#FemCon13 recap

After a m’eh experience at my last blogging conference, I’ve been hesitant to go to another. I know they’re valuable – especially when it comes to networking and reviving a bad case of blogging writers block. But generally, I sometimes have a bad case of the Shy and am intimidated by people I don’t know. So when I heard about Femworking Conference, in DC, on a Saturday…I knew I had to go. It wasn’t super expensive, only a day thing, and I knew one blogger going so I had that in my pocket.

And I’m so glad I did. The early wake up, the long ass commute via Metro (DO NOT MISS), the crappy drive home (I hate driving at night..especially on Route 50 where everyone drives A GAZILLION MILES PER HOUR). I met so many inspiring bloggers and entrepreneurs. I learned so much and I’m so inspired and trying to figure out how to just…do more and to be the best blogger I can be.

1. Be authentic.
This goes without saying but if you’re authentic, people will be drawn to that. If they like what they see, they’ll stick around. If they don’t, they won’t. But be true to yourself and your voice above anything else. If you’re approached for advertising, and it doesn’t fit with your brand, or your blog, say no. But forcing all paid posts down your readers throats, and forcing sponsorships up the wah-zoo isn’t going to make readers want to stick around.

2. Be Nice
There are lots of trolls out there. But be friendly. You don’t do your brand any favors by engaging and being bitchy. Not everyone is going to be your friend, but

3. Engage
A good rule of thumb, that I’m actually really bad at (I’m trying to be better!) is for every 5 tweets you post, engage with five people. I’ve been trying to be more engaging on twitter, on facebook and on instagram. I’m trying to make a more concerted effort to respond to comments because really, social media is about being social no?

4. Be mindful of connections.The internet is forever. Once something is out there, it’s there for good. So be mindful of the brands you work with, what you say with your name/handle and the people you interact with. Think of how they will affect your brand – in both positive and potentially negative ways. Think about that before you take on sponsored posts/etc…

5. Time is money
Listen, we’re bloggers. We’re legit. We put time and effort into our blogs. We are worth being paid. If a brand wants to work with you, and they don’t want to pay you? Don’t do it. I mean being paid in product is one thing but brands need to understand that a bloggers time, effort and audience are valuable and it’s not out of left field for a blogger to expect compensation when working with them.

I’m so glad I went. I made some amazing connections. I got to meet the amazing Scary Mommy (Another Maryland blogger!!!) among other, amazing, amazing bloggers. Thank you Femworking for putting on an amazing event and for bringing together so much positivity and entrepreneurship in one room. I’m already looking forward to next year!

If you were there, what was your biggest take away? If you weren’t there this year, hope to see you at the next one!

 

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Fall Bucket List: Visit a Pumpkin Patch(ish)

Autumn Bucket ListVisit a pumpkin patch

I had been on the prowl for a pumpkin patch/apple orchard for a while because it’s one of those autumny things I grew up doing, but haven’t done in quite a few years. Now that we have Ethan, we’re more likely to go do more family friendly things (never mind the fact that he’s barely seven months old and has no idea what’s going on) than say, go to Rehoboth to drink all day at Dogfish Head which would have likely been the case a few years ago. So, a couple weekends ago one of my mama pals was rounding up the troops to make a trip to a pumpkin patch. We picked Larriland Farms out in Howard County and met up after morning nap times were through. Even though there was fewer of us than we anticipated it was still a really fun day.

Despite the hour long trek from Annapolis, it was so worth it.

Larriland Farms is a vast farm that allows you to pick your own of whatever is in season – this particular weekend they had tomatoes, beets, apples, pumpkins, and a few other things. However, we did not pick our own because:

1. The pumpkin patch is actually up the road. By the time we were done kicking around, feeding babies, changing explosions, and feeding ourselves (they had a fantastic food bar and apple fritters cooked right in front of you) we didn’t want to risk melt downs. We’ll be going back for that.

