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Feb 132017
 

Well hello there! How was your weekend? Mine was a fun one, but it went by way too quickly. Sigh. Here’s a recap!

Friday

After getting home from work on Friday and taking Jack on a long walk with Fabio, it was dinner time! On the menu: Bubba turkey burgers and Alexia sweet potato fries (bunless for me, though Fabio had his burger on a potato hamburger bun). Plus pickles, ketchup, and mustard on top. Yum!

This meal is a new staple for us when we want something more “fun” than our regular weeknight dinners, but don’t want to get takeout or turn to something super unhealthy. I have a feeling this one is going to stay in the rotation for a while!

While we ate dinner, we watched the movie Girl on the Train. Though I read the book ages ago, I honestly couldn’t remember how it ended so it was still pretty suspenseful for me. I also had a glass of wine during the movie and a certain furry friend on my lap. Can you see Jack in the corner there? Haha!

This guy loves to snuggle.

I think we were in bed by around 11, which was fine by me! 🙂

Saturday

On Saturday morning we were up relatively early because we had an 8:00 a.m. appointment to get our car serviced (there was a recall on one of its gauge systems and it needed a quick software update). While they worked on our car, Fabio and I ventured over to a little cafe to sip on some cappuccinos.

We wound up spending an hour or so in the warm cafe talking about wedding plans, and I felt pretty accomplished by the time we were done! Soon enough our car was ready and we realized they had given us a free car wash and carpet vacuum while we were there. Sweet!

The rest of the morning was spent running a bunch of errands, including a trip to the mall where I bought two new bathing suits for my bachelorette party coming up in just two and a half weeks (!!). This was a big relief because the bathing suit I bought online a couple of weeks ago didn’t wind up working out, so I was sort of stressing out about what I’d wear. Bathing suit shopping is never a fun task for me (is it for anyone?) so I was really relieved when I found two that I liked. Woohoo!

One of our other errands took us into D.C., and since we were already there we decided to stop into Ghibellina for a lunch date! I’ve been wanting to try the pizza at Ghibellina for ages, and we realized we probably weren’t going to be able to squeeze in a Valentine’s Day dinner on Tuesday, so this lunch would take its place. 🙂

Fabio and I ordered two pizzas to share, and we wound up taking a whole pizza home with us as leftovers.

Both of the pizzas were absolutely delicious, and I really liked that they gave you scissors to cut the pizza slices with. So fun! I definitely recommend Ghibellina if you’re in D.C. and looking for some traditional Neapolitan style pizza.

The rest of the afternoon/evening was really relaxing and included a nap on the couch, some meal planning, leftover pizza, and the movie The Accountant, which we both really liked.

Then it was another early night in bed!

Sunday

Sunday’s plans included a six-mile run per our training plan for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. It was raining out when we woke up and we debated putting the run off until later in the afternoon when it was supposed to clear up, but I really wanted to get it over with so off we went in our rain jackets and hats.

The route I planned took us through a couple of new-to-me parks, including the really pretty Lubber Run Park which wound through the woods. I bet it would be beautiful in the fall!

Unsurprisingly, our run felt pretty challenging (and wet) and I was SO happy when it was over and we arrived back home. There’s nothing like the feeling you get after completing a run!

After showering up, we headed into D.C. for lunch at Modern Market. The D.C. location just opened at the end of January, and the kind store managers invited me in for a free lunch with a friend. (Lucky Fabio.)

Right away I knew I was going to like Modern Market – the flavor combinations on every meal item sounded phenomenal and I loved the focus on fresh, wholesome ingredients. Plus, each meal had the calories and macronutrients listed so I was a happy camper! My biggest problem was deciding what to order – everything sounded amazing!

I wound up ordering half a blueberry pesto sandwich (omg) and half an order of the butternut cashew soup, and both were incredible. I liked that this order came with a small salad on the plate as well. Extra greens are never a bad thing!

Fabio got the BLT+A sandwich with broccoli cheddar soup, and he was equally thrilled with his lunch. All of the food tasted so fresh and flavorful!

Later on, I also wound up ordering a peanut butter chocolate chunk cookie because it looked amazing, and I just wanted to show you guys the receipt for a second. See how it lists the nutritional information right on the receipt? Now that I’m using MyFitnessPal to track what I’m eating, I found this to be so incredibly helpful.

