So, About Those Goals…

goals

Two weeks ago I wrote about goals that I wanted to accomplish by the end of this month:

1. Get back to running three times a week

2. Stop buying lunch every day

3. Make a budget and stick to it

I also promised to write an update at the end of the month. Well, it’s the beginning of the next month aaaand……I’ve been less than successful. I have run twice a week for the last two weeks, so I’m proud of myself for that. But buying lunch and making a budget, let alone sticking to it, has proved insanely difficult.

Lunches I really have no excuse for – I just haven’t been able to force myself to go to the grocery store and get lunch stuff. So, I’ve still been buying lunches. They have been healthier, though, so I’ll put a half-check in that column.

I made a budget, or at least I tried. Trying to analyze your spending halfway through the month is hard, and going back to the previous month just looked too daunting. So I haphazardly estimated my expenses, subtracted my bills, and came up with a sort-of number that I expected to have left over at the end of the month. That was great and all, but my spending ended up veering WAY off track. This was partly because we had a life-changing event happen last week..The Boyfriend got laid off.

This was sort of expected, but still is tough now that it’s actually happened. The good thing is, we’re both living at home, but the bad thing is we most likely won’t be able to move out in September. It’s kind of survival time – the instinct has kicked in to take care of business, like getting him a new phone, computer and car (all were company property, and had to be given back), and a new job, and putting everything else on the back burner.

So, my theme of July is going to be picking up the pieces and new beginnings. Hopefully by the end of the month we’ll have a concrete plan to move forward with a job search (if he’s still doing that) and I’ll have a better idea of what my life is going to look like in the next few months. I’m planning on it including more brunches and blog posts – be excited!

Well, that kind of ended up being a downer. Sorry, guys. I promise my next post will be more uplifting – or at the very least, it will include beer.

Brunch at Lineage with Boston Brunchers

I was able to do it again – get a spot at a brunch with Boston Brunchers. This time, it was at Lineage in Brookline, MA. It’s always a good time when a sweltering summer day is cut with good company, good conversation, and great food. Lineage provided all of the above.

Lineage Menu

 

We were first brought out a round of Bloody Marys, which are a staple at brunch (at least for me). The drinks were well blended, with a spicy kick, but also a sweet finish. We were then told we would be brought out family-style servings of pancakes and French toast, and individual plates of Huevos Rancheros. We also ordered some spicy lobster tacos for the table.

I’m definitely not a seafood person, lobster especially (if those things were on land, they would be bugs), but the presentation was really awesome.

Spicy Lobster Tacos - avocado mousse, mango salsa

Spicy Lobster Tacos – avocado mousse, mango salsa

Lineage Bloody Mary

Lineage Bloody Mary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next came our pancakes and French toast. The pancakes were made with ricotta, and had pockets of the cheese throughout, and were topped with fresh strawberries and cherries. The Pullman French toast was topped with white peaches and Thai basil. Smoked maple syrup came with both. I wish I could cook something that tasted (and looked) this good:

Buttermilk Pancakes - ricotta, strawberries

Buttermilk Pancakes – ricotta, strawberries

Pullman French Toast - smoked maple syrup, white peach, Thai basil

Pullman French Toast – smoked maple syrup, white peach, Thai basil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They even look cute on my plate! Wait – did I just call food cute? I just called food cute.

Buttermilk Pancakes

Buttermilk Pancakes

 

Pullman French Toast

Pullman French Toast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And last, but by far not the least, was our Huevos Rancheros. As The Boyfriend will tell you, I am not a very adventurous eater. Part of why I like these things is because I’m forced to try things I wouldn’t otherwise order – and also socialize. Food + Bloggers = Fun

But I digress. Anyway, I don’t normally (read: EVER) eat beans, of any kind. And I always order my eggs scrambled. So I was a little nervous when a huge plate of black beans and an over easy egg was put in front of me. However, there was enough steak on the plate to balance it out, so I gave it a whirl. And what a whirl it was. SO. MUCH. DELICIOUS.

Huevos Rancheros - steak, black beans, cotija cheese, cholula aioli

Huevos Rancheros – steak, black beans, cotija cheese, cholula aioli

I had a really great time, met some really cool girls (women? I still say girls), and ate some terrific food. I want to give a big shout out to Lineage for providing an amazing complimentary brunch spread, and to the Boston Brunchers for letting me have another opportunity to expand my food horizons!

