5 Tips For A Solo Road Trip

Have you ever gone on a solo road trip? It’s definitely different to drive many hours by yourself than when you have a friend or family member in the car to entertain you! I didn’t make my first long drive by myself until I was in college, and in those days, my mom told me to call her every hour on the hour to let her know where I was. 😉 As crazy as that sounds, it broke up the drive for me and gave me something to do and something to look forward to (besides my destination!).

Since moving to the D.C. area, I’ve made my fair share of drives back home to Pittsburgh on my own. Most recently, I was on Spring Break and I drove from D.C. to Rochester, NY to visit one of my friends. This was a longer drive, and Siri had me taking the scenic route. Ha! I talked about my road trip essentials here, but today is all about what you need to do to survive a road trip by yourself!

Solo road trips

-ONE-

Overpack beverages and snacks.

Three water bottles and a cup of coffee. Does that seem like a bit of excess!? I do this for a few reasons: first, I can easily refill one of those bottles when I stop. Second, when I’m driving alone, I don’t particularly like to stop. When there are other people in the car who want to stop, I feel less guilty pulling over. Just me, and I want to power through! Finally, I am particular about how my water tastes and some water fountains are weird. 😉

If you are traveling a familiar route, you might know where you would like to stop for a meal, but you never know how busy that place is going to be. Mid road trip, I don’t want to wait very long when I stop, so it’s always a good idea to have “easy” food in the car. I like trail mix, Larabars, fruit, and veggies. While you’re packing snacks, you might as well choose some healthy options, because when you’re stuck in the car and it’s your only choice, you will probably eat it. 🙂

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-TWO-

Choose your entertainment.

Before I go on a long drive, I always update music playlists on my phone. Even one or two new songs makes me more excited. I also recently added a playlist from high school to my iPod and it’s SO much fun to listen to! Switch it up when you know you are going to be listening to music for a long while.

When the music starts to bore you, what are you going to do? Download podcasts before your drive so you have something on hand to listen to when your music starts to get old! I also recently started listening to audiobooks in the car and that has been the BEST distraction, even on random trips around town. Music, podcast, audiobook…I wouldn’t recommend just one. I would recommend you have them all up your sleeve, because you never know what kind of mood you might be in. 🙂

-THREE-

Plan to stop.

I mentioned that I don’t particularly like to stop when I’m driving by myself, but it is completely necessary. You need a mental break, and if you’re anything like my over-hydrated self, you’ll be searching for the next rest stop’s sign! I like to try to make it halfway (depending on how long the drive is) before I stop because I get a decent amount of driving in, it gives me something to look forward to, and it feels like the drive is “almost” over when I get back in the car. Plus, when you travel alone, someone is probably wondering where you are and if you are okay. Use this time to text or call your family/friends!

-FOUR-

Figure out who you can call.

When the music is stale, the podcast has ended, the audiobook won’t hold your attention, you’ve already made a stop, and you’re STILL not to your destination, who can you call? There are so many phones (and cars) that have hands-free calling now that most people should be able to safely make a call when driving. (Of course, safety should come first.) Depending on when you are driving, your best friend/mom/brother/sister/significant other might be at work or otherwise occupied and unable to talk. This is when you call and catch up with an old friend because you have the time and you NEED a distraction. 😉 On one of my most recent solo road trips, I traveled during the day on a Friday when essentially everyone I knew was at work or school. In that case, I made a few extra stops so I could play with my phone to take a brain break. Ha!

-FIVE-

Stay safe.

I have noticed so many people who are driving by themselves on the highway with a phone in their hand. If you are solo road-tripping and you are starting to lose your mind, eat a snack. Drink some water. Listen to music. Call someone. Listen to a podcast or audiobook. Repeat. Just don’t be irresponsible with your phone! We are so connected and it is so tempting to quickly respond to a text, but it is so not worth it! You want to arrive at your destination happily and safely.

Happy road tripping!

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Friends Forever

Think about this: the weirdest thing about getting older is that I (and you too!) can officially say I have been friends with someone for 20 years. Except I don’t know that it’s that weird because we love that we can finally say 20 YEARS!!! Haha

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Fun fact: Stef’s family is from Rochester, NY. In 1996, they moved in across the street from my family in Pittsburgh. Stef and I were attached at the hip from the very first day they moved in until the very last day they lived in that house two years later…and somehow we managed to stay friends all this time.

