5 Things I’m Loving Lately

Alright Spring Break, I see you coming to an end. Slow down just a little, please! We have a solid three months of school left (June 23rd oy vey), so I’m enjoying this down time a little too much. 🙂 Linking up with Andrea, Erika, and Narci this Friday to talk favorites!

-Warm Weather-

No night class, a 65 degree day in March, and running distance from the National Mall means one thing and one thing only. You must go for a run. 😉 I will never ever tire of running to the Lincoln and sitting on his steps. It’s my second favorite monument (Jefferson is first).

– My Friends –

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On the topic of running…aren’t race expos the best? Everyone in the room loves running and there are so many goodies to collect! We had the best time in all of the photo booths, and this picture is one of my favorites. The Rock N Roll DC Expo seemed to understand just how picture obsessed our generation is. 😉 I am so glad I’ve connected with running friends in DC. If your local Lululemon has a running group and you’re a runner, you should GO!

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I went to see The Sound of Music last night with my mom, her friend, and one of my best friends in Pittsburgh and it was an AMAZING performance! We ate at Peter Allen’s, an Italian restaurant near the venue, and then headed over to the Benedum Center for the show. There were people of all ages there and I found myself singing along during the show! The Von Trapp children were SO cute.

– Jake’s 17th Birthday and Promposal –

It’s been an exciting week in the life of Jake. First…

I filled Jake’s car with 120 balloons while he was sleeping the night before his birthday. On Monday night it suddenly occurred to me that I just needed to decorate his bedroom door, so I stopped for supplies on my way home from the gym. I came home to decorations galore courtesy of my mom so I had to redirect my thoughts…and that went to filling up his car. 🙂 It was SO fun and he was SO surprised! His cookie cake was also my favorite AND I put the 10 candles we could find in the shape of a ‘1’ and ‘7’ on the cake, so I was quite proud of myself. #thelittlethings

Then, it was time for the cutest promposal ever. (Sidenote: I was asked two years in a row via text message. So special. Hahaha)

Jake HAD to ask his girlfriend to prom in a cute way because apparently that’s how it works these days. Ha! If you can see it, she wrote “yes” next to the question mark! He brought her home after school on Thursday, they walked down the little heart path, he gave her roses, it was adorable and they were both so happy!

– Life As A Teacher –

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The week before Spring Break was Science Week at school. I had to exert serious self-control as I let my students design their tri-fold boards. I was trying to micromanage every pair’s poster and it was not working. #duh Once I forced them to design their title and had them research/write facts, I decided they could just have the boards and create whatever they wanted to their heart’s content. Then everyone was much happier. 😉 It was my favorite to see how excited they were to present their posters to the sixth graders. There were some really awesome posters and presentations!

– My Little Sidekick –

Meet Amigo, the velcro dog. He has not left my side since I arrived home on Monday. Gotta love him. 😉 I was on the floor with free weights, modifying the exercise because I don’t have a bench, and he laid down and put his head on my stomach. Velcro!!! As you can see, I had to watch my step as I worked out because I never knew when I might trip over him. Hahaha

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And a little humor for your Easter weekend. 😉 Reese’s eggs really are my favorite, although I don’t know that I’ve ever had a white chocolate one. I might have to remedy that problem ASAP.

Happy weekending to you! And happy Easter!

Friday FiveFriday Favorites

A Birthday & A Serious Question

Happy Tuesday! I have two topics to discuss with you on this fine day.

– Jake’s Birthday –

I love both of my brother’s birthdays almost more than I love my own. It’s so fun to celebrate people! 17 words that describe this awesome kid:

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And 17 of the cutest pictures ever (because Jake was the cutest baby ever):

 

– Race Shirts –

In the running world, there’s a bit of an ongoing controversy. Do you wear your race shirt TO the race, or are you the kind of person who can only wear the shirt post-race? I fall into the latter category, and I have very specific reasons why!

  1. I don’t like to wear anything new on race day. I want to wear the clothes that I know fit and feel the best. This new random race shirt hasn’t had time to pass my tests yet!
    2. I spend a lot of time selecting my race outfit! Beyond feeling good while I run, putting together a race day outfit is kind of like a reward for all of my hard work.
    3. Everyone knows where we are and what race we’re running. If I wore my race shirt, I would feel like a running billboard. Plus, I might blend in with other people who decided to wear THEIR shirts! Have you ever spectated a race? It’s quite the parade and you need to wear something obvious so that you stand out to those looking out for you!
    4. If you run in your hometown, you will most likely lounge around the day after the race. If you’ve traveled to your race, you’ll most likely be traveling home. In either situation, you will want to wear something comfy and casual, and a new race shirt fits the bill. Plus, it’s a subtle way to humble brag. 😉

So which side are you on? Race in your race shirt, or save it? Share your thoughts with us here!

