Snowed In + Alvin Ailey Night {MIMM #16}

This weekend was everything I needed and more— family time, rest, exercise, and good food. God is so good.


Linking up with Katie on this Marvelous Monday!

‘Twas a snowy and icy weekend here in New York. Everything was getting cancelled left and right— no dance, no Sunday school, no babysitting. Part of me was thinking “darn,” but the other part of me was doing a jiggy dance because that meant I had more time to unwind and spend time with my family. The latter part of me was dominant. 😉

Luckily, company’s evening at Alvin Ailey on Friday was not affected by the weather. My friends and I took a train down to the city for our 4:30 Horton technique master class with Milton Myers, a prestigious modern dance teacher who is currently on faculty at Juilliard and Alvin Ailey/Fordham! Our dance school has been incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to take a class with him every year for a while now, and it’s always amazing! The class is open to company members and anyone in the senior master class program.


Passing through Columbus Circle en route from the subway to the studio.


Selfie before class. Don’t let my wide eyes fool you— I was trying to nap.


Milton is in the middle of the standing row. His super talented demonstrator, Aiya (<— not quite sure how to spell her name), is to my right in the bottom row. (Photo compliments of the executive director of my dance school.)

We quickly changed into normal-people clothes and walked over to Bocca di Bacco for a delicious Italian dinner. Some of our family members (seated at a different table) also joined us for dinner and the show.


Most of the company girls!

I was on the verge of being ravenous by the time we got there, so I was in the mood for a nice big bowl of pasta. I decided on the squid ink pasta (!) with crab meat, arugula, and tomatoes:


It looks scary, but it was very tasty and I left the restaurant FULL.

The final portion of our evening was the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performance! Like I said in my last post, these dancers are my absolute favorites. I seriously believe that they are some of THE most talented dancers in the world.



Intermission selfies.

It was a fabulous show, and I cannot recommend this dance company enough!

Saturday was a full day of snow, so everything was cancelled and I just chilled out at home until we went to church in the evening. I think we were going at the rate of a slug when we were driving there. The snow was that super fluffy, slippery kind that would be awesome for sledding. The good thing is that shoveling was a breeze since the snow was so light!


He thinks we’re on the beach or something.


I, on the other hand, was an Eskimo.

This kind of weather called for some hot chili and cornbread! I used Jenn’s recipe for fluffy cornbread muffins, and they were de.lish.



I had a wimpy bowl of chili because I was too full from cornbread muffins. Being the baker and getting to eat them fresh from the oven is a blessing and a curse.

Despite snacking on cornbread muffins all evening, I guess I wanted more muffin action because I decided to whip up some banana nut muffins. While I baked those, we popped in Baby’s Day Out for a family movie night.


These were so gooooood. A little crispy on the outside, crunchy from the walnuts, hearty from the whole wheat, and just sweet enough.


Creepin’ as we watched the movie. They looked at me after I took this picture and I tried to pretend nothing happened.

Sunday was also a laid-back day because it was icy outside and Sunday school was cancelled. I finished up some homework, did a couple workouts from PurelyTwins (I LOVE their workouts— short and sweet and perfect for when you’re staying at home!), and went to H-Mart and Trader Joe’s with dad to pick up some goodies for dinner and dessert. There were way too many ‘and’s in that previous sentence. Sorry to all my elementary school teachers.

Pinterest did its job yesterday because I spotted a picture of monkey bread, showed it to my mom, and then she and I got the urge to eat it. So I made some. It was healthy monkey bread though! We also had fajitas, which I think were my dad’s idea.



Trader Giotto and Trader José. I just love how Trader Joe has different names.


Pork fajitas hit the spot.


Monkey bread was oh so good even though I failed at taking it out of the pan in one piece.

