Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Bakers Dozen: Cupcake Review


While traveling, I made it a point to try as many cupcake places as possible and in 10 months, I visited 13 different bakeries & some were repeat offenders! ;) I even obtained the "Bakers Dozen" badge on Foursquare...times 5, which means I've checked in to TWENTY different bakeries, so I say I've done my research!!

We started off the year in New York City which is where I experienced my first and fourth bakeries, Crumbs and Magnolia Bakery! Crumbs has a fun atmosphere with oversized cupcakes & I enjoyed a "Super Bowl special" for my chosen treat. It was a good cupcake overall, large & a bit more of a novelty item than a flavor-rich cupcake, but it was definitely good! At Magnolia bakery I found that the cupcake was the perfect size and it had the perfect amount of frosting as well! While I wasn't that impressed with the cake (it was just a little too crumbly for my liking), the cream cheese frosting was SUPERB!

The next cupcake shop was my least favorite of them all and as I was really excited because of the hype by locals, I was let down completely by the actual cupcakes. I had a Guinness cupcake and a s'more cupcake at The Flying Cupcake in Indianapolis, IN, and had high expectations for two flavors that I LOVE...and no only were the flavors lacking, but the cake was not good at all. The positives were, this bakery goes "outside the box" with their flavors & had a good cake to frosting ratio, but honestly...that was about it. Another one of my least favorites was Just Cupcakes in Virginia Beach, VA...it really was just not good. The cake was very dry and the flavor of the buttercream frosting was too rich, not a good combo. Maybe I just got a bad batch...

Next up was Sprinkles, "The Original Cupcake Bakery". While I give major props to Candace Nelson, founder of Sprinkles, because without her...I probably wouldn't have been able to write this post, I have to say that while her cupcakes are good, very good...they weren't my favorite. The cupcakes had great cake to frosting ratio and good flavor, the cake was barely moist enough, because I really love a moist cake and the frosting was good but I felt as though it was too creamy of frosting, I like mine a little lighter. Overall, it was a good cupcake, just not my personal favorite.

Moving onto one of the most famous cupcake shops, Georgetown Cupcake in Washington, DC...more widely known from their television show, DC Cupcakes! And again, while these cupcakes were good, they were not a favorite of mine. I found the cake to be very dense and the frosting to be very thick and too sweet. When I choose a cupcake, I do so because I want a light, yet flavorful treat in a small portion, and this was just far too much for my palate. I do have to compliment them on their 'hibiscus mango' cupcake (a seasonal option), even though it was still too dense for me, the flavors were so original! However, my co-worker who enjoys a more strong flavor found this bakery to be one of his favorites. Just personal preference!

Sugar Mountain Bake Shoppe in Rochester, NY, was our next stop and I have to say, I'm not sure I can fairly judge this bakery...as when I arrived I was forced to choose a flavor I wouldn't normally choose due to the fact that they are a bakery that, once a flavor is gone...it's gone for the day. I chose the tiramisu cupcake because while I prefer a simple chocolate with vanilla frosting, I do love me some coffee & chocolate! Again, this cupcake was too dense & rich for me and I was unimpressed with the texture of the cake, it seemed a bit overdone...and I'm not a huge fan of filled cupcakes in general. The atmosphere is really unique here, as the bakery is placed in a house with a small cafe & the employees were super friendly and upbeat!

Going with the theme of "too rich" I'll add another to the list, *ndulge cupcake boutique in State College, PA. Again, these cupcakes were filled, therefore making them a bit too sweet for me, flavors were good but this was the first time I couldn't even finish one cupcake! I had the peanut butter cup, by recommendation of the employee in the bakery and it was good, I do like peanut butter, but my goodness...just too much.

A last minute stop at Gigi's Cupcakes in Lexington, KY, made me a believer in mass chain cupcake shops! The cake was good, the frosting was good...although a bit over the top, they'd be better with less frosting! However, overall the cupcake was pretty tasty! I do have to say, the girl that was currently working at the one I went to seemed very uninterested in being there & tried shoving several small samples at me to "get rid of them," makes the experience just a little less special.

After doing some research and finding the website listing "Best Cupcake Bakeries" by National Geographic, I sought out a couple bakeries on the list! First up was Molly's Cupcakes in Chicago, IL! I tried the infamous cake batter cupcake (which I ate, knowing it was filled) and I have to honestly say I was a bit grossed out! I understand the concept of them putting the "cake batter" flavor filling in the center, but it straight up tasted like runny, raw, cake batter in the center of my beautiful, bright blue cupcake! It totally ruined the cupcake for me & had I not been so turned off I may have tried a different one...but I just couldn't after that. The next bakery I tried on the list was The Atlanta Cupcake Factory in Atlanta, GA. I tried this one right around Halloween, so they had a lot of unique "scary" flavors to their treats which was kind of cool. They didn't have many "normal" flavors at the time I visited (I'm a sucker for classic chocolate/vanilla frosting!) so I resorted to the sweet potato/bourbon cupcake & I wasn't much of a fan. The cupcake/frosting ratio was spot on, but the cake was a little dry and I wasn't crazy about the flavors. I just don't think I'm a huge fan of "crazy" flavors...again, personal preference. I was impressed with all the different unique flavors they had, I just wouldn't be the right person to try them all!

Now, I've saved my two favorite places for last! One of them is in my very backyard, which is both a good and bad thing (only bad for my waistline)! I had tried this place, as suggested by my sister & have visited it many times, before AND after sampling all these other great shops! It is called, Nona's Sweets and is located in Charlotte, NC! I have to admit, I think I like this and my favorite (coming up next) bakeries because their cupcakes taste the most like mine! Nona's cakes are a perfect texture and their frosting is light & delicious! I also like that they have a "cupcake bar," meaning you can mix & match cakes, frostings & toppings to whatever you feel like that day! My favorite is their classic chocolate cupcake with either their vanilla or almond frosting & I love adding sprinkles!

And to end this post is my very favorite cupcake bakery, it's a cupcakery! Smallcakes Cupcakery has locations in Kansas City, MO, and Atlanta, GA and I've been to both states to test out their DELICIOUS cupcakes!!! I have to say, every single time I've been to their bakery I've had a delicious cupcake! My first one was on St. Patrick's day & it was FREE because they often do sweet deals on Foursquare and Facebook!! If I lived in one of these areas, I would be in BIG TROUBLE because they have the MOST delicious cupcakes of any I've ever tasted...they might even be better than mine! ;) I've been back several times, mostly for my favorite one...pink chocolate! Combining my favorite flavors with one of my favorite colors...PINK & little pink sprinkles! I also tried their vanilla pink, birthday cupcake & key lime cupcake!

So, there it is...my "Bakers Dozen" review of 13 different cupcake bakeries! I hope I didn't make anyone upset by my opinion, I tried to be very honest & tactful! Personally, I'm a fan of a classic chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting...moist cake and creamy, yet light frosting, which is what I found in my two favorite shops! I hope y'all can check out some of these places and let me know what you think of them as well! ...until next time, MUAH!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Home Sweet Home


Hello from Charlotte!

Well, this is a little overdue, I know...I've been home just over two weeks, which in itself just sounds crazy! I'm very, VERY happy to be home & am LOVING the time with my family. I've been watching television shows & movies a bit more lately which makes me miss traveling a little, since I'll see places I've been or places on my "to visit" list!

Since being home I've unloaded all my things from my car to the spare bedroom at my sister and brother in law's house (which I am ever so grateful to them for letting me stay!). I've also had to reacclimate myself with the new location of the house, since it's on the opposite side of town & I've got myself all turned around (thank goodness for GPS on my iPhone). Also since being home I've been filling out LOTS of applications for marketing jobs which is probably one of the most tedious tasks in the world. BUT, I'm praying it will pay off and I'll land a great job (and if you're an employer, you should hire me...you won't regret it!) haha!

