Budget shopping · Just for fun

Paris and Rome (and how I spent 8 days there on the cheap)

Last week, I was lucky enough to spend eight days in Europe with three of my closest friends. We spent two days travelling, three days in Paris, two days in Rome, and took a day trip to Pompei.

And we saw so much stuff.

And ate so much food.

And somehow, I did it all pretty cheaply.

Photo credit: K. Roth
Cheers to that!

Disclaimer: I am a young, single professional. For me, this was a budget trip. Whether it is for you or not, I hope you can find some of my experience useful.

My friends and I managed to jump on one of those crazy Groupon travel deals. Here’s a similar trip at a similar price. Because AirFrance was running a deal with Delta, we were able to fly nonstop out of Atlanta for a $20 fee, instead of having to find additional airfare to New York or Boston. We were also able to book tours through our travel agency, which cut down on time trying to find reliable vendors in the cities. From what I saw in the cities themselves, we got about the same deal booking ahead of time that we would have gotten booking on-site.

I chose to take 100 Euro per day that we would actually be in a city for the trip, but I came back with money left over, and could have bumped that amount down. I was able to eat, drink, and bring home lots and lots of souvenirs on that budget.

For transportation, we took the metro everywhere in these two cities. Even though we weren’t staying directly in the heart of either city, we were only a short metro ride away. It was so refreshing to be places where the public transit was effective and efficient! We even took a high-speed train to Pompei. Side note: Atlanta’s public transit is…not efficient, and I spent three years of my life riding it.

Finally, I saved money on food. Partly because I’m vegan, and pasta arrabiata is always one of the cheapest Italian options, but also partly because as a group we decided to eat one nice meal in each city, and go cheaper for all our other meals. We also always ate the free breakfast at the hotel.

I know that none of my ideas are groundbreaking, but for a long time I thought travel was too expensive for me, and that I would never be able to make it work. By carefully prioritizing my trip and my savings account, I was able to make a dream vacation happen for $1800, with different payments spread out over 9 months.

No that I know it’s possible, I’m so excited to find my next travel adventure!

Where is your favorite travel destination? Do you have any dream vacations?

Just for fun · Running

My running playlist is so cliché

When I see other bloggers post their “favorite running playlist” I’m always shocked by the diversity of the music. There seems to be a lot of slower songs, gentler songs, feel-good tunes (which I understand), and wordless electronica. Or maybe I just have a really cliché playlist.

For lack of a better term, I listen to straight-up 80’s cock rock. Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Journey, Motley Crue, Van Halen, etc. They’re called pump-up songs for a reason, people. There really isn’t any other feeling like hitting the last half mile of a long run and having ‘Eye of the Tiger’ or ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ blast through your headphones. Yeah, I really am cliché.


However, I do have a few not-as-popular songs that make it into my regular rotation. They offer me a really nice change of pace when I’m running, and they’re always songs I can sing along to in my head. They’re also almost all from the 90’s. When it comes to music, I’m totally stuck in the past.

1. ‘Argue’, Matchbox20

This gem off Matchbox20’s first album has an awesome driving beat that keeps me going. Also, it’s just plain catchy, and come on, what girl wouldn’t want to run towards 1996 Rob Thomas?


Forget Ryan Gosling, I’m gonna go catch me one of those.

2. ‘I Want You’, Savage Garden

This one’s just fun. It’s fast-paced, but honestly, I just love the lead singer’s voice and the chorus. I still am not 100% sure on the verses, but I definitely pretend I know the words while I’m running.

3. ‘Crawling in the Dark’, Hoobastank

Ok, so this one’s not from the 1990’s, but it is from 2001, so that’s pretty close. I catch a lot of grief for liking this song, but those beginning few chords have been a part of my pre-race pump up routine since middle school swimming. It’s just one of those songs that makes me feel like a little butt-kicker.

4. ‘Numb/Encore’, Linkin Park and Jay-Z

Another one not from the 90’s, but from the early 2000’s. Really anything off this album is on my eternal running playlist. The beat keeps me going, plus I can pretend I can actually rap in my head. Fun fact: I learned all the words to 99 Problems by running to this album. I used to entertain my old roommates in the car on long rides by rapping for them.


Imagine that face rapping for you. Terrifying.

Looking at that list, it’s still pretty cliché. I’m not going to lie and say I have OMGawesome taste in music, and I’m totally living in the past on my iPod, but I’m okay with that. After all, the stereotypical workout songs are that way for a reason, right?

