Tag Archives: family

Christmas 2012: A photo Re-cap

27 Dec

I’m sitting at my desk at work, feeling a little bummed out that the holidays are over.

My sister and our cousins in the Christmas jams I bought for us. Twins!

My sister and our cousins in the Christmas jams I bought for us. Twins!

I’m also feeling overwhelmed – by work, unread blogs (I must read them all!), New Year’s Eve planning, 2013 resolution planning…. There is a lot to get done!

My second cousin Ava wearing her Christmas Nikes and sitting with my Dad.

My second cousin Ava wearing her Christmas Nikes and sitting with my Dad.

But, despite the stress of the post-Christmas, pre-New Year’s activities, I’ve got a huge smile on my face. Because I had the best Christmas (and birthday!) that I’ve ever had!

My Christmas and Birthday gifts! I'm a lucky girl!

My Christmas and Birthday gifts! I’m a lucky girl!

It was so nice to have Zach come with me to visit my family, but I’m also grateful that he and his family will soon be my family too!

2012-12-21 16.26.22

My future husband and some of my future in-laws (we’re missing Zach’s mom and step-dad)!

In a testament to how great my “new” family is, my Sister-in-law, Courtney (on the left in that photo) took care of our kitties while we were in Pittsburgh, and she surprised us with this photo on Christmas morning:


Photo courtesy of Courtney Bell Photography

Isn’t that awesome!? She bought them a cat tree and surprised them with it on Christmas morning. It made me feel so happy and loved that she made sure my cats were having a good time while I was away.

Of course, not all the cats were impressed:

Yes, that's Tuscany vomiting by the cat tree.

Yes, that’s Tuscany vomiting by the cat tree. Photo courtesy of Courtney Bell Photography

Gross, I know, but also hilarious. Tuscany is a little hard to please.

All in all, I had a fabulous week. There is nothing in life better than having a loving family, and this year I’m so very grateful to be gaining a whole extra family to call my own.

Question of the day:
How was your Christmas!? 

A Virtual 5k?

18 Dec

I’ll be honest, I haven’t really been in the mood to blog the past few days. Somehow it still seems weird being positive and upbeat online. I’m being positive and upbeat in my real, non-virtual life, though, so I guess it’s time to get a move on.

I read on Julie’s blog that an elementary school teacher in Connecticut is organizing a  5k, 10k or half marathon  (with a virtual component for those out of the area) to honor the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting. I’m all for this, and I think I’m going to try to get a few of my local running friends to participate as well. If you’d like to participate, join this Facebook group to stay informed.


Let’s recap what I’ve been up to, shall we?

I mentioned in my last post that I was still going strong with the Jamie Eason plan, and that I’ve been running without pain.  Today was leg day, and it was rough. I woke up wishing that I had cardio on the agenda, but today wasn’t a cardio day and once I was done with my leg workout I was glad. Leg day wiped me out!

Two things that were on the agenda today were the Abductor and Adductor machine, but I really don’t think my gym has those machines anymore. I’ve read a lot about how those machines are basically useless, so I subbed some exercises for them:

For the abductor, I looped a resistance band around my calves and did traveling side squats. It looks something like this:

For the adductor, I simply did side lunges with the barbell:

I’m not sure if it was exactly what I should have been doing, but I felt the burn. Legs are a hard day, no?

As for #Elf4Health, I haven’t been keeping up with the challenges like I should. Today’s challenge is to treat myself to something I’ve been craving — shouldn’t be too hard to live up to that one, but now I have to figure out what it is I’m craving!

In other news, this past weekend was my Sister-in-Law to-be’s annual Christmas party, aka the best party of the year. The food and drinks were fabulous (didn’t take photos, I’m a terrible blogger). The gift exchange was fun (we do a Secret Santa each year). I got this book, which I’ve been dying to read:

I read Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project earlier this year, and I’ve been very excited for this to come out. If you haven’t read The Happiness Project, I highly recommend it. Even if you don’t do a strict, year-long Happiness Project like Gretchen did (I did not), there is a lot to take away from this book. Once I finish this installment, I’ll review it here.

Also at the party, Zach and I got our annual Christmas Tree photo made:

Photo courtesy of Courtney Bell Photography

Photo courtesy of Courtney Bell Photography

We are a happy couple. 🙂

I’ll leave you with this photo of my bridesmaids (plus honorary bridesmaid, Mandee, minus my Maid of Honor, my sister Michelle) from the party. Love these girls!

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Photo also courtesy of Courtney Bell Photography, but she does complain that this is out of focus. I’ll blame the fact that she’s in the photo for that.

A Non-post

14 Dec


I had planned to do my Liebster Blog Award post today, but in the light of the events in Connecticut, it just doesn’t feel right to be doing any sort of lighthearted blog. So, I just want to say that I hope you all are able to hug your loved ones tonight, and I hope you all remember what a gift it is to have those loved ones here where you can touch them.

