Friday, December 17, 2010

The Best of 2010

Another year is coming to a close! I can’t believe how time seems to just fly right on by. Here are some of my favorite things and memories of the past year:

1. “Modern Family”. Nothing beats watching this quirky family. You laugh, you cry (or sigh) and everything wraps up at the end. The best ones were The Earthquake (“I thought you might be thirsty so I brought you some soda. You finished all the wine last night. Oh, and I couldn’t find a straw so you’re gonna have to lap it up like cats.”), the one with the flash mob, and the one where they poke fun at Gloria’s accent. “Baby Jesus” and “Deer in the head lice”!

2. “Biggest Loser”. This show is always so inspiring. Although I technically haven’t lost weight in a while, I have lost inches. I will always love watching people change their lives for the better.

3. The “Grilled Cheesus” episode of “Glee”. I’m not a huge fan of this show. Sometimes it can be brilliant, and other times it’s just awful. Nothing can beat this episode. It was moving, it was funny, and it was deep.


1. “Inception”. GENIUS. That is all.

2. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1”. Duh, it’s Harry Potter! I love how the books and movies grow up with the characters. Everything is so intertwined.

3. “Easy A”. Hilarious! This is one to buy and watch over and over again. It’s on the same level as “Mean Girls”.


1. Band of Horses. I just discovered them, so I love all of it!

2. Sia. Love her voice. Her second album is really pop-like, which, after seeing an interview, is what she wanted from it. It’s a great album to listen to in the morning.

3. Florence and the Machine- “Lungs”. AMAZING. Love this whole album! 4 tracks are on my running playlist. Her voice is so haunting, yet so great.

4. Katy Perry- “Firework”. I know, I know- it’s Katy Perry. BUT, this song will forever remind me of running at mile 7.5 in my first half marathon and it was so moving for me. It was emotional and motivating. “Maybe the reason why so many doors are closed is so you can open one that leads to the perfect road.” (Or something to that effect, I’m paraphrasing.)


1. “The Hunger Games Trilogy” by Suzanne Collins. Thrilling, intriguing, politically charged- what a great read!

2. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” by J. K. Rowling. This one is my favorite of the series. Harry finally has an adult to look up to. And then… well, you just have to read the series!

3. “Attonement” by Ian McEwan. Beautifully written. This truly is a piece of literature.

4. “The Book Thief” by Zusak. An emotional story of Nazi Germany from a young German girl’s point of view. Touching. Depressing. Great read.

5. “Sarah’s Key”. I forget the author, but this book is worth the read. Another World War II story, but from a different perspective.

Best Accomplishment: First half-marathon, Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio, November 13. Such an amazing experience. I’m afraid that the next half will hurt more now that I’ve run one!

Best Concert: It’s a tie: Dave Matthews Band, September 10, and Mae, November 21. DMB is always great. I’ll miss them next year. Mae was very nostalgic, and they are such great guys! Great night of music and memories.

Best Party: Dad’s 50th last week! :)

Goals for 2011:

Get a full time teaching job. (Become self-sufficient again. New car, new place, etc.)

Run faster! I want to get my 5k closer to 30:00.

2011 is going to be a great year!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A (Running) Reflection

If you hadn't already noticed from my ten other posts, I ran a 10 mile race on Saturday. Last year on 10/11/2009, I ran in my first 5k (about 38:00, I think, but not officially timed). I've come a long way in a year and I'm so proud of it. I never thought I'd become a runner, and now I'm running ten miles and training for more. It's proof that even with asthma, anything is possible.

