December 23, 2013

Love, Love, Love

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve...which basically means tomorrow is Christmas...since my family celebrates Noche Buena.

Christmas Eve is also the one night of the year that I forgo my vegetarian lifestyle in favor of the delicious roast pork that my mom makes.

I'm usually a giant Grinch at Christmastime but this year, I haven't been a Grinch at all!

I'm not really sure what it is about this year that has gotten me really excited for the holidays. The Pilot loves Christmas. It could be that. It could be that this year was hard in a lot of ways, but also brought a lot of wonderful things and I just know I have a lot to be grateful for.

This weekend, The Pilot was home! He hasn't been home on a weekend all month and we took advantage of the 65 degree temperatures and enjoyed our weekend.

Saturday, we took Peyton out for a looooong walk on the Mount Vernon Trail. We let her run around and roll around in the mud and then promptly walked her to get a bath. We spent the afternoon wrapping Christmas presents and cleaning the apartment and then I went to get a hair cut.

(I'm not sure how I feel about my cut yet. I was trying to keep it long but just wanted some layers and dimensions and I just don't really love it...don't hate it, but don't love it either.)

That evening, we decided to take a drive to the National Harbor to check out Christmas at the Gaylord.

We had gone to the Gaylord in Nashville two years ago for Christmas and their Christmas is way better than DC's Maryland's.

We spent some time walking around the Harbor in the shops and then made our way to Old Town for dinner.

Sunday morning, I had to work my retail job. I got out a little bit early and headed home to finish wrapping presents and clean the apartment. The Pilot and I went to evening Mass and then we had our Christmas party with the kids I volunteer with at church.

We came home and I was in a mad dash to finish cleaning the apartment and pack for the week. We ended the night by watching Home Alone.

Today, I'm working at both of my jobs and then heading up to New Jersey later this evening with The Pilot and The Puppy in tow and well, tomorrow is Christmas!

So that's that! See you on the other side of the holiday! I hope everyone who celebrates has a wonderful Christmas! 

December 20, 2013

2013: Looking Back

2013 has been a whirlwind of a year.

3 days before the start of the year, The Pilot and I packed up and moved to our little apartment in DC.

I love it. I've never been happy living anywhere else. It's true that DC is a transitory city...I've had 3 friends take off and move out of the city just since I moved here...but I have no plans to leave any time soon. In fact, I'm looking to make the move a little bit more permanent and The Pilot and I are saving up to buy property in the District.

Looking back on this year, with all of its ups and downs, I can honestly say that I have never been happier in my life.

I've been at my new job for a month and I work for a wonderful team of incredibly bright people who make coming to work every day tremendously enjoyable.

I have an incredible group of friends, who are always up for doing something interesting...whether it's miniature golfing at a museum, donning hats for the Kentucky Derby party or picnicking on the waterfront.

This year has had its moments...both good and bad, but those are the moments that test us, make us stronger and make us human. Let's take a look back, shall we?

In January, my baby sister turned 16. Just 5 days after moving to DC, The Pilot and I took off to Texas for her Sweet 16.

In March, I ran the DC Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon with Ally and the Marine Corps of the most challenging races I've run, but one of my proudest finishes.

April brought on the tough parts of this year. I unexpectedly lost my godfather and took it pretty hard. I had never even been to a funeral before then and it was really hard. The weekend after his funeral, I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, dedicating the race to him. A few weeks later, I headed to Denver for the world's longest business trip...which brought on the profound realization that I needed to leave my job.

In May, my little brother got married. The Pilot and I headed to Texas for not only the wedding, but for a giant family reunion, in which my six siblings and I all got together for the first time in 13 years.

June brought the start of a 30 Day Yoga Challenge...and my first running injury. 19 days into the challenge, I headed out for a run home from work and had to stop half way through it because of knee pain. Whether I was doing too much with running and yoga or the three marathons I ran in 2012 were finally catching up with me, my first running injury had come and has yet to go.

In July, my mom and I took a trip out west for a wedding. Two weeks later, The Pilot and I went for an evening stroll around the monuments and he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. 

As you know, I said Yes. 
September was a loaded month. The Pilot and I made our way to Texas for the third time this year for an engagement party hosted by my dad. While The Pilot and I got busy planning our wedding, I made the tough decisions to drop out of the Marine Corps Marathon and quit my job. At the end of the month, my grandfather, who had long been struggling with Alzheimer's, took a turn for the worst and in October we lost him.

