And Just Like That, I Got Busy

Leave it to me to make a 12-credit schedule feel like a 20-credit schedule.

I feel like the busyness dial went from 1 to 100 in the past week, but I cannot complain. I don’t have that much time to write this (sleep is calling), but I thought I’d share some of the things that are filling up my days this spring semester!

I bought a 5-class pass for a modern dance class in Cambridge, since the dance class I usually take on campus was under-enrolled this semester. I don’t care that I have to pay extra and walk 35 minutes to and from the dance class, because this girl wants to DANCE.

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walking with this view ain’t bad

Last week, a couple of my dear friends were sick up the wazoo, so they needed a lot of TLC. My friend Sarah and I made Rachel loads of chicken noodle soup. And then poor Sarah needed some Gatorade and crackers a few days later… 😦

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Megan is a fantastic roommate for many reasons. She cleans things when I’m not around, helps me study for gross anatomy, and teaches me how to properly use chopsticks, because I’m the worst Asian and have never actually used chopsticks correctly (I cross them when I use them).

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this method never worked for me until last week when a Pennsylvania Irish girl taught this Chinese-Laotian banana how to do things right

She also shares her desserts with me.

brownie pudding in a crockpot, black raspberry ice cream, and a buttercream frosting sugar cookie from a box that her mom sent her ♥︎ 

And lastly, she doesn’t judge me when I eat banana something for the 3rd time in a single day.

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banana bread mug cake via Running with Spoons

I went to the dining hall for the first time in eight months last week, and it was fun being in the world of endless buffet again.

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I am working again, which involves cooking up a HURRICANE for my bosses. Last week I made them meatloaf, salmon, baked chicken parm, tuna salad, barley risotto, and roasted veggies. Yes, it did take forever. Yes, I did taste every single one of them.

I will be killing more trees this semester than I ever have in a single semester. Gross anatomy requires all the printing of notes and all the flashcards.

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Megan and I had a Dublin reunion with our lovely friend Cristen this weekend! She goes to a different school, so we met up in Boston for an Italian lunch. (Megan and I miss Italy so much.)

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Megan and I were pretty darn hungry, so we split a meatball panini + side salad…

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…and ordered our own pasta dishes. I got the spaghetti all’amatriciana (tomato sauce with pork cheek, onions, and pecorino cheese HOLY MOLY). 

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it was so good catching up with Cristen! 🙂

Other reasons why I fail as an Asian: I had no dim sum on Chinese New Year. Instead, I ate pasta, meatballs, and pizza. #identitycrisis?

National peanut butter day was last week, and I didn’t even know until Cristen texted me to remind me. Every day is national peanut butter day to me, so it all melds together.

I’ve gotten a couple great gym workouts in this past week + some much-needed yoga/walking days. Check out this intention wall in our gym!

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And all the diversity of intentions…

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“cry less” … “← same”

We had a SEEK reunion on Saturday night, and one of the activities was eating pizza with RULES. We were all numbered off 1, 2, or 3. Ones couldn’t feed themselves their own pizza, twos couldn’t touch their own beverages, and threes couldn’t touch their own napkins. Everyone had to help each other. I was a one, so Fiona and Rachel kindly fed me my pizza (which made me slow down significantly and appreciate each bite).

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“pizza me”

There have been a lot of meetings with some great people and one okay dog.

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our priest’s dog making himself very comfortable behind Rachel in the middle of our meeting

Apartment living has been a little more time-consuming than dorm life, but I’m loving it.

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Although I have to remember that I’m not grocery shopping for a family of four anymore. I may have bought a huge box of salad greens that could feed 10 people. Hence the green in every food I make these days.

Lastly, I’ve tried to make time for reflection, prayer, and good conversation in all my days. I could take the extra hour (or two) to study, but I know that I will not be well overall if I continuously go without filling my soul.

Alright I really need to go to sleep. Hope you all have a great week!

So tell me:

What’s been going on in your life!? (I haven’t been great about responding recently, but I read all your comments and appreciate them so much!)

Did you celebrate Chinese New Year or national peanut butter day?

Do you ever wonder, “how the heck did my schedule get so full!?”

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Challenged

I’m forgetting that the weather usually gets colder once fall hits.

I have to wear socks and sweaters in my dorm room, which currently seems like a foreign concept to me. Like, I can’t just be in athletic shorts and a t-shirt all the time now? I have to “keep warm”!?!?

That doesn’t mean I’m giving up cold overnight oats though.

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strawberry banana peanut butter overnight oats overfloweth

Also, who knew strawberries were so good in Ireland!? I feel like I already talked about this. Deja vu.

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Lunches have been looking mighty similar these days, but I don’t hate it. Eggs and veggies are always welcome in my belly.

