Tag Archives: homeward bound

His & Hers Gift Guide – What They’ll Actually Use


This time of year, I’ve been getting a lot of searches that link to this post from last year: Top 5 Gifts for the Hard to Buy For Person Who Has Everything. I want to offer up some more gift ideas this year. But I don’t want to give away my surprises of what I’ll be gifting.

Instead, I thought I’d create a different kind of list.

Part One – His

If you read last year’s post, you’ll know that my shopping for my husband is very difficult. He usually just buys what he wants when he wants it. And no matter how much thought I put into them, the gifts I get him end up in a drawer or on the shelf in the closet. So, instead, the HIS GIFT LIST will include items that Rob has either bought himself or has been given, but that he uses all the time.

Part Two – Hers

Here you will get a my Christmas Wish List. No, this is not a post to get what I want for Christmas. Besides, probably only one person I’m exchanging with actually reads this blog. And I’m pretty certain my mom is done with her Christmas shopping already. 😉 Instead, it’s just a list of things, that if offered to me this holiday season {or any old time}, that I would not turn down! It’s meant to give you ideas for women you may know like me.

Let’s start with the guys, since they seem to be the hardest to shop for, right? For additional ideas, please read Running with Racheal’s post from last year.

Great Gifts for Guys

{aka items Rob uses ALL THE TIME}

  • Smartphone – His iPhone is the one gift that Rob thanks me for throughout the year. He doesn’t know now, how in the world he ever lived without it. The thing is, it was a surprise a couple of years ago. He didn’t even know he’d want one. Because of the never-ending thank yous, it’s the gift that keeps on giving!
  • iPhone Wallet – Rob bought this for himself within the last year and it’s made his life so much simpler. When getting ready for work in the morning, he no longer has to go in search of his wallet and his phone. It’s all together now. He found his on eBay and there are several styles. His is pictured below. He gets compliments all of the time. They are cheap, too!
  • Extra iPhone Chargers – Rob found these cheap online, too. I never strayed away from my one charger that came with my iPhone. But once we got extra, it made life so much easier! I can’t tell you how nice it is to have one in my car, one to keep in my suitcase or carry-on, purse, one for the office and the living room. Rob keeps one at work, too. It was handy when we left one behind on vacation to have extras on hand. Only downfall: When we finally upgrade to iPhone 5 or later, we’ll have to buy all new ones. But no matter, these were seriously cheap.
  • Flashlight(s) – Laugh all you want, but whenever we need a flashlight we can’t find one. This year, a friend of ours put flashlights in our golf tournament goodie bags. Of course, they were meant to keep in our golf bags to look for lost balls. But since we are too lazy to look for them are such good golfers, we use them around the house. Now, if we had about 5 more of those…
  • Lounge Pants – I don’t know about you, but we live in comfy pants over the weekend. That is, until we leave the house, of course. We’ve received lounge/sleepwear pants for Christmas a couple of times and now I don’t know what we’d do without them. They come in many styles. Rob’s collection includes Guinness and ESPN lounge pants, among others.
  • Packer/Wolverine Gear – You can never have enough gear to cheer on your team. Just make sure it is the size, style and fit that your recipient likes. I’m just sayin’, when I get him this kind of stuff, it always gets used!
  • Hammock – Once upon a time, Rob bought a hammock from Hammocks.com. And on any beautiful day in the spring, summer and fall, I come home to him reading, relaxing or napping in that thing. The dogs join sometimes, too! We bought our friends, who invite us up to their cabin every year, one as a thank you gift. It’s a priceless gift, really. It may be hard to think about when it’s so cold, but that’s why they are on sale today! We recommend the Quilted Island Bay with metal stand. Rob’s tip: Get coupons and promo codes when shopping online by typing in “Hammocks.com Coupon” instead of just “Hammocks.com” to save extra dough!
  • Dinner out – Rob nearly always takes me out to dinner, so it’s a special treat when I buy. Sometimes, I’ll make my own little certificate stating such {as I explained in this post} or what restaurant I’m planning on taking him, like I did for his birthday one year.


Great Gifts for Gals

{aka gifts I would Graciously and Gratefully accept}

  • Socks – Not kidding here. As it grew colder this fall and I had to put the sandals away, I found that many of my socks were either missing a sibling or developed a hole. I’ve thrown away quite a few. I like fun, funky socks, but they can be hard to rotate within the wardrobe and Rob isn’t a fan. So even just comfortable black socks will do!
  • Turtleneck Sweaters – Are these out of style? I’m having such a hard time finding nice ones! I’m a freeze baby. So in the winter, I like warm sweaters. When I’m trying to overcome Pirate Eyes in the early, black a.m. of winter, I don’t want to have to think about my outfit before work. I want to put on a warm turtleneck sweater and dress it up with a scarf. DONE. Solid colors are best… and timeless.
  • Alligator Clips – This is the name Rob gave to a hair clip I used to rely on all of the time. I’ve lost it since our trip to California this fall and just feel LOST. I am all about low maintenance when it comes to my hair and rarely use a hair dryer. I used to twist it and put it up with my alligator clip when wet. Later in the evening or the next morning, I can wear it down without having to do very much with it! We’ve search stores everywhere for more, but just found them online under other names – beak clip, Japanese clip, concorde clip. There are lots of colors and styles to choose from!

