Day 1: Pennsylvania to Jackson Hole

On Wednesday, October 9th Matt and I woke up at 4AM and drove to the Philadelphia airport. We parked in long term parking, bypassed the bus stop and power-walked to the terminal (isn’t that how normal people begin their travel days?) before being thoroughly sniffed by an official TSA German Shorthaired Pointer in security.  Eight hours later we were greeted by this view as our plane landed in Jackson, Wyoming.

In August I planned a last minute vacation to Yellowstone. Our itinerary would take us from Jackson Hole through Grand Teton National Park, then onto Yellowstone with overnight stays at Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, the North Entrance near Mammoth Hot Springs and a final night in Bozeman, Montana. But my meticulously planned schedule was almost derailed before it began thanks to the weather. During our layover in Denver I received several text message alerts from Yellowstone NP advising that ALL roads in the park were closing due to winter weather conditions.

I had been monitoring the weather and knew that a snow storm and unusually frigid conditions were forecasted to coincide with our arrival on Wednesday. In preparation Matt and I packed all of our winter layers and mentally braced for the cold. Our plane landed just as the cold front was moving in. It was 35 degrees out as we deplaned directly onto the tarmac. That seemed cold at the time compared to the weather we’d just come from, but 35 degrees sure felt nice later in the week after we experienced REAL cold!

The temperature steadily dropped throughout the afternoon as we wandered around Jackson. We checked out the elk antler arches in the town square, stopped at a warm bakery for super rich hot cocoa and braved the blustery wind on a trek to the Visitor Center.

Before dinner we hopped in our rental car and headed north on Route 191. (The same 191 that runs through Moab!) Seeing other cars stopped along the road we pulled over near the Gros Ventre River and snapped a few photos. Apparently we had JUST missed a female moose and calf. Darn!

As we headed back to the car Matt noticed something on the other side of the road… a bull moose!! He was at least 100 yards away and was slowly making his way through the brush towards the river. As we watched, the moose lazily crossed the river before turning away from us to continue on his evening stroll. Cool!! We had been in Wyoming for less than 12 hours and had already crossed a major animal sighting off our list.

During dinner at the Snake River Brewing Company I realized that we had been up since 2AM Jackson time. No wonder I was tired! When we got back to our hotel I checked the Yellowstone road status one more time – roads were still closed – before collapsing into bed.

Stay tuned for day 2… onto Grand Teton and (maybe???) Yellowstone!

That time Piper met a Porcupine…

Flashback to last Saturday morning. Matt and I are sitting next to an older man in the Emergency Vet’s waiting room watching a nature show on TV. A porcupine appears onscreen and the man says “Have you ever seen a dog that came face to face with a porcupine?? OUCH!” Oh yes, I tell him. In fact, that’s exactly why we’re here!!!

Piper, or Porcupipe, as she may be called from now on, BIT A PORCUPINE on Friday afternoon. Piper is fine and no, I don’t think that she learned not to mess with porcupines in the future!! We were on a hike as part of our annual sojourn to the Hunting Camp, aka Globe Run Rod and Gun Club, a private wilderness retreat located in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.  As is always the case at Camp, all dogs run free and daily activities include swimming in the lake, hiking, and logging some quality time in the rocking chairs on the front porch. But this year was a liiiittle different, thanks to Piper’s prickly new friend. Continue reading

I won the lottery!

A few weeks ago I entered the lottery for Philadelphia’s Broad Street Run, a 10 mile point-to-point race that takes place in early May.  And guess what?  I made the cut!! Here’s the email I woke up to on Tuesday morning:

I'm in! Broad Street 2015

Apparently 46,600 runners entered and ‘only’ 40,000 got in. This is a BIG race!

Broad Street is May 3rd, just 3 weeks after my first 10K on April 11th.  The 10K will already be my longest race ever… it’s going to be an exciting spring!

In other news, my renewed focus on improving my 5K speed feels like it’s going really well.  I did a strong 4.5 mile tempo run in a mini snowstorm at Ridley Creek on Saturday, finally returned to The Running Place for a chilly 5 mile group run on Monday and completed a speedy 400-800-1200-1200-800-400 ladder on the treadmill on Tuesday.  Then Wednesday I ran 4 snow-covered miles at Okehocking Preserve and ended the night with this view.  I love it here!

