Whole 30: Week Two

Each January I take full advantage of it as a time to reset. I blame it on my time in retail where January was the time of year we could take vacation freely, work 30-hour weeks if we want, and had very little work. My January reset is kind of a big deal to me and I use it to plan a lot of my upcoming year. The new year means no more holiday excuses when it comes to food, not working out, and just being straight lazy.

Two years ago I did Whole 30 for the first time and it was amazing. I learned a lot about myself like a. I have very little self control and b. it’s a lot harder to teach an old dog new tricks than I thought. But two years ago, I did a lot better than I had expected. Last January I did Whole 30 again but I went on a trip home in the middle of the month and when you only get to eat your Italian mom’s cooking a few times a year, you eat as much pasta and cheese you can.

This December I indulged more than I have in the past. My job was slow, the cookies seemed to be endless and the wine was often. And hello an extra 10 pounds.

I am two weeks into Whole 30 and just like with anything, there are things I am winning at and things I am sucking at.

Biggest changes since the first time I did it

The biggest change that I have made since the first time I did Whole 30 is something that definitely affects me every day, and something that I didn’t really know ever affected me before. I have cut a lot of dairy out of my daily diet. I drank creamer in my coffee and now I like it black. I cut back a lot on ice cream, which is a big difference in my life. (Ice cream was really the only dessert I was allowed growing up and I worked at an ice cream shop while in high school. Ice cream was like a religion before.)

Since cutting back on dairy I’ve switched solely to almond milk for everything I need milk for. My protein shakes and even my Kraft Mac and Cheese gets almond milk. (I said I cut out most dairy… cheese is still in my life.) It makes me feel 100 times better. I never realized the way dairy slows me down and really just makes me feel like crap. Now cheese doesn’t affect me at all, which I am beyond grateful for. (Have you ever had non-dairy cheese? Yuck!)

What I’m buying

I do most of my grocery shopping at Trader Joes which is a great spot to pick up ingredients for quick and easy meals on Whole 30. Most of my lunches are salads with a protein. I love topping TJ’s turkey burger on a salad or chicken. Here are some of my other go tos:

Proteins: chicken sausage, chicken, ground turkey, salmon, shrimp, eggs
Veggies: zoodles, riced cauliflower/broccoli, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, butternut squash, avocado, broccoli slaw
Snacks: dehydrated fruits, almond butter, rice thins, Larabars, salsa verde, apples

Where I’m cheating and where I’m not

Okay, if I am completely honest I would have to say I am 85% complaint on Whole 30. I have cheated a few times when it comes to small ingredients. If I’m out getting dinner with friends or having dinner at my parents I use real salad dressing. I try my hardest to keep the main part of my meal complaint but a restaurant has a oil and vinegar based dressing, I’m going to go for it. I’m not about eating romaine lettuce with some lemon and calling it a day.

I also have cheated with dairy based butters. I was at my mom’s and she only had yogurt butter spread. Girls got to do what a girls got to do. And I figured that’s already better than real butter so it’s only halfway cheating. Right?

But there are some parts of Whole 30 that I am not even walking the line of cheating. My biggest problems, for sure, are cheese, carbs, and alcohol. So far two weeks in I haven’t touched any of them. I mean what I would do for a dish of pasta and a good glass of wine, but I’m halfway done with my 30 days so it’s all up from here.

The key is introducing these back into my diet in moderation. It’s been pretty easy for the alcohol. It has been beyond cold here so instead of a glass of wine, I’ve been opting for some hot tea. And not many people do much in the winter in New England as far as going out to dinners or bars, so meal prepping has been my best friend.

Weekend in Boston

Growing up in Connecticut you are one of two types of people. Red Sox or Yankees, Pats or Giants (ok, there are the few, like my family that shamefully love the Jets also), Boston or New York. I have always been a New York girl. My family are hardcore Yankees fans and the quick 90-minute train ride into the city always made it easy to go watch a play on Broadway, explore China town, or window shop on Fifth Ave.

