A look back at 2013

I know I’m not the only person who said this, but 2013 flew by. It was an incredible year for me and I’m a little sad to say goodbye to it. To honor it, I’m looking back on all of the amazing (and sometimes sad) things that happened during it, complete with lots of photos!

2013 started with this guy. At the time, we had been together a whopping 5 months, but I already knew he was a different kind of special.

The first moments of 2013!
The first moments of 2013!

I continued to work for Boston.com as a sports production intern, covering everything from football to hockey, including the Bruins playoff run. Watching games from the TD Garden 9th floor Press Loge is something I will never forget.

I miss these passes.
I miss these passes.
I also miss this view...
I also miss this view…

I went to my first Muse concert and loved every second of it.

May or may not have had many beers at this concert.
May or may not have had many beers at this concert.

covered the Boston Marathon and left the finish line minutes before the bombings. Thinking about that day still shakes me to the core.

<3
Boston Strong

I ran 1 single road race: the Beach-to-Beach 5K in Marblehead for my third year in a row. Not my best, not my worst, but my only. Running and I weren’t close this year apparently.

Nice bright red face there.
Nice bright red face there.

I danced in my 5th DanceWorks Boston show and choreographed my 5th piece, “World Spins Madly On“.

My beautiful dancers.
My beautiful dancers.

I ended the internship I loved on a high note and accepted my first full-time “big girl” job offer a few weeks later with premium chocolate company, Lindt & Sprungli, working in their USA headquarters in Stratham, New Hampshire. Yes, there is chocolate around me all day, every day.

Lindt USA.. where it always smells like chocolate.
Lindt USA.. where it always smells like chocolate.

BUT I managed to not gain weight in the 6+ months I’ve worked here. Happy dance.

We knew each other a whole year… and that same weekend, I shot a gun for the first time. Irony?

<3
Nice knowing ya for a whole year!
Pretty cool even though I didn't hit anything.
Pretty cool even though I didn’t hit a single disk thingy.

4th of July was complete with this awesome ‘Merica flag cake.

I can't wait to make this again!
I can’t wait to make this again!

I turned 25 in true 25-year-old fashion. On a party bus with my friends.

Party bus!
Party bus!

I moved to a different state (New Hampshire) and in with this guy.

Putting in contact paper like a pro on our first night!
Putting in contact paper like a pro on our first night!
So cute & crafty. Salt dough!
So cute & crafty. Salt dough with help from Sean’s mom!

And celebrated being together a whole year.

Roses. My fave.
Roses. My fave.
#mush
He’s my fave too. #mush

We road-tripped to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to visit Sean’s sister Chelsea and her boyfriend Scott. And had an unbelievable time.

Only 4 more hours to go ...
Only 4 more hours to go …

I went on my first real business trip to Savannah, Georgia.

View from my hotel room.
View from my hotel room.

I dressed as a shark to Sean’s Sharknado for Halloween.

"You are the shark to my Sharknado."
“You are the shark to my Sharknado.”

We went to the MSPCA at Nevin Farms’ “Cat Adopt-a-thon”, rescued a beautiful 3-year old tiger-striped tabby, named her Sophie, and fell in love with her.

How could you not love that little face?
How could you not love that little face?

My family went to my cousins’ new house in Maine to celebrate Thanksgiving for the first time. Many hours of football and eating commenced.

My cooking and baking marathon for Thanksgiving! 2 pumpkin pies & honey oat loaf later...
My cooking and baking marathon for Thanksgiving! 2 pumpkin pies & honey oat loaf later…

I got into the Christmas spirit early with twinkle lights and an American Girl doll Christmas tree. Next year, it’ll be much bigger.

Twinkle lights & snow
Twinkle lights & snow

I had a wonderful Christmas.

Traditional Christmas Eve photo!
Traditional Christmas Eve photo! Also – I’m short.

And finally, we dressed up for New Years Eve (another big shout out to Sean’s mom for costuming us!) and attended a Gatsby-themed party. (And suffered no hangover the next day!)

