Dear Alison… {A Look Back at 2015}

The last three days of 2015 have been going out with a bang, I’d say!

Some good food for the body…

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Some good food for the soul…

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dinner at my aunt and uncle’s house

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banana peach green tea slush in a BOWL (they know what’s right)

Some more Christmas cheer…

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my lovely family caroling for senior citizens

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talented gingerbread house designers

Some “big kid” fun in blizzard weather…

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smiling through the pain of freezing rain blowing into our faces

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delicious chicken taco because I was hangry waiting for ramen

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“sakepolitan” (alcoholic cranberry lime juice, essentially)

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ramen that hit. the. spot.

And lots of baby cuddling…

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photo creds to my uncle!

We also did yoga and bouldering yesterday! I felt like I was in Boulder, CO with all their fit, hip, and healthy citizens. It was a fun day!


Since today is the last day of 2015, I feel obliged to reflect on 2015 with my second annual letter-to-self. So without further ado, here are month-by-month letters to Alison (myself), highlighting the moments that made this year a beautiful and transformative one.
dear alison

Dear January Alison,

Well weren’t you just living it up in Florida!? Disney World, air boat rides, that time you almost ran into an alligator in the wild, your first spa day… What a way to kick off your year!

I forgot that you tried starting a budget spreadsheet. Haha. I also forgot that you posted a couple workouts and you did lots of burpees. You were a maniac with burpees.

You started your second semester of freshman year, but winter storm Juno shaved off what felt like half of your class time. Not that you were complaining.

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Dear February Alison,

Second semester kicked your bootay, despite the snow days you had every Monday. I’m proud of you for getting through anatomy, organic chemistry, linguistics, and a tedious writing class all in one go.

You also became a certified tour guide for Boston University, woohoo! I know you were stressed about remembering all the information, but you pulled through.

Lent started and you gave up music. THAT WAS HARD. But spring retreat with the Catholic Center totally recharged you and made you remember what truly matters.

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Dear March Alison,

You posted about your eating disorder struggles for NEDA week. That was heavy, but it was good for you to reflect on your progress and hopefully good for others who have similar struggles.

Spring break was a BLAST! You hung out with your BFF, Daliza, and I think this is when you realized that you have a college BFF too (Rachel!). Of course, y’all bonded over food. BIG TIME.

You joined intramural softball even though you hate baseball/softball. You weren’t good at softball and you’re still not good, but I hope you learned to try new things anyway.

You cried for the first time over schoolwork, but are you really in college if that doesn’t happen?

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Dear April Alison,

Wait whoa, this is your last month of freshman year already. You celebrated your first Easter away from home with some beautiful people.

First Boston Marathon experience! Watching it at least. Get pumped for another year of screaming your lungs out and getting inspired by the participants.

You learned even further that there’s more to life than food and fitness. I’m glad you expressed this.

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Dear May Alison,

Finished with freshman year, what whaaaat.

You went to Colorado (hiking was beautiful, but work on that lung capacity, eh?) and Blend Retreat, which was like a dream to you. Wasn’t it so cool to meet bloggers like Emily, Amanda, and Tina!? *starstruck*

Back at home, you started your physical therapy internship, which turned out to be an amazing experience.

Last but not least, you made one of the best decisions of the year in May— to take it easy with exercise and up the calorie intake.

Oh, you turned 19, which means you’re legal drinking age in Canada 🙂

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Dear June Alison,

Look atchu with your new short hair! I dig it, even if other people don’t.

Vlogs with Daliza are always a fun idea.

Don’t forget that stretching, mobility and progressions are crucial in terms of physical fitness. Be a good physical therapist.

You met Arman AND you FaceTimed Julia. Still recovering from the fan-girling.

You also met up with college friends in the city! So cute, cool, and college.

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Dear July Alison,

Fourth of July in Boston was the best weekend ever. Tori Kelly live in concert is even better than recorded. How?

You talked about 99.9% recovery and the idea that 100% recovery might never be attainable, but to be honest, I think you’re gonna have to do a followup on that post…

Oh yeah! You had jury duty! That was a good experience. But it’s nice that you don’t get called back for another few years.

The barefoot walk for sex trafficking awareness is something you should do every year.

Keep working on becoming a better grownup, but hey, keep being extraordinarily ordinary.

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Dear August Alison,

Rachel visited New York again! Fun times. Except when Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian ignored you. At least he retweeted you.

