March On In

It’s the first day of March and ours came in with a snow storm and sunshine!  Don’t we just have the oddest weather?!

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It’s also my dad’s birthday!  Happy birthday Dad!!!

To be honest, I am ready for a new month.  I struggled throughout February to really find my rhythm.  Towards, the end I got back into my groove, and I am ready to March On In to this next month…hopefully surrounded by spring weather!

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February Goals

Change my name…Done!  I am officially a Misses!  I still have a few other forms to fill out but all of the important stuff is done.  Now, I just need to practice my signature.

Cook some new recipes…Ok, so I haven’t challenged myself in the Polynesian realm (yet), but let me just tell you that my Island Pork Tenderloin and Mustard Chicken are two of our new favorite dinners.

Create a budget and bucket list…Done and Done!

Maintain my vacation Zen…This was this month’s fail!  I started the month with the Bora Bora blues and although I have finally snapped out of my funk.  It was a tough adjustment back to the real world : )

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March Goals

Workout 5 days a week (this means strength and 10k training)

Start practicing more yoga at home (I’m practicing my press to handstands and I love it!)

Update my blog (there is much to do!)

Unplug and be present!

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What are your March goals?

Unplanned Unplug

I’m back again…

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I swear I didn’t plan to be gone from the blogging world for that long, it just sort of happened.  No I haven’t been reading blogs either so there is much to catch up on!  I’ve just been slammed on so many fronts and at the end of the day just didn’t have the time or energy to talk about it.  Enter in a scheduled ‘down’ weekend.  Well if you can call cramming errands into your Friday night and a workout, teaching a kids yoga class, and a facial into your Saturday all before 2pm ‘down’ time?!

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Anyways, in case you’ve missed me, here’s what I’ve been up to…

Nashville was wonderful, catching up with my girls, eating amazing food, and listening to fresh, live music!

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Bonuts from Biscuit Love…Mmm!

 

Devouring chocolate fondue with my amazing coworkers at All Chocolate Kitchen!

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Like, I really DOVE right in : )

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Celebrating our last wedding shower!

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My Bridesmaids

 

Followed by family fun and a birthday dinner at Cooper’s Hawk!

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And then my sister in laws 30th birthday party!

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Drinking PSL’s (Pumpkin Spice Lattes)

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And doing office coffee runs

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Trying out wedding nails

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Baking!

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Doing tons and tons of yoga!  And prepping for this morning’s classes…

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Freaking out that my wedding is only 4 weeks away…

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I’m hoping to be back up and running now as a blogger, so more updates, recipes, and pictures to come! 

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I hope!

Jetsetter

I’m Baaack!

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But I’m leaving again…

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Off to Nashville on Friday for a girl’s weekend!  Can’t wait!

In between – It’s super busy! 

Let’s see…there’s unpacking, Cooper loving, laundry, a 5 mile run (yesterday), paperwork, tea drinking, wine drinking, free latte drinking, cleaning, repacking, hot yoga (this morning), and OH YEA, celebrating my #34thBirthday TODAY!

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I can’t believe it’s been one year since I wrote my 33 Things to do While I’m 33 post.  Rereading it now, it does seem rather ambitious, but it warms my heart to see all that I’ve done this year that’s on the list.  What an incredible 365 days!  I’m looking forward to another exciting and special year ahead!

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Until then…enjoy an early #tbt pic from my quick cruise to CocoCay this past weekend!

See you next week!

Back to Life…

This past week’s motto was ‘Living on Dreams and Caffeine’ and it was one nutty week!

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But now that studying is behind me, it’s time to get Back to Life!!!

What I’m Looking Forward To…

Day Drinking and Thai

That about sums up Saturday.

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Exercise & Yoga

Kids yoga starts back soon.

 

A Little Pampering

I have a morning at the salt spa and a facial scheduled next weekend.

 

Serial

You know how you go from never hearing about something to having 3 people talk about it in 2 days?  That’s what happened with Serial.  I just needed a little help learning how to download podcasts.