DSC_0351

DSC_0361

Take That Thing Off Your Head

I’m an opinionated person (which you know if you’ve read any portion of this blog). So, it’s needless to say that I tend to have strong thoughts about fashion – see Leggings Are Not Pants. Well, this weekend The Boyfriend and I took a trip to the beach. As he was rifling around his car for his wallet to bring with us, he pulled out an accessory he hasn’t worn since…well ever, that I’ve seen. What was this accessory, you ask?

A fedora.

Yep, a fedora. And not the cool, 1920s John Dillinger-type fedora. A douchey, straw Jason Mraz-style fedora. I gave him the old “You’re really not wearing THAT, are you?” And of course he laughed, made some comment about it being badass, and we made our way to the beach.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I’ve noticed that I’ve seen a ton of fedoras this summer. I think the number may be approaching double digits. In my book, one fedora is too many.

I was thinking about it to much that when I was in Dunkin Donuts, breaking a $20 for parking at the beach, I Instagram’d a picture of him, fedora and all, and sent it out to into the social medias. I got three responses (which for me is a lot), and I completely agree with one of them. Guess which:

Mike Brian Facebook

Hat by hat basis, indeed.

Mike Tweet

For reference, he was wearing a pair of Vineyard Vines swim trunks with limes and pink margaritas all over them.

What I really want to know is how fedoras went from being this:

Bogart FedoraTo this:

Douchey Fedora

The world may never know. Anyhoo, if you see someone wearing a fedora, do them a favor and tell them: Take that thing off your head.

Realigning My Goals…Again.

Every Wednesday at my office we have a “Team Lunch”, where we all sit together in one big room (where most of us work – the bullpen) and discuss a topic of interest. Today, we went around to everyone and finished this sentence “By the end of the summer, I will ____________.” Everyone had varying degrees of ambition, and some people aim to do multiple things. Some were work related, some were not.

My goal for the end of the summer is to move out of my parents house and get an apartment with The Boyfriend. This goal is kind of resting on a lot of variables though, and right now a lot of unknowns. It’s kind of on the back-burner for the near future. Am I planning on moving out by the end of the summer? Hell yes. Will it definitely happen? I’m not entirely sure.

This got me thinking – I’ve stopped doing a lot of stuff I was enjoying, mostly because I’m letting work (and stress) get in the way. And it’s affecting me physically: I’m eating awful, I feel gross, and I’m sure I don’t look too hot either. All because I’m letting stress get the best of me. Well, today I decided that’s a big pile of bull.

How I feel most of the time lately.

I wanted to make a list of things that I can 100% do, and make them more near-term goals, otherwise I’ll procrastinate. So, here’s my list of stuff I will do by the end of this month:

1. Get back into my routine of going to the gym (or just running) at least 3 times a week.

I stopped doing this partly because I started working late every night, and partly because I just got lazy. As I said already, I’m a procrastinator. And I hate GOING to the gym, even though I know I’ll feel great while I’m working out, and that I’ll love the sense of accomplishment I’ll have when I’m done. I think I can stand to leave work a little earlier two or three days a week to hit the gym at a decent hour, and work late on my off days. Oh, and there’s the matter of my 5k next month. So. That.

2. Stop buying lunch every day (which means eat healthier)

So, part of the reason I was buying my lunch every day was because my parents were away, and I just didn’t have time for grocery shopping. Now I have a dad at home who cooks every day, so I’ll take advantage for the time being. When I move out, I’ll just have to start planning meals and grocery shop for reals.

3. Make a budget. And actually stick to it. No really this time.

I’ve made budgets before, and I’ve been okay at following them. But if I’m going to be moving out, I need to make sure I can manage my money and be able to pay rent every month. I was using one before when I *thought* we were moving on June 1st, but since that hasn’t happened I’ve been all LOL EFF YOU WALLET. So cutting down on spending is key right now.

So that’s my list of the top three things I want to do by the end of the month. Think I can handle it? I’m sure as hell going to give it my best try. Oh, don’t worry – there will be another post letting you all know if I stuck to this. Because I’m sure you’ll be on the edge of your seat until then.

The Vine Brook Tavern With Boston Brunchers

On June 2nd, the Vine Brook Tavern was awesome enough to host a group of food-loving, blog-writing ladies from the Boston area: the Boston Brunchers. And guess what? I was one of those ladies! Refreshing cocktails, delicious food, and a serenade by one of the waitstaff made for a really amazing experience. I apologize in advance for the cell phone photos – I was clearly underprepared, but I think they get the point across!