Circa 1920s for NYE!
Circa 1920s for NYE! Hair courtesy of my new hair wand curling toy.

2013 was fast and fun for me, with so many memories, I probably missed a few. I danced, I laughed, I cried, I loved. I could not be more thankful or happy in the place I am in right now.

Cheers to you, 2014. You have some big shoes to fill.

Life Lately

Once again, it’s been over a month since my last post. I feel like 2013 is flying and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to slow it down. And since my last post, lots of things have been happening.

The DanceWorks Boston Season 6 show was a huge success and I got amazing feedback on my piece, “World Spins Madly On.

My beautiful dancers. Couldn't have asked for a more incredible group!
My beautiful dancers. Couldn’t have asked for a more incredible group!

I got a job (insert a million exclamation points and a massive sigh of relief here.)  More details to come (and maybe a giveaway..?) but I am loving my new career as a Social Specialist at Lindt & Sprungli Chocolate USA. And despite my commute that is roughly an hour each way, I have plans on moving up to New Hampshire, just over the Massachusetts border to make it a little easier. Additional details on that will also be coming shortly.

I work at a chocolate factory... I really can't complain.
I work at a chocolate factory… I really can’t complain.

I’ve known this guy for over a year. It’s crazy to think how fast a year has gone by. I feel like it was yesterday that we met at our friends’ wedding and three short days later I was boarding a plane for 7 weeks in London. I wouldn’t change anything about this past year with him.

<3

I shot my first gun. A semi-automatic shotgun to be precise. I had so much adrenaline pumping through me, I was shaking after I shot it. I didn’t actually hit anything, but that just means there’s lots of room for improvement. And it seems that Sean has also caught the shooting bug so I foresee some shooting ranges and target practice  in our future.

And yes, those things do kick you in the shoulder when you fire them. In case you were wondering.
And yes, those things do kick you in the shoulder when you fire them. In case you were wondering.

My 4th of July looked like this:

Amazing right? Here's where I found the tutorial. Totally worth the extra effort. http://www.glorioustreats.com/2011/06/4th-of-july-flag-cake.html
Amazing right? Here’s where I found the tutorial. Totally worth the extra effort.
How awesome are our shirts though?
How awesome are our shirts though?
Love me some Picstich.
Love me some Pic Stitch.

I played laser tag, bought a bridesmaid dress, and had all sorts of fun bonding with my friend Sam’s bridal party. June 7, 2014 is going to be insane.

I can't wait for next June.
I can’t wait for next June.

My 25th birthday is in less than 2 weeks.  Um, what? Wasn’t I just in Paris turning 24?

My 24th Birthday in Paris... #takemeback
My 24th Birthday in Paris… #takemeback

So that’s a quick look of what’s going on around here. What big plans do you have this summer? Have you ever made that flag cake before? I’d love to know your feedback.

Boston Strong

I wasn’t going to write this post.

I debated over whether or not to write it. But two days post-tragedy, as life begins to get back to normal, I, like many others working at that finish line, have a story.

I woke up at 3AM Monday morning to get ready for a full day of coverage for Boston.com, beginning at the starting line in Hopkington and ending the day at the finish line on Boylston Street. I bundled up for a chilly morning, completing my outfit with my official 2013 Boston Marathon Adidas jacket that was 2 sizes too big. But I didn’t care. I was too excited.

A quick selfie in Hopkington
A quick selfie in Hopkington

 I left my house at 4am, coffee in hand, and made my way to Brighton to meet up with my coworker, Steve Silva, a Boston.com sports producer. You may have seen him in the media for capturing this video. Surreal, I know. (He’s fine, thank goodness!)

We got to Hopkington around 6AM, checking out the scene and getting ready for live shots for the website at 7, 8 and 9.  I even met the young man from my hometown who was going to walk the whole marathon on stilts to raise money for Shriners Hospital. The weather was warming up and it was becoming the perfect day for the Boston Marathon.