 

Shopping & Returns

Super excited to use my 25% Athleta Friends and Family

 

Reading

Anything but a textbook!

 

Celebrations

Surprise! We had a wonderful belated party for my parents’ birthdays this morning.

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Binge watch Scandal

I’m so behind…

 

OMG!  Wedding!

Need I say more?! There is much to do!

 

Green Beer and Soda Bread

Well actually just a Shamrock Shake : )

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Spring

Hooray for sunny skies and melting snow!

 

March Madness

Indiana with a 10 spot. Woo hoo!

 

Catching Up with Cooper

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It will feel amazing to wake up tomorrow and get back to my ‘normal’ routine!

What are you looking forward to this spring?

Marching On

So hard to come up with a March title I haven’t used in the past.  No guarantee that this is one but I didn’t have the energy to look through the past few years of blogging.  So it’s March…in like a…what? Lion/Lamb?  Tough to tell from the library where I spent most of my weekend.

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Saturday started at Starbucks.  It took two tries to find one with a big table that was quiet enough for studying, but once I did, I was set for 3 hours of cramming.  Then I grabbed a sandwich and went home for a quick lunch with the guys.  I brewed up some iced tea and headed off to the library for another few hours of caffeinated information overload.

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The BOY and I had a fantastic Saturday night date night with new beers, chicken finger salad, and more binge watching the Blacklist.

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I went to bed early so that I would be bright eyed for Sunday morning yoga.  I have not been doing much exercise lately…instead focused on sleep, work, and studying, so this yoga class was a huge highlight of my week!

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Even more fun because I was there with my mom. We did a unique flow using all sides of our mat in a mandala. It was challenging, my muscles were sore, but I LOVED it.  Afterwards, my mom and I went to Whole Foods to stock up on goodies for the week ahead (and a few study snacks for the day).

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I went back to the library for the majority of Sunday until it closed at 5pm, when I picked up the BOY to meet my parents out for dinner to celebrate my Dad’s birthday (it’s today).

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We had a fantastic dinner with lots of laughter!  It was a wonderful way to start the month and celebrate my dad!

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Needless to say, February was not the month I thought it would be.  Although I kept my goals in mind, they just weren’t top priority.  Spending time with my family and friends…appreciating the little moments and experiences…that is what I focused on!

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February Goals

1. Continue to prioritize studying. CHECK!  It’s going pretty well!

2. Drink less soda. DOUBLE CHECK!  I’ve been brewing lots of iced tea.

3. Eat clean.  No Check!  Well…let’s just say I’ve been indulging in a few (but not all) of my cravings.

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March Goals

After some thought, I’ve decided to take a break from goals this month. There is a lot going on and so I am going to just focus on getting through it all with a smile on my face : )  I’ll be back with spring goals next month!

 

Are you setting March Goals?  What’s up this month?

Winter Workouts

Hello Friends!

I have not forgotten you!  In fact, I started this post over a week ago and life has been so crazy that I never had the time to finish it and share it.  Today looked like it was going to be another day of madness.  Mondays are usually a tough day for me to get to work but even worse after a busy weekend.  I worked Saturday morning and taught two kids yoga classes.  This group is so sweet and so much fun! 

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Then we immediately jetted into the city to celebrate my younger brother’s 30th birthday.  We spent Saturday watching Illinois take a football victory and then drinking tons of prosecco into the night.  On Sunday, we met my family for brunch and pizza.

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Needless to say I was wiped when I got home and confused and depressed when my alarm went off early this morning.  But since I didn’t want to work Friday, I decided to work today.  It looked like it was going to be a rough start when I got stopped by not one, but TWO trains on my way to work.  But some icy snow and parent teacher conferences led to a bunch of last minute cancels, allowing me to be home by 6:30pm to eat dinner and watch Indiana Basketball with the BOY.

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So what have I been up to these past few weeks???

