Zoology

Thank goodness for long weekends, that’s all I have to say! Mine was a-hustlin’ and a-bustlin’ with trips to the dog park, homemade sushi, and getting schwasted-faced at my friends’ band’s show. Before all of that, though, my work-free Friday started off with a trip to the zoo!

Autumnal Zoo

I always forget that the National Zoo is so easily accessibly, picturesque, and the best part, FREE! So when my friend Sarah suggested we hit it up, I was more than game!

Zoo Lights
Asian Trail
Leaves

As evidenced by the incredibly wind-blown hair I’m sporting in the picture that Sarah took of me above, it ended up being quite the blustery day. That certainly didn’t stop us from getting trigger happy with our cameras though!

Say Cheese!

Cheetahs and pandas and elephants, oh my!

Cheetah Cheetah!
Pandas
Elephant

We had been hoping that the new elephant house they’re building would have been ready, but we were off by… oh, about 2 years. (2013 y’all!) I really like that the National Zoo brings so much attention and fundraising to the diminishing Asian elephant population, so the existing exhibit was still a lot of fun to check out.

Olephants
Donate to a Good Cause

Especially for those of us with an incredibly sophisticated sense of humor…

Hehehe
Hehehe.

Post-zoo, we went to have lunch at Open City, a neat little coffeshop/restaurant/bar right by the metro.

Open City

It was really cute! The place was hoppin’ so the service was a tad slow but I loved their drink menu: so many different kinds of teas! Sarah got a mulled apple cider that was to die for.

Kekeke
Moustachio
Also, she has the best iPhone case EVER. I want.

Inevitably I ended up being too indecisive on the beverage front, so I just stuck with water to go alongside my Open City burger. Cheeseburger + bacon, yes prz!

Burg

After nommage, I continued my social Friday by meeting Hilary for coffee! I felt horrible because with all the travel time from the zoo I ended up being SUPER late for our meeting (and I generally pride myself for my punctuality, shocking as that may sound) but she graciously forgave me and we had a great conversation.

Hilary
Hi Hilary!

She also generously gave me a couple cases of La Croix sparkling water because she ended up trying it and hating it, haha. More for me!

Are you a zoo-goer? I know that many people feel strongly against zoos and aquariums, and that they can be kind of controversial. That being said, I have to admit that I do still like visiting them. I think part of it continues to stem from my continued hope that one time they’re just going to let me take one of the otters home with me.

I’ve Got (New) Friends in All the Right Places

Happy Monday, folks! Time to attempt to recap the second part of my wine-filled Saturday. Part one’s photo explosion was posted last night in order to avoid giving you all seizures from too many photos, and included visiting two delightful vineyards with Jen & the BroLo.

Gazebo 2Love

After sobering up from my vineyard adventures, I headed off to meet blog reader Kari for dinner. She was visiting her friends in DC and very sweetly extended an invitation to dinner, as well to enjoy cupcakes, games, and more wine at her friend’s house afterward! I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to continue my wine diet, so off I went!

Kari
Hi Kari!

I met up with a big group of new-to-me friends at Landini Brothers, a fancy Italian restaurant in Old Town Alexandria.

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I knew from looking at the menu beforehand that it was going to be an expensive meal, but I don’t know if I was completely prepared for how much dough I was going to be dropping that night, haha. It just all happened so fast! Between there being a little confusion over the wine that was ordered for the table, the automatically included gratuity, and my failure to ask for the prices of the specials, I ended up with a $60 dinner bill. Urk. (budget? What budget?)

At any rate, the food did taste good, at least! I started with a small caesar salad:

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And followed it with the salmon special of the evening:

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Now, my salmon was cooked perfectly, and overall the food was very good. But I’m sorry, for $29.95 I really feel like I should be receiving more than FOUR FINGERLING POTATOES. I was satisfied with my portion from a stomach-size perspective, but considering how incredibly expensive the food was, I think there should have been more going on. If not by providing more food, then at least drizzle a little reduction-of-something on my plate to jazz it up, y’know? Ah well. The dinner conversation was perhaps a little more brazen than these delicate ears (HA!) are accustomed to hearing, but overall it was really fun to get to broaden my social horizons and distract myself from real life. And the night was only half over after dinner! (Well, to be fair, another quarter of the night went to figuring out how to split the bill, hahahaha.)

Pour me a glass
Golden Girls

Next on the docket was the aforementioned cupcakes, wine, and games! Morgan and her husband Zachary were kind enough to invite me, a total stranger, into their home, hahaha. They have the most adorable little cats!

Grrr.I can has killz you?
Er… who look like they want to kill me here. Hahaha.

They also have the niftiest wine bottle opener. I was a little intimidated at first, but seriously, it made shucking out that cork the easiest thing ever. If this newfound need appreciation for wine continues, I may just have to pick one these puppies up!

