Weekend Update

This was necessary after work on Friday because my poor car got a flat tire:

2013-04-12 19.08.45After an episode of slight panic, Tuna helped me drop my car off the gas station and now I am praying to the car gods that the tire just needs to be plugged.

On Saturday morning, I went with my aunts and cousin to a nearby thrift store. I wasn’t prepared for how HUGE it was!

thrift shopWe founds tons of little clothes for my five year old cousin, including these adorbs “running” shorts that I insisted she get!

girlshortsI ended up having some good finds too – I got a clutch, blazer, flats, and two pairs of shorts for a total of $22 bucks!

Before I threw my new clothes in the washing machine, I doubled checked the pockets to make sure there wasn’t any weird crap in them and found…..

20bucksthriftshop…a $20 bill! Woo hooo! Now I can say I got all those thrift store goodies for $2! I’m totally going to do all of my x-mas shopping there next year.

Before I knew it, I found myself waiting in line at a bar with my girlfriends at midnight – eatin’ a Clif bar!

clifbarbarI told you I always have one in my clutch purse. 🙂

The Shamrock Half crew cleans up pretty well!

2013-04-14 00.53.12During the week, Tuna and I made big plans to go hiking at Great Falls on Sunday after a family b-day brunch. We bragged told everyone about it, and I even brought my Camelbak and my Merrells with me.

Besides my slight hungover headache, (only a few drinks does that to me now!!!) it was a perfect day for hiking.

Too bad everyone else in the D.C. metropolitan area had the same idea as us.

2013-04-14 13.15.57After 20 minutes of waiting to get into the park, we pulled a u-ie, and decided to go home and take a nap instead. #healthylivingfail

It’s the thought that counts, right?

I got some energy after a nap, and had to pull a different move than I normally do for my usual Sunday afternoon Whole Foods trip.

Walking!

backpackingBeing car-less and grocery shopping for healthy foods for the week meant I had to see how many things I could shove into my backpack and still force it to zip shut.

backpackgroceriesThank goodness I am lucky enough be able to walk to a Whole Foods/healthy grocery store.

I was definitely surprised how different grocery shopping is when you don’t have a car to plop all of your bags in.

Walking home, I couldn’t help thinking about how hard lugging healthy groceries home like this would be all the time, especially for people who have to walk way longer or carry food for multiple kids, etc. I was just carrying stuff for one person and for only half of the week, since I only have a three day work week this week (yay)!

What did you do this weekend?

Do you ever go thrift shopping?

How do you transport your groceries home? By car? Bus? Walking?

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Vampire 5K

Guess what I signed up for?

The Vampire 5K. 

This is solely a fun run (no chip timing) which is exactly what I’ll need in April after I’m recovering from the Shamrock Half Marathon.

It basically looks like a silly and intense game of tag with some buddies! Kind of like The Color Run but with a point to it. Thanks to Ali for telling me about it!

I’m excited for our clan of vampires to kick ass.

Click here for the living social deal! It’s usually $60, but with this coupon the event is only $30.

Have you ever participated in something like the Vampire 5K? I know there are similar fun runs with zombies, etc. 

Lessons Learned in Traveling

Lately I’ve been turning to Tuna and pouting. He knows that means I’m missing our Miami/Brazil trip. Our trip was awesome.

In Miami, we went on a boat tour in the Everglades and saw real live alligators!

20121119-110303.jpgAnd in Brazil we did lots of site-seeing and climbed up Corcovado.

Tuna made me do it.

Tuna made me do it.

orchidintree

Orchids grow in the trees! Seriously?

Oh, I also stuffed my face with delicious salty breads, flavorful meat, and stiff drinks.

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…and potato prepared in every way imaginable

When we got home, I reluctantly weighed myself with one eye closed. I was thinking it would be about +7or 8 lbs. I peeked at the scale, and frowned in disbelief! I only gained half a pound throughout our entire trip. We did walk a lot and – we did sweat a lot.

Lesson learned: you aren’t going to blow up and die if you indulge and eat everything in sight once in a while.

It was also nice to be reminded of certain foods I haven’t utilized in awhile by the restaurants we went to and the meals served by our hosts.

Tuna’s sister whipped up a fruit smoothie for us that I’ve already made a bunch of times since I’ve been home.

tropical smoothieTropical Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1/3 cup blueberries
  • 1 banana
  • 1/3 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 4 ice cubes

Another lesson learned: trying new foods doesn’t have to be scary. If you try something and don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it.

I tried a shit ton of new foods on the trip. And I actually liked…..some of them.

