1.31.2012

Just have to share on behalf of my sister, brother-in-law and baby bro:
On March 17, 2012, Chris and I, along with my brother, Will, are running in DC's inaugural Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon. Each of us have run many races for ourselves - I did the DC Half Marathon last year, Chris has run countless full marathons, and Will ran for his college cross country and track teams (Buzzzz, go Hornets! Right?) - but this time we have decided that we wanted to run to benefit others. We have chosen to run this race to raise money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and are hoping that you all can help us reach our goal of raising $1500 for the organization.
The Special Operations Warrior Foundation provides a college education to every child who has lost a parent serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps during an operational or training mission under the U.S. Special Operations Command. They also provide cash grants to personnel seriously wounded in the line of duty so that their families can travel and be at their sides during their recovery without financial worries. This foundation hits close to home for Chris and I because as you might remember we lost a good friend last summer, SSG Jeremy Katzenberger, who was killed in action in Afghanistan. His now 1-year-old son will hopefully get to benefit from an organization like this one day. On top of that though, there are also so many of our family members and friends that have put themselves on the line for our country and this is just one way we can honor and support them.
$1500 might seem like a lot of money, but in reality it's only $500 per person. Or, only $38 per mile we run on race day. $38 a mile is nothing compared to the sacrifice the men and women in our military and their families make every single day.
Please help us honor and support our armed forces and their families by visiting our First Giving site for this event and donating to this cause. As everyone always says, every little bit counts.

Face Off Against Hunger.


I'm so glad I work here. Find out more at facebook.com/Atomicdust.

1.27.2012

Agadir

After a day and a half in Marrakesh, it was on to Agadir! Agadir had none of the things I disliked about Kesh - less crowds, less heckling, more organized driving, wider roads. Plus, it's a pretty big French tourist destination, so I could actually read some of the signs and menus!

Agadir sits right on the Atlantic Ocean and pretty much looks like Florida. Apparently, there was a big earthquake in the 1960s and the U.S. helped rebuild.... there's even a JFK Blvd!
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Our hotel was gorgeous! We ended up getting a really nice room with two beds and our very own bathroom! With toilet paper and a shower curtain! (Granted, the shower curtain was cut short and only hung down mid-shin, but whatever.)
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The beach in Agadir was so pretty! This was my first experience seeing an empty beach when it is 60 something degrees outside...
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The beach in Agadir is lined with a boardwalk with shops and restaurants, including this one with 'exotic' foods like pizza, hamburgers and Thanksgiving turkeys. At night, the boardwalk becomes the place to be. It felt like (a more conservative version of) the Jersey Shore.
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We 'splurged' and took a tram ride around the city. What we thought would be a quick ride down the boardwalk and back ended up taking us all over Agadir, even passed the really nice all-inclusive resorts (aka where I will stay if I ever go back!).
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This, my friends, is shawrma. It's sort of like a gyro with pickles. Claire refused to eat meat in Morocco, but we forced her to try the chicken shawrma and she liked it so much she insisted on coming back for dinner! On my second go around, I had a chicken burger instead - just ground chicken as the patty instead of beef- and it tasted just like Chick-Fil-A!
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This is the door to the mosque in Agadir and it is just gorgeous. To me, this is so Morocco. The tiles, the wood, the color, the intricate details.
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Can you believe this is Morocco? I was standing outside a Zara when I took this. We don't even have Zara in St. Louis! This whole marina area is these big, new buildings with retail space on the bottom and what I assume is residential up top. It reminded me of Branson Landing. And the docks are lined with sailboats, runabouts and even a few smaller yachts. The sunset was unbelievable.
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Agadir lights up the beaches with stadium lights at night, and the effect is insanely beautiful. It creates such a stark contrast between the lit-up sand and the dark blue ocean. The mountain side says, 'God, King, Country' and is lit up at night. I think it's much prettier than our version - the Hollywood sign.
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Stag? This Moroccan beer says it's made in Casablanca but it looks (and tastes) a little familiar...

Other Agadir highlights:
  • My first McDonald's experience abroad!
  • Amazing chocolate croissants!
  • The freshly-painted Agadir zoo
  • The big indoor market where I bought a bunch of souvenirs
  • The soccer stadium that also sort of looks like a quidditch field
  • Our makeshift cooler in the bathroom sink, filled with cold water and ice. 

1.26.2012

Mashed White Beans with Rosemary and Garlic

I made this as a side to the boy's pork steaks last night. It was easy, I already had all the ingredients at home... and it wasn't terrible! Yippee!
Mashed White Beans with Rosemary and Garlic

  • 2 (15 oz.) cans cannellini (white) beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed into small pieces (or a few sprigs of fresh rosemary)
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil, garlic and rosemary over medium-low heat. Saute until fragrant.

Add beans and chicken stock. Increase to medium heat and stir beans. Continue to stir until beans begin to soften, approximately 5 to 8 minutes.

