Week In Review

A Weekend to Remember

This was supposed to go live last Wednesday - it did not. Here you go!

Thursday through Sunday of last week were 4 days of straight up, “someone pinch me is this my life?” perfection. What made them so special was the person by my side for 96 hours straight and the fact that when it came time to say goodbye on Monday morning, I happily would have spent another 96 with him.


Thursday night was rainy and cold but that didn’t stop Melissa and I from standing on the sidewalk for 5 minutes waiting to capture a video of the most epic billboard – a runner that flashes between saying “I Hate Running” and “I Love Running.” Truth in advertising.

After wandering around for a while, we got a table at one of the 123190 Irish pubs around Penn Station where you can get a cheap drink and awful food. John Sullivan’s fit this mold perfectly. $6 pinot and a grilled salmon burger fresh out the freezer section of Costco. Melissa, Peter and I had a few drinks, caught up and then Peter and I walked over to MSG for BILLY JOEL!

The incredible thing about Billy Joel is that he’s now played 23 concerts at Madison Square Garden and people are still flocking to see him. Plus, he could legitimately play 23 different concerts because his library of music is so vast.


  • Every second.

Ok, for real, some of my favorite moments were:

  • Billy dedicated “The Entertainer” to Donald Trump
  • Showing off my talent of singing every word to “We Didn’t Start the Fire”
  • Peter somehow recognizing the intro to the intro to the intro of “New York State of Mind” 
  • Being able to record a video of the line, “And the microphone smells like a beer” to send to my dad
  • Going to the bathroom and thinking, “Holy shit, that’s THE Billy Joel singing that I hear through the door as I pee right now!!”
  • Peter spinning and swinging me around the suite during “Only the Good Die Young.” I felt like I was in a movie with my handsome man as we sang and laughed and spun and then he gave me a dip to close out the night.

If you are a Billy Joel fan, I can’t say enough about his concert. The rest of the weekend I think Peter and I brought it up to everyone at least 10 times. “Did you know we saw Billy Joel on Thursday?” Everyone probably wanted to smack us but it really was even better than I could have hoped it would be.

Thursday night we got back to Peter’s parent’s house around 1 a.m. and immediately fell into bed.


6 a.m. wake-up and a quick stop at the bagel store before hitting the road. We hit some traffic early on, but then it was smooth sailing (minus the multiple stops to fuel Peter’s caffeine addiction and to accommodate my pea-sized bladder).

I had a sudden craving for hot chocolate and on Peter's next Dunkin Donuts stop I got myself a cup. It really hit the spot. Although now I need to try their new salted caramel, mint and s’mores flavors. You know, for comparison’s sake.

We made good time and made it to State College in Happy Valley (for a while I thought these were two made up names…) around 11:30 a.m. Edit: Happy Valley IS a made up name We couldn’t get into the house until around 2 so I looked at Peter and said, “Nap in the car time?” “Lunch time?”

“I thought we could go for a run around campus,” Peter said.

This is why I love him even though later that night he would tell me I looked like a little boy in my flannel shirt.

So I got the sleepy thoughts out of my head and we parked the car and stepped out into the brisk Pennsylvania afternoon. It was so great going for a run around the campus with Peter reminiscing and pointing things out to me. It was hilly, but I felt surprisingly good and was also running naked (aka no GPS watch, duh). The sun was shining despite the cold and we ran 5 miles at around an 8:30 pace. After sitting in the car for 6 hours, it felt great and woke me up much more than a nap would have.

Immediately following our run we went to The Berkey Creamery! It’s right on the campus and part of their food sciences college and it was my first visit to this Penn State institution. We split a cup of chocolate chip cookie dough and drove around campus taking some pictures, climbing some steel sculptures, ya know.

We Are Penn State

Next was my first ever shopping trip to WEGMANS! I had extremely high hopes and as we walked in I was greeted by a Gala Apple Cider free sample. I bought some Nature’s Path granola, not because I needed it, but because the cost was like 50% of the price in NYC.

Things I was impressed with at Wegmans:
-Bakery Section (I’m lookin’ at you, free sample of cranberry bread topped with brie)
-Beer section
-Grind your own CHOCOLATE peanut butter

If I had to pick three foods I eat almost every day, it would be peanut butter, bananas and baby carrots. 

If I had to pick three foods I eat almost every day, it would be peanut butter, bananas and baby carrots. 

I wouldn’t say I am a Wegmans addict, but it was definitely fun getting to go to one!

Finally it was time to check out or home for the weekend – and dayum we were living in style! For the past two years Peter and his friends have rented this gorgeous house a quick drive from campus and it was awesome!

We showered and took a “quick nap.” Peter told me to set an alarm but I said I didn’t need one…next thing we knew it was 5 p.m.

A trip to Mad Mex for the infamous GOBBLERITO was in order.

What the Heck Is In A Gobblerito?
-Mashed Potatoes
-Black Beans
-Topped with gravy
-Side of cranberry sauce

Gobblerito at Mad Mex

When this burrito arrived it resembled a small child. We ate every last bite and each drank a frozen margarita that probably contains more calories than one should consume in a day. Mango for me and Pumpkin Spice (yes, a pumpkin spice margarita) for Peter.

We left Mad Mex and walked around some shops for a little bit. I was tempted to buy ALL THE THINGS because Nike and UnderArmour make Penn State’s apparel but I had to keep reminding myself, “She doesn’t even go here!”

Wannabe Nittany Lion!

Wannabe Nittany Lion!

When we got back to the house, almost everyone had arrived and we had a few beers while I got introduced to the gang and went to bed early.


Our alarms went off throughout the house a 5:30 a.m.

This was no joke people.

Tailgating at Penn State is SERIOUS business.

We drank coffee, we packed the 3 trucks, we stopped at Dunkin for 2 dozen donuts, and drove to the tailgating fields.

Penn State Tailgating at Beaver Stadium

I was unprepared for just how many people tailgate here. Fields upon fields of cars. I will never forget the following image:

We pulled into our spot and I looked at the pick-up truck in front of us. As the car was pulling into its spray painted space, 6 guys were leaping out of the flat bed and doors, whipping things out left and right and before I could blink a canopy was going up.

I laughed and said it looked like a hummer had just rolled into battle. Then I got out of the car and saw that the exact same thing was going on with our group.

No joke within 5 minutes -  4 coolers were lined up, 2 tables were filled with food, a grill was warming up, corn hole was out, the speakers were on, the lawn chairs were set up. It was a spectacular demonstration.

It was also 7:15 a.m.

We all started with a glorious warm rum cider accompanied by donuts, bagels with cream cheese and lox, breakfast burritos with bacon and hash browns, and homemade pumpkin chocolate chip bread toasted on the grill.

The next 5 hours passed so ridiculously fast I can’t even fathom it.

I learned what the stump game is and was pleasantly surprised by how clean the portapotties were. I was cold, but not frozen. I ate everything in sight. I whipped out these amazing 50 cent football hats I found at Good Will.

We made a lot of "Hey Arnold!" references. 

We made a lot of "Hey Arnold!" references. 

And then it was time to go into Beaver Stadium for the Penn State/Michigan game.

It was a white out game and inside the stadium looked soo awesome. The sun was shining on us the whole time and although Penn State lost, it was a good game and I got to experience a touch down!

Apparently it’s a tradition at Penn State that for each point, the guys in the student section toss a girl up into the air. So when Penn State got a touchdown, Peter hoisted me up.

Other Random Things:

  • The women’s bathroom line was like 10X shorter than the men’s.
  • There were snipers on the roof.

Instead of sitting in traffic for a million years after the game, we headed back to our “camp” and tailgated for another 2 hours. Peter was grill master, cooking up 32 cheeseburgers.

When we eventually got home, 15 of us spent the night dozing in and out of naps, eating pizza, and eventually, falling asleep before 11 p.m.


We woke up fairly early after a full night’s sleep and I quickly abandoned my, “Maybe I’ll got for a run…” idea in favor of being a lazy Sunday bum.

We cleaned up the house, packed the car, and waved goodbye.

Breakfast was at Peter’s all-time favorite, the Waffle Shop. We had stopped here on our way home from the Pittsburgh Marathon so I knew it was great, but I wasn’t prepared for the HUGE line winding its way around the front of the restaurant.

It went quickly, and we feasted on French toast and the “Nest Egg” – potatoes covered with veggies, cheddar cheese and a friend egg.

Then we walked around town a little bit, checked out some stores, and made one last stop at The Creamery. We each got our own this time – since we had successfully expanded our stomachs throughout the weekend. I picked the Peanut Butter Marshmallow and OMG it was so sweet and creamy and amazing.

The trip home went super quickly – we made wonderful time AND saw the most amazing sunset as we drove through the city.

We decided to stay the night at Peter’s family’s house and enjoyed a nice dinner with them (and delicious, fudgy brownies) before an early bed time.

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT a wonderful 4 days.

It was so nice getting to meet Peter’s friends and hearing all his memories from his time at Penn State. It’s such a beautiful campus and I loved walking around! And this is how big my smile has been every time I think about it. 

Six Sunday Links and a Trip to Long Island

This week's Six Sunday Links again come to you on Monday because this weekend I went home to Long Island and was way too busy eating and sleeping to blog. 

Fall Long Island

Friday night I went out with my parents and sister for dinner at Orto, a restaurant in our town that's been around awhile but I've never been to. 

The menu was FULL of things I would have loved to try. But alas, decisions had to be made. We ordered the sun dried tomato tapenade to go along with our bread - perfectly doughy with a crispy crust. 

We split two appetizers - a mix of different seafood in a creamy lemon sauce and the butternut squash ravioli which was so rich, savory and perfectly al dente. The spinach served with the ravioli was clearly fresh and cooked perfectly to maintain it's flavor. 

I ordered the skate entree - served with pureed cauliflower, bok choy, walnuts and a brown butter sauce. The skate was crispy but a little on the salty side and the cauliflower puree was delectable. 

For dessert, we ordered the donuts - obviously. They weren't stellar, but that didn't stop us from eating them. 

Orto is definitely worth a trip if you're out on the Island - they have affordable prixe fix menus and allow you to bring your own bottles of wine - though they have a full bar. There's something on the menu for everyone! 

Saturday morning I woke up for a run. Ideally, I was aiming for 10  miles to feel confident going into the Decker Half Challenge in Austin. But, my shin has been bothering me and I hadn't run in an entire week - so as I left I told my dad I would probably be gone for around 4-6 miles. My first mile was 8:20 and my shin wasn't bothering me so I sped up, going to 8:12 and then 8:00. 

Can anyone explain to me how an 8:00 mile can feel really hard, and then suddenly, I'm running 7:45s and feel 10X better? It's like the curse of the first 3 miles - always so torturous! 

Sadly, the great feeling of that 4th mile didn't last and soon I was seriously struggling. At mile 6 my IT band started to act up and I stopped at Starbucks to use the bathroom and feel bad for myself. I still had at least 2 miles to home and I wasn't going to reach my 10 mile goal. 

All week I had been feeling tired and unmotivated - it's not like me to just say, "Meh. This sucks, I'm stopping." But that's what I did last Thursday when my alarm went off and I skipped the gym. And when I again skipped the gym during my lunch break. And again when I didn't go to the gym after work. And that's what I did when 6 miles felt hard. I mentally checked out and threw in the towel. 

Although this time, my IT band was seriously telling me to stop. I jogged another mile to get closer to home, called my sister, and had her pick me up. 

I did some crafts during the afternoon, read my book (All The Light We Cannot See - go get it, NOW!), attempted to figure out how to use my GoPro and watched the sunset at my beach. 

Long Island Sunset

That night, my grandparents came over for a delicious meal cooked by my talented father. Artichoke bottoms stuffed with escargot as an appetizer and pasta with shrimp, scallops and peas for dinner. I'm so spoiled! 

And of course, Nanny bought SNICKERS BLASTED ICE CREAM for dessert. 5 of us managed to kill a quart of ice cream. 

Sunday morning I woke up lazily, met a friend for coffee, browsed at Marshall's (need cute black booties, help!) and devoured a bacon egg and cheese on an egg everything bagel. 

Long Island Bagels

I took a nice nap on the couch before it was time to take the train home, grocery shop, and get ready for the week. 

Playing with my GoPro on the LIRR.

Playing with my GoPro on the LIRR.

Alright, alright, enough about my weekend.  Here are the links: 

1. Woman With Terminal Illness Runs Her Last Marathon 

I definitely didn't make it through this article without crying. 