You made a lot of quick trips this month. First, you spent under 24 hours in Kansas City after a whole day of traveling there. The things we do for Midwestern hospitality. 😉 But seriously, St. Louis was lovely, especially since your baby cousin got baptized!

You and Pop also made a “quick” drive up to Canada for a few days, and you did cool things like bouldering and knife throwing.

Portland and Seattle are cool places. I think you need to go back there soon.

Two year blog anniversary, high five! Keep it up. I think you like this whole blogging thing.

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Dear September Alison,

You’re back at BU and loving it. So good to see your best friends again! Sophomore year, baby.

Also, don’t forget to own it. Yeah, you look stupid sometimes, but that’s what makes people/life not boring.

Kicking off a food bucket list with Rachel, I see. Typical you.

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Dear October Alison, 

Oof, you’re getting busy. But with really good things, like fall retreat.

Apple picking is still one of your favorite fall activities!

Also, first couples Halloween costume…with Rachel, haha! PB&J because you guys are so freaking predictable.

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Dear November Alison,

You finally asked Rachel to do a vlog with you! You guys also finished a whole tray of brussels sprouts. Please calm down.

There were a lot of emotions happening, especially with the terrorist attacks surfacing to the news. They really brought you back down to earth.

Thanksgiving was relaxing and wonderful in every way. Please always be this grateful.

Also, run. Even if you’re slow, just run if you feel like it, because you don’t hate it. I repeat: You don’t hate it.

OMG you also got something really exciting!!! Praise God.

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Dear December Alison,

Apparently, you have a “look of wellbeing.” I can tell you that it’s largely because of the people around you.

And just like that, half of sophomore year is done and gone.

Which brings me to this moment. Alison, never take what you have for granted and always trust in the Lord. Have no fear, because He has a good plan. I think this is the overarching theme of everything you’ve learned this year. Take this invaluable lesson and grow in it in 2016.

Keep on swimming.

-Alison on December 31, 2015


 

So tell me:

What would you tell yourself as you reflect on 2015?

Do you have any specific goals for 2016? Nothing specific for me. I’m not really a big New Year’s resolution person. I kinda just try to be better every day… #lame.

What are you doing for New Year’s? Hanging out with family here at my cousin’s house!

 

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Quiet and Cozy Thanksgiving

I’m such a procrastinator.

But that’s not news, right? I have yet to do any significant studying for my two exams or any additional preparation for my seven-page paper due next week. I’m telling myself that something WILL get done today.

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. –Mark Twain

^^^It’s so harddddddd.

Instead of complaining any further though, I should embrace the attitude of gratitude. ‘Tis the season! It has been a relaxing and lovely two days spent with my family so far, but I started off my holiday break in Boston with a breakfast date!

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My dear friend Emma invited me to her apartment to make some FlapJacked pancakes (that I still had from BLEND!) and eggs. We finished all the pancakes and were pretty embarrassed when her apartment-mate asked if there were any left. #shame.

I arrived home with mom late Tuesday night, and since then I’ve been eating, hangin’ with my family, and procrastinating catching up on social media. Because I’m never on social media during school…

Wednesday involved eating, clothes shopping, grocery shopping, eating sushi, cooking, eating, gym, and eating.

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Kylie’s simple paleo pancake (SO FREAKING FLUFFY!) with copious amounts of peanut butter and pomegranate seeds + glass o’ milk

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late sushi lunch with mom mid-shopping

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gym with Pop

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homemade crab cakes! + plain Greek yogurt + sriracha

Ben came home late that night, so I stayed up late chatting with him. My eyes were nearly glued shut getting up for church the next morning, but it was worth the QT with the bro.

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starting Thanksgiving Day thanking God from whom all things flow

After Mass, we headed home to get cookin’! I fueled myself with overnight oats in a jar before transforming into a wannabe Barefoot Contessa. I was in charge of all the side dishes, and I asked mom to be in charge of the turkey so that I wouldn’t overcook it again.

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my love — stuffing 

In addition to bread, we used some leftover buttery croissants for the stuffing. Go big, friends.

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best roasted sweet potatoes

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rosemary thyme roasted baby potatoes

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honey balsamic roasted brussels sprouts and string beans

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cornbread muffins

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da bird

We actually ended up undercooking the turkey at first, so it was a fiasco trying to cook the parts that were still raw while keeping the perfectly-cooked parts separate. You’d think we would have this down after 15+ years, but…guess not. Nevertheless, the turkey turned out delicious and juicy!

