Favorite Things

Two Perfect Weekends - A Tale of Two Cities

The past two weekends have been absolutely amazing - and I'm wondering if it's because I did what I wanted to do, and had no way of comparing how my days were filled with what other people were up to. One was spent in my small hometown on Long Island, the other in NYC. 

The upside to deleting all of my social media has definitely been the absence of comparison. Though to be completely honest, I'm still reaching for my phone constantly and playing Snood or checking my email - it's so ingrained that even while I'm watching a show on Netflix, I'm simultaneously playing a  video game from the early 2000s. Help me. 

I'm also still taking pictures of almost everything - a) because I love pictures but b) because I know I still can share them on the blog, even if they aren't being instantly posted to the 'gram.

So let's recap!

Fourth of July Weekend

Fourth of July is my favorite holiday - I really don't know why, but it always ends up being one of the most perfect weekends of the summer. It's a day dedicated to BBQs, beer, day drinking, being outside, on the water, with a combination of friends and family.  It's always right after we finish up all our events for the season and I can finally feel like there's a bit of a break to the constant travel. And I somehow always get really over the top with my outfit choice - 'MERICA. 

This year, I head home to Long Island - land of beaches, boats, booze and the Boardy Barn. 

Lobster Night 

Friday night when I got home my mom and I headed to the Yacht Club that my parents belong to for Lobster Night - my dad was volunteering as a cook for the night and my sister met us there. We were assigned an outdoor table, which we were happy about until we noticed the winds picking up, and picking up...and still picking up. 

It was SO windy that eating was next to impossible. It was one of those situations where you could only laugh as entire beer bottles knocked over and peel and eat shrimp tails floated through the air. 

Mount Sinai Yacht Club

We were in laughter-induced tears when my sister looked down at her plate and shouted, "I had a roll on my plate!" A friend from a table behind us responded with, "Is this it?!" and held up a roll. 

My stomach hurt from the laughter and was happy from the delicious shrimp and lobster dinner. My heart was happy with the sunset that we caught the tail end of on our way home from the beach. 

Cedar  Beach Sunset

Solo Saturday Productivity

Saturday my sister was at a friends and my parents were at a party in Connecticut so I used the day to accomplish some To Do List items and relax. 

Hamilton: The Revolution

I had bought this book about the creation of Hamilton for my mom for Mother's Day and wasted no time claiming it as my own for the weekend. 

A slow start to the morning with lots of reading and coffee was a nice change from my usual "get up and go" pace. 

Hamilton The Revolution

 And since I couldn't spend a million hours scrolling through Instagram, I finished the whole book that weekend. I cannot recommend it enough if you're a fan of Hamilton, or Lin-Manuel Miranda, or musicals and creative genius in general. It made me appreciate Hamilton even MORE than I did after walking out of the theater in May. 

Every line, every movement, every choice was carefully decided on by Lin's "cabinet" and its such an interesting process to read about. 

Halla

Saturday morning I also downloaded Mondly and started trying to teach myself some Swedish - because I'll be spending a week there this fall! I couldn't be more excited and while learning languages has never been one of my strong points, I do want to give an honest effort in knowing some vocabulary and basic sentences while I'm there. Especially since I'll be working and needing to communicate more than just my order at a restaurant (although the vocab needed to dine is very high on my priority list). 

Any Stockholm travel tips, send them my way! Tak! (That means thank you).

Outdoor, No Equipment Workout

Around 11 I finally headed outside to my backyard in order to get a little bit of a sweat happening - I knew this was the only way to get me up off the couch to go do all of my errands. 

I did this workout that I came up with last summer and it was perfect. About 45 minutes, total body, simple and sweaty. (The sweat might have been because it was already about 85 degrees outside). 

Marshalls - My Downfall 

Whenever I'm home, I go cray at Marshall's. This trip, I left with a black one-piece Calvin Klein bathing suit, a pair of Kensie white jeans, and an off the shoulder denim dress from Cloth & Stone. The dress is so soft!

Bagel & Champagne 

Knowing we would be leaving for the the Boardy Barn bright and early the next morning, I preemptively picked up the Boardy Barn breakfast essentials - a bagel with cream cheese and lox and a bottle of bubbly.  

Manicure 

There's nothing like getting a manicure at your home town nail salon. First of all, it's $25 vs. the $35+ I pay in the city. 

Second, they instantly recognize me as "Sam's sister!" 

Third, I finally found the perfect color gel that matches Bikini so Teeny by Essie which is my summer nail polish JAM. I will most definitely be getting this every weekend I go home this summer (which I'm hoping is frequently!!) 

The G-Parentals

Nothing better than an afternoon visit with my Nanny & Poppy! 

We talked about everything under the sun and then they gave me a PLUOT to try - it's a mix between a plum and an apricot and it was the ideal summer fruit. Crispy, tart skin with a sweet, juicy inside. There was not way to eat it without making a mess, but it was well worth the sticky fingers! 

Crashing a Dinner Party

Next I headed to a local restaurant where some family friends I hadn't seen in far too long were getting a family dinner. I showed up to say hi while they enjoyed their first round of drinks and appetizers and it was so good seeing everyone and doing some quick catching up. 

Savinos Long Island

HOMEMADE Dinner 

Dinner was one of my favorite combos - arugula + avocado + grapefruit! With some Caprese salad on the side (unpopular opinion over here, but mozzarella with balsamic >> any burrata I've had!) 

Arugula Grapefruit Avocado Salad

Sunday Funday At the Boardy Barn 

Going to the Boardy Barn is a right of passage for anyone growing up on Long Island. It's that rare bar that you really do wait until you're 21 to venture to - out in Hampton Bays, people arrive by cars, trains, buses, vans, limos and taxis. 

It's only open on Sunday from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Only open from 2 PM to 8 PM. 

There are porta pottys and $1 hot dogs. $3 Bud Lights and smiley face stickers. A giant tent. Dirt floors. You will leave sweaty and covered in dirt and beer. You will wait in line for hours in the sweltering sun to get inside. You will be extremely intoxicated and question why you started drinking at 9 AM. You will think, "this isn't worth it." 

Boardy Barn

And then you will get inside and the DJ will play every song you never knew you wanted to scream/sing with hundreds of other Long Islanders and you'll swear that it's impossible to be unhappy at the barn. It really is the happiest place on earth. 

Sounds dramatic, right? But everything I just said is the truth! 

We arrived in our van around 10 a.m. and were inside by around 12:30 (extended hours for the Holiday Weekend - and a $30 cover). We lasted until around 6:30 and by 8 I was chowing down on a giant gyro with my parents. 

What. A. Day. 

Boardy Barn

IDEAL (MON)DAY

Monday was absolutely, 100% what I hoped it would be. 

Run with Mom

It started with a 4 mile, pain-free run to the beach WITH MY MOM which was the best part. It didn't feel too hard, and I was happy happy happy when my dad got down to the beach to pick us up.

Running again! My hometown route! To the beach! With my mom! The day could have ended there and I still would have been happy. 

I'm On A Boat

But next up was going on our boat! I hadn't been on the boat in at least 2 or 3 years and was so content sitting on the boat, reading about Hamilton, playing Enrique Iglesias and Ed Sheeran over the speakers, chowing down on a salad and rice chips with hummus and hanging out with my parents. 

I jumped into water and it's still pretty damn chilly, but was refreshing for the .2 seconds I stayed in. 

Mount Sinai Harbor

I can't wait until the day that my parents have a slip down at the beach and don't have to trailer the boat anymore - seeing how much time and effort and work and sweat my dad puts into cleaning it after each trip is nuts and I can't wait for the process to be a little less stress-free for him. Dad, if you're reading, THANK YOU! His diligence and attention to detail and refusal to take the easy way out are why we were able to grow up our entire lives on a boat - the same one for 22 years in fact. 

Spiros

For dinner, we went to the insanely popular happy hour at Spiro's, where delicious and MASSIVE portions are served at bargain prices. 

They also have a huge variety of martinis, margaritas and craft beer - which is the route I went! 

We split a shrimp and lobster roll, bowl of mussels and grilled eggplant and shrimp dish. All of it was delicious.

Fireworks

The last part of the day was going down to the yacht club to get a spot on the deck to watch the fireworks from a few towns over. We sat with some of my parents friends, chatted, drank, and oohed and ahhed like children when the fireworks started over the water. 

Mt. Sinai Yacht Club

I thought I could pass on the fireworks - but I'm so glad that we went down and stuck around for them. 

Back to the City

Tuesday I woke up, finished reading Hamilton, packed my stuff and eventually made my way back to NYC for the actual Fourth of July. But not before one more eclectic breakfast - whenever I'm home, there's so many options that I'm forced to just have a little bit of everything! 

TRI TRAINING LOL

It had kind of hit me over the weekend while I wasn't swimming or biking that, "OH I'm doing a triathlon in like 10 days. Maybe I should have trained a little more." 

Luckily, Abby was willing to meet me at the gym when I made it back to the city. We sat on some spin bikes in the empty studio and caught up about our weekends and then headed to the pool for a mile swim which went surprisingly very well - it was my fastest mile ever! 

Rooftop BBQ

We showered and got festive (I even wore my giant star earrings!) and headed to Whole Foods where we went kind of crazy buying ingredients for a salad, hummus, guac, beer, etc. to bring to our friend Kaitlin's roof. 

When we finally arrived at Kaitlin's around 7, we entered an apartment that smelled glorious. There were SURPRISE BURGERS. I was overjoyed - I had been crrrraving meat and feeling super weak and nothing says Fourth of July like a hamburger! 

For just 4 people, we had put together quite the spread, if I do say so myself.

We got it all up on the roof, played some jams, chatted, drank some beers for America's Birthday (it would have been un-American not to), and waited to see if we'd even have a view of the fireworks over the East River...

We did! And again, I was surprised to find just how much I loved them! Even better - playing the Hamilton soundtrack as they went off. 

A Weekend In NYC

The weekend following the Fourth of July kind of just materialized into a great one. It felt super relaxing even thought I did A LOT and it included all of my favorite things. 

Summer Friday - Good Food, Good Beers

Lunch at JaJaJa

Ja Ja Ja Vegan Mexican NYC

Kaitlin, Abby, Bertha, Rebecca and I met up on a summer Friday afternoon to try the new vegan Mexican restaurant in Chinatown called Jajaja - I should probably write up a real review because it was worthy. 

The food was phenomenal, creative, and if I were a vegan this spot would definitely become a go-to. I already want to go back for another "fish" taco (made with squash) and for the monstrous pile of nachos with chorizo and guac. 

Vegan Mexican NYC Ja Ja Ja

The only thing that missed the mark was the ceviche, but otherwise, we loved it - and not a scrap was left behind by this girl gang. 

ice & vice

I had been dying for some Ice & Vice, and since we were in Chinatown, it didn't take too much convincing for three of us to stop by for a scoop! Their "yellow" seasonal flavor was delicious (Buckwheat Honey, Tumeric, Sunflower, Butterscotch) as was their staple Tea Dance (Nilgiri Tea Leaf, Lemon Charcoal, Salted Caramel) I love that their menu calls this a "basic" flavor - as it is anything but!

Ice & Vice NYC

Chill Beers & Jenga

If you know me, you know that a night at a beer garden with a million IPAs, big open windows and games is pretty much my ideal scenario and that's what Spritzenhaus33 in Williamsburg delivered on Friday night. 

When we first got there, there were tons of moms and babies which was a little odd but they cleared out eventually. The place was hopping and we were able to snag a table right by the giant windows which was great. 

Luxury Apartment Buildings

My friend and I stayed at her sisters apartment for the night and it was amazing.  I didn't set an alarm and woke up in a verrrry air conditioned room to a cup of hot coffee and a gym in the building. 

One day, this will be my life...

I got in a quick workout and then we went off in search of food. We ended up bringing omelettes and home fries up to the roof which was the start of our entireeee day out in the sun. 

Williamsburg Rooftop

Saturday Darty

Rooftop Darty

Darty is a term stolen from my sister and her friends which means day party - aka the best kind of party. ROOFTOP darties are even better. 

My co-worker had an amazing party on her rooftop and pulled out all the stops - fun balloons and decorations with the theme of "Pineapples and Palm Trees." There was a pinata, pineapple punch, pineapple glasses, cute paper straws, BUFFALO CHICKEN DIP, flip cup, and views of the Manhattan skyline. 

Yeah, not a bad way to spend a beautifully sunny day. 

Outdoor Thai Dinner

Saturday wrapped up with us walking to get Thai food and being pleasantly surprised that they had an entire outdoor dining area. 

I ordered the Larb Gai which burned my mouth off but was so freaking flavorful and delicious. 

If you live in Williamsburg (or just want to eat really good Thai food outside) check out Sage!

Sage Thai Williamsburg

Sunday Funday

I love a productive Sunday where I also have time to do a little bit of nothing. This Sunday was exactly that. 

Brick Workout

Again, there's this Olympic Distance triathlon that I'm attempting next weekend that I feel horribly unprepared for. While I should be tapering had I adhered to any kind of training schedule, instead Abby and I took the Sunday before the race to have our longest training brick workout. Oops?