The most exciting news since returning back to the Carolinas, besides how much I'm loving the warm, sunny, weather...is that I got an early Christmas present!!! I've been waiting a long time for this gift & my former co-workers/travel partners can vouch for me when I say that I talked about it nearly every day, I finally got my KitchenAid stand mixer in the raspberry ice color! It arrived via my sister's mother in law (since the store I ordered it from made a mistake & switched my billing & shipping address, which sent it to MICHIGAN!) and it arrived just in time for Thanksgiving dinner! I made the dinner with the help of my sous chefs, my sister and her mother in law! My menu included, Martha Stewart's "perfect roast turkey" and let me tell you, it was delicious & worth the couple extra steps of brining and soaking cheesecloth with a butter/wine mixture throughout the roasting time. I also made sides, Bobby Flay's sourdough, wild mushroom & bacon dressing, Sunny Anderson's roasted brussel sprouts, Food Network magazine's mashed potatoes with herbs and cheese, gravy and popovers! Dessert I made included, a pumpkin cheesecake with a ginger snap crust, french apple pie with a crumb top and a classic pecan pie with vanilla ice cream and/or whipped cream (the ice cream and whipped cream were the only store bought items). In all honesty, two days in the kitchen were exhausting (I baked the desserts the day before as well as brined the turkey)! However, I very much enjoyed EVERY second of it! I will just plan a little better next year & accept more help from my sous chefs when they offer! :) Overall, everyone was very pleased with the meal, the desserts and the leftovers! I ended up making turkey tetrazzini with the turkey leftovers, which was really good too!

I also have made homemade brownies and peanut butter chocolate chip cookies with my new mixer & I'm gathering many more desserts and dishes to whip up in the beautiful kitchen accessory (that still needs a name by the way)!

Now that I've told you all about my food, you might be wondering about all my gripes about not being able to regularly attend the gym while on the road...and what I'm doing about that! Well, to be honest...not as much as I should, BUT I have gone a couple times! :) I signed up for a 5K race that is December 3rd, and as I type this I realize that's next weekend (holy crap!) I've been to the gym a few times and have gone on a couple runs outside as well as played tennis with my brother in law once! Now that I have a break in the holidays, I am making a commitment to start to go to the gym regularly as well as start planning my meals!!!

Well, that's pretty much all I have for now but I'm going to try & update something interesting at least once a week...we'll see how well I do with that! ;)

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend and have a blessed little break before Christmas! Until next time...muah!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Where I've Been - One Month Left


Hello AGAIN from Columbus, OH. Pretty sure this has been my most frequented location of tour...and let me check - Yep, according to foursquare it has been (47 check-ins here to be exact).

Well, I only have ONE MONTH left of tour now, which is so stinking crazy! And to be precise, I have 29 days until I'm on a plane back "home" (which is going to be NC at this time) and because we have to drop the vehicle/trailer off in Wisconsin & finish up work in Chicago before we fly home...technically I only have 25 days left of actual "event" work. I cannot believe that it's almost been a year & that I've been living out of hotels for almost ten months now. Ha.

I could officially do this at the very end of tour, but I feel like writing about it now, the "best & worst" of Map Team 1 (aka Team Jetfire) from my perspective & a review of the last 9+ months.

We've been to 23 states, driven approximately 39,000 miles...visited countless cities, (I) made it to 12 MLB stadiums and 2 Spring Training stadiums. Our most common event to do in our "free time" is shopping, whether it was just window shopping or actual shopping, we found ourselves in a mall in basically every city that had one. My favorite cities were, Orlando (probably because it was right after spending a MONTH in Indianapolis in February...), Kansas City, State College, PA & Milwaukee (disclaimer: when we visited these cities, the weather was PERFECT & usually the events were fun, which had to do with my "decision" on this). My least favorite cities were; Annapolis, Maryland...rude people, nothing special to look at or do, Wheeling, WV - terrible, just terrible...oh & I also disliked the entire state of New Jersey.

Let's talk food: Best cupcake (and we tried SEVERAL) goes to Smallcakes Cupcakery in Kansas City, which is also where I had the best BBQ of my LIFE...at Oklahoma Joes! Best Brazilian place (we tried a couple) was at Brazil Grill in NYC on 8th & 48th, most of the staff spoke Portuguese & according to Michelle, the food was pretty authentic! We had a running theme of finding "fro-yo" in places & basically Menchie's has the best. And the best brew I tried along the way (didn't have much of an opportunity for this) was White Beer from Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee.

While at work: My favorite event to work as far as the "cool-factor" goes, was probably the Jets/Giants Draft Party at New Meadowlands Stadium (aka MetLife Stadium). While I enjoyed working NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, PGA, LPGA, NCAA & Minor League Baseball events...that one really stuck out since I actually got to go on the field (first time EVER on an NFL field) and be a part of the action, it was really fun! The most interesting event has to go to the Lunar New Year event in NYC, our very first event! It was SO different than any other event we worked & will forever stick out in my mind like, yeah...I just did that (along with driving a SUV & trailer through Manhattan!) Another cool event was the series of Droid Scavenger Hunts we did for the launch of the Samsung Charge...it was really fun to be a part of something so interesting & viral-marketing driven! The only "celebrities" I saw/met were, Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns while in Indianapolis, Jack Nicklaus in Dublin, OH and I got to meet Dan Mead, President and CEO of Verizon Wireless, while at State College, PA.

While at play: My favorite thing we did on our day off is when Kevin & I were able to go to Universal Studios in Orlando to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! I have a whole blog post about it back in March, if you haven't read it...you should. :) I also very much enjoyed going to sporting events, I got to see baseball games at Yankee Stadium in New York, Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, PNC Park in Pittsburgh, and Miller Park in Milwaukee as well as the Braves vs Tigers spring training game at the ESPN, Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, FL! And just recently I was able to watch the Red Wings take on the Blackhawks in a pre-season game in Chicago at the United Center!

The most beautiful place we went would have to be Traverse City, Michigan, and I would say it's because I'm biased...but looking back on all the places, that really was the most beautiful in my opinion. It also had my favorite hotel we stayed at...the Great Wolf Lodge, which we stayed at by force, due to a complete sell-out of hotels for the National Cherry Festival!

I think that pretty much sums it up for now, hopefully I can do a more complete overview with some exciting stuff to throw in from these next 25 days! Hope this posts finds you all well, MUAH!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Back in Black


Hey y'all! I'm currently in Lexington, KY (again). In the past three weeks I have been to nine different states: Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland! Crazy stuff. Just about seven weeks left of tour!

So, you might think that my blog post is going to be about AC/DC or something...but you're wrong. It has to do with my wardrobe! Back in college, when I gained a substantial amount of weight, I didn't want to wear anything but black, because it was "slimming" and it would hide all that extra weight I was carrying around. So, that's basically what I wore, mostly black with some items having a splash of color or a little polkadot action. After I started to lose weight, I rediscovered the rainbow of colors I was missing out on, I wasn't afraid to draw attention to myself anymore. Now, since I've been on tour...you can't exactly fit a wide variety of clothing unless you want three suitcases (like some people I know, eh-hem, lol). But for me, it's more, less is more while I'm traveling, so I packed a lot of basics but still tried to keep a variety of colors & styles for the days that I wasn't in "uniform".

The last three months of this tour have been brutal on me, I got used to the waking up in a different city every day & the sporadic schedule changes, but man...I wasn't prepared for 70 hour work weeks & a schedule so unpredictable I don't know where I'm going in THREE DAYS! I knew before I started this tour that I liked structured flexibility, and to many of you that might be an oxymoron but it makes perfect sense to me. Structured flexibility is constant change with a plan...I like to plan, I like lists & a constant but I also like things to change to keep things interesting. So, when I was no longer in control of anything in my life (other than maintaining a relationship with God), I have kind of "let myself go". Which brings me to the fact that I'm "back in black" when it comes to my wardrobe!

