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Dec 302015
 

Each December, I like to take some time to reflect back on the highlights from the year (here are my highlights from 2013 and 2014, which are fun to look back at!).

This year was another amazing one for me, and I had so much fun putting together this post of my top 15 memories from the year. I had a lot of pretty big milestones this year, which I made sure to include in my list. Without further ado, here’s a countdown of my top 15 moments of 2015!

15. Having a membership with ClassPass. Although I dabbled with ClassPass late last year, I really got into it more this spring and definitely took full advantage of it. For most of the year, I worked my way from studio to studio and took a ton of different fitness classes. I discovered a lot about myself through this process, and got a lot more comfortable trying new workouts on my own. I also fell head-over-heels in love with spinning, which I never would have expected! I didn’t wind up running much this year (no races at all!) but that was ok since I was getting fit in a new way (also recovering from foot surgery, which I’ll talk more about below). I’m hoping to run more races in 2016, but I’m also not going to be upset if I don’t. I’m just doing what makes me happy right now!

14. Taking care of my health in important ways. This year I did two big things to take care of my health, and not in the usual eating well/exercising ways. First, in January, I had surgery on my foot to correct a painful bunion I was born with. I always knew I would need the surgery someday, and I’m glad I got it out of the way this year so my foot won’t hurt me again.

Of course the surgery itself was definitely not a highlight of the year, but having a fully functioning foot that allows me to live my life pain-free is.

Plus I got to look like a pirate on a peg-leg for a month or two, so that was cool. 😉

Then in July, I got Invisalign to straighten out my smile. I had relatively straight teeth before, but I wasn’t really happy with how my teeth were moving around and I felt like the few crooked ones were getting more and more noticeable. I decided to bite the bullet and pay for the treatment, and by the end of November I was smiling with straight teeth!

Yay!

13. Spending a fun weekend with friends in the PoconosThis was just one of those weekends that I look back on and can’t help but smile. I remember finally being out of my boot post-surgery, and just being so happy to spend so much time with good friends.

I’m going to be seeing a lot of these faces again for New Years, and I’m so excited!

12. Traveling to Colombus, Ohio, for Eric and Lyndsay’s weddingThis wedding felt like a mini-vacation, and Fabio and I had a great time exploring the new-to-us city and hanging out with friends we don’t see very often. The wedding guests included some of our best friends from college (mostly from Fabio’s fraternity), and it was so much fun reuniting with them.

11. Moving to DC. Of course this list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning our move from Arlington into DC! Fabio and I lived in our Arlington apartment for 3.5 years, so this was a big switch for us! We love our new apartment a lot, even though of course there are things about Arlington that we miss.

Our kitchen right after we moved in!

Our bookshelves right after we moved in!

Things look a little different now than they did in these pictures, but it’s fun to see how it looked right when we moved in!

Of course, having our friends Megan and JR over to help us empty out our liquor cabinet before moving was definitely a highlight too. 🙂

This of course brings me to…

10. Our housewarming partyHaving so many of our best friends come over to help us celebrate our new apartment was such a blast!

This was definitely one of my happiest days of the year. 🙂

9. Spending a holiday weekend in NYCSpending a weekend in early December with some of my best friends was such a blast! From walking around Central Park to grabbing a beer at Rolf’s to taking pictures with the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, we had such a nice weekend together.

8. Aunt CC and Uncle Steve’s wedding in Otis, Mass. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while then you already know how much Fabio and I love going up to my Aunt CC and Uncle Steve’s lake house in the Berkshire mountains, and this summer we got to go up to celebrate their wedding!

The wedding itself was so sweet, and I loved having so much of my family in one place to celebrate this important milestone for CC and Steve. Like usual, we kept the party going late into the night and we all had such a blast! I’m so lucky to have such a wonderful family. 🙂

7. Visiting Catrina in San Diego. Another highlight from the year has got to be visiting Catrina in San Diego! (You can read part 1 of my adventures here, and part 2 here.) From visiting the zoo to day-drinking to taco Tuesday to CrossFit to runs on the beach to watching Food Network marathons on the couch, my time with Catrina in San Diego was an absolute blast!

6. Megan’s surprise bridal BBQ and bachelorette weekendAh, of course I couldn’t leave these out! The events leading up to Megan’s wedding were so much fun, and I felt so incredibly fortunate to see all of my best friends from college so many times this year. These pictures bring the biggest smile to my face!

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I <3 these ladies.

5. Going to Jamaica for Alex and Diane’s weddingNot only did Alex and Diane have an amazingly beautiful wedding in Jamaica, but getting to spend so many days in the sunshine with their family and friends was such a blast. Before this, I never really understood why people had destination weddings – personally I wouldn’t want to have a wedding somewhere too far away for some guests to come – but after going to their wedding I totally get it. We got to spend five days getting to know Alex’s family and Diane and Alex’s friends, so by the time the wedding rolled around I felt like we were one big happy family. I had so much fun, and am still so thankful to Diane for inviting me to stand by her side on her special day.

4.  To continue on the wedding theme, next we have Megan and JR’s weddingMegan is the first of my very best friends to get married, and having so many of my favorite people all in one place had me smiling from ear to ear the whole day. Megan’s wedding was so much fun, and I remember feeling so sad when it was over. Once again, I have to thank the beautiful bride for allowing me to stand with her on her special day!

