• Shooting for 2016!

    This Blog will follow me as I try to become a two-time Olympic Trials Qualifier. The 2016 Trials "B" standard is sub 2:43 for women - let's get after it!

  • The 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials

    The best experience, EVER. Go Team Nichole!

  • Thank you!

    I can't thank Jerry enough for believing in me, and for my generous sponsors Brooks, Generation UCAN, Nutrilite, Anytime Fitness, Feetures!, Seven Sundays Muesli, Massage Geek, and Stunt Puppy!

  • Dare to dream

    ...and dare to fail

  • Stay in Contact!

    If you've seen me speak, we've connected at a race, or you just read this blog, feel free to reach out and stay in contact with me. I value my running connections and the personal stories behind them more than you know! Plus, comments here have really helped with my personal journey - so keep 'em coming!

Assembling "Team Nichole"!

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Something has changed.

Despite the fact that I am incredibly pregnant (read: huge), I've been more motivated than any other time during my pregnancy - heck, even before I became pregnant! Perhaps it's the fact that I can see "the end", so the running goals I have actually seem tangible. Those goals? They're huge. Impossible, even?

Last week I logged 20 miles in 5 days, the most I've been able to do in a while. I even did a 5 mile run with my husband and brother where I was able to run a complete the last mile without walk breaks. I was so ELATED after this run!!! *I. love. running.*

In addition to my sudden/unexpected running motivation, I've stared assembling the 2016 "Team Nichole" which has fueled my excitement for training post-baby even more!

First, I am so excited to announce that Generation UCAN has decided to renew me for the next year!!!!
I am in LOVE with their products, so I am ecstatic to have them on board! If you followed me last year, you know that UCAN helped tremendously with the dizziness/concentration issues I've struggled with at the end of the marathon AND also helped me to become a better fat-burner and lean-down (for the first time in my life) for race day.
Before Generation UCAN 7-14-13
After fueling exclusively with UCAN for 6 weeks (8-31-13)
Curious for more UCAN information? Read my full review here.

Second, a familiar face has resurfaced: boom! nutrition

I used their products exclusively for years, after trying every other gel product out there. I love the consistency - not too thick (like Gu) or too thin (like PowerBar's gel). The flavoring is all natural as well: raspberry puree is the "flavoring agent" in their raspberry gel, for example.

The company restructured (previously known as carbBOOM!), and started re-distributing their products a couple months ago. Luckily for me, they contacted me to restart a sponsorship contract! Not only that, but they've offered to extend a smaller sponsorship to the entire TNC team! How awesome is that?!?

I cannot wait to start the next chapters in life: motherhood and professional running, and am SO lucky to have the sponsors I do to help make both possible! I am so lucky!! Let's get after this!!

Go #teamnichole!

2012 "Team Nichole"

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Pregnancy Weeks 29-31

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Running update:

Things have been going so much better. Yay!

29 weeks
Running has been going awesome during weeks 30-31, and I find myself falling in love with the sport all over again. Chris now writes my plans in minutes and specifically writes workouts as X mins running/X minutes walking. For my "long" aerobic/easy days, he will write that I may expect to walk more than half of the time.

Then I can exceed "expectations" and that makes it more fun :).

30 weeks

30 weeks - growing steadily!


When I came back to running after my really sick week, running was freakin' hard. I found myself gasping for air after the slightest incline. I'd only be able to go a mile to a mile and a half. I wondered if this was going to be "it" for running for me.

Luckily, though, I stuck to it and just vowed to try to get out everyday. Everyday became progressively easier: my body became used to carrying around a little more weight and a bigger belly, and my lungs adapted to their ever-shrinking size and I was able to breathe a little better every day.

For the first 3 days of week 31, I've been able to do 3.5 miles, 4 miles w/ a 24 minute run/walk "workout" in it, and 4 miles easy. 3 great runs, back to back! Yay!

I'm visiting my parents this week so have been running at the farm or in Marshall. It's fun to rediscover the gravel roads at the farm, and very amusing to watch the reactions from the people around Marshall. I don't know if they're used to seeing a ~7 month pregnant woman running around town :). Most men will look at me, look down at my stomach, and then completely avoid further eye contact. It's amusing :).

Week 31!

