Friday, December 17, 2010

NYC State of Mind

Hello my fellow bloggers - I'm alive! I've been on a little hiatus, which involves getting sick and going on a wonderful vacation to D.C. and NYC!

I spent a day in D.C. with my dear friend, Andrea, and then we took a bus to NYC, where I stayed for a few days. I would like to take this moment to apologize to Andrea for being sick on the trip - I know that's out of my control - but I still felt bad. That's not fun for anyone. No one wants to start dry heaving on the bus or during cab rides because of extreme nausea. It was a horrible feeling. But I digress because I'm better now. She took great care of me!

Andrea and me.

I'm going to do a few posts about my trip but I wanted to tell you all quickly about a really special part about it... When I said that just I stayed in NYC for a few days, it's because I spent 48 hours alone there. Now that might not seem like much but for me, it was huge. I've flown alone multiple times but never stayed somewhere alone. Andrea had to head back early for work but I didn't want to leave NYC without spending a few days there and getting the most out of my trip.

So when I was sadly seeing Andrea off, I admit I was panicked. I was about to be alone in this huge city, filled with strangers, and I was freaked out. But I put on a brave face. I went shopping, I went to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, I ate alone at a sit-down restaurant (first time) - and guess what? It was all flippin' fantastic. I felt like a whole new person. I was content being with me. Of course, I prefer vacations with a friend or loved one, but now I KNOW 100 percent that I'm okay on my own.

I went into this experience, excited. When I was about to be alone, I considered myself nuts. And I came out of it, braver, stronger and reassured that I am an independent woman. And for that, I am thankful.

More pics to come!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

My Little Man

I went to New Orleans over Thanksgiving to visit my brother, his significant other, Jocelyn, and my little man, my nephew - John. I only get to see John about twice a year, and that's really difficult (for me). I always cry when I say goodbye to him because I don't know when I will see him next.

John's such a doll - he's always smiling and let me tell you - he has the sweetest smile. I can tell he's going to grow up to be a gentle, kind man. Just like my big brother. John looks just like his daddy, too!

Here's a few pictures of my favorite guy:

He loved my phone - he liked scratching the cover and pressing the button to light it up and look at his cousin "Becca."

Sweetest guy around.

What a face!

Cute family! John's pointing to Aunt Rachel. Yay!

I miss them! Hopefully I can get back there by summer!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Winter Foes

It happened yesterday. Temperatures dropped below 30 degrees. The coat was pulled from the closet. Gloves donned. Breath was visible in the air.

I knew it was coming; although I had been dreading it… for a multitude of reasons. Winter brings unwelcome changes, such as…

Cracked skin
Poor hands - they’re pink, dry, cracked and in pain. Washing my hands (and I do this often) really does a number on them. I try to use Aveda’s Hand Relief lotion a few times a day.

Driving on ice
I grew up in Texas and we didn’t have much snow or ice. So every year I have a “slight” panic attack when it snows and try to plot the best way to work that involves the least amount of hills.

Dry skin
Cold temperatures also cause some drama with my face, specifically near my eyebrows. I’ve been using Ponds dry skin cream and that helps.

Running in the cold
I’m now training for a 10K and I can’t let the cold slow me down. Last night was my first cold run and let me tell you: brrr! But I think I’ll be “brrring” for the next couple of months.

Just being itchy
Something about winter makes me itch. My head itches, my legs itch. Maybe it has something to do with wearing bulky clothing and having dry skin. Either way – isn’t it annoying?

Can you tell that I don't like winter? I'll admit it has at least one perk: wearing skinny jeans and tall boots or leggings and a dress. Oh, and cute scarfs and coats. Okay, there are a few good things about winter.

What are your winter foes?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Random: Thanksgiving Wish and KC Trip

First, let me start by wishing you all a very blessed, happy and bountiful Thanksgiving. Wherever you are, I hope you are content.

Days like today reminds me of those who live in shelters or on the streets. I work at a nonprofit with a homeless shelter for teens and my heart breaks for the youth there today. But luckily they are not alone and surrounded by adults who care about them. I wish it could be that way for everyone.

I'm thankful that I get the chance to give back on Christmas Day when my dad and stepmom and I will serve meals at The Salvation Army. I couldn't think of a better way to spend Christmas.

I could talk about this topic for awhile so I'll move on to a different rambling...

I went to Kansas City last week for database training for work. A co-worker was with me and we got to do a little sight-seeing (shopping) on one night. Unfortunately I didn't get to take any pictures because it was raining and I wasn't about to bring my baby (camera) out in the rain.