Lots of working and working out.  And in between?  Sleeping, reading, letting the BOY make dinner, and obviously not blogging : )

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Homemade pizza night (from Chef BOY)

When you live in a city like Chicago, your workouts change with the weather.  For the past few years, I’ve fallen into a cycle of spending the summers outdoors as a cardio queen, biking and running, and trying to get to a weekly hot yoga class.  Once the weather turns colder and the sun rises later, my outdoor morning runs turn into spin or strength classes at the gym.  My weekends consist of shorter (due to the cold weather) runs as able and strenuous hot yoga classes.  My motivation wanes a bit and it takes some extra incentive to get me out of the house and into the cold.

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Which is where friends come into the picture!  I met a friend last weekend at a forest preserve path in between our houses for a run through the snowy woods.  An hour of catching up on life is always a HUGE motivator for me.  In the mornings, I am back to speed workouts at the indoor track.

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Most recently, I gave this workout a go and was a big fan…

10 minute warm up

30 second sprint/90 second recovery x8

10 minute cool down

On top of running, I have been attending a weekly hot yoga class and a weekly strength class.  It’s early in the morning but I really like the people and every workout is unique and challenging.  Some morning I come home and some mornings its breakfast and a shower at the gym.

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The early morning wake ups (think pre 6am) are always an adjustment to all of us.  Even Cooper gets a bit out of whack.

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But despite the exhaustion, lack of sunshine, sore legs, and limited free time for fun stuff (like reading and writing blogs), I always feel really good when I am more active and building strength.  This week ahead is an exciting one, so I will hopefully have some new Thanksgiving recipes, fun family stories, and of course Cooper shenanigans to share when I return.  It won’t be so long this time, I promise!

 

Do your workouts change for winter?  What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

Taste > Perfection

Whoopie pies are a labor of love!

But when the BOY requested them for his birthday dessert this weekend, of course I said YES!

However…I cheated a little bit.  Instead of going to my favorite Whoopie Pie book, I went to the baking aisle and bought a cake mix.  A girl only has so many hours in a day and mine have been busy studying, cooking, and cuddling with my cat.  So I figured a few short cuts would be just fine.  The BOY wanted a chocolate peanut butter combo and thanks to Pinterest, I was able to find plenty of options.

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I chose a triple chocolate cake recipe.  In my haste, I totally overfilled my adorable little whoopie pie pans, but they tasted just the same.  Don’t worry, I checked!

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My next problem came when I tried to pipe the peanut butter frosting onto the cookies.  Unfortunately, I cut my bag all wrong allowing frosting to ooze out from all angles.  This led to a messier situation than I expected, and I was so covered with frosting that I couldn’t get any shots.

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There may have been more frosting on my counter than made it into my sandwiches.

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But despite my lack of precision, the pies turned out GREAT!  I put a few aside for the BOY to enjoy on his birthday (he ate 4 the first day) and froze the rest for future consumption.  Except that I did slice off just one tiny bite from the freezer section and discovered that they taste exactly like a peanut butter chocolate ice cream sandwich! 

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No joke!  They are addicting!

Consider yourself warned!

Do you make special desserts for birthdays?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies

From The Pink Flour

Makes 16 sandwiches

For the Cake Cookies

1 chocolate cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (350 degrees for convection).

Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat together the cake mix, eggs, water & vegetable for 2-3 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat (or invest in a whoopie pie pan). Scoop the batter on the baking sheet using a small ice cream scoop, approximately 1 1/2 – 2 inches in diameter.

Bake for 8 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool on baking sheet for 1 minute and then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.

For the Filling

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (crunchy would work too!)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar

In a stand mixer (or using hand mixer), beat together the cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth.

Add vanilla and powdered sugar (1 cup at a time) and beat until light a fluffy.

Fill pastry bag (or plastic bag) with frosting and snip end of the bag. Turn one cookie upside down and pipe frosting on to the cookie and then top with another cookie.

Store in airtight container or freeze!

Monday Weekend Wrap Up

Happy Labor Day!

