Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmukkah 2013

Even though Hanukkah and Christmas fall as far a part as they ever have I still ended up celebrating the blended holiday we can forever thank Seth Cohen for naming. 

This afternoon I arrived at Bug and Little Man's house just in time for the Christmas tree trimming to begin. We followed that up with lighting Hanukkah candles, exchanging presents then dining on brisket and latkes and ended the evening by reading The Grinch. 

Such a fun night! 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Making the Most of It

These are the final days of the walking challenge.

My team is in first place, with a fairly significant lead, but one of my teammates is worried we'll lose and really encouraged us all to get as many steps in as we could this week.


Between the cold weather, my cold, being out of town for the holiday, lots of driving and visiting people, it's not that easy to do.

But I'm doing it.

Today, I walked the Ocean City Boardwalk from end to end. As a kid we always vacationed right near the end of the boardwalk, and we'd usually walk down to the inlet for games and rides, but then we'd take the tram back. So I think this may have been the first time I've walked the whole thing.

It was a bit further than I planned to go (4 1/2 miles total), but it wasn't too cold. And, it helped me get 18k steps in, so that's a plus as well.

And I got to pic stich a nice photo for 30 of my Facebook friends to like, which is always a plus. (I'll take silver linings where ever I can get them).

I'm not ready to stop walking, but I am so very ready for this challenge to be over!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Memories

When I was a kid we always hosted my mom's side of the family for Thanksgiving at our house.

My memories of those Thanksgivings are spotty - I remember sitting in the living room while my mom prepared food, watching the parade and always eating an orange.(The high school band boosters sold citrus each fall as a fundraiser and oranges and grapefruit were abundant in my house in November.)

I remember one of my older cousins always being in charge of the mashed potatoes. As soon as her family walked in the door she'd immediately head into the kitchen and get to work.

I remember picking up my dad's beer thinking it was apple juice and spitting it out, attracting laughs from many.

I remember football on tv in the basement, as and the day went on the tv would switch to a movie rental. The year they were watching Pretty Woman I remember being banished upstairs as I wasn't old enough to watch it, but really annoyed that my much younger cousins could be downstairs - because they were too little to get the storyline.

I remember having a lot of people packed into our not so spacious house. Lots of talking, and laughing and food.

I don't remember when we stopped hosting exactly, but by the time I was in college and my first few years after, Thanksgiving was spent with my dad's side of the family, at my grandmother's house. My contribution was always the ever popular pumpkin roll.

And then, once my parents' bought a house down near the beach, Thanksgiving has been here, on our own, without any extended family.

This morning I went for a long walk down at the beach, and then spent the rest of the day reading, watching the dog show then football, helping with the cooking and hanging out with my mom. It was nice, relaxed, quiet.

I don't miss the big family meals really, today was much more my speed, than those celebrations in years past. But I am glad I had those traditions and those memories, as spotty as they may be, from many Thanksgivings ago.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


I drove down to the beach this afternoon, with grand plans of getting my shopping done at the outlets and a few local stores and then going for a long walk on the boardwalk.

Unfortunately I ended up getting a later start than expected, the shopping took longer than I thought and worst of all - the weather was ICK!

When I checked the forecast for the beach yesterday it said it was going to be 61 degrees down here and had maybe a 30% chance of rain, MUCH different that the weather I was leaving behind inside the Beltway. But when I arrived, I realized the weather was actually pretty much exactly what I had left behind. Temps in the upper 30s, rain on and off and major wind gusts. Not exactly ideal conditions for strolling the boardwalk.

I really needed to get a walk in and since outdoors wasn't an option I decided to see if there was a gym I could use. I called the YMCA and found out they were open late and that offered one day guest passes. Yay!

So I wrapped up my shopping at 6, when the outlets and local stores were all closing for the night and headed over, pulling into the parking lot and then digging through my suitcase to find my workout clothes.

Sneakers - check!
Socks - check!
Shirt - check!
Pants.... um, pants... where. were. the. pants?!?!

All I had in my suitcase were jeans and a pair of blue snowflake flannel pj pants, neither of which were really appropriate attire for going to a fitness center. Great. I couldn't go back to the outlets for exercise pants so my options were A) skip the work out or B) go buy pants at Kmart.

I went to Kmart.

Where I actually had to do quite a bit of searching to locate a pair of sweatpants, but I left with a $8 pair of pants in hand and returned to Y, paid my $12 and spent 60 minutes on the treadmill.

