Take Me Down Ocean Avenue: Brooklyn Half Recap

Fun fact: I used to listen to Yellowcard’s “Ocean Avenue” on repeat when I first started running back in the day.  But I’m going to talk about another Ocean Avenue today – the one in the Brooklyn Half Marathon.  Yep, another half in the bag and now I’m forcing myself to take a mini hiatus from racing.  I actually wasn’t even planning to race on Saturday but a few months back when everyone and their mom started talking about it, I decided to jump on the bandwagon and sign up.  Serious FOMO issues here. Good thing I was at my computer that day because the race sold out in 45 minutes!!!  Yes, I paid money to endure 13.1 miles and there’s nothing you can do to stop me from doing it again.

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Overall it went well.  It hurt but that’s something that generally comes with the territory.  The saying goes “don’t do anything new on race day” and well, I may have broken that rule a few times.  First off, I was going in with less training than I would have liked.  Sure, I’ve been working out but not really working out properly – mostly taking classes that leave me sore and then dilly-dallying through my running.  Then my sleep and food routines have been all over the place this week.  Between flying back from home and attending our upfront events and concerts, it was sort of a mess.  Yolo.  On Friday, I was invited to a friend’s dinner party (I guess you could say healthy interest/blogger meet-up hosted by GreenBlender folks) and while the food was absolutely delicious, I maybe shouldn’t have stuck to classics.  I didn’t have coffee the morning of and well, that might have messed up some things too.  I’ll leave it at that.

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^^ White strawberries (actually albino strawberries but that just sounds weird) are a thing.  Check it out!

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Anyways, I do have to thank my friend Sara for letting me sleep on her couch the night before because that meant I was about 800 meters from the start and thus I could avoid waking up at 4am to catch one of the few subways actually traveling to Brooklyn.  WINNING!  I also have to give her a huge shout out for crushing her first half! What a champ 🙂

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So the race.  Because of my time from last year’s Washington Heights 5k, I’ve been placed in some of the front corrals.  Funny since I’ve been getting slower with each race and yet my bib still states otherwise.  I rolled off the couch around 5:20, ate my banana and Honey Stinger waffle, got dressed, and was out the door by 5:45.  Bag check was supposedly going to close around 6:10 but I think that was a ploy to get runners to actually show up on time.  Wave #1 didn’t go off until 7am (wave #2 around 7:45) and that left me with plenty of time to find my NP friends and hang out (and use the porta-potty…duh).

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Weather was definitely working in our favor – slightly overcast with no sight of rain.  Perfect since earlier this week it was about a 100% chance of rain and while voluntarily racing 13.1 miles is crazy, running in the rain is even more so and not so enjoyable.  It may have started to get a bit hot and humid but again, thank goodness no rain.

Consensus is most of us started way too fast.  Typical for me when you get caught up in the heat of the moment, you are pumped with your new playlist (Hello Justin Timberlake and EDM remixes by Spotify), and everyone else is jetting out like a bat out of hell (kudos to my friend Sarah for teaching me that phrase about 10 years ago).  Anyways, I was feeling oh so dandy for the first couple miles and then realized I still had 11 more to go.  Cool.

>> Brooklyn Half Course Map <<

We wrapped in and around Prospect Park, struggled powered up the hills where I saw some November Project folks cheering (we have the best cheer squads out there), and then down counter-clockwise and onto Ocean Parkway.  I happened to be running alongside a couple other of NP people, which kept me focused on pushing forward.  We actually switched off pushing the pace and kept one another accountable.  I rarely race with people that I know, but this prevented me from slowing down too much – something the lazy part of me wanted to do.   But yes, the the course.  Prospect Park was nice but lovely Ocean Parkway – remind me again why I signed up for this?  6 miles of not so attractive open road.  Good times.

About two years ago when I raced this course, I thought the same thing, dying with the endless path in front of me and pretty much crashing at mile 10 because I didn’t fuel properly (aka no gu or chew or dates).  This year I did use fuel (dates at 6.5, 7.5, 9, and 11), but had to stop in the porta-potty for a few minutes at mile 10.  Good times.

