over a bowl of oats

This morning, there were two things on the brain.

First, breakfast. 

I don’t normally like to eat and read all at the same time, but I did just that today. 

Well.  That is, if you count studying the t-stops to Beth Israel Hospital in Boston as “reading.”

Part of the dietetic internship involves traveling to various places and listening to different lecturers and speakers.  Today, Beth Israel Hospital in Boston was having a day-long lecture on the topic of Obesity (and how to best manage it,) self esteem issues in the adolescent, and more. 

This all brings me to the second thing on my brain: making my way through Boston.  A solo journey.  Normally, this kind of thing is deemed as fun and exciting, and it really doesn’t bother me in the slightest.  If I get lost, I get lost.  What’s the worst that could happen, really?  I end up in Canada?   That’s okay.  I like Canada.

(FYI, this is not my own picture.  And Boston is not currently seeing this much sunlight. 😉 )

(source)

Even though I’m not afraid of getting lost, I do hate, hate, hate showing up late to any sort of event or conference.  It’s one of my own personal little pet peeves.  And so, with a time schedule looming over me, I felt slightly anxious and nervous.

That was when my dad asked me with a smile, “Sarah, it’s not a big deal.  What are they going to do if you show up a little late?  Yell at you?”  I thought about this, realizing how silly I was for worrying about things that were completely out of my control (what if the T is running late???  What if I get a flat tire and can’t make it on time?  What…)

I thank my dad for always having the ability to just shrug something off, because that is exactly what I decided to do from that point on.  And then I just enjoyed the trip into Boston.  Reading during a 30 minute ride on the subway.  People watching.  Feeling deliciously independent as I walked into the lecture hall of Beth Israel Hospital (completely on time, I might add.)  Soaking up all the little bits of information like a sponge.  Walking home with a tall soy gingerbread latte from Starbucks.

Delicious.

Lesson Learned: Relax.  Breath.  And realize that it’s okay to not always have control over everything.  This is what makes life interesting. 😀

Question: How do you handle life’s little stresses?   

feeling inspired

Nicole is a planner.  An organizer. 

She’s not that last minute Christmas shopper who frantically buys something just to buy something (*cough*cough*like me!*cough*cough).  No.  She puts thought into each selection.  She’s that person who wraps your gift so elegantly you don’t even want to open it.

So when she called me up and asked if I wanted to go into Boston this weekend, in order for her to finish up her Christmas shopping, I of course said YES!  Maybe some of her organization and Martha Stewart-ness would rub off on me in the process.  One can hope.

I realize that this is my third straight weekend in Boston.  I think I might be falling in love with the place.

I also fell in love with a giant Christmas bulb.

And these two fluffy lovebugs.

I think I need a dog in my life. 😉

And—is it just me?—or are guys getting more and more creative with proposals these days? 

The ice sculpture on the right read, “Will You Marry Me?” 

There’s always something to see in Boston.  Maybe that’s why I love it so much.  People watching is one of my favorite hobbies. 😉

However, today was not just about people watching.  Or eating.  (Although we did plenty of both—hello, cheesecake factory!)  Today, we each had a mission.  To either (a) finish our Christmas shopping or (b) to leave feeling inspired.

Nicole left Boston with all of her Christmas shopping completed.  Done!  And I left Boston feeling inspired not to be that Christmas Eve shopper this year.  It was a successful day! :mrgreen:

Until next time Boston!  I will see you again shortly.  This time, with my very own Christmas list. 

Question: Are you a last minute gift buyer for birthdays and holidays, or do you plan ahead?

a day in boston

I spent the day in Boston with Pepere.

Pepere is a Canadian citizen.  But he probably knows more about American politics—American history—than most people (certainly more than me!)  With that in mind, it only made sense to bring him into Boston while marveling at the landmarks.  Indulging in some historical chit-chat.

The State Capitol!! 

(look how tiny they seem in comparison! 😀 )

I’ve learned to eat with intention.  Mindfully.  Thoughtfully.  Slowly.

But I still have troubles with walking in this way.  Sometimes I walk faster than I run.  True story.