We biked 35 miles and ran 3 - the miles on the park flew by since we could talk. I never would have done 5 loops of Central Park without her. 

The run was, all things considered, a success but damn, it did not leave me looking forward to Sunday. 

I was in a the pain cave. That's where I go when I can't summon the usual happy, "Yay I'm running" thoughts and instead just keep thinking, "this is hard, this doesn't feel good, can I stop now?" 

Again, having Abby by my side got me through it. My shins never felt the sharp pain of a stress fracture but I was very very tight and my calves were very very painful afterwards. 

We were quicker than I felt at the time, which was a pleasant surprise, but I'm definitely anticipating some walking breaks during the NYC Tri considering our run was around the reservoir for 3 miles and I'll be needing to get my booty up and over all of Central Park's many hills (including Harlem Hill) for 6 miles during the race. 

Gulp. 

Food Shopping & Meal Prep

Yes, this was a highlight of my weekend. 

I finally went to the grocery store with a shopping list and cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner for the week because I'm actually going to be here for a week. 

And I used recipes! From a cookbook! The Inspiralized cookbook to be exact! Kaitlin recently gave me her inspiralizer and I didn't make 1 but THREE things using it. 

Broccoli Zoodles

I made a zucchini noodle fritatta, a broccoli and chicken dish, and a monstrous salad with beet noodles. 

Zoodle Frittata

YAY! I didn't even mind that all of this took me over two hours! 

Beet Zoodles

*PSA: I tried the new avocado and citrus yogurt from Trader Joe's and meh - not a fan!

TV

I'm not a TV person, but there are days I can Netflix binge with the best of them. 

On Sunday, I finished the new season of Orange Is The New Black (Why do people not like it? I loved it!) and also watched The Last Five Years movie with Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan. 

The fact that I didn't know this was a movie that existed previously is NUTS as I absolutely loved The Last Five Years when I saw it at Second Stage years ago. The music is phenomenal. 

So there you have it - two weekends where I couldn't have asked for anything more perfect. I have a feeling next weekend might be a liiiiiiitle more stressful, but hopefully I fall asleep on Sunday night as an Olympic Distance Triathlete - pleeeeaaaassssseeee???

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Finishing 28 Days Alcohol-Free

After Las Vegas, I found myself in the final stretch of no drinking with a few days in Chicago. 

Alcohol Free Month

Can I just say how much I like Chicago? Honestly, I've never gotten to explore much of the city as my stays are usually very work-focused but it seems like a place I could easily live if it weren't for the freezing cold winters and mountains of snow. 

Homestead on the Roof

After all, our first dinner out was at a rooftop restaurant with the slogan, "literal farm to table." It was a beautiful night and the food was equally as aesthetically pleasing. Our hummus came out looking like carrots growing right out of the ground - but it definitely didn't taste like dirt! 

Homestead on the Roof Chicago

The rustic roof with string lights set a laid back vibe and we all split some appetizers from the produce-centric menu that changes daily and seasonally. 

A carrot salad with curry and frisee was texturally interesting while the salmon crudo fell short. The raclette, described as "adult grilled cheese" was, obviously, delicious. Melted cheese, how can you go wrong? 

When my entree came out, I exclaimed, "Oh my God, this dish is 'so, ME!'" Okay Lauren, you weirdo. 

I had ordered the Coal Roasted Eggplant which came with Quinoa Tabouli, White Bean Puree (I LOVE WHITE BEANS), Salsa Verde and Falafel. Just look at it. So pretttttty. 

Homestead on the Roof Chicago

Flywheel & Doughnut Vault!

Chicago kept the good vibes coming in the morning when I woke up and walked less than 10 minutes to a Flywheel class. I am always shocked when I leave Flywheel at just how much sweat I can actually produce. It's quickly becoming one of my favorite spin studios. 

Flywheel was followed with a stop at The Doughtnut Vault - a cute, tiny walk up window where I got a dozen donuts to bring in for coworkers (and mainly, for myself). They don't have a ton of different doughnut options, but I LOVED their buttermilk old-fashioned doughnut. It was sweet, simple and so cake-y and moist! Time and again I confirm my belief that cake doughnuts are FAR superior to yeast doughnuts and Doughnut Vault certainly kept me singing the praises of cake doughnuts. 

Doughnut Vault Chicago

Doughnut Vault has two locations - 111 N Canal Street and 401 N Franklin St. 

After spin and doughnuts it was time to head to work on the right foot! I was then surprised with ANOTHER doughnut - a Biscoff filled one from Stan's <3 What a way to start the day. 

Other things that were great about Chicago 

  • A second Flywheel class with coworkers because I accidentally bought 3 classes 
  • Garrett's Chicago Mix popcorn - caramel + cheddar is a match made in popcorn heaven (although I've also been feeling the pickle-flavored popcorn from Trader Joe's!)
  • A biggg group dinner to wrap up the events season at Howell's & Hood (the food was unimpressive but the company was great!) 
  • A trip to the Ghiradelli Factory for a Brownie Sundae - the best decision I've made in life lately was subbing the vanilla ice cream for mint chocolate chip. 
  • Taking a picture by the river 
Chicago Flywheel

La Pulperia

When I got back from Chicago, it was time to break the 28-day no alcohol streak with a boozy brunch to send Kayla off to Boston. There were tears - but also lots of laughs thanks to the best wait-staff on the Upper East Side - everyone should go to La Pulperia! Their cocktails are A+ (the Smoky Room is my favorite cocktail ever). 

La Pulperia Brunch NYC

HTML + CSS Class

But even though I was back to imbibing, I've tried to keep making time and space in my schedule for things that are productive, intellectually stimulating, and more of an experience than yet another happy hour. 

And something I've been wanting to learn for a long time now is HTML and CSS. 

I found a great deal via CourseHorse for a beginner HTML & CSS class from Noble Desktop . Normally these classes are quite pricey, but I was able to book a 3 hour course with only 8 people for under $40. 

I really enjoyed the class - just to be sitting and learning again felt nice and I was surprised to find that the class was all women! We had the choice between using a PC or a Mac (go, PC!) and while I'm definitely not a coding pro now by any means, I understand the concepts a little better. 

What I was surprised to find, though, is that there really aren't a ton a concepts when it comes to HTML and coding - it's a lot of, "and then you type this - because that's just what you type." And, "if you don't know the code for a specific thing, you just Google it." 

I still really enjoyed the class and would consider taking more in the future! 

And there you have it! Still to come, a Gotham City Writer's "Write In" and a Nuyorican Poet's Cafe Poetry Slam! Plus, rock-climbing, a 5K (my first race in 6 MONTHS!) and oh right, an Olympic Distance Triathlon -eeeeek. 

If you want to read more about what I learned throughout the 28 days of no drinking, read this post! Moral of the story - it really wasn't as hard as I thought it would be! (But I'm looking forward to lots of summer cocktails!) 

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26 Reasons My 26th Birthday Was Rad

On Friday I turned 26 years old. I'm not yet at the point of dreading birthday's because they mean I'm getting "old" but it does seem a little crazy that 10 years have passed since my "Sweet 16" weekend in Montauk with my friends. I vividly remember so many details from that weekend.

As a teenager, as a college student, and then as a twenty-something there's this "Birthday Week" mentality that has really started to bug me in my old age. Call me Ebenezer, but people think they should be celebrated for a week just for existing for another year.

I'm all for having a wonderful day on your birthday. But it doesn't need to last a week. And it doesn't need to guilt other people into showering you with attention.

Not to mention, a birthday, up until a certain point, is really a celebration of your parents successfully getting you to live another year.

This year I toyed with some extravagant birthday ideas. Living in Manhattan, there's pressure to put on something big and exciting with 100 of your closest friends. But in the end, I couldn't shake this big voice in my head that just kept saying, "I wanna go home."

Eventually, I listened. I told my family I would be home for my birthday this year and they were thrilled.

Here are 26 things that made me smile while I was home:  

1.) My parent's new kitchen. If there's anyone who deserves a brand spankin' new kitchen, it's my mom. She's put in hundreds of hours of work for this (watching HGTV). But really. It looks AMAZING and I hope it keeps my mom smiling for years to come.

2.) Sushi for dinner.

3.) Curling up on the couch and watching the Islanders game with my parents.

Biggest fans!

Biggest fans!

4.) The feeling of waking up in your childhood room.

5.) My dog thinking it was time to play as I did 7 Minutes of Planks on the living room floor.

6.) Reuniting with high school friends and feeling that not even a day has passed.

7.) Really really bad photo bombs that make you laugh until your stomach hurts. 

8.) Exploring cute new cafes and getting that perfect Instagram picture (sorry, not sorry).

Locals Cafe Port Jefferson

9.) Peach Kombucha.

10.) Breweries with no bathroom.

11.) Having a Dad and Grandpa who beat you to the brewery.

12.) Tasting 11 beers for $10.

Port Jefferson Brewery

13.) Being able to request dinner two nights in a row and feasting on homemade paninis.

14.) Mint chocolate chip ice cream cake from the ice cream shop I walked to as a 6th grader after school.

15.) Sisterly gossip sessions.

16.) Getting a haircut and having at least 5 mutual acquaintances with your hairdresser.

17.) Grandparents who will gladly host your 26th birthday party with a beautiful fire in the backyard.

18.) A crazy family that has my high school friends crying with laughter.

19.) A damn good cocktail made by Mitch.

20.) Going back to my favorite weekend gym class and getting my ass kicked.

Boot Camp Workout

21.) Sharing the weekend with Mother's Day and celebrating the incredible momma's in my life.

22.) The sun coming out for the first time in a week.

23.) Giant "Party Bagels"

24.) Taking a mid-day NAP.

25.) Saying "screw the earlier train" because the Islanders are playing their last game of the season and there's no one you'd rather watch with than your mom and dad.

26.) As cliché as it sounds - having friends and family that make saying "bye for now" so damn hard.

I get a little emotional thinking about how incredibly lucky I am. My family (and my friends) make me feel so damn loved that my heart could explode.

(Before I made it back to Long Island on Friday night, I spent the morning running a sopping wet six miles with Melissa, working out with November Project, and enjoying the OG Avo Toast with Melissa and Kaitlin at Cafe Gitane! So - there's another 3 reasons to be grateful!) 

YOUR TURN: 
CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE "BIRTHDAY WEEK" TREND TO ME? 
WHAT'S YOUR IDEA OF THE PERFECT BIRTHDAY? 

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5 Recipes for a Sweet World Nutella Day

The worst thing I ever did was print a calendar of National Food Holidays. Why was it a mistake? Because now on any given morning I may wake up and say, “Ah! It’s National Cook a Sweet Potato Day, National Margarita Day AND National Cherry Pie Day – and then I proceed to try and fit all three of those things into my Friday diet. It’s not too long before I’m justifying Fry-days because… #alliteration.

This morning, I’m going to do the same thing to you by informing you that today is WORLD Nutella Day. That’s right, Nutella doesn’t get just a national holiday – the whole world celebrates this Italian chocolatey hazelnut spread on February 5. And this year, Nutella is 52 years old.

World Nutella Day

I know you don’t want to miss out on the party, so I’ve rounded up 5 Nutella recipes that you can make fairly quickly and with minimal ingredients – because ain’t nobody got time to wait before devouring that most sacred of spreads.

And remember, it’s a holiday that only happens once a year, so enjoy it!

1)      3-Ingredient Nutella Croissants

Gimme Some Oven has created some beautiful Nutella pastries using just 3 simple ingredients. In 40 minutes you could be enjoying flaky croissants filled with gooey Nutella.

 

2)      Peanut Butter Nutella Pie with Crispy Bacon & Crushed Golden Grahams

This recipe by Climbing Grier Mountain requires some commitment in the way of time and ingredients, but the combination of Peanut Butter, Nutella and Bacon is like the holy trinity.

Peanut Butter Nutella Pie

3)      4-Ingredient Ove-Baked Nutella S’Mores

Oh lawdy this recipe by The Blissful Balance had me drooling when I first saw it. I’ve been known to add a dollop of Nutella or PB to my graham cracker when making S’Mores in the summer, but with this oven-baked Nutellas s’mores recipe I can enjoy them all year long!

4)      Banana Nutella Egg Rolls

I’m a sucker for banana focused desserts and the fact that this one by Little B Cooks includes Nutella AND is Asian-cuisine-inspired really gets me excited. Plus, the ingredients are soo simple! 

5)      Banana Bread Nutella Muffins

You can always count on Chocolate Covered Katie to come up with a delicious Nutella-centric recipe. These use pretty simple baking ingredients and are sure to fill your kitchen with a dreamy smell! 

If you’ve read these recipes and are thinking, “I don’t have time to bake today!” that’s totally OK. Why? Because Nutella is one of those things that is wonderful all by itself. So grab your vehicle of choice and get that Nutella in your tummy. Pretzels or a spoon will do just fine. Hell, use your finger – no one’s judging.

Did You Know:
The original Nutella made by Ferrero was a solid block? It wasn’t until 1951 that they started producing “Supercrema” which is the creamy version we all know and love. It was renamed Nutella in 1963.

