28

Today is my 28th birthday.

I love celebrating birthdays, and I am not working today, so I have some good activities planned–starting with my annual birthday run.  At some point in my early 20’s, I had the idea that it would be really cool to run my age on my birthday every year… but quickly decided I was already too old for that to be a good idea. 😉  I just go for a comfortable, enjoyable run now.  The rest of the day will be packed with reading on the back deck in this gorgeous spring weather, visiting the greenhouse and planting a few flowers, and tonight going to our local trampoline gym and dinner with friends!

Yep, 28 is off to a good start.  As I look back over the last year, I must say: 27 was very good to me.  Here are some of the highlights of 27, in no particular order:

-Ran some great races, and PRed in the 5k and 10k:

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-Celebrated 1 year of marriage with Andrew:

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-Filled this garden plot with seeds and dreams:

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-… and watched it turn into this:

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-Spent time on retreats and mission trips with the amazing teens in my youth group:

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-Hiked to my heart’s content (almost ;-))

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-Spent lots of time playing outside:

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-Celebrated with friends getting married:

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-Put my wedding dress back on and pretended I was getting married 😉

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-Traveled to Jamaica:

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-Traveled to Colorado: 

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-Most importantly, spent lots of time with family and friends:

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I am incredibly thankful for the year behind–really, it was kind of an epic year in terms of everything I had the opportunity to do–and can’t wait to see what the year ahead has in store!

Have a great March 11, everyone! 😀

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2014 Goals + New Year’s Day Cuisine

Happy 2014 (a few days late)!

I know some people are vehemently against New Year’s resolutions, and I don’t totally understand that.  The first of January provides a great, if only symbolic chance to start fresh and dream about what life might look like in the coming year.  It’s as good a time as any to make a change, so why not?  Why wait for the sake of rebelling against the tradition?

At the beginning of January I like to set goals rather than make standard resolutions–they might be functionally the same, but goals seem more attainable and specific than resolutions, which I tend to think of as more vague concepts (“Put 20% of my paycheck into savings” rather than, “Save money.”)

Here are some of my goals for 2014:

1. Run 750 miles. I’ve never tallied my mileage over the course of an entire year, but at roughly two miles per day, this seems attainable.

2. Run a marathon.  This was on my list of 2013 goals, and it just didn’t happen (I did, however, run three races last year, which was another goal :)).  If I succeed at this, running 750 miles during the year should be no problem!

3. Perform one random act of kindness every week.  Preferably anonymously.

4. Write three highlights of every day.  I purchased a small planner that has room to write something for each day, and I plan to journal at least three high points daily.  I am already really looking forward to having the completed journal at the end of the year and being able to reflect on all the good times.

5. Cook dinner for other people once a month.  I love cooking.  I love sharing food with others.  Friends–come over for dinner, and let us love you by cooking you (hopefully) delicious food.  😀

So far I am off to a good start:  On New Year’s Day Andrew and I ran 3.5 miles (this was a big deal as Andrew does not enjoy running; half a mile in he said, “Are you ready for me to start complaining yet?” ;-)), I’ve written in my journal/planner each day, and Wednesday night our friends Amanda and Diron came over for a New Year’s Day dinner!  We made a rosemary-garlic pork tenderloin, baked apples, black-eyed peas, and collard greens & kale.  (I don’t think of myself as a typical Southern girl, but my family definitely has some Southern traditions when it comes to food.  We also eat oyster stew on Christmas morning.  Anyone else? :))  I forgot to take any pictures on NYD, but thankfully we had most of the leftovers for dinner last night, minus the pork which Andrew finished for lunch.  Here’s the modified leftovers meal:

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Collard greens & kale, baked apples with butter and brown sugar, black-eyed peas with tomatoes, and lemon-thyme chicken

Not a bad start to the year. 🙂

-What are your goals or resolutions for 2014?
-Does your family have any interesting food traditions around the holidays?