24 Things for 24 Years

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Sometime in the 4 AM hour, I turned 24. You can see how happy cake made me at the age of 3, so I am sure you can only imagine how happy I am for birthday treats today! My friend Kristen started the celebration last night by bringing me a mini Oakmonter. Trust me, it’s the best cake in Pittsburgh.

In honor of turning 24, I give you a list of 24 things I’ve learned about myself (and life) so far in this life of mine. I like to think I’m getting older and wiser…you be the judge. 😉

1. Embrace your inner introvert. It’s who you are and damn if it doesn’t feel good to just be who you are.

2. Eat pizza and cake. Just do it. Life is too short to count every calorie.

3. Make decisions based on that one feeling you have. Not everyone will agree with you, not everyone will understand, but you will be so happy.

4. The people who are your best friends now might not always be your best friends. Quality over quantity.

5. Heartbreak doesn’t go away easily. It just doesn’t.

6. Your parents are more than just your parents. They’re real people with real feelings, too. Shocking, right?

7. Work out because you want to, not because you feel like you have to.

8. You will always take things to heart. People’s opinions matter to you. Don’t let those opinions drag you down. For every negative opinion, there is one positive one.

9. Get comfortable going places by yourself. You are your own best company at times.

10. Take pictures of everything. These are the days that make up your life. Remember them!

11. Your mom is probably right.

12. You will always love reading, writing, baking, HGTV and design magazines, and staying home. Except now that you’re a grown up, it’s acceptable to tell people these are your hobbies. 😉

13. Do things that scare you. Become a fitness instructor. Run a marathon. Ride your bike all over the land. Life is an adventure.

14. Follow the wanderlust that’s in your heart. There is no better time than now.

15. You can never tell the people you love that you love them too much or too often.

16. Ask questions. Embrace confusion. The real world is a whole lot of everyone trying to figure out what the hell they’re doing.

17. Admit when you are wrong. You will be, and it will only feel better when you own up to it.

18. Say yes to as many opportunities as possible. There is more to do than you could have ever planned yourself.

19. You do not “have” to do anything. If you are ever making a decision because you feel like you have to do/say/wear/think the “right” thing, don’t make that decision.

20. Say hello to the stranger behind you in line or riding the elevator with you. It’s nice to put a smile on someone else’s face.

21. Write thank you cards. It’s just polite, but it is also so appreciated.

22. Take a break from social media. There is so much life outside of that screen and honestly, you won’t miss those apps.

23. Make an effort to stay in touch with friends and family, even if they live right down the street from you. These are the people you are walking through life with…talk to them, spend time with them, love them, and thank them.

24. Let go and let God. My best seasons of life have come when God was at the center of it all.

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Last year I celebrated my birthday by doing a Christmas Tree run with this girl and the rest of our church friends…this year, I will probably be doing something similar. Nothing is better than a long run. 🙂

Monday Memories [21st Birthday Edition]

It’s a happy Monday over here for the McGraw family! Someone we all know and love is turning 21 today…

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…is he not the cutest thing you have ever seen?!
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My brothers are so very important to me and I am glad that we grew up with parents who cherished their relationships with their siblings. If we didn’t see how important that was, maybe the three of us wouldn’t be so close. Somehow, we have learned that no matter what is said and no matter what happens, we will be there for each other. That is the best gift ever.

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If I had to be stuck on a desert island with two other people, I would pick my brothers. The funny thing is, the three of us are nothing alike and I think that is why we get along so well. Jake is adventurous, Alex is hilarious, and I don’t really know what I have to offer…I’m just along for the ride. 😉 Alex and Jake have a special bond because they are brothers and Jake and I have a special bond because I was the oldest and I liked “taking care” of him when he was younger (hey, I still do that now…). But Alex and I have a special bond because he made me a big sister. I was 3 years old when he came along and I was so excited to have someone to play with. I have vivid memories of making him watch “Wee Sing” sing-a-long VHS videos with me and playing all of my imaginary games…house, school, the whole nine yards.

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Alex was just the person I needed because while he was adventurous and loved playing outside, I was a total girly girl and would have rather played indoors! My favorite memories are the many hours we spent outside drawing sidewalk chalk roads for our bikes, playing in the creek behind our house, and getting all the neighborhood kids together in our front yard to play kickball or hide and seek.

