Vader lap

last week at next gen house

While I’m still gathering my thoughts and feels about the Pittsburgh Half this weekend, here’s what happened last week at Next Gen House.

But first, here’s Vader giving me shade for sitting in his spot on the couch. Can’t go wrong starting posts with photos of cats.

Vader lap

Last Week in Running

I ran two training runs and two races last week, for a total of 23.1 miles. That brings me up to a 2015 total thus far of over 337 miles. Which is kind of unbelievable for me because I didn’t run anything close to that for last year’s Pittsburgh Half and I also have never logged so many miles in a training cycle before, not even I don’t think, during full marathon training last year.

Recap coming this week, but it’s taking me awhile to organize my thoughts, so it’s coming later this week. But check out the bling.

race bling

Last Week in Homesteading

Nothing big on this front, with it being race week and having my weekend taken up entirely by carbs, running and exhaustion. But we are doing some garden work this week in preparation for the season, and I’m really looking forward to that. Seedlings! Yes!

Last Week in Eating

Man, I ate so many carbs last week that for the very first time in my entire life, the Monday after race week, I couldn’t look a carb in the face. There was a birthday cake in the office that looked amazing, and I couldn’t even bring myself to take a bite. All my body wanted was water and vegetables and protein.

BUT, earlier last week, my coworker and I checked out the new Market Square Grocery which has a Gaby et Jules in it. Gaby et Jules is French for Ridiculously Expensive Cookies and Pastries with Unpronounceable Names. A complete luxury and probably the only time I will go in there, but really delicious to experience at least once!

gaby et jules


The night before the Pittsburgh Half, Mark and I went on a date to Serafino’s, a homestyle Italian place in Crafton. It’s BYOB and reasonably priced and not snooty. I loved the bruschetta in particular and will definitely be back to try some of their other dishes. We got to sit outside in beautiful weather and it was a nice, relaxing way to spend the night before the race.

Last Week in Reading

I finished Dead Wake by Erik Larson on audiobook this week. Definitely good, but I preferred the second half to the first, and I think I like his other works slightly better. Still a good non-fiction experience, though. Also finished Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed and started and finished a short e-book called We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which was an adaptation of her TEDTalk.

I also started and finished Toni Morrison’s new novel, God Help the Child. This was quite good. I’m not really a ToMo fan girl, but I do like her work that I’ve read and thought it would be a good addition to my attempts to read more diversely this year.

For audio, I’m listening to Margaret Atwood’s Stone Mattress, which is a book of short stories. She reads at least one of them, too. That’s part of my effort to read everything in Atwood’s canon because she’s probably my favorite author. Today I’ll start Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, which I’ve heard is amazing from so many people and places.

So man, a good week in reading for sure.

A good week in general, all things considered! How about you?

PR 5K update

carnegie 5K recap and the end of half marathon training

Well, I got to update this again last week.

PR 5K update

After the Carnegie 5K, I got to update my PR board to show my new best time: 27:44. That’s an 8:57 average, which is the fastest I’ve ever run 3 miles in my life. Actually, the first time I ran one mile under 9 minutes was during the Runners World RunStreak from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.

It’s always cold for this 5K, but it’s one of those great community 5Ks that people really get into and it benefits the local volunteer fire department. The Carnegie 5K is one of my favorite annual races, particularly because it was my first 5K back in 2012. That race, I ran a 36:10 and thought I had climbed Mount Everest when I was done. I’ve come a long way in three years, that’s for sure.

I didn’t really have a strategy for this race except for to run at my maximum effort for the whole thing without pushing over the edge. I didn’t run with music or headphones, not wanting Map My Run to give me updates when I was trying to run on effort and not needing to stick to a pacing strategy. And so I just went, as hard and as fast as I could, knowing there’s a little incline at the end and a trick where you think you’re coming in to the finish line but you really have to go run around the municipal building again. After the race, my friend T noted that the incline seems progressively less of a beast each year that we do this race, where it didn’t even feel like a blip this year. Maybe it’s because of all the hill training I’ve done this season or just the sheer number of miles on my legs right now.

