Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It's that time again (+ my giveaway winners!)


"A coat with a furry hood looks stupid," Clayton said. "It serves no purpose," he said. 

Well, who got the last laugh, Mister? We got almost 8 inches of snow over the weekend and I was as snug as a bug in a rug in my "stupid" furry hood. Your winter coat doesn't even HAVE a hood. 

As much as I loved getting a blanket of white and being forced to stay inside and binge on Netflix for most of the weekend, I am totally over winter. Even sunny winter days stink and my seasonal affective disorder is out of control. I was walking to my car this afternoon and got whipped in the face with bitterly cold wind and started CRYING because I hate it so much. 

I mean, the tears definitely could have been from the wind, but I could also feel them in my heart. 

Okay, that was dramatic. 

And I can't even articulate how much I hate running inside. I tried to run a few laps at the gym last week when we had white-out conditions from flurries and strong winds, but I only made it two miles before I had to hop on a treadmill (and because someone yelled at me for running in the "wrong" direction on the track because apparently it's THAT big of a deal and I was throwing off his groove THAT much. In all fairness, I didn't have my contacts in and couldn't see what direction the arrow was pointing and I also think it's stupid that the direction changes every day in the first place, like running the other way every 24 hours will somehow make running in circles slightly less terrible.).

This weekend's mini blizzard relegated me to the treadmill for my long run on Saturday, if you even consider 5.5 miles a long distance. But when you're running on the treadmill staring at your wall for almost an hour, 5.5 miles feels like a marathon. I had every intention of running outside despite the cold and snow, but nothing was plowed for hours and I literally could not find a clear surface to stand on.

My Festival 500 Mini Marathon training kicks off this week and now I remember why I dislike this race so much. Training always starts when the weather is still bad and I have to log a lot of miles indoors. I don't care who you are, running on the treadmill is way different than running outside. Running too much inside makes me feel out of shape for running outside and visa versa. 

And I've been feeling so down lately (thanks, S.A.D.!), I can't muster much enthusiasm for anything. This morning I looked at my training plan for the next 10 weeks and instead of feeling the familiar butterflies flutter in my tummy, I just felt tired. 

Luckily the roads were somewhat clear by Sunday afternoon and I was able to safely run a quick 3 miles outside. It was pretty darn cold and windy, but my legs loved feeling actual road beneath them. And it appears that the previous day's treadmill run didn't totally wear me out:


I look so happy to be outdoors. 

****

And now the reason why most of you are here: I have some winners to announce for the Brown Dog Soap Works Giveaway! Thank you to all who entered by liking Elizabeth's Facebook page. She has a good thing going on and I love seeing support for small businesses. Thank you!

My method for choosing a winner was super scientific: I wrote everyone's name on a scrap of paper and drew the winners out of my Atlanta Braves baseball cap. Those who liked Elizabeth's page and tweeted about the giveaway received 2 entries. Those who only liked the Facbeook page received 1 entry.

Congratulations to Molly P, Debbie Thomas and Susan! 





Each of you ladies will receive 2 bars of BDSW soap and all you have to do is shoot me an email at notablyneurotic@gmail.com with your contact information. 

Thank you!

♥C

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Brown Dog Soap Works: A Notably Neurotic Giveaway

Boy, oh boy! Do I have a treat for YOU today!

Hold on to your seats, ladies and gentleman, because we're about to get CLEAN.

That sounds like we're about ready to take a group bath.

I love every single one of you dearly, but I would not bathe with any of you.

It's not personal.

BUT ANYWAY ...

Who wants to win a blog giveaway!?

I was gifted several bars of locally made soap this past Christmas (thanks, family. I can take a hint), and I am officially obsessed with the natural, good-for-you ingredients. In fact, the second my last bar of soap whittled down into that annoying Chiclet-sized nubbin that gets stuck in your armpit and eventually disappears down the drain, I got online and ordered more. 

So can we just talk about Brown Dog Soap Works for a second? Because we need to.



