My First Spa Day

All good things must come to an end!

That’s been our motto for the past couple of days as everyone staying at our Florida home has been going back to their real homes for work and school. Mom and I were the last two left, so we spent Saturday cleaning and packing up the house and all our belongings. Despite “closing up shop”, it’s been an awesome (and super long) vacation, so there is absolutely nothing to be sad about.

Friday

Especially when you end the vacation with a spa day! This was my first spa day since I’m eighteen years old now. All my little girl dreams came true.

Pre-spa breakfast was avocado toast with a dippy egg and a banana on the side.

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We went to the Ritz Carlton spa for the day (ooh la la, I know), and the staff was incredibly kind (like, sometimes I was uncomfortable with how nice they were). They even allowed my day at the spa to be free of charge since my mom and aunt were both paying for day passes and facials.

Four thumbs up for customer service (I’m counting my toe thumbs)!!

Our spa day started with moves at the fitness center. I ran for 20 minutes on the treadmill and then completed Hillary’s arm and ab superset workout with 10-20 burpees after each superset instead of kettlebell swings.

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Thanks for creeping on me during my workout, Madre 

I was feelin’ weeeeak by the end of my workout, so a nourishing lunch afterwards was just perfect.

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“Bento box” with seared ahi tuna, mixed greens, three bean salad, and farro salad

I savored every last bite of this plate since it was all so delicious and fresh. The price was also great for all this food (look at all that tuna)!

Following lunch, we showered in the snazzy spa showers, put on the classic white robes, and then chillaxed.

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You bet I had some of those yogurt pretzels

I attempted to go into the sauna, but I only stayed for 5 minutes because I felt like a baking cookie. And the steam room…lasted 5 seconds. I couldn’t see anything and I couldn’t breathe. Nuhthanks.

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The jacuzzi on the other hand…

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…yeah I could do that. I’m such a juvenile.

I spent my time in the jacuzzi for a bit, but I dried off and headed back to the empty studio in the fitness center to stretch while my mom and aunt were getting their faces lathered and massaged. I also kept snacking on the complimentary apples and snack mix, as well as the infused water. Alllllll the day. Strawberry-infused water was my favorite!

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I had a wonderful stretching session by my lonesome, and I even did a tiny bit of ballet at the barre. Oh how I miss it!

Is it sad that I was sore from stretching the next day? I guess I deprived my muscles of oxygen for a little too long during my deep stretches (after not having stretched in forever).

Eventually, our rejuvenating spa day came to an end. (Not that I really needed rejuvenation after a two-week vacation in Florida…) We later joined the dudes for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant.

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Rice vermicelli with grilled shrimp and abundant herbs and veggies

Then we went home for ice cream to balance out all the greens eaten throughout the day. 😉

Saturday

Florida was super chilly (by Florida standards), so hot oats hit the spot for breakfast!

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½ c. quick oats cooked in ½ c. water and ½ c. 2% milk // half a sliced banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, vanilla protein powder, pinch of salt stirred in // glob of peanut butter on top

As I mentioned at the top of this post, mom and I spent the day cleaning and packing while also dropping off family members at the airport for their respective flights. We did take a shopping break at TJMaxx in the late morning though!

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I’m season-confused. I got a sweater and three pairs of shorts, and I’m going back to single-digit temperatures in Boston. Spring will come soon enough, right?

A clean-out-the-fridge lunch was in order that afternoon: avocado toast with our last egg + practically half a box of spinach with tons of feta cheese. Plus an unpictured clementine and a million veggie straws aka one of the most addicting snacks out there.

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Oh my goodness, too many leaves in my stomach. But I enjoyed this simple lunch nonetheless!

After a long day of cleaning (and church in the evening), Madre offered to take me out to dinner at Seasons 52, a restaurant we had both been wanting to try for a while. I gratefully agreed!

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To start: grilled chicken pesto flatbread

The flatbread was to die for. Everything was packed with flavor but not too salty— a balance that is hard to come by!

