End of summer, beginning of fall

I categorize the sad ending of summer in two different ways.  The first – when I officially finish my last NDA camp.  This happened on Saturday when I ended 2 back-to-back camps: Shen in New York and Bryant University in Rhode Island.

We work really hard at camp... That would be me as a dead staffer.

The second time I say goodbye to the summer is the first day of September (aka tomorrow.)  After Irene, there is an autumn chill in the air up here in Boston.  As much as I love the hot days of summer, I also bask in the cooler breeze of fall.

One of the best parts living up here in the fall is watching the leaves change colors.  Another is carving pumpkins, apple picking, then cooking with said pumpkins and apples.  I also love when I have lots of things to look forward to and this is definitely the time of year when it happens on a regular basis.

Monkey Trunks.  Has anyone ever heard of this place?  It’s in NH on Weirs Beach.  Apparently, it’s like a jungle gym for adults.  With harnesses.  And heights.  And nets in case you fall.  And medical waivers.  Clearly, this was not my idea.  I’m just being dragged along for the ride.  Could be fun.

School starts.  Hello Boston University COM.  You are a lovely building.  I think we’ll be great friends.  Conveniently located only .87 miles from the beautiful BU gym?  That was really nice of you to consider me like that.  Side note: When my mom asked me the other day “What types of notebooks do you want?” it brought me back to 4th grade when Anne Frank was popular.  Good ‘ol nostalgia..

10K Training.  6 weeks, 6.2 miles.  And I plan on crushing every.single.one.  (I’ll try not to throw up the process… No guarentees though.)  Follow my progress on my new 10K Training page!

Dance.  3 nights a week and I could not be happier.  Choreographing “Hello World” is both wonderful and heartbreaking.  “Sideways” hits home in more ways than one.  “Suckerpunch” and “Superbass” are high energy and just fun.  And “Crazy Crazy Insane” will be sexy as hell.  Keep an eye out of video updates.

Sweaty and happy

Boston Brunchers dinner at Lil Vinny’s Ristorante.  Good thing I check my e-mail 4543 times a day or I might have missed Renee’s invite for a free, family-style dinner at Lil Vinny’s in Somerville with the Boston Brunchers on Thursday night.  Lots of pics and a review will be coming your way!

Boston Brunchers brunch at Local 149 .  Once again, my OCD-like behavior of checking my e-mail wins.  I originally didn’t get the opportunity to be apart of this brunch but since Irene caused an uproar, they moved it and I snagged a seat!

Chocolate & Wine’s 1st Blogiversary.  I started my little blog on September 7, 2010 never knowing that people would want to read it and that I’d get so much support for it.  I am so grateful for all of the friends I’ve made and the different events I get to go to through my blog.  Thank you to everyone for making Chocolate & Wine a success.

Stephen’s 24th Birthday.  Man, he’s getting old.  I like to remind him of it everyday.  He doesn’t mind (much).  However, he is probably one of the most difficult people on the planet to buy a present for so this year, we are doing something a little different.  It includes dinner and Boston.  Hopefully it’s a success.

Yeah, we're cute like that.

Raechel’s Bacheloretty Party.  I mean, who doesn’t love dinner, drinks and dancing with a good friend who’s about to tie the knot?  I’m a big fan.

Turn that martini into a shot and we have Raechel's Bacheloretty Party.

Races.  Run for Ryan 5K on September 17th. Tufts Women’s 10K on October 19th. Witch City 5K on October 23rd.  I’m going to make it rain PRs all over those 5Ks.  And in Salem, I’m gunna do it in costume.  Watch out now.  PS – if you want to run one with me, let me know and I’ll send you the info! (Head’s up – I run slow.)

George & Julie’s Wedding.  After a long 2-year engagement, my cousin George is marrying his fiance, Julie.  Seriously, she could not be more right for him.  And of course, we can expect lots of crying from this girl right here.  Damn emotions.

