Gone Exploring

When you move to a new place, you gain a new perspective about where you are from as well as starting to better understand the place you are in. As I browsed social media over the last year or so since moving to DC, I noticed many of my friends here going hiking on local trails. I suppose I could do this in Pittsburgh, but it is not something that my friends or family and I have ever done before. My brother and I have biked through trails in downtown Pittsburgh, but we’ve never really hiked. Once I figured out that there were so many cool places to hike in DC, I knew I had to do this, but you know, first I had to actually make friends. Would you just randomly ask one of your acquaintances to go hiking with you?! Hahaha

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Two weekends ago, my friend and I finally made plans to go to Great Falls National Park. Per her recommendations, we hiked on the Maryland side of the trails. There is a 4.7 mile loop called the Billy Goat Trail that runs between the C&O Canal and the Potomac River. This is not your average dirt path through the woods or mountains…it is a very rocky climb!

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We started out on the path near the C&O Canal and the Visitor’s Center, where we parked our car. There were so many people biking and walking their dogs on this path! I was thinking about how nice it would be to run here, but on second thought, I love city running. The woods are pretty, but there is always something new to see when you are running in the city! This also made me think about why my friends like to go to places like this so much…probably because it is a great escape from city life and it isn’t very far away.

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The trail started out as a dirt path with a few boulders that you had to get over or around…and then we ran into this small creek. There was a makeshift bridge built for those too nervous to cross the tree trunk…but I decided to go the more adventurous route. 🙂 In all honesty, I wish I would’ve had a bag on my back or left my belongings in the car! I brought my phone and a water bottle and I wish my hands had been more free!

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Once we crossed the creek, there was a lot of terrain that looked like this. This is REALLY where having my hands free would have been helpful! We never really had to climb straight up, but there were definitely times when I was reaching up for stability or leaping across to the next part of the rocky path and would’ve rather had two hands!

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The best part of this hike is that it was very populated, so I never felt alone or scared in the woods. I’m sure more experienced hikers appreciate some solitude in the woods, but since I have never been to this park before, I liked all the human interaction. 🙂 My friend and I would often give advice to the people climbing right behind us or watch the people in front of us to see how they took their next steps!

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On one of the first “look outs”, we were just kind of taking in our surroundings when I found this huge leaf! I attempted to carry it with me for a bit because it was seriously as big as my head, but it ended up just being another thing to hold. Photo evidence had to take the place of actual evidence that I found this. Ha!

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Here, we were just coming up on Bear Island. So says Wikipedia, so say I. 😉 You can see how Kristen’s feet are kind of slanted, which shows the varying heights of the rocks we were tumbling across. We were making our way down to the edge of the water…

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…where I pretended I was at the rocky beach. So fun!

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The sun was especially pretty on this day, and also very appreciated. I was wearing two layers and a scarf and I was definitely warm enough, but in those moments when we stopped and weren’t moving, I needed a little sunshine to stay warm!

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Below, you can see the “beach” area that I was just talking about. If you notice where the people are standing in the bottom corner, that’s where we were that was so rocky and right near the water!

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But to take that picture of the “beach” and the other hikers, first we had to climb up the other side. There were blue markers for us to follow the whole time, but the hike definitely got more challenging (and more rocky) as we climbed on!

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#victoryismine

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It was around this point that we were almost done with our hike. I was sad and wanted to turn around and go back the exact same way that we came so that we could be out there longer! It only took about 1.5 hours to walk, hike, take pictures, and hike some more, but it was the perfect Saturday afternoon activity! We then followed up our great outdoorsy-ness with a trip to Tyson’s Corner Center, which included Starbucks, clothes that we definitely don’t need, The Cheesecake Factory, and a new movie in theaters called “Love The Coopers” (which you should definitely see because it was filmed in Pittsburgh!).

So tell me…have you been hiking before?

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Linking up with Katie!

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Favorite Things Gone Thankful Things

It’s the month of thanks and the season of giving…so why not change up those Friday Favorites to reflect that? I’m so excited to be writing again after so many weeks of falling off the blogging radar. I am, first, most thankful for every one of you who reads this blog. I would still write even if my parents were the only ones who read my posts, but I love that others enjoy my writing, too!

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I am thankful for big comfy sweaters. Nobody likes an early Monday morning, but everyone loves a cute outfit. 😉

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My mom was in town twice last month so of course we did our fair share of shopping. She picked this out for me when we were shopping at Marshall’s. I love the different patterns and I love the POCKETS!

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Just the best little sweater there ever was.

I am thankful for running friends turned real life friends.

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Moving to a new city where you know zero people is not the easiest thing in the world. This I learned when I moved to DC last fall for grad school. Little by little, I started to find my place here. I went to as many events as possible hoping that maybe I would make some friends. Church helped a lot, but so did reaching out to acquaintances I knew in the area. Kristen and I graduated a few years apart at Duquesne so we became really good friends, and then this summer, we started going to Lululemon’s running club on Monday night. There, we met the rest of these pretty faces…and then we realized we actually really liked each other and could make plans outside of run club haha!

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It’s nice to make real friendships with people. It is so easy to meet others and feel like you have a forced friendship just because you are in the same place doing the same thing. That is not the case with this group! We truly enjoy each other’s company and look forward to our workouts together each week! Last weekend, we all went to Nationals Park for a beer, wine, and cider festival. It was so fun to just be outside enjoying the wonderful fall weather!

I am thankful for delicious recipes found in blog land.

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Here you will see a picture I stole from Hungry Runner Girl…but that’s because I loved my soup too much to take a picture. 😉 Chicken cream cheese chili in the crockpot. Doesn’t get much tastier or easier than that! I may or may not have had this for lunch and as a snack almost every day this week. You can be the judge of that. HRG got this recipe from a friend and has since updated the ingredient list a bit. If you plan on making this, add a can of tomato soup! It makes it taste even better!

I am thankful for unseasonably warm weather in November.

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I suppose that sentiment should be followed by a “knock on wood”! When cold weather comes, I will literally curl up in a ball and cry. I love snow. It is magical. And I’m a teacher, so give me #allthesnowdays and #allthe2hourdelays but I despise being cold. It makes me almost as cranky as being hangry. Ha! I’m like a bear. I almost need to hibernate. 🙂

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Last Friday was funny. The sky and clouds looked like a combination of “about to rain” and “sun doesn’t want to set”. You certainly won’t find me complaining about the sun setting slowly even though we’ve set the clocks back…

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…or the fact that it will occasionally still be in the 70s even though I feel like winter should be right around the corner. My mom has driven to work in 33* weather with the seat heaters on all week. Pittsburgh, I love you big, but your 33* November mornings certainly do not make me want to rush home. 😉

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Although this did happen last weekend…I didn’t check the weather before heading out for my run and I wore shorts and a tank top. I ran the fastest I have in weeks because I was trying to get back home! #alwayscold #allthetime

I am thankful for hilarious coworkers.

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Our team leader sent this minion picture to us yesterday before school. We all had subs in our classrooms in the afternoon so that we could attend meetings and plan for the rest of the semester. While that time is always more than appreciated, it is also a very tedious task to plan for months at a time, so there was no shortage of snacks and inappropriate jokes. We are a rowdy bunch! The math coach that was working with us was laughing so hard because we get our work done, but we certainly have fun, too. I don’t take it for granted that the five of us work so well together. For my first year of teaching, I couldn’t have better support!

