March 31, 2015

March Finds

I couldn't be happier to see the end of March. With more snow, miserable weather and the first month of the year without a federal holiday, March is easily my least favorite month. Here are a few links though that provided me some entertainment over the course of the month! Enjoy!

This DIY Transparent Clutch from my friend Sara. My first thought was, "Why would you want anyone to see everything in your bag?" Then, I immediately thought that this would be perfect for baseball games! With opening day just 6 (!) days away, I definitely think I'm going to have to make this so I can speed through security lines at the ball park!

My sister-in-law is a gymnast. She recently posed this video on Facebook that is absolutely insane. I've never even heard of synchronized gymnastics but my mind is blown and I want this to be a new Olympic sport. Synchronized diving is one of my favorite things to watch...this makes that look easy.

People are often astounded when they find out just how little commercial airline pilots make. (First year airline pilots can make as little as $15 an hour). I came across this interview a few weeks ago discussing the impending pilot shortage, how increasing pilot pay to the levels comparable with most jobs would increase the pilot field by 22%. The pilot shortage is likely to affect small cities and airports that are serviced by regional airlines. It was a fascinating interview, but still has me begging the question - what is being done about this?

Who says the treadmill is boring? This video is amazing. I love Bruno Mars.

I found this article written by a mom whose daughter joined a convent to be really interesting. As a Catholic with friends who have discerned the priesthood, I always assumed that any parent of someone who entered religious life would be ecstatic. That is clearly not the case, and I can see why.

Did I mention that I love Bruno Mars? I'm obsessed with the song "Uptown Funk." In my eyes, Bruno Mars can do no wrong (except for that little coke habit of his). Either way, this Harry Potter parody that Running off the Reese's posted is pretty much amazing. Though I'm not really sure why Harry is like 45.

Have you heard about the new nursing suite at the Cincinnati Reds' stadium? It's beautiful and such an awesome thing for the Reds to do! I'm sure we're going to see this popping up at stadiums across the country moving forward, which is awesome. The one downside? Some stadiums allowed nursing moms into the players' wives suite...I think I'd prefer that!

So, those are my links! 
Are you as happy to see the backside of March as I am?

Today is my good friend Holly's birthday! Take a minute to go say hi!

March 30, 2015

If We Were Having Coffee...

If we were having coffee... I would tell you that I tried to fly up to New Jersey on Friday night to see my mom and couldn't get on a flight. Flying standby has its benefits, but it definitely has its downsides. I haven't been home since Christmas and I'm really bummed I didn't make it this weekend.

I would tell you that despite not making it home, I still enjoyed my weekend. It was miserably cold in DC, but I still managed to get 9 miles of running in (3 on Saturday, 6 on Sunday) and spent most of the weekend lounging around reading.

If we were having coffee... I would complain to you about the weather. Tuesday is April 1st and the 10 day forecast is still showing lows in the 30s. It might hit 70 one day this week, but there really is no end in sight for this miserable cold and I'm so so sick of it.

I would tell you that I ventured out to Georgetown yesterday and got my makeup done at Sephora. I was running out of basics (foundation, bronzer, eye liner) so I decided to treat myself and splurge. It was a fun little outing!

I would tell you that I picked up two new books over the weekend...Madeline Albright's memoir from a Little Free Library and The Eastern Stars: How Baseball Changed the Dominican Town of San Pedro de Macoris. I've had that book on my Amazon Wish List for almost a year, but they haven't had it and I haven't been able to find it anywhere! I was really excited to literally walk into it at a sidewalk sale in Georgetown.

If we were having coffee... I would tell you that I had a really great week of running...until my last mile yesterday when my knee started bothering me. I'm not letting it get to me too much because I had such a good week, but I'm still a little bummed about it. I didn't go to yoga at all this week, so that definitely needs to happen again this week.

That's what I've got going on today!
What would you share over coffee?

Have a great week!

March 27, 2015

Book Reviews: Quarterly Update

For awhile I was writing book reviews every time I finished a new book. I stopped because I realized that I only read book reviews on other blogs if (a) I've been wanting to read the book, (b) I know the author or (c) the title really intrigues me. With that in mind, I stopped writing reviews after each book and decided to switch to quarterly updates on the books I've been reading.

With my new job, my commute takes the same amount of time but I no longer have to switch metro lines, so I get a lot more reading done on my way to and from work. I've read more books this year than I've read in a long time and it's great! It helps that I'm not tackling any 900 pages books like I tend to do at least once a year...though that is coming soon.

So, here's what I've read this year:

"Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea" by Barbara Demick - I kicked off 2015 with a nonfiction book recommended to me during the interview for the job that I'm now at. This book was excellent. It was nonfiction that read a bit like fiction. The stories were all from people who had defected to South Korea about what their lives in North Korea were like. It was a fascinating read. What I found most interesting was just how little I knew about North Korea and how closed off the society truly is from the rest of the world. Highly recommend.

"Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - I had marked this on my Amazon Wish List and then found it in a Little Free Library in my neighborhood. It was a good book...a very interesting perspective on race in the US from the perspective of a non-American African. I couldn't put this book down. I found it fascinating and was really intrigued by the main character, Ifemelu's journey. That being said, I could see a lot of people I know not liking it. Recommend with reservation.

"The King's Curse" by Philippa Gregory - Philippa Gregory is a love her or hate her kind of author but historical fiction is my guilty pleasure. This book was the last in The Cousins' War Series and basically serves as a prequel to her books on The Tudor Court. I didn't love this book as much as I loved the others but I thought it wrapped up the series nicely. Recommend.