I’m also revisiting the Slow Down Challenge because I think the root of my insomnia/anxiety is that I worry way too much about what I need to do and what I expect of myself (like, “I need to be ready and energetic for school, dance, etc.). I can sleep well on the weekends, but as soon as I start thinking about the week and what is upcoming, I put unnecessary pressure on myself to be in total control, which makes me nervous and tense, especially when trying to fall asleep. Knowing this will hopefully be helpful for me to patiently and prayerfully address the problem. Thank you all a million times over for your prayers and suggestions 🙂

Have a marvelous Monday!

So tell me: Did it snow where you live? Have you ever seen/heard of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater? What was the last thing you baked? Do you like monkey bread?



Increasing Thankfulness for Family

Parent: “Hey, Alison! How was your day?”  {Good! *Move on to more work*}

Parent: “Do you need me to help you with anything?” {No, I’m fine, thanks. *Kinda wish to be left alone*}

Maybe it’s just because I’m a teenager (the age-old excuse), but I find myself subtly brushing off my parents at times. Perhaps I’m engaged in homework or blogging, or perhaps I’m tired from a long day. Whatever the case, day after day, my mom and dad (and brother) offer nothing but assistance, warmth, care, and concern, even if I give nothing but a short greeting in return. It’s easy to take advantage of family since they are with you 24/7. It’s even easier to take advantage of having a loving family at all.



Right in my community, among my friends, among my relatives even, there are broken families. The close bond that exists among the members of dance company has allowed me to see the not-so-sparkly realities of the families of some of my closest friends. Reading my peers’ college essays and discovering their raw, personal stories has also been an eye-opener.

There is separation. Ignorance. Fear. Cruel words. Betrayal.

None of these things should ever be associated with family, but for some unfortunately, they are. God has been so gracious as to give me a family that is joyful, helpful, loving, and faithful. I realize that the things about my family that can annoy me on my irritable days–their extra cheeriness, their desire to converse with me, their extra hugs and kisses–are the exact things for which other people yearn. Some people can’t relate to phrases such as “like a mother’s touch” or “father-son bonding time,” and it breaks my heart. It’s upsetting, but without the reminder that a loving family is not a given, I would be caught up in the bubble of what I’ve always known.



I believe that there are little things that can make the most profound changes in family relationships. Some simple ways to help slow down your time with family:

  • Sitting down to eat dinner with them
  • Saying good night
  • Big hugs
  • Family walks
  • Talking about your day with them
  • Doing something kind and unexpected for them, even if they never end up noticing
  • Saying please and thank you
  • Smiling to one another and making eye contact



And let us end this with a prayer 🙂

Help me, Lord, to be more patient with my family. To embrace even the most insignificant moments with them. To serve them and let them know that I love them. Amen.

So tell me: Just share any thoughts you have!


An Update and The Slow Down Challenge


The first week of school has been fun, tiring (I’m talking to you, insomnia), and busy. I’m so thankful for all of it though. I can already tell that blogging and blog-reading will not be happening quite as much, but I do love posting for things like MIMM and WIAW, so I’ll try to do those as much as possible along with other super-duper posts! 🙂

So I told you that I would do a little Slow Down Challenge recap! As I’ve said before, I found the Slow Down Challenge through Lindsay at Cotter Crunch. I can be an uptight, go-go-go kinda person (probably the reason for my insomnia…), so Jeff Goins’ challenge definitely intrigued me as he explained how we need to “stop and smell the roses” more often. I truly think that following the simple, 5-day challenge has helped me to be more aware and thankful for the very little things in life. Cliche, I know, but it’s not often that I can genuinely say that. It helped me to be more at peace. There are no intricate steps in this challenge, so you don’t have to worry about digging holes in your yard to find the meaning of life or anything. I especially loved that I could incorporate my faith into this challenge.

You can sign up on Jeff Goins’ post about the challenge, and you will get email updates each day starting the day you sign up. Here is what the challenge looked like:


Some content from the email:

“Life is not a race. It’s a walk around the block, a casual stroll through the park, a deep abiding in where you are right now.”


A few things I noticed:

  • The peace of eating breakfast with the sun peering through the kitchen.
  • The sizzling of food in the pan.
  • Dad lookin’ spiffy for an interview. So proud of him.


