Monday, March 31, 2014


"Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?"
Mary Oliver, The Summer Day
Friday night I stayed up for hours reading this book.  A book I had been meaning to read for months.  It captivated me much like Into the Wild did this summer.  There is something about these tales of ordinary people going off into the wilderness that so deeply intrigues, enthralls and excites me, and millions of others.  I think it speaks to a primal part of our being, that has been so dampened down by modern society, but still exists somewhere inside.  To live off the land, to be one with the earth, wind and sky.  Oh the exquisite romantic grandeur of it all!  As I was reading, my mind was spinning with ideas (fantasies?) of planning an excursion like this. 
Strayed's writing in this book is so lovely, so descriptive and also so real.  She's honest and public about her past which I think helps the reader empathize with her along the way.  After her mother's untimely death, Cheryl's life unraveled and she became "the girl with the hole in her heart".  In attempts to fill that hole, she 'strayed' away from herself, her marriage and her life in destructive ways.  It was only when she stumbled upon a guide book about a thing called the Pacific Crest Trail that something inside her lit up and hinted at a way for her to find her way back to herself.
Although she read the guide book and made many trips to REI to purchase and consult with backpackers, she herself had no long distance hiking experience.  But her mind was determined, and I think in the end that is largely what makes one successful in any life endeavor.  Preparation, knowledge, and intelligence are certainly nice to have, but even they can only take you so far.  Grit, determination, heart and the desire to not give up, is what will ultimately bring you to the finish line.  True in running, true in life.  In fact many times, there is no way to prepare for what lies ahead.  Often there is no 'right' time to take a chance, to go all in.
For most of my life, I've lived a very stable existence.  I was a huge nerd, always getting good grades in school, graduating with highest honors from college, and securing a boring/stable job upon exiting.  The American Dream.  Although it wasn't.  At a time when most of my family and friends have now settled comfortably into married family life, I am craving just the opposite.  I regret not having studied abroad in college (immensely) or pursued a more adventurous path in my 20's.  Hindsight is always 20/20.  I suppose if I had not lived through what I now see as the repressive, stifling corporate career era of my life, I would not have known that I craved something different.  I certainly do not live a life of luxury by modern standards, however I look around my rented 1 BR apartment and there is so much 'stuff' I feel I no longer need.  Recently, I find myself often fantasizing about selling off my personal belongings (sofa, bed, kitchen table, clothing - what are these things anyway but replaceable pieces of wood, wool and plastic?) and traveling until I find a new place, a new start. 
I was catching up with a friend last week and she mentioned that it seems I've lost some of the momentum I gained last year.  Last year was a freeing year for me in many ways.  Many of the invisible chains I felt tied down by, were suddenly cut.  I had grand plans, big dreams and ideas, and although I realized some smaller ones, I never made solid plans to live out some of those wild dreams.  She also mentioned that it seems Baltimore is no longer serving me, a feeling that has been echoing inside of me for some time now.  10 years I've spent in this city.  And I've done a lot of growing in that time.  There are some places here that each time I pass, elicit an emotional sting, briefer now than in years past, but it's still there.  And this is why I long for a new environment.  Not just for the climate but for the chance to build brand new memories from scratch.  Just as Strayed longed for, a place where there are no ghosts.
The idea of spending a month, maybe more on the PCT is WILD indeed.  I am no stranger to being alone, most days I am alone, and I actually enjoy experiencing nature in solitude.  I mean, hello, I often go hiking alone, with no supplies, get lost, and then somehow find my way out!  The 'safety' of living a live unexplored is slowly becoming more scary to me than what would happen if I set out on my own somewhere.  For many months, I had been focusing on recovering from my layoff last year.  Finding my bearings, and being able to sustain myself economically again.  But, in doing so, I've learned it is possible to live without many of the things I thought I needed. 
In preparing for her 3 month long hike, Strayed sold off most of her possessions, as the hike would symbolize the beginning of a new life for her.  In fact, most of her belongings were then new items she purchased for the hike, all of which she somehow managed to fit into a giant backpack she lovingly called 'Monster'.  She says in the book:
"I was amazed that what I need to survive could be carried on my back.  And, most surprising of all, that I could carry it. That I could bear the unbearable."
I let that sink in for bit.  Once you get rid of all the extraneous, material crap in your life, its true there may still be a large load to carry, but perhaps we are all given what we can bear??
I realize there are still many things I need to let go of in this place and time in my life, in order to move forward, but at some point, I've just got to GO.  The momentum I had upon recovering from last year's storm cannot be taken for granted.  I know there are more pages to my story and it is up to me to write them...
Have you read Wild? 
Have you ever been on a solo excursion like this?  Would you want to?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I'm Fit Possible Blog Swap!