My Sister’s 21st Birthday.  Finally.  She’s kept me waiting long enough.  Now we can have some real big kid fun.

Halloween.  Candy, costumes, parties… enough said.

That takes us through October.  I also plan on having my first giveaway for my blog’s 1st anniversary.  Lots of people right now are doing “Favorite Things” giveaways and I’m jumping right on that bandwagon.  If you want in, check back around the 7th!   Until then, follow me on Twitter for updates – @ChocoAndWine.

I wanna know… What are you looking forward to most this fall?  Any suggestions for what to put in my “Favorites” giveaway?

My Running To-Do List

Since it looks like I will be doing a lot more running in the upcoming months (!!!), I have lots of things to do that all revolve around my new hobby.

#149 .. My first 5K

First, buy new sneaks.  This is so important because I honestly don’t remember when I bought the pink Champions that I’m running in now.  I know, so bad.  I plan on making a trip to the New England Running Company and getting professionally fit for rockin’ running sneakers.

Research GU.  I read lots of running blogs (like ChristineEmilyAron and Ali… just to name a few) and I’m always hearing about this GU stuff.  Apparently, it gives you extra energy and calories when you run longer distances.  There are gels, chomps, jelly beans and I want to try them all.

Make a schedule.  During my 5K training, I was much more accountable when I knew exactly when I was training.  For the Tufts Women 10K, I plan on posting my schedule everywhere, here included so y’all can track my progress.

Get jacked.  Okay, not jacked.  But I would like to be more toned.  And since my legs will be doing lots of work, the rest of my body needs to be equally fit.  I used to think that being a skinny twig was all that mattered.  In a much healthier mindset, I now believe that muscles = sexy, healthy and happy.

Run outside more.  Merr, I suck at this.  I like the treadmill and I find it much easier to run when I am on one.  There are no forces to deal with (rain, temperature, wind, etc.).  In reality, races are not run inside.  I need to stop being a wimp and get my butt outside.

Cross-train consistently.  This one is a little easier for me because I dance three nights a week and have no problem mixing up my cardio workouts with classes at the gym.  Nevertheless, more sweat never hurts.

Keep up the good eating.  More Weight Watchers please.  Lose another 10 pounds? Count me in.

Invest in a Garmin.  A simple Garmin Forerunner 110 will do.  But, since sneaks come before fancy gadgets, I’ll keep it on the wish list for now.  Anyone have one I can borrow for my upcoming races?  I’ll wipe the sweat off of it when I’m done, I promise.

Take more risks.  Sign up for a 10K… check.  Start running hills…. fail.  I can’t run flat forever.  “I think I can, I think I can…”

Be more confident.  Running is hard for me.  I have a love-hate relationship with it.  It is not something I am naturally good at and sometimes, I have to force myself to do it.  But I aim to be one of those people who say to their friends, “I got in an awesome 5 mile run this morning” or “I can’t go out; I have a long run this weekend” or “I need pasta.. I’m carbo-loading for my half tomorrow.”  I know, in time, I will be.

After my first 5K... best feeling in the world.

I want to know…. What’s on your running and/or fitness to-do list?  What types of sneaks should I look into at for running long distance?  Runner friends, what am I missing from my list/what else should I research?

Happy Things

It’s Friday… the best day of the week!  Many happy things going on lately.

Grad school starts in 3 weeks.  I’m excited and nervous.  I won’t be all alone; one of the guys who went to my high school also got into my program, so at least I’ll have one friend.  Nevertheless, the nerves are definitely there.

DanceWorks Boston is back in action.  I’m in 5 routines and could not be happier that I get to dance 3 nights a week.  It keeps me sane, the show is going to be out of this world and I’ve met some great friends through it.  And my piece is going to be unreal, just saying.

I ran 3.1 miles yesterday at a 9:50 pace.   My first 5K pace was around 10:50 min/mile, so I was thrilled to get through the same distance today, 3 months later, a whole minute per mile faster.  I felt great doing it and I was super sweaty at the end.  Win.

