holiday

Why You’re Never Alone on Valentine’s Day

This weekend I’ll be celebrating my first single Valentine’s Day since I was 16.

Crazy, right?

Even at 16 Valentine’s Day was still one of those things that didn’t matter very much. You got served heart-shaped cookies in the school cafeteria and everyone was buzzing about who they were going to ask to the Turnabout dance. Valentine’s Day wasn’t really a thing.

So for all my “adult” life, Valentine’s Day has always been a “couples” thing. Which was great because I have, for as long as I can remember, been one half of a couple.

This year, as the day approaches, it’s more of a fact than anything — I haven’t had any outward emotional reaction to it. I mean, I’ve had a few emotional moments this week that have come out of nowhere, and I have to assume the upcoming holiday is the cause. Not because I’m sad necessarily, but because it’s weird, I guess. Weird isn’t the right word but then again, there isn’t really a word for it. So we’ll go with weird.

But regardless of the fact that this year I won’t get a bouquet of flowers or a custom cake from my favorite bakery, I can’t be sad because I’m not alone. I don’t feel alone because I’m surrounded by love. Love doesn’t exclusively come from a romantic partner. I’ve always known that but I was never forced to see the love outside of a relationship because I had that comfort of one for so long. So now I see the love from others a lot more clearly now. I’m not alone.

I’m not alone because I have a family. I’m not alone because I work daily with people who love me. They don’t just coexist with me, they love me. I’m not alone because I have a group of friends who know me, the good and the bad, and they still love me. I’m developing loving relationships with new people every day: new coworkers, new roommates, blog friends. And lastly, I’m not alone because I’ve gotten to know myself a lot lately and, what do you know, I really like “me.”

Let’s go back to that “blog friends” thing. I feel so much love from YOU. This outlet has helped me meet so many people in the last few months and brought me out of my bubble more than I ever thought I could. Everyone who has ever commented, even the people I haven’t met and may never meet in real life, have been nothing but kind. You guys show me love every time you read the words I put down and care when I open up to you. People who have never even met me but still feel some connection to me. I feel love from you.

So even though this Valentine’s Day I’m no longer the other half in a happy couple, I’m not alone.

And regardless of your situation, you’re never alone either.

Now who wants to send me some chocolate-covered strawberries?Valentines-Day-Cape-Cod

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My Favorite Things About Christmas

Dean Martin Christmas Music

For as long as I can remember, this has been my favorite Christmas album to play on repeat the second Thanksgiving is over. I love every single song on it, especially “A Marshmallow World.” There’s something beautiful about his old-school crooning, and it’s just full of pure, upbeat, happy Christmas tunes. Michael Buble’s Christmas CD comes in close second, but Dean Martin will always be my number one.

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White Christmas

On that note, let’s talk Christmas movies. Of course I love the new ones like Elf and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but nothing will beat White Christmas. It is without a doubt my favorite Christmas movie, and definitely one of my favorite movies of all time. I love popping it into the DVD player and delving into the four characters’ stories. I get sucked in year after year – the music is classic and the dancing is fantastic. It’s a real treasure of a film and I love curling up with hot chocolate to watch it. I’m excited too because I just found out there’s an old music/movie theater a few blocks from my apartment that’s playing White Christmas on the big screen in the weeks leading up to Christmas! How fun! Now to recruit an accomplice…

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One of the best scenes from the movie…

Picking Out a Real Tree

My family has always held a firm position that there is no fake tree on the planet that can outshine a real one. My dad *claims* when we were two or three that the family chopped down our own, but sine there’s no photo evidence I have to classify that as legend. Nonetheless every year my dad, brother and I hop in the Highlander and pick out a real, live, pine-smelling, needle-dropping tree. It’s a tradition I hold near and dear and am so happy that I got to do it this year the day before I moved.

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Decorating With My Family

Speaking of traditions, the four of us always find a few hours to gather around the tree, pull out all our old ornaments, sip eggnog and play the aforementioned Dean Martin. The best part is during “A Marshmallow World” when Dean Sing’s about a “Pumpkin Head” and my dad just bursts out laughing at my unfortunate nickname. We always talk about each ornament, where it came from, and why it’s important. We have ornaments from both my parents’ houses growing up as well as family ornaments we’ve accumulated over the years AND ones specifically for life milestones for Steve and me. It’s fun to remember all those times in little globes of glass.