I also love Modern Market’s values on the back. 🙂

I have to say Modern Market is probably my new favorite fast-casual spot, and now I’m hoping they’ll open a location in Arlington soon. 🙂 Thanks for having me, Modern Market!

The rest of the day was spent grocery shopping and meal prepping.

We’re having these blueberry oatmeal breakfast bars this week, and I’m so excited!

The end.

Question of the day: What’s your favorite fast-casual restaurant?

Before trying Modern Market, I would have said Taylor Gourmet!

 Posted by on February 13, 2017
Feb 062017
 

Hi friends! How was your weekend? Ours was a really fun one, and we spent the majority of it at Fabio’s sister Diane and brother-in-law Alex’s house outside of Baltimore. It was so nice spending quality time with everyone! Here’s a peek at the highlights.

Friday

Fabio, Jack, and I hopped in the car after work on Friday to make the hour and a half journey to Diane and Alex’s house. Diane had some delicious chicken salads waiting for us for dinner. Yum!

Fabio’s dad had arrived from New York earlier in the day, and his older sister Karen and her daughter, Sofia, were on their way down from New York as well. We had planned to have this “family weekend” back when we last saw each other for Christmas, and I was so happy everyone was able to stick to the plan and get together!

We spent the rest of the evening chatting around the kitchen table before calling it a night around 11 p.m.

Saturday

On Saturday morning, Fabio and I were up before everyone else for a run! It was only 18 degrees out and we had five miles on the docket, so I was not looking forward to being out in the cold for that long.

At least it was nice and sunny out!

As for our route, I looked at my Google maps app ahead of time to figure out where we should go in the neighborhood. It was hard to tell how far five miles would take us, so I made sure to have a couple of back-up routes in case we needed to tack on some extra mileage.

The one thing I didn’t realize about Diane and Alex’s neighborhood was that it was so hilly! Phew! It made the run challenging for sure, but Fabio and I powered through it.

We wound up using all of my back-up routes and arrived back at Diane and Alex’s house after only 4.2 miles. While part of me wanted to keep running the last .8, Fabio and I were both cold and tired and going inside sounded like a better idea. 🙂

Once we got inside we showered up, changed into comfy clothes, and spent the rest of the day relaxing with Fabio’s family!

We had a fun day snuggling on the couch watching Finding Dory (so cute!) and playing with all the dogs.

It was nice and relaxing!

Later in the afternoon, more of Fabio’s family came over, and Alex’s parents joined us as well! We don’t usually all get to see each other except during holidays, so I was really happy that this family weekend worked out.

Eventually we sat down to a delicious dinner of Greek food that Diane, Karen, and I put together, and midway through dinner, Diane and Alex said they had an announcement to make.

….and then Diane pulled out a picture of her sonogram!

I just love this picture. 🙂

Diane and Alex are going to be parents!!! Yay!!!

I could not be happier for these two and am SO excited for all that is to come. Woohooo!!

Truthfully I was not very surprised by their announcement – I actually had an inkling that Diane might be pregnant back in December – but it was still SUCH a happy confirmation!! 🙂

We spent the rest of the night eating cake, laughing, talking, and even doing some salsa dancing (as this family tends to do…).

Congratulations, Diane and Alex!

Sunday

We drove back home on Sunday and I immediately got to work meal prepping for the week. The grocery store was a mad house with all the Super Bowl shoppers, but we made it out fairly quickly thanks to a shorter list this week.

Now that everything is all prepped Fabio and I are getting ready to watch the Super Bowl! (It’s Sunday night as I type this.)

Catch ‘ya later!

Question of the day: Does your family mostly live nearby or far away?

 Posted by on February 6, 2017
Jan 302017
 

Hello, hello! Did you have a nice weekend? Mine was one of the best I’ve had in a while, and I’m bummed it’s already over. Wahh.

Here’s my recap!

Friday

When I got home from work on Friday, I immediately got to work cleaning the house. I knew we had a busy weekend ahead of us and I just wanted to get the cleaning over with. Plus, after two weekends in a row of traveling, the cleanliness of certain things that I had been ignoring (like the tubs in the bathrooms) were really starting to drive me nuts. I was a woman on a mission, and with Fabio’s help we had the whole place clean pretty quickly. Phew!

