Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014, In Review!

Oh 2014, what a year it's been!  We've had so many highlights. I went back through my blog to pick out a few of my favorites from this year. Enjoy this year's summary, and enjoy your last night of 2014!

A big theme throughout my posts from January, February, and even March was SNOW! We were lucky enough to enjoy many snow days last winter. I am beginning to wonder where they have been this school year. I hope they find us soon! During one of those early January snows I remember binge watching episodes of Orange is the New Black. I recently heard somewhere that Netflix is one of the biggest game changers of 2014, and I have to agree. Binging on OITNB and Breaking Bad were great breaks from reality. And our Breaking Bad finale party was a fun night to begin our fall.

Spring was full of big achievements! Matt graduated with his Masters in History from George Mason. It was a great celebration of a lot of hard work, late and stressful nights and weekends. Also in the spring, I completed my first ten mile race and half marathon! In the realm of big accomplishments might also fall my relinquishment of coffee, not to say there haven't been some cheat days :)

The summer of 2014 was my best in a long time. For the first time in a long time I chose not to work during my time off from school. We started the summer off with a trip to Dewey Beach for a few days. Soon after we drove to Boston to celebrate Matt's sister's wedding. The rest of the summer was filled with lots of funsies with friends around town and by the pool. I also very pleased with the amount of leisurely reading I did. There was also some time spent being tourists in our own town. Most recently, as DC tourists, we were able to get up close and personal with the White House.

Of course no year would be complete without our families or our friends. We had plenty of game nights and other events to keep us occupied on the weekends in Virginia. Visits to Massachusetts and Pittsburgh, or visits from our families, for holidays and other exciting times, are always our favorites.

Going back to school after a fun summer is usually a little bit of a drag, but this year I have had some exciting things going on to make my time at work a little more pleasurable. I was given my own classroom to use for my lessons! And I have also been enjoying holding some book clubs with my fifth graders. This fall Matt and I also found the illusive Bull Run Mountain and hiked to the top not once, but twice.

I am so looking forward to going through our Boston Baked Bean Pot tonight to find some more happy memories. I can't wait to see what 2015 has in store for us! If our plans for January are any indication, I know it will be a great year!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Marathon Monday

My goal this past week was simple. Just remember to do some miles. I knew things might get a little lazy around here having checked off my last really long run, combined with winter break, combined with traveling for Christmas. Not the most motivating factors coming down the homestretch. Thankfully, I kept up with my training schedule pretty well.

Monday and Tuesday, while still in Virginia, I did two 5k runs around my neighborhood. While I was running I realized I hadn't done any short runs in my neighborhood in forever because of daylight savings time. It was nice to be done so quickly compared to my weekend long runs. Wednesday I took a walk around my parents' neighborhood with my mom. This is when I was seriously thankful I don't have to do training in Pittsburgh. The hills are ridiculous.

On Friday I wanted to do four miles, but the thought of having to run the hills in my parents' neighborhood was way too much to handle. I dragged my mom and Matt to the Franklin Regional High School track to make things manageable, and reminisce about the class of 2002 (kidding). After about five laps on the track, things got boring. I then decided to 'run the complex' (a favorite of any former FR Lady Panther, kidding again) to get a little variety in my life. After my second mile around, I opted to finish out on the flat track. I ended my 13.51 miles for the week with a walk to the grocery store on Saturday afternoon. I can't believe how quickly time is passing, time off work will do that. Only 11 days until the half marathon, and less than that until Florida!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Recipe of the Week!

Bacon Wrapped Dates
Matt and I made these little treats after being inspired by a night out at Founding Farmers. We ordered them as an appetizer and decided they could be easily replicated at home. We made ours without almonds, but I recently had some at a Christmas party with almonds, and they were good as well. These are super easy to make, and are a nice addition to any party. It's also something a little different than the usual party food.

12 pitted dates
12 pieces cream cheese (I cut the cream cut to match the size of the dates)
6 slices bacon, cut crosswise in half
12 almonds (optional)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Stuff 1 piece of cream cheese and 1 almond (optional) into each date, then wrap one piece of bacon around each date. Arrange dates, bacon seam down, on a shallow baking pan.

Bake 5 minutes, then turn dates over with tongs and bake until bacon is crisp, 5 to 6 minutes more. Drain on a paper towel.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Marathon Monday

Lots of miles happened this week. I am pretty happy with almost all of my outings this week too. I started off with an 8 miler on Sunday. I was dragging my feet getting started, but knew it had to be done. Matt helped me get on the road by offering to do some of the miles with me. That was super helpful. Pretty soon after getting started I knew I had too many clothes on. It was a super sunny day and it was relatively warm. Quite the opposite of the week before. Matt stayed with me for my first 3.5 miles, but then we went our separate ways. I had a hard time toward the end, electing to walk most of the 8th mile, but I was happy to have finished the eight and check it off the list!

