

You know you can take a couple days off of exercising...this may help you and my team. You emoticon are on the tail of my emoticon team.


Comment edited on: 12/22/2011 11:17:57 AM

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KKINNEA 12/22/2011 10:27AM

    Wonderful, glad to hear the inserts are helping!

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DOODIE59 12/22/2011 9:25AM

    That's great news:) What a relief!
Have a great Christmas --

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DREAMINGTHIN09 12/22/2011 9:24AM

    Hmmm I have shooting pain on the ball of my right foot (only right foot, below the big toe) but I don't have flat feet... how weird. I'm glad you managed to fix yours though!

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SAHARASUE 12/22/2011 8:55AM

    Glad you're getting some relief with the inserts. What brand are they? I have a neuroma in one foot and get lots of toe and ball of foot pain. I got a cortisone shot earlier this year and it helped but now the pain is coming back so I guess it's time for a visit to the podiatrist. I've never thought of buying men's shoes. Think I'll give that a try. Thanks!

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LRK4CHRIST 12/22/2011 8:07AM

    Wow! Thx for sharing!

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Well Jingle my Bells part 2, tortoise or hare?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Last week's Jingle Bell Run I set a PR of 27:15 for a 5k. Today was another local Jingle Bell Run and I wanted to see if I could get under 27 minutes, which was last week's goal.

I had my new lined base layer (very soft and warm), my mid-layer pullover and the bright red Christmas-y race t-shirt, two pairs of running tights (full length and a Capri) and a pair of red and white striped knee socks with faux fur trim, red gloves "top" it red & white striped elf hat with lights and a large bell, that sings and moves to the song Candy Cane Twist (aka Peppermint Twist). And last weeks jingle bells tied to my shoe.

Hey, ya gotta have fun with these things.

I was ready to go and get a new PR.


Yesterday afternoon it started snowing little, which melted as soon as it hit the ground. Then afternoon turned to evening, it got colder, the wet pavement froze and the snow stuck. Hardly a dusting, but the damage was done.

It was slippery. Not a major hazard but enough that you could feel your shoes slipping a little with every step. So a minute into the race I decided safety before glory and gave myself permission to go slower when and where needed to avoid slipping and getting hurt (I can break an ankle just walking through my front door so slipping is entirely probable for me).

End result...finished in 28:10, almost a full minute slower than last week. Even though I decided to do so I was still kind of bummed, I felt so slow.

And yes, I fully remember that not too many months ago a 28 minute 5k seemed like a complete pipe dream, not something I would ever do; I thought those people were so incredibly fast (and the even faster runners were probably cyborgs or something to be able to move that fast).

And now I'm one of them!

But I was still feeling slow and disappointed.

Here's some perspective though:

I came in 7th of 37 in my age 20% (if you're data obsessed like me that is the tip 18.9%)

One of the running coaches I worked with this summer was only one minute faster than me. Even though she is a distance runner, not speed, I am still mightily impressed with this fact.

There were 56 women in the 20-29 age group. If I compare my time to theirs I would have been 20% again (or 17.5%, I'm moving up!).

I placed 141 out of 381 overall, top 37%.

So I didn't really do too "bad"!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MS_DOLLY 12/19/2011 3:38PM

    Great job! Taking precautions over glory is a WISE move! You must include a picture of you in your running gear. It sounds like a "must see."

Keep it up and you will have the new PR real soon!

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AIRPEACH 12/19/2011 11:28AM

    Congratulations! I think you did famously well, especially under those conditions. emoticon

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MCJULIEO 12/19/2011 10:53AM

    If you hadn't chosen the wiser path we might've been reading a very different story...

"Ambulance carries off jingling runner: would have broken PR, but broke hip instead."

You don't want to be THAT guy...

Congrats on the slower, but smarter, race...

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LITTLEFARMMOMMA 12/19/2011 10:01AM

    "Too bad"???? You did FANTASTIC!!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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EUPHRATES 12/19/2011 4:35AM

    Dude - I can't get my 5K under 38 minutes yet (still working up to more running, less walking). 28:10 is FABULOUS!

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APIRLRAIN888 12/19/2011 1:12AM


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INIT2LIVEIT 12/18/2011 11:10PM

    Good job! but hey - can we get a pic of you in all your glory? Now that sounds like the purrrrfect Christmas card to send around....! emoticon

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DOODIE59 12/18/2011 7:13PM

    Good job!

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JENN03275 12/18/2011 6:59PM

    What an awesome job you did! Wish you had a picture in your gear. So very smart to let safety come before your own ego. That is very hard for many of when we are working on our PR.

Great job!!!

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CODEMAULER 12/18/2011 5:37PM

    I think it sounds like an awesome finish - WOOHOO!

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ALWYS-LKN-UP 12/18/2011 5:10PM

    I would've loved to see your outfit - it sounded so fun!! Congrats on doing a great job in such slick conditions!!

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LESLIESENIOR 12/18/2011 5:05PM

    Yikes, Congratulations!! What an accomplishment in the icy weather. I'm glad you could see the positive. You are a super runner in my eyes. I started running 1 1/2 years ago. I'll be 60 next year and anything under 30 minutes seems like a pipe dream for me. So you are a SUPER STAR!!!

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EMMANYC 12/18/2011 5:02PM

    Never mind "not too bad". You were awesome! Congratulations on your performance, and it sounds like you had a lot of fun, too.

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KAREN42BOYS 12/18/2011 5:02PM

    AhROOOO, you sound plenty fast and fearless to me!

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