Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bringing Hope via Clean Water

Bringing hope through providing clean water.  So necessary.  So scarce for many.  And fortunately for you and I, so easy!  This month, I am supporting my favorite via her fundraising efforts as she gears up for a fall marathon!  She is running for World Vision in order to raise money to provide clean water to communities in Africa.  

A couple of interesting facts Tarra included in a recent email:

1 - Just $50 can provide clean water for one person in these villages.  You can easily help one of these precious people access something we take for granted every single day.

2 - Only 0.5% of the US population completes a marathon.  Since I am also on the heels of my first marathon, this fact forces me to truly realize HOW crazy impressive it really is to complete the task.  Best of luck to Tarra (and Evan) as they continue to journey toward their goal of running 26.2!  

Tarra and I after the Diva Half back in the fall of 2010.

Please take a moment to check out Tarra's donation page here.  All donations are much appreciated by not only her, but also the individuals in these less fortunate communities.

How are YOU making a difference in the world?

Andrea :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Book #11 - A Friend Like Henry

Happy Friday!!  Hope everyone had a great week!  Mine was fabulous because I turned 30 smack dab in the middle of it!  Looking forward to more celebrations this weekend before I recap all the fun for you!  But today, I want to tell you about a book that is one of the most insightful and moving I have read in quite some time!

I love autobiographies...and this one is certainly no exception!  The author, Nuala Gardner, chronicles her efforts and exhaustion with raising an autistic son.  The book is mostly centered on her son, Dale, and how the friendship of a golden retriever, Henry, at a very young age had a profound impact on his development, but the book also focuses on Nuala's personal struggles and victories as well.  Not only does she and her husband, Jaime, have an autistic son, but they are trying to overcome secondary infertility for much of the book as well.  That being said, this wasn't an easy read, but it was a remarkable story particularly if you have exposure to people in your own life in similar situations.

I enjoyed so many things about this book, but particularly her writing style.  She gave so many details and examples that you thought you were right there with her trying to teach Dale the lessons yourself.  I also loved that it chronicled multiple struggles - Dale's autism, infertility issues, and the difficulties of aging parents as well.  It really provided a true picture of the whole spectrum of her adult life...and it wasn't all upbeat and happy either.  It was very honest and insightful.  I also enjoyed the section in the back of the book with Dale's adult reflections on the various stories that his mom wrote about from his childhood and youth throughout the book.  Those reflections along with a reading group guide with questions proved to be a perfect way to end the book.

I would suggest reading this book to anyone...especially if you have an interest in psychology or autism.  It is one of the best I have read!  Let me know your thoughts if you check it out!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!!

Andrea :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

30 before 30 - Month Twelve Recap

Yay for being 30!!
write letter to family or friend
This month I decided to write a letter to each member of my immediate family.  The four of them are such very special people to me!  I just wanted to let them know how much I love them and how happy I am that we are a family!

3 monthly goals
1) Execute the National 7-on-7 Tournament and Lineman Challenge.
Done.  And done extremely well.  Quite proud of how smooth and efficiently things ran this year!  YAY!

2) Have fun celebrating my birthday in Kentucky with my best friend and family!
Done.  Birthdays in Kentucky are always great :)  Recap to come soon!!

3) Start my marathon training program.
Done.  And realizing everyday just how difficult this whole running a marathon thing is going to be, but I'm gonna keep on truckin along.

facetimes with Brinley
We had a short facetime in the airport on July 4th before Chris and I headed off to Chicago.  Mom and Dad were up at Jordan and Jen's house so they were chasing her around.  It was pretty brief, but she was showing me her toys and taking things off her shelf to show me.  She is getting to be such a big girl now!!

Since we spent a handful of days together in mid-July, we didn't end up doing a second facetime.  But I did get to have a fun facetime with little Landon when he was still in the hospital and right after I got back from being home for a few days.  He's so little that he didn't really do much besides sleep and squirm around, but it was still fun to see him.  He's a little doll!

Date Night
Chris and I had a fun date night in Chicago when we went to see The Second City improv show.  You can read about our trip to Chicago here.  

Girls' Night
For girls' night this month, we were supposed to go see one of the Bryant Park movies - for free - but it rained.  So we met at my apartment for a catch up session instead.  Reba even made some yummy pre-birthday fudge for us!  Strawberry Shortcake flavored, too!  DELCIOUS!  She shared the recipe over on her blog which you can find here.

