Anyone who knows me knows my deep, undying love for all things Hawai’i. Sometimes at work when I am in need of a pick-me-up, I listen to “The Descendants” soundtrack (which I may or may not be doing this very moment…) and stare at my painting of Diamond Head. There’s only one other place I would want to live even more than Colorado (although it comes with its own set of constraints), and that is Hawai’i. Preferably Maui, although I could handle Oahu too, if I must! The hubs and I got married in June 2011, and 2 weeks later we moved to Boulder, Colorado. Because of the move and the hubby starting his MBA at CU Boulder, we weren’t able to take our honeymoon until one year later. For our 1st anniversary, we hopped on a direct flight from Denver to Maui (you can fly direct from here – how amazing!) and spent an amazing week in Paradise. If I had the option and hadn’t started a brand new job 2 weeks prior, I would have stayed.
Any time I see a chance to win a trip to Hawai’i, I immediately sign up. When it’s combined with World Market, I jump at the chance! After moving into our
home south of Denver almost a year ago, I had a lot more space to work with, which meant a TON more decorating to do. #bighouseproblems With that in mind, I knew I wanted a few cute pieces that wouldn’t break the bank, and if I fell out of love with them, could be easily and shamelessly replaced. I felt like I went to World Market 2 times a month and left with far more than I ever anticipated. Although I mostly gravitated towards their decorative items, I did purchase a side table which is incredibly adorable. It gets an A+ in my book for cute, stylish, and reasonably priced!
World Market has a new sweepstakes out for a 6 day trip for two to Hawai’i. Although geared towards moms, I figure I am a puppy mom, so that should count. I am totally celebrating mother’s day this year, so there. After all, I do call my dog Ali’i Kihuahua (aka “King Chihuahua” in Hawaiian… although I totally made up the word for chihuahua, but linguistically it does fit their language patterns!), so this prize really is meant for me. The Hilton Waikoloa Village resides on the big island, properly named Hawai’i, but is an easy plane ride to any of the surrounding islands. I have visited the big island once, and toured the amazing lava fields. There really is nothing quite like it. If you’ve never been to Hawai’i and have always wanted to go, or even if you have been a hundred times, I think it is truly one of the US’ greatest treasures. Given its rich Polynesian history and laid-back lifestyle, it’s impossible not to relax when you’re there. Just send me a fresh lei if you win! Pomaika`i!
What a whirlwind of a weekend! It’s bizarre thinking I left last Friday to go to DC and I am already back in Denver. Returning to Colorado yesterday was bittersweet, to be sure, and I felt a heaviness after departing. It is amazing the incredible high you can feel in reuniting with your best friends for the first time in over a year. Obviously I know how important these ladies are to me, but I didn’t realize just how much I missed them until we were all back together again.
The Nike Women’s Half Marathon was spectacular! I had such a great time during the race and partaking in pre-race activities. I would definitely do this race again in the future, and if I ever work myself up to the *M* word, I could possibly see myself running the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. The men in tuxedos handing out beautiful robin’s-egg-blue boxes of Tiffany perfection did indeed add icing to the top of this rather large cake.
But let’s start in order. This is not a race recap, it’s a weekend recap. I arrived Friday evening and was picked up by my dear friends Justine and Samantha. We all spent the weekend at Justine’s apartment in Clarendon, conveniently located to multiple metro stops, Georgetown’s waterfront (the site for the Expotique), and a plethora of amenities. My friend Christine (who I ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon with in February) joined us shortly afterwards, and we dashed off to dinner at Lyon Hall. We made a stop by Trader Joe’s (which just recently made its way to Colorado!) on the way home for some additional libations, and spent the night catching up, watching movies, and just basking in our reunion.
