How I’m Spending My Summer Vacation

That’s right.

In 8 days, I will be on a plane headed for one of my favorite places in the entire world: London, England.

But before we talk about why, let’s back up to a little over a year ago.

When I was looking at graduate schools, BU was at the top of my (very short) list.  After bombing my GREs and writing what I thought were less-than-stellar essays, I sent my applications away and hoped for the best.  The day my acceptance letter from BU came, I screamed so loud I almost sent my then-pregnant friend Miriah into early labor… I was just that excited.

When I went to BU’s accepted student’s day, one of the professors told us about an opportunity to study abroad in London covering the 2012 Summer Olympics.  After already falling in love with the school, the possibility of spending a summer in one of my favorite cities sealed the deal.  In October, I applied for the program, found out I got in and happily sent in my $500 deposit without a second thought.

Do we look happy? Of course we do.. we’re going to the Olympics!

Fast forward 6 months….

Going through the break-up with Stephen made London a distant nightmare.  No, I don’t want to spend 6 weeks in England, I want to stay here and fix my relationship and rebuild my life.  I came mere inches from dropping out of the program, only sticking with it due to the fact that giving it up might be the stupidest thing I’d ever do.  Reject an opportunity like this to be a miserable wreck all summer long?  Take a minute and rethink that decision…

The program, appropriately titled “Covering the London Olympics”, consists of 6 weeks in England – 3 weeks dedicated to a special topics class Monday through Wednesday and then 3 weeks of full-time internships with a local media outlet.  I was assigned boston.com and could not be happier.  With a group of 3 other girls, we will be producing our own website linked to boston.com and I will provide news packages and video content from on-site in London.  Not too bad right?

Why I’m excited… in list form:

– London is one of my favorite cities in the world.  I’ve been twice and if I could live in any other country, England soars to the top of the list.  Italy is a close second.

– I’m spending the first week there with my family.  My dad’s itinerary already includes places like Bath, Stonehenge, Windsor and Oxford.  My sister wants to do a pub crawl with my parents.  It’s going to be an interesting week.

– Harrod’s.  The most amazing department store in the world.  I don’t even know if calling it a “department store” is really a fair way to describe it since it takes up an entire city block, including a basement level, and takes an entire day to get through.  The wine cellar alone makes me want to move in.

– I plan on traveling to other places while in Europe.  The top two locations?  Paris and Rome.  I’ve been to Paris but the last time I was there, I was 9.  I have this not-so-secret ambition to shoot a stand up in the grassy area in front of the Eiffel Tower.  I’ve never been to Italy but it’s where my family is from.  I plan on tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain and wishing for the one thing I want more than anything else in this world.  Sorry… can’t tell!

And in true Marie fashion, there are also reasons why I’m nervous…

– This will be the longest I’ve ever been away from home for an extended period of time.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big girl and I can take care of myself but I have a feeling that a bout or two of homesickness will hit me at some point.  I’ve always been very much attached to my family and friends so leaving for 7ish weeks will be tough.

– I’m scared I won’t be able to work out.  This is probably a stupid reason to be nervous since I’ll probably just suck it up and register for the gym while I’m there and run around the city, but what about dance?!  Hope my roommates don’t mind some quality stretching and impromtu dance parties in our room…

– My personal life is still a little on the messy side.  It’s not exactly ideal to peace out of the country while I feel this way but maybe the time away really will help…? Let’s just leave it at that.

– $$.  London is expensive, I want to travel and my funds are tight.  I guess I can sacrifice eating for souvenirs.  Hope my aunt doesn’t mind me bringing my laundry to her place… to do one load there costs almost 30 bucks.  I kid you not.

I think that’ll do for now. 

So while I’m in London, my iPhone will be disabled other than it’s camera function (SAD!!!!)  I will have internet and be updating the blog, hopefully more regularly than I have been lately.  I promise to take a million pictures and post them while I’m away as well as tweets and links to my work.  I love e-mails and Tweets and Facebook posts so don’t hesistate to send me any!