But I got it done, coming within sight distance of the clock and knowing it was definitely going to be a PR. I gave it the rest of the gas in the tank and broke 28 minutes.

And then there were pancakes. What I’m going to start calling #PRcakes.


I went home that day with a great feeling. It’s the feeling that I have been chasing since Thanksgiving last year – the feeling of training that has paid off, of stronger, faster legs, and pride that I did my best.

That feeling carries me into the Pittsburgh 5K and Half Marathon this weekend. I’ll be running the 5K mostly to collect the Steel Challenge medal, so that’s not a PR attempt but a casual warmup run. But I’m ready and excited for this race, almost as much as I was excited for the relay the first year that I did a Pittsburgh Marathon event in 2013.

I saw these go up downtown yesterday and I did a silent squeeee because it means the day I’ve been training for since December is finally here. I’m heading to the expo after work today and I plan on savoring it.


I also plan on stopping by the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank booth to pick up my “I Run to Fight Hunger” shirt. Thanks to your donations, I raised over $800 this year – a more than $100 fundraising PR! I am beyond grateful for every dollar donated. There are kids in our area who will have nights with full bellies because of your support. So thanks.

There’s still time to donate up until Sunday, so if you have something to give, use the module to the right or visit and click on this year’s race.

Follow me on Twitter or Instagram (@nextgenhouse) for race updates this weekend. And sign up to track me during the race here!

Game on Pittsburgh!

ramps resized

Real Life CSA: Spring, Week 3

One of the items I’ve been waiting for in the spring share arrived this week – ramps! That and the fact that I’m wearing shorts right now means it’s for real and truly spring!

springcsa week 3

So I know that each week I casually gloss over the lettuce, but can I tell you how nice it is to have fresh lettuce every single week? We eat salads regularly, and I just love having this staple. I know it’s not guaranteed every week, but it’s always welcome. So time out for the lettuce, the unsung hero of the CSA.

With that said, the real stars of the show this week are the ramps. If I recall correctly, I had two shots last year at using ramps and only one of my attempts turned out edible. So this year I vow to make a good pasta with ramps.

ramps resized

See? This week’s Oprah voice vegetable!

The cornmeal is always welcome. Mark uses cornmeal on the bottom of homemade pizzas, to help it come off the pizza peel easier. (And actually, I really like the grit it puts at the bottom of the crust.) I really need to make cornbread one of these days with the Weatherbury cornmeal. Or maybe corn muffins. Who doesn’t love portable quick breads?

Goat cheese goes in the stash, since we still have some of the last one we got. Probably need to make a pasta with that soon, too. Pasta on the brain, all the time over here. Sorry not sorry.

radishes resized

I like radishes in moderation, and these little tiny babies are perfect for radish moderation. They are the perfect size for salad toppings.

Tomatillo salsa is another one of my favorite repeats. When you aren’t slathering it all over your Taco Tuesday tacos, you can use it as a simmer sauce for chicken or probably tofu, though that I haven’t tried.

Then there’s the apple cider, another love hate thing I’ve got going on. Love the taste, but don’t drink too much of it because I drink primarily water. So we kind of have a stockpile going on again. Perhaps I need to have a party and find a recipe for punch that includes apple cider. Or have people over and just put some booze in it? Hmmmmm.

So how about you? Enjoying the flavors of spring in your CSA? Got any good ramp pasta recipes for me to try to not butcher?


last week at next gen house

SOME FUN INTRO. I got nothin!

Oh wait. Here’s a photo of my friend’s cute grandson’s class alligator, Al, enjoying the Pittsburgh Riverhounds soccer game on Saturday. Because it’s so cute.

I asked him how Al liked the game and he said Al missed the first half because his face was turned up and he was bird watching. No worries, Al, the second half was more interesting anyway.


