food

Travel Guide: Portland, Maine in 72 Hours

Portland, Maine. 

When you first think of this small northeastern coastal city, you may conjure up images of summer beach days and sleepy nights on a porch swing under the stars. And that's totally valid. Maine is full of gorgeous beaches and cozy cottages with wrap-around porches. 

But the East Coast Portland can claim some other stellar accolades like being named one of GQ's Coolest Small Cities in America.

And though the jury is out on whether or not Portland actually has the most restaurants per capita than any city in the U.S., it has earned a reputation as one of the foodie-destinations in America - being named Bon Appetit Magazine's "America's Foodiest Small Town" in 2009 and being named one of the top twenty on The Huffington Post's list of "Americas Best Food Cities" in 2014. 

And HELLO, Matador Network named Portland, Maine the best craft beer city in the WORLD. The WORLD! 

Picturesque foliage, small-town vibes, cute shops, restaurants galore, craft breweries and a strong coffee culture - Portland, Maine was the absolute PERFECT place to spend a Halloween Weekend out of crazy NYC. 

3 days in Portland was the perfect mini-getaway and the long weekend was packed with SO MUCH FOOD and fall happiness. Keep on reading for tips on making the most of your 48-72 hours in this perfect little place! 

Long Weekend in Portland Maine

FRIDAY LATE NIGHT EATS

Boda | very thai kitchen and bar 
671 Congress

Upon arrival in Portland we immediately set out from our Airbnb for a quick walk up the block to Boda, a restaurant on Congress St. with a late night menu. 

Despite it being 10:30 p.m., there were tons of folks eating in the mood-lit, rustic space with an open kitchen. 

We grabbed a seat at the bar next to a very Maine-looking-lumber-man who was very friendly. Many people at Boda seemed like regulars, which is always a good sign. 

The price was certainly right for Boda's late night menu, with plates ranging in price from just $4-$10! Abby, I don't think we're in Manhattan anymore!

COCKTAILS

We each tried one of Boda's creative cocktails. I wish I could remember which I ordered, but my memory is failing me. I do remember that Abby got the Thai Basil Tom Collins, because it was super basil-y! And what I also know is that the bartender at Boda really did "craft" our cocktail. There was zesting happening. 

HOMEMADE CHIPS

The special "chips" of the night were pumpkin flavored, instead of their usual lobster chips. However, Abby and I were a little confused by them. They were satisfyingly crispy and crunchy, but the flavor was certainly not pumpkiny. I didn't like the taste much at all, though I kept finding myself reaching for more anyway.

KANOM-KROK QUAIL EGGS 

boda portland

Kanon-Krok are a traditional Thai dessert - essentially coconut-rice pancakes. They're made in a specific indented frying pan called a khanom krok pan- which is where the name comes from for this Quail Eggs dish. Each individual egg comes served in one of the pan's indented sections. 

These eggs were DELICIOUS though the concept of eating an entire egg in one swift bite took some getting used to. 

The whites were perfectly crispy and the yolk was just the right amount of creamy-drippy. Paired with scallions and soy sauce, these Quail Eggs had the perfect Thai flair to taste far from "just eggs."

BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Fried and seasoned, these were delectable. However, a lot of places do a similar serving of sprouts.

SHRIMP SKEWERS

Our unanimous decision was that these shrimp skewers, served with a spicy garlic lime dipping sauce, were the most flavorful dish of the bunch. I could have easily eaten 10 more skewers.

DESSERT

The last part of our Late Night Eats on Night #1 was a trip to the nearby gas station for a pint of Talenti . This was a fabulous decision despite needing to interact with some extremely inebriated locals. 

SATURDAY MORNING LONG RUN

Portland Maine Travel Guide
Running in Portland Maine

We headed out early for an 8 mile run and despite a few wrong turns at the start, ended up looping the scenic Back Cove.

At the end of our run we took a little break to check out an adorable farmer's market before a pretty brutal uphill climb to our Airbnb. We were short a few tenths of a mile, which, as Type A runners, meant looping the block a couple of times until we hit a nice even 8!

Portland Maine Farmer's Market

SATURDAY MORNING BRUNCH

Silly's  
40 washington ave.

Silly's Portland Brunch

With my appetite worked up (let's be real, I wake up with an appetite fully worked up regardless) we headed toward Silly's Restaurant for a good old fashioned brunch.

This place was an absolute hit with the group - the food was just greasy/diner-y enough to prepare for a day of brewery and bar-hopping but not too over-the-top for a group of girls who try to remain somewhat healthy.

The eclectic decorations perfectly toed the line between kitschy, cute and odd - hello Gingerbread man and woman salt and pepper shakers!

Though we passed on imbibing at Silly's they had killer Bloody Mary and Mimosa options. The weather was crummy, but on nice days they have an adorable outside seating area too. 

Silly's Portland

DEMI BACON BOWL 

We considered the "bowl of bacon" but the "serious commitment" menu description discouraged us. The smaller portion was still plenty and it was SO crispy without being burnt. 

BERRY ME IN IT 

This was a breakfast flat bread smothered in Peanut Butter and topped with sliced bananas, warm berries and pumpkin pie spiced granola. I don't think I need to say more. 

As a group, we agreed on the impossibility of deciding between sweet & savory at breakfast time - so this dish served as satisfaction for our sweet teeth!

THE EGGANATOR SCRAMBLE 

3 eggs scrambled with Silly's apple wood smoked pork, cheddar cheese, fresh tomato, bbq sauce, jalapenos and bacon with home fries. 

The best move of the brunch, in my humble opinion, was ordering a side of honey mustard for the home fries, which were more like beautifully crisped potato wedges. I pretty much drank an entire cup of honey mustard by the end of the meal. 

THE VEGANATOR SCRAMBLE 

The vegan version of scrambled eggs, this scrambled tofu was loaded with veggies like onions, peppers, mushrooms and broccoli along with more home fries, salsa and vegan spicy sauce. 

Silly's Brunch

SATURDAY MORNING STROLL 

We walked around a little to work off our brunch, stopping into some cute stores and bakeries as we we ambled around. Shoutout to Lori's Natural Market Place, for indulging these city-dwelling health food freaks who went up and down the aisles talking about different products without actually purchasing anything. 

Two Fat Cats Bakery
47 India Street 

We stopped in this shop that specializes in pies pies pies and ate with our eyes. 

Two Fat Cats Bakery Portland Maine

Standard Baking Co. 
75 Commercial Street 

This was an impressive bakery - they had TONS of different breads, pastries, cookies, etc. and it was packed with people. The best part? Free samples! 

SATURDAY AFTERNOON BREWERY-CRAWL

As I mentioned before, Portland is PACKED with breweries both big and small. There were a few that we managed to check out on Saturday - and while we could have spent dayssss brewery crawling, I think the amount that we fit into our schedule was perfection! 

Foundation Brewing Company
1 Industrial Way #5

Foundation Brewing Company

Foundation was my type of brewery! Flights, tons of IPAs and picnic tables - we happily posted up here for awhile and played a few card games while enjoying our brews. 

My favorite part was that to order your flight, everyone gets a cute little dry erase board and then your flight is filled in that order, so you always know which you're sampling!

Naturally, I chose 4 IPAs - the Epiphany, Venture, Afterglow and Wanderlust. It was interesting to see if I could tell the difference between a Maine IPA, American IPA and a "Hoppy Farmhouse." 

While I would have liked Foundation to have some board games, had the weather been nicer, it looked like they had a fun outdoor area with a food truck and corn hole. 

Foundation Brewing Company is open to the public Wednesday - Saturday from 12:00PM - 7:00PM, Sunday from 12:00PM-5:00PM and Monday from 12:00PM-7:00PM. They offer tastes ($2/4 oz sample and $4/10 oz sample), flights ($8/4x4oz flight), tours and growler fills. 

