travel

the sunshine award: I promise I’m unique!

Holla at my fellow Chicagoan SuzLyfe for nomiating me for the Sunshine Award! You know what that means…you’re about to learn new, random, unique things about me!  I never in a million years thought that strangers on the internet would want to know intimate details about me, and I wouldn’t be creeped out by it. In fact, it only seems appropriate that you all get to know more about what makes me, me, other than my insatiable love and need for food and a good sweat session. So without further ado….

Image

1. I have been to 12 different countries. My favorite place was Prague in The Czech Republic, and my lease favorite was Venice, Italy. I haaaated that place. It was a claustrophobic girl’s worst nightmare.

Image

2. Speaking of that, I’m claustrophobic. I had a traumatizing experience when I was little where I got trapped crawling through a dark tunnel, with someone in front of me and behind. It was the worst feeling of my life and I’ll never forget that panic. Ever since then, I can’t be in small, dark, enclosed spaces, and if I’m locked in somewhere, I have a panic attack.

3. In high school I pierced my cartilage with a safety pin (it didn’t end well)

4. My head is too big to fit into hats. I just tell myself it’s because I have too big of a brain 😉

5. I ate so much cereal in college that some of my friends referred to me as the “cereal killer”. I even went as that for Halloween once.

ImageImage

6. I have a twin brother!

Image

7. Austin is my favorite city in America

ImageImageImage

8. I lived in Washington D.C. for a summer – and in two months made some of the best friends in the world. We still talk today!

Image

9. I’m in a sorority – Pi Beta Phi

Image

10. I was a barista in college. It was a humbling experience but also one of the most fun. I wish everyone could work in the food industry for at least a year because it really gives you a whole new outlook on life. Plus, I got free drinks whenever I wanted, so not only did I make money but imagine how much I saved on coffee throughout college!

Image

So there’s that! I feel like you know me on a whollllle new level now. But now I need to hear some random things from you! Tell me something unique about yourself! Give me some workday entertainment.

Advertisements

What if nothing were stopping you?

First thing’s first…is that title grammatically correct? It’s bugging me…

I’m not sure if any of you follow Lululemon on Instagram but recently they started a campaign called #ifnothing, the theme being “If nothing were stopping me I would…”. Some of the funny ones that people have already shared are pretty great:

ImageImage

unnamed

It’s an interesting concept, really. What is it that holds us back in life? For me, I’m not married, I don’t have any kids. I have two jobs that I depend on for money and pay back my student loans, but if I really saved I’m sure I could make time for whatever it is that I want. Okay well not everything, but things that would make me happy.  So what would do if nothing was holding me back?

Travel once a month

Image

If time, money, and culture permitted it, I think the world would be a lot happier if we could take vacations once a month. I’m not a lazy bum who just wants to lay on a beach, escaping from the “stress” of my life. What I’m saying is I want my life to be full of adventure, exploration and travel. First on my list? The Taj Mahal. It’s not the most traditional travel destination but I get goosebumps when I imagine visiting somewhere with a culture that is so drastically different from my own.

Image

Get a tattoo 

The only thing holding me back from this is the permanency. I’ve never done anything that permanent before so the thought of having something with me for the rest of my life is pretty daunting. But the “yolo” part of me deep down inside is just screaming “Go For It! Why Not?” So we’ll see. I’d probably get a small tattoo of the earth on my wrist.

Image

Buy a dog

Okay I have a valid excuse for this one. I’m suuuuper allergic to dogs! But honestly if I wasn’t so bad about putting it off I could be getting allergy shots so that within a few years I’d be fine owning a dog. I just want a pup to be active with! I’m always really jealous of people who have a dog to run with, play with, I only wish pugs were more active because mannnnnn do I want one.

Image

Run every race and go to every concert that comes to my city

Okay these go hand and hand because there is only one thing holding me back from them: MONEY. There are fun-themed 5ks and 8ks every weekend in Chicago, but they’re so gosh darn expensive! Also, you have to commit to them weeks in advance. Is it that much to ask that I wake up on a Saturday, see that there’s a 5k around my neighborhood, go to the site, pay, and run? In the perfect world….