Last Week in Running

This was my lowest mileage week in training because I missed two runs. Finally hit my wall this week with exhaustion (you know, the weepy kind) and once I recovered from that, I decided to just go forward doing what I can until the ship can fully right itself. And you know what? I PR’d in the 5K this weekend. I am learning this training cycle that you don’t have to hit every single run and make everything perfect to meet your goals. Rest is so important and when my body screams that it needs to rest and I listen? Both times that has happened, I PR’d the following weekend. I’ll write more about that in a race recap this week, but it’s a lesson that I am always repeating.

Circumstances aligned this weekend to also put me at a place called Thick Bikes on the South Side on Saturday. And I came home with this.


That’s a big girl bike. My first bike since I was a teenager. And one that actually fits me, at 4’11”. Mark has been riding a bike for awhile, doing his first triathlon last year. I was vaguely interested in biking last year, but not enough to actually go buy a good bicycle, especially with marathon training. But this year when I set my running goals, I decided to train more intensely for the Pittsburgh Half and then run more casually in a maintenance style for the summer and fall. Still running races, but not gunning for PRs or going for another full. I wanted to spend 2015 enjoying running again and get to do a ton of other active stuff this summer that I love, like camping, hiking, kayaking….and bicycling? So when circumstances aligned, I decided to make the leap. The good people at Thick Bikes spent a good deal of time with us trying to help me find the bike that felt right, especially when I was pretty wobbly at first. (And apparently my whole life in an effort to ride a bicycle with short legs, I was always putting the seat too low. On a bike that’s made for someone with a small frame, you don’t have to do that to compensate, so I felt like I was high and flying on this thing.)

Sunday the weather was so gorgeous that Mark and I got to ride together on the Panhandle Trail by our house – just under 5 miles for my first real ride on a bike in more than 15 years, but it was so much fun. So. Much. Fun. I can’t wait to spend time out riding this year.

Last Week in Eating

We had some really good meals this week, with a repeat of the Knockoff Chipotle Sofritas, but this time with black beans from Weatherbury Farm that we got through our CSA. I don’t know why I have always been afraid of cooking dry beans, but it was virtually no harder than cooking rice, except for a slightly longer cooking time and the fact that they soaked in water while I was at work. Seriously, so easy. And so cheap.

Mark made venison fajitas with a marinade that has lime and tequila in it, so no surprise those were great. I also made a broccoli and rice casserole that’s one of those delicious, cheesy comfort foods that you could eat non-stop and then realize you ate the whole 13×9 pan.

Sunday, I made a chocolate chip cookie recipe that turned out interesting – almost like shortbread balls with a ton of chocolate chips in them. Different, but good.


cookie balls


I am looking forward to a moderate amount of reasonable carbs this week. I say moderate and reasonable in the same sentence so that I remind myself that carbing up is not about eating 52 pounds of pasta.

Last Week in Homesteading

The big win of the weekend was finishing Mark’s t-shirt blanket. It was supposed full length, but apparently I measured for a full length Joanna and not a full length Mark, because it is a little too small for him. But it works as a couch blanket, at least. There’s always next time for correct measurements!

I think the next thing I’m going to sew is an apron for my niece. Just have to think about what kind of fabric to use. And which pattern to use. And hopefully I measure that project for my niece’s size and not mine…

Last Week in Reading

Still listening to Dead Wake on audiobook. It’s long, audio-wise, and several commutes last week left me without my headphones since I got smashed into place on the bus where I couldn’t reach my phone. (And one of those commutes home I got to listen to a man practice his choir piece! While he was wearing headphones! Lucky me!) I’ll get there, but it’s an interesting listen so far. I especially like the stories about individual passengers on the ship, like a famous lady architect. And the stories about espionage and code breaking.

I finished Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, which was a fun and silly read. I can see why people get into it, that’s for sure.

