Monday, August 26, 2013

Vacation...across the pond!

Chris and I are so excited to be away on vacation! Yay!!
We have been relaxing in the Midlands of England for the past few days where I am meeting much of Chris' extended family.  We have a few more days here before we begin a week of whirlwind travel.
Once we leave the Midlands, we head to Bulgaria for one of my college roommate's wedding.  After a couple of days there, we will be headed to London.  Chris is taking me to see Wicked on the West End and we will be meeting a few more of his relatives there.  We have one day trip planned for Brussels before we head back to the States.  Should be an exciting adventure...and I can't wait to update you on all the fun when we return!!
Hope you all have a wonderful week!!

Andrea :)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

30 before 30: Final Review

When I made my 30 before 30 list just after my 29th birthday, I wasn't sure exactly how much progress I would be able to make on it in just one year's time.  Roughly a month after my 30th birthday, I must admit I am super proud of all the items I was able to mark off the list.  I am a firm believer in writing goals down and telling others about them being two of the most vital pieces to actually achieving them.  I think my progress on the list is a great example.  I really enjoyed pushing myself on some of these items.  And I loved putting together the monthly recaps for the items that were recurring from month to month.  I loved it so much that I wanted to do one last final review of each item...mostly as a reflection for myself to be honest! we go!

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

2 - attend football games in (at least) 2 new stadiums: 1) Ravens (9.27.12) 2) Panthers (11.11.12) 3) Falcons (11.29.12)

3 - complete Year 2 (done March 2013) and Year 3 scrapbooks (layout done June 2013)

*I haven't technically finished this one, but most of the work is done!

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

5 - don't eat at any fast food restaurants for 30 straight days (done 10.11.12 to 11.9.12)

6 - go to (at least) 6 broadway shows: 1) War Horse (July 2012) 2) Grace (Nov 2012) 3) Annie (March 2013) 4) Lucky Guy (April 2013) 5) The Call (May 2013) 6) Cinderella (June 2013)

7 - send one letter a month to friends/family

8 - visit England with Chris (might happen in the fall, but at least have reservations by July)

*We leave TONIGHT!!  So excited for the adventure!!

9 - read through the entire Bible

*This one was a MAJOR fail.  I started and had great intentions, but I did not follow through.  It is also on my bucket list so I will continue to work on making this one a reality.

10 - complete a couple's study with Chris (began The 5 Love Languages study in Spring 2013)

 *We are only about halfway through the book so far.  June and July were super busy travel months for us, but we plan to finish it soon.

11 - sort through clothes/shoes and make donation (done Aug 2012)

12 - blog more frequently - participate in more challenges, giveaways, etc.

13 - be able to comfortably run an 11-min mile at a 10k event

*This one was also a MAJOR fail.  Somehow instead of getting faster, I think I have gotten :(  Regardless, I am still running so I guess it isn't a total loss.

14 - run (at least) one half marathon (signed up for one, but it got!)

*To be honest, I was pretty upset about this one.  I looked far and wide to find a half marathon that fit with my travel schedule for this summer and was pumped when I found one in Pittsburgh - where we have lots of friends.  I was so bummed when it got canceled.

15 - visit friends in Chicago

16 - visit friends in DC

17 - plan a really interesting/exciting/fun way to celebrate turning 30

18 - purchase (or receive as a gift!!!) Spanish Rosetta Stone and begin a journey to fluency

19 - give Brinley a unique 1st birthday gift

20 - work on being more assertive and confronting issues/people when I feel I've been wronged

21 - set 3 goals each month and work diligently to accomplish them

22 - sign up for improv classes

*So Chris and I attended a one day class in August, but I am still planning to do a 6-8 week classes...sometime soon.

