The sweetest place on earth

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Hi friends!

Hello hello hello from the sweetest place on earth, Hershey Pennsylvania!

We’re here on our last pre-baby trip – it’s hard to believe that the next time we take a trip we’ll have another little person in tow πŸ™‚

The drive down to Hershey was quite pleasant – the weather was perfect and we didn’t hit any major traffic issues over the 4 ish hour drive. Being the engineer that he is, Joel’s favorite part was seeing the progress that has been made on the new Tappan Zee Bridge. The new bridge is the taller white section (the old bridge is shorter and on the left). It is constructed in the same style as a bridge in southeast Houston that Joel would drive over every day on his way to work.

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The town of Hershey really lives up to its name! The roads bear names like Cocoa Avenue, Goodbar Court, Chocolate Ave, and Sweetbay Way. Even the street lamps were in the shape of chocolate kisses — this really is the sweetest place on earth πŸ™‚ The hotel gave us Hershey chocolate bars when we checked in, which made for a lovely welcome. Check out this gorgeous 4-way fireplace in the lobby. There’s nothing like a cackling fire to bump up the cozy level a few notches.

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We explored the area a little bit and hung out for a couple hours before grabbing dinner at the Hershey Grill. They brought out a some chocolate-flavored butter to go with our bread, which we thought it was very “Hershey” hah! Although the chocolate butter tasted good, we agreed that we prefer regular butter for bread.

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I went with chicken, cranberry rice, and mixed vegetables for my meal. When the food first came out I thought there were potatoes in the mix, but they turned out to be parsnips. I can’t remember the last time I had parsnips — they were yummy!

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After dinner we roamed around a bit and found a cute little gift shop. These chocolatey-flavored honey jars looked rather intriguing. We didn’t end up buying any but I am sure any of these flavors would be delicious on a piece of toast or drizzled over granola and yogurt!

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The fire looked seriously inviting so we parked ourselves in a couple comfortable armchairs to enjoy it. This was a gas fireplace, which I appreciated. While for outside nothing beats a wood fire, I love a gas fire for indoors. You get all of the warm cozy ambiance without any of that stale campfire smell seeping into your furniture/carpet. Win win. πŸ™‚

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We picked up a pack of Hershey cards at the gift shop and put them to good use playing a few rounds of blackjack. One of our annual traditions is to get a new game every Christmas, something we did not do last Christmas, so these cards count towards our yearly tradition πŸ™‚

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The following day dawned bright and early with watermelon for breakfast for yours truly. Side note: Joel cut up an entire watermelon for me before we left Connecticut, and we brought with us in a cooler –> what a guy! Our hotel fridge is stuffed with juicy watermelon and I am extremely happy that my pregnancy craving will be satisfied πŸ™‚

Joel had a meeting to go to, so while he was out I caught up on work for a bit. The day was way too beautiful to spend all of it indoors so I found a spot outside to sit and get some quality reading in. I made it halfway through The German Girl (here!) — I’m thoroughly enjoying the writing style and find myself genuinely intrigued by the characters and the story.

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While I was sitting outside, the sky suddenly went from clear to dark, and a Severe Weather Alert beeped on my phone –> TORNADO warning! The beautiful day abruptly turned into a pretty crazy situation and sent everyone scurrying back indoors. The wind and rain that pummeled the area was nuts!

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Joel was still in his meeting when the tornado warning happened, and he texted me to go inside and stay away from windows. Eek! He suggested hanging out in the lobby, which sounded good to me, so I headed over to continue reading my book by the fire while the wind howled outside.

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While hanging out by the fire, I grabbed a hot chocolate. In the process, I discovered something pretty major…

I have officially reached a very important pregnancy milestone –> TABLE BELLY! πŸ™‚ I may or may not have sent this photo to my family and friends πŸ™‚

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Later that evening, we decided to get dinner at The Forebay, quite the fancy lil spot. Everything looked decidedly lux and the atmosphere felt nice and relaxed.

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Our server brought some salted breadsticks and a mustardy dip to our table to start out. Joel also opted for their soup of the day, which was a red pepper bisque topped with duck confit.