I have 2 more 5Ks and my first 10K coming up.  Chelmsford, Salem and finally, the Tufts Women 10K in Boston.  Obviously I still have more training to do for the 10K, but I think I’ll be able to pull it off.  P.S. If you’d like to be my running buddy for any of these, please let me know!

I plan on running a half marathon before next spring.  Yes, you heard me correctly – a half marathon.  13.1 miles.  I considered the Cape Cod Half at the end of October but at the moment, it’s not in the cards.  I have some awesome training plans and lots of support thanks to my runner friends.  A half is definitely happening within the next year.  I currently have my eye on the 2012 Great Bay Half Marathon in Newmarket, NH.  We’ll see.

I made a kickass dinner last night.  Chicken breasts stuffed with a spinach, low fat ricotta cheese and pancetta mixture, spiced corn-on-the-cob and broccoli.  Anything with spinach and cheese just calls my name.

Colorful = Healthy

I’ve lost 10 pounds.  Thanks Weight Watchers, you really work!

I want to know… what’s happy in your life?

Weekend Recap

Yes, I know it’s Wednesday.

But after I threw a blogging curveball and had a guest-post-filled Monday, I want to tell you about my amazing weekend, which started last Thursday night.

Earlier last week, boyfriend asked me if I would be interested in going to the Patriots game on Thursday night.  Wait, the opening Pats game at Gillette, aka the start of football season?  Of course I want to go.  Duh.  Oh, and the seats are 24 rows up from the field?  Can I take my best friend too?


When Thursday night rolled around, three of us (myself, boyfriend and Alyse) headed to Foxboro for the game.  After getting beer (our number 1 priority the second we got through security), we found out seats.

Check out those Pats shirts.

Many beers later, the Pats dominated the Jaguars 47-12 and we left the game very happy (and maybe even a little buzzed.)

Check out those seats!

For my first ever Pats game, I would say it was wildly successful.

The next night, Friday night, meant one thing: Cooking.

As my good friend and fellow blogger, Megan, quotes “So you know how some people say they need retail therapy? I often need cooking therapy.”  That pretty much hits the nail on the head.

I knew I wanted to try a recipe I haven’t tackled yet.  I also wanted something I have been craving for a while.  A few months ago, I went to a restaurant in Boston called Cafeteria and ordered their veggie burger.  Ever since then, I have been determined to recreate it.  On Friday night, I got pretty close.

Black Bean Burgers with Goat Cheese, Arugula & Chipolte Mayo

Chipolte Mayo
(Adapted from Bobby Flay)

1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1 TB adobo sauce (from the can)
Squeeze of lime juice
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth.

Black Bean Burgers
(Adapted from Sandra Lee)

1/2 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/3 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained, divided
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
4-6 hamburger rolls, if desired
4-6 TB goat cheese

Heat a skillet on the stove to medium-low.

In a food processor, combine onion, garlic and bell pepper until finely chopped.  Add 1 can of black beans, egg, parsley, basil and red pepper and pulse to combine.  (The mixture will be slightly liquid-y.)

Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl.  Add the remaining can of black beans and the breadcrumbs.  Season with salt and pepper and mix well until thoroughly combined.

Divide into 4-6 portions, depending on how big you want your burgers to be.  Place in the warmed skillet coated with a thin layer of oil and cook about 4-6 minutes per side or until heated through.

Place burger on toasted hamburger half.  Spread chipotle mayo (as much as you like, but be careful – there’s a definite kick to it!) on the top half and place arugula leaves on top.  Spread about a tablespoon of goat cheese directly on the bean burger.  Place mayo/arugula-ed half on cheesy burger and enjoy!

Is it weird to crave veggie burgers? Maybe...

 The next item on the cooking agenda?  Meringue cookies.  Simple, melt-in-your-mouth, I could eat 50 in one sitting, meringue cookies.  They took a little longer than I expected, but were delicious, airy and the perfect thing to bring to my aunt’s drinking party casual get-together later that night.

