NYCRuns Queens Half Marathon

My marathon training plan called for a half marathon at week 8, and I couldn’t make my usual Newport half. So I looked around for a race in the same timeframe and sort of stumbled upon the Queens Half. Chris has family out there we don’t visit enough, so I figured it’d be a two birds, one stone situation. The $50 price tag definitely didn’t hurt either, so I signed us both up.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but the race was a really great experience! They had three packet pickup options, two before the race in different locations and one on race morning. I love being able to grab my tee shirt and number in advance, so this was pretty nice, and I took advantage of it. I picked up both our packets on Friday after work at Jack Rabbit Union Square. The pickup was awkward as they had crammed everyone in the very back of the store which made it a little chaotic. I’ve never been to Jack Rabbit before and was hoping to do a little shopping, but after grabbing my packet I just wanted to get out of there. Luckily, that was the only snafu of the experience.

We were up before the sun on Sunday and out the door by 6:30. The drive was pretty easy because no one was really on the roads yet. We got to take in some pretty stunning views too.

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Chris drove, and I navigated (poorly). Everyone had warned us that the parking situation would be difficult, but public transportation would have taken us hours. Chris found a nearby garage, and it was well worth the $8 to park there and not have to worry about it. We had a bit of a walk to the start, but it wasn’t too long, and the neighborhood felt safe even at that early hour.

We made it to the race just before the 8am start only to find long bathroom lines. They had like 15 porta potties for almost 1000 runners, so it was a little busy. We sort of panicked because we thought those were the only bathrooms on the course so it was now or much later, but we also didn’t want to miss the start as pre-race emails warned it was starting at 8 on the dot. Thankfully, the race directors decided to push the start back to 8:15 to accommodate everyone waiting in line. That was so awesome of them. I’d never seen that outside of a hometown race before, so that was much appreciated.

The start was really calm and fun. Everyone was just hanging out talking waiting for the start, and just like that, we were off. The course itself was so much better than I was expecting. I knew going in that it would be two loops of Flushing Meadows Park, and figured that would be boring, but it really wasn’t. We passed so many iconic Queens landmarks like the USTA tennis center, Citi Field, the unisphere (big metal globe in the park) and the Queens museum, zoo and theater.

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We crossed a bride to get to the other half of the park which runs around some marsh land and was really beautiful. The course had flooded a bit due to Saturday’s rain, but we were redirected, and the new route was clear and easy to follow.

The course was pancake flat with the only “hill” being the climb up the bridge. The roadways were a little uneven which meant looking down and concentrating on picking up my feet in places, but it was manageable. The first place runner crossed in 1:15 if that gives an indication of the course.

Two loops meant we passed each water stop twice, and they were all stocked with water and Gatorade. It never felt like we went more than 2 miles in between water stops which was great because while the weather was pretty perfect (65 at the start), I did get hot in the sunny stretches. The sun was almost humorously abundant. We kept commenting on what a perfect day it was.

The standouts of the whole race though were the volunteers. They were all over the course and just as cheerful as you could imagine. Volunteers were dancing and clapping and encouraging each individual runner. This is really saying something too because we are not fast. If you’re still that peppy for the last quarter of the pack, you’re an awesome volunteer!

The finish line was run smoothly. We passed the timing mat (our bibs were chipped) and were handed nice medals and cups of water. To keep things moving, they had bagels and fruit farther down the chute. They had tons of food, and the bagels were real NYC bagels with butter and cream cheese! I’m so used to hard dry bagels that I just about cried when I saw the tub of butter. Why don’t more races provide bagel toppings?

Everyone we encountered was just so friendly. We ended up hanging out in the park a bit waiting for Donny to arrive, and I started to get chilly from the bay breeze. Chris asked a volunteer next to a box of extra tee shirts if she could spare one, and she gave him one right away. That was just so nice.

Overall, this was a great race. It was well organized with an interesting course and excellent volunteers. Compared to other races in the area, this was my favorite. It was much more organized than any Rock N Roll race I’ve done. Unlike RNR, this felt like a hometown race rather than a huge spectacle. NYRR races are also very well organized, but they’re so much bigger, which sort of necessitates a “no exceptions” type environment. I can’t see them delaying the start or handing out extra shirts, and those little details help make a race memorable.

