Long Weekend Travels

I was so excited thinking about sharing this post because on the 10th of December, not only was I traveling, but it was also my 26th birthday. I spent the weekend in the one and only Las Vegas! Joe and I have both traveled there before, but we wanted to take a trip together, and after findingย ridiculously cheap plane tickets, we made it happen!

We were also lucky to find great flight times, so we left around 7 AM on Saturday morning, which put us at our destination around 10 AM west coast time. The day we left was the first day DC had seen any snow, but we weren’t sad to leave it behind for a few days of sunshine! We stayed at the Aria Resort & Casinoย and it was beautiful!

We spent our first day eating lunch at the Aria Cafe and walking one end of The Strip. The Aria is near Monte Carlo, New York New York, and MGM, so we decided to see some sights right away. Also included was a trip to CVS to stock up on snacks. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love New York New York so much that we headed back there for dinner and drinks. The city was all decorated for Christmas and it made everything more fun to see!

Las Vegas has a monorail, but we stayed on the other side of the street from where this is located, so we used the mini monorail that ran between Monte Carlo, Aria, The Shops by Crystal, and the Bellagio to get out of the cold after dinner! I planned on staying up until midnight East Coast time to celebrate my birthday because I didn’t think I could hang…but I was distracted by all there was to see in the Bellagio!

The Conservatory and Botanical Garden in the casino had a huge Christmas display that included a 42 foot tall Christmas tree and 28,000 poinsettias! Everything you saw was made from flowers, and of course they had a classic train set running around the bottom of the tree. The train had a camera on it so you could see yourself in other parts of the room as it drove around! We gambled a little bit on this night but didn’t walk away as big winners. ๐Ÿ™‚

Sunday was my birthday, and I woke up to a nice delivery from my mom: chocolate covered strawberries and champagne! I woke up before the sun, and had a great view of the desert behind the hotel. I loved that our room faced away from The Strip and figured out that the HUGE mountains I was staring at were actually about 18 miles away. They seemed so grand and close! Joe decorated with a banner, heart shaped balloons, and those big paper circle lanterns. So sweet!

We spent the day doing all the best things — drinking champagne, eating at The Aria Buffet, taking advantage of the free hotel gym, and laying by the pool reading a book. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was close to 70 degrees on this day, so although that would feel a little chilly on a summer vacation, I was more than happy to lay in the sun in December in that temperature. The Steelers played the Ravens on this night, so we ate a quick dinner and settled in to watch the game. I was convinced I was going to win on a slot machine called Fu Dao Le becauseย everyoneย I was watching was winning, but I had no luck and ended up watching Joe play Craps for awhile!

Monday was a fun day because we decided to walk the opposite end of The Strip and see as much as possible. We missed the Bellagio water show, but were able to see Bally’s Casino, some shops outside, Caesar’s, and The Flamingo. The objective was to make it to The Venetian, but we got distracted playing Blackjack at a really cheap table in Margaritaville in The Flamingo. I can finally almost hold my own playing Blackjack after watching Joe play for a year, so that’s exciting. ๐Ÿ™‚

Caesar’s was a fun stop because I have been to another Caesar’s casino in Atlantic City and while some things were the same, others were much more grand. We also had to check out the Sports Book at practically every place we stopped, and I thought their set up was the best. They had so many TVs and other statistics on the wall! I know next to nothing about betting on sports games but Joe had fun with this all weekend. ๐Ÿ™‚

I was so excited to go back to MGM on this night because we had tickets to see a Cirque de Soleil show called Ka. Neither of us had ever seen a show in Vegas, so it was a new experience! When we were buying tickets online, we saw that some of the top level seats were similar in price to some in the third row…so of course I chose the third row. ๐Ÿ™‚

The show is described as a story of coming of age through love, conflict, and the duality of Ka. I have to be honest, I had trouble following the storyline at some points because what was happening looked so cool! The stage could move 360 degrees, and there were also smaller platforms that the performers were on at some points. You could also see them behind the railings on either side of the stage from time to time. I was amazed at their flexibility and coordination!

And now I’ll leave you with some professional pictures we had taken at the Cirque show. A photographer stopped us on the way in, and I couldn’t say no. You can’t put a price on memories, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰ This was such a fun trip, and kind of spur of the moment because we jumped on the cheap plane tickets as soon as we saw them. We had a great experience flying, at our hotel, and really wherever we went around town. But two fun facts about the way home:

  1. We were seated next to a very enthusiastic passenger who was certain he was sober enough for another drink. The flight attendants did not agree. There was some foot stomping and yelling on our neighbor’s part. #yep
  2. When we got to our car, the battery was dead, and it was 15 degrees. #winterisawesome

Thankful

Although Thanksgiving is very much its own holiday with its own traditions, you can’t help but admit that it kicks off the Christmas season, right?! I’ve never been a Black Friday shopper, but I enjoy spending the days after Thanksgiving decorating for Christmas, listening to festive music, and starting marathons of my favorite Christmas movies. And although Christmas is right around the corner, I want to recap the fun that was Thanksgiving!

I always get anxious and excited on a week that I know I’m going home to Pittsburgh because I just want toย be thereย already. This year, my youngest brother Jake flew to D.C. on the Friday before Thanksgiving and stayed with me until it was time to head back home for the holiday. Having him here made me feel like the holiday had already begun because I had someone from my family with me! We watched football games, played games like Jenga and Chinese Checkers, and ate out for as many meals out as possible. Let’s just say the pancakes I made on Saturday morning were a little undercooked. #oops

 

We went hiking at Great Falls Park on the Billy Goat Trail, took advantage of every sale at the Leesburg Outlets, and went bowling at what I’m pretty sure is Arlington’s oldest bowling alley. The cool, newly updated bowling alley/restaurant/bar in Georgetown was fully booked and although our night of bowling was much cheaper than that would have been downtown, it was pretty insane how dated everything was where we ended up!