In November, The Pilot and I dove head first into wedding planning and I was offered my new job. I started just before Thanksgiving and dove head first into the organization's busiest time of the year.

This December has brought some adjusting, getting back into the routine of having a full time job, the start of physical therapy and looking forward to the New Year. This time last year, I was gearing up for my big move to DC and I'm happy to say that I've settled in quite comfortably.

This wasn't the year I hoped it would be in terms of racing and losing two family members was tremendously difficult, but if this year has shown me anything, it's shown me true love. When The Pilot and I announced our engagement, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love shown to us by our family and friends. Through two funerals, I was again overwhelmed by love from family and friends. Reuniting with my siblings this year was an unbelievably special moment and I can't wait to do it again at my own wedding next year.

2013 wasn't easy, but I will say this. I grew up a lot this year. I have a saying that I'm getting younger every day, and I'll say that as long as I live, but this year, I learned a lot about life. I grew up a lot. I felt 26 and while I still have a lot of living and learning to do, I'm going to continue to do it with the getting-younger-every-day approach, because of everything I've learned this year, the most important thing is just how precious life is.

How did your year turn out? What lessons did you learn and what are you looking forward to for 2014?

December 19, 2013

Three Things Thursday

1. Physical Therapy - I started PT on Tuesday for my knee. My therapist says my biggest issues are inflexibility and weak hips, so that's what we're working on to get me running again. I'm kicking off a 30 Day Yoga Challenge in January (hopefully making it past Day 19 this time) in the hopes that that, along with PT, will aid in flexibility. There's a new spins studio opening up near my job in January, so I'm hoping to spin at least once a week, do yoga and PT and be back on the pavement in early Feb and training for Nike Women's. Optimistic? Yes. Realistic? I think so.

2. Vacation - I started my job exactly one month ago and I'm tremendously fortunate to work for an organization that gives us the entire week between Christmas and New Year's off. At my last job, I would have had to work until 5:30 on Christmas Eve and been back the to work on December 26. I'm so so happy that I'll get to take this week off, without using any vacation time, especially since I haven't accrued any vacation time and I'm trying to save what I do get for the wedding!

Other than heading up to my Mom's, I have no idea what I'm doing for said vacation but I'm totally ok with that.

3. Goals/Accomplishments - I'm putting together my 2014 Goals and 2013 Review and should have them up in the next few days. It's always so interesting to review the year and look forward to next year. 2013 was such an eventful year...for good things as well as bad and 2014 is just going to be a whirlwind, I about big life changes! But it's all really exciting!

December 17, 2013

Love/Don't Love

1. Even though I worked on Saturday, I still feel like I finally had a weekend...for the first time in ages. Love.
2. After my "I'm in a Slump" post, I feel like I'm getting my life back in order. My apartment is on its way to being clean, Christmas presents are all shopped for (just one DIY gift and I'm all set) and I've finally started working out again. Love.
3. I started Physical Therapy for my knee this morning and my back is killing me. I have no idea if it was last night's hot yoga with Megan or the PT exercises, but I'm super sore. Don't Love.
4. Yes, I went to yoga last night. Sunday, I did the elliptical for 30 minutes. After not being physically active for 3 weeks, I was getting antsy, so I'm committing to at least 30 minutes of exercise between now and the end of the year. Love.

On that note, does PT count? Do I still have to work out today? I'm tired.

5. Sunday night, I went to bed and didn't fall asleep until around 5am. Last night, I went to bed at 10 and woke up again at 2am and didn't fall asleep until about 15 minutes before my alarm went off. I'm exhausted. Don't Love.
6. Saturday night, I was planning to stay in and veg out in sweatpants. Megan texted and invited me over to share a bottle of wine. We watched The Parent Trap (Lindsay Lohan's version) and drank the wine. Then, I went to my apartment and made banana bread...which rose and spilled out onto my oven leaving my apartment with that terrible something-burned-at-the-bottom-of-the-oven-smell that is awful. Love/Don't Love.