"Station Eleven" by Emily St. John Mandel - I really didn't like this book. It left so much to be desired. There were way too many characters and the characters were underdeveloped. This book had so much potential but it fell flat. I was completely hooked in the first 15 pages and then it just left me wanting so much more information. Set in a world where 99% of the population has been killed by a deadly strain of the flu, the book follows the survivors. Don't Recommend.

"The Bookseller of Kabul" by Asne Seierstad - I may have a bias on any book written about Afghanistan since I did part of my graduate thesis about the country but I loved this book. It's my current pick for next month's book club and I'm so intrigued to see what everyone else thought of it. Another nonfiction book that reads more like fiction, this book follows one family in Kabul over the course of one summer while Norwegian journalist, Asne Seierstad, is living with the family after the fall of the Taliban. The book reads a bit more like short stories about the individual members of the family, rather than having a central plot and theme, but's nonfiction. I found it fascinating and loved the way it was told. I think a lot of the mixed reviews are a result of people not reading, and taking to heart, the Foreword of the book. Highly recommend. 

"The Ocean at the End of the Lane" by Neil Gaiman - Meh. I read this book in a day and a half. It was ok. I was hoping it would fall in line with the Miss Peregrine series but it was just ok. It's a flashback of an older man (whose name you never learn) who is at a funeral (for his wife? Maybe? That never becomes clear) back in his home town. He recalls one wildly imaginative night when he was 7-years-old about witches and monsters and good overcoming evil. For me, it fell flat, but it was entertaining and a quick read. Recommend with reservation.

"Atlantis Never Lost: The Story of Santorini" by George Koukoulas - I loved this book. If you're into Greek mythology, I recommend it. It tells the story of the Santorini from an archaeological and mythological perspective, offering a version of the idea that the lost city of Atlantis may have been on the island presently known as Santorini (Thera). The novel starts in the present day with Alexandros, a former student, meeting a professor, Nicodemos, on Santorini after Nicodemos has discovered something at the ancient archaeological site of Akrotiri (which The Pilot and I visited). The story than alternates between present day and prehistoric times at the end of the Minoan civilization, in the 10 days leading up to the volcanic eruption that destroyed the civilization. The prehistoric parts of the novel are told backwards going from when the volcano erupts, to 10 days before and then back again. I loved this. It was such a fascinating way to tell a story. Highly recommend. 

So, there you have it! I hope you like this condensed version of my reviews! I figured it would be to skim the titles you're interested in and get my perspective! Let me know your thoughts and if you think I should continue writing reviews this way!

Happy Friday!

{Disclaimer: Links are Affiliate links}

March 26, 2015


Feeling... really good about running. After my short run on Monday, I did another mile on Tuesday (just to yoga) and then 3 miles last night. Everything is feeling really good right now.

Reading... The Hollow Man by Oliver Harris. I picked this up in the Little Free Library in my neighborhood and started it this morning. I'm only a few pages in and don't really have an opinion yet, but I did some googling on the author and he created a Pinterest map of London based on what happens in the books. I've never seen this before and think it's awesome!

Watching... I watched the last season of "Parks and Rec" over the weekend. It was ok...definitely time for it to end. I started watching "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" and hated it. I'm starting to realize that I'm just not a Tina Fey fan. I loved her on SNL and have loved her films (Baby Mama and Mean Girls) but I really didn't like Bossy Pants and I can't stand "30 Rock".

Thinking about... marathons. I've been wanting to run another marathon ever since I ran my last. I'm really hoping I can make that happen this year. I registered for the Marine Corps Marathon lottery and didn't get in, which is ok because I really want to run Chicago. I entered MCM with the plan of it being my back up in case I didn't get into Chicago. So, now it's just a waiting game.

Working on... my's a constant work in progress and I love it.

Needing... a vacation. It's been two months since Sundance and I'm itching to go somewhere new.

Loving... The Skimm. I've been reading it for a few years now, but since we no longer have cable, it's the only way for me to quickly digest what's going on in the world.

Excited about... a lot of upcoming, long overdue family time.

What's on your list?

March 24, 2015

Training Update: Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

After the Rock 'n' Roll Half-marathon, I took the week completely off. While I was happy with the run, the fact that my knee did flare up towards the end left me thinking that rest was the best option if I still want to run Cherry Blossom.

I went to a Relaxed Flow Vinyasa class om Wednesday and it was incredible. It was exactly what I need to work out all of the lingering soreness from the race.

Saturday, I finally ran again. I headed out for 3 easy miles but my knee started bothering me 3/4 of a mile in. Given that I had gone to a pretty vigorous yoga class that morning and walked 4 miles all over the city before my run, I'm not worrying about it too much though I would like to get to the point where that doesn't affect anything.

Because of how I felt Sunday, I took the day off and planned to run Monday.

I felt awful yesterday. I had horrible cramps and a headache. I was really bloated and just felt weighed down. My hamstrings were exceptionally sore from Saturday's yoga class and I really didn't want to run.

I read something once that said that if you don't feel like going to the gym, just go. If, when you get there, you still don't feel like it, turn around and go home. 9 times out of 10, you'll stay. I've since applied this to every workout and it works.

With that in mind, I set out for a run. Within the first few minutes, I already felt myself loosening up. I felt so much better. I decided to take the chance to explore a different part of the neighborhood (nothing special) and before I knew it, I felt really, really good. I only wanted to run 2 miles...I really didn't have much more than that in me but as I got closer to home and checked my watch, I saw that I was running a 9:34 pace...the fastest I've run since August. I felt awesome. I wasn't worried about my knee, I was just running. I ended up running 2.3 and ran that last quarter mile or so at an 8:53 pace. It was awesome.

I haven't had a run like that in almost 2 years. I felt amazing...not just because I was running fast...because for the first time in 2 years, I forgot that I had been injured and I just ran.

