NYC ~ A Trip with my California Girls

I have to say, I find it quite funny that a majority of my friends located here in New York, either went to school in California or are originally from California.  But more on that later.  This post highlights the adventures from last week with two of my pals whom I have known since elementary school!

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Lindsay (on the left) actually has lived with me for some time, but it was a treat to see Laura (on the right) who happened to be working from her company’s NYC office this week!  The likelihood of us all located in the same place is much higher when that place is New York versus our Southern California hometown.  Strange, right?

PARTY ONE ~ MLK DAY

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Since we all had Monday off, we were able to spend more time together and explore a couple of new places around the city.  I woke up and walked twenty or so blocks to Laura’s hotel, where I waited in a local Starbucks and read the paper.  You know, I have always told myself that I would sit in a cafe and read the paper on a weekly basis but obviously I spend too much time running around that it never happens.

Once we were all ready to go, we headed north along 5th Avenue, popping into various stores and just browsing the windows of others.

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral
5th Avenue, New York, NY 10022

The cathedral (like many other places in New York) looks so much better without all the scaffolding surrounding it.  I still have yet to attend one of its services or even duck my head inside to see what it’s like.  Even though Lindsay and I have found a good church that we enjoy, it would be neat to attend a service at the cathedral.  After all, you seem to get a deeper experience when you attend a service in such a renown and decorated building.  I sure felt that way when I was abroad and attended mass in the Cathedrale Notre-Dame in Paris.

IMG_8118A trip along 5th Avenue is not complete without a trip to Tiffany’s.  It’s quite a treat to walk into the flagship store and browse all the gorgeous jewelry and beautiful blue boxes but no treats for me on this trip.  I’m saving up to visit my sister abroad and have been doing an excellent job so far.

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Walking through Central Park and the zoo (fun fact: I wanted to be an animal trainer when I was little.  A dolphin trainer in particular.  I would braid hair and train dolphins at a resort in Hawaii.  I’m sure my parents are much happier that I grew out of that phase)

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A trip to Lily Pulitzer

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Jumped on the 7 train to ride under the East River into Long Island City

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Tuk Tuk
49-06 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, NY 11101

There we went to Tuk Tuk, which my manager had highly recommended for lunch.  I’m usually not the biggest fan of Thai, but I think it has to do with the fact that I order the most random combinations of food, not meant to be paired together. Like the time I ordered a vegan hot dog at Pink’s Hot Dogs in LA because I was trying to be healthy.  Yeah, no.  You just don’t do that.  But anyways, I’ve started asking waiters and waitresses about their favorites and what they suggest I order.  I’ve had infinity more success this way.

Not only was the food supposed to be super tasty, but they have a great lunch special, which meant we paid only around $7-9 for our meal.  Brilliant!

IMG_6539Thai iced tea + Pad Gra-Prow
(Stir-fried with a chili basil sauce with basil, onion and bell pepper)

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The recently developed area has an amazing stretch of parks, open space, and place for dogs to frolic and play.  We met up with my manager and her dog Brodie and had a blast watching the pups chase one another.

The rest of the night was spent at our apartment watching the Bachelor.  Oh Farmer Chris.

PART TWO ~ FRIDAY NIGHT

We really didn’t have a chance to hang out the rest of the week but were able to have one last night of fun on Friday.  What’s better on a Friday night than grabbing dinner and dessert with your friends? Forget clubbing, just give me chocolate. 😉 But really.

That morning, I woke up to attend the November Project workout at Morningside park.  Despite the long run and trek with my backpack, it was worth it.  Always is.  Ten hours later and it was time to meet up with Lindsay and Laura for dinner at Kipseys, a relaxed and somewhat contemporary American restaurant on 2nd avenue.

438 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10010
~ General ~ Menu ~ Delivery ~

I started off with a fruity glass of sangria, spilt a very delicious (don’t let the terrible iPhone picture convince you otherwise) appetizer of brussels sprouts and pancetta, and pondered over the options for dinner.

