A weekend for the books

With special plans for Friday – I knew my weekend would be off to an awesome start! But little did I know just how epic it would turn out to be…so let’s rewind.

PART 1

As soon as I got engaged, I knew I wanted to ask my Bridemaids to be in my wedding in a special way.  After all, they are there to make sure my day goes by flawlessly and be my encouragement especially through the next 5.5 months of Jay’s deployment.  I knew it was going to be on Valentine’s Day – and waiting to tell them was the hardest part!  I wanted them each to have a special “Valentine” from me, asking them to “Be Mine.”  I looked through Pinterest and Etsy for ideas and found some that were completely over the top – from jewelry to edibles to nights out on the town.  I wanted to keep it simple and classy.  And here’s what I ended up with:

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What do you think? Cute right? Next step was to actually find the roses to which my clever ballad belonged to…

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I bought a “bunch” of 25 roses from Norfolk Wholesale during lunch one day, and was SUPER SURPRISED to find them in my *wedding color.* I had so much fun arranging them in little bud vases, that were actually leftover from my parents wedding over 25 years ago! 25 and 25, do we have a theme going on here? 

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And for the Maid of Honor:

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A bakers dozen! Since the Maid of Honor typically bears the brunt of the organizing responsibilities, I wanted to thank her EARLY on for 1) the support she has given me thus far 2) the incredible Maid of Honor I know she will be! Since she is the only member of my bridal party that doesn’t live in Norfolk, I had to make some delivery arrangements via her doll of a boyfriend, Ryan.  Sure enough, he got on the road early and made it to her apartment in DC by 6 PM, just in time for her to call me with a “YES” before I made the rest of my deliveries…

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From 6 PM to 7 PM when my class started, I made personal deliveries to all Bridesmaids except one, who as on the way back into town.  It was SO sweet to ask them in person, girls who I have been friends with since our preschool days and who were just as excited to be asked as I was to ask them.  Jay’s sister Margaret is also in the wedding, and I surprised her at home just in time for her to be stepping out of the shower, and even have a photo to document! We were certainly be laughing at that one for years to come.

Last stop was to my friend Taylor’s house who is that big sister I NEVER had.  We went to the same high school but it wasn’t until we met at college at UVA that she adopted me as her own.  I have looked up to her ever since.  For her drive, her free spirit, her all around awesomeness and obviously our shared passion for all things active! Taylor is an avid Crossfiter and even completed a Triathlon.  We are looking forward to running our first 1/2 Marathon together in April…and a few other events leading up to the Wedding that are To Be Announced!

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One of my golden rules for life that I adopted from my Dad is “If you are going to do something, do it right.”  I knew I was going all out for the “Ask” for my Bridesmaids, and they were all so appreciative and excited to be asked.  But do you know what the icing on the cake was? HEARING MALES compliment me on a job well done.  One of Taylor’s BFF’s came up to me at the gym this week to tell me how impressed he was and Ryan, Kali’s boyfriend texted me Friday night to tell me how sweet it was to “go all out for her.”  My response? These girls deserved it!

PART 2

And then we fast forward to Saturday night.  Somewhere in between asking Taylor to BMB (be my bridesmaid) and heading back to her apartment (in my old building), I managed to do some yoga, have some R&R and pack a bag for my staycation! Taylor and I had big plans for dressing up and going out (which I don’t seem to have the time for anymore) and also a running group meet up the next morning.  While I only live 10 minutes away, it was WAY more fun to stay in Ghent and have a sleepover :)

The theme was HOLLYWOOD GLAM, and the party was a Mermaid Winery.  Mermaid is an “urban winery” meaning they make their own wine and have a tasting room, but grow the grapes elsewhere.  Because last time I checked, grapes don’t grow in Ghent.   The event was free of charge, glasses of wine were only $3, and there was a costume contest to boot! Now it was only a matter of getting GLAMMED OUT for the red carpet…

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 Taylor’s style was “Cindy Lauper,” complete with a floor length heirloom fur for the sheer fun factor.  This dress was actually a million-dollar dress (in value only) of my mom’s that I wore for my Grandparents 50th anniversary.  Does it look incredible on Taylor OR WHAT?  Needless to say, this dress has seen some majorly fun times!

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I went with an “Old Hollywood” theme, wearing a floor length dress, CURLS and an incredible pair of vintage earrings that I wish I had a better picture of.  The dress is one I wore during my Debutante season and features an open back and stunning mermaid cut, hugging the hips and then fanning out from the knees down.

