Category: Blogging

Twelve Year Blogiversary!!!

By , July 21, 2017 7:07 am

Today is my twelve year blogiversary! Aww, my blog is almost a teenager. Although with how little I post now, it seems my blog is already going through the withdrawn angsty teen years. Ha.

The best thing about blogging is the connections you make, so thank you, readers! And thank you to the many of you that are “real-life” friends now.

And while I am posting less, I don’t plan to stop anytime soon. Just waiting for the itch to write more again!

Random Thoughts Thursday 134

By , May 18, 2017 6:23 am
  • It would be inappropriate (and boring) to talk about the stuff at work that makes me nuts, but a lot of times, I make a list of it and imagine posting about it here. Ha. Doing that, along with venting with coworkers, helps!

Awesome picture, right?!

  • More vagueposting – it feels ironic, that as someone who shares personal information on the internet, there are people out there I don’t want knowing mundane information about my life. It’s not because of knowledge reasons, but what they do with the information – hold it against me, overreact, or gossip about it. It’s hard for me to NOT share things, but I know it’s better off in the long run, with certain people. Ugh. (Most of it’s harmless, just annoying. Example – somehow other people have information I only told YOU, that I would have liked to share with them myself.)
  • On to the mundane! Steven and I are always looking for a show to watch during our lunch breaks. We watched Parks and Recreation, then tried to watch Extant, then watched Big Little Lies. Now we’ve decided to rewatch Game of Thrones. We’re catching a lot more watching it the second time, which is fun! Sometimes Khaleesi watches the TV when her namesake is on, which always makes me laugh. I haven’t grabbed a photo of that, but here she is watching The Secret Life of Pets:

  • My parents are visiting in June and this will be their FIRST trip to our “new” home without an entire weekend of labor involved (they’ve been here twice but once was for the move and the other time was to help with the second floor attic work). I am looking forward to them being here with the house put together and having more “free” time… along with a few projects, of course. Ha ha.

Link to Random Thoughts Thursday 133

Random Thoughts Thursday 133

By , May 11, 2017 7:45 am
  • I forgot to mention in my race report that I like the design on the Wisconsin Marathon/Half/5K shirt this year!

  • We’re having a generator installed in a few weeks! We’re mostly getting it for backup for the sump pumps, but I’m excited about the other things we’ll be able to continue using if the power goes out. Steven did a lot of work a few weeks ago moving the air conditioners (and putting down pea gravel underneath) to get the area ready for the generator!

  • I am loving the sun being up so early (today sunrise was 5:35 am)! Since we’ve been going to bed at a decent hour, some days, I can just let the sun wake me up. Okay, and these two:

  • I think this opinion article – “How I Learned to Shut Up About Running” (pdf here) – is not very well written or easy to follow (so how I read the whole thing I’m not sure) but I really like this statement: “But I’ve also made a realization: a lot of my pushing of others comes from the assumption that what’s good for me will also be good for everyone else, and also from my need to try to regulate or dictate other people’s lives.” YES. THIS. PEOPLE. Quit thinking you are the authority on how other people should live their lives. Gawd, if people would stop doing this, it would solve SO MANY problems. SO MANY.
  • The blogosphere has been dull lately, here included. It’s interesting how a lot of us have stepped back a bit, at the same time. I wonder if the bubble has burst and we’ll all get back to more story telling and connecting (as opposed to product shilling and “how to” lists). One can hope!

Link to Random Thoughts Thursday 132

Why I say no when you ask me to shill your product

By , April 4, 2017 11:31 am

Bloggers get all sorts of email requests to promote products and events, share links and infographics, and allow guest posts. I say no, 99.9% of the time, and here’s why:

  • You pretend to read my blog, as if linking to a current post and providing a generic comment proves you do
  • You provide a link to a current post as to why I should promote something of yours… that is completely unrelated to that post
  • Or better yet, you find a super old post and ask me to post again on that topic, including your links (sure, makes sense for me to post about weddings…)
  • Or worse, ask me to edit that old post to include your link
  • You pretend to flatter me
  • You ask me to promote things that aren’t close to my home… “we’ll provide a discount code for your readers!”
  • You ask me to promote a product that I clearly wouldn’t use, which is odd you don’t know, since you say you’ve been reading my blog…
  • You ask me to promote a product without offering me one to try
  • You offer me NOTHING (no, I don’t want you to share my content on another platform)
  • You’re rude
  • Your email is full of grammatical errors and/or your email address and links seem super spammy
  • You argue with me that I should do whatever you’re asking me to, because I have before

Most of these things irk me because they point out how insincere the person is. I realize you don’t read my blog. I know you were just doing a google search and found me. That’s fine. I’d rather have you say that, concisely:

I was searching for bloggers that talk about xyz and found your blog! Would you be interested in doing xyz for me? Thanks!

But I am probably still going to say no, because, most importantly:

  • This blog is my voice, not yours
  • I am not desperate for money
  • I am not desperate for content
  • I am not looking to have my content posted elsewhere

All of that being said, I have had some nice opportunities come along because I am a blogger, and have worked with some great people! Not everyone is like this!