I genuinely liked, would make for myself, and enjoyed eating:

  • green curry
  • fried yucca
  • mango

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  • chicken empanadas

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  • white beans
  • guava paste
  • figs
  • pecan pie

pecan pie

  • farofa
  • päo de queijo
  • pipoca
  • churrascaria
  • cachaça

Ok, not my favorite, but edible:

  • feijoada
  • collard greens

full feijoada2

I did not like; no thanks:

  • goat cheese
  • kielbasa
  • creamed kale
  • airplane food
  • guaraná (soda)
  • mushrooms
  • papaya
  • ham
  • sweet potato soup
  • ground beef empanadas

25 new foods tried, only 1 million to go!

What’s a lesson you learned while traveling?

Yes, I Ate That

We woke up Saturday with a cloud of doom over our heads because it was our last day in Brazil!

Our flight left Saturday night, so we had to cram in lots of fun stuff for the day.

Tuna’s parents took us to a local favorite for lunch called Academia de Cachaça. Let’s back up a hot sec and explain the importance of cachaça.

Cachaça (basically Brazilian rum) is the type of liquor in a caipirinha, the national cocktail of Brazil. As someone who only likes alcoholic drinks that you can’t taste the alcohol in, I wholeheartedly endorse caipirinhas.

Just add ice, sugar, and limes to cachaça and you’ll be good to go. Meaning – one caipirinha will have you tripping down the curb back from Plataforma.

Now you understand that the Academia de Cachaça would naturally have the best caipirinhas in Rio. Which was good because I needed a slight buzz in order to muster enough courage to try, “the one dish you have to try while you’re Brazil.”

When Tuna found out we were having feijoada, the national meal, he immediately turned to me in terror.

feijoadaFeijoada is a stew of beans made of pork and beef.

His parents asked me, “do you like soup (stew)?” No.

Ok….“do you like beans?”

No.

Hmm…well…“do you like pork?”

Noo.

I do like bacon though. I prayed pork translated to a few bacon bits sprinkled on top of the feijoada.

Alas, that was not the case.

feijoadastewYes, I ate that.

Luckily, you get to mix feijoada with cooked greens, orange slices, and farofa. I knew I liked farofa from the night before at the churrascaria. Farofa is manioc (yucca) flour cooked in butter and olive oil. It kind of tastes like nothing. Perfect.

side dishOh, and white rice. The item that my Chinese order for ten years of my life solely consisted of.

rice Tuna’s dad took pity on me and scooped me out a conservative portion of feijoada with just the beef tenderloin.

full feijoadaGuess what?

full feijoada2I ate it all.

I cleaned my plate. And it was even pretty good! It wasn’t my favorite meal I’ve ever eaten, but I did like it and I’d eat it again.

Even I was impressed with me.

After we rolled ourselves home from lunch, it was time to pack up and cry head out to our last vacation activity.

We had the national cocktail, the national dish, and now it was time for “the national passion,” according to our driver, Tomás.

A football game!

Er… as we Americans call it – soccer.

The game was the best rivalry in Rio: Flamengo vs. Vasco.

fieldFlamengo has the largest fan base in Rio and their club is in Tuna’s parents’ neighborhood, so they had our allegiance!

soccergameThe only time I was scared during our stay in Brazil was on our way into the stadium. The fans get really crazy and police with giant shotguns were running towards crowds of people. There was a lot of shouting and shoving going on.

But as soon as we got to our seats, the friendly rivalry resumed with the sound of Brazilian drumming in the Flamengo section.

gameThough we had to leave after the first half to catch our plane, it was a pretty great way to end our amazing Brazilian adventure.

Ciao, Rio!

Thanks as always to Jenn for hosting What I Ate Wednesday!

Dancing Queen

Can we just look at the view from our window in Brazil again? It makes me happy. Slash it will be the background of my phone/computer forever.

view2Friday – the day after Thanksgiving – was our last full day in Brazil. We started our packed day of sightseeing early with a boat tour of Rio on Guanabara Bay.  Isn’t the boat cool looking?

boatWe got there just in time to hop on the boat and elbow people out of the way to get good seats on the uncovered front part on the left. We had tons of cray tourists from different countries sitting near us. The Italians were especially booze-tastic, and sang lots of songs in Italian for us. Loudly.

The first part of the tour approached Sugarloaf. Can you see the cable car lines?

boatrideHere’s a sick view of the city and landmarks! Sugarloaf is on the left and Corcovado is the pointy mountain to the right of the middle of the picture. Hmmm..maybe I should change this picture to my phone/computer background forever…

rioHere you can see a little more of the city. FYI – Rio is massive, if you haven’t figured that out already! The current population is about 6.3 million people. Just to give you an idea – that’s twice as many people as L.A.

landscaperio

meonboat

Hey, fisherman!

fisherman1For some reason, I was obsessed with this quaint little church on the side of a mountain.

church2Let’s be honest, it’s probably because it looked exactly like the church on the mountain at the end of Mamma Mia.

