Summer’s Coming

It’s been forever and a half since I thought out loud with the lovely Amanda!

Thinking-Out-Loud

what’s thinking out loud?

1) I am never not surprised that it’s almost May. What the heck!?

2) Last week was the “Easter Octave”, which means that the Church celebrated Easter for eight days straight, since the joy of the Resurrection cannot be contained within one single day. Let me tell you, I celebrated. With lots of alleluias and just as many desserts (I definitely had two desserts on several days).

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thanks for the cute cookie, Megan!

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Sometimes I went for a slightly more nutritious dessert, but nevertheless, I let loose with my sweet tooth.

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Amanda’s banana bread mug cake — one of my favorite things ever

3) The day after the Boston Marathon, I went on a beautiful run with my two beautiful friends, Kelsey and Sarah. You all know I’m not a huge fan of running, but my body didn’t want to do any sort of strength/HIIT or even yoga, so I asked Kels and Sarah if I could run with them after Mass on Tuesday evening.

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I would say that I was inspired by the Boston Marathon, but…

Kels: “Do you wanna run a half marathon with us?”

Me: “…ehhhhhhhhhhhh.”

For now, I’ll stick to spontaneous runs when I feel like it 🙂

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3) I didn’t sign up for a half marathon, but my friend Ben and I did sign up for a Spartan Sprint Race!!! We talked about it on Marathon Monday and decided it would be a fun thing to do this summer. I’ve always wanted to do an obstacle course race for fun, so the time has come!

Our training regimen is really coming together:

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Finbar is our priest’s dog

The Spartan Sprint Race is a 3-5 mile course with 20+ obstacles. Although I want to be relatively in shape for the race, I’m not really changing anything about how I work out right now. My mind and body are happy with my 4-ish workouts per week, varying based on how I feel that day.

But I’m SO EXCITED FOR THIS RACE! There’s also beer at the end I think, and I’ll be 21 by then 🙂

4) It’s strawberry season/the grocery store has strawberries on sale!

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5) Last weekend was filled with so much a cappella, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. My talented friends Adrienne and Connor each had their last a cappella concerts of their college careers, and they were both phenomenal.

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Our whole Catholic Center fam came out to support like proud (and very loud) relatives. Adrienne and Connor, you guys are amazing!

6) I am officially in finals mode now (even though classes end next Wednesday). I am finished with regular exams and now just have one research paper for religion & medicine, a final for health policy, and a final for gross anatomy. Nighttime study sessions are all the rage these days.

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7) Should it be warmer than 60*F at this point in the spring? Boston will have one day per week when the temperature exceeds 70, but the rest of the days are still pretty chilly. I don’t even know what normal temperatures are anymore (going from Ireland ➔ Florida ➔ NY ➔ Boston in less than two months).

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There have been some gorgeous days, though, as you can see. I do like the mild weather too, so I guess I shouldn’t complain before the heat hits.

8) I feel like I haven’t been cooking as much in the apartment recently, but when I do, it always feels like I’m trying to use up as many leftovers/things in the pantry as possible. It’s never too shabby though!

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omelette with spinach, onions, lots of cheese, and ketchup

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salad with sundried tomatoes, artichokes, feta, and grilled chicken

9) Campus dining has had some pretty good hits too.

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Thai chicken salad + sandwich (roast beef, gouda, veggies, artichoke herb spread [omg so good!] on whole grain ciabatta) + apple

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breakfast-for-dinner at the dining hall: actually, this vegan breakfast burrito was just okay (breakfast burritos definitely need real eggs and bacon)

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Sarah got this delicious-looking Monte Cristo at breakfast-for-dinner night

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fantastic maple banana bread pudding a la mode (Easter Octave is over, but when do I ever not have dessert?)

10) This week was filled with a lot of goodness, but I also had rough patches. I realized that I always try to emerge from trials a little more perfect than before (which isn’t bad in and of itself — God calls us to be perfected in Him), but I end up discouraged and even surprised when I find myself in the same weak and confused state that [I thought] I had overcome before.

