I’m going going back back to… Utah?

Just a quick note to drop in and announce that…

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I’m officially returning to Blend Retreat this year!

Thanks to a nice little tax refund from Uncle Sam, I can justify the cost of lodging & airfare (the cheap CHEAP price of $115 is MORE than reasonable for everything included in the weekend) to Park City.

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Can’t wait to return to the Hyatt Escala where we had such a blast last year!

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I met so many lovely ladies last year who all remain dear friends (and dedicated blog readers SLASH blogs that I still stalk read) today.

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Click here to read about last year’s SWAG

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Click here to read about last year’s FOOD

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And click here to read about last year’s HIKE!

I can’t wait! If you have any questions about the retreat (it’s open to everyone, not just bloggers!), don’t hesitate to shoot me a comment or e-mail me!

Hope you’re all having a great week!

Are you coming to Blend Retreat?

What I Ate Wednesday: NYC Edition

Today I’m coming to you (a week late) to share what I ate during my weekend in NYC!

Hosted by Jenn over at Peas & Crayons, What I Ate Wednesday is an opportunity for wannabe-foodies-slash-voyeurs like me to see what other bloggers eat. Such an awesome way to think of ideas to get you out of a food rut.

Unfortunately, I totally chose the wrong week to display for Love your Veggies Month (as you’ll see, not many veggies were consumed during my mini vacation!). However, y’all know I’m a veggie lover the rest of the time! If all my pictures of stir fry and produce on Instagram are any indication… 😉

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I had a long day of travel ahead of me (starting at 4:30am Cali time, and I didn’t arrive at Arielle’s apt in NYC until after 6pm!) So I made sure to load up on lots of healthy snacks for the trip. I ate pretty much everything except the Detour SMART bar, which I saved for a pre workout snack the next day, and the Ring Pop (LOL waaait…how’d that get in there?!)

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During my layover in Chicago, I also found a healthy (albeit pricey) chickpea salad at Starbucks, which I paired with a Dirty Chai Latte..bc sista was workin on 3 hours of sleep!

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Then, I arrived in NYC, surprised my best friend, danced the night away, and came home to her apartment w/her roommate and ate half of this cheese pizza from 7/11. People, I am not exaggerating. Alex only had one slice of what you see gone above. You’ll also notice I decided I wasn’t going to eat the crust…probably so I could fit more cheese and tomato sauce into my stomach.

Needless to say, my New York family was extremely disappointed in me for eating pizza from 7/11 when I was in NYC, which boasts some of the best and cheapest pizza in the world. I am also disappointed in myself, but I REGRET NOTHING. #zerofucks

The next evening, Alex and I enjoyed dinner at Butterfly in Tribeca, where I got bratwurst sliders and a side of some of THE BEST brussels sprouts I’ve ever had. (Hey look at that! Veggies!)

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Alex was still hungry after his ravioli, so we ordered some fries. I have become something of a fry connoisseur recently and have been trying them EVERYWHERE I go. These thick cut steak fries were perfectly cooked- nice and crispy on the outside and actually cooked all the way through. I was definitely a fan!

After dinner, we stopped at Whole Foods and I picked up a variety of cookies, including the famous Black & White cookie. It was so good. I am a sucker for frosting 😉

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Speaking of french fries…We went to Sixth Ward in the Lower East Side for brunch on Joanna’s actual birthday, and they were out of homefries, so we all got french fries with our breakfasts instead. No complaining here!

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In fact, because Rebecca & I were still hungry, we ordered more….

I’m telling you guys. I have a problem. And it involves deep fried potatoes.

For dinner/dessert, we went to the famous Max Brenner’s in the Village. We weren’t particularly hungry for dinner, but hadn’t eaten anything since brunch and didn’t want our dinner to be just chocolate, so Joanna & I split a chicken panini. Oh and again…french fries. You can never go wrong with waffle cut!

The real reason to go to Max Brenners, however, is not the dinner food (which was just so-so), but the CHOCOLATE.

We ordered 2 different kinds of fondue: the classic european (white chocolate, milk chocolate, & caramel, which came with fruit, brownie & cookie bites, and marshmallows) and the churro fondue (white chocolate, milk chocolate, some kind of raspberry sauce, and churros of course!)

Oh my god you guys.

I don’t think this amazingness requires any more explanation.

The next day was my last, and I was super excited that I was able to meet up with my Aunt Jeanne and her husband Mike. I had heard about Eataly and suggested it to them for lunch, and everyone jumped at the opportunity (Joanna included)!

Eataly is basically a giant Italian market/group of restaurants/shop/cafe/PLANET in the Flatiron District. We decided on the Pizza & Pasta restaurant (they also have a wine bar, a couple of really high end restaurants, and like 5 other assorted restaurants).

