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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

See ya, 2013. It's been real.

As 2013 comes to an end, the most prominent thought in my mind is not how great of a year it's been or how much I'm looking forward to the new year. Instead I find myself thinking about how long it will take me to get used to writing 2014 rather than 2013. I'm giving it until at least March. And I'm being generous.

Just kidding, sort of.

2013 was a great year overall. It had its rough patches, but compared to the tragedies and hardships from 2010-2012, I'll take it. 2013 was the year of yoga,

coming to terms with myself, hard work towards personal goals and my job (the latter is not necessarily by choice), crazy happenstances, and stepping out of my comfort zone.

I met new people (some of which my life would have been better without, but that is all a part of my theory of balance), made some personal changes, became addicted to Candy Crush,
Why?!?!! Fucking Candy Crush.

and took chances I never imagined myself taking five years ago. Like randomly sending out an email to a trivia company and getting hired. This is the same girl that wore black sweatshirts regardless of weather and hid behind her hair in high school, didn't party in college, and is still to this day the most chronic mumbler on the planet. And I love my late nights, starting random conversations with whoever seems interesting, and talking loud and clear - so I hope - into a microphone. Go figure.

I've considered making a few New Year's resolutions for 2014, but all that comes to mind are the typical exercise more, eat healthier, and drink less that all American women seem to begrudgingly vow to adhere to every January. Honestly, I don't think it's healthy for me to make a solid resolution because of my tendency to become obsessed with these little goals, viewing them as challenges and taking them too far. If I'm trying to make progress with gaining weight, reducing anxiety, and learning to go with the flow of things, my 2014 resolutions will need to reflect that.

My 2014 Resolutions:

1. Live in the moment and appreciate it for what it is.

2. Yoga, on and off the mat. Yes, that may sound cryptic, but it makes sense to me. Yoga is not just a form of exercise, it is a state of mind.

3. Embrace social opportunities.

4. Write. Whether it's blogging, creative writing for my personal enjoyment, or finally getting a job that allows me to use this skill (fingers crossed).

5. Do what makes me happy. I've found that I'm a much more pleasant person now that I eat more, care less about my appearance, and enjoy a drink or two regularly for either social reasons or to unwind before bed with a small glass of wine. I really debated "cleaning up" my diet, cutting out stevia and packaged foods that I enjoy, and giving up alcohol, but is it really worth it? No. I'd lose weight and be cranky. Plus, I'm 24. I need to embrace my youth while I can.

Now I'm off to MC some bowling event, give out prizes, and countdown to the New Year. I expect to be highly entertained. I hope everyone has a happy and safe New Years' Eve! Peace out, 2013!

Monday, December 30, 2013

MIMM: Sometimes you just need a reminder

As a favor to myself, I'm taking the time to link up to Katie's Marvelous in my Monday.
Marvelous is...
The beautiful Christmas gift my yoga instructor made for me. It's so adorable and thoughtful!
Marvelous is...
Nights out with old friends and staging Instagram photos to capture dumb moments. 
Of course this wine has fruit notes and the aroma of red grapes. Kevin is a true sommelier. I had to pay homage.
Marvelous is...
Lunch plans with old friends to introduce them to new places. 
After seeing that picture, I don't think I need to explain myself for knowing his mind will be blown. Check out all that falafel/tabouli/grilled vegetable action. Nom nom nom.
Marvelous is...
Hot yoga, followed by drinks and appetizers with fellow yogis. 
You know I'm going for that shrimp cocktail and jumbo sangria.
Marvelous is...
Another short work week. I won't focus on the fact that it's the last one until late spring. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas may be over, but the holiday craziness persists

Finding the time to sit down and write a blog post has been damn near impossible this month between all the holiday preparation, social events, the insanity of work, and lingering exhaustion from the combination of it all. I don't even quite have the energy nor the inspiration to write a post tonight. I've been at a family party for the past few hours and it took all my energy to pretend to be happy to be there. I promise I'll be better at this when things calm down and my winter hibernation begins. I also just ordered an iPad mini case and keyboard. Woo!

