Friday, December 2, 2016

Top Five Friday #78

Happy Weekend everyone!  This has been a long week, so I'm more than ready to sleep in and relax for the next few days.  I have a few plans, but otherwise I'm going to spend the weekend decorating for Christmas and getting in the holiday spirit!

Here are some of my favorites from this week:

Gilmore Girls

I'm not going to give away any spoilers, but I got to watch half of the Gilmore Girls revival, and so far I'm happy with it!  I like how each episode feels like a movie, and all of my favorite characters are back.  I do think some things are a little weird and not what I expected to happen, but we'll see how the second half plays out.  (PS- if you're interested in learning about all of the guest stars that pop up, check out this article)

Big Ten Championship

What an amazing season this has been!  It's been a tough few years to be a Penn State fan, but I've stuck by my college and team through it all.  It hasn't been easy, and this year the team paid back the fans with a truly incredible season.  Against all odds, we made the Big Ten Championship and are even in talks for the National Championship!  I'm going to be cheering for my Nittany Lions this weekend when they go to Indianapolis (and will also be rooting for the women's volleyball team as they start their journey towards another National Championship!)

Bath and Body Works Wallflowers

I don't think there's anything better than walking into my house and being greeted with an amazing scent.  I don't even care if everything is a mess- if it smells good that's fine with me.  Right now, my favorite thing to use are the Wallflowers from Bath and Body Works!  I love how you don't have to keep an eye on these like candles, and the scent fills up a room so quickly.  Right now my favorite scents are Marshmallow Fireside , Vanilla Bean Noel and Winter Candy Apple- but you really can't go wrong with any scent that you choose!


I had to share the outfit that I wore on a rainy day, because I loved how everything looked together!  I recently picked up the jacket from Target, the dress is a few years old from Express, and I got these rain boots on sale at DSW!  I love how well they fit in the calf, and they look like regular boots.

Friday Funny

I think every dog owner can related to this! (side note- pitbullsofinstagram is one of my favorite Instagram accounts!)

Have a great weekend!
linking up with Erika, Heather, and Friday Five

Thursday, December 1, 2016

What's New With You? Linkup #11

Happy December!  This month always flies by for me with holiday parties, vacation days, traveling, and spending time with family.  Before I know it, I'll be wishing you all a happy 2017!

Since it's a new month, it's time to talk about what's been going on and do some catching up.  I'm joined, as always, by my co-host Kristen.  Make sure you go over and say HI! and link up below.  Let's get to some life updates!


In November, I was signed up for the Pittsburgh 10 Miler, but ended up not running it.  I talked about it here, and a bit about burnout here.  I've been feeling a lot better since then, and have gotten my love for running back!  It doesn't really feel like an obligation anymore, but something that I want to do.

I'm starting to plan out my racing schedule for next year, and my big goal is to run a full marathon!  I've never really trained for one (but I've finished two..very painfully), but I feel like I'm ready for the commitment and to check that off my bucket list.  I have a few other races planned before then, but I'm definitely going to focus on training and not racing a ton next year!


This month I went to a Veg Feast.  It was a pretty big event and so much fun!  We had some amazing food, and since everything was local I have a ton of places to try out now.  I talked all about the event here, and I'm excited for the next vegan event in Pittsburgh.

I also had my first Thanksgiving as a vegan!  We had a low-key dinner this year since most of my family was traveling.  I kept it nice and easy by picking up a pre-made vegan feast at Whole Foods on Thanksgiving morning.  There was almost a catastrophy- when I picked up the box and opened it up, it turned out that I got the regular box and not vegan!  Luckily the workers asked me to make sure everything was included or I wouldn't have even noticed until I was eating.  I got the correct box and was on my way, and everything ended up being amazing.  This weekend my family is planning on having a Thanksgiving 2.0 dinner while everyone is home, so I'm looking forward to that.


This month there weren't that many changes in our house.  We tried to get as much done as possible while the weather is nice, so now we're relaxing!  In the winter, we have some plans to finish up the living room, and I'll be sharing pictures as soon as it's done.

I haven't started decorating for Christmas yet!  I usually get out the decorations right away, or at the very latest wait until Thanksgiving.  For some reason this year I've been putting it off.  I have a lot of vacation days left to use this year so I'm taking off the remaining Fridays, so I'll work on getting that done this week.