 

ย Jake was my lunch date on Monday and Tuesday, which made for fun work days. ๐Ÿ™‚ He made the most of the work days by hopping on a City Bike and riding around town. He visited the National Mall and the Museum of American History. His favorite adventure, if you asked him, would probably be leaving the history museum and walking across town to where I was going to pick him up. This sounds easy, but his phone died and directions from random passersby left him walking around for about 45 minutes. Ha! Tuesday evening after work, Jake and I started the long drive home.

 

It really does not take that long to get from D.C. to Pittsburgh, but there are never good stories about traffic around the holiday weekend, so we were happy to get out of town as early as possible. We left at about 3 PM, made it to Bethesda to get Joe at 4 PM, and had to take a bunch of side routes through northern Maryland because of accidents on the highway. I was coming down with a cold and felt pretty terrible, so it was nice to have Jake and Joe in the car to share the driving with. ๐Ÿ™‚

On Wednesday, I had to work from home for part of the day, but I had these two to hang out with while I typed away on my computer. Then it was hair appointment, doctor’s appointment, and Panera for lunch!

 

I got to spend all night with both of my brothers and then I convinced myself to go out in public on Thanksgiving Eve. The restaurant/bar wasย crowded but I got to see some old friends, I snagged a bar stool to sit on all night, and it was an all-around win!

Thanksgiving morning = informal Turkey Trot around my neighborhood with Joe and my dogs. It was chilly but bright and sunny, so we decided to adventure over to my aunt’s house since she doesn’t live too far away. She lives on several acres of land so the dogs had aย blast running around her yard. And then we got home and Colby showed off his new tricks of bringing in the newspaper. ๐Ÿ™‚

It was a busy and full day of Thanksgiving meals. We started at my aunt’s house, where we ate “dinner” at 1 PM and celebrated my cousin’s 26th birthday. Below are some of the only photos I took all day!

Then we headed to Joe’s Grandma’s house for dessert and the beginning of Christmas decorating. She pulled out her tree and we swapped names for Secret Santa! We ended the evening with dinner at Joe’s Dad’s house and more Secret Santa name swapping. I was ready to crash in bed by 8:30 PM, but I am so thankful that our families are so close by and we can see all of them in one day!

It felt like Thanksgiving lasted a whole lot longer than one day thanks to Jake’s visit to D.C. at the beginning of the week. Thanksgiving 2017 was definitely one of my favorites. ๐Ÿ™‚

10 on 10 [November]

Ten pictures on the 10th day of the month!

10on10

{Document a snapshot of your life & find beauty among the ordinary things in your day!}

I love reading this post on Mel’s blog each month, and I did my own take on it once too…but that was back in March of 2015!

Friday, November 10

This day began with a morning run. 3 miles around Arlington and I got to see the sunrise! It was a cool, brisk morning which is so welcomed after many months of heat and humidity. When I got home, I found myself ready to leave for work early. This only happens on mornings when I wake up to work out!

Starbucks is across the street from my apartment and also right outside the metro stop, so I treated myself to a coffee, all in the name of getting to carry around a holiday cup. #basic

Then I took the metro and walked to work, so I was very happy with my step count for the day. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And of course I had to snap a picture of the pretty leaves even though I was carrying Christmas in my hand.

It was a pretty normal Friday in the office. I did some work in the morning to get online courses ready for the Spring semester, and then I had three back to back meetings that filled the afternoon. I ended up not eating lunch until 2:30 PM and I was HANGRY! I also very much enjoyed my outfit of the day, which included my new black jeans, a blanket scarf, and the comfiest flats.

The lunchtime hangry-ness carried over into the evening and I requested an early dinner. ๐Ÿ™‚ I took Joe to Pupatella for the first time (his, not mine) and it was so delicious! The restaurant prides themselves on their Neapolitan technique for cooking the pizza, which includes four-ingredient crust made fresh and wood-fired ovens. You order in line, and then cross your fingers that a table is available, and we were some of the lucky ones! There was a wine tasting going on, so we took advantage of that while we waited for our pizza and took home a bottle of sparkling white wine. You’d think I would have taken photos of this, no?

I had the Eggplant & Red Pepper pizza with added prosciutto and Joe ordered a classic Pepperoni pizza with bacon!

Then it was back home with our new bottle of wine because there were important things to do like watch the 300th episode of Grey’s Anatomy and finish the second season of Stranger Things. We try to be as exciting as possible. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And we felt the need to document our “fancy” shoes: my snakeskin flats and his blue suede shoes. #nowyou’resinging

So there you have a regular Friday in my life! The next 10 on 10 is my birthday and I will be traveling so the pictures will be fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

Friday Favorites [October]

– Family in town –

My mom and her best friend came to visit at the beginning of the month. Her friend was attending a workshop in the area, so she joined my mom and I at night for some fun weekend activities. ๐Ÿ™‚

Since her workshop was out near the airport, we hung out in Reston one evening and had drinks at Barcelona. I had a wine flight and actually ended up ordering a glass of one of my 4 choices after a few sips! We also went to National Harbor to shop at the outlets and gamble at the MGM Casino.

– Apple picking –

I organized a social event for my small group and we drove a bit north to visit Homestead Farm. I’ve visited several different pumpkin patches in the DC Metro area and I loved this farm for its simplicity, and the fact that there was no admission fee! There was a farmer’s market, an apple orchard, a pumpkin patch, and a few areas with animals.