Steve and I went back to Brighton around 10AM to pick up his car. Originally, I had planned on driving with him, but decided to take my own at the last minute. After getting into the city, we found the media center and had lunch before heading out to the course. Steve had different credentials than me so he went in through the gate to stand just behind the finish line and capture video.  I made my way to the media seating in the grandstand to cover the end of the elite women’s race.

Here’s the video I took of Rita Jeptoo winning the Boston Marathon for the women. Keep an eye on the flags she passes on the left as she finishes her race. They will look familiar.

I also got this shot of Shalane Flanagan, who placed fourth for women.

US Olympic Marathoner Shalane Flanagan
US Olympic Marathoner Shalane Flanagan

I wanted to get post-race interviews with Shalane and Kara Goucher, who finished a few minutes after her, so I left the grandstand area and went back behind the finish line.

US Olympians Shalane Flanagan with Kara Goucher and Goucher's son.
US Olympians Shalane Flanagan with Kara Goucher and Goucher’s son.

I even got to meet running royalty, Joan Benoit Samuelson. Joan is a previous winner of the Boston Marathon and the winner of the first ever Women’s Olympic Marathon in 1984.

Running greatness right here.
Running greatness right here.

Just after 2pm, I saw a familiar face in the sea of race finishers, my friend and director of DanceWorks Boston, Lisa! She was obviously exhausted and mentioned cramping during the race, but pulled off her second Boston Marathon in just over 3:33, her Boston PR. We got her to the medical tent so she could rest. The next time I would talk to her was when we connected to make sure we were both okay.

PR happiness!
PR happiness!

The remaining hour flew by in a whirlwind. Around 2:40, I decided to go back into the grandstand to shoot a few more photos of the finishers coming it just after the 4-hour mark. But just as I got up to the sidewalk, I decided against the grandstand, turned left back towards the media center and decided to get my car, go home and relax after a successful day of live blogging instead.

I have no idea why I made that decision. But thank God I did.

About ten minutes later, I was two levels down in the parking garage under the media center when I heard a loud boom. I didn’t think much of it, thinking it might’ve been a celebration cannon going off at the Sox game at Fenway down the street. I’m surprised they even let me leave the garage, as they were beginning to lock down everything in that area. As police cruisers rushed past me with their sirens blaring, my phone began to buzz with phone calls and text messages asking if I was okay. Thankfully I called my mom and dad first because they hadn’t heard anything about the explosions and would’ve panicked if they had heard the news before hearing from me.

I kept it together until I got home and saw the news. The fact that I was right there, that I almost went back up into the grandstand, that my coworker was still there, that my day could’ve unfolded much differenly… was all a little more than I could handle. I got all of my crying out over the next few hours, talked to my family, Sean, and my friends and made sure everyone knew I was safe.

Now two days later, I feel okay. I’m sure many people who were in the area or could’ve been there who left early are feeling the same way. But then again, even if you weren’t there, we are all hurt by the same vicious acts that tried to destroy a city that we’ve always felt so safe in. But the words people have written about how strong Boston is, the images, the strength will carry the city through. I hope they find whoever did this as soon as possible.

Either way, Boston will pull together. Because that’s the type of people Bostonians are.

Photo by Bill Greene, Boston Globe Staff
Photo by Bill Greene, Boston Globe Staff

A Quick Update

Things have been rolling along here, just puttering through this winter that suddenly got 10 times worse when Blizzard Nemo decided to dump close to 30 inches of snow on Massachusetts last weekend, but hey, shoveling is part of life too.

Snowball fight BEFORE the storm actually started.
Snowball fight BEFORE the storm actually started.

Now that things are cleaned up a bit, here’s what’s been going on lately.

My wonderful boyfriend turned 27. Or as I like to remind him: the end to his mid-twenties and the almost-approaching-30 years. Needless to say, that doesn’t necessarily thrill him. But I did get him Bruins tickets for an April game against the Islanders and made this…

#masterpiece
#masterpiece

… so he was pretty happy.  I found this beauty on Pinterest (follow me!) and followed this recipe to put it together. I highly recommend it even though it was a lengthy process.