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I think that it is SO much easier to stay in contact with friends now. Social media practically does the work for us! Our long distance friendship started with snail mail and long distance phone calls on Sunday because it only cost a penny a minute. We also convinced our moms that we should visit each other EVERY summer, and they listened to us. So every summer I would spend a week in Rochester and Stef would spend a week in Pittsburgh. Except it was more like me in Rochester for 5 days and Stef in Pittsburgh for 9 days because I used to get crazy homesick and she would get SO mad at me. Hahaha

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Then came high school and crazy busy schedules. The visits may not have happened as much as we would have liked, but we had AIM, MySpace, text messages, and Facebook. We both made it to each other’s high school graduation parties and I think that’s when we really knew we’d be stuck with each other forever. 😉 This past weekend, I finally got back up to Rochester to visit her! In the past five years while we’ve been in college and figuring out the real world, we’ve visited a bunch of times, but she has either been in Pittsburgh or DC, so it was high time that I take myself back up to NY!

Pre-road trip, I took myself on a 3 mile run to start the day. I ran into this creepy dog statue and saw some budding trees. #hallelujahitsspring

I left a little later than I would have liked because that’s how I roll, and I ran into three traffic jams on the way out of DC. #normal I always get really angry when I’m stuck in traffic because of an accident, but then I get mad at myself for being mad because really, I should be hoping everyone is okay! I justify my anger by saying I’m really only mad at the cars who drive slowly past the accident and stare at everything to see what happened. Ha!

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I took the scenic route because it was an hour shorter than my other two options, and my drive was filled with open roads, mountains, motels, and rivers. As soon as I crossed the state line into New York, it started to snow and hail. I almost turned around. Hahaha! After all, this was the start of my Spring Break! 😉

Traveling with me looks a lot like empty water bottles and random snacks on the floor. I had yogurt (because the big container was almost gone and I didn’t want to throw it out), carrots and celery with ranch, trail mix, and Shakeology. As soon as I got to Stef’s house, which was around 6 PM, we headed straight to dinner. She had just finished work, I had sworn myself off of trail mix, and we were both starving. We met up with her parents at Blu Wolf and ordered the most delicious turkey burgers! Her dad dared to be different and ordered chicken and waffles. Have you ever tried that dish? I always want to and then I end up with something tried and true!

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Later that night, I got to meet some of her friends from work. Someone had just gotten a selfie stick, and as the only person in the room who has used a selfie stick before, it was my job to teach everyone what to do. 🙂

Then of course we faceswapped because this is 2016 and how can you not do such a thing? My face does NOT look good on her head. It’s too big or something! Hahaha

After dinner in the Park Ave area of Rochester, we headed downtown to hear her friend’s band play at Dino, a barbecue restaurant. It was fun to see different parts of the city because I haven’t been there in so long and the last time I visited, she still lived with her parents in the suburbs. The band is called Teagan and the Tweeds and they are pretty well known in the area, apparently! They’ve been playing together for ten years and they played the perfect mix of original tunes and oldies but goodies that we all know. We ended our evening with our favorite twins, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. We will never grow out of their movies. 😉

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On Saturday morning, we lounged around eating breakfast and watching another MK&A movie before hitting the mall. We always shop when we are together. 🙂 I think we were at the mall for like five hours, so we definitely made a dent in our wallets! I was having no luck finding anything I liked and then I spotted these snakeskin pants. My initial thought was that they would be perfect dress pants for work, since they’re the right material and they’re high waisted (aka appropriate). Then I found this black crop top on sale and Stef told me I HAD to try it on because it would make such a cute outfit. My face should explain to you how I feel about crop tops. Hahaha

But apparently I don’t dislike crop tops enough to not purchase one, because I ended up wearing that exact outfit to meet some of Stef’s college friends that evening. We had Moscow Mules at a cocktail lounge in another part of downtown called South Wedge. Our group was definitely the youngest bunch in there by at least ten years, but one of her friends was so excited to take us to Cheshire that we had to give it a chance! It’s above a wine bar, so it’s kind of hard to find because you have to go IN the wine bar to get to the cocktail lounge. That was kind of cool because it felt like a hidden gem! My takeaways: it was SUPER dark in there and the drinks were small and expensive. #cheapskate

Our day on Sunday revolved completely around food. We had brunch plans at Trata where I had the most delicious omelette with cajun sausage, corn, pepperjack cheese, and red peppers. Fun fact about NY State: they don’t serve alcohol on Sunday until after 12 noon. We were STARVING when we woke up on this morning, so after wasting as much time as humanly possible at her house, she and I and her roommate decided we were just GOING and maybe we would eat for a long time and have time to order a mimosa. Well, we got there at 10:30, ordered our food, inhaled it, and then promptly decided we all needed a nap. No mimosas for us. 😉

We watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding and a few episodes of Friends while everyone lounged around for the afternoon…then it was off to her parents’ house in the suburbs for dinner! This was bittersweet because they just sold their house so this was the last time I would see it before they move! Stef’s brother was also at dinner which was so fun because we always reminisce about being kids…and of course her parents broke out the childhood photos as they are in the middle of packing up their house and there are pictures galore!

