In and Out of Canada {Take Three}

We had such a productive four days in Toronto!

It’s seems that my family has an annual tradition of being in and out of Canada to visit relatives. Here was take one and take two.

IMG_9957

Whenever I leave the ever-walkable city of Boston, my daily step count plummets by approximately 15,000 steps, while my calorie intake increases significantly, especially when in Toronto, amidst Asian food paradise.

But…

tenor-2

After a fun and active day on Thursday with my cousins, Friday was a fun and food-filled day with my cousins at the Canadian National Exhibition! First though — moves, grooves and breakfast.

I did a nice 10 minute warmup (I am a zombie if I work our first thing in the morning) before completing this 20 minute workout (30 seconds on, 10 seconds off, 5 rounds):

  • burpee tuck jumps
  • weighted squats
  • donkey kicks
  • superman to scapula retraction
  • burpee to plank kick throughs
  • hamstring ball curls

IMG_9951

Followed by 4 x 30-40 second wall walk holds and Greek yogurt with fruit and granola.

IMG_9954

My cousin Amy and I were chaperoned by my parents to the train station and then took a train and bus on our own to get downtown.

IMG_9957

Quick story: At the train station, I tried to pay for my ticket with a $50 Canadian bill, but the guy at the ticket counter told me, “Go away,” while gesturing to the turnstile. I was confused and slightly distressed and didn’t know what he wanted me to do until Amy whispered, “He wants us to go for free!” OH. (You don’t see this happen in Boston or NYC.)

IMG_9960

I’m eight years older than Amy, but age is obviously just a number when it comes to having a clue about anything.

IMG_9961

Anyway, after a pleasant (and free) ride on Toronto’s public transit, we arrived at the CNE, ready to explore! The CNE is basically an annual MEGA fair in downtown Toronto. Just visit the website if you want to learn about what happens there; it’s huge.

We explored the “farm” first, which is a building filled with farmers and their animals from around Canada.

IMG_9970IMG_9980

alpacas!

I felt the slightest tug to never eat pork or beef ever again, but I’m a cold-hearted person I think eating meat conscientiously is not a bad thing.

Next we visited the arts and crafts building, which housed hundreds of vendors and booths, which means we housed many samples in our bellies.

IMG_9984IMG_0034

IMG_9991

Amy and I met up a little later with my other cousins, Kate and Megan! We all hung out together for the rest of the day, which made for a sweet girls’ day 🙂

IMG_0009

The CNE has quite a few shows and performances throughout the day, so we first went to the ice skating and acrobatics show. It was awesome (and a little heart-attack-inducing with some of those acrobatics). There was also a “Fire Guy” show in front of the arena beforehand.

IMG_9999

Then it was time for lunch! The food building is RIDICULOUS, guys. There are so many food stands, healthy and…daring alike.

IMG_9994

this is like 10% of it

I walked around for 10 minutes feeling overwhelmed yet hungry, but I knew that I definitely wanted pierogis (Polish potato and cheese dumplings), so I got a cup of four with sour cream on the side to start.

IMG_0004

My uncle also recommended the waffle ice cream sandwich (a CNE classic apparently), so I had my heart set on one of those. It did not disappoint!!

IMG_0005IMG_0008

it doesn’t look like much, but it was PERFECT — tender, buttery, warm and toasted waffles with good ol’ vanilla ice cream in the middle — UGH

I wish I had more time/money/space in my stomach to spare, because there were so many things I wanted to try. Look at this list of 10 outrageous foods at the CNE, some of which look repulsive and some of which I would so eat.

We scurried out of lunch to watch the parkour show just outside the food building! This was one of my favorite things at the CNE. It’s just so entertaining and awe-inspiring to see people flip and jump over obstacles like it’s absolutely nothing.

IMG_0020

After the parkour show, Amy and I walked around the carnival area while Megan and Kate went on a couple rides.

IMG_0023

Amy and I shared a corn dog at some point because a) Amy had never eaten corn dog before; b) I secretly love corn dogs.

IMG_0024IMG_0025

The four of us met back up at another big exhibition hall for more samples and people trying to sell us things, like these self-massagers (admittedly, I could have used that thing for an hour).

IMG_0033

There were also sand and butter sculptures in the making!

IMG_0028IMG_0030

the butter sculptors were working on recreating that black and white photo in the background — Justin Trudeau holding baby pandas LOL

‘Twas such a successful trip to the CNE with these beautiful ladies!