So here’s a question – do you stop your watch during a race if you use the bathroom?  I did.  I figured I wanted to know my actually running time and after all, the live tracker would find my total time anyways.  I’m pretty spoiled living in New York City because New York Road Runners has their sh*t together – aid stations and porta-potties pretty much at every mile, relatively seamless bag check, and a much more manageable race start than the one I did in Sweden last year.  Sweden was what we call a sh*t show.  Pardon my French today.

After the pit-stop I had to get my head in the game and power through those last few miles.  It was just me, Bieber, JT, and the home stretch.  I may not practice running fast on a daily basis but I do have a pretty good kick, so with 800 meters to go (thank you to the weekly intervals crew!!), I went for it and landed a time of 1:46 clock time (1:45:59) and 1:43ish by my Garmin but not by Strava so maybe I made up that time in my head (likely to happen to me)

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I found my friends, celebrated their PR’s, picked up my bag, and headed to the baseball field to stretch.  Then it was onto the makeshift beer garden (Steeple Chase) to catch up with all the other November Project folks.  I later left with a few friends for brunch and real food on the main island of Manhattan but more on that later this week.

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^^ Highlight of the morning – seeing Ellie Golden in person again

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Saturday wasn’t about PRs.  It was about finishing with a positive mindset and knowing that I can race under various mental and physical conditions.  I have to have that attitude if I want to run or race double that amount in less than 6 months.  I have to pull myself together and enjoy the moment.  I always enjoy seeing my friends and love how supportive they are to one another.  We have folks running their first halves and half marathon veterans.  We are there through the good and the not-so-great.  They are my family here and I don’t think my experience would be the same without them.

But enough sap for one post.  Here’s to the Brooklyn Half, another day where we voluntarily chose to wake up at the crack of dawn, jaunt (sprint, suffer, slog, fly) through 13.1 miles, and party in all different ways afterwards.

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Lunching at The Little Beet, Manhattan

So the daily lunch out might not be the best idea in terms of saving money, especially when you live in New York City, buuuuut once in awhile is a-okay.  Especially if those jaunts are to a funky little vegan and vegetarian friendly joint called The Little Beet.  I had agreed to meet up with a friend for lunch one of these days and since she has some different dietary restrictions, The Little Beet was the spot to go.  I don’t really consider myself vegetarian or vegan but do end up eating along those trends every now and then.  Plus I’m on the hunt to check out all the spots in NYC.  Slowly but surely I’ll make my way around.

The Little Beet
135 W 50th St (btwn 6th/7th)
M-F: 7am-9pm
Sat/Sun: 12pm-7pm

IMG_3854^^ When one eats with other bloggers, they have no problem taking endless amounts of pictures. Caught red-handed 😉  I did love the rustic-chic ambiance they had going on – vines on the walls, wooden tables, and iron chairs.  For a hot second, I forgot that I was in the concrete jungle.

IMG_3849^^ A nice little selection of juices if you choose to drink your meal or accompany the delectable fare.  If my phone actually did the juices justice, you would see all the colors of the rainbow.  So pretty so pretty.

IMG_3855^^ You have two options to order.  One is “to-go” which can be done online or on the mobile app and the other option is obviously in-store.  (The man above is probably thinking, “what weirdo is taking pictures of a restaurant like this?” #diditfortheblog)

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All the options are pretty clear and listed on menus as you wait in line.  The set-up of options reminded me of L.A.’s Lemonade, but with a lot fewer choices.

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IMG_3858 ^^ I was not creative or experimental at all and went for my favorite trio >> salmon w/ kale and some sort of sweet potato.  This time the sweet potato came in the form of a root vegetable mash, which was not as sweet or salty as I had anticipated, but was a nice combo for the kale and salmon.  They played nicely together.

Annnnnnd I couldn’t seem to leave without purchasing a cookie.  I had been trying a no sugar thing that lasted all of three days.  The entire meal had cost me close to $17 or so dollars (thank you New York and thank you fresh foods), so that’s obviously not feasible on the daily but let me leave you with this – it was “national cookie day”.  I’m a sucker for holidays.  So there.

