College Graduation

About a year ago, I graduated from Assumption College with a Bachelor’s Degree in English with Writing & Mass Communications.  With a white cum laude cord around my neck and diploma in hand, this picture was taken with my boyfriend, Stephen, his sister, Nina, and his mom, also named Marie.

I am very proud to announce that today, Stephen graduated from college.  After spending 2 very hard, long years in a tough radiology program to become an x-ray tech, Stephen is now a certified graduate.

Now wait… it’s only fair that I explain what exactly this program means.  It’s a 5 semester program: fall, spring, summer, fall, spring.  First year, he spent 3 days a week in class (read: Anatomy and the like… yuck) and 2 days in clinicals (read: dealing with patients… no thanks.) The summer in between the first and second year meant he spent 40 hours every week working as an intern WITHOUT PAY.  Ouch.  So essentially, he worked 60 hours a week: 20 paid (at a seperate job) and 40 unpaid.  The second year, the schedule flipped.  The students then went to class 2 days a week and clinicals for 3.

Let’s put this in perspective.  Sure, I spent a whole 4 years as a full-time college student but I had my summers free to make money.  I had class roughly 3-4 hours and hardly ever in a row.  I haven’t taken science since junior year of high school and if you asked me to “position” anyone, I’d flat out refuse.  Those x-ray kids don’t get enough credit.

Regardless, he graduated and awesome for him, he already has a job lined up.  2 words: Thank God. 5 more words: damn my stupid English Degree.

Congratulations Stephen!

And, being the super nice, never-a-pain-in-the-butt girlfriend that I am (cough), I bought him this pretty toy as his present.  Which I will be borrowing.  On a regular basis.

My Summer Wish List

My Summer Wish List

So I know this entire collection is Coach.  I can’t help it…. Everything is so adorable this season.  And my birthday is coming up in July.  Just sayin…

Manoush fitted dress
$402 –

Coach sandal
$188 –

Coach summer handbag
$118 –

Coach ring
$88 –

Coach sun hat
$198 –

$178 –
PS – I still need more bloggers to guest post for me.  E-mail me or leave me a comment if you’re interested!!

Wanted: Bloggers Who Love Guest Posting

So here’s the deal.  In approximately 17 days (but who’s counting?) I will be off to NYC to board the Norwegian Jewel and embark on my first cruise… to the Bahamas.

Why the Bahamas you ask?  Well, it’s actually a cruise to Florida and the Bahamas and was the most convenient (and cheapest) way since it docks right in NYC instead of having to fly to Florida first.  We are savvy like that.

Stephen and I love to travel.  During my junior year of college, we spent Spring Break in Puerto Rico and had an absolute blast.  We went hiking, ATV-ing, snorkeling, site-seeing, drank lots of Medalla Light and ate traditional Puerto Rican food.  Although we wanted to go back there, we decided to see a new place and when I found an all-inclusive cruise that would take us to the Bahamas, we didn’t think twice.

Here’s the plan… on June 11th, we will take a coach bus from Boston to NYC, hail a taxi to the dock, board the boat and get settled in our room (and probably will definitely have a drink.)  From there, the cruise will take us to Port Canaveral in Florida.  We will spend the entire day in Universal Escape in Orlando.. aka HARRY POTTER WORLD.  So what if I’m 22? I want to ride a broomstick and drink butterbeer and get a wand.  My vaca, my rules.

Our next stop is Great Stirrup Cay, the perfect place to spend the day snorkeling.  In the water.  For those of you who know me, you know I hate water.  If you don’t know me that well, there’s a fun fact about my life.  Unless I’m drinking it, spending approximately 10 minutes in the shower or submerged in a scorching hot jacuzzi, I don’t do the whole large-body-of-water thing.  Maybe it’s because I’m not the greatest swimmer.  Maybe it’s because I don’t like live fish staring back at me.   Maybe it’s the fact that I despise cold, icy, frigid water.  I don’t know.  But I promised Stephen we’d snorkel and a-snorkeling-we-will-go.  I’ll try my best not to drown for the blog’s sake.

Finally, a day in Nassau, the heart of the Bahamas.  More specifically The Atlantis Resort.  We will spend the day walking the grounds of the resort, doing a little shopping and most importantly, splashing around in the Aqua Adventure Water Park.  Gah, water, again.  Hopefully I not have a repeat bathing suit fiasco as I did once on the Geronimo slide at Water Country.  I won’t go into details.  I love rollercoasters so that’s how I’m looking at this water park… a big ‘ol thrill.  Plus, there is a tunnel water slide that goes through a shark tank.  Cool.