Started reading Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed: 16 Writers on Their Decision Not to Have Kids this week and I’m flying through it. A lot of the viewpoints don’t represent me or my decision to remain childfree (at least so far), but I am encouraged by a book that seeks to make these voices heard above the stereotypes. Which I feel like I encounter in at least one form every single day of my life. And I have been called selfish, shallow and self-absorbed as it relates to my decision, so that part hits home. If you’re a parent and you just don’t get why someone would choose not to be one, this might be a good book to open your mind.


pea shoots

Real Life CSA: Spring, Week 2

Staples this week, which I appreciate just as much as the more obscure stuff. Some weeks, there’s a great comfort in knowing exactly what to do with the stuff when it shows up.

reallifecsa week 2

Honey will go in the pantry for granola. You can’t beat this honey – it’s my favorite, hands down. Bedillion Honey Farm, people. GET SUM.

Spinach will be a salad green addition, unless we decide to put it on pizza which we are wont to do. Because spinach and feta = pizza synergy.

These are a sure sign of spring! Been waiting for these little guys.

pea shoots

I really like pea shoots in salad and how they really do taste like peas but have the texture of greens. Love that.

Onions, in the basement for later. But likely they’ll be used up soon since we go through onions and garlic like crazy around here. That and potatoes because I’ve never seen a potato that I didn’t want to eat. (Ok, potatoes with mayo on them can leave me alone. So basically most potatoes are my favorite favorite, but not all.)


Carrots that are multi-colored are simply the best. I LOVE how they look. And how they taste, too. On salads, as per usual. This week they will add to all the colors!

We’re just about out of the Braeburn apples from last week, so the Idareds come at a good time. Moar fruit! We also have quite the stash of eggs going on since the ladies are doing their part. Thankfully these guys last forever because they are so fresh, so we don’t have to rush to eat them.

2015 goals: check-in #1

Back in January, I declared that I would devote 2015 to margin. I started the year feeling like an old cell phone battery that couldn’t hold a charge.

So how is it going, now that it’s April?

I’m getting there. As much as I would have liked to have just embraced margin in my life the moment I wrote about it, life doesn’t work like that. Things take time. But my battery is holding a charge better than it was four months ago. The job change was a necessary thing for me, and I am immensely happy about that decision. But it’s also been a complete upheaval of my life, especially because it came directly on the heels of being very ill for more than a week. Most of March and April so far have been whirlwinds, and I’m trying to ride it out until some calm and routine can be restored. I’m a person that thrives on routine and order, and when that gets disrupted, it’s hard to maintain any sense of margin or peace. But I’m getting there, one step/breath/moment at a time.

As for the specific goals I set, here’s where they stand.

Finish the “sewing” room

Well, I haven’t finished it, so to speak, but I cleaned it out. So that’s good, right?

Organize my race bibs

Haven’t really started this one either, but I’m about to get three more bibs to add, with two upcoming 5Ks and the Pittsburgh Half. So perhaps this is a project for May.

Read 100 books

I’m more than on track for this goal, currently sitting at 40 finished books. I’m trying to diversify what I’m reading and branch out to read more general fiction and works by diverse authors. My TBR list is perpetually out of control, but that’s a good thing because it means I’ll never have a moment where I don’t know what to read next. Even the thought of it is foreign to me.


PR in the half marathon and 5K distances


Technically I already PR’d in the half marathon at Just a Short Run with my time of 2:22:49. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care about possibly lowering it under 2:20 at some point this year. If that doesn’t come at the Pittsburgh Half, it might be a fall race goal. As far as the 5K, my first 5K of the year is Saturday in Carnegie and I’d love to PR at that. The second 5K is the day before the Pittsburgh Half, so it will not be a PR attempt, but just a casual run. So we’ll see. Being sick and changing jobs threw a huge monkey wrench in my training, but I have stuck with it better than I would have in previous years, so I know I’m getting there.

Sew a t-shirt blanket for Mark

Progress! I have the front sewn and need to pin the backing on, but it’s a work in progress, which means I’m over the hump of getting started. I expect to finish this in the next week or two.



Incorporate one relaxation technique daily

I was 100% on track with this before I got sick and then the wheels fell off the wagon. (Are you sensing a theme here?) I am slowly getting back to yoga, so I hope to have this fully part of my routine again soon.

