Weekend Runs & Bookworm Fun

Ingredients for a perfect weekend:

  • Running
  • Running with husband
  • Running with friends
  • Wine or Champagne
  • Books, reading, book club
  • BRUNCH

This past weekend involved all of the above… and I can’t wait to have another just like it.

Saturday, Mr. Speedy took me a nice long 13 mile run that has hilly trails sprinkled throughout.
This sounds very pleasant.
Even adventurous.
But it was actually quite dangerous.

This was all fine and dandy until we hit about mile 7, and were running aimlessly on a trail that clearly was a loop (WHICH MEANT WE WERE DOOMED FOREVER) and I began to panic that a) we would never escape the forest b) be forced to eat leaves and eventually c) die in each other’s sweaty arms.

As much as a death in each other’s sweaty arms would be romantic and somewhat epic, I was starving and really wanted a Panera Bread smoothie and it was my goal to get one. I complained to Mr. Speedy that we were lost, and probably going to be lost for hours, and that I was hungry and also had to go the bathroom. And forgot to brush my teeth.

He told me to stop being so dramatic and continued to drag me through the never-ending trail…. and we eventually re-surfaced to an open area that was familiar. Good thing he was with me.

Looking down at my watch, it was clear that we were actually only lost and running aimlessly for approximately 13 minutes. BUT- that is a long freaking time to be running around in uncharted territory that is thick with trees and rocks and creepy animal sounds.

My legs post-trail run. Little bit of mud. I have no idea how my socks stayed that clean???

My legs post-trail run. Little bit of mud. I have no idea how my socks stayed that clean???

The next day, I met two girls from book club to do a 10 mile run prior to our Brunch meeting.

I was VERY EXCITED for this run. Running with people for the first time is like a blind date, except you already know you like the person and want to spend time with them.

Ok- that is actually a weird reference and doesn’t make a lotta sense… but basically, I was EXCITED.

It was a blast running with these ladies. We chatted, enjoyed the weather, talked about everything from work, love, babies, periods, food, and just enjoyed our run. The one gal (I’ll call her Harley, because she just bought a Harley which makes her the coolest), ran 5 with us before going home to shower before the brunch. She was pretty funny because she sprinted off mid-run, let us catch up, and then was like ‘I regret that sprint.’ Ahhhh….. so different from running with Mr. Speedy!

The other girl (I shall call her Poly because she is getting her PhD in Political Science which is freakin’ amazing!), stuck it out for the full 10 and did awesome. I think she may have surprised herself with her overall run time. Poly is doing the Detroit marathon in October so I hope we can get some long runs in together! Makes it so much less painful.

Running with these girls makes you really cherish being able to share the sport. In some ways, running kind of allows you to open up and talk about things maybe you wouldn’t normally. It’s a raw sport and you are just yourself. Everyone is in the same boat, striding along one step at a time.

After running, it was time for book club brunch! Everyone brought something and it was delicious. We had a new member who made a blueberry-lemon-crazy-good-bread-cobbler. I strategically sat myself in front of it…. and Poly made HOMEMADE BAGELS.

HAVE YOU EVER HAD HOMEMADE BAGELS?

You have not eaten a bagel until you eat a homemade one. I told her that if I ever get really sick of something tragic happens, please just give me a bag of bagels. It’ll fill my heart and tummy with pure carb joy.

 

We discussed the books The Devil Wears Prada and Where We Belong (both very fun, summer reads).

I ate 4 bagels and 6 cookies.

The cookies were from my friend (I shall nickname her NY because she used to intern there). This Friday, NY and I, along with our friend Greek (that is her nickname because she is super-duper Greek) will be traveling to the Upper Peninsula for a girls’ getaway.

Here is the group:

SNL, Greek, and I.

NY, Greek, and I. This was at my bachelorette party- ignore my penis necklace.

We are touring the famous Pictured Rocks via kayak. NY is convinced this is dangerous – but it is not.

My co-worker recently did this and check out her picture:

Pictured Rocks!