The night was filled with Paparazzi! We were given roses when we walked in the door, and even had our picture taken with OSCAR:

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Other notable guests included Audrey and Marilyn:

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And you’re dying to know who won the costume contest right? Our own Taylor was not only nominated for the contest but also the runner up! The first place prize was given to those dashing men next to Audrey in the picture above, which was only appropriate given the Valentine’s Day Love is Love theme in celebration of the Supreme Court of VA deeming the ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

Once dressed up, the only place to go is out right? Taylor and I had a blast heading out to our “regular bar” to meet up with a ton of our Crossfit friends…

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I LOVE THESE GIRLS! both new friends and old friends, the night was a success.  Taylor and I felt incredible dressed to the nines and had a blast.  It was certainly a step aside of our “normal thing.”

And how was that running date the next morning? Despite a bit dehydrated – we killed a tough 6 miles! Work hard, play harder right?  Not only do we all have demanding jobs, family and school commitments we have a passion for working out together and encouraging each other. 

While I certainly “played” more than usual this weekend, I am so so glad I got to take advantage of the bonus Monday holiday.  My stay-cation was more fun than I ever imagined, and all of my bridesmaids said YES to boot! With a busy few weeks ahead of me, and wedding planning in full swing, Let. the. games. begin.

 

I’m Registered!

In the midst of a full-time school schedule, a full-time work schedule and a little wedding planning here and there, I just registered for my second half – marathon!  It has been almost three months after my first half-marathon and this time, I have a whole team to train with.  A group of four awesome, strong, successful girls to train for the April 12th Great Dismal Swamp Stomp.

Since my old blog got hacked the week after my first 1/2 marathon, here’s a quick recap:

My birthday was the day of the Anthem Richmond Half-Marathon and couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate turning 25! It was definitely something on my bucket list and I thought Half-Marathon on my 25th, Full-Marathon (26.2) on my 26th.  HAH that definitely will not be happening because after my half I have no desire to run 26 miles EVER and I am getting married on the eve of my 26th birthday!

#1 necessity was having a training buddy, and my friend Brandi stepped up for the role.  Originally she was going to run the full marathon but switched down to the 1/2 mid training, which totally worked out for me!

The plan I used can be found here – let’s just say I roughly followed the plan.  I got in most of the long runs on the weekend, and actually ended up running a 13 miler that week I was supposed to run 10.  Then I tapered for the last two weeks and only ran 6-8 miles at most.  I thought this was important because A) I knew that I could actually run 13 miles come race day and B) I gave my body a break and was fully rested by race-day.

Everything I read recommended that first time half-marathoners run the race just to finish, without a goal or pace in mind.  Again, I roughly followed this advice.  I knew what I was capable of after weeks of training, and while it was hard to admit to anyone besides my other half and #1 Fan, I knew I was going for sub-2 hours.  That is a feat in itself for a lot of even 2nd and 3rd time half-marathoners, but I knew (aka hoped) that given the shape I was in that I could accomplish it.

During training, I had run on hot days, cold days and even hungover days.  but NOTHING could prepare me for running in the rain with soaked shoes.   The weather the morning of the race was absolutely terrible! No sun in sight, and it poured for hours that morning.  Luckily it stopped just in time for us to bust out of the car and make it to the start line.  I registered for a slower corral than I needed, so we slipped into the corral ahead of ours for the start.  Let’s face it – we were ready to go and didn’t want to wait another 2 minutes!

ImageWatch started on time and I “ditched” a lost-and-found sweatshirt I brought for the occasion during the first mile.   During the second mile my left foot plunged into a pothole full of water, and the rest is history.  We ran through downtown, over a bridge and through neighborhoods from miles 3 to 4 and mile 5 is when the bottom dropped out.  Yep, it transitioned from a mist to a downpour pretty quickly.  Soon we were running through the park and I took my energy gel right about mile 7 as we were exiting the park.  Miles 7 to 10 were about picking up my pace.  I lost my running buddy somewhere in the park, as I tried to keep up my speed.  Yes, there was lots of “doing math” in my head to figure out just how fast I needed to keep up to reach my sub- 2 hours goal.  We passed through more neighborhoods filled with gummy bears, shots of whiskey and soda, but I couldn’t even think about stomaching any of that.  Before I knew it a HUGE banner was stretched across the course that said “Only a 5K left!” My recent 5K time was 26 minutes so I knew I could keep up something like that for the remainder.  To make a long story short, those last few miles were KILLER but so filled with adrenaline.  There were a few too many turns during the last mile for my taste, I kept thinking I had made the final turn only to find another.  But finally I saw the last downhill stretch to the finish line, and passed my mom and brother on the way down.  Brandi was a few minutes behind but we quickly found each other at the end of the race.

