Flying High

I’m off to Texas tonight! Going to visit my cousins for the weekend and I’m so excited to see them. They moved to Newtown for three years when I started college, and then moved back a couple years ago. It was so wonderful to have them so close back then, since most of my family lives down south. But now it gives me an excuse to travel to their neck of the woods.

The occasion is for one of my cousins’ high school graduation. I think he’s literally grown two feet since I saw him last.

I’m at the airport now with my magical calm-me-down potion (aka a glass of wine). If anyone knows me at all, they know I don’t like flying. But it’s all worth it once you get to your destination and have a few fabulous adventures!

I’ll keep ya’ll posted!

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Back to Reality

How in the world has the summer flown by so fast?  It has now been my second summer out of college, and time just seems to keep speeding up!  I’m not exactly sure how August passed me by, but it sure was filled with great summer events, hence my lack of a post in a while.  But I’m back on track and ready for a busy fall at work, and even more ready for my new health routine I’m forcing myself to get on.  Stay tuned for more details!  But first, let’s recap all of the excitement I had over the past few weeks.  First stop, The Color Run NYC!

6 am – glorious.

My Running buddy!
8000 Color Runners…ohhh yea
So close to the start
Waiting for the Color Party after the race.
The Aftermath
I’ve never looked so good
Post-run fuel.  Courtesy of TorTor
This will definitely have to become an annual event.  Next year, Boston?
Moving on.  As many of you may know, my love for country music has grown since my cousin, Austin, got me into in before he moved back down south to Texas.  And luckily, Greg has grown up with the same love.  As a result, I have gone from seeing 0 country concerts to about 8 in the past 2 summers; most recently to see Eric Church at Mohegan Sun.  Although it wasn’t our typical  outdoor lawn venue, it was actually one of the better shows that I’ve seen so far.
Awesome.  Just awesome.
On to my end of summer vaca in Rhode Island with the best of the best.  Renting a beach house for a week brought me back to senior year and good times.  It was great to be able to relax on the beach for a week and spend time with those I miss the most.  Two trips to Newport weren’t so bad, either.  Jealous?
So that was my August in a nutshell.  Next up, my plan to get geared up for Fall!

Lovely Mini Vaca

Who doesn’t love July 4th?  Time to spend outside with friends and family, sitting by the water, sipping a drink, hot dogs, hamburgers and home-made pasta salad, and of course some fireworks.  My kind of life. I decided to make my July 4th holiday a mini vacation of sorts, since it landed smack dab in the middle of the week this year, and that just isn’t cool.  I did exactly the kinds of things I wanted to with the people I wanted to, and it was glorious.  And luckily for me, I have a boyfriend who likes to take me to cool places like Newport, RI, which is exactly where we ventured on Friday to spend a day visiting the mansions, shopping and just taking in the sights.  Here’s a little preview:

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Rosecliff Mansion

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View from the back of RoseCliff.  Not too shabby.

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Behind The Breakers

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Our Dinner Ocean View

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I Love Sunsets.

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So there you have it.  If you haven’t been to Newport, RI before, you should definitely find a reason to go.  Spent a night if you can, there’s certainly enough to do to keep you busy!  I hope everyone else had as wonderful a July 4th as I did.  Come back soon!

Leave the Phone and the GPS

This past weekend was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable weekends I have had in a long time.  Greg and I were invited to take a trip up to our friend Michelle’s house in Vermont, which we immediately accepted without hesitation.  As I had anticipated, this trip met my expectations above and beyond what I had hoped for.  It was peaceful and low-key; just what I needed.


Michelle’s house is located on top of one of the many mountains in Vermont; so inappropriately named “Terrible Mountain”, the view from the deck of the house was utterly breathtaking.Image

Seriously, this is real life.  The picture doesn’t even do the view justice.

We arrived late Friday night and got settled, drank some Vermont-original craft beers (Long Tail and Magic Hat to be exact) and baked a few cookies before heading to bed.  Perfect Friday night, in my opinion.

Woke up via my biological clock the next morning.  Seriously, one of the best things about vacation is not setting an alarm.  Feeling refreshed and ready for the day, I was welcomed to Vermont by the  spectacular view above as well as this lovely country spread:

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Pancakes, fruit, Vermont maple syrup and, yes, that is peanut butter you see in the middle of the table.  Why, you ask?  Because apparently I have been missing out on the most amazing (and super healthy?) combination of condiments to ever exist.  That’s right, pancakes with peanut butter and syrup on top. Try it for yourselves, my friends, it will change your life (but hopefully not kill you).  Even if it does, you’ll die happy.

In the afternoon we headed out and stopped at a local farmers market. Lots of local produce and some over-priced jewelry, but it was worth walking around just to see it.  I’m a nerd for these kinds of things.

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Hidden waterfall behind the market, so pretty.

