The Barn-B-Q

I’ve still got a few honeymoon recaps to get to, but I figured I’d pause all the wedding talk for a minute to recap a fun run Chris and I did last weekend.

About a week before the wedding, an Active.com email full of upcoming races popped up in my inbox, and one of the only local races looked really intriguing. The race was billed as a multi-distance trail run in one of our favorite spots, Watchung Reservation. Specifically, the race was taking place in Feltville, which is an old abandoned town in the park. Chris and I had explored it when we first moved to the area, and we actually went there for a hike during my bachelorette weekend.

Figuring we’d want something fun to look forward to the first weekend after the honeymoon, Chris suggested we register. The race actually offered a run or hike option for all the distances save the 10 mile distance. Worried I’d be too full of pasta to ever run again, that made me feel more confident in signing up. So, we did!

The start time was 11 am which seemed a little late for the summer, but it ended up being a drizzly overcast morning, so it was nice to sleep in and still very cool at the start. Ambitious Chris really wanted to run or hike the 6 mile distance, but I was nervous we wouldn’t be able to keep up with the runners for 6 hilly miles, would get lost running by ourselves and would miss the fun after party if we hiked.

Oh yeah, the after party. That’s actually what really sealed the deal for us. The race offered beer and BBQ in a barn following the race, hence the name.

So, we decided to run the 3 mile distance. There was also a 2 mile option. Boy am I glad we only signed up for the 3! The trail was no joke! Almost the whole way was single file and threaded through the woods up and down hills and over rocks and branches. I had to stop and walk several times due to steep inclines or declines or loose rocks. We had debated bringing Layla, and I’m so glad we didn’t since she would have had none of that.

It was an intense full body workout considering how often I had to use my core to keep my balance or reach my arms out to grab trees and branches for support. It was actually awesome. We were totally exhausted by the end, but we had so much fun! The trail was incredibly well marked, which is really saying something because I get lost in my own town. The organizers were so friendly and helpful and really worked hard to ensure everyone had a fun and safe experience.

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The after party was awesome too! They had kegs of beer and burgers, hot dogs, chicken, pulled pork, picnic sides and tons of snacks and chips. There were also games of corn hole set up along with plenty of tables and chairs.

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Registration was very inexpensive ($40 per person) for all the food they offered. The barn was really spacious and offered actual bathrooms, which remained the cleanest public bathrooms I’ve ever been in through the end of the event. Maybe trail runners are just neater people?

Everything about the race managed to be simultaneously very well organized and totally laid back and fun. There was literally no detail that was missed which is amazing considering this was the first year of this race. It really was a wonderful day, and I’m glad we made the Barn-B-Q our first run as a married couple! I already can’t wait for next year!

Our first real outing!

This past weekend, we took Layla to South Mountain Reservation which has a few trails as well as an awesome dog park. I was a little nervous about how she’d react because she’s still pretty timid in the house, and she hated the car trip out there. Once we got to the trails though, she was a different dog! She was so excited to be out and about in the fresh air and sunshine. It was really sweet.

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After our hike, I felt like she was up for the dog park. She’s skittish around people, but she seems to really love other dogs. I was still on the nervous side though. Obviously, this dog has a dark history, and I was worried being around so many dogs and owners would freak her out. Of course,  I was totally wrong. She had a blast at the dog park. She ran around and played. It was really sweet when she would come back to us almost as if to “check-in” and then take off running again. She came home and after a much needed bath, slept for hours.

Rescuing Layla has been a challenge in a different way than I expected. Honestly, we go so lucky. She’s kind and calm and incredibly well behaved. She loves us, and shows it. However, she does have moments where something we do, (me- talking too loudly, Chris- playing guitar) sets her off into a panic. She’ll shake pretty hard and nothing we do can make her feel better. A lot of the time, it feels like we’re doing everything wrong. This weekend we finally felt like we did something to make her happy, and that made us very happy.

I’m 27 now!

So, a few weeks ago I turned 27, and my 27th year has already been so busy that I’ve haven’t been able to update forever. Regardless, I’m another year older and none the wiser. Or something like that. It was a pretty great birthday. Maybe the best I’ve had since the big 2-1. Since my birthday was a Tuesday, day-of celebrations were pretty tame, but still wonderful. Chris made me breakfast (extra impressive since it was 5:30 in the morning!), and the eat-razaganza continued for the rest of the day.