Feeling great!
I think another aspect to the renewed love for running is that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have just 9 weeks until baby, which isn't long at all! I am dreaming of getting back to killing myself with mileage, strength, and all of the little things.

I. Cannot. Wait.

Baby Olympics!

I had an athlete/friend offer to help plan a pre-baby shower. She came up with a brilliant theme: "Baby Olympics" since my/Nate's goal was just to hold a co-ed celebration/party (I'm not that into traditional showers...).

Welcome to the party! $2 to pick a date/gender, winner takes all. If no one wins, money will be put to a jogging stroller!
It turned out just awesome. So many people came: current athletes, former athletes, family, neighbors, and friends. We ate and then ventured out for the Games.

First: Don't break your water! The object was to carry a water balloon between your legs from the start to finish, while carrying a 15 pound backpack on your front. Pregnant women just got to be themselves. This one received a lot of good laughter!

Hard not to laugh at this!
No need for a backpack for the preggos

Second: Stroller Nascar. The object was to drive your stroller, complete with baby, around the house without having your baby fall out of the stroller. The competition for this was FIERCE.

Third: The Baby Bottle Challenge. 8 ounces of the liquid of your choice (water, milk, or beer - surprisingly, most people chose beer :)). Object: to get the liquid down as fast as possible. Nipples had been modified to be more conducive for adults' flow, thoroughly tested by Nate and Craig.


Fourth: Diaper Dash! 'Nuff said.

My dad looks fierce! He's up against the "moms" of the neighborhood!
Fifth and final: The "baby mile" - basically a modified version of the beer mile

We celebrated with the Olympic Torch relay (should have been at the start, but it was a better closer).

MIL to Jerry (coach that brought me to the Olympic Trials) to my mom to me
We ended the night with gifts. People are so generous. I am speechless.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!!!

Home for the week:

While driving home, my dad insisted we splurge for a Chuckwagon. I haven't had one of these since I was maybe ~12 with him? Loved that I could curb that pregnancy craving with him :)
For all of you wondering, it was NOT as good as I remembered. Bummer.
I'm now home for the week, visiting my sister who is in from Denver. Sierra, my oldest niece, and I have definitely bonded.

She absolutely loves following me around. It's pretty awesome. Well, most of the time. Maybe that's why I've been running more while visiting her/younger sister - it's a break!
Today's adventures included running MULTIPLE times up and down the block and around the yard (with obstacles). She loved it. When I told her I wanted to finish my run, she promptly said: "Oh, that's okay! I'll go with you!". I had to employ great grandma to distract her while I snuck out for my 4 mile run.

I will cherish this photo forever! I love the look of pure joy/happiness on her face - and if that means I need to run up and down the block a million times with her, rack my brain for new things to cheer/encourage, I'll do it!
Once I was back, we had to practice running many, many more times :)

Another fun adventure was the eye doctor, while my sister had an exam/picked out glasses. I had the priviledge challenge of entertaining both girls. Sierra thought all of the glasses were "just beautiful!", and Violet started bawling the minute mom left. Ohhh, my.... I'm trying to look at these experiences as training for parenthood??

Coaching:

Before the baby shower I was able to coach a few of my athletes (and one former athlete) to a few timed miles. It was hot and humid, but Craig and Amy still cruised to awesome workouts. I was also able to watch Angela, a former athlete of mine, in action, which was a lot of fun.

I'm sure my mom was freaking out at the fact that I was gone for some of the "prep hours" before the shower, but eh - once I was out there with my athletes, I simply couldn't NOT coach. It's in my blood, so I'm so glad I was able to celebrate the shower with a workout before hand!

Other than that, it's mostly quiet on the coaching front! Most are logging miles in preparation for big fall goals, so I get the fun role of torturing them "just enough" and keeping them motivated, with the eyes on the end prize!

That's all for now, folks!
Until next time, run happy!!







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Gearing up for the "Baby Olympics"

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Tonight we'll have our co-ed baby shower - appropriately dubbed the "Baby Olympics".

I've been cleaning the house and prepping food, and Nate and Rael have been planning the "events". It should be a great time - and quite entertaining :) !