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As are cheese and carbs.

Lunchtime is a madhouse these days, because we often only have a one hour break to come back to the kitchen, prepare our meals, eat them, and then walk back to class. Plus all the cleaning and maneuvering around 10 other people doing the same exact thing. It sounds like I’m complaining, but I kinda love the rush of “we all have to eat! NOW!”

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Food brings people together 🙂

I would say that the challenge of sharing a kitchen is nothing compared to the moral and mental challenge of my classes so far. It’s not that they are too academically difficult (yet), but all my courses (contemporary Irish society, ethics in healthcare, and healthcare practice and policy) have something to say about the Catholic Church and all the hot topics that surround it these days.

And I get it– just a mention of the Catholic Church stirs up a lot of hubbub.

Sure, I get uncomfortable in class being one of the two practicing Catholics here (especially because everyone knows that I’m a devout Catholic), but I’m loving every minute of it. Not because I want to get all defensive or play the victim, but because I need to be challenged in my beliefs. I want to know what others think of “people like me”. I need to dig deep into why I believe what I believe, and facing the (sometimes stinging) commentary of those who oppose my beliefs is one effective way of doing that.

(p.s. I’m not leaving the Church anytime soon.)

The best part? We all still get along and respect each other. And there have been a couple of very kind people who have shown their appreciation for my POVs, even if they don’t necessarily agree. This was especially comforting yesterday after I expressed my opinions in class, practically shaking with nervousness. (I’m not kidding, but I’m also not asking for pity.)

I might make a vlog expanding on all my thoughts later. My brain is exploding with thoughts and reflections all the time these days!

Anyway, let’s get back to food for some relief from this rather serious topic. Dinner this week has been pork chops with sautéed onions, potatoes with red pesto, and roasted broccoli. A delicious and satisfying meal. Yay for fats!

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Moves and grooves have been short and sweet. Except on Monday when I did a 50 minute Fitness Blender HIIT workout. Tuesday was 35 minutes of yoga + a slow and easy 12 minute lunchtime workout, and yesterday was a 100 burpee workout! 🙂

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that’s all the time it took! gotta leave time for stretching!

It’s nice to get in some kind of movement before I sit for 5-6 hours of class throughout the day. But sleeping is also a priority, which is why my workouts have been “squeezed in” so much lately. I’ve been waking up wanting to go back to sleep FOR.EV.ER. (whoa, that sounds more morbid than I intended).

I used so many parentheses in this post.

I hope you all have a fabulous Thursday! I will be playing Gaelic football and possibly some other Irish sports today for class. God help me.

So tell me:

Have you ever felt challenged in your beliefs in school?

What have you been eating for dinner this week?

Do you forget that the weather changes too?

What is your favorite quick workout?

I Feel Like I Should Have Learned This A While Ago

I am currently watching a video for my ethics in healthcare class, and so far I’ve seen a C-section, prostate surgery and throat surgery in the past 15 minutes.

I’m not that faint of heart, but this is making my vision a little blurry.

Good morning! What a way to start this post, eh? Here’s a picture of an appealing breakfast to counteract those thoughts.

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Sorry if you don’t think Greek yogurt, banana, and peanut butter are appealing.

I am only a week into this Dublin study abroad program, but I am already wondering: “Why did I ever not want to do this??”

Believe it or not, I really did not want to study abroad for a while. The main reason was FOMO— I didn’t want to miss out on all the fun and friendships back at Boston University. I also didn’t feel a strong tug to study abroad, so I wrote it off as “not for me.”

In the end (obviously), I chose to study abroad in order to challenge myself. To learn about other people. To travel. To get outside of my cushy, mushy comfort zone of friends, family, and familiarity.

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although cheese toast with eggs and sriracha for lunch is pretty familiar 🙂

My reasons for coming to Dublin are not quite unique, but I know that my experience here is unique. Who will I meet? What will I learn? How will I grow? Will I even gain anything?

I won’t reflect too extensively today, but two things I have learned this week are that:

  • Sharing a kitchen with over 10 people is both an art and a labor of love.
  • Education should be driven by a desire to learn and become a better person, not merely by a desire to “do well.” I always knew this one, but I have only recently realized that I get so nervous for school because I feel pressure to primarily do well. Retain information, apply my knowledge after the course, etc.— all those were secondary thoughts to me. It’s sad, but it’s true.

I feel like I should have learned that latter point such a long time ago. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve always loved learning, but only selectively and usually outside of a classroom setting, where the thought of grades wasn’t oppressing me.

I still break a tiny sweat when I think of learning and writing about something completely out of my comfort zone, but that’s where the growth happens. And, as Fr. Mike Schmitz said, if I am motivated by gratitude (for the gift of learning) rather than fear (of not doing well in the course), then I can be free.