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He also got the mussels appetizer. I thought about trying one but couldn’t quite “get there”. Are you a mussels fan? Joel loves them but I just can’t get on board…

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He got a pork chop with creamed spinach for his meal, and I went with salmon for mine. I enjoyed the salmon, asparagus, and turnips but was not impressed by the orangey sauce underneath. I also didn’t particularly love the very odd mashed potatoes (they seemed strangely translucent and plasticky?). I ate pretty much everything except the mashed potatoes but I gotta say I was slightly disappointed, especially considering how pricey everything was –> overall I give this dish a 3/10.

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Joel closed out his meal with a coffee and a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. I don’t know how he can drink coffee at dinner time, I would be awake all night. I was way too full to indulge in dessert, but if I could fit anything else in my stomach I would have gone with something chocolatey (we are in Chocolate Town, after all!) like the molten lava cake… πŸ™‚

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We hung out playing Rummy for a while before calling it a night. The last time I played Rummy was my birthday weekend back in January. I sure do love a good game of Rummy. πŸ™‚

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Have you ever visited Hershey? Are you a fan of mussels? Do you get tornadoes where you live?

*This content uses referral links. Read my disclosure policy for more info.

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Our Indianapolis excursion

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Hi friends!

We’re back in the Northeast and recovering from our Indianapolis excursion. It sure was a fun change of scenery, even if it means feeling like I need an extra day of rest to get back into the groove.

If you didn’t see my last post about the first part of the trip, it is HERE πŸ™‚ and now let’s recap the rest of the trip!

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My friends Terril and Erin (they both lived in Indianapolis) suggested that we check out the Broad Ripple area for its trendy vibes and good food, so we did exactly that! We debated a French place versus Thai, and the Thai place won when we found a primo parking spot right in front of it.

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I could hear the salmon and veggies calling my name. I would 100% go back for this dish again. It hit the spot! After dinner we walked around the Broad Ripple area and saw lots of cool restaurants and bars –> we made mental notes to go back to Broad Ripple the next time we are in Indy.

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Hotel bump shot. Fun fact: I found this super comfortable shirt while out shopping with Natasha. The fabric is ridiculously soft and makes me wish all my clothing was made from the same material.

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Not sure how much longer I’ll be able to see these toes of mine πŸ™‚

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After a full day of walking around exploring all the city had to offer, we headed to Upland Brewing Co for dinner.

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I am not normally a pork chop kind of gal but the apples and asparagus that came with it sounded like an enticing combo. It was an “ok” meal –> I can’t say I was particularly wow’d, but at least I tried something new to me.

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In our explorations of Indy, we happened upon this bar on wheels. I have seen one of these rolling through the streets of New Haven –> the people on it always look like they’re having an absolute blast. I wonder how much of a workout it is, and how difficult it is to pedal (whilst drinking) when there are only a few people on board?

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One of the places that was recommended to us was the Bazbeaux pizza place πŸ™‚

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We ordered a small margharita pizza with pineapple and spinach added, and a small “Roma” pizza with artichoke hearts added. I was a fan of the margharita, probably because it came without tomato sauce and had my all-time favorite pizza topping on it: pineapple! We only managed to eat our way through a quarter of each pizza, so the rest was stored in the hotel room fridge.

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A siesta happened for Joel. He is a much better napper than me –> if I nap, it ruins my night sleep, so I tend to avoid naps whenever possible.

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We then relaxed by the fire. The hotel has an awesome firepit, and since the temps cooled off in the evening, it felt great to sit by a nice warm fire.

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I can’t wait to replicate this scene in our backyard in Connecticut. Nothing beats a relaxing fire on the patio.

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More fireside snoozing for Joel πŸ™‚

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The trees in Indy are showing signs of spring a little quicker than our trees in Connecticut. I can’t wait for all the spring blooms to overtake our back yard!

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Not sure what was going on with the weather or the heater –> when we went to sleep the room was a comfortable temperature, but around 4am we both woke up SWEATING. The room felt so hot and stifling. Even after blasting the AC and getting the room back to a good temp, neither of us could go back to sleep. Joel decided to use the time wisely by getting some early morning work done.

