Friday, January 31, 2014

25 Things You Didn't Know About

My favorite thing to do on the elliptical is read trashy magazines.  It's been proven to multiply your energy five-fold, after all.

The only beef I have with those trashy articles is that seem to pick the most uninteresting people to highlight.  I mean, the only thing Kim Kardashian's ever really done is have a big butt... and I've been doing that for years!

Luckily for you, I choose only the very best people to showcase here on Not Before my Tea.  So throw down your crummy old US Magazine, because Miley hasn't got a thing on my January sponsor, Kaelene.

15 Super Convenient Things about Being a Runner

One of the top search terms people use to find my site is "annoying runner."  Which is sort of offensive.

But I guess it is my fault for writing that post "The Weird and Annoying Crap that Runners Do."  That post is by far the most popular post I've written but I often wonder: was making myself into a pinnable meme worth being forever labeled by Google as an "annoying runner"?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

An Open Letter:
How Do You Like Me Now?

To the Editors of the Skimm:

Hi again.  It's me, Nicole.  Remember me?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My Dad is a Genius
(and I’m Potentially a Serial Killer)

You may think you know a lot about me but I bet you don't know this: my dad is a genius.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Another Controversial Post

If you read my post last Friday, you might be waiting to hear if my sass landed me a spot on GOMI.  Well, I haven't thoroughly combed every thread but from what I can see... still nothing.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Blog Reader Appreciation Series Part 15: Rocks

There's nothing quite as infuriating as broken promises.  Like when Al Gore told us that the globe was warming.  Or when ol' Barry told us we could keep our health insurance plan if we wanted.

These lies make our dropped health coverage and our polar vortex-ed extremities that much more maddening.  So as the biggest winter grump of them all, I promised myself that I would never make a promise I couldn't keep.

But I did.  Last week, after I wrote that gloppy, mushy, personal post about Derrick, I promised one of my most dedicated readers, Haley, that I would cut that crap out.  Specifically, I promised that the next day I would talk about something much less sappy.  I said I would talk about rocks.

Yet I didn't talk about rocks.  Didn't even have the courtesy to mention them, in fact.  And even now as I sit down with the sole intention of writing about rocks, I still have nothing to say.

Frankly, I think rocks suck.  They really don't do much of anything for me unless I'm trapped in a glass house.  And even in that situation, I think I'd prefer a stone.

So this Blog Reader Appreciation is dedicated to all the Haleys out there, the one's who've been lied to, deceived, and all together let down.  I know you were expecting rocks and dead polar bears, but this is the best I can do.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Derrick: Man in the Big City

Due to popular demand, today I’m going to tell the story of how Derrick moved to Chicago.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Blogging and Running: They're Really the Same Thing

If you're not a runner, you probably don't read when I post about running and exercise.

And I don't blame you, really.  If you aren't passionate about running, you recognize that all I'm really talking about is repeatedly putting one foot in front of the other.  Unless you've just stolen something or are being chased by an animal bigger than you, you don't have much use for it at all... right?

Wrong!  I know that I should have told you earlier, but running and blogging are actually the same thing. So every time you've thought to yourself, "Nope, no bears behind me today," and skipped over my post... you've actually been "marking as read" the most relevant post to your blog after my tutorial on how to grow your blog's readership.

Not convinced?  Let me explain.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The 4 Types of Exercisers

Early last Saturday morning, I was in quite a predicament: it was 12 degrees and I had a 14 mile run scheduled.  The forecast was calling for snow, a forecast that's probably as necessary as "plants will continue to produce oxygen this afternoon" at this point, but annoying nonetheless.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Blog Reader Appreciation Series Part 14

As many of us are sitting around in our underwear on this third Monday in January, I think that we can all agree: Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great guy.  His courage and compassion still inspires us more than 40 years after his death (and rightly so).

But you know who gets lost in this celebration?  Martin's mother.  I mean, not only did she give birth to one of the most celebrated civil rights activists in history... she had really great timing.  It's like she knew that America would be getting over a nasty holiday hangover mid January, not ready to go back to 5 day workweeks.

