Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bonne Maman S'il Vous Plait

For the most part, I'm a simple girl with simple tastes. I enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich almost every single day at work. Isn't that so boring? But I'm actually a huge snob when it comes to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The ingredients must be of the finest quality. We're talking two hefty slices of top quality wheat bread, Bonne Mamman preserves (ideally rasberry or strawberry), and only natural peanut butter. My current selection is Smucker's Natural Chunky Peanut Butter. Definitely chunky.

My favorite part of the sandwich is the Bonne Mamman preserves. I learned about this French import from a college roommate senior year who had studied in Paris her junior year. The taste is phenomenal, and I knew I would never go back to Smucker's or other lower quality spreads. So yes, I will spend top dollar ($3.50-4) for my little glass jar of heaven. Apparently, Bonne Mamam is the #1 imported line of preserves and jellies in the U.S. and its name means "grandmother" in French. This, of course, means that it is as close as you can get to homemade. There are over 20 flavors of preserves, jellies, marmalades and compotes to choose from. If you haven't tried it, you must. You may never go back.

And can I just spend a moment touting the nutritional value of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Hello carbs, fruit, and protein. What more could you ask for in a meal? Such a solid selection. Mom would be so proud.

And the cost savings? My best cost estimate is that each sandwich costs $1.25 or less. We've got the $4 preserves, a $3 loaf of bread, and a $3 jar of peanut butter. That's $10. And apparently a large loaf of wheat bread typically yields 16-5/8 inch slices, so 8 sandwiches, for a grand total of $1.25 a sandwich. But really, I think you can make the peanut butter and jelly stretch much further than that. Anyhow, PB & J is cheap, nutritious, and delicious. And you just can't argue with the facts.

Happy Halloween!

For the most part, I don't really get into the Halloween thing, at least not the dressing up part. I'm all about the candy, though. This year, for the first time, I'll have the opportunity to participate in the trick-or-treat festivities, and give out candy to all the little witches, goblins, princesses, and ghosts of the neighborhood! I'm very excited for that. These are the kind of things that I love most about living in a house, even though it's not my own. We have a real kitchen, a great yard and patio, and a phenomenal neighborhood (with trick-or-treaters on Halloween, I hope!). Karen picked up the candy during her Walgreen's stock shift this morning, so we should be all stocked for the little devils.

The office also very much gets into the Halloween spirit. We're having a potluck over the lunch hour to celebrate, and many are dressed up in great costumes today, even our director. So far, I've seen a cowboy, a spice girl, and an application file. I'm admittedly lame, but I do have the excuse of having to do a public presentation this afternoon. It just wouldn't be appropriate. Lame, lame, lame.

Last night I was thinking about Halloween, and it brought back memories of watching the HBO TV show Tales From the Crypt, with my grade school friend, April. We were obsessed with that show and watched it during sleepovers, which took place quite frequently growing up. Tales From the Crypt was a horror anthology series that ran from 1989 to 1996 on HBO that was based on stories from the 1950's EC Comics series of the same name. Does anyone else remember the TV series? And the cryptkeeper?? Wow, unexpected excitement. Might have to find a way to get my hands on some of those DVDs and revisit my childhood.

Red Beans and Rice with Extra Sausage

Apparently I did not get my fill of New Orleans cuisine this past weekend, as I felt the urge to go to New Orleans Take-Out on Monroe Street last night for dinner. For those of you who have been with me from the very beginning, you might remember that my very first posting, on Wednesday, May 16th, was a review of New Orleans Take-Out. I love it–so delicious, authentic, cheap, quaint, and unique. My dinner of choice, pictured above, is the red beans and rice with extra sausage, and a bonus slab of sweet cornbread, all for $3.85. Incredible! Delicious! Sometimes it pays to go out to dinner. If you haven't been to New Orleans Take-Out, you must get there soon!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


