Monday, April 30, 2012

April Accomplishments

G0 For The Goal

And my birthday month is officially over... womp womp. Although, I have to say that it's been one of those amazing and exciting months for me. I accomplished a ton, felt extremely blessed, and kept plugging away on my yearly goals. I'm linking up with MeghanLoriMeghan, and Whitney again to share what I've accomplished for the month. Here are my posts for JanuaryFebruary, March, and the year

  • Be happy. How could I not be happy after a great birthday month, running lots of races, meeting new blog friends, and having the best family, friends AND boyfriend in the world?
  • Relax more. I took a few days off from my writing.I enjoyed some ice cream while snuggling on the couch with M.
  • Write. I wrote not one, but two more articles for HooplaHa! Plus, I've been working hard on making deadlines for my writing goals. 
  • Read at least one book a month. I read 2: Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker.
  • Cook a new recipe once a month. (Homemade Beef Jerky, Oven-Fried Okra, Spaghetti Squash)
  • No shop months. I was allowed to shop this month, but surprisingly only bought a few items (including 2 dresses that were great deals).
  • Give once a month. I donated $50 to the SADS Foundation (part of my 24 Before 24 list). 
Extra Accomplishments for the Month:
  • Ran TWO half marathons: More/Fitness Women's Half and Country Music Half Marathon
  • Broke major personal records in two of my races!
  • Met and spent quality time with Christin!
  • Crossed off #5, #7, #20 and #21 from my 25 Before 25 List
  • Spent almost 3 hours thoroughly cleaning the house (yes, I consider this an accomplishment)
How are you doing with your yearly goals? Are you keeping up with them? May brings on another month of no shopping for me, hopefully I won't find anything that I absolutely love or need...

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Oven-Fried Okra

Another Pinterest find! I followed this recipe from Disney Family provided by the American Heart Association. I followed it almost exactly, except for one major thing...I didn't thaw the okra first, so I ended up cooking it for an extra 10 minutes. I also added more salt and pepper once it was cooked. Oh well, it was still tasty, and surprisingly healthy!

canola oil cooking spray
- 1 20 oz. bag frozen sliced okra, thawed
1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups yellow corn meal
- Plus salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 475* Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spray generously with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Spray the inside of a gallon-sized ziploc bag with cooking spray. Add the okra, teaspoon of salt, and teaspoon of pepper. Close the bag and shake well to blend. Let the bag sit for ten minutes. 
3. Add the cornmeal to the bag and shake well to ensure all of the okra is coated. Let sit for 10 minutes, then shake again.
4. Using a mesh strainer or colander, scoop out okra and shake the colander in the bag to remove excess cornmeal, then place okra on baking sheet. Repeat until all okra is removed. Discard the remaining cornmeal and bag.
5. Spray the okra generously with cooking spray. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and crunchy.
6. Remove from the oven, add salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!

Adapted from Source: Disney Family provided by the American Heart Association


Friday, April 27, 2012

Nashville Bound!

Yes, you read that correctly! I'm en route to Nashville, Tennessee bright and early to run the Rock 'n' Rock Country Music Half Marathon with Christin! I'm beyond excited to be heading south for all of 36 hours for some fun, food, and running! I can't wait to hit the pavement hard with Christin! It still blows my mind that we've been friends for so long, signed up for the race (and I booked my flight) in January, and now it's finally here! Hopefully I'll be seeing pen pal Ashley cheering us on and see running speed demons Jocelyn and Emilia! Have a great weekend friends, and I'll see you when I'm back in Yankee territory!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

It's OK to Be Pumped Up!

Its Ok Thursdays

I'm linking up with Neely and Amber this week for "It's OK" Thursday! I felt like I needed a venting and justifying sessions, so let's begin...