Using a wooden spoon or a potato masher, mash beans until they reach your desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

via 

Inspired By: These Colors

{navy, mustard, white and mint}


1.25.2012

Embracing Trends

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I tried it. The whole different color nail thing. Claire and Cara and I had a long discussion about this in Morocco... I'm okay with it as long as the colors are more muted. And I prefer just having the left ring finger a different color. Maybe I feel like it's like wearing a ring? Marking a commitment? I don't know.

So I tried. I don't think I like it. As soon as I was done, I immediately wanted to take the polish off but I told myself I had to let it be for at least a day.... So I'm most likely painting my nails tonight while I watch Battle of the Exes on MTV.

Other trends I'm sporting today:
  • poncho-esque sweater
  • leopard flats
  • arm party, including an over sized gold watch
  • ballerina bun.... although that is not a trend for me. It's my life. 
And here are a few other trends I'd like to try (someday).
{anything chevron}
{big, cozy infinity scarf} 
{seriously pink lips} 
{more sequins}

Follow all the style I love on Pinterest.

1.24.2012

Returning

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jeans, grey top from Target. blazer from JC Penny. black boots by Chinese Laundry. scarf was a gift. silver bracelets, ring and necklace. 

Well, I returned for Day 2.  Thanks for all the nice and encouraging comments! I do like doing outfit posts... it gives me motivation to wear more than a white tee everyday.... but I guess I just get bored with it. Or feel like I'm being really conceited posting about myself everyday.

Does anyone else get like that?

Marrakesh

Warning: My view of Marrakesh is jaded. 

When I first arrived in Morocco, I thought Marrakesh was awesome. It had that gritty, raw hustle that I've found in cities like New York and New Orleans. Sure, it was dirty. And had too many motorcycles and not enough traffic laws. And had people begging for money and hassling you. But I really liked it.

Then I spent a week travelling around to other cities in Morocco, and by the time we had to return to 'Kesh' for our flight to Rome, I was dreading it. I wanted nothing to do with the square, the souks or anything inside the medina (inside the walls of the city).

That being said... I'll try to give you an unbiased, abridged tour of the highlights.

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This is the view of Marrakesh from our roof. No matter how I thought I felt about a city in Morocco, it all changed when we would climb to the roof and see views like this. IT was just stunning. These stucco homes, adorned with splashes of bright blues, pinks and oranges, surrounded by mountains and desert. Photos can't do it justice.

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The inside of our hotel (exactly how you imagine a Moroccan hotel, right?). Cara thought the tile was hooky.... I think she is just too used to it by now. I thought it was gorgeous. Most of the hotels have an open center, something I think we are seeing more of in American hotels nowadays too. Our room was just three twin beds, a sink and a mirror. There was a community bathroom on the next floor... with real western toilets. But no toilet paper.

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The 'streets' in Kesh were about five or six feet wide. They looked like alleys. They weren't marked. But they were streets. Walking down them, you'd see little shops, restaurants, residential doors and cats. Lots of cats. I'm not sure how anyone finds their way around ('Turn left at the guy selling tangerines'?), but they do.

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The Square at Night. It's basically carts and booths (and beggars) that set up and sell food, drinks, trinkets, anything really. Also, little known, or maybe well known fact: Morocco has amazing tangerines and oranges. Seriously. I tried eating an orange in Italy and it just didn't compare.

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This is breakfast (and for us, dinner and snack) in Morocco. Panache, the smoothie looking drink is strawberry, orange and avocado and SO good. And in the foreground is lismissions (we have no idea how to spell it). My new favorite food on the planet. It's basically a bread-like pastry, sort of like a crepe, folded over honey. And it's freakin' amazing.

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So. Many. Motorbikes. It's dangerous. And they drive wherever, however they want. Imagine walking through those tiny alley streets and having one come speeding up behind you. I felt like I was IN an Indiana Jones chase scene or something!

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Marrakesh is known for it's souks - outdoor markets. It's basically Soulard Market on steroids. Again, they sell anything and everything. Food, oils, herbs, art, purses, shoes, knock off sunglasses.... you name it, they got it. The worst part for Westerners is that the guys sit outside their 'store' and essentially heckle you to come in. 'Oh, you're so pretty.' 'Hello, hello. America.' 'Very nice.' And then when you don't come in... they have less than kind words for you. The souks are awesome and you can get a ton of cool stuff there, you just need thick skin.

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This was actually taken at a Carrefour - the equivalent of a Walmart Super Center in Morocco. They love their spices there.

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Morocco made me wish I liked olives. They were everywhere. And smelled so good. And looked so beautiful. But alas, I still don't like them. I like olive oil though! I picked up a bottle to take home as a souvenir.

Other notables:

  • Kesh has an awesome mall that rivals malls I've been to in the States. It has a TGI Fridays, Virgin MegaStore and Domino's Pizza. It's insane. 
  • Their airport is the cleanest of all the ones I visited during my travels. And it was the one featured in Sex and the City II
  • Marrakesh is a tough city to travel to if you don't speak some Arabic. Other cities in Morocco have more French and more tourists... but Kesh doesn't. I wouldn't have been able to find out how much things cost or where the bus was going if Cara wasn't there. And there usually isn't anyone speaking English around for you to ask for help either. But, they do have a Club Med! You can go there. 
  • Two words I used most often - 'Sho kran' means thank you. And 'la' means no. 
  • Hoard napkins for toilet paper. 