According to Ferrero – each jar of Nutella contains around 50 hazelnuts.

YOUR TURN: 
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE NUTELLA TREAT?

8 Perfect Gym Bags for Working Women

Is it just me, or is it impossible to go to work and the gym without looking like a bag lady for the entire day? Honestly – I’ve got my breakfast and lunch to pack, my gym clothes, my toiletry bag, my work clothes…it’s a little insane and probably giving me scoliosis.

Lately, I’ve been trying to look and act the part of a twenty-something working professional in Manhattan. That means I’ve ditched the Limited Too camisoles that somehow still fit me (barely), I’ve finally thrown out the flats I bought at Kohl’s a million years ago, and I’ve said goodbye to the cotton t-shirts to make room for my new and improved workout wardrobe of dry-fit gear.

2016 is the year I finally learn that buying things just because they’re cheap and a short term fix isn’t smart. Instead, I’m looking to invest in “perfect” purchases that will stand the test of time, even if that means shelling out a few more bucks.

My most recent quest is to find that all-purpose, classy, functional as fuck bag that can transition me seamlessly from apartment to gym to work to happy hour. I'm tired of looking like the bag lady with 3 different mismatched reusable bags and my college backpack.

It’s a tall order and so far I haven’t found the perfect fit. But my research has turned up some pretty stellar options that I thought I’d share with you, in case you’re in the market for your next Mary Poppin’s bag too.

Gym Bags.jpg

Before we get into the bags – let’s talk about the 4 factors that are most important to me.

Size

I’m a petite person and a giant duffel bag that I could curl up inside of just isn’t going to work when I’m walking to and from the subway and schlepping up multiple sets of stairs. Not to mention cramming on the cross-town bus during rush hour. That being said, I’m often trying to fit two outfits, two pairs of shoes, a book, 2 meals and toiletries in this bad boy – so I do need a good amount of space. And there-in lies the first conundrum to my mission.

Style

As of now, I mainly use a Northface Backpack as my commuter bag – not exactly professional – especially considering the blue/teal/green flannel pattern. Backpacks are so convenient and much more comfortable than shoulder bags that make you walk lopsided and fall off your shoulder whenever you wear a big winter coat. I’m definitely open to a backpack if I found the right one – but it isn’t the perfect solution. It is inherently less professional looking than most other options and in the summer, the back sweat it produces isn’t the most pleasant thing in the world.

Style-wise I’m looking for a bag that can pass as a work bag which means it’s a neutral color. As much as I love colors and patterns, I’m trying to reel it in with this purchase.

Organization

This is one of the most important factors for me. I don’t want a bag that’s just one big compartment. I thrive on little pockets for my jewelry, a side slot for my water bottle and – key here – SOME PLACE TO PUT MY SWEATY CLOTHES AND SNEAKERS that’s not going to stink up my work clothes.

I’m no yogi – so straps for a yoga mat aren’t one of my requirements.

I am however dedicated to blogging more this year – which means the idea of a padded laptop sleeve appeals to me, though it isn’t a make or break feature.

A hard bottom so that the bag maintains some form and makes it easier to find things would be clutch as well.

Price

As I said – I’m willing to spend a good amount on this purchase with the intention of using it as my everyday bag for a good long while. But anything over $200 is realistically out of my price-range considering I do have less-than-ideal options that I could make work. I want a gym bag that's affordable - after all, it's still going to be holding my sweaty clothes, dirty sneakers and there might be some lunch spillage every once in awhile!

So I’ve done all the hard work for ya – the scrolling through Amazon and Kickstarter and Lulu and a million other sites.  I even asked my friends from the Bloggers Gonna Blog Community, who had some great suggestions. Finding a bag that's perfect for the gym and the office is harder than I thought.

What have I found?

Unfortunately, I’ve found that my perfect bag probably doesn’t exist. But there are some great options and maybe one of them will be perfect for you. So without further ado...

Po Campo Midway Weekender

What I Love:

  • Separate Shoe Compartment!
  • Lots of little sections inside
  • Keeps its shape
  • Cross body or over the shoulder straps
  • Fits laptops up to 15”
  • Yoga/Jacket Strap
  • Semi-water proof

What I Don’t Love:

  • I’m just not crazy about the look of this one. Totally a personal preference – there’s a bunch of different color options but none of them excite me.

Price:

  • $95 and free returns. Available online here or on Amazon here.

Herschel Supply Co. Novel Weekender

What I Love:

  • Separate Shoe Compartment!
  • Keeps its shape
  • Cross body or over the shoulder straps

What I Don’t Love:

  • One big compartment on the inside makes organization difficult
  • No laptop sleeve
  • A little too big
  • Just looks like your standard duffel bag

Price:

  • $80. Available here.

You could also check out the Herschel Supply Co. Outfitter Luggage - this is a duffel bag that has BACKPACK straps as well. It's also large and looks like a duffel, but it's got a shoe compartment. They're $140 and can be purchased here.

Herschel Supply Co. Heritage Plus Backpack

What I Love:

  • No surprise here, this one made the list because of the separate shoe compartment!
  • The convenience of a backpack
  • Simple style makes it look more professional than my patterned North Face
  • Laptop sleeve
  • Lots of compartments

What I Don’t Love:

  • I just don’t know that backpack screams “professional”

Price

  • $75. From what I can gather, they’re no longer available via the Herschel website – but I found some on Amazon.

Moop Shop “The Porter”

What I Love:

  • The look – I’m not 100% sold on the canvas material, but from the pictures, it looks like a beautiful bag!
  • Compartments and key chain
  • The site specifically points out that it fits the following: 3 books, 17” laptop, sneakers, water bottle – sounds perfect!

What I Don’t Love:

  • No separate compartment for my sweaty things

Price:

  • $137. You can order online here.

Gaiam Everything Fits Gym Bag

Recommended by: Katie

What I Love:

  • Sweaty things compartment with ventilation!
  • Lots of separate pockets
  • Water bottle pocket
  • Option to carry a yoga mat
  • Seems to be the right size
  • Keeps its shape
  • Fair price

What I Don’t Love:

  • This one, like many of the others with all the right features, doesn’t scream “sophisticated work bag” to me – it screams, “Gym Bag!”

Price:

  • $60. Available here.

*"Don't buy the teal Lauren - professional, professional -"

Om The Day Bag by Lululemon

Recommended by: Carmy

What I Love:

  • The description is exactly what I’m looking for – “This structured gym bag takes you from workout to work and then out for dinner – hands free and with plenty of room to spare.” Yes, please.
  • The shape and style of this bag makes it super "fetch" despite being a gym bag
  • It comes with a removable laundry bag AND interior wet/dry pocket
  • It has a zipper pocked for a laptop  

What I Don't Love:

Actually there's not much I don't like about this bag - it might be the winner - and my first ever purchase from Lulu (cue the gasps!)

Price:
$128 and available here.

Fivesse Home-Gym-Work Bag

Recommended by: Priya

What I Love:

  • Again – this back describes exactly what I need – to go seamlessly from home, to the gym, to work.
  • Tons of compartments – there really is a spot for everything!
  • Stays upright
  • Shoe compartment AND laundry bag

What I Don’t Love:

  • Overall, I could deal with the look of this bag, though I’m not a huge fan of the colors. I wish they had some more options. It’s a little strange to me how one side looks like a gym back and the other like a work bag. I think they took the whole “use for the gym and for work” idea a little too far. Plus, the solid colored bag is sold out – and I’m trying to avoid too much pattern.

Price:

  • Currently on-sale for $40 – I’m hoping this means an updated version is on the way! You can buy it here.

Lo & Sons The O.G. Overnight Bag

Recommended by: Lauren

What I Love:

  • There's a shoe compartment, which if you haven't realized by now, was one of my main search requirements
  • It could easily transition to a work bag
  • There's a laptop sleeve
  • There's a second size option (The OMG is a slightly smaller model with the same great features)
  • As someone who travels for work, the fact that this easily attaches to your suitcase is that little extra sumthin' sumthin'

What I Don't Love:

  • That price tag hurts.

Price:

  • $295 and available for purchase here.

YOUR TURN -

What is your go-to for an everyday bag?
Do you use one bag for the gym AND work?
What features are most important to your when choosing a gym bag?

Fitful Focus

Accepting the Social Media Comparison Trap

Social Media Comparison Trap

The more prolific social media becomes, the more prone we all are to the comparison trap.

You know what I’m talking about. Scrolling through your Instagram feed and getting down on yourself because you failed to make a filtered to perfection protein pancake breakfast dripping with homemade coconut-oil chocolate sauce with a side glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice that you picked off your very own orange tree.

Orange Juice

You’re on the subway, feelin’ ready to conquer the day after a great 3 mile run in Central Park. You open that favorite app of yours and suddenly, your 3 miles seems like it wasn’t good enough amongst peers who busted out a casual 15k before 8 a.m.

As I’ve written about before, I think it’s so so important for us to realize that the people whose posts are making us feel inferior are likely going through the exact same thing every time they scroll through their feed.

Social Media and Comparison

No one is safe from this trap.

There are lots of articles out there about how to steer clear of this unpleasant and perhaps dangerous psychological pattern and I think they’re really well-intentioned. I read them and I feel ready to open Instagram free from self-judgement. 

But that lasts about 2 seconds.

I also know myself, and I know that there’s no way in hell I’m breaking my Instagram habit.

So instead of trying to figure out a way to avoid it completely, I have a different suggestion.

I suggest accepting the fact that some days we will be more susceptible to this kind of negative self-judgment. Some days we will compare ourselves to others in a way that gets us down. And quite frankly, I think that’s OK. I think that’s normal. I think that means we are human.

OK Hand

I also think there will be days where we are able to see that negative self-talk coming on and we will have the ability to sidestep it. We will tell that picture perfect breakfast:

I know you were taken with a DSLR camera with a pretty background and perfect lighting and my handful of dry cereal eaten on the walk to the subway tasted GREAT thank you very much.

There will be days where we see someone accomplishing something inspiring before 8 a.m. and instead of beating ourselves up about it, we will say, “Damn, that’s badass – good for so and so. Maybe tomorrow I’ll start my journey to unassisted pull-up greatness too!”

Accepting that these are both completely normal reactions will help us to acknowledge and accept our feelings on any given day.

The last thing you need to do when you’re comparing yourself to someone else because of something you saw on social media, is to get down on yourself FURTHER because you aren’t “enlightened” enough to avoid the comparison trap entirely.

So remind yourself that you’re human and cut yourself some slack. 

#SquashGoals - Your Guide to Winter Squash

Although there's nothing stopping you from eating squash all year long, it seems to be featured most prominently in the fall - when it's easiest to find at grocery stores and is considered "in season." 

Once you cut up a squash and toss it in some olive oil - you can throw it in the oven, roast it for anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and boom - tons of delicious options for main dishes or sides. It's so simple, so quintessentially fall - and so delicious and nutritious to boot. 

But with so many varieties of squash - how's a girl (or guy) to choose? If you're like me, you choose based on which is the cheapest on the day you happen to be doing the grocery shopping. But, some of you may have a different priority system when it comes to food shopping. Like say, flavor, nutrition or how easy it is to cook. 

Square are extremely versatile and can be used in a million different types of cooking - some you may not even think of! That's why I'm here. To open your eyes to the wonderful world of winter squash. 

*Excuse the poor image quality as I take a few images from my Instagram account way back in the day when my food photographer skills were, well, you'll see. 

#SquashGoals

1. Kabocha Squash

AKA: Japanese Pumpkin

Characteristics:

Kabocha looks like a squat, dark-green pumpkin with some lighter green stripes. The inside is a dark yellow-orange. It closely resembles a buttercup squash, but you can tell them apart because a kabocha squash's base point out, not in. 

Flavor:

A kabocha squash is extremely sweet, even sweeter than a butternut squash and the texture is like a mix between a sweet potato and a pumpkin. It also has a nutty flavor. You can eat the rind of a kabocha squash, making it extremely easy to throw in the over for roasting. 

Nutrition: 

One cup of cubed kabocha squash contains 30 calories and is packed with beta carotene. 

Interesting Fact About Kabocha Squash: 

In some cultures, it is revered as an aphrodisiac! 

Recipe: Kabocha Squash Pudding

This might be a little out of left field - but check out this awesome recipe from Running With Spoons for a Kabocha Pudding! The great thing about squash is it's so versatile - it can serve as a sweet addition to a meal or be completely savory. 

To roast kabocha squash, follow these easy steps

2. Butternut Squash

AKA: Butternut Pumpkin 

Back in the day, I used butternut squash to create butternut squash and spinach spring rolls!

Back in the day, I used butternut squash to create butternut squash and spinach spring rolls!

Characteristics: 

A butternut squash looks a little bit like an elongated pear - a skinny neck with a bulbous base. Light yellow-tan in color, the inside of a butternut squash is dark yellow-orange. 

Flavor: 

In many places, a butternut squash is used interchangeably with pumpkins. It can be roasted, pureed, grilled or served with sweet toppings like cinnamon and nutmeg. 

Nutrition: 

Packed with fiber, vitamin C, A and E, manganese, magnesium and potassium. 1 cup of cubed butternut squash contains 63 calories. 