Free to think. Free to question. Free to innovate.

And on the kitchen topic, I actually enjoy the kitchen parties. Minus the dirty dishes and questionable amount of smoke that we produce in the kitchen. I contributed to the smoky room with my Irish grass-fed beef burgers (am I trendy yet!?).

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on multigrain sourdough toast with ketchup, mustard, sautéed onions, white cheddar and spinach + cherry tomatoes on the side

Lookit!

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Plus this classic thanks to Madre hauling over dried figs for me in her Mary Poppins bag.

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dried figs with Greek yogurt

All we need in this dorm is the laundry machines to be up and running. Patience is virtue, but dirty laundry is gross.

Lastly, I want to wish Madre a very happy birthday! I’m sure this lady is feeling twenty twoooooo ooo ooo! I love you, mama!

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So tell me:

Have you always been motivated by a desire to learn in school? Or have you had desires to “just do well”?

Have you ever had to share a space with many people? My four-person-family life at home is a premium.

If you’ve ever studied abroad, what was your main reason for going?

Rest and Digest

I love the kitchen.

I’m no chef, but I have been loving my time spent cooking and baking in the kitchen this summer. I don’t know if you picked this up from my blog/Facebook/Instagram (new handle by the way! @alison_grooves), but I love food! I am immensely grateful to have access to so many different kinds of food that are both good for me and good to me.

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lemonade and cookies from a stand run by some boys and their mom ♥ 

I also love my mom and her cooking, but not gonna lie, two is a crowd in the kitchen. #BattleForTheFrontBurner

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Simple Mills almond flour pumpkin muffins + Justin’s vanilla almond butter, courtesy of Blend swag

For the most part nowadays, I have the privilege of eating whatever I want, whenever I want. The only meal I consistently think about is breakfast, but that’s only because it’s my favorite meal of the day…because it always involves nut butter, banana, and dairy.

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Thursday morning oatmeal cookie dough cereal with banana

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Friday morning hot banana chia egg white oats in a {glass} Teddie peanut butter jar

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Sunday morning banana oat French toast bake topped with peanut butter+ Greek yogurt 

Then there are those few-and-far-between days when I start thinking about what I should be eating, when I should eat a snack, or whether I’ll be hungry enough for a scheduled meal out at a restaurant. It makes me anxious.

When I get anxious, my mind focuses on my stomach— in a bad way. I overanalyze my fullness or any sort of signal that might mean hunger. I physically feel stress and tension in my stomach because my mind is on it. When this happens, I usually feel full and crappy for the rest of the day. Any time I want to eat feels like I’m stress eating, because I don’t feel quite hungry enough for food, and then the cycle continues.

I don’t know why these rare days come up out of nowhere, but they do. Recently, it could be the fact that I have fewer obligations during the summer, lack of sleep, a combination of a few things…

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caprese grilled chicken {“This is better than a restaurant!” — Dad ➔ if I could physically blush, I would}

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best sweet roasted potatoes again!

I had a couple of those wonky days this past week, but what I’ve learned during recovery is to not be anxious about being anxious. It happens, and I’ll be okay. “This too shall pass.”

You know what else I’ve learned? Rest and digest (that whole parasympathetic nervous system at work, for all you biology geeks) is LEGIT.

For those of you who might not be familiar with “rest and digest”, digestion is not a priority for our survival when we’re in a stressful situation, so that’s one of the first processes to halt when we’re under stress.  When our bodies return to a normal, non-stressed state, digestion can continue.

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strawberry milkshake at the diner with Daliza 🙂

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making her own “coffee affogato

Thus, when I’m not stressed about food (or anything), I have more of an appetite! For instance, whenever I take a nap (like that crazy two hour nap I took last week), I almost always wake up ready to eat something.

Former me would have thought: There’s no way I can be hungry. I was out on the couch for two hours doing absolutely nothing with my body.

Current me knows: Napping gives my body the opportunity to rest and, therefore, digest. {which is why breakfast is such a fun meal, because I (most of the time) pop out of bed like eyyyy let’s eat!}

In addition, I feel that eating enough calorically also helps my digestion, or at least my comfort. When I eat a lot of volume but not a lot of calories (unintentionally!), my stomach feels like an inflated balloon, but the rest of my body feels like it needs some energy.

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crockpot bbq chicken with pasta + salad with homemade mustard vinaigrette + suhweeeeet corn!

And when I feel digested, I feel more comfortable throughout the rest of my day. I don’t have to focus on my stomach anymore.