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My coworkers surprised me with mini cupcakes by setting up a fake meeting which I totally fell for (and actually panicked a bit about since  I wasn’t prepared #typeAproblems). Later, Chris took me out for Thai at the best Thai place in the county. Seriously, this place is legit. It’s in an old-school air-stream trailer, and the food is delicious. The only participant of the day who didn’t cooperate was the weather. It went from 70 and sunny to freezing rain throughout the day. It was pretty gross. Otherwise, I felt super loved and happy. My mom dropped off beautiful tulips (which the frost and my black thumb have already killed) and delicious cupcakes. I was also treated to about 20 cards. I love giving and getting cards, so this was a big deal!!

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27 definitely started with a bang and kept getting better. The following weekend, we went to Atlantic City to spend the night at Harrah’s with Debbie and Mike. Cameron and Rich (who live in South Jersey now!) met us for dinner at El Camino. The food was great, but the drinks were really excellent. I had a strawberry margarita with prosecco in it, and it was a real challenge not to gulp the whole thing down. After dinner, we all hit the casino floor for a little gambling, and everyone came out on top! I couldn’t believe it! I played a few hands of blackjack and doubled my money, and Chris hit a number in roulette! Casinos are definitely more fun when you’re winning.

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We wrapped up the weekend with Saturday morning brunch followed by our church’s Easter Vigil. It started after sundown and lasted longer than 3 hours which sounds awful but was actually beautiful. I can’t really describe it, but the combination of music, readings and celebration were so uplifting. Luckily, our church is in a college town, so when we came out starving after midnight, we were able to grab some great BBQ for dinner.

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The next morning was Easter which we hosted. Chris’ mom, dad, brother and uncle joined us along with my mom and sister. Chris’ mom brought their dog, and the two girls (plus the two cats) got along great! We had the food catered by a local company which was absolutely the right choice. We picked everything up the day before, so all I had to do the day off was re-heat. I got to spend so much more time with everyone than if I had been cooking, and the food was awesome.

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We ended the weekend happy and exhausted which is usually the sign of a great birthday!

More updates than time

Obviously it’s been fun times in my little corner of the world lately, but I just haven’t had the time to record any of it yet. I hate to be one of those OMGSOBUSY people, but I’ve spent more of the past 72 hrs at work than at home. Yuck.

Otherwise, things are great! Layla is a wonderful fit for our family. She’s mostly a total couch potato, which makes me feel less guilty about not being able to take her on long walks on these cold spring days.

She’s actually not a big fan of being outside at all. She usually does her business and runs quickly back in the house. We are working to get her a little more comfortable outside (because I suspect her reluctance is actually fear from a bad experience), but she’s definitely on the mellow end of the spectrum and is happy just to chill out with us.

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Excuse the crazy eyes.

The cats are mostly adjusted. Miles actually likes her when he’s interested at all. Moshi isn’t so sure, but they do like the things that come with her presence. Like the new bed …

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Spring is here. I guess. It doesn’t feel much better than winter, but the sun is out a little bit later which makes the nights after work seem a little longer. I’ll take it.

We finalized our invitations which for some reason was the most stressful wedding task I’ve had so far. The company we went with was absolutely fabulous, but I was a nervous wreck. I was just so afraid of accidentally putting the wrong date or time or something (as if all those details haven’t been permanently etched in my brain). I’m glad we finally gave the go ahead to print, and I can’t wait to send them out! 113 days to go!

We also picked our wedding bands last week. We both tried on probably 12 rings. We were there for a couple hours. We finally picked a perfect pair. It was great. Then I woke up yesterday morning and immediately knew I made a mistake. I was between two rings, and I picked the wrong one.

Luckily, I haven’t really exhibited too much bridal crazy yet, so Chris and his mom (who works at the jewelry store… I know!) we’re happy to cancel the first order and place the new one. I felt so silly, but this was really the first time a decision hasn’t felt right, so I figured I should go with my gut. Hopefully this isn’t the beginning of a descent into wedding madness.

I would just like to note that it was so cool to see Chris in a wedding band. It’s beginning to feel so real!

I went to the witch doctor finally and got some good news on my stomach. Well, good news in that they figured out what they think is wrong (yeast overgrowth) and can get to work fixing it. I want to write some more about it because it’s so fascinating (maybe only to me), but in short in involves 6 pills (three different herbal supplements) a day and a low yeast diet. So far, I feel pretty much the same, but I’m optimistic for the first time in a very long time.

Conversely, I still have no answers on my hamstring. My primary care physician wants me to do 6-8 weeks of PT, and I’m sure he’s right because PT helped my IT band soooo much, but I just don’t have the time right now. I’m going to try and go at least once a week and hopefully supplement with stretching at home. I’m really starting to miss running pain free. I may have also impulsively signed up for a 10k in May, so I’d really like to run that.

