Thursday, May 28, 2015

MDW in the ATL

I'm baaaaaaaaaaack!  I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend.  I had a great time down in Atlanta, and I'm happy to report the integrity of the surprise was preserved!  My sister had no idea I was in town until she opened her garage door and there I stood :)

I usually make time to visit my sister and her family a few times a year, but somehow I had not been down there since her third child was born last September.  Needless to say, there was much catching up to be done.

I didn't take a ton of photos or spend much time on social media while I was down there and that suited me just fine.  I enjoy the chance to unplug a bit when I'm away and love being able to spend QT with my nieces, nephew, sister and brother-in-law whom I don't get to see nearly enough.

Here are a few highlights from the trip with a few pics I did manage to snap.  Enjoy!

Visited Zoo Atlanta:

Spent an evening out (sans kids) in Buckhead where we ate at Seasons 52 and listened to some live music at Park Bench:

Branzino (fish) flown in straight from Greece! 


Hung out with the cutest kids south of the Mason Dixon:

No bias.  They are just legitimately adorable :)
And spent some time at the pool:

In between hanging out with the kiddos, I did manage to fit in some workouts.  My sister (who looks INCREDIBLE btw!) is also very active so we spent a lot of time working out together.  She goes on long walks every evening (which I joined her on) and has started adding some running into the mix as well!  She also lives very close to the Silver Comet Trail so we went biking there twice while I was visiting.  The trail is a great free, well maintained paved path that's 60+ miles long in North Atlanta.  We were out amongst many other bikers, runners, walkers and families and it was great to catch up, chat and enjoy the scenery on our bikes.
And in a surprising turn of events, she invited me to participate in her Friday morning yoga class which I actually enjoyed?!  If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know I've tried yoga a handful of times and can just never get into it.  However, my sister takes a class which is taught by a mom privately in her home studio.  On Friday morning, the two of us were the only students in class so we got lots of personal attention.  The instructor told us she combines yoga/Pilates into her practice and I really enjoyed the flow of moves.  I'd love to find someone similar in Baltimore who offers small sessions like this because I feel like I'd learn much better than when I'm in large classes at the gym (and have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing).  It was also much more peaceful being the only ones in class. 
It is always wonderful to reconnect with my sister and her family.  I don't get to see them nearly as often as I'd like, so every trip becomes a treasured memory for me.
This was my first vacation all year and getting back to the real world Tuesday morning was rough!  Hope you all had a better time of it than I did.  And now it's nearly June?!  I dk what is even happening to 2015.
Have a great day!
How did you spend the holiday weekend?
Do you have family that lives far away?  How often do you get to visit?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how big does my hair look in that restaurant pic?!  Ha

Friday, May 22, 2015


I flew into ATL early Thursday morning to surprise my sister!  She had no idea I was coming (I hope!)

I'll be hanging out with these 3 little monkeys for the next few days:

So I'll catch up with you next week.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Weekend 'Firsts'

Hellooooooo and Happy Monday!  I hope you had a fantastic weekend.  The weather here was summery and humid, and for the most part sunny, with a few wild thunderstorms thrown in there.  I had a very random handful of experiences this weekend, many of them 'firsts'.  Let's get into it.

The weekend started off with me grabbing some takeout sushi on Friday after work.  The cherry on the top of that interaction was when the very sweet woman ringing me up asked if I needed chopsticks for one or two.  'Just one', I replied.  Let it be known to anyone within earshot that not only am I single, but I also intend on single-handedly housing this entire order of sushi myself.  And, End scene.

On Saturday morning, I woke up early to road-trip it from Baltimore to NJ for my very first meeting with a medium!  It was a gorgeous sunny day and I could not have been more excited/nervous.  Hi, ho, hi, ho, over the bridge we go:

I had no idea what to wear to this appointment.  I felt like I was getting ready for a first date and must have tried on at least 6 different shirts! Hahaha.  Even though I knew she would be reading me spiritually, I didn't want to give her the wrong impression of who I was based on my clothing?!  I settled on cropped running tights, my "Respect the Poof" t-shirt, giant hair and no makeup.  That is everything I am right there.

I'm not going to get into what went on during my session but I will say that I found it to be an emotional and somewhat therapeutic experience.  It was not entirely what I was expecting, but then I really had no idea what to expect going in! 

The appointment pretty much physically and emotionally drained me, and after making the return trip back to MD, I proceeded to pass out on my couch, only to be awoken hours later by booming thunderstorms.

Sunday was a sunny, humid day, which I spent outdoors at Loch Raven reservoir.  The reservoir is huge and there are many different entrance points in northern Baltimore County.  It offers hiking and walking trails, as well as boating and fishing entrances.  Since I'm not currently training for any races, I am looking forward to spending more summer weekends hiking.

