Monday, November 24, 2014

Just around the river bend... local adventures!

My original plan for Veteran's Day was to do laundry, clean the house, and maybe go see a movie. However, my mother texted me a few days before, and told me that we need to do something "fun" with our day off, and to save the chores for the weekend. Don't have to tell me twice - I was in! The question was, what should we do with our day?

It was slated to be gorgeous weather, and the cold was supposed to come rolling in the day after (and it did - full on arctic blast! yuck) so we wanted to do something outdoors. A little brainstorming led me to a local treasure: Ferry Farm, George Washington's Boyhood Home.

Ferry Farm is approximately five minutes from my house, just on the other side of the river from historic downtown Fredericksburg. It's the site where the home that George Washington grew up in was located - the house is no longer there, but archaeologists have located the foundation, and there are plans in the works to rebuild the home.

Having lived in this area for over 20 years, as the daughter of a teacher who always used days off for educational purposes, I've been to a lot of historic sites around here. We'd never visited Ferry Farm, though - so it was new for the whole family. My mom packed a scrumptious picnic for us, which we enjoyed at a picnic table under the trees, and my dad greeted me with my first Starbucks Red Cup of the season. What more could a girl need? (Hint: to not be dressed like it's fall when it turns out to be 75*! I was sweating. Beautiful.)

Included in the price of admission at Ferry Farm is a self-guided iPad tour - they hand you an iPad loaded with an app designed for the site, and you follow the path all around the property looking for numbered flags. When you find a flag, you touch the corresponding number on the screen, and each one has videos, pictures, and facts about the area where you're standing. It was a pretty neat way to take a tour, and nice that we could take as long or as little at each spot.

We spent a little over an hour walking around and learning about George Washington's childhood... and when we'd had enough, we headed back across the river for a round of drinks and appetizers at one of our favorite local restaurants. It was a great way to spend a day off, and enjoy some quality time with two of my favorite vets (thanks, Mom & Dad!).

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

C is for Cookie, that's good enough for me...

I know it's not quite Thanksgiving yet, but my mama and I are already planning our Christmas-cooking-baking extravaganza day. With the short turn-around time between T-giving and Xmas this year, we pretty much have to roll straight from turkey to cookies. Last year we might have gone a smidge overboard with an eagerness to try too many different types of cookies (I think we used 8 different recipes??), so we are limiting ourselves to larger batches of a few types this year to make it a little easier.

We will definitely make our usual sugar cookies (the same recipe my mom has been using for over 30 years!), but there are a few other types that I'm thinking of that might just have to make their way onto the list. I want to make them all!

The recipes below are a mix of "lots of effort," "little effort," and "no bake" cookies, which will hopefully enable us to do lots of things at once. There is a lot of coordination and planning required for a major baking day! It's an art form, my friends. An art form.

Do you have a "must-make" holiday cookie recipe? A family recipe that just has to be included every year? Something new you want to try this year? Share it with me, please. I love collecting cookie recipes for my arsenal!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Five for Friday: where is this going?...

Honestly, I feel like I say this every Friday but... this week has been crazy. I was supposed to be in Florida the past three days for an off-site meeting, but we cancelled the trip at the last minute and rearranged everything to hold the meetings in DC over the past two days. Throw in that odd Tuesday holiday, and my whole world is topsy-turvy. Hi, I'm a creature of habit, have we met? Thought so.

Anywho. Today's Five for Friday is five things that I just really can't flesh out into entire posts on their own. I'm not sure what direction this is going in, so let's see....

1 // My company recently hosted a walking / steps challenge, and any team who had an average of a certain number of steps over a certain number of weeks won.. the prize was a FitBit for everyone on the team! I was lucky enough to be on a great team where just about everyone pulled their weight (ha), and this week I got to place my order for a free FitBit! I am super stoked for it to arrive... I know it's a glorified pedometer, but I've been wanting one for a while and unwilling to bite the bullet and purchase it myself. An all-around win!

2 // I know everyone is currently raging on and on about T.Swift's new album (and I'll admit, I love it, too) but can we talk about another song I am loving right now? That would be Carrie Underwood's newest, Something in the Water. I am not a hugely religious person, but that song is freakin' gorgeous. I just can't help but turning it up every time I hear it.

3 // One of my favorite parts of the holidays is all the television / music specials that come on this time of year. I'm really looking forward to the annual CMA Country Christmas show - it's on ABC on Monday, December 1. Set your DVRs accordingly!

4 // C and I share a desk / office space, and it has worked pretty well for us in the past, but now that we are both working from home a bit more, we are thinking we need two work spaces. That means a new desk, and a second monitor / keyboard / mouse / etc. that we can hook up to. So... sounds like Christmas presents this year are going to be of the "productive" sort. Any good desk recommendations?