I started running around August in Arizona last year. I had just graduated with my Masters in theatre history and was discovering that the job market sucks-- even for clerical and retail jobs. I felt like a failure, with no direction or goals in life. I knew that in 5 years or so I wanted to go back and get my PhD, but first I needed money (and preferably teaching experience of some sort). It just wasn't happening, and the summer heat was driving me nuts. After working out on the Wii Active, I finally decided to just run around the neighborhood to see how it felt. It was still 90 degrees at 8 o'clock at night and I was severely out of shape, even considering I was working out on the Wii 20-30 minutes a day. But you know what? I just threw on some old shoes, grabbed my iPod, and ran. I just did it. And I wanted to get better. Even with just a one mile run, I felt tired and my lungs burned. At night, as I lay in bed about to fall asleep, I could feel exhaustion and my lungs felt different. A few weeks into my running, I decided to try a 5k. Lucky for me, we had some family friends living in the area and they were happy to run the Race for the Cure in Phoenix with me. That was my first taste of the racing atmosphere and I fell in love. Although I couldn't run the entire 3.1 miles, I knew I wanted to eventually. Having the goal to be better at my running, and my health, really kept me going through tough times. And it still does. Working retail is not fun most times, and I know if I didn't run to release stress I would be in really bad shape physically and emotionally.

One thing that keeps me running is when I went to the doctor in February, the PA noticed right away after listening to my heart that I'm a runner. Instead of getting a report that I was doing okay for my age, I received a stellar report on my health. I never realized how awesome that feeling is! I don't want to just get by, I want to be awesome! I hope I continue to run all of my life, even if it's only a few miles every few days. There's nothing like a good run, especially on a stressful day! Thank the Lord!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Parenting Skills I've Acquired While Working at Borders

Working retail is no picnic, but it is teaching me a lot of things about life. We get a lot of parents with their kids in the store on a daily basis. We have a great kids section that draws them there. However, I've noticed that it's usually the lazy parents that bring their kids in. Or, on a dark note, most parents are lazy. Either way, here is a list of parenting skills I've learned from these parents.

1. It's completely okay to wheel in a screaming kid in their stroller. It doesn't matter if it's nap time and the poor thing just wants to be at home in bed. What is important is that I'm shopping while the kid is stuck, screaming, in the stroller. Also, no one else cares about the noise.

2. Letting my child wander around the store unattended while I sit in the cafe jabbering on the phone is fine. They can entertain themselves, break stuff, and get kidnapped by some crazy person who walks into the store.

3. If my child breaks something, just put it back on the shelf and walk away. Better yet, just leave it on the floor like it belongs there.

4. To get my child to listen, I just repeat myself over and over again without even looking at them. They'll eventually listen.

5. If my child is throwing a fit while at the register, I just buy them a wind-up toy or candy to shut them up even though I'm positively reinforcing a bad behavior.

Honestly, every time I see things like this happen, it makes me not want kids. I can't deal with a snot-nosed brat. But, then again, those kids are the way they are because their parents made them that way.

"That's all I have to say about that." -Forrest Gump

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Heat Has Caught Up

I haven't posted all summer. I don't know why. I guess things just kind of settled into a boring normal. Or it's just too hot to do anything. What San Antonio really needs is some rain to cool things off a few degrees. People say that in Texas there are only two seasons: Summer and Not Summer. Well, I'm ready for Not Summer already!

I've registered for both the 10 for Texas and the Rock 'n Roll San Antonio half marathon, and the fact that it's so hot outside really stresses me out. I can't run in this heat and I get bored on the treadmill so the most I can do is just over 4 miles. I have a long way to go (literally) when the weather decides to cool down. I'll have to really step up the training and really make sure I'm eating what I should instead of what I want. It's funny; most people gain weight in the winter and lose in the summer, where I feel it's the opposite for me. It's too hot to do anything, and in the winter it's just the right temp to run really far.

Usually I used my blog to post book and movie reviews and I just haven't done it. I've still been reading and I've seen some pretty great films, but I just haven't written about them.

I've read "The Forgotten Garden" by Kate Morton, which was interesting. I'm still in the middle of reading "Gone with the Wind" and "The People's History of the United States", as well as "The Book Thief", which I plan to finish in the next few days.