7. This morning, I finished Shanghai Girls, the book I posted about last week, and it was just as good at the end as it was when I wrote about it last week. I highly recommend this book. It was sad, but in the way that demonstrates pure and utter resilience. I love those kinds of stories. Love.
8. I'm hoping to start working on a 2014 Goals post this week...despite the fact that my 2013 Goals didn't go so well, but in racing news (haven't talked about that in awhile!), I got into the lotteries for both the Nike Women's Half Marathon and the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, both here in DC, both next April. Love.

This basically means I can start talking about running again.
I mean, this is a running blog after all!

9. There was a small fire in my apartment building last week. Everything was fine but Peyton was terrified. Since we had to go outside in the cold in the middle of the night, she was super cold when we got back in, so she slept with a blanket that night and it was adorable. Love.

*Note: She does not wear a sweater or a coat when she goes outside. The Pilot tried to get her to wear one and she ate it. I get really angry when people tell me that I'm cruel for not putting a sweater on her when she goes outside.

So that's what's going on over here!
1 week till Christmas!

December 12, 2013

Wedding Things III: Saving the Date

When we got engaged, there were two things I absolutely didn't want to do: take engagement photos and send Save the Dates.

In my opinion, these were just extra things that cost a lot more money that I would rather save. 

When we decided to get married in DC and set our date over a year out though, I realized that we would need to let everyone know when the big day was so that our friends and family traveling from far off places (Hawaii, North Dakota, California...) could plan accordingly. 

The Pilot wanted to send magnets. So, I reached out to my sister who is incredibly creative with things like this and she started working on some designs. 

While we aren't having a DC themed wedding, we wanted our Save the Dates to be all about DC since about 90% of our guests have never been here. 

My idea was to take one of our many, many pictures of us here in DC and stick it on a magnet. We decided to use Vistaprint to do all of the printing to keep the costs minimal. 

Once we finalized the design, my sister converted them to the necessary format, only to get a message that our picture wasn't a high enough quality for mass reproduction. The only solution was to take an engagement photo.

We reached out to our friend Kris, one of The Pilot's fraternity brothers, who has a knack for photography and asked him to get a couple of nice photos of us on the Mall so that we could pick one. He offered to do it for free (despite our offerings to buy him alcohol in return) and we headed out to the Mall one Friday afternoon in October to take some pictures.

We started at the Capitol.

Made our way over across the Mall.

Took a few shots at the World War II Memorial where we got engaged.

Finished at the Lincoln Memorial, and called it a day.

We were really happy with the way our pictures turned out and when we sent them to Vistaprint, they were running some really great promotions and we ended up getting 100 of them (which was all we needed) for $60. They were in our apartment in less than a week! They came out great and we were so happy with them!

The envelopes came free with Vistaprint and I downloaded a pretty font and made labels. I ordered this return address label from Etsy and was really happy with the way it came out!

While I didn't want to bother with Save the Dates or Engagement Photos, I'm really happy that we did both, especially since it didn't set us back at all! Sure, it was a bit more work to do them ourselves, but saving the money made it well worth it!

So, our Save the Dates have been sent and wedding planning is on hiatus until after Christmas!

December 11, 2013


Reading: "Shanghai Girls" by Lisa See. I have read some unbelievable books this year and I've tried (very unsuccessfully) to keep track of them. I read Lisa See's other book, "Snowflower and the Secret Fan" earlier this year and loved it. This book isn't disappointing at all. It offers the same premise of overcoming all adversity, but in a much different sense than Snowflower. The story tells of two sisters living in Shanghai who are married off to Chinese-Americans living in Los Angeles to pay off their father's debt. The story is remarkable and it's definitely a page-turner.

Eating Drinking: My morning coffee. Homemade with pumpkin spice creamer. I typically switch to Peppermint Mocha once December rolls around but I have just a little bit of Pumpkin Spice left before I can switch to holiday coffees.

Watching: ABC's 25 Days of Christmas on repeat...which I should just stop doing. I think they've shown How the Grinch Stole Christmas about 25 times. Not to mention the two abysmal Jenny McCarthy/Jenny Garth movies they have. There are much better Christmas movies out there...and a lot more that they don't need to show The Grinch 25 times. #endrant

Missing: Working out. The Pilot. Ugh. It's been three weeks since I've done any form of exercise. I don't want to talk about it. The good thing is I'm actually motivated now, rather than just lazy. Working two jobs has basically left me with zero time for myself. Throw in The Pilot's schedule, and I'm not seeing much of him either. I think Sunday morning might be the perfect time to drag him out on a run with me =)

Anticipating: Christmas. It's already two weeks away. This month has moved pretty quickly. I still have some shopping to finish, but other than that, I'm looking forward to heading home for the holidays and having a week off from work.