Don’t you think? I think.

church3After our boat tour and a yummy lunch at the French bistro, Guy, we forced Tuna to do some mandatory souvenir shopping.

Then it was time to get ready for dinner at a churrascaria (steakhouse) and Plataforma, a dance show featuring the famous Brazilian mulatas.

beforeplataformaThe churrascaria was right up my alley. We had fire grilled steak, potatoes, and my favorite, päo de queijo (cheese bread). I think I could win a päo de queijo eating contest.

We finished dinner and headed upstairs to the stage.

plataforma1The mulatas were so good! Kind of weird that they were a little scantily clad, but you got used to it after a few dances.

I liked that they weren’t super skinny – they were curvy and healthy looking. Perhaps I shall add the stair climber to my cross training…

plataforma2My favorite act might have been the guy dancers doing an ancient karate type number with lots of flips.

plataforma3plataforma4plataforma5The Carnival act was pretty cool too.

carnivalWhyyy didn’t I get an ab workout from her before we left?!

mulata

If you won a eating contest, what food would it be?

Tourist Time

Wednesday was our first full day in Brazil, and we wanted to make the most of it.  We woke up at 7:30 AM (4:30 AM D.C. time) in preparation for our touristy adventures.

Tuna’s parents had a Brazilian breakfast all ready for us once we got our bleary-eyed selves out of bed.

We devoured handmade breads with the thinnest sliced cheese and turkey ever. Thinly sliced = fancy. Though bread with cheese and cold cuts would usually be something Americans eat for lunch, it was actually really delish to have in the morning. I might have to start having this on the reg.

We also had fresh squeezed orange juice every morning thanks to Tuna’s mom. Brazilian orange peels are green – makes you feel kind of funny calling them oranges!

After b-fast, Tuna, his mom, and I all hopped in to his dad’s typ taxi driver’s car. Claudio drove us around a lot of the week and he is now our BFFL. Though we couldn’t really say much to each other since he only speaks Portuguese, so I don’t think he knows he’s our BFFL, but it’s okay.

Surprisingly, it takes a long time to get around in Rio, since there are a trillion little Fiats and only so many teeny winding city streets. Tuna’s mom told us this little anecdote, which I found hilarious and seems to sum up the Brazilian laid-back attitude: when there’s rush hour traffic, and you turn to the news radio channel to see why there’s congestion on a specific road, they always say the reason is – too many cars. Thanks, I think I could have figured that one out for myself!

Claudio drove us up the side of a mountain that legit shot us up vertically on cobblestone streets surrounded by a small country town. I don’t usually get carsick, but the those streets combined with – in quotes – “air conditioning” made me regret demolishing my seven pieces of bread and cold cuts for breakfast.

We arrived at our first tourist destination, Corcovado, the famous giant Jesus statue a.k.a. Christ the Redeemer. Though after I called the statue Corcovado all day I finally realized that Corcovado is actually the mountain that Christo Redentor is on, not the statue itself. Whoops.

We were up in the clouds!

Though I think the sign was confused too, so that made me feel better.

Christo Redentor is the largest Art Deco statue in the world (thanks, Wikipedia) and was built in the 1930’s.

The statue is HUGE and really breathtaking up close. I spend the morning wondering how they got that much concrete and soapstone up the big ol’ mountain with roads that make you slightly carsick.

Apparently, MONKEYS hang out on Corcovado too!

We headed partway down the mountain and stopped to take embarrassing pictures from a lookout point where there was a great view of the statue.

Then it was on to our next tourist destination: Pão de Açúcar, or Sugarloaf. Sugarloaf is a set of two mountains with cable cars that have been bringing tourists to a spectacular view for exactly 100 years.

We got a great view of Rio from above – including Copacabana Beach.

Though we were exhausted after our day of tourism, Tuna and I decided to be ballsy and venture out to a local wine bar in Leblon.

We were really nervous since neither of us speak Portuguese. What if we got lost, or couldn’t figure out how many real we needed to pay? We debated not going out at all, but we thought we should be brave and experience all that we could of Rio, including a little bit of the nightlife.

I’m sure glad we did, because when I attempted to order our Chilean wine in Portuguese, the waitress smiled at me and said, “we can speak in English, if that’s easier.”

Perhaps the first time I’ve ever finished a glass of wine before Tuna.

Do you love or hate doing touristy things when traveling? Love!

