Recap of 2017, in February (Why not?)

This is my blog and I do what I want. Recently that has meant that I haven’t posted much, but it’s not for lack of subject matter. Tonight I’m attempting to document some of the best things I saw, ate, and did last year. Without further ado, here are my un-blogged thoughts from 2017!

January

OK, I did actually blog about Zion, but no 2017 recap could possibly be complete without mentioning this epic trip. In January Matt and I spent three days exploring Zion canyon in Utah. It snowed and rained 90% of the time but we felt extremely fortunate to have this notoriously overcrowded national park nearly all to ourselves.

The best (yet sadly, unblogged) food that we made in January was a creamy, cheesy buffalo chicken panini. We assembled these rich sandwiches using buffalo chicken dip that we didn’t serve during our New Year’s Day brunch. (We made WAY too much food for brunch!)

February

Continuing on with the panini theme, in February we made insanely delicious short rib paninis with leftover braised short ribs from our Valentine’s Day dinner (recipe). Can you tell we got a panini press for Christmas in 2016?? ☺

February was unusually warm last year. (Actually, I’m typing this on February 15, 2018 after coming inside from running in a t-shirt… it was 64° today! These weird warm winter days are the best.) In February 2017 I sweated my way through the Pickle on the Road 5K in a 66° heatwave, finishing in 24 minutes even. Afterwards Piper, Matt and I relaxed outside and watched a thunderstorm roll in.

March

Piper and I kicked off the month of March with a busy weekend. Piper ran her fastest 5K (at the time) with me on a Saturday morning in 22:43 and then together we participated in a K9 Nosework seminar all day Sunday. We both slept well that night!!

The unblogged food of March was an absolute winner that I really need to make again (and share here!). Pasta e Ceci is an Italian stew of chick peas, pasta, and pancetta and this recipe marked the first time I ever cooked with anchovies. It wasn’t as hard as I imagined it would be and dinner was delicious.

April

In April I upped my running mileage and made it all the way to Sterling Pig Brewery in Media on one particularly epic outing. My 8 mile effort was rewarded with a fresh Snuffler IPA. Cheers! I also participated in four races in April, most notably the Haverford Twilight 5K, in which I bettered my non-downhill 5K personal best by more than 20 seconds (22:54).

In food news, Matt got a smoker in 2016 and he took advantage of April’s weather to smoke a pork shoulder. A BIG pork shoulder. We ate pulled pork sandwiches for a few days before getting more creative, with pork paninis (duh) and the delectable smoked pork and broccoli rabe stromboli pictured above.

May

Matt and I have long had plans to renovate our house’s old sunken living room into a clean, modern dining room and this project finally began in May. Over the course of a week contractors ripped up the dirty white-ish carpet, installed a wet bed, and laid huge tile “planks” that look like wood and match our kitchen floors. More on this project in July.

After a big PR in the Broad Street Run in early May (1:21:28), I was content to reduce my running mileage and relax a little. Matt and I spent our evenings outdoors under our awning, sipping wine and listening to Piper thundering around the yard (she actually sounds like a herd of horses). We cooked countless meals on the grill, including a totally blog-worth steak and provolone calzone with peppers and onions.

June

A busy month. We spent the evening watching jumpers at the Devon Horse Show, sampled wine in a summer rainstorm at our wedding venue on our fourth anniversary, and overhauled our home gym with new paint, switches and outlets, shelves, and a white board. I spend a lot of time in that room so it was a welcome change.

June was also the month that Piper bit a porcupine at the Hunting Camp (!!!!) and, in less exciting wildlife news, she found a tortoise in our yard. Piper’s nose also earned her a pass in the K9 Nosework Odor Recognition Test (ORT) for birch, despite the fact that she had nervous breakdown on the super slippery linoleum floor before the test even began.

Inspired by memories of our honeymoon in St. Lucia, I cooked Caribbean-style chicken roti and I actually made the roti flatbread! That was a lot of work. An easier but equally delicious June meal was Matt’s take on grilled patty melts, with swiss cheese, horseradish sauce and arugula.

July

Dawn at Promised Land State Park

This month marked my favorite sunrise of the year. We were spending July 4th weekend with Matt’s family in the Poconos and Piper woke up at the crack of dawn. Unable to get her to settle back down, I took Pipes for a walk with my GoPro in hand and we arrived at Promised Land lake just as the sun came up over the horizon. I will purposefully wake up this early next time we’re there in the hopes of experiencing this quiet beauty again.

This month I also made a patriotic blueberry pie, hurled very sharp axes into a plywood target in Philadelphia, and supervised while Matt and two delivery men struggled to maneuver our massive and ridiculously heavy new live edge dining table into our house. The new table was step 2 in Operation Dining Room.