5 // My mom was nice enough to (attempt) to take some Christmas card pictures for us, and I'm working on editing them and choosing what to use on our card this year. Selecting and creating a Christmas card stresses me out way more than it should, every single year. First world problems, for sure. We got outside for pictures right in time to capture some gorgeous autumn colors... is there anything better than Virginia in the fall??

Happy Friday, y'all! Thanksgiving is two weeks away :) Who's ready excited?!

linking up with the five on friday girls:  Darci, Christina, April,and Natasha

linking up with karli and amy

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The spirit of the race

This past Sunday, I ran a local 5k race. It was a spontaneous, late-week decision - while I was registering for my next half, I noticed that there was a 5k slated to start at my neighborhood grocery stored, sponsored by SweetFrog. Five minutes down the road AND sponsored by one of my favorite companies? I couldn't miss it! So, there I was, bright and early on a cold November morning, ready to run.

The race itself went off without a hitch. It wasn't my best run, nor was it my worst. I ran alone with my music, through a subdivision that looks mighty similar to my own, and was content with just considering it a normal training run. I finished in just under 30 minutes, which is my usual personal goal for a 5k. I didn't intend to hang around for the awards ceremony or anything, so I stopped by a tree in the parking lot to stretch for a few minutes before I headed home.

While I was doing so, a guy nearby turned to me and said, "Hey! Great race!" I didn't recognize him, so I said thank you, and continued to do my thing. He kept talking though, and he went on to tell me that he had been keeping pace with me for the length of the race, and that he was just behind me the whole time until the last quarter mile or so. That was when, in his words, I just "took off outta no where!" He said he was amazed to see me speed up so much towards the end and push myself through the finish line, and that he was inspired by me. I wasn't really sure why, until he said that the race we'd just run was his second race, ever. He went out of his way to let me know that he thought I'd been a good race "teammate," even though we were both running alone - and I knew what he meant!

That turned out to be the very best part of that race for me. No, the best part wasn't the SweetFrog coupon in my "goodie bag," or the free T-shirt (which has the SweetFrog mascot on it - new fave!). The best part was a random guy who, for me, embodied the spirit of racing. I will be the first to tell you that I don't love running. I really don't. I generally curse and moan the whole time I'm doing it. But I do love racing. I love the community that racing cultivates - the people who cheer for each other, who encourage each other, who push each other to go a little further or a little faster or both. I love hearing people cheer for me as I cross the finish line, people I don't know and will never meet, and then turning around to do the same for someone else. That guy, who stopped me to tell me that I'd run a great race, and that I'd encouraged him? He was the best part of my race, and I wish I'd thought to tell him that he made my day. I do know that, given the chance, I will do the same for someone at my next race, because a few positive words can have an amazing effect, and make a regular race into a great one. So thanks, anonymous runner man! And good luck at your next race. Because it's addicting, and there will be another.

Friday, November 7, 2014

five for friday: favorites, short & sweet!

This week has crawled by at less than a snail's pace and I am so ready for it to be over. We have "plans" this weekend, but no real plans - aka, need to clean the house, want to see a movie, would like to visit with some friends. Just the kind of thing I need for a couple of days!

Thought I'd share a few of my favorite things lately... what have you been loving? This is a super random assortment... bear with me! Should give you a glimpse of my mind-state lately, though. Like a chicken with my head cut off, nonstop. C'est la vie!

Favorite DIY: cranberry-lime-infused vodka // yes, yes, all of the yes. Planning to make a batch of this soon so that it's ready for the holidays. How delicious does that sound??

Favorite fall treat: pumpkin pie spice creamer  // This stuff is so good! It's all artificial nonsense, of course, but I don't care - it makes my coffee delicious and my tummy happy. I used this last year, and was really hoping to see it in stores again this fall... so I was super excited when it appeared on the shelf at my grocery store!

Favorite celeb moment: Carrie Underwood at the CMAs // What can I say? I adore her! Did anyone else watch the CMAs on Wednesday? This wasn't my favorite year as far as the awards go, but I did enjoy Carrie and Brad Paisley as the hosts again. And Carrie's maternity styling was just perfect! So gorgeous.

Favorite current read: Stella Bain by Anita Shreve // I've had this on my list to read for a while, and just found it at the library last week. I am always drawn towards any WWI or WWII-related historical fiction, so of course this caught my eye. I'm about halfway through, and it seems like a good read so far. Anyone else read it?

Favorite new recipe: Alton Brown's French Onion Soup // C & I have been experimenting with French Onion soup recipes for a while now, trying to find the most winning combination. I just found another one to try.... I'm hoping we'll have a chance to make it this weekend!

Have a wonderful weekend! What is your favorite thing about this week? Tell me something good!

linking up with the five on friday girls:  Darci, Christina, April,and Natasha

linking up with karli and amy