I needed to re-learn that, even when I feel confused, weak, or like a failure: a) it’s okay to feel that way, because I am a weak human being; b) I don’t have to try to fix myself before asking others/God for help to be better. I can’t fix myself once and for all. That would be trying to dodge this thing called life.

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Hope you all have a great Thursday!

So tell me:

Have you ever done an obstacle course race?

How’s the weather where you are? Rain all week for us :/

Which in-season produce are you excited for?

Two fun things you did this past week!

Lately

I have been the WORST with blogging recently.

I have good and bad excuses, but here’s the lowdown on what’s been happening these past couple weeks!

Before retreat, one of the missionaries at our Catholic Center, Courtney, cooked a killer breakfast (before 7am!) for our little junior Bible study group.

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Complete with eggs, bacon, cinnamon rolls (!!!), toast, fresh berries, and the most unassumingly tasty frozen heart waffles from Whole Foods.

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Courtney, you are wonderful. Thank you so much!

The night after retreat was the countdown to Rachel’s 21st birthday! A bunch of us rallied enough energy to play Just Dance in a common room too tiny for our large group before all the 21+ peeps (including Rachel now!) took a shot at midnight.

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in this moment: “It’s midnight!!!”

‘Twas an exciting night! I was alllll about the dancing (even without booze in me 😉 ).

On Rachel’s actual birthday (which happened to be a day off for President’s Day hallelujah), I took her out to UBurger for some good food and great chats. As we do 🙂

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big papi burger for her, cheeseburger for me, sweet potato fries to share

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The rest of the week was GLORIOUS.

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Boston was teased with the most gorgeous spring weather last week. I got nostalgic, thinking about all the fun spring things from last year. It actually made me kinda sad too, because I know that although it felt like April/May (aka Easter season + end of the semester), I knew it was only February.

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Nevertheless, people around campus were so much happier and more energetic! It’s like the universe changes for the better when the weather gets warm.

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There was still a little bit of snow on the ground, but that all disappeared by the end of the week. I even got to play hacky sack with my friends outside #quintessentialcollegethings. Plus yoga by the river on Thursday morning between classes!

Aaaaaand this week there’s a forecast of snow again.

Random update: I cooked this fantastic pasta dish for my meals last week.

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Whole wheat spaghetti with sundried tomatoes, artichokes, lots of fresh basil, olive oil, and herby chicken. All my faves.

The food and birthday celebrations for Rachel continued over the weekend!

Fish tacos + the BEST honey ale cornbread on Friday:

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there were not enough napkins for this goodness

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check that margarita in front of Rachel eyoooo

Rebecca, Fiona, Rachel and I brunched at Lulu’s on Saturday, which was another beautiful day.

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donut holes with warm chocolate sauce to start

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I got the vegan buddha bowl: mesclun greens, sweet chili noodles, spiced chickpeas and button mushrooms, grape tomatoes, avocado, and sliced almonds. So tasty!

On Sunday, I gave my big gift to Rachel. I took her through a day of 21 meaningful things for her 21st birthday. Some of those things included a breakfast of yogurt + pb, Mass, a trip to El Pelon for the outstanding El Guapo burrito (from our food bucket list)…

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rice, beans, grilled steak, fried plantains(!), salsa, lettuce, jack cheese in the most doughy tortilla in all the land

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you bet we housed each of ours completely

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Sarah also surprised Rachel when she joined us for burritos 🙂

…a 2.5-hour walk through Boston…

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…a homemade dinner of soba noodles with chicken, peppers, and peanut sauce (soba noodles are one of Rachel’s favorite things ever)…

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Her boyfriend, Austin, was a surprise guest for the night! God bless the dude. He had raced 6 miles at a 6:23 pace earlier that day after 4 hours of sleep. Casual.

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…and we finished the day by watching Step Up and eating this PB&J flavor from Ben & Jerry’s, because she’s the jelly to my peanut butter 🙂

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p.s. highly recommend this flavor to all your pb&j lovers

Good times with good people, man.

Speaking of peanut butter though, I’m giving it up for Lent. And not just peanut butter but ALL nut/seed butters. Whaaaaaaaaaaaat!?

