I know, I know. Not another list of things that someone is thankful for on Thanksgiving, right? I get it. But to be entirely honest, even though my list this year looks an awful lot like last year’s list, I feel the need to do it all again, if only for myself. Because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday: yes, because of the awesome food, and the parade, and the annual post-dinner viewing of Home Alone, but mainly because it is a holiday entirely devoted to spending time with people you love and being thankful for what you have. And for some reason, this year more than ever before, I am bursting with gratitude. That being said, here’s what I’m most thankful for this year:
This year brought a lot of changes (and thus a lot of stress) to my school, but even on my worst day, I still feel like I have the most rewarding job on the planet. I’ve been able to reconnect with a lot of former students in the past few months, and every single mini reunion reinforced this idea for me. At worst, these kids will leave my class at the end of the year not remembering much. At best, I’ve left some kind of impression on them—enough for them to want to come back and share their lives with me several years down the road. I went into teaching saying my goal was to impact just one kid throughout my career. I think I can say I’ve done that, and I want to keep going.
My social circle is a lot smaller than it was in high school (I mean, whose isn’t?), but the people I keep close to me are people I know I can count on for anything at any time. There have been quite a few instances in the past year where I have needed or wanted my friends’ love, support, and presence, from my grandmother’s funeral to my engagement, and these people were unequivocally there for me. I couldn’t ask for anything more than that.
My grandmother’s death put a lot of things in perspective, but most of all, it reinforced the idea that family is absolutely everything. I could go on and on about every little thing my parents, grandparents, and Funk have done for me this year, but then I’d be rambling and no one wants that. I’ll keep it simple and say this: my family is not perfect (duh), but they are my rock, in good times and bad. I am so, so blessed to have so many people who love and support me without question or hesitation.
I’ve been thankful for Nick for the six years that I’ve known him, but this year I am overwhelmingly grateful for his role in my life. Since we got engaged over two months ago, I’ve often thought about how downright lucky I am to spend the rest of my life with a man who is smart, kind, generous, and loving, someone who puts my happiness and well being above all else. I am thankful that we were able to celebrate our engagement with my grandmother before she passed (and that I knew, without any doubt, that she approved of him). Quite simply, I am thankful that I have a partner who will support, challenge, and love me for many, many years to come.
I know this is something I take for granted on a daily basis, but it cannot and should not be overlooked. I can get up in the morning, go to work, go to the gym, and get a full night’s sleep without any major issues. Seems simple, but there are so many people who do not have the luxury of a healthy body. I am beyond grateful that I can live my life without any major complications, and I hope that I can do so for a long, long time.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
After running the Rock ‘n Roll DC Half Marathon this past March, I made a deal with myself: I would totally train for another half marathon in the future, as long as that race was one of the races on my bucket list: the Disney Princess Half or the Nike Women’s Half in San Francisco. I have wanted to run these races for at least the last three years, but the timing (and cost!) just never seemed to work out. “Someday,” I told myself.
The other thing I told myself after the DC race? That if I was going to run a race other than the two on my bucket list, I’d run it in a new location: no repeating my run in the Baltimore Half or in DC, either. If I was going to train for 13.1 miles, I was going to make it a whole new experience—I figured this would make it more meaningful, or at least keep me motivated.
Then, when I opened my email this afternoon, I saw a message from Team in Training advertising the inaugural Nike Women’s Half Marathon…in DC on April 28, 2013. And my thoughts went something like this:
- Another TNT email? I am so not training for another race this year.
- HOLY $%&#! A Nike Women’s that isn’t on the other side of the country?!
- I wouldn’t have to pay travel costs.
- The course is nearly flat!! In San Fran, it’s, um, not flat. At all.
- But you’ve run a course in DC before. LAME.
- But NWHMs are supposed to be stellar. Like, “firefighters in tuxedos handing out Tiffany necklaces at the finish line” stellar. Oh, and the whole “girl power” thing is probably wicked inspiring, too.
- Could I really raise another $1400 for TNT right now?
- Could I really train for another half in the middle of wedding planning and finishing my Master’s?
- Can I enter the race and not train with TNT? Would that be better or worse?
And so on and so forth.
Here’s the big thing on my mind: if I’m going to run a race, and I’m going to raise money, I want to do it in honor of my grandmother. Gram battled three separate types of cancer in the last twenty years (breast, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and colon), and two weeks ago, she lost her battle with colon cancer. I could train with TNT and have my money go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma society, or I could fund raise on my own and give all of that money to a colon cancer charity (I mean, I can do that, right?) Regardless of what I choose, if I do run this race, I am doing it for Gram.
So, which is it: yay or nay? In or out? I signed up for my last half marathon on a total whim; should I do it again?