It's OK... wish you could pause time. need a break from life after piling your plate so full that you burn out. try to keep the house tidy, but let the couch win. have three lists going right now that are overwhelming me:
25 Before 25, Writing Goals, 2012 Goals. be really excited about having tomorrow off! not be sure of what and how to pack for my very short trip. A girl needs options! be super pumped up that I'm finally meeting Christin in real life! be both nervous and excited about Saturday's race. Yes, I'm nervous even though I'm completely prepared for the run! already be sad that I won't get to come home to M on Saturday night.

What are you saying it's ok to today? Happy almost Friday, friends!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Palatable Pins

I apologize for my neglecting your link-up lately, Michelle! But I'm back today to share some of the recipes that I plan on testing out as part of my 25 Before 25 list. Let's share some of my "Oh How Pinteresting" pins. Ready to have your mouth water?
Oven-fried Okra
Source: Disney Family via Pinterest
Homemade Beef Jerky
Source: Homesick Texan via Pinterest
Zucchini Pasta
Source: New York Times via Pinterest
Spinach-Artichoke Dip Pasta
Source: Macaroni and Cheesecake via Pinterest
Source: Eat. Drink. Smile. via Pinterest

If those didn't make you hungry, then I don't know what will. Just looking at these photos is making my stomach growl. You can find me on Pinterest here!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Life with M: The Series

Read other parts of Life with M here and here.

While watching Modern Family and Phil references Claire being like a cop...
Me: Do you think I could be a police?
M: Nope.
Me: Why not?
M: Because you would be like, (said in a deep man voice) Pull Over! (then in a girly voice) Teehehe!

No explanation needed...


Monday, April 23, 2012

Meet and Greet: 2012

Can we just talk about all the fabulous bloggy friends I get to meet in 2012? Let's begin...

- I ran the  NYRR Al Gordon Classic 4M  race with Joceyln in February.
- Running RnR Country Music Half with Christin (!!!!) and get to meet my pen pal, Ashley!
- Bree (and Dylan) will be in NYC for a few days, so I'm hoping for some red velvet time with her.
- Then I'm taking a day, or maybe two, off to hang out with Neely, Meghan, and company in NYC
- A fantastical visit with famous Ruthie (and Jon) Hart! Double date here we come!
- Jessica will be in NYC in July, so hopefully we'll share a healthy meal, french macarons, and coffee.
- Last, but not least, my running Floridian friend, Christina, will be up this way in September.

If that's not a ton of blogging meet-ups, then I don't know what is! I'm so excited to connect with all these amazing people in real life. I'm hoping to be adding to this long list of blogging to real life friends. Have you met some of your blogging friends in real life? Did you connect? 

Friday, April 20, 2012

More/Fitness Half Marathon 2012

Remember on Sunday morning when M and I got up at the crack of dawn so I could voluntarily run 13.1 miles? Well, the race photos are up, which means some good entertainment and time for a recap!  To start, my pre-race routine may or may not have caused me to get violently ill post-race. Note to self: do not ever take 4 Advil before the race again. Eat your normal snack earlier. Do not drink flavored coconut water, just plain.

The first few miles I went out hard...too hard: 8:40, 8:41, and 8:20. After that, I stopped really focusing on my time because those hills got in my head and never left. It was hotter than I anticipated, and I drank water along the course, which I rarely do.

Flaring my nostrils...?

Oh, and I walked. Four times... (And they caught me on camera walking, and you won't be seeing those photos.) You do get to see this funny combination though...

Let's just say I cried big fat tears because I was laughing so hard at that "Before" photo. I guess I realized there was a camera and fixed my running form. Such a difference between the "miserable, T-rex armed" runner and the "I'm just casually running a half marathon" runner in the second photo.
Flying through the air! 
Overall, it was a fun race. I feel good about it, but not great. I'm not too sure if I'll run it again next year yet. I had a major personal record of 02:07:56, but I'm resting up and hoping to go sub-2 with Christin next weekend. Maybe I just needed to get those race jitters and the mental thing out of my head before actually racing with a friend.
Mostly, I think the race experience was tainted by how sick I got after the race. Because right now, I'm not thinking about how this was my first pain-free half marathon and that I had a major PR. I'm just reminded of how awful I felt afterwards. Oh well, sometimes a race isn't quite what we expect, but I'm excited to tackle my fourth in a week!
Yay for being finished!
P.S. I do realize that this is the exact same outfit that I wore for this race, but I like what I like!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

