Wedding Weekend #1

You know you’re getting old when your friends start getting married… so I guess I’m getting old. 

A lot of my friends from college have been in long-term relationships, so it’s not a surprise that weddings are popping up all over the place, but it still feels a little strange.  There was a time when I thought I might have been headed down that path, but now I feel quite far from that, so it’s a bit odd for me to see my friends getting married and talking about having kids.  I couldn’t be happier for them though, and I’m so grateful that I get to be a part of their big days.  I have such wonderful friends, and it makes me so, so happy to see them so happy!

This past weekend marked the first of the weddings for this season… the lovely Ashley and Doug.  I had originally planned to head to Saratoga Springs, NY, where the wedding was held, on Thursday, so I took Friday off from work.  I didn’t end up leaving until Friday morning, but already having the day off turned out to be the perfect thing – being sick all week had me really run down, and getting to sleep in and relax on Friday morning was exactly what I needed. 

Late morning, I packed up my car and headed out.  Dress, shoes, bag, camera, snacks… check!

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I already knew that I love where I live, but if there was any doubt in my mind before that New England (especially during the Fall) is the most beautiful place on Earth, there isn’t anymore.  I drove straight across Vermont until I hit New York, and the views were absolutely gorgeous.  I drove through small Vermont ski towns, past beautiful little farm stands, and through the foliage-covered hills on the back roads, and I couldn’t get enough of the colors on the trees that are just starting to turn.  The drive alone made a strong case for me moving out there…

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Once I arrived in Saratoga Springs, I checked into the hotel and met up with my friends Amanda and Nick, who I was staying with.  Amanda is an amazingly talented hairdresser, so not only do I love getting to see her, but I also love getting to have my hair done by her.  (This picture could not get any more awkward.)

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Once we were ready, we headed to the wedding, which was held at a stunning state park right down the road.  There was so much greenery everywhere, and the old buildings were just gorgeous.  Ashley’s parents got married at the same location, and I could absolutely see why she and Doug chose it for their venue as well.

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Thanks to Amanda for sharing her stud of a date for the evening!

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The wedding was held outside, and the weather could not have been more perfect.  The bride rode in on a horse and carriage, and the groom had a hard time holding it together – as did we!  Ashley is the quintessential fairy princess, and she looked every bit the part.  Her happiness was radiating through her smile, and it honestly brought me to tears.  I’m not a crier, but seeing my friend look so beautiful and happy was a powerful thing!

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Once the I Do’s were over, we headed inside for cocktail hour.  And speaking of beautiful friends – hanging out with these two had me feeling like I was in Brangelina’s entourage for the night.  Talk about a glamorous couple!  They complement each other so well and are both so wonderful, inside and out… I can’t wait to watch them say I do in just two short months! 

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We got to see quite a few other friends from college as well, and a great time was had by all.

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When it was time to head inside for dinner and dancing, we found our table and took our seats. 

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The venue inside was as breathtaking as the grounds outside, and not a detail went untouched. 

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When the bride and groom were presented, the happiness in the room was truly overwhelming. 

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A perfect first dance… but only the first of many more to come! 

And although my pictures don’t nearly do it justice, the perfection did not stop at the food.  The filet mignon I had for dinner was delicious, along with the potatoes and asparagus it came with. 

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After dinner and cake, we danced the night away to an amazing band, and we all had an absolute blast.  A fabulous night with a beautiful bride, great food, wonderful friends, and lots of fun in a gorgeous setting… if this was Four Weddings, it would certainly get all 10s! 

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Congratulations, Ashley and Doug!!


Two Days Is Nothing

After all those two-week work trips, traveling for two days is nothing.  In fact, it was sort of nice to get out of the office for a couple days!  I had to go to Pennsylvania and New York on Wednesday and Thursday this week, but before I knew it, I was right back at home. 

We left at 5am on Wednesday, so I decided to skip the gym altogether and enjoy a couple days of rest.  It was a long six hour car ride, so I made sure to bring breakfast and snacks with me.  Luckily I didn’t have to drive, which made the ride go a lot faster, and when we stopped halfway through, a hot tea and my iPad got me through the second half. 

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(Clearly I struggle at taking non-blurry pictures in a moving vehicle.)

When we arrived at the warehouse, we had lunch brought in for us, so I picked half of a turkey sandwich and a whole bunch of salad. 

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We also had lots of fruit… and cookies… so of course I took advantage of those.  (A little too much, perhaps.)

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After work, we checked into the hotel and I was surprised to see how much my room had to offer.  I was expecting an express-style room, but I have to admit: Marriott properties always impress me.

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Even the shower curtain was cute!