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We started with a formaggio misti, which was a cheese plate. There was goat cheese, some kind of parmesan, and a cheese made from cow/sheeps milk (? i think?) alongside some kind of chutney.. I don’t think I’ve ever met a cheese I didn’t like, so you can guess how I felt about this part of the lunch 😉

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We also ordered 2 pizzas and I finally got to make up for the 7-11 incident! Both were margherita-type pizzas, and sooooo so good. Love the thin crust!

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To finish, the 4 of us shared gnocchi with lamb. I don’t know if I’ve ever had gnocchi with a texture so light and fluffy. The lamb was super tender as well.

Overall, an AMAZING meal!

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We spent a lot of time looking through the whole complex, which had a bakery, grocery store/farmers market, kitchenware section…

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AND GELATO! I was trying to choose between salted caramel and hazelnut…The salted caramel had an amazingly creamy texture, but the hazelnut tasted too much like Nutella to say no!

And that was that! Luckily for me I got in a good work out and 3 of my 4 days were 10,000+ step days, because if not I probably would have returned home with a bit more meat on my bones than I’d like! Either way, it was worth it!

Have you ever been to New York City?

What is your favorite style of pizza? I love anything thin crust, so New York style is right up my alley!

Surprise NYC Weekend in Photos

Greetings from snowy NYC!!

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Anyone who follows me on Instagram knows (and may have known for a while now) that I flew to New York City this weekend to surprise my best friend Joanna for her birthday. I got the idea back in November when tickets were really cheap, and bit the bullet & made the purchase just a week or 2 after Thanksgiving. This is the reason why there are very unspecific “travel day”s worked into my half marathon training plan…I knew this Saturday I’d be flying across the country!

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But first, I had to celebrate Valentines Day in Sacramento! Yvette and I met up with a big group of girls for sushi, but got there early and had our own private dinner date 😉 as soon as we finished our food (we were starving!) we joined the rest of the ladies. Unfortunately I didn’t stay long, cause I had a 6am flight to catch!

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And fly I did! My brother graciously picked me up at 4:30am and took me to the airport. There was snow on the ground when we connected in Chicago which I knew was a bad sign. My flight to NYC ended up delayed about an hour and a half (most of it on the runway).. THEN, the pilot announced we were in a holding pattern circling LaGuardia, and everyone on the plane started purchasing alcohol LOL- myself included. We made it eventually to NYC, where snow was in the air!

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I hightailed it to Joanna’s friend Arielle’s apartment where I could stash my stuff and get ready for the surprise party. Joanna’s roomie (and our longtime friend from middle/high school) Alex arrived and we had a photoshoot on Arielle’s amazing balcony!

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Eventually we made it to Swift, a bar in the East Village where Joanna was unassumingly led by her boyfriend. She was already crying before she was led to the corner where I was hiding and I was revealed.. It was an emotional moment when she realized I was there and not on a dodgeball pub crawl in Sacramento wondering which boy I should invite (like I told her I was 😉 )… I even sent her fake workout selfies and claimed I ran 11 miles that morning- HA!

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After drinks at Swift and dancing at Bowery Electric, I headed back downtown to Alex & Jo’s place, where I frolicked in their snowy rooftop lounge while waiting for Alex to get back and buy a pizza from 7-11. Which I proceeded to eat HALF OF. I was running on 3 hours of sleep and totally needed the fuel! Let’s just say it was glorious.

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I made up for it by having a healthy banana + coffee + kombucha recovery breakfast before high tailing it back up to midtown to get my stuff from Arielle’s apartment. Like my outfit? I call it “morning after chic” 😉

Then we took advantage of Joanna & Alex’s gym and I got in my best non-running workout in months! Made me kinda having a gym…

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Joanna headed out for her bday dinner with the BF, and Alex and I decided to walk around TriBeCa until we found a good spot to eat. Um, bad idea when it’s 25 degrees outside and feels like 18! After what felt like hours of walking, we started getting desperate and ducked into a cute little place called The Butterfly. I got bratwurst sliders and Brussels sprouts with bacon & apples and Alex got ravioli and it was all SO good! Pleasant little surprise!

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At dinner, I had the genius idea of staying in and watching the new season of House of Cards. After seeing (and posing with) an ad for it, we knew we had to do it! We stopped at Whole Foods to get a couple of fancy beers then plopped down in front of the tv for what turned into 3.5 hours of Netflix. We watched the first 4 episodes back to back… Soo good!

The weekend is far from over, as today is Joanna’s actual birthday and I’m not leaving until tomorrow. We are hopefully going for a long run this morning followed by birthday brunch, and I cannot wait! So excited to be here and celebrating with her in person! Happy birthday Joanna!!

Have you ever surprised a friend or had a surprise party thrown for you?