I feel a little disheveled & haggard lately, my hair hates me for switching up hotels every few days, the climate changes (going from Maryland to Alabama) are awful on my skin & the constant on the go, or don't know where I'm going causes stress that is also not helping my skin or those giant circles under my eyes! Haha. Let's not mention the fact that there seem to be no L.A. Fitness locations in the cities we go to & the fact that I'm just too tired or lazy to work out lately & my eating habits are extremely difficult to manage out on the road.

I think I'm writing this blog post because I have gained some weight since being on tour & I've seen myself go back to some of my old ways of wearing black more often, being totally uncomfortable just sitting in front of people & being disgusted with myself when I look in the mirror and I'm TERRIFIED I'm going to let myself slip back into that downward spiral that I was in three years ago! All those factors about my current lifestyle have made it more difficult for me to maintain or lose weight, but they are also excuses & I need to make sure I'm not slipping back into my old ways on account of me feeling sorry for myself. And that brings me to the declaration that things need to change in my life, I have seven weeks left of tour & I want to enjoy it! I want to spend the next seven weeks happy to take pictures with Kevin & Michelle & feel good about myself! So, there it is...now you know, I'm struggling but I will come out of this tour feeling good about myself!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

From Here to There and Everywhere!


Hello from the car (that’s a first)! On our way from Annapolis, MD to Prattville, AL with a stop in Knoxville, TN tonight. Now, your first thought if you know me is…Knoxville, TN!? Like University of Tennessee country…Neyland Stadium!!! YUP! When I visited Tennessee back when I was a teenager, I totally fell in love with everything, the people, the schools, the football and the state as a whole & I’m still in love. UT is my second favorite college…right after my Alma Mater of course, Western Michigan University! So needless to say, I am STOKED about passing through Knoxville!

Now, let’s talk about Annapolis, MD. If I had to describe this city in one word it would be…rude. I swear to you, everyone I met that was from Annapolis acted as though they had GIANT stick up their butt! Ugh, what a way to live! But seriously, I did not meet one nice person there unless they weren’t FROM Annapolis! But, it officially wins the award for the rudest, most unfriendly people in all of the cities I’ve traveled to so far. A close second would be all of New Jersey, but to be fair…I’ve only been in the Carlstadt/East Rutherford areas mostly…but besides their people, their road systems SUCK…no left turns!? What is a JUG HANDLE!? I’m excited to be heading South for some southern hospitality, that’s for sure!

We’re going to be in the South for a couple weeks, we’re heading to work the LPGA Golf Tournament in Prattville, AL, and after that we’re doing a couple University of Kentucky football games. I’ll be experiencing fall in the South for the first time, which is almost a bummer because fall in the Midwest is my favorite part! I know that working at college football games is going to bring back a rush of nostalgic memories of being at WMU with my best friends in the whole wide world! Ahh, just thinking about it makes me miss those days!

Speaking of sports, we’re coming to my favorite part of the year! This is when baseball season is serious business, football season is underway & hockey is about to start! It’s even better when the Tigers look like they’re headed to the post season (magic number is 7!!), the Lions had a great pre-season & won their first game (even though they turned into the typical Lions & made the end of the game pretty nerve-wracking!?) AND the Red Wings may have had some crucial changes due to retirements, but we still have a solid program that is going to bring it home this year! Man, I love being a Detroit sports fan! I’m a fan win or lose, but when they’re winning it’s a whole lot more fun! I’m really pumped about the Tigers, seems they really have their pitching down which is what we’ve been missing for a while & I couldn’t be happier (okay, maybe if we had the Phillies’ record, but still).

Well, that’s kind of an update on my life lately…I would update you with the rest of the month, but out schedule isn’t posted yet! I never realized how much of a planner I was until I live my life week by week & sometimes don’t even know four days in advance what state I’ll be in!! Talk about anxiety…ha, I guess it’s helped me manage the fact that I’m no longer in control of ANY part of my life! And guess what…tour is almost over! Saturday will officially be our 8-month mark, meaning only two months left! Crazy.

I miss all my friends & family back home & am so blessed I’m able to have them as long-distance support when I need it! Until next time…MUAH!

::Update:: Made it to Alabama & am staying in an INTERESTING hotel...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Help is on the Way!

Hello from Milwaukee, WI.

You know the saying, "you don't know what you have until you lose it?" Well, while I've been on tour I've realized something about myself & it makes me kind of sad. I didn't know how much I WASN'T doing until I couldn't do it. For instance, Michelle & I have been visiting churches every Sunday we can and a common theme from church to church is "small groups" "outreach groups" "community involvement", etc. Obviously in my state of nomad-ness I cannot become a part of any of these things & it makes me realize how much I WANT to be a part of them & it also makes me think, why on EARTH was I not a part of these things before I started this job? Now, to defend myself specifically with church...I've grown a lot in the last couple years & just recently have felt the urge & desire to join these types of groups. And actually before I moved from Michigan I started the process of joining the church, wanting to get involved with a small group, etc...but then I moved to NC where I worked retail & usually worked Sundays & relied on the podcasts of Lake Center Bible Church in Portage, MI for my Sunday service since I hadn't found a new home church yet. But that aside, I should have been doing more & not just in the church!

How many times have you thought to yourself, "I want to volunteer" or "I wish I could make a difference in someone's life"? Personally, I think that a lot, but then the excuses start pouring in...I don't have money to give to people, I hardly have enough time to get my own personal things done, what if I fail at it? Do you know how much you can do with just your TIME that doesn't involve money at all? And time, if that is your excuse...I challenge you to go about your natural course of your week, but count how much of your precious TIME you spend on your smartphone, computer, tablet or whatever device you use or how much television you watch or if you sleep more than 8hr a night, how much time you sleep...THEN tell me you don't have enough time. If you're a business owner, perhaps you could donate your services or items once a week to a special cause, every little bit can help! And the ever-present issue in any human being's life, "what if I fail at it!" ...trust me, you won't fail. While I was in college I participated in the Big Brothers, Big Sister's program & after I had to quit because of time & money reasons, I felt like a failure...but I can guarantee you that the year I spent with my little, the very small amount of time I spent with her, was an escape, a fun adventure & moments she will remember for a long time. Same with Habitat for Humanity, I helped build someone's HOME, a home they will live in for a long time...and walks/runs to benefit cancer research, I made a difference in SOMEONE's life.

I can't do much while I'm on the road, but the first thing I plan on doing when I'm in a steady place again is volunteer my time, join a church & get involved, put a smile on someone's face & make someone's day better. If you're too shy to do something for a stranger, start with your own family! Go visit an elderly relative that doesn't get visitors often, sit & talk with them, play games or offer to do chores & run errands with/for them. Every LITTLE thing helps & I encourage you to go out TODAY & do something for someone else!

August 3, 2011 - Addition

Per feedback from some of my readers...this post was in no way intended to make you feel bad, but if it did make you feel bad maybe you should think about why it made you feel bad & decide what to do about it! :) Also, as I was listening to KLove, a christian radio station available online (http://www.klove.com/) yesterday before work they were talking about a current ministry "Water of Life" that provides families in Rwanda with water filters which is CRUCIAL for life there. I was interested in the ministry to begin with, but it was after the radio show host said, "if you've been wanting to do something, to help out, to make a difference & you don't have the time, perhaps you have the means to monetarily donate to this cause" that I was called to read further into this charity. It is a beautiful thing that is happening here & I encourage you all to take a look at their website & see what wonderful things are taking place! http://www.klove.com/ministry/featured.aspx

Love y'all! Muah!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Weigh Station Ahead, Must Exit...Or Else!


