Five Things Friday: 1.26.2018

First things first, if you're new to my blog, WELCOME! 

It's my first Five Things Friday of the year! Here goes...

1. Marathon training has been completely on hold this month due to work travel and illness (and the ridiculously cold temperatures we've had this month - I just don't handle the cold well). I'm hoping to get back into a better routine (or any routine) next week. I'm grateful I've been able to keep my nutrition on track thanks to some amazing products that get delivered to my door and I use every single day.

2. I'm on the Partners Board at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and we had our first meeting last week. The Trust is embarking on a new strategic plan and we've got a TON of fun things planned for 2018. Now is a better time than ever to consider becoming a member - there are SO many benefits. Mark your calendars now for Cultured Cocktails, coming April 28!

3. Anybody else check their credit score every week? Just me? I have a standing reminder on my calendar to log in to Credit Karma and get my free updated score each week! It is one of my many great tools I use to keep track of my financial picture. I'm planning to do a longer blog post on this soon!

4. My new Instagram BFFs are Little Miss Lola Doodle and The Cutest Clementine. Seriously, how can you not love these two?!?! 

5. I'm not planning much travel for 2018 (because I'm saving for a Eurotrip!) but I am thinking about squeezing in a trip to Chicago in March (thank you, free hotel nights!). Send me your restaurant recommendations! 

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Happy Friday everyone! 

2018 Goals!

Now is about the time that many people are falling off the wagon with their new year’s resolutions and goals, so I figured now was also the perfect time for me to share mine. I don’t really ever set resolutions, but I like to have some goals to focus on.

I’ve actually got some pretty big goals that I’m keeping private for right now (but if we’re friends IRL, please ask me about them!), but here’s what I’m putting out there for the world:


1. Read every day.

In 2016, I set a goal to read 52 books, or one per week. I actually surpassed this goal and read 53! I knew I wanted a slightly less aggressive goal in 2017, but I read even less than expected and probably read somewhere around 25-30 books (which is still a lot!).

To get back into reading more regularly, I’ve set a goal to read every single day (and so far I’ve still got a perfect record!). I use Goodreads to track my reading, and I’ve set a goal on there to read XX books, so I’m hoping daily reading time will help do the trick!

I’m not putting further parameters on what “read every day” means - so some days it may be a chapter, or other days might be a bit more, like the day recently where I had 3 hours of flights and read a few hundred pages.

I’m also committing to reading all of the unread books on my bookshelf (as opposed to the hundreds of unread books also sitting in my kindle app haha!)

2. Run 2 marathons.

I’m already registered for the 10th anniversary of the Pittsburgh Marathon in May (on my birthday!), so that’s one for sure. I’ve got a free entry for Akron in September and had a great experience there in 2017, so I’m definitely considering it again as well. I’m also tossing around some other ideas!


I'm also participating in the Run for a Reason program once again and am looking to raise $1000 for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation. I'm currently 15% completed with my goal. I'd love to see my friends and family sponsoring my race at $1 per mile (that's 26.2 miles, folks!). Even $0.50 per mile is a HUGE help and goes a long way towards funding a cure. You can donate by clicking HERE!

First things first - I’ve got to get back into a rhythm with running. The past few months have not included much running and while I’m ok with that and know I’ll get back into it, I also know these next few weeks will probably be rough, particularly with all the gross weather we’ve had.



3. Create a plan and budget for a trip to Europe.

A Eurotrip has been high on my bucket list for many years, so I’m determined to finally start making some plans!

I won’t be going on the trip or setting dates until I’ve met some financial goals I’m working towards, but I’m also hoping that making more concrete plans will help keep me focused on those goals.



4. Stick to my #powersheets.

I haven’t used a planner in many, many years thanks to technology because I keep my calendar and task list in Google Calendar, but I decided to try one out this year in hopes that seeing my goals in writing, on paper, in my own handwriting, will help me stay focused on them and not lose momentum. I figure if I’ve got to drag this book everywhere with me, I may as well smash the goals and plans written in it, right? :-p

After looking at a few options, I settled on the #powersheets planner from Cultivate What Matters. Unfortunately, they were sold out of the 12-month planner and aren’t restocking their inventory, so I purchased a 6 month calendar. I’ve been chipping away at it a little bit at a time and hope to have all of my action plans laid out by the end of next week!