IMG_0037

met up with our Aunt Sharon at the very end too!

Amy and I headed back outbound to our families for sushi dinner at 8pm. I really wanted vegetables at this point, and a starter salad had to suffice for the day, but I’m okay with a day of only 2-ish servings of fruits/veggies.

Because THIS:

IMG_0040IMG_0042

{Sushi} Roll me outta there.

On Saturday we spent a lot of time with Pop’s parents, which was wonderful. There was also a big family lunch at Congee Queen in there!

IMG_0047IMG_0059IMG_0052IMG_0062

The rest of the day was just spent chillin’ with my grandparents, dropping them off at a wedding, a walk/deep chat with Pop, Mass, and then more foooooood.

IMG_0069

Vietnamese for dinner (aka so many veggies YES)

IMG_0071

my two kids in a candy store 😉

IMG_0072

banana + tapioca in coconut milk *moment of silence*

IMG_0074

red bean pastry

My Asian side (aka my whole side) thrives in Toronto.

We all had big plans for Sunday morning, but none of them really worked out. I had big plans to work out before we hit the road for NY, but that didn’t happen as I went to sleep past 1am.

We also had plans to leave at 7am, but that didn’t happen as we promptly discovered that our car battery was completely dead. Thank God for CAA for coming to the rescue! We only left 1.5 hours later than we planned, which wasn’t bad at all. (I also got to foam roll and stretch before sitting in the car all day #bless.)

Then the rest of the day involved road tripping. Snacks and stretching are a must.

IMG_0078IMG_0080IMG_0076IMG_0077

ketchup chips are a Canadian road trip specialty/necessity in our family

We were back in New York as the sun was setting, so we headed to So Gong Dong for a last hurrah Korean dinner.

IMG_0084IMG_0086

Korean short ribs to share (the best)

IMG_0085

veggie bibimbap

Madre also graciously helped me buy some new training/running shoes at TJMaxx after dinner since mine were about as useful as slippers.

One day in NY now before heading back to Boston for another four months!!

Hope you all have a joyous Monday!

p.s. WHO IN THE US IS WATCHING THE SOLAR ECLIPSE!? My brother gave me special eclipse glasses to view it this afternoon from NY (not total eclipse, but 76% coverage isn’t too bad!)

So tell me: 

Have you ever been to the CNE?

What is your favorite carnival food?

Two things you did this weekend!

Has your car battery ever died? Thank God ours didn’t die in the middle of the road!

 

 

Advertisements

Gluttony or “Just Living”?

This weekend was definitely gluttony.

Disclaimer: If you are struggling with disordered eating, I ask that you please read with caution or not read this post at all. Please take care ♥︎ 

But let’s talk about guilt over gluttony in the context of recovering from an eating disorder. I’ll start with a little fact about myself:

Before I developed disordered eating habits, I experienced guilt over eating more than I thought I should, because I felt that I was being selfish if I ate to the point of satiation. What about all the children my age who have nothing to eat for dinner tonight? My parents shut that down really quickly, but this is a real sentiment that I had when I was younger.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s prudent and good to avoid gluttony and to be mindful of our brothers and sisters who have less to eat than us. However, I know from experience that there can be uncertainty between two thoughts during recovery:

“Am I eating all this for the sake of recovery?”

vs.

“Am I just being gluttonous?”

I am neither a dietitian nor a priest, but I do know that “gluttony” is necessary for recovery from an anorexia-type eating disorder. I put “gluttony” in quotation marks because eating a lot— an amount greater than you feel like eating—during recovery from an anorexia-type eating disorder is essential for healing the mind and body. It is the only way to get yourself to reach a healthy weight and challenge restricting behaviors.

(This doesn’t mean eating until you get sick, but many of you probably understand what I mean.)

So what happens once you are completely recovered (or even 99.9% recovered)? Personally, I believe I am well past the point of “eating more food for the sake of my health”. If I eat more than I think I should at this stage of my life, it’s probably unnecessary. But am I gluttonous or “just living”? 

I think it can be argued that “just living” involves a little bit of gluttony. Most of us don’t need that extra drink or dessert, but those extra treats that put us a little over the top can be good for our mental health and social experience.