Tour Time

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Usually when I travel, I post a few pictures and a bulleted list of highlights. For Morocco and Rome though, I know that just won't cut it. I spent a good amount of time in four different Moroccan cities and three full days in Rome.

I think I'll do it Rick Steve's style and take you on a tour of the different cities/sites I saw. It will probably be something like this...
Here we go...

1.23.2012

Back At It

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red jeans, scarf, gold watch from Target. striped tee from H&M. brown vest from Old Navy. boots by Bogs


Honesty Alert: I was thinking about stopping my outfit photos. I just wasn't feeling it anymore. I was bored with what I was wearing, what I was writing... I didn't like reading my old posts and figured if I couldn't even entertain myself, how was I entertaining anyone else?

But then a couple friends told me they liked the posts and didn't think I should stop. And then Kayla announced another 21 10 Day Challenge. And I thought, what the hell. Let's give it another go.

Will it last beyond these ten days? Will it even last these 10 days? I'm not sure. (Especially since I think I broke my camera this morning. You'd think I would have learned that porch railings and wind don't mix.)

Oh yeah, and ignore the TORNADO behind me. Between moving all my furniture, Christmas, packing for a two-week vacation and returning from said vacation.... my house is a dis.as.ter.

1.20.2012

Back in the US of A!

I'm home!

Well, sort of. I'm in Newark, NJ waiting on a flight home, hoping the crazy wintry mix in St. Louis holds off until later this evening. After being up traveling for almost 18 hours and twelve days away from home... I'm so ready to be back.

I've never been so grateful for toilet paper, the English language, and not having to pay for things in coins. Also grateful for cough drops and Kleenex right now, as it appears I've picked some sort of cold in Italy. Think it is unacceptable to call in sick from work after missing ten days? ;)

Lots of blog posts/pictures to come in the next few days....

1.14.2012

LIVE! From Morocco

I'm just about a week in to my vacation and having an absolute blast. I went from crazy, crowded Marrakech to beach town Agadir to Cara's village in the mountains, Anezi. We've been traveling and seeing a lot, and still have Essa (sp?) and Rome to get to, so we decided to have a lazy day for laundry, naps, and snacking. Can't wait to share more photos and stories from this trip!

1.08.2012

Packing Light

You guys. Seriously, I have two weeks of life packed into a LL Bean backpack. Ridiculous, right? I did a good job of packing light on the Baltimore trip, but this is unreal. I really impressed myself.

I've got a TSA-approved one quart bag of liquids - shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, Febreze, dry shampoo, toothpaste, even tiny travel size makeup thanks to all those free samples from my sister!

I've got Sperry's and boots, two sweaters, a flannel button down shirt, a white tee, tank top, two pairs of jeans, a scarf, a light jacket and socks/bra/underwear. I tried to layer up as much as possible for the plane so I could pack less in the bag. but now, I'm sweating. Shoot.

I've got a gallon bag with all my chargers, headphones and European converter and adapter. My iPad, of course (hence this blog post). And my Rome map and travel guide that my sister and brother-in-law got me for Christmas.

And then there are things like a towel (apparently European towels are TINY), a shopping bag for souvenirs, an 'I # STL' water bottle from Loufest,, and, oh yeah, my passport.

I can't wait to share photos with you! But you've seen my packing list... Don't judge me if my outfit is ugly, my hair looks like shit, or I need bronzer.

Bon voyage!

1.06.2012

Farewell My Friends

I'm off to get my passport stamped in Rome and Morocco! I can't wait to tell you about cous cous, pasta, churches, sand and my birthday celebrations (here in the U.S. and on the plane to Rome) when I get back on January 23rd.

pinned

1.03.2012

Cleansing

My diet over the last week has been mostly coffee and candy with a few late breakfasts, Thai food and enormous family dinners thrown in. And my diet over the next two weeks is going to consist mainly of cous cous, gelato, pasta, pizza, wine, beer and coffee (Thanks Rome and Morocco!). So, yes, I'm going to need to do this Bon Appetit cleanse when I get back.

I'm actually looking forward to it.
 Chocolate with Sesame Seed Bark
 Black Cod, Kale Salad With Pine Nuts, Roasted Sweet Potatoes
 Cider-Glazed Chicken, Fennel-Lemon Relish, Broccoli Rabe with Black Bean Oil
 Mushroom-Sherry Soup, Chicken with Citrus Sauce, Roasted Squash
 Broccoli Rabe
Steaks, Sweet Potatoes, Beet Salad 
 Pear Slices with Yogurt
 Spelt Pancakes, Maple Applesauce
Low-fat Greek-style yogurt with hazelnuts and pomegranate seeds

For the full list of meals, shopping lists and recipes, check out Bon Appetit's 2012 Food Lovers' Cleanse. 

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