Channeling all of that into these next 3 weeks, I'm hoping to run a strong Cherry Blossom. If I could make it to 12.5 pain free, I can run 10 (I hope). So, here's what I'm doing this week to get there:

Monday: 2 miles
Tuesday: Rest or Yoga + PT exerises
Wednesday: 4 miles
Thursday: Rest or Yoga + PT excercises
Friday: 3 miles
Saturday: Yoga + PT exercises
Sunday: 6 miles

Right now, 6 seems a little daunting after taking a week off, but I have to remember...I'm already trained for this.

Are you running the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler? 
Have you ever had a run that helped you "reset" either after an injury or during a rough patch in your training?

March 23, 2015

Weekend Thoughts

I really needed to unplug this weekend. I needed to just spend sometime alone and do my own thing this weekend. I got home Friday from work, poured myself a glass of wine and made myself some dinner. I watched some TV, straightened some stuff up around the house and called it a night.

Saturday morning, I set an alarm for 8:30 so that I could get up for yoga and not rush. I got a glorious 9 1/2 hours of sleep and felt amazing when I woke up. I made some coffee, whipped up an omelet, took Peyton for a quick walk and had an awesome yoga class. I felt great afterward. The sun was starting to peek out so I took Peyton for a nice, long walk around the neighborhood before heading to the farmer's market to pick up some stuff. 

By the time I got home from the Farmer's Market, I had already done 12,000 steps for the day...and it wasn't even 3:00! Naturally, I decided to go for a run. I laced up my sneakers and headed out for an easy 3 first run post-race. I finished the 3 miles, but my knee started hurting 3/4 of a mile in, which was really unnerving, especially after taking a full week off post-race.

I came back, stretched, whipped up a green smoothie and took Peyton out to the backyard while I sat and read my book for awhile.

I came back inside, did a few more things around the house and took Peyton for another long walk. just as the sun was setting. It was starting to turn into a gorgeous night and she loved being outside.

While we were walking, I came across a Little Free Library. Do you guys know about these? They're little book libraries people put in front of their houses. The mentality is "Take a book, leave a book." I love it so much and there are a bunch of them in our neighborhood. I can't wait until we have a house of our own and I can build one!

I picked up this thriller, which sold me based on this sentence alone "...a vividly evocative love letter to London"... and will definitely be reading it soon.

After our little walk, I roasted up some brussel sprouts for dinner and had myself a "Scandal" bingefest before calling it a night.

Sunday morning, I got up, took Peyton out and spent the morning watching "Friends" on Netflix while meal prepping for the week. I had just bought some dates (which I had never used before) and basically put them in everything I made. I did a lot of stuff around the house, finished my taxes and then spent most of afternoon hanging out in the backyard before heading to church.

It was a perfectly refreshing weekend. I didn't really do anything spectacular, I just spent a lot of time doing things that I wanted to do and it was just what I needed. Going into this week, I feel nice and refreshed and I'm ready for a great week!

Do you ever take a weekend to just disconnect in order to reconnect with yourself?
What's the best thing you did all weekend?

March 21, 2015

The Libester Award {Discover New Blogs!}

Last week, my friend Carolann tagged me in a blog post after being awarded The Liebster Award. It's a way to raise the profile of other bloggers and, since I've been finding and exploring so many new blogs lately, I was excited to participate!

Here's how it works:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their site
2. Write a post answering the questions you were given
3. Nominate 5 – 11 other bloggers for the award (let them know you have done so!) and come up with a set of 10 – 11 questions for them to answer
4. Enjoy!

So, here are Carolann's questions for me: 

1. What are you reading right now? Atlantis Never Lost - The Story of Santorini...a book I picked up on our honeymoon at this adorable little book shop on Santorini.

2. What advice do you have for new bloggers? Focus on what makes your blog YOUR blog. Don't worry about what other bloggers are doing, always remember why you started blogging in the first place and work to maintain your unique voice. I've been blogging for five years and the blogging world has changed so much since then...some if for the better, some of it not as much.
3. How do you stay creative with your blog? In other words, where do you get your inspiration, and how do you come up with ideas for new posts? This is definitely something that can be a challenge. This year, I've started trying to plan out my posts for the month and I've definitely started using the Drafts tool. Sometimes, I'll write just three sentences into a draft post on something that I want to write about later...whether it's my thoughts on a particular subject, a flashback to somewhere I've been before or anything else! 
A little oasis in the middle of DC (Rock Creek Park)
4. What is your favorite thing about where you live? Washington, DC is an incredible place to live. I love that I'm walking distance from everything: museums, restaurants, national parks, etc. I don't own a car and I hate driving so being able to just walk out my door and be surrounded my history is what makes me fall in love with this city a little bit more every single day.
5. Share a link to your favorite go-to weeknight dinner recipe! This edamame pasta is so easy and so delicious! Recipe in the comments section!

6. How would you spend an extra $100? Right now, I'm focusing on saving, rather than spending but if I had an extra $100, I'd probably spend it on a weekend getaway! There are a lot of super cute towns near DC that I haven't been to yet!
7. What’s the best place you have ever traveled to? Sarajevo, I fell in love with that city in a way I didn't think I ever could. 
8.  What is a skill you would like to learn? I'd love to learn to speak French!
9. What is your favorite TV show? I really like Sherlock, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. I hate that Season 4 isn't coming out until next year! 
10. Which blog post are you most proud of? Share a link! "Finding my Strong" I posted it just before I headed to Madrid for the 2012 Madrid Marathon. It was my 2nd attempt at a sub-4 race and up until that point, I really didn't think I could do it. Unfortunately, I didn't, but it's still my favorite post.