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While we definitely had our own friends, sometimes our friendships overlapped. He called my best friend Stefanie “Fluffy” and I loved playing with his best friend Nick’s little twin sisters. 🙂

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When we were at the beach this summer, our family kept telling lots of “Remember when…” stories because we have been to Wildwood, NJ so many times! Alex and I were trying hard to remember life without Jake, but it was really hard! Jake was born when I was 7 years old and Alex was 4 years old, so we should have lots of memories just together…but somehow, they all include Jake. Which he is totally fine with. Hahaha

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When we were in elementary school, we bickered like cats and dogs. We were part of an after school bumper bowling league and I remember my mom always reminded us to be nice to each other “in public” because I guess she was afraid we would be mean to each other in front of people. We always told her, “But we’re nice to each other there. We take care of each other and share our french fries.” Hahaha

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One of Alex’s favorite pastimes was hiding behind a door…standing in my closet…laying under my bed…sneaking just around the corner…and then jumping out and scaring the shit out of me as soon as I entered the room/stairwell/bed. To this day, I am easily startled, so needless to say, I wasn’t a fan of his favorite game way back when. 😉

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My very favorite memory with Alex is making our Dad hate the movie “The Parent Trap”. When Alex was 5 years old, he and his best friend were racing their bikes around our driveway and Alex turned too wide and ran into the small strip of brick in between our garage doors. He tore his lip and messed up his teeth pretty bad. He needed stitches! In his school picture that year, you can tell something happened to him! But I am pretty sure for the next week after that little accident, we ate our body weight in Welch’s grape and raspberry popsicles and we watched “The Parent Trap” over and over and over again. There are some movies you can just do that with. 🙂 To this day, I love it, and I’m sure if you ask my Dad, he would probably say he hates it! Haha

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Once I got to middle school, Alex and I had totally different social lives. I was my regular introverted self and he was his regular outgoing self. Luckily, we were always the best of friends when we were together. We spent a lot of time with our family and I was his number one fan at baseball and basketball games. 🙂

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We even got to spend one year together in high school! I was a senior when he was a freshman. We both went to Homecoming that year, too!

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He got really tall and most people thought that he was older than me. When I went on college tours, the tour guides ignored me and would ask what he was going to study. But my very favorite were the people who would mistake us for dating. Ha!

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Once, we were riding this Surrey bike in Wildwood and Alex was driving us down a ramp from the Boardwalk to the street. Though this bike has two steering wheels, only one of them ACTUALLY steers the bike and that person also controls the bike. Lucky me, Alex was driving. In his brain, we were going to go full speed ahead down the ramp, but I was having a fit and trying to slow us down before we crashed. As we argued and I tried to reach across him to control the brake, someone commented that we were too young to already be acting like an old married couple. Hahaha!

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We did not die. We made it to dinner that night:)

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Alex has a huge heart, is so smart, and has that extra little dash of confidence that lets him do what he really wants to do no matter what anyone else thinks. I envy that and wish I were more like him in that respect!

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He loves driving (his car and anything else)…

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He loves his dog, Amigo…

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…and he loves Pittsburgh sports. Steelers games are our happy place. 🙂

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The day is finally here, Alex! You have been waiting for your 21st birthday forever. You are now officially an adult. I love you so much! Happy Birthday! Have the best day!

A Birthday + A Weekend Recap

It’s September 1! Happy, happy birthday to my Dad!

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I called him yesterday and told him his present is going to be late because it’s really hard to go to the post office when you work full time. The gift has been riding around on my passenger seat for a week. I am the best daughter ever. #insertsarcasmhere Happy Birthday, Dad!! Thanks for always supporting me in everything I do and always listening to me ramble on about my life. And thank you for being a faithful blog reader! I love you!!

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Even though my attempt at running on Friday was a fail, it felt good to come home and have nothing on the agenda. I made myself feel better by cooking Trader Joe’s Mahi Mahi burgers and watching Big Brother on DVR. 🙂

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My roommate had asked if I wanted to hang out with her and her friends, so I started making myself look presentable. For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to curl my very short hair. I don’t actually have a curling iron, but luckily my mom left hers behind the last time she visited. After a few failed attempts, I asked Carlin if she had a curling iron with a smaller barrel and she introduced me to The Wand.

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Initially, I couldn’t figure the dang thing out. I also unintentionally had it on the lowest heat setting, so that may have had something to do with it. Once I got it all figured out, I was excited!

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My hair never holds a wave, so I was impressed!

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The moon was looking nice and spooky at the rooftop bar, so of course I snapped a photo. And that’s about all I did. After about 30 minutes, my friend Sarah and I called it a night and walked home. We are so fun. Hahaha

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I drink so much water during the day that I don’t sleep through the night. When I make it until 6 AM, it’s a victory! I woke up at 6:17 on Saturday morning and as I was walking back in my room, I noticed the sunrise. I love little moments like this. 🙂

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An exciting thing happened on Saturday. Jenna started a series called “Blogs I’m Loving Saturday” and I was featured on her blog! Reading her opinion of my blog made me so grateful for the connections that are made in the blogging world. She is too sweet! Jenna also mentioned a few others as well. Check out the post here!

