as mentioned the other day, i pretty much played some serious catchup on sunday.  saturday however, knowing there was serious potential to be rained it, i chose to enjoy as much time as possible outside.  

my friend katie and i decided to spend the afternoon kayaking.  it was her first time- and i love taking our friends on new adventures.
we ventured out to baldwinsville, new york- known for lock 24 and a great resting spot along the erie canal.  we put in at a local park (that took us way too long to find) and after a rocky start...yours truly flipped the kayak getting into the water...we made our way to the lock.  

the lock systems are rather fascinating.  basically, along the erie canal, the water ways are actually at different levels.  in order to get from one level to the next, boats enter the lock and water is either drained or filled until you get to the necessary water level.  in the case of lock 24, as we paddled up the seneca river to the lock, we were greeted with these huge iron doors and as they opened, sounded like castle drawbridges being lowered over a moat.  we paddled into the massive lock (large enough to fit a small cruise ship) and grabbed one of the many algae-covered ropes hanging from the side.  

once the doors popped closed, water slowly seeped into the lock and over the course of fifteen minutes, the water raising water level (about a 50 foot difference) brought us to the top of seneca river in the village of baldwinsville.  we spent the next 30 minutes paddling and turned around to head home.  the weather was perfect: warm, calm and sunny.  we ended the paddle with milkshakes from a local diner.  i think it's safe to say...we had a great time.


30 years.

my parents met in high school and fell in love.  they dated through college and after they got married, they had four two little girls & moved from michigan to california with nothing more than a dream.  together they started building a little life and had two more little girls.  they sacrificed so much to make sure their babies went to the best schools, were involved in the right activities and had the opportunities to do amazing things. 

they surrounded us with music, art, mechanics, the outdoors, bike riding and tennis games.  we learned to play racquet ball on the outdoor courts and went on morning trips to home depot.  we went to fish markets and farmers markets.  learned to make floral arrangements and use our very best manners.  they gave us the ultimate childhood, bundles of love and so much more.

these dreams came with sacrifices.  there were hard times and long days.  but throughout the years, they stayed united and fought to build a better life for their little ladies and themselves.  now, 30 years later, they support one another and continue to follow their dreams and work toward their goals.  they have such a unique, honest & genuine love for one another.  it is my dream that over the next 30 years, that love continues to grow and continues to build upon this beautiful relationship.

a very happy anniversary to my mom & dad.  thanks for forever being amazing role models and proving to us over and over again, that love really does conquer all.
{a. with my mom & dad}


because of irene.

thanks to irene, today has become a day of chores & catchup.  i'm working on a few projects for work, researching a new venture that some friends and i are hoping to launch, cleaning, doing laundry (finally) and a bit of movie watching.  now if only my life could be captured as beautifully.  

all images via pintrest


my personal art gallery.

remember this post when i mentioned i'd share with you my wall diy?  well, wait no more!  

a few weeks ago i decided to give our entryway an overhaul.  after a bit of pin-spiration and a trip to the christmas tree shop for some mega-cheapo frames, i poured myself a glass of iced tea and grabbed a hammer. 
determined not to put unnecessary holes in the wall, i chose to move forward with this method.  granted, it would have been so much easier with two people, but after measuring and cutting and leveling and hanging, it only took about 2 hours.  i decided to leave a few empty places for some local art pieces and an "r" i picked up at t.j.maxx.
after spending most of my saturday taping paper, hammering nails, hanging frames and filing empty frames, i ended up with this...
i love how it turned out!  as you can probably tell, i still have a few more frames to purchase and put on the wall, but all-in-all, it's done.  i'm still working to find some new artwork and have yet to sort through our photos to fill the empty frames.  it's slowly getting there and everyday, it's one of my favorite reminders i'm home.


cinnamon-sugar pull apart bread.

i made bread.  legit, yeast and flour, let it rise, patience required, bread.  and what an awesome thing it was!
inspired by this recipe, i finally decided to give bread-making a try.  i modified it a bit, using whole-wheat flour and since i ruined my first batch of butter (i swear, i'm the only person capable of burning butter), egg whites to keep the cinnamon and sugar on the dough.  

all-in-all, it was amazing.  highly-recommended-eat-it-all-in-one-sitting-good.  

and on bread-making?  i'm hooked.


girl of steel.

because that sounds so much better than girl of iron.  but you get my drift.
it's official...i'm an iron girl!  two years ago i trained for my very first triathlon and was hooked the minute i crossed the starting line.  this year, as anxious as i was (gotta love those pre-race jitters), i had an equally amazing time.  

