Paperman - Full Animated Short Film

Rainbow Cupcakes

29 January 2013

#65 on my 101 in 1001 list is to make Rainbow Cupcakes. I can mark this one off my list after a baking session Sunday afternoon. I also owe my husband a big shout out for running to get eggs for me after I already started mixing my ingredients. Thanks Noah!

I know lots of bloggers made these about 2 years ago but I never did try them. They're very easy and a lot of fun! Just be prepared to use quite a number of bowls to mix your colors.

Take a white or yellow cake mix. Mix all of your ingredients together. All you have to do to make the rainbow patterns is split your batter into a few bowls then add the food coloring. One bowl for red, one for blue, etc. Then spoon different colors into your cupcake holders. It's that easy! Plus having a few fun sprinkles for on top is an added bonus.

Blast From the Past: Garden of the Gods

28 January 2013

In 2006 my family traveled out West through several states. One of the sites we stopped at was the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. This area is beautiful in a way that is very different from my East Coast havens. Rock formations jut out from the ground sharply and the vegetation has a dull green, spiky look to it. It has a very unique feeling. While touring the park we saw several rock climbers navigating rough terrain with their harnesses and several families like us, driving around and taking it all in. I'd love to go back one day and explore again with my knowledge of geology now because it would give me a whole new appreciation of the sights out West. 

Have you ever been to the Garden of the Gods? What did you think?

Reasons to Smile

25 January 2013

I'm really hoping this week represents a change in me. The end of my semester at school was last Friday and on Thursday I started with a whole new group of eighth graders. Now, looking back at the week I'm counting my blessings and I hope to move forward with positivity and preparation at the forefront of my mind. Without further ado, here are my reasons to smile today.
  • three day weekends
  • teacher work days
  • coffee in the morning
  • band directors (did I tell you?!)
  • support from colleagues
  • sunshine
  • friends
  • my Kindle
  • fresh beginnings

Lands Run Falls Hike

24 January 2013

This past Sunday was spent up in the mountains in Virginia enjoying scenic views, hiking, and scouting waterfalls. I met up with my friend, Allison, from Harrisonburg and we ate lunch at Ledo's Pizza in Front Royal followed by a quick hike on Skyline Drive.

Shenandoah National Park may be my favorite place on Earth... Bethany Beach may tie it though. They each have such strong memories for me that I go to those places to find comfort and adventure.

Skyline Drive is where my dad used to take my sister, uncle, and me on Black Friday. We often hiked up to Mary's Rock.

On Sunday our little group did a 1.3 mile hike straight downhill to the falls then followed the trail 1.3 miles back up a steep grade. Oh man were my legs feeling it on Monday!

I am sitting here and still can hardly believe we got two hikes in during one weekend. Plus I got a few things marked of my 101 in 1001 list. Hope you're having a great week thus far!

Cunningham Falls Hike

23 January 2013

On Saturday Noah and I drove for twenty five minutes East and ended up hiking in Cunningham Falls State Park. This was our first time at this location and it brought a particular smile to my face because it's where my dad proposed to my mom! 

We took an easy 3/4 mile trail to the base of the falls then a mile trail through steep, rocky terrain back to our vehicle. All in all any easy day but I could feel the strain in some of my muscles as we climbed over a few boulders. 

I am just in love with nature right now. Once we got into the week our temperatures plummeted again but the weekend was beautiful and we could finally enjoy that beautiful sun. 

Do you go hiking? What has been your favorite hike to date?

Best Weekend Ever

21 January 2013

This weekend I went on two separate hikes, played Chinese Checkers, caught up with one of my best friends, cuddled with my cat, took hundreds of photos, climbed rocks, wore boots for three days straight, and enjoyed an extra day off.

More on the hikes tomorrow and Thursday!

Aspirations: 101 in 1001

20 January 2013

I am slowly but surely trying to cross of items from my 101 in 1001 list. If you don't know, 101 in 1001 is a project used to help people reach their goals. You have 1001 days to achieve 101 goals of varying challenges. Some are easy, every day items and others may be big, once-in-a-lifetime sort of goals. Here are a few I crossed off this week.

49. Discover more outdoor locations that are beautiful. Noah and I visited Cunningham Falls State Park in Maryland on Saturday and had a great morning out hiking and following a babbling brook.

51. Take pictures by a waterfall. I'm so happy to have this one crossed off my list of goals! The last time I had hiked near a waterfall was April of 2010. Can it really have been so long? This weekend at Cunningham falls a stranger managed to snap a few photos of Noah and I (and even knew how to focus a DSLR!).

Admitting Weakness

14 January 2013

Time to open myself up and share my vulnerabilities. Sometimes through social media and our surface contact in todays age it is so easy to just share the positive and make an effort to look like we're happy all the time. Well, I don't think that's quite true for any of us.

The past six months have been the hardest of my life. I feel like I'm just barely keeping my head above the rising tide of stress and anxiety. My job is quickly pulling me under. I know your first year is incredibly hard, but I didn't know it would be this hard. 

My husband and my sister are so incredibly supportive yet there are some days where I'm not convinced I'll make it through. 

I'm learning, slowly, that you need to take care of not just your physical health but your mental and emotional health on top of it all. It is more important than ever to me to find creative outlets and make adventures for myself. The difficulty is that it's harder than ever to achieve. When I need it most I have very little free time and my friends are further away than ever before. On that account I've been miserable. 