According to Google, gluttony means “habitual greed or excess in eating”. I certainly believe that eating more than you really need is not a terrible thing every now and then (if you are at a healthy stage in life). However, for ME, once it becomes habitual — once excess eating becomes…excessive — that is where I’d say I’m being a little bit gluttonous.

This is a self-reflection. I do not mean to speak for anyone else! But I’m curious to hear if anyone has similar reflections.

So let’s look at the amount of food my family and I ate this weekend.

Friday Night

Dinner at Shiki with our family friends.

IMG_2717

some bites of my parents’ yakitori

IMG_2718

squid appetizer for everyone to share

IMG_2719

gigantic mussels for everyone to share as well

IMG_2720

sushi for me!

Saturday

Back story: We and our family friends are HUGE foodies, and for whatever reason, it’s a tradition for us to go into NYC and do a “food crawl” to many different food vendors. Rule: We must walk.

IMG_2722

light breakfast (light for my standards): Greek yogurt with half a banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, blueberries, and pb

First stop: Chelsea Market! Also known as the land of “I can’t choose what to eat.”

IMG_2726 IMG_2727 IMG_2729 IMG_2743 IMG_2744 IMG_2757

We all parted ways and bought our own dishes before reconvening, but we also shared a bunch of things. Many little bites here and there!

IMG_2733 IMG_2735

little bites of a couple kinds of doughnuts from Doughnuttery — delicious!

IMG_2736

one of my favorite bites of the day: ginger pecan pie

IMG_2737

egg, ham, cheese, scallion corn muffin — totally up my alley

IMG_2739

Ben’s Mexican plate with cactus and beef

IMG_2738

I couldn’t even finish my salad after bites of all the other things!

View this post on Instagram

way too much food before noon #chelseamarket #nyc

A post shared by Alison (@alison_grooves) on

IMG_2759

After Chelsea, we walked uptown towards Broadway via High Line for a more scenic route. The weather was overcast, cool, and absolutely perfect!

We watched a matinee of Book of Mormon, which is a pretty esteemed musical. It was definitely hilarious, but it was also so vulgar and blasphemous that every time something funny happened, all I could do was stare with wide eyes and a dropped jaw. I may have smiled too.

IMG_2765

I do appreciate it as a musical, however. The music is super catchy and the acting was phenomenal.

View this post on Instagram

"Hello!" 📘👔🙏🏼 #bookofmormon #broadway #nyc

A post shared by Alison (@alison_grooves) on

We headed over to Koreatown for our post-show/pre-dinner snack. Madre and Pop suggested a Korean food court called Food Gallery 32.

I had a bite of taiyaki, which is a pastry shaped like a fish, stuffed with red bean paste. Fresh out of the iron, this thing was FANTASTIC. Crisp exterior, gooey interior, rich filling.

IMG_2772 IMG_2776 IMG_2778 IMG_2779 IMG_2780

Colby, you’d love this.

Plus a sip of Ben’s taro bubble tea.

IMG_2775

Dessert before dinner (but don’t worry, we ate dessert after dinner too).

My uncle made reservations for us at Momofuku Nishi, a trendy, modern Japanese restaurant.

IMG_2773

#minimalist

We were basically sitting on wooden boxes, but I wasn’t mad about it.

Family style all day!

IMG_2784

cold shanghai noodles

IMG_2785

some magical fried chicken

IMG_2786

butter noodles that tasted cheesy but weren’t actually cheesy

Then there was this “Impossible Burger” that we split into eight little pieces.

IMG_2782

Perhaps you are asking, “What the heck is this sad looking burger doing at an upscale Japanese restaurant?” Well, the burger is vegan (the patty at least). But it 100% looks and tastes like meat. Hence, the “Impossible” Burger.

IMG_2783

The only wow factor was that it was vegan, because otherwise, it just tasted like a really mediocre fast food burger with subpar french fries.

The main event was this 10 lb. pork roast that my uncle had to order ahead of time for our party of seven.

IMG_2790 IMG_2792

the bone literally slid right out

IMG_2789

Ben rolling up the sleeves

IMG_2787

We ate it in lettuce wraps with many delicious condiments, herbs, and sticky rice. There was a good amount of meat that we got to take home for leftovers! It was a heavenly piece of meat.

IMG_2801

Then it was time to walk our way to dessert. Our family friends stopped at Momofuku Milk Bar to pick up some cookies to go. Then we headed to Van Leeuwen ice cream. On our way though, we got distracted by a place called Snowdays, which sells “shaved cream”.