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banana pudding for breakfast via Imma Eat That

I’ve contemplated giving up nut butter for Lent in the past, but I was always afraid because I consumed many of my calories from peanut butter, and I wanted to be sensitive to my disordered eating recovery. This year, I feel absolutely sure that giving up nut butter is truly out of sacrifice and not out of any restrictive mindset.

I’m really not excited about it, but that’s a sign that it’s something good for me to give up for Lent 🙂

Megan: “Feel the loss, Alison.”

Hope you all have a great Monday!

So tell me:

How’s the weather where you are?

Does nice weather make you nostalgic about anything?

Three things you did this weekend!

If you observe Lent, what are you thinking of doing/giving up?

Work Hard, Rest Hard

It finally happened this summer.

I went to bed at an ungodly hour on a Saturday night and woke up at 11. Ughhhhh.

I’m not too mad about it though, because I got to spend some quality time with high school friends who I hadn’t seen in forever.

Other weekend happenings:

Thursday

Not part of the weekend, but I made some good food that night! “Made” = throwing things in a bowl. Like this salad with baby kale mix, leftover sautéed brussels sprouts, sweet cherry tomatoes, sliced beets (from a can ➔ college d-hall memories), and avocado.

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Late night baking adventures involved Amanda’s Greek yogurt banana oat bread! I baked it in two 8×8 pans to speed up the baking time since it was late (and I’m impatient).

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I brought most of the banana bread to work on Friday, and it disappeared by the end of the day! I was that girl who brought whole grains into the midst of (freaking delicious) brownies and chocolate chip cookies.

Friday

You know when you’re go-go-go all day, and then you finally sit down? Then you realize that you never ever want to move your butt off that chair? That was my Friday after work.

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But I love days like that (after I get to sit down).

Part of the hustlin’ day included cooking up a hearty dinner. I baked some chicken thighs with half a sliced onion, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of artichokes, lots of garlic, oregano, fresh basil, sweet cherry tomatoes, salt and pepper, then topped with fresh mozzarella near the end of baking.

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that broiled, crispy mozzarella is magical

Then I boiled some whole wheat spaghetti for the base.

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TGIF.

These babies also happened:

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balsamic roasted brussels sprouts (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and pepper @ 400F for ~30 min)

Whenever I roast vegetables, I eat my fill straight off the pan when they come out of the oven. 😀

Saturday

Early morning overnight oat smoothie bowl (almond milk, Greek yogurt, chia seeds, cinnamon, blueberries, frozen banana, vanilla protein powder, greens + granola on top) before some praying and morning Mass.

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I came back home and napped before movin’ and groovin’ in the backyard. I didn’t have too much time, so I did 5 rounds of Jess’ KILLER 1000 rep workout. I used two 15# kettlebells and a 36# bar, so I made some substitutions:

This workout is quite difficult in an AC’d gym. HALF of this workout is MADNESS in the humid heat. God bless naps and rest days that allowed me to power through that.

I definitely snacked on some brussels sprouts and tomatoes before that workout too.

After showering in cold water, I headed to lunch with two of my good high school friends, Sam and Je’lyn! We met up at The Beehive for sandwiches (after a long bout of menu indecisiveness).

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I went with the turkey club (oven roasted turkey, thick cut bacon, lettuce, tomato, and pesto mayo) + side salad. I was hungry, so I wanted something hearty. I got what I wanted, because I think the earth shook when this landed on our table:

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thinking, “is this all three of our orders on one plate?”

A double-decker, half-foot-long (maybe longer) turkey freaking CLUB.

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Literally three meals. I had this portion you see in this photo (eaten as a single decker + an open-faced sandwich), Ben had another portion for his dinner that night, and I had the last portion yesterday for brunch. Talk about a deal!

The three of us caught up on our lives and had great conversation before heading home. I hung out with Ben for a bit, ate some frozen bananas and kettle corn, and then we went to Mass (counting for Sunday Mass). I was still pretty full from my late lunch/late snack, so I ate veggies and crackers with hummus for a light snack.