I left the frigid north behind and headed back to Pittsburgh for the rest of my Spring Break on Monday morning. I was greeted by two overly excited dogs who only sat still for that photo because I was holding treats in my other hand. 😉

How do you Spring Break?
Do you travel or are you a staycation-er?

Tourist Tuesday

So I might have mentioned that I went to New York City with my family. No? You don’t remember talking me talking about that? Well, you can read about it here and here. 😉 I feel like I have done so many recaps of this trip, but I have so much to say!

Today I’m talking about two of the “tourist-y” things that we did while we were in the city. After we ate dinner, we liked to have a plan for the evening. Simply walking around did not seem to appease my brothers as they liked to have an end destination in mind, so we ended up at two different locations right near each other on two different evenings.

Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum

I SWEAR I have suggested this museum every single time we have gone to NYC in the last four years and no one has taken me up on it until this past year! In fact, my mom suggested it as if it was some kind of new and amazing thing. I was quite offended. 😉 I vividly remember her telling me it would be “boring” in the past, yet once she decided to go, she was all in!

First of all, I had no idea that Madame Tussaud was actually a real person who had a traveling exhibition similar to the museums almost 200 years ago. All I knew is that I was going to a museum with wax figures of celebrities that look seriously life-like! Upon walking in and starting up the steps, you see the musician Pink floating in the air, similar to her performance at the Grammy’s a few years ago!

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We waited in a bit of a line for the elevator, which takes you several floors up to the top of the museum, and you work your way down. I snapped pictures in the meantime!

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Justin Timberlake, Bruce Willis, Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, Kelly Ripa, Morgan Freeman 

Morgan Freeman and Anderson Cooper looked EXACTLY like they look in real life. Some looked almost perfect, but you could just tell that something, somehow, was off. Like Kelly Ripa…I LOVE her, but I knew she was a wax figure. 😉 It was strange to see celebrities with sunglasses vs. celebrities with just their regular face. When you could see their eyes, it made them so much more life-like!

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Kim Kardashian West, Robert Pattinson, Jimmy Kimmel, The Kennedys, Benjamin Franklin

The coolest people to see “in person” were the more historical well-known Americans. The Kennedys, The Reagans, Abe Lincoln…it was kind of weird to see those faces because they aren’t in our news as much as the other more current celebrities! Of course, there was a line to see The Obamas. My brothers and I all took a picture at The White House podium as if we were giving a press conference, too! The funniest picture is definitely one of Alex scratching Lenny Kravitz’s head. We had so much fun being ridiculous here!

Let’s take a moment for The Spice Girls…because they are my favorite. Do you see the woman with the camera on the left? In the museum, she is in front of The Spice Girls, so it looks like she is taking a picture of them. And she is wax. And I stood behind her for a few minutes before I realized she was fake. Hahaha!

The museum takes an official picture of you and your family/friends while you are there that you are able to purchase at the gift store on the way out, but we didn’t purchase ours because we took too many other good pictures ourselves! This was one of my favorite places to go. You can’t NOT have fun here!

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!

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Jake loves all things historical and fact-based, but he is just as intrigued by random oddities, so this place was right up his alley.

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We were welcomed by the tallest man in the world, who beats both of my 6’5″ brothers by just a few feet. 😉

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There are two floors to this place, and I didn’t take many pictures because I was either reading the facts that went along with each exhibit or I was interacting with it! I was surprised to find a lot that we could do while we saw these random things. The best was a tunnel with flashing lights called “The Black Hole”. The object was to walk across the bridge (which was moving) while walking through the tunnel. It was trippy!

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Jake walked through with Alex and then ran back to find me and my mom. He made me hold his hand the second time, which he will never admit…but look! I have proof! 🙂

A glass floor with sailboat models below, a mind game that made it look like Jake lost his legs, a two headed cow, and a train made solely of tooth picks. Yes, that huge train is made out of JUST toothpicks!