My brother's best friend, and current business associate, Ben, sent me a link for TasteBook, which he thought I might be interested in checking out since I so thoroughly enjoy cooking and baking. Before I provide more details, can I just say that I love Ben? He is so cool, so much cooler than my brother, actually :)

The concept of the TasteBook is pretty neat. For $34.95, you can create your very own personalized hard cover cookbook. Basically, you select 100 recipes from a database of over 25,000 recipes that have been featured in gourmet magazines such as Bon Appetite and Gourmet. Then a personalized cookbook, with your name on the cover (!), is created and sent to you. The service is offered by, which is one of my favorite online recipe sites. The Web site offers tried and true gourmet recipes that are tested and rated by chefs. Very cool. I also think this is a great gift idea for the quickly approaching holiday season!

UW-Madison's Class of 2011

Class of 2011? God, that makes me feel ancient. Thought some of you UW alums out there might be interested in reading today's press release from University Communications regarding the current freshman class.

UW-Madison's Class of 2011 Brings Talent, Diversity

"MADISON - The Class of 2011 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is an exceptional group of talented and diverse students, says Admissions Director Rob Seltzer.

The university received 24,870 freshman applications, the most in university history. Of those, 13,977 were admitted, and 5,996 students decided to enroll.

"We continue to see extremely high demand for spots in our freshman class," Seltzer says.

"Some people think we're trying to become more elitist," he adds. "But that's not the case. Quite simply, more and more students are applying for a finite number of slots."

For fall 2007, the total number of undergraduates is expected to remain roughly even at a projected 28,999, compared to 28,462 last year. Total enrollment is projected at 42,041, compared to 41,466 last year.

Among the freshman statistics, there are several notable achievements, Seltzer says. There is record-high representation of students of color. UW-Madison received 15 percent more applications from students of color, who make up 14 percent of the new class. This year's freshman class has 836 students of color, up 4.2 percent from last year and up 30 percent from five years ago.

In addition, 1,230, or 20.5 percent, are first-generation college students.
Also, numbers of international freshmen are rebounding. This year's class has 292, up from 109 in 2002, the year after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Other key characteristics of the incoming freshman class include:
- Academically, 60 percent ranked in the top tenth of their high school classes.
- Women make up 53.5 percent of the class, down from 53.9 percent last year.
- The average ACT score is 28.0, compared to 22.3 for the state and 21.2 for the nation.
- Sixty-four percent intend to take honors courses, and 55 percent plan to study abroad.
- Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois are the top feeder states, followed by New York, California, New Jersey and Massachusetts. The top Wisconsin feeder counties are Dane, Waukesha, Milwaukee, Brown, Outagamie and Ozaukee.
- Students come from all states except Arkansas, Idaho, Louisiana, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Seltzer says that the university continues to be held in high esteem by students and parents across the country.

"When we go to a college night, no matter where in the country we go, there are people standing in line to talk with us and get our materials. That is truly gratifying," he says. "We're talking about humans and their hopes and dreams."

For more information on UW-Madison admissions, visit

The Job Interview

Yesterday afternoon I had a job interview for a new position in the Office of Admissions. As is everything with the university, it has been a long, drawn out affair, and now I am one of three finalists for the position which will be titled Manager of Recruitment Outreach. I think the interview went well. It was nice to interview with a room full of familiar and smiling faces, all of whom are colleagues that I know very well. But, regardless, it was still super scary and stressful. After the interview, I felt as if a major weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I know that whatever happens now, at least I put my best foot forward. I prepared like all hell for the interview, and I think I did a good job of anticipating the questions they would ask. The last candidate will interview during the second week in November, so I likely won't hear anything until mid-November.

The position is a very exciting opportunity to lead our high-profile recruitment programs that impact literally every one of the university's recruitment goals. It's a natural progression of my current duties in our office, and an opportunity to move from a behind the scenes role to one of increased leadership, responsiblity, and visibility, and to really be the face and voice of our programs. That's a little scary to me, but I am very much ready for the next step and bigger challenges.