Have you been to NYC? How about in the dead of winter?!

New Years & Weekend in Photos

Hello all and happy (belated) new year!

I celebrated on the Oregon coast with my roommate and 6 of our friends at her family’s cabin. Here are a couple of my favorite snapshots:

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Unfortunately, during our canoe trip pictured above, I took an unexpected dip into the river with my iPhone in my pocket. Oops. Luckily I had my iPad to capture a few precious moments from the trip for the 3 days that followed!

After 4 days with my phone in a bucket of rice, the verdict was in and my phone was dead. Lesson learned – bring a plastic bag next time!

Don’t worry though, I’m back in action now 😉

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Just in time for a dodgeball selfie. #typical

Here’s what I was up to this weekend:

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On Friday, I spent the afternoon with my mom and her best friend/college roommate Linda, who made it out of New York just before the big storm. We had an awesome photoshoot at the Sacramento City Cemetery, where we draped ourselves in shiny fabrics and posed with statues. No big deal. See more of Linda’s photos from the day at her blog Journal Your Journey, where she plans to document pictures of her doing yoga poses throughout her post-retirement travels!

We grabbed a bite to eat afterward at Tower Cafe, where Linda helped me food style my lunch 😉

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On Friday night, I went ice skating with friends at the downtown rink. It was crowded and the ice was choppy, but it was super fun! Even if 4/5 of us fell 😉

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I was nervous that I would be too sore from ice skating to run the next morning. I definitely was feeling it (especially my butt, since I fell right on it!), but not enough to keep me away from my 8 mile run! I even made it to the Farmers Market afterward 🙂

Eating pizza and nachos and drinking a beer the night before probably didn’t help my pace… This was a good 10-15 seconds/mile slower than my usual long runs. But I ran on the hilly half marathon course again and it went really well. The fact that I’m already at 8 miles a whole 10 weeks before my half marathon has me feeling very confident!

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Last night, I took it easy – caught up on some of the most recent season of Homeland (only 2 episodes left!), did my nails, and put green stuff on my face. Typical girly Saturday night in.

Today I have been laying low and am currently streaming the 49ers game on my computer… On deck for this evening is dinner and board games, followed by T-Shirt pick up for the next season of Sunday dodgeball! Apparently the fun never ends around here.

This post is coming to you on Sunday rather than Monday this week, because I have another post planned for tomorrow. My main New Years Resolution this year has to do with living on a tighter budget than I’m used to – my new job is full time, but only pays $10/hour. The next 6 months will be an interesting test in self control and cutting back! Check back tomorrow for more 🙂

Where did you go or what did you do for New Years Eve?

Do you set yourself a budget each month? If so, do you use an app or website?

Chicago Weekend in Photos

Happy Veteran’s Day everyone! For those of you who had the day off today, I hope you enjoyed your long weekend!

As anyone who follows me on twitter, Instagram, or Facebook knows, I traveled to Chicago this weekend to hang out with 4 other healthy living bloggers- Becky (who lives in Chicago), Carly, Sara & Alisha. You may remember me, Becky & Carly’s shenanigans in Napa & SF this summer. Sara was also with us at Blend Retreat, and Alisha we were all meeting for the first time- so glad she decided to take the leap of faith and drive herself from Ohio to see us- we all had a blast!

I went over to Carly’s place in Davis after dodgeball on Thursday night and we woke up bright and early on Friday morning. Her mom graciously drove us to SFO!

A 4 hour plane ride, Chicago commuter train, and taxi ride later, we finally made it!

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We started our evening getting ready with wine, bread and cheese in the hotel, then went to the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the Hancock Building- omg. SO cool! We got (insanely overpriced) Moscow Mules & Mojitos, but it was worth it for the amazing atmosphere and views.

Afterward, we went to “dinner” at RA Sushi (which was really just a few appetizers) and bar hopped in Old Town. Also, Alisha and I became tequila partners. As you can imagine, I was feeling less than stellar on Saturday morning 😉

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Regardless, I rallied- we had plans to watch college football, eat, and drink! I surprised Alisha by wearing a Hawkeyes shirt (my grandparents went to Iowa so I’m an honorary Hawkeye!) and we enjoyed mimosas, coffee, beer, and both a breakfast AND lunch buffet at an Iowa bar in Wrigleyville.

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For the rest of the day, we walked the 3+ miles back toward Downtown Chicago and stopped along the way for amazing Nutella waffles and an obligatory Whole Foods trip! Definitely the biggest one I’ve ever been in!

After Whole Foods, Sara and I waited a good 20+ minutes in line to check out Sprinkles Cupcakes- SO worth it! I got a Salty Caramel and a Dark Chocolate, and somehow made them last 24 hours!

