local flavor


When I coerced my sister into spending a Winter weekend in Hyannis, I think she signed up expecting great views of the water. Thankfully, I was able to deliver those shortly after our arrival as you can see. But there was so many more "unique" moments that we needed to capture for posterity sake.

It was quite a great 36 hours in one town and shockingly enough we will probably go back... and stay at exactly the same place (provided we ever need to go to Hyannis again). 

As soon as we pulled into the parking lot of the inn, a giant golden cat jumped on the hood of the car ... and then proceeded to get inside the car. We later learned his name is "Astaire" and we were not the first people that he greeted this way. The inn has 23 cats ... and all of them begin with the letter A. Most of them are blonde, which I find to be fabulous.

When you agree to stay in the "aquarium room", you should expect this... but it still a shock upon arrival. And yes, some of those posters are framed puzzles. Something you can't see? A whale t-shirt hanging on the door.

Gorgeous beach views. No snarky or witty marks here. Just a gorgeous, windy Cape day.

Every day from 5:30-6:30 our inn had "wine hour". Which essentially means you all go into a room and drink wine out of "all purpose mugs". True story. There are also a bazillion binders filled with jokes the owner has printed out from the interwebs. At this point we also found out that the inn keeper had a drug addicted son, whose drug of choice was cocaine, and had once been found trying to steal from the safe. Oh, and we saw the housekeeper's whale tale. That's something I really wish I could take back but since I can't un-live it, it must be noted.

Who needs to attend the race "pasta dinner" when you can get buffalo chicken takeout and push your twin beds together? Best way to spend the night.

Hyannis was pretty comical - but what makes it more funny is that one year ago we were living it up baller style at the Waldorf in Boca Raton (here and here). Ah, the difference a year makes.

13.1 and check.


Yesterday, I managed to complete another bucket list goal. The half-marathon.

It was a really exciting day and I’m super thankful for all of the digital (and in-person) support I received along the way. I get a little anxious before big days and I hate not fulfilling goals, so I pretty much all out banned anyone from watching the run except my sister. She is a gem that one. Despite a nutters head cold, she was with me at the start, mile 6, and the finish. When I asked her what she did in between our meetings, she responded with “took a few shots of Dayquil”. True story. She also fielded all of the family phone calls patiently about my progress while I ran like hamster.

So this is pretty much how it unfolded.

me and "my pit crew". She was easy to spot in her coyote fur jacket. Not many of those on the streets of Hyannis. 

First peek of the ocean. It looks like we are all leaning weird? 

I'm not sure why I was the only one taking pictures during this event. Some people were way too serious. Come on. This is gorgeous right?

Here I come at mile 6. I told Kerrianne she would be able to spot me because of my neon outfit. Spoiler alert? It's like half the people there all bought from the Spring 2012 neon line. I feel like it looks like I'm walking. But I swear I'm running. I swear. 

Having given up bacon for Lent this literally made me laugh. The most welcome sight at Mile 8. Hyannis has some really weird road names... including "Fresh Holes Road". Yep, that's real.

Half way through the little jaunt my knees started to bother me, which was annoying. Especially since they haven't bothered me in what seems like years. So, boo to that. But, yes. That is a finisher medal around my neck! Victory is mine. Albeit a slower victory than I was expecting. Yes, I know I said last week that I had no time expectations - but in real life I was secretly hoping for 2 hrs. 

And yes, I am almost crying in that picture too. Part of it is because of my knees but it really was because so much more than that. I don't think I realized how important this run was to me. It was more than just a bucket list item. It was also about separating myself from the person I was several years ago. That person, wouldn't have gone to California or started a blog or attempted a half marathon.

Not that you were worried. But the tears were short lived. I immediately also started to laugh as you can see here. That'll happen when you realize how totally out of your element you are and how happy you are at the same time. Plus, it helps when you have a friendly face that lets you quite literally collapse into their arms. 

I'm pretty sure I'll owe my sister for her support for ...... quite awhile. But, I think she'll cash in her chips next week when she moves into a 5th floor walk-up. Yep, that's for real folks.