I successfully made Honey Oat Bread from scratch.

photo-38

I’ve only attempted a yeast bread one other time and this one was way better. I usually shy away from recipes that call for 3+ hours of resting/rising time just because I usually don’t have that much time and I’m not very patient. But on a cold day with nothing to do and a lonely packet of instant yeast in the cabinet, why not?  I recommend this recipe.

– My friends threw me a surprise Master’s graduation party…. and I had absolutely no idea. My best friends and dance friends were there and I got presents and drank (a lot of) Asti in celebration. It was wonderful.

This is my "What the hell is going on here?" face.
This is my “What the hell is going on here?” face.

– DanceWorks Boston Season 6 started!

I’m in 4 routines this time around, and choreographing my 5th DWB piece to “World Spins Madly On” by the Weepies.  I’ll take a group photo at our next rehearsal.

– I’m going to host my 2nd giveaway soon!

Freshly baked cookies may or may not be included … don’t miss it!

Tell me! What’s new in your life? What would you like to see as a theme for a giveaway that includes cookies? 

Recapping 2012… A Year I Never Expected

I had much of this post written before December 17th. I am going to leave what was written originally as is but add a little something up here first to give a little more context to my 2012…. I feel this post is better late than never.

On December 17th, my grandmother passed away. It was sudden, unexpected, and devastating. Mere days before Christmas, a fatal heart attack that no one saw coming was ultimately to blame. Surprisingly, I managed to keep myself together for most of what followed, only breaking down in the hardest moments, trying with everything I had in me to keep my tears hidden.

My Nuna was the most generous person I’ve ever known. Anything I ever wanted, she was willing to supply. She was the reason our Christmas tree had unnecessary but always welcome mounds of presents under it on Christmas Day, why I always had an “emergency $20” in my wallet (that was almost ALWAYS spent on non-emergent things) and why I had a life-size princess Barbie doll (remember those things?!)

She was also stubborn, but in the kind of way that made you thankful for traditional things, like the exact right way to make a turkey on Thanksgiving and why, to this day, I sit closer to my steering wheel in the car than is really necessary because “it’ll protect me.” No, it will probably make things worse, but things stick when you’re a little kid.

I miss my Nuna more than I can possibly say. I am thankful that I had her for almost all of 2012, but 2013 and on will not be the same without her.

My little sister, Nuna and me... Little kid fro and all.
My little sister, Nuna and me… Little kid fro and all.

Now, onto what I had written before. Happy New Years everyone!

Remember when I wrote the post, “2012 Will be Great?”  Well, it was.

But not before it was absolutely horrible.

2012 became a year that I never expected. Last December, I had my whole life planned out. A special relationship to me ended and I thought things would never be the same.  They aren’t – they’re better. Things change, people change, and everything happens for a reason. I think I’ve finally grasped that concept.

But 2012 had many great things. Many amazing things. Allow me to tell you about them.

– I ran my first 5-miler.

First 5-miler on New Years Day 2012.
First 5-miler on New Years Day 2012.

– I ran my first 10K.

First 10K, March 2012.
First 10K, March 2012.

– I spent my summer at the London Olympics.

London2012... The best summer of my whole life.
London2012… The best summer of my whole life.

– I turned 24 on the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Happy 24th Birthday to me!
Happy 24th Birthday to me!

– I watched two of my childhood friends get married.

Photo courtesy of the Groom's Facebook page.
Photo courtesy of the Groom’s Facebook page.

– I met a guy I would get to know while I was away for 7 weeks… and fall for him… hard.

This is my boyfriend, Sean. I suppose its time for all of you to be introduced.
This is my boyfriend, Sean. I suppose its time for all of you to be introduced.

– I was in 2 DanceWorks Boston shows and choreographed 2 routines for it.

My routine, "Deadly", featuring the 7 Deadly Sins.
My routine, “Deadly”, featuring the 7 Deadly Sins.

– I finished my Master’s Degree. (FINALLY!!!!!! Master Torto has a great ring to it.)

The face of a Master.
The face of a Master. You know you’re impressed.

– I got a part-time, paid internship as a Sports Web Producer at Boston.com.