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That night we went out for another night on the town. Aren’t they all hotties? No wonder I was the only single lady of the group, all these ladies’ hubbies/BFs knew to snatch them up quickly!

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Sunday morning brunch was just what the doctor ordered! Becky suggested we go to the Little Goat, and when I said I had never had a Bloody Mary, she insisted I try one of theirs. I loved the combo of flavors, but being a tomato hater I’m not sure Bloody Mary’s are for me! Might have to stick to mimosas 😉

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Sunday was all about sight seeing. We walked around Millennium Park and saw the Bean at Cloud Gate, walked around downtown, and really just took in the city.

We seriously lucked out with the weather- It stayed in the 40s-50s the whole weekend, but the sun kept us nice and warm! This morning right after Carly and my flight left, it started snowing. Dodged a bullet there 😉

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And of course we couldn’t call it a Weekend in Chicago without some DEEP DISH! This was from Giordano’s and it was awesome. I may still prefer NY style pizza, but honestly the two are so different! It’s like comparing apples and oranges!

All in all it was an amazing weekend with great friends. I really loved Chicago & can’t wait to go back!

What was your last weekend trip?

Have you been to Chicago?

Weekend in Photos

Happy Monday! Or should I say….. crappy Monday:

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You’d think I would’ve learned last year when my back tire was stolen that I need to bring my bike up to my balcony every.night. My balcony was occupied when I got home last night so I told myself I’d move it later…but of course forgetful Katie + an early bedtime = did not remember to go back downstairs for it before I went to sleep. Oops!

Determined to not let that set my day on a bad path, let’s remember a fantastic weekend, shall we?

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I came home on Friday only to be greeted by this adorable lab, Lucy. My roommate’s parents dropped her off with us for the weekend! While Lucy and Hanna went and had a play date with some other dogs and their humans, I stayed back and enjoyed my Friday night wine + cheese & crackers + Netflix. I was so happy to have a new Parks & Rec to look forward to!

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I woke up early on Saturday morning and was surprised it was brisk enough (in the high 50s/low 60s!) to require a t-shirt and leggings for my morning run! Usually I wear a tank and shorts. Lucy was a great running partner, but I definitely have shin splints from all the stop + go I did to control her, and from the increased speed at which we were jogging she dragged me along.

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I rode my bike over to Kristin’s apartment and we took light rail to the Megabus, which took us over the new Bay Bridge into San Francisco for one of the last Giants games of the season! I woke up CRAVING those garlic fries, and they didn’t disappoint.

I hadn’t been to a Giants game since 2006…my friend Jordan’s parents have season tix and were kind enough to let us go with Jordan and his girlfriend (both good college friends of mine I hadn’t seen since graduation!).

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We missed the first 3 innings due to traffic (and Megabus leaving, like, 20 minutes late), but we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day at AT&T Park. It was in the mid 70’s and sunny, with not a cloud in the sky.

After a couple of margaritas at Pedro’s, we stopped at Safeway to stock up on some essentials for the tipsy bus ride back to Sacramento. (I am obsessed with kombucha and Nutella, as you all know. And apparently I get carsick now…the bus ride there was not pleasant!)

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After sleeping 11 hours on Saturday night (11pm-10am. Apparently, I needed it!), my project for Sunday was to prepare beignets for Monday Night Football tonight. Every week, my friend David hosts MNF and he makes a dish native to the city hosting the game. I’ve actually been meaning to write a post about what I’ve brought (maybe even a new weekly series)…Tonight, they’re in New Orleans, so to go along with Dave’s gumbo, I prepped some beignets! They are currently chillin in the fridge, ready to be plopped in the deep fryer and covered in powdered sugar. Hope they turn out!

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And of course… if you have the internet, chances are you heard that the Breaking Bad series finale was last night. I gathered one last time with my group of friends/faithful fans to watch, and we were all extremely pleased. I thought it was a perfect ending! I just hate that it had to end 😦

Looking forward to a good week full of perfect weather (high 70s-low 80’s! Still no fall here yet!) and hopefully better luck than I had this morning. Have a great week!

Are you actually having fall weather where you live? 

Without spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t caught the finale yet, what did you think about Breaking Bad?

What I Ate Wednesday – New York edition!

Look at that, another WIAW post!

Hosted by Jenn over at Peas & Crayons, What I Ate Wednesday is an opportunity for wannabe-foodies-slash-voyeurs like me to see what other bloggers eat on a regular day. Such an awesome way to think of ideas to get you out of a food rut. However, there’s nothing regular about today’s edition – I’m just sharing all the food I ate on vacation 😉

My parents, brother and I got back late last night from New York after an amazing week with family and friends! Though we were there for a whole 7 days, I was actually only in New York City for the weekend + Monday. The rest of the time was spent all over Long Island (Smithtown, Ronkonkoma, Sayville, Amity Harbor, Lynbrook, Farmingdale…you name it, we went there!) visiting family and enjoying wedding festivities.