Bye bye USA… Cheers!

Life Lately

Hello!

I haven’t written a post in a while.  Life has been crazy lately.  Between school, dance, personal/emotional crap and just trying to get through each day, I haven’t had much free time for blogging.

But I do have lots of things to talk about… my most recent race (recap coming soon!), finishing my first year of grad school (done in 6 days!), dance (duh), plans for the summer (London), how I’m getting through each day (I’m sure you’re all dying to know the sad details of that part of my life…) So multiple posts are currently in the works.  I may even have a recipe or two up my sleeve.  (BTW – if you’re looking for an amazing hummus recipe, try this.  You’ll never want store-bought hummus again.)

And for a sweet sentiment that has everything to do with my life right now…

Happy Thursday!  It’s almost the weekend.. what are you doing to celebrate?

Malden Rotary Club 10K… and a few thoughts

I did it.  I ran my first 10K yesterday.  And I ran the ENTIRE THING.

I didn’t necessary stick to my original training plan and even though I did get my butt out to run a few days a week, I wasn’t feeling super prepared.  Plus, my head hasn’t been 100% in the game (any game) over the past few weeks and I considered not running it at all. But then I figured if anything, this was something I had to do for me.. and only me.

So let’s go back to the day before my biggest running accomplishment to date.

Friday was rough for the good portion of the daylight hours.  After seeing the midnight premiere of The Hunger Games with my friend Greg, I had a completely unrelated breakdown, cried until I got sick, cried myself to sleep and then all morning.  I didn’t even go to class.  Eventually I dragged my sorry excuse of a human being out of bed, picked up my camera gear from school and spent the afternoon with my friend Sara.  And by spend the afternoon with, I mean that I fell asleep at the end of her bed for three hours, probably because I haven’t had a sound night’s sleep in weeks.

A few hours later, Sara worked her magic, made me look gorgeous (not to toot my own horn, but even I was like holy crap,) and we went out for our other friend Steph’s birthday.  We went to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory where I fueled with their Skinnylicious Pasta with chicken, basil and marinara.  I only got about halfway through the bowl before my tummy told me to stop.  Apparently 2 weeks of hardly eating will shrink your stomach.  Either way, it was delicious and I spent the next few hours having fun with my friends without thinking about any other worries in the rest of my life.

Sara does good work... I even felt pretty.

I went home to Lynn to get a full, yet restless and nightmare-filled, eight hours of sleep.  In the morning, I had my usual pre-race breakfast of 3 pieces of wheat toast with peanut butter and a bottle of water before my mom and I headed to Malden for the 11:30am start.

Toast and water.. I am boring.

When we got there, I headed right to registration, picked up my swag bag and tried my best to push all sad thoughts from my head.  I visualized crossing the finish line.  Before I knew it, I was hugging my mom and heading to the start.

So much swag!

And this is the face of a very nervous runner…

2 words: fake smile.

The race itself was pretty small.  There was a 5K course and 10K course but only about 350 runners total.  The 10K headed out first.  As I started running, I felt good.  Just 1 mile in, I knew I’d be able to run farther than I had in any other race without a walking break.  Usually, I have to stop a few times to walk but as I hit the mile 2 mark, I had a feeling that I wouldn’t need to stop at all and that’s where I started to think “Oh my God, I can do this without stopping.”  And once I get a goal in my head, it’s pretty tough to get it out.

I had my Garmin on and it kept my pace beautifully.  Sadly, every time I looked at it (which was pretty often), I felt a small searing pain hit my heart.  It was a gift from someone very important to me, but we’ll just leave it at that.

I also kept my eyes on a girl in a bright pink tank top who was running ahead of me for the entire race.  I could’ve passed her multiple times, but I let her pace me and I think it was the better decision.  At times, I’m sure I felt like a shadow to her because I was so close but if I hadn’t used to her to speed up and slow down, I don’t think running the whole race would’ve been possible.