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While he was busy being productive, I ordered breakfast –> a slightly depressing looking omelet with mushroom and spinach on the inside. It tasted a lot better than it looks πŸ™‚

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We swung into a Meijer real quick and wowiee, we need to get one of these stores in CT. Meijer is like if Target and your favorite grocery store had a love child. All the cool home stuff plus all the produce/food you could ever need.

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While checking out more of Indy, we came upon this vintage McDonalds. Apparently this is what the original McD’s used to look like with the two arches. Do you have one of these near you?

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All that exploring, the random early morning due to a hot room, and a few late nights meant we were pretty tuckered out by the end of the day. Rather than go out for dinner, we opted to eat at the hotel and turn in early. Dinner consisted of this plate of perfection: salmon, asparagus, and zuccini for the win.

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It’s amazing what a full night’s rest can do! We felt totally refreshed and ready to soak in our last day in Indiana. It was slightly drizzly and a little cold, which felt very different from the warm sunny days earlier in the week, but that didn’t stop us from getting out and about. The engineer in Joel is fascinated by all the ethanol fuel stations in the area. Drivers of ethanol vehicles definitely don’t have any trouble finding places to tank up in Indy!

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Lunch happened late in the afternoon and involved Bubs Burgers, another spot that came highly recommended to us by friends. I’m sure this is a super cute place to eat in the summer when it’s nice and warm, and we can take advantage of the outdoor seating.

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We both ordered elk burgers instead of beef –> our first time trying elk! It is leaner than beef and has a slightly different taste. Joel thought it tasted more like a turkey burger. I could tell the difference but it was similar enough to beef (to me) that I’m not sure that I would be able to taste a difference if I didn’t already know it wasn’t beef.

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We had a bit of extra time before our flight, so we moseyed at a relaxed pace through Indy on the way to the airport.

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Our first flight was uneventful, but our layover was longer than expected due to our second flight getting delayed. We grabbed some eats at the BWI airport –> hummus, carrots, and pita. Turns out airport carrots are super dry but it made for some fairly decent grub.

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We finally made it home around 2am and although we weren’t pumped to see snow, it sure felt good to be back in our own bed again.

What is your ideal temperature for your house? Is your city accommodating to ethanol and other non-gasoline cars? What did you do over the weekend?Β  Β  Β  Β  Β 

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Hello from Indy!

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Hi friends!

Hello from Indiana! We are here for a few days, but before we discuss Indy, let’s first back up to the past couple days πŸ™‚

These little balls of goodness are still making my day over here. A friend suggested putting grapes into the freezer, so that may have to be added to the to-do list –> have you tried frozen grapes? I’m not sure what to expect but I am certainly intrigued!

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Joel’s very big bowl of Sopa de Mariscos (shrimp, scallops, and tuna in a spicy broth with cilantro and onion). I’m not the biggest fan of shrimp or scallops… shrimp is one of those things I’ll eat if that’s the only thing available, but it’s not my primary go-to –> so I passed on the soup, but he very much enjoyed it.

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One of our friends works at Deep River, and he once brought over a ton of chips to a party –> that is how we first got introduced to these chips, and we can confirm: they are pretty great! Joel’s favorite flavor is jalapeno. I picked up a bag for him at our local deli.

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Anyone else an enormous fan of clementines? They are so so good, and I love that they are so easy to peel. It’s impossible to stop after having just one πŸ™‚ I feel like I regularly eat 3 or 4 at a time. Fun fact: I used to think clementines and tangerines were the same thing. They are not. Clementines > tangerines.

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Before leaving for Indiana, we had a couple meals comprising leftovers in efforts to use up random foods in our fridge. It sure feels great to not to waste or throw out perfectly good food.

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Bacon may not seem like a traditional taco ingredient, but you guys know that doesn’t stop Joel. He is quite the experimenter when it comes culinary combinations.

