Coffee Dates

30 January 2014


Sometimes it's the little things that really make a difference. I was in a funk one day this week and Noah's school was cancelled for the cold weather we were having. He met me after my class and we grabbed some coffees at the Espresso Bar to warm up and we got to chat for a little bit about the weather, our fitbits, and what we want to do on our Friday date nights. Hope you're having a good middle of the week!

Oh Happy Days

29 January 2014


This week has been an interesting mix of relaxing and super productive for me. I'm feeling it. The public schools in my area seem to be in a tizzy deciding whether or not they should have school or have delays in the morning since it's so cold out and the students are sometimes walking to the buses. The upside of this is that Noah has a few hours or days off here and there.

To recap what's been going on around here I'll make a little list.

  • Odin got promoted to the next level training class (at no extra charge!). He has "more skills" than a beginner would learn in the class so he gets to advance. 
  • I have an A in every class currently and I'm pumped about it.
  • We bought a desk for me! I've been doing work on the kitchen table and I finally have a desk of my own in the house. 
  • I am making 10,000 steps each day with my fitbit and more of my friends are getting them so we can compete. 
  • Noah started going to the gym and I'm keeping up with jazzercise; I'm going five times a week!
Okay, back to more regular posting as soon as I get on a more regular schedule. The third week is where I usually catch the hang of things and we're almost there! Cross your fingers we don't have any more snow to throw us off.

Diving Back In

27 January 2014


It has been an impossibly snowy and cold week. Noah had school cancelled all last week due to the weather and MLK Day. 

Now that I sit here on Monday morning running through my "to do" list I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. I don't really like taking breaks from classes because it makes me feel like I am behind or that I've lost control over my work, even if it's not the case. 

So, I'm dedicating myself to a cup of coffee this morning, a candle, and a good piece of homework. It's time to jump back into a routine and find that motivation deep within me. 

Tea Talk Vol. 2

24 January 2014

  • With Odin, I'm a little obsessed with dog facts and statistics. Did you know that there's a group working to compile the most popular dog names of 2013
  • Taking microbiology... my study group had a chat about how scientists are using shark skin as a bacteria control.  

Book 1: Name of the Wind

21 January 2014

When I worked at BAM I had quite a few people recommend the Name of the Wind to me as a reading book. "Oh you like Game of Thrones? You should try Rothfuss' new book." "If you like Jordon's series you'll like the KingKiller Chronicles." What do you know? They were all correct. The final decided was one of my friends suggested it to me and I decided it would be my first book for the new year. 


Ever since finishing the Game of Thrones series I've had a hard time getting back into a book series. Perhaps this was because I kept trying to read books I consider out of my genre (hello, any fantasy lovers out there?). Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind turned out to be a great match for me. 

There is an intriguing main character, Kvothe, who is likable but defiant enough to keep the plot quite interesting. He learns sympathy, a semi-magic knowledge and comes from a family in the Edema Ruh, a music-loving, theatrical group. That background lends a large hand in his success in adventures by his incredible memory and plethora of talents. The book carries a good mix of magic, love, friendship, trials, and hope and I'd say any fantasy-lover must give it a try.

The sequel is my current read, A Wise Man's Fear, and the final book in the trilogy will be out in 2015 sometime. Give it a whirl!

Inspirations: Exercise Edition

15 January 2014






For Christmas two of my friends invited me to come to their Jazzercise center with them. Each member gets a free month to give away to somebody new which is awesome for all parties involved. Now there are three people I know that attend there and I've signed up to try it out too. January is all free but I like it so much and enjoy the people so much that I'm trying out a few more months beyond the free one. 

If you've never done Jazzercise it's basically an hour long session of cardio and weights that utilizes music to make you move. For every song that plays you learn three or so move sets and you repeat them at different intervals throughout the song. 

Beyond being fun, there are some people that are really motivating me to move my butt recently! One of them is pictured above. My "other mother" Kathy is going to jazzercise and she's attending religiously. When her daughter and I can't go she's still there on her own pumping and it makes me want to keep up with her. 

Ashely, from My Nesting Instincts, is another inspiration. If you've seen her blog you'll know she has been very goal-oriented this past year with upping her fitness levels. She has lost a lot of weight and has entered into a healthy style. And she makes it look easy! But she's honest on the blog about the good and tough moments. 

The other person that inspires me is my roommate Jake. He was overweight in college, and a lot of his life as a kid, but then he moved to Louisiana away from his friends and he had some free time on his hands. He had already been running but he decided to get a gym regimen going and low and behold he totally changed his lifestyle.

I'm hoping to follow their lead and change my life for the better. I want to be healthy and positive. I already have a conversation with Kathy this week that was a shocker for me... I was in class on Monday afternoon, my third of the day, and I thought to myself Man, I wish I was in Jazzercise right now. GASP! What? Never in my life (with the exception of biking and kayaking - which are so fun they're practically not exercise) have I enjoyed working out or looked forward to working out. THAT'S HOW FUN JAZZERCISE IS. Do you get me? 

So, after this wordy post - here's to a new year, a new lifestyle, and new inspiration. 

Tea Talk Vol. 1

10 January 2014


Okay, it's Friday and the glory that is the weekend is about to arrive. For the new year, I want to introduce a series called "Tea Talk" where we chat over topics like we would if we grabbed a cup of coffee or a mug of tea together.

