weekend happenings

Weekend happenings: hello, Spring!

There was a lot of sweating, a lot of pavement-pounding, a lot of celebrating this weekend.

It all started Thursday night with an event at one of my favorite studios, Sweat Chicago. They threw a St. Patrick’s Day workout/happy hour called “Sweat, Sliders and Brews.” The workout started at 7:45 and was followed immediately by food and drinks from Hopsmith Tavern (another place I’ve been keen on ever since I learned they have a giant Twister board in their upstairs bar). I’ve been to a handful of workout/happy hour combo events since I moved to the city, but nothing kicked my butt more than Thursday night’s workout.

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What was supposed to be a quick 45 minute workout turned into a hellish three-workout partner combo: A 15-minute AMRAP, an 8-minute AMRAP, and a partner chipper workout. Oh, and the warmup was a burpee contest (which I supposedly “won” but I must have counted wrong because I got 31 in two minutes and I swear to god I’ve never done more than 15 in a minute but hooookay). Needless to say it was a doozy. The chipper was fun because we got to choose how we broke up the exercises, so a lot of teamwork and communication was happening the whole time. We were matched with a partner we didn’t know, and while in typical ice breaker activities this is one of my biggest pet peeves, ever since I’ve become more comfortable in the fitness community in Chicago I think it was a great idea. I was paired with a really nice girl who had never been to Sweat before so I was happy to make her feel more comfortable and have fun with the workout.

After we finally finished, it was time to attack the food. My favorite part about fitness junkies? We know how to EAT. No rabbit food here.

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Buffalo chicken sliders, mini chili dogs, sliders, cobb salad chicken wraps, hummus, ranch, and veggies. Plus a post-sweat drink (beer never tasted so good!)

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We came. We sweat. We conquered.

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Other events the past few days included date night with my one and only (aka my best friend and the only man who will let me dress him up for a lululemon photo shoot and then make him buy me tacos).

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I did my duty and exposed yet another friend to the beauty that is Velvet Taco. Spencer is obsessed now too and we have a standing lunch date next Saturday. It’s kind of a big deal.

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I’m eating my way through their menu, so I tried two new tacos: the Annatto Shredded Pork (avocado crema, house shred, grilled pineapple, pickled onion, queso fresco, and cilantro) and the Rotisserie Chicken (white queso, roasted corn pico, cilantro, and smoked poblano salsa).

Since I plan on trying everything on the menu (except beef options) AND it’s officially March Madness season, I’m thinking I should start a Taco Bracket for this place. Right now the Tikka Chicken and the Rotisserie Chicken would be leading the pack, but I’ll be sure to go back and do further research.

Of course the weekend wouldn’t be complete without some St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans. It was a bright and sunny day spent outside with friends. And although I almost ate a piece of pizza off the ground (that is not even remotely close to an exaggeration), I was one of the behaved ones. Check out that police blotter!

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The rest of the week I was busy chipping away at my #100milemarch challenge (which is going really well, by the way!) Daylight Savings + weather in the mid 50s all week made for perfect running temps. I ran almost every day last week and even though my legs felt like tree trunks through some of those miles, I didn’t regret a single run. I love my city when it starts to come alive this time of year.

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Bridge pic – can you tell it’s rush hour?

I even managed to snap a quick video of the beach just after the sunrise on my long run Saturday morning

Spring is in the air and you can feel it. It’s the perfect time to tackle those fitness goals you’ve been putting off since January, and definitely a great time to get creative in the kitchen. I know this is the time of year when my creative juices start flowing!

Questions:

  • Who wants to come visit me? I’m in the mood to host 🙂 If you visited, what’s the ONE thing you’d want to do in Chicago?
  • St. Patty’s Day — did you celebrate?
  • Outdoor running — is your town ready, or are you still buried by winter
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Whoops I almost missed Monday

So….apparently it’s Monday. I definitely knew that I just couldn’t get it together to write last night. I was up way past my bedtime thanks to the SNL40 Special, which was everything I hoped it would be and more. Did anyone else watch? What’s your favorite SNL skit of all time? I say anything with Kristin Wiig or Stefon. Or whenever Jimmy Fallon was in a sketch and he breaks out laughing (in other words, every skit he’s ever been in). Or when Justin Timberlake, the most talented man on the globe, makes an appearance. Or The Californians. Too many great moments to choose from!

It was such a full weekend — I spent almost every minute with friends.

