About Me

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A 30-something living in the foothills of the Virginia mountains; I'm saved by grace, addicted to coffee and my little sister is my best friend! I devote most of my time to exploring, reading, attending as many Nationals games as possible and documenting life here. My Prince Charming got lost somewhere along the way...but I'm trying to remain hopeful that true love exists.

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Five on Friday


Greetings gentle reader - this post is coming to you on Friday but was largely written on Thursday. Why, you might ask? Well the reason is that I am off work today and so while I would normally be blogging from the office, today I'm at home and I'm choosing to spend my morning drinking coffee, watching The Night Manager and taking an extended walk/jog (if it's not pouring rain...)

Anywho - on to the Five!



One. Apple Blossom Festival - The most glorious reason why I am off today! Every year, Winchester holds it's annual Apple Blossom Festival at the end of April/start of May and it's kind of a big deal because around here, apples are a big deal! The Festival has been an annual thing since 1924...so, it's basically been around forever! It's evolved from a one day thing to a week long festival with dances, parades, carnivals, luncheons, crafts, a 10-K and plenty of "celebrities" added into the mix. I don't know how much I'll participate this year since it's supposed to rain almost all weekend - boo - but it's usually lots of fun and involves everyone wearing plenty of pink and green!

I'm sure you get the whole pink & green thing now...right?

Two. Pedicures - Absolutely one of the best things in the world is a good pedicure, right? So relaxing and wonderful! This week was Administrative Professionals Week and my boss spoiled our office in a big way. He took us all to lunch and also bought us chocolate...and then just to go above and beyond, he sent us all to get pedicures - during the work day! I went with a theme near and dear to my heart and I think it turned out quite nice!

Play Ball!

Three. Nationals Baseball this Week - This week has been a little less stellar than the past two weeks, but I have to remind myself that baseball is a marathon...not a sprint. The Nationals are 4-2 for the past week, so that's nothing to be too sad about but it is troubling that those losses came at the hands of the Phillies...who are supposed to be pretty crummy this year. Oh well.

The game of the week was hands down Sunday afternoon (and night) when the Nationals defeated the Twins after sixteen innings; courtesy of a walk-off home run from Chris Heisey. The game would have been the game of the week without a doubt...but it was easily my choice because I was there! It was and will always be one of the most memorable games in Nationals history...and it's also the longest regular season game in Nationals history. Not bad.

Poor Dan Kolko...not even prepared...ha-ha!

Four. Hockey - Which I'll go ahead and confess I know nothing about, but I've been paying close attention to since the Capitals are in the Stanley Cup Play-offs. My friend Katie and I discussed hockey last week while we were at the Nationals game; they were posting the score of the play-off game in between innings and the crown went wild when the final score was posted and everyone saw that the Caps had moved on to round two! Katie knows all about hockey...I know all about baseball...I've won Katie over on baseball, now maybe next season we'll catch a hockey game? Who knows - but hey...Go Caps!

Rock the Red - Sort of....

Five. Fitness - This week has been good; I've really felt like I'm hitting my stride with the exercise and while the eating hit a bump or two ( I mean - it was Administrative Professionals Day and how can you say no to chocolate??) I still feel like I'm doing pretty well. I guess as long as I keep on keeping on, that will be what makes the difference, right? I do know that I am consistently losing weight, even if it's only a pound or two a week - a pound or two a week is better than nothing.


And that's all I've got for this Friday - so until the next post, I hope you have a good weekend!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Feeling Foodie


I've been in the kitchen - which can be both exciting and scary! Okay...I'm being dramatic...there really isn't anything too scary about it; I wasn't in the kitchen to create anything too out there, nothing like the time I tried to make pickle chicken. Ha-ha! Yes - that was a thing - I read rave reviews about people putting chicken in pickle juice and it being delicious. It wasn't terrible...but yea...I haven't made it again.

I love both pickles and chicken. Just not together. Gag. 

These two thing though; they are not gross. They will not make you gag...they will actually probably make you smile with delight at how delicious they are. There are no pickles involved in either recipe but there is lovely broccoli and cheese and chocolate and whipped cream...and no, not together. Ha!

*********************************************************************************

I peruse the Pioneer Woman website on the regular and she has not one but two recipes for Broccoli Cheese Soup. A few months back I took a chance on getting Broccoli Cheese soup from Panera and fell in love; I've been looking for a recipe ever since and the Pioneer Woman seemed like a definite excellent choice. I decided to do the stove version - mostly because I didn't think ahead enough to do the crock pot option - and it was delicious. I didn't expect it to be anything less than splendid though!