Eat clean

I have managed to do this pretty well, especially considering how the spring has gone. I am getting back into the groove – there’s even beans soaking on my dining room table right now. Garden season will help this too. My body is starting to adjust as my stress levels do and I find I’m not craving comfort foods as much.

Blog when I can

I’ve tried to stay with it by at least posting a weekly update, but I do have a lot of ideas for the late spring and summer. I hope as my schedule evolves that I will be able to post more – and not just about myself – but about some helpful food ideas and about growing your own food. One thing I want to do this year is a cost analysis of growing your own food – taking into account all of the parts of that. It will help that my new job has public Wifi in the building, so I can blog at lunch again! And perhaps get back to reading other blogs more regularly too!

Did you set any goals for this year? How are you doing on them?


last week at next gen house

It finally felt like real spring around here last week – and I’m starting to feel refreshed and renewed, settling into a new schedule and routine. Still not 100% settled, but I am now convinced that spring is here to stay. I mean, there’s three colors of flowers coming up in the front yard. Feeling very welcoming of literal and metaphorical spring right now.

Last Week in Running

Last long run of the training cycle was Saturday, and I did 8 miles. Originally wanted to do 10 or 12, but I had a lot going on Saturday and had errands to run and just decided to finish the 8 mile loop and be done with it. I came in at 20 miles for the week, which wasn’t my goal, but it was more than nothing. My matra for times where I can’t seem to get everything together is “something is better than nothing,” something I learned in a class when I was first starting to try to live a healthy lifestyle. 20 miles is better than no miles, and I’m already in the best shape I’m going to be for running the Pittsburgh Half. I’ve already met my two running goals this season – PRing in the half and liking running again. So I’m going to run a few times this week and run the Carnegie 5K next weekend. And I will enjoy myself and go for a 5K PR, if I’m feeling like it.

More importantly, I’m only $2 from my fundraising PR as well. Just TWO DOLLARS. Can you be the person that puts me up over the top? I’ll be talking about this more later, but I have a plan to be able to take all of my donors with me during the race. Will you be on the list?

Last Week in Eating

Made the zuppa toscana as promised in the CSA post for dinner last night and it was delish. Saturday afternoon I had a free hour, and decided to bake a couple of treats. I’ve been missing my grandma lately, as we approach the anniversary of her death, six years ago. Whenever I miss her, I pull out her recipes and make something. Instead of choosing the favorites this time, I chose to make two things I’ve never made before – New Orleans Pecan Bars and Scotchies. Both delicious, though the presentation left a lot to be desired since the Scotchies puffed up and then collapsed. Her instructions are different than other cookie bars as far as the process. But they still tasted rich and deadent, and we were happy to devour them. I used to bake all the time, but that just doesn’t happen much anymore, for time reasons as well as health ones. But every so often I like to bust out my skills and bake, making my kitchen smell like hers when a cookie bar was in the oven.

Last Week in Homesteading

Well, the buch got bottled.


It’s delicious and a success and it feels so good to be finally up and running again with this. Thanks to the donated SCOBY of one of my favorite people at my last job, it’s going again. I flavored these with mango, since that’s Mark’s favorite. But the next one might just be straight plain kombucha. I’m currently growing the SCOBY enough to split it and do a double batch. (!!)

Also falling into the homesteading category was real progress made on Mark’s t-shirt blanket. I have the entire front sewn together and am now in the processing of pinning the back. Which is a camo sheet, obviously. You can tell here it’s a mix of band shirts, cartoons, zombie jokes and the Punisher.




I am excited to be sewing again. One I finish the blanket, I’d like to make a couple of smaller projects before the gardening season gets into full swing and takes up more time.