On my agenda for the rest of the night:
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland
I have a stomachache, probably from consuming far too much of the only vegetables available at aforementioned family function, carrots and Sabra hummus (not my favorite, but I was STARVING). The popcorn I ate upon arriving home didn't settle my tummy troubles as expected, so I'm really banking on this gingerbread tea to ease my pain. It doesn't help that my chest is also radiating pain lingering from a far-too-tight embrace/attempt to crack my back on Friday night. Pretty sure my chestplate has some bruising. I can't really take Motrin when I'm feeling nauseous. Not feeling acid reflux.

I just started watching Once Upon a Time in Wonderland when I have the chance, and I have to say it's a pretty solid spinoff of Once Upon a Time. The cast and characters are great, however, there just isn't anyone as attractive as Captain Hook. WHY IS ONCE UPON A TIME ON HIATUS UNTIL SPRING?!!?!

I'm planning to meet with my friend for some fantastic falafel (alliteration!) and Middle Eastern cuisine at Sonya's Near East Deli in Cranston in the late afternoon tomorrow. FYI: If you live in RI and have the chance to stop by Sonya's Near East, I highly recommend it. Prices are very reasonable, service is awesome, and the menu is amazing. I have to be honest, I like it better than East Side Pockets. So sue me. Mondays also mean vinyasa yoga and hot yoga. Namaste!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013

Christmas always comes and goes too fast. All of this insanity for one day, then it's done and we fall into the frigid winter months with nothing to look forward to until Spring. And living in New England, that doesn't guarantee a significant climate change.

End rant. Cue Christmas recap.

I believe it's true that we learn something new everyday. I spent my entire Christmas Eve prepping food, baking up a storm, and attempting to clean up before church. I cooked quinoa, baked gingersnap cookies and peanut butter cup cookies, baked gingerbread protein bars (I followed Peas and Thank You's amazing recipe), and diced veggies, all while intermittently cleaning up after myself, from 9am straight through 3:15pm. What did I learn from all of this, you ask? I learned that when my family insists at 3:10 that I attend Christmas Eve mass starting at 4pm and I'm a flour-covered mess still in my pajamas, I transform myself into a presentable human being in less than 15 minutes, makeup and all. 

Pretty impressive if I do say so myself. And a valuable lesson learned.

P.S. Is my sister gorgeous or what? I wish I had half her looks.

The end results of my morning chaos:
Gingerbread bars unpictured, they just aren't attractive desserts when your best camera is on your iPad.

Needless to say in my mad rush, I never even thought to wrap my Christmas gifts. So that meant returning home from work to run to the basement and discretely wrap everything before my family arrived. Barely got it done.

Now that we're all older, my family just does all of the gifts on Christmas morning. It's cute that my mom still writes "from Santa" on our gifts. I really hate when people buy me gifts, honestly. I'd rather see them use the money towards themselves or someone else. I have everything I need already; however, I was not at all disappointed in my gifts.
Rocking my festive Santa pjs, my gifts spread on the floor (don't mind the dog bed haha), and my new boots
Crappy pictures, but we had to hurry to get dressed and head to the cemetery to spend some time with Dad on Christmas. Christmas sure is different without him here. He had so much Christmas spirit, he was like a little kid. I love and miss him so much...

What a goon. 
Our family is pretty small now. Including the four of us, we had 10 people for dinner. At least it gives me the chance to be a little more creative with side dishes knowing there are less people to please.
This year's experiment was a recipe I threw together on the fly. Red quinoa, red cabbage, sugar snap peas, mushrooms, and scallions lightly sautéed in a wok with a dressing of sesame oil, soy sauce, Ginger, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, pepper, and garlic. I had three servings of that shit, no shame. Along with two small sweet potatoes, tons of roasted asparagus, and fresh green beans. I hate that ham is the traditional protein for Christmas dinner, I just can't eat it. It grosses me out.

We spent the rest of the evening playing Who's on my Head and just hanging out enjoying each other's company. We ended the night watching Just Friends.

Monday, December 23, 2013

MIMM: Tis the season to swap gifts, bake cookies, and reminisce

Hello, Monday. I'll get back to you after I recap the weekend.