IMG_2796

It’s a frozen block of cream that is shaved. My aunt shared her black sesame shaved cream with coconut and mochi with all of us. Pretty unique! It’s like ultra light ice cream.

IMG_2797

Had to take a picture for ol’ Disney Channel’s sake. Did anyone else watch Wizards of Waverly Place?

Finally, Van Leeuwen. Ben and I shared three scoops (I was greedy. We definitely should have just gotten two scoops). I chose ginger, honeycomb, and vegan banana nut. They were all so good! I couldn’t choose a favorite.

IMG_2800

Obviously, humans don’t need this much food (unless you burn calories like Michael Phelps). I did feel gluttonous (especially with that ice cream at the end), and I do not condone eating like this every day of course, but it happened, it was a wonderful time with family, and I am grateful for all the food.

So tell me:

Have you ever struggled with discerning gluttony vs. “just living”?

Have you ever done a “food crawl”?

What are you doing today? Happy Labo(u)r Day!!! 

Someone Just Send Me to My Room For Bedtime, Please

I have never been so grateful for clean drinking water that is so readily available to me.

The weather here in New York has been tropical this summer! Hot (well, duh), raining in random patches, and always pretty humid. Needless to say, it has been a sweat fest here and I’ve been guzzling water all the livelong day.

Walking, running, standing, sitting — always sweating. Especially this weekend! Here’s what went down.

(Oh, and thank you all for your sweet words on the blog anniversary post! ♥︎)

Friday

I had never been so exhausted from work. Friday was only a little bit more physically demanding than any other work day, but MAN. I was honestly a tiny bit afraid of falling asleep on my drive back home (I knew I could make it though, don’t worry Mom and Dad). I think I ate enough. Maybe it was lack of sleep (thanks, Olympics).

I planned on working out after work, but nay to that. I sat on the couch and quasi-napped for three hours when I got home. Then I got a second wind at 10 pm thanks to a snack, watching track and field at the Olympics, and a spontaneous FaceTime with Rachel. Then I went to bed at almost midnight..yet again.

Someone needs to send me to my room to just read and go to sleep. I need disciplining like an 8-year-old, help.

DSC_2696

this almond and peanut butter with dried fruits and seeds (“Mad River Mojo”) from Stowe, VT is magical

Saturday

I did a quick 12 minute workout (12 Minute Athlete style) in the morning before showering and eating breakfast. I had a NYC date with two college friends that day!

3 rounds (30 seconds work, 10 seconds rest):

 DSC_2697

banana bread baked oatmeal with peanut butter and Greek yogurt

I got to Grand Central and walked to Penn Station to meet my friend, Dana. It was a brisk 22 minute walk in the city heat, so going from that to standing in the oven subway station, I was soaked.

IMG_2498

So happy to see Dana! Not happy that our subway was delayed for almost half an hour though.

We finally made it to the Governors Island ferry station, where our friend Cassandra was patiently waiting for an hour. So sorry, girlfran. It was also down-pouring when we got there, which shocked Dana and me as we emerged from underground (that makes us sound like Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog).

635896730489559523-STG0131-punxsutawney-phil-03

[source]

But one quick ferry ride over to Governors Island…

IMG_2499

…and we met clear-ish skies once again!

IMG_2501

As soon as we stepped foot onto the island, Dana asked, “Can we get lunch?” Praaaaise.

We walked around to explore our options, and we found a fun food truck hub.

IMG_2504

I chose Yaki Taco for three tacos: curry beef, chicken, and panko fried fish, which were all messy and delicious.

IMG_2506

“Don’t bother me. I’m eating.” ← name that old commercial slogan!

IMG_2507

they all look identical, but the meats are hidden under the slaw and “yum yum sauce”

Cassandra shared some of her cheese fries with us too. Ooooo, baby.

IMG_2508

you know it’s America when the cheese is more yellow than the Asian-Americans eating them the water bottle in the background

I knew I had to get some of this overpriced, organic ice cream from the Blue Marble stand.

IMG_2510

I got “The Governor” flavor, which the lady told me was a vanilla base with Grape Nuts oat clusters, caramel, and “white velvet” cake pieces. White velvet? You mean…vanilla cake?

#marketing

IMG_2511

it was still tasty, so I won’t hold it over her

With happy bellies, it was time to explore the island!

