2014: Keep good going

Tis the season for resolutions!! Whether you’re a fan of them or not…we’ve come to that very special time of year when we are all inundated with a flurry of ads for self-help books, weight loss programs and gym specials – and sweeping promises of going cold turkey on whatever vice you have while simultaneously (not to mention miraculously) dropping 50 pounds by March.

Now, don’t get me wrong…I don’t think resolutions…goal setting…aiming to better oneself… are bad. In fact, I think having goals is an essential part of growing and changing, but I do think success lies in how you go about it. And, personally, I don’t think that success lies in picking apart your life and focusing on what you think sucks…whether that’s a relationship, your salary, weight,  job, habits, hobbies, commute, social life… your… hair? Whatever!

What if we spent time reflecting on the good…instead of focusing on what we don’t like or didn’t accomplish? I mean…shouldn’t we be moving into a new year with a renewed sense of hope? Not … “Uhhhg, okay, I’m a whale…why can’t I look like [insert your favorite celebrity here]??? 2014 will be way better if I drop like 30 lbs, right?”

I know that’s not necessarily easy to do, but wouldn’t it be great to look at what made you happy in the last year and create goals that will keep you moving in that positive direction?

So keeping that in mind, here are some of my goals:

  • Run again. The feeling of accomplishment from my races this year was incredible. Time to grab that adrenaline rush again.

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  • Give back. I was involved with a few non-profit organizations through work this year, and I’d love to expand upon that and really get involved with a cause I’m passionate about.

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  • Get social. Like in real life…with real people. Let’s be honest, it can be daunting to make new friends as an adult. I’ve been lucky enough to meet some pretty amazing people this year by going outside of my own comfort zone and joining events/groups filled with people who geek out about the same stuff I do.

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  • Segue that to…embrace my inner nerd. Embrace what I’m passionate about…who cares what other people think about it. I mean…I can love dessert and running, or high heels and Chucks. I can love bopping around to Top 40 AND any number of Joss Whedon projects. They’re not mutually exclusive. Seriously.

  • Schedule time for myself. Pen to planner. and make it happen.

  • Travel. I was finally able to get some travel in this year through work. I’m lucky enough to have friends and family in amazing cities across the entire country…time to plan, pack and take off.

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  • Appreciate it all. We live in a world surrounded by social channels filled with posts that would make you think everyone’s lives are simultaneously super exciting, glamorous, hilarious, perfectly styled and manicured, delicious, filled with storybook love and romance, busy but zen, and fat-free (spoiler alert! they’re not..) – it can be really easy to get caught up in that, and while none of those things are bad, snapshots of other people’s lives shouldn’t influence whether or not I’m happy with mine because… I have a lot to be thankful for.

  • Be happy.

So, tell me, for you… what’s good in the coming year?

Brunch on the Towne

My goodness, it has been a packed couple of months. So much has been going on! Travel for work, travel…travel…and more travel.

Anyway, so let’s talk brunch. It is one of my favorite things. Ever. I mean, where can you combine all the carby goodness of the most important meal of the day with a solid cocktail?! I’m not really a “breakfast” person, per say, but I LOVE breakfast foods. Just not in the 6-9am timeslot.

Not that long ago, I was able to attend a brunch at Towne Stove and Spirits in Back Bay with a bunch of other awesome people (bloggers, Yelpers, and all around great people) courtesy of Boston Brunchers, and I have to tell you I was super impressed. I’d only been to Towne for drinks before (they do those well, too), and I hadn’t ever set foot beyond the bar. I’d never set foot in the restaurant section, let alone know they have an absolutely stunning upstairs!!

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Our group got there at 11, and was seated at a huge round table (perfect for getting to know each other and scoping out what other people put on their plates!). Minus another couple, we were the only ones there (the brunch starts at 11 so we beat the crowds) so we all rushed to get some pictures in of the untouched buffets….yes, plural. They have EVERYTHING. There were carving stations, hot stations with HUGE cast iron skillets full of eggs benedict, potatoes, salmon…yum!!…an omelet station, a raw bar (yes, I helped myself to plenty of oysters), a dessert bar (we’ll come back to that), fruit selections, and – saving the best for last – a HUGE cheese bar.