Foundation Brewing Company

Allagash Brewing Company
50 Industrial Way

Allagash Brewery Tour

Allagash Brewing Company is one of the largest brewing companies in Maine and specializes in wheat beers. Unlike the tasting room at Foundation, Allagash offers the full-on tour experience - for FREE! (They recommend reserving a tour ahead of time, which you can do on their website). 

Tours tend to fill up, so be sure to book yours in advance on their website. 

I really enjoyed this tour (although that could have had something to do with the fact that I had already enjoyed an entire flight of IPAs). 

Since it was Halloween weekend, there were candy buckets along the tour route along with a free sample of their top selling beer - Allagash White. 

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the Belgian-style wheat beer, which usually isn't my preference. 

The one thing that really excited me during the tour was our guides explanation of an experimental beer using CARROT SUGAR. I was a few beers deep, and audibly gasped while using my outdoor voice to announce, "I LOVE CARROTS!" I interpreted everyone's look of confusion as, "They must not have heard me," and again exclaimed, "Sorry, I just really love carrots!" 

Sadly, there was no carrot-sugar beer on the tour, and I spent the remaining half hour drafting a note in my phone with all of the beer-related puns I could come up with for future Instagram captions. I was absolutely cracking myself up with gems like

Sitting on the dock of the IPA 
Sippin' on Belgian and juice 
Yeast Mode 
Hoppy Campers

At the end of the tour we found ourselves in a room FILLED with barrels of beer. We got to try another 5 or so - but just a heads up - if you go on the tour, you won't be able to buy beer in the tasting room afterwards. Some law about how much they're allowed to serve you. 

The samples were delicious, though very rushed. 

On our way out, we noticed some signs saying  "Hot Chocolate" and "Donuts" - pointing the way to a creepy door. We naturally followed them, snuck into the door, and found ourselves in a haunted house-esque scenario. But despite the creepy mannequins and people dressed up like zombies, the promised donuts and hot chocolate were provided. 

We stocked up and made our way to the tasting room/entrance and the fact that we weren't allowed to purchase any more beer was A-OK with us considering we had a feast of donuts to enjoy. 

(Also, I couldn't figure out how exactly the bartenders in the tasting room would know we had been on the tour - I think you would be fine to buy a beer post-tour!) 

Shipyard Brewing Company
86 Newbury Road

Shipyard Brewing Company

We entered the Shipyard Brewing Company via the store and were immediately sucked in to their many glasses, stickers, koozies, bottle openers, etc. I ended up getting a glass that I absolutely love! 

Next we hit up the tasting room where I enjoyed a flight of fun-flavored beers with some fruity notes along with a super barrel-aged boozy beer. My favorite was the Little Horror of Hops. The place was hoppin', but I was sad that there were no board games! Luckily, I had come prepared with my own deck of cards.

If you're in town mid-week, Shipyard offers full brewery tours fo FREE and they include a flight and 10 oz beer. You should reserve ahead of time on their website.

Urban Farm Fermentory
200 Anderson Street 

Urban Farm Fermentory

When we'd had our share of beer, the tasting tour didn't have to come to an end because Portland is also home to a tasting room for kombucha, cider, mead and gruit (a beer style using little to no hops). 

The space was super cute, with couches that we got nice and cozy on. 

I absolutely LOVE kombucha, so it was fun to get to try inventive flavors. It was also my first time trying mead, which I didn't love. I did like some of the ciders, though! 

SATURDAY AFTERNOON SNACKS & DINNER 

Eventide Oyster Co. 
86 Middle Street

Eventide Oyster Co.

This is one of the most popular spots in Portland, and from my research, I knew to expect a wait no matter when we tried to get in. 

We opted for a very late lunch in the hopes that wait times would be lower, and it was somewhat successful. We waited around 25-30 minutes for a seat at the counter by the bar.

The reason I had insisted on waiting to eat here was for a taste of their famous lobster roll - a unique brown butter version served on a pillowy, buttery bao bun that melts in your mouth. 

Girls Weekend in Portland, Maine

I sort of expected to be disappointed by the hype, but was blown away by the flavor. Luckily, we had only ordered 2 to split among the four of us, otherwise I would have been tempted to eat 5. 

We also sampled the fried oysters with thai apple slaw, mint and tumeric but the lobster rolls were definitely the stars! 

Where To Go in Portland, Maine

I would say it was worth the wait, and recommend going during non-peak hours.

Union Restaurant
390 Congress Street

Sweet Potato Dessert

The great thing about being in Portland, was that we could afford a ~fancier~ dinner experience without breaking the bank. 

We were in love with Union Portland from the first time we saw their food on Instagram - and from the second Abby read about their sweet potato based dessert. 

Housed in the Press Hotel, Union Restaurant offers innovative American dishes using fresh local ingredients. 

Shaved Butternut Squash Salad 

Chopped Kale | Frisee | Pumpkin Seed Sorghum | Smoked Maple

Tasted just like fall! 

Crispy Brussels Sprouts 

Walnut Aioli | Charred Lemon | Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I've had better, but these were pretty flavorful.

Cast Iron Spoon Bread 

Pork Rillette | End of Season Tomato Jam Thyme

This was my first time trying spoon bread, and I was a big fan! Not really shocking considering the fact that I love cornbread! 

The rillette I was a little more iffy about. I don't particularly like my meat in paste form. 

Pork Loin Chop 

Cider Brine | Celery Root Fondue Brussels Sprouts | Chestnut Honey

Though we loaded up on appetizers and sides, we did split one of the entrees. We chose the pork because it didn't include any ingredients that people were opposed to. 

BOK CHOY 

Bok Choy | BlackVinegar | Soy Caramel

This was a little strange to us. 

SWEET POTATO ICE CREAM 

Molasses Cremeux | Brown Butter Powder Pate Brisee | Burnt Marshmallow

Abby, the sweet potato queen, was more than excited to find this on the menu. It didn't taste overwhelmingly of sweet potato, but it was deliciously sweet! 

CHOCOLATE AND ESPRESSO BAVARIAN 

Orange Fritter | Hazelnut Mexican Hot Chocolate Sauce Orange Powder

Union Portland Review

Chocolate overload in the best way possible! 

Another positive thing about Union was their cocktail menu! Delicious sounding drinks using some of my favorite flavor combinations like tequila, lime and ginger. 

The food at Union was solid and fresh and the atmosphere was nice. I will say that we were definitely the youngest clientele in the restaurant. 

Bonus? Before our reservation we got to watch a pretty crazy fire show outside city hall! 

Portland Maine Halloween

SATURDAY NIGHT CAP 

The Snug 
223 Congress Street

Each booth at this perfectly-homey-divey-feeling bar creates a private little nook which was a perfect way to end the night. This isn't a fancy place, but its a great place to low-key chill. 

And the beer list got a thumbs up from me - love Long Trail

SUNDAY MORNINGS = COFFEE & DONUTS (AND SMOOTHIE BOWLS...) 

Bard Coffee
185 Middle Street

Bard Coffee Portland Maine

Portland is packed with coffee destinations, and while it's not my specialty, I appreciated the tasty Americano and the vibe inside of Bard Coffee. It was bustling on a Sunday morning, the staff was friendly, and their espresso machines were just the right amount of intimidating to give them some serious coffee cred. 

Blake Orchard Juicery
19 Exchange Street

Blake Orchard Juicery

What better way to tell your body, "Sorry for all the beer" than a fresh smoothie bowl? None. 

We were so excited to find this spot and when we walked down the stairs into the somewhat hidden shop, we were greeted by an impossibly delicious sounding menu. How does one choose between so many options? 

There are tons of add-ins including housemade peanut butter, shredded coconut, bee pollen, grain-free-granola, hemp seeds, etc. 

The space was small but cute, with tons of little Polaroids and a couch to sit on while we waited for our smoothies. 