IMG_2512 IMG_2520 IMG_2525 IMG_2526 IMG_2532 IMG_2551

peep Lady Liberty in the background

IMG_2553 IMG_2542 IMG_2543

After a few hours, we took the ferry back to Manhattan, where we parted ways. I walked back to Penn station while they went off to Brooklyn Bridge, since I wanted to make it back home in time for Mass with the fam, even though I probably reeked of sweat and city grime.

IMG_2550

I loved hanging out with Cassandra and Dana! Thanks, ladies, for a great time catching up and exploring the city (and for loving food as much as I do).

If you’re ever looking for a cheap but lovely and family-friendly NYC pit stop, check out Governors Island! I loved it.

After Mass, the family wanted to go to our favorite local Mexican restaurant. More tacos? Why not?

IMG_2556

maragarrrrrrita for the big man

I actually passed on more tacos and got the restaurant’s special salad and shared a good portion of mom’s rice (I ♥︎ Mexican rice).

IMG_2559 IMG_2558

Also, can we look at the whole farm that was smashed between Ben’s cemita (sandwich on sesame seed bun)?

IMG_2557

in the words of Pop: “there’s like a whole flank steak on that”

Later at home, I ate half a giant peach (where’s James at??) + two warmed up oatmeal dried fruit cookies (from Christmas still!).

DSC_2698 DSC_2699

And since I am so bad at going to sleep at a reasonable time, I also snacked on Wheat Thins, the world’s most underrated cracker.

DSC_2703

I went to sleep past 2 am.

Sunday

I “slept in” until 9:30, which isn’t sleeping in that much given the time I went to bed.

At least I did something productive the night before— prepping this overnight oatmeal smoothie inspired by Kath’s peach dough boy smoothie. I added a spoonful of peanut butter + half a large frozen banana and spinach in the morning.

DSC_2700

the fluffiest I’ve had in a long time!!

After doing some computer work and cleaning, I geared up for outdoor moves and grooves.

I’ve been wanting to do hill sprints for a while now, so I finally had the time and energy to do them yesterday. BUT HOLY FREAKING COW FLYING OVER THE MOON.

My lungs were not ready for the annihilation. It was also hot out!

View this post on Instagram

Why would anyone want to take the path of charity, humility, chastity, and sacrifice for the sake of God's Kingdom? Because "Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed." Hebrews 12:11-13 from Mass today. Similarly, I was thinking during this hill sprint workout: WHY THE HECK would anyone want to do hill sprints!? EVER. I don't run and I definitely don't sprint and I most certainly don't sprint up hills. Until today. I thought I was going to give up or maybe die (#dramatic), but just as in the faith, we run our way up that grueling hill over and over again, no matter how long the whole workout/faith journey takes us, and we become better for it. 5-4-3-2-1 hill sprints with this circuit between each round: 10 curb burpees 20 Russian twists each side 30 mountain climbers each leg 20 air squats 10 push-ups #faith #fituniversity @gofitu

A post shared by Alison (@alison_grooves) on

After one sprint, I was literally saying to myself repeatedly, “I’m dying.” But I also kept telling myself, “I can do this. I know I can.”

I thought about Allyson Felix, Usain Bolt, my track star friends from high school, and Jesus Christ for inspiration.

The workout:

5-4-3-2-1 hill sprints (approx. 125 m) with the following circuit between each set:

  • 10 curb burpees
  • 20 Russian twists each side
  • 30 mountain climbers each leg
  • 20 air squats
  • 10 pushups

It took me almost an hour to finish, because I needed to take a break and double over to breathe many times.

It sucked but it was…fun? Is that what athletes feel?

DSC_2701

immediate post workout snack

DSC_2702

late lunch sandwich: greens, Madre’s homemade pickled carrots and radishes, turkey, swiss, mustard, and sriracha + unpictured carrots and artichoke hummus

The rest of the evening involved showering, typing this blog post, and talking on the phone with Apple Support for my temperamental keyboard. The problem seems to be fixed for now though!

I’m also listening to old Hannah Montana music for kicks. I used to be obsessed.

I better go pack for Ireland and do important things before the Rio closing ceremonies comes on. Lord knows I will want to stay up for those.

DSC_2704

banana bread mug cake with Greek yogurt for a late night snack after dinner

Hope you guys have a sweet week! This one’s my last week of work at the rehab hospital already!

So tell me:

Are you good about getting to bed at a regular time? 