Brown Dog Soap Works is owned and operated by Elizabeth Flowers in South Bend, Indiana. (Side note: Elizabeth was actually childhood friends with my sister and I'm pretty sure she slept over at our house once or twice.) Elizabeth has been making her own soaps, lotions and lip balms since she was in middle school and started selling her soaps in 2012. Her online store opened in October of 2014 and some of her yummy products made their way under my Christmas tree.

Make no mistake, Elizabeth's soaps are legit. I asked her about her soap-making process and she schooled me on things soapy science. I tried to pretend like I understood terms like "lye" and "sodium tallowate", but I got a C in chemistry and this is all beyond my scope of understanding. So please just trust me when I say that Elizabeth expertly and lovingly crafts each and every one of her soaps using a very delicate process that she has perfected over the years after a lot of research and a lot of practice.

Over the past several years our society has become obsessed with all things naturalnatural foods, natural beauty products, natural cleaning products, etc.and with good reason. We're getting lazy with what we put in our bodies and with disease and cancer rates as high as they are, it would serve us well to know what we're consuming.

I have sensitive skin (I have at least three blog posts that begin with "So I have this rash ...") and I am uber careful about what soaps, detergents and skin care products I use. Elizabeth shares this sentiment when she said, "What I love about making soap is that I know precisely what ingredients go in to it". Preach it, sister. 

And the story behind her business's adorable name? In 2008, Elizabeth and her hubby rescued Ollie, a brown dauschand who was a former stud used for breeding at a puppy mill that was (thankfully) shut down. Ollie and his kennel mates had never seen the outdoors, been in a car or properly socialized. Having just moved to a new city, Elizabeth and Ollie bonded over the shared experience of new, unfamiliar surroundings.

About a year later, Elizabeth and her husband adopted a beagle-mix named Chloe (and didn't realize she was pregnant at the time of her adoption!), and their two sweet pooches are volunteers at The Sisters of the Holy Cross, a nursing facility for retired Catholic Sisters.

She even makes soap for our furry friends and sent me a sample of her doggy soap! Clayton and I absolutely love it! Joey? Not so much ...



Elizabeth is also devoted to giving back! After finishing a batch of soap, she sends the end pieces along with any of the beveled edges to Clean the World, an organization that recycles used bars of soap left over from the hotel industry and other handmade soap makers. They have a process that sanitizes the used bars and creates new ones from the scraps and are distributed around the world for the needy.

I asked Elizabeth which of her products is her favorite and she replied, "I began making these products for myself, so it is hard for me to choose a favorite!" Though she did divulge that she loves any of her soaps that are made with milk or beer because the bubbles they create are so fluffy!  

My personal favorite Brown Dog Soap Works product is "Soothe Your Face Soap" with coconut oil and tea tree oil. After only a few days of use, my skin had never been clearer (or softer). I make Clayton touch my face constantly because it feels THAT amazing.



And now I want to share Brown Dog Soap Works with YOU! I have bars of soap to give away to 3 very lucky readers. The bars are of varying scents and as a very satisfied customer, I can assure you that each one smells and feel absolutely delicious.

Readers can get 2 entries in my Brown Dog Soap Works giveaway:

1.) Like Brown Dog Soap Works Facbeook page and leave a comment below saying that you did.

2.) Copy, paste and send out this exact Tweet: "I just entered @MrsCourtneyP's Brown Dog Soap Works Giveaway and you should, too! http://bit.ly/1G9DQ20"

Contest closes Monday, February 23 at 11:59 p.m. EST time and I will draw winners on Tuesday, February 24.

Good luck! You don't want to miss this!

♥C

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Valentine's Weekend Recap


♬ ♬ "I came in like a wrecking ball; I just closed my eyes and swung!" ♬ 

—My PMS, to me

I had every intention of posting a weekend recap yesterday, but my stomach decided to bloat to the size of a beach ball and cause me so much pain, I had take solace in a heating pad and lying in the fetal position all night.

Being a woman is a magical, magical experience. You should try it sometime.

Anyway, happy ... er ... Tuesday!

How was your Valentine's weekend? Ours was great and I have lots of pictures to share with you!