Thanksgiving and the Beginning of Christmas

Hello, friends.  I took a little blogging break over the last week and a half–not intentionally and not for any real reason.  I simply didn’t feel like blogging.  Anybody else ever have a period like that?  I am back now, and here’s what we’ve been up to over the last couple of weeks:

Thanksgivings
Andrew and I spent the weekend before Thanksgiving with his mom’s side of the family in Northern Virginia.  Andrew was in Heaven because, due to lots of food allergies in the family, everything on the table was gluten-free dairy-free (or had a GF DF equivalent), so he could eat anything and everything! 

We made a Pin-spired vegetable turkey with the cousins:

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 And went for a tractor/wagon ride between dinner and dessert:

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And because blogging was so far out of my mind, those are the only photos I took. :-/  It was so great to visit with family, eat good food, and relax!

We spent Thanksgiving day with my family at my mom’s house and, as is customary on Thanksgiving, ate too much. 🙂  I love my family, and  it’s always so good to spend time with them and laugh–usually at something one of the nieces said. 

For example, while we were all sitting around the table, sweet little Lauren (4) looked at me, then Andrew, and said, “Umm, you guys were supposed to get a baby when you got married.” 😀  I couldn’t tell if her tone was suggesting that we were cheated or that she was cheated (out of a cousin), but it was very funny.  Thanks, kiddo. 😉 

Once again, I took very few photos :-/  Here’s the sweet potato casserole that we made and a plate of the leftovers I had for lunch Friday:

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Yum 🙂  My absolute favorite Thanksgiving food is my mom’s broccoli casserole.  So cheesy.  So delicious. 

Christmas Tree Farm
Yesterday Andrew and I ate brunch and went Christmas tree shopping with our good friends Amanda and Diron. 

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As it turns out, we were way too picky, and neither couple found a suitable tree, but we had an awesome time walking around, taking a hay ride, and drinking hot cider. 😀

It’s going to be tough to go back to work today after the long, relaxing weekend!  Have a great Monday!

Question for WordPress users: A couple of weeks ago my computer decided to stop letting me use Google Chrome to write blog posts (in the visual mode), and I have since been confined to using Internet Explorer (which randomly deletes paragraphs, resizes photos, reformats the post, etc.  It’s pretty awesome.)  Has this happend to anyone else with Chrome?  Is there any way I can fix it??

Breckenridge and Hiking Cheeseman Canyon (Colorado Days 2 & 3)

We’ve been home from Colorado for about 32 hours now, and I am thoroughly jet-lagged and exhausted–the good kind of exhausted. The kind of exhausted you feel when you pack a lot of awesome things into a few days. 🙂  Here’s what the next few days of our trip entailed:

Day 2: Breckenridge
On Friday we drove deep into the mountains to the adorable little skiing town, Breckenridge.  These were some of the views as we drove:

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It didn’t even look real!  So beautiful.  Once we arrived in Breck, we spent hours walking up and down Main Street exploring the shops…and being the big kids that we are. 😀 

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The hat shop was a particularly good time 😀

Day 3: Hiking Cheeseman Canyon

On Friday night, Andrew’s friend and best man Kevin arrived.  Kevin’s sister Julie lives with Jenny, so it worked out well that the five of us could pile into one apartment for a weekend of best friend/family fun. 🙂  Saturday we all went hiking–Andrew later declared it, “Probably my favorite hike ever!”  It was, in fact, a pretty beautiful hike, with the trail following a canyon river. 

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So nice 🙂  One trail ran about 50 feet (?) above the river and had mini trails that led to a lower trail immediately beside the river.  We switched between the two throughout the hike and determined that we covered about six miles total.  While we didn’t gain much elevation overall, the trail was very up-and-down–I could feel it in the calves! 

That night we met up with our friend Ashley for dinner–Ashley is a good friend from Virginia who moved out to Denver about five years ago, and we love that we are able to see her somewhat regularly now!  Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos. 

