Lately

I have been the WORST with blogging recently.

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

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

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

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Courtney, you are wonderful. Thank you so much!

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

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in this moment: “It’s midnight!!!”

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

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

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

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The rest of the week was GLORIOUS.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fish tacos + the BEST honey ale cornbread on Friday:

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there were not enough napkins for this goodness

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check that margarita in front of Rachel eyoooo

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

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donut holes with warm chocolate sauce to start

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

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

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

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you bet we housed each of ours completely

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Sarah also surprised Rachel when she joined us for burritos 🙂

…a 2.5-hour walk through Boston…

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

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

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

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

Good times with good people, man.

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

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banana pudding for breakfast via Imma Eat That

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

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

Megan: “Feel the loss, Alison.”

Hope you all have a great Monday!

So tell me:

How’s the weather where you are?

Does nice weather make you nostalgic about anything?

Three things you did this weekend!

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

Commitment Issues

How ’bout them Patriots!?

If we’re being 100% honest, I left to study anatomy after Lady Gaga’s (EPIC) halftime show. #WorstBostonian. Megan and I got live updates via our screaming neighbors though.

So about these commitment issues. (No, there is no boy.) I talked about “operation: say yes” while I was studying abroad in Dublin, and that worked pretty well there, but I still have trouble committing to just about everything in my life.

Back story: Last week I had an unnecessarily rough time with a TWO page response paper for my religion class. My task was to answer “What is the role of ‘religion’ in medicine, if any?” in approximately 500 words, and it took me a total of six. hours.

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I texted Rachel telling her that I could punch a wall (I was literally yelling and shedding a tear or two when Megan wasn’t in the room), because I just could not for the life of me form my thoughts into a coherent TWO PAGE ESSAY. Luckily for me though, Rachel is a stellar best friend and competent paper editor who cuts all the crap.

Alison, I feel like you’re not committing to your argument, which, considering yourself, is not hard to believe.

Long story short: Rachel helped sort my thoughts and taught me that I just need to commit, not just in my paper arguments but in my LIFE.

Commit to social events. Commit to times and places. Commit to my ideas. Commit to my thoughts and words.

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I always commit to peanut butter though

I waste so much time (like those 6 hours on a two page paper) teetering back in forth in my mind about whether I should do something or say something, because I am (often subconsciously) terrified of commitment. I don’t want to be wrong. I (ironically) don’t want to waste my time if I make the “wrong” choice of plans. I want to please everyone all at the same time.

I felt like God was yelling at me to learn about commitment last week, because two different priests spoke beautiful words of wisdom that helped me realize my commitment issues.

  • Our Catholic Center priest, Fr. Barnes, spoke one day about how we shouldn’t overthink when choosing between two good things. For example, if you are choosing between helping a sick friend or making sandwiches for people who are homeless, you don’t need to mull over the decision forever. Just PICK ONE, because they’re both good, and you’re wasting time thinking about which one is the “right thing to do” when you could just be doing it. Fr. Barnes said, “God will bless it,” whichever you choose.
  • I was listening to a podcast by Fr. Mike Schmitz (← cannot recommend enough), and he said,

“God’s will is always something you know, because God always speaks in clarity…We have this weird idea that God tries to hide his will…I think we’re more interested in getting rid of the anxiety of making a big decision…God’s not waiting for you to answer a question he hasn’t asked yet…If it’s not absolutely clear what God wants and doesn’t want, then just move!”

In other words, just commit to what you know is good and right in that moment. If what you choose ends up being terrible, then hey, it’s called life and you learn from it.

And so I’ve tried to put this all into practice.

Should I go to the gym with Christina (@foodietunes) on a whim in between my classes?

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I only had time for a 14 minute workout and didn’t get to shower before my next class (did have deodorant though, so I wasn’t putrid), but I committed and had a blast with this chick. We practiced handstands to Aaron Carter’s new song to finish our workouts 🙂

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Should I go out and buy mozzarella and tomato to cook caprese chicken even though my basil is dying? (Seriously, this could become a big dilemma for me.)

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Um, yes. This was a fantastic idea. I set aside time to grocery shop and cook this properly (committed to using the grill AND the broiler), and it was one of the best things I’ve cooked in a while.

Should I spend a few hours on Saturday night with my girl friends?

Get your work done, Alison, and commit to this time with your friends (I am known to flake at the last minute for social gatherings).

Man, was this worth it. We talked, snacked, played Just Dance…

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…did (a single) square partner pushup…

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…and played the laughing game.

