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!

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A beautiful day to get outside!

Hey y’all.

Thanks for the wonderful response to the post the other day. Knowing that people are reading and care, certainly does make a person happy to put their thoughts out there. I’ve got a recipe coming up here one of these days, but for now, I figured we’d just keep sharing life.

We’ve got a good old four day weekend going. I needed the break and so far it’s been really nice and relaxing. The day started off with a nice fun run with Jackie and Kaitlin. I had a great time with Mike and Eddy for our church Executive Leadership Team (ELT) meeting. And then the bulk of our day was spent with our friend Connor who just got back from Peru. He was part of a team of 13 that went with Leadership Excursions/Endurance Leadership. We were very excited to get to hear all about how God was working down there. Both on the team that went as well as with the orphanage there.

We made some sandwiches featuring Herbivorous Butcher “meats”. Oh my delicious. Jackie’s favorite is the “turkey” slices, I personally like the “pastrami” the best. Whatever way you slice it, it’s all good. Connor was a fan, which is always a plus, when your omnivorous friend, digs the food.

We had planned to drive to Maryland to check out the Red Shedman Farm Brewery.  We’ve picked up some of their raspberry cider in the past and it’s super good.  We thought it would be fun to put the dog in the car and head out there to hang out and try some beverages while playing some games and catching up.  It was perfect for all of that. First off the Farm has beer, cider and wine.  We didn’t check out the wine today but we sampled everything else.  Its set in such a beautiful location, there are rolling hills and trees everywhere.  You’ve got the vines for the winery surrounding all the sides of a nice little grove with picnic tables set up.  (In retrospect, I really should have taken some pictures of the property… gotta get back in the habit.)

We tried a flight.  I personally thought the best beer was the Lunatic Fringe.  A Belgian IPA that was infused with habanero.  Jackie was a fan of the Raspberry Cider, and Connor’s favorite was the Farmers Daughter, a wheat beer.
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Here’s Connor and I just enjoying a moment there on the picnic table.  The beard is so much bigger isn’t it!
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Connor fell asleep with Olive in the car on the way back.  But he woke up in time to show us a rocking backflip off a tree.  After we got a good video we wanted to try to do a boomerang video…Well it didn’t work quite as well, but it’s super funny to watch.  🙂

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The real highlight though was hearing the stories, and challenging each other on what’s going on in our lives.  Connor asked the question as to what our greatest fear is.  I’ll tell you what, it takes a good friendship to get vulnerable and really share that.  It’s been a blessing to have him here as an intern and getting to know him.  Between him and Bethany we’re going to be really sad when this season of life is over and we have to go to remote relationships.

We’re going to end off the night by going to see Despicable Me 3.  I’m excited, Jacks is super excited.  It should be a whole lot of fun.  We’re going to sneak in some Earth Balance White Cheddar Popcorn.  😉

Christmas Break

So I realize I’m a little late in posting this, but whatever. Life happens, blizzards happen. You just never know. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to share a few highlights of our Christmas break with you! Nick was able to take the week of Christmas off as my best friend and her family were coming to stay for the week. That meant that Nick had two and a half weeks off! It was awesome. Definitely no complaints from me!

The week before Christmas we were given a really great opportunity to do a tour of the White House with Nick’s alumni association. We had to be into the city about 8:30, but we hopped on the metro, and got there with time to spare. I didn’t really know what to expect, but you get to see some pretty cool things! It was definitely an experience I’ll remember.

These snowmen were out on the lawn How fun are they?!
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Lincoln! I loved this portrait.
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How many times will you get the opportunity to get your photo taken under the REAL presidential seal??
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Our framily (friends that are family) arrived on Sunday afternoon, just in time to relax a bit before heading to church (I love 5:00 service!) The kids had never been to DC, so we headed out on Monday to see ALL THE THINGS. We walked almost 12 miles that day! Needless to say, by the end of the day, we were beat! The weather was great, so we were able to get some great shots at the city’s most iconic spots.