the iron girl is such a unique race as it's geared toward women.  i love the camaraderie of an all-women event: so inspiring and joyful.  women cheer one another on as they pass (or are passed) each other during the different legs (okay, maybe not the swimming portion).  & every woman who races has their own story to tell.  one woman lost 100 pounds while training, others were trying to be good role models to their kids, some wanted to challenge themselves to do something they never dreamed they could finish & others were proving to the world, cancer was no match for them.  it was awesome.

as for me, i love to tri.  pure and simple.  it's also a great way for me to relive my stress while staying healthy (and maintain my ice cream addiction).   i've never trained as hard as i had for my 2009 triathlon.  while i noticed my lack of training in this race, i still had a ton of fun and went in with two goals: to beat my 2009 time and race under 2 hours.  i did both.  my final time for this race was 1:56:49 down from my 2009 time of: 2:07:16.  and that feels good.  i'm proud of myself and i feel strong.  strong as iron.
*all photos, compliments of Gump.  Thanks for the support cheering squad!


what's in your bag?

see all this stuff?  it's everything from my race bag.  good stuff.  my favorite is always the food and shirts (i'm pretty predicable)- but they also included some free music downloads and hair ties that i'm drooling over.  what are your favorite race day goodies?

today is the day.  my first triathlon of the season!  i'm super excited and can't wait to join the masses of women at the transition area this morning.  it's always so inspiring.  i'm a bit nervous- not that i won't finish, but that i didn't train hard enough, and more than anything, i want to beat my 2009 time.  regardless, i'm racing with friends and have fans gathering at the finish line to route me on...so it's going to be awesome no matter what.  wish me luck!


40 days.

it's happening. it's happening.  after 10 very long months, a. is coming home.  in forty days!  the anticipation of it's killing me.  after our trip to costa rica, i figured the rest of the time would fly by- after all, it's summertime and work really picks up for me.  

and i was right, time has flown, but honestly, it wasn't as easy as i had hoped.  it's like waiting for christmas morning: you're filled with anticipation, excitement and joy, and the night seems to take forever & you wonder if time has stopped- will santa ever arrive?  now we're waiting for our christmas in september and time has reached a low crawl.  but if there's one thing you can always count on, it's time.  it will always come- and there's no stopping it.  

with time comes change, and with a. comes autumn.  over these last few weeks of summer, i'm going to do my very best to enjoy this time alone.  i've reached a point where i'm done being alone.  doing things solo.  being an i instead of a we.  and in forty days, all that will change.  so, while i anxiously await his homecoming, i'm going to embrace these last few challenges knowing this will be the last time, in a long time, that a deployment will pull us away from one another.


goodbye july, hello august.

dear july, where did you go?  doesn't it feel like july just started? to honor our too-short summer and a most fabulous month, here's what july felt like for me.
*spent the 4th of july hiking in letchworth with amazing friends and my furry little pup.  while i didn't see fireworks, i did see plenty of raging waterfalls and beautiful sights.
*a backyard unveiling, complete with a barbecue (sausage for the meat-eaters), boxed margaritas and a bit of hot tub acrobats.
*pool days and sunshine.
*long, stressful days at work.  our office is seriously short staffed and very disorganized.  hence why monday-friday is very long and very stressful.  some how though, we manage to have a good time.
*running club started.  and i'm officially not running as often as i should be.
*brewfest in vermont and a trip to ben & jerry's.  loved the hippie-fest on the lake so much, that i'm already making plans to visit in the fall.
*was so inspired by the local breweries with fantastic beer- and decided to attempt batch numero dos of a homemade brew (remember our first, successful batch?)
*i started a trx class.  i'm obsessed and seriously wondering if i could actually be an instructor one day.  
*paddle boarding and drive-in movies- resulting in a beautiful day on the lake with friends & a 4am night cap.
*i started an improv class.  main goal: to improve my public speaking.  secondary goal: to spend one night a week laughing my butt off.
*office nightmare.  after a fantastic weekend, we walked into ankle deep water and a "raining ceiling."  needless-to-say, we've been working from home while the place is under construction.
*speaking of which, i've realized i have a love/hate relationship with working from home.  i love being home, being able to make lunch, sitting in the space i worked so hard to make but on the other hand,  i hate not being around my coworkers & have no excuse to walk to starbucks or grab lunch.
 *i decided to re-decorate the hallway (i'll share some more with you later).  but i'm loving the outcome and ferociously planning more ideas for the rest of the house.
*my garden is exploding & i can't wait to start enjoying the fruits of my labor.

whoa.  i knew it was a busy month, but man- i actually managed to pack quite a bit in.  august is looking equally as crazy.  some good news, a. will be home in september (!!!)- so now in addition to everything on my plate, i'll be squeezing in some nesting & getting ready for his return.  i'm really looking forward to these next couple months!