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Towne was kind enough to pour us all a little prosecco and we sat down, plates full, to sip and stuff ourselves with tons of amazingness (I never said I’d be breaking out the SAT vocab here…). My first round was mostly raw and cheese bar items. Humboldt Fog and Brie spread with honeycomb… to my face.  Maybe cheese and oysters don’t seem like a natural pairing, but pshhh. Whatever. It was delicious. Round two included a waffle, eggs benedict and various other carbohydrates. Priorities.

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We all ended on the dessert bar. Ate a little bit of everything. However, the consensus was the the chocolate chip bread pudding won brunch. And rightly so. It was delicious…warm, buttery, gooey and just seriously sinful. Oy. I think I gained 5lbs just thinking about it.

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So yes, it was really delicious – however, the buffet, at $38 per guest ($14 for kids under 12) is not necessarily realistic for everyone. It was a fantastic treat (would be great for special occasions!), and if you’re considering it, I’d absolutely recommend it. I definitely ate $38 worth of food…probably in oysters and cheese alone. haha

Disclaimer: I received brunch free of charge as part of the Boston Brunchers, with the exception of gratuity. As always, all opinions are my own.

Blog post back up – Part 2: Cruisin’ and brunchin’ with Odyssey Cruises

A few weeks ago, I had the awesome opportunity via Blog and Tweet Boston to hop on board the Odyssey Boston yacht and cruise around Boston Harbor all while boozin’ and brunchin’ with blogger friends (I was so tempted to say “buds” just for the alliteration…say that 5 times fast =)).

My friend Katharine and I arrived at Rowes Wharf just before noon on what was a seriously gorgeous day in Boston. We hung out, caught up (she just moved back up to Boston from Florida) and waited to board the boat.

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We joined my fellow blogger friends – Stacey, Rachel and Jen (plus, guests) – and a bunch of other bloggers and …well, tweeters… and quickly made our way to the bar. I mean c’mon what’s brunch without a little bit of booze. Champagne, anyone? We worked our way through a wedding party and made our way up to the top deck of the boat to enjoy a little sunshine and –of course – take pictures. After that we managed (not gonna lie, we struggled a bit to find where our group was) to find our way to our little section and settled in for the buffet.

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This was not a diet brunch (what fun would that be, really?). I fully embraced it and piled my plate with French toast, bacon, eggs, home fries, and my FAVORITE smoked salmon – though I was bummed that their bagels weren’t anything to write home about. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had French toast so I was a super happy (and full) camper.  They did have a bunch of lunch options (pasta, chicken, etc) but I skipped out of those in favor of a few more servings of smoked salmon. My obsession knows no bounds.

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I digress. The food was good, and it was nice to sit by the windows and watch the city roll by from the water. Boston’s just beautiful. No denying it.

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After we’d stuffed ourselves, we made our way up to the top deck where we finished out cruise out with some fun Boston facts that I never knew about (did you know they turn Castle Island into haunted houses at Halloween – one for adults, one for kids, and that Nix’s Mate isn’t just a bar in the Hilton in the Financial District but an island that “legend-has-it” they used to hang pirates off of as a “warning” to other sailors?).

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Stacey, me, Rachel

Overall, I had a great afternoon cruising around Boston on an absolutely gorgeous day with awesome people. The Odyssey would be a great option for special occasions. Like I mentioned, there was even a wedding party on board when we were there, so plenty of space!!

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Just a lil’ bit of wind

Thanks to Blog & Tweet Boston and Odyssey Cruises for the complimentary ticket/meal/alcohol. While I was provided the ticket for free, in exchange for a blog post, my opinions are my own. 

Blog post backup! Thai yoga with Bodywaves Boston

Ohhh my gosh. How did it get to be October? The past month has been absolutely crazy – so crazy that I haven’t had a chance to tell you about a couple of awesome activities that I got a chance to try out courtesy of the Blog and Tweet Boston group!

One of those awesome activities was a Thai yoga class in the North End Greenway with Bodywaves Boston. If Bodywaves sounds familiar, they’ve been a part of a couple of events that I’ve gone to in the last year or so – including both of the Wellness by the Water events that I attended. I already knew they were amazing – so I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to learn Thai yoga.

We had an absolutely gorgeous morning on the Greenway and I was paired up with Adam (@conciergeboston) and the ladies from Bodywaves walked the group the partner Thai massage/yoga.

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Adam and I quickly introduced ourselves, and then we all learned all about pushing and pulling each others limbs in a bunch of different directions.

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Oh, hey! Seriously though – my hamstrings hated this stretch (they’re the farthest things from flexible). Mwahaha.