I'll let you know when I hear anything. Keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Weekend In New Orleans

Where do I even begin with updates? As you know, I spent the weekend in New Orleans with Royce to attend the wedding of one of his colleagues. Visiting New Orleans and the weekend’s experiences were interesting, to say the least. It was my first time in New Orleans and honestly, I was not overly impressed. While I did see and experience some very cool things, I found the city to be dirty and scuzzy and will be in no hurry to return.

My favorite parts of the weekend were enjoying fresh hot beignets and chickory coffee at Café Du Monde, and eating at a tiny café called Café Amelie, which had fantastic Creole food, refreshing cocktails, and a romantic outdoor courtyard setting. I was not impressed by the French Quarter, which was where we spent most of our time. It was nice to see, but it’s just not my scene. I would have liked to have explored other areas, like the garden district and its historic homes and Victorian mansions. And Tulane University. But there's only so much time in a weekend.

The wedding was beautiful. It was a traditional New Orleans wedding at an amazingly impressive downtown Catholic Church, and the reception was at our hotel from 3-7pm. Apparently it is custom in New Orleans to have the reception immediately following the wedding ceremony, and there is no formal sit-down meal, but instead dancing and appetizers for the duration. The 12-piece band was phenomenal. I had a lot of fun dancing. At the end of the reception, everyone participated in a “second line” march, which was sort of like a parade for the bride and groom in which everyone marched around waving handkerchiefs and umbrellas before the bride and groom headed off for a carriage ride around the city.

The weekend did end on a sad note, however. I ended things with Royce on Saturday night after realizing that we are just not a good fit. I’d like to save the details between the two of us, and just say that he is a great guy, and I know he will make someone very happy. I just don’t think that person is me. I hope we will be great friends because we do share many similar interests and I do think he is a lot of fun. It’s just sad to get online today and see that he had already updated his Facebook profile to “single” from being “in a relationship." The end happens so quickly and suddenly. But I think it’s best for both of us.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Last Installment of Door County Pics

This is the final installment of pictures from last weekend's adventure in Door County. Although we had head home on Sunday, we still had a great day and enjoyed more activities in Door County. We awoke early to go into town to get coffee, and then sat by the campfire while Royce read to me from the book I had bought him for his birthday--African Tales by Harold Scheub. The reason behind the birthday present was that Royce and I at one point discovered that we had the same "favorite class" in college. It was African Storyteller 210 with Harold Scheub. Harold Scheub is the most amazing, inspirational teacher ever, and his class at UW is phenomenal. But more on that later...

Anyhow, we enjoyed several of the stories before starting in on our pumpkin carving. Royce was pretty intense when it came to carving his pumpkin. He chose a challenging design and did great work. I was feeling lazy and picked a simpler pattern. I think we did great work. From there, we packed up camp and then headed out for a final adventure--the long climb up the look out tower in Peninsula State Park. The view from the tower was phenomenal and a great way to end our time in Door County. That night, when we arrived back in Madison, we enjoyed dinner with Royce's parents at their house. They are lovely and it has been great to get to know them better. And that was my weekend!

Now I am getting ready to leave tomorrow for New Orleans. Royce has a friend's wedding to attend there, and I am his going as his date :) I'll also be exploring New Orleans for the very first time! So much to do, so much to do, before I leave. I'll be away from the computer tomorrow and Friday, but back with plenty of updates next week!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Saturday in Door County

Breakfast at the White Gull Inn--Door County cherry stuffed french toast.

Riding our rented tandem bike on the Sunset Trail. Royce, keep your hands on the bike!

Beautiful view of the lake.

EagleBluff Lighthouse

The bf.

Taking a seat at the amphitheater. My family used to come here for shows all the time when camping at Peninsula State Park (back when I was just a wee one). Ahh...such sweet memories. "This land is your land, this land is my land..."

Wine tasting at Orchard Country Winery and Cider Mill

Our Haunted Trolley Tour of Door County!


