Weekend Wrap Up

Hello, friends! I hope you all had a fabulous weekend – I know I did!*

*except for the fact that I broke my fucking iPhone and am now phone-less.

Cory and I made the trip up to Northern Virginia to see our best couple friends, Bobby and Whitney! We had SUCH a good time, per the usual.

Friday night was casual and laid back, as all Fridays should be. Saturday, though, we hit the ground runnin’.

Our first stop of the day was (Dunkin Donuts) a local farmer’s market. I was so thrilled when Bobby mentioned it. Aren’t farmer’s market’s THE best? Especially when you can make friends with little lambs?

You know why this is funny? (Hint: My first name is actually Mary.) Get it? 😉

We had lunch at Cory’s favorite local place, District Taco. You guys know I’m all about the Mexican food, and when I say District Taco is legit, you better believe me. Anyone in NOVA care to chime in? 

We also stopped by The Container Store, which if you ask me, is total paradise. Even though I’m not the most organized person, this store made me WANT to be the most organized person. Ever.

Before, heading home to comfy pants and the most delicious home cooked food, we stopped by a local distillery (of which I cannot remember the name!) for a short tour.

It was a small place, and we joked about it’s semi-creepy location, but once inside it was neat. An employee explained the process of making liquor, which was actually quite interesting, but then there was the “liquid portion of the tour” which was terrifying.

 I don’t do shots (that often) so I was thankful that this tour was only $5 – because I handled one sip before I felt like I was going to vom everywhere. UGH.

Sunday morning we hit the road. I was anxious to save my doggy from the kennel, but you guys were right, he didn’t even miss us! Other than being a little hungrier than usual, Campbell is doing just fine! :)

Have a happy Tuesday, ladies and gents! 

The Little Things (that Make me Happy)

Life is so wonderful, and so full of happy things, that sometimes words fail to describe it’s goodness. If you look for them, the little things add up quickly, and it’s difficult not to be overwhelmed by joy.

Here are some little things that have happened lately that reminded me how HAPPY life can be 😉

– My brother’s girlfriend sent me the most perfect keychain ever. #HungerGamesSuperFan

– Going out to dinner with Cory, and getting overly excited when my best friend and her parents (my “Richmond parents”) walked through the door and got seated right next to us!

– Getting a haircut and not hating it. (Alert the press: I took a selfie! I took it to send to my mom, if that makes it any less douche-y.) I’ve been known to cry after getting haircuts, so this is so not a little thing. I wish I was kidding.

– Ethiopian food. Richmond friends, you MUST check out Addis downtown! The food is incredible, and the entire experience is (what I imagine to be) super authentic. I mean, any time I eat dinner without silverware, but with injera (Ethiopian bread), I consider it to be authentic.

– Waiting all week for my beloved Friday cup of decaf coffee. It might be the crazy in me, or the fact that I have dwindled my 4 – 5 cups of coffee per week to one cup of decaf coffee per week, but man, 7-11 coffee is where it’s at.

– A Sunday morning breakfast date with my main squeeze, and breaking my one-coffee-per-week-jail sentence – rule. Watch out world, a decaffeinated rebel walks amongst you. Richmond friends, Brick House Diner in Midlothian is the perfect little breakfast place!

– Hosting a bridal shower at my house for my friend, Danielle!

– Having a doggy who just wuvs to be near me.

– Having a functioning garage door thanks to my a) my parents for buying it and b) my SUPER handy husband. Seriously, there’s nothing that this guy can’t make/fix/do.

– Being well, appreciating the gift of an able-body (working out is a gift, not a chore!), and having a job that I genuinely enjoy! (<— Not little things, but they are things that make me happy every day!)

Let’s chat – Tell me a “little thing” that makes YOUR life great!

A Day at the [Doggy] Spa

It shames me to realize that I could easily be one of those bitties who wears a sweatshirt with her dog’s face screen printed on the front. You know, it would read: “World’s Best Boy” or something equally horrendous.

Yes, I’ve turned into that girl who unabashedly loves her dog and has fleeting moments in which she forgets her dog is not a human.

