What’s Up?! [September]

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What I’m eating this week:

My grocery list looks strikingly similar each week. Think eggs, egg whites, vegetables, cheese, fruit, turkey or chicken, sweet potatoes, Quest bars, and some other random snacks like nuts or crackers or pretzels. I have been having SUCH a hard time breaking the evening snack habit, so I am trying to change up my meals this week in an effort to feel more full come evening. White chocolate chips and Pretzel Thins was an actual snack I fed myself this week. #embarrassing

Enter: homemade chicken and vegetable soup!

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I bought Tyson’s diced chicken, Archer Farms diced sweet potatoes, three bags of frozen vegetables that included peas, carrots, corn, and green beans, and then I cut up some celery and onion. I added all of that to some chicken broth, sprinkled some pepper and other seasonings in the mix, and just let it simmer all afternoon on Sunday. I have been so looking forward to it for lunch every day this week! Of course, on Monday, the container didn’t fit in my lunchbox, so I set it right next to it on the counter. Guess what I forgot to pick up before I left? 😉

What I’m reminiscing about:

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Having time to go home for Steelers game last fall! I was in grad school full time last year and I could mostly make my own hours for my job PLUS my class on Monday wasn’t until 4:15 PM. Because of that, I had lots of time to get back to Pittsburgh for the weekend. It was nice to go to a Sunday game and not have to rush out of town! My Dad keeps asking me what game I want to go to this season and I just don’t know! The weekend of Columbus Day is a long weekend for me, but of course the Steelers aren’t home that week. Sigh. We can also reminisce about Alex’s long hair while we’re here. His hair is nice and short now. 🙂

What I’m loving: 

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This candle even though it’s not a fall scent. I have a bunch of fall scents burning in the living room, but there are other rooms in the apartment that could use a candle, am I right? I bought this on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City this summer and I have just never burned it! It has been sitting on my desk and I could smell it without ever having lit it, so I knew once I actually started burning it that it would smell AMAZING!

What I’ve been up to:

Teaching. Working out. Eating. Blogging. Sleeping.

What I’m dreading:

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September 2014 – Out for a morning run

Not seeing my precious Colby until Thanksgiving. I either have to go home for the weekend or my mom has to bring him here. Hm…

What I’m working on:

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You’ve seen this picture before, but the pictures I take during the day can’t be shared because there are students in them. I love taking pictures of them doing the right thing…whether that is focusing on the book they are reading, working on writing, or working really well with a partner. I post these pictures in our classroom and share them with parents. However, something that I am working on is being more organized. Every day starts out with some semblance of organization and then by the time me and 23 little people get through our day, the classroom is a train wreck. I was having a conversation with my students the other day about some behaviors that I would like them to work on getting better at…such as listening the first time I give a direction. 😉 But to take all of the attention off of them, I asked them what I could do to make the classroom better for them. They gave lots of suggestions that were mostly related to their own behavior, which I was happy about, but one girl said that the classroom is messier than her bedroom. The extra pieces of paper and random things that get tossed on my desk must bother her. Hahaha!

What I’m excited about:

I signed up for a Fall Scarf Exchange through Rachel and Astleigh’s blogs, so I am really excited to get my package in the mail!

What I’m watching/reading:

I’ve been watching The Voice because many people have told me I should. I also started watching Blood and Oil when it premiered on ABC this past weekend and of course, Scandal is back on TV now! I love fall TV! I’m a Grey’s Anatomy fan, but I’m a season behind, so I’m still watching on Netflix. And yes, I know the shocking scene that happened last season that I haven’t yet watched. Good ol’ social media ruined that one for me. 😉

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And I just finished reading The Chase! My aunt sent me this book a few weeks ago and I read it in two days. It’s brand new and all about making the right choices in dating as a Christian. I felt like it was more directed at teenagers in high school, but I still liked it! It was a really quick but interesting read.

What I’m listening to:

#obsessed #JeepCommercial

What I’m wearing:

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Yesterday was school picture day. It’s always such a process to decide what to wear, and then you can really only see your shoulders in the picture anyway. Ha! I wore this red swing dress from Old Navy. It’s on sale for $15 and looks way better on the model in case you were curious. 🙂 I love the sleeves and the fact that it is so flowy, but still gives you some shape and makes you look put together!