The next morning we walked to the Georgetown waterfront to check out the Expotique (Samantha described it perfectly, it isn’t an Expo, but it had its own charm). We wandered around for a bit, sampled some NUUN flavors, created personalized signs for race day, wrote on a giant sharpie wall, and found our names on the participants’ wall. We shopped in the Georgetown Nike store for race day paraphernalia, which was a bit crazy and picked over, but definitely worth it. I managed to find an amazing pair of running tights, 2 NWHM running tanks, and a phenomenal purple NWHM pullover. I know that I love Nike running tops and half-zip pullovers, so I was absolutely a kid in a candy store.
After we finished our race prep, we headed off to Alexandria for Lilly and lunch. And boy did I Lilly. I found a must-have maxi dress, a breezy blouse and a scarf on sale. Happiness achieved. We grabbed a filling, protein-packed lunch at Vermilion across the street (excellent brunch!). Afterwards, we meandered through the Tanger Outlets at National Harbor, particularly for Under Armour and J. Crew. Once we shopped ‘til we dropped, we headed back to Arlington for a delicious dinner prepared by Justine (fettuccini with marinara and homemade turkey meatballs – YUM!) and a sweet treat of cake batter blondies.
The next morning we rose at about 4:30am, readied ourselves in our amazing ensembles, and jogged to the metro station. The trains weren’t packed at all, and we got off at Federal Triangle, which spit out into the middle of race-day festivities. While Christine and Samantha jetted off for a Half-Fanatic photo op, Justine and I wandered through the crowds, took photos, and figured out where to go for our corral. Once everyone was ready, we pushed through to the third corral, and waited for the race to begin.
The crowd was visibly excited. Although chilly, once surrounded by a sea of ladies ready to run, the thrill of the race sunk in. The first group set out at
7:00am, but our corral didn’t take off until about 7:13am. Needless to say it was the perfect time for selfies and silliness. Our goal was to run together in colorful formation, so for the occasion we all wore different colored bottoms (I made a last minute switch to pink Under Armour capris so Justine could wear her favorite yellow shorts) and matching tanks from Race Junkie. The front simply said “… And she ran happily ever after” while the back displayed “Proof that a pair of shoes can change your life 4.27.14”. We were stopped all along the course by people commenting on our tops, taking pictures for themselves, or asking to take pictures for us. I have a feeling there’s a few pics of us floating around Cyberspace, of which I am grateful. For us, that shirt was symbolic. This race brought us all back together for something we had never done before as a group. It’s now a combined passion, and I am so utterly grateful to have been able to make and share these memories with my best friends.
The beginning of the race is pretty iconic. You start on Pennsylvania Avenue, just a few blocks from the capitol building. Within a half mile you are in perfect range for a photo op (in which we obviously partook). You wrap around the front and head back down the streets flanking the mall, passing by the Botanical Gardens and number of other museums. You quickly approach the National Monument on your right, and continue on to the Arlington Memorial Bridge, passing over the Potomac River, and hooking around the circle to come back to the D.C. side. From there the course veers to the left in which you pass by the Kennedy Center and loop back. Then the course heads out to Haines Point, which occupies 3 miles of the course. Finally, you swing back by the National Monument, and head back towards the capitol.
It was a great course, with marching and pep bands (including my Alma Mater’s band from George Mason University) scattered throughout pumping up the runners, and plenty of spectators cheering us on. Given that the race benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, a number of Team in Training groups and their trainers were part of the race that day. It was amazing to see the obstacles some had overcome to be there, and the absolute determination to run this race for an incredible cause. Our group was surprised twice along the course by Samantha’s husband, Michael, who brought water, snacks, and a mental pick-me-up for all of us.
My favorite part of the race was coming up to the finish. My parents and sister found a great spot just steps from the finish line and were there cheering us on as we completed the race. I only recently began running, and only after moving to Colorado, so this was the first time they’ve seen me in a race. It was so inspiring having them there, and I couldn’t have been happier.
