Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Inspired by The Home. T

A few months back a friend of mine posted a picture of herself with a Kentucky Home. T on facebook.  I knew immediately that I must buy one for myself.  I reached out to her to find out where she might have found such an awesome shirt and she referred me to thehomet.com which you should all go check out!!  After browsing around the website, I decided this would make a perfect gift for our anniversary.  So, I bought one for me and one for Christopher!  They are super comfy and the customer service is absolutely amazing!

Aren't these perfect?  I love them!!

That's not all though.  After purchasing the shirts, I noticed that part of the profits are donated to multiple sclerosis research.  

I was intrigued. So...I did a little research.  And this is what I found according to the National MS Society website.

What is multiple sclerosis?

  It is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another. Today, new treatments and advances in research are giving new hope to people affected by the disease.

Who is affected?

MS is thought to affect more than 2.1 million people worldwide. While the disease is not contagious or directly inherited, epidemiologists—the scientists who study patterns of disease—have identified factors in the distribution of MS around the world that may eventually help determine what causes the disease. Anyone may develop MS but there are some patterns. More than twice as many women as men have MS. Studies suggest that genetic factors make certain individuals more susceptible than others, but there is no evidence that MS is directly inherited. MS occurs in most ethnic groups, including African-Americans, Asians and Hispanics/Latinos, but is more common in Caucasians of northern European ancestry. 

Can MS be cured?

Not yet. There are now FDA-approved medications that have been shown to "modify" or slow down the underlying course of MS. In addition, many therapeutic and technological advances are helping people manage symptoms. Advances in treating and understanding MS are made every year, and progress in research to find a cure is very encouraging.

To say the least, I was inspired by my Home. T purchase.  
I decided to choose MS as my April charity by making an additional contribution to help those scientist find a cure.

I had planned to donate directly to the MS Society, but as fate would have it I saw a facebook posting asking for donations for a friend's upcoming BP MS 150 ride to raise funds and awareness of MS.  It was fate alone that I saw this posting as I haven't spoken to this friend (who I studied in London with back in my grad school days) in years.  Seriously, over 5 years since I had seen or spoken to the guy!  I quickly messaged him letting him know I would happily donate to his cause and a brief background of how I had been looking for an opportunity to donate to MS research this month.  Amazing how things like that work out, huh?  Anyway, he was pumped and as it turns out my company matches the donation so even more dollars headed off to help the cause!

What are you doing to help bring awareness to causes that are important to you?

Andrea :)

Monday, April 29, 2013

NFL Draft + Brooklyn Fun + Mike Tyson

This weekend, I had an amazing time with Christopher!  We had lots going on...some of which I intend to recap in further detail over the next few days...so I will just give you a teaser of all the fun today!

On Friday, Chris and I went to the NFL Draft!  I volunteered to work for the first round on Thursday night.  It is always SO fun to see all the fans amped up for their team.  By far, my favorite event we do all year!  On Thursday, I had a great time catching up with a co-worker I don't see often while we passed out fan bags, but I was especially excited to get to spend Draft Day Two on Friday night hanging out with Christopher and being able to experience it for fun instead as an NFL employee!

Who Dey! - NFL Alumni to announce 2nd Round selections - Newest Jet, Geno Smith - Commissioner

Steve Gleason has ALS just like OJ Brigance.  Breaks my heart, but so uplifting to see them bringing awareness.

After a few hours at the Draft, we headed over to our favorite steakhouse for one of the most delicious dinners I have had in a very long time!  Thank you, Club A!

On Saturday, we headed over to the Brooklyn Brewery for an interesting experience and tour.  We totally weren't prepared for the 15 minute wait to even get inside the brewery.  After that wait, we got a couple tokens and then stood in line for another 15 minutes to try out the brews.  We were shooting for the 3pm tour, but with all the waiting in line we were doing we were lucky to make it for the 4pm tour.  Turns out it was a little more like a talk about the history of the brewery than a tour, but it was quite a unique story.  We enjoyed the experience though we agreed it was probably not a place we would be returning any time soon.  