Old me is completely and totally blown away by new (and improved) me!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I hate colds... and other random updates

I've been feeling a bit under the weather since Thursday afternoon.

It started as a throat tickle, moved into a cough & stuffy nose and has settled in with me being completely and totally exhausted to the point I can't keep my eyes open, yet unable to actually sleep. Oh, and I randomly have coughing fits that go on for about 10 minutes at a time.

A most unpleasant combo of symptoms in my opinion.

Yesterday I made it until 11:30 am before I felt like I was going to fall asleep at my desk and realized just how unproductive I was being and that I needed to head home. I told my boss I was going to go sleep for a few hours and then come back. Instead I went to sleep and woke up at 4 pm. It's a good thing she didn't think I was actually coming back.

I'm blaming the exhaustion and cough drop fumes on the fact that I finally caved to the seemingly never ending Facebook requests to play Candy Crush and I downloaded it.

Cause I needed more time sucks in my life.

Fairly quickly I could see how people get soooo hooked, because I'm sooooo hooked.

Tomorrow I am hitting the road like about a million other people in the DC metro area for Thanksgiving. I'm about 90% packed for the trip and it's fairly ridiculous how much stuff is piled on my sofa to go with me for the 3 day trip.

And now, I'm going to wrap this scintillating post up because I just realized I didn't pack the menorah and hanukkah candles and I want to get in a few more rounds of Candy Crush before going to sleep.

ps. Only four more days til I don't have to come up with daily rambles. I know you're looking forward to that just as much as I am.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Music Monday: Recovery

A few years back, right around when I discovered (read: became obsessed with) Ron Pope, a friend of mine discovered Frank Turner.

I remember listening to a few of his songs, but I wasn't drawn in. Probably because said obsession with Mr. Pope left little room for other music in my life.

Fast forward to about six months ago and I heard a Frank Turner song on DC101. I don't remember what it was, I just remember that I didn't think my friend would be a fan that her little known fave had reached major radio rotation. (I was right, she wasn't.)

I didn't give him much thought, and since I don't recall the song I guess it didn't hook me. But now, I keep hearing Recovery on the radio and I like it. A lot.

So without further adieu, I give you Frank Turner & Recovery...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Right Down the Middle

There's a quiz going around on Facebook this weekend, to see if you are right brained or left brained.

I took it last night from my phone and decided to do it again just now from the computer, since some of the questions involved hand positions and I figured that might be different whether or not I was holding the phone.

It did make a difference, sorta...

44/56 vs 57/43

So, I think it's safe to say I use both sides of my brain pretty equally.

This is even more interesting to me when I put it in context of what I learned at my organization's staff retreat a few weeks back. We had to do an exercise where we placed ourselves on a grid, based on how formal vs informal, dominant vs easy going we saw ourselves. Later, our colleagues, not knowing where we put ourselves, had to mark where they saw us.

Dominant   ---------------------------------l---------------------------------Easy Going

I struggled to make a choice, but in the end I put myself where the blue box is. When I looked to see how my colleagues rated me it was where the red box is. 

Again, in both cases, pretty close to the middle, and both pretty logical in my opinion. Later in the activity we were given labels for each of the boxes: upper left - controlling, upper right - analyzing, lower left - promoting, lower right - supporting. 

I think both how I see myself and how my colleagues see me are both true to form. And I think the fact that I'm using both sides of my brain fairly equally is also pretty true to who I am. 

Interesting stuff, huh?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

In Search of a Bargain [Alternative title: Ridiculously Spoiling Other People's Kiddos]

While I'm not anti-shopping I'm not much of a shopper either... unless the circumstances are just right.

Take a great coupon/sale combo and pair it with a chance to spoil the kiddos in my life and you've found my shopping weakness.

It all started with a mailing from Carter's kids clothing store earlier in the week. A coupon just for loyal shoppers like me (eye roll) for 30% off, only good today and tomorrow. Add to that news of a new outlet mall opening 15 minutes away and special deals and sales for their grand opening weekend and you've handed me a can't miss shopping & saving opportunity!

While watching the news last night I got a bit nervous - 50,000 - 60,000 shoppers expected this weekend, 6,000 parking spots and people were parking along the highway yesterday because they couldn't get closer. Hmmm.. I thought, maybe it's not worth it.

But, I decided if I could get up and out the door early, I'd give it a shot. The mall opened at 9, so I figured if I left home around 8 I should be able to get parking, and if I got there that early and it was already packed it was not some place I wanted to be.

