Friday Favorites

Oh Friday, you are finally here. It was 70* in D.C. yesterday and we’re approaching a 3 day weekend, so I could just end my list of favorites for the week right here, but it’s going to snow tomorrow so I need to remind myself of all the other fun things that have been going on. 🙂

FF.jpg

First on the list: watching the Olympics Opening Ceremony with friends. We had quite the spread of food, and no shortage of conversation! There were probably 20 of us, and while I tried to read the captions, we all ended up just talking about what we were seeing and catching up about other random things. 🙂 I have loved turning on the TV all week and seeing the stories of how athletes got to where they are!

Second favorite, although it is very lazy…watching the live stream of church from the couch. I loved this so much! Does it sound better if I say this last weekend we got more rain in 3 days than we have all fall/winter combined and I just didn’t want to go outside? Maybe. Also, only in D.C. would you listen to a sermon called “State of the Church”. 🙂

Can I also just say there are WAY too many things I enjoy watching on TV right now? This is a serious first world problem, but right now my favorites include The Olympics, The Bachelor, Celebrity Big Brother, The Amazing Race, and Bachelor Winter Games. How do I have time to do anything else, you ask? I never watch these shows live and fast forward through all of the commercials. #favorite

Tuesday was a fun day because I had lunch scheduled with two of my coworkers. I always bring my lunch, and I quite enjoying eating by myself. It’s my time to reset during the day! But it was nice to get out of the office, off campus, and eat with coworkers/friends at Paul Bakery. We had quiche and tea. Perfect Galentine’s Day lunch!

Screen Shot 2018-02-16 at 4.28.54 PM

My small group meets on Tuesday evenings, and this week we hosted a baby shower for one of the girls in our group. She is due next month with a sweet boy named Riker. 🙂 We all brought snacks to share and books for the baby. I gifted Guess How Much I Love You…who remembers that book? Plus, how creative is Shannon with her Hungry Caterpillar fruit board?!

IMG_6919

Valentine’s Day was a nice middle of the week event, too. 🙂 I had fun comparing a selfie Joe and I took right when we started dating to a more recent photo. We look so different!

IMG_6935

We planned to go to dinner and a movie, but ended up seeing our movie on Saturday afternoon (because it was raining…again) and just doing dinner on Wednesday. It was nice not to be out as late on a work night. 🙂 We ate at Paolo’s Ristorante and the red velvet cake stole the show. We exchanged small gifts, and I received the most beautiful roses!

It was a FULL week, and somehow, I am still keeping up with my training for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and the Pittsburgh Half. I haven’t legitimately followed a training plan for a race in a few years, so it is a humbling experience to be “starting over”, so to speak.

Yay for Friday and long weekends!

Advertisements

What I’ve Been Reading

For the last few years, it has been my goal to read more. I was always the friend with her nose in a book, but life has a way of making me feel really *busy* at times, and then I notice that I haven’t read anything of substance in a while. I think we all read small clips of articles or news each day via social media and other apps, but it’s a much different experience than reading a newspaper or book!

In 2017, I didn’t put any pressure on myself to read a certain number of books, but I did commit to tracking my reads on Goodreads, if for no other purpose than to just know the number of books I read during the year! Since you can track start to finish date on this website, looking back I see times where I read constantly, and other times where I read one book per month. I like this log and have already continued into 2018. The Type A part of me loves this organization. So as I start book #10 this year, I want to share my thoughts on my reads so far.

– Books That I Loved –

My top three books so far are Year of Yes, The Hate U Give, and Capital Gaines.

Year of Yes is an autobiography and that is one of my favorite kinds of books to read! I love hearing from people about their own lives. It’s probably why I like reading blogs so much. Other people’s thoughts are just interesting to me. 🙂 Plus, I am a huge fan of Shonda’s shows, so I feel like I’ve gotten to “know” her over the years. I have a whole list of fun facts about Shonda Rhimes in my brain after reading this book so somebody quiz me!


The Hate U Give
follows the life of a sixteen year old girl who attends a fancy prep school, and witnesses one of her childhood friends get shot by a policeman on the way home from a party one night. Unfortunately, this is a scenario that we have seen on the news many times in the last few years, and it was really interesting to see the story from someone else’s point of view, although it is a fictional story. I have nothing but great things to say about the story and I can’t wait to see how they portray this in a movie next year.