Vine Brook Menu

The Cocktails

Brunch (or “Blunch” as they call it at the Tavern) is one of my favorite meals, because it’s acceptable to drink at 11:30 in the morning while having French toast. We were presented with a selection of six cocktails, all of which were unique from one another. Of course, I would have to say the Bloody Mary was my favorite. My two runners up were the Moscato Mist, which had a nice grape flavor, and the Latin Lebowski, which was an adult version of chocolate milk. Yum.

The Caipirinha - lots of lime!

The Caipirinha – lots of lime!

The Bloody Mary

The Bloody Mary

The Latin Lebowski, Elderberry Cocktail, and the Hemingway Daiquiri.

The Latin Lebowski, Elderberry Cocktail, and the Hemingway Daiquiri.

The First Course

After we had sufficiently sampled the drinks, out came the first course. Yes, we had courses. Three dishes came to our table: the Sopressata Flatbread, Smoked Salmon Club, and the Crispy Challah French Toast. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves, although I will note the smoked salmon was definitely my favorite.

Sopressata Flatbread - cherry bomb pepper, aged provolone

Sopressata Flatbread – cherry bomb pepper, aged provolone

Crispy Challah French Toast - maple pecan butter, blueberries, maple syrup, maple bacon

Crispy Challah French Toast – maple pecan butter, blueberries, maple syrup, maple bacon

Smoked Salmon Club - everything bagel, scallion cream cheese

Smoked Salmon Club – everything bagel, scallion cream cheese

 

The Second Course

After we had finished with the first course, it was time for the second course. They get the name “Blunch” because of what they served to us next – burgers and steak sandwiches!

Pressed Shaved Steak Sandwich - horseradish Dijon, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, house chips, sharp American

Pressed Shaved Steak Sandwich – horseradish Dijon, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, house chips, sharp American

Turkey Burger

Turkey Burger – avocado, house mayo, munster, LTO, Idaho fries

A Boston Brunchers special. the Farmhouse Pizza - included local ingredients from Wilson Farm in Lexington

A Boston Brunchers special. the Farmhouse Pizza – included local ingredients from Wilson Farm in Lexington

Oh, and that serenade? Let me present to you Joel Edwards, a classically trained opera singer who sang a piece from Tosca:

Joel Edwards, ladies and gentlemen.

Joel Edwards, ladies and gentlemen.

The entire experience was amazing, and I would definitely visit again. The restaurant space was quirky, historical and interesting, it’s big enough to provide several different dining experiences, and the waitstaff was super friendly. Thanks to the Vine Brook Tavern for providing this outstanding complementary brunch, and the Boston Brunchers for letting me be a part of this!

Truffle Oil. Is. Amazing.

I’ve always been somewhat of a foodie. A picky foodie, I’ll admit, but a foodie nonetheless. I love good cheese, good wine, great recipes, and a renewed love for truffle oil as of today.

Truffle oil is, I feel, still a little bit of an underground ingredient, but it’s gaining popularity. It’s generally high quality olive oil infused with either white or black truffles (read more about it here – I don’t have enough room to explain everything. Also, that would be boring). Sometimes there’s little pieces of truffle in it. Either way, it’s delicious. And a little pricey – but I’m willing to pay a little more for some liquid gold.

So what inspired this fanaticism for truffle oil so strong I wanted to dedicate an entire blog post to it? My food adventure today with The Boyfriend. It all started with the sentence, “Let’s make some gourmet grilled cheese.” It quickly grew into a delicious meal that was a labor of love.

We decided to make our own truffle french fries, and I was going to make truffle grilled cheese. As I said, truffle oil is a little pricey, and I ended up spending $11 on a small bottle. But a little goes a long way, and I am so glad I bought it.

I’ve made french fries before, which is pretty simple (deep skillet, olive oil, potatoes, heat – fry fry away), so we decided to replicate truffle french fries and add a little bit of liquid gold, parmesan and sea salt to our finished fried potatoes.

If you want the exact recipe, I don’t have it. I was really winging it on this one. I did, however, Google how much truffle oil to use on the fries initially, which was 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon, but I ended up using more than that. Here are the general steps I followed, in case you’re really interested:

  1. Place cooled fries in a large bowl.
  2. Drizzle with truffle oil (the amount I listed above is enough to start with). I liberally tested the taste and added a little more as I went.
  3. Toss fries to completely coat with oil.
  4. Add some grated parmesan. I used about a tablespoon to start with.
  5. Toss fries to coat with parm.
  6. Add some sea salt. We have a grinder, so I’m not really sure how much I used. To taste, I’d say. (I told you I was winging this)
  7. Now, the important part. Place the fries on a cookie or baking sheet, and pop them in the oven at 350 for about 5-10 minutes. You just want to warm them a little, not burn them.
  8. When you take the fries out, shake some more parm on them, a little more salt, and drizzle some more oil (if you’re an addict, like me) to finish.