Bonus. Some great moments?
  • People wear some really great outfits when they are running. I'm not one to talk really. I dress like Punky Brewster but I truly question someone who runs in spandex shorts in February.
  • I followed this guy I called "the hot dad" for like 8 miles. He was really great to fake run with until he called a cranberry bog a strawberry bog. I thought he made a mistake but then he said it twice. He was no longer called "the hot dad". I sneakily took his picture at this moment.
  • Pronouncing at the finish that I would "never do this again" and within 5 minutes was saying that I really felt like I could do it in under 2 hours.
  • My dad giving me a high five when I got home. That was pretty awesome because he was a legit marathon runner. 
  • Finding out that my sister had emailed some of my best friends a picture of me during the race. And then them all replying to it. Amazing.
  • Getting Twitter notifications during the run of friends rooting me on over the interwebs. Who said you shouldn't read twitter and run? 

bacon and britney


Over the course of the last 6 years or so, I've given up some real challenging things for Lent.

Now, I get it. It's supposed to be challenging.

But, one year I kicked caffeine cold turkey and another year I gave up celebrity gossip. Most recently in 2008, I gave up french fries.

If you don't think any of those are significant, then you don't know me at all. I live for coffee and won't start my day without it. I also have an incessant need to know who's preggers in Hollywood and who recently had a tax lein put on their house.

The year after I gave up celebrity gossip, I almost gave it up again. I figured it wasn't that hard the last time (false, it was hard) and I'd be more productive for it. But then Britney Spears went majorly cray cray and I had to know how that all ended. I almost didn't feel like I could "leave her" in that time of need. Feel free to judge me after that last sentence. I'd judge you if you wrote it.

But now, it's been maybe 3 years since I took another go at this whole Lent thing. When I was brainstorming things that I'd miss for 40 days, my heart immediately went to bacon and coffee. But I can't quit bacon. I mean I could, but I won't. Bacon is my soul food, it makes difficult days better. If I quit bacon, I'd need to put someone on retainer to hug me whenever I needed it. A "hug retainer" sounds similar to prostitution and that seems like it'd be illegal .... so bacon is obviously out.

When I was little, I remember all my friends would give up things they hated to do already like "clean their room" or "eat vegetables". In my case, I'd have to give up "walking up stairs" or "making toast". Despite my love of eating toast, I hate making it. With regards to the stairs thing, well I live on the 3rd floor of my apartment building and I work on the 6th floor of my office. So stairs are also out. 

I'm going to give myself a two day cushion while I come up with my Lent challenge. It deserves 48 hours of thinking. I'm open to suggestions as long as they don't include pork products or coffee.

Source: irocksowhat.com via JEF on Pinterest

acting like a baby


So, this is the last week before my half-marathon. Last Thursday night, I accidentally looked up how far 13 miles is ... and began to get anxious. This entire time I've been pretty laid back about the whole thing. Training schedule? What's that about? I certainly have no idea. But, the last few days I've been singing a different tune. 

Today was the first day that I knew I had to run but didn't want to run. I knew I had to run today but I think the anxiety of the coming week got to me. So I set my miles goal and hit the road. After 2 miles of cranky running, I knew I needed to shake these feelings. Get back to my relaxed running state of the past few months. So, I sat myself down on a stone wall. Reminded myself of why I was doing this and set out running again. No more acting like a baby.

End result? It was actually a really great run

Visiting an old friend's street

Swinging by South Station on my way to Southie

I didn't even know this existed

So, I'm not totally sure what I should be doing this week - but I honestly don't care. I figure I'll run on Wednesday (maybe) and just remind myself of how exciting it will be when I finish that race. 

Worse case scenario? I can totally crawl 13 miles. It'll just take me longer.

Note: If you are interested in suggesting a song for my playlist, fill out this form.

"Soul Fixer" Chicken Soup

I'm a one man soup kitchen these days.

