It’s been a week…or two.

Wow, that’s all I can say to start with.  It’s like at some point you just take a deep breath and wonder how in the world you’ve made it through some of the crazy.  One of my friends from work, Chrissy, put it great on her blog just over a week ago, there are just those days where you’re like WTF.  I’ve had several of those at work lately.  You know, it’s seriously so frustrating and so hard sometimes knowing that most every single problem that we have comes down to poor communication.  That being said, Jacks has gone so above and beyond to make sure that I’m able to unwind a bit.  Ever since I got home last night, it’s been fantastic for just getting relaxed.

We went out for some Indian food at Choolah Indian BBQ in Sterling last night.  It’s one of those fast/casual restaurants much in the style of Cava or Chipotle.  We got a ton of food really cheep, and it was quite tasty.  We sampled some tofu and veggies along with some yellow dal and chana masala.  We also tried the samosas and got whole wheat naan.  It was awesome that everything was marked so clearly as vegan.  My favorite was the chana masala.  Jackie’s favorite item was none of the above.  She was in love with the automatic hand washer.  It really was rather nice.  You just shove your hands in and it’s like you got a nice water massage.

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Afterwards we met our friends Jeremy and Kaitlin for some coffee before heading off to Escape Room Loudoun.  We’d never done an escape room before.  Talk about a great time.  This one was themed around escaping from a creepy doctor.  We worked super well as a team, nobody got edgy with anyone, we all had gifts to add.  Jeremy was very good with the spacial puzzles.  (Seriously I sat there for 5 minutes and he got it in like 30 seconds).  Kaitlin was good with the word puzzles.  Jackie killed it on getting our locks undone and noticing things out of place.  Me?  I don’t know, I just added the engineer mind, I don’t know, it was super fun.  We escaped in about 54 minutes… Oddly we could have been out about 2 minutes earlier, but apparently I’m special with the locked door.  Here’s a great picture of us all.  We really couldn’t ask for having better friends, and they’re right next door.  Bonus.

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It rained all night and a fair part of today, but it’s left the weather perfect.  70ish and a nice breeze.  I’ll take it as a respite from the typical July weather.  This morning I set out for a long run.  I didn’t know how far I was going to go, I just knew I was going to go.  I slept in without an alarm (SO Rare for me any more) and got out there at about 6:45.  I started on a trail that the girls (Jackie and Kaitlin run together) went on yesterday.  Then I crossed Evergreen Mills road and went into the newest section of Willowsford.  I found an absolutely amazing trail system back there.  It gave me a great feel for my 15K that’s coming up in a few weeks.  Because of the rain I got to run in a ton of mud, forded some creeks, saw some deer, but sadly not the bear that has been sighted here lately.  Just short of 11 miles later I ended up back home.  I was either consistent with pace or had negative splits almost the whole way.  It seriously made my day in terms of just relaxing and getting moving. I did particularly love the caked on mud at the end.

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My secret lately for enjoying my runs is the Rich Roll podcast.  If you haven’t heard of Rich before, he’s an ultra athlete that’s plant based.  His book Finding Ultra is one of the better books I’ve read in the last year.  I love that he’s open to hearing about most anything, he just looks for the movers and the shakers of the world.  Whether it’s about how we treat each other, how we can be more compassionate, or looking more at the plant based life, it’s really engaging and makes me feel like I know more after I’m done.  I’d highly suggest checking it out.

After the great morning we headed out to Maryland to hit up Roots Market and grab lunch at Great Sage Vegan Restaurant.  Check out this Jackfruit BBQ sandwich. It was amazing. I haven’t really cared for jackfruit, but this changed my mind. Finally one that wasn’t overly sweet.

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What a fantastic morning.  You want to know my favorite part of all that?  We didn’t play the radio once, Jackie and I had a lot of great conversations about life.  It’s awesome getting to spend time with your best friend.  So now I’m in a better place and feel much more relaxed than I have in awhile.  I’m curious if you want to leave a comment as to what you do to relax?

Side note of what’s been going on in the past two weeks other than work… We did hit up Green Fare organic restaurant for lunch last Friday, that was a really great meal as well.  We managed to FaceTime nearly all our family last weekend, which was nice.  It was especially great to watch Amalia running around.  I can’t wait to see that little chubber again.  Jackie had bible study on Wednesday’s per usual.  Church has been great, good messages and it’s great to serve.  We hit up Trivia at Blend Coffee Shop, where I also had my weekly Men’s group.  Tried to find some time to play some games, grab some coffee/tea and just keep living life.  I did finish Proteinaholic, which was fantastic, definitely check that out.  Oh and obviously, we’ve spent plenty of time walking Olive and making sure she has a great time.

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I think it’s about time to start thinking of some recipes to get up here again.  Or at least a product test Tuesday or something.  But for now, I’ve rambled enough.  Thanks for reading!

Coffee? Or Tea?

