Stuffing and More Stuff of Life

The onslaught of Christmas music around every corner is approaching and I am not mentally/emotionally prepared.

Two months has passed since my last blog post, and boy have those two months been PACKED with… STUFF.

Also packed with STUFF is my belly right now after a delicious Thanksgiving feast. Happy belated Thanksgiving 🙂

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This was probably one of my favorite Thanksgiving meals in a while. It’s going to sound really inflated of me, but I cooked 90% of the food. It was cathartic for me to be cooking all day though, and Madre took care of the turkey, which turned out PERFECTLY (unlike last year when we undercooked it ha). My brother’s girlfriend also made delicious crostini w/ a balsamic reduction and burrata, as well as Thai tea (!) pumpkin pie. My contributions included stuffing, mac and cheese, roasted brussels sprouts, roasted potatoes, cornbread, cranberry sauce, and apple pie. I don’t mind domesticity at all; I was thriving.

HOWEVER, my apple pie bubbled over in the oven, so the juices to start burning pretty badly at the bottom of the oven, causing the smoke alarm to go off in the middle of dinner…. We needed the excitement (running around, opening doors, fanning the alarm) to facilitate digestion…is my excuse.

The food was great (and I didn’t feel terribly stuffed, which was good because I definitely felt stuffed after the two Friendsgiving dinners I had this past weekend), but of course the gift of family was the best. We went to Mass together in the morning to worship the God deserving of all thanksgiving, and then Ben and I even got in a fun workout at a gym that my high school friend owns!

Ben and Pop also played some Christmas tunes on the piano/clarinet together between dinner and dessert, which was so sweet.

To combine a life update and a Thanksgiving post, here are just some of the many things for which I am grateful from these past two months.

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The last thing I told you in my previous blog post was that I was going hiking in Maine with friends, and that was a glorious weekend. A bunch of us drove up from Boston and stayed at our friend Connor’s place, where hospitality abounds. His family is so warm and fun, and his mom makes some KILLER lasagna, banana bread, egg casserole, and pumpkin bread (she also has a beautiful singing voice, yeesh). The main event of the weekend was hiking up and down Mt. Washington, which was a sufficiently challenging hike. It started off as a pretty sweaty hike (tank top conditions), but with elevation came high winds and frigid temperatures (hat and heavy coat conditions).

We also went to the famous Fryeburg Fair on Sunday for Mass and all the fried food you could ever think of. My face was sweating bloomin’ onion oils.

Grateful for: nature; autumn leaves in the northeast; breathing hard in the fresh air; prayerful, joyful, loving, and hilarious friends (and their families!); fun fried foods.

PT school has been quite enjoyable this semester! One of my favorite aspects is that our neurological systems lab allows us to work with patients who have actually had a stroke (rather than just practicing on healthy, young peers), which makes the experience so much more realistic and meaningful.

Grateful for: education; an increase in knowledge and understanding of the human body AND the human person; friends who support both my mind and my spirit through the PT school process; academic failures and successes.

My best friend Rachel and (her now husband) Austin got MARRIED. I had the honor of being the maid of honor, and it was one of the best days of MY life. Of course, I’ve always thought marriage is beautiful, and family life is one of the best reflections of God’s Love active in the world. However, a wedding has never made these truths penetrate my heart so deeply until Rachel and Austin’s wedding. Maybe it’s because I know their relationship from the inside pretty much, but I was m o v e d by their Sacrament of Marriage. Ugh, I can’t really articulate it fully, but it was so good. Rachel and Austin were beaming all day.

The wedding reception was also LIT. I love wedding dancing, as some of you might know, and it’s even better when it’s with your best friends who ALSO love dancing. If you could find me “in my element,” it would be on the dance floor at a wedding reception.

Grateful for: the Sacrament of Marriage; Rachel and Austin; holy friends; the triumph of joy despite trials; wedding dancing.