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First thing’s first – after arriving Wednesday morning on a red-eye, we went to my grandpa’s house in the evening and asked him where he wanted to go for dinner. He of course took us to his favorite New York pizza spot, Joe’s Pizza in Copiague/Amity Harbor. Those weird worm lookin’ things were actually sausage, and were also amazing and delicious.

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This was probably the one and only healthy breakfast I had the entire trip, haha. Most mornings I slept in till 10 or 11am (I tried to stay on West Coast time while we were there), so we’d just go straight to lunch. This was actually also the morning of the wedding, so it was definitely a good idea to get a good workout and a healthy breakfast in before drinking and eating the night away!

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After a super adorable ceremony at the church, we all went back to the hotel to get ready and piled into the party bus that took us to the reception. First was a Cocktail Hour, complete with 4 food stations just like this one and an open bar. Heaven!

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In the ballroom, a lovely little salad awaited us

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Followed by crab risotto topped with a couple’a shrimp!

{Please note that at least 15 minutes of dancing ensued in between each of these courses. So much dancing….}

My main course was chicken and a side of lasagna, but apparently I dug in too quickly to snap a photo. But I got the cake!

[photo courtesy of my cousin Sami]

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YUM. I’m not a huge fan of fondant, but I definitely liked that there was chocolate and vanilla!

The next day (Saturday) was spent relaxing at my aunt and uncle’s house (the mother and father of the bride) and avoiding hangovers…

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Nothing better than a little hair of the dog, right?

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Someone busted out this amazing PASTA PIZZA. That’s right. PASTA. On PIZZA. I was a little hesitant, but it was seriously amazing. Perfect use for leftover baked ziti! Carbs on carbs on carbs.

After that, it was off to the city for me:

I stayed with my close friends Joanna and Alex, and this is the view from their rooftop lounge in the financial district….. I KNOW.

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On Sunday, Alex humored me by letting me drag him to Rockefeller Center to take my picture at 30 Rock. As soon as I realized Bouchon Bakery was right next door, I HAD to go buy some overpriced macarons. I got the cheaper mini variety so I could sample a bunch: funfetti, caramel, pistachio, and vanilla. Loved the caramel flavor the best, but the macaron texture of the vanilla was so so so perfect!

Oh and then on our way from Rockefeller Center to the High Line, this happened:

Me: “Oh look, Alex! First Date! That’s the Broadway show Zachary Levi is in! He is like the epitome of what I find attractive. Seriously, when I think in my head of what a hot guy looks like…it’s him.”
Alex: “Uh, okay…”
*2 seconds later* *spots Zachary Levi standing 10 feet away*
Me: “OMYGOD OMYGOD OMYGOD OMYGOD OMYGOD OMYGOD ”

— Sadly not an exaggeration.

After walking the High Line and making a lil trip to Whole Foods, Alex and I made some awesome “deep dish” pizza:

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Manhattan living…ain’t nobody got time for real baking sheets!

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The next morning I woke up to texts from Joanna asking what kind of bagel I wanted.. YUSSSSS. I went with a whole wheat everything bagel toasted with cream cheese, and it was amazing. New York bagels are seriously in their own league, SO good.

Then it was back to Long Island…

And more pizza from Joe’s! I didn’t get a picture of our second time there, but we got a Sicilian pizza like this one and I liked it even more.

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Fast forward to our last day –> we were headed to my mom’s college roommate Linda’s house and decided to bring Italian Cookies. AKA probably one of my favorite things about Long Island- they’re at all the Italian bakeries there and they are amazing. My favorite are the kinds dipped in chocolate, but my momma likes the ones that have jelly sandwiched between them.

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Little did we know Linda’s daughter had also made us all a yogurt/custard/fruit parfait! We feasted on bagels for breakfast, then sandwich wraps for lunch, and definitely had full bellies when we got back on the plane.

As you can see, we ate real well. Thanks to a couple of workouts, a ton of walking in the city, and a general tendency to not overeat, I think I came out of this vacation with only 1 pound gained! This is a first for me 😛 And now I’m trying to brainstorm ways to get back ASAP.

Have you ever been to New York? What did you eat?

What food is your region known for?

Girls Weekend in Photos

Sorry for the silence, dear readers! I had a productive week at work last week and apparently blogging took the back burner. I’ve got a lot of fun stuff to share this week though!

As anyone who follows me on FB, Twitter or Instagram knows, I was in the Bay Area this weekend. Becky flew in from Minneapolis on Wednesday and stayed with Carly in nearby Davis. They headed to Napa the next day…I had work and was a captain in a super serious (ha) playground-style dodgeball draft on Thursday night, so on Friday morning I woke up bright and early and took the train to Fairfield, where Carly picked me up and our weekend began!

