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May 172017
 

Hi friends! How is your week going? Mine is another busy one, and I don’t see things slowing down until after the wedding. Oh well, I’m just trying to enjoy this “fun” time while it lasts!

I have a bunch of random thoughts floating around in my head today, so I thought I’d share them with you now, as well as talk about some of the food I’ve been eating lately (in sort of a WIAW style). Ready? Here we go!

Breakfasts during the week have been one of two things: cottage cheese with fruit…

…or some type of protein bar. Lately, I’ve really been enjoying RXBars and Think Thin bars. They’re easy to grab on the go and taste good too!

Lunches have mostly been salads made with Dole salad kits! I know I talked about these a little while ago, but what I’ve been doing is buying a Dole salad kit (I like the Asian sesame or the poppyseed ones) and then, since each kit has three servings, I’ve been dividing up the dressing, toppings, and veggies into thirds. I put the salad dressing into little tupperware containers and the crunchy toppings into little Ziploc baggies, which makes everything easy to grab when I’m making my lunch. This salad below (which was huge!) had mixed greens, veggies and toppings from the Dole salad kit, feta cheese, and two hardboiled eggs. It was delicious!

When I’m not packing a salad I’ll usually have leftovers from dinner or a salad from SweetGreen, my favorite!

Speaking of dinners, we’re still using our grill a ton!

We’re using it for everything from burgers to chicken to veggies, and it has been so wonderful. Especially with all the wedding planning that’s been happening in the evenings, it’s been nice to have a quick and easy (and delicious!) way to get dinner on the plate.

While we’re talking about food, I wanted to quickly tell you guys about the snack box I received from SnackNation, a website that allows you to order a box of snacks based on a specific food profile.

So, for example, if I wanted snacks that are high protein and low carb, I could use the search filter and order a box of snacks that fit those exact needs! The company was kind enough to send me a box, and I can’t wait to dig into all the goodies.

Thank you, SnackNation! You can also get your own snack box for 20% off with the code SNACKBOX20 at checkout. Enjoy!

And since we’re talking about random deliveries I’ve received lately, check out this awesome map art of Washington, D.C. I got from the kind people at Modern Map Art!

This beautiful map includes areas of Virginia, D.C., and Maryland, and Fabio and I had fun pointing out all of the places where we’ve lived.

I can’t wait to get this one framed! I definitely recommend Modern Map Art for anyone who’s looking for a custom piece of art to represent your city. They have a ton of other cities too! Thank you, Modern Map Art!

Ok, and now, what I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for – the best trick you could ever teach your dog. 😉 I know I’ve mentioned this on the blog before, but we have an issue in our house with spider crickets. There’s not a lot of them, but every once in a while I will stumble upon one and it totally catches me off guard/grosses me out.

Then a while back, Fabio trained Jack to kill spider crickets, and it has pretty much solved our problem! Yes, some mornings I will come downstairs and see something on the carpet, only to realize it’s a dead one (I guess we need to train him to put them somewhere after he kills them?) but I’d much rather have that than a live one.

Earlier this week I turned on the light in the kitchen to do some dishes, and a spider cricket/spider/some kind of bug crawled quickly across the counter and jumped onto the floor. I screamed (naturally), and Jack came running into the kitchen to see what was wrong. He instantly saw the bug on the floor, killed it for me, and then waited for his treat. YES! This dog is the best. Haha!

Question of the day: If you have a pet, what’s their coolest trick? If you don’t, what would you want to train a pet to do?

 Posted by on May 17, 2017
May 042017
 

Yesterday was the American Diabetes Association’s annual Get Fit Don’t Sit Day, which is an opportunity to encourage Americans to get up and move throughout the day. This year I was actually in charge of planning Get Fit Don’t Sit Day at my office (!!), which means I got to coordinate lots of fun fitness activities for our staff to participate in for free. 🙂

Before I get into a recap of all of that though, let me tell you a little more about the day itself. In addition to getting the recommended amount of structured exercise (30 mins per day, 5 days per week), the American Diabetes Association recommends incorporating light physical activity (like shaking out your legs, stretching your arms, standing up, etc.) every 30 minutes during the day to break up time spent sitting. New research is coming out every day showing how bad sitting is for your health (some say sitting is the new smoking), and this day is our opportunity to encourage people to get moving.

To help spread the word about the day, we developed a downloadable e-toolkit for companies and organizations to use to encourage their employees and members to be more active, complete with activation ideas, customizable posters, animated GIFs, and more. We had a lot of toolkit downloads (though numbers are still rolling in) so overall the day was a success!

And of course, if we’re going to encourage other companies to make healthy options readily available to their employees, we had to do the same! This is where most of my planning came in, which was so much fun. I basically got to set up a day full of free fitness activities for staff, and it turned out great!

First, we were allowed to wear athletic clothing to work.

We usually have to wear business casual, so it was fun walking around in leggings and sneakers all day!

Then at 11:00 a.m., we had our first event of the day: a class taught by an instructor from the Pentagon City location of Pure Barre! We didn’t have any budget for these activities, but through a friend of a coworker, we were able to have the instructor come in for free. Thank you, Pure Barre Pentagon City!

The class took place in one of our conference rooms, which meant that the days leading up to Get Fit Don’t Sit Day I had to test out the sound system, move all the conference tables and chairs out of the way, and figure out all sorts of logistical issues like waivers and insurance policies. Yuck. At least it was a good learning experience for me!

The class itself lasted 45 minutes and took us through a pretty standard Pure Barre routine. It was really hard, and my muscles were definitely burning throughout the class. We even had a few guys take the class with us (two of whom didn’t have gym clothes so they did it in their work outfits – lol) and they were shocked by how hard it was. Barre is not easy!

