13 States in the Past Week

It’s like I’ve traveled through colonial America.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Habari Gani, and happy holidays ALL AROUND!!! I hope you have all enjoyed your holidays and that they have been filled with good people, conversation, fun and food 🙂

Let’s catch up! As the title suggests, I’ve been hopping all over the place ever since I arrived in (1) New York from Ireland.

Monday

On Monday morning, Madre dropped me off at the train station so I could head up to Boston for a couple days! It seems petty, but I really wanted to see Rachel and all my friends at school before finals ended and everyone scattered for winter break. 

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salad that I packed in a tupperware for a midmorning snack

(P.s. the train left from (2) Connecticut, and went through (3) Rhode Island before arriving in (4) Massachusetts.)

Upon arriving in Boston, Rachel kindly picked me up at the train station. We hugged, [almost] cried, and went straight to lunch at a bucket list place. As we do. 

Al’s Cafe was a two minute walk from the station and perfect for us hungry ladies. The item to get was the large meatball sub. Since we were quite hungry, we also ordered a large steak and onion sub. 

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But guys, when they say “large”, they actually mean MAMMOTH. These sandwiches are the size of freaking baseball bats!! Two feet, more or less.

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We split them, and although we ate a decent portion of them, they still made for a good 2.5 meals. They’re super delicious and cheap to boot!

I saw as many people as possible while in Boston, and it was just delightful. I couldn’t stop smiling.

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my friend Kelsey so sweetly made a welcome home sign for me ♥︎ ♥︎ ♥︎ 

Rachel’s Christmas gift to me was also spot on.

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Tuesday 

We tackled one more bucket list place on Tuesday morning – the Thinking Cup for a cup of coffee.

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I don’t drink coffee, so this was actually my first full cup of coffee EVER. I got a cappuccino, and it was…fine.

I had to add a little sugar to make it more palatable, but I finished the whole thing, so I didn’t dislike it.

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A tasty Greek yogurt cup for my real food.

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I had a little over 24 hours with Rachel, as I had to drop her off at the airport at 1pm, but those 24 hours were worth it!

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I was pretty sleep deprived but also antsy at this point, so I took a long walk after dropping her off, which made me feel a lot better.

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Then I went to Mass at the Catholic Center, followed by dinner with Joe and girl talk with Fiona and Kelsey before I had to head back to NY.

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‘Twas a beautiful thing to reunite with some of my favorite people in Boston, even if just for a couple days. 

Wednesday

I started my day with a Popsugar cardio-kickboxing-sculpt-something-basic-girls-do workout, and then my parents and I took my great-aunt out for a Korean lunch!

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Korean short ribs might be my favorite meat ever

In the afternoon, I had to unpack and re-pack for Florida and Texas (more to come on Texas later).

That night, we picked up my brother from work in the city and rode into the sunset for (5) Maryland, our first pit stop in our road trip to Florida. We passed through (6) New Jersey, (7) Pennsylvania, and (8) Delaware.

Thursday

My cousins came to our hotel to have breakfast with us, so I moved and grooves super quickly with this < 10 minute body weight countdown workout before going to the lobby for a nice complimentary breakfast (yay for Marriott!) with the fam.

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Always fun to see these cuties (and my aunt and uncle, who are also cute 🙂 ).

Then it was time to hit the road again! We drove through (9) Virginia before arriving in (10) North Carolina for the night. 

Cracker Barrel for dinner! One of the most satisfying meals there ever was.

complimentary biscuits and cornbread (praaaaise) + lemon pepper trout with sweet carrots, steamed broccoli, and mac and cheese + apple pecan crumble pie a la mode to share for dessert

Friday

I utilized the exercise room for a 20 minute workout before breakfast. 

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plus a hard boiled egg

The last leg of our journey included (11) South Carolina and (12) Georgia before we finally reached (13) Florida! A total of 19 driving hours later…yowza.

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lunch on the road — Madre’s fantastic Asian pork and egg sandwich on Jewish rye bread (what a tasty combo, honestly)

We celebrated our arrival with dinner at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant!

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Ben and I also watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that night, which was unfortunately quite unsatisfactory compared to the book. There’s just SO MUCH HAPPENING IN THE BOOK. 

