Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's not fall until you carve a pumpkin.

Welp, that's the easiest pumpkin I've ever carved. And probably the latest I've ever waited to carve before Halloween. I currently have no costume ideas or really any idea of our Halloween plans. After this week, I'd be more than happy to relax at home.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Brightening up long days.

Usually after a really good week back to school, I'm tortured with long, exhausting days/weeks. I shouldn't complain too much since I'm so lucky to be on this school schedule coming off of a two week fall break.

What do I do to brighten up these long days?

Relish receiving packages I've been waiting on for what seems like forever (+ my Europe photo book I finally finished).

Oh and obsessively stalking the AT&T website to see if my iPhone 4S has shipped.

And planning our potential west coast spring break trip (+ a beer in hand).

Or hang out with awesome friends doing awesome stuff like going to the fair (for the record, that happened last week).

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Free Spirit.

October 11, 2011 would have been BFW’s 26th birthday.  In true BFW style, we took to having a beer dinner in her honor featuring the beer specially brewed in her honor.  It was an amazingly special night that makes me tear up again just writing about it. 

The dinner took place at Empire State South in Atlanta.  Chef Hugh Acheson closed down the restaurant to the public just to do this special beer dinner.  The restaurant itself held special meaning to BFW & BW (her husband).   

BW made an emotional explanation of the restaurant and the dinner.  This was the one restaurant BFW had requested that they go to together, yet they never had the opportunity after moving back to Atlanta only a month prior.  Empire State South is a gorgeous restaurant.  The staff specially decorated with BFW’s favorite of sunflowers.

Only family and close friends were invited to the dinner.  It was amazing to be able to share such a special time with everyone who meant so much to BFW.  My understanding is that the food courses were a joint effort between Chef Hugh and the W family.  I believe the foods had special meanings behind them.  The food was absolutely amazing.  In true beer dinner fashion, each course was preempted with a toast.  The toasts were written mostly by BW about BFW.  As we toasted to BFW and enjoyed our food, we couldn’t help but imagine BFW being at the dinner…laughing and bouncing around between friends and family.

[Our favorite dish: Fried green tomatoes, pickled shrimp + mustard cream.  Amazing]

The special dinner of the evening was Free Spirit.  This beer was a joint effort between Terrapin Beer Company and Heavy Seas (which BFW’s brother works for).  Of course, BW collaborated and helped pick the ingredients for the beer.

The beer was bottled the Monday before.  Friends and family were invited to help label and wax-dip the bottles.  It was definitely another fun experience, and the bottles turned out amazingly!

The label itself was designed by BFW’s company she worked for.  The tree in the background is a Willow, which signifies BW & BFW’s baby/dog.  BFW adored Willow.  The fox signifies BFW and has special meaning related to her name (I just wanted to keep her full name off here for the sake of privacy).  After moving to Atlanta, BW & BFW purchased quite a few bikes for their new house.  The idea was to have enough bikes for anyone staying over to be able to bike to the downtown area near their house.  Many of the last pictures taken of BFW were on bikes.  Her favorite bike was the “Free Spirit,” which is also such a perfect way to describe BFW herself.  And therein you have the BFW fox on her bike on the label.  The last addition was the sunflowers.  The words on the label are so fitting and perfect.  They bold some words that were characteristic and/or passions of BFW.  Every dinner attendee was given a bottle of Free Spirit to take home after the dinner.  

I can not think of a more fitting way to celebrate what would have been BFW’s 26th.  Some of her friends laughed that really she would have hated having such a big “party” with all of the attention, but she loved beer dinners.  I know she would have loved this one.  Getting dressed up, socializing with the people who mean the most to you, drinking delicious beers, and eating delectable foods…I only hope that we can celebrate BFW every year in such a fashion.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Do I...

Switch my 12 mile run to an 8 miler this Sunday? I'm still dealing with a sickness (cold? Increased from stuffy nose to the addition of a cough) from last Thursday. The half is on November 13. Is it a bad idea to do 12 next weekend so close to the half? I'm just worried about braving 12 miles and being sick. I'm hoping to feel better by next week...

In other news, I have zero clue how to recover without dishing out a copay+prescription fees. I've tried Emergen-c, Theraflu, etc.


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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Deep thoughts stemming from the Rachel Zoe Project.

Today amidst watching one of my students on the playground today, my mind started wandering.  Rachel Zoe had mentioned on one of her recent episodes how she is passionate about all the work she does.  Now defines passionate as: having, compelled by, or ruled by intense emotion or strong feeling; fervid: AND expressing, showing, or marked by intense or strong feeling; emotional: passionate languageRachel really got me wondering, “What am I passionate about?”

