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.

Fall with favorites!

Fall is my absolute favorite time of year.

Fiery foliage and jumping into leaf piles… crisp mornings and warm spices… comfort food and oversized sweaters. I’m technically December-baby but fall in New England is my jam.  There’s nothing else quite like it.

Oh and apple picking. Can’t forget apple picking.

One apple-picking-perk? Apple crisp. There’s nothing quite like sweet and spicy warm apples topped with an super crispy, crumbly crust, right? Last weekend, I got together with a couple of my favorite people (…and can’t forget my fave pup, Pebbles!) to tackle crisp-making.

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We worked with a super simple recipe from A Family Feast that Amanda found on Pinterest – and doubled up the recipe to up all of the (20+) apples that we had.

Pebbles was super helpful with peeling…

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We had fun peeling, chopping, mixing and crumbling — and followed the recipe almost to the tee. We added more oats than it called for – and I’m glad we did. It was definitely a sweet recipe, but not TOO sweet…but it could have gone there reallllly fast. I think if I use this recipe again, I’d use less brown sugar and add more oats.

I mean…c’mon you can’t really go wrong with a buttery, sweet crust? Really buttery…like Paula-Deen-would-approve buttery.

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After 40 minutes of hanging out in the oven, it came out golden brown, bubbly and crunchy….

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Not too shabby for a Sunday night??

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….and breakfast the next morning. Whoops.

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?).

Stacey, me, Rachel

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?