For this award, I'm tagging Erin (Erin Runs Happy), Megan (Semi-Charmed Kind of Life), Tara (Running 'n' Reading), Dawn (Sneaker Therapy), and Erin (Love, Fun and Football). Here are the questions I have!

1. What is one thing that has changed for you as a result of blogging?
2. If there were no obstacles and you could pack your bags and leave tomorrow, where would you go?
3. If you came to visit me in DC, what would be the first stop on your itinerary?
4. Are you a baseball fan? Who's your team? If you're not, go here and pick one and tell us why you picked them!
5. What's your favorite season? What's your favorite thing to do during that season?
6. What is the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night?
7. If you could live in any place other than where you live now, where would it be?
8. What is your favorite blog post you've written?
9. What's the number 1 thing on your Amazon Wish List?
10. Do you still subscribe to magazines? What are your favorites?

If anyone else wants to take on these questions, I'd love to read your answers! Leave a link to the post in the comments! Have a great weekend!

March 19, 2015


Feeling... run down. Ever since Daylight Saving Time, I just haven't been able to function. It's impossible for me to wake up in the mornings and I just drag on. It doesn't help that it's still brutally cold outside.

Reading... "Atlantis Never Lost: The Story of Santorini" by George Koukoulas. I bought this book at an adorable little book shop on Santorini when The Pilot and I were on our honeymoon but am just now getting around to reading it. While on Santorini, we visited the Akrotiri ruins which had been discovered in the 1970s. This book subscribes to the theory that Santorini may have been the lost city of Atlantis. It alternates between present day and the time of the Ancient Minoan civilization. I really like it so far.

Watching... It's been another week where I haven't turned on my TV at all.

Thinking about... racing. Even though this weekend didn't go exactly as planned, I'm still happy that I had a strong finish. I went to yoga last night and have been doing some PT stuff this week, but I planned on taking this week off from running completely. The racing bug has bit me again and I need to get 100% healthy so that I can run the races that  I'm eyeing this year.

Working on...
resting and getting my knee strong again. I'm finding this article on yoga therapy for your knees really interesting.

Needing... an unplugged "me time" weekend. I'm thinking home made brunch for one, double yoga, and some wine while finally finishing the season finale of "Downton Abbey."

Loving... finding new running blogs. A lot of the running bloggers I used to read stopped blogging so I'm happy to have found some new ones! Erin Runs Happy, Eat Pray Run DC and Running 'n' Reading are just a few of my new finds!

Excited about... not doing anything this weekend. Sometimes you just need that!

March 18, 2015

Ask the Pilot - Questions Answered

Finally! I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to get this posted! The Pilot hasn't been around much so it's been tough to sit down and go through all of these awesome questions! I can promise you quite the in-depth interview though! Enjoy!

What's your craziest passenger story? It was a snowy day in Cleveland. I don't remember where we we were going but we were running a little bit behind schedule and we were boarding everyone up. The first person on the flight was an older lady. As she was boarding, I was in the jet way behind her and she asked me where the bathroom was on the plane. She asked me if she would have time to use the bathroom and I told her that she would have plenty of time because she was the first one on. So about 10 minutes goes by and the flight attendant came over and said that we had a passenger stuck in the bathroom. In this plane, the bathroom door is usually on a slider and it's very easy to get it off so I ran back to the plane to see what I could do. When I arrived at the bathroom, the lady had knocked the whole door off the hinges and the door was stuck and she couldn't get out. So I was trying to open the door and I just couldn't get the door open so we had to call Maintenance to open the door. So I was back there holding the door because it was literally falling on her and the bathroom was in complete darkness, so this poor old lady was in complete darkness in the bathroom of the plane. Maintenance finally got the door open and got her out and while I was going back to the flight deck, I saw that there was an ambulance outside the door and when I asked what was going on, they told me that one of the grounds crew had fallen out of the cargo bin and was getting checked out. He turned out to be ok, but we ended up being delayed after all of this.

What are your favorite routes? I wouldn't say I have a favorite route, I generally like to do flights that are about an hour or an hour and a half because it keeps me occupied and there isn't a lot of downtime in the air. Anything along the East Coast is usually a fun, good route, or flying over some major cities.

What are your favorite airports: DCA (Washington Reagan) and RDU (Raleigh-Durham). (Me: Really? Raleigh? Him: Yea, Raleigh has a beautiful terminal). I also like DEN (Denver) and as much as everyone hates EWR (Newark), I love flying in and out of Newark because it's an active airspace, the controllers (air traffic) are really good and there's just a lot happening at the airport, which makes it fun.

What is it like to work in the aviation industry? It's a grind. It's a very small industry. You can never really step on anyone's toes because one day they could be your First Officer, the next day, they can be your Captain. It's always changing, which makes it interesting. Right now, there are so many changes going on in the industry that every day there's a new challenge.

What has been your worst flight ever? I don't necessarily have a worst flight, but I do have a worst day. The whole day ended up being a duty day of 16 hours total. There was a lot of weather that day and we had a lot of delays. With all of the delays and weather, we had just picked our way through some thunderstorms and landed in Newark and we were coming close to timing out (at the time of this flight, FAA regulations only allowed pilots to be on duty for 16 hours in one day...that has since changed to 13) and we had to fly from Newark to Kansas City, going around thunderstorms and we probably pushed back from the gate around 11pm. It's about a 3 hour flight to Kansas City and it was just a long day, and a long flight to make it all the way to Kansas City, being very tired and having to fly around a lot of weather, which is challenging. I just remember landing that night and it was definitely one of my biggest challenges, fighting fatigue and weather. (The EWR to MCI flight was his 4th flight of the day...pilots can fly as many as six flights in one day).