After that, we sat down to dinner: broiled salmon with Asian sesame salad and couscous. Yum!

We spent the rest of the evening watching Netflix on the couch. We are in need of a new show right now – we tried watching the Black Mirror but I found it to be really weird and also kind of boring. Hmmm. Any suggestions?

Jack kept us company until we headed up to bed.

Saturday

On Saturday we were up bright and early for wedding planning festivities! Woohoo!

At around 7 a.m. I took Jack for a really quick run (just about a mile) and then Fabio and I were showered, dressed and in the car by 8. We met up with my mom along the way, and then before we knew it we were arriving at our wedding venue! My dad joined us for the festivities as well, and we had a fun morning meeting our amazing wedding planner Kathie (she works for the venue) and our florist, Amy. Kathie had set out coffee, muffins, fruit, and pound cake for us. Amazing!

I had to giggle at Fabio and my dad wearing matching sweaters – my stepmom got them these for Christmas and I thought it was funny that they both decided to wear them on Saturday. Twins! 🙂

After a couple of (very fun) hours talking about flowers and detailed plans for the rehearsal dinner and wedding weekend, we took a spin around the grounds! This just got me so incredibly excited for the wedding (no surprise there) and now I am feeling even more giddy than ever. Eeeek! It will be here before we know it!

After saying goodbye to Kathie, the four of us drove over to our next appointment of the day: dessert tasting! Fabio and I don’t want a traditional cake for the wedding, and instead we’re going to have one small cake for cutting and then a bunch of other treats on the dessert table like cupcakes, brownies, bars, mini pies, mini cheesecakes, and cookies.

Kim of the bakery Peace of Cake did NOT disappoint with our tasting – I couldn’t believe how many treats she set out for us! Everything was phenomenal and I tried my best to just try a small bite of everything so I didn’t get too full on sweets, but it was definitely hard.

These were two of my favorite elements: little pies with hearts on the top and crab cookies! We added a bunch of these to our order. 🙂

If you are planning a wedding on the Eastern Shore of MD (or know someone who is) I can’t recommend Peace of Cake enough!

After our sugar coma, we met up with my grandparents for lunch at one of our favorite spots, The Narrows. We love this restaurant because not only is the food great, but the waterfront views can’t be beat.

Woah – don’t mind the crazy hair. It was windy!

None of us were feeling too hungry after all the sweets, so I got a small cup of the cream of crab soup and then shared and order of crab cakes with my mom. Hit the spot!

Lunch was a lot of fun, and I had a great time catching up with my grandparents. We had lots of wedding details to share with them!

All in all, it was such a fun morning, and I’m so thankful that my mom and dad were able to join us for the planning session. Thanks for coming, guys!

When we got home, we relaxed for a bit and then decided to keep the wedding planning going. We popped open a bottle of champagne that we already had in the fridge, and then sat down to answer a premarital counseling questionnaire that our officiant sent us a while back.

We were supposed to work on the questionnaire alone without sharing answers with the other person, so we put some music on and worked on separate computers until each of us had finished. There were some really thought-provoking questions in there, and it definitely made both of us think more about our relationship. I think we were both feeling a little mushy toward each other when we were done. Haha!

For dinner we had some leftover chicken sausage and brussels sprouts from earlier in the week, plus some of Fabio’s homemade mozzarella sticks we had in the freezer. We also finished up the champagne!

After dinner we watched the longest movie ever (the Physician – it was just ok) and then hit the hay. What a fun wedding planning day!

Sunday

Sunday began with a trip to the dog park.

Then we ran a bunch of errands including Home Depot and the grocery store. I’m starting week 2 of Designed to Fit Nutrition and was really excited about some of the scheduled meals this week!

The rest of the afternoon was spent prepping and organizing for the week ahead!

This also included making a batch of fresh juice. This week’s concoction had carrots, beets, kale, other random greens, parsley, ginger, an apple, and a pear. Yum!

Once the meals were prepped for the week, I folded some laundry and watched one too many episodes of Fixer Upper (the house envy was becoming crazy). Fabio also had a fire going for us and I enjoyed some delicious green tea!