Pictured Rocks!

How awesome does this look??? I plan to take many pictures and not tip my kayak over from pure excitement.

What is your favorite food at a brunch??? BAGELS. I SHALL EAT THEM ALL.

Sincerely,

Lily

Almost Married = Busy, Busy

Three weeks.

Three weeks is all the stands between me and my new life.
I will go from fiance to wife in a matter of seconds.
I will lose my current last name, and gain Mr. Speedy’s.
I will make a promise, an engagement, into a lifetime commitment.
I will be one part of a two part new family.

Serious vogue faces.

Serious vogue faces.

I have done quite a bit to prepare for March 28th, but I still have the following to scratch off my list:

  • Bikini Wax: To do or not to do? Frankly, I have been debating this for months and I still don’t know if I should take the plunge or not.
  • My wedding ring: Next week, I shall go to the jeweler and leave them with my engagement ring so they can make a band that perfectly matches. This is kind of important. Kind of need this done. I already have Mr. Speedy’s boxed up and ready to go.
  • Do not lose weight: When I get busy or stressed, I have a tendency to eat less and less. My dress is getting fitted  to my current bod. Mr. Speedy doesn’t want me any smaller and I don’t want the dress falling off of me. No weight losing is allowed.
  • Beauty regimen: My feet are SCALY LIKE A DRIED UP FISH. Seriously. I am trying really hard to put thick lotion on them every night. This is my main beauty regimen.
  • Coordinate deliveries, finalize reception layout, decor: Ugh…… I am trying not to think about this one too much.
  • Coordinate day of meals: I will be in a hotel suite with my ladies. We will probably be hungry. So far I have mimosas on my list of foods. I should probably work on this.
  • Prepare for visitors! I am just so excited for all the family and friends that are coming into town… I have to mentally prepare my heart and mind for all the visiting. I cannot wait. Mr. Speedy’s family will be here from NE, along with his dear Aunt and Uncle from TX, friends from Iowa, CA, IN, DC, WA, VA… all over. I am beyond excited to see everyone. It is like the best reunion ever.
  • Memorize my vows: If I can memorize the alphabet, I can memorize my vows…. right??? Every time I practice them, I start crying and my heart squeezes up like I am sprinting in a race. I need to learn how to say them c-a-l-m-l-y.
  • Hair Trial: I am doing this on Saturday! I already had one but it did not turn out…. so we are trying it again! If it doesn’t work, I’ll just wear this hat-
So chic.

So chic.

I am getting very curious about what guests are wearing to the wedding…. since it is 1920’s theme, I am sure (and hoping!) there will be lots of pearls, feathers, glitz, tuxes, top hats, and canes. It is also black tie optional, so very formal. I am really excited to see what people wear and how they accessorize. Our entire wedding party will have these 20’s accessories, so no one will be out of place — it’ll be such a roaring good time (so corny, I KNOW)!

In OTHER news, I got Achilles tendinitis about a month ago which really threw me off. Running kind of keeps me balanced and happy and sane and focused. But, I have been healing and biking (very different from running!). Biking is a good workout but it certainly makes one’s butt super sore! I am not sure how my marathon training will be once I start running more… but I am trying not to even think or stress about that at the moment. Marriage is my #1 thought and my marathon just might have to take a back seat for a while.

I have book club this weekend – we read the Divergent trilogy. Has anyone else read these books?? I am excited to get together with the club, eat some food, wine it up, and discuss what faction we would be in and how Tris and Tobias are probably not the greatest couple and should just break up and date other people.

I have a few blogs written… to make myself more visible the next few weeks! So bear with me, they are very wedding-related!

Sincerely,

Almost-Married-Lily

The Best Darn German Chocolate Cake

Although I am German, I have never really enjoyed German Chocolate cake.

Something about the texture of coconut shavings lumped into the frosting has always turned my taste buds away. I really am not too crazy about coconut and I generally like vanilla over chocolate.