2. The apples were over the river and through the woods. Okay that’s an exaggeration but we did have to drive to the far side of the farm (a good couple of miles), repark, get baby out of the car seat again, reattach him to the Tula, and blah blah blah. You get it. #alloftheparentingwoes. (I kid. I kid.) That being said, one of the moms who met up with us hit up the apples and said a lot of them were relatively picked over or something like that. So we decided to skip.

3. We didn’t feel like it. There. We just didn’t feel like it. I mean I did. Kind of. But Hubs was concerned about hitting Ethan’s limit and being out in a field and then having him become like a bear which he does if he does not get a nap right at the moment he needs it and making our hour long drive home hellish because he’d be screaming the entire way. It’s happened before – I’m looking at you MommyCon.

That being said, they did have plenty of pumpkins, apples, and other gourds and fruits pre-picked that we grabbed at the end of our excursion.

I really loved that the farms had fresh food – we had apple fritters – delicious and omg. So much powdered sugar. One of the mamas with us is dairy free and they even whipped up a special batch for her on the spot which was super awesome of them. Kudos to the bakery!

We hung around, contemplated where to go next but then the babies needed to eat.

Then we got food – they had a little stand set up with some bratwurst, hot dogs, and the like – I had a hot dog and Adam and I shared some sweet potato fries that I’m fairly certain were among the best that I’ve had.

ethan goat

 Ethan saw a goat. So that was fun.

Then like I mentioned, I bought allofthegourds. Seriously – acorn squash, spaghetti squash, baking pumpkins, and mini pumpkins. All of them. Adam had to stop me from buying more/any jams/jellies/apples/allofthethings since lord knows it takes me two weeks to follow through on recipes I want to try. My only complaint – and this is the Vermonter in me because I grew up in a town that had a place called the Apple Barn – is that this autumny day trip was missing cider doughnuts (though we did get a half gallon of apple cider that was ahhhh-mazing).

Alas. It was a fun day out at the farm. It’s a perfect day trip from Annapolis/Baltimore or DC. Free to visit, plenty of parking and if you want to pick your own pumpkins – they’re up the road on the left when you’re heading back to the highway. Check the website to see what’s good (I wish I had known that before we went out there) and be prepared for farm awesomeness.

Larriland Farms
2415 Woodbine Road
Woodbine, MD
http://www.pickyourown.com/

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Fall Races You Need to Run

Autumn is primo racing season and it seems marathons and half marathons are a dime a dozen so I’m not going to list all of them. But I wanted to take a moment to share some local to Annapolis races that you should definitely consider if you’re looking for a few smaller training races to bulk up your schedule while you get on track for a mad PR this fall. 

Starting this week, I’m going to be starting the couch to 5k with some mama’s in my play group which I’m going to supplement some of my training with. I’ll be doing 3 days of running for the C25k, and then 1 long run each week. My paces aren’t quite where I want them to be and I figure doing C25k with Ethan in the jogger, will help my overall endurance in a way that running on my own won’t. I mean, you’ve gotta gain something when pushing a 30+ pound jogging stroller.

6races

Ripley Race, November 3, 2013, Annapolis.
Coined as a top race in the mid-Atlantic, this speedy 5k is in to raise awareness and support for our troops returning from war.

“The Ripley Race celebrates the legacy of valor and leadership of Colonel John W. Ripley Unites States Marine Corps (USMC). In a career that spanned more than 35 years, Colonel Ripley earned six valorous and 14 personal decorations in two tours of combat, including the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart. During the 1972 North Vietnamese Easter Offensive, the then-Captain Ripley was responsible for destroying the Dong Ha Bridge. In a desperate and heroic action that would make him a legend in the Corps, Captain Ripley placed and detonated more than 600 pounds of explosives, stopping an enemy assault of more than 20,000 men.

For his courage and heroism at the Dong Ha Bridge, Captain Ripley was awarded the Navy Cross, the nation’s second highest award for valor. The destruction of the Dong Ha Bridge has been memorialized in a diorama at the U.S. Naval Academy entitled, “Ripley at the Bridge.”