Hello Friends!  Today I am participating in a blog swap with one of the fitness communities I am involved in - I'm Fit Possible.  This social network was started by a pretty cool chica named Tara Gusmanis and it's all about connecting people who want to live healthy, happy, fit lives!  You can check it out here.

So today, I'm swapping blogs with Bethany, a fellow I'm Fit Possible Ambassador who blogs at Half Marathon Mama

We decided to write about A Day in Our Life for each other's blog today.

The following recaps a day in the life of Bethany!  If you'd like to check out what I do on an average day, click on over to her blog (however, if you prefer my daily life remain shrouded in mystery, you may not want to click over because all of your wildest fantasies about my life just may be shattered!). 

I'm Bethany, I'm a 30-something, wife, mother, runner, pharmacist and
dog lover! I have 2 kids, my son (Parker) is 6 and my daughter
(Ella)will be 2 in April. I blog
Half Marathon Mama. I blog about running, and fitness. We try to follow a paleo diet, but are not die hard about it.

Jill and I decided to do "A day in the life" for the I'm fit possible blog swap.

A day in my life is never boring, but work days and off days are so
very different. I'm sure you don't want to hear about pill counting,
phone calls and grumpy customers, so we will take a peak into a day

515a - Let dog out, fall asleep on couch, let dog in. Climb back in bed
for a few more hours of sleep. I think early morning workouts are
awesome, but not for me.

740a - I'm woken up by a sweet 6 year old tapping on my shoulder. We
really need to get up for the day, but a few snuggles won't hurt
anyone. Once Ella wakes up, I turn the TV on, we like morning
cartoons. It's a treat to sleep past 7, so I really enjoyed my extra
relaxation time.

8-830a - Work hard to make a lunch, make breakfast (yogurt and bananas
were all they would eat), persuade Parker to get ready for school,
while he tells me, "Today would be a great stay home day." I remind
him that next week is spring break!

835a - Out the door! Drop Parker off at school, head to the gym! I
realized that the kids ate breakfast, but I only had a few left over
bites of banana. This happens way too often, I have a stash of Lara
bars for quick breakfasts. Most Lara Bars are paleo, but a few have
peanuts or chocolate.  I avoid the ones with peanuts, but the
Chocolate Cherry Torte is yummy!!

915a -Today I tried The Strike! Class. It is described as similar to
kickboxing, it is a hard class to describe. I was a good change for
me, and I will go back! I was pretty sweaty after class, so I showered
at the gym because I have visions of major errand running today! I got
a protein shake and Ella got chocolate milk at the LifeCafe. We are

My typical day off uniform is yoga pants!  Once it gets a little
warmer I will bring out the sun dresses.  I am not a "jeans and
t-shirt" kinda girl, I love the comfort of yoga pants!

11a - First stop, Lululemon. Ella and I wonder around, they have a good
sale section today! I try on a million things, and end up buying 3
tops and a headband.  Ella carried a sports bra around the store,
determined I was going to buy it, it was a little too big for me!!

Noon - Meet my dad for lunch at Pei Wei. Since it's Friday during lent,
I got shrimp and green beans. Soooo yummy. Ella sat on my dads lap
through lunch, and tried to eat with chopsticks.

1245p - Remember those errands? They aren't happening, it's time for
NAP! We head home, I get to deal with Bank of America, who is being
rather silly, then settle in for some relaxing while Ella sleeps. Nap
time is a great time to clean the house, or do laundry, most of the
time I rest with her!

230p - Ella wakes up and is FAMISHED.  She didn't eat much at lunch. She
is a snuggle bug after nap, so we hang out for a bit, eat some apple
sauce and cheese and talk.