2. Why Writers Run

I can definitely relate to this article! And it also makes me want to take my writing more seriously. I say all the time I'm going to write a book one day - but yet, I never get myself to sit down and start it! 

3. Alanis Morisette Updates 'Ironic' Lyrics

I thought this was HYSTERICAL. 

4. I Am Not Black. You Are Not White. 


5. The New Cool Girl Trap

I thought this was very interesting. 

When J-Law speaks out against the Hollywood pay gap and says, “I’m over trying to find the ‘adorable’ way to state my opinion and still be likable! Fuck that,” she is both giving the middle finger to the establishment, and also performing a different kind of likability.

6. Dad Shaves Beard, Scares Baby

This killed me. So cruel but so hysterical. Parenting goals.

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:



Sundried Tomatoes

Plum Tomatoes




Chick Peas



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:


Just The Elevator Pitch 

The Real Life RD

In It For the Long Run 

Any other favorite blogs I should check out? 

Weekly Mileage 22!

Let's do a recap of last week shall we? It's not a novel for once - things are settling into more of a routine and I can't say I mind!

Monday - Kayla Itsine's leg day and closing shift at the running store. 

Tuesday - Kayla Itsine's arm and ab day, a few extra arm exercises and a little night time yoga session. 

Wednesday - Double session at November Project for a total of 6.5 miles! Beautiful sunrise and RING POPS to celebrate the wonderful

Ali on The Run

's last workout as a Feyonce! Another closing shift at the running store. 

Thursday - Kayla Itsine's abs and cardio + 75 lengths of the pool after work! My most substantial swim yet! And then - Avenue Q for Peter's birthday! I think seeing it now was even better than the first time, when I was still in high school. So funny, and such a great concept with the puppets. On my way to getting Peter hooked on Broadway...hopefully! 

(Worst part of seeing a show? Dealing with this place.)

Friday - We woke up bright and early for the 7 mile run to Brooklyn Bridge Park! The sunrise and view were unbeatable and I spent the hour taking pictures instead of working out. So damn pretty! 

Saturday - I ran 5 miles total - to the running store and back - for a really interesting/exciting staff meeting in between. New York Running Company + JackRabbit Sports plus


Running Company's across the country are now "


." A new and improved website is just the start of the exciting changes to come. 

When I got home I showered and made a smoothie and avocado toast. The avocado toast came out pretty damn delicious if I do say so myself! 

{Avocado + Olive Oil + Sea Salt + Chili Pepper + Sunflower Seeds}

The next 8+ hours were spent waiting in line for Global Citizen's Festival, waiting in line for the bathroom at Global Citizen's Festival, and finally, falling in love with Beyonce. 


Sunday I went to Lululemon yoga and slept through the swim I had planned. Oh well! 

Later in the day Peter and I got some a pumpkin beer to celebrate fall and the one year anniversary of the day we met - aww! 

In total last week I ran 22 miles! My legs are feeling pretty tired though - so I think I'll dial it back a little bit this week before trying to go for a weekly total of 25. 

Happy Monday! 

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. 

(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. 

Toronto, Eh?

Last week I hopped over to Toronto for a quick work trip - and a visit to the newest November Project tribe! 

Tina and I ran the 3.5 miles from our hotel to Casa Loma and as soon as I saw the stairs I'm pretty sure I cursed.  110 of them! 

Everyone was super welcoming, and Sam and Claire led a team relay-style workout. Each team went through a series of exercises while rotating through and sending one runner to go down the stairs and up a hill around Casa Loma. The hill was no joke, and the view at the top was beautiful! Bummer I failed at getting a picture. 

I felt pretty good, and was going to run the 3.5 miles back to the hotel, but then it started drizzling, I didn't want to push it, and Tina was getting a cab soooo - I opted for the cab option. 

I was a lazy foodie this trip - I had done some research but just had no energy to actually follow through and get to any of the restaurants I had read about. 

The first night I found some take out falafel and froyo and ate it in my hotel room. 

The second night we went to Canyon Creek for dinner - and I had a tasty salad. 

The third night I spend way too long walking around and taking pictures of the sunset and then when I was starving for dinner, all the fast-casual takeaway places were closed, so I plopped down at a British Pub across the street from my hotel. 

Feeling like I had wasted away an opportunity to explore the culinary offerings of Toronto, I tried to make amends by ordering poutine and a beer flight of local beers. AND a wrap. Because why not? 

My favorite of the beers was the Barking Squirrel. I also tried the Steam Whistle, Brickworks Ciderhouse Cider, andddd two more that I can't remember. 

I also DID enjoy a Tim Horton's maple donut, All Dressed chips and maple popcorn too.

Other things to note about Canada:
-They are obsessed with the credit card chip reader and I felt like they all hated me because you need to swipe my card.

-It's weird that they bring the card machine over to the table at restaurants and then stand there as you fill out the tip.

-They have lots of weird potato chip flavors like All Dressed, Ketchup and Dill Pickle! And Poutine!

-They have lots of British candy like Mars Bars and Aero Bars. 

While I didn't have much energy for exploring I did manage to find the energy for 2 Kayla Itsines circuits, an NP workout, and a swim in the lap pool! 

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. 

Summer Weekends Wind Down

On Friday, after losing my cell phone, I treated myself to a later lunch/early dinner at a place that has long held a top spot on my bucket list - Jack's Wife Freda. 

I knew the chances of having the patience to wait in line for a table on a hungry Saturday or Sunday morning were slim to none - so I figured going at 3:00 p.m. on a random Friday would be a better bet. 

I left the office and made my way to their new location on Carmine Street (just around the corner from my old apartment!) To my surprise, they place was FILLED with people eating linner (lunch + dinner, duh). Every table was filled, but as it was just me myself and I, I was was able to grab a table at the bar. 

The restaurant was very chi and trendy looking - light colors made it seem open and airy despite being jam packed. 

What Jack's Wife Freda is known for are their brunch and breakfast dishes, although they do have some tempting sounding lunch and dinner entrees like the mustard seed crusted tofu served with spaghetti squash. 

My runner up dish was the Green Shakshuka (2 baked eggs in a green shakshuka served with challah toast), but I had just made it for myself the week before. Mashed pea and ricotta toast was tempting too. But ultimately, I decided to go with the Mediterranean Breakfast - a wonderful mix of 2 eggs (over medium), chopped salad (cucumber, tomato, onions), labne (Greek yogurt that is incredibly thick, rich and creamy), avocado and pita bread. 

I was incredibly saddened by the fact that I could only photograph this beautiful meal with an iPhone 4 camera - doesn't do it justice! I'm also kicking myself for not poking that yolk for a pop of yellow in the composition. No seriously, what was I thinking?

The chopped salad and labne were both excellent, and I loved loading everything up on the pita bread to make little sandwiches.  But at the end of the day, this meal wasn't anything incredible, and I'm not sure I understand the hype surrounded Jack's Wife Freda - aside from the fact that it's trendy and on Instagram a lot. 

After my meal, I walked around SoHo, taking in all of the stores where I will likely never afford to shop. 

I stopped at REI to check out bikes and cycling shoes, where I asked a bajillion questions and made it incredibly obvious that I was not a cyclist. Hopefully one of these days though! I didn't end up buying anything - but I did feel a lot more educated on the shoe-front. 

That Friday night I did a whole lot of nothin' - which was fine by me! I've started watching, and loving, Orange is the New Black, so it was me, my couch and Crazy Eyes for the night. 

Has anyone seen these advertisements around the city? I think they are hilarious and really clever. 

Saturday morning Peter was up and out early to run a 5K in Harlem. I was a bad girlfriend and didn't go to cheer - instead, I went to the gym for 2 hours. Might sound weird, but I love spending my mornings playing in the gym. 

And by playing I mean doing a shoulder/back workout, a couple minutes of spinning and a swim. 

Afterwards, I did some grocery shopping and went home to make myself a big delicious smoothie.  Well, it was big, and it was filling - but maybe I wouldn't use the term delicious. I thought skipping the step of brewing the coffee first and just throwing in the ground coffee beans would be an OK decision. It really wasn't. 

But anyway - besides for the bitter and crunchy factors - the flavor was pretty good! I'll definitely have to work on perfecting this as a post-exercise smoothie. 

1 Banana
1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 tablespoon of coffee (mistake)
1 tablespoon of cacao powder
1 teaspoon of almond extract (MMM - new purchase)
1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed

I drank my smoothie on my way to Peter's apartment and decided he deserved a present for running the race that morning. So I stopped at the super German bakery on his corner, which I've heard has the best black and white cookies. Glaser's is a family-run business that's been closed a lot this summer as the owners traveled. 

Glaser's has been around since 1902. Crazy! 

Immediately upon entering, the two women working introduced themselves, gave each customer a GIANT smile, and were super helpful. 

I brought the giant, soft black and white cookie over to Peter's and it was most certainly enjoyed. The frosting was soo good and the cookie was crumbly but in a really moist, soft way. 

We headed down to 59th Street to pick up our vehicles for the day - CITI BIKES! Initially, we wanted to rent nice bikes from a store or Bike & Roll, but I guess a ton of people had the same idea as us because the store we called was completely out of bikes. Then we decided Citi bikes could be a good idea since we could check them into places as we went - stopping for food and drinks and ice cream along the way. 

For just $11ish dollars for each bike, it was a great deal! We spent the whole day with them - about 4 hours total. Checking them into Citi bike stations every 30 minutes was a little stressful, and we cut it super close sometimes - but we never got charged any late fees (and they're only $4 each time, anyway). 

We started off on actual streets which freaked me out, but soon enough we were on the East River path cruising along. The bikes were a lot nicer than I thought they would be, and I could adjust the seat nice and low since I'm a midget. 

Our first stop was Southstreet Seaport, where Peter tried a delicious Blue Cheese and Bacon sandwich from Melt Shop and a beer. And coffee (he assures me he can quit any time...) 

It was such a beautifulllll day - we went all along the island, down near the ferry to Governor's Island, past the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. I tried soaking it all in through my eyeballs instead of through my cell phone camera. 

We peeled off just before Chelsea Piers and headed to the Meatpacking district to enjoy a margarita at Dos Caminos outside in the sunshine. 

Their menu had so many tempting margarita options, but after much back and forth, I settled for a classic. 

Of course we couldn't sit there with no guacamole in front of us. We ordered the Orange Chipotle Guacamole. I wish that the orange had come mixed throughout the guac, instead of a few pieces on top - because when you took a bite with that fresh pop of citrus, it was wonderful. Sadly, we asked for medium and there's wasn't much (ok, any) kick to it. But I did love that it came served with chips and as a healthy option, cucumber slices! 

I guess the margaritas had their share of alcohol in them, because while my intention for the day was to start a streak of no alcohol, healthy eating, and being active, I found myself suggesting a second margarita at Bamboleo's - my favorite place in the West Village. 

So we hopped on our bikes and went over to Bleecker Street. We enjoyed a strong $5 margarita, made some friends at the bar, and decided we needed ice cream. 

So the next stop was Big Gay Ice Cream Shop (you can see how my resolution to not drink and to eat healthy ended up going...) Peter got a Monday Sundae which I took my fair share of while sitting on a stoop. Some guy  passed us and told us what a cute couple we are. D'awww. 

If you're wondering - the Monday Sundae is a Nutella lined cone filled with twist soft-serve ice cream, dulce de leche, sea salt and whipped cream. 

What did I suggest then? Beer pong. I wanted to play beer pong.

Luckily, my partner in crime agreed that beer pong should totally happen. 

We tried Down the Hatch but it was still dead. Same for 3 Sheets. Luckily, Off The Wagon had a little more going on. We sat at the bar to order a beer and were handed Fireball Shots. 

Ok. This day just kept veering wildly off course. But we went with it. 

Eventually we played some beer pong but I was just doing horribly. 

Time for more ice cream? Sure. 

Have you heard of 10 Below ice cream in China Town? It's all the rage on Instagram these days. There's usually an hour long line! The draw? They make ice cream "Thai Style" by using an extremely cold stone to scrape ice cream off into little rolls. 

Well, we just happened to notice a new shop on Macdougal Street called I CE NY that makes these same Thai ice cream rolls with NO line. And I've since heard some people saying it's even better than 10 Below! I wasn't expecting to be impressed with this kind of ice cream, but Peter and I found ourselves loving it! It was much creamier than we thought it would be which was a pleasant surprise. The fact that you get to watch them make it is a nice touch too! 

