Weeknight Chopped Salad

Happy Friday morning! I am three weeks out of my January Whole30 reset and I may have fallen off the wagon a little more than I would have liked to. After January was over I went straight onto vacation and I never knew how much southern comfort food Florida had. When I say one morning, I had the largest biscuits and gravy meal I had ever seen, I’m not lying.

But now that I am back, home for a little more than a week, I decided to make sure this week was off to a good start. I made one of my favorite go-to’s and it’s perfect for meal prep earlier in the week. This huge chopped salad is a whole head of lettuce, a can of garbanzo beans, grape tomatoes halved, diced cucumbers, a can of olives halved topped with a little bit of feta. (A girl can’t be away from her cheese for too long.)

Making this salad on a Sunday or Monday allows me to have a quick lunch of dinner whenever I need it throughout the week and to change it up throughout the week, I change the protein I put on top. One day I had grilled sirloin, and one night I had scallops. Grilled shrimp and chicken are always easy to have ready to cook and throw on top also. And of course, to keep it as Whole30 friendly as possible, and because it’s one of the best store bought dressing I’ve ever had: Primal Kitchen’s Dreamy Italian dressing. I mean…. worth every penny.

 

Favorite Chick Flicks

Is there anything better than a movie night? Now a days we get so caught up binge watching the most recent Netflix or Amazon series that we don’t always sit down and watch a movie. Last weekend I dedicated my Sunday to sitting on my couch with some popcorn, in my sweats, with a cup of tea (which turned to a glass of wine as the night went on). It was good to get lost in some of my favorite movies. Bring on the couple that falls in love that you would never expect (but you always knew), the strong woman who is stronger than she knew herself, and the girl gang who you wish you were a part of. I ended up putting together a list of my favorite chick flicks for any occasion. So grab a glass of wine and enjoy. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Weekend in Philadelphia

Hey there friends, and happy Sunday! I spent the last week catching up and getting back to work. I was away for a long weekend that spilled into last week’s work week. This year, one of my goals was to visit 10 new cities and so far I got two under my belt. Last weekend I went down to St. Augustine, FL to do a little exploring, but a few weekends ago a group of us headed down to Philadelphia for my first weekend trip of the year.

I have a friend I grew up with who plays base in a band, so when we had the option to go to Boston, which we’ve all been to a million times before, or Philadelphia to see the Revivalist play, my friends and I chose Philly. We had the show at the Met on Saturday night so that gave us 24 hours to eat all the cheese steaks and visit as much of the historical city as we could.

What we did and Where we ate
Our first stop was food. We headed to Reading Terminal Market to explore Philly’s food scene. Conveniently located across the street from the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and just a few blocks from Philadelphia City Hall, Reading Terminal has a plethora of coffee shops, fish markets, cheese stands, and a ton of cheese steak places. We started our food explorations with Old City Coffee and an amazing black iced coffee.

For our first Philly Cheese Steak we tried Spataro’s traditional with cheese whiz and grilled onions. I know, I know I questioned it too but it wasn’t half bad. I’m not a huge fan of cheese steaks to begin with so this one didn’t really knock my socks off, but it was ok.

We walked a few blocks up Arch St. to snap a quick photo of the Chinatown Friendship Arch. There were so many eateries I would have loved to run into but we had just left Reading Terminal Market and were not ready to stuff our faces with Pho and Dim Sum.

After checking out Chinatown, we really wanted to see Love Park. We headed down Arch St. until we essentially walked straight into Love Park. Beautiful. The views down Benjamin Franklin Parkway, with the stunning views of the Philadelphia Museum of Art were outstanding. I would love to see these views during the summertime. I could only imagine how stunning it would be.

After all of our exploring and walking we needed to sit down and enjoy some of the libations Philadelphia had to offer. Sansom St. was very good to us. We visited Mission Taqueria, a cute bar that channeled all of my Los Angeles vibes with the indoor-outdoor feel and cute little outdoor courtyard in the middle of the restaurant. The drinks were fantastic but my favorite was the Bee Sting.