3p - Morgan is home from work, we head to the bank, then pick up Parker
from school. It is a beautiful day outside, so we waked there with

Morgan watched the Tulsa vs. Middle Tennessee basketball game, and TU
won!! (We went to-and met-at The University of Tulsa, I'm not a sports
fan, but I do like TU sports) On to the finals of the C-USA
championship. We talked about driving to El Paso for the game, but it
is at 1030am, there is no way we can make it.  Parker played outside
with the neighbors grandson. They ran up and down the street for 30

530p - We decided to go out to dinner, which might have been a mistake.
Ella is a mess, Parker and her fight the entire time. Somehow we make
it through the meal with only minor injuries.

7p - Back home. Time for baths and showers. Parker is trying to convince
me to let him stay up really late because it's spring break! I'm too
tired to argue, but also to tired to stay up with him. He also doesn't
want to shower.

8p - Ella is a breeze to get to sleep, she likes to sing a song then
she holds her baby doll and goes to sleep!

830p - Daddy to the rescue. Morgan talks Parker into a shower, then they
plan their guys day for tomorrow!  Parker was pretty exhausted and
fell asleep quickly, too!

9p - I read for a few minutes, then I fall asleep. I can't stay up late
anymore, I know tomorrow will be another fun, yet exhausting day...I
have an 8 mile run planned!

So that's a day in my life.  Its never the same, never boring, and
always exhausting!

I'd love for you to check out my blog or Like me on Facebook :

Thanks to Bethany for swapping with me and sharing her life with all of us.  And thanks to Laura Bridgman of I'm Fit Possible for setting this up - it was fun!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Weekend Food Adventures #2: Land of Kush

This weekend I was fortunate enough to visit another new-to-me eating establishment in this fine city.  Land of Kush is a vegan café located in the Mount Vernon neighborhood whose claim to fame is "vegan soul food".  Intriguing right?  Since I am trying to consume less meat lately I was looking forward to eating there all week. 
As far as location goes, it's not in the most picturesque area of the city, located right next to Maryland General Hospital, but I felt fine parking a block away on the street (for free!, yippee, small victories) and walking there.  Upon entering, the appearance was cute and low-key.  Very casual.  And it was very crowded, even for 6:30pm on a Sunday, which was a good sign!  The table seating is limited though, and it looked like a lot of their business is carry out. 
My companion and I picked up a menu and found a table for two.  The menu isn't huge, but there is a nice variety.  I checked out reviews on Yelp before I went and the live kale salad got rave reviews, so I knew I definitely wanted to order that.  For the main dish, I was trying to decide between the BBQ "Ribs" or the Curry "Chickun".  It seemed like the chickun got more love on the Yelp reviews, but being that I normally don't really like or eat a lot of 'real' chicken, I went with the ribs.  I also got some fresh brewed sweet black tea (which was delicious!!).
When the food came out, I wanted to take a picture of it for the blog (obvi) but I was on a date and thought it would be rude.  Well, wouldn't you know, my date actually whipped out his camera and took a picture! HA.  Do boys normally do this?  Regardless, I still felt rude doing the same so I didn't take a picture.  I'm sorry :(  But there are a few pics on Yelp and on the restaurant's website. 
Verdict:  So how was it?  Well, true to the reviews, the kale salad was SO good! It was very simple.  Just kale, some shredded carrot and a scrumptious garlic dressing.  I love garlic and this was so good.  Although I'm sure my breath following the meal was not!  The ribs were just ok.  I am still new to vegan 'meats' but something about it just kind of turns me off.  The BBQ sauce was really good, but the soy protein product that is supposed to be the pork just doesn't do it for me.  Definitely not the restaurant's fault, but my own personal preference.  All in all, I enjoyed trying something different last night and would probably go back sometime to try some other dishes.  Perhaps even the 'chickun'?!
Have you been to any new restaurants lately?

Do you enjoy vegan eateries?  What do you think about non-meat meat??

Friday, March 21, 2014

Week in Review

Happy Friday!  I want thank you all for the birthday wishes on my last post!  All the messages were so sweet :)  I kind of went into my birthday feeling a bit meh about it, but I actually had a lovely birthday weekend and a really stellar week.  And I'll tell ya, now that I've been 35 for almost a full week, I feel incredibly older and wiser :/

Here's what's been going on in my life this week...