I also went on a nice walk with Dad at the park after I finished cooking. It was the perfect, brisk weather for a Thanksgiving walk.

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Then we came home with a hefty appetite and dug in!

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The stuffing, rosemary potatoes, and cornbread muffins were my favorite. I know you know the carbs are the best part.

Speaking of carbs. Best for last!

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apple pie a la mode

We finished at around 6pm, so the rest of the night involved watching Chopped, writing this post, and just appreciating the presence of family. (Imaginary audience: “AWWWWWWW.”)

I feel fortunate that each year, Thanksgiving becomes a lot easier, mentally speaking. This year, I didn’t feel nervous about the amount or density of food that would be available to me, and I think that is because I allow myself to eat heavy foods outside of holiday occasions. I was definitely stuffed by the end of the night, but it just felt like a bigger meal, which is probably a monthly/biweekly occurrence.

As Julia so beautifully wrote, we just need to be kind to ourselves. I didn’t finish every bite on my plate, and I didn’t have pie immediately after dinner with the rest of my family because I wanted to digest for an hour or so. I still ate a lot of delicious food, including pie, but I didn’t feel (self-imposed) pressure to eat or not to eat.

As for working out, I joined my dad when he went to the gym the night before, but I just did a fun strength workout without focusing on calorie burn. On Thanksgiving day, we walked. We went with the flow.

I did not get to this point overnight, so I implore you to not be discouraged if you still struggle with restrictive temptations or anxious feelings during the holidays. In fact, there are many non-holiday instances during which I still feel anxious over food. Recovery is always a work in progress, but every effort to combat disordered habits and thought processes is valuable.

Tonight we’re going out to NYC to eat more. Not before I get some work done though!!!

So tell me:

How did you spend {American} Thanksgiving?

Favorite food from the feast?

Three non-obvious/random/quirky things you’re thankful for! yoga pants, clean public bathrooms, and towels that absorb really well

Summer Food Bucket List

I feel like a new woman!

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Chopped it.

My mom said that I haven’t had my hair this short since I was, like, five years old. It’s true! If I look like a youngster, I might as well embrace it. Apparently this hair length is called a “lob”➔ long+bob.

There’s a lob on my head.

Ba da bop ba baaa, I’m lobbin’ it.

Like my lob? 

In other news, I made some fancy chicken last night. I say fancy only because it took me forever to make and I made it in a cast iron skillet. Oh, and it had mushrooms and {dried} rosemary in it.

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I used this recipe

I had it over some slightly mushy brown rice, because I’m that person who doesn’t know how to cook rice properly. WITH a rice cooker.

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Last week I shared my summer bucket list, which included a bunch of activities I’d like to do before heading back to college. This week I have another summer bucket list— for food!

I should take advantage of the blessed availability of a kitchen while I’m home. Also, I want to make an effort to find some awesome food festivals and events in my county and in NYC. I’m not naturally an adventure-seeker, so when I discovered Eventbrite, I decided to join their summer bucket list for food festivals and events. It’s a good opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and find adventures!

Why not, right? I live next to the Big Apple for crying out loud— home of some of the best and most diverse food in the world!

This is a two-part bucket list. The first part is a list of foods I’d like to make at home, and the second part is a list of restaurants and food events I want to check out.

I’m going to use the term “bucket list” lightly this time, because I know I cannot check off all the following items. But at least I have a list, a sense of direction, and motivation! Right? Just nod your head in agreement, please.

The Food to Make

  • Peach cobbler {a la mode, of course}

peach cobbler

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  • Homemade pizza
  • Homemade popsicles
  • Peanut butter cookies
  • Fresh lemonade
  • Banana soft serve

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  • Fish tacos
  • Salmon burgers/fish cakes
  • Re-creation of Mei Mei’s “Big Awesome” scallion pancake sandwich (one of the best things I’ve ever eaten)

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  • Soba noodle salad
  • Homemade shamrock shake
  • Bananas foster
  • Muffins of any kind

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  • Cheese biscuits (just because I need something to fill the space in my heart after having these ones in Florida)

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I’ll come back for you one day…

The Places and Events

  • Bareburger

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  • Rice to Riches
  • Festa Italiana at a local church (for the meatball sub ♥)

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Nope, this post is not sponsored. I just thought Eventbrite was onto something groovy. They have this cool event management page, where people and companies can create and organize events and sell tickets. I actually found a few of the events listed above through Eventbrite! Their website makes it easy to find the location and type of event you’re looking for.

