Sunday, August 9, 2015

Re-introducing myself (with a bazillion pictures...cute dogs and hamsters, I promise!)

Hello there!

This post is exclusively to say that I've noticed an uptick in readership since I commented on the Hogwarts Running Club's Facebook page. Since I'm steadily seeing at least twice as many page views, I wanted to take this moment to say: Welcome! I hope you like it here in my little nook of the interweb. I also want to give a quick not so quick intro about myself for anyone wondering (and if you're already a reader of the blog, sorry to bore you with all these things you probably already can just skip this post and come back later for my Saturday/Sunday round up unless you just want to look at a million fun pictures of my life).

I don't think I've ever actually done an "about me post" so I hope this one isn't terrible.

Anyways...My name is Christina. I'm 27 and I live and work in the northwest Chicago burbs. I live with my mommatrons and brother:

Here we are in front of Hogwarts in January! We had the most perfect Scottish-highlands-effect fog.
...and I work at the headquarters of a fairly large insurance company. I'm pretty involved with different volunteer work there. Like last year, I made this cake for a cake contest (our charity of choice was Habitat for Humanity):

My friend and I did that whole display by ourselves (I did most of the baking, she put together everything else) and we were pretty proud of beating out 5 other (much larger) teams and winning two awards for it!

So yeah - I do that kind of stuff. I'll actually be repping H4H again this year in the same event...and I need to put together a team pronto!

Aside from work and volunteering there, I like to hang out with my super cool boyfriend, Cam:

I also force him to go to the gym thrice a week, and he angry-faces me for that. But really, he's a big teddy bear, and I don't know what I'd do without him. We're partners, through and through, on bad days and good, and we're coming up on year 2 of many more to come:

This was right before we went white water rafting on vacation!
Let's see, what else...

I also have two dogs, Nigel and Stewart:

Nigel is pretty much my child, he had a health scare a few months ago and I didn't know what to do with myself. He's the living teddy bear I always want as a child, and my best fur-friend.
Stewart is an everyone's-dog. He doesn't care if he's hanging out with my mom, brother, or me...he loves us all equally and is kind of neurotic. And terrified of everyone else because everyone else is an ax-murderer.
I also have two hamsters. The first is Benjen (any GoT fans out there should recognize that name!). He's a pretty chill little dude, not easily excitable. I found out a few months ago that he has a massive tumor in his abdomen. He's been doing okay but it's definitely affecting him :( He and I are just taking it day by day:

My next little buddy is Rico. He loves to explore, and he really loves trying to eat my breakfast, whatever it is. He recently began to encounter his own health problems, and it's a real blow for me. He just turned 2 so I know he doesn't have a ton of time left, but it's still really difficult. That's why I let him eat pancakes and English muffins:

And finally, we have Ned (GoT fans, rejoice again...we have a Ned and a Benjen). Last year for his birthday Cam got a bearded dragon. Ned likes to hang out with us all the time, mostly in the form of clinging to our shirts as we watch TV or play board games. I never thought I'd be a reptile person (my affinity lies with hamsters, for sure) but Ned's changed that for me:

So there are the pets...but you're probably wondering what else I do.

I have a few hobbies that I'd like to think I'm fairly good at. Cam's papa once told me that he'd never met someone who was so productive in their free time - probably because my hobbies produce stuff.

Obviously I blog, so we'll skip that.

But my first (and well loved hobby) is baking. I love to try, test, and tweak recipes until they're perfect. Remember the cake I posted the picture of? Well it tasted even better than it looked (it was half Devil's Food, have Tie-Die white with both chocolate and vanilla buttercream, in case you're wondering). I make everything from cakes and cookies to (recently) pies. I like to try difficult things (like French macarons) but I love the simplicity and comfort of a homemade chocolate chip cookie too (I even have my own CCC recipe that I invented myself :P). I also make these trademark sugar cookies...people rave about them and even pay me to make them (I'm not just tooting my own horn, it's true):

These stackable teddy bears are Cam's favorite. And the entire 20-cookie batch of these blue and white ones went for $725 at my company's bake auction this year.

Any Star Wars fans?! These ones turned out so cool!

There are more, but those ones are the most fun.

