Tag Archives: friends

Broad Street Run 10 Miler – Race Recap / Review

Totally tried to get this up yesterday but it just didn’t happen for me. Too much fun this weekend made for a SLEEPY Monday. Also, it’s raining and cold here which doesn’t facilitate getting pumped up for a Monday. This weekend Mike and I participated in the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia. I jump at the chance to run races in Philly because that is where my best-friend and lady-life partner Sarah lives. Over the past three years of her living in Philly and me in DC, we’ve gotten really good at making the trip and I feel like her friends in Philly are my friends now too! Friday night, we made the trip up I-95N. Saturday included breakfast at Schlesinger’s, a good stretch out at Philly Power Yoga (post coming later this week), a trip down to Lincoln Financial Field to get our race packets, watching the Derby on South Street, and dinner on Rittenhouse Square. Also, Juno was on TV. Whoot whoot! Sunday was, of course, RACE DAY. Here’s how it went.

The race didn’t start until 8:30 pm but you had to take the Broad Street Line subway to get to the start. Races that involve taking public transportation make me nervous (I had an almost calamity at the Baltimore Half Marathon) so we were up and on a train at 6:15 am. We arrived at about 6:40 and then just waited around for almost two hours, which was not my favorite part. Add to that… it was FREEZING and WINDY. Also, they claimed that bag check closed at 8:00 am so I had to part with my warm layers (I should have just done throwaway clothes) for a whole 30 minutes before race start.

321493_10200211867722887_108646946_n

The starting area was CROWDED. Huge lines everywhere, massive crowds trying to move around, and people were getting restless / feisty. It wasn’t my most pleasant pre-race experience. At one point, I was trying to get to my corral and I just stood, stuck in a massive, unmoving crowd for legitimately 15 minutes. I never actually made it to my corral. I saw a break in the fence and just hopped in. The corrals were not being strictly enforced at all anyways, and I was getting cranky so I needed to RUN.

216352_10200211869482931_1286926220_n

Mercifully, I finally crossed the starting line and got going. However, at that exact moment the clouds broke and the sun starting beating down hard. By mile one, I was baking in my long sleeved jacket. I knew I was going to be miserable if I kept it on so I pulled over for a quick minute to remove my layer (I was wearing a tank top underneath), quickly re situate, and get back on the road. I ended up losing about a minute and a half of time, which is fine but kind of annoying. The race course and the crowd support was EXCELLENT. You start all the way up Broad street in North Philly and run a straight shot down Broad, around City Hall, through Center City, and down to the Navy Yard in South Philly.

You know how some days are just great running days? This was not one of those days. My legs just felt tired pretty much the whole race. I was holding a great pace but it felt tough. By mile 5, I was getting tired and I thought to myself “Uh oh, I still have 5 miles to go and I’m already tired.” When I start getting tired during a race, I try and use my ego to my own advantage. I stuck to the outside of the course, so I wouldn’t be tempted to walk in front of all the spectators. Hey, whatever you gotta do right? Coming around City Hall was awesome and I knew that my friends would be on Broad between City Hall and South Street. I saw Sarah (and gave her a high five) but missed Kristy (womp womp). Then it was another ~ 4 miles to go. I was on pace to meet my 10 mile PR from December and, even though I was tired and my knee was starting to hurt a little, I was not going to let up. I kicked it into high gear for the last half a mile and flew to the finish line.

Unfortunately, there was a HUGE backup of people at the finish line, so I was forced to stop completely 1 step across the finish line. Not ideal. I clicked off my watch and didn’t even look at it while I tried to navigate this massive clog of people. When I finally got funneled into the finish area and looked at my watch, I realized that I set a new PR by 4 seconds! 1:31:47 by my clock. However, this is an unofficial PR since my chip time was a 90 seconds longer thanks to my stop to change my shirt. Irritating, but that’s ok. I’ll keep my PR from December for now but I am gunning for a sub 1:30 10 miler this Fall.

I picked up my medal and my finisher food (which was BALLER by the way. Major points for this Broad Street Run. Soft pretzels and a bag of delicious goodies) and made my way into the finish area. If the start area was crowded, the finish area was worse. Mike and I had decided to meet up at the Dunkin Donuts tent. I realized immediately this was a huge mistake, because they were giving out free drink and donut samples. It was mobbed. It took us over 30 minutes to find each other because apparently our bag check bus was late and Mike had to wait for a while to get his cell phone back. After we met up, we took a couple pictures and high tailed it to the subway. Thankfully, that was not as bad as I thought it would be. We got on a train easily and were back in Center City by noon. [As a note, many runners at Broad Street wore Red Socks as a tribute to Boston. It was a really nice touch! And for interested parties, Mike ran approx 1:10. He’s really coming back from his injury and doing great!]