Just for fun

Picnic in the park(ing lot)

Since the weather here in ATL has taken a turn for the beautiful, one of my coworkers and I decided to treat ourselves to lunch outdoors today. I’m usually good about bringing my lunch to work, but after a stressful few days (we’re super understaffed), we decided to actually venture out of the break room, get lunch from a Yeah Burger, and enjoy some sunshine.

My veggie burger with Swiss and sautéed mushrooms was the bomb diggity. I got sweet potato fries for my side and it was the best darn lunch I’ve had in a while.
In a super classy move, we set up shop on a loading dock across the street from our building. Yeah, it was a romantic coworker date all right.

I loved getting outside. There’s something about nice weather that just erases all the stress I feel throughout the day. It helps get me recentered. At the end of the day, I’m happy I have a job doing something that’s fulfilling, and in really grateful to have awesome coworkers to get through it with.

Yeah, I’m sappy today. Deal with it.

In other news, my new Mizuno running shoes came in the mail and I can’t wait to break them in running outside in all this beauty. And pollen. But mostly beauty.

What do you do to beta workday stress?

How often do you treat yourself to a nice meal out?

Just for fun

Baby showering

A few weeks ago, I attended the baby shower of one of my closest friends. She’s the first out of our old group to get married and have a baby, so this is super exciting for all of us.


Also, any party honoring this girl is awesome, because her momma knows how to throw a killer shindig.

I love these events for a few reasons:

A) The food is always superb. At the shower, it was breakfast casseroles, a fruit salad with some of the best strawberries I’ve ever had, and “dot” shortbread cookies from everyone’s fave bakery, Henri’s.

B) All of us have moved on with our lives in very different directions, so it’s fun being back together and catching up. I’ve probably drifted away the most—my life has changed so dramatically in the past year and a half that I can barely keep up with anyone anymore.

C) Any shower, wedding, or other event gives me an excuse to get dressed up. I wear khakis and a polo to work every day, so I’ll take any reason I can to look (and feel) pretty!

For the gifting, I went a little crazy at this awesome baby boutique called Baby Braithwaite here in Atlanta. They have the cutest stuff in the entire world. Attention all friends: you need to get pregnant ASAP so that I have another excuse to go here. I went with a lamb theme and scored great stuff on and off the mom-to-be’s registry.


Here’s the lamb belly blanket I gave her. Softest thing ever. Do they make that in my size?

shower gifts

How cute is baby gift wrap? Also, is it obvious she’s having a girl from all the pink?

It’s rare that I have a chance to catch up with everyone, so I’m always really grateful for these opportunities. It can be easy for me to get wrapped up in everything crazy that I have going on in my life, and I quickly forget to keep in touch with old friends.

As much as I try to make the most of these events, I’ve got to remember that reaching out when there’s not an impending birth is just as important, too. These are friendships I spent time cultivating, but the second life gets crazy, I go MIA.

And who wouldn’t want to keep up with these pretty faces?


group shower

UPDATE: Beautiful Princess Piper was born just a week later. She is the most perfect thing I think I’ve ever seen in my entire life.


Just for fun

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

You like me! You really like me!


I’m feeling an awful lot like Sally Field right now, because Kristin from Run Runner Girl Run nominated me for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award. I literally feel so unbelievably honored by this. First off, I’m honored that people actually read my random ramblings (ooh, alliteration…I like it!), and I’m also honored that I’m not being nominated for a “get off the web, crazy lady!” award.

Anyways, at least Kristin seems to think my blog is worth reading. Seriously, check her blog out. It’s the business.

So here are the rules for the Very Inspiring Blog Award:


  • Display the award logo in your post.
  • Link back to the person who nominated you.
  • State 7 things about yourself.
  • Nominate other bloggers.
  • Leave said other bloggers a comment letting them know of the nomination and award requirements.

Ready? Let’s go!

1. I break expensive electronics.

People have may have mentioned that I really shouldn’t have nice things. I’m known for being hell on electronics. Between 20 and 23 I went through probably over 10 cell phones. But, I have kept my iPhone in working order for a year now, and my Kindle’s still kicking after six months. That’s improvement, right?

2. I read constantly.

I’ve loved to read ever since I was a little girl. I read fast, I read voraciously, and I’m always looking for new books. Getting a Kindle as a housewarming gift (thanks, Daddy!) was possibly the greatest moment of my year. I just finished A Game of Thrones, and I’m definitely hooked into A Song of Ice and Fire now. If you have any book recommendations, please, please let me know!

