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?

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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?