In all seriousness, the Thai yoga instruction was awesome. Via Bodywaves – Thai massage is a” wide variety of stretching movements combined with gentle rocking and rhythmic compressions are applied. In essence it is a combination of yoga and acupressure.” It increases flexibility, promotes relaxation and is great for injury prevention.

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I walked away feeling stretched out and relaxed.

If you’re in the market for a massage and in the Boston/North End/Faneuil/Government Center area, I’d hiiiiighly recommend checking out Bodywaves. I’m already planning my next appointment with them.

Massage. needed.

 

 

 

Thanks to Bodywaves and Blog and Tweet Boston for the opportunity. I received this class free-of-charge in exchange for blogging about the experience. Opinions are my own.

 

Slow cooking and getting settled

You know what? It’s been a while since I did a standard “here’s what’s going on in my life and what I’m stuffing in my face” kind of post.

Things have been crazy lately. I moved 3 weeks ago – which…in Boston…should be declared a holiday because everyone and their mom (…and dad…and siblings, friends, acquaintances…and occasionally complete strangers… willing to schlep a couch up narrow, rickety stairwells for a case or two of beer) moves on September 1…and if you’re one of the few with off-cycle lease agreements, I envy you soo, soo much. Teach me your ways.

Anyway, the day is filled with joyous things like parking bans, families getting on each other’s nerves, thousands of inexperienced UHaul drivers, at least one box truck getting stuck under a bridge on Storrow Drive…oh, and “Allston Christmas” (as it’s been dubbed). Can’t forget “Allston Christmas.”  Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 8.31.00 AM

I’m still getting settled – working full time makes it a little difficult to just get settled immediately. I’m still working on getting a dresser. My clothing situation is a little…disorganized….but you can be certain that after having a bed to sleep in…priorty numero uno was my (lil) kitchen. And yes, it’s the same little kitchen I baked and blogged out of more than 2 years ago!

At least the fridge is full!

At least the fridge is full!

After a couple months of relative chaos, it’s nice to start to feel more grounded and settled. Slowly getting back into the swing of things, and one of my to-do’s is get back in my kitchen more. I’ve eaten way too many microwavable or take-out meals since August…and I can feel it.

Last week, I saw a Moroccan-style slow-cooker recipe from Jenna @ Eat, Live, Run – and I knew it would be my project during the weekend. I was supposed to go to this yoga thing in the North End…but that got derailed when I pulled something in my shoulder and basically spent Saturday crying on the floor. Dramatics aside, it actually was pretty bad. Moving and breathing were not exactly easy. So when staying in and cooking became my only option…I slowly got myself (read: hobbled) to the grocery store for some missing ingredients and got to slow-cooking.

This is a really simply stew – chock full of veggies, lentils, chickpeas and great warm spices — a perfect fall dish. Plus, I’m a fan of anything I can slow-cook.

I’ll be honest; Jenna has this go on low for like 9 hours. While, I basically followed that timeline (I mean it is slow cooking after all), if you’re not headed to work or bed and or would just rather eat sooner rather than later – I don’t see the harm in cranking it to high and shortening the cook time. It is veggies after all so you won’t be annihilating any protein and ending up with hockey pucks floating in stock.

I mean, just look at all that veggie goodness — butternuts squash, zucchini, yellow and red peppers, onions, tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas…it’s just a powerhouse dish. Plus, since I live solo – I love making anything that I can make a ton of and re-heat easily, aaaand stews have the added bonus of just getting better as they sit!

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I’ve been digging into this for a better part of a week now. I’ll definitely make again…maybe incorporated different, seasonal ingredients as fall pushes on.

What’s your go-to dish once the temps dip a little bit?

 

Seasons 52 has made its way to Mass!

Hello, hello! I’m back. After the craziness of moving out of my old apartment and then into my new one…I’m happy to be back, successfully connected to the internet, falling into a new commuting routine aaand back in my tiny kitchen (those who’ve been with me for a while, you may notice that it is the SAME lil’ kitchen I was cooking out of two years ago…yes, back in the same place, what’re the chances?!)So now I’m settling into my new/old apartment (I was lucky enough to re-connect with my awesome former landlord who was nice enough to fly up here to show me units before they were officially on the market! – I mean c’mon, once you find an awesome landlord in a city of less than stellar ones you hold on tight and don’t let go!) In the craziness of the move, I was actually lucky enough to be able to take an evening and enjoy a dinner at the brand new Seasons 52 in Burlington, MA. Seasons 52 is a franchise – but this location in Burlington is the first in MA (they’re also moving into Chestnut Hill soon!!) and I’m so thrilled to see a trend towards delicious and health conscious dining options coming to the Bay State!