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Again, the iPhone has failed me to capture the tastiness of the event, but believe me when I say the trio combo of sides was absolutely fabulous and a clutch price point.  For $12, I was able to get mac & cheese, spinach, and sweet potato fries.  Lindsay had also ordered mac & cheese for $8 and I’m pretty sure it came out to be the same size.

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Originally we had planned to test out a speakeasy – Please Don’t Tell – but decided otherwise when we realized that we hadn’t made a reservation and miscalculated the location (it’s near Tompkin’s Square Park NOT Union Square).  So, we made a reservation at Max Brenner’s Chocolate Shop for dessert and spent the next 45 minutes wandering Nordstrom Rack.

Did you know that we New Yorkers do not have an actual Nordstrom’s?  Preposterous, I know.  Sure there is Bloomingdales and Saks and Macy’s and all that jazz.  Maybe it’s another sign that west coast = best coast.

Max Brenner’s
841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
~ Home ~ Locations ~ Chocolate Bar ~ Menu ~

IMG_8164While they serve actual meals as well, I would recommend this spot for dessert.  It’s seriously like walking into a world of pure imagination (yes…Willy Wonka for the win).

IMG_8168Both Laura and Lindsay had visited Max Brenner, either here in New York or out in Australia, so I deferred to them on what to order.  The hot chocolate is a must, so we ordered one for the table.We also ended up ordering three different desserts so that we could sample a little bit of everything.  Thank goodness my friends love to share because it’s oodles more fun to order a few dishes and get a taste of everything rather than be stuck with one option.

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~ Churros ~ The Works 1/2 Dessert Pizza ~ Strawberry/Chocolate Crepe ~

This ultimately put me in a sugar/food/chocolate coma and left me with the following thoughts:

Oh my goodness, this is like out of Willy Wonka.  Hm, what to order.  I’m a bit overwhelmed.  So much to order. This is so exciting!  (Food arrives)  We dive in like a pack of wolves.  Just kidding (maybe).  I’m sure any guy would swoon. 😉

(Still working on the food)  Thank goodness we didn’t go here for dinner.  Hm, we are all slowing down.  Do I still like chocolate?  Must finish.  Clean plate club.  Oh boy, this is going to hurt tomorrow.  Shoot, this hurts now.  Ok, almost there.  Wow, never eating chocolate or sweets or sugar again.  I’ll start a juice cleanse, yes good idea.  (Meanwhile get a text from our other friends in the city asking to meet up for hot chocolate the next day)  Ok maybe no juice cleanse just yet.  Oh boy, this feels like a hangover.  So worth it.

We stuck around for a bit, said our goodbyes, and then called it quits for the night.

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Travel Tuesdays – Seattle Sweet Treats

Now where did we leave off with our travel series?  Ah yes, Seattle Part 1 with a trip to Pike Place Market, the University of Washington, Chinatown, and Bainbridge Island.  But really a trip to Seattle isn’t complete without some tasty eats, right?  While we didn’t get a chance to sip on the chowder, or even some salmon, we did make sure to have our fair share of chocolate and ice cream.

A fun little fact about Seattle is that it is home to one of the tastiest chocolates in the west – Theo Chocolate.  Sure, sure, there’s the Ghiradelli debate, so let’s just say best chocolate in the Pacific Northwest.

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Theo actually has it’s one and only factory in the Seattle area and leads tours 7 days a week.  Besides our Underground Tour of the Seattle streets, this might have been one of the most educational parts of our trip.

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Here you learn a bit more of the history of cacao and the story of Theo Chocolate itself.  While you learn about the social and environmental issues surrounding the delectable treat, you will also get to taste some of the company’s favorites.  I mean, a little chocolate to help pass the time?  Yes please.

theo chocolate tour

For those of you interested in chocolate, a trip to the Theo factory is a MUST.  Hey, if you are in town for some time, you might be able to take a class or two from the chocolate university.  Fancy, huh?

