Dear Alison… {A Look Back at 2014}

‘Tis the last day of the two-thousand-fourteenth year of our Lord. Whoa whoa.

I was still a mime yesterday since my voice was nonexistent, and I felt slightly worse than I did on Monday, which was odd and unfortunate. A nosebleed both after breakfast and after dinner threw me off a lil’ bit. All is well though. I slept in, ate a delicious breakfast (that I could indeed taste!), and accomplished a lot!

Breakfast was a few baby slices of whole grain toast with sunflower seed butter and banana slices + two scrambled eggs with mixed greens.

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After nursing my nose, I chugged water and made some hot honey-lemon-mint water. I added lemon zest in addition to lemon juice, which created a beautiful aroma.

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I joined mom for a trip to Home Depot and Walgreens to pick up some items for the house, and then I spent the rest of the afternoon snacking rather than having a real lunch, since I ate breakfast at almost noon. But in addition to snacking all afternoon, I studied my Boston University tour guide notes and did an ab workout and stretching for some moves.

Dinner came later at 8pm involving simple green foods— avocado toast and salad with balsamic vinaigrette. Simplicity did the trick for my sick funk.

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Followed up by somethin’ sweet!

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Banana with peanut butter and unsweetened shredded coconut— heck yes. To be honest, I spent a little time trying to maneuver the banana so that it looked…presentable for the photo. Bananas are forever awkward. Just like me. You are what you eat!

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And nowww for the main event!

I’ve been loving reading other bloggers’ 2014 recaps and seeing friends and family post their reflections on social media. Of course, I want to join the end of the year party, so I’ve compiled twelve mini letters to myself for each month of the year. Basically, I’m going to tell myself how silly I was. And also how much I’ve grown as a person I guess. 😉

Thank YOU all for your incredible support through this little blog of mine. With so many changes happening this year, I wasn’t sure which path the blog would take, but I couldn’t be happier and more thankful for where it is right now. It’s all because of your love, encouragement, and conversation. Hugs, nut butter, and prayers for you all. ♥

Dear January Alison,

Congratulations on some college acceptances (Binghamton University, University of Maryland, University of Virginia)! Expanding your choices, uh oh. We all know you’re super decisive! Ha.

Also, congratulations on your first workout video! Except not really, because you can’t even see your legs at some parts of the video, and it’s a leg workout vlog. Quality work, kid.

But you did realize something important— that you weren’t giving your body as much rest as it needed. Thank you for that.

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Dear February Alison,

I’m laughing out loud because of this gem of a vlog (your first one ever!). You’re such a loner.

You seem to like writing letters to people, because you wrote one to your future husband, who may not even exist. But keep on waiting, you!

Watching the Olympics was fun, eh? Mom’s frightening enthusiasm for the USA vs. Canada hockey game is a foreshadowing of the hockey excitement that you will experience in college…you just don’t know it yet.

You shared your eating disorder struggles for National Eating Disorder Awareness week. People appreciated that, and so did you.

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Dear March Alison,

You got asked to prom! You almost missed the prom-posal because you’re clueless, but you’re a lucky girl to have been asked by a great friend in such a cool way!

Fortunately and unfortunately, you danced in your very last Benefit Concert with Company. It was a crazy week, but the memories are cherished.

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Dear April Alison,

College visits, hay hayyyy. You fell hard for University of Maryland and didn’t care too much about University of Virginia (but you did meet two of your favorite bloggers, Kath and Clare, while in Charlottesville eee!!!). At one point, you were set on becoming a Maryland Terp.

But then the kicker came, because there’s always a kicker. Boston University stole your heart and ran away with it. The end.

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Dear May Alison,

You’re legal now! Now you look like you’re 13 years old instead of 12!

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Dear June Alison, 

Wow, a LOT happened this month…

You guest starred on The Big Man’s World, no way! He probably just bribing you for mom’s home cooking. (Jokes, you da bomb, Arman.)

Second vlog is also in the books, look at you! Slightly less awkward than the first vlog, but you still talk too much.

One of your most doofus moments of the year happened when you hurt yourself doing burpees. You will still have the scar 6+ months later.

Aww, you made friends and met your roommate at college orientation! You’re tired of meeting new people, I know, but the best is yet to come.

Prom! Your hair looks good, stop crying. Also, new PR for number of hours awake *fist bump*.

You did it! You finished high school and you even managed to become valedictorian. Of course you made your speech about social media. You can’t get away, can you?

