Shimmying in Charlotte + Recent Eats

On top of my titles as selfie queen, peanut butter lover, and daughter of God, add saxophone enthusiast.

Not because I can play the saxophone by any stretch of the imagination, but because I went to the MOST FUN jazz sax concert in Charlotte, NC this weekend with my dear friend Lauren and her awesome parents.

Going to NC for 24 hours for a saxophone concert is one of the most random things I’ve ever done, but that’s what I love about the whole thing. There’s a saxophonist named Gerald Albright who Lauren and I talk about all the time, even though we only really knew one of his songs (“Slam Dunk” – highly recommend if you want a good time).

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our “Ger bear”

Lauren’s parents had an extra ticket and very generously invited me down to hang out with them and watch the concert. And BOY did we have a blast!

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Gerald was ridiculously amazing, even more so than I was expecting. The other saxophone star above was Kirk Whalum, who solo’d in Whitney Houston’s song, “I Will Always Love You” (casual..maybe you’ve heard it) and played for her for almost ten years. WILD.

There was also some dancing and soul trains involved during the concert, and we were all loving it. Even if Lauren and I were likely the only ones under the age of 35 there. We shimmied our way through the concert (and the whole weekend, honestly).

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The best part of the weekend was just spending time with Lauren and her parents. They are the most beautiful family. They also know to take a couple Boston girls to Chick-Fil-A immediately upon arrival in NC.

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my first Chick-Fil-A sandwich ever

A milestone, you could say. It was perfect.

Lauren’s mom also brewed some delicious iced tea at home that we sipped as we chatted in their living room. I rather enjoy the simple things in life.

Before the concert on Saturday night, we went to dinner at The King’s Kitchen, which I would describe as an upscale Southern restaurant. The food was utterly delicious, AND the proceeds go towards feeding the hungry and towards life skills development programs.

I got the pot roast, which came with three sides and either corn bread or a biscuit. I went with mac and cheese, green beans, collards, and a biscuit (you know I love corn bread, but when the waiter suggests the biscuit, you go for the biscuit – a good move).

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I finished e v e r y t h i n g.

The show was about three hours long, so afterwards, we made one last pit stop at Amelie’s French Bakery for near-midnight dessert. We split a lavender lemon cake, chocolate ganache cake, vanilla eclair, and raspberry lemon tart between the four of us.

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I think the raspberry lemon tart got the best vote all around!

On Sunday morning, I made them avocado egg toast because it is a) a joy for me to cook breakfast for people; b) necessary for every person to try avocado egg toast. I had peanut butter honey toast because they bought natural peanut butter for me *happy crying eyes*.

After breakfast, we headed to Mass and then had a light lunch at Chopt, ” the creative salad company.”

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sweet corn quinoa salad + turmeric ginger iced tea

Ugh, so fresh and delicious.

I already miss Lauren and her parents!! Thank you all so much again for your hospitality, generosity and love ♥︎ It was such a fun weekend.

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Also, I love Charlotte! I will be returning one day 🙂


Lastly, here are some recent eats and scenes that I haven’t shared yet from the past week!

My friends and I have still been using up our Groupon classes at The Ring. I will be so sad when it’s over. I LOVE BOXING.

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I cooked fava beans for the first time ever a couple weeks ago. They remind me of edamame!

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Overnight oats forever and ever. This one was with blackberries – a fine addition!

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My girl Elayne invited me to go to spin class with her at the HandleBar a couple weeks ago (I’m so behind with this recap), and as always with spin, the class kicked my butt! But the instructor was awesome and so fun.

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Two Fridays ago, my friends Justin and Kevin and I went to eat at Pho Countryside as our pre-exam studying treat. It keeps us going.

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It was everything I needed.

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We followed that up with some frozen yogurt at Cafe 472 (with Elayne!).

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Kevin and I shared apple pie flavor with granola, but I am convinced they actually made us pineapple flavor. It was great regardless.

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Some more of my beloved Asian friends invited me to join them for Kimbap on a different day. It’s basically like extra large sushi rolls with lots of yum stuff like bulgogi meat, seasoned veggies, egg, and spam if ya fancy. It was so tasty. I have such generous people in my life, my goodness!!