216235_10200211862762763_674717458_n

247543_10200211863722787_1271413783_n

249100_10200211860362703_82479320_n

422047_10200211865482831_1694132824_n

In summation: Broad Street was super fun and energetic! You really get a taste of Philly and that rocks. Logistically, this race is challenging because of the huge crowds and small start / finish areas. I’m so glad we did it and maybe we will in a few years, but not next year.

After bagels and showers back at Sarah’s, we cabbed up to the Northern Liberties for a post race celebration of beer, jenga, and ping pong at Frankford Hall. I wasn’t feeling 100% (I got an exercise induced headache after the race) so I stuck to soda and agreed to be our designated driver. I didn’t mind at all, we had so much fun! By 7 pm, Mike and I were on the road back to DC. We hated to leave Philly (and Sarah) but we’ll be back again VERY soon!

255784_10200212343974793_724534985_n 923424_10200212884108296_301001160_n

Questions for you guys:

  • Have you ever run Broad Street? What did you think?
  • Did you race this weekend?
  • Favorite beer?
Advertisements

Mud Dog Run – Race Recap / Review

This weekend I finally bit the bullet and did my first mud / obstacle race. And let me just… believe they hype because they are SO MUCH FUN. This Saturday, my friend Haley (from Bring it Om) and I participated in the Mud Dog Run at Ceresville Mansion in Frederick, Maryland. This was a 5K race with 21 obstacles throughout. Despite being pretty bruised and scraped up today, I would do it again in a heart beat.

We were running in wave 2, which started at 10:45 am. This made for a VERY leisurely race morning. We left around 9 am and arrived right around 10 am. After signing a pretty extensive waiver, we got our numbers and took the obligatory “pre-race” photo. Mike was, once again, amazing and served as our photographer / bag holder during the race. I wore a super old pair of sneakers that I retired from my running rotation about a year ago. I didn’t mind if they got totally ruined. I decided that the less clothing the better, since I didn’t want to get weighed down in heavy wet clothes. Since Saturday was the one year anniversary of my marathon, I decided to wear my geeky 26.2 tech shirt and spandex shorts. People were wearing all KINDS of awesome costumes. Haley and I always forget to coordinate our outfits or plan costumes … rats.

P1000517

Registration was a breeze and well set up. Since the race went off in waves, there were never big lines for anything (bathrooms, food, beer, NOTHING). I loved this.

P1000518

We watched the winner from wave 1 come across in like 25 minutes, which was pretty impressive. Haley ad I decided that our goal should be to not double his time. Then it was time for us to line up for our wave. This guy led everyone in a little warm up but it was kind of too crowded for everything he wanted us to do. I completely skipped the burpees because I saw like 5 people get kicked in the face. I love burpees but I’ll do them on my own time. The horn sounded and off we went!

P1000520

Very naively, I thought this wouldn’t be that hard. It was only a 5k and you never ran very far without stopping at an obstacle. Built in running break, right? WRONG. It was so much harder than I thought it would be! The obstacles were awesome and SUPER fun, but they were challenging. We ran between every obstacle but at times we were feeling pretty tired! I obviously didn’t bring a camera out on the course with me so I borrowed the following photos from the race’s Facebook page. Photo credits.

301590_278340335527707_1640441892_n 322398_301720269856380_885932723_o 472722_417280371633702_89947645_o 532984_419549111406828_129999683_n 535692_412776862084053_430667320_n

All the obstacles were stupid fun. Some were definitely harder and scarier than others, but we went through every single one! The balance beam was great because almost everyone around us fell in except us! Hooray for yogis who have sweet balance. Before the second mile marker, we ended up kind of adopting this little girl who was out on the course by herself. She ran ahead of her sisters so we kept her with us and helped her through the obstacles. She was so cute. At one point I found myself thinking, “Hmmm I dunno I mean I’m more wet than muddy…” but then in the final 4 obstacles there were two giant MUD PITS. It was like wading through sludge but the hardest part is getting OUT of them. The hills getting out were super steed and completely slick with mud. It was really hard for me to do it and the little girl was totally stuck. We ended up pulling her out of the pit with Haley at the top of the hill holding my ankles, me on my stomach reaching in, and a third person giving the little girl a boost. It was a serious team effort, I loved it!

We got out of the last mud pit, jumped over the fire logs, and headed to the finish line!

P1000521

Mike had a great spot for pictures and got this gem of us crossing the finish line together! 44:29 not too shabby for us! And we met our goal to not double that guy’s time 🙂

P1000522 P1000523

Post race we were looking pretty fantastic with our Mud Dog Run pint glasses (awesome finisher item in my opinion).

P1000525

You can’t really see from the picture but my right knee is actually bleeding. BAD ASS.

P1000527

First order of business was to CHANGE. We went over to the car to peel off our muddy clothes, towel off, and change. Mike was pretty impressed by our ability to change modestly in public with just one towel each. Girls are so multi-talented.