I can count the number of times I’ve been to Boston on two hands, and each time I was with someone else who knows Boston much better than I do. I always took the back seat on planning, exploring, and leading the way. So basically, I feel like I have never been there until last month.

In December my sister and I took a weekend trip up to Bean Town to experience their winter activities, check out the historical sightsee, and find some amazing foodie spots. It was the perfect, preholiday getaway.

Where we stayed:
If you’ve been around here a while you know I love me a good hotel and here we hit the jackpot. Since becoming a travel agent, I have become quite the hotel snob. We spent two nights at Boston Park Plaza hotel, a AAA Four Diamond hotel that is registered with the Historic Hotels of America. We had a Deluxe Room that gave us an amazing view of Park Plaza and sunrise views over Boston Public Garden and Boston Common.

For the most part, everything was within walking distance to our hotel which was great because I don’t like driving through cities I don’t know too much. Also, lucky for us, it was easy on and off of the Mass Pike (Route 90) and Route 93. And while they had easy Valet parking just outside the door to the hotel, there was also an off-site garage about a half a block down the street where we parked.

Where we ate:
Directly next to our hotel was an awesome little Irish pub, MJ OConnors where we ate the first night we got there. Staying true to Boston’s Irish roots I got Fish and Chips. Okay, okay, I know this is a little more English but I’m an Italian girl so that’s as close as you’re getting me to meat and potatoes. While the food was great the drinks were just okay. Stick with what the Irish like and you’ll be good: beer and whiskey.

The next morning, we started with a cold brew from Ziggy’s Coffee Bar before eating an early lunch at 21st Amendment on the north-east corner of the Common. This little, prohibition era themed, whole in the wall reminded me of anyone’s neighborhood bar. I had the 21st Hangover Burger which was topped with a fried egg. Put a fried egg on a burger and I am a happy girl. But they also had a braised short ribs grilled cheese which is defiantly what I will be trying next time.

That night I wanted Italian. Boston is supposed to have fantastic Italian food and I wanted a taste. We headed down Newbury St. to Papa Razzi Trattoria where I started with a Caprese salad. Stepping outside of my normal, penne ala vodka for my first time at a new Italian restaurant, my sister and I both ended up having Porcini Agnolotti, a lightweight pasta with wild mushrooms in a sherry sauce. A. Maz. Zing. UH! Literally probably one of the best dishes I’ve had in a long time. The food was amazing, the service was fantastic. We had to wait a while for a seat, but in the city on a Saturday night, we didn’t expect anything less. Hands down most fantastic meal of the weekend.

We spent the night at Sip Wine Bar and Kitchen and then headed over to Off the Common, our hotel’s lobby bar for a night cap. The next morning, we headed back over the Newbury St. to the Thinking Cup. A cut little local coffee shop with three locations throughout the city.

What we did:
Saturday morning, we woke up pretty early and started exploring the city. We walked through Boston Public Garden and Boston Commons. The cold weather kept the Swan Boats out of the water but was perfect for the ice skaters on the Frog Pond.

We headed east out of the Common. past Granary Burying Ground where Sam Adams and Paul Revere are both buried, past the Old South Meeting House and to Faneuil Hall where we browsed the shops and debated on stopping for another cup of coffee. Tip: If you are visiting Boston to explore the historical aspects of the city, get a Freedom Trail map. We pasted by a lot of important spots like the Boston Massacre Site and the Old State House and had no idea until we were looking at a map later on in the day. Also go out near Faneuil Hall at night. It was freezing so we stayed pretty close to our hotel at night but I’ve been out in that area before and it’s a ton of fun. The Black Rose is fantastic and so much fun.

Across the street from Faneuil Hall is Boston’s City Hall where just behind there was a holiday market with an ice skating rink built for visitors. Boston Winter is open through February and has booths selling all sorts of homemade goods. Olive wood kitchenware, family crest historical pieces, homemade lotions, soaps and candles, and so much more. I loved it.