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Bloggers, looking for a link-up? Click over to any one of these amazing blogs to join us for Friday Favorites!

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Friday Favorites

Eat All The Vegetables (And All The Pasta)

When I walk into my kitchen to make dinner, I am usually craving a certain flavor. Is that normal?! Some flavor combinations that I crave, in case you are thinking I am crazy, are syrup and a glass of milk, sauce and cheese, and of course, my beloved veggie omelette and sweet potato. Although I guess that last one is technically a meal and not a flavor. But do you see what I’m saying?! Sometimes, there is just one flavor that you know that you want! One of my favorite flavors is sauce and cheese. 🙂

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One of my classic favorite meals. So exciting, I know.

I don’t profess to be a food blogger, and for that you should be thankful because I literally have no idea what I’m talking about. It irritates me when the ingredient list includes more than five items, I typically cook when I’m hangry therefore I am very impatient, and I own probably 7 spices and never have the one that the recipe calls for. On the flip side, I am always trying to find something new to love making and eating and I tend to search for healthy alternatives. I like to know that I’m eating a variety of food to help me be my healthiest, because if left to my own devices, I would try to survive on chips, queso, oatmeal, and yogurt. #keepingitreal

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There was a time when I wouldn’t eat any pasta within a ten-mile radius. Pasta = carbs and that was one of the things I wasn’t “allowed” to eat…according to my own ridiculous standards. The plate of deliciousness that you see above is buffalo chicken parmesan from The Macaroni Grill and yes I ate every last bite of it (although I did eat it in two different meals…so. much. food)! However, buffalo chicken parmesan, especially in this quantity, is not a meal I would add to my regular rotation of lunches or dinners throughout the week. Two ways that I eat “pasta” without actually eating pasta are in the form of zoodles and spaghetti squash. For the record, I do not think carbs are the devil (your body needs them) and I do actually eat real pasta now. 🙂 I am just always trying to add vegetables to my meals because they are easy to skip (in my opinion), but they are nutrient dense and I need them!

Zucchini Noodles

Cook Time: 2 minutes (microwave)
Need: Zucchini, spiralizer, pasta toppings of your choice

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First, we have zucchini noodles, or as you might see them called on Pinterest, “zoodles”. I buy zucchini every week at the grocery store to cook with or eat in some way, and yet this is the best picture I could find of my zoodles. Probably because every time I make them, they look pretty unappetizing even though they taste great. 🙂 Here, I just topped the zoodles with sauce of my choice, some mozzarella, and turkey meatballs.

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To make zoodles, you need a spiralizer. This is the easy-peasy spiralizer that I own, and while there are much more complicated ones out there, for $14.99 this one does the trick just fine. You have the option of moving the white cap on the top to either end, depending on whether you want thick or think zoodles. With zucchini in one hand and spiralizer in the other, you just twist your zoodles into a bowl. I am lazy and make mine in the microwave (though the stove is always an option, too). Cover your zoodles with a paper towel to soak up moisture and you have the base of your meal ready to go in two minutes!

Spaghetti Squash

Cook Time: 10 minutes (microwave) OR 35 minutes (oven)
Need: Spaghetti squash, knife and fork, pasta toppings of your choice

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This one is a little more complicated than zoodles. Spaghetti squash is pretty easy to find in the produce section of the grocery store. Once you find it, you will wonder how you ever missed it. 😉 If you are lucky, the produce sticker on your squash might also have directions on it! I have cooked spaghetti squash in the microwave and in the oven. One night I had more time (and patience) than I had on another night. Ha!

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Don’t worry, you aren’t going to eat this part. 😉 No matter how you are cooking your squash, you must first use a fork to poke holes in the squash. I forgot this step when I cooked my squash this past weekend in the oven, and it took FOREVER to bake. Don’t omit this step! Once you have done that, then you can cut it in half.

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Just like a pumpkin…you have to get all the strings and seeds out of the squash. Once you are left with two “bowls”, you can season it with whatever spices you have on hand. I used pepper and red pepper flakes.

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When I took this picture, I was cooking this squash in the microwave for ten minutes.

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Once your squash cooks, you will be able to get your “spaghetti”. I used a fork to pull it all to the middle.

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I had a plate nearby for all the spaghetti…

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…and when I was done getting all the “noodles”, this is what my squash looked like! There should be nothing left. 🙂

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I added chicken and this delicious sauce from Trader Joe’s!

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If your TJ’s hasn’t gone Christmas crazy on you yet, try to find this Autumnal Harvest pasta sauce before it’s gone for the season!

So the real question: do zoodles or spaghetti squash actually taste like REAL spaghetti noodles? Well…no. Carbs are magical and vegetables are vegetables. If you are expecting the flavor and consistency of pasta, you won’t find that with these two options. But of course, zoodles and spaghetti squash are flavorful and filling, so what more could you ask for? When you are searching for healthy alternatives, these are two great choices. Happy cooking!

Marathon Monday: Spectator Edition

I haven’t blogged in awhile so I talk a lot in this post. Feel free to skim!

Last weekend, my best friend and I went to New York City. Several people have asked me if I just so happened to be there the same weekend of the TCS New York City Marathon, and the answer is no. We intentionally planned the trip so that we could spectate the race. Because runners are crazy and enjoy that type of thing. 🙂

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DC is only 4 hours from NYC, so we left early on Saturday morning and came back late Sunday night. It was a quick trip, but we packed so much into those 36 hours! This was also our first experience using Airbnb to book a place to stay. Combine Halloween weekend with the marathon and hotel choices suddenly look very slim…or look like $700. Neither of which I was willing to deal with. 😉

So how was the Airbnb? Pros: the price was beyond affordable, I was able to park my car for free where we stayed which was AMAZING, we had an entire one bedroom apartment to ourselves, and we were 3 blocks from the subway. Cons: the neighbors got into a very loud argument at 2:30 AM that resulted in the cops showing up. Those New York walls are paper thin, I tell ya! We weren’t in a bad part of town and they were just roommates arguing about who was supposed to be home and sleeping over blah blah blah…but still, at a hotel, I would’ve called the front desk immediately. Also…I’m a very easy going person, but it didn’t occur to me until I was about to go to sleep that I had to sleep in someone else’s bed. And then we made a makeshift bed with all the family room furniture because we couldn’t deal. Hahaha!

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When we arrived on Saturday, we went straight to our place to park the car and then headed out for lunch and shopping. We couldn’t check in until 3 PM, so we had some time to adventure! Kristen and I planned for some things, but at other times we just wandered and did whatever we happened to stumble across. Which is why I don’t remember the name of the place we ate for lunch. 😉 But I had a huge buffalo chicken salad and I DO remember where we got dessert…because it was dessert. Duh.

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We found Dylan’s Candy Bar which is three levels of straight sugar. I had created my own trail mix for our road trip that included these goodies:

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But since we were at the candy store, I just HAD to get some sour gummies! I love regular gummy bears, Swedish fish, and watermelon Sour Patch. Of course I threw in chocolate covered all the things (think cookie dough, nuts, etc) for good measure.