At 4.75 miles in, I called my mom to tell her I was close to finishing.  She was reading in her warm car but I didn’t want her to miss my finish.  After that, my groove seemed out of step, my stomach was a little less uneasy and I wanted to be done.  I kept telling myself “keep going; I want to tell people I ran without stopping; prove to yourself that you can really do it.”  Eventually, we rounded the corner to the finish line, I could hear my labored breathing over my music but I didn’t care – I dug deep and pushed, crossed the finish line and grabbed a much-needed bottle of water.

I threw myself into my mom’s arms and started crying.  I cried because I finished, I cried because I ran the entire thing without stopping once.  I cried tears of joy, sadness, anger, resentment, disappointment.  I cried because the one person I wanted to collapse into, to hug me, to be proud of me at the finish line, wasn’t there.  I was angry, overjoyed and devastated all at the same time.

And then I stopped crying.  Because this day was about nothing other than the fact that I set my heart on something and got it.  And it felt amazing.  I knew then that if I didn’t give up on running, no matter how hard and painful it was at times, I wouldn’t give up on other things I loved either.  And for that moment, I felt calmer than I have in weeks.

The farthest I've ever run..

On that note, here are some happy/crappy details of the race:

The Happy:

– The weather.  I could not have asked for a better day.  It was incredibly chilly out, a complete difference than the past few days in the Boston area.  I was thankful for the crisp breeze the second I started running because I knew it would keep me from getting too overheated throughout the run.  And the overcast kept the sun from beating down onto my already reddened face, so that was nice too.

– My new shirt.  A gift from my friend Kim for my birthday, it’s sweat-wicking and didn’t get heavy or overheat me in anyway.  I even wore my long-sleeved NDA zip-up for the whole race and only felt super hot towards the very end.

– The swag.  I got a long-sleeved T, running gloves, a baseball cap, bread from a local company, a water bottle and other goodies from sponsors like VitaWater.

– The price.  The student rate was $10 which is the least expensive race I’ve ever run.  I think I got more value in just my swag bag than I paid for the actual race.

– Shot Blocks.  Ya know how good runners say to never try something new on race day?  Well, I did.. oops.  I bought a pack of Tropical Fruit flavored Shot Blocks at New England Running Company and was excited to try them.  The only thing I was worried about was any stomach issues that might occur but I took one just pass the mile 2 marker and then another a little ways into mile 4 and chased both with some water from water stops and felt a sudden surge of energy after each.  They tasted great, had a consistency that didn’t hurt my stomach and gave me a boost that I needed.

The Crappy:

– My running capris.  Apparently they are too big, which shouldn’t be a surprise since I’ve lost about 15 pounds since I bought them.  I had to keep pulling them up, which got a little annoying.  I’ll buy new ones for my next race.

– The finish line.  Not the actual finish line itself, I could see the clock, the girl took my number, normal end of the race.  It was who wasn’t at the finish line that hurt the most.

On another happy note, I mentioned on Facebook that if I finished my race, I would reward myself.  So this little guy is all mine.  My new motto: “Slow and steady wins finishes.. the race.”

My nickname in elementary school was "Tortoise" so I suppose this is pretty fitting!

And as the title promised, a few thoughts…

I think running is a lot like being in love.  It’s an incredible feeling, good for your body, your mind and your soul.  Sometimes it hurts like hell, sometimes you want to quit and give up or stop because it’s just too hard.  But when you push yourself through that pain, find your stride and look deep in your heart, when you can breathe again and take look around, it is the most rewarding and breath-taking experience in life.

And if, at the end of the race, you have the person you love’s arms to collapse into, well.. I’d say you’re the luckiest person in the world.

For when you need a Pick-Me-Up…

Sometimes life gets away from us.  One minute things are completely calm and the next, you feel like you are spiraling out of control.  Nothing seems right, your heart hurts, and your stress level is sending your tear ducts into overdrive.