But on our way to the airport, we stopped in Parkville, Kan. to shop and look around. We spotted a beautiful building on a hill, and I had to take a picture of it. It's called Mackay Hall at Park University. So I wanted to share the ONE picture I shot on my short Kansas trip because it's such a lovely building. And if you know me well, that's hard for me to say that I only took one photo. :)


Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Germs are not my friend

Disclaimer: I realize this post makes me sound like a nut job.

Welcome to part two of What's Your Quirk?

About 2 months ago, I posted about my No. 1 archenemy: germs. I listed five things that give this germaphobe the heebie jeebies. I thought it was time to add on to the list.

1. Sink faucets

Oh, sink faucets. You make me cringe. I don’t even like my sink faucet at home. I especially hate public ones. Someone who just went to the bathroom touched it. And you have to touch it. Then you have to turn it off after you just washed up. Isn’t it horrible when there are no paper towels to turn off that faucet? I love when a bathroom is all automatic.

2. Money

I can’t stand touching money. That night explain why I rarely have cash on me. Imagine where that dollar bill has been! It’s been touched by who knows how many people, been stuffed who knows where, dropped on the ground, sneezed on, sweated on, etc. Yuck!

3. Office keyboards

Is it just me or do keyboards and mice that belong to coworkers feel greasy? I can’t wait to wash my hands after I touch someone’s keyboard. I can’t stop thinking about the germs on my hands afterward. Yes, I have a problem. I'm the first to admit it.

4. Steering wheels

I can’t imagine how many germs are crawling on steering wheels. After you go to a store and are forced to touch a door handle or hold your phone or hand off money at a drive-thru, you touch that steering wheel. There is lots of germ transfer through that thing. Nasty.

5. Phones

I have a hard time using people’s cell phones; particularly touch phone screens like iPhones. Luckily that doesn’t need to happen often. I need to figure out a safer way to clean my own phone. I’m germy, too, you know!

What are some other germy things you can’t stand to touch?

P.S. I hope you all have a VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Route 66 Bliss

Today was a very important day for me. I ran my longest race to date at the Route 66 Marathon relay. But the distance wasn't the most important part about the race - it was why I was doing it. I want to share with you why today was so special.

At my last job, I worked with a wonderful man named Randy. He had a sunny personality, greeting everyone with a big smile and slap on the back or a "Hidey ho!" Everyone had something nice to say about him.

Randy was a marathon runner. Earlier this year when I started running, he would always encourage me and ask how it was going. I felt silly feeling proud of the 1 mile I ran compared to the 26+ that he could run, but he always treated it like a great accomplishment.

Running marathons wasn't Randy's biggest fight. He passed away on Sept. 27, 2010, from melanoma. After he was diagnosed and started treatment, we watched the weight fall off of him. Even though you could see in his body the arduous fight he was going through, you'd never know it when you spoke with him. He was so inspiring, so encouraging, so strong; still always smiling, still asking about you when you wanted to talk about him.

D.C. trip with co-workers

When Randy lost his battle to melanoma, I was asked to participate in the marathon relay in honor of him. I accepted in a heartbeat, although the distance (more than I had ever run) daunted me. But I had to do it for Randy, for everything he went through. Today during the race, I started to feel tired and I took the time to take a short walking break and talk to Randy. I asked him to run with me because I needed a piece of his massive strength. After I had the talk, I started running again and I hit my stride - I felt great. It was the best race I've done and I surprised myself with my time.

Randy kept me going today.

That one was for you, Randy. I miss you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I Heart Photos

Now that my photography class is done - I thought I'd post a few pictures from the class. It was a great learning experience for me. I wanted to learn how to use the manual mode in my camera. I still have a lot to learn (and understand).... but it's been fun practicing!

For our final assignment, they sent us on a scavenger hunt... hence the random photos below. Here's a few from the project.

American flag

Tall buildings

Moving water


Now on to the next photo adventure!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Adventures in Cooking Part 1: Guacamole Disaster

The title says it all. Guacamole = disaster. And I don't think it was the recipe's fault. It was all me. In case you're wondering why I'm talking about guacamole - see Attempt at Healthy Eating.

I "halved" the recipe (which by my standards doesn't mean I actually used measuring cups. Mistake No. 1.)

I had to look up the correct way to chop an avocado. (Don't laugh! I wanted to do it right.) I mashed the avocado, chopped the onion and tomato and added garlic powder and lime juice to the mix. Just like the recipe, except..... the exact amounts of each ingredient it called for.

The end result, albeit it looked good, tasted awful. Too much lime. Too oniony. SUPER gross.

This lime juice was no bueno.

Don't trust this guacamole.

