Now, that’s a steal!

By , July 23, 2016 5:38 am


Thank you, ShoeKicker, for notifying me of the deal! I am surprised the shoes were still available when I saw the notification email three and a half hours later. Lucky me!


Even though I have running shoes waiting to be used in storage, I couldn’t pass up $30 a pair – no way! And somehow, I got Amazon Prime savings, so my total before taxes ended up being $26.98 a pair! Score!!! Soooooo many exclamation points! Ha.

Now, for the heat to die down, so I can really ramp up the miles and use those bad boys. Oh wait, we’re just getting started with the super nasty heat here! Oh, summer.

Attack of the killer ear plugs

By , July 22, 2016 6:00 am

When we were staying at the rental house in Alaska, I used my ear plugs a few times at night – our room was right next to the bathroom and there was air in the pipes*, so it was super loud whenever anyone used it.

One night, I woke up, and both ear plugs were not in my ears. Typical. I found one and put it on the nightstand, but couldn’t find the other. I gave up and figured it would be stuck to me when I woke up. Nope. Still couldn’t find it in the morning, with the full daylight! That’s odd.

When I came back to the room later in the morning after my run, there it was, sitting on the bed. It definitely was NOT there in the am! I felt like I was losing my mind!

So I see Steven after I get done showering after my run (he was still sleeping when I left for it earlier) and he tells me that he woke up in the middle of the night and saw a bug on his chest. There was enough light to see it, but not to tell what kind of bug it was. He didn’t have any tissue to kill it with, and he didn’t want to grab it with his hand (ick!) so he grabbed the nearest thing to kill it with – a sock.

In the morning, he was worried about opening up his sock to see what disgusting bug he killed with it. It had to be pretty nasty to be big enough to see when it was mostly dark in the room.

Then he found my ear plug in his sock.

Ha ha ha. That explains it! How it got on his chest though? I’ll never figure that out…


Data was not in Alaska, but he likes to pose for blog pictures!

*I am not sure I would have known what the noise was last year, but we actually had an issue with air in our pipes at our house when we were trying to get the old water treatment system to work, so I am very familiar with the noise, now!

Eleven Year Blogiversary GIVEAWAY!!!

By , July 21, 2016 6:09 am

Thank goodness for my google calendar – otherwise I totally would have forgotten that today is my 11-year blogiversary!

I started in 2005 to keep in touch with my family when I lived in Rome (I lived there spring/summer 2006 – I wanted to practice blogging early, I suppose!). I choose my then-last-name, Ilax, with the word “studio” for the blog title since I was an architecture student at the time.

My blog has changed a bit since then, but it’s still my space for story telling and sharing what’s on my mind. I love documenting what we’re up to and the little things that make me smile. And I’ve met SO MANY friends through blogging. So. Many. It’s amazing. Thank you for reading!!!

As a thank you, I have a little giveaway! You can enter to win ONE of the items below!


#1 Starbucks You Are Here Alaska Mug (seen above)
#2 $10 Starbucks Giftcard
#3 $10 iTunes Giftcard

Eleven Year  Blogiversary GIVEAWAY!!! Rules

  1. Three individual readers will receive a prize. Which prize received will be determined by YOU (see rule #2).
  2. REQUIRED to enter the giveaway: leave a comment telling me you want to enter, and which prize you’d like (pick one). 
  3. This giveaway is open until 12:00 PM CST on Sunday July 24. I will announce the winners on Sunday July 24 (in the training recap post).
  4. will pick the three winners.
  5. This giveaway is open to all readers, in all locations.

NOTE: I am paying for all of these items, and shipping, myself.

Also, note, the boys wanted to be in the mug photo:


Thanks again for reading, and commenting!

More for me, then

By , July 20, 2016 12:23 pm

Sigh. I was trying to tell a group of people at work about a delicious watermelon mojito I had yesterday, because alcohol is something this group talks about often, and for once, I had something to share (I rarely drink!).


But, I didn’t get to describe the drink, at all. They immediately asked where it was from, and when I said the name of the restaurant and they didn’t know it, and I said it was “up north,” the conversation turned in to “Up north?! Don’t you live in Wisconsin?!” And “that’s so far,” and so on.