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3. Visiting friends in Amsterdam and ParisI have to say our trip to Europe was probably the biggest highlight of my year. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have been able to travel to these amazing cities to visit our friends!

A big thank you to Jess, Erick, and Bryan for having us!

2. Exploring Belgium (Ghent, Brugge, & Brussels). While of course Fabio and I had fun checking out Amsterdam and Paris with friends who live there, we had a lot of fun exploring European cities on our own, too! Neither of us really had any expectations for Belgium, so we were floored when we realized how awesome it was. I’m pretty sure I ate a waffle every day we were there, and considering all the beer we drank in Belgium I’m surprised I didn’t come home 10 pounds heavier. We had such an amazing time in this country, and I would recommend it to anyone who’s planning a Eurotrip!

And the number one highlight goes to…

1. Drinking champagne in ReimsFabio and I both agree that spending a day drinking champagne in Reims, the capital of the champagne region in France, was one of our favorite moments of the year. We just had such a nice day and wound up having the perfect amount of sweet bubbly, and then explored the town of Reims and its amazing cathedral afterword. It was just such an amazing day!

Alright, since you made it all the way down to the bottom of this post, how about just one more highlight from the year?

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………..

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That’s right – on Christmas Day in front of our entire family, Fabio asked me to marry him. Of course I said yes!!

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I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with the person who makes me the happiest. Here’s to a fun 2016 with lots of wedding festivities to come!

Wow, what a year, huh?

Question of the day: Tell me your favorite memory from the year.

 Posted by on December 30, 2015
Dec 252015
 

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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May your holidays be filled with lots of love, laughter, joy, and peace. From my family to yours, happy holidays!

 Posted by on December 25, 2015
Dec 222015
 

Hi friends! I’m definitely in the holiday mindset today and am having trouble focusing on much of anything right now – much less a cohesive, well-planned blog post – so let’s just get random today, shall we? Here are some of the things on my mind!

1. Yesterday I went to another amazing spin class at FlyWheel. I know I’ve said it before, but I really love going to these classes at 6:00 am. They wake me up and energize me for the day!

Yesterday’s class was taught by Stephen, my favorite barre instructor, who recently starting teaching wheel classes too. His class was awesome, and I’m happy to report I was in second and third place on the fly board during most of the class. Woohoo! I always feel so accomplished when that happens – probably because it usually doesn’t. 😉

At the end of Stephen’s class, he played this song from the Prince of Egypt, since it’s a good movie for both Christian and Jewish folks with the holidays approaching. Was anyone else obsessed with that movie as a kid?

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I can distinctly remember going to Blockbuster and always wanting to rent that movie, even though I had seen it a million times. I’m not sure why my mom didn’t just buy it for me; we had just about every other Disney movie there was and I watched them on repeat for pretty much my whole childhood. Can you tell I was an only child and got bored a lot? 😉

Other childhood favorites (other than obvious ones like the Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Lion King) were Homeward Bound and Anastasia.

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I can still quote (and sing!) almost every line from Anastasia.

That and Titanic. Seriously, I know every word to Titanic. It’s sad.

Moving on!

2. Something is going on with the people who live above us, because for the entire weekend they were stomping around. We can’t tell if they had family over for the holidays, were babysitting, recently got crutches or what, but it was incredibly annoying all weekend. Fabio and I aren’t ones to complain – we’ve been responsible for our share of noisiness as well – but then yesterday when we got home from work things changed.

When we got close to our front door, we noticed there was broken glass all over our doormat and by our front door. When we opened the door, we saw that the light fixture above our entryway had fallen down and shattered into a million glass pieces because of all the stomping upstairs. UGH. This was the last straw for me, and I sent Fabio upstairs to see what the deal was. While I swept and vacuumed up the mess, he knocked on the door of the folks upstairs, who didn’t answer, despite him hearing someone walking around. Grrr.

I think we’re going to try knocking on their door one more time tonight, and then will probably need to file a complaint when we tell our maintenance folks about the broken light fixture. How annoying!

3. Last night (after cleaning up the mess from the broken light) Fabio and I headed out to City Tap House in Chinatown for our friend Chris’ birthday dinner. I’d say there were about 15 of us there in total, and it was really nice to catch up with everyone before the holidays.

For my meal, I ordered the fish tacos made with skate.

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You may remember I really wanted to try shark tacos when I was in San Diego, and although skate is not the same as shark, I was still excited to try it. It was delicious! I would definitely get it again. What a fun dinner!

3. Last night Fabio and I opened a Christmas gift early. We were going to wait until Christmas, but we just couldn’t! The gift was from Aunt CC and Uncle Steve, and Fabio and I agreed that they always give the best presents. He got a gift certificate to a golf store (which he was SO excited about) and I got a gift certificate for two months of ClassPass!! I also got some other goodies like a S’well bottle, two headbands, and some Kate Spade earrings.

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We are definitely spoiled. Thank you, CC and Steve!!