Audrey Niffenegger, the author of "The Time Traveler's Wife", wrote another book recently called "Her Fearful Symmetry." I was really disappointed in this one. It had great potential to be something unique and great, and then in one page it took a wrong turn into being a bad eighties movie. I grew to dislike certain characters, although I don't think that was the author's intention. It was just... blah. If you like ghost stories, then you might like this. Otherwise, it's not worth the time.

I saw "Inception" last month and it blew me away. I'm a fan of Chris Nolan's Batman films, and "Inception" was even more amazing. It has been a really long time since I've seen a film that great. Lately all the blockbusters have been boring "Hangover"s and the like. "Inception" is like a breath of fresh air for the movie goer and really made me like film again.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Anything but Normal

This month has been crazy, to say the least. Last month I set a goal to lose 10 lbs in May and I'm only halfway there with one week to go. So, for June my goal is 5 more lbs, and maybe by the end of August I'll have 5 more after that. :) I only have the freshman 15 to go, anyway!

I finished reading "Atonement" by Ian McEwan about a week ago. McEwan is an artist when it comes to writing novels. I'll admit that it did take me a while to get into the story and get used to his writing style. However, with that said, no one but McEwan could tell this story and have it be as beautiful as it is in his form. Every detail that he mentioned need to be in the story for it to have the intense impact that it does, even to the very end. I have yet to see the film, but I will try to get Theresa to put it on her Netflix line up.

I've been obsessive about buying plays lately. I bought a few of Wendy Wasserstein's plays and read "The Heidi Chronicles" the other night and loved it! I didn't have time in grad school to actually read the play. Instead another student did a presentation on it, which, to me, is definitely not the same. I also read "How I Learned to Drive" by Paula Vogel when I got home from work this morning and loved that one, too. I have more Sarah Ruhl plays to read and "In the Blood" by Susan Lori-Parks. All fabulous women!

Theresa and I are getting ready for Zumba at the gym; I'm excited because I've never taken a zumba class before! It should be fun! :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

On a Mission: Lose 10 lbs in May!

Recently I've felt a major running slump and noticed a nosedive in my diet. I've been really stressed, sick with allergies, and just afraid of the warm/hot weather. I've also been working a lot, and with the two new employees I'm sure my hours will do down, too, leaving me broke but with more time to workout.

So here's my plan: May is National Runner's Month, so I'm going to make the most of it and add strength training into the mix. I have two valuable resources already when it comes to strength training. I have the Wii Active game, as well as Wii Fit. However, I feel the Wii Active will provide the continuous workout that I need. I also have Jillian Micheal's "30 Day Shred" DVD and let me tell you, it is a KILLER. So far I know that I will not need to spend any money on workouts because I already have those, and some awesome new running kicks and clothes. With regards to the workouts, I've made a plan based on my work schedule (which can change on a weekly basis and I have no control over it). Basically it's 2 days of strength training and 3 days of cardio.

Monday: Strength training on the Wii or Jillian DVD after work (usually 8 hour work shift)
Tuesday: Cardio day: run 3 miles easy before work (usually an evening shift)
Wednesday: Cardio day: 3 miles easy, finish with a loop of hills in the neighborhood
Thursday: (day off) Strength training with Wii or Jillian DVD. Supplemental cardio: run 3 miles easy.
Friday: (day off) Cardio: Run 4.5 miles easy.

Throughout the month I will gradually increase the intensity of the workouts so that by the last Friday in May I will be back to running 6.3 miles and hopefully be at Level 3 in Jillian's DVD.

Also, one last goal: TO CONQUER THE PUSH-UP! I will have awesome arms and no longer fear the push-up by the end of the month!!

So, after posting this, I'm asking anyone who reads this to join in if you need motivation to feel great, and to also hold me accountable for this! I know I really need the motivation to get back into a routine (and I'm excited to see how my bikini fits this year!).