I hope take two goes better for this newbie.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Attempt at Healthy Eating

I recently joined a weekly organic co-op; mainly to start changing my eating habits. And because I don't really trust the meat and produce at the grocery store.

I'm not much of a cook, and I'm embarrassed to admit that I don't know what some cooking terms mean... like dicing. But I bookmarked a website to teach me... and now I know to dice means to cube. ;)

Luckily being a part of the co-op will force me to cook more. It's helpful because they send out recipes featuring that week's meat and produce. Perfect because I don't quite know what to do with eggplant or a green tomato. I'm one who's always found it easier to make a box of macaroni and cheese rather than try to follow a recipe and cook something up. Hopefully joining this co-op will change that.

I'm going to start off with something "easy" and make a tiny batch of guacamole with my lovely organic avocado. I'm not a big meat eater so I'll have to think of what to do with that sirloin steak.

This week's share:

Yum! What's your favorite part about cooking? Any tips for a newbie?

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Man, what a week. I got sick Monday night and have been couch-bound since. I couldn't bring myself to blog but I'm back!

It took several months, but then about a month or so ago it hit me. I noticed that most of my work pants were too big. Could it be? Yes! I was finally seeing the results from running!

I tried on a dress that I used to wear and it fits like a bag.

Results! See you later dress! Wait, I mean, hope I never have to see you later!

So last week I bought my first pair of skinny jeans and jean leggings at Express.

I never thought I'd be able to wear skinny jeans! I might not look super skinny in them like the above model, but I feel confident, and that's what matters.

But if I keep eating these.... I might not be able to fit into those skinny jeans! ;)

I discovered these chips at QuikTrip, and gosh, I wish I hadn't. They're so good. The nacho twists are delicious, too. Darn you, Tom's!

What piece of clothing helps you feel great about yourself?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Another Runner's High

It's been over a week since my last post....oops! Time just flew this past week. I had to finish my final project for my photography class so exercising and life (and blogging) was put on the backburner while I finished my project.

I ran a 5K this morning and felt absolutely fantastic. No cramps, no pain, no discomfort = awesome. I realize that I run my best when I am lost in conversation or in my thoughts. If I'm not thinking about how far I still have to go or about the pain somewhere in my body, I feel like I can just keep going and going. I think about life, work, what groceries I need to buy, anything really, and it works.

Today my friend Julie and I just chatted about our weekend plans and who knows what else while keeping a good pace. Before we knew it, we were on the final stretch feeling strong and racing across the finish line. Gotta love that runner's high!

I sported my new shirt - Team Grundy. My old job made these shirts in memory of a friend and co-worker who recently passed away. He was a marathon runner and such an inspiration. In November, I am part of a marathon relay in honor of him.

I ate this before the race this morning.

I got a free one at an expo yesterday. It tasted pretty good. High calorie though but I know that's OK before a long run. Maybe I'll pick up another before my upcoming relay race.

What's everyone's fun plans for this weekend/Halloween?!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Shoe Obsessed

I used to be a flip flop only girl, but alas my tastes have changed and I only own two pairs of flip flops now. I’m really into cute heels but unfortunately just don’t have the budget to buy them all!

Here’s my current wish list (I do a lot of online “window” shopping!):

So pretty. Love the sparkle and the detail of the flowers. But they’re out of my size. :(

I’m all about that ruffle! So feminine!

Go Jane
I’ve in the market for a small and tall boot and I think these look relaxed and comfortable.

I could never afford these nor would I let myself buy $300+ shoes, but I love the embellishment on this classic black peep-toe.

This screams “the holidays!” to me! I’d love to have something like these for Christmas and New Years. They are so fun and makes my heart go pitter-patter.

I love these edgy booties! And apparently I just have a thing for BCBG’s shoes. I only own one actual pair that I got on sale.

Now I want to hear from you. What are your recommendations for dressy, knee-high boots?

I’ve been cursed with large calves and small feet. For years now, I’ve been searching for that perfect, dressy boot. Last year I finally found a casual pair that fit! Feel free to share your wish list shoes, too!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

32 Days Until... and Sweaty Bands.

I usually don’t win things. Giveaways, contests, anything. I’m just not that lucky. Well, that is until recently…

Holly at Rust Belt Runner did a recent giveaway for Sweaty Bands – cute workout headbands. And I won! I got two of them in the mail last week and tried them out on my runs this weekend. I really like them. Comfortable, stayed on my head (which I was worried about) and kept the sweat out of my eyes. Oh, and they’re cute! Thanks again, Holly!

One of the Sweaty Bands!