I liked making that little extra effort to let the blessings in my life sink in. Breakfast is one of my favorite meals of the day, and it’s always nice to embrace the peace of the morning. Hearing the sizzling of food in the pan brings me comfort and gratitude that I have home-cooked meals to eat. Finally, seeing my dad walk out the door with his suit and tie (Justin Timberlake) fills my heart with pride and admiration.


Some content from the email:

“Our lives become nothing more than constant task lists, which cause us to move from one thing to the next without really enjoying any of it. But what is the point of a life like that?”


Some things I savored:



Man oh man did I savor that Whole Grain Pizza Quiche. Like I said, it took me nearly an hour to finish that little thing, and I loved every nibble of it. I really did feel 100x more satisfied at the end. I tend to eat pretty fast, so this was a nice change of pace, and I definitely want to savor my food more often. Even savoring seemingly trivial moments in life helps change your perspective for the better. It puts things in slow motion so that you can appreciate every aspect of what you’re doing.


Some content from the email:

“When you try to do more, you accomplish less. When you multitask, you’re not only communicating a priority; you’re diluting your focus. As Confucius once said,

Man who chases two rabbits catches neither.’

There is a cost to our constant productivity. When we try to do too many things, we end up doing them poorly.”


Some things I focused on:

  • Eating breakfast outside on the perfect September morning without Food Network or blogging.
  • Writing my college essays.

I was sooo tempted to keep Food Network on while I was eating my breakfast, but I forced myself to just go outside in the fresh air to enjoy my hot bowl of oatmeal. Oh my goodness. I could not have been happier with that decision because the minimal distractions not only helped me to FOCUS, but they also allowed me to NOTICE and SAVOR. Three in one, eh? Also, doing work without distractions is much easier said than done especially if your work is done on the computer. Talk about self-control!


Some content from the email:

“We need to learn to fall in love with the whole process of life, not just a particular event.”

“Why do we need to surrender to these moments that frustrate us to no end? Because:

  • They teach us to let go of control.
  • They remind us life is not just about “me.”
  • They help us become more patient.”


Some things that I let interrupt me:

  • Two younger boys (our neighbors) who wanted to play with Ben and me
  • My little cousin in California who read and talked to me over FaceTime while I was doing some work



I love children. I’ve been called “mother” many times by my friends, brother, and even my dad since I’m that kind of person who shows motherly concern all the time. Like nearly everyone else though, I don’t always appreciate being interrupted by children. However, Jesus himself said that we must be like children in order to enter the Kingdom. Playing with the neighbors may have made delayed me from eating dinner and slightly over-bake my banana muffins, but I had a fun time with them. Same goes with my cousin. She did a wonderful job reading many of her books to me, and was understanding when I told her I was listening even though I may not have been looking at her. They all give me a good laugh too 🙂


Some content from the email:

“Say ‘thank you.’ Don’t just think it or tell it to yourself. Actually speak the words — and mean them.

Be grateful for the moments that slow you down, the ones that cause you to take your time. Use these opportunities to appreciate what you already have and tend to miss.”


Some things I was (and am) grateful for:

  • My family
  • Breakfast (recurring theme…)
  • A beautiful day
  • Seeing friends
  • A good first day of school

I’m going to be honest–this week was rough because of my insomnia. My family and friends have been nothing but loving and supportive though, and that nearly erases the misery of my exhaustion. Offering up my suffering for those who are in greater pain than me also helps to make it more bearable. I’ve also tried looking at how good my school days have been despite my tiredness, because they really have been great. It’s also fun to see my friends every day again 🙂

So there ya have it! This was my experience during the Slow Down Challenge. I absolutely loved it and would recommend that anyone and everyone try it. I hope that it helps to open your eyes and slow you down like it did for me. For me, it was a prayerful experience, but even if you’re not religious (heck, you could be atheist), this could help you zone into the little things that truly make you happy in your life. I find myself going back to these five things daily now, and I’ll probably do this challenge formally again. I’m subscribed to Jeff Goins’ blog now and his In-Between Book has more about slowing down if you’re interested too!