When my life gets like this, I usually turn to tried-and-true “me things” to make myself feel better.  Working out is one of them, dancing is another, baking rounds out the trifecta.

I’ve been feeling pretty down the past couple of days and today wasn’t any better.  So I broke out the list.  I got up early and got in a (very sweaty) workout at the gym and I have 2 hours of dance later tonight so the one thing missing from my “pick-me-up” list was baking…and only one thing came to mind.

Cookies have always been a comfort food of mine.  I’ve made these and these and even these but the recipe today is one that Stephen and I have used over and over again and we’re never disappointed.  We have the recipe printed out and we’ve used it so many times, it’s got molasses and dough smears all over it.  That’s how you know it’s a good recipe.  I wasn’t a huge fan of ginger snaps until he and I made them together – now, they are one of my favorites too.

He's bad for my cookie addiction.

Ginger snaps are one of those cookies that you probably always have the ingredients for in the house.  They have a deep, warm flavor and a melt-in-your-mouth texture… one of those “can’t have just one” type of cookies.  And they are easy to make.  It’s especially fun to take extra flour and put it all over your special someone’s face – they’ll really enjoy that, I promise.  These are perfect to give as a gift or to show that special someone how much you love them.  Or you can just come over now and have one while they are still hot… seriously… It’s worth it.

The offer to come over is still good...

Our Favorite Ginger Snaps
Courtesy of AllRecipes.com

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 TB ground ginger
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup dark molasses
Cinnamon-sugar (for coating)

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2.  Sift flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon and salt into a large bowl.  Stir to blend.

3.  Place shortening in a mixing bowl and mix until smooth.  Slowly add the white sugar while the machine is on.  Beat in the egg and then the molasses until it is all combined.

4.  In batches, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet until a soft dough forms.

5.  Pinch off small pieces of dough and roll into 1-inch balls.  Coat the dough balls in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

6.  Bake in preheated oven until the tops are rounded, about 10 minutes.  Let cool or invite that someone special over while the cookies are still hot!

A Not-So-Normal Wednesday

If you haven’t heard by now, yesterday was Super Tuesday.  This is how I spent my day:

– 6:00am: Wake up.  Shower. Try to look decent.

– 7:30am: Drive to Vermont

– 9:30am: Keep driving to Vermont.

– 10:00am: Arrive in Brattleboro, Vermont.  Scope out election scene at the high school, drive around Smalltown, USA.  Shoot lots of video.  Buy a shot glass and a stick of maple syrup.

Welcome to Smalltown, USA.

– 10:45am: Ask some guy if we can shoot from his back porch.  Guy agrees.  We get great footage with minimal tree intrusion.

– 11:00am: Head back to the high school, shoot more video, interview people, do a standup, freeze bum off

– 12:30pm: Get amazing lunch at random, hole-in-the-wall pub.

– 1:30pm: Start driving home.

– 2:00pm: Stop for gas before we run out.

-4:00pm: Arrive at school, return camera equipment, start editing, writing, recording.

-9:00pm: Finish package, figure out chyrons, write other stuff, tweet, tweet, tweet.

– 9:45pm: Go into newsroom.  Send texts so people will watch the show.  Get on the phone with Skype crew.

– 10:00pm:  Live Super Tuesday show.  A little rocky, but successful.  Vermont package airs.  I get 3423 text messages from family and friends telling me they loved it.

– 11:00pm: Go to bar and drink beer with classmates (and prof) on the dean’s tab.

Report the news.. then drink.

– 11:45pm: Train home.  Almost miss stop.  Set morning alarm for 5:45 and 6:15.

-12:21 am: Sleep.

– 5:45am: Alarm goes off.  Almost throw phone across the room.

It was a long day.  Thankfully today, we don’t have class because we had it last night instead.  But that doesn’t mean I got to sleep in.  Quite the opposite.