Finally, Matt and I spent a relaxing week in Cape May, NJ with his family. We rented bicycles (beach cruisers, complete with baskets!) and had a blast pedaling 20+ miles around the cape. We visited two wineries, multiple breweries, a peanut butter shop, a lighthouse, beaches, and, naturally, a Wawa.

August

Eclipse month! I tried to buy solar glasses but the manufacturer cancelled my order a week before the big day due to supply issues. Boo! Unable to find alternate approved glasses on such short notice, we made pinhole cameras and watched the eclipse in the parking lot at work and then at home in our backyard.

Inspired by all of our Cape May biking, I borrowed my mom’s bike (it doesn’t have a basket but it actually has gears!) and enjoyed exploring the length of the Chester Valley Trail and local roads. My go-to workout was to run the 5 uphill miles to my mom’s house, stop in for a glass of ice water, then bike the 5 downhill miles back home. Speaking of running, in August I raced for the first time since May and earned a blazing new PR of 6:20 in the Downhill Mile.

In other news, the zucchini plant in my garden that hadn’t produced any fruit (yes, it’s a fruit) suddenly started pumping out monster zucchinis in August, Piper honed her underwater retrieving skills in my mom’s pool, and Matt helped me make a towering fruit trifle for the annual YPP. (That’s Young People’s Party, for those of you who’ve made it this far.)

September

Ah, September. We made tons of blog-worth food this month, including cajun shrimp and grits, Moroccan Butternut Squash and Chick Pea Stew that looked just like the magazine picture, and, for the first time ever, HOMEMADE PIZZA DOUGH! I had always been intimidated by any recipe that called for yeast, but I finally bought the correct ingredients, found a not-too-scary-looking dough recipe, and just went for it. Matt and I celebrated our newfound pizza-making prowess by becoming “chefs for a night” for my mom and stepfather. It was a really good meal, if I do say so myself. (Also, the ricotta cheese on that pizza in the background is homemade too! Just a little wetter than I intended.)

Also in September, Piper competed at a mock Nosework trial and I crashed into a car during the vehicle portion of the search. (Don’t worry, she still found the odor, eventually!)

And finally, this month can’t be recapped without mentioned two events that DID make it on the blog: our glorious hike up Old Rag in Shenandoah National Park and my huge new personal best at the Pints in the Square 5K (22:03). What a month!

October

October was defined by races – five of them! – and a work trip that actually took me to the Philadelphia Convention Center for a few days. Usually we exhibit in far away places like Vegas and San Diego, so it was cool to be so close to home. One day I commuted in on the train with my brother (who also works in the family business) and I thoroughly enjoyed watching out the window as we rumbled by the many towns that make up Philadelphia’s Main Line. (I wrote my college thesis on this area and love its history.)

Speaking of the Main Line, my mom’s horse competed at Dressage at Devon this month! She ‘danced’ to a musical freestyle program on October 1st and Piper got to come along and watch. (Piper totally thought that this horse was real and pointed at it for a good 30 seconds before bashfully realizing her mistake.)

October was not a big month for cooking, but we did use our newfound dough-making ability to craft homemade spinach, sausage and ricotta strombolis. We should really make those again sometime.

November

Matt and I traveled to Palm Beach for a long weekend in early November. We rented bikes (of course), ate tons of good food, and relaxed by the pool for hours on end. I get to return to Florida next month on a quick 3-day trip with my mom and I’m already looking forward to it!

In November I perfected my chocolate chip cookie recipe and Matt and I kept making more pizza. You might even say that pizza is the new panini around here. I ran off the calories from all of that wonderful food with three races, including one 5K with Piper in a new Piper personal best time of 22:38.

December

Commence Dining Room Phase 3! We rented scaffolding from Home Depot and Matt and my brother spent an entire day running electrical wires and installing new light fixtures in the dining room and front hall. (Aren’t they cool!!??) In the week leading up the Christmas, Matt worked for hours repairing and painting the walls and installing our (still unfinished) floating credenzas on either side of the room. Eventually they will have wraparound wood tops that complement the table. I also need to design a gallery art wall for the huge empty wall that you can’t see in the above photo. So many details! Someday I’ll post the finished room and it will be awesome.

Piper spent several afternoons at work with me in December (she is well-behaved as long as she can look out her window) and I single-handedly made pan-roasted chicken with harissa chickpeas for Matt for dinner. We joke that usually I am just his sous-chef. We also binge-watched Star Wars movies (IV, V, VI, VII) in preparation for going out to the movies on New Year’s Eve to watch The Last Jedi. We later caught up on episodes I-III in early January.