Have you ever ventured out in a foreign country where you don’t know the language? 

[Real] Coconut

Now that I’m back in the U.S. of A. with my laptop, I finally feel that I can give my Brazil posts the credit they deserve! (It was getting tricky trying to blog from my iPhone.)

So travel back a week in time with me to last Monday night when Tuna and I boarded our plane to Rio.

I knew international flights were meant for me when I sat down in my seat and immediately saw this gem:

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I shall take several glasses, por favor.

Tuna was jealous of my mad skills to sleep anytime, anywhere, so the plane ride wasn’t too bad (for me).

Once we got to Rio, Tuna’s parents immediately took us to their sweet beach three blocks away from their apartment in Leblon.

Please observe the below picture of Leblon Beach. This is where we got to spend the week. I seriously almost cried when I got home. How amazing is the landscape?

The two mountains right in the middle are called the “Two Brothers” and a favela (slum) is scattered along the rocks. The sociological side of me would love to study the social issues of Rio. Seeing everything the entire trip really made me realize how lucky I am and how lucky we are to have the opportunities we do here.

We walked down about half a mile to Tuna’s parents’ usual coconut stand to buy some coconuts to drink for 3 real each (pronounced reais) which is about $1.50. I was a little skeptical because I didn’t think I liked coconut. But after drinking these, I realized I love coconut!

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What I don’t like is processed coconut – the shredded white stuff doused in sugar. Real, natural coconut is where it’s at.

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I’m definitely ready to be on Survivor now.

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After you drink your coconut water, they cut it open for you with a machete and you can peel off the white stuff to eat.

When I got home from Brazil, I immediately went to Whole Foods and bought a shit ton of coconut water.

More pictures and new foods I tried to come! We’ve got a whole week to cover with this view from our window.

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Thanks as always to Jenn for hosting What I Ate Wednesday!

‘Gators and Gables

On Sunday morning we all woke up bright and early for our private air boat tour in the Everglades.

It was surprising how fast the scenery went from urban Miami to desolate marshlands. We really felt like we were out explorin’ in the prairie land.

We pulled right up to the water and our air boat was waiting for us, along with our air boat captain, Captain Bill.

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Though it was a perf day out, it was pretty chilly on the water. Tuna’s sis and I were glad we brought our jackets.

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Then we were off on our hour long adventure! The Everglades (apparently a Native American word for “river of grass”) are gorgeous. The dry plants and sea grass make such a beautiful horizon line contrasting against the blue sky.

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We saw birds, flowers, and my favorite – alligators!

Do you see this guy sneaking toward us?

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They literally come right up to the boat. Though it’s illegal to feed them, some boats (not ours) still give them stuff to eat, so that’s why they’re trained to come investigate.

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Eek! They were scary, but actually kinda cute!

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When we got home from our air boat ride, I went on a glorious run around Coral Gables (Tuna’s sis’ neighborhood.) Perhaps I shall move to Miami for the sole purpose of running in perfect weather on FLAT FLAT land. Love.

Have you ever seen an alligator in real life?

Is it hilly or flat where you live?How does that affect your running?

How did you get your pumpkins?

Tuna and I spent Saturday afternoon with my four year old cousin at a sweet pumpkin patch.

My cuz was appalled because Tuna had never been to a pumpkin patch before.
“But, but – how did you get your pumpkins?” she gasped. When Tuna said most some  people buy pumpkins at the grocery store, she was horrified.

We started out the trip with legit country hayride.

The hayride stopped after half a mile or so at the field where did our pumpkin picking. We kept trying to get my cousin to pick a small pumpkin by exclaiming each small pumpkin was the shiniest or the best color, but of course she would only settle for the biggest pumpkin of all!

Tuna and I took turns lugging it around. Arm workout!

Good job taking a picture, cuz! Ridiculous that a four year old can work a iPhone just fine.

Next we were on to the animals.

There was a very grumpy, very old emaciated cow.

There were multiple goats too. My cuz and Tuna fed the baby goats. This one was their favorite.

The piggies were my favorite. My apartment doesn’t allow cats or dogs, but do you think they would allow a pig? Honey Boo Boo had one.

They were adorable and made me not want to eat bacon. After I saw the movie Babe when I was eight, I boycotted bacon for years. I do love my BLTs though….

We ended the afternoon with caramel apples (the clear winner!) and Apples Maureen, which consisted of sponge cake and baked cinnamon apples with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.

Later that night Tuna and I spiked the apple cider we bought. It made a good after-dinner treat!

How did you spend your Saturday afternoon?

Have you ever been to a pumpkin patch or on a hayride? It was Tuna’s first hayride too!