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Mom’s order: pork tenderloin with sweet potato mash and roasted vegetables

She shared a good hunk of pork tenderloin with me, and mannnn was it delicious. I think I closed my eyes at one point as I savored the tender, flavorful piece of meat. Dishes like these prevent me from becoming a vegetarian.

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My order: “Winter Vegetable Tasting” that included citrus farro quinoa salad, a black bean & veggie soft taco, roasted golden beets, broccoli rabe, and grilled tofu with fruit salsa

There was not a thing on this plate that we didn’t enjoy! The citrus farro quinoa salad was our favorite though. We must re-create it at home!

I totally saved room for dessert, since we kept seeing waiters and waitresses walk around to other tables with plates of dessert shots.

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They brought out an assortment of mini desserts in shot glasses from which you could choose. If I remember correctly, they had: carrot cake, chocolate peanut butter mousse, pecan pie, s’mores, caramel macchiato, strawberry cannoli, key lime pie, blueberry lemon custard, and raspberry brownie.

Talk about tough life choices.

Without much hesitation, I chose the carrot cake, and mom chose the raspberry brownie. I ended up eating all of mine and most of hers. They were mini, so it’s a little more acceptable to eat 1.5 desserts, yes?

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Thanks for the fabulous dinner, Madre!

Sunday

Since we went to church on Saturday evening, mom and I got to sleep in before doing some last minute cleaning of the house.

I was also able to squeeze in some moves outside as it started to drizzle a bit: 5 minute jump rope warmup + Purely Twins’ crazy burpee leg workout (loved this!!!) + 8 minute ab tabata.

The ab tabata was 4 rounds of 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest of weighted Russian twists, modified V-ups, crossover knee to elbow planks, and spiderman planks.

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I washed that shirt before wearing it again, promise.

As always, a day of travel calls for overnight oats!

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Now we’re en route to New York, but this time we’re taking the auto train rather than road tripping like we did on our way down to Florida. There’s snow in the northeast and I’m not sure if our bodies are ready for the temperature shock.

I’ve obviously been spoiled silly on this vacation, but I am looking forward to school, schedules, and just feeling productive. Nevertheless, I am beyond thankful for the family time and amazing experiences we’ve had in Florida!

P.S. I used so many parentheses in this post. Sorry, I love asides apparently.

So tell me:

Have you ever had a spa day?

Have you ever gotten sore from stretching? Please say yes.

What is your favorite cold-weather food?

Which of the dessert shots would you choose?

University of Maryland Through iPhone

I’m slack-a-lackin’ on my posts aren’t I? I guess I have an excuse since I’m visiting colleges, but I still miss talking to you all!

Something I have ZERO excuses for? Accidentally eating meat yesterday (Friday during Lent). *Sigh* I realized it several hours after I ate it too. In addition to that, I ate peanut butter yesterday morning, which had been my other Friday sacrifice for Lent. Father, forgive me… #LentFailure

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Hotel breakfast: English muffin with coconut peanut butter and banana. 

I also ate some pistachios and half a mini blueberry bagel at the welcome of the UMD Admitted Students’ Day.

As I said in my last post, yesterday was the University of Maryland Admitted Students’ Open House. I have not decided to go there yet, but I can tell you that I still love it!

Reasons why I love it:

  • Cheapest out of my top three colleges
  • Fairly close to home
  • Huge, beautiful, clean campus
  • Huge campus=lots of walking=automatic exercise opportunity 😉
  • Diverse students
  • Energetic school spirit
  • Kinesiology program (I’m currently interested in becoming a physical therapist)
  • Awesome recreation/fitness center
  • Active and supportive Catholic center
  • I would be a part of the Honors college
  • Research and study abroad opportunities (I can fulfill all my Kinesiology credits if I study abroad in Australia, Arman!!)
  • I feel comfortable here

Cue the iPhone photos of our visit!

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The Welcome.

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I should wear these for college gear day at school.

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Testudo the mascot!

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Lunch at a food court on campus. Chicken (*facepalm*) platter from a kabob place. It was very tasty! But I feel guilty.