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A little while later, we decided to head to a nearby Brazilian Steakhouse for dinner.  One of my coworkers had been before and loved it, and I had always wanted to try one, so I was all for it. 

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They had a big salad bar to start, and I piled up my plate up with greens and veggies. 

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For the main attraction, servers would come around with all different kinds of meat on the skewers that they were roasted on.  There were 15 different meats, from beef to turkey to chicken to pork, and I tried almost all of them.  (I passed on the sausages and the chicken hearts.) 

They would slice you a piece straight off the skewer and everything was so fresh and tender.  I didn’t take pictures of every single cut of meat because that would’ve gotten annoying fast, but my favorites were probably the rump roast and the sirloin, although the chicken legs were awfully tasty too. 

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For the final course, they brought out pineapple grilled with cinnamon and sugar.  I would’ve never thought to make it this way, but what a great idea for a dessert!  It was absolutely delicious, and I’d definitely try to make my own at home. 

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For dessert Round 2, I snacked on this almond chocolate bar that the hotel left in my room.  The girl at the front desk told me there was a “special treat” in there for me when I checked in, and this is what they gave me for being for such a valuable rewards member.  It’s like they know me…

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On Thursday morning, I was up early working before we left the hotel (another convenient time for a day off from the gym), and then we hit the road.  We had to stop at another warehouse in New York before we headed back to the office in New Hampshire, and we didn’t get a chance to stop for lunch.  Luckily, I came prepared (when do I not have a whole bag of food with me?), so I ate plain Chobani and berries for breakfast, and snacked on cashews and a pear throughout the ride. 

Oh, and this cucumber… which I forgot to cut up.  No big deal; I just snacked on it like cheese stick and it still tasted the same!

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When I finally made it home, I really didn’t feel like cooking, so I threw together an easy breakfast-for-dinner: eggs, bacon, and a g-free Udi’s cinnamon raisin bagel.  Not quite as fancy as fifteen different kinds of meat but still pretty delicious.

And just in case you need something to make you smile this morning, check out this video.  Grayson Clamp is a three-year-old boy who was born deaf and just heard his father’s voice for the first time.  His reaction is priceless, and it certainly warmed my heart to see it. 

Happy Friday!


Weird Facts Wednesday

The other night, my boss was talking about how his daughter will only eat vegetables raw.  He said she absolutely hates them cooked, but loves them raw.  Of course, getting kids to eat veggies in any form is a success itself, but this is kind of a funny quirk, and it got me thinking about all of the weird food habits I have. 

For example:

  • I love cooked tomatoes – in pasta sauce, on pizza, in eggs, with chicken – but I really don’t like raw tomatoes.  Recently I’ve started eating them on sandwiches or in salads just to increase my veggie range, but I really don’t enjoy it all that much.
  • Conversely, I love raw spinach.  I eat it (in excess) in salads, in smoothies, on sandwiches, in eggs, with chicken (what wouldn’t I eat with chicken?) but I despise cooked spinach.  The smell, the look, the taste… gross.
  • Grapes must be cold in order for me to enjoy them.  I’ll still eat them warm, but only if I have to.  It’s sort of like drinking warm milk.  You still get the same effect, but it’s really just kind of weird. 
  • I love bacon… but only by itself.  I’ll eat it alongside eggs, next to pancakes, with French toast… but put it in something, and I won’t touch it.  BLTs? No thanks.  Bacon on salad? Pass.  Bacon and egg quiches/frittatas/casseroles?  No way.  I have no idea why this is, but… it is. 
  • I’m a huge “breakfast foods for breakfast” person.  I find it strange to eat chicken/steak/other traditionally non-breakfast foods in the morning.  BUT – this is also a habit I’m really trying to break now that I’ve cut a lot of the “traditional breakfast foods” (cereal, oatmeal, French toast, pancakes, pastries, bagels…) out of my diet.  Who says you can’t have steak and Brussels sprouts or my beloved chicken and green beans for breakfast?!

Anyways… yesterday I decided to take the day off from working out because I hadn’t had a day off in about a week.  I like to take at least one day off per week, and with my schedule being a little funky on the trip, combined with the fact that I was up later than normal the night before, it was the perfect day to stay in bed a little while longer. 

I had packed up the majority of my hotel room the night before, so I had to go down to the hotel breakfast for food yesterday.  I kept things as simple and “real” as possible (which is key when that delicious cabinet of pastries is staring back at you) and went with three hard boiled eggs and a bowl of fruit. 

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And shortly after breakfast, I headed to work, where we wrapped up the audit.  It was great to be finished ahead of schedule, but it was even more wonderful that it meant that I could head home two days early!

The rest of the day’s food was eaten in the car, where I pretty much ate whatever I could find/reach.  I’m not even sure that I was all that hungry, but when you’re alone in a car for 3-4 hours, eating is about the only thing that you can keep you busy! 