It took quite awhile to make the smoothie bowls, but when they were finally ready all was forgiven because they were beautiful and delicious. They were just the right consistency, filled with goodness like homemade almond milk and fresh fruit, and beautiful to boot. 

I also have an obsession with letter boards like the ones from Letterfolk that I included on my Holiday Gift Guide and thoroughly enjoyed using the one at Blake Orchard for a quick little smoothie bowl photo shoot. 

The Holy Donut
7 Exchange street, 194 park avenue 

Holy Donut Portland Maine

It's no surprise that I needed to make a stop at The Holy Donut to try their potato-based donuts. 

The line was out the door on a Sunday morning and the smell was heavenly. There were tons of choices, and luckily most flavors were still available by the time we arrived around 10:30 a.m. 

We tried a variety of flavors, including the one made with sweet potatoes! The sweet potato ginger glazed was unique but for the most part, you couldn't tell that the batter for these doughnuts used Maine potatoes! 

I thought they were delicious - not to mention really photogenic! We snagged a space along the counter and dug in! 

I was surprised at how delicious the dark chocolate Maine Potato cake tasted - especially topped with coconut! The Holy Cannoli filled doughnut was a sugar bomb in the best way, but the Chai was disappointingly bland. 

Overall, this donut shop impressed me- I would definitely make a return trip! 

Holy Donut Maine

SHOP TILL YA DROP 

You've had your caffeine, you've gotten some nutrients, and you've had your fair share of sugar - what's next? SHOPPING in the stupid-cute shops on Exchange and Market streets. Below are just a few that we stopped in - but you could spend hours wandering the shops! 

CHRISTMAS NOEL
57 EXCHANGE STREET

I got the world's prettiest avocado ornament here. I think Christmas ornaments are a great thing to collect on your travels. When you decorate your tree every winter, you can reminisce about all the places you've been. 

I might have failed at buying a Maine-related ornament, but I will certainly love my glittery avocado ornament for years to come! 

PAPER PATCH
21 Exchange Street

Pretty paper, pretty cards, pretty journals. 

ZANE
41 Exchange Street

Some cute women's clothes and accessories for decent prices. 

COASTAL MAINE POPCORN CO. 
43 Exchange street

SO MANY FLAVORS! And free samples, too! Of course, I had to buy myself a bag! I fell in love with the rosemary & thyme! 

CITY GIRLS GET OUTSIDE 

Portland Head Light and Fort Williams Park
1000 Shore road 

Portland Travel Guide

I remember this being a particularly pleasant Uber ride - though everyone we encountered in Maine was super friendly. 

We were like kids in a candy shop as we oohed and ahhed at the fall foliage. When we pulled up to Fort Williams Park and the Porland Head Light, we were beyond excited to get out and explore. We walked around the cliff, took tons of pictures, and eventually settled onto picnic tables where we were completely content to sit and stare out at the water - agreeing that all of our favorite places were near the water. For me, watching a sunset at Cedar Beach will always be my happy place. But looking out at Portland Harbor on a brisk but sunny fall day with friends was pretty high up on the contentment scale. 

bite into maine 
Various locations 

Bite Into Maine Lobster Roll

The satisfaction only grew when we stopped by the Bite Into Maine food truck - which we happened to catch on their last day of the season. Their lobster rolls are highly regarded one of the best in Maine, and we decided that even though we were full - we could manage to split one, New England Style of course. 

It was well worth the somewhat steep price for a few bites each because it was brimming with lobster and not overly doused in mayonnaise. 

Definitely the cherry on top of our trip to Cape Elizabeth. 

Bite Into Maine Portland

SUNDAY NIGHT DINNER 

Lolita
90 Congress street

Lolita Portland Maine

Our last group dinner was spent at a cozy little Mediterranean restaurant called Lolita, featuring a wood-fired grill that gives the entire space a warm, comfortable feeling. 

The menu was great for sharing and we got to taste a ton of different items. The lighting wasn't ideal for pictures, but was great for enjoying good food and good wine. 

Lolita takes pride on where they source their food from as well as simple preparation - letting the food speak for itself - my favorite part about the Mediterranean cuisine. 

TOASTS AND POTS 

We went for the 3 for $10 option on this portion of the menu, and I really enjoyed both the Tunisian Carrot Puree and the Roasted Eggplant. 

SMALL PLATES 

The Moroccan Lentil Soup with turmeric and cilantro impressed the group while the much anticipated Ricotta Gnocchi with poached carrots failed to live up to expectations. We also ate the Mezze Platter and I went HAM on the labneh. 

LARGE PLATES 

We also split the Grilled Game Hen served with Brussels Sprouts, sweet potatoes and chorizo and it was absolutely delicious! 

Portland Maine Travel Guide

DESSERT

This group of girls are never one to say no to dessert - and we ordered both the warm milk + house baked cookies and coconut pudding with pistachio which was, in my opinion, KILLER. 

To think, I used to hate coconut. 

SPEAKEASY SUNDAYS

BRAMHALL PUB
769 CONGRESS ST. 

Bramhall is just hidden enough to constitute as a speakeasy - though it's not too difficult to find. On our way there, we had a phenomenal Uber karaoke session before descending into this dimly lit space specializing in creative craft cocktails. 

While it took awhile for us to attract the attention of a custom-clad waitress (it was Halloween weekend, remember), the cocktails were flavorful and unique. I opted for the Satan's Lawn Chair - made with Tequila Blanco, Honeydew Melon, Genepy Des Alpes, Lava Tincture, Lime and Mint Garnish. 

Perhaps more impressive than the drinks are the daily homemade Rice Krispie Treat specials. They must have known I was coming, because the flavor of the night was peanut butter! We demolished this and I absolutely loved it - it was so light and somehow not overly sweet - while really tasting like peanut butter. 

MONDAY MORNING MILES

REVE Cycling Studio 
559 Forest Ave. 

REVE Cycling Studio Portland Maine

From our Airbnb, I was able to run to REVE Cycling and enjoy a class in this beautiful, airy and sunny studio. 

While the bikes weren't the newest things I've seen, the rest of the amenities were wonderful, the staff were friendly, and the class was refreshing return to spinning without all the bells and whistles of studios like Flywheel, Swerve, etc. Just cycling - plain and simple, which I can appreciate every now and then. 

After class, I ran around since it's the best way to explore a new place! I stopped at a bunch of stores as I went, including CHART Metalworks, also featured in my Holiday Gift Guide

I had such a nice morning slowing meandering my way around the east end and eventually back to my Airbnb - taking pictures and enjoying the sights and stores along the way. 

ONE LAST MEAL 

MI SEN NOODLE BAR
630 CONGRESS ST. 

Mi Sen Portland Review

I was on my own to explore on Monday, and after spinning and running around site seeing I had worked up quite an appetite. 

Not normally one for Thai food, I had a strange craving for noodles and made my way to Mi Sen on a whim. I ended up absolutely LOVING the Beef Khao Soi special that I ordered - a noodle bowl with the most tender meat I've ever had! [Slow-cooked beef in a rich and creamy curry served with egg noodle, garnished with crispy noodle, red onion, scallion, cilantro, lime and a side of pickled lettuce]. I ate every last bite along with the deep fried taro rolls which were delicious as well. 

Since eating at Mi Sen, I've had Thai about 6 or 7 times which is more Thai than I had ever previously eaten in my life. I definitely recommend a visit to Mi Sen, especially if you're in Maine during the colder months. It was so satisfying. 

LAST FEW SHOPS 

Travel Guide Portland Maine

Before heading out, I wandered the shops on Congress Street and actually liked them more than the popular Exchange/Market Street area. 

There were fun second-hand clothing stores, a store full of socks, and a used bookstore that I could have wandered around in for hours. The area seemed young and hip, and I was glad that I stumbled upon it before heading home! 

