On Tap for Today

A fun loving, inspired living blog


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Today: 200 miles of smiles. {Reach the Beach, Legs 2 and 3}

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Life is better with teammates, especially teammates who are up for just about anything.

If Van 2 had an official motto, it would have to be If it feels good, do it.  Want to sleep (or more accurately giggle) atop the van?  If it feels good, do it.  Want to wear a banana costume while you drive alongside midnight runners?  If it feels good, do it.  Want to have a roadside dance party?  If it feels good, do it.  Want to run fast, or reign it in a little?  If it feels good, do it.

[Image courtesy of Tina]

My second leg of the Reach the Beach Massachusetts relay was definitely my favorite.  After seeing Theodora run through my hometown, and knowing the sun would be rising soon, I was anxious and excited to get on the road.  But first, I needed a banana hug.

[Image courtesy of Tina]

I loved running a short, fast and familiar route not far from where I grew up.  There was no one on the road, and while it was still dark, it wasn’t at all scary thanks to the street lights and densely populated neighborhoods.  About half way through my leg, I looked over my right shoulder to see a runner catching up to me.

Having been passed several times during my first leg, I wondered if I could hold this person off.  A bit of competition can be a great motivator, even for a slow poke like me.  I was able to hold him off, and succeeded in passing someone ahead of me as well.  I felt most calm, confident and smiley during this leg.  I am usually a solid 10 minute miler, but bootcamp and speed training this spring has definitely paid off.  During my second leg, I completed my first mile in 9:07, my second in 9:34, and the last 3/4 mile in 8:02.

Before I knew it, I was coming down the driveway to Mansfield High School, where Anne was waiting for the slap bracelet before taking off on her second leg.

We caught up to her as she neared Borderland State Park, a gorgeous property that features wooded walking and horse trails.  She handed the bracelet off to Ashley, who would finish off our second legs at Oliver Ames High School (Hockomock League, woop woop!), and send Van 1 off on their final legs.

We spent the next few hours at the final Van Transition Area, lounging in the grass, stretching a bit, having a laughing fit on top of the van, and recovering from a potentially poisonous meal.  If a waiter or waitress says anything remotely close to, “I am not sure if you wanted meatballs or not… so if you didn’t, just push them aside,” it’s okay to be worried.  In fact, I’d be worried if you weren’t worried.  Fortunately, we lived to tell of that ill fated dinner.

[Image source: Jack atpixelwiremedia.com / rtbrelay.com]

Our last legs fell in the mid-afternoon sun, and for many of us in Van 2, they were our longest or toughest.  I personally got worked on my last leg.  My legs felt strong, but my stomach was in knots.  I felt some temporary relief when I reached our van near mile 3, and my teammates’ energy carried me towards what I thought was almost the end of my adventure… until I realized I had taken a wrong turn at some point.

A number of signs had been pulled down, and I must have veered off course.  I ended up running 10 minutes or so in the wrong direction, but was soon back on track.  Between that mishap, my stomach ache, and running on a busy road with no shoulder, this final leg was definitely not my finest.  Climbing up the hill to Dartmouth High School, though, and realizing I was done?  That felt good.  So good that I nearly cried in the port-o-potty.  Things get weird when I’m over-tired.

[Image courtesy of Anne]

The fact that Anne and I finally perfected our slap bracelet handoff was the icing on the proverbial cake.  Anne and Ashley both made quick work of their final legs, bringing it home for Team Off Balance.  We welcomed Ashley to the finish area with a victory arch before crossing the finish line together.

[Image source]

Neither words nor photos can do the experience justice.  From starting line to finish line,  all I could do was smile.  Lack of sleep, lack of non-meatball food, lack of space… none of that matters when you’re surrounded by good people.  None of that matters when you’ve got miles ahead of you, and the privilege and luxury of being able to run them.  

I smiled for 200 miles last weekend, and I can’t wait to do it all over again soon.  I cannot thank Reach the Beach, New Balance, and my teammates enough.  Call me.  Maybe.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Unpacking, again…
  • Happy graduation anniversary, fellow Class of 2004 Eagles 🙂
  • Summer treats

What’s got you smiling lately?


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Today: 11 things (including something especially… weird).

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]You may have seen the “Eleven Things” posts circulating around the internet lately.  Whitney, a fellow Bostonian and FitFluential Ambassador recently tagged me.  She and I had a lovely dinner last week at Franklin Cafe, and chatted about everything from work, yoga, and relays to house-hunting. I usually shy away from these types of things, but I could not say no to Whitney.  Plus, I like things that come with rules.  So there’s that.