Luck was on my side.

At 8:08 I pulled into the lot, that was maybe 15% full at that point. As I texted my friends to check in on current sizes and clothing needs for their kiddos the parking lot continued to fill up. By 8:50 I decided to head out and went off to find the customer service office, where I knew even more coupon savings could be found.

90 minutes later I was back in my car, with four giant, heavy bags and $300 less in the bank account. (No, I did not spend all of that in Carter's. Just... a lot of it.)

In the end I bought clothes for four kiddos and 3 pairs of shoes for myself.

Had I paid retail prices for all of my purchases the grand total would have been $750, so I'm feeling like it was worth the effort. And like I've made my mother oh so very proud!

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Weekend at Home - Oh My!

This is my first weekend that won't involve any travel in ages. Ages!

Even a few weeks back, when I didn't really go out of town I still spent part of my weekend up in Baltimore and had to deal with traffic and hassles of getting up there.

This weekend I'm staying close to home and getting things done!

Tonight I had dinner with a college friend at a yummy downtown DC restaurant. She was in town for work and we hadn't gotten together in several years. Great food, great company - a nice way to kick things off.

As for the rest of the weekend, well, my agenda includes holiday shopping, taking walks, laundry, cleaning, reading, catching up on the backlog of DVR'd shows I have to watch and taking naps.

I can't wait.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

TBT: Adventures in Trans Atlantic Travel

I was trying to come up with something to post today and the throw back Thursday photos on FB got me thinking that I could come up with some random story from days gone by. Combine that with thoughts of my upcoming trip to Europe (more on that later) and inspiration struck!

I've been to Europe twice - a whirlwind 10 days in Spain, France and Italy the summer before my freshman year in high school and a return trip to Italy for two weeks during college. Both times my travel over was smooth sailing, um, or flying, but the return trips were less than perfect.

1992: After spending 10 days traveling with a group of fellow introductory spanish students and a friend's mom as my chaperone I was ready to go home. The last few days of an otherwise great trip were already a little bumpy, with my migraine medicine making me super sun sensitive and way too much time outdoors turning me into a splotchy mess. It also didn't do it's job and I missed out on most of Madrid, trying to sleep off a headache it should have prevented. So, as we were loading the bus to head home I was certainly anxious to be on our way. So anxious that I missed the bottom, exterior step and landed on the sidewalk, spraining my ankle. After being yelled at by my teacher (WHY DID YOU DO THAT?!?!) they decided there wasn't time to have it checked out, so I hobbled through the airport for our flight to Heathrow. When we landed there for a lengthy layover I was taken to the infirmary where they told me I needed to go to the hospital for x-rays. Now, my layover wasn't that lengthy and I knew that leaving the airport would mean missing my flight home. I got up and walked again, trying to not wince from the pain and said I'd be fine. They didn't believe me, but did agree to let me go home.

I was escorted onto the plane in a wheel chair, and they called my parents to let them know I'd be coming off that way as well. Initially they had me sitting in an aisle seat, with my leg propped on the armrest of the person in front of me. I honestly don't recall if that was a person from my group or a stranger, but either way no need to feel too bad for them as that just didn't work well at all. Shortly after take off they came up with an alternate solution so I could still be propped up to minimize the swelling - they moved me to the flight attendant "jump seat" in the back and propped people's carry one bags under my leg. And that's how I sat, all the way from Heathrow back to Dulles.

Completely and totally unpleasant way to fly the friendly skies!

1999: My grand return to Italy was for a two and a half week trip for a college class. It was awesome! Until the flight home. First of all, we were handed blue books and a sheet of essay questions for our final exam upon boarding the plane. Due by the time we landed. Second, there were delays landing in London due to fog and we circled the airport for ages. We had a pretty short connection time and my professors were positive we were going to miss our flight and they were in a panic. We RACED through the airport, only to find that of course, the outgoing flight was also delayed by fog. Once we finally were able to board the flight home there was another fog delay, of nearly an hour. Then there was a mechanical delay. Finally, close to two hours after we boarded one of the flight attendants came over the intercom and said, in her lovely British accent, "Well folks, the engine has probably been fixed so we'll be taking off in about 15 minutes."


My classmates and I looked at each other in shock. Did she really just say what we thought she said? The engine has PROBABLY been fixed?!? And you are going to fly us over the Atlantic now? While we write essays for a final exam?!?!

Luckily the engine really was fixed and we made it home exhausted, but otherwise no worse for the wear.