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Immediately after this was taken I said, “Wait why are we holding hands!? Ew, guys.” #waytoocheesy

Should Megan and I commit to making football-shaped scones for the Super Bowl party? 

Megan pitched the idea as a half-joke, but I took the idea and ran. We committed, bought the ingredients, and made our favorite British baked good.

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“football-shaped” is just one interpretation

As Rachel reminded me several times, scones are not a situationally-appropriate food for the Super Bowl, but they were still a hit!

I’ve been committing to other, more important things than scones, but my point is that I am at a point in my life where I need to improve my decision-making skills, overthink a bit less, and trust in myself a bit more (only because I know that God has entrusted me with knowledge and skills).

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Hope you all have a wonderful Monday!

So tell me:

Do you have commitment issues?

Thoughts on the Super Bowl? (I have none to share because I didn’t really watch it.)

What was the best thing you did this weekend?

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.

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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congee = rice porridge with lots of good stuff inside

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

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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!

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

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

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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!

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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!

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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.

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cart-basket contraption

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

Lunch on the road:

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pork bun

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cold Taiwanese noodles

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

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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!

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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.

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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? 

New Things in the New Year

Greetings from New York! Let’s talk about some new things that I’ve already experienced in this new year! (Has the word “new” lost its meaning yet? If not, it will after you finish reading this post.)

Our last day of 2015 and first day of 2016 was spent with family, friends, and food. Classic. December 31st included sore muscles in new places that have never really been sore before (maybe my subscapularis?. It also included a delicious Vietnamese lunch with my cousins.

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grilled chicken and shrimp vermicelli bowl at Saigon Star (one of our faves)

We counted down to the New Year with our other cousin’s family and all their cool kung fu friends. I helped out by cooking some rosemary roasted potatoes and a garden salad, and I got a new compliment from my little cousin: “These are the best potatoes ever!” I might never hear that again. #cherish

Also, check out this beautiful appetizer spread by my aunt!

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Do not be deceived. I ate this and much more.

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Camping out by the snacks. She’s my mini-me.

Dessert was mochi ice cream and freshly baked {Pillsbury} chocolate chip cookies. Perfection, I say.

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We learned some new moves and grooves with Just Dance on the wii. My mom filmed Ben and me dancing to “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga. I was doing the dance a lot better in my head.

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when around kung fu masters, you do active things always

When it came time to count down the last seconds until 2016, we poured some bubbly and watched the live Times Square ball drop on TV. It was great, except the TV kept freezing up, and of course it froze on the last 5 seconds of the countdown.

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“Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, fi- NOOOOOOO!”

Nevertheless, 2016 was still there and we all had a fun time celebrating.

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reppin’ my classiest wardrobe selection

On New Year’s Day, I got up early to try a new fitness class — the ever famous BodyPump! Now let me make this clear: I only tried this early (9:30AM lol) class on New Year’s because a) it was free with a gym trial pass; b) I don’t have BodyPump close to home; c) my cousin Liz came with me.

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Verdict? I enjoyed it! It could have been more challenging, but that’s because Liz and I stuck with lighter weights since it was our first time. I would do BodyPump (or other Les Mills classes) again, but I don’t know if I would actively seek it out.

Later that day, I watched a new movie. Guess which one.

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Star Warzzzzzz! I’ve never seen any other Star Wars movies, but I didn’t find it too difficult to follow the plot, and I actually loved the movie! BB8 (pictured above) is my favorite.

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Ate a banana from home and a whole small bag of popcorn.

My family and I departed Canada on Saturday, Subway sandwiches in tow. Thankfully, the drive was safe and pretty swift.

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road trip snacks!

Before hitting the road, I did this quick leg circuit. After the long trip, I was missing Just Dance with my cousin, so I did a random Shaun T dance DVD in the basement.

Yesterday involved Mass, buying new textbooks for the semester, Korean food, another new movie, errands, and a short workout.

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beloved Korean side dishes

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chicken bibimbap shared with Madre

After Mass and lunch, Pop and I watched the new film Brooklyn in theaters. We both loved it! It’s pretty much a rom com, but more old-timey (it takes place during the 1940s era of immigration in America).

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Highly recommend if you are up for a sweet, feel-good movie that’s not too intense.

And here we are at Monday. Best of luck to all those heading back to school or work!

……..I have two more weeks until I go back to school sorrysorrysorry.

May the force be with you.

So tell me:

What did you do for New Year’s?

Have you done anything new yet in 2016?

Did you watch Star Wars or Brooklyn?

What is the best thing you ate this weekend? The bibimbap for me!