Meringue Cookies

3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (I accidently put in 3/4 tsp.  They came out good anyway, but I don’t advice doing this.)
3/4 cup gradulated sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Place egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat eggs on high speed until you can no longer see the bottom of the bowl, about 6 minutes or until the foam can hold soft peaks.

With the speed still on high, gradually add the sugar until the egg whites hold stiff peaks.  Then, beat in the vanilla extract.

Transfer egg white mixture to a piping back or a plastic storage bag with the tip snipped off.  Pipe swirled kisses on prepared baking sheet and place in oven.  Bake for an hour and ten minutes with the oven door completely shut.  Seriously, don’t open it.  Not even to peek.  Even the slightest change in temperature while baking meringues can cause them to break.  After an hour and ten minutes, the cookies should be slightly browned and dry.  If you pick one up and the middle is still wet, continue to bake in 5 minute intervals until done.

Shiny pillows of sugary goodness

After my cooking and baking excursion on Friday afternoon, I rounded the night off with some quality time at my aunt’s house and drank copious amounts of red wine.  Solid Friday overall.

Saturday marked a very special occasion:  the day the first of my best friends got married.

I met Amy in college and we became close friends while being involved in school musicals together.  On Saturday, in a beautiful Catholic church in Nashua, NH, she said “I Do” to the love of her life in a gorgeous white dress.  The second my friends and I saw her, we all started crying.  It was a beautiful ceremony.

Saying "I Do"

And then, we partied.

College friends at the wedding reception
Maid of Honor, Groom and Bride

 She and her new husband are now honeymooning in the White Mountains and I hope they are having a fabulous time.  Congrats Amy & Alex!

On Sunday morning, after a late night and many glasses of wine, Stephen and I headed back to Massachusetts so he could go to work and I could go to the mall with my parents, during tax-free weekend, to buy my first Mac laptop.  Even though I’m not computer savvy at all, it has rapidly become my favorite new toy.  It needs a name… suggestions?

Sunday night, I cooked again.  I know, I was on a cooking roll this weekend.  And a roll was exactly what I made.  Craving more of my Friday night goat cheese and arugula combo, I sliced a large eggplant, grilled it, spread goat cheese on it, pressed on some arugula leaves, rolled them up and together, my father and I devoured each one. 

Mmm... eggplant

After a wonderful weekend, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.  And then I took a kickass muscle class at the gym and the new season of DanceWorks Boston started on Monday night. 


How was your weekend?  Are any of your best friends getting married?  And what do you think of veggie burgers?

Guest Post: Cooking for Beginners

A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from a lovely woman named Barbara.  A frequent reader of my blog and experienced writer herself, she asked if I would consider letting her write a guest post for Chocolate & Wine.  I happily agreed and after reading some of her work, decided that she would be the perfect person to write a “How-To” post for beginner cooks.  It is insightful, includes recipes and helpful videos, and can help any cook no matter what your skill level is.

Thanks for posting Barbara!!

Cooking 101: The Basics for Beginners

This guest post is contributed by Barbara Jolie, who writes for online classes.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: barbara.jolie876@gmail.com.

Cooking—while some have a natural gift for it, others simply improve with trial and error. If your first attempt at cooking was an utter disaster and you’re hoping to be part of the latter group, a good place to start improving your culinary skills is to do some light studying. No worries— quizzes and exams will not be administered, but brushing up on your culinary vocabulary is great way to make sure that you follow your recipe-of-choice correctly. After all, what good is reading a recipe if you don’t know what you need to do to make sure the meal comes out right? With that said, below are some explanations of common phrases and key words that pop up in most basic recipes and a list of supplies every kitchen should have to execute. Make sure to check out some simple semi-home made recipes found at the bottom of the article as well and put your freshly new knowledge to the test.

