Tag Archives: Family

Grown-Up Weekend

Standard

You may or may not be able to relate to this, but do you ever feel like just because you’re in your 20s, in professional school, working, or living independently, that you’re not quite a grown-up?

I’ll be 25 in December, I will begin the third year of my M.Ed. program in 25 days, I have my own apartment where I attend school, and I am planning a wedding… but I still do not feel like a grown-up.

Maybe it’s because I still call my mom to ask, “What do I do?!” for the simplest of queries.

Maybe it’s because I will wait until I’m on my death bed to see a doctor. (Though the way I hear it, a lot of grown-ups do the same thing!)

Maybe it’s because I conveniently seem to forget about appointments I’d rather not go to (e.g. the OB-GYN).

Maybe it’s because I have chosen to live with my parents (from the time I graduate in May) until Ian and I are married in October.

Whatever the reason, I, A.K., do not self-identify as a grown-up. Nevertheless, Ian and I decided to engage in some “grown-up” activities this weekend. For example, we hosted our first cookout at his apartment. We invited several close friends, including two of my favorite heterosexual life partners whom I have known since freshman year at Longwood, Rachel and Charlotte.

IMG_0620[1]

IMG_0629[1]

We carefully prepared our menu: blue cheese-infused turkey burger sliders with all the accoutrements, baked beans, and curly fries. Our couple-friends, Mark and Heather, brought one of the most delicious and unique cheese balls I have ever tasted! Plus wine. It’s definitely not a grown-up cookout unless there’s wine involved 😉

IMG_0626[1]

We asked our guests to arrive around 7, so we began preparations at 5:30. Ian had done the grocery shopping earlier in the day. As nervous as I was about someone who doesn’t eat tomato or avocado choosing the perfect ones, he did splendidly with the insanely detailed thorough grocery list I gave him.

He caught me a bit off-guard while I was trying to slice and dice the perfect little onion and tomato wedges and figure out the sliders:

IMG_0618[1]

IMG_0619[1]

[Don’t worry; I usually cut vegetables with my eyes closed, so I’m a bit of a pro.]

Ian and Mark manned the grill while we ladies waited for the beans and the fries to be ready.

IMG_0621[1]

IMG_0624[1]

The men must comment on the status of cooking meat, in addition to the size and heat of a fire, the poor gas mileage on cars, what good time they’re making on a road trip, and the score or status of any sports event imaginable, amiright?

The sliders turned out much smaller than I had anticipated and the blue cheese flavor wasn’t as prominent as I hoped, but everyone proclaimed the meal a success. I considered it a success myself afterward when everyone sat around moaning about how full they were 😉 I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I was glowing when Charlotte complimented my ability (read: luck) to have the sliders, the fries, the veggies, and the beans done simultaneously.

IMG_0625[1]

A wonderful evening was had by all! I was sad to see everyone go, but it was 11:30 before I knew it and Ian and I were fading fast. We finished cleaning up and hit the hay. Asleep by 12:30 on a Friday night? One of the most grown-up bedtimes we’ve had since I met this HSC gent.

Saturday morning, we slept in and did absolutely nothing. It was positively glorious knowing we had nowhere to be and nothing to do. Ian made me a breakfast of scrambled eggs, Chobani Flip, toast with apricot jelly, and apple cinnamon oatmeal. We did a little wedding-planning business, and then we settled in for the Harry Potter marathon. My lazy butt needed a nap toward the end of the first movie, and I awoke at the beginning of the fourth thinking, How long have I been asleep?! Turns out, the movies were being played out of order. Momentary panic.

Around 3:00, we packed up and headed to my house. We ate an early dinner and then Ian and I, my parents, my sister, and her boyfriend piled into the car for the 90-minute drive to Spotsylvania. My dad and I ran in the Spotsylvania FCHC Twilight 5k at 7:30. Ian served as my gracious photographer as I stretched, got prepped, and tried to get “into the zone.”

IMG_0634[1] IMG_0636[1] IMG_0641[1]

You probably know by now that my dad and I run races together, and we keep pace with one another. I am the watch-wearer in this relationship. Our goal for months now has been to finish together in ≤34 minutes.