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Another meal aimed at using up leftovers: rice, scrambled egg, cheddar cheese, and grilled chicken, cooked in coconut oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. It turned out to be one of those “beige” meals that tasted far better than it looks πŸ™‚

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There’s nothing like getting into a pair of compression socks at 3am in preparation for a flight. My compression socks served me well during marathon training, but have since been sitting unloved in my dresser. It’s nice to put them to good use once again. I’m happy to report that this preggo gal did not have any lower-extremity swelling from the flight!

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Joel got me a pre-board pass so that I could be sure to secure an isle seat on the plane. This made it easier on me when I inevitably had to get up to use the bathroom, and it was also super handy for taking a quick walk when the ol’ legs felt restless. Side note: who knew restless leg syndrome was a pregnancy thing? I don’t get it often but when it strikes, it is not fun. I suppose I should thank my lucky stars that I haven’t had any of the dreaded leg-cramping at night –> my sister had those during her pregnancy, and she said they are the worst!

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We touched down in Indianapolis after a smooth trip. I suppose we should enjoy traveling just the two of us since those days are surely numbered! πŸ™‚ We decided that instead of doing one big babymoon, we’d do multiple smaller trips. So far we’ve hit NYC and Indy, and we have plans to head to DC, PA, and possibly Montreal too!

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Joel is an expert traveler and got us into our rental car in no time. Did I ever tell you guys about the time I was in North Carolina for work, and the rental car company ran out of regular cars so I got upgraded for free to a cherry red mustang? That was quite the fun ride πŸ™‚

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If I wasn’t currently pregnant I probably would have indulged in a glass of wine at the hotel.

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Instead, I stuck with the ice cold lemon/lime infused water. I can’t think of anything more refreshing after getting off a plane!

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This gorgeous fiddle leaf fig in the hotel lobby puts mine to shame. It is so full and glorious. I sure wish mine would plump up too, but I’m pretty sure the air at home is too cold and dry during the winter for that. I’m just glad my fiddle hasn’t called it quits yet! πŸ™‚

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A late lunch happened at Bru Burger. This is a spot that came highly recommended by a couple friends, and boy were they right πŸ™‚

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We were not disappointed! Joel’s lunch consisted of the classic Bru Burger, which came with taleggio cheese, bacon, tomato jam, caramelized onions, spring mix (he substituted this instead of chopped lettuce) and mayo. Now that’s a pretty goodlookin burger.

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After lunch we went for a nice walk to enjoy the lovely sunshine and explore some of the local sights. We came across a cool little ice cream parlor that makes the ice cream (and whatever mix-in’s you choose) right in front of you using nitrogen. I don’t know how his hands aren’t frozen!

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We split some coffee flavored ice cream –> it surely had quite the smooth and silky texture, yum! I wouldn’t mind going back for other flavor combinations the next time we are in Indy. This ice cream fueled out afternoon walking perfectly.

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Joel took some time in the evening to catch up on work and prepare for a big meeting while I got all caught up on emails.

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He felt like Japanese food for dinner so we looked up a few spots. We drove past one place, but their menu mostly included ramen (which we do love, but Joel was specifically in the mood for sushi), so we instead headed over to Naked Tchopstix.

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I briefly thought about ordering a cooked roll, but decided I was not all that hungry (the burger from lunch kept me full for the longest time!), so I stuck with a seaweed salad. It was exactly what I was hoping for, and I thoroughly enjoyed every bite. Joel’s choice of a “Sushi Set” was undeniably stellar –> it came with a spicy salmon roll, and one of each nagiri piece: crab, yellow tail, tuna, salmon, shrimp, eel, egg, and red snapper. Yup, I cannot wait for my first post-baby spicy salmon roll!

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What are your recommendations for places to check out in Indianapolis? Have you ever had frozen grapes? What do you have going on in your week so far?Β  Β  Β  Β  Β 

*This content uses referral links. Read my disclosure policy for more info.

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The very best things in life!

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Hi friends!

I hope your thanksgiving week is off to an amazing start!Β In the spirit of thanksgiving, I thought it would be the perfect time to discuss some things I am thankful for!

Joel

Of course I have to start with this guy! I am so very thankful for him. We met in college (many moons ago!), were friends for a year, then dated for 4 years before getting married. 10 years into marriage, I am STILL thankful that he is the person I am “doing life” with.

