Thursday, January 31

January Confessions and Feburary Goals

Confession: I never took down my Christmas tree. It's still in the corner of my living room decorated with lights and ornaments.

Goal: Obviously I need to take my tree down, but more specifically I'd like to find something to go in that corner of the room since a empty corner just looks so sad.

Confession: The only time I eat at the kitchen table that Erik made me is when he is over. When I'm alone all meals are consumed on the couch in front of the TV (with my friends the Today Show and the Dr. Phil Show).

Goal: Start eating dinner at my table, like a civilized person.

Confession: I feel so guilty when spending money lately.
Example: I've mentioned to Erik countless times that I'd really like a yoga specific shirt because I'm tired of not feeling comfortable in class. You know that feeling where you're constantly adjusting your clothes because your shirt is riding up or like in my last class it ends up basically over my head in downward dog. Sure, I don't care if I'm flashing my bra at home during yoga but in a class I feel a bit more awkward. In NYC this past weekend I bought a very cute new top, that I felt 100% comfortable in, from Athletica and then proceeded to feel incredibly guilty afterwards. (Like so guilty that I may have asked if we could make a stop to return it...).

Goal: Feel comfortable when making purchases I've planned for. I'm trying out a new budgeting system so I'm fully aware of what I'm spending and where it's going. Hopefully this will help make me feel less guilty when making "splurge" purchases.
(Side note: I think it's finally sunk it that I don't live at home anymore and now I have a whole new group of expenses that I actually need to plan for. I'm in no way living outside my means but I want to make sure I am not just spending money just because I have it.)

Confession: Work on stopping the negative self talk I have going on in my head. For some reason my mind has been fill with a running commentary of negative thoughts this past month. It's so easy to focus on the flaws and forget the positives and sometimes I really need a good peep talk to get myself out the door. I remember when I was about 10 or 12ish my aunt saying to me "Enjoy being thin while you can, you've got our side of the families genes and you won't be thin forever." While I'm sure she didn't mean any harm by it, those words have stayed with me for years. I'm smart enough to know that it's not all about genetics and that what you put in your body and how much you move it effect your physical appearance  I realize that my dad's siblings never made these things a priority and it shows, but still I get those thoughts creeping in sometimes of why bother trying you're destined to end up like them. I know, it's ridiculous and needs to stop.

Goal: When I look in the mirror stop focusing on my perceived flaws and focus on the things I love. It's time I start feeling comfortable in my skin. Sure, I probably gained a few pounds since I've stopped cycling everyday but it's not the end of the world. I need to keep reminding myself of this fact.

Confession: I've been avoiding a certain group of friends because every time we see each other I spend the next week plus comparing myself to them. When I leave I usually start freaking about because of x,y, and z even though at the end of the day I don't even want x,y, and z yet.

Goal: This sounds horrible, but I think it's currently for the best, keep my distance from this group of friends. Sure we can still text now and then but I know that I can't handle face to face 4 hour long meet ups right now.

Monday, January 28

The Adventure Tour at Howe Cavern

After a day of recovering from our Philadelphia trip we got back in the car and drove a sixty miles east to Howe Cavern for the Adventure Tour. Thanks to a major snowstorm it took us quite a bit longer than projected to arrive but we still somehow made it about 45 minutes before our tour started. Luckily the staff there were amazingly helpful and our tour guide was able to get our tour started early.

We met our tour guide Guy and then made our way down into the cave via a elevator. I wasn't sure what to expect and originally we were supposed to do the lantern tour. When we first started looking into a trip to the caverns I was set on not doing the adventure tour but for some reason after looking at the website one day at work I decided to go for it. A quick email exchange with Erik, with whom it was not hard to convince at all, and I was signing us up for the tour.

The tour itself was a lot of fun and perfect for a first time nervous "splunker." Erik would have preferred to do something a bit more hardcore (he likes to rock climb like with real rocks and real cliffs) but we both had a good time. The tours could potentially have up to 6 people but since I booked this one in the winter when the its not "tourist season" we were able to tour alone which worked perfectly. We suited up in boots, gloves, hard hats, headlamps, kneepads, and jumpsuits. Guy was knowledgeable and a great tour guide. We crawled through the cave on our hands and knees until we got into the Great Rotunda room which was pretty impressive. We turned off our headlights and sat in the dark because as Guy mentioned, you never just get to sit in a completely dark silent room. If you want to experience darkness, sitting in a cave is definitely the way to do it. Of course after a few minutes you mind starts to go a little crazy and you're ready for the lights to be back on.
The Great Rotunda!
On our way back Guy joked that if we really wanted we could be more adventurous and turn off our lights and crawl back in the dark. I knew Erik was definitely into it so I agreed. Luckily Guy crawled ahead a bit and was able to relay some information as to what I should be feeling for (I was ahead of Erik) and we slowly made our way to the "mud room." Of course in the dark you were left to feel for everything before you moved so I'm sure Guy got a kick out of my running commentary and telling Erik "hey - that's not a wall!" as he pawed at my backside. 

Finally we made it to the mud room, turned on our lights and climbed in. It was literally this small off shoot that was just filled with a thick layer of mud. It was quite fun as long as you didn't panic when you got stuck. You definitely sank in but as long as you kept moving you were OK. After the mud room we turned off our lights and crawled back through the rest of the cave and back to the start. Guy got a picture of us afterwards and we were definitely a bit muddier than when we started.
Of course after we stripped off all the gear I was not as happy to find that I had mud all over the bottoms of my legs, my arms and worst of all my hair. Oh and when the mud dries, which it definitely will, it will lead to a few tears as you attempt to get it out in the shower.