I got an extremely wild hair to clean last week. Okay, let me rephrase that – that makes it seem like I never clean my house, haha! No, I mean REALLY clean. As in, move things around and scrub everything down. A really deep clean. I get these hankerings every few months and last week one hit me. It was a nice day, the sun was shining and I had no meetings or anything on the agenda for the day.

One big change? I gave up the microwave. I’m not necessarily doing it to be all health-conscious, but that is an added bonus. The main reason I gave it up was for space! We have an eat-in kitchen and so space is limited and in high demand! I’ve always wanted a coffee/tea bar. I drink coffee, and Nick drinks tea. We’re a match made in heaven! We already had the space for the coffee maker, but I wanted a place more prominent and available for Nick and his tea. The man is a true tea connoisseur!

Here’s what I came up with:

Coffee & tea bar

A space just for tea:

Tea bar

And one just for coffee:

Coffee bar

We love to collect Starbucks coffee mugs. Those are just a sampling – we’ve got quite the collection in our cupboard as well!

I love it. Now when I walk into the kitchen I just feel all happy and giddy. Like I have my own little Starbucks available to me at any time. How great is that?!

Coffee & tea bar

The dresser was given to me by my parents when they were moving and cleaning some things out of their house. The drawers are useful for storing lots of things. The top drawers holds additional reusable mugs and cups that we take when we want to head to Starbucks. The second holds the extra K-cups. I also have my party cups, plates and napkins in there. And finally, the third drawer. It’s a great place for all of our cutting boards! They lie flat, so it’s he perfect spot. We’ve also got the extra plates for our Griddler as well as Nick’s pizza peel. I love it when something so simple as a dresser can be upcycled into something for my kitchen!

As far as the microwave goes, we’ve had to make a few adjustments. It’s crazy how much we relied on that thing! It’s really just all about convenience. For example, we’d normally steam veggies if we were having them as a side for dinner. (fast and easy) But since the microwave was gone, Nick stir-fried the broccoli and it was much more delicious! I had some leftovers to reheat for lunch one day, so I reheated them in the oven instead. Tasty. And I needed some melted butter for my waffles on Saturday morning. I just put it in a small saucepan and it was melted and ready when I needed it! I’ve realized it takes a little planning, and perhaps a bit more time, but the end result tastes better. I didn’t get rid of it completely yet, but we’ll see what the future holds. Do you think you could give up your microwave? Or have you already?

I’m loving my new and improved kitchen! Happy and healthy!

Vegan in the Cities: Day Three

Well, we finally made it. The last day of our most recent trip to the Twin Cities. Unfortunately, this day was our least exciting foodie day, but it’s worth mentioning. (You can find day one here, and day two here)

Remember how I said that breakfast was Nick’s favorite to eat out? You’d have thought we would have gone out to breakfast on Saturday, but apparently we dropped the ball and neither of us remembers what we did. I’m thinking granola bars or (vegan) muffins from Whole Foods or something. Not so exciting. But sometimes necessary on the wallet. 🙂

We did however, stop for coffee. We decided to hit up People’s Organic. We have eaten there in the past and thought everything was great, and we always love when things are organic, so we knew this was going to be a winner.

Morning Pick-me-up

The one on the left was mine. It was a Hemp Milk Coconut Mocha. Nick went a little more traditional and ordered an Earl Grey tea. I had never had hemp milk before, and I was a little nervous, but I figured I’d be adventurous and thought, “I’ll give it a whirl.” (bonus points for recognizing the quote!) It was delicious! Super creamy, coco-nutty and not too sweet. The hemp certainly give it a taste that I had never had before, but it is something I’d definitely order again. Nick said his tea was tasty. He’s a tea man, and he really did like this one.

We missed a few stores in the Mall of America, so we decided to stop by on our way out of town. Plus, I needed to grab a few gluten free cupcakes for Lil Sis for loving on little buddy while we were gone! (read: I needed another vegan cupcake) It got to be lunchtime, and to be honest, there aren’t really a lot of great (chain/franchise) options for vegans and the MOA. We finally settled on Stir Crazy. It’s an Asian Grill which we thought would be like HuHot or Genghis Grill. We LOVE HuHot, so we great hopes for Stir Crazy.

Stir Crazy creations

You can do a Mongolian grill type of dish (instead of a large grill, they have a bunch of woks) or order from a menu. Nothing on the menu really appealed to us, or was really a great vegan option. I liked the variety of veggies, and the option of tofu as protein. However, we were pretty underwhelmed. It didn’t help that our server was AWFUL, but as far as the whole meal went, it was pretty ho-hum. We’d go again in a pinch, but we’d never seek it out again. It’s definitely NO HuHot.

We had so much fun eating our way through the Twin Cities! We hope you enjoyed hearing about all of our tasty finds. We’re headed to Chicago soon, and can’t WAIT to eat our way around the Windy City!