Leeky Shrimp Zoodles

Zoodles are all the rage these days, and it’s safe to say I’ve jumped on the zoodle bandwagon! Having a spiralizer at my disposal has been incredible (thanks, mom and dad!) as it’s so easy to substitute veggie “noodles” for pasta!

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This Leeky Shrimp Zoodles is adapted from a Rachael Ray recipe for Leeky Shrimp Linguine (originally found in her magazine – I don’t have the exact recipe anymore!). This has been a staple with my family for times when my dad, and his poor shellfish allergies, are out of town. While we used to make this with pasta (which is equally as delicious), we have recently been subbing in zucchini noodles – delish!

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Enjoy this for a quick, yummy and healthy dinner!

Leeky Shrimp Zoodles

*serves 2-4*

(adapted from Rachael Ray’s Leeky Shrimp Linguine)

  • 1 lb. shrimp (I used peeled, deveined tail-off cooked shrimp from Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 leeks (the white part!) – cleaned, cut length-wise, then sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 4-5 zucchini, spiralized
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. In a small bowl, combine shrimp, garlic, lemon zest (+ an optional squeeze of lemon!), pepper flakes and 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil. Set aside.
  2. Add 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil to a deep skillet, add zoodles (spiralized zucchini) and toss while cooking on medium heat to desired tenderness. (I slice my zoodles smaller prior to cooking). Turn to simmer.
  3. Add 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil to another deep skillet and heat to medium. Add sliced leeks and season with salt and pepper. Cook until slightly brown-edged. Add shrimp mixture and heat through. Add wine, cook down slightly, then combine with zoodles.
  4. Enjoy!

Happy zoodling! XOXO!

 

*Christmas* Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Merry Christmas Eve, all! I hope you all are ready for the big holiday and not running around crazy with a million things to do. With just hours left before the celebrations begin, I hope you can take this time to relax and spend time with family. That’s my plan! That, and eating a zillion cookies and drinking a glass (or ten) of wine. Yahoo!

  
I thought it would be nice to share a fun cookie recipe for the holiday. It’s super easy, and from one of my favorite bloggers Sally’s Baking Addiction and her fabulous cookbook, Sally’s Baking Addiction (available on Amazon!).

I took Sally’s Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and Christmasified (DEFINITELY a word) them. I rolled them in green and red sugar before baking and used only white chocolate chips – yum! The original recipe is just as delish. Hope you all enjoy! XO!

Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups yellow or white boxed dry cake mix
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • colorful sugar sprinkles to roll the cookies

Steps

  1. In a large bowl, sift the flour, cake mix and baking soda together. Set aside.
  2. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar together in a large bowl on medium speed until creamed, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute, scraping down the sides as needed. Using the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. Do not overmix. With a large spoon or rubber spatula, fold the white chocolate chips into the dough. Cover the dough and chill for at least 2 hours (or up to 3 days).
  3. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and allow to soften slightly at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350*F. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets. Place sugar sprinkles into small bowls.
  5. Roll the dough into balls, about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough per cookie. Roll the cookie dough balls to be taller rather than wide. Roll the cookie dough balls into the sugared sprinkles, coating all sides with sugar. Place the cookie dough balls 3in apart onto each cookie sheet and bake each batch for 10-13 minutes until the edges are slightly browned. The cookies will look very soft and underbaked. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies will stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 7 days. 

When “Thank You” Isn’t Enough

How does one express thanks for something so beyond words and meaning? It’s tough, and I am simply stumped. But, I owe thanks to all of you who read and supported me in sharing my eating disorder struggle here on my blog. It’s been nearly three weeks since I clicked “publish”  and I am still in awe of the response I received.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to those who read the post, near and far. To those who I know and to those who I don’t. To those who reached out, and those who silently stood by without judgement. It is unfathomable how grateful I am to each and every one of you.

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This journey is ongoing, and likely will never end. I sometimes think of my eating disorder as a volcano – with active and dormant periods. While it will never leave me, I hope that someday it is only a faint thought in the back of my head.

This weekend, in another effort to take back my life and stand up to this awful disease, my boyfriend and I will be participating in a walk for the National Eating Disorders Association. Your thoughts and encouragement mean so much, and, if you are able, please feel free to make a donation to NEDA on our behalf. The link can be found here.

Again, thank you. I hope that in sharing my journey I have eradicated some of the stigma that exists around this disease, and that I have somehow helped others with their own mental health struggles.

XOXO.

The Truth Will Set You Free…

It always upsets me that there’s such a stigma around mental illnesses, especially as they are so common. Despite the fact that I am upset by this, I still refuse to openly talk about my own battle with mental health, simply because I’m embarrassed and afraid to be judged. Quite the contradiction – I hate the stigma, yet I clearly let it live on by not talking about my own battles.

In the spring of my freshman year of high school (2007), I decided to give up sweets for Lent. Innocent, right? Well one thing led to another and I was no longer avoiding sweets, I was avoiding anything I deemed “unhealthy” and overly restricting my calorie intake. I was exercising excessively and dropping weight extremely quickly.

My poor, sweet friends confronted me with their concerns, and I agreed, I had a problem and told them I would stop. Inside, though, their comments only fueled my fire. I accepted their concerns about my weight as a compliment, and used this to drive me to more weight loss.

As school let out for the summer, I had more or less removed myself from any relationships I had with people. I spent my days working out, restricting food and being utterly miserable. I can still picture the meals I ate. 3/4 of a cup of Special K (no milk of course). A can of tuna (no mayo) with pepper and a sliced tomato. Minimal intake of whatever my mom cooked for dinner. Writing that brings me to tears, because I feel the misery and hopelessness I felt back then. And it’s suffocating.