So not only did she bless America with a true hero, she did it at the most convenient time possible.  And for that, Alberta (aka Martin's mother), we thank you.

But more than just thank her, we should also learn a lesson from her.  Because sometimes, timing is everything... no matter what you're doing.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Three Pretty Blondes

If you're the kind of person with a keen eye for detail, you probably noticed that I've had a few more people on my sidebar lately.  And if you haven't noticed, why don't you stop reading right now and take a look.

Don't worry, you didn't overdo it on the NyQuil last night; you're not seeing double.  (Or quadruple, I guess.) There are actually four more blondes over there.

So without further ado, I want to introduce you to a few of my favorite ladies of blog town.  Because besides just making my sidebar a whole lot prettier, they're pretty interesting people to know.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Sitting is the New Smoking

Way back when I was just an onlooker of the blog world, Lindsay's blog, The Lean Green Bean, was one of the few blogs I knew about.  And I stalked it religiously.  I was convinced that one day, I too would be able to come up with and actually make healthy meals just like she did.

And I got pretty close; the only thing holding me back was that I can't cook.

Ok, you got me: me preparing a meal that remotely resembles something from her site is unlikely.  The same way that my Cockapoo learning Portuguese is unlikely.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

4 Ways to Increase Your Blog's Readership

One way or another, I’m sure you’ve read one of the many “How to Increase Your Blog Traffic” articles out there.  Reading one is pretty much a standard blogger rite of passage, right up there with an acceptable “About Me” page and owning a dog.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The second part of a very long story

This is the second part of a very long story.  I suggest reading the first part first.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The first part of a very long story

I don’t do a whole lot of entirely personal posts on my blog anymore because… well frankly, I don’t think they’re as interesting to most readers.  My blog is almost reaching its first anniversary though so I think it’s time to tell the story of how it started.  And even if it’s not that time, this is my blog so I make the rules around this joint.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Blog Reader Appreciation Series Part 13

Have you ever wondered what happens to two feet of snow once the temperature rises above freezing? Ever thought about where it all goes?

Well I'll tell you... It goes nowhere.  It actually just sits around town in deceptively deep puddles. And no, it doesn't have the courtesy to do it out of the way like a respectable puddle.  No, it sits in the middle of sidewalks and running trails.  Just sits there in six inches of pure evil, waiting for women and men trying to catch the bus in their work pants or just trying to get a long run in without 25 stops along the way.

But enough about the weather.  I'm sure you've heard about it more than you would have liked already, anyway.

But the thing about all of this rain and cold and snow is that it's given me the bug.  The travel bug, that is.  I thought it was something I'd get over as soon as my toes thawed out but it's been lingering around and I've found myself, more often than I'd like to admit, checking out airfare to Spain or Iceland.  The Groupon Destination page is now my browser's homepage and I just can't stop.

I need to get out of here, even just for a little while.

The thing is, I don't think I'm the only one who feels like there's something I need to do.  So this one, this is for all of you: the ones feeling like there's something you just need to be doing more of.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Five Annoying Things People Do Online
(that I don't really mind)

In this day and age, the infuriating kid isn’t the one who doesn’t believe in deodorant or the one always mooching off your lunch.  We now live in a world where the most offensive crimes of annoyance are those committed online.

I’m sure you’ve heard the griping but you know what?  I don’t really get it.  Which is why I’m bringing you…

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

React Mobile

I am being compensated by React Mobile to provide my honest review.  All opinions and jokes are my own.

Marathon training is not comfortable.  Training for the Boston Marathon in Chicago while juggling a full time job, a blog, and some semblance of a social life can be downright painful.

Don't get me wrong; I love running.  But mix in a little workweek fatigue and sub-zero wind chill, and “love” becomes a lot more like “barely tolerate.”

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I almost lost my feet

In the words of the wise Counting Crows, "You don't know what you got 'til it's gone."  And it's true; you should appreciate the little things.  Like climate control.  And feeling in your feet.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Blog Reader Appreciation Part 12:
This One's All About You (Link-Up!)