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Lots of peanut butter Puffins as a night snack these days.

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Overnight oatmeal smoothie bowls are my go-to weekend breakfast this summer.

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I think I followed up that smoothie with these scrambled eggs shortly after. Just cuz I was extra hungry. I forget how delicious simple scrambled eggs with ketchup is!

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I had whole wheat three cheese tortellini with sun-dried tomato pesto for a couple nights. This night I decided to put the leftovers over some greens.

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I’ve still been eating a lot of sandwiches for lunch just about every day!

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So I was at Target one day and needed to buy more bread for my sandwich lifestyle. I usually get the Harvest Wheat loaf for $1.99 at Trader Joe’s, so I tried to find an equivalent at Target.

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This one looked fine enough. When I got home, I decided to look at the ingredients (since the TJ’s one has a short and sweet list and I wanted to compare). I found…

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My first instinct was, “Aw man. I wish I could return this. HFCS is gross.” But then I thought, “Will I die? No. This is food. This is fine. It is bread. I will enjoy this bread and be grateful for it.” Do I want to buy this bread every week? Nah. But my life will not be a spiraling pit of doom if I have this bread for lunch every day for a couple weeks.

*steps off soapbox*

Last Sunday we went to Toscanini’s for ice cream Sunday! This is my favorite ice cream place in Boston. Listen to these flavors: thin mint (amazing) + matcha cookies ‘n’ cream cheesecake (yes, that’s one flavor and yes, it was delicious).

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Many days have looked like this recently! Blessed.

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On Friday night, a bunch of us celebrated our girl Zoe’s 21st birthday! She was abroad this summer and visited Boston to celebrate with us this weekend. WOOHOO!

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We started with apps and margarita’s at Sunset Cantina.

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And then moseyed on over to Landsdowne for some dancing!!

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I needed a midnight snack before bed that night. Smashed banana pb bread with cinnamon did the trick.

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When I don’t eat overnight oats for breakfast, Gina’s cookie dough cereal is another one on repeat.

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And last night I had another variation of pb banana that I hadn’t eaten in so long – Amanda’s oatmeal cookie dough smoothie! With Greek yogurt to dip into it (remember when I did that all. the. time?).

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Hope you all have a marvelous Monday and a kick butt week! Don’t sweat the small stuff.

So tell me:

Are you a fan of jazz music? 

Have you ever been to Charlotte, NC?

Do you like Chick-Fil-A (juuuust talking about the food here)?

The top three things from your weekend!

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We Finished the Spartan Sprint Race!

This weekend was all kinds of wonderful!

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for one, Friday started with overnight oats in an almond butter jar — always the best

And I hope you all share the same sentiment. Shoutout and prayers for your fathers and all fathers, alive and gone. Super special shoutout to Pop! Much love to my hero.

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I think this is from Father’s Day last year!

Friday

I posted this “half a week in the life” vlog in the morning! Then I worked all day in the lab, with a nice outdoor lunch break in there. Lunch was a hodgepodge of snacky foods because my fridge stockpile is depleting.

carrots and hummus, three hard boiled eggs with sriracha, Mary’s Gone Crackers, grapes

Coming home from work was just a wee bit rainy…

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All I needed to do was shampoo and rinse.

Soon after coming home, I quickly ate leftover roasted brussels sprouts straight from the fridge before a FaceTime date with one of my best friends, Emma. She’s one of those people who you can’t help but love and admire — truly a sweet and holy soul.

I wanted something sweet but also somewhat nutritious afterwards, so Amanda’s banana bread mug cake with extra peanut butter and lots of Greek yogurt came to the rescue.

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Saturday

On our last day before the Spartan Race, Ben and I did a short and simple 16 minute workout with some foam rolling in the morning.

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Next on the agenda for me was spiritual direction, which was more beautiful than I expected it to be, as it always is. I went to Mass directly after, and then walked to The Clayroom for a date with my girl Colby, who’s in Boston for the summer!! I ate a ham and cheese sandwich + grapes on the way there.

