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Archive for the ‘Trips’ Category

Fitbloggin: The Aftermath

Well, Fitbloggin is over, and it’s back to real life. Like any good time, the weekend ended with a bang.

After the closing reception Saturday, I headed back to my room for a little rest and relaxation. I was completely worn out from sitting all day.

Stacey and I hung out and had some downtime, checking out the views and whatnot.

I had plans for dinner with Maya from American Gourmande and Anna of Blue Plate Special, but unfortunately at the last minute Anna had to cancel because she needed to get back to DC. Maya brought her friend that was in town though, so we had a party of three for dinner anyway!

Unfortunately I was getting rather sick of lugging my SLR around town, so I have no pictures of this event. Just know that we ate Lebanese food and it was awesome.

After dinner I met some of the other girls out and we, as Caitlin put it, ‘tore up the Inner Harbor’.

***

Sunday morning, Stacey got up for yoga, but I was feeling lazy from my early wake up the day before, so Katy and I hung out until around 8, and got ready for breakfast.

Starbucks was just a quick walk around the corner, so I had a breakfast of coffee:

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+ coffee cake

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=

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The perfect equation, in my mind.

We headed back to the hotel to pack up so that we could have a few hours to explore and play, because the day was FABULOUS.

By the time we were packed + checked out, it was nearly lunch time, so Savvy Julie, Kacy, Stacey and I headed to Pizzazz, a little tuscan grille that we saw on the harbor.

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We were pleasantly surprised to find that they had a vegan menu alongside their regular menu!

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We quickly made up our minds on the hummus appetizer for a starter.

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One can never have too much hummus, I believe is the saying. [Or did I just make that up? One can never tell.]

I, along with Kacy and Julie, thought that the black bean burger sounded stupendous, and it did not disappoint.

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And it had MORE hummus. The hummus at this place was nearly unbeatable.

We were offered vegan desserts, which we jumped upon. I mean, who does not jump upon the offer of vegan chocolate cakes?

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Peanut butter + mint chocolate, respectively.

Splendid.

As was the view.

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Okay, a large yacht was blocking our view, but just being on the water was fantastic.

After lunch we did some exploring for a few hours, just drinking in the gorgeous weather.

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Interestingly enough, this ship is the last surviving vessel from Pearl Harbor.

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Stacey spotted a HUGE Barnes and Noble, so we could not resist.

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After leaving the bookstore, we walked along the harbor the the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse, which was moved to solid ground and is now a historic landmark.

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It was really cute inside and filled with lots of cool things.

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We discovered that the first woman lighthouse keeper actually worked in this lighthouse, as well as pictures of the original location and the moving process.

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I found this hugely fascinating, nerd that I am.

The view from the windows and deck was so awesome, because you could see all around the harbor and surrounding city.

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Unfortunately, after our exploration of the lighthouse, it was time to head back to the hotel and gather our bags to catch the next cab heading to BWI airport.

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Goodbye, lovely amphitheater that I want to attend a concert at one day!

Our flight was thankfully on time, but the lines at BWI were cuh-rahzy, so we did not have a lot of downtime, even though we got to the airport like an hour and a half before our flight.

Despite a little turbulence, a plane packed to THE GILLS, and sitting on the tarmac for half an hour, we made it back to Charlotte safe and sound, where I said my goodbyes to Stacey and my hellos to my dear fam.

Meredith + Linden picked me up and took me back to Mama D and Pops, where we had a bit belated birthday celebration for Meredith’s 22nd birthday.

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Cake on fiyah!!!

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Cake on a plate!

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Chips on a plate!

I was STARVED, because I suddenly realized that I had not eaten since my lunch in Baltimore, so I piled my plate high. I was also TIRED, so after an hour or so of family time, I headed back home to where I belong, unpacked, showered off the travel dust, and hit the sack before I could blog.

And it’s Monday all over again.

****

Edited to add: I still have people wanting my notes from the conference [and I took a lot] so I have consolidated them to one Google Doc folder, which can be found here.

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Fitbloggin: The Conference

Let me start out by saying Fitbloggin has the most awesome swag EVER. Yesterday morning we did a 5k run in new shoes from New Balance, who also gave us running shorts. New Balance pretty much rocked this conference.