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Theo Chocolate
3400 Phinney Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103
(Note: You will have to wear a hair net, make sure to wear closed toe shoes, and don’t wear any perfume as it might waft into the chocolate.  Chanel 5 may smell great, but I doubt it tastes very good)

So we may not have been very smart when we started our day with a chocolate tour (or were we?).  In order to not melt into a sugar coma, we traveled along to find some hearty lunch at Plum Bistro.  Now you read any further, just believe me when I say it was delicious and this isn’t any pull for the restaurant or any diet fad.  Do you believe me?  Are you still reading?  OK, it was a vegan restaurant.

seattle vegan restaurant

Mama Africa Salad : Mixed greens, seasonal fruit, quinoa+millet mix, tempeh, avocado, chopped almonds, lemon vinagrette, side of mustard aioli (G/F – $9)

Plenty of healthy options with fresh flavors.  Don’t let the term “vegan” scare you away 🙂  If I hadn’t gone for the salad, the pesto grilled cheese, or rustic pizza sounded like viable choices.

Plum Bistro
1429 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

 To follow up on something with faux meat and faux cheese, one might be in the market for some ice cream.  I mean, calcium is important in one’s diet and if you don’t have a lactose-allergy, by all means, load up!  So, if you ask anyone from the Seattle area, where to go, they will most definitely direct you towards Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream.   Known for its seasonal ice creams with local flavors, it’s quite the spot to go.

molly moon ice cream

Visiting their cute little store is a treat in itself and just like at Disneyland’s Main Street, you can watch them mold the waffle cones right then and there!  Although I’m not much of an expert, I would definitely rank their waffle cones as some of the best, especially if hot off the iron.

~ FLAVORS ~
~ vanilla ~ melted chocolate ~ strawberry ~ balsamic strawberry ~ salted caramel ~ stumptown coffee ~ maple walnut ~ “scout” mint ~ honey lavendar ~ earl grey ~

To learn more about their methods and ways, check out their gem of a blog here.

* SEASONAL *
* watermelon sorbet * vegan coconut chunk * ginger * wild honey *

IMG_6026“Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.” ~Ernestine Ulmer

Friday Favorites

WOOHOO we’ve reached Friday and even though it was just a four-day week, reaching the end of the week still feels mighty fine.  My work load picked up quite a bit this week and while I didn’t have a lot of room to breathe (or respond to social media…not that I would do that) 😉 I loved every minute of it.  I know we went through some haphazard thoughts yesterday but let’s go through a few more and my favorites from the week.  Some come from my Instagram project, 100 Happy Days, so if you are a follower, sorry for the repetition.

So, I’m debating about re-creating my blog.  Not the content or the name, but more the style of the blog.  Maybe self-hosting (if I care to go through the extensive process…) maybe just a new design, or maybe nothing at all.

JIMMY FALLON – Oh my goodness I watched the first episode and I was laughing so darn hard.  I know everyone has their favorite comedians and maybe yours isn’t Jimmy, but this guy’s humor and standup cracks me up.  I’m hoping to call in and pick up tickets to a show in the future.  Fingers crossed!

IMG_2978Enter free fitness class at work and leave with a free manicure gift certificate.  Not a bad lunch hour by any standards 😉  Also, no matter how much I exercise, I will ALWAYS get winded going up the stairs out of the subway.  Especially when I have half of New York charging up behind me.

IMG_2986 Having a boss that entices supplies us with sugar for that 3:30 or 4:30 or anytime feeling 🙂 Some days you just need that dark chocolate and how about that discounted Valentine’s day candy?  Or the fact that Easter candy is already hitting the shelves. Oh boy.

IMG_2988My new running headband (yes, wonderful photo, I know…I try), which I won from Sweet Miles.  I’m always looking for something to hold my bangs away from my face and this adorable design is just an added bonus!  I guess I can put it to use this weekend when I’m working on my half marathon training in the heat wave.  That’s right folks, New York is getting 50F forecasts.  That deserves another WOOHOO!

And last but not least…

BOOKING TICKETS TO BLEND RETREAT! Can you tell I’m excited?  Ah, so many wonderful things to come in the year ahead.  Also I think there are still spots available so if you are interested in checking out Park City for a weekend of fun and some pretty nifty bloggers and non-bloggers, check it out!  You don’t have to have a blog to attend, so what are you waiting for?