Still, I am hoping that third time's a charm and my upcoming European adventure ends with a much calmer trip home!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Life Hacks

I was scanning Facebook tonight while trying to figure out what to blog about and I came across a post with 50 Life Hacks to Simplify Your World.

Some of them were silly, but others were pretty darn ingenious. So, rather than have me ramble on tonight about some inane topic or another, just check these out and find some quick and easy ways to make life a little simpler.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Emotionally Attached

Tonight there was about a 10 minute window of time where I thought my pedometer was lost for good. I am somewhat embarrassed to say how alarming this was to me.

I've been meeting a friend to go on a walk most Tuesday evenings for a few months now. Usually I pack a change of clothes and go straight from work, but today I forgot to do that so I had to come home and change first. Yesterday was my friend's birthday and I wanted to stop and get her a cupcake on the way so I was in a bit of a rush.

I changed from my work clothes to exercise clothes, putting the pedometer back on my hip and then rushed out the door, grabbing my phone, wallet & keys. As I was heading out I remember double checking for the pedometer, and it was there.

A few minutes later when I arrived at the bakery and got out of the car I did the same automatic check to confirm I had the pedometer and... I didn't. I had only gotten a few steps from my car, so I turned back and searched the seat, the floor, between the seats, etc. I knew I needed to go home, but I decided I had to go in and get the cupcakes first.

So I tried (unsuccessfully) not to worry that I dropped the pedometer in the street and went in to get the cupcakes (totally counting my steps along the way so they could be re-added to today's total). (Obsessive much?)

The whole time I'm working through things in my head - I had looked at the Pedometer just before leaving work so I knew I was right around 6,000 steps for the day. I know roughly how many steps are in a mile for me, and I could map out our route when I got home and see how I did. I could have a new one overnighted from Amazon. I could download a pedometer app to my phone in the meantime. Every angle was covered in those minutes as I steered my car back towards home.

Of course as I turned on to my street I saw two cars driving along in the parking area in front of my building and I totally envisioned them driving right over the pedometer and crushing it to bits. I carefully parked, hopped out and started looking. Nothing on the street or under the car... I picked up the pace and headed towards the sidewalk and, there it was.

Oh sweet relief.

I know I can keep up the physical activity without the pedometer. I know it's me doing the work, not that little piece of plastic & metal, but, I've become quite attached to it over the past 6 1/2 months and I was not happy to think it was gone. It's a visual reminder that I'm meeting my goals.

So as the clock turns on another day, I can report that I walked 13,046 steps today and I'm so happy to know that!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Music Monday: Throwback Edition

I'm sure you've seen the latest trend on Facebook - like a friend's post, get assigned a number and have to share that many random facts about yourself. Well, I haven't done that yet, but it did get my thinking about random things and that merged with trying to come up with a Music Monday song and turned into my favorite song when I was a kid.

We're talking early elementary school age here - I don't remember specific years, but I do remember these two very different songs being my favorites. One is easily understandable - it was a big hit, has a catchy beat and is about a tiger, what's not to love when you are 7? But the other, well, it's a pretty random cheesy love song and I have no idea why it appealed to me, but it most definitely did.

Without further delay, my favorite songs from the early 80s...

Eye of the Tiger

Never Gonna Let You Go

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Back to Being a Book Worm

In January I set my book goal for the year at 95 books. By mid-August I had finished 77, and was well on my way to meeting the goal for the year by September.

Then I hit a slump. I dropped from reading around 10 books a month to reading 4-6 a month, from taking two days to finish a book to two weeks.

I was still enjoying the books I was reading, but nothing was really capturing my attention in a "I have to finish this book and can not put it down" kinda way.

Then earlier this week I read Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain. I could not put it down. I started it on my flight out for my work trip and ended up getting up early to read and then staying up til after midnight the next night just to finish it.

Since finishing that, on Thursday, I've read two other books and am likely going to finish a third before going to sleep tonight and I've purchased two more that are waiting to me to download as soon as I'm ready. That's in addition to the stack of library books currently in my possession.

I'm not sure how I'm going to fit the sudden reemergence of the reading addiction in with the walking, working and traveling I've got on my agenda for the balance of 2013, but as always, I'm sure I'll manage to make time... and get a little less sleep than recommended, all in the name of a good book!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Not Much To Say...

I'm midway through my month of blogging and today I've hit my first day of having absolutely nothing to say.

