I cannot believe December is already here. It sneaked up on me like it always does. I had meant to post a reminder about 25 Days of Giving last month, but never managed to find the time. I thought maybe you all might have forgotten about it (or thought that I did). But according to my blog traffic which tripled today compared to a few days ago (!), you all have not forgotten! No worries friends, I have also not forgotten! And though this year brings new challenges in finding ways and time to give (because of the new job), with help from friends and family, I’m committed to doing this again this year. Because the point really is that it’s so easy to give back (remember the first year when the BFFE committed to joining me the day that I started without any plans in place? or that my cousin simply posts her giving on Facebook rather than starting a blog? Janelle even made a list of 75 ways to give!), you just have to figure out how you want to do it.
So without further ado, my first day of giving.
That is an ornament on our tree, which is all decorated and ready for Christmas – it has been for a week :D. The ornament is from a few years back when we first started donating to St. Jude’s. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that today, the first day of giving, I am continuing my tradition (first written about here) and donating to St. Jude’s. The donation honors an old friend that passed too soon as one of her charities of choice.
So there it is, the first day of giving – done and done. I’ll be back tomorrow with day 2!
The new job is keeping me pretty busy, but I want to post a quick pic of the Rail Trail I had taken right before starting the new job.
This section of the trail is in downtown York and I had walked it many times when I worked there. But in my eight years working there, I had never brought my camera to take pictures of it. So in between the two jobs I added taking this pic to my list of things to do. As usual, I’m way behind in sharing it. I haven’t been back since I had taken it, so I’m not even sure if all the leaves have fallen off or if they’re a pretty shade of red. Either way, it’s a nice little landscaped haven from the city it is surrounded by and I loved being able to walk through it on my way to the post office or starting a run after work.
As I said, the new job is keeping me busy. But I do get to work on some fun stuff, like naming a new retail store in the mall. Cross your fingers, my contribution is the front runner
This past weekend we made our way up to the last weekend of the PA Ren Faire. I love how they have actors in costume planted throughout the place. I had never noticed that before, but this year there were people bowing before and shouting, “God save the Queen!” that were hard to miss.
The picture above was from the jousting, but the Queen was walking through when we first arrived. Sadly, I didn’t have my camera out at the time. Her dress was insane, would have loved to have captured it in a photo. I did catch a couple of the other actors though, who I believe were some sort of jester and pauper. The jester was having the pauper kneel for a treat. It was weird. But what else do you expect at the Ren Faire? It’s all part of the charm.
You might remember our trip to the Ren Faire last year, or should I say our introduction to the deep fried oreo? To say I was looking forward to hitting up the fried oreo stand is an understatement. I even remembered exactly where it was. So after dinner…
…it was time for fried oreos. Immediately upon approaching the stand I knew something was wrong. I skimmed the sign and didn’t see oreos on it. I tried to calm down and read more carefully. Fried peanuts? What the–?! I asked the kid behind the stand with an increased sense of fear, “Do you have fried oreos?” He said they did last year, but not this year. What?! Don’t you know that’s the entire reason I came here?! I ate spinach for breakfast and lunch!!! AND YOU DON’T HAVE FRIED OREOS?!?!
But then a miracle happened. I looked at the sign again. Fried brownies? Well, that’s intriguing. So we ordered a batch of fried brownies. Covered in whipped cream and salted caramel. It was love at fist bite. It was so rich and decadent, but the richness was offset by the sweet and salty caramel. The outside had a deep fried crunchy texture, while the inside was chewy. One of the friends that we came with and I tried to compare the merits of both the fried oreo and brownie, to decide which is best. We eventually concluded it’s like comparing apples and oranges.
I like to think that there was divine intervention involved in the stand no longer carrying the fried oreo. I can’t imagine living my life and having missed out on the fried brownie. Maybe I’ll even try those fried peanuts next year.
I know I said I’d update you all on the remainder of our trip to Florida, but last weekend I took these pics of a foggy morning in Wrightsville that are too cool not to share. I had intended to take pics of the sunrise reflecting over the Susquehanna (one of the coolest parts of my new commute – I’ve seen some amazing sunrises over the river), but instead of catching an amazing sunrise, I arrived to this:
Fog. Fog so thick I couldn’t even see the water! And it was freezing out too. I felt like I was in San Francisco. That’s the Market street bridge in the background. I have to say after numerous sunrise fails (like this one), I’m starting to realize how lucky I was to catch such a beautiful sunrise on my birthday.
I wasn’t the only one trying to navigate the fog. Without the context of the boat, the fog was literally so thick that you couldn’t tell where the water stopped and the sky began.
The fog eventually started to lift. It was really cool to see it roll off in the distance.
It started getting clearer and clearer and I could start making out small birds over the water.
So I will be back next week to warm you up with picture updates from Florida! Have a great weekend
So… I ran the Hershey Half again this year!
And I have been sore ever since. I didn’t do as well as I did last year (which you can read about here). I hadn’t expected to do as well because I only gave myself two months to train and I really need three. But overall I’m happy with my race time as I only added six minutes as opposed to the 10-15 minutes that I thought it would be. I did make the mistake a lot of runners make: I went out too fast. I’m usually so good at pacing myself that I end up holding back the whole race and have so much energy in the end that I sprint the last mile and half. Because of my lack of training I figured that I didn’t have much to lose, plus I felt really good in the beginning, so I went for it. And didn’t realize how fast I was going ’til mile three. It was just a little bit slower than my fastest 5k. Crap. I slowed up, but it was too late. The last four miles were brutal. I was dehydrated and really struggling with energy, especially on hills.