Have a lovely Sunday!

So tell me: Would you try the Slow Down Challenge? What is one thing that you’re grateful for today?


10-15-20 Workout {MIMM #4}

Well hello there, Monday! I see you have brought me school today…

Yep, today is my last first day of high school. Wahoo! I’m kind of excited. I mean, I could complain about the whole shebang, but let’s find some marvelous in our Monday, eh? Head on over to Katie’s blog to stuff your hearts with more marvelousness!


Marvelous is…

The first day of teaching Sunday school this year! I’ve been a third grade teacher of religious education at my church for the past two years, and it has been a learning experience for all. I honestly learn as much from my students as they do from me. The first day wen quite smoothly! This year I have TWENTY-TWO students! Gahhh. It’s gonna be interesting. Thankfully, I have a wonderful assistant, and together we’re gonna make the class super duper fantabulous. With God’s help of course. 🙂

Marvelous is…

Not having rabid Chobani. Sorry to those who were less fortunate, like Katie. Foaming yogurt–yummay.

I bought five new-to-me flavors of Chobani not too soon before some of their products were recalled, but I’ve finished all five (delicious) cups, and I am alive.


Marvelous is…

The #slowdownchallenge. It is really awesome. Recap to come!

And to be quite honest, I have sorta fallen off the #100challenge wagon…I do different exercises at different times of the day, and I’m just really inefficient at counting the reps. I still do about 50-100 of the squats and pushups, but for some reason the situps (butterfly-style) just take more time for me so I don’t end up doing as many. Ahh well… Maybe I should just take one challenge at a time.

Marvelous is…

Chatting Obsessing about pumpkin recipes with my girl Lilly.

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Marvelous is…

Sunday Food Prep inspired by Lindsay at the Lean Green Bean and all the bloggers that share their preparations! I will definitely need to be doing this every weekend from here on out so that I don’t go crazy during the week trying to make lunch and snacks in a pinch.


Turkey, cheese, herb, spinach sandwiches and caprese salad.


Banana muffins adapted from 100 Days of Real Food’s recipe!

Marvelous is…

Sweating it out!

On Saturday I did Lori and Michelle’s quick 16 minute workout at home, and on Sunday I went to the gym for 20 minutes on the elliptical and Julie’s 30 minute circuit workout. They were both great workouts, despite their difference in length and type!

On Friday, I made up my own circuit workout that incorporates strength and cardio exercises back to back. This is by far my favorite way to workout! It was challenging and I was dripping in sweat by the end.


A lot of these exercises may not sound so familiar, so here are the demos:

Burpee with tuck jump

Triple pulse squats (pulse three times and then come up for 1 rep)

Med ball pulls 

Lunge hops (try not to lean forward quite as much as the demonstrator)


T Squat Thrusts

Spiderman planks

Split jack lunges

Plank jack pushups

Strict mountain climbers (right+left= 1 rep)

180 squat jumps

This took me about 35 minutes to complete. I had to take some breaks with those T squat thrusts. Burnin’ quads and lungs. Have fun (hardy har har), and let me know if you try it out!

Happy Monday, and have a fantastic school year everyone!

So tell me: What did you do this weekend? Is your Chobani foaming? Are you excited for pumpkin?! (<–I didn’t even need to ask that.)

Things I Tried and Loved This Week

Well. Today officially marks the end of the last week of my summer break. Like I said before, I’m actually a lucky duck, since some of my friends started school this week. The thing is, that only equated to two days for the first week of school for some people and only one day for others (due to Labor Day and Rosh Hashanah). Like, what’s the point? I guess they’ll just have one or two fewer days of school come June when I’ll really just want to get out of high school and get my diploma 😉

In order to fully take advantage of my last week of summer, I decided to try some new things that I may or may not be able to do once school starts. Some foods, fitness things, and reflection things!