Friday night I went home for my high school’s annual fundraiser. Every year they shut down for about a week and turn the place into a “town.” The hallways are completely decorated, the gym is turned into a casino, and each classroom is booked by local bands or comedy groups (usually parents and alumni).  I’d been in the past when I was in high school (the under 21 crowd goes on Thursday nights every year) but this was my first year going on the weekend. Nothing like seeing your Catholic high school dean drunk in the hallways where she once yelled at you for not having your shirt tucked in. Good times.


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You can’t tell but this picture was taken in front of my Freshman/Senior year locker. It was so funny to be there with a drink in my hand (let’s not even get started on the fact that there was a margarita machine in my old AP Government classroom).

Saturday was about as stereotypical as it gets — no shame.

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Red Robin lunch date with Kari + the above movie. If you need me to explain then you’ve obviously been living on a rock so we can just move past that. All I’ll say is, if you read the books, it was a really good adaptation to the big screen. If you didn’t read them, you probably thought the world is going to hell in a hand basket.

I rushed back home to the city that night just in time for a romantic roommate dinner at Portillo’s, aka the one place that didn’t require a reservation.

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I dove headfirst into the chopped salad because I truly believe it is made of sparkles and rainbows. I almost went for the famous cheese fries but knew I needed room for the real star of the show:

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Love Is: CAKE SHAKE. For any non-Chicagoans out there, it is a chocolate shake with a piece of chocolate cake blended into it. And it is fabulous.

I made grand plans to go out on Saturday night but the windchill was below zero so I spent the night in front of a space heater, eating chocolate from my freezer and watching shitty Netflix movies.

I had to work on Sunday but once I was off I stopped by Trader Joe’s, got the fixins for make-your-own pizzas and headed to Spencer’s for the SNL special. It was a fun group of people and I ate my body weight in pizza, Ranch Wheat Thins (revolutionary!) and red velvet bundt cake.

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My face hurt from laughing so hard during the three and a half hour-long show. I was a little sad that the “confirmed” N*SYNC reunion didn’t happen haha but there was way too much good stuff to even notice.

So all in all, it was the best kind of weekend. Minus the fact that I didn’t work out once…yikes. Back on that train today, I guess!

Other highlights from the weekend:

  • I tried Jimmy John’s for the first time and didn’t hate it
  • Taylor Swift finally put out the “Style” music video
  • I helped Whitney from this season of “The Bachelor” pick out yoga pants at lululemon. Don’t say I never did my part to change the world.

Questions:

  • Pizza: homemade or delivery?
  • Did you watch the SNL special? What’s your favorite sketch of all time?
  • How was your Valentine’s Day?

Weekend Happenings: #diningin update, Swift-level 10, and Sweat Chicago

Well I officially went a full week without going out to eat! I technically did pay for a slice of pizza in the wee hours of the morning after last night, but that doesn’t really count, right? Because of this challenge I was able to force myself to be more creative in the kitchen and be better about prepping food the night before. When your veggies are chopped and your snacks are all in Ziploc bags in your purse, it makes #diningin so much easier. It didn’t even feel like a challenge, to be honest. That being said, OF COURSE I decided to do this challenge during RESTAURANT WEEK in Chicago haha. OF COURSE I did.

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The best thing I ate all week (3 times, actually)?

Sweet Potato Nachos. Susie, I will forever be indebted to you for this inspiration.

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I’m also back on a Vitatop craze. Have you ever had them? They’re 100 calories (chocolate chips not included haha) and they taste like a piece of chocolate cake. They aren’t the cheapest things in the world but they were on sale at Jewel so I stocked up on a few boxes to satisfy my ever-present chocolate cravings.

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And instead of going out to brunch on Sunday, Megan and I had  the brilliant idea of inviting friends over and making our own. It was the best idea we’ve had in awhile and for approximately $0 we had an incredible two hour meal full of eggs, potatoes, banana muffins, mimosas, and country music.

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Don’t look at me like that. I worked up quite the appetite the night before dancing until dawn. My friend Kelsey was housesitting for a verrrrry wealthy family in Lincoln Park so we had a few drinks there before going out. We spent a few hours drinking nice wine, eating nice cheese, and taking “fancy lady” photos in their living room. And next to their elevator (that was IN the house). I honestly didn’t know places like this existed in Chicago.

unnamed (15)Afterwards we met up with some friends for a girls night out in the River North neighborhood. We danced until the wee hours of the morning. Those are the best kind of nights — you start off at a Swift-level 2, just bopping around in a general fashion.

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By midnight you start throwing some random arm motions in there, taking it to a Swift-level 5…

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And then by 2am it’s a full-blown Swift-level 10, and you think you’re the hottest thing in the fifteen-mile radius.