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Candy Dishes

Enough said. I’ve already gone through a bag of Hershey kisses and I’m WELL on my way to finishing the other two bags of Dove Chocolates. No regrets.

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Holiday Parties

I was lucky enough to make the Holiday Party for the Windy City Blogger Collective (WCBC). I just joined now that I’m a resident of 60657 (woo!) and already I know I made a great decision! The holiday party took place at a swanky Gold Coast restaurant called Del Frisco’s. There was coat check (wait I don’t have to find a booth in the corner to hide my coat under?) and even a girl with a guest list – like, a physical, on-a-clipboard, guest list. It took her a few extra seconds to find my name and I thought I for sure wasn’t cool enough to get in. But pretty soon I was clunking around in my heels with a glass of Prosecco in my hand, hob-knobbing with the finest bloggers in the city. (I’ve always wanted a reason to use the verb hob-knob — score!) This night marked an even bigger occasion, though — I FINALLY MET SUSIE! I definitely felt like I was sitting with the cool kids at the lunch table — this girl knows everyone! Not to mention she’s just as goofy and kind as you’d expect. I’ll admit it was a treat to see her many off-the-wall faces in real life and not just in photos. They are legit.

Another surprise was meeting Cara from Fit Busy Female (who has already stolen my future life by marrying a perfect Chicago man and naming their firstborn Addison. Blast.) and Erin from Loop Looks. Both incredible women who I look up to as well. I love meeting people who started in a job they didn’t love but who took initiative to create a unique path for themselves. It was wonderful chatting with everyone!

Ironically enough I’ve never taken worse photos than I did at this event.

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Snagged myself a pair of the striped socks

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Shitty photo, great prosecco

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Unbelievable chandelier

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Mulitple-level wine cellar (*swoon*)

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Beautiful drinks, complete with berry and flower garnishes. Too bad I don’t like whiskey because these looked fabulous!

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You know it’s a snazzy affair if casual fire is involved

Aside from those god-awful photos, it was such a warm, welcoming and spirited event. My favorite part was knowing I was surrounded by passionate people. Everyone there has their “thing” — there were fashion bloggers, lifestyle writers, fitness lovers and foodies galore. But everyone there has dedicated time and love to their passion and it’s an energy you can physically feel in a room. Definitely a wonderful first holiday party of the season.

Questions:

  • What’s your favorite Christmas movie?
  • Favorite holiday music/song?
  • Any big plans to host a holiday party this year? Or have you ever been to any crazy-classy parties in the past? Do tell!

Celebrating Christmas

To say that the last week has been a whirlwind would be an understatement. As I’m sure it was for the rest of you, it was a week filled with friends coming home, family, and lots of food and drinks.  I shared a few of my holiday recipes last week but besides those I was busy making reindeer cookies, saltine cracker toffee (my new favorite), gingerbread men, and a blue cheese and candied walnut salad for the holiday gatherings I attended.

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I also had a lot of free time because my new job doesn’t start until the first week in January so aside from all the baking I filled my time with lots of spin classes, drinks with friends, and going to one of my old high school team’s basketball games.

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Christmas day itself was more low-key than in years past, and it went by without a hitch.  Aside from my chocolate-filled stocking, I got the Lululemon bag that I’d had my eye on so I can’t complain!

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Even though my heart was in Texas (Zman went home to visit his family in Dallas) it was a beautiful day filled with wonderful family and great food!

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We enjoyed an extensive list of treats: spinach-artichoke dip, cream cheese and cranberry roll-ups, mimosas (the best part about any holiday celebration), lobster bisque, salad (my no-fail recipe is mixed greens, blue cheese crumbles, craisins, candied walnuts, and a creamy balsamic vinaigrette), spanakopita, pork, cookies and “homemade” peppermint ice cream (vanilla ice cream softened and mixed with crushed candy canes and peppermint extract).

Somehow after some heavy sampling of all the food we had to offer, I made it to the gym about 9:30 that night.  It was a ghost town!

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I hung out on the ellipitcal while watching the Kardashian Kristmas special. Say what you want but it’s good entertainment.