Afterwards, we soaked up some sun at a local park, where we played Wiffle Ball and took on the challenge of helping some kids get their Frisbee down from a roof.  You can guess how well this worked out…

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Needless to say we failed at our task.  To improve our moods, we headed to Manchester to do some outlet shopping.  I snagged some pictures of the sunset on our way back up the mountain.

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If I could live in a place where the sunset looked like this all the time…

We finished the evening with dinner at a local restaurant in Ludlowe called the Pot Belly Pig, where I barely made a dent in my Scallop, Spinach and Tomato Pasta (it was delicious, but enough to feed 4), and watched game seven of the Celtics-Heat game with the locals.  A quick trip to the convenience store to pick up some Ben & Jerry’s (we were in Vermont after all) and we were all set for a night in with some blankets and a movie.  If anyone is looking for a great laugh, I highly recommend 21 Jump Street.  I sound like a nerd, but it was hysterical and kept me in stitches the entire time.

Sunday, we opted for the newly discovered Peanutbutter/maple syrup pancake breakfast again, along with some scrambled eggs and the rest of the fruit.  We took our time getting ready and then went into the little town of Weston for come real Vermont culture.  First stop, the Vermont Country Store.Image

This place was like Cracker Barrel on, well, crack.  It not only had those crazy old games you used to play when you were little, but free samples of fudge, cheese and homemade jellies and dips.  I easily ate the equivalent of my lunch there, and ended up buying more fudge and dips to bring home.  This place is dangerous for the tourist in me.

We walked around a little more to see the Old Mill and Craftsman House, which was pretty cool.

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Took one more look out at the beautiful view from the house and we were headed back to Connecticut.

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It was the perfect weekend filled with good conversation with friends, good food and new sights.

Sometimes you just need that new perspective.  As work becomes more of the norm and every day stresses begin to build up, it is so important to have something to bring you back to sanity.  My challenge for you is to do something new or unfamiliar.  Explore a new place, take a fun new class, try a new recipe, or even spend time with a friend you have lost touch with.  As long as it provides you a sense of calm and happiness, it’s worth it.  Good luck, let me know how your adventures go!

Simply Busy Birthday

Miss me?  I sure did.  I made a promise to myself when I started this blog that I wouldn’t let it fall on the back burner.  Oops.  Sometimes life gets in the way and you find that the past two weeks flew by and all of a sudden it’s May!  So I’m sorry for not finding the time to update and inspire, I promise to do better.

So, this weekend was my Birthday and it was filled with more love and excitement than I ever expected.  Truly amazing.  I am 150% convinced that I have the best friends, boyfriend and family anyone could have asked for.  What could be better than a country concert, a surprise dinner and outing in Stamford with some of my best friends, and a relaxing lunch with my Mom who is finally home from her Florida adventures.  I couldn’t have asked for better.

Now for a recipe because that’s what I do.  I found I had little time to prepare what I was going to eat for dinner this week, so I put together some staple dinners I used to prepare for myself at school.  One of my favorites, broccoli and rice stir fry.

The first time I ever had tofu was when I made this with my girlfriend, Katie.  It became one of my favorite recipes from that moment on.  I didn’t have tofu this time, so I substituted some fiddlehead ferns that I had picked up at the grocery store the day before.  I used brown rice (the 5-minute kind) and sauteed the broccoli and fiddleheads in some olive oil and garlic.  Add some soy sauce (or stir fry sauce which is a little thicker and what I normally use, but I was out of that as well) and cook until desired brownness.  Once the rice is done, add it in with the vegetables and mix.  Voila! Super simple and easy.  Great for leftovers too!

Let’s end with a little Monday morning perk-up.  One of my favorite websites for providing uplifting and interesting articles throughout my day, Greatist.com, had this to share:

http://greatist.com/happiness/13-ways-to-beat-the-monday-blues/

Great tips for avoiding that Monday morning feeling of exhaustion and dullness.  Who doesn’t feel a little sense of disappointment when that alarm clock goes off at 6am?  My favorite ones; Get pumped up to some tunes and Smile!  I need to try these more often.  It’s all too easy to fall back into the dull routine of the week and lose sight of the good things in life.  Try some of them for yourself!

Almost like a Summer Day

I love weekends that feel longer than usual, don’t you? Especially when they are filled with enjoyable activities. As the spring begins to lead to the summer, I am beginning to look forward to my weekends more and more. My calendar is already filled with country concerts, Yankees games and outdoor festivities. And now that it’s still light out when I get home from work, I can actually enjoy a nice run outside when the weather permits (like I plan to do today). My winter blues have finally come to an end.

78 degrees and sunny is what the weather man told me Saturday would bring. A morning run with my girlfriend started off this glorious day; a 3-mile loop that I am determined to tackle whenever I get the chance. I am proud to say I have finally reached that point in my life where I actually get excited about running. It has taken me 7 years. It started after I ran my first 5k on Thanksgiving morning this year and realized it was something that wasn’t going to kill me (although my body definitely tried to convince me it would). I didn’t train for it beforehand. I just got on the treadmill two days before the race, ran as slow as I never though possible (12 min mile to be exact) and didn’t stop until I hit 3.2 miles. I have never felt as good as I did that day, and so began my love affair with running.