I didn’t actually end up rolling out of bed this morning until closer to 6:30.  I had to meet the rest of the Unyted Stylz crew at the New England Aquarium at 7:30 for a show.  I was nervous that I’d totally miss our call time so I left my apartment just after 6:45 to take the Green Line to Government Center and switch to the Blue.  I met up with another crew member waiting for the blue line train and was happy that I wouldn’t get lost the rest of the way.

At the Aquarium, the host of the event was beyond thrilled to see us.  When it was time for us to perform, I was pretty nervous since it was my first show with the crew since joining last month.  Surprisingly, though, I wasn’t as Oh-My-God-I’m-Gunna-Throw-Up nervous as I normally am before performing.  Either way, it was great and the crowd really liked us.  And I looked pretty decent in the video we watched after so WIN.

Some of US Crew (with baby CJ!) at the Aquarium

When I got back to my apartment, I made some breakfast, watched Jenna Marbles (anyone else obsessed with this girl?  Fun fact: She got her Master’s at BU like me) and tried to make myself look decent for the second time today before heading off to Cambridge to meet up with Alaina for the first time in person!

I’ve been reading Alaina’s blog for a while now and when we figured out we live super close to each other, we decided a blogger meet up/coffee date would be the way to go.  Unfortunately, we are both incredibly busy so it’s actually taken months to finally take the time to do it!

We met up at 1369 Coffee House in Central Square, Cambridge just off the red line.  I had never been there before and was excited to try it.  I ordered a blood cider instead of coffee (who am I?) and it was delicious.  Locally produced piping hot apple cider with a deeply aromatic tea steeped in.  I also tried the cranberry-walnut muffin which was delicious.  Alaina and I talked about anything and everything you could think of: our blogs, running, working out, living in Boston, school…  It was great to get to know someone in person that you feel like you have known from reading their blog.

The rest of my day looked like this:

– YouTube videos.

– Nap.

– Oversleep from nap; frantically get ready; train to school.

– Anchor BU’s “Inside Boston”.

– Fro Yo (aka dinner) with a treat-obsessed dance friend.

– Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube.

And now I think I’ll sleep because I have an live guest coming tomorrow to interview on our class news magazine show and I should probably wash my hair and put make-up on in the morning.

How did you spend your Wednesday?  Do you have to set three to five alarms to ensure you’ll wake up on time?

Friday Things… and why I can’t feel my legs right now.

I’ve come to a point in my grad school life where I don’t particularly enjoy any day of the week ever.  Not even weekends… not even Mondays when I don’t have class.  I’m either shooting, editing, making myself look pretty to be on camera, getting yelled at for doing something wrong, working my ass off and only getting B’s, etc.

I know I’m being whiny and annoying.  I just hate school.

There's me.. 2nd computer in. Typical night.

Okay, I’ll try to stop being annoying now.

If you read the title of this post, you’re probably wondering why my legs are numb at the moment.  Well, it’s because yesterday, despite the nasty weather, I decided to get my sweat on in the form of a gym workout (including a treadmill/speed work run) and 3 hours of dance to follow it.

I had 3 miles on my agenda yesterday and after reading Hilary’s “HIIT to FIT” treadmill workouts, I decided to give it a try.  I modified it, of course, because that girl can run at a 7:07 pace and that just doesn’t seem conceivable for me since I usually run between 9:50 and 11:00 per mile.  Cool.

Here’s my version of Hil’s HIIT to FIT:

3 minutes warm-up, walking at 4.0.
90 seconds running at 6.7 (9:50), 30 seconds running at 5.7 (10:31) –> repeat 4 times.
3 minute recovery, walking at 4.0.
45 seconds running at 7.2 (8:45), 15 seconds running at 5.7 (10:31) –> repeat 4 times.
1 minute recovery, walking at 4.0.
60 seconds running at 7.7 (7:47), 60 seconds running at 6.7 (8:45) –> repeat 2 times.
Walk at 4.0 to round out 30-32 minutes.

Did you keep up with all of that?  Well, I was drenched in sweat and my legs were trembling by the end of it.  7:47?  Seriously?  I was pretty proud of that.

