Pick Your Own Adventure

This weekend the Mr. and I, along with a friend, decided to take another turn at pick your own in Northern Virginia. A few years ago we went to Stribling Orchard to pick our own apples. While we enjoyed our time there, we wanted to see what else was out there. After some rather informal Googling, we decided to try Hollin Farms.

Located in Fauquier County, Hollin Farms didn’t take too long to travel to from the DC area. When we pull dup we saw that we would need to drive straight up a narrow windy road to make it to the orchard. I would have taken pictures but I was driving. Suffice to say that my little car had a somewhat difficult time making it all the way up and we had to deal with some inconsiderate drivers who decided to go straight down the center of a narrow road, but my little car is a champ and we arrived right around 2pm. Someone was there to direct us to a parking spot which was a very nice touch.

The views when we got to the top made all the dangerous driving worth it:



We wandered around picking different types of apples including cameos and galas (two of my favorites).



We chose a good time to go since we still had plenty of apples to choose from!





We even saw a few lovelies hanging out eating some of the over ripe apples:


One of the really nice things about Hollin is that they also have pick your own veggies and sunflowers! We didn’t pick our own veggies this time (it was in the mid 80s randomly so we were sweating and ready for some a/c) but it was still pretty to look at.



The sunflowers were beautiful which surprised me. I always pictured sunflowers as a spring and summer flower but you learn something new everyday!







All in all it was a lovely day and I think we have a new favorite place to Apple pick.

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Outdoor Adventures: Great Falls Virginia


Fall isn’t even officially here yet, but we have been getting a lot of fall like weather here. Call me suspicious, but I am afraid that this cold summer will also mean a cold winter. With that in mind, I am determined to enjoy the great outdoors as much as possible before the months of hibernation begin.

This weekend I went to Great Falls in Virginia. Just 20 or so minutes outside of DC, the Great Falls area has a few trails that you can hike as well as a big park ground and some amazing views. My friend and I decided to go the hiking route, so we parked about 4 miles from the most important part and started hiking.

Nature's bridge
Nature’s bridge

The walk was beautiful, but my friend who had been there before thought that it didn’t look too familiar. At that point we decided to take out the iPhone and drop a pin. Unfotunately, we discovered that we were going the wrong way on our first try. After going about a mile in the wrong direction we turned around and came back.

Then we actually set out to the falls.



The views on the walk are pretty spectacular, and you can even catch some adventurous people in the water. But those views are nothing like the payoff at the end:


Check that out for a minute.




It was truly breathtaking. Totally worth the effort of getting there. Of course that means we had to do the full 4 miles back, which was somewhat exhausting. We did have a few buddies to keep us company on the walk back to the car:


Friendliest deer ever. Didn’t even care we were there. Totally worth the effort and now permanently on my list of places to visit and visit often. When that beauty is only 20 minutes away, there is really no excuse.


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My Weekend at Bossed Up Bootcamp

This weekend I took a chance and took some time for myself by stepping a little out of my comfort zone. I went to a personal and professional development workshop for women called “Bossed Up Bootcamp.” The bootcamp was put on by the amazing ladies at Bossedup.org. To say that I had an extraordinary time would be an understatement.

bossed up

Signing up was a little intimidating. I wondered if I would be totally out of place at this event. Would everyone be younger than me and looking for advice trying to find their first job? Would everyone be older than me and have career issues and family concerns to work on that went beyond my current position in life? Working at a nonprofit and having a rather overwhelming level of debt, I was a little apprehensive since it is an expensive program, but I thought even if you just added up some of the experiences I would probably come close to breaking even. So, I signed up and showed up Friday night ready to take on whatever challenge was thrown my way.

Immediately upon entering the first night of Bootcamp I was thrilled with my decision. I walked into a room of inviting, enthusiastic and lively women. Everyone was eager to meet new people and hear how we heard about the program. As soon as my new Bootcamp buddy and I went from talking about the gender and racial dynamics in America to talking about Kanye’s love for Kanye, I knew I was going to be right in my element.

While Friday night was fun and filled with laughs, Saturday was enlightening. Without giving too much of their program away, we were asked to really take an introspective look at ourselves and focus in on what matters to us and what our ultimate goals are in different areas of our lives. The first time I stated my main goal out loud it felt a little shocking. The second time it felt a little more comfortable. By the third time I stated my goal, I OWNED it. It was a quick and shocking transformation for me yet it felt so natural because I was in an open and welcome environment. I not only felt comfortable reaching high for my dreams, I felt like I would be letting myself and my classmates down if I didn’t reach as high as I could go.