And I am still waiting for Asics to sponsor me. HA!!!!!

Also, this does not apply to friends and family asking me to share links and information – I am referring to “companies” (really, random people) contacting me.

Here’s an infographic for ya!

Alright, bloggers, what did I miss?

Random Thoughts Thursday 129

By , March 30, 2017 6:08 am
  • Ha, I started this Random Thought’s Thursday (RRT) draft weeks ago! I miss blogging, but don’t seem to have a lot to say for single topic posts, so RTT posts (and other list posts, like what I have for tomorrow) are perfect for me right meow.
  • The “On This Day”/Facebook Memories thing that pops up showing what I’ve posted sometimes makes me feel crappy because it’s a memory with someone I no longer spend time with. It’s normal and necessary for people to come and go in our lives, but I sometimes feel pained thinking about it. (I feel like this is also a reflection of how little I post on Facebook now, and how much less social I am.) Note, today’s “memory” does not fall in to that category!

  • Another social media comment – I’m surprised how much I like Instagram, and am happy I figured out how to make it work for me. I’m also surprised some of the email requests I get to post random crap (usually infographics or links) here now write “and I saw on your Instagram…” Um, no you didn’t. It’s private. Ha ha. (I’m considering making it public but not sure…)
  • Speaking of email requests to post random crap – I have a draft blog post listing all the things to NOT do in the email if you are trying to get me to post something. But the post is a bit snarky, even for me. So it’ll probably stay in the drafts folder.
  • We’ve been watching Parks and Recreation during lunch break (it’s my first time seeing the show) and I loved the first few seasons, but the last two are just bizzaro!
  • I’m such a grouch until I get my daily workout in. Which is a problem since I usually workout when I get off work at 4:00 pm. Ugh.
  • Look at this cool PR bell they are going to have at the 5K I am doing Saturday! I won’t be going near it, but I think it’s awesome they have it! (I was originally hoping for a course PR, but that won’t happen with how I’ve been training!)

Link to Random Thoughts Thursday 128

Random Thoughts Thursday 110

By , September 29, 2016 6:15 am
  • I did some major adulting this week at work and increased my life insurance coverage (we’re in a rare open season). Why does making these types of decisions always feel so intimidating (and therefore, get put off)?
  • With all the CK talk, Data wants me to remind you that he’s cute, too (even if he forgot his glasses).


  • But if you came here for a CK update, she does let us pet her now! It’s been raining hard here, so we tried to get her to come in the garage last night. She came in for a bit but didn’t stay the night. Baby steps.


  • I mentioned a headboard we got for our guest bedroom but weren’t sure about… well, we ended up setting it up. It grew on us a bit, and we determined we couldn’t afford the ones we like better. The long term plan is to make a new one when we have a workshop set up. My coworker suggested a splash of color (since I refuse to change out the bedspread we just got) – I think that’s a good idea! The room looks a bit muted now.


  • Hey, respect! I used to respond to all of these random emails asking me to promote stuff on my blog with “no thanks” just to be nice. But some of them are so bad I just file them away. And sometimes, they email you again – “did you get my first email? can we work out a deal?” “No, because I don’t promote random sh*t on my blog because someone asked me to… respect.”


  • What is the deal with Amazon Prime lately? If I try to order something Wednesday morning, free two day shipping is NOT a Monday arrival. I decided to buy the thing in person, then we found out we couldn’t, so Steven went to order it last night on Amazon Prime (we share an account) and it said it will arrive this Friday. Huh?! FWP.
  • Not sure who this is from, but I appreciate the nice words when I woke up Tuesday am.


  • And finally, the stormy weather has been so beautiful this week!


Link to Random Thoughts Thursday 109

Eleven Year Blogiversary GIVEAWAY!!!

By , July 21, 2016 6:09 am

This giveaway is closed – thanks for entering!

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!

Random Thoughts Thursday 102

By , June 9, 2016 6:07 am
  • My chest and arm muscles have been so sore lately. But not from anything I am doing on purpose. It’s all from functional training – yard work!



  • Steven has been wanting to try Red Robin takeout, and I kept telling him that defeats the point of their bottomless fry offer – you can’t ask for more once you get home! Ha ha. We ordered it once in April and didn’t get many fries (NOT the end of the world – we were plenty full), but Steven ordered it this week and told them he didn’t get many fries last time, so they sent him home with all this awesomeness. Ha. We had LOTS of extra fries. Fries for days.



  • My dad heard through the grapevine that there was an accident on the bike trail where we wiped out – a friend of his mom’s saw an ambulance and gurney there! And now they’ve put up cones and signs. I hope no one else wipes out there!
  • My website is running really slow and I don’t know how to fix it. Eek! Sorry if you’re dealing with it on your end! I always assume it my pos host messing things up, but maybe it’s actually on the wordpress side this time. Which means I probably won’t take the time to figure it out. Which means bye bye blog. Update: the tech guy I talked to today actually told me the truth – there is a slowness issue on the host’s end. 
  • I am not a yoga person, but I would definitely try this kind of  yoga – kitten yoga (pdf here)! Aww! I saw this on Facebook because a college friend of mine is actually in the article! I wonder if there is something like this in Chicago.
  • Today is my mom’s birthday! I snuck a special surprise in her birthday gift. Muah ha ha. She found it right away.