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“Today me will live in the moment, unless it’s unpleasent in which case me will eat a cookie” – Cookie Monster

Celebrating Good Times in NYC

Well folks, a year has come and gone and today happens to be my 1 year anniversary of living in the big ‘ol apple aka one of the craziest cities in the country (if not world), and yes, I’m still loving life.  There honestly are times where I have to stop and simply take a look around to fully understand how I got here.

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There were ups and downs and I can’t exactly pinpoint what it is, but I don’t think I have been this confident or happy in years.  I’m still in the midst of those crazy mid-twenties, where you don’t really know where home is, where you might meet your friends or if you even have friends in your new town.  Well, arriving one year ago today, I didn’t really know a single soul in the city.  Ok, not true.  I knew people but that was mainly through my internship.  No family, no friends, and no stability.  I was put to the test and I like to think that this sink or swim mentality helped me thrive.

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I saw it as an opportunity to break free from my insecurities and show people the person I wanted to be.  I stopped stressing as much.  I wasn’t as high strung.  Instead, I took my love for exploring and working hard and went to town (but really).

I enjoyed my first official fall filled with changing leaves and all the pumpkin one could hope for. (Also to realize how obsessed the blogger world is with pumpkin…yours truly included.  I refuse to start this year until October 1st but more on that later).

IMG_3914When my sorority big sister, Mary, came to visit 🙂

I started the fall with an internship and soon found myself in my first full-time job.  Not only was it my first job out of college, but it was at a very well respected company with an even better cohort and management team.

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Poor quality picture and a bit old but I truly have lucked out here

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I survived my first winter (fingers crossed as the worst) with one helluva lot of snow.

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I ran a half marathon (and almost PR’d) through crazy 20mph winds and wind chill of 9F.

IMG_1414_FotorI served as a tour guide for a few of my friends and family.  Meghan here – putting on a brave face in January (note that it was probably the warmest day of January, and possibly winter, on this day)

IMG_2185Making some of the best friends through blogging

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I realized how magical spring can be with the return of the warm days, seaside races (AND a PR!), and blossoming flowers.

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I found new places to run, but always returning to my favorites – Central Park, the Highline, and the East River Trail.

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I made friends (mostly due to my friend Laura’s amazing networking skills) in the city.

IMG_2937These are just a few but there are so many more.  We go out, we explore, we eat, we run, we chill at home, but most of all, we have fun.

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Then there was summer where I bounced up and down the coast, experienced a few freak rain storms, some humidity, and some oddly cool weather.

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Took advantage of every free concert possible – between the Today Show’s Concert Series at Rockefeller Plaza and ABC’s Music in Central Park.

IMG_4870I dove into yet another club, November Project, and love it.  Let’s hope the 5:30am wakeup calls don’t do me in (that or the soon to be chilly weather).

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But all in all, I made it. I made it when some people questioned how this California gal could. And I’m not done. No, not just yet.  The lease is signed for at least one more year and as I usually tell people, I’m not unhappy, so why change what’s not broken?  With so many new friends, hobbies, and activities, the options for the future are endless.

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“You have to go whole heartedly into anything in order to achieve anything worth having” – Frank Lloyd Wright

August Life of Late

Do you ever have those days where you just feel on top of the world?  My mind starts bouncing at a millions miles a minute, which is mostly due to the pure energy, adrenaline, too much sugar/coffee pulsing through my system, and post-exercise high.  So, all of this will either help me power through the work day or cause severe ADD.  Issues, obviously.

While I really cannot believe that summer is almost to a close, I’m excited for what the fall has in store.  More on that later but for now, I wanted to recap some of what’s been going on in the city for the past few weeks.

AUGUST LIFE OF LATE

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Running around town and seeing all the cool sites with my blends 🙂 My girl – Carrie – was traveling up and down the east coast and was ever so sweet to stop in for a quick jog and sushi/froyo dinner.  Seems to be our ritual 🙂

IMG_5723Announcement: There is a MICHEAL’s CRAFT STORE NEAR ME! Oh how I miss my arts and crafts.  The only Michael’s I knew of was on the upper west side and that’s a bit far to justify.  However, this little section of the west side is daaaangerous.  In the span of three blocks we have the following: Michael’s crafts, Harmon’s beauty discount store, the Container Store, TJMaxx, Marshall’s, Trader Joe’s, and Bed Bath & Beyond.