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I went to the mall with Sarah and then Kristen and I headed to Tortoise and Hare in Crystal City to watch the Steelers vs. Bills game. It’s still preseason, but it was a painful game to watch. I’m a sore loser, what can I say?! 😉 This bar and grille was so fun because it was full of Steelers fans and had flags and posters for all the major Pittsburgh sports teams!

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I am officially a member of The Container Store’s email list. #teacherproblems I couldn’t pass up the 25% off coupon this weekend, so I went to pick up some little chairs for my classroom library. I feel like places such as Target make large plastic bags that these chairs may have (awkwardly) fit in…but no, The Container Store thought I would be just fine to walk home with these in tow. I guess I should have thought of that before I bought them haha!

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Saturday was such a fun day…shopping at the mall, lunch at California Pizza Kitchen, watching the Steelers game at Tortoise and Hare, then stopping at The Container Store on the way home…but by Saturday night, I was ready to sit down and do NOTHING. I tried to work out and spent a total of 14 minutes in the gym. Haha! I have been accumulating quite the stack of reading material so I made a chocolate shake and settled in for the night at 9 PM. 🙂 Best decision ever.

It happened again on Sunday morning…I rose at the crack of dawn. This time, it was because I fell asleep early. But still, I thought I could sleep for a few more hours! My body wasn’t having it, so I took my Bible and journal and went outside to ACTUALLY watch the sun rise on this day, instead of just snapping a photo and falling back to sleep.

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6:10 AM

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6:21 AM

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6:24 AM

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6:27 AM

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And then I went back to bed. 🙂 Reading always makes me tired when I’m supposed to be tired (like at 6:30 in the morning, perhaps?!) so I got the best of both worlds. A little bit of reading & sun rise, then a little bit of sleep.

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I did a bad thing this weekend. I didn’t open my planner AT ALL and it totally slipped my mind that I was volunteering in the nursery during the 9 AM church service. I felt so bad when I read the email a few hours later! I was being pretty lazy on Sunday morning, but ultimately I decided to throw on this dress and take a selfie before walking to church. My church is called National Community Church and there are 7 locations in the DC/Virginia area. I have been going to the same location in Capitol Hill for the last year, though I have visited other locations on occasion. The Capitol Hill location just feels like “home” now! But now that I live in Arlington, there is an NCC campus literally half a mile from my apartment, so I wanted to check it out. NCC is lovingly known as “Theatre Church” because all of our church services are held in theaters where either shows or movies usually play. My church in Capitol Hill is in the oldest theater in DC. How cool is that?! The one in Georgetown is held in the AMC Movie Theater…and the one in Arlington right by me is also held in a movie theater!

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It was weird to walk in and actually smell the popcorn haha! One thing that is so impressive to me about our church is that it takes a lot of people to make services happen every weekend since we don’t own any of the places we have service in! We all hear the same sermon; if you are at a location where the pastor is, then you see it live. The pastor obviously cannot be in 7 churches at once, so if you aren’t at the live location, you are watching via video on the screen. Hence why we are in theaters. 🙂 I like going to live services, but I don’t mind watching the live stream because every church has a band/singers and the audience (is that what we are called?) gets into the message like as if the pastor is right in front of us talking. In any case, I liked walking to church, but I missed my “people” at Capitol Hill!

The other big to-do on my list for Sunday was going to November Project tagging. November Project is a free fitness movement that started in Boston to keep people accountable to their workouts during the cold, bitter winter months. Now, it has spread to other big cities in the U.S., though I have been noticing some “pop up” workouts in smaller places like Pittsburgh and Kansas City! They are testing those cities out, I guess. 😉 November Project in DC meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, typically in a different location. They update their Facebook page a day or two before the workout to let you know where to wake up and go. Yep, you read that right…you wake up to go to a 5:30 AM or 6:30 AM workout. 🙂 I’m a bigger fan of 6:30. Hahaha

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ANYWAYS, there is not a consistent group of people who go to November Project. You might see familiar faces, but the group varies from day to day and there are usually at least 60 people there, so there are lots of faces! I have been so jealous of the people who have their shirts spray painted with the words “November Project” and the outline of the Lincoln Memorial. Every city does their shirts a little differently…NYC obviously has an apple instead of Lincoln. 😉 But they only tag (aka spray paint) every so often, so you have to pay attention to their Facebook or blog posts! This Sunday, there was tagging in the park at 4 PM so Kristen and I knew we had to go!

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Everyone just laid their shirts out like these and three of the main people in charge of the group walked around with their stencils and cans of spray paint. Bless their hearts. There were so many shirts and it was so hot!