Afterward, my friend decided we should go for Snowballs, a Baltimore delicacy.  I must admit, in my 11 years of living here, I had never once eaten a snowball...until yesterday.  I mistakenly always assumed they were just like snow cones, which I ate as a kid growing up in PA, and do not really care for as an adult.  Oh, I could not have been more wrong! 

Unlike snow cones, the ice used for snowballs is shaved so finely so that it melts and completely absorbs the applied flavoring.  Snow cones, on the other hand, usually end up as a giant block of ice, with the syrup completely separated at the bottom.  As kid, I would simply drink the sugary liquid and discard all the ice!  Super healthy.  The liquid used in the snowball also wasn't as syrupy or as sweet as snow cone flavoring.  I got cake batter and it tasted just like yellow cake.  Of course, this momentous event had to be documented via photo:

And that there was my weekend in a nutshell!  Even though the upcoming holiday weekend is usually the 'official' kickoff of the summer season, summer has most certainly arrived in Baltimore.  Have a great week!

Tell me about your weekend!

Have you ever been to a medium?  Or any kind of spiritual reader?

Have you ever heard of or had a Snowball?!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Love

I have been loving life lately and I know it's 100% due to the change in weather.  Sunshine is my drug of choice.  I wouldn't say I have SAD or am clinically depressed in winter, but there is definitely a change in my mood during those long, cold, dark months.  Lack of Vitamin D will do that to you. 

I'm going to continue the love fest today by sharing all my latest loves.  Here's what I'm currently into:

(old pic)
  • Sleeping with the windows open.  The first whisper of fresh air in my apartment after months of being completely closed off from the outside world is HEAVEN!
  • My mom's new Facebook cover photo:

  • That my work days are currently spent almost entirely outdoors.  I already have the shirt/shorts/flip flop tan.  It's super attractive :)
  • This artwork created for me by a 5 month old.  My charges are the sweetest, most talented babies I know!
  • A gym date with a friend this week.  She's really got me into BodyCombat now.
  • My first taste of fresh corn on the cob this week!  I love it so much.  However, I thought I read somewhere that corn is one of the most frequently GMO'ed products out there.  I really hope this isn't true because I eat it almost every day in the summer.
  • That Memorial Day weekend is ONE week away?! Shut the front door.  I'm all in.

Tell me some things you're loving lately!

Do the seasons/weather affect your mood?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Sprinkle, Pickle Juice, Mother's Day, and a Double Rainbow

Hiii!  I hope you all had a great Mother's Day Weekend! I was back in PA for a few things, and I'm going to break it down in pictures for you today.

On Friday, I drove straight from work in Baltimore to a restaurant in downtown Bethlehem for a surprise 'sprinkle' for my sister, set up by her husband!  My normal 2 and a 1/2 hour commute took 4 hours (Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!) so needless to say I was a bit late.  But I made it and I'm glad I did :)

My sister was gifted some really nice things for her second baby, including some handmade items.  We also had some delicious food.  I ordered giant sea scallops which were phenomenal.  I wish I would have taken a picture, but after driving for 4 hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic, I was famished and nearly inhaled them.

Both of my sisters have looked great before and after all of their pregnancies!  I hope the good genes carry on for me someday.  When this baby is born in June, I will be an Aunt for the 5th time!

Since we were downtown, I had to stop by Vegan Treat after the party for some of this:

Only my favorite flavor ever: CHEESECAKE!  I want to swim in a vat of that one day.

The weather all weekend was perfect.  80's, sunny, and warm.  Maybe a bit too humid but I'll take that over WINTER any freaking day.

On Saturday, I went out for a 5 mile run around my parents' neighborhood.  It's so lovely when you're not training for a race, and you can make your long runs any 'ol distance you want!  I forgot to snap a pic so here's a sweaty run from last week:

I felt kind of nauseous during the run, so after I got home I drank some pickle juice straight from the jar!  Haha  I'd actually never done that before, but I love pickles so it was yummy. I guess Snooki and I have that in common.

On Sunday, I went out for my first bike ride since the Fall.  I have a mountain bike at my parents' house that I've had since high school or college (?!) and it's still in great shape!  I never knew how long my route around their neighborhood was, so I took my iPhone and tracked it with MapMyRun.  It came out to almost 14 miles.  Good to know Beanie.

Afterward, we headed over to my sister's house for a Mother's Day cookout where I got to hang out with THIS GUY:

We celebrated all the moms in attendance, including my very own:

It was such a summery, outdoorsy, fun, family weekend and I loved every minute.

To top things off, I caught this DOUBLE RAINBOW on my drive back down to Baltimore on Sunday night.  Good sign?  Oh I think so.