Christmas Eve

I got to sleeeeeep innnnnn (sort of, I went to bed at 2 am).

We ate breakfast, cleaned the house, exercised, and also I massaged Madre on our new portable massage table (that I requested ever since I started giving massages in Ireland)!

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We went to the Christmas vigil Mass in the evening, which was wonderful and so joyful! The Lord has come!

Then we drove to our friends’ place for Christmas Eve feasting and fellowship.

Christmas Day

I was up and at ’em early(ish), not for presents under the tree but to prepare brunch for the family. Just as exciting, in my opinion! I made Ben my sous chef 🙂

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I made square, muffin-sized quiches, and Ben helped me make cinnamon rolls, Canadian bacon, and turkey sausage.

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individual quiches = more buttery crust surface area (I used this crust recipe and this quiche recipe as a guide)

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mini frittatas with the extra egg mixture that couldn’t fit into the quiches

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in pajamas — the best way to do Christmas brunch

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used the Minimalist Baker’s recipe!

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Not gonna lie, Ben and I crushed the brunch game. We were all mighty happy clams all day after this meal!

Other Christmas happenings: more massages, a nap, yoga, and a visit to Disney Springs after dinner! Disney Springs is basically like Disney’s own little city with lots of shops and restaurants.

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a couple white dudes freestyle rapping — entertaining for sure haha

We walked around for a good 2+ hours, weaving in and out of the surprisingly dense crowd.

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the decorations were beautiful! (Disney only does aesthetically-pleasing everything, or else it’s not Disney.)

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Hoooooooowee. That’s a lot of catching up to digest, isn’t it? Just like how my stomach has a lot of digesting to do from brunch yesterday STILL. More on that in tomorrow’s post though!

So tell me:

Two things you did for Christmas/the holidays this weekend!

Does your family have any Christmas/holiday traditions?

Something outrageous, funny, or exciting you witnessed in the past week.

Am I Smarter Than a 5-Year-Old?

Hello, hello!

Can I just thank you all so much for your well-wishes on my post about my family’s near-death experience? We are feelin’ the love. ♥ We’ve just been taking it in these past couple of days, but we’re a-okay!

I’m sorry that I was MIA from MIMM yesterday (I’m not even trying sound cool), but I was spending some quality time with my aunt, uncle, and cousins who spent the night at our house. Getting to see them is so fun, and you’ll see why when you read on about my cousins. I also always love talking with my aunt (my confirmation sponsor) and uncle (my godfather).

Mom and I got to cooking and baking while we were waiting for our guests to arrive. I love any excuse to bake, so I decided to make brownies (using this recipe) that everyone seemed to enjoy (thank God— I’ve never used anything but box mix before).

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Hors d’œuvre spread.

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Yum.

Our guests (which also included my great-aunt, who lives near by) arrived Sunday night at around 5 PM. My 5-year-old cousin, Angela, and I did not hesitate to start getting crafty with some Do-a-Dot art and drawing. We had a contest to see who could make the most pictures, and she cranked out about five while I only had four. She doesn’t mess around.

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This cutie, Joseph, was the biggest ham for the camera. He really knows how to work it! Just point the camera to him and he is all smiles for ya.

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Before we knew it, my mom had set out a feast for all of us. We decided to go Sandra Lee-style with the semi-homemade method. 30% of the food was made by my mom and the other 70% was takeout from a Chinese restaurant. 100% of the food was fantastic.

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It’s like Thanksgiving again.

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Spoons ready!

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We were all like happy, full babies.

We had to opportunity to have a very technological conference with my other aunt, uncle and cousins through FaceTime while our grandparents were on the phone line.

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Angela slept in my room for the night, so we had a super awesome slumber party looking at the glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling, admiring my multi-colored night light (listen, those are just conveniently there from like, 5th grade), and talking about not being able to sleep and other deep things such as what we would wear to the princess Grand Ball. And let me tell you, Angela is one of THE most intelligent 5-year-olds I’ve ever met, so I can seriously converse with her about this kind of stuff. She speaks more articulately than a lot of my friends even. Juuuust sayin’. She was hyper on half a brownie too, so we talked until 11:30, which is pretty late for Angela. Girls just wanna have fun! 😉

Some tidbits from 5-year-old Angela:

“I want to go get socks from my mom’s room, but I don’t want to go downstairs and bother her…I guess I’ll just have to manage.”