National Grilled Cheese Month

While you all have been probably eating healthier than me, I have been savoring the fact that April is "National Grilled Cheese Month!" Yes, you read that correctly. All those random tweets and instagram pics were part of my latest and greatest story for HooplaHa. So head on over for not one, but FOUR different grilled cheese recipes!

Recipes Clockwise, starting at the top left: 
"Classic," "Italian," "Jalapeño Cheddar," and "Brie Lover"


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Happy Birthday Blog!

A year ago today, I wrote my first blog post of Simple Girl, Simple Pleasures,
and there was no looking back.

My heart is literally bursting with joy with how much this blog has brought into my life. I didn't realize that I would develop such strong relationships with other bright and driven women all over this country, but here I am with lots of new friends. What began as a creative writing outlet has lead to building lasting friendships, setting personal and career goals,
then achieving them.

So today, happy birthday little blog of mine! You've brought me more joy than I could have imagined, and I can't wait to see what the next year has in store for us!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

#21 Start a tradition with M.

The idea for the tradition came to me even before I turned 24, but I can already cross something off my list. On the way to the gym one night, we were talking about how we were looking forward to our dinner date to celebrate my birthday at Elm Street Oyster House.

"Why not make going to a place that serves raw oysters and eating oysters on my birthday be a tradition?"

And that was that. I had my first taste of raw oysters on my 23rd birthday when M took me to Union Oyster House. Since that first taste, I've been hooked!

Now to recap that tasty dinner at Elm Street... to start, we ordered eight oysters...

Then onto our main courses, M ordered crab cakes...

While I got paella! I bet you wouldn't believe me that there's a HALF of a lobster under all of that rice, chorizo, mussels, and clams!

We were both pretty full so we skipped on dessert, but we'll definitely be heading back!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Another PR!

Pre-race stretching - Taken by the best boyfriend in the world, M
To say that I'm super happy today would be a lie. And to say that I'm pain-free would also be a lie. Yesterday, I ran the More/Fitness Magazine Women's Half Marathon in New York City and broke another personal record, beating my previous half marathon time by 6 minutes! I was the most prepared for this race of the two previous races I ran, but boy was it hotter than I imagined.

I plan on doing a full race recap later this week, but right now, I'm focusing on hydrating and recovering. You see, I got pretty violently ill after the race. I'll spare you the details, but let's say I showered and lay in bed the rest of the day before a dinner and movie date night with M.

Why am I so focused on the recovery? Because in ELEVEN DAYS I'm heading to Nashville to meet with my blog crush and one of my blogging besties, Christin. Way back when I started reading her blog, I never dreamed that she and I would become good friends.

You see, I also had a blog crush on her. I started reading her blog when she was in the planning stages of her beautiful and classic wedding. So when we decided to sign up for this race together, who would have thought that I'd be flying to a new city to run a half marathon with one of my blogging, soon-to-be real life, friends!

So when I didn't end up going sub-2 yesterday (missed that mark by almost 8 minutes), I wasn't as discouraged because Christin and I are going for the gold a.k.a. sub-2. I lacked encouragement yesterday. There were points in the race when I really needed someone, besides myself, saying "you can do this! Just keeping moving!"
But I got too inside my head...and walked more than I planned for.

Now it's time to prep, do lots of stretching, lots of yoga, and maybe some boot camp, to prepare my body for another 13.1 miles. But this time, I'll be running with a good friend, an encourager, and fellow runner! I can't wait, Christin!


