Why, hello fall!

Welcome to the best four months of the year.  Seriously, I’m not kidding.  Let me explain…

September: As this week proved, September is when the air starts to get a little cooler in the mornings, and night time walks with the pups require a hoodie or a fleece.  Absolute best feeling ever.  Football season has officially begun, including tailgating.  You have an excuse to do back-to-school shopping, and Hound Ears is less than a month away.

October: Now fall is in full swing, pumpkin flavored lattes, cakes, muffins, ice cream and even pancakes.  It’s everywhere, and you will never find this girl complaining about that.  You get to start brainstorming Halloween costume ideas, scouring thrift stores, and hosting pumpkin carving parties. Add in a corn maze and the North Carolina State Fair, and you’re as close to a 10 as a month can get.  Plus, it’s now officially okay to start listening to Christmas music.  Don’t even bother commenting on that one.  No one will ever convince me otherwise.

November: Halloween may be over, but the pumpkin foods are not.  Now we’re getting excited for a much needed Thanksgiving break, and a trip to the mountains.  It’s officially cold and I can start wearing my favorite hats and scarves.  Christmas music is now popping up on the radio and in malls…

December: Rejuvenated from Thanksgiving break, you’re now ready to attack the holiday season full force.  Christmas shopping, apartment decorating, holiday parties and visits with Santa at the mall.  Pumpkin is still available most places, in addition to some delicious gingerbread options.  Add in a nice 1-2 week break, and I’m loving life.  A lot.

So when it got cool this week and I got to really think about the season we were approaching I realized it was time to share a little of this joy with others.  Thankfully Jill was in town from DC, so we got a chance to start the celebrating.  Including our first high school football game of the season…


Despite the sky spitting on us all day, and throughout the night, I’m pretty grateful KIPP was playing locally.  Gave me an excuse to throw on a hoodie, brave the rain, see some of my favorite students, and witness a huge win for the Panthers!  -3 for the rain (meaning we couldn’t sit down, my toes got pretty wet, and my body took about 2 hours to get rid of my goosebumps).


HIGHLY entertaining.  Not always the friendliest of comments (hence the -1), but I loved how disproportionate our vocal presence was to our physical presence 🙂


Yup, after diving in on Thursday I’m worried the seasonal addiction has begun again.  Loved every second of this guy.

Still not over the price 😦

After some afternoon shopping at Southpoint, Jill and I headed to Cheesecake Factory for lunch.


20 minutes later she was ready to order.


I’m loving several of their vegan menu items, and decided to go with their Mushroom Lettuce Wrap.  Sauteed mushrooms with crunchy rice-like noodle guys, and giant pieces of lettuce to wrap it up in.  Seriously delicious!  And only $5.95.  Meaning I left Cheesecake Factory paying a total of $8.  Unheard of.  Even at the food court.

Was hungry a couple hours later, so not the most filling meal, but still worth it 🙂

After some serious Felicity marathon watching, and a visit to City Bev with great people, we headed out to the mountains.


I’ve heard a lot about Hanging Rock, and since visiting Blacksburg more recently I drive by the sign on the way there and the way back.  So this weekend was the time to check it out.

2 hours later we arrived.  A bit deceiving, as it was easily 30 minutes off of the highway where I thought it was going to be.  -1.

When we arrived we were presented with several options for hikes.  We went with the classic ‘Hanging Rock’ hike, a total of 3 miles round trip.  Rated ‘Moderate’, I would say that was a bit of an overstatement.  ‘Light Moderate’ would be more accurate.  There were some steep portions, but it was pretty short and not very rigorous.

This is great for an afternoon stroll, but I like to earn my views.  I also like to avoid loud children.  Especially when there are a lot.  And the more strenuous the hike, the less loud children.  And people in general.  -1.

That said, boy were the views amazing.  For an hour hike up, we were definitely rewarded with some of the best views I’ve seen since Maine last month.

Now I know you’re wondering about the last point.  See the ledge we’re sitting on right there?  Yeah, it’s a straight drop down.  Which not only makes me nervous for myself (which it does), but also for all those people I mentioned earlier.  Especially the kids.  NERVOUS. WRECK.   -1.