We got the vanilla ice cream with oreo mixed in and whipped cream and caramel on top. Definitely worth a try to see how you feel about this new craze! But I would check out I CE NY and skip the hour line! 

You would think I had strayed from my healthy active biking day enough to call it quits and head home. Nope. 

Next up was live music at the Red Lion and one final indulgence - a $1 slice from my all-time favorite pizza place -  Percy's! 

THEN we called it a night. 

Sunday I woke up and went to yoga at Lulu Lemon and then did a whole lot of lounging around, watching Orange is the New Black and cooking! I made myself a frittata for the week - 4 eggs, spinach, mushrooms, sweet potato, onions and a little cheese. It was good, except that I sauteed the veggies in coconut oil and I'm not too sure I loved that taste mixed with my eggs. 

I also realized that I had a pie crust in the fridge that needed to be used up - so I looked around and pondered what the heck I could throw together using ingredients I already had in my apartment. I came up with - SWEET POTATO PIE. 

Of course, I wanted to make this healthier than the butter, flour, oil - packed recipes I was finding. 

I made mine loosely based off of this receipt - but I only had 1.5 sweet potatoes so I guestimated the amounts...

3 Tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 sweet potatoes, cooked
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon

The best part was using the Kitchenaid for the first time! It's so nice!

I added some walnuts to the top of this, and voila! It was actually super tasty. Even Peter and my mom agreed! 

This was one of the few weekends I spent entirely in NYC with no big plans and it ending up being perfect and lots of fun. 

One of Those Weeks (And A Wedding)

My first week back wasn't jam-packed - and it's a good thing. 

It was "One of those weeks." 

You know, ladies. The week before, "the week." 

When everything was horribly tragic. Or I was just incredibly dramatic. 

I didn't feel like doing anything. Nope. Nothin'. 

But Tuesday night, Peter and I had Restaurant Week reservations at Fogo de Chao. Usually a $60 "All-You-Can-Eat Affair," we dined AYCE style at this Brazilian churrascaria for just $38! The menu was slightly limited for those partaking in the Restaurant Week special, meaning that Peter couldn't get chicken hearts (true story, he wanted those) or the filet, but there was still a masssssive amount of food to try. 

Almost immediately upon putting our things at the table, we made our way to the massive salad bar. I could have happily eaten from the salad bar all night, but every time I went to reach for the tongs, Peter would say something like, "You are NOT going to fill up on KALE are you?" "Really, you eat carrots every day!" Ugh, fine. I managed to keep the salad to a minimum - though I ended up going back for seconds of the apple, celery and raisin salad which was delicious. I also had some lox and beets and mushrooms, along with a bunch of other stuff I can't remember. 

The way a churrascaria works is you get a little piece of cardboard that looks like a coaster. One side is red and one side is green. Once you flip your coaster to the green side, it's GAME ON and the servers will come to your table offering you slices of meat off of their giant skewers. 

They also brought out some sides. Mashed potatoes with cheese that we didn't touch because there was no way they were good enough to take up room in our stomachs, fried polenta sticks (yum), friend plantains (like a little side of dessert while you eat your dinner), and...Pao de Queijo. Those delicious little cheesy balls that I was first introduced to when my roommate made them and again at my birthday brunch. I had read on a Yelp review that they reminder one reviewer of Goldfish and as soon as I bit into it, I had a Eureka! moment. Just like Goldfish - except doughy, moist and warm. Again, I awkwardly smuggled some out in my bag - because now it's just a tradition. 

The meat started coming and we eventually sampled each and every kind. As they come over to slice, you take your little tongs and help them get the cut of meat onto your plate. Peter kept forgetting about the tongs and just grabbing meat with his fork because he's just TOO AUTHENTIC BRAZILIAN. 

No shock, I loved the sausage. The lamb was good too. But Peter and I both agreed that the bacon wrapped chicken was THE BEST. It was soo juicy. I liked the flavor of the parmesan encrusted pork, but it was a little dry. There were also ribs and sirloin. And something in a really good garlicky marinade. 

This was by far the most meat I've eaten in probably over a year. So by the end of the meal I was sickeningly full and ready to never eat meat ever again. I also never wanted to eat ANYTHING ever again because I was so full that it hurt. 

But that didn't stop me from eating my slice of key lime pie that came with our Restaurant Week deal. Oooof. Ouch.

Friday Peter and I met after work for a margarita before dinner with his two friends from Oregon. After that, we went to his work happy hour/bowling event where he beat everyone at throwing a ball ball as hard and fast as he could, breaking the speedometer without really even trying. Boys. 

The night went much later than anticipated, and we were up and out early the next morning to take a bus to Binghamton for a party at my friend Curly's house. 

This wasn't just any party. 

This was Jeff & Sarah's Wedding! 

For those of you a little confused by the pictures from that weekend - no, it wasn't a real wedding. No, Jeff & Sarah aren't a real couple. In fact, Jeff and Sarah aren't even the names of two people that we know.  We have just been complaining for awhile now that none of our friends are getting married and we wanted to dress up and celebrate. 

I'd say this party was wonderful. We got to wear fancy things, there was a tent, a taco bar, a real life wedding cake with a unicorn topper, lots of alcohol, lawn games like a giant jenga, and drinking games like beer pong and flip cup. 

Plus, it was the first time I had seen so many of my fellow Bobcats in SUCH a long time!

(They groan every time I make them take this picture but then when it goes up on Facebook YOU ALL LIKE IT DON'T LIE)

Because it was "one of those weeks," I had been dragging my feet about going. But I am so glad I did! 

When we got back to the city on Sunday, we used a Groupon we have been hoarding for awhile to a Mediterranean restaurant on the Upper East Side - Anatolia Mediterranean Cuisine

The servers were super attentive, and we got to sit outside with a glass of wine and some food that transported me back to my days on Paros Island. 

(Paros, Greece - not the Upper East Side)

Everything was good - not great, but good. We had Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), cheese pie (filo dough with feta, how can you go wrong?) and then we split the Turlu- vegetable casserole and lamb sautee (served with tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers onions, garlic and rice pilaf). 

The veggie casserole was full of deliciousness - okra, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant onions, zucchini, string beans and a side of rice pilaf (white rice with chickpeas!) 

We mixed up all the leftovers which I ate for dinner later in the week. 

For dessert, I was beyond excited for Baklava and it didn't disappoint! 

(Though nothing will ever compare to this!) 

Just so ya know, Anatolia is BYOB - they serve wine as well. 

Wolman's in the Hamptons

The last day of July meant my first day of FAMILY VACATION. 

I took the train home Friday after work, got dressed, and left with my parents for the restaurant where we were throwing my Nanny a surprise birthday party. 

Slowly, our big happy family filled the private room and we waited for Uncle Greg to show up with the birthday girl. Sitting in a room whose walls were giant floor to ceiling windows, we tried our best to turn away so Nanny didn't see us as she made her way inside. 

I wish the pictures came out better - but I think it's safe to say she was surprised! Maybe even a little teary, seeing a room filled with all of her favorite people (we're all your favorites, right Nanny?!) 

Behind Nanny and Poppy were Uncle Greg and Aunt Christine, who I hadn't seen since Thanksgiving, and THESE two little munchkins. 

Despite living in South Carolina, my aunt and uncle have raised Julia and Claire to know all of their east coast aunts, uncles and cousins wonderfully. I don't know who was more excited - us, or them. 

Our prix-fixe dinner was tasty - my sister and I split the eggplant Parmesan and fish entrees.

Given my choice of desserts, I will rarely pick cake. But given a piece of cake, I will always eat cake. And the cake was actually delicious. 

When my Poppy got up to give a little toast to Nanny, it was so so sweet. I could not be more grateful and appreciative of the love I grew up surrounded by. Not only did my grandparents and parents love for ME allow me to feel happy and secure, but their love for EACH OTHER has shown me that no matter what life throws at you, no matter how stressful it can get - if you are with the right person you can always find reasons to laugh and smile. 

Being surrounded by my family made me SO ready for a week spent with them in Hampton Bays.

(Gangs (almost) all here - and we've got a selfie stick...uh-oh!)

Saturday I attempted a run, which, shockingly, was a pain-free 3 miles. Those 3 miles were more of a jog than a run, but it was the first time that I wasn't limping a mile into it, so I was a pretty happy camper. 

I convinced my mom to drive 20 minutes to the nearest Trader Joe's so I could get some "me" food for the week -long vacation. Sandwich thins, chocolate covered almonds, garlic aioli mustard sauce - you know, the essentials. She also had to return something at Macy's next door so that's the real reason we made the trip. And I was excited because I was given permission by master-chef Mitch to make the three of us dinner that night! A healthy dinner!

And a delicious dinner, if I do say so myself. Mom and Dad both seemed to agree, and I know they would be honest with me if it was sub-par. 

I made a quinoa salad with edamame, mango and black beans along with salmon brushed with sauce made by mixing olive oil with the garlic aioli mustard sauce (again, credit to Kayla!) 

Dad made mom and I his version of the "China Blossom" from China Grill, my favorite cocktail, and I soaked in a rare night sitting out on my deck. I've had an eventful, fun summer, but the number of days spent at home on Long Island have been dismally low.

(Remember how I said I had the best role-models for happy marriages? HOW CUTE ARE THEY?!)

Sunday afternoon was the day - we packed up the truck and set out for the Wolman Family Vacation 2015. 

True story - we used to get t-shirts made for the occasion. Then there were the beer koozies. No outfitting this year, though. 

Most summer's, we go on a big family vacation like this. My grandparents rent a house and all 20 of us spend a week swimming, eating, drinking, playing games and boating. There's a lot of conversation around which house is our favorite that we've stayed in, and the consensus seems to be that nothing beats that first house, which we returned to once and try to return to every summer (Camp O-Kwa-Ri-Ga).  Here's a run down of the Wolman Family Vacation spots over the last couple of years: 

1) Camp O-Kwa-Ri-Ga in the Adirondacks (2008 and 2013). Nothing seems to beat the seclusion - meaning lots of late nights at the fire. The main cabin is great for fitting all of us, and there's a smaller cabin perfect for Nanny and Poppy (they deserve to be spoiled!) But the best part is the boat house right down by the lake. There's a dock, which means we can rent a boat and tube and water ski. And there's paddle boats, kayaks, a canoe, a pool table, piano, balcony for jumping into the lake, and shuffleboard table. So many hysterical moments have happened at O-Kwa-Ri-Ga. From ghost stories, to my dad pretending to be a bear and scaring the crap out of my uncle in the middle of the night - this place feels like home, maybe because it was the first time we all did a trip like this. 

2) Maryland Mansion (2009) - This house was definitely fancier than the Adirondacks. But there's no boat house, and sitting down by the water wasn't as easy. The plus was that we could still rent a boat AND drive the boat across the lake to the Honi Honi bar for happy hour (still fun, despite not being 21 at the time). The lake was a lot rougher though, with more boat traffic, which stressed my dad out and made tubing and water skiing a lot less enjoyable. We could make a fire outside though, a definite plus! And, my family will understand the significance of this - it was at the Maryland Mansion that Claudia Ellen was born! 

3) Rhode Island Beach Mansion (2014) - This house was weirdly fancy. But there was the beach a few steps away AND a pool. No nighttime fires, but the outdoor patio was nice. The option of pool or beach was nice. Sadly, I only spent 3 days at this house, because it was my first year working and I had no vacation time. But while I was there, we discovered the plethora of clams at the beach, which my dad naturally dug up with his bare hands and feet, with the help of uncles and cousins, which we feasted on. There was also a great running and biking path nearby, and as I was marathon training and my uncle was training for a 100 mile bike ride, that was clutch. The restaurant we went for dinner at that year was also THE BOMB. 

4) That brings us to 2015. Originally, we were supposed to go to a lake house near Hunter Mountain. But my grandma had a weird feeling, and after going to check it out, it was a big thumbs down. So last minute, her and my aunt managed to find a beautiful house in Hampton Bays for us to spend the week. The best part? It only took us an hour to get there! The quarters were a little more cramped than usual (though there were more bathrooms and showers!) and there were a lot of rules since the Hamptons can be a little hoity-toity - we couldn't be outside after dark which meant no fires. And we were about a 5 minute drive to the ocean, instead of having it in our backyard (wow, I'm sorry I don't mean to sound quite so spoiled there...) but there were so many GREAT things about this house! A huge pool AND a hot tub. A really great town to explore. A new tradition - the Wolman talent show! A basement with air hockey, foosball and pool. We just won't talk about the dining room chairs...