Besides our excursions, I plan on relaxing on the deck of the ship, getting a killer tan (like I did in Puerto Rico), taking lots and lots of pictures and appreciating my last vacation for a while.  It’s a celebration of Stephen’s graduation from college and my acceptance into graduate school and will probably be the last vaca we take for a few years.

So why am I telling you all of this?  I will be gone for about 8 days and I need awesome bloggers to guest post for me.  About whatever you are most passionate about.  Cooking, running, dancing, reading, etc. The possibilities are endless.  Interested?  Leave me a comment or shoot me an e-mail.  Tell me where you write and what you’d like to write about and I’ll send you more info/a deadline.  And I’ll love you forever.  That’s pretty cool too.

Yup, that’s me… underwater.  Crazy.

My Weekend Recap

Stress fractures are no fun.  Especially if they reside in your left foot, aka your turning foot if you’re a dancer. 

My foot had been bothering me for a while.  I know I have tendonitis in the top of my left foot already from years of dance but when a sharp pain developed in my big toe, I started to worry.  It started acting up around Week 5 of my Couch to 5K training but I chalked it up to overuse and moved on.  When I woke up on Friday morning with a painful (and gross looking) broken blood vessel in the same foot and throbbing in my toe, I knew sucking it up might not be best course of action.  Doctor, here I come.

I more or less expected the result.  Minor stress fracture, pain from imflammation, and a broken blood vessel that should go away in a few days.  My doctor gave me a prescription for high dose ibuprofen with the consoling words, “I’d tell you to stay off of it, but I know you won’t.” Smart man my doctor.  I decided to take a few days off since I was in for a busy Saturday anyway and hoped that by Sunday, some of the pain would subside for my dance rehearsal.

 Later that day, I headed down to Hanson with my friend Alyse to celebrate our other friend, Swy’s, 23rd birthday.  I made this cake for her.  Talk about a project and a half.  I am no Duff Goldman, but I think it turned out pretty good.  And it was quite delicious if I do say so myself.  I found it in a Food Network magazine.  (Chocolate cake, vanilla icing, toasted coconut.)

On Saturday morning, Alyse and I enjoyed Mary Lou’s coffee on the way home where I had roughly an hour to get ready for a graduation party with Stephen’s family in New Hampshire.  We had a great time, ate lots of yummy grilled veggies with hummus and I enjoyed a (large) glass of Cabernet.

That night, Stephen and I made a shrimp/veggie stir-fry for dinner.  Nothing fancy, just tossed a bunch of frozen veggies in a wok, made some basmati rice, threw in the shrimp last minute and voila.  It was delicious, especially the quick wheat biscuits I made to go with it.  We also popped open finished a bottle of Asti I bought for him because we were celebrating.  Not only is Stephen graduating from college on Thursday with an x-ray degree, he also has a job already!  (Seriously, he’s out of school 3 seconds and has a job.  I’ve been out of college a year.. where’s mine?!)  Regardless, celebrations were in order.  Just wait til he sees the gift I bought him.  I’d tell you now but he reads this… sneaky.

On Sunday my mom had one thing planned for the morning: My FAFSA.  More like the bane of my existence.  Paying for college is hard enough without tacking on an additional $45,000.  Whatever, BU, you better get me a job when I’m done.

Around 2pm, I headed to Boston for my DanceWorks photoshoot/dress rehearsal.  It’s hard to imagine that the past few months have flown by and our show is a little over a week away but I am more than excited for it.  I danced all through college but we never really had dance shows like this.  It’s like being in recital all over again…something I haven’t experienced since high school.  Needless to say, I’m pumped.

The rehearsal went great.  We each got our photos taken (headshots and full body poses), learned some of the finale routine and ran through each dance in show order.  During the show itself, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that I will be throwing my costumes around backstage between routines and trying not to look like a bright red lobster during the entire show.  Ha. We’ll see.

After rehearsal, we had a mini pizza party in the food court of the Pru.  I made some sugar cookies for the girls.  I think they went over pretty well.

I rounded out Sunday night with Stephen (I swear we aren’t actually attached…)  We made pork and broccoli for dinner and pistachio cupcakes for dessert (sans frosting so I hesitate to call them cupcakes but that’s how Stephen refers to them.)  Overall, besides the stress fracture, it was a very successful weekend.