This was taken outside the Lincoln Memorial.
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I had purchased tickets for us ahead of time to go up into the Washington Monument. You can save yourself a couple dollars a person, and wait in line first thing in the morning on the day you want to go, but we didn’t want the hassle of getting 7 people ready, and making it into the city on time to do that. So I sucked it up and paid for the tickets. No biggie. It was actually pretty cool! You take an elevator up to the observatory, and then on the way down, you can see some really intricate stones that were gifted from various states in the U.S.

Here was a great view of the Jefferson Memorial:
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And the back of the White House:
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We were also able to see the National Christmas Tree at night. It was so beautiful!
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After Christmas breakfast, gifts, and some full-on lounging about, we all piled in the car to head to Harpers Ferry for a Christmas hike. It was foggy and overcast, but we were able to enjoy a nice, easy hike before the rain hit.
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We had such a fun time with friends, and it was so sad to see them leave. But we definitely made loads of memories together. We also had a family poker tournament on Christmas night, and we all lost to the 17 year old. He was really motivated to win the $20!

What fun things did you do for Christmas?

Day Twenty-Three

Good morning! Yesterday was a great day! It was fun to have friends here – even if they had to leave right after lunch. *sad face* We made both J & M smoothies for breakfast (the same ones we were having) and they were both sold! They stopped at the store on their way home for smoothie stuff so they could make some of them at home! Love it. After dinner Nick and I ran to the new Whole Foods Market that opened up here in town. We had used up a bit with more people in the house and just needed to replenish a few things. Then we came home to prep the salad for day 24. There were a lot of steps, so it was teamwork all the way.

Breakfast: (1 serving = 1 quart)
Mango Madness Green Smoothie
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This one is pretty similar to the spotted smoothie we made a couple of weeks ago. I used flax in my smoothie, and M requested chia in hers. Mangos have an interesting flavor to them – a little woody? – but the sweetness from the banana balanced it out. This one went down very easily and was a hit for all!

Salad:
Curried Brown Rice Salad
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This one definitely tastes like curry, so it’s a little on the sweet side for me. However, the veggies give it great crunch to go along with the soft, brown rice. This would be great for a party or a church potluck. We ate the salad cold from the fridge, but it would also be great served at room temperature.

Soup:
Cheesiest Potato Soup
*ack! I forgot a picture of this, too! I blame being a great hostess! 😉 *
YUM! I love this soup. M had a bowl, too, and she thought it was awesome. Success! I love it when non-vegans love vegan food. There are big chunks of creamy potato, slightly crisp carrots, and a cheesy broth with loads of parsley. Mmmmm. I can’t wait to eat this one again. I left it chunky for texture, but you could easily puree the whole thing to make it smooth. She also says you can swap out the potatoes for broccoli to make a cheesy broccoli soup.

Main:
Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Lasagna
Abundance diet day 23
Hmmmm. This wasn’t really our favorite. The flavors were good, but the eggplant was such a strong, awkward texture. Also, living in a townhouse doesn’t lend itself to having an outdoor grill, so it took me FOREVER to grill up all the veggies on the stove! Grilling definitely gave the veggies a nice flavor, and the grilled red onion was my favorite. Nick and I liked the overall flavor of the dish, but the eggplant was definitely the downfall. We’re already thinking of ways that we could use the general idea to make it again, but just with different veggies. We did, however, love the sauce that we found at Whole Foods. The recipe calls for an oil free (or low oil) marinara sauce. Whole Foods offers a fat free, organic sauce that’s really delicious! I highly suggest it.

Thoughts on today: dinner took FOREVER, but lasagna IS a labor intensive dish. It was really fun to have friends here who enjoyed our food, and took a few recipes home to try. Nick and I were talking about how we’d have to make our own menu next week. Say what?! It’s definitely been a treat not having to think about what to make.

Have an awesome day!