Last Week in Reading

I finished Hausfrau on audiobook last week. It was well written, but I really loathed the main character and her behavior, so that colored my perspective of the book. Started listening to Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania on Scribd.  I love Erik Larson’s non-fiction, since it reads more like fiction. I’d read a book of his on the history of dirt, he’s that engaging. Looking forward to getting into this latest book. (And pst, Scribd has all of his books on audio!) I’m also still reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on my Kindle and hope to finish that this week. I hit 40 books so far in 2015, which puts me more than on track for my 100 books in 2015 goal, but we’ll talk about that later. Links in this section are to GoodReads since I don’t really care where you buy your books.

Have a great week! Here’s a gratuitous cat photo of Stormy trying to take my spot in bed.

stormy blanket


microgreens resized

Real Life CSA: Spring, Week 1

First week of the spring CSA share from Penn’s Corner! (We technically subscribe to the Farmers Friend share, which cycles through spring, summer and fall. But for purposes of cataloging, I’m listing these shares as spring.) I’m excited to get into the variety that comes with spring, lots of new greens in particular. Eagerly anticipating rhubarb and ramps, but in the meantime, here’s what we got this week!

Real Life CSA Week 1 Spring

First, let’s talk about the non-edible Edible Allegheny magazine. I’m a fan of this magazine and often look to it for news on restaurant openings and food events in the city. It’s a great resource guide for all things local food (and I was even featured in it once!). Subscribe or grab yourself a copy at the grocery store. It was fun to have this show up in our share!

I haven’t had kale in awhile, so when I pulled it out of the bag that Mark brought home, I actually squeed a bit and said “Kale! Zuppa Toscana this week!” So that’s what I’m making with that. Probably my favorite recipe with kale.

Mushrooms have already been claimed for Friday night pizza. When you have someone in your life who makes sourdough pizza crust as good as Mark’s, then you will understand why we have pizza every Friday we can.

microgreens resized

I love microgreens in spring. Anything tiny like that is kind of irresistible. I imagine these will be mixed with lettuce for salad next week (because we also have Salad Mondays in our house). I also can’t wait for some pea shoots, because those are sweet and delicious too.

Penn’s Corner tells me that the Buttercup cheese is perfect to put on a baked potato and I think that’s a good idea. Considering we also got potatoes. See how beautifully this CSA thing comes together? Maybe I’ll bake some and encrust them in one of my fancy Steel City Salts. You know, and then fill them with cheese?

braeburn apples resized

I was unreasonably happy to see this bag of Braeburn apples. I got spoiled on these local apples all winter, and then we didn’t have them for awhile. And I can’t swallow those huge, waxy, tasteless apples from the grocery store. I’d rather eat dried fruit or canned pineapple than eat a waxy apple. So I am thrilled to have these apples to take in my lunch every day.

Has anyone started their spring CSA yet? What are you getting? And what are you waiting for?

beverly cleary

last week at next gen house

As suspected, last week, starting a new job, was a whirlwind. I keep telling people that my brain feels like a fried egg, but I don’t even like eggs and have no real idea what a fried egg tastes like. I guess I just kept thinking of those “this is your brain on drugs, any questions?” commercials from the 80s? I don’t know. Either way, I’m finding my footing and hoping that in the next few weeks I’ll have more capacity for blogging, since I actually do have some ideas for posts and will soon have gardening plans to share. I’m getting there. Thanks for hanging in while I find my footing.

I did manage to get my Groot bobblehead from Mark up at my desk. That’s something, right?


So let’s talk about last week, shall we?

Last Week in Running

I was really hoping that last week would be a 100% nailed it situation, after having a really hard time the previous week and resetting. I had 34 on the schedule, but I only completed 26. Though with the disruptions to my routine and schedule, I am happy that I at least hit three shorter runs, including one speed intervals and one hills, plus a really solid 13 mile course preview long run on Saturday with Elite. Loved the break in the rain this weekend and it was easy to get myself out the door in capris and a long sleeve tech shirt instead of what was starting to feel like a parka.

I have 26 on the schedule for this week, and I’m going to hit what I can and just take it day by day. I wasn’t expecting to have a job change in the middle of training, right after I came off two weeks out for the flu. Yes, my training hasn’t been the same since I got sick. But I already PR’d in the distance this year and so I’m doing my best to just finish as strong as I can.