I recently picked up the gardening of vegetables as well, but since I need to do an update post on said vegetables, I'll save you all from that for today. Except for this picture of a cucumber, runner bean, and dog butt hanging out together:

I also love to knit, and I recently (around this time last year) picked up crocheting as well. If you're interested in either you can check out my Ravelry. My most recent project was the Bermuda Shawl, and I'm currently working on a teddy bear with some yarn I picked up on vacation in Idaho. Other honorable mentions to: A crocheted Heidi Bears Bear, Ernest; the Patchwork Animal Blanket I made for my godson (I've seen at least 3 people post these on reddit's knitting forum since I made mine!); and this teddy I made for my godson too.

Speaking of, another fun fact about me is that I have dual citizenship! That's right, I'm a "naturalised" UK citizen (with US birth citizenship). My dad was English and moved here when he married my mom, but his whole family is still there.

This is from when I last visited in October. There are three generations of our family there!
 And in a weird, cruel twist of fate, the person who ended up being my best friend (and arguably soul mate) also lives in England. It's a strange and at times unfair feeling to know that a piece of your heart is held by someone so far away, but I'd do anything for Hannah. She's one of the kindest and most sincere people on this planet:

And since she's so fantastic, she made me godmother-by-default of her son, Miles. There was never any ceremony or anything, but 'godson' is the closest relationship I can think of. And I get to be an Auntie!

This was the first time we met in September!
For these reasons I've been to England almost more times than I can count. It's like a second home now.

Otherwise, most of my family and friends live within 50 miles of me and I see them many times a year. We're a family so we have our 'things', but we're pretty tight-knit as far as families go, and supportive of each other in general. One of the coolest things to happen in recent years was my cousin Jennie (over at The Presidentress) moving here with her husband and kiddos from California. I've never had a sister, but Jennie comes about as close as I think I'll get:

Revisiting my childhood home in the city last year...this donkey is nearly 40 years old, and still gets many honorable mentions in family stories.
Incidentally, I also love to provide copious amounts of sugar to Jennie's kids (and her husband Steve, who is one of my Top 5 favorite people on the planet, and the only one who I can actually remember is on that list). Jennie's kids are my favorite children on this planet. Fun and witty and devilish little trouble makers, at times:

Now enough about me and my family (because you're probably like WTF, I thought she was interesting), you probably want to know what you can expect here.

Honestly, it's mostly my day-to-day ramblings. I don't really have a "theme" and I'm sure that sometimes my blogs get a bit boring, but blogging is almost like a journal of stuff I do so I don't forget (because I want to make sure I include that cake contest I won in my yearly review so I get points for exceptional volunteerism :P).

But really, I mostly post about the stuff I do. This involves things Cam and I get up to (with and without friends):

But we have so much FUN together.

I don't even know.
And I tend to include a general round up of our workouts, which usually consist of my half-marathon training and our weight lifting workouts. Every so often you'll see a screenshot of my running splits, or a picture from our lifting journal, and I usually expound on something about that that was new or that I'm proud of. Blogging about these things keeps me accountable and helps me to be more analytical (and self congratulatory) about my progress.

My half training is a big thing in my life right now because I've never trained for a race longer than the 5 Miler Cam and I did in May. It means a lot to me to complete it and feel good about it, so it's a bit of a theme here as of late.

Also, the community of health/fitness/running bloggers is fantastic, and I like feeling like I'm part of that network and have something to contribute. And if you did find me because of the Hogwarts Running Club, you can sure as hell bet I'll be posting about all those races!

Aside from that, I'll occasionally post about my volunteer projects at work, or something I did with work (like doing the Chase Corporate Challenge in May):

I ran with my friend Travis and PR'd a 5k!
I've got a big fundraiser for the American Cancer Society coming up in October so you'll for sure be hearing about that!

And in keeping with my hobby list, sometimes I blog about things I bake, knit, or crochet. Those posts aren't as common, mostly because I forget to take pictures of stuff I make (and with baking this is a problem since people tend to consume the project) but I'm getting a bit better about it!

I hope that's a fair introduction to who I am, a little bit about me, and a little big about this blog. Like I said, I've never done a post like this before!

That said, it is Sunday and I have to get my day started. Cam and I will be heading to the gym, and then I have a birthday cake to bake (for one of those sweet children mentioned before). There should be a post about all of it later, so I hope you'll come back for another visit soon!

(Really though, it's my most sincere hope that I didn't bore you to death with this, and that the reason you're coming back is that you're still alive.)

So see you later!


(PS...feel free to comment! I don't have a ton of commenters so don't feel obligated, but comments are always welcome!)

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