Love my shoes!

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They were super comfy, and well cushioned for a stability shoe, but they are comparable to a shoe a level below my Asics, and did not have quite enough support for me to wear them running. I’d totally wear them to the gym for a strength training work + elliptical though!

Afterwards, Quaker served us breakfast.

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TONS of toppings!

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Pecans, craisins, brown sugar and honey!

The first session I attended was Blogs, Accessibility and SEO: Dispelling the Myths with Scott Stawartz

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It was really useful and informative, especially since I know nothing about SEO.

Savvy Julie was there!

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I loved meeting her, she is so sweet and genuine!

We had a quick break afterward, followed by the second session, of which I picked WordPress: From .com to .org with Jim Doran.

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Jim was a great speaker and I really enjoyed learning the ins and outs of WordPress and what you can do with it.

Lunch was next on the agenda, and I was totally impressed with the selection!

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I had a chicken panini with steamed veggies on the side and a spinach salad that was divine!

For dessert there was a selection of fresh fruit + jello.

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I had both. 😉

The weather was fabulous, and a few of us were dying to get out, so we took a quick walk around the harbor.

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Baltimore is so pretty right now. Love all the water. And sunshine.

After the walk we met back in the lunch room for some announcements.

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I thought this was cute.

I chose to go to Beyond the Blog: Getting Published, which was amaze.

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I loved hearing everyone’s ‘getting published’ stories, as well as advice from agent Linda Konner.

Between sessions I grabbed an orange + coffee to snack on.

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I kept my seat from the last session and stayed for Making Money on Your Blog: Could You, Should You, Would You?

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The panel of speakers were really interesting, but I don’t believe I will be making a living from blogging any time soon. The tips were really useful, and it was interesting hearing from people who did make a living from blogging.

That rounded out sessions for the day, and everyone headed to the main room for the keynote speaker followed by a reception by Jell-O.

I grabbed some free sushi and a cute Jell-O cup.

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I never eat Jell-O, but I had it twice yesterday because it was served so freaking adorably.

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Love it.

All in all, Fitbloggin had it goin’ on. Great food, great people, great speakers…Can’t wait for next year!

****

PS: All my notes from the sessions I attended have been posted to my twitter. I know several of you guys that could not attend wanted them. If you can’t find them, just e-mail or tweet me and I will send you the link!

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Why hello…

Baltimore! I’m here!

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I love cities. Like LOVE. I think I am city girl at heart. But then you take me away from my family and horses and I get a bit sad. So conflicting.

I actually made use of our blender yesterday [I know, crazy!] and had a green brown smoothie.

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Chocolate goodness.

  • banana
  • strawberries
  • spinach
  • chocolate protein powder
  • chocolate pb

It was a double shot.

After I slammed that, I headed to Mama D’s so she could take me to the airport. I went ahead and checked in my flight and baggage while I was waiting for the kids to get ready [Cecily, what?]. Thank God, because I had like –5 minutes to catch my flight when I got to the airport. Ran to my flight I did.

The best part of that whole scenario? The kindly old man at the baggage check informed me that my clothes ‘might not make it’. Frick.

Our flight was only an hour and fifteen minutes, but I spent it praying that my bag had made its way onto the plane with me.

After landing, Stacey and I made a beeline to baggage claim, to see if my worst fears had been recognized. NOPE. My red suitcase was sitting on the conveyor belt. I’ve never been so happy to see that nasty thing in my life.

We grabbed the next shuttle going to our hotel and who was on it? ALI from Food, Fitness, Fashion! We screamed so loud that Stacey assumed there was a spider or something in the van. Nope. Just crazy bloggers.

Good thing we met up with Ali, because she was rooming with Caitlin and Anne P. who were on their way from DC with our other roomie Katy. So we had a tapas party/happy hour.

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$5 tapas?!?! Why, I don’t mind if I do.

Ali and I shared the first three tapas which were DIVINE. I want foodie places like this in Charlotte. That’s what is so freaking awesome about big cities.

We started with the Salmon Asian Tartare on Sushi Rice.