So, basically… don’t share anything about the area you live in cause it’s WAY TOO FAR, OMG. Blah.

My boss did chime in to say it doesn’t take long to get to my house. Ha.

The interesting thing about the restaurant where I got this drink is that our neighbor owns it! And he was actually standing outside when we walked in. But, we haven’t been able to say hello in person in the neighborhood yet, and I thought it would be a bit dorky/weird to walk up to him and be all “I live across the street from you!” so I restrained myself (and luckily he wasn’t outside when I walked out because I was a little bit more obnoxious after having the drink).

I will make sure though, whenever I do talk to him, to ask what he was thinking to have a restaurant so far north, basically in Wisconsin. I mean, do the people out there actually pay to eat food? They don’t just hunt and gather it all from the forest?!

Less reality, more beach

By , July 19, 2016 5:10 pm


What a nice, momentary escape*.

And pretty cool that it’s fifteen minutes from my house. This was the first time I went to a Lake Michigan beach** – and I’ve lived here nine years!

*Minus the children throwing rocks at birds, which really bothers me.
**To do beach things – I’ve been by Lake Michigan plenty of times.

Training Week 352

By , July 18, 2016 7:49 pm

Highlight of the Week: Running with Kelly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Monday | July 11, 2016: 10 m ride + teaching strength class
Indoor Ride Time: 38:34, Pace: 15.6 mph avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good
Strength: resistance bands and mixed mode, Difficulty: easy, Felt: too hot, off

Tuesday | July 12, 2016: rest
Wednesday | July 13, 2016: 5 m run (incl. 6×400) + 7 m run
Loc: hood, Temp: 82°/82°, Time: 48:59, Pace: 9:47 avg, Difficulty: medium, Felt: okay, JUST SO HOT
Loc: to VP Woods, Temp: 86°/85, Time: 1:12:01, Pace: 10:17 avg, Difficulty: medium, Felt: decent, just hot hot hot

Thursday | July 14, 2016: 4 m run
Loc: hood, Temp: 85°/87°, Time: 39:35, Pace: 9:53 avg, Difficulty: easy/medium, Felt: very appreciative of the 20+ mph winds
Friday | July 15 2016: teaching strength class + 1,000 m swim (breaststroke) + 15 m ride + 6 m run
Strength: resistance bands and mixed mode, Difficulty: easy, Felt:good
Loc: Grayslake outdoor pool, Temp (air): 63°, Time: 28:47, Pace: 2:51 min/100m, Difficulty: medium, Felt: tired arms, pooped!
Indoor Ride Time: 55:54, Pace: 16.1 mph, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good
Loc: hood, Temp: 65°/65°, Time: 55:44, Pace: 9:17, Difficulty: easy, Felt: great, yay cool weather!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday | July 16, 2016: 15 m run 
Loc: DPRT, Temp: 56°/66°, Time: 2:36:36, Pace: 10:26 avg, Difficulty: medium then easy then medium, Felt: good, but warmer than I thought I’d get!
Sunday | July 17, 2016: 7 m ride + 3 m run (w/Kelly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
Indoor Ride Time: 27:39, Pace: 15.2 mph avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good to shake out the legs!
Loc: Lake Andrea, Temp: 83°/83°, Time: 27:55, Pace: 9:18 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good, hot when not running in to the wind!


  • These bullets are usually in chronological order but I am moving this one to the top – my training partner, Kelly, who I haven’t seen in just over a year was here on Sunday!!!! And she’s here through Tuesday. And we got to run together! And it was amazing!!!! MUCH HAPPINESS!!!!
  • My legs feel so swollen and odd during my runs lately. I can’t tell if it’s from the heat, if I am retaining water, or from them being covered in poison whatever. Whatever it is, I hope it goes away soon (<—I wrote this at the beginning of the week and it seemed better by Sunday, yay!).
  • Gosh, my Friday swim took it out of me! I swam slower than I normally do, but took less breaks and I felt like I was going to sink toward the end, then was all shaky when I got out. Odd!
  • The two days of cool weather we had on Friday and Saturday were such a wonderful reprieve from the hot summer weather. And a good reminder that running is so much easier when it’s cooler. Ha. Although, the sun still got to me on Saturday!
  • I still can’t believe how well that corn remover bandage worked! I haven’t had any issues with it since I used it! Yay!