It's quite literally all I've been making ... and it's oddly addicting. I've been a fan of A Cozy Kitchen's blog for over a year now and seriously everything this woman makes is incredible. So last weekend it was oddly good timing that I had a small case of the sniffles coming on ... and she posted an incredible chicken soup.

and. I. Mean. Incredible.


The soup brought me a bit outside my comfort zone in that I had to buy a different cut of chicken ... and use an excessively amazing amount of cilantro. I tend to hate cilantro when people overload their salsa with it ... so I was a bit apprehensive, but it was awesome.

I made a few changes to the recipe to suit my cooking style. I don't like bones so I bought de-boned chicken thighs .... and I like to use frozen corn just to keep life easy.

The one hiccup in my chicken soup plan? I made it a few hours before I was going to eat it. So, it looked delicious and more "soupy" at 5pm than it did at 8pm when I ate it. At 8, it looked (as you can see) much thicker. And then when I had the leftovers a few days later, it was like I was eating risotto. So, I need to learn how to remedy that rice situation. But ... even then... days later... the soup is amazing. I even included google evidence:
As a result, I've labeled this "soul fixer" chicken soup... or Peruvian Chicken Soup. You pick.

So this is how you make it:

(Step 1) Add cilantro leaves, serrano pepper, 2 garlic cloves and 1/4 cup of chicken broth to a blender. Blend until mixture is thoroughly combined. Set aside. This looks a little like some toxic sludge .... but you can already tell this soup is amazing at this point. Right?

(Step 2) In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken thighs on one side for about 4 minutes (or slightly brown). Flip those babes and do the other side. I had to do about 2 batches of chicken - so this was honestly the most labor/time intensive part of the whole thing. Pull the chicken from the pot and let it hang out and watch the rest of the show.

(Step 3) Add yellow onion to the pot and cook until they soften a bunch. Like 5 minutes-ish. Next, add red bell pepper, ground cumin, and minced garlic allowing to cook for 1-2 more minutes. 

(Step 4) Add the rice and cilantro liquid sludge to the pot and mix that business around real good. At this point, you will have to resist just eating it because seriously it looks amazing. I chopped up the chicken and added it back into the pot with the chicken broth. 

(Step 5) Be patient for 30 minutes while the rice cooks away.

(Step 6) When you want to eat, add in the corn and any necessary salt for flavor just before serving.  

(Step 7) Be sure to serve the soup with a wedge of lime. You make think its for decoration, but it isn't. It is seriously amazing. Like, if you eat this at work take lime with you to the office. For reals.

Shopping List
3/4 cup cilantro leaves
1 serrano pepper, halved and de-seeded
4 garlic cloves (2 whole garlic cloves and 2 garlic cloves minced), divided
4 1/4 cups chicken broth, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 chicken thighs, de-boned
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup white rice
1 cup of frozen corn
Salt to taste
1 lime

single runners.


standing at the edge of Boston Harbor

I’ve always been “active” …. More or less that is. There have been spans of time when my gym shoes collected more dust than I care to admit, but all in… I would say that you could describe me as “active”.

But, I think only recently you could label me a runner. Scratch that. Runner sounds intimidating to me. I’m a person who runs. That seems better.

In high school, I was actually “on the track team”. But to me this really meant, hanging out after school and eating chicken fingers before track meets. Yes, I took this really seriously. Clearly. Sidenote: during one meet someone inadvertently recorded my time as significantly faster than I was…. And I found myself running the first heat of the 100 yd race. This actually went on for several races before people wised up to what the real story was….

A week or so ago, I was talking to someone at work and mentioned that I’d run been on a run the previous evening. Without much hesitation she asked me … “so are you single because you run or do you run because you’re single?”. A head scratcher right? I can’t even be defensive about this because for me it’s really factual. I don’t know that I’d run as much as I do if I was dating. Dating shouldn’t get in the way of a good weekend / weeknight / rainy day / sunny day run but sometimes it does right? It’s more fun to snuggle on the couch, walk around Crate & Barrel, or walk around the city than pound the pavement solo. I say solo because I'm super self-conscious about how slow I am and believe I make these terrible faces when I'm running. Thankfully there are no pictures, so you'll just have to believe me.