We were very excited to go apple picking because most of us never had before. We quickly realized we do not know what constitutes a “good” apple, so I picked half a dozen and hoped for the best. Update: I just ate the last one yesterday and they were delicious! We also walked through the rows of pumpkins, but most of us settled on the more interesting looking pumpkins…the ones that are colorful and bumpy or the Cinderella pumpkins. ๐Ÿ™‚

– Around town –

I saw shows at two different venues this month. Joe listens to the ESPN Fantasy Focus Football podcast on a very regular basis, and while I play fantasy football and occasionally listen, I can’t pretend to know the podcast hosts as well as he does! Matthew Berry, Field Yates, and Stephania Bell brought their podcast to town one Tuesday night for a live show, and it was so fun!

The show was at DC Improv, which is a small venue, and we were seated much like you are at tables in a restaurant. For a very inexpensive price, we were served dinner, and got to talk to the podcast hosts before and after the show. They have great chemistry and are hilarious, so even if your football knowledge is lacking, you probably still would have had a good time. ๐Ÿ˜‰

This past Tuesday, the Museum of the Bible, which opens to the public on November 12, held an event in its theater. Someone at church had a connection, so a few girls from my small group and I were given tickets and went to check it out! For the second year, Kirk Cameron held a live event that was recorded and played in movie theaters around the nation.

Revive Us 2 was focused on “issues that divide us” and we heard from guest speakers like Alex and Stephen Kendrick and Dr. Ben Carson. My favorite part was the worship band with lead singer Zach Williams! He just released an album and we sang some of those new songs. I added Chain Breaker and Old Church Choir to my Spotify playlist as soon as I got home. ๐Ÿ™‚

– Day trip –

Then, there was the Saturday that started with brunch and continued on with a visit to a new-to-me pumpkin patch and a winery. While I was at brunch, I saw one of my friends post a Snapchat story of a corn maze, and I was excited because this was not part of the farm I previously visited, and Joe and I had planned to go get pumpkins on this day anyway!

After a quick Google search, we were off to Great Country Farmย in Bluemont, VA. It’s 53 miles from Arlington, so it was a commitment, but Bluemont Vineyard and Dirt Road Brewery were right across the way, so there was plenty to do once we were out there!

While we made our way through the corn maze, we kept hearing the loudest banging noises…there was just an area right nearby where you could shoot apples out of cannons at targets! Besides the corn maze, we walked through where some of the animals were hanging out (although we missed the pig race by 10 minutes), took a hayride out to the pumpkin patch, and grabbed some kettle corn for the road.

We dragged our two 18 lb pumpkins to the car and drove right across the road to Bluemont Vineyard. And when I say drive across the road, I literally mean we pulled out of one driveway and went straight into another! It was quite the trek up the driveway, and then quite the trek from our car to the building…it was really directly uphill. But the views were awesome and we had fun trying to figure out what skyline we could see off in the distance. ๐Ÿ™‚

There was indoor and outdoor seating, live music, and pizza that smelled delicious! We both ordered a wine flight to try some different red and white wines, and ended up realizing we are true city people because the bugs were out of control and on our nerves. Ha! Bugs aside, I will definitely return to this winery.

That’s October in a nutshell! Up next on the agenda is carving pumpkins and keeping myself from pressing play on the Christmas music because I’m just over here like…

b8528fc5b30896aae07435e07f3ba6bb

Linking up with Five on Friday and Friday Favorites

What I’ve Been Eating

I am not the kind of person who enjoys cooking. This is mostly because I usually wait to cook until I am already starving, but that’s beside the point. Last week, I found myself drinking my breakfast shake while making a big pot of chili for lunch and a chicken skillet for dinnerย at the same timeย and even though I wasn’t hungry while cooking, I still didn’t enjoy myself. ๐Ÿ˜‰

If I don’t plan out a few meals during the week, I find myself drinking a shake for breakfast, eating a salad for lunch, and having an omelette for dinner. It just works for me, and I don’t really feel the need to eat out unless it’s the weekend. You’d be surprised at just how often I eat these three meals (with snacks in between, of course). Recently, I have been trying to break my routine and add some different flavors to my meals. You’ll notice that most of the meals I make have vegetables hidden in there somewhere…it just makes eating veggies so much easier! Most of my recipe ideas come from Pinterest…or else I find myself taking a screenshot of someone’s recipe on Instagram Stories. Do you do that too?!

Here’s a look at what I’ve been cooking lately:

– Turkey Chili –

This is one of my favorite recipes, and it comes together quickly. This is key for me. ๐Ÿ™‚ I prefer ground turkey to ground meat, and while there aren’t a ton of ingredients, there are enough to be flavorful and tasty. Plus a warm lunch is just better than a salad sometimes, am I right?

chili

– Cauliflower Pizza –

Trader Joe’s has all kinds of goodies that you justย needย to buy, and after making cauliflower pizza from scratch several times, I knew I had to try their frozen variety. It’s put together with minimal ingredients, which I appreciate, and it’s MUCH faster than making the dough from scratch. I made a half pepperoni, half buffalo chicken pizza last week. Hit the spot!

pizza

– Mexican Chicken Cauliflower Rice Skillet –

Keeping with the theme…if I buy cauliflower rice, I usually buy it in the produce section. However, I’ve had a frozen bag in my freezer for way too long and after checking out the ingredients in this recipe, I knew I could put this together if I just ran to the store and got chicken! I think rubbing the chicken breasts with taco seasoning before cooking really made a difference. This tasted good on its own or with a side of tortilla chips. Added bonus: there were plenty of leftovers, even after sharing with Joe!

