Friday Favorites #9: Virginia Beach Edition

Happy Friday, everyone, and welcome to my 9th Friday Favorites link-up — a special Virginia Beach edition — courtesy of Heather at Housewife Glamour!

Sadly, our vacation has come to an end, but here are some of the things that I’ve loved while at the beach this past week!

1. Awesome view from the hotel gym

I’m so happy that I made time to work out during the trip! The Fit Foodie 5k is only a week away, and I definitely need to keep training!

I went running on the boardwalk once, which was great, but nothing beats the view from the treadmill in the hotel gym.

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Oceanaire, where we stay every June, and Ocean Beach Club are technically two separate hotels, but they are owned by the same company and share pools and fitness facilities. The fitness center is on the 17th floor of Ocean Beach Club’s tower, and the view alone makes working out worth it (as if there aren’t any other benefits!).

2. Free beach chairs

Since my in-laws are timeshare owners, we have access to free chairs on the beach, instead of having to rent them.

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The guy at the rental station has a list of all of the week’s occupants, and he just verifies who you are before bringing you chairs. The full service is great!

I love sitting in these to read, but if I want to make sure that I also tan my back, it’s best to switch to the old-fashioned method of laying on a towel.

3. Edge of Tomorrow

My husband, his cousin, and I ventured off the oceanfront to the movies on Monday night to see Tom Cruise’s newest film, Edge of Tomorrow. Emily Blunt co-stars.

I wasn’t so sure about this movie when I saw the previews, but the positive reviews from critics swayed me. I’m glad I went to see it, because it’s definitely awesome!

I want to be as bada** and fit as Emily Blunt is in this movie.

4. Adults-only pool and hot tub

I like kids — I’m a 3rd grade Sunday school teacher, after all — but I really do appreciate an adults-only vacation. (Our trip to Sandals in Antigua last summer was our best vacation yet, and the adults-only atmosphere definitely played a part!)

We are big fans of Aqua 21, the adults-only pool and hot tub at Oceanaire.

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While our resort definitely caters to families, they don’t forget those who are child-free (or want a little child-free time), as well.

5. Building a Framework: Everything I Learned My First Year of Blogging by Abby Lawson

DIY blogger Abby Lawson of Just a Girl and Her Blog — who also happens to be a college friend of mine — released her first ebook on Tuesday, titled Building a Framework: Everything I Learned My First Year of Blogging.

I bought it on the first day and have been pouring over it ever since!

In her ebook, Abby shares all of her tips and tricks on how she started and grew her blog to 200,000 page views per month in less than a year and a half! I can’t wait to follow some of Abby’s advice to improve and enhance this blog. If you are looking for some awesome blogging how-to’s, go check her out!

What are you loving this week?

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Friday Favorites #8: Week of May 30, 2014

Happy Friday, everyone, and welcome to my 8th Friday Favorites link-up, courtesy of Heather at Housewife Glamour!

It’s been several weeks since I’ve participated in Friday Favorites, and it’s good to be back.

Here are some of the things that I am loving this week!

1. Organic Black Bean Dip from Wegmans

My obsession with black beans continues. This black bean dip was an impulse buy on Monday — I saw a sign for it when I was passing through the aisle — but I don’t have any regrets about purchasing it!

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There’s a good mix of tomato and black bean flavors, and I do detect the lime. The consistency is alittle thicker than standard salsa. The best part: it’s only 10 calories per tablespoon — making 1/4 cup, the perfect amount to accompany 1 serving of tortilla chips, only 40 calories.

2. “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince (Will Smith)

Nothing says summer like this song. I will always love it!

3. Post on Jesus from James J. Martin, SJ

I discovered Jesuit priest, author, and commentator James J. Martin several years ago when I started reading one of his books, My Life with the Saints. He’s exploded in recognition lately, which is likely related to his appearances on The Colbert Report as the “resident chaplain” and his cultural and religious commentary in major media outlets.

I follow Father Martin on Facebook and Twitter, and last Sunday he posted about how we can know what God is like through the words and deeds of Jesus:

Now it’s true that God is a mystery. Beyond us. Beyond our complete comprehension. St. Thomas Aquinas said that if you can define it, or you think you know it, it’s not God. Because God is always bigger and more beautiful than what we can imagine.

But, by the same token, Jesus tells us quite clearly if you want to know who God is or how God is just look at him. That’s often helpful for people are struggling with their relationship with God. Because often you’re not relating to God, but to a creation of your own. Often, for example, people who have had parents or teachers who were harsh and judgmental project those images onto God. And that becomes their God. And then they have a hard time relating to that. People often need to be invited to let go of those images of God for God’s God.