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So true.

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On the workout front it was a pretty successful week. I’ve stuck to my goal of working out 5x/week in 2015, but haven’t been able to make it 6x, like I said I was trying to do lately. Oh well — 5 feels like a great balance, where I can still manage to work, write, have a social life, and workout consistently. I’m just going to go with it.

Weekly Workouts

  • Monday: Sweat Chicago (bootcamp #1)
  • Tuesday: 25 min HIIT
  • Wednesday: 5 mile run
  • Thursday: Yoga Sculpt (60 min)
  • Friday: Sweat Chicago (bootcamp #2)
  • Saturday: REST
  • Sunday: REST

Bootcamp #1

6 Rounds of :45 Work/:15 Rest at Each Station of:

  • Rowing
  • Box Jumps
  • 5% Incline Walk (4.5 Speed) w/ DB Presses
  • Double Crunches
  • KB Goblet Squats
  • Plank Row to T Rotation w/ DB

Bootcamp #2

3 Rounds w/ 1min Rest Between of:

  • 4min Incline Run (Increase Incline 1% EMOTM)
  • 1min Rest
  • 4min AMRAP of:
  • 8 Push Ups
  • 8 Tricep Box Dips
  • 8 DB Bent Over Tricep Ext (Together)
  • 8 DB Curl & Presses
  • 1min Rest
  • 4min AMRAP of:
  • 8 Russian Twists (Per Side)
  • 8 Sit Ups
  • 8 DB Toe Touches

I’ve been attending Sweat a lot more lately, as I’ve grown close to the owner and a lot of the people who workout there. I love that it’s always a variety of high intensity exercises that last approximately an hour, but it doesn’t include Olympic-size weights. Now that I’ve officially lived in the city for just over two months, I’m going to calm down on the “try all the workouts in Chicago” approach and start being more consistent at Sweat. I’ve settled on what I love and what I don’t care for, and I know that at the end of the day, consistency is key to me being in the best shape. So Sweat it is!

Phew. Is it Friday yet? I want to do it all over again.

Questions:

  • What was the best thing you ate all weekend?
  • Vitatops: yay or nay?
  • Dancing: do you follow my Swift-levels theory or are you just an all-out amazing/terrible dancer?

Weekend Writer’s Block — Adventures in Chiberia

**Disclaimer: massive amounts of writer’s block going on over here. Please excuse what can only be described as a random explosion of my thoughts**

Don’t you hate days when you want to write, but you just can’t come up with the right words? I guess we’ll just have to do what anyone would do in an awkward situation: talk about the weather.

I have never seen such a drastic change in weather conditions.

24 hours ago I was casually running along the Lake Shore path in crops and a vest. And today? This is what we woke up to:

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Over a foot of snow. And the one thing I learned about living in the neighborhoods now instead of directly downtown? No one shovels anything. The sidewalks were a disaster. But let’s backtrack…

Friday night I went bowling with my college friends. I always go into bowling thinking I’m really good and then I’m lucky if I break 100. It’s that lefty curse, I’ll tell ya.

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Saturday was “date day” with my mom to round out her birthday week. We spent the afternoon baking cookies and went to our favorite suburban sandwich shop for the best tuna melt in the continental US. This will always be “our spot.”

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I got back to the city around 5pm, but since it was almost spring-like on Saturday and I knew a blizzard was coming, I threw on my running shoes the second I walked into my apartment, turned right around, and knocked out a beautiful 6 miler along the lake.

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I really went for it, outfit-wise: camo running pants, purple shoes, black vest, orange top. Ridiculous.

Saturday night was spent celebrating Spencer’s birthday. I’m so lucky to have that guy in my life. We’ve been friends since we met on the first day of high school and it really is awesome that we’ve managed to stay close ever since. We went to Headquarters in Lincoln Park, a bar completely dedicated to arcade games, so it was a fun night filled with singing Blink182 in cabs and playing pinball.unnamed (25)

Aaaaand then the Great Blizzard of 2015 hit. Okay, New York, you’ve got nothing on us. It started snowing last night around 8pm and hasn’t stopped since. We were able to catch a cab to our Superbowl shindig but ended up having to walk home afterwards…a not so pleasant experience. It took us an hour to go one mile, most of it spent walking in the street because at least those were semi-plowed. Luckily we were able to laugh about it so we stopped a lot to take silly photos and eat the leftover cookies I brought to the party.