I looked at a bunch of prompts for inspiration but still.... completely drawing a blank.

So, I'm going to share two videos making their way around the internet these days that don't require much in the way of words...

Love, love, love them both!

Friday, November 15, 2013

In Flight Entertainment

I'm writing from the plane, on my way home from a staff retreat.

On the way out there were about 18 colleagues on my flight. While I really do enjoy my coworkers I was pretty happy to have a stranger sit down next to me. We chatted a bit, he commented on the book we were all reading in preparation for the meeting, and mentioned he was headed to a conference but that was the extent of it. 

On this flight there are even more people from my office. 

And the same stranger. 

I sat down first, with coworkers surrounding me and the aisle seat open. Mr. Stranger came walking down and realized he was back in the midst of the same chatty group as on the way out. As he got to his seat he saw one of my coworkers was in it. She was starting to grab her stuff to switch when he told her not to worry, it was just one row different and he took her seat instead - next to me. 

Thank you Mr. Stranger. 

After two full days of personality assessments, trust building, touchy feely sharing and constantly being on it sure is nice to put in my ear buds and zone out without feeling like I'm being rude. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Comedy of Errors

I'm traveling for work this week and tonight I went to dinner with two coworkers. The company was great, my food was tasty but the evening had more than a few bumps in the road. 

There were three of us and we set off for our restaurant of choice - about 3/4 of a mile from the hotel. The walk wasn't bad at all and the weather wasn't too chilly so things seemed good. 

Until we arrived and discovered a party of 30 meant there was a 60-90 minute wait. Um.... No thanks. 

There was a pedestrian bridge near by that would lead us to a steak house some coworkers had gone to so we shifted our course. Across the parking lot, up the elevator, over the bridge and into... A dark hallway with no where to go but what looked like the exit to a museum. So in the exit we went, around some corners until a security guard took pity on us and walked us halfway to our destination. Out the door, down the walkway, in the door, past the train tracks, we finally arrived and were quickly seated. 

Our waitress was friendly and busy, but fairly attentive. The food was sloooow - another party of 30 apparently tying up the kitchen - and one of my colleagues ended up with an incredibly overlooked steak. We were offered free dessert for the wait and my colleagues meal was taken off the bill. unfortunate for her as she barely had any dinner, but her attitude was still cheerful. I paid the bill and we headed out, opting to make the return walk - maybe 1/2 a mile at this point - through the skywalk. Down a hall, up some stairs, over the road, through a hotel, up some more stairs, past an office building, around the corner, into our hotel. 

I got back to my room about three hours after I left it and promptly realized the $120 dinner receipt didn't make it back with me. 


Knowing that I needed it to get reimbursed for the meal I put my shoes back on and headed back out the door, pulling another colleague who wasn't even at dinner with me from the comfort of her hotel room to accompany me on the long and winding sky walk back. 

Tack on another 40 minutes and I am finally back in my room for the night. 

Here's hoping for a much less eventful trip home in the morning! 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

So. Very. Funny.

While I was in Chicago, in between admiring tall buildings, I took some time to admire some very very funny people.

I went on the Second City Walking Tour and saw a show on their E.T.C. stage.

Both were so worth my money!

The walking tour was a mix of Second City history and Chicago history and was given by a performer who is working his way up the Second City ladder, so there was certainly some comedy thrown in.
I did it on my first afternoon in the city and it was a great introduction for me.

I got tickets to see a show for the Saturday night I was in town and, I'll be honest, I was a bit wary going into it. I was wishing it was going to be more true improv and less sketch comedy. I think the fact that Saturday Night Live just isn't very funny anymore has ruined the idea of sketch comedy for me a little bit.

But, I'm SO glad I ignored those concerns and went to the show anyway.

I really don't think I've ever laughed so hard. The sketches were filled with pop culture references, goofy actions and just so much fun. There were a few improv/audience participation sketches thrown in, and they were great, but the sketches were even better. Especially when they would weave an element from one into another, connecting the otherwise completely disconnected stories throughout the evening.

If you have get the chance to see Second City I strongly encourage you to go! I'm already looking forward to a return trip to Chicago so I can see them again!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Windy City Revisited

I'm getting ready for my next trip and realized I never posted about the last one - Chicago!

It was my long overdue first trip to Chicago and I really enjoyed the city. I spent 3 days there for work, fitting in a bit of tourist time during those days, and then a day and half of touristy fun.