HOWEVER- all of that has changed. AMEN.

When I hosted book club, I wanted to make a German Chocolate cake and my fellow book nerd (and the best baker friend a girl could have), pointed me to this recipe. She swore that is was the best and I am pretty sure it is. The recipe is from the famous NY Mangolia Bakery and Carrie Bradshaw would have swooned over it. If you were to bake this and give a piece to Mr. Big, he would have probably dumped Carrie and fled to you.

Whatever was leftover the next day, I took to my parents for dinner and I am suprpised my brother did not lick the platter clean.

Does that not look divine? Ist sew tasteeeey.

Does that not look divine? Ist sew tasteeeey.

Magnolia Bakery’s German Chocolate Cake

  • For the cake:
    4 oz. Baker’s German Sweet Chocolate, broken into squares
    1/2 cup of water
    2 cups all purpose flour
    1 1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/4 tsp salt
    4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
    1 cup butter, softened (two sticks)
    2 cups sugar
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1 cup buttermilk
  • For the frosting:
    1 1/2 cans evaporated milk
    6 egg yolks
    2 cups sugar
    1 cup butter, cut into small pieces
    2 tsps vanilla extract
    4 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
    2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Grease 3 (I ONLY USED TWO) 9 x 2 round cake pans, then line bottoms with wax paper (I DID NOT DO THIS)

3. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the chocolate with water, stirring to melt the chocolate and blend well. Set aside and let it cool.

This is the chocolate to use people. Do not eat it, you will be tempted to eat it.

This is the chocolate to use people. Do not eat it, you will be tempted to eat it.

4. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

5. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks together.

6. In a large bowl, on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

7. Add the egg yolks, beating until well combined.

Whip it up real good.

Whip it up real good.

8. Add the chocolate mixutre and vanilla extract.

9. Add the dry ingredients in, alternating with the buttermilk, beating after each addition, until smooth.

10. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed of an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold it into the batter.

11. Pour equally into cake pans and bake 25-30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. DO NOT OVER BAKE- it is very light and fluffy.

Directions for the frosting:

1. In a large saucepan, beat together evaporated milk and egg yolks.

2. Stir in sugr, butter, vanilla extract.

3. Stir over medium heat about 15-18 minutes or until thickened and bubbly and golden in color. Remove from eat.

4. Stir in coconut and pecans.

5. Transfare to a large bowl and cool until room temperature and of good spreading consistency (about 2 hours).

6. When cake is cooled, spread frosting between layers and over top. DONE AND EAT!

German Chocolate Cake!

German Chocolate Cake!

Baking this cake also gave me a perfect reason to use my pretty cake display stand that I got from my baker-book-friend from the shower. It pretty much was begging to be used ever since I unpacked it:

So pretty!

So pretty!

The spread from book club!

The spread from book club!

So….. how many people are fans of this type of cake? What is your favorite cake?

Mine is lemon! I love anything lemon-flavored.

Sincerely,

Lily

Three Major Confessions (okay, four)

I have three major confessions that I feel the need to spill out to you, and spread out in the open like cake batter.

1. I confess that I am experiencing the full-time wedding overload. For this reason, I apologize for the lack of posts… but March 28 seems to be creeping up quickly and I have much to do, much to create, much to prepare.

We got our beautiful handmade, one-of-a-kind, letterpress invitations and they were in my possession for a full THREE hours before we had to seal them up and mail them. I have had withdrawals but at least I get to keep the pretty boxes the artist placed them in. The woman who made these is pure talent and AMAZING, check her out here at Moving Beauty Studio.

Drool. They were SO pretty!

Drool. They were SO pretty!

I’ll do a post devoted to them eventually because they are way to beautiful and unique to skim over.

2. Confession: I love book club. So much, that I am looking forward to my wedding and book club…. and then more book club.  Like, if you gave me a choice to either go to book club or go meet the President or Brad Pitt, I would be like “Um… BOOK CLUB.”