“I was up for an hour after midnight and I just couldn’t go back to sleep so I prayed a decade of the rosary… I also helped Mommy and Daddy clean up the kitchen, open the curtains, and move the shepherd closer to the stable….Yes, I know it’s so frustrating that I couldn’t go back to sleep!” 

“You know what? If you want to fall asleep, DON’T have chocolate before bed…The only time you can drink hot chocolate is if it’s super cold that not even ten blankets can keep you warm! You’re so cold that you HAVE to drink the hot chocolate and then put another blanket on top of you.” 

Do you see how bright this child is?  I definitely did not know how to use “frustrating” in context or how to pray a rosary at five years old. Her parents are fabulous teachers.

I woke up bright and early to make breakfast for everyone. I also will take any excuse to make big breakfasts for other people. ‘Tis my absolute favorite meal to make AND eat!

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Waffles or pancakes? (This recipe for the waffles + this one for the pancakes)

Eggs, fruit, and congee were also included in this bed & breakfast service. 🙂

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You know they’re good when you have pancake on your nose!

We immediately used up our energy from breakfast for running around the house playing bus driver and tag and walk-the-baby. The Game of Life also happened. And yes, Angela played— counting money and all.

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After a while, we were hungry for lunch! My mother just threw together another feast in about 10 minutes flat. Typical madre.

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The woman can do wonders with leftovers.

I so wish our guests could have stayed longer, but they have other family members to visit this Christmas— they’ve gotta spread the love! Every minute spent with them is such a blessing.

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Lazy eye.

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The one time Joey doesn’t look at the camera!

Goodbyes were sad, but hugs and kisses make everyone feel better.

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Today is Christmas Eve! *jumping of excitement* We’re taking advantage of our vicinity to NYC today by going down to see the tree and other festive sights of the season!

So tell me: What are some funny/thoughtful things you’ve heard from a child? What did you do this weekend? 

Spill It Sundays #4: Holiday Traditions

Phew! Despite a frightening start to our Christmas break, we are so thankful to be safe and together back in New York right now. We’re definitely bummed that we won’t be seeing all our relatives and friends in Canada, but it’ll be good to just chill out at home. Except for the fact that it’s not chilly at all right now. It’s balmy in the 50s and 60s— I was walking outside tonight in a skirt and short sleeves!

Other pluses about being home?

  • I got to attend my dance school’s holiday party this morning, which I was planning on missing.
  • My dad and I will be able to go to the Christmas pageant at our church. Some of my religious education students will be participating!
  • I get to bake and cook!

And the plus of it being Sunday? Spill It Sundays! This week, Arman asked us to spill about our holiday traditions and celebrations. Very appropriate for the Christmas season I’d say.

The Big Man's World
What is a traditional/cultural event you and your family/friends celebrate?
One thing that we like to do throughout the year is celebrate saints’ days whenever the saint has a name that is the same as that of one of our family members (ex: Patrick, Thomas, Mary, etc.). I’m sure you’ve noticed that I come from a very Catholic family 😉 We like to send a short and sweet email wishing the person a “Happy Feast Day!”
Another tradition is watching the NYC New Year countdown on TV and clinking glasses of apple bubbly at midnight!
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“Tipsy ‘Chus” (<— just made that up…the stuff isn’t even alcoholic). Taken in the 2012 New Year by my talented friend and fellow Pikachu lover, Christie
Do you have any traditions in which you partake on a consistent basis?
Whenever we go up to Toronto, we always have dim sum at least once. Naturally— we’re Chinese. And it’s Toronto. I’ve heard many times that Toronto’s Chinese food is better than China’s (shhhh).
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This used to be me. Like, SPOT ON.
Dim-Sum-Baskets
Shrimp dumplings are on the bottom right. 
What does a typical day during this period involve?
If we’re talking about Christmas: Wake up, eat a delicious breakfast (like one of these breakfasts!), hang out with family, go to Mass, listen to Christmas songs, open presents, eat lunch (dim sum if we’re in Toronto), do some fun activities, cook/bake, eat a big dinner, and maybe watch a movie or go to a Christmas party. More or less. 
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Essentially, eat and spend time with family. That’s what the holidays are all about, right?!
Most memorable event?
I’d say it’s a tie between two Christmases:
1) Christmas in 2004 (I was 8 years old) when my cousins, Ben, and I put together a Christmas show for our family that involved music performances, singing, break dancing, and…..pillow sumo wrestling. There’s a video, of course. I love that my most embarrassing moments are immortalized.
2) Christmas in 2011 when we were in Florida with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and best friends. All my favorite people in one house for my favorite time of year!
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Gahhh now all this talk is making me SO excited for Christmas! It also helps that I’m listening to Kelly Clarkson’s Christmas album as I type this.
Happy Sunday!
So tell me: What are some holiday traditions you and your loved ones have? What does a typical day look like when you celebrate your favorite holiday? What was your most memorable holiday?