For dinner I made us some mac ‘n cheese using a “sauce” of Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, sundried tomatoes, and garlic whirled in the food processor, alongside some random chicken sausages we had leftover in the fridge. Plus a salad on the side!

It was the perfect end to a perfect weekend. 🙂

Question of the day: If you’re married, did you have a traditional cake? If you’re not, would you want one at your future wedding?

 Posted by on January 30, 2017
Jan 242017
 

Hello there! How’s your week going so far? I took a little hiatus from the blog yesterday because I wasn’t feeling quite like myself – I’ve been really exhausted lately! I figured catching up on some sleep on Sunday evening instead of blogging would do me some good, and now I’m feeling much more rested and am back with a recap of my weekend!

Friday

On Friday evening, Fabio, Jack, and I hopped in the car and drove up to New York for Fabio’s 10-year high school reunion which was on Saturday. Yep, another weekend, another road trip. On our way, we stopped by Taylor Gourmet for dinner and I got the archer salad with kale, garlic farro, chicken, dried cranberries, goat cheese, and oranges. It was SO delicious and I wound up eating the whole thing. Yum!

We made really good time and arrived at Fabio’s dad’s house in Queens by 10:30 pm! I think that’s a new record for us. We stayed up talking to Fabio’s dad for a little bit and then it was time to hit the hay!

Saturday

Saturday morning began with a long walk for Jack around Fabio’s dad’s neighborhood! I think Queens is so interesting – every block looks completely different!

It was a really nice, sunny day on Saturday – if a little windy.

Later in the morning, we met up with Fabio’s sister Karen and her daughter/Fabio’s niece, Sofia for lunch! We went to a Colombian restaurant per Fabio’s request. 🙂

We started off our meal with some salad…

…and then we all ordered the traditional Colombian platter of steak, rice and beans, an egg, chicharonnes, half a plantain, a small arepa, and a slice of avocado. I can never get over how much food this is! I only ate half and then took the rest home for Fabio’s dad (who sadly had to work on Saturday).

After lunch, we decided to take advantage of the sunshine at the park! Sofia and I had fun with Snapchat in the back seat. 🙂

Haha!

Before long, we had arrived at the park! (We stopped to pick up Jack along the way.) We had a really nice afternoon walking around and enjoying the sunshine.

Then we took Sofia to a huge playground where spent some time climbing and running around with the other kids.

After Sofia had enough of the playground, we headed out for some fro-yo! We went to Red Mango and I enjoyed a small cup of the original flavor with strawberries, pineapple, chocolate chips, and Oreos. Yum!

Yay for ice cream!

Fabio’s dad wrapped up his work around this time, so when we were done with our fro-yo we headed back to his house where we watched Zootopia. I may have fallen asleep for a few minutes during the movie. 😉

When the movie was over we said goodbye to Karen and Sofia and got ready for Fabio’s 10-year high school reunion! My mom asked me to take a picture of what I wound up wearing, so I snapped this awkward selfie and sent it to her. I figured you guys might want to see too!

The reunion was held in the cafeteria of Fabio’s high school which, if you ask me, was a little strange. We had a fun time though and I enjoyed meeting some new people and seeing some of Fabio’s friends who we hadn’t seen in a while.

After the party we all headed to a bar in Bayside, New York (near his school) and had a great rest of the evening.

Sunday

As soon as we woke up on Sunday it was time to hit the road! We got home at around 3:00 p.m. (while listening to the Hamilton soundtrack in the car – my new favorite road trip tradition!) and immediately started meal planning, grocery shopping, and prepping.

I was absolutely pooped after that, which explains why I took the mini blog break and postponed this post until today.

And now we’re all caught up!

Question of the day: What do you like to do during road trips to pass the time?

 Posted by on January 24, 2017
Jan 172017
 

Hey there! Happy Tuesday to you. Fabio and I both had off from work yesterday for MLK weekend, so we were lucky enough to have an extra long weekend. Woohoo! We wound up spending a fun couple of days up at my Aunt CC and Uncle Steve’s house in Otis, Massachusetts, and it was a blast! (Like usual.)

Here’s my recap!