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Hot day called for fro yo, even though I didn’t deserve it. (I know— so dramatic and scrupulous I am.) For the flavors, I got peanut butter (just slap me now), strawberry banana, and blueberry muffin (<— ehhh) with mango, blueberries, and Cap’n Crunch. 

Moves

  • walking around UMD’s huge campus
  • random stuff at the hotel fitness center: 5 minute run, push up variations, triceps dips, low rows, 8 minute ab tabata (weighted Russian twists, cross knee tuck planks, ankle taps, spiderman planks)

Dinner was at a vegan place though! It’s called OVO Simply Veggie, and it was awesome.

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Refreshing and crunchy daikon salad that came with mom’s meal

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Vegan wonton soup that came with my meal (it tasted just like meat wontons!)

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Mom’s entree: mushroom protein with coconut green curry sauce and brown rice. The mushroom protein was actually the BOMB.

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My entree: Tofu with eggplant basil sauce and brown rice. Delicious as well!

This was my first time to a vegan restaurant and I was a fan, as you can tell. All thanks to Yelp! I even wrote a raving review for this place— that’s how you know it was good. I brought leftovers back to the hotel, and I’m thinking of having them as breakfast this morning. That’s right— I’m going to eat savory dinner food for breakfast (as if I can make up for my Lenten failures).

Today we’re driving down about 2.5 hours to Charlottesville, because the next open house is at University of Virginia! I honestly have no good or bad expectations from the school since I visited it over a year ago, so I don’t have many distinct perceptions of it yet. I do know that it’s an awesome school and it’s in a foodie/blogger town, which is pretty cool if you ask me 😉 A lot of people have told me that they see me at UVA and that my personality fits there. We shall see what happens!

So tell me:

Have you ever accidentally eaten meat on Friday (if you observe Lent)?

What is your favorite vegan protein? Have you ever tried mushroom protein before?

How do you find good restaurants in unfamiliar places?

 

I Have Awesome Friends

It’s official.

I, Alison, can live off of Greek yogurt. I had it in every meal and snack (except lunch) yesterday, and I wasn’t even trying.

Breakfast:

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Finishing off one container with bananas, chia, hemp, cinnamon, nutmeg, apple banana muffin, and pb

Snack:

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With bananas, cinnamon, nutmeg, stevia, and almond butter

Dinner was another one of these awesome tacos, which I topped with Greek yogurt again. Dessert was dried figs and Greek yogurt (duh).

If I am what I eat, I should be turning into a bowl of white, tangy, high-protein yogurt any day now. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was wearing bananas and nut butter too.

Moves

Yesterday’s moves consisted of a ten minute incline walk (hello, burning shins and calves) followed by some lower body exercises. The usual:

  • 12-10-10 pistol squats each leg (those 12….oof) + 20 Bulgarian split squats each leg
  • 20 hamstring ball roll ins + 20 light and slow KB swings
  • wall sit
  • 20 lunge pulses each leg

Then Julie’s 8-minute ab workout— that thing never fails to make my core burn.

Moving on to the reason for the title of this post…

My friend, Veronica, said yesterday, “I have awesome friends.” Of course, I’ve always felt the same way about all my friends from school, dance, blogging, and family connections. But her simple statement, and the sincerity with which she said it, was enough to make me think about how grateful I am for such awesome friends all day yesterday.

True story: When I was in kindergarten, my family moved from California to Kansas in the middle of the school year, and I had to make new friends in this place that people back in LA thought was in the middle of nowhere (let’s face it— everyone thinks Kansas is in the middle of nowhere). 5-year-old me wanted to do what every other girl did, so I would follow this “popular” group of girls and copy what they did. But then they told me to stop following and copying them, so I went to the swings by myself. Womp womp.

Then came elementary school, where life was full of drama over boys, note-passing, and who’s-friends-with-who. I would still try to please different groups of friends and act a certain way. The same sorta happened in middle school, except in 8th grade, I thought I was hot stuff because we got to go on a field trip to Washington DC for three days. Ooooooo. (It was actually so fun though.)