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Party in your mouth. There were so many flavors invited to this party, too.

Stacey + Ali got beers, but I’m not a beer girl.

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Give me a pretty drank though, and I love it.

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obvs, since that is nearly gone.

Next up on the tapas menu was the Scallop on Corn and Goat Cheese Polenta.

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Heaven. Cheese anything is heaven though. I think heaven is going to be paved with cheese. Cheese is golden, right?

We weren’t done yet, so we ordered up the Shrimp and Tropical Fruit Seviche.

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More flavor party going on! SO GOOD.

We headed back for registration, which included FREE SHOES [more on that in my next post], free shorts and a mini oatmeal bowl. I love.

Prettied up.

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LOVE my shoes. From Marshalls, of course. Any excuse to wear hot shoes and a dress, I jump on.

We went up to the POM cocktail party for some socializing and fun.

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Love these girls! Katie, Cara, Kacy and Stacey. Sweethearts. I was so excited to meet Katie, Cara and Kacy. Stacey, of course is my roomie and travel buddy, so we’ve already met. 😉

Hideous picture of myself and Anne P.

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But I adore her, so I had to post. For a much lovelier photo, you can go to her blog.

Dinner was had later, and it involved homemade chips. I cleaned my plate and went to bed.

The end.

[with more to come, of course.]

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Snow Day!

I found myself up to my ankles in snow this afternoon!

Where was I?

Not here, that’s for sure!

We saw nothing but rain all night last night despite our high hopes of a large snow fall. Just like always, our snow dreams were dashed.

But luckily Stacey and I had made plans to drive up to Winston-Salem and spend the afternoon with Megan.

They got 6-8 inches up there, just an hour and a half north!

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We immediately set to work making a SNOWMAN!
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And Megan’s mom set to work photographing the process! Thanks Megan’s mom! 😀

I quickly found out that neither Megan nor Stacey had ever made a snowman. I was quickly promoted to being ‘snowman instructor’.

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Luckily they caught on quickly and before we knew it we had a HUGE snowman!

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Presenting PHIL!

 

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I could eat his face, he is so cute!

After snowman making it was time for snowball making!

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And of course snowball fighting!

Snowball fighting of course leads to snow angel making!

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And snow angel making to hot cocoa drinking!

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[and cookie eating! Megan made the BEST cookies with SNICKERS! inside]

We warmed up in front of the fire, and chatted about life…and boys…and running.

It was so fun to catch up with Megan, who I haven’t seen since the Healthy Living Summit in Boston this August; hang out with Stacey [always fun!], and show off my superior snowman making skills [thanks Dad!]

Thanks for having us Megan! 😀

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Thanksgiving…it’s sort of a tradition [if you can call every so often a tradition] for my sisters and I [and friends too!] to plan a little trip over the long weekend. The rules:

1. Within driving distance

2. [Hopefully] somewhere we haven’t been.

3. Have fun!

Well, we hit all those rules with our trip this weekend, although rule #1 is questionable by at least two of the three of us. 😉

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After eating Thanksgiving dinner at our grandmothers, Linden, Meredith and I set out for Nashville, Tennessee!

After stuffing our bellies with turkey n’ taters we were ready to go!

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Or as ready as one can ever be to spend 9 hours in very tight quarters with this crazed character friends and loved ones.

We did spot the most gawjuss rainbow on the way out there though!

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[Not sure if this was before or after the 1.5 hour detour ‘round a rockslide on I-40!]

We arrived in Nashville at approximately 11:30 pm. This was after gaining an hour [Central Time!] and leaving at 3:15 from Charlotte. You do the math. It was a looooong time. Anyway, what else would one do after spending that much time in a car? Why drive around more obviously. After checking into our hotel, us cracked out cuckoos decided to cruise around and find a mall or something to hit up the next day.

We did.

Actually it was something MUCH better than a mall.

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That’s right! WHOLE FOODS!

After marking the co-ordinates in our GPS so we could find our way back the next day we went back to the hotel for enough sleep to recharge our batteries. It was Black Friday after all!

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After cruising the most glorious Anthro EVER + many other [out of our budget] stores, we headed to the Whole Foods to hit up the salad bar.