Often times people think that young women who want to work on their personal lives can’t be focused on their work. They think that women who focus on work can’t possibly have diverse interests outside of the office. A strong feminist can’t possibly enjoy gardening, baking, or knitting like those 1950s women did. Working out to feel good about yourself must mean that you put an emphasis on looks over success and intellect. But talking with everyone at Bootcamp showed me that it’s not weird to be a complex and sometimes contradicting person (if you were simply to list out my qualities and interests on paper that is).

You may be wondering if a Bossed Up Bootcamp is for you, and here is what I will say: bootcamp is for anyone who wants to give themselves the opportunity to thrive. I got quite a few “things” out of this weekend including

  • a professional headshot (I really needed one and to be honest this was one of the most appealing parts of the weekend to me before I signed up)
  • a clear vision of what direction I want to take my life in the next few years
  • a plan to work towards both my short and long terms goals
  • a workbook full of information and insight
  • an amazing group of women who I know will motivate me as I watch them conquer the world
  • plus a workout class and lots of yummy* healthy food all weekend!

We were a room full of women, some younger some older, from all over the country originally who were all complex vibrant and beautiful in so many different ways. Every single woman in my class inspired me in one way or another and it’s not often that we have a chance to surround ourselves with inspiring people for a whole weekend. If you have the opportunity to attend a Bossed Up Bootcamp, I really cannot recommend it enough. I know that it changed me for the better and can do the same for you.

*most of the food was healthy. at brunch on the final day I ordered crab cake benedict… not so healthy but oh so good:

I mean... come on...
I mean… come on…


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Bruno Mars (aka why I will never go back to Jiffy Lube Live again)

It’s been a week and I am finally ready to post about the Bruno Mars concert at Jiffy Lube Live. I bought tickets for the Mr and I the day after the Super Bowl where Bruno Mars absolutely crushed it as the half time performer. We have been excited about this show for MONTHS, so our actual experience was really surprisingly disappointing.

The good: Bruno Mars, his band, the weather


Seriously, Bruno Mars sounds better in person than on the radio. His voice is so strong, his band is phenomenal and at one point he even jumped on the drums (normally played by his brother) and went nuts. He is such an amazing performer and I can’t really put into words how good he sounds.  If you’re on instagram, you can check out a brief video that I posted on my profile (cmtiu).


There was fire


And dancing IMG_1621

Lots of great special effectsIMG_1617


But the best was just him singing. The crowd was filled with young and old (and the people like us somewhere in the middle of middle schoolers and retirees), couples and groups of girl friends all singing along and dancing the night away. It was a concert that brought together all ages and races which is always a lovely experience. He was so entertaining and I would 100% pay to go see him again.

The opening act was Aloe Blacc. How was he? Well I have no idea because we missed his performance, along with half of Bruno Mars’ performance. Which brings me to the bad:

The bad: The venue screwed up at every opportunity, didn’t have enough staff, directed traffic incorrectly, and cost us half of the concert in the process.

We left our house for the venue (which is 40 minutes away) and hour and a half before the opening act was set to start. We thought that even if we hit traffic we would maybe miss some of the opener. Nope. There is only one entrance to Jiffy Lube Live. You would think that knowing this, they would tell the cops to have an even flow of traffic from the two roads (one highway, one local) so that everyone can get in and get to see the show. Instead, the Jiffy Lube staff and police let everyone in from the local road, followed by 5 or 10 cars from the highway (where the majority of the people were coming). Repeat x a million.

It ended up taking us over 3 hours to get in to the venue and to our seats. 90% of that time was spent sitting on the highway at the exit that leads to the entrance or just outside of the entrance. As we were trying to get in we could hear Bruno Mars playing and had to listen in the distance as our experience that we paid handsomely for just drifted away without us.

We finally got in to the parking lot, only to discover that getting out of the parking lot at night was going to be a huge problem. We noticed that everyone who was “directing traffic” at Jiffy Lube seemed to be too young to even drive a car themselves. At the end of the night, after hearing 6 Bruno Mars songs (which we paid about $32 a pop for) we got to our car and proceeded to wait for over an hour just to try to get out. The “staff” at Jiffy Lube was not actually directing traffic until it had pretty much cleared out.

To say that the Jiffy Lube location ruined the concert for us would be an understatement. Bruno Mars was amazing, I’m sure Aloe Blacc was as well but we will never know. I will buy Bruno Mars tickets again, especially considering I missed most of my favorite songs. That said, I will never give any money to Jiffy Lube Live ever again and will try to talk every person I know out of attending a concert there. Which is disappointing since Jimmy Buffet is a regular there and I love me some Jimmy.

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