Image

The same goes for concerts. Why are there all these fees? I just bought a concert ticket for $21 that, after fees, ended up being $39. What’s up with that? Convenience fee, facility fee, processing fee, oh my. I wish I could just walk up to the door the day of the concert, hand them $20 and listen to great music for an hour or two.

It seems like MONEY is what is holding me back. Sad, but true.

So what’s holding you back? #ifnothing

Boston Recap Day 2: Little Italy and my first lobster roll

Saturday was supposed to start with an awesome workout courtesy of Flywheel. There was a studio right by our hotel and your first class is free so I was super pumped to try it out (especially because the place we were staying didn’t have a fitness center).

Long story short, our alarm went off bright at early at 7am and I immediately hit snooze.

Is it me or is 7am on a vacation just too early?

Regardless, we slept for another hour and started our day around 9. We went to Render again for breakfast because in the three days I was in Boston I developed quite the obsession for latte art, so nothing exciting to share there. My latte, quiche and I were once again very happy.

Image

The majority of Saturday was spent in Boston’s Little Italy neighborhood. I know I haven’t been to New York yet so I’m sure this isn’t a shock to most people but I honestly didn’t realize that these ethnic neighborhoods were so cliché! There were big bulky men on the street talking about their mothers, the smell of pizza flew through the air, and everything seemed to be owned and employed solely by big Italian families.

Image

The best part about this area in Boston is that it isn’t just restaurants and bakeries. In the vicinity was also Paul Revere’s house and Old North Church.

Image

Paul Revere’s house was so cool! It was a very casual self-led tour (something I loved about Boston) where we simply got to walk through the home he shared with his second wife and kids for many years, all furnished as if the family was still living there. It’s hard to explain but it was so different and yet it felt strangely the same as any old millennial family home, just less evolved of course. The biggest difference is that all the kids had to share the third floor, which although we didn’t get to see sounded like one giant room. That kind of cramping would not fly with me. PS did you know they slept sitting up?!

We made our way from the house to Old North Church using the cobblestone side streets that give Boston its charm. The Church was beautiful and it was really cool to think that Paul Revere looked at that exact place where I was standing to see if the British were coming by land or by sea. That was a general theme to the weekend—I felt like I was part of a living history.

Image

One thing that I didn’t know about churches back in the day is that the pews weren’t the way they are set up now. In fact, the church was broken up into, well, cubicles. Each family purchased their own section to sit in and hear the word of God—those who couldn’t afford a section on the floor watched from above.

Image

One of the highlights of the trip was stumbling upon Mike’s Pastry. Zain and I turned a corner and there it was—it’s bright yellow sign towering over the humble little street. I hadn’t planned on stopping there actually (Flour was my bakery must-do) but I remembered reading about it somewhere so we figured it was fate and we should go inside to see what all the fuss is about.

ImageImage

Whoa.

My mom has brought home Italian cookies and pastries before, but to be honest they’re just not my thing. The cookies are weirdly dry and I’ve never liked canolis. This place, however, knocked my socks off.  Zain had a strawberry cannoli, which he loved. I tried the cream inside and it was perfect—it was so natural and homemade even though it’s bright pink color screamed “processed”. I, on the other hand, went small and tried a pistachio macaroon just for the heck of it. GUYS. I found my favorite cookie. It was so moist and dense and chewy and pistachio-y and coconut-y and light and fluffy and….I could go on and on. I loved it so much in fact that I made us go back a few hours later for another one.

ImageImageImage

Our original plan was to get lobster rolls of lunch in a whole other part of town but we were having so much fun in Little Italy that we decided to keep roaming for the afternoon and just snack all day on the cool things we discovered.

Pretty soon the smell of pizza in the air overtook us so a quick Yelp search took us to Galleria Umberto for some Sicilian-style pizza by the slice. It took close to 15 minutes for us to get through the line and to the cafeteria-style counter so we knew we were in the right place.