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I ♥︎ sandwiches – delicious, filling, portable, versatile

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The Clayroom is a pottery painting studio that Colby found after we decided to do an indoor activity given the rainy forecast on Saturday (it never even rained). We loved it!

First you choose your own piece of pottery (varied prices depending on the piece, plus a studio fee).

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And then you paint it as you please, pay for everything, leave your piece there, and pick it up a few days later after they’ve fired it in the kiln!

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Colby chose a big plate to paint for her dad for Father’s Day. Apparently he likes to grill, so she made him a very impressive “King of the Grill” plate. How sweet!

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I chose a pasta bowl (functional for the many things I eat in bowls) that I decorated with some doodles on the outside and something that might look familiar on the inside…

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The colors will be more vibrant once they’re fired in the kiln. We’re going to pick them up later this week, so I’ll show you our final products after that!

It was great catching up with Colby and having some good ol’ arts and crafts time with her. 🙂

At night, Casey, Ben and I had a slumber party so that Ben and I could carb up and also be ready to leave early in the morning the next day.

Ben made us a delicious dinner of cacio e pepe, cured meats, caprese, and toasted focaccino bread.

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I LOVE CARBS.

No slumber party is complete without braiding hair.

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We were planning on turning it in early, but we didn’t get to sleep until around 11, with a 5:15 AM wakeup just around the bend.

Sunday

I was on breakfast duty in the morning, so I brought all my favorites for a nice pre-race meal.

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Two slices of pb banana bread for all.

Casey wished us luck, and then Ben and I departed for Treasure Valley Scout Reservation, which was a little over an hour away. We were both feelin’ excited and nervous on the way! I said I would have nervous poops, but Ben thought I said “foops,” so now we’re dubbing nervous poops “foops.”

I’ve talked about bowel movements a lot here recently, I’m sorry.

When we arrived, there were already racers from earlier heats trekking through the obstacles, and the festival portion was bumpin’.

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The weather was pretty perfect for a race — overcast, not too hot, not too cold. Maybe just a little muggy, but not too bad.

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We warmed up, made sure we were just hydrated enough, and then lined up in the corrals for our 10 AM start time.

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so happy and clean before the race

Ben: “Let’s do a serious face.”

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Me: “This is as serious as I’m gonna get because I can’t stop smiling.”

Ben: “Oh c’monnnn!”

Me: “Fine.”

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The thing to shout at a Spartan Race is “AROO!” so the start line announcer rallied us up to chant “I AM A SPARTAN” and “AROO AROO AROO” several times before he yelled “GOOOOO!”

Guys, this race was so much fun!! The volunteers and other racers were enthusiastic and encouraging, the trails and obstacles were challenging yet fun, and there were just enough water stations.

The course was 5.1 miles, filled with:

  • muddy and rocky trails through the woods
  • GIANT hills
  • deep and sticky mud pits + giant hills up which you had to carry sandbags and buckets of rocks
  • barbed wire crawl
  • short and tall walls to climb over
  • an inverted wall
  • a traverse wall
  • a tire flip
  • a couple sets of monkey bars
  • a spear throw
  • a sandbag pulley
  • a rope climb
  • muddy water pits
  • a line of burning rocks to jump over at the finish!

For every obstacle you fail, you have a 30 burpee penalty. #yikes. I only had to do 90, which I’m proud of, considering I honestly thought I would have to do 300.

I was most concerned about the running because of my hips, but running through the woods was slow enough, and the damp soil helped absorb a lot of impact, so my hips felt great! What didn’t feel great were the uneven paths that torqued my right knee quite a bit, but I think I just need to ice and nurse it a bit this next week.

My favorite obstacles were actually the big hills, traverse wall, and the one set of monkey bars that I surprised myself by completing. The spear throw was my least favorite because I’m bitter about having very little hand-eye coordination.

The rope climb was another {bittersweet} favorite. I hadn’t climbed a rope since elementary school, I think. In the race, I used way too much arm strength since I didn’t know how to do the J-hook with my feet properly. I was *this* close to ringing the bell at the top, but my arms were absolutely fried (I was on that rope for a good two minutes), so I just started slipping and rope-burned my way down in failure. Womp womp.