After barre was over (and after putting all the tables and chairs back into place – oof!) it was time for a staff wellness walk! A big group of us headed outside to walk the streets of Crystal City and explore a couple of nearby parks. It was a beautiful day for a walk!

We wound up walking up to Long Bridge park–which has a really nice view of the Washington Monument– before turning around.

Walking crew!

We wound up covering about two miles, which was so nice during the workday!

Last but not least, we had a free bootcamp class at the Crystal Park Sport & Health for staff! This gym is actually located in our building, so they were willing to partner with us to teach a free class. Thank you, Sport & Health!

Since I coordinated all the events I had to participate in them too, which meant it was a very busy day fitness-wise! Truthfully I was a bit tired at this point, but I powered through. 🙂

The bootcamp lasted 45 minutes and took us through a series of cardio and strength-based exercises.

It was a good one!

By the time I was done with all of that, it was around 3:15 p.m. and I was finally able to sit down at my desk and get some work done. Phew – Get Fit Don’t Sit Day is exhausting! But, I know how lucky I am to have a job that I truly love that also values my health and allows me to be involved with such fun projects that are also so important to me. Thank you, American Diabetes Association!

Question of the day: How often do you get up and move during the day?

 Posted by on May 4, 2017
Apr 262017
 

Hi friends! It’s been ages since I’ve posted  What I Ate Wednesday post – essentially a post where I talk about all the things I ate in a day – and I recently decided I miss posting about the random food I’m eating. So today I’m bringing it back! Here’s a look at everything I ate (and my workout) from Tuesday.

My morning started bright and early (dark and early? It was rainy and gross out) with a 7:00 a.m. class at FlyWheel in Dupont. Fabio joined me, which is always a welcome treat. We had a new-to-us instructor named Laura, and we both agreed we loved her music! It was a great class, as usual. Here’s a post-class, sweaty, car selfie for ya. 🙂

Here’s a post-class, sweaty, car selfie for ya. 🙂

When I made it into work around 9:00 a.m., I dug into breakfast! This consisted of fat-free cottage cheese, strawberries, and blueberries. I’ve been loving this breakfast lately! Question: where do you all land on the fat-free vs. full-fat debate? I go back and forth.

For lunch, I had a salad – which I’m sure surprises no one since I eat one almost every day. Lately though, I’ve been buying the Dole chopped salad kits (I especially like the sunflower seed one and the sesame Asian one) and mixing them in with my regular mixed greens throughout the week. It makes my salads a little more interesting! I’ve also been eating my salads with hardboiled eggs for protein lately instead of chicken. Yum!

At around 4:00 p.m., it was time for a snack: a Chobani flip with banana yogurt, slivered almonds, and chocolate chips. I’ve been eating a ton of yogurt lately (trying to get more protein in my diet), but this was my first time in a while buying the flips. This flavor was pretty good, but not as amazing as some of the peanut butter varieties I’ve tried. Those things are like candy!

Ever since Fabio and I made room for our small grill in our front yard, we’ve been grilling everything. For dinner, we enjoyed grilled flank steak and asparagus plus roasted sweet potatoes with a spicy curry rub.

This meal was a little savory, a little spicy, and a little sweet. Delicious!

Right before sitting down to write this post, I treated myself to a bowl of the low sugar ice cream I mentioned the other day, which again is just meh. I’m obviously still going to eat it though. I mean, there are cookie dough chunks in there! 😉

And that’s a wrap for my Tuesday! Overall, it was quite a delicious day of eating!

Question of the day: How often do you eat dessert?

I always want something sweet after dinner, but lately I have been pretty good about resisting temptation and only eating a dessert when it’s more of a special occasion. Not today though!

 Posted by on April 26, 2017
Apr 192017
 

On Saturday morning, Fabio and I drove over to his sister Diane’s house for her baby gender reveal party! We were told to wear pink or blue based on our guess, and since Fabio and I knew that most of the family was rooting for a boy, we decided to represent team pink. We even brought some pink champagne!

We arrived around 11:00 a.m. and immediately got to work getting ready for the party. While Diane and her husband Alex finished getting ready for the day, Fabio and I joined his dad and other sister, Karen, at the grocery store to get some last minute party decorations.

It was a packed car with the four of us and all the balloons and flowers, but luckily it was a short ride!

When we got back to Diane and Alex’s house, we saw that Alex’s sister Michelle had set up the rest of the party decorations. We were ready to go!

How cute are these mini strollers and baby rattles? Michelle did such a great job with everything!

Team girl!!

Before we got started on the baby gender festivities, we set up a quick Easter egg hunt for Fabio’s niece, Sofia. The Easter bunny (aka, Fabio) hid eggs all around the yard!

Then we unleashed Sofia on the backyard! She was able to find all the eggs fairly quickly, though she needed hints for some of the tougher ones. 😉

Then we switched roles and Sofia hid all the eggs for the adults to find! Diane, Alex, Karen, Karen’s husband Martin, Fabio, and I all ran around the yard like crazy looking for eggs.

So fun!!

Sofia is a good hider. 😉

After the Easter egg hunt, Alex’s parents arrived and it was time to eat! We had a delicious spread of Greek salad, cheese bread, pita, dips, spanakopita, mixed veggies, chicken kabobs, pesto pasta salad, and pirozhkis (Russian pastries filled with ground beef). I wound up trying a bit of everything, and it was all delicious!

We all finished eating quickly because that meant it was time to find out the gender of Diane and Alex’s baby!

Their doctor actually found out the sex of the baby a week before, but Diane and Alex didn’t want to know the results yet so they had their doctor put the results in a sealed envelope, which they gave to a bakery. That way we were all surprised when they cut into the cake! Ready??

