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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Ice Cream Sundays + Start of Grad School

Two very different yet equally important things.

I’ve been meaning to post this for the past two days, but here we are on a Wednesday. Now that I have to fill my days and nights with studying, blogging will probably be reduced to once a week again. C’est la vie.

It’s been a blessed past five days though!

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even my pineapple was smiling at me! (but this was a terrible pineapple)

Friday

Friday was my last day of work as a gross anatomy teaching assistant, and I must say that I had a great time working that job. (Definitely a better time than the students were having. What troopers.)

I kicked off the weekend with Colby! We picked up our pottery that we painted last weekend, and they turned out so well.

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Afterwards we walked over to Shawarma King for some Mediterranean goods.

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I got the falafel wrap, which totally hit the spot.

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Then we went to Paris Creperie for dessert, necessarily. I got the petite sized bear claw crepe (cinnamon and cookie butter), which was not really worth the price (I was hoping they’d have vanilla ice cream to top it with – negative) but tasty nonetheless.

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As always, time with Colby was the best part 🙂

Later in the night, I joined some friends at Rachel’s place for a Princess Diaries movie night. If it were any other movie, I would have gone to bed instead, but the original Princess Diaries is so worth it.

Saturday

I was suuuuuper tired getting up early Saturday morning, but I was still so happy to go to a 7:30am “Cardio Core Fusion” class at Exhale Back Bay with my friend Elayne!

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She had told me that ClassPass (a membership that gives you discounted prices for fitness classes throughout the city) was having a 4 classes for $4 deal for their 4th anniversary, so we jumped on it. This Cardio Core Fusion was a great, involving lots of planks and punches and fun beats, but my body was NOT having it after a week of less-than-ideal amounts of sleep.

But any opportunity to move and groove with friends is a good time!

I made sure not to book anything else for Saturday so that I could nap (for 2.5 hours thankyouverymuch), clean the apartment, do laundry, pray, cook, FaceTime with the fam, and go to sleep early-ish. I hadn’t forced myself to have a (nearly) commitment-free day in a long time, but after Saturday, I was reminded of how valuable those kinds of days are.

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meatloaf + arugula salad

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banana bread mug cake + greek yogurt while FaceTiming the fam

Sunday

…started off with THE BEST smoothie ever. On Saturday night I threw together in a bowl:

  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/3 c. greek yogurt
  • 1/2 c. oats
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds
  • sprinkle of cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • big spoonful of peanut butter

On Sunday morning, I poured the whole mixture into a blender with a little more milk and about 2/3-3/4 of a frozen banana. And voila! The thickest, most luscious pb banana smoothie of all time.

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I miss it.

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I walked to a church downtown for confession afterwards and then met up with Ben for a workout on the esplanade. It was a hot and beautiful day, so it seemed like all of Boston’s humans and domestic and wild animals were playing outside.

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We utilized the equipment and came up with this fun workout that also made me feel like I was working out on top of a stove. The rubber flooring of this thing is a heat sponge.

3 rounds:

  • 20 tricep dips
  • 15 goblet squats (with a random cement block we found there)
  • 20 decline situps
  • 10 burpee bench jumpovers
  • 10 step up hops each leg
  • 10 side to side uneven pushups
  • 10 lateral hopover burpees
  • 25 double unders
  • 20 reverse rows

We drank oh so much agua afterwards and walked over to a different park to hang out with more friends!

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We picnicked, frisbee’d, read, jumped rope, and made fun of each other. Quality friend time ♥︎

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I packed and ate this sandwich for the park – pepper jack, ham, arugula, bacon, sriracha mayo *squeal*

After playing outside for a few hours, I walked back home while FaceTiming my friend Briana. Then I showered, ate meatloaf and veggies in record speed, and rushed back out the door for Mass back on campus.

My friends and I have unofficially decided that we now have a post-Sunday-Mass ice cream ritual. I really just kept bugging people about ice cream all day, but who was gonna say no? We went to White Mountain Creamery last Sunday, so it seems like it’s “ice cream Sundays” should be a thing now.

This week we went to Emack and Bolio’s, which has been known to just be “meh,” and for me it was still just that, but it was ice cream. It was also my fault for ordering too chocolatey of a flavor for my taste.

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chocolate salted peanut butter cup + bananas foster (the latter was delicious though!)

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some of my favorite humans

Rachel invited us over to her place to hang out/watch the Cardinals v. Pirates baseball game, but I was there for the hanging out, popcorn and beer. The baseball was nice white noise.