FINAL THOUGHTS 

I couldn't have asked for a more perfect weekend getaway from the city. There was great food, great drink and the great outdoors! 

I would definitely come back for another trip to this perfectly-sized city. 

What do I need to do next time I'm in town?? Leave your recommendations in the comments and let me know if you end up using any of my suggestions on your trip to Portland!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six Superfoods' Rise to Culinary Celebrity

I recently had the chance to guest write for the Rhythm Superfoods' blog. The topic was for me to choose, and as I thought about what I'd like to write, I kept coming back to the idea of a "superfood. "

We know that superfoods are, well, super, because of their next-level nutritional stats. But the protein content of Greek yogurt and the antioxidants in acai alone aren’t enough to catapult these health foods to mainstream fame. So how exactly did difficult to pronounce foods like quinoa and chia become trendy terms on every restaurant’s menu and everyone’s shopping lists?

Here’s the story of six superfoods’ rise to culinary celebrity! (You can read this over on Rhythm Superfoods' Blog as well, and check out their delectable snacks! They're one of the things I always have on hand for traveling!)

How Six Super Foods Got So Popular

1.) Kale

Kale is kalin’ it. “Kale Salad” is synonymous with healthy, delicious and trendy. But how did kale surpass spinach, chard and other nutritious leafy greens in popularityWhat started as a strange-looking garnish is now widely regarded for its high fiber, magnesium and folate contents.

In 1996, a poem dedicated to kale was published in the LA Times. After that, a slew of media “hits” by kale slowly introduced it to general public. This included a recipe by Martha Stewart, Whole Living dubbing it a “powerfood,” Gwyneth Paltrow making kale chips on Ellen, and in 2012 Bon Appetit named it “the year of kale.”

A fascinating article by Eve Turow of mindbodygreen traces kale’s rise in popularity to Oberon Sinclair - a PR professional who was dedicated to growing the green stuff’s reputation – going as far as creating the fake “American Kale Association.”

The stats are impressive. Kale sales jumped 50 percent in just 4 years! What a world we live in where we can eat kale brownieskale ice cream and of coursekale chips.

2.) Greek Yogurt

Just a few short years ago, Greek yogurt wasn’t exactly a highly-regarded dairy dish. Greek yogurt was seen as the chalky, chunky, thicker cousin of typical yogurt and people weren’t singing its praises.

But things started to change after Hamdi Ulukaya bought an abandoned yogurt factory in upstate New York and developed the recipe for Chobani – first introducing it to a small grocery store on Long Island in 2007.

Chobani quickly landed two national grocery store accounts (Stop & Shop and Shop Rite) and quickly captured the market. It’s thought that Greek yogurt first grew in popularity thanks to upper middle class women who thought that it was “purer” and “simpler” than regular yogurts – plus its exotic connection to Greece was appealing. Greek yogurt, the more expensive type of yogurt, was in some ways seen as a status symbol.  

Now, Greek yogurts like Chobani and Fage are the Greek Gods of ‘Gurt – sales have skyrocketed as people point to its higher protein content and more filling nature.

According to The Atlantic, in 2006, Greek yogurt was a $60 million industry in the United States. By 2011, it had become a $1.5 billion business. 

3.) Quinoa  

Quinoa Meme

Maybe you, too, mispronounced quinoa for a good long while before figuring out this protein-packed grains true name.

Quinoa hits a trifecta of health benefits that has helped it become a mainstream whole-grain.

1.     Quinoa is gluten free. For a few years now, sales of gluten free foods have been surging due to increased awareness about Celiac’s disease as well as the (widely debated) potential health benefits of a gluten-free diet.

2.     Quinoa is a nutritionally dense “superfood.” 

3.     Quinoa is a complete protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids.

Quinoa first started making its way into people’s vocabulary as far back as 1913 when The New York Times named it one of 400 “charming botanical strangers” that would be introduced to the US by the Department of Agriculture.

For a while, it remained hidden on health food store shelves. But in 2008, Oprah Winfrey ate quinoa as part of a 21-day cleanse. Around the same time, more mainstream stores like Costco, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods began to carry quinoa.

As quinoa imports began to rise, the United Nations decreed 2013 the “International Year of Quinoa.”

 

4.) Chia

How did chia go from sprouting in ceramic-character-shaped-containers for children to being a health-food staple?

An interesting case study from American Marketing Association looks at how this super-seed went “from pets to protein powder.

Marketing played a large role in making the public aware of chia seeds’ many nutritional benefits. They’re full of fiber, protein, antioxidants, calcium, phosphorous, manganese and omega-3 fatty acids. Joseph Enterprises first made chia seeds popular as the hair in head-shaped planters. The Chia Pet launched over 35 years ago but now, Joseph Enterprises also sells raw chia seeds as a health supplement.

A huge boost to the visibility of chia was the publishing of the book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall in 2009. The book explains that chia seeds were used by Mayans and Aztecs as a snack that sustains energy.

The Chia Co. was the first brand to reach those consumers who were interested in chia, but didn’t purchase the raw seeds because they weren’t sure how to use them. They created the Chia Pod, a pre-packaged chia pudding. More pre-packaged chia products continue to hit the shelves, including Mamma Chia’s bottled beverages, bagged granolas, and pouched chia “squeezes.” 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia is now a booming business in the US and now included on many mainstream menus and on grocery shelves in many prepackaged products– used in pudding, crackers, cookies, cereals and more.

5.) Acai

Acai berries are vibrant little guys hailing from Brazil. The Global Healing Center lists 12 major health benefits of acai berries – among them, heart health, skin health, immune boosting, and improved mental function.

The “acai bowl” trend started in places like Hawaii and California, where acai berries were used as a smoothie-like base and topped with granola, fruit and other toppings to create highly-Instagrammable breakfasts.

But there’s more to the story if you do some digging. How did acai bowls get from Brazil to the US? According to an in-depth article by The New Yorker, it was all thanks to two brothers, Ryan and Jeremy Black and their friend, Edmund Nichols, who first experienced an acai bowl on a trip to Brazil and vowed to bring the trend to the States. They went on to become the founders of Sambazon – which now produces a variety of acai products.

It wasn’t easy to introduce a difficult-to-pronounce berry from the Amazon jungle into the food-vocabulary of always suspicious consumers – but after being featured in the best-seller “The Perricone Promise: Look Younger, Live Longer in Three Easy Steps” and a spot on Oprah, the Black brothers were in business and soon Sambazon was being featured in People magazine.

6.) Beets

Who would have thought that beets – a bulbous root – would become so popular? But here we are, with beet references abounding in popular culture. Who remembers the cartoon Doug and the rock band, “The Beets” performing “Killer Tofu?” And who doesn’t know that Dwight Shrute from The Office is a beet farmer? A trendy tee shirt reads, “Beets Don’t Kale My Vibe.”  

And according to an article from The Daily Meal, beets were the hippest food of 2016.

Low in calories, sodium and fat, beets are high in nutrients like folate, manganese and betaine.

And as Rhythm Superfoods knows – beets make great chips! It’s the newest snack in their line-up of famous superfood snacks!  

 

8 Products I Kind of Hate

For the longest time, I was convinced I was going to be the next Ben Brantley. Don’t know who Ben Brantley is? Not shocking. He’s the theater critic for the New York Times – and as a journalism major in college, that was my dream. Being paid to enjoy and write about theater all day? Sounded like livin’ to me.

But the more I wrote, the more I realized, “My reviews don’t have a whole lot of criticism in them, do they?” In line with my personality my reviews tended to focus on the positive aspects of a production while shying away from negativity. That’s when I realized my writing might be better suited for public relations.

Where am I going with these saga about my changing career goals (spoiler alert: I now work in event operations – doing a whole lot of things that I didn’t learn about in college)? I’ve started to think that people may be experiencing a similar phenomenon while reading my blog. Thinking to themselves, “Wow, she just really loves every restaurant, every workout, and every health-food she tries!”