On the drive out, I said I couldn’t see us driving to Queens for a race again, but I might seriously reconsider now.

Thanks for a great race day NYCRuns!

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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.

Ted Corbitt 15k & a cookie swap!

This past Saturday I ran my first ever 15k! The thing I love most about any first ever distance… automatic PR. So, now I have a PR in the 15k of 1:31:48 or a pace of 9:53. Considering my pace for the half marathon in September was 11:17, I’m really happy with this.

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This is the closest I’ve ever gotten my Garmin to my actual race time. That’s a PR of sorts too.

The race was the Ted Corbitt 15k in Central Park, and it was a lot of fun. I’ve run a little in Central Park, but mostly I’ve just biked around, so it was exciting to see more of the park on foot. Waking up at 4:45 on a Saturday morning was significantly less exciting. The race started at 8:30, and it takes about 90 minutes to get from Jersey City to the UWS on the weekend. That combined with the fact that my stomach has been less than cooperative lately meant I wanted a lot of time to get up and moving before the race.

I met up with Debbie, Meg and Jenn, and we all got to head into the city together which made public transportation before sunrise a little more bearable. We got to the park with about an hour to spare which was the perfect amount of time to drop our bags, use the restrooms and line up.

The weather was chilly but beautiful.

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We didn’t run together for this race, so we parted ways at the starting line, and then we were off! Honestly, I probably should have been, but I wasn’t at all worried about the distance. I think I was so nervous that my stomach wouldn’t cooperate, that I didn’t even stop to think about the fact that I haven’t run further than 6 miles in months. Talk about your blessing in disguise. The course was two loops around most of Central Park excluding (thank goodness!) the Harlem Hills. Still, it was nowhere near as flat as my usual Jersey City runs. I actually think this helped distract me from the distance too. I was in my own head just strategizing and trying to figure out how best to tackle the rolling hills and completely ignored the distance.

My basic strategy was this: on the flat parts of the course I tried to keep my pace right around 9:30 for the first half. As I approached a hill, I’d aim to keep my pace under 10, and on the downhills I’d fly and try and make up some time. I figured I could always speed up if I had anything left in the tank during the second half. I was actually feeling really great until about mile 7. Then, my stomach reminded me why it’s my most unreliable organ (thank goodness?). I actually had to come to a full stop three times. I just felt all my stomach muscles lock up, so I stopped, pulled off to the side of the road (after nearly being killed by a bike) and breathed calmly until I could get my stomach to a more peaceful place.

After mile 7, I ran when I could and walked through the water stops. I finished strong, and felt really good that I was able to finish as fast as I did given all the stomach drama.

The rest of the ladies did awesome, and we congratulated ourselves with a little brunch by the park before heading home.

The rest of the weekend was pretty calm and lovely. Backing up a bit, Chris and I were supposed to see the tree in the city after work on Friday, but I cancelled our date because I was just too shaken up by the Connecticut tragedy to even want to be around other people. He eventually convinced me to leave the house and take a little walk around Jersey City that night, and I’m glad he did because I do think it lifted my spirits a bit. We walked through the downtown farmer’s market and stopped to browse some vintage… CDs? Yep, apparently CDs have replaced vinyl records as the hipster’s collectible of choice. Weird.

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I don’t think anyone is collecting Marilyn Manson CDs.

Saturday night, we went to dinner with Chris’ family to celebrate his mom’s birthday. It was actually Friday, and she’s a preschool teacher, so I know she felt the impact of the tragedy especially deeply. It was nice to be together and allow our hearts to be a little lighter for a few hours.

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I earned a stocking on the family mantle this year, which was really touching. Chris’ mom also sent us home with a little Christmas carousel that lit up and spun and absolutely made a certain blonde cat’s night.

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Sunday was rainy and cold. It was the perfect day for staying in PJs until noon, so we did.

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I spent a bit of the morning doing some baking for the evening’s cookie exchange hosted by my friend Cameron. A baker, I am not, but I gave it my best shot with a tried and true recipe for gluten free chocolate coconut macaroons.