And of course, Capital Gaines…I just loved this. I read The Magnolia Story by Joanna last year, and I loved reading this second book from Chip’s point of view. Although everyone under the sun loves Fixer Upper and the Gainses’, I just have to say I have been watching since the first season way before anyone knew who they were. 😉

– Books That Were Good –

Little Fires Everywhere is a book that I have heard so much about, but I really had no idea what it was about before reading it. This story is about a single mom and daughter who move to an Ohio town that is essentially a utopia, and they are in close relationship with the seemingly perfect Richardson family. There were a lot of secrets among the 9 “main” characters, yet I still found myself waiting for something shocking to happen.

I have heard so many great things about Taylor Jenkins Reid, so recently I’ve read One True Loves and Maybe In Another Life. I really enjoyed Maybe In Another Life because after the first part of the storyline was set up, each chapter alternated back and forth between two different paths the main character could have taken in life. The author never revealed which path the character took, and yet it wasn’t like one of those “choose your adventure books” either because you never chose what happened next. I really had to think about which scenario I saw the character in, because it seemed like she could have gone either way and I wasn’t sure if I preferred one to the other!

One True Loves was about a woman who married her high school sweetheart, only to become a widow on their first anniversary when his helicopter crashed. Once she has moved on and gotten re-engaged, her first husband is found. I mean! I did enjoy seeing how this story played out because again, I wasn’t sure if I preferred one relationship to the other. I don’t know if I will continue reading this author. They are light, easy reads, but I always seem to leave the book feeling so-so.

– Books I Abandoned –

“Abandoning” a book is something that I used to teach as a second grade teacher. 🙂 I am not very good at this myself, but essentially, abandoning a book gives you permission to quit reading when you realize you aren’t really that interested. I think most of us will admit we have pushed through books just to count it as “read” before!

I abandoned You Don’t Have To Live Like This by Benjamin Markovits. I think it was recommended to me in my library app, so I put it on reserve and went to pick it up the next day. However, I never found myself connecting with the main character and I couldn’t get a sense of where the story was going. It also only has a rating of 2.9 on Goodreads. Oh, well!

– Book Confessions –

I “read” Single State of Mind by Andi Dorfman on Audible. Listening to her narrate her story was like listening to a 9 hour podcast. I loved every minute, and now when I watch her Instagram story, it feels like a friend is talking. Hahaha

I read the first 100 and last 70 pages of a book, and seriously thought about quitting there. I have never in my life skipped ahead and read the end of a book, but The Break Down by B.A. Paris had me so nervous I had to know what was going to happen! I realized recently that I can read mysterious or “scary” books if the main character is strong and confident (i.e. The Woman In Cabin 10 and Behind Closed Doors. Both main characters are constantly thinking about how to get out of their situations). If the main character is nervous and freaking out, then so am I. In this case, the main character was about losing her mind, and I couldn’t even get out of bed for fear of someone grabbing my feet! Once I read the end, I went back the next day and read the middle, and I was much less nervous. 🙂 YAY for reading a scary book. Haha!

 

 

What’s Up Wednesday [January]

Hello, hello! Joining Shay, Mel, and Sheaffer for What’s Up Wednesday today. Here’s what’s been happening.

WhatsUpWedUpdated

What I’m eating this week:

Last Sunday, I stood in the kitchen cooking meals for the week. It worked out so well! But this week, I refused to meal plan and it’s all about the simple stuff. Like this Mexican Chicken Cauliflower Rice skillet and random omelettes and grilled cheese sandwiches. I also have one Blue Apron meal left in the fridge, so maybe that will motivate me to cook. 🙂

What I’m reminiscing about:

Brunch with friends at Birch and Barley! I have five girlfriends who all became friends through our local Lululemon Run Club. Some of us know each other from college, and others we met here. Now we run just as much but we don’t make it to run group very often. It’s always so fun to hang out with them. 🙂

We had bottomless coffee, yummy brunch food, and great conversation. Plus it was about 60 degrees on this Saturday so we walked around Logan Circle afterwards going in and out of shops, finally stopping for some tea.

What I’m loving:

Holiday candy, specifically Sour Patch Hearts, and finding $20 on my run. Payment for running in 20 degrees and lots of wind, I think!