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We got on the Subway and realized it was going in the wrong direction…so we hopped off at the next stop and called an Uber to save the day. This would happen many more times throughout the weekend! We kept paying for the Subway more than once, too. There were several times we went into the station only to realize we were on the wrong side of the track. In DC, you can just take the escalator up and back down to the other side. In NYC, you have to go up the steps out to the street, cross the street, and go back down the other side. So since we were technically entering twice, we paid twice. Way too many times. I am not sure if there is some way to remedy this (I’m sure there is), but we never figured it out!

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We had to get ready for our next adventure at SoulCycle SoHo. What better way to spend Halloween night than going to a Spin class that only played Taylor Swift songs?! Yes, you read that right. It was amazing. Our trek to SoulCycle included getting off the Subway at the wrong stop, considering calling an Uber, quickly getting back on the Subway, nervously checking the time every time the train stopped, and forgetting a sports bra. Oh, yes.

We made it to the studio with ten minutes to get ready for class, which was perfect! Until I realized I forgot a sports bra. Luckily, SoulCycle sells wonderful (expensive) merchandise, so I ran out to the desk to buy one. My normal size looked HUGE, so I sized down. And then I put it on and wanted to cry because it didn’t fit. So now people were filing into the studio and I was at the front desk begging the worker to exchange the sports bra he just cut the tag from. I am sure he loved me. 😉 I got on my bike just in time and found a cute little Halloween treat bag on the handlebars! It had those fake red lips that I suppose some wear for Halloween and apparently they were edible…I can’t confirm because I didn’t try them ha! There was also a voucher for a free class, so I either have to convince DC to accept the pass or I have to go back to SoHo to Spin!

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We brought a change of clothes with us to class, so with dirty hair and pretty outfits, we shopped around SoHo and Times Square. We intended to walk to Times Square, but once we started walking the streets and going in all the shops, we realized we were walking the wrong way. Of course we were. 🙂 The streets are always insane in NYC, but they were especially jam packed on Halloween night because EVERYONE was in a taxi or an Uber. We attempted to take a taxi and ended up having him drop us off at the next Subway station because it was taking a hot forever and I did NOT want to pay for that!

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We grabbed the world’s latest dinner at Heartland Chophouse and Brewery in Times Square and were super excited to see this on the wall. 🙂 Duquesne is a beer, but it’s also the name of the university where we graduated from college in Pittsburgh. The school is beautiful, but I’m not a huge fan of the beer. Ha!

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For as many times as I’ve been to Times Square, I’ve never gone into the huge Toys ‘R Us! Kristen was shocked and made me go in. I had NO idea there was a huge ferris wheel in there!

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This car reminds me of my childhood so if I ever waited in line to ride the ferris wheel, I would intentionally place myself in line so I could ride in this car. 🙂

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It was getting late and we had a whirlwind day, so we started to walk to the Subway…and then I realized the roads weren’t as traffic-filled as they had been a few hours before. Taxi to the rescue. #diva

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My favorite picture to look at on Halloween night. 😉

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We were actually able to sleep in a bit because the marathon has a much later start than your typical 7 AM. The wheelchairs start at 8:30 AM, the professional women start at 9:20 AM, and the professional men start at 9:50 AM with other runners in the first wave. We wanted to see the very first runners but we planned to be at the top of Central Park around mile 23 and then head over to the finish, so we had to do a little time calculation of how long it would take those crazy fast people to get to those places. 🙂

In the meantime, we got to cross a major goal of mine off my bucket list: run through Central Park! When I visit NYC, I usually run on the treadmill at my hotel before I go out with my family for the day. I’ve never wanted to take the extra time to get to the park and run by myself…but this time, I was vacationing with someone who loves to run as much as me, so it was perfect!

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We only covered about 4 miles, but we ran such a random path that we saw a lot of parts of the park that I have never seen before!

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We were close enough to 5th Avenue to hear people cheering, so we dashed over to where runners enter Central Park and saw the first racer in the wheelchair division come past! They amaze me. Their arm strength is something else!

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We had a general plan of where we wanted to run while we were in the park because we knew we wanted to get near the end of the marathon, but other than that, we were just taking random turns. Which is how we found gems like these…

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Why yes, I did climb on these rocks mid-run.

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#creepingonKristen #runhappy

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Almost to our end point! And more rock climbing.

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My favorite? The track around the reservoir. And the view is so pretty! Even though I had never been to this part of the park before, I got so excited when we arrived because I recognized it from so many NYC runner’s Instagram pages! Ha!

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At 4 miles, we were on the correct side of the park to see the first finishers AND there was a spot in the race course where people were still allowed to cross the street because the masses hadn’t started coming through yet. We dashed out of the park and to the nearest Starbucks. We had junk (read: candy corn for me and chocolate chips for her) for breakfast so we weren’t really hungry…we just needed coffee. Guess what size coffee I ordered and what size didn’t have red cups yet?!

We found a spot along the fence 800m from the finish and had the best time watching everyone run past. We saw the first female and first male professional runners come through which was SO exciting and then we watched for other elites that we know the names of (And you are probably reading this thinking…wait, she knows the names of famous runners? Yes, I do…)! We watched for about two hours and had so much fun seeing people pass one another so close to the finish, cheering on those who just looked like they were in pain, and shouting out to those in shirts with some kind of logo on it. Think Penn State, November Project, Pitt…anyone we might “know”! Everyone appreciates a little encouragement, even if it’s from a stranger. 🙂 We even saw a guy in a Steel City Road Runners shirt, which is a Pittsburgh running club, so that was awesome! He was running with the 3:05 finishers so basically he is awesome and I will never be on his level. Ha!

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Priorities: leave the race and find food and the Steelers game. The Irish Exit served us well. We ran there, because why walk when you can run? It was PACKED so we stood for the first half of the game and finally scouted two seats at half time. Every single person in there was a Steelers fan, so the atmosphere was amazing. My dad and my brothers usually go to the game, but this day, my mom was at the game with her sister and her cousin. I always hope I’ll see them on the big screen, but so far, no luck. 🙂 This game had a stupid, stupid 4th quarter, but it was so much fun!

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Kristen and I got on the Subway to head back to the car around 4:30 PM. We were riding along…and then never stopping. Like just driving through every station. And now we were in the middle of the tracks, so even if the train stopped, there was no platform to step on to. LUCKY US, we were on an express train to 207th Street. Like, the very last stop on that line. We were DYING!!! We promised each other that no matter where it stopped (if it stopped at all before 207th), we would get off and run or Uber back to my car. It finally stopped at 125th Street and I have never gotten off a train faster! Hahaha

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As seen on our run back to my car!

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We left the city around 6 PM. When we were walking back to my car, we saw some runners in their 23rd mile right before they enter Central Park. It was CRAZY to see them because it was already getting dark outside, but at the same time, there were some runners who didn’t start until almost 11 AM! So it sort of made sense to see them then. I don’t know how I feel about the start time though…I think when I run a marathon, I want it to be over when it is still light outside! But I suppose when I finally work up the strength for a full marathon, I can’t really be picky about how or when I finish, as long as I do!

Because there were some roads that were still closed, leaving the city was a little challenging. I ignored Siri for awhile and then let her direct me. I usually take her directions with a grain of salt because she is usually wrong or making me go the long way, but with all the road closures when we were trying to leave the city, I gave in and started listening to her. The night before when our taxi couldn’t move, I mentioned how no one should ever be allowed to drive in Times Square EVER unless they are a bus, taxi, or Uber. And then good ol’ Siri said open mouth, insert foot, because driving through Times Square is exactly how we left the city. Shockingly, it was very easy! And then we got on the highway and Siri turned a four hour drive into a six hour drive. She’s a gem, I tell ya!