What you get is an amazing symphony of flavors. But don’t worry! The truffle adventure does not stop there, no sir. I also made a grilled cheese with the oil of the gods. How, you say? Easy! Same way you would make any other grilled cheese, but instead of spreading butter on the outside of the bread, brush it with truffle oil. I swear to you, you will never go back to a regular grilled cheese again.

I topped it off with a glass of Dr. L Riesling, and I have not had a better meal in a very, very long time. Just look at this amazingness:

Yum.

Yum.

Do you have any recipes for truffle oil? I’d love to hear them!

I Took A Walk

Work has been insanely crazy lately, so I took a three day weekend and had yesterday off. It was gorgeous, so my biff and I decided to go into Boston and have a walk around. She wanted to walk down Boylston because she hadn’t been there since the Marathon, so we made our way. We were greeted with a fence covered in ribbons of fabric, left as tokens of thoughts and prayers from citizens and visitors of Boston. We then stopped in Copley, where the barriers that blocked off Boylston during the invesitgation were arranged in a horseshoe in the square, and a memorial had been created. It was absolutely silent there (well, as silent as the middle of the city can be) despite all the people there. The whole thing was very moving, and reminded me – again – why I love this city.

Here’s a selection of a few photos I took during our walk. I can’t really say much about them except that they’re just a slice of what I experienced. If you’d like, you can view the entire album here. (I know, I know, it’s a Facebook album, but my Photobucket is full. Sorry.)

The fence in front of the Boylston Street church with the fabric ribbons tied on.

The fence in front of the Boylston Street church with the fabric ribbons tied on.

The sneakers at the Copley Square memorial.

The sneakers at the Copley Square memorial.

Hats from around the country.

Hats from around the country.

A bracelet placed on a tree branch. Peace.

A bracelet placed on a tree branch. Peace.

Boston, You’re My Home.

It’s been an emotionally draining week for everyone from Massachusetts, especially those from Greater Boston. From the bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday, the insane chase and manhunt on Thursday night and Friday, to the capture of one of the Boston Marathon bombers on Friday week, the entire nation has had their eyes on our city.

As we all reflect, remember and try to bring our lives back to normal, I wanted to pull together a list of what I love about my city, and what I’m thankful for. I think after this week, I’ve learned that even the city of champions isn’t immune to tragedy, and we shouldn’t take anything for granted. Ever.

I’m thankful for all the law enforcement that came together to catch the brothers that committed this atrocity.

I’m thankful for and love the way our city pulled together as one, showing terror that it has no place here.

I’m thankful for the first responders who ran towards the chaos, going to the aid of those who couldn’t run away.

I’m thankful for the tremendous support from my personal and professional networks.

I’m thankful that my friends who were in the area all missed the blasts by about 20 minutes, and no one I love and care about was hurt.

I am endlessly grateful for everyone in the entire country who have become honorary Bostonians over the past week, and the outpouring of donations, sympathy, thoughts and payers for those affected by these events.

I may not live in Boston forever, but I will always love that dirty water. Boston, you’re my home.

BostonStrong

Ski Vermont Part 1: The Inn and the Mountain

Last week, The Boyfriend took me on a much-needed vacation. We took a mid-week ski trip to Killington, Vermont. We left Wednesday night from Boston and came home Saturday afternoon. Best. Vacation. Ever. I’ve been to Vermont once, but it was for work and in the summer, so I didn’t really get to experience anything at all. This trip was above and beyond anything that I could have expected.

There were a lot of contributing factors that made this vacation so great, so I’m going to break them up into three posts. I’m just trying to help you avoid getting carpal tunnel in your scrolling finger. Really.

The Inn

First, our lodging. Killington is a resort mountain, so there isn’t any shortage of places to stay. TB and I are pretty price-sensitive, though, so that affects any choice we make. Luckily, we didn’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get a great place to stay.

Photo from TripAdvisor.com

Mountain Sports Inn – Photo from TripAdvisor.com

He chose the Mountain Sports Inn, which is about 10 minutes down the road from the mountain. For $89 a night, we got a clean room and bathroom, breakfast every morning included, and access to a cozy common area, hot tub and sauna. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it was easily one of the most enjoyable hotel/inn experiences I’ve had. The staff there were all super friendly and helpful. We ended up getting in almost at 10pm on Wednesday night due to a storm we drove through, and the guy at the desk still took time to show us around and let us know when breakfast would be. They make amazing French toast.

