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a special day

Hello!

Today has been a very special day.

This morning when I rolled out of bed, I decided that today would be one of the best days of the year. And it was!  It was!

For starters I booked it to the gym and made a leap towards getting out of my workout rut.  After sadly taking a step back from marathon training, I’ve had a hard time getting back into a groove.  This morning I stopped making excuses and got my be-hind in gear!  Right after popping 3 dried apricots for some energy.

I kicked things off with a 25 minute interval run on the treadmill.  IMO intervals make the time go by so much faster.  Well, that and a killer playlist.  Anyway.  Instead of focusing so much on getting through a 25 minute run, I was able to break it down and focus on getting through each interval. Here it is:

walking warmup
-  2 min. at 6.0
-  1 min. at 6.5
-  1 min. at 7.0
-  1 min. at 7.5
-  2 min. at 6.0
-  1 min. at 6.5
-  1 min. at 7.0
-  1 min. at 7.5
-  1 min. at 6.0
-  1 min. at 6.5
-  1 min. at 7.0
-  1 min. at 6.0
-  1 min. at 6.5
-  1 min. at 7.0
-  1 min. at 6.0
-  1 min. at 6.5
-  1 min. at 7.0
-  1 min. at 7.5
-  walk for 5 min.

Felt so great when it was over.  Exhilarating:)

Next up: the weights.

I’ve been avoiding the iron for months.  But not today.  I started with free weights, working my arms; then moved to machines to work my legs.  And I finished it all off with some serious plank action on the mat.  Serious plank action, I tell ya.  Hardest part of the entire workout.

Once I got home, I refueled with a green smoothie.

1 scoop Vega powder, 1 cup almond milk, 2 handfuls spinach, 1/2 banana, chia seeds and ice

Lunch was leftover vegan spinach enchiladas from last night.  Just as good the second time around.

And then it was off to tutoring!  As you guys know, I adore the students I tutor.  Okay, okay.  Nada sometimes drives me a little batty, but other than that they always bring a smile to my face.   Not only that, but I almost always come away a wiser person.  Here’s what I learned today:

from Hey-Kyoung: Korean people keep two refrigerators.  One for regular food.  And one for kimchi.  An entire fridge for kimchi!  Are you, my fellow nut butter lovers, thinking what I’m thinking? muahahaha.

from Nada: the cookie monster (you know the one – from Sesame Street) no longer eats a lot of cookies apparently.  Have you all heard about this?  Somehow it was decided that he was partially to blame for childhood obesity, so now he eats veggies and says that “cookies are a sometimes food.”  What?!

They never cease to entertain.  My students that is, not Sesame Street.

By the time I got done tutoring it was past 5:30, and I was famished!  I had snacked on a Larabar between meetings, but it was quickly wearing away.  I decided to keep dinner simple and quick.

I chopped up a kabocha squash into thin wedges and then brushed them with coconut oil before putting them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.

Next, I drained and rinsed some canned chickpeas, spread them on a cookie sheet and shook cumin, garlic powder and seasoned salt all over them before sticking them in the oven as well for about 15 minutes.

I also cut up one flax protein pita into triangles and baked it for about 10 minutes.

Our oven was full of love tonight! ha.

Everything was going great until I opened our fridge and was attacked by a soy yogurt.

Time to clean out the fridge, folks.

Anyway, dinner came together nicely.  A bit random, but it worked.

spread with a little bit of Earth Balance

I had so much leftover squash tonight that I couldn’t help but come up with a tasty way to use it…well, besides the obvious of slathering it with EB and eating it straight up, but you already knew that.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the creamiest vegan squash soup you’ve ever laid eyes on.

Now that’s special.

G’night!

Did you watch Sesame Street when you were a kid?  What was your favorite childhood TV show?  Mister Rogers? CareBears? My favorite was My Little Pony.  Every day after we took my sister to school, I would run straight to the TV and ask “is it 43 or 34?”  I never could remember which channel, but I had to have my pony fix:)

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tempeh veggie chili

Good evening!

I can’t believe the weekend is already over.

I arrived home from DC around 8 o’clock Friday night, but the husband didn’t get home until after midnight!  Our flights were supposed to land in Tulsa within 15 minutes of each other, but his got delayed…twice.  Wouldn’t you know it?

Anyways, I decided to go ahead and drive the hour home without him, and then he hitched a ride with his coworkers.  We had such a great time while we were gone, but it felt so great to get home.   Isn’t that how it always is?