OMGOODNESS. It's a blog entry! It's been over three months since my last post and for that I am SO SORRY! I've been through a lot in the last three months, I've been to about 15 new cities, met an amazing man, no longer talk to that amazing man, got to go to Michigan for a few weeks for work AND play, had fun at some events & pretty much let work take over my life oh & did I mention I gained 12 lbs! So, as best I can, I'll give you the rundown without making this too long...and here it goes.

After we left Springfield our schedule began to pick up & all of the sudden the last month has been brutal, I'm happy to work...I mean, no better job security but goodness, it has increased my stress level quite a bit, forcing little tweaks & changes to our team and routines to best accommodate the longer hours & the amount of days between our day off. So far this month I've had two days off, definitely looking forward to next week when we should have two! I can finally make a spa appointment & relax!

Okay, so I met an amazing guy on a Christian dating website. I had kind of sworn away dating sites as I really feel they just aren't for me, but recent success on this site by a friend convinced me to give it a go. So, this man is awesome, everything I'm looking for...right? Well, he lives in Phoenix, AZ...and although I travel 24/7, I unfortunately haven't made it any further West than Kansas City, MO. So, after a couple months of talking, texting & regular Skype dates we decided to meet while I was headed home to Michigan for my niece's 1st birthday party. I'll spare you all the details, but we had a fairytale weekend, one of the best I've ever had but inevitably he had to fly back to Arizona & I had to fly back to Dublin, OH, which is where our event was. After a couple weeks we both felt the tug of "long distance blues" and seeing as how we didn't have the most solid of foundations built on a virtual relationship we decided to put things on hold & will reevaluate once my tour is over & when we find out what both of our futures hold. So, that is that, I'm fully confident that if God wants us to be together, we will be together, if not...He has something better in store for the both of us! Sometimes it isn't the easiest thing to just let go & trust that God will take care of us, but it is always the best decision!

So, not only did I get to go home for a few days to see my family & some friends...but I also got to go back to Michigan AGAIN, this time for work! We had an event cancel, so we actually got to spend a couple days in Kalamazoo, doing guerrilla work & then we headed up to Traverse City for the National Cherry Festival. The festival was nice & the weather COULD NOT have been better, but a little drama & 10 days of LONG hours...we were all ready to leave Michigan & wouldn't be sad if we didn't see a cherry for a while!

Well, since we've gotten so busy I've been making every excuse in the book not to exercise, not to count my WW points & obviously not to blog! This all came to a crashing halt while in State College, PA (VERY nice area btw) when I saw the sign, "weigh station ahead". Now, obviously this sign on the highway wasn't directed at me, but when I saw it, I knew what I had to do & after eating too many rolls (with that amazing cinnamon butter) at Texas Roadhouse for dinner & treating myself to an ice cream at the infamous Berkey Creamery, I decided to face the scale & weigh in. The receptionist literally said, "it says you're up 12 pounds, could this be a mistake?" I looked at her & replied, "no, it's possible." Now, I think all the crap I ate the night before could have been part of the issue & the fact that I wore jeans when I usually wear lighter clothing...but regardless, it's a gain & I'm not okay with that. You think that would be a nice wake up call though, right? Well, goodness...it's SO difficult to get back on track once you've been off for so long & not even that...but all your resources were left at the last hotel! Haha. My goal for this month & next is to lose those pounds again and to get back under my lowest weight & with determination I know I can do it!

So, there it is...that sums up a lot of the last three months of my life. I'm sorry I've been such a blogger delinquent, I promise I won't let it happen again. It's going to be my goal to update my blog at least once a week to keep y'all informed on my ever-changing life. Plus, it feels good to be back! Hope this post finds you well, I missed ya! Until next time...MUAH!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hi, I'm a Mac...


Hello from Springfield, MO.

Last week we were in Chicago for the World's Largest 8k race...the Shamrock Shuffle! It was pretty exciting, but definitely made me jealous that I wasn't running it!! It's a race I'll keep in mind for the future though...anything with beer at the finish line is a win in my book! I even found a cute sticker at the race that says, "Will Run for Beer" ...pretty much sums up why I run. Well, that & my love for cupcakes & ice cream...and not to mention runners are awesome. :)

So, while in Chicago I made an investment purchase...I BOUGHT A MAC! I definitely needed an upgrade on my computer, although I have to say my Dell PC got me through almost 7 years with nearly no problems...but it was very outdated & SLOW. Anyway, I made the decision to buy a Mac back in January during training, but decided to hold off so I could save a little money, do some research & make sure it was the right purchase for me...three months later I own a 15-inch MacBook Pro and I LOVE IT so far! I haven't done a whole lot on it yet...and certain things I'm still clueless about, but I love learning new things!

One awesome feature is in iPhoto there is a thing called, "faces" where it recognizes faces in ALL your photos...so for the last two days I've been tagging faces so I can search for photos of all my friends by their own face folder (for example, if I chose "Megan Collins" it would open a folder that had all the photos that I'm tagged in!) There are so many cool things, but like I said, I'm just learning, I can't wait to be a Mac Pro myself!

Other than that little diddy...I haven't had anything too exciting going on. Our event in Missouri is the "Rockin' Ribs BBQ Festival" at the Bass Pro Shop! I'm excited because I'm sure there will be some meat eating fun times ahead! Springfield is Kevin's hometown...so we have had the privilege of meeting his mom, great aunt, grandma, sister & some friends and his mom made us a DELICIOUS feast of Korean food while his grandma made us an array of blueberry desserts! It's nice to have a home cooked meal, that's for sure...not to mention it was SO YUM.

As far as running goes...I'm on day 6/100! I took the two days off that we worked 10+ hours last week (and I don't count those days) so I look forward to adding a few more days on before the event this weekend. I'm still struggling a bit with food though, so many good choices out there & by good I mean HORRIBLE for you...but tasty. I need to really focus on practicing self control!!!

That was just a quick update on my life...hope this post find's y'all well. Hopefully next time I'll have something more exciting to talk about! :) Until then, love you! Muah!

Monday, April 4, 2011

100 Days of Running


Hello from Cleveland!

So, as summer approaches, I'm like any girl...I think about shorts, tank tops, swimsuits, etc. All that is great...warmer weather, sunshine & tans, but it also means more visible skin! Last year at this time I was training for a half marathon & sprint triathlon and I've never been in better shape! (My photo is after I finished my triathlon in August 2010 with my reward: Oberon mini keg!) This year I'm traveling the U.S. with a fairly unpredictable schedule, changing climates & uncertainty of a gym in the area. Thankfully, most hotels at least have at least a treadmill in their "gym" and my team also signed up for an LA Fitness membership & have full access to their gym when we're in an area where they have one.

However, as you can imagine it is pretty easy to get side tracked, to lose focus when your life is so sporadic. Eating is a huge struggle for a couple reasons, location, limited use of the car, agreeing with two other co-workers, etc. But, I'm done making excuses...I want to reach my goals & I'm going to do what it takes to get there! So I've created this challenge to myself...and I'm determined to stick to it!! So, here is the deal:

My goal is to do 100 days of running in a row. Here are my rules...

1. Minimum distance is .5 miles
2. If I miss a day, my count starts back at one
3. The allowance for a missed day are
  • Drive day of up to 10 hours
  • Work day of up to 10 hours
  • Injury
I made this goal up two days ago...and already missed running yesterday, so I'm starting over again today & I did run! Tomorrow is a long work day, so I'm off the hook...unless I feel like it when I get back to the hotel. If I don't mess up, this goal will bring me to mid-July & will hopefully kickstart a weight loss spree! Lately I've been hovering around the same weight, still my lowest ever...but I need to break out of this funk. I know if I count my Points+ and exercise, I can make it happen. I'm hoping that even though my life is a giant road trip right now, I can still find a race or two to do this year! Our next event is actually the Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago & although I wish I could run it, I'm happy to be working it & cheering on my good friend Shelly!!! I'm keeping my eyes out for a race that fits my schedule!