Welcome! I can't show pictures of any of the games or props just yet - wouldn't want to give anyone time to practice!
After the party, I'll recap the last two weeks of running/pregnancy. I'm at 30+ weeks, so there are less than 10 weeks to go. Yeah!!

30 weeks!

Now when I go on a walk or run, most women stop to say something :). Yep, unmistakably pregnant now! 



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Poll: Help Decide Craig's Facial Fate

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A while ago Craig shaved his beard off for the first time in a long time. After I said I liked it, he said that he hated it. Ha.

There have been other conversations about his beard as well (weird, yes)... so, being the great friend I am, I decided to make use of my corner of the internet to help him decide what he should go with going forward.

Keep in mind that Craig is single - so that *should* weigh into your vote (guess I am biased... but just because ultra runners usually have unruly beards and that might be "cool" in that world doesn't mean that's what Craig should do... just saying...)

Also keep in mind that you are not voting based on the quality of the photo - rather just the beard length that fits this man the best.

Most random post I've ever done, and first poll ever, commence!

Full Beard:

"Full beard" (in quotations because it will get much more unruly during ski season). 
Trimmed Beard:


Stillwater race... a trimmed version of what the beard used to be
Just Fuzz:

Nice selfie
Clean shaved:


Mesa with Uncle Craig!
So serious...
So... time for a vote! Your beard opinions?!????

online poll by Opinion Stage



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Pregnancy Weeks 27-28

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Time for a pregnancy and life update, and to announce the WINNER of the shirt giveaway!

Pregnancy/running update:
I spent a large portion of these weeks either: feeling great or leaning over a toilet, throwing my guts out.

Week 27 felt awesome. I ran more than I have in a while, and every mile felt comfortable. I relished this feeling, since I knew my belly was growing by the day :) I think I also went 4 days without major heartburn/throwing up, which was a record!

27 weeks
And again
Week 28 came with a vengeance, though. Monday and Tuesday I threw up both in the mornings and evenings. Tuesday evening I went for a "run" with Nate and Craig and felt soo clumsy and out of it, maybe because my caloric intake had been so low for a long time? We ran 1.3 miles at a 10:35 mile pace. My slowest mile yet!

Wednesday morning I woke up as nauseated as I have been. I broke down after a round of vomiting and dry-heaving and just curled up in bed next to Nate and cried a few tears. Nate suggested eating a little something to calm my stomach. That immediately came up and sparked endless vomiting. *Sigh*

Nate called the clinic, asking to talk to the doctor on call.

Two options: some knock-you out anti-nausea pills or bring her into the ER for fluids and anti-nausea medication.

I opted for the at-home medication, and Nate insisted that I couldn't drive to pick it up. I put up a little resistance here, since it meant he would have to come into work late. Instead he gave me a bucket and told me to go upstairs. Lo-and-behold, I didn't even make it up 3 stairs before I conveniently got to use the bucket. Guess it wouldn't have been a good idea for me to drive, after all :).

It turned out great. The medication wiped me out, hard, for 5 hours. Nate went along to work. Ahhh. So nice to sleep and not feel so sick!

Since starting those meds, I can happily say I've only had a few rough patches! YES!!!

Week 28

Week 28
In non-vomit-filled pregnancy news, baby is growing steadily! My 28 week appointment went great, despite failing the 1 hour glucose test. I'm feeling quite huge now, but that's okay - less than 11 weeks to go!!

Jumping the gun, but had to post the pictures from today - I'm 29 weeks!

And that is one definite bump! Notice my "Baby Got Track" shirt? :)
Oh, and can I say cravings? Gees! Food has never been this way for me! The other night I so badly wanted a corn dog. Being too rational about it, I did not ask Nate to make a late grocery run... or a run to Faribault where their DQ actually does have a grill that sells corn dogs (which would be much better than any home-baked version, let's be honest)... but truth be told, I really, really did want that crazy corn dog. I should probably send him out at least once for a late night run, right? Isn't that just something you have to do?!? :)

My other kick lately has been chocolate milk.

If it's bad for me, greasy or fried, or cheesy, I'll take it. It's like I'm craving all of the things I ate as a child... maybe that means I'll have to get a Chuckwagon microwave sandwich at some point. Maybe in a few weeks when I'm home with my dad. We ate these together on any road trip and errand we could - when mom wasn't around :).