Coming Up…
–Oklahoma on Friday.  I can’t believe it’s time for Staff Meeting already!

NDA/DanceWorks Packets….

I WANNA KNOW!! What is the fanciest dessert you’ve ever created? How did it turn out?

Weekly Gratitude

Thank you AGAIN to everyone who came out, sent me e-mails, comments, text messages and supported me for my first 5K race.  It was an unbelievable experience and I can’t wait to do it again.  (And I think I may be getting roped into a HALF MARATHON in August?!?!? Oh. My. God.)

Thank you to my cousin Ali for taking gorgeous pictures at my race.  She’s legit.  And hysterical.  And an all around great kid.  She takes after me.

Thank you to Dunkin Iced Coffee.  It’s Friday and I NEEDED you.  Small with skim milk and 2 sweet-n-low if you were wondering. 

Thank you to my boyfriend.  I don’t give this kid enough credit.  He puts up with a lot on a regular basis.  (I am a HUGE pain in the you-know-what.)  Last night, he brought me a bottle of wine for no reason whatsoever.  One word: Keeper.

Thank you to Tracie for making the best American Chopped Suey that my sister and I absolutely hoovered last night.  Comfort food at it’s finest.  Oh and for my b-e-a-utiful flowers for my race.  What a Work Mama she is.

Thank you to NDA for the best summer job I could ask for (not that I don’t love my hospital peeps!)  I get to travel all over the country, meet incredible people and dance all.summer.long.  I go to Oklahoma in exactly one week and I cannot wait.

Thank you to the gym.  I love you, enough said.

Thank you to DanceWorks Boston for having fall AND spring sessions next year.  I want to choreograph again…. pom, jazz or contemporary?

Oh.. and a big HAPPY 23rd BIRTHDAY to my best friend/college roomie Swy! 23 is the new 21…

Me & Swy

It’s Friday.. what are you thankful for?

For the Bloggers…

Last night, I made HG Tremendous Turkey Burgers and roasted cauliflower.  It was delicious, pretty to look at, and I forgot to take a picture of it.  See people, this is why I need a good camera.  Maybe if I had a fun toy I wouldn’t forget so often.  Doi.

Bloggers need a lot of things to make their blogs successful.  Good cameras, unique web set-ups, intriguing things to talk about.  If you cook like me, you need recipes that other people will want to try.  If you run, you gotta run hard.  You have to make whatever you are passionate about entertaining for other people.  And it’s not always easy.

So here are a few of my essentials for Chocolate & Wine:

1.  My iPhone – yeah, whatevs.  It’ll suffice for now as a camera.  I have this thing with nice cameras…. I break ’em.

2.  My cookbooks.  I’m gathering quite a collection.  Everything from my mom’s checkered Better Homes “New Cookbook” to Giada and Rachael to Hungry Girl to a whole book dedicated to fondue (not kidding).  I could spend hours in a bookstore flipping through the pages of a good cookbook, getting ideas for new recipes and staring at the beautiful professional pictures.  If I was good at photography, can you guess which profession I would choose?

3. Word of mouth.  When I hear about a new restaurant that other people rave about, I write the name down in my daily planner (yes, I have a not-fancy, middle-school-style planner. It’s fine.)  Later, when boyfriend and I want to try something new, I flip to the list.  Lately my list looks like this: The Antique Table, Petrillo’s, The Blue Ox, The Beverly Depot, Victoria’s Station.  Just to name a few. (I could always use more in the Boston area… hint hint.)

4. My Kitchen/The Gym:  So these are kind of self-explanatory.  I cook in my kitchen, I work out/run/dance at the gym.  I’m in both once a day (usually…I try.)  I suppose if I didn’t have a gym or a kitchen I could still work out and cook and deal with it, but I like my structure.  Sorry I’m not sorry.

5. Twitter/Facebook.  2 words: Free Publicity.  I’ve had Facebook since my senior year of high school when it was created but I was totally against Twitter until recently.  Now I’m obsessed.  Follow me @ChocoAndWine or Like Me on Facebook!