And while I do think my reviews are honest – and I try to point out the pros AND cons – there are also things that I try that I dislike and therefore, I’m not excited to write about them on my blog. Those misses often go un-noted while I rave on about the hits. Until now.

Here are some things I’ve tried and given a THUMBS DOWN. Keep in mind - many of these are great companies with a large offering of products. Plus, everyone's taste buds are different! Don't let this stop you from giving them a try and coming to your own conclusions!

Healthy products i dislike

1. Evian Water

That may sound odd – how can bottled water be bad? But when I made my Facebook status about my distaste for Evian, I was shocked when tons of people chimed in and agreed with me!

Something about it just doesn’t taste refreshing – it’s got a strange cloudy feel to it.

I’ll stick with NYC tap water or some Poland Spring, thanks!

2. Revive Kombucha

Revive Kombucha Review

I am a HUGE kombucha fan (which is why I eventually started brewing my own – it’s an expensive habit)! I love GT’s, enjoy Health-Ade and have pretty much been happy with each of the other brands I’ve sampled.

One day, I picked up a bottle of Revive Kombucha at the store because I thought the bottle was cute. To my dismay, it tasted like vanilla extract! I love kombucha for its tart, acidic taste – and this was totally NOT that.

Revive reached out on Instagram, which I appreciated, but after a second taste this month – I must say, I really dislike this product.

3. Papaya & Cantaloupe

Sorry, nature – I’m just not feeling these fruits of the earth!

4. Primal Strips

I actually reallllllly like jerky, and I’m all on-board the “meat protein bars” (LOVE Epic bars). But vegan jerky? Sorry, nope – not feelin’ it. I tried Primal Strips one day at LaGuardia airport and was pretty grossed out, actually.

5. Bare Cinnamon Banana Chips

Yes, I ate an entire bag. But that’s only because I didn’t have any other options for something crunchy and sweet! I didn’t think these were very good.

6. Rhythm Superfoods Kale Chips

I looooove their kale and broccoli chips – but their roasted kale was very disappointing. It’s more of a consistency problem than a taste problem- they’re way too crumbly - but I would never buy them again!

7. RX Bars

This might be an unpopular opinion, since I know tons of people who love these bars, but I was very unimpressed! They were very bland, in my opinion and I didn’t love the texture. I like my bars to have some crunch to them.

8. Big Slice Apples

This was another snack that I picked out to try from LaGuardia airport. It was very odd, to say the least. It was difficult to eat, goopy, and just a very weird product. 

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

#SquashGoals - Your Guide to Winter Squash

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

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

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

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

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

#SquashGoals

1. Kabocha Squash

AKA: Japanese Pumpkin

Characteristics:

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

Flavor:

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

Nutrition: 

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

Interesting Fact About Kabocha Squash: 

In some cultures, it is revered as an aphrodisiac! 

Recipe: Kabocha Squash Pudding

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

To roast kabocha squash, follow these easy steps

2. Butternut Squash

AKA: Butternut Pumpkin 

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

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

Characteristics: 

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

Flavor: 

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

Nutrition: 

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

Recipe: Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

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

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

3. Acorn Squash 

AKA: Pepper Squash or Des Moines Squash 

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

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

Characteristics: 

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

Flavor: 

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

Nutrition: 

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

Recipe: Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

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

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

4. Spaghetti Squash 

AKA: Vegetable Spaghetti 

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

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

Characteristics: 

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

Flavor: 

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

Nutrition: 

1 cup of spaghetti squash contains around 42 calories. 

Recipe: Garlic Spaghetti Squash with Herbs

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

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

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

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

5. Delicata Squash

AKA: Sweet Potato Squash 

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

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

Characteristics: 

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

Flavor: 

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

Nutrition: 

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

Recipe: Pesto Delicata Squash Quinoa Bowl

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

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

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

So pretty, right?

So pretty, right?

A Few More Things About Squash

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

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










Iron Chef Forgione Welds Familiarity and Originality

To step into Iron Chef Marc Forgione’s namesake restaurant is to be immediately transported out of Tribeca and into a space reminiscent of a twenty-something’s Pinterest page, where rustic barn weddings are all the rage. A dining room as open as Marc Forgione’s is rare in a town where diners are forced to convince themselves that crammed is “quaint.” The spaciousness suggests that your bill will be helping pay the rent, but it’s worth it for the rustic-chic accents and possibility of brushing shoulders with a Tribeca denizen like Beyoncé or Taylor Swift. What also makes a trip to Marc Forgione’s worth the extra dough? Refined dishes with complex flavors and service that make you feel like a somebody, even if you’re not quite sure what to do when they present you with a finger bowl.

First to be brought to the table were a pair of perfectly puffed potato rolls, butter-glazed and gleaming with a sprinkle of black sea salt on top. They’re best when cut open and smeared generously with the whipped chive butter.

Complimentary bite-sized samples were small in size but big on flavor. Smoked halibut’s bold taste was toned-down nicely when sandwiched between two crisp slices of cucumber and warm everything bagel balls filled with vegetable cream cheese were topped with the perfect pop of salt and onion.

Despite possessing what I consider a sufficiently sophisticated palette, I have yet to reconcile my taste buds with truffles. It was refreshing to see an upscale restaurant with a menu almost entirely void of these trendy fungi. Forgione doesn’t lean on this over-used ingredient to create enticing dishes full of flavor. Instead, he relies on his training in American, French, and Asian cuisines to craft an inspired 

menu made up of basic but expertly employed ingredients.

The Chili Lobster starter is fashioned after an Asian crab dish which Forgione takes to the next 

level. Sweet lobster knuckles and a rich creamy claw sit atop a spicy chili broth with hints of both 

Sriracha and soy.

You’re left wishing there was more lobster to bathe in the broth, but luckily the thick slabs of Texas 

Toast are a perfect vehicle for sopping up the remaining soup.

A cornerstone entrée at Marc Forgione is the made-for-two Chicken Under a Brick. The whole Bell and Evan’s chicken is served deboned in a skillet sizzling with pan drippings and demanding to be Instagrammed.

The chicken is moist with sufficiently crunchy skin and accompanied by Yukon potatoes cooked to crispy perfection. The spuds soak in savory pan drippings that are flavored with capers, butter, thyme and rosemary. The greasy goodness is healthified with some greens –broccoli rabe with a bitterness that’s nicely undercut by the surrounding flavors. Last but not least are the fried onions which add the extra oomph.

There’s something on the menu to appeal to every person in your party but limited enough to ensure it’s perfected. Starters range from Kampachi Tartare to Parmigiano Reggiano Agnolotti while entrees run the gamut from scallops with bone marrow croutons to a well-touted T-bone.

Surrounded by exposed brick and well-worn décor, a meal at Marc Forgione feels special yet comfortable and encourages one to stay for a few extra minutes, finishing a cocktail and being treated to next-level services like a coat check for your leftovers. That’s right, when you’re here, you’re too special to have your table cluttered by a take away bag.

Marc Forgione

is located at 134 Duane Street and serves dinner from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday– Saturday with brunch on Sundays from 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. followed by supper from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 212-941-9401.

Friday Funk

Happy Friday to y'all!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's what it had:

Peppers

Carrots

Sundried Tomatoes

Plum Tomatoes

Olives

Feta

Cucumber

Chick Peas

Sprouts

Spinach

Balsamic Vinegar for dressing 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I really enjoyed writing Wednesday's post

and was happy with the feedback!

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

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

arunnarounddlife

Just The Elevator Pitch 

The Real Life RD

In It For the Long Run 

Any other favorite blogs I should check out? 