What I’m doing this weekend:

My mom and my aunt are coming to visit! We definitely want to get our nails done. I have no idea what else is on the agenda. 🙂

What I’m looking forward to next month:   

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November 2014

My mom and my brothers are still coming to visit the weekend of the Marine Corps Marathon as they originally planned because our relatives from Indianapolis are coming to DC! My Dad’s sister lives in Indianapolis and her kids are the same age as my parents. So my cousins are like my aunt and uncle and their child is like my cousin. Family dynamics are so strange haha! In any case, my cousin Nick is in middle school and he has never been to DC, so during his Fall Break, they are making the trip here! Originally, everyone was excited to be in town the same weekend as my race, but now we can all focus on family time and just seeing all the sights in town. I’m mostly serious, but also trying to look on the bright side here. #injuriessuck

What else is new:

I am home alone this week because my roommate is in Italy (lucky duck) and as I write this post, it is raining. Or it was raining. I can’t be sure because I refuse to get out of my bed. Either way, there is some dripping noise from a gutter or something and a strong gust of wind every so often that makes it sound like someone is coming in off the balcony. GOOD TIMES, FRIENDS. GOOD TIMES. #terrified #alreadychecked #everythingislocked #nooneisthere

Bonus question –> Favorite Halloween tradition:

As a kid, my favorite thing to do was get out our many boxes of Halloween costumes and spend the day dressing up in all of them with my brothers! My mom also used to have a ghost-shaped candy dish that “boo-ed” when you walked past that I LOVED! The year that we took it out of storage and found it broken was the saddest year of decorating ever. Ha!

Something else that we have always done that is still my favorite thing to do now is going to the pumpkin patch!

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Montpelier Farms

I love walking down the rows of pumpkins to find the perfect one to carve, I love the kettle corn that is ALWAYS sold, and I love the different outdoor activities they have for everyone to do!

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Last year, I visited a new-to-me pumpkin patch in Maryland. All by myself. Because sometimes when you move to a new place and you don’t know that many people, you have to do such things. 😉 I found this candy corn tree in the General Store and I wanted it so badly! It wouldn’t have fit in my living room last year, but now I SO wish I owned it!

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I also love candy apples covered in caramel and Reese’s Pieces because OF COURSE I DO!

Your turn…what’s up with you?!

A Race + An Adventure

In the midst of working on that whole “running is fun again” thing, I signed up for a race this past weekend. One of the neighborhoods nearby is called Clarendon (which ironically is the name of one of the new filters on Instagram and that makes me freakishly excited) and this past Saturday was dubbed “Clarendon Day”. Besides the food trucks, craft vendors, and musicians all around, there was also a 5k race, a 10k race, and a Kid’s Dash to kick off the morning’s festivities. My friend Kristen and I have met some great friends through our Monday evening runs with lululemon in Clarendon, so we signed up for the 10k race with a few of those running friends!

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Kristen, who is wearing mint in the middle, and Lindsey, who is standing next to me in a black SCRR shirt, are two of my friends from Pittsburgh. We all went to Duquesne together and now we are all teaching in the DC area. 🙂

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Pros of the race:

-It started at 9 AM. That is very unusual for a race, but I appreciated getting to sleep a little later on Saturday morning! The 5k started an hour earlier at 8 AM.
-It was mostly downhill and flat, which makes for a faster race.
-The roads never felt crowded and the race directors made it clear where we were supposed to be going!
-We ran past part of the Pentagon that you don’t usually see while you are driving.
-Although the race ended at the bottom of a huge hill, every participant was given a Metro card to ride back to the start where the Clarendon Day festivities were taking place.

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Cons of the race:

-Since it was a smaller race, we didn’t wear timing chips. That means I had to rely on the clock and my GPS for my race time. I like exact numbers and wish I had been wearing a chip. 🙂
-It was described as taking you along the “eclectic neighborhoods” of the Orange line (in reference to the Metro), which I assumed meant we would hit the streets of the neighborhoods a bit before heading down the hill. Instead, we just ran down the main street (the downhill) and then headed out on the highway. Literally. One side of the highway was shut down for us to run!
-This was an out and back course, which would have been fine if there was a lot to see, but again, we were just on one side of the highway. We turned around near mile 4 and headed back. It was kind of strange!
-The finish line was slightly uphill and around a bend. That is just mean after a mostly flat course! Hahaha

