I moved!

No we didn’t sell our house… I moved my blog! Please direct your browsers, eyes, Google Reader, bookmarks, etc to www.hit-the-bricks.com . Its pretty similar, a little different, and I’m excited to hear what you think!

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Blogtoberfest and changes are coming

Last Thursday I attended Boston Blogtoberfest. This was my first blogging event and I wasn’t sure what to expect… but it was so fun! It was held at Ginger Park, and it was my first time there. Unfortunately, I think I got there too late for any of the food and I only had wine… no fun cocktails. But everyone said the food was great! The decor was very swanky and fun. I felt like I was under one of those wooden model dinosaurs that I made as a kid.

Jenny Frazier did a great job putting this event together! It was advertised well, there were fun raffles, and there were lots of people there! I had a great time meeting some of my Twitter friends and blog friends, including Michelle of Fun and Fearless in Beantown! She blog about food and her fun adventures around the city, I love her blog! Definitely a fun and good resource!

I also met Jen from Beantown Baker who blogs about… baking! Her blog is delicious. She also blogs about a project for the troops she’s working on, and other resourceful stuff. We were two of the last people there!

I had a great time meeting all kinds of people, it was definitely worth the trip in!

During and after Blogtoberfest, I received some positive and not-as-positive comments on my blog. I’m in the process of moving it over to its new address as we speak! Along with the change in address, I’m going to focus more on what I’ve been told are the good things about Hit the Bricks… food/exercise tips, and writing about my adventures as part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle. I started this blog as a running blog, but my goal has really become to show readers how easy it is to have health and fitness be part of life but still stay balanced. Once the new blog is up and running, you’ll be the first to know! Its coming this week!

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Its the most wonderful time of the year…

Okay, the second most wonderful time.

FALL has really exploded up here in the Granite State!

And its exploded at my house 🙂

In other news, I returned to the gym yesterday. Because of my sickness, I didn’t go for almost a month! I felt a little like I was being a big baby, but I try to listen to my body. I finally feel back to normal health-wise, but not body-wise. I was feeling weak and slow. And my posture was suffering!

I went to the gym and hopped on the elliptical for a bit and then did

  • Dumbbell front-raises x12
  • Plie Squats x12
  • Side Planks 30 seconds
  • Wall Squats 30 seconds
  • Hammer Curls x10
  • Chair dips x6
  • Stability ball back extensions x8
  • Plank 1 minute

And I repeated that for a total of 3 times.

I have to say, I am not the biggest fan of this kind of workout. I much prefer working on one muscle group at a time. That way, I feel like I’m working harder. However, after taking some time off, I know I need a couple of weeks to ease back into a routine, so a circuit worked perfectly.

Today my back and my glutes hurt! I used to be able to do that circuit no problem, it was an easy workout. Yesterday, I used light weights and didn’t push it too hard, and I was STILL sore today! I laughed in spite of myself, and took it in stride. It just made me realize how strong I was before, and I can’t wait to get back there.

How do you get back into it after time off?

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31 Days of Scary Movies: The Ring

For the month of October, I will be posting reviews of scary movies. The opinions in these reviews, unless otherwise noted, are all mine.

This review is another guest post from my brother, David. And he knows the prank at the end is funny because he’s done it before. Guess who he played it on.

The Ring

“Seven Days” should be a pretty recognizable quote for everyone by now.  The Ring, based off Japanese film “Ringu” tells the tale of a movie that kills people a week after they watch it.  Well for an overly simplistic plotline, it’s basically saying “bloody mary” in the mirror, and instead of a ghost killing you right away, you get to wait for seven days.  For a longer plotline, well….

Okay, so there’s an urban legend that there is this movie where if you watch it, someone will tell call you right after it ends and say “Seven Days”, and you die a week later.  These two school girls watch it, and sure enough, one of them dies with a look of pure terror on her face.  Her aunt Rachel, played by Naomi Watts, goes investigative journalist and starts investigating the rumors and the death.  She decides to watch the film far away from her creepy son Aiden, so she goes to a cabin in the middle of nowhere that dead-girl watched it at originally.  She gets the fated phone call, so naturally the next day feels a need to show the film to her sons father, because hey, if you get cursed you might as well curse your ex while you are at it.  So she gets nightmares, and nosebleeds, and discovers that putting evil little girls in a mental institute will make a magic video tape that kills people.