Resetting for Fall

All I want for Christmas is to not feel so damn unhealthy! Ever since I left for my work trip at the end of May - it's been a whole lot of false starts getting back on the healthy train. Which was fine for making the most of summer. But for the next 95 days (that's how soon Christmas is, crazy huh?) I'm attempting to chillll on the all you can eat dinners, fancy and indulgent restaurants (unless they're healthy...) and beer guzzling nights. 


(Normal for the past few months)

(Oops)

I may be sad to say goodbye to summer, but with the fall season I'm welcoming weekends spent running and immediately snuggling back into bed. Weekdays where an outdoor happy hour isn't tempting me after work. 

Some things I really want to focus on are drinking more water! And cutting out fake sugar - I am addicted to aspartame and I know it's SO BAD. 

MORE VEGGIES! Yes I eat a ton of carrots and avocados, but I need to be better about broccoli and string beans and spinach and all that good stuff. I'm a fruit girl. And eating a lot of fruit is fine, but it's a ton of sugar. And it's not that I don't like vegetables, so I should definitely make the fruit to veggie ratio a little more even. 

Less alcohol. Sadly, it needs to be done. And no, "I'll just have a few glasses of wine." No, I need to learn to go out and confidently hold my glass of water with lemon, still having a great time. Or, you know, more Netflix dates. 

Stop eating so late at night! I have a really bad habit of eating dinner around 8:30 every night, sometimes as late as 10 if I wait until the end of a shift at the running store to eat dinner. No more! It always leaves me super hungry in the morning.

As I sit here at my desk snacking on dry Special K cereal - I know this is the BIGGEST habit I need to break. Not as much snacking! And NO BUYING CEREAL AND GRANOLA! It is way too easy for me to not even realize I'm eating an entire box of it in 2 days when it's sitting at my desk. 

So to kick things off this week- 

Breakfast was some Chobani yogurt with pecans, half a banana and chia seeds to keep me full longer! 



I may have also snacked on some Special K - once the box is gone I'll be better, promise ;)

Lunch was a Juice Press protein shake. The. best. flavor. 




Pre-running store snack was a huge, juicy Gala apple and Spark! There were a bunch of free samples of Spark in our work pantry one day and I actually love it - I actually notice that I have more energy after drinking it. 

For dinner I made myself a delicious salad FULL of greens. My problem with salads is they usually end up a total mish mash of random ingredients. I guess that's not really a problem but Sunday night at the grocery store I tried to pick a theme for my salad - Asian! Mmmm. 

Spinach
Broccoli
Snow Peas steamed with Bragg's Liquid Aminos and Chili Flakes
Avocado
BABY CORN
Cashews
Annie's Lite Gingerly Vinaigrette 




It turned out so good! And there's definitely something to be said for not just tossing a ton of random crap in with your spinach. 

When I got home at 10:30 I knew I should eat, but I was HUNGRY. So instead of grabbing chocolate, which is what I really wanted, a made a bowl with frozen banana slices, a scoop of peanut butter, a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of cinnamon. It totally hit the spot and got rid of any dessert cravings, plus filled me up! 




Today, I also finally checked out Vitacost - a website so many fitness and health bloggers I follow use to buy their healthy kitchen staples. 

Living in Manhattan, I was definitely pleasantly surprised by the prices! For sure cheaper than Fairway, Whole Foods, Morton Williams, etc. 

Here's what I ordered: 

1) QuestBars - Double Chocolate Chunk
These are my favorite. I eat them as dessert or breakfast - heated up in the toaster oven. I've been eating them for about 3 years, but recently they've becoming SUPER popular - 7 Eleven even sells them now if you want to try all the different flavors instead of ordering a box of just one kind - but you do save money buying them in bulk! They're full of protein, low on carbs and sugar, under 200 calories, and delicious. They totally fulfill my sweets cravings without making me feel guilty. 


2) Bragg Premium Nutritional Yeast Seasoning
I've been meaning to pick up a container of this for awhile now - ever since Rebecca used it in delicious spinach dip and Kayla used it to season roasted cauliflower! It makes things taste super cheesy - without using cheese! 


3) Vitacost Peanut Butter SLIM
This is essentially a generic brand of PB2 powdered peanut butter, which I used to use CONSTANTLY and have been meaning to restock in my cabinets. I mainly add it to my oatmeal or smoothies instead of spoonfuls of actual peanut butter because it's literally half of the calories and still tastes great. We'll see if this brand is a good substitute for PB2! 


4) Let's Do Organic COconut FInely Shredded Flakes (Unsweetened)
I used to hate coconut, but now, it's nice to add some shredded coconut to my oatmeal, chia seed pudding, yogurt and smoothies! 


5) Desert Essence Natural Tea Tree Oil Facial Cleansing Pads
I've been hitting the gym a lot during my lunch breaks to do my Kayla Itsines circuits (yay, 30 minutes and done!) - and don't always have a chance for a full on shower afterwards, usually just a rinse. I don't want that to translate into awful breakouts - so I thought I would give these a try - seems easy enough to toss the container in my backpack and use them to wash off my face after each workout. 


Item(s) Ordered Qty. Price Discount Total
Quest Nutrition QuestBar Protein Bar Double Chocolate Chunk -- 12 Bars1$ 24.99  $ 24.99
Item No: QST 9000241
Bragg Premium Nutritional Yeast Seasoning -- 4.5 oz1$ 5.59  $ 5.59
Item No: BRA 5066054
Desert Essence Natural Tea Tree Oil Facial Cleansing Pads - Original -- 50 Pads1$ 5.39  $ 5.39
Item No: DES 4220406
Vitacost Peanut Butter SLIM(tm) Powdered - NON-GMO - Gluten Free -- 6.5 oz1$ 3.25  $ 3.25
Item No: VCT 7019670
Let's Do Organic Coconut Finely Shredded Flakes Unsweetened -- 8 oz1$ 2.29  $ 2.29
Item No: LSD 2005203


Can't wait for my goodies to arrive :) 

One thing I was thinking of ordering but held off on is a protein powder to use in smoothies- any recommendations out there? 

If you click this link and make an account on Vitacost, you'll get $10 off your first order! STOCK UP! 


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. 

Restaurant Review: Libertador

For months, Peter and I have passed Libertador in Yorkville and thought that it looked super cute. It's always full of people, and has a really nice outdoor seating area with a spacious dining room and bar. 

On Sunday, when my parents came in for a quick day visit, we stopped by for brunch. Despite an iffy forecast, it had turned out to be a wonderful morning to spectate at the Fifth Avenue Mile and remained nice for brunch al fresco. 

Libertador is an Argentinian restaurant - but don't let the ~ethnic~ name scare you off! There's something for everyone on this menu. 

We started by sampling four different empanadas, one of my mom's favorite things! None of us were very impressed with the beef saltena empanada, but the ham and cheese, chicken and potatoes and black bean and mozzarella ones were delicious! I liked that they weren't just giant fried blobs. The casing was doughy with a crunch - and they didn't skimp on the fillings. 




I went the brunch route, ordering poached eggs over asparagus with hollandaise sauce and a side salad (instead of the fingerling potatoes that it usually comes served with). Not anything life changing, but solidly tasty. 


(Simple yet satisfying) 

My mom ordered a salad - which they offer many varieties of. You can add steak, chicken or tuna to any of the salads, which is definitely what I would do if we go back for lunch or dinner one day. 

Mom's salad was the Mozzarella and Avocado Salad with tomatoes, black olives, and grain mustard in white vinegar olive oil as the dressing.  




My Dad ordered meatballs (see, I told you they have everything) and Peter got a prosciutto and mozzarella omelet that was BURSTING with meat and cheese. 

I'd also like to give a shout out to Libertador's cocktail menu - I ordered a drink that was St. Germaine, White Wine, fresh mint, and a bunch of fruit. It was super refreshing! 

If you're a Brooklynite, Libertador has another location in your borough

Though not particularly inspiring, Libertador was a solid choice for brunch, and may be worth a return visit to check out their lunch and dinner entrees - if only for the nice atmosphere!