IMG_4347

– Bacon Garlic Spaghetti Squash –

The bacon garlic spaghetti squash recipe is actually a paleo recipe I found on Pinterest, and although it contained some different ingredients, the list was still short enough that I could justify making it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ve rarely cooked with coconut milk, but it was part of the sauce in this recipe and I think it was supposed to remind me of Alfredo sauce. While I can’t say that it was really like creamy Alfredo sauce, Joe ate this with no complaints and he doesn’t even know what Paleo means so I think that’s a win. ๐Ÿ˜‰

spaghetti

And just for fun, I recently found Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios at the grocery store and didn’t think twice before tossing them in my cart. I was so obsessed with peanut butter Cheerios before they discontinued the flavor a few years ago! I wasn’t sure if I’d just pick all the peanut butter circles out of this mix or completely dislike the chocolate (because I don’t really like chocolate Cheerios on their own), but I’m happy to report the combination is a good one and it makes a great afternoon snack!

cheerios

Linking up with Peas & Crayons

Marine Corps Marathon 10K [Race Recap]

It’s been almost a full year since I’ve truly trained for a race, and this year has been all about running whenever and however I want to. That’s not to say I haven’t raced — I’ve completed a marathon relay and a 5K, but it feels good to have no training plan! At times this has left me a little unprepared for some of the races I signed up for this fall (cough cough Army 10 Miler that I did not run!), but I knew I could handle the Marine Corps Marathon 10K. I would still get to be apart of the amazing race day that is the MCM, but I would get to run and spectate. Two of my favorite things to do!

Race preparation started before race day, as it always does. On Friday evening, Joe and I headed to the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center at The National Harbor to pick up our bibs and my favorite part of racing…our new shirts. ๐Ÿ™‚ Bib & t-shirt pick-up were super easy as long as you had your bib number handy and could settle on a shirt size. There were plenty of volunteers at these stations and there was no line at all!

As you walked from the pick-up side of the expo to the shopping side, there were many more people. The official Brooks race clothing was your first stop as you entered, and it was pretty crowded with folks trying on clothes and shoes. Then you had your rows of sponsors handing out freebies, but by this point it was 7:45 PM and hanger was striking so we took a picture and hit the road!

Saturday was a rest day which ended with a nice pasta dinner from Olive Garden. I think my favorite part was that we ordered our pasta to go and ate it on the couch. My second favorite part was hearing that the wait at the restaurant was 45 minutes and my food was already cooked up and ready to go. #winning

IMG_4464.jpg

Chicken alfredo, chicken scampi, salads, and breadsticks!

After waiting until the absolute last minute on Saturday night, I finally went to Harris Teeter at 9:45 PM for English muffins, peanut butter, and bananas. This is my tried and true race morning breakfast, so it had to be purchased! Then it was time for sleep since we had an early alarm.

6:15 AM wake up call & out the door by 6:45 AM. I don’t like to have a lot of extra time in the morning because then I will talk myself into sleeping much longer. ๐Ÿ™‚ The metro wasn’t too crowded, but you could tell that everyone on board was a runner. The marathon runners got off a few stops after we got on, and the 10K runners continued riding the train until we reached the National Mall.

Mornings on the Mall are my favorite. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was pretty chilly early on, but I had an old pullover that I was wearing and ready to toss away at the start line. Race corrals and restrooms were set up outside the National Gallery of Art and the lines were INSANE. There was a small security checkpoint before entering this area, but it didn’t take very long at all. We were shocked at the number of people waiting for restrooms and quickly made our way over to our corral. It was about 7:35 AM at this point, and the opening festivities were expected to begin about ten minutes later so it felt like perfect timing.

Joe is much faster than me, but we decided to start out together. This was our view as we warmed up and waited to begin! The race was delayed about 15 minutes due to traffic issues, but the announcers were super energetic and kept us entertained with stories and music. We cheered for two runners celebrating their 86th birthdays! Then, around 8:05 AM, it was time to run!

The 10K runners go on a very similar path as the marathon runners, so in our first mile we saw a sign that said Mile 19! I could hear everyone in the crowd making the same joke about how amazing they felt after running 19 miles when really it had been about 0.5 at this point. ๐Ÿ™‚ I always start racing without music, so I was people watching and taking it all in. In the first mile, we did a quick turn around from the National Gallery of Art back towards the Washington Monument, and we also passed a water station early on. I skipped this one but so enjoyed seeing how encouraging the service men and women were as they handed out water and Gatorade!

We continued on toward the 14th Street Bridge, making our way into Crystal City. I was running consistent 9:10-9:20 miles, which is good for me right now, and I watched Joe’s hat for as long as I could as he sped off in front of me. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Around mile 3 I put my headphones in and quickly walked my way through the second water/Gatorade station. I always walk so that I can get all of the drink in me!

Steeler Sunday and race day calls for a little “Renegade” in the headphones, so I listened and sang and kept on moving. I was really proud of myself for feeling like I pushed the whole time, but never felt the need to slow down too much or even walk. I took deep breaths through a cramp I got at mile 3.5, and kept on moving towards the Pentagon.