What I’ve been up to:

Celebrating birthdays in the office, incorporating lots of lifting and strength work into my workouts, and enjoying the outside as much as possible. This may mean going for a walk at lunch (which cold weather makes difficult) or just opening the windows on a warmer than usual day. Fresh air makes me so happy!

What I’m dreading:

Finally figuring out what happens on This Is Us. My friends and I have so many theories but I know it will be a tearjerker!

IMG_6636

What I’m working on:

Making sure I read a little bit of something for fun every day, reading/watching professional development about project management, and growing my nails out. #eyeroll I want to get a manicure but I don’t enjoy the nail file when my nails are broken and short, so I’m trying to be patient while they grow!

What I’m excited about:

There’s still a little bit of daylight when I leave work at 5 PM! We are slowly and surely starting to move towards longer days. Woooo!

What I’m watching/reading:

“New” shows that I’m currently watching are This Is Us, Ellen’s Game of Games, The Amazing Race, and Grey’s Anatomy. But I am also in the middle of watching all the seasons of Suits of Amazon Prime and I loooove that show!

And of course I’m reading a few different things at the same time. At some point each day I read my One Year Bible. I like to always have a book with me so the paperback in my bag is The Breakdown by B.A. Paris and my Kindle has Crazy Rich Asians on it. I’m hoping to make it through that one before it’s due back at the library! And on Audible, I’m listening to Single State of Mind by Andi Dorfman.

What I’m listening to:

What I’m wearing:

Winter coats, scarves, gloves, but shockingly not boots. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve broken out my books this winter. I don’t know why I’m not in the mood to wear them! I have a pair of new Sperry boots that I’m loving, though.

What I’m doing this weekend:

I have no plans and that’s my favorite. 🙂

What I’m looking forward to next month:

A beach weekend with my mom in Atlantic City and Joe’s brother is coming to D.C. for the first time!

What else is new:

I really want a puppy so I either need recommendations about where to find a Golden Retriever in Virginia orrrr I need you to talk me out of the madness!

Bonus Question:  What’s your favorite soup recipe?

I LOVE some creamy chicken chili. This is a crockpot recipe, and also my favorite thing to take to a gathering. I got such great compliments on this soup at both a Friendsgiving and a small group event. It’s great to eat on it’s own or as a little dip with tortilla chips. You must try this 🙂

Around Town

A long weekend always has me dreaming of a quick trip away somewhere, but when President’s Day approached, I just felt like staying in town. It seemed like I had just gotten back from the holidays, so it was nice to settle in for a quiet weekend at home. On the agenda was sleeping in, dinner out, and visiting museums downtown! I find myself admitting I haven’t been to some pretty popular “tourist” locations more often than I should, so this weekend was the perfect opportunity to fix that situation. 🙂

It was still pretty chilly outside, so after lounging around inside all morning, Joe and I made our way down to the National Mall. We parked near the Tidal Basin and although it looked like a beautiful day, it was terribly windy!

We realized just how cold it was while we stood in line for the Holocaust Museum. Entry is free, but you go through a bit of security before you enter, hence the line. It didn’t take very long to get inside and warm up, though! I visited this museum once before, but it closed shortly after I arrived so I only explored the Permanent Exhibition then.

This time, we started with an interactive exhibition called Remember the Children: Daniel’s Story. You start by walking through what his house may have looked like and continue on to different parts of his family’s experience during this time. All the while, you are reading different journal entries about what he was thinking and feeling. I really liked this part of the museum and didn’t realize it was catered towards just children. We also walked through the tiles painted by American children in memory of the Holocaust and spent some time in the Hall of Remembrance. I was most shocked by the exhibit on what has been happening in Syria. It was really sobering to think of history repeating itself, and reading the notes left by visitors about their thoughts on what is happening.

The Holocaust Museum is very somber, and really makes you think. We chose our next location for two reasons: it was a bit more lighthearted, and it is filled with contemporary art, which also requires some deep thought. 🙂 The Hirshhorn Museum did not disappoint!

We started at the bottom, where walls, floor, and escalator were covered with open-ended questions and phrases. There was also an exhibit downstairs that included five very interesting videos about life in the 21st century. I don’t know that we watched any of these 5 films all the way through, but what we saw was memorable. 🙂

The Utopian Projects on the second floor all showed miniature versions of real life, such as a 60 foot long wooden sailboat made out of tiny wooden pieces that looked like toothpicks. I started to get a bit turned around on this floor because the museum is a circle and I didn’t realize I was back to where I had started. Ha!