Must-Know Phrases/Key Terms

Sauté: This French term can be used when referring to both meats and vegetables. All it means is to cook the item of choice in a small sautéing pan (a skillet can be used in its place) until the meat is no longer pink or

Cook Vegetables Until Tender: This phrase is used to describe the state where a fork can easily insert into the once-raw vegetable with ease.

Cook Until Translucent: This phrase is typically used whenever onions are involved. All this simply means is to cook the onions until they become more transparent and are no longer a deep white or deep yellow—they should look more “see through.”  Other words associated with onions and other vegetables include “chopped,” which are large cut square pieces of onion; “minced“, which are tiny miniscule cut pieces of onion; or “sliced” which are cut pieces that will appear like rings.

Brown Meat: This phrase is typically used when referring to ground meats such as hamburger or turkey. This means to cook the meat until it is no longer pink and bloody. To make sure that your ground meat gets cooked and “browns” properly, break apart the meat with a wooden spoon so that is distributes into small round pieces as it cooks.

Beat Eggs: This phrase is simply asking you to briskly stir the egg yolk and white together using a fork or whisk until the two components are thoroughly incorporated into one runny yellow mixture. Eggs must be mixed in a separate bowl by themselves to be considered “beaten.” To get a better idea of how it’s done, check out this video.

Stir Frequently: This means to repeatedly use a spoon to make sure all of the ingredients in the pan/pot are well-mixed, “Frequently” is typically about every 3 minutes or so. This instruction is usually given so that ingredients don’t stick to the bottom or sides of the pan.  

Must-Have Kitchen Utensils/ Equipment: 

Ovenproof Frying Skillet

Medium-Sized Sauce Pan

Large Pot

Baking Dish; 8 inch square and 12-inch square

Mixing Bowl

Cutting Board


Measuring Cup and Measuring Spoons

Wooden Spoon, Spatula, Large Knife, Whisk

Semi-Homemade Easy Recipes for Beginners

Potato, Bacon and Green Onion Frittata
Prefect for breakfast or brunch, this easy-to-make dish is a great meal to test your elementary cooking skills.  Omit the bacon for a vegetarian version. (Serves 4)

6 slices of bacon
1 cup of Shredded Potatoes (can be purchased in the frozen isle)
1/2 cup of chopped green onion
6 eggs, beaten
1 cup of finely shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook bacon in an ovenproof nonstick skillet until it is crispy (add no oil, bacon will make its own). Take the bacon out and place on a plate. Dab with a paper towel to remove excess oil. Drain excess oil from skillet. Chop cooked bacon into chunky pieces. Add chopped bacon back into skillet and add potatoes and green onion. Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes or until potatoes are crisp, stirring frequently. Stir in eggs. Sprinkle one layer of shredded cheese on top of egg mixture. Cover the skillet with appropriate lid and place in heated oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until the center is thoroughly cooked. To check this, insert a fork directly in the middle of the frittata; if no uncooked egg remains on the fork when you take it out, it is cooked.

Creative license for image here.

Saucy Lemon Pepper Chicken 
Prefect for lunch or dinner, this great dish only takes about 15 minutes to make and requires no complicated marinating yet still has a burst of flavor. And if it doesn’t ( or you accidently burn the meat) the special sauce will disguise it. (Serves 4)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 ¼ of lemon pepper seasoning
4 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of sliced mushrooms
¾ chicken broth
1 tablespoon of flour
¼ cup of sour cream
1 teaspoon of minced parsley

Directions: Sprinkle chicken with lemon pepper seasoning, making sure that all areas are covered. In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Place the chicken in the skillet and sauté for about 10 minutes on each side, or until the inside is not longer pink.  Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside on a different plate.  Add remaining butter to skillet and sauté mushrooms for about 2 to 3 minutes. While cooking, whisk broth and flour in a mixing bowl until all of the lumps are gone. Pour liquid over cooked mushrooms. Bring the liquid to a rapid boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 3 minutes.  Add sour cream and stir. Add chicken back into skillet, making sure to spoon sauce over chicken. Sprinkle parsley on top of chicken and serve immediately.