I changed in a lot of ways.

When I look back on 2012, I realized how much my life has changed and I honestly don’t think I’d change a single second of it. Even though parts of it were incredibly difficult and there were times when I wanted to give everything up and just live in my own misery, I pulled through it. I am happier than I have been in a long time.

Here’s to 2013 and everything it brings. I haven’t really made any New Year’s resolutions but here’s one: blog more. Good plan.

It’s been three months?!

Hello again!!

Apparently I took a completely unscheduled hiatus from blogging and now all of a sudden, it’s November.

I never really meant to stop blogging for all this time.  Life just got away from me there for a while.  If you’re just dying for a not-so-short-but-still-sweet recap of what’s been going on with me for the last 3 months, buckle up… you’re in for a bumpy ride.

I last left off leaving for Paris.  It was incredible.  I spent the first few minutes of my 24th birthday on the top of the lit up Eiffel Tower and it was nothing short of spectacular.  Keesa, Matt, Justin and I spent the rest of the day lounging out front of the Eiffel tower with two bottles of wine before getting on a plane back to London.

Happy 24th Birthday to me! The Eiffel Tower was my present but I couldn’t fit it on the plane home. Darn.

Fast forward a few days…the London2012 Olympics were beginning, I was knee deep in school and internship work and life was surreal.  Though stressed, I was happiest than I had been in months, partly due to completely unrelated circumstances that I will get to in a bit.

So the Olympics… yes, well, let’s just say I’ll never be able to watch them from my couch again.  Yes, I will be finding a way to get to Rio in 2016, hopefully by then I’ll be an Olympic correspondent for… something… anything.  Just get me to Rio.

Yes, that is Ryan Lochte and yes, I was that close to him. We chatted… Let’s just say its a good thing he’s an Olympic athlete cause the kid’s got rocks in his head.

So let’s back up a bit… before leaving for London I was pretty much a miserable wreck.  Long story short, my boyfriend of a very long time broke up with me.  I was blindsided, devastated and, in the midst of the worst and hardest semester of my entire life, fell completely apart.  I considered dropping out of school, I considered giving up London, I considered being a moping, miserable person for the rest of my life.  And for a few months, I was.  But I stayed in school and committed to London because let’s be real here… what was the point of throwing away the $60,000 I had already spent on my grad program and the trip of a lifetime?  There wasn’t.

I buried myself in my school work, dance and being with people who really did love me.  I cried every day, multiple times a day for weeks.  I listened to sad music, ran a lot of lonely miles and talked to anyone who would listen.  I didn’t believe it when people told me that life would get better, that there was someone out there who would love me unconditionally, someone who I was supposed to be with.  This was in March.

Dance (and dance friends make everything better.)
Best Friends. No shame.

My BU friends took the brunt of the emotional roller coaster simply because I saw them every. single. day.

This dinner was for cheering me up. I also carbo-loaded for my 10K the next day. It was awesome.

A few months went by and soon, I wasn’t crying anymore… or at least not as much.  I finished my semester with one of the highest GPAs of my entire academic career and was now looking ahead to the summer.  London: getting away, doing everything for myself, letting nothing hold me back.  And I was scared as all hell to go away for 2 months so that pretty much trumped all other emotions at the time.

This is how I get good grades. No, but really.
And Keesa was one of my roommates in London. Best matchup ever.

June rolled around and soon, I was mere days from leaving.  But before I hopped on a plane to Europe for the summer, my family and I went to the wedding of two of my very good childhood friends.  Together for 7 years, throughout high school and college, they got married in our church and had a beautiful reception on the water in Nahant.  Though slightly emotional, it was one of the best nights I had in a very long time.

Aren’t they the cutest?
Photo courtesy of Sarah’s Facebook….

I even met someone… but more about him another time.

Spoiler alert: This is where the previously mentioned “happy, unrelated circumstances” comes into play.

He seems nice…

Three days later, I boarded my plane, took off to London and went to the Olympics.

The End..

Kidding.