After our meal we walked off the full-ness through a street fair on 3rd Avenue! I'm going to miss these summer weekends with good weather and fresh air :( 


(Thanks for checking out the hood with me Mom and Dad! And I promise you'll get to go to Heidelberg some day dad - in the winter!)

Restaurant Review: Two Hands

Last weekend, I convinced Peter to journey to Little Italy to get breakfast (ok, it ended up being lunch) at one of the places on my bucket list. 

Sure, I could have gotten an acai bowl at Juice Generation on the Upper East Side - but traveling to different neighborhoods in search of new food is fun to me. Plus, we ended up finding ourselves in the middle of the San Gennaro festival, which was fun to wander through for a little while. 

(Obviously needed a picture with this awesome street art that we passed!)

Our destination was an Australian Cafe called Two Hands, located on Mott Street. Two Hands is my favorite type of place. Small, healthy, with a great atmosphere and attention to presentation. These people know how to plate a meal to make it Instagram worthy! And like many places on my bucket list, I discovered it through Instagram. Mouthwatering pictures of fresh fruit, perfectly captured yolk porn and carefully crafted cappuccinos are what convinced me that I needed to make a visit. 

(So damn trendy. Look at all the basic b's brunchin')

Unfortunately, though expected, there was a solid 40 minute wait for a table. We opted to place our order at the To Go window. 

The salads on the menu made a really strong case for straying from my original craving for an acai bowl, but in the end, I stuck with my gut. Their acai mix includes blueberries and bananas with cocoa and acai powder and almond milk. It was topped with all the yummy goodness you could ask for - granola, hemp seeds, chia seeds, coconut, cacao nibs, blueberries and raspberries. I also tasted some dates in there! 

The wait wasn't long at all, and soon enough my to-go cup was placed on the counter. Everything was super flavorful, and I was able to taste each other the ingredients. 



Peter ordered a slice of the banana bread topped with fresh ricotta (so creamy) and honey. 

(I didn't get a picture of Peter's banana bread - so here's another picture of my acai bowl!) 

The menu is jam packed with options - and I'm pretty sure I would like every single one of them! From Avocado Toast to smoothies and corn fritters. Depending on the season, the salads and soups change to include the freshest ingredients. 

"Good Food by Good Dudes" is the restaurant's motto. I love looking at the menu and seeing so many nutritious, fresh meal options! 

Where did the name come from? They explained in an interview with Eat Boutique that: 
The name was originally inspired by Heath Ledger’s first film by the same name. The initial appeal came from both the film and Heath being Australian, without it being too obvious. Heath was inspirational to both of us, in his acting career and in his vision to open Five Leaves in Brooklyn, which we both love so much. But even beyond that, we felt that it had so many meanings; you use your two hands to create things, and that’s what we did with the cafe. It also represents the handshake that started this business and the many high fives we’ve given each other during this crazy process.
More and more Australian Cafes are popping up around NYC, and if you don't believe me you can read this New York Times article about it! Bluestone Lane, Little Collins (highly recommend!), Brunswick and Toby's Estate just to name a few! 


(My sister and I ate at Little Collins last year and absolutely loved it. In this pictures is the Avocado Smash (avocado and FETA smash on toast with chili flakes and pepitas!) and the Big Dill (cured salmon, scrambled eggs, dill, mascrpone and chives)

Two Hands features a tribute to it's owners' homeland with the Outback Cap - a cappuccino with cocoa powder dusted espresso served with chocolate-covered Tim Tam Cookies!

So basically, I would recommend Two Hands for breakfast, brunch, lunch OR dinner if you're looking for a ton of healthy options and you're okay with getting it to go (though later in the day the wait may not be as long!) It's not necessarily worth the 40 minute trip from the Upper East Side, but if I ever find myself in the area again, I would certainly stop by to try something else from the extensive menu. 

Review: Blue Apron!

For WEEKS I have been trying to successfully receive my free trial box of Blue Apron Delivery (thanks, Tina!) 

The first two times my delivery was supposed to come, it never showed up! I was convinced it was stolen from the lobby of my building. 

Luckily, both times, Blue Apron Customer Service was phenomenal - putting a new credit on my account so I could try again. 

Well it turns out I had the wrong address inputted into my account settings, and someone at that address received two complimentary Blue Apron deliveries. Oops! 

But before I figured that out, I had changed my address to have the third box delivered to me at my office. It arrived, and it was embarrassing. A giant box with giant ice packs filled with food that I had to take out and refrigerate in the tiny little pantry refrigerator. I then transported all the ingredients back home over the course of two days. 

So - the moral of the story is this:
1) Make sure you have the right address in your account. Duh, Lauren.
2) Blue Apron Customer Service is wonderful
3) Probably best to have the delivery sent straight to your apartment 


I was amazed at how well organized and labeled the shipment was. There's really no way to mess this up. 

(Everything in its own little package with labels!)

The first night I got home and realized I had failed to bring ANY of the tomatoes home with me (the featured ingredient in all three recipes). 

Luckily, they weren't really necessary for two of the recipes, so I powered through without them. 

First up were the Thai Chicken Burgers with Hoisin Mayo & Roasted Potato Wedges. 

Each meal comes with a recipe card with a lovely description of the meal, a list of the ingredients (and calories per serving), and step by step directions (with pictures!) 




Of the three meals, Peter and I liked this one the best. The hoisin mayo was tasty and there was a lot of flavor to the burger. Looking back, I probably would have made three patties with the meat instead of 2 - the burgers were huge! 


(Thickest burgers ever!)

That night, I also whipped up the Crispy Catfish & Freekah with Corn-Cherry Tomato Saute and Marjoram so that Peter and I would have meals ready to go on Wednesday night - he was heading home to Long Island to feed his kitty and I had work at the running store. 


(Just an excuse for Leo to make an appearance on the blog)

While making crispy catfish sounded intimidating, it was surprisingly easy! They forgot to send me the recipe card for this - but all of Blue Apron's recipes are online as well so I just looked it up there. 

My Corn-Cherry Tomato Saute was just corn saute, and I discovered that I DETEST the taste of marjoram. You know how some people CAN'T eat cilantro? I was immediately repulsed by the taste of marjoram and had to pick every piece out of my Tupperware. 



Other than that, it wasn't the best meal ever, but it was definitely better than a pita, hummus and an egg which is probably what I would have thrown together otherwise. 

The last meal included in this delivery was Seared Steaks with Romesco Sauce and Roasted Potatoes. Peter helped me with this one - we discovered that finely chopping roasted veggies into a sauce consistency is very time consuming and that leaving it chunky tastes just the same ;) 




Another cool feature is that people comment on all the recipes with tips - and after perusing them, I noticed a lot of people saying to go light on the sherry vinegar, which I did. 




This was my first time cooking steak - it was definitely a little tough but I'm not sure if that was just the pieces of meat they gave us, or my lack of skill. 

Again - my mind wasn't blown away by the taste, but I definitely enjoyed it! 


(My favorite part were the crushed pistachios on top! My not favorite part was attempting to chop the pistachios without them shooting off the cutting board and all over the kitchen. Proper nut crushing technique - help?)

Final thoughts: 

-I'm not going to tell you to milk the system, but...when I signed up, I was given three codes to give friends free meals - you can definitely use another email address to make a new account and I plan on sending one to Peter so we can use them. 

HOWEVER - you need to stay on top of this. Once you make an account, Blue Apron automatically schedules deliveries. You  need to actively go on and skip deliveries in order to avoid charges. 

Each delivery of 3 meals (with 2 servings per meal) is $60. When you think about it, that's $10 per meal, which really isn't awful! 

-I originally thought I would use Blue Apron during busy weeks when I didn't feel like thinking of dinners. But after trying it - I would definitely not suggest Blue Apron on a busy week. It's time consuming to cook all of the meals! Not overwhelming, but definitely more enjoyable if you don't have to rush around. That's how I did it, and I made a complete mess of my kitchen (not to mention a LOT of dirty dishes to clean). 