I am so pumped for this club, we had an absolute blast at our first meeting (except I kicked two wine glasses in one step and destroyed them). I hosted and cooked up a storm.

My friend came over early and embossed gold napkins for us. OH YEAH.

My friend came over early and embossed gold napkins for us. OH YEAH.

German Chocolate Cake!

German Chocolate Cake!

We read the Book Thief which takes place in Nazi Germany… so the menu was all German-themed and book-themed (the Mom in the book always made pea soup, so I made some….. but no one really ate that because it is odd to serve pea soup with cake and wine and German pretzels).

3. I confess that I have not ran in almost two weeks.

This is horrible but I pretty much am not running in 10 degree weather. Michigan has been freezing. Some people run in this type of weather but I cannot bring myself to go outside for very long. I feel like I am inhaling ice every time I step outside. My butt and things are expanding (at least I feel like they are) and I am craving a good pavement pounding run. Please, Michigan, let’s get up to 25-35 degrees. My mind and body need it.

And an extra confession just because…

Mr. Speedy and I started dance lessons. Please pray for us because I have a knack for not letting him lead and he has a knack for taking bigger steps then mine (or maybe I am taking too small of steps???). Regardless, we are learning to communicate through our arms, pressure of hands, and hips. But-

ALL COUPLES SHOULD TAKE LESSONS.

Not only are you learning something new together and patience, it is really quite sexy. Pushing your palms together and keeping your hips aligned and holding each other close… well, my blood is pretty much pumping the entire time and I think I am blushing with every side-step and twirl.

Deco Couple!

Deco Couple!

Sincerly,

Lily

Reasons Why I love Barbara Kingsolver

I’ve been a reading mood lately. I mean more than usual, the kind you cannot ignore, the type of mood that sucks your inner being and constantly romps around in your head until you give in.

I think other people might call this a problem or obsession, but I’m stickin’ to my guns and calling it a mood.

I have been so much in a reading mood that I have skipped two runs this week so that I could shed my day clothes with lightning speedy, snuggle tightly up in my fleece robe, remove my dried-up contacts, replace my vision with my crooked-slightly-over-sized spectacles, and permanently sprawl my pale body on our comfy olive-green couch for the remainder of the evening, book in eager hand.

I even forgot to eat dinner because I was so heavily enthralled with the string of words I was absorbing. But, I feel full and satisfied. Reading can do that to you.

This all started last Friday, when I was flying home from CA, and this book jumped off the shelf of some random over-priced shop in the airport:

This book has been smugly hidden in my purse, so I can read at any and all free moments.

This book has been smugly hidden in my purse, so I can read at any and all free moments.

Immediately, I bought it. I had to have it. I ♥ B. Kingsolver.

Have you read her books?
Are you obsessed with her stories?
Do you sometimes wish you were like one of her characters?
Do you secretly want to visit her on her ranch?

She is such an earthy lookin' soul.

She is such an earthy lookin’ soul.

Other notable books by her:

  • The Posionwood Bible, Prodigal Summer (<– MY FAVORITE), Pigs in Heaven, Animal Dreams, The Bean Trees, The Lacuna, and many more.
LOOOOOOOOVE this book. I can't even explain.

LOOOOOOOOVE this book. I can’t even explain.

Here are the top 5 reasons why I love Barbara and think she is fantastic in every way possible:

1. Previously, she was a scientist with a degree in Biology. All of her books reflect this beautifully.

She knows her facts. She knows all about various environmental issues and insects and animals. Just read the opening pages of ‘Prodigal Summer’ and you can so easily imagine this long-legged rustic woman hiking around the forest alone. If you need a taste of nature, these books will give you a whole feast. Here is the opening (skip it if you don’t have time to read it….. but Brittany, I can totally see you as this character with your love for nature):

________________________________________________________________

“Her body moved with the frankness that comes from solitary habits. But solitude is only a human presumption. Every quiet step is thunder to beetle life underfoot; every choice is a world made new for the chosen. All secrets are witnessed.