Link to Random Thoughts Thursday 101


By , April 26, 2016 8:12 am

Amazingly, our timing for our Dallas trip coincided exactly with when Amy would be visiting from Belgium to see her family there! Amy’s family lives on the same side of Dallas as Gina and fam, so when Amy told us she and her sister were doing a local(ish) 5K Sunday morning, we decided to cheer them on at the finish, then get Starbucks after.


Me and Amy!

I had met Amy’s sister, Christy, and her mom, before*, but not Amy (we’ve been internet friends for at least four years)! Amy told me her estimated 5K finish time so we cheered on the runners while watching the clock and looking for her. She came in right at her estimated time (and got first in her age group, woot woot) but saw us (edited to add: Steven reminded me that she said she recognized his beard from far away, ha!) and waved enthusiastically well before she got to the finish line! Luca and I gave her high fives on her way in!

We cheered Christy in too, and chatted and hung out until the awards ceremony, then hit up Starbucks. It was a warm day, with a pleasant breeze that made it perfect for enjoying a hot or cold drink on the patio with friends!

Amy is sweet, kind (she brought us Belgian cookies and chocolate NOM NOM NOM!!!), and easy to talk to, so we all hung out and talked for a long time! Honestly, I had kind of forgotten about the joy and excitement in meeting other bloggers – it’s been such a long time since I’ve done any blogger meetups**. But it’s so cool to meet someone face to face that you feel like you already know – you often pick up as if you’re old friends. And it’s always fun (especially with Amy, since she lives outside the states) to hear about someone’s experiences and how they’re different AND the same as yours. Isn’t it amazing, that even when you feel like you have all the people you need in your life, you still meet people and think “how can I spend more time with this totally cool person?!” Ahh, the fluidity of life’s friendships.

It was a treat to see Amy in person, and I’m grateful it worked with all our schedules! Everyone hit it off well, so we decided our next outside the states vacation with Gina and family should be to Belgium. Hee hee. Belgium Marathon 2017?

Oh! The post title! When we sat down with our drinks at Starbucks, Amy said “smakelijk!,” which is Dutch for “bon appetite!” That would be a fun thing to start saying with drinks… if I could remember how to pronounce it. Ha!

*They recognized me at the Dallas Marathon in 2014!
**It’s interesting… I found my people, and stopped reaching out/interacting as much. It’s kind of like how I used the running club to find my people, then left it (only I’m still blogging… so kind of not like that? Ha.). 

Random Thoughts Thursday 96

By , April 21, 2016 6:40 am
  • A stray cat has been hanging at my parent’s place since the summer (first living in their garage, then in the house when it got cold), and they noticed she was getting a bit chunky this winter. Guess what? She was PREGGERS! Now my parents have kittens at their house. They’ll find homes for them, and get the mother cat spayed. My dad has been sending us daily pictures of the kittenz and I love it!



  • Speaking of cats… I love the idea of this “business cats” article (pdf here) – a shelter in Florida is placing cats in pet-friendly businesses to increase their visibility and chance of adoption. I hope the program is successful! And of course, “business cat” makes me think of this meme! Data hopes the potential adoptees are wearing their best ties to the office!

  • You may have noticed when I post a link to an online article, I also provide a pdf version of it. The reason is twofold – in case you’d rather read the pdf, and for down the road, when the links don’t work anymore. I’m happy I’ve been doing this, because I was just referencing an old post I wrote about flow and the link to the article was super messed up – I was glad to still have the pdf!
  • Speaking of blogging… is anyone else getting tons of spam comments caught in their WordPress Akismet spam filter? I have comments on posts automatically close when the post is 30 days old, to help with this, but some robot is hitting my site hard. I went from a few spam comments a day, to hundreds of them. Just lots of deleting from the spam folder. Hopefully I am not deleting any real comments!
  • When we first visited our home in August of last year, the mosquitoes were so bad we couldn’t spend much time in the yard. If you know me, you know mosquitoes LOVE me, and will choose to bite me through bug spray, even if someone else is standing right next to me without any on. Ha ha. That we bought the house, with the mosquito problem, is a huge sign of how much we love it! Now, to take care of the mosquitoes. They started biting me in March, and I probably have ten bites on my legs from last weekend! Cleaning up the pond will help, and we think we’ll get the yard fogged, too.
  • I did my duty and tried all of the Ben & Jerry’s vegan ice creams. I am surprised to report that Coffee Caramel Fudge is my favorite! (I was surprised since I don’t drink coffee!) The other three flavors (Chunky Monkey, P.B. & Cookies, and Fudge Brownie) are so so – the flavor is good – just not what I go for in ice cream.


  • Mica and her husband will be here in May and we’ll get to see them! I am stoked! It’s been way too long since we’ve all been together! Steven and I need to make it a priority to visit them in San Francisco, too. I should start putting money away to get tickets to go out in the fall or next year.

Link to Random Thoughts Thursday 95

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