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I did not mean to get my face in this photo…but you can see the mile 6 flag behind me, right? Well, because this was an out and back course, we ran past the mile 6 flag at like mile 1.5. Obviously I don’t expect them to wait until we all run past to hang up the flags, but to just start and then see that flag makes you kind of wish you were already done! And then once I realized my face was in the picture, it was kind of perfect. 🙂

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The obligatory post-race photo to send to my parents. My 10k PR is 52:45 and I ran Saturday’s race in 55:25. Again, I wonder if the clock was a bit off and what my time would have been with a chip…but I still wouldn’t have set a new record. I probably would have just come closer to my PR, which is fine by me, because I feel like I set that record when I was fast! That must mean I am getting some speed back, right?!

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This was the funniest sight to see post-race. You know a race just happened nearby when the garbage can is overflowing with water bottles and banana peels. 😉 #runnerprobs

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Our race bibs came with three drink tickets for different local restaurants. All of those restaurants had crazy long waits, which is to be expected, so we decided to have brunch at Circa instead.

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Girl talk, run talk, coffee and mimosas. The perfect Saturday morning.

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And then Lindsey and I had to satisfy our sweet tooth with a Red Velvet cake pop. I dropped half of mine on the sidewalk, but the half that I DID get to eat was delicious!

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Another fun sighting: one of the kids’ activities was climbing. Instead of your typical fake rock wall, the kids were climbing up the side of this fake palm tree. I wanted to climb, too!

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My friends all bought really pretty jewelry from one of the craft vendors, and I was SO close to also making a purchase! There were so many pieces that were perfect for every day wear, but I was just too indecisive. Instead, I bought this wooden plank spray painted with my favorite thing and favorite place. 🙂

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Saturday afternoon looked a lot like getting ready for an event that my runner friends and I all bought tickets to: a 90s bar crawl in DC. We took to Pinterest for clothing inspiration and noticed lots of flannel and crop tops, so that’s what I went with! Once we were out, we saw so many more good ideas that we forgot we used to wear! Jean overalls, jean on jean outfits, windbreakers, bandannas as hair accessories, and graphic tee’s with all of those classic 90s shows like Ninja Turtles and Pokemon!

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Everyone who registered was given a wristband and one of these neon plastic mugs. There were probably eleven or twelve participating bars, and at each location, there was 90s music playing and lots of drink specials for us. Kel Mitchell, from the show Kenan and Kel, was even at one of the locations for a Meet and Greet! I don’t go out just to drink very often, so I was excited to explore the Dupont Circle area of DC and try some new restaurants and bars. We had appetizers at Black Finn to start and hit up some food trucks in Dupont Circle later in the evening.

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Apparently, this was my classic shot on Saturday. See the post-race selfie above with all of my friends. Ha!

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My favorite thing about this event, besides the fact that everyone really got into the “costumes”, was that it was from 2 PM – 10 PM. Of course, you could stay at the restaurant or bar that you were at for as long as you wanted, but the event specials ended at 10 PM. Because we headed out at 4 PM, a little earlier in the afternoon, we were tired and wanted to go home earlier in the evening, which meant I was in my bed for the night at 10:30 PM. And to think in college, we used to wait until 10:30 PM to even go anywhere…those were the days. 😉 #gettingold #alwaystired

Sunday morning = waking up early and going to church. I can’t sleep in for the life of me, so I made myself look presentable enough to go to 9 AM church with my friend Sarah. Because our church has several locations, I really enjoy going to the Saturday evening or 9 AM Sunday services because those ones are always “live”, meaning the pastor is standing right in front of you on the stage. If you go to another location or go to a service at another time, you see the exact same service, but you are watching it on the screen. The band is always live and everyone gets really into the message as if the pastor is really there, but there is something about him really BEING there that makes it so much better. 🙂 Also, Pastor Mark must have had 12 espresso before this service because he was a ball of energy! We were talking about a parable and he made a reference to Beyonce. And broke out in an 80s song. It was a great time! Haha

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I went to Target to grocery shop and buy new nail polish, ate a bunch of junk food like the pizza pictured above, and basically did a whole bunch of nothing for the duration of the day.

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Sunday looked a lot like laying on the couch, taking random cat naps, and watching the Kardashians and one of my favorite older movies, The Prince and Me!