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Central Park, you have my heart.

My Favorite Weekend

Hello there. 🙂

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I love weekends, but I especially love weekends when my family and friends come to spend time in my new town! Originally, my family was planning a trip to DC to see me run the Marine Corps Marathon, but life had other plans, and instead of prepping for the race and running, I simply got to hang out with everyone which was definitely just as wonderful. 🙂 My mom and my brothers arrived in town on Thursday night so they could have a longer day on Friday! I woke up and went to work because I am a great hostess, but they were able to meet up with my aunt and my cousins for brunch and some sightseeing, so they had a good day without me!

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I invited my mom to be a guest reader in my classroom so she could see it now that it is all put together and meet my students! I have been the guest reader and helper in her classroom many times over the years, so it was fun to have her come into my space to do the same thing! Alex and Jake surprised me by coming to say hi, too! They took a quick tour of the school, scared my students because they are both 6’5″, and then went to Target while my mom and I did teacher stuff. 🙂

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I left work and headed straight into DC with them. We checked into our hotel and immediately turned around to go meet our other relatives for dinner at a family style Italian restaurant called Carmine’s. My friends and I tried to eat at this restaurant a few months ago, but as we arrived, so did a tour bus. Guess who got to sit down first that night?! On this night, we had a reservation, and everyone got to enjoy lots and lots and LOTS of Italian food! The waiter will tell you that each dish serves three people, but I would safely say that each dish serves 4 people! We ordered the Carmine’s salad, eggplant parmesan, and shrimp with pasta in garlic and oil to share. My aunt and cousins ordered salad, steak, and chicken marsala. Needless to say, the eight of us had tons of leftovers…none of which we took with us! It was such a nice, cool night out that of course we had to sightsee a bit. Carmine’s is located in the Chinatown neighborhood of DC and my youngest cousin really wanted to go to the Spy Museum, which was nearby. It was closed on Friday night, but we peeked in anyways and made plans to go back later during the weekend! Alex and I moved my mom’s car closer to the National Mall while the rest of our family walked over, so we got to the Washington Monument first. One of my favorite ways to see the monuments is to lay on the ground and look up. 🙂 I know it’s weird, but it’s a fun perspective!

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Once we all caught up to each other, we took a family photo. 🙂 My mom was behind the camera on this one, but she was in attendance! My dad’s sister is the one in the pink jacket. She raised her family in Indianapolis, so that is where her kids and their kids live now. We have visited them many times over the years and it is always fun to get together, no matter what we do!

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On Saturday, we woke up and I made myself a delicious hotel breakfast! Jake and I were determined to get a made-to-order omelette. Alex and my mom were having none of the line, so they just got scrambled eggs instead. An omelette always wins in my book! Of course, I had a pancake on the side because I love something sweet with every meal. 🙂

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It was kind of chilly on Saturday but it wasn’t raining, so we decided to do one of my favorite things EVER! We rented bikes and rode around the city. My family and I love to ride bikes when we are at home or on vacation. It’s just a fun way to move around, plus it’s easier and faster than walking. 😉 We went to Big Wheel Bikes in Georgetown and were given four of the most random bikes ever! My mom had a cruiser, I had a road bike, and Alex and Jake had cross bikes…whatever that means!

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I took them along the river in Georgetown until we hit the National Mall. Then, we crossed the 14th Street Bridge to get to the Mt. Vernon Trail. I was determined to get us to Gravelly Point Park, which is the closest you can get to Reagan National Airport. I LOVE watching the planes land and take off. It is the coolest spot ever!

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We rode all the way back to Georgetown on the Mt. Vernon Trail, which is my one of my favorite places to run. It was perfect to bike on because it is made for runners and bikers! On the other side of the river, we kept running into the road and needing to cross at somewhat inconvenient times. It was nice to ride with no interruptions from other cars! We rode mostly a flat circle, except for the final climb to the Key Bridge…then we really had to use our legs to pedal up the hill. 😉 That was at the end of the ride, so no one could get too mad at me. Ha!

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I made them take this picture because the cobblestone street in Georgetown was just too picturesque. Can you tell they loved this?

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We headed to Pentagon City after our bike ride to get lunch and do a little shopping. I have had my eye on a $130 pair of fringe booties from Nordstrom, but while I was at Nordstrom Rack, I found these beauties…for the low, low price of $138! I was very sad. Rack is supposed to help me out, not make me feel worse! Ha! Lucky for me, I found a $39 blardigan. If you read Sheaffer’s blog, then you know what a great find this was! 🙂 I may have put it on my body as soon as I left the store and kept it on for the next 24 hours. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t…

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I’m wearing it here! Seeeee the beauty of the $39 blardigan!

Our hotel had a free happy hour for guests, so I went to have wine and snacks with my mom and this guy decided to tag along…he’s 21 and big stuff now. 😉 Cheers to happy hour!

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Once again, we met up with our family for dinner. We ate at Old Glory in Georgetown, which seemed to be known for it’s barbecue style food! I ordered a chicken wedge salad, so don’t ask me how the barbecue was, because I have no idea. The cornbread muffins and corn butter were delicious, though!

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We walked M Street after dinner and I finally stopped in Dean & Deluca. There were so many different kinds of food available in that store! Different varieties of candy, baking supplies, hot foods, cold foods…they seemed to have it all. I had to try their coffee. It did not disappoint!

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We bought the most typical thing you could buy in that store: two huge cookies! For all the variety we saw, it came down to the classics when we had to make a choice. Chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin? What is your favorite? I LOVE oatmeal raisin. 🙂

Other highlights from the weekend include:

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–> Alex stuffing his bed full of pillows to scare the maid when she came to clean our room!

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–> Jake trying to make me help him with 11th grade Pre-Calc/Trig. I think he forgot that I was recently hired to teach second grade…

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–> A present from my Dad. He makes fun of my selfies, so now I make them even weirder than they need to be! He sent me pumpkin butter. What a nice guy. 🙂 It is delicious and so sweet!

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–> This fountain. It kind of looks like a black staircase in this picture! I slept on the fold out couch this weekend because I am a good person (ha!) and I could hear the water falling from our room. So soothing!

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–> And a really good workout on Sunday morning. I have not been doing anything too serious in the workout department recently. Whatever I feel like, I do. I wanted to run on Sunday, but the two treadmills that worked were taken so I hopped on the elliptical for 20 minutes and then lifted for another 20 minutes. It ended up being a really hard workout and I was happy about it!

How have you been lately?!