How safe is flying? It's very safe. It's probably the safest it's ever been. There are newer aircraft and pilot training is very extensive. (I can vouch for this...despite having a 4 year degree in aviation, transitioning to a commercial job and upgrading sends him off to training for an additional two months at a time!)

What's your favorite thing about flying? The control (he hate being a passenger on a flight), the freedom, I like the rush of taking off and landing, it makes it really enjoyable. 

Do you have the same routes you fly routinely? There are some routes that I tend to fly more than others, but my schedule changes every trip so I don't fly the same routes.

Do you ever get confused with the runways flying into an airport you aren't familiar with? There are times that it can be confusing, but we all have airport diagrams and back up instrumentation that helps us identify the correct runways.

Have you ever had a close call? No. (Thank God!)

Are you ever afraid due to weather conditions? No, because if it isn't safe, we aren't going.

Do you fly with the same crew or other pilot? Usually we fly with the same crew for a 'pairing,' which is a trip, it could be a 4 day trip, otherwise you can go months without flying with the same person.

Do you fly out and back home the same day or do you stay overnight? Where do you stay and how do you get there? I do both. (His trips can last anywhere from 1 to 4 days, or 0 to 3 nights). We usually stay at hotels, sometimes by the airport or sometimes in downtown locations in major cities. Either the hotel transportation or a car service will take us to the hotels. The hotels are all planned in advance by the airline. We have a set list of hotels that we stay at, and if we end up in a location unplanned, we have a third party vendor that locates hotels within the vicinity and gets us rooms.

How often do you have to get a physical? I have to get mine once a year but anyone over 40 has to get one every six months.

Have you ever used your cell phone in flight? No, because you never have service in the air anyway, and we aren't allowed to have our cell phones on while in the flight deck.

What made you want to become a pilot? From a young age, you know, my first trip on an airplane, going to an airport when I was young, just getting on a plane, the whole experience was a blast. It was something I really liked, looking up at the sky; playing baseball as a kid, you're always looking up to the sky and seeing all these planes flying overhead, it's just...the thrill of flying is something I've always had, something I always thought I'd be good at. Now that I am a pilot, every day is different. It's never the same, but it is what I thought it would be and to train so hard for so long and finally being here just makes it...achieving your goal is just so great.

When did you become a pilot, I'm assuming post 9/11 but are you ever just...scared? I started my training in 2005 and became an airline pilot in 2011. My training was very intense and thorough. I got my training from probably the best school in the world, so there's never been a time where I was afraid. You train so much that flying becomes a reaction, an instinct.

If you have a long flight, what do you do the whole time? Are you constantly working, looking at monitors, etc? A lot of our work is done on the ground before we ever take off but the busiest times are taxiing, take off and landing. These are the times where we're really active on the radios, hand flying the plane (versus auto pilot) and making changes to the auto pilot. Once we reach cruising altitude, there are very few changes so a lot of times, we just talk to each other about everything and anything or go over company materials.

So, there you have it! Thanks to everyone who submitted questions! This was a great set of questions and we had a lot of fun getting this post together!

March 17, 2015

Recipe: Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

I've never been a huge celebrator of St. Patrick's Day, but every year for the last five years, I've made Irish Soda Bread for the occasion. With all that beer, you might as well wash it down with something tasty!

Now, I'm not Irish...not even close to it...I've been sunburned a grand total of one time in my life and I see tan lines the minute the sun comes out...but I've recently adopted an Irish last name so my tradition of soda bread making continues!

In the years I've been making Irish Soda Bread, I've learned a few tips and tricks along the way to make what is, in my opinion, the best. So, I'm sharing my amalgamation of said recipes with my own insight added in. This recipe is most closely based off of Ina Garten's.

There are two questions that need to be answered before attempting a soda bread recipe. The first: Black currants or raisins? The second: Caraway seeds or no caraway seeds.

As for me, I alternate between raisins and currants. I tend to use raisins more often because I always have them in the house, but currants are just as nice a touch. When it comes to caraway seeds? It isn't soda bread without them. 

To start, you'll need to gather your ingredients:

-4 cups flour (I use white, doesn't taste the same with whole wheat)
-4 tbsp sugar
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 1/2 tsp salt
-4 tbsp cold butter
-1 3/4 cup buttermilk
-1 egg
-1 orange, zested + juiced (only use the juice of 1/2 the orange
-3 tbsp caraway seeds
-1 cup raisins

1. Soak the raisins (or currants) in a bowl of water for at least 30 minutes before starting. (This will get them plump and juicy which tastes excellent once the bread is baked). 

2. Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl. (I've made this without sifting as well and it just results in a heavier, more dense bread).

3. Cut the butter into tiny pieces and add it to the flour. Mix on low speed in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer until the butter is well mixed into the flour. (You can use your hands too if you're looking to get in an arm workout for the day). 

4. Whisk together the buttermilk, egg, orange zest and juice.

5. Slowly pour the liquid mixture into the the dry mixture while it is mixing. (I keep my mixer covered with a towel the entire time so it doesn't spill everywhere). 

6. Add in the caraway seeds and raisins. The mixture will be very wet and sticky. If it's too sticky, add an extra tbsp of flour. 

7. Knead the dough (either with a dough hook) or by hand. 

You can use a number of dishes to bake the bread in. I've used a Dutch Oven, a pie plate or a loaf pan. The loaf pan takes much longer and is less traditional, but it will work just fine. If you want to be really traditional, cut a cross into the top of dough (to ward off evil spirits!) before baking. 

Bake at 375 for 45-55 minutes. I usually set the timer for 45 minutes and then cake test it to see if it's done. 

I like eating my soda bread just as it is, but you can also mix together a compound butter to serve with it. (This Orange-Rosemary one sounds amazing!)