P1000529

After we changed the first order of business was BEER. The race was sponsored by Flying Dog which is one of my FAVORITE beers ever. I had the Woody Creek Belgian Whit and it was… amazeballs. My favorite is the In Heat Wheat Hefeweizen but they didn’t have that at the race.

P1000530 P1000532

We found a couple chairs to plop down and drink our beers. I wasn’t super hungry but Haley and Mike both got the pulled pork sandwich, which was apparently delicious.

P1000533 P1000534

All around… an amazing way to spend a Saturday. We had SO much fun at this race and I can’t wait to do another one. Cleaning up was of course a very different story. I washed my clothes and towel separately TWICE with sport detergent. After a took a shower, I had to then clean the tub with bleach to get all the dirt and mud out. My shoes are outside on the balcony right now and I still haven’t decided what I am going to do with them. I’m thinking let them dry, bang them off, then wash them in the washing machine?

Questions for you guys:

  • Have you ever done a mud / obstacle race before? Which one?
  • What is your favorite beer?
  • How do you get sneakers clean after a mud run?

Fitness Tour of New York City

This weekend I had the distinct pleasure of making a trip up to New York City to visit my many friends who live there. We all went to college in DC, so I thought we’d all hang here after graduation. WRONG. I am the sole DC survivor. But that’s ok 🙂 It just gives me more excuses to travel! I grew up in New Jersey so I went into Manhattan often. However, I’ve gotten a much different appreciation for the city just going to hang out with friends, instead of going for some special event.

I love working out when I travel because it gives me an opportunity to experience different things. I wrote this post forever ago about working out on vacation if you’re interested. You might also remember that I participated in the Run to Recover in Central Park after Hurricane Sandy. This trip I decided to try out some of the classes I’ve been salivating over reading NYC fitness blogs (including Losing Weight in the City and A Healthy, Happier Bear). Here’s what I thought:

Uplift Studios

Source

Saturday morning my bff Sarah and I teamed up and went to the 9:30 am Uplift Strength class at Uplift Studios. This is a women only facility, so we left Mike reading a newspaper in Starbucks. I think he was very happy to not be dragged to a class with me. Here’s what you need to know – if you live in NYC and you are a lady (though I noticed on their website they do have boys night) GET TO UPLIFT IMMEDIATELY. They offered a “first timers” discount of $16 which was amazing. We arrived early because Sarah was on the wait list and the women working at the studio could NOT have been nicer or more accommodating. They got Sarah into the class, which made me a very happy girl. They also provided water bottles, towels, coffee, snacks, phone chargers, locker room products, everything! This is a full service facility.

As far as the workout, I think I might still be sore. We had Michelle as our instructor and she gave one HELL of a class. She was super high energy and provided a superbly efficient workout. We worked each muscle group to fatigue but only performed each individual exercise once. I loved that! Every exercise I could say to myself, you never have to do this again so PUSH IT. Mixed into the class were three rounds of high intensity cardio tabatas (Here’s info on tabatas if you’re not familiar… they rock). I love mixing high intensity cardio in with strength because it makes my heart pump and my whole body pour sweat. I ❤ sweating. The very small class size was ideal for correcting form and not feeling “lost in the crowd”. Also, the music rocked.

Final summation: I will be going back to  Uplift every single time I go to NYC. Besides being ridiculous accommodating on every level, the workout was top notch. In the words of Liz Lemon, “I want to go to there”

Soul Cycle

Source

In the interest of full disclosure, I was a little skeptical going to Soul Cycle. People who attend classes there are SO in love and obsessed with it, I was certain there was no way it was going to live up to the hype. I also was a little shocked by the $34 / class price tag, but I went ahead and signed up for Emma’s 10 am class on Sunday at the E 83rd Street studio. My first impression upon walking in was, “woah, this is a pretty intimidating environment.” However, after I checked in, I felt much more at ease because they guy working there was SUPER nice. He gave me a pair of shoes and directed me to the locker room to drop my stuff. Then began my completely humiliating attempt to figure out how to work their super high tech lockers. I couldn’t figure out which ones were taken or how to work them. Finally, someone helped me. I basically need a babysitter whenever I leave the house.

When I got into the room, I was shocked by how close together the bikes were. I taught Spinning for 5 years and this was new to me! Mercifully, I reserved a bike in the back so I clipped in a prayed to God I didn’t die. Well let me just tell you… this class left me with NO doubt about why people love this so much. At first I was a little thrown off by all the moving around and syncing up as a whole group, but once I got the hang of it I was totally feeding off the energy in the room. It was a dark, sweaty mess in there and I loved EVERY minute of it. Emma was nuts in the  best way possible, dancing all over the place. It was basically a dance party on a bike. I also loved the little strength training part, which we never did when I taught Spinning. It was just something different and I dug it.

Final Summation: Soul Cycle will give you one hell of a workout but it’s going to cost you. If you want to treat yourself though, this class ROCKS. It definitely made me want to check out other cycling facilities in DC too!

