Well hello again!  It’s good to be back to blogging after a few weeks off!  July came and went so fast I can’t believe the 4th was exactly 1 month ago.  I really don’t know where it went but if I had only one word to describe the past few weeks, I would have to say: HECTIC.  Have you ever gone through a period of time where you felt like life was on fastforward and you were running from one thing to the next?  Well, that’s exactly what the past month has been for me.  This is the first time since Chicago where I have had a whole day of doing nothing.  (not that I don’t have anything to do… I have tons of emails, a room to clean, packing to do! errands to run and sleep to catch up on) but I am choosing to do nothing and play catch up mentally! ~ Which means blogging!

So what have I been doing?  Let me give you a little cliff notes version of my crazy, busy, July and then I’ll share some new yummy recipes I’ve stumbled upon!

PA loveI spent a few days in the city of brotherly love –  Philadelphia, PA at the 2013 General Assembly of the YMCA.  15 Y employees from Jacksonville joined 4,000 other Y employees and volunteers for a pep-rally conference full of amazing speakers, vendors and networking opportunities.  It was a very busy few days but a once in a lifetime experience.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta kicked off the conference with a great keynote message on how the Y is in the best position to impact lives and help fight the obesity epidemic.  Did you know that Mexico recently surpassed the U.S. taking the stage as the world’s leader as the most obese nation?!?!  Click here for an article on this.

Sally Hogshead also spoke on how to Fascinate where we all took her Fascination Advantage Test.  My archetype is “The Sustainer” where I am steadfast, composed and by-the-book.  I’d say that’s pretty accurate!

PA GAMalcolm Gladwell was one of the keynote speakers and described that we are in the capitalization business, being the single most important capital engine in this country,  and how success is a group activity.  He outlined 3 reasons why we do such a bad job of capitalizing on the talent in us.  #1- we think talent is scarce.  #2- we think ability is innate where the cream will naturally rise to the top and doesn’t need help from anyone. #3- we have a narrow definition of talent.  Gladwell dissected each of these to prove the exact opposite and ended with our gift to society is helping others find their gifts.  I read one of Gladwell’s books, Outliers, and fell in love with it!  So naturally, I was super excited to hear him speak!

We also had a ton of other great speakers who spoke on topics like managing meetings, financial health, technology, reading people and so many other great topics.  I also met a ton of vendors face to face for the first time and see old Y friends.

We squeezed a TON into 4 days (yes, only 4 days!) and were even able to do a little sightseeing!

PA tour

Let’s not forget about Rocky… You can’t go to Philly without seeing Rocky!  Yes, I ran the stairs… the blazing hot and humid day didn’t stop me!

PA rocky

After Philly, all I wanted to do was laundry, sleep and recoup… this was exactly what I needed…

sweetest things

However, that is NOT what I got!  It was back to work the next day and I didn’t get to chill and unwind until today!  (but that blueberry chocolate cupcake from Luli’s and dark chocolate chip cookies from Cassie’s Kitchen was so worth every bite even if I just had them the past 2 weeks!)

Tshirt tankYesterday was the Wiffleball and Kickball Games of the Y’s First Coast Games corporate challenge.  I attempted to play and learned I am bad REALLY SUCK at throwing, my hitting is better than my kicking but I can catch a kickball pretty well!  And guess what I learned this morning… I am so out of shape!  I am so sore my entire lower body aches!  Guess that’s the price of getting old  I even took 6 ibuprofen yesterday!

Knowing I would be outside in the Florida sun all day, I did a little surgery on my shirt and made it a tank!  Looking back on it, I am so glad I did this!  The tank was so much cooler than the sleeves would have been.

I also experimented with Kale this month.  I made a delicious Kale Dip!

I made Lasagna Roll Ups because they looked fun and a Spicy Mexican Casserole!!

Recipes to follow 🙂

Let’ s not forget what’s happening in T-minus 28 days….. MOVING DAY!  That’s right!  Moving closer to the real world again… work, gym, friends, dog park, mall… it’s a wonderful life!

A Picture Says 1,000 Words

Happy Father's DayIf a picture says 1,000 words, what does 24 years and counting of memories say?  Yesterday was Father’s Day and I got to spend the day with the best dad in the entire world. 

Looking back through a few old pictures, I realized that it doesn’t matter if I’m feeding wild geese (don’t they carry diseases?!), attempting to snowboard in sub-zero temperature (first and last time for that!), dancing or reaching a new milestone, I always have a genuine smile on my face.  🙂  I’ve always been a daddy’s girl, but the older I get the more I realize how much I appreciate and love my daddy. 

Pizza - Arugula makeOther weekend festivities included experimenting with new pizza toppings.  I made a pizza with arugula, fresh mozzarella, pine nuts, homemade tomato sauce, special seasonings and homemade basil wheat crust . 

For dessert, I went for a classic brownie box-with-a-twist-dessert.  Extra chocolate chips and creamy natural peanut butter swirls. Hey- there’s nothing wrong with boxes… I am all for easy recipes.  Especially when crunched for time and needing a little bit of chocolate.  Topped this with Edy’s Slow Churned Cookie Dough Low Fat Ice Cream (less than $3 at Walart-heck yes!)

Pizza and Brownies

I spent Saturday morning at the YMCA for the opening ceremonies of First Coast Games.  First Coast Games is an annual corporate challenge that combines health and wellness activities with a little friendly competition.  I’m participating on the Y’s bowling, tennis and 5k team.  You can click here for more information about the games!  I’ll blog about the events (and hopefully our victories) throughout the next few months.