IMG_5733Chilling Walking until we have blisters.  My buddy AJ was down from Boston for the weekend and so it was ever so necessary to explore up and down the island.  Most of our items on the checklist have been included in my NYC Summer Explorations Part 1 and upcoming Part 2.

IMG_5768 NOVEMBER PROJECT

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am now a NP-NYC Convert and will rep it wherever I go.  If you haven’t heard all about it from Sarah (Baltimore tribe) or Ali (NYC tribe), you must check it out.  I followed Ali’s posts for awhile and decided to take the plunge.

What do you know?  This lovely Grant Memorial happened to be the location of my first Friday NP workout.  Sure the 5:15 am wake up was killer, but people do it all the time, so it couldn’t be that bad, right?  It was absolutely the most amazing environment and community.  Gone are the days of club soccer teams and high school cross country, where your teammates are your best friends.  Yet, this community feeling and work hard/play hard mentality still exists out there! Healthy living for the win here.

IMG_5772 Thank you November Project for taking and posting some of the most flattering and non-flattering images of our workouts.  But really, the level of photography used can either highlight how much fun you are having in such a picturesque environment (even the streets by the pier) and how unattractive working out can be sometimes.  If only we were like this ridiculously attractive guy running.

Maybe I’ll try taking selfies with all the good-looking people in my next race like this girl did.  Props my friend, props.

IMG_5782One of the best salads I’ve had all summer.
~ Bacon, lettuce, corn, tortilla chips, tomatoes, feta, lemon vinagrette ~

IMG_5792~ Summer Streets ~
For about three weeks in August, NYC shut down motor vehicle traffic on Park Avenue and then opened up the lanes for biking/running/walking/roller-blading.  They had rest stops every 10-15 blocks and even offered free bike and roller blade rentals.

IMG_5798 I was feeling the need for something sweet and stopped by The City Bakery for its famous chocolate chip cookie.  Yes, this is the size of a softball and it was delicious.  Quite rich and heavy on the sugary side, but well worth the $3.50.

IMG_5816 The NP annual “Better than Bedtime” event.  Everyone was to arrive in pairs, although we obviously broke that rule.  My friend Marnie + Tracy + I dressed up as dominoes or a pair of die – pick your fancy.  From there, we all ran the streets of New York for a solid 4 miles.

IMG_5822 Just casual planking in the middle of a NYC street fair.  No big deal

IMG_5796Enjoying Chipotle salads after working out.  Nothing in the world like a bit of Tex-Mex.

IMG_5847 Waking up to work out for this view

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Happy Hour Hopping at the Hudson Hotel 

As you can see, my brain tends to jump back and forth and can sometimes drive my friends insane. My family has gotten used to it and my mom likes to call me Tigger (except for the time I was an Eeyore thanks to high school/college anxiety and stress).  Good to know I’ve bounced back.

How are you spending this lovely summer weekend?

Summer Camp for Bloggers

Yes this Blend Retreat recap is probably a week late but better late than never. Plus I had to break it up from the other lovely blogger’s recaps.  Wouldn’t want to step on everyone’s toes now or overwhelm the readers.  That’s right, always thinking about y’all.

Isn’t it great when you enter an event not knowing a soul and leaving with some honest to goodness best friends?  I went into the weekend with open expectations, just hoping to meet some great people and be outdoors.  What I received was so much more.  I’m not just talking about the endless supply of goodies from Arctic Zero to Quest Bars, but possibly lasting friendships, raw and real conversations, and so much more.

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Where would I even begin on this trip?  Well, let’s just say that I’m still riding the high over a week later.  Sure it’s back to work and the grind of city life but reliving those memories of the outdoors and blogger bliss helps keep me sane.  I’m not so impressed by the 12 hours it took to arrive home on Sunday and lovely humid and rainy weather I was greeted with in the city but that’s another battle.  I have a feeling this summer will be the true test of my strength on the east coast.