Friday night we held an art event at our gallery called "Fading Traces" and gave guests the opportunity to get in touch with their creative side by writing poetry with the pages of old romance novels, drawing blind portraits, and making their very own "seed bombs" to plant in the spring. The event was a huge success and Clayton and I had a lot of fun exploring our "inner artists".

When it came to writing poetry by blackening out unneeded words in a romance novel, I made sure I used a dirty sex page from the book. Only Clayton and I could create a love poem using the words "underwear", "condoms" and "brain". 





Our favorite line from our poem: "Ten minutes later, everybody came."

Though our blind portraits definitely left something to be desired:



The exercise asked you to draw your partner without ever taking your eyes off of them or looking down at your paper. 

Clayton after seeing my finished work: "This is what you think I look like?!"

Me: "Clayton, this portrait speaks more volumes about my lack of artistic talent than it does about any possible facial deformities. Trust me, your nose isn't intersecting your left eye in real life."

On Valentine's Day, Clayton and I celebrated the only way we know how: With movies, our favorite champagne, and a heart-shaped pizza from Mother Bear's. Our tradition never fails!




I asked if I could drop some cash on a pedicure for my V-Day gift because my runner's feet were in desperate need and I wanted to have sassy, flirty feet for the weekend. Or at least as sassy and flirty as caveman feet can get. 



But Clayton also surprised me with tickets to see Nick Offerman perform at IU in April! His work connections got us amazing seats and I am soooooooooooooooo excited to see Ron Swanson in action. I hope his mustache is just as majestic in person. 

On the flip side, I gifted Clayton his first ever true pair of running shoes. It was a proud moment for me and I think he might be happy about it, too. I'm not sure. I didn't really check. Buying him a pair Saucony's was more for me than him. 

Speaking of running, I got in a 7.25 mile run on Saturday and holy wind, Batman! Gusts of wind were so strong, I lost my footing a few times. I literally almost blew off the trail, so it was definitely a run that I based on mileage, NOT pace. But despite the extra wind resistance, it was still a great run with a negative split and I felt awesome both during and after. 

But perhaps my favorite part of the weekend was making Sunday night dinner with my husband. The temperatures were quite frigid over the past few days and it seemed logical to make a hearty soup to warm our tummies. 

As you probably know by now, SkinnyTaste.com is my favorite food blog and we fell in love with her recipe for Chicken Barley Soup. It takes a fair amount of prep work (I hate chopping vegetables) and simmers on the stove for over an hour, but it was definitely worth the wait and even allotted me enough time to make dinner rolls. 

You can find the soup recipe here and the dinner roll recipe here. The only modification I made to the soup was the subtraction of onions and the addition of diced potatoes. For the rolls, I brushed them with egg whites before baking. They didn't turn golden brown as I had hoped, but I was in a rush to eat my soup and didn't let them bake quite long enough. In fact, they ended up somewhat doughy and amazing in the middle. 

If you make this soup, you'll be doing yourself a huge favor. Cooking the chicken in the broth created so much flavor in the vegetables, it tasted like something you'd order from a restaurant.



Joey likes to help in the kitchen. 

On Sunday night and for most of the day on Monday, we finally got some snow showers! Granted, it was only amounted to about 3 inches, but it was enough to close down school and make the roads near impossible for driving. My SUV has 4-wheel drive, but I still fishtailed on multiple occasions.

But there's a little bit of white stuff on the ground, so I shouldn't complain too much. It's pretty (for now).


How was your weekend? Did you celebrate Valentine's Day? Did you get any snow?

♥C

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The battle of denim


I love skinny jeans and I want them to love me back.

But they don't.

They hate me and I think they want me dead.

The whole skinny jean trend came back into style just as I graduated college and started working full-time. I remember seeing girls prancing around in the alarmingly tight denim and thinking, "Dear Lord, please make it stop!"

The skinny jean look was, in a word, stupid. It looked stupid. The style was reminiscent of my elementary school tapered jeans days and I didn't understand why any grown woman would possibly want to look like she did in second grade. (Other than the fact that I had AMAZINGLY teased bangs. I so wish that would come back in style.)

It was easy to reject skinny jeans because most females I knew hated them, too. I proudly continued to wear my flared pants, feeling somewhat rebellious for not giving in to what was deemed "popular" by the masses.