I’m glad you’re okay with not living a 100% clean, healthy, intensely active lifestyle, because that ain’t livin’, girl!

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Dear July Alison,

You recognized a new kind of discipline— the discipline of not exercising. Never thought you’d think that, huh?

You had probably the best vacation ever to Florida with your best friend, Daliza. Your family has practically adopted her. You guys did yoga outside, went to the beach and the farmers market, went to Disney World, went to Harry Potter World, saw Us the Duo in concert (only two days after you discovered them), and much more.

You also made this charming favorites vlog with Daliza, which you two thought was the funniest thing to ever exist. But no one else did. Also, let Daliza do your editing from now on.

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Dear August Alison,

Because you took a break from exercising last month, you’ve changed the way you see yourself for the better. Kudos!

And then you hurt yourself doing yoga. Minus one for you. But then you did your first tripod headstand, so I guess you gain that point back.

Never underestimate the power of house renovations. That ish is a serious workout.

The moment you’ve been waiting for has arrived! Goodbye, NY and hello, Boston!

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Dear September Alison,

The First Year Student Outreach Program at Boston University was a blast for you! Exhausting, but an absolute blast.

Wanna know what else is exhausting but an absolute blast? The dining halls at BU. I mean…classes and activities and all that jazz.

Your favorite memory of the semester was the fall retreat with the BU Catholic center this month. That’s a little taste of Heaven for ya.

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Dear October Alison, 

It’s natural to compare yourself to others, but you’ve realized that you’re not the girl next to you. You’re you, and that’s a wonderful thing. True balance in eats and exercise have arrived as a result of this mindset.

Hey, you finally went apple picking! Welcome to the northeast! Savor those apples because dining hall apples will make you sad forever after you’ve eaten fresh ones off the tree.

You and your friends have come up with perhaps your best Halloween costume to date. Grandma Twerk. I miss the bubble butt.

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Dear November Alison,

Stay sharp, because someone special is going to visit you! Oh, too late, you’re clueless. But Daliza visited you in Boston! Stop crying in the middle of the sidewalk, you’re in the way of busy students.

You ran the farthest you’ve ever run! 5 miles. Just admire that distance, because it won’t happen again in 2014. Maybe 2015. At least you’ve given running a shot!

Take the turkey out sooner for Thanksgiving next time.

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Dear December Alison,

First semester is over, can you believe it? You’ve learned a great deal.

You also loved a run? I barely recognize you anymore.

And now, here you are in Florida without a voice, typing this post…oh, hi. Me. Your number one lesson that you’ve learned this year was to just ride the waves (figuratively). Your word for the year was “now,” and I think you’ve developed upon that. You learned to let go of situations that you cannot handle, and you’ve made the conscious decision to not pity yourself yet still be willing to ask for help. In doing so, you’ve let yourself learn many little lessons, and you’ve found greater contentment. I’d say 2014 was transformative.

Keep on swimming,

Alison on December 31st, 2014.

Hope you all have a safe, fun, and fabulous New Years!

So tell me:

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in 2014?

Three of your favorite memories from this year.

What are you doing for New Years Eve?

We’ll hopefully be watching Disney fireworks from afar, making s’mores, and drinking apple bubbly!

I Failed at Thanksgiving

Although I did have a minor Thanksgiving cooking fail (which I will melodramatically get to in a second), yesterday was wonderful in every way, and I am incredibly thankful for the family time and delicious food. I hope you all had relaxing and love-filled Thanksgivings as well!

My Turkey Day started earlier than I preferred after going to sleep at 2 AM. But sleep is for the boring, and it was time to go to Mass and be thankful, dangit! 😉

Breakfast was calling my name when we got home from church, so I made an old favorite that I had been missing in college—Gina’s cookie dough cereal. It hit every point of peanut butter-oat-banana craving in my body (aka the perpetual craving).

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I contemplated doing a quick workout before the cooking commenced, but my body was feeling tired and sore so I opted to work out in a more casual way. I spread out 5 sets of 20 air squats, 20 pushups, 20 sit-ups, and 20 burpees throughout the day for a total of 100 reps of each exercise. I went on a quick walk with Pop as a cooking break later too.

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Then it was time to tackle the food! I was in charge of the cornbread, stuffing, and brussels sprouts, so I started with the one that took the most time and the one that is the star of Thanksgiving in my eyes— the stuffing.