SUMMER IS HERE!  Let's do this.  I'm so excited for the next few months!

Have a great week everyone!

How was your Mother's Day weekend?

Is it summer where you are yet?

What does a double rainbow mean?! Double good luck!?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

"I Believe the Children Are Our Future"

Happy Friday and Mother's Day Weekend to you all!  I'm linking up with Mama Kat again today for her Writer's Workshop with this prompt:

Share a quote you love.
I knew exactly what I wanted to write about when I saw this, and thought it was fitting for this weekend's tribute to mothers:

I don't remember when I first saw this quote, it was many years ago, but I immediately connected with it.  It was almost as if I had spoken the words myself. 
Like many girls my age, I started babysitting in high school.  I credit one of my best friends for introducing me to my first family and thus igniting a passion I never knew I had.  From that very first job, and at such a young age, I remember feeling like this was something I was good at, and perhaps even made to do.  I connected easily with kids, genuinely enjoyed the time I spent with them, and even more than that, I somehow understood that what I was doing was an incredible responsibility, and not just child's play (sorry for the pun!).  And I've treated my interactions with children that way ever since. 
It's so hard to put into words how I feel about childcare, and all those that nurture, educate and help raise children, but I'm going to try.  I believe there are few things more important in this life than taking care of others.  Human to human is where it's at.  I think a clear way to measure the goodness of any society is to see how they care for the youngest, oldest, sickest, and frailest among their ranks. 
Over the past week, I've received so many kind words from my nanny families as well as strangers, and I think that's what led me to blog about this today.  Although I'm still not the best at accepting compliments, these words meant so much to me. 
I'm often mistaken for the kids' moms when we are out and about, and I'm always quick to point out that I'm the nanny.  I feel it's respectful to their moms to make the distinction clear.  When I pointed this out to a mother at one of our classes this week, she told me she would have never known because I treated my charge so sweetly, as if he were my own.  [Side note: Is there any other way to treat a child?!]  Another family told me this week that they are eternally grateful and feel so lucky that I came into their lives.  (I feel the same way about them and their child!)  I'm not retelling these things to brag, but to demonstrate the amazing things acting with love can do.  Childcare is anything but a 'job' to me.  It is a part of my very being, and caring for other children 'as if they were my own' is what I believe every good human should do.  We are all one.
I think it's clear from many of my posts that I'm an idealist (as opposed to a realist), and I don't care much for many of the so-called 'necessities' of modern life.  Yes, paying rent, and buying cars, and using smartphones are all things we as humans 'must' do sometimes, but these things are not the essence of life or the reason we are here.  I think we are here to share our gifts and connect with others.  To be good people and do good things. 
I don't know why it's so easy for me to connect with and understand kids, but I know that if I was given that gift, I have to use it for good!  Over the years, I've been drawn to the youngest of children, mostly infants and young toddlers.  This may sound kind of out there, but I believe I'm drawn to them because they are the closest we will ever get to the Source/God/the Other Side here on earth.  They are complete goodness and love and I believe it's OUR responsibility to show them that same goodness.  The world can be a hard, cruel place and eventually everyone will see that, but it's important that the youngest of us are taken care of, nurtured and shown love because they are our future.
Perhaps if we take care of each and every one of them, they will grow up to change this world for the better, and there will be no more cruelty or hatred.  It's a tall order, but something worth undertaking.  The recent events in Baltimore are just one example, but unrest like this exists all over the world.  The solution is LOVE for all humans and we've got to instill that in our youth in order for anything to change down the line.
It remains to be seen if I will ever get to be a biological mother.  It's something I always thought would've happened by now, but perhaps I'm meant to help raise hundreds of kids and not just a few of my own?!  I firmly believe in the old adage 'It takes a village' to raise a child.  Whether you are a mother, aunt, sister, father, childcare professional, foster parent, adoptive parent, teacher, minister, mentor, or any other number of people who help to raise children, I believe you are doing some of the most important work on this earth.  Tiny humans are the future of humanity and this planet.  Above all, we should love them. 
For some further inspiration, have a listen to classic Whitney.  I used to belt out this song as a kid like nobody's business! 

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there and Thank you to everyone who has made a difference in the life of a child!
Share one of your favorite quotes with me!
How are you celebrating Mother's Day this weekend?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

How Did I Not Know About This, and Other Randomness

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  It's been years since I've celebrated this holiday, but if you're getting crazy tonight, more power to you!

Last week, I was lamenting the fact that I couldn't check my results from the 2013 Runner's World Half because they weren't on the website anymore, and thus didn't know how far off my PR I was. Well, little did I know there is a site out there that apparently stores results from ALL your races?!?! How did I not know about this?  Jenny (from Run Jenny Run) was kind enough to comment on that post and share the site with me, so today's post goes out to her! Thanks Jenny!