I hope that everyone had a great weekend appreciating the last joys of summer and the ability to wear white : )

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We had a little bit of everything going on this weekend.  Starting with wedding planning Friday night, a Saturday AM hot yoga class and venue visits Saturday afternoon.  Followed by an early morning run with a buddy Sunday morning.  And then birthday celebrations in the city and shenanigans the rest of the weekend. 

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Now it’s Monday and I scheduled in some much needed downtime for us.  I feel like we have been running non stop with little time to catch our breaths.  Perhaps that is common of everybody trying to hold on to the last few moments of summer before it fades into fall.  And speaking of running, I have been preparing for the half marathon I am scheduled to do in 2 weeks.  I don’t know if it is this first taste of thick humid air, the fact that I am now 33, or all of the things going on in our lives right now, but I have not found my running groove.  Whereas I usually LOVE the 13.1 distance, I am not looking forward to this upcoming race.  Based on my recent runs (and lack of mileage), I’m sure that I will struggle a bit to finish…even without worrying about my time.

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It seems that there are many changes with age (which occurred to me as I was the oldest person at yesterday’s birthday party).  But I have to brag that I still got it when it comes to flip cup and can hang with the 20 somethings.  After sleeping in until 10am and spending the majority of the morning with my sister in law looking for a Thai place that was open to deliver us delicious fried rice (with no success), the only option I wanted for dinner was Thai!  We also did some wedding searching and pinning in between complaining about our lack of spicy peanut chicken.

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My favorite peanut butter in homemade Thai is homemade peanut butter!  We went to the grocery store on our way home from the city and picked up ingredients and I had fresh PB before the crockpot was heated up.

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I had dinner in the crockpot, laundry in the machine, and a few things picked up and was seated comfortably on my couch for an afternoon of quiet time.  Sad news…I may need to fire my wedding planner for sleeping on the job!

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Our Thai dinner turned out incredible (not that I am surprised as Erin has some mouth watering recipes) and totally hit the spot!

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What else hit the spot?  This weekend!  Spending time with friends and family, enjoying the outdoors, a much needed yoga class, and getting back to cooking and meal planning.  What more do you need?

 

MealPlanning 9/01/14

Monday: Slow Cooker Thai Chicken

Tuesday: BBQ Pork/Lamb and Green Beans

Wednesday: Turkey Taco Casserole

Thursday: Grilled Chicken and Veggies

How did you spend your weekend?

 

Slow Cooker Thai Chicken

Slightly Adapted From The Law Student’s Wife

Ingredients

2, 14-ounce cans light coconut milk

1 cup low-sodium chicken stock

1/4 cup peanut butter (homemade!)

3 tablespoons red curry paste

2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

3 cups peeled and 1/2-inch cubed butternut squash pieces (about 1 pound) I didn’t use squash because the BOY doesn’t like it but I’m sure it would be awesome!

2 red bell peppers, cored and sliced

2 green bell peppers, cored and sliced

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 cups frozen peas, thawed

2 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 lime)

Directions

In a 5-quart or larger slow cooker, stir together the coconut milk, chicken stock, peanut butter, curry paste, fish sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Place the chicken breast, squash, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and onion in the slow cooker and stir gently to coat with sauce. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.

Thirty minutes before you are ready to serve, add the peas. Immediately before serving, stir in lime juice. Serve garnished with cilantro, atop brown rice.

33 Things to do While I’m 33

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Another year…where did it go?

Usually around birthdays, I get really introspective.  This year, I’m just really busy!  Happy, excited, and super busy!