In January I pledged to lose 18 pounds in the Pound for Pound Challenge. I know that I won't make it, but if I lose 10 this month, I'll be at 12, which is amazing! Please join me if you need the motivation!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Oscar Wao

I recently finished "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz. Two of my friends suggested this book and I am so glad they did. From the very first page I knew this was going to be a great experience in literature. Diaz's writing style is so refreshing from the generic fiction writers and he actually had me laughing out loud, which I rarely do when I read. Diaz really paints the picture of life in the Dominican Republic in the 40s to the present day and evokes sympathy for his main character. One of the things that impressed me was the way he captured the female experience of his characters living in the "DR". Another great thing is Diaz's use of footnotes throughout the novel. Not only are they helpful for those of us who do not know the history and politics of the DR (which is the majority of us), but they provide comic relief, as well. Diaz tells a great story about love and the sacrifices people will endure for that love.

I watched "An Education" a while ago and forgot to write about it. This film was great and had me really into it the entire time. Peter Sarsgaard puts on a fantastic performance. You never know if his character is a good guy or bad guy. I spent the entire film waiting for him to be bad, but I'm not sure if that is my prior experience with the male species of humans or if the script was written this way. I enjoyed it.

"Sherlock Holmes" is also a great film with wonderful acting by Robert Downing, Jr. and Jude Law. I also love Rachel McAdams and she never fails to deliver a great performance. I'm thinking about buying this one at Blockbuster when they sell their previously viewed DVDs for cheap.

I also read "The Last Child" by John Hart, but it's not worth blogging about. It was depressing.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Kasey vs. Running In the Heat

I've never really been a warm/hot weather person. Except, of course, floating the river on a 100+ degree day. Other than that, I'd much rather be cold than hot. I started running at night in August while living in Arizona. It was still close to 90 degrees outside, but I was so out of shape that the heat didn't matter. As the weather got cooler, I got better at running. In fact, I LOVE when it's cold outside. I think it makes me run faster. My perfect running temperature is 45-50 degrees: I can wear my light gray sweater and unzip as needed and still feel warm but not overheated or cold.

I don't know what to do with all this sunshine and heat. I bought new clothes, and I love all the tops I bought. I bought bright colors so I can be seen at sunset and possibly complete darkness. I know that later in the summer I will not be running when the sun is out. HELL NO. The shorts I bought on sale are really great and comfortable to run in. Those were a good choice. I also bought a running skirt because I think they are cute. I tested it out today and it was an epic fail. The little shorts under the skirt wouldn't stay put. I'm just not a running skirt kind of girl. So, with the right combination of clothes I think I can beat this heat. Now to find the right time of day...

I've been running in the early afternoon lately due to working evenings and things happening in the evenings. The afternoon is all I have. So for now, I struggle to complete a good run in the heat. I know when summer comes, I will have to muster up the energy to run after a 7 or 8 hour shift on my feet work (that is, when I get home around 7 or 8 at night. I will not be running after I close at night). I'm hoping the new Runner's World magazine will have some summer running tips.

My new shoes are great! I just wish I could give them a good run instead of walking so much.

I'll be doing the Muddy Trails 10k in The Woodlands this weekend. I think the last time I ran 6 miles was the Rodeo Run 10k. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

I've been waiting to read this one for a few years. I thought it might be interesting because I'm a theatre historian, however, this novel has a different twist. It's a vampire tale. It's not your average "emo vampire" love story that is rampant today, but a more carefully crafted story based on an actual historical character, Vlad Tepes from Wallachia (in Romania). I was intrigued, and I'm glad I chose this book. I know it will probably be my last vampire novel because vampires are CREEPY. I have no idea how vampires turned into a romantic figure, and I don't want to know. If I see a vampire in my life time, I'm running the other way. I do recommend this book because it is suspenseful, but can also be slow. It's the story of tracking down the vampire through historical research, which is interesting to me and I know it's not interesting to some people.

On another vampire note, I had to work the midnight DVD release party for New Moon. Ugh. Lots of screaming girls and grumpy mothers at midnight to buy a stupid movie.