Speaking of finishing strong, if you haven’t donated to my fundraiser for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, would you consider making a donation? Even $5 matters. I am $117 away from my fundraising goal and I’d love to grab that fundraising PR as we enter the home stretch up to May 3. Use the box to the right or visit

Last Week in Eating

Getting used to my schedule led to another week of our standard meals and nothing really new. But I did spend most of Sunday cooking, making some meals for friends who had their first baby a few weeks ago. I made doubles of everything so that we’d have some meals already prepared for this week – two batches of granola, two batches of Creamy Chicken and Dumplings and two pans of enchiladas.

sunday food collage

Last Week in Homesteading

Going to bottle the kombucha tonight, so that’s a great victory. Warm weather is making weeds spring up in the garden beds and some flowers are poking up here and there. Also, my chives have regenerated. What in the world? I can’t wait for May and to create my backyard oasis again.

Thinking of starting another freezer and pantry challenge with myself, because the more hectic our schedules get, the more our pantry fills up with good intentions. Going to start with another inventory.

Last Week in Reading

I finished Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking on audio and moved on to Hausfrau. It’s working okay to listen on the bus and walking out and about, so I’m getting used to a different format. I’ve got several nonfiction titles on my audio list next. Last week I also finished Heap House, which was similar to A Series of Unfortunate Events and sort of ended on a cliffhanger, but it didn’t blow my skirt up enough for me to want to put the second book on my TBR list. Not bad, just not worth my precious reading time (which right now is primarily lunch breaks and 10 minutes before bed). I also finished several trades of comics, including Dead Class and Alex + Ada and Lumberjanes. Now I’m on to reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on my Kindle, which I had started back in the winter on audio on a road trip and then couldn’t finish on audio because it was a library loan. So I’m going back to just read it on Kindle, which I prefer anyway since with fiction I like my own reading speed better than most audio narrators.

Looking forward to a new Toni Morrison this month, which I have preordered for Kindle. And my TBR pile grows every day, which isn’t a surprise to anyone. And I’m also behind on reading my feeds/blogs. Imagine that.

Also, shout out to Beverly Cleary, probably the most influential writer of my childhood, for turning 99 recently. Ramona Quimby was introduced to me by my mom, who gave me Ramona the Pest. And then I was insatiable with those books, and I even liked Dear Mr. Henshaw, and I’ve always wanted to meet other people who liked it to, since they didn’t exist in my circles at age 8. Books are formative and transformative and man, her books have such a special place in my heart. I’m considering a re-read, which is something I rarely do due to the size of my TBR pile. We’ll see. But in the meantime, thanks Beverly Cleary.

beverly cleary


darth vader comic

last week at next gen house

Ever have one of those off-weeks where you feel like you aren’t firing on all cylinders and nothing works the way it did just a few days before? That was last week at Next Gen House.

I was finishing up my last week at my old job, and while theoretically you would think that would make things calm down, it didn’t. Not in any way. My goal for this week – the first at my new job – is to just get through it intact and to do the best that I can to create a new normalcy. That being said, here’s how the week went.

Last Week in Running

Well. This week did not go remotely as planned. I started off strong, with a lovely, 7 mile outdoor run on Tuesday on the city trails. Work had a team building activity close to the trails and let out an hour early, allowing me to squeeze in 7 miles during daylight. Wednesday was another 5 on the Panhandle trail by our house, where Mark got to ride his bike and I ran. But by Thursday, my last day at the old job, the lack of sleep all week had caught up with me. I had to skip my Thursday workout because I got home too late and exhausted (physically and emotionally). All week I had tossed and turned every single night, being up for hour stretches all over the place. Not sure if that was my thyroid or just the stress of the job change. But needless to say, I figured that I was better off just sleeping because my body didn’t want me on that treadmill at 10 at night, no way, no how. Fridays are a rest for me, and I decided to keep it a rest even though I missed Thursday so that I would be okay to do 12-13 on Saturday with Elite.