It’s a boy!!

Yayyy!!! Everyone was so excited, especially since most of the family was hoping for a boy. 🙂

Congrats, Diane and Alex!

Sadly, team pink was wrong. Boo! Haha!

But of course, we are just so happy for Diane and Alex and wish them a healthy pregnancy and delivery!

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the sunshine! We sat around drinking wine (well, not Diane), dancing with Sofia, and playing games in the yard.

This face!! LOL.

So fun!

Once the sun went down, we headed inside for cheese and fruit. How cute is this little plate Diane assembled?

The boys watched the Capital’s hockey game downstairs, while the girls felt the baby kicking!

This was my first time every feeling a baby move inside the womb and it was incredible! A little strange – like there was a little alien in there – but so wonderfully amazing. 🙂

Sunday

On Sunday morning we were up bright and early to meet my family for church! Fabio’s dad and Diane joined us, so it was nice to have our two families together!

Then we headed to my mom’s house for an amazing Easter feast. My mom really outdid herself with the spread!

My only contribution was this little bunny that garnished the plate of smoked turkey. It’s made with half a canned pear, a maraschino cherry, two raisins, two slivered almonds, and cottage cheese. It’s one of our favorite Easter traditions!

We stayed at my mom’s house for a few hours before eventually returning home in the late afternoon. It was a busy weekend for sure!

Question of the day: Have you ever been to a baby gender reveal party? How did the mom/dad-to-be make the announcement?

 Posted by on April 19, 2017
Apr 172017
 

Well we had quite the busy weekend – so much so that I’m going to break my recap up into two posts! I will start with our Friday, which was Good Friday, when we went out to dinner at Bad Saint. I thought it was kind of a funny play on words, right?

On Friday, our good friends Jess and Erick were in town from the Netherlands! They only come back to the states a few times a year (the next time will be for our wedding!) so we always try to get together with them when they’re in town.

When Jess asked if I had a place in mind for dinner and I said I didn’t, she and Erick suggested we try out Bad Saint. For those who don’t know about Bad Saint, it’s a new(ish) Filipino restaurant in Columbia Heights that was ranked the #2 restaurant in the country for 2016 by Bon Appetit. I really wanted to check out Bad Saint for my birthday back in September, but they don’t take reservations and as soon as Bon Appetit announced that it was the #2 restaurant, lines began wrapping around the block to get in.

Since Jess and Erick didn’t have too many plans for the day, they offered to wait in line for a table while Fabio and I were still at work. Erick wound up getting in line around 3 p.m., and, after sight-seeing with her mom for a bit, Jess joined him around 4:30. The two of them waited in line until about 6:00 (!!) when they finally got our names on the list for a 7:30 p.m. seating. Phew! They are seriously the best for doing this!

Fabio and I arrived just after our names got added to the list (meaning we avoided any line-waiting!), and we all headed to the nearby Wonderland Ballroom for a pre-dinner drink.

Psst – remember the last time I was at Wonderland Ballroom back in 2012??

Anyway, the weather was beautiful and we enjoyed a couple of beers al fresco while we (impatiently) waited for a text from Bad Saint saying our table was ready. Finally we got the much-awaited and text and walked over!

Bad Saint is a tiny little restaurant, which is part of the reason the lines are always so long. And there are only two four-top tables, so we got really lucky to snag one. There were lots of people in line behind Erick who weren’t able to get a seating!

The menu was pretty complicated – none of us knew too much about Filipino food – so we asked our waitress for recommendations. Of course she said everything was good, but she highly recommended the prawns.

We wound up getting a bunch of items to share (including the prawns), and then waited for our food. During this time we noticed that an amazing playlist was bumping through the restaurant – lots of throwbacks from the 90s and early 2000s!

In addition to food, we also had to think about what drinks to get! The menu had four specialty cocktails listed, and since there were four of us we got one of each. We passed them around the table and while I thought all of them were delicious, I settled on a fruity, tropical tasting one (I think it was the Diki-Diki?).

Before long, our food started arriving! We started with some octopus salad that was very light and citrusy, almost like ceviche but with potatoes in it…

…and then we had a delicious cauliflower curry with eggplant and acorn squash. This was one of my favorite dishes! It was also served with some delicious sticky brown rice.

For one of our main entrees, we chose the bone marrow soup! This flavor of this was so unique – it was beefy but also earthy, and so, so, good. We all agreed we loved this one!

And for our other main entree, we got the beef cheeks. Though these were a little fatty, the flavor was phenomenal – they sort of reminded me of sausage or bacon. The sauce on the side was very spicy, but also delicious.

And then we also got the prawns, which I sadly forgot to snap a photo of (I was too busy eating!). They came with the heads on – though the rest of the prawn was peeled – and were covered in a delectable black garlic sauce. Yum!

Once our cocktails were finished the boys also ordered a round of beers, and Fabio was super excited to see that they had beers from RAR, the fun brewery we visited last year in Cambridge! 🙂

Once our main meal was over, we were served dessert – a sauteed banana with the most delicious caramel sauce on top. The sauce was mostly melted but had a few bites that were starting to crisp up, and it was so, so good. I practically licked my banana leaf clean!

All in all we had such a fun night at Bad Saint, and were so thankful to Jess and Erick for both suggesting it and offering to wait in line. They are truly the best!! Plus we had such a fun time catching up with them, and now I can’t wait to see them for our weeding!! Eek!

Oh and one last little tidbit I thought you might enjoy: We wound up bringing home the bone from the bone marrow soup since we thought we knew someone who might enjoy it.

When we were eating the soup earlier in the evening, we tried our best to get all the marrow out of the bone, but one side was completely solid so we weren’t able to scoop out very much. Well, in the morning we saw that Jack had been up all night, hard at work at removing all that marrow. I guess he liked it!! 🙂

Haha!