We started off fairly strong with a 10:37 first mile. We lost a good bit of speed as we rounded the halfway point on the out-and-back course at 17:14. We hit mile marker two at 22:25, and I was pretty certain we weren’t going to make our PTR. To say the course was “rolling” was a gross understatement. There were some hills, man. Plus the humidity was killer.

When we rounded the last turn leaving the neighborhood and I could see the finish line in the distance, I said, “Let’s go, Dad!” and he said, “Go!” I didn’t think I had much left in me, but somehow I took off. I sprinted toward that finish line, hearing our four supporters calling my name and cheering me on.

IMG_0644[1] IMG_0646[1] IMG_0648[1]

Dad finished strong just behind me:

IMG_0649[1] IMG_0651[1]

I clocked myself at 34:36. I couldn’t find the “stop button” immediately as I crossed. The chip I wore strapped to my right ankle clocked me at 34:38, finishing 118th out of about 200 runners. Dad was clocked at 34:53, finishing 119th. According to my official time, I averaged 11:09-minute miles, so we should have been right on pace to finish within our goal.

IMG_0657[1]

As soon as I caught my breath — which I never thought I would between the humidity and pushing so hard at the end — Ian and I headed toward the snack tent for a banana (and the requisite post-race pics).

IMG_0654[1] IMG_0656[1]

After the race, we celebrated with custard from Carl’s, a Frederickburg favorite, as evidenced by the crowd snaking around the building. For a shop with only five flavors, the place sure was hoppin’ at 9:00 on a Saturday night. I was too pooped to snap pictures, but Ian and I split a chocolate sundae with chopped nuts. The custard hit the spot with my sweet tooth and wet my whistle, but it can’t hold a candle to Sweet Frog or Coldstone.

Things got a bit silly on the drive home as Rob, Caroline, Mom and I cracked up at the Instagram account @youhadonejob. If you’ve never heard of it, check it out. These ridiculous mistakes will have your sides hurting!

It was to bed early for everyone as soon as we got home at 10:45. Yet again, I felt like such a grown-up: splitting a sundae, participating in an out-of-town race, and getting to bed at a decent hour in preparation for church today.

Needless to say, it was a wonderful, fun-filled, adult-like weekend. Talk to you again soon!

What were you up to this weekend? How did you get out and move?

Family, Fun, Food and Festivities

Standard

Y’all, I am just tickled pink to tell you about my cousin’s baby shower!

IMG_0556[1] IMG_0562[1]

Krysta and Josh are expecting their daughter in just four weeks! My aunt Carolyn and my cousin Carla hosted Krysta’s shower this afternoon in Craigsville, VA. It’s a teeny, tiny town in the Shenandoah Valley, and it’s where my mom and her three siblings grew up. There is something so magical and so beautiful about family and friends coming together to celebrate new life.

IMG_0558[1]

IMG_0566[1]

All of Krysta’s sisters were able to attend the shower today! From the left on the top row are Tori, Hayley, Krysta, April, and Carmen. From the left on the bottom are Brianne and Taylor (one of my EIGHT bridesmaids! Eeeek!).

Thankfully, Krysta and Josh will have lots of help when Baby arrives 😉

IMG_0571[1] IMG_0576[1] IMG_0584[1] IMG_0590[1]

It was such a joy to watch Krysta open itty bitty sweater sets, jammies, onezies, hoodies, handmade burp cloths, personally crocheted blankets, and girly goodies.

IMG_0560[1] IMG_0555[1] IMG_0563[1]

The “Daddy’s Favorite Girl” and “I ❤ My Daddy” bibs were killin’ me! People’s generosity was overwhelming, as evidenced by the number of ladies who were able to attend the shower, and the lovely items Krysta and Josh received to welcome their new baby girl.

The food was pretty incredible, too, now that I think about it… I’m a finger-foods kinda gal. Just give me some sandwiches, a couple types of dip and fresh veggies, and I’m set! Oh, my aunt Carolyn’s homemade lemonade was to die for.

IMG_0557[1] IMG_0564[1] IMG_0581[1]

Those little mints will get ya! They’re highly addictive.

This afternoon was truly a beautiful and special occasion that I am so glad my mom, my sister and I were able to share with our extended family. Even though we had to drive nearly 2 hours each way, I didn’t mind one bit. We’ll be welcoming the newest member of our family in just a few short weeks, and I can hardly wait!