The site is called Athlinks and when I logged in I was happy to see race results from the past few years, including the RW Half!  Yippee!!  Perhaps I'm the only one out there who's never heard of this site, but if you're in the same boat as me, check it out!  It's so fancy.  So now I know I ran St. Luke's 33 seconds slower than my PR, and I can sleep easy tonight.  Ahhhhhhhh, glad I got that cleared up.

On to some other randomness.  On Friday I went out for happy hour.  Which apparently goes from 5pm to 2am.  Oy vey.  This is what happens when you're no longer training for a race and don't have a long run scheduled for the next day.  Wild debauchery ensues.

Those empanadas were yummy
For most of Saturday, I felt like death (obviously).  Drinking at 36 is whole different ball game than drinking at 26.  Sober Jill knows this.  Happy hour Jill does not!
I babysat late Saturday night and by that time was feeling much better (TONS of Gatorade).  I ended up catching an old movie on PBS that I had never seen before - Three Coins in the Fountain.  It was made in the 50's and set in Italy.  It was a lovely little movie, even if the sexist undertones were wildly outdated.
The weather in Baltimore is currently PHENOMENAL.  Summer is here!  That means open-toed shoes, which means I had to paint my toenails for probably the first time since September. 
On another note, it was WAY too hot to be wearing leggings yesterday.  Time to break out the shorts.  FINALLY!
And lastly, I pre-ordered this book and just received it in the mail. I have been following Jeff Goins for awhile and this book comes highly anticipated.  I can't wait to get into it. 

Tell me something random!

Did you know about Athlinks?!
Is it finally open-toe shoe weather in your neighborhood?

Friday, May 1, 2015

Relocation Dreams

Linking up with MamaKat today for her Writer's Workshop.  This week's prompt was definitely meant for me:

You have to move away from your state in one month. List 6 destinations you wouldn’t mind relocating to.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately.  This month marked my 11th year in Baltimore.  ELEVEN!  I moved here in April 2004.  Typing that out looks insane.  I can't even believe I've lived in the same place that long.  When I moved here at the tender young age of 25, I had no idea what my future in this city would look like.  I have a decade of memories here, some good and others not so much, but all are a part of who I have become.  Some memories are so old they are starting to fade away, and some I can hardly even believe happened.  What a crazy ride Baltimore has been for me.  But I've known for quite some time that my next chapter is not here.  So where to?  Here are my current fantasies:

1.  Southern California
This has been a dream for as long as I can remember.  I know it's expensive as heck, but can you really put a price on 365 days of sunshine?!  Quality of life year round is important to me and I'm pretty much done with Northeast winters.  There's a reason people in California are happier and healthier - Sunshine!  Like the ad says 'Happy cheese comes from happy cows, and happy cows come from California'.  Well, I want to be a HAPPY COW.

2.  Italy
Oh just one of my favorite countries on Earth!  A couple of years ago I actually looked into becoming a European Au Pair, but it turns out I've already surpassed the age limit?!  Rude.  Choosing a city in Italy would be the toughest part.  I have only been to a few on the mainland and a few in Sicily.  Perhaps my favorite destination was the Aeolian Islands off the coast of Sicily.  I certainly wouldn't mind spending my days working in a seaside café in Lipari and perhaps meeting the Italian man of my dreams?!

3.  The Caribbean
Inspired by this article I read today as well as my general love of the beach.  I also just started reading this blog ( about a girl who works on sailboats and travels to tropical destinations FOR HER JOB.  Sign me up.  Although I don't know a thing about sailing.  Maybe I can just get a job scooping (dairy free, vegan) ice cream like the woman in the first article.  If Vegan Treats wants to send me to a Caribbean island to open a franchise, I'M IN.
4.  The ATL
The obvious reason being my sister and 3 loves of my life live there, but it is also a pretty great city.  The winters are mild and the summers are just the way I like my men: hot and sweaty.  There are so many opportunities for outdoor activities and recreation, and the people are friendly.  What can I say, it's a real PEACH!
5.  Bethlehem, PA
No matter where I go, Bethlehem will always be "home" to me.  I really had an idyllic childhood here.  Although I loathe PA winters as an adult, as a kid no two words held more promise and excitement than these: SNOW DAY!  My closest friends, parents, sister and many members of my extended family live here.  It's the perfect place to raise a family and if/when I enter that phase of my life I hope to be living close to them again.
6.  ???
I'm leaving this one open-ended to see what else the Universe may have in store for me.  Perhaps the Universe has plans for me that I haven't even considered.  The only requirement: wherever I go must be cat-approved!
Happy Friday everyone.  Have a great one.
Play along!  If you could relocate anywhere, where would you go?!