Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Why We Go Out on Thanksgiving

This is the third consecutive year that I'll be going out to dinner for Thanksgiving.

When I tell people this,  I'm met with some really mixed reactions.

"We can squeeze you in for dinner!"
"Why don't you come to my house?"
"But it's Thanksgiving!"

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the invitations to friends' Thanksgivings, but I like going out to eat.

Thanksgiving has never been a big tradition in my family. I honestly don't have any Thanksgiving memories growing up. It's not that we never celebrated it, it just wasn't really a big holiday for us the way it is for a lot of people.

Growing up in Texas, we used to spend the holiday with a friend of my mom's. I don't really remember what we ever did after we moved to New Jersey.

For the last three years, my mom has come to DC for Thanksgiving. We've woken up, eaten cinnamon rolls and watched the parade while drinking mimosas. We head to the National Mall and visit one or two of the museums and then we go out to dinner. One year, we went to Lincoln. Last year, we went to Jackson 20 in Old Town. This year, we're trying somewhere new.

I love this tradition. This year will be Year 3 and I wouldn't change a thing.  It would be better if The Pilot could join us, but I love it. As much as I love to travel, and as much as I love to cook, I like our Thanksgiving just the way it is.

When friends and co-workers find out what my Thanksgiving plans are, a lot of them feel bad, but I can tell you, there's absolutely no reason to. Sure, we don't have the most traditional Thanksgiving, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Is there a holiday that you celebrate somewhat nontraditionally?
Have you ever gone out to eat for a major holiday?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Coffee Date: Thanksgiving Week Edition

Good Morning friends! Since I completely disappeared from social media last week, I thought we'd have a coffee date and catch up! I'm drinking a cup of home brewed coffee and eating some pumpkin banana bread that I whipped up last night while getting ready for work. 

If you were joining me, here's what I would tell you:

I came home from St. Louis with a terrible cold. I stayed home from work on Monday but didn't really start feeling better until Thursday. I still have a bad cough, but am otherwise on the upswing.

I would tell you that work has been crazy. I work in nonprofit fundraising so it's my busy season, but busy hasn't even covered it. I didn't eat lunch until 4:00 on Wednesday!

I would tell you that my mom is coming down for Thanksgiving. We're sticking to our new-ish tradition of watching the parade, visiting one of the museums, and then going out to dinner. The Pilot may or may not be flying. I'm excited for another low key Thanksgiving with my mom in town.

I would tell you that I spent all day yesterday doing stuff around the house, doing some baking, and watching The Food Network and now I want to bake every day for the rest of the year. I seriously LOVE baking.

That's really all that's going on with me! 
How are you spending Thanksgiving?
Are you traveling? Cooking? What's on your menu?

Monday, November 16, 2015

How I Fell in Love with St. Louis

Last week, I headed to St. Louis for a conference. The conference didn't start until Thursday morning so I flew in early Wednesday and spent the day exploring. It was a cloudy, overcast day, but I was staying right downtown so I took advantage of being right in the middle of everything to try and see as much as I could!

The conference was scheduled for Thursday, Friday, and most of Saturday morning, but I tried to fit in as much exploring as I could! So as soon as I got off the plane and checked into my hotel, I grabbed some breakfast and a cup of coffee and headed out to see as much of the city as I could!

First up, The Gateway Arch - The Gateway Arch is one of the most iconic monuments in the country and it didn't disappoint. Towering over the city, the Arch is built so that no matter which way you're looking at it, you still have the ability to look through it. I couldn't help taking a snapshot of the Arch from a dozen different angles at every time of day!

The Arch just celebrated its 50th anniversary two weeks ago and several people had told me it was a must to go to the top of the Arch. I was shocked when I got there to realize that I wouldn't be taking stairs or an elevator up, I'd be taking a teeny, tiny little tram that takes you the 3-minute ride up to the top! The view from the top offers a great view over the Old Courthouse, the City Garden, and Busch Stadium.

City Garden - This public sculpture garden in the middle of the city is perfect for walking around with a cup of coffee, which I grabbed from 6 North Cafe.

The Old Courthouse - The Old Courthouse is the courthouse where Dred Scott case was first tried and it was beautiful! They've turned it into a museum with a few different exhibits (including one about Dred Scott) and I spent some time there while waiting for my turn to go up the Arch. (You pick up your tickets at the Old Courthouse.)

Busch Stadium - Of course I couldn't take a trip to St. Louis without taking a tour of Busch Stadium! I actually didn't think I was going to have time for it, but I landed Wednesday morning with enough time to spare before the 12:30 tour. The Cardinals' Stadium is one of the eight remaining ballparks I have yet to visit. When I walked into the stadium, I thought, "Here we go, Ballpark #23" but after the tour, I don't think it counts as much. I've taken tours of Nationals Park and US Cellular Field, and in both of them, we saw the whole stadium. The tour of Busch was great and really dived into the history of St. Louis baseball, but we didn't leave the area behind home plate. We saw the Cardinals Club and the Redbird Club (aka places that  I will never sit in at a baseball game), went onto the field and into the dugout, and visited the press box, but I didn't really feel like I saw the stadium, so that was a little disappointing.