Fascinating Friday Links #15

Hey hey! (in the words of my friend Jeannine— happy birthday, girl!)

I’m gonna keep this intro short and sweet as my eyes are slowly getting droopy. I’m trying out some Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Extra tea to help a little with my insomnia this week. Jo’s post couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. She mentioned that tea with valerian helped her fall asleep quite well, so I picked some up for myself on the way home from school. I’m convinced that my insomnia is purely psychological (can my brain just have an off button sometimes??), but perhaps this tea will help bring my stress levels down a bit. Pray for me! *As I’m completing this post in the morning, I must say that I still couldn’t really relax last night until I had the background noise of the TV. Slept on the couch again then! Oh well.*

But today is Friday, so that’s definitely something to be happy about! I’ll be going to my friend Jeannine’s birthday dinner tonight and then the rest of the weekend should entail the usual activities (dance, Mass, teaching religious ed., homework, etc.). All good stuff happening 🙂 Here are the Fascinating Friday Links to end the week!

fascinating friday

Health and Fitness

[A workout for Catching Fire fans! (and non-fans)] Legs Catching Fire: A Hunger Games Inspired Workout via Blonde Ponytail

[Two posts from Tina—it’s all about balance] 11 Tips to Stick with Your Workouts Through the Holidays + Planning to Gain Weight This Season? Is That Okay? via Best Body Fitness

[Quick and simple] Movember Minute Workout via Purely Twins

[Love all these exercises] 6 Exercise Alternatives to the Barbell Front Squat via Your Trainer Paige

[Fun little workout idea!] The 12 Days of Fitness via Jessie Loves to Run

[LOVE] 10 Things I Want My Daughter to Know About Working Out via Wellfesto

Food for Thought

[Wealth distribution is way more skewed than we thought] 9 Out of 10 Americans Are Completely Wrong About This Mind-Blowing Fact via uTrend

[Interesting topic] Food and Gender Stereotypes via The Big Man’s World and Kelly Runs for Food

[Great story that literally hits home] The True Meaning of Home (and How I Learned It) via Goins Writer

Food for Belly

[Holiday cookies galore!] 25 Best from Two Peas & Their Pod + 27 fabulous ones from How Sweet It Is

[I like this eggnog-in-breakfast thing] Eggnog Baked Oatmeal with Caramelized Bananas and Vanilla Brown Butter via How Sweet It Is + Baked Eggnog French Toast with Sauteed Pears and Pomegranate via Little Ferraro Kitchen

[Need] Easy Sweet Potatoes + Eggs via Edible Perspective

[Gorgeous] Winter Tabouleh via Flourishing Foodie

[Yes, please] Healthier Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookies via Yeah…Imma Eat That

Miscellaneous Fun

[Wait, what?] Kids’ Movies with Adult Innuendos via ChaCha

[Media blows things up] Ever Hear About The Lady Who Spilled Coffee on Herself at McDonald’s and Sued for Millions? via UpWorthy

[Personally, this is how I want to find my soulmate] 5 Secrets to Successful Dating via Chastity Project

[Acne is sneaking up on me] Guest Post: How to Create Flawless Skin for the Holidays via Strength and Sunshine

[Great roundup of tips] Bookmarked: Blogging Tips via Lean Green Bean

[These guys rock] Angels We Have Heard on High (Christmas w/ 32 Fingers and 8 Thumbs) via PianoGuys Youtube

Happy Friday!

