2012 will be BIG.

2012 promises to be a huge year for me.  I have big ideas, big dreams and big goals.

This year will include a lot of milestones.  I’ll turn 24, study abroad in London covering the Summer Olympics, create and present a media thesis project, choreograph for DanceWorks Boston and Kinetic Synergy, work my 4th summer with the National Dance Alliance, finish my last 2 semesters of grad school, run a bazillion more races… the list is endless.

Goals-wise, I am all about the resolutions. I love ’em.  Not the kinds that say “I’m going to drop such-and-such amount of weight” but the ones that make you feel good when you accomplish them and make you want to work harder if they slip away from you.

I feel like this can be referred to in all aspects of life...

2012 Goals

Run 10 5K races.  I know this is attainable.  I just need to buckle down and register.

To go along with my 5K race goal, I want to run the 2012 Marblehead Beach to Beach 5K again this year.  It was my first ever race and I’d love to keep running it every year.

Run a sub 27:00 5K.  That’s about a 9:00 min/mile.  I can do it.

Run 5 longer races this year, 5-milers, 10Ks and one half marathon.  Holy crap, I can’t believe I’m writing that, but there it is, out there for the world to see.

Choreograph 3 more dance pieces.  It took me until 2011 to realize how much I love choreographing and I don’t want to stop!

Try out and review 1 new restaurant a month.  I want to expand my food horizons and experience as much of it as possible… on a budget.

Work 3 NDA camps.  This one might be tough because of London, but I think three is a good compromise since I usually work 9.

Ace my study abroad.  6 weeks, 1 class, 1 internship, 1 chance.  An internship with a huge news networks could lead to a possible job.  I want to kick ass during my time in London; it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and could set me apart from a million other applicants in the real world.

Rock my media thesis.  No specifics just yet but it will include a website where I am happy to say I just buy the domain.  It will come with a lot of physical and mental changes and challenges.  Stay tuned.

Finish graduate school successfully.  Without too many meltdowns would be ideal.

Save money.  This year will be especially difficult since London alone is very expensive, but I have a number in mind and achieving it at least once this year would be great.

Love others more.  Personal goal.  Be nicer also ties in here.

Overall, I hope 2012 will be as successful, productive and eye-opening as 2011 as been.  Thank you to all of you who read Chocolate & Wine and support me through everything I do.

I raise my glass (of Asti) to you.

Last question of 2011: What are your biggest goals for the new year?


2011 Recap & Wrap Up

2011.  I feel like it went by so fast.  At this time last year, I was a completely different person and I’m happy to report that I’m a better me than I was at the close of 2010.

This year, I achieved things I never thought I ever could.  I choreographed three group routines, I started running and ran four 5K races, I got into grad school and survived my first semester, I realized what I truly want in my life and I am starting to become the person I have always wanted to be.

I worked my third summer with the National Dance Alliance, I now dance in an amazing company in Boston and BU has opened my eyes to incredible new opportunities, including an acceptance into a 6-week study abroad program to cover the London Olympics next summer.

2011 taught me to not take life too seriously.  To enjoy each day, love whole-heartedly and appreciate myself for who I am.  It’s a great feeling to look back on this year and know that I have grown in so many ways.

Back in July, I set some mid-year goals for myself.  So let’s recap them and see how I did.

1.  Work (at least) 8 NDA summer camps.  Done.  I worked 9!  I traveled everywhere from Kansas to Maryland and loved every minute of it.  

NDA friends take awesome photos.

2.  Run 2 more 5Ks.  Done.  I ran 3 more: Run for Ryan’s Cup 5K in SeptemberWitch City 5K in October and the Lynnfield Turkey Trot 5K in November.  I wanted to run one in December as well but since I didn’t get to, I signed up for the “Run Your Hangover Off 5K” on January 1st.  I think it’s the best way to kick off 2012!

I heart bib numbers.

3.  Host a blog giveaway.  Done. I hosted my first giveaway in September for Chocolate and Wine’s 1st Blogiversary!

4.  Stick to Weight Watchers (not playing a numbers game here. Work out, eat right, follow the points, be healthy and let the body do what it will.)  Kinda done.  I don’t exactly stick to the WW plan but I did manage to drop 12 pounds this year and I am VERY happy about that.


5.  Rock the first semester of my grad program at Boston University (all A’s would be sweet but we like B+s too.)  Kinda done.  1 A-, 1 B+ and 2 Bs.  I am very proud; grad school is hard, man.

Dream job.