Beak Clip

  • Opolo Mountain Zinfandel – This is one of our favorite wines, but it’s not really priced for everyday. So it’s a treat when we get it!
  • Davis Family Vineyards Pinot NoirGuy Davis knows his Pinot. I never actually liked Pinot Noir until I tasted his at his tasting room on a trip to the Russian River Valley. You can’t find it in stores, so you’ll have to order some. Might as well get a case while you’re add it. Your life will be transformed.
  • Davis Family Vineyards Wine Club Membership – Hell, why not just join the club? I did join the Davis Family Vineyards Friends and Family Club after that trip, but canceled when we needed to buckle down to buy our house. I should just get back in this club and swear never to buy a cheap bottle again and savor every drop of this wine. Quality over quantity, right?
  • Other Wine Goodies – I love this post by grapefriend, with some unique wine-related finds. In particular, I’m intrigued by the wine2go flask and the rewined carmenere candle.
  • Champagne – I love me some bubbly. But it’s extra special to receive a bottle of real champagne!
  • St. Germain – This elderflower liqueur is one of my all-time favorites. I haven’t met a cocktail I didn’t like when it’s made with it.
  • High Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil – At one point, we bought a Groupon to join an olive oil club. Each month for three months, we got high quality, expeller pressed Italian olive oils! We didn’t continue because it took us all year to use them. The third bottle is almost empty, so we’re in the market for more. I also love this idea of adopting an olive tree and receiving the olive oil produced from it.
  • Cheese of the Month Club – Um. I’m from Wisconsin. I’m a Francophile. No brainer.
  • Fruit of the Month Club – I’ve always wanted this! Fresh fruit delivered to my door every month, yes please! I’ve been eyeing the Arizona Orange Company for two years now…
  • CSA Share – I absolutely adored my CSA box in the summer! But it just proved to be too much food, even split with a friend. They had solo shares this year, but were more basic and sold out right away. If you want to give someone a CSA share, make sure the pick-up location and window is doable for them.
  • Donation to a Cause I Support/Admire – Like a Pet Rescue or Shelter, such as Homeward Bound, where I found Sophie almost 9 years ago and the Carver-Scott County Humane Society, where we found Shamrock this year. When friends of ours refused to let us pitch in for the timeshare and rental car when they invited us to join them in Hawaii, we donated to the Marine Mammal Center in support of the endangered Monk Seals on the island of Kaua’i. We were lucky enough to see them there.
  • Packer Gear – Can never have enough!
  • Packer Tickets – Hey, I am getting higher up on the waiting list; but if anyone can spare a pair, we’ll take ’em! {We support our team during winning AND losing seasons!}
  • Gourmet Coffee – I’m always willing to try a new brew.
  • Tickets to Evita – I love musicals and Evita will be in Minneapolis this year. I loved the music in the movie and have never seen it performed live.
  • Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake – Laugh if you must. I had a roommate with whom we bought these for each other’s birthdays! The Bonus is that the two of us shared it, so we both got to pick away at it All. Week. Long. It’s been years since I’ve had one, though, so maybe my tastes have changed. Wouldn’t hurt to find out!
  • Gift Certificates – I know some people think that these are impersonal, but I love them. They say to me, “I know you like to shop here, so pick out what you want!” or “We really loved this place and thought you might like it, too.” I also like to save them to use as fitness or weight loss rewards. Here are some great places for which to receive gift cards:
    • Sul Lago – Our favorite restaurant “South of the River.” The very first time we visited, we saw about a dozen or so people come in to order gift certificates at the bar!
    • Restaurants – We like to dine out, so any place we haven’t tried, under our Restaurant Impressions Wishlist will do. Otherwise, we always like to try other people’s favorites, so recommendations are welcome.
    • Kohl’s – I don’t buy clothes very often, but when I do it’s because I need something. Kohl’s is close and familiar. I like to save gift cards here as rewards to myself. I’ve found a lot of good deals on workout gear here, too!
    • Barnes & Noble – I don’t have a Kindle or Nook. I still read real books. But I really think B&N gift certificates are good for travel guidebooks. We love to travel. If you know someone is traveling somewhere, buy them the most current guidebook. Or, they can walk right into a store and flip through guidebooks to see which ones suit them best.
    • Spa – I don’t know any girl who wouldn’t appreciate a spa day or to choose their own spa treatment. Just a pedicure can do wonders.
    • Movies – We don’t go to the movies often, but when we do, we ask ourselves why we don’t do it more!
    • Car Washes & Oil Changes – Okay, this one sounds really impersonal. But truthfully, I hate spending money on this kind of stuff myself. So having a card to just use whenever it is needed would be so wonderful.
    • Amazon Gift Card – Well, because you can use it for ANYTHING!

