Friday, June 28, 2013

{This Moment}

It's been a while, hasn't it?!  I'd love to get back into posting some moments from the week here each Friday.  We'll see how it goes.  And, rather than just one image, I thought it might be nice to do an image from each day.  Next week, we'll try that.  For now, here's what I've been up to this week, via Instagram
We took an impromptu trip to the Cloisters last Saturday.

Drinks at Hudson River Cafe (no river views, unfortunately).

After a very sweaty run on Wednesday.

Drinks with some of my favorite ladies in NYC's oldest bar.

This is what Roger looks like most of the time.

The remnants of a payphone, 125th St. subway.

{This Moment}

A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda Soule & many others.
Please feel free to share a link to your own moment in the comments.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Gratituesday: Ice Pops

Nothing says summer quite like an ice pop on a hot summer day.  In addition to my long-time obsession with summer, they remind me of the ones my mother used to make for me when we stayed upstate during weekends in the summer.

Since Roger and I are trying to eat a little healthier (okay, okay, he's eating a lot healthier, I'm eating a little healthier), when I was craving ice cream last week, I picked up a healthier alternative, Edy's Outshine Fruit Bars.  I was happily surprised when they became my absolute favorite thing.  I've almost finished the box of peach ones I bought, and when I do, I'll try a new flavor, but it will be hard to let go of the peach because they are so good!

They aren't quite as "all-natural" as the ones I made on my own, but they're pretty darn close, and in addition to tasting better than any I've made, they're also a whole lot easier to open and eat!  I haven't given up on making my own entirely, but for now, this is a really wonderful alternative, and when I'm coming back from a hot run, I'll take it!

I remember making them with pudding when I was a kid, but haven't tried those since, and my experiments have generally been lackluster (yogurt pops that are never quite sweet enough, lemonade pops that are too sweet, etc.).  Does anyone have any really great recipes for ice pops they love? 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Yee-Haw: Bachelorette Party in Austin, TX

Oh my, this post is long in coming!  Over Memorial Day Weekend (I know, I know), I traveled to Austin, TX to celebrate my friend Sarah's bachelorette party.  This was my first time in Texas, and we had a blast!  It was the perfect introduction to the state for me.

Friday, May 24, 2013: New York, NY to Lake Travis, TX
We flew out of JFK on Friday night, and arrived at our rental house around midnight, where we were greeted by the other girls in masks carrying drinks.  We stayed up chatting until 1am Texas time, and then tucked ourselves in to bed to let the real partying begin!

The bride decked out in western-wear.

Saturday, May 25, 2013: Lake Travis, TX
We woke up pretty early on Saturday and headed out for brunch and wine tasting at Flat Creek Estates.  The brunch was pretty good, and the winery itself is very nice.  For $45, we had the full brunch with unlimited mimosas and a tasting of nine wines in our own private tasting room.  I didn't fall in love with any of the wines, but it was interesting to try some real Hill Country wine, and the atmosphere was fun - a lot bigger than any other winery I've ever been to.  We bought a few bottles after our tasting was over, and while they wouldn't open them all for us (even though we told them we had a designated driver!), we enjoyed a few of them while sitting on the patio outside overlooking their vineyards.  It was a beautiful day and we probably would have stayed on that patio forever if it wasn't for dinner being delivered to our house.

Flat Creek Estate

Yes, this was a BIG weekend for eating.  We joked that we were eating Texan style.  After some more drinking and hanging out at the house, our barbecue was delivered.  Peete's Mequite catered our dinner, bringing brisket, ribs, salads, and the fluffiest white bread I've ever eaten right to our door.  (The white bread turned out to have been Wal-Mart brand.  Everyone thought it was the bee's knees.)  Once we were stuffed to the brim, we blindfolded Sarah and brought out our gifts for the weekend.  Each of us had bought her a piece of lingerie before the party, and on Saturday night, she opened it and had to guess who each piece was from.  If she guessed correctly, that person had to drink, but if she was wrong, she had to drink.  It was a hilarious way to get her stocked up for her honeymoon, and a game I'll definitely mention for future bachelorette parties!  We chatted and drank the rest of the night away, and really had a blast all being together with her.