December was a huge month for running, with two new personal bests in the same weekend. I finished the 2 mile Jingle Elf Run in 14:04 and the 5 mile Brian’s Run in 37:24. All in all, I ended 2017 with 1,314 miles and new PRs in the mile, 2 mile, 5K, 5 mile, and 10 mile. 😄

January

OK, January wasn’t part of 2017 but I’m on a roll. On New Year’s Day 2018 I slept in (Star Wars the night before and all) and ate waffles for breakfast before remembering that I had wanted to enter a 5K that started at 10AM. That wasn’t happening, but luckily there was another nearby race that didn’t start until noon. I bundled up in all of my new Christmas running gear and braved a “feels like” temperature of -1°F for the duration of Stanley’s Dream 5K. I finished first in my age group and won a pair of neon yellow gloves which I promptly layered over the two pairs I was already wearing.

Two weeks later I raced on a much nicer day, this time with Piper at the Pickle Run in Ridley Creek State Park. Pickle Runs are prediction runs where you state your time in advance, then race without a watch.  The winner is the runner who finished closest to his or her predicted time. To make a long story short, I predicted an aggressive 22:30, but then the course was cut slightly short due to ice and Piper and I finished in 22:05! We didn’t win any prediction prize, but even with the short course I’m pretty sure that was our new fastest time together.  Piper and I will run our second Pickle Run this Saturday.

Last but not least, Matt and I received a gigantic enameled cast iron skillet for Christmas (thanks Mom!) and we’ve been having a lot of fun trying new recipes with it. So far we’ve made breakfast strata, tamale pie, and, my favorite, skillet pizza with roast beef, gravy, horseradish and arugula.

In January we also had a work trip to Las Vegas, I ran a trail race in Utah, and we spent a long weekend in Moab, but that’s a story for a different post. Until then, thanks for reading and happy new year! 😄

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It only took me 16 days… 2015 Recap and 2016 Goals!

This morning it was my turn to take Piper out.  Usually I have no trouble falling back to sleep after our chilly 7AM tour around the yard, but today I felt especially awake and decided to catch up on some long overdue blog reading.  I scrolled through my WordPress “Reader” for nearly an hour and thoroughly enjoyed reviewing the many year end recaps and ambitious 2016 resolution posts that bloggers I follow wrote 2+ weeks ago.

All of this inspirational reading served to remind me that I’ve been terrible about updating my blog lately.  I’m not sure why that is,* but whatever the case, I’m not going to beat myself up about it.  The whole point of my blog is to document the races, foods, trips and other events that I’m enjoying and if nothing “blog-worthy” happens for a few weeks, so be it!

(*OK, I’ll confess: My recent lack of posts is almost certainly because we’re binge-watching Sons of Anarchy.  It’s so riveting that I can’t multi-task and blog while watching it!)

Although it’s January 16th, my morning reading has inspired me to offer my own 2015 wrap up and 2016 goals.  Without further ado, here I go!

2015 was the year of the mini-vacation.  Matt and I traveled to 10 states and spent 28 nights away from home.  Piper joined us on several trips and spent the other nights slumber-partying at my mom’s house with her best friend, Hershey the Chocolate Lab.  Matt and I primarily traveled within driving distance, but also flew to Vegas for work at the beginning of the year and then to California for an epic drive up the Pacific Coast Highway in October.

Since 2015 marked another year of my ongoing mile-a-day streak, I began nearly all of my out-of-town mornings with a run.  This was a great way to feel good on vacation AND get a feel for my surroundings, regardless of whether I was in a big city, little town, or remote forest.  In 2015 I ran in places as diverse as Las Vegas (NV), Cape Charles (VA), Bethany Beach (DE), Avon-by-the-Sea (NJ), Skaneateles (NY), Promised Land (PA), Dorset (VT), and Carmel (CA).

When I wasn’t traveling, it seems like most weekends were spent racing.  In 2015 I completed 27 races and earned 7 new personal best times (1-2M, 2-5K, 1-5M, 2-10K, 1-10M).  The year finished surprisingly strong with 3 PRs in a row at 3 different distances.  I guess I did something right in 2015?!

And about that streak… I’ve now been running, hiking, or otherwise moving my body a mile a day every day since July 2013. My daily miles are now a completely routine part of my life and are just something I do, like eating or brushing my teeth.  As of today, I’ve been streaking for 930 days and 4,380.5 miles with no plans to stop anytime soon.

Looking ahead to 2016, I hope to continue many of the same habits, including trying to pack as many mini-getaways into our busy lives as possible.  Matt and I already have a weekend trip to Sedona, AZ planned (I am SO EXCITED!!) and I wouldn’t be surprised if we find ourselves in California, Kentucky and multiple states on the east coast at some point later this year.