5. I’m getting a manicure and pedicure later this week, and I’m trying to decide what color to get on my nails. Last year during the holidays I got a sparkly gold color because I thought it would be versatile from Christmas to Jamaica to New Years. Now I’m trying to decide if I should get that again or go with something more traditional like red. What do you guys think?

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I also haven’t gotten my nails done near our new apartment yet (there’s a place near my office I’ve been going instead) so if you have any recommendations for a nail salon in DC I’d love to hear them!

P.S. I just looked back at my post from this time last year to find the picture of the gold nail polish, and I saw that it was another post called “Tuesday Things” posted on Dec. 23. It also looks almost identical to this post. I guess I’m a creature of habit?

6. I also saw in that old post that I talked about Serial, which reminds me that I haven’t talked about it yet this season. So, for those who are listening, what do you think? Personally I am having a hard time getting into this new season, and I keep zoning out during the episodes. It’s still early though, and I’m sure I’ll keep listening. I also like that the topic coincides with current events. What do you guys think?

7. This week is going to be super busy for me; today is my last day at work and then Fabio’s dad comes into town early tomorrow morning. He will be staying with us for a couple of days, and Fabio’s family will be joining mine for Christmas festivities this year, which I’m really excited about. 🙂 It does, however, mean LOTS of traveling from one place to another, so we’re going to be driving around a lot on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We’re also going to Atlantic City with some friends for New Years Eve right when we get back from Jamaica, so we have to really plan out how we’re going to pack everything. Phew! There’s so much to do!

Alright friends, that’s all I have for today. I’ll pop in on Christmas Day with a nice holiday picture of Jack, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to check in again this week. We shall see!

Questions of the day: What were your favorite childhood movies? Have you ever had to deal with annoying neighbors?

 Posted by on December 22, 2015
Dec 212015
 

Hi friends! Wow, I had a fun weekend. Did you? It sure went fast though! Here are some highlights.

Friday

My office had a holiday lunch combined with a secret santa gift exchange on Friday, and we all got to go home afterword and spend the afternoon finishing up Christmas shopping, holiday baking, or whatever we needed to do. Sweet!

Our lunch was held at Silver in Bethesda, a cute American restaurant with a nice farm-to-table philosophy. Check out all the farms they work with!

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Our table wound up sharing a few appetizers including hummus and flatbread, wings, and brussels sprouts. Yum!

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For my entree, I chose the warm roasted local veggie salad with salmon. It was so delicious, and I had a hard time putting my fork down once I got full.

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All in all, everything we had at Silver was great, and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a nice place to eat in Bethesda!

I spent the rest of the afternoon getting some chores done around the house, and then later in the evening Fabio and I joined Anne and her husband Matt at Penn Social for a holiday party with our favorite gym, Urban Athletic Club!

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It was so nice to spend some time with Anne in something other than workout clothes! I think that’s only happened one other time in the year or two since we’ve been friends. Crazy! It was nice to have the boys with us as well; they’ve met a couple of times and get along really well. So fun!

I also really enjoyed getting to talk to Graham – the owner of UAC who ran us through that tough workout last week – candidly about what we are loving about the gym and what we think could use some improvement. It’s nice to know that he values our opinions!

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After playing a few rounds of shuffleboard – and getting our butts kicked by Anne and Matt – we called it a night. What a fun Friday!

Saturday

First thing Saturday morning, I drove over to Tyson’s Corner for a family shopping trip! This year for Christmas, my mom took my stepsister and I each shopping for whatever we wanted (within a specified budget, of course). Considering we are leaving for Jamaica in six days (!!) we both got new dresses to wear on our trip. Thanks, mom!!

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When we were done shopping, we all sat down to lunch at Legal Seafoods, one of our favorite spots. I <3 their bread.

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I ordered a pot of mussels, which were pretty good but not totally amazing. The bread soaked in that sauce though? Ok, that was amazing.

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After lunch, I drove over to Germantown for an afternoon of gingerbread-house-making with Bianca and Hana, two of my best friends from home (we missed you Sam!).

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This is the fifth year we’ve all made houses together, and I’m happy our tradition is still going strong. Plus, we’ve accumulated quite a bit of candy over the years. Check out the spread!

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After snacking on a veggie tray and sipping some sangria that Hana had made, it was time to get started!

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Hana went all-out on her house this year, thanks to some inspiration from Pinterest. Her roof wound up being a little too heavy for the walls, so we got creative with some celery to make some temporary support pillars. 😉

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It actually worked really well, and helped her roof stay in place while the icing dried. Success!

All finished! Can you guess which one is mine?

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The one with a separate house for Jack, of course!

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I even “drew” him on with icing on the back. 🙂

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Such a fun Saturday with friends!

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Sunday

Sunday was little more relaxing, and I slept in (until like 8 – I can’t sleep in much later these days!) before meal planning and hitting up the grocery store.

Then the afternoon was filled with lots of baking! I bought these cute little holiday treat bags to fill with homemade cookies and candies for our coworkers. (Fabio requested a bag for himself too. Haha!)

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Each bag included two sugar cookies (this recipe)…

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One chocolate chunk cookie (unpictured – whoops – this recipe), and two homemade caramels!