It was sweet though, because the rope climb is one of the last obstacles on the course, so a bunch of people were watching and cheering me on from the sidelines. I mean, it was humbling to disappoint all of them when I didn’t make it, but it was still awesome to have people cheering for me.

Two hours and two minutes later, Ben and I crossed the finish line, muddy, sweaty, but full of joy! We downed water, a banana, and a Clif bar while beaming at the fact that WE DID IT and neither of us died/needed hospital assistance.

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In order, my goals for this race were to:

  1. glorify God
  2. have fun
  3. not injure myself seriously
  4. finish the race
  5. finish the race in good time

And I think Ben and I accomplished these goals, praise God!

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We got some swag upon finishing, including a nice medal, a T-shirt, some free food samples, and a beer. We hosed ourselves down, but Lord knows we would need a real shower later. Some of that mud was definitely commingled with some animal poop.

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Me: “I’m still really thirsty, which makes me want to drink this beer really quickly, but maybe I shouldn’t do that.”

I am so grateful that I got to run the Spartan Sprint safely and happily with one of my best buds. What a great experience!

But the Spartan Race was the second best thing of the weekend. Mass that evening was the best thing.

After Mass, a bunch of us went over to our friend Austin’s place for dinner since he had a bunch of leftovers from a party. Free food is better than gold for us college students.

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delicious chicken drumsticks + sausage and peppers

Ben and I had been half-joking about ordering the Vermonster (a 20-scoop ice cream sundae) at Ben & Jerry’s with a bunch of friends after our Spartan Race, but we decided that our stomachs would much prefer a more moderate amount of ice cream (still recovering from Scooper Bowl, TBH).

Back to White Mountain Creamery then!

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I went here on Memorial Day with Casey and Ben, but I needed to come back with Rachel since the “Cookie Monster” (cookies and cream with cookie dough throughout) was on our food bucket list. IMG_9130

This stuff was dreeeeamy. As was the scoop of blueberry white chocolate underneath.

I went to bed last night feeling quite tired and achy, but my heart was so full.

Monday

I woke up later than usual today because a) SLEEP; b) I took the bus instead of walking because my knee is hurting, but I was still rushing to get out of the house. Breakfast was leftover green pancakes with PB&J, eaten on the way to the bus stop.

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I’m working until around 6 today, and then I desperately need to go grocery shopping!

Hope you all have a kick-butt Monday! AROOOOOO! (← I actually find saying that very dog-like.)

So tell me:

Have you ever run an obstacle course race?

Have you ever painted pottery?

One delicious thing you ate and one fun thing you did this weekend!

Finals Week: Brought To You in Part By Bread

Ohhhhh we’re halfway there.

WHO-OA bread is everywhe-ere.

I’m halfway through finals week, but since I don’t have any exams until Thursday (plus a research paper due tomorrow), I’m feel like I’m on study autopilot. Like, “meh, time to stuff more information into my brain today.” I’m not as overwhelmed as I’ve been in past finals weeks, which is great, but it’s a little weird too.

Fortunately, there have been pockets of fun amidst the stream of studying. Many of the fun things have involved BREAD (or a variation of it).

Pita chips with spinach artichoke dip two nights in a row.

Night 1: Last Thursday I stopped by the Admissions Ambassadors (aka campus tour guides) end of the year gala to mingle for a few minutes and eat some hors d’oeuvres. I was severely underdressed since I needed to study and wasn’t planning on staying long, but I just ate the fabulous spinach artichoke feta dip in the corner, took some pics, and ducked out.

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Night 2: A few friends and I went to the senior art exhibition by the fine arts students here at BU. I was also underdressed this night because I came from work/studying/walking in the rain all day, but the art was the focus of the night anyway.

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there is so much cheese under those crackers

Friday morning bagel run with so many friends.

My friend Sarah (the girl who has been getting me to run more recently) has been wanting to have a “bagel run” with people for the longest time, and her dreams finally came true.