After spending the morning walking around and exploring, we took an Uber over to the Sam Adams Brewery for a quick little afternoon tour. While I have been on much more in depth brewery tours (Hey Guinness Storehouse!) the tour ended with a half hour long tasting which was super informative and delicious. Super interesting: the Boston brewery on Germania St. is the smallest location of all Sam Adams’ breweries. Because it’s so small, they can’t mass produce much so they use the location to test experimental beers on guests that sometimes go to make bigger batches, and sometimes don’t. We tried a Marzen style nano brew, which I loved.

Boston is a perfect getaway for anyone from New England or even just flying in for a couple of days before heading over to Europe. The food options in Boston were way better than I had anticipated and the coffee shops and little bars were perfect. And for the historians out there, is there anything more historical than Boston? Where’s your favorite spot in Boston? I’m hoping to get up there again this summer and would love some more recommendations!

Hello 2018!!

I usually don’t say things like this but I am more than happy to bid 2017 adieu. This past year was a big test to me. A test of strength in myself, friendships and trust, patience in my career, and prioritization of my life. This was also a year of exploration and travel. A year full of monthly weekend getaways.

I don’t mean to sound negative because I don’t look at this year as a bad year at all, just a year of growth and learning. And I am glad to put a lot of the year’s hurdles behind me and keep moving forward. I started this year in Scottsdale with my fiancé. Flash forward six months and I was packing up my life into my car with my sister and best friend moving back home to Connecticut. And now six months later, I am ringing in the new year in Newport, RI with the people who truly have been there for me for my entire life.

What I love right now:

I always try to stay away from trendy shows but somehow always fall on the bandwagon against my will. It took me two seasons to get into Walking Dead and six seasons to drink the Game of Thrones kool aid. But only halfway through season two I am fully on board with This Is Us. I binged all of the current episodes in 5 days. Obsessed! I cannot wait for the season to start again next month. Does anyone have any other good Netflix shows to watch?? I hear Riverdale is mindless and great. What do you think?

Per the usual during the winters I am stocking up on cozy sweaters and yummy candles. My new favorite are these DW Home candles that I found at Home Goods. I even picked up a few Rose Quartz for the spring. January welcomes back my weekly yoga classes that have become a good go to during my crazy weeks at work.

Where I went:

Like I said, 2017 is the year of the weekend getaway. I took only one week off over the entire year and it was completely consumed with my move across the country. Most of my other weekends were filled to the brim with weddings, bachelorette parties, visiting family, and exploring new cities. I have been so blessed to have lived in two amazing locations this year where I could take quick road trips.

Besides my west coast to east coast road trip this year I also road tripped to Scottsdale, Las Vegas, Vermont, Salem, MA, Boston and now this weekend in Rhode Island. I also took further trips home to Connecticut at the beginning of the year and down to Atlanta and Orlando this fall.

What I’m looking forward to:

One thing I learned in 2017 is to not plan too far ahead. This year I have two international trips lightly planned and that it so far. (Dates set, but not tickets bought yet.) Last year at this time I had bought and paid for 5 of 6 of my cross-country trips. In 2018 I plan on going with the flow and taking the year as it comes.

Today I started a new job, a promotion in an office much closer to my house. (I’m talking like a mile from home.) I’m excited for this next chapter since this is what I’ve been working toward for the past two years. Truth be told I tried to put this off as long as I could. My manager in California tried to make me take the plunge to the next step but I have this thing about really wanting to know everything about every job that I lead, so I decided to stay in my position and learn more. But sometimes you need to step outside of your comfort zone.

2018 Goals:

I have a big list of goals for 2018. I have personal goals, financial goals, and professional goals all written down in my daily planner where I can see them and be reminded of what I’m working toward each day. I do this every year and somehow, they tend to fizzle away mid-March. This year I created a few lifestyle changes to set me up for my goals. I’m hoping these will keep me in check for the rest of the year.