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I did make homemade chicken and vegetable soup, so I guess I can give myself credit for that…

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…oh, and then I had to do this. Because for the past three weeks, I have been doing laundry, but then shoving it in the basket and never folding all the clean stuff. Three weeks worth of clean laundry on your bed means you have to fold and put away ALL of it before bed, right?! Let’s just say “almost”…

How was your weekend?!

Friday Favorites [Back At It]

Friday morning…e54a3d8c6f3345c5890607e5e772059a

…versus Friday afternoon. Hahaha

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We all know my favorite day of the week is Thursday, but here we are again on a Friday and I’m finally linking up with some of my favorite blogs again after a few weeks without a favorites post!

– ONE –

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I’ve been waking up to the most ridiculous sunrises! I wake up around 6:30 AM on most weekdays and I am still amazed every time I look out the window. 🙂 The newswoman on Good Day DC even mentioned it yesterday morning when she was reporting! The picture on the left is from Monday morning and the picture on the right is from Thursday morning. My roommate and I had to bring our porch furniture in because all of the balconies at our building are being refinished and repainted, so I have been missing the sunsets because I’m all cozied up on the couch by then!

Speaking of my roommate, she has put me in charge of watering her orchid for the next little while here while she is travelling.

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One of her best friends from childhood gave her this orchid when we moved in to our apartment this summer. She is so proud of herself for keeping it alive for this long because apparently she can never keep plants haha! Her mom even made a comment when she was here visiting recently. This thing CANNOT die on my watch! I even set a reminder on my phone so I don’t forget to water the orchid daily!

– TWO –

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Pope Francis is in the U.S. I think it is so cool how excited everyone is and how it seems to be bringing so many people together! DC is hard to navigate on a random, quiet Sunday afternoon, so to have someone so special in town was a big deal! I was selfishly kind of nervous about the Pope’s arrival because I have class in Maryland on Tuesday afternoon and I thought the commute was going to be horrendous. There was actually less traffic than there is on a normal day because everyone was trying to stay off the roads. I was driving and noticed that there didn’t seem to be many drivers on the other side of the highway…because several police cars had parked sideways to block the cars from entering! I sent a silent prayer of thanks that I was driving in the opposite direction!

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Lots of people in DC were off on one or both days that the Pope was in town because of the number of people who were supposed to be here and the road closures and such. I was not one of those lucky few because I teach right across the state line in Virginia…but the DC Snapchat story and lots of news coverage made me feel like I was at the parade on Wednesday! As you can see above, I was having fun with the Snapchat filter. 🙂

– THREE –

You know that I would live in workout clothes if I could, and while I do dress professionally for work, there are lots of “spirit” days that let me dress down, which I love! Let’s start with Wednesdays: they are affectionately known as “workout Wednesday”. The teachers wear their workout clothes in an effort to be more motivated to either stay after school and workout together or go to the gym right after school.

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This was my face (and outfit) for the first workout Wednesday. It was literally the second day of school and this is how I showed up! Don’t worry, everyone was dressed in a similar fashion. 😉 Wednesday is literally the perfect day of the week to have something like this because usually you are OVER IT (whatever “it” is) by midweek and you could use a day like this to keep your spirits up. This week, I added a scarf to my workout Wednesday outfit and I just felt so COZY! Nothing could mess with me! Then, every Friday is the real spirit day. Everyone wears jeans and a school shirt or just a plain red shirt (our school color). So every week, I really only have to plan 3 cute and put together outfits because the other days I get to be comfy! This week was extra special because on Thursday, everyone wore their favorite sports jersey to school. Food Services has a campaign about eating breakfast every day, and I have no idea what that has to do with wearing a jersey, but I happily obliged!

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Of course, I was looking in my closet last night wondering what dress pants best matched my Steelers jersey, and then I showed up today and everyone was in jeans. Sigh. I will learn. 😉