Link to Training Week 351


By , July 17, 2016 1:48 pm

We haven’t seen Peoples, the raccoon, in forever! Sadly, I have seen what looks like the remains of Peoples, near the street. The circle of life is hard*. Maybe living here will make me less sensitive about wild animal death? Maybe? Doubtful.

So, no Peoples, but this baby raccoon has been showing up A LOT in our yard.

160710Rocky 160716Rocky1

We’ve named him Rocky. Maybe he knew Peoples, and that is who taught him how to hang like this? Ha ha.


I know they’re horrible and unclean and destroy things but they’re SO fun to watch!

*OMG, speaking of the circle of life**, I was watching a documentary on Netflix this week about Antarctica, and they were talking about the seals that don’t make it out in to the water before it freezes in the winter, and are stuck on dry land and how they aren’t allowed to help them. THEN THEY SHOW A SEAL CRYING FOR HELP!!!! OMG. I about cried. BLAH.
**Also circle of life related… I have just been telling myself that this (photo below) is poop, and it’s red because there are raspberries in the yard. That’s gotta be it. No other possibilities.


An outdoor space to enjoy

By , July 16, 2016 5:54 am

Steven brought home our picnic chairs from storage a few weeks ago, and I took them up to the balcony off our bedroom. A few times this week I ran, then threw a towel on a chair and cooled off outside, while Data hung out with me.

160713chillinonthecatio 160714dataonthecatio

Surprisingly, we get a nice breeze up there, and the mosquitoes stay away (there are just a few flies and bees (the bees are eating the wood off the balcony… little effers)).

Yesterday, it was cooler (YAY!!!) and I knitted a bit, while Data hung out with me.


Steven has come out a few times too!

I cannot express how nice it is to have our own outdoor space to enjoy! It’s such a pleasure. At our townhome, we had a “yard” but didn’t have any space outside to relax. And really, our neighborhood was too loud, and there were so many loose dogs, it wasn’t relaxing at all. It got to the point that we didn’t ever want to be outside, around our own home. Blah. It was a horrible feeling.

So, it’s such a nice change here! I can’t wait to see how we expand our outdoor living space over the years! We have two wooden patios off of the first floor, and plenty of space outside for lawn chairs, a hammock, and a fire pit… what else do we need? Ha ha.

Still a Club Dread member

By , July 15, 2016 9:53 am

I was inexplicably anxious about renewing my drivers license by the end of the month (when it expires). The anxiety all started when I got the notification to renew it a month and a half ago. The problem being that the notification went to my old house – crap, I forgot to tell the DMV I moved! So I was going to need all these extra documents to prove my new address. I was so stressed I would bring all of the documents and still not have the right ones, and have to go back home to get the right information, then come back, and try all over again.

So you’d think I’d try to get it taken care of right away, but no, I put it off. I put a note in my calendar to do it two weeks before the license would expire, which happened to be today. I even forgot I was going to do it today until I was making plans with a friend a few weeks ago for tonight and saw the calendar appointment.


I didn’t sleep well last night. I tossed and turned and had strange dreams. I was all worked up/worried about a friend of mine who lives in Nice and was not responding to messages to see if she was okay (she finally checked in in the am and had a horrible eye witness story of what happened).

I went and taught class, then went for a swim after class. What’s normally a relaxing swim left me exhausted. I left the pool all shaky, like I did after I tried to swim as fast as I could in a race last year (yet, this was a slow, easy swim)! I still felt shaky when I got home.

By the time I got to the DMV I was all jacked up, like I was about to race a 5K. Difficulty breathing, elevated heart rate, shaky legs, all sweaty, the whole package. WTF.

When I got up to the counter, and they asked me what forms I brought to prove my change of residence, I said the wrong names of the forms and got a “we don’t take those” response.  Um, what? Your website says you do. She looked at them and told me they were okay. Phew.

But I still felt so nervous until I got out of there (and really, even after I left). I don’t know what the hell my deal was/is. All I had to do was take a vision test, pay them, and retake my license photo. But my adrenaline was all high.


When you go swimming, take a shower, then get your new driver’s license… also, when you wear sun glasses for your runs and get a strange tan on your face, ha!