I am a bowling rock star--and never even knew! Look at the form! I totally dominated the 3-game series.

Cheers! And on to a late dinner at Mission Grill in Sister Bay.

Here are pictures from our fun-filled Saturday in Door County. Seriously, the activity never stopped from the moment we awoke that morning. I think it's pretty obvious from the pictures above that both Royce and I share a very similar zest for life!

Door County Weekend

Road trippin'

Mmm....Haacker Pschorr Oktoberfest. How appropriate.

Lunch at Kurtz's--Royce was so excited to find a hole-in-the-wall bar and grill in one of the small towns we passed through! And I was so excited that it was named Kurtz's!

Stopping for a picture at a rest stop along the road.

Picking up pumpkins and fire wood in Egg Harbor.

Drinking a beer and enjoying the view near our campsite.

Royce setting up camp

This past weekend Royce and I drove up to Door County for a relaxing weekend in the great outdoors. We camped at Peninsula State Park, where we both have very fond childhood memories of camping with our families. We were lucky to hit the peak of the fall colors and unseasonably warm temperatures, which made for a comfortable tenting experience. It was a great weekend, jam packed with fun and activity. We truly lived up each and every moment and were sad to come back to reality on Sunday.

The pictures above are from the first day of our three-day adventure. Mostly, from our road trip and setting up camp. Many more pictures on the way...

Fondue Pots

So if you don't already have a fondue pot, you should definitely invest in one for the approaching fondue season. I purchased mine a few years ago from Bed Bath and Beyond after enjoying a great fondue party at my friend Jill's house. I think I paid somewhere between $30-$50 for my set. I use it several times a year and it's held up very well.

While I couldn't find my fondue pot online, I did find a close match. The one pictured above is the Swissmar Arosa 11-piece Stainless Steel Fondue Set. It retails for $69.99 at Bed Bath and Beyond. I've found that the key to a good fondue set is one that has both a stainless steel pot and a ceramic insert. You definitely need both. That way you can do meat, cheese, and chocolate fondue. The ceramic insert acts as a double boiler for heating the cheese and chocolate. Without it, the chocolate and cheese would burn in the pot.

You need a fondue set. Trust me on this. Go out and treat yourself now, or put it on your Christmas list. You won't be sorry.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I Heart Fondue

Ah...yes, I love fondue. Throughout the cooler months, it is my favorite meal to prepare for friends. There are so many variations of cheese, meat, and chocolate fondues. I look forward to these lengthy meals of good dipping, great eats, and fantastic conversation with friends over the fondue pot. Last Thursday night, I made my first fondue meal of the season. I opted for a beef/pork fondue with three different dipping sauces. The curry sauce was awesome!

Beef Marinade:
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 pounds beef tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes

Curry Sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Mustard Sauce:
1/4 cup mayonaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 garlic clove, minced

Onion-Horseradish Sauce:
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons water
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1. In a large resealable bag, combine the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and garlic; add meat. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 4 hours, turning occasionally.
2. Meanwhile, in three seperate bowls, combine the curry sauce, mustard sauce and onion-horseradish sauce ingredients.
3. Drain and discard marinade. Pat meat dry with paper towels. Heat 2-3 cups oil in fondue pot at 375 degrees. Use fondue forks to cook meat in oil until it reaches desired doneness. Serve with the sauces.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Plans Tonight?

If you're not busy tonight, check out the following event at Brink Lounge (701 East Washington Avenue). Unfortunately, I cannot attend, but my friend Jill assures me it will still be a rocking good time :)

My Music: The Best of the URBAN THEATER
CD Release Party

Thursday, October 18th
The Bring Lounge
$10 admission

Includes: Tola wine sampling, hors d'oeurves, and a copy of My Music: The Best of the Urban Theater

Live Performances by Mike Massey and Bascom Hill

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Greetings From Sin City

Speaking of my parents, my mom has been blogging like a madwoman in recent days. She started blogging shortly after I did, but I've seen a significant spike in her blogging activity over the last week. Probably because she's having too much damn fun.