– FOUR –

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I’ve had some really great runs recently with the cooler temperatures we have had! Remember that marathon I was training for? I will tell you more about that next week! In the meantime, I have been keeping my distances moderate and I have been getting a little bit of speed back, which is exciting. I am running a 10K on Saturday morning and I am trying not to overdo it with running this week, which leaves me feeling like I have no idea what to do when it’s time to workout. Enter: Beachbody OnDemand. I am actually a Beachbody coach, so that is how I learned about this program, but basically all you have to do is sign up for a free TeamBeachbody account and then quarterly, you are billed $38. What you get? A huge variety of workout videos that you can do anywhere you have wifi or an Internet connection. I have done both 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix Extreme, so I own those workout DVDs, but OnDemand lets me try other workouts like Insanity or P90X that I don’t own, which I love! My coach lives in Pittsburgh and she is a Master Trainer, which means she trains others who are getting certified to teach live classes. She actually trained me to teach PiYo! Anyways, the Master Trainers sometimes get invited to record workouts that are OnDemand, so I did her P90X workout last night. It was so fun to feel like I was working out “with” her! When I was half-assing the bicycle crunches and she said, “Pretend like I’m on your living room floor with you!”, it was EXTRA motivating because I pictured myself at the gym with her yelling at me through her microphone! Haha!

– FIVE –

The little things that make me happy:

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On the first day of school, this student brought me an apple from her trip to the apple farm, and this week, she brought me flowers she had planted in her yard! Hahaha

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My best friend from childhood, Stefanie, sent me this picture on Snapchat last weekend. She is wearing a velvet dress, I have Dalmatians on my sweater, and we are hanging out with Chuck E. Cheese. Good Lord!

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I feel like the inside of my cupholders always get so dirty, so when I found these patterned cup holder thingies (yes, I just said that), I decided they were perfect because I could just take that out to wash instead of scrubbing the whole cup holder! Then, as I snapped this picture, I realized how dirty the entire middle console of my car is. My apologies. Haha!

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This is not me attempting to start a political conversation AT ALL…this is just funny. I love Ellen Degeneres’ Instagram! The caption says, “Look! It’s a tiny Trump.” 😉 #crazyhairdontcare

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    YES YES YES YES YES YES YES. Go to Wegmans or another big grocery store, because I haven’t seen these flavors at Target or any smaller grocery stores yet…but YES! SO GOOD! Taste review: I had candy corn last year and obviously I loved it. Pumpkin spice is only good when you get the kernels dripped in white chocolate, and not all of them are!

Have the best weekend, friends! Thanks for reading. 🙂 I’ll be back next week with a full week of blogging. Yay!

***

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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Currently [Day 12]

Saturday, September 12: What are you currently up to?

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Reading:

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…and PDFs of education journal articles for my graduate class. Do you see why I like reading blogs so much?! Because they are so much more fun! I really do enjoy the reading that I have to do for my job and for school, but you must understand the need for mindless reading too, right?!

Playing:

Tourist in my own town. Last weekend, I went for a run, which is normal, but I didn’t plan the route, which is definitely not normal. I ended up at the Marine Corps Memorial, Arlington Cemetery, the end of the National Mall by Lincoln to get a drink from the many water fountains, and in Georgetown.

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Behind me, you can see three in a row: Iwo Jima, the Washington Monument, and the Capitol Building.

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Watching:

Big Brother & Extreme Weight Loss! I never watch either of them in real time but they are my favorites! Of course, I am also excited for Scandal to start up again too. 🙂

Trying:

Not to let my job consume me. I actually dreamed about all 23 of my students last night. Sigh. I woke up at 2 AM to go to the bathroom and I was giving myself a mental pep talk like, “I am NOT going back to sleep and dreaming about those children!” And then I did. Ahhh! Oh, fun fact: for a few moments when I wasn’t dreaming about my kids, I had a dream that me, Sarah at Picky Runner, and Jamie at IDon’tEatThat were all running a half marathon together. Ha!

Cooking:

I just made this…

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…and put marinara sauce and mozzarella on top. The lazy way to make an Italian meal. 😉

Eating:

Entirely too much candy corn.

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And my Dad is not helping my addiction by sending me care packages that look like this. Hahaha

Drinking:

Light blue Powerade Zero. Aka mixed berry flavor. I have been so bad at hydrating lately!

Texting:

My brothers, both of my parents, and Kristen. The usual. 😉

Pinning:

Teacher stuff because #cantstopwontstop and fall stuff because #basicwhitegirl.

Tweeting:

Not much of anything lately! I think I’m pretty funny;) so when I do tweet, you should follow along. Follow me here!

Going:

To spectate at the Nation’s Tri tomorrow! I don’t think I could handle a triathlon as I still hold my nose when I go swimming, but it will be fun to see so many others conquer the triathlon goal all the way through DC!