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There have been a lot of tears (what’s new though??) of every kind. But if I could boil all the tears down…it would be salt. No just kidding. If I could boil all the tears down into one common theme, it would be that the Lord is making all things new (Rev 21:5). I have cried a lot because of emotional pain. In these cases, I have repeated daily that the Lord is, in each moment of pain, making all things new — better, more beautiful, more good than I could plan or do on my own.

I have also cried tears of joy and deep gratitude, because He shows me that things are indeed made new. There have been certain relationships and struggles (either my own or those of my loved ones) in this past year that have seemed to crush my insides, but as long as those are all laid at the foot of the Cross for love of what is good, the Lord has shown that He can and will make those relationships and struggles new — somehow better than they could have been if the pain never occurred. It’s a continuous process of pain and beauty though; it never stops. And sometimes He chooses not to show us what exactly it is He is doing, but I am learning that this is what life is. HE KEEPS YA ON YOUR TOES.

Grateful for: pain that turns into growth; newness; knowing that life will never be void of pain and struggle, but that does not mean it will void of joy.

That’s a wrap for now! As always, thank YOU for reading along despite the spottiness of my blog posts in this season of life. Thanks to mom, dad, and my brother as always 🙂 And THANK YOU, GOOD LORD, FOR THIS LIFE.

“…In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

– 1 Thess 5:18

So tell me:

One thing you’re grateful for, based on a recent experience?

If you celebrated Thanksgiving here in America yesterday, what did ya eeeeat? 

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A Deep Breath of Gratitude

I could C R Y.

It’s been oh so long, friends. Posting this blog post (after a 2+ month hiatus) feels like a huge virtual hug to any person out there who is reading this right now.

This semester has been a wild ride. Graduate school (+ life / growth / relationships) has proven to be quite different and much more challenging than I could have expected, but c’est la vie, eh?

But in the spirit of {American} Thanksgiving tomorrow, I thought this would be a fine time to take a hot minute to breathe and show gratitude for the things of life — the happy, the hurt, and every detail in between.

This semester…

I’ve experienced profound friendships.

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I’ve studied more than I ever have, but at the same time earned the most humbling and disappointing grades in my college career.

I’ve eaten some good-for-the-soul food.

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I’ve doubted my ability to become a competent physical therapist several times.

I’ve been ceaselessly encouraged by friends, family, and God to keep on keeping on.

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I’ve seen blue skies, gray skies, purple skies, and orange skies.

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I’ve had fun nights filled with line dancing, cheers-ing, and singing at the top of my lungs.

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I’ve had nights that didn’t seem to end even when the sun rose.

I’ve seen friends, family and strangers with even longer nights of the soul than I could imagine.

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I’ve made myself some wholesome foods.

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I’ve made myself think I’m eating wholesome foods.

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I’ve felt hurt in ways that I’ve never felt before.

But I’ve felt joy and the feeling of being cared for in ways that I’ve never felt before.

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I’ve seen what it means to be among beautiful women of God, who love to the very end.

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I’ve hurt others in ways I never intended but still wish I never did.

I’ve had to humble myself and apologize for my wrongdoings, which happen more times than I can count.

I’ve accomplished things in mind, soul, and body through God’s grace, and I’ve seen others do even more.

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I’ve seen tears of sadness, tears of guilt, tears of anger, and tears of joy.

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I’ve cried until I didn’t know why I was crying, and I’ve smiled until I didn’t know why I was smiling.

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I’ve dropped the ball in some friendships and allowed others to help me pick it up.

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I’ve seen God in every single day, in all of these things which remind me that, although we are dying, we are living all the more. I am beyond thankful for every person and every motion of the heart that has made this semester, this year, this LIFE… something beautiful.

God is good. All the time.

p.s. if you want to read something nourishing for the soul, please do yourself a favor and check out my friend Kelsey’s blog – she writes about beauty and about humanity so eloquently it hurts.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I am grateful for you.

First Friendsgiving

GUYS, I HAD AN AMAZING DATE THIS WEEKEND.

Actually, I had many dates!

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🙂

I didn’t fall in love with an Irish boy, but I did fall in love with these luxurious Medjool dates that a patient brought into work last week. What have I been doing without these things my whole life!? They taste like caramel and maple syrup!!!