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It was a leisurely 40 minute ride, and gave me plenty of time to enjoy some tea and do some reading (I’m currently reading The Paris Wife).

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Our day consisted of a wine tour hosted by Platypus Tours. We visited 4 wineries in the Napa Valley, ranging from St. Helena back through Rutherford and we ended in Yountville.

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It was an amazing day! More details on this to come later. Shockingly, the favorite wine of the day for this red wine lover was actually a white- a Sauvignon Blanc from the very first winery we visited. In fact, it was the first taste we tried! And of course I decided not to buy it because I thought “I’ll find something else I like more”… Womp womp.

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We were in pretty good shape after the tasting (the tour included snacks, lots of water, and lunch!) so we decided to check out downtown Napa after a quick rest. I am somewhat familiar with Napa, being that my ex boyfriend grew up there. But all the places we went this weekend were new-to-me! We had some amazing pasta at Ristorante Allegria (with more wine for Becky and I…oops) and beautiful cocktails at Fagiani’s.

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After a painful car ride (Becky and I were not at our best after splitting that bottle of wine at dinner 😉 ), we arrived in San Francisco. The lovely Sarah met up with us and we walked through Downtown SF to the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market to check out the, uh, classy artisan offerings. We also had brunch (at like 2pm) at The Plant Cafe Organic – it was amazing!

Unfortunately the fun ended there for Becky and I, and we went back to the hotel to veg out. We ended up ordering pizza and having a relaxing night in so we would be fully recovered for a Sunday full of sight seeing!

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And recovered we were! We took a nice long walk to North Beach and had brunch at a dive bar (The Boardroom) that ended up having some AMAZING food – including bacon wrapped tater tots. I had a yummy BLT and we all marveled at Carly’s graham cracker French toast with Biscoff spread – OMG. Speaking of Biscoff, apparently you can buy 3.5 lb tubs of it at a shop in Pier 39. Proof: see above!

Before leaving, we had to make sure that Becky saw the Golden Gate Bridge. We went to a lookout near Crissy Field and had a photo op while freezing our butts off. Then it was sadly time to say goodbye!

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And to offset all that girl time, I went bowling with the guys when I got home! I was horrified to see that my friends are actually all totally serious bowlers (some with their own balls and everything!) because I am definitely a bumper girl 😉 I embarrassingly scored an average of 60 points in my first 2 games before pulling off a 126 in our last game! So proud.

That’s it for my long weekend. One last thing –

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Happy birthday to my brother Andrew! He turns 23 today, and I am insanely jealous that it appears he will be sharing a birthday with the Royal Baby! Just push the kid out before 4pm PST, Kate!! As I already said on Facebook… He may be 10 inches taller than me, but I will always be 22 months older. Have a great day!

Park City Hotel, Restaurant, & Bar Tips

After attending BLEND Retreat, one thing I promised to talk about that I haven’t quite gotten to yet is Park City itself. I’ve talked about all the food we ate, the exercise we did (OK, mostly the hike, since that was all I was up for!), and the swag we got.

But now I am here to tell you all about this little mountain town that attracts thousands of guests year after year! Albeit several weeks late…but better than never, right?

The only experience I had traveling to Utah was in 2010, when I had a layover in Salt Lake City with my parents. We missed our connecting flight [we were flying from Sacramento to New York] so we had 6 hours to kill at the airport. Naturally, we decided to go on a tour of Temple Square in Downtown SLC.

THE Mormon Temple

That’s another story for another day, but suffice it to say Mormonland is super interesting!

Park City, however, which is about 30 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, is a completely different beast.

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Driving from SLC –> Park City

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In 2002 when the Winter Olympics were held in Salt Lake City, lots of the events took place up in the nearby mountains. Check out these remnants! #olympicsnerd

Hyatt Escala Lodge at Park City

DSC_0514As I’ve mentioned, we stayed at the beautiful Hyatt Escala Lodge. It is one of quite a few hotel-resorts in the Canyon Resorts area of Park City – just a quick drive up the road from “Downtown” Park City.

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we had to walk through several other hotels to get to our hiking trail – they all seemed lovely!

There are tons of ski lifts in this area, which I’m sure makes it a great place to visit in the winter months. We enjoyed walking to a beautiful hiking trail where we got this stunning view:

gorgeousYou can even see the resorts in the distance 🙂

The Hyatt itself was amazing. The grounds were beautiful, reminiscent of a big cabin in the mountains, but also very elegant and modern at the same time.

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The restaurant in the hotel was the location of our breakfasts, and they also hosted our cocktail hour (complete with delicious appetizers!). It is a huge space with giant windows, letting in lots of light. Loved eating meals here!

Now…for the SUITE!