Wishing For: Nothing at all. I've got everything I want right now.

Loving: My new job. It's a little bit stressful and a little overwhelming and I'm still trying to find my rhythm but I love it. I love the work, I love the people and I love that I'm happy there.

Listening To: Ingrid Michaelson on repeat. I love her.

So that's what's going on in my neck of the woods. I just found out my yoga studio is kicking off another 30 Day Challenge in January. Since I never actually got around to my full 30 days this year (only made it to 19 before my knee injury), I'm committing to 30 days in January. It's going to be fantastic.

What's on your 'Currently' list?

December 5, 2013

I'm in a slump

I think I've worked out a total of three times in the last month.

My apartment is an absolute disaster.

I haven't gone grocery shopping in close to a month and I don't think I've sat down and planned my meals since June.

What in the world is going on?!

I know how it all started. When I quit my job and moved over to retail temporarily, my hours were horrific. I had to be up at 5:30am just to get to work. I would get home at 5pm after being on my feet for 9 hours straight and basically collapse onto my couch for the rest of the evening. I had absolutely no energy to do anything. This job was sucking the life out of me. Then, Daylight Saving Time rolled around, eliminating what little chance there was of me working out after work.

As for my apartment? I haven't bought a lot of clothes in the last few all. A few tops here and a couple of new work pants there, but we don't really have a dresser and lately, it's just in piles...on the floor, on top of the closet, in the living room...everywhere. It took me twenty minutes to find a pair of leggings this morning and that was it. This weekend, I'm buying a dresser. There is no way around it. I can't handle having a messy apartment. I'm way too much of a neat freak for that and right now, I don't even want to be in my apartment, it's that bad.

Again, when you work 50 hours per week and you're on your feet for those 50 hours, you have very little energy to come home and clean.

As for grocery shopping? Ugh. I like Trader Joe's. It's the only place I really like to shop. I like the food, I like the prices, it's where I want to shop. However, I don't have a car, which means that to get to Trader Joe's when The Pilot isn't around, I have to switch lines on the Metro. Since I usually do my grocery shopping on the weekends, this means it can be up to two hours round trip (for a 10 minute ride) because the DC Metro and the Orange Line in particular are absolute freaking disasters.

Aside from that, it's really hard to cook in a vegetarian/non-vegetarian household...especially when The Pilot hates quinoa. So, I need to start getting really creative about cooking. Since he's only home 3-4 days a week, this shouldn't be that complicated.

I know that all of these sound like excuses, especially now that I'm not working retail anymore and haven't been for three weeks. So guess what I'll be doing this weekend?

Working out. I haven't started PT yet so I probably shouldn't be running, but my yoga studio (remember when I was going to yoga every single day) is running a special on 10 class packages right now and I think I'm going to start with that).

I'm going to buy a dresser and reorganize my entire apartment...including my pantry and refrigerator...when will then be fully stocked with things ready to be cooked.

I'm going to prep food for the week. Slice veggies, make food, etc. I did that once this year. It took all day on Sunday, but it was so worth it. I had so much extra time over the next week, that I know I need to start doing that.

So, there you have it. I love my new job. I'm happy. I just need to get my life a little organized and start working out again (it's really easy to make excuses when you're injured) and I'll be set.

Any tips for getting out of these types of slumps? Any recommendations for recipes that are easily interchangeable as veg/non-veg?

Happy Thursday!

December 3, 2013

If You Aren't Happy

I knew long before I actually moved to DC that I wanted to move to DC. This wasn't a matter of if, it was a matter of when.

When I finally got the call that I had been offered a job, I was ecstatic. It was two weeks before Christmas and I threw myself into the big move.

Three weeks into said job, I knew I didn't like it. I was happy enough, but I knew it wasn't a good fit for me. By April, I was miserable. I threw myself into the job search and waited. I went on a few different interviews and none of them panned out.

I woke up one morning in August and realized that I was absolutely miserable. I was so unbelievably unhappy. I had gotten engaged three weeks before, and I still had this cloud hanging over my head. This was supposed to be the best and happiest time of my life, and I was coming home from work, nearly (and very often) in tears almost every day because of what was going on at work.