Broccoli Cheese Soup (courtesy of the Pioneer Woman)
Ingredients - minus the glass of wine. That's for the chef to drink while cooking.
What You Need
- 1 onion; diced
- 1 stick butter
- 1/3 cup flour
- 4 cups milk (I used 2% because...less fat than whole milk...)
- 2 cups half & half (this is another reason I used NOT whole milk, ha-ha)
- Broccoli; 4 heads chopped
- Nutmeg; just a dash
- 3 cups grated cheddar cheese
- salt
- pepper
- chicken broth (for thinning...if needed)

Buttery onions smell absolutely amazing. Trust me.
Broccoli swimming in broth...
What To Do 
- Melt butter, add onions. Cook for 3-4 minutes and sprinkle in flour. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute. 

- Add in milk, half & half, nutmeg, salt, pepper and broccoli. Cover and reduce heat to low (seriously, reduce the heat or else you'll risk overflow - eek!) Simmer for 25 minutes.

- Stir in cheese and allow to melt/combine. Puree as much of the soup as you'd like - if you want a cream style soup, puree it all. If you prefer larger pieces of broccoli then don't puree it at all. I did about half of mine and loved it!

- Add in chicken broth if you feel the soup needs to be thinned. I didn't actually use any chicken broth; I liked the creamy consistency that my soup was at!

- Top with a light sprinkling of cheese and devour. I mean...eat...

Cheese makes everything better....
So. Delicious. 

The second kitchen creation I made this week was a dessert for dinner with some friends. I wanted something that would look and taste delicious/fancy/make it seem like I slaved in the kitchen...but I didn't actually want to slave in the kitchen, ha-ha! 

My Mom mentioned that a trifle is always a good choice and I investigated some recipes online before happening upon a peanut butter cup trifle that seemed like the perfect choice - when are chocolate and peanut butter not the perfect choice?? I tweaked the recipe just a bit to my liking and it was a big hit with my friends. Also - it was crazy easy! So, go ahead and make yourself one too!


Peanut Butter Cup Trifle
All such good things.
What You Need
- 2 packages chocolate pudding mix (I used chocolate fudge)
- 1 12 ounce container of Cool Whip
- 2 bags Reese's minis
- angel food cake (you don't need a lot; look for a small loaf at your local grocery store's bakery)
- Reese's peanut butter ice cream sauce


What You Do
- Make the pudding according to the directions on the box; put in fridge to set while gathering your other ingredients.

- Cut the angel food cake in cubes and begin layering: cake cubes, chocolate pudding, Cool Whip, Reese's minis and a drizzle of peanut butter ice cream sauce. Repeat as preferred.

- Dig in!

*Drool*
I'm not kidding when I tell you that is probably the easiest dessert I've ever made and it looks SO much harder than it actually is! It also tastes absolutely delicious. I promise - make this dessert and you will not be disappointed!


That's all I've got for now - go to the grocery store, buy some delicious things and get cooking!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sweet Sixteen



This post has nothing to do with a birthday and everything to do with the longest regular season game in Nationals history; 16 innings, 5 hours and 56 minutes long. And yes - the Nats pulled out a Curly W in the end. Talk about picking an epic game; literally a historical game, to watch as my first game at Nationals Park for the 2016 season. Amazing!

Just a quick selfie before the game got underway!
Nationals Park - 2016
Perfect baseball weather - seriously. *sigh*
Sunday I definitely woke up much earlier than necessary - I was just that excited. If you are reading that last sentence and thinking to yourself that I have a problem...well...really, no. I don't. I just love Nationals baseball...and if loving Nationals baseball that much is wrong, I don't want to be right.

My friend Katie joined me on Sunday's adventure to the ballpark; she's not been to a major league baseball game in some time and she's never been to a Nationals game, but based on the texts I've been getting since Sunday night...I think I might have successfully sucked her into the madness. So - victory in more ways than one!

After having lunch at the Budweiser Brew House (formerly known as the Red Porch) we perused the Team Store...with about 5,000 other people...and took our seats in Section 225. We were settled in and ready for nine innings. We had no idea what we were really in for - I'll go with Dusty Baker's description of the game...The Twilight Zone. :)

Stretching? Trying out new dance moves? Who can say...
Play ball! 
The game started with a bang - after Stephen Strasburg got three outs on the Twins, Matt den Dekker stepped in as the lead off batter for the Nationals and immediately sent one sailing out of the park to put the Nationals up 1-0. The Twins countered in the third inning with a run that tied the game up 1-1 and the game continued in that fashion into the eighth inning...all tied up at 1-1. 