If someone in this forest had been watching her—a man with a gun, for instance, hiding inside a copse of leafy beech trees—he would have noticed how quickly she moved up the path and how direly she scowled at the ground ahead of her feet. He would have judged her an angry woman on the trail of something hateful.

He would have been wrong. She was frustrated, it’s true, to be following tracks in the mud she couldn’t identify. She was used to being sure. But if she’d troubled to inspect her own mind on this humid, sunlit morning, she would have declared herself happy.

She loved the air after a hard rain, and the way a forest of dripping leaves fills itself with a sibilant percussion that empties your head of words. Her body was free to follow its own rules: a long-legged gait too fast for companionship, unself-conscious squats in the path where she needed to touch broken foliage, a braid of hair nearly as thick as her forearm falling over her shoulder to sweep the ground whenever she bent down. Her limbs rejoiced to be outdoors again, out of her tiny cabin whose log walls had grown furry and overbearing during the long spring rains. The frown was pure concentration, nothing more. Two years alone had given her a blind person’s indifference to the look on her own face.

All morning the animal trail had led her uphill, ascending the mountain, skirting a rhododendron slick, and now climbing into an old-growth forest whose steepness had spared it from ever being logged. But even here, where a good oak-hickory canopy sheltered the ridge top, last night’s rain had pounded through hard enough to obscure the tracks. She knew the animal’s size from the path it had left through the glossy undergrowth of mayapples, and that was enough to speed up her heart. It could be what she’d been looking for these two years and more. This lifetime. But to know for sure she needed details, especially the faint claw mark beyond the toe pad that distinguishes canid from feline. That would be the first thing to vanish in a hard rain, so it wasn’t going to appear to her now, however hard she looked. Now it would take more than tracks, and on this sweet, damp morning at the beginning of the world, that was fine with her. She could be a patient tracker. Eventually the animal would give itself away with a mound of scat (which might have dissolved in the rain, too) or something else, some sign particular to its species. A bear will leave claw marks on trees and even bite the bark sometimes, though this was no bear. It was the size of a German shepherd, but no house pet, either. The dog that had laid this trail, if dog it was, would have to be a wild and hungry one to be out in such a rain.

She found a spot where it had circled a chestnut stump, probably for scent marking. She studied the stump: an old giant, raggedly rotting its way backward into the ground since its death by ax or blight. Toadstools dotted the humus at its base, tiny ones, brilliant orange, with delicately ridged caps like open parasols. The downpour would have obliterated such fragile things; these must have popped up in the few hours since the rain stopped – after the animal was here, then. Inspired by its ammonia. She studied the ground for a long time, unconscious of the elegant length of her nose and chin in profile, unaware of her left hand moving near her face to disperse a cloud of gnats and push stray hair out of her eyes. She squatted, steadied herself by placing her fingertips in the moss at the foot of the stump, and pressed her face to the musky old wood. Inhaled.

“Cat,” she said softly, to nobody. Not what she’d hoped for, but a good surprise to find evidence of a territorial bobcat on this ridge. The mix of forests and wetlands in these mountains could be excellent core habitat for cats, but she knew they mostly kept to the limestone river cliffs along the Virginia-Kentucky border. And yet here one was. It explained the cries she’d heard two nights ago, icy shrieks in the rain, like a woman’s screaming. She’d been sure it was a bobcat but still lost sleep over it. No human could fail to be moved by such human-sounding anguish. Remembering it now gave her a shiver as she balanced her weight on her toes and pushed herself back upright to her feet.

And there he stood, looking straight at her. He was dressed in boots and camouflage and carried a pack larger than hers. His rifle was no joke—a thirty-thirty, it looked like. Surprise must have stormed all over her face before she thought to arrange it for human inspection. It happened, that she ran into hunters up here. But she always saw them first. This one had stolen her advantage—he’d seen inside her.”

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I took this two falls ago. Pretty nature.

I took this two falls ago. Pretty nature.