My supervisor at work told me to take the box home on Thursday, since they knew I had a big Thanksgiving feast that night where I could share the bounty of dates.

How was your Thanksgiving, American friends? I don’t feel like it happened, since it’s not celebrated here in Ireland, and this weekend was the first time I really missed New York. My family mom was sending me lots of photos of the Macy’s Parade and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which tugged at my heart a little bit. New York is the BEST place during the holidays!

But my friends and I here got down with the holiday spirit here in Dublin too! Two lovely ladies in our program took it upon themselves to organize an epic Friendsgiving on Thursday night, and the event totally surpassed everyone’s expectations.

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all out with the decor and table settings!

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the masters behind the night: Edna and Becca

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In true Thanksgiving fashion, there was so much food. Edna and Becca cooked a lot of it, others contributed more dishes, and the rest made monetary contributions. It worked out quite well! I contributed sausage and apple stuffing (my favorite Thanksgiving food) using this recipe.

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The only thing that put a damper on my night was that I was not hungry AT. ALL. My stomach had been in a funk in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, so as much as I wanted to eat all the delicious food, I had zero desire to put anything into my stomach. Fortunately, though, the night proceeded very slowly, so I had time to slowly digest appetizers…

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…before the main course. By then it was only a little bit uncomfortable to eat, so I got to try a good number of dishes!

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turkey (possibly pork though?) with sausage and veggies + cranberry sauce + brussels sprouts galore + stuffing + goat cheese pomegranate salad + roasted carrots + butternut squash + mac and cheese + mashed potatoes + mashed sweet potatoes

I nearly cleared that plate. #Perseverance. Everything was delicious.

There was also an immense dessert selection, so I told myself: “Choose wisely. You have limited space even in your dessert stomach.”

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apple pie a la mode + cake (that our program director bought for us!)

Sufficiently stuffed.

Even better than the food, though, was the company. I am beyond grateful for the wonderful people in my study abroad program. They are all gems.

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last four photos compliments of my friend, Cassandra

Thank you to everyone who made the night a complete success!

The rest of my weekend largely involved reading Harry Potter, watching Harry Potter, working on an essay, and eating leftovers. Megan and I are on the fourth HP book, and we are falling in love with the wizarding world more and more.

(Side note: I took the sorting quiz again, and I’m actually a Hufflepuff. I don’t know how I feel about it. I was starting to embrace Slytherin.)

I have all this leftover celery from my stuffing, and since I don’t love celery by itself, I tried ants on a log.

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I don’t really get it. It’s like…why would you ruin peanut butter with celery?

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leftover pork and apple sausage + caramelized onions with sage and thyme (I have way too many herbs left over) over spinach

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the best leftovers

Megan and I made some new food yesterday too — pancakes! We used this recipe and finished the whole batch between the two of us. “Four servings” is a suggestion, right?

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banana pancakes for me, chocolate chip for Megan

As always, I ate my pancakes with plain yogurt, peanut butter and maple syrup.

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Me: “Don’t judge me for this weird thing I’m about to do.” *puts yogurt and peanut butter on pancakes*

Megan: “It’s just not my ideal pancake, but I respect that. Peanut butter isn’t weird. The yogurt is a little weird. But as long as you enjoy it.”

Thanks, girl!

Our plethora of pancakes was breakfast and lunch. At night, we ate more carbs in the form of pizza at Independent Pizza Company.

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mozzarella, parma ham, arugula, tomatoes, and parmesan — perfection

And now I have pizza leftovers for dinner tonight 🙂

Moves and grooves have been a little less intense recently because of my mild bursitis, but I’m still doing some fun HIIT with lower impact exercises. I miss all the walking I normally do around town, but now I get to focus on stretching, which I have not been doing enough this whole semester. I’m paying for it now.

Hope you all have a great start to the week! I thank God for you ♥︎

So tell me:

Your three favorite things about this Thanksgiving weekend if you celebrated!

Do you like Medjool dates? 