Theresa rented "Whip It" the other day and we finally watched it tonight. I approve of this film! It was really cute, and to top it off, it takes place in Austin! A lot of known actors are in the film, and it has great laughing moments as well as great mother-daughter scenes. I will probably buy this one from Blockbuster when it goes on sale next year.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

This was another make title at the store but it looked interesting so I picked it up. Just like "Reliable Wife", I read this one in a matter of days. It's a story about two women from very different parts of the globe. One is a young girl escaping death in Nigeria and seeking sanctuary in England. It's a gripping tale, and I encourage anyone who wants to laugh and cry while reading the same book to definitely check this one out. It makes you think about what the price of a human life is and how some people can forget that we are all invaluable.

I saw "Inglourious Basterds" the other night and LOVED it. Tarentino has been one of my favorite directors and this one has to be my favorite, surpassing both Kill Bill films. The ending was amazing, and Brad Pitt's character offered the perfect comic relief in such a horrible time. Justice is served in so many ways and I literally clapped my hands and cheered at the way things played out. Excellent!

I'm still on the prowl for summer running clothes, although I found a bright colored tank for cheap at Walmart! I'm thinking about getting a running skirt, too. Hey, I may sweat like a pig, but I'm still a lady! :)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Roasted Veggies and Couscous!

Sorry for two posts in one day, but I made a really great dinner tonight. I got the idea from Bobby Flay and got the recipe online at Here it is!

Toasted Israeli Couscous with Vegetables and Lemon-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Serves 4

1/2 pound Israeli couscous
12 spears asparagus, grilled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 zucchini, halved, grilled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 yellow squash " "
2 large red peppers, grilled, peeled and diced into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
2 tbspn chopped fresh basil
freshly ground black pepper
Lemon-vinaigrette: recipe follows

Heat large saute pan on grates of the grill over medium heat. Add couscous and toast until lightly golden brown.

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil over high heat, add 1 tablespoon salt and toasted couscous and cook until al dente. Drain well and place in a large bowl. Add grilled vegetables, olives, basil, and vinaigrette and toss until combined; season with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving or cover and refrigerate.

Lemon-Balsamic Vinaigrette:
1 small shallot, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk shallot, juice, zest, vinegars, and salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in oil until emulsified.

[I just used Newman's Own Lime Vinaigrette instead of making my own, and I added roma tomatoes and a yellow pepper]


Milestones and "The Lost City of Z"

I ran my first 10k last weekend! The amazing this is, I ran the entire thing at a pretty steady pace without completely tiring out. We had a pit stop so Nick could propose to Liz before we rounded the corner to the finish line. It was so sweet! My official chip time (which includes the proposal) was 1:13. I consider that a huge achievement and I'm excited to run another race! I found a great website that lists area races and I'm trying to get Corey to run a 5k with me in San Marcos in a few weeks.

On another running note, I need to train my body to run in warm/hot weather. It's finally warming up here in Texas and I realize that I haven't run in the heat. Of course it was hot in Arizona, but I always waited until the sun went down to run. Running with the sun beating down is not my cup of tea, but I just need to train my body to get used to it and invest in some summer weather running clothes to keep me cool.

I finished reading "The Lost City of Z" last night. It was one of our make titles at the store so I bought it. It was really interesting, and even though it's a non-fiction account of history, it's written like a novel. In 1925, Colonel Percy Fawcett disappeared in the Brazilian jungle with his oldest son and his friend in search of evidence of a large civilization deep in the jungle. It is estimated that over one hundred people have ventured into the jungle in search of his remains and his city. I recommend this book to anyone looking to read about adventure. This is as real as it gets! You have to check it out, just look at this awesome picture! He was literally one of the last explorers to hack through the thick jungle with just a machete while others brought along radios, hydroplanes, expeditions with nearly a hundred men. I'm not going to tell you if they found the city, that's part of the adventure!

My only goal today is to go grocery shopping and clean the bathroom. I feel like doing nothing but popping in a movie because of the gloomy clouds. But I will get it done- I work tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"The Color Purple" by Alice Walker

I have no idea what took me so long to read this novel. It's amazing. I don't even know what else to say. I've read short stories by Alice Walker and loved them, but this novel is by far the best I've read in a long time.