That night, we went out to dinner with Chris' family to celebrate his birthday, his sister's birthday, and his parent's anniversary.  I had a delicious meal and even tried something new - bacon covered shrimp!

On Sunday morning, I ran my first race of the season in Central Park.  I did much better than I expected which was exciting!  I'll have a full Run As One recap for you later this week.  After the race, we headed back over to Brooklyn to check out Smorgasburg.  We had a blast trying out some fun foods.  We both really enjoyed the experience!  I'll be providing a more detailed account of this experience in the near future as well, but here are my instagram pics for now.  We will definitely be trying this out again!

Follow me on instragram - @alhadventures

We had a chance to relax for a couple of hours in the afternoon before we trekked uptown for a fun dinner at Shake Shack followed by watching Mike Tyson take the stage in his Undisputed Truth tour at the Beacon Theater.  The show was awesome!  I knew a few details here and there about The Champ, but this was an in depth look from none other than the man himself.  Very cool.  I would recommend checking it out if you even have a remote interested whatsoever because it definitely blew me out of the water!  Tyson does a great job on stage, but he definitely owes one to Spike Lee who directed the show.  Go check it out!

As you can see, we stayed super busy all weekend!!  

What were you up to this weekend?

Andrea :)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Turkey Trot

On the brink of my first official race of 2013 this Sunday, I thought I would recap one of my most meaningful races. 

In 2010, I decided to run a Turkey Trot.  Originally, the plan was to run this Prospect Park race with a few friends.  In the end, other things came up for each of them and I was left all by myself.  I was pretty bummed about it, but I had been training pretty hard for this race and had set my mind on a goal for the race so I moved forward with my plans to run it. 

After weaving my way through the pre-Macy's Day parade craziness in Times Square, I made my way to the subway where I met a true angel from God - Nancy!  She befriended me immediately upon seeing me all decked out for the race, but alone.  She offered for me to join her small group at the start of the race.  I met that group and though they were not a group I would normally have found myself hanging out with pre-race, on that Thanksgiving Day, they were a true life saver.  They embraced me and encouraged me to fight through the cold and run to my goal time.

My goal was to run the 5 mile race in under an hour.  I knew I was making good time at the beginning of the race, but toward the end I began to fade.  Fortunately, part of my new support group just so happened to be right there along that final mile to cheer me on to meet my goal.  I was so proud!  I finished with a time of 58:12 (just under my goal time!).  I could not have possibly been any happier!

The race was a real turning point for me.  It was the first race that I ran where I had no friends or family members there to cheer me on to the finish.  I learned a lot about the general running community...and myself.  I was so happy they gave us medals for this race because it serves as a physical reminder of God's provision for me.  He provided friends when I really truly needed them.  He provided me the ability to accomplish a goal I set for myself.  He gave me so much to be thankful for on that wonderful Thanksgiving Day!

Andrea :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Stepping into Spring Swap!


Who doesn't love flip flops and nail polish?  I know I love both!!  This swap was such a great idea!  Thanks to Allie, Ricci, Brin, and Jenn for putting it together!

Let me just say that I got an awesome partner - Laura!
You can find her blog here.  

She totally hooked me up with some awesome nail polish colors, fun flip flops, and some extra goodies!  The lotion/body wash smells amazing!!  I really like the two spring color nail polishes and you can never go wrong throwing in a bottle of Essie!  Laura sent me Essie's Meet Me At Sunset - love it!  She also must have been reading my mind about needing a fingernail file to keep at work.  I always seem to need one there and can't find one!  I was so excited about all of the fun stuff that arrived in my package!!

Now, head over to Laura's blog to see what I sent her!

PS - Happy NFL Draft Day!!  You know where I'll be tonight!!

Andrea :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

30 before 30 - Month Nine Recap

write letter to family or friend

This month I sent a letter to my BIG, Hayley.  It is hard to believe we have known one another for over 10 years now!  Crazy!  I joined Phi Mu in the spring of my freshman year at Georgetown College.  It wasn't too long after that when Hayley was revealed as my BIG!  I was so happy!!  Even though we don't see one another too often since I am in NY and she is back home in KY, she is one of my favorite people.  Always so uplifting and cheerful!  The last time I saw her (just before Christmas this past year) she was expecting the arrival of her precious little baby boy in just a few short weeks.  I haven't been able to meet him yet, but hopefully I will be able to do so next time I am home!