After my day of sightseeing, I went for a run and got caught in a downpour a mile from my hotel. It was super cold out and I'm pretty sure that that mile run is the reason I'm now nursing a really bad cold. I brought my phone along on my run and snapped some pictures along the way.

That wrapped up my first day in St. Louis, but here are some other things I did while I was there.
  • Central West End - Sara recommended CWE as a great neighborhood for dinner and I made my way there on Thursday after the conference for dinner. I ate at this adorable little restaurant called Wildflower and sat at the bar. The food was incredible, the bartenders were really nice, and the chef even came out to say hello.
  • 360 - the rooftop bar at the downtown Hilton, with gorgeous views of the Arch.
  • Gooey Butter Cake - I've seen this stuff all over Pinterest and never knew it was a St. Louis treat until I was there, so of course, I had to try it! I stopped by Park Avenue Coffee for a slice of the traditional cake and I wasn't disappointed! I can't wait to try out one of those Pinterest recipes!
  • Laclede's Landing - St. Louis's historic district with a bunch of bars and restaurants.
  • Venice and Frazer's - Sara and I met up on Friday night for drinks at Venice (such a fun, eclectic bar!) and dinner at Frazer's (incredible cheese plate, even better food!) in Benton Park. We had an amazing time catching up and I loved that she showed me her favorite parts of St. Louis!
  • Mud House - I found this place because it was the only thing open at 7 am on Saturday. My brother called me Friday night because he was road tripping to Chicago with his team and due to arrive in STL around 7 am so of course, we met up for breakfast before he dropped me off at the conference and hit the road again! Mud House is a cheap, counter-service, breakfast spot with exceptionally good food and coffee.

I fell in love with St. Louis and I will definitely be back! There were some things I didn't get to do that I would have loved to - the Budweiser Factory, Forrest Park, and the City Museum -but I just didn't have time. 

Have you been to St. Louis? 
What are some things that you would add to this list?
If you haven't been there, do you think you'd visit now?

Thursday, November 12, 2015


In... St. Louis! It's my first time here and this city is kind of awesome!

Feeling... like myself again. I ran for the second time after Chicago yesterday and it was great. 3 easy miles touring St. Louis and getting caught in the felt great to be running again and I know that taking a month off was the best thing for me.

Reading... "The Sun Also Rises" by Ernest Hemingway.

Watching... "Once Upon a Time" and "Master Chef Junior." MCJ premiered on Friday. I freaking love this show and am constantly amazed at what these children can do. An 8-year-old made a burger using two different kinds of meat...I've never even heard of that. I also cry every time they do.

Thinking about... blogging. I've had this blog for 5 years now and I definitely haven't been able so spend as much time with it this year as I would like. (Case in point: It took me almost 2 months to get my Lisbon and Hawaii posts up). Last night, I listened to the Blogging, Business and Balance webinar by Helene and Taylor and it was awesome! I definitely learned a lot of tricks to balance working full time with blogging.

Needing... to get a new passport. My passport is the only thing I haven't changed my name on. I was holding out because, for two years, I've had ONE empty page in my passport that no country would stamp and I finally got the last page filled in Dubai last month. The problem is...I'm so terrified of not having a passport for a few weeks that I don't want to do it.

Wanting... to go to Germany and see the Christmas markets. The Pilot hasn't gotten his December schedule yet so it's up in the air whether we'll be able to go or not but it's high on my list for the end of this year!

Working on... my blog redesign. I'm hoping to have it launched by the end of this month!

Loving... Junior League. I've made some awesome friends so far and I'm loving my first year!

Alright your turn! Pick three of the above 'Currently...' items and let me know what they are for you!
Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

If We Were Having Coffee...

Good Morning!

I'm sitting here enjoying a cup of home-brewed French Roast coffee so I thought I'd write a coffee date post to catch you all up on what I've been doing.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I've only run once since Chicago. Training was tough, and the race was equally hard. I didn't mean to take this much time off, but I just haven't felt like running. I need to start thinking about my training strategy for 2016 and then build my races around that, and that means, getting back on the road and in the gym soon.

I would tell you that I went home this weekend to see my mom for her birthday. I honestly can't remember the last time I went home and it was so good to be there. Due to a delayed flight, I got in really late on Friday and we were up super early Saturday morning to drive to New York for a special friends and family screening of the new Peanuts movie! My cousin, Jen, works for Blue Sky Studios and got to work on the film! If you're a Charlie Brown fan, see this movie, it didn't disappoint!

I would tell you that I've started working on my blog design, except I've run into a little hiccup with the template I bought and the color scheme. If anyone out there can help me with some HTML stuff, please let me know!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I'm a little bit behind on my 2015 Book Challenge, but I think I'll finish! I have 14 books left and I'm in the middle of two. (I never read more than one book at a time but one of them - a nonfiction - is just dragging, so I picked up a fiction book to read at the same time.)

I would tell you that I'm starting to think a lot about 2016 and what it's going to look like.

I would also tell you that I'm really annoyed that I saw my first Christmas commercial before Halloween.

I'm heading to St. Louis this week for a conference. I've never been there before so if anyone has any recommendations for restaurants or things to see, let me know!

So tell me...

  • Have you seen Peanuts?
  • What are your thoughts on Christmas coming early? Has your tree been up for weeks or do you wish the holiday season actually took place during the holiday season?
  • Have you been to St. Louis? What should I see or do there?