So that was my day! Thankfully now that the holiday rush is over I can get back to blogging on the reg. Next up: planning our NYE party! I can’t believe it’s less than a week away! Pinterest, here I come.

Questions:

  • What was the best part of your holiday celebration?
  • What was the best thing you ate?

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WIAW + it’s beginning to look a lot like christmas

I’m officially in the holiday spirit. Sure, I have a bad cold thanks to the lovely winds and quick weather changes that the Midwest so graciously provides each and every year. Yeah, I’m still working doubles almost every day this week. But you know what? It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

Starbucks transported me into a winter wonderland yesterday, where I got a lot of my work done.  Breakfast was enjoyed with a cappuccino in a holiday cup, surrounded by Christmas jazz, and a background of mini Christmas trees.

ImageNo room for Scrooges here–I’ll get my work done with a smile and enjoy the holiday season as it approaches. After all, it’s always gone before I know it.

Lunch was basically breakfast part two. I think I have an egg addiction…even though my doctor warned me about my cholesterol (successfully making me feel like an overweight, middle-aged Italian mobster) I just can’t get enough.  

ImageLunch was a two egg omelet filled with green and red peppers, onions, cheddar cheese, red pepper flakes, and served alongside veggie sausage patties.  I really need to update my meal rotation.

I had more work to complete throughout the afternoon but of course I made time for snacks:Image

Homemade ginger lemonade (to help fight the cold), no sugar applesauce with tons of cinnamon, and a peanut butter english muffin (sprinkled with chia and flax seeds.  i love me some omega-3s).

Serving was busy as I was up in the bar, but the fact that people seem to get friendlier as the holidays approach helped a lot. I wish people could feel that warm and fuzzy all year long, especially towards their servers 😉

Dinner was eaten at the restaurant while I closed up shop.

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Vegan chili (black beans, red beans, chickpeas, and tons of veggies topped with avocado, red onion, and tomatoes). The fact that I made it through this meal without adding cheese or corn bread astonished me too.

I got home just in time for Modern Family to start. I cuddled up on the couch with some cheese, crackers, apples, and peanut butter and called it a night. ((I wasn’t kidding when I said I’m always hungry))

I hope you’re all enjoying the holiday cheer! It might not be time to turn on the Christmas music station, but the feeling is in the air!  Have a great Wednesday and eat lots of goooood eats.

Question:

  • Is it too early to listen to holiday music?

Thought for the day:

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Weekend happenings

Well it was a jam-packed weekend full of family, friends, and of course tons of food.

The weekend started Saturday morning with another early morning spin class.  I swear to god the classes get harder every week! The instructor keeps upping the resistance so there’s a lot less sprinting and a lot more chugging along up imaginary hills. Needless to say, the small, non-air conditioned room with 30 people sweating up a storm makes for a very “cleansing” workout. No wonder hot yoga is such a good workout!

After spin class I rushed home to jump in the car with my family and go to Michigan for the weekend.  

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We’ve been going to the same beach area for 19 years now as a family–it’s one of our treasured family traditions.

Unfortunately we hit MAJOR traffic on the way down there.  It was such a bummer and we were all cranky and in need of some good food the minute we hit the Michigan border.

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The Blue Plate Cafe is one of our favorite breakfast spots in the area. They always have a million baked goods as well as fresh smoothies and other breakfast creations.

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After three cups of coffee with cream (hey, it was vacation!) I settled on a tomato/spinach/pesto egg scramble served with rosemary potatoes.  I also chose a side of cinnamon-raisin bread.

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The eggs and potatoes were out of this world! I loved the pesto with the eggs.  You couldn’t see it but you could taste it, so I guess a little really does go a long way! The cinnamon raisin bread was just okay. I wish I had saved my “sweet spot” for something better from their pastry area.

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Nom. Their special that day was pistachio chocolate scones.  Too bad I’m not a huge scone fan or I would have scooped those right up.  Pistachio is great in desserts!

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I love how it’s a family in the kitchen…so simple and authentic.

Even though it was cloudy we decided to hit up the beach.  I’m thankful that we did because the sun came out later in the day and we all benefited physically/emotionally from its presence.

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Sunday played much in the same way, with one exception: a phenomenal dinner!