I did a short run on Monday, continuing to take advantage of the nice weather. The run was pretty uneventful, but one of my quickest paces. It made me feel a lot better about how I finished my miles the day before. Wednesday was the return of my buddy runner! So exciting. We got a late start after having to attend an after school meeting. We planned to do two since it was late, but got to a little over three before we were really running in the dark. This is the best part of having a running buddy...even when you are feeling lazy (like Sunday), or have a decent excuse (Wednesday), having a buddy provides a little extra motivation and stay accountable to your training plan.

Friday was my last day of school for this year. My running buddy and I decided that we should do our last longest run on Saturday, our first day of break, to get it checked off the list. I can't say I was too excited to get out from under the blanket I was laying on the couch with, but the thought of tapering after this run after was exciting. At about .5 miles in, we saw one of our students who we tease all the time about ringing his doorbell to join us for a run. When he saw us, he turned and sprinted in the opposite direction. He ran into his garage and hid by the car. He then decided to join us for a half mile jog around the block. Hilarious. It was a training first. Our last ten miler brought me to 24.33 miles for the week! Only 18 more days until Disney. The time is going to fly with all the excitement in between!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Marathon Monday

This past week's theme: WIND. Oh my goodness was it windy. You might remember that I was having a rough go of it last week. I rebounded pretty well. I did my long run for the week last Sunday. That's when I thought it was windy (Wednesday hadn't happened yet). It was pretty chilly out, but kind of sunny. I got dressed and stood on my porch for a couple minutes to make sure my outfit was weather appropriate. I thought it was, but then I left my porch and found out I probably should have a warmer top on. The first two miles of that run was like running in a wind tunnel, but the wind was swirling. Crazy. During mile six I think the wind chill was frostbite like. I was very happy to finish after eight miles.

My other two runs this week were after school on Monday and Wednesday. Monday was cold, but fine. I just did a quick 3.14 miles around my school. Wednesday was so cold and so windy. There was one point on my Wednesday run where I swear I wasn't moving forward. The wind was so strong. I felt like maybe my miles should count double. I was so disappointed on Friday...I wanted to try to do some miles, but when I went to go change after work I realized I had forgotten my running stuff at home. Ooops! I guess 14.77 miles is better than the 7ish last week. There is now under one month left until my race, 25 days to be exact!

On a side note, I was feeling lazy and not so motivated on Saturday evening when I was thinking about my long run for Sunday. Then I got this very kind text from a friend. Big thanks to Chris Miller for helping me find some optimism and helping me get my self in gear.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas at The White House

The Cross Hall and Grand Foyer with the Blue Room tree in the background
Yesterday Matt and I went to the White House! Back in July, when we were on a mission to be tourists in our own city, we asked for a tour. I suggested Christmas time so that we could see it all decorated. Little did we know at the time that it would be perfect timing with the program that we went to at the Archives on Thursday. The program definitely helped me spot details and know a little bit extra background information.

The Blue Room's 18 foot tree, decorated with the theme America the Beautiful
Close up of the 2,000 ornaments
This post is going to be few on words and heavy on pictures. Overall the tour was only OK. It is self guided and you don't get to see much of the White House. I suppose security really should be the priority. And speaking of security, it took us longer to actually get into the White House than the time we actually spent inside. Those things mentioned, I'm still glad we went. The decorations are very beautiful and the whole place smelled so good. It really just smelled like you think Christmas should smell! And obviously it's really neat to be inside. I leave you with the rest of the pictures and the details I remember :)

The White House Library
Vermeil Room
The China Room, decorated with Gingerbread Cookies

The East Room
The State Dining Room displayed the decorating theme this year, Winter Wonderland
The 300 pound Gingerbread White House 
A close-up of the trees in the Cross Hall and Grand Foyer
The icicles, snowflakes, and stars on the trees and trims represent a child's wonder
In front of The White House, we didn't even have to jump the fence!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday Love

This week was so busy! My little friends at school are keeping me on my toes, and I'm sure they will be making sure to do so next week too. I have definitely earned my weekend. We are taking a trip to the White House tomorrow! I'm really excited, and I can't wait to share more about it on my blog soon. Have a great weekend!


Soup Exchange Party. I read about {this} idea for a winter party on another blog earlier this week. I love this idea! I'm thinking about trying with my friends after the holidays. Anyone want to join me?


Marcel the Shell. This might be the most ridiculous thing I have seen, but also the cutest. I was laughing out loud on multiple occasions. I even watched the other two videos. I don't even like YouTube videos. Oh, Marcel.


Our Christmas Tree. I was feeling a little grinchy and had kinda decided to forgo a Christmas tree this year. I thought we wouldn't be home enough to enjoy it, and it's always such a process to bring all the stuff out and then to put it all away. I had a change of heart last weekend and decided we would forgo all other decor, but put up the tree. I suppose it was a good idea.


Our Fireplace. The day we put up the tree, we also decided to turn on our fireplace. Best idea ever! We have been enjoying it ever since. I'm only slightly terrified about the bill I am going to receive as a result.