Have you ever done hill sprints? Did you die?

What is your guilty pleasure music from the past?

In and Out of Canada {Take 2}

Another year, another jaunt to Canada for the weekend.

Toronto, Canada. The land in which I undoubtedly consume an inordinate amount of carbohydrates and sodium. But goodness gracious, how can you say no to the fried rice and crispy noodles?

The food wasn’t nearly as important as the occasion and the company of course. My family took a little trek to Toronto this weekend to celebrate my grandparents’ 50th anniversary! How beautiful, eh? (← had to)

Friday

Early wakeup to leave the house at 6AM! I definitely should not have stayed up until midnight to watch gymnastics/procrastinated laundry the night before. But Simone and Aly were worth it.

Nectarine banana overnight oats as per travel tradition.

IMG_2429

I was also nearly half deaf on Friday because my right ear has issues (I was born with two ear holes instead of one in that ear), so I’m prone to infection and having too much stuff in my ear. One of the more gross facts that you didn’t need to know about me. But not being able to hear that well out of even one ear really made me appreciate the gift of hearing!

IMG_2423

some morning double rainbow action

Madre had been up in Toronto since Tuesday, since she was the executive party planner. Pop, Ben and I took Friday off of work to drive up, and it took wayyyy too long. A road trip that usually takes 9 hours took almost 12 hours. But we made it safe and sound, which matters most.

IMG_2431

Salad dipped in guac. All I can hear is Rachel saying to me, “Be better. Or at least be less weird.”

IMG_2432IMG_2433

so much of this

We rolled into our cousins’ place at around 6pm. We were staying with the fit family again 🙂 Obviously that meant doing handstands and cartwheels in the basement with my cousin Amy upon arrival.

My family took off again soon after for dinner with other relatives at Congee Queen.

IMG_2437

congee = rice porridge with lots of good stuff inside

Pro: it’s cheap, delicious food. Con: it’s cheap, delicious food.

IMG_2436 IMG_2438 IMG_2439

best fried rice ever with [fake] crab, roe, and eel!

IMG_2440 IMG_2441

I am positive that I ate more at this dinner than I do at Thanksgiving.

Back at home, I showered, and my cousin and I stretched while watching the Olympics with our parents. Only at their house can I enjoy a big stretching mat and foam rollers in front of the television!

Saturday

I slept in until 8ish and headed to the basement to warmup and do Jen’s 1000 Rep Workout.

My legs were insanely tight from sitting all day Friday, so this workout was great for loosening them up, but I could feel that there was lots of lactic acid in my body (not soreness but all around fatigue/tightness/heaviness). All I wanted was to foam roll and drink water until the cows came home.

After showering (and getting my right ear to hear again!), I helped Amy make avocado egg toast for her and her dad. She saw on my blog that I ate it once 25793 times before and bought the ingredients to make it while I was visiting.

IMG_2447

I’m always a proponent of spreading the avo-egg toast love, and I’m happy that they love it!

IMG_2448

For myself, I ate some quick banana oatmeal with protein powder and almond butter.

IMG_2449

While Madre, Pop and Ben were setting up the hall for the anniversary party the next day, I got to hang out with Amy. We played “Just Dance” and a Mario Party “board game” on the Wii after breakfast.

Working out + Just Dance made me pretty hungry again in no time. I ate leftovers for lunch with my cousin’s family before they left for Kung Fu practice (NBD). As for me, I laid horizontally on their couch (I had a stomachache for a bit), foam rolled, and caught up on blogs and reading.

IMG_2450

I did some handstands too. Amy believed that I could do a one-armed handstand facing the wall (after seeing my failure last week), and I could! The power of encouragement, man.

IMG_2458

When my family got back home, we headed to 5pm Mass. This parish we visited had the most beautiful-sounding music ministry. I cried.

Then for my favorite meal of the trip at my favorite restaurant in Toronto— Ten Ren’s Tea House! Everything here is cooked with tea, and they obviously sell a million kinds of tea beverages.

IMG_2461 IMG_2462 IMG_2463 IMG_2465

p.s. More often than not in Toronto, we share everything family style. #justAsianthings

I actually skipped a tea beverage this time because I wanted a tea dessert, and I’m not really a dessert-sharer, so…. I ordered a green tea soft serve in a waffle cone for myself, which was fantastic.