One thing you’re excited for today. Less than three weeks before we go back to the States, WHAT!? (Not that I haven’t been loving it here, but I’m excited to go home too.)

I’m Okay With That {Take 2}

IT’S CRUNCH TIME.

Crunchy roasted corn kernels, that is.

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oh my goodness someone teach me how to roast giant corn kernels like this

No but seriously, it’s crunch time because there are only two more weeks of class left before finals. What what what. However, the rest of my Thanksgiving weekend went swimmingly— I procrastinated school work with family and friend time, and I’m okay with that.

There are many other things that happened over Thanksgiving break that could have frustrated me (and would have frustrated or upset me in the past), but I realized that I’m okay with some spontaneous, surprising, and sub-par moments in my life. So here is take two of “I’m okay with that.”

Ben and I were on a mission to find the best carrot cake in New York City, so we stopped by Lloyd’s Carrot Cake (self-proclaimed best carrot cake in NYC) for a couple slices.

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no cake in the case but look in the back— CAKE EVERYWHERE

We bought them on our way to our family dinner and ate a bite while the cake was still fresh and warm. We had dessert before dinner, and I’m okay with that. Especially since this carrot cake blew my socks off! Dense, just enough frosting, luscious, and not dry at all (I would say the “m” word, but so many people don’t like that word, so you’re welcome).

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with nuts and raisins is the only way to go

After accomplishing our carrot cake mission, we ate at a restaurant called Inti (thanks to Groupon, haha). Unfortunately, the ceviche was overly salty, and my shrimp entree was unexpectedly drenched in a heavy cream sauce, but I’m okay with that. The food was tasty and it was wonderful to be sharing a meal with my family. Salt and cream don’t need to ruin that. (Also, the roasted corn kernels above were an amazing amuse bouche.)

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We walked for a little bit to find a place called Bibble & Sip, which is a cute coffee shop that my mom suggested because she wanted green tea latte art. (They didn’t do a bear like she wanted, but whatcha gonna do?)

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I shared some with her and loved how frothy and creamy it was. I consumed more cream from this latte after my creamy dinner (and then more cake when we got back to the car), and I’m okay with that. I ate and drank what I wanted, and ended the night feeling very satisfied.

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I learned that I can no longer do a single pull-up, whereas in the summer, I could do up to three full pull-ups. It was humbling attempting to do them again, but I’m okay with that because I’ve been working on other skills like handstands and pushups in college, and I know I’ve gained weight for the better.

I also learned that I’m not that much lighter than my older brother (probably why I can’t do a pull-up anymore!). I’m okay with that, because weight is literally just a number. I feel energetic and strong, so as far as I’m concerned, this weight is working well for me.

I spent Saturday night watching Maze Runner and having deep chat with my friends when I could have been doing work or yoga or laundry. I’m okay with that because quality time with friends is not a waste in my eyes (and I had a good gauge of the work I still needed to do).

I RAN yesterday.

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I ran 5K at 9:44 pace, which is not fast at all, but I’m okay with that because I RAN and it was beautiful outside and I RAN. For the first time in, like, eight months!? I didn’t hate it.

I didn’t really catch up on sleep over Thanksgiving break, but I’m okay with that. I got enough, and I did not want to let my time with family and friends slip away!

I’ve eaten a lot of sugar in the past week, but I’m okay with that because apple pie a la mode, pomegranate seeds, bananas, Lloyd’s carrot cake, and Arman’s no bake balls are just too good.


It feels nice to be okay with things. A little less stress, ya know?

I’m not saying that these things don’t bother me at all (if they didn’t bother me even a minuscule amount, I probably would not write about them in the first place), but I am saying that these things do not need to affect me.

Alrighty. Happy Monday and Happy Advent, friends! Go listen to some beautiful music that makes you smile or happy cry.

So tell me:

What is your favorite kind of cake?

What is one thing you used to be able to do that you cannot do anymore?

What is one thing you can do now that you could not do before? 

Quiet and Cozy Thanksgiving

I’m such a procrastinator.