My friends hosted a $10-limit Yankee Swap at their apartment on Saturday night. I nommed on some chips and salsa, chai almonds, and homemade red sangria, played some Scattergories, and caught up with a few friends I haven't seen in a while. It was a pretty lax gathering with a small crowd, but I totally appreciate the fact that all in attendance share the same awkward sense of humor. Yankee swap gifts were prime.

I almost ended up with this bad boy:
Lil' Raskull. Christian rapper extraordinaire, straight from the dirty south.
Alas (or not), I ended up with my own gift:
Puppy calendar, desk calendar, and planner pack.
Am I disappointed? Hell no. Other gifts in the mix included a pooping reindeer, massaging pillow, Robsessed (a DVD all about the wonder that is Rob Pattinson), a bottle of pomegranate Burnett's (hello, college), a cookie skillet kit, and scratch tickets ($3 of winnings were had, FYI.)

I dedicated my entire Sunday to baking Christmas cookies. Isn't it odd how I'm the one assigned the task of making cookies when I don't eat them? Of course, I recruit the help of indulgers to keep things fair. My mom was none too happy to be given the job of crushing candy canes for peppermint meltaway cookies. I also coerced my sister and her boyfriend into rolling the cookie dough for red velvet cookies. I'm not particularly fond of the sticky batter and lingering red tint that results from baking those cookies. Refer to the picture of Ryan's tainted fingers (bottom right, below).

Red velvet cookies, peppermint meltaways, and egg biscuits
I made the batter for gingersnaps and set it in the fridge to bake on Christmas Eve when I have more time. I also decided to experiment with a sugar-free cookie for myself to indulge in...I have to do something with that stevia I won in a giveaway after all.

Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Cookies!

Not the most appetizing-looking photo of the finished product, but I find all dark brown baked goods are difficult to make pretty. I swear these taste like Nutella brownie cookies. Recipe at the end of the post.

I've definitely noticed myself thinking about my dad a lot and finding myself in conversations that lead to him. For the first year since he died, I'm not feeling that overwhelming sadness when I think about Christmas without him despite his continuous presence in my mind. It's bittersweet. I feel like I am finally coming to terms with the holidays without him, learning to accept the fact that he isn't here and finding comfort in the memories of him. He and my Uncle Bob have been making consistent cameo appearances in my dreams, so they kind of are here celebrating Christmas with me. 

Last night, I took the time to reread a short story I wrote about my dad's death. I hadn't looked at it since I last revised it and read it the first Christmas after he died. It was hard to look at, the wounds were too fresh. I really want to try to submit it for publication in a literary journal soon. I just have to find the right one and write a really good cover letter to go along with it. It's crazy how difficult it is to get things published though, so I'll have to revisit this after New Years.

One last marvelous side note - after a week of overindulgence and lack of physical activity, I was so happy for two hours of yoga on Saturday and Sunday morning. I thought I'd struggle more than I did with balance or lifting weights, but I managed. My mom was the one who really had an awesome weekend breakthrough. The real success of this weekend is how far she's come with her flexibility. I'm so proud of her! Check out how low she is in that split! 

Linking up to Katie's MIMM!

As promised, I'll end this post with the recipe for Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Cookies.

Sugar-free Nut Butter Cookies


  • 1 cup natural nut butter of choice (I used Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter, yum!)
  • 1/4 cup egg whites, or 1 egg
  • 1/2 granulated stevia (or the equivalent of 1 cup of sugar*)
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut flour 
Mix all ingredients in a medium sized bowl until well combined. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes. 
Preheat oven to 350° F
Roll into 1-inch balls and place about an inch apart on a non-stick baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, removing from the oven when they are still slightly soft to the touch*.
Cool on wire racks, and enjoy!

* These cookies can be made using 1 cup of sugar or splenda, depending on your preference, if stevia isn't your thing.

* If you like crunchy cookies, bake for 10-12 minutes, but watch carefully for burning.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Nights of lights upon lights

I will preface this blog post by saying that I have had en extremely eventful week. Do I feel guilty about all the eating, late nights, and lack of exercise? Yes, but I'm really trying not to. And I'm actually finding it easy to push those thoughts to the back of my mind and hope for more weeks like this in the future.   