I also need some opinions- I haven't been updating my home blog recently, and I'm thinking about shutting it down.  I liked the idea of starting one to talk about my home projects, but I haven't really kept it updated regularly and I'm always putting off writing posts for it.  Would you all be alright with occasional house updates here?  It might just be a monthly post showing what's new, but it would make my life a lot easier!


Where They Found Her - I just finished this book, and it only took me about a day to read it all.  I'm not typically a fast reader, but this was such a great book.  There were three different story lines that all ended up weaving together and a surprise ending.  I would highly recommend if you like mystery!

It's Not Okay - If you're a Bachelor/Bachelorette fan, you have to pick up this book.  It's written by Andi Dorfman, and talks about her experience as a contestant vying for Juan Pablo's heart, then about her turn as a lead, and the ensuing breakup from the "winner" of her season.  It was entertaining and an easy read.  Perfect for traveling around for the holidays!

I'm Thinking of Ending Things - I just started reading this book, but it came highly recommend from a friend and I'm looking forward to diving into it.


Here's how I did with my three goals in November:

Try a new workout class at the gym.  I tried PiYo!

Participate in NaBloPoMo.  I did it!  I posted every single day and I'm pretty proud of myself.

Take a day trip.  I ended up having plans every weekend in November, so no day trips for us.  Now that I have Fridays off (and Dan gets every other Friday off at work normally), we'll make it happen in December!

Two out of three isn't too bad!  And here are my goals for December:

- Run 85 miles.  I want to end the year strong and start training harder, and I'm 85 miles away from 1000 for the year!

- 30 Day Yoga Challenge.  I somehow got Dan to agree to do this challenge with me!  I'm interested to see how flexible and strong I can get after doing yoga for 30 days in a row.

- No Buy!  I've been going a little crazy with spending lately, so in December I want to do a no-buy.

Alrighty everyone, that's enough updates for now.  Can't wait to hear what you've all been up to!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

NaBloPoMo Wrap Up and LINKUP Reminder

I made it!  I blogged every day in November (this being my final post) and I survived.  It was tough at times, but really fun to challenge myself.  Here's a look back at all of the posts that I wrote, in case you missed any:

(1) October Favorites
(2) Let's Get Personal
(3) What's New With You
(4) Top Five Friday
(5) Oprah's Favorite Things
(6) Race Week
(7) Let's Talk About Burnout
(8) Dips
(9) WIAW Election Day
(10) Belize Part 4
(11) Top Five Friday
(12) Currently
(13) Week in Workouts
(14) Weekend Highlights
(15) Battle of the Stuffing
(16) Getting Back to Running
(17) Scrapbook Memories
(18) Top Five Friday
(19) Netflix Favorites
(20) Week in Workouts
(21) Veg Feast
(22) Vegan Thanksgiving Menu
(23) Lululemon Reviews
(24) Happy Thanksgiving
(25) Top Five Friday
(26) Favorite Christmas Songs
(27) Week in Workouts
(28) Mental Health Helps
(29) November Favorites
(30) Wrap Up

ALSO- tomorrow will be the next "What's New With You" linkup!  Make sure you join Kristen and me here tomorrow and let us know what's up.

Who else did NaBloPoMo?
Did anyone participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tasty Tuesday : November Favorites

Happy Tasty Tuesday everyone!  Another month is coming to an end, and I thought it would be fun to look back on November and talk about some of my favorite new products that I tried out.  I've been doing a lot of experimenting in the kitchen, so I thought it would fun to share what I love each month!  Today I'm going to be talking about some foods, drinks, recipes and products.


Tofutti Sour Cream
This is kind of a weird food item to share, but I had to talk about it!  I was always a huge fan of sour cream and used it on so many different dishes.  I was really excited when I found a vegan sour cream alternative that tastes so close to the original that I'm not sure if they repackaged regular sour cream and just claim it's vegan.  It's that good!  To top it off, it's not much more expensive than the real stuff (which is not always the case with vegan alternatives!)

Gardein Holiday Roast
I was worried about my first Thanksgiving as a vegan, and figured there wouldn't be many traditional items that I could eat.  Luckily, I found out that Whole Foods was selling an entire feast in a box for $40- including stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, cranberries, and a Gardein Holiday Roast.  I was a bit apprehensive about the roast, since I don't really like fake meat that much.  However, this was AMAZING!  It had a really similar texture and taste to turkey, and was filled with an incredible tasting stuffing.  I'll definitely be getting this again in the future!