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This is just the living room. And I totally slept on that couch (didn’t even need the pull out)…couldn’t believe how comfortable it was!

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All four of us (Becky, Carly, Arlene and myself) kept saying the things in the kitchen were nicer than our own things at home. Because they WERE. Haha. It was such a nice place to just sit and relax during the few breaks we got throughout the weekend.

All in all, I can’t say enough good things about the Hyatt Escala. The service was also top notch…not to mention handsome, as pretty much every single lady in our group remarked throughout the weekend 😉

Main Street in Park City

There is one main street in Downtown Park City…and it is literally called Main Street.

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It plays host to tons of shops, restaurants and bars. Even a dance club or two! Here are the spots I checked out:

Dining

On Saturday night, a group of us decided to go to Wasatch Brew Pub for dinner before going out on the town. I decided Saturday would be reserved for sampling some local beer! I got beer recommendations from one of the [many] handsome front desk guys at the Hyatt, and off we went to dinner.

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I told said front desk guy that I like hoppy beers, and he told me I had to try Hop Rising by Squatters Beers. It’s a Double IPA [which means STRONG!] and I loved it. I’ve rarely met a Double IPA I didn’t like…I think many breweries take care to keep their double IPAs from getting too bitter and overpowering.

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Paired with a black bean burger and sweet potato fries. Hilariously enough, most people at our table ordered this burger. It was super funny to me that we all ordered the same things [either this or the Avocado-bacon-chicken-lettuce-tomato & Swiss sandwich]…clearly we were all looking for the healthiest items on the menu!

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the whole group! i believe this was stolen from Carly 🙂

All in all, it was a great dinner! Definitely recommend!

Wasatch Brew Pub on Urbanspoon

Going Out

While we were eating our gourmet dinner on Friday evening, our table was debating whether or not to go out for a drink or two. Debra brought up a great point: Who knows when we’ll be in Park City, Utah again…if ever? It was this “carpe diem” attitude that led me, Debra, Brittney [of The Laughing Cow], & Orlando [of Onnit] to go out after dinner on Friday night and see what Park City was like. We went to O’Shucks, a quirky little dive bar, followed by No Name Saloon, one of the more popular spots in town. On Saturday after dinner at Wasatch, most of our dinner group ended up repeating the same two bars that us 4 had been to the night before.

If you’re from out of town and planning on going out to bars in Park City, there are a few things I noticed that were different from most places I’ve encountered in California and elsewhere:

  1. Liquor Laws: Beers on tap are capped at 4.0% alcohol. Unless they’re local, in which case they can be up to 5.0%. I don’t just say this because I want to drink the strongest beers to get drunk faster [although, yes, okay, sometimes I do]…Taste is definitely affected by alcohol content. There’s a reason why Bud Light is only like 4% alcohol. Stick with a bottled beer if you’re going for taste! Mixed drinks are also capped at exactly 1 ounce of liquor.
  2. Closing Time: Bars stay open until 2am, but stop serving alcohol at 1am. I guess to give people a chance to sober up before heading home for the night?
  3. Hipster-Bros: Park City is officially the Mecca of Hipster-Bros. Most of the guys we encountered there dressed like hipsters [e.g. they wore PLAID], but upon talking to them, we soon realized that they were totally just bro’s in disguise:
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PLAID EVERYWHERE

On to the bars!

O’Shucks Bar & Grill

O’Shucks is for sure a dive bar by my standards. The drinks are cheap, there are peanut shells on the ground, and it’s small and cozy. The highlight for me was…cheap schooners!

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After seeing them on Friday night, I had to come back and get one on Saturday. I had never had one before! I ordered an IPA, thinking I was totally scoring by getting a goblet of strong ass beer for only $7. Of course, this is before I knew about the aforementioned liquor law, and I basically ended up drinking a watered down version of IPA.

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I’d say there was about 1.5-2 pints in the schooner. I decided not to finish it, because I wanted to save room in my tummy for some other [tastier] beers.

No Name Saloon & Grill

No Name is right next door to O’Shucks, and it’s basically a fancied up version of the same concept. We spent a lot of time here both Friday and Saturday nights, and I got the feeling it is a popular hangout amongst Park City dwellers.

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They had a cool upstairs patio, which boasted great views and great people watching 🙂

20130605-103000.jpgI ended up playing Buck Hunter both nights:

20130605-102837.jpgI thought it was the super “Utah” thing to do, and apparently didn’t learn my lesson when I spent most of the game Friday night shooting cows instead of bucks 😉

On that note, I hope you travel to Park City some day! I had a great time, and loved getting to know my Blends better over great food and drinks!

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Us at the SLC airport on Sunday – Carly, Brittney, Becky, Sara and I.

Have you been to Park City or Salt Lake City?