I am so thankful to my Uncle Mark for thinking to invite me to Trans Suberian Orchestra on Wednesday night. I've always wanted to go, but it seems to sell out every year. Now I know why.

Holy lights, lasers, and long-haired men.

Last night I had no plans to go out. All I really wanted to do was chill at home on my couch doing next to nothing, however, when my sister actually wants me to do something with her, I jump at the opportunity. I have to say our relationship has been so much better than in the past recently, which really makes me happy. 

Anyway, my mom, sister, and I headed to LaSalette Shrine to meet up with her boyfriend's family and a couple of her friends. I haven't been to LaSalette since before my dad passed away and it has definitely changed.
They added thousands of LED lights this year and it is absolutely gorgeous.
I've always loved the indoor display of the hand-crafted nativity scenes. There were far too many to get pictures of, but I thought this big display was pretty cool.
We also lit a candle in memory of my dad. 
I just wish the prayer steps hadn't been closed due to ice. Not like I pray, but I had done the stairs with my dad when I was a kid and it would have been nice to do that again.

Overall, a solid week. Today I return to yoga after my brief-yet-far-too-lengthy hiatus. Definitely going to struggle there ha. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Who doesn't love a free party?

Let me start off by saying how much I love not being at work during the middle of the week. I'm sitting on my couch in my pajamas at 11am with no agenda until tonight and it's awesome. And I return to only two days of work until the weekend, woo hoo! But I digress...

WRIK Entertainment, the company that hired me as a trivia host, is also Arpeggio Wedding Entertainment, a DJing and lighting company for weddings, corporate events, private parties, etc. At the end of this year's wedding season, I was asked to assist with DJing a wedding and a 16th birthday party following that, so I guess I'm now an assistant DJ in addition to a trivia host. I wear many hats, apparently.

Basically this warranted an invite to an annual holiday party for Southern New England Weddings at the Biltmore Hotel in Providence.

The event was absolutely gorgeous, from the lobby decor to the decorations and table centerpieces. There was a photo booth set up with a table of props, which we took full advantage of. Mustache sunglasses and elf hats were donned.

The food was also incredible. Spinach stuffed chicken breast, mashed sweet potatoes, grilled shrimp skewers, lamb (yes, I tried lamb and enjoyed it), fresh fruit, and a variety of pickled vegetables, breads, and cheeses. Wine and beer was also free. Win. We ate, networked, and danced to the live band until about 8:15pm, then headed to Trinity Brewhouse for wings and beer. I was all set on both, I had a glass of wine and was so stuffed from the party, so I just hung out. Definitely a fun night overall.

Tuesday morning I was able to go to yoga since I took the day off work. Daytime classes are nice because they're usually smaller and I can work on whatever I want. This particular day was basically a private lesson with Paula, although we spent most of the time talking and laughing than actually working out. The second class was a little more productive since another person showed up. Paula also snapped a picture of me doing this pose that I have been obsessed with recently. Don't ask why, I just find it really fun in its awkwardness.
So now I'm home wasting time until Trans Siberian Orchestra with my godfather tonight. No complaints here! :)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

I'm a terrible blogger... here's a picture of a walrus
Photo credit:

You're welcome.

Oh, I just found out I didn't win the Mega Millions. So much for choosing that prize during the cleaning day raffle at work yesterday. Womp Womp.

At least my desk is disturbingly clean and I found my avocado stress ball!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Rocking my Hot Booties

Thursday night and I'm sitting on my couch in my pajamas by 8pm, drinking tea and eating popcorn, and wearing my Hot Booties.
Best Yankee Swap win of 2012
Pop those bad boys in the microwave for a minute and, boom, instant warmth. They also have the added benefit of lavender scent and imposing awkward clown shoe mobility.

Lame? Maybe. But I definitely needed it. It's exhausting to sit and chatter my teeth all day at work.

I can't say my job is all bad, though. I adore some of the people I work with.

Yesterday was the agency Christmas pot luck/gift swap, which involved lots of baked goods and bad pizza. At least I wasn't sitting in the conference room in the dark for 90 minutes watching a webinar with cold air blasting on me from the AC like I was today. Sorry, I'm easily distracted by traumatic memories of arctic temperatures.