The end.

Question of the day: Would you wait in line for so long for a restaurant? Have you ever been to Bad Saint or the other famous DC restaurant with a long line, Rose’s Luxury?

While Erick was waiting in line, he talked to some of the people around him and found out that some of them are line-waiters, i.e., people you find on Craigslist and pay to stand in line for you! Crazy!

 Posted by on April 17, 2017
Feb 012017
 

Wow – how is it already February? Does anyone else feel like January flew right by? It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to just chat with you guys about random things that are on my mind, so I thought today would be a good time for a virtual coffee date. Or rather, a green tea date, since that’s what I’ve been drinking lately.

My Designed to Fit Nutrition meal plan is going really well! In addition to having a custom meal plan designed exactly for my goals and personal macronutrient targets (which is awesome), I’m loving that this plan is getting me out of a food rut and encouraging me to try new things!

For example, this week’s plan includes some chips from Food Should Taste Good. The company has a bunch of regular tortilla chip options – some of which I’m pretty sure I’ve tried before – but I chose these delicious sweet potato ones when I saw them at the store.

I especially love the ingredients in these chips – all of which I can say, spell, and recognize! No funky syrups or chemicals here!

And I know I mentioned these chocolate sea salt RX bars already, but I just want to reiterate how much I’m liking them. I need to figure out how to buy these in bulk for cheap (I wonder if Costco has them?) because I can see myself continuing to eat them after the four-week meal plan is over.

This week’s meal plan also includes protein Cheerios, which I hadn’t ever tried before. They are SO tasty and I love having them for a little something sweet in the evenings! Also, apparently I’m a big dummy because I opened the box upside down.

Seriously. Who does that? Fabio is always teasing me for opening packages the wrong way, and this time I had to admit that he’s right. Woops.

And lastly, I’ve been loving snacking on fresh berries this week! Delicious.

So, how am I feeling? Honestly, a little frustrated. I feel like I’ve been doing everything I normally do to lose a little weight (first with the Bon Appetit Food Lover’s Cleanse and now this), but for some reason I’m still at the top end of my normal weight range (and some days even a little above that). I know I gained some weight around the holidays, but for some reason no matter what I do I’m having trouble getting back down to what was once my “normal” weight. Maybe that’s just part of getting older? Maybe I put on more weight around the holidays than I realized and I have to work extra hard to lose it? And if so, what else do I need to do? Whatever is going on, it’s super annoying because I feel like I’m working out hard and eating well (not even sneaking any chocolate!) and I’m not seeing any results. I’m trying to remind myself that the scale just shows a dumb number and that I should focus on how I feel, and I keep repeating the mantra that this month’s choices are next month’s body. While that works some of the time, some other times I’m just like what the heck?! Sigh. Any other motivating/inspirational words of advice you guys have would be much appreciated today.

As I mentioned, my bachelorette party is coming up at the beginning of March! (Hence all this weight talk. Sorry.) I recently bought myself this bathing suit online, and I’m checking the mail every day to see if it’s arrived yet. I’m not sure it will work because the bottoms are rather “cheeky,” but I love the pattern and the design so I wanted to give it a shot.

[Source]

Also, I’m aware this bathing suit is stupidly expensive, but I figured I would wear it for the bachelorette party trip, wedding festivities (there’s a pool on-site at the venue, and we’ll be taking my family’s boat out), and honeymoon, so if it works out then it will be worth it to have a nice suit I really like.

I am also on the hunt for a cute white dress to wear out, and for now I bought myself this one, though I’m aware that with an $18 price tag it’s probably not going to work. 😉 If it doesn’t, I will return it and try this one, and I was also considering this one, this one, this one, or this one. Any thoughts/preferences/ideas for me? I’m thinking I want either and off-shoulder dress or one that’s actually separates (a top and a skirt), so if you’ve seen anything floating around the interwebs please pass along a link!

Then again if nothing works, at least I have this dress from my engagement party in NYC. This one is still cute, right?

So we will see!

I’ve been experimenting with protein powder lately, per the recommendation of the DTF meal plan I’m following. Having a protein shake after a workout isn’t something I’ve done in a long time (if ever? maybe in college?) and I’m still trying to figure out the timing of when I should drink it. Right now I usually eat half a banana and the shake in the car on my way to work since otherwise I would have to wait until after I shower, get ready, and arrive at my desk (which can be an hour or more after the workout). It can be a little inconvenient, but it’s working for now!

Don’t worry, I was at a loooooong red light when I took this. Safety first!

Fabio and I are running the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler again this year with some of our friends. I plan to talk about this a bit more on Friday, but I’m pretty nervous since it’s the first race I’ve done post-foot surgery. I have a whole bunch of feelings related to this, but for now I will just say that our training has started, and I’m excited/nervous to see how it goes!

Alright friends, that’s all I have for you today! Have a great hump day!

Question of the day: Have you seen any white dresses that would be good for my bachelorette party?!? Anything else I absolutely need for my trip?

 Posted by on February 1, 2017
Jan 062017
 

At the end of every year, I like to take a moment to reflect on the highlights from the last 365 days. It’s a fun way for me to look back at all the high points of the year, and these are always some of my favorite posts to write.

Since I didn’t have a chance to get this post up before the end of the year, I figured I’d share it with you all today! Here’s a look back at my 16 highlights from 2016. Be prepared: it’s a long one!

16. Spent lots of time with family. In looking back over the year, some of my favorite memories were just the casual weekends spent with my family. From playing in fallen leaves with my sister to spending some quality time with my grandparents to family crab feasts at my mom’s house, I have some truly special memories with the people I love most.