Friday

Fabio and I drove up to CC and Steve’s place on Friday night, and we wound up making really good time. Otis is in the southernmost part of Massachusetts (in the Berkshire mountains), and the drive usually takes us around 6.5 hours. We made a pit stop in NYC to pick up our friend Jason who came with us for the weekend, and then we were on our way!

We arrived in Otis at around 1:40 a.m. and were instantly greeted with a spread of cheese, crackers, and homemade pumpkin hummus, along with a much-needed adult beverage (wine for me, a whiskey drink for Fabio and Jason).

The late-night snack welcome session has become the norm for our visits, and we usually wind up drinking a few cocktails while we catch up. We didn’t go to bed until around 4:30 in the morning! Yikes!

Saturday

After about four hours of sleep (oy) we were up and at ’em and ready to enjoy our first full day in Otis! We started off with breakfast, which was a delicious egg and spinach bake with bacon on the side. Yes!

After breakfast, we suited ourselves up and headed out for a day of skiing!

Uncle Steve is a really great skiier (CC is good too), but Fabio, Jason, and I were all pretty new at the sport. I’ve gone snowboarding a couple of times and skiing one other time, but it was basically like starting from scratch for me since it had been so long. Steve did a great job of teaching us the technique!

Fabio and Jason both got the hang of skiing in no time, but it took me a lot longer to feel comfortable. Poor Steve went down the bunny hill with me a bunch of times before I felt ready to tackle the next level, and I really appreciated his patience. Thanks, Steve!

(Here we are on the bunny hill…poor Steve.)

By the end of the day, I had gone down the green-level hill a few times comfortably (though still with a few falls) and went down the blue-level hill once (though not really on purpose – lol – and with a lot of help from Steve). I decided that when it comes to skiing, I like to go really slow so I can be in control. The really steep areas aren’t fun for me right now, but my hope is that I’ll enjoy those areas more as I get better.

After skiing we popped into the little ski lodge restaurant for some lunch (I had a grilled chicken sandwich) and a much-needed beer. Skiing stressed me out!

After lunch we headed back to the house, showered up, and rested a bit. Ah, so cozy!

Before long it was time for dinner!

CC made use a delicious lasagna, and I put together a side salad with carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and blueberries. CC also made us a homemade viniagrette!

Time to eat!

By the way, CC and Steve have these awesome red light bulbs in their house that make everything look extra cozy at night, but they cast a weird color in the photos. Sorry for all the redness!

Over dinner, we had some really fun debates/conversations about politics, the electoral college, and more. It’s always fun sitting down to chat with this group, and I always feel like I come away from the conversations with a new way of looking at things.

After dinner, we all moved to the couch to watch the Patriot’s game since CC is a big Pats fan. We enjoyed slices of her homemade peanut butter pie while we watched! It was SO delicious.

What a cozy way to wind down the night! The boys wound up falling asleep on the couch within minutes – I guess all that skiing really wore them out – and the rest of us wound up heading to bed around 11. Finally, some sleep!

Sunday

Sunday morning began with breakfast again – this time we had egg scrambles with chicken sausage and veggies, plus a couple bites of various delicious muffins – before setting out for a hike!

Can you see Jack off in the distance in the picture above? He had an absolute BLAST on this hike!

Parts of the trail (which starts in CC and Steve’s backyard, BTW, which is so awesome) were pretty icy, but other parts were ok.

We walked about two miles down to Upper Spectacle Pond, which was frozen over!

It looks a little different from last time we visited, right?

Steve and Jack even walked out onto the ice (after testing how frozen it was to be safe) but the rest of us stayed safely on the shore.

Fabio and I even grabbed our furry little buddy for a family picture!

You can barely see him in this picture but his tongue is out! Haha!

I also had to take a picture of Fabio and CC in their respective Yankee/Red Sox hats. See, world peace is possible! 😉

By the time we walked back to the house, we had covered about four miles. Not too shabby!

After our hike, we enjoyed a delicious lunch (grilled chicken, broccolini and roasted sweet potato wedges) before packing everything up to hit the road. Steve, CC, and Jason all had work on Monday and we had such a long ride ahead of us that we didn’t mind leaving a little early. We said our goodbyes to everyone and hit the road at about 4:45, and we finally made it home by 11:45 due to some traffic in DC. Ugh.