Speaking of Weight Watchers...I went to a meeting today for the first time in a MONTH!! I actually only had a small gain which I was thankful for, but the leader of the meeting was hilarious! It was my first meeting with a male leader & although I didn't know his story, I could tell by other comments & his dedication to the program he had a success story! One woman had a 1.6 lb loss & a total of 248 lbs loss & another member made his 100 lb milestone at the meeting! Even though I don't know these people, their stories are extremely inspirational!! Also, the meeting coincidentally was based around the Walk It 5K Challenge...and the final quote of the meeting really spoke to me in my new goal. It was a quote by Jim Rohn, "Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going." So, I hope I've encouraged y'all to make a goal of your own & set rules that get you motivated to form a habit that keeps you going! Until next time...MUAH! <3

Thursday, March 31, 2011

BEST.WEEK...EVER!



Hello from Cleveland, OH. (Obviously I was elsewhere for my BWE)

As you know from my last couple posts I was in Orlando, FL last week...Best.Week.EVER. Let me tell you about it.

It started off with beautiful weather, warm & sunny! And as my last blog post indicated I went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! If you didn't read my last post & want to know all about that...please read it, it's worth it...it was EPIC. While donning a tank top through the park I started to get a tan which I worked on throughout the week while doing different events! :)

The next day was a guerrilla marketing day which my team & I promptly decided the beach would be a perfect place to work! So we headed to the Tampa area and found ourselves at Clearwater which was a gorgeous white sand beach! It was a beautifully warm day and full of people enjoying the sunshine! After we finished working we relaxed on the beach for a little while before we met up with my friend Jess & one of her friends! It was awesome to meet up with them, even though we missed the sunset by less than a minute due to parking :/ We enjoyed a couple margaritas, some amazing food & fresh air off the ocean! I can't wait to go back to spend more time with Jess...and Michelle & I have even considered taking up residence in the area as well!

While in Orlando...it wasn't ALL a vacation, we actually did work, I promise! Our event was the International CTIA Wireless Conference which was very cool! The product we were promoting was a device by Sony Ericsson called the Experia Play. Now, I'm not a gamer or anything but even I thought the device was pretty awesome. It is a smart phone that runs on Gingerbread (the latest version of Google's Android platform) and is also a PlayStation certified device! It looks like a regular phone with a slide out keyboard which is actually a PlayStation controller! There will be games available for download on the Android market that you can play right on your smart phone...my favorite was Madden '11...FIFA is coming soon!! The rest of the conference was cool as well, we got to see the latest in wireless technology including 3D phones, new 4G phones & the newest Samsung Galaxy tablets. That was just the tip of the iceberg too, there was SO much going on there I didn't even get to see it all. The event lasted three days & after each day I relaxed at the pool & took advantage of the weather and ran a couple miles in shorts and a tshirt!!

Our last day in Orlando was a day off & oh how amazing it was! It started off by me renting a car from Enterprise & when I made my reservation I requested an American made car, which apparently the two men at the office found funny. They asked where I was heading & I told them Lakeland so they assumed I wanted an American car because Lakeland is a 'country' area & I wanted to fit in...but it is really because American cars are better. :) They were about to give me a Chevy Impala when I inquired about the Dodge Challenger out front & both were surprised that that was the car I wanted...but BOY did I want that car & I got it! So I headed out to Lakeland to visit Joker Marchent Stadium, even though the Tigers weren't playing there that day, I just wanted to check out the field. While on the highway I got PLENTY of looks in my sweet car while I was jamming to some music, my favorite songs to hear was Keri Hilson's "Pretty Girl Rock" and Eminem's "Lose Yourself"...awesome songs to rock out to! As soon as I parked my car a man came out from the field & I thought for sure he was going to tell me I couldn't park there but he just gave me a smile & said, "Nice car"...I returned the smile & just said, "Thanks"...I mean, no one needed to know it was rented, right? (I also got several other compliments on my car...it might be a good investment for me in the near future!) So I walked around the park, took some photos & then headed off to Kissimmee where I was ready for a baseball game!

I went to Champion Stadium at ESPN's Wide World of Sports for a Tiger's game against the Atlanta Braves, which just so happen to be my favorite two teams! As soon as I walked into the stadium I could smell baseball, between the grass, hot dogs, beer & a faint smell of leather...I was right where I needed to be! I got myself a PBR & found my seat next to a wonderful old man from Michigan, transplanted to Orlando. He & I had great conversations about Kalamazoo, Detroit & of course the Tigers as he used to be in the farm system back in the day & because of Willie Horton, didn't make it on the team! On my other side were a couple guys, one who used to play college baseball & described how much he missed the game which brought me to miss playing ball too. I was on cloud 9 though with PBR in hand, the sun going down & baseball in my sight...it definitely made for an awesome end to an awesome week. The Tigers lost the game and actually didn't play all that well, but they were also finalizing their rotation & line up...I'm not worried.

If that wasn't a great ending...being able to spend a day and a half in Charlotte was! As we were heading back to the Midwest, our half way point just happened to be in Charlotte!! So, Kevin & Michelle dropped me off & I spent some much needed family time with Ellie, Stef, Nick & Gabbers. As soon as I got in Nick had the Red Wings game taped & a Bell's beer chilling in the fridge, just like before! I also got to see Stef & Nick's new house and my/Linda's new bedroom (for when I'm done with the tour)...I LOVE IT! I was sad to leave, but very happy to see my little Boo-Boo!!!! Our first event was a Blue Jackets game in Columbus & I was also able to meet up with my bud Shulack while there for a few days which was awesome, tomorrow's event is the Cleveland Indian's opening day game...MORE BASEBALL!!! <3

Overall, you put that mix of things together & I look at my life & just see how amazingly blessed I am! It's a little early in the tour to say it was the best week of the whole tour, I think it's my goal to top it in the next eight months!! :)

As I sit here watching baseball, enjoying an Oberon...I hope y'all have your BEST.WEEK.EVER soon! Muah!

P.S. A special shout out to my dear friend Jess Waugh...CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR ENGAGEMENT!!!! <3 I can't wait for the wedding!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mischief Managed


This blog post is dedicated purely to my experience at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! As you may have noticed from my blog name, I'm a little bit of a fan...okay, kind of a big fan.

Now, I'll start off by telling you that I'm not going to give away all the intimate details...because I don't want to "ruin" it for Harry Potter fans that haven't been able to make it there yet (but in all honesty, you can't ruin it because it's that amazing).

So, thankfully I have a travel bud that shares my love for Harry Potter! I mean, it would have been fun anyway...but being able to gush & squeal in excitement with someone that is equally as excited makes it amazing. So Kevin & I set out for a day of adventure at the Islands of Adventure in Orlando where we had one of the BEST DAYS EVER! As we raced through the park, trying to find our way to Hogwarts the anticipation was KILLING me and once I saw with my own two eyes that magnificent castle on the top of the hill...it was all over, chills up & down my whole body! We walked through the gates of Hogsmeade Village with the Hogwarts Express to my right & the familiar shops & scenes from the books & movies ahead of me, I was in awe that this was happening in real life.

Now, for all of you skeptics that think I'm a HUGE NERD, you may be right...but I don't care, there were MANY other people like me that were just as or more excited than I was! Think about it though...think back to a book series you may have read as a child/teen or a movie or show that you watched often...imagine it coming to LIFE and being able to walk down the streets that you read about & wondered what it would be like...it was MAGICAL!