“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind.”
– Henry James

Meal Plans with Food & Phood

Welcome to Wednesday, or Hump Day for those so inclined.  My grandpa is actually pretty nice about sending a text message when he wakes up (around the 4:15am mark), wishing us a happy hump day.  I’m still living off last weekend’s adventures with my sister and reminiscing the delicious food we had.

So, being a foodie, I’m all about trying new spots and the hottest dishes (as long as nothing stares back at me) but my confession to you would be that I rarely do try these fab-looking restaurants and tasty dishes.  I talk the talk but end up with a plate of grilled veggies back at mi casa. Sometimes when I do go out, I end up ordering what I think I should order instead of what I really want.  Mistake.  Anyways, this week has been a bit of a routine affair – packing meals and attempting to save money so that I can splurge when Sarah arrives to roam the city this weekend!

Any other NY blends looking to hang out?  Shoot me a note! 🙂 For now, I’ve linked up with Jenn at her ingenious Peas & Crayons party.

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A week or so ago I was contacted by PlantFusion about their new simple, easy, and delicious protein powders.  In its own words, “PlantFusion combines 4 of the world’s most potent plant protein sources, fortified with key amino acids and digestive enzymes to create an uncompromising fusion of taste, potency, and digestability all in one.”  Now that sounds pretty legit to me, doesn’t it?

I was quite intrigued by the idea of their and offered to test them out.  In fact, I had been considering protein powders or breakfast combinations like Carnation Instant Breakfast (something I used to drink way back in the day), so this was perfect timing.  Chocolate was by far my favorite, probably because of my childhood all-time love for chocolate milk.

Flavors – Chocolate, Vanilla, unflavored, Cookies & Cream, Chocolate Raspberry

Usually I choose to drink the powder with unsweetened almond milk, lowfat milk, or even a little water. Sadly my work schedule doesn’t allow me to use the blender in the morning but I’m looking forward to the weekend when I can throw one of these in with ice cubes and a frozen banana or maybe some greek yogurt for an even more filling breakfast or post-workout snack.

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*PlantFusion provided me with these samples but all opinions are those of my own.

One lucky reader can win a 1lb bottle of any flavor of PlantFusion.  All you need to do is like PlantFusion on Facebook (Twitter too if you happen to have a Twitter account) and leave a comment of which flavor you would be most interested to try!

IMG_2197_Fotor_CollageThe rest of the day went as follows (counter-clockwise)

  • Lunch – salad (lettuce/chicken) with dipping sauces of course, carrots, and chicken broth
  • Snack #1 – apple
  • Snack #2 – KIND Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate bar
  • Dinner – leftover lo mein, which sadly was NOT as good as it was on Sunday.  Guess I’m just not the leftover type of gal.
  • Dessert – Death by See’s Candy.  (Juuuust kidding mom 🙂 )  But I did realize that not eating enough protein during the day lead to a hungry and semi-stressed Kaitlin … therefore inhaling chocolate + milk seemed logical.

I was planning to attend a spin class after work but ended up meeting with one of my Santa Clara boss’s friends.  We were in a fancy bar but I ended up  with a nice club soda + cranberry as I’m testing out the Dry January.

Also, as of Tuesday, I’m going to try to wean myself off sauce (believe me, I eat more than is humanely possible of ketchup + BBQ sauce + ranch) and some types of sugar.  Not really jazzed about how it’s affecting my energy and acne, so it’s worth a shot.  I know everything is about moderation, so let’s call this the “Month for Moderation”.  At least I’ll try to hold myself accountable now that I’ve shared it across the world wide web.

Thoughts on PlantFusion powders?  Tips for filling up during the day and avoiding sugary temptations?  Anyone up for a NY blogger meetup this weekend?

“Your greatness is measured by your kindness; your education and intellect by your modesty; your ignorance is betrayed by your suspicions and prejudices, and your real caliber is measured by the consideration and tolerance you have for others.” – William J.H. Boetcker

Chocolate Funfetti Explosion

Confession: I love to bake.  Confession: I love to eat what I bake.  The only problem I face is having an entire batch of cookies sit in my apartment, waiting to be consumed and if they don’t make it out in time…they will be consumed.  I’ve figured out the solution to my baking addiction.  Create whatever concoction I see fit, then share with my roommates and bring the remaining batch to work.  Yes, I’m that lovely person tempting you away from your holiday diet.