Oh, hi! Yes, this blog does still exist, contrary to popular belief.
The reasons for my lack of posting is pretty basic and pretty lame: life is busy. My workouts are not exciting (run, elliptical, lift, repeat), and my meals are embarrassingly repetitive (I’m going to turn into a pan of chicken stir fry soon). Even my baking has been tedious (these chocolate chip cookies cannot be improved on. They are perfect; therefore, they are my new go-to recipe). That being said, I do miss posting, so I thought I’d drop in with a little stream-of-consciousness nonsense in the meantime. Enjoy for now, and check back soon for a good, new recipe or workout. I’m sure I’ll come up with one eventually!
- Some days I hate running. I’ll do it because I know it’s good for me and because it’s an easy, do-anywhere way to fit in a workout. Other days I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t run. As I posted as my Facebook status today: some days my biggest accomplishment is not punching anyone in the face. Those days tend to be the days when I have my best runs—and when I realize that running has become my best outlet for stress and aggression release. There are a lot of things I like to do to decompress, but running is at the top of that list.
- This tea is great for about the first five sips. Then it starts to get a little…sickly? I’ll probably still finish the entire box.
- Wedding planning is like a part-time job in and of itself. I always thought people were overreacting when they said that, but they’re not. Finding a place that fits what we’re looking for (and fits in our budget!) takes a lot of time and patience. Nick and I are visiting four venues this weekend and hoping to book something ASAP. Cross your fingers for us—I feel like once the venue is booked, I’ll actually feel a lot better.
- I’ve gained back two of the seven pounds I lost this summer. I’m not that upset about it, but I am disappointed in myself. I know how they came back on: I fell back into bad habits as soon as school started (snacking out of boredom or exhaustion, cutting out my evening walk due to lack of time/sunlight, etc.) and I’m hoping to get back on track. I’d like to be more mindful of what and why I’m eating, something that seems to be really hard for me once school starts back up in the fall.
- I already mentioned it above, but seriously guys. This cookie recipe is perfection. And it is infinitely adaptable! I’ve tossed in Heath bits, M&Ms, Snickers, etc. and it’s all so, so good. Chilling the dough seems to be the key, and the longer I chill it, the better. Forty eight hours has yielded the best results thus far: chewy on the inside, crispy on the outside, and just the right amount of caramel goodness. MAKE THESE NOW.
- I know this is lame, but I love routine, and when I fall out of my routine, my entire body falls out of whack. The last few weeks, I’ve been going to bed WAY too late, been distracted by the computer and TV for WAY too long every night, and I’ve been paying for it by feeling overtired and grumpy. I have fallen out of my habit of reading for 30-45 minutes every night before bed, something that truly relaxes and exhausts me (in a good way!) I recommitted myself to this again earlier this week and I’m already sleeping and feeling better.
- I love trashy reality TV, but even I won’t watch this Honey Boo Boo show. Or The Real Housewives of Miami. Even I have standards, people.
- I need new running music. I’ve slowly been adding songs to my playlist, but the majority of tunes on my iPod are way, way too old and overplayed. Suggestions are welcome!
- You know you’re a dorky English teacher when you get excited that your students understand an abstract concept like irony. I almost did a dance when I read their responses today and saw that they truly understood it. It’s the little things that make my job awesome.
- Life is good right now. It’s not perfect: work is sometimes overwhelming, there’s some family stuff going on, etc etc. But every day, I’ve been trying to take a minute to focus on the positive and appreciate what I do have: my health, my family, my friends, my fiance, my career. I’m in a good place, and I sometimes can’t believe I was lucky enough to end up where I did.
After nearly six years together, Nick and I have found that we celebrate “us” an obnoxious number of times throughout the year.
We “celebrate” the day we met (usually by acknowledging it and thanking our lucky stars that it happened).
We celebrate two anniversaries: the one when we first kissed and the one when we made our relationship “official” nearly two months later.
And now we have another day to celebrate “us” to add to the calendar:
September 14, 2012: The day we got ENGAGED!
So, like a lot of things in our relationship, our engagement wasn’t necessarily traditional. First of all, we designed the ring together, using the center stone from my grandmother’s engagement ring. We chose a jeweler together and then hand picked the style and setting. I loved being involved in the design of the ring, and I love knowing that I am wearing something that means so much to my grandmother. I’ve only been wearing the ring for three days, but I already look forward to the day that I’ll pass this heirloom down to our children or grandchildren (I’m a sentimental gal, what can I say?!)