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The caramels are my mom’s recipe, and they always remind me of being so excited for Christmas and snacking on caramels while watching the Grinch. This was my first time making them, and I think they turned out great! Let me know if you’re interested in the recipe and I’ll share it – it’s not healthy at all but it sure is delicious!

Question of the day: Do you think Jack will eat my gingerbread house while I’m at work? Yes or no? 😉

 Posted by on December 21, 2015
Dec 182015
 

Hello, hello! Is everyone excited for the weekend? I have a few fun holiday activities on the agenda, so I’m obviously pumped! Is today over yet?

Before we can get to the weekend fun, let’s take a look back at my workouts this week. I had some really good ones, and I am feeling the effects of them today. I’m actually pretty sore!

Monday

I worked from home on Monday since Jack had an appointment with the vet, so I slept in later than usual and then took Jack on a short (2ish mile) run. It was nothing crazy, but it got me moving which was nice! I haven’t been running much at all lately – I’ve been trying to make the most out of ClassPass since it’s so expensive – so whenever I can hit the pavement with my furry little guy it makes me happy.

Tuesday

Tuesday morning kicked off with a 6:00 am spin class at FlyWheel!

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I’m so happy that FlyWheel classes are on ClassPass because I absolutely love them! There is nothing better than sweating my butt off while zoning out to awesome music. I get so much energy and a surge of happy endorphins when a song with a great beat comes on, and we’re told to sprint our fastest. It’s the best!

I also love that the room is really dark so I don’t have to worry about how my sleepy eyes and messy hair looks at 6:00 am. It’s definitely a perk.

Tuesday’s class was with Richard, and although I’ve taken his class before, I found this one to be really challenging for some reason. Phew! It was a tough one.

Wednesday

On Wednesday morning I actually went back to FlyWheel, but this time for their FlyBarre class with my favorite instructor, Stephen!

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Stephen is just the best and I love his fun playlist and awesome energy. Of course, he kills me with his tough barre movements, but that’s what he’s supposed to do, right? He wound up pushing us through some really intensive inner and outer thigh work – ugh – but he had a great “Let it Go” remix from Frozen playing with a fast beat, so I was happy.

His arm sequence was also really tough, and I was proud of myself for sticking with my heavier set of weights for the whole thing and not dropping down. BTW, it’s crazy that the “heavier” weights were only three pounds, and my lighter set was only two! Barre weight training is just so different from any other type, and all those micro-movements really get you in the end!

Thursday

On Thursday, I joined my friends Anne, Kathleen, and Karen for a fun workout at our favorite spot, Urban Athletic Club!

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This week Graham taught our class, which was nice since I hadn’t taken one of his classes in months. I feel like his classes are a little more strength-focused, whereas our other favorite instructor, Teisha, tends to incorporate a little more cardio. Both instructors are awesome, and it’s good to switch things up. 🙂

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For Thursday’s workout, Graham had us moving from station to station and completing exercises like shuttle runs, push-ups, pull-ups, pistol squats, frog jumps, bear crawls, tricep work, goblet squats and more. Phew! It was a tough one!

For our “half time” exercise, Graham taught us how to do “Turkish get-ups,” which I had never tried before. They were pretty tough and I’m not sure I got the hang of them 100%, but it was good to practice! We wound up recreating part of the move in our group picture above. 🙂

As for today, I was originally planning to take another 6:00 am spin class – this time at Zengo – but last night I was feeling pretty sore and tired so I decided to make today an impromptu rest day. Waking up super early every day takes a lot out of you, and sleep is important too!

I’m thinking I’ll try to squeeze in another workout of some sort – either a run or a class – sometime this weekend, but we will see what happens. 🙂

Question of the day: Do you like taking structured classes or are you more of a do-your-own thing person?

 Posted by on December 18, 2015
Dec 162015
 

Have I mentioned that in 10 days, I’ll be on the beach in Jamaica?

Yep, just like last year, Fabio and I will be joining my mom, stepdad, stepsister, and her boyfriend for a fun family vacation in Jamaica the day after Christmas. Bring on the sunshine! 🙂

Have I also mentioned that my life has been inundated with delicious holiday treats? I’m sure yours has too. The problem here is that a bikini + lots of holiday treats don’t really mix well. Sigh.

Luckily, I have what I think is a pretty good approach to balancing the two, so I wanted to share it with you today in case you are battling a similar situation.

Load up on the good stuff / Eat healthy when you can

Since I know I’ll be bombarded with lots of sugary, buttery treats this holiday season, I’m trying my best to load up on the healthy foods whenever I can. To start with, I made an extra delicious batch of fresh juice this week (I really missed not having it last week!) and have been once again starting my mornings off with plenty of nutrients.

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I just feel so much better when I drink a glass of fresh juice in the morning, especially if it’s after a particularly tough workout like you see here. (Psst…keeping up my workouts is another big part to staying balanced during the holidays, but I’m planning to spend today just talking about food.)

Another good thing about the fresh juice is that it keeps sickness away! Seriously, ever since I started drinking fresh juice back in January, I’ve noticed that the only times I got sick this year were when I wasn’t keeping up with the juicing. I don’t think that’s a coincidence!