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So to back up a bit, I received an invite to attend a media dinner held at the not-yet-opened restaurant on August 27. I was really excited, but didn’t quite know what to expect.

I arrived at Seasons 52 in Wayside Commons in Burlington (right above the Ethan Allen and L.L. Bean) and was surprised at how big the place was! We walked inside (I extended an invite to my bloggie friend Stacey as well and we carpooled) and it was a large, but really warm space. They weren’t open yet, but the place was buzzing with happy customers as the restaurant conducted its last night of “soft opening” before the big day.

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We were escorted through the dining room to a large, private room in the back where I was (pleasantly) surprised to see only 6 chairs set up – an awesome and intimate setting – and greeted with glasses of champagne (yum!)! We received a tour of the place – which includes awesome amenities (live piano 7-nights a week, and rooms that are perfect for your bridal shower or a business meeting!).

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Once all of us were settled in, our wine-tour and meal got rolling. We were lucky enough to have the chef speak to each of the plates, and world-class Master Sommelier, George Miliotes, guide us through each glass of wine that accompanied our meals.

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The food was phenomenal. It was my first time trying quail – and let’s be honest, filet is always a winner in my book. Cool fact – all of their entrees are 475 calories or UNDER. Craziness right? Especially since we live in a world where you can almost expect to have an salad that runs you 1200 or
more! It’s not 475 calories and the size of a thimble either – these are full-plates of awesome, comfort food. You really can’t go wrong.  Just take a look at that menu.

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Okay, let’s be honest – you’re all here for the photos. Just take a look at this awesomeness. And if you’re in the area – I highly suggest you check them out. Great people, great food, great wine. Can’t go wrong.  Thank you to Chris Potter from Ogilvy for reaching out, and Seasons 52  for your hospitality and the amazing meal. I will be back – and bringing friends.

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No stress swimwear: Cerulean Blu

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend another event through Boston Blog and Tweet at swimwear boutique, Cerulean Blu – just off of Newbury Street in Boston’s Back Bay.

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 Side-bar: “Cerulean” alllways makes me think of The Devil Wears Prada

 It was a great night of some wine, food from B.Good, positivity, and how to make swimwear shopping a little less intimidating. A group of us met in the cute boutique, located on Hereford – just steps Newbury. The store is a bright, cheerful space with a lot of choices, but it’s not overwhelming. Within seconds, I spotted a dress/cover up that I wanted (and still have to go back for!!).

We mixed and mingled, checking out the gorgeous suits made for all shapes and sizes. Rachel from Healthy Chicks gave a great talk about body image, positivity, and embracing the now – not waiting for the “when I [lose the weight, get the job, etc, etc]…THEN I can [whatever the end goal]. She had us do a great exercise where we each had a notecard with our name on it, and passed it around, and everyone –we’d all just met – wrote anonymous, nice things they noticed about the person on the card. It was a really cool exercise to see how people look at you – which is often so different from how we nit-pick ourselves!!

After that we chatted with Desiree, owner of the boutique (with locations here in Boston and in St. Petersburg, FL), and how she opened the store because she “was tired of the way that typical swimwear shopping had the power to make women feel less confident, exposed and uncomfortable.”

 I mean, c’mon – I don’t care how great of shape you’re in…standing in a dressing room, trying on suits under fluorescent lights….rarely a confidence booster. Their store really has silhouettes for all body types – Desiree heads down to Mercedes Benz Fashion week every year and handpicks designs for her store. This is a place that pairs awesome customer service with a really comfortable, no-pressure atmosphere. Win/Win!!

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 Blush Airbrush Tanning was also there, and gave a great demo of their portable tanning services. I’ve always been curious about air brush ((and slightly, scared…think orange Lindsay Lohan circa 2004)), but having a history of melanoma in my family, the idea of being bronzed but not damaging your self or health is super appealing. I was super impressed by their ability to customize for skin tones, and how natural the airbrush tan looked. Definitely something to consider! And the ladies were super nice.

 If you’re in Back Bay and in need of a swimwear, cover ups, cute flowy dresses, hats, bags, sandals – pop into Cerulean Blu. I know I’ll be back, and thanks to Boston Blog and Tweet and Cerulean Blu for having us!