Recipe: Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Recently, a friend made a bangin' pumpkin macaroni and cheese. This recipe for butternut squash macaroni and cheese from Two Peas and Their Pod sounds incredible and I love that it includes the best part of any mac and cheese - it's all about the crispy breadcrumbs on top!

To roast a butternut squash, follow these easy steps - and remember, you can make your squash glisten with whatever oil you choose - it doesn't need to be coconut oil! 

3. Acorn Squash 

AKA: Pepper Squash or Des Moines Squash 

Last fall, a made a butternut squash stuffed with  quinoa, spinach, sweet potato and avocado and topped it with cheese and walnuts. Maybe a little overboard on the ingredient list.&nbsp;

Last fall, a made a butternut squash stuffed with quinoa, spinach, sweet potato and avocado and topped it with cheese and walnuts. Maybe a little overboard on the ingredient list. 

Characteristics: 

This one's easy - it looks like an acorn! You should try to choose an acorn squash that's green. Once it start to turn orange, it means that the skin is likely to be tough and fibrous. 

Flavor: 

Acorn squash is one of the more mild squashes which makes it a great vehicle for stuffing it full of delicious ingredients. 

Nutrition: 

Full of dietary fiber and potassium, 1 cup of acorn squash contains 56 calories and will keep you feeling full! 

Recipe: Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, this stuffed acorn squash recipe from In It 4 The Long Run serves as an excellent dish if you're trying to please vegetarians in the family! What I love about Georgie's recipes is they never include a ton of crazy ingredients - keeping the cost low and prep time quick! 

To roast an acorn squash - cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, coat the flesh side with oil, and roast flesh-side up on a baking sheet a 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes. 

4. Spaghetti Squash 

AKA: Vegetable Spaghetti 

Spaghetti squash  with chicken, broccoli, peas and sundried tomatoes!

Spaghetti squash with chicken, broccoli, peas and sundried tomatoes!

Characteristics: 

A spaghetti squash ranges in color from ivory to yellow to light orange depending on the levels of beta carotene. The most amazing part of spaghetti squash is what happens when you take a fork to the inside of it! It unravels into strings, very similar to spaghetti. 

Flavor: 

Spaghetti squash is very mild - making it a great alternative to pasta - it can be dressed up with a variety of different sauces and toppings. 

Nutrition: 

1 cup of spaghetti squash contains around 42 calories. 

Recipe: Garlic Spaghetti Squash with Herbs

This spaghetti squash recipe from A Pinch of Yum is perfect for a cold fall night when you are craving a hefty bowl of pasta. It's hearty and comforting without the extra carbs and calories.

And this recipe is one I've made for my family in the past. Though they refused to say it was better than pasta, they did give it a thumbs up!  The combination of peas, broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes and chicken make this such a nutritious and filling meal! 

To roast a spaghetti squash cut lengthwise and scoop out the seeds before coating with olive oil and salt. Fill a baking sheet with a shallow layer of water and palce the squash cut sides down. Bake at 375 degrees for around 40 minutes or until the skin is easily pierced with a fork. 

If this is your first time attempting to scrape the flesh out of a spaghetti squash (that sounds extremely violent) check out this video

5. Delicata Squash

AKA: Sweet Potato Squash 

My food photography has changed in the past year, thank god. Here is a bed of spinach with quinoa, roast sweet potatoes, parsnips, peppers, ions and DELICATA.&nbsp;

My food photography has changed in the past year, thank god. Here is a bed of spinach with quinoa, roast sweet potatoes, parsnips, peppers, ions and DELICATA. 

Characteristics: 

This winter squash looks the most similar to a summer squash - a long, skinnier tube with a light yellow coloring. When you cut a delicata squash into "C" shapes, it has pretty scalloped edges! 

Flavor: 

The consistency of a delicata is similar to a sweet potato though its flavor is more earthy. It is creamy and soft and the skin can be eaten. 

Nutrition: 

Full of vitamin A, 1 cup is 80 calories. Bonus - it's low in carbs and high in fiber to keep you full!

Recipe: Pesto Delicata Squash Quinoa Bowl

Check out this amazing autumnal bowl by In It 4 The Long Run featuring delicata squash, pesto and quinoa. 

When I first saw delicata squash, I fell in love with how pretty the slices looked on a roasting sheet. So how do you roast a delicata? You're welcome

I must say - discovering both kabocha and delicata squash this fall has been a total game changer. I found myself grabbing pieces like they were candy - only I didn't have to worry about accidentally eating the entire tupperware! 

So pretty, right?

So pretty, right?

A Few More Things About Squash

  • If you're looking to make a recipe that calls for pumpkin - look to buy a sugar pumpkin. These have the most classic pumpkin taste. 
  • A Sweet Dumpling Squash can be substituted for sweet potatoes or pumpkin while a Carnival Squash can be substituted for acorn or butternut squash. 
    For a super sweet squash, go with the Red Kabocha. 
  • Another fabulous thing about squash is you can easily store it for a long period of time without it going bad! Most squash are fine sitting out on your counter for well over a month! 

YOUR TURN
What's your favorite squash? 
Do you have any recipes you'd like to share? 
Do you prefer squash in sweet or savory dishes? 










Six Sunday Links; Swagger & Sass

Six Sunday Links didn’t happen last week because I was busy celebrating my Gran’s 89

th

birthday in Florida! Seeing her so irregularly now, when she used to be 20 minutes down the road, is incredibly hard – especially when I think about the fact that she’s living in a nursing home and only getting older.

There are moments in life that you know you’re going to want to remember. As they’re happening, you try to make a mental note of all the little details, scared that one day they’ll slip from your memory. You want to live in the moment but you’re already concerning yourself with what’s going to happen when that moment becomes the past. Maybe that’s why I took so many pictures! I tried soaking up the invaluable family time – it’s not very often that my mom’s side of the family gets to spend time together. We ate, we drank, we caught up – I tried my very best to coax the crew into getting a little sappy by sharing some of our favorite memories.

We also celebrated the fact that my cousin and his wife will soon be welcoming their first baby into the family. Gran’s going to be a great-Gran (she already is the greatest Gran, though!) I was sure to buy baby Emma her first NHL onesie. She’s going to look fabulous in it, even though it’s slightly masculine looking. Whatever, gender neutrality is all the rage these days, isn’t it?

In total I spent 20 hours traveling between Friday and Monday, but it was well worth it for moments like this:

Despite having off on Monday to fly home, the week seemed to last forever. But here we are at another Sunday. Instead of using your brain cells to think about the coming week (ugh) – how about checking out these six links? I think it’s a quality batch -  heavy on my own personal commentary. 

The Rise and Fall of Trading Spaces, theHome Design Show That Ruled the World

These days, I very rarely watch TV. Peter and I have made good progress on The Office (I know, I know – I’m behind) and for a while I was binge-watching Orange Is The New Black like it was my job. But lately I haven’t been able to make a commitment to the hour-long episodes. Sorry Piper, it’s nothing personal. 

It seems the only time I am truly a couch potato is when I’m visiting my parents on Long Island. And when I’m there – I’m all about the HGTV. Love It Or List It and House Hunters are my absolute favorites and my mom and I have no problems re-watching episodes that we’ve seen 20 times. But when I saw someone post this article on Facebook I took a total trip down memory lane, remembering the hours spent watching the original home makeover show from TLC –

Trading Spaces

. I’ll never forget the sleepovers where we stayed awake until 5 a.m. watching reruns. I’ll never forget the episode where Hildi makes one couple's room look like a circus tent.

This article blew my mind by pointing out that Trading Spaces premiere

15 years ago

. Whoah. This is a long read – but a fascinating look at the life of the show, which was a precursor to many of today’s reality shows. And did you know that host Paige Davis played Roxy Hart in Chicago on Broadway?

 How Sports Gave Me Swagger 

First off – yes, I’m a subscriber to Lenny, Lena Dunham’s new feminist newsletter. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s (Love and Basketball) contribution.

When I re-read this article to write about it, I started highlighting which quote I wanted to start with. I highlighted the entire first paragraph. It’s like that standup comic who makes fun of girls studying for finals who go highlighter-happy in the library. Totally me. [Totally don’t remember the comedian.]

So, if you’re really not just going to click the link and read the article (it’s worth it, I promise!) here is at least the first paragraph. I have a feeling that, like me, you’ll identify with a lot of it and want to keep reading.

I am shy. I also have a big ego. Practically speaking, that means everyone is looking at me, and it makes me uncomfortable. Actually, "big ego" has a negative connotation. I'll say "healthy ego." Which, sadly, for women, still has a negative connotation. We aren't supposed to have an ego. It's unseemly. It's arrogant. It's not ladylike. Serena Williams was called cocky when she said she wanted to be the best in the world. Well, what the hell is she training so relentlessly for, to be the 37th best in the world? (No disrespect to the 37th best in the world.) A poster of Serena in mid–epic scream should be required on every little girl's bedroom wall so they can be reminded daily how beautiful it is to be a badass.

This reminds me so much of a conversation I’ve had multiple times with my mom since getting into running.

Me: “I’m REALLY frustrated that I’ve lost so much of my speed.”

Mom: “Well why do you care about being fast? Just do it for fun.”

Me: “Because I know I can be better, and I found something I’m actually pretty good at, and I want to improve.”

Yes, I know I’m not going to be winning any races. But that doesn’t mean I can’t acknowledge that I’ve worked hard to improve my speed and endurance and that I am always training to beat the runner I was the last time I raced.

But, like Gina Prince-Bythewood – sports have played a major role in my life – teaching me to always give it my all. To leave everything out on the court, the field, the track, etc. Sports has taught me that if I settle, I’m really only cheating myself.

When I was on the field, I was never told to "slow down." No one ever said, "Don't be so aggressive." I was told to "run faster," "bemoreaggressive," "play harder," "go after it." So I did. And it was the most natural thing in the world.

These lessons translate into so many other aspects of a woman’s life – and I think that fitness in general, even if it’s not organized sports, can really help improve confidence and give ladies out there swagger. Which is sexy.

Amy Schumer’s ‘I’m Sorry’ Skewers A CultureThat Makes Women Apologize Constantly

So, I watched this video and I laughed. Another Amy Schumer video that perfectly captures some of the ridiculous things us ladies do…before becoming completely over the top.

But after I finished laughing, I started thinking. Because a few weeks ago, I got angry at someone. They did something to tick me off, yet at the end of the conversation I texted, “Sorry.”

We’ve all done it. And we’ve probably all been on the receiving end as well. A “sorry” text that clearly doesn’t actually indicate remorse. Well this time, the person on the receiving end called me out and told me not to apologize if I didn’t mean it.

When An Apology Is Anything But

So why do we do it? Why are we constantly saying “Sorry?” This article from the New York Times was SO intriguing to me and brings up tons of interesting points. That “sorry” text that I sent – it was actually the complete opposite. It was basically a text saying, “You did something that annoyed me and by saying sorry, I’m really trying to prove that I

shouldn’t

have to be apologizing to you.” And we wonder why sometimes, the things we say aren’t received and responded to in the way that we want.

The First Person To Run A Marathon WithoutTalking About It 

Let’s get a little less serious with this next link. I was

cracking up

at this video – which is such a sassy satire on marathon runners. I am SO guilty of this. And I also have zero intention of changing my ways next time I’m training for a marathon, PS. NO SHAME.

So You Want to Write a Food Blog

Another hysterical satire – this time about food bloggers. Gosh – runners and foodies – aren’t we just

the worst?

 At least we can laugh at ourselves!

Quinoa is excellent for every meal because its texture is a reminder that life can’t always be smooth or digestible.

I LOVE that people have been sending me interesting articles that they think would make for a good Sunday link – keep them coming! (Erin, Jess - yours will be coming up one of these Sundays for sure, loved ‘em!) 

Six Sunday Links on Monday

This Sunday was spent cheering on friends running the Staten Island Half Marathon and celebrating their 13.1 miles with beers in the sunshine at Flagship Brewery. I'd say my first visit to Staten Island was a success! And I am beyond happy that we're still getting a fair share of sunshine and warmth - it's amazing how much cheerier I am when the sun is out! 

I was sad watching all the runners yesterday, and sitting around afterwards while everyone discussed their race and I couldn't contribute - but I'm happy to report that last week I ran 24 miles total! 

(I've been consistently going to Friday's NP workouts and we've had so pretty fabulous views!)

Since Six Sunday Links didn't happen - now you get them on Monday! 

1) 

Baked Apple Roses

- This is definitely something I want to whip up this fall.  It looks so impressive, yet simple! Not to mention delicious.  

On Friday, I hosted a fall food themed potluck at my apartment and oh boy did I overeat! I couldn't help it, my friends are such talented chefs and everything was delicious. Kaitlin made a kale salad with chickpeas, butternut squash and a Tahini dressing. She even got fancy and massaged the kale. Kayla made maple walnut green beans and Rebecca cooked a delectable pumpkin mac and cheese! I made

sweet potato/black bean/quinoa chili

that was super easy and, I thought, super delicious! I will definitely be making this again one of these nights - the perfect thing to cook on Sunday and have all week long!  I also added some of my new favorite ingredient to the chili - nutritional yeast! A little salty/cheesy boost! 