3 monthly goals

1) Write down my goals and develop my training plan for conquering the NYC Marathon.
This sort of happened.  I haven't written out or determined my entire plan just yet, but this goal really forced me to think about it.  I am going to begin diligently tracking my exercise and eating habits starting on May 1 (roughly 6 months prior to the race).  I also signed up for a 4 mile race that takes place this Sunday and a half marathon the first weekend in August.  My plan is to train toward being in peak condition for the half and then maintaining that condition and building off that momentum through the following three months leading up to the marathon.  More firm details/plans to come!

2) Start our couple's study.
We started The Five Love Languages study last weekend.  I am really looking forward to what we will learn about ourselves and each other.

3) Layout all the pages for the Year 3 scrapbook.
This did not happen.  Though I did print out all the pictures I need for the project.  I'll try to get to this in the next few weeks.

facetimes with Brinley

Chris and I were both able to facetime with Brinley on her 11 month birthday.  It was a lot of fun to be a part of the celebration.  We got to sing to her and watch her demolish a muffin "cupcake".  She seems like she is all set for the real thing next month!

Brinley is sporting a cute little dress I sent her.  Love her so much!!

Brinley and I had a really fun and interactive facetime on April 9th.  She was all smiles and giggles.  She was showing me how she "scared" people.  Basically just raising her arms up and squealing, but so very precious!  Jordan also showed me how she could perform in a wheelbarrow race.  She'd definitely beat me!  She was having a blast playing with her toys and then running over to check me out.  We played peek-a-boo for a little while.  She also loved it went I made funny faces. She is getting to be such a big girl.  I absolutely can't hardly wait until next week when I get to see her in person again...FINALLY!!

Date Night

Chris and I were actually able to spend a lot of time together this month.  We had a date night in where I tried a new recipe and we caught up on some of our DVRed shows.  The next week we had a date night out on the town when we went to see Lucky Guy on broadway.  If you missed that recap, you can check it out here.  And finally, we celebrated our anniversary by spending some quality time together this past weekend...which you can read about here.

Girls' Night

I missed the real girls night this month due to a work trip.  Boo :(  I did have a fun time with the girls at Amanda's birthday celebration a couple weekends ago though.  We are all set for a girls night next week though so I know I won't be missing out this next month!  Yay!

I (sorta) marked 1 item off the list!!
 19 - give Brinley a unique 1st birthday gift
*I haven't technically given it to her yet, but I will be doing so next week!  So excited!*

 Andrea :)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Edinburgh, Scotland

First and foremost, I want to wish my mom a happy birthday!!  Hope you had a great day!

Banana cupcake from Sprinkles to celebrate...YUM!

Now, back to my travels...as you know from reading this post, my friend, Mary, and I spent Labor Day Weekend 2009 exploring Dublin and Edinburgh. We covered Dublin first so I left off just as we arrived to Edinburgh...

We arrived to Edinburgh in the evening.  We were pretty tired from a long day touring the Irish countryside so we quickly found our hostel - the Royal Mile Backpackers - and crashed for the night.

Early the next morning, we were off on a heart of Scotland tour.  We saw so much gorgeous scenery!  We stopped for lunch at a beach, saw a field full of hamish, viewed the William Wallace monument from afar, roamed around the pitlochery dam, and even took a brief nature hike.  So much variety and beauty!!

We also stopped midday for some fun at Loch Ness.  Mary and I paid a little extra to go out on a boat cruise.  We befriended the captain and heard lots of fun stories about Nessie sightings!

That evening we went on a ghost tour around Edinburgh.  It was impromptu, but very fun!  Toward the end, we were even able to catch some of the fireworks from a nearby celebration/festival. 