15. Kept up my fitness game with tons of spin classes and boot camps. My love affair with ClassPass (<– affiliate link for $30 off!) continued throughout 2016, and I took oh-so-many wonderful classes. My three favorite classes from the year probably have to be FlyWheel’s spin class, Urban Athletic Club’s Urban Athlete (bootcamp) class, and CorePower Yoga’s Sculpt class (which hasn’t been on ClassPass lately, but I took my fair share of those classes throughout 2016).

Close runners up include Definitions, MADabolic, Biker Barre (their spin class), and Reformation Fitness! Oddly enough, I took hardly any barre classes in 2016, though I was a big fan of barre in 2015. I also didn’t run much in 2016, but I’m ok with that. As long as I have a fitness routine that makes me happy and it’s something I look forward to, I will keep doing what I’m doing! Plus I have some running plans in store for 2017, so stay tuned for updates on that.

14. Started planning my wedding! I’m elaborating a lot more on this in the items below, but every detail of planning my wedding has been so much fun. Whether it’s planning our honeymoon in Thailand or chatting with our photographer (love her) or sending out our save the dates, I am enjoying every moment of this process. The photos below are from our engagement session in Jamaica last year, but we’re using them for a lot of the wedding pieces.

13. Crawled around DC breweries for Fabio’s birthday. For Fabio’s birthday this year, I organized a brewery crawl around DC with a bunch of our friends. It turned out really well, and we had such a fun time exploring new breweries and hanging out with all our friends! I also loved that I asked everyone to wear plaid as our theme. Haha!

12. Visited Aunt CC and Uncle Steve in Otis—one of my favorite places on Earth—and learned to paddle board. Visiting Aunt CC and Uncle Steve at their house in the Berkshires is always one of the highlights of my year. This summer when we went up, Uncle Steve taught us to paddle board, which was (surprisingly) something Fabio and I hadn’t tried before. The whole weekend was a blast, but paddleboarding was probably my favorite part. I just love visiting them!!

11. Stood on my chair and spun my napkin around in the air in an Italian restaurant in NYC with so many of my best friends by my side. Now that’s an interesting one, right? Every year Fabio and I try to visit NYC during the holidays to visit our friends and this year’s trip was especially fun. The highlight for me was our dinner experience at Puglia, where we drank all the wine we wanted for three hours and stood on our chairs waving our napkins around whenever the band played “the napkin song.” This sounds like such a weird thing to do, but I’m telling you it was an absolute blast!!

10. Attended eight beautiful weddings. This was definitely a wedding-heavy year for us, but each one was special and unique in its own way. I had a blast at all of them, and loved getting to celebrate with so many people who mean so much to me. Congrats to all of you!!

…and also, thank goodness for Rent the Runway.

9. Shopped for (and found!) my wedding dress. Eek! This is a memory that makes me giddy just thinking about it. In June, I invited a couple of my friends and family members to join me in shopping for a wedding dress. I really didn’t expect to find one on this trip and thought we’d mostly just be shopping for the fun of it, but low and behold I found my dress! We went out to lunch afterwords to celebrate, and it was just such a fun day with the women who mean so much to me.

8. Spent a weekend touring wedding venues, and had an amazing night in Cambridge, MD, with my mom and stepdad. Thinking back to this weekend always brings a smile to my face. Soon after Fabio and I got engaged, we scheduled visits with a bunch of wedding venues on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and invited some of our family members to come along. We spent the day on Saturday visiting two beautiful wedding venues (see recaps of those here) and then my mom, stepdad, Fabio and I stayed at an adorable bed and breakfast in Cambridge, MD. We wound up going out to dinner at a fun wine and cheese spot, and then bar hopping a bit throughout the cute little town. The evening ended in a bar with live music, and we had such a blast drinking and dancing with my parents. I remember having a bad headache the next day (oy) but it was worth it to have such a fun night. Then on Sunday we visited three more wedding venues, including the one we wound up going with! It was such a fun and memorable weekend.

7. Shopped for bridesmaids dresses, and had an amazing birthday brunch celebration afterword. During the weekend that I planned to celebrate my birthday, I invited my bridesmaids to come into town to try on dresses, and then coordinated a boozy brunch for us all after. We started off our morning at Bella Bridesmaids (highly recommend!), everyone ordered their dresses, and then we spent the rest of the day eating, drinking, and having fun! What a blast!

I also have to mention that my friends Catrina and Britt stayed with me for a few days leading up to this weekend, which was also so much fun. It brought me back to our college days!

6. Met Fabio’s extended family in Colombia, and had them teach me how to salsa dance (among other things). Visiting Colombia earlier this year was such a blast, and I still can’t get over how welcoming Fabio’s extended family was. While we had a really nice time exploring Medellin (touring a coffee farm was really cool, as was seeing Penol & Guatape), the highlight for me was the weekend that we spent in a huge finca (farm house) with all of Fabio’s relatives. While there, we hosted a big party celebrating our engagement and Fabio’s sister and brother-in-law’s one year anniversary. That party was a BLAST and I loved learning to salsa dance with everyone. I wish we could go back and do it all over again!

5. Continuing on with the Colombia theme, I loved visiting the beautiful city of Cartagena with Fabio’s family and our good friends Jojo and Jadd! Cartagena was a beautiful place, and we had a blast going on a boat tour, exploring an old fort, and going out to the bars with our friends to watch a Colombia soccer game. What an amazing experience! There was lots of salsa dancing in Cartagena too, haha!

4. Started a new job. This year I made a big move for my career and switched to a new job with a higher salary, bigger responsibilities, and a fancy new title. I’m still doing what I love – communications and PR for a health-focused nonprofit – but this was a big switch for me and has been challenging and rewarding so far. I know this move was the right thing to do and I am so grateful the opportunity I’ve been given. Now I just have to keep grinding!