Speaking of runs, I am in the midst of training for a marathon relay. This newbie runner is a little nervous about my 5.2 miles. I know I can do it because I ran 5.4 for the first time this past Friday. I also know I’ll be able to keep on going because I’ll be inspired by all the marathoners around me (I mean, wow!). I’m mostly nervous about my time. I don't want to let my teammates down!

I have been running or at the gym every day, getting ready and trying to increase my endurance. I’m really seeing and feeling the results, but boy, am I tired.

32 days until the relay! Think I can shave off 25 minutes from my time by then? Yeah, not likely. ;)

Two questions on this post! What is something you are “training” for? And athletes, how do you increase your endurance?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Blog Awards!

Alice, from Guys, Boys and Men, recently gave me a blog award! Drum roll please...

Voila! Yay! Thank you, Alice! Everyone should check out her blog. She's definitely versatile... her latest post is a poll on the hottest vamps out there, so go vote! She also has many other great posts, including tips on meeting the parents. Thanks again, Alice!

The rules of acceptance of this award are as follows:

1) Thank and link back to the person who gave me this award.
2) Tell everyone 7 things about myself
3) Pass this award to 15 other bloggers
4) Contact the bloggers that I've picked and tell them about the award

2) Okay, seven things...

My DVR is stuffed with TV shows that I don't have time to watch. The only shows I make time to watch each week are Glee, Real Housewives and Jerseylicious. ;)

I always wanted to be athletic like my three older brothers. I try. I like to bike, run, play golf, volleyball, tennis, dance. Not the best but at least I'm trying!

I'm a real softie. I cry VERY easily - good and bad tears. Being so sensitive, I oftentimes feel guilty for no reason. I wonder if it's from my Catholic upbringing. ;)

My weakness is cheese. What's food without cheese to make it taste even better?

I hate door knobs with a passion! As you may have gathered from previous posts - I'm a bit of a germaphobe. (A "bit" doesn't accurately describe it.) I think all doors should open automatically!

I'm really shy when I first meet someone and it takes me a while to warm up. It may come off as rudeness or disinterest, but it's not intended that way.

I love to volunteer and help people. Probably explains why I work for a nonprofit. I take on too much but it's always a great feeling to help someone out!

3) Pass this award to 15 other bloggers.... here's my list of 15 GREAT bloggers!

A Girl in the Sunshine

Puzzle Pieces

Southern Belle Simple

The Juici Life

All in a Day - my cousin!


Stop. Listen.

Sunny Days & Starry Nights

How Not to Fall in Love

Laura Darling

The Roaring 20s (Mine that is...)

You Talkin' to Me

Life of Meg


Weaver Family

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Stay tuned...

I'm alive! I feel like training has taken over my life.... training, you say? Basically my life is devoted to exercising right now. But I'll save that for another post.

I won a blog award - yay! So be on the lookout this weekend because I am going to pass it on to some awesome bloggers.

P.S. I uploaded lots of pictures to my flickr. Finally!

Happy Thursday!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wedding fun

I love that moment right before a wedding when I think about how excited the bride must be. I am filled with happiness and excitement for her, but I can't imagine how she must be feeling. I look forward to living that moment myself one day.

Friday night, I watched a co-worker get married. There's something about that beautiful glow, lighting up a bride and groom's face. I just love it. But I'm a sucker for weddings in general.

Happy bride and groom!

You all know I love red heels!

What's your favorite part about weddings?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Volleyball and Jersey fun

I’ve been MIA from the blog world these past few days. I’ve been trying to catch up on my blog reading today and decided I better post something, too.

I discovered my gym has open volleyball on Tuesday nights and I am so excited. I used to play intramurals in college and missed it. I was so envious when I read my friend Sarah (A Girl in the Sunshine) was playing in a league! ;) We played for 2.5 hours and although I was rusty, I didn’t want it to end. I’m definitely going back next week... even though every muscle in my body feels sore today!

I also figured out my Halloween costume. I’m going to be a Jersey girl. Fitting because I was born in Jersey, right? Except that I don’t have an accent and I only lived there four years.

I want to model my costume more after the girls of Jerseylicious. I’m talking big hair, lots of makeup, a fake tan (mine will be spray tan), lots and lots of bronzer, fake nails, high heels and animal print. I need to find a cheetah dress. Is there anything else I am missing?

What do you want to be for Halloween?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Runner's High

I’ve been a work out-a-holic lately. Instead of just running, I’m also going to the gym to lift weights. I want to increase my strength and endurance. It’s also increased my hunger. I am hungry all.the.time.

I realized that I never posted how Race for the Cure went. You might remember when I wrote about the disappointing 5K I had a few weeks ago. I went into Race for the Cure with a whole different attitude… I mean, how can you not? That race is so inspiring and the turnout was incredible.