We visited my grandparents in Florida. It was an incredibly quick trip. We flew in on Friday evening after work and home on Sunday night. I’ve been hoarding my vacation time for the wedding, and it was a little rough getting back into things on Monday morning, but I survived. The trip was the perfect relaxing break. The weather was warm and wonderful, and Chris and I even ran 3 pain-free miles on Saturday. Totally worth it.

I booked the trip before we adopted Layla, and I felt horrible leaving her, but she and the pet sitter got along great, and I think it helped her warm up a bit more to new people.

We narrowly avoided another snowstorm today, and I really hope even the threat of snow is behind us, but I know April in NJ better than that. Fingers crossed!

Snow days

Oh man. This really is just the most wonderful time of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of stress rushing around and trying to get everything done in time for the big day. I’m currently writing this on my way to work after a whopping 4.5 hours of sleep. Yeah. Still, I’m having a blast. Here’s what’s been up.

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Snow! We’ve gotten two snow storms already, so I think we’re in for it this winter (although we did have record breaking heat in NJ yesterday (75* in NJ! In December! Kids in shorts! 3 days before Christmas! What are we? Southern California?) so what do I know?). Crazily, I didn’t hate the snow. I may have even called it “beautiful.” That’s astonishing coming from me because I usually cannot stand snow. It’s especially odd considering I had to shovel it for the first time in many years. Maybe it’s the burbs?

Maybe it’s the dates? I tend to turn into a bit of a hermit in the cold weather months, so in an effort to resist going underground until April, Chris and I both brainstormed a mess of date ideas. We came up with some together and thought up the rest on our own. We’ve been picking them at (semi) random, and it’s been a really fun way of avoiding the whole, “What do you want to do? I don’t know. What do you want to do?” thing.

Our first date (hehe) was at this slamming pizza place (Star Tavern) I used to go to as a kid. It was just as great as I remembered.

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Our next date was a walk around town admiring the Christmas lights and snow sculptures with spiked hot cocoa in hand. It ended up being the first of the unseasonably warm days, so it was nice out but there was still lots of snow on the ground to admire.

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This one was my date idea, and I’ll admit I was nervous if it would come together, but we ended up having an absolute blast. Definitely a new tradition.

Speaking of traditions, we attended our third annual Carol Sing at the beautiful Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark. I can’t even express how wonderful and awesome (in the truest meanings of those overused (by me) words) it is. It absolutely just fills my heart and soul with the Christmas spirit. Love.

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I also got to celebrate Christmas a little early this week. Chris got me tickets to see the Nutcracker at the State Theater in New Brunswick.

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Gosh are they talented. The dancers, the musicians, everyone! It was such a fun show, and a perfect night. I love experience gifts. As an adult, I feel like I buy most of what I need throughout the year, but I love receiving gifts of things I wouldn’t normally do without someone else suggesting it. So fun.

Oh and side note: the theater was right across the street from our wedding venue. Guess what I learned Saturday… Wedding fever? I have that. Like whoa. It came out of nowhere, but I cannot stop thinking about July 12. SO CLOSE!

So that’s been on the horizon. It’s two days for Christmas, and I’m feeling very merry. Can’t wait for the big man to arrive!

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That’s right. In Cranford, Santa gets a police escort. He’s kinda a big deal.

Summer List Update

I guess, much as I hate to admit it, summer has come to a close. As always, it went by in the blink of an eye. This year was even more of a blur thanks to all the major life developments. This was truly a summer of change if there ever was one! We started the summer with a move to our new home, and I rounded out the summer by starting a new job after 4 years with my last company. It was an exciting (and, if we’re being honest, overwhelming) season of change, and I normally never love the winter, but this year, I’m really looking forward to a little hibernation.

Before I close this chapter, let’s see how I did on my summer list!

Hit the Jersey Shore!  Shamefully, I did not make it to the shore even once this summer. Truthfully, I’m not even sure how I missed this one. I think we spent the majority of our free weekends on house projects. It felt silly to spend all our money on this joint and then flee on the weekends. Still, there’s no excuse for a Jersey girl to not at least dip her toes in the Atlantic in a summer. Luckily, I did spend a lot of time on other bodies of water with our Wisconsin trip and our boat tour of the Hudson! 

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Host our first guests at our new home. Success! They even had a bed! Right guys? 😉

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Throw an awesome housewarming party to welcome all our friends to our new digs! Great Success! Also my “little” sister is way too tall!

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Eat ice cream. Fail. I ate it maybe twice? I’m ashamed. I blame my terrible stomach.