The whole panel
History of the Holidays at the White House. Last night Matt and I went to the Archives to listen to a panel talk about decorating the White House for the holidays. It was the perfect event for us. It had history for Matt, and decorating and Tim Gunn for me. The other panelists included Lynda Johnson Robb (daughter of LBJ), Genevieve Gorder from HGTV, former White House Chief Usher Gary Walters, and Coleen Christian Burke, author of Christmas with the First LadiesEach of the panelists had some experience being in the White House during the holidays. My favorite part was listening to the stories of the White House Usher and the author of the book. I really liked that even though the program was very historical the panel kept it funny and entertaining. It was a lot of fun!

Lynda Johnson Robb's stocking from LBJ's last year in office

Monday, December 8, 2014

Marathon Monday

So here's the truth. Sometimes I still strongly dislike running. Sometimes I have no motivation. Sometimes the weather is crappy. And sometimes miles just don't really fit into the schedule. Last week was alllll of these things. Then there was the fact that I was just being super negative about training.

I just felt very 'done' with the training process last week. I was wishing I could have already run the half marathon and just not have to worry about getting these miles in. I think my schedule was just off with traveling to Pittsburgh and then hosting Matt's family for an extended Thanksgiving celebration. I'm glad to say I am already back on track and in a more positive mood this week. I need that attitude to last at least another 32 days!

The very short two runs that I did do last week were after school. Neither of them were great, and one was in the rain. I'm disappointed in my 7.16 miles, but at the same time, if I'm trying to be positive, I guess that's better than none. Here's to a better month ahead!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thanksgiving Break

We had a wonderful time visiting Pittsburgh over the Thanksgiving holiday. In addition to spending Thanksgiving day with our family, we were also able to take advantage of some Pittsburgh culture and a last minute side trip to Penn State. 

Warhol's Silver Clouds
We ended up getting a little bit of a bonus day the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Matt had already taken the day off from work so we could leave around lunch time when I was finished with school. We changed our minds on Tuesday evening when winter weather was predicted for our route to Pittsburgh. We decided to take our extra day and spend it at the Andy Warhol Museum downtown.
Silk Screenings
The museum is seven floors completely dedicated to the life and artwork of Warhol. It is recommended that you take the elevator to the top of the museum and work your way down. That's what we did. What I really liked about the museum was the way that it was organized, each floor showed a decade of Andy Warhol's life. I also liked going and looking at Warhol's artwork that was recognizable and relatable to someone like me. I felt like the museum also did a good job showcasing Warhol's other endeavors and the events in his life as well. They also made connections between the artwork and American culture at the time. 

Warhol's Screen Tests
On Friday we were able to go to the Penguins game with my parents. We had tickets that were right on the ice. We had a good time watching and feeling like we were part of the action. We had a lot of hockey players being shoved into us and pucks flying at the glass. It was a little bit scary, but definitely really cool. I don't think there is any other sport where you can get so close to the action.

Saturday we took an impromptu trip to Penn State. My sister was given some extra tickets and Matt and I decided to take advantage of them. We arrived in State College right before game time, so we didn't have much time to spend in town or tailgating, but since it was so cold that probably worked out for the best. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see a very good game, but it's always fun and exciting to be in Beaver Stadium and to visit Penn State!

After the game we drove back to Virginia. It was a long day, but definitely worth it. Now we are back into the work routine and looking forward to Christmas break! Only 2.5 more weeks!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Marathon Monday

2014 Pittsburgh Turkey Trot
My training schedule was quite action packed this past week! I started out my week with a long run on Sunday. It was a little rough keeping the motivation to get out of bed and get started, but once I got going things went very well. I did 10 miles...the longest I have gone by myself in a long time. And it was at my fastest pace ever for that distance! 

Tuesday I was determined to get some miles in before leaving for our Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh. I dragged my friend along with me. We had just enough time for two miles before the sun was gone. The sunset that night was beautiful. Below is just one stage of it. 

Benefits of Daylight Savings Running
Thanksgiving morning I had signed up for the Pittsburgh Turkey Trot 5 miler. Last Thanksgiving I participated in the 5k race and it was FREEZING. I was very happy that while it wasn't warm, it wasn't 8 degrees. The weather ended up actually being pretty close to perfect for running. I really enjoyed the first 3-4 miles of the race, but after that it got a little redundant. We kept having to loop around the same area. I finished the race in under my goal time. The race also made me really hungry for Thanksgiving dinner!

Finally, on Saturday I decided to try the treadmill in my parents' basement. It was a nice reminder that the treadmill is just not for me. I stuck it out for four miles. All the while fretting that I would fall off or bore myself to death. Luckily, neither happened. Later that day I added four more miles gallivanting the Penn State campus.

I am also pleased to report that the beginning of this week brought us into the threes for my Runcation countdown! After my 25.2 miles this week we are down to 38 days! So exciting!!!