Questions for you guys:

– Ever been to Uplift or Soul Cycle? What did you think?

– Do you workout on vacation? Why / Why not? 

St Patrick’s Day 8K Recap / Review

Woohoo racing season is upon us!!! The St. Patrick’s Day 8K has now kicked off my spring racing season for the past three years. It’s a fun race (great excuse to wear green) and 8K is such a manageable distance to wade into the season. However, I’ve never actually “raced” this race before. For whatever reason, there’s always something that makes me do this race “just for fun” and take it really really easy. In some ways I like that about it. Keep this fun race… well… fun! But this is really the only 8K I ever run, so my 8K “PR” is really out of whack for my other race times. But that’s ok 🙂 This year was no exception…

Mike and I met up with my friend Sarah at about 8:30 am (the race started at 9 – major plus of this fun race… doesn’t start too early!). For the second time with this race, I’ve almost overslept / missed it because of daylight savings time. Will I ever learn? Everyone was decked out in their green and fun gear. I always end up wishing I actually took the time to go buy something fun to wear but alas my go to green / white striped arm sleeves will have to do.

photo 1 (1)

We lined up at the balloon arch and before we knew it we were off! Mike went ahead of us and Sarah and I stuck together. Mike has been having major IT band issues, Sarah hasn’t been training much, and I was having some weird ankle pain so needless to say all of us were a little down for the count on this race.

photo 2 (1)

I love the scenery in this race though. It was super sunny or else I would’ve had a PERFECT picture running down Pennsylvania towards the Capitol building. Alas, the sun was too bright so I settled for a distant pic of the Washington Monument. Nothing like a clear DC morning 🙂

photo 3 (1)

Sarah and I stuck together through the majority of the race (4 miles out of 4.98) I haven’t really mastered the art of the self portrait while running. Or really pictures while running I just kind of snap at random and hope for the best.

photo 4 (1)

As we rounded the corner to head back towards the finish line, I was able to snap a decent picture of the Capitol building. My composition could use work but that’s ok 🙂 We caught a glimpse of Mike during on the of the out / back sections and he seemed to be doing pretty well. I was super nervous about his knee injury (his complete refusal to wear green to this race ended up making him SUPER easy to find). I left Sarah at mile 4 and took off for the finish line. I had been keeping a very easy pace so I wanted to really push the last mile just for good measure 😉

photo 5 (1)

As I turned into the final out / back section of the race right before the final stretch of Pennsylvania Ave to the finish line, I saw Mike again. This time he was walking so I knew he wasn’t doing well. Mike is a huge competitor. There is no way he would walk at all (let alone this close to the finish line) unless he was really hurting. I ran harder to catch up with him. I caught him literally a minute before finishing, and made him try to run it in with me. He ended up finishing a few steps behind me and was definitely in a lot of pain… poor guy!

My “official” time was 53:09 which is totally fine by me 🙂 I just love to race, so I definitely don’t make each one a “have to push it to the max” mentality. Eventually the stars will align though and I will actually race an 8K just to see what I am capable of! The spring racing season is officially open and I can’t wait for what this year is going to bring 😀

I was super proud of Sarah for pushing it out on this race and reignited her running flame a bit. I’m so glad I was able to be with her during the race!! I don’t have many friends who run / race so it’s so much when I have a buddy.

photo 2

My armpit sweat is clearly why I never race in cotton shirts, but it was the only clean green shirt I could find!! I turned my arm warming into leg sleeves for a little variety which was definitely fun. There’s Mike in his non-St.Patty’s day gear.

photo 3

photo 1

Quick Race Review! The wonderful folks at Pacers put on this event, and I have expressed my love my pacers in the past. I think they are a great local group that puts on very well organized races. They even upped their game this year with the race shirt (used to be a cotton t-shirt, now its a technical blend t-shirt. Definite improvement). Packet pick up is always exceptionally easy at their stores and this year it happened to coincide with a huge sale (which I totally scored BIG on). Water stops were well stocked, course well marked, and there were plenty of bathrooms. These are very important for a good race 🙂

After we finished they were handing out bottles of water, which was awesome. My one complaint was the lines were RIDICULOUS for the food tent. I didn’t even bother because I wasn’t hungry but I was slightly bummed to not even have a chance to grab a banana or granola bar for later. What was up with these lines??? (in the pic below… we were at the end of the line and the food was in the white tent WAY down the street… definitely did not wait in that line)

photo 4

My favorite part was the Irish dancers by the bag check (which was very smooth as always). I studied abroad in Ireland so I have a soft spot for Irish folk music and dancing 🙂

photo 5

Questions for You Guys:

– Have you ever run at St. Patty’s Day race before?? What did you wear??

– Do you always “race” or do you ever go out just for fun to take it easy? Have you ever raced injured?