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Oh, and just because it wouldn’t be Superbowl Weekend without some commercial-talk, here is my favorite ad of the night. I lose it every time the polar bear pops up.

Thank goodness there were still some funny ads  — too many of them made me want to either a) call my dad and tell him I love him or b) never have kids because apparently he or she might get into the chemicals under the sink. I’m all for the emotional but I’m not looking to cry when I’m elbows-deep in some buffalo chicken dip.

Sometimes weekends are a blur, and this was the case the past two days. But one thing I do know is I laughed non-stop. As I’m writing this up my cheeks hurt from all the laughter and smiling the past two days have brought me. I got to do all the things I love: run, eat buffalo chicken dip, watch football AND Katy Perry, celebrate a friend’s birthday, spend time with my family, and bake. Perfect.

And just because this is the funniest thing I’ve seen in awhile:

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Questions:

  • When you have writer’s block, what do you do? Write, or skip a day?
  • Favorite kind of cookie? I made monster cookies for the Superbowl: m&ms, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, oatmeal and rice krispies! They were killer.
  • Best thing you ate at your Superbowl Party? BUFFALO CHICKEN DIP

night at the museum

Sometimes I worry that eventually you’re all going to get sick of my weekend updates which end up usually like “look how much food I ate!!!!”. In this particular nightmare of mine I show off all the glorious snapshots of my meals and snacks and I come back to check the post and it’s crickets (well, besides my family commenting that I’m taking good care of myself and “looks like you’re having lots of laughs”).

So thank goooooodness I have something to else to share this time around. I had a wonderful weekend full of winter-running, body-sculpting, and museum-exploring. Classy, right?

I had my first bout of winter running which luckily I was able to make happen before the snow fell today. Yes, it’s currently snowing in the Windy City. But while it wasn’t snowing this particular day, it was in the 20s and I started out FREEZING. Thankfully, as usually happens with winter runs, I warmed up after the first mile or so, but those first ten minutes of freezing fingers is no fun at all.

unnamed (13)Yep, winter is here. Which means my bed and I are about to become even better friends.

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I was a good little runner and stretched/iced my knees and shins before hopping on a train downtown for a night at the museum. I enjoyed a little pre-museum cocktail on the train because it doesn’t get any classier than mini bottles of wine on the train.

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Thursday nights in November are free at the Art Institute of Chicago (recently rated #1 museum in the world!) and there’s a local bar nearby with 1/2 off bottles of wine so my night was basically decided for me. I mean, you don’t stumble upon deals like that very often in the city.

unnamed (12)The one time in the history of mankind that being an Illinois resident SAVED people money.

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My beautiful, beautiful city in the background. With a side of smirk. That is the face that still gets carded for R-rated movies so I’m not sure what I was trying to do here.unnamed (15)Megan learning about our favorite piece in the museum (that we saw. That place is HUGE and we’ll have to go back).
unnamed (17)unnamed (16)The folks at the Art Institute mean serious business. There were at least five security guards in every room of the place, and if you got too close to the art (ahem, my bad!) a quiet but noticeable alarm went off. I mean, if you’re going to be #1 in the world I suppose you should preserve the art. Understood.

The rest of the weekend wasn’t nearly as exciting, but I did learn a few valuable lessons that I thought I’d share:

1) Don’t sit next to the heater in hot yoga sculpt.

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So. much. sweat. I could SEE the heat blowing into the room above me. Oh, don’t forget your water bottle. Oh, and wait until everyone is out of the room before you take a mirror selfie. I wanted to turn around and say IT’S OKAY I HAVE A BLOG DON’T WORRY! I JUST HAD TO DOCUMENT THE SWEAT!

2) Don’t show up at a pizza place ten minutes before it closes because they’ll be almost out of deep dish and instead of two slices of the good stuff you’ll be forced to have one slice of thin crust. Thieves.

unnamed (19)Thin crust being smothered by its deep dish counterpart. Crushing the competition since 1943.

3) Don’t assume no one can hear what music you’re listening to. Because you’ll end up listening to this song on repeat and then realize everyone around you can hear and is actually getting pretty sick of the song. I have so many new friends on the train!

I learned some valuable lessons this weekend, scored a great deal on a classy evening, and even worked out a bit. All the best things in life! Also, lucky you, you got to see my face FOUR times in one post – I’ve definitely hit my quota for the week.

Questions:

  • How was your weekend?
  • What’s a life lesson you recently learned?

NASM update, metta success, and college-town cavorting

It’s been awhile since we’ve talked, hasn’t it?