ImageImage

Pizza is pizza so there’s not much to say here. Zain is a plain jane and only really enjoys cheese pizza so we got three squares to share (I kicked mine up with red pepper flakes). Much like the cookies this pizza tasted incredibly fresh—you could see people in the back kitchen cooking away, like they do every day from sunrise to sunset. It was a cool thing to see, so many family-run places running on nothing but tradition, hard work, and loyal customers.

At this point it was snowing hard outside so we decided to go to Quincy Market again and look around the gift shop there (we got 50% off with our “Go-Boston” card). I got a cup of coffee from Starbucks and we walked around the shops and kiosks that make up the busy hall. The entire trip all I really wanted was a full-length documentary about the Revolutionary War—but as most things go, when you don’t want something and it’s temping you, it’s everywhere, but when you actually want something, you can’t find it. This happens to other people, right? I thought for sure we’d find some type of film—blame it on bad luck, blame it on not being tourist season, but we couldn’t find one anywhere. And while I was tempted to buy anything lobster-themed, I was good to my wallet and decided that my only souvenir would be my pictures and memories. We almost did buy Zain some colonial-inspired gear, though, just cuz he looked so darn cute in it.

Image

Afterwards we made our way to visit the Old South Meeting House downtown.

This place was so involved in our nation’s history! It was built in 1729 and was a general meeting house for the citizens of Boston. In fact, it was the organizing point for the Boston Tea Party! It was so cool to imagine people in there putting on their disguises and then walking down the same street we had just walked down to the Boston Harbor to dump the tea. Like I said, living history!

ImageImage

Zain was itching to go to the MIT Museum of Technology so we made a stop over there in the late afternoon as well. He was enthralled by the technology and hands-on exhibits, all of which were pretty cool (how are people SO smart??) I learned a lot thanks to a few interactive videos they had of MIT students explaining things with basic language for us less-than-genius folks.  For one thing, I learned how the internet works!  Haha not really but they explained how browsers, routers, and the global transfer of information work. Did you know that information is sent to other computers internationally through some kind of wires on the ocean floor? I was so floored! What’s all this “cloud” business about then?! I definitely butchered that whole explanation haha but it was so mind-boggling!

ImageImage

Thanks to the cold and snow we decided to rest up at the hotel for about an hour before dinner. After some more Yelp-searching I picked a well-known hole-in-the-wall restaurant for dinner: Neptune. Ironically enough it was just outside the Little Italy neighborhood so before we knew it we were back in the area. (It’s worth mentioning that the city’s subway, or “T”, is incredibly fast and efficient—these little journeys took almost no time at all).

Image

We arrived at Neptune knowing that the wait would be insane. And just as expected, we opened the tiny door to the tiny restaurant and were greeted by a host who let us know the wait would be 2 hours and 45 minutes. I have to say I think that wins the record for the longest I’ve waited for food. However, I know from past experience that these obscure places are oftentimes the best, so I assured Zain it would be worth the wait. Like I said, this place was small. The host recommended that we find a bar or café and wait there, and he would call us ten minutes before a table opened up. Cool system, right?

Image

We ended up hanging out at a coffee shop a few streets down, just talking for close to three hours. Time flew by like it always does when you’re with people you love just talking about life.

Around 9:30 my phone finally rang and we headed over to Neptune for dinner.

We ended up sitting at the bar, where we were greeted by yet another friendly bartender. He immediately asked us which types of oysters we wanted. Uhhhh I immediately declined. Oysters aren’t my thing. I’m a fishy girl and I could dive into a pot of mussels, but oysters? Nope. Just like Joey on Friends, they’re big old boogers to me.

Zain ordered the burger and I finally got my lobster roll 🙂

Image

I have to be honest with you—I really thought I was going to love it. Butter, lobster meat, bread…what could go wrong? But I didn’t. It was pretty good.  Maybe I wasn’t hungry enough for it? (We grabbed a few snacks while we were waiting at the café). I was surprised because I loved the cold lobster that was on my salad the night before. I guess I’m just a cold lobster roll girl. I never would have guessed.