1.  I think my back is *almost* completely healed!  (I say almost because I don't want to jinx anything!).  I did a high intensity circuit workout that included burpees and pushups, and also lifted weights this week, including free weights for shoulders and tris.  These workouts definitely would not have been possible 2 weeks ago.  Dare I say, I'm BACK baby and I'm looooooooooving every minute of it!

2.  The city of Baltimore is being overrun by foxes.  No, not really.  BUT, the cutest little fox walked right past the window I was standing at at work the other day!  It was probably only 10 feet from where I was standing; I have never seen a fox up that close before.  It looked cute and snuggly and I wanted to take him home.  Do foxes and cats get along?  Prob not.  Oh well.

Not my photo - but it looked kind of like this.  SO CUTE!
3.  Grapes have approximately 5 calories each.  Who knew?  I found this out through an article on Facebook, which I can't locate at the moment.  Good info to know when you are eating the entire bag of approximately 200 grapes!  There goes breakfast and lunch.  I actually always felt like I was kind of on a sugar high when I would overeat grapes and this article stated that they are high in some simple sugar which is known to cause a quick spike in blood sugar. 
4.  Birthday sushi is the best sushi!
5.  I am possibly one of the only people on the planet not obsessed with the missing plane.  I feel terrible for the families of the passengers aboard but I kinda think the entire world has gone crazy with these black hole/conspiracy/alien theories.  I also didn't learn until today that CNN has now devoted their entire newscast to 24/7 coverage of the plane mystery?!?!?!  How are we supposed to find out what else is going on in the world right now??
6.  4 year olds are incredible abstract artists.  Exhibit A: This painting done by my niece that I received in the mail this week, and is now proudly displayed on my refrigerator.
7.  Morningstar Farms black bean burger > Gardenburger black bean burger.  Like x1000.  I am addicted to the Morningstar Farms variety, and I legit had to throw out the Gardenburger ones.  They made me gag.
These are the best!

8.  And last but not least, SPRING IS HERE!!!  I really hope Old Man Winter got the memo and gets the heck out of Dodge.  Winter, if you're reading, you're no longer welcome here.  Move it along.
The combination of my birthday and Spring's arrival this week just made me feel happy and hopeful!  I hope you all had a wonderful week as well!
How was your week?  What went down??


Monday, March 17, 2014

Feeling 22...

Nope, not at all.  But I do love me some TSwift.  I'm not really feeling 35 either.  Or perhaps, I don't know what 35 is supposed to feel like.  I don't think there's really a right answer here concerning how one should feel at a certain age, however, I do think at times even for me, a Pisces with her head eternally in the clouds, it becomes hard to ignore external and societal pressure.  When I was a little kid, I'm sure I thought 35 was REALLY old!  Ha!  I guess because that's how old my mom was when I was 14 (sweet Lord, that just blew my mind).

With each passing birthday, I become more aware of just how fast time flies.  It sometimes feels like there will not be enough time for me to accomplish all the things I want in life.  I am sure that when I was younger, I had a very different picture of where I would be at the ripe ol age of 35 and it looked nothing like this!  I try often to remember that "Comparison is the thief of joy" but even though I realize I am a spiritual being, I am also human, and sometimes succumb to the materialistic messages of this planet.  Sometimes I don't mind marching to the beat of my own drum, but then there are other times I definitely feel like the 'black sheep' amongst my family and friends, all of whom are settled down, married and have families of their own.  It becomes harder and harder to connect on the same level. 

I finally bought a few supplies at the art store to craft out my 35th year vision board, and I'm starting to feel like some of the things I thought I wanted may have changed? I don't know if that's really the case, or if it's just the ego/fear factor inside thinking I may never have them, so I might as well give up and pursue a new direction?  These are things I'm trying to sort out.  However, I have many bold dreams for this year that I'm not willing to give up on, however difficult or outlandish they may seem.  I mean go big or go home right? I read a quote recently that stated if your dreams don't scare you, then they're not big enough, and I liked it.  A lot.  Because most of my dreams are big and scary and I kind of don't know how I would even go about them.  But if you aim high, even if you don't reach the top, you'll still wind up farther than if you had never tried at all.