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I had never been to this park before, but it was so pretty! It was also the best place for people watching. I mean, there was nothing else to do except mingle with other NP-ers or people watch while our shirts were being sprayed. I sat on the wall surrounding this pond? Fountain? for most of the time that we were at the park, but I saw the strangest things. Like a girl celebrating her quinceañera. She was wearing a red dress and was taking pictures like it was her wedding! She had a date and they both had girls and guys on either side of them. So interesting!

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Also, there was a guy walking on a tightrope. Just for fun. Like he literally brought this to the park and tied it to the trees. Anyways…

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Finally it was my turn to get tagged. 🙂 Every so often, they flip someone’s shirt up to clean off their stencil. When that happens, it says November Project with the monument across the chest and then it’s kind of reflected on the bottom. I looked up at one point to see Steve doing push ups on somebody’s shirt because he had just flipped it up. I was convinced that this would not happen to me. I did not want the words to be reflected like that. It would not happen. And of course because I was so adamant, it did. Hahaha

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So now my long sleeve lime green shirt says NP and has the reflection. Which is okay. I actually like it now. But in the moment I was thinking NOOOO! I fixed this situation by taking off the shirt I was wearing and sneaking it into the line. 😉 It was only six shirts away from my lime green one, so I knew he wouldn’t have to clean his stencil off there, too! Haha

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So official!

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As a first year teacher, I am convinced I need a lot of things that I probably don’t actually need. But I wanted some way to mark the books in my classroom that are mine (versus the school or student books), so I bought this stamp on Etsy.

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Tell me that is not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen! My Type A personality is so happy that all my books will be stamped. 🙂

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I also have a deep, deep love for peanut butter and jelly (to the point where I don’t buy jelly because I will eat it all way too fast), but when I tried the PB&J Quest bar in the past, it did not live up to my expectations. I decided to give it another shot this weekend and I was pleasantly surprised. However, it would have been better if I warmed it up first. Unfortunately, it was in my bag in case I got HANGRY, which I did, so there was no microwave nearby. 😉

How was your weekend?! Are you already looking forward to the next one?! Happy Tuesday!

Banana Oat Cake [Amigo’s 2nd Birthday]

I like to talk food around here on Wednesdays, do I not? Well, today I’m sharing a very different kind of recipe. The kind of recipe you will want to share with your favorite four-legged friend.

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The recipe only includes ingredients that are considered “people food”, so I suppose you could try a taste, too. 😉 Our family has a Golden Retriever and my brother, Alex, has a Staffordshire Pitbull Terrier named Amigo. Yesterday, he turned 2! My mom and I looked to our friend Pinterest for dog cake inspiration. We have had lots of success with dog treats and dog cakes in the past…on my Timehop yesterday, there was a picture of Amigo celebrating his 1st birthday.

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If you’ve never baked a cake for your pup, you should give it a try! I guarantee you have all of the ingredients you need in your kitchen already.

Find the original recipe here.

Ingredients

Cake

2 bananas, mashed
4 tbsp honey
1 egg
1 cup water
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup peanut butter
1 can chicken broth

Toppings

Dog treats of choice
Peanut butter (for icing)

*Note: your dog cannot eat this in one sitting. The original recipe says it serves 24, and I don’t know about your dog, but mine doesn’t have 24 friends. 🙂

 Directions

Cook time = 1 hour @ 350*F.

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Preheat your oven to 350*F. Mash bananas and add to oats and honey mixture.

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Add peanut butter and flour to the mix and continue combining the ingredients.

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It should look something like this! Where the original recipe called for 2 cups of water, my mom decided we should add 1 cup of water and 1 can of chicken broth…for flavor. I was all for taste testing this cake until we added chicken broth. I’m sure the dogs loved the extra “flavor”…but I don’t know what I think about banana peanut butter oatmeal with chicken broth. 🙂

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Grease baking pans of your choice. You could choose one deeper dish or two smaller ones, as we did. We just had to use the hearts. 🙂

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Bake until your cake passes the toothpick test! When the toothpick comes out clean, your cake has baked all the way through. Transfer to a cooling rack and use peanut butter as your icing.

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We lined the edge with peanut butter and mini Milk Bones and then layered the two cakes!

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Then of course, you can choose to write your dog’s name on the cake and add candles. We did both. 🙂

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You should probably also sing “Happy Birthday” (and yes, Amigo is sitting on a chair)…

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…and let your dog have the first piece of cake, as is birthday custom.

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Then, he can share with his friends. 🙂 And he or she better have a lot of dog friends because you will have LOTS of leftover cake!

Obviously, we like birthdays around here. Jake (my youngest brother) joked that his birthday cake wasn’t even this nice. He was joking…and in my mom’s defense, he requested chocolate chip cookie cake, so it’s hard to make that fancy haha! Besides Amigo’s fancy fancy cake, he was spoiled with peanut butter toast for breakfast, lots of tennis ball throwing in the backyard, and presents that included a squeaky toy, which comes in second on his list of favorite toys (tennis balls take first).