Colonel Ripley’s leadership continued off the battlefield, serving in leadership roles at universities, as a historian, a speaker and as an expert testifying before Congress on military matters.

The Ripley Race commemorates a lifetime achievement in the service of his country and dedication to the nation he loved.” (via)

Junior League of Annapolis, inc, Volunteers on the Run 5k, November 10th, Annapolis
A race near and dear to my heart because of my passion for the Junior League and all we stand and work for. “JLA is an organization dedicated to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers”. We are an education and charitable organization, and are full of amazing and inspiring women looking to advance ourselves and give back to the community.

Girls on the Run 5k, TBA (December 2013), Annapolis
I coached for GOTR twice now – once in CT and once here in Annapolis and each time, my heart swelled with the dedication of the other coaches and the inspiration from the girls I coached. Seriously, there is a lot you can learn from almost 40 third-fifth graders. This race is always a fun one, and I highly recommend volunteering to be a running buddy!

Cold Turkey 10kNovember 24, 2013, South River High School Edgewater, MD
I love the races that the Annapolis Striders put on.  I keep meaning to run this race but for whatever reason, I always seem to miss it. Last year was my pregnancy, the year before I was likely working because all I ever did was work back then. Subsequently they also have the Anniversary 15k in Quiet Waters Park in early December if you want to try a new distance!

Annapolis Half MarathonNovember 23, 2013, Annapolis
Want to go big or go home? I loved this race despite the issues it had in it’s first year (2011). The second year I was all knocked up and couldn’t run even though it was going to be fantastic. Alas, I’m hoping to hop back into it this year and run it again. This year, they’re also doing a 10k race and calling it the Annapolis Classic Running Festival. Fun name, awesome course…let’s be running buddies!

Edited to add (since I missed #6 and this one was recommended!)

Annapolis 9/11 Heroes Run, September 8, 2013, Annapolis
Another amazing cause – uniting communities to honor the heroes who have sacrificed their lives on 9/11/01 and the wars following.

Other races to consider if you’re willing to travel a little bit

Navy Air Force Half Marathon or 5 Miler
Marine Corps 10k
Rehoboth Beach Half Marathon
Veterans Day 10k
Jingle All the Way 8k

Or any of the races listed on the Charm City Run events page!

My two big races this fall are the Baltimore Half Marathon and the Army 10 miler – everything after that is just for funsies.

 What races are on YOUR fall agenda this year? Any I missed?

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Not this year…

I saw this in my email today and really wanted to jump on it.

Unfortunately, six-eight weeks isn’t long enough to train for a triathlon and I just registered for a big race.

But for those of you interested, the Nation’s Tri in DC is offering $20 off their registration using code RUN valid until 8/4/13.

nations tri discount

It’s 87% sold out so if you wanted to get a fun triathlon under your belt, I’ve heard great things about this one from a few friends who have completed it.

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Cookie Swapping

For the past few years (well this was the 4th, my darling friends Lexi and C have been hosting a Christmas Cookie Swap. Saturday, we opened it up from being a ladies only affair, to being a husband and boyfriend and baby affair. We had…tons of fun.

There was food, merriment, punch and cookies of course. It’s become one of my favorite traditions since we made our home in the Annapolis/DC area – one that I look forward to continuing on for many years with this amazing little group of friends I’ve created.

So yesterday morning, I spent skipping my favorite yoga class, baking and cleaning the house a little bit. Hubs was up at Reistertown for some National Guard stuff, so I had the house to myself. I like to take advantage of those rare occasions since I know they’re going to be few and totally far between soon enough. He got home and we headed into DC.

I brought an old favorite of mine Peanut Butter Blossoms- they always seem to be a big hit at the holiday party circuit. But seriously – this isn’t even the whole spread…

Peanut Butter Blossoms

ingredients
1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. creamy peanut butter
1/3 c. sugar (plus extra to roll)
1/3 c. light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 & 1/2 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
Hershey’s Kisses (I usually buy an 8oz bag and have leftovers)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Using a paddle attachment, mix together peanut butter and butter until smooth and creamy.