We were the first to arrive and after driving around to check out the beach and nearby bars and restaurants, we pulled into the driveway of this lovely little house. 

(Ok, 8 rooms, maybe not so little!) 

We figure out the rooming situation which worked out quite well for me - since my sister refuses to share a bed with me (SHE's the one who moves around a ton, NOT me...) she had an air mattress, I had a bed to myself, and my parents shared the other. 

Our days during the week went a little something like this: 

-I would wake up around 8 and go for a bike ride on my little cousins bike or into the basement for some deck of cards workouts. One morning I ran with my Mom and aunt, hopeful after my Saturday morning pain-free run, but unfortunately the IT band acted up again and my knee felt like it was being stabbed after 2.5 miles. So running wasn't part of my week, as much as I would have liked it to be. 

(My 10 year old cousin's bike - perfect fit!)

-After working out I would make myself breakfast - lox and a bagel, Greek yogurt with all the fixings, oatmeal, cereal - so much to choose from. And for someone who loves breakfast like no other meal, it was like Christmas every morning. What's the saying? "I love going to be because it's like a time machine to breakfast." Exactly. 

-Spend the day either at the beach (we went to the ocean two days and to the the bay for one day) or by the pool. At the ocean, I didn't get in the water because the waves were big and it wasn't too hot out anyway. 

At the bay, we swam around despite the rocky bottom and shallow water (North Shore Long Islander over here - totally used to the rocks!) At the pool, I attempted to improve upon my horrendous swimming skills, and although I dressed the part, I probably lasted a total of 10 minutes before frustration overcame me. By the end of the week, though, I DID feel I had made a little bit of improvement. 

-Pre-dinner snacking was a wonderful time of day - we broke out bags upon bags of chips and dips and cracked open some brewskis...or even better, my dad made margaritas. One night, the pre-dinner snacking involved clams on the half shell and another night, shrimp cocktail. You wouldn't believe how fast they got scarfed down! 

Another night, my dad made his artichoke dip - cheese, mayo and artichoke hearts. It might sound gross, but it's so addictive, despite the calorie count. 

(Happy hour - whipping our hair back and forth and eating cheese doodles)

-The way dinner works on these trips is each family gets assigned a night and they make the meal. Pretty simple. This year, some meals included - spiral ham with baked beans, brats and pierogies with LOTS of onions, pasta with chicken and vegetables, filet minion with broccoli and baked potato. There's also always a night where we all go out as a big group, and wreak havoc on some poor, unsuspecting restaurant in the area that is totally not accustomed to seeing a group of 22 people walk in. This year, however, my dad and his siblings had graduated high school with the owner of a local bar/restaurant - so we gave him a heads up, got the back room of Gator's to ourselves, and enjoyed a meal out on the town. 

I'm not sure what it was, but I was having horrible heart burn all week - something that I've never experienced before. One night, I got up out of bed with that urgent, "I think I'm going to be sick" feeling - only to see that the bathroom was occupied.  So I hurried downstairs and, I'll spare you the details, but, I was right - I was sick. After awhile I made my way back upstairs. As I entered the bedroom my family was staying in, my mom goes, "Did you see your father?" 

"No, why?" I asked, a little confused. 

"He thinks you're missing. Him and Sam are searching for you."

Dear Lord. 

Eventually they came inside and saw I was alive and well, aside from the vomit. They stopped looking in bushes and at the bottom of the pool for my body, and we all went to sleep. 

-After dinner every night there were different things to do in the basement, my little cousins organized a talent show one night, and we somehow peacefully watched the GOP debate another night. There were games of "What If..." and "Cards Against Humanity," which you're probably thinking, "Isn't that weird to play with your family?" The answer is yes. Yes, it can be a little strange, but it is also always hilarious. 


There were a few special activities as well, like the morning that a group of us went paddle boarding. We were enjoying ourselves, paddling like pros (including my fearless little cousin Kyle), and I was even getting fancy with some downward dog. 


Then, we decided to head back. 


Though the teacher had encouraged us to go even further than we ended up going, as soon as we turned around to make the trip back to the shop, we realized the wind was far stronger than when we first headed out. We paddled to no avail. I couldn't get past one boat for about 20 minutes. Kyle was spinning in circle. Eventually, my mom and I got Kyle situated on my board and she towed this board behind hers. We still weren't making much progress, but with Kyle laying down and using his hands to paddle along with me, we moved a little bit. Then, my mom realized we could stand. So there was some sludging through the water that way. 

They must have realized we were struggling, because we heard yells and looked to the shore to see my uncle and the paddle board shop owner waving us onto the beach.  We were still SO far from the shop, so we walked our boards up and put them in her pick-up truck for a lift back to get our stuff. 

She told us we were doing great, and that even SHE had some problems getting HERSELF in to shore. That made us feel better But we were EXHAUSTED and I was starving. I had planned to go to paddle board yoga the next morning - but, no thanks. 

Another fun night was when we went to Cowfish for happy hour and then took the Rum Barge over to Rumba for dinner. 

Cowfish was one of the most beautiful restaurants I've ever seen. The landscaping and flowers were beautiful, and the view couldn't get much more perfect. There were lawn games and couches and it was such an oasis. I couldn't stop taking pictures! 

We loaded up the Rum Barge and took it across the water to Cowfish's sister restaurant, Rumba, which we heard had the better menu for dinner. The view and outdoor area wasn't as nice, so I was really happy with our decision to do drinks at Cowfish and dinner at Rumba. 

Rumba had it's own style and feel - much more laid back and island-y. The food was KILLER and SO PRETTY. 

Are you ready for these avocado tacos? I don't think you're ready. Rastaman's Taco: paneed avocado, island slaw, corn salsa and rasta cream. 

What does "paneed" mean, you ask. Well, I Googled it so that you don't have to - basically it means bread-crumbed. Fried avocado might sound weird, but I promise you it wasn't. It was very LIGHTLY coated. Almost like a light tempura. The slaw was to die for. Or maybe it was the rasta cream. Either way, I could have eaten 2384932 of these for dinner and not tried anything else and still been happy. 

We also tried the duck empanadas because...I mean, duh. They were good too (greasy, fried good) but those tacos were on a different level. 

For my entree I got the jumbo scallop and papaya salad with avocado, tomatoes and corn. I don't know why I didn't sub the papaya for mango. I know I don't like papaya. And this confirmed it. But everything else about the salad was delicious! 

Mom: Ahi Tuna Salad- mango, avocado, purple onion, sesame seed, filed greens, tuna, "yummy yummy" sauce.

Nanny: Jumbo diver scallops- rum reduction sauce, white beans, capers, rice & mache 

Dad: Shrimp Boat- sage breaded shrimp, remoulade, avocado, lettuce and tomato 

Sam: Jerk Chicken Platter: coconut risotto and mango papaya honey salsa. This stuff was NO JOKE spicy. 

The cocktails were wonderfully refreshing and flavorful and the Hot Fudge Sundae was plain sinful. I've never seen a sundae that comes served with an entire gravy boat of hot fudge to be poured on top. And all of it was poured, trust me. 

After the rum barge got a little stuck in the shallow water, we were on our way back to Cowfish to pick up our cars and head back to the house. 

Watching the sunset was the perfect end to a pretty awesome night. 

Another night my parents, sister and grandparents went for a cocktail at Oakland's where I reestablished my love of prosecco. 

The last night, we again did happy hour and dinner out, this time at The Hampton Lady

Though the service wasn't anything to write home about, and the margaritas left something to be desired - the Mai Tais, crafted by a Hawaiian bartender, were phenomenal and the food was quite good along with the half-price drink happy hour special. Can't complain about that! I ordered the fish tacos and my dad got the lobster, which we split. 2 lobsters with corn and potatoes for $28! My mom got a burger that I was SO close to ordering - bacon, blue cheese, and a grilled shrimp on top! My sister ordered clams on the half shell and the Thai fried-calamari which was quite good! 

After dinner, my parents dropped me off at the train station and it was time to say goodbye. I got pretty emotional - tearing up a little as I watched them drive away. 

I just love how close I am with my family - the fact that I can be genuinely excited about spending 7 days in a house with 22 relatives says a lot - and I know how incredibly #blessed I am. 

Lately, I've been having a little bit of wanderlust. My list of places that I want to see and explore has grown a lot in the past few months. In fact, I used to not even have a list of places I wanted to see and explore. Now, I badly want to go to Iceland. I'm longing for a trip out west to hike and explore National Parks. Denver, Idaho, Yellowstone. I want to do and see it all. But having 10 vacation days means prioritizing. 

I know the day will come when I forego the family vacation to do my own thing. But when, a week after leaving Hampton Bays, my grandma sent me a link to next years house (we return to the Adirondacks!) I just thought to myself, "How can I turn down a week with the people who matter most to me?"

We shall see what happens next summer. But until then, the memories of Hampton Bays will carry me until Christmas, when I get to see everyone again! 

Nanny and Poppy - I know you're reading this, because you are my biggest fans - THANK YOU for making and raising and nurturing this big, crazy, wonderful, beautiful family and for giving us the opportunity to spend time together. 

I wrapped up the weekend with a trip to Target and Costco with Rebecca and Melissa, unpacked, and got ready for another week in the big apple. 

Busy Week

Monday, July 27 was an important day. 

The Bachelorette Finale, obviously. 

Though we all failed at watching the show together on a weekly basis, a bunch of us got together at Melissa's apartment to watch the finale, foam roll, and eat a lot of delicious food. 

More exciting than the finale was the fact that Kaitlin brought us LEVAIN BAKERY COOKIES!

She brought chocolate chocolate chip, peanut butter, and regular chocolate chip. All were amazing, all lived up to the hype, and naturally, I favored the peanut butter cookie. 

Somehow, even though they weren't fresh out of the oven, all the chocolate on the inside of the cookie was moist and melty as if they were still hot. 

Do you know the story behind the cookies? They were created by Constance McDonald and Pamela Weekes while they trained for an Ironman - they needed a way to get a LOT of calories back in their bods. 

Now, we eat this 6 ounce cookie as dessert. 


Tuesday night I got home from work and made a portable dinner for picnic in the park. I LOVE how these Mexican Mason jars turned out! I layered the following: 

Choululah shredded chicken (canned chicken heated up in a skillet with Choululah sauce)
Spicy black bean dip from Trader Joe's
Coconut oil sauteed sweet potato
Sauteed peppers
Corn cut off the cob and seasoned with cilantro and chili 

These delicious jars came with me to Carl Schurz Park where we watched Frozen with all of the children of the Upper East Side. Good thing we brought some wine in a water bottle. 

Wednesday night was my "surprise" date for Peter that he figured out because he gets the damn guitarists newsletter. GRR!

Anyway, months and months ago I had bought us tickets to go see Andy McKee and two other guitarists perform at BB Kings. I was a little nervous that I would be super bored with only guitar music, but it was AMAZING and I loved it. 

(Andy McKee - look him up!)

Before the concert we stopped at Sangria 46 for paella and sangria. While the paella wasn't nearly as good as what we had a Soccarat, it still had some yummy seafood. And the sangria was fabulous as usual. 

Thursday night brought even more activities! Celebrating Jaime's birthday at the Heidelberg! Who knew they had such an adorable outdoor garden in the back?! And who knew a German restaurant would have such great sangria?! 

It was super entertaining watching all of the guys get SO into their game of...THIS. It's super fun, you should give it a try. 

The next day it was time to head home for 10 days of FAMILY :)

I Got My Headstand! Cooked a Lot! Saw GORILLAS.

I'm not entirely sure why I'm so set on writing these boring, tedious "catch-up" posts, but I am determined to see them through - so bear with me. I promise this place will be a little more exciting, with better content and more creative topics sometime in the near(ish) future. 

The week on July 20th was fairly slow - which meant time to whip up some food in the kitchen!

With the cucumbers Peter dad game me from their garden, I made a delicious cucumber salad with Greek yogurt, dill, onions and some apple cider vinegar. 

I'm still mastering the skill of cooking for one (and occasionally 2 when Peter eats at my apartment) so I ended up eating this as a side allllll week long. 

I also put together one of the pre-made salads from Trader Joe's - kale and quinoa with craisins and carrots and other goodies.  To make it more summery, I added my own touch - avocado and grapefruit! 