This is really the home stretch of the race, and you start to see the corrals that the marathon runners lined up in. As you approach Arlington Cemetery and run the last mile, there’s loud music playing and you know you’re getting close. The crowd support is also much stronger here since you’re not running down the highway anymore. Joe had already texted me that he finished, so I was focused on making it to 6.2 before 60 minutes was up. Thinking back, it was a pretty flat course except for the on or off ramps we ran up or down from the highway. But the race directors must know this because there’s a nice sharp hill right before the finish line. ๐Ÿ™‚

I ran past the mile marker 6 and with 0.2 miles left, made a sharp right turn UP the hill towards Iwo Jima and the finish line. I was pretty annoyed by those in front of me who significantly slowed down or started walking at this point because I was trying to power to the finish, but I totally get why they did that! I just wish it had been on the side of the road instead of in the middle. ๐Ÿ™‚

I finished in 58:34 which let me reach my goal of finishing in less than an hour! My PR for the 10K distance is 52:45, so I have some work to do to get back to that time, but I was super excited for my finish yesterday. And Joe ran some nice 7:20 minute miles after he ran ahead of me that let him finish in 51:40, which is a PR for him since it was his first 10K! It was very cool to be “medaled” by a Marine — they saluted and placed our medals around our necks. So cool!

We took all our finisher’s photos, grabbed our free food, and made our way back to the metro. The Finisher’s festival was very well organized and easy to navigate. This was a good thing since we were headed back to the race after a quick shower/breakfast to watch friends running the full marathon.

We took the metro to Arlington Cemetery, walked through a small security checkpoint, and headed down towards Route 110 in front of the cemetery to look out for friends. I was tracking all of them, and knew just when to look for them passing! Because we were watching so close to the finish, I almost wanted to warn them about that terrible hill they were about to encounter at the end, but I refrained. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I love cheering for friends, but I also love cheering for people I don’t know who look like they’re running so strong right at the end or look like they just want to quit. The crowd gets so many people moving towards the end! All in all, it was a perfect day to race and spectate.

And fun fact: a race photographer took a picture of me and my sign. #ifeltaccomplished
“I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 26.2!”

Friday Favorites [Race Edition]

ย I have called myself a runner for the last eight years, but my running for the first four years looked a lot different than my running of the last four years. For a lot of reasons, this is a good thing, but I am definitely not as speedy as I once was, and as I think about my upcoming race this weekend, I am feeling a little defeated before race day is even here. This is all my own doing…I always mentally think I am better and faster than I am. I think this train of thought means that I can go big places with my running, but I still need to be realistic about where I am right now instead of holding myself to previous goals. And in the end, I will still have another awesome race memory. For now, I’m going to highlight my five favorite things about racing!

– Gear –

Clothes, shoes, fuel, belt, headphones, charged devices, bib, safety pins, ponytail, headband…it all needs to be laid out and ready the night before. Race morning usually comes at early o’clock and I like minimal thinking to happen when I roll out of bed. But picking out my outfit is always so fun. Dressing for success and all that. ๐Ÿ˜‰

IMG_4361

– Start Line Anticipation –

Getting warmed up, finding my corral, double knotting my shoes, singing the National Anthem, and hearing the gun go off…it’s the little moments leading up to the race that make you feel so excited about being part of the running community.

– Spectators & Signs –

Crowd support is the absolute best. When you are running along and feeling your best, those cheerleaders make you feel like a million bucks, and when you hit a wall, the crowd is still there pushing you along. I love when someone I don’t know reads my bib and calls out my name or cheers my on by the color of my shirt. Even if you mentally know where your friends and family will be along the course, a stranger’s words of encouragement go a long way!

14859909_10211742553817280_2725508364675166704_o

Sarah and I spectated the Marine Corps Marathon last year, and this is the race we will both be at this weekend! I am running the 10K, and Sarah is running her first marathon, along with two of our other friends who are basically marathon pros at this point. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But two of myย other running friends and I got together last night to make signs for this weekend and I am so excited to cheer once the 10K is complete!

– Race Photos –

I might be in the minority on this, but I love spotting the race photographer and doing something silly. They can catch you at the worst of moments, but I can’t deny that race photos are some of my favorite. You will always have memories of the happy/sad/hard/awesome times during the race. Plus, putting a smile on your face can totally change your attitude and we have to remember why we’re out there running in the first place…because we love it.

1508115_10204973541796210_31909242052191547_n

– Digging Deep –

Whether you’re running for fun or trying to get a shiny new PR, there are always moments that feel harder than others. Pushing past mental or physical barriers that you put on yourself is the best feeling, and probably why so many of us continue to run day after day. We all need to feel like we’ve accomplished something, and nothing feels better than leaving it all out there on the race course.

1450878_10202181388314118_316281086_n

At 7:45 AM on Sunday morning, I’ll be toeing the start line of the Marine Corps 10K and reminding myself of all of these reasons that I love to run and race so much. My running has changed a lot in the last 8 years, so while I won’t be chasing a PR in the 10K distance, I will be chasing a 10K PR for me where I’m at in my running right now…and if I can do that with a smile on my face, then mission accomplished. ๐Ÿ™‚

Linking up with Five on Friday and Friday Favoritesย 

Day In The Life

So many things have changed since I last wrote a “Day In The Life” post, including where I go to work each day, so it’s time to catch up with what’s happening on a normal Thursday. ๐Ÿ™‚

Thursday, October 12

7:15 AM

My alarm goes off and I go to the kitchen to make my coffee and breakfast, which is almost always Shakeology. I also throw my lunch together at this time if I haven’t done that already, and then I go get myself ready. I find it easier to do breakfast/lunch things first because I’m not making any decisions…I’m doing the same thing every day. When it comes to makeup and getting dressed, that’s a whole other story. ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

8:00 AM

Grab my umbrella from the car and walk over to the metro. I live approximately 25 steps from the metro stop, so there’s really no reason for me not to ride it every day, but I still love my car on some days.