Add both sugars and beat until light and fluffy.

Add egg, vanilla, baking soda, and salt and mix until thoroughly combined. Add flour in 1/2 c. increments and mix until blended, scraping side of bowl as needed. Place extra sugar on a plate and roll the dough into small balls then roll through the sugar. Place coated balls on parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven when golden brown, immediately place unwrapped Hershey Kiss into center of cookie. Transfer to cooling rack and let cool completely.

Enjoy while warm, when Hershey Kiss is soft from the heat of the cookie. NOM NOM NOM.

What is YOUR favorite holiday cookie recipe?

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Thankful for this…

As I read about the massive layoffs over at my former employer and see former colleagues and friends jumping ship or losing their jobs so close to the holidays, I am so thankful today for being where I am.

Thankful that I noted my extreme unhappiness in January/February as it being time to move on.

Thankful I was able to move on to a position so close to home, with amazing coworkers for a pretty awesome company.

Thankful that I didn’t leave with a bad taste in my mouth – or at least not as bad as others.

Thankful that I’m currently surrounded by a team who helps people every day. The way my colleagues work with our patients is just amazing.

At a time when there is so much uncertainty in our economy, it doesn’t hurt to stop and appreciate those around you. Especially those who believe in you and value you as not only an employee, but as a person. Give thanks today for your job, your colleagues – even if it’s not your dream job, and even if your colleagues sometimes get on your nerves. There are so many out there who are suffering without a job who would love to be in your shoes.

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The Art of Spectating

For the past five years, Adam has spectated almost every race (minus the seven he missed while away at training last year) that I’ve ran. Trekking around DC for 7 hours while I completed my first marathon, standing in Central Park in the rain for 2+ hours when I ran my first half marathon, standing in sub 30 degree weather for nearly an hour while I ran a 4 mile race in Central Park, waiting in heat, humidity and everything in between.

This weekend, I got to pay it all forward. He’s run a couple races with me – a 10k here and a 5k there (1 of each to be exact) so while I sold my Army 10 miler bib a couple months ago, I got to play spectator.

Lesson: Specatating is not as easy as one thinks.

@ the start line. I headed over to Route 110 after to see him run by.

The perfect spot to watch him go by. “I’m near the portajohns after the bridge.” I told him. (He snuck his phone in. No one checked. It helped. Bunches.)

After watching him go by, I had had these grandiose plans to head over across the memorial bridge til I realized how wrong I was that that would be easy. Sure it was a metro stop away to get off at Arlington but what would be blocked off? How long of a wait would I have? Who knew!

Instead, I headed over to mile 6 on Independence. I camped out right before the 6.2 mile mark cheering on the runners with my cowbell and enthusiasm. They are AMAZING to watch. Not to mention, it was the perfect day, the weather was perfect and autumn like.

So many flags and amazing runners! I was definitely a little heart broken that baby Schmidt has me sidelined, but I felt really great cheering on the hubs.

Just before the 10k mark where I was camped out.

I figured at that point I should start heading to the finishing knowing that he had about 3+ miles left and who knew how long it would take me to get over there. Unfortunately, I was starved and really had to pee. Baby Schmidt isn’t such a fan of huge walks without eating for long periods of time. Wamp wamp.

I grabbed a quick bite, and made it to the bridge over 110 between mile 9 and 10. Unfortunately, I missed his big finish but I caught up with him in the finishers area.

YAY!! He’s totally all army strong and a year ago? He likely would not have been able to finish. Well, maybe he would have finished but not nearly as awesomely as he did.

So, so proud of him. AND his first ten miler (that, let’s be honest, he didn’t train for as well as he could have. Or should have) was better than MY first ten miler time back in 2009 (GW Parkway Ten Miler) so there’s that. That race for me was a month before I ran my best marathon ever (5:31:something).