3. I have a tendency to choose sports that aren’t fun.

I had a conversation with a friend last night who also rowed in college. We agree that frankly, there is nothing fun about rowing unless you win and get to throw your coxswain in the water.


I mean really, there’s just nothing fun about being in incredible pain for 7-20 minutes depending on your race. Also, swimming’s the same way. With running, I have fun, change up the pace, and relax and enjoy myself. With rowing and swimming, if you can walk at the end of your race, you didn’t try hard enough. Seriously, I’ve been told that by coaches. So why did I do them? The same reason I like crushing myself under heavy weights. I love seeing just how far I can push my body before it craps out on me.

4. I text and type with correct grammar.

I am a total grammar nazi. I really hate getting emails that are full of spelling and grammatical errors. I deal with it, because it’s my quirky idiosyncrasy, but it makes me grit my teeth and take a deep breath. Text messages I’m a little more lenient on, but you’ll never catch me writing “you” as the letter “u”.

5.  The Olympics might be the greatest thing ever.

The Olympics make me so happy. I mean, so unbelievably happy I could scream with joy. There’s something about all the countries coming together and the level of competition that gives me chills. I don’t discriminate summer or winter, either. They both make me deliriously happy. And I watch it all. Even the super random sports (table tennis?) that no one else watches, I DVR and watch. Yeah, the Olympics are possibly the greatest thing in modern civilization.

6. I’m a Greek and Roman mythology buff.

Speaking of modern civilization, I actually have a fascination with all things ancient. Greece and Rome are both on my bucket list of places to visit. When I’m bored, I’ll read from mythology on my laptop. If a book or a movie or a TV show involves the Greek and Roman gods, I’m totally down to read or see it.

7. I’m still learning to love my body.

In ED recovery, the thing I struggle the most with is the inability to stop seeing a heavier person in the mirror. When other people tell me I’m thin, or I look great, it somehow doesn’t quite register in my head. It’s a work in progress, but the further I get from active self-destruction, the easier it is to not hate my body. Not hating is a good start—the love will come.

I pass this award to:

Chelsie at www.balancenotscale.com

Katie at www.sassandbalderdash.com

Ali at www.aliontherunblog.com

Emily at www.sweatonceaday.com

Just for fun

Last call

I’m still in a little bit of a congested head fog, and am having a hard time thinking of anything to write, so I stole a survey from Chelsie at Scale Does Not Equal Balance. I read her blog almost every day, and have even had her guest post, so if I’m going to steal from anyone…at least I think she won’t mind.

1. Last food you ate?

Well, I’m blogging post-breakfast, so I just had a bowl of cereal, some almond milk, and a clementine. I’m so glad Harry’s still has clementines because I love them. We forgot to get candy for trick-or-treaters last night (I know, we’re awful), and thankfully we didn’t have trick-or-treaters this year. But I could have given them a clementine. And then prayed that my house wouldn’t get egged.

2. Last beverage you drank?

I had wayyyyyy too many cups of coffee last night hanging out at a local diner with some friends.


Seriously, I was wired until about 3 am. It was bad news bears.

3. Last workout?

I’ve totally fallen off the workout wagon since getting sick, but I did fit in some yoga a few days ago. I need to get running soon for the half marathon!

4. Last thing you pinned?

How to Gangnam Style.


5. Last text message you sent?

“Let me know when you wake up.” to my roomie. We have to go pay rent today!

6. Last blog you visited?

Chelsie’s since I stole this from her. But before that, Skinny Runner.

7. Last tweet you sent?

“At the doctor’s office…can I please not be sick anymore? #ihateneedles”. Thankfully, no shots for me! However, my dad did buck up and get his flu shot (fo’ free!)

8. Last place you visited?

Marietta Diner

9. Last time you did ab work?

It’s been a while! Not sure…so I guess today it is!

10. Last show you watched?

Big Bang Theory. Duh.


11. Last thing you baked?

I haven’t baked in a long time…I prefer cooking to baking.

12. What is the last thing you Instagrammed?

A picture of Sadie, my favorite dog at work right now. She’s only four and has had a hard life…she’s already gray at the muzzle and has no teeth Sad smile. But she gives me hugs every time I come see her! If it works out that I can eventually adopt her, I will.


13. Last item on your to-do list today?

Set my alarm to make sure I do my long run on Friday!