I had my fortune told by Zoltar (any other Tom Hanks “Big” fans out there?!), my mom and I found each other in a mirror box, and I climbed the Empire State Building. You’re so convinced, right?! 😉

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We, of course, bought the classic picture. 🙂

Both Madame Tussaud’s and Ripley’s are right on 42nd Street in Times Square, so if you travel with people who are looking for an end destination while you walk around, I would highly recommend either of these places!

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Linking up with Stephanie for TWOsday!

Christmas Vacation: Part II

We did lots of classic “New York” things while we were in the city, but we also indulged in some tourist spots like Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum. Today I’m going to share two classic New York things you must do if you ever visit!

Brooklyn Bridge

 I mentioned yesterday that we shopped in Chinatown and dined in Little Italy, but then I convinced everyone that we should go see the Brooklyn Bridge. Well, really, I put everyone on the subway in that direction. 😉 My mom wanted to go too, but my brothers were getting tired at this point!

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We walked up the stairs of the subway and saw this cute little park area. This is one of the reasons I love being in a city…tall, historic buildings with some hidden peaceful greens in the middle.

There were SO many people headed across the bridge. One lane for pedestrians, one lane for bikers…and everyone going across and back. There were also little stands of NYC souvenirs, but the funniest item for sale were selfie sticks. Everyone needs one, apparently!

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We made good use of ours…

…and the views were spectacular! Check out that light post with all the locks on it. Just like the Lock Bridge in Europe! #kinda

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If you ever visit the Brooklyn Bridge, I definitely recommend just going for it and really walking all the way across into Brooklyn! There’s a subway stop not too far away from the other end, plus when you get towards the middle, the crowds thin and you can really appreciate the bridge and the scenery. I know it sounds crazy to appreciate a bridge, but if my brothers found enjoyment in this, you definitely will too. 🙂

Bryant Park

Okay, so I’ve been to the city at least once a year for the past few years, but I have never made it to Bryant Park! With its close proximity to Times Square, I just don’t know how that is possible, but when you are riding the subway and being driven around in taxis, it’s possible to miss some hidden gems. 🙂

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My favorite part of Bryant Park were all of the holiday shops! Each one was so unique, selling a variety of items from handmade jewelry to makeup bags to kids games to chocolate. In the above picture, you can see the green and white awning that tops the carousel. My mom and I just had to go watch the little ones riding around. Such fun!

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See…my favorite view. Little shops, a little bit of nature, and the beautiful tall buildings in the background.

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Perhaps the most fun thing I saw were the ping pong tables, all occupied with excited players! Apparently, there is also putting, chess, pétanque (a French ball game I believe is similar to the Italian game Bocce), and an art cart. You simply cannot get bored on this little stretch of land in Midtown. 🙂

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Visiting right after the holidays allows you to see all the beautiful decorations. How awesome is that Christmas tree?! The ornaments were as big as my head…truly.

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And if I could’ve convinced my brothers (and Jake would’ve been an easy sell), we would’ve stood in the lengthy line to ice skate. It was only $15 and the line really wasn’t too bad! At this point, the boys had taken our shopping bags and headed back to the hotel with visions of comfy hotel beds dancing in their heads. Ha! Listen, we walked A LOT on this trip.  Plus our hotel served a complimentary dinner and happy hour each evening, so you can’t really blame them. And don’t worry, my mom and I made it back to relax and have dinner, too!

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Linking up with Stephanie!

I Will… [Day 10]

September 10: 10 items off your bucket list. If you haven’t made one, now’s a good time to start!

Three years ago, when this blog originally started, one of the tabs at the top said “Bucket List”. That page is private in my settings now and when I just went to look at it to see what was on the list, the page had the words “Under Construction”. After a quick search of my Mac, I realized that my Bucket List no longer exists! My best friend in high school and I wrote buckets lists the summer after our freshman year of college. I know there were a few items on that list that I have accomplished like becoming a Spinning instructor and running a half marathon, but I really am not sure what else I put on there!

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I like to think that my hopes and dreams and goals have shifted as I “grew up” in college, so it might be better to rewrite my list anyways. 😉 Now, I would include:

1. Run one race every year in a new-to-me city. This will give me the chance to race, which I love to do, and see new parts of the U.S.! I really want to go to Colorado to see the mountains and I really want to go to the West Coast! The furthest west I have been is Las Vegas, and all I did was fly to Las Vegas, spend a few days there, and fly back home. So I need to explore!

2. Own a beach house.

3. Read the Bible (I’m working on this now!).

4. Compete in a triathalon. This particular event made my list because I love to run and I love to bike, but after years of swim lessons and even a year of swim class in high school, I still hold my nose when I swim. Sigh. Breathing through my nose (or whatever you call it) underwater freaks me out!