I can’t wait to get back out on the roads with him – picking races that we can bring baby Schmidt on in our soon to be obtained jogging stroller, next year we definitely want to do the Army 10 miler together so we’ll have to get our parents here to be awesome spectators.

How to be an awesome spectator

1. Be prepared. Make signs. Cowbells. Be ready to scream your butt off. Not just for your loved one but for EVERY runner.

2. Have a plan. Where you’ll be. Figure out the most strategic spots. If I had been a block or so down, I could have seen the husband TWICE but I didn’t think about that. Wamp wamp. Races aren’t necessarily easy to navigate so be sure to give yourself plenty o’ time to get to point to point.

3. Have fun! Races are meant to be fun – enjoy it! You’re not the one putting blood, sweat and tears into the race so be sensitive to that. Also, check out the runners on the course – I heard a piper, saw Uncle Sam, Captain America, etc… the people who put some creativity into their race garb are AWESOME and sure to make spectating even more fun for you!

4.  Have food and drink on hand. Your runner pal might need a sip of your water/beer/juice but seriously – I got super dehydrated being out there for almost 2 hours. Note to self, water bottles aren’t just for runners. Not to mention, runners like snacks. Gummi bears, fruit, anything quick, small and nutritious (even sometimes not) – they’ll appreciate anything of the sort. At least I did 🙂 

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Amazing Weekend

The weekend started off amazingly (though at first stressful) with a relaxing restorative yoga class in DC with Lexi. I wish it wasn’t so much of a pain in the butt trying to get into DC for a 6:45 pm class after getting out of work at 5p – I just really hate driving in to DC though I suppose if I want to make this a pseudo-regular thing I should probably get used to it or find an amazing restorative class here in Annapolis. Capitol Hill Yoga is one of my favorite yoga studios that I’ve been to since leaving Connecticut so I like what I’m comfortable with and back when I was commuting a few of my friends and I made Friday night Restorative at CHY a welcomed end to the workweek on a few occasions. I love that studio and only wish it had been around when we lived on the Hill  – I might not have wanted to leave so badly when our life went to the crapper.

Afterward we were blissed out, the husband met up with us and we grabbed a snack at Le Pain Quotidien which has amazing fresh food  – it’s a pseudo chain and I’ve been a few times but usually for breakfast. The hummus I had was delicious! A perfect late evening snack really.

Saturday

We headed back into DC for the National Book Festival with Lexi and Steve. The weather was hot and by the end of the day I felt horrid on our way home from being overheated. Lexi really wanted to see Dominique Moceanu speak which was very cool – we also checked out her book signing.

After Lexi got a book signed, we headed over to the Pavilion of the States – which is always one of my favorite tents at the book fest.

We headed up to Capitol Hill once we were thoroughly book festivaled out to grab late lunch/early dinner at Good Stuff Eatery – which while not my favorite burger place in the world, is worth the visit for the milk shakes alone (I got the black and white). I got a regular cheeseburger which is a feat in itself because for the past two and a half months any type of burger has repulsed the crap out of me … something about the texture didn’t agree with baby schmidt.

After dinner, we meandered up to PG County (cause we’re cool like that. Really.) to go to Target where I proceeded to lose my husband because well, his phone died and Droid doesn’t. Eventually, thanks to Best Buy Mobile, he found me and we headed home without dropping mounds of dough. I did however, pick up a belly band so my pants fit slightly better though I can’t seem to get the band to stay so I need to work on that.

We finally got home  late, very late, where I promptly passed out on the couch.

Sunday 

We stuck around Annapolis, getting stuff cleaned up around the house  and then heading over to West Annapolis for Oktoberfest –

What every Oktoberfest should be – sauerkraut and beer. Confession: I don’t like sauerkraut. And that was Adam’s beer. Oktoberfest fail.

It was a great street festival – the food was really good, I’m sure the beer was delightful (i can only imagine because nothing says oktoberfest better than beer. Even I can’t have any.), the weather was brisk and autumnal…really the perfect kick off to fall. It really reminded us how much we love our town and this home that we’ve adopted as our own.