Loving: 

This cooler, rainy DC day. Don’t worry, the humidity is still 96%. #dying Still, if you aren’t outside to run, it feels nice because it’s only 74*! I have candles burning, my laundry is all done (though not yet folded), and I’m on my couch with a big blanket!

Hating:

Comcast. Last week, our TV didn’t work for a good 36 hours. I tried everything and then I called and made an appointment for a technician to come out. They didn’t come when they were supposed to, the TV randomly started working again by itself, and now this week, the remote doesn’t work. We can’t win. Hahaha

Discovering:

That it is really hard to get simple errands done, like going to the post office or the bank, during the work week!

Thinking:

That these grapes are overrated. They are good, but definitely still taste like a regular ol’ grape!

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Feeling:

Like this. Hahaha

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Me after the first day of school…and every other day of school. 😉

Hoping:

I can get some blog posts scheduled for this week!

Listening:

To my roommate washing dishes and the song “Roots” by Imagine Dragons.

Celebrating:

The successful end to my first week of teaching!

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Seasonal beer from Citizen Burger

Smelling:

“Apple Pumpkin” from Yankee Candle!

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Ordering:

Here you will find part of my wishlist since I haven’t had my first pay day yet. 😉

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BlardiganPlaid Shirt Dress

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Thanking:

The Lord (and my principal) for casual dress days!

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Wednesday was “Workout Wednesday” and yes friends, that means all the teachers showed up in running shoes and comfy…oh, I mean “workout”…clothes.

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And Friday is Spirit Day. We are the Mighty Red Birds, but I don’t have an official school shirt yet, so I just rocked the color red. 🙂

Considering:

Ordering food for dinner. And I never do that! Also skipping my workout. I usually don’t do that either!

Starting:

To decorate for fall!

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My roommate decorated and moved the majority of furniture into our apartment because she moved in a month before I did. I was hoping she wouldn’t mind a few fall touches on the fireplace since she chose the other pieces and luckily, she loved it. 🙂 Now that this picture is uploaded, it’s bothering me that it is slightly crooked…

Finishing:

Cleaning my apartment! Such fun. 😉

What are you up to?

Seasons of Love [Blog-tember Challenge Day 8]

Tuesday, September 8: Tell us about your favorite season. Why is it your favorite and what does it say about you?

Linking up here.

It’s hard for me to say that one season is better than another. For me, I think there is something awesome that happens during every season…whether we are talking about a season defined by weather or a season of life.

Spring is literally a breath of fresh air after the long winter. In Pittsburgh, we don’t start seeing warm days until late April or early May. This makes you so appreciative of blooming flowers, sunshine, and wearing a light jacket instead of your bulky winter coat!

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Lots of moments in my life are defined with my running shoes.

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I love the traditions that come along with holidays in the Spring, like Easter. Egg dying and uplifting songs at church are my favorite!

Moving from Spring to Summer is almost effortless in Pittsburgh. Spring doesn’t actually really exist…we go from cold to hot with little to no transition! The weather in DC is a bit more typical of four seasons, but weather aside, summer comes with such excitement. My mom is a teacher so she was always home with my brothers and I in the summer and that was so special for us.

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We always looked forward to trips to amusement parks…and hey, we still do!

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You can do simple, yet fun things like go to carnivals, visit farmer’s markets, take long walks, and pick berries.

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And of course, I could spend the entire summer in Wildwood if it was possible. One of these days that dream will be a reality for me. 🙂 The ocean is just soothing. You cannot help but feel relaxed when you are on the beach! As you make it halfway through the year, it feels good to recharge with sun, sand, family, and friends.

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Then, there is the beloved fall. Fall is the beginning of the year for me. My brain works like a school calendar, which is beneficial because I am a teacher. 🙂 August and September are the months that I am winding down from summer and setting new goals for myself for the coming year.

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Just as I was so excited in summer to do #allthethings, come Fall, I am ready to make another bucket list. I want to go to apple festivals, visit the pumpkin patch, celebrate Halloween, and bake with seasonal flavors! I am also always ready for a change in wardrobe. Shorts and tank tops are comfortable, but I could live my life in pajamas, so I love the coziness factor that comes with scarves and boots and sweaters!