Congratulations again, Krysta and Josh — I’m sure you’ll make wonderful, loving parents for your new little girl!

IMG_0589[1]

I’m Baaa-aaack!

Standard

Goodness gracious! I haven’t blogged in NINE days! I sure have missed the blogosphere, but to be honest, I didn’t have too much to tell you guys.

As you know, I was in class for three weeks. [Hopefully, my last summer classes ever.] Then, I got home last Friday, June 28, and we left for Smith Mountain Lake at the crack of noon on Saturday. SML has been one of my family’s favorite vacation spots since I was in elementary school. Most families are either lake people or river people or beach people; I like to think we’re all three 😉

We stayed at Covered Porches, by far the most beautiful and generously furnished vacation home we have ever rented. It doesn’t take much to impress this old gal, but Covered Porches was everything I was expecting and then some. It was even the perfect size for ten people. This is depressing for me to admit, but this vacation was possibly my last full-blown family excursion before Ian and I tie the knot. Eeeeek! Mr. and Mrs. Giles going on vacation 😉

I am so grateful that Ian was able to join us for the entire week between “bouts” of med school, and so were a few college friends. It was quite the fiesta with the Lew Crew!

The weather was actually pretty crappy all week, with either rain, storms, or gloomy skies every single day. No matter; it didn’t slow us down one bit.

IMG_0443[1]

IMG_0450[1]

We spent the week laughing hysterically playing “Cheers, Gov’nah,”

organizing splash contests,

IMG_0512[1]

lounging by the lake,

IMG_0437[1]

playing Blackjack with beer bottle caps as currency,

IMG_0511[1]

tubing (which is quite a workout, by the way!),

IMG_0474[1] IMG_0476[1] IMG_0487[1] IMG_0497[1]

hunting down four-leaf clovers,

IMG_0457[1]

frolicking on the dock,

playing cornhole,

swimming and paddling around,

chatting around the campfire,

and simply enjoying the lake life.

I would be remiss if I glossed over how I ate while on vacay. I always like to think that my grad school lifestyle will carry over while I’m out of my routine, and it almost never does. I feel as though if it were truly one hundred percent my lifestyle, I wouldn’t have trouble maintaining it when I’m out of my norm. However, I also believe that sometimes it’s okay to indulge. That may not be the appropriate term to use to describe this week… Maybe gorge is more accurate. I ate my body weight in s’mores one night, and in tacos another. I also drank enough Seagram’s and Bud Light Lime to float a small fleet of battleships.

IMG_0454[1]

IMG_0434[1] IMG_0435[1] IMG_0436[1]

It’s not that my family doesn’t eat nutritiously — quite the contrary, actually. For example, one night we planned DIY mini pizzas with whole wheat shells, low-fat cheeses, and veggies galore; one night we sautéed Polish sausages with green peppers, onions, and sauerkraut; and each morning there was Chobani, oatmeal, whole grain cereals, and “skinny” bacon available. I just seemed to be a bottomless pit this week! Next week, as I always vow post-vacation, I’ll get back into the swing of things and plan delicious, nutritious meals. I’ll also jump back onto the workout horse.

That reminds me, though…

Being on vacation and being away from the gym does not equate with being sedentary in my book. Between running back and forth from the house to the dock (uphill, both ways, in the snow), swimming, canoeing, tubing, swinging, paddling, and numerous intense games of volleyball, I certainly don’t feel that I lacked for heart-pounding, BP-elevating action!

In other, completely unrelated news, one of my favorite parts of vacation with my family is that TV is hardly a thought. Unless the weather is so bad that playing outside is not an option (or the Orioles are playing ;-)), the remote collects dust. And that’s the way, uh huh, uh huh, I like it.

Well, there you have it folks. The reason for my hiatus: fun, sun, family, friends, celebration, and relaxation. After a trip to OBX, two summer classes, my sister’s 21st birthday party, a week of refresher training for my summer job, and a trip to SML, my summer may finally settle into a regular routine. Well, except for nursery duty at Vacation Bible School next week…

Also, I said I had news regarding the half-marathon my tubing buddy Lauren and I are running, and I do! Stay tuned! 🙂

#SorryNotSorry

Standard

Hellooooo, blends! Greetings from Duck, North Carolina! For the past week, Ian and his family and I have been basking in the glory of the Outer Banks.