3 and 2. Celebrated two amazing engagement parties. Where do I even begin with these? First Aunt CC and Uncle Steve threw us an incredible engagement party in NYC in April, and then my mom and stepdad threw us a second one in July. I can’t even begin to express how thankful I am for their generosity. Both of these parties were some of the best memories I have – EVER! – and I am so appreciative of my family.

1. Bought a house. Eeeek!! Yep, the biggest highlight for me in 2016 was becoming a homeowner! Fabio and I are so happy (and lucky) to own a 2.5 bedroom, 2 bathroom, town house in the heart of Ballston, just two blocks from the metro. It’s a big responsibility and needs a bit of work, but we’re up to the challenge! Yay!

Phew! What a year, right? Geez, when did I become such an adult?

If nothing else, these posts always remind me what an incredible life I have, and encourage me to spend a few minutes every day being grateful. Thank you to all of you who have been a part of it!!

Question of the day: What was the highlight of your 2016?

 Posted by on January 6, 2017
Dec 272016
 

Hi friends! How’s everyone doing on this Tuesday? Did you have a nice Christmas? Mine was absolutely wonderful, even if it was a bit crazy driving around from place to place. I’m planning to recap everything, but there’s too much to cover in just one post! Let’s start off with part 1 of my recap: a day at the New York Botanical Garden!

As I think you all know, Fabio’s dad, sister, and niece all live in Queens, New York. Since they came down to Maryland for Thanksgiving, it was our turn to go up there for Christmas. Initially we weren’t sure how we were going to manage splitting up the holiday with Fabio’s family and my family, but luckily we found a solution that involved us driving up to New York on Thursday evening, spending Friday with Fabio’s family, and then driving back down to see my family on Saturday morning. Phew! I told you it was a lot of driving around.

Thursday

After work on Thursday, Fabio and I packed up all our gear and drove over to my mom’s house since she and my stepdad kindly offered to watch Jack for us. We were planning to pick up Fabio’s sister, Diane, and brother-in-law, Alex, on our way, but they had an office holiday party to attend until 9 p.m. That meant we had some extra time to kill at my mom’s house, so we enjoyed a lovely dinner there!

Our family friends Lee and Dan were over, and Lee made a delicious pasta carbonara dish with homemade pasta. My mom’s pasta machine is amazing – it’s a Phillip’s pasta maker – and you better believe we added this thing to our wedding registry. You just dump the ingredients in, put on the pasta attachments you want, and press a button. Boom! Now you have fresh pasta.

Lee’s carbonara sauce was absolutely amazing as well. We enjoyed the pasta alongside a warm spinach salad. Yum! I’m so glad we were able to stop by for dinner!

After dinner, it was driving time! After a short trip, we met up with Diane and Alex and then continued making our way up north to New York.

We didn’t wind up arriving in New York until nearly 2 a.m. since we had such a late departure time, and we were all pooped when we arrived. Bed time!

Friday

Friday was such a fun day! We lazed around the house a bit in the morning and enjoyed some whole wheat croissant sandwiches with cheese, spinach, and smoked salmon (yum!) before getting ourselves ready for the day’s adventure: a trip to the New York Botanical Garden! This amazing garden in the heart of the Bronx has 250 acres of beautiful woodlands, gardens, plants, and trees. The conservatory also has a special display at Christmastime where model trains run on different tracks around miniature plant versions of popular New York landmarks. Cool!

I had been to this garden once before with my family in about 2003, and I remember it being really pretty. We thought it was the perfect place for a family outing, and something that Fabio’s niece, Sofia, would really enjoy.

Although you can definitely buy tickets for the garden on-site, we decided to buy them online ahead of time since we heard it can be really crowded during the holidays. This made getting inside really easy!

Once we had our tickets in hand, we walked a short ways down to get to the conservatory building where the train show was taking place. It was a beautiful day out and surprisingly warm!

The conservatory itself was a huge greenhouse-like building with literally thousands of plant species inside.

When we entered, we saw our first model NYC building, the Macy’s store! All of these “buildings” are made with twigs, sticks, leaves, and anything else you might find in nature.

All of the creations had such amazing detail, and we were all in awe of the patience that the artist must have.

Here we are, ready to start exploring!

When we entered the first room of the exhibit, we saw a miniature version of the very conservatory we were standing in! I can’t even begin to imagine how they made this out of twigs and leaves and got all the proportions just right.

There were also trains running in every direction around the buildings! It was really cool to watch them all.

This front room also had some beautiful Christmas trees set up for the holidays. Of course we had to stop for a photo opp!

Then we entered the main conservatory area where trains and miniature buildings were intertwined with all the beautiful plants. There were even replicas of all the famous New York bridges that the trains were running over! It was so impressive and these pictures don’t come close to doing it justice.

One of my favorite displays was midtown Manhattan! Here they had copies of the Chrysler building, Empire State building, and even Rockefeller Center.

See the Rockefeller tree and skating rink at the bottom of the picture below?

It was very cool. Around the corner was lady Liberty!

Then came Fabio’s favorite replica of the day: Yankee stadium!

Fabio and his dad had season tickets to the Yankees for 14 years, so of course they had to take a picture together in front of the replica. 🙂

Then we found the Frick museum, which is really close to where Fabio’s dad works. We got a picture with this one too. 🙂

My favorite display was the random assortment of brownstones and townhouses. I thought these had so much character!

Overall we had a fantastic time at the exhibit and I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a family-friendly holiday activity in New York.