Before going everyone said I HAD to do the Architecture Boat Tour - and they were right. I've been fairly neutral about architecture in the past - when I go into impressive buildings I'm duly impressed, but I've never really given it much thought otherwise. But in Chicago, you really can't help but be impressed.

I don't know what it was about that city - if my awareness was just heightened, or what, but every where I looked there was another really impressive building to take in. And they were all so different! Even after taking the tour, while I do remember bits and pieces of the buildings' histories I couldn't really tell you much about one style of architecture versus another, just that you see a little bit of everything when you are walking the streets of downtown or cruising along on the Chicago River.

Just walking along the river brings up so many images from movies and tv, it was pretty cool to finally be there and see it all in person.

Here's a collection of my favorite architecture photos from my trip:

St. Michael's Church

The (What you talkin 'bout) Willis Tower
One of few remaining wooden houses in Chicago

I loved all of the drawbridges up in the air
A curved building at the curve of the river

View from my hotel room window
The only building east of Lake Shore Drive.
It's a cool clover shape. 

Chicago Skyline from the tour boat

Monday, November 11, 2013

Music Monday: Gin Blossoms

My musical tastes are still running a decade (or two!!) behind and I've been back on a Gin Blossoms kick lately. 

Here's one of my favorites...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Extended 'Family'

I love how much these two love each other!

One of the results of having friends who feel more likely family is that their family ends up feeling a bit like your own as well.

Let me back up and explain. This weekend my plan for Saturday had been to head out to the Eastern Shore to visit Bug, Little Man and their parents, but then I realized they were heading my way on Sunday to visit their grandparents.

Such a ham!

So the original plan got scratched and we set a lunch date for this afternoon. We walked along and crunched some leaves, heard what Bug has been learning in school about plant life (hearing a five year old talk about chlorophyll is quite impressive), had a yummy pizza lunch, browsed in a toy store and made wishes in a huge fountain before heading to their grandparents house.

Little Man is getting big!
And then as we walked along it was totally natural that I went with them, and all of the sudden it was three hours later as I was saying my goodbyes to run some much needed errands and refusing the multiple offers to stay and join them for dinner.

I had other things I wanted to get done today - some cleaning and laundry and maybe even actually getting a head start on packing for the next trip, but hanging out with this family, who may not actually be mine, but doesn't hesitate one bit to make me feel like I'm part of theirs, well, that was a much much much better way to spend my day!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Branching Out

I've written a few times before about the challenge of making new friends in my (no longer all that) new city. And I've been thinking about that a lot lately.

I'm good in one on one situations, and have definitely made friends in the area - people who I get dinner with on occasion, or these days go for walk with, but most of those have been people I've met through work so it's not reaallly branching out.

I realized that when I get invited to do things beyond a one on one group my default answer is to say no. This isn't the case (usually) when it's a close friend doing the inviting. Usually in those circumstances I'll go, because I usually have at least met some of the other people involved. In fact, I've had several friends tell me that they never question including me with a group as I can adapt no matter who the audience is. Which is true when I stop and think about it.

But I guess I don't stop and think about it often since I'm busy turning down those invites.

Anyway, lately I've been doing the opposite. Going out with new groups of people even when my instincts tell me I should just stay home.

On Halloween I was invited to a gathering at a friend of a friend's in my neighborhood. A few people were getting together to hand out candy at one house and since I don't get trick or treaters on my street my friend thought I might want to come. She invites me to things all of the time and I pretty much always don't go, and I realized I needed to stop saying no.

So I went and had good conversation, saw cute kiddos in costumes, ate yummy food and all around had a fun evening.

Fast forward to tonight. A friend from work invited me to book club at her house. With all of the reading I do I've never actually been in a book club which is surprising. I was free tonight and I decided that I should go, even though I admit I was a bit unsure. And, while there were a few awkward moments here and there, overall it was a fun time and I ended up staying a lot longer that I expected. It's a newly forming book club - this was only the second meeting - and most of the girls already knew each other, but my friend only knew one other person and I only knew her but... by the end of the night we were all hugging goodbye and making plans for next time.

Yay for branching out!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Six Months and Still Walking

Last week I hit the six month mark of tracking my steps. 
Every day for the past six months I've had this pedometer on my hip. 

Can you believe it? 

I can't. 

I'm most likely upgrading to one of the Fitbit bracelets soon, but for now, the trusty pedometer and I are sticking together. 

So since I'm a complete and total dork with a tracking spreadsheet I can tell you that between May 2 and November 2 I walked 2,105,611 steps. Which, for me, is about 731 miles. 