here we are post race:

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ImageAfter the race my mom, brother, Brandi and went to a birthday brunch at Millie’s.  The meal was delicious, but I couldn’t get warm to save my life! I think it was a combination of wet undergarments and my body’s attempts to regulate its body temperature after two hours in the cold and wetness. 

ImageA little later, after the drive back to Norfolk while I was getting ready for my birthday party I got my results:

 

ImageIt was official! I completed my first half-marathon in under 2 hours :) My watch’s results were not too far off from my official time, but I waited to REALLY celebrate until it was official, with 30 seconds of cushion time to boot!

Needless to say, I was on Cloud 9 for the rest of the day and go to celebrate my birthday, one of my BFF’s birthdays, and my first half-marathon in the books! Other than some leg soreness the day off, general fatigue for a few days and a toe nail that fell off months later (gross, I know) the race was painless and oh so worth it.  So here I am today to announce race #2 :) and my 13 must haves for your first half marathon (in no particular order).

1. A buddy or a few! I repeat: do not attempt alone, you need a training buddy and a support system!

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Kels and Brandi – Post Race Birthday Party

2. GPS Watch – Love love love my Garmin 110.  It’s not the newest or fanciest, but it gets the job done.  It allows me to push myself on those tempo (running for time) runs, and takes a little (or A LOT) of the guess work out of figuring out distances/times/paces etc.

Image3. Tunes – I used Songza a lot and made my own playlist for the 1/2. I will probably use the same one again with a few new songs added for fun.  Simply google “1/2 marathon” playlists and use other people’s lists to make yours…its worth the investment not to have to change songs during the race! Oh, you run without music? All the more power to you. My actual style is one ear bud in, one ear bud out – but on runs with friends (see #1 above), no music required!  Maintaining a conversation while you run = more aerobic activity (and you’re probably not working hard enough!)

4. Protection against the elements – use bodyglide for chafing, get some SPF when you need it and wear a hat! It doesn’t matter if its cold/warm/dry/humid, you need to make sure you will be comfortable.  10 miles of pulling at your clothing or wiping your eyes is not fun!

5. Scenery – trust me, you will not want to run the same route over and over.  Find a park, a long stretch of flat ground, a new loop with a water view or really branch out and hit up your local trails! Whether your race course is hilly or flat, running those hills will rev up your heart rate that much more.  Softer ground = more difficult

6. hydrate hydrate hydrate – not just the few hours before the race, but all day long! Keep that water bottle full and aim for at least a 1/2 ounce per pound of body weight.  I also recommend stopping for water on long runs (helllooo Subway and McDonald’s) because it simulates a race environment.  Practice not over doing it at the water stations when you cannot seem to get enough water to keep going! Brandi also recommended increasing chia seed consumption in the week before the race, and in addition to giving you energy, chia seeds help your body stock up on agua.

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Chia seeds + Juice, Mmm mmm good

7. Fuel – I am no medical professional but I do know that anytime you exercise for more than 1 hour without stocking, you have to replenish the energy sources and sugar depletion.  My solution to this was an energy gel around mile 6-7.  While whole food is always a better option, I couldn’t stomach whole food while I kept running and the gel worked perfectly.  I might try dates or something this time since they are just as portable.  Would definitely love some ideas!  I think whole food is usually best suited for races like Triathalons where you are exercising for 3-4 hours and have somewhere to stash “real food.”

8. A plan – I used this one, and will stick roughly to it this time.  There are lots of Iphone/Ipad apps out there too – go with one that’s not too much of a stretch and works with your schedule.  You will want to make sure you have the time to get in those long runs AND the little ones that seem like a nuisance.