Probably my favorite creation of the week was a bean salad. I mixed edamame, black beans, sliced plum tomatoes and onions and MANGO with an aioli garlic mustard dressing using this deliciousness from Trader Joe's + lemon juice + olive oil. The dressing credit 100% goes to Kayla, who made it for our salad while we were in Cape Cod. I would serve this over greens and top with avocado for a protein-packed lunch. 

I didn't stop there! I also made a monstrous tub of chia seed pudding (chia seeds + unsweetened vanilla almond milk + honey + cinnamon + walnuts) for breakfast all week and last but not least, CHIA SEED RHUBARB JAM using the rhubarb from the Fetzer garden. 

Making the jam was surprisingly easy - I cut the rhubarb into small pieces, added honey, simmered until it got liquidy, added the chia seeds, stirred a bunch, and VOILA! 

Thursday night was Kayla's birthday and we all went to The Jeffrey to hang out with her and her parents. 

A) The Jeffrey has a really nice outdoor area, an awesome beer selection, and a fun menu. 

B) Both time's I've been, it was pretty packed, so it's not the place to go if you're looking for something low-key. 

C) I had the Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin which was great - a grapefruit flavored beer that isn't 2% alcohol! Hooray! In fact, it's 7% ABV. 

D) Kayla's parents are awesome and it was nice getting to talk to them. 

Friday when I got out of work early I headed to Kayla's for some Dance Mom's watching and some delicious dinner cooking. 

We decided to give "Cauliflower Steaks" a shot - and it actually ended up turning out fabulously! 

We seasoned the cauliflower with an olive oil, cumin, tumeric and ginger sauce and garnished with cilantro. They were delicious! The consistency wasn't exactly steak - but it was substantial. 

Served with our cauliflower steak were zucchini noodles with pesto and quinoa. 

With our extra cauliflower, we roasted the florets with some oregano and nutritional yeast. It was SO delicious! I was shocked at how cheesy it tasted (thanks, nutritional yeast). 

As we cooked and watched Dance Moms we had another important project - juicing a watermelon to make cocktails for that night's festivities. 

We took a cut up watermelon and put the chunks into the blender. Once everything was blended and we had lots of juice, we strained it through a very fine strainer...about 5 times! By the end, we had beautiful, clear, smooth, 100% pure watermelon juice. 

We headed over to Jess's apartment with our cocktail supplies where we played games and chatted with Peter and Melissa.

The cocktail was superb, if we do say so ourselves. We mixed Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka with our fresh watermelon juice, limes, and strawberry watermelon seltzer! 

Around 10:00 we headed out for the night's main event - the anniversary performance of Nacho Bitches at the New York Comedy Club. 

This was my first NYC comedy show and I certainly hope it won't be my last. It was a fun night, with lots of laughs, especially since the four of us sat in the front row and got made fun of quite a lot throughout the different comedians sets. I loved how small and intimate the venue was! 

One of the comedians, Corinne Fisher, is from the podcast "Guys We Fucked" which you should check out if you want a good laugh and a healthy dose of female empowerment. 

Anyway, at the end of the show, Kayla got to take a birthday shot with the hosts, Corrine and Blaire. 

My one complaint? The show promised free nachos, but the nachos provided were L-A-M-E. Tostitos with a side of some sad looking melted cheese. Oh well!

The night ended way later than anticipated, after a stop at Kayla's rooftop, and Peter and I were slow to rise on Saturday morning. 

But when we eventually woke up, we headed to the gym because Peter had promised to give me my first swimming lesson. I was an eager student - with new swimsuit, goggles, ear plugs and bathing cap in hand. 

I jumped into the pool, showed him how I usually swim, and said, "Fix it." 

Trust me, he was probably thinking "Shit." 

My version of swimming isn't much better than a doggy-paddle. As soon as my face goes in the water, let alone my whole head, my chest tightens and I feel extremely anxious. 

But Peter was patient with me, hold me under my stomach while I tried to get the breathing motions down right, explaining proper stroke form with words that I could understand (ohhh, it ends in a tricep extension? K, got it). 

I can't say I had an equal amount of patience. 

Eventually, all of the different things to think about felt way too overwhelming and I told him I needed to stop before I just started getting extremely unpleasant. I knew the next step would be snapping at him, and I didn't want to do that. 

I felt bad that not only had I not gotten any type of real exercise out of the lesson, but Peter spent most of the time helping me instead of swimming his own laps. So after we changed out of our swim suits we played around in one of the studios. He killed me with a deadlift/push-up pyramid workout and we played around a little with squats and clean and presses. 

You have no idea how happy I am to have found someone to spend my Saturday morning "playing" at the gym with. Seriously. 

We finished up with some Peter-led yoga and I finally got up into my headstand all by myself!! 

Though I was desperately ready for a nap, I went back to my apartment and got ready for a long day/night of drinking/celebrating. 

First was Kayla's birthday party at Lucy's Cantina. 

Fun was had by all, especially when we realized that HUMONGOUS beer-garitas were no more expensive than a margarita on the rocks. 

On our way out from Kayla's party we stopped at Penn Plates, an outdoor food vendor area near Penn Station. I was DYING to try the California Earth Mama Salad - with arugula, grilled corn, sunflower seeds, watermelon radish and a ginger and sesame dressing. The pictures I had seen of it on Instagram were SO PRETTY (yes, that's why I wanted to try it). This salad was at the Jicama stand, which I've tried before. While I really wanted the salad with shrimp, $14 for a salad after spending the whole day out was a little steep - so I ordered mine with avocado. 

Turns out, they were out of avocado so he asked if I wanted chicken instead. Free chicken? Sure. 

(This is just the sample - I somehow didn't take a picture of mine. Perhaps it was the giant margaritas...)

Bad decision on my part. Whatever the chicken was seasoned in was SO salty. Not just like "Wow, someone was a little heavy handed on the salt." Burning my throat, completely overpowering everything else, level salty. I was so sad! From what I managed to eat that hadn't been poisoned by the sodium-soaked chicken was good, but overall the salad was pretty much ruined. 


Later that night we went to a going away party for our friend Pete from November Project - deserting us for the West Coast. 

And last, we ended up back at Jaime's apartment to say goodnight to the birthday gal. 

Though the weekend had already been rather eventful, Sunday had more fun in store. 

Peter and I went to the BRONX ZOO and it was so much fun. We walked a TON but it was a gorgeous day and there were so many great moments. 

Like the gorillas, DUH. There were little BABIES and one sitting so so close to us and I was melting and loving every second and Peter had to literally be like, "OK Lauren, it's time to go." Noooo, just let me sit here with the gorillas forever!! 

The sea lions were going CRAY when we got to them. We realized it was because their feeding time was coming up, and they definitely knew it. That's crazy to me, they're so smart! 

These guys were legit YELLING. They sounded like those hysterical videos of goats screaming. And then there was one little baby that didn't know how to do it yet and every time he tried it sounded like he was about to throw up. Peter was imitating it and I was losing it. I don't know how everyone at the sea lion exhibit wasn't pissing themselves. 

Mr. Turtle was FLIPPED OVER on his back when we got to him. Talk about struggle city. A lemur looked on as the turtle flailed his legs and tail back and forth violently - that little lemur knew exactly what was happening but didn't do anything to help. Eventually, a zoo keeper came into the enclosure and flipped him over. 

The leopards were out and playful and it's so awesome how they act just like giant version of a regular house cat! Watching them play was just like watching Doodle and his friend play at the Meow Parlour

That night I readied for the week ahead, which would bring lots of activities in my last week in NYC before my family vacation. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

BAEgels on the Beach

Back in New York after our girls weekend in Cape Cod, I went to cheer for Peter at a Tuesday night 5K in Hoboken. It was right on the water, a good group of November Project friends were running - and DAMN everyone killed it! Jeanie and Pete Kruse both won awards!

(Jeanie is STRONG)

Peter was finally feeling like his speed was coming back after being so sick in May. 6:38 pace? Yup, I'd say that's fast.
(Are you a running model or something?)

And Emily was having a ball running one of her favorite races on her home turf!

After the race there was beer and wine and a band which we enjoyed for awhile before heading out for some Taco Tuesday food and beverage up the street. 

On Thursday, Peter took me out for a delicious dinner at Soccarat Paella Bar in Chelsea. Named after the crispy, crunchyness that forms in the cooking of paella, Soccarat definitely lived up to its name. The crunchy/burnt race was definitely our favorite part. 

We opted for the Arroz Negro - the rice is black from the squid ink! I was hesitant at first, but Peter wanted to be adventurous and I was sold on the shrimp, calamari, scallops, and fish that it included.

This paella was massive - yet we were not deterred. Essentially, we finished the entire thing.  Paella here is charged per person ($25-$33) with a 2 person minimum. 

Pre-paella we ordered two appetizers. 

Peter's choice were the bacon wrapped dates stuffed with cheese, almonds and a roasted apple puree. Not that they weren't my choice too - I had just been trying (and failing) at cleaning up my diet. Obviously, I ate my share of bacon wrapped dates. 

My one request was "NO patatas bravas." I find them horribly cliche and boring. 

So I chose the Milhohas de cordero - lamb terrine, spinach, potato and red peppers. To be honest, I didn't really know what to expect. I just knew I liked lamb. And spinach, potatoes and red peppers. 

Well, turns out I ended up loving it (and Peter was a fan too). Except we couldn't figure out exactly what we were eating. I later asked my dad to explain what a terrine was and he said sometimes it's held together using gelatin. UGH. I was hoping that wasn't how ours was made. I told him it seemed like there was an egg-y consistency, and he said that could be it too - so that's what we're going to go with. 

Obviously there was a pitcher of sangria included in the meal. 

Followed by a walk along the High Line! I always love taking pictures there, especially right before sunset when the lighting is juuuuust perfect. 

On Friday I enjoyed a "Summer Friday" which meant I got out of work at 2 p.m. instead of 5.

After getting some stuff done at the apartment, I met up with Peter and his coworkers near Penn Station and a nice new outdoor area for some oil cans (aka Foster's!) 

('Ows about we plow the froth off a coupla cold ones?)

Later that us and the girls met up with Jess because her mom and grandmother were visiting from Ohio! We went to Rosa Mexicano and enjoyed a few more drinks. It was so nice getting to meet them. 

After some sleep we woke up and made our way to the Brooklyn Brewery for a day of beer tasting. The line was pretty long and it was HOT out. Eventually, we got in and had a half hour to kill until our tour. We bought some beer tickets and got to sampling. 5 beers is $25, which wasn't bad considering the quality of the beer! We tried three before we went on the tour. 

Our tour guide killed it. He was great, we learned the basics of a brewery tour, and also some fun stories that pertain specifically to Brooklyn Brewery. 

Afterwards, we finished two more beer samples. 

The bar area is pretty cool because you can bring your own food in and people had huge spreads with games. It would be a fun place for a birthday party! 

On our way out we perused Smorgasburg and got some odds and ends as the packed up. We sat down by the water for awhile and it was really nice enjoying a view of the skyline, looking at the city that I have spent barely any time in during the last couple of crazy weeks. 

We headed back to Manhattan, met up with Melissa, and entered the yet to be moved into apartment of Alex for some NYC Tri poster making/beer drinking/pizza eating. I was a happy camper. 

Naturally, when the pizza was eaten, the poster board was all used, the beer was all drank - we headed to a nearby bar. 

Sound like enough fun and activity for a weekend? 

Nope. Still had Sunday, and we got up quite early to make our way to Peter's family's house on Long Island. 

After a stop for bagels (we were on Long Island, so DUH) we hit the beach! 


It was PACKED and super hot, so we didn't last for very long, but I'm never one to turn down water sand and sun. Or bagels. 

That night Peter's dad grilled tons of meat, prepared one of his A+ salads with fresh ingredients from the garden, and his mom baked a killer strawberry rhubarb pie. The caipirinhas (cat purinas as I like to pronounce them) were delicious and the conversation was easy and entertaining as usual. I really do enjoy spending time with Peter and his family - they're cool peeps. 

I left that night with some cucumbers from the garden and my own rhubarb to experiment in the kitchen with! 

I also left with some pictures of this pretty guy. 

And with THAT another summer week came to a close. 

Family & Friends & The Cape

This summer has been great because even though I feel like I'm ALWAYS missing my family, I did get to see them a good amount. 

The week after Fourth of July, my parents and sister came into the city on Thursday night to go see Something Rotten - I had missed Mother's Day, Father's Day, my mom's birthday and my sister's birthday so this was our time to celebrate! 