It was Kids Run the Bases Day - God bless those poor children - I'm guessing a lot of them never got around to running the bases. Where Katie and I were sitting, we were surrounded by wee Nationals fans who were all enjoying the game in different ways: the toddler in front of us was in awe of Jayson Werth's leaping catch that robbed a Twins player of a home run, delightedly telling his Dad "hey..hey..that one over there...he jumped...and he did catch it. He did." The kids to our left were obviously born and raised Nationals fans...they may have been young, but they knew their Nationals players. And well, the poor kids behind us, they had a bit of a know it all for a Dad and we listened to him talk incessantly about what was happening on the field for almost a full six innings before he finally went on a snack run. Sigh of relief.

Stephen Strasburg came in to pitch the eighth and allowed two Twins players to get on base before giving up a three run homer to Dozier...making the score 4-1 in the eighth. The Nationals fought back in the bottom of the eighth, putting up two runs to make the score 4-3 and Felipe Rivero held the Twins off in the top of the ninth...keeping that score at 4-3. What happened next was essentially what "started" the second game of the day...because in the bottom of the ninth, a baseball game is usually almost over - but this game was just beginning.

Murphy, Zimmerman and Harper at bat...not necessarily in that order...
Bryce Harper - MVP of the DMV and all around love of DC's sports fandom - had Sunday off. So sad, right? Well...in the bottom of the ninth, the Nationals needed a little boost to get the game going again. Lo and behold, who should appear in the on deck circle but Bryce Harper? Stepping in to pinch hit and hopefully tie the game...and now this was my first game at Nationals Park since Harper was named the unanimous National League MVP after his stellar 2015 season. When I say "and the crowd went wild.." that might be a little bit of an understatement. Harp worked the count up to 3-2...really raising the stakes, you know? And then...well...then this happened....


ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Of course he did that - because what else was he going to do? The crowd goes wild wouldn't even accurately describe a fraction of the reaction to that moment. If that ballpark could have levitated - that would have been the moment. It was crazy. And so...on to the 10th inning we went after Harper's home run and three quick outs.

Somewhere along the way I'd mentioned that if the game was tied after the ninth, we'd go to extra innings...and Katie heard "eleven" innings. She asked how the game would go on after the 11th inning if it was still tied and I told her "oh no - the game goes on until someone wins, ha-ha!" We definitely assumed that we'd see maybe another inning or two and then head over to Ice Cream Jubilee to end the day. However, the game stayed tied through the tenth...through the eleventh...through the twelfth...you get the picture, right?

Extra Innings? Let's do this thing!
A different vantage point for the thirteenth inning...
Around the twelfth inning, the ballpark really started to empty - folks just weren't into hanging on for the entire game. Since so many people were vacating their seats, Katie and I agreed that if the game went into the thirteenth we'd get up and move around the park, taking in the game from different view points...and as the game went to the thirteenth...and then the fourteenth...and the fifteenth...we made our way around the park. We took pictures in between the top and bottom of innings - honestly, a lot of them were pictures we'd have never gotten with 35+ thousand people still at the park - but considering how quickly it had emptied - we were golden for some great snapshots! 


The MVP of the DMV
The newly painted steps - love them!
Getting this picture would have been impossible earlier - it will probably be impossible the rest of the season...
We had faith this whole thing would end in a Curly W.
In the fifteenth inning, the Twins took the lead and made the score 5-4...it was starting to look like all this would end in heartbreak for Nationals fans...but then the almost impossible happened in the bottom of the fifteenth. Danny Espinosa worked the walk and having run out of position players to pinch hit, the pitcher Oliver Perez came up to bat...let me set the scene for you: two outs, Espinosa on first and Perez at bat...a guy who hasn't batted since 2010...seriously. He laid a bunt down the third base line and the Twins snatched it up to make the play at first - and OVERTHREW THE BALL! Espinosa raced from first all the way home and tied the game again and with that, the game went to the sixteenth inning and officially became absolutely crazy!

Fifteenth Inning - let's watch this one from Center Field
I promise she had a good time - even if she doesn't look like it here...ha-ha!
The Nationals held off the Twins in the top of the sixteenth and then...Chris Heisey came along and played the hero, smashing a one run homer to Center Field and winning the game for the Nationals. After five hours and fifty-six minutes, the Nationals came out victorious. I'm just saying - not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon (and early evening...)...



Winner Winner...Curly W - we have a winner!


And because I couldn't resist - here are just a couple pictures from the MASN broadcast of the game that I borrowed. Nothing like having fun for the entire game...rally caps and all. Love my Nationals!