I marked 3 items off the list.
Full 30 Before 30 Review to Come SOON!

1 - read 12 books: 1) The Water Giver 2) Breaking Back 3) Four Perfect Pebbles 4) Gone Girl 5) Eat, Pray, Love 6) The Time Keeper 7) Semi-Sweet 8) Mind Gym 9) Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead 10) Before Ever After 11) A Friend Like Henry 12) 102 Minutes

4 - prepare (at least) 10 new dinner meals: 1) sliders and tator tots 2) ham and sweet potatoes 3) grilled cheese and soup 4) loaded baked potatoes 5) cheeseburger pasta 6) penne alla vodka with chicken and broccoli 7) roast beef and carrots in crock pot 8) turkey bacon pizza 9) french toast 10) pumpkin alfredo ravioli

22 - sign up for improv classes (one day class in August...still planning to do a 6-8 week classes sometime)

Andrea :)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Happy 30th ME!!!!

I can't believe it is finally here - my BIRTHDAY!!  I've been waiting ALL year for this day!!  It is pretty surreal to be turning the big 3-0, but I am way too excited about all of the fun I have planned to really have given the thought much time to sink in quite yet!  I'm sure it will hit me at some point today!  I'll be sure to recap all my fun celebrations in the next few days!  For now, I'm just going to have fun being the birthday girl!!   

Andrea :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Lifelong Dream

Life. Love.Lauren

I have loved linking up every Tuesday with Lauren and Tiffany.  It's sad that today is the last day, but hopefully fingers crossed they have another set of ten fun topics for us next!!  But first, today's topic...

I have lots of lifelong dreams, but the one at the forefront of my mind recently is getting married.  Not just getting married to anyone, but to the love of my life :)

I absolutely can't wait to be married to my best friend.  To be able to relax together on the weekends.  To be able to overcome life's challenges together.  To be able to create a home together.  To turn two into three and then four...eventually (but that's a whole different lifelong dream).  To wake up next to one another and say goodnight in person each evening.  To continue to figure it out together.  I can't wait for this lifelong dream to become a reality!!

Andrea :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Oh, The Places You'll Go!

Life. Love.Lauren

This is a bit late, but I did want to squeeze it in there since traveling is one of my favorite things to do!  It is very difficult for me to narrow it down to just two places that I have traveled since I have been to all 50 states and many different cities in Europe.  If you want to check out some of my travel adventures, please be sure to look here on my travel page!

I'll pick one American city and one European city...


This is one of my favorite cities (and one I'll be returning to later this summer).  You can check out the recaps of my trip there with my parents two years ago here and here.


This is easily in my top five US cities list.  Without a doubt.  It is such a lovely city and so very relaxing!  Definitely want to visit there with Chris someday!  Check out my recap here from my last visit there!

Andrea :)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I'm an Aunt...again!!

Landon Michael Heflin - my little nephew - was finally born this morning at 8:55am!  He weighed 7 pounds 7 ounces and was 19 inches long.  We waited and waited and waited for him to decide to come and then when he did, he really got here in a hurry!!  There was a lot of commotion surrounding the birth, but I'll just say that both he and his mommy are doing fine now!  So thankful that all is well and this little blessing is the newest addition to the Heflin bunch :)

Dear Landon -

I am so happy you are finally here!!  We thought you never were going to arrive, but I am so glad it worked out for me to be able to meet you in just a couple of days!  (I had to wait a few weeks to visit your sister when she was born - I didn't like that at all.)  I'm excited to share our birth month - trust me, July birthdays are the best!  You are almost exactly 30 years younger than me little buddy. I just want you to know that even though I don't live nearby, I look forward to being involved in your life.  I'll set up a FaceTime schedule with your parents so I can keep track of you!  Look forward to watching you grow and learn.  I love you so much already my handsome little nephew :)

Aunt Andrea

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Can I Quote You On That?

Life. Love.Lauren

I have lots of favorite quotes. I can't ever seem to remember them exactly when they would be most useful, but I love collecting them!

Here are three some of my favorites!

"God, grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change, the COURAGE to change the things I can, and the WISDOM to know the difference"

"Yesterday is history. Tommmorow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why we call it the present."