Today, Pepere slowed me down.  He noticed the peeling roof of an old building.  He noticed that we could see the Prudential Center from the park.  He noticed that there were still leaves on the trees, where there was nothing but bare branches back at home.

I slowed down.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the entire day was watching this giant tree get trimmed and prepped.

(p.s. I promised myself that I would never talk about Christmas before Thanskgiving, but, really, who was I kidding?  I’m a kid at heart.  Any sign of Christmas makes me dance inside. :mrgreen: )

Once the clouds came out, hiding every last trace of warmth, we mutually decided that it was time to eat.

I had no idea where my Dad was taking the group, but I decided to just roll with it.  He has good restaurant sense, and I knew well enough to just sit back and trust his judgement.

We walked into a place called Kinsale, a spot not far off from from Quincy Market.  A spunky little Irish Pub, filled with warmth and charm.  I loved it upon first glance.  I loved it even more when I saw the menu.

There was literally something for everyone.  From warm and comforting pot pies, to fish & chips, to salads & sandwiches.  The menu offered a wide and varied selection, which I love. 

Dad went with a rustic beef stew.

For my own entree, I chose the Crab Cake Salad.  Ever since eating at the Top of the Hub with my sister, I have been craving a gentle, delecate crab cake.  They’re not easy to find.  Most times they’re too meaty.  Or over salted.  Or just plain flavorless.

These crab cakes weren’t exactly what I remember tasting at the Top of the Hub, but they were still delicious.  And the rest of the salad was so exciting, that I was overall really pleased with my order.  Plantain chips.  Fresh mango.  Avocado.  A zingy citrus dressing.  Delicious! 

The plantain chips were by far my favorite part of this meal!

You know how some days just go by way too fast?  That was today.

Goodbye Boston.  I’ll see you again soon.

Question: What is your favorite city/town to visit?

weekend post: time to visit

My older brother—Matthew—and Kelsey—his fun and awesome girlfriend—live in Boston.

Matthew has lived there for a year.  And here’s the thing: I’ve never actually visited him.

I hate admitting that, even here on the blog.  I mean, he’s my brother.  The guy I looked up to as a kid.  He was always the life of the party.  The environmentalist who went vegetarian because he felt so strongly about the subject.  The guy who told me to just block out the pain of a hard run—just keep running.  The guy who convinced me to eat tree sap because “it taste like honey” (which it does NOT, by the way 😉 ).  The protective big brother who came to visit me while I was working in a grocery store, asking me where the creepy, jerky guys were, just so that he could beat them up for me.   

Somehow plans came and went.  I constantly told him, “I’ll visit you soon!” while the weeks and months flew by.  So it was about time that I actually visited him at his “new” location.

His apartment is in such a perfect little location.  Trees outside the front porch make you forget for a moment that you’re in a big city.  A quiet side road leads you directly to a cozy cafe.  A turn around the corner is like pulling back the curtain, allowing you to see the heart of the city.  A quaint little cupcake spot (more on that later!) is little more than a half a mile away.

Old world style wood floors make your shoes clink, clank as you make your way to to the spacious, airy kitchen.  And the pantry!?!   Adorable.  Just too adorable. 😀

There was also a cat named Ellum.

And a batch of kombucha sitting atop the fridge. :mrgreen:

After my initial tour of the apartment, Matthew, Kelsey and I headed out for food and fun.  There was so much covered in one short little day, that it’s almost impossible to narrow it all down.

I could tell you about the seaweed salad or the eel & avocado roll that I ate at a favorite sushi spot.  (Yes, eel!  I loved it!! 😀 )

I could tell you about the Spinach Waldorf Salad that I bought at a cafe, studded with buttery, sugared walnuts and sprinkled with bleu cheese.  Bursts of flavor in each crunchy, creamy bite.

I could tell you about the dog I fell in love with (as my mom would say, what dog don’t I fall in love with?) :mrgreen:

BUT, this is a food blog.  And I’d much rather talk about cupcakes.