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This was actually funny. The second piece of toast was for Colby and I was taking a video when we had the dogs come over to eat their breakfast. Amigo must have breathed at just the right moment because he looks like he is blowing out the candle in the video! Haha

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And here was our evening game of tennis balls. The dogs got a tennis ball gun for Christmas one year and it was the best present ever…for everyone in the family. The neon green object that I am holding is the gun. You point it at the ground and just grab the tennis ball in the very end of the gun, then pull back on the trigger and it shoots across the yard. Those tennis balls get some serious air and the dogs get so much exercise! Amigo actually really loves chasing the ball and bringing it back to you. Colby really likes getting the ball just so that Amigo can’t have it and then he never brings it back. Worst Golden Retriever ever. Hahaha

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It was getting dark, but here’s an action shot of them chasing the ball I just shot! The orange orb in the middle of this picture is the tennis ball. 😉

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Amigo turned 2, but his presents make him look like he turned 72, because he got Hip & Joint treats along with a bone and a squeaky toy. Reason: he sits like a frog 100% of the time.

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Usually, Amigo looks like this…dropping tennis balls on your lap and giving you puppy eyes so you play with him. But last night after we played in the backyard, he looked like this! We could not stop laughing at his face. He NEVER looks like this! He needed water and a nap ASAP. 🙂 Also, check out his frog legs. Haha!

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He has grown so much!

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Happy Birthday, Baby Migo. 🙂 We love you!!!

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So now that you’ve seen me be a crazy dog aunt, tell me…are you a crazy dog person, too?!

Rain Can’t Rain On My Friday Parade

The 10 Day Forecast isn’t showing sunshine until Sunday…but rain can’t ruin a Friday! I have a hot date with my laptop and my thesis so it’s going to be a weekend to remember. 😉 Luckily, my roommate and I are kicking it off with drinks + friends!

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The week after a break can be a drag, but I’m happy to report there was no dragging over here. I’m not sure my lovely friend Molly feels the same way. 😉 As usual, I’m linking up with Andrea, Erika, and Narci to share my favorites from this week! You might think it’s silly or wonder how you could possibly have a new favorite something only seven days apart, but I like to reflect on moments. The little things are the big things. I challenge you to think about your week, too!

– ONE –

This week started off on a high note…we were all kind of still riding the “birthday high” from Jake’s celebrations last weekend and so I was super excited to get this text in my family’s group message on Tuesday afternoon!

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Permit in hand, ready to hit the road! A favorite for sure. My mom has let him be pretty adventurous this week behind the wheel. He’s had a ton of practice in parking lots and driveways and cul-de-sacs (I think my Dad taught all three of us how to drive before we were 16;)), so my parents were pretty okay sitting in the passenger seat this week!

– TWO –

I’m a creature of habit in the kitchen. I just am. I am also kind of picky about what I eat, which stems from the fact that I was the pickiest child on the planet when I was younger. Think Kraft macaroni and cheese on Thanksgiving because I wouldn’t eat turkey. My grandparents thought that was ridiculous, just so you know. Hahaha

I am not NEARLY as picky about what I eat anymore but there are a few weird habits I have that have stuck around. Example: I don’t like red meat unless it’s with pasta. I will not eat hamburgers or steak. It just doesn’t seem appealing to me. That being said, I LOVE chicken and turkey. But a diet of chicken and turkey can get a little boring sometimes and I have discovered that not all seafood “tastes fishy”. I’m not sure what that description even means because I didn’t put a piece of seafood in my mouth until I was at least 15 so I was judging with no experience. Except for that time my Dad ordered fish and the fish was delivered to our table with its eyeball still in… #scarredforlife

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I have decided I like tuna, some crab, tilapia, and calamari…but really I just like calamari’s fried breading and sauce;) Anyways, I made tilapia and broccoli for lunch this week and it was definitely a favorite!

– THREE –

On the subject of cooking, my roommate and I take turns cooking dinner for each other once a week. I made ground turkey lettuce wraps. So yummy and so easy to make!

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This recipe is 21 Day Fix Extreme APPROVED which makes it a favorite for me! A similar recipe can be found here.

– FOUR – 

I have discussed my newfound love for podcasts and I think it is awesome that my church has a podcast where we can listen to sermons if we miss the service or if we just want to hear them again later in the week!

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On Wednesday when I was going to meet friends to run, I was in such a cranky mood about something that is not even important. Regardless, I was changing the radio station every ten seconds and then I plugged my iPod in and I started doing the same thing. Add some red lights that stay red for five minutes and green for 20 seconds and I was DONE. So I finally decided to click on the NCC podcast and listen to the sermon (even though I had already heard it) because sometimes you just need a little Jesus in your life.