When I got out of work I met them for appetizers and drinks at China Grill, a family favorite. They have a great happy hour special from 4-7 where drinks and small plates are $7 (yes, including the China Blossom, my all time favorite cocktail!) 

After that we walked to the theater and saw Something Rotten which was pretty laugh out loud funny, despite our nose bleed seats (sorry guys!) I'm just a huge Brian D'Arcy James fan, I think he's great. 

After the show we went to The Marshal which, I don't think anyone loved, and I probably should have just gone to by myself since I wanted to order lots of veggies and my family wasn't feelin' it. We also had to spring through a monsoon to get there which kind of dampened the mood (get it?) 

The best part of the meal was the burrata - served with pesto, sea salt, and summer squash. I also ordered a peach roasted with brown sugar, walnuts and blue cheese. 

Sadly, I had to be up early the next morning to leave for a girls weekend in Cape Cod, so I couldn't spend the night in the hotel with my family :( Saying goodbye always sucks, but it was a fun night as usual! 

Early Friday morning we were meeting to get an uber and head to pick up our rental car at LaGuardia. After an entertaining ride where we couldn't find the car rental place and Rebecca grabbed our driver's arm, we picked up our car and hit the road! 

The traffic gods were on our side and it was smooooth sailing to Cape Cod and to Kayla's family's house. 

(Pretty smooth...)

We were totally spoiled by a fully stocked kitchen when we arrived and pretty quickly we were seated comfortably on the beach with a delicious spread in front of us - an AMAZING mandarin orange couscous salad, an assortment of chips, and an arugula/watermelon salad. 

The water was beautifulllllllll and not too wavy which is just my speed. 

On our way home from the beach we stopped at Great Pond for a rinse in the fresh water. It was beautiful! Totally my favorite kind of place. Secluded and peaceful, right in the middle of nature. I was happy as a clam. 

That night, we all had WAY too much fun cooking in a giant kitchen as we drank and cooked and listened to Kayla talk backwards and talked and laughed and it was great. 

We made veggie burgers, corn on the cob, an amazing salad, and Melissa made funfetti and chocolate peanut butter donuts! And Kayla made Nutella and walnut rugelach! 

Since Friday was pretty much perfect, we did it all over again on Saturday! Up for a delicious breakfast and out to the beach where we again feasted on couscous salad and our own tuna/avocado salad creation.

We went for an even long swim at the pond this time! 

Dinner on Saturday was grilled sweet potatoes chicken sausages for the omnivores and eggs for the veggie-heads, blackbeans and other deliciousness. 

Things got silly that night and I was again reminded how damn happy I am that the 6 of us met. 

Sunday Rebecca slaved away on breakfast which was A+++.  Some sweet potato/rosemary potato hash, avocado, toast, eggs and CHAMPAGNE. 

While Rebecca slaved over the stove, I slaved over the refrigerator writing this masterpiece. 

We headed to the beach one last time, soaked up a little more sun, went home to pack up, and stopped for a yummy seafood lunch before we bid Cape Code farewell. 

Our journey home was longer, but not unbearable - especially with the nice long break in New Haven for Pepe's pizza! It felt nice just knowing I was in New Haven. I still miss Quinnipiac a ton! 

It was a late return and a rough Monday morning, but it was seriously one of the most relaxing, fun weekend's I've had all summer! 

Kayla, please stay my friend because I'm already counting down the days until our next trip to the Cape! 


Through the 4th

I was home in the city just long enough to unpack my bags before heading to Connecticut on Saturday morning to celebrate my favorite ginger's 25th birthday! 

Allison pushed off her birthday celebration from the beginning of May all the way until the last weekend in June since it was the first time I was home for a weekend...because she's the best. 

It was an awesome day where we rented a van that drove us to two different CT wineries before dropping us back off at Allison's apartment. 

I made my way back to Long Island that night hoping to make my cousin's high school graduation party, but that didn't end up happening.

I DID get to see Morgan, home for a rare break from med school before her new year in Denver. She BETTER get her butt to a November Project workout soon! Morgan and I always pick up right where we left off, which is the best feeling. 

Monday and Tuesday I took personal days otherwise they would have expired. Tuesday I leisurely headed back into the city for a date with Peter at MEOW PARLOUR! It was really clean inside, the kitties were super cute, the cookies that you can buy from the cafe around the corner were delicious, and we stayed for an hour since Doodle was thoroughly entertaining us. If you're looking to adopt a cat - go here! Or, if you just want to play with kitties. 

After Meow Parlour we watched some women's world cup soccer from The Loreley

I only had 1.5 days of work that week because we got out of work early on Thursday and had off on Friday for Fourth of July weekend. 

As soon as work was over on Thursday I booked it to Penn Station and boarded the train for Montauk. Dear lord, it was craziness. I've never seen so many people on the LIRR in my entire life. 

The ride was loooong. My parents picked me up and drove Jess and Kevin to their house, where I would be staying Friday and Saturday nights! But Thursday night was bonding time with modge and podge, who were also staying in Montauk for the weekend. 

We went to eat at a new restaurant called The Muse. The decor was awesome - open, airy, beachy, with really awesome floors that looked like old worn wood panels but totally weren't. The bar lit up cool colors, too.  

First, we split the Tuna "Menage a Trois" 

1) Ahi Tuna Tartar atop Vegetable Tabouli - For the Tabouli, they used Israeli Couscous which added a unique texture
2) Blackened Tuna Lollipop topped with Candied Wasabi Crust on Whipped Avocado - I'm not a huge fan of wasabi flavored things, so this wasn't my favorite
3) Hot Stone Seared Tuna Carpaccio with Seaweed Salad - This was probably my favorite, because I love seaweed salad, and because it came with a spicy mayo sauce. 

Next, we split the Mussels a la Muse. 

Oh. My. God.
These was by far the most amazing mussel dish I've ever had. When it comes to mussels, it's not really the mussel that's the impressive part, but what surrounds the little guys.  This dish came with a Prosecco Butter Sauce (uh, yes), Grilled Artichoke Hearts, Cured Tomatoes, Giganta Beans and grilled Italian bread. 

The combination of artichoke hearts and beans (with some Parmigiano-Reggiano on top for good measure) was so hearty and filling and the Prosecco Butter Sauce was addictive. 

I've been to Flex Mussels in the city, which specializes in bowls of different themed mussels, but The Muse had them beat! 

For dinner I ordered the "Bacon N Eggs Breakfast Salad" which, I'll just cut to the chase, was a disappointment. 

I should have listened to the waitress when she said she preferred the Summer Apple Salad. Or, realistically, just stopped trying to be good by ordering a salad and ordered something from the real menu. Oh well! Luckily, I was stuffed from the appetizers already and my parents obviously let me eat as much as I wanted from their plates! 

The salad came with grilled pork belly and a poached egg over frissee tossed in a maple cider vinaigrette with French toast croutons. 

The pork belly was fatty and I really didn't like it. Other than that, the rest of the salad was great! Yolk from the egg mixed with the maple cider vinaigrette was delicious and the French taste croutons were like little bites of dessert mixed into my salad. 

I honestly can't remember which of the fish entrees my mom ordered, and looking at the menu I can't even match it up to this picture. It's driving me slightly crazy. 

I want to say it was the Cajun Spiced Atlantic Cod served on Charred L.I. Corn & Saffron Hummus with House Grown Micro Greens, Honey, Black Vinegar Gastrique, Avocado Aioli, Chili Oil, and Fried Hominy.

My dad ordered what I peer-pressured him into ordering - "Muse's World Famous Sausage." 

The pinwheel pork sausage had roast tomato, artichoke & feta-cheese inside of it and was served with sweet potato green apple chutney and a honey mustard barbecue sauce. 

We didn't do dessert, but I did walk next door for some froyo afterwards and my dad, who isn't usually a sweets person, was totally blown away by it. Maybe now he'll be a little more understanding when my froyo comes to $9. 

My drink was tasty too - I think some kind of watermelon drink but I can't remember exactly. 

Overall, I don't think any of us were absolutely BLOWN AWAY by our entrees, but we WERE obsessed with those mussels, and the general feel of the restaurant was really nice. 

After dinner we headed to the Sloppy Tuna for a drink at the bar and to meet up with my parents friends before heading to bed. 

(My best friend, for real.)

In the morning, we woke up and DAMN was the view nice. We were right. on. the. ocean. Beautiful. 

I struggled to run two miles (we'll get to all of that at some other time...) and went for a yoga class! 

(My mom was standing IN the hotel room when she took this picture!)

When I got back, my parents and I headed to the hotel's restaurant for a free breakfast and I got some egg whites with home fries, toast and fruit. 

Then, BEACH!

It was perfect out, and I felt no need to jump in the water. 

Peter and my friends were all on their way out to Montauk from the city and I was waiting to head over to Jess and Kevin's until they arrived. Unfortunately, the LIRR was even more of a mess on Friday than it had been on Thursday night, and they had had to get on a bus since there were thousands of people and hundreds that couldn't fit on the train. 

Eventually, I knew they were close so I said goodbye to my parents and they dropped me off at the house. Once everyone arrived we ate some lunch and went to the beach for some late afternoon sun and relaxation. That night, we pigged out on pizza, drank a LOT of alcohol, played some games, attempted to go to Sloppy Tuna, and generally just had a great time. 

Fun story - the line for Sloppy Tuna was SO LONG and when we got there with a group of 20 of us, we knew there was no way we were all getting in. But my parents had been waiting in there for me for about an hour and I felt awful! Well, as usual, my dad had made some friends, and I was able to go up to the bouncer and get in! I saw my parents for a little bit before heading out to meet back up with the group. 

True Life: My parents are so much cooler than me! 

Surprisingly, everyone was up and out at a decent hour the next morning for a Fourth of July spent on the beach. I wasn't feeling so hot, but eventually, felt good enough to eat some ice cream at John's Drive In. I also went with Peter to John's Pancakes where he had a CANNOLI PANCAKE! It was literally rolled up and stuffed with cannoli cream and it was probably the best pancake I've ever had (aside from my mom's banana pancakes, DON'T WORRY MOM!) 

Later that afternoon we went to a bar before heading back to the house for pulled pork sandwiches and more games and drinks. 

Not ready to give up the sun and sand, Sunday morning we again got up bright and early and headed to the beach for a few hours before we had to head home on the good old LIRR. It was a long day of travel, but totally work it for the tan I got that weekend! 

Finally bronzed! 


After being gone for 3 weeks, I was beyond excited that for my next work trip, Peter would be coming along for the journey! 

The trip got off to a wonderful start when I realized we would be leaving from the Delta terminal in JFK that has a World Bean kiosk which serves AVOCADO TOAST AND PEANUT BUTTER BANANA TOAST. 

Obviously, I insisted that we order and split both. 

(Best airport breakfast you could ask for!)

We managed to maneuver our seats so that we were sitting next to each other for the flight. I napped and then woke up and started watching Singing in the Rain - except that we landed with like 10 minutes to go in the movie so I'll NEVER KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. 

Immediately upon landing we hit up the liquor store in the baggage claim area for some Coronas and vodka. When we went up to the cashier to pay, we were poured a shot. Welcome to Vegas!

Another sign we were in Vegas: The incredibly long check-in line that greeted us when we arrived at the MGM Grand. Luckily, it moved fairly quickly. We dropped our stuff off at the room and set out for some lunch.

I started my trip on the healthy side - knowing that would probably only  last until about dinner time. But weird fact: I've found the salads in Vegas to be surprisingly wonderful. In fact, a salad from the Wynn last year made my list of Life Changing Salads! 

We got lunch at Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill - I ordered the Chopped Vegetable salad. 

Next? POOL obviously. We lasted about 5 minutes laying out before we needed to jump in and cool off.  That Vegas heat is brutal man. 

Eventually, we set out to explore the Strip. 

Naturally, our first stop was for a margarita and mango-habanero guacamole at Hussong's in Mandalay Bay - where legend has it, the first margarita was created by bartender Don Carlos Orozco. Yeah yeah. K. It was a good marg, but I'm a little sad we didn't have the guts to try the...ready...PB&J margarita! (Sauza Reposado tequila, crème de cassis, muddled blackberries, and a peanut butter rim.)

We also made a stop at the pyramid-looking casino (The Luxor) because my boyfriend is an engineer ;)  And stopped for a song at the Bellagio Fountains because, Vegas. 

After some wandering, we heard live guitar music and followed it to the rooftop bar at Cabo Wabo Cantina.  There was live music from a guy doing some great covers, and $20 buckets of beer. We were very content at the end of the night. 