Friday, April 13, 2012

Birthday Celebrations

To continue with the theme of birthday week, let's recap Friday night's celebrations with friends!
NH and I
The man who makes me the happiest girl in the world
M, me, LR, and NF
JS and I
The three A's 
SS and I
I wish that I had taken some more pictures (and there were a few more that I didn't post), but overall it was a great night for birthday celebrations. I'm so grateful for everyone in my life, especially those who made me feel special for my birthday!
If only my blog friends could have been there too!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Stop, Drop and Read!

Happy Thursday! Did you know that today is Drop Everything And Read Day? No? Well, go checkout HooplaHa for some ideas for what I think are happy reasons to drop what you're doing and read something! This is my second story for HooplaHa, and I appreciate all your support on my first story, "The Grateful Game."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Source: {long distance loving}
I'm being featured over at {av}'s blog today: {long distance loving}! So instead of dawdling around here, go read our short little story about dating long distance!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

25 Before 25 List

On Sunday, I turned 24. I'm one year away from being a quarter of a century years old. How cool is that? But as I sat down to write this, I started to wonder about what I've always envisioned myself doing or accomplishing by the time I turned 25. And my mind went blank.

I knew I wanted to be a good transition point in my career, working full-time. Check!
I knew I wanted to be living with the person that was the love of my life. Check!
I knew I wanted to be happy. Definitely check!

So what else do I want to accomplish? Here's what I've come up with. Some of these things are simple that I know I'll accomplish, others challenge me to do things I love,
but don't make the time for.
  1. Learn to bake french macarons.
  2. Learn to make croquettes.
  3. Make marinara sauce, from scratch using fresh tomatoes.
  4. Read Little Women.
  5. Run at least one half marathon.
  6. Run at least one 10k.
  7. Meet at least one new blog friend in real life.
  8. Cook/bake 25 recipes that I've pinned to my Pinterest board.
  9. Do one outfit post a month.
  10. Buy a new purse. 
  11. Take a writing course.
  12. Spend 24 hours without my iPhone (aka shut off). 
  13. Go to another Yankees/Red Sox game.
  14. Plan a fun activity or date for M and I once a month.
  15. Go on a vacation, even if just for a weekend.
  16. Sketch in my sketch book every day for a whole month.
  17. Go running, just because.
  18. Have a Taco Bell date night with M.
  19. Say no to something I don't want to do without feeling guilty.
  20. Go to church.
  21. Start a tradition with M.
  22. Submit 5 stories to Chicken Soup. 
  23. Take a Zumba class. 
  24. Fix something in the house. 
  25. Teach M something fun. 
  26. Make list of 26 before 26.

Monday, April 9, 2012

An Easter Birthday

When your birthday falls on Easter (and it's not the first time), you may have some low expectations. However, I had a great day. M and I woke up super early for 8 o'clock mass. His first time attending an Episcopal church. We then had breakfast at my parents, including spinach and Gruyere strata, bangers, and hot cross buns. I opened my gift and our Easter baskets, then M and I headed home for a long nap. 

I woke up with enough time to lay in bed while M put laundry in and made coffee. 
He brought me a very large mimosa to put a smile on my face. 

Then it was back to my parents' house for Easter dinner: 
ham, patatas bravas, salad, and asparagus. 

Dad made me a carrot cake from scratch with some divine French butter cream frosting. You'll be happy to know I blew out all the candles!

After dinner, M and I came home and enjoyed several drinks. We watched lots of TV, an episode of Game of Thrones, and ended the night snuggling and watching one of my all-time favorite movies: Newsies
a "Tiger Woods" - Corona mixed with dark rum
Why were we watching that movie? Because M got me the best gift ever! (This is not an exaggeration.) HE bought us tickets to see Newsies on Broadway! He's taking me on May 19th! I can't wait! Ever since I found out it was coming to Broadway, I haven't been able to shut up about it. Let's just say he did a good job of not ruining the surprise! 

Overall, it was a pretty simple, but great birthday! Thank you to everyone for the wonderful birthday wishes! I definitely felt extremely loved as I turned 24! And a special thank you to M, for always knowing how to put a smile on my face when I need it most!