I wish I had a series of really cool sunsets or a stingray catches or romantic-artsy pictures to show you, but really I’m just quickly checking in before dinner. I’m just not one of those people who remembers to carry a camera everywhere, or who is quick enough on the draw to capture every memory-worthy moment (#sorrynotsorry).

I apologize that I have been MIA from SWASOV for the past seven days (#sorrynotsorry), but OBX has been calling my name — and I have been answering big time!

I also wish that I had some behemoth healthy-living-while-on-vacation saga to share with you, but what I have really had are endless crab legs swimming in melted butter, maple Duck Donuts, steaks the size of Mini Coopers, local ciders, and a host of other foods that make my normal “diet” shudder with delight.

What I do have to share are a few self-surprises. For starters, Ian — who is beginning a 5k training program for a potential 5k in the fall — and I have run three mornings this week, and I have run four. Truly, before this vacation, I can honestly say I never would have pictured myself (1) setting an alarm to (2) get up early to (3) run (4) on purpose (5) during a beach vacation. Nevertheless, I could not be more proud of him for putting in 30-45 minutes each morning he ran… even if he was cussing and fussing, and I was yelling at him like a Nazi track coach.

Secondly, I have surprised myself by making instinctively healthy breakfast and lunch choices. I have chosen Chobani over a second doughnut, milk over coffee creamer, Quaker Oatmeal Squares over Apple Jacks, salad and hummus over leftover burgers, and (sometimes) baby carrots and celery sticks over endless chips and salsa. I can’t say the same about dinner, especially when fresh seafood was an option 😉

Next, I have surprised myself by reading on the beach for hours a day. Normally, I tend to let the sound of the waves and the warmth of the sun lull me to sleep. No problem there, except that I burn faster than a steak on the grill, and I drowsily sleep the whole beach day away. This week, though, I’ve been reading House Rules by Jodi Picoult, which thus far is absolutely phenomenal. I want to strike that perfect balance between reading as much as possible about a subject that interests me (autism) without growing tired of reading about it (I’m not sure that’s possible).

Lastly, I have surprised myself by being excited about setting an alarm each morning to maximize my day and my time on the beach. Dad, as someone who believes “daylight’s burnin’,” I know you’ll appreciate this one! I literally never would have pegged myself for being someone who would enjoy setting an alarm on vacation…

Anyway, I just wanted to stop by briefly to thank you for stickin’ around while I’ve been gettin’ my tan on, drinking homemade pina coladas on the beach, and (for once) reading for pleasure! After this week, my summer gets crazily busy, but regular posting should resume. Ta ta!

Looking Too Far Forward

Standard

Confession: Recently, I’ve been having a bit of trouble seeing the forest through the trees with regard to my fiance and our future.

I’ll think to myself (read: stage-whisper with contempt), If he doesn’t like eating quinoa now, he never will. 

If he doesn’t start running this summer, he’s never going to train for that 5k.

If he doesn’t make time to look at rehearsal dinner venues, we’ll never find one.

[It’s all very dramatic. Obviously.]

What it really boils down to is this: Somehow, through all my “drunk soapboxes,” low-blood-sugar-fueled-bitch-fests, and fits of frustration and selfishness, I have somehow held on to a guy who thinks I hang the moon. He’s patient, he’s thoughtful, he makes me laugh every single day, and I believe he would literally do anything for me.

So what’s the problem??

Instead of fretting that he’s a meat-and-potatoes guy who prefers French fries to quinoa, the world (most likely) isn’t going to stop turning if our carbs come from different sources.

If running isn’t Ian’s thing and his profession demands that he study from 8:00-6:00, it doesn’t affect my running schedule.

Just because we haven’t found a rehearsal dinner venue 16 months in advance yet doesn’t mean that everything is booked up. I should be thanking my lucky stars that I have a fiance who is interested in the planning, who renders legitimate and realistic opinions, and who is so much more than the stereotypical “Whatever you want, Dear” wedding-planning type.

Recently, I’ve been so focused on The Future and all of the difficult decisions and life changes it encompasses that I’ve completely forgotten to simply slow down and enjoy the moment with Ian, as cliché as it sounds.