High school is when I started to shift friend groups and really learn to embrace originality. This year especially, I have learned to not care about what others think of me, whether I go to a party or not, whether I talk about food on a daily basis on the internet (hi!), or whether I’m considered a nerd/goody-goody/try-hard.

Part of the reason I think I feel so comfortable in my skin is because I have such loving, considerate, and understanding friends.

They don’t judge me. (eh, sometimes they do, but only jokingly…I think) 😉

They make me laugh until I cry, which I had never experienced until this year.

We can all have civilized conversations about our very different opinions on social issues and religion.

They are always waiting for me at the end of class, since I’m a snail when it comes to packing up my stuff.

They are polite, but not too polite, because that would be boring.

They brighten my mornings.

My friends are the peanut butter to my jelly. <— That’s saying A LOT.

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It is such a blessing to have a family outside of my blood-relatives, because I know how hard it can be to find the “right” people.

Hope you all have a wonderful day!

So tell me:

Which food could you probably live off of?

Finish the sentence: My friends are the _______ to my ________.

 

 

Almond French Toast + Weekend at Binghamton {MIMM #24}

Happy President’s Day!

Hi, guys!

I hope you all had a fun Valentine’s Day and a restful weekend. I have a crapton of marvelous things to share with you all from this weekend, so let’s get to it!

MiMM

Thank you to Katie for another marvelous linkup!

A lot of bloggers have been recapping their awesome V-day happenings, and I’ve been commenting on them about what my Valentine’s plans looked like:

French toast for breakfast

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To make this:

  1. Whisk one egg. Mix in a splash of milk (enough to turn the egg a pale yellow color), dash of cinnamon + nutmeg, and a scant ¼ tsp. of almond extract. Pour mixture into a shallow dish.
  2. Heat up a skillet on medium-high heat.
  3. Soak 2 slices of hearty bread (day old/dried out preferably) in the mixture for about 30-40 seconds on each side.
  4. Add a small pat of butter or coconut oil into your heated skillet and add in the slices of bread. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side.
  5. Meanwhile, cut half a banana lengthwise and sear on the sides of the skillet along with the bread. About a minute per side.
  6. Repeat steps 3 and 4 with two more slices of bread (or however many slices until the egg mixture is all used up).
  7. Serve with desired toppings! (I love mine with a dollop of Greek yogurt, nut butter, and a drizzle of maple syrup.)

This was my Valentine’s Day gift to myself and it rocked my socks off. Thanks, Alison. You’re welcome, Alison.

Homemade cinnamon rolls (This recipe for the rolls [minus the egg— I don’t think you need it!] This recipe for the frosting)

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I couldn’t find our rolling pin, so I just used my mom’s pestle and wrapped it in wax paper. Gotta do what ya gotta do.

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These definitely turned out JUMBO-sized, but as Sir Mix-a-lot and Arman said, “I like big buns…and I cannot lie.” They did sink a little once they cooled though. I didn’t actually have a whole one with frosting and all until last night, and mannnnn was it dreamy. Like the recipe says, they really do taste like Cinnabon! 

Babysitting

The only stressful part about this was driving to the house because of all the snow (and I got lost), but otherwise, this guy was the cutest Valentine’s date ever. He was also the most well-behaved baby I’ve ever taken care of! I even got to do yoga after he went to sleep. Yeah, I did yoga at someone else’s house. Guatever. It was my dance director’s place, so it’s not THAT weird.

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{I received his mom’s permission to post this}

I believe Valentine’s Day was a success!

Early Saturday morning, my mom and I hit the slushy, snowy roads for Vestal, NY since this weekend was Binghamton University’s admitted students day!

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Pre-driving fuel: Greek yogurt (I go through containers like it’s my job), half sliced banana, leftover French toast, chia, hemp, sunflower seed butter

It was really not a good time to be on the roads, but the police cars, salt trucks, and ten other travelers on the road kept us company. Luckily, Binghamton is not terribly far from where we live, so we made it there in fair time.