2. Lead Woman with real woman thoughts.

Maybe this is because the author is a woman, but I love it when any woman is portrayed accurately, with confidence, fears, and emotions. Kingsolver’s women are a delight to read about and you hope with them, wish for them, and grow to love them. And you can picture them exactly as she describes them.

3. Sex, Romance, and Lust.

Everyone loves a little love.

The look of true loves.

The look of true loves.

Her books have just enough of this to keep you turning each page and wondering when and where things will happen. Sometimes it is outside, in the rain, where sparks fly between characters. Sometimes it is in the most wrong and mundane area, like a dried-up crop with miles of nothingness.

Rain is romantic.

Rain is romantic.

4. Katrina Kittle loves her.

K. Kittle (<– link to her website) is one of my other favorite authors. I MET her and took a WRITING workshop WITH HER. She actually read what I wrote and listened, taught, and laughed with me. Basically, it was the best thing ever. But she loves Kingsolver, so therefore, I love her too.

She also is very pretty and down-to-earth. I would start with her The Blessings of the Animals… which will make you want to buy a horse or two.

The perfect pets?

The perfect pets?

5. Her books make you think.

Whenever I read a Kingsolver book, I always have to take time each read and think about what I just read and relate it to my own experiences, relationships, and life. It is like I have to take time to digest it all. I find myself reading sentences over and over or replaying scenes in my head. Her books are the kind that hang around in your head and make you walk around in different parts of your brain, that have sat doormat for years.

Does that make sense?

It is a good kind of thinking, I promise. The kind of thinking that brings happiness to one’s daily routine and makes you crave life just a little bit more.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Man, I really need to start a book club. Seriously! I need to discuss this book, over wine and fine cheeses and bread.

Have you read any good books lately? Please share.

Sincerely,

Book-Worm Lily

Summer Reading

There is something completely delicious about reading in the summer.

I went to a bookstore on accident the other day. I say on accident, as in I had a hair appointment and then was meeting a girlfriend for dinner but had about 45 minutes to kill between the two and accidentally ended up in a store full of glorious books and a few of them jumped off the shelf, screaming to come home with me and be read.

And I accidentally bought them up, forgetting about the whole saving-for-a-wedding thing for just a moment.

This type of accident happens a lot to me… but it is the best kind of accident:

My current book list for the summer.

My current book list for the summer.

Summer reading, hands-down, is the BEST.

I think it might be because in the summer you can read outside. It is more relaxing. You can enjoy the weather and a cool drink and just get completely lost in words.

I like to layout, drink in hand, and read away while working on my non-existent tan:

Laying out on my deck.

Laying out on my deck.

Or I enjoy reading on the patio-
and pretend to flip through a magazine…
while my stallion of a man prepares the grill:

I wasn't really reading here... I was stalking his back and butt with my eyes.

I wasn’t really reading here… I was stalking his back and butt with my eyes.

If you asked me the title of that magazine, I honestly could not tell you.

But if you asked me how many dimples and dips are in Mr. Speedy’s sculpted shoulders and back- I could tell you.

I also love reading the Sunday paper with coffee:

I love LOVE the house section. I do not know why, but I love reading about homes, interior design, and decor.

I love LOVE the house section. I do not know why, but I love reading about homes, interior design, and decor.

I also love reading the ‘help’ section where people write in, saying ‘My life is horrible. I have over-active sweat glands and I am fighting with my father and want to run away and I don’t know what to do career wise.’ And then the wise lady writes back, basically saying ‘TOUGH SHITOCKI. EVERYONE SWEATS. STOP FIGHTING AND GET A JOB.’

I love the advice column. I feel like that would be a fun job, giving out wisdom from the safety of a press.

But, I digress. I love summer reading.

And I want to desperately start a book club. Anyone want to join my club of one?

I will serve snacks and wine and we can debate over character development and plot. FUN X 09287029754. Think Jane Austen Book Club minus the messy relationships and only Jane Austen.

Sincerely,

I-Want-To-Make-A-Book-Club