I was on a serious roll the past few months, but I have to be honest: the next two months I’m going to be just a bit less consistent. I’m in the home stretch of NASM studying and really need to focus on that. It’s tough to work, blog, and study, not to mention be committed to fitness and having a semblance of a social life while doing those three things. Writing is my outlet, though, so I’ll still be around. But that NASM textbook is my new #1 priority until the second week of January.

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The metta movement on Friday was a HUGE success! Dave DID run the full 100 miles and raised more than his $25,000 goal – last time I checked he was at $28,950! That means even MORE kids are going to have that life-altering surgery. I’m not going to lie–the whole experience moved me. We surprised Dave by holding up photos of the kids he was running for and he broke down in tears every time. Needless to say we all broke down as well. I had a moment later in the weekend where I realized just how crazy it is that $250, something I would spend on clothes, shoes or food in a few weeks, can completely transform a child’s life. It is the difference between living as a leper and living in a world of possibility. I thought about those 100 kids that Dave’s feat is going to help. That’s 100 people who will now be able to thrive in society – they may go to college and discover the cure for cancer or become a global diplomat and solve world hunger. It’s just a mind-blowing thought and extremely, extremely humbling.

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I spent the remainder of my weekend in Ann Arbor on a road trip with my girlfriends from college. Martina (think hipster-architect and probably the actual inventor of Pinterest) is going to the University of Michigan for grad school (Go Blue!) so we drove up to spend the weekend with her. We ate bagels and pizza like it was going out of style, laughed constantly, and danced until the early hours of the morning, losing complete track of time.

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See this is what I hate about not blogging for a few days – I start to remember a million random things I want to share with you all and there’s just no ebb and flow to the post anymore. Maybe I should rename my blog to “I Had A Big Lunch – Now Read My Word Vomit.” But anyway, did I tell you that I tried barre finally? I’ll share my review of the studio another day but it totally kicked my butt in a way that my butt has never been kicked. It wasn’t a “holy crap look how much I’m sweating” -type workout. More of a “holy crap how long can I hold my leg up like this before getting a debilitating charlie horse” and “holy crap there are a lot of mirrors in this room so I should probably actually hold a firm core for the first time in the history of a group fitness class.” Stellar.

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Just another new fitness routine to add to the mix. Can we add another day to the week so I can fit in all the workouts I want to do every week? That would be perfect.

So tell me…

Questions:

  • When was the last time you stayed in a college town? Did you have a blast or feel like an old prune in a sea of young, prime grapes?
  • What’s your opinion on barre workouts?
  • What was something funny, embarrassing or crazy about your weekend? Did you finally go for it and spend $15 on that jar of nut butter or spend six consecutive hours watching cat videos on YouTube?

Halloween 2020

In a surprising twist of events, Halloween 2020 ended up happening six years early.

Apparently if you have an open day and a whole lot of friends whose plans are cancelled last minute, you can throw an adorable ALMOST Pinterest-esque Halloween party. No, there weren’t donuts hanging from trees or apple bobbing, but there was Catch Phrase, spiked cider and squash so I’d say it was a success.

I started off the day in pure pumpkin bliss: pumpkin pancakes (my favorite Kodiak cakes + pure canned pumpkin + spices) and coffee filled to the brim with Bailey’s pumpkin spice creamer.

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Once I heard that people were going to come over after all, I got to the prep. We ended up with quite the feast, thanks to some easy recipes and family brainstorming.

The final spread:

  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Tortilla chips and homemade guacamole
  • Grapes
  • Clementine Jack-o-Lanterns
  • Greek yogurt Spinach dip and pita crisps
  • Candy corn and peanuts
  • Spiked cider
  • Dirt cups (vanilla pudding + orange food coloring and crumbled oreos)
  • Delicata squash roasted with coconut oil, stevia and cinnamon

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We spent the night listening to the monster mash, handing out candy to a dozen characters from Frozen, playing Catch Phrase, and watching “Zodiac.” It was everything I imagined my Halloween 2020 party to be and more.

And just when I thought the weekend couldn’t get any better, I totally kicked butt in the breakfast department on Saturday. I was running early for work so I decided to take myself on a little date to my favorite bagel shop downtown, NYC Bagel Deli. This place rocks my world. I had an everything bagel with two eggs, cheddar cheese, tomatoes and green peppers.

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Please let there be bagel sandwiches in heaven.

Questions:

  • How did you spend your Halloween?
  • What’s your favorite Halloween candy?
  • Have you ever played board games at a party? What’s your favorite?