Nifty!Noms

And the cupcakes. OH THE CUPCAKES.

Cupcake Extravaganza!

They were NOT kidding when they said they had a spread! They had cupcakes from Red Velvet, Crumbs, and… somewhere in Alexandria. I forget the name, whoops. But they were all delicious!

Coconutty

For clarification’s sake, we didn’t eat ALL the cupcakes. I had one full lemon coconut (!!) one, and then slices of the red velvet and carrot cake ones. Nommmm. After we had our sugar buzz on, we played a new-to-me Charades-like game called “Celebrity”.

MorganMeera
Morgan & Meera in the zone.

The game goes like this: everyone writes something down on slips of paper. This can be literally anything: celebrities places, events, topics, phrases, or just things. We then fold ’em up and toss them into a bowl. Then, in teams, players draw from the bowl and have to get their team to guess what is on the strip of paper. There are 3 rounds, and the same topics/strips of paper are used for each round.

Round 1: Like Catchphrase, the player has to get his or her team to guess the answer without saying any of the words on the piece of paper.

Round 2: Like Charades, the player has to act out their word/phrase without speaking.

Round 3: Like… something challenging, the player can use only ONE WORD to try to get their team to guess the answer.

The idea is that each round gets simultaneously harder and easier, since you already know what some of the answers may be from the previous round, but the methods of getting your team to guess are more challenging. That was terribly explained, but it was a lot of fun!

Ladies
Morgan, Kari, Me, Meera, and Lauren.

I was fail at getting a group shot with everybody who was there in it, but even if I didn’t get a shot of you (Zach, John, Megan, Aaron!), rest assured it was awesome to meet you!

How do you feel about meeting internet friend IRL (in real life)? After having such great experiences with meeting up with readers and other bloggers, I’m all about it! Always in a smart, safe way, of course. No stalkers, plz! πŸ˜‰

Welcome, Great Pumpkin!

Today’s the day! I’ll be off to Ottawa in just a little while, where I can hopefully leave the frustrations of the week behind and celebrate Halloween in style! Hopefully without going too far overboard while I’m at it… urk.

Admittedly, I did my fair bit of doldrum dwelling yesterday after my le terrible weigh-in. But, never a fan of self-pity, I did try to turn it around. Like all of you wonderful readers were saying to me in the comments, it’s a new day and a new week! No reason not to move forward in full force. So for once I actually counted every calorie I consumed yesterday (1254, shock!) and cooked myself a dinner that was ridiculously healthy for how tasty it was.

VeggieTable
One intensely bountiful produce drawer, plus:

Satay
A few tablespoons of deliciousness, equals:

I EAT VEGGIES.
Veggie bowl to the extreme!

Going out of town means I had an intense game of pantry roulette to play, after all. Had to use up all that produce! In the bowl was spaghetti squash, onions, mushrooms, asparagus, and kale, peanut sauce and some green onions for garnish.

SauteAdd teh veggies
KaleSquish, Squash

Just more kitchen therapy to help haul me out of the doldrums. It worked! Still a little discouraged about my weight situation, but it’s getting better.

Sweet as Pumpkin Pie

Of course, the pumpkin carving party I crashed at Amanda’s didn’t hurt either.

You'd better learn your rules
Such a gracious hostess, hahaha.

In true Halloween spirit, we carved our pumpkins with a scurry movie on the background afteer some mild objections from me. I can’t handle scary movies — I got roped into seeing House of Wax once and had nightmares for like three weeks! But this one, “The Frighteners”, had Michael J. Fox in it so it wasn’t that bad.

Guts
Mmm, guts.

Amanda, her roommate Brad, and our friend Eddie all ambitiously followed patterns from a book, so they ended up with very cool and intricate designs on their pumpkins.

Skeptical ScultorIn process

Me though? I was going for an even classier approach.

Too Much Candy

Bahahaha. And with that image now forever burned into your memory, I bid you adieu! (See? I’m already getting my French-Canadian on.)

Have you carved anything interesting for Halloween this year? Or seen any pumpkins of note on a neighbor’s doorstep, perhaps? Since becoming an “adult” and moving out of my parents’ house I’ve found that my pumpkin carving has fallen by the wayside. Sad! I definitely have to remember to keep this tradition alive.

Wedding, the Fourth

Happy Monday, friends!

I’m back after attending yet another beautiful wedding — the fourth I’ve attended since August! Whew!

Marriaged!

Our friends Matt & Jess got married on a gorgeous day in Hampton, VA. It was awesome that so many of my friends were in the wedding party and able to attend. I always love weddings, but you can’t deny that they are just more fun when you know a lot more people than just the bride & groom, right?

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It was extra awesome this time, because neither my brother, my boyfriend, nor I had to actually DO anything for this wedding. Steve wasn’t a groomsman, Ben wasn’t the photographer, and I wasn’t anything (well, nothing new there, but still!)