I will say this, it is much much easier for me to pursue physical goals (ie. running) than it is for me to pursue LIFE goals (ie. finding my purpose, soul mate, etc).  Setting a physical goal has easy to follow, definable steps, and many times life goals seem more like trial and error.  A zigzagged path that perhaps I don't have the patience or follow through to see to the end?  I don't know, but they are just much harder to get a handle on. 

Well, enough melodramatic reflection for one post!  I actually had a nice birthday weekend back home in PA celebrating with friends and family.  My sister made me some delicious vegan delicacies and I even got 6 miles in on Saturday with relatively mild back pain.  I have a race (just a 10K) coming up in a few weeks and if it would EVER STOP SNOWING I would love to start upping my mileage outdoors again.  (FYI: It's another snow day here in Baltimore; I wish I was joking.) 

Here are a few pics from my birthday yesterday.  This is what 35 looks like....or rather, this is what my 35 looks like. 

When I got back in town last night, I was expecting the cats to greet me at the door with party hats on and balloons in hand.  They did not.  To them, March 16th was just any other day, and they were happy to see me.  Perhaps I could learn a thing or two from them....
What do birthdays mean to you?
Do you feel any societal pressures as you get older?
How was your weekend?!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Birthday Edition!

Boy are you in for a treat today!  In honor of my upcoming birthday this Sunday, I thought I'd put together a little virtual slide show of me over the past 35 years.  Sounds like fun huh?!  Some of these pictures are absolutely ridiculous and I can't even believe I'm sharing them publicly but HERE WE GO.  I only hope the friends who are also pictured in some of these do not kill me.

Kick up your feet, grab a snack and settle in for the good stuff.  Let's go...

Me & my mom!
Year:  1979
Age: 0
Sugar and spice and everything nice...that'd be me!
Year:  1982/83
Age:  Toddler (3 or 4?)
A picture devoted entirely to big hair
Me & my sisters
Year:  1984?
Age:  Kindergarten-ish?
*Note - I had to skip over all of my elementary years here because I don't have any pictures at my apartment.  Those treasures must all be back home at my parent's house.  But I can pretty much sum up those years in two words: GIANT GLASSES.  I wore plastic glasses bigger than my head from 1st grade through middle school.  If I can find any of those pics I'll try to weave them into an upcoming post ;)  Moving on to high school...

Freshman year of high school (yes, really).  Sweet specs!  Also, I look about 9 years old.
Year:  1993
Age:  14

Senior prom.  Possibly trying to pretend I have a bosom. 
Newsflash: I didn't.
Year:  1997
Age:  18
Also senior year of high school - outside our favorite hangout, Rita's. 
It's where all the cools kids went.
Year:  1997
Age:  18

Freshman year of college - sweet orange hair!
Year:  1998
Age:  19
Senior college yearbook photo
Year:  2001
Age:  22
My first summer in Baltimore.  Back to the frosted hair and semi-mullet?!
Year:  2004
Age:  25
My 26th birthday in DC
Year:  2005
My 30th birthday at da club in Bmore. 
I dk why I look pregnant, I most definitely was not.
Year:  2009
Present day!
And there you have it.  It's been a wild ride, filled with some crazy highs and lows along the way, but I think we can all agree on one constant that's been there since the day I was born - THE HAIR!!! My God, the hair. 
Happy Throwback Thursday to you all :) 


Friday, March 7, 2014

My Non-Running Injury

You may have noticed I've been missing from these parts for the past week, and for that I apologize.  What was I doing?  Oh, you know just spending a few days incapacitated by a freak injury.  I'm feeling a lot better today but mannnnnnnnn, I was down for the count for a couple of days there.

Let me explain....

I fought the law and the law won.  No, not really.  But I did fight winter and winter kicked my A$S!  So far I'd say the tally this season is Winter: 1 bazillion twelve million, and Humanity: 0

We got yet ANOTHER snowstorm Sunday evening.  I normally am not one to run out to the grocery store every time snow is in the forecast, but it was Sunday and that's usually when I go shopping for the week.  Never again.  People were clearing the shelves like we were on the brink of apocalypse. 