Have you ever arrived at a place where you’re surprised to learn their laws are different than your own?

Throwback Thursday – Weight Loss Before & After Photos

Yes yes I know, bad blogger again this week. I promise I’m making it up to you with what I’m sharing in this post.

Do you ever participate in Throwback Thursday? It’s mostly an Instagram thing. Post old embarrassing pictures, use the hashtag #tbt…it’s fun, sometimes.

Yesterday, I decided to see if I could compile some pictures of my weight gain/loss throughout the years to share. I found a few good comparison photos, then decided when I got home from work to raid my computer for pictures from high school. After a little bit of digging, I found a folder called “Old iPhoto Library”…

GOLD MINE!

Apparently, I had barely any full body pictures of myself junior-senior years of high school. That would be because I was too busy taking selfies in my bedroom:

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You can’t see it, but this polo shirt has a sketched image of Napoleon Dynamite on it. YES, I was that cool.

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Apparently, I really liked photoshop.

blonde ambition!

I should totes use this as my new blog header, right? Proof that ‘blonde ambition’ has been my favorite phrase since at least 2005 😉

Anyway, on to the before and after pictures.

HIGH SCHOOL: 2005-2006

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These show that, though I may have been thin in high school, the fact that I wore unflattering (e.g. too small for me) clothing made me look bigger than I was.

Those shorts were the itty bittiest cut off shorts that I could get away with wearing to school. Not exactly flattering when you buy them as a size 4 and grow to a size 6! (same with the jeans). Funny story about the top picture: I ditched Trig/Stats one day to go hang out in a park and I locked my keys in my trunk! Instant karma.

COLLEGE: 2006-2010

As I’ve explained before in my ‘weight loss story’, I gained a lot of weight my Senior year of high school and Freshman year of college. I worked at a Hawaiian BBQ restaurant my senior year, which was also my first year not playing soccer. I guess you can say I got a head start on the Freshman 15.

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Senior Ball (2006) vs. All Hall Ball (2007). Looking back at these pictures, I see that I was pretty big…but to be honest, I didn’t think so at the time. My brother was the only one who told me I had obviously gained weight (lol) and I got upset with him for it. I was having the time of my life in college, I went to the gym occasionally, and loved life. No regrets! YOLO and all that jazz.

I worked at the YMCA the summer after Freshman year, and a lot of the weight came off. I ate better and was much more regular about working out sophomore year. That summer, I worked on UCSB’s Orientation Staff, which was a 10-12 hour/day, largely outdoor and active job. I looked pretty good that summer……then I went to study in France for a year.

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Santa Barbara (2008) vs Cannes, France (2009). My booty was definitely at its peak.

However, if I learned anything in France, it was how to dress well. I started dressing better and in more flattering clothes, so I generally felt good about myself. And I don’t regret a single bite of amazing French food that I ate. Not. A. Bite!

Fast-forward to graduation:

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I weighed less in June 2010 than I did in June 2009, but I quickly gained more thanks to two trips to New York and another month in France. I can’t decide whether I like or hate that I had bangs for like 2 years….

POST-COLLEGE: 2011- Now

NOW, the real before and after photos!

I figured a good way to compare would be by showing side-by-side photos of two trips to New York. The first was in August of 2010 (My first trip of 2010, I hadn’t even gone back to France yet so I wasn’t at my heaviest) and the second was this past November of 2012, after losing 15 pounds.

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August 2010 (~136 pounds) — November 2012 (~120 pounds)

How cute is it that my Pop is wearing the same shirt in both pictures? hahaha.

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August 2010 (~136 pounds) — November 2012 (~120 pounds)

Obviously you can’t see my body since it was FREEZING in NY in November. But still.

I’ve come a long way, no?

today

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from going through all these photos, it’s that I have always been relatively thin. Even at my heaviest weight, I recognize that I was not obese or even close to it; I often didn’t even think I looked overweight. It wasn’t until I moved home after college that I realized I wanted a lifestyle change. At my current level of fitness and healthy eating, I feel like I’m at my best. I’m not just lean, but also toned and strong. My legs are more muscular than ever, and I’m working on getting my upper body there too. I can run for 30 minutes without stopping! I’m damn proud of that. But I don’t regret living it up in college, or taking advantage of all the French cuisine in Lyon. I don’t think anyone should sacrifice their happiness for vanity. But right now, healthy = happy for me!

One last comparison… just for funsies:

My very first season of dodgeball (June 2011), and my current season of dodgeball! (April 2013)

Not much weight difference there…I just look much less afraid and perhaps a little more competitive (lime green knee socks mean business, yo).

Have you ever looked back at photos and been shocked at what you found?

What is your favorite indulgence? Mine was froyo from the Dining Commons and one from France that has stuck: baguette + cheese!