After crossing the finish, sub-3 hours, collecting our Whole Foods Goodie bags, and collecting our blue Tiffany’s boxes, we met up with my family for a bit before heading to brunch at Masa 14 (um, hello bottomless brunch menu, what a fabulous concept!). I spent the rest of the day with my family, only after an emotional goodbye with the ladies, and headed home early Monday morning. What a wild, exhausting, thrilling, and perfect weekend.
How was your weekend? Any amazing race memories shared with your besties? What’s been your favorite race experience? Do you run for bling, for camaraderie, the thrill of the run, or all of the above?
Tomorrow I depart the Mile High city for our Nation’s capital to participate in the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. More importantly, however, I get to see some of my favorite ladies in the world! YAY! This is also the race that provides Tiffany necklaces upon completion, which is obviously an added bonus. And I get to top the weekend off with seeing my family at the finish line and post-race. They’ve never actually seen me run, so this will be a big moment!
Part of what makes me so excited is the chance to run through such a phenomenal part of D.C. Not having been part of the running community there, I wasn’t really able to experience this newfound love in one of the most important and iconic cities in the U.S. I often see my friend Samantha’s photos and sigh, thinking how great it would be to have these sights as a daily reminder of the amazing country in which we live. Being able to so casually pass them whilst jogging along is almost surreal, and simultaneously empowering. This is one element of the weekend that truly has me pumped up and incredibly excited. I foresee a ridiculous amount of photos in my future this weekend. Instagram may give me the boot after overloading their system with selfies and monuments.
This week was the perfect transition week to get me psyched for Nike. I was able to go on two amazing runs this weekend, 6 miles through my neighborhood on Saturday and another 9 on the Highline Canal trail on Sunday. The weekend had ideal weather, yet again, with just the right amount of sunshine and light breezes. I feel confident with my rhythm, breathing, and pacing, so I really have no worries for Sunday’s race. Besides, with my gal pals by my side, it’ll be a fantastically enjoyable day.
The hubs did surprise me with my second annual grown-up Easter egg hunt. Rather than eggs filled with candy, toys or money, he hid mini champagne bottles all around the house. After getting back from my run on the Highline Canal trail, he handed me an Easter basket, set a searching radius, and Rocco and I headed off in search of my bubbly loot. I must give the hubs credit – this year was much more challenging, and with only one clue I found all five bottles! He’s such a sweetie!
During the week I was able to fit in some great stretching sessions, my weekly Tuesday Zumba class (if you haven’t tried it yet, do it! SO MUCH FUN!), and tonight I will have a short 5K run to round me out for the weekend. But it wouldn’t be a pre-race post from Amy without a wardrobe review! The hubby and I got together with our dear friends in Boulder, Peter and Ade. Peter’s folks live up in Vail and are some truly wonderful people, and Peter’s mom, the kind soul she is, reads this here blog from yours truly. She mentioned to Peter, as he relayed to me, that I am very interested in my running gear and dressing for the occasion. So without further ado, the running ensemble!
Given that this is a race primarily for women (but plenty of men run it too!), the ladies and I thought the outfits needed a bit of… sparkle! In sorority world, this is a given. In my quest to find the perfect group attire, I turned to my all-time favorite clothier of running pizazz, Race Junkie. You may have noticed my stunning Belle tutu for the Disney Princess Half Marathon (How could you not? It was freakishly adorable!). Well Race Junkie also makes awesome T-shirts and tanks! Although I won’t give it all away (there needs to be some suspense people!), her tops just scream fabulous. After ordering tanks for the group, our next decision was color.
Each lady chose a vibrant color because we don’t mind being those obnoxious bright girls. Samantha will be donning purple, Justine is in green, Christine picked blue, and I will be wearing what I like to think of as my lucky yellow race capris. I have worn these Under Armour capris for the Disney Princess Half as well as the Lucky Laces 10K, so let’s round it out with third time’s the charm. Afterwards I may need to retire them for the race scene as that is all people will think I own, but they are possibly my favorite pair of running capris – they’re heavenly soft, don’t chaff, and stay put. Really those are my main considerations when finding the ideal running bottoms.