Once we got home, it was lights out.

Monday

Fabio and I both slept in nice and late on Monday – we were tired!

The rest of the day was spent grocery shopping and prepping for the week ahead.

We even made some fresh juice, which is something we hadn’t done in ages. Yum!

All in all, I’d say it was a perfect weekend! Thanks so much for having us, CC and Steve!

Question of the day: Do you like skiing? Are you good at it?

 Posted by on January 17, 2017
Jan 092017
 

Hi friends! Did you have a nice weekend? It was a really cold one in these parts, and we even got our first snow of the season! Here’s my recap.

Friday

On Friday night, Fabio and I drove into Baltimore to celebrate our friend Cole’s birthday!

There wound up being a big group of us there to celebrate, which of course meant we had a lot of fun! I hadn’t seen most of this crew since the summer – basically since wedding season ended – so it was great to catch up with everyone.

Tom is such a goof – he pretends to look surprised in all these pics!

Anytime there’s a selfie stick at the bar it’s pretty much guaranteed to be a good time!

Since most of these guys are Fabio’s fraternity brothers, I offered to be the DD and drive us home after the bar (that, and I didn’t really feel like crashing on someone’s couch and then having to drive back to Arlington in the morning). Since I was driving, Fabio took advantage of the time with his friends, and let’s just say the car ride home was…entertaining. Fabio decided he was only going to speak Spanish, and then when we played songs on the radio he tried to translate the lyrics and sing them in Spanish. Ha!

We arrived back at home at around 12:30 a.m., and although I was tired I was happy to be in my own bed!

Saturday

Saturday wound up being an ultimate PJ day, which was actually a lot of fun! When we woke up in the morning it was freezing outside (temps in the teens/low twenties with wind chills in the single digits) and snowing! When I took Jack out for a walk it had only just started to snow, but it continued through the rest of the morning and early afternoon.

Brrr!

Since Fabio and I didn’t have any plans for the day, we decided to stay inside and get cozy! Fabio built us a nice fire which we enjoyed from the couch while watching Netflix.

The snow continued to fall and wound up sticking to the roads, so I was really happy we didn’t have to go anywhere. Yay! What a fun and relaxing day.

In the late afternoon, we took Jack out for a longer adventure in the snow (he LOVES running around in the snow) before returning to the couch. Yep, it was quite the lazy day!

I wound up making homemade chicken noodle soup for dinner, which really hit the spot. We also happened to have a bunch of fresh herbs on hand including rosemary, sage, and parsley, which added lots of flavor. Yum!

And that was pretty much it for our Saturday!

Sunday

Sunday morning was another cold one with the “feels like” temperature a measly one degree. Ugh.

After taking Jack for a walk, I fueled up with some scrambled eggs and avocado, plus half a piece of Fabio’s bacon. 😉

Then Fabio and I headed out to get some grocery shopping done at both Giant and Costo, and on our way home we stopped by a class at CorePower Yoga!

The class was Yoga 1 which is a little on the easy side for me, but it fit with our schedule so it worked out ok. The warm class was a nice reprieve from the cold outside!

When we got home we prepped a bunch of food for the week and Fabio watched some football.

Dinner was leftover chicken noodle soup, and we had hot chocolate for dessert!

With extra mashmallows on top, obviously.

Overall it was a really nice relaxing weekend, which I definitely appreciated with all the running around we normally do. We’re going to be doing a lot of traveling in the next couple of weeks, so this was a good time to rest up!

Question of the day: What’s the weather like where you are?

 Posted by on January 9, 2017
Jan 032017
 

Hi friends! Happy 2017! I hope you all had a wonderful New Years. As I’m sure you noticed, I decided to take some time off from the blog last week to enjoy a bit of a holiday break. It was really nice to take a break, but today I’m back at it with the rest of my holiday recaps.

When we last left off, Fabio and I were driving from New York down to my grandparents’ house on the Eastern Shore for Christmas Eve celebrations! We always spend Christmas Eve at my grandparents’ house, and it’s definitely one of my favorite holiday traditions. We arrived around 3:15 p.m. to their festive home!