The next morning we got up at a decent hour and decided to do a deck of cards workout in the hotel room instead of paying the resort fee to use the gym. It ended up being pretty legit, and lasting longer than we thought it would. But we certainly worked up our appetite for a late breakfast. 

We stayed in our hotel and sat down at Avenue Cafe - which would end up being Peter's go-to spot in the mornings while I was working. 

Both of us were kind of sort of drooling over the menu - Red Velvet Pancakes? Blueberry Almond Crunch Pancakes? Pulled Pork Egg Sandwich? I HATE THE CHOICE BETWEEN SWEET AND SAVORY! 

So I went rogue and ordered the Kale Salad. I knew there would be plenty of time for indulging later in the trip. Plus, this Kale Salad sounded pretty great - apples, cranberries, green beans, toasted walnuts and a mustard vinaigrette. I made the mistake of forgetting to ask for the dressing on the side, so the salad was a little soupy, but the flavor was great and I was yet again pleasantly surprised with Vegas' salad game. 

Peter had one of the egg skillets and it was KILLER. 

We spent the day lounging by the pool and by lounging by the pool I mean profusely sweating and mainly sitting IN the pool looking at all the crazy people on E. 

That night, we again set out wandering, drinking along the Strip and exploring the different hotels. Eventually, we stopped by happy hour at Coyote Ugly in New York New York and while I have never been to the one in NYC, we ended up having a great time despite the somewhat-trashy feel of the place. Bras hanging from the ceiling, girls dancing on the bar - I probably should have felt slightly uncomfortable as girls lined up to have shots poured in their mouths but instead, I just enjoyed the entertainment. And especially enjoyed Peter convincing one of the dancers to Rick-Roll the bar. Worse than Rick-Rolling them? Playing Photograph from the juke box. Sorry, not sorry. Except kind of sorry, because we had to sit through it too. 

Dinner was also in New York New York at Gonzalez y Gonzalez. Repetitive name theme I suppose. And whoah- do you think Peter and I like margaritas and Mexican at all?

The guac here had CRAB in it - big pieces too. It was legit. 

Next stop was to listen to some piano at the dueling piano bar in New York New York before calling it a night. I had work in the morning, after all!

Monday morning we woke up nice and early for my first official day of training for the Suffolk County Marathon! 4 miles in the stifling heat. It was pretty miserable, but we got it done and then I went to work. 

The rest of the days we were in Vegas were pretty similar - wake up, exercise, go to work while Peter explored or chilled at the pool, and then we met up at the end of the day for drinks and some unbelievably awesome dinners. 

Highlights for Peter included the NHL Social Media scavenger hunt where he came in 3rd place and won tickets to see La Reve! 

He also got a selfie with Alexander Ovechkin at the pool one day. They really look like they're BFF. 

The highlight of the trip for me was working with Jonathan Pitre and his mom to make sure he had a wonderful experience at the Awards show. Please, watch this video and consider donating! Jonathan and his mom were so incredibly sweet and I was so happy that I got to know them and learn about their story. My aunts nephew through marriage also has this disease, When I'm back and running, I would love to find a race that supports this cause or fundraise for DEBRA through a larger race. The biggest take-away from meeting Jonathan was that he is just Jonathan - a 14 year old who loves hockey, is super polite, laughs easily, and has a great attitude. 

You're probably all wondering where we ate while in Vegas. 

Tom Colicchio's Craftsteak was the first big dinner. As usual, we split a majority of the appetizers on the menu, each got an entree, and sampled more desserts than is ever necessary. 

I like to call this, "The dinner where Peter realized why his girlfriend was researching juice cleanses and swearing she had gained 15 pounds in the past month." 

Our waiter had SUCH a funny accent. 

I'm ashamed to say I have no recollection of what I ordered as an entree, and I also have zero pictures of the meal. 

I do remember that no one wanted the side of heirloom cauliflower. What gives? But we DID have copious amounts of sides -  including mushrooms, grits, risotto, and who knows what else. 

Looking at the cocktail menu, I can only assume that the two drinks I ordered were:
Pomma Rita: tequila, lime juice, pomegranate juice and Cointreau
Craft Champagne Cocktail: St. Germain, Sparkling Wine

Another night, we went for tapas at a restaurant in the Cosmopolitan called Jaleo. 

Again, not the best recollection of exactly what we ordered. What I DO remember is they tried charging us like $200 for a paella that would have been THIS BIG: 

(Swimming pool of paella) 

Also, they served the chicken croquettes IN A SHOE with zero explanation: 

We just went with it. 

The sangria was yummy and we ordered multiple pitchers. 

These tuna cones were delicious. 

(And my photography was awful...)

Cheese platters are cool. 

(Marcona almonds are the shit) 

After the Awards show, we went to Tao, which we have here in NYC too. It's one of my parent's favorites, so I've been spoiled and taken there a handful of times. It's always delicious. 

Of course we ordered some sushi for the table, some edamame, Drunken Lobster Pad Thai, and I FINALLY got my cauliflower.

On our last morning we got breakfast and our favorite breakfast place (Peter ate there every morning I'm pretty sure - and once he delivered me a Red Velvet pancake that was legit a mini CAKE and so moist and amazing.) 

I can't remember what I ended up ordering but I DO remember that we got delicious Bloody Mary's. 

On our way out, I bet $5 on a Wizard of Oz slot machine and won $50! Score. 

Unfortunately, our plane was delaying 8 HOURS and we thought we would never make it home. The good thing? Airports have bars. And Chili's. Which have nachos. 

We made the best of the delay and I even won 2 complimentary cocktails for the flight by answering a trivia question correctly (What's the difference between a Broadway and off-Broadway show? Answer: The number of seats in the theater!) 

(Delayed = bored)

And there you have it! 

Vegas, see ya next June! 

Guac Off: Lemon vs. Lime

Have you ever found yourself in a debate with friends over the superior citrus with which to flavor your guacamole? 


Well, you and your friends are clearly not avocado aficionados. 

To settle the debate, we had a Mexican potluck the day after I returned from my crazy long work trip. Jaime (team lemon) and Rebecca (team lime) whipped up their ideal guacs while the rest of us assembled the accouterments. I was very happy with my decision to bring mango to add to the tacos. 

We had a blind vote, during which even Jaime voted for the lime guacamole expertly mashed and made by Rebecca. 

The lemon, though not the victor, had it's own unique, light taste that we all agreed would be delicious smeared on some fish. 

A week or so later, we were shocked to hear that there are people who claim you shouldn't add ANY citrus to your guacamole, because it masks the taste of the avocado! You can read more about this blasphemy here

So what are you? Team lime? Team lemon? Team citrus-free? 

To finish our festive dinner our very own donut master Melissa made MARGARITA DONUTS. There was legit TEQUILA and lime zest in the ICING! 

They were phenomenal and it was so wonderful to be reunited with the gang before heading out of the city for yet another week of work travel. 

Back to Tampa, Back to Chicago

DAY TWELVE - June 11
CHI --> Tampa 

Over the course of our travels I earned a reputation for being highly irritable and cranky on travel days. True, we only got about 4 hours of sleep each night before flying - but I don't think it justified my permanent scowl. Everything pissed me off. The lines, the check-in process, the overweight baggage fees. And towards the end, I realized that the crankiness may have had something to do with the fact that travel days were the only days where I wasn't starting the morning with a workout - meaning I was starting my day without any endorphins. 

Morning exercise people, it's magic, I swear! 

When we got back "home" to our hotel in Tampa, we all set out for some lunch at "our" diner down the street. The diner owner was from Long Island, go figure! There were more sweet potato fries with maple dipping sauce, don't you worry.

That night, a group of us went out and split a bunch of appetizers at a place called Taps, where the guys could watch the NBA Final. 

The beer selection was enormous (with a name like Taps, that might seem pretty obvious), and I was so excited to try Wells Banana Bread Beer! It was quite delicious. 

I didn't do a very good job documenting the appetizers that we all split, so I'll just write about what I can remember. 

There was some bruschetta. 

There was some specialty popcorn with asiago cheese and truffle oil that I took one whiff of and immediately wanted no part of.

Lettuce wraps. 

Fish tacos. 

Bean dip trio. 

Tuna Crudo (I think raw tuna in some form may have been a part of every single dinner this entire trip - we kind of like it). 

What I do remember clearly was the waiter coming over and making a comment about how quickly we had "destroyed" the food. 

Rude sir. We haven't eaten in days!! Er...

I also clearly remember the dessert, in typical Lauren fashion. 

Belgian Waffles with vanilla ice cream, Nutella and whipped cream. I don't think it's possible to mess that up. 

But what I have slowly been coming to appreciate is bread pudding, and Taps' was pretty damn good! Maybe that's because it was apricot flavored and came with caramel drizzle and vanilla ice cream and sliced almonds. 

Taps also made an attempt at one of my other favorite dessert delicacies - donuts. 

Tried, and fell very, very flat. Their vanilla and red velvet donuts had absolutely no flavor, and their chocolate ones just tasted bland. They were dry and disappointing. That's what she said? 


This was our one true "day off" and I was sure to take advantage of it! 

Despite not really feeling so hot about running, there was a little coffee shop/breakfast place that I was dying to try - and running is my preferred method of transportation. 

So I was up and out and running to Buddy Brew! I may have passed it and had to backtrack and run way more than planned, but I'm glad I didn't give up because this place was absolutely adorable. 

I would love to open a cute, artsy little shop like this some day. 

(Any place that specializes in breakfast foods is automatically on my good side. And a teal color scheme? YAS)

Living  in NYC, I would never had thought that my favorite avocado toast would be found in Tampa. But dear lord, this was amazing. 


At Buddy Brew, their avocado toast comes with chili and lime, and there was definitely sea salt on it as well. 

I customized mine to include an olive oil poached egg because EVERYTHING is better with an egg on top. Duh. I wanted everything on the menu, but I was more than happy with my choice.

I also got a delicious cold brew coffee before running back to my hotel with a full and slightly queasy stomach. Worth it. 

As soon as I got back, I changed in about 2 seconds flat and met a few coworkers in the lobby to head out for some stand up paddle boarding. 

When we got to the dock, a man informed us that there was no stand-up paddle boarding despite the sign. "Maybe today's their grand opening, but I haven't seen no stand up paddle boarding here." Thanks for your sarcasm, dude. 

So SUP didn't happen. But kayaking did! The guy who got us all ready to go out told us if we paddled in one direction we would come to a lighthouse (he also told us not to worry about the "1 hour" limit). When we got to the lighthouse, we were super disappointed. 

(In reality, this lighthouse was probably 10 feet tall)

I love kayaking, because it's active but it's also relaxing. 

When we got back to the dock, we got some cocktails before walking back and seeing SO MANY PRECIOUS DOLPHINS! Then we chilled at the pool for a little bit. Then, it was off for a manicure (that set me back $25 unknowingly - but lasted a good long while!) 

That night, we got dinner in the hotel restaurant that I wasn't a huge fan of, but c'est la vie. 


Game day! 

DAY FIFTEEN - June 14 
Tampa --> CHI 

Probably my least amount of sleep the night before a travel day. 

When we got to the hotel we couldn't check into our rooms yet, so we went out in search of brunch. I was dying to go to Little Goat (which everyone the entire trip referred to as "Goat Burger") but when we got there, the wait was super long (I have great taste, what can I say?)

But it was OK because we ended up eating at The Allis inside the lobby of the Soho House Hotel that was totalllllly my kinda place. Super trendy looking and the menu? One of each PUHLEASE?

Sadly, decisions had to be made. 

The first decision was easy. 

Bloody Mary. Boom. Definitely a let down. But I moved on. 

Americano. Yum. 

Did I dare try a new avocado toast after just discovering close to perfection at Buddy Brew?

Indeed, I did. 

Allis' avo toast was good, but not Buddy Brew. You can just tell by looking at it. Cubed avocado instead of slices. A poached egg with the yolk just a little too well done. 

But they made up for it with their super grain bowl with quinoa and goji berries. Flax seeds, blueberries, shredded coconut. It was heavenly. 

The meal, paired with the setting made for a great brunch experience. 

A bunch of people ordered the "Mean Sandwich" which came with egg, bacon, taleggio cheese, cheddar cheese, aioli, avocado and jalapeno. They were even asking the waitress for the aioli recipe and considered ordering seconds. 