This goal also encompasses achieving those other goals I vaguely mentioned at the beginning of this post, so it's actually more than just writing in a planner (though I'm definitely going to buy some fun new pens to write in it!)


Do you set New Year’s resolutions or goals? Share them in the comments!

2016: A Year in Review

Like most people, I can agree  with the sentiment that 2016 was a bit of a dumpster fire. I'm not really sad to see it go, but there were also a lot of highlights and memories made that I will cherish forever. Here is my 2016 year in review:

-I took trips to Chicago, San Antonio, DC, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Kansas City, Indianapolis (again), St. Louis (again), Dover, Niagara Falls, Riviera Maya, and Boston;

Kansas City has a pretty great skyline. #travelswithlauren #adventureisoutthere #collectmomentsnotthings

A post shared by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on


-I said goodbye to my beloved Grandma Margaret;

-I ran 26.2 miles and didn't die (mostly thanks to Jeff and Chelsea);

-I turned 30 and had two parties to celebrate;

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on May 7, 2016 at 7:24am PDT

-I celebrated the weddings of friends;

Whoever thinks running is a solitary sport is just. plain. wrong. 😘😘 #mcshuppwedding #ohana #manatees #runbutler
A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on May 22, 2016 at 4:35pm PDT

-I scrambled around downtown Pittsburgh with Laynie to find a place to watch the last few minutes of the Stanley Cup Final so I could see my favorite team win their 4th Stanley Cup;

-I watched David Boudia and Steele Johnson qualify for the Olympics in person;

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Jun 24, 2016 at 5:54am PDT

-I said goodbye to my childhood home and moved to a new one; 

Thanks for the memories, 431.

-I got to spend time with cherished friends;

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Jun 22, 2016 at 5:20pm PDT
A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Aug 8, 2016 at 6:00pm PDT

-I wish bon voyage to a dear friend who embarked on a huge adventure;

I am so proud of this brave girl, but damn I miss her! 

-I ran new race PRs (heyyyyyy sub-30 5k!);

And the season of PRs continued today with a HUGE PR at Buffalo Creek today."! 2:12:04 - holy crap! Huge thanks to @pghrunner for helping me through that final mile today! #hshive #nuunbassador #gameonpgh
A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Oct 15, 2016 at 1:36pm PDT

-I met one of my favorite people and told him he was my favorite (and he loved it);

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Oct 9, 2016 at 9:26am PDT

-I earned a medal the size of my head;

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Oct 24, 2016 at 9:07am PDT

-I discovered Popeye the Foodie and he became my favorite instagrammer; 

A photo posted by Popeye the Foodie Dog 😉 (@popeyethefoodie) on Nov 23, 2016 at 9:16am PST

-I took my racing international and also ran 3 half marathons in 3 weeks (including another HUGE PR);

-I visited every country in North America in 4 days;

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Nov 6, 2016 at 1:00pm PST

-I visited Mexico for the first time and watched my lovely roommate get married;

Nice close-up of the back of my head haha

-I raised a lot of money for CCFA;

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Nov 17, 2016 at 8:35am PST

-I read 53 books; 

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Nov 29, 2016 at 5:36am PST

-I celebrated my 4th anniversary with an organization that treats me like family (and I got a promotion!);

-I hugged my favorite super heroes 58982986389237967876532312787 times;

-Annnnnnnd I ended the year with a bout of shingles. But here's a picture of some of the many tacos I ate this year instead. 

When I write it all out like this, there was a lot more good than bad. But that doesn't mean I don't have big goals for 2017!

Five Things Friday: October 28

I've got five awesome things to share this week! 