Plus, even though I know this isn’t true, I feel like I could convince myself that drinking juice from all those veggies first thing in the morning basically cancels out any sugary treats I might consume later on. No? Ok. Either way, I’m still a huge fan of fresh juice!

I’ve also been loading up on healthy foods with my lunches, which have primarily featured gigantic salads.

I like to make my salads with lots and lots of veggies, that way I feel nice and full when I’m done eating (full stomach = less likely to binge on holiday treats). I don’t think there’s such a thing as a salad that’s too big; as long as you’re not loading it up with too much of the less healthy add-ins like cheese, dressing, etc. I say the bigger the better!

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Also, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while then you’ll know that I almost always include some type of grain – either brown rice or quinoa – in my salads for more texture/sustenance. This is actually something I’ve been cutting out this week in an effort to shave off a few extra calories. When I’m trying to watch my weight, I think of my calories like spending money while managing a budget: I only have so many to spend each day. While normally I don’t mind “spending” calories on a healthy grain, I know that when there are delicious holiday treats laying around I’d rather save them for that. Maybe that’s not the “healthiest” mindset to have, but it’s what’s working for me right now.

And, while I do really enjoy having a grain in my salads, I still find them to be pretty darn delicious even without it. Clearly. 😉

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I’ve also been making an effort to lighten up our dinners when meal planning lately. Of course I always try to keep our meal planning menu pretty healthy, but sometimes leftovers, cravings, lack of time, and other factors get in the way of that. This week is no exception – there are few days where we have fun holiday plans – but for the days when I will be home and cooking dinner I’ve tried to keep it light.

I even tried a new recipe that Catrina recommended: Spaghetti pie made with spaghetti squash and chicken sausage!

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It might not look like much, but it was seriously delicious and it was something I could feel good about eating while trying to watch my weight. Definitely try this one!

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Decide what to indulge on

In my opinion, the most important thing about practicing balanced eating during the holidays is to eat healthy when you can, and indulge when you decide it’s worth it. I am not one for skipping out on treats – hello, this blog is called Chelsea Eats Treats for a reason – but I do believe in picking and choosing the type of treats to indulge on.

For example, yesterday morning my office building held a free breakfast for tenants in the lobby. Knowing that there would be plenty of bagels, muffins, and pastries that – let’s face it – probably wouldn’t taste super amazing, I opted to eat a normal breakfast at home before coming in to work. Then, when my coworkers headed downstairs to get their free food, I joined them and made a simple plate of fruit and skipped the carby options. Perfect!

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On the other hand, one of our vendors sent us a giant box of Cheryl’s cookies, and I remembered from last year that the vanilla cookies with buttercream frosting were quite delicious. Obviously, I decided to indulge in one!

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Another example? My mom’s cinnamon rolls over the weekend.

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She doesn’t make these all that often, and I know they are always going to be incredibly delicious. Worth a splurge!

When I’m trying to decide what to eat and what to skip, I try to imagine how good it’s actually going to taste, and how I’m going to feel after eating it. I also try to think about how I’m going to feel in my bathing suit in 10 days, which is an added reminder to only splurge on what I really want (this could also work for certain jeans you’re trying to fit into, a New Years Eve dress, etc.).

Then again, this is the holiday season and the most important thing is to enjoy yourself! If it means eating a sugary, buttery treat, then by all means, do it!

Chances that I eat another cookie today? 100%. 😉

Question of the day: How do practice balanced eating during the holidays?

 Posted by on December 16, 2015
Dec 142015
 

Hi friends! How is everyone doing today? I had a really nice weekend, but man did it go quickly! I guess that’s what happens when you’re having fun, right? Anyway, here’s a recap!

Friday

On Friday night, Fabio and I joined a few of our neighbors/friends for a holiday happy hour that our apartment building hosted at Union Social, a new bar down the street from us. All residents from our building were treated to one free holiday-themed drink. Fun!

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After our free drink, our group headed over to Old Engine 12, the firehouse restaurant in Bloomingdale, for dinner. It opened up right around the time we moved to the area, but Fabio and I had never had the chance to go. It was very festive with Christmas decorations, and I loved that they kept a lot of the old firehouse details like the fireman’s pole! I started off with a Moscow mule, my current favorite drink. 🙂

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My for entree I chose the “eat your greens” pizza, which came with broccoli rabe, spinach, kale, and a few other greens. It was delicious but it could have used some protein – I was only able to eat about half at the time, but wound up being hungry later in the evening.

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After dinner we headed to our favorite local watering hole – Boundary Stone – for one last drink, and then we called it a night. We were in bed by 10:00 which my idea of a great Friday night. 🙂

Saturday

On Saturday morning we were up bright and early to meet my dad and stepsister for a fun volunteer event: Wreaths Across America!

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In case you’ve never heard of it, Wreaths Across America is an organization that donates holiday wreaths to veteran cemeteries to carry out their mission: remember, honor, teach. The biggest cemetery they donate wreaths to is Arlington National Cemetery – which is where we went – but apparently they donate wreaths to veteran cemeteries all over the country. What a great initiative!