This scene was especially cozy after such a dreary/rainy/traffic-filled car ride. Yuck! I’ll take one cozy fire and a glass of wine, please!

Once we arrived, we spent some time catching up with everyone and chatting about Christmas festivities. Fabio and I decided to play Santa’s elves again and pass out fun Christmas hats, headbands, and ugly sweaters. Having this bag of holiday costumes makes Christmas so much more fun! I think we’re going to make this a new tradition. 🙂

My sister & me!

Even Jack got in on the action with his Christmas tie! There was also a set of doggy reindeer antlers, but he took those off after about 2.5 seconds. Haha!

After having some snacks and wine, it was time to open presents! My sister is 11 this year, which means Christmas is still basically the best thing ever. She was definitely excited to open her presents from Grandma and Grandpa!

She also handed out the presents to the rest of us.

Fabio and I both wound up getting some really nice gifts, and we had a nice time handing them out to my grandparents as well. So fun!

Then it was time for dinner!

We enjoyed a Thanksgiving-esque menu, which is always one of my favorite meals. We had turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans, and roasted veggies! Plus warm rolls from the oven. Yum.

For dessert, we had Grandma’s famous chocolate chip cookies and slices of a festive cheesecake that Fabio and I had brought from New York. Everything was delicious!

After dinner everyone was pretty tired – Jack included – so we decided it was time to hit the road and head over to my dad’s house where we planned to spend the night.

It was a wonderful Christmas Eve at my grandparents’ house!

Christmas Day

When we woke up at my dad’s house on Christmas day, we saw that Santa had come!

We all got lots of great presents, and Fabio was particularly psyched with the half-zip sweaters he received since he basically lives in them during the winter.

Meanwhile, I got some new clothes and some fun stuff for our wedding and honeymoon! Santa was good to us. 🙂

After opening up presents and eating breakfast, my sister and I sat down to do some coloring while we watched the Disney parade on TV. My dad got us each a coloring book and a set of colored pencils. It was so fun and relaxing!

Eventually it was time to pack up our gear and move on to our next stop: my mom’s house! (Luckily it’s only about 10 minutes away from my dad’s house, but it was still a lot of driving around for just a couple of days).

My mom and stepdad typically host a big open house every year on Christmas, and we got there a bit early to exchange gifts before the rest of the guests arrived.

Later on, one of my best friends, Hana, arrived! She was in town for the holidays and had a spare moment to stop by. 🙂

Throughout the day guests continued to drop by, and it wound up being a really fun day! Fabio and I spent the night at my mom’s, and then drove back to Arlington the next day.

Christmas through New Years

The days after Christmas were pretty quiet on this front; I had a lot of work to do but luckily I was able to do it all from home. On Friday Fabio was allowed to work from home too, so my view looked something like this…

Haha!

I did get some in fitness action in with an Urban Athletic Club class with Anne via ClassPass! (<– affiliate link for $30 off!)

Anne and I wound up being the only two people in class that day (it was rainy and a lot of people were probably still out of town for the holiday) so our instructor was able to get lots of good pictures for us. 🙂

The first class back after the holidays is always a hard one, and Anne and I were feeling it by the end. Phew!

When it came time for New Years, Fabio and I laid low at home. We were originally supposed to go up to Aunt CC and Uncle Steve’s house in Massachusetts for the holiday, but poor CC sprained her ankle, had a weird allergic reaction that caused a lot of pain in her eye, AND got some kind of stomach bug/the flu. Can you believe it? What bad luck. Poor thing. We decided to go up for MLK weekend instead, and enjoyed a quiet New Year’s Eve on the couch.

After all the traveling we did for Christmas, it was actually really nice to ring in 2017 from the comfort of our home. 🙂

Of course the next morning I woke up with a fire under my butt to put away every single Christmas decoration. I just can’t stand having them up past New Years! Anyone else like that?

And now I think we’re all caught up!

Question of the day: Would you rather spend New Years at home or out at a party/club?

 Posted by on January 3, 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 192016
 

Hi! How was your weekend? Mine was a nice and relaxing one at home, but was also really productive. Now I’m feeling ready for the holidays and the week ahead! Woohoo!

Friday

Fabio and I enjoyed a nice little date night on Friday. 🙂 We had such a great time at Texas Jack’s over Thanksgiving – and really appreciated their $5 sandwiches during happy hour – that we decided to go back for a date night!