So, there you have it! A delicious St. Patrick's Day treat than anyone will enjoy!

How are you celebrating St. Patrick's Day today?

March 16, 2015

DC Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon Recap

I had no idea what to expect going into my 13th half-marathon (14th if you count the Half I DNF because of knee pain last May). All I wanted was to finish strong, to be able to run pain-free and to be able to pick up the pace a little bit if I felt good.

My training has been great in the sense that I've put in the work and the miles, but none of my long runs left me feeling particularly strong. I had to take it too easy to allow myself to feel strong.

This weekend was totally different.

With a 7:30 start time, The Pilot, Abby and I headed to the Metro around 6:45 to make our way over. It was already raining pretty steadily by the time we got to the start and we waited in a covered bus stop before making our way to the corrals at 7:25. It was a long, cold, wet wait. By the time we crossed the starting line 45 minutes later (yes, 45 minutes), my feet were drenched and my legs were numb. It took about 3 miles for me to warm up after that.

Metro selfies are a must when racing in DC
Abby, The Pilot and I started together but The Pilot wasn't feeling too hot and dropped away pretty early on. He later picked up the pace and only finished a few minutes behind us but we never saw him on the course, which was a bummer. I would've loved for us to finish together.

I didn't know Abby was planning to run with me. It meant the world to have my training partner alongside me every step of the way. She helped me focus and kept me from siking myself out.

The first few miles, I felt so weird. My legs were numb and it was hard to pin down my gait and I just felt off. Once I started to warm up though, things got better.

The race went by quickly. I missed the mile marker for Mile 3 (and my watch was deeply buried under my layers of clothes) so when we hit Mile 4, I felt great! I had just thought that Mile 2 felt long!

My knee felt a little off around Mile 5, so I took a short walking break. I made sure I walked through all of the water stations. I wasn't out for a PR today, I was just out to finish. I thought that the Calvert St. Hill was at Mile 7 (this was my 3rd time running on this course), but it was at Mile 6, which I didn't know was called Military Mile (It must be new since I don't remember it from '12 and '13).

The hill is about 1/4 mile straight up and all along the hill were pictures of fallen soldiers and volunteers holding American flags. It was heart wrenching and the perfect place for it. How could you slow down or stop going up a hill when running alongside pictures of fallen soldiers. I teared up going the entire way up the hill but I ran that hill STRONG. It gave me such a greater appreciation for what I do at work every single day and I felt great coming off of that, so great.

The Hill brings you into Adams Morgan, which is full of drunk people singing and dancing on their front porches and is pretty amazing. I can't believe how awesome the spectator support was given how cold, miserable and wet it was. Adams Morgan was a BLAST to run through. Everyone was having so much fun and that energy was infectious.

Through Adams Morgan, my knee wasn't feeling great. It went from uncomfortable to somewhat painful. I took a few walking breaks and tried to switch up my gait and then I started to feel good again. There were a lot of up hills on this course (and not a lot of down hills) and it was great, because my knee always feels better going up hill.

Just before Mile 9, we caught up to a girl wearing a shirt that said "If you're behind me, you didn't train either." This shirt infuriated me. I trained really hard for this race, but I'm behind you because I have something else going on. I probably shouldn't have let her shirt bother me as much as I did, but I couldn't help it. Races are always so encouraging...complete strangers cheer you on and here, a fellow runner was proudly displaying a shirt that shut down every other runner behind her. Well, the competitive side of me kicked in and even though I was starting to struggle a little bit, we picked up the pace and ran past her. We didn't see her again on the course. Maybe that shirt was motivational after all?

When we got to Mile 10, I was so excited that we were at Mile 10 but my IT band started to tighten up. For two years I've been struggling with IT band issues but I've always felt them in my knee, never in my actual IT band. I pulled to the side of the road and massaged my leg, stretched out my calves and then carried on. Mile 10 was definitely a struggle but by the time we hit 11, I was feeling good...really good. I started to pick up the pace a little bit. I couldn't help it. I was 2 miles away from the finish line and I felt good. I was pleasantly sore and at this point, I knew that no matter what happened, I wasn't going to quit...I was too close and I was going to finish this thing...strong.

Mile 11 felt long, and when we got to Mile 12, I decided to walk it out just a little bit so that I could finish the rest of the race running. I only walked for a few seconds and then started to pick up the pace. At this point, all of the finishers were walking the course and it felt awesome. We were so close!

At 12.5, my knee flared up...badly...the kind of flare up that has plagued me for 2 years...and pulled me out of races But I didn't care. I couldn't care. We were so close. I stopped for a few seconds to stretch and walk it out and then I pushed. The race ends on a downhill (I seem to remember it ending uphill) and I just hauled it. Abby was alongside me and we just weaved in and out of runners (the finisher's chute was really narrow), blazing past them until we crossed.

The minute we crossed the finish line,  I stated crying. I did it. I didn't finish entirely pain free (so close) but I finished strong and I am so, so happy.

For those really curious, I finished in 2:34:21 which I'm really happy about. From this point forward, I have new PRs to set...poat-injury PRs and that's a good time to try to beat.

To everyone who has followed my training over these last few weeks and sent motivation, words of encouragement and well wishes, thank you. I could not have run this race without your support.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Next up, Cherry Blossom!

March 12, 2015


Feeling... content. I spend the night last night out with some new friends and had an awesome time. It turned into way too late of a night for a week night, but I had so much fun that I woke up in a great mood this morning.

Reading... The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. I stumbled on this in my Amazon Wish List (which is pages and pages full of books I want to read) and downloaded it to my Kindle. I reminds me of the Miss Peregrine series and I really like it. It's a quick and easy read. I started yesterday and should finish tonight.