I dropped off Ben at the train station since he had his first overnight work shift in the city on Saturday night. Oof.

While he was over there making dough, I was spending dough on ice cream with Sam, Michael and Jordan. More long-since-seen friends!

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blueberry cheesecake + captain crunch berry ice cream

Village Creamery is amazing.

Sam invited us over to hang out at her house. We vegged out on her couches and chatted for several hours. Later in the night, Sam gave me a Tim Tam and made me Vegemite toast, since she just got back from studying abroad in Australia (‘Straya)!

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Vegemite smells like stale bread.

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You’re supposed to butter the toast and add a super thin layer of Vegemite. Verdict? I like it! It’s just…salty. Like, extra salty buttered toast with a hint of yeast flavor. I understand why no one can really explain what it tastes like.

Arman, are you proud!?

I got home at around 1, had a dance party by myself in the kitchen, reminisced on old blog posts for old time’s sake, and went to bed after 2:30 AM. I am fully culpable for messing up my sleep schedule.

Sunday

I got up at 8 AM first to pick up Ben from the train station. Then we both hit the hay again, and I woke up at almost 11.

Big brunch it was!

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last of the turkey club with extra greens and sriracha + unpictured brussels sprouts and cherry tomatoes

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a small piece of banana bread baked oatmeal + blueberries

I decided to truly embrace Sunday as the day of rest (something that I need to work on). I watched Food Network while typing this post for a couple hours, went on a long walk, danced a little, did some reading…

“Work hard, play hard” is fun, but “work hard, rest hard” is what I needed.

Madre and Pop were away for the weekend in California for a family function, so after they arrived back home last night, we went to (a Groupon) dinner at Copacabana Brazilian Steakhouse.

Me to Ben: “I don’t know if I’m ready for that much meat.”

If you’re not familiar with Brazilian Rodizio, it’s essentially meat on demand. Waiters come around to your table with giant skewers of various meats and sausages, and you can just say “yes” or “no” to the meat that arrives.

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red side of the card for “no meat, please” // green side of the card for “please bring me dat meat”

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They slice off a piece of the meat for you, and you use your personal mini tongs to grab it. So interactive, I love it.

There’s a salad bar buffet, where you can fill your plate with fresh accompaniments for your plethora of meats.

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And there are these complimentary Brazilian. cheese. puffs.

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These pao de queijo were so incredible that we asked for a second basket. Madre, Ben and I each had three, ignoring most of the other side dishes. They’re made with tapioca flour, which makes them the DOUGHIEST little nuggets of gold you ever tasted. I definitely Googled how to make them when I got home, which was a great yet terrible move, because I learned that they’re so easy to make…Cheese puffs ALL THE TIME.

Other side dishes that came with the meal included some superb rice, baked beans, pickle-y salsa, yucca flour (??), and fried bananas (← we ate as dessert).

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I must have tried 8 different meats, but my favorites were the top sirloin, chicken, bacon-wrapped turkey, and beef rib. They also had some bomb grilled pineapple at the end!

Me: “I think I’m going to go vegetarian for the rest of this week.”

^^^Lies.

What a wonderful dining experience to end the weekend!

Now Ben and I are skipping around between watching Sharknado (the most horrendously bizarre show I’ve ever laid eyes on), American Ninja Warrior, and Harry Potter. I’m also baking some more banana bread baked oatmeal for the week!

Hope you all have a delightful Monday!

So tell me:

Two things you did this weekend!

What are your favorite rest activities (oxymoron, I know)? Baking, walking, meditating, and jamming out to music are my faves.

What is the biggest sandwich you’ve ever ordered? 

Have you ever had Brazilian Rodizio? 

Spontaneity Can Lead to the Best Experiences

I’m not that adventurous.

If I say yes to doing something a little offbeat or spontaneous, it’s because I’m really going against my natural tendency. That natural tendency is to stick to plans or do productive things at home. Even in college, I can be a total homebody.

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my go-to excuse

However, during my last couple of days at home, I’ve agreed (sometimes reluctantly) to a few spontaneous ventures that I 100% loved.