-Be better about self-wellness

Like I said earlier, I have been doing yoga once a week and since I’ve been back on the east coast, gym has been a semi regular part of my schedule. Both are great me time where I don’t think about anything and just work on myself. I defiantly plan on upping that in 2018.

I am also kicking off January with my third time doing Whole 30. My first time was in April 2016 which was super successful. I felt great and lost a lot of water weight. Then last January I did it again for about two weeks before going on a quick vacation where I blew it all. Plan is to get through the whole 30 days this time around. January 2 through January 30.

-Make a morning routine

Part of my self-wellness is removing the stressors in my life and one of the silliest stressors I have each morning, is not getting out of bed after my first alarm. It’s a terrible habit where I roll out of bed 10 minutes before having to leave for work. It has got to stop! New week, new year, new job. Since I live a whole 3 minutes from my new office I am going to keep waking up when I was before. That will give me almost an hour to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee, while I get ready instead of rushing it on my way to work. It will also give me time for a second cup of coffee so #winning. The extra time will defiantly make mornings more relaxing.

-Create a weekly schedule

It’s been damn cold here in Connecticut and once I get home from work, the last thing I want to do is go out again. All I want to do is put sweats on and watch TV from my couch. But not this year. This year to encourage me to GSD (get shit done) I am going to schedule my weeks. Something like this: Sunday-gym, Monday-write, Tuesday-yoga, Wednesday-gym, Thursday-write, Friday-gym. I usually do pretty well on a schedule but this is a little much. We will see how it goes.

Most of all, in 2018 I just want to grow. Year after year, it doesn’t matter what happens to you, as long as you continue to grow as a person. 2017 you sure kicked my ass. Sayonara!

My 3 Favorite Holiday Drinks

I love the change of seasons. Mind you I understand I am saying this at the beginning of the winter, and it so far as only lightly snowed twice. I guess we can revisit this in a few months when I am two feet under snow, can’t leave my house, and haven’t seen the sun in months. But for right now: I love the change of seasons.

One of my favorite parts of the beginning of each season is reintroducing myself to the season flavors that I haven’t had in the past nine months. Fresh fruits and veggies have always been a big part of the way I eat, cook, and drink thanks to my super all-natural mother who loves herself a farmers market. This year I have a lot of get togethers that I am hosting and attending and the Italian in me needs to bring something new to each one.

Today I put together my three favorite winter drinks that I am sure you will love. A Blackberry Whiskey Ginger, a Christmas Cran-Vodka, and a Hot Toddy for those snow days that you need a little pick me up.

Blackberry Whiskey Ginger

Last summer I became obsessed with Irish Mules. I love me some whiskey and ginger, but I just can’t do ginger beer anymore. Most of them are just too sweet for me and that means instant head ache. Here I made homemade rosemary simple syrup, used ginger ale and fresh blackberries and the drink is just so much fresher and lighter.

Rosemary Simple Syrup
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
5 springs of fresh rosemary

Place everything in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Let boil for one minute while constantly whisking to ensure all of the sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Remove rosemary and strain into a glass container. Allow to cool to room temperature and chill.

6 blackberries to muddle, 4 blackberries for garnish
1 ½ oz Paddy Irish Whiskey
1 oz rosemary simple syrup
½ lime, juiced
6 oz Seagram’s ginger ale

1. Muddle six blackberries into the bottom of a copper cup or glass.
2. Fill cup halfway with ice.
3. Add Paddy’s Irish Whiskey, rosemary simple syrup.
4. Squeeze in juice from half of a lime.
5. Fill Seagram’s ginger ale to the top of cup.
6. Lightly stir with cocktail spoon, top with blackberry garnish.

Christmas Cran-Vodka

I’m not going to lie, I don’t enjoy cranberry or vodka too much but when you are hosting a dinner or a party, you got to have what the people want and for most people, you can’t really go wrong with a cran-vodka. This is just a little twist on a college cran-vodka.