First, Sarah and I ran ~2 miles together and then stopped at Bruegger’s Bagels to get 16 bagels + cream cheese for everyone coming to the bagel run. We individually packed them in Ziplocs because we’re the moms of the group.

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Then we met up with 15(!) of our friends to run 1.5 miles to a dock by the river to eat bagels!

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100% brought peanut butter to share

It was such a fun little event! There’s also an epic playground by the dock, so we obviously had to play there until a dad with his two little kids came, lol.

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Moves and grooves at their FINEST, I say. Thanks, Sarah, for organizing! And thanks, friends, for coming out on a Friday morning! ♥︎

Turkey, pepper jack cheese, and mustard between bread or with crackers.

I am so into this “after school snack” type of lunch right now. Doesn’t this remind you of something you’d find in your lunchbox as a kid??

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strawberries are in season and on sale, praaaaaise

Also, there were [vegan] chicken nuggets in the dining hall. They’re not the most amazing nuggets in the world, but that breading brings me back to the good ol’ days of frozen nuggets warmed up in a toaster oven.

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BBQ sauce all the way

Blueberry cobbler a la mode.

One of the best desserts in the d-hall in a while.

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Frozen nutella hot chocolate checked off the food bucket list with Rachel.

This isn’t bread-y, but I had to include it. This frozen nutella hot chocolate is from Paris Creperie, and it was delicious!

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The best way I can describe it is: nutella frosty.

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It was also so nice getting to catch up with Rachel — it had been a while!

Free cookie cake from the Google Allo cookie truck.

Basically, if three people downloaded the new Google Allo app and started a group chat on it, this random Google Allo cookie truck gave you a free cookie cake with personalized frosting.

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Free dessert sounded good to us, so Zoe, Sarah, and I took a study break to get one. We had them write “Regina Caeli” on it, which means “Queen of Heaven” (aka Mary). Because we’re Catholic and we were coming from the Catholic Center and we like Latin.

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That same night, Sarah, Domenica and Kelsey were wearing matching America socks. Look at how adorable they are!

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I also definitely brought my yoga mat and foam roller for everyone to use #finalsweek

Sunday morning French toast with Megan.

It has been one of our goals to make perfect French toast ever since we came back from Ireland, and Sunday was finally the day. I bought some quality brioche from Trader Joe’s + used some of my thick whole wheat bread to make, if we do say so ourselves, excellent French toast. We used this method!

Megan is a purist and drizzled hers with some maple syrup and powdered sugar. She’s also a stacker.

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I Alison-ified mine with peanut butter, caramelized bananas, and maple syrup.

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We each had 2.5 slices (so, yes, I ate all of that above) with a glass o’ milk on the side, and it was blissful.

Perfect avocado toast is BACK.

I hadn’t bought avocados for a while since they weren’t on sale, but Target had 4 for $4, so I jumped on that.

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one with avocado + sriracha, one with pepper jack cheese // carrots and hummus // strawberries and Pirate’s Booty at the end

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I ♥︎ pirate’s booty

Baking peanut butter banana bread / chocolate chip banana bread with PJ and Kelsey.

So I could have been hardcore studying last night, but PJ and Kelsey invited me to join in on some pb banana bread baking… A good study break, right?

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It was worth it. And I did get some studying done still because they took on the brunt of cleanup (thanks, friends!). I also winged a random cookie recipe because we had a butter/sugar/egg white mixture that was a mistake for the banana bread recipe, and this is what turned out.

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Kinda bready oatmeal cookies that tasted decent with peanut butter sauce on top.

Bread has been fueling studying and lots of moves and grooves.

I worked out with Ben again on Saturday morning and took us through this circuit workout:

2 rounds of each set, 30 sec on, 10 sec off

  • jumping jacks / air squats / mountain climbers / high knees
  • pushup to T / skaters / squat jumps / plank
  • side jump lunges / spiderman kick through right / spiderman kick through left / tuck jumps
  • one legged burpee right / one legged burpee left / ski jumps / tricep dips
  • broad jumps / plank jacks / side plank / burpees

On Sunday, Rachel, Sarah and I went on an easy run…

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…and stretched our calves at the foot of the stairs in the Catholic Center.