It's my own fault, I wasn't ready to adjust to friends being several hours away. My closest friend is an hour away then after that it's three, five, and one of my best friends is now 18 hours away. Do I skype? No. Do I call? No. Do I miss them? 100%. Why don't I end up making more of an effort? 

One reason is I feel like I'm failing. I don't want to call and talk to people and tell them that I'm miserable in my life right now. Another is I'm exhausted. I don't feel like myself and I don't know if I can listen to someone tell me how happy they are in life right now. Aren't I awful? It sure feels that way. I know logically that talking to my friends will more than likely bring me to a higher place than I've been for several months and I really don't know any logical reason that I'm not making more of an effort in this department. 

Have you ever had a life consuming slump? How did you get through?

I know myself, and I know there will one day be a light at the end of this tunnel, I'm just counting the days until it arrives. Thanks for reading, it feels good to finally get this off my chest. 

Life Advice

11 January 2013

"Life is like riding a bicycle, in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving."

I just wanted to leave you with a quote today that currently fits my life more than I may like to admit. Sometimes, we just have to keep moving forward and see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Hope you have a happy weekend!

Geocaching Adventures: 001

09 January 2013

"Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location." -

Caches: 120-124

As Noah and I are getting out geocaching more and more these days I hope to add a piece of our adventures into this space. I think I'm happier out looking for a cache than any other time of the week.

Never discount how much sunlight and discoveries can increase your happiness!

This week we hit a few more local caches. By local, I mean they were each within three miles of our home. We hit a few easy grabs before coming to my favorite of the day.

In the middle of a city the Boy Scouts have a piece of land. With permission, a cacher placed a hide and it was a beautiful discovery. The cache itself was the perfect level of difficulty. Not an easy grab, but not impossible. 

However, the best part was the peace and quiet, and the special visitors that stopped by. A whole herd of deer were watching us hunt at this location. It was just the perfect couple of hours outdoors, relaxing, and taking a moment to refresh ourselves from the work week.

What I'm Loving: Chemex Coffee

08 January 2013

For Christmas I bought Noah the Chemex coffee maker and the Kone filter that he has been pining after for a while now. 

As someone who's not a coffee expert I was skeptical. I mean, with the two together that's $100 for a coffee maker! The reason we didn't put the Keurig on our wedding registry is because of the cost.

Yet I was proven wrong. I am amazed that I can tell the difference between coffee through our brewer and through the Chemex. The coffee pictured here is much smoother than the regular grind. With no paper filter taking out the extra oils it seems to lack that harsh feel on the back of your throat. It's also less bitter. All in all I'm converted, I'm a huge fan.

Now if I can just commit to starting the water boiling before I get in the shower so I have time to make this coffee before work...

Life Evaluations

07 January 2013

For about five months now I've felt like a different person than myself. I'm still in that place and I'm hoping to come out of it soon. For now, I'm evaluating my thoughts on a few different areas of life and what they mean to me.

What is failure?

Which is more important, happiness or responsibility?

How hard is it to be honest with yourself? With others?

How do you get inspired to jump into the unknown?

Just thoughts for a Monday.

Local Loves: Union Jack Pub

04 January 2013

Union Jack Pub has been a restaurant in downtown Winchester for a few year now, right on the Loudoun Walking Mall. It's theme, as you could probably guess, is serving British food. The atmosphere is quite nice as you walk in even with limited seating.

Our group started with the spinach artichoke and quesadilla chips as an appetizer which could possibly rank on my top 10 list of appetizers that I've ever eaten. The quesadilla chips were spectacular.

However, as a vegetarian, I had a much more difficult time with my entree. I understand that they are pretty meat-centric in most restaurants and I was happy to see that there were three or four options to choose from. However, they were out of the black bean burger at the restaurant, which had been my original choice so I instead ordered the curry dish. I was underwhelmed. It was a little too saucy and the flavor was a tad off to me.

My sister's salad was good as was her fiance's order of fish and chips. My dad had a pork dipping sandwich and between the two he said the sandwich was quite good and the sauce was right on par with most others.

All in all, we will be trying out the Pub again but I'll check that they have the black bean burger in advance this time. 4/5 Stars

Venezuelan Arepas

03 January 2013

My sister's fiance, Ryan, was born in Venezuela and has a family full of South American traditions. One that my sister has grown fond of is making arepas for breakfast. When I stayed with Ryan's family last summer his dad broke out their arepas maker (a common sight in their household) and made me a few on a Saturday morning.

This Christmas my sister got me an arepas maker so that Noah and I could enjoy a few now and then. She was so thoughtful that she also gave me the corn flower and cheese to add some flavor.

All you need is some corn flour, water, and salt! Ta-da, you're done!

2 1/2 cups of water
2 cups of corn flour (P.A.N.)
1 teaspoon salt

Combine, knead, then bake in your arepas maker for 15 minutes.

A Past and a Future

01 January 2013

Looking back on 2012, a lot of amazing things were accomplished and it was a very big transitional year. Graduating with a Masters, getting married, interviewing, starting a career, moving, and experiencing the first six months of married life are all fairly big accomplishments. 

Yet, I find myself looking forward to starting this new year. 2013 will bring nearly as many changes as 2012 and it's already beginning. It will be good. I can feel it. 

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