1. I completed the Monster's Mash Half Marathon this weekend and earned a medal the size of my face!

#MedalMonday: I completed my 6th half marathon on Saturday! The race begins with a lap around the Dover International Speedway and ends next to the Miles the Monster statue! It was a windy and rainy one, but I had a pretty great race! 🏃🏼‍♀️🏅🏁#teamanchored #gameonpgh #nuunbassador #nuunlove #hshive
A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Oct 24, 2016 at 9:07am PDT

2. I had a GREAT customer service experience with WALMART this week. Yes,


 Walmart. I'm gonna write a whole blog post about it, but for now,

use this referral link

to save $10 off your first order! 

3. I'm all set for Trick-Or-Treat on Monday! I've picked up some of my favorite chocolate treats, as well as some fruit snacks that are allergen friendly! Check out the

Teal Pumpkin Project

and consider having allergen friendly treats available! 

4. Coach Jeff and I are headed to Niagara Falls, ON this weekend to run the Niagara Falls Marathon. I'm doing the Half and Jeff is going to crush the Full in order to gain a qualifying time for the JFK 50 Miler next fall. I'll have my phone on airplane mode, but will try and post to Instagram on wifi whenever I can. Follow along by following me on


and following the hashtags #PGHLaurenNATour and #CoachJeffJFK50 (and probably other hashtags I will make up on a whim). 

5. Speaking of #PGHLaurenNATour (NA stands for North America, by the way), I will be in all three North American countries within a span of 4 days! On Wednesday, I leave for Mexico to celebrate my college roommate Elyssa's wedding in Cancun! On the way home, I'll be spending a day in Miami as well and would love some restaurant recommendations, so leave your favorites in the comments below!!!

I'm back!

Since the last time I posted here was in July, I thought it was time for a new header and some updates. This wasn't an intentional blogging hiatus, but so much life has happened since then and I've just been focused on other things.

Up first, I've made progress on several of my goals! 

Successfully train for and run a marathon - DONE 5/1/2016

Raise $1000 for CCFA - DONE 5/1/2016

Run a sub-30 5k - DONE! I ran the Steelers 5k in 29:34 thanks to Coach Jeff's help and then ran the inaugural Flyby 5k in 29:30!

Run a sub-60 10k - still chasing this goal, but I did get a new 10k PR at the Great Race this year (1:01:29 so close!)

Run/walk 1500 miles - 66.41 (Jan) + 76.35 Feb) + 97.34 (Mar) + 94.08 (Apr) + 67.02 (May) + 53.28 (Jun) + 53.1 (Jul) + 8.51 (Aug - YIKES! But this is only what I actually tracked, so it's not


 bad) + 58.16 (Sep) = 574.25. 

Clean out my boxes in the basement - DONE! We moved in August (which contributed to the low mileage displayed above), but since then I've taken several very full carloads of stuff to Goodwill! 

Clean out the desk in my room that I never use - DONE! In fact, that desk is in the garage ready to be donated/sold. 

Read 52 books: I've read 36 so far this year! 

Use more vacation days: I'm going to Mexico in less than a month, so I'll be using at least a week then! 

Blog more: HAHA oops.

Actually sort through my pictures from Alaska so I can 


 blog about the experience and design and order photo books: HAHA maybe before the 2 year anniversary of the trip? The photos are mostly sorted - I just need to actually put the books together.

Denali National Park


As I mentioned above, we moved in August and I also had a huge work event, both of which went very well, but I'm glad to be done with. Moving to a smaller house has allowed us to go through and get rid of a lot of crap we don't need, and the result is a lot less clutter! 

As I also mentioned above, I'm going to Mexico next month! My college roommate Elyssa is getting married at the Hard Rock Riviera Maya. I've never been to Mexico so I'm looking forward to some pool time, margaritas, and as much chips and guac as I want!

Time to plug a great cause and a super fun event! I'm on the planning committee for Opening Night! A movie premiere event benefiting the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America - Western PA/WV chapter. This year we are premiering

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

 and will also be showing

Dr. Strange

 in a second theatre! Tickets are on sale now and we have some awesome things planned! For more information and to purchase tickets, click the picture! 

