Going alcohol free for 28 days was a way for me to refocus on me, myself, and the things I'd been "meaning to do" for too long.
The past month has been filled with worthwhile experiences, belly laughs, some great workouts, some relaxing days and lots of learning moments.
A Trip to Buffalo
After spending time in Buffalo last year for a work trip, I was excited to return this spring.
The Healthy Scratch
All 8 days, my breakfasts and lunches came from The Healthy Scratch. I was overjoyed to have them nearby for healthy, nutritious food. I ate my smoothie with a spoon and added some granola on top and I found that it was super satisfying - usually when I drink my breakfast from a straw, I still feel like I need to eat something.
The Buffalo food scene impresses me whenever I go, and we had some more delicious meals.
Most notable was the discovery of The Mahony, located inside an old creamery building which creates a trendy vibe. The menu is diverse and unique - one night we went there was even live music.
We also ate at Chef's - which, though not my cup of tea, is a very historic restaurant in Buffalo that has been around since 1923! Their menu is like a mini history book - with stories about how they moved the oven from the bakery that used to make their bread to their new location and hired the head baker. And the story of how their famous dish, "spaghetti parmigiana" was created. Picture a pile of spaghetti engulfed in a glob of cheese.
My favorite meal was probably the massive tuna steak I got at Sear. The black coconut sticky rice it came with, paired with pineapple puree, was summer-seafood heaven for my taste buds. (Though it would have been better enjoyed on an island somewhere).
Another reason I love Buffalo is because of the Canalside walk along the water which I enjoyed on Memorial Day.
Billy Joel Concert Turned Cooking with Callie
When Billy Joel cancelled his concert due to an infection, Callie and I took to the kitchen to improvise a recipe based off of Hummasapien's Curried Cauliflower Chickpea Buddha Bowl. The fact that my food processor wouldn't turn on made for a less than ideal sauce-making scenario but Callie diced those almond so finely that we still managed to make it work.
Anyone else out there arugula-obsessed? Raise your hand if arugula is your go-to-green (and leave me so recipe ideas in the comments!)
I will admit that I am far from a fan of America's Favorite Pastime. I usually go to one or two games a year and when I get there I'm just kind of like, "OK, now what?" Usually, the answer to that question is "BEER!" but a baseball game dead sober - that was something new to me.
I went to a Yankees/Red Sox game with my friend Kayla and her dad and boyfriend and they are DIE HARD Sox fans. I even donned a Red Sox t-shirt since Kayla humored me at an Islanders game earlier this year.
Admittedly, the baseball part of the experience was still meh for me - but Kayla's enthusiasm, her nicknames for all of the players, her method of sneaking in a tequila nip in her umbrella, the seventh inning stretch, the YMCA, the wave and THE SUNSET kept me smiling the entire night.
Sushi Making Class
I have been saying, "I really want to learn how to make sushi" for a LONG TIME. At least 2 years. I live in a city that has hundreds of cooking classes on the DAILY. No more excuses.
Lana is one of my sushi-loving friends and when I finally found the class I wanted to take I knew she would be down.
Cooking classes ain't cheap - easily $80+! But I found a deal on Groupon for CocuSocial and it was super affordable at $36 per person!
The class was held in a lobby/snack bar area of a hotel in midtown Manhattan and was a very manageable size with no more than 16 or so of us. Most people were in pairs. It was super laid back, but I actually learned a good amount more than I thought I would!
I also never expected to leave absolutely stuffed! We learned how to roll a salmon roll, a crab inside-out roll (with the rice on the outside) and a hand roll! Three different types of rolls which we devoured - that's a LOT of sticky rice.
We were shocked at how sticky the rice was - it is NOT easy to work with and while you're supposed to keep your hands wet to make the rice easier to handle, you have to try not to get any of the water on the nori (the sheet of seaweed).
I really liked the hand roll because it was like a sushi burrito - but when I poured the soy sauce into the roll, it just came flooding out the bottom. OOPS.
After class, our instructor gave us some more information, like how to shop for sushi-grade fish, what makes it sushi-grade, and how to make the sticky rice!
I highly recommend checking out CocuSocial and I definitely plan on taking more of their classes! (Dumplings, pasta, pie - they offer a lot of different ones!)
Wedding & College Roommate Reunion
You know those friends that you can go forever without seeing, and then you're together and it's like absolutely no time at all has passed? I'm lucky to have a lot of friends like that. As you get older, your friends are spread out across the map, everyone has their own obligations and plans, and you go longer and longer without seeing each other. But despite that, my college roommates and I had an amazing time at Kelsey's wedding.
Dancing, reminiscing, eating, photo-boothing, Hamilton rapping and bug-drowning - it was a great weekend together.
The musical theatre nerd in me isn't as prominent as it once was, but every time I sit at watch a show, I remember how much I love a good show tune.
My friends and I went to see Waitress and while it wasn't one of my favorites, it was worth the $60 to hear "She Used to Be Mine" belted live. We just missed Sara Bareilles by a day (hence the discounted tickets), but Betsy Wolfe crushed her first performance as Jenna.
There were a few songs that I could definitely tell were written by Bareilles and overall, the show was pretty damn funny.
Catching Up With Friends
Before most long work trips I try to fit in some time with friends to catch up before I hit the road. The week before the last work trip of the season, I grabbed sweetgreen with Kayla and got a manicure/pedicure with Jess.
Could we have gone for drinks? Absolutely (it probably would have ended with me dragging them to Brandy's Piano Bar and ordering Tequila Cosmos...) But it was much more productive for my schedule to do two things I needed to do anyway: eat dinner and get my nails done, while at the same time chatting away.
Trip to Las Vegas
I am not the biggest fan of Las Vegas. Admittedly, I've only ever been on work trips which tend to put a damper on the Sin-City Lifestyle but I also just think that's it's like being stuck in Times Square for a week - not something I would ever wish on someone.
I tried to make the most of this trip though - ate a few good meals, gambled a whole $22 on Willy Wonka and Wizard of Oz slot machines (and won $35 on an Orange Is The New Black machine before my flight out!) and enjoying a Lush bath bomb in the luxurious tub in my Encore hotel room (they are absolutely gorgeous!)
I used Postmates for my lunches all week in Vegas and pretty quickly my coworkers put me in charge of the healthy--but-delicious meal finding. It was so much easier than I had anticipated! I had great meals and highly suggest checking out the following places if you're trying to eat well in Vegas:
I ate the dish with the zucchini noodles and it was yum!
I was so obsessed with my turkey burger in a cabbage wrap with JICAMA fries at lunch, that I ordered the Harvest Kale Stocked Salad for dinner! We also ordered the Greek Pizza on pita to share in the office and it was amazing.
Fun fact - I never made it out of the Wynn/Encore hotel for a meal during the trip. But the fact that the Wynn and Encore's restaurant menus feature so many vegan and healthy options was fine by me! Each menu has a few items that list the calories and try to remain on the lighter side.
My favorite thing I ate was definitely the buffalo cauliflower at Le Jardin. It was absolutely mind blowing - so crispy. And the vegan ranch/blue cheese sauce? WOW. Brynn and I could have had 4 more orders and skipped the entrees.
I also really liked the kale salad at The Country Club and was pumped to try the Impossible Burger meat in crispy rice lettuce cups at Andrea's (probably my favorite restaurant at the Wynn/Encore - order the broccoli!!!)
Stay tuned, there's more to come including the final week of no alcohol!