9.  Flexibility – just because you pick a plan doesn’t mean you need to follow it to the T…Since there is some running at Crossfit I considered that one of my recovery runs, and generally stuck to a long run on the weekend and a pace run during the week.  This was a reason I didn’t use an Iphone app for my plan, I didn’t want annoying alerts that I hadn’t completed my workouts since I was flexing some.  Also – I mentioned at the beginning of this post that one of my 10 runs turned into 13 and I skipped my 12.  That’s ok! I followed what my body was telling me and it didn’t fail me.  Listen to yours too :)

10. A fluff week – Make sure you have a few bonus weeks in there, what if you miss a week, get sick, or have one of those “I just can’t motivate my body weekends” and miss a long run.  If you have extra weeks built in, you can throw in a 5K or 10K like the Hal Higdon plan calls for or even have a “run for fun” weekend.  Consider it a treat!

11. Time – How did I almost leave this one out? I waited a few years after college to run my first half-marathon.  My social life needed to be in tact, I needed to get over FOMO and I needed a flexible schedule that would allow me to train on the weekends.  I had to want it to win it! Keep in mind that if you are training in the winter, daylight is working against you and you won’t have those bonus hours that you would normally have training in the summer.  Plan accordingly! That might mean some morning runs thrown in there, or a treadmill run here and there.  Getting in a 6++ mile workout can be a huge challenge when you consider the time to get ready, drive to your route, warm up and drive home.  And trust me, you won’t be too motivated to do anything else for the day after these runs.  Plan on lots of time for recovery, epsom salt baths and just slower moving in general.

12. Crosstraining – I was able to perform really well with less training mileage in general because my body was used to hard workouts.  Strength workouts are equally important as getting in the running – so don’t let yourself fall into the running only trap.  I was doing Crossfit 3-4 times a week in addition to 2 runs.  My goal this time is to through a day of yoga in there, even if it means cutting Crossfit down to 3 days only.

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13. A race! My race happened to be featured in Running World’s top 10 fall races but I didn’t know that until after I signed up.  Usually cost, proximity and date are how I pick a race.  Rock ‘N Roll Marathons are super overpriced and I couldn’t find someone to do the Flying Pirate 1/2 with me…but there’s always next year! Having a running buddy > dressing up like a pirate this year.  Post race parties, perks and beer sponsors are also legitimate reasons to choose a race.  The bottom line is don’t try to train without having a race in mind, it’s like getting in the car to drive without a destination.  You can’t get there with one.  And better than just “having it in mind,” put your money where your mouth is and register.  There’s no turning back after you give out them (credit card) digits!

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Shamrock 10K 2012 Sponsored by Yuengling

Thanks for keepin’ up with me and come along for the ride as I run my 2nd 1/2 Marathon!

 

The Little Things I’m Loving Lately

Because its all about the little things in life.

I started this post a few days ago, tried to post yesterday but didn’t have a stellar internet connection up in the air.  However, I can’t imagine a better time to post it as I am stranded in Atlanta en route to Gulfport for a special send-off.  I can’t lie, a lack of sleep and low blood sugar contributed to some emotionally low moments yesterday.  But after a good nights rest, a few cups of coffee and a fresh coat of mascara I’m ready to venture back out today! GPT or bust.

Without further adieu here goes a few things I am especially “lovin’ lately”:

Satellite Radio:

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A five month subscription to Siris XM for $20? My free trial ended last August – and they have been trying to suck me in ever since! They finally made me an offer I couldn’t pass up.  Love the commercial free music stations, as well as NPR Now.  I listen in my car and through my Sonos music subscription at home.

Finding THE PERFECT birthday card:

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Does that puppy look like Henry or what!?

Repurposed wrapping:

Recycled paper that POPS
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and a Fun tulle bow spiffs up a DIY lamp
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And lastly, restored faith in humanity. After witnessing my fair share of jerkitude yesterday both on the way to the airport and while held up in ATL, I was also the recipient of so much kindness. The “Dad” who offered me help, the old man who carried my bag up the stairs, the woman who gave me a packet of tissues and my companion at the spa who donated her points to me! #winning

Somehow in the midst of being held up in the Atlanta airport for hours, even days for some in the worst storm the southeast has seen in 10 YEARS we managed to make a joke here and there and make light of it…I am so thankful for those who made me laugh and especially the moms who made me OH so grateful to be flying solo and not with child in tow.

And finally I wouldn’t have made it to see the light of day today without the support of my fearless mother for getting me to the airport yesterday morning, friends and family opening their doors for me to stay over last night and my dedicated significant other for reminding me that it’s really NOT the end of the world.