First there were carrots, a banana, a pear, cantaloupe, and cashews…

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And then… this happened. 

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I stopped to go to the bathroom (I have to do that a lot due to the amount of water I drink – it’s annoying) and decided I was still “hungry,” so I looked in the trunk for whatever I could find. 

Attack of the sticky, sweet fruits!  At least these raisins, dates, and figs beat the meal I could’ve gotten at the Taco Bell I stopped at…

But by the way, if you like Fig Newtons and you haven’t tried real figs yet, you must.  Honestly, they taste exactly like a Fig Newton cookie, but without all the added fake junk. 

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By the time I got home and unpacked, it was already about time for dinner.  I had steak and peppers cooked with Montreal Steak Seasoning atop a bed of greens, and let me tell you: it hit the spot.  And apparently I was actually hungry because I went back for more after I finished this plate!

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And for dessert: a g-free/dairy-free chocolate cookie from my favorite bakery in town.  They bake a ton of homemade g-free goodies themselves, but this Alternative Baking Company cookie was quite good as well. Like I mentioned before, you (hopefully) won’t catch me eating these kinds of things all the time just “because they’re gluten-free,” but it was certainly a nice treat to end a long week of travel!

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So tell me: what are some of your weirdest food quirks?  I can’t be the only one who’s this strange…


Newburgh Waterfront

Yesterday started off with what would end up being my last hotel workout of the trip… yaaaaahoo!  This hotel gym is very nice and it’s been great that I’ve mostly been able to stick to my normal workout schedule while I was here, but I’m more than ready to get back to my real gym at home!

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(Cute, right? The sweaty, 5am bedhead look is entirely in right now.)

I’ve been getting frustrated with the dumbbells here (I find random bruises all over myself from where they awkwardly hit me), but I actually really liked yesterday’s workout.  It was different, and that kept it interesting and fun.  Here’s what it looked like:

  1. Warm-up: 10 minute walk on treadmill
  2. Dumbbell push presses:
    1. 15 @ 40lbs
    2. 10 @ 50lbs
    3. {8 @ 60lbs + 8 Handstand shrugs} x3
    4. {8 @ 50lbs + 8 Handstand shrugs} x3
  3. Workout (8x):
    1. 5 Right hand dumbbell snatch @ 25lbs
    2. 5 Left hand dumbbell snatch @ 25lbs25 Jump ropes
    3. 5 Right hand dumbbell clean @ 25lbs
    4. 5 Left hand dumbbell clean @ 25lbs
    5. 25 Jump ropes
  4. 100 Air squats
  5. {12 Bent over rows @ 15lbs each + 12 RDLs @ 25lbs each} x4
  6. {10 Kneeling rows (each arm @ 15lbs each + 12 Squats @ 30lbs each} x4
  7. Core (4x):
    1. 15 Dumbbell swings @ 15lbs
    2. 20 Weighted side bends @ 15lbs
    3. 15 Weighted bridges @ 15lbs
    4. 20 Crunches
  8. Cool down: 10 minute walk

I seemed to have lost my picture from breakfast yesterday, and I can’t even remember what I had at this point… so I’ll just skip it. 

Food for the rest of the day consisted of baby carrots, chicken with peppers, snow peas, and spices, a poor little pear that got brutally mutilated in my lunchbox, cantaloupe and TJ’s trail mix, and a banana. 

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But after work is where things got a little more fancy… 

The town I’m staying in this week has a beautiful waterfront along the Hudson River, and last night, my coworkers and I headed down there for dinner.  The cherry blossom trees (I think?) were in full bloom, and even though it was chilly, it was still a beautiful sight.  There are all kinds of restaurants along the water, and it’s a great place to walk around and take in a little fresh air.  One time when I was here in the past, I saw the absolute biggest yacht I have ever seen in real life docked here.  Seriously, it was like a mini cruise ship!

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For dinner, I started with the garden salad with balsamic dressing.  (I resisted all the bread and it felt so good!)

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And for my entrée, I went with the filet mignon (which was cooked perfectly and absolutely delicious) and a double portion of the steamed veggies (carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, and cauliflower). 

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I nixed the potatoes/rice in favor of double vegetables, and in addition to skipping the bread, it was definitely a good choice.  I left feeling full, satisfied, and most importantly, stomach-ache free, and I couldn’t have been more pleased with myself.  Normally, I would’ve said ‘oh, a piece of bread or two on this special occasion won’t hurt,’ but then I’d end up sitting at home with a stomach ache later.  Since making the decision to not do that anymore, it was surprisingly easy to pass on it!