I’ve been much more wrapped up in the “what-ifs” and the unplanned aspects of our wedding than I have the fact that we are blessed enough to have families who get along splendidly with each other; the fact that we have parents who support our life decisions and our choices; and the fact that we are lucky enough to have hard-working families who are willing to give us the dream wedding we envision.

I’ve been concentrating so much on the next time I’ll see Ian that it causes petty disputes and unnecessary bickering that sometimes ruins the few hours we are spending with each other now.

I’ve been so caught up in my own head with decisions like Rent vs. Buy and Farmer’s Market vs. Whole Foods that sometimes I literally forget that I have another year of grad school — plus that all-too-important factor called GETTING A JOB — before any of this comes into play.

I need to stop and smell the flowers, so to speak. This is my wake-up call to myself.

The point is, I need to focus on what we do have instead of what we don’t; the time we can spend together as opposed to the time we can’t; the aspects of our wedding we have planned as opposed to the minute details which can wait; and the positive, the good, and the fortune I have in my life as opposed to the things which, quite frankly, don’t matter.

I’m still a work in progress, but hey, it’s a start.

“The future depends on what you do today.” –Mahatma Gandhi

Mini Cheesecakes and a Mega Weekend

Standard

I never meant to wait this long between posts. We got Internet back five days ago, but the past few days have been a very, very busy blur. Please pardon my extra-long post in advance…

Friday was Ian’s birthday, as well as the end of his first year of medical school, as well as the day my sister and her boyfriend flew in from a week visiting his grandparents in Florida. In addition to helping Ruth whip the house into tip-top shape for the weekend, we ran approximately 3.7 million errands. Friday afternoon, Ian and I drove all the way down to Once Upon a Vine downtown for a specially created four-pack of craft beers, Ian’s choice. I knew I could’ve picked out 4 beers for him to try and he would’ve probably loved them, but his favorite part of Once Upon a Vine is the experience 😉

Friday evening, Ruth and Ian and I met Mike, Caroline and Rob (the boyfriend) at Kobe in downtown Richmond for the most delicious hibachi I’ve ever tasted. (Granted, the only other time I’ve ever eaten hibachi-style Japanese food was on a field trip in Kindergarten.)

IMG_0188[1]

IMG_0189[1]

IMG_0195[1]

For his birthday “party” and end-of-M1 celebration, Ian chose to sit around the fire pit at my parents’ house with a few friends and sip his $4-apiece craft beers. Hey, that’s easy. I’m down!

IMG_0202[1]

Saturday was all work and all play! My family hosted an engagement party for a friend I have literally known all my life, whom our mothers refer to as each other’s “first friend,” and his lovely fiancée. I love an excuse to experiment in the kitchen. Culinary whiz that I am I somehow managed to create a spicy cheese ring accented by strawberry jelly and toasted pecans; fudgy brownies with a secret ingredient (sour cream!); chopped, sliced and diced veggie and fruit trays; and miniature cheesecakes with impromptu garnishes. (By strawberry leaves* I mean the cut-off top of each strawberry, carefully removed so that each ring of leaves is still in an intact circle.) Here is the recipe I used:

Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 3 hours, 20 minutes (including refrigerating)
Makes 18 servings

What You’ll Need
1 C graham cracker crumbs
3/4 C + 2 tbsp sugar, divided
4 tbsp butter or margarine, melted
3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 C Cool Whip
1 C blueberries
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 C diced strawberries + strawberry leaves*
handful mini chocolate chips

What You’ll Do
– Preheat oven to 325°.
– Mix graham cracker crumbs, 2 tbsp sugar and butter until blended; press onto bottoms of 18 paper-lined muffin pan cups.
– Beat cream cheese, remaining sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crusts.
– Bake 25-30 minutes or until centers are almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate 2 hours.
– Top cheesecakes with a dollop of Cool Whip.
– Garnish half of cheesecakes with diced strawberries, strawberry leaf, and chocolate chip. Garnish other half with blueberries and lemon zest.

IMG_0208[1]

They sure as heck were delicious, but I never promised they’d be healthy! While cooking, I refrained from BLTs (bites, licks, and tastes).