I really had to think hard about this question.  I’m honestly not passionate about my job.  I love working with and teaching children, but I really don’t have those passionate feelings about it.  I’ve really grown to love running, but I still don’t feel passionate about it.  The craft beer world is a big part of my life due to D and our circle of friends associated with that world, but I’m not passionate about it.  Then it came to me, the one thing (aside from D of course) I am really passionate about is traveling.  I probably love travel more than any thing/activity in the world.  I constantly think about where I want to visit, the places and cultures I want to see.  I could talk about my international trips for hours on end.  I am definitely passionate about travel.

As my mind continues to wander, I mulled over how I can weave my travel passion into an every day or more regular occurrence.  As I said, I do love teaching but it’s not my true passion.  It’s more of a means to an end that I at least enjoy.  The end being the money.  The money to travel.  Let’s be honest…at this point, the salary doesn’t quite get me to the end.  I barely make enough money to enjoy one good vacation per year.  Another honest statement: My desire for travel (and traveling with mostly ease) is a primary reason I could care less about having kids.  So I need a job that allows pays me to travel.  Yeah…not much happening there.  Flight attendant?  Nope, I hate customer service.  Travel writer?  How the hell do you find a coveted job like that with no formal journalistic schooling/experience?  International teacher?  Maybe if I didn’t have a wonderful husband who loves his job, family of pets, and a house.  I’m at a loss. 

It’s actually a bit depressing that I don’t get to partake in and fully enjoy my passion.  For the past 6 years I’ve been in school of some sort in order to make a career (4 years undergrad, 1 year grad, + 1 year part-time to clear my teaching license).  Needless to say, I’ve racked up quite a student loan debt.  A large portion of my after-tax salary (why do they even look at pre-tax dollars?!  It means nothing since I never get to see that money) is chewed up by paying for these loans instead of pursuing my passion.  So what’s a girl to do?  Continue with my means to an end for 20+ years hoping that one day my salary will increase (there are 5th and 6th year teachers in NC still working on a 1st year teacher salary) and pay off the student debt?  Do I suck it up and enjoy the fact that I am still in the “middle class” and have the ability to spend my money traveling my one trip per year?  Or do I follow my possibly unrealistic dreams of finding a job that allows me to travel regularly?

(PS. Let me clarify, [mainly because I am really self-conscious that D thinks I will never be happy in a job/with what I’m doing] I do still really enjoy my current teaching job.  I love the school I’m at…the teachers, the schedule, and elementary level.  I appreciate my much smaller case and work load.  I feel appreciated.  I enjoy the students and challenges they often bring.  Do I still hate getting up early and counting down the days until Friday?  Yes.   Do I still wonder if there may be a “better fit” of students for me?  Maybe.  Do I get jealous when I leave the house at 7am and D and the pups are still sleeping?  Hell yes.  But I promise, I really, really enjoy this job.  I just wish it better funded my passion.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Was it corny and mazey?

While in Athens, I got to spend a lot of time with my sisters.  It was definitely one of my priorities.  My grandma is so sweet and offered to take us all to a corn maze one night.  I think it was really fun for them.  I mean who doesn't love a corn maze/fall festival.  For $10 each, the girls were allowed to participate in all crazy activities.  This included a bouncy castle, a farm slide, the corn maze, a petting zoo, hay rides, and "hillbilly golf."

My grandma and I took up this opportunity to hang out and chat while M & MG played.  First we hit up the bouncy castle.  I was surprised it didn't last longer.  Then we headed over to the "farm slide."

Yeah, that's right.  It was a huge pipe that they slid down on potato sacks.  It's really the little things...they loved it.  After they got bored of that, we headed over to hay ride it to the corn maze.

[A very poor view of the corn maze]

 [M & MG hay riding along to the maze]

 [And off they go]

My grandma and I let the girls go in alone (there were workers supervising to ensure they didn't get lost), but I'm actually bummed I didn't do the maze with them.  M loved it, but I think MG got a bit lost inside which may have freaked her out a bit.  Grandma and I rode the hay ride around to pick the girls up.  Then we ventured over to the amazingly exciting somewhat lackluster petting zoo.

Those crazy animals just wanted to eat.  What you see is about all there were there too.  MG didn't really get too into that.  Oh we also watched a pig race, which mainly made me worry about how those little piggies are treated.  We rounded out the evening with what was dubbed Hillbilly Golf.

