Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, everyone!  He is risen!

Joe and I went to his grandparents' house with his mom, sister, and brother.  His grandparents and their house are the epitome of Southern Charm.  It's always so fun to visit with them (and the delicious meals certainly don't hurt!).
It was Joe and my first Easter as a married couple, so of course we had to snag a picture.  I was also the designated photographer for the Herring family picture
Joe, his brother Jake, grandmother Harriett, sister Katherine, and cousins Sarah and Kelis
Spending the weekend in Tifton was a great way to end my spring break travels.  Plus, I got some school work done (not as much as I planned for spring break, but some is better than nothing!).  It's back to the grind tomorrow for about two more months of teaching.

Today in church, we sang a song that I think fully embodies the meaning of Easter.  It's a traditional hymn, but a lot of contemporary worship services play it now.  I'd like to share the lyrics with you as my post for the day.

Jesus Paid it All
Lyrics written by Elvina Hall

  1. I hear the Savior say,
    “Thy strength indeed is small;
    Child of weakness, watch and pray,
    Find in Me thine all in all.”

    Jesus paid it all,
    All to Him I owe;
    Sin had left a crimson stain,
    He washed it white as snow.

    For nothing good have I
    Whereby Thy grace to claim;
    I’ll wash my garments white
    In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.

    And now complete in Him,
    My robe, His righteousness,
    Close sheltered ’neath His side,
    I am divinely blest.

    Lord, now indeed I find
    Thy pow’r, and Thine alone,
    Can change the leper’s spots
    And melt the heart of stone.

    When from my dying bed
    My ransomed soul shall rise,
    “Jesus died my soul to save,”
    Shall rend the vaulted skies.

    And when before the throne
    I stand in Him complete,
    I’ll lay my trophies down,
    All down at Jesus’ feet.

It's easy to get swept up in the busy-ness of Easter and not think about what it truly means.  I hope those lyrics will remind you of the real reason for the holiday.

Question of the Day: What's your favorite Easter song?  It can be religious or not.
I think my favorite Easter hymn is "Up From the Grave He Arose", but I didn't get to sing it this Easter since we went to the contemporary service.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Trip to Seattle: Days 3, 4, and 5

Good morning, everyone!  I've had quite a lazy morning, but I think I'm up and ready for a day of school work.  Yes, even teachers have work to do over Spring Break!

Before I start my day, how about I finish recapping my trip to Seattle?  You can read my recap of the first to days here.

Kristie and I slept in for a while before getting up for a tasty breakfast.  We scrambled eggs with some pastrami we got the day before and some smoked cheese from the Pike Place market.  Very, very good!  

Kristie had to do some work from home (Joe had already gone in to work), so I enjoyed some daytime TV.  I love watching the Today show and Hoda and Kathie Lee, but I never get to since I'm at school.  Joe called and said that Mt. Rainier was out, so we took a little drive to see the mountain.
This is quite an impressive mountain, and you can only see it when it's a really clear day.  I didn't get to see it last time I went to visit, and so we were really excited that I was able to see it this time.

We then went to Kirkland to get some lunch.  I'd never had Thai food before, so Kristie took me to Lai Thai to get some lunch.
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We got four dishes so that I could get a good variety of Thai Food: Phad Thai, Phad Kee Mao, Simply Fried Rice, and Yellow Curry over brown rice.  I really enjoyed everything, though the Phad Kee Mao was a little too spicy for me.  My favorite was the Phad Thai because it was a little sweet and the noodles were so good!

We also tried Thai Iced Tea, which is an interesting tea with a sweet cream in it.  It's an interesting taste, but I thought it was really good.

After lunch, we went to the grocery store to grab some things for dinner.  There was a Starbucks next door, so of course I had to go get a Starbucks coffee while in Seattle!  We got home, Kristie did a little bit more work, then we took Lexi the boxer on a walk around the neighborhood.  
Isn't she cute?
The weather was beautiful!  We walked for 2 miles around their very nice neighborhood, which was very hilly.  That slowed our pace down a little bit, but it was a lot of fun to get out and enjoy the nice day.
We got home and it was time to cook dinner.  We made a chicken casserole, which was what Joe requested we have for dinner.  This was a very easy recipe!  When we were in college, Kristie always showed me how to cook different things (that lemon pepper chicken I make?  Her recipe!).  I made sure to take notes on this recipe, because it was very tasty!  