I chased my run with some ab work and a few arm exercises before hopping on the train to go to an hour of ballet.

The second I tried to move when I got to the studio, I knew it was going to be a rough night.  My legs felt like lead and even the simplest “failli assemble” seemed too advanced for my sweaty self.  Rehearsal was fun as always, but after the hour was up, I headed to a much different rehearsal, knowing I was in for a good ass-kicking.

I recently joined a hip-hop crew in Boston called Unyted Stylz.  They are amazing.  I promise to explain more about them later but just know that by the end of the 2 hours I spent with them, I was completely drenched, bright red and along with my legs being shot, my right big toe was not doing so well.  I think  I sprained it…

When I got back to my apartment, I took the hottest shower of my life, microwaved some dinner and passed out with my computer on my lap.  Today is a “good hurt, but I’ll take it easy at the gym later” kind of a day.

Tell me: Was your Thursday incredibly sweaty like mine?  How do you do your speed work?  What do you think about the treadmill… great training tool or way too boring?  Do you like microwave dinners?  Smart Ones are my fave.

February Restaurant Review: The Landing at 7 Central

Happy Valentine’s Day all!!  Welcome to my February edition of Chocolate & Wine’s Restaurant Review.

This month, I wanted to find something completely different than anywhere Stephen and I have been.  Plus, being Valentine’s Day, we decided to go out on Friday for a nice, quiet evening instead of fighting the crowds today.

I’ve gotten lots of restaurant recommendations (Thanks! Keep ’em coming!) but this is a place I found via Google.  I wanted something in the “hidden gem” category and that’s exactly what I found: The Landing at 7 Central in Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA.

I made a reservation for two at 8pm (ya know.. just in case) and we found it pretty easily.  It was elegantly lit and very inviting.  The hostess sat us right away, directly across from a cozy fireplace.

The Landing in Manchester-by-the-Sea

Our waitress, who’s name escapes me, was friendly and attentive.  She took our drink orders and returned quickly with ice waters, freshly baked rolls that were still hot and the most delicious olive oil I have ever tasted.  A few minutes later, my Argentinian Malbec and Stephen’s Sam Adams-something-or-other-beer was in front of us.  It was efficient service without the feeling of being too rushed.

The menu itself was ridiculous.  There were so many options and everything sounded incredible.  Things like “Chicken Jessica” and “Pan Roasted Salmon” jumped out at me but in the end, I settled on what I really wanted but rarely get: Seafood Risotto.  Stephen got the Prime Rib special.

Seafood Risotto... Yes, please.

My risotto was flawless.  It had muscles, tender scallops, perfectly cooked shrimp, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, all wrapped in a not-overly-cheesy bed of puffed up rice.  I had to stop myself from eating too much of it, knowing that I could devour the whole bowl if given the opportunity.  (Not that it made it until the next day anyway due to a midnight snack craving but that’s besides the point..) Stephen’s prime rib was perfectly medium rare, accompanied by a blue cheese butter (amazing) asparagus and thick, garlicky mashed pototoes – comfort food for a chilly night.

Seafood risotto - sorry the photo is a little blurry, but check out all those beautiful colors!

Tip: Always ask what the special is!

That prime rib was HUGE!

There was only one thing that threw me about The Landing.  The tables were set with white linen tablecloths with a blue overlay, lovely cutlery and a single candle.  And then, resting on the dinner roll plate, under said cutlery was… a paper napkin?  Wait, come again?  A beautiful restaurant with paper napkins?  Again, it’s small.  Tiny even compared to the wonderful time we had but I think a place like that should reconsider the paper and switch to cloth.  Just my two cents.

Overall Rating: 9 out of 10.

Just like January, we had another terrific restaurant experience.  Wonderful, friendly service, gourmet food, good prices and the perfect atmosphere for any romantic date night out.  Be aware that for young adults and students on a budget, it may be a little pricier for you, but still 100% worth it.