Honestly, I’m not the biggest “sweets” person in the world.  I’d much rather have a big ol’ caprese sandwich.  Or a melted brie sandwich.  Or even a larger than life salad with fun ingredients.  I’ll never eat dessert first, because I would rather save the extra room for a cheese and fruit platter before the entree.  It’s how I roll.

Unless we’re talking cupcakes. 

I love how personal they are.  Like little pillows of delight, made especially for you.  It doesn’t matter if there are a dozen or so cupcakes that look identical to the one in your hand.  This is your cupcake and it was made with you in mind.  Right?  Of course.   

Everyone placed their orders.  Matthew ordered the cookies and cream.

Kelsey ordered the red velvet.

And I took a flying leap out of my own cupcake comfort box and ordered the white chocolate espresso. 

I felt like a little kid at a candy store, as I purchased my cupcake and dunked my finger into the fluffy frosting.  But there was nothing “little kid” about this all-grown-up cupcake.  The rich flavors of coffee intertwined with the black speckles of vanilla beans.  Sweet, but not overly so.  The white chocolate became an afterthought, in a very good way. 

It was so fun catching up with Matthew and Kelsey over sushi, salads, coffees and cupcakes.  A very full day, in every which way.  And, I don’t plan on waiting a full year before visiting him the next time around. 😉 

Question: What is your favorite kind of cupcake?

a weekend to remember

Best.  Weekend.  Ever. 

Nicole has been planning a get-away for us since I graduated in May.  Leaving me totally in suspense, she simply told me that it was going to be a weekend to remember.  A weekend filled with laughing, food, fun, and simply enjoying life to the fullest.  I didn’t bother trying to guess what she was up to, because this girl can keep a surprise, and she knows how to plan, plan, plan.  Seriously.  I’m convinced that she should be a wedding planner.

After indulging in some ice cream from Kimball’s (where I surrendered to chocolate chip cookie dough icecream…amazing), Nicole drove directly into this adorable little Inn, known as the Wachusett Village Inn.

 I was shocked.  In fact, I started laughing a little, half expecting her to say, “Kidding!” while driving on.

But we stopped.

She handed me the key.

And we walked in to our own little cabin.

 

 The room was so quaint.  So charming.  So New England. 

 

 We quickly took over and made it our own.  This was a girly weekend to the MAX.  :mrgreen:

 

And no girly weekend is complete without (a) twizzlers, (b) funky nail polish colors, (c) girly magazines, and (d) anklets!

Nicole used to make these all the time, and she showed me the how-to’s. 😀

I then became a little overexcited about the spread of breakfast items that she prepared (not to mention the gallon sized water bottle that she bought specifically because she knows how much water I drink…haha.  This girl knows me 😉 )

Complete with whole wheat bagels, The Bees Knees peanut butter (first time trying it…love, love, love!!), bananas, heart to heart, milk, and crunchy granola.  She also bought chobani yogurts, but we brought them home since we simply didn’t have any more stomach space for them. 😀 

 Best.  Weekend.  Ever. 

And this was just day one.

 

DAY 2

The next day was absolutely gorgeous.  Not a cloud in the sky.  Seventy degrees.  Cool.  Breezy.

And I still had no idea where we were off to.  Nicole simply stated that we should each wear a sundress and live it up for the day.  There are never enough excuses to wear a fun sundress. 😀 

Where were we going?

I was dying to know.

And as we were sipping on our Starbucks coffees-to-go (I felt so girly and carefree! :mrgreen:), Nicole filled me in with some of the details.  We were going to spend an entire day in…

BOSTON!

This is one of those things that we’ve always talked about doing, but never actually have.  Dress up.  Feel pretty.  Go shopping in any and all stores (Gucci, anyone?) 

Live.  Life.

And this weekend, we did just that.  I honestly felt as if I were living in a dream.  One in which my best friend was also living that same dream, and everything was ten times better then even my imagination could have allowed. 

We walked, and walked, and walked.  Taking in all that the beautiful city of Boston has to offer.

Swan Boats!

Newbury St.!!!

(aka, shopping central!) :mrgreen:

We walked into specialty soap shops.  Shops that carried only imported olive oils and balsamic vinegars.  Shops that had tiny little spoons with a price tag well over $100.  Shops that had fancy little cupcakes in every flavor imagineable.