8:20 AM

Get off the metro 3 stops away and start my walk to work. There’s a metro stop before Georgetown and after Georgetown, so I get off before and have a nice 1 mile walk across the Key Bridge each day. I don’t really walk around at my job unless I’m making tea or going to a meeting so these extra 2 miles of walking to and from work are probably good for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

8:45 AM

Arrive at my office and start getting settled for the day. I work as an Online Course Coordinator, so I work on the design and development of online courses. On this particular day, I have someone who is working with us to design a course come in with two interviewees to record lectures for her class. That means up first today, I am reviewing her questions and printing them out for her. Then I start working on a document about tools used in online courses for a meeting I have later in the morning.

9:30 AM

I meet everyone who will be recording in our media studio and get them set up with the videographer. Then, I get on a virtual call to check in with a graduate assistant. After that, I am back to the media studio to listen in on the recordings and do a little work in the background!

11:00 AM

I meet with someone who is designing an online class to go over new content that she has developed for her course, then I get pulled into a bunch of random errands. Get someone set up in a meeting space in our main office, answer a question about how a web-based polling tool works in a PowerPoint, make a note to add a final assessment to another course I’m working on, make a cup of hot tea, and after passing the same student 3 times, give her directions about how to leave the building. ๐Ÿ˜‰

1:00 PMย 

Finally time for lunch! I read for a bit while I eat and then I log onto another virtual call. My day is always a random mix of talking to actual people and meeting with them online! And sometimes while I wait for others to log on, I will take a Snapchat selfie. #whynot

2:45 PM

I’m getting restless and have yet to be outside all day! I am working on updating final details in a course that launches in a few weeks, so there are lots of little details to pay attention to like adding specific dates, updating the syllabus, and adding video transcripts when they are sent back from captioning. I decide to take a walk to Saxby’s coffee shop, which is a greedy two blocks from my office.

Saxby’s is all decorated for fall, and that’s about as much fall as DC has seen so far! It’s still pretty humid each day, although it was a bit gray and rainy on this day, and the leaves that are falling are hardly even colored! Also, fun fact: the famous Exorcist steps are the staircase that lines one side of my office building. I have never seen this movie, but do you see that group of people wayyy at the bottom of the steps? They were tourists taking pictures. ๐Ÿ™‚

3:00 PM

My friend recommends a new podcast that is a musical! It’s perfect background music while I work on updating videos that got “lost” somehow in cyberspace. The podcast’s story is easy to follow along with too. It’s about a couple who is trying to get their relationship back on the right track using 36 questions that supposedly make people fall in love. I haven’t listened to the end yet!

21

5:15 PM

Time to go home! It’s raining mist, which is just enough water that I worry about my laptop in my bag, so I open the umbrella I found in my car that I realize belongs to Joe and is rusty…and blows inside out when the wind gets too strong. #fail

I’m still amused that I walk across the state line to and from work each day. ๐Ÿ™‚ I get right on the train when I get to the metro station, which is my favorite way to ride. No standing around on the platform!

5:45 PM

Get home and immediately change into running clothes. If you leave real clothes on for more than five minutes after arriving home, I suggest you adopt the quick change to comfy clothes. I feel slight motivation to fold my laundry, so I do before the feeling goes away and catch up with my roommate about our days.

Then I decide to go meet Joe at the metro. He gets off at the stop after my house, so I decide to run down. It would have been a good idea to take his broken umbrella back to him because it was still misty raining, but I forgot, so we got wet!

6:30 PM

Arrive at Joe’s apartment and eat his candy. I have eaten more Sour Patch Kids since I started dating him than I have in my life, but I can’t say no to watermelon! Then we decide to work out before dinner, so I finish my run on the treadmill in his gym because now it’s raining and officially dark outside.

7:15 PM

Make dinner! I’m pretty sure Joe didn’t know you could eat spaghetti squash before he started cooking with me, but I make him try all sorts of new foods. We had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner with Trader Joe’s Autumnal Harvest creamy sauce. It has butternut squash and pumpkin in it and it is perfectly sweet and delicious. We also watched some playoff baseball and contemplated a Scrabble rematch. Joe was still mad about his loss the night before. ๐Ÿ˜‰ We settled on the new episode of Grey’s Anatomy instead. I loooove TGIT!

10:00 PM

Back home at my house and ready for bed! I would like to say I go to bed at 10 or 10:30, but in reality I go to sleep around 11 PM each night. I like to read and relax before sleep! I bring both of my current books to bed with me because I never know what I will feel like reading…maybe one or a little bit of both.

33

Then it’s lights out!

No two days at work look the same, and no two evenings after work look the same. Each week I meet up with my small group on Tuesday evenings, sometimes I want to run outside, and sometimes I just want to stay home and do nothing! But no matter what happens during the day, I am so thankful for my job and the little every day moments.

Linking up with Seven Graces + The Daily Dime

Currently [October 2017]

Currently reading:

If You Only Knew by Jamie Ivey
I’m on the launch team for this title! The book comes out in January and I am so excited to share more about it. I’ve already pre-ordered my copy, but I am reading it on my Kindle right now and I love hearing Jamie’s story of fully embracing her relationship with the Lord. It’s also fun to “hear” her voice…since I listen to her podcast every week, reading her book feels like talking to her! ๐Ÿ™‚

The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams
I readย A Hundred Summersย last fall and it was my favorite book of the year. I haven’t really loved another Williams’ book until this one! I’m savoring the last few chapters.

Currently indulging in:

Scarf weather! Two 60* days in a row this week. I’ll be wearing all the fall clothes until the humidity comes back!