After dinner, we watched Dancing with the Stars then went to bed.  I headed back in to my room after brushing my teeth and saw this when I got in there:
I couldn't say no to that face, so I had a little cuddle buddy on Monday night.

We had to get up early because Kristie had an appointment to get some stitches out.  We went to her dermatologist (Joe had to go in to work, so I went in his place), and when I asked if I could go in the room, the nurse said "As long as you don't pass out like the men do!"  I decided to read while her stitches were removed.  No passing out here!

Afterward, we went to the Microsoft campus in Redmond, WA to meet up with Joe and Brad for lunch.
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I had this image in my head that all the buildings were white stone, everything was connected by large sidewalks, and everything had a very united feel.  That's not necessarily the case, except for the Commons where we went for lunch.
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We met up with the guys at Spitfire, a restaurant in the Commons.  The food there was great, and the atmosphere was awesome!  I've got to say, their shoestring french fries were some of the best I've had.  We had a great time just talking and laughing.

The guys had to get back to work, so Kristie and I went to her office.  She works in Human Resources, specifically university recruiting.  Her office has a sliding glass door and looks very futuristic.  I told her I'd love to work in an office like that!  Another cool feature of her office: a photo collage I gave her displayed on one of her shelves.  I was so touched when I saw that she had it so prominently displayed.

After our "field trip" as I called it, we went back home to hang out with the puppy and watched some TV.  I went out and threw Lexi the frisbee some, and I just such a kick out of it when she'd get the frisbee then shake her head with it in her mouth.  Adorable!

At dinner time, we headed to this cool restaurant to meet back up with Brad and his wife Marie.  Brad and Marie got married just three weeks ago and we weren't able to go, so I was so excited to see both of them and catch up on the wedding!  
Their first Mr. and Mrs. picture after the honeymoon!
The restaurant: The Rock Wood Fired Pizza.
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What a cool place!  Everything was rock 'n roll themed!  The pizzas were all song titles, there was rock music playing in the background (not too loud, though), and the furniture was shaped like those black and silver gear boxes.  

Another cool feature?  Bucket drinks.
I got a Skinny Margarita and was so excited over the presentation.  We all got pizzas, and mine (the Bang A Gong) was DELICIOUS!  I almost ate the whole thing (which is unheard of for me!).  
Kristie and me
Also, for dessert was a Cookie Skillet!  Basically, it was a large chocolate chip cookie in a skillet topped with vanilla ice cream.  We all split it, but we probably could have eaten another one!  Overall, a very fun dinner.

Kristie and I went back to her house and watched TV in her bed since Joe was at a conference that evening.  We faded fast and went to bed.  I got to cuddle with Miss Lexi again, and we both slept like rocks!

Sadly, I had to leave early in the morning on Wednesday.  Kristie dropped me off at the airport at around 7am then headed in to work.  I so enjoyed my time visiting her, and I really wished I didn't have to go!  Hopefully I'll get to see her, Joe, and the rest of my Seattle crew very soon.

Before leaving Seattle, I had to stop at the Starbucks in the airport (duh!).
Have y'all had that chocolate cinnamon bread? AMAZING!  You should get it.  

On the plane, I sat on the side where Mt. Rainier would be.  Last time, it was so clear that you could see both Rainier and Mt. St. Helen.  This time, you could barely see Rainier.
Still, very impressive!  I rented one of the entertainment players that Alaska Airlines offers and watched Life of Pi and most of Black Swan while in the air.  It really helped pass the time!  I was also enjoying taking in the beautiful landscape of the Midwest.

We landed in Atlanta after being able to see Stone Mountain and the lovely skyline of the city.  I may be one of the only people to say this, but I LOVE the Atlanta airport!  After living in Athens for two years, I grew very familiar with it, and it sort of feels like home to me.  