Side note: I’ve also lowered my veggie intake. As in, I don’t need to have a monster salad and a freaking garden of vegetables for both lunch and dinner. Some peppers with hummus at lunch and a normal side salad at dinner is good enough, allowing my GI tract to be like, HALLELUJAH.

TMI? Sorry, not sorry. Gut talk is important.

With that said, I hope you all have a rockin’ Monday! Rest and digest.

So tell me:

Have you ever felt the difference in your digestion between when you’re stressed and when you’re not?

Do you like having the kitchen to yourself (or are you less selfish than I am)? 

What was the best thing you ate this weekend? For me, it’s a tough call between the caprese chicken, french toast bake, and sweet corn!

A Very Blogger-esque Weekend

Ermahgersh.

That has been my catch phrase of the weekend, because everyone and everything that I encountered deserved such a remark. Let’s start from the very beginning, a very good place to start!

Friday

I took the day off from my {unpaid} physical therapy internship to spend the day in NYC. First of all, can I just tell you about how I had to run to catch my train? Running (literally) late left me shaking due to a lack of high intensity exercise recently. I was late for no reason other than the fact that I’m terrible at managing my time and I get distracted too easily. Working on it.

First stop in the city was to meet my dad for lunch! He took me out to one of his favorite spots called Dig Inn, which is such a healthy living blogger eatery. Just look at this sign— made of wood, says “seasonal market”. Fits all the criteria already.

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lentil salad with upstate apples // roasted sweet potatoes // bulgur with wild salmon salad

It was kinda like a full service version of Whole Foods hot bar, but even fresher and more delicious.

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This is me with the Brooklyn Bridge and the city air that left soot in my nose.

Then I saw this kangaroo sausage lover!

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Arman from The Big Man’s World! Upon meeting, he immediately boosted my ego saying, “I thought you were going to be tinier (shorter)!” That was an exciting compliment!

But seriously, Arman is such a cool and genuine dude. It was an honor walking and talking with the Australian no-bake master in person. He even brought me a batch of his newest strawberries and cream bars, which are not only me-approved, but Pop-approved. Go make them!

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The sunshine, heat, walking, talking, and less-than-ideal amount of sleep during the week left me royally pooped at the end of the day. I didn’t even have the energy to take a shower before going to bed, which is nasty but I did not care.

Saturday

I started the day inspired by Arman’s creations with this strawberries and cream “oatmeal pudding” based on his cake batter oatmeal.

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The rest of the day involved chores, handstands, bodyweight leg exercises, church, and experimenting in the kitchen.

I found turkey bacon in our freezer, resulting in the strong urge to wrap it around chicken. So I searched Pinterest, found this recipe for cheese-and-pepper-stuffed, bacon-wrapped chicken, and made it for dinner. I just used turkey bacon and garlic herb cheddar instead of real bacon and regular cheddar.

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This was one of the best decisions I’ve made all week! Is that sad? I say nay, because this was freaking fantastic. I served it with sautéed onions and mushrooms, and steamed veggie medley.

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Dad asked what I would name the chicken dish (besides “cheddar and pepper stuffed bacon wrapped chicken”). I said that it kinda looks like a race car, so he said it should be Chicken Lamborghini.

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Close one eye and envision the Chicken Lamborghini. Close the other eye if needed.

For dessert I baked peanut butter cookies (for a belated National Peanut Butter Cookie Day celebration) and prepared a new mango banana chia pudding recipe that I’ll be sharing later!

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Sunday

It’s always fun when we get to make Sunday a pancake day! Strawberry cornmeal griddle cakes from Smitten Kitchen to be exact.

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The crisp of the cornmeal will get you out of bed

I am a major cornbread fan, so any opportunity to make cornbread in breakfast form is an opportunity to snatch.

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buttah, baby

And because I wanted peanut butter, I ate a bowl of full fat Greek yogurt with banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, chia seeds, and a big spoonful of pb alongside my griddle cakes.

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More blogger interaction took place in the afternoon. In addition to texting Alison and Hayley throughout the weekend, I FaceTimed the beautiful Julia from Lord Still Loves Me! Despite some crappy wifi connection, we managed to have a lovely conversation. She is such a sweet and genuine lady— I adore her!

I’m starstruck from this weekend.

I also baked this banana bread baked oatmeal, which I’m saying is for my dad, but we’ll see how much actually gets to his mouth before it gets to mine.

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So yes— a very blogger-esque weekend. Meeting bloggers, cooking, eating, blogging… I think I’m going to continue the trend and get my yoga on right now.

Hope you all have a joyous day!

So tell me:

What is the best thing you ate this weekend?

What would you name the cheese-and-pepper-stuffed, bacon-wrapped chicken?

Which bloggers would you love to meet in person (I’m not looking for myself as an answer, promise!)?