We were informed we should get in line for "Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey," located inside of the Hogwarts Castle that is actually a simulation ride that takes you through a collaboration of events that go along with the book series. The line took almost two hours to get through, but it was more than worth it. Hint: For those of you that plan to visit, a couple suggestions is to not bring a bag, you have to lock all bags up & it makes your wait shorter if you don't have one. Second suggestion is to go in the single rider lane even if you're not a single rider because you can't really see the person you're next to during the ride, so unless you want the ride photo of the 2-4 of you in a row, then reduce your time by doing the single rider lane.

Once you move past the outdoor waiting & into the castle YOUR LIFE WILL CHANGE. Again, I'm not going to give away the details, but I kid you not when I say it made me believe dreams come true & I will probably have to put that in the top 3 best life events ever. I will say this, there are talking portraits...and not cheesy screens that move a little & sound comes out of a speaker...but these looked like REAL portraits & they moved in & out of the frames & talked...it again was just magical. The rest of the castle/line is awesome too so many little details JUST as I imagined they would look & sound from the books were right in front of me! I kept squealing in excitement! At one point I turned to Kevin & said, "Gosh, I feel like such a nerd...I'm just SO excited!" and the guy in front of me that was at least my age or older turned around & said, "It's okay, I think everyone else around you feels the same way!" Haha.

The actual ride is AWESOME...so many elements of the books & movies rolled into one ride! It's no secret that the ride is a simulation of you riding on a broomstick, so I'll tell you that much. It's a thrill dodging obstacles & seeing characters & scenes from the books...especially being on the Quidditch pitch, SO COOL! The photo at the end came out hilarious because they took it during a part that freaked me out...spiders, enough said. Not only was the ride cool because of it being Harry Potter dreams come true...but the way it was designed is just amazing to me, like...whoever made that ride is the coolest, most talented person on earth. I was on such a high when I got off the ride, Kevin & I wanted so badly to discuss back & forth each piece of the ride but we were still trying to take it all in! We knew exactly what we needed...Butterbeer.

So after the ride we got ourselves an ice cold Butterbeer & waited in line to get into Olivanders wand shop! Butterbeer is a mix between rootbeer & cream soda, topped with a butterscotch cream foam, it came in two variations, ice cold & frozen...for the record I liked the regular one better over the frozen, but I'm glad I tried both. Olivanders is very cool as well, they do a "wand selection ceremony" & then your can roam the shop which is strategically a gift shop. We also stopped in Honeydukes Sweetshop & I got some red & black licorice (yes, I know...I think I'm alone when I say I like black licorice...it's okay.), Zonko's Joke Shop is attached to Honeydukes, so we checked that out as well.

Kevin & I had lunch at The Three Broomsticks (enter squeal here!) where I tasted pumpkin juice for the first time...hands down, best beverage EVER. It tastes almost like apple juice with a pumpkin flavor to it! I recommend having it at the restaurant because you can buy it from the shops, but it's not as good from the bottle (and it's less expensive from the restaurant as well). The atmosphere of the pub is so cool too, make sure while you're eating that you keep your eyes open for little pieces of magic...like Dobby the house elf who literally brought tears to Kevin's eyes. And actually as you exit the restaurant you notice that it actually IS a pub & you can order beer...even their own brew the Hog's Head Brew! AMAZING.

We also rode the Dragon Challenge roller coaster which was fun. There weren't many Harry Potter elements to it, as it previously was the "Dueling Dragons" ride at the park. There is also a mini water ride, The Flight of the Hippogriff, but Kevin & I didn't want to wait in the line for that one. We saw pretty much everything else & visited a couple gift shops, then decided to head out to the other areas of the Islands of Adventure park...but ultimately came back to The Wizarding World because it was just that interesting.

In closing, I can't express enough the importance that ALL Harry Potter fans need to visit this place. Like I said before, it's like magic...it's dreams coming true...it's just amazing & if I won the lottery one thing I would do is pay for all the HP fans of the world to be able to go there & experience what I got to experience that day! I mean...talking portraits!!!! Hope y'all enjoyed this post, especially you HP fans out there! Muah! <3

Saturday, March 19, 2011

After Parties, Vegas Hopes & Eight States Later...


Hello from Orlando!

Last time I posted I was in Indianapolis, Indiana for the Big Ten Basketball tournament! That seems like ages ago even though it was less than a week! So, again...sad to report OSU swept the Big Ten tournament...the men played great as well & won. ANYWAY...the fun part was the Big Ten after party we were invited to! We weren't told what the appropriate dress code was for the event, so we played it safe & dressed up...and BOY, did we overdress!! We walked into a room full of people who probably had been in suits all week working for the tournament & were now all in jeans & their favorite team's tshirt! As Michelle & I walked through the room in our dresses & Kevin in his stylin' outfit...we definitely turned some heads! LOL. Overall the party turned out to be a blast! We hit the dance floor & had a lot of fun, but the OSU fans showed everyone up with the cutest little boy that was "break dancing" and an older, rather portly guy that was also breakin' it down! Both were very entertaining as were all the other dancers on the floor! I got to share a moment with some MSU fans as the band played Journey's, "Don't Stop Believin" and we all belted out the line, "just a city boy, born & raised in SOUTH DETROIT"! It definitely made me miss home, especially the good times it reminded me of with Mel & Maris (miss you girls!) I also got a chance to meet up with my friend Gina from High School who was in town for the tourney, so fun!!

After Indy we got word we were heading to LAS VEGAS! We thought it was too good to be true, but we headed West & planned a stop in Kansas City & one in Denver before we landed in Sin City. We had a great, successful day of marketing some of our new products to the folks of Kansas City & got to enjoy the gorgeous 70 degree, sunny weather while we worked! As we were about to head West to Denver we got a call that we were being re-routed to Orlando (see, it WAS too good to be true!) I was pretty bummed because I wanted to see Colorado & even more...one of my best friends from High School, Tory! We were both really disappointed that didn't work out, but that's my life these days...gotta go where the wind blows! So, off to Orlando it was!

We stayed the night in Nashville, which was St. Patrick's Day! We had been driving all day & planned to leave fairly early the next day, so I settled for a Guinness at the hotel bar instead of going into the city...but man, I need to spend some time there, Nashville is such a fun city, Tennessee in general is awesome, traveling through it was gorgeous! Overall, traveling from Indy to Orlando we passed through eight states! Craziness!

Another great thing about our recent travels is that I got to stop at three more baseball stadiums! Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Busch Stadium in St. Louis & Turner Field in Atlanta! The Braves are my second favorite baseball team so I was really pumped to stop there! So that brings my current total to eight stadiums on the road! Since we're in Florida & SO CLOSE to spring training...I'm really hoping we get a day off so I can go to a Tigers game, even if I don't get to visit Joker Marchant Stadium...any field will do for me to see my boys!

Well, this was just an update on my life on the road I suppose. Some of you are probably wondering why I didn't mention "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter"...that deserves a blog post of it's own, stay tuned. For now, love y'all! Muah!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Can't Get No...Satisfaction...


Hello again from Indianapolis! Last week was the Women's Big Ten Basketball Tournament...and sadly I have to report that Ohio State were the champions (I'm not discounting their hard work & skills, being from Michigan I'm NOT an Ohio State fan...understandable, right?). Next up is the Men's Big Ten Basketball Tournament this week, Thursday - Sunday...should be a bit more exciting, sadly...women's sports don't attract as many fans as men's.

Monday I was blessed with a visit from my parents!! I was so happy to see them, even though it's only been about three months since our last visit. We watched a couple movies together, shared a couple meals, had a few drinks & this morning went to breakfast before they had to go home. I was so happy to see them, yet so sad to see them leave...so was I satisfied with their visit or depressed because they left? As humans, adults, Americans...are we ever satisfied? It's a thought that has been brought to my attention after listening to a sermon from Mars Hill Church on Pastor Mark's sermon series on the book of Ecclesiastes 2:1-11, where he talks about Solomon & his attempt to find pleasure in all the gifts given to him by God & he was never satisfied.