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I’d go to Austria

I got an email a couple weeks ago inviting me to a wine and cheese tasting event hosted by the Austrian Trade Commission that took place Monday evening in Georgetown at L2 Lounge – my first ever SpeakEasy!  It was in preparation for the Fancy Food Show coming up and was open to the press and trade people. I love being a pseudo member of the press!

I can get behind the Austrians! They apparently have the most land per capita devoted to eco-friendly food production than any other country in Europe. That’s pretty awesome. I like their cheeses and wines too.

We started with some cheese, a pastry type with some sauerkraut, some bread and a riesling. Austrian and German Rieslings are my FAVORITES. I also enjoy Italian reds, but that Riesling was amazing.

They also showcased some awesome products. Including this one, the Go Tube. Which, not only comes in various alcoholic versions, but also has sports drinks as well so it can always be with you. Interesting concept. Apparently it just recently launched in the US. Am curious to hear more about it.

I learned that the Austrians have some amazing beer. This was a nice full hefewiezen, very different than the American style, had a lot more flavor and way more color.

 They had some amazing desserts toward the end of the night. I enjoyed the chocolate cake thing, and a tiramisu/almond type treat.

 Isn’t he so handsome???

We had a great night in Georgetown – after we left the event we grabbed dinner at Pizza Paradisio in Georgetown. Someone needed a more proper dinner before driving home to Naptown. Thank you so much to the Austrian Trade Commission and to the Austrian Wine Marketing Board for hosting a great event!

Do you have a favorite foreign beverage??

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Weekend in Review

A nice lazy weekend. Currently I’m squatting in casa de Lexi recooperating or something like that. We’ve had a grand afternoon watching bad teevee, and well I may have fit in a nap there too.

Yesterday…

I ran.

5.5 miles in ~60 minutes through DTA in the cold. Oh my gah, I haven’t ran in that kind of cold for quite some time.

After, I ran some errands and cleaned the house – a ritual I’ve come to enjoy on the weekends.

Then I hung out with Sarah Jane finishing up her website.

I got home, got my race gear together and then went to bed.

today

Woke up, debated driving into the city for the Love the Run You’re With 5k at Pentagon City. I was all prepared with my old skiing base layer (poly pro ftw!!), my fleece lined lulu running tights, gloves. Took the roads slow and rather than drive into the city like I probably should have, I decided instead to metro.

BAD MOVE.

Missed the lil pre-race blogger shin dig (wamp wamp), but I made it before the start thanks to some awesome cab driver at Metro Center though I’ve gotta tell you, what the HECK is with DC cabs not taking credit cards? Aren’t they required to? I mean, ultimately it’s money they’re losing, but I finally decided to just have one dude take me to an ATM and book it to Pentagon City since the metro was NOT going to get me there on time.

The Race…

Despite the cold I was super stoked about this race. I spent the better part of the first 1/2-3/4 miles weaving through the slow pokes (kidding, I’m one of them but you know how it is to get ahead of people running in a line across the course slower than you).

All of my miles despite the early part of the race were negative splits I believe. I hit the turn around and booked it. I hit the 2 mile mark just before the 20 minute mark so I knew I could PR. Especially if I kept my pace sub 10 minutes.

29:00 and I was hitting the base of Army Navy Drive. I kicked it into high gear but there was wind. Oh the wind. So cold.

Final *official* time: 30:23
garmin time: 30:27

Check those baller stats out!

Sub ten minute miles WHAT?!

After the race, I metro’ed home, tried desperately to warm up and made my way to Lexi’s as aforementioned and have been hanging out in my gross race clothes ever since. I should probably make my way home to Naptown here shortly to get ready for the work week. I don’t think I’ve quite accepted that tomorrow is Monday yet though so I’m avoiding it.

I am however looking forward to kicking off my half marathon training this week though! I’ll post about that tomorrow!

 How was YOUR weekend? 

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