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Regina Caeli 🙂

Plus some other good workouts throughout the week at the gym.

And now it is time to eat lunch, fold laundry, and STUDY. I consider blogging a non-priority, but I still think it’s good to do during hectic weeks like this. There are many good things to stop and appreciate amidst the blur of life.

So tell me:

How are finals going for you, college friends!?

How do you eat your French toast?

What is the best bread-y thing you’ve eaten recently?

Two fun things about this past week!

Day in the Life: Study Abroad

You knew this post had to come sooner or later.

Here’s a day in the life of a student (me) studying abroad in Ireland.

7:50 AM — Wake up, mostly because I need to pee. Roll out of bed and stumble down the long hallway to go to the bathroom. Come back to the room to brush teeth and change.

8:20 AM — Pray.

8:30 AM — 8 minute abs.

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lol

8:38 AM — Change into longer pants, put on makeup, and gather my stuff to go.

8:55 AM — Breakfast! I finished up my tub of Greek yogurt with some cinnamon, nutmeg, and golden syrup (doesn’t taste like anything special), and I ate a sweet potato breakfast bowl that I prepared the night before, following Jen’s recipe. It was a nice change from oatmeal!

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baked microwaved sweet potato (mashed) + mashed banana + cinnamon + nutmeg + almond milk + peanut butter

9:15 AM — Head off on a long walk to the National Museum of Decorative Arts & History at Collins Barracks for our sociology field trip! ‘Twas a gorgeous day to walk.

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10:15 AM — Arrive at the museum. We are assigned a worksheet to fill out as we go through the museum.

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11:30 AM — Finish the worksheet and feel like I didn’t really learn that much, since we were all kinda rushing to finish and head back for lunch. #badstudents. It was fun though!

11:45 AM — Walk back to the dorms with Megan. Snack on an orange as we’re walking.

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in case you forgot what an orange looked like

12:35 PM — Stop by the grocery store for some essentials.

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12:55 PM — Make it back to the dorms on the verge of ravenous. We had already walked 6 miles by lunch! Prepare a quick and easy lunch.

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two slices of buttered soda bread + two eggs + so many carrots with hummus

1:30 PM — Hang out in the kitchen and talk with people while washing dishes. Listen to a friend practice her ethics presentation.

1:45 PM — Walk to class.

2:00 PM — Sit back and relax as I listen to all my peers’ ethics presentations for 2.5 hours. (I got mine over with last week 😀 )

4:30 PM — Class is over. Walk back to the dorms and spend some time catching up on emails, but mostly wasting time on social media.

5:00 PM — Snack on salad that my friend gave me since she doesn’t like arugula. With the last of my carrots, as if I hadn’t eaten enough beta carotene in the day. I ate the equivalent of three small, whole carrots that day.

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5:15 PM — Work on my sociology essay.

5:50 PM — Walk over to the chapel on the campus across the street for the first student Mass of the semester! I meet Megan there.

6:10 PM — Mass (with people under the age of 25, hallelujah).

7:00 PM — Pizza and socializing (after many minutes of awkwardly waiting to see if any Irish students would approach us. We learned that Irish people are not super confrontational and are “afraid of American confidence,” as our sociology professor explained to us).

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plus one more slice (“they’re tiny slices!”) + a piece of intensely sweet chocolate orange creme candy

7:50 PM — Head over to the library to finish my essay.

8:15 PM — Finish essay, type up the references (DEATH), read, edit.

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9:40 PM— PRINT IT.

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9:45 PM — Walk back to my dorm.

10:00 PM — Chat with some friends on Facebook, answer emails, do some other random things that are obviously not important enough for me to remember.

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decided to check the health app since I knew I walked a lot that day— wooohoo!

11:30 PM — Practice handstands and realize that my head position needs to be tucked a little more to help my body stay stacked (gotta love late night revelations).

11:45 PM — Get ready for bed and pray.

12:00 AM — Try to read an article for ethics class but cannot for the life of me process any of it. So I go have a snack instead.