Watching... "Scandal" and "Parks and Rec". Without cable, I'm so far behind on all of my favorite TV shows. I feel like this season of "Scandal" is the season that inevitably happens with all Shonda shows...the season before things get weird. As for "Parks and Rec," I'm really not a fan of this season.

Thinking about... Saturday's race. I've said this 100 times only goal is to run pain-free. Unfortunately, I can't really control that.

Working on...
a blog for the new yoga studio I've been going to!

Needing... a new comforter. Ours faded in the wash and looks terrible. Unfortunately, I can't find anything we like...or when we do, it's at PB Teen and doesn't come in the right size.

Loving... that my life is so wildly different than it was one year ago...and for all the right reasons!

Excited about... running, spring, yoga, warm weather, The Pilot being home.

What's on your 'Currently...' list?

March 10, 2015

Training Update: Race Week

I feel like Saturday's race is something that I have to do. I'm more worried about than I am excited. I've said this a dozen times...I just want to have a good race and finish pain-free.

This weekend's 10 miles were good. I wouldn't call them strong. There were times when my knee started to get a little uncomfortable, but it held up. I hit minimal traffic lights, so there wasn't a lot of stop and go, which was a good indicator for this weekend.

They were slow. My average pace was 11:44. It doesn't bother me that I'm slower, but I hate that at Mile 8 when I started feeling really good, I couldn't just pick up the pace and go. Pace doesn't matter...what I love about running and racing, is the ability to push yourself, and I feel like I can't really do that right now. I started to push the pace at 9 1/2 but I immediately had to slow back down.

I'm hoping that I can get through this race in good shape and use it as a springboard to {hopefully} pick up the pace a little bit at Cherry Blossom.:

I'm taking it easy this week. Here's the plan:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 3 miles easy
Wednesday: Rest (yoga, maybe?)
Thursday: 3 miles easy
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Race Day!

We'll see how it goes. After this weekend's run, I'm cautiously optimistic. I'm hoping that I can stay that way. Wish me luck!

March 9, 2015

Love/Don't Love

1. I RAN 10 PAIN FREE MILES THIS WEEKEND! They weren't entirely comfortable, and I would call them 10 decent miles, rather than 10 strong miles but I did it and I'm so happy. Love.

2. I am exhausted. Daylight Saving Time is winter's way of punishing us for hating on it so much. Don't Love.

3. Friday, after work, I got my hair cut again. The stylist realized that the salon I had previously gone to had cut my hair lopsided. It was TWO INCHES longer on one side than on the other. I knew I wasn't crazy when I said I hated my hair. It looks so much better now and I'm so happy with it. Love.

4. One of my old co-workers who moved to New York in the fall was in town this weekend and The Pilot and I went out with him and some friends. We had an awesome night out. Love.

5. Our new apartment has a hot tub in the backyard. We definitely took advantage of it this weekend, along with the sunshine and it was amazing. We sat in the hot tub while Peyton enjoyed the sunshine. Once the temperatures get into the 70s, I will be exponentially happier. Love.

6. I'm still really nervous about my race this weekend. Don't Love.

7. The Pilot isn't around a lot (obviously) but when he is around, we definitely make the most of it. This weekend was perfect. We had such an amazing weekend together. Love.

What are you loving or {not} loving today?

Poll: I'm thinking about turning these Love/Don't Love posts into a link up. Any interest out there?

March 6, 2015


Feeling... let down. Yesterday, 6 inches of snow blanketed DC and we had a snow day! Today? A delayed opening. I know some of you might be thinking that 6 inches of snow is nothing, but you have to realize that the federal government (which most of DC follows) has shut down for RAIN in the winter. Say what you will, but I wanted my extra snow day. I'm not looking forward to walking to the metro through the unshoveled/unplowed streets and sidewalks of DC.

As the start of the storm!
Reading... The Bookseller of Kabul. Megan posted this on Instagram a few weeks ago and I was dying to read it. I wrote part of my graduate thesis on Afghanistan and I'm fascinated by the country's history since the Soviet invasion. So far, it's ok...a little slow moving, but very well-written.

Watching... "The Today Show." It's rare that I get to watch this anymore, but on this delayed  opening, I'll take an easy start to the morning!

Coffee and these cranberry flax breakfast cookies. They're amazing.

Thinking about... my pick for my book club next month. I've been thinking about this for two months now and I still can't decide on a good book! What's the best thing you've read lately?

Working on... our apartment. Our Ikea trip was a huge success in more ways than one. I spent less than $125 and didn't have to use an allen wrench. My new deadline is by the date of my next book club. I'm hoping to host everyone at our place!

Needing... to do my taxes!

Loving... the meals I've been making this week! It's been a long time since I've truly dedicated myself to the meal plan I've made for the week. This week, I've been nailing it and everything I've made has been delicious! Here's a peek from my Instagram account.

Clockwise from Top Left: Kale & Butternut Squash Sautee, Sundried Tomato & Broccoli Pasta with Toasted Pine Nuts, Whole Grain Penne with Cherry Tomatoes & Edamame, Black Bean Veggie Quesadillas
Excited about... the temperature rising into the 50s next week. Is there finally light at the end of the tunnel?

That's what's going on in my world! Tonight, I'm going to {hopefully} get my hair cut fixed.
This weekend, I have to try to run 10 miles through the snow banks currently covering DC.
What's on your 'Currently' list?

March 5, 2015

Happy 5th Birthday Planes, Trains & Running Shoes!

Five years ago I opened up this little corner of the internet.

I was 23, fresh out of college and living in Boston. The Pilot was my boyfriend of 4 months. I had never run a race before.