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Monday

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I’ve been having overnight oats 5/7 days per week probably, and I am never mad about it.

I worked through the morning at my side job and then headed to the gym for a very short but efficient workout (read: my legs were jello by the end).

Supersets (3x)

  • 10 pistols each leg + 20 KB swings (12kg)
  • 15 weighted jump squats (10#) + 20 hamstring ball curls + 20 jump lunges

I warmed up before and stretched afterwards, but this was IT.

Sidenote: I was fueled by this bomb sandwich I packed with me.

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avocado, arugula, two eggs, bacon, sriracha *angels singing*

Sandwiches make the world go ’round.

After the gym, I went to the bookstore to pick up a textbook for my class and then headed home to cook, eat and FaceTime with my dear friend Emma for THREE hours! There was apparently a lot on our hearts that needed to be said. Praise God for wonderful friends.

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dinner – more meatloaf with brown rice and veggies sautéed in sesame oil and rice vinegar

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post dinner – leftover green pancakes from the freezer, warmed up and topped with pb and maple syrup

I ate this dinner and snack kind of early (finished at 6pm) but ate a chicken drumstick at around 9pm after FaceTiming Emma. So I was full going to bed, but for some odd reason, I woke up starving at 3:30am. I hesitate to use the word starving for fear of overdramatizing my hunger, but I really was hungry to the bone and felt like I could have eaten a large burger with fries and milkshake in the middle of the night.

Of course, I got up and ate bread with pb&j. But when I went back to bed, I was still so hungry and ate half a frozen banana with yogurt. And then third times the charm, I got up again and ate several handfuls of sunflower seeds.

It was a very odd occurrence that I did not like at all, but I just honestly, inadvertently didn’t eat enough before going to bed. Happens…but I’d prefer if it didn’t.

Tuesday

First day of PT school!!!

We had orientation at 8am, followed by class from 9-12 and 1-3. Five hours of classes in one day is not my cuppa tea, but alas, summer school is here.

After our long first day of Functional Anatomy, our program directors kindly set up a fun social event for all of the post-bacs and continuing undergraduates (like me) to mingle and meet one another. We bonded over bowling and lots of delicious food (praaaaaaise)!IMG_9250

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I helped myself to half a ham sandwich, chips, salsa, egg rolls, chicken wings, fried mac and cheese(!!!!), lemonade, and, like, a couple veggies.

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new and old friends! (shoutout to Erin who always hypes up my blog around new people haha ♥︎)

Now I have things like homework to do at night, so I think I’m going to read a textbook, pray, EAT A FREAKING HEFTY SNACK, and hit the hay.

Hope you are all having a marvelous week!

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So tell me:

Do you have a fun weekly or monthly “ritual” of any sort?

Two things you did this weekend!

Do you ever schedule in a full day off? 

Five Minute Friday #3: Making Changes to Fulfill a Purpose

I have a new companion who comes with me to all my meals, but I’m not really sure I want him there… He kinda weighs me down sometimes, but I can’t let go of him, and I always pay attention to what he has to say.

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See him? Mr. Exercise Physiology. I have an exam for on Tuesday, and I need all information about metabolism to saturate my brain.

Other recent happenings include lots of sandwiches with guac…

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…and Lent! It started this Wednesday, so this week’s Five Minute Friday vlog has to do with making changes in one’s life in order to fulfill a purpose (not just from a Catholic perspective).

link to the video here!

Catholics do have set rules for fasting and abstinence throughout Lent. Here are some infographics if you’re curious!

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Ooo Valentine’s Day is this weekend, isn’t it? Flashback to when I wrote a letter to my future husband on this blog for Valentine’s Day two years ago. “Dear No One” is still my theme song.

Happy weekend!!!

So tell me:

If you participate in Lent, what are you giving up/adding? Giving up: makeup and scrolling Instagram (I can post but that’s it). Adding: Must be at least 5 minutes early to everything if I can help it and a decade of the rosary each day.

If you do not participate in Lent, do you feel called to make any specific changes in your life to meet your goals?

What are you doing for Valentine’s Day/President’s Day/the weekend?

I’ll be celebrating “Galentine’s Day” with Rachel tomorrow night! 🙂 The only way I might choose a guy over Rachel is if he comes up to me with a single rose in his mouth, Coldplay/Tori Kelly tickets, and a box of chocolates jar of peanut butter within the next twenty-four hours.