Such fun.

And then there was dinner.  It was the highlight of the day.  The one thing that Nicole refused to tell me about until the very last minute.  I had no idea what to expect, but when she led me to the elevator and told me that we were going to the 52nd floor of the Prudential Center, I almost squealed, screamed, did a little happy dance.  But instead, I just smiled and laughed in shock.  Utter, complete shock.

We were going to the Top of the Hub.

 

The above picture was the view from our seat.  The view right from where we would be eating.  We were literally overlooking the entire city of Boston.

If it weren’t for the pictures, I still would think it all a dream. 😀

When we first walked in, the host commented, “Congratulations on your graduation, Sarah.”  Wait, what?  How did he know?  And when the waiter came over later on to issue the same congratulations, I practically fell over.  Nicole and I felt so special at this restaurant, as if we were the only people in a room full of people.  I’ve never had such perfect, intricate, or special service as I did here. 

Of course, it’s not all about the service, is it?  It all comes down to the food.  How quickly your water glass is filled upon the time you reach the the last sip.  How hot the entree is when it is placed in front of you. 

The bread. 

 

 The bread.

The warm, doughy raisin bread oozing out cinnamon from its deep swirls of perfection.  Needless to say, I loved it. :mrgreen:

The real highlight of the meal, I’ve got to say, was the appetizer, the Joan and Lump Crabmeat Cake with Avocado Cream and Roasted Red Pepper Remoulade

Nicole and I took one bite, looked at each other, blinked, and went back for another.  This literally melted away in your mouth.  The outside was crisp and buttery, and the inside was soft, tender, mouth-watering.  We almost told the waiter to just bring us another round and skip the entree altogether. :mrgreen:

 

 Nicole’s entree was the Vermont Misty Knolls Chicken, a free-range chicken served with fingerling potatoes, bacon lardons, and braised swiss chard.

The chicken melted—absolutely melted—off the bone.  And the sauce tasted like a gourmet, adult version of a bbq sauce reduction.  Amazing.

 

 For my entree, I ordered the Potato Gnocchi, made with smoked chicken, morel mushrooms, fresh english peas and a parmesan cream.

This reminded me of a traditional macaroni and cheese that was given an adult, gourmet twist.  The gnocchi were soft, oozing with the creamy sauce.  Comfort food at its finest.  My favorite part of the entire meal were the morel mushrooms.  They had these tiny little pockets that brought in–and held–the cream sauce.  It made me sigh.  Literally. 

I can’t imagine a meal ever topping this one.  A meal to remember.

 

 Although we were both pretty full by the end, we wanted to take complete advantage of the fact that were sitting at the top of the Prudential Center and eating at the Top of the Hub.

We ordered dessert. 

We ordered Valrhona Warm Chocolate Cake, served with blackberry icecream atop a delicate meringue, and drizzled with burgundy sauce.

One poke into the chocolate cake, and a flood of warm chocolate sauce oozed out onto the plate.  We practically licked the plate clean, it was so amazing.  Perfect.  So perfect.  Everything about the meal, the day, the service, the dessert. 

Perfect.

 

 We uttered our thanks to the Top of the Hub for the most delightful experience I have ever had, and walked our way back to our car.

And, might I add, walking through Boston at the end of the day is an experience in and of itself.  The sun was just beginning to set and a cool breeze swished and swayed its way through the city.  But the city was not resting.  A whole new side of the city came to life.  Amusement parks.  Live performances and plays on the common.  Sail boats.  Boston is always so alive.

 

 

 I can hardly wait for our next extravaganza. 😀

 

Thanks again, Nicole!!  The entire weekend was filled with non-stop surprises.  It was by far the best weekend of my life, and I mean that completely. 😀

Question: What is your favorite city/town to visit? 

B-town :)

Three cheers for the Sweet Potato Challenge! :mrgreen:  I guess I should have been a little more specific about the rules, since some of you asked. 😉  Here they are:

Who: Everyone! 