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I follow this recipe exactly but I add half a bag of melted dark chocolate chips to the mix before folding in the egg whites. If I’m feeling really fancy, I’ll also add 1/4 cup of cocoa powder.

The don’t look pretty, but they taste lovely, and my favorite part is whipping the egg whites into a frenzy.

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Just kidding. That’s the worst part, but the rest of the recipe is a cakewalk (see what I did there?), so I shouldn’t complain.

The cookie exchange was lovely. There were about 20 girls there with the most amazing recipes, and I left with a giant container of treats for Chris and I to share. We’ve each been sampling between 2 and 3 a night.  It’s a pretty good way to get into the holiday spirit. It’s also a pretty good way to get into a larger pant size. So, there’s that too.

 

I can’t believe this weekend is already Christmas. I’m looking forward to a mini break and time with family. In light of everything that’s happened, I’m going to focus especially hard on soaking up every minute with the people I love. To you and yours, Happy Holidays!

 

 

 

 

Food & Wine & Birthdays & Babies

First things first, today is Debbie’s birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEBBIE!! I hope it’s the best one ever. We did some celebrating this weekend, but we’ll get there.

I passed the third of my four exam professional certification yesterday!! They don’t tell you how much you pass by, but I’m guessing it was a close call because that exam was a beast. It didn’t help that I woke up with an ugly head cold. Still, I’m glad it’s over, and I’m one exam closer to being certified. The last exam will surely be the most grueling, but there’s no going back now. What’s not over? This cold. Ugh. I’m currently fighting it, but it’s feeling like a losing battle. Let’s focus on something else…

This weekend! I’m absolutely not complaining because I loved every minute of it, but it was busy!

Last week was a short work week (which somehow still dragged) that came with some unwanted, lingering  back pain, but I did manage to get 8 miles plus some yoga and an elliptical session in, so it was a pretty good week.

Still, the weekend took the cake (and the cupcakes, and the apple crumbles, and the wine… oh the wine). Friday night, I hung out at work while I waited for Chris and Debbie to meet me so we could head up to the Meatpacking District for NYC Food & Wine Week. Mike met us when he got out of work, and we all explored the area as part of the Food Network’s Meatpacking Uncorked (stupid name) event.

I bought the tickets not really knowing what to expect from the event, but we figured it out pretty quickly. Basically, they gave us a map when we walked in. The map highlighted all the stores and boutiques that would be giving out wine samples as well as all the restaurants and trucks serving food. We followed the map and found… a lot of lines. Yeah, it was really crowded. I mean I guess it’s to be expected for a popular city event, but it kept us from getting to make more than a few stops. We got to sample probably between 5-6 wines and only 2 food stops. Still, it was something unique and we had a lot of fun peeking into some fancy (and strange) shops.
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Overall, the wine was good but not great. Nothing that I haven’t tried before (think Yellow Tail), and I am not a wine connoisseur by anyone’s definition.  The food was good, but, as I said, we only got to try two things. The first was a veggie empanada from a truck called Nucha’s.
excuse the eerie green glow; it was dark, and this was filled with a yummy spinach mixture
The second food I sampled was a mushroom and brie toast. I don’t have any pictures because it was too dark at this point, but believe me, it was good. I’d like to visit 5Ninth again for sure.
The event was scheduled for 6-9, but most places began closing up shop around 8:30. We wandered a bit more before Yelping a place to eat dinner and finding Green Table, which was actually in Chelsea Market. It was there that I had, hands down, the best chili of my life.
Yes, it gets two pictures, because it was that good. Now, maybe I was a little tipsy, but honestly, this chili was so thick and well seasoned. I wanted so badly to keep eating, but I was pretty full after half a bowl.
We kept the party going for way too long after our dinner, but somehow I still managed to make it up the next morning for a run with the girls! Cameron planned the run to start Debbie’s birthday celebrations on a healthy note. The morning was cool but not freezing, and the run was really fun! We headed down to the water and back again for four miles while keeping a sub 10 minute mile pace. Not bad for a hungover run. We topped our mileage off with some cupcakes, which was absolutely perfect, of course.
Unfortunately, I spent the rest of the day studying, but we had plans to party later that night, so at least I had that to look forward to. Chris and I met Debbie and Mike and Meg for dinner at Amelia’s Bistro, one of our neighborhood favorites, and it did not disappoint.
Cameron and Rich met us and we all headed over to another neighborhood hotspot, Satis Wine Bar.
The ladies enjoyed some cocktails (I had a gin mule) while the boys sampled some whiskey. Not for me, but they had fun with it.
We had some very interesting discussions and toasted Debbie’s birthday before calling it a night.
The next morning, after more studying, I had my first ever baby shower to attend! My friend, Krystal, who I met in middle school, is having her first boy in January, so I drove out to Frenchtown, NJ to celebrate with her.
The grandmas planned the entire thing, and all the personal touches were really sweet. It was nice to catch up with friends, some of whom I haven’t spoken to since 8th grade! I even won a prize!
There was a thread on the table, and we each had to cut a length we thought would fit around mama’s belly. Mine was the closest, so I got some sweet lotion! I never win things, so I was pretty thrilled.
Oh, and there was cake too. With a strawberry custard filling. Can’t go wrong with that.
So, basically, I celebrated, ate and studied all weekend long. Not so bad if you ask me. Now, I’m sick. Go figure. I guess I can’t party like I used too, but I seriously had a blast, and I passed my exam! So, all in, I’ll take a little cold. As long as I’m better in time for the next weekend. See ya then!