On Being Humbled

I think there is a stereotype in our world that if you are not working out every day (or most days), then you aren’t really working out. You aren’t really making your health a priority. You aren’t really a “real” person who works out. I know it sounds silly, but don’t you think there is a bit of truth to it? We tend to look to the people who do more than us for inspiration and motivation, and for good reason. Those who are wiser are the ones who CAN inspire and motivate us. But don’t you think that what you are doing is enough? Can’t you inspire and motivate yourself? I would like that for you. And for me, too. 😉

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I woke up on Saturday determined to go for a longer run. I am not training for anything right now, but I really felt like hitting one of my favorite trails (Mt. Vernon Trail) and spending the morning outside. I like the feeling of accomplishment that a long run on a Saturday brings! Now, this was not going to be any kind of record setting long run. Last week, I was knocked down with one of the worst sinus infections of my life (I’m not exaggerating) and I had a fever. So to say my workouts went well last week…well, that’s just not true. My workouts were nonexistent and then they were low impact. There was no way that I could workout in the condition I was in and then when I finally felt better, I didn’t want to do anything crazy for fear of taking my weak self right back to the land of the sick and pathetic. When our bodies are sick, they need to rest. They need to rest before we even get so sick that we are unable to do anything. I think part of my sickness stemmed from the fact that two weeks ago when I noticed I was getting sick, I just kept pushing through. I went to work every day, I tried to drink a lot of water but didn’t pay extra special attention to my hydration, I worked out HARD every night…I was just careless. And my body said no thank you.

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Still nice and green in DC! Fall, where are you?!

On Wednesday, I ran a mile and did some strength training. On Thursday, I tried a new class called “Metabolic Resistance Training”. And on Friday, I went to Elevate, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite fitness studios. It’s a high intensity treadmill, rowing, and strength training class. I like it because it’s very challenging and it incorporates so many different kinds of exercise! With those three workouts under my belt, I was feeling confident to go into a longer run on Saturday morning even though I haven’t been running long recently. I have still been doing challenging workouts often, so I don’t think I have lost too much fitness. And besides, I had no time goals. I just knew that I wanted to make it to my destination: The Jefferson Memorial. Then I would stroll around the National Mall and take the metro home. My favorite part about living in DC is being able to workout with such beautiful scenery and monuments in the background!

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This is when the Mall first comes into view from the Mt. Vernon Trail. I was still feeling good at this point…but around 4 miles, I started to seriously struggle. I could feel every muscle that I worked in my other workouts last week and I could feel every muscle that was still in relaxation mode from the days I didn’t work out while I was sick. So what do you do when you are in the middle of a trail and your start and end point are equidistant away? Well, you take some pictures, you give yourself a pep talk, you text your mom and your best friend, and you let yourself walk.

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Say what?! Maybe this is not a big deal to you, but when I go for a run, I typically like to…oh, I don’t know…actually run? It’s kind of a hypocritical statement because I tell friends who are just starting their running journey that it is perfectly acceptable and fine to walk. In fact, when I AM training for something, I do walk on occasion. And when I am racing, I walk through every water station. So I know that it is perfectly fine and acceptable to walk while you are out for a run…but I had about 3 miles to go until I got anywhere near the metro. And if you had asked me in that exact moment, I would have told you that I wanted to walk the entire rest of the way, which seemed a little unacceptable to me. Surely, I could not WALK three miles while I was out for a run.

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Well, guess what? I already told you I’m not training for anything. And it was a great 4 miles before I started to mentally and physically lose it during this run. So I really just had to convince my brain that it was “okay” for me to run and walk and run and walk the rest of the way. I was not going to actually run 7 miles. I was going to run 4 miles, and then I was going to do a combination of running and walking to the finish. That was such a hard pill to swallow! It’s a humbling feeling to realize that you are not ready for what you are trying to make yourself do. But that is the story of running. You will always feel humbled, even on your best days. There is a lesson in every run…and I truly mean that! You realize so many things about yourself as an athlete and as a person when you run. And if you’re not a runner, maybe there is something in your life that makes you feel like that. But all I had pictured was the happy feeling of running and being out on my favorite trail and celebrating not being sick anymore. I did not anticipate the feeling of “I can’t do it” halfway through the run!

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And then I finally started to spot some fall foliage!

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Here’s the thing about the above quote. My legs actually WERE giving out. There comes a point in every workout, or really anything that you are doing in life, when you have to stop and consciously realize that you know what is best for you. So you need to listen to yourself, and in this case, your body. In order to make it through some really challenging workouts, sometimes I have to modify. When I am lifting, that means I use lighter weights OR I use heavy weights and do fewer reps. But when I am running, maybe that means doing a combination of running and walking to get to my destination. Did I still get there? Yes. Was it still challenging? Yes. If I had forced myself to continue running, not only would I have been miserable, but I probably would’ve gotten hurt because my body wasn’t ready for that distance. In reality, I had no business trying to run that far. But what’s so bad about covering the long distance in whatever way I can, whether it’s running, walking, or crawling? Nothing! Nothing at all. Anything that I give…anything that you give in a workout…is our very best. So we should continue to listen to our bodies and do just that. Give our best.

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Oh, and since I know you are dying to know, I finally make it to my end point. 🙂

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And I took a little break to ENJOY being outside. Because that was the point of going for my run in the first place, remember? I also had to try “holding” Jefferson up. How did I do?! And just so you know, white marble is FREEZING to lay on (yes, I was laying) when it is 50 degrees outside. I think I am in for a big surprise this winter. I’m still not over last winter, so I’m unprepared for this change of seasons. 😉

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And of course, I had to photograph the weird shadows and gray clouds surrounding the Washington Monument. It was a beautiful day for a 7 mile run/walk. 🙂

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Do you push through workouts or do you cut yourself some slack?

Is it really “fall” where you live yet?!

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! Today is a teacher work day and then we are all off on Monday for Columbus Day. Nothing like a long weekend to get you excited about life! 🙂

– ONE –

I’ve had a lot of good luck with yummy food this week.

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First, I found this autumn harvest pasta sauce at Trader Joe’s. I also picked up an autumn harvest jar of salsa. They are both SO good! Butternut squash, pumpkin, tomatoes…you just can’t go wrong.

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My roommate returned from a family trip to Italy and brought me real Italian biscotti! My mom and I have a delicious biscotti recipe that we make all the time. While our recipe is definitely different than the real thing, I love both!

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I wanted pizza, but I didn’t want pizza. Ya know, eating healthy and all of that. So I made an omelette and then instead of folding it in half, as you do with omelettes, I put pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and chicken on top. BAM. Pizza. Could I pick it up with my hands? Well, actually, I don’t know. I didn’t try. I used a fork, and you probably should, too. But you should definitely make it. 🙂

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One of my coworkers had a birthday. She gave her Grandma’s secret cheesecake recipe to her best friend at work when he asked what she wanted for her birthday. She picked dessert, so obviously she’s a friend of mine. 😉 He obeyed her birthday wishes and made her cheesecake. I love both of them.

– TWO – 

Shout out to Timehop for being on point yesterday. Do you have the Timehop app on your phone? I love it! You can sync it with all of your social media platforms and it reminds you what you were doing years ago on that day. 🙂

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This was my very favorite thing to see. One year ago yesterday, I went to my church’s running group for the first time. That was a hectic day because I was stuck in traffic and I parked almost a mile away from our starting point because I just wanted to PARK and start running. I knew I could run faster than the traffic was moving haha! In the last year, I have made so many great friendships with people at my church and explored so many different places in DC all thanks to running group. So thankful for those people!