Here are some things that caught my eye this week:

  • A rare copy of Neil Gaiman's Stardust has been put into auction to raise money for Heifer International, but what makes this unique is that the book has been returned to the auction to raise more money for the charity for four years running. Each time someone buys or wins the book at the charity auction they donate it back so help the charity further. How inspiring? What's even neater is that I read about this on Patrick Rothfuss' blog who is the author of the book I am currently reading
  • Amazon Smile is a great way to do your shopping. Did you know if you type in smile.amazon.com that you can still choose from the great selection that Amazon offers while donating a percentage of your purchase money towards a charity of your choosing? If you use Google Chrome like me there's even an app that lets you automatically go to Amazon Smile instead of Amazon every time you type "Amazon" into your browser. Pretty neat right?
  • As a new dog owner, this was cracking me up. A guy uses his boss' dog to recreate scenes from movies. What movies would you want to recreate? I feel like he missed an opportunity with Lion King.


Let the Training Begin

09 January 2014


Odin had his first obedience class on Saturday morning. He'll be going for a few weeks to get the hang of it and I couldn't be more excited. My long term goal with him is to be an agility dog and that means we have to have a strong obedience foundation built up. We are going to practice a lot this week with the basic obedience because (hush, hush) - he might be able to skip a level! I'm crossing my fingers. Any levels that we can skip means that we are that much closer to agility training. All good in my book!

Ladies Lunch

08 January 2014


My friend Nicole moved to Michigan on Monday which has been a crazy whirlwind! She is very excited about this new journey and I'm sad that she'll be gone, but we had a great lunch on Sunday. Ashley, Nicole, and I met at the Union Jack Pub downtown to have a last hurrah together. Sometimes a day with girlfriends is a great pick me up... and those days seem to come precisely when you need them.

Smithsonian Museum of Art

07 January 2014






After our trip to the Spy Museum Noah and I walked across the street and spent a little under an hour at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. We could have spent a lot more time in the building but we were tired from walking through the spy museum. We checked out photographs, portraits, and sculptures throughout the first floor and there is a large, beautiful atrium in the center of the building I would love to come back to sometime. Not as captivating as the spy museum, but quite lovely for a free, quick journey through.

International Spy Museum

06 January 2014


Noah and I went to DC last Friday after a snowstorm to visit two new museums (well, new to me). The first one was the Spy Museum just a little ways off of Constitution Avenue. 


After you pay for your ticket you get into an elevator that gives you a quick introduction to spying and then you have to memorize your secret identity for the tour.


I decided to be stealthy and climb through the duct work in the museum and spy on some of the tourists. 


There were many displays with gadgets that have been used by real spies and by spies in the movies. Many items displayed included cameras, hidden weapons, and vehicles with hidden compartments.


There were a fair number of interactive displays throughout the museum, though it was crowded enough that we didn't wait for all of them. 


There was a section of the museum devoted to the history of spies in America and internationally. My personal favorite item in the museum was a wooden seal that had been given to an American ambassador by school children in the Soviet Union. A bug had been hidden inside and after the ambassador hung the seal in his office it was transmitting conversations out of his office! It was pretty crazy to me that it worked and that it took a few years to discover it. 



Downstairs in the museum a James Bond exhibit is being featured. Lots of costumes and props from the movies. There were a series of "Real or Fiction?" cards around the museum where you got to guess whether the fact on the front happened in real life or in the James Bond movies. My favorite was "facial recognition technology... real or fiction?". Turns out that it was in a James Bond movie and the CIA director at the time told his men that he wanted that technology and they figured it out!


If you're in DC and are looking for a museum to checkout besides the Smithsonian, I would recommend the spy museum. I found it more entertaining than the Newseum and it was a few dollars cheaper as well. 

Hope you had a marvelous weekend! 

Mr. Noodle & Rice

03 January 2014




Mr. Noodle and Rice is an asian restaurant in the area that is locally owned. My family and I hit this place up this past week to try out different bento boxes, sushi, and a few more Korean dishes. I had the vegetarian bi bim bob which included seaweed, spinach, bean sprouts, a fried egg, and rice. A side of miso soup (with veggie stock) came with the dish as a bonus. The food was good, though I don't know if I would say it stood out. The downside of the restaurant was the poor service. Food came out for a group of six over the course of twenty minutes and it was typically one person at our table served, then one at the next, then the next and so on.

All in all I wouldn't give a big push for it to friends or tourists, but it is nice to try a new place now and again.

A Fresh Look


Notice anything different? After some thought about where I am and where I'm heading, I feel that a fresh start is exactly what I need. After some evaluation, a new title and look were decided upon. Reasons to Smile has been a great venture for me, but now after four years I'm finally ready for a fresh start. 

The new name is Tea Escapades which combines some of my favorite things: tea and adventures. I've taken to drinking a cup of tea every night and if given the chance I can't pass up a chai tea latte. With the new beginning I'm trying to take my opportunities as they appear: volunteer, workout, say yes to things that scare me. 

Here's to a new year, a new start, and new motivation! Happy 2014...even if it is a few days late.

Blandy Farm

02 January 2014









On New Years Day Noah and I visited Blandy Farm, the State Arboretum of Virginia with my husband and dog. We might be meeting a photographer friend here in the near future so I wanted to check it out with our dog beforehand because he's a little... overzealous when in new areas.

There are acres upon acres of beautiful land and it's clear that it would be a great place to visit throughout the seasons. There are pathways and open fields with beautiful stone walls and historic buildings. Blandy was a great experience and I'd suggest it as a mini-day trip. Take a picnic, a camera, and a willingness to walk and you can have a great morning enjoying nature.

2014 Resolutions

01 January 2014

  1. Read 26 books 
  2. Start dog agility training
  3. Get into pharmacy school
  4. Have a date night once a week
  5. Find a place to volunteer on the regular
  6. Lose ten pounds
  7. Take 10,000 steps a day
  8. Have second breakfasts and elevenses with friends
  9. Buy a home
  10. Create the life I imagine
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