It was also a very down-to-earth place. It didn’t have that corporate, plastic-smile feeling you sometimes get with huge resorts. They had posted quiet hours after 10pm. The common area (which had two oversized couches and a fireplace) was BYOB. All in all, the price was right and the people were friendly. What else can you ask for, really?

The Mountain

Before this trip, I was a snowboarder. Well, I thought I was. From what I remembered, the last time I went snowboarding (six years ago) I was pretty damn good at it. Slow, but good. So, when we got the advice from one of the Inn staff to try Snowshed first, we decided to give that a go.

We started waaaay over to the right.

We started waaaay over to the right.

Now, as I said, I haven’t been snowboarding in six years. So I decided the main green trail right down the middle of Snowshed would be my best bet. I got on and off the lift relatively okay (a first), and made my first run. It wasn’t bad. I was slow, but did okay. We tried a few more runs down the green, and then TB suggested “Let’s try a blue!” Worst idea. Ever.

I did my best on the blue, I really did. But I ended up eating it pretty hard a few times. There may have been some tears of frustration (and truthfully, pain) shed. After taking out a skier, and falling several more times, we got to the bottom and decided to get lunch while I regrouped.

We did a few more runs, but I was pretty much done for the day.

The next day, I decided to try skiing. The rental was only $49 for skis, poles and boots. We had free passes for the second day, so we decided if I wanted to quit I could. I did one run, and while I liked it better than snowboarding, my feet were numb and I was sore, so I called it a day.

I hung out in the Snowshed Lodge, which ended up being a great time. They had a plug for my phone charger, which was great. The food was good (albeit overpriced), and the Waffle Cabin was right outside, so I munched on a heavenly waffle while I drank my coffee and watched 5 year olds ski better than me.

Overall, out of the few ski resorts I’ve been to, Killington is the nicest. The people are friendly (it must be a Vermont thing), there’s enough miles of trails for everyone to enjoy what they like, no lift lines, and definitely affordable.

Stay tuned for part 2: The Food!

I Ran Today!

Well, more accurately, I worked out. But there was some running in there! I’ll reveal how much and how fast in a bit. But first, let’s discuss how I got to this point.

I’ve been saying I need to go to the gym for about the past two years. I usually will go once or twice, get really tired and sore, and give up. But not this time, no sir. I’m playing field hockey with Boston Ski and Sports Club starting April 8th, which is my motivation to get in better shape. I was on a team last fall, but took a tumble 9 minutes in to the first game, and was out of commish for the “season”. But that’s a story for another post.

Anyway, this week I’ve been in a really down mood, but yesterday I woke up and found myself out of my funk. Today I woke up with even more energy, and thought “I think today I’ll really go to the gym.” I’ve had a Planet Fitness tag on my key ring for a few months now, and I decided today was the day I would start using it. However, I needed an extra kick in the pants. Who better to deliver that than my biffle Erin? She works out almost every day, and is running a half marathon in April. And she also is one of the people I’m playing field hockey with. So after a short text message conversation (that went something like this – Me: I want to go to the gym but I have no motivation. Erin: Just put on your clothes and go! Me: But my clothes are in the car. And I haven’t shaved my legs. Erin: No one will be staring at your legs! Stop making excuses!), I put on my super stylish capris and left my house.

Oh hello, Mr. Tag. Nice to finally make your acquaintance.

Oh hello, Mr. Tag. Nice to finally make your acquaintance.

One of my problems with publicly working out is I always feel like people are staring at me. Judging me. Looking at the time I’ve been on my machine and scoffing at how out of breath I am. But I decided this time to just put my music on and go. And I did. And I had a pretty sweet workout. I was on the treadmill for a half hour, during which the running episode occurred. Five minutes at 5.5 mph, which is more than I’ve ever willingly run in my life. I say willingly because I don’t count laps for sports or gym class in my physical fitness category (let’s be honest – I walked most of them). Then it was on to the elliptical, which I was only on for 12 minutes because my toes got numb (does that happen to anyone else?) but managed to get a little over a mile in. To finish, I powered through 30 minutes on the stationary bike.

All in all, not too shabby for my first time at the gym in a few years. I’m thinking that putting this out there, for all eyes (or at least the few who read my blog on the reg – anyone? Anyone?) will give me the motivation to keep going. I can’t fail at this. I feel too proud knowing I’m capable of running even a teeny amount of time without wanting to die. I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see what happens!

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