I've thought at times I would be satisfied once I graduated college, once I found a great job that allowed me to use my skills and do what I've always wanted to do, once I found the perfect man for me & got married, had kids, owned our own home, etc. Or maybe I'll be satisfied when I lose 20 lbs...or better yet, when I get to my ultimate goal weight. As I've been through my weight loss journey, I've achieved so much...more than I ever intended, but after each achievement, it leaves me wanting more. I lost 40 lbs, but I still have more to go to get to my "goal"...but once I hit my goal, will I be satisfied? I have a great job that I love...but I can't help but think about the next steps, where will this job lead me?

I'm not saying it's a bad thing to have goals, I think goals are important! But sometimes, maybe we should sit back & appreciate what we've done so far, fully look at what we've accomplished and be happy and thankful that we've had the strength, knowledge and understanding to overcome what we have...and to thank the people that have helped us along the way!

Today as I indulged in a Starbuck's Java Chip Frappuccino with whipped cream I smiled for a couple different reasons. One, for the person that lead me to these delicious treats & the fun times we shared, two, for the fact that I probably did some serious damage to my Points+ account for today and three because I may have lost 40 lbs, finished multiple 5K races, a sprint triathlon and a half marathon in the last couple years...but I'm still able to enjoy certain things along my journey to reach my goals! It also made me think about how I need to reflect more often on the planned and unplanned stops along the way of my "life road" and although they might seem like setbacks or road blocks, they're often blessings in disguise that allow me to appreciate where I've been and not focus so much on the next step to satisfaction.

Until next time, blessings to you all...muah!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Beginning to Look a lot Like Spring!


Hello from Indianapolis!

Well, I'm here in Indy for a total of 19 days which is nearly unheard of for my current job! We're staying at an extended stay hotel so it gave us the opportunity to go GROCERY SHOPPING! Wow, I don't think I've ever been so excited to grocery shop...AND since we're in Indiana, I got to go to a MEIJER! It's funny the little things that make me happy & make me think of home, like a simple trip to Meijer (for those of you that don't know it's a grocery store in the Michigan/Indian/Ohio & I think Kentucky area, my regular grocery store growing up!) So, I stocked up on all healthy foods & snacks & LOTS of fruit. So far, so good...before leaving Delaware I got the opportunity to go to a Weight Watchers meeting & happy to say that I'm at my lowest weight...ever! :) I want to keep this up (or down in this case)!

Our first event in Indianapolis was an Indiana Pacer's basketball game vs. the Phoenix Suns. Now, you all know my love of sports...but I have to say basketball is one of my least favorite & I prefer college hoops over pro. BUT in saying that, I love all sports & I definitely love the atmosphere of sporting events in general. So, as far as the two teams go, I'm not very savvy on who plays for what teams, I think I may know a combined three people for the teams. As we were unloading our equipment from the truck onto dollies to be taken to our event site there were players coming into the loading bay area & parking their sweet cars or coming in on buses, etc. At one point a large bus pulls up & about ten people total were on it, probably four players & some other administrative/coaching people. As the typical basketball players exited the bus one got off, very short, long blond scraggly hair and OMGOODNESS...it was Steve Nash, one of the few players I knew from the teams! So I turned to Michelle & in a very intense whisper said, "HOLY CRAP, THAT'S STEVE NASH" and she was like, "Steve who?" Ahh! Now I was working & he seemed pretty focused, so I didn't snap a photo or anything like that, but he did walk within feet of me & I was pretty excited about that!

I was hoping to see some other athlete sightings here in Indy since the NFL Combine is happening down at the Lucas Oil Stadium downtown, but no such luck! Michelle & I went to dinner at P.F. Changs on Sunday after failing at finding a church with an evening service & I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with how tasty the food was. I'm not a HUGE fan of Chinese food, although I do like it on occasion. I went all out, got the lettuce wrap appetizer, the sesame chicken entree & then we shared the banana spring roll with coconut-pineapple ice cream for dessert. I looked up the Points+ values on Dottie's Weight Loss Zone website & was shocked to see how low the Points values were! Everything was delicious, especially the dessert! I'm more of a chocolate girl when it comes to sweets, but this was BY FAR the best dessert I've ever eaten! Now, when I got home & looked at the nutritional information on the actual P.F. Chang's website...I realized I had made a big mistake! What I thought was a 19 Points+ meal turned out to be 48!!!! But, I tracked it & earned some Activity Points...and I'm still in the green for the week. AND I'm not disappointed, like I said...that dessert was DIVINE!

Yesterday I got the opportunity to take the car (thanks Kevin & Michelle) for a bit & go visit my family in Roann, Indiana! I was able to see my Grandma Collins, my brother Mike who was visiting, cousins Melissa & Billy, Billy's wife Jeanettah as well as their sweet baby boy, Dade & my Aunt & Uncle, Cathy & Bill! It was MUCH needed family time & I'm SO glad I got the chance to go visit with them for a couple hours! Another great piece of family news is that my mom & dad will be visiting next week while I'm here in Indy! I cannot wait to see them!

Well, have to be going now...another Pacer's game tonight! Maybe I'll get a chance to see Tyler Hansbrough (basically the only Pacer player I know)!

Oh & p.s. I'm RIDICULOUSLY excited that baseball season has started! Spring Training games & highlights on Sports Center make me like...so happy, so, so happy!! Go TIGERS!! <3 Muah!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Favorite Travel Tools


Hello from North East, Maryland!

This week we have an event at the University of Delaware & are staying about 20 miles away in Maryland, fun stuff. This is a small town off of the Chesapeake Bay...the downtown kind of reminds me of South Haven, but then about 10 miles away is more like Portage (for all of you that know my hometown area).

After leaving Delaware/Maryland I'm heading to Indianapolis for a couple Indiana Pacers games & then the Big Ten Basketball Tournament! :) It'll be nice to be closer to home, no doubt I'll run into some Michiganders there!! We'll be in Indy for about three weeks which will also be kind of nice, I'll be able to "settle" in a little at the hotel. Life on the go can be fun, but it's also a bit of a challenge as you can imagine.

This brings me to the topic of my blog, "My Favorite Travel Tools!" I've chosen a few things that make life on the road a little easier & keep me more sane if you will. Here they are in no particular order:

1. GPS: Okay, for reals. I don't think this job would be possible without one! I'm not too young to remember the progression of navigation...in fact, until last year I had never used a GPS before! Most of our vacations as kids involved my dad driving & my mom in the passenger side seat with the Atlas which is how we got from point A to point B & all the stops in between. Then there was MapQuest & we printed out directions & went from there. But with this job...and I cannot even imagine having an Atlas or even following directions from paper. In saying that, I hope our GPS doesn't freak out anytime soon...leaving us to have to use an Atlas or printed directions!

2. Emergen-C: I use Emergen-C once a day to help boost my immune system & keep from getting sick! So far so good, but I love it because sure, you could drink orange juice which is a bit more tasty...but you're also drinking a lot of unnecessary sugar in OJ as well. This way, I get my Vitamin C fix without all the extra calories (and in my case, wasted Points+!)

3. Packing Cubes: Some of you that know me on a personal level will laugh when I say I LOVE ORGANIZATION, because you've probably seen my room in a previous state & think otherwise. However, being on the road can be very annoying without being organized! So, this is where my "packing cubes" come in!! The ones I use are from Target made by Embark & they are the large packing cube which according to the packaging, "organize and protect garments inside luggage" and are 9 3/4 in L x 13 3/4 in W x 3 in H. I started the tour off with one of these for my bras, undies & socks and quickly realized I needed another for my tanks and t's. NOW I've purchased two more recently that will be designated as my "work shirts" and "leisure shirts" leaving only my jeans, other pants, shorts & sweatshirts "loose" in my suitcase. I like knowing I can grab my "cube" & know what is in it...much like a drawer in a dresser at home!