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Two years ago yesterday, I posted this picture of candy corn and claimed it was the only thing that was making me happy that day…

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…not much has changed. This is a picture from Wednesday when I stopped at the bank after work! My bank closes at 5 PM like most normal banks, but it’s a struggle for me to get there before they close, so I often go to the bank branch in the grocery store…which is dangerous because candy corn is nearby. But HELLO, I have never tried caramel candy corn, so the purchase was totally necessary. #mywaistlinesaysnothankyou

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And Timehop didn’t show this song, but this song started playing while I was reading through my Timehop feed, and it made me flashback to sophomore year of college when I listened to this song all.the.time. I especially liked listening to it as I drove out of the Squirrel Hill Tunnel into downtown Pittsburgh. Like I would specifically start playing the song at that point of my drive to Duquesne. Why? And why do I remember?! Ha! Also, if you decide to go listen to this song, let me just say I like stupid rap music. 🙂 #dontjudgeme

– THREE –

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Take a minute. Watch the sun come up or go down. You won’t be disappointed.

– FOUR –

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Taking race pictures BEFORE the race is my new favorite thing to do. We aren’t sweaty, but we do look kind of tired. 😉 This is the official race picture from the 10k race I ran a few weekends ago!

– FIVE –

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I finally got to wear my new scarf! I love to see others wearing outfits that have mixed patterns, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it, so I wore a regular ol’ red shirt. 😉 But we have to take a moment of silence for my new jeans. These are Wit and Wisdom from Nordstrom and I LOVE THEM. Most of my jeans are from American Eagle and Gap and they sit in the WORST place on my hips ever, giving me an unwelcome muffin top. Ain’t nobody got time for jeans that make you feel bad about yourself! And yet, I have continued to wear those jeans for years. First grown up paycheck, first trip to the mall to buy new jeans in probably three years. If you haven’t purchased a new pair of jeans in the last year, I urge you to GO RIGHT NOW. They will change your life. #seriously

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We all know I could live in workout clothes, and on Workout Wednesday this week, all of my coworkers and students mentioned that they loved my “fall” colors. This was not a thought I had when I was getting dressed. I only chose the flower print pants because I thought the zebra print pants would be taking it too far. Next week. Ha!

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And this is just funny!

Happy weekend to you!

***

Bloggers, looking for a link-up? Click over to any one of these amazing blogs to join us for Friday Favorites!

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Friday Favorites

October Goals

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I recognize that today is, in fact, October 8…so not nearly the start of the month, but still a time I would consider the beginning. 🙂 There are so many things that I have been thinking about getting better at lately, and what better way to hold myself accountable than to share those goals with you?!

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Go to sleep between 10 and 10:30 PM every night.

I know for some of you that may seem early, but there is absolutely no reason for me to be up any later. Often, I am online or using my phone and I am not doing anything of importance. Unless I am getting something done for work or school or I’m lost in a book…lights off!

Dedicate a few hours each weekend to blog.

My posting schedule is pretty consistent. I like something to go live in the 6 o’clock hour each day. However, I have found myself writing posts until almost midnight some nights because I relax and workout when I get home from work and then by the time I sit down with my computer and really think about what I am going to write, the time just gets away from me. Also, there are so many original posts that I want to share, but when I find myself short on time, I write a post and join a link-up instead. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE link-ups! That is how I have “met” so many people in blogland! But I am hoping with a set time to write posts each week, I can then be more intentional about what I write.

Complete assignments for grad school ahead of time.

Looking at my syllabus, we are given SO much notice on assignments and we are given plenty of time to work on them. In fact, in a few weeks, we don’t even have class one night so that we can dedicate those few hours to working on a paper we are writing. I need to be on top of the projects so they don’t all hit me in the face at the end of the semester! On the same note, I would like to print the articles I need to read several days before I need them. There is nothing like printing articles a few hours before class to make you feel frazzled!

Figure out food.

I know that this goal probably means nothing to you at first glance, but hear me out. I eat a relatively healthy diet, but I have found myself craving sugar and eating snacks at night when I’m not hungry way too often lately. I have also tried a variety of different eating methods: intermittent fasting, eating several small meals all day long, eating every 2 hours within a certain window of time, eating whenever I want, etc. This summer, I started intermittent fasting and it worked great for me. Chalene Johnson has a great podcast all about the topic that you can listen to here. I won’t go into all the details, but basically you fast for a certain number of hours each day and eat for a certain number of hours each day. We all fast every day anyways, because we all go to sleep for some number of hours each night. With intermittent fasting, you just add hours to either end of your sleep window as part of your fast. In a fasted state, your body burns fat. Once you start eating, your insulin levels go up, which makes burning fat harder. Science aside (and also, I don’t know everything), intermittent fasting works if you have time to make it work, in my opinion. I could try to adjust my window, but right now it is just not working for me. I am not getting enough nutrients because by the time I get home from work, I am starving and I eat half my kitchen. So this month, I want to readjust my eating patterns. It feels hard to give up intermittent fasting, and because it feels hard to do that, it’s another reason I want to do it. I struggled with “not eating” before and I don’t want to go back to disordered thinking about food.

Read three books.

I love reading blogs way too much. I need to read more books this month. 🙂

Write things down.

All the things. Assignments. Appointments. GRADES. I swear to God, my brain is on information overload. Even when I get some kind of information in an email, I need to write it down. Seeing it on the computer is not the same as remembering it and writing it down. I need to write things down and refer to them when necessary! And because I am writing things down…I need to look at them more than 5 minutes before I need to do/remember said thing. I have been a spinning top this past month and I need a little routine in my life!

Choose one day a week to get up earlier.

Yesterday, my roommate dropped her keys when she was leaving for work and the clanging of the keys woke me up. When I looked at my phone (my clock is across the room and I can’t see without my glasses), I say that it was 7:03. Oy! Apparently I forgot to set my alarm. In any case, I have woken up early as opposed to sleeping in several times this school year. I don’t rush to get ready when I wake up at my “normal” time, but the extra time to lounge when I get up early is wonderful! I will be able to do more of that since I’m going to bed earlier. 😉 And hopefully one day turns into most days!

Drink more tea.

All of the tea in my kitchen is Celestial Seasonings and caffeine free. I went on a tea kick last fall where I bought a different flavor nearly every time I was at Target, and I still have so much left! I just prefer coffee in the mornings. Lucky for me, I DID buy caffeine free, so that means I can drink it in the afternoon and evening without feeling bad. And it will be good for my throat (still sick over here). And I love warm beverages!

Make this recipe.

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Bolded and italicized because OMG this screenshot has been on my desktop for months. Nikki at My Life In Macros posted a picture of these “Zoats” on her Instagram and I thought the recipe sounded so good! They are called Zoats because it is oatmeal with zucchini in it. It’s like when you hear that you should put spinach in your smoothie because you can’t taste it…same idea. Get your veggies in your oatmeal without even tasting them. I WILL make this recipe in October!

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That’s it! Here’s to October!

***

Linking up with Amanda for Thinking Out Loud Thursday!

Scarves & Books: These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Hello, friends!

In case you were wondering, I say the word “friends” approximately 157 times per day. At least. At my school, I have noticed that a lot of teachers say “friends” when they are referring to their entire class, and I have also noticed that I have started doing the same thing. So for example, instead of saying, “Hey guys, stop that”, I might say, “Oh no. My friends are walking in the hall quietly. They are NOT talking.” And then suddenly, everyone pops to attention. 🙂

Anyways.