Something needed to change. My dad always taught me that if you aren't happy, do whatever you can to change your situation. The problem was, I couldn't just quit my job and nothing was panning out for me. Here I was, applying to at least a dozen jobs a week, and nothing was working out. I reached my breaking point at the beginning of September at my job and put in an application to work as a manager at a running store here in DC. Three weeks later, I put in my resignation.

It was terrifying. The retail job paid significantly more money than what I was making at my other job...which should give you an indication about that position...but I was absolutely terrified that I was committing career suicide. Retail was supposed to be temporary, but what if it wasn't? Here I am, paying off thousands of dollars in student loans for a Master's degree that I wasn't putting to use. It was all incredibly stressful and terrifying, but at the end of the day, I just couldn't be that unhappy anymore.

I started at the running store in October and was offered an interview that same week, for the job I'm now at. Part of the reason I'm still working retail is because I didn't want to leave them without a manager going into the holidays and they were more than happy to be flexible with my schedule, not to mention that the extra cash is nice this time of year.

So why am I telling you all of this? Well, for starters, this post was supposed to be about how I've completely fallen off the workout wagon in a way I never have and it's affecting my mood and I need some motivation...somehow it turned into this. The bottom line though...if you aren't happy, change your situation. If your situation is so bad, that it's affecting your ability to be happy in your life outside of the 9-5, then it isn't worth it because eventually, that negativity is going to spill over into the good things in your life, and then you're really in trouble.

I've been at my new job for two weeks now and I absolutely love it...everything about it and it feels so, so good. I love the people I work with, I love what I'm doing and I love that I can be happy outside of work because I don't have this dark shadow hanging over me anymore. It's a wonderful feeling. It came out of a lot of stress and a lot of tears, and a lot of big, scary things, but it's all turned out just always does, doesn't it?

December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving Weekend

This year, for Thanksgiving, The Pilot had to fly. Not wanting to be alone and not really wanting to travel, I convinced my mom to come join me for a quiet Thanksgiving in DC. It was perfect.

She came in on Wednesday night and we ordered food and stayed up talking, looking at bridal magazines and watching TV.

Thursday morning, we woke up and made cinnamon rolls and mimosas while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (our long standing tradition).

I had learned just a few days before that the Smithsonian museums are open on Thanksgiving Day, so after breakfast and the parade, Mom and I headed down to the Mall. We sat and drank hot chocolate while watching all of the ice skaters at the Sculpture Garden and then we went to the American History Museum.

After museum browsing for a few hours, we made our way over to Lincoln where we had a Thanskgiving Feast.

It was perfect. I know the idea of going out for Thanksgiving is really bizarre to some people, but my family has just never really done a big Thanksgiving. It was so nice to just have that time with my mom - just the two of us. The food was spectacular and I loved every second of it.

Friday morning, we were up bright and early to try on wedding dresses! We had gone once before and by the end of that round, I realized that I wanted something completely different than I what I thought I wanted, so we went to try on different types of dresses. After we left the bridal salon, we walked up King Street in Old Town, browsing through all of the shops and such before heading over to Chinatown to check out the Holiday Markets.

We had lunch in Chinatown and then headed to World Market for some holiday shopping before heading home. Mom was leaving on Friday night to head back home so we just vegged out for a bit before she left.

Saturday, I had to work my retail job all day but met up with Jenna and Teri for Saturday Happy Hour afterward. I had to work again on Sunday morning but was out in time to head home and so that The Pilot and I could put up our Christmas tree!

Last week, I came home from work to a number of boxes that I hadn't been expecting. My future in-laws, knowing that it was our first Christmas together and that Christmas decorations are expensive, sent us a tree, lights, ornaments and an angel. It was so unbelievably thoughtful and I'ms so grateful that we have a beautiful Christmas tree...and didn't have to spend a fortune on it!

We put up our tree and then went to see The Hunger Games (which I loved...not as much as the first one though), came home, finished decorating our tee while eating chocolate chip cookies, drinking hot chocolate and watching The Grinch on ABC Family.

All in all, it was a pretty perfect weekend and I couldn't have asked for a better one. I'm grateful for the long weekend (even though I worked for part of it) and am ready to kick off the holidays!

How was your Thanksgiving?
Have you ever gone out for Thanksgiving dinner or are you a traditionalist?
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