The saying goes that you can bake your way into a person’s heart.  Actually, this concept may be a deal-breaker if my future boyfriend/fiancé/husband does not like sweets or like to share.  Then again, maybe I wouldn’t eat as many.  But who really knows.

Sure you may not be able to make your best friends by handing out See’s candies in your college dorm (guilty as charged…my mom said it would work) but bringing in the baked goods every now and then never hurts, especially if it’s a celebratory occasion.

Every day I probably bookmark at least 5-10 recipes (let’s say 6 because that’s a grand number) that I want to make.  The reality is that I probably make 1 out of every 20 recipes and this statistic gets worse and worse as time goes on.  What can I say, I’m a creature of habit and the Junk in ‘da Trunk cookies are always a hit.

So, in order to break the mold of my usual Junk in Da Trunk cookies or classic chocolate chip cookie bar, I purchased a pack of Funfetti Oreos.  Whoa, purchasing cookies is your solution?  Hear me out.  Oreos are one of those items that immediately bring me back to my childhood.  I had seen a recipe on Pinterest for the classic sandwich – Oreo Truffles – and thought it would be a hit in the office.  As I treated myself to a few Oreos throughout the week, I realized I needed to make a recipe soon and I probably wasn’t going to get around to that truffle idea.  I had also used up most of the cream cheese for my weekly bagels, so plan foiled.

Then came Santacon, a weekend of Santas, celebrations, and holiday festivities.  I considered making peppermint bark – a family classic – but then realized I’d have to buy even more ingredients; not cool for someone who likes to use her food money on Kate Spade and gym memberships.  That’s when it hit me – why not create an OREO BARK?? It’s simple, everyone loves chocolate, everyone in their right mind loves Oreos, and it will get the sugary stuff out of my apartment!

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Oreo Celebratory Bark
Enough for 1 Hungry Party

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 bag dark chocolate
  • 1.5 bag white chocolate
  • ½ box of Oreos (your choice) ~2 rows
  • Optional toppings/mix-ins: nuts, marshmallows, candies i.e. M&M’s, peppermint, pretzels, etc. (These can be substituted/added for the Oreos)

Directions:

  • Take a baking sheet/casserole dish and line it with parchment paper
  • Pour the dark chocolate into a saucepan/double boiler and begin to melt.  If you are planning to add some mix-ins (nuts, etc.) make sure to crumble into chocolate mixture.

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  • When melted, spread dark chocolate over the parchment paper and smooth over with a spatula.  Feel free to tilt the tray/pan to even out. Place in the fridge for about 10-20 minutes.

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    • *If you would like to create a marbled effect, do not cool in the fridge.  Simply pour the white chocolate mixture on top and stir lightly with a knife.
  • Repeat melting process with white chocolate.

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  • Crumble Oreos (any topping) over the white chocolate as it cools.
  • Place the tray in the fridge until solidified ~1hour+
  • When ready to serve, take out of the fridge and break with a knife, your hand, or hammer – whatever suits your fancy 🙂

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The verdict?  Certainly a crowd-pleaser and I’m already brainstorming different combinations, probably based on previous magazine creations.  They also happened to be a pretty big hit on Instagram.  Let’s be real, we all base our lives on how many “likes” we get via Facebook or Instagram 😉 Just kidding.  Maybe.

How do you feel about Peppermint Bark?  Did you eat Oreos as a kid?

Rockin’ Food NYC Holiday Style

On Monday we had a group of carolers serenade us at lunch in the cafeteria, which was grand.  There even was one older figure who did indeed resemble Saint Nicholas.  I said without a beat, oh look it’s Santa, I know him! Aren’t I quite witty? 😉

Life’s a bit of a roller coaster, don’t you agree?  In terms of first world problems, my iPhone cable broke and so I was forced to wander the streets of New York with a dying cellphone as I searched for a replacement.  Of course the two Apple stores are in complete opposite locations and too far from my apartment or the direction I was heading.  I managed to annoy the 7-Eleven employee enough by asking him to go all the way around the counter, open the safety lock to obtain a charger, go back to the register only to have me realize I just needed the simple cord sold at the register.  He just rolled his eyes and laughed.  No, sir, I’m serious, just the cord.