My parents recently moved back to Henderson (right outside of Las Vegas) for the season, and it seems like they're always up to something fun and exciting. My mom always makes such a big production of leaving Wisconsin in September, and I feel so sorry for her, but then a week later she seems to be having the time of her life, soaking up sunny skies, desert life, and frequent nights out on the town. In the past, her blog was primarily focused on new recipes and restaurant reviews, but the breadth of topics has expanded recently. Check it out. The blog is appropriately named "timandjack" at Ain't that cute?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Putting the Rock Back In Rockford

Last Thursday, I was driving to a college fair in Chicago and decided to make a quick pit stop in Rockford, which is where I spent most of my formative years, for a much needed oil change (and Beef, of course). While I waited for my oil to be changed, I purused the local newspapers that had been carefuly arranged on a coffee table in the waiting area. Immediately, I was taken to a headline in the Rock River Times, entitled "Rock Capital coming to Rockford."

Yes, it's true, folks. Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, the 1970's rock band from Rockford that came to notoriety with hits like "I Want You to Want Me", "Surrender", and "Dream Police", recently announced plans to break ground as early as November on a $25 million rock 'n' roll themed multiplex, which is slated to include a museum to showcase Nielsen's hundreds of guitars, as well as a restaurant, conference center, and Hyatt Place hotel with nearly 130 rooms. The planned location is at Riverside Boulevard and I-90. Nielsen was quoted in the article as exclaiming, "In the not-too-distant future, Rockford will be known as the newest Rock capital in the universe!" And perhaps unfortunately, Nielsen doesn't stop there. He further pledges that, "We're gonna put more than just 'Rock' back in 'Rockford.'" All I have to say is goodluck, man.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

As promised, here is my recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. I found this recipe at and it has definitely been one of my favorites. I can't wait until fall rolls around to start making these tasty treats! They definitely taste best when served cold, straight from the freezer or refrigerator.

1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, and egg. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt. Dissolve the baking soda with the milk and stir in. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
2. Add vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts.
3. Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 10 minutes or until lightly brown and firm.

Pumpkin Bread

Today is fall recipe day! I will be sharing my favorite recipes for both pumpkin bread and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. We'll start with the newest addition to my recipe collection--pumpkin bread, compliments of Emily Schmidt's mother (Mrs. Soehnlein).

4 eggs, beaten
3 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin
1 cup salad oil
2/3 cup water
3 1/2 cups sifted flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp soda
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

Beat together the eggs, sugar, pumpkin, oil, and water. Then add the flour, baking powder, soda, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Grease and flour three medium sized bread pans. Bake at 325 degrees for about one hour.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Fall's Favorite Treats

Sometimes when you're feeling a little down under the weather (like I am today), you need to treat yourself with the small stuff. The following five fall treats are guaranteed to put a little smile on your face and perhaps an extra bounce in your step. Enjoy!

1. Einstein's pumpkin bagel with pumpkin "shmear"- you've heard me tout this fall classic before. 'Nough said.

2. Starbuck's Carmel Apple Spice - worked for me today. Smooth and sweet.

3. Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies - I will share this very top secret recipe on Monday. Karen and I can't keep enough of these things stocked in our freezer. Yes, you read correctly, you store them in the freezer after baking and eat them cold. It's the secret touch.

4. Emily's pumpkin bread - My friend Emily brough over the most amazing pumpkin bread the other day. I haven't stopped eating it since. I requested the recipe from Emily, which she generously shared. I'll post it on Monday.

5. Blue Moon's seasonal pumpkin ale - This beer claims to be pumpkin flavored, but I simply cannot taste it. Despite its non-pumpkin taste, it is pumpkin colored, and you can't beat a name like Harvest Moon.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bo Ryan Does the Hambone

Bo Knows Motown

I completely forgot to mention that I had the opportunity to hear Bo Ryan, head coach of the Wisconsin Men's Basketball Team, speak at a small gathering on Monday night.