I had time to grab some food in the airport before my flight to Daytona.  I opted for a healthy options in the B concourse: Fresh to Order.  Even though there was a long line, I wanted something good for me over a greasy burger.
I got the Tomato Mozzarella Panini.  Great choice!  The vinaigrette dressing was so tasty, and I also loved the tomato and mozzarella combination.

I slept the whole second flight and made it home safely.  I also heard from my Joe, who made it back safely from his trip to Jamaica with his boys.

Well, there you have it!  My trip to Seattle!  I'm so glad I was the perfect way to spend my Spring Break.  I'm looking forward to relaxing, as well as getting a lot of school work done for the next few days.  

Question for you: What's your favorite airport food?  Any fun themed restaurants around you that you love?
The Atlanta airport usually makes me crave Popeye's, but sadly they've taken them out of that airport.  I guess I've found my (healthy) substitute now!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Trip to Seattle: Days 1 and 2

Hey, everyone!  Whether I'm happy about it or not, I am back on the East Coast!  It's weird re-adjusted to Eastern time, but it does feel nice to be back at home.  I really enjoyed visiting Kristie and Joe, and I already miss hanging out with them!

I wanted to recap my trip to Seattle, and I'll do so in a few different posts.  We fit a lot of fun things into the time I was out there!  Let's start with the first two days.

After a bit of a scare of catching my connecting flight, I made it out to Seattle at about 7:40 p.m. on Saturday.  Kristie and Joe were right on time to pick me up, and we spent the car ride catching up.  I hadn't really eaten, so we decided to meet some of our other friends Brad, Russell, and Mia for dinner.

The restaurant: Din Tai Fung in Bellevue, WA.  The restaurant features Dimsum food, which is a bunch of steamed dumplings.  We put our name on the list, then headed to Earl's for some drinks before dinner.
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Funny/awkward story from Earl's: The bartender IDed Kristie and me before we even tried to order drinks.  He asked us if we were 21, we both said we were 25, then he turns to me and says "You look like you're 17."  What?!  Ok, I know I look young, but 17?  Really?  He almost thought my ID was a fake!  Then, I choked on my wine after the first sip.  Talk about me looking like a 17-year-old.

It was time for dinner, and we all ordered a bunch of different dumplings, green beans, and rice cakes.  I must say, this food was DELICIOUS!  I can see why Kristie, Joe, Brad, and Russell all crave it all the time!  You dipped each dumpling in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, and ginger, which added a great taste to each little bit.  My favorite?  The spicy vegetable and pork wontons.
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We went straight to Joe and Kristie's house after dinner and just chatted on the couch, making plans for the next day.  We also watched their boxer, Lexi, play around and do her adorable little excited wiggle when she saw me.

The weather was beautiful in Seattle, so we decided to head in to the city and explore.

We grabbed the Bainbridge Ferry to check out the little town on the island.  Riding on the ferry was a really cool experience!  We stayed inside, but we had a great view of the city and surrounding mountain ranges (see above).

Once we docked, we went straight to our lunch destination: The Harbor Public House.  It required that we walked through the whole town, which allowed us to plan the rest of our day.

We sat down and were very excited for lunch!  Everything on the menu looked so fresh and delicious.  We were also excited about the local Washington beers and wines offered.  Our wines were poured from the barrel, they were so fresh!  We started our meal with a traditional Canadian dish of Poutine.
Kristie and Joe couldn't wait to dig in
We thought it was pretty tasty.  Afterward, our meals arrived.  I got the Asian Salmon Bowl, which was SO GOOD!  The salmon was fresh with a hint of Asian flavor.  Kristie's burger was fantastic, and Joe's fish-and-chips were great, as well.  We left full and happy.

Next stop: Bon Bon Candies.  The fudge sign drew us in to the store and we picked up some delicious treats.  In addition to some nonpraeils, I picked up some of those raspberry and blackberry candies.  They count as fruit, right? :)
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We continued through the town to the winery tasting rooms.  There were four tasting rooms in the vicinity, which excited all of us!  Wine is one of our favorite things, and we were ready for some tastings. 