Alright – here goes day 2 security check – in, for the sake of my well being, please say a prayer that I reach my destination today, not only smoothly but more importantly safely. Over and out!

UPDATED TO ADD: and I MADE IT, 24 hours later but safely and the sun was out to boot – peaceful feelings all around.

This week: Highs and Lows

Luckily the lowest parts of my week happened on the tail end of last weekend…and today brought lots of productivity by procrastination.

One of my best friends and I had “big plans” for a study date today – but both found ourselves procrastinating by “being productive” in other ways, organizing, moving furniture, taking inventory, nesting and even (and always) some baking.  Thus “productivity by procrastination.” Its not a bad thing.

A few years ago when I moved into my 1300 sq foot apartment with too few big girl belongings to fill it, I could literally spend hours rearranging furniture, the contents of furniture and other decor like wall coverings.  I absolutely love the term “nesting” and think it describes one of my favorite past times almost perfectly.

Today I put the last of the Christmas decorations away, and went through some of my things in storage to see what I had and what I would need a year from now when I make my first REAL nest.

Since I moved in to my little “studio” apartment in May, I had my most prized possession, my dining room table, functioning as, well, a table – duh.  My living room is right off of my bedroom and contains my couch, TV, sidebar and a few other pieces I will have to post pictures of soon.  The table with six chairs was positioned in the back of the room but generally had only been used as my desk and present wrapping table.  Actually, the one time I had friends over I actually got rid of chairs for the table to serve as as buffet for our munchies for wine night.

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With the beginning of the next school semester upon me, I decided to make this space more of an oversized and comfier desk area.  I hated 1) Having my huge monitor and thus the cables to it and my laptop all over the table and 2) sitting on a stiff dining room chair to do work.  really, I would prefer to have a standing desk.  but that’s not quite possible in my current life.

So, I removed 4 of the chairs from the table, and pushed it (almost) up against the wall.  There is about six inches of space that allow the table to “float” in front of the wall – and allow all of the cords to fall nicely behind and out of sight.

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The huge monitor – which I LOVE – blends in nicely under my beautiful Harborfest 2009 poster (you can’t even see it, RIGHT?)

Sidebar: This poster is one of my favorite things and played a standout role in my last apartment).  See it peeking out at the end of my hallway?

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And the best part of my new set-up? My storage bench turned work bench.  I love that it spans the length of the table, and hides behind the couch.  It allows me to pivot to see the TV or the doorway.  And is SO PLUSH for hours spent at my workstation.  There is plenty of space between the bench and the couch, you know for a quick yoga session now and then ;).

Now that I sit on the long side of the table, I have a ton of room to stretch out.  Wedding material to my left, school work to my left.  Life in perfect balance.

With a wrap on my “productivity by procrastination” Saturday behind me, let’s check out some high/low action this week before I run through a few friends-family-food-and fitness updates!

HIGH – LOWS

Like I said, the worst part of my week was definitely last weekend.  I had just gotten back from Gulfport and jumped headfirst into work and school.  With the anticipation of Jay deploying and uncertainly about scheduling, I just couldn’t get out of my funk…so I basically just went through the motions until Monday when I could get back into the swing of things.

In addition to a hurting heart, for lack of a better explanation, my kindle broke and I got the word from Amazon that they would give me ZERO for it.  1/2 of the screen wasn’t working, so I couldn’t read a book unless I wanted to read between the lines aka read 1/2 of every page and make up other half.  BLEH

I hadn’t intended on posting anything too deep tonight, but I couldn’t mention a “hurting heart” without mentioning a tragedy that hit close to home this week.  Despite my discussion of weekly “lows” and a “funk” I can honestly say that I am in a better place mentally than I have been since high school.  I am not facing less pressure or in any better health physically than I ever have been, but life is so incredibly manageable and gratifying.  I have been in darker places, where my passion for life wasn’t at a consistent all time high.  I felt insecure, hopeless and worthless.  The thought of ending my life never even crossed my mind for a second, but I have on multiple occasions sought professional guidance for different reasons.