One thing that will be changing for 2016 will be my total number of races.  I’m not opposed to racing 25+ times in a year, but I know I’m going to miss at least 7 of the races I enjoyed last year due to scheduling conflicts. (For example, my brother decided to get married the night before the Broad Street Run!! But I forgive him. 😀)  I’ll also miss the Athlete’s Closet Winter Series this year as the series was cancelled.  Oh well!  Racing is fun but isn’t everything… maybe I can use that time to get some extra miles in with Piper!

Running with Piper is one of my biggest goals for 2016.  She was too young to really do many pavement miles last year, plus she pulled on the leash like a maniac which made runs much less pleasant than they should have been.  In late December I finally broke down and bought her a “Gentle Leader” head collar to put an end to her pulling and so far it has worked wonders.  We still have lots of training to do, but I look forward to lots of happy runs with my little GSP this year.

My final goal for 2016 is a simple one… improve my CORE STRENGTH!  In 2015 I did exactly zero strength work, but I’m fully aware that if my abs and arms are stronger I will be a better runner, even if I don’t change a thing about how I actually train to run.

Fortunately for me, core strengthening is a goal that I can absolutely accomplish from the comfort of my living room floor while watching Sons of Anarchy.   Otherwise core strength, like my nonexistent blog posts, might never happen!

2016 Resolutions:

  1. Don’t stress out about not blogging regularly. I blog for fun and want to keep it that way.
  2. Take lots of trips with Matt (and Piper) whenever possible!
  3. Teach Piper to run with me.
  4. Improve my core strength. (Bonus goal: Teach Piper that she’s not actually helping when she licks my face during a plank!!)

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Piper resolves not to dig in my garden in 2016…

08 Piper

JUST KIDDING!!! 😄

 

A Review of 2014 (Plus, what didn’t make it on the blog the first time around!)

Happy New Year!  My 2014 was bookended by two huge events. In January Matt and I suddenly lost our beloved Bailey, the affable, energetic, wonderful dog that was the original inspiration for this blog. Then, in late October, we brought home Piper, a wacky, awesome little GSP puppy who, of course, will never replace Bailey but nevertheless immediately made us feel whole again.

Although I spent much of the days between January 30th and October 26th mourning Bailey’s loss and awaiting Piper’s arrival, I still managed to find time for a healthy dose of running, cooking, photography and adventures. Here’s a recap of my year.

JANUARY

Matt and I froze our way through the coldest January ever, blissfully unaware that we were enjoying our last days with Bailey.  We kicked off the month by running a 5K in 10° temps (and kudos to both of our little brothers who still showed up – and beat us – on race morning!).  Then Matt, my brother and I headed to Las Vegas for a work trip.  We returned to freezing Pennsylvania in mid-January and, twelve days later, had our hearts utterly broken when Bailey died.

What didn’t make it on the blog? The last photo I ever took of Bailey.  This was January 26th and she was hanging out with her best buddy, Hershey, on Hershey’s extra-large bed in our mud room.  When I went through my iPhone camera roll last night to find this photo it still made me so sad to see Bailey’s beautiful little face.  😦

Bailey and Hershey (1/26/14)

January Races: Just one, the Athlete’s Closet January 5K (26:19)
January Miles: 153.3

FEBRUARY

February began in a dark, cold, snowy blur.  An ice storm hit eastern PA early in the month, knocking out power for days and severely damaging several of our trees.  There were, however, two silver linings to the ice storm.  First, it gave Matt and me a reason to take refuge at my mom and stepfather’s house (yay for back up generators!) where we got to spend some much needed time around loving family.  Secondly, all of the ice and snow DID make for some cool photo ops.  The goose photo is still one of my favorite shots of the year.

After the ice and snow melted Matt and I enjoyed a wonderful getaway on Virginia’s eastern shore with friends for an all-you-can eat Oyster fest.  After weeks of frigid temps I was very grateful for this mini vacation and the chance to stretch my legs with some outdoor running.  A good end to the month!

What didn’t make it on the blog?  This photo of our mailbox, obscured by a ridiculous amount of snow… all personally shoveled by myself and Matt!  (It still makes me tired thinking about it.)

Snowy Mailbox

February Races: One again, the Athlete’s Closet February 5K (26:02)
February Miles: 144.9

MARCH

I kicked off March with my first 5 mile race ever, then ran 10 miles in mid-March (still my longest run to date!) and finished the month with another local 5K.  Matt and I also ate like kings this month.  We enjoyed Shrimp Scampi (which first made an appearance on the blog in February but was too good not to make again immediately!), Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya and, perhaps my favorite stew ever, Cassoulet.  YUM!