We topped off our outfits with Sparkly Soul headbands, again in an assortment of colors. With this being our very first race all together (and hopefully not our last), it deserves to be an occasion worth dressing for. I simply cannot wait to share in this amazing adventure, and cross that finish line together. To be sure, no matter the distance, best friends are worth holding on to – and running with, for that matter! See you all on the other side of the finish line!
Are you a race ensemble planner (they do say never to try anything new race day!) or do you just throw something together day of? Do you run with friends or family, or enjoy the open road solo? What inspires you when you run? Anything fun planned for the weekend?
Back in March I had all the best intentions of taking our friends Julia and Alex to Colt & Gray in Denver. Plans change, and much like the whispering willow, I am flexible. Suffice it to say, we did not go to Colt & Gray, and since then I have been trying to find an excuse to partake! Lo and behold, it’s Foodie Friday, and this month it was my pick! Can you guess where it is I may have forced requested we go? None other than Colt & Gray!
So today I thought I would prepare myself, as any foodie fanatic would do, for the selections of the evening. It is before noon Mountain Standard time, so I thought I would peruse the dinner menu before venturing to cocktails. As it always manages to do, the charcuterie and cheese section immediately caught my eye. All I know is that I want to someday write descriptions for wine and cheese. I appreciate a fantastical turn of phrase, and fancy myself a bit of a wordsmith on occasion. So now I know if I fail at life, I too could be writing phrases like “Briny and gooey, with a robust pungent flavor. Finishes with slightly mushroom and salty flavors.” Now that is cheese with a presence. Sold.
After satiating my desire to plan ahead and appeal to the taste buds, I turned to the Cocktails and Beer menu. I rarely review wines in advance… typically I am a little overwhelmed to think about wine. So instead, I focused on my pre-dinner beverage. The list is both unique and hilarious, with appropriate references to Ron Burgundy and Sex Panther (“Contains real Panther; so you know it’s good.”). Where would we be without a few Archorman references? I, personally, have my eye on the A-Sharp (which is always better than B flat… oh wait… This one is for all the pun-appreciative musicians out there!).
I am excited to have another amazing Foodie Friday in the books, and thrilled to finally try the long-awaited Colt & Gray! Happy Friday everyone!
Any fun Friday plans? Is there a new restaurant on the menu? Do you plan out your dinners in advance or wait for the surprise?
So this past week has been a bit of a marathon (pardon my pun) as I prep for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in DC on April 27th. Thankfully I have overcome my major jitters from my first half marathon in February, but after hosting guests and overcoming the stomach flu, I’ve been a bit off my usual routine the past few months. It wasn’t until last week that I was able to revisit my usual training plan, so I am feeling a bit behind in my preparation. My standard week looks like this:
Monday: Stretch and core (primary focus on glutes, leg strengthening and core – my favorite are Michele Rogers’ videos!)
Wednesday: Cardio – typically elliptical for 30+ minutes
Thursday: Run outside for 3-4 miles (if weather is bad, I will use the elliptical for 30+ minutes again)
Saturday: Medium run 5-7 miles
Sunday: Long run 6-10 miles
Now that I have finally returned to this routine, I am hoping to get some solid miles in this weekend and taper a bit this week so as not to overexert myself prior to the race. I do, however, want to be able to keep up with my fav girlfriends with whom I am running the race! I will be running with three amazing women, the very same women who inspired me to start running in the first place! It’ll be our very first time ever running a race all together. To say that I am thrilled would be a massive understatement. In the words of my secret (but not so secret) love Neil Patrick Harris (aka Barney Stinson), “It’s going to be LEGEN – wait for it – [epic pause ensues] DARY!!!”