It all started on Thursday morning with a spontaneous breakfast that I had never tried before: Julie’s egg white oatmeal protein pancake.

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I had been familiar with how much Julie loves this recipe for a long time, but I was always skeptical of it because the ingredients are egg whites, oats, stevia, and cinnamon. No blending involved. Hm.

Nevertheless, I branched out and made the monstrous pancake. First of all, just flipping the thing took 3 minutes. Secondly, I wasn’t very impressed at first bite, because it tasted like sweet egg whites… But the more I ate it, the more I enjoyed it. The peanut butter and banana helped, I’m sure.

Spontaneous breakfast — thumbs up!

My workout on Thursday was also spontaneous. I was kinda sore and really full for a long time from the mass of egg whites sitting in my stomach, so I bundled up, walked outside (per Amanda’s suggestion!) and headed towards the playground. When I got there I ended up doing a fun circuit workout using the bench!

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Spontaneous workout — thumbs up!

Lunch wasn’t spontaneous, but it was at a weird time of day (like, 4pm?) since I slept in and ate breakfast really late that day.

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flatout wrap with avocado, greens, honey mustard chicken, and artichokes (!!!)

I attended modern dance class at my old dance school on Thursday night, which was so fun. My good friend Susie (who was in dance company with me in high school) also attended the class asked if I wanted to join her for dinner afterwards.

My thought process: “I could go home and do some things on my to-do list. But that would be stupid and boring because COME ON, of course I want to catch up with Susie!!”

So we ate and chatted, and it was absolutely wonderful.

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We also ordered the same grilled vegetable sandwich, which was delicious.

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Spontaneous dinner date — thumbs up!

Yesterday brought about a few more spontaneous events. One was a lovely lunch date and walk with Madre! She wanted to take me to a cute patisserie in Greenwich, CT (where I spotted Food Network superstar Geoffrey Zakarian, who ignored me) called Aux Delices.

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It’s a pricey little place (classic Greenwich), but the food was well worth it.

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salmon salad, golden beets, wheat berry salad, and Italian tuna salad (#FishFriday)

Then we walked/jammed out/danced/snacked together.

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Spontaneous mother-daughter date — thumbs up!

I think the real kicker is this one. Our neighbors had two tickets to see Blind Boys of Alabama last night, but they offered the tickets to us since something came up and they couldn’t attend. I was about to say, “Aw thank you, but we have plans for dinner tonight.” But Madre quickly answered, “Oh! Thank you! Alison, you can go with Dad!”

Oooookay.

So we all ate a nice dinner at home together, and then Pop and I went to see this group that I had never heard of before.

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last sunny side eggs on avocado/cheese toast for a while! (drizzled with sriracha post-pic)

If you haven’t heard of Blind Boys of Alabama (like I hadn’t before last night), they’re a group of men who met at the Institute for the Negro Blind in the late 1930s, where they first started singing together. They toured when Jim Crow laws were still in place, and they even performed for Martin Luther King Jr. benefits (how appropriate for this weekend in America!). HOW COOL!?

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I’d describe their style as bluesy gospel with a big dose of soul and a sprinkle of funk. They’re incredibly talented people!

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Verdict? Well, I was smiling and dancing in my seat the whole time if that says anything. I might have been the youngest one in the audience, but I was clapping and bopping my head just like the rest of ’em.

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Overall, I adored their music and their fun-loving, soulful character. Check out their grooviness.

Spontaneous concert — thumbs up!

Pop and I finished off the evening with classic yogurt bowls back at home.

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No-bake treat sampler on the side, compliments of Arman!

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Throwback to last year when Pop and I ate dessert together…

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Why did we decide on Greek yogurt over ice cream this year??? Beats me.

I’m going back to Boston today! Sad to be leaving home and blogging more than once a week, but stoked to be seeing friends and diving into the semester (← also nervous about the latter).

Happy Saturday!

So tell me:

Do you like spontaneity?

What was the last spontaneous thing you did and loved?

What was the last concert you attended?