All I truly need for Christmas is health, love, spending time with family and reconnecting with old friends.

However, sometimes we just fret over that perfect gift for a loved one. So I hope these his and hers lists inspire you with ideas for the rest of your shopping this year. Or sit down and make out your own list. You might just come up with something for someone else!

What is a gift you wouldn’t turn down?

Did this post give you any ideas for someone else?


World Run Day – A “Race” Recap


Did you know that Sunday 11/11/12 was World Run Day?

I decided to participate!

World Run Day was established in 1999 to promote running around the world as well as charitable giving. Anyone can participate, anywhere, run any distance and donate to a charitable cause of their choice. Some cities have racing events set up specifically for World Run Day. Some people decide to run on World Run Day as part of a group. I decided to run the “race” as an individual, since I do like running alone.

I planned to cross running around Lake Calhoun off my list as part of World Run Day if it was a nice day. Otherwise, if time didn’t permit, I would just run a route around my neighborhood. In addition, due to the flexibility of running it on my own, I changed my race date to Saturday – 11/10/12. The drawback is that they didn’t have my race bib ready for download, but I did have my World Run Day t-shirt which I planned to wear!

My cause:

Homeward Bound Rescue

Homeward Bound is the non-profit organization through which I adopted my beloved Sophie Jean back in 2005. I actually went to the adoption to look at another dog, but upon seeing him didn’t think it was a good fit. I passed by two crates of puppies. One of the pooches turned her head and looked up and me with these darling eyes. It was love at first sight. I picked her up and couldn’t put her down. I went home with Sophie Jean that day. We are currently living happily ever after. 😉

March 2005

The Week of the Race…

It was kind of a rough/busy week.

The previous week I actually had to take Sophie to the Emergency vet one night. Talk about scary!

Then, Monday turned out to be a binge day for me. I scarfed down cheese and crackers. I haven’t done that in a long time. I made a mental note of it, picked up and moved on.

Tuesday, I was still feeling a bit down. My husband encouraged me to run before dinner. Afterward, I felt much better!

Wednesday, we went downtown right after work to enjoy dinner and beers at the Acadia Cafe in Minneapolis. We walked across the street to attend a concert at the 400 Bar. Although it was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to {check out Shovels & Rope here!}, we didn’t get home until about 1am.

Then after little sleep and working all day Thursday, I had a Wine Tasting Thursday night. It was such a fun group of women and I got to see some people I haven’t seen in a really long time!

Still, by Friday, I was feeling very run down. I woke up with a nasty cough. I don’t get sick that often, so I thought it was really strange that I was getting this cough not long after getting a over a cold.

Then I had an epiphany.

This is the cough I would get once or twice a year in college. It didn’t hinder me from going to class or parties or out with friends. It’s just an annoying cough that comes from deep within my lungs. It’s rough sounding, kind of like a smoker’s hack, only I’ve never smoked a day in my life.

After all these years, I’ve finally  learned that this is my sign that I need to slow down…

That Friday morning, I also got up early to take my little Jean in to have her comprehensive exam, dental cleaning and some dental x-rays ordered by the ER vet. The poor little girl had to have two teeth extracted.

Still… Did you notice that all week, I only worked out ONCE?!

The Night Before…

After picking up Sophie from the vet and watering down her food so she could chew, she settled in for a long nap. My friend Stacy and her daughter, Delaney, were in town. So we dined at one of our favorite places to share a cheese plate – Enjoy! We also split a flatbread. {That’s kinda Mediterranean, right?}

Poached Pear Flatbread
poached pears, prosciutto, arugula and gorgonzola

We skipped our usual bottle of wine and opted for alternative beverage.s We knew we’d be splitting a bottle back at my place anyway!

We stopped and picked up dessert, too. Delaney was asking for cheesecake! And once we popped the cork on that bottle of wine, I enjoyed one of the best raspberry chocolate bars along with it.