Kings was next on the agenda for the day, my absolute favorite breakfast spot. Nothing compares to their over-the-top variations of your normal Eggs Benedict (Asparagus Benny), french toast (Forget Paris) or scrambled eggs (The Soprano). This place is a must try if you live in Connecticut. If you don’t believe me, take a look for yourself.

For those of you that have been missing out, this is The Soprano-pesto scrambled eggs with chicken sausage, red peppers and mozzarella cheese; homefries (which I could live off of) and bocco bread. Oh my Yum.

With my belly feeling happy and full, I headed up to Rocky Hill for the remainder of the weekend with plans to go on a hike and take Greg out to dinner for his birthday (or so he thought). What I actually had planned was a surprise dinner and night out with 14 of his friends. Who’s a good girlfriend? (Kidding).

Anyway, in the afternoon, Greg and I hiked up to Heublein Tower located on Talcott Mountain in the Simsbury/Bloomfield area. It is a 1.25 mile hike, half straight uphill (workout #2 for the day!). Once you get to the top of the hill, you can see out over the Farmington River Valley and Hartford area. I love wide open spaces, and this was a perfect picturesque view of my home state.

I imagine it is even more beautiful in the Fall, which I definitely plan to go back for. Unfortunately the Tower isn’t open until after Memorial Day, but we were still able to walk around the property.

It was the perfect Saturday afternoon leading into an eventful night out on the town. Relaxing + a little early shopping for my birthday was what Sunday had in store. Who says you can’t do it all?

What I’ve started to take away from both my long weekends (actual or perceived) and my almost nonexistent ones is to mentally slow down and breathe. To appreciate what you’re doing, right then and there, and harness that good feeling of having control and enjoyment in your life. To use that feeling to pull you through those gray days and bring you to the next good one. Too many times you hear someone say that life passes you by. From someone who never listened to that little bird while I was in college, and someone who sometimes wishes away the week in order to get to the weekend, I’m learning how important it is to develop a more balanced perspective of appreciating both.

Easter Eggs, Yoga and Sunshine

Happy Easter/Passover!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday with their family and friends, I know I did!  As life goes on, it becomes more and more difficult to spend quality time with the people that you love.  But when it happens, it is wonderful.  My Mom was home from Florida, where she has been for the past 4 months (lucky her!).  It was really comforting having her back, even though I want more than anything for her to enjoy her time down south.  The great thing about her is she will always take care of me, even if I pretend I don’t need it.  My girlfriends were also home from their respective homes along the east coast.  It is rare that we are ever in the same place at the same time these days, so when the opportunity arises, we take full advantage.

Friday I had the day off (awesome), and it was gorgeous (double awesome).  The day consisted of Eggs Florentine at the newly discovered Sandy Hook Diner (newly discovered by me, this place has actually been around longer than I’ve lived), shopping, and running with my girlfriend Holly. I then headed up to Rocky Hill to see the boyfriend and enjoy a night out in West Hartford.

Saturday started off with a morning Yoga class at a studio in my town I had never tried before, Yoga Dimensions.  I have recently developed a (healthy) obsession with yoga.  It is everything I love in a strength work out because it stretches, tones and relaxes all at the same time.  It just feels good, especially after a run (something I have also began to love more and more).  Anyway, the studio, Yoga Dimensions, is a very small but intimate space, and the instructor, Aline, was one of the most enjoyable teachers I have had the pleasure of taking a class from.  Why have I never gone here before??

If you’re interested in taking a class, here is their website: http://yogadimensions.net/.  I took the Saturday Slow Flow class at 10:15, and I’m still feeling the benefits of it 4 days later.

In the afternoon, we enjoyed a combined family/friend lunch at my house where we discussed jobs, travels, and new adventures.  And then it was time for the Easter egg dying.  Oh. Boy.

I haven’t dyed Easter eggs since Clarissa Explains It All was still on cable.  Since when do they have glitter and tye-dye egg coloring kits?!  But I have to say, I’m proud of our colorful array of happy eggs.

Saturday night was wrapped up with a trip to the movies to see The Hunger Games (judge me), and a much needed night out with the girls.

Easter Sunday I enjoyed church with the family, lunch, and a scenic run around my girlfriend’s and my neighborhood.  Delicious dessert from my favorite baker, Katie (bottom left), ending with a relaxing evening watching TV with my Mom and George (who may soon need an intervention for his addiction to Angry Birds).

All in all, my weekend could not have been better.  There is nothing more comforting than good times with the people you are closest too.  That kind of happiness comes easiest of all, so if you too have had the chance to spend the weekend with loved ones, harness that good feeling it brought and use it to inspire others.