Not my race but our crowd looked like this - amazing!

I ran with a friend who was running her first 5K. She did great! And I was relaxed and enjoyed it. I think I probably ran a little more than a 5K if you count all the weaving I had to do around people. I used Sarah’s (A Girl in the Sunshine) advice, which was to view the 5K as a game and see how many people I could pass. That really worked! It gave me something else to focus on. Thanks for the advice, Sarah!

My next run is an all-women’s 5K in mid-October. Can’t wait!

If you can’t tell my current outlook on running is… content.

What’s making you feel content these days?

Monday, September 27, 2010


Life is a gift. It’s a gift that some of us are blessed to have for many, many years. But for others, their time on earth is far too short.

I won’t pretend to understand how or why. I just know that we need to do the best we can. Hope for a long, healthy life. Be nice to your neighbors. Love with all of your heart. And be the kind of person to leave a mark on the world.

That’s my goal for myself – to do good and be good. I think that’s a life worth living.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What's your quirk?

We all have quirks. Something about us that’s a little weird or off-putting. For some, it’s a messy office (or seeing others with messy offices). For another, it might be that they need to eat all the brown M&Ms first.

I’m not afraid to admit mine.

Hi, my name is Rachel and I’m a germaphobe. I’m not proud of it but it’s my reality. I’ll save how I got this way for another post.

Here’s a list of my top enemies:

1. Door handles.

Unfortunately these are everywhere. (I love doors you can push through!) I try my hardest to open a door with a paper towel, my shirt or the back of my hand. It’s the worst when none of those will work and I actually have to touch it with the palm of my hand. The horror!

2. Your hand.

Shaking hands is the worst. It’s a part of life though, especially in the professional world. I cringe (in my mind) when I have to shake someone’s hand. I don’t know what you touched! Afterward, all I can think about is how I need to sanitize and wash my hand PRONTO!

3. Public toilets.

These are just nasty in general. I never flush a toilet with my hand. That’s a big no-no. That’s what a shoe is for! Speaking of shoes…

4. Shoes.

I ask people to take their shoes off when they come over. Think about it. Shoes go outside in dirt and they go with you to the bathroom (they may flush the toilets for you)…. and that’s just gross.

5. Elevator Buttons.

Shudder. I press these with my knuckles because of the amount of people who touch the buttons every day. One good reason to take the stairs (and not touch the railing or door handles!)

There’s more (Hello! Office keyboards! Phones!) but those are some of my top nemeses.

Before you give me the number to a good therapist… I want to know what’s your quirky habit?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Woeful Runner

I wish I could say I rocked my 5K this past weekend.

I didn’t.

Saturday was difficult, hot and sticky. Did I mention hot?

I feel too proud to blame it on being sick the Sunday-Wednesday before the race. But I do think that and the heat did factor in. My running partner was a champ though!

On a personal level, it was the worst 5K I’ve had in regards to time. Slower than my first one! And right after I finished, I felt so nauseated, which is unusual.

Do any of you ever feel like you have a mental hindrance when it comes to competing or exercising? I do. When I run the distance on my own, I CAN rock it (majority of the time.) But when I run a 5K race, I start thinking that it’s so long and I’m never going to finish. I set myself up for failure. I think it’s the pressure.

How do you overcome your mental blocks?

I’m smiling here but only because the run was over with.

Time to put this race in the history books and focus on Saturday’s!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tales from a New Runner

I have my fourth 5K tonight.

I started running earlier this year through a Couch to 5K program. Before that, I could barely run down the block without having to stop and gasp for breath.

Even with completing the program, I'll admit that I'm not a natural runner. It's difficult for me but I'm seeing progress. I finally ran 3.4 miles consistently in 30 minutes! This was a battle and I was so proud of my friend Julie and I for accomplishing that together. On our next run, we did it again but a little faster! Then a few days later, I ran by myself and was barely able to run 2 miles without stopping. Go figure, huh? I would describe it as a run-by-run battle.

My goal is to one day run a 10K. I'll get there.

But as for tonight....

My shoes are ready.

My outfit is, too. I'm also going to don this shirt at the Race for the Cure 5K next week (fifth 5K)!

And so am I. (I never look happy when running. Hmm...)

I was sick earlier this week so I'm crossing my fingers for tonight. I want to do my best. That's all that matters!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I'm in love with...

...a bag. Not just any bag. My camera bag, which arrived today! It's just so cute. I adore it. I got it off etsy at a store called XcessRize Designs whose motto is "Life's too short to carry an ugly bag." Very true!

Check out the website here. She makes so many stylish bags and I highly recommend her!

My camera's new home is below. :)