What didn’t make it on the blog?  Matt flew up to Montreal for a weekend bachelor party in late March (lucky him!) and I spent a quiet weekend at home with both of our parents’ dogs, Hershey the Chocolate Lab and Bella the GSP.  After being dog-less for several weeks it was nice to have four-legged companions in the house again.

Hershey and Bella

March Races: Two official, the Athlete’s Closet 5 Miler (42.47) and the Color Out Cancer 5K (28:13).  I should have run a third race, the Pickle Run, except that I got the time wrong and showed up several hours late!!
March Miles: 143.1

APRIL

In early April Matt and I escaped from the east coast’s terrible winter weather with an 8-day work trip that took us from sunny Las Vegas to the L.A. area.  We spent a blissful, amazing, perfect weekend in Temecula, California, a mini wine country paradise not far from L.A. and San Diego.  I would go back in a heartbeat.

What didn’t make it on the blog? We roasted an entire chicken… on the grill!  For some reason this Tex-Mex recipe never appeared on the blog (I guess I was still in a post-California haze?) but believe me, it was delicious!

Grilled Chicken

April Races: Three, the Security 5K in Vegas (25:26), Rick’s Run 5K (25:56) and St. Tim’s 5K (26:22)
April Miles: 136.9

MAY

In May Spring finally arrived.  FINALLY!  Matt and I spent a few days in Baltimore for work where we ran in the Inner Harbor and enjoyed a complementary 5PM happy hour wine reception at Hotel Monaco.  I also ran a huge new personal best at the Victory Brewing Company 5K in mid-May.  Woohoo!

What didn’t make it on the blog? In May we fell madly in love with an $8 bottle of oaky Chardonnay, only to find out shortly thereafter that it was a special Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board “Chairman’s Selection” that had subsequently sold out throughout the entire state.  Apparently the PLCB buys up the complete year’s worth of wine from the vineyard so our new favorite wine was no longer available anywhere in the world after it sold out in PA.  Boo!  But at least I learned that if I like a PLCB selection wine I should buy ALL OF IT!

Aura Chardonnay

May Races: Three, the Elwyn 5K (26:17), Run for Victory 5K (24:17… NEW PR!), and Rocky Run Trail 5K (27:40)
May Miles: 138.1

JUNE

We spent June on the go, traveling to the Hunting Camp with family before heading out on a work trip in western PA and then journeying east to New Jersey for a friend’s wedding.  In the middle of all of this road-tripping we still found time to celebrate our first anniversary over a glass (or two) of wine at Sweetwater Farm’s Grace Winery.

What didn’t make it on the blog? On June 3rd I took Bella out for a jog and discovered that she clearly had previous experience running in a perfect heel position.  Matt’s parents rescued Bella so we don’t know much about her history, but she definitely was somebody’s running partner in the past!  Following this discovery I happily took Bella on several runs while she was staying with us in early June.

Bella

June Races: Two, the Radnor Conservancy 5K (25:49) and the Media 5 Miler (42:57)
June Miles: 142.8

JULY

July marked the completion of several of our household projects.  Matt and I had spent much of the spring and summer digging up and replacing all of the shrubs and perennials in front of our house as well as repainting and fixing up our living room.  Everything came together perfectly just in time for the fiesta-themed bridal shower that we hosted in late July.

With the household projects finally out of the way, I started focusing more on running.  I began doing group runs with The Running Place on Mondays and joined the West Chester Running Club for their speed workouts at a local track on Tuesdays.  The extra running work started paying off quickly, which brings me to what didn’t make in on the blog for this month… on July 26th I ran the entire 4.3-mile Ridley Creek multi-use trail loop without stopping!  This loop includes an enormous uphill section so I was extremely excited to finally be able to run all the way up it!

July Races: Two, Cam’s Moonlight 5K in the rain (24:46) and the Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K (40:28… NEW PR!!)
July Miles:  148.4

AUGUST

I kept busy in August with lots of running, participating in three 5Ks (including a huge PR!) and more group runs and track workouts.  I also spent a weekend in Philadelphia and managed to drag myself out of bed early enough to get in a great 5 mile city run that included the section of the Schuylkill River Trail that passes by Philly’s famed boathouse row near the Art Museum.  Although I’ve walked up the Art Museum’s steps many times I took this opportunity to run up them and then took pictures of the city stretched out before me like a total tourist.  😉

What didn’t make it on the blog?  My brother and his fiance got a puppy in August!  She is a German Shepherd named Lady and she’s beautiful.  She and Piper have played together several times and really seem to feed off each other’s endless puppy energy.