My mom truly is an incredible cook, and she created this lavish spread for Scott’s and Chelsea’s guests. At this point, I didn’t refrain from sampling anything 😉

IMG_0204[1]

IMG_0205[1]

IMG_0206[1]

Sunday morning, Ian, Caroline, Rob and I were up early to head to King’s Dominion. The high for the day was supposed to be in the low 80s and there was a 40-50% chance of rain all day, but we decided to take our chances. The park was open 10:30-8:00, the public schools weren’t out for the summer yet, it was an overcast day, the water park wasn’t open yet, and it was a Sunday. With the odds stacked in our favor, we set out at 8:45.

We arrived well before the park opened, parked so close to the gates it was almost ridiculous, and blazed through security. In exchange for a 30-minute wait by the Eiffel Tower, we were able to ride in the front row of every coaster with a maximum of a 15-minute wait for any given ride. I think we rode the Volcano twice, Outer Limits once, Intimidator 305 twice, Backlot Stunt Coaster three times, the Ricochet once, the Avalanche once, the Dominator three times,

IMG_0220[1]

and even a few smaller rides, like the Triple Spin and the Flying Eagle — all in just 6 hours. With so few people in the park, the lines were ridiculously short. Even though I was sweating like a crackhead because of the humidity, I cannot emphasize enough how perfectly we planned our trip yesterday. For four adrenaline junkies, we rode coasters until we literally couldn’t ride them anymore.

IMG_0221[1]

And today, I finally got to sleep in, and I finally got a chance to blog. This weekend was a surreal blur, but it was completely perfect. And with that, I’m off to help prepare chicken fajitas and margs!

What were you up to over the weekend?!

Busy, Busy, Busy

Standard

Good morning, blends!

I’m penning this post on Tuesday morning, though I’m not sure when I’ll be able to publish it. We have not had Internet since Friday afternoon, hence my accidental hiatus from Sarcasm. But let me back up a bit…

On Thursday, I took my two final exams(!); afterward, a bunch of my classmates and I went out for margs and bottomless chips and salsa. I was so excited to come home, I could barely sleep. In fact, I woke up at 7:00 Friday morning, already packed and rarin’ to go.

Friday evening, Ian, my sister Caroline, and I went out to dinner at one of my all-time favorites to celebrate: P.F. Chang’s China Bistro!

DSCN0275

Probably no one out there is totally Chang’s-obsessed like I am, but I have literally dreamt about the Ma Po Tofu, the spring rolls, and the lettuce wraps.

Then, we celebrated a little more. A few of my favorite ladies from college came over to Ian’s apartment, toting Bitch Bubbly and PBR.

IMG_0076[1]

I downed more moscato than I care to admit; if it’s in the name of celebrating the end of one’s second year of grad school, it doesn’t count, right? 😉

Saturday we slept in until the very great hour of 9:00 (ha!) before heading to my house to help my parents put the finishing touches on their Kentucky Derby party. This was one of my dad’s Bucket List items, complete with an electronic spreadsheet betting system, enormous hats, and tables laden with fancy finger food.

DSCN0289

DSCN0292

DSCN0283

I placed $1 bets on Overanalyze (true to my nature) and Orb (not just saying that because he won!), respectively, and won $16.40! By the start of the race I believe there was over $220 in the pot. The big winner was one of my neighbors, who won $82 on Orb. I’m not a gambler, typically, but I could easily see how this behavior becomes addictive…

It was early to bed for all of us after a long but exciting weekend.

Sunday, it was cool and breezy downright freezing here in Richmond, but we decided to hit Arts in the Park at Dogwood Dell anyway, and we dragged Ian along. I always enjoy seeing all the different vendors’ wares, like homemade soaps and candles, handspun pottery, local artists’ tapestries, and jewelry made from natural Virginia materials.

We ate an early snacky dinner from leftover picnic and party food, and crashed in front of Myrtle Manor. Have you seen that show?!

Yesterday, we had a bit of a incredibly lazy slow start, but we (my mom, my sister and I) finally made it to the gym. I had planned to run a light 5k in preparation for the Susan Komen 5k on Saturday, but I started cramping so badly around one mile that I only made it through two. Perhaps a do-over is in order.

Well, blends, I guess that’s what I’m off to do. Hopefully you’ll be reading this soon. Ta ta!