I think Bryce might love Dusty Baker just a little bit - so awesome to have such an amazing manager this year!
Rally Caps on! Also - Ben Revere...what are you wearing?!?
I believe I can fly....

Until next time ya'll...all I can say is...Ain't Baseball Great? 

Monday, April 25, 2016

A Post That Largely Features the Dog...and Some Baseball....


What a week...what a week! Also, am I the only person that cannot believe it's already the last week of April? The speed with which this past month has flown by is mind-boggling! However, I feel like I say that all the time. I guess it's always true though; the older I get, the more aware I am that time is flying on by...

Looking back on this jam-packed week! Monday I had myself something of a little adventure while I was out getting in my two miles (or more)... The weather is turning nicer and so of course, some little (and not so little) creatures are venturing from wherever they've been hiding all Winter and I had an encounter on Monday. As I was cruising along, I noticed up ahead what appeared to be a very long tree branch laid across the road...and yes...I know you're wondering how I confused a tree branch and a black snake. I blame my lack of focus - I was fiddling with my iPhone and the music on it. 

The closer I got to the "stick" in the road, the stranger it looked. And right about the time I pulled up even with the "stick", I realized the end closest to me had beady little eyes and it was definitely not a stick but a snake. I immediately jumped sideways out of it's path and when my feet hit the ground...I wasn't just jogging, I was full on running. Once I acheived what I thought was a safe distance from the snake, I looked back...and it was still just relaxing in the middle of the road. I had Watson with me and somehow he completely missed the snake - I think that in and of itself was a miracle. But yea - I can run faster than I thought - with the right motivation! 

So - we survived the snake - can you share your macaroon please?
Cheesecake & bottled water on Tuesday night - no problem!
Tuesday night I branched out and went to my church's ladies group - called Lavish Sisterhood. Now, apparently some people would never know this but I tend to be shy and don't necessarily love social situations if they require me to go on my own. However, so far the people at my church have been so welcoming and so I reached out, made myself a "friend" and headed over to the church on Tuesday evening. They had bottled water and cheesecake...and of course, some Starbursts waiting on each lady in her seat, along with the sentiment: Don't let anyone treat you like a yellow Starburst when you're clearly a pink Starburst! Ha-ha! The evening went a little longer than I thought it would, but I had a good time - the group won't meet again until September - but I think I'll go again in the Fall!


It's only Wednesday? What?
Settling in to watch some Wednesday night baseball...
I might need new sneakers soon...
The rest of the week itself was pretty uneventful - I walked and walked, ha-ha! I also realized I must be doing something right because not only are the soles of my sneakers starting to show some serious wear, the inside of my shoes are looking pretty rough too! I guess I need to be on the lookout for some new shoes. I watched lots of baseball - which will be par for the course for the next six months - and beyond that, it was just the usual: work, walk, eat, sleep & repeat. Ha-ha!

When you have all the hair...ha-ha!
Friday afternoon exploration...
W - he's such a goofball....
Friday afternoon we were granted release from the office a bit earlier than usual and while I'd intended to do all kinds of things on Friday evening...and figured I could do that much more with the extra time...I came home and just did nothing! I thought about walking a couple miles...but I didn't. I thought about reading a bit of a book...but I didn't. I thought about doing a lot of things but I ended up watching a couple episodes of The Office while I did some laundry and then I made Broccoli Cheese soup (courtesy of the Pioneer Woman) and watched the Nationals game. Once that was over, I watched a bit more of The Office before crashing for the evening - it wasn't an exciting Friday night, but it was oh so enjoyable to be lazy!

Saturday morning thunderstorms...
Dessert anyone?
I woke up earlier than I planned on Saturday, courtesy of a huge thunderclap that was amplified by my open bedroom windows. After trying and failing to go back to sleep, I went downstairs, got a cup of coffee and started the movie Crimson Peak - a creepy Gothic romance/thriller that went perfectly with the dreary weather. The rain cleared off a little later in the day and so Watson and I enjoyed a couple walks outside in the sunshine and cool breezes, I watched Outlander and of course...the Nationals game...all before making dessert and heading to my friend Danielle's for dinner. We had such a good time; the ladies did a little shopping before we all ate some seriously delicious food and then just sat around and chatted. I had planned to finish the fourth season of The Office once I got home, but yet again - I was so tired that I was fast asleep before 11:00! Bum alert!