Okehocking Sunset (2/18/15)

Miles since last post: 38.6
Days since last post:  8
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.85
2015 MILES: 235.2

Welcome Home, Piper!!

We got a puppy!  Matt and I are thrilled to welcome Piper into our lives and home.  Isn’t she adorable?

Our new GSP puppy Piper

Piper is a two month old German Shorthaired Pointer.  Yesterday Matt and I drove from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin to pick Piper up from her breeder, Alliwood Shorthairs, and we just made it home from our 1750 mile round trip this afternoon.  We drove there in about 14 hours, stopped for a few hours in a Chicago-area hotel with Piper (not easy with a little pup!), before getting back on the road at about 2:15am this morning.  Needless to say, we are exhausted and should probably be sleeping right now… but I want to share a few more photos of our goofy, happy, snuggly new family member first!!

We are looking forward to enjoying many adventures with Piper!  (The first of which starts tonight… housebreaking!)  🙂

Our new puppy Piper

Wedding Flowers!

It’s time for another wedding-related post and this week I’d like to share some photos of the gorgeous flower arrangements that our florist, Toni Ogborn, put together for our wedding a few months ago.  Aren’t the pinks, oranges, greens and succulents beautiful together?

Wedding Bouquet - bright pink dahlias, pale garden roses and peach roses with a blue ribbon

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may remember that back in April I posted about painting my own blue mason jars for our wedding.  That’s one of my jars in the photo above… it looks pretty real, right?  🙂  If you take a look at that older post you’ll also see my wedding flower inspiration photo.  I knew that I wanted my wedding flowers to look just like the bouquet in that photo so I gave a copy of the photo to Toni and asked her to make something similar.  I think she did a perfect job!!

I loved my bouquet!

I liked my bouquet so much that I brought it home the day after the wedding and used it as the centerpiece on our kitchen table until we left for our honeymoon.  Here’s a closer look at the flowers and colors in my bouquet:

Wedding Bouquet Flowers_2

My bridesmaids each had bouquets that were wrapped in blue ribbon to match their dresses.  I love how bright and bold the flowers were!

Wedding Bouquets - pinks, peaches, succulents with aqua dresses

Our reception was in a barn so we opted for long tables with burlap runners and lots of small floral arrangements in blue mason jars and quilted jelly jars.  These arrangements were simpler, more rustic versions of our bouquets and featured soft garden roses, crazy snap dragons, peach-colored roses and hot pink dahlias.

Wedding Flower Centerpiece - Colorful Flowers in Blue Mason JarWedding Flower Arrangements in Mason Jars on Long Tables

If you’re getting married in the western Philadelphia suburbs and you are interested in talking to Toni Ogborn about doing your wedding flowers please feel free to send me an e-mail at anne.elizabeth.mcmanus (at) and I will be happy to put you in touch with her.  I loved the flowers that Toni put together for my wedding and I highly recommend her work!  🙂


Please note:  All photos in the post with the exception of the “closer look” at my bouquet were taken by Melissa Hassey of Melissa Hassey Photography.  The closer look photo was taken by me with my iPhone the morning after the wedding.

Related Posts:
Wedding Photo of the Week #2 – the Perks of a Winery Wedding
Wedding Photo of the Week #1
We’re Married!

The Perks of a Winery Wedding (Wedding Photo of the Week)

One of my favorite moments of our wedding day was when Matt and I slipped away from our reception and spent a little time together in Grace Winery’s vineyard at sunset.  Our photographer, Melissa Hassey, captured the moment through the grape vines:

Matt and Annie in the Vineyard

Getting married at a winery had some awesome perks.  We attended wine tastings, our friends relaxed in the vineyard sipping wine before our wedding started, and, of course, everyone enjoyed drinking the locally made wines at the reception!

Matt and I shared bottles of Grace Winery’s 2012 Pinot Gris (pictured above left) with our bridal party before the ceremony.  This freshly bottled Pinot Gris was light, refreshing and perfect for a warm June afternoon.  We also served Grace Winery’s oaky 2010 Reserve Chardonnay (my personal favorite) and a sweet and slightly smoky 2012 red that was so new it didn’t yet have an official name!