The Odds Were In My Favor

Ali and I set off on our Survival Games adventure on Sunday morning after I promptly slept through my alarm, took my poison ivy prednisone, and  frantically twisted my hair into a Katniss braid.

But after a speedy drive down to the Shenandoah Valley, we arrived just in time for the day’s activities to start.

The whole day took place on a wooded estate in central Virginia, and the weather was the exact opposite of Tough Mudder Day: perfect. It was 65°F without a cloud in the sky. The gorgeous blue sky just barely peeked through the trees!

Once the Living Social folks checked us in, sat around a camp and listened to Tim from Advanced Survival Training give us the run-down on the basics of survival skills.

We learned some super cool stuff, like how human beings can survive up to four days without water (though I can survive only about an hour and a half without my camelbak) or up to three weeks without food! Tim told us that shelter is the number one priority to surviving out in the wild since you can die from your temperature dropping below or rising above 98.6°F.

After our introduction to Survival 101, we split up into groups while Tim and the LS guides taught us the best way to make a shelter in Appalachia.

Blurry shelter pic > no shelter pic.

We learned to use dead leaves for insulation all around our shelter, which we made from branches draped over a forked tree. Yes, that is someone’s purple sports bra as our emergency identifier (it wasn’t mine, I promise.)

Tim also gave us knowledge that I am going to begin using daily. Example: just like we insulated our shelter, you can insulate your clothing whenever you’re cold. Perhaps I shall start stuffing my cardigan at work with leaf debris until they finally decide to turn the air conditioning off in late November.

Our groups split off into rotating stations: knots and traps, fire making, and archery.

The knot tying kind of confused me. I’m left handed, so my excuse is that I had to do everything backwards, which really effed me up. But I loved the traps and snares! Look at our cool deadfall trap!

Even better than the traps – the snares!

The snares are actually kind of scary – they snap up really fast and surprise the crap out of you. No…I didn’t shriek and scare away our prey….

OK, I did squeal a bit. But our sweet snare still caught our opossum! Ha!

After lunch, we moved on to the next station: fire making. I was pretty excited for the fire making, because any idiot knows that I’ll need this skill when I’m actually on Survivor. If votes are in a deadlock at Tribal Council, the tie-breaker is always whoever can build a fire the fastest to burn a string wins. Duh.

We used the handheld bow method, using the friction of a bow on a drill grinding into a board to start a spark.

When Tim showed us how to make a fire, it took about a minute.

Then I tried. It took about 45 minutes. And I didn’t get fire.

I was the only one in our group that didn’t get a fire going! Ali even got fire twice. It was quite embarrassing because my team felt the need to cheer me on to grind the stupid bow on the fire board and watch as I failed repeatedly.

Not starting a fire was rough on my hands.

Lesson learned: I need to pick up Fire Making for Dummies before winning the ‘mil on Survivor. Or maybe I’ll just hide some waterproof matches in my socks.

After fire making made me cry pout, we took a break to learn some primitive cooking techniques. Look, primitive peoples eat clean!

Our last station was my favorite – archery!

James taught us how to use the bows, and Ali and I squeezed our way into the first group of archers.

I needed a little help from James to get my stance right.

I was relieved that I was a little better at archery than I was at fire making.

Ali and I were both pretty good at archery, actually! We got a few arrows on the target.

At the end of the afternoon, we all gathered together for the big event: the Survival Games.

We started off in teams with a shelter building competition. Of course all the teams “won” the shelter building, so we were all tied up to begin the Games.

The second event of the Games was an oldie but goodie: Tug of War, which was followed by an archery competition with a representative from our team.

After archery, our team was tied for first place!

The big deciding event was selecting reps. from our team to do fire making.

What, you don’t want me for the fire maker, team?

This guy was an ultra runner. Very cool – wish I had gotten to pick his brain a little!

We won! We were the first team to get a flame.

The team was about to turn inward on itself. The Games were now an individual competition.

Our team of 15 lined up and were instructed to tie a box knot. I tied a beautiful box knot and made it through to the next round.

The next knot was a double-latch-knot-or-something.

Booo, I forgot how to make the double-latch-knot-or-something.

Oh well. I probably would have lost in the next round anyway – survival trivia!

After the winner of the Survival Games was crowned, we lined up for a some amazing Blue Dog BBQ.

I chose the chicken and zucchini bake with some sassafras tea on the side. It was delicious. Next up on the Pinterest receipe search – zucchini bake!

The entire day was a blast, thanks to the awesome guides we had from Living Social, and Tim, the informative instructor from Advanced Survival Training. If you’re looking for an adventure, this is definitely one you wouldn’t forget!