We both started with beers, which were also $5. You can’t beat these prices!

Then we each got a brisket sandwich and shared an order of fries. Everything was just as delicious as we remembered, and we had such a nice evening sitting at the bar and chatting about work, our plans for the holidays, our wedding, and our honeymoon.

Recycled photo from last time

What a fun date night!

When we got home, we did a little more honeymoon planning which was really fun. I think we’re going to book our flights soon! Eek!

Eventually we wrapped up our planning session and moved to the couch where we watched an episode of our new favorite show: The Crown. It’s a good one! Meanwhile, Jack kept us company. 🙂

Eventually we all got sleepy and headed up to bed.

Saturday

I had hoped Saturday would be a fun day spent doing Christmassy things, but it wound up being not as fun but way more productive. Eh well, it could have been worse.

First, we headed to Home Depot where we spent way too much time returning a bunch of stuff we bought during our last trip, and then filling up our cart with just as much new stuff (that we will probably wind up needing to return in a week or two). Story. Of. My. Life.

After Home Depot we drove over to TJ Maxx where we did get to do a little Christmas shopping. It was so crowded though! I guess we aren’t the only ones who wait until the weekend before Christmas to get stuff done. 😉

When we got home, Fabio got working on a bunch of house projects. He wound up fixing the light in my bathroom, and it looks so much better now! He also fixed the fan in my bathroom last week, so now both are working perfectly. Yay!

He also replaced all the doorknobs upstairs, which is a HUGE improvement. Not only do they look better, but now no one is going to accidentally lock themselves in the guest bathroom …which is what used to happen anytime someone used that bathroom. Yikes. This update was definitely a good one.

Meanwhile, I cleaned the whole house from top to bottom! It felt good to have clean windows, showers/tubs, toilets (ughh), microwave, laundry, and everything else, since lately I’ve only had time for the basic vacuuming and dusting. Sigh. One day I will be able to convince Fabio that we need a cleaning lady.

Once we were both finished, we rewarded our hard work with spiked hot apple cider, pizza, and a movie. 🙂

We wound up watching the Fundamentals of Caring on Netflix which was really cute! I did think the plot was weirdly similar to Me Before You (minus the romance), but I still enjoyed it a lot. It’s a good one!

Sunday

On Sunday morning, Anne scooped me up for a workout date! We headed back to Definitions — this time to try their new MRT climb class!

Their new climber equipment is really cool, and pretty challenging too! To use the machines, you step up onto pedals and then grab hold of the handlebars, and then “climb” until you reach a certain speed (there are signs for targets to reach for jogging, running, and sprinting).

The day’s workout was a particularly tough one, and these climbers didn’t make it any easier! There was a lot of cardio and Anne and I were both panting and sweaty by the end. Phew! All in all we loved this class, and are trying to encourage our friends at Definitions to add a 7 a.m. climber class into their weekly rotation. We will totally take this class again if it fits into our schedule.

It was weirdly warm out after class, so we grabbed a couple of lattes from Baked and Wired and then walked around the Georgetown waterfront. It was looking very festive!

Like usual, we had a great time chatting away and before we knew it, it was time to turn around and head home.

When I got back, I quickly showered and meal planned, and then Fabio and I were off to the grocery store.

After a quick trip, we arrived back at home and I got busy in the kitchen making holiday treats for our coworkers! I wound up making these gingersnap cookies

this “Christmas crack”….

…and a variation of these m&m cookies (the ones in the cookbook I used also have chocolate chips in them). Of course I did some tasting and snacking while I baked, which in my opinion is the best part of cookie-making. You gotta’ taste the dough to make sure it’s going to be good, right??

Jack was a fan of all my baking too. 🙂

No surprise there.

Now everything is packed up and ready to take to work! I hope our coworkers like them. 🙂

We ended the evening with laundry folding (clearly we procrastinated a bit on that) and more episodes of The Crown.

The end!

Question of the day: What’s your favorite thing to bake during the holidays?

Growing up, my mom always made homemade caramels and snickerdoodles, so now I always think of those as holiday desserts. 🙂

 Posted by on December 19, 2016