Grace Winery is about 3 miles from our house and they have tastings every weekend so we look forward to trying new vintages in the future!  We’ll definitely have to get a bottle or two for our first anniversary next June.  🙂

Annie and Matt in the Vineyard

If you ever find yourself in Philadelphia’s western suburbs yearning for a glass of wine make sure to check out Grace Winery!  Their tasting room is open nearly every weekend and the barn, vineyard, and surrounding farmlands are beautiful.  Grace Winery at Sweetwater Farm, 50 Sweetwater Road, Glen Mills, PA 19342; 610-459-4711.

Related Posts:
Wedding Photo of the Week #1
We’re Married!

All photographs in this post were taken by Melissa Hassey Photography.

We’re Married!

Just a quick update to say WE DID IT!!  Matt and I got married on Saturday afternoon surrounded by our family and friends.  The sun was shining, the wine was flowing, and fun was had by all.  Here’s a sneak peek from our lovely wedding photographer, Melissa Hassey:

Wedding Photo Sneak Peek - Annie and Matt

Now it’s time for our honeymoon in St. Lucia… woohoo!  🙂

Liebster Award!

Liebster Award

Hello! She Cleans from Immaculate Conceptions just nominated me for a Liebster Award. Thank you very much for the nomination! The Liebster Award is given from one blogger to another (11 others, to be precise) and comes along with some fun rules. Without any further ado, here we go…

The Rules:

  1. Post eleven facts about yourself.
  2. Answer the questions the tagger has set for you and create eleven questions for people you’ve nominated.
  3. Choose eleven people (with fewer than 200 followers) to give this award to and link them in your post.
  4. Go to their page and tell them.
  5. Remember, no tag backs.

11 Facts About Me:

  1. My favorite flowers are red and orange Gerber daisies.
  2. I’m left-handed.
  3. I like watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives marathons on the food network.
  4. I enjoy drinking seltzer water more than regular water.
  5. I really want a Vitamix blender.
  6. I love to vacuum.
  7. I memorized my credit card numbers so that I can place orders online without needing my wallet (a useful skill…)
  8. I love my silver 2010 Subaru Forester. (Matt does most of the driving, though!)
  9. My favorite TV shows at the moment are CSI, Mad Men and Downton Abbey.
  10. I’ve been elliptical-ing or running a mile a day since Thanksgiving – today was day 142.
  11. I’m getting married in 56 days!

11 Answers to the Questions from Immaculate Conceptions:

  1. What is your favorite day of the week? Friday! Matt and I always go out to breakfast at Manhattan Bagel and out to lunch at one of a few nearby restaurants.
  2. Wine or Beer? Tough question! I love craft beers but I’m also a big fan of sauvignon blanc and cabernet.
  3. What meal could you eat everyday? Pesto Tortellini
  4. If you could do anything on a Saturday, what would it be? Sleep in, then go out to lunch at Cosi with Matt, do some grocery shopping, and then relax on the patio or deck at home with a good book and a cold drink.
  5. Paper or plastic? Paper
  6. What song is heavy rotation on your smart phone/iPod? Al Green’s Love and Happiness
  7. What is your favorite dessert? Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.
  8. 8.What is the coolest gadget in your kitchen? Our fantastic new Zojirushi Rice Cooker. Thanks for the awesome wedding present, Peggy and Mike!
  9. How often do you blog? I try to post at least once a week. Sometimes more, sometimes less…
  10. Who is your favorite actor/actress? I don’t really have a favorite. I like Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg and Hugh Jackman.
  11. What is your favorite season of the year? I love the 2-3 weeks at the start of Spring and the start of Fall when you really feel the seasons starting to change. We’re currently enjoying those first few weeks of Spring-like weather in Pennsylvania right now!

11 Questions for my Nominees:

  1. What is your all-time favorite movie?
  2. What do you eat for breakfast on a typical weekday?
  3. Favorite blog post that you have ever written?
  4. Do you have any leftovers in your fridge right now? If so, what are they?
  5. Three favorite online shopping websites?
  6. If you won $300 million in the lottery, what would you do with the money?
  7. How many countries have you been to? Which ones?
  8. Favorite author and/or book from your childhood?
  9. Cats or Dogs?
  10. Did you go to college? Where? What did you study?
  11. How many hours of sleep did you get last night?