Which means I could have walked to....any place within that green circle! Well, except those places in the Atlantic, but, you get what I mean. 

I'm pretty proud of myself for sticking with it. And for getting to point where my average is actually greater than 10k steps a day, which is what is recommended for being a healthy person. My overall average at the moment is 11,141 steps a day, but that's spiked a bit because of the current walking challenge. But, if I go back and look, over the 27 weeks I've hit or exceeded the 70k target 70% of the time. My current walking challenge has me averaging over 100k steps a week, but my goal once it's over just to maintain that 70k a week target. 

Scientific evidence seems to say it takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days for behavior change to really take hold as a habit. Side note - way to give yourself some wiggle room there scientists. 

So, I have about 68 days to go until I can be sure these changes are going to stick. But I'm feeling pretty confident that these past six months haven't been a fluke and that being more active really is my new normal. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pumpkin Yumminess

As fall continues to unfold I was reminded of a yummy recipe that's been my go to fall dessert for over a decade now - a pumpkin roll.
The recipe has been in my "recipe box" since 2002, which kinda blows my mind. I used to be intimidated by the thought of making a roll, but it's really a piece of cake. Pun totally intended. :-)

In my heyday of making these it was completely typical for me to make a total of 10 or more during the season. One of my cousins liked it so much he asked me to bring two to Thanksgiving dinner - one to share with everyone during the meal and another to leave behind at his house for him to enjoy. 

It's been awhile though since I was making these regularly. In fact, I'm pretty sure I didn't even make one last year. This weekend I'm going to a friend's book club meeting and she said I don't have to make anything, but I think I'm really looking for an excuse to make this dessert!

While you can find a ton of Pumpkin Roll recipes online, here's my recipe of choice

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Blame it on the pool

I'm stumped on what to write tonight, but write tonight I must.

It's a bit worrisome I'm only 6 days in to NaBloPoMo and I'm already stuck, but I'm going to blame exhaustion and hope for the best tomorrow.

After about 6 weeks off due to pool renovations I'm back to deep water aerobics two nights a week. Tonight's class was especially exhausting and as soon as I get enough words on this page to feel like I've met my commitment I'm going to pass out into a super deep sleep.

During class tonight the song Wannabe from the Spice Girls came on the stereo. Oh, how that song takes me back. My freshman year of college my roommate LOVED that song. She played it again and again and again. Singing along always and putting some extra emotion into the 'zig a zig ahh'. While I certainly could do without the song, I do love the memories it brings back.

I know in the past I've written about my quest to make new friends and how hard it can be. This summer I met someone at water aerobics and we would chat through the class, twice a week. I wanted to try and figure out how to transition that friendship beyond class, especially since there was going to be a big break in the class offerings. I ended up commenting that I'd be up for going for walks together if she and her dog ever wanted company, and it worked. In between all of my travel this fall we've met up just about once a week for a walk. Tonight she said we should still go on walks on Tuesday even though we'll see each other on Wednesdays for class. I agreed, and felt like I finally succeeded in making in a new friend. Oh, and we totally bonded over the fact that our rec center is much in need of bathing suit dryers.

Even after taking a shower I still smell like chlorine. It's disturbing me, yet I've come to accept it as my new norm just two nights back in. Next week I'll miss both classes - Veteran's Day and work travel - so I guess that gives me time to shake the smell for a bit.

And on that charming note, I think I've written enough to consider this a post. I promise a good night's sleep will help me come up with a more engaging topic for tomorrow.

I hope.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Redundant L

Yesterday was a hectic day.

I woke up early to go for a 45 minute walk before work, as the walking challenge is still in full swing and I knew my evening was busy. Then I worked from 9-5:30, came home, changed clothes, packed up dinner and was back out the door for water aerobics, starting at 6:30.

I spent 45 minutes in neck deep water "cycling", walking, kicking and jogging myself to exhaustion. But there was no time for that! After a quick shower and wardrobe change I was back in the car, eating dinner and driving to the metro, hopping on the train and arriving at the Lincoln Theater with moments to spare before Barenaked Ladies took the stage. 

And then I forgot about the hectic pace. I forgot how tired I was. I was drawn in to the energy coming from the stage and I just sang along with a permagrin on my face and enjoyed the show. 

It's been 15 years since my first BNL concert, which was also in DC, though the two shows share few similarities in terms of venue. 