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Red Arrow Roadhouse is without a doubt our favorite restaurant in the New Buffalo/Bridgman area in Michigan.  We have been coming to this same place for years and years and it never disappoints! My brother and dad claim it has the best ribs and while I’m not a big meat eater, I always find something great to eat there.

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We started off with the same appetizer that we always get here:

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The always-healthy homemade potato chips topped with blue cheese and scallions.

Since I knew ice cream was coming later and I was craving vegetables I went with a side salad and the crab cake appetizer.

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The crab cakes were on top of a salad with lemon vinaigrette which was great. I haven’t had nearly as much fish as I usually like to have during the summer months so it was nice to have this treat.

I also captured a picture of the “famous ribs”

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Also worth noting was what happened AFTER dinner.  THIS PIE.

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My dad ordered a piece of homemade blueberry pie and it was the most delicious pie I’ve ever had! I think I liked it even more because it wasn’t served piping hot like most pies are.  It was just warm which made it easier to enjoy along with the cold vanilla ice cream. I had to steal a few bites and I’m not the least bit sorry about that.

On our way out of town we stopped at another favorite:

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You can’t come to New Buffalo and not go to Oink’s.  I even have a piggy keychain from the place because I consider myself a devoted follower of their ice cream goodness.

I came in wanting coffee ice cream and left with this:

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Carrot cake ice cream?! Could there be anything more beautiful?

After my family rolled me back into the car we hit the road for our drive home.  It was a beautiful weekend and it was so nice to be able to keep the family tradition alive for another year, even though my brother and I are both 22!  We’re lucky that our schedules all aligned to make it happen.  I even got a little color and didn’t burn like a lobster! Woooo!

Question: how did you spend your Labor Day weekend?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detox Monday

Detox can be a scary word. I always read about cleanses and want to try them…then I remember that I love food and that a juice cleanse or seriously restricting diet would be way too hard and I’d just be setting myself up for failure.  So today, I’m starting fresh after 5  days of not-so-healthy eating.  

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t shove Twinkies down my throat and wash them down with Doritos and a Big Gulp. But I always get a little lackadaisical with the sweets/pizza/alcohol  on holidays. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that! There’s nothing better than celebrating with friends and family and forgetting the “rules” of everyday life, then getting back to good habits the next day.

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So today, I start a 7 day “adventure” of clean eating!  Here’s my version of a detox, one that I’m hoping will leave me feeling lighter and cleansed.

Eat This

VEGGIES, Fruits, H20, Green Tea, Oatmeal, Eggs, Avocado, Lean Protein, Brown Rice, Ezekiel Bread, Dandelion Root Tea, Plain Greek Yogurt, Boca sausage and burgers, etc

Not That

Milk, cheese, anything fried, added butter/oil, SWEETS

I don’t drink much milk so that won’t be a problem.  The cheese and sweets part? That’s my biggest issue 🙂 I’ve done this before though and it does make me feel great.  There’s a reason this is only 7 days though…I love my cheese and sweets! I just need to get back into a good balance of eating.

Day 1 wasn’t bad at all! Good thing I love veggies 🙂

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Breakfast was an amazing 2 egg omelette with onions and garlic (both GREAT for detoxing) as well as green peppers.  I topped it with sliced avocado and sea salt. It was so satisfying it kept me full for hours.

I did some grocery shopping this afternoon to supply this lovely eating plan.

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It’s like a rainbow woooo!

Stars of the show were kale (gonna try making kale chips good luck to me), Yogi detox tea made with dandelion root, sugar snap peas, mangoes, and cucumbers. I have so many ideas of how to use these new products I can’t wait!

I reheated a veggie burger that my Dad grilled last night.  A burger with no cheddar is not nearly as delicious but oh well–it’s only a week.  I topped the burger with spinach, iceberg lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, ketchup and mustard. Such a summer meal.

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Soon after I went to the gym.  I ran 5 miles while watching The Bachelorette–I didn’t think I was going to get into this season but I really like Des more as it goes along. I’m rooting for Chris but we’ll see what happens!

I came home and made a Chocolate Cherry protein smoothie.

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Recipe to come!

I ended the night with a veggified snack.

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The picture makes me miss the buttery popcorn I was snacking on this weekend instead

…..but I know I’ll feel a million times better by Sunday 🙂

Happy post-holiday week!