4. Velcro Straps: These are an item I found at Lowe's & I'm fairly obsessed with them now. Because we have a lot of technology...it requires a lot of plugs & cords which get tangled & all out of whack. BUT wih the help of velcro straps I've made my life a little bit more easy!! These are the "VELCRO Black Universal One-Wrap straps" from Lowes & they come in a roll that you tear off & use to wrap cords together for easy organization & use. I not only have started using these on the event site, but also with my personal cords I need to keep straight! LOVE them!

5. Purex 3-in-1 Laundry Sheets: Now, I don't necessarily recommend these for every day use because they tend to possibly leave "oil" spots on clothes (I've only noticed it on one piece & not entirely sure if it was from these) but as far as traveling goes, they are amazing. You basically put the sheet in with your clothes in the washer & it acts as the detergent & then there is a strip at the end of the sheet with fabric softener on it for when you put it in the dryer! It's pretty amazing! And I got it at Target, I believe there are 38 sheets for like $8...and it should last me almost the entire tour!

I have a few other things that have been useful along the way as well...but for those of you who just want to hear about the COOL things I get to do & not the dirty "behind the scenes" I'll spare you all! ;) For now I'm off to pick up my To-Go order from Woody's Crab House...you know I got myself a crab cake, you can't pass them up here. AND they aren't terrible for you if you ask for them to be prepared in a way that doesn't involve a ton of butter! So until next time. MUAH!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Perks of a Nomadic Lifestyle


Hello from Poughkeepsie, NY!

Well, I had a day off so I thought I would post another update...LUCK YOU! :)

Michelle, Kevin & I made a 2 hour drive to Washington, DC on our last day off & had a great day! The weather was a serious gift from God, sunny and mid-upper 50's! We were able to visit most of the "touristy" sites like; Washington Monument, White House, National Museum of Natural History, National Air & Space Museum, war memorials, Lincoln Memorial, National Mall...etc. We were really only there for 3.5 hrs or so, but we walked fast, took quick photos & moved onto the next site! Michelle & Kevin had both been before, so I (again) was the one wanting to see all the sites! After our quick day of sight-seeing, I left Kevin & Michelle to have dinner in DC while I went out to Arlington, VA to have dinner with Beebs & Adie (and Mr. Bebe) at Pie-Tanza (www.pie-tanza.com) which had INCREDIBLE food! Adie was working, so Beebs, Jason & I had dinner while she stopped by the table as often as she could to chat with us! It was SO FUN! It was like catching up with old friends! I feel bad though, I was so excited I don't even know if Beebs, Jason or Adie ever got a word in! Haha! I'm so glad I got a chance to meet up with all of them though, it was SO fun & I can't wait for the day when we can actually spend some time together!

The next day was a drive day for us & my team is so supportive of my love for baseball we detoured a little to go see the Washington Nationals Park!! That's five parks in like three weeks, ahh, makes me so happy! Speaking of baseball...pitchers & catchers have reported to Lakeland & Spring Training is RIGHT around the corner!! I need to figure out how to subscribe to mlbtv or something so I can be sure to catch ALL of the Tigers games possible while on the road! I hope I'm able to visit a couple cities & see some baseball games while I'm traveling instead of JUST visiting the stadiums. :)

So, I had my first weigh in since my initial one...and I gained, BUT I was kind of expecting it because I had also worked out the day before for the first time in a while...and we did a ton of walking in DC...and I may or may not have eaten a whole (fairly small & thin) pizza at dinner with Beebs & Adie! ...and then had an icecream sandwhich! OOPS! Oh well, I stayed within my Points Plus!! And speaking of WW, I've been really trying to adjust to this nomadic lifestyle of mine by making time to visit the hotel gym whenever possible. Most gyms have at least a room with an eliptical or treadmill in them, so I do what I can when I can & my goal is to work out three times a week, but some weeks I physically can't do it & other weeks I'm sure I'll be able to do more! Also, since I know some places we visit are KNOWN for their food I've been making a point to eat a light breakfast, which mostly consists of a yogurt or oatmeal & a piece or two of fruit! Unless we go somewhere special for lunch, I've been sticking to Subway or using my eTools to find healthy options at other places we go. I'm determined to make this work...so, it's gonna work! Haha.

Today has been a low-key, relaxing day off...mostly because there isn't much to do in Poughkeepsie & Boston (the only city we thought we might want to go to around here) is four hours away. So, we turned it into a "pamper" day! I took a long, hot shower & am about to do my nails & Michelle got her hair done...and then in an hour or so we're all going to the salon/spa to get pedis, massages, hair, etc done, I can't wait!

Hope all is well with all my readers, if there is anything you're curious about in my life right now or just want to ask me questions, feel free to email me at any time (collinsm227@gmail.com) or comment on a post! I miss all of my friends & family! Love you all!! Muah!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Varoom-Varoom



Hello from Richmond, VA!

I last posted the first night we were in Baltimore...and let me tell you, ever since arriving in Baltimore it's been work - NON STOP! Just to give you an idea, I worked over 50 hrs in four days...wowzas! We worked the Motor Trend International Auto Show, but upstairs in the Shiftr Automotive & Lifestyle Event (aka...where all the "tricked out" cars were). The auto show was very long hours, BUT...a bit of my Michigander-ness sense of pride comes out when awesome American, Detroit made cars are being displayed! Especially with all the hype around Chrysler's Super Bowl commercial with Eminem, filmed in the Motor City...my pride cup was overflowing! We even started every day at the auto show with "Lose Yourself" by Eminem! lol.

Anyway, the COOLEST part of the auto show in my opinion, was all of the awesome Camaros! I somehow have switched from being a Mustang girl to a Camaro girl! I've always loved Mustangs...and still do, but this new Camaro is HOT! And the convertible...I have no words. It is absolutely gorgeous! When I went down to see it for the first time my heart rate went through the roof! It was like going on a first date! Hahaha...how sad is that!? But seriously...such a gorgeous car AND the convertible was in my fav car color...midnight blue! I also got a chance to test drive the Camaro - I was on cloud nine! It drove so smoothly & the pick up was dreamy...if I was able, I would purchase that car right now.

The rest of the car show was pretty cool, many beautiful cars, lots of strange creepers in Baltimore though. Some guy asked if he could book a flight to come see me back in Michigan...and was dead serious. Michelle, Kevin & I all had our fair share of creeper-moments there, so bazaar. On a good notes though, I did get an amazing jumbo lump crab cake at a small bistro in downtown Baltimore, so yum!

As mentioned before, I'm now in Richmond, VA! We worked the VCU vs. George Mason college basketball game tonight! I didn't realize it was such a large event, but the venue was PACKED. George Mason came out ahead...but I have to give it to the VCU fans, they were so into the game...such a supportive crowd!

Tomorrow we have our first day off in over three weeks and I'm SO excited! We are heading to Washington D.C.!! It'll be my first time visiting there & I get to meet up with two of my favorite LTE'ers, Beebs & Adie! I seriously CANNOT wait! <3 Well, I better get to bed...I plan on earning some AP's tomorrow before we head to D.C.!

OH WAIT! I can't remember if I mentioned this in the last post, but I re-joined Weight Watchers officially last week while in Baltimore! Oddly enough I had lost weight since leaving North Carolina dispite all my indulgences in NYC! So far so food this week...I plan to weigh in on Thursday so I can't treat myself too well in D.C. :)

Until next time...MUAH!