Lady Puppy

August Races: Three, the Riddlewood 5K (25:01), the Radnor Red Steeplechase (27:49) and the prediction-style Pickle Run 5K (23:41… NEW PR!!)
August Miles: 157.5

SEPTEMBER

September was much like August except with nicer weather.  I ran in three more 5Ks and Matt and I spent a lot of time outdoors.  We also hosted an epic Beer Tasting Party mid-month, which only didn’t make it on the blog because we were too busy having fun and drinking beer to take a single photo of the event.  We had a blind IPA tasting, 20+ types of beers, soft pretzels, sausage, pepper & onion sandwiches, and lots of friends and family there to enjoy everything with us… it was great!

September Races: Three, the TALK 5K Trail Run (25:40), the much-anticipated Run-A-Muck Trail Run (28:08 on a long course), and the Haverford Township Day 5K (23:50)
September Miles: 158

OCTOBER

In October we drove to Wisconsin and brought Piper home!! That was at the very end of the month, so first we had to make it through a few more long weeks of waiting for our little pup.  I kept myself busy by making delicious Italian White Bean Hummus (I made more last week… so good!) and Apple Crisp.  I also ran in a few more races, including a dog-friendly 5K with Hershey in tow.

What didn’t make it on the blog?  After logging hundreds of miles in three different pairs of Mizuno Wave Rider 16s I finally took the plunge and upgraded to the new WR 18s.  I love them!!!  I now have 200 running miles on my October pair and they still feel as springy and supportive as the day I first put them on.  Yay for new shoes!

Mizuno Wave Rider 18s

October Races: Three, Martin’s Run 5K (23:54), the Fueled Up 5K (23:56), and the Bark in the Park 5K (26:21)
October Miles: 158.6

NOVEMBER

Piper kept us very busy in November.  Crate training proved to be a challenge, resulting in us having to let her out to do her business pretty much once every 3 hours, be that during the work day, night, or anytime in between.  Needless to say, all of this was totally worth it and we didn’t need potty training as an excuse to spend every possible moment with Piper.  We hiked, trained, snuggled, and even got to play in the snow with her in November.  A good month!

What didn’t make it on the blog?  Matt got me a Garmin Forerunner 220 which replaced my ancient Timex stopwatch.  My birthday was a few days after we brought Piper home so I joke that I got a GSP and a GPS for my 30th… ha.  Anyway, my new Garmin is awesome and so far I’m really enjoying having more pace and distance data available to me during runs and races.

Old Watch and New Garmin FR 220!!!

November Races: Three, the Trinity Berwyn 5K (23:32… NEW Birthday PR!), the Metal Run 5K (24:18) and a local Turkey Trot 5K (23:40).
November Miles: 149.4

DECEMBER

Our adventures with Piper kept getting better and better this month.  She is growing up FAST and she’s clearly enjoying hiking and exploring the parks, preserves, and trails we’ve been taking her to.  Piper also started Puppy Class and is eagerly soaking up every new command as quickly as we can teach it.  She takes “down” very seriously, making a big deal of dramatically flinging out her front paw as she descends from a sit to the down position.

What didn’t make it on the blog?  For the past week Piper has been sharing her car, kitchen and yard with Hershey while my mom and stepfather are out of town.  Piper has adjusted to this change well and seems very content to go quietly to her crate when it’s time for the two dogs to be separated.  Hershey has also been doing a great job of tolerating Piper’s nonstop puppy antics.  What good pups!

December Races: Three, the Jingle Elf 2 Miler (14:33), Brian’s Run 5 Miler (39:11… NEW PR!!!) and an unofficial prediction fun run at The Running Place (2.8 miles/20:54).  I was planning to run a NYE 5K but just learned that the race I did last year is not happening this year.  Therefore the fun run was my 30th and final race of 2014!  I’ll pick things right back up again in 2015 with a New Year’s Day race tomorrow morning.
December Miles: 142

~

So yeah, that was pretty much how my year went!  I should probably change my blog tagline to “Dogs, Races, Food, and Photos,” don’t you think? 😜  Thank you to all of my readers for following along with my adventures.  Here’s to even more fun in 2015!

Whirlwind Spring Recap

Matt and I have been going non-stop this Spring with yard work, running, family gatherings, weddings and work trips.  As a result, I’ve been pretty bad about blogging (I need to use our rare down time to relax!!).  Nevertheless, I do want to share what we’ve been up to so I’ll attempt to use this post as a catch-all recap of our Spring…

After returning home from California in mid-April, we spent a weekend in New Jersey to celebrate the marriage of two of our college friends, then I raced three weekends in a row (Rick’s, St. Tim’s, and Elwyn) before we embarked on another work trip, this time to Baltimore.  We were in Baltimore for three days and got in some good meals and two nice runs around the Inner Harbor (which is beautiful!!).