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And of course, I love the weather. I mentioned that in Pittsburgh, the weather tends to skip right over Spring and go right from cold to hot. DC makes no mistake about letting you know that it is summer. #hellohumidity The crisp fall air is REAL and it makes running so much more fun. 😉

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Is there anything happier than the holiday season? Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, the Thanksgiving to New Years time of year is just the happiest time of year. Everyone is a little kinder, a little happier, and a little more excited about life. I love the traditions that come along with this season, too: the music, the snowstorms, the gingerbread house making, the family visits, the present wrapping…and of course, winter holds a special place in my heart because this is when I celebrate my birthday. 🙂

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Snow is fresh and clean and just magical. I get just as excited for the 10th snowfall as I do for the first. Although come March or April, I am moving on from snow and it does not always feel the same way;)

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I think the fact that I cannot choose one season as my favorite says a lot about me. I am thoughtful in my choices, though some may call me indecisive. The verdict here is that I like transitions. I like moving from one season to the next. I appreciate the season for what it is while I have it, and then I am ready and excited for what is to come. I would call myself an ambitious person, so I think this thought of moving forward appeals to me because as they say, “the best is yet to come”.

Friday Favorites

Ya know, there’s just nothing better than the Friday before a long weekend. My favorite day of the week is actually Thursday, but Friday miiiiight be taking its place this week. Thursday was quite the long (but accomplished) day! I attempted to eat dinner on my patio after being inside all day but it was SO hot. Somehow I ended up in bed. At 6:30. With my dinner. So there’s that.

You should know I did get up to go running at 8 PM. It was either that or fall into a dead sleep and I ate way too much candy corn yesterday for that to happen. 😉 In other news, my leg is feeling better, so I’m a happy girl!

Let’s talk fall food. I know you are thinking that I am going to mention something healthy, but alas, I am not. My favorite fall-inspired eats this week were:

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Pumpkin spice creamer AND…

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…peanut butter cup candy corn. So wrong. So very wrong. But so right. 😉 Sometimes a girl just needs a little sugar rush on the drive home from work, am I right?!

Life is all about balance, so I balanced out those sugar rushes with my version of a Cobb salad.

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I packed spinach and shredded carrots in five containers on Sunday night. I wrapped cucumbers in plastic wrap and threw those in each of the five containers, too. In the morning, I would put turkey breast, shredded cheese, and a hard boiled egg on top. A delicious lunch this week. 🙂 Although it did make an appearance for dinner one night. My school has been great about providing lunch for us during in-service and clerical days! On Monday, the PTA ordered food from a local Italian restaurant and on Thursday, a local church that we partner with brought ALL homemade food. Chicken breast, salad, pesto pasta, cut up fruit, and desserts GALORE. Costco kale salad made an appearance on the table, but we can just forget that one wasn’t made at home. 😉 This was my very favorite lunch. The pastor was a master chef as he grilled all the chicken and made two cheesecakes! I can speak to the fact that his chicken was delicious, but I did not try his cheesecake. I tried a bourbon brownie and a toffee bar. #allthedesserts #yesplease

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Besides the delicious salads I’ve made for myself and the lunches provided for me at work, I ate my favorite easy meal…turkey, spinach, and cheese wraps with cut up peppers and Jalapeño Greek Yogurt Dip. Listen, these wraps are from Trader Joe’s and they are SO good. But Trader Joe’s knows what they are doing because the Jalapeño dip is also amazing! I wanted to buy something other than hummus and this seemed to fit the bill. It reminds me of queso, but it is obviously a thinner consistency. It is so good! You must try it!

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On a completely unrelated note, this Snapchat made me laugh out loud. It’s kind of hard to see, but I tried to make the picture bigger! Anyways, the sign says, “Jess Homecoming?” The “Prom-posals” and fancy Homecoming requests became popular after I left high school because I was asked to the majority of dances via text message. Hahaha! Senior year, three of my guy friends asked me and two of my girlfriends to Homecoming with sparklers which was so fun! But nothing to the extent of our names on a sign. I hope this girl said yes!

Things that made me really happy this week:

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The moon was RED on Monday night and I was working out in DC so I got to see it up close and personal! Sort of. As we were leaving the Lincoln Memorial, we looked down the Mall and I mentioned that I thought I saw fireworks. After walking a little closer and trying to figure out what we were looking at, we heard a Segway tour guide tell his tourists that they would have plenty of time to take pictures of the red moon later that night. Then I had to Google “red moon”. Then I took lots of pictures. 🙂

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My mom sent me this adorable picture of Colby “telling” Amigo a secret! Amigo is having surgery this morning to have a spot removed on his chest. I’m praying for an easy surgery and good news about the results of the tests. The vet wants to test to make sure it’s not cancer. My mom said he has been acting pretty normal, so we are hoping for the best!