All in all, it was pretty awesome and I'd definitely recommend it!

Friday, January 25

Philadelphia Recap

I'm pretty great at the disappearing act, especially when it comes to blogging. My last post was a week or two before Thanksgiving which means I've missed out on quite a few things. I'd like to pretend that I've have had so many exciting things going on but that would be one big lie, and it's better to be truthful of course. So we will skip over all the boring stuff at work, the food poisoning, the fun trips for Tysabri, and focus on the exciting stuff. First up is a trip to Philadelphia, or as I'd like to rename it a gift to ourselves for surviving Thanksgiving and Christmas and not breaking up.

After Christmas (like as in the next day) we took a trip to Philadelphia. Erik's work closes for the whole week of Christmas up until the day after New Years and I was able to take a few vacation days to mimic his schedule. While we anticipated a snowstorm we were actually treated to what seemed like a monsoon. It rained almost nonstop for almost 24 hours and it was a real treat. We made the best of it though and visited quite a few places we had put on our itinerary.

First up we headed to lunch at Wedge and Fig. We both ordered some fancy grilled cheese sandwiches and overall had a pretty good meal. We were a bit disappointed when some of the additions we asked for were left off our sandwiches even though we were charged for them so I don't know if we would go back again, but their homemade mini cheesecake definitely was noteworthy.

Next up was the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I had been wanting to visit this museum ever since me and my mom spent the weekend in Philadelphia my junior year of high school, but since we were on tight schedule we never made it inside. Luckily Erik happily obliged with my needing to see it. Plus it gave me the opportunity to finally show off some of my art history knowledge from college (I took two courses so obviously I'm a professional). If I could offer one suggestion though, it would be to take advantage of the fact that your ticket gets you in for two days because trying to see everything in one day will be overwhelming.
Our best attempt at a picture for the day.
Before dinner we made a few pit stops at some local record stores. We are both into Vinyl records and Erik bought me a very awesome record player for Christmas, so we wanted to pick up some new music. We visited Repo Records which I totally judged it based on it's appearance and I may have refused to get out of the car at first because it looked sketchy. Of course it turned out to be a great local shop with a super knowledgeable staff. Plus they had a basement full of dollar records and I picked out some horribly awful 80's pop just because I liked the album covers. We also stopped at AKA Music which we weren't super impressed with, but I did leave with a random indie record (again picked by cover) which definitely is strange...but hilarious.

We had planned on making reservations for dinner but had minor issues with places being closed (I'm assuming some places closed for the holidays?) but we finally settled on Vedge. Vedge is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant and it was honestly one of the best meals I've ever eaten as a vegetarian/vegan/carnivore. (I've been a pescitarian for over a year so it's always nice to go to a restaurant where I can eat everything on the menu!) The restaurant was about .2 miles away from our loft but the downpour made it a bit more difficult to find than anticipated. Luckily a very nice bellhop outside a boutique hotel offered to look it up on the computer at the front desk so we were able to duck out of the rain for a moment while we figured out where we were going (which turned up to be right across the street!). Of course the last table was swept up about 10 seconds before we got inside and we had to eat at the bar, but it was probably for the best since we were both so wet.

We stayed in a loft in a cute, quite,  neighborhood in central Philadelphia. My only complaint is that right next door was a coffee shop and so I craved coffee every time we went in or out of the loft (fun fact - I've never even had coffee before!). We used Airbnb which was a interesting experience but I would definitely recommend trying it out. It definitely was easy to use and it saved us some money! Our "host" was out of town so we met up with one of his friends for the keys to the apartment and then the next day met back up to return the keys. It was a little bit weird spending the night in someone else's apartment but for the price it definitely beat a hotel.

The next day we visited the Milkcrate Cafe, which if you are in Philly and like records YOU NEED TO GO. Their menu was simple but oh so tasty and as a music fend I loved the fact that they had random records playing in the background. Downstairs we were able to sift through records and I ended up buying quite a few. We both agreed that it was one of our favorite cafes ever.

We had tickets to the Eastern State Penitentiary for a winter "adventure" tour and we suited up in our warmest clothes after returning the keys to the loft. I only wish I had put on my winter boats because it was just so cold. It was hovering in the 30's and the whole tour is unheated except for one room. The architecture was pretty awesome, even though the majority is in ruins but it was cool to hear about the history behind the nations first penitentiary.
Our best attempt at not looking cold before the tour.
Before leaving the city we made a quick stop at the Reading Terminal Market. I did some research ahead of time and we got pretzels at Miller's Twist which were killer. The last pretzel I had was in NYC and I barely made it through a few bites because it was so disgusting, so I've been a mission ever since to find a better pretzel. We also made a stop at Flying Monkey Bakery for a lemon bar and a piece of butter cake. I know, it sounds kinda gross but trust me in the fact that it was amazing. We originally were going to share but we both had issues even trading bites because they were so good. I'm pretty sure our major mistake from this trip was not stocking up on pretzels and baked goods for the drive home because even a month later I'm still craving that lemon bar.

After stuffing our stomachs full of amazing food we made our way back north for the 4 hour drive back to Erik's house. 

Next up...the adventure tour at Howe Caverns.