As some of you know, Campbell is a rescue dog; and while he’s come a LONG way since we adopted him in October, it’s safe to say that he’s still afraid of, well, everything.

On Saturday, we “treated” Campbell to a full-blown grooming experience. He was bathed, his nails were clipped, his teeth were brushed (thank GOD) his ears were cleaned and his anal gland was squeezed. Who knew that anal gland thing was important? Not this girl.

Needless to say, Campbell was a little nervous as we pulled into the PetSmart parking lot.

Cory and I were a little nervous, too. Cory was anxious because he thought Campbell might bite another dog (because it’s happened – twice) and I was nervous that my wittle baby boy would have a heart attack.

When we checked him in I firmly, yet kindly, reminded the Grooming Specialist, Jason about Campbell’s situation (Any Redskins/football fans catch the irony in this groomer/groom-y name situation?):

“Campbell’s a rescue dog who was abused. We don’t know how badly abused, but we know it was significant. He’s scared of everything, really. 

I then bent down to finish my conversation with Jason, through Campbell. You know how people do that? They use their dog to have conversations with people?

You’re aggressive with other dogs, but you just don’t know any better, do you, my wittle boooyyy? You have a kind heart.”

Jason had a glossy-eyed look about him, and I wanted to shake him and say “DID YOU HEAR ME?! DON’T SCARE MY SWEET BOY!” But I decided that might be in poor taste.

Four hours later, Campbell emerged as a whole new man dog! (and quite eager for some treats 😉 )

As we were leaving, Jason suggested we have Campbell groomed every four weeks.

Psh, not at $65 a pop, buddy. I don’t spend that kind of money on my own hair each month. See, sometimes I remember he’s a dog, not a human 😉

Let’s chat:

  • Does your pet enjoy being groomed?
  •  Who else talks to their pet like it’s a person? …Anyone?


Brunchy Weekend

Oh, Monday. We meet again. For a pretty lazy weekend, this one flew by!

Saturday morning was spent doing the three things I love most: spending time with Cory, working out, and eating.

Emily and I headed to BodyPUMP Saturday morning and I struggled through the new release. I had done it already, but maybe my body knew it was Saturday and was going on strike for being worked out 😉

After the ‘PUMP Cory and I walked over to LuLu’s for brunch.

My omelette was tasty, but the service was subpar and I feel like the menu was a little pricy for what we were getting.

The rest of the day was spent lounging around the apartment not doing much of anything. It was glorious. Campbell even picked up on our desire to do nothing and was just as lounge-y as we were. 😉

Sunday was yet another brunch – but this time is was with bloggers! Liz and Sarah set up an amazing brunch at Stella’s. The food was out of this world. I’ll be dreaming of that crab omelette for days…

The rest of my rainy Sunday was spent reading this.

I’m only 127 pages in, and I can’t stop reading. And I hate myself for it. The writing is horrendous – horrendous! – but I keep turning the pages.

If you haven’t read 50 Shades of Grey, it’s about a (virgin!) girl who meets this outrageously wealthy entrepreneur – who happens to be into all kinds of whips and chains.

And she’s like – Cool. I can get down with that. 


The graphic detail  of this book could leave even the most “experienced” ladies blushing, and the writing could make a 10th grade literature teacher throw the book across the room in fit of rage.

For the first time ever, I’m reading a book simply so I can be in on the discussion. (I chose to ignore such popular works as Harry Potter and Twilight.)

Let’s chat: 

  • Are you a brunch-y person? This weekend was the first time I’ve ever been out to brunch! 
  • Have you read 50 Shades? What did you think? (Without giving too much away!)

Sunday Funday Hike

Do you know why I love Twitter so much? Because it’s like a personal Google. All I have to do is ask a question, and someone is bound to answer it.

When I called out for any suggestions on where to find a good hiking spot in Richmond, Carter delivered in no time!

Cory, Campbell and I set out for Buttermilk Norhtbank Trail Loop around 9:00 on Sunday morning. The weather was beautiful, and we had absolutely no plans to attend to.