The next day we toured the Royal Mile.  We hit the highlights, but also stopped in so many little shops along the way.  I even bought a bengal striped bracelet that I still wear to cheer on my Bengals during football season.  We had a lot of fun just roaming around the area all day!

We spent a fair amount of time at Edinburgh Castle.  There was SO much to see there!  We also managed to take a look around Deacon Brodie's Pub, St. Giles Cathedral, and a couple of museums - The People's Story and the Writer's Museum.  Both were unique and interesting though we didn't spend too much time in either one.  We also checked out the Heart of the Midlothian...and I most definitely spit on it for good luck :)

The last place we visited before heading off to the airport was the Holyrood Palace.  We spent a good amount of time here as well, but could have easily spent more time looking around. 

We had a plane to catch though!

We headed back to Dublin that evening to spend the night in the airport before an early morning flight back to NYC!!

It was quite an adventure, but one I will treasure forever!  Such a fun time with a great friend :)

Have you been to Scotland?  What area did you enjoy most?

Linking up with Helene today!

Helene in Between

Andrea :)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sushi X + Paint Your Own Pottery

This weekend, I had a fabulous time in Albany with Christopher!! It was great to celebrate three years of dating with such a relaxing weekend :)

On Friday, I arrived in Albany early enough for a fun dinner at Sushi X.  Chris had talked about this all you can eat sushi place before, but I'd never had the chance to dine there with him.  It was great!!  They bring you order sheets as often as you need them so you don't feel like you need to over order initially.  You can eat plates of small appetizers and a roll for as many rounds as your sushi loving heart desires.  We only managed a couple, but it was delicious.  I especially liked the sweet potato roll!

Sweet Potato Roll is pictured in the middle on the bottom.  Yum!

After dinner, we headed over to celebrate one of our friend's 30th birthday!  His wife made the amazing cupcakes pictured above.  SO tasty!!  It was pouring outside so we stayed there for a couple of hours before we called it a night.

On Saturday, Chris went to watch soccer with some friends while I managed to squeeze in a quick run - it was freezing up there!!  I think I completed roughly 2.5 miles, but it is difficult for me to get a totally accurate count at the park where I run in Albany.  Either way, it was good to get a few miles behind me in preparation for my upcoming 4 miler this weekend!

After I showered and got ready, we headed out for some fun at The Pottery Place.  We decided to paint mugs so that we would be able to make use of them once they are fired and returned to us.  It was fun even though we kept it pretty simple.  I am really looking forward to seeing how they turn out!  The colors will be much darker once they are fired so they will look a bit different when we see them again.

After our fun afternoon of painting, we tested out Albany's Restaurant Week at V&R Italian Restaurant.  It was packed!  The food was great, too!

I had the penne alla vodka.  Delicious!

On Sunday, we met a couple of friends for brunch at Justin's.  We had a great time catching up with both of them.  And let's just say each of us cleaned our plates with no trouble at all!  Chris' banana pancakes were super good!!

We relaxed most of the afternoon, but did get to start one of the couples' studies that I had been wanting to try.  I think we are both interested to see what we can learn from it.  I am excited about it!

Before I left, Chris took me to my favorite - Cracker Barrel!  We both tried something new there, too!  That's huge for me.  I'm a sucker for my good ole standby when I go there.  Sometimes it is  good to branch out though!

What did you do this weekend?

Andrea :)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Weekly Recap!

Today I am linking up with the fabulous Allie, Jenn, and Ricci for Weekly What?


Hopefully, you caught everything, but just in case here's a recap from my week in blogging! You can find all the links to my posts by clicking on the day of the week above each recap!

Today, I linked up with Sar and Syndal to recap my weekend!  I finally got some rest!  Such a blessing with so many weekends of travel the past few weeks!  Also, I bought some new shoes...let me know what you think!

As a result of the tragic events in Boston, I reflected back on how I began my journey as a runner as well as what running has come to mean in my life today.

Today marked our three year dating anniversaryAnd as Christopher stated on twitter, "@alhadventures has put into words the last three years of our lives.  Good read if I do say so myself."