Troegs Mad Elf
Last month I mentioned loving Dream Weaver from Troegs, but this month I'm excited that my favorite beer of all time is finally available!  Mad Elf is a seasonal beer that is absolutely incredible- a Belgian Dark Ale with hints of cherry, honey, cocoa and spices.  It's even better on tap if you're in the Hershey area!  Last year I tried a Mad Elf flight, featuring varieties from different years, and I'm dying to get back to try it again.

Tim Hortons K Cups
A few months ago, I got a membership to Sam's Club on Groupon.  It's been great so far, and I've been stocking up on tons of my favorites.  One thing that I wanted to get was a big box of K-cups for work, and luckily Sam's had my favorite brand- Tim Hortons!  Their coffee is so delicious and I don't even need to add any kind of milk or sugar.  I can't start my morning without it!


I love finding easy lunches to help make my weekly prep easier, and this month I've been all about burrito bowls!  These could not be more simple to make, and you can customize them to your preferences.  I make a big batch of rice (usually about 2 cups of dried rice is enough for 10 servings- 5 lunches for me and 5 for Dan), cook a can of beans, roast about 5 potatoes and an onion, and mix together.  On the side I'll bring salsa, guacamole and vegan sour cream.  Some other combinations I'm loving are portobella mushrooms and Brussels sprouts, like you see above.

It's so delicious, and it takes barely any work at all!  Is there any better feeling than having lunch ready for the entire week on Sunday?!


I mentioned this food processor a few weeks ago in Top Five Friday, but I have to mention it again!  I've used it so much this month, and it's really made food prep and cooking in general much easier.  I don't know how I ever cooked without it!  If you're tired of chopping up veggies for hours, think about investing in a bigger food processor with chopping attachments!

What are some of your favorites from November?
What recipe should I try next?
What's your favorite seasonal beer?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Mental Health Helps

Happy Monday everyone!  These are the final few days of NaBloPoMo (seriously, where did the month go?) and today I'm going to be taking one of the official prompts and sharing my thoughts on it.  This was actually the very first prompt that was shared this year, and I've been waiting to share this post since then!

The prompt is:
When you're having a bad day with your mental health, what do you do to help yourself?

Read a Book or Magazine

I'm not someone who reads a ton, even though I really enjoy it.  I like to read on the bus to pass the time, but if I'm at home I feel like I'm wasting time or should be doing something else.  It feels indulgent to me, so whenever I'm feeling down or need a pick-me-up I'll settle in with a good book (usually something trashy and embarrassing) or work on my huge stack of magazines.  Right now I'm subscribed to Outside, Health, Runners World, Glamour and People Magazine (thank you airline miles) and can't seem to keep up.

Cook or Bake

Cooking is something that I do on an everyday basis to stay sane.  After a stressful day at work, all I want to do when I get home is get in the kitchen and spend the next hour or two cooking a meal.  It's therapeutic to me to chop vegetables, saute or stir something on the stove, and plate it up for Dan and me to enjoy over a glass of wine.  On Sundays, I'll plan out a few new recipes that I want to try and pick up all the ingredients.  That way, as soon as I get home, I don't have to think about what to make or stress about anything- just get in the kitchen and cook!  I usually share what I'm making on Snapchat, so follow along at gretchxo if you need some dinner ideas!

Go for a Run or Walk

I'm not a doctor or psychologist, but I know that I always feel better after I go for a run.  Things happen in the brain and send happy signals throughout your body, but all that matters to me is that I go for a run and return in a better mood!  Sometimes a run isn't possible (like in the middle of a work day), but just getting up and going for a short walk, even if it's to the coffee maker, helps me feel better.  

Watch an Old Favorite

Everyone has that old guilty-pleasure show or movie (I told you mine- America's Next Top Model!), and anytime I'm in a funk I'll zone out on the show.  Sure, this isn't the most healthy way to deal with stress or anxiety, but sometimes it's exactly what I need!  Other good choices for me are Gilmore Girls, Friends, Modern Family, Top Chef, The Holiday, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

Do Some Yoga

When I say yoga, I don't mean something really intense like hot yoga.  While that might be great for some people, when I'm down I just need some relaxing, meditative yoga.  I'll just go onto youtube and search for "yoga for stress" or "yoga and meditation" and click on whatever video is calling to me.  30-40 minutes later and I'm feeling much better about life.