Note: Before you get preoccupied watching cats slip off of tables, this post is my first ever link-up.  So if you have a blog, link up!  Because if no one does, it's like no one came to my party.  And that's just sad.

When I left Florida for Chicago, I thought, "Finally, I'll get to experience winter.  Maybe even fall and spring too."  When the first snowfall hit Chicago, you'd have thought I was a cat in a catnip garden.

Well I'm here to tell you now that seasons are HUGELY overrated.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Got a New 'Do

This post is pretty unnecessary really, but I thought that I should apologize for or at least acknowledge that I've redone my blog design again.  According to Derrick, I am changing it way too often which might upset the delicate balance of blog world or something like that.

But just like when you get a new haircut and you spend the next three weeks confirming that yes, you did indeed get a new haircut... I am confirming that yes, indeed it does look different here.

Like I said, unnecessary.

I'd like to be polite and stay to chat but it's a sweltering 30 degrees outside and I'm heading out for a run.  (I need to capitalize when I can.)

I'll leave you with this: where I will be pretending I am for the next hour.

Happy Weekend!

I'm not totally finished with the new design but I hope you like it so far.  And if you don't, just close your eyes.  It might feel like nothing's changed at all.

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Friday, January 3, 2014

This is How You Know You're Getting Old

This Friday, I’m going to tell you a tale about New Year’s Eve 2013.  It’s not quite at blockbuster movie level, but it's definitely more interesting than clipping your toenails.

Let me start by saying that I have followed traditional New Year’s Guidelines for the majority of my legal years (i.e. wear lots of sparkles, see and be seen, and pretend it’s not freezing balls outside).

But this year, no more.  For several reasons:
  1. Derrick’s 17 year old brother is in town.  I’ve done many morally questionable things in my life, but taking my boyfriend’s underage brother to a bar will not be one of them.
  2. Derrick had to be at work at 8 AM the next day.  WTF.
  3. In case you didn’t hear, it’s cold in Chicago.  As in, the high for next Monday is -8.  Take a moment for that to sink in.

    It was actually a balmy 7 degrees on New Year’s Eve, but it was also 6 hours in to a 48 hour snowstorm that sucked from me my will to get dressed up, leave my apartment, and just generally exist.
But just because I wasn’t going to be in skintight glitter didn’t mean that I was taking the holiday lightly. I mean, it’s New Year’s after all.  New beginnings and opportunities and resolutions and eating better and loving God and writing in planners and… America.

So I designated myself chief party planner and I began planning our party for three.  First thing was to do a bit of delegating.  I put Derrick in charge of entertainment and steak, and his brother in charge of manning the sofa.

And I was in charge of everything else.

It took me a little less than 2 hours after work but I made it back through the snow with all of the ingredients for stuffed mushrooms, garlic bread, vodka-icing cupcakes, and a variety of champagne cocktails.

Derrick, Head Gamekeeper, got home 45 minutes later with shrimp, 2 pounds worth of rib-eyes, and the evening’s entertainment.  Unfortunately, the other Gamekeepers in Chicago beat Derrick to the punch (that is, to Walgreens).  So by the time Derrick got there, they didn’t really have much New Year’s stuff left.

So that's how we ended up wearing Mardi Gras beads as I explained to Derrick and his brother the rules of Spoons.  Turns out that they weren’t too impressed with the game (I don’t know what kind of expectations they had for it, really), so they ended up playing Kings in the Corner while I began preparing our feast.

First things first, I started with the cupcakes (priorities).  I haven’t done a whole lot of baking since the infamous Eyelash Scorching Incident of 2011, but what’s a party without some liquor infused icing?

Looking back on it, I’m not sure why I thought this was a good idea.  Evidently, Derrick handles vodka pretty much the same way a slug handles salt.

I thought they were delicious but Derrick was not amused.

(On a side note: Derrick agreed that their only flaw was the vodka.  Assuming that you’re not attending a party with people possessing Derrick’s impressive vodka detection, you'll be a hit if you show up with a batch of these suckers.  Stephanie in particular knows her treats.)