Fabio and I have wanted to volunteer for Wreaths Across America for the last couple of years, but there’s only one Saturday in December to volunteer, and for whatever reason we’ve always had other plans that day. This year we were thrilled to see that we’d be in town for the volunteer date, so we recruited my family to join us. 🙂

Fabio and I opted to take the metro instead of driving, which was a good idea since my dad said traffic getting up to the cemetery was miserable. The metro wasn’t much better – it was running on a slow weekend schedule and it was PACKED!

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Even with all the crowds, we made it over to the cemetery by around 8:15 am without any problems. Once we arrived, we waited for all the trucks carrying the wreaths to arrive. It was a bit of a production; check out all the people waiting on top of that balcony!

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Soon enough, we could see the police escorts coming down Arlington Memorial Bridge with the trucks behind them.

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There they are! We counted twelve huge trucks like this – sheesh! That’s a lot of wreaths (apparently there were about 150,000 donated). All of the drivers were super friendly and would wave to the crowd and/or honk their horns. 🙂

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Then some bagpipe players led the way to the trucks, where we would each pick up our wreaths.

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After waiting in line for a while, we got our wreaths!

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Our little group then walked around and decided where to lay our wreaths. While obviously every single grave was deserving of a wreath, we wanted to find people who had passed away recently so we could send photos to their families of the wreaths on their tombstones.

We found some people who had passed on recently, but when we looked closer, we realized they were more than 90 years old and had served in WWII. Wow!

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Eventually we found some tombstones that we thought would work, and we laid our wreaths down.

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Overall it was such a nice morning, and I’m so thankful that my dad, little sister, Fabio and I were able to get out and volunteer our time to this amazing cause. I felt privileged to be able to honor all these soldiers who gave their lives for us, and I definitely got a little teary eyed when I saw families sitting around a particular tomb stone for someone they obviously loved very much. It’s opportunities like these that make me remember how lucky I am to have the wonderful, free life that I do.

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By the way, my dad was able to research and contact all of the families of the veterans who we laid a wreath for, and I’m hopeful someone will respond! To find out how you can help Wreaths Across America, click here.

The rest of the afternoon was spent cleaning up the apartment, and then, since the weather was absolutely gorgeous, Jack and I went for a run to the dog park.

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The weather was so warm – about 70 degrees – this weekend! It didn’t feel much like Christmas, but it was beautiful nonetheless.

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Later in the evening, Fabio and I enjoyed some homemade pizza and festive Christmas drinks.

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After dinner we sat down to write out our Christmas cards! Obviously we listened to Christmas songs while we worked. 🙂

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It was a very relaxing (and festive!) Saturday evening, and I was once again happy to be in bed by 10:00. 🙂

Sunday

On Sunday morning I drove over to my mom’s house for more holiday fun! We started the day off with my mom’s homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast – YUM!

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We snacked on cinnamon rolls while we decorated the Christmas tree!

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My mom’s tree is smaller than usual this year, but we decided we actually like it better that way because you can see all of our favorite ornaments better.

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I think it turned out really nice!

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Once we were done decorating the tree, we drove over to the Olney Theater to meet my stepsister, Maggie, for a showing of the Nutcracker!

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It’s become a tradition for us ladies to see the Nutcracker together every holiday season, and this year’s show did not disappoint!

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We had a great time and absolutely loved watching all the talented ballerinas tell the familiar story of the Nutcracker. What a fun afternoon!

The rest of the evening was spent meal planning and grocery shopping for the week.

Phew! What a fun but busy weekend!

Question of the day: What’s one of your holiday traditions?

 Posted by on December 14, 2015
Dec 102015
 

Hi friends! It’s been a while since I’ve written a Day in the Life post, so I thought I’d share one today. Here’s a look at yesterday, which was a typical weekday for me!

5:15 am: Alarm goes off. Today’s workout starts at 6:15, not 6:00, so I got to sleep in 15 minutes later than usual. Score! Snooze.

5:20 am: Ok. Time to get up. UGH. Throw on workout clothes, brush my teeth, and put my hair in a pony tail. Put Jack’s leash on and a coat, and head out the door!

5:40 am: Come back inside from walking Jack. I hate walking him when it’s cold and dark out. The fact that it’s so early doesn’t help; there’s no one else outside to say hello to and no other dogs to sniff. At least my podcasts keep me entertained. Feed Jack, fill up a water bottle, check that there’s water in the Christmas tree (that thing is a camel!!), and head out the door. Drive to today’s class, which is in Georgetown. Listen to Christmas music on the way so I can wake up. 🙂

6:10 am: Attempt to parallel park. Succeed…this time.

6:12 am: Arrive at the studio; today I’m taking a Metabolic Resistance Training class at Definitions with my friends Anne and Kathleen. Anne and I love this class, but Kathleen had never taken it before. We were excited for her to try it out! 🙂

We spent the next hour rotating among three stations, and completing a bunch of different exercises at each one. Some of the highlights included rowing, kettlebell swings, box jumps, wall balls, and frog jumps. There were a lot more too! The variety kept the workout interesting, and before you knew it we were all a sweaty mess.

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Love this class!

7:15 am: Rush home. Hop in the shower. Enjoy a delicious breakfast of Quaker Oatmeal Squares, Kashi Go Lean Crisp (the cinnamon flavor), milk, and a banana.