23 - watch all the Best Picture nominees prior to the Oscars: Reviews - Part 1 and Part 2 and My Picks

24 - FaceTime with Brinley (at least) twice a month - hope her parents are on board :)

25 - make better use of Twitter (follow me - @alhadventures)

26 - explore (at least) 6 new places/areas in NYC - 1) West 4th Street area 2) downtown courthouse area 3) Williamsburg (Brooklyn Brewery) 4) Dumbo (Smorgasburg) 5) Brooklyn Botanical Garden 6) Greenwich Village (Barrow Street Theater)

27plan (at least) one fun date night each month

28 - try (at least) 6 new foods: 1) meatloaf 2) asparagus and artichoke ricotta ravioli 3) homemade cranberry sauce 4) salad 5) split pea soup 6) white pizza

29 - join Instagram (done August 2012 - username: alhadventures)

30enjoy (at least) one girls' night each month

Andrea :)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Wedding Fun + Saratoga Race Track


This weekend, I visited Christopher in Albany for the first time in a few months.  We've been away for most of the weekends this summer!

On Friday, we went to a wedding at the gorgeous Canfield Casino in Saratoga.  We had fun dancing to the live band, but we didn't stay too late because I am getting deeper into my marathon training so my weekend runs are super long now.

On Saturday, I ran 10 miles at the Corning Perserve.  It was a great day for a long run.  The weather was almost perfect for pretty much the whole time.  My legs felt pretty tired afterward, but we kept about a 12 minute mile pace which is an improvement from my last long run so I must be doing something right with all these runs each week.

Saturday night, we met up with my Aunt Mildred for dinner.  We went to this great new place in Schenectady - Johnny's.  The food was delicious and very filling!  And the dessert was amazing!  I had the gelato cake, but everyone else got the cheesecake.  Very tasty!!

On Sunday, we went back to Saratoga for some fun at the track.  Neither of us won too much, but we had a good time just spending some time together. 


Race 8 was the only race where I won anything.  I had horse 7 to show and it won!  I ended up winning $2.60 out of it.  Not great, but I'll take it!

How was your weekend??

Andrea :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Improv Class + Fruitvale Station


This weekend, I enjoyed a relaxing couple days with Christopher. We didn't have too much on the schedule which is unusual for us.

On Saturday, I started the day with a 12 mile run.  Not exactly how I typically start out my Saturdays so needless to say, I was pretty tired after 2+ hours of running.  I took a nap and just relaxed while I waited for Chris to arrive.  He got here just in time for our dinner reservations at one of our favorite places - Arrirang!  We love hibachi!!  It was delicious!

On Sunday, I did a 4 mile run (much more my range!) before we headed over to our improv class at Chicago City Limits.  The class ended up being rather small so we were able to get lots of opportunities to play fun improv games.  We had a great time!!

After the class, we were starving so we stopped for some pizza at Two Boots.  I had a groupon from there that we hadn't used yet so we ended up only paying 50 cents for our yummy pizza pie - so good!!
We had a little time after our late lunch before our movie started so we played some games at Dave and Buster's for awhile.  Chris beat me at basketball...this time...but we both dominated at Deal or No Deal.  We love games and are both competitive so Dave and Buster's is a great spot for us!

The movie we saw was Fruitvale Station.  If you haven't heard about the movie yet, it is based on a true story of Oscar Grant, who was killed by a BART police officer just a few years ago in the bay area.  The film follows Oscar's final 24 hours.  It won awards at the Sundance Film Festival and is well made.  I would suggest checking it out, but be warned that it is most definitely a drama.  The story is truly unbelievable.

What did you do this weekend?  Anything fun?
Andrea :)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Book #12 - 102 Minutes

Happy Friday!! Hope you all have fun plans for the weekend! I am excited to be reviewing the final book in my 30 before 30 list...especially since I really enjoyed reading it!