A Change in the Line Up

I’ve contemplated this post for a while. 

I believe that change is a good thing.  Healthy, natural, it’s what helps us grow up and defines who we are.  I welcome change.

For the most part.

I think change is easier when you know that other people support you, adapt to whatever is changing about you, sometimes changing a bit of themselves as well.

That’s where you all come in.

I want to talk about a specific change; namely, the genre of this blog.

It’s kind of happening already.  During the summer, I spend more time dancing than eating.  And in reality, once September rolls around in a few short weeks, there will not be much time in my schedule for cooking.  As my dad would say, “Marie, school comes first.”  Thanks Dad.  (He’s been saying that since I was in pre-school.)  But he’s right.  Between grad school, dance, work… cooking won’t come daily.

While food and cooking is a huge part of my life and one of my favorite pastimes, I enjoy an abundance of other things as well.  With my re-found love of the gym and working out, my passion for dance and my aspiring running, along with my busy life in general, I am finding more and more that I wish to tell you about.  And as long as it’s cool with all of you, I’ll continue to keep this slight change in my blog’s line up.

Will I be abandoning cooking/baking completely?  Absolutely not.

Will it happen a little less often?  Sadly, yes.

In turn, I hope to turn this blog into a jack-of-all-trades forum where I talk about whatever comes to my mind.  Sometimes it will include food, especially the occasional baked goods I will be providing my DanceWorks friends.  It will also feature my fitness/running endeavors, school and work updates and of course, dance.

So I pose the ultimate question to you, my readers….is this all okay with you?  Will you still find time in your busy lives to read me if I talk about cooking a bit less and life a bit more?

I would love your feedback and appreciate all of your support.  Thank you so much for giving me a reason to write and keep my life documented in Chocolate & Wine.  This blog is dedicated to you.

Good staffer, bad blogger – Part 2

Greetings from Towson, Maryland, Louisville, Kentucky, Long Island, New York, Branford, Connecticut … home.  Wait, what?

I know I’ve been away for a long time again.. When you are on NDA time, it’s almost as if real time has stopped, the rest of the world passes at a glance and not one staffer could confidently tell you what day of the week it is.

The past 3 weeks have been nothing short of ridiculously busy.  Here is the Sparknotes version.

3 Saturdays ago (the day after my birthday), I pulled myself out of bed at 5am to catch and early flight to Louisville, Kentucky.  After a much later night than I had anticipated, I was cranky, a total bi-otch.  The flight was originally delayed a half hour and when we finally got on the plane, the captain informed us that we would be sitting in the plane for an additional 2 hour delay before embarking on the 2.5 hour flight to Chicago, IL.  Needless to say, I missed my connecting flight and had to take a much later one.

However, despite my ill-willed travel, I arrived in Louisville and was greeted by NDA staff friends that I had come to know and love from previous years/camps.  I dove headfirst into a 5-day, very large camp with 10 other amazing staffers and came out alive and happy.  Slightly worse for wear, maybe, but happy nonetheless.

Louisville Staff 2011

The last day of my Louisville travels marked the first day of my next camp: Adelphi on Long Island, NY.

Of course, American Airlines decided to be difficult once again and I was delayed in Louisville for an extra hour and a half, therefore missing my connection in Chicago.  I’ll just say it now: I hate the Chicago Airport.  Sorry Chicago friends (if there are any out there), but your airport stinks.

Rant over.

I made it to Long Island and met up with another rock star staff.  Together, we pulled together our routines, staff assignments and inventory (broken trophies and all..) and headed out for our first night meeting at none other than 16 Handles.

Yes, friends, guilt-free indulgence at it’s finest.  Then we laughed a lot.

I want some now. Sigh.
This is what we call the "Awkward Starfish". Embrace it.