When I go to Mexico, I'll also be stopping in Miami for a day on the way home. Comment below with your suggestions for things to do and places to eat! 

2016 Goals

Remember when I said I was going to post my goals 2 weeks ago? Oops.

Here are my 2016 goals:

Successfully train for and run a marathon

Raise $1000 for CCFA

Run a sub-30 5k

Run a sub-60 10k

Run/walk 1500 miles

Clean out my boxes in the basement

Clean out the desk in my room that I never use

Read 52 books, including the large stack sitting on aforementioned desk (I've already read two so far!)

Use more vacation days 

Blog more. I currently have 11 drafts in various stages of completion about a variety of topics

Actually sort through my pictures from Alaska so I can finally blog about the experience and design and order photo books

What about you? Do you have goals for 2016? Comment below!

2015 in Review

2015 was a pretty good year. 

1. I ran my first half marathon! (And then ran 2 more as well)

2. I went to Alaska
Riding ATVs on the beach on Kodiak!

Whale watching in the Kenai Fjords and the Gulf of Alaska

The gate of Denali National Park

3. I visited 5 states for the first time (taking my total to 40!)

Beignets at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans

Japanese Gardens in Portland, OR

Tulips at Pike Place Market in Seattle

4. I got a promotion at work.
5. I presented at a professional conference for the first time.

6. I was selected as a Pittsburgh Marathon Blogger

7. I taught myself how to make grits (and they turned out amazing!)

Cheddar jalapeno grits with poached eggs

8. I read a ton of great books, my favorite being Otherhood by Melanie Notkin

9. I was on TV to promote a CCFA event.

10. Also, I raised over $1000 for CCFA!

With some fellow committee members at CCFA's Opening Night event

Check back tomorrow for my 2016 goals and plans! Happy New Year!

The Last Frontier

In case you've missed the news, I'm going to ALASKA in ONE WEEK! 

Along with Chelsea and Mike, I'll be spending time in:

We've got lots of fun lined up, incluing salmon/halibut fishing, hiking, playing with Husky puppies, a cruise in the Kenai Fjords, ziplining, moose watching, eating, running, and more! 

We will be running the Mayor's Midnight Sun Half Marathon and will hopefully have the chance to meet up with one of my Runspirations, NYC Running Mama who is also running! 

Have you ever been to Alaska? What do you recommend we see, eat, and do? Comment below! 

We are also accepting suggestions for a hashtag for our trip! Give us your ideas - if we choose yours, we'll send you a postcard (a real one! not a twitter one!) from Alaska! 


Sorry...I've been busy with work and life and truthfully, didn't have much I wanted to write about.

I stole this post idea from one of my favorite bloggers, Kym over at Our Fox Tales.

I am currently planning all my summer travel! The biggest trip is 14 days away, and we are going to ALASKA! More on that coming in another post (hopefully soon!). About a week after returning from Alaska, I will head to Scottsdale for a conference (in July, ugh).

I recently finished reading an article in the June 2015 issue of Runner's World about a race series held within the Oregon State Penitentiary. Yes, races inside a maximum security prison. It looks like an amazingly unique race experience and I quickly recruited Chelsea to go out there with me someday! You can learn more about racing at OSP here

I bought a French Press a few months ago, so I love the coffee I make with it! I usually buy Market District Italian Roast coffee. Or Dunkin Donuts. Can't go wrong with Dunkin. 

Long sleeves because our weather is batshit crazy and it's been cold again. 

Season 3 of Orphan Black. After finding the first two seasons on Amazon Prime, I am hooked! Tatiana Maslany is an amazing actress.

I also may re-watch Prison Break. I LOVED that show and I just learned that there may be a limited run re-boot with the original cast! YES, PLEASE!

An endless income stream to fund all this travel? Haha, but truthfully, I'm wanting to have barbeques with my friends this summer. I love the summer nights when we all bring food to share and sit around outside! 