First up: Eagle Harbor Winery.  They had some very good wines, and my favorite was their 2008 Raptor.  Strong name, but a very good red wine.
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Right across the street was the Eleven winery tasting room.  We chose 5 wines to taste from their 9 wines.  Each of us chose a different combination to taste, and I went with most of their red wines.
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I loved their Malbec!  Another hit was their Sweet Sarah dessert wine.  The description said "Sarah has a best friend: chocolate." so Kristie and I sampled this wine with one of my nonpraeils.  DE.LIC.IOUS.  I don't usually like dessert wines, but this was perfect with chocolate.  Even the woman who worked their tried it out and thought it tasted great.

We decided to take a break from wines and headed to Hitchcock Deli next per recommendation from the girl who worked at Eleven.  She said they had the best pastrami, so we went and tried it out.  None of us had tasted pastrami before, but after one bit, we were hooked!  We bought a half pound of the meat and snacked on it as we headed to our next destination.

Mora Iced Creamery was another place we had to try!  We went by and each got a cup of ice cream.  While their signature flavor is Blackberry, I went with Mint with Shaved Chocolate and highly recommend it.
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Last stop of our Bainbridge trip was Island Vintners tasting room.  They feature wines from the Amelia Wynn winery and Fletcher Bay winery and offer white flights, red flights, or 2 white/2 red combo flights for their tasting.  I went with the red flight and loved two of the wines: Fletcher Bay Tempranillo and Barking Dog Red.  We wound up getting an extra glass while we waited for the ferry and had a great time just talking and laughing with each other.
Someone's been drinking red wine all day...
It was time to head to the ferry and get back to Seattle.  We had a great day on this cute little island.  We got in a lot of walking, a lot of wine, and a lot of fun times.  I enjoyed the scenery on the ferry home.
Please ignore my wine-stained teeth
For some reason, I think ports are beautiful!  I love all the colorful containers and the neat-looking cranes.  Call me crazy, but that is a cool picture.

It was time to head back to the house and make a light dinner.  Joe is of Lebanese decent, and his mom taught Kristie to make tabouli.
Image Source--and a recipe!
I love this dish, so we decided it was the perfect dinner to make.  It turned out PERFECT, and Joe made some biscuits to go along with this satisfying salad.  We ate, talked, and started feeling sleepy.  It was time to head to bed after a very fun day!

Well, those are my first two days in Seattle!  If you are ever in Seattle, I HIGHLY recommend going to Bainbridge Island.  As you can see, there is a lot to do, AND you get to ride a classic Seattle ferry to get there.

I'll be back tomorrow with the details of the rest of my trip.

Question for you: Have you had Dimsum before?  Do you love wine as much as I do?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Seattle Fun

Greeting from Seattle!!

I thought I'd check in with y'all real quick before Kristie and I take a walk!  I've had a great time out here on the West Coast, and the trip's not over yet!

While I can't share pictures right now (I'm on my iPad and can't load my pictures from my camera on here), we've done a lot of cool and new things!

I tried Dim sum (dumplings) at Din Tai Fung and Thai food in Kirkland, WA.

I rode on a ferry to Bainbridge island.

We tasted lots of wines And had a great time walking around Winslow.

I got to see Mt. Rainier on a gorgeous sunny day.

Well, time to go enjoy the lovely weather!  I'll probably post when I get back home on Wednesday.  Until then, have a great week!

Question for you: Tried anything new lately?
I'm loving all these new experiences I'm having out here in WA!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sweaty Heart

It's officially Spring Break for me!  I woke up so relaxed this morning, then realized that I'd done very little to prepare for my trip to Seattle.  I'm going to visit my friend from college, Kristie, and her husband, Joe.
Eating in the Space Needle during my last visit
I haven't been out to visit them since October 2010, and with my Joe off in Jamaica with his boys, it was the perfect time to head back out there.  Surprisingly, the forecast is all sun!  Kristie told me to bring walking shoes, so I imagine we'll do some outdoorsy things while I'm there.

After realizing I needed to put some pep in my step to get everything done before my 2:00 flight, I had breakfast and started some packing.  I wanted to get to the gym this morning, too, so I headed to the Y for another step class!

I wanted try the Step II class after trying Step I at the Y last week.  It was a great class, but I felt like I needed just a little bit more.