Unfortunately, Adelphi was only a 3 day camp rather than 4 days so before I knew it, awards had come and gone, applications had been given out and I had to say goodbye to one of my favorite buddy teams of all time.  Specific details aside, it was easy to become close with this team and when they gave me one of their camp t-shirts and signature heart pins at the end of Day 3, it took all I had not to start crying hysterically.

Adelphi Buddies ❤

I cry a lot, it’s whatever.

When I got home, I proceeded to unpack to repack, saw Stephen for about .02 seconds before falling asleep and didn’t wake up until the early afternoon hours the next day.

Keep in mind, that day was my only day off.

After repacking, having lots of coffee and making myself look half-decent, I left for DanceWorks Boston auditions in the Prudential Center.  Apparently, the travel gods didn’t like me in the month of July because a trip into Boston via train that should take not longer than 30 minutes took me a hour and 45 minutes.  I showed up flustered but somehow, miraculously on time.  Just in time, in fact, to hear Lisa, our director, introduce herself, the company, the day and our first showcase piece: mine.

I got up, said my shpeal (spelling?) about my piece, cried halfway through (of course), and did a small demo of the routine.  All in all, it went well.  I watched the rest of the routines (9 total), decided which ones I wanted to audition for (two) and which others I would sign up for (six).  I held my auditions, auditioned for the other two I hope to be in and then got Pinkberry with a few of the girls.

Oh, and I made cookies.  I forgot that part. Pretzel M&M cookies, recipe courtesy of Brandy’s Baking.

There were none left.  Win for the baker.

DanceWorks Boston Auditions!

After auditions, I returned home to finish packing, get some last minute travel details out of the way and fell asleep around 11pm.  Just the way I like it.

Monday morning, I was back at the airport, this time to catch a flight to Wisconsin, a state I have never been to.  And I have to say, Frontier Airlines makes everything so easy.  Nice people, no delays, arrive on time… makes Marie a happy camper staffer.

A short drive with my Head Instructor and 1 other staff member brought us to the small town of Whitewater, Wisconsin, where I was clearly not in Boston anymore. Seriously — it was like a set of a (mid-)Western movie.

Am I wrong about the movie? Can't you just picture a tumble weed blowing by?

Although I didn’t know the staff as well as those I have worked with at previous camps, we clicked minutes after we met, breezing through our Day 0 to-do lists, grabbing dinner at an adorable (and cheap!) little restaurant a few blocks away and sweating profusely in our non-air-conditioned dorm. (Oh, the gym isn’t AC-ed either. I think I lost about 5 pounds of water while there.)

Whitewater proved to be a great time.  My buddy teams were wonderful and I feel like our staff worked great together.  Sure, they took a staff picture without me, but I’m sure they can crop me in!

Whitewater Varsity Buddies!
Whitewater JV buddies!

A few days later, I drove down to the small town of Branford, Connecticut…details aside, it was the wrong location.  With only one other staffer, coincidentally the same one I convinced to apply to NDA, we would have had a small 3-day home camp ahead of us.  That usually means a 9-4 day, comfy hotel beds and more time to learn my routines (!)  Due to a mix up, I came home a little earlier than planned, but hey, it happens.

Branford staff on the way home... but not without a froyo stop first!

I have 2 camps left this summer but not for a week and a half.  They are back to back, one in New York, one in Rhode Island.  Until then, I have quite a to-do list in front of me.  Including LOTS and LOTS of blogging.

Now that we are all caught up, I promise to have more pictures when I can get my camera to work.  I plan on doing a full summer recap right before I go back to school (ugh… did those words really just appear on my screen?) and there will be many pictures to accompany it.

Until then, I want to know: What’s the best and worst travel experience you’ve ever had?  Did you get stranded somewhere or was a flight attendant particularly nice to you?  Which airlines are your most and least favorite?  And finally – what is the best part of your summer thus far?

PS – I plan on hosting a personal giveaway when I get home (for good).  Anybody interested?  Shoot some ideas my way!