I woke up Monday morning to snow, but we didn't end up getting the foot they were calling for (thank goodness for small miracles).  There were probably about 5 inches or so total when it finally stopped later that afternoon.  Annoyed that I had to shovel my car out again for the 17th time this winter, I suited up in my running tights, various layers of t-shirts, my ski jacket and the rinkiest dinkiest gloves I could find and headed out into the third iteration of the polar vortex to get to work.  Oh I forgot to mention that just prior to this, I got a nosebleed.  HAHAHA.  Ever since I was a wee one, I get nosebleeds, especially in the winter, when the air inside is hot and dry.  Every once in awhile I will get summer nosebleeds if I get really overheated.  Anyway, my heat was on high blast this weekend because it was so cold outside so I guess that's what did it.  Sorry if that's TMI but it's important in the retelling of this disaster. 
So I waited until I thought my little snout was healed and out I went.  I proceeded to clear the snow off my car without incident and then moved on to shoveling out around it.  However, I guess my body started to heat up once I started to shovel and my nose began dripping blood onto the snow! Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww.  If you are not sufficiently grossed out, please read on.
Of course I did not have any tissues with me, and of course I didn't feel like walking all the way back around my building and up 3 flights of stairs to get some, so what did I do?  Oh I just continued to drip blood in the snow like a dying animal while shoveling like a maniac to finish what I came out there to do.  You can prob see where this is leading.  I have never once injured myself shoveling snow (and I grew up in even snowier Pennsylvania).  I thought that was a fate reserved for my AARP years.  Wrongo.  All of sudden I felt a pang? A snap? And then a shooting pain across my back.  I guess I twisted the wrong way in my rushed attempt to finish while bleeding profusely from my nose.  Man, this even sounds gross :(

I'm with you kid.

You may think at that point I would have admitted defeat and went back inside.  You'd be wrong.  I CONTINUED TO SHOVEL like a moron despite the shooting pain in my back.  When I finally came inside I convinced myself it wasn't that bad.  I was in pain, but rarely if ever, pay attention my body's pain cues (not good).  I took some Advil, put a heating pad on it and then carried on with my evening.  I mean, I even had time to post this good humored little status update on FB.  All was right with the world. 
And then...
That night was TORTURE.  I was in so much pain I couldn't even sleep.  There was no position whatsoever that did not cause me pain.  My bed was like my worst enemy.  When I got up the next morning I could barely move.  I have never suffered a back injury so I had no clue what was wrong.  Did I break something?  Is there even any way you can break your back shoveling?!  If it's just a muscle injury why do I feel paralyzed yet also in extreme pain?!  So I did what most women in their 30's do when they are sick.  Texted my mom!  She's a nurse so I knew she'd have some good advice.  She said I should probably go to the ER and get some kind of shot or muscle relaxants and pain killers.  Well, I don't have health insurance currently so that wasn't an option. 
I basically spent the next 24 hours of my life popping Advil like it was candy and lying on the floor.  Yes that was the only thing that was comfortable.  My sofa hurt me, my bed hurt me, standing hurt, sitting hurt.  Lying motionless on the ground was the only thing somewhat tolerable.
I ate Advil non stop for the next 3 days and today I'm feeling much improved.  I still have pain in my back but at least I can move, sit and bend, if somewhat awkwardly.
I am hoping I NEVER SEE SNOW AGAIN and if I do that this never happens again!  I haven't gone to the gym since Sunday and I'm kind of scared to start working out again until I have no pain lest I reawaken the monster. 
Gosh, I am sorry this post got so long! 
Moral of the story though:  WINTER BLOWS.  The end.
Have you ever injured yourself shoveling snow?

Do you have any experience with back injuries?  Can you offer me any advice?!


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Weekend Food Adventures

Something happened this weekend that made me feel like a 'real blogger'.  I HAD FROYO!!!  It's no secret I've felt 'less than' in the blogger world because I don't drink coffee and I don't eat froyo.  Well cross the latter off the list because this weekend I had some frozen yogurt for the first time ever...and I didn't die.  How is this possible, you may ask?  Well this was no ordinary dairy-filled froyo.  Nope.  It was almond milk frozen yogurt!  Can you believe this even exists?  Oh what an extraordinary age we live in these days.  But let's back up a minute and I'll tell you how this whole food adventure unfolded.