Intially, I wasn't sure what to expect from 102 Minutes, but from the first page of the book, I was hooked! The book covers the 102 minutes between when the World Trade Towers were struck by planes to their untimate fall. I have watched documentaries and read stories before about individuals that overslept that day and were late to work or that headed down just before the crash, but this book really takes things to a different level. There are plenty of stories about survivors as well as those that fell victim to this terrorist act, but at the same time there are unbelievable facts about the building and how it was built. Was it up to code exactly? Would that have made a difference in the number of lives lost? There is also much insight into the relationship (or maybe lack thereof) between the NY police force and fire department. Lots of unfortuate disconnects between those two groups. Overall, it was an incredible view into those completely unreal 102 minutes. The book was written in a way that makes you want to believe it is fiction. Things like the countdown of time with start of each chapter made it difficult to remember that this was real life for so many people. Truly an eye opening account of the events inside those towers. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that has an interest in the day that forever changed our nation.

I'll leave you with some pictures from one of my visits to the 9/11 Memorial.

Andrea :)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Penguins + Cider

This Weekend, I had a blast with Christopher in Pittsburgh! It was great to visit with friends and just relax for a few days!

We arrived pretty late on Friday night, but I still managed to get up fairly early and go for my run on Saturday morning. I was scheduled to run 10 miles, but due to a little later start than anticipated, I only ended up running 8 miles. I did the run at the lake in North Park. It was remarkably enjoyable. And I felt pretty good afterward...which was good because we still had lots of fun on the schedule!

And my super sweet boyfriend even surprised me with a yummy cupcake when he picked me up after the run! YUM!!

After I got showered and ready, we headed out to the National Aviary.

This was a real fun time. Our friends suggested we go there for the penguin feeding. They know me too well! I loved checking out the penguins. Such cute little guys!! Trey even managed to find one his own size! Adorable!

On Sunday, we met up with my friend, Michelle, at Arsenal Cider House. Chris and I were able to do a sampling of all the different ciders they serve before we decided on Archibald's Ado (Apple) cider for our growler. We had fun catching up for a bit while sipping on some cider. Then Michelle and I headed off to find a bakery!

The one she wanted to take me to was actually closed for the day when we arrived, but we managed to track down some yummy cupcakes anyway. I tried a lemon meringue and a cute little decorative one. They were tasty!

This morning, Chris and I flew back to NYC. I managed to sneak in yesterday's scheduled four mile run before I dashed back over to the airport to catch a flight to Charlotte for work. Needless to say, it's been a whirlwind Monday! Hope yours has been a little more calm!

Did you do anything fun this weekend?

Andrea :)

Friday, August 2, 2013

It's Football Friday!!

Love, Fun & Fotball

It is truly hard to believe that football season is FINALLY here! I can't believe the first pre-season game is this weekend! Unbelievable how quickly this summer flew right by me!!

Bengals helmet being tested at Riddell.

I'm going to take a break from the predictions on the upcoming season today. (Although, I do anticipate a favorable year for the men in orange and black! WHO DEY!!) Instead, I want to share with you how I came to be such a HUGE football fan.

Me and Jordan - Georgetown Tigers :)

One reason - my brother, Jordan, joined our high school team. Before that I wasn't a fan at all. In fact, I kind of thought the whole thing was a little ridiculous. I mean, they run around chasing each other and then all end up in a pile at the end of it. No thanks! Well, until someone I cared about joined in the fun...

Me and McKinley after one of his high school games!  Go Cougars!!

When Jordan began playing football, I began learning more about it. I learned about the rules first. This was clutch. Things make a LOT more sense when you know the rules. After learning the rules, I learned bits and pieces about the strategy involved. As it turns out, it's a LOT more complex that I originally thought. After I had the basics down, I started to really enjoy it.

Coach Owens getting after the Tiger Defense!

Over the years, I have continued to learn and grow in my enjoyment for the game. I was probably most in love with football during college. I seriously couldn't get enough! I still really love the game, but working for the NFL has jaded some aspects of it. After all, it is a business at this level. That always makes everything a little less fun, right?