Take any question and answer away!!

What did you do for Halloween this year?

If you were a superhero, what would your name and superpower be, and why?

Just for fun

A fly on the wall

Eep! This is the longest I’ve gone without blogging since I started Adventures in Living Lean. And I’ve missed it. I was dealing with some family things this past week, and honestly, blogging wasn’t a priority.

It is really cool that I’m at a point in my life again where I can say “family comes first” and mean it. Because when I was 17-22…it didn’t. Social life definitely came first. And these days, it just doesn’t.

However, I did sneak in some social life time last night to see my friend PJ play with his friend’s band.


There’s the man of the night with me and my roomies. Also, if you watch Walking Dead, he was a walker on the first episode of season 3. Yeah, he’s pretty cool. I guess.

I tell you, I have talented friends. Now, can they help a girl out?

It’s strange to go back into a bar after staying out of them for a while. I spent quite a few years of my life being a barfly, and eventually, it stopped being fun. I didn’t want to go out, but I felt like I had to in order to have a fulfilling social life. Today, I go to a bar when I have a reason to (even if the reason is that I just want to shoot pool with some buddies), instead of feeling like I’ll be left out if I don’t show up that night.

There’s been an interesting shift in planning my social calendar. Instead of saying “which bar do you want to go to?” we say “well, we could watch movies, play board games, or go hear a band.” Planning my life doesn’t revolve around the bar.

Frankly, most of the time, I’d rather catch up on my Tivo and go to bed. I keep telling you guys, as much as I pretend I’m cool, I’m really lame. I guess that’s where acting like an adult comes in.


Nah, I’m not depressed. I actually like being an adult. Most of the time.

Of course, it saves me from looking like I could be Tara Reid’s long-lost sister.


It’s so much more fun to watch the girls who act like this instead of worrying about being the girl who could act like this.

Not to mention, I save tons of money not drinking. Or buying Gatorade and Advil for the hangover. Or trying to blot out the moral hangover. Let’s just agree, hangovers of all forms suck.

As you’ve gotten older, how has your social life changed?

What do you and your friends normally do for fun?

Budget shopping · Just for fun

My favorite things: legs edition


Clearly, this picture constitutes everything I like to wear on my bottom half. End of blog.

Really, I’ve spent time over the years finding what products I can’t live without, workout or otherwise.

Nike Tempos


I have a rainbow of Nike Tempo running shorts. That picture is probably only half of the Norts (Nike shorts, see what I did there?) that I own. Some are in the laundry, some are at my parents, and some have probably been sacrifices to the closet gods over the years.

I wear them all.the.time. For running, for walking, for weight training, for circuit workouts, for grocery shopping, for laying around the house, for sleeping, etc. If it’s an occasion where I’m not required to look like a semi-decent human being, I’m probably wearing Tempos.

I’ve been on the Tempo track since high school and early college. They’re just so darn comfy. And the length hides my upper thigh chub. In fact, when TJ Maxx had them on sale, I eventually had to ban myself from going. Seriously, I’d walk in for a tank top and walk out with 6 new Norts.

Joe’s Jeans Honey Curvy Boot Cut Jean


Another closet staple since early college, the Honey Boot Cut has been my large-bootied and small-waisted self’s best friend. For eons (okay, puberty to 19), I struggled to find jeans that wouldn’t gap like the Grand Canyon in the back. If they fit my waist, they weren’t going over my hips. If they fit my hips…gap city, trick, gap gap city, trick.

Then Joe’s entered my life. I’ve never had a gap issue with the Honey. I would probably have built a collection worthy of its own closet now, but I couldn’t wear them when I was at heavier weights.

But since Joe is fitting again, our relationship has resumed. The length, the hip-to-waist ratio, the fabric—it’s all spot on. They’re pricey, but I can often find them on sale at Loehmann’s and Nordstrom Rack. Or ask really nicely for them for Christmas.

Spanx Look-at-me Leggings


Spanx. The word itself brings to mind celebrities shimmying into they’re control tops before hitting the red carpet. But since I’m nowhere near a red carpet, I decided to take a more laid-back approach to my muffin-top wrangling. Or, my mom bought me the leggings and I fell in love. Take your pick.

These are perfect under all those slightly-too-short dresses that I bought thinking they wouldn’t shrink in the wash. Spoiler alert: they shrunk. And are now not so decent for wear by themselves. But these leggings fix that. Don’t worry. I’m not running around with my booty out. I’m just a little more modest than wearing mini-mini-mini dresses in public. Or private, for that matter.