For a PG-13 movie, this film was pretty scary.  It didn’t rely on too many jump scares, the killer film was pretty disturbing, and many lines wind up staying scary after the credits role.  Of course the idea that what is on the TV can actually reach out and affect you makes for a great sense of tension when you are actually watching the TV right then and there.  A whole lot of the movie doesn’t make sense, including the motivation for the ending, why Aiden calls his mother by her first name, or how this movie created a separate genre of scary movies.  But an American version of a Japanese movie is bound to be a little confusing.

From a personal level, I was not scared by this movie.  It was too formulaic for me.  I enjoyed it however, because it followed the formula so well.  I enjoy having people watch this one because they fall for the scares.  It seems more like a How-To movie than an actual scary movie.  As a great prank though, have your cell phone out and ready to call the number of whoever is watching it for when the credits start to roll.  I promise they will stare distrustfully at the phone while it rings and refuse to answer.

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Winemaking for the non-winemaker Part 2

More winemaking! A couple of weeks ago, we went to Erm’s parents house to crush the grapes to make wine. You can read about that here.

The next step was to press the grapes and filter the juice back into the barrels for storage. First up, my father-in-law tapped the keg. This is where the saying comes from!

We also taste it. For quality control. It still tastes a lot like plain grape juice, but you can definitely tell its turning into wine!

Over the past couple of weeks, the juice has been coming out of the grapes, and all the pulp, skins, and stems float to the top.

So when the juice is all done coming out, we turn the keg on its side and pull out that pulpy stuff.

And then it goes into the homemade press, where it gets pressed tightly and even more juice comes out. This juice is more potent. It gets put back in with the first juice.

While the grapes were being pressed, we were busy straining the juice back into the kegs.

And now, 74 gallons of red grape juice is sitting in a keg and getting busy making itself into wine at my in-laws’ house. We won’t see it again until April, when it is ready to come home with us. At that point, we’ll be set for the rest of the year!

Its a bit of work, but just like with the tomato puree that we did in August, its completely worth it to us to know where it comes from, and there’s definitely a sense of pride knowing that we had a hand in making it. Not to mention the Italian traditions that my husband’s family keeps alive by doing this kind of work. Its all good!

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Race recap: Tufts 10K for Women, October 11 2010

On Monday I ran the Tufts 10K for Women in Boston! I ran this race 3 years ago as my second race, although it felt like my first. I had great memories of the race, so I was excited to run it again!

I was working on my speed to run the race in 60:00 or less. I was doing SO well… until I got sick! I had a sinus infection and brochitis, and it just wasn’t the kind of sick that I could run through. I had a couple of runs in the 3 weeks leading up to the race, and they left me feeling horrible. I figured it would be best to rest and get better for race day. So… I amended my goal to 62:00, which would be 10 minute miles. Given how much faster I was running over the summer, I thought that was reasonable.

I ate my favorite pre-race meal the night before, drank water all weekend, and went to bed early. I woke up feeling rested, hydrated and strong! I drove myself to the T, took the train to Boston Common, registered, and found Lauren!

After some chatting and walking around, we headed for the start, which was madness! Over 8,000 women (& a few men) ran this race and everyone was trying to walk up the same set of stairs to get out of the Common and into the street! Lauren likened it to “a middle school dance where there was a fire”. We had to climb over the railing of the stairs and push our way to the road. So many people!

That white and blue banner in the distance is the start.
I think it took 6 or 7 minutes to get across the start line. There was a funnel for us all to go through to get there, which made the going very slow! I was feeling claustrophobic and couldn’t wait to bust out and run!

See me? With the braid?

The first 3 miles or so was very claustrophobic. I felt like I was constantly jockeying for position and weaving in and out of people. It really can’t be helped when there’s that many people running, but it really wasn’t the strong and relaxing start I was hoping for. However, it was very empowering for everyone. Mostly women run this race, and there were lots of shirts supporting and worn by cancer survivors, stroke survivors, etc. The middle of the race is run along the Charles, then there’s a hairpin turn and you run down the other side of the road. I was running by the people on the other side and being aggrevated about all the weaving in and out and I knew I was nowhere near the pace I wanted to be and then on the other side I saw a woman on crutches, with an above-knee amputation, motoring along. She was going as fast as she could, and it was totally inspiring. All my negative thoughts flew out of my head.