5. Ride a Skycoaster or parasail with my brother, Jake. He LOVES the adrenaline of heights and has been on the Skycoaster many times, but I am so afraid! I have previously promised, and consequently broken my promise, to do something crazy like this with him. Luckily, that doesn’t hold him back!

6. Attend a blog conference.

7. Be published somewhere. I love to write and I would love to make it a career in some way…I am just not sure what way yet. 🙂

8. Learn how to sew or knit. I want to make things. Hahaha

9. Grow a garden (once I move out of the city)!

10. Travel outside the U.S. The only places I have been are Mexico and Canada, which I suppose count as leaving the country, but there are so many places I want to see. SO. MANY. Maybe I should make this bucket list item “backpack across Europe” or something of the sort so I can see a lot all at once. 🙂

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What’s on your life list?

Things That Make Me Smile {Friday Favorites}

Happy Friday, friends!

This week ended up looking nothing like what I had planned on…as I write to you, I am currently sitting at my desk in my apartment in Maryland. Remember when I was going home for three beautiful weeks?! Yeah, me too. Life gets busy and hectic and straight up in the way, but I am trying not to think of it that way and instead appreciate the opportunities that God has given me and give thanks that I have the ability to travel back and forth if I so wish!

My favorite things this week seem kind of lame now that I’m looking at the pictures…but this is a peek into my little life. And it’s not lame. I like my life. So there. 😉

– ONE –

My brother’s dog is a Staffordshire Terrier, but most people call him a Pitbull. Never in my life did I think I would live with a Pitbull (or at least live with him when I go home to Pittsburgh), but he truly is the sweetest dog ever. My family has always had a Golden Retriever, and while I love our 2 year old little Colby SO much, my brother’s dog Amigo makes Colby look like an idiot most of the time. Ha! Amigo is so smart and Colby is so silly.

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Here they are…representing UMD with toys that I mailed them. 🙂

ANYWAYS! That was a tangent. Amigo and Colby love to be on top of you at all times, but they are both large dogs for different reasons: Colby just has long limbs and Amigo weighs a lot even though he is much smaller. Colby will usually fall asleep on your lap and then get up twenty minutes later to go lay on the kitchen or bathroom floor where it is cooler. Amigo, on the other hand, curls himself up in your blankets, his blankets, ALL THE BLANKETS, and never moves.

On Monday before my mom left for work, she brought Amigo and his blanket into my room while I was still asleep and I woke up to this 70 pound pillow pet on my legs.

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After writing in my journal and checking social media on my phone (it’s not as bad because I wrote in my journal first…right? Right!), I went to make coffee. And I came back to this one literally in my spot. On top of my pillows. DUDE!

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He’s like…you really think you’re laying back down here? No, no you are not.

– TWO –

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My favorite breakfast in all the land is oatmeal. Recently, I heard someone say they think oatmeal is disgusting and they really want to like it but it is the worst. My heart broke a little bit. *cue the drama* I have been traveling a lot lately, so I love that Starbucks has the option to order oatmeal or an egg white wrap. Sometimes I walk into a rest stop and I think good Lord, there is nothing of substance here. It’s just fast food! And while this oatmeal only takes 3 minutes to cook, it is certainly a better choice than dry cereal from the gas station (but Cheerios! And Cinnamon Toast Crunch! YOU ARE SO GOOD!). I love that I can make healthy choices on the road. 🙂

– THREE –

I don’t have my car with me in Maryland right now (it’s in the shop in Pittsburgh getting fixed), but luckily there is no shortage of public transportation in DC. On Wednesday alone, I took a bus, two trains, and another bus to get back to my apartment. I felt like a gypsy carrying all my bags and running through the Metro station! Haha

Yesterday, I had to go somewhere in Virginia that was not on the Metro or bus line, and because I don’t trust taxis or Ubers, I got a Zipcar. My first car was a red Ford Escape that my friend and I named Skyler…she was the best car.

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Then she got handed down to my brother and then she died a slow death last winter. Alex had many adventures with her. One time while he was delivering food for a restaurant he worked for, he couldn’t get the car alarm to turn off. So he kept driving. Only my brother. Another time, he drove home from college because it was the middle of a very cold week and the heater in the car didn’t work anymore. Ha! Now he drives a white Ford Escape and I drive a gold Jeep Patriot BUT yesterday when I got a Zipcar, IT WAS A RED FORD ESCAPE!