Your turn! What are you currently planning, reading, drinking, wearing, watching, or wanting? Write a Currently post on your blog and link back here, or share your responses in the comments section down below!  

Running in New Orleans! (I'm back!)

I had the opportunity to travel to New Orleans last week a few weeks ago to attend the NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education - their alphabet soup doesn't match) Annual Conference. It was my first trip to New Orleans and I can't wait to go back and visit again! New Orleans a beautiful city, full of life and culture and fun things to do and SO MUCH AMAZING FOOD. 

I knew I would have Saturday morning free before the conference kicked off in full swing, so naturally, I looked to see if there were any races happening in New Orleans. This is how I found The Great St. Charles Avenue Road Race sponsored by the New Orleans Track Club. There are 10k, 5k, and 1mile races. I quickly registered for the 10k to try and work it into my "training plan" - the reason I use that in quotes will come in another post soon.

As the conference neared, I realized my friend Matthew (partner to the awesome Sarah over at Sparkly Runner) would also be attending the conference and quickly invited him to join me at the race!

I arrived in New Orleans Friday afternoon and after lunch and a nap (I had to be up at 3:30am for my flight!), I set out to explore the area a little bit and get a few miles in before the race the next morning. I knew the climate would be different than the winter conditions I'd left behind in Pittsburgh, so I was hoping to adjust at least a little bit. Holy heat and humidity! What I had planned to be a 3 mile run ended up being a 1 mile run with a 1 mile walk back. 

Matthew had 18 miles on his training plan for that Saturday, so he opted to run the ~4 miles to the race start and back. I took the streetcar up to the start and met up with Matthew. The high school where the start was at had amazing race support. All the volunteers were helpful and excited and so welcoming. We cheered as the 1-mile race kicked off and hung out until it was time for the 5k and 10k start. The cheerleading squad led the racers in dynamic stretching, the national anthem was performed, and then we were off! 

Matthew and I at the start!

The course started down St. Charles Avenue in the Garden District. There are beautiful homes and gardens through this section of New Orleans. We passed the picturesque campus of Loyola New Orleans and then headed into Audobon Park. The park itself was beautiful as well - full of palm trees and lush greenery. The course looped almost all the way around the park before turning around to head back out and back down St. Charles Avenue. 
Matthew snapped this as we passed in Audobon Park!
Before I arrived in New Orleans, I was planning to try and PR this race. The course was flat and I knew I could do it. However, I knew as soon as I stepped outside at the New Orleans airport that a PR would not be happening. The humidity was just too much - especially without any gradual transition to it. I decided to just have fun and do my best. 

Coming up to the finish line! No PR but definitely FUN!

I used more water in this race than I have ever used in any race before. I say "used" because while I drank a LOT, I also poured a lot over my head to cool off. The high school students volunteering at the water stations were super helpful with refilling my water bottle. They could tell I was struggling in the humidity haha. 

The cheerleading squad were lining the sides of the finish chute cheering everyone on - it was great! Matthew had already finished and was there to cheer me on and snap a few photos as well - thanks, Matthew! 
I met up with Matt and we downed some more water and got some more Smoothie King smoothies - yum! We also experienced a post-race first, jambalaya! The jambalaya was provided by a company called Cook Me Somethin' Mister! We met the owner, Kristen, and she told us how she started the company using her family's recipe and made all the jambalaya that morning herself! It was DELICIOUS! She also told us that she sells packages of the rice online at wholesale on Amazon. If you're looking for a fundraising idea, this is a great one! Check them out on Facebook

Thanks for the great post-race grub, Kristen! It was so great to meet you!
After the race, Matt and I parted ways so he could finish his miles by running back! I grabbed my free post-race beer (Bud Light) and decided to start walking back to see more of the Garden District. I figured if I got tired at some point I could hop on the streetcar, but I ended up walking the 4 miles back to the hotel! Later this week, this would probably come to be a mistake due to all the walking we did in New Orleans. 