So, if the question still remains... “do you run because you are single?”.

The answer is “yes…” followed by a handful of astericks. I think I’ve truly found a passion slash love for running. I blame the North End and its proximity to the ocean. If I was living in Back Bay or Cambridge, I’m not sure I’d have enjoyed running as much as I do. If I was dating, I probably would not choose to run 4-5 days a week…. Instead I’d be grabbing dinner or relishing in some snuggles.

But, if the question is “are you single because you run?

I hope the answer is No.

a world of difference


A lifetime ago.

I realize that a year is a long time but sometimes it truly feels like a lifetime ago.

Last Valentine’s Day?Early morning train ride to NYC, worked late at the office, ate a room service cheese burger in bed.

This year? Early morning run around Boston Harbor, visited the seals at the Aquarium, ate homemade chicken soup for lunch, went to early evening yoga with my sister, made scallops for dinner.

It’s amazing the difference one year can make.

ah-mazing brussel sprouts.


 I have a few recipes that I need to document – but the last thing I’ve felt like doing recently is writing up witty commentary on chicken soup. Spoiler alert? It was awesome and I smelled like chicken soup in public. 

But, last night I came home from yoga ravenous. I was carb hunting in my kitchen… which was disappointing considering I really didn’t have a loaf of bread laying around for munching. Then I remembered I had a bunch of brussel sprouts. I tend to cook them the same way every time and wanted to shake it up a bit. 

So I introduce to you….. roasted brussel sprouts with prosciutto, pine nuts, parm and balsamic. 

Spoiler? It’s as amazing as it sounds. 

I originally went off this recipe from Closet Cooking for the purposes of cook timing and temperature. Since I was making brussel sprouts for one (hey it’s still a party), I ended up cooking them in a large ramekin which was not only great for clean-up but also did amazing things to the balsamic. 

So this is how it goes. 

(Step 1) Clean up and cut up your sprouts in half. 

(Step 2) Toss them in a baking dish with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Put in the oven at 400 F. 

(Step 3) After about 20 minutes, toss in some torn up prosciutto. 

(Step 4) Let the prosciutto crisp up …. Probably about 10 minutes. You want the whole cook time to be about 30 minutes… or whenever the sprouts looked tasty and toasted up. 

(Step 5) Fresh out of the oven, drizzle some balsamic vinegar on the sprouts and sprinkle with pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. I used shaved since I wanted to show off that I’d found my vegetable peeler but I think grated would be just fine (and maybe better). 

(Step 6) Now … eat. 

The benefit of serving (and eating) out of the roasting dish is that the balsamic vinegar sizzles and reduces almost instantly because of the hot dish. In one word? Phenomenal. 

See? I finished it all myself… and would have licked the dish if I could have possibly fit my head in there.

Shopping List
brussel sprouts
olive oil
salt and pepper
parmesan (grated or shaved... you're the boss)
pine nuts

worth it.

I’ve always found the morning light to be crazy beautiful … especially near the water. So, I guess it isn’t shocking that I loved how gorgeous Boston Harbor looked this morning. I consider it nature’s valentine card to me.

Plans for the rest of Heart Day? Consuming heart shaped cookies and sisterly yoga. Not too bad if I say so myself. But then again, the day is already pretty great. I've seen some nice scenic views, visited the seals at the aquarium, and lured people to my meeting with cookies. 

Fun note? I scared one of my coworkers this morning when I jumped "at them" during my morning run. She said she'd never seen someone so happy when they are running. I take that as a compliment. 

happy heart day interwebs.

patience for bolognese sauce


Sometimes I feel like cooking and sometimes I feel like taking pictures. Other times, a recipe is so easy that it almost seems as though there isn't time for either to happen.
Bolognese sauce is definitely a case for this.

I ended up making Bolognese sauce last week because I needed a meal that would do the following:
  • train friendly. needed to get home via train for my mom's birthday. 
  • be something new. ahem 52 in 52... 
  • Italian-ish. when you refuse to leave your neighborhood.... this happens.
It also wouldn't hurt it the recipe appealed to the entire family as opposed to just me.