Pinterest is Bullying Me… and other thoughts on being a bride

Mike and I have now officially been engaged for 4 weeks. Woah, right? I actually got a new laptop this week (thanks Dad!) and Mike obviously set it up for me because I don’t know how to do it myself. He made himself a profile on the laptop too and I jokingly said, “Who do you think you are??? Setting up a profile on my computer??” and he response was, “Um… like… your future husband?” That was so cute to hear. I’m such a wedding planning novice and I’m definitely feeling pretty out of my element. We haven’t set an official date yet and have only just begun looking at venues. However, I have some feelings and thoughts on being a bride that I thought I’d share with the internets 🙂

1. Pinterest is a bully. I don’t really do the Pinterest thing but I did set up a couple secret boards to share with my friend Elsa. It’s helping me keep track of a couple things I’m finding around the internet. But other than that I’ve really been steering clear of Pinterest for wedding ideas. All it does is make me feel bad that I’m not going to spend the months leading up to the wedding making handmade needle point handkerchiefs to hand out during the ceremony or serving rosemary infused pink lemonade in mason jars wrapped in burlap and raffia during my idyllic outdoor wedding ceremony. I obviously want a beautiful wedding and honestly have so much respect for those wonderfully crafty and talented people who want to do that. But it’s not who I am, and I really don’t want to get bogged down in comparing our wedding to what it “should” be.

Source

2. 90% of wedding dresses are strapless. I don’t know if you’ve taken a look at me recently but I have broader shoulders than your average lady. I look like a middle linebacker for the Miami Dolphins in a strapless dress. Thanks… but no thanks. Thankfully I am noticing somewhat of a trend away from strapless and a lot of really gorgeous offerings within my budget. I have no concept of what I think will look good on my figure, so I have a lot of trying on ahead of me.

3. I think a lot of Bridezillas are just really hungry. For someone who already has body image issues, being a “bride” is an emotional minefield. When I signed up for TheKnot.com, one of the first items on my “to do” list they gave was, “Get in wedding day shape! – eat right, join a gym, or even hire a personal trainer!” (To be clear, my post about getting Lady Ripped is not b/c I want to get in “wedding day shape” I just want to stop having this knee injury flare up). Do I want to look my absolute best for my wedding day? Absolutely! But I want to look my best, not starving. Emotionally, I have been all over the map on this issue for the past 4 weeks. Immediately after we started talking about the wedding, I started feeling my dumb inner voice telling me that I’m fat and I need to lose weight. Think of all the pictures they’re going to take of you! You’re going to look like a beached whale in white! Honestly, I’m nervous about this. I’ve shared these concerns with Mike, my mom, and my MOH because I need their support in the next year. I am committed to not reverting to old, very bad habits, but I’m definitely feeling the pressure. Any words of wisdom?

4. There are only a few things that REALLY matter. I’m thrilled to be planning a wedding with Mike. I couldn’t be luckier to have such a wonderful future husband and future family. No matter what happens on our wedding day, I get to spend every day for the rest of my life with Mike, and that’s the happiest thought of all. My approach to wedding planning is: focus on the things that really matter to me, be flexible on things that don’t, ask for help (especially from my mom), enjoy the process (I’m majorly type A so planning is super fun to me… let’s keep it that way), stick to the budget, stay grounded, simplify, and don’t sweat the small stuff. At the end of the day the only things that matter in the whole world are the four Fs.

This guy (my fiance):

402852_3715276443988_1248771055_n

These three (my family):

547184_3870208437191_1379187765_n

Her (my best friend):

64532_4419521009662_387746923_n

And these two (my faithful felines):

photo (7)

First Wedding Post – The Proposal

I thought I would start off by telling you guys how Mike popped the big question!

The lead up: To be clear, I was completely surprised that he asked me that day, but I knew that he was planning to ask me at some point. We had really been talking about it a lot since the summer. At that point it was more like, this might be like … it? And by the end of October, we were both certain. We talked about it and decided it was the right decision for us.

The Ring: I’ve honestly never really given much thought to my engagement ring before. I’ve thought more about the wedding, but haven’t spent time conceptualizing what kind of ring I wanted. I also felt pretty uncertain about buying a diamond. I feel pretty uncomfortable about the diamond industry worldwide and wasn’t sure I wanted to buy into it. I was just really undecided about it… which is really unusual for me. Then Mike had the perfect solution. His mom, who is potentially one of the most wonderful women I have ever known, offered him her engagement ring if he wanted to give it to me. It had belonged to Mike’s grandmother too, so I am the third generation to wear it. He showed it to my best friend for her seal of approval and she loved it. She also verified it was the right size.

photo (6)

He asked my dad: I know some people don’t believe in this tradition anymore. But Mike and I had talked and he knew it was important to me that he talk to my dad before proposing to me. Unbeknownst to me, Mike asked my dad one morning over Christmas. I went out for a run and he talked to my parents while I was out. He said he wanted to ask my dad in person while he had the opportunity.