My family and friends

My family and friends

Wedding: Guest List, Attendants, Venue Shopping and My Decor Inspiration Board

7 Sep

I have jumped right into wedding planning. For someone who was never really that interested in having a wedding at all, I sure have embraced the idea quickly!

Of course, it helps that all of my friends and family are probably as excited about it as I am. I don’t think of my wedding day as my day — it’s OUR day — and not just for me and Zach. So many people have contributed to our relationship, love us, are cheering for us. That makes us a stronger couple so despite the fact that I never really was interested in having a wedding (I really thought we’d go the elopement or Justice of the Peace route), I’ve embraced it because I want to create a beautiful day that we can share with the people we care about the most.

Our plan for the day is a low-stress, lovely, DIY affair with some delicious food, drinks and a whole lot of love. So, we’ve started from the beginning.

Step 1: The Date
While this isn’t set in stone (I need to make sure we have a venue before I can say for sure), we have decided on September 28th, 2013. Fall in WV is a great time to have a wedding, as there are tons of trees changing colors. I also just love the fall!

Step 2: The Guest List
This part was the first tough part. I want to invite everyone, but we can’t. We have a very small budget. It’s very hard to figure out who to invite and who to leave off.  Right now we’re just adding everyone and figuring it out later.

Step 3: The Attendants
We both have picked the friends and family who will stand next to us while we commit to the rest our lives together. I can’t announce Zach’s picks yet, as he hasn’t asked them (I have — I’m way less patient than he is), so I’ll save introductions for another post.

Step 4: The Venue
We’ve started making appointments to look at venues, even though our guest list isn’t set in stone. As I’ve mentioned we are on a tight budget (prepare to hear that a lot), so right now I’m restricting my search to anything our Parks Board has to offer, which is a lot! Today, we went to see this place: 

St. Cloud Commons

At a very reasonable $170/day, I was excited about this, and they do have lots and lots of (pretty) outdoor space, with lots of trees (which will be great in the fall!)  The website says it seats about 100, but it’s very small. I don’t think we’d be able to fit 100 people in there having dinner, with a dance floor. So, St. Cloud Commons isn’t for us. On to the next one!

Step 5: Dreaming about everything!
I’ve just been spending pretty much all of my time thinking about how I want it to look (but that’s not as important as how it will feel), what I’d like my dress to look like, and how wonderful it will be to announce my intention to spend the rest of my life with my best friend to all of the people I love! I’m very excited! The other day I was going through Pinterest and dreaming about all the decor, table decorations, etc. when I put this together. I call it a ‘vision board’ for decor and table centerpieces:

Image source: Who knows! Pinterest!

Bright yellow mums, bottles painted grey (not blue like in the photo), tissue paper poms hanging from the ceiling. It’s all going to very DIY and fun.

So, yes. It’s all a big jumble of excitement right now, but I have no doubt I’ll be able to pull this together. I’ve been reading a few books too, which I highly recommend. I’m all about keeping wedding planning low-stress, as inexpensive as possible, and not making it all about the bride. I pledge to include Zach (when he wants to be included, sometimes he just doesn’t have an opinion and that’s fine) at all junctures, and rely on the expertise of my wise bridesmaids (they truly are). I also pledge to remember that the only thing that must happen on September 28th, 2013 is that we must end up married by the end of the day. Regardless of anything else, if we are married at the end of the day, it will be a success.

Here are the books I’ve been reading:

A Practical Wedding by Meg Keene. This is a great book! It’s easy (even at the very beginning of wedding planning) to get caught up in the millions of details that wedding blogs, magazines, and even well meaning people want to tell you are so important, but Meg reminds us that the most important thing is getting married. One of the first exercises Meg has you do is to print out one of those exhaustive bridal checklists. Then, you take a red pen and circle the essential things. Which basically are: a person to marry, an officiant and clothes. That’s it. Then, take the green pen and circle the things that are most important to you. Not what everyone tells you is most important, but what you think is important. Then take the red pen again and cross everything else out. That doesn’t mean they won’t be included in your wedding, but it gives you permission to not stress out about it. That was a very fun exercise! You can also read Meg’s blog here.



Your Wedding Your Way by Sharon Naylor hits the same chord as Keene’s book. It’s not about tradition, it’s about what you want for your day. I know, above I said it’s not just your day, and that’s right, but it’s also not every Tom, Dick and Harry’s day either. I’ll be honest I just started this one, but so far it’s great.

You can find all of my book and DVD recommendations in my Amazon Store here.

Question of the day:
I want to hear about your wedding, or a fun wedding you’ve been to! Go! 

My favorites, from A to Z

19 Jul

I’ve seen a lot of the blogs I follow doing this lately, so I thought I’d jump on board.