Back to the point of this tiny tangent. I walked away from the gift swap with a gold Michael Kors wallet, which I totally wasn't into at first. But the more I look at it, the more I like it. My coworker gave a winery tour and tasting for two at Shelalara Vineyards in Coventry, which the new administrative assistant won. I've been on the tour before and really enjoyed it. The wines were really different (flavors like blueberry merlot, strawberry reisling, and watermelon merlot), and some were made to freeze to wine slushies. I told her about the wine tasting and she seemed really into it. When I got into the office today, though, she came by my cubicle with the gift and insisted I take it. I ain't mad.

Anyone interested in joining me for a wine tasting?

P.S. - I apologize for jumping all over the place. I'm too lazy to edit my train of thought.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Snow and a yoga goal

Day two of snow in Rhode Island. Just enough snow to cause everyone to drive like absolute morons and give me anxiety commuting to work. Miguel is not a winter car, just like I am not a winter person. 
Little Miguel Corona Ricardo Guacardo Avocardo, so happy in the summer time. Now he is sad and camera-shy in his snow-covered state :(
I almost partly grateful for the pile of paperwork sitting on my desk because it gives me an excuse not to go out driving around to the houses. 

All of this makes the warmth of the yoga studio after work so much more comforting.

Speaking of yoga, I've been focusing a lot of my energy on increasing my flexibility lately. I've mastered splits on both sides. Now if only I could get my straddle split... 
Some random standing split stretch from Sunday morning yoga. My leg did not feel this high at all.
I think I'm going to refocus my practice for the remainder of the year, however. I'll still challenge my flexibility of course, but I have set a personal yoga goal for myself to achieve by 2014. A pose that has seemed impossible for months, no matter how many times I've tried.

One-Legged Crow

a.k.a. Eka Pada Bakasana

That's my beautiful yoga instructor, Paula, demonstrating a perfect example. (Love you, Paula! Please don't be upset that I'm posting your picture, it's just so stunning!)

This pose requires so much body awareness, balance, core strength, lack of fear, and determination. I think I've finally figured out the body mechanics behind this pose. I'm so close I can taste it. I am at the point where I can extend my leg, but I can't seem to hold it up just yet. I refuse to enter the new year without having mastered this pose, if only just for a second. 

I have a lot of practicing to do.

Monday, December 9, 2013

MIMM: Let's not focus on the weather

The weather today was exceptionally disgusting. Snow, rain, slush, fog, and a forecast for even more craptastic weather tomorrow, followed by frigid temperatures through the weekend. The dreaded winter is making it's impending arrival known.

So in an effort to keep in line with the Marvelous in My Monday philosophy, I shant focus on the weather. Instead, I'll focus on the weekend, because it was enjoyable.

My hair had a mind of it's own this weekend. I may not have looked marvelous, but I can laugh at myself and rock it. 
Out of control.
I stupidly forgot the top item on my grocery list this weekend: coffee. We were completely out of coffee at home, which is a cause for panic since my family is caffeine-dependent. To say that coffee is the reason I get out of bed in the morning would not entirely be false. My little oops did result in a wonderful clearance purchase at Marshall's. Smores coffee! It's mind-blowingly delicious.
Out of coffee and I find this for $3? Yeah, that's destiny.
Saturday night, I ventured out the the Celtic Pub for a taste of the Irish dive bar scene. And what luck, a metal band was playing! It was appropriately unclassy and unmarvelously marvelous. Of course, no night of mine is complete without an awkward encounter. That night's uncomfortable situation was brought to me by the girl in the yoga pants with less than the average number of teeth, who decided it was a good idea to let me know that I was "sexy as hell and beautiful" and she's "normally shy, but it was the alcohol talking." Yep, thanks. Now I can feel good about myself.

Both Saturday and Sunday included my morning yoga routines as usual. Man, am I feeling them today.