"Love the Lord your God, and love one another. Love one another as he loves. Love with strength and purpose and passion and no matter what comes against you. Don't weaken. Stand against the darkness, and love. That's the way back into Eden. That's the way back into life." - Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

"If you have to justify something, it's probably not worth it..."

"Don't make someone a priority when you are only their option!"

"Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So, love the ones that treat you right; forget the ones who don't. Believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. No one promised it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it."

"It's not the good times that make friendships, it's how you recover from the bad." - PJ on MY BOYS

"To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did."

What is your favorite quote?

Andrea :)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Chicago + Pumpkin Alfredo Ravioli

This Weekend, I had two extra days of fun!!  It was awesome to have the Thursday and Friday off from work!!  I was also able to check a couple more items off my 30 before 30 list.  It's down to the wire now so I was glad to get those two done.  I have one more I am attempting to complete before the 24th!  Now, back to my long weekend of fun!

On Thursday, Chris and I headed out to Chicago around noon.  When we arrived, we were starving so we grabbed some airport pizza before heading downtown to meet up with my friends Tarra and Evan!  We had so much fun with them while we were there!  That night, Chris and I headed to The Second City for an awesome improv show!  We loved it!!

On Friday, we toured around the Money Museum (for FREE!!) and then met up with Evan and Tarra for brunch. 
We made our own money!  Such a fun spot!

We made a pit stop at the bean!

After brunch, we found a little gem of a cupcake place - Sugar Bliss!  I was so pumped they had mini cupcakes!

Finally, we made our way out to Wrigley Field.  It was such a fun experience.  The stadium is so old, but in a really great way.  They have ramps leading up to your seats instead of escalators and that area is really consumed by the all things Wrigley.  It was cool to see the ivy walls in person, too!

After the game, we had a delicious dinner at City Winery in the West Loop area of Chicago.  We had great company and amazing food!  Definitely recommend trying it out!

On Saturday, we went on an architecture tour during the peak of the day and even though the sun wasn't really out, I still managed to get burnt on my shoulders.  

We also went up to the Sky Ledge at Willis Tower.  I didn't think I would be scared, but when it was my turn to step out there, I was SO nervous.  It was a really unique experience!

We headed back to NYC that evening, but not without getting some Garrett's popcorn at the airport!  I even managed to accidentally get the Chicago mix - cheddar and caramel.  Yummy!

On Sunday, I made pumpkin alfredo ravioli which completed one of the items on my 30 before 30 list!  Thanks to Kaitlyn at Wifessionals for the recipe - you can find it here.  We had some yogurt for desert while I did some laundry that afternoon. And even managed to make it to the evening service at Calvary which we both enjoyed.

I have a HUGE week (and a half) ahead of me with our National 7-on-7 Tournament and National Lineman Challenge coming up so wish me luck with both of those massive events out in Cleveland!  Here's hoping they both go off without a hitch!

Hope you had an amazing weekend!!

Andrea :)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Book #10 - Before Ever After

Before Ever After was sent to me via a book swap with Ashlee over at A Step in the Right Direction. I was so excited to participate in that swap...and I'm so glad I did because this was an awesome book!  I really liked it!  I had a little trouble getting into it, but once I got past the first couple of chapters...I was totally hooked!!  I could not put it down! 

The story is told mostly from Shelly's point of view.  Her husband, Max, was tragically killed around their 5th wedding anniversary.  Max's grandson finds Shelly a few months after his passing to alert her to some interesting information about Max.  This news finds Shelly reminiscing about the very beginning of her courtship with Max which happens to have occurred on one of Max's famous off the beaten path tours.  The stories Shelly recounts from cities all over Europe are fantastic and really draw you into the book.  It was especially fun to read for a travel fanatic and history buff like myself.  I loved reading the stories about ancient times in each city.  And of course, the love story was wonderful as well.

I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys romance, history, and/or mystery.  It has a little bit of all three mixed in there.  It's also a very quick read!  Let me know your thoughts if you have a chance to check it out!

Andrea :)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July!!!


Hope you all have a wonderful day celebrating our great country's independence!

I'm on my way to Chicago with Christopher to check another item off my 30 before 30 list.  I'm getting down to the wire. Only 20 more days to go before the big 3-0!!

Enjoy your day!!