One thing that we kept hearing the entire day was that we needed to try Jim’s Steaks on South Street. Before this month, when I hear of Philly, I heard about Pat and Geno’s. The two dueling cheese steak restaurants that are open 24 hours, and fight for customers as well as the title of best cheesesteak in town. But the locals (and Ubers) said they’re both overrated. (Listen to your Ubers people, they know what they’re talking about.) We needed to go to Jim’s. We went late night, and it may have been the drinks from the concert so take this with a  grain of salt, but Jim’s was lifechanging. But in all seriousness, the area was beautiful. Skinny streets, pretty row homes, it looked like an area that would be great to walk around during the day, close to the water with a super local feel.

The next morning, we headed back to Sanson St. to Harp & Crown for one of the best brunches I ever had. Harp & Crown is a beautiful English pub style restaurant that apparently has a secret basement bowling ally for late nights. Next time I fully intend on taking advantage of this.

How we got around
Ultimately Philadelphia is a very walkable city. We stayed across the Schuylkill River right near the campuses of Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania. To get over to the city center it was about a 10-15 minute drive but parking is not too easy to find, and definitely not cheap. We decided to try out the SEPTA, or subway system.

We are used to New York City subways, where the stations are packed and the trains are plentiful. This was the complete opposite. There weren’t a ton of people on the subway, and it was pretty easy to get to different areas of the city on the subway, but we waited for about 10 minutes for our train. Once we were in town, we decided to check out Ubers to get back to our hotel and the price was AMAZING and there were a ton of cars available. It was even cheaper, and quicker to grab an Uber from our restaurant back to our hotel. From then on, we stuck to rideshares.

We didn’t get to try it out but there is a trolley system also run by SEPTA and it seems like there are a ton of stops as well. Maybe something to try out when the weather is a little warmer.

Where we stayed
We ended up staying a little out of city center, but the Sheraton Philadelphia University City was a great place to stay, especially if you are visiting either Drexel or the University of Pennsylvania. For us it was right along the subway line and just a quick two stops to city center.  There was a good amount of quick bite restaurants around and a few shops that we ended up taking advantage of to buy new outfits for the concert.

How an Eating Schedule is Helping me Succeed with Whole30

Happy hump day friends! It’s that time of year again. Resolutions, new goals, diets. For the past few years I have been doing Whole30 every January. In 2018 I didn’t do such a great job (I think I only lasted two weeks) and I didn’t even try to do it again in September like I normally do. Well now I am 15 days in (I always do it January 2-31) and I am feeling great.

Okay, well maybe great isn’t exactly the right terminology, but it is definitely doing its job. This weekend I cheated a little bit on my weekend trip to Philadelphia and man did I feel the pain of that cheese steak. I mean you can’t go to Philly and not try a cheese steak but damn, definitely not worth it.

What I like about Whole30 is that it isn’t a normal diet. It’s not here to make you loose weight. You are eating clean so you get rid of your bad eating habits and feel better. So, when I had my greasy steak and cheese, my body freaked out and didn’t know what to do anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in a cheat day, but maybe I should have had half of the sandwich instead of the whole thing.

This time around I have created a pretty good eating schedule which has helped a lot.           

   7am – Breakfast
2 cups of black coffee, hard boiled egg or Whole30 frittata
11am – Snack
Larabar or RXBar for a snack to hold me over for a few hours
    2pm – Lunch
rolled lunch meat and veggie sticks, protein and roasted root veggies, salad with protein
  6:30pm – Dinner
spaghetti squash with shrimp, Asian stir fry with cauliflower rice, protein and veggies

This week I meal prepped hard of Sunday. I made a Whole30 meatloaf to head up for lunches or dinners throughout the week, a veggie frittata to have for breakfasts and The Defined Dish’s Whole30 Tom Yum soup. The amount of ingredients intimidated me a little. I am a pretty decent cook but I like to stick to 5 ingredients or less, but wow! It was so easy! I would definitely recommend it.