So tell me: Have you had insomnia before? How did you deal with it? What are you doing this weekend?

9/11 Memorial and University of Maryland Pt. 1 {MIMM #7}

Happy Columbus Day and Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

This four-day weekend has been filled with fun activities! A little trip to the city, a little trip to Maryland, workouts, and sleep. “Delicious sleep” as my mom calls it, which I think is quite an appropriate term. I definitely needed a refreshing weekend without a jam-packed list of plans and overwhelming homework, and I hope you all have had a lovely weekend as well (whether you are celebrating Columbus Day or Thanksgiving)!

Alrighty, I think it’s fine time to jump into the marvelous events of this weekend. This might be my most extensive MIMM to date! Stop by Katie’s blog to see more marvelousness from other bloggers!

MiMM

Marvelous is…

Winning Courtney’s giveaway for Love Grown Foods products! I’ve never won a giveaway before, so I am pretty stoked. Plus I’ve been wanting to try Love Grown Hot Oats ever since they came out. Thanks again, Courtney!

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Marvelous is…

Lunch in the city with my dad and visiting the 9/11 Memorial. We went to a Japanese/Asian Fusion restaurant right next to the memorial called Koko that my dad’s colleague recommended. Unfortunately though, the sushi wasn’t that great. I guess it’s hard to please this sushi connoisseur 😉

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Miso soup

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Eel avocado and tuna cucumber rolls

It was a chilly, slightly drizzly, windy day, but that sort of elevated the beauty of the 9/11 Memorial in my opinion. The security to get in was sort of like an airport with all the scanners and walk-throughs, but it went by pretty quickly. We pre-ordered tickets for $2 just in case there were a lot of people, but otherwise, entrance is free (donations are suggested).

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The memorial is breathtaking. There are two pools– North in remembrance of legal personnel and officials, and South in remembrance of civilians–where the towers used to be.

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Marvelous is…

Dinner (with Groupon–what else?) with the whole family at a restaurant called Harth. It was kind of upscale and the food was quite tasty.

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Smoked prosciutto pizza and crab cake as appetizers for the table to share

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Mahi Mahi with corn and roasted pepper risotto for my entree. Not bad! The crust of the fish was way too salty, but it was cooked nicely and I liked the risotto.

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Dessert for the table (mostly Ben and me)–creme brulee that was a lot more liquidy than most creme brulees. But Ben and I thought it was good.

Marvelous is…

Road trippin’ to Maryland with mom! We’re going to the University of Maryland Open House, and I’m pretty excited because Maryland is one of my top choices. It might actually BE my top choice, but we’ll see after the event today! I’ll share more of my thoughts tomorrow probably.

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#carselfies

Marvelous are…

Some kick-butt workouts! Friday was actually a pretty lethargic workout day for me, but on Saturday I completed two workouts from Lindsay at the Lean Green Bean. I tried this CrossFit workout that she posted on Instagram that involved lots of rowing. I’ve totally underestimated rowing in the past, but after doing that workout, I respect the rowing machine. Talk about burnin’ glutes.

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I followed that workout with her Legs on Fire tabata…and my legs….were on fire. Go figure. It’s such a good one.

When my mom and I arrived at our hotel next to the University of Maryland, we took advantage of the awesome fitness center. They had fresh towels, apples, bananas, quality equipment, amazing water, and lots of space! My mom and I were kinda having a ball in there. We appreciate nice hotel gyms.

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I did 10 minutes on the elliptical before doing one round of this workout from Michelle at Peachy Palate. She must me a woman of steel, because I always only get through one round of her workouts that say “Repeat 2-3 times.” Humorous. I was dripping with sweat and wiped after one round of that doozy. I finished my time at the fitness center with some more burpees and leg presses.

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#gymselfies

That’s a wrap! Actually, there’s an amazing dinner that my mom and I had last night that I want to share with you all, but we’ll save that for WIAW. I’ll leave ya hangin’ for now though 😉 Have a marvelous Monday, everyone!

So tell me: What did you do this weekend? Do you like the rowing machine? Any good restaurants you’ve gone to recently?