Sunday, May 26, 2013: Lake Travis, TX
We all woke up surprisingly early on Sunday, and Harper cooked us a delicious breakfast using some of the barbecue leftovers from dinner.  We got ready to go to the pool and took some embarrassing photos of Sarah wearing her bikini, cowboy boots, hat, and sash which I'm too kind to post here.  Then we spent the afternoon tanning, swimming, and chatting poolside.  It was the first time I've been in a pool since last summer, and with the heat beating down on us, it was absolutely glorious.  I can't wait to get back in to the water soon, given it's been even hotter in NY this week!  Renting a house with pool access really was the way to go.  The house we rented was supposed to have lake views, but with the bad drought they've had recently (the lake was 42 feet below where it should be), those weren't so great, so being able to cool off near the pool was wonderful.  Renting a house was already great because it meant we could cook and really relax.  For a group as big as us, it was perfect!

Sarah drinking out of her bride cup with a penis straw. Classy.

That evening, we barbecued and ate some more leftovers, and then played two more games.  Callie, Alana and Elka had quizzed Matt (Sarah's fiance) a few weeks earlier about things like his favorite Disney movie, what he loves most about Sarah, and where their first kiss was.  Any time Sarah got one right, she chose someone to drink, and when she got them wrong (they were hard questions and Matty sometimes tricked her on purpose!), she had to drink.  Then, she got to turn the tables on us as she asked us questions to show how well we know her.  I'm proud to say we all did a lot better on that game than she did!

Monday, May 27, 2013: Lake Travis, TX to Austin, TX
On Monday, most people were heading back home, so we drove in to Austin and enjoyed one last brunch together at La Condesa. It was a really great spot, and we ordered their guacamole sampler, which I thought would be a little gimmicky but ended up being one of my very favorite things we ate all weekend!  They had traditional, chipotle purée & toasted almond; pomegranate, pomegranate molasses, & queso fresco and my personal favorite: jumbo lump crab, apple, & coconut vinegar.  I was less in love with their food, but their drinks were great, so it would be the perfect stop for drinks and appetizers, I think.

The whole group at La Condesa

We wandered around Austin for a bit, passing by the famous Congress Avenue bat bridge (sadly, we never saw any bats fly out), and into South Congress for some shopping and perusing.  We saw some great flea markets and a boot shop, but nothing piqued my interest.  While some of the girls stopped at Jo's for a cool drink, I headed to Amy's for a scoop of espresso ice cream and a biscoff cookie mix-in.  It was delicious, but melted far too quickly!

After we dropped off the other girls at the airport, Sarah, Alana and I headed back to the Driskill, our hotel for the evening.  If you're ever looking for a spot to stay in Austin, I'd highly recommend it.  It's very close to the capital district, and the hotel itself is gorgeous and historic.  They still have their beautiful open lobbies and lots of french doors, and it has an openness to it that a lot of modern hotels just don't.  They also have some cute detailing like cowboy wallpaper.  That evening, we relaxed in their bar, which is one of the best bars I've ever been to.  They have live music every night, and their happy hour can't be beat.  We had delicious, affordable cocktails and their bar snacks are amazing and 1/2 off during happy hour.  I had the pretzels, which were each stuffed with a different filling (my favorite was cheddar and peppercorn) and came with a different mustard.  For $3!  We spent most of the evening relaxing there, and then headed upstairs for more relaxation and an early night.

The bride and me enjoying the view from our hotel.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013: Austin, TX to New York, NY
We woke up pretty early on our last day in Austin, and took a little tour exploring the hotel some more before heading down for breakfast.  They say the Driskill's bakery is one of the best in Austin, and that their cinnamon bun is THE best in Austin.  I don't even like cinnamon buns, and this is seriously one of the most delicious things I've ever had.  We split one to start off our breakfast, and I've never tasted a pastry so light and flavorful, not even in France.  The rest of the breakfast was also quite good, but nothing compared to that cinnamon bun.