We walked the roughly 3 miles on Buttermilk, which was an awesome trail. The only qualm I had was that the tails were super narrow and it’s a hiking-slash-biking trail, so several times we were left standing on the edge of the trail to avoid a hiker/biker collision. That said, everyone we encountered was nothing but polite, so there were never any problems.

(Seriously, I fell twice and I was walking. How do people bike on stuff like this and not kill themselves?!)

Campbell isn’t very FitFluential, and was extremely parched two miles into the hike. We were thrilled when we found this mini-water fall. Not surprisingly, he was a mini-diva about the situation.


Once we reached the end of Buttermilk Trail, we walked across Boulevard Bridge which took us over the James River. I love the James – and I cannot wait for it to be consistently warm enough so that we can spend an afternoon on the river rocks.

Once we crossed the bridge, we started down the Northbank Trail, which continued on for another 3-ish miles.

By the end of our 2 hour and 40 minutes hike, we were reaching 7 miles and my legs were screaming at me. The previous morning, Emily and I went to Body Pump and I felt it was time to up my weights. Well, let’s just say after upping weights (hellooo, squats!) and a 7-mile hike, my legs are shot. 

Sore legs aside, it was an awesome way to spend our Sunday morning. It felt so great being outside and active with my little family 😉 A great end to the weekend if ya ask me!

Let’s chat – Fill in the blank: This weekend was totally ______. Relaxing! I loved not having any firm plans. That kind of weekend is few and far between in our lives!

Fitness: It Doesn’t Look the Same to Everyone

This morning I woke up and immediately slipped into gym clothes. I mindlessly laced up my shoes and haphazardly pinned my hair up into a mess that resembled a pony tail. If you can pick up on context clues, you have already made the connection that I wasn’t jazzed about going to the gym this morning.

I sat on the couch and pulled up some of my go-to blogs for workout inspiration. Surprisingly, nothing was jumping out at me.

I felt lazy and almost said “Forget it. Hopefully there’s an SVU marathon on this morning.”

But then I saw all these tweets about how nice the weather was this morning, and suddenly, I remembered:


…is more enjoyable than the treadmill.

So I decided I’d switch it up and take my main (furry) man on a long walk rather than half- assing it on the treadmill in a small, sweaty gym.

It’s amazing how much a 45-minute walk with in the sunshine with my dog impacted my mood. I wasn’t doing hardcore sprints, I wasn’t doing squats until I could no longer stand, and hell – I wasn’t even sweaty afterwards – but I felt good!

In my opinion, that’s what fitness is about. I’ll never run a marathon or have a six-pack, and that’s fine because those things aren’t for everyone (although I wish a six-pack was for me 😉 ) To me, fitness is about moving, variety, and feeling good yourself.

Let’s chat – Fill in the blank: To me, fitness is about __________. 

Scenes from the Weekend

The weekend started off in Richmond with searching for a place to live. You know, because we’re moving in 12 days.

Saturday was spent in Georgetown at CB2 (I’m obsessed. Find one near you!) and Sprinkles.

I ended up with the Salty Caramel cupcake. I was quite pleased with my decision.

We’re on a roll with places we want to eat at before we leave, so that night we hopped over to Thai Basil. The owner, at this location, beat Bobby Flay in a throw down :) I can’t even tell you what I got, as I couldn’t pronounce 90% of the menu – but it was delicious!

We have a Sunday tradition of going to Mass and then grabbing some breakfast. Yesterday we ended up at Manhattan Bagel and I ordered an egg and cheese sandwich on an everything bagel. SO GOOD!

Sunday dinner was a homemade recipe that one of my classmates gave me. It was a Rosemary Lemon Chicken dish that was really good! I’ll have the recipe up for you all shortly! :)

And of course, Campbell was trying to send me the message that I should not go to the gym – rather, I should sit on the floor and pet him all day.

Now I’m off to start my last week at work! So strange. Have a great Monday, my friends!

Let’s chat – What was the best thing you ate all weekend? I’ve got to say I loved every bite of that Salty Caramel cupcake from Sprinkles, even if I did have a sugar headache afterwards 😉

You Know You’re a Dog Owner When…

… You can’t help but talk to your dog in a “goo goo ga ga” voice. You know what I’m talking about. 