It rained a lot Friday and the temporary parking for the event was a little, how do I say this, WET. And muddy.  And grassy.  And muddy.  And did I say muddy?  When I left the event, I had a little surprise (not the good kind) on my car…

car 2 Car 1

Ok “a little” is a little bit of an understatement. I have no idea what/who did this but clearly I parked in the wrong spot!  Notice the dirt on the SUV behind my car?  Well that’s how far the mud spread so I had it all over the top and 3 sides of my car… still not sure how that was even possible.  The picture from inside my car was taken while I was waiting at Bubbles Car Wash.  They did an awesome job! 

Food Truck Girls

Saturday night was the 2nd Annual Food Truck Championship in Downtown Jax.  Yummy food? Cold Drinks?  Competition? I was so there!  And so was the rest of Jacksonville…. not kidding!

I met up with a few friends and we set out to try some of the best food truck foods in Jax.  I’ve read good things about The Happy Grilled Cheese so we started out there at about 6:30pm. And we ended there a few hours later.  Literally.  Here me out… We waited over an hour in line to place an order, then at least another half hour to actually get the grilled cheese!  I ordered one that had cheese, pulled pork and mac~n~cheese.  It was a great combo and great tasting because I was starving by the time we ate, but it could have used a little bit of BBQ sauce.  By the time we finished the grilled cheese, we went to Le Petite Cheri Cupcakery.  And guess what, there was NO LINE! 

Why? Because they were SOLD OUT.  I was shockedDeer in headlights look.  I tried to talk it up to the truckie asking for the emergency stash, the extra frosting… c’mon readers – you know me by now to know I had to try this place out.  And I was desperate!  Short from searching the truck, I gave up my cupcake hunt (which was probably a good thing after everything else I’ve eaten this weekend) and headed to The Landing to watch the Stanley Cup Finals Game 2 where the Bruins beat the Blackhawks in overtime. Let me just say, I love people watching!

My first experience with the Food Truck Championship (and really first experience with the food truck buzz) was awesome.  However, this taught me a few lessons for next year:

  1. Get there early.
  2. Scope out the trucks before and prioritize (I missed the cupcakes – amateur mistake!)
  3. BYOB (waiting in line for drinks is certainly not as exciting as waiting in line for yummy food!)

Well that about wraps it up!  I haven’t been working out for the past 2 weeks due to a running injury (blog about that later! Yes – the half marathon  is still next week-yikes!) but I still had a great weekend full of new experiences!

NASA, Cyclists and Elderberries

wknd nasaOn Friday, I got to see one of the coolest parades of cars ever.  NASA!  Parts of old space shuttles were transported from Green Cove Springs to the Keystone Heights Airport’s Wing of Dreams Aviation Museum.  I heard the transport was happening and some roads would be closed but I never thought I would actually get to see the pieces.  I’m not even sure what I saw but it was still really cool to see NASA on the side of the equipment escorted by police!

Click here for a more detailed article.

I was down in Keystone Heights, FL having a work day at the Y’s Resident Camp, Camp Immokalee.  Little did I know NASA would be there too!  I only saw the caravan of trucks passing by and I was able to capture some great pictures from the side of the road (yes, I was that person that pulls over to take pictures!).

wknd bikeMy weekend just seemed to get better after that!  Saturday morning started early…  My dad and I did a 40 mile ride at the crack of dawn.  The weather was absolutely amazing.  It must have been mid-60s with ZERO humidity (or felt that way anyway).  We passed by the Gustafson Farms milk plant (who knew this was in south Orange Park/Green Cove Springs area?!).  This was the perfect place to take a short break, and snap a picture. 🙂

After the farm break, we saw about 30 cyclists going on our same route.  We were quick to join up to them.  Drafting is an AMAZING thing!  So we tried to caught up to the group, eventually.  They were averaging 20-21 mph.  It was a little tough for me to keep up but I loved the challenge!  We rode with them for about 15 miles or so.  By the end of the ride, I was tired and ready for a shower, and lunch!  It’s amazing how much energy you burn in 2.5 hours on the bike!  I layered on the sunscreen but still managed to get a farmer’s tan on my legs… so naturally the rest of the day had to be spent at the pool!

Sunday night I went to the movies and saw The Hangover Part III.  I’ve seen the first two and minus the boobs and butts and Chow’s whatever-you-want-to-call-that, these movies really are hilarious, over the top, great comedies.  I liked the first two better than this last one but it didn’t stop me from laughing and many scenes.

After procrastinating my 10 mile run the entire weekend, I got a little motivation after the beach yesterday to run.  Just run.  That was my mission.  So I layered on SPF 70 and hit the road.  Music blasting, PowerBar eaten and Garmin fully charged.

wknd run

I also recently purchased Sambucus Nigra Black Elderberry Extract Syrup.   Elderberry is used for antioxidants, to lower cholesterol, improve vision, boost the immune system and help fight against coughs, colds, flu and infections. I decided to go with this product as an alternative to OTC synthetic cold/flu type medicines.  Summer colds are something I dread and as I’m getting strong and faster in my running, I don’t want a little cold to stop my progress.   Click here or benefits of Elderberries and click here to purchase.

I don’t know if it was that special motivation that kept me running or the fact I didn’t do anything (literally – eating and lounging pool or beach side) for a few days, but I hit the road running.  10 miles. 1:20:23… that’s an 8:02 pace!  A new distance record for me!

wknd run2