Step II was JUST what I needed!  The instructor was very motivating and had a lot of energy.  The combos were more challenging, and I had to try some of them a few times before getting the hang of them.  I was sweating at the end of the class, which made a cool shape on my t-shirt.
Sorry if that's gross, but I just HAD to take a picture of the heart on my shirt!  How funny!  I hope other people in the class noticed it, because this gave me a good laugh.

Ok, it's time for me to get back to packing, cleaning, and trying to figure out what to do with the perishable food in my fridge.  I don't know how often I'll be posting while out in Seattle, but I imagine I'll get a post or two in.

Question for you: Have you ever had an interesting shape created by your sweat and/or anything else?
When we go to the beach, my dad always gets sun burns in interesting shapes.  I guess he doesn't evenly apply the sunscreen!

Hope y'all have a great weekend!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Spaghetti Squash + Body Weight Workouts

First off, Tina Reale (Best Body Bootcamp creator) has a feature on her blog called Fit Friends.  This week, I am her Fit Friend!  Check out the feature to learn a little more about me here.

By the way, sign-ups are going on for Round 5 of Best Body Bootcamp.  I'd love for you to join me in this great 8-week workout program!
Sign up here!
Ok, moving on...

I have a new-to-me food to share with you today....
Spaghetti Squash!

I've heard a lot about this yellow veggie, but I've been scared to try it.  I don't really like squash (the consistency is weird to me...), so I didn't really know if this would be the best thing for me to try.  Chelsea @ Chelsea Eats Treats posted about how to cook one recently, and after reading her post, I decided to give it a try.

I found a spaghetti squash in the produce section.  Joe wasn't too interested, so since he's on his way to his boys spring break trip, I decided to cook it up tonight.  I followed Chelsea's directions for roasting the spaghetti squash since I had the time.

It was really tough to slice in half, and I was surprised that it looked a lot like a pumpkin on the inside.

After drizzling with some EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), salt, and pepper as Chelsea suggested, I set the two halves in my roasting pan and let it roast for about 45 minutes at 375 degrees.
You'll know it's ready when you can press on the outside and it gives.  I had to put them back in for about 5 minutes, so it roasted for 50 minutes total.  Then, you scrap out the insides!  My suggestion: only keep the parts under the top layer (the more stringy, less slimy pieces).
I was surprised with how much I was able to scrap out!  It didn't look like much when I first cut it open, but I only scraped out that one half and filled my bowl.

I served it with sliced green peppers and an Italian sausage, topped with a little oregano and salt.  Overall, I really enjoyed the meal!  I think I drizzled a little too much EVOO before cooking.  Next time, I'm going to decrease that amount.

I would definitely recommend trying spaghetti squash!  Just to warn you, it does not really tasty like pasta, but it is a good substitute.  After that bowl, I was pretty full.  Plus, this meal really helped me go over the 7+ servings for fruits and veggies I needed for a point toward the SBBC!  Score!

I let my food settle for a little bit, then did a little at-home workout.  Amanda at Run to the Finish (host of the Spring Bootie Buster Challenge) posts body weight workouts of the week for extra points in the SBBC.

This was tough since I'm still a bit sore from BodyPump on Wednesday.  I'm glad that my relaxed evening on the couch included a workout.

Question for you: Have you tried spaghetti squash?  If so, what do you think?

So, today was the start of Spring Break, and tomorrow I'm heading to Seattle to see my good friend Kristie!  I may pop in tomorrow morning, but I also haven't packed or cleaned the house yet.  If not, I'll probably blog at least once (maybe twice) from Seattle.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Orangesicle Cookies

Let's start off today's post with a little bit of press, shall we?  I'm in the Daytona Beach News Journal!  One of my students' moms did an article on the 5k I ran on Saturday.  Here's the link to the online version: Hawks, Kiwanis St. Patrick's Day 5K benefits Volusia Literacy Council. 

Not only am I pictured in my lovely outfit, but you can see me at the starting line, too!  I also love how her son told her that I was planning on running 3.14 miles on Pi day last week and that made it in the article.  It just goes to show that anything I say in class can and will be told to their parents! 

Also, am I the only one who can't access my Google Reader anymore?  Where did it go!?!  I know that Google decided to get rid of it, but I thought it wasn't going away until July!  Makes for a very boring lunch period...I usually read the blog posts I missed during the morning.