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If you didn’t catch on, I’m recapping my trip to Park City Utah for the Blend 2014 Retreat.  Now many people are unaware of the term “blend” just as I was unaware of the term “hangry” for a while.  No fear – it’s another way to say “Blogger Friends” and I personally think it has a better appeal than “hangry”.

But anyways, this retreat was a way for bloggers – most of which fall into the healthy living category – to meet and connect.  Some of us follow one another’s blogs and have connected online a number of times, but have never met in person.  A few of my coworkers think this is odd but in today’s reality of online dating and technology in general, it couldn’t seem more normal.

The adventure began Friday where I successfully took public transportation to JFK and arrived way too early for my flight.  Three coffees and about 6 hours later, I was in Park City.  Those who had actually planned ahead had arrived on time and were off on a group run led by the ever so sweet Janae (Hungry Runner Girl).  I arrived just in time to indulge in a snack break hosted by Arctic Zero.  After all, those travel days are quite exhausting, don’t you agree?

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There I had the chance to meet my roommate Megan (who was uhMAZING) and sip on a smoothie made with almond milk, Arctic Zero and some frozen fruit.  I did feel a bit hipster with my mason-jar like mug, but that’s as hipster as I’ll ever be.  We scooped up a few extra mugs and were on our way.

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The swag bags for this trip were beyond belief fantastic.  But really.  The sheer amount and quality of goods practically paid for the trip and will definitely help my future grocery bills.  I can’t even begin to list out all the goodies we received but just know, I’ll be pumping out some  posts with my favorites.

One of my favorite sponsors was Quest Nutrition. The representatives at the retreat were just a blast to hang out with and get to know.  I found it even more fun to talk with them because they lived near my hometown!  I love those small world connections 🙂

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The whole trip really did seem like a summer camp.  We had a schedule with boot camp on Saturday and Sunday mornings, both of which were oodles of fun.  I love working out in the morning and well just love working out in general.  We had sets of push-ups and burpees and even some sprints. What’s funny is I completely forgot about the altitude and was wondering why it was such a struggle.  Oh, working out in the mountains is not the same as sea-level-ish Manhattan…blonde moment.

Day #1 – Led by ONNIT – Total Human Optimization

Day #2 – Led by GPP Fitness (definitely my favorite of the two)

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Such an attractive picture right?  Hopefully you can’t spot me

Following our workouts, we were treated to buffet breakfasts – day #1 sponsored by Quest and day #2 sponsored by Yoplait.

IMG_4793Picture with my new blend Ashley ❤ Also, there’s something homey about drinking coffee out of a mug.  

I HIGHLY recommend the coconut yogurt by Yoplait.  It may have a bit more sugar than a plain Greek variety but I’ve never tasted a flavor more pure and even enjoy the flakes of coconut stirred in the middle.

I do however have a love/hate relationship with buffets.  This is because while there are a ton of different options to choose from, I feel obligated to take a bit of it all. This usually leaves me a bit full and sleepy but no fear because a hike was near!

IMG_4758Pep talk (nutrition-talk really) by Organic Valley and a quick pic with celebrity trainer Joel Harper

That’s right, on Saturday we took the gondola up the mountain and proceeded to hike around some of the ski trails.  While it wasn’t like the trails I was used to at Mammoth Lakes, it sure was nice to be out in the fresh air.  My roommate and I attempted the long route back home and may or may not have just created our own trail down the hill.  Definitely wouldn’t have passed the scout test there.

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What was truly nice about this retreat is that it enabled the bloggers to hang out, explore the outdoors, and get to know each other.  We didn’t have any seminars and there wasn’t a strict schedule.  We simply were allowed to explore, chat, and get to know one another as well as the beautiful area around us.

IMG_4871_ Fotor_CollageA stop into town with my gals is of course a must.  As is a picture with Mr. Moose.  What can I say, I make friends with all the animals, real or not-so-real.