As some of you know, I co-manage the campus visit program at UW-Madison, and thus co-supervise the student tour guide corps. On Monday night, we had a staff meeting and Bo was our surprise guest speaker. To talk about teamwork and such. The tour guides were thrilled!

Bo was hilarious. Just so intense and full of energy. So damn funny. And he could just talk and talk and talk and talk. I recieved an overview of his entire life story in just under forty-five minutes. I now know so much about the man. Like how he was born in the "projects" of Chester, Pennesylvania, and as the only white boy on his highschool's basketball team, came to know every word of every Motown classic. Want to know the six cd's that are currently in Bo's cd changer? Because I now know this, too. There's WAR, Outkast, Prince, Fugees, Annie Lennox, and I seriously cannot remember the sixth. But it will come to me eventually. So anyways, the man definitely knows music.

I might also point out that Bo can do the Hambone, which is a rhythmic knee and chest slapping motion that was originally an African-American plantation dance, brought from West Africa by slaves who performed it during their gatherings when no rhythm instruments were allowed. Bo did a short performance for us on Monday night. He's quite talented.

I also loved when he talked about his wife. He described their relationship in terms of basketball playoffs, with him as the 16th seeded team, and his wife as the 2nd seed. He described how he just felt so damn lucky to have snagged her. His whole face just lit up when he talked about her. It was pretty touching.

So I really loved Bo. He is great--upbeat, genuine, and a true campus leader and teacher. And what a nice person to take time from his obviously insane schedule to talk to forty campus tour guides about teamwork. I'm his new biggest fan.

Holiday Mint M&M's

There are significant benefits that come from having a roommate who works the 5 a.m. stock shift at Walgreens once a week. I am probably one of the first people in the world to have a bag of the holiday mint chocolate M&M's, my all-time favorite candy, which is typically only available November through early January of each year. I don't want to brag, but I have a bag in early October.

There is simply no other candy more delicious and addicting than holiday mint M&M's. Throughout the winter months, I can rarely be found without a bag stashed on me, or in my purse. I seriously stockpile them at home to get me through the winter. I can regularly eat half of a bag in one sitting. Seriously, ask Karen. My obsession with these small chocolate candies is the reason why I must continue running throughout the winter months so as not to pack on the pounds with chocolate.

You will be excited to know that this year's candy is bigger and better than ever. The M&M's are larger in size, like sort of in between the normal size and the peanut size, but without the peanut. And as always, they're the most delightful blend of minty goodness. Until they are available to the general public, I will enjoy many handfuls for each one of you. And don't worry, I'll let 'em melt in my mouth, not in my hands!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Rocket Science

Two weekends ago, I saw the movie Rocket Science at the Orpheum Theater in downtown Madison. Rocket Science is another one of the films that I had heard of at the Sundance Film Festival, but hadn't gotten the chance to catch there. My brother really, really wanted to see this film at the festival, but I don't think we were able to get tickets. And Kelly knows good film. He fashions himself quite the film aficionado. And for the most part he was right on with his picks at the Film Festival. But then again, so was I. But I suppose you can't go too wrong at Sundance.

Anyhow, I have been waiting patiently for the release of Rocket Science ever since last January. It's a great coming-of-age story about a boy with a stuttering problem who joins his high school debate team to try to win over the girl of his dreams, a fiercely determined beauty who is singularly focused on winning the New Jersey debate state championships, no matter what the cost. The film stars Reece Thompson as Hal Hefner, the awkward underclassman who reveals his unparalleled determination and heart. The film won the Dramatic Directing prize at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, and opened in limited release on August 10th. It was written and directed by Jeffrey Blitz, the director of Spellbound.

I loved this film. Although it was a little on the long side, I really enjoyed the characters and plot, and the symbolic ending. It was also fascinating to learn more about the subject of debate. I had no idea that they talked so fast. And I totally fell in love with Hal. He was so cute. I wanted him to succeed so badly. And in the end, I think he did.