The proposal: Ok so you have all the back story. Wednesday night before my birthday (which was on Friday) Mike and I had planned to go out to a nice dinner just the two of us. We like to celebrate holidays just the two of us in some small way. Looking back, some people were acting a LITTLE weird (My best friend asked me twice what I was wearing… which was unusual haha but I didn’t think of it at the time). I met Mike at 6:30 at La Tasca in Chinatown for a glass of sangria. I immediately noticed that he was SUPER dressed up (like slacks, button down, jacket, and a pair of black dress shoes I’ve never once seen him wear). He said he just dressed up because it was my birthday, and I believed him. We went to dinner at Graffiato. Over delicious food and great bottle of wine, we had this amazingly gushy conversation about how happy we were and how much we loved each other. Then he gave me THE SHOES (and a really beautiful birthday card).

photo 1 (1)

After dinner we got frozen yogurt for dessert. I thanked Mike for an amazing birthday celebration and he said “well I have another surprise waiting for you at home”. I was totally shocked! But we took the metro home and Mike asked me to wait in the hall while he checked on his surprise. When I walked into the apartment all the lights were out and there were these awesome electronic candles on (our cats are not exactly candle friendly). There was a huge bouquet of flowers, a bottle of wine, and another card. I thought this was the surprise and thought it was so romantic! Then Mike told me to open the card. On the front it said “I Love You” and the inside said, “I Love Us” and Mike had just written “Forever” in the card. Then he said “I want to be with you forever. So, Christina, will you marry me?” He got down on one knee and had the ring and it was just… perfect.

My thoughts: I couldn’t be happier with how the proposal went. I had made it clear to Mike that I really didn’t want a big production. I definitely didn’t want scoreboards lighting up or skywriting or anything. Plus, Mike is adorably shy sometimes, so if I made him do a big embarrassing spectacle in public he probably would’ve died. This was perfectly us…simple, personal, and private. And the cats were there! But they were terrible celebration partners. I cried SO much after saying yes. It was like it finally hit my like a tidal wave of emotion. I couldn’t believe this moment I had thought about for so long had actually happened. I am also obsessed with my ring. I love the history of love and family that comes with it and the design is gorgeous. Very “my style”. I also love that he involved so many people in our lives. My parents knew, his parents knew, and he planned it with my best friend Sarah. Everyone came to celebrate that weekend too. It was… amazing.

Next Steps: We took a little time just to soak up the engagement moment. But we would like to get married in March of next year, so we really do need to start getting moving on finding a venue. Right now we’re making contacts, setting up appointments, and doing all of that! I am really looking forward to getting a venue. Then I feel like I will be able to start visualizing the event. I’m hopelessly lost on “colors” so I will definitely be looking to the more creative people in my life, like Mike’s mom. My mom and I are all business planner types so we’ve got that logistics on lock down 🙂

I’d love to hear other proposal stories! Please feel free to share them!!

An overdue Housewarming Celebration

So this is REALLY overdue but I wanted to share some photos from our housewarming celebration in November! We had a lovely, small gathering of about 12 friends for brunch on a Sunday. It was really an awesome day! I never entertained more than about 2 – 4 people at a time at my old apartment. It was really small and the kitchen was rough for cooking large meals. With the new apartment being bigger (with a super boss kitchen) I couldn’t wait to get a bigger group together for an afternoon of eating, drinking, football watching, and chatting 🙂

Let’s talk about the most important part though… the food! I wanted to make a “fall inspired salad” so I went hunting around the internet. Interestingly enough, I found this great recipe on the Weight Watchers website. I made several tweaks but used their recipe as my base. I splurged a little and bought pre-cut butternut squash because there are few things that are MORE worth it. Butternut squash is delicious but it is like the demon vegetable. I have almost sliced off a finger, stabbed my cat, and broken up with Mike while attempting to cut / peel a butternut squash. Pre-cut is the way to go! I roasted it in the oven with a ton of rosemary and some olive oil and salt.

SAM_3846SAM_3847

I added some additional vegetables to the salad because we had them on hand and I love salads that are loaded with lots of veggies. I included cherry tomatoes, broccoli, and cucumber. Fig spent the majority of the morning in the sink. I’m not really sure why, he’s totally fascinated with the sink. How cute does he look here???

SAM_3848SAM_3849

The dressing in the recipe called for apricot preserves but I decided against them. I had to buy a whole jar of something, might as well make it something we’ll actually use (apricot preserves… seriously? bleh) TJ’s honey apple butter had a similar sweet / fruity taste, and it’s delicious on toast with peanut butter or stirred into oatmeal. I had to add a lot more apple butter and rice vinegar to the recipe to make enough dressing for all the shallots in there. Instead of adding walnuts, I used a pre-mixed bag of rosemary seasoned pecans and cranberries. Kept with the theme of the salad very well and it was WAY cheaper than buying a bag of walnuts.