See one big summer blockbuster in theaters. Also a fail. Chris and I actually planned a movie date, but when it rolled around there was nothing either of even sort of wanted to see. I blame Hollywood here.

Eat dinner outside at home and restaurants. We did eat outside, but we also quickly learned the mosquitoes in the burbs are not a joke. We almost got eaten alive during our dinner attempt, so we stuck to lunch outside after that.

Sleep in, then walk to town for bagels. Haha we ate a lot of bagels, but we never walked to them. We usually just drove. A mile doesn’t seem so far until you’re hungry, then the car is just too convenient.

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Enjoy the heck out of our August engagement party. HUGE SUCCESS. We had the best time ever!

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Finally, take advantage of our open invitation to Chris’ parents’ pool. I went, but I didn’t go in, and now, for the life of me, I can’t remember why!

Do some yoga. Yoga done! Once indoors, once outside! Success!

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Finish a 10 mile long run. Oh yes. And a 12 miler. And two 13.1s and done.

Walk, run or bike NYC. Just the run. Bummer on the biking.

Set up and put our new grill to work! Huge success! Chris was a grilling machine this summer, and I loved it!

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Check out some fireworks. We saw some from our backyard! That counts!

Find a local farmer’s market and take advantage of the best produce of the year. Ok, so this was a flop. The farmer’s markets around here are not great, which was really disappointing for me. Maybe next year we’ll do a CSA.

Figure out how to drive to at least 3 places in my new hometown without the GPS. I can get to Home Depot, A&P and the UPS store. It’s wild times around here.

Maybe actually finally go to that Mets game. Fail. Again.

Road trip to Wisconsin and back again! 30 hours. So much fun.

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Tackle one big DIY project. You better believe it!

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Canoe/Kayak down the mighty Rahway River! Sadly, this didn’t happen either. I am indeed bummed about that. There’s still time though! Maybe I’ll add this to the non-existent fall list.

So, 13 out of 20 if my math is right (and there’s a good chance it isn’t; i’m tired). Not bad. It was such a full, fun summer! We moved and made some big progress on turning our house into a home, and our new town into our neighborhood. We ran and roadtripped with friends. We celebrated our home and our engagement and certainly counted our blessings. It was wonderful and busy. I have a feeling, I’ll remember this one forever, and I’m pretty happy about that.

Like I said though, I’m looking forward to a little winter hibernation. I have a bunch more projects I’d like to tackle around the house. I’m looking forward to a break from running and a focus on other things (like getting in shape for this wedding. and sleeping. mostly sleeping). I’ve got books waiting to be finished and so much baking to do. Summer you were lovely. I’ll miss you, and I plan on spending the next 9 months resting up for the next go around.

The 2013 Summer List

I’m knee deep in house projects, and I hope to share some soon, but for now, let’s talk about things more exciting than lawnmowers and spray paint: the summer list!

I did this list last year, and it was a great way to brainstorm fun summer activities and also keep track of everything I did (and didn’t do) in the best quarter (well, in NJ it’s really more like 6th) of the year. I’m especially excited to compare this year’s to last because our change of scene means some things are probably going to be different. Others will be very much the same.

Hit the Jersey Shore! This should always be first on every Jersey resident’s list.

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Host our first guests at our new home. Also, maybe figure out how to host houseguests.

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Donny and Amy, would you guys rather sleep on a pile of cardboard boxes or use each of the cats as a pillow? Both??

Throw an awesome housewarming party to welcome all our friends to our new digs!

Eat ice cream. With sprinkles. Often.

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See one big summer blockbuster in theaters. I’m such a cheap-o that it’s really rare for me to pay to go to the movies, but I do really love it, so I’ll break the bank for it once. Maybe on a matinee.

Eat dinner outside at home and restaurants.

Sleep in, then walk to town for bagels.

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Enjoy the heck out of our August engagement party

Finally, take advantage of our open invitation to Chris’ parents’ pool. Seriously, how have I not done this yet?

Do some yoga. Preferably outside.

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Finish a 10 mile long run.

Walk, run or bike NYC. Maybe all three?

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Set up and put our new grill to work!

Check out some fireworks. This time maybe Chris and I will even be on the same continent!

Find a local farmer’s market and take advantage of the best produce of the year. I’m looking at you, Jersey corn.

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Figure out how to drive to at least 3 places in my new hometown without the GPS.

Maybe actually finally go to that Mets game.

Road trip to Wisconsin and back again!

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Tackle one big DIY project. Paint our Ikea dressers? Our dining table??

Canoe/Kayak down the mighty Rahway River! 

Certainly seems like enough to keep us busy for the summer, but you gotta capture it while it’s here because everything is better in the summertime.