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Now in your mind’s eye, multiply this amount of stuffing by ten. I kid you not, that’s how much stuffing I made. Mom and I thought it would be a good idea to overshoot and double this stuffing recipe (totally recommend the recipe by the way!), so that’s what I did. If any of you stuffing lovers out there have a second wind, please hit me up. We have three large containers completely full of the stuff…ing.

Veggies were also in the works! I’m not even trying to be an overzealous, healthy living, hip hip hooray person right now, but the vegetables probably tied with the stuffing for best dish in my opinion.

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Mom roasted sweet potatoes and butternut squash with just olive oil at 400F for 45 min.

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Brussels sprouts halved and pan roasted in coconut oil // salted and peppered with // tossed with walnuts and dried cranberries.

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I later ended up being responsible for taking the turkey out of the oven, but that was apparently a bad idea on everyone’s part because I left it in the oven for a weeeee bit too long. I was just waiting for the thermometer to get to 165F, but somewhere along the line I allowed the turkey to cross the line from juicy and tender to kinda dry. What’s with me and overcooking meat?! 

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Connecting to Mulan even more on this day.

At least it looks pretty.

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It really wasn’t bad either. It was on the drier side, but not terrible. Pop even said it was his favorite part of the meal, but that’s such a dad thing to say. Thanks anyway, Pop 🙂

I attempted to drown my disappointments in cornbread until I spotted the jar of honey on the counter…I forgot to put honey in the cornbread batter, and I didn’t realize until the cornbread came out of the oven. The recipe is sweet honey cornbread. #AlisonRuinsThanksgiving2014

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I quickly remedied the situation by pouring a generous drizzle of honey on top of the cornbread when it came out of the oven, which formed a sweet crust on top as the bread cooled. Then a small extra drizzle of honey on each slice made all things new. Phew!

My cooking job was done after that (thank the Lord), and after mom finished the mashed potatoes, we said our prayers of thanksgiving and feasted!

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At 4 PM, we had a laid back Thanksgiving dinner. I loved that there was no feeling of “stress” to eat ALL THE FOODS. There was enough room in my stomach for a late night snack even! Oh, and dessert of course.

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Classic apple pie a la mode. Perfect!

We got the apple pie at a church fundraiser (which got the pies from a bakery), and it was on point. The flaky crust was the best part because…carbs!!! I don’t need turkey. I just need stuffing, cornbread, veggies, and pie.

The rest of our evening involved cleaning, relaxing, snacking, and watching The Help. It’s one of my new favorite movies. I laughed and cried, which is a sign of a winning movie to me!

‘Twas a lovely Thanksgiving indeed.

Oh hey, it’s Black Friday. But Black Friday started on Thursday apparently, so I’m a day late? I’ll be spending my day catching up with some of my high school best friends at breakfast, homework, and maybe a workout.

I hope you all have a fabulous Friday!

So tell me:

American friendsWhat was the best thing you ate for Thanksgiving?

Turkey or side dishes?

Did you go/are you going Black Friday shopping?

International friends— What did you eat last night? 

Behind the Scenes #23: Prom

Well, hello, world! I have so much to tell you about this week, so it’s perfect that today is Thursday because…

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with the wonderful Amanda!

1) Prom. It happened on Tuesday-Wednesday. And it was awesome.

2) Except for the fact that I had to go to two hair salons. Long story short: at the first salon, the lady that was supposed to do my hair was not there, so the lady that usually does nails did my hair instead…and it didn’t turn out quite as envisioned. I was getting flustered and dramatic about it, but mom was cool as a cucumber and took me to a more trusted salon to get it fixed. Yes, we should have gone to the more trusted salon first, but we thought we would dabble with the cheaper salon. Hmm.

3) My mom hosted this snazzy pre-pre-prom party at our house so we could take some of the standard prom pictures. Per usual, she made a plethora of food, which was a huge hit.

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Yes, my mom put those balloons up herself just for the occasion.

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I put on the boutonniere incorrectly apparently. At least I didn’t poke Michael!

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Charlie’s Angels? Eh.

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4) Everyone looked INCREDIBLE. Like, my school’s got some style.

5) ‘Twas a windy night, but the weather was perfect. If it were any warmer, we all would have been sweaty and nasty.

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5) Dance, eat, chat, eat, repeat! The food was really good at prom, and the make-your-own ice cream sundae station at the end made me pretty happy. 😀

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Photo boothin’

I still need a foot massage from dancing in heels all night.