Currently working on:

I just finished an online class on the platform edX and I feel accomplished! It was about Instructional Design, which largely relates to my job, and I loved learning and sharing with my coworkers. Plus, I had to create an online portfolio, so that was fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

Currently craving:

An apple fritter. I went to a pumpkin & apple farm yesterday and refrained from purchasing the apple fritter mix in their market. Then, this morning, my mom sent me a picture of an apple fritter she was eating…and now I’m wondering if I can refrain from walking to Saxby’s for my favorite donut.

Currently eating:

Vanilla Shakeology with cookie butter, banana, cinnamon, and ice. This is actually shake #2 of the morning because I poured cumin instead of cinnamon into the first one. #monday

Currently feeling:

Happy! And ready to take on the tasks of the week. Although I wouldn’t mind staying in bed and having another weekend day.

Currently thankful for:

The girls in my small group and our adventure to Homestead Farm yesterday!

IMG_4292

Currently dreaming about:

A fall or winter weekend trip to New York City. I’ve gone each year for the last few years and I’m already dreaming about Central Park and the Radio City Rockettes. ๐Ÿ™‚

Currently obsessed with:

Tazo Sweet Cinnamon Spice hot tea!

Currently listening to:ย 

Milky Chance. I like a lot of calm, indie music playing in my headphones unless I’m working out!

Currently drinking:

Hazelnut coffee with a scoop of collagen peptides. Maybe this will make my eyelashes grow nice and long. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Currently excited for:

Tomorrow, Joe and I are going to D.C. Improv after work to see ESPN’s Fantasy Focus Football podcast live. We plan to wear Steelers jerseys and get boo-ed by everyone who doesn’t know what’s good for them. Ha!

This coming weekend is the Marine Corps Marathon & 10K. I’m excited to race the 10K and then chase my crazy friends around the marathon course!

Currently praying for:

My friend Alicia, who just started an after school reading program at her school and is in need of picture books and chapter books. I’m praying that God provides for her and her students!

Currently wondering:

The less serious: how much longer I will go without getting my nails done.
More serious, holiday related: how to carve my pumpkin next weekend. ๐Ÿ™‚

hello...mondayhellomonday

A Weekend In My Life: Workin’ It Wednesday

One of my favorite posts on this blog to look back on is one of the most recent (even though that was more than a year ago!) because it tells all about a day in my life. I love rereading that post because it takes me back to that time in my life. I have yet to do another day in the life post, but I should because no two days are ever the same and I have a new job now! That post is in the making…but for now, I’ll share a recent weekend in my life and link up with Erika and Shay. Fair warning: I extended my weekend into Monday because I had family in town, and also ate out for almost every meal which is very atypical!

– Friday –

My Fridays begin at 5 PM, and I usually like to have dinner plans. Waking up early for work makes it hard for me to want to be out super late! Plus I like enjoying the morning on Saturday. On this particular Friday, Joe and I were talking about going for a run on a new-to-him trail. He just moved to D.C. so pretty much everywhere we run is new to him! At the last minute, I had a change of heart and told him we should run to Shake Shack…because what’s better than running and dinner all in one?! From Arlington, you can run across the Key Bridge and through Georgetown down a nice little path before you have to hit the streets again.

By mile 3.5, I think Joe regretted his decision to run to dinner. But we made it and the fries and lemonade were SO worth it. Joe had the Chick’N Shack, and I had the ‘Shroom Burger…the cashier made sure to tell me it was a vegetarian burger. I knew that, but I guess some people who order get confused by the name! After dinner, we walked half a mile to Farragut Square. All summer, different outdoor areas host free movies on Friday and Saturday evenings. The only flaw in our plan to run to dinner was that we didn’t bring blankets or anything to sit on at the park!

I can never say no to Melissa McCarthy, so our film for the evening was a good one — Ghostbusters! I have already seen this in theaters, but it was so fun to be outside surrounded by a bunch of other people just enjoying summer. It was also fun to see people walking through the park who were unaware of what was going on…one guy on the phone said, “Hold on…I’m walking in front of a movie screen right now!” Another guy biked past with three boxes of pizza on the back of his bike! Ha! After about an hour, our legs were itchy from sweating while running and sitting with all the bugs in the grass, so we ducked over to a park bench and it was perfect! Once the movie was over, we took the Metro back to Arlington and called it a night.

– Saturday –

Saturday morning was for lounging around. I probably should have been running, but I ran a lot of miles last week, so I figure it worked out just fine. By lunch time, I was ready to get moving for the day, so Joe and I ate at Silver Diner. This is not your average diner — they are all about fresh, locally sourced food. They have delicious breakfast, but I was feeling the chopped Cobb salad on this day…I love the tangy ranch dressing, avocado, and the fact that it is chopped…duh. ๐Ÿ™‚

My friend Sarah invited me to go to Stone Tower Winery with some friends, so I went on over to her house to get ready to go. Most wineries are about 45 minutes to an hour from Arlington, so we all piled in her friend Amy’s car and headed out. Side note: Amy drives my dream car. A white, four door Jeep Wrangler with a hard top. #bestillmyheart

On the drive out, Amy had the best idea…

Stop and eat some Chic-Fil-A. I can never say no to their chicken nuggets or their lemonade! Are you sensing a theme here? Lemonade is where it’s at all summer long for me. We also got these perfect cow hats to be put to use on Tuesday, which was Chic-Fil-A day. Who wouldn’t dress up like a cow to get a free entree?! Although I do have to be honest, on Tuesday I was cooking buffalo chicken dip to take to small group. Whoops!

77FEBD71-

Stone Tower was absolutely beautiful. I have heard great things about the views at this winery, and I was seriously impressed! You pull up a long, windy drive to get to the property, and first enter a large barn where the wine tastings take place. There’s an outdoor area for families and dogs nearby, and then across the way is their event space, and another outdoor space for those 21 and above. We first did a wine tasting — for the flavors, yes, but also so we could spend more time in that barn!