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There was actually a name on the windshield: Colwick. I guess that helps you identify the car in case there are two of the same vehicle parked right by each other. It was so fun to be behind the wheel of an Escape again. 🙂

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Can I just say I know nothing about cars, but I know there is a HUGE difference between a 6-cylinder engine and a 4-cylinder engine? My Escape, and the Escape I drove yesterday, both have 6-cylinder engines. My Jeep has a 4-cylinder engine and oh Lord do I have to press the gas pedal. It struggles to pick up speed and go up hills. But yesterday in little red Colwick…I WAS MOVING! #idrivefast #igotitfrommymama

– FOUR –

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I would like to take this opportunity to thank my roommate for suggesting we eat dinner outside on the pool deck last night. There was no shortage of silly college kids playing beer pong or random songs like “Gangsta’s Paradise” playing while we were out there, but it was worth the craziness to enjoy the summer weather and to see this. 🙂

– FIVE –

Hi, my name is Kylie and sometimes I hate running.

Do you like to run? I actually do. But there is very often a misconception that if you like to run or you identify yourself as a runner, you have to do it every day, all the time. That, my friends, is just not true. There are seasons of life where I love running and seasons of life where every other exercise BUT running is my jam. I ran two races recently and then I took about a month off from running…minus my favorite Wednesday night runs with my church’s small group. Those runs are my favorite. 🙂 However, those runs were starting to feel really hard because I wasn’t running regularly…and I also just missed putting on my shoes and going outside without a second thought. I no longer wanted to go running as my workout for the day because it just felt. so. hard. I felt like a beginner again. So instead of dwelling on that, I decided to take on Runner’s World current challenge: The Runner’s World Run Streak! To keep yourself motivated, or to GET motivated, the challenge is to run at least one mile per day from Memorial Day until the Fourth of July.

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I tried to do this challenge two years ago and I failed epically, mostly because I didn’t take a break between my most recent race and this challenge. I just kept going. This time, I came into the challenge refreshed. Today marks Day 5 of the #RWRunStreak and when I woke up today, my body hated me. So much that I didn’t even make the effort to put in my contacts. 😉 I haven’t run for five consecutive days in a VERY long time. So instead of throwing in the towel this early in the challenge, I did 30 minutes of yoga and then I ran a slow mile on the treadmill…increasing and decreasing my speed every so often to keep it challenging but keep my legs feeling good. I ended up logging 8 miles in 5 days which may seem like a lot or may seem like nothing at all. You can keep up with my daily progress HERE. 🙂

I’m headed back to Pittsburgh for the Kenny Chesney concert this weekend. Tell me, what are you up to? Do you like Kenny? And what’s making you smile this week?!

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Linking up with these lovely ladies. If you’re a blogger, join us in sharing your five favorite things from this week!

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Andrea, Narci, Erika

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April, Christina, Natasha, Darci

What’s Up?!

My love of surveys will never die. And I love checking in with all my favorite blog friends to see what they’re up to! Join the link up on Mel or Shay’s blogs and share your rambles!

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What I’m eating this week:

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Warm weather has me craving ALL THE FRESH THINGS! I have been eating a ton of huge salads with grilled chicken. My favorite summer dish. 🙂

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I’m a big fan of food with ingredients that I can pronounce…these “That’s It” bars that I found at Chop’t (hey! A salad place! What do you know;) are made up of just apples and mangoes. Dried fruit in a perfect little serving size! If you give me a bag of dried fruit, I will go to town. If you give me a bar, I will only eat one. Therefore, these bars are a double threat for me because they are only two ingredients (that I can pronounce) and it’s already in a perfect serving size for me!

What I’m reminiscing about:

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I was a camp counselor at the YMCA for the past two summers and while those days felt so very long while I was in them, I really will miss becoming such good friends with other counselors and hanging out with the little people every day!

What I’m loving: 

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Not over how cool and portable and easy and fun my travel blender is. I LOVE IT! $14.99 well spent, my friends.

What I’ve been up to:

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Traveling. Which means lots of entertainment is needed on the way to my destination! I love the Pentatonix station on Pandora and The Chalene Show on the iPhone’s podcast app! Chalene’s podcast is also available on the Android version of the podcast app, but I don’t know what that’s called. 🙂 Probably just podcast. Ha! She is so positive and she talks about health, fitness, living a healthy life, making good decisions, work, your free time…she covers it all. Love her!