So, that being said, I truly believe that mental health is a serious disease, sometimes so deep that even all of the available resources in the world don’t seem like enough to “fix” someone.  A family two blocks away from my home, lost their 15 year-old to suicide this week.  She was an All-star in every sense, attending the same high school as many of my friends but she was faced with a struggle that ultimately led her to end her own life.  I don’t know why it happened or how someone could actually take those steps to end their own life but I do know that she deserved a chance at life just like we all do…she didn’t deserve to be in a place as dark as death with no way to escape.  Her family did not deserve to live with the whys and hows for the rest of their lives on earth without her.

So if you get a moment, give yourself a little check-in.   Express some extra gratitude that you are in a healthy mental health state – or if you are feeling less than healthy, still express some gratitude, and go seek help – in the form of a phone call to a friend, a walk through the great outdoors or even some professional help.  Don’t wait until the weight of the world is unbearable.

And that’s about where the real lows end.  On a much lighter note, here’s my just for kicks my other low:

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1/2 Marathon:1, Toenail #2:0 – Gross, I know but I didn’t say this blog was going to be 100% pretty – just like my cooking! Shortly after my half marathon I was getting myself a manicure when I noticed my second baby toenail had turned blue…but was hoping it was just a little bruised.  Slowly by slowly it started feeling weaker and weaker and I knew it was only a matter of time before I lost it completely! Just a small battle wound to have after a stellar race. Nevertheless I did text my fiance just to be sure:

“Babe – if I only have 9 toenails will you still marry me?”

…..far too long of a pause

“Haha yes I would.” <— he’s the best, right?!

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Meal Prep! Made my life so much easier this week – like I said in a previous post, I made PaleOMG’s 5 Ingredient Spaghetti Pie and Creamy Pumpkin Chicken.   I didn’t take too many pictures…because I am usually eating between working out and class or at my desk at work, but here’s a good close up of the Spaghetti Pie.  both dishes were fantastic!

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*just as notes, I added mushrooms and fresh basil to the Spaghetti Pie and swapped acorn squash for the spaghetti squash in the  Creamy Chicken Casserole Recipe.  Also, let the Spaghetti Pie cook longer than you would think and REST – it shouldn’t be runny in the slightest.

I highly recommend making a few dishes on Sunday meal prep because you definitely don’t want to be eating the same 1 dish for lunch and dinner.  I swapped some and had each for lunch or dinner everyday.  (and a few eats out planned in that I already had scheduled)

Crossfit Yep – that’s a given.  Getting back to Crossfit on Monday made me so so happy.  I missed my coaches, my fellow athletes and lifting some heavy weight.

here’s a little short hand version of my workouts this week (today was a rest day) – my goal was just to not hurt myself during my first week back!

Monday – Squat Complex: 1 Squat Clean, 2 Front Squats x 7 – 63, 73, 83, 93, 93(f), 83, 88
Tuesday – 6 rounds, 30 DU + 15 T2B 14:13 ALL attempts – mainly knee ups
Wednesday – 5x5x5x5x5 Push Press 85# Max – 5# PR – focused on form for the msot part

Thursday – tough one! 1000 row, 21 thrusters (45#) and 21 Pull-Ups, 500 row, 15 thrusters and 15 Pull-Ups, 250 row, 9 thrusters and 9 Pull-Ups

Friday – 6 AM Hot Yoga – Go me!

And tomorrow calls for SOME type of activity – hopefully a run if its not too windy.

My New Toy I’m calling it my Jay-is-going-away-present, but really it is an expensive kindle upgrade.  Wi-fi only, refurbished. Self-explanatory. Thank you to my Uncle Rod and his partner Barry for donating some funds in the form of an American Express gift card.

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Back in high school, maybe even middle school we used to share our highs and lows for the week in youth group as a kind of ice breaker – and as I create my own blog “brand” I think its a perfect conversation starter!  Hope you liked this version of a “check-in” post and that you will comment your own “highs & lows.”

 

Back to the basics – 2014 Preview

While I haven’t had a chance to “backblog” and catch up my blog on the 2nd half of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, I’ve got to start somewhere.  The good news for readers is that we have A LOT to catch up on.  And a lot to look forward to in the next few months.

Just give me two days back in school and reading to procrastinate on to give me a reason to blog…

Certainly the best news of 2013 was that I’m Engaged! And I can’t wait to write a full post on the “Engagement” for sure.  The month since the engagement included some planning, CHRISTMAS + New Years, finishing Downton Abbey Season 3 (obviously) and a road trip to Gulfport by way of Atlanta and Destin Beach.  In what I called our “engagement-moon” Jay and I went to the beach and spent a week in Gulfport doing what we do best…cooking, cuddling and maybe a little cleaning.  We sure are exciting, huh? Oh yea, and a gorgeous day spent in New Orleans to boot.