We’ve of course been planning this trip for months, and I am just as excited about the weekend activities as I am about the race itself. I arrive in DC Friday night, April 25th, and we plan on popping by the Expo (yay Nike gear!), then grabbing dinner in Arlington and seeing where the night takes us. The following day will be relaxed and rather fabulous. I requested a trip to a Lilly Pulitzer store. I have had to seriously sacrifice my inner, and outer for that matter, preppy by moving to Colorado, so I need to restock on some Lilly. I know I can shop online, but I am looking for more than just clothing. I am looking for an experience. We’ll also be getting some manis, followed by a light lunch. My friend Samantha thought it would be wise to then go to the new Nike and Under Armour factory outlets in Leesburg. One can never have too many options for running clothes… I think.
That night we’ll hit the hay early, but only after a fabulous dinner from my friend Justine. She is a bit of a master in the kitchen, and has a great, filling, well-balanced meal planned. The morning of, we will run our little hearts out, and my family (at least my parents, hopefully my siblings too) will be at the finish line cheering us on! Once we grab out Tiffany necklaces (I guess I can forgo a medal for a little robin’s-egg-blue box of awesome), we’ll collect ourselves and clean up a bit before heading to brunch at Masa 14. Every runner deserves a little celebration post-race, and this will be our last hurrah for the weekend.
It really is a dream come true being able to share this weekend with three of my favorite people, and definitely a bonus to actually have my family there to see me run. I was not a runner by any stretch of the imagination while I lived on the East Coast, so my family still wonders what happened to the Amy they knew. I think the moment I cross the finish line, with my friends by my side, and my family looking on, will be one of the best moments I’ve had. I know it’s one I will cherish, and I am so grateful for the opportunity!
What have been some of your favorite race moments? Is there a race coming up that you are especially excited about? Do you love running with your friends or hitting the pavement solo?
While my folks are up in Boulder for the week (boy am I jealous) I have to get back to reality for just a bit. That means work and, dare I say it, other responsibilities. I serve on the executive board for my sorority’s Denver area alumnae association, and tonight is our annual meeting. This is the day we get numerous members together, along with prospective new members, discuss the current status of the group and decide on any changes we want to make for the year ahead. We also bring items to provide for this year’s Panhellenic (the overarching body of traditional sorority chapters) philanthropy, Newborns in Need. It’s a bit like a “baby shower,” except we don’t know who the mothers are. Ladies bring diapers, clothing, toys and other necessities. It helps that it’s in April, so the theme totally works.
Now that is all well and good, but the best part about the meeting is the potluck. You have amazing women from all generations, walks of life, and coming from all parts of the country coming together with some of their favorite dishes. It’s always bound to be delectable. I, being the novice baker that I am (or claim to be), signed up to bring dessert. I was tired of heavy, wintery desserts, so I looked in my fridge and noticed I had a large quantity of lemons. Something citrusy was in order, so as per usual, I sought out advice from my all-time fav, Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa. My selection is by no means health conscious, but boy is it delicious. Besides, it’s fun to splurge every now and then (it’s all about moderation folks). So I decided to make Ina Garten’s incredibly heavenly Lemon Cake.
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 ½ cups granulated sugar, divided (I prefer Baker’s Sugar as it combines more evenly, and it dissolves more easily for the lemon simple syrup)
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 cups flour (again, for high altitude baking I use Hungarian High Altitude Flour)
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
¾ cup buttermilk, at room temperature (I substituted heavy cream, as it was what I had in my fridge – both work)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the glaze:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease and flour, or use Bak-Klene ZT Nonstick Baking Spray (works like a dream!), 2 (8 ½ by 4 ¼ by 2 ½ -inch) loaf pans. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.
Cream the butter and 2 cups of sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine ¼ cup of the lemon juice, the buttermilk/heavy cream, and vanilla. Add the flour and milk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Combine ½ cup sugar with ½ cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow them to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon simple syrup over them (because I needed to transport mine, I kept them in the pans and drizzled the syrup and glaze over them while in the pan). Allow the cakes to cool completely.
For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides. Enjoy!