6.  Try 1 new recipe a week.  Fail.  Sometimes when I cook, I use the same recipes over and over.  But now that I have a beautiful new crockpot, I might be able to achieve this goal in 2012.

7.  Dance in 4 DanceWorks Boston fall pieces.  Done.  I danced in 5!  6 if you include the finale/Flash Mob!  

Some of my DanceWorks family...

8.  Train for and run a 10K.  Fail.  I chickened out.  2012 will hold at least one 10K and maybe even a half marathon.

9.  Take hot yoga regularly.  Fail.  I probably did it a total of 3 times between the summer and now.

Overall, I think this has been a great year.  I achieved most of my goals and really let myself let go of the rest of the emotional baggage leftover from undergrad.

So long, 2011…On to 2012! Goals and “resolutions” to come!

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?

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!

Good staffer, bad blogger

I had a revelation and made a big oops: I am a good staffer and a bad blogger.

If you have been reading C&W for more than a day (if this is your first visit, WELCOME!), you know that I travel during the summer with NDA (National Dance Alliance) to teach middle school and high school dance teams at camps all over the country.

Being on staff entails many things, including early mornings, late nights, complex meetings, 2-3 sessions a day, complicated decision making and above all, lots of dancing and lots of teaching.  Being prepared is essential, being unprepared is… bad.

Last Monday, I ventured 5 hours to Long Island, NY to meet up my good friend, Duke undergrad and fellow staffer, Julianne, spent the night at her house and drove 5 more hours with her the following morning to Towson, Maryland for my first big camp of the summer.

Unlike my Kansas camp, this camp was four days long (five for the staff if you include our report day), had many more teams and a much bigger staff (6 of us total.)  I love big “resident” camps because you get to work with multiple teams in four short days and getting close to your other staff members is surprisingly easy.  I think we spend more time laughing than anything else.

Check out those jazz hands. I'm a pro.
It took us about 10 times to get this picture just right. We were too busy laughing.

Nevertheless, I have been neglecting my lovely blog and I have so many things to share with you!

I got my first sponsor!  I received and e-mail the other day from a woman with a darling company in the UK (yep.. I reach that far apparently!) called Bags of Love and asked if I would like to place the link to her “Personalized Aprons” on the sidebar of my blog.  Well, of course I would!  I even figured out how to make a pretty button for the link so click on over and check it out for yourself.  I will be doing a product review for her in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned.

I have an obsession with frozen yogurt.  I mean, we knew this already but this past trip to New York/Maryland gave me the excuse to ask Julianne, “So you’re from New York and New York has frozen yogurt.  Can we go, please please pleaseeeee?”  I ended up getting froyo four times in the past week: Red Mango, 16 Handles Too (a kiosk of sorts inside of a mall), Yogoya and 16 Handles (the real one!)  Would you like to see what they looked like?

The journey through a frozen-yogurt-packed week:

Red Mango right near Jules' house. I wish I had one.

Frozen yogurt overload.  I’m so jealous of my NYC friends (especially Christine and Ali) for having this at their disposal whenever they want it.

Which brings me to a small update about how my Weight Watchers endeavors are going.  I am now 3 weeks in and down 6 pounds.  I am beginning to see a difference already and it’s really motivating me to eat well and work out.  I hope to see a bit of an increase as the weeks progress but for now, I’m happy and I’ll take it!

Oh and as a staff, we went to see Harry Potter 7.2 on Saturday night.  I proceeded to cry through the entire movie.  It was just that good.  If you haven’t yet seen it, go.  Right now.  You won’t be sorry.

Towson Rock Star Staff

  What’s coming up!!

Today: Normal work day, gym sesh, cooking dinner for the first time in FOREVER.

Wednesday: Normal work day, longer gym sesh, then boyfriend is taking me out to dinner and for some surprises for my upcoming birthday. So excited! He’s a master of surprises, even though he has a total snoop of a girlfriend.

Thursday: Normal work day, gym (or maybe some hot yoga?), repacking my giant suitcase for 2 back-t0-back camps.

Friday: Normal work day, gym, maybe festivities with the fam, bed early.. and oh yeah, my 23rd birthday.

Saturday: 8am flight toLouisville,Kentucky!!

That flight will be followed by 5 days in Louisville and 4 days in New York for two seperate resident camps.  And the last day of July?  DanceWorks Boston auditions!!!  See “Hello World” on that schedule? Yep, that’s me.

So tell me friends… what is your favorite frozen yogurt and where can I find it??