-I love knowing exactly what I'm putting into my dinner. And not going to lie, knowing the calories is a good thing too. It helped me decide if I really needed to eat alllll the potato wedges. All the fresh, real ingredients are the way I like to eat. 

Plus, there's no doubt it makes you feel like you have your shit together when you sit down to eat a meal that you cooked that has fancy names like "Steak Romesco." 

"NBD, whipped up some Crispy Catfish and Freekah for dinner." "My laundry is overflowing and I desperately need to clean my room, but my Thai Chicken Burgers were really bangin'."

-Make sure you have olive oil! It's the one thing included in the recipes that Blue Apron doesn't provide you with. 

-I've heard that if you select the vegetarian option, you end up getting a lot of pasta based dishes. 

-I love that you can look at the weeks ahead and see what the three meals are before deciding if you want them delivered or not!

I know there are a ton of other services like this out there - I'm curious, has anyone tried some of them other than Blue Apron? What did you think? 

Happy cooking!

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. 

Sushi For Days

One of my favorite things, besides peanut butter and besides froyo, is sushi. 

So naturally, when there was a Groupon for ALL YOU CAN EAT sushi on the Upper East Side - I told Peter he better buy one and come eat endless raw fish with me. Luckily, he agreed. 

Typically, the deal at Chinatown is $33 for all you can eat sushi and a little more expensive for the all you can eat and drink option. Our Groupon was AYCE + 3 drinks (wine, beer or sake). 

From what I gather, the place is pretty raucous on the weekends. But Peter and I went on a Tuesday night and it was pretty empty. 

I was kind of overwhelmed by the fact that the AYCE options don't only include sushi, but include Chinese dishes like General Tso's Chicken, egg rolls, dumplings, fried rice, etc. 

But you are quickly given the "rules" of this AYCE experience - and those rules include being charged for any food leftover on your plate at the end of the night. Including rice. 

While Peter and I joked around about just taking whatever we didn't eat into the bathroom to flush it away - I do see where the restaurant is coming from. With big groups of people, the waste could get a little out of hand. 

We started with an order of pork dumplings and there were SO many. Already we weren't loving this "no leftovers" rule - we wanted to save room for the main event - sushi! But the peanut sauce with these dumplings was STELLAR. We actually used it later on for dipping our sushi into - since the one dumpling we knew we would have to finish eventually sat there. And sat there. They definitely weren't going to clear it, and they were definitely going to charge us for it unless we ate it. Ugh. 

After the dumplings we moved onto sushi - ordering one at a time from the specialty roll menu to pace ourselves. I loved that some of their rolls were out of the ordinary - not just "spicy salmon" and "California roll."

First I tried the Spicy Yellowtail roll because it came with cilantro and jalapeno! 

Peter's first choice was the Sexy Roll - shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, topped with white tuna and avocado! The shrimp made it soo sweet and delicious. 

Next I got t he Spicy Salmon Roll - standard crunchy salmon with avocado on top - because when  you're eating all you can eat sushi - why not splurge and go for alllll the tempura




Peter got the Amaebi Roll - Spicy crab and crunch inside with sweet shrimp and avocado on top. The name kept reminding me of the little girl in the movie Signs who says, "Morgan took a sip and it's got his amoebas on it!" Anyone, anyone? 

Usually, I claim that sushi never fills me up, I can eat it all night. And typically, I can eat 3 or 4 rolls no problem. Seriously, ask my parents, they're always in awe of how much sushi I can eat. 

But Peter and I were both slowing down so we decided to split one more roll and order an eggroll because I reallllly wanted one. 

The eggroll was an eggroll. You basically like it for the fried outer part dunked in duck sauce. They may as well leave out the cabbage filling. 

The last roll we split was the Dancing Mango - lightly fried white fish, mango inside and topped with kani and tobiko. Kani = crab meat and tobiko = the little crunchy fish eggs! 

We left the restaurant stuffed to discomfort - as is typical for "All You Can Eat" affairs (see, Fogo de Chao). 

I would definitely recommend this place, if only for the hugeee variety of things you can order! 


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
Ice 





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. 

Rolling for Roots Hummus

Luckily, the week following "One of Those Weeks," was a lot better. 

I got in all my workouts (I'll fill you in on what's been going on in that world coming up soon!) before work, which is always a victory! 

I've returned to working two nights a week at the running store for their busy pre-Marathon days, which is where I spent Monday and Wednesday evenings after real work. 

Tuesday night, I got together with Melissa and Laura to catch up and make a delicious meal! 

Melissa ordered a lemon herb whole roasted chicken from Munchery -which was delivered right on time! So convenient - I definitely plan on using them with the coupon Melissa sent me! We slathered on the glaze and popped that baby in the oven! 

Meanwhile, we prepared some string beans which we later let soak up some of the chicken juice/glaze that was left in the pan. 

We also put together a delicious quinoa salad with some kale/spinach, blueberries, nectarine and peppers and onions - again, topped with garlic aioli mustard sauce/olive oil dressing (I'm kind of obsessed). 



We finished up with some homemade cookies courtesy of Laura! All in all a very successful night.

Thursday morning, I lost my cell phone. 

It was a morning spent cursing my stupidity, calling Verizon, panicking, and ultimately reactivating an old iPhone 4 which is killing me softly with it's inability to use most apps since it doesn't support their updated versions. I could file an insurance claim and get a new phone for $180 OR I could wait it out with an iPhone 4 until NEXT MAY! Currently, I'm trying to grin and bear it - but I know that won't last forever and eventually I'll end up filing a claim. 

Luckily, that night I got to relax and try a free class at Pure Yoga called Yamuna Rolling. It wasn't so much a yoga class as it was a 75 minute rolling session - using these little plastic balls of varying size and density. They were a lot more forgiving than the grid foam rollers I'm used to - but it was very helpful to have an instructor go through each body part, giving it the proper time and movements necessary to loosen things up. And heck, rolling takes a LOT of core work. I felt like I was in a plank for half the class. 




While everyone around me was shocked at how effectively the rolling was loosening them up - I, as usual, felt that no amount of rolling could crack the conundrum that is my knotted, cranky calves, hamstrings, hips, glutes and shins. Wah. 

At least I could end the day knowing that I gave my body a little TLC. 

And, as always, Pure Yoga wins at being a gorgeous studio. 




As I was walking into my class, I noticed a table set up with my all-time favorite hummus! Free samples of Roots hummus made my night. 

Usually, when I read about "all-natural" "all-organic" blah blah products - I don't care as much as I probably should. Sure, I like healthy things. Sure, I love me a good vegan and vegetarian restaurant. But in my day to day life, I have had to admit that I am not perfect, and I am not rich - and I eat things with ingredients that I cannot pronounce. 

But with Roots hummus, you can TELL that this stuff is the real deal, made with real ingredients, and real good for you! 

They have some incredibly unique flavors, all of which were there to sample at Pure Yoga. I was super excited to try some that I hadn't been able to find in stores before. 

I let the sales rep know I was a fan, and let her know the nearest store to the studio so she could let people know when they stopped by the table. ( I immediately used my coupon to pick up a container on my way home from class!) 

I am a big fan of the Thai Coconut Curry and the Roasted Red Bell Pepper (SO fresh tasting). There's also Lima Bean and Mango Sriracha along with some other flavors. 

The company is based out of Asheville, North Carolina - and they've dubbed themselves the "microbrew" of hummus. Love it. Though on the pricey side at $3.99 for a container, I definitely recommend you check them out! 




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. 

(Talent.)

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. 

(Zen)


Then, we decided to head back. 

Uh-oh. 

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. 

'Merica. 

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: 

Lettuce
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 :)