After getting in bed so late on Friday night, we accidentally overslept on Saturday morning and didn’t wake up until 11:30!  We were both a little sad to have missed out on the whole morning, but apparently we needed the sleep, so it’s all good:)

Saturday afternoon we had to work in the suites for the OSU/Nebraska game. By the time we got home it was already past six, and we spent the rest of the evening just like this.

Luckily this morning we didn’t oversleep and managed to make it to church on time.  The rest of the afternoon was spent catching up on work and stuff around the house, although unfortunately I still have not unpacked.  That will be a task for after I write this post….or possibly tomorrow.  But don’t tell the husband;)

All afternoon I was craving something fallish -and what better way to satisfy that kind of craving than with a pumpkin spice latte and my latest and greatest Trader Joe’s find?!

I was so excited to break out this pumpkin butter for the first time that I could already taste it!  I toasted up a slice of ezekiel bread and giddily spread a thin layer of pumpkin goodness and then…

eh.

It was pretty good.  I think it was just a little too sweet or something.  Emily had warned me that it was pretty sweet, but wow.  I mean, you can’t really mess up good pumpkin flavor, so I still liked it.   I just didn’t like it as much as I though I would.  I think I’d like to make my own now, so I can control how much sugar goes in.  The good news is that a little bit goes a long way!  I think it would probably be really good to add a tiny bit to yogurt or oatmeal.

We shall see!!

To carry on the fall theme into dinner, I decided to put together a vegetarian chili.

This chili did not disappoint!

Tempeh Veggie Chili
makes about 6 servings

Ingredients
2 red bell peppers, chopped
4 large carrots, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1 block tempeh, crumbled or diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tbsp salt
2 tsp oregano
1 ½ tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp organic cane sugar
1 ½ cup water
1 12 ounce can diced tomatoes, no added salt
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
1 tbsp olive oil

Directions

  • pour oil into large stockpot over medium heat
  • add onion, bell pepper, carrot, frozen corn and tempeh and saute for about 3-4 minutes.
  • add beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and water and mix well.
  • add seasonings and lime juice.  Cover and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.
  • serve with crackers or baked pita wedges.

This chili turned out delicious!  One of my favorites methinks.  You should make it.  And then cozy up on the coach with your significant other (or your cat) and watch Amazing Race.  Because it’s amazing.

Even the baby couldn’t get enough of the smell of fall in the kitchen.

Er…maybe that’s her “puh-leeeze, give me a carrot, mom.  I promise I’ll be good and I won’t ever ask for anything ever again. Really, I won’t….”

Who can say no to that face?

But you don’t get somethin’ for nothin’ around here….no matter how cute you are:)

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Old Town

And now…for the final recap of our stay in Washington D.C.

Thursday was the only day that the husband would be in meetings for his conference all day long, and I had planned to just play it by ear, waiting to see what we’d have time for on Wednesday before deciding what I would do while flying solo.

I had wanted to see the Holocaust Memorial at some point and sort of expected that I would end up doing that on Thursday; however, I also had heard great things about Old Town Alexandria, so that was also high up in the running. By the time Wednesday night rolled around I had come to a definite decision.

Old Town here I come!

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I figured I’d explore the city for a little bit and then camp out at Starbucks for awhile and get some work done. So, I strapped on the husband’s backpack, loaded down with my macbook, grabbed my camera and set out.

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I head out of the hotel, get in the cab and the following conversation takes place:

Annoyed cab driver: where you headed?

Me: Alexandria.

Annoyed cab driver: what part of Alexandria?

Me: uhhh, well….ummmm, what part is good?

Annoyed cab driver: several seconds of silence, and then “well, Old Town is pretty good.”

Me: yes, that’s it. Old Town. Take me there.

Annoyed cab driver: where at in Old Town?

Me: ummmmmmmmmm…Starbucks?

Annoyed cab driver: which Starbucks?

SERIOUSLY?? Had could I have been this unprepared? haha. I just knew I wanted to go to the quaint little town that I’d heard so much about and that was about it. Either way, he ended up taking me to the Starbucks that is farthest away from all the action. He dropped me off, and I decided to just take off walking and see what I could find.

Well, apparently it was my lucky day because within five minutes I stumbled onto this:

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Trader Joe’s!! I have heard so much about Trader Joe’s for so long, but I’ve never had the chance to go to one. My eyes lit up so bright you’d have thought I had just found the almond butter machine at Whole Foods. I refrained from buying anything right away, but returned later on in the day for some sunflower seed butter, pumpkin butter and almond butter:) Is this normal?