What I’m dreading:

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And on the note of traveling…I’m dreading going back and forth from DC to Pittsburgh. I have plans in both places during these first few weeks of summer and I am excited about it all, so I guess I need to just be thankful I have the means to travel and leave it at that!

What I’m working on:

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Closing my silly laptop. I am applying for jobs right now and I feel like I am a SLAVE to certain websites and my email account. I just want to tune into LIFE instead of my computer!!!

What I’m excited about:

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So, this show definitely isn’t for everyone. It can be crass at times but I love it. This fall, I saw the Orange Is The New Black book at Target and because I had heard people talking about the show and didn’t understand their obsession, I decided to read the book. I am a book –> movie/TV fanatic so I had to read first haha! When I started watching the show on Netflix, I had no concept of how long it was or how many episodes there were. When the last episode of Season 2 ended (and by the way, it ends on a huge cliffhanger), I jumped off my couch to hit PLAY NEXT EPISODE and I was so upset when I realized there were not, in fact, more episodes to be watched. Needless to say, I am super excited for Season 3 to start on June 12!

What I’m watching/reading:

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I did some serious damage at my favorite store in Pittsburgh…Half Price Books. Does your town have one of those stores??? There are multiple locations in Pittsburgh and ZERO in the Maryland/DC/Virginia area. It’s so sad! Ha! All of these books were $4 or less each, so I was pretty happy with my finds. 🙂 I decided to start reading Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie first. Blake is the creator of TOMS shoes and for some reason, I am so intrigued by his story and advice for making a difference! I have been loving personal development/self help/nonfiction books lately so this is right up my alley. I also brought Seating Arrangements along for my travels this week because it seems like a lighthearted read! I really want to read Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places because I loved Gone Girl, but I’m convinced it’s too scary! Someone talk me into it or share your review, please! 🙂

What I’m listening to:

When I find a song I love, I LOVE IT. I downloaded this song yesterday and I’m pretty sure I’ve listened to it 25 times already. At least.

And this is pretty good too…

And Blake Shelton. Because he’s Blake Shelton. I have eclectic taste in music, as you can tell. I’m on the road again as you read this. I needed lots of new tunes!

What I’m wearing:

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These shoes. The end.

Actually, not the end. I said I wouldn’t jump on the Birkenstock train BUT I’M HERE AND I’M SO HAPPY!

What I’m doing this weekend:

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Summertime + Kenny Chesney + my friends = the perfect Saturday. Kenny is playing at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh with Eric Church, Chase Rice, and Brantley Gilbert. He’s come to Pittsburgh SO many summers in a row and I haven’t been to one of his concerts since I was probably ten years old! I can’t wait. 🙂 This is a throwback with some of the same girls I’ll be hanging out with this weekend to Tim McGraw last summer!

What I’m looking forward to next month WEEK:

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I’m changing this one up;) Next Saturday I’m going back to Heinz Field to see Taylor Swift. AH! I saw her when she was in town for her Speak Now tour in 2011 but I fell out of love with her when her Red album came out. I LOVE the 1989 album and one of my friends got tickets for Christmas and I’m the lucky girl she invited to go with her! We have tickets on the field. I’m not one to spend a ton of money on my concert tickets…I always feel like I’m there and that’s enough for me but I’m about to be so close to Taylor Swift and that is SO COOL!

What else is new:

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Even though it is officially summer, I am taking two online classes that start in early June. I was so burned out at the end of the spring semester because I was working on the most important paper of my grad school career, BUT I know that nothing worth having comes easy so I guess it comes with the territory. I am going to enjoy this TRULY free time from grad school while I can, but I’m also excited to get started with these next two classes!

Bonus question…What is your favorite thing to grill/BBQ?

   

One of my favorite ways to eat pineapple is with a packet of Jello powder sprinkled on top…extra flavor! But grilled pineapple is so fresh and good, it is a close second.

 

 I’m not a huge fan of red meat unless it’s served with an Italian dish. You won’t ever see me eating a steak or a burger! But I do love turkey burgers and this brand is my new favorite. They have a ton of protein and flavor!! 

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So, tell me: what have you been up to?!

And if you’re a blogger, here’s your list of questions! Have fun!

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Memorial Day 2015

Every year for Memorial Day Weekend, my family goes two separate ways: my dad and my brothers go to Indianapolis to visit our family and go to the Indy 500 and my mom and I have a girls weekend. For the past seven years (ah!) we have gone to Atlantic City. AC was one of my grandparents’ favorite places and you just can’t go wrong with the beach!