I'm glad we were at Allis on a week day, because their breakfast menu is more extensive than their weekend brunch menu. I could have easily ordered anything on this menu. If you're in Chicago you should definitely check it out (Banana, almond butter and flax seeds on multigrain anyone?) 

After brunch, I STILL couldn't get into a room, so I left my bags with the front desk and wandered over to Marshall's, which was dangerously close to the hotel. Woops, ended up buying a few things that weren't necessary, but they were CUTE. 

Then, why not stop for a donut after a giant brunch? Tina had told me about a place called Stan's that had - wait for it - a Biscoff Banana stuffed donut. 

It was sickeningly sweet, with lots layers and textures inside, and distinct Biscoff and banana tastes. It was very fitting that Tina alerted me to this specific donut, because she's the one who introduced me to Biscoff in the first place by making me try THIS sorcery - fudge made with just Biscoff spread and vanilla icing. It was then I realized that Biscoff cookies are the ones they serve on Delta flights and everything clicked and I was like oh shit yeah wow I've loved this stuff forever. It's crack. And I don't mind being addicted. 

I ate it when I got back to the hotel and finally got a room. Immediately after eating it, I passed out in a sugar coma for a few hours, exhausted from yet another endorphin-less travel day. 

When I woke up, it was the moment I had been waiting for - to be reunited with my long lest BFF who used to live in the city and work with me. 

Tina and I headed to a cute bar with an outdoor area and met up with Staci. We proceeded to talk and laugh as if we had never been separated - the best kind of friendship there is. 

Saying goodbye so quickly sucked, but I'LL SEE YA IN NYC SOON, RIGHT STACI?! 

At this point in the night, coworkers will still putting together a plan for dinner, but I didn't have the patience so I stopped at Whole Foods, loaded up on the salad bar, and enjoyed it from the comfort of my hotel room. 

DAY SIXTEEN - June 15 


As such, I thought it was appropriate to wrap up the trip eating like the fat kids that we love to be while on the road. A dozen donuts from Glazed and Infused was in order, yes? Oh yes. 

I walked over and picked out a few drool-worthy sounded ones. 

Unfortunately, none of these really blew me out of the water. In fact, I can't recall one thing about them, specifically. I know there was a peanut butter and jelly one, a Cajeta fried ice cream one, a bacon maple one, and a red velvet one. 

(Why can't I be as photogenic as donuts are?)

That night before the game started, we had to evacuate our trailer because of a tornado watch! Good think we had these ponchos to protect us!

Jokes. My poncho blew off of my completely and I looked like a drowned rat. With very wet feet. 

(Dress I got on my trip to Marshall's!)

By the end of the night, a dynasty created when the Chicago Blackhawks hoisted the Stanley Cup yet again! It was really awesome to be there for my first Stanley Cup presentation! 

And that brought my longest-work-trip-ever to a close!

Thanks for reading along!

Spoiler Alert: I left on another work trip 4 days later. Coming up next! 


Want to read about days 1-5? Here you go.

DAY SIX - June 5
I spent the morning at the arena working, with a quick break for a team picture and some playing in the fountain. We had been wanting to do this since the moment we saw it, and it was just as fun as we hoped it would be. 

Then, it was time to go abut 30 minutes away to see my grandma and two aunts who I haven't seen in way too long. My grandma had a stroke over a year ago, and she's living in Florida in an assisted living home instead of 20 minutes down the road from my house on Long Island. It makes me really sad to think about her there, and to think that my mom and I can't see her whenever we want. Getting older sucks, especially when you realize that the time you have left with the people you love is running out. 

For a few days, I wasn't very hopeful that my aunt was going to be able to convince my gran to make the journey to Tampa, but I was so so relieved when I got the call that she would be coming. We went across the street to dinner it was just so nice being with everyone. Of course, it's hard to see Gran frail and not able to do things she used to do, but she was in good spirits, enjoyed her meal, and I just kept chattering away and showing her pictures of things I've been up to. 

(Me with the Mackey ladies!)

(This picture makes me smile every time I see it, which is why it's my lock screen on my phone) 

We got back to my cousins apartment which we were stealing for the night and when I mentioned that I might leave that night because I hard work in the morning, Gran got all teary and I couldn't bear to leave. We sat around talking some more and then Aunt Suzanne and I went for a walk to see the sunset. 

(It was gorgeous) 

Unfortunately, when I got back, Gran was all tucked into bed even though it was only about 8 o'clock. I crawled into bed with her and held her hand and talked until she dozed off. Laying there with her, it was really hard not to completely lose it and start crying. I was feeling so many things, but, most importantly, I was incredibly grateful for the day and my time with her. 

Saying goodbye the next morning was hard, and we both cried. But again, I am so so thankful that my aunts got Gran to come and that I got to spend time with everyone. 

DAY SEVEN - June 6 

Another GAME DAY! Game day means a few things. 1) Sleeping in a little later 2) Arena food all day 3) Wearing cute outfits and taking pictures 4) Late late nights. 

(This was our GAME 1 team picture)

Since I was a little bit of an emotional wreck after saying goodbye to my grandma, I reallllllly wanted to go for a run. Unfortunately, my IT band had been really bothering me, so running more than 2 miles wasn't really an option. I ran a little ways on the path our hotel was situated on, and when I found a huge staircase, I decided that would be a good way to relax. Yes, you heard that right. I did a bunch of stairs broken up with push-ups and crunches and I felt totally in my element since there were other people around doing the same thing, using the area like a gym. NP_Tampa? 

Next, it was a solid 14 hours at the arena.

(I must say - Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay was AWESOME! They had this entire outdoor viewing area with a bar and DJ. The inside of the arena was beautiful too - and all right on the water! Definitely a little different than Nassau Coliseum). 

I'm lucky that my coworkers are awesome and 14 hours FLYS by. Okay, maybe not exactly...but we DO manage to make it fun. 

DAY 8 - June 7 

Travel days are exhausting. And the days that I feel absolutely zero guilt in skipping the gym. 

I don't even know why they are so killer. Maybe because we were up and out at about 4:30 a.m. after going to bed at 2 a.m. So really, we would nap instead of sleep. All I can say is THANK GOD I'm able to sleep on airplanes. 

Sam and Kim had traveled ahead to Chicago for a day, so when Kim and I landed we headed to the arena to get our bearings and to set up in the trailer. Home sweet home in City 2.

That night, I was exhausted. I didn't want to be anti-social and skip dinner, especially because it's always somewhere amazing, but I just couldn't rally. Especially when I flipped on the TV and realized it was the TONY AWARDS! That sealed the deal - Seamless and laying in bed watching musicals was the clear choice. 

I ordered delivery from Fig and Olive and DAMN was it delicious. Would it have been better sitting down and eating in the restaurant? Probably. But I still thoroughly enjoyed my crostinis and entree. 

The three crostinis that I picked were:
Shrimp, Avocado, Cilantro, TomatoGoat Cheese, Caramelized Onion, ChivePea, Asparagus, Ricotta Lemon Thyme

They were all very tasty, though the bread could have been a little crispier. 

For an entree, I ordered the Fig & Olive Tajine which came with Moroccan spiced chicken served with fig, olive, apricot, carrot, zucchini, cipollini onion, tomato, toasted almond, couscous with cilantro and harissa with arbequina olive oil.

This hit the spot. I loved that they packaged the couscous separately so it didn't get completely drowned in the broth that the chicken and vegetables were in. The meat was incredibly tender and there were dried apricots that made me really happy. 

Overall, very happy with my decision to stay in. And even happier with my decision to be a diva and order Seamless to the hotel lobby instead of ordering room service. 

DAY NINE - June 8 

I started the morning with a run to the bean, purely so I could get this shot: 

As I ran (slowly, and again, only about 2 miles before I was in pain) I also passed these lions who were in the Playoff Hockey spirit! 

This was only my second time being in Chicago, and each time I got I regret not exploring it more. It's such a pretty city from the few areas I've seen!

This was a game day, and an 8 o'clock start, which mean a very late night. Luckily, I was in charge of ordering 5th Meal aka: Giordano's deep dish pizza. 

Now, you can say all you want that deep dish isn't "real" pizza - you can pull a John Stewart and claim that "it's not a pizza...it's a casserole!" But whatever it is, when I ate it for the first time in Chicago last winter, I fell in love. And simultaneously wished I had never tried it. Because it's one of those things that I just cannot stop eating. 

Eating to the point of feeling sick is something that, clearly, is not good for you. 

But place Giordano's pizza in front of me, and I'm Miley - I cannot be tamed. The crust is legit pie crust. Think, buttery, and made up of crispy, crunchy layers. And the amount of cheese inside - ungodly. No calorie count can deter me (but in case you're wondering - a deep dish cheese slice from Giordano's comes in at 500 calories). 

However, in additional to deep dish, I ordered some "thin crust" pies from Giordano's as well. And here, I agree with John Stewart on Chicago's blatant disregard for pizza. 


No like seriously, I think it's just the city of Chicago being incredibly stubborn. No one wants that floppy, soggy middle piece that's one mouthful. What is this? Can someone please explain?

It's one of those things that makes me irrationally angry. I got visibly agitated when this pizza arrived. Similar to when people pronounce "Reese's" as "Ree-sees Pee-sees." Pieces is a word. Reese's rhymes with it. Come on people. (I once called Reese's to confirm the pronunciation and their Corporate Communication department gave me some BS, go-to response about how their customers are welcome to pronounce it however they want. When I asked how the person on the line pronounced it, she confirmed my thoughts.)

The best is when people pronounces Reese's Cup correctly and then as soon as they see a bag of Reese's Pieces it becomes "Ree-sees Pee-sees."

I really can't. 

Okay, moving on. 

DAY TEN - June 9 

Day at the office. 

What does a day at the office look like? 

What is that, you ask? 

It's a chocolate munchkin cut in half and filled with PB, Banana and Nutella. 

Patent pending. 

Dinner that night was at Shaw's - seafood on seafood on seafood. Literally, we started with this raw platter with layers of fresh, fishy fabulousness. 

This baby had Maine lobster tails, oysters, blue crab fingers, shrimp cocktail and Alaskan red king crab bites. Lately, I'm realllllly diggin' crab! 

Also, major props to Shaw's for having close to one of my favorite drinks - their "Elderflower" cocktail had Gin, St. Germain, lime and lemon juice. All it was missing was a splash of grapefruit! 

Think that monstrous shellfish platter was our only appetizer? Think again. We also got some delicious sushi. 

I loved that their sushi rolls were A) pretty and B) had different flavor combinations that standard sushi. I lot of people loved the Spicy Shrimp, Salmon and lemon roll that had spicy shrimp, cucumber and avocado, salmon and lemon! 

For an entree, I ordered the Surf & Surf. Yes, I am a seafood lover for sure. 

The Surf & Surf at Shaw's comes with steamed Alaskan red king crab legs and an 8 oz. Maine lobster tail. I was truly in my glory. And shockingly, loving the crab even more than the lobster! 

Our table also split some sides - including Lobster Mac and Cheese and hash browns with onions. 

As usual, we demanded that there be room for dessert. The sweet-tooth crew split the peach and blueberry cobbler (yum!) the creme brulle (pretty bland), and the raspberry pie (delicious). 

DAY ELEVEN - June 10 

The day I had been waiting for! Waking up at 4:45 a.m. to run 4 miles to the 6:00 a.m. NP_CHI workout with Tina! 

We headed out and got to watch a beautiful sunrise. It's amazing to me how one minute you're in the middle of the city and the next you're at the beach! I know NY is along the water too, but Chicago was just different!

As Tina and I ran, we got more and more concerned with the fact that our blue dot on Google maps didn't seem to be getting any closer to the workout. 

Turns out, we were definitely further than anticipated - more like 6 or 7 miles. We walked/ran and to our delight, when we arrived late, it actually started at 6:30 - not 6:00 - we were right on time! 

(Most awesome tagging I've ever seen!) 

The Chicago tribe leaders had planned an entire hockey-themed workout that was AWESOME! Everyone was super friendly (obviously) and I loved that it was a small, fairly new tribe so everyone was still getting to know each other. The workout was legit - wheelbarrow racing while passing a ball back and forth really does a number on your abs! 


It was the most I had run since Brooklyn, and it didn't feel great. But it DID feel great to cross another NP off the list. NYC, DC, SF, CHI! 

We took an Uber back to the hotel (Thanks, Patrick!) and I took a nap before getting ready for a long day at the arena - another game day! 

I made a friend outside our trailer!

To be continued...