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Fabio eats a bowl with me and we watch the Today show. The Kashi cereal was a new purchase, and it’s been a delicious addition to my bowl. Yum. No fresh juice this morning, because we didn’t get around to making any this week. Womp womp.

8:15 am: Finish getting ready, and wait for Fabio to put on his shoes, coat, etc. etc. etc. Every morning he seems to take longer and longer to get out the door, and it’s now to the point where I will get his cell phone, wallet, keys, and headphones organized while I wait for him. Haha! Kiss Jack goodbye, and head out the door.

8:25 am: Walk to the metro with Fabio. I tend to use this time to remind him about things we have coming up or ask him about what’s going on with his schedule. Yesterday’s conversation involved when we were going to schedule our vet appointment for Jack and whether he plans to volunteer at the University of Maryland this weekend. It’s an exciting life we live, people. 😉

8:35 am: Kiss Fabio goodbye and hop on the metro. (He goes one way and I go another.) Read my kindle (I’m reading After You by Jojo Moyes) and realize I’m at the climax of the plot. I got totally sucked in by what happened, and almost missed my stop. Whoops! Listen to a podcast while I walk to the office.

9:00 am: Arrive at work, and drink a mug of hot green tea. Lately I’ve been using the cute “C” mug that my friend Jess got me for Christmas last year. Having a special mug makes me so happy.
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12:30 pm: Work, work, work all morning. Take a break to eat lunch: leftover cabbage kielbasa soup that I had in the freezer (unpictured), plus a blueberry Chobani.

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It had been forever since I’d eaten a Chobani – I got kind of sick of them a while back – and I forgot how delicious they are. Yum!

1:00 pm: Take a walk over to CVS with a few of my coworkers to pick up stamps for this year’s Christmas cards! They came out so cute and I can’t wait to mail them out. It was cold and foggy out – gross – but it felt good to walk around.

3:30 pm: After working through the afternoon, I took a break for a snack: half of a CLIF bar. Love those things.

5:00 pm: Time to go home! Woohoo! Walk to the metro with one of my coworkers, and talk to him until we get to my stop.

5:30 pm: Stop to pick up a package from our concierge on my way inside; we ordered a lot of stuff online in the last week so I’ve had to stop to pick up a package almost every day! Arrive home (the Christmas tree is still standing. Phew!), leash up Jack, and take him for a walk while talking to my dad on the phone. I let him run around off leash in a small field behind our apartment, but as soon as he started charging toward a raccoon that was near some trash cans (!!) I put him back on the leash. Nope, I am not dealing with that today.

6:15 pm: Take Jack inside and change into comfy PJs. It was cold out, so I grab some extra cozy ones. 🙂 Start working on this blog post.

7:15 pm: Fabio comes home (he went to a work happy hour today). I reheat a slice of quiche for both of us.

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7:30 pm: We settle in to watch an episode of Sons of Anarchy while we eat dinner. We were actually in the process of watching this show back in January, but we called it quits after I started having nightmares. This show is so good, but SO gruesome! I haven’t had any nightmares since we picked it back up, and I’m crossing my fingers that it stays that way!

8:30 pm: Put dishes away (hooray for an easy clean up!) and finish this post.

9:30 pm: Head to bed early to watch Cutthroat Kitchen, Shark Tank, or some other crappy TV. 🙂 Goodnight!

Question of the day: What “crappy” TV shows do you watch?

 Posted by on December 10, 2015
Dec 092015
 

Hello, hello! How’s everyone doing today?

I had a really nice day yesterday, as I took some time off from work to recuperate from my fun weekend in NYC and also get started on my Christmas shopping! (I have a ton of sick time that’s going to expire at the end of the year, so I figured I might as well treat myself to a day off!)

Have you guys started and/or finished your holiday shopping yet? I feel like I’m usually pretty ahead of the game, but I guess I was slacking a bit this year because I just got started yesterday. Luckily, I was able to spend some time digging around at Marshall’s and got a bunch of gifts checked off my list. I even wrapped them. Boom!

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I also ordered a bunch of things online, which is just the best. My shopping is almost done!

One gift I’m really excited about this year is for my little sister. As you all probably know, we are 15 years apart (she’s actually my half sister) so I feel more like an aunt than a big sister. Last time I was home, she started talking about yoga and asked for some help with a supported headstand inversion. As you may remember, this is something I was working on – but still haven’t quite mastered – back in the Spring. I was able to give her some good tips, and she got much better within a matter on minutes. 🙂

Later on we went outside to play with her friends, and she told them all about how I “do yoga” and helped her with her headstand. So cute!

Given this new interest in yoga, I thought it would be fun to take her to a yoga class with me! I did some research to figure out which studio would be best for a pre-teen/tween, and I think I’ve decided that the Back to Basics Flow class at Yoga Heights DC would work best. (FYI – to do the research I wound up sending my question to the DC blog PopVille, and received tons of great tips from the online community. If you are ever looking for suggestions for something local, that blog is the best!)

Anyway, I’m really excited to give her the gift, and I think taking a class together will be a lot of fun! I also got her some clothes, so if she hates the yoga at least she’ll still have a gift to open. 😉

In other news, I used the rest of my afternoon to make a quiche (and do laundry, but we’re talking about quiche)! Specifically, this quiche with broccoli, potatoes, and bacon.