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12:30 AM— Brush teeth again and go to sleep.

I need to be better about having more order to my nights.

So tell me:

What did you eat for breakfast yesterday?

Two things you do in your “day in the life”! 

What is your nighttime routine? 

“Booze and Grooves”

My friend Ben came up with it.

When I left for Ireland last month, he told me he expected my adventures to be titled “booze and grooves” and to disregard liver health. I’m only listening to his first suggestion.

This weekend we had a class trip to Northern Ireland! The history of division between the British/Protestants vs. Irish/Catholics is jarring yet fascinating. One of the first things our tour guide in Belfast said was, “This is the most dangerous part of Belfast… If a taxi honks at you, sprint back to the bus as fast you can. That’s the most important.”

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Illegal murals are a big part of the culture. They are all political statements rooted in the violent divisions that manifested only two decades ago.

I was that student who asked, “Are you being serious?” He answered with a straight face, “Does it look like I’m kidding?”

“No, sir.”

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But later he told us that he was kidding, and we all laughed (*nervous relief laughs for me*). We still couldn’t really open our mouths about religion or politics though.

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I must admit that I felt uncomfortable in Belfast for the first half of the day, but after visiting the peace wall, going downtown, and learning about the government at the Parliament building reassured me that peace is being pursued.

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They even served us afternoon coffee, tea, and biscuits during our break, which was the cutest. I am officially a fan of digestive biscuits dipped in tea.

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Witnessing and experiencing the city made for one excellent history lesson!

For dinner that night, a bunch of us went to Robinson’s and ate inside a “snug”, which we learned was the ladies’ corner back in the day, where we might have been served alcohol if the men of institution were feelin’ nice enough. Coincidentally, we were a bunch of ladies gathered in a snug on Thursday night. But we bought our own drinks 🙂

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I ordered the shepherd’s pie, which was more like sloppy joe with a lot of mashed potatoes on top, but I was fine with that.

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Pretty much demolished the whole thing. Then it was time to get wild and cuh-razy at the Crown Liquor Saloon, ooo la la.

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Megan and I had not bought an alcoholic drink in Ireland until that night, so we both bought Jameson Gingers and celebrated! Everyone else was probably more excited for us than we were for ourselves, but I appreciated the energy.

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Jameson Ginger is probably one of my favorite drinks that I’ve tasted in my short and limited experience with alcohol consumption, but it still doesn’t compare to the taste of ice cream.

So Megan and I enjoyed our drinks, but we’re more willing to put our money towards a happier cause— dessert. It was still super fun to actually go out with people (I’m such a square usually).

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We still went to bed before 1 am, only after watching an Irish dating show on TV.

On Friday morning, Megan and I grabbed breakfast at cafe approximately 20 paces from our hotel lobby. I ordered porridge with banana, honey, and peanut butter, and it ROCKED. The oats were cooked to a texture that was doughy and satisfying, and the addition of whole milk was life-changing.

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At first, I wasn’t sure if there was peanut butter in there because it was hidden by the banana slices, but after asking, the waiter said, “It’s in there! A surprise underneath. There’s enough for two in there.”

“Enough for two people.” I laughed when I finished the bowl, because that’s how much peanut butter I always put in my oats.

Megan and I went on a brisk walk around the city (brisk because we almost got lost) before our class headed to Giant’s Causeway!

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It was just as beautiful as the Cliffs of Moher!

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The unique part of Giant’s Causeway is the rocks. There are tens of thousands of rocks shaped like hexagons due to how the volcanic lava solidified and cracked over the period of hundreds of thousands of years.

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But you could also choose to believe that giants did it. 😉

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photo from my friend Cassandra!

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PC: Cassandra

Yet another beautiful experience in Ireland.

Not a beautiful experience? Rushing to buy Irish stew with brown bread for lunch and having the butter packets melt from the heat of the stew all over your paper bag on the bus.

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Megan: “Butter disaster 2016.”

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The stew was delicious though!!

One pit stop on the way to Derry for the Games of Thrones fans:

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I don’t watch the show, but if you do, does this look familiar?? (p.s. my friends spotted the whole cast inside a bar on Thursday night!)