RULES

1. Post these rules. 
2. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
3. Answer the questions the person who tagged you set for you in their post.
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
5. Go to their blog and tell them you’ve tagged them.
6. No stuff in the tagging section about you are tagged if you are reading this. You legitimately have to tag 11 people.

Without further ado, eleven random things about me:

1.  I am the second of four children.
2. In fourth grade, one of my classmates stabbed me (unintentionally, I assume) with a pencil.  The pencil tip is still in my hand.  For real.  Weird, I know.
3. I met Al Sharpton and Hillary Clinton in the same week.  I was 18.  And socially awkward. (Not much has changed.)
4.  I would be lost without my day planner.
5.  I don’t trust fax machines and firmly believe that we should stop using them.
6. I will probably cry when Picnik goes away.
7. My confirmation name is Blaise.  Like the saint, not the American Gladiator.
8.  I majored in French and minored in Fine Arts in college.
9.  I am prejudiced against cats.
10. I love crime shows (actual crime, not so much).
11.  “Walking in Memphis” is probably my favorite song of all time.
And here are my answers to Whitney‘s eleven questions:

1.  If you had to choose, would you pick running over yoga or vice versa?

Yoga.  Mostly because I can’t sneak in a nap while running.

2.  Kindle, iPad or Actual Book?

Actual book.  For sure.

3.  Favorite fitness magazine and why?

I am a magazine junkie, but Self has always been a favorite.  I love their focus on balance and happiness, and have been reading since I was high school.

4.  Favorite vegetable and favorite way to cook it?

I really dislike cooked vegetables.  Raw or bust.

5.  What is your favorite kind of sweet? Cake, ice cream, cookies, tortes, you name it!

Junior Mints. 🙂

Very out of focus. I blame the sugar coma.

6.  The Olympics are this summer, what sport are you excited to watch?

I am obsessed with the Olympics.  I seriously cannot wait for all of the swimming events (especially relays), diving, tennis… let’s see… track and field, gymnastics… you get the point.  I have never paid much attention to Olympic boxing, but now that I have a teensy bit of experience, I will definitely be watching this year and hoping to learn a thing or two.

7.  What kind of running shoes do you wear? Why?

I’ve worn Mizuno Wave Alchemys for four or five years now.  They fit my feet, plain and simple.

9.  What kind of yoga mat do you have? Do you even have a yoga mat?

I use an Aurorae classic mat.  I love their colors, and the feel of the mat, but it gets a bit slippery, especially during hot yoga when I am sweating like a man.  In my quest for a solution, I discovered that Aurorae sells small rosin bags for this express purpose.   I haven’t used it yet, but am looking forward to giving it a try. I keep a G2 Lifestyles Trainermat at my desk, for use in the rare event that I have 20 minutes to take a lunch break and can fit in a little stretch.

10.  What is your favorite topic to blog/write about?

I love writing about entertaining, running trials and triumphs, and Clark.  Clark brings all the boys to the yard readers to the blog.

11.  What do you do for a day job?

I work in the non-profit sector.  Aren’t I mysterious?

And now, I shall tag the following people: Bridget of Yogurt and Berries, Jessica of Dairy Free Betty, Jaime of Embracing Balance, Halley of Blunder Construction, Colleen of the daily craic, Michelle of Hit the Bricks, Mattie of Comfy and Confident, Michelle of Fun and Fearless in Beantown, Meghan of Travel Wine & Dine, Cynthia of It All Changes, and Erin of Big Girl Feats.

Here are my 11 questions for you lovely ladies:

  1. If you could pick your theme song, what would it be?
  2. What is your favorite local restaurant?
  3. What day of the week were you born?
  4. Tea or coffee?
  5. Pants or skirts?
  6. Where would you go on your ideal vacation?
  7. What’s your favorite day of the week?
  8. Are you an early bird or a night owl?
  9. What is your favorite sport to watch?
  10. Do you have a secret talent?
  11. What is your go-to workout song?

Can’t wait to read your answers.  And, um, if you happen to know anything about the longterm effects of pencil tips living below your skin…. please.  Get in touch.

Also On Tap for Today:

Did you ever send a chain letter and have it work out?  I am still waiting for those 21 pairs of socks to arrive.


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Today: The home stretch.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Between the long weekend and unusually high temperatures, today feels much more like a summer Saturday than an autumn Sunday.  After dragging myself out of bed yesterday to finish my second-to-last long run before the marathon, I was so happy to be able to sleep in a bit today.  By the time I took Clark out for his first walk of the day, it was already sundress weather.  On October 8th in Boston?  I’ll take it!