The worker talking with us was so knowledgeable, and spoke about some of her other favorite wines and let us try those as well. The tasting menu includes 3 whites and 3 reds…I liked the very first white, Wild Boar Sauvignon Blanc, and the very last red, Estate Wind Swept Hill. And then I ordered a glass of rosรฉ to enjoy outside, because of course I did.

A92341E0-

We had the best time sitting on the outdoor couches and talking about everything under the sun. A perfect girls’ day!

IMG_1382.JPG

After we made the drive home, I took a nap and ate a late dinner at Rockland’s BBQย since it’s about ten steps from my apartment. I don’t usually eat out during the week, nor do I usually eat every meal out on the weekend, so you’re looking at a very unusual time for sure. ๐Ÿ™‚ The best item on the menu (in my opinion) at this restaurant is Rockland’s Pearl. It’s a bowl of mac and cheese, baked beans, chopped pork, and Rockland’s barbecue sauce. I’m sure the description doesn’t do it justice, so you should try it if you’re ever in the area!

– Sunday –

This day started bright and early at church. I love my church and it will be one of the places I miss most if I ever move away from D.C. I have always served in children’s ministry, so I’ve been praying about working somewhere else in the church.

On this day, ย I was shadowing those who work on the hospitality team. They serve coffee and donuts, welcome people in, pass out the weekly bulletin, take the offering, and just generally give everyone a happy face to find if they need something during service. I helped pass out programs, give directions, and take the offering. The 10:30 AM service is very low maintenance because you don’t have to set up or clean up since there are services before and after, so once I shadowed for a bit, I headed into church to hear the message for the week.

Since I entered a bit late, I sat by myself, and that was just fine since I was catching up on what was going on. ๐Ÿ™‚ To be honest, I felt like I missed the most important parts at the beginning, so I listened to the podcast of the entire service again on Tuesday!

4815971C-

After church, Joe and I headed to a nearby cafe to sit outside and wait for my mom and my aunt to arrive in town! I called my little brother, who had just gotten his college schedule via email, and Joe looked up stocks or some other very interesting thing like that. ๐Ÿ˜‰

19884472_10213248130267853_3629499812502226055_n.jpg

Somehow, the GPS directed my mom and Aunt Sheila to the middle of nowhere Maryland instead of Capitol Hill. They found us eventually and we had lunch at Ted’s Bulletin! I love their homemade pop-tarts and just the general feel of the restaurant. It’s very old fashioned and there is always a black and white television show playing on nearby projectors. After lunch, we were ready to walk around and headed over to Eastern Market. During the summer, they have even more vendors than they do during the winter! We spent some time looking at local art and jewelry made by the most creative people.

Source

I had to show them Capitol Hill Books, which is a used bookstore in an old row house that has absolutely everything. The owner has non-fiction downstairs, fiction upstairs, and other genre titles on shelves…but beyond that, you have to do some serious searching! I love the prices here because they are always at least 50% off. His prices are written right inside the cover, so they’re easy to find! I found a hardback copy of Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult for $12! And I also picked up Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (for $7!), because I have heard great things about both the book and the movie.

The heat was really getting to us by this point, so we headed back home! My Aunt Sheila is visiting my family in Pittsburgh and has never been to my place in D.C., so it was fun to show her around my favorite parts of town. We lounged on the balcony for a few hours, then grilled burgers and corn on the cob for dinner at Joe’s apartment. I have grills at my apartment, but they look like they belong on a campsite so I’m not a big fan. ๐Ÿ˜‰ We fell asleep early because I had to work for part of the day on Monday.

– Monday –

I took a half day so that I could spend time with my mom and aunt before they left town. It was a quick trip for them, but Pittsburgh is only about 3.5 hours away. They had plans to visit Lakeshore Learning because my mom is a kindergarten teacher who absolutely loves her job so shopping for school stuff midsummer is her favorite task. ๐Ÿ™‚ I rode the metro to work and then started my walk across the bridge…

326E143C-

…and ran into a whole group of tourists at 7:xx AM. WHY were they up this early and where were they going?! I can promise there are no interesting sights right on the edge of the Key Bridge. Ha!

78170376-

Monday was a busy morning with two video calls, catching up on emails, and starting other tasks for the week. The most exciting thing to happen: my iPad and wireless headphones came in! I used some professional development funds to purchase these items, and I also signed up for an online class that starts in August, so I am excited to use my iPad for this. I have the 10.5 inch iPad Pro and it honestly feels thinner than my iPhone 7! The headphones are i.am+ Buttonsย by Apple and I LOVE them because they came with approximately 293480 ear buds to size them to your ear and they don’t fall out. Ear buds with those rubber pieces on the end will never stay in my ear, so I am happy!

At lunch time, I left for the day and walked my mom and aunt around Georgetown’s campus (I work here if you are a new reader!). We visited the school store and bought lots of things we don’t need. ๐Ÿ™‚ย Then we ate lunch on M Street at Clyde’s. A little salad/sandwich/soup lunch followed by cupcakes at Georgetown Cupcake, because you just have to. I honestly never tried a cupcake here until I started working at the university even though I come to this part of town all the time! I enjoy their competitor Baked and Wired more…the cupcakes are bigger. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Then it was a quick drive around town to see some last nights, including what’s down at National Harbor. I love their waterfront and we quickly sought shade because it was so hot on this day! We took turns posing with their many statues, got iced tea at Starbucks, and walked along the water before finding a candy shop and calling it a day. They left around 5 PM and my weekend was officially over!