Around mile 4 we buttonhooked back again and headed toward the bridge to cross the Charles. Some runners (including myself) took advantage of the sidewalk and grass on the side of the street. I sped up as much as I could while still pacing myself. On the bridge I took a GU because I was starting to feel tired. The crowd of runners thinned out for the rest of the race and I was able to pick up my pace for the final 2 miles. The last mile was awesome, with lots of people standing and cheering. And lots of little kids giving high fives! Nothing to help push you along like strangers high fiving you!

I stretched my long legs out and sprinted across the finish. I think I had a little extra gas left and probably could have started sprinting earlier. My official time was 1:04:17. 10:20/mile. I’ve been trying so hard not to beat myself up about my time since I was sick… and the first half of the race was so crowded. I’m not blaming anyone else for it, I think I just should have started farther up, or been more aggressive about getting through the crowd. Regardless, if I run this race again, I don’t think I’ll set a time goal for myself. Its a race I think I should just run and enjoy running 🙂

Do you always have a goal? Or do you run some races ‘just for fun’?

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I’ve never been so excited to cut onions…

I have so many posts bouncing around in my head, but wanted to share this gem with you.  After Morgan Tweeted and posted about her boyfriend having issues cutting onions this weekend, I realized I’m not the only one who HATES cutting onions! Ironically, I love their flavor and use them whenever I can. One tip I’ve learned over the years is to put the onion in the freezer about a half hour before you’re going to be cutting it. Freezing it keeps those juices from flowing all willy-nilly and making you tear up. But… sometimes its hard to remember to put an onion in the freezer a half hour before you cook. Its a real problem for me. Imagine my delight when I opened my birthday gift from Charlotte and pulled out these onion goggles!!!  I didn’t even know they existed! So I wanted to share… there’s hope!! I haven’t used them yet, but I will be this week!

Oh and that book? I can’t wait to make EVERYTHING in it. It was also extra thoughtful, because I am a goat cheese addict. My long-term goal is to have some goats and make my own someday 😉

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31 Days of Scary Movies: The Mist

For the month of October, I will be posting reviews of scary movies. The opinions in these reviews, unless otherwise noted, are my own.

The Mist

 (Source)

I have a confession to make: I am a Stepehen King nut. I’ve read lots of his books, seen lots of his movies, and I love them all. I, like many other King fans, was so excited to see this movie when it came out. It is based on one of his most popular short stories. It was adapted by Frank Darabont, who also worked on “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile”, which were great films. He seems to have a good handle on how to turn a King story into a great movie.

Not everyone loves this movie, though. I did. It was very true to the story, and I thought the casting was great. I was curious how the monsters were going to come to life and not be cheesy, as in the book they’re pretty scary. I have to say… they were just a little cheesy. However, this story is not so much about the monsters, as about the mob mentality that affects those people that are trapped in the supermarket by the Mist and what it brings. Marcia Gay Harden plays an awesome Mrs. Carmody, the Bible-thumping, holier than thou town crazy who gets one group of people to turn against everyone else. The most disturbing death in the movie ultimately comes at the hands of this group, making the fear caused by the Mist the real villian.

The ending of this movie is quite disturbing, and is the second reason that people don’t like the film. Its controversial, sickening, and King said he wishes he thought of it himself. That’s all I’ll say about it. But if you’re watching the movie and are kind of not into it… just watch it til the end. You’ll like it or hate it, but it will hit you one way or the other. I do recommend this film, you just need to take the monster part for what it is… monsters in the mist! Pay more attention to how the folks handle being trapped by them.

Fun Facts (from IMDB)

  • Frank Darabont agreed to make the film with Dimension as long as they agreed not to change the scripted ending. They agreed.
  • The movie is set in Maine but was filmed in Lousiana. Stephen King couldn’t tell the difference.
  • Shot in 37 days
  • Thomas Jane’s second Stephen King movie. He was also in Dreamcatcher.
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31 Days of Scary Movies: Session 9

Today’s review comes as a guest post from my brother, David.