Yesterday’s run took me through the South End and Back Bay, Allston, Brighton, right past my Alma Mater in Chestnut Hill, to Newton Center, and back through Brookline to South Boston.  Running is the best way to see the city (…welp, besides driving.  Or walking.  Or taking the T.  Biking, too, maybe?  On second thought, being pushed in a stroller probably wins.)

I can’t believe I am weeks away from my second trip across the 26.2 starting (and hopefully finish) line.  Thanks to six months in the boxing gym and a bit more diligence with mid-week runs, I feel far stronger than I did in January.  More importantly, I’m struggling less with the mental game this time around.  Having done almost all of my training alone, I’ve done my best to “run my own race” and steer clear of the comparison trap.  I know I won’t break any speed records.  I know I am a back-of-the-middle-of-the-pack runner at best.  But I know I can complete all 26.2 miles.  That’s the beauty of having done it once before.

Training has been so quiet this time around.  No weekly team training runs.  No fundraising.  Not a whole lot of talk about it here On Tap.  As I (slowly, very slowly) crossed the final bridge on yesterday’s run, my calves burning, I started to tear up.  This is the home stretch (literally, I could see our building at this point).  I had passed the last mental hurdle.  With just one more long run to go, and less than a month until the big day (the marathon; we haven’t set a wedding date yet)– I am ready.  I am proud.  And I am extremely excited.  And I can’t feel my legs.  But I suppose that’s the point of an ice bath.

I am sure nothing will top my first marathon, but I have a feeling number two will be just as memorable.  If nothing else, it will mark my triumphant retirement from running.  Just kidding.  Or am I?

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your favorite neighborhood?  Your favorite way to get around?


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Today: Ten years later.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Ten years ago, I was a sophomore at Boston College, settling into my seat in Devlin 008 for Biology.  My friend Julie (we had gone to high school together) saved me a spot in the right side of the amphitheater-style room.  There were rumors circulating that the White House was on fire.  Our professor, Dr. Strauss, pulled down the giant screen and turned on what he called the diamond vision (I am not sure if that’s really what it was called, but he loved that thing), and tuned into a local news channel just as the second plane hit one of the World Trade Center towers.

And the world was forever changed.

I don’t think Dr. Strauss formally dismissed our class, but almost immediately we began to filter out of the room.  My parents had bought me a cell phone the year before, when I was a freshman at at university in New York City.  I tried to call their house, but the call wouldn’t go through.  I wandered back to my dorm room, where my roommates were crowded around a small tv (the tv/vcr combo we all seemed to have). We sat, glued to the news, for what seemed like forever.

In the hours and days that followed, countless stories emerged about the people who ran, not away from, but towards the devastation.

One of those stories that echoed, and continues to echo, at BC is the story of Welles Crowther, a 1999 graduate and member of the men’s lacrosse team.  ESPN recently featured Mr. Crowther’s story in the following video.

There are no words to express how my heart continues to ache for those affected by the unthinkable tragedy of September 11, 2001.  But I have to believe, in that same heart, that people are truly good.  And that we need to take care of one another.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Brunch with the Boston Brunchers 🙂
  • Are you ready for some football (aka hiding in the kitchen, baking)?
  • Weeding through stacks and stack of books
Who are the heroes in your life?


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Today: The books I wish I had written.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]After returning from Boothbay Harbor, one of the first things I did was rave to my mother about J. Courtney Sullivan‘s second novel, Maine.  Already a New York Times best seller,  “It’s the kind of book you read and think… I wish I wrote this book,” I told my mom.  It was evocative, and equally as heartbreaking as uplifting– I only wished it was waterproof, so I could take it out on the float with me.

I started thinking about other books I wish I had written.  Unfortunately people like Charles Dickens are always beating me to the punch.  Pests.  Since I just gave away the first author (I was distracted, trying to invent some reason to type What the Dickens?!), I suppose that’s a reasonable place to start.

A Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens, clearly, I am not.  The last piece of fiction I wrote was my resume.  Totally kidding.  It was an adaptation of Robin Hood, inspired by an illuminated manuscript from the medieval period.  And if you have not already died of boredom, I will elaborate.  It was written in French and (shock!) entirely awful.  And it is now either taking up space in a landfill (sorry, Al Gore) or hanging in my professor’s office, a testament to all that is wrong with American co-eds.

A Tale of Two Cities showed me that a book could be so much more than a book, even if it was assigned reading.  A carefully drawn plot could become a treasure map of sorts.  When Mme. Defarge started knitting in deathly code, I was hooked.