Well, now that I have the ability to charge my phone with any USB doc possible, I don’t have the ability to load pictures onto my computer.  I’m not exactly impressed by all of Apple’s products at the moment but because I rely so heavily on my iPhone camera, I’ll probably have to invest in yet another charger.  For now, I will resort to sending my pictures via e-mail.  So dedicated, I know. 😉

Onto Monday’s eats as hosted by Jenn at Peas & Crayons.  She’s really a rockstar that Jenn.  I refuse to purchase food for the apartment when I’m leaving on Friday.  I’d rather stock up when I return in a week and start the new year on the right foot.  Actually I’m big about starting fresh, whether it’s with food, a new month, maybe even new clothes J Out with the old/bad and in with the new.  That being said, I’m relying heavily on my roommates and my work to provide for me.  At home we tend to share and I’ve already whipped up a batch of Junk in ‘Da Trunk cookies, my roommate’s favorite, so I don’t feel as bad asking to borrow some goods. Then, we have a pretty decent cafeteria in the building (overlooking Central Park) and are even located near a Whole Foods.  There is also Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and a Juice Generation nearby, so my options for food are endless.  If only my food stipend was…

photo 1Oatmeal w/ peanut butter, coconut, and banana.  Paired nicely with iced coffee (not the best, but ‘twas necessary)

Lunch was once again hosted by the work cafeteria and I can’t complain with their daily selection of vegetables.  Here we have eggplant, quinoa, tofu, acorn squash, green beans, and zucchini.  I debated a cookie, but held off.  Thought I’d try the no sugar during the work week idea.  (failed later in the day)

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I didn’t end up leaving work until around 6 and decided that a day off might help my aching legs.  I still could have used some cardio but decided to avert injury and save my legs until Christmas vacation when inevitably we’d be running on the daily.  So, I walked down to see the Rockefeller Christmas tree in all its glory and even helped a few lovely couples and families capture the moment.  One couple even asked for the “take a picture while we awkwardly kiss for two minutes” and I’m pretty sure I captured 10 pictures.  Who knows, if they didn’t take a picture, it never happened. 😉

I took a picture last year during my visit back east with my dad and thought about replicating it.  Um, no.  Don’t expect any cute pictures when you are wearing sweatpants, marshmallow puffy jacket, and a mismatched headband.  All photographic evidence was deleted, except the gorgeous views of the tree.

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At this point I wasn’t sure if I should walk home or take the metro.  I compromised by metro-ing halfway and walking the remainder in the cold.  Something about walking helped me mentally justify no work out.  Once home I sliced up a spaghetti squash, threw it in the oven and sat down to watch some Revenge (almost caught up to season 3!!!) and of course Christmas shows.

I’ve never been much of a binge-television watcher.  OK, not entirely true as my sister and I would tape all our favorites and watch them after cross country practice on Fridays.  We were quite the social bunch in high school.  I’d also like to say that I’ve converted to Netflix.  After watching seasons 1 and 2 of Revenge on Netflix – 40 minutes straight with no ads – I was not pleased to go back to Hulu with 4-5 ads per show.  Yes, I was a huge proponent for Hulu but what can I say, times change.

photo 4Spaghetti squash with sautéed kale, ½ chicken sausage, bit of parmesan and marinara sauce. 

Spaghetti Squash (Serves 2)

  • Preheat oven to 400F
  • Slice a spaghetti squash and spread some seasoning over the inside.  Place facedown on a piece of foiled cookie sheet.
  • Roast for about 25-30 minutes until tender. Use a fork to scrape the inside of the squash out.  Place in a bowl and microwave/sauté for a few extra minutes, adding in marinara sauce/garlic if so desired.
  • Enjoy 🙂

Then the whole “no-sweets” thing went out the window.  This happened and it was divine.  Stay tuned for celebratory bark tomorrow.

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“I make the most of all that comes and the least of all that goes.”
– Sara Teasdale