I always say (and have written numerous times on this blog) that if I lived within 15 minutes of a mountain I’d hike every day.  After hiking Thursday, walking around Breckenridge Friday (we covered some serious miles), and hiking Saturday, I began to question that declaration.  My legs were achy.  (I don’t know why I made that past tense;  we didn’t slow down Sunday or Monday, and my legs are still achy. :)) 

I will save our last day and a half for another post, but they include Andrew’s birthday and (wait for it…) more hiking. 🙂

Have a great Wednesday!

Hiking: Humpback Rocks + Dobie Mountain

Hiking is good for my soul.  Apparently it’s good for my heart as well, because we hit the mountains Saturday, and I didn’t have a single heart palpitation all day.  Nature for the win!

Andrew and I went with our friends Evan and Kristina;  Evan is one of my coworkers, and we’d been talking about all going hiking together for a while.  It was great to finally make it happen!  Kristina’s sister and her boyfriend drove up from Virginia Tech and met us at Humpback Rocks.

This hike, which is one of our favorites because of the awesome views and close proximity to home, is always steeper than I remember.  There was very little conversation happening for the first 15 minutes or so :-D.  The ascent to the overlook is only one mile though, so before long we were looking at this:

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After we reached this overlook, we decided to continue hiking–the trail meets up with the Appalachian Trail pretty quickly.  Humpback Rocks shares a parking lot with another hike we’ve done recently–Dobie Mountain–and the two are connected by the AT.  Now, we had never done the combined hike and weren’t sure exactly how many miles of AT stretched between the two, but the group decided to give it a try.

This section of the AT (going north) was beautiful–mostly downhill, lots of pretty leaves, and lots of switchbacks.  So many switchbacks… none of which were visible on Google maps (yes, the AT is on there!), so when we’d been hiking for 15 minutes and I said, “We’re just about a mile away from the next overlook,” I was very wrong.  About an hour later, we were…one mile from the overlook.  My bad, guys. 🙂  Eventually we made it, and it was worth the extra miles:

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The whole gang

By the time we made it out of the woods, I think we’d hiked about six miles.  Not too shabby!

Hiking just makes me feel alive, and as I previously mentioned, it seemed to quiet the frequent heart palpitations I’ve been having lately.  Plus, we had great company this weekend, which made the day even greater!

Where have you hiked lately?
What was the highlight of your weekend? 

Late Wedding Photos + This Week Randomness

This week has been a bit hectic, so I haven’t had much time to blog.    Here’s a quick recap of our week, as told mostly by the photos on my phone:

1.

Jenny1Andrew’s sister, Jenny, is in town from Denver this week, and it’s been so great to spend time with her!!  In the photo above, Andrew is giving her the extensive tour of our garden.  We’ve also been able to do dinner a few nights, and we convinced her to come to yoga with us last night. 😀  We love you, Jenny!

2.

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For date night dinner Saturday we opted for (mostly) convenience– Applegate Farms chicken tenders (GF nuggets for Andrew), Alexia spicy sweet potato fries, and roasted beets.  Mmm.  I love to cook, but sometimes you just need to pull a box out of the freezer.

3.

heart monitor

I’ve been having weird heart palpitations the last few weeks, so I went to the doctor on Tuesday to get it checked out.  It’s probably nothing serious, but they hooked me up to this lovely heart monitor (there are five more electrodes stuck to me in places you can’t see…all I can say is, “TGISS”–thank God it’s scarf season. ;-)) I had to wear it for 24 hours and record when the palpitations occurred and very specifically what I was doing.  How did my dear, loving Andrew respond to this?  He tried to do as many weird things as possible so that if a palpitation occurred I’d have to record, “Having my face licked,” or “Watching my husband dance with a shirt tied around his head.”  (He did not succeed, so I did not have to write anything weird :-D).  Anyway, I should get the results within a week, but, again, I’m not super worried, so you shouldn’t be either (I’m talking to you, Daddy ;-)).

