Fitness

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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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