6) At 11 PM, when prom ended, I was BEAT. I could not fathom the fact that Daliza, Jordan (her date), Michael, and I were going to NYC for another 6 hours afterwards. I kinda wished we could just sleep and go to after-prom the day later, but that would not complete the prom experience…whatever the heck that is anyway.

7) A majority of our classmates went on a boat around NYC, but we opted to (*ahem* stay sober) have our own adventure on land in Times Square.

After-prom on St. Patrick’s Cathedral steps #TURNUP

8) No, seriously, our little foursome had a blast. We played hide ‘n’ seek in Times Square!!! Rules: Between 42nd and 45th street, only on 7th ave, only outside. Fun times!

9) We also ate halal food from THE famous Halal Guys on 6th and 53rd as fuel for the next 5 hours. And I totally got a second wind, so I actually wasn’t tired in NYC!

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10) We got back to my house at around 7 AM (yah, I know), and then we took naps and watched High School Musical 3. Party animals.

11) I’m graduating today!!! I have a speech to deliver?…Meep.

Hope you all have a wonderful day!

So tell me:

Did you go to prom in high school?

When was the latest you’ve stayed up?

What would you do for after prom?

No Greater Love

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. — John 15:13

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Thank you to all the brave men and women who chose, are choosing, and will choose the greatest love for the sake of our nation’s safety and liberty.

Have a blessed Memorial Day ♥ 

 

WIAW: Melt in Your Mouth

Happy 2014!

That looks like something from a chain email.

But I hope your New Year was filled with color, bubbly drinks, and lots of smiles! My family and I kept our celebrations pretty low key, but I loved it. After going to Mass for the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, we decided on a whim to go to our favorite Japanese restaurant for dinner. I thought it would be a good meal to take you through for this first WIAW of 2014!

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Mosey on over to Jenn’s blog to see more drool-worthy eats!

It’s all iPhone pictures this week since I didn’t want to lug the big camera along to a dark restaurant anyway!

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Bro-derrrr

Lemme tell ya— spontaneity is a beautiful thing because this dinner was THE BOMB. Everything we put in our mouths just melted in the best way possible. Ichiro uses the freshest fish and meat, and the best flavors to compliment them. They also had a $65 prix fixe menu with some awesome selections. The prix fixe came with four small starters, an entree, and a dessert. My parents decided to go with it since it was a New Year’s special and they figured the food would be extra special.

And boy, was it extra special.

I’ll just show you some of their dishes that I tasted:

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Angel shrimp. I thought the crust tasted cheesy, but everyone else said it was just buttery. I still think it was cheese.

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A bite of my dad’s lobster bisque. It was like Sea World in there— they don’t scrimp on the lobster meat!

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Four Seasons Salad. The combo of mango, crabmeat, and greens was refreshing!

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One of my favorites of the night: Miso Black Cod. This REALLY melted in your mouth. And the filet was hefty for an appetizer!

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Everyone else’s favorite: Wagyu beef. My mom went to heaven and back when she took a bite.

And after sampling ALL that, my real entree came!

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Eel cucumber roll and “Mango Hawaii Roll” (salmon, avocado, mango, and wasabi caviar). Also incredibly melt-a-licious. 

There were only two dessert choices for the prix fixe, so my parents got one of each. Cheesecake and tiramisu!

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My mom is an official food Instagrammer. Check out that angle and depth of field! (And she literally just told me, “I think I’m becoming more professional now.”) 😉

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Ben and I had no problem cleaning off this plate.

Whenever I eat a really great meal, especially with my family, I can’t stop smiling afterwards. This was one of those meals. It’s kinda weird, and I fear that people may think I snuck something into my beverage, but it just goes to show how much I appreciate eating delicious food with people I love!

I was so full that I didn’t even have room for Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider once the clock struck 12, but maybe I’ll have some for a late celebration (of a possible snow day tomorrow?!). Wishful thinking.

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My family and I are in agreement that we’re excited to get back into a routine though. It has been quite the indulgent break, but we do not regret a single second of it! It will just be nice to return to “cleaner” foods.

In case you want to catch up on some posts from the past couple weeks, here’s what’s been happening:

Holy moly I’ve done a lot of blogging. I love free time.

So tell me:

How did you celebrate the New Year?

What is the best thing you’ve eaten for dinner lately?

What is one food that you love that melts in your mouth?