What: A challenge to put your creativity and your love for the sweet potato to good use. :mrgreen:  Remember, though, if you think you make the best looking sweet ‘tater fries, that counts too!  Don’t be afraid to post it up. 😀

When: Starts this Monday, ends Friday night!

Where: Post the picture of your potato masterpiece on your blog, and let me know via comment that you posted it up so that I can include it in Saturday’s post.

Why: Who doesn’t want more reasons to love the sweet potato?  On Saturday, I’ll post up a Hall of Fame Sweet Potato post.  Talk about some major sweet potato lovin’. 😀

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My parents and I had plans to visit Boston today, so I kept my breakfast quick and easy so that I’d have time to fit in a mini-morning workout.

  • 1.5 c. Kashi Go Lean
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 6-oz. yogurt with 2 T. crushed flax
  • handful of almonds

Quick…easy…crunchy…perfect. 😀

I had a tough time getting myself motivated for strength training this week.  I need to just remember that once I start, I love it.  It’s the starting that I always have a difficult time with. 😉 

However, as always, once I was five minutes into downward dogs and bicycle crunches, I felt deliciously happy to be working out.  Strength training makes me feel strong, and I absolutely love that feeling! 😀 

I rushed to shower, threw my hair up in a ponytail and grabbed a snack-to-go: an orange, some pistachios and a cup of chai tea.  These Olivio Butter containers come in handy for stashing snacks, by the way.  It did feel a little strange to be eating out of a butter container though. 😉 

Walking around Boston was fun.  The day was gloriously sunny and warm (I’m sure it reached 45-50!)  We walked through Harvard, saw the Charles River, and did a lil’ bit of shopping on the side.  Although I withheld from entering Urban Outfitters, because there’s no way I could go in without buying something.  That store is super pricey but they have the most adorable dresses and shirts. 😀 

Walking near Harvard…this old chapel has so much charm. 😀

 Walking left all of us hungry.  Unfortunetly, I forgot to print off the directions for an Indian restaurant that I’ve been dying to try, so we settled on a place called Fire and Ice.  Next time, I’m totally hitting the Indian restaurant though. 😉

Fire and Ice is lit with all kinds of funky colored lightbulbs when you walk in.

From the website, I grabbed this photo, just to show how the food process works at Fire and Ice.  Basically, there are different “stations” of vegetables, meats, tofu, etc.  You grab what you want, include a sauce of your choice, and bring it to this humungous wheel, where the chefs throw it on and stir it around as it cooks.  The wheel keeps spinning, and by the time it reaches a certain point, they throw on the sauce of your choice, and put it on your plate.  Voila!

I love the concept of being able to choose whatever ingredients you want to eat, including the fact that it’s all you can eat.  That includes the salad bar.  I made myself a huge salad with the works, but the camera seemingly decided to eat that picture.  Weird?

Anyways, my meal included all the following:

  • sweet potato (lots of!)
  • broccoli
  • bean sprouts
  • pea pods
  • red onions
  • garlic
  • fruit sauce
  • carrots
  • tofu

+ a wrap on the side.

The atmosphere of being able to make your own meal is what basically makes this restaurant.  Honestly, I think a homemade stir-fry tastes ten times better, but it was still fun to pick and choose the fun ingredients. 😀

Fun day with the parents! 😀

Dad treated us to coffees for the ride home, and I went with a tall soy misto.  So warm and yummy!  This was my “signature drink” all throughout my sophomore year of college. :mrgreen:

Since lunch was so late (i.e., 3:30!) I was only feeling slightly empty for dinner, so I kept it small with a refreshing yogurt mix:

  • 6-oz. plain yogurt
  • 1 T. crushed flax
  • 1/2 whole wheat pumpkin muffin
  • 1/2 banana
  • tsp peanut butter

+ an apple

Can you believe that tomorrow is already the last day of the first week of March?  Unbelievable.

Time to relax with a cup of tea. 😀

Question: Are you in love with the city, or are you a country guy/girl at heart?  I’m totally country.  I do love visiting the city, but I feel most “at home” in the country.  Give me my mountains, lakes and trails, and I’m one [very] happy girl. 😀