Is that the end of the story?  Hardly.  Let’s just say I not only got to go to the Olympics this summer, but I also got to know someone very special from 3,000 miles away.  But I’ll leave it there for now.

My Summer in London: Where I’m Living, What I’m doing

Hello again!  This time from Courtfield Gardens in Kensington.

Home Sweet Home until August 14th!

I moved into my flat on Monday after a weeklong vacation with my family.  Courtfield Gardens is a mere 25 minutes away via tube  and I quickly settled into my 3-bed room with two roomies, our own bathroom and an accessible kitchen.

It’s a lot bigger than it looks and I love it.

On Tuesday, my special topics class on the Olympics started.  Three hours a day Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and our schedule looks a little something like this:

3 weeks of class + 3 weeks of internship = 6 fast weeks

Essentially, I’m putting together a presentation about Women and the Olympics, shooting and editing a ton of video and stills, and have my first few weekends free to travel Europe and explore all that London has to offer.

Instead of sleeping after class, because let’s be real here…. I’m hardly doing any of that for one reason or another… I decided to go down to a local dance studio for an advanced contemporary class.

Not only were both the class and the instructor amazing (I was drenched in sweat within the first five minutes and could hardly move the next day), it had a familiar name making me feel right at home.

A little piece of my DanceWorks family here in London ❤

DanceWorks London… who knew?

When I got back from the class, my friends were ready to get a drink and check out some of the local nightlife.  We decided on the Courtfield Pub about 10 minutes from our place.

Me and Keesa!

The only boys in the program… they have it made.

On Wednesday, our group made the journey on the tube to West Ham to take an Olympic walking tour.

This is Pepe, our tour guide. He really enjoyed his stories but we learned a ton.

We walked for about 2 hours, learning about everything from past Olympics to how and why London was chosen over Paris for the 2012 Summer Games.  Apparently everyone thought that Paris would get it over London, including all of England, and when it was announced that Paris lost, the French didn’t take it so well.  Go figure.

To see the Games, get off at the Stratford tube station and go straight to the park. You’re welcome.

For now, the area surrounding the Olympic Park is still pretty accessible but within the next few weeks, security will tighten and getting anywhere near the entrance will be impossible without tickets or the highest security clearance.

This way to ultimate sporting glory…

See?

Big fence, very legit.

This is the viewing tower and the main Olympic arena…

Doesn’t get more badass than that.

Since it was the 4th of July on Wednesday, there was no way that we were going to not celebrate, despite the fact that we’re in England.  If anything, the irony made it that much better.  We got ready, had a drink or two, and found a bar in Covent Gardens called Roadhouse that we heard would be full of other Americans we could party with.  It was.. and we had a blast.

Future journalists of America celebrating America.

Sometimes we let Justin think he has game…

Just kidding, Justin. We love you!

Matt decided to bring the American flag along for the ride.

AMURICA.

It was, by far, the best 4th of July I’ve ever had.

Despite staying awake until an ungodly hour, we decided to dedicate the next day to being as touristy as possible.  Our solution?  The Tower of London.

Torture chambers, the Crown Jewels. Classic England.

Before going inside the fortress, we checked out the Tower Bridge, beautifully adorned with the Olympic Rings.

Breathtaking right?

Within the walls of the Tower of London, we joined a guided tour with a Beefeater.  I think we got the best one the Tower has because we learned a ton and laughed the entire way though.  He was informative, clever and knew how to keep the audience engaged.  A+ Mr. Beefeater.

Let’s be friends.

We saw the Crown Jewels, took a tour through the Torture Towers and checked out the Royal Artilleries.

The White Tower… home of devices like “The Rack”.

Sometimes Matt likes to play with ancient weapons.

That is focus.

Today included things like a gym session with Justin (who made me run a 7:30 mile to the gym and I thought I was going to die), shopping on Oxford Street (oh Primark…), a much-need 2 hour nap, froyo, wine and Despicable Me…. a terrific way to end one of the busiest weeks ever.

I want to know… How are things in the States?  I heard it’s super hot in Boston!  What else should I check out in London and what would YOU like to see in a London-themed giveaway here on the blog?