– FIVE –

These people that I run with, though. Seriously some of my favorites.

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There is nothing better than running shoes. 😉

Wednesday was a special night for us because part of our running group is on a mission trip right now. They’re in Israel and Palestine learning about the conflict and reconciliation efforts there and Friday morning, they ran the Right to Movement Marathon in the West Bank. Those of us in DC planned our route so that we could go to both the Palestinian Liberation Organization building and the Embassy of Israel and pray for our friends who are abroad.

On the way, we passed the National Cathedral…

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…this entire evening was one of my favorites of the entire week. 🙂

– SIX –

Have you ever bought something, gotten home, unpacked your bags, and then weeks later, found one of your purchases??? No? Just me?!

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Painted nails make me feel put together. #needisaymore

– SEVEN –

Easter is around the corner and I love a good reason to buy festive little decorations for my apartment.

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The glitter Easter eggs didn’t all fit in the apothecary jar by my kitchen window, so the rest found a home in the basket on my coffee table. 🙂

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I love love love having candles burning when I’m at home. My roommate just bought this HUGE Yankee candle which smells amazing (and is the perfect color for Spring;)). I also always have a candy dish on this end table and when I saw this one, I knew it was perfect. I love that it’s  shaped like an Easter egg and has the little bunny on top. It’s not too much but it still fits the holiday. 🙂

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– EIGHT –

And because I can’t end on an odd number, here’s the new verse that is the new background of my phone. 🙂

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Happy weekend, everyone!

Post Spring Break Happiness

Today I woke up and the sky looked like this:

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You can’t be mad about Monday morning when it’s this pretty. 🙂

I’ve been thinking about my Spring Break and realizing that although it didn’t really go as planned, it was still a great week. I didn’t travel to an exotic location with friends, I just went home to spend time with my family and friends and it was so fun. I did get sick and that kept me down a few nights…but maybe rest is just what I needed! I was still able to see two of my best friends, have lunch with my Aunt, spend time with my parents and brothers, and celebrate my brother’s birthday. When I picture what my planner looks like in the next couple of weeks, the number of assignments and projects I have due almost makes me feel like I need to schedule my day by the hour. But I don’t feel overwhelmed…I feel refreshed. Ready to take on the many, many tasks with my name on them. And I think I have Spring Break to thank for that!

It wasn’t only getting sick that made Spring Break not so spring-like…it actually SNOWED on the official first day of Spring!

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My workouts weren’t as intense because I was trying to listen to the doctor (eight to ten days of rest? Is she kidding?) but I did manage to make it outside to walk the dogs a few times and run on Saturday. Colby is a good little walker…Amigo pulls forward the entire time like he has never been on a leash before. I keep hoping that with more practice, he will stop being the leader of the walk. It hasn’t happened yet. 😉

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It’s like you can see their personality in the pictures…Colby is content to just be (he was laying on my lap) and Amigo loves to play and move and run at all times!

I spent a good part of Friday night at Jake’s volleyball tournament…

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He’s got hops.

…and we spent lots of time celebrating his 16th birthday. 🙂

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My people.

My mom let one of his friends eat a piece of cake before we sang Happy Birthday! I was appalled. He wouldn’t let us sing when we went to Dave and Buster’s with his friends, so we made the singing happen at brunch the next day. You can see how happy he is about that. 😉

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But now it’s Monday…I’m back at school…and it’s back to reality! Instead of looking ahead at all of my responsibilities and feeling overwhelmed…I’m going to look back on my Spring Break…and then move forward feeling refreshed. I think I was stuck in a winter funk before I went home. I was obviously still going to work, doing my schoolwork, and working out, but I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired to do any of those things. I actually couldn’t wait to get home and “relax” most days. The biggest thing that I wanted to focus on this year was being more present in my every day life. Really involving myself in what I am doing…engaging in conversations…and appreciating the moments. But no one can do that 100% of the time and I think it’s pretty normal to feel like you’re a little disconnected from your own life sometimes. You don’t need an entire week off to bring yourself “back to life” (or maybe you do;)) but you should do something that will help you break your routine.

Last week, I would have felt overwhelmed by everything that I have to do for school…this week I am excited to take on the challenges.

Last week, I would have felt like it wasn’t fair that I “have” to work out (seriously, this is a thought I had), this week I am thankful that my body is able to work out.

Last week, I would have watched Netflix in my free time…this week I realize that my free time is SMALL and should not be given to mindless TV. Example: last night, I taught myself new PiYo choreography and read a book.

I’m still in grad school so I get to have fun weeks like Spring Break. But if you’re in the real world and ten days off isn’t a gift that your job gives you (they really should. Let’s petition!)…change it up. You have a daily routine (we all do), so just do one little thing differently. Your perspective WILL change.