Not only do I get a great way to wear dresses that had been eliminated from my wardrobe, but I also get to reap the smoothing benefits of the LAM’s. They just have a way of making little lumps and bumps disappear. It’s a beautiful thing.

That wraps up this episode of My Favorite Things. I know you’re feeling the urge to run out and buy all this stuff right now, just because I said it’s cool and you want to be like me… DO IT. DO IT NOW.

Do you have any brands you swear by?

What is your favorite brand of jeans?

Any pricey items you think are totally 100% worth it?

Healthy living · Just for fun · Running

Talkin’ peppy

Since I have to head back to work tomorrow, I decided to take it easy today. That is, after I earned it with a long run this morning.

The first day of the Great Early Bird Experiment went well. I woke up and the (not) crack of dawn (7 am) to get ready for an 8-miler.

It. Sucked.

I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to give up on a run so badly before. In fact, at mile 5 I did give up. I had just taken a gel and drank about 16 ounces of Powerade, and I was trying to talk myself into finishing my last three miles. But I just turned off my Nike+ and stopped. Keep in mind, I was still 3 miles from home. However, I stopped for a few minutes to stretch and give myself a pep talk. I had been running without music, so I popped my earbuds in and started jamming out to some 90’s music.

I pushed through. It was ugly, it was slow, and it wasn’t fun, but I pushed through it. And I’m proud that I did.

After the run, my mom came up and we did a little dress shopping for my friend’s wedding.

David’s Bridal and Jessica Simpson to the rescue! I won’t be revealing the outfit until the wedding day, but I’m pretty excited about the choices.

I usually hate shopping for dresses. I don’t have a lot of confidence dressing up for events…I still feel like a little girl playing in mommy’s closet. This is one of the first events I haven’t been able to go to my LBD for. I decided on a grown-up, sophisticated look for this event, and hopefully, I’ll own it. I’m still working on the confidence, but it’s coming a little at a time.

Now, after a full day of running and shopping, I’m going to spend the rest of the evening curled up under a blanket, reading this:

Feet up, magazine in my hand, Once Upon a Time on the boob tube. Can it get better?

Healthy living · Just for fun

I’m weird

One of my favorite quotes is from the Breakfast Club.


However, I’m tired of hiding that I’m bizarre. Pretending to be perfect is exhausting. This past year, I’ve been learning that lesson on a regular basis. Not only is it exhausting—it robs us of who we really are.

This is all coming up for me because one of my closest friends is getting married in a few weeks. Many of the guests are going to be people I haven’t seen in close to a year. Instead of being excited to see my old friends, my first instinct was to figure out how I could make them think that everything was perfect in my life.

Guess what? Everything’s not perfect. I don’t have a car, I work for fairly low pay, and I don’t look like Heidi Klum. But life not being perfect doesn’t mean that life’s not good. Life, in reality, is pretty awesome most of the time.

And part of my awesome life is being bizarre. I mean, I really am a ginormous nerd. I don’t say that in a self-deprecating way—I’m a proud nerd! I wrote a research paper on Scooby-Doo in college, I’ve read every Harry Potter at least 10 times, and I play hidden object games on my computer to pass the time. And I think that’s pretty sweet.


I’m lucky to have friends who love my bizarre-o ways. The conversations I have with my close friends can be absolutely insane. And that’s part of what makes life so good today. I love having people in my life who not only accept my nerdiness, but embrace it.

In honor of them, here are 5 bizarre things about myself that I think are actually cool:

  1. In addition to writing a term paper (that I got a 97 on) about Scooby Doo, I have seen every episode and movie ever made. At this point, I realize the direct-to-DVD movies are awful, but I can’t not watch the new one!clip-art-scooby-doo-308243
  2. I still listen to MMMBop on a regular basis. Don’t tell me you don’t still heart Hanson.
  3. I follow both Voldemort and Snape on Twitter. Expect retweets to start happening.
  4. I am obsessed with all things Wizard of Oz. “Tin Man” was epic for me, and I own an I Red heart OZ shirt that I wear with pride.
  5. I frequently break out the “Cameron Diaz” on the dance floor. Not in my underwear, though. I’m not that bizarre!


So to sum it up: weird and nerdy is awesome.

What weird things about yourself do you think are actually incredibly awesome?

How does your inner nerd come out?