Sunday morning = deep thoughts.
Nationals baseball = the BEST baseball.
Sunday I woke up earlier than expected (again) and since I had some time to kill, I watched The Night Manager while I had my coffee. I chatted with my little sister the whole time I got ready and at 9:30 my friend Katie arrived at the house and we headed for DC...well, we headed for Vienna and the Metro to get into downtown DC. So much easier than dealing with traffic! I finally...finally got back to Nationals Park and was so happy to finally be getting ready to watch a Nationals game again! The weather was absolutely perfect and the game was hands down one of the most amazing I've been to! Of course, I'll be devoting an entire post to the historic game but I will share that I think I might have won my friend Katie over to the joys of being a Washington Nationals fan. That's always a huge plus!

Just the fourteenth inning - it's really no big deal...
Wearing their "rally caps" in the dugout...ha-ha!
The Nationals won the game in the 16th inning - after 5 hours and 56 minutes of play - such a rewarding feeling to be on the winning end of such a crazy and amazing game! We got back home a lot later than I thought we would but I had just enough time to change into comfy clothes and warm up a bowl of soup before the sixth season of Game of Thrones started. And just like that...another week and weekend were over and done with, nothing left of them but happy, happy memories!

Sunday night sunset....



Friday, April 22, 2016

Five on Friday


Friday has arrived once more - as always - I am so glad to see the weekend! Or at least...it's almost the weekend, ha-ha! Here are five things that are floating around in my head on this rather gloomy (at least in Northern VA) Friday afternoon.


One. Flashbacks - Y'all, Prince died. I know...I know...who knew I was a Prince fan? Actually, I can't claim to have listened to that much Prince in my lifetime, although I know plenty of his songs. However, thinking about Prince yesterday afternoon brought to mind the song When Doves Cry which made me remember the movie Romeo & Juliet from all the way back in 1996! My friend Dee and I were obsessed with both the movie and the soundtrack!

I can very distinctly remember spending a Friday night in the room over our garage watching the movie and dancing around to the soundtrack. We may or may not have also climbed onto our air hockey table to dance...which may or may not have led to my Dad getting a little heated with us. Apparently air hockey tables are NOT made for dancing on like you're at the club...oops! 

Two. This Week in Nationals Baseball - A recap of the past week of Nationals baseball; I think I'll make this a weekly thing. At least for the next six months; ha! The Nationals come out of the past week at 4-3; the team is 11-4 on the season, so not terrible. The Nationals still sit at the top of the NL East Standings, up 3.5 games on the Mets (gross) and will be at home for the next week with a three game series against the Minnesota Twins starting tonight, an off day on Monday and a three game series against the Phillies before heading out on the road again...


Best game of the week? That would easily be Tuesday night's 7-0 win over the Miami Marlins! The game was decidedly a pitching duel until the 7th inning when the Nationals bats busted loose and they scored seven runs in the seventh by hitting four home runs...back to back...load the bases...back to back. Jayson Werth hit his 200th home run and Wilson Ramos followed with his own homer. The bases loaded up just in time for Harper to hit his 2nd Grand Slam in less than a week and Ryan Zimmerman offered a nice finale by following Harper's Slam with a home run of his own. A very pretty curly W if you ask me!

Three. Game of Thrones Season Six - After what seems like an eternity of waiting for the next season of Game of Thrones, it finally premieres on Sunday night. I am not quite as ravenous about season six as I have been previous seasons...mostly because season five left a lot to be desired (for me). I like the previews I've seen and I hope season six is as great as it's been promised...and don't even get me started on Jon Snow's fate!


Four. Weekend Plans - I've got some of those, ha-ha! I have BIG plans to do absolutely nothing on Friday night...nothing except watch Netflix and really just relax. I suppose I'd better say that since saying "Netflix and Chill" means something that does not involve chilling...oh today's youth and their slang words and phrases...

I'm going to do my best to sleep in on Saturday, get in some walking and catch Outlander before heading to my friend Danielle's for supper on Saturday night. And Sunday - well Sunday I'm headed to one of my favorite places on Earth: Nationals Park! The time has finally come (after the game was "snowed" out two weeks ago) for a game in DC and my friend Katie will be joining me for the game. And ice cream will be involved at some point too...


Five. Fitness - This week has gone good! I feel like I'm settling in much better with the whole Weight Watchers thing and I also feel like I'm starting to hit my stride where fitness is concerned! I will say - now that I've consistently walked two miles or more almost every day, I feel like anything less than two miles is slacking! Eek! However, I do think that since today is Friday...I may only a mile. Or a mile and a half.... We'll see!


So - there you have it. The five things on my mind the Friday. And now that I'm home from work early, I'm off to get started on my weekend plans a bit sooner than expected. Until next time!