Next stop was Derry/Londonderry (depending on whether you’re a Nationalist or a Unionist). We toured some more murals and the big wall in the middle of the city. It was so nice to move the legs and witness some stunning views of the whole city.

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Our hotel was a 15 minute drive out of the city, so we settled into our rooms before taking a taxi back in for dinner. HOWEVER, everything on a Friday night was closed! Megan, Cristen and I wanted to go to a restaurant called Blackbird for a wagyu beef burger (per my mom’s recommendation), but they told us that they stop serving food at 5pm.

Wut.

Disappointed, we walked around to find another restaurant, but everything except the bars and some random fast food places had their gates down. So strange. We decided to go a chain chicken restaurant called Nando’s, which was still a good dinner!

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medium spice chicken on a super grain salad bowl

I was satisfied, and I had missed green vegetables. AND AVOCADO.

Then we wanted ice cream, so the waitress at Nando’s suggested Joe Jackson’s inside a mall down the street. I got the honeycomb and strawberry cheesecake flavors, which hit the spot!

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The night wasn’t what we were expecting, but it was still a delicious and fun adventure. We also successfully hailed a taxi back to our hotel, which was a win.

Also, we had to put key card into this slot by the door of our hotel room in order for the electricity to work. Different!

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Saturday morning, I ate a whole grain roll with peanut butter that we bought the night before for breakfast.

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There was a big gym in the hotel, so I took full advantage during our free morning. I was STOKED to be using gym equipment for the first time in a month!

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I warmed up and did three sets each of:

  • 10 Bulgarian split squats each leg + 20 jump lunges
  • squats (varying weights) + 20 squat jumps
  • 12 deadlifts (105#) + 30 side jump lunges

Then I did EMOM 10:

  • 5 squat cleans (65#)
  • 8 burpees over the bar

That EMOM absolutely crushed my entire being. I don’t often think “I’m dying” after a workout, but this one made me feel that way.

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I stretched my legs and did some lat pull downs, military presses, and tricep pull downs to finish.

Naturally, two days later, I still can’t move anything in my body.

A bunch of us ordered lunch at the hotel restaurant before hitting the road back to Dublin. It was a bizarre experience in that the service took so long and no one really knew what was going on, but we learned that the restaurant isn’t usually open and prepared to serve 15 hungry kids at that time, so everyone was just discombobulated.

The servers were very kind though, and the food was great! These fries…

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I ordered a toasted beef, brie, and tomato sandwich, which I ate on the bus.

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The rest of the day back on campus involved unpacking, roasting brussels sprouts, and jamming out to Disney music with my friends.

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Sunday morning was some play, but mostly work. We have essays due this week!! First, Megan and I went to Mass in city centre, which was a lovely 2.5-mile walk. Then we met up with Cristen at Brother Hubbard for lunch. This is one of my favorite restaurants that I’ve been to Ireland so far!

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I ordered the Turkish eggs menemem, which included herbs and roasted peppers on toasted sourdough. Best scrambled eggs ever.

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Megan shared some of her pulled pork with me too, which was so tasty.

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We walked back to campus, where worked hard for the rest of the day. There was a break for grocery shopping and dinner in there somewhere. And dessert! Megan and I picked up desserts from Bread and Butter on our way back from lunch earlier, so we used them as incentives to get work done.

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I’m always down for carrot cake.

I also got to FaceTime Rachel at night!

“Work hard, play hard” is a fun motto to live by, but then it reverses to “play hard, work hard,” and I’m really feeling that vibe right now. Time to go finish this essay! And hopefully some yoga to streeeeetch.

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overnight oats in a jar that I just ate 🙂

Hope you all have a kick-butt week!!

(p.s. apparently there have been some issues with the commenting system on my blog, so I apologize!! I’ll try to get the problem fixed ASAP!)

So tell me:

Have you ever been to Northern Ireland?

What is the coolest geologic phenomenon you’ve ever seen?

What is your favorite alcoholic beverage? I need ideas for next time!

Two things you did this weekend!