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The staff all received this gift bag full of “treats” as our welcome back to school. There was a notebook, a pen, sunglasses, colored index cards, a coil bracelet, a slinky, and a bottle of water, all representing different things that will inspire us this year. Think colored notecards = diversity, coil bracelet = never ending learning, etc. 🙂IMG_0887

 I was sitting with the first grade team and my second grade teammates and we were quite the handful. The slinky representing flexibility became a toy mid-afternoon when our attention was wavering (yes, we were those people!), but I just thought it was so thoughtful for the principal and assistant principal to do this for all of us!

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I won this vase at lunch the other day. I never win anything. 😉 There were center pieces at each table made with various school supplies. Some had crayons, some had pencils, and some were painted mason jars with pencils as the flowers. They had flower toppers on the pencils so it really looked like a bouquet! Anyways, we were all handed a ticket when we got to the cafeteria and they called numbers after we ate lunch. It was kind of first come, first serve. When your number was called, you could choose from any of the centerpieces that were left. I really wanted this crayon vase and my number was called pretty early, but I still jumped up like a fool and screamed, “Oh! Me! Me! I need the crayons!” Ha!

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My aunt made my 5 Minute Pumpkin Oatmeal recipe! She is a faithful blog reader and usually sends me a text after she reads my post in the morning, so I was super excited to see that she not only read my post, but also decided I had a good idea! Haha

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This group text is me and my friends from college. Me, Johna, Lindsey, Niko, and John. I left them all in Pittsburgh when I moved to DC, but Lindsey just moved here for a teaching job too so now I have one of my friends back. 😉 I have no idea how this shoe picture tradition started, but one day, when someone was bored at work, they sent a picture of the shoes they were wearing and asked what we were wearing that day. Now, we will randomly still do this once every few days! Niko was wearing awesome shoes the other day. I mean, look at that pattern!
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John was in his comfy shoes and I was wearing sandals from Marshalls that I swear got compliments from at least four other teachers! They are just simple brown and black sandals that were probably $19.99 and everyone wanted to know where they were from! The best purchases are always like that. 🙂

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Finally, running at night. Running itself is exciting for me right now. Luckily, I never feel alone or scared because there are a ton of people eating at outdoor restaurants, walking home from work, or ALSO out running when I run at this time. My favorite.

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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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5 Minute Pumpkin Oatmeal

My very favorite breakfast in all the land is oatmeal. I like to say that I get excited to go to bed because I know when I wake up, I get to have oatmeal. 😉 My favorite “recipe” is simply quick cooking oats with water, 1 teaspoon coconut oil, a splash of vanilla extract, a dash of cinnamon, and some PB2. I just cook everything in the microwave for two minutes and then add the PB2 right before I eat it! The possibilities for ingredients are endless. Really, you just need the base of oats and water (or milk) and then you can add any nut butter, spice, or fruit that you like!

If you take my above advice, you’ll have yourself a yummy breakfast in two minutes. Today, I’m extending your cook time to five whole minutes. 🙂 This oatmeal recipe includes pumpkin…because doesn’t September 1 mean that it is fall?! Before you roll your eyes at me, look at this graphic below:

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Pumpkin is actually really good for you! My other fall love…candy corn…well, that has about as many negative health benefits as pumpkin has positive health benefits haha!
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5 minutes to Pumpkin Oatmeal. Ready?!

Ingredients

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1 cup water
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup milk [of your choice] for thickness
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon truvia [or sweetener of your choice]
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Dark chocolate almonds [optional]

Directions

Combine 1 cup water + 1/2 cup oats in a bowl. Heat in the microwave for 2 minutes.

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Add 1/4 cup milk, 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon truvia, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Stir it up!

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I topped it off with dark chocolate almonds because there is never a BAD time to eat chocolate. Am I right?!

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Another way to simplify the cooking process and STILL get your Pumpkin Oatmeal fix would be to add Jif Pumpkin Pie Spice peanut butter to your oats! I haven’t seen this flavor out at Target YET, but I hope to see it soon. 🙂

Happy breakfast eating!