Where I’ve Been…

It’s been pretty quite around here lately.  That’s because I’m doing a ton of behind the blog work, and there are big things coming to Running In Chucks.  I’ve also been spending a lot of time unplugging on the weekends.  Here’s a small glimpse of what I’ve been up to lately.

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I took a trip to Cedar Point with friends.  We rode all of the roller coasters and barely waited in line.  It was awesome.

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Coffee and my Kindle on the lake.  I managed to ready 2.5 books over Memorial Day weekend.

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Maxwell chilling out on the boat.

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I saw The Cranberries in concert with my friend Val.

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I’ve been ramping up my bags skills lately.  I’m still pretty horrible, but I can sometimes actually score points now!

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I’ve been cooking more.  This is a cherry barley pudding (like rice pudding) I made.  It needs some tweaking before I share, but that’s a convenient excuse to make more.

 

April Foodie Penpals

After months of seeing Laura and other blog friends post the awesome treats they were getting and hearing them talk about the awesome people they met through Foodie Pen Pals, I decided to join up for the April round. I had considered participating a couple of months ago, but I missed the sign up deadline and it sort of fell off my radar for a bit. I am so glad I finally decided to go ahead and join!  I’m not sure which task I had more fun with: shopping for the box I sent to Elizabeth at Four and Twenty Blackberries or opening the box I received, tasting all my goodies and writing this post!

This month I was paired up with Leah, who doesn’t currently have a blog but is thinking of starting one soon with a friend. She asked me about my likes/ dislikes and what I’d like to receive. I told her I would really love desk friendly, healthy snacks, and oh boy, did the girl ever deliver!
My box o goodies contained granny smith Apple chips, dried fruit, ginger thins (swoon), cinnamon sugar pumpkin seeds, roasted edamame, some dark chocolate covered passion fruit jelly, and some Power Bar Energy cheese which she included because they’re her favorite running fuel. (I mentioned I was still looking for a running fuel I love.)
I was so interested in the cinnamon sugar pumpkin seeds I tore into the bag before even taking pictures. These little guys are SO.GOOD. They remind me of those cinnamon roasted almonds that they sell all over the place around the holidays. Surprisingly the bag did make it to my desk at work, but it didn’t survive very long.

I was also extremely excited by the Ginger Thins. I love ginger cookies, but Nik doesn’t so I rarely buy them. (Ya know, to avoid eating the whole package myself – like I did with this one.)
I was definitely a little leery of the passion fruit things, but I gave them a try, and they were pretty okay. I’m not sure I loved them enough to seek them out (like those pumpkin seeds…Leah, where did you get those anyway?!?) but I certainly didn’t spit them out.

Overall my first Foodie Pen Pals experience was an awesome one, and I am definitely looking forward to participating again next month. Are you interested in participating yourself? Check of the details below

-On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. Contact your penpal as soon as possible to get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies, dietary restrictions, and/ or preferences.
-Fill a box with $15 worth of fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats!  The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box to a fun recipe.
-Get your box in the mail no later than the 15th of the month.  (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes when you go to ship your items!)
-On the last day of the month, you post about the package you received from your penpal!
-Foodie Penpals is open to bloggers and blog readers in the US & Canada. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you will write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received.

For even more information, or if you’re interested in participating for May, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

You must submit your information by May 4th as pairings will be emailed on May 5th!

On Making Friends and Of Monsters and Men

Making friends is something that has always been a struggle for me.   I’m shy to begin with, and a history of lousy friends has created a lot of self-esteem and trust issues for me.  I tend to question people’s motives and whether they really want to be friend or if they’re just being polite.  I wonder about my “value” as a friend and whether or not I’m a “good” friend.  Over the years, I’ve dealt with most of my issues so they don’t usually interfere with my friendships, but they still make it harder for me to develop new friendships.  I find myself uncomfortable around strangers.  I think I’m terrible at small talk, and  I tend to feel really insecure when making new friends.

This is even true when it comes to making blog friends.  It’s not like I don’t have things to talk about, like we don’t have things in common, but  I have just as much trouble approaching people and engaging strangers in the blogophere as I do in the real world.  It’s not that I don’t want to make friends with my fellow bloggers; I just pretty much always feel like a creepy lame-ass emailing a blogger saying something like “Oh hi, I really like your blog; can we be friends?”  I know I shouldn’t worry about stuff like that, but sometimes insecurities get the best of me especially when there isn’t a face to face or immediate interaction involved.

I have a very close knit group of friend that I’ve been friends with since high school.  Over the years we’ve gone our separate ways and come back together in time.  To me these people are just as much family as they are friends.  I didn’t make many new friends in college.  When you combined my struggles to makes friends with the fact that I already had a great group of friends my logic became, I already have great friends so why do I need to make new ones.  While I was dating my ex, I sort of fall out with the group.  I was still invited to (and attended) the major events, but I was all but nonexistent in the day-to-day.  After my breakup with my ex and my breakup with my best friend shortly thereafter, I realized I truly needed to work on re-developing and nurturing these relationships as well as forming new ones.

Over the last two years, I’ve been working really hard to build new friendships and develop closer relationships with friends I already have.  One of my Mission 101 goals was to make a new friend.  I’ve been trying to put myself out there more, open up to old friends, and take risks that the “old me” might not have taken.

Last Friday my friend Val and I had our first one-on-one “friends date.”  Val and I have known each other and run in the same circles since high school, but we’ve never been particularly close.  (Heck, I thought she actively disliked me for many years!)  We’ve been getting closer and building a stronger friendship over the last year or so – bonding over things like  wine and getting healthier and not being pregnant.  I’ve helped peel price stickers off vases and make tiny gum paste leaves for her wedding.  A couple weeks ago she asked me if I would be interested in going to see Of Monsters and Men with her.  She had two tickets and no one to go with her.
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Of Monsters and Men is a new band (Their album just released in the US two days ago.)  I’d only heard one of their songs prior to the concert, but it sounded like fun so I said yes!  Truthfully, the me from two or three years ago probably would have turned her down.  Even though we’ve gotten closer over the last year, I don’t know that the “old me” would have been comfortable having one on one plans with her.

Before the concert we went and grabbed dinner at Cafe Babareeba.  I haven’t been there in years, and I had totally forgotten how much I love that restaurant.  We had spinach and manchego stuffed mushrooms, goat cheese baked in tomato sauce, roasted dates with bacon and apple vinaigrette, butternut squash and cheese toast with kale and apple salad, scallops, spaghetti squash and cranberry vinaigrette, and of course a pitchers of the white peach sangria.  Everything was delicious although we both decided the scallops left something to be desired.  I will definitely be making a return trip sooner rather than later! After dinner we walked the mile to the concert venue and arrived just after the opening band finished.  It was a short show (it’s a new band afterall), but it was fantastic.  I have absolutely fallen in love with the band, and I bought their CD (er, well, the mp3s since CDs are sooooo 90s) on Amazon on Tuesday.  I’d be listening to it non-stop if I’d bothered to replace my headphones after slamming them in my car door.
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Ultimately I had a great time, and I can’t wait for our next concert (Anyone remember Out Lady Peace?!) on Sunday.  It makes me so happy to be building friendships and putting myself out there more.  I still feel insecure sometimes, but ultimately, positive experiences only boost my confidence.