Then I get up Saturday and it had rained the night before and it was cold. And the excuses start going in my brain, because I’m also exhausted again, with another night of restless sleep. And then a myriad other things start pounding my brain and I decided to skip the group run and try to go back to sleep. And this was probably my biggest mistake. I should have gone to the run and done at least what I could and then come home, but instead I laid back down. And there I didn’t sleep, but I mentally beat myself up and worried and stressed about all manner of things, logical and illogical, for another 45 minutes until I decided I’d have to at least run on the treadmill, so I ate a little something.

Once I got on the treadmill, I felt like it was the hardest thing I had ever done. I got through two torturous miles where every second felt like a year. Got off, went downstairs and told Mark I didn’t think I could do it and started crying. I am pretty sure all of the feelings I had about leaving a very difficult job finally came rearing in like a mac truck and the exhaustion caught up to me and between that and the immense guilt I had about skipping a long run, I just couldn’t hold it in. So I made peace with myself for a few minutes, got it out and then ran 2 more. So my 12-13 mile plan turned into 4 slow slog miles on a treadmill. We traveled for Easter, so I decided to skip Sunday’s as well and start with a clean slate today.

It was hard, coming off a great week with a PR to basically tank my training this week and run only 16 of the 34 miles I was supposed to run. But I didn’t have it in me and I should have faced the big changes happening in the rest of my life and realized how that would impact my training. I am a creature of habit and thrive on a routine. When that routine is disrupted, things go crazy. So I am going to relegate this past week of training to the past and just mentally wipe it clean and move forward. I’m where I need to be fitness-wise and I need to take pride in how far I’ve come and just move on. This week is a new week, and I hope to be as much on my game as possible, though I am going in to it knowing that more things are changing and I will have to take the runs one mile at a time.

Last Week in Eating

Well, it was Easter week, so we can definitely put my family Easter dinner on the high point. I always stuff myself to the gunnels and this year was really no exception, though I didn’t have to moan afterwards. (Though I did basically sleep the whole way home.) We also got to spend Saturday night with my family, which included celebratory cake and a make your own ice cream sundae bar, which was delish.

We also opened a bottle of champagne I got when I was in the Finger Lakes for the Wine Glass Half Marathon (which I had promised myself I wouldn’t open until I got a new job). And we drank some out of our Star Trek glasses, of course.

champagne and star trek

This week we’ll be making some standards that are easy to manage with a busy schedule. I am hoping this weekend to break out some new recipes I’ve been wanting to try but haven’t had the bandwith for.

Last Week in Homesteading

Guess who has two thumbs and a kombucha brew going strong? This girl right here. I’ll be tasting it this week to see if it’s ready to be bottled. That’s a really great sentence to type after a long, kombucha-less winter. Definitely dreaming of the garden too, pretty much every time I see our backyard, which is muddy, brown and gray. Though the chickens are pretty happy about the muck because they eat worms from it after it rains and then take a dust bath once it dries up!

Last Week in Reading

I finished the Star Trek audiobook that I started during the JASR half marathon last weekend, and started Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Doesn’t Stop Talking, which is completely fascinating. I often find myself nodding my head up and down and saying “yes, that’s me!” out loud in the car.

I also finished A Little Life, which was a huge tome that puts you through the emotional wringer. Probably didn’t help that I finished it, bawling my eyes out all over the library copy, the night before the long run that wasn’t this week. Amazing book, but not in any way light hearted. It requires lots of breaks and lots of fortitude. After that, I needed a light read, so I am blowing through Heap House, a children’s/young adult book that seems a lot like A Series of Unfortunate Events but takes place in 1870s England in a house that sits in the middle of garbage heaps, where the protagonist can hear objects tell him their names. It’s bizarre, but it’s a really fast read and is decidedly much more on the lighter side.

So that’s it for this week. I’ll leave you with a page from a Darth Vader comic I read recently. Going to help me move on from last week (and the last few years!).

darth vader comic