But please Landing friends, lose the paper napkins…

I want to know:  Do you have a restaurant you’d like me to review?  Been to The Landing and have a difference experience than I did?  Let me know!

Winning, Losing, Sickness, School

My team lost, it was a rough game and that’s that.  There will be no more talk of Super Bowl 2012.

Let’s talk about things that are happy or stressful.  Anything but football.  Since I’ve been away from the blog for a little while, I think this is a perfect time for an update.

School… is stressful.  I thought last semester was hard.  My fall courses were a cake walk compared to what I’m dealing with now.  One of the worst feelings in the world is when one of your professors shoots down every single idea you have for your projects.  When May 4th rolls around, you can find me doing cartwheels outside of 640 Commonwealth Avenue because after this semester, it’s smooth sailing (and flying if you’re referring to London!)

My new apartment… is amazing.  My roommates are great, it’s super convenient and I love being a 5 minute walk to the gym. 

Running… has not really been happening.  See “my health.”  I’m also still looking for a race to run this month but since Sundays are now dedicated to dance, my options have been limited.  Help!! I plan on getting back into a routine this week so hopefully that new 5K PR is in the near future.

Dance… is wonderful, albeit a huge time consumer.  Not in a bad way, just in a I-wish-I-had-more-time way.  I had to drop a night of DanceWorks Boston to free up some time for school things which was awful, but the 5 routines I’m in are going to be great.  And cardio is never a bad thing.  Last weekend, DWB even got to travel to New York City to perform in a show there.  It was a blast and dancing in NYC is always a dream come true.  That’s the “winning” aspect of this post. 

The dance I choreographed... "Hello World"

And sometimes in NYC, I put my leg in the air.

Can you find me?

My health… has been CRAP.  I got sick last Friday (of course the day I was going to NYC) and have been sick ever since.  And when I say sick, I mean it.  Gastroenteritis, norovirus.. whatever you want to call it, infultrated my body last Sunday and well, I’ll spare you the gorey details.  I managed to lose 8 pounds in 1 night if that’s any indication.  Then once that was all out of my system (literally), I caught a head cold and have been dealing with that ever since.  Good job, immune system, thanks for your hard work.

Cooking… also hasn’t really happened this week.  Between NYC and getting a sickness that didn’t make food appealing for most of the week,  I wasn’t really in the mood to cook.  I did make some delicious guilt-free piggies in a blanket and an amazing trifle for a certain football game we aren’t talking about and they were both a hit so we’ll count that as a good cooking for the week.   I want to use my crockpot at some point in the upcoming week so stay tuned!

Aren't these the cutest munchies ever? And guilt free!

Well, that’s pretty much it for now.  Next on the agenda?  Surviving this week.

Tell Me!  How has your week been?  Have you managed to avoid getting the stomach flu?  What upcoming races are you running?  What was the best thing you cooked this week?

Oh, PS – Anyone want a yummy trifle recipe?

Oreo and Brownie Trifle
Adapted from Baking Away

Mmm.. trifle...

Ingredients:
1 9×13 inch pan of fudgy brownies
2 small boxes of fat free, sugar free chocolate pudding mix
4 cups of skim milk
8 ounce container Cool Whip Free
12 ounces regular Cool Whip
18 Oreos

Make brownies and set aside to cool completely.  Mix milk with pudding powder and let chill for 30 minutes.  Then, gently fold in the 8 ounces of Cool Whip Free until there are no streaks.  Chop the oreos and set aside.

To assemble:  Lay half of the brownies in a trifle bowl followed by half of the pudding.  Sprinkle half the oreos over the pudding layer and top with half of the regular Cool Whip.  Repeat layers.  If desired, garnish the top with crushed and/or whole oreos or dark chocolate shavings.  Chill until ready to serve. 

Delicious AND beautiful!

Virtual Bake Sale!

Attention Chocolate & Wine Readers!