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As soon as I saw this quiche online earlier this week, I instantly bookmarked it to make later. I’d never made a quiche before, but it sounded fantastic. Since I had some extra time last night, I decided to put it together! It was pretty easy, even if there were a few different steps.

While I waited for it to set up enough so I could slice into it, I took some pictures of my favorite furry friend. That tongue!

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Look at all that white around his mouth! He’s getting old. :'(

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Ok, five is not really that old, but still.

BTW – our Christmas tree is doing much better now. No more walking in the door to find that it’s been tipped over by said furry friend. 😉

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Finally, it was quiche time!

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For it being my first time baking a quiche, I think it turned out really well! The crust was nice and flaky, and the broccoli, potatoes, and bacon gave it a nice heartiness. Of course it wasn’t the healthiest dinner in the world, but at least it was pretty high in protein and had at least one green vegetable in there. So there’s that.

Cheese? What cheese? 😉

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Plus I only ate one slice, so it was at least pretty portion controlled. At least that’s what I told myself as I dug into the creamy, cheesy, flaky deliciousness. Yum! If you like quiche, definitely check out the recipe! 🙂

Question of the day: Tell me one thing about your Tuesday.

 Posted by on December 9, 2015
Dec 072015
 

Hello, hello! I’m back from an amazingly fun weekend in New York City with some of my best friends from high school. I had been looking forward to this weekend for months, and now I’m so bummed it’s over. Wahh! Take me back!

Fabio and I arrived in the city late on Friday evening, and after grabbing some New York pizza (mandatory) we headed to my aunt’s apartment in the Upper West Side (where we were staying) to hit the hay.

On Saturday morning, we met up with these three in Central Park!

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Hana lives in the city – a little further downtown – and Bianca and Sam had come in from Hoboken and Philadelphia, respectively, for the weekend. It’s crazy that we all live in different cities now (even though Hana and Bianca are pretty close to one another) and I’m so thankful that we still keep in touch as much as we do.

On my way to meeting up with the girls, I stopped by the famous Levain Bakery for some delicious cookies for us! These cookies are seriously ridiculous and weigh almost a pound each! I shutter to think of how much butter and sugar is in each one…oh well. Worth it!

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Finally, after meandering through the park a bit, we found each other!

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Hooray!

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It was a beautiful day to explore the park, and we had a great time wandering around.

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Girls! I have to thank Fabio for snapping so many pictures of us, haha. What a trooper!

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Some selfie stick action in front of the boathouse. 🙂

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The boathouse was really beautiful, and I loved watching the row boats go by.

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We wound up stopping in the boathouse for a quick drink, and then Fabio’s friend Hayden joined us! After a cocktail, our group continued exploring the park. 🙂

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Soon enough, it was time to head over to our brunch reservation. Don’t worry, we snacked on some more cookie bites along the way.

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A little before 1:00 pm, our group sat down for brunch at Osteria Cotta on the Upper West Side.

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The restaurant had a ton of delicious brunch entrees (our group decided to share a bunch of things) plus bottomless mimosas, bloody marys, or sangria.

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Everything was delicious, but my favorite dish had to be the eggs in purgatory – eggs and polenta in a spicy tomato sauce. So delicious!

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The best part though was just getting to sit and chat with my friends! I sure did miss them.

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More cookie bites happened too.

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After brunch, our little group continued walking around the city! I loved seeing all the beautiful holiday decorations.

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New York City at Christmastime is the best!

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More selfie stick action in front of the Rockefeller Christmas tree. 🙂

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Girls again!

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My handsome guy. <3

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Skating rink!

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After that, we walked over to Bryant Park to check out another beautiful Christmas tree, as well as all the holiday shops.

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It was beautiful, and I think I may have liked this tree better than the more famous Rockefeller one. 🙂

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Up next, we headed over to Rolf’s, a famous German restaurant in the city known for its Christmas decorations. Hana made reservations for us about a month ago to ensure we’d get a table, and I’m so glad she did. The line to get in was ridiculously long, and we didn’t have to wait at all! Thanks, Hana!

It sure was beautiful inside – just look at this!

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We couldn’t get over how beautiful the decorations were and I think we all got a bit of a neck cramp from staring up at the ceiling for so long. It was so festive in there!

We enjoyed a couple of delicious German beers while we took in the decorations.

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So fun!

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NYC Christmas Bar Rolf's

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🙂

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Later in the evening, a bunch of our friends came over and we got ready to go out!

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We wound up going to a fun bar downtown that played amazing music including hits like Whitney Houston’s I Want to Dance With Somebody.

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You better believe we sang out loud to every single word and had ourselves a little dance party. It was so much fun! Fabio’s friends all met up with us too, and it was really nice to see them. 🙂

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Sadly, on Sunday morning Fabio and I had to hop back on the bus to go back home. Overall it was such a fantastic weekend, and I’m so glad I got to spend so much time with my best friends. 🙂

Until next time, New York!

Question of the day: Have you ever been to NYC over the holidays? If so, what’s your favorite part?

Last year we saw the Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular, and it was a lot of fun!

 Posted by on December 7, 2015