Pressing on I continued wandering down the streets, completely giddy at the setting of this little town. I think I was made to live in this place. I literally got teary eyed a couple of times because I was just so happy. I know I’m risking losing readers who think I’m a crazy person over that statement, but I don’t care. It was the best day.

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The only thing that could have made it any better was if the husband had been by my side. I missed him:(

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I basically spent most of the day until lunch wandering around, up and down every street oohing and ahhing, and checking out every little store and boutique in my path. Finally, I wandered upon the waterfront and enjoyed the peacefulness of the water and flowers for a few minutes.

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And then I was back at it.

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I stumbled upon a cute little confectionary, where I bought a few dark chocolate covered cranberries, some chocolate covered coffee beans for the husband and one lone sea salted caramel, which was to. die. for. So delicious in fact, that I neglected to get a pic before popping it into my mouth and savoring it to the very end.

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And then I found this.

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Do you see what I see? That’s right, another cupcakery…hallelujah! I couldn’t help myself.

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Pumpkin spice cupcake with fennel. I die.

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For the record, I don’t make a habit of eating a cupcake every day, but Oklahoma also doesn’t have cupcakeries. What’s a girl to do?!

As much as I wanted to just eat it right up, I knew my stomach would thank me if I had something a little more substantial for lunch first. I decided on the first thing I saw that I don’t have at home.

Le Madeleine.

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I ordered the salad sampler and chose a tomato basil pasta salad, tomato basil soup and fruit.

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My favorite was the pasta salad, but it was all very very tasty. And by the time I followed it up with the cupcake (I couldn’t carry it around in my backpack all day!), I thought someone was going to have to roll me outta there.

After lunch I decided to give my aching feet a little rest, so I broke out the laptop and did a little bit of work.

But it didn’t last long. Who was I kidding?

A couple of hours later I found myself at the Gap Outlet when I got an email from Emily. Emily writes The Front Burner, and she is so cool. She actually lives in Old Town, and I had emailed her earlier in the day to see if she had any suggestions of must sees or do’s for me. When she got my email she was sitting at Starbucks just about ten blocks down the street! So, obviously I had to get down there and say hi.

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We got to chat for a little bit, but then she was meeting a friend so we had to cut it short. She is every bit as pretty and sweet as she is on her blog. I thought she was in especially good spirits considering she just got hit by a car about a week ago!

Anyway, later that night Jon finally met up with me after his conference was over so we could hang out with an old coworker of his and his wife and baby. We all met up at a cute little restaurant called Las Tapas, which had excellent food and even greater entertainment thanks to the live music and dancing! So fun!

My food went unpictured due to the super intense mood lighting, but Jon and I shared a tapas order of spinach and feta cheese wrapped in phyllo dough and a skillet of Vegetarian Paella. This was our second time to have Paella, the first time being in Barcelona this summer. And honestly, we liked the American version better, but shhhh, don’t tell anybody;)

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After dinner we caught a cab back to our hotel, and Jon went to a late night networking reception party while I blogged from bed (the best way IMO:)

And that’s it! I can’t believe our time in DC is already over. Please don’t make me leeeaave!!!

I’ll see you guys tomorrow!

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seeing the sights

Our first full day in Washington DC started with a brisk 2.5 mile run along the harbor.

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We are staying at National Harbor, and it is so beautiful here! The downside is that it it’s a bit from away from….well, everything. In terms of walking at least. The upside is that there is a bus stop just a block from our hotel that takes us straight to the metro. So after a shower and a quick breakfast of a banana, rice cake and almond butter (from the stash:) we set out for a day of sightseeing.

We honestly did not have any idea where we were going, but that’s how we roll. Once on the metro, we started to realize that we were already getting hungry. Jon and I are notorious for setting out to explore new places and then not being able to find food anywhere. And you do not want to be our friend when we are hungry. So, we decided to book it to the only place we knew was sure to have food.

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waiting for the metro...again

China Town!

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Right when we came up from the metro, we spotted this place.

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When we were in New York last year, we ate at a place just like this, and we both loved it! If you haven’t been to one, it’s basically like a Subway, but for salads. Plus they have far more toppings (everything from tofu to roasted beets) – and then my favorite part – after they get everything that you want added to your salad, they chop it all up before putting it in the bowl. It’s so good!