I also served some goat cheese with apple slices and Pepperjack cheese, PUMPKIN TORTILLA CHIPS from Trader Joe's that are

phenomenal

,

Harvest Salsa

that's also pretty good, and guacamole! 

Steph created these beautiful caramel apple jello shots, Sam and Sara provided  wine on wine on wine and dessert was Melissa's apple crisp (+ vanilla ice cream, drool) and Kayla's pumpkin brownies! 

Fall cooking is wonderful. 

2)

Confidence with an Asterisk

- This article made me feel the feels.

3) I don't remember where I found this exactly - but it's kind of genius! I've been struggling with my boots falling all over the place in my closet. Now, where do I purchase pool noodles in October? 

4)

Keep Austin Weird 

 Monday of last week I realized I had 6 vacation days to use before December 31. I started Googling flights and thinking, "Hm, where can I go in December?" New Orleans, Charlotte, Arizona, and Denver were all considered until I landed on Austin - cheap flights, an awesome city, and warmer than New York in December. Plus, a half marathon on the dates I was looking to go! I messaged Melisa and Peter and by Friday night our flights and AirBnb were booked. I am so excited to explore this city! 

5)  

35 Brilliant New Books

- I perused this list awhile ago and just finished reading one of the books on it

The Heart Goes Last

. It was...interesting. I didn't LOVE it, but I also couldn't put it down. 

"A married couple trying to stay afloat in the midst of an economic and social collapse join The Positron Project – which guarantees them a home and a job for six months of the year. On alternating months, they must leave their home and function as inmates in the Positron prison system. Once their month of service in the prison is completed, they can return to home. At first, this doesn’t seem like too much of a sacrifice. But with each passing day, Positron looks less like a prayer answered and more like a chilling prophecy fulfilled."

6)

Read this wonderful post

written by a wonderful human being who I am so proud to know! 

(This is my friend Liysa and she is BADASS)

*I met Lolo Jones last week.

Happy Hockey Season! A Few Words.

The day has arrived...the 2015-16 NHL season officially kicks off tonight, 114 days after the Chicago Blackhawks won their 6th Stanley Cup on June 15 on home ice. 

An impressive feat, no doubt - but I would just like to remind everyone about the Islander's reign, winning 4 Stanley Cups in 4 back to back seasons. Sure - it was a couple, er, 15, years ago - but it is still impressive. And likely never to be accomplished again. 

What we

do know

 is that the Islanders will never win another Stanley Cup in the Nassau Veteran's Memorial Coliseum on Long Island - because tomorrow night they open their first season played at Barclay's Center in Brooklyn. 

I have a lot of feelings.

Inevitably, when I tell people I'm an Islanders fan, they ask what I think about the move. The first thing that happens is my brain floods with memories from the coliseum. Sure it was slightly hideous, but it was home. 

(And the sunsets were beautiful!)

I've been going to Islanders games at the coliseum since before I can remember, but I still remember the first time I knowingly attended an Islanders game. My dad told me we were going to eat dinner with my mom at her work, so imagine my surprise when we walked inside the coliseum! My first response was, "But won't Mommy be sad we aren't eating dinner with her?" 

There were the games watched from suites that my dad got through work. You would think I would feel like a queen sitting up their in the catered cubes - but I always complained that no one up there cared about hockey. I wanted to be down in the bleachers, in the mix with

real

 fans. 

I wanted to be jumping up and down trying to catch a shirt blasted out into the crowd by the ice girls - even though I knew they were all XXXXLs that I would never wear. I wanted to be taking pictures with Sparky, and staring up mesmerized at the ceiling as the blimp floated around the rafters, dropping down gift cards to lucky fans. I wanted that moment when my face appeared on the jumbo tron, or they released streamers into the crowd after a playoff win. 

I got all of those things on memorable nights where I stayed up far past my bedtime - indulging on Dip n Dots and wondering what my dad found so appetizing about the damn peanuts. 

There was of course the raucous fans around me yelling things I wasn't allowed to repeat - instead we constantly told the Islanders to, "WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE!"

If there was anything I learned being a young Islanders fan in the 90s it was to remain loyal. As a 7 year old, there were nights I was convinced my personal presence in the coliseum was causing the Islanders to lose. Would I ever experience that joyous win? Surrounded by fellow passionate fans? 

Down 7-1 with 2 minutes left in the third period, I would beg my parents not to make me leave - I needed to stay with my team until that final buzzer...you simply never knew what was going to happen! Hockey was unpredictable, exciting, thrilling, fast and furious. 

Countless games later and the place continued to feel more and more like home. I knew the chants, I knew the familiar sound of the organ. I knew that no matter where I was sitting, I'd likely be able to move down a bunch of rows and even if I couldn't, the view was great from everywhere. I knew the bathroom lines were going to be horrendous. I knew that if the team scored 3 goals I'd get free chili from Wendy's the next day. I knew

Goldie - the man who was

always

 there

Mainly, we were there for games, but I also attended American Idols Live concerts, Disney on Ice shows, maybe a Josh Groban concert...not to mention my 6 year old glee at watching an exhibition gymnastics show from the Gold Medal winning Atlanta Olympic team. 

Last season, each trip to the coliseum got a little harder as the end drew near. The night I got to work at the game collecting content for social media - up close and personal with the players and building -was a night I will certainly never forget. 

I'll also never forget this epic pre-game, crammed in a hotel room with so many people who mean so much to me. The rain kept us from tailgating in the parking lot, but I'll hold those memories forever as well. 

When the end of the season arrived, I didn't shed a tear as I expected that I would. Perhaps because I was satisfied with that final season at the coliseum. I had experienced another year of memories, the team had performed well, and I had gotten to say my goodbyes. 

Perhaps I won't shed that tear until reality sinks in tomorrow night and the puck drops on a difference sheet of ice. 

But, whenever someone brings up the Islanders moving to Barclays, the first thing I need to make clear is: 

I will miss the coliseum. 

A lot of other people

have echoed this sentiment

more eloquently than me

, but I needed to add my personal take on it. 

Six Sunday Links

Here we are already at another Six Sunday Links. Before you drag yourself out of bed for laundry and grocery shopping and all the other chores you couldn’t bear to do on a Saturday, check out these articles, videos and photos that entertained me this week.

1) 

I am beyond obsessed with these Amy Schumer videos – which point out major issues with women’s self image/body issues/dieting/exercise etc. in a completely HYSTERICAL way. 

I'm So Bad

 "

“I ate a ball of mozzarella like it was a peach.” 

Nutritionist 

"I can tell by looking you're not the least you can be."

Compliments 

 "Little? I'm like a size 100 now. Anyway, I paid like $2 for it, it's probably made out of old Burger King crowns. I look like a whore locked out of her apartment."

        2)

I just read about comedian Kevin Hart and the surprise 5Ks

he is organizing across the country! It’s really great to see a celebrity using his status to get people up and out! I loved his quote: 

        “I have a platform where I can motivate and inspire," Hart said. "What better way to do that than running? Running is something that everybody can do, all over the world, regardless of race, shape or size. It brings people closer together."
    Couldn’t agree more, K. Hart! 

3) I was SO BLOWN AWAY by this article.

50 Ironman distance triathlons in 50 DAYS?!

If this doesn’t become a book, I’m going to be SO disappointed.

4) Anthony Bourdain is planning to open a GIANT food market on Pier 57 that dwarfs Chelsea Market. It will be modeled after an Asian street market – meaning it will be open all hours with tons of interesting stalls. Sometime it’s a little ridiculous the number of food-focused spaces there are in NYC. Between Smorgasburg, Flea Markets, Eataly, Chelsea Market, City Kitchen, Brookfield Place and outdoor spaces like Madison Square Eats and Penn Plates – I think it takes away from the excitement of them when you can now get an Arancini Rice Ball not just at Smorgasburg but at about a million stalls around the city. But it doesn’t seem like a trend that will be slowing down any time soon – so bring it Bourdain!
5)  This movie trailer really piqued my interest! Burnt
6) Last but not least, a friend posted this photograph titled “Generational Differences” and it really made me stop and think for a minute. Before returning to Instagram on my phone…No but really. It’s a pretty strong image, especially after that “sorority girlsat the baseball game” fiasco this week. 

Anything you think I should check out, please share :)

Friday Funk

Happy Friday to y'all!

I should be smiling - lots of great things happened to me this week. But it's cold and rainy and there's a hurricane coming and for some reason I just feel super BLAH.

I'm not sore. I don't have any "injuries" per say. I just have zero motivation or energy and everything feels achy - like I have the flu minus the cold symptoms. So I'm not really sure what's up.

I do know that I failed at completing all 3 Kayla Itsine's workouts this week for the first time in 7 weeks. I did legs on Monday and Abs/Arms on Tuesday but Abs/Cardio? I did the first 7 minute circuit this morning and then I quit. Yep - complete honesty. I was feeling grumpy and lazy and achy and I laid down on the floor and I tapped out.

I'm trying to give myself some grace. It's very unlike me to get started in a workout with a plan and then not to follow through. I'm trying to give myself the benefit of the doubt - listening to my body which is very clearly saying, "WE DON'T WANT TO DO THIS. We want to lay in bed and binge watch Orange is the New Black!"

I get it body, message received. In a few short hours we will be home spending quality time with Piper and the crew.

So here are a few reasons why I should turn my frown upside down.

1) Tuesday's run felt pretty OK which is all I'm really asking for at this point. I let my brain get a little carried away, and somewhere around mile 2.5 I decided, "Ok, you're wrapping up 5 miles with a sub 8:00 pace." While that may have been totally do-able 4 months ago - it is certainly not realistic at the moment. And you know what? Instead of feeling really discouraged by the actual pace I finished at - I felt satisfied that I had pushed myself and gotten in a run at a solid effort - no phoning it in, no saying "I'm slow now so it doesn't matter." The past few weeks getting back into running, it's been really easy for me to settle for a slow, easy, casual run just because that feels comfortable. But Tuesday's run pushed me outside of my comfort zone which in turn gave me a much better mindset for the rest of the day.

2) Wednesday I challenged myself again - with the goal of swimming a total of 1 mile at the gym. Though it definitely wasn't continuous, I accomplished my goal!

3) I GOT A GOPRO and my Instagram game is going to go WAY up ;)

4) The running store won a Brooks contest and I get a free pair of sneakers. I'm excited to try out the Pure Flows! I know, I know - they're neutral and everyone in the world tells me I should be running in a stability shoe. But both sneakers I trained for Pittsburgh in were neutral sneakers and I made it through relatively pain and injury free - so I'm just going to keep on keepin' on that neutral flow. For now.

5) Peter and I's Date Night this week was my first time seeing an IMAX movie in about a million years. I'm pretty sure the last time I went was in high school to see Harry Potter. We saw "The Walk" about Philippe Petit who walked a high wire that he illegally rigged across the Twin Towers. I thought the movie was really well done, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was great and now I MUST read the book ("To Reach The Clouds").

6) I had a dream last night that I actually remembered when I woke up- which is very rare for me. In the dream, I was just doing Greek things on Paros Island (where I took a 3 week photography class back in 2011). It made waking up a little bit harder, but it was nice to take a few minutes to remember what an amazing opportunity it was to visit Greece. It was also a reason to spend some time flipping through the pictures in my (Facebook) albums and remind myself to make an ACTUAL physical photo album of my pictures. 

Speaking of pictures - I used to be so so interested in photography, and I've been missing it. Taking my DSLR out is usually a pain in the butt but I DO still try to some ~artsy~ pictures with my iPhone. I liked these two that I took this week. They're kind of boring on their own - but as a little mini "pop of pink" series I like 'em.

7) Last week I discovered the joys of picking a salad theme and stickin' to it when I created an Asian-inspired salad. This week, I went for Greek (hmmm, wonder if that's why I had the dream about Paros?) It was pretty damn delicious if I do say so myself - I had it Monday, Wednesday and Thursday night - and still have ingredients to make one more salad tonight! 

Here's what it had:

Peppers

Carrots

Sundried Tomatoes

Plum Tomatoes

Olives

Feta

Cucumber

Chick Peas

Sprouts

Spinach

Balsamic Vinegar for dressing 

One day I'll figure out the proper leaf to topic ration but until then, I will continue to essentially eat bowls of salad toppings. 

8) Avocados exist and were 99 cents at the grocery store this week. I've been digging half an avo mashed with feta, chili flakes, sunflower seeds, sundried tomatoes, olive oil and sea salt! 

9) I got free coffee for National Coffee Day AND my box of Quest bars was delivered - although I've already eaten half of them... (did everyone see they have PUMPKIN PIE QUEST BARS for a limited time? I mightttt need to order a box!) 

10) New snack alert! 2 new snacks this week. The first was an idea from

Georgie at In It For the Long Run - nut butter dates! 