Andrea :)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


A couple weeks ago my friend, Mary, and I went to see Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella for our annual birthday show!  Mary's birthday is actually today - HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MARY!! - but we both have a lot going on this July so we broke out our party shoes a little early this year!!

We had a great time catching up and watching the fabulous show!  The costumes were amazing and the story lines were really funny!  I wasn't entirely sure what to expect going into it.  I mean, I knew the story of Cinderella, but I wasn't sure how it would be portrayed on stage.  I was very impressed!  There was a tad bit of difference in the story line from what I remember of the animated version I watched growing up, but overall it remained the same.  And seriously, it was funny.  Like laugh out loud funny.  Songs were great, dances and dresses were fun, and the characters were believable! We really enjoyed it!! 

Mary was the first friend I made when I moved to New York City back in the summer of 2007.  We didn't know one another when we celebrated our birthdays that year, but we became fast friends that fall!  This is our 5th birthday show together now - Lion King (2008), The Little Mermaid (2009), South Pacific (2010), *visited Paris where Mary was living in 2011*, War Horse (2012), and now Cinderella (2013).  WOW!!  We have made some wonderful memories over the years for sure!!  What a blessing to have such a great friend and so many exciting times to look back on over the years!!

Andrea :)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Street Smarts

Life. Love.Lauren

I always loved school, but to be honest I don't really use a great deal of the things I learned in my classes there.  Outside of school can be a dangerous, but beneficial place to learn.  I'll share a few of my street smarts with you today...

1 - Always carry an umbrella.  If it rains, you're covered - literally.  And if your luck is like mine and you bring it, the rain won't come!

2 - Treat other people the way you would like to be treated.  It's just common courtesy!  And I really can't comprehend how all people don't comply with this one!

3 - If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.  Sometimes holding your tongue is the best thing to do...even though it can be VERY difficult!

4 - Learn the names of the people around you and be genuinely interested in them.  It can make a huge difference!

Andrea :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

O's Game + Washington DC

This Weekend, I marked an item off my 30 before 30 list and had a lot of fun in the process!!  We spent the weekend in the Washington DC area with friends!  SO fun!

On Friday, I ended up on the longest bus ride ever when some crazy rain and threats of flooding delayed me arriving to the DC area by about two hours.  Boo for that...but it all worked out well even though we barely made it in time for the happy hour at the British Embassy.

We spent the evening socializing with friends over dinner at Capital City Brewing Company and a quick stop for froyo afterward!  YUM!

On Saturday, Chris and I drove out to York, Pennsylvania, to visit one of his college roommates, Josh, and his cute little family!  We had a fun time being entertained by Josh's two little ones and even got to have lunch at Chick-fil-A!  Unfortunately, I failed to get a picture...and I was super bummed as I realized it about 10 minutes after we got on the road back.

That night we went to Camden Yards to watch the O's and the Yankees.  Turned out to be a pretty lopsided game, but it was fun to be at the ball park!

On Sunday, we slept in a little and then went for brunch at Miss Shirley's in Annapolis - SO GOOD!!  There was a bit of a wait when we arrived so we looked around a little beforehand.  They had the cutest birds all over the place!

After brunch, we ventured out to Georgetown for a little cupcake fun before we left town.  We started out at Baked and Wired.  I tried the Strawberry there as that flavor has become my favorite these days.  I thought it was good, but my cake was a bit dry.  The icing was perfect and just the right amount.  These cupcakes were huge, too!  I did try a bite of my friend's chocolate one and it was much more moist.  Overall, I enjoyed it!

Next we ventured to the crazy popular Georgetown Cupcakes.  We stood in line for about 30 minutes which isn't terrible, but definitely more than I would prefer to wait!  I decided to try two different types here because I wanted to compare the strawberry, but I also wanted to try something different - carrot cake!  Both were tasty!  These were much smaller than the ones at Baked and Wired, but more than made up for the size with the mound of icing on top.  The cake of both was super moist and very good, but I had to scrape off nearly all the icing because it was just too much!  I loved the cute little fondant toppers on them, too.

After I got my cupcake fix, we ventured down to the river and hung out there for a bit.  Then we headed back into DC to grab dinner before we left for NYC on the bus.  The ride back was equally as dreadful, but I'm glad we went on the adventure!  It was a lot of fun!!
With our lovely hostess and fun tour guides - Noli and Rachel!
How was your weekend?

Andrea :)