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Friends

I cannot express how thankful I am to have such incredible people in my life. Whether the friendships were formed waaay back in childhood or more recently, I am ridiculously blessed to know such wonderful people. I just wish we all lived closer, instead of being spread out across the country and globe! Thank goodness for things like WhatsApp and Gchat which make keeping in touch easier. But my secret plan in life is to somehow gather up all my friends so that we can live in the same city one day…

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Book club

I started a book club with several good friends, and it has been such FUN! I am super thankful that I have friends who love to read as much as I do! It is such a great time getting together, discussing books/reading, and catching up! I so appreciate all the ladies in the book club, and am excited to keep reading #allthebooks. We have a major list of books that we are working our way through (and always adding to!). Sometimes a conversation over wine and snacks is exactly what you need at the end of a long day. Our next book is Water for Elephants by Sara GruenΒ — I just received it in the mail yesterday and am excited to dive in!

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Family

I love my family! And I’m so thankful for them. I come from a big huge ginormous family — 9 kids! Yup, there are a lot of us. Family get-togethers are always pretty crazy in the best way possible. Now that most of us are married, and several of my siblings have multiple kiddos, the family is ever growing! It is such fun to hang out with my fam – there’s just something about people who “GET”, I mean they have known you for your entire life, and somehow still manage to love you! A lot of my family live in other parts of the world (Kenya, South Africa, Netherlands, parts of Asia, Australia, etc) so we don’t often get the chance to be together. Luckily for me, I have a brother who lives just a couple hours away in NYC, so we get to see him and his wife fairly often. I wish I could round everyone up and transport them to Connecticut stat!

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Small group

We started hosting a small group (same thing as a bible study group) through our church earlier this year, and we seriously LOVE it! I’m thankful for each person in our group. They are a pretty stellar bunch! We get together at our house every week. It has truly become one of my favorite parts of the week. Sometimes the best thing is a mid-week get-together with special friends! Relatedly, I am also extremely thankful for our church, City ChurchΒ in New Haven.Β  The vibe of the church actually reminds me a lot of our church in Houston (Sagemont) which is probably why we felt quite at home since the very beginning!

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Running

This goes without saying, but I’ll go ahead and say it anyway — I am so thankful for RUNNING! I started running way back in college as a way of keeping fit since I was no long involved in sports every day the way I was in high school. I didn’t love running back then, it was just a way to stay in shape. But somewhere along the years, I discovered the magic of running. Over the years I have cycled through bouts of heavy training and light (or zero) training. But I always come back to running. I can honestly say that I feel my best when I am training consistently. I’m thankful to have found in running an outlet for stress. It is one of the ways I cope with anxiety. I’m also thankful for all the ways running is “there” for me, like never failing to give me a sense of accomplishment (even the bad runs)!

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Travel

I am thankful that we have had the opportunity to travel. We aren’t major globe-trotters (we have only taken a few overseas trips since getting married), but we hugely appreciate the travel we have gotten to do so far. One of my favorite trips was to the Grand Canyon. We were in Phoenix for a couple days for a work conference, and decided to take the drive up to the Grand Canyon and back — in the same day. It was a long drive (4 hours if I remember correctly), and the adventure was such fun! We left Phoenix at around 4am and returned that night totally exhausted. It was worth it though! The Canyon is absolutely breathtaking! Since we only got to spend a few hours there, we didn’t get a chance to do as much as we would have liked. But we did get to go on a cool tour, do lots of walking, and see the canyon from various perspectives. One day we would like to go back and do some hiking down into the canyon!

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Relaxation

What can I say, I love me some down time. I am thankful for all the times that we have been able to kick back and enjoy a relaxed moment. Joel and I appreciate a good low key day where we can just be still. Sometimes life gets so busy and it’s easy to forget to slow down. The still moments can be the most beautiful moments. I am thankful that we have had opportunities to take breaks from all the anxiety and stress of life.

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What are you thankful for today? Got some fun things planned for the week? What’s your favorite thanksgiving dish?Β 

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