Session 9

 (Source)

Session 9 is one of the greatest suspense movies that no one saw. Filmed in 2001, the movie follows an asbestos clean-up crew cleamiing up abandoned mental institute, Danvers State Mental Institute. The team, led by Gordon Fleming played by Scottish actor and film-maker Peter Mullan, suffers from high levels of stress caused by both personal conflicts, and the deadline Gordon forced on them to get the bid for the job. Each character relies heavily on no-so-subtle exposition during lunch breaks to relay their personal stories, but far more subtle insights into their motivations from their time by themselves while on the job, and facial expressions. Something one would rarely expect from Gordon’s right hand man Phil played by the CSI Miami pose-mugging David Caruso, yet he undeniably gets one of the best zoom ins in film history during a suspense filled conversation. Sueriously, the movie is worth watching just to see the deadpan stereotype acting with emotion.

Filling out the team we have Gordon’s nephew Jeff, who suffers from nyctophobia or fear of the dark, Hank played by Josh Lucas who we find as obnoxious and insufferable a role as he always plays, and Mike, the man who winds up listening to the tapes which feature as the movie’s theme.

The suspense and ultiimate villain of this film is the abandoned hospital itself, which let’s face it, is the scariest setting for a scary movie next to an abandoned elemetary school. There’s something about long brick hallways and parallel rooms that speak to us of being trapped in a prison. As Mike listens to the tapes of one patient, “Mary”, the disturbing tale of how she wound up in the institute coincides well with the team’s slow descent into their own caustic troubles, leading to an ending which still leaves me with goosebumps every time.

One of those unsung sleepers, Session 9 as a scary movie has been getting more attention. With very little blood or gore, the psychological depths this film plumes plays on some of those great fears all people have when alone. Set primarily in the daylight, the characters’ dialogues and own personal demons force the imagination into dark places and leaves the watcher without a feeling catharsis, as though the movie is still happening and terrible things could occur at any time, which for a suspense movie is really important.

On a personal note, I spoke with the lead make-up designer for the film after seeing it, and without knowing he was involved in the project, Joe Rossi. He told me each of the actors for this film were considerably disturbed by the location. This was confirmed by David Caruso himself in trivia taken from IMDB.

He reports in the official Production Notes that he saw “something pass my window” when shooting inside the Bonner Medical Building of Danvers State Hospital. “I didn’t want to tell anybody, because people would start looking at me strangely…”

Only 3 rooms had additions outside of the natural setting for atmosphere, the kitchen had meat hooks hung, the tunnel had plastic surgical gloves hung up, and the hydrotherapy room had a metal tub added. Almost everything else related to the asylum setting was found on site as the crew scoured the building for set dressing to keep things authentic.

The film only ever used a very small percentage of the building as most of it was off limits as it was unsafe.

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31 Days of Scary Movies: Amityville Horror (2005)

For the month of October, to celebrate the season of Halloween, I will be posting a review of a movie for each day. Movies will be old, new, vampire, slasher, zombie, ghosts, etc. If you are curious about any movies, shoot me an email! These opinions, unless otherwise noted, are all my own.

AMITYVILLE HORROR

Ok I’m going to be honest and throw it out there. One of the best parts of this movie is that Ryan Reynolds spends a good amount of it shirtless, nude, competing in a wet tshirt contest, or doing manual labor.

In addition to that, I really enjoyed this movie. The beginning gives you just enough time to settle in and get comfortable before crazy things start happening in the house. I haven’t seen the original in awhile, so I don’t feel right comparing them just yet. There are definitely some startling moments as well as some more subtle scares. The one thing I didn’t like was the part where the history of the house was described. As usual, it made the supernatural part of the movie a little less scary, because it actually (kind of) explained what was going on.

What’s great is Ryan Reynolds’ casual descent into craziness. The scariest moments of this movie happen toward the middle, with some ghostly happenings, a claustrophobic closet scene, and RR acting just plain weird. The end has some action, but isn’t necessarily scary… more action/suspenseful. Its still a very fun movie to watch for the house, the story, and the scares.

Oh, and this.

source

Me-ow.

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