With my last night behind me, I am very excited to be heading home tonight… Sleeping in my own bed, cooking in my own kitchen, and working out in my own gym is going to be absolutely glorious after ten days away!

See you from NH! Smile


Going Gluten Free…

Sometimes my workouts go really easy for me and I feel strong and powerful and energetic… and sometimes they don’t. 

Yesterday was one of those days that didn’t go so well.  I usually take Sundays off, so maybe my body somehow knew that it was the day of rest and decided to be stubborn.  Or maybe it was because I’ve had a more-strenuous-than-normal week and had already gotten five good workouts in and I was just tired.  Or maybe it was because I hadn’t eaten anything besides a banana, a few grapes, and a couple ginger snaps in about 17 hours.  (I wasn’t really hungry for dinner after my late lunch, and I rarely eat before morning workouts.  But I got to sleep in a little bit yesterday, so my workout was later than normal, stretching that time out even farther.) 

Whatever it was, things didn’t go great yesterday.  But I still got out of bed, to the gym, and moved around a little bit… and that’s what counts for me. 

Here’s what my workout ended up looking like:

  1. Warm-up: 10 minute walk on treadmill
  2. Squat and twist – low to high (each side):
    1. 15 @ 15lbs
    2. 12 @ 20lbs
  3. Workout (21-15-9-3 each):
    1. Sumo deadlifts @ 45lbs
    2. Burpees
    3. Upright rows @ 20lbs each
  4. {10 Dumbbell snatches (each arm) @ 20lbs each} x5
  5. {12 Reverse flies @ 10lbs each + 10 Lying rows (each arm) @ 10lbs each} x4
  6. 100 crunches
  7. Cool-down: 10 minute walk

After that, I showered up and had breakfast before I headed off to work.  I made a three-egg scramble with tomatoes and spinach, plus bacon on the side, and it was a nice change from my usual green pepper and spinach scramble.  I used to like my eggs very dry, but the tomatoes don’t allow for that and yet I still like it, so maybe I’m coming around. 

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I snacked on some slightly off-looking carrots a little later.  I find it weird when carrots get a little bit white like this, but they still seem to taste fine, so I guess it’s no big deal…?

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For lunch, I brought a batch of chicken, red peppers, and snow peas made with chili powder and cumin.  I made two helpings of this meal and just seasoned them differently, so it really will be like having two different meals, even though the base ingredients are the same. 

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For a snack in the afternoon, I had some purple grapes and cashews.  I never used to like nuts of any kind, but cashews have since become one of my favorite snacks.  I think I’ll have to branch out and try a new type of nuts soon though, because maybe I’ll like them too!

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I was at work longer than expected, so dinner got thrown together in just a few minutes when I got back to my room.  I cooked a porkchop and green beans in a pan on the stovetop (there’s no oven in my room), and microwaved a sliced apple for about a minute and a half.  I’ve never tried “cooking” an apple that way, but it was actually really delicious.  I bet a hot apple topped with a little bit of maple syrup or Greek yogurt would make an awesome dessert!

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After dinner, I spent some time picking up my room and getting organized for the days ahead, and I snacked on some gluten-free, wheat-free ginger snaps as I went.  (It sounds complicated, but they were actually really awesome.  I could identify all of the ingredients on the list and they tasted even better than other snaps I’ve tried.  The grocery store I’ve been going to here has a pretty great all-natural/gluten-free/dairy-free/etc. section, and I’ve found quite a few things that I like there.)

I’ve been feeling so much better this week staying away from gluten/dairy/grains entirely, and I’ve pretty much decided that I’m going to make a solid effort to stick with it.  Straying on Saturday to enjoy a meal out with my friend showed me that it does actually make a difference (in the form of a stomach ache) and I figure that it’s about time I finally commit 100%. 

Since most of what I normally eat is naturally gluten free (fruits, veggies, meats, nuts, seeds, etc.), and I’ve been staying away from dairy and grains lately anyway, it’s really not going to be that big of a change for me.  My daily diet won’t change much at all, but where it will come into play is in the desserts region of my diet.

I’m not saying there won’t be times that I’ll stray again (because there will be), but in the past, I’d eat well 90% of the time and then throw caution to the wind when it came to desserts or treats.  From now on though, I’m going to make a concerted effort to make even those special treats dairy/grain/gluten-free.  (Like these brownies, or these cookies, for example.)

People often think that “gluten-free” means “healthy,” but that’s not always the case, so please don’t be misled.  Many calorie- and fat-laden sweet treats are gluten free, but that certainly doesn’t mean you’re going to lose weight if you eat a whole batch of them.  I am hoping that it will finally allow me to get my stomach aches in check once and for all though… and for that, it’s totally worth it to me.

It’s time to get this week underway… Have a good one, friends! Smile


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