I shared a fun and easy recipe for Pecan Pie Muffins with you!  They are so simple it would be a shame for you not to make a batch this weekend!  Great breakfast treat!

I linked up with Katie to share all about a recent book I read - Semi-Sweet by Roisin Meaney.  This was a great read about the trials and tribulations of a newly opened cupcake shop owner - Hannah!  Check out my review to find out more!

That brings us to SATURDAY!!  And here I am...recapping my week for you lovely folks! 

Hope you all have a great weekend!!

Andrea :)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Book #7 - Semi-Sweet

I recently participated in a book swap that was SO much fun!  I'll be posting about what I received in the swap soon, but today I am reviewing one of the books I sent my partner.  When I picked it out for her, I just couldn't resist reading it before I sent it along. 

In the store, it immediately jumped out at me because of the cupcakes.  You all know I love those tasty treats!  After reading the back cover, I was totally hooked.  It was a pretty quick read and definitely drew me in.  There were a few different story lines and while I enjoyed some more than others, they were all interesting.  I would say that a bit of the book was predictable, but it was still a great read.  I definitely enjoyed it!  And totally loved the main character, Hannah!  I would definitely recommend reading it if you have a chance.  I'll leave you with the synopsis from Goodreads.

Hannah Robinson is just about to open the doors to her new shop Cupcakes on the Corner when out of the blue her boyfriend Patrick announces that he's leaving her for another woman. Faced with starting a business on her own, Hannah begins to wonder if her life-long dream has just turned into a nightmare. So her best friend Adam sets his birthday as a deadline - seven months to make her shop a success, or walk away from it all. And as Hannah immerses herself in her new business, she soon discovers that she's too busy to think about Patrick and his now pregnant girlfriend ...or to notice an increasingly regular customer who has recently developed a sweet tooth for all things cupcake. But while Hannah is slowly piecing her life back together, family friend Alice's is falling apart. Her husband Tom's drinking is getting out of control and things are about to get a whole lot worse. As the seven-month milestone approaches, Hannah must decide her future. And while she's figuring out what's really important, it becomes clear to everyone that happiness in life, and in love, is all in the making.

Hope you all have a great weekend!!

Andrea :)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pecan Pie Muffins

These were such a tasty treat!!  And so simple to make!

I saw the recipe here and decided to give it a shot.  I'm glad that I did because these were the perfect treat for a rare lazy Saturday morning!

Pecan Pie Muffins Recipe
(Makes 3 dozen)

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
2 cups chopped pecans
2/3 cup butter
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease pan.  (I used Pam spray.) 
Mix sugar, flour and pecans in a bowl.
Beat butter and eggs in a separate bowl.
Stir the dry ingredients into the moist ingredients.
Bake for 12 minutes (mini-size pan) or 15 minutes (regular size pan).
Andrea :)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

3 years

It's hard to believe that three years have past since we sat across the table from one another at Brother Jimmy's in Murray Hill.  Since we went to grab Pinkberry even though it wasn't quite warm enough yet. (Proof that from the start Chris has been a trooper when it comes to my sweet tooth!)  Since we sat on the front row of that Kips Bay AMC theater to watch Date Night. 

It really is hard to believe how quickly the time has passed.

Today, Chris and I are celebrating three years together.  Together, but apart.  As most of you know, our entire relationship has been long distance. It hasn't always been easy, but we've made it through the rough times...together.  And those rough times have made the good times even better.  And I'm happy to have found such a patient, kind, and loving man. We'll be celebrating this weekend, but lucky me got a fun treat at work today as well. 

Two for each of our fabulous three years together :)
He knows me well!!  I was pumped!  They are even from a bakery - Billy's Bakery - that I didn't know existed so it's a major win.  I get cupcakes today...and tomorrow...and Friday...you counted six in there, too, right? :) And now I know of yet another nearby bakery when I need a cupcake fix down the road.

Thank you, Christopher, for making me a better person.  For helping me and for challenging me.  For putting up with me in my not so gracious moments and for apologizing when you have those moments of your own.  For encouraging and supporting me.  For loving me for me.  For taking pictures with me even though you hate it.  For making me feel special.  For listening to and remembering the things I tell you.  For so many lovely moments over the past three years.  And most of all, for being you! 