1 ½ oz vodka
2 oz cranberry juice
Seagram’s ginger ale
½ lime, juiced
Cranberries for garnish

1. Fill 6 oz glass with a few ice cubes.
2. Add vodka and cranberry juice over ice.
3. Fill cup with ginger ale.
4. Mix lightly with cocktail spoon and top with juice from half a lime.
5. Top with cranberries and a lime sphere.

Hot Toddy

For as long as I can remember, as soon as anyone in my house started feeling sick, my mom would make you a hot toddy. It didn’t matter how old you were, you were having some tea with a shot of whiskey in it. Most cultures have some of this. While I was living in Los Angeles a lot of my friends would say their parents would give them a shot a tequilla when they started not feeling well. It’s a very old school way of self-medicating, (wow that sounds terrible) but I still make myself a hot toddy as soon as I feel a cold coming on.

English breakfast tea
1 oz whiskey or scotch
1 tsp local honey
Lemon wedge
Cinnamon stick

1. Steep English breakfast tea 5 minutes.
2. Add one ounce whiskey or scotch and 1-2 tsp of local honey.
3. Squeeze in one lemon wedge.
4. Top with cinnamon or add in a cinnamon stick.


Friday Five: Christmas Traditions

I’ve been talking a lot about Christmas this year. Here, here, and all of those gift guides. But I’m still not Christmased out yet.

With just over a week until Christmas, I’ve been making sure I’ve checked off all of my holiday must dos before December 25. This year I really made it a point to take in every moment of the holiday season. This is the first Christmas I’ve spent with my family since 2010. This is also the first holiday I’ve been out of the retail world since 2008. It’s been a good past few months to just sit back and take in everything around me.

I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite holiday traditions I’ve been able to enjoy this season.

Holiday Cookie Swap

Next week my girlfriends and I are getting together not to swap gifts, but instead something everyone could enjoy: cookies. Now I suck at baking, so my boozy hot cocoa bar will be my contribution to the group. More about that next week on the blog, but trust me, I was doing everyone a favor by not baking. (Although I can make a mean biscotti, but that’s about where it ends.) This was just such a great way for all of us to get together, not spend a ton of money on gifts or dinner, and relax.

Embrace New York City during its prime

The holidays are one of my favorite times of year to visit the city. It’s festive and busy and oh so cliché. Give me all of the decorations, big cozy jackets, hats, gloves, warmed street nuts, and a vat of hot cocoa while strolling the streets of Manhattan. This year I was able to see the Rockette’s Christmas Spectacular for the first time and it made my Christmas in the city experience that much better.

Take a trip

If you follow me on Instagram, you know a few weeks ago I went up to Boston. Being able to have a quick getaway thrown in during the busy holiday season was perfect. And going to a city like Boston, we were able to stay in the holiday spirit. A full post about our weekend in Boston will be up in the new year, but you can check out some of my past holiday getaways to Big Bear, Scottsdale, and California’s Central Coast.

Have a movie night

The holidays can be exhausting, stressful and crazy juggling the added holiday parties, dinners, and shows on top of your normal daily schedule. Take some time for yourself with a glass of wine and take out, turn off your phone and watch some o your favorite holiday movies. I make sure to watch Elf and the Holiday at least once every December but in the past few years I have really added to my Christmas movie favorites.

Take a drive to look at Christmas lights

Most cities have “that house.” In Los Angeles Christmas lights were at a new level. With so many people in the film and television industry, they had so many connections to lights and projections that aren’t really on the market. Each Christmas we made it a tradition to stroll Candy Cane Lane in off of Oxnard St in Woodland Hills, CA. Here you can see a group of about four streets that come together and put up elaborate Christmas decorations. You may have to sit through an insane amount of traffic to see the all of the houses, but it is absolutely worth it.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?? Post your answers below!