Then the last stretch finally came into sight. The parking lot was lined with people cheering. So I dug deep and sprinted the last three quarters of a mile. I must have drove the people around me nuts. I was huffin’ and puffin’ so loudly but I couldn’t control it. I passed a ton of people at the end and my time didn’t suck. So it was worth it.
Even though I wasn’t as prepared for it as I would like to have been, I’m really glad I did it. This was my sixth half. And out of all of the other halfs I’ve done, it’s my favorite race for a lot of reasons.
One of the reasons is the swag. You get two free tickets to Hershey Park in the Dark, in addition to a bunch of other cool stuff pictured above. So we went to the park the day before the race and rode all of our favorite rides. Mine is the Tilt-O-Whirl. I laughed my head off. Which caused the hubs to laugh his head off. We must have been a sight. I was loud. And I’m never loud. But it’s such a fun ride, it’s always the first one we do as soon as we get to the park.
Some of the other reasons I love the race are: they cap the race at 5,000 people, it’s close to home, the course is beautiful (albeit a little hilly), you get free chocolate, it’s held during the perfect time of year, and it supports a great cause – The Children’s Miracle Network.
So I may have run a disappointing time, but it was all worth it.
I mentioned last week that we had just gotten back from a little trip and that I had wanted to update you all on the deets. First up: New Orleans. We headed down there for a wedding and had built in a little time to sight-see as we had never been. Now New Orleans hasn’t been on our vacation bucket list (you know us, we like the great outdoors – whether it’s beaches or mountains or road races – but we’re not really into traveling to cities for vacation). So if it weren’t for the wedding, we probably would have never gone. But I’m so glad we did.
It’s such an amazing city with cool little alleyways that give a distintive European and Southern feel at the same time. And it has such an incredibly unique history. We went on a walking tour and learned all the PG-13 history that has shaped this place. I never knew much about New Orleans other than it has strong French roots. It explained a lot about the current day party town atmosphere and anything goes attitude to discover that the city was populated with French convicts and hookers straight out of the Bastille. According to our tour guide, no one wanted this swamp land and it was sort of passed around as a joke between countries until France finally decided to populate the town with prisoners, giving them the choice of prison or a life of freedom (in an arranged marriage with a convict spouse in a strange new world full of other convict couples). That is where the “ball and chain” came from. The government literally paired convicts up using a ball and chain, married them, and sent them off to the US.
I tried to walk around the area as much as possible, but as you can see from the shiny wet ground in most of my pictures, it rained in consistent short spurts throughout the day. We were incredibly fortunate to avoid any kind of wrath from Tropical Storm Karen other than wind and a little bit of rain, so I attempted to soak up as much tourist time as I could when not at wedding related events. We were also fortunate to have a ton of really good friends (also attending the wedding) that had been to the city before to act as our tour guides. Both the picture above and below are from Jackson Square.
It was so cool how you could walk pretty much everywhere without really worrying too much about traffic in the streets. A lot of the roads were barricaded off to car traffic. I love walking on vacations. During our honeymoon in Italy, I made the hubs walk 10 miles in single day (in the pouring down rain not to mention) so that we didn’t miss anything. He wanted to take the subway. I obviously vetoed. And we both learned our first lesson in marriage: happy wife, happy life
Walking-friendly cities allow you to take everything in. Like the bands that would set up shop in the middle of the road.
Music spilled out of and into the streets. From the bars to the bands in the middle streets, it was everywhere. And so lively.
Food was also everywhere. I think we sampled a little bit of everything from gulf shrimp to po’ boys with debris (the debris is the gravy, grease, and meat that drip to the bottom of the pan when cooking meat) to beignets. Cafe du Monde lived up to the hype. Fried dough covered in powder sugar for breakfast? Yes please.
There was so much to enjoy, from the music to the food to the tourist spots, that you don’t have to be a big drinker to have a great time. I was under that wrong assumption and I’m glad I got the chance to correct it. I’m so inspired to plan our next getaway!
A few weeks ago, we were able to get away for the weekend and go down to OC MD. We lucked out with weather and crowds, which helped me to rekindle my love of this place.
In the past few years, we’ve only really traveled down to the beach for holiday weekends. And it’s just too crowded to really enjoy the place I remember loving so much from my childhood (and not to mention the place where the hubs and I fell for each other) when you’re fighting the crowds at every turn.
But this weekend, it was perfect. We had the quintessential OC MD trip. We hit up the boardwalk both nights, once for an outdoor concert that was part of the of Sunfest (OC’s arts, crafts, food and music festival) and once for Thrasher’s fries and Dumser’s ice cream. We attempted to watch the sunset while enjoying a meal at Fager’s (this was my third attempt and the third time that the clouds completely covered the sun again – you can read about my second attempt on this trip). We got fudge from Candy Kitchen. We spent the day at the beach where I took pictures and the hubs surfed.
Well he attempted to. The waves were crashing on the beach. But considering we live 4 hours from the closest beach, we’ll take it.
Overall it was the perfect beach trip. OC can be so nice in the off season, we both agreed we need to make more of an effort to take more trips to one of our favorite spots.
Speaking of trips, we just got back from a whirlwind one to New Orleans and Florida. I’m hoping to update you on that next week!