What are your favorite lemony recipes? Who inspires you when it’s time to work wonders in the kitchen? What is your go-to when it comes to baking?
It’s almost the weekend! Hooray! And it’s looking to be yet another glorious weekend here in Colorado. Shocking, I know. It’ll be an even better weekend because my parents are flying in today! I haven’t seen my folks since October, and not properly since last May. I can’t wait for them to see our new home in Denver and meet their fur-grandchild, Rocco!
Because I am in such a delightful mood, I wanted to list some of my favorite things this week. I know this is a big blogger must-do, so I am jumping on that bandwagon for all it’s worth. Fridays seem to have that effect on people – we bask in what makes us most happy! So, here I go!
I have been obsessing over these shoes for the past few weeks ever since I received their e-mail. With a race on Memorial Day, I thought it’d be fun to work the patriotic angle. And now that I know NB 3190s are my all-time favorite race running shoe (i.e. Disney Princess Half Marathon, Lucky Laces, and soon to include the Nike Women’s Half Marathon), another pair is definitely in order.
To piggy-back on Samantha’s choice from last Friday, SPARKLE SKIRTS! I love sparkles. I love skirts. I love running in skirts. I love being sparkly all the time. Therefore, I love running sparkle skirts.
I knew I wanted to give sparkle skirts a try, but wasn’t sure when to test them out. I haven’t yet been brave enough to don them solo, but when running with a friend, it seems the perfect excuse. The Bake N’ Burn Bombshell and I will be sparkling our way through the BolderBOULDER. Oh yeah.
Spring in Colorado – duh! It’s amazing this time of year, and I love how much folks in this state enjoy where they live. It’s adventure season, as my coworker, Kaitlin said to me. And that is the plain and honest truth.
So what’s on the docket? Exploring Colorado Springs (don’t you like my play on words?). This weekend the parental unit will be joining the hubs and I on a little southern outing. We plan on taking the Pikes Peak Cog Railway up to the tippy top (oxygen bar thankfully included), meandering through the Garden of the Gods, and new on my list, Cave of the Winds. Having been able to enjoy Denver and Boulder, it’s time to go south!
Planning for England and Scotland! The hubs and I finally got down to planning business for our trip this September to the British Isles. We’ll be staying in London for eight days and Edinburgh for four, with a bunch of day trips scattered throughout. We finally booked our hotels and are looking into options for day trips and other reservations. I cannot wait!! This will be the hubs’ first time across the pond. He loves golf, gin and Scotch, so he’ll fit right in!
We hope to do a trip to Bath, Avebury and Stonehenge (Avebury is definitely better for viewing, but Stonehenge is pretty iconic, I guess…), Oxford, and maybe Canterbury. In Scotland, we’re planning to get in some golf (I have some serious practicing to do…) and a Scotch tasting/tour. All I know is that I absolutely cannot wait!
More races! In the spirit of race season, I signed up for more races!
Last year I attended a wedding back in Maryland while a number of my Colorado sorority sisters ran the Denver Hot Chocolate Run. It gives you the option for a 5K or 15K, and looks like an absolute blast. It’s one race series that has always piqued my interest. I signed up for the 2014 15K this upcoming October, and I know it’ll be so much fun! After reading about the Bake N’ Burn Bombshell’s Rock ‘N’ Roll USA experience, I knew I wanted to try an RNR of my own. Luckily RNR Denver Marathon/Half Marathon takes place October 19th, and I am all over the half marathon. It’ll be my first half in Colorado (at altitude – ah!) and I think this will race will be the one to do it! My ultimate goal is to run 10 races this year, and I am currently set to complete 6. There’s a bunch of great local races I am looking into in June, July and November, so hopefully I can get 4 more on the books.
Here’s to Friday and favorite things, and a great weekend ahead with family!
What are some of your favorite things of the moment? Any upcoming adventures in your future? What are you most looking forward to this weekend? Have you ever run a Rock ‘N’ Roll or Hot Chocolate run – what did you think?