Our final few stops were my favorite. They were simple but beautiful.

Ann Hamilton’s at hand exhibit was probably most crowded. Paper drifted down from the ceiling randomly expressing how manual labor is disappearing because of technology. This was a fun place to sit and people watch.

I was rewarded with a beautiful view out of the third story of the museum before we left. And then there was a beautiful sunset on the way home. Looking at these photos reminds me of how much I love where I live. 🙂

And finally, the most tourist-y photo of the day: Joe attempting to squeeze the Capitol building behind him. #epicfail

IMG_6412

Awkward and Awesome

One upon a time, I read a post from Morgan at The True Life of MKH about all the awkward and awesome moments in her life. Here’s all the happenings as of late. 🙂

– Awesome –

At the top of the list: the early office closing we had on the first full Monday back to work after the holidays. DC was expecting an ice storm that would make afternoon traffic a mess, so we all headed home early and continued to work remotely. Because it was so cold, everything was frozen over…including the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall. I had seen pictures on social media all weekend and had to get my own pictures too.

 

However, the below image was also pretty awesome. DC Fire and EMS trained for ice rescues on the Tidal Basin!

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 12.50.30 PM

Other awesome moments include:

 

– My brother getting glasses so we are twins. He’s not sure how he feels about the new look yet, apparently. 🙂
– Finding a book I’ve been wanting to read but refusing to purchase in the Little Library by my apartment.
– Pretty Women on TV at a restaurant while out to dinner.
– My first outdoor run with my Apple Watch in 60 degree weather.
– Dinner with one of my favorite small group friends, Louise!

– Awkward –

– That time no one decided to plow my road after a bit of snow.
– Uncorking a wine bottle and breaking the cork in half…which then fell into the bottle and disintegrated into a million little pieces.
– Getting up and moving just because your Apple Watch buzzes and tells you to.
– Christmas trees taking over the garage because pickup isn’t until three weeks after Christmas. 🙂
-When Joe and I cooked and ate an entire Blue Apron meal…and then ate two boxes of macaroni and cheese for dessert because we were still hangry.

 

So that’s life lately!

The Start of a New Year

Happy 2018!

I love the start of a new year, but I have to admit that I also feel the urge to make new resolutions in September, too. My brain just works on a school year calendar! In any case, January means a new planner and I am so excited about the one I picked up at TJ Maxx.

Each month starts with a quote and a page to write goals, to-dos, birthdays, and other important dates.

Then you have the monthly calendar, followed by the pages that go day by day. Each day has several lines for to-dos and several lines for whatever you feel like writing. I just like checking the to-dos box!

Getting my life all organized in my planner has me thinking about all the other things I’d like to do this year. Most are things I hope become habits, so let’s see how that goes. 🙂

Health

– Train & run a half marathon
– Strength train 2x/week
– Eat more intuitively

Academics/Work

– Read 1 PD book per semester
– Take an online class
– Present at a conference

Self

– Read through the One Year Bible
– Save a consistent amount of money each month

Life

– Send birthday cards
– Travel to one new-to-me place
– Write one blog post per week

 

I am excited about all of the above because they seem so do-able! What are your 2018 resolutions?!

Highlights of the Holidays

I am so grateful to have such a nice long holiday break! Although I work at a university, we don’t get all the same holiday breaks as students. However, we have time off from right before Christmas Eve through New Years and it is glorious. Pittsburgh had its first white Christmas in about five years, and I found a perfect balance of places to be and time to stay home and read. 🙂

– Celebrations –

This year, Joe and I drove back to Pittsburgh on our one year anniversary so we went straight to the restaurant where we went on our first date! I love Mexican food, so it fits that we first ate at Mad Mex together. December = my birthday, Christmas, and our anniversary, so we decided to exchange little gifts to commemorate the day.

We continued celebrating happy occasions when we spent time with Joe’s family the next day. His cousin is getting married in September, and since he lives in Florida, there’s rarely a time when the whole family is together. So, his parents hosted an engagement party for them while they were home for the holidays!

engagement

The happy couple, Brian and Lindsey, are in the middle. 🙂 Their announcement was just published in the newspaper this past week. So exciting!