I love how much Murph likes to hike.  I love how tired he is after a long day of hiking (as I type, he’s sleeping next to me quietly).  And one of the reasons I wanted a dog in the first place was to take him hiking.

However, what I didn’t have in mind was him dragging me up mountains.  And then down again.

I swear I use twice as much muscle on every hike just pulling the opposite direction of him so I don’t tip over.  Case in point:

Don’t worry.  We made up once we got to the top.

Until we started hiking down, that is.

Once we finished we still had plenty of day in front of us, so we drove home (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘I’, while Jill slept like a baby in the passenger seat and Murph napped peacefully in his bed in the back of the car) and headed to the Tobacco Trail.  My new apartment complex offers free bike rentals and I’ve been meaning to try them out.  After handing over a check for $350 (which I got back as soon as the bike did) we were on the road again.


I love biking.  And you can’t beat a nice paved road with minimal hills, and good company.  I love biking with music, but I like biking with conversation even more.  Plus the temperature was PERFECT.  Long-sleeved shirt, no sweat, a nice fall breeze, and occasional whiffs of burning wood.

What a great way to end the day 🙂

Until next time, just living for the tens!


Afternoon Runs…

Slept straight through my 5:45am alarm this morning, which was supposed to lead to a nice morning jog.  After making the decision last night to sign up for the Jingle Bell 10K in December (and immediately label the next three months of my calendar with my training plan… obsessive planner?  Perhaps.)

This of course leads me to then think about where I’m going to fit my workout into my otherwise super busy day (and by super busy, I mean finding as many ways to avoid work as possible… turns out I’m just not the ‘sit at a computer all day and do work’ kinda girl).  Luckily I got an email from my MIA roommate asking if I was up for a 3pm run.

YES!  An excuse to get in my workout AND see another human.  Perfect.


Since the plan was unexpected, my 2pm ‘stay awake so I can actually get some work done’ coffee was unfortunately timed.  Had to go to the bathroom 5 minutes into our run.  Luckily the American Tobacco Trail is relatively uncrowded during the day, and I had a running partner, aka lookout.  Behind a tree I went.


Unfortunately, my running partner was not a very good lookout.  I walk out of the woods to see him way off in the distance, running the other direction.  Not only did he leave me behind, but had he seen someone coming (and there were 2 on their way towards me), there was no way to notify me.  When I rated him a 3 he began arguing the rating, so I bumped it down .5.

In his defense, maybe he didn’t know what it meant to be a lookout?


Glad I did it now.  Wanted to die then.

Will be waiting until sunset in the future.  Or fall.  It’s almost here, right?


Noah was going to attempt to make it, but, like most meals at our apartment, he realized within 3 minutes it would probably be better if he just let me do it.  So I did.

And he was right.


Noah says ‘I would give it a 9.  A swirly straw would have been nice… something a little festive, you know?’  Fair enough.


One of the many ways I attempted to avoid work today was getting a little bit better with my Nikon D40.  Thought I was doing just great until 3 hours later I decided to check my understanding with the smoothie pictures.  Clearly I couldn’t remember most of what I had learned… will need to remediate immediately.

Until next time, just living for the tens 🙂

The Wheels are Spinning…

I’ve had my bike trainer since I bought the bike, and tonight was finally the night where I decided I was GOING to set it up.


I may have dropped about four f-bombs as I attempted to get it aligned correctly, as well as dropped the bike on Murphy once.  In my defense, he was being nosy, no damage was done, and it kept him at a safe distance the rest of the workout.

I would like to never do this again.  In fact, I may need to just buy another bike so I never have to un-mount it.


Once it was loaded I got a kickass workout all while catching up on last night’s Bachelor.  Couldn’t ask for a better indoor ride (except for maybe my favorite Tuesday afternoon spinning classes), especially considering the potential of competing in the upcoming Tri-Valley Triathlon.

-1 because I now have ZERO desire to remove my bike from the trainer, so now have a giant bike taking up my somewhat tiny living room.

Oh well.