 I didn't make mine as pretty as fancy as hers - all I really did was dunk a date in peanut butter and call it a day -  but it was delicious and sweet and satisfying after my run and before I had time to sit and eat a real breakfast! The other snack was this DIY Kale Chip bag - in theory it's great - open the bag, pour in the olive oil, bake, voila! In execution - the chips still came out a little soggy. But texture aside, I dressed them up with some sea salt and NUTRITIONAL YEAST (cheesy, mmm) and they were pretty bomb.com. 

In other news, I'm really trying to make this blog more than just a running account of my life.

I really enjoyed writing Wednesday's post

and was happy with the feedback!

I've been brainstorming some other post ideas - but if anyone has any suggestions or anything they'd like to see on PB is my BF - please feel free to share your thoughts :)

In the meantime, here are some blogs that have been really inspiring me:

arunnarounddlife

Just The Elevator Pitch 

The Real Life RD

In It For the Long Run 

Any other favorite blogs I should check out? 

Small Talk

I’m convinced I’m an ambivert – but regardless of whether or not I’m an introvert or an extrovert, one thing I know I am is awkward when it comes to small talk. Friends tell me I’m not awkward, but a) that’s because we’re friends and I’m not awkward around them and b) even if I’m somewhat successful  in not coming off as awkward – I feel awkward when I’m forced into small talk.

Recently, I’ve been kind of sort of most definitely obsessed with this blog called Just The Elevator Pitch. You kind of sort of most definitely NEED to check it out. You’ll be hooked and probably never have time to come back and read my blog, but that’s a chance I’m willing to take because Nicole’s blog is just that damn great.

Anywho – she came up with a genius way of figuring out, “AmI Good At Small Talk?
Going into this exercise, I am fully expecting that answer to be a big fat nope. How am I going to find out? Going through the Google Trends page to see what the most searched topic of each of the past 30 days was. And seeing if I know anything about it at all.

 Facebook Privacy 
        Unfortunately, my newsfeed has been overrun with people under the false assumption that anything they put on the internet is private. I truly question the collective intelligence of our society when trends like this pop up. And I’m shocked that across the country, “Channel 13 News” is discussing these “changes” to Facebook’s privacy policy. Because where I’m from, I’m pretty sure that channel 13 is PBS and all they’re showing is Arthur and Curious George. 
        Mars
        I know now that boys are not from Mars. And that Mars Bars are quite delicious. I’ve also heard the news that there’s water on Mars.
        Lunar Eclipse
        As my dad texted me on Sunday night, telling me I HAD to look out my window and look at the moon, I had a sudden moment of sadness when I realized if I got out of bed and looked out my window – all I would see were buildings.
          iPhone 6S 
        Why people think it’s fun to stand in absurd lines on the day new Apple products are released I will never know – they do know there is such a thing as pre-order right? Then again, I spent hours at the local Borders to get my hands on Harry Potter Books the second the clock struck midnight. So who am I to judge?
 Thursday Night Football
 My football knowledge leaves much to be desired. 
 Autumnal Equinox
 I don’t know what it means scientifically except that my favorite season is over and it’s going to get cold out. And also that when engaging in small talk – it’s best to avoid talking about the weather unless you want to seem seriously inept.
 Scream Queens
        I got nothin’. A Google search (ironic) informs me that it’s a movie – I’m not a movie person. Which would be the perfect small talk topic in many situations. Bummer.
 Autumnal Equinox 
 #1 Trending Search twice in a week? Still not something I’d bring up at a party.
 Emmys 2015
 I don’t go to the movies and I don’t have cable – so my ability to discuss things in the world of popular culture is extremely limited.

 Alabama Football
        I got nothin’.
 Zoey 101 
        Hey, I know what this is! No clue why it’s a trending topic though…not to mention that if I were to bring this up in small talk in would almost certainly result in awkwardness.  
Denver Broncos 
Can we just get hockey season started?
Republican Debate We watched the first one as a fun family vacation activity, but the second one – no thanks.
Snapchat Update 
YES! I could definitely sustain a conversation about the new Snapchat selfie filters for a solid 5 minutes. I would also mention that I recently captured an EPIC video for my Snapchat story which involved a biker SCREAMING at a cabby.
49ers 
Sheesh. Whatever happened to baseball being America’s favorite pastime?
NFL Scores 
        I’m done.
 Mayweather
       No.
 Serena Williams 
        Serena Williams is a BEAST in the best, most badass way possible. So she lost. She’s still epic.
        9/11
 I think we all could have a conversation about where we were on September 11, 2001.

 NFL Scores
 Original.
  Stephen Colbert 
 An incredibly talented guy that I wish I watched more of. I had the chance to attend a filming  of Colbert Report a few years ago, and it was definitely an awesome experience!
 Ohio State Football
 Yawn.
 Venus Williams 
 If my sister beat me at tennis, I wouldn’t be a happy camper!
 Alabama Football 
 Oy.
 Serena Williams 
See above – she’s epic.
 Tom Brady 
Deflate Gate 2015? I didn’t follow it, but I’ve obviously heard about it. I don’t live under a rock.
 Frontier Airlines
 I book travel for people at work, and this airline comes up in my searches every once in a while. I have no idea why they are a trending search topic though – which probably means I don’t skim the homepage of the New York Times often enough.
 Google logo History 
Every now and then I’ll take note of the Google logo on the homepage and take a second to appreciate the creativity. Other days I’m like, really? That’s what you’ve got?
US Tennis Open 
One day I want to buy a skort and go to the US Open. I went to tennis camp when I was younger and my mom played in high school and wanted me to follow in her footsteps. I wasn’t awful, except that field hockey was during the same season. So, sorry Mom! But tennis is fun. And fancy. And I like when it gets some love. (Get it, love?)
Miley Cyrus 
YES. Let’s chat about Miley, shall we?

So I think the moral of the story is that if anyone tries to bring up football during small talk – it’s going to be a very awkward conversation. Same with any movies and likely television as well. Which, apparently, is what everyone is the world is Googling in their free time.

I can discuss Miley, Snapchat filters and how annoying it is when people post the Facebook Privacy status.

Good thing my weekend plans involve my best friend’s birthday, quality time with my sister and limited interaction with strangers.


And maybe I should watch some football. 

Are You "That" Girl?

She holds a fancy Starbucks drink in one hand while the other masterfully flips through the pages of the latest book from the New York Times bestseller list. “That” girl. A Michael Kors bag is perfectly perched in the elegant space between her wrist and her elbow and her outfit looks like it was thrown together effortlessly despite the fact that it could be featured in the pages of Vogue. Her Essie manicured nails are perfect  - not a chip to be seen. “That” girl. Straight from your Pinterest board.

How did she juggle her morning coffee, her book, her purse and her metro card to step through the subway turnstiles like she was walking down a runway? How does she only have one small purse to get through the day, while I’ve felt like a bag lady since the second I moved to Manhattan? Because she’s “that” girl. A different species from you entirely, right?

Her hair is long and gleaming in the early morning sun and she’s outfitted from head to toe in Nike gear. This season’s newest fashions, of course. She looks like her morning miles in Central Park should be used in a commercial. “That” girl.

She’s floating, and girls and guys alike can’t help but follow her with their eyes as she makes the rolling hills of Central Park look like an enjoyable amusement park ride instead of a pain in the ass. “That” girl is who you will never, ever, manage to be – right?

We’ve all seen these women, and chances are you’ve asked yourself, “How do they do it? How do they make it seem so easy? So natural?”

Each and every morning I try to figure out how to somehow read my book (very rarely is it a New York Times bestseller – more like something I’ve pulled from the shelves of the New York Public Library), answer text messages I’ve failed to respond to, and get my metro card out from its Vera Bradley change purse. The change purse which resides in my backpack – not a Michael Kors purse that sits perfectly in the crook of my arm. But what does sit in the crook of my arm is a reusable bag filled with my food for the day – since I definitely can’t afford $12 Chop’t salads and $10 fresh squeezed juices every day. Adding a morning coffee into the mix? Heels? Impossible.  I’m just not “that” girl.

When my alarm goes off for a run in the morning my hair resembles a rat’s nest and I’m likely wearing Old Navy or some other running apparel I’ve managed to get on clearance for less than $20.

But this morning during my run I had an interesting thought. “That” girl ran by and I thought, “Does she know that she’s the object of envy?”

And you know what I realized? She probably has no idea. She probably groaned when her alarm went off too. And maybe her Uncle Bob works for Nike and gets all her pretty gear for free. And chances are her legs are burning up those hills just like everyone else’s.

And then my next thought was, “Oh my GOD. What if people look at me and think

I’m

making it seem so easy? Could I possibly be “that” girl in someone else’s eyes?” And honestly – yes. Any one of us can be. Because we all have admirable strengths and qualities and we all have days when we’re rockin’ it. Our outfit is on point. We aren’t a bag lady for once. Weeks of yoga has made it possible to make the commute in wedges instead of your Saucony’s. Weeks of hard work have paid off and Harlem Hill is a little less torturous. In those moments, we can unknowingly become “that” girl to someone else.

If someone saw me running up Cat Hill this morning, chances are they didn’t give me a second thought. But I was pushing the pace past Engineer’s Gate and my shorts were pretty cute – so maybe for a split second someone compared themselves to me. Without knowing anything about me.

“That” girl that you see in the morning and use to put yourself down and make yourself feel inferior – is probably doing the same exact thing. And she’s probably no different than you. With good days and bad days – confident days and days she isn’t feelin’ so hot.  

Are there girls that walk around

knowing

they are the shit? Yes. But those aren’t girls you really want to strive to be, are they?

Instead, take a little comfort in the fact that you 

don’t

feel superior. You can’t imagine someone looking at you and thinking that you’re one of the ones that have your shit together. 

We can’t imagine being “that” girl. But chances are that whoever we look at and put on a pedestal – feels just as insecure at times as everyone else.

So yeah,

we’re all “that” girl.

But seriously, there has to be a better way to juggle all my shit in the morning... 

A-Z Survey

I feel like I’m in 8

th

grade filling out a survey about the last boy I kissed and what my last sent text message says ("Mkay"). I guess the things we consider entertaining as 13 year olds don’t really change that much – who is up for a game of MASH? I’m really curious as to who I’m going to marry and whether or not I’ll live in a mansion, apartment, shack or house! Took this survey from

Ms. Kaitlin

. Here we go.

A — Age: 

25. Officially in my “mid-twenties.” I prefer being a “twenty-something.”

B – Biggest Fear: 

Birds. Nope – no traumatizing story. I just really, really, really hate birds. Pigeons are definitely the worst, followed closely by seagulls. Something about them sends panic through my body – I’ve screamed, cried and run, causing a general scene, when confronted with pigeons in the city. The sound of their wings makes me want to puke. My biggest fear is that one is going to fly into me.

C – Current Time: 

8:30 a.m.

D – Drink You Had Last: 

I’m currently drinking tea because I need to hydrate but I’m always freezing !

E – Easiest Person To Talk To: 

My sister. Anything I would write in a diary, I know I could also say to my sister. Which is so ironic, considering she’s the person I tried my hardest to hide my password journal from back in middle school. If you had told me when we were younger that we would one day be best friends, we both probably would have cracked up. Actually, I’m almost positive that our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles told us exactly that as we were growing up – and we certainly didn’t buy it. But without a doubt, my sister is my best friend.

F – Favorite Song:

 Oh damn. Choosing a favorite anything is hard for me, but a favorite song is nearly impossible. It’s so dependent on my mood! Not to mention my taste in music is allllll over the place. One song that I could listen to on repeat for hours is Fire and Rain by James Taylor. Another is On My Own from Les Miserables. I’ve also been known to listen to a LOT of Ke$ha. Recently, I’ve been listening to a lot of folksy stuff. But favorite at the moment let’s go with Missy Higgins,

any

song. Seriously need to see her in concert, ASAP.  

G – Grossest Memory: 

My first thought was a recent weekend at a NYRR race when I went to use a portapotty and…really wished I hadn’t. Let’s just say I found a way to hold it.

H – Hometown: 

Small town Long Island.

(Also home to the most incredible sunsets)

I – In Love With:

 So many things! And I’m so lucky that my life is so full of things and people that I love.

(Definitely love all these things! Except rain. I do not love rain.)

J – Jealous Of:

 I try not to be a jealous person, but it’s a natural reaction sometimes. I guess I would say I’m jealous of people who are super fulfilled by what they’re doing – whether it be their careers, their side projects, their volunteer efforts, etc. There’s a lot that I want to accomplish one day – and sometimes I feel like I’m in a constant state of, “One day I’ll do this…One day I’ll do that.” Sometimes it feels like I’m waiting for there to magically be more time for me to do all the things I want to do – despite knowing that the only way it’s going to happen is if I

make

the time. I also know that all those people who seem completely fulfilled and accompli

shed have things that they are putting on hold too. I guess the important thing is that I at least

have

goals and aspirations, right?

K – Kindest Person You Know: 

I’m lucky to know so many incredibly kind and generous people that I don’t think I can name just one. Cop out answer, but whatever.

L – Longest Relationship:

Peanut Butter and I have been very serious for a very long time.

M – Middle Name: 

Michelle – which is also my “last name” on Facebook, so sometimes people think it’s really my last name.