Enter.... Bolognese sauce.

I'm sure there are ways to make this recipe complicated and challenging. There are ways to make pancakes challenging right? But I honestly can't imagine what you'd do to make it hard (twss). But that helps when you decide to use a crockpot. Plus, I used one of those crockpot liners ... so the cleanup was non-existent. I might never crockpot without one again - totes worth the cost (approx $2 a liner) for a weekday cooking event.

The thing about bolognese sauce is that it has a pretty odd collection of ingredients in it. One, pancetta. (Hello gorgeous) Two, celery and carrots (Hello vitamins). I bet you never thought those would go together. But they do... especially when you toss in some meat and wine... and cook it for NINE HOURS.

So this is how it all goes down.

(Step 1) In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. For real a large pan, trust me I learned the hard way. Add the pancetta and sauté until it begins to render its fat, about 1 minute. Add the onions, carrots and celery and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. 

(Step 2) Add the beef and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until it is no longer red. This doesn't take super long, but also don't worry your pretty little head about perfection. Remember its going to sit in a slowcooker for hours. Anything that isn't totally cooked will be done without fret. Transfer the meaty business to a slow cooker.

(Step 3) Add the broth and wine to the pan and increase the heat to high. Bring to a boil and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Pour the liquid into the slow cooker along with the tomatoes and stir to combine. I didn't have a whole lot to "deglaze" but I'm sure there was some great flavor there... and I hate to miss out on flavor.

Chef's note.... If you remember from the tomato soup recipe, San Marzano tomatoes are the best thing since sliced bread. So, despite the recipe calling for "crushed plum tomatoes" ... I said no way and crushed these suckers myself.

Shopping List

Olive oil
2 oz. pancetta, chopped
2 small yellow onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 lb. ground beef
2 cups beef broth
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1 can (28 oz.) crushed plum tomatoes
1/2 cup skim milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Bonus pictures? 
This is the picture I sent my family as evidence of cooking time. If you think thats in minutes, you are a fool. I never thought I'd wait 9 hours for anything but bread to rise.
Fresh pasta meat boiling water. I bought this pasta from a local shop in the North End ... and literally saw the old woman who makes it. Pretty phenomenal. I also got to hold her adorable grandchild who was quite taken with my big canvas tote. Note: I didn't ask permission before I wrapped that adorable little girl in my arms. I figured it was a fair trade for 3 things of pasta and bread. No?

not quite friday


Things that are not okay with me: 

(1) Bringing sick kids to the office. I mean really? Your kid is sick. Keep them at home, there is a reason your toddler isn’t wanted at daycare. It's for the same reason that I don't want them near me.

(2) Not starting another pot of coffee. I saw you walk out of the break room with a fresh cup of coffee. You know I saw you. It’s not even like this is a hard task. 

(3) Almost swallowing my straw by accident. Well admittedly this is all me and I can't even come up with a rationale explanation for this - but it happened. Oddly enough I'm more shaken up by this than by getting "gently hit" by a car yesterday morning running.

Things that are okay with me? Scoring the last bag of Skittles from the office candy jar 

… and eating them before 10:08 AM. I’m super snacky today at work and I’m sure that it can be attributed to my low bacon intake levels this week. That’s scientifically possible right? I think it is. I’m not sure what it is about Skittles but they are delicious and unlike other sweet sugary treats, I like all the flavors in the bag. Thankfully nobody looks in my trash can and sees all the discarded green candy hearts. They are seriously the worst. 

You know what is not the worst? How gorgeous my neighborhood looked this morning walking to work.


changing my tune


I'm terrible at stretching.

I'm not sure why because honestly there is nothing more satisfying than a good stretch after a nap or cozy moment on the couch. So why, oh why, do I refuse to stretch after running?

Since we aren't going to find the answer to that question now, we'll just put that in the parking lot as they say.