Definitely not fun to switch gears and have them all of a sudden lock up.  Worried for a minute that the ride would have to end, until…


I bought this bike when I was dating someone who was a professional cyclist (well, practically) so every time I had a problem I would just run to him and have him fix it.  This seems convenient, which it was, but ultimately it left me totally unprepared for situations like these.

It reminds me of when I dated an eagle scout and began thinking I was all ‘outdoorsy’ until I realized I had no clue how to set up my own tent or start my own fire.

So just diving in and trying to fix it on my own, and SUCCEEDING, was definitely the highlight of this ride.

Not even taking a point off for this…

Completely covering both my hands.

Until next time, just living for the tens 🙂

Birthday Countdown


There are many things I loved about this mornings spinning class with Laura.  Getting up at 5:45 in the morning was not one of them.  -2

Having to leave early to pick up Amy and drive her to school was also not one of them.  -1.

But once those two are out of the way, I’d say it was a great start to the day.  If Laura hadn’t have joined, I would have been apt to just stay in bed.  Especially after Murph gave me his ‘Why the heck are we getting up so early’ face, and then curled up in a ball under the covers.

Took me awhile to get started and work as hard as usual, but it was a great workout, and it gave me an extra hour today to get some of this end-of-semester work done.  SWEET!


I love birthdays.  A lot.  Not just my own, but everyone’s.  It’s just an excuse to be happy and celebrate, and what’s not to love about that?  So I obviously extend birthdays into an entire week (the 7 days leading up to your actual birthday), and actually just feel  a bit happier the whole month of April.  When I was teaching I always had the date on the top right corner of the board, and the entire month of April instead of the date it would say ’18 days until Ms. Smith’s birthday’ (instead of April 2), etc.  While the kids just rolled their eyes (which they did a lot at my ‘weirdness’), I loved it 🙂

So not having a white board, or an audience that’s required to pay attention to me, this year is a little bit sad 😦  Still, it’s my birthday week!


I often forget how much I hate these until I’ve hauled it around the store for 15 minutes.  Then I quickly remember how irritating it is to spend all your energy and muscle redirecting a cart.

So today when I grabbed one from the parking lot and realized immediately it was one of ‘those’ I went to the cart location to grab another one.  It was empty 😦  So I figure I don’t have to work my arms later today because this should count.


Gym Etiquette and Scented Candles


Normally I’d take at least a point off for a spinning class due to the pain that’s inevitably a part of it.  And what’s ironic, is that yesterday’s class was more painful than usual.  However, I think that might be why I’m rating it a 10.

The RPM class is a centrally created class by some big company (not sure exactly what they’re called) and gyms around the country implement them.  They train instructors, and every month or so they come out with a new ‘release’.  New music, new moves, etc.  Keeps things interesting.  The last release was at the end of January, and for two weeks after the release they have to follow the routine exactly.  Then, the instructors can mix it up a bit.

So this week’s was about 15 minutes longer than the past couple, and INTENSE.  My quads were burning already about half way through, and literally by the end I had nothing left.  Made me feel a bit better when this serious cyclist who always come felt the same way.  So it wasn’t just me 🙂

All in all, I figure, if you’re gonna show up you might as well get the most out of it.


After spinning I headed over to the astroturf (that’s right, my gym has astroturf) to Whittle My Middle.  While I definitely take out a mat and ab ball every time, it’s natural to return them both when finished.  I’m always SHOCKED by the number of people who take out mats, do their abs, and walk off without even thinking of returning it.

I’ll give them 1 point for the fact they may have just forgotten.


After class last night I headed to the grocery store to pick up some veggies.  On my way in I noticed this:

For those who have never been in my apt., I LOVE scented candles.  Especially the winter ones that smell like pine 🙂  However, they’re getting more and more expensive.  My favorites are Yankee Candle (by far the most authentic and potent) but the big ones cost $20!  I’ve found some candles as cheap as $6 or $7, but rarely ever cheaper than that.  So I was PUMPED when I found pine scented candles for only a buck at Kroger!

-1: It’s not Christmas season anymore, so they may have to wait until next year.