… You plan your social outings around your dog’s food and bowel movement schedule.

… You can’t watch TV without the feeling that someone is watching you.

… You want to kiss the inventor of the Kong.

… Your heart feels warm every time you walk in the door from work. Or from grocery shopping. Or from checking the mail.

… You (repeatedly) have the crazy idea that running with an animal will be a smooth, fun process.

… You have a great appreciation for fenced in yards.

…You, and only you, think it’s hilarious when you dress him up as his alter ego, Carlton.

… You want to photograph your pup all.the.time. I mean, everyone wants to see your dog sleeping. And eating. And playing fetch. And chewing on his favorite toy….right?

… You finally have someone who will sit down and watch Ellen with you. What? Your dog doesn’t like Ellen?

… Your life is just – happier  :)

Let’s chat – Are you an animal person? Until we adopted Campbell – my answer would have been no!

Domestic Redemption

While I dreamt of using my day off yesterday to sit around in my PJs and having a movie marathon, my productive husband had other plans for us.

We started day two of our 2012 in 2012 with a 5 mile run outside. It was freaking freezing. I’m pretty sure I caught a cold in those 48 minutes. I also fell in a pot hole 1.5 miles in while waving to a person in their front yard.

Yeah, this really is going to be a challenge.

After our run we finally, after six months, arranged our den. We threw out the shit we’ll never use and organized the shit that we think we’ll use from time to time. Who knew we’d be able to walk around that room one day?! I wanted to roll around on the floor just because I could.

Even Campbell doesn’t know what to do with all the newfound space.

 Then I felt the need to redeem myself from the DOHmestic moment I had a few weeks ago. Last night I made the very easy, very tasty, and pretty-healty Chicken and Chicken Sausage Jambalaya.

adapted from this recipe

First, I prepared the veggies. I chopped up 3 cloves of garlic, 1/2 C green pepper, 3 celery stalks, 1/2  onion

Next, I added EVOO to a heated deep sauce pan and browned the sausage links for one minute. Then I added the veggies, bay leaf, thyme, cayenne, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. I cooked that for 5 – 6 minutes over medium heat.

After the veggies were cooked, I added the brown rice, water, and chicken broth. I brought that to a boil and then reduced to a simmer and covered for 20 minutes.

When the rice was done, I added the shredded chicken breasts and diced tomatoes.

My chicken came straight from the crock pot so it was nice and hot. If you shredded your chicken in advance, let it cook for another 3 – 4 minutes so everything is nice and warm. All that’s left to do is serve and eat up!

The dish was delicious and there were no faux pas on my end! You know that means this one’s a keeper 😉

Let’s chat – Was your Monday a productive one? If it wasn’t, I’m pretty envious 😉


What a Year!

Happy 2012, my friends!! Seriously, 2011 was here and gone in a flash. I had such an amazing year, and my heart is filled with thanks and happiness whenever I look back on was has been, by far, the best year of my life (to date.)

After five years of a wonderful courtship, I married my best friend in the entire world. He’s a man that makes my days bright and my heart happy. In 2011 we moved in together, adopted a dog, bought a new car and have genuinely enjoyed the first few months of this thing called marriage.

I started this blog in January of 2011, and I’m amazed at how far it’s come in such a short amount of time. Through The Lunchbox Diaries, I’ve been able to do what makes me most happy, and that is to write; and I’m proud to be associated with amazing brands such as FitFluential and Love Grown Foods. What’s really cool though, it’s that I’ve created friendships via this little blog as well.

I <3 Alyssa

I surprised everyone, myself so very included, by running my first half marathon! It was definitely a fitness highlight of 2011.


 I traveled to New York City with my best friends, and I saw my “sisters from another mister” more times in one year than I think we ever have in our 23 years together.

I am healthy, happy, and my heart is full of love. I know how truly bless I am, and I am so thankful for everything that happened in 2011. I hope that 2012 brings new adventures, goals, and experiences for both me and you.

Share with me! What was a highlight of 2011 for you? And what are you most looking forward to in 2012?