Thanks for making me your top priority these past three years!  I look forward to spending many more with you!  I love you!

Andrea :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Why do I run?

I usually link up with Helene for Travel Tuesdays today...and I had every intention of posting about the Edinburgh leg of my Labor Day weekend adventure with Mary, but I just can't bring myself to write about anything else besides running today. 

Yesterday, I discovered just how much running means to me.  It hasn't always meant much to me.  In fact, back in my middle school Lady Cougar basketball days, I hated conditioning because that meant running.  And that wasn't fun...at all!  Then, I moved on to high school where I joined the track team.  I learned I didn't like running any more than I had in middle school, but I learned a few tricks of the trade and I stuck with it for the camaraderie...and a crush or two I may or may not have had at the time :)  Nonetheless, running still wasn't fun.  A few years down the line, I moved to New York.  I made some great friends.  Those friends ran.  What's a girl to do when all her friends run?  Join in the fun...yes, this time it actually WAS fun! 

My first "real" race was the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5k in Central Park way back in September of 2009.

I signed up for that race because of the encouragement and support of my friends.  These amazing ladies showed me that running is more than just a way to get some exercise.  They showed me that it can be a way to challenge yourself, to build community with others, and to unwind and just reflect on life. 

Over time, they've taught me that it's ok to not be fast as long as you continue to race against yourself.  They've taught me that it's ok to finish last as long as you finish.  They've taught me that it's ok to set lofty running goals because you just might surprise yourself with what you are able to accomplish when you put your mind and body to the test.  They've taught me that it's ok to enjoy running, but even when you do, sometimes, you just have to make yourself get out there and go.

So proud at the finish of my first official race!

One race lead to another with a group of friends from work.  This one was a Big Brothers, Big Sisters 4k a month or so later in Riverside Park.  I was starting to really enjoy running for the first time in my life.  It wasn't easy, but it was productive.  I just needed a good pair of shoes and my ipod shuffle...and I was set.  Not a worry in the world.  Just me and the streets of New York.

By the Spring of 2010, I wasn't quite ready to tackle 13.1, but I was on my way.  I was able to competitively (for me) run a 5k in flushing with a group of friends from church.  It was a great experience.  The first time I really felt truly ready for a race.  And the thought of having so many spectators and supporters for our group just made the excitement that much more intense.

It was later that fall when I ran my first half marathon in Chicago alongside my brothers with the rest of our family there to cheer us on.  And a month later my boyfriend cheered for me and several of my friends as we ran the Diva Half in Long Island.  I have only the fondest of memories of both races.  Partly because I was accomplishing a great feat with family and friends, but also because of the support of loved ones cheering me on.  There really is nothing better than seeing someone you love at the beginning, middle, and end of a long race.  It's motivating.  It's exciting.  It pushes me to keep moving when everything else wants to just stop.  It's necessary...at least for me.

These are the reasons why the devastation that occurred at the finish of the Boston Marathon struck home for me in a real strong way.  I wasn't able to catch much of the coverage until after work when I went to the gym.  But I could barely concentrate.  I teared up.  I felt sick.  I just kept thinking of the  horror of it all and how it could have easily been me out there.  But then I remembered all of the reasons why I run.  All of the joy it has brought me over the past five years.  All the friendships.  All the fun.  All the excitement.

My prayers go out to all of the runners and spectators that were there today especially those whose lives were forever changed.  I'm thankful for race personnel and public service officials that risk their own safety to help protect others.  As much as I want to be scared and feel afraid about the task of running the NYC Marathon that lays before me, I'm going to be hopeful instead.  I'm going to treat running as a privilege.  I'm going to have a much better appreciation for the race staff and volunteers along the way.  I'm going to be even more thankful for all those smiling faces at the finish line...especially those smiling faces of my loved ones.  I'm going to continue having fun running and making friends along the way because that is truly what it is all about.

Andrea :)