IMG_2466

I also had a couple bites of “brick toast” for the first time ever. It’s what it sounds like— toast the size of a brick that’s caramelized and topped with something yummy. Our table shared a sweet milk custard one and a peanut butter (!) one.

IMG_2470

We’re pretty sure it was natural peanut butter because LOOK AT THE WAY IT MELTS. It also wasn’t too sweet. The sweet milk custard one was even better though, honestly. Imagine creme brûlée on top of toast….Yeah.

I also had a few bites of this snow ice dessert.

IMG_2468

It’s shaved ice topped with coconut milk and four toppings. We got tapioca, taro, lychee jelly, and red beans. Tasty and refreshing!

I think the rest of the night involved more stretching and Just Dance. We didn’t throw knives this time around, darn it.

Sunday

The big day! My family headed to the hall to prep for the anniversary party all morning.

DSC_2606

Sidenote: I was tweezing my brows in the car (I was NOT driving) on the way to the hall, which I do not recommend for effectiveness, accuracy, or safety.

We did some rehearsing, some decorating, and LOTS of food scooping into trays. As we were transferring all the food (that Congee Queen catered) into smaller trays, all I could think was, “these noodles are perpetual…this fried rice could feed an army and a half…this is all the General Tso’s chicken in Canada.”

DSC_2629 DSC_2630

Needless to say, many people had many meals to take home at the end of the party.

There were several heartfelt speeches, many songs, lots of laughs, a couple baby screams, and almost three hundred people celebrating my grandparents’ inspiring 50 years of marriage. I sang “La Vie en Rose” for them with my brother accompanying on the piano!

DSC_2607 DSC_2608 DSC_2609 DSC_2632 DSC_2614 DSC_2641

DSC_2657Pop and his bros singing + Ben on the keys + pad thai 
DSC_2623

twins!

I wore spiky, pointy-toed heels for 3 minutes before calling it quits and switching to sandals.

DSC_2659

So many people worked very hard to plan, set up, and attend this celebration. Special shoutout to my mom and her family and friends, who were indispensable contributors to the setup and cleanup of the party. They’re amazing! Everyone on both sides of the family who helped and came out to the celebration are just remarkable.

Cheers to everyone and to my Mah Mah and Yeh Yeh!

DSC_2615

We were utterly exhausted after running around all day. To think that Pop, Ben and I had originally planned on driving home to New York overnight immediately after the party makes me want to die inside. Thank God we were all able to get Monday off work.

I did go on a walk with my cousin, aunt and uncle after dinner because the weather outside was perfect and the sky looked like cotton candy!

IMG_2475

homemade jello made by Amy, naturally sweetened with honey and lemon — so refreshing!

But after watching the 100m men’s track final at night, I went to bed at 10 and passed. out.

Monday

Pop took one of our cars to go back home early with his aunt, and the rest of us slept in a little bit before we hit the road with our other car. I ate some breakfast cookie dough cereal before saying goodbyes, and then we were off!

First though, some road trip snacks from the Asian supermarket.

IMG_2478

cart-basket contraption

IMG_2479

“meat floss” seems neither appealing nor helpful in any way

Lunch on the road:

IMG_2482

pork bun

IMG_2484

cold Taiwanese noodles

Also, we bought ketchup chips in unhealthy and healthier form.

IMG_2485

A Canada classic that makes ketchup lovers rejoice and ketchup haters question humanity.

The trip home was a lot better than the trip to Toronto, thankfully. We even got some good views of Niagara Falls at the border!

DSC_2688

Our last hurrah was dinner at a Japanese restaurant with my dad’s aunt. I shared an eel avocado roll with my mom and ordered steamed chicken and vegetables with brown rice for myself. I was honestly craving as little salt and oil as possible. I love those two things, but Toronto serves it on a whole ‘nother level.

IMG_2488 IMG_2489

It was a fun mini vacation with my beloved family, but I’m excited to go back to work and not have as much acne on my face 😀

So tell me:

What did you do this weekend?

Have you ever tried brick toast or Taiwanese snow ice?

How has someone encouraged you recently? 

Virtual Breakfast Date

virtual breakfast date

…I would usually hug you before we sit down, but I’ve been sick these past few days, so we’ll nix that for now.

…I would be eating leftover green banana pancakes via The Healthy Maven that I made yesterday.