On Friday I worked from 7am-4pm and then I had a 2 hour break before my 2nd job (I know, my life is kind of insane right now!).  So, I decided to make the best of the little 'me time' I had and explore a new-to-me area of Baltimore in the neighborhood near my job. 

I headed over to Belvedere Square, which is a little market area of shops and restaurants.  I had actually been there once before, a few years ago, to attend an event my friend hosted about her farm's summer produce co-op.  However I had never eaten there or walked around.  This same friend used to work at a farm-to-table shop in the Square called Atwater's.  She would tell me regularly how wonderful the food and soups were and yet, I never ate there.  WHY?!  Why oh why did I never trek over to that side of town for this food.  I was blown away by my meal on Friday. 

Atwater's feels like a mixture of a farmers market, produce stand, café, sandwich and cheese shop and bakery all rolled into one!  There are various rustic counters set up around the giant store, all offering something different.  You can order gourmet sandwiches and soups at one, coffee at another, homemade ice cream at another, homemade bread at yet another, and even a few more.  What I did know about Atwater's from my friend is that they source most of their food from local farms in Pennsylvania and Maryland, one of the reasons why she loved working there.  This goes for the food they make and serve in the restaurant, but you can also purchase fresh produce and goods like honey and jam that come from local farms as well!  It's really an incredible place.  There was also a counter serving local organic beer!  I picked up a menu (which changes regularly) and had a really tough time deciding between soup, a salad or a sandwich.  Everything just looked so wonderful.  I finally decided on a vegetarian sandwich that I'll admit sounded kind of strange, but also strangely intrigued me - the Sweet Potato and Hummus on Ciabatta.

The sandwich had two huge slices of creamy sweet potato, fresh hummus, local leaf lettuce, cucumber slices and homemade black olive tapenade on a fresh baked ciabatta roll (it also came with cheese which I obvs nixed).  Behold the beauty:

It's hard to even describe how all of the different flavors in this sandwich came together, but the end result was just insanely good!  Their homemade pickle was also delicious (I LOVE pickles).  For ethical reasons, I've recently been trying to cut back on the meat I eat.  Lately, I'm beginning to see how much variety, goodness and flavor can be had in a vegetarian diet.

After I finished eating, I got up and walked around the shop.  There were so many wonderful wares to purchase, but alas I am on a budget so I settled on some local blueberry honey.  I love putting honey in my tea and liked the idea of supporting a farm for some real honey, instead of that processed stuff they sell at the grocery store.

I still had a little bit of time before I had to be at my babysitting job, and I noticed there was a TCBY across the street.  Now normally, there would be no reason for me to set foot inside a yogurt establishment but I had heard that they now served a non dairy option made with Silk almond milk.  Perfect!  Upon entering I asked the friendly lady at the counter if they did indeed serve this and she said they did!  Yippee.  On this day they were serving Silk Chocolate Almond flavor.  She let me sample it and I liked it so I told her I would take a small cup.  I had no idea you are actually supposed to just fill up your own cup with whatever flavors and toppings you want and then pay for it at the end according to weight?!  You can tell I've never bought froyo before.  I just got a small bit and then decided to go for some sprinkles on top because why not?  I told her I actually wanted to try the vanilla flavor too and she said they had some ready in the To-Go case, so I also bought a small container of vanilla to take home! 
So my overall verdict on froyo?  Well, I'm going to go against the blogging grain once again, because I don't think it's nearly as good as non-dairy ice cream.  GASP!  The consistency is thinner, grainier and more watery.  And it feels like they overcompensate for the lack of fat by making it extra sweet.  I'm guessing this is also the case with regular froyo, but I don't know, so please tell me!  It's not terrible, but I'd definitely take some non dairy soft serve from Vegan Treats any day over froyo.  I think I will probably still eat it once in awhile, now that I know it exists, but I'd really love if I could find a vegan bakery comparable to Vegan Treats in Baltimore that served ice cream.  That would truly be nirvana.  Maybe I can convince them to let me manage a branch here in Baltimore! Dream job - just putting it out there!  (hint, hint)
Feeling oh so satisfied after my two hour break and nourished from all the delicious food, I put on my Super Nanny cape and headed off to work :)
How was your weekend?  Did you eat anything super delicious?
If you are a froyo fan, I'd love to know what you love about it!  And do you like it more than ice cream?