Image

Between eating our way through Little Italy, snacking as we waited for an open table, and the ginormous lobster roll, I rode the T back to the hotel feeling like I was going to explode. I don’t often let myself get to that feeling anymore, and now I remember why. Being that stuffed is no fun. Overall it was just another food-filled day in Bean Town!

I was planning on doing a Day 3 recap, but to be honest most of it was spent at Logan Airport. We woke up and went to Render (surprise, surprise), but soon after that we headed to the airport so Zain would be able to watch the Patriots/Broncos playoff game. After a slight delay we were headed back home to Chicago. The weekend flew by but it was such a great vacation full of beautiful snow, delicious food, and moving historical sites. I loved it!

random thoughts friday

Vacation dreaming

I love to travel. I have a lot of favorite cities depending on what kind of trip I’m looking for.  Feeling patriotic? DC all the way.  Beauty in nature? Sioux Falls, South Dakota. International adventure? Prague Prague Prague.

But the one city that I think has it all…is Austin, TX.

Image

ImageImage

I’ve been there twice in the past year and a half and it. has. everything. From paddleboarding to live music to breakfast tacos and everything in between, I’m head over heels in love with Austin. Now that the weather is getting colder and colder I can’t stop dreaming about frozen margaritas overlooking Lake Travis while the sun goes down.  It’s a cheap trip and definitely worth it if you just want a few days away to escape to a land where there’s music in the streets and food trucks abound.

Food for thought (literally)

Image

It makes me so sad that my beloved Mars company is up there. M&Ms, I’ll never give you up but man, I just don’t feel good about looking at this chart.  I hate thinking that very few corporations have so much control over what I eat. I’ll never be fortunate enough to go totally organic, but this kind of thing makes me step back and really think about what I’m buying. There’s a reason why no conglomerate can get their hands on apples, you know? Whole foods FTW.

Why I love to write

Image

There’s something special about writing. Until I started this blog, I had pretty much stopped writing for fun, an activity that took up much of my life before I left for college. I’ve always been a million times better at writing than I am at speaking. There’s just something about a pen and paper that helps me get out exactly what I mean, with no fillers or things that can be misconstrued.  I’ve also always valued the fact that I can write down how I’m feeling and look back on it in retrospect. It’s almost as if with everything I’ve ever written I can get a better picture of who I was at that time, when all that I have besides my written words are pictures, and those don’t say much. Most people who write aren’t writing for the sake of it, but because they have something to share that they just can’t muster up the words for.  Even food bloggers, who don’t seem like they have anything important to say, are usually sharing some parts of their personal life through their blogs. People like me who have spent years trying to figure out the “right” way to eat and have come out on the other side just want to share their love for food and fitness to the world. We have something to say.  And while some people can read blogs like mine and think “what’s the point?” others read it and can relate.

Thanksgiving is almost here!

Thanksgiving is on the way! It’s no surprise that this is my favorite holiday of the year. I’d imagine that for many food bloggers it’s the same. And it’s funny because it’s not the food itself that gets me so excited for this day. I’ve always been in love with the process of making food. The family all jammed into a small kitchen, each calling dibs on different stovetops and oven temps. I love having football on in the background while we prepare mashed potatoes or set the table. The rituals are what I look forward to the most. The idea that it’s not about giving/getting things (which can be stressful) but just about being together to eat at one beautifully filled table once a year–that’s why I love turkey day!  In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here is the recipe I made for the big meal last year.  If you’re struggling to think of something to bring to your celebration, definitely consider this (minus the mushrooms because that’s just gross).

 

Burned out

I’ve worked out once this week. Oh well. I’ve been burned out. My days this week have been spent looking like this:

Image

I also have a pretty bad cold and this weather makes my asthma go nuts so nothing about waking up each morning made me want to exercise. The funniest part is that even though I’ve barely worked out all week, the world is still spinning. Weird, right?

Luckily New Girl has kept me great company. Until this passes, it’s just me, my couch, and Schmidt.

Image

Image

Happy Friday, everyone!