DSC_2595

topped with plain Greek yogurt, “My Maine Squeeze” almond butter, and peanut butter + glass o’ almond milk on the side

…I would ask you if you’ve been watching the Olympics. It’s funny; I feel like I become more sedentary as I watch ALL the sports all the time on TV. I’ve been enjoying the gymnastics, tennis, beach volleyball, diving, and swimming the most so far!

…I would take a second to fan over Simone Biles and Oksana Chusovitina, that 41-year-old gymnast from Uzbekistan who is STILL KILLING IT at the Olympics. Literally almost three times older than some of the gymnasts competing.

simone-biles_usatsi_9431545

[source]

636061692095634450-AP-RIO-OLYMPICS-ARTISTIC-GYMNASTICS-WOMEN-83891214

[source]

I just want to finish everything I do in life with gymnastics arms from now on

…I would tell you that I leave for Ireland to study abroad in less than a month, and I have very few (if any) emotions about it. I tell people that I’m excited, which is half true, because I’m looking forward to the adventures and travel. But I’m also NOT excited, because I know how much I’m going to miss my family at home and friends back in Boston. I’m just gonna go and see what happens, honestly!

giphy-6

[source]

I just need to start thinking about what to pack…and stuff like that.

…I would recommend that you read Kylie’s post about why she hasn’t weighed herself in 2.5 years. Whether you have a history of an eating disorder or not, this is a great read for anyone with body image issues (which is most of us living in an affluent society). Kylie rocks.

…I would tell you that my new veggie obsession is Thai “pun” (wraps, not funny puns). Lettuce + some kind of protein + cucumber + cherry tomatoes + Thai basil + cilantro + mint + spicy peanut sauce. The fresh herbs are ESSENTIAL.

DSC_2582 DSC_2583

For this week’s version, Madre grilled up some lemongrass-scallion-black pepper pork patties. For her peanut sauce, she mixes her classic spring roll dipping sauce (similar to this recipe) with peanut butter to taste.

I’ve also had the combo on a big bed of salad greens.

DSC_2594

JUST DO IT.

…I would tell you that I think baking skills are a prerequisite for becoming a physical therapist. All the the treats that the PTs bring in to work are phenomenal. Like these cookies and cream cupcakes for someone’s birthday:

IMG_2352

oreo on the bottom, chocolate cupcake, homemade cookies and cream frosting, mini oreo on top

Other treats this summer have included cake pops, homemade chocolate chip cookies, the moistest (sorry) banana bread ever, and pound cake. #help

…I would perpetuate Asian stereotypes for giggles.

IMG_2364

Italian pasta originated from Asian noodles anyway

…I would tell you that I got to hang out with Daliza twice this weekend! She took me to the movie Cafe Society on Thursday night, which I really enjoyed (check it out in smaller, indie movie theaters!). It stars Steve Carrell, Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, and Blake Lively.

IMG_2353

Then on Saturday I met up with her and our other high school friend Apaula to see our high school chorus teacher at one of his gigs. Fun to catch up with all of them!

IMG_2361

…I would gush over the weather we had last week and hope that it continues into this week.

IMG_2365

…I would tell you that eats at home recently have been on point. It’s been fun eating out these past few several weekends, but I loooooove eating home cooked meals.

DSC_2590

classic overnight oats

DSC_2591

Mom’s comforting meal on Friday night after a long, sick day at work: whole wheat spaghetti with tomato sauce, grilled spicy chicken, and fresh basil

DSC_2592

banana nectarine hot oatmeal with “My Maine Squeeze” almond butter

DSC_2593

classic avocado egg toast with sriracha

DSC_2597

delicious panini a la Madre: whole wheat roll with turkey, swiss, greens, homemade carrot and radish pickles, spicy hummus, and sriracha *drool*

DSC_2598

artichoke hummus that I finally popped open from Stowe, VT with baby carrots

…I would tell you that moves and grooves were low-key this weekend since I was sick. Thursday was yoga, Friday was rest, Saturday was Pilates + one day of the 100s challenge (sort of…I didn’t do all the sit-ups), and Sunday was some walking and random playtime on a playground.

…I would tell you that it’s already been a year since I went to the local Indian festival with Rachel! I went with Ben and Pop yesterday, where we shared some Indian grub and walked around the park.

IMG_2373 IMG_2378

 …I would ask you:

Which Olympics sports are you following?

If you studied abroad, how did you feel before going?

What is your favorite way to eat vegetables lately?

Have you seen any good movies recently?