Once we were done looking at the trains, we took a tram ride around the garden to get a sense of what the rest of the 250 acres looked like. The tram stop was right next to a set of gorgeous Christmas trees! Everything at the botanical garden was so festive for the holidays.

The tram ride was very informative, and we all agreed that we need to come back and visit in May or June when all the plants are at their peak. Everything was kind of sad looking in December, but I’m sure it’s breathtaking in the spring!

Before we left, we stopped for a group photo in front of the lovely trees. 🙂

What a fun day!

After our garden adventure, we stopped at a fun Italian restaurant called Dominick’s for dinner, and then headed over to Fabio’s sister’s house to open up some Christmas gifts. We decided to throw on some festive holiday vests, sweaters, and Santa hats to make it more fun for Sofia. 🙂

Santa’s helpers!

It was the perfect end to a fun day!

Saturday

On Saturday, Christmas Eve, we were back in the car on our way out of town. Sigh.

What a fun (quick) trip!

Question of the day: Would you like exploring the Botanical Gardens?

I honestly thought it might be a little boring, but everyone in our group seemed to have a great time!

 Posted by on December 27, 2016
Dec 222016
 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go….

Hello, friends! Happy Thursday before Christmas! I don’t know about you guys, but I am SO ready for the holidays. Today is my last day at work for a little while, and then we have some busy travel plans that have us driving up to New York tonight to see Fabio’s family, and then driving back down to Maryland midday Saturday to spend time with my family. ‘Tis the season to be travelin’.

Before I get wrapped up in any of that fun stuff though, let’s have a little virtual coffee date!

How do you like my festive Christmas nails? Yes, I am THAT person. 

I always like taking these opportunities to tell you guys about random thoughts on my mind. Here we go!

I tried two new-to-me recipes this week, and both were delicious. First, I made the basil Thai chicken lettuce wraps from one of my favorite cookbooks, Eating in the Middle. Like every other recipe I’ve made from Andi’s book, this one was a hit!

We didn’t have any hoisin sauce so I made my own variation based on some recommendations I found on good ole Google, and it turned out great! I especially liked the large pieces of basil, which added so much flavor to every bite. Yum!

We ate these with lettuce wraps for dinner one night, and then I used the leftovers in a salad the next day. Fabio and I gave this recipe two thumbs up!

I also made the prosciutto-wrapped chicken from Cravings, my other favorite cookbook at the moment.

This was another delicious recipe, even if it wasn’t that healthy (I mean this recipe calls for bacon AND prosciutto – next time I’m skipping the bacon). We served this delicious chicken with a side salad and some bread for mopping up the tasty juices. It was another hit, and we even had some leftovers to enjoy another night. Win!

My knee has been bothering me lately, and my Physical Therapist friend, Sam, thinks it might be some tendinitis. I wound up skipping a boot camp with Anne and Kathleen on Monday because it was bothering me so much, which had me really bummed! It mostly hurts when I bend my knee 90 degrees or more, and after doing lots of lunges and squats during my bootcamp on Sunday, I figured it would be best to rest a bit and let it recover. Womp womp. Sam thinks that I haven’t been stretching my quads enough, so I’m hoping that with some extra stretching and lots of ice I can get back into action in no time.

Update: I wrote that last part on Tuesday night, and as of today (Thursday) I’m doing a little better. I wound up going for a short run yesterday and did a bootcamp with Anne this morning at MADabolic in Arlington. While my knee isn’t 100% better, I think things are improving slightly…maybe? Working out doesn’t seem to irritate much more than not working out, so I’m just keeping an eye on it for now. 

I had dinner with my friend Claire this week, and it was so nice to spend some time catching up with her. When we started working together back in 2012(ish), we talked all day every day! Now we will usually text around once a week and will get together every other month or so, which is not nearly enough! I miss my Claire!

Having dinner with her was really nice, and I have plans to see her a couple more times in the next week or two. Hooray! Time with girl friends is so important.

Wedding planning (and honeymoon planning) is still going really well! Recently we booked our florist, and I’m pretty sure we’ve landed on a bakery too. We’re scheduled to meet with the bakery toward the end of January for a full consultation, but my grandma has been buying cakes from there for years for my birthday and they’re always delicious. Plus, the woman has been such a pleasure to work with, AND our venue recommended her. All signs are pointing toward go!

We also have another visit to the wedding venue scheduled for that same weekend in mid-January, and I’m so excited to get some of the final details narrowed down. 🙂

Fabio also got his suit recently, which is a really nice custom made one! Now we just have to figure out what we want the groomsmen to wear, and where they should rent their suits from. I’m going to ask some of our other friends who got married recently what their experiences were like with places like Men’s Warehouse and…whatever other places offer suit rentals. Ha! Clearly I need to do some more research on this.

Honeymoon planning is also going really well, and I think we’ve nailed down our itinerary and are ready to buy our flights! Yay!

Also, my bachelorette party and bridal shower are in the process of being planned! My friends are planning the whole bachelorette party and surprising me with ALL of the details, so I have no clue where we are going. Eek! I love surprises, so this should be really fun. The bridal shower is not really a surprise, but my friends and family are still doing most of the planning themselves so I don’t know many details.

All the fun things!

I can’t believe I’ve been engaged for almost a whole year. On Sunday, it will have been one year since Fabio proposed! It really was SUCH a fun year for us, and I know I will look back so fondly of this year of engagement parties, wedding planning, and lots of champagne. 🙂

🙂

Alright friends, that’s all I have for you today. It’ll probably be pretty quiet on this front until after the holidays as I want to spend as much time with family as possible.

Have a very Merry Christmas!

Question of the day: Are you traveling for the holidays?