Today’s post is brought to you in part by two duos: Rachel & Astleigh and Katie & Molly!

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Floral and Fudge & Hill Collection

A few weeks ago, Rachel and Astleigh announced that they were going to host a scarf swap. I love reading both Rachel and Astleigh’s blogs because they truly appreciate the little things in life and both seem so joyful. They are a little bit older than me, so in reading their blogs, I find myself looking up to them a little bit. So of course, when they mentioned their idea, I loved it! Those who were interested in this white elephant exchange sent in their name and address and received a name and address in return. This exchange had my name written all over it because I love to shop and I love to send and receive mail! I think mail, especially fun mail, makes the day so much more exciting. I was happy to make someone else’s day with a scarf! My email said that I would be sending a scarf to Becky over at Little Loud Life. I purchased a violet colored, lightweight scarf that is perfect for fall, yet can be worn all year long for my new friend!

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This is Becky wearing her new scarf! Not only did I get to send her some fun mail, but I also got to know another fellow Pennsylvania blogger. She writes about every day life with her family and I can already tell that she is someone I would love to know in real life. She seems so down to earth and her two kiddos seem so sweet!

Early last week, I opened my mailbox to find a package from Blake over at Forever Callahan. If you recall, I was so excited that I threw my new scarf on over my workout clothes…and I had just finished working out! Ha!

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The scarf that Blake sent me is totally something that I would pick out myself, yet I have never seen anything like it before. It has a pretty purple, pink, and gold paisley pattern and is lined with purple tassels. It’s also an infinity scarf, which is my favorite kind of scarf to wear because it styles itself! I often find myself tying “regular scarves” together on opposite ends so that I can make them infinity scarves. It’s just my favorite way to wear them!

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In 2.1 seconds you will understand why I’m not a fashion blogger. Or any kind of legitimate blogger, for that matter. I am already jealous of the pretty pictures that Astleigh posted of her and her scarf earlier today! However, I have yet to wear my new scarf and so I have attempted to style it a few different ways that I think I may wear it in the future. 🙂

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Let’s look at the worst picture first so we can move on. 😉 This maroon shirt from Old Navy is loose and falls slightly off the shoulder, so though I mostly wear it in fall and winter, I always find myself wearing a scarf with it so that I can cover up! It’s lucky that the color matches perfectly since this is a “scarf” shirt for me.
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Next, just a regular V-neck t-shirt that is in the purple family, but isn’t too matchy matchy with the scarf. Jeans and brown boots and I’m good to go!

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And finally, I keep seeing and reading that white jeans or pants are appropriate in the fall. Well, how about this chambray shirt, this scarf, white pants, and brown boots? I think I would look like a Pinterest model. #justkidding

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Better Off Benedict & Colors Of Life Blog

Last month, I told you I was reading a lot of books about teaching since this is my first year. Since then, I have tried to make some more time for reading for fun…and especially reading for fun off screen. When I say that, I mean not on the computer or my iPad. I don’t spend a ton of time looking at a computer at work, but I feel like I have a lot of screen time in my free time, so I am trying to split that time up between the computer and books!

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I got this book at the local library’s huge sale a few weeks ago. It’s written by Ann Brashares, who, if you remember, is the author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. This story follows the girls several years later when they are all grown up! Right at the beginning, the story takes an unexpected turn, and I wasn’t really happy about it! Even so, I am interested to see how it plays out. I loved these stories when they first came out and I love that the author wrote a book about the girls as adults!
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I’m also reading this nonfiction read that I ordered from Amazon. I don’t remember where I had heard someone mention this book…but I do remember wanting it right away and then just never ordering it. The title speaks to me because I still struggle with food and exercise sometimes, worrying that I am not eating my best or doing enough at the gym, even though I am not as obsessed as I once was. I don’t know that I expected it to be a story, but I did expect chapters of some sort.

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Strangely enough, it can be a quick read if you want it to be. Each “chapter” is about 2-3 pages and they are not specifically about eating or working out. As you see above, this chapter is about making the choices that will allow you to live your happiest and healthiest life. There are also little sections about surrounding yourself with the right people and not wanting what other people have. Even though it is not what I expected, I am liking it so far!

Alright, I think we are all caught up. I wish this post had gone live at 9 o’clock this morning instead of 9 o’clock this evening, but one month into school, I finally caught my first sickness! My throat felt strange all day on Sunday and by Sunday night, I was talking like a frog. I felt fine on Monday, I just had no voice, which made for an interesting day of teaching. 😉 Tuesday I woke up all congested…so last night, I went right to sleep as soon as I could! I’m feeling better today but definitely still sound froggy. I can’t whisper, because no sound comes out, and I can’t yell, because my voice cracks like a teenage boy. So it’s one volume for me. My students love it. Happy Wednesday!

Company!

Friday morning positive: leggings + long sweater with my staff tshirt.
Friday morning negative: waking up and driving when it was still dark out.
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Hurricane Joaquin and another big rainstorm were affecting DC at the same time…so last week was one big long rain storm. That and the fact that I left 30 minutes earlier for work than usual meant it was so dark and early that I got to see the streetlights turned on on the highway…and then they switched off and it officially became day time. Hahaha

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Friday evening looked a lot like cleaning my apartment from top to bottom, folding three loads of laundry, and cooking dinner/watching a movie with Sarah. I kept getting up to organize other parts of my house that I felt were messy, so I couldn’t be too mad at her for ignoring me in favor of her phone. 😉 We ate grilled cheese and tomato soup and watched “Identity Thief”. All the while, my mom and my aunt were on their way from Pittsburgh to DC! I was reading a blog last week and someone mentioned that they were so excited to see their parents soon because they haven’t seen them in like 10 weeks or something. When I read that, I thought that was so crazy, but I hadn’t seen my family in 7 weeks, so I guess I was due for family time, too! I love hosting friends and family at my apartment, so their company was very welcome this weekend!

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Aunt Laine, Mom, & me

We woke up Saturday morning and I worked out while my mom and my aunt got ready for the day. We were preparing for a day of shopping! Our plans for the weekend included being lazy and getting our nails done…so on Saturday morning, we got up and tried to make some plans! My mom was most excited about going to the Lakeshore Learning Store in Alexandria. Many teachers order classroom supplies from a Lakeshore catalog, so to go to the real store is exciting! Plus, all of the teacher stores in Pittsburgh have closed for some reason! I am trying to teach my mom the magic of ordering things on Amazon, but still…when Lakeshore is 14 miles away, you must go!

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A kid in a candy store. She even bought some supplies for some of her coworkers at home! Isn’t she the best teacher friend?! 🙂

Next, we headed to Tyson’s Corner Center. It’s my favorite mall because it’s HUGE! It has the perfect mix of high end and affordable stores. The first stop was lunch at a restaurant called Coastal Flats. My friend recommended it and it did not disappoint!

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Our meal started with these warm bread rolls. Doesn’t it remind you of a donut?! I promise it was the most delicious bread!

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Next, we tried the crap dip appetizer. It was topped with bagel crumbs (which sounds so weird to say) and served with those large, thin chips! The chips were not as thick as pita chips, but they weren’t salty like tortilla chips either, so I couldn’t quite place what they were. I am not a big seafood person and I always use my mom’s description of “that tastes too fishy” when I describe why I don’t like seafood. Certain dishes are growing on me, and crab is typically one that I like. This dip definitely tasted a little “fishier” than normal and my aunt announced as we took our last bite that there were little capers (fish eggs) in the dip. Fabulous.