But, the need to stretch is becoming critical. I've got a pesky tight muscle in my leg that is doing me zero favors when it comes to running. You'd think I'd put two and two together at this point.... but no.

Yesterday I did something that I'd always proclaimed I'd hated. I went to yoga. I'd always claimed to hate yoga for the following reasons:
(1) classes were too long
(2) couldn't focus
(3) too much weird music / chanting
(4) "outfits"

But. With my leg all sorts of tight and crampy and a "30 days for $30" promo.... I was in on the deal. I figured I  would be happy if I went twice a week (maybe three times) for the month. That's the goal at least.

But (again). I *actually* liked it. The room had big windows along wall that allowed me to see the full moon above the North End buildings - yes for real. The music was awesome. There was no chanting, just two very big "OOOOMMMMMMMS".... which I didn't participate in. Also the class was just over an hour long.... perfect. So I'm totally going back again soon... maybe even today.

To help my commitment, I've actually signed up for GymPact. What's GymPact you ask? Well, essentially its a service that penalizes you financially for not completing your gym commitment. You tell the service "I'll workout X days a week. For every day I don't workout, you can penalize me X dollars". The penalties are calculated on Sundays and the "winnings" distributed to those that fulfilled their pacts. I'm not sure what type of financial windfall I can expect from this but maybe it'll be enough to snag myself a Lululemon headband since I'm pretty sure pants are out of the question.

But the GymPact wasn't enough to get me out of bed this morning for the 6:30 AM class. I actually slept in my yoga clothes thinking that might help me bound out of bed, but it didn't. I used to get up much earlier but my luxurious "live and work in the North End" lifestyle has me in bed much later than I ever used to be. I've turned into a big of a bed slug... but if you saw my sheets and pillows you'd be right there with me.

Image Source: 24.media.tumblr.com via Becca on Pinterest

Weekend Recap


Yikes. How did it get to be February? I'm not totally sure.

I did realize today that since today is the 5th that means my half-marathon is a mere three weeks away. I guess that means I should be booking a hotel room and perhaps planing some sort of outfit. Yep, that's right. I said outfit.

This weekend was pretty relaxing. It was filled with luxurious lady time (manicures and pedicures), apartment touch-ups, and amazing sunny days. I only ran once but that was due to a pesky stubbed toe I blessed myself with on Friday morning. Before you label me a baby, I'd invite you to check out my swollen and multi-colored toe... well, not really I don't want anyone looking at my feet.

So, what did the weekend look like? I'll show you.

Friday. Celebratory dinner at Neptune Oyster with baby sister. What are we celebrating? She snagged herself a new apartment. So, yes. She'll be moving off our street but she'll just be moving a mere minute away. I'll cope just fine. We dominated a serious amount of oysters including ones from my favorite places like Damariscotta, Maine (Pemaquid) and Duxbury, MA (Island Creek). Remember how much I love Maine (here, here, and here)? So good. Well, the evening ended with season two of Downton Abbey on my couch. Perfection.

Saturday. You know that song from Sound of Music "My favorite things"? Well that was pretty much Saturday. Breakfast at Theo's Cozy Corner with my mom and sister. Followed by perusing Polcari's Coffee and pedicures at the new place in the 'hood.  If that wasn't enough, I skipped over to Back Bay and got a manicure and latte with a solid bestie Lauren. 

But I didn't take pictures of those things.... instead I snapped a shot of my Saturday night. A luxurious bath complete with wine, candles, Amazon ... and nachos. That's right. I eat nachos in the tub.
Sunday. I hope you like pictures of Boston Harbor because that's what I'm going to offer you. When I stumble across something that I love an insane amount I can't decide whether to share it or keep it all to myself. That's how I feel about the Boston Harbor Walk. It's bananas awesome .... especially on a day like today. So incredible that I did it twice. Once in the morning with Baby Sister and once on an afternoon run. Don't worry, both times I visited my friends the seals at the Aquarium.

That's all she wrote.

It's a good weekend like this that make 5 days at a desk worthwhile. So in repayment for this weekend, I guess I'll be doing just that. Sitting at my desk.
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