I posted a list of 25 things I wanted to do before I turned 25. I didn't do 10 of them. Some of them (like horseback riding and learning French) are still on my list. Others (like swimming with dolphins and doing a triathlon) aren't anymore.

Through this blog, I found my passion for running. When I started this blog, I started training for my first half-marathon. I was immediately connected with the amazing running community in the blogging world. To this day, my closest running friends are all bloggers. With the exception of one person, everyone I know who runs is someone I've met through my blog, either directly or indirectly.

Those people are some of my closest friends. Some of them were at my wedding. I see them regularly. We talk, we text, we snail mail. We've met each others families and have seen each other's houses. The idea that we met them through our blogs is so foreign now. Some of them still blog, some of them don't. We're still friends. They're people who are incredibly important to me and I never would have met them if I hadn't started this blog.

Emily, Andrea & Holly
Writing this blog has also taught me to apply a filter a little bit more closely. There are some things that we just don't blog about. Learning, and remembering, to apply that filter to my blog has helped me apply it in my personal life as well as my professional life.

I love writing. It doesn't matter what I'm writing about, I adore it. It's obviously easy to write about yourself, but my new job that I started two months ago? Writer. Five years ago, when I started this blog, I don't think I ever would have started a career as a writer, but here I am...and I love it.

This blog has also taught me about balance. In reading other blogs and getting motivated to work out and train and eat right, I've learned how other people balance work and family life and marathon training and healthy eating...and I've applied it to my own life. The idea of having kids one day and trying to figure out how to "do it all" isn't scary to me anymore because so many other women do it.

I never thought I would blog for this long. I started this blog out of boredom. I never really knew what it would turn into, yet, here I am...five years later and I couldn't be happier.

To all of you who follow my little adventures, I appreciate you more than I can say. Thank you for reading, for commenting, and for supporting me. So, here's to five years of blogging, and to whatever future might be in store!

Thanks for sticking around!

March 3, 2015

10 Places I'd Like to Travel to this Year

Wanderlust. I've got an incurable case of it. My mom made it a point to take us on a vacation every year. Sometimes, it was just a short drive away, other times, it was a little further away. I was 12 the first time I left the country, when we went to Santo Domingo to meet some of my Dominican family. The next time I left the country, for my 16th birthday, we went to London and I've been hooked ever since.

Being married to a pilot has its benefits (literally). We didn't get to do much traveling last year since we were saving all of our vacation time (and money) for our wedding and honeymoon, but this year is going to be different. We want to travel as much as we can before we have kids, so I've got my eye on a few places I'd like to cross off of my ever growing travel list this year. So, in no particular order, here's that list.

1. Brussels - I don't know what it is about this quaint European city that draws me so much but I'm dying to go there...especially after Kelly's recent string of posts about Brussles! Both of my parents have been to Belgium and loved it. It's an easy destination to get to from DC and the departure taxes (which is what we pay to fly internationally) are very reasonable.

Photo Credit: Kelly, Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes
2. Boston - Ah Boston. The first place I ever lived on my own. It seems like such a distant memory, those Boston days, but I'd love to get back there to see some friends and catch a game at Fenway...given their insane winters though, this likely won't happen until July.

This was the view from my apartment in Boston.
It was so much cheaper than my view-less apartment in DC.
3. Geneva - Geneva was the first international destination I ever took off to on my own. I adored it. I made some amazing friends there and I'm itching to get back. The Pilot and I were on our way there last year when we ended up in Vegas instead, this year, I'd really love to get back to Geneva and show him this city that means so much to me.

4. Dublin - The Pilot and I have both been to Dublin, though I can hardly count my time there. I was there for about 3 hours (between 5 and 8 in the morning) before taking off on a backpacking trip around Ireland. Like Brussels, it's the perfect spot for a weekend getaway, so that's also on my list.

Trinity College, Dublin. Image by Brian Lawrence / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images.{via}
5. Hawaii - One of my dearest friends from my college days, Carolann, lives in Hawaii. We had our bags packed and ready to go last year for my birthday when a snow storm completely derailed our plans. I was hoping that we would make it there for my birthday this year, but with The Pilot and I both starting new jobs in 2015, that made it tough. I'm dying to visit Carolann this year and have her show me around!

Photo Credit: Carolann, The Two Year Honeymoon
6. New Orleans - In 2006, just 6 months after Hurricane Katrina, I went to New Orleans on a volunteer trip to gut houses. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. It was heartbreaking. We stayed on Bourbon Street and there were 3 restaurants opened. I'd love to go back and see New Orleans revitalized.

Photo Credit: Lonely Planet
7. San Francisco - SFO is a given. My sister lives there and after meeting some of her cousins (her husband's family) at Sundance, I definitely want to go back and see everyone. Plus, I still haven't been to the A's Stadium!

Photo Credit: Lifeloc
8. LA - I've never particularly loved LA but The Pilot is dying to take a trip to the Dodgers Stadium, and well, I still haven't been to the A's Stadium. I'm hoping we can turn a San Francisco trip into a West Coast trip.

Dodger Stadium
9. St. Louis - When I tell other baseball fans that I haven't been to St. Louis yet, they're always shocked. I've heard great things about Busch Stadium, but I just haven't been there yet. I'd like a take a trip down for a ball game and go see the arch and...what else is there to do in St. Louis?

Photo Credit: Wikipedia
10. Orlando - The Pilot and I haven't been to Disney World since 2009. Epcot Center is calling my our friends of ours who moved to Orlando in October. There's also a new Harry Potter World so there's that too.

So, these are the places I'm hoping to make it to this year...some I've seen, others I haven't. I might not make it to all of them, but hey, you never know! Have you been to any of these places? Any recommendations?

Where are you hoping to head to this year?
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