My perspective is refreshed.

Happy Monday!

Throwback Thursday: Birthday Edition

There are few people in this world that I love more than I love my two brothers. Maybe it’s because I’m the oldest, maybe it’s because I grew up with parents who were really close to their siblings…whatever the reason, I am extremely protective and proud of my little brothers.

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New York City 2013

Family is great like that. Knowing there are people in the world who will love you no matter what kind of mood you’re in, no matter what you say, no matter what you do. You are loved. If we’re lucky in life, we even find a few friends that are as great as family. When I find those people, I never let them go. 🙂 But family is different. You certainly don’t get to pick who your siblings are, and I know that I am lucky to have the close relationships that I do with my brothers. We are all so very different, but I think that’s part of the reason why we like each other…and part of the reason that we are who we are. Plus, we always have so much fun with each other.

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Alex, Me, and Jake: Wildwood 2013

Today, it’s all about the baby of the family…Jake. His birthday is on Sunday and I am feeling nostalgic, so I started looking through old photos! I am 23, Alex is 20, and Jake is about to turn 16. I know from pictures and stories that I was really excited to be a big sister when Alex was born. I couldn’t wait to have someone to play with! He was always game for my imaginary games…house, school, you know. The fun kid stuff. 🙂 And Alex was always good at making me go outside and ride bikes or play in the yard. We complemented each other well. But when Jake was born…that was different. I was 7 years old at the time, so I actually remember being excited about a new sibling. Alex, of course, wanted a brother, and I, of course, wanted a sister…because I already had a little brother and who needs more than one of those?! 😉

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It was Monday afternoon…I was in first grade…in library class…and I was actually taking a book off the shelf when my teacher told me I had a new baby brother. The details that I remember make me laugh! How does your brain decide what to remember?! A baby brother was a-okay with me…then I didn’t have to share my room. 😉

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Jake was my favorite little person to play with. I didn’t need my baby dolls anymore because now I had one of my own! Three can be a weird number…but we always played well together (for the most part) and we learned how to handle the number three. Alex and Jake are (obviously) closer in age and boys…so they have that special brother bond. But there’s definitely a special brother-sister bond and a special older sister bond that I get to have.

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When Jake was little, my parents told him all.the.time. that they sprinkled “little dust” on him in his sleep so that he would stay the baby forever. Usually we all laughed when they said this, and then it got to a point where it made Jake cry because he didn’t want to be a baby forever! Hahaha

There are a few pictures of Jake and I from over the years that almost look like they have been replicated…and it’s so crazy to see how the two of us have changed!

From biking…

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…to boating…

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…to selfies…

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…to Steeler games…

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…to band concerts at school…

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…little dust be damned! Look how big he got! Not going to lie, the band concert picture is one that I made him replicate. The others are ones that I found in our photo albums that just happen to match…but when he played his last band concert in middle school, I knew we had to get another picture so we could put them side by side. 🙂 It’s weird to be the big sister sometimes because you see your younger siblings become who they are going to be! I remember being so annoyed when Jake finally got an opinion on what radio station we listened to in the car. Hahaha

One of the best things about Jake is just getting to hang out with him! Just like Alex complements me, so does Jake. He and I are nothing alike and yet we like and do so many of the same things.

We both like to eat pizza…

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…and ride bikes still…

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…but he likes volleyball. And we know that I have no team sport coordination. But I am a really good cheerleader, so I watch. 🙂

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He doesn’t love to run so much, but he does love to run with me!

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Siblings who work out together…are beasts.

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He loves heights and SkyCoasters and all things scary…so sometimes I’m a daredevil too.

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And we do all things ridiculous. Like playing on playgrounds and crawling in tiny spaces. Because life is too short not to have fun.

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How did we ever fit in that doorway?!

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Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum: Baltimore 2014

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Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum: Baltimore 2014

On Sunday, the boy turns 16. Ah!!! I am always so sentimental for birthdays. How are they this old? How did they get this big? You know, all those silly questions adults ask ME when I have a birthday that typically are very annoying…yeah, I go and do the same thing. I hate when other people make a big deal about how “big” I am, but when you are the big sister watching people grow up, you’re allowed to be sentimental, right?! After all, I taught him everything he knows. 😉

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I have two younger brothers…but I only have one YOUNGEST brother…and Jake is the best at that.

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4th of July 2014: Washington, D.C.

He is super smart, funny, and inquisitive. He listens to horrible rap music but I forgive him because sometimes I like horrible rap music. 😉 He makes me go in all the “boy” stores at the mall but at least he comes to the mall with me. He has made me come to hate the show Ridiculousness but come to love the show Bones. Everyone needs a little mystery! I love him so much. Happy early birthday, Jake!

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