Jesus shows us quite clearly who God is and how God is. So what is God like? Just look at Jesus. Always merciful, always forgiving, always loving. Yes, Jesus says God will be judging us at the end of our lives, but that make[s] sense. A God who doesn’t judge is basically a God who doesn’t really care what we do. But much more than the judging God, Jesus shows us a loving and merciful and welcoming God in Jesus.

Jesus is always welcoming people. The movement for Jesus is always from the outside in; he’s always bringing people inside. Including. Welcoming.

And most of all what is God like? Love.

I love everything about this.

4. Magnum Mini Classic ice cream bars

I am so obsessed with these Magnum Mini Classic ice cream bars!

My small group leader gave one to me a few weeks ago for the first time, and I’ve been hooked ever since. The chocolate is rich, and you can even see the vanilla bean specks in the ice cream. They are divine and only 150 calories each!

5. #KimyeWedding

I have a confession to make: the Kardashians are my guilty pleasure. I like reality TV in general, but I’ve really tried to cut down on my consumption in the last year. I’ve succeeded, with one exception: the Kardashians. I’ve probably seen 90% of the episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians and all of its spinoffs, like Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami. This obsession really doesn’t make sense, because their lifestyle often contradicts my values, but I can’t help it . . .

. . . Which is why I spent way too much time last weekend searching for details about Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s wedding!

The couple finally released some official photos — posted by E!, on Kim’s Instagram account, and on Kanye’s Twitter — on Tuesday morning.

I’m completely in love with Kim’s dress. She looked flawless.

The above photo has become the most “liked” photo ever on Instagram.

Who knows how long the marriage will actually last — I really hope that it does, and they do seem genuinely happy — but the wedding sounded incredible, from all that I’ve read.  (It should, for the rumored $2.8 to $4 million that they spent on it.)

I’m looking forward to when Keeping Up with the Kardashians returns with new episodes on June 8th!

What are you loving this week?

Do you have a guilty TV pleasure?

Friday Favorites #7: Week of May 9, 2014

Happy Friday, everyone, and welcome to my 7th Friday Favorites link-up, courtesy of Heather at Housewife Glamour!

Here are some of the things that I am loving this week!

1. Grumpy Cat Notecards

One of my friends from work surprised me on Monday morning with this fantastic box of Grumpy Cat notecards. I can’t wait to use them!

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My co-workers know me and my love for Grumpy Cat so well! I work with some really great people.

2. My small group

I was extremely fortunate to find a small group through my church that has strengthened and enriched my faith immensely. I am so blessed by all of the young women in the group and especially by our leader, who serves as a mentor. It’s crazy to think that I didn’t know any of them before I joined the group last fall. On Monday night, we had what will likely be our last regular meeting for the summer, and it reminded me again how much I value our group and how much it has impacted me.

3. Lunch at Heritage India‘s buffet

There were a number of people out of the office this week working at a conference we hosted in Boston, so 6 of us that were left behind trekked to a fantastic Indian buffet for lunch on Wednesday. I seriously can’t get enough of Indian food!

4. Italian Meatball Sliders from Cooking Light

I was finally able to make this recipe from Cooking Light on Wednesday night, and it was worth the wait! These sliders turned out awesome and are a great way to satisfy a craving for Italian flavors. My hubby even gave them his seal of approval! Definitely a win for me.

5. “Birthday” by Katy Perry

I admit it: I love Katy Perry. And this song is just super fun.

What are you loving this week?

Friday Favorites #6: Week of May 2, 2014

Happy Friday, everyone, and welcome to my 6th Friday Favorites link-up, courtesy of Heather at Housewife Glamour!

Housewife Glamour

Here are some of the things that I am loving this week!

1. My city girls umbrella

It rained like crazy for the better part of the week here in D.C., to the point of setting records. This fun umbrella by Nicole Miller, which I’ve had for 8 or 9 years now, made these dreary days a little bit better.

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2. Seth Godin’s Blog

Seth Godin is a marketing guru, and I’m a huge fan of his blog posts, which I receive daily via e-mail. This post from Wednesday has been making me think since I read it:

“I didn’t have time”

This actually means, “it wasn’t important enough.” It wasn’t a high priority, fun, distracting, profitable or urgent enough to make it to the top of the list.

Every few days, Twitter and Facebook soak up a billion hours of ‘spare’ time. Where did that time come from? What did we do before social media was here? Weren’t we busy five years ago?

Running out of time is mostly a euphemism, and the smart analyst realizes that it’s a message about something else. Time is finite, but, unlike money, time is also replenished every second.