I think dreading it for so long made me build it up to be this big thing in my head. I need to quit doing that. It was no big deal, everyone there was super nice and I was in and out in forty minutes. Chill out, Kim.

Seriously, I need to work on this, in a big way. It would really improve my quality of life to leave Club Dread.

On a side note, the guy filling out my forms for me asked me a few questions about my Garmin watch. I actually get a lot of questions on my watch. One time a stranger was leaving the train, walked by me, saw I was wearing it and turned around and asked me questions about it, ha ha. I wonder how many people have gone on to get them after I told them about it! Conclusion – Garmin should sponsor me. Muah ha ha.

House Updates!

By , July 14, 2016 12:47 pm

Random house updates time!

There’s a few things we worked on in June that I haven’t documented yet. I actually keep a running spreadsheet of the dates and projects we work on, but I like to post it here too, for narrative/photo documentation.

Project 1 – pulling ethernet cable

To get internet at our house, we have a wireless antenna mounted outside on the side of the house (cable is not available where we live). We wanted to pull ethernet cable from the antenna (which is by the attic) to our first floor office (where our network switch is), so Steven had the brilliant idea of running the cable through the old central vacuum tubing that runs in the house! The tubing already ran from the second floor to the basement, so Steven bought more tubing to run it in to the attic (to connect to the antenna). This required some demolition in our second floor hallway!

160530ethernetproject1 160530ethernetproject2 160530ethernetproject3

The new vacuum tube installed.


Patching up the hole.


Steven putting the tubing in in the attic

We put the new tubing in on May 30, pulled the cables through on June 5, and worked on patching throughout June and finished the wall (painting) on July 4.


All patched up!

Project 2 – fixing the garage attic gas leak

Ha, we put this one off for awhile. We noticed a natural gas smell in our downstairs bathroom when the FHA 203k streamlined contractors finished up their work in the end of April. It turns out that bathroom exhaust ductwork that runs through the attic was punctured, and the existing gas leak (caused by a damaged/tapered pipe connection) was going in to that ductwork, hence why we were smelling it in the bathroom.


The tapered/messed-up pipe.

So the project entailed replacing gas pipes and the bathroom ductwork. We made sure to do it on a really hot day (June 11) since it involved being in the attic. Ha ha! It took all day, and a bit of brainstorming, but we fixed it, and we can’t smell the gas anymore. Yay!


The small space Steven worked in. I was the gopher!

It also gave us a chance to try out rigid ductwork, which we are thinking of using in our other attic!

Project 3 – jacking up the house

This is an ongoing project. Two joists in our basement are being crushed because of faulty loading (due to faulty design!) coming from the upper floors. Because these joists are crushed, the floors on top of them are not level. Our fridge actually leans back toward the wall that is above these joists, and my office shelves lean toward the wall on the other side.

Well, they used to! It’s getting better, because we put jacks in the basement to jack those joists up. We’re using the tall jack to push one up from the floor, and a short jack to push one up from the brick wall it sits on.  Steven put in supportive blocking to try to keep the joists from failing by buckling to the side.

160618jacks1 160618jacks2

You know what would be awesome? If I remembered ANYTHING I learned about loading in college. Gah. Most useless architecture degree EVER.

We started jacking the house up on June 18. We do a little every few days. It’s VERY interesting to see how the house responds. Walls are obviously cracking. The basement door, which is very close to the joists, gets harder and harder to close (and has actually been open since Saturday, since we can’t close it) the more we jack up the joists, because the floor level is rising.

But! It’s not all bad! The first level floors are leveling out, and second level doors that weren’t plumb before are squaring off and closing like they should. Yay!

Eventually, when things are level and we’ve allowed them to settle, we’ll add solid blocking to support the load and replace or sister the affected joists with new engineered lumber joists. Then, we can go through the process of fixing all the cracks and unevenness caused by the buckling in the floors. And eventually, get a backsplash in the kitchen – that is on hold since the wall it would go on is one of the walls being affected by the jacks!

Hopefully I’ve said this on the blog before, but I am very impressed by how much of a go-getter Steven is with figuring out house projects and tackling them. He loves to do research and figure things out, and he’s totally in his element! It doesn’t come as naturally to me, but I like helping him, and that we’re working on things together.

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