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After checking into our hotel, we found a Vietnamese restaurant through Yelp called Nhu Y that was about 30 steps away, so we ate lunch there. We needed some pho to hit the spot on such a dreary day.

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Mom and I shared a bowl of beef meatball pho and a lemongrass chicken dish that was delicious! Binghamton isn’t really known for having the most amazing food, but this wasn’t bad at all.

After lunch, we veg-ed out in our room. When I finally had an ounce of motivation to get out of those fluffy hotel beds, I went to the hotel exercise room to do something.

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There weren’t many options, so I just did a 45-minute incline walk on the treadmill while watching the Olympics. By the way, workout selfies will forever make me uncomfortable. Check out that mini lion-mane.

The rest of our evening consisted of Mass at the Binghamton Catholic center (so lovely!), a sushi dinner, and late-night shopping at an awesome supermarket called Wegmans. We actually went a little crazy at Wegmans because it was like Target + Trader Joe’s in one. A dangerous duo (imagine me saying that in an Australian accent).

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Beautiful Mass as the snow softly fell outside— it felt like Christmas!

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Vestal sushi is sub-par since we’re so spoiled with the sushi around our area.

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We’re bread hoarders. (We freeze them for later.)

The next day was the Binghamton University Open House!

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Hotel breakfast: Oatmeal square, nut bar, orange

The parking and check-in were very well-organized, which is much appreciated. My favorite part of the whole day was probably the Welcome session though. One of the all-male a cappella groups called “The Crosbies” entertained us while we waited for the event to start. They are incredibly talented and hilarious entertainers!

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At 11:00, they introduced the BU President to make the welcoming address. Apparently, university presidents are superstars.

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Dying to shake hands with him 😉

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After his speech, along with a few others from different faculty members/students, we were allowed to break into different groups to attend sessions that interested us. Since it was FREEZING outside and I had already taken a campus tour in August, I passed on that. I decided on a general information session and the Harpur College of Arts and Sciences session.

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Of course, we tested out the campus food at lunch too.

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Sandwich made to order (chicken breast, roasted red peppers, muenster cheese, lettuce, tomato on whole wheat) + minestrone soup

My meal was not too shabby, but the options in this dining hall seemed a lot more limited compared to that of University of Maryland. Other items available in this particular dining hall yesterday included pizza, made to order omelets and pancakes, savory breakfast/brunch foods, typical cafeteria hot foods (fried chicken sandwiches, burgers, etc.), and a salad bar.

Overall, my experience at the open house neither deterred me from Binghamton nor drew me to it. These are the main points I concluded from the weekend:

Pros: distance from home, value/price, community

Cons: academic programs may not be the best for my interest (physical therapy as of now), location is sort of out there

My mom and I agree that Binghamton University will probably not be the place for me. Right now, I think Maryland and Virginia are my top choices, and I’m visiting both in April. We shall see!

Ok, wow. Are you still reading this? 

This was definitely a longer post than usual, and most of you probably couldn’t care less about my college experience, but this weekend was definitely important in helping me discern my college decision.

Wait, I’m not done actually. So Blend Retreat 2014 tickets went on sale last night, and my mom and I are seriously considering going this year! If you don’t know what the Blend (blogger + friend = blend) Retreat is, it’s a blogger/blog-reader weekend retreat during which the attendees get to hang out, get active, get swag bags, and just have FUN. I’ve seen some of my favorite bloggers attend in the past, and I can only imagine how amazing it would be to meet them in person!

You have no idea how excited I was to find out that my parents were on board with the trip. I could technically go by myself (I will have turned 18 just a week before the retreat— score), but my mom is totally up for going as well. The only thing that’s keeping us from registering right now is school. I have exams the Monday after we get back, and I’m just not sure if I could afford to go on a trip that weekend. It just depends on which subjects the exams are for, because then I can gauge how much pre-retreat-studying I should do. Schoooooool.

K, I’m done. Have a marvelous Monday, everyone 🙂

So tell me:

Tell me three things you did this weekend!

Are you planning on going to the Blend Retreat?!