My dad was cooler than your dad :)


Our CSA/garden:

We've had an abundance of awesome, fresh vegetables from our garden and CSA share. It's been fun to experiment with different recipes! Here are a couple fun ones:

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam:

Very easy! It used up a ton of rhubarb from the garden, so the sugar and a pint of strawberries were the only cost.

Nate loves it on plain ice cream. I think I'll make another batch for the freezer this weekend.

Recipe found here.
Strawberry Rhubarb Jam - 
Zucchini pizza subs:

Recipe here, but please sub the marinara sauce for this homemade pizza sauce (also is great to make and freeze!). It is SOO good!

Chicken oriental salad:

Literally made from ALL CSA/garden fresh items! The dressing = not as healthy, but it's still homemade, so that counts, right?

I think this is one of my all-time favorite salads. There's nothing fancy about it, just a lot of cabbage, some lettuce, green onions, carrots, and chicken if you desire.

The dressing is simple to put together as well:
3 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup mayo
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/8 tsp sesame oil

Top with chow mein noodles. Easy as that!!



Our CSA hosts two potlucks throughout the growing season. What a wonderful idea! Craig is also a member (see him standing, far right). Nate is in the chair just to the left of him.
Another perk of the CSA: I can pick flowers from their fields every week. How fun!!
Brightens the counter every week :)

Baby prep:


Nate's busy on a lot of house projects! He's staining our deck here, which desperately needed it.
The in-laws gifted bean bag boards to Nate and I as an early Xmas gift. How awesome! 
I promptly ordered custom Gustavus athletic shield logos to put on them. Can't wait to see how they'll turn out!
THE WINNER!!

Nate and I decided it was most democratic to have Mesa pick the giveaway winner, since there were too many names that we knew (and knew the sayings they picked would be PERFECT for them!).

Nate thought it would be a good idea to take video of the event, which I am not certain of... I am not known for my on-camera skills :).

But... check out both videos to see if you won!

video

video


For those of you who didn't win, but found a fun, super-soft shirt logo you really liked (Craig and Sharon - your selections were particularly "you" :)), head on over to iamfunnyshirts.com and order one! Use the code: NICHOLEROCKS for 20% off!

To sign off, I leave you with two things:

This catchy country song, brought to you by my corn dog and greasy/fatty food cravings. You're welcome for a well spent 3 minutes of your life :).


And this:

Ahh, puppy love :).
Run happy, my friends!

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Product Reviews and a GIVEAWAY!!

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A few product reviews - make sure to read to the bottom for an awesome giveaway!

All Pro Science Protein Powder

Short review: Love it!

I was given a tub of APS's Strawberries and Creme protein powder to try a while ago. I had no expectations. I was already using Sunwarrior, which is highly rated and I had found to be better tasting than most other protein powders I had tried... could this really be any different?


I'll say, without hesitation, that I found myself LOVING it! It made the best tasting fruit/yogurt smoothies I've had. I couldn't taste the protein powder, and the flavors mixed perfectly with any smoothie combination I tried.

Other perks: It's made from 100% grass fed whey, and only has 6 ingredients.

Since running out, I used Sunwarrior for my last protein shake. It's noticeably chalky and not nearly as great tasting. Sad! I miss my All Pro Science protein powder! It's expensive ($70/tub), but this might be one thing I'm willing to splurge on... which is really saying something!

*Disclaimer: This product was given to me to test; I did not purchase the product.

Vega Sport Bars

Short review: Like/Love it!

I am a fan of energy bars, especially for runners on-the-go after workouts. It's important to get in carbohydrates and protein immediately after a run (3:1 to 5:1 ratio), and if you've packed a bar in your gym bag/locker for right afterwards, you're set.
I tried Vega's sport bars, choosing the chocolate peanut butter flavor so I could easily compare it to Powerbar's chocolate/peanut butter bar which I've used in the past.

Between the two of them, I'd definitely choose the Vega bars in terms of taste and ingredient quality. For taste, they have a less "sweet" taste (i.e. less like a candy bar), and the texture of the peanut butter middle is great. The ingredient list clearly shows that the Vega bar is far more natural (and pronounceable!).