Alana models our very serious cinnamon bun

I did a bit of touristy shopping quickly after that, and then we packed our bags and headed back to the airport.  This is now the third bachelorette party I've been invited to, and while they've all be wonderful in their own ways, this was definitely the most relaxing.  It was so great to be able to spend time hanging out with friends doing our own thing, without a lot of the pressures to party that normally come with these kinds of parties.  When I'm ready to get married, I'd like to capture and relive that same relaxation, but maybe a bit closer to home.  Overall it was a wonderful, but all too quick trip! 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

National Running Day

I had a terrible run yesterday, and I'm still excited that today is National Running Day!  I run because for myself, because it makes me feel good even on the days it hurts, because it makes me feel accomplished even on the days I don't hit my goals, and because it brings me balance even on the days I don't think I can fit it in. 

Can't wait to get out there again this evening! Are you celebrating?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Weekend Wanderings: Freihofer's Race 2013

I'm hoping to write about my Memorial Day trip to Austin later this week, but in the meantime, I wanted to stop by and write about this past weekend, which I spent in Albany running the Freihofer's Race for Women. This race was actually the very first race I ran, in 2011, and so I was really excited to get back up for it after missing last year's. 

Albany Skyline
I arrived in Albany on Friday night, and met Shelby and Aprill for dinner at Inferno.  After my carb-loading nightmare of 2011, I decided to ask for a to-go box as soon as I ordered my meal, so I could put half of it away without even thinking of it.  It was a good idea, because their portions are enormous!  I ordered the stuffed eggplant parm (stuffed with ricotta and ham), and it was really delicious, but I think I'd order the regular eggplant parm next time.  They brought garlic knots to the table instead of bread (yum!) and all the dishes came with pasta (I wasn't kidding about those huge portions), so it made for a good carb-loading meal, and we had enough leftovers for dinner the next day.  We ran a few errands and then headed back to Shelby's for the night.

Pre-Race Smiles!

We woke up early and got dressed for the race.  Unfortunately, with all the back pain and physical therapy, I didn't have much chance to train for it (honestly, the only thing I'd done was one two-mile run on Wednesday), so I was pretty nervous about being able to finish.  Luckily, that worry was all for naught - I finished, and managed to run probably 70% of the race.  I ran most of the first 1.5 miles, and after that took frequent walk breaks, in part because of my back, but mostly because of the heat.  I have a history of getting sick after races, and I knew that if I pushed myself too hard, that would happen again, so I backed off myself and took breaks whenever I felt like I wanted one.  Overall, my time was 38:38.  Definitely slower than usual, but I'm really proud of it, because I was worried I wouldn't be able to run at all.  I'm glad to be getting back into running slowly, and also glad to have a great PT to help me fix my form.

After the race (and some serious stretching on my part), we headed home to shower and eat lunch.  Shelby and Mike are thinking of buying a house at some point in the near future, so we headed to the town they're thinking of buying in, and stopped for lunch at The Water Wheel, which was really affordable and had good, simple food.  I had a veggie burger and fries, and Shelby ordered their famous mini-hot dogs, which were half-size chili-dogs.  We drove around the neighborhood a bit more before heading back to the apartment, where we relaxed while watching endless episodes of The Killing.  It is so good.  Slow at first, but then we couldn't stop watching.  We ate our leftovers from the night before, and then headed out for a nightcap at The Ship's Pub, a fun bar near her apartment.  We ordered Angry Orchard ciders and people watched for a while.  It was so nice to sit on their patio, chatting and catching up.

On Sunday morning, we woke up early and grabbed breakfast at this wonderful Italian bakery, Bella Napoli, where they had beautiful piles and piles of pastries.  We ordered egg sandwiches and then ate at the cafe, which was great.  After that, we printed out some of Shelby's wedding pictures to frame, and then hung up the frames she'd bought.  They turned out really beautifully, and the system was actually really simple to hang, so that was a lot of fun.  I took the bus back home that afternoon, and while I'd had a great weekend, I was really happy to be back and to see Roger.  We've been on opposite schedules recently, so it was nice to be able to spend a bit of time together.