Worst first

We’ll start with the worst first today.

I got a flu shot yesterday, so I’m feeling a little less than stellar today. Still, I managed to pull myself out of bed, shower and blow dry my hair. Generally, I just blow dry it the night before and quick straighten it in the morning, but I was hoping a little extra effort might make me feel a little less sick. Don’t worry, I wasn’t alone, Miles kept me company the whole time.

I’m not sure why he looks like raw chicken (or why he curls his tail like that? modesty?) in that picture, but that was my view the whole  time. And, yes, it’s that dark as I’m getting ready. It’s terrible.

Anyway, I looked sort of decent and was dressed for cool weather. I was not, however, dressed for rain. I ignored the threat, and I paid the price. My rain boots and jacket were warm and snug in the coat closet while I got thoroughly and completely soaked.

Thank goodness Chris brought an umbrella as the torrential downpour began when we were just far enough from our apartment that it didn’t make sense to run back. The boy is a genius; that’s why I love him so much. We shared one, and I walked him to work so I could take his umbrella for the rest of my commute. I still had half a mile to go, and it was bad. I got to work soaked. My shoes fared worst of all.

Yep, right in the trash. My favorite (only) black flats. Thank goodness also for extra shoes at work. This is not just me being dramatic (for once). They were unsalvagable. I’m super cheap, and trust me, if I could have saved them I would.

Proof that I am cheap: those flats were on their last leg and getting grimy, so I washed them inside and out with soap and water and let them dry for three days to extend their little life. This was the first day I wore them, and it turns out, I didn’t rinse all the soap out, so when they got wet in the rain, soap bubbles foamed out of my shoes and left a trail my whole way to work. Yes, people stared. Yes, it was embarrassing, but I was too mad to care.

Then I broke my work phone. We got them yesterday. They went active today. I locked myself out of the voicemail system in the first twenty minutes. I called the help desk (from another phone) and he told me I set a new record.

Luckily, it’s Friday, and I’ve got a lot of fun coming my way. My middlest sister is coming to visit me on Saturday, and I cannot freaking wait! We’ve got some fun stuff planned, so even today’s awful weather isn’t getting me down.

It’s been a fun week too. Tuesday I got to hang out with my adorable friend Jennifer who’s boyfriend is in China for a month! We don’t get to see each other enough, so it was really great to have a just the ladies catch up.

We met by Times Square (ever heard of it??) at a very good Italian place called Trattoria Trecolori. I didn’t realize it was quite so in Times Square, so I got a little nervous, but the food was yummy and the server was so helpful. We basically worked together to create a dish.

Fish (some white fish who’s name escapes me) in a puttanesca sauce over sauteed broccoli rabe. Delicious.