Sharing Food and Sharing Life in NYC

I am wearing fuchsia yoga pants right now and I feel fabulous.

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trying not to pull my tight hamstrings

I decided to attend ballet class at my old dance school tonight last night, but I don’t think I fit into any of my leotards and tights anymore. Ergo, these bright and fun capris! I never wear this color, but I’m a fan.

(Thanks for buying them for me, Madre ♥︎)

These past couple of days I have been meeting up with a few friends to share food and share life. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in college, it’s how to be a better listener and sharer. Last year, I developed a deeper and much more sincere interest in other people’s lives (especially people I don’t know that well).

I’ve also come to believe more that my own life experiences are worth sharing in conversation. I mean, I share my life to the whole world on this blog, but no one has to read it if he or she doesn’t want to. In real time conversation, however, I used to be afraid to talk about my life because I didn’t think it was interesting or that the other person wouldn’t care. Sometimes that’s true, but you never know which little stories could turn into great conversations.  It sparks human connection. I’ve said it before: Your story matters and it’s beautiful!

WHAT-I-ATE-WEDNESDAY-NEW-BUTTON-PEAS-AND-CRAYONS

Anyway, let’s talk about Monday. It started off with breakfast, an 8 minute ab workout, and a train ride to Grand Central.

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whipped banana oatmeal: 1/2 c. oats, half banana, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, chia seeds, an egg, and peanut butter

I was on my way to see my girl Colby, who was one of my cabin-mates at Blend Retreat last year! We met up at Grand Central before walking to The Picnic Basket for some bomb-dig sandwiches.

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French Goat Cheese – chicken, sundried tomato pesto, grilled zucchini, figs, tomatoes and fresh greens on multigrain

This thing was massive and so tasty. I ate one half and saved the other half for later (ended up being Pop’s dinner on the train ride home!). Then it was time for the 50+ block walk to get the beloved…

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Lloyd’s carrot cake! Remember when Ben and I detoured to get this over Thanksgiving break? Colby saw my snapchat at the time and told me she wanted in on it.

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I wasn’t mad about it.

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does she love me or the carrot cake?

We housed our hefty slices of carrot cake WITH raisins and walnuts (major key) while our fingers froze off. FUNNY STORY: When we were walking back, we stopped at a Barnes and Noble to use the restroom, and my fingers were so cold that I couldn’t re-button my jeans. I am telling you, I could. not. do it. My fingers were deprived of the energy to do any sort of fine motor movements. Luckily, I was wearing a big ol’ belt, so I just buckled that over the button and called it a solution.

Moving on.

We walked only 20-ish blocks back before we decided to take the subway to Grand Central where Colby and I parted ways. It was such a privilege to spend the day with this girl! She is so genuine and kind, and I admire her balanced outlook on food and fitness.

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From there, I had two hours to kill before dinner with my lovely friend, Christine. After half an hour of catching up with some things on my phone, I explored Grand Central.

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casual squash tournament of champions going down

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Grand Central Apple Store

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Grand Central Market

You literally have everything you need there.

My phone was running low on battery, so I walked to a Duane Reade pharmacy and stood awkwardly behind a wall of paper towels and nail polish to charge my phone at an outlet. Then it was time for dinner at Lan Larb with Christine!

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spicy basil pork with rice

I thought I was still full from carrot cake until I finished this whole thing. I guess that’s what walking over 23,000 steps does to ya!

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p.s. I never check this app, but I was interested on Monday since we walked so much!

It was so fun catching up with Christine and having some great girl talk. She is such a sweetheart (with substantial sass!).

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I need lessons from Christine on how to pose in photos

Bonus: Yesterday I met up with an old friend from high school for lunch! She was kind enough to reach out to me so we could catch up.

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tuna cucumber and eel avocado roll (my faves!)

And that, my friends, is how to share food and share life. 

Just kidding, do it however you like. This was all a grand time though. I am so grateful for good people and nourishment.

So tell me:

Are you an open book, closed book, or somewhere in between when it comes to sharing life stories in conversation? I’m still somewhere in between, but I’m more of an open book than before! Also depends on the person/context obviously. Fun fact: I used to be more introverted, but according to my most recent Myers-Briggs test, I’m an extravert!

Have your fingers ever been SO cold that you literally couldn’t move them?

What is the best thing you ate Monday/yesterday? The carrot cake for me. Duh.

The brightest color of clothing you own!

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!