I also generally knew when Nick would propose, although he did manage to sneak a few surprises in there! For one, I was expecting to pick up the ring by myself and then meet Nick in Virginia the next day for an unsurprising but nevertheless exciting engagement weekend. Nick was super sneaky, however, and managed to be waiting outside of a little ice cream shop near the jewelry store with a cone of my favorite ice cream in hand (does he know me, or what?) Once I got over the shock of seeing him there (and once we finished our ice cream!) we walked to the store and picked up the ring together, hand in hand.
(Side note: I had convinced myself that picking up the ring alone wouldn’t bother me too much, but it wasn’t until we were there, picking it up together, that I realized how relieved and happy I was that he was with me. I know that the reason he came to surprise me was partly for the element of surprise, but also because he often knows me better than I know myself. He knew how much I wanted him there, and, as always, he was there when I needed him most).
Unfortunately, I had a school function that I absolutely had to attend, so I sent Nick off to my apartment with my keys and told him I would meet him at home within two hours. When I got home, Nick was waiting with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, the ring, and some of the most heartfelt, wonderful things he’s ever said to me.
He asked me to marry him, and I responded with a big, huge, loud “YES!”
We were both too exhausted to really celebrate properly on Friday night (we ordered pizza and ate it at my dad’s house instead. Romantic, I know), so we took Saturday as a day to enjoy ourselves:
Of course we celebrated in the best way possible: with delicious food! We enjoyed brunch at one of our favorite spots in Baltimore (The Golden West Cafe in Hampden) followed by dessert at Dangerously Delicious Pies in Canton (this was the Baltimore Bomb pie, and it was out of control). It was so nice to take our time, enjoy each other’s company and the beautiful weather, and celebrate one of the biggest days of our lives.
Expecting the proposal didn’t make any of this less special. The moment itself and the weekend as a whole were still so very “us,” which, in addition to marrying my best friend, is all that I ever could have hoped for.
Next up: planning a wedding (?!) I guess this is where my outstanding skill at pinning things on Pinterest comes in handy…
There’s always going to be those times, when life itself seems overwhelming.
Balancing work, school, family, friends, significant others, and your own sanity can seem impossible at these times. It gets hard to see the good stuff. But, in my humble opinion, it is at these times that seeing the good stuff is not impossible; it’s absolutely necessary.
These past few weeks have been busy, hectic, emotional, and kind of crazy.
There’s been some bad, but there’s still been a lot of good:
A dinner date with Dad to Facci, where we ordered one of the best pizzas I’ve had since I moved to Maryland.
This ice cream. I’m embarrassed to admit how quickly this disappeared.
One of the many perks of being a teacher? Free coffee during the entire month of September.
The Little Italy Film Festival in Baltimore: my favorite summer activity, hands down. The Almond Joy gelato from Vaccaro‘s was just the cherry on top.
This recipe. I haven’t been doing much legit cooking lately, but I threw this together in no time, and I happily ate the leftovers for days. Delicious.
Date night at Annabel Lee Tavern with Nick, featuring $3 Blue Moons and their famous duck fat fries (aka the main reason I could never truly become a vegetarian).
Dusting off my Garmin (no, this is not a hyperbole) and going for a breezy, comfortable, long-ish Sunday run.
Seeing this on my evening walk after a truly crappy day. There’s nothing like literally seeing the silver lining to put everything back into perspective.
I’ve been surrounded with good company, good food, and good times. I can’t really ask for more than that.
Even though I find myself in the kitchen quite often, it doesn’t mean that I always know what I’m doing.
A lot of the time I’m messing with trial and (lots of) error and hoping for a good result. Sometimes I get one….and sometimes I don’t. That being said, here are some of the more recent lessons (for better and for worse) that I learned in the kitchen this week:
Granulated PureVia may measure cup for cup like sugar, but it doesn’t mean that it’s going to taste or react like real sugar. Less calories in my no-bake chocolate peanut butter cookies? Good. Slightly bitter taste and incredibly dry texture? Sad.
When your cookies are too dry to look like or stay formed as cookies, crumble them into “granola” and pretend like that’s what you meant to do all along.
Almond extract is not an appropriate substitute for vanilla extract. Duh.
Also, a teeeeeeny tiny bit of almond extract goes a long, long way. Trust me.
Everything tastes better with mozzarella cheese. Again, duh.
Wegmans’ garlic basting oil is one of the best condiments I’ve ever used. Ever.
Sometimes the nastiest-looking foods taste the best.
(Roasted eggplant, diced tomatoes, sauteed spinach, garlic oil, bulgur)
They taste even better when you let them sit overnight, and the flavors have time to meld together.
Making sauces from scratch is great, but sometimes it’s just easier (and surprisingly cheaper) to buy one pre-made.
No matter how many cookbooks you have, you’re probably going to find most of your recipes on the internet.
A little success, a little failure, a definite work in progress!