Charlotte’s Web

Each year, a certain teacher at our grammar school would be reduce to tears, all because of an itsy, bitsy spider.  She would barely finish reading the first chapter aloud before dissolving into a crying fit, but– because she loved Charlotte’s Web so– she would pick it up again, day after day, until finally her students would know the ending.  In second grade, I was in the classroom next door.  We listened to a lot of music that year, likely to drown out all the sobbing.

Someone gave me a hard cover copy of the book (I remember it being a First Communion present… that can’t be right, can it?), and I read it on my own that summer.  It was the first book to break my heart.  Had I actually understood The Velveteen Rabbit at such a tender age, surely it would have taken the prize.  That story is brutal.  Regardless, Charlotte’s Web taught me about sacrifice and love and friendship in terms I could understand.  Plus, it made me wonder about farms.

There Are No Children Here

I discovered Alex Kotlowitz after re-reading four of Jonathan Kozol’s books in as many days.  It was the summer after I graduated from Boston College.  I was awaiting acceptance into several volunteer programs, and feeling rather adrift in the world.  If Charlotte’s Web broke my eight-year-old heart, There Are No Children Here ripped my twenty-two-year-old heart to shreds.  I coveted Kotlowitz’s ability to engage, with a seemingly endless reservoir of compassion, while still respecting the professional tenets of journalism.  I couldn’t imagine how I was laughing at the little anecdotes he shared, given the devastation surrounding these stories.  And no sooner had I finished laughing, I was crying like that second grade teacher.  It was all just so human.

A few month later, I would go on to start a career in youth development.  I don’t think this is a coincidence.

I Was Told There’d Be Cake

If I was funny enough, rich enough, and patient enough to be a comedian, I would want to be Sloane Crosley.  And if I couldn’t be her, I’d at least want to steal all of her material.  I thought people who laughed out loud while reading on planes were manner-less goobers, until I became one of those people (we all know my manners are impeccable).  Crosley’s essays are all at once poignant and hilarious.

Packed and ready to make peace.

I’ve started writing a few books in my head, including one called Frenchie Kisses for Everyone (a working title, mind you).  The story follows me and Clark, as we circumnavigate the globe and (as the title indicates), he kisses everyone we meet.  In the face of such overwhelming cuteness, rebel forces lay down their arms, corporate standoffs grind to a halt, and you know… other stuff.

Maybe I could start by writing one of those “choose your own adventure” books.  That way, I wouldn’t really have to commit to an ending, and my overactive imagination could be of benefit.  For once.

Also On Tap for Today:

Which book(s) do you wish you had written?


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Today: And the Oscar doesn’t go to..

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] ..any of these movies, because they’re old.  Some older than others.  But they’re my favorites, nevertheless.  I’ve watched, and re-watched, and re-re-watched each so many times, I could perform a one-woman show on Broadway (in Southie, not the actual Broadway) featuring various sub-plots, characters and quotations.  If I had enough bronze and award-making machinery to create my own Oscars, they’d go to the following films.

While You Were Sleeping

[Photo source]

Featuring Peter Gallagher and his eyebrows before he/they became Sandy Cohen and his eyebrows, While You Were Sleeping taught me about the perils of  falling in front of public transportation, falling in love, memory loss, and lying.  In other words, this movie gave me a full life’s education.  Parents, don’t bother sending your kids to Boston College.  I bet if I skipped my years on The Heights and simply stuck to the $3.99 Blockbuster rental fee on movies like this, I would still be getting by.  Then again, I wouldn’t know how to say “small house” in Arabic, or be able to abbreviate For the greater glory of God in Latin.  I wouldn’t be able to read North African literature in French.  I wouldn’t have a scar on my left hand from a Spring Break-in-Montreal (no tan!) surfing-on-an-ironing-board incident.  And I would have no friends.

Little Women

[Photo source]

Even more so than the actual book, this film reminds me that sisters are fun to have around.  And sometimes they’re useful.  Like when you have a fever that you need “drawn down from your head.”  Or when you need help doing you hair, which has been singed off by a Revolutionary War era curling iron, resulting in your curls smelling like “burnt feathers.”  Needless to say, I know this script by heart.  My own little woman sister and I watched this movie so many times that when she was having a stressful day in law school recently, my immediate instinct was to ask if teacher had struck her, or perhaps put the limes out into the snow.  One more reason why this movie is genius: Christian Bale.  Also, I am glad we don’t call our mother “Marmee.”