SAM_3850SAM_3851

All mixed up and ready to go w/ dressing on the side!

SAM_3854SAM_3872

I also wanted to include some kind of egg dish because, to me, brunch is not complete without eggs. I decided on a veggie egg casserole. I used this recipe for inspiration. but made some changes. I used TJ’s mini sweet peppers, vidalia onion, a bad of frozen broccoli, and a bag of frozen spinach.

SAM_3861SAM_3862

I also added a couple sweet basil pesto chicken sausages we had in the refrigerator.

SAM_3863SAM_3864

And OF course a healthy serving of cheese on top! This recipe was a huge success. I used a TON of eggs (like 18 eggs) but it was a super easy way to make eggs for a big group.

SAM_3865SAM_3866

Anddd at Mike’s request we also served TJ’s pumpkin pancakes. This mix is so good… we are stockpiling it like it’s the freaking apocalypse. I think we currently have 3 boxes of it. Making pancakes for this many people was definitely hard, but Mike was a master pancake flipper.

SAM_3867SAM_3868

Perhaps my favorite part of the day was that I FINALLY got a chance to use my Grandmother’s china. I have had for the past 2.5 years and I have never used it. It just sits in my china cabinet! I was thrilled to have an opportunity to use it.

SAM_3869

Then it came time to set up the drink bar! We served bloody marys and mimosas, which ended up looking great! Plus, we got to use all this stuff we never use… like pitchers and an ice bucket! I should totally use pitchers more… they rock. We made the bloodys make-you-0wn style so people could control the heat. Mike basically dumped half a bottle of hot sauce in his 🙂

SAM_3871SAM_3874

Food was served buffet style, which was perfect! We all just sat around eating, drinking… and well… being merry! My friend Haley was kind enough to bring Cake Love cupcakes which were a HUGE hit.

SAM_3873

I loved having the chance to have friends at our house! When can we do it again??

Being a 20-Something Is… Challenging

Recently, I’ve caught myself in a lot of thoughts that can be basically boiled down to thinking that I struggle uniquely or more intensely than others. But the truth is… I don’t. Do I struggle? Yes. But my struggles are often total cliches, especially when I think that I am alone in my woes. I was spending some time on the metro this morning expressing gratitude (YEP totally started doing it every day… it’s awesome) and I realized just how easy I have it. Then I read this article on Thought Catalog entitled “15 Guaranteed Things That Will Happen To You in Your 20s” and it hit the nail right on the head for me… it’s ALL NORMAL. I’m only 24 (I’ll be 25 in a month though so you know… halfway point of the 20s) and every single thing on this list has already happened to me… (NOTE: I took this text directly from Thought Catalog’s website and it is their original content)

1. Your social circle will narrow. In college, you’ll have lots of acquaintances and party friends but that will dissipate over time. Eventually, you’ll find yourself unable to spark up new friendships simply because you don’t have the time or desire. Now you’ll only make a new friend and let them into your life if you’re absolutely obsessed with them. Originally this made me sad… but now I realize that my friendships are SO MUCH stronger than they used to be. I’m a better friend and my friends are better to me (I had a bad habit of being in really toxic friendships in my younger years). I also really really like all my new friends… I guess you could say I’m obsessed with them.

2. You’ll seriously consider going to grad school. You’ll call your mom up in a panic one day and explain that you’ve always enjoyed something like psychology and, well, maybe it’s time to start entertaining the idea of, um, being a therapist. Mom? Stop sighing! Le sigh… been there. 

3. You will hate your job at some point, even if it’s better than 99% of your other friends’ jobs. You will be overworked and underpaid presumably until you’re 40. Then, you’ll suddenly be overpaid and not do much of anything. Right? That’s how it works? WORD.

4. Someone will betray your trust — a friend or a lover — and it will change the way you view people forever. The hurt is still there but I’ve made my peace with it. I don’t know if it changed the way I view people, but it has certainly affected how I choose friends.

5. You will do things that hurt you just because you’re not ready to feel good yet. The list of things I’ve done to myself is too long to even begin. For the first time in my entire life (and in my entire 20s) I’m in a place where I am ready to feel good and think that I deserve to feel good.

7. After learning your age, someone will say to you, “Wow, you’re so young!” and occasionally you’ll believe them. Yup.

8. You’ll miss certain days before they even end. This line struck me as so poetic and so true. What has surprised me most is that these days aren’t big events. They’re quiet simple days where I snuggle with my cats, drink a great cup of coffee, have an amazing workout, or spend quality time drinking wine and laughing hysterically with my best friend. The day where Mike first told me he loved me is a day I could live over and over and over again.

9. You’ll spend an entire day hungover in bed and nothing will make you feel more like a fucking idiot. Not even taxes or putting the fitted sheet on your bed. Truer words have never been spoken. This has definitely also happened to me way more than once in my 20s.