Girl + her Boy

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Boys (plural)

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And after two Daiquiri filled weekends…it was back to the grind.

Back to school, back to work, back to cooking for 1 and back to the Gym! Jay and I enjoyed some beautiful runs and beach walks…but my body is dying to get back to Crossfit 757.  Tomorrow is the day!  In other news, I started a Whole Life Challenge last week, in hopes of getting back on track after indulging (in JOY) over the holidays.  Do not get me wrong, I enjoyed every day of my month off and was sure to keep myself in track enough to to fall into a poor mental health state.  But with a wedding on the horizon, I cannot afford to gain back the 10, yes 10 pounds I trimmed (read = turned into lean muscle mass) in 2013.  So its back to lifting, to running (maybe another 1/2 marathon in the fall?) and to paleo-ish home cooking!

Here’s whats on the menu this week:

PaleOMG’s (Almost) 5 Ingredient Spaghetti Pie – This has been trending like no other! I had to try.  Added canned diced tomatoes and mushrooms to mine + Italian turkey sausage.  I also used fresh basil which is a HUGE flavor boost.

PaleOMG’s Pumpkin Cream Chicken Casserole

And last but not least a sweet treat to use up some overripe bananas that were CALLING to me from the fruit bowl: Civilized Caveman’s Paleo Banana Bread.

You can’t go wrong with PaleOMG or Civilized Caveman and it is no coincidence that they are joining forces to release a joint cookbook this year, sounds like a blog book review to me!

And for the rest of MY year, here’s a few things I have to look forward to every month to make these last few months as a “single-lady” worthwhile!

January – engage-moon, Gulfport vacay (done and done)…and I think that’s it [MBA classes start day one, not even a syllabus week to look forward to!]

February – Last goodbye to my Jay before I send him off to Cambodia BUT I do have something fun planned for Valentine’s Day ;) And a bridal show with the Mother of the Bride on the 23rd

March – Spring break, a must needed weekend in D.C. and hopefully some dress shopping!

April -  Wedding Planning [Charlottesville 10 Miler], Bridal Shower?

May – Exams + Brother’s Graduation (wahhhh!!) + 1 week at the beach [Elizabeth River Run]

June – Summer Session 1 plus Beach Week part dos [likely CHKD run/walk for kids]

July – Summer Session 2, nothing to look forward to here :( More wedding planning?

August – HE COMES HOME (no more explanation needed)

September – Engagement Party + Final details aka confirming that job relocation I am praying for!

October – CHILL and enjoy engaged life + Fall Break

November – Last minute touches AND IT’S SHOW TIME 11.15.14

December - Graduating (Mrs. MBA to you) and Moving!

I’ll be adding little details here and there to update my year in progress but I’ll leave you with that little skeleton for tonight.

And just in case you needed some cuteness in your life today like I did, I will share a picture of my spontaneous “Golden Meet-Up” today featuring Miss Madison Host, an old man male Golden, and a BABY Golden.

Photo Jan 19, 4 45 09 PM

Henderson Park Inn – Photo Dump Style

Photo Jan 04, 9 33 21 PM

We found this “Inn” just by luck, or just by a last minute reservation an Trip Advisor search.  My one job on our drive to Atlanta was to find a place to stay the following night, and let’s be honest – I have fine tastes…and an incredible Fiance who also appreciates the finer things in life.  Let me just say that they did not disappoint and certainly know customer service.  For anyone interested, winter rates start November 1st! Just in time to soak up some of those late fall rays.  Happy Hour was certainly not too good to be true as I was kind of expecting.  All you can drink beer, wine + specialty drinks (Margaritas night one and Daiqiris night two).  Made to order breakfast included, along with plenty of entertainment in the form of a gorgeous deck with heaters, firepit, hammock’s and DVDs to borrow.  Our only complaint was the SUPER cold tile floor (I guess they haven’t added the heated floors yet, DARN) but they are renovating this month.   Looking forward to (hopefully) returning for a mini-moon in November with my future husband!

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welcome “basket”

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Happy Hour

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Loving Life with the Love of my Life

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Firepit

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Sunset

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LOVE

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too beautiful for words

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