5 Things Friday: Saturday Edition

This week did not go according to plan. I had chapter visits in Delaware and New Jersey, and then I was supposed to end the week with a chapter visit in NYC followed by a weekend of fun in the city! I had even signed up to run the 38th Annual NYPD vs FDNY 5-Miler in Central Park.

None of that happened, and I've been sitting at home clearing things off my DVR since Thursday evening. 

I had a cold last week, and then this week the cold was getting better, but I kept noticing I had pretty bad back pain. After a few days of it getting worse, I started to think it might be my kidneys. Wednesday night, I finally gave in and decided to come home rather than try and stick it out for the rest of the trip. The weather was super craptastic in NJ and PA (again - I drove through freezing rain on the way out) so it took longer than usual to get home - extra awesome.

I saw my PCP on Friday and she confirmed it is most likely a kidney infection and started me on some antibiotics. While I'm still super bummed about missing out on the fun weekend I had planned, I also fee like I'm glad it wasn't nothing (not that I'm particularly excited it's a kidney infection, either). And let's not even talk about how this has derailed my training plan - again. 

So here's five things...on Saturday:

1. I started listening to Serial on the drive home on Thursday. While I'm curious to listen through the end, I feel like a lot of people WAY over-hyped it. I also feel like those people have never seen an episode of Dateline. The Slender Man episode of 20/20 was way more of a nail-biter (and insomnia-inducer - shudder). 

2. I finally watched the last season of True Blood over the past few weeks - I'm sad it's really over! The ending was...meh.

3. I started watching Orphan Black last night - OMG why aren't more people talking about this? This show is great and, perhaps unlike Serial, I can't wait to see what happens next.

4. I'm looking forward to DC next weekend with Chelsea, Kelsey, Steff, Mel, and LB!

5.  Planning for Alaska this summer is in full swing! Any tips or suggestions! We will mostly be in Anchorage, with trips to Kodiak and Seward. 

Bed Bugs: A Survival Guide

As of January 27, 2015, I can cross BED BUGS off my travel bucket list (no, they certainly weren't on my list to begin with). I'm also hoping this means I can cross "Grossest Thing to Ever Happen To Me While Traveling EVER" off the list as well.

In case you were wondering, this is a bed bug:
And this is the stages of life for a bed bug:

If this doesn't make your skin crawl, we can't be friends. ICK.
Adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed, but you generally won't ever even see them since they like to hide out during the day and feed at night. They live off of human blood, and can live for up to 10 months without feeding (gross!). 

I woke up that morning to find a few insect bites on my arm. The weather in Texas was exceptionally nice that week (80 and sunny - in January!) so I had eaten my lunch outside in the grass the day before, so I thought maybe I got bit by something there. I re-checked the bed for bed bugs (I always do a cursory check when I enter a hotel room) and found *some* evidence, so I snapped a few pictures and sent them to my bed bug and insect infestation expert, my friend Erissa. 

This is the box springs - the mattress was clean. You can also see some evidence of bed bugs on the wall on the bottom right. 
Erissa has had the unfortunate luck of dealing with bed bugs and carpet beetles. She texted back and said it was possible, but not definite, so I didn't panic. I was scheduled to check out of the hotel that day anyway so I went on to the next stop on my trip.

By that evening, I was COVERED in itchy red bites. I stopped at a Target and bought some Benadryl and some Benadryl cream. I also had to find a laundromat that day to wash ALL of the clothes in my suitcase - how convenient.

Both of these photos were actually taken 8 days later, so it gives you an idea of how bad the bites were. This shows about 1/4 of the bites on my arm. 
The bites were suuuuuper itchy and inflamed and my foot actually swelled at various times from all the inflammation - this caused an unplanned break in my running :-/. I also had them in random places, like the palm of my hand, a fingertip, and four on my FACE (including one on my eyelid - !!!). 

Night time was the worst. Between the paranoia of bed bugs being at another hotel (I stayed at 3 more hotels in the 6 days following the incident) and having nothing to distract me from the itching, it usually took a while to fall asleep. 