So go seek adventure this summer. You might discover fun things like a gelato class or a Greek festival! You might also learn that you can’t cook a certain food. Like rice.

So tell me:

Three things you want to cook/bake this summer!

One food event you want to attend this summer.

What is your hair length right now?

Have you ever messed up cooking a food that is supposed to be dumb easy?

He Is Risen

HALLELUJAH!

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It has been a long couple of weeks, but Holy Week and Easter have allowed faith, hope, and love to persevere. The love God shows us through Jesus Christ’s Passion and Resurrection is beyond comprehension.

Whether you are celebrating Easter, Passover, or just LIFE this weekend, I wish you the very best. I love you!

Here are some photos from Holy Thursday and last night’s Easter Vigil Mass!

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#turnup for Jesus

I am currently jamming out to music in my dorm at 1AM (with headphones in— roomie is sleeping) because HE IS RISEN.

Have a blessed Sunday, y’all. ♥

So tell me:

What did you do this weekend!?

Our First 5 Days of 2015

Well hey there, I haven’t talked to you all since last year!

Last year being five days ago, but still! Happy New Year! I hope you all had festive celebrations and fun times with family and friends. All the good F’s.

Besides some lingering sickness (read: hacking death coughs), we’ve been having a great time ringing in the new year in Florida! So much happened, but instead of boring you with a lengthy recap of everything, let’s do this alphabet style. I would like to share the fact that I do indeed know the alphabet. 😉

Ringing in the New Year: By the Letters

Avocado toast // Saturday night’s dinner along with sloppy joe meat and roasted cauliflower

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Beach trip // played frisbee for a couple hours

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Crepes // using Alton Brown’s recipe

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Ducklings // spotted in our neighbor’s backyard

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Ebelskivers // delightful Dutch round pancakes made by my aunt and uncle

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peanut butter-filled aka happiness-filled

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Group photos // ’tis the season

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Humbling // doing pistol squats and this leg workout after a week of being sick

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Ice cream // of the cookies and cream variety on NYE

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Jokes // trying to come up with some to incorporate into my Boston University tour guide script with only minor success

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Kansas family friends // who now live in Florida and are like family to us (they came over for NYE dinner with us, and then we went to their house for dinner on Friday night!)

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Luau // Disney’s “Spirit of Aloha” dinner and show was a blast!

(Besides the fact that I had to stand outside due to intense coughing at the end. Two people thought I worked there as I stood outside and asked me to point out the bathrooms. One of them was a little boy who called me ma’am!)

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those dinner rolls would be PINEAPPLE COCONUT rolls!!!

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I spy Madre

Marshmallows // roasted over hot charcoals for NYE s’mores

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Char, peel, eat, repeat

New Year’s Eve // spent at home with family and friends eating pulled chicken sliders, salad, ice cream, and more

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Overnight oats // with way too much peanut butter left at the bottom of this jumbo jar…never thought I’d say that

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doughy, peanut butter goodness

Pancakes // green silver dollar banana ones on Tuesday and “Melt-in-Your-Mouth” Bisquick ones on Saturday

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Quiet time // I need to set this aside for at least an hour before going to sleep

Ricola // cough drops are a hot commodity in this household currently

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Spinach in my smoothie // with frozen banana, vanilla protein powder, almond milk, cinnamon, nutmeg

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Typhoon Lagoon // Ben and I spent our Sunday there with our relatives

(There was a WICKED wave pool that reminded me of the huge wave that swallowed the world in the movie, The Day After Tomorrow. It was intense.

Dinner eaten at Downtown Disney, followed by the most difficult mini golf ever at Fairways.)

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Ben: “Again [with the selfies]??”

Upride down // did ten handstand pushups in a row with an abmat underneath my head!

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Visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios today!

Wawa walk-through // because Ben heard so much about this high class gas station chain

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Xylophones // one of the only practical words that start with X

Zzzz’s // caught some during several naps throughout the week

To all those going back to school and work today/sometime this week, I wish you good luck! You’re all rockstars, so let. it. ROCK.

{Happy birthday to my best friend and partner in ridiculousness, Daliza!!!}

So tell me:

Some letters that describe your weekend!

Have you ever tried Ebelskivers before?

Do you like wave pools?

Are you starting work/school today or later? Or have you already been on the grind?