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love the vintage style of these cups!

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After eating, we decided to explore China Town a little bit, and the first place we stumbled upon was Urban Outfitters….keepin’ it real:) We shopped around a little bit – the husband ending up with a couple of shirts and me a scarf.

Finally, after all the procrastinating, we decided to grab some Starbucks and head to Arlington National Cemetery. We strolled the winding streets, taking pictures at every turn and just soaking in the peaceful serenity of this place. It was so calming to me.

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the gravesite of JFK

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Arlington was absolutely nothing like what I expected – it was so much bigger! It really is hard to fathom the number of graves there. I was so taken aback with it all.

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at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

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After a couple hour visit, we decided to head back to the National Mall. We had only spent a short while there the night before, and it had been dark, so we were anxious to see it all in the daylight and get some good pictures. After a quick snack, we made the loooong trek, finally coming upon the Lincoln Memorial. Beginning to fear the onset of sundown, we decided to admire Lincoln from afar, since it had been the best lit monument from the night before – instead pressing on toward the White House.

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the back of the Lincoln Memorial

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the memorial for Vietnam Vets

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The night before we were able to get right up to the fence of the White House, almost to that fountain you can barely see; however, this day there was a giant chain length fence put up that spanned about the length of a football field. You couldn’t get any closer than the outside of the fence. There must have been something going on – not sure, but we were sad!

We walked by the Washington Monument next, en route to the capitol building…

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And the Smithsonian…

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By the time we left the Capitol building, we were pretty exhausted and hungry. Dinnertime!!

We used our UrbanSpoon app on the iPhone and found a mexican restaurant in the area – and made a beeline for it! Only to get there and realize it was closed:( Onward and upward folks, onward and upward. We UrbanSpooned it again and came up with yet another mexican place only about a mile away. Off we went!

Stopping for photo opps along the way or course:)

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I didn’t get many pictures of dinner unfortunately because it was really dark and crowded in there.

We started off with an appetizer of guacamole that was some of the best darn guacamole I’ve ever had. And that’s sayin’ a lot!

For my meal I ordered vegetarian enchiladas with mushrooms, spinach and squash inside and a tomato based sauce poured over top. Jon and I shared a serving of rice and beans.

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So good!

And then on our way home we passed this little cupcakery and just couldn’t resist. Can I just say how much I love the word “cupcakery?” I could just say it over and over. Cupcakery. Cupcakery, cupcakery, cupcakery. Cupcakery.

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Mine was chocolate – and it was vegan too!!

Oh my gosh, that was the longest recap in the history of recaps! If you’re still with me, kudos to you. And thanks!

I just love writing recaps – it’s like you get to relive the entire day over again!

I’m off to bed now – we are leaving tomorrow at noon and I can hardly believe it. Especially after today (recap to come tomorrow) – I am NOT ready to go home! Today was one of the best days I think I’ve ever had. That may be a slight exaggeration…but only slight;)

I’m waaaay behind on all your amazing blogs because I just haven’t been sitting in front of the computer. While I can’t say I’d wish it any other way, I miss you all so very much and I can’t wait to catch up on everything from this week!!

Hope you’re having a great night – see ya tomorrow!

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brrrrrr!

No one told me how cold it was going to be here in DC!

Something you may not know about me – I have a small obsession with watching the weather.  Outside real time and through my Weather Channel iPhone app.  I love looking at the hour by hour forecast.  Oh, and the 7 day is almost more than my little heart can handle!  I get so excited.

So, needless to say I was watching DC weather like a Natzi over the last week or so.  According to my calculations, it was supposed to be in the low 70′s this week.

Well, apparently those calculations were wro-ong!

It is downright cold here…so cold that most of the locals are in coats, hats, boots…you name it. If it’s a cold weather accessory, it’s walkin’ the streets of the District (I can totally call it that now that I’ve actually been here, right?!).

Unfortunately, this unsuspecting tourist did not pack for frigid temps.  Luckily I did bring a couple pairs of jeans and threw in my light trench coat, but I am kicking myself for not bringing my boots and some long sleeve shirts.  Oh, and I almost bought some gloves at Urban Outfitters today.  I’m kicking myself for leaving those behind too.

I digress.

Despite the cold, I am loving DC!  Something else you may not know about me is that I am so in love with the east coast I could marry it.  Seriously.  Jon and I drove up the east coast on our honeymoon, and I’ve pined away for it ever since.  I knew I would love it here (in DC) too…and I couldn’t have been more right.