That first show was at HFStival, a huge outdoor radio station sponsored music fest at RFK stadium. BNL was just gaining mainstream popularity at that point. Stunt was released later that summer, and One Week hit the radio rotations everywhere, but that spring they were still a bit of a lesser known band, with a cult following. My friends and I were able to work our way to the front of the stage, but were in the midst of a mosh pit like mob of people on a unseasonably hot day. 

Last night's show was in a historic theater that was pretty amazing inside. Ornately decorated with great detail and seats that were actually comfortable to sit in. The crowd was mostly my age or older, and while we did jump to our feet when BNL took the stage, the environment bore zero resemblance to a mosh pit. 

The show itself though, well, that took me right back, to BNL concerts of the past. 

The energy, the smiles and laughter from the band, the improved songs inspired by their day or something seen in the theater. In this case, it was the redundant "l" in Lincoln that inspired Ed and led to a lengthy introductory tune. Towards the end of the night the band did their usual medley of pop songs - the songs themselves updated for the times - think Miley instead of Celine - but the dance moves, oh the dance moves were the exact same moves I've seen time and time again. 

And I loved it. 

There was something comforting about the show being so familiar. Yes, there were some new songs, but for the most part it was the show I've known and loved, time and again over the past 15 years. And even though I saw them alone this time, that familiarity had me thinking about the friends and family I've shared that concert experience with over the years. Some still in my life, others not. I was alone at the show, but I wasn't at the same time. 

Yesterday was a hectic day. And today I'm so tired and will be going to sleep momentarily, but that show, was so totally worth it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Music Monday - BNL Edition

Tonight I'm going to see Barenaked Ladies.

I've lost count, but I'm thinking this is at least the 15th time I've seen them in concert since '98.

For awhile I thought I outgrew them, or that the show wouldn't be the same without Steven Page, but...

I still love them, and while different, the show they put on today is still amazing and energetic and just plain fun.

So, in honor of this evening's plans, I give you my most favorite BNL song, Brian Wilson

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Playing Tourist - The National Building Museum

I checked another item off the DC To-Do List this weekend, with a visit to the National Building Museum.

Inside the Building Museum
My thoughts on the Museum: An impressive building with a great shop and moderately interesting but not overly impressive exhibits.

The Building Museum is privately run, so it's one of the few museums in DC you have to pay an entrance fee for. It's only $8, which is quite reasonable when it comes to museum fees.

However, I think the reasonable price is because there really isn't that much to see. The huge, three story building only has 8 exhibits. They were diverse - from kid focused ones that let you build with blocks of all sizes - to one about green schools and another about L.A.'s growth and development over a fifty year time span. I saw all the exhibits in about an hour.

As I was finishing up I read through the guide brochure I picked up and discovered that entrance to the exhibits is what costs $8, but access to the building itself is free, and they have docents that offered free guided tours of the building. I'm curious about it's architecture and history so I'll probably return for one of those free tours at some point. And I definitely think I'll stop back in to shop in the museum shop - it was awesome and had everything from kitchen gadgets to kids toys to books and cards.

National Building Museum

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Dangers of Reading

I was downtown today, playing tourist and got an early dinner of one of my favorite dishes - chicken laksa, at Asian Spice in Chinatown.

I stumbled on this dish about four years back and love it. At its core it's a chicken noodle soup, but in a coconut curry broth that is so so tasty. I've never seen it on a menu anywhere else, and when I've ordered things with a similar description in Thai restaurants I've been disappointed that what I receive is not at all the same.

So, I was eating dinner and reading a book on my phone.

I finished my meal, eating every last bite, and kept reading as I waited for my check.

The waitress brought it, I put my credit card in the holder and kept reading.

She returned it, telling me to take my time. I kept reading to finish a chapter.

And then I got up and left. My receipt unsigned, my credit card still in the holder.


I of course didn't realize this until I got off the metro, a mile from my house and no longer anywhere near Chinatown.

I called and the hostess just laughed and said they had it and it would be fine for me to stop in tomorrow afternoon to pick up the card & sign the receipt.

In the end not really a big deal but still... UGH.

Friday, November 1, 2013

And so it begins...

NaBloPoMo that is.

For those not familiar with internet abbreviations, that stands for National Blog Posting Month, the blogging version of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. Last November I realized too late, and again did my own version of a post a day in January.

This year I've remembered just in time and I figure as I haven't posted in over two weeks this space needs a kickstart and what better kick start than committing to a month of posts.

So, day one down... 29 to go!