I want/need/must tell you about an amazing opportunity to make a huge difference.  A difference to a first-time marathon runner and an incredible charity.  And an opportunity to get some delicious goodies!

My good friend/fellow Boston blogger and bruncher, Amanda, is running the Boston Marathon for the first time.  She is running for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and is attempting to raise $4,000.  Right now, you can attend her blog’s virtual bake sale and bid on a variety of baked goods by some of her favorite bloggers (myself included!!!!)

These are my Double Chocolate Oreo Balls. You should probably go bid on them.

Simply visit her website between now and January 28th to bid on the items.  All of the proceeds go towards the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and will help her reach her goal.  Amanda is a kind, passionate person who wants nothing more than to run 26.2 miles successfully and have an impact on this charity.  YOU can help her make it happen.

Questions?  Shoot me an e-mail!  And please let me know via comment if you bid on anything/win anything, especially if you bid on/bid on my Double Chocolate Oreo Balls!

MY PLEDGE:

For every Chocolate & Wine reader who bids on a baked good from Amanda’s bake sale and leaves me a comment here telling me you did, I will donate $1 to Amanda’s charity.  For every baked good a Chocolate & Wine reader bids on AND WINS, I will donate $5 to Amanda’s charity.  And if a Chocolate & Wine reader wins MY Double Chocolate Oreo Balls, I will donate $15 to Amanda’s charity site!!  Either way, this is a win-win-win situation to help people in need!

Rules:
(PS – these are based on the honor system.  If you say you bid on something, please make sure you do…)

1.  Bid on an item on Amanda’s bake sale and leave me a comment telling me you did.  Include what you bid on and how much you bid.

2.  If you win an item, leave me a comment telling me what you won and how much you paid for it.

3.  If you win MY Double Chocolate Oreo Balls, leave me a comment telling me you did and how much you paid for it.  Then enjoy them immensely when I send them to you!

I mean... yum.

I’ll keep a pledge tally and tell you how much I will personally be donating at the end of the bake sale.

Good Luck and Happy Bidding!!

On Moving.

I moved out.

That sounds so dramatic, right?  Conjures up all sorts of story lines and skepticism of family issues.  But in reality, I’m just a 23-year-old grad student who was sick of her hour and a half commute to school 4 days a week.  I love my parents and living with them is wonderful most of the time, but I needed a change in a big way.  So I made one.

You might remember when I panicked last semester and had a meltdown, but eventually came around to the idea that I actually kind of enjoy getting my Master’s Degree.  But the commute had to go, friends.  I know there are people out there who have much longer commutes than I do, and they are very strong people.  I am simply not one of them.

Back at the beginning of October, I began searching BU’s website for possible apartments close to my college.  The only one that fell into my price range (AKA cheap) and desired location was a 4-bedroom, 1.5 bathroom, 3rd floor walk-up a little less than a mile away from BU’s College of Communications.  I went to check it out, fell in love with it, and found myself signing a lease for my first big-girl place a few months later.

Now, I am unpacked (for the most part) and already loving life outside of Lynn, MA.  I have 3 roommates, a good-sized room, still plenty of space to cook and a 3-minute walk to the gym.

I heart my new kitchen. That's my new crockpot already taking up space on the counter.

And while I’m only in here until the end of May, when I have to gear up for my summer in London (still more details to come!), I find it very cool to say that “my apartment in Boston” is the best loan money I’ve spent so far.

No, sadly, Boyfriend is not my roommate.. yet. But the ribbon/clothespin photo idea is courtesy of my cousin Ali.

Not sure what that says about the actual degree I’m working so hard for, but it’s the little things, like my very large schedule board, that make me happy.

What? You mean everyone doesn't have a huge bulletin board dedicated to their daily routine? I don't understand. And yes, the shiny black and silver things on my bookcase ARE pom-poms. Don't judge.

I want to know: Did you love your first real home-away-from-home?  Was it super expensive or was the price just right? How do you feel about my crazy bulletin board?  What craft on Pinterest can I add to my room decor?