Now, here’s my list so far of things that have surprised me about DC:

One.  how cold it is.
Two.  how friendly the people are.  there are some seriously friendly people here – and so helpful!
Three.  the number of runners out and about throughout the day.
Four.  how much the area around Capitol Hill reminds us of Paris.  Anybody else?

Okay, so now that my lovefest has commenced, let’s go forth with the story of our trip here yesterday.

Jon and I left our house around 7:45am (right on time, thankyouverymuch) and hit up Starbucks on our way out of town for some coffee and a bite to eat.  I gotta say, Starbuck’s Oatmeal is the way to go if you’re out and about in the early morning hours.

Okay, I am aware that this picture does not look that appetizing.  But I promise you, they don’t call it “perfect” for nothing.  Have I ever lied to you before?

After an hour and a half of driving in torrential rains, getting lost and making a circle around the entire perimeter of the airport, we finally got parked.  This is not the first time that using directions from our iPhone has failed us.  It literally led us on a wild goose chase down all kinds of windy back roads and plopped us down right at the entrance people use to fly private jets.  Riiiiiight.

So, after nearly having a nervous breakdown and then a panic attack, we made it into the airport looking like a couple of wet dogs as we raced to check in.  At that point I split off from the husband because unfortunately we were booked on different flights (his was booked through his work).

Luckily we both made it to our gates in time.  After the hour-ish flight, I landed at O’Hare in Chicago for an hour and a half layover.  First things first.  Find some healthy food, stat!

I have to say – in my humble opinion, airports have really improved in the way of healthy eats.  At least larger airports.  Unfortunately it does cost half your life savings to obtain said eats, but they’re there.  Per the usual, I had planned ahead and packed rice cakes, larabars, dried apricots, apples and bananas in my bag for this trip.  But I always end up eating my packed stuff for breakfast and snacks when I go on vacation…and by day 2 or 3 I’m usually getting serious fresh veggie withdrawals.  So, I had decided that if there were any good veggies to be had at the airport, I was going to splurge on invest in them.  Enter – the best airport lunch ever:

Mixed greens salad with grilled veggies and pita wedges on top.  With a balsamic vinegar dressing.

and a green juice

I used to think these Naked juices had added sugar – not sure why I thought that.  This was 100% juice – including several fruits and broccoli, spirulina etc.  It was delicious!  And I felt on  top of the world when I finished this lunch.  Full of veggies:)

After I landed in DC a few hours later, I snacked on some spelt pretzels while I waited for Jon and his coworkers to land.  Then it was off to the hotel to drop our bags and on to dinner!

Jon and I were desperate to get into the heart of the action and see the sights, but being in a new city we weren’t quite sure where to get some food first.  So, we walked around the area where we’re staying for a little while and spotted this cute little Thai restaurant.  It had us at Sawat-dee (hello in Thai).

If the traditional Thai greeting when we walked in the door didn’t charm us, then the egg rolls, cashew tofu, and sweet little Thai waitresses picked up the slack.  We were enamored.

Highlight of the night: Jon and I ordered the same dish, but I substituted tofu for chicken.  In the end we realized that Jon had been served tofu as well, and he didn’t even realize it until 75% of his food was gone!  We couldn’t tell my looking at it because it was fried, and apparently he couldn’t taste the difference. ha!

After dinner, we took the bus and metro down to Capitol Hill.  We strolled around, taking in the beauty of everything all lit up and taking pictures like we actually thought they would be good without at tripod.

freezing my tail off while waiting for the train

a fuzzy Washington Monument

hello there Abe

hello there Mister Obama

We were exhausted by the time we were ready to head back to the hotel, so we decided to hitch a ride in a cab.  We had a crazy funny cab driver from India with an awesome accent who we found to be rather entertaining.  That is until he drove off without giving us correct change, leaving us $10 short!  What was that I was saying about friendly people…

I kid, I kid.

Anyway, that’s the long and short of day 1 in DC!  Day 2 was a bit more eventful and definitely better for photo opps.  I’ll be back tomorrow with the details:)

Jon will be in meetings all day tomorrow, so I’m thinking I’ll head over to Alexandria (Old Town) to explore a little bit.  I was quite taken with it’s quaintness when we passed through on our way from the airport.  Actually, it might be better if I didn’t go there – I don’t think I’m ever gonna want to leave!

See ya tomorrow!

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