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Of course, that didn’t stop either of us trigger-happy Powell siblings from taking an inordinate number of photos, hehe.

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Father & Daughter

I can’t help it. It’s just too pretty not to capture on film.

Husband and WifeIntroducing...
Mr. & Mrs.!

It’s always the small details that I love most about weddings. It’s where the personality of each couple really seems to shine through the most.

Cekke.Mother of the BridePlacedGenerations

Matt & Jess had the guestbook on a display table with framed photos of their mothers & grandmothers on their wedding days. Jess even wore the same locket her mom AND grandma have on in their respective bridal portraits! Talk about your meaningful “something borrowed”, eh?

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Right on trend, the food was great too! There was a selection of crackers and cheese to snack on during cocktail hour (herbed goat cheese? Be still my heart!), followed by a buffet of salad, roasted chicken, salmon, potatoes, and haricot vert.


(Photo by Ben)

Bonus? The cake tasted like a creamsicle!

Intimate

After the first dance (I cried), and speeches (I cried again), the party really got started! You may notice that all photos from this point of the night onward were taken by Ben. So, er, that probably says a lot about how things progressed, keke. Oh, vodka sodas… you shall be the death of me (with lime!)


Oh sure, it always starts out innocently enough. (Hi Lisa!)


The ridiculousness grows slowly…


Sometimes I’m so cool I can hardly stand it.


But hey, at least you can tell it was a good time! πŸ˜‰

Oh! I almost forgot to mention THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE WHOLE NIGHT. Yes, EVEN more important than the part where the bride & groom actually got, y’know, married. (Okay, FINE, not really.)

I CAUGHT THE BOUQUET!!!!!

And it only took me four (increasingly violent) tries! And doubleplusbonus: they didn’t have us do the embarrassing thing where the guy who catches the garter has to put it back on the girl who caught the bouquet. Not that I don’t dearly love my good friend Jabarie, but c’mon. That ish is not comfortable for ANYBODY.

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Before making the drive back home yesterday, a bunch of us refueled/healed ourselves with what we thought would be a quick brunch at The Pirate’s Booty. Turns out in Hampton, “quick” has a substantially different meaning, hahaha.

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Ah well, at least the food still tasted “arr”some, even if it took us two hours to eat!

Day 285 - Jess & Matt
(Photo by Ben, obviously.)

Congratulations again, Matt & Jess!

It sort of pains me to say it, but I’m kind of glad to be getting a little break from wedding season. Four weddings in three months, with two of them on back-to-back weekends, is just a lot! Not that I haven’t loved going to all of them but… well, I think it’ll just be easier for me to stay on track now. Of course, I still have to contend with an upcoming trip to Ottawa in two weeks… before the onslaught of the glorious, wondrous, phantasmagical holiday season! (Oh, sorry, did you guys forget how much I love the holidays?)

Lots to look forward to… and lots to navigate in terms of weight loss and training. Bring. It. On.

Living Healthy

Healthy living means a lot of things.

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It means salted edamame.

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It means tofu that is, yes, smothered in sauce.

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It means good-for-you sushi…

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…and not-so-good-for-you sushi, too.

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Hehehe.

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But hey, it’s okay. After all, you’re sharing with a friend!

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Recycled photo of Ania and me at the Falls Church Memorial Day Parade

After furnishing my pantry with some supplies from Trader Joe’s yesterday, Ania and I had a decadent sushi dinner at Koi Koi — where else? The cuisine, company, and conversation was just what I needed. Healthy living does, after all, extend beyond what we put in our mouths and do with our muscles! Mental and emotional wellbeing is just as, if not more, important than physical health (and failure to attend to all of the above inevitably results in a rapid degeneration of general wellness, as I know all too well.)


Unhealthy: physically, emotionally, mentally.

Grizzly Gretchen.
Getting there…

Between the evening and yesterday morning’s weigh-in, this week has kicked off surprisingly well! So I’m going to take my good mood (180-degrees from last week’s Gloomy Gussery) and do something potentially frightful:

Ask me anything.

No, really! This is your opportunity to ask any questions you might have for me regarding my journey, my methods, my habits, my food, my past… heck, even the dogs are fair game! I figure it’s about time I compile a good old-fashioned Q&A/FAQ page anyway, so this is where I’ll start. Not comfortable leaving your question in the comments? Feel free to DM me on Twitter or email me at gretchen@honeyishrunkthegretchen.com instead.

Ahhh, true pandering to my conceited and self-centered nature at last. πŸ˜‰ Knock yourselves out! This evening I’ll be auditing a culinary school class at a local institution. I’m really excited, so stay tuned for a report on that. Hopefully the chef won’t mind me bringing my camera…!