N – Number of Siblings: 

1 younger sister – see above – best friend, drop dead gorgeous and legitimately the funniest/strangest person that you’ll ever meet. 

(Totally normal)

O – One Wish: 

More hours in the day.

P – Person You Spoke To On The Phone Last:

 My dad – he gives me all the important information like, “Tonight is a full moon and super moon and blood moon and a lunar eclipse.”

(He's a pretty funny guy, fabulous chef, and knows SO MANY THINGS)

Q – Question You’re Always Asked: 

Usually it’s about my job – “Oh my God do you LOVE IT?!”

R – Reason To Smile: 

Monkeys. Just look at a picture of a cute monkey. I bet you smile. Another reason to smile is how #blessed I am in so many ways. Everyone complains , but I’m so lucky that if I really stop and think, my life is pretty damn great.

S – Song You Last Sang: 

Probably the theme song to Orange Is The New Black since I CANT STOP WATCHING.

T – Time You Woke Up: 

6:15 a.m. for some Kayla Itsines leg day – ouch!

U – Underwear Color: 

Blue with some sort of pattern.

V – Vacation Destination: 

I REALLY want to go hiking out west!

W – Worst Habit: 

Biting my lips, probably. I also have a tendency to get really worked up and passionate about things and not even realize that I’m being sassy/controlling/obnoxious/argumentative. I’m trying to work on that one…

X – X-Rays You’ve Had: 

Teeth, shin, foot/ankle

Y – Your Favorite Food:

 Don’t make me pick – I love all food! Except licorice and truffles.

(But guac is definitely up there on the list!)

Z — Zodiac Sign: 

Taurus. I don’t consider myself particularly stubborn but, people close to me may disagree?

Pick one (or a few) and share your answers!

Six Sunday Links

It’s Sunday morning, which means you’re probably scrolling through your Instagram feed, drooling at #brunch pictures and trying to figure out if you’re craving avocado toast, pancakes, huevos rancheros or all of the above.

Or maybe you’re a normal person who just woke up and sat down to a normal homemade breakfast – nothing wrong with a bowl of Cheerios to start your Sunday (although if you don’t at least slice up some banana with it, I can’t approve).

Either way, here are some Sunday links for you to peruse.

1)        “The Summer That Never Was

The last thing I was is for the temperatures to drop and the mornings to be darker. But Pumpkin Spice Lattes have arrived (along with the new Toasted-Graham Latte

) and the first day of fall has official come and gone so I guess it’s time to say so long to summer. Sure, there are things that didn’t get done – a ride on my boat, a Broadway in Bryant Park concert – but this summer was certainly a wonderful one and now it’s time to plan some new adventures. One part of this article really spoke to me – since I’m hoping to make my way out west some day soon!

“God, how I long to go out West again someday — to drive some blue highway in Nevada or Utah until there’s absolutely nothing around me, then stop the car, in the middle of the road, maybe, and get out and just stand there, where I can see the horizon in every direction, and smell the air and feel the sun and listen to the silence of the desert. I have this idea that if I could do this, time might hold still for a second, and I would know, for just a moment, what it feels like to be here."

2) “No,your kid may not have a snack” 

Sound harsh? This was an extremely interesting article from the Chicago Tribune about the culture of snacking in today’s society among children – I remember having snack time in school (we made popcorn and played Nok-Hockey and had weddings for our Beanie Babies)– but now, kids are snacking up to 4 times a day!

3) “The  Myth of the Before-And-After Photo” 

We’ve all seen them on Instagram – amazing body transformations all thanks to hard work and healthy habits. On good days, these pictures motivate and inspire us. One bad days, they can make us feel discouraged and defeated. I liked this articles take on before and after photos. Maybe you will too.

And now, some videos!

4) “Workout Wednesdays” with Zach Anner

This guys is funny as hell and also super inspirational. He creates these “Workout Wednesday” Youtube videos despite living with Cerebal Palsy. Each one has a message of positivity!

5) "Toddler Players Peek A Boo with Gorilla – Internet Goes Ape "

WHY CANT THIS BE ME!? Ask Peter. I literally sat for like 20 minutes at the Bronx Zoo trying to get the gorillas to NOTICE MEEEEE!

At least I’ll always have the special kiss between Mindy and I in St. Louis…

6.)Helping the Homeless Back on their Feet – and Running

Let’s end with a feel good story… I think this is amazing, and I’m definitely looking into volunteer opportunities!

Enjoy your Sunday!

Five Friday Faves

Time to be super girly for a sec and talk about some of my favorite products - because I recently got 3 Essie nail polishes at a street fair for $10 and it made my day! Normally, I'm not very picky when it comes to beauty products - makeup, moisturizer, nail polish - I'll buy whatever is on sale. But there ARE some exceptions. 

Here are my girly Friday Faves:

1) Oil of Olay Moisturizer - I'm pretty sure I love this stuff just because it's what I grew up using since it's my mom's favorite. But, mother's know best, right? They have a bunch of different products and creams - and I'm not exactly picky - active hydrating, complete all day moisture, classic moisturizing - potato potato. I always try to use a base coat before applying makeup! And I also use a dab of it on a tissue to remove eye make up! Probably terribly since you aren't supposed to rub abrasive tissues all over your eyes - but it works like a charm ;) (Approximately ~$10)


2) Miracle Skin Transformer - My grandma picked his up for me and Costco once, and I've used it probably every day since. It's FABULOUS! It's like the most incredible BB cream ever. If I'm feeling lazy, that's all I'll put on as my "makeup" in the morning - moisturizer, SPF  and cover-up all in one! Apparently it's even been featured on Dr. Oz. Go figure - my Nanny is a genius like that! (~$48 on their website for a 1.5 oz tube but ~$28 on Amazon - and hey sell it at Costco at a discount too!)




3) e.l.f. Waterproof Eyeliner Pen -  I have always been absolutely terrified of liquid eyeliner, but when I accidentally picked this pen up without realizing that it wasn't your typical eyeliner pencil, I fell in love. It's superrrr pointed so it's really easy to put on and looks so much better, darker and smoother than a pencil. It doesn't last very long, but  e.l.f. is SUPER cheap - $2! Did you know it stands for eyes, lips, face? 




4) Essie Nail Polish - Yes, the price can be steep (~$8.50) - but the quality and the way it goes on is just SO MUCH BETTER than a $2 drugstore polish. Plus, they have so many wonderful colors AND if you invest in Essie - they usually have tons of it at nail salons. That means when you get a mani, you can pick an Essie color you own so that when you inevitably mess it up on the way home, you can easily touch it up ;) If you leave in NYC, there's usually a cosmetics booth at every street fair that offers Essie polish for $4 (or 3 for $10!) I currently have "take it outside" on and I'm loving it - the perfect neutral for fall. It's a little gray, a little lavender and a little beige. But my all time favorite is "bikini so teeny"!




5) Body Shop Satsuma Body Lotion - Growing up, I had a strange obsession with the scent emanating from Body Shops at suburban malls. Literally - every time I passed one, I just wanted to stand there smelling it forever. At some point, I dragged my mom in and demanded to know "WHAT IS THAT SMELL?!" Turns out it's their "Satsuma" scent. I love it to this day. (Price of the Satsuma collection varies depending on the product, but the body lotion is ~$13! And free shipping!) 



Happy Birthday Peter! Hanging Onto Summer

Everyone warns you that you shouldn't wait until something's gone to appreciate it. You know, "Don't it always seem to go, that you you don't know what you've got til it's gone." 

But lately, I've been suffering from something we'll call "Missing Something While It's Here." I'm trying desperately to cherish every last bit of summer we have. Soaking up every last ray, taking advantage of every opportunity to eat outside or run at dusk in shorts and a tank-top. But it's making me SO SAD thinking that any day now, restaurants will be packing up the al fresco dining option and going out for a run will require a whole lot more "hmm, which layers do I need?" 

Luckily, while it's creeping into late September, we had another week of beautiful weather. 

Monday was Kayla Itsine's leg day workout and DAMN was it a killer. No joke, my legs didn't feel fully recovered from it until Saturday. X jumps, weighted step ups, jump lunges (does anyone else find these to be the most difficult thing ever?), tuck jumps, sumo jump squats, split squats, weighted walking lunges and broad jump burpees.  My legs hurt all over again just thinking about it. 




A closing shift at the running store made for a late night. 

Tuesday was arms and abs with a little post-work yoga session. Then, I finally got back into the world of theater - writing a review of the Off-Broadway play Laugh It Up Stare It Down. The story wasn't my cup of tea, but the creative design was wonderful and one of the actresses from the cast of 4 graduated high school with my aunt and played for the same field hockey coach I played for! I stuck around after the show to introduce myself and Amy Hargreaves (Homeland) was extremely friendly and gracious. 




This was a first - during intermission, my friend was really hungry so we successfully took a pizza break in 15 minutes and didn't even miss the start of the second act! 

Wednesday morning Peter and I went to 5:30 November Project where we ran a whole lotta stairs! My ankle and shins still aren't all too happy about it. We had planned to do the 6:30 workout until around 7 but one of the worst things for IT Bands are stairs and hills so I didn't want to push it. Instead, we went for a nice flat 2 miles along the river. 


(Nothing like it!)

And again, a night at the running store. 

Thursday was PETER'S BIRTHDAY! He's old. Basically 30, now. We started the day with a 5:45 a.m. wake up call and journey downtown to Yoga to the People for my first ever hot vinyasa class. It was sweaty. And our teacher LOVED plank and chaturanga. My arms didn't love our teacher. But it was a good class - and for $20 for Peter and I ($5 class + $2 towel + $1 water bottle + $2 mat), it didn't break the bank either. (Although WHY does the NYSC yoga class schedule SUCK?!) 

During my lunch break I finished Kayla Itsine's workouts for the week with abs and cardio. 

After dinner it was time to celebrate! Peter had picked out a restaurant he wanted to go to for his birthday and DAMN did he pick well. Marc Forgione is an Iron Chef with a restaurant in Tribeca called...Marc Forgione's. There will be a review to come, but first, I need to see if it helps me win a Time Out New York contest that I entered to find the next NYC food critic! I'll let these pictures that I spent a lot of time perfecting speak for themselves. 



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(There was even champagne waiting for us when we sat down!)



No birthday is complete without birthday cake, so after dinner I told Peter we were walking over to Parm for their famous, ginormous slice of ice cream cake. Pistachio, Strawberry and Chocolate ice cream with whipped cream, sprinkles and a cherry on top. Doesn't get much more classic than that! While there was certainly a TON of ice cream (think: Ben & Jerry's container) it was served super frozen and the chocolate crunchies in between each layer of ice cream just didn't measure up to Carvel. 




The fancy diner interior of Parm, though not at all what I expected, was cool and made me want to stop by for an eggplant parm hero at a later date. 

We went to bed fairly early because Friday:

Up at 5:00 a.m. to run 6.5 miles down to Pumphouse Park near Brookfield Place for a November Project workout. AND we did the workout - loops of the park + pushups + squats + dips. The pace was a little slower than our run to Southstreet Seaport the previous Friday, but both of our bodies were still functioning relatively pain free so SUCCESS. 





Then Peter did a million and one push-ups because that's what you do when it's your birthday at NP. And when you want to show off but forget that yesterday you did chaturanga approximately 1 million times. 




Friday during lunch I went to my favorite yoga class and stretched it all out. 

That night I honestly don't remember what I did. A lot of laying around watching Orange is the New Black and baking a LOT of cookies. Bed early so I could get up and workout before Peter's birthday party on Saturday. 


(S'Mores and Snickerdoodles!)

First up on Saturday morning, 50 laps at the pool. Each and every time I go I feel a little better, and this was no exception. It's probably the most I've swam in one workout too! After swimming I went to a 45 minute spin class. 

The spot for Peter's party was Loreley - a German beer garden on Steuben Day at the start of Oktoberfest. So fitting. We had a great time, and I even had avocado toast with my free beer from the keg they tapped at the bar to kick of Oktoberfest. 




They also paraded around this POOR LITTLE PIGGY!




My millions of cookies were a hit, and I unintentionally followed a German tradition when I decided to bake Peter a cookie shaped like a heart. Oktoberfestherzen are gingerbread cookie hearts! Mine was a snickerdoodle but close enough. 




During the day drinking we took a TO to stop by Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream which is supposedly one of the "Finest" Ice Cream "parlors" in NYC.  Peter and I disagree. 




Yes, you can tell that this stuff is definitely made fresh and with care. Each is in a TINY container. Like, I have bigger tupperware in my apartment. Talk about small batch! And yes, they have some interesting flavors. But you'll never know which ones are good because each customer is only allowed one sample. So when we tried one and didn't like it, obviously we weren't going to spend money on "Salt and Pepper Pinenut" without because able to give it a taste. That's not exactly a flavor I can conjure up in my mind and decide if I'm a fan. So instead we went with Raw Milk and plain old chocolate with their "homemade" whipped cream that was literally soup. For $8, I'm going to give this place a big old "OVERRATED." 

Anyone else have a better experience with Morganstern's?

The night went on, we moved locations, we had fun, we ate nachos. I helped myself to a piece of cake when we got back that night because Peter's mom is a wizard when it comes to baking. 