-1: At a price like this, who knows how many to buy???  I’ll clearly never find this price again, which indicates I should buy a lot.  Plus, they’re only a dollar, so I could buy 20 for the price of one Yankee Candle.  But who has room to store 20?  I debated this for a while and finally went with four.

-1: If I move before next Christmas (likely), then there’s now four more heavy candles with glass to pack up.

Still a great deal 🙂

MURPH’S ST. PATTY’S DAY SHIRT: 9 (what’s with me forgetting to include the actual ratings???)

At the Superbowl party last weekend Laura and Snook brought along an adorable little shirt for Murph.  Considering that his name is Murphy (it’s almost like my students knew about my Irish heritage when naming him), and it’s almost St. Patty’s Day, this was PERFECT.  Considering bringing him to an Irish Pub on March 13 to see if they’ll let him in…

We made him run around the Superbowl party wearing it, and while some might say dogs don’t like clothes, he came up to me yesterday with it in his mouth asking for me to put it on.  Clearly I couldn’t say no 🙂

-1: It’s a bit tight around his pug sized rib cage, but according to my dad it makes him look slimmer 🙂  Unfortunately after a while I think it makes him a bit uncomfortable…


O2 BodyFlow


Last night I had the best experience yet at O2 (the gym I’ve been trying out for the week).  I got a 7-day trial pass when I went in to check it out and get prices, and have used it 6 out of the 7 days in order to try out some of their large numbers of classes.  I’ve done a lot of yoga (all with different instructors to get a feel for each) as well as a spinning class and now BodyFlow.

I wasn’t exactly sure what it was going in, but it’s basically faster yoga plus awesome (and loud) music.  I love yoga for the poses and stretching, but since I’m not a particularly slow or quiet person, sometimes am stressed out by how slow it moves and how quiet the room is (that being said, sometimes I really enjoy those aspects).

So last night’s class was AWESOME!  The instructor was hands down the best I’ve had so far, with a ton of energy and incredibly positive (plus great taste in music).  I also loved how encouraging she was (sometimes you need that when it’s hard).

So the class started with Tai Chi (which I really liked) and each track was a different theme.  One was abs, one was sun salutations, one was back strengthening, one balancing, etc.  It was nice to know when doing the really hard ones you only had a song’s worth.  Worked my body like WHOAH, but also incorporated yoga poses and stretching which I loved.

Overall GREAT experience.

-.5 for my smelly feet.  I wore my sneakers in without socks (something I do way too frequently when I’m going to yoga and know I’m taking them all off) and some of the poses put me a bit too close to them…)

-.5- at the end when we did meditation for about 5 minutes she gave us the option of putting on more clothes (which they usually do) but I didn’t want to get up so passed.  But it got really cold during the last 3-4 minutes messing with my mediation.

*NOTE: none of the points I took off had anything to do with Lorraine (the instructor) or O2, so I’m pretty positive this has awesome potential for a 10 next time 🙂

My First Spinning Class


First of all, I expected it to look like this:

It did not.  Unfortunately there were no colorful, crazy lights, or serious techno music.  Have I mentioned before how much I love techno music?  And how it’s responsible for two of my three speeding tickets?  So I was pumped about an opportunity to use it for good rather than evil.

Instead I found a rather small room with about 30 bikes, one posed up front for the instructor, and just dim regular lighting.  The music was loud, which I loved, and had a fast beat, which I also loved, but not the kind of techno music I’m into (-1).

PLUS, I found out afterwards from Paul that apparently some places have big screens behind the instructor with pictures of mountains and landscape to make it feel more real.  That would have been AWESOME. ( -1)

Now on to the actual workout…

At first I thought I was tough cause I was totally hanging, but about halfway through the 30 minute class I started to drag.  I liked that you could control your own resistance, but I chose the bike right in front of the instructor (-1) so I felt like she was watching me everytime she said (or yelled really) ‘TURN IT UP!’.  So I had to turn it up.

And then I nearly died. (-1)

Luckily, I survived.  And found out at the end that in a 45 minute class (the normal length) people burn on average 800-900 calories.  1300 (on average) in an hour class.

So, I think I’ll give it another go cause I did feel pretty good after I got off the bike and stopped beating up my legs.