10. You’ll read a book that will change your life. People say that all the time, especially your grandma and your mom and your professors in college, and it always made you roll your eyes but now you get it. Life is changed. You are this book’s bitch. You fell in love with it in the same way you fell in love with someone in high school: blindly and all-consuming. I’m talking about the book that became the lens from which you chose to see the world. You were just waiting for something to come along and explain to you how the world works, to make it all easier for you. and it came. You will remember this  book more vividly than some of the people you dated for three months in college. I think I’m currently reading that book. I have always been a book lover, but no book has ever inspired such instantaneous changes in my life.

11. You’ll meet people who are vultures, who were literally sent to this world just to annoy you, to work half as hard and somehow become more successful. They’re networking leeches. Don’t take their business card! Save yourself! lol… but yes I know these people.

12. Some days you will wake up and be astounded by how ugly you are. People are always saying things like, “OMG, I look like shit right now!” but they don’t. You’re the one who looks like shit (truly!) so shut up everyone else! My struggles on this one aren’t a secret to… anyone 🙂

13. That being said, there’ll be some days when you look in the mirror and think to yourself, “Okay, I’d fuck me.” That’s good. It’s healthy to want to fuck yourself. I found this particular statement too graphic for my taste, but I appreciate the sentiment. I’m trying to have more days like #13 and less like #12

14. The Internet will hurt your feelings. You will find out information you wish you never knew and maybe you’ll go so far as to even cry! Imagine that: a machine you spent over a grand on is making you weep. Screw the Internet. Facebook can be an evil evil thing.

15. You will understand that the biggest battle you fight in your twenties is the one you’re in with yourself. The most important thing you can learn in this decade is how to love yourself. Without that knowledge, your life will always be a little bit terrible. You will always be dating someone who’s a little bit rotten and you’ll always be working a job that sucks. It affects everything so be sure to make yourself a priority.  Work on liking yourself before working on getting someone else to like you. This pretty much sums up everything I’m trying to work on in my life. Interestingly enough… Mike often thinks he’s “bad with words” or “doesn’t know what to say” when I’m sad. But he said something to me once that was my struggle summed up into one perfect sentence. He said “I wish you loved you as much as I love you”… I bagged a good one 🙂

I don’t really know what the point of this post… this article just struck me in a way that made me want to share it! Back to regularly scheduled stuff now 🙂 Also… the Grammy nominees came out and they’re pretty awesome.

Thoughts of the Week

My bestie Sarah is in town this weekend so you know it’s going to be a good one! There are few things in this world that bring me more happiness than my friendship with Sarah. She’s my other half. Anddd we’re slowly learning more and more every day that Mike is basically the male version of her (they both wanted to be astronauts until they were like 18, they both can’t stomach the thought of unmatched socks…  it’s weird but awesome)

399687_3831151425493_1129066147_n

We are going to see Anna Karenina tonight with some other ladies. I am so pumped. I’ve been waiting for this movie to come out for FOREVER. PLUS it is playing at my favorite movie theater in DC… E Street Cinema. Their popcorn is amazing, they sell beer, and they play awesome indie movies too. It’s my little slice of heaven.

How cute is this picture??? My dad took it at the finish line of the Philly Marathon. I had no idea they were taking pictures of us I was just so relieved that he had finished / accomplished his goal. He’s like… basically my fav. I also jumped a police barrier to get to that spot… come and get me copper!

531112_4443851867084_1678006659_n

Call Me Crazy

I’m going to New York City this weekend.

That’s right… you heard me. Tomorrow afternoon I am getting on Bolt Bus (that I have been assured is actually operating) and I am going to New York City to see my friends. I haven’t been able to get myself together for a trip to New York in over two years, and I’ll be damned if Sandy is going to stop me. Both people who are housing us this weekend have power and water (they live on the Upper East and Upper West sides, thankfully not downtown) so with a little elbow grease, I think we’re gonna pull this off.

WARRIOR MODE

Here’s how I plan to make this happen:

1. Prepare for a long bus trip. It is unclear what kind of traffic we are looking at so even though the bus is scheduled to take about 4 hours, it could be a lot more. Preparations will include dinner / snacks / drinks (potentially alcoholic hehe) and books / movies to watch. Luckily, Mike and I will be together so we have company!

2. Get ready to walk. It is very possible that we will spend a lot of the weekend walking places since the subway is running on very limited service. No worries for me though… since I’m piling on the miles this month anyway. I’m bringing comfy shoes / clothes and packing in a backpack. Urban hiking at its finest.

3. Embrace the situation. I’m going for one reason and one reason only… to see my friends. My life (like most people’s) is BUSY and there are few weekends where this trip is possible. In the words of Tim Gunn… I’m gonna make it work.

Source

The NYC marathon is running (so we won’t be the only people crazy enough to go into New York) and I’m gonna be there with bells on, hanging out and catching up with my friends.

Bring your worst New York… I’m coming for you!