Little Miss Sunshine

[Photo source]

My family, well part of it, took our first legitimate road trip in 2008 or whatever year my older brother graduated from law school.  Technically, only 2/3rds of the family participated– my sister was at Zach’s graduation and my brother was (obviously) waiting for us in Virgina.  My parents, younger brother and I tooted down 95 to Charlottesville armed with a trivia book, the 50 cds I burned for the sole purpose of terrorizing my traveling mates, GPS and snacks.  Fortunately, no one died en route, and therefore no one had to be hidden in the trunk.  I love Little Miss Sunshine for so perfectly illustrating that families are weird, and that this is not necessarily a bad thing.  And the soundtrack is spot on.  My favorite scene is when the grief counselor at the hospital fumes, “You are not the only person to have someone die today!”  Just brilliant.

Waking Ned Devine

[Photo source]

Ever the cliched human, I saved the best for last.  If you haven’t seen this movie, please slap your laptop closed with a flourish and get thee to a… wherever you get movies nowadays.  You will laugh, you might cry, and you’ll certainly wish you were Irish.  And riding half naked on a motor bike.    This film has inspired me to pretend to win the lotto on many occasions, in an effort to trick people into bringing me my dinner faster.

It hasn’t worked.  Yet.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • I’m sort of excited to peep Paula Deen/Top Chef on my DVR
  • My root beer is ready!
  • If you’re more interested in the real Oscars, pop over here!

Which movie(s) do you know by heart?



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Today: A full blown four alarm holiday emergency.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] It’s Sunday, December 12th.  We have but a mere thirteen days until Christmas.  I’ve barely started decking the halls.  Heck, we don’t even have a tree up yet.  In the words of Clark W. Griswold, Jr.,

This is a full blown four alarm holiday emergency here.

I’d go on, but the next line or two includes an swear word.  You can watch for yourself here.  My favorite part is when Clark re-bolts the door.  Anyway, with all the construction happening in our condo, we’re a little delayed in getting ready for Christmas.  Being the semi-elf that I am (I’m only 5’4″ after all… on a good day… like when I am wearing platform shoes and platform socks), I am feeling a bit out of sorts.  Where are the stockings?  The candy canes?  The tree skirt that Clark peed on twice last year?

Last week, as our contractor packed up his various power tools and boxes, I began unpacking my various Christmas tools and boxes.  I couldn’t help myself.  I wrapped presents with reckless abandon (to the point that I ran out of regular tape and resorted to brown packing tape… it’s very rustic meets utilitarian), while blasting James Taylor Christmas songs.  It was awesome.

Tomorrow or the day after, we’ll finally pick up a little tree to fit our newly renovated condo.  We’ll dress it up with our favorite ornaments while a fire glows in newly installed fireplace.  If I knew what hot toddy was, I am sure we’d sip that, too.  In the meantime, we’re making do with this little beauty, which I picked up after enjoying a great blogging event at the Whole Foods on River Street in Cambridge on Wednesday night.  I’d spotted these little rosemary “trees” earlier this year and have been thinking about them ever since.  Not only do they look like Clark-sized Christmas trees, but they also smell incredible and are rather useful.  Rosemary is, after all, one of my most favorite herbs.  Pedestrian though it may be, basil will always be my number one.

Alongside lovely people like Bridget and Emily, I learned about Whole Foods’ holiday offerings and picked up a few sneaky and fun entertaining tips.  Don’t tell anyone, but I plan to purchase a Baker’s Dozen platter from the bakery at Whole Foods, and pass these babies off as home-baked.   Home-baked in really, really small batches.  Besides serious guilt, this lie will only cost me $15 for 13 pieces of cannoli, petite pastries, assorted bars and brownies.  That’s practically stealing.  Which is worse than lying, right?

We also got some tips for fancying up goat cheese.  I would elaborate, but I was too busy drooling to pay close attention or take photos.  If I had to guess, though, I am pretty sure that you can roll goat cheese logs in caramelized walnuts, dried candied ginger, or really, anything tasty, and serve with pita chips or a sliced baguette for a delightful appetizer.

Whole Foods also offers cheese platters (with quite a varied selection) that serve 8-10 people (or, with my marathon appetite, 1-2 people) for under $20.  Add a bottle of their soon-to-be-in-stores Three Wishes Wine for $2.99 a bottle and you’ve got yourself one merry night in… and perhaps enough reason to stop calling it whole paycheck, disgruntled hipsters?  Just kidding.  I love you, disgruntled hipsters.

Armed with some holiday entertaining ideas, an excess of rosemary, and a BC Grandpa mug full of holiday cheer, I am off to do a bit more decorating and a lot more Sparky Griswold impersonating.

Also On Tap for Today:

What your favorite entertaining tip or trick?  Does it involve blatant lying?  I sort of hope so…