My second attempt went over a bit better than the vodka: a Pinterest inspired rock candy cocktails.  What says New Year’s better than blue, crunchy champagne?

And then, of course, there was the food.  All of the glorious, glorious food brimming over my JCPenney dinnerware.

I had finally bit the bullet and bought our little family its first mixing bowl, so I was able to bring some spinach and cheese stuffed mushrooms to the table.  I also made some homemade garlic bread and Derrick cooked up some shrimp.

The rib-eyes definitely stole the show though, and this is coming from Oatmeal-For-Every-Meal Nicole.

The night and the year ended with me snuggled up under a blanket with Derrick and feeling unnecessarily nervous as the 30 second countdown to midnight began.  (Am I the only one who gets panicky about countdowns?)

Just after midnight, as we reminisced about the ball we saw drop an hour earlier in NYC, I fulfilled my role as chief event planner with some sappy reflection on how good 2013 was to us.  I harassed Derrick and his brother into naming the best and worst moments of 2013.

It was evidently one hell of a year for all of us in 2013.  Between huge moves and new jobs, it was hard for us to come up with just one moment.  Derrick really stole my heart (again) with his answer for the best thing about 2013: coming to Chicago to be with me.

His worst moment? "Poisoned cupcakes."

Oh well, there’s always next year.

Happy Friday!  It's the second one this week, so live it up.

Linking up with Sarah and Whitney.  Again.  This time, with the best jams of '98.
Because it's the New Year, after all.

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Actually, Doubling Bagging Sometimes is the Best Policy

It's the New Year and you know what that means: time to stretch the ol' fighting arms to use against the masses of Resolution Ronalds out there, hogging all the treadmills.  It's also time to reflect on all of the things that you wouldn't otherwise think about.

I guess that's not true in the case though; completely uprooting my life gives me a lot to think about.  And more importantly, I have a blog now which makes this kind of reflection sort of mandatory.

Hey, I don't make the rules.

1. When in doubt, Google it.  A year ago, I was working in a biochemistry research lab in South Florida.

Lab life wasn't for me so I did what any educated professional feeling lost, overwhelmed, and without purpose would do: I Googled it.  Specifically, I Googled, "What can I do with a biochemistry degree?"

Now I'm registering to be a patent agent in Chicago.

Who says a search engine can't shape your future?

2. Don't commute in heels.  Why don't they have this posted at the Chicago Midway Airport for those of us who spent the first 22 years of our lives in tennis shoes?  You just don't do public transportation in office shoes.  Best case scenario, you'll end up with soggy pant hems.  Worse case scenario, you're looking at an alarming skin infection.

3. Double bagging isn't always the best policy, but sometimes it is.  Like when you're walking two blocks home from Walmart with a week's worth of groceries.  Greek yogurt and bananas have no place on city sidewalks.

4. Wear sunscreen.  Just do it.

5. Going on day trips with your coworkers is a bit awkward, unless you do it in a stripper-pole equipped party bus.  Then it's extremely awkward.

6. When someone asks if you like scavenger hunts, the answer is yes.  That is, unless you don't like 400 extra dollars.  Then I guess you can say no.

7. Bloody Marys are always the solution.

8. People never win radio giveaways.  Except when they do, so never give up.  Magic happens and it occasionally involves Miley without a shirt.

9. A marathon really hurts.  There's no getting around this one.  Training for and completing one is an inexplicable feeling and truly one of the most personally gratifying things I've experienced.  But there's something to be said about the first guy who ran 26.2 miles at once.  (Spoiler: he died.)

10. If you like what you do, own it.  Just do you, and don't let any Reddit user try and stop you.  Not everyone's going to like you but as long as you feel good about what you're doing, let the haters hate.

11. Relationships are hard and there will be times that you might not think it's worth it.  But every once in a while, you find one that is.

12. Friends who brunch together, stay together.

13. In the end, all that really matters is the people you love.  Bloody Marys may come in a close second though.

It's been one hell of a ride, 2013.  I'm sad to see you go.
Happy New Year!  Have a New Year's Mimosa for me.

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