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We all left on Friday morning. Our favorite place to stay is Bally’s Casino. I was perfectly happy with my window seat and ocean view. 🙂 This year, my aunt and my friend Julianne joined us. After unpacking and walking on the Boardwalk a bit, we walked down to the beach. Because the first time you feel the sand and see the ocean after a long winter is the best feeling!

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We ate dinner at The Rainforest Cafe and my mom and aunt headed to the casinos shortly after! Julianne and I aren’t high rollers yet (#collegekidproblems) so we walked the Boardwalk and checked out all the little shops. It was warm this weekend but pretty windy so we were kind of cold after awhile! Luckily we made our way to Margaritaville for drinks and found a window seat so we could see the beautiful outside without feeling the wind. 😉 We saw fireworks over the beach in celebration of Memorial Day and seriously contemplated getting our palms read, but ended up meeting my mom at Bally’s Beach Bar to people watch and hang out instead!

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My family’s favorite thing to do on vacation is wake up in the morning and ride bikes on the Boardwalk. It’s just so relaxing and fun! Memorial Day Weekend is the first weekend for a lot of things at the shore, bikes included, so I was so happy to be there for the “first ride” of the season. 🙂 In Atlantic City, I like to ride on the Boardwalk towards Ventnor (the next town over) because the sights change from tall hotels and casinos to beach houses that I will one day own. Ha! We made our way all the way to the Ventnor City Pier and took lots of touristy pictures before heading back. It was pretty windy on Saturday too, so we spent the day tanning on the pool deck/roof of our hotel. I actually got some serious sun on my chest and back!

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Tan lines look so good, right? 🙂

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My aunt loves to visit the casinos off the Boardwalk over on the Marina, so on Saturday night we had dinner and gambled at the Borgata Casino. I spent a little bit of money each night on the slot machines but it wasn’t enough to win big…just enough to keep me playing for a little bit, which I guess is okay! Only 1/4 of us were lucky winners this weekend, but one is better than none!

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There’s a part of Bally’s Casino called Wild Wild West and it sounds just like its name. Very outdoorsy and country in the form of a casino and bar! Julianne and I got these adorable mason jar drinks on Saturday night after our time over at Borgata. Wild Wild West is fun because there is a dance floor and people actually get really into it! We had so much fun. 🙂

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And because I’m me, I like to balance my mason jar fruity drinks with Shakeology. Travel blender for $14.99 at Target, I love you.

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On Sunday morning, we went shopping at the Tanger Outlets. We found lots of good deals because of the holiday weekend, but sadly, this little elephant romper thing didn’t make the cut. 😉

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It was supposed to be warmer and less windy on Sunday, so we put our brave faces on and went to the beach. Mind you, it was about 70 degrees this entire weekend, but the wind KILLED and made it feel so much colder at times! My mom said if you looked left and right while we were at the beach, the number of people playing, taking pictures, laying out, and even swimming (!!!) made it seem like it was 90 degrees and HOT outside but that was not the case. The wind struck again and I took to laying on my towel in the sand because the ground was warm. Hahaha

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We took some cliche beach pictures and headed back up the pool. First stop: one of the many hot tubs. I seriously laid on the beach with my towel around my shoulders! Ha! We found lounge chairs in the sun next to the pool…but it should be noted we were inside. The pool at Bally’s is inside, but the ceiling is all windows, so it technically felt like we were laying in the sun. 😉

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The cutest new bakery called Boardwalk Cupcakes opened in Bally’s and they make SO many flavors of cupcakes, but we decided to purchase this six pack: Chocolate Mudslide, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Margarita, Creamsicle, Pina Colada, and Jack and Coke. They were glazed and infused with alcohol. Because why not. Hahaha

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The cupcakes themselves were delicious…the frosting on top and the icing in the center definitely let you know you were tasting some kind of alcohol! I liked the Pina Colada and Mudslide cupcakes the best. Of course we only took a bite of a few of them because we had to do a taste test! They were also very sweet so I cannot imagine eating an entire one myself!

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I love The Pier Shops at Caesar’s because I love to shop BUT on the third floor, they have huge Adirondack chairs sitting along the wall of windows that look out on this beautiful view. 🙂

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Monday morning included more bike riding, iced coffee drinking, omelette eating, shopping, and finally packing up to come home to Pittsburgh. It was such a fun weekend away with some of my favorite girls! Of course, the reason for Memorial Day goes much beyond the eating and drinking and traveling with friends and family. We’re meant to remember those who have fallen serving our country…and I am so grateful and appreciative of the sacrifices our armed forces have made for me and you. We are truly blessed!