Jul 142017
 

Hey friends! How was your week? I hope it went by quickly for you!

My workouts this week were just kind of meh – I took a bootcamp class, a spin class, and went for a couple of runs with Jack – but it was nothing too exciting and I didn’t feel super energized about them this week so I didn’t feel like dedicating a whole post to recapping them today.

Instead, I thought maybe we could casually catch up over a virtual coffee date! It’s been a while since I just blogged about whatever random thought crossed my mind, and I’ve missed chatting with you all!

1. Although it’s been super hot this week, I’ve still been drinking hot coffee instead of iced. Although I love iced coffee, I don’t love freezing in my office’s air conditioning and drinking iced coffee makes me ten times colder. Every day this week the temperatures have been around 90 degrees or more with humidity, but I’m always SO cold in my office! The other day I put two sweaters on and then put a blanket scarf over my legs. Ugh!! Anyone else freezing to death during the day?

2. I’ve been drinking a bit more wine that I usually do in the evenings, and although a daily glass of wine is not a good habit to slip into, it’s just so refreshing on a hot summer night, especially when we are sitting outside grilling! I don’t think I had a glass every night this week, but it was probably three or four nights. Oh well. Cheers to summer!

3. When meal planning this week, I relied heavily on the recipes I found in Giant’s Savory Magazine, and they were all awesome! I know I’ve mentioned this magazine on the blog a time ro two before, but it really is so great that it’s worth another mention. Giant, our local grocery store chain (I think Stop N Shop is the same company), issues its Savory magazine every month or two, and each issue is filled with seasonal, mostly healthy recipe ideas, and tons of coupons.

So for example, there will be a recipe for something like tacos, and then usually it will include a coupon for the tortillas. Amazing! The magazine is free with a Giant card, but I usually just grab one from the stand on my way out the door and don’t have to show my card or enter my phone number.

Here’s a peek at some of the meals we cooked up from the magazine this week…

Grilled chicken thighs with watermelon salsa (Fabio also grilled us some zucchini wedges on the side)

Seared tuna with cabbage fried rice

Turkey and feta burgers with peach salsa (we had this with grilled corn on the side)

Pssst – I spy Jack’s nose!

All of the recipes were really tasty, and I especially enjoyed the cucumber sauce on the turkey burgers and the spice rub for the chicken thighs. Yum! I can’t wait to see what recipes come in next month’s issue of the magazine. 🙂

4. Now that the wedding is over, I’m feeling like there’s a slight void in my life since I am no longer spending so much time on wedding planning. I’m thinking about trying to earn some money through a new venture – either something like getting a fitness certification and teaching classes or (more likely) doing some freelance writing and editing in my spare time since that’s mostly what I do at work. I’m looking into sites like Fiverr for this, but would love to hear some recommendations from anyone else who dabbles in freelance work!

I also think it would be cool to be a freelance writer for a magazine, but I’m not sure how I would get started with that. Or maybe one day I’ll look into writing a book? That one seems far-fetched for now, but it’s something that’s crossed my mind. (What it would be about, however, I have no idea.)

5. I have a couple of fun weekend trips on the agenda, starting with some time spent at my grandparents’ house on the bay, then a trip to Fire Island with my girlfriends, and then later this summer another weekend trip to Otis with a couple of friends. I’m getting so excited for all of that, and am really trying to soak up these summer days while they last.

Alright friends, that’s all I have for you today. I hope your day passes quickly so you can jump into your weekend! Woohoo!

Question of the day: What’s the best weeknight meal you’ve cooked lately?

 Posted by on July 14, 2017
Jun 072017
 

Hi friends! Sorry for not getting to the weekend recap until now – things have been understandably pretty busy for me this week! At any rate, it was a beautiful couple of days filled with Fabio’s sister, Diane’s, baby shower, and lots of wedding-related crafting with family by the pool at my mom’s house.

The glowing mom to-be!

I haven’t had much time to blog because Fabio’s two cousins and his mom have been staying with us (in our small, two-bedroom house…thank goodness we have two bathrooms!) since Sunday night. It’s been really nice having them, but it does make it a bit difficult to get other stuff done like blogging and last-minute wedding planning!

Luckily we are mostly finished with our wedding stuff, which means I’m able to relax (sorta….) and just enjoy this time!

Today is my last day in the office, and then tomorrow we head out for the venue. Eek! I can’t wait! I probably won’t be able to check back in again until after we get back from our honeymoon on June 26. I’ll see you guys on the other side!

🙂

Question of the day: What do you love most about weddings?

 Posted by on June 7, 2017
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