The Vega bar has 15g of protein, which is about what a 150 lb runner would ideally have after a workout when targeting a 3:1 carb/protein ratio.

Plus, I also like that it's vegan, with no added flavors, colors or sweeteners. YAY for natural nutrition!

There is more fat in this bar than others (11g/ 17% RDV), probably because it contains more nuts (just guessing?). I don't advocate for fat calories right after a workout (protein and carbs should be prioritized), but it isn't a bad thing.

*Disclaimer: This product was given to me to test; I did not purchase the product.

"Baby Got Track" T-shirt

Short review: Love, LOVE it!!!

The creator of www.iamfunnyshirts.com contacted me to see if I'd be interested in trying one of his newly-minted running-themed shirts.

After seeing this design, I couldn't turn down the offer! How appropriate?!?


The shirt is SOOOO soft, and the printing on it is dyed into the fabric, so it isn't one of those cheap-o plastic-y feeling logos. I am honestly in love with it!

He prints these shirts in his garage, and I love supporting operations like that :).

Except... the medium that I ordered is *just* barely fitting now. It's a very stretchy/soft material, but obviously, baby is growing very rapidly. I'm hoping Matt will read this and take pity on me and consider sending a large :). Promise - I will wear it all the time! Paging Matt... :) :) :) Maybe???

Need a runner gift idea? This would be perfect. Check out their other runner designs or any of Matt's other designs.

If you want, here's a great coupon code for 20% off: NICHOLEROCKS

(Why, yes, I do rock?)

*Disclaimer: This product was given to me to test; I did not purchase the product.

A GIVEAWAY!!!!

Lucky you, reader, Matt at iamfunnyshirts.com has offered to GIVE AWAY a T-Shirt of your choice to a reader.

This is your lucky day!!

Comment below, with your contact information, and one lucky reader/commenter will be selected for an ohhhh-so soft T-shirt!
Hope you love yours as much as I love mine!

Comment below: which T-shirt design would you choose if you were drawn? www.iamfunnyshirts.com 

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Pregnancy weeks 25-26

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These last two weeks have been busy! Two 5k races, a birthday, a garage sale, baby classes, and still trying to get my persistent heartburn/throwing up routine under control.

Running:

Things have been going great! Even though I'm much bigger now, running has been more comfortable and I've been motivated to get out most days. 

One particularly fun run:

For my 25 week check-up I actually ran to my appointment. The night before Nate and I had met for baby class, and I decided it would make sense to leave a vehicle at the hospital since I had an appointment the next day. It's only 4.5 miles away, so seemed logical (and fun!).

As I was running along, Donna (Carleton College head coach) recognized me and started running with me. She asked how far I was going and I told her my plans. She literally burst out laughing. "I have to tell people about this!" she exclaimed between bursts of laughter.

I had to smile. Guess it is a little "unique" to be running to your check-ups :).

Two 5ks:

Siren: For the 4th of July, I joined Nate's family and ran the Siren Freedom 5k run. The ride there was a little painful. I knew I was on the brink of throwing up, but we still had a 20-25 minute car ride to go and we didn't have a lot of extra time to register/get to the start line. 

Luckily I made it (I kept checking my phone to see how much farther we had before arriving), but while waiting for everyone to grab their shirts/finish registering, nausea overtook me and I threw up about 10 times right outside the elementary school. I'm sure I looked like a crazy person.

So... that was my warm up :)

I ran the first mile with my father-in-law and sister-in-law before deciding that I'd have a little more fun running faster and moving up through the pack. I've never been so far back in a race before - it felt so awkward!

I ended up finishing in ~24:30, I think. Not bad, considering the first 1/2 mile was about a 10 min mile!

Stillwater Lift Bridge: I was able to join a lot of TNC members for this race.

The TNC crew! Minus Jeff and Christina.
Nate warned me several times before the race to run smart & not try to "race". It was really warm and humid out (almost 100% humidity). I agreed, although grumbled a little bit about it - it would be fun to actually see what I could do at 26 weeks pregnant!