Oh well, I guess I can actually get some papers graded or something during lunch now :)

I try to share healthy food on here, but today, I've got something to satisfy your sweet tooth!

I saw this mix for Orangesicle cookies from Pillsbury in the grocery store and just had to try it!  Last summer, I tried the Pink Lemonade cake mix and frosting for cupcakes.  They were incredibly good!  Very sweet, a little tart, and the perfect taste of summer.  While it may not feel like summer where you are, I feel like it's non-stop summer down here in Florida.  I was definitely in the mood to see if these cookies would taste like one of my favorite summer treats: Orange Creamsicles!
Pink Lemonade cupcakes
I originally thought this was cake mix and was a bit disappointed when it wasn't.  But, as someone who loves to bake, I made the cookies anyway!

Very, very tasty!  I'd like to think that since they are "Orange"sicle they count as a fruit.  Wishful thinking, huh?  These were also husband-approved, too, but he usually likes anything I bake (except anything mint...bad for me because I love mint desserts!).

I frosted a few of the cookies with the Orangesicle icing.  It made them extra sweet (perfect for me) and a little softer than those without.  Either way tastes great, but I do recommend the icing.

There is also a mix from Pillsbury for Pink Lemonade again this year, as well as another flavor I have yet to try: Key Lime!  I found them on the baking aisle at Wal-Mart, but I imagine you can find these at any grocery store. 

Question for you: What's your favorite summer-y flavor?
I'd have to go with pink lemonade and watermelon.  Just thinking about those tastes make me want to be on a beach!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Rock + Squeezed-in Workouts

Hey everyone!  How has your week started off?  My week has been pretty good so far, other than all the grading and planning that I have to catch up on.  Spring Break is next week, and my exhaustion is catching up to me.  Only 2 more days!

On to the usual stuff...

**Disclaimer: Today's "Faith" section is very strongly rooted in the basis of Christianity.  I respect any and all belief systems and realize that you may not agree with my Faith Find.  However, this is what I believe, and I wanted to share it on the blog.**

It seems that every Sunday that I make it to church, the pastor always has one line that hits me like a ton of bricks.  Two weeks ago, he got me with "The solid way is not what we see, but what we believe."  This week, he got me with this:

"The only one who could throw a stone became our rock instead."

This quote references John 8:1-8, the story of the woman brought before Jesus caught in the act of adultry.  The people say that she needs to be stoned according to law and ask Jesus what they should do.  Jesus begins writing in the sand (no one knows what he was writing), and then says that whoever is without sin can cast the first stone.  The crowd leaves, as they know they are all sinners.  Then Jesus, the only one who is without sin, dismisses the woman and instructs her to sin no more.

Wow.  How powerful is that?  Jesus COULD stone us.  He COULD condemn us of our sins.  Instead, he died so that our sins can be forgiven.  Instead of stoning us, He becomes the rock of our salvation.
What a great thing to think about and be thankful for.

After skipping the gym on Monday, I've done pretty good job of fitting in workouts even after long days at work.

Yesterday, I taught all day, then had a meeting from 4:30-7:30, but I managed to swing by the Y for a 30-minute upper body workout.

Amanda at Run to the Finish created this workout for the Spring Bootie Buster Challenge.  It was the perfect workout for the time that I was able to spend at the gym.

Today, I came straight home because of how exhausted I was.  After a cup of coffee, I was ready for a workout.  My gym had a BodyPump class at 5:30 today and I made it just in time!
I've previously attended BodyPump at the Y, but this class was taught by a different instructor.  She seemed to be very experienced and had great energy during the class.  I had a great time, pushed myself with the weights, and got in a great workout!  The bicep track was to "Cowboy Cassanova" by Carrie Underwood and was my favorite track of the day.  I'm so glad I went back to the gym!

After so many problems this week with heading to the gym right after school, I'm started to think more and more about working out before school.  As much as I would hate waking up before 5am, I think that I would actually get my workouts in when I schedule them.  Monica posted about morning workouts earlier this week, which seems to me like a sign that I should try it!  I may do so when I get back from Spring Break...but we'll see :)