After Baltimore we were home for a few weeks during which I ran three more races (Victory, Rocky Run, and Radnor).  We also celebrated Mother’s Day, my mom’s and brother’s birthdays, and Memorial Day, AND started on a major home landscaping project… ripping out and replanting all of the overgrown shrubs along our front walk (more on that in a future post!).  For my mom’s birthday I did a photo shoot of her on her new horse and then Matt and I had my mom and stepfather over for a fancy dinner of grilled salmon and avocado with roasted corn relish and Mexican rice pilaf.  (And don’t worry, that recipe will be up on the blog soon!!).  🙂

After Memorial Day we had the pleasure of taking care of Matt’s parents’ German Shorthair, Bella, for a few weeks.  Bella patiently watched us dig up stumps in the front yard (fun!), went running with me at Ridley Creek State Park, and, best of all, got to come with us to the Hunting Camp where she got to experience the central PA wilderness.  We were at the Hunting Camp for 3 days, during which we hiked and ran over 20 miles.  Matt and I also made a big taco dinner for everyone on Saturday night but we were too busy cooking and eating to take photos of the food, sorry!

Matt and I left the Hunting Camp late Saturday night so that we’d be home for our first wedding anniversary on Sunday.  We celebrated by sleeping in, doing some yard work, then spending the afternoon wine tasting at our wedding venue, Sweetwater Farm and Grace Winery.  The winery recently started hosting dog-friendly tastings so Bella came along and happily flopped on the ground between our chairs as we sipped our wine.  After the tasting we had dinner at La Porta, our favorite local restaurant, and then returned home to — you guessed it — MORE yard work!  🙂  Good thing we both like hauling rocks, compost, and stumps around!

The Tuesday after our anniversary we headed out of town again, this time for a work-related trip to a nuclear power plant to do a nighttime lighting demonstration.  It was a productive visit but between the Hunting Camp (4 hours away) and nuclear power plant (5 1/2 hours away) it meant that we spent close to 20 hours in the car in less than a weeks’ time.  And the road trips weren’t quite over yet…

On Saturday we were on the road again, this time to Avon-by-the-Sea, New Jersey for another fantastic wedding celebration.  The weather was perfect and we spent the night in Asbury Park right next to the boardwalk and the beach.  I loved waking up to the view of the beach and sand right outside our window.  New Jersey is pretty nice!

That’s about it for my whirlwind Spring recap.  Now that our travels are done (until 4th of July, at least), I’m hoping that we might have a little more time to kick back and relax.  First I need to make it through the Media 5 Mile race on Friday night!  🙂

How’s your Spring going so far?  Has it been busy or relaxing?

A (Long) Look Back at 2013

As 2014 rapidly approaches I am happily reflecting on the wonderful year that I had in 2013.  Most importantly, I married my best friend and the love of my life (and had a blast doing so!).  I also started running again after a six year hiatus, I spent time with Bailey, and I cooked lots of yummy foods.  All in all a good year.  Here’s my official recap!

Matt and I got married!

On June 8th Matt and I got married at Sweetwater Farm in Glen Mills, PA.  The celebration started Friday night with a laid back barbecue ‘rehearsal dinner’ during Tropical Storm Andrea (luckily we were under a covered patio!).  Then the sun came out on Saturday and we got married outside at the edge of the woods before partying the night away with our guests in a renovated 18th century red bank barn that doubles as a winery.  After our wedding Matt and I honeymooned in beautiful St. Lucia.

I ran! (a lot)

When Matt and I returned from our honeymoon I decided it was time to get back in shape.  I started streaking on July 1st and we bought a treadmill on July 18th.  Spurred on by a goal that I set for myself (100 miles in 42 days), I started walking, jogging, and then running like crazy.  I hit 100 miles in 21 days, 200 in 37 days, and 300 in 54 days.  Then I nervously entered and triumphantly finished the Run-A-Muck, my first 5K race since freshman year in high school.