Me and Jordan at Super Bowl XLVI in Indy

Whether you live for the game or just watch it casually, I really hope you have a great season cheering for your team! Big thanks to the ladies for hosting the link-up today! Would love for it to continue throughout the season!! Can't wait for my favorite season to kick off this weekend!!

Andrea :)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

10 Easy Steps to Celebrating the Big 3-0

Now that I've been 30 for a full week, I figure it is about time I let you guys in on all the fun I had celebrating it!!  I might be biased (maybe just a little), but I did it pretty darn well!!  And lucky for you, I've outlined some easy steps for you to follow...

10 Easy Steps to Celebrating the Big 3-0

Monkey Cake from Amy's Bread along with some Sprinkles minis

1 - Celebrate early, late, and often. 

I began my celebrations nearly a week before my actual birthday!  On the Thursday before my birthday (July 24 - for those interested in keeping track), my best gal pal in Kentucky went to great lengths to make sure I had a fun time at my first 30th birthday celebration!

The next night we ventured to a play (The Search for Tinker Doyle) at an outdoor theater - the Pioneer Playhouse - in Danville, Kentucky.  It was SO much fun...even though the mosquitoes really managed to gobble me up during the first act!

2 - Celebrate with family.

That Saturday, my family made sure I felt super special by celebrating again!  This time with a trip to a local steakhouse - Malone's - and a cookie cake!!  It was all SO yummy!!

And, for good measure, we ended the night with some sparklers!!  Yay for July birthday fun!

 3 - Sneak in a celebration at the monthly Girls' Night. maybe girls' night didn't completely revolve around my T minus 2 day milestone birthday, but we did find a way to work some of Reba's yummy birthday fudge into the occasion.

 4 - Take the day off from work.  

This is a MUST do task.  Seriously.  And if it happens to fall on a weekend, you've just saved a vacation day so thank your lucky stars!

5 - Start your day with a run.

Ok...maybe only do this if you are trying to be a good girl and follow your marathon training schedule :)  Or if you feel the need to prove to yourself that you can still do all the things you did in your 20's. 

6 - Relax.

Eat some mini-cupcakes, watch TV, fix your favorite meal for lunch, read a book, go shopping, open gifts.  Or...if you are it all!!

7 - Find some festive treats, preferably sticking to a central theme, for all the awesome friends that show up for birthday drinks.

I decided to go to Flute Bar because I wanted something fun and sophisticated!  Flute is a champagne bar.  I had a great time seeing lots of friends - both old and new!

It only made sense to me that I bring some macaroons from Laduree for everyone to enjoy :)

8 - Celebrate with your significant other!

Chris took me to dinner at Bobby Van's Steakhouse...which was SUPER tasty!  Then we came back to my apartment and celebrated with some yummy cupcakes and a movie (Identity Theft was our pick for the night)!

9 - Thank all your FB friends for the birthday wishes!  

After all, they did remember your special day...and all on their own accord, too :)

10 - Celebrate with friends!!!

The weekend after my actual birthday, a group of friends helped me celebrate by participating in Accomplice: New York - part game, part theater, part tour!  Everyone had an absolute blast!!  We loved it!  I don't want to give any part of it away in order to not spoil the fun for others, but it was a scavenger hunt of sorts that started at the south street seaport.

We walked all over downtown Manhattan seeking clues and having fun.  I would definitely recommend it to absolutely anyone!  I really don't think it is possible to be disappointed!  The actors were fabulous, occasional food and drinks were included, and we solved the mystery!  Doesn't get better than that for a 30th birthday adventure!!

Afterward, friends came back to my apartment for cake and ice cream.  It was such a wonderful afternoon with amazing friends!!

I did manage to squeeze one more day of birthday fun in with a home cooked meal from Chris' mom after church on Sunday!  But then, unfortunately, the celebrating finally ceased.  

I feel extremely blessed to have such wonderful family and friends that helped me celebrate this milestone birthday!! I had the absolute best time celebrating this year!!  Can't wait for all the fun that my 30's are sure to bring!!

Andrea :)