Walker tells the story of two sisters through their eyes, individually. There lives unfold through letters to God and to each other as one sister goes on a missionary trip to Africa. The lives of Celie in the southern United States and Nettie in Africa intertwine as both girls realize that there are cultural differences within the African people that separate them from African-Americans.

In the South, Celie deals with life as it comes to her, from her arranged marriage to an ungrateful man, to the arrival of love with Shug Avery, and the discovery that her children are still alive and well with Nettie in Africa. Celie knows no labels other than colored and white, and her view of God is touching, and probably right.

If you haven't read this novel, you better get to it! It's amazing and you won't want to go through life without it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Eat, Pray, Run!

I just finished reading "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. I must say, I have mixed reviews about it, but mostly I'm just jealous that she was able to travel the world for an entire year and write about it. And made millions of dollars off of it. I would love to go to South Africa, and recently I've been thinking about how cool it would be to run my first full marathon in Capetown. I have no idea how I'm going to get there, though... The book was a good read, and I do recommend it for any woman (and men!) that need spiritual uplifting and confidence to get to know themselves on a deeper level when life gets tough.

As you know, I've been running a lot lately. I recently got my distance up to 6 miles and I am very happy with this. The RodeoRun 10K is on the 27th, so I'm happy to be ready for it so early. Being a runner (I now officially call myself "a runner") makes me more conscious about what I eat, especially before and after a long run. It's made me think of food in a different way. I think about it as fuel, as natural energy to keep my body going through the work day and through a long run. Theresa and I went to a book sale at the local library and she got a South Beach Diet cookbook. I'm not into fad diets, but we tried the Mexican Chicken Soup recipe and fell in love. I'm posting it here for your enjoyment, as well!

"South Beach Diet" Mexican Chicken Soup

1 tbspn canola oil
1 small onion
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tspn ground cumin
5 cups lower-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch strips
2 cups mild refrigderated fresh salsa (we used the pico-like stuff at HEB near the organic section)
salt and freshly ground black

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and jalapeno; cook, stirring often, until vegetables are tender, 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cumin; cook 30 seconds more.
Add broth, increase heat to high, and bring to a rapid simmer. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Stir in salsa, bring back to a simmer, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot. (We added sliced avocado, and fat-free shredded cheese).

Makes 4 (2 1/4 cup) servings.
Per serving: 320 calories, 8g fat, 1.5 sat fat, 46g protein, 14g carb, 2g dietary fiber, 680mg sodium.

From: Agaston, Arthur. "The South Beach Diet Quick and Easy Cookbook: 200 Delicious Recipes Ready in 30 Minutes or Less." Rodale, Inc., 2005.

On the food note, I recently saw "Julie and Juila" for the first time and loved it! I will definitely by the book and maybe try to make one of Julia Child's recipes myself. Very inspiring and cute film.

Bon appetite!

Monday, January 18, 2010

J. K. Rowling's "Harry Potter"

Yes, I am reading the "Harry Potter" series! Surprising, I know, but when my good friends keep on insisting that the writing is worth it, I had to check it out. I am on on the last book already and I liked all of the previous ones, except for the fifth in the series: "The Order of the Phoenix". That one made me really mad for a few reasons that I cannot say without spoiling the plot if you haven't read. My favorites as of now are the first one: "The Sorcerer's Stone" ("The Philosopher's Stone" if you're British), and the third one: "The Prisoner of Azkaban". Those books stand out to me because of the genius plot twists, and nothing matches the novelty of the first book. I've only seen a few of the movies, but I already know that they do no justice to the books. Harry Potter's story is intriguing and I'm glad I'm reading the books, but I don't see the huge obsession. J. K. Rowling is really creative and she had to have had all of these books planned out down to most details. Kudos to her.

I haven't updated lately because I've been moving back to Texas, working on a teacher certification program, working at Borders bookstore, running 4+ miles a few times a week, and reading Harry Potter. Life is good. :)