 Posted by on December 22, 2016
Dec 072016
 

Hi friends! Happy hump day! I hope your week is going well so far.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a day in the life post, and I always like reading how other people spend their days, so I thought it was time for a little update! Here’s a snapshot of my day last Wednesday.

5:55 – Alarm goes off. Hit snooze.

6:00 – Time to get up! Quickly brush my teeth, get dressed in workout clothes, put in contacts (this is relatively new for me – I used to just wear them on weekends), zip up my gym bag, and say goodbye to Fabio who, by the way, is still dead asleep.

6:15 – 6:30 – Take Jack for a walk. When I have enough time I let him run around off-leash at the park, but on this particular day I was running late so we just went for a regular walk. Sorry Jack! I make a vow to let him run around tomorrow.

When we get home I feed him, and then it’s out the door!

6:35 – 6:55 – Drive over to Flywheel in Dupont. Long-time readers will know that Flywheel is one of my favorite classes to take through ClassPass (<–affiliate link for $30 off!), but since we moved to Virginia I don’t take it as often as I used to. The drive over in the morning actually wasn’t too bad at all, and I make (another) vow to work this class into my schedule more often.

Arrive at Flywheel, grab a perfect parking spot, and almost forget to pay the meter. I am used to the 6 a.m. class when parking is free, and I’m constantly having to remind myself that it’s not free for the 7 a.m. class. Oy.

Run in with just enough time to drop my stuff off in a locker, find my bike, set it up the way I like it, and pedal a bit to warm up. Phew!

7:00 – 7:45 – Sweat my butt off at Flywheel. The class was led by a new-to-me instructor and she was really good! I loved her music and felt really energized the whole time. At the end of class my total power was 249, which is not a high or low score for me – it was right in the middle. I gave this morning workout two thumbs up!

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Post-Flywheel sweaty selfie FTW

7:50 – 8:05 – Drive to work! I used to be all about the 6 a.m. classes so I could drive home after class, shower, eat breakfast at home, and then head into the office. Well, all of that worked great in our old apartment when Fabio and I would eat breakfast together and then walk to the metro together too, but now we are on totally different schedules. These days it’s not worth it to me to wake up an hour earlier just so I can shower at home and have breakfast (by myself). Luckily I have a shower at work so I take advantage of it at least a few times a week.

8:05 – 8:40 – Use the shower at work. Play Christmas music on my iPhone while I shower, and hope that you can’t hear it too much through the door. I don’t want my coworkers who might be using the bathroom to be freaked out by the weirdo playing Christmas music to herself in the shower room.

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Finish up my makeup in the bathroom, and then walk to my desk with dripping wet hair. I’m lucky that it air dries well! 🙂

8:45 – 9:30 – Enjoy a hot mug of green tea while catching up on emails.

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Then dig into breakfast for the day: two hard-boiled eggs with a banana. (One of the eggs is unpictured – I ate it before remembering to snap a pic!)

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I like my eggs with salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Yum!

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1:15 – After a busy morning, I finally break into lunch! This day’s lunch was leftover Thai green curry from Blue Apron. The leftovers were lacking on some of the sweet potatoes since we had eaten most of them the night before, so I had tossed some white beans in there for added protein and sustenance. It was delicious and a nice change-up from my usual salad.

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Rest of the afternoon – 5:45 – Like usual, work is busy, busy, busy. I had a ton of meetings and projects to get done, so I didn’t have time to eat my afternoon snack (an apple with some trail mix). That’s ok though because the day passed by in a flash. Phew!

5:50 – 6:08 – Drive home! I listen to a podcast in the car – I can’t remember which one but it was likely either Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, Young House Love Has a Podcast, or the Bon Appetit Foodcast – during my quick and easy commute. While I still prefer the metro to driving (I really miss my reading time!) I’ve found that driving really isn’t too bad since it’s so fast.

6:15 – 6:45 – Fabio arrived home around the same time as I did, so we take Jack on a longer walk together. This is one of my favorite parts of the day – even when the weather is crappy like it was this day – because we get to catch up on our days. 🙂

6:50 – 7:50 – Arrive home, give Jack a treat, and change into comfy clothes. Hooray!

We have another Blue Apron meal on the menu tonight (spinach and ricotta pizza, which I added bacon to because, why not?) and since those meals always take a while to make I get started right away. I forget what we did while I was cooking – sometimes we will play music and talk and other times we will have the TV on. I do know I did NOT have a glass of wine because I’m trying not to make it an every-night-of-the-week thing. So far I’ve been doing really well!

8:00 – 10:15 – Eat dinner. I forgot to take a picture of the whole pizza which is a really stupid blogger move. After dinner, we cleaned up and wrapped up the leftovers, and I finally remembered to take a picture.

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The pizza was delicious!

After dinner, Fabio and I indulged in our favorite new (bad) habit: enjoying a couple of peppermint chocolate sandwich cookies from my friends over at Giant. These things are so delicious and so addicting! They pair perfectly with a glass of milk too.

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I think they’re probably similar to the peppermint Jo Joes from Trader Joes, but I’ve never actually had those so I can’t say for sure. Anyway, they’re delicious!

Jack wanted in on the action too, obviously.

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We wrapped up our evening on the couch while watching Shark Tank (we love that show). We’re not really binge watching anything right now, but we are looking to start something new. Any suggestions?

10:15 – Upstairs to bed! I read my kindle for a couple of minutes (I’m reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind for some reason – it’s different than my usual book selections but really interesting) and though I’m really enjoying my book I was exhausted from the day and only kept my eyes open for about 10 minutes before falling asleep.

The end.

Question of the day: What are you binge watching right now?

Disclaimer: Giant sent me the cookies for free, but this post is not sponsored in any way. All opinions are my own. 

 Posted by on December 7, 2016