4.

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If you read this blog regularly, you probably know that I love goats and that there is this beautiful park in Richmond (Maymont) that has goats and other animals.  My friend Kate and I walked there yesterday for exercise and to enjoy the fantastic fall weather.  In addition to the goats, we were able to see the bobcat, which I had never seen there before!  It usually stays in the indoor part of its habitat.  Very cool. 🙂

Kate took our late bridal/wedding photos a few weeks ago, and she gave me the disc with all the photos yesterday when we got together.  They. Look. Awesome.  Here are some of my favorites (sorry in advance for the photo overload) :

Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey  Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey

Catherine & Andrew Storey

Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey   Catherine & Andrew Storey  Catherine & Andrew Storey

A huge thanks to our friend Katie for giving us this photo shoot as our wedding gift, and thanks to Kate for being so talented and working with us!  After doing this, I think everyone should take after-the-fact wedding photos–no wedding day stress, no rush to get to the reception so guests aren’t waiting, a chance to put that dress back on… 🙂  Yeah, we waited a while to actually take them, but we don’t look that different from our wedding day, and I know ten years from now we won’t be able to notice the 1.5 year age difference.

You can check out more of Kate’s work here.

That’s been our week (so far) in a nutshell.  Have a great Thursday!

-Has anyone else taken late bridal portraits/wedding photos?
-Heart palpitations: have you ever experienced them?  Were they anything serious?

Paddleboarding, Disc Golf, and Friends

Did this weekend fly by for anyone else?  Andrew and I had an action-packed couple of days–which is just how we prefer our weekends (usually).

On Friday our good friends Gabe and Jeff invited us over for dinner.  We cooked a delicious and healthy meal of grilled chicken kebabs, rice, and stir-fried veggies:

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After dinner we hung out, talked, and played a little Dance, Dance Revolution.  It was my first time playing (I know…I’m way behind), and I was terrible.  Notably bad.  During one game, just as I said, “I am killing it right now!”,  the word, “FAILED” crossed the screen.  Oops. 😉

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Andrew was slightly better than me…

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We just love these guys 😀

On Saturday my church had a huge craft show + used book sale, with all proceeds going to the youth ministry (yay!)  The event was a huge success–there were so many awesome vendors, food trucks, thousands of books, and pumpkins.  So. Many. Pumpkins.

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I am tremendously grateful to the group of moms and other women who coordinated this event for the benefit of our youth!

Early Sunday morning, Andrew cashed in on one of his Christmas presents from me: a guided Stand Up Paddleboard trip down the James River.  We let the summer get away from us, so we decided to take advantage of the out-of-character-for-October hot weather we’ve been having.  Unfortunately, we could not bring a camera, as it most definitely would have been ruined by the water, but the morning was beautiful, and the adventure was SO much fun.

The trip was through Riverside Outfitters, and because we were the only two people on this particular trip, we had a private tour guide. 😀  We started on flat water to get our bearings, then moved through a series of rapids.  Andrew may or may not have fallen in the river a couple of times, but our guide did as well.  Me?  I think my low center of gravity (i.e. my general shortness) helped me keep my balance, so while I dropped to my knees a few times, I never actually went in the water.  If you ever get the chance to do a downriver paddleboard trip, take it…It was such a blast!  And my chest and arms are only slightly sore today from all the paddling :).

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Looking awesome post-river 😉

Sunday afternoon we played disc golf with a group of friends from church at a local park.  In spite of the freak 90-degree October day that was yesterday, we had a lot of fun.  We also had a lot of back sweat.

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We wrapped up the weekend with youth group, turkey tacos, and an episode of Once Upon a Time.  It was a whirlwind weekend, with little time between each event, but we packed in a lot of good stuff. 🙂

Have a great Monday!

Have you ever tried stand up paddleboarding?