Wednesday night Chris met me in the city for an after work drink at a very cool little hotel bar that was actually a coffee shop (which we didn’t realize so we kind of felt out of place with our tumblers of wine)

before meeting up with more friends at Hill Country BBQ where everyone worried that a non-meat lover like myself would starve, and then I ended up eating more than anyone at the table. I feasted despite my surroundings (story of my life)

So much goodness.

Last night, Debbie and I walked to the Grove Street Farmer’s Market where she hit up the delicious looking Cinnamon Snail food truck while I picked up summer rolls and some delicious tofu dish from More.

I ended the night, wine in hand, watching that new ABC show Last Resort. Chris and I really liked it. It was a thriller for sure and opened with a bang. I’m so reluctant to trust network TV dramas after Lost, but this one definitely has potential. We also watched the new Parks and Rec, and I will be so seriously sad when this season ends and there’s no more Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt in my life. Seriously sad.

Things I did not do this week: run. 0 miles. Honestly, it was perfect. I feel totally relaxed, and I actually want to run again. I’m hoping to log a few miles this weekend, but there’s no pressure, and that’s a beautiful  thing.

Hopefully you’ve got a wonderful weekend awaiting you!

August (Summer) Wrap Up and September (Fall) Goals

Oh. Writing that made my heart sink. Summer, I’m going to miss you so, so much.

I’m still in Germany, but the months roll by whether I’m home to see them or not. So, now it’s September, which means I owe you an update on my progress for my yearly goals:

  • Complete 12 random acts of kindness– Done!
  • Pay off my car– Done!
  • Donate 24 hours of my time-10 hours in, 14 hours to go. We are rolling now! I’ve been planning and meeting with some of the lovely ladies of my sorority as they get ready to start the new school year, and I have to say, I am so freaking excited!!
  • Run 2 half marathonsRegistered for the Newport Liberty Half Marathon in Jersey City on 9/23!
  • Learn 3 new skills– 1 this month for a total of 6. It’s kind of a lame one though. I just learned how to save space on WordPress by uploading pictures on Flickr and linking to them here. Still, a skill is a skill.
  • Read 12 books– Done! I took a break from my non stop obsessive reading of  11/22/63 by Stephen King  to read this month’s book club selection, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Both books are good, and I’ll do a full review when I finish, but 11/22/63 is the definition of a thriller. Putting this book down was so, so hard.

Miles run- 77 for a total of 444.87 for the year. 

I guess now that summer is coming to a close, it’s time to see how I measured up against my summer bucket list:

  • Explore Jersey City

  • Take a hike-moving this activity to the fall. feels more fall-like anyway.

  • Check out Groove on Grove

  • Visit the Central Park Zoo- fail.
  • Go to a Mets game- fail.
  • Run a small town 5k- fail.
  • Walk the Brooklyn Bridge- fail.
  • Bike from WTC, back to NJ over the George Washington Bridge oh we definitely did this one!

  • Dust off my passport– I’m in Germany as we speak!!

  • Watch the sunset with that favorite boy of mine

I’m really proud of us for doing as much as we did this summer. Chris and I had plans both days of basically every single weekend this year. Summer is so short in New Jersey, so you really have to make good use of it while it’s here, and I feel like we totally did this this year. Sure, there were some things we wanted to do that we missed out on, but luckily, summer will be back next year.

While I most certainly adore summer, fall is pretty much the bees knees too. In addition to carrying over that hike and catching a flick in Van Vorst park, here are some fall things I’ve got on my mind before our 8 month long winter rolls in:

  • Apple Picking
  • Applesauce makin’ and Apple Pie bakin’
  • My 1st Pumpkin Latte of the season
  • Baking pumpkin muffins
  • Drive upstate to check out the foliage and a new to us town
  • Updating my fall/winter wardrobe
  • Running the HoBOOken Halloween 5k

  • Making an amazing gluten free side dish to bring to Thanksgiving
  • Making a donation to our local food bank before Thanksgiving
  • Watching the Nightmare before Christmas
  • Running in Central Park
  • Visiting the Met

Any other suggestions for fun fall festivities??

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What about you? How will you make this fall fantastic?