After Run-A-Muck I was completely hooked on running.  So much so that I overdid my training and injured my foot to the point where I could hardly walk.  I didn’t want to break my streak, so I switched my training over to the elliptical trainer in our garage.  With time my peroneal tendonitis healed and I was ready for more 5Ks.  Matt and I ran three races on consecutive weekends in late October/early November (Fueled Up, Oy Vey, and Trinity) and then enjoyed a crowded Turkey Trot on a chilly 29° Thanksgiving morning.  Matt hurt his back so he cheered me on from the sidelines at the Athlete’s Closet 5K in mid-December, then I finished off the year with a new personal best (25:13) at the New Year’s Eve 5K at the Upper Main Line YMCA.

iFit Stats as of 12/31/13

I started tracking my mileage on July 18th and I’m finishing off 2013 with exactly 812 miles.  That’s an average of 4.86 miles a day since mid-July, whew!  My best month was August with 180.2 miles, followed by a strong December with 161 miles.  My longest run was an 8 mile jaunt in Wallingford, PA on December 22nd (I didn’t mean for it to be that long… I got lost!).  I’ve been streaking for 184 consecutive days and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon!

Bailey played!

I can’t write a year end recap without mentioning our cuddly, energetic, “petite” German Shorthair, Bailey.  Bailey turned 6 in May, competed at the DockDogs Regional Championships in June, had a GSP house guest in July, wallowed in the mud in August, and frolicked in the snow in December.  When she wasn’t outside patrolling the yard for squirrels, Bailey snuggled with us on the couch (she’s only allowed on the furniture if we invite her up) and snoozed in her doggie den bed.  She also started K9 Nosework classes in January and she’s working on hunting for birch scent now.  (That reminds me that I really need to do a post about NW one of these days… maybe next year!)  🙂

Hiding behind the tulips

We cooked!

When we weren’t busy planning a wedding or running, Matt and I spent time in the kitchen making lots of yummy meals.  Here are a few of our favorites from 2013:

Smoky Beef ChiliBanh Mi Steak SandwichesZacatecas Skirt Steak Tacos

Chicken Lo MeinWhite Pizza with Sausage, Spinach and RicottaPork Carnitas Tostadas

Pozole RojoCoconut Cream PieCaramel Corn

Rotisserie Chicken BurritosStuffed Poblano PeppersMexican Pizza

I blogged!

And, finally… in 2013 I blogged!  WordPress sent me a stats summary for the year so I thought I’d share a few quick factoids.  My blog had over 58,000 views in 2013 and my visitors came from 150 different countries!  Thank you very much for visiting, everyone!!!

My most popular post by far was this recipe for Candied Yams (it had over 1300 hits on Thanksgiving day alone!).  Other popular posts were my DIY Tutorial on making your own “vintage” blue ball jars and my Rotisserie Chicken Burritos.  I’ve really enjoyed blogging in 2013 and I can’t wait to continue next year!

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OK, I’m off to get ready for a New Year’s Eve party.  Have a wonderful last few hours of 2013 and happy new year!!!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Bailey’s 2012 in Pictures

This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is “My 2012 in Pictures” but I renamed it “Bailey’s 2012 in Pictures” because that’s what it is! Here are photos of Bailey the Little GSP from every month this year:

January
Just an iPhone photo of Bailey looking cute!

February
Bailey in Ridley Creek State Park on an unseasonably warm winter day

March
Out for a walk on The Darlington Trail

April
Playing fetch on a beautiful Spring day

May
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s SUPER BAILEY! (Dock Daze Dockdogs Event)

June
Bailey shows off her World Qualifier ribbon at Eastern Regional Championships

July
Showing off for the crowds at the Monmouth County Fair

August
Mid-air contortion at the Dover Summer Splash

September
Modeling with her ribbons from the Ocean County Decoy and Gunning Show

October
Staying warm and safe during Hurricane Sandy

November
Posing at DockDogs World Championships in Dubuque, Iowa

December
Racing around roadrunner-style in the snow

Favorite Recipes of 2012

This post from Savory Simple inspired me to gather my favorite recipes of 2012 into one post. Enjoy and Happy New Year!

Bucatini with Sausage and Asparagus in a White WIne SauceEggplant ParmesanPeanut Butter Cream Pie

Veggie Wraps with Hummus, Feta and BasilCupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream IcingSmoky Pork Tinga Tacos

Frozen Strawberry MargaritasBBQ Chicken QuesadillasTortellini with Pesto, Asparagus and Tomatoes

Poblano Sausage Tacos with Avocado CremaChocolate-Dipped Coconut CookiesPozole Verde

……………………………………..

Bucatini with Sausage, Asparagus & Tomato in White Wine Sauce | Eggplant Parmesan | Peanut Butter Cream Pie

Veggie Wraps with Feta, Hummus & Basil | Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting | Smoky Pork Tinga Tacos

Frozen Strawberry Margaritas | BBQ Chicken Quesadillas | Pesto Tortellini with Asparagus

Poblano Sausage Tacos with Lime-Cilantro Slaw & Avocado Crema | Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Cookies | Pozole Verde