Make Your Own Spa Day

To be honest, I'm not really a bath person.  Being in a bath stresses me out and grosses me out at the same time, so I don't really take them (except after a really hard run when I soak in epsom salts!).  However, baths can be extremely therapeutic for most people.  Light a candle, drink some wine, and put on some relaxing music and you're sure to feel calm soon!  But, for bath haters like me, doing other spa-like things can include putting on a face mask, luxurious hair mask, big fluffy robe, fancy body oils, lighting candles and pouring a glass of wine.  This is best combined with reading magazines for the ultimate relaxation!

Your turn- what do you do when you're having a bad day?
Are you someone who needs to talk out their problems?  I'm definitely not!  I need some time alone to digest, then I'm fine.

linking up with Amanda

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Week in Workouts

What a great week!  Sometimes I get distracted and don't stay very active during holiday weeks, but this was a great one.  The weather was perfect and I had some great workouts.  I even started timing my runs, and I think I'm ready to start following a more structured plan to get in shape for 2017 races.  I'm feeling motivated and excited to race again, which is a great feeling!

Here's a look at the week:


4 miles
#NeverMissAMonday.  This was definitely the coldest morning we've had so far this season, and I almost stayed inside to run.  I toughed it out and ended up having a fantastic run outside!  It's so funny how quickly you warm up once you start running.


Rest Day!
I got pulled into a lunch time meeting at the last minute, then went out to lunch for my boss's birthday, so I didn't make it to the gym for my normal lunchtime classes.  Decided to take a rest day instead.


3 miles
I got to work from home on Wednesday, so I ended up going running at lunch time.  I tried out my new outfit from Lulu, which kept me incredibly warm!  I wore the Run for Cold pullover with a Swiftly short sleeve t-shirt, Speed Tights, and Mantra Twist headband.  It was in the 20s when I started, and I was sweating by the end!


3 miles
I decided not to race on Thanksgiving this year, so Dan, Selma and I went to North Park to do our own "Turkey Trot" in the morning!  The park was packed full of families and dogs, but we had a great time.  The weather was perfect and both of my running buddies did a great job!


Yoga / 30:00
I didn't follow any video or any specific flow, just did whatever felt good.  Lots of sun salutations and stretches, followed with some foam rolling.


4 miles
Headed around my neighborhood for an easy 4 miler.  It was a bit chilly when I started, and on my way back it started to sleet a bit.  I actually love running in rain, snow or ice so this was perfect conditions for me!

After running, I tuned in to the Ohio State/Michigan game to cheer for OSU (for the first time in my life) then cheered on my Nittany Lions!  Thanks to the Ohio State win and Penn State victory, we're headed for the Big Ten Championship game next week! I'm SO excited!!


6 miles / 53:10 / 8:51 pace
This was my first timed run in a long time!  I headed out to North Park and took it nice and easy.  I didn't even check my pace while I was running, and just wanted to see what my conditioning was like.  I was really pleasantly surprised at my pace!  The weather definitely helped- it was low 40s and just a bit of wind in a few sections.  Doesn't get much better than that!

Total Miles : 20
Cross Training : Yoga

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Favorite Christmas Songs

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it's finally an appropriate time to start thinking about all things CHRISTMAS!  Even though I listen to Christmas music year round when the mood strikes, I really go all out this time of year.  I listen to it in the car, at work, and turn it on as soon as I get home.  I just want to be surrounded by all the Holly Jolly songs I can find, 24/7!

Here are a few of my favorite Christmas albums and songs (and if you want to here a playlist of all of these, plus a few extras, listen on Spotify!)

Mariah Carey - Merry Christmas

This is an album that I always listened to growing up.  I love how it's a mix of classic songs and new pop Christmas songs, all in Mariah's incomparable voice.

Josh Groban - Noel

If you're looking for more old-school songs- look no further than Josh Groban.  His voice is so amazing and gives me chills any time I hear it!

Christina Aguilera - My Kind of Christmas

Christina is one of my favorite singers of all time, so of course her Christmas album is at the top of my list.

Pentatonix - ALL!!

I believe that Pentatonix comes out with a new Christmas CD every year, and they have all been amazing.  They re-do all of the classics to make their own a capella masterpiece.  Love it!

Dave Koz and Friends - The 25th of December

For a more instrumental/jazzy Christmas, give Dave Koz a listen.  My stand-out favorite is Let it Snow!

Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Christmas Eve and Other Stories

Is it really Christmas is TSO isn't playing!?  I had to include this incredible group, and my dream is to one day see them perform live.

Kelly Clarkson - Wrapped in Red

This is a newer CD but it's already one of my favorites.  Kelly has such an incredible voice and has some great original Christmas songs on here!

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?
Have you started decorating yet?