Then about six months later, a pair of skinny jeans ended up in my closet.

I don't know how they got in there, you guys. The just showed up one day. It was so weird and to be honest, a little frightening! I almost called the police and was like, "Um, someone broke into my house and put ugly pants in my closet. Please arrest them."

Okay, obviously I bought them.

I think they were a pair of jeggings from Old Navy or somewhere equally cheap and forgetable. In the early years of my career I struggled with buying professional attire and would oftentimes find myself wandering around the mall after work, trying to figure out what I should wear while I sat in a cubicle all day. The company I worked for was casual, so jeans were totally acceptable and I started to see an emergence of skinny jeans paired with ballet flats and wouldn't ya know it, I started to think it was a cute look.

And it is ... on some people.

I'm just not one of those people.
 
Because let's be honest, skinny jeans are not kind to gals like me. Thick, athletic thighs are amplified in this particular style of pants, which actually wouldn't be so bad if my legs dwindled into delicate, thin ankles. But trying to pull that stretch denim over cankles and runner calves? Forget about it. I've had more than my fair share of meltdowns in dressing rooms.

But I keep buying (and blogging about) skinny jeans! Why do I do this to myself? Every time a new pair wanders into my closet, I can almost hear Regina George hissing, "STOP TRYING TO MAKE SKINNY JEANS HAPPEN. IT'S NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN."

If I wear my skinny jeans with anything other than knee-high boots, I feel grossly insecure. I walk past store windows, catch a glance of my reflection and see nothing but short, stumpy tree trunks suffocating in denim. I continue walking down the street, vowing to pull out my tried and true bootcut jeans tomorrow because that's what works best for my body shape.

But when the sun rises the next day, I still find myself reaching for the pair of pants that I know deep down in my heart aren't flattering. Like this time will somehow be different. Like today might finally be the day when my legs magically become longer and leaner.

Hmmm ... doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Isn't that the definition of insanity?


Monday, February 9, 2015

#LikeAGirl


Always' "#LikeAGirl" campaign about female self-confidence debuted on YouTube long before this year's Super Bowl, but airing during the big game caused millions of people to sit up and take notice.

This particular commercial's impact on me is twofold because I'm both a woman and an athlete. Sports have been a part of my life since I was 6 years old, and my coaches never treated myself or my teammates any differently than our male counterparts. I wasn't a girl athlete. I was an athlete, period. My mom encouraged my athletics and taught me that I was never "better than" or "less than" the guys in anything. I just was. I was good at softball. I was good at volleyball. There was so benchmark for comparison.

Playing both softball and volleyball was empowering and even in my freshman gym class, at an age where girls start to realize that playing dumb or toning down their talents is a way to attract the opposite sex, I never took it easy on the boys. They might have been bigger, stronger and faster than me, but I could hold my own and I never made apologies for my own strength.

Somewhere down the line, the phrase "throw like a girl" developed a negative connotation and is used as an insult. I distinctly remember the scene in The Sandlot when Ham Porter stated what is perhaps the most inimical thing a young boy could ever hear: "You play ball like a girl!" The shocked silence that followed was palpable.

What's sadder still is that even young girls believe that "like a girl" is a put-down.

You know what, I play ball like a girl. I throw like a girl. I hit like a girl. And I run like a girl.

And I don't understand why that's a bad thing.

And I'm insulted that someone would be insulted by being like me.


So what does it mean to run "like a girl"? What does running like a girl even look like?

Running like a girl means running strong, even when running against the wind or in the rain. Running like a girl means running 7 half marathons, 1 full marathon and countless other 5ks and shorter races. Running like a girl means getting up early on the weekends when you're still tired to get your miles in. Running like a girl means not stopping until you're at the top of the hill or pushing through that last interval. Running like a girl means running through the fatigue and pain. Running like a girl means setting a goal and seeing it through. Running like a girl takes discipline, consistency and heart.

So if that's what running like a girl means, then I'll happily take it any day.

Here's a collection of some of my "like a girl" anthems that have been in regular rotation on my running playlists. They get me revved up and I bet they'll get you going, too!


♥C
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