8 Nominees:

  1. Adventures of a GSP Hunting Dog
  2. Running with Sam
  3. Swig O Sunshine
  4. Running Noodle
  5. Pa-BLAM
  6. Kitchen Notes and Other Sundries
  7. The Zupi’s Do It Better
  8. A Engineer in the Kitchen

I know I’m supposed to nominate 11 bloggers but the caveat that they have less than 200 followers is limiting me from listing a few of my favorites! (Oh and I have no idea how many followers my nominees from Blogger have so sorry if I’m incorrectly assuming that you have less than 200!!) 😉

Thank you again for the nomination, Immaculate Conceptions!

Megan and Nick’s Wedding!

Last weekend Matt and I got to be a part of the wonderful marriage of Matt’s sister, Megan, and her husband Nick.  Congratulations Megan and Nick!!  🙂

The official wedding festivities began with an amazingly delicious rehearsal dinner at Le Virtu in South Philadelphia and ended with a fantastic wedding celebration at the historic Powel House in old Philadelphia.  Megan and Nick had a professional photographer documenting the official wedding but I had fun taking some photos during the rehearsal dinner and the “getting ready” portion of their wedding day.  Here are a few of my favorite shots!

Nick and Megan at their rehearsal dinner on Friday night.

We had an amazing 4 1/2 hour meal at Le Virtu in South Philadelphia. Click on the photo to zoom in and read the menu! My favorite course was the Palott cac’ e ove Braised egg and cheese croquettes in tomato sauce.

Megan and Matt’s cousin Denise has the cutest daughter ever! This is 13 month old Frankie.

Megan’s beautiful wedding dress!

Megan gave each of her bridesmaids a pair of these lovely custom-made earrings along with a cute robe to wear while getting ready. Thanks, Megan!

Welcome to Philadelphia!

Megan walked down the aisle in these snazzy pink peep-toe pumps.

Matt and I made a DIY photobooth for Megan and Nick. Here we are hamming it up for the camera. 🙂

Megan and Nick’s wedding bands in a custom bowl.  The inscription reads:
“I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart) September 8, 2012”

Best of luck to Megan and Nick and hope you’re having a blast on your honeymoon in Hawaii!!

(i)Phoneography: Using the camera you never leave home without

I love my Nikon D90 camera. Since getting it in 2009 I’ve taken more than 39,000 photos and it’s the camera behind 99.9% of the flying dogs, colorful flowers, and tasty foods you’ll see on this blog. That being said, my Nikon is HUGE and screams “photographer” (or, worse yet, “steal me!”) so it just isn’t practical to bring it with me everywhere I go.

Enter the iPhone camera: tiny, lightweight, unobtrusive, and – most importantly – already with me at all times! The iPhone obviously won’t yield the same results as the Nikon D90 but it is a fantastic substitute when the perfect photo opp presents itself and I don’t happen to have the big camera with me. Here are some photos that I took with my iPhone:

Sunset - edited with Instagram

Bailey keeps her eyes on the road in the car

Go Phillies! edited with Instagram

Paperwhites in my kitchen

The Venetian, Las Vegas - edited with Instagram

These are some tips that I try to keep in mind while taking photos with my phone:

  • It’s all about the light. Avoid grainy, blurry phone photos by choosing shots where your camera will excel. Look for people or objects facing into the sun (or a sunny window) or choose a well lit indoor location.
  • Use another phone as an “off camera flash.” If you do need to take a photo in a dark room, borrow a friend’s phone set to “flashlight” mode to light up your subject. This will give you much better results than your own phone’s on board flash.
  • Make your point with a clear subject. Minimize clutter by removing unnecessary items from the frame or getting closer to your subject so it’s clear what the focus of the photo is. This will help later if your photo is going to be viewed on a tiny phone screen or shared in thumbnail size on social media sites like Facebook.
  • Post-processing is OK! My iPhone photos are often fairly flat and uninspiring but I have had a lot of fun using Apps like Instagram and BeFunky to jazz them up a bit. Don’t be afraid to play around… they’re just photos, after all! 🙂

I’d love to see YOUR favorite camera phone shots! Please feel free to post links to them and/or leave your own ‘phoneography’ tips in the comments.