And you ask, "What the hell is hillbilly golf?!"  There you go...lanes set by pipes, putters are brooms, balls are plastic, and holes are buckets, toilet seats, etc.  It was interesting. 

Afterwards, we headed back to my grandma's for a delicious homemade meal.  Now that I live farther away from my sisters, I take advantage of every bit of extra time I can spend with them. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

iPhone snippets.

Since it's a bitch to get photos from my iPhone to my computer, I just needed to give you a quick post with some snippets of my Athens/fall break trip. It was so nice to be around family and friends. I'll be back next week to post about some really fun, memorable events that went down.

Sweet pups on the road trip to Athens.

Road trip fuel - first pumpkin spiced latte of the season (and maybe last because it's a little too sweet for me)

Breaking out the booties for a vent/friend session at the brewery. I really want neon laces.

Puppy-kitten stare-down over food.

Treating my sisters to McDonald's and a little playscape time.

I spent a lot of time with my dad and sisters doing puzzles.

Screened porches are one of my favorite things ever.

Bottling, labeling, and wax dipping the beer brewed in loving memory of our friend, BFW. Amazing story on the beer and label (as well as the beer dinner in her honor on her birthday) that I can't wait to tell later.

It was a wonderful trip, but I am so happy to be home back in Raleigh relaxing (and trying to get over a cold). We'll be catching up on Dexter season 5 as well!

-BlogPress post

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Another brief hiatus.

D and I are headed back to Georgia for a bit today. I know I excited you with TWO posts this week, but I probably won't post again for a week or so. I didn't bring my computer because I'm lazy (and can't afford for it to get messed up in tow since I have no legit laptop case). As usual, I'll be around on twitter and instagram. Hopefully I'll have lots of fun things to (eventually) blog about when I return!

-BlogPress post

Monday, October 3, 2011

In the future, I'll try to manage these running posts.

You guys!  I'm on FALL BREAK for two weeks.  It is the most amazing feeling.  Knock on wood that my county will never change this schedule/I stay at this school for a while!  Anyhow, I'm about to bore excite you with more running talk.  If you're not interested, I'm guest posting today over at the fabulous blog of Olivia.  Go give her some love :)

This weekend I got up around 6:10 with D to head over to the Carrboro 10k.  We headed off to pick up KayD and J who agreed to come and cheer me on.  I am so grateful for the three of them coming to support me.  I know it takes a LOT to get up that early on the weekend (not to mention the fact KayD and J didn't get home until early Saturday morning after bartending).  Before I left, I did fuel up with some delicious peanut butter toast.

We drove over to Chapel Hill/Carrboro, NC.  It was a pretty chilly morning.  I was freezing before the start and nervous about how that would affect my game.  I was super nervous on Friday, but for whatever reason my nerves weren't hitting me as badly on Saturday.  Soon it was time to prepare for the start!

No, you can not see me here.  I'm way in the back, but this was the only picture D captured of the race.  It was a relatively small race.  I had mentally set a goal of running the 10k in 1:15, but seeing as last weekend my splits were averaging 12:30+, I wasn't completely confident.  When focusing on my running, I had no time to snap pics along the route, but here is a breakdown of my splits.

Seriously?  I was shocked when I looked down at the Garmin and saw 11-something when I passed the mile 1 marker!  I'm super proud of my splits!  The course was very mildly hilly, and I had no problems on the hills.  D, KayD, and J awesomely met me right after mile 4 passing me a Gu and my inhaler (which I didn't need).  I really loved seeing the car waiting in traffic and having KayD jump out to pass me the goods.  People should never underestimate the power of having support at a race!  I pushed it the last mile knowing how close I was and how much energy I had left!  I wish D would have snapped a picture of my crossing the finish (I couldn't find myself in the race pics...bummer).  According the the official race results my time was 1:10:26.  My first 10k PR!  And five minutes better than I thought I couldn't do!  I felt so proud and awesome after the race!

The aftermath:  Some crazy blisters on my toes.  I felt some blisters after mile 1 but didn't let them hold me back.  Turns out, one bandaged toes caused a nasty bleeding blister on another toe.  We enjoyed a delicious breakfast in Carrboro and a glorious three-hour nap after returning home.  Yesterday, I was still on a high from my race.  For now, my feet are better, I'm relaxing and enjoying my fall break!

Ps. Head over to Meghan's blog and read her first recap from her first half marathon!  She and I have sort of been training together (and she was part of my motivation to train for a half).  I am so, so proud of her!  Go over and give her some props!


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