P.S. This is a total cop-out by the way. In the interest of full-disclosure, I was out really late last night celebrating a friends birthday and maybe had one too many beers, so I don’t have any workout to share with you (I promise I’ll run after work!), and I had a bagel for breakfast (I’m definitely not sorry, and would most likely eat a second bagel if I had one).

A: Accounting. Despite the fact that I have two college degrees, I’m working towards a third degree in Accounting, because I decided I liked that field more than Science. Since I refuse to spend any more money on school, I found a loophole: I can take classes at the local Junior College for free because I work at the Library.

B: Will you judge me if I say Beer? Because I really like beer, a lot. I’m not picky. While I love a good microbrew, I’m just as easily pleased by a fizzy yellow ‘light’ beer, which is what I prefer anyway. It’s delicious if you add some lemonade. Try it.

C: Cream Cheese. I really love cream cheese. I went through a brief period of time when I wasn’t eating dairy, and I don’t know of anything I missed more. When I was a kid, I used to eat Ritz crackers piled high with cream cheese. Now I try to use it sparingly! I discovered Neufchatel recently, which is exactly like cream cheese but with 1/3rd less fat, so I can pile it a little higher 🙂

D: Dogs. I want a dog so much. When Zach and I buy a house, a dog will be the first thing we get. I want to adopt a homeless dog, not a puppy. Zach wants to buy a dog from a breeder. This will be our first major conflict. I can’t imagine buying a dog when there are so many who need homes.

E: Electricity. I never knew how much I depended on it until this summer. I hold my breath every time a storm rolls in now.

F: My friends! I know everyone says this, but I have the best friends. There is never a shortage of fun when they are around.

G: Leafy greens. I love Kale more than life, I think. I put it in and on everything. Plus, it’s super cheap 🙂

H: Halloween! It’s my favorite holiday. In fact, just around the time I start getting sad that the summer is ending, I get excited for pumpkin carving, cool evenings and costumes.

I: Ice cream. Obviously.

J: I’m going to do opposites on this one and say something I hate: Jump Rope. I hate jump rope. I’m too short, I’ve yet to find a jump rope that is short enough for me, and I just can’t do it. I’ll never join Crossfit because I’m afraid of double unders. If we have to do jump rope in a group fitness class, I just pantomime the rope.

K: Kickboxing! Last summer, Zach’s sister, Courtney, and I would go to her photography studio early every morning to do old-school Tae-Bo videos. I learned to love all the punch and kick combos that summer.

You remember this guy, right? We probably burned a bunch of calories just cracking up at his outfits and some of the things he said.

L: Legs. Runner’s legs, in fact. My thighs aren’t tiny, and I have trouble finding tall boots that are big enough to fit over my calves, but I’ve learned to love that muscle. Strong trumps skinny, every time.

M: My family. This is a copout, but I had to include them. They are the best. I don’t see them enough, and if I think about it, it makes me very sad.

N: My Nike Free Run 3’s. I’ve never been fitted for a pair of running shoes. I know I should, but these shoes are pretty great.

O: Orange kitties! In particular, my friend Susie’s cat Pete:

He’s a dog-cat.

P: Pittsburgh, PA. My hometown and favorite city!

Q: Quinoa is pretty good. It’s the only grain that is a complete protein, right? I think.

R: Running. My exercise of choice. I have a love/hate relationship with running. I love the way it makes me feel and look, but sometimes we just don’t get along. That’s kind of the fun of it though, no?

S: This is a new one, as of about 45 minutes ago: Starbucks Cool Lime Refresher. Have you had one of these yet? SO good.

Refreshing is right.

T: Tone It Up! Those ladies are gorgeous, and I love their workouts. I wish I could afford their meal plan, but it’s just not in my budget. I know many people say it’s worth it, so if you can afford it, I urge you to go for it.

U: The unconditional love that my cats have for me. I had to put them in here somewhere, they are my babies!

From L-R: Tuscany, Penny and Posey

V: Vitamins! For obvious reasons.

W: WOD’s. I said above that I’d never join Crossfit, but I love looking up WOD’s that I can do at home. They have saved me many times when I can’t make it to the gym and don’t have a lot of time for a workout.

X: This is totally cheating, but I’m replacing X with another P. I love push ups!

Y: YMCA! My gym of choice. It’s not as new as the Rec Center at my Alma Mater, but it’s really close to my house, and it really has grown on me. I know the Group Fitness Class schedule almost by heart, and I know the people there.

Z: Of course, Zach, the love of my life. I don’t want to be a total sap here (I could if I wanted to be, trust me), but he is pretty much the best thing that has ever happened to me, and the best person I know.

And right now, I’m patting myself on the back for choosing a mate with a name that starts with a “Z”, because this is a great ending to this post, no?

Most of the above photos were taken by Zach’s sister, Courtney, who is a very talented photographer. The link will take you to her blog, which she started when her Doberman, Lexie, started to go blind. I really admire her for all the energy (and money!) she has put into saving Lexie, and I urge you to read her blog.