Chicago Marathon

This past Sunday, I ran in the 30th annual LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon. The unseasonably warm temperatures hovered around ninety degrees most of the day, which obviously made for miserable race conditions. I'm sure many of you have read or seen media coverage over the last few days describing how the race was called around noon due to the dangerous temperatures. The media attention has primarily focused on this decision from the race directors, as well as allegations that there was not enough water available to runners on the course.

It was hot. Was it hot enough to call the race? Probably. When you have 45,000 runners, one of the biggest marathon fields in the world, there simply isn't enough medical attention to go around to all of the athletes who are suffering from various heat related conditions. The race directors had to save their asses to some extent. It is of course very sad, however, that so many people trained for a race that they were not allowed to finish. As for the allegations about a water shortage on the course, I didn't find this to be true at all. I thought there was more than enough water on the course, and so did other runners that I've talked to. But, obviously I cannot speak for the entire field.

It was definitely the toughest marathon I've ever run. And the slowest. Because of a combination of many factors I'm sure, I felt like crap the entire time. It probably wasn't the best decision to attempt a marathon only four weeks after having completed an Ironman triathlon, but I really wanted to finally run Chicago. The course and the spectators were amazing. Spectators lined the streets the entire course for a very Tour de France experience that made me feel like somewhat of a celebrity! Clearly I'm not, and they weren't all out there for me, but it did feel very cool.

My favorite part of the race was having Royce join me on his roller blades for the last eight or nine miles of the race. By mile 17, I was totally struggling, and wondering if I would make it. I was walking at that point, and that's when Royce came in and put a huge smile on my face. He clapped and cheered for me and everyone around me all they way to the finish line. He clapped so hard that his hands were hurting for the next two days. He was amazing. So were my other spectators, most notably Seif, KJ, Karen, and Anne. You guys ROCK!

I ended up finishing in 4:19. I think the race was officially called at noon, but people were still running in by the time I finished. I was in sight of the finish line, literally two minutes away, when an official looking volunteer announced that the race had been called and we could all start walking. It was very confusing, and I thought at first that it was a cruel joke. What do you mean I can just start walking?? I can see the finish line! We all just disregarded his comment and continued running in to the finish line. Apparently at that point, elsewhere on the course, they were pulling people off the course and making them take a bus to the finish line or walk the remainder of the race. My friend Beth was at mile 21 when they forced her to start walking. They literally starting yelling when anyone attempted to jog.

Great job to those who finished or even attempted to finish. It was a brutal day out there, and most of you know that just making it to the starting line is an amazing accomplishment and journey. And now, I'm looking forward to a much needed break from training before gearing up for April's Boston Marathon!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Chicago River Trip

This past Saturday was Royce's birthday. The Big 2-9. I always did like older men. Anyways, we celebrated on his boat with his parents and his friend, Ben. Despite the unseasonably warm temperatures, it was time to take the boat in for the season. This necessitated a trip down (or is it up?) the Chicago River to it's final place of rest during the colder months (R.I.P, Virago). The trip was a very cool experience, as each bridge needed to be lifted so we could pass through. It did take quite a while to pass through about two dozen bridges. Royce had heard it was a three hour journey, but it actually ended up taking more like eight or nine hours!

After about five hours on the boat, needing to get out of the sun and back to the suburbs were I was meeting Karen and her family for a pre-marathon pasta dinner, I hopped off the boat and walked back to my car near the Monroe harbor. I had a great day crusing on the river. The trip was so incredibly scenic just seeing Chicago from a different vantagepoint, and we had a really good time--except for when Royce fell and cracked his head open while bringing the sail down to the main cabin (the wound has since been stapled and all is good). It was nice to spend time with Royce on his birthday, and I love his parents. They are hilarious. I don't know why I was ever so nervous to meet them. I knew everything would be okay when just before I met them for dinner for the first time, Royce told me that his mom wanted him to tell me that she was sharpening her teeth. he he.