6. YOUR blogs!  Yup, that’s right.  I have about a billion of your blog sites favorited on my computer.  I spend my down time clicking through them, scoping out recipes, running tips, photos of the new baby.  I love them and can’t get enough.  You all inspire me to cook, run, write.  It’s the best feeling in the world to know that someone other than you is reading your blog.  If you have one, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  The thrill of each new comment, the regular checking of your site stats, the first time you realize people are listening.  Thanks for listening.  Really, I love you guys.

Got a blog I should check out?  Shoot me an e-mail… I’ll gladly read along!

Blogger friends, what are your essentials?  Your cookbooks?  Garmins?  Adorable new babies?  Worldly views? What makes your blog tick?

 bloglink1 bloglink2

My First Race: The Recap

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words.  That picture right there is worth a million.

As my short but sweet post yesterday told you, I. FREAKIN. DID. IT.  I finished my first 5K ever with an official time of 33:28 which was right where I wanted to be.  (I told myself I didn’t really have a goal time in mind but all kidding aside, I wanted a time between 33 and 36 minutes.) 

So, another first for me… My Race Recap!

Place    Name             No. Div/Tot     Div    Ag S City     St   Time   Pace 
224 Marie Torto     149  48/64    F2029 22 F Lynn  MA 33:38  10:50

The Highs:

The weather – sure, it was chilly when we got there but it was cloudy and breezy and I think that’s what kept me from getting overheated.

The route – I cheated and totally mapped it out ahead of time but knowing exactly where I was going and knowing how much further I had to go was great for my first race.

My t-shirt – I bought a plain BRIGHT orange t-shirt and ironed RUN on the front and MY FIRST 5K, 5-14-11 on the back.  Throughout the whole race, people were telling me what a great job I was doing and to keep going.  It was so motivating and made me want to finish strong.

Tracie’s heart monitor – It kept my time for the race so I knew how I was doing.  When I saw that I could finish in my goal time, I knew investing in a Garmin would be something I would do in the future.

The Crowd/My Entourage – So compared to huge marathons, this was a pretty small race with a little more than 350 participants but what can you expect from a small town 5K?  Nevertheless, the crowd was super supportive.  At the 1.5 mile, there was a water station with little kids holding out bathroom cups of water.  It was precious.  I grabbed one and proceeded to spill it all over me but oh well.  It was the thought that counted.  AND I may have had the biggest group there.  My mom, little sister Melissa, cousin Ali, Aunt Deb, Stephen, Claire, Tracie AND April (also known as Ariel) were all there cheering me on with signs, pom poms and a million flashing cameras.  I felt like a celebrity.

The Finish Line/Time Clock:  When I saw it from the original starting line at 33:something, I pushed.  I guess surged is the right word.  I ran hard, fist pumping over the finish line before collapsing into Stephen’s arms.  And I cried.  Whatever, I’m an emotional person, it was bound to happen.  I felt more than accomplished, I felt incredible. 


My stomach – Just as I passed the 2 mile marker, my stomach did a somersault.  There was an incline and as much as I wanted to push through it, I listened to my body and took a short break to walk.  It was either that or grossing out the other runners.  I picked it back up as I rounded the corner to the Causeway for the end of the race.  Smart move.

 The nerves – I was so nervous the night before and all morning on Saturday.  I was able to shake them off (and I didn’t get sick, thank God) but hopefully next time they will back off a bit.

Post Race:

 I spent the rest of my day RELAXING.  I ate a bagel when I got home and treated myself to some Starbucks.  Then I passed out on the couch for 2 hours only to be woken up by Stephen’s ringtone.  I pulled myself off the comfy couch, made myself pretty and headed out to celebrate this cutie’s 3rd birthday.  (And made Mickey Mouse cupcakes for it!)  We had a great time.

Thank you…

To my mom, dad, Melissa, Ali, Aunt Deb, Stephen, Claire, Tracie & April for coming to support me at my race.  To Christine, Aron, Ali and all of those other running bloggers out there who I look to for advice.  To my friends and family who believed in me.  I couldn’t have done it without you.

So what next?

I guess the big question is am I going to keep running?  My answer: Just try to stop me!  I would’ve signed up for another race on Saturday when I got home but I have to get my summer dance schedule from NDA first.  So my summer will pretty much be all dance and running. I don’t hate it.  I do know that I want to run the YMCA’s Witch City 5K in Salem this October.  And there is a 5-miler in August that I’ll try to work up to as well.

I’m unstoppable.

How was your first race?  How many have you done since then?  Have any around the Massachusetts North Shore that you’d recommend?

Categories 5K