It was also refreshing to talk to everyone about food, fitness, body image and more.  Really it seemed as though we had been best friends forever.  In fact, I had more heart-to-hearts with these gals than I did with some of my college friends.  I guess it comes with the territory of blogging – you are practically putting your life out there for the world to see and read.

But wait…there’s MORE

IMG_4798We ended the weekend with a giveaway, one prize for every blogger.  I swear it was like Christmas morning or winning a mini-lottery.  This girl came home with a “six month supply” of Organic Valley coupons.  Who knows if this will really last me six months but I’m game to try.  It’s safe to say I won’t have to make too many grocery stops in the future.  That or I’ll be able to bake some more goodies for my co-workers.  Either way, it’s an epic success.

Some of my new blends below 🙂

Candice Bement – http://hungrymotherrunner.com

Heather Blackmon – http://betterwithveggies.com

Danica Buss – http://itsprogression.com

Lindsay Cotter – http://cottercrunch.com

Ashley Cubit-Palms – http://milesonoats.com

Amanda Dewitt – http://semihealthyblog.com

Nicole Handler – http://fitfulfocus.com

Janae Jacobs – http://hungryrunnergirl.com

Molly Keck – http://thislifeissparkling.com

Samantha Kolpin – http://betterwithsprinklesblog.com

Julie Luong – http://juliegoeshealthy.com

Mollie Lyon – http://molliessprinklesoflife.com

Madelyn Moon – http://moonfitness.net

Megan Olson – http://theskinny-life.com

Heather Powers – http://kissmybroccoliblog.com

Bethany Qiang – http://thesmallvictories.com

Stephanie Reiter – http://wholesomebydesign.com

Emily Roark – http://perfectionisnthappy.com

Laura Skladzinski – http://50by25.com

Brooke Stluka – http://wreckingroutine.com

Gina Topley – http://healthloveandchocolate.com

Brittany Trentham – http://delightsanddelectables.com

Kait Welch – http://chickadeesays.com

Katie Wheeler – http://peaceloveandoats.com

Lindsay Wright – http://lindsayslist.com

Until next time my blends…

June’s Birthdays and Blogger Club!

Welcome back to the week and welcome to June!!  Five months have flown by and here we are on June 2nd.  We happen to be celebrating a few things in my neck of the woods, so here we go.

First on the agenda is to wish my little sis a very happy birthday!  We’ve had some good times together (whether we like it or not 😉 jk we get along) and here’s to many more!

IMG_0851From our days rooting on the USC Trojans (even in the boonies of South Bend)

CIMG3320To gallivanting off to Mexico (even though we didn’t really speak Spanish…oh well) Quieres mango?

What’s pretty funny about these pictures is that Meghan is wearing a natural smile.  Now if I were to post half of the pictures that she is caught in these days, there’s bound to be some funny faces, tongue out, just plain ‘ol goofy Meghan.  My dad doesn’t always like this but she’s a hoot and somehow gets away with it.

Onto the next topic of the day – SECRET BLOGGER CLUB!  Except the fact that it’s not uber secret and really any blogger can join.  My friend/blend over at The Blonder Side of Life came up with this fun link up last month and I was pleased as punch to help host this month’s edition.  Forgive me if the link up isn’t 100% working…I really do need to put more time aside to understanding the ins and outs of my blog.  I might even brush up on some coding skills with the help of my friend Laura, who is a beast at coding.

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The purpose: to discover new blogs, make new friends, and support the smaller bloggers of blogland 🙂

InspirationFeeling shunned from the “bigger” bloggers

The rules: There are no rules!! (j/k mostly)

-Make sure to follow your Hosts on social media Blonder Side and California Endless Summer

-Display the badge in your post or link back (mandatory)

-Link-up, click around, and be friendly 😀

Lastly is the fact that my baby blog turned a whopping 2 years old yesterday!  Some ice cream was consumed to celebrate the occasion and here’s to many more memories.
So with that folks, I leave you to your Monday.

CIMG3335Oldie but goodie.  You cannot escape me Megnan, even my Twitter feed of text messages 😉