I also went out in an effort to complete some Christmas shopping both days. Yep, no luck. I did, however, score big time for myself. A shirt on clearance for $5 and yoga leggings for $10! I can't resist bright colors and odd patterns.
If I could wear these everywhere all the time, I would.
Sunday evening was spent slaving away in the kitchen to make pulled pork, wheat berry salad for the week, and a double batch of red velvet cookies for my sister's boyfriend. The cream cheese icing just would not come together. I dedicated about an hour and an entire bag of powdered sugar to get it where it needed to be. My family is lucky I love them so much.

Fresh out of the oven and frosted. I got lazy with the decorating.

As for my actual Monday, tonight's vinyasa and hot yoga classes were tough, but overall relaxing.

I'm currently vegging on my couch with a cup of Celestial Seasonings' Candy Cane Lane green tea in my favorite creepy Santa mug.

Watch out, he'll kill you with warm comfort and antioxidants.

Linking up to Katie's Marvelous in My Monday as usual!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Five: Christmas Movie Edition

Part of me dreads Christmas, solely because it means that winter is just beginning and temperatures are going to continue to drop over the next few months. I'm just not made for New England weather. 

December itself isn't so bad, what with all the holiday parties and baking cookies (hooray for warm ovens!). And it's totally socially acceptable to stay in and watch Christmas specials. 

So without further ado, I'll let you in on my personal top 5 Christmas movies:

A Christmas Story

A classic. Everyone knows and loves this movie. If you don't share this opinion, you obviously:
  1. Haven't seen this movie because you don't have cable and have never been subjected to the 24-hour marathon TBS runs every year, or
  2. Have no sense of humor whatsoever.

Just Friends

This movie does not get the exposure or credit it deserves as a Christmas movie. Ryan Reynolds is, as always, hilarious. Even more so because he spends about 1/6th of the movie in a fat suit. I mean, come on, the movie opens with him lip-syncing "I Swear" by Boyz II Men. Why would anyone not want to watch this every year?


A newer classic Christmas comedy that everyone knows and loves, with the exception of those few people who just don't appreciate Will Ferrell for his ad-libbing talent. Anything I can and would say about this movie is already well-known by most, so I won't get into details. I will, however, share this awesome BuzzFeed article on some things you probably don't know about this movie.

Love Actually

The cutest "I love you" ever.
This movie has everything you could want in a movie: an all-star cast, awkward situations, romance, drama, and Keira Knightly. I have a hardcore girl crush on her. No shame. Again, totally underrated.

The Family Stone

Basically take everything I said about Love Actually and apply it to this movie, replacing Keira Knightly with Claire Danes AND Rachel McAdams. Side note - it's so unfair that I don't look like them. This is usually the first holiday movie I watch each year. I hate that no one seems to know about it. I will say, however, that it's much harder to watch it since my dad passed away. Without getting into detail and spoiling the movie, I do feel like I can relate to it more now and it never fails to make me cry. And I am no crier. Further evidence that this movie is fantastic and that you need to watch it immediately.

Obviously I'm a fan of comedies.

So there you have it. My top 5 Christmas movies, in no particular order. Now start watching.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

I struggle to come up with blog post titles.

I had every intention of blogging today, but things got a little crazy. I worked from 9am until almost 7pm and was nonstop busy all day between meetings, trying to figure out healthcare plans, and a Christmas caroling event. Why is it that the "fun" things are always the biggest headaches? Although I should note that I've had a lingering headache since my unfortunate yoga fusion accident on Tuesday.

My day off on Wednesday was spent Christmas shopping with my friends. Since my family is so particular and difficult to buy for, I left every store I entered empty handed with the exception of Target, where I scored this awesome Hello Kitty tee for $3.50. How could I justify not buying it?!

I came home to two packages: my Vitacost order (filled with amazing goodies for me and some Christmas gifts, hence why I didn't disclose it's contents) and...

My iPad mini arrived five days early! Woo hoo! With my mantra, "all you need is love," engraved on the back.

I spent my night toying around with it and syncing it to my other Apple devices. So excited!

I have to let it be known that Vitacost is an amazing company that is all about customer satisfaction. I had an issue with my order and the customer service rep was so patient and helpful. The company even emailed me afterwards to follow up and apologize for the issues I was having, despite it not being their fault at all. I can't say enough positive things about this company. I highly recommend ordering through their site.