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$8.11 worth of greens + $4.00 worth of glorious taters. I was in heaven.

And you know I didn’t leave with out making my own nut butter. 😉

Or sampling the gelato.

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Can you say Whole Paycheck? I did. Better yet, I spent it.

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Also checked out this lovely, and dropped a few cents there. Mama D. loved the handmade soaps though, so it was well worth it.

We did eventually find a mall, and Express + Victoria’s Secret found our credit cards. Ouch.

I love Black Friday.

Friday night we did not do much. We glammed up.

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We are such neat travelers. Hotel maids adore us.

Ha. I kid, obviously.

Then we hit up the downtown area.

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So pretty!

We went onstage at the Opry.

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Or at least pretended to.

Mere and Lin put on a fashion show.

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ow ow.

The cowgirl in me wanted this jacket.

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But it did not want me.

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I’m still recovering from the sticker shock.

And since Linden is being a pain about turning 21 [would you just do it already!] we ended up at some joint called The Wildhorse Saloon to spend the rest of our evening. It was the tourist thing to do. It also cleared out by midnight, so we peaced out as well.

But not before I kissed Elvis in the street.

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I’m such a groupie.

Also Harold and Kumar may have gone to White Castle at some point.

Saturday morning we awoke late. Cause we were on vacation like that.

If you were to ask me what we spent Saturday doing, I would be hard pressed to tell you. We just were seeing the sights and the countryside. I drove. I did not take pictures.

But Saturday night…

Well first we had the best barbecue.

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Linden and I shared this dinner.

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Monster fry.

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Meredith ate this kid’s meal all by herself. Except for a few fries. I ate some of those. I’m a sucker for a shoestring fry.

After dinner, we figured we weren’t all dressed up for nothin’…

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So we went to the OPRY!

 

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Hands down, the cutest place EVER.

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No kidding…this may have been the most fun thing I have ever done in my life. I always knew I was born a few years too late. 1940 is where I belong.

The show was really fun, and included some modern country stars [Brad Paisley, Jimmy Wayne, Lorrie Morgan] and some bluegrass stars [Cherryholmes] as well as a few Opry regulars. I didn’t know any of the performers other than the country stars, but I enjoyed it all. And I wanted to bring one of the hosts home with me in my pocket. He was precious. But sadly, I was wearing a dress.

Sunday was the day to go home. I kind of didn’t want to leave with out seeing a celebrity.

So we headed to Fido, ‘cause we had heard that some might be hanging out there.

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Look who was there!

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Heaby and Amanda!

I was so excited to meet these girls, but sad that Mandy couldn’t meet up as well. Her daughter was sick, so she had to cancel. Maybe next time, Mandy!

Anyway, I had a fabulous time meeting Heather and Amanda. We chatted like old friends, and it was fantastic. I love meeting bloggie friends! I could talk for hours about Whole Foods and peanut butter…but you already knew that!

After our coffee date we went back downtown ONE more time, so Linden could get a few more shots. And well…I just didn’t want to leave. 😉

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[I spy a real photographer and a fake photographer. Can you tell which is which? 😉 ]

I wanted to stay with this guitar.

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I could tell Meredith and Linden did too.

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But sadly, the pops would not wire us money so we could stay! What kind of parental love is that, might I ask?

Reluctantly we got in the car for our looooonnnngggg ride home.

Tennessee has a lot of mountains. Did you know that? Yes it does. A LOT.

But lucky for me, the wonderfully sweet Heather sent me muffins for the ride home!

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Those are gone, but I’ve still got my sanity. [I think…]

The celebration started when we hit the NC state line.

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TCBY all around!

But not to be celebrating too early. We still had 2.5 hours to go. I propped my feet up and tried not to think about it.

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[Got to level 14 on Word Mole! I’m working towards 20…I’ll let ya know how that goes.]

Soon enough [10 games later] there was real reason for celebration.

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I have never been so pleased to see that I was 31 minutes from home.

And 31 minutes later? Well I have never been so glad to see my bed. And my bed to see me. It was wondrously comfortable last night.

How was your Thanksgiving? Do you have an [untraditional] tradition you love?

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