The people you’re trying to reach are always recalibrating which meetings they go to, which shows they watch, which books they don’t read. The solution has nothing to do with giving people more time (you can’t) and everything to do with creating more urgency, more of an itch, more desire.

If you work in marketing, fundraising (like me), or sales — or if you just want some good insight from Seth every day — I recommend signing up for his blog!

3. Fantastic free lunch for attending a lecture

I will occasionally attend lectures over my lunch break — one of the perks of working in a city filled with so many interesting organizations. The organization where I go most often always assembles thought-provoking panelists speaking on great topics — I even heard Bill Gates speak a few weeks ago — but one huge incentive is the incredible free lunch!

Complementary lunch is often provided at these events across the city, but usually that means sandwiches and chips — which are good, don’t get me wrong. However, this particular organization that I went to on Tuesday has an in-house caterer and provides a full spread, free of charge! On Tuesday, I had top round roast, baked chicken, steamed asparagus, and slices of French baguette. On top of all of that, the discussion on Biblical solutions to poverty was excellent and challenging. Definitely a great way to spend my lunchtime!

4. Cajun cheese and sea salt crackers

As we were exploring the town during our day trip to Culpepper a few weeks ago, we came across the Culpepper Cheese Company and decided to look around. A woman near the front of the store was offering free samples of several cheeses, and of course I had to have a taste. One of the samples was of this incredible Big John’s Cajun Cheddar from the Beehive Cheese Co. in Utah. My hubby tried it, too, and there was no way we were leaving the store without it! We also bought some sea salt flatbread crackers to go with it.

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Yummy cheddar inside, delicious cajun spices outside!

The piece was pretty big, and we’ve been snacking on it since we got it. (We even served it as an appetizer to our feast on Easter Sunday.) I’m definitely going to buy it again! I know of several artisan cheese shops closer to the city, but if all else fails, I discovered that I can order it on the Beehive Cheese website — hooray!

5. Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

After one of my best friends told me last week how much she loved the movie Heaven is for Real, which is an adaptation of a bestselling book by the same name, I had to see for myself what it was all about. I decided to read the book before seeing the movie, and I couldn’t put it down! I’ve been having trouble focusing on reading lately, but I read this in 3 days!

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I love the instant gratification of my Kindle, but it can be dangerous…

The story about a 4-year-old boy and his near-death/out-of-body experience during surgery is beautiful but also thought-provoking. I plan on posting more about it and my thoughts next week.

What are you loving this week?

Friday Favorites #5: Week of April 25, 2014

Happy Friday, everyone, and welcome to my 5th Friday Favorites link-up, courtesy of Heather at Housewife Glamour! (Happy birthday, Heather!)

Housewife Glamour

Here are some of the things that I am loving this week!

1. Outdoor C25k training

I was definitely hitting the gym a lot when it was colder, but now that it is getting nicer and warmer, I love walking and running outside. I only worked a 1/2 day on Monday, and before I went in to the office, I completed one of my C25k training sessions in the glorious weather. I definitely need to take a cue from how much my mood improves when I sneak in some time outside during the day, like I did on Monday, and make sure to get outdoors a bit during the normal workday.

2. A fresh haircut

I got a haircut over my lunch break on Tuesday afternoon, and it was glorious. Even before it is styled, there is just something great about the feeling of a fresh haircut. And as for styling  — I wish I could have a glam squad to do it for me everyday! My stylist showed me exactly what to do to rock a curly/wavy style this time, and I left the salon with the products he recommended, so we’ll see how it goes.

3. Pants that are getting too loose

I put on a pair of pants this morning that I bought around Christmas, and they are getting a little baggy in the waist! I can tell that I am losing weight, but nothing compares to the confirmation that some of my clothes are getting too big.

4. “Ain’t It Fun” by Paramore

There is something about this song that just makes me want to get up and dance!

5. Easter candy

I’m trying to moderate my consumption of sweets now that Lent is over, but I’m definitely loving the Easter candy that I filled these cute containers with last weekend! Current favorite: Reese’s mini peanut butter eggs, which are only 90 calories each.

What are you loving this week?

Friday Favorites #4: Week of April 11, 2014

Happy Friday, everyone, and welcome to my 4th Friday Favorites link-up, courtesy of Heather at Housewife Glamour!

Housewife Glamour

Here are some of the things that I am loving this week!

1. A 3 day weekend

I decided to take last Monday off from work, basically to catch up on stuff at home — like huge piles of laundry — that I’ve been too busy to accomplish over the last few weeks. I had a doctor’s appointment, too, and knew I would already be out of work for part of the day, so I just decided to take the whole thing.