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This past year has been an awesome one!  And I know that there are many more exciting things to come!  So I decided to come up with 33 fun, healthy, and random things to do while I’m 33…

#33Things

1. Do a century bike ride

2. Visit old friends

3. Drink more water

4. Plan a wedding

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5. Host a party

6. Volunteer

7. Complete another olympic distance tri

8. Teach at a yoga studio

9. Host Thanksgiving

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10. Read more non fiction

11. Drink bubbles with my SIL and her future SIL

12. Get facials

13. Buy new make up

14. Wear make up

15. Watch old movies

16. Meet a blogger friend

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17. Write an article

18. Donate to the animal shelter

19. Take a professional test

20. Take a photography class

21. Get a 6 pack (abs that is)

22. Cuddle with my kitten

23. Make new friends

24. Throw another fiesta

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25. Clean out my closets

26. Build strong arms

27. Survive an amazing bachelorette party

28. Write better thank you notes

29. Hike and camp

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30. Learn from my parents

31. Visit a new state

32. Play a tennis match with a friend

33. Keep it real!

 

What is on your list of things to do before your next birthday???

I’m Still Addicted to the Tour!

After not getting to watch much of the tour this week, I arrived home from work last night with Chipotle for dinner declaring that I would be watching hours of the tour to catch up before today’s time trials.  The BOY was too exhausted to fight and knew that not only was he outnumbered (Cooper is now a fan) that he really should be studying!

My triathlon friend had a last minute change of plans and invited me to join her on her longest BRICK this morning.  I confessed that I was nowhere near 100% and with my company may come a few snot rockets.  She didn’t seemed phased and we agreed to meet at the River path near my house.

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As I fell asleep last night, it occurred to me that I didn’t have anything to eat for breakfast and was lacking the usual fuel I would bring along for a training ride.  When I woke up, I decided to go to one of my favorite training breakfasts, the Dough Boy Smoothie.  Typically, I would set everything up the night before, but instead, I threw the ingredients (using a peach and some blueberries instead of banana) into the blender first thing this morning.  Then, got about feeding Cooper breakfast and pulling together my gear for the BRICK, before blending it all together.

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Breakfast was lacking some protein, but super delicious and exactly what I knew my stomach would need on a day like today.  And, I found a few Kind Bars in the pantry to nosh on during the ride.

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I met my friend at the Dairy Queen and we took a quick pre ride selfie before riding north.  This is the same path I rode a few weeks ago at the start of the tour.  I made it farther north today than last time, but still didn’t find the mountains : )  We had a time goal instead of a mileage goal, but after 3 hours, we had almost 33 miles behind us.  We rode a pretty slow pace, which was perfect for my body, but I had more energy than I expected.  Finally, some benefit of sitting on the couch for a few days!

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It was quick switch out of helmets before making our way back to the trail for a 30 minute run jog during which we talked books.  I raved about Reconstructing Amelia and she told me how funny Bossy Pants was.  I need to pick that up before our trip to California!  I was definitely tired when we strode back into the Dairy Queen parking lot, but not nearly as wrecked as I expected.

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Post Brick Selfie

I stopped at my favorite sandwich shop (Which Wich?) on the way home to grab a warm chicken pesto on wheat that I devoured during the start to today’s tour on the DVR.

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After lunch and a shower, I wanted nothing more than to sit back and watch time trials.  But I had a first birthday party to attend!  I was able to watch Tony Martin and saved the rest for tonight, which I knew might take some convincing when the BOY returned from the library.

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The First Birthday Fiesta was super fun!  It is always wonderful to catch up with my high school friends and clown around a bit. 

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On a fun note, the uncle of the birthday boy is a chef in Napa Valley.  He and his girlfriend cooked up the most incredible fiesta meal complete with homemade churros.  Of course, I introduced myself and they had a few suggestions for our mostly unplanned upcoming trip.  The BOY returned from the library with food on his mind.  I’m sure you guessed it, but he called in an order for Thai food, which I happily scooped up on my way home.  Even though I ate at the party, I always have room for a few bites of Thai.

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We ate dinner in while watching the nail biting finale of today’s time trial, and I’m sure I won’t make it up late tonight after this morning’s LONG workout.  I am looking forward to a revitalizing morning yoga class.  On a totally different note, thanks to everyone for the pep talk after my running woes. I have no expectations for this upcoming half marathon, but appreciate you letting me vent about my lack of training and cheering me right along!

 

Have you been following the tour?

What was your workout today?