Bed bugs: I don't recommend them. 

What can you to do prevent them?

Always check your hotel room before you bring your luggage in. If you must bring your luggage in, leave it in the bathroom.

Check the mattress on all sides, the box spring, and the walls near the bed. Most bed bugs are usually found within a few feet of the bed in hotel rooms. If you see anything, alert the hotel staff immediately and request a new room. 

Keep your luggage on the provided luggage rack whenever possible.

It is important to realize that bed bugs live on blood, not dirt, so their presence is not limited to "dirty, flea bag motels". This particular incident happened at a Hampton Inn (and the manager has compensated me and will be addressing the issue with the housekeeping staff so they know what to look for). Bed bugs can happen anywhere from college dorms to five star luxury hotels

What should you do if you do get bit?

Bed bugs are not known to carry human diseases, so the bites are relatively harmless and would only be likely to get infected if they were exposed to bacteria (like if you scratched them open). 

Salt water baths can help the bites heal faster - I found a combination of table salt and Epsom salt to be really effective in eliminating the itching and healing the bites faster. 

I also wiped the bites down with hydrogen peroxide before applying Aveeno lotion and Benadryl cream. I've taken Benadryl tablets each day too.

Try not to scratch the bites! This is hard. I was too little when I had the chicken pox to remember them, but I imagine it felt something like this. 

Who do you tell? 

I reported the incident to the hotel directly, and to Hilton (who owns the Hampton Inn brand). I also filed a report with the Texas health department and posted a review on Trip Advisor. I also filed it with the unofficial bed bug registry, but it doesn't really look like that's regularly updated anymore. 

Better safe than sorry! Always check and remember they can happen anywhere. If you ever aren't sure, feel free to send me some pictures as I'm happy to lend my expert advice haha. 

Have any of you ever experienced bed bugs? Have any additional tips or advice to share? Post in the comments! 

Four Things

Steff over at Run Steff Run posted a "4 things" post on her blog and I figured I'd jump on that train as well! 

Four names that people call me: 
1. Lauren
2. Hop
3. Red
4. Anna (this is what Dex and Quinn call me. We haven't figured this one out yet but I'm rolling with it!)

Four jobs I have had:
1. Retail (HELL)
2. New Student Orientation Coordinator (college)
3. Fraternity and Sorority Advisor
4. Teacher 

Four movies I have seen more than once:
1. Miracle
2. Legally Blonde
3. 10 Things I Hate About You
4. The Santa Clause

Four books I'd recommend:
1. I See Rude People (Amy Alkon)
2. The Providence Trilogy (Jamie McGuire - anything by JM really)
3. The Hunger Games Trilogy (Suzanne Collins)
4. I'd Like To Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had (Tony Danza)

Four Places I've Lived:
1. Plymouth, OH (Birthplace)
2. Cranberry Twp, PA (Growing up and current)
3. Erie, PA (College)
4. Richmond, VA (Previous work)

Four Places I've Been:
1. Badlands National Park (South Dakota)
2. Liechtenstein (and several other European countries)
3. Montreal, QC
4. Vancouver, BC (2010 Olympics)

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now:
1. Somewhere in the Carribbean, where it's warmer than 20F
2. Walt Disney World (my second home)
3. San Antonio, eating shrimp and grits
4. Europe

Four Things I Don't Eat:
1. Peas
2. Sauerkraut
3. Walnuts (it totally ruins a cookie/dessert when they put these in there!)
4. Lima beans

Four of My Favorite Foods:
1. Spaghetti
2. Cheese
3. Peanut butter pie
4. Sourdough bread

Four Things I'm Looking Forward to This Year:
1. Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend, including running my first half marathon!
2. Traveling to New Orleans for work
3. All the running weekends
4. Actually using some of my vacation time

Four Things I'm Saying:
1. Why are you so sucky, Highmark?
2. Something about Dex and Quinn
3. My spring travel schedule for work sucks
4. Deuces

Four People I'm Tagging:

Play along and leave one of your answers in the comments!