We sipped and chatted up until midnight. {Can I just say that when Stacy and I get together we could talk for so many hours that we never truly catchup entirely?!}

I’m sure I wasn’t taking this as seriously as I would a “normal” race. But with Stacy and her four-and-a-half-year-old daughter staying over, I just wanted to relax and enjoy the company. Our plans for the following day were to just go with the flow. Which meant that I didn’t have a normal early “race time” and could even sleep in, as far as race times go!

Race Day…

When I woke, it was chilly, rainy and just all-around dreary outside. Bummer. My hopes of running around Lake Calhoun on perhaps the last beautiful day of the year went down the tubes. Sure, I’ve run in rainy, chilly, cloudy weather before. However, there was no way I was going to make Stacy drag her wee one to sit outside in that while I ran around a lake for 40 minutes before going to lunch with them. Besides, the nice weather that had been predicted was still in the forecast… just not until 2pm.

We still went to Uptown and enjoyed some Punch Neapolitan Pizza and had coffee at the Rustica Bakery afterward, for more chatting, of course! A double espresso is just what I needed to pick me up from this “lovely” weather.

Rustica Double Espresso

My mother-in-law had mentioned this bakery a couple of years back having heard about it from a friend when she mentioned her son lived in the Twin Cities. I love this place and highly recommend it if you are ever in the area around Lake Calhoun!

After I said my good-byes to Stacy and Delaney, I drank what I realized was my first glass of water of the day. DOH! Then I laced up my shoes and got ready for my World Run Day 5k run around the neighborhood.

I felt a little wonky at first. After all, I’d only run/worked out once that week. But I slowly worked my way up to feeling good and running at a decent pace for me. I got a few side stitches early on, which doesn’t happen to me often. But knowing that they’d eventually go away, I tried to focus on something else.

But then came the horrible feeling in my stomach. Despite the fact that I had enjoyed (too much) Italian-style thin crust pizza over three hours earlier, it wasn’t doing me any favors. Blech. Again, I told myself that the feeling would eventually go away. Yes, I was very uncomfortable for much of that first mile, but it was my fault for overeating and I was willing to take responsibility.

That is when the mental battle began in my head.

Here’s somewhat how it went:

“This sucks! I just want to stop and walk.”

“But you’ve only worked out once this entire week! And you’ve been indulging in a few more goodies than usual. You just HAVE to get this run in.”

“Ugh! But this is so hard today. I just can’t do it! I want to walk!”

“Well, how ’bout once you get half-way, you can stop and walk?”

“Okay, I’ll keep going.”

“But really, you haven’t walked in a race yet. Why start now?”

“Hmm.. That’s true.”

Then I started thinking about the cause I was running for.

What if running this entire race meant ALL of the animals for Homeward Bound were adopted?

Then I wouldn’t quit.

What if Sophie’s life depended on me running this entire race?

Then I wouldn’t quit.

These thoughts kept going through my head that it was enough to keep my mind occupied for a while. At this point, I realized that my pace had been pretty decent. So if I really was struggling and wanted to walk, why not just slow up a bit instead? I gave myself that permission.

And I finished it, without stopping to walk.

That, in and of itself, is success to me!

My time:

HRM – 38:45

RunKeeper – 37:41

I have no idea which one I started first and for some reason had a little trouble stopping my HRM clock. I’ll just split the difference in order to record an “official” time:


I have one more race scheduled this calendar year. But don’t worry, I’m not hanging up my running shoes altogether! I’m working on some HIIT, strength training and getting ready for my spring 10k.

Don’t forget that I’d like you and anyone else you know to join me on April 21st, 2013 for the Challenge Obesity 5k!

Info here!

Here is a list of my 5k race results for my own personal comparison:

  1. 38:54
  2. 38:20
  3. 38:40
  4. 36:08
  5. 38:27
  6. 37:44
  7. 35:35
  8. 38:13
  • The Event: World Run Day 2012
  • The Location: Anywhere.
    • My location: Lake Calhoun Around my neighborhood.
  • The Date: November 11, 2012.
    • My Date: November 10, 2012 – 3pm
  • Night Before Dinner: Cheese plate and flatbread at Enjoy!
  • Pre-race Breakfast Lunch: Punch Pizza
  • My Time: 38:13
  • The Weather: High 60s in November!? Unheard of in Minnesota!
  • Attire: World Run Day T-shirt and long running pants – it was too hot for these!
  • General Feeling: Frustration, but pushed through.
  • Uniqueness: Anyone/Anytime/Anywhere. Supporting a cause that matters to me: Homeward Bound Rescue
  • Size: 2435 people worldwide. At the “race” – just me! I like to run alone. I’m alone with my thoughts!
  • The Goods: World Run Day T-shirt and bib#
  • The Grub: Not included. {But seriously, I already had my share of eats that day/week.}

What causes do you support and why?