But that’s not news, right? I have yet to do any significant studying for my two exams or any additional preparation for my seven-page paper due next week. I’m telling myself that something WILL get done today.

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. –Mark Twain

^^^It’s so harddddddd.

Instead of complaining any further though, I should embrace the attitude of gratitude. ‘Tis the season! It has been a relaxing and lovely two days spent with my family so far, but I started off my holiday break in Boston with a breakfast date!

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My dear friend Emma invited me to her apartment to make some FlapJacked pancakes (that I still had from BLEND!) and eggs. We finished all the pancakes and were pretty embarrassed when her apartment-mate asked if there were any left. #shame.

I arrived home with mom late Tuesday night, and since then I’ve been eating, hangin’ with my family, and procrastinating catching up on social media. Because I’m never on social media during school…

Wednesday involved eating, clothes shopping, grocery shopping, eating sushi, cooking, eating, gym, and eating.

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Kylie’s simple paleo pancake (SO FREAKING FLUFFY!) with copious amounts of peanut butter and pomegranate seeds + glass o’ milk

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late sushi lunch with mom mid-shopping

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gym with Pop

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homemade crab cakes! + plain Greek yogurt + sriracha

Ben came home late that night, so I stayed up late chatting with him. My eyes were nearly glued shut getting up for church the next morning, but it was worth the QT with the bro.

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starting Thanksgiving Day thanking God from whom all things flow

After Mass, we headed home to get cookin’! I fueled myself with overnight oats in a jar before transforming into a wannabe Barefoot Contessa. I was in charge of all the side dishes, and I asked mom to be in charge of the turkey so that I wouldn’t overcook it again.

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my love — stuffing 

In addition to bread, we used some leftover buttery croissants for the stuffing. Go big, friends.

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best roasted sweet potatoes

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rosemary thyme roasted baby potatoes

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honey balsamic roasted brussels sprouts and string beans

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cornbread muffins

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da bird

We actually ended up undercooking the turkey at first, so it was a fiasco trying to cook the parts that were still raw while keeping the perfectly-cooked parts separate. You’d think we would have this down after 15+ years, but…guess not. Nevertheless, the turkey turned out delicious and juicy!

I also went on a nice walk with Dad at the park after I finished cooking. It was the perfect, brisk weather for a Thanksgiving walk.

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Then we came home with a hefty appetite and dug in!

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The stuffing, rosemary potatoes, and cornbread muffins were my favorite. I know you know the carbs are the best part.

Speaking of carbs. Best for last!

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apple pie a la mode

We finished at around 6pm, so the rest of the night involved watching Chopped, writing this post, and just appreciating the presence of family. (Imaginary audience: “AWWWWWWW.”)

I feel fortunate that each year, Thanksgiving becomes a lot easier, mentally speaking. This year, I didn’t feel nervous about the amount or density of food that would be available to me, and I think that is because I allow myself to eat heavy foods outside of holiday occasions. I was definitely stuffed by the end of the night, but it just felt like a bigger meal, which is probably a monthly/biweekly occurrence.

As Julia so beautifully wrote, we just need to be kind to ourselves. I didn’t finish every bite on my plate, and I didn’t have pie immediately after dinner with the rest of my family because I wanted to digest for an hour or so. I still ate a lot of delicious food, including pie, but I didn’t feel (self-imposed) pressure to eat or not to eat.

As for working out, I joined my dad when he went to the gym the night before, but I just did a fun strength workout without focusing on calorie burn. On Thanksgiving day, we walked. We went with the flow.

I did not get to this point overnight, so I implore you to not be discouraged if you still struggle with restrictive temptations or anxious feelings during the holidays. In fact, there are many non-holiday instances during which I still feel anxious over food. Recovery is always a work in progress, but every effort to combat disordered habits and thought processes is valuable.

Tonight we’re going out to NYC to eat more. Not before I get some work done though!!!

So tell me:

How did you spend {American} Thanksgiving?

Favorite food from the feast?

Three non-obvious/random/quirky things you’re thankful for! yoga pants, clean public bathrooms, and towels that absorb really well