– Heinz Hall –

Joe, his mom, and I met up with my mom and brothers to see Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas: The Musical at Heinz Hall downtown.

love the Grinch, and this show was really well done! I think I was expecting to see the cartoon or the movie done in a live performance, and there was much more singing in this show, because you know…musical. 🙂 The Grinch was played by a really animated actor and Cindy Lou Who’s voice was amazing! Our favorite moment was probably when the Grinch came on stage waving a Terrible Towel. Only in Pittsburgh!

– Christmas Eve –

My brothers and I have a tradition of going out to brunch with my Dad on Christmas Eve. This is usually followed by a bit of last minute shopping, and this year was no exception! I just had a few gifts to pick up that I had ordered online and planned to pick up in the store, and my brothers found the most amazing suits to wear to Christmas Eve dinner. 🙂

That night, we went to Joe’s Dad’s house for dinner. We left for a second dinner and games at my uncle’s house, and then went back to Joe’s Dad’s for a Secret Santa gift exchange!

We played Minute to Win It style games at my uncle’s house, and they were hilarious! In the game above, you started with one stack of cups, and in 60 seconds you had to build a “tree” and then disassemble the cups back into your one stack. It got very competitive! We also used candy canes to pick up marshmallows to assemble as many snowmen as possible in one minute, and used a straw to move as many M&M’s as possible from one plate to another in one minute. My family has never done a Secret Santa, so it was fun to participate in Joe’s family’s tradition and see everyone open something they loved!

– Christmas Day –

Christmas Day brought snow! I helped my mom get brunch in the oven, and once my Dad arrived, we started opening our gifts to one another. My brothers and I are lucky to have parents who will still celebrate the holidays together for us. 🙂

On the topic of parents who are divorced…both my mom and my dad got Jake a leather Steelers notebook for school, and they had no idea. Haha! Great minds. 😉 I quite enjoyed watching the dogs open gifts. Colby loves to chew and shred the paper…he seems to really know what he’s doing. And Amigo…well, after a few prods at the paper, he just carried his gifts right over to my mom’s lap!

After brunch, I left for an afternoon with Joe’s Mom’s family where we did a Secret Santa gift exchange and broke out some more Minute to Win It style games. I was most excited to get back to my house for dinner so that Joe could open his gift from me…a new Xbox!

The Xbox was well received and I spent lots of time over break reading while all the guys I love enjoyed Joe’s newest gadget. 🙂 We ate dinner with my Mom’s family and watched the Steeler game. Then my Dad tried to teach me how to play poker, and I’m still sure I have no idea what I’m doing. Ha!

– Favorite Friends –

I keep in touch with my best friends from college via a group text message, and a few weeks before the holidays, my friend Lindsey stepped up and decided to plan a get together for us. We all met for dinner and drinks at Narcisi Winery, which is just north of Pittsburgh.

As you can imagine, we were not out walking around the vineyard on this night…I’m pretty sure it was about 5 degrees. 🙂 But we enjoyed a delicious Italian dinner and sipping on different bottles of wine. We talked for hours and it was so fun! Another reason to celebrate during this get together: Johna and Jeff, second from left in the group photo, got engaged on Christmas Eve! Yay!

IMG_6124

Later in the week, I met up with my friend Randi for coffee. Randi and I went to elementary school together, but we reconnected in the last few years via our blogs and we could not be more alike. 🙂 We took over Starbucks for a few hours, exchanged Christmas gifts, and talked about everything under the sun. The best kind of time!

– New Years Eve –

This is what I like to call reality vs. Instagram. 🙂

The evening started at the casino where my mom walked away a winner! It ended at home playing Scrabble and hanging out with Joe, my brothers, and their friends. A great evening, especially since it felt like negative degrees outside in Pittsburgh AND in Times Square. I was happy to be hanging out by a fire!

I had so much fun celebrating the holidays with Joe and his family for the first time, and I loved having lots of time to see my mom since she is a teacher and gets lots of holiday time off too. 🙂 Of course there were other things that filled my days like lunch out with siblings, chiropractor appointments, a trip to the movies, and Sunday breakfasts at my aunt’s house…overall, a great time at home for the holidays. ❤