Sunday when we awoke I was the least hungover but that didn't mean I was feeling refreshed. There was a lot of lounging around (and maybe another slice of cake) before exploring the 92Y Street Fair on Lexington Ave. I finally bought some succulents to hang in little glass orbs about my bed! One is up and hanging and he other WAS up and hanging for about 5 minutes before crashing down, shattering, and spilling dirt all over my bed. 




At the street fair I also bought 3 beautiful fall/winter colors of ESSIE NAIL POLISH for $10. Favorite part about street fairs, for sure. 

The weather on Sunday was ridiculously gorgeous. The sun was hot, there was a cool breeze and not a cloud in the sky. We were lucky enough to snag one of the four outdoor tables at Meatball Shop for brunch where, after considering everything on the menu for a solid 10 minutes, I ended up ordering what I order every single time. Everything But the Kitchen Sink with veggie balls and pesto. Sunday's plate included broccoli rabe, zucchini, red cabbage slaw and fennel. It made for a great brunch/dinner. 




After Meatball Shop, we were too close to 16 Handles NOT to go.  A heaping cup of Graham Cracker and Birthday Cake froyo later and I was in a sugar coma. I left the boys to watch football and promptly passed out in bed. 


(This is how I could get into football...)

When I woke up I managed to motivate myself to do a 50 minute yoga video from YouTube and then headed out for some speed work in Central Park because it was such a beautiful night and I really wanted to get a picture of the sunset at the reservoir. So why not run, right? Right. A ran .5 miles to Engineer's Gate and another .5 miles on the Bridle Path. When I hit a mile, a kicked things up a notch for .5. Slowed down for .25. Kicked it up for .5. Slowed down for .25. Kicked it up for .5. Entered the reservoir loop and did two quarter mile intervals. My ankle was bothering me a little bit, so while I initially wanted to do 3 miles of fast running, I settled for 2 and comfortably ran myself back home for a total of 4.25 miles and a beautiful picture of the sunset. 




And a huge case of "Missing Something While It's Here."

Next up was grocery shopping, food prepping, an episode of Orange is the New Black, leftover Meatball Shop and bed. 

My alarm this morning was supposed to get me to the gym for Kayla Itsine's leg day but - that didn't happen so it will have to be a sweaty lunch hour today since I have work at the running store tonight. 

Here's to hoping this week is just as wonderful and filled with happiness and sunshine as last week! (Although there was a definite chill in the air this morning!) 

Funny story: Friday night I was shaving and, since I'm terrible at shaving, somehow managed to shave off a LARGE strip of skin on my ankle. It WOULDN'T stop bleeding! And of course, I had no bandaids in the apartment. So how did I improvise? Pantyliner wrapped around my ankle and held in place with an Ace bandage until I could get to Duane Reade in the morning. When I unwrapped it in the morning, it was STILL bleeding! Ugh. 

The Most Perfect Weekend Ever.

Once you've "grown up" and moved out of your parents house - it's becomes very sentimental. At least for me, thinking about home makes me think about how lucky I was to grow up where I did - on the water, with aunt and uncles and grandparents a quick car ride or walk away.

Trips home are a time to visit the places I used to frequent - and absence makes the heart grow fonder - so the places that I used to be sick of are now some of the places that I miss the most. 

That's why if you ask me what my perfect summer weekend looks like, it's a weekend home in Miller Place where every moment is filled with family, friends and some very key places and activities.   

For Labor Day Weekend, Peter came to Suffolk County for my attempt to show him this ideal summer weekend. I don't know if he would agree - but for me, I'm still floating on cloud nine about how amazing it was. 

I headed home after work on Friday and was greeted by a new iPhone 5S...yep, I cracked already.

I spent awhile getting it all set up and then went to the beach with my parents for some live music and beers down by the water.




After that it was off to dinner at one of my favorite local restaurants - Alexandro's.  It was a beautiful night and we were able to sit outside. AND they had my favorite special - the tuna tartar tower! MMM! For an entree I got a giant Greek salad with shrimp. And of course I filled up on pita and their amazingly fresh homemade hummus.




We got home and watching some TV while I made myself a heaping ice cream sundae with Tonight Dough and Speculoos Core Ben and Jerry's ice cream.  

In the morning, I failed to wake up and work out before Peter arrived as planned - something about my bed at home just never lets me escape the covers in a timely fashion! Oh well. 

We ran a few errands - picking up a phone case, picking up bagels and cream cheese for Sunday morning, and stopping for breakfast and lattes at Crazy Beans. SO delicious. It's the kind of place I would love to open one day. Filled with odds and ends, cozy, offering music and art and open mic nights with wine and beer - all that it's missing is avocado toast and green juices. 




Salted Caramel Latte for Peter and a Rainbow Cookie Latte for moi. 

We got home and hopped in the truck for my dad to bring us down to the water for some kayaking! It was gorgeous out - a cool breeze, sun shining, and we paddled around the harbor for awhile before a quick relaxation break on beach. 




After showering it was off to the Yacht Club for a RUM BUCKET, a plethora of chips and pretzels with the world's best honey mustard (Ken's), and appetizers (wings, shrimp and mini tacos) and this delicious summer salmon salad that we split. All the while, Peter was enthralled in the Penn State football game. 




Driving away we caught the beginning of what was sure to be a beautiful Cedar Beach sunset (which to this day has never been beaten - not even by the sunset in Santorini). 



We picked up my sister and went back to Crazy Beans for some live music and beer. In the beginning if was kind of dead, but by 9 it was hoppin'. The best part was catching up with friends who I hadn't seen in wayyy too long. 




Not ready for the day to end, we headed Down Port where we wandered, complaining about every bar, before settling for a table outside at Tommy's.



We went home and I quickly fell asleep. 

In the morning, I managed to force myself into a circuit workout in my basement during which I felt every bite of food and every sip of alcohol threatening to come back up - luckily, that didn't happen. When I finished my pathetic attempt at a workout I woke Peter up and we went for a run - any perfect weekend in my book includes a run - and it was fun to show him what my usual little 3.5 mile route is when I'm home. The IT-band was hurting by the end, but nothing too terrible which left me feeling pretty positive. 

The run was followed by another Long Island staple - BAGELS! 

We then spent an hour helping my sister write a cover letter because we are SO KIND. 

I also showed Peter how to shuck corn in preparation for that night's barbecue. Can you believe he had never shucked corn before? 



Then Peter, my sister and I went down for a swim at the beach. Peter complained about the rocks and the murky water but I LOVED IT. 

We met my parents for a drink down at Ralph's where a local favorite was playing guitar and singing some good tunes (James Taylor, Jimmy Buffet!) The song of the weekend was "Southern Cross." 




Next up with BARBECUE time! My dad makes THE best hamburgers where he grinds the meat himself - I'm not a huge burger person, and I almost never order one out, but no summer is complete without one my dad's homemade hamburgers. 

To lead up to the main course, he served a ton of clams on the half shell with his homemade cocktail sauce. 



Despite my mother saying some not so appetizing things about clams, we all enjoyed them and we also enjoyed our giant margaritas (my dad ALSO makes the best margaritas!) 



Then, I forced Peter to play the guitar while I attempted to sing along and my mom and dad and sister looked on in horror as I butchered every song. 



I slowly and steadily devoured my burger - topped with mashed avocado, American cheese, ketchup + mustard (yes, I mix!), onion, tomato, lettuce and pickles on the side. PLUS two ears of fresh Long Island corn on the cob and my dad's tomato salad with fresh basil from our garden. 


(Could it be any more perfect?)

I was so content at the end of this meal. And by content I mean bursting. 

The last thing I had planned was a fire outside at my grandparent's house - complete with aunts, uncles and little cousins. We got there and I couldn't even touch the chips and guac, which shows how full I was from dinner. 




Eventually, Peter and I DID manage to join my little cousins in making some s'mores. Okay...we initiated the s'mores making...


AND we pre peanut butter and Nutella'd our graham crackers. We don't mess around when it comes to dessert. 

I wish I had more pictures from the fire because my grandparent's backyard is absolutely gorgeous! I'll have to be a more diligent photo taker next time. 



Sadly, with the end of the fire came the end of the weekend. Even though it was a long weekend, I had a 4:00 a.m. alarm on Monday morning to leave for a work trip to Toronto. So we got home, took a quick nap, and I was on my way. 

What could have made the weekend better was some time spent on the boat (with tubing and water skiing preferably) and Peter and I sitting to watch the sunset at the beach. But this was the absolute most perfect way to end my summer. 

I know I can be a demanding person - I basically gave my parents a list of things I wanted to do in two days and created a lot of work for them (we also cost them a lot of money in food and alcoholic beverages...) And from the second Peter arrived to the second I left I had him in constant motion. I invited about 10 people over to my grandparents house. But I hope everyone knows how much I appreciate them putting up with me and making everything happen and how incredibly happy the whole weekend made me. I'm the luckiest :) 






Finally All Caught Up!

Last week I went home for one of my first Long Island weekends of the summer! 

My grandparents picked me up from the train and I was immediately treated to a delicious sushi dinner (yes, MORE sushi - never enough!) at our favorite place in town - Benten. Kenny the sushi chef there is the man. 

We OBVIOUSLY started with the lobster tempura salad. Big chunks of battered lobster with a spicy mayo dressing. The lettuce is not even necessary. We picked on edamame for the greens! And then I meant to order the sauteed oysters (my dad is a huge fan but I'm not in love) and accidentally ordered the fried oysters instead. They were good - because what isn't made better with a little deep fried dough? 

For the three of us, I ordered 4 sushi rolls - and it was a struggle to finish them all. However - I managed, obviously ;) 





Benten 2: Eel, shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, crab stick, avocado with soy pepper
This one was probably my favorite! 


Green Dragon: salmon, cucumber, avocado outside 

John Jr.: Tuna, scallion, tobiko, spicy mayo, tempura 

Wrong Island: Tuna, eel, avocado, scallion, tempura, spicy mayo and a fresh salmon outside
This one's crazy! All the things! 


After dinner, Nanny insisted (and I didn't put up much of a fight) on stopping by our local homemade ice cream shop - McNulty's - for some dessert. I haven't been there in ages, and it brought back so many memories! 

We used to think we were so  cool in 6th grade when we were finally allowed to walk there all alone after school on Friday's. All .25 miles. FREEDOM! 




Nanny and I were both upset that they were out of Heath Bar but I went with Mint Oreo and Chocolate Pretzel with granola (?) on top. A definitely strange combo but you're talking to the girl who used to insist on ice cream cakes that were half mint half strawberry - so, whatever. 

When I got home, I set to work on cleaning out my childhood bedroom. 

I knew my parents would like me to straighten up, organize, and get rid of some things. Obviously, if I'm been living without it for 3 years (7 if you count college), then I don't really need it. 




Surprisingly, I was very productive and filled a bunch of bags with things I could donate or toss. The biggest struggle was figuring out what to do with CD's like Brittany Spears and Backstreet Boys. So sentimental! Will I one day what to pop them in for my kids to give a listen? Or will I just play them on Spotify and Youtube? So odd to think about. 




Saturday morning I woke up and attempted a run - and it was a pain-free success of 3 miles! I felt like I could have kept going but I didn't want to push it. 

Next, Mom and I parked our butts at the beach and soon, Allison joined. 

We followed the beach up with a rum bucket at the yacht club - ahhh, these are summers as they are supposed to be!






I got home and was quite burnt. I did a bunch of nothing, which was nice for a change.  

Sunday morning my parents and I went down to the yacht club for brunch - I ordered the "MYSC Open Face" which was English muffin with bacon, tomato, cheese and...no egg? That seemed super weird to me, so I had them throw an egg on top. Because everything is better with an egg on top. Especially at brunch. 




(Can you just LOOK at these prices? Not in Manhattan anymore)




After brunch I sat around the beach some more with Emma and Allison and it was so nice to catch up with everyone. We all have such REAL LIVES NOW and it's weird sometimes to think about - we used to do this every day, all summer long, and now it took an entire summer for us to finally find a day we could all lay on that rocky beach and gossip together. Sigh. 

Sadly - all too soon it was time to get back on a train and head home. 

This week was pretty uneventful. 

I find myself settling back into a more standard routine, which I suppose it a good thing. I work Monday and Wednesday nights at the running store and I hope to start reviewing some off-Broadway shows again soon on Tuesday nights. 

The highlight of this week was my first BLUE APRON experience, which I will write up shortly! 

Another highlight was Roots Hummus sending me a lovely little package to thank me for the kind words I had to say about them! A koozie, cooler, sticker, and some coupons! Awesome :) 

And there you have it - am I actually caught up?! Indeed. 

Today I head out to Long Island for a Labor Day weekend spent doing ALL OF MY FAVORITE THINGS and my favorite person will be along for the ride. Monday morning I leave at 4:30 AM (EW!!!) for a work trip to Toronto. 

Maybe the fall weather hasn't quite arrive yet, but the feeling that the crazy days of summer have come to a close has certainly arrived for me. And to be honest, the change of pace to more laid back and structured is actually pretty welcomed.