In the evenings, I usually end up snacking on something, but for the past two weeks I’ve been sticking to hot water with lemon, decaffeinated tea, avocado and tomatoes with TJ’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning, or dried mango or plantain chips from Trader Joe’s.

15 more days!

Hello 2019!

Happy New Year friends! I hope everyone had an amazing holiday season. This year seemed especially busy with holiday parties and gatherings a couple times a week. As 2018 slowly came to an end, I did what I do around this time every year, looked back on the past 365 days to see how I’ve grown in the past year.

In December I had a lot of new going on. This past month I moved so it was a lot of reorganizing, getting rid of things I don’t need anymore and redecorating and buying furniture and décor I now need for my new space. Moving always stresses me out. (And you’d think I’d be used to it by now.) I hate the feeling of being unsettled, having blank walls and my clothes in piles, but for right now I am trying my hardest to go with the flow. I am glad most of the craziness is behind me and I finally get to settle in.

What I love right now:

Right now, I’ve been using a lot of Netflix to get my mind off of the mess that is moving boxes and building new furniture. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen every Netflix original Christmas movie this season. But now that the holidays are over, I am fully dedicated to Riverdale. It’s like Pretty Little Liars all over again. And YOU, have you seen YOU? Wow! I’ll do you a favor… go watch it!

I am back on the Whole30 train. Thank you, holidays. So far, a week in, and I am starting to feel great again. I am definitely going to be doing a few posts on Whole30 meal prep, recipes, and weekly menu.

Where I went:

This year I tried to chill with the traveling compared to 2017. Instead of taking 12 small trips like I did last year, in 2018 I took two international trips. Over the summer I went to Mexico for a much needed R&R girls weekend. I haven’t been on a beach getaway like that in almost 10 years and it was fantastic. You can read more about where we stayed and what we did here.

In the fall my road trip buddies, Michelle and Michelle, and I headed north to road trip through Alberta, Canada. It was amazing! The photos truly don’t do this area of the world justice. The colors of the lakes and the beauty of the mountains were jaw dropping. This trip helped me push my limits and step outside of my comfort zone. We stayed at one of my top 5 hotels, ate amazing food, and did more hiking than I thought I could.

Staying a little more local, my friends and I tried to embrace the winter as much as we could by exploring Lincoln, New Hampshire and visiting their annual Ice Castles. AMAZING! In March, a bunch of my friends and I headed to Boston for a weekend getaway. There is no where better in the world to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day besides in Boston, MA. It was great to get away for the weekend and party like we were 21 again. (Read about a past trip to Boston here.) Later in the spring a few of us kicked off the warm weather season with a quick trip to the Cape to explore one of New England’s hidden gems.

What I’m looking forward to:

2019 is already panning out to be a great year. I have a few trips already scheduled for the first half of the year. A weekend in Philladelphia, a bachelorette party in Charleston, and two trips to Los Angeles to watch one of my closest LA-friends get married. I’m hoping the second half of the year is a little calmer, but I’d love to stick some sort of trip in the back half of the year. I’ve been throwing around either Cuba, Oktoberfest in Germany, or just a simple solo trip to Burlington, VT. We will see.

Work wise, things have been really exciting. I started 2018 with a promotion at work, and in June, I got another one. It’s been really encouraging to watch the growth of my company and where they are headed and I am beyond happy to be a part of it. Who knows where this year will lead.

2019 Goals:

I’m not going to boar you with my goals. Each year I make a list of resolutions, or goals, in my daily planner so that I can look at them regularly and hold myself accountable. They’re actual goals, with numbers, and dollar amounts, and intentions to continue to push myself to grow and live as balanced as I can.

Ironically this year a few of my goals require me to work more, and harder. But instead of seeing this as a negative, it just shows how important it is to be intentional with your time. A few years ago I read Chip and Joanna Gaine’s book and I realized that everything they do, they do intentionally. They push their business, their family, and their relationship and the result is to live their best life. Work hard, play hard, right?

This year I am going to keep my goals private, but overall, live intentionally, spend money intentionally, spend time intentionally.