Slow Down Challenge

I mentioned this in my Fascinating Friday Links yesterday and you’ve probably seen #slowdownchallenge on my Instagram or Twitter if you follow. I first came across the challenge on Lindsay’s (at Cotter Crunch) blog, and I was immediately interested. I’m the kind of person that tries to go a mile a minute in order to get things done or get to things that I think are more exciting (like reading blogs instead of doing AP Bio…….). I rush when I’m eating sometimes, which ain’t good for my belly or my ability to appreciate the food. Thus, Jeff Goin’s challenge seemed like the perfect opportunity to just “stop and smell the roses.” It’s certainly called a challenge for a reason, but I’m on day 3 and already appreciating the effects. I’ll do a more in-depth recap in another post. Definitely check it out and see if it’s something from which you might benefit!

New Workouts and the 100 Challenge

I tried this burpee workout from Bonnie Lang on Wednesday! Yayforburpees. Muahaha.


Click on the image to see Bonnie demonstrate the variations!

Also mentioned in my links yesterday was Jess’ #100challenge, to which I’ve surprisingly been committed these past few days. For 21 days, you’re supposed to do 100 squats, 100 pushups, and 100 situps every day. Gets the body movin’ and groovin’ so I’m all for it. I kind of procrastinated last night though and did 30 pushups and 30 situps right before bed. Oy.

I also came up with a doozie of a workout yesterday. Sometimes I think I’m some sort of buff Crossfitter and make a workout with a bunch of hard exercises one after the other. Then I try it, think I’m gonna die, and modify it. I’ll share it on Monday!

The Fitnessista’s Cookie Dough Cereal

I FINALLY tried Gina’s famous recipe after seeing so many bloggers rave about it (especially Ashley :)). And since I’m such a mainstreamer, I had to. It was quite delightful!

DSC_5987 DSC_5988

Topped with banana and peach. Yum 🙂

Original Wheat Thins with Cowboy Caviar

I just tried this out on a whim, and it was good. The sweetness of the Wheat Thin perfectly complimented the sweet, yet hearty flavor of the Cowboy Caviar, which is less spicy than the TJs version, but still tasty!


Blood Orange Chobani

I know, I know, some Chobani products have been re-called, but I’ve been eating these all week and I’m still as happy as a clam. Maybe I’m just lucky. But don’t worry, I wouldn’t eat them if I noticed a funky flava. Like the lemon flavor, I was skeptical about blood orange, but it is tangy and sweet in the best way!


Kylie’s Whole Wheat Deep Dish Pizza Quiche

If you’ve visited my blogroll, you might know that I think all Kylie’s recipes are genius, but I’ve never actually gotten around to making ONE. So today was the day when I saw this recipe, and knew I had all the ingredients. I made it for dinner, and even though I ate about a half hour after the rest of my family (I need to work on my timing for making dinner), it was more than worth it.


Mine is obviously a lot uglier than hers, so if you want to see it in all its true glory, I urge you to check out her page. As you can see, mine even got a little pool of mozzarella water on top since I used fresh mozzarella. But that was discarded and did not affect the utter deliciousness of this baby at all. In honor of the #slowdownchallenge, I savored every single little bite. It took me almost an hour to finish it! What a happy hour it was. I tweeted about this before I made it, I tweeted/Instagrammed it after I made it, and I even emailed Kylie about how much I LOVE the crust. She’s probably a little creeped out.

Baked Salmon with Lime-Dill Yogurt Sauce

Still amazed that my kitchen-clutzy hands made this. Even more amazed that my family loved it (they didn’t just eat it out of sympathy…)! 😉


That’s some of the good stuff that’s been going on here! Starting Monday, clogging blogging will probably be on the back burner as I drown in college applications, homework, dance, and everything in between. I’m kinda bummed because I finally feel like I’ve gotten into a groove with blogging, but I hope to still post at least twice a week. We shall see if that holds up. I am excited that this is SENIOR YEAR of high school though! Woop woop.

So tell me: Did you try anything new this week that you loved? Would you try any of the things above?