I finished in 23:45, running in control and with a smile on my face the entire time. Sounds super cheesy, but I appreciated every step of the run & was just so thankful to be out there :). The Lift Bridge race was really well run, and I'd definitely consider going back. The course is rolling with a few ups and downs, so not the fastest, but it's a nice route. I think the 10 miler was much hillier.
Nate and Craig at the start of the 10 mile. Craig won in 58:34, but was listed in the 5k results at first, as was the 2nd male finisher who came in under an hour. It was humorous to see Craig's name so far down in the 5k results :)
I'd love to find a couple more fun 5ks to do between now and October - anyone have any fun ones to recommend?

Pregnancy:

My 25 week appointment went great. My OB measured my fundal height at 24 cm, which is within the normal range (yeah!). Apparently the normal range is within 2 cm of the # of weeks along (i.e. at 25 weeks normal would be 23-27).

26 weeks
Next appointment will be at 28 weeks, where I get to take the glucose test and get my second butt shot :) 

Heartburn continues to be an issue. My longest streak without throwing up is about 2 days. One evening last week I just couldn't stop dry heaving - it was as if my body just wanted to throw up every organ inside of me (and baby too). I then had my first braxton hicks contractions. Probably not a good thing to be throwing up hard enough to spark "practice contractions". 

That was the first time that I told Nate that this sucks. Previously I've just considered it part of the game, and really, it hasn't been bad. I compare it to training and pushing as hard as I was - and then throwing up doesn't seem so bad. Really! 

So, I'm being diligent about taking prescription strength heartburn medication and eating small meals (Nate is great about reminding me). 


Growing!!
Life Updates:

Birthday:  I turned 31! We celebrated at the cabin with homemade ice cream cake. I had no idea you could make these from scratch - not sure why I hadn't thought of that before! It was awesome!

Karen, my mother-in-law, had asked me what I wanted for my birthday a while ago. I said that I would love help getting ready for baby - at that point we just had the crib, bassinet, and ~10 pieces of clothing.

Being the amazing garage sale shopper (and mother-in-law) that she is, she totally outfitted us with most everything we'll need for baby. WOW. I actually cried. There's a story behind why this meant so much to me... but not for public viewing.

Baby Bjorn! I'm excited to use this. I hope baby likes being carried!
One of her most amazing finds? A "calf" costume! It'll even fit baby at Birkie time so he/she can join in with our TNC cheering squad then!!

A calf costume!! Can't believe it!!
Chick Fil-A: Speaking of cow costumes, our group decided to head to Chick Fil-A for the "free meal if you're dressed in a cow costume" promotion. Even Mesa came along and they gave her a chicken strip!

A car full of cows!
Our group. Yes, we are "moo-ing". Yes, that was a terrible idea. It makes for a very awkward picture.
Garage sale: This Wednesday evening while Nate was at Vakava ski practice I suddenly decided that this weekend was the most perfect weekend for a garage sale. I could open it up Thursday evening, hold it Friday (Nate had work stuff all day), and Saturday morning. We already had boxes of stuff in the garage, so it just needed to be priced. Then I'd only need to put an ad on Craigslist, make a few signs for around the neighborhood, and procure some tables.

Idea came at 9:00 pm Wednesday night. I went out to the garage and priced stuff like it was a timed contest. By the time Nate got home, 2/3 of our stuff was priced and I had posted the ad on Craigslist.

Thursday I met with the YMCA about volunteering/positions that might fit my strengths (they're opening a new facility in town!! Yeah!!), met with two athletes for an easy run around Northfield, made the neighborhood signs, went to my CSA to pick up my share of fresh veggies and another batch of basil to freeze pesto, and then rushed home to open the garage and set things out.

I'm happy to say things went well! We got rid of so much more than I expected (I swear, it was all junk that I set out...), made a lot more than I expected (awesome), and was able to spend a lot of time catching up and truly "meeting" our neighbors. If nothing else, the neighbor conversations were the highlight of this last-minute idea - plus, it was just a lot of fun to have done something crazy with so little planning :)

Baby quilt: 

Learning how to piece a quilt together with Karen

Now machine quilting "in the ditch". I'm keeping it simple for my first machine quilted quilt.

Now, thanks to down-time at the garage sale, I was able to finish hand sewing the binding. Now it's done - just waiting to be used by baby!!!

Signing off for now! I have to run to the restroom - baby is currently kicking me in the bladder :)

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