Even though I didn’t really get to relax on Monday, the 3 day weekend was glorious! It was fantastic to have time on a weekday to work out in the afternoon, make a nice dinner, make and freeze homemade muffins for when my family is in town for Easter, and run errands, in between household chores. I wish I could have a 3 day weekend every week.

2. Living near (many of) my best friends

I was very fortunate when I moved to D.C. almost 6 years ago that several friends from college were already living in the area. Some of them have moved away since, but others have come, and my circle has expanded by getting to know friends of friends. I’m incredibly blessed by having such great community here! Although we may not see each other as much as we used to or would like, these ladies enrich my life in so many ways. (And I was so glad to see two of them on separate occasions this week!)

3. My new workout outfit

I finally bought my new workout outfit on Monday! I wanted to get a new pair of Nike shorts like ones that I already owned, so I went to the Nike Factory Store at the outlet mall near our house. Although they didn’t have the exact style that I was looking for, I came away with two new pairs of shorts and a shirt!

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Typically, I’m not at all one for shirts with cocky sayings, but I love this! There is just something about it that boosts my confidence — I am doing this, and I am awesome!

I still have my eye on that Legally Blonde inspired tank, too…

4. Spinach Melt and Chicken Pita from The Perfect Pita

Continuing my obsession with Mediterranean food, I’m completely hooked on the Spinach Melt and Chicken Pita from a local lunch chain called The Perfect Pita. Whenever my close friend and I meet for lunch on a weekday, we always end up there, and I always order this sandwich. Although it was a bit windy, the weather was so nice when we met yesterday that we were able to eat outside! Glorious.

5. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

This book was recommended to me by some of the women in my small group and a friend from college. I just started it yesterday and am only on page 19, but I have already fallen in love. Ann Voskamp’s writing style is absolutely beautiful and unique, and I can’t wait to dig more into her topic of living a life of gratitude, right where God has me today.

What are you loving this week?

Have you read any good books recently? 

Friday Favorites #3: Week of April 4, 2014

Happy Friday, everyone, and welcome to my third Friday Favorites link-up, courtesy of Heather at Housewife Glamour!

Housewife Glamour

Here are some of the things I am loving this week!

1. Ordering 2 tacos from Chipotle

There are few things I love more than Chipotle, but whenever I eat their food, I tend to overindulge and consequently not feel so good. Fortunately, when you participate in an online group order now — which we often do for meetings and celebrations at work — you can choose how many tacos you would like, from 1 to 3!  An order of 2 tacos with my favorite fillings — chicken, black beans, cheese, chili-corn salsa, and guacamole — is the perfect size at about 600 calories. I can now enjoy one of my favorite meals without the guilt — or indigestion! And I still have room to “borrow” a few chips and guac from a friend.

2. Crab wontons from P.F. Chang’s

P.F. Chang’s is a favorite restaurant of ours, and we went with family on Wednesday night when my husband’s uncle came to town. Apparently, the kitchen made an order of crab wontons that were not needed, so our waitress claimed them and asked if we wanted them for no charge. We accepted the offer — who would turn down free food?! — but I was alittle skeptical because I had never tried them before. (I’m also not a huge fan of cream cheese, and cream cheese is a key ingredient in the wonton filling.) My fears were unfounded; they were amazing!  The crispy wonton wrapper was the perfect contrast to the creamy crab filling.  I didn’t even notice the cream cheese. I will definitely be ordering them again!

3. “Oceans” by Hillsong United

I’ve rekindled my love for contemporary Christian music recently, and I absolutely love this song.

I love the message of trusting in God in any situation, because he is trustworthy.

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

4. Grumpy Cat

What was life like before Grumpy Cat? I seriously love this little girl and all of the memes associated with her.  Plus, today is her second birthday!

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Happy birthday, Grumpy!

5. Seeing a movie on opening night

Last night, I went with my husband and his cousin to see our local theater’s first IMAX 3D showing of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I don’t think I’ve ever read a comic book, but I absolutely love all of the comic book movies and tend to see them in the theater. This installment was really quality, and there’s just something about seeing a movie right when it comes out. And I’m kind of loving that the “midnight showings” are now starting at 8 p.m.!

If you want to see something fun and exciting this weekend, go see this!

(Side note — this movie is set in Washington, D.C., and I loved seeing parts of my city onscreen. However, I think that the downtown scenes were actually shot in Cleveland! I found myself getting really distracted trying to determine what was shot in D.C. and what wasn’t.)

All-in-all, this week went by really quickly. I’m now looking forward to a 3-day weekend — I took Monday off!

What are you loving this week?

What are your thoughts on comic book movies?