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I forgot all about the fact that I consumed capers once my chicken salad was delivered! I ordered the Coastal Roast Chicken Salad, which was made with mixed greens, avocado, grape tomatoes, sesame almonds, and champagne vinaigrette. My aunt ordered salmon (I think?!) and my mom ordered tuna tacos…little did she know, when the menu read “Tuna Tacos”, it literally meant raw tuna. After my aunt so nicely pointed out that those “little red pieces” were raw fish and not tomatoes as my mom assumed, the waitress quickly took the dish back and brought back something better! Ha!

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Of course we stopped at Lolli and Pops after lunch to satisfy our sweet teeth! My mom and I are obsessed with chocolate covered anything and we can’t pass a candy store without making our own mixed bag of treats. This time, we got chocolate covered peanuts, cashews (so good!), raisins, pretzels, and pecans. I also insisted that we try chocolate covered swedish fish. 🙂 So wrong, but so right!

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We found some strange candy and treats in Lolli and Pops. Think REAL bugs in the middle of a lollipop and champagne vinagarette macarons! The strangest sighting may have been the bacon soda, Buffalo wing soda, and PB&J soda. Are you grossed out yet?! As weird as those flavors are, it’s like they knew me, Alex, and Jake perfectly! We bought the bacon soda for Jake and the buffalo wing soda for Alex. I refrained from purchasing the PB&J soda, although the cashier really wanted us to go back and get it to take advantage of the sale! I’ll report back with my brothers’ taste tests. 🙂

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With full bellies and sweet tooth cravings gone, we headed upstairs to get our nails done! They promised to have our manicures and pedicures done in one hour. Ha. Ha. Hahaha! When has that ever happened in the history of ever?! My nail technician wasn’t the most talkative…until she started my manicure. Then she wouldn’t stop telling me stories! She must have reminded me 473 times to “relax” my hand. I thought it was relaxed! I don’t even know what that means. After asking about my relationship status, she started telling me this old wives’ tale about girls with strong hands and never finding love. So apparently I’m going to be single forever. #K

At least me and my “Plum Passion” nails will be happy together! The color is a deep purple that’s perfect for this season!

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Just your average Apple store sighting at the mall. Why is the line always so crazy!?

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When we left the mall, we quickly switched gears and became tourists at the Washington National Cathedral. 🙂 In my hometown, our elementary schools take field trips to Washington, DC in 6th grade. My mom was a teacher/chaperone on the trip for me and both of my brothers and so she remembered much more about the Cathedral than I did! We planned on just taking in the sights inside and visiting the gift shop.

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As we parked and walked up to the Cathedral, we were parking and walking with many other visitors. However, all of these visitors were dressed to the nines, while we were just in our regular street clothes from the mall. The Cathedral’s website noted when their church services were, and we had missed all the services on Saturday, so we couldn’t figure out what all of these people were dressed up for!

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Apparently, there was a musical about the Ten Commandments on this night. There were two women in the restroom telling us all about the performance and how special it was going to be and that we just HAD to stay! This they say as they stand there in their pretty clothes and we are in our jeans haha! The nice worker person that we were talking to at the ticket table said that there were free tickets and so yes, in fact, we should stay!

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All the sections were labeled by color and we were in the white section. Do you see that flat screen TV on the one pillar? There were flat screens about every five or six pillars because the stage was up front and in the center, while we were off to the side. We tried to sit far away from others because we felt kind of out of place and we weren’t sure if we wanted to stay!

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We made our way up front to the stage area to just explore and take pictures before the performance began. Around 5:55, the ushers told everyone in our section that we could move into the middle because there were open seats. We were so excited! Five minutes before showtime and our seats just got better! Music started playing, a slideshow began, and everyone got quiet. And then we waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. By 6:25, we were all digging in the bottom of our bags looking for snacks (because we didn’t eat dinner! This show wasn’t part of the plan!) and wondering when this show was going to start. It seemed weird that the lights and music dimmed and changed at 6 PM when the musical didn’t start just then. Finally, at 6:30, the first performer began singing. We watched the first three or four acts and then made our way quietly out the back door. While the singers were SO talented, they were kind of hard to understand because their voices were echoing in that venue! Also, we weren’t dressed for the occasion or planning on such an occasion, so dinner was calling our names. Don’t judge! 😉

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Faccia Luna awaited us in Arlington! I had Tuscan bean soup and my mom and aunt both ordered wedding soup.

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Then, we shared a delicious chicken and roasted red pepper pizza and some gnocchi! The pizza was definitely the best dish at the table. 🙂 A stop at Target rounded out the evening before we changed into our PJs, baked an apple recipe courtesy of Pinterest, and watched a movie!

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Sunday started with getting lost on the way to church. Hey, I’m still new around here, okay?! I was really excited to take my mom and my aunt to my church. They have been there before, but I love my church and they heard someone different speak the last time they were in town, so I was happy to take them back! When my mom helped me move earlier this summer, we ate at Ted’s Bulletin in the suburbs and she loved it! There is a Ted’s right down the street from my church in Capitol Hill and thank the Lord for call aheads because when we went in, the hostess told the family in front of us that the wait was nearly 90 minutes! It’s a popular breakfast spot, known best for its Tarts, as seen above! I tried the cinnamon and brown sugar one and it was delicious!

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We were able to see a little bit of the baking process when we were on our way out after breakfast and I was fascinated! And also a little upset that my Tart didn’t seem to have nearly as much icing as those ones. 😉

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So…the National Cathedral? Well, the gift shop was closed on Saturday, so we had to make a trip back on Sunday! I did a little more exploring while we were there and noticed these state emblems in the tile. PA to show where I’m from and DC to show where I am now! I looked for Virginia since that is *technically* my street address, but it was hidden under the carpet by the doorway. Hahaha

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How cute are the stuffed animals on Noah’s Ark!? My mom and aunt bought prayer rocks and books and I got two crossword puzzle books. Now, our visit was truly complete because we had souvenirs to show for it! Ha:) We did a quick drive past the sights of the National Mall, Iwo Jima, and Arlington Cemetery, and then it was time for them to pack up and head back to Pittsburgh! I had the best time hanging out with my mom and my aunt even though it felt like the time just flew by. When I lived in Pittsburgh, girls’ weekends were a regular occurrence, so I loved getting to have them both here with me in DC! ❤

I spent my afternoon perusing the mall near my house (because I only bought lipstick at the mall yesterday) and then I hit up the grocery store. Of course, I was out and about shopping looking my very best (not!) and I ran into one of my coworkers at Nordstrom. We ended up shopping together for a bit, trying on jeans and sweaters and such, which was so fun! Still, I was definitely wishing I had made myself look a little more presentable in public haha!

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When this girl got back to town, we went to Georgetown to shop some more. I’m pretty sure she thought we were sending a Snapchat, hence her face. 🙂 #shhdonttell Our shopping = a total fail…all we got was a pair of workout leggings each. In other news, they were on sale and we will definitely wear them! We were just more in search of some cute fall clothes. Oh, well. Sometimes the shopping gods just aren’t on your side. That was definitely the case for me this weekend!

How was your weekend?!