I vividly remember getting up from a chair by the pool, and blacking out and falling to the ground, because my blood pressure was so low. At my worst, my heart rate was 44 and I weighed 88 pounds. Keep in mind I’m 5 foot 5 inches. Terrifying.

After being told if I didn’t get better (by the 3 doctors I saw each week) that I would be sent to treatment, I had hit rock bottom. And I was able to heal and move forward, with the help of my family and friends and a great team of doctors.

Fast forward to junior year of college (2012-2013). My life felt like it was falling apart. My dad was undergoing chemo, my grandmother was dying of ovarian cancer and I was utterly devastated. I turned back to the control of the eating disorder to avoid the hurt.

I would wake up at 6 am to workout before class. I would barely eat at (delicious!) sorority meals. I blacked out at parties. I removed myself from friends, and I know I scared people. Some sorority sisters of mine reached out to my parents, who once again came to help.

I sought treatment at school and seemed to be getting better. Better enough, in fact, that I moved to LA to complete an internship.

I was doing well, but I missed my parents and sisters. I worried about my body, because I didn’t belong to a gym. I felt out of control, and that’s when the anorexia morphed to bulimia (as it often does). After one particular episode that summer, I ended up in the hospital. You’d think that would be rock bottom, like when a drug addict OD’s, but even that didn’t stop my behavior.


And, to be frank, it still hasn’t. I still struggle. To this day. It has been 8 years, and I know it will be a lifelong struggle. Which scares the bah-jesus out of me.

I’m writing this today, after 8 years in this battle, because I am determined to do something. While I’m still figuring out what that something is, I’m calling on you all for help. Help to remove the stigma around mental health. Help and support as I make my decision for what’s next. Prayers for recovery.

Most immediately, I’m asking for donations.  On Saturday, November 14th, I will be participating in a National Eating Disorder’s Association walk in West Chester, PA. You can access the donation link here: http://neda.nationaleatingdisorders.org/site/TR/NEDAWalk/General?px=1547384&pg=personal&fr_id=3910

I want to show that I have accepted my problem, and I’m ready to raise awareness and start a dialogue that needs to be started. We as a society have to change, have to stop putting pressure on people to look and act a certain way. We have to stop perpetuating the belief that there is norm we need to prescribe to. There are over 7 billion people on this planet, and I’m damn sure there’s not just one best way for us to look and act.

Yet, while I’m damn sure, I’ve still fallen victim to this belief and I fight a daily battle as a result. And I know I’m not the only one, despite often feeling so alone. So please consider giving in some way, even if it’s just saying a prayer. It all matters. Not just for me, but for the millions of people who suffer.

This is the scariest, most honest piece I’ve ever written. I’m fearful of the judgment I will receive for being so open. But I know, the stigma won’t end without the conversation and, let’s be honest, when do I ever pass up the chance to start a conversation.

XOXO.

Working: Have to or Want to?

I recently came across a New York Times article called “Rethinking Work” that left me thinking, and rethinking, a lot of things.

As the article alludes, the notion that we as human beings work solely to make money has been around since the days of Adam Smith, who penned in his “The Wealth of Nations” that “It is the interest of every man to live as much at ease as he can.”

From these words came the idea that it is best to routinize at automate work, so that we virtually don’t have to work, as work is defined. What was once work now has a new meaning, and therefore it should come as no surprise that, according to a recent Gallup poll, almost 90 percent of workers were either “not engaged” with or “actively disengaged” from their jobs. How can one truly be engaged when their work no longer requires effort, when it is no longer a challenge?

While that’s not to say we don’t all dream of a life living in yoga pants and eating bowls of Reese’s Puffs eight hours a day while watching Real Housewives marathons (wait, is that just me?), I find it hard to imagine that most of us don’t want to have a purpose. And, while sitting at a desk all day is not for everyone, that is not the definition of work. Work, or a job, can take a variety of forms (not just corporate), which I think we all too often forget.

It’s certainly easy to fall into the “Adam Smith trap” where we search for jobs that make us the most so we can afford all of life’s luxuries – but at what sacrifice? Sure, you can afford that palatial beach house, but how much joy will it really provide you if you’re stuck there dreading having to return to work the following week?

As Barry Schwartz notes in his NYT article, “Money does not tap into the essence of human motivation so much as transform it. When money is made the measure of all things, it becomes the measure of all things.”

So, while it is important to factor in money when considering work (no one wants to feel completely strapped or worried about finances all the time), it cannot be the sole factor in deciding on a job (or a career). One must consider the job holistically. Do you feel passionate and driven by the work you will be doing? Do you believe in the company you are working for? Do you believe in the product you are selling? Do you feel challenged, and that there are opportunities for growth and development?

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Without these non-salary related questions factored into your job decision, you are likely to end up trapped in a place where you, like so many Gallup poll-ers, feel unsatisfied and disengaged. You’ll lose morale and likely hinder your job performance.

I should note, too, that every individual is likely to have different answers to these questions, as we are all motivated by different things. Heck, that’s what makes the world go round! So, while I am fascinated by the world of media, others are passionate about science or real estate or retail – anything and everything!

I’ll end with a profound statement by Schwartz in which he stated that “Work that is adequately compensated is an important social good. But so is work that is worth doing. Half of our waking lives is a terrible thing to waste.”

Don’t waste half of your waking life. Honor your passions, find your challenge and enjoy what you do.

XOXO

Finding Passion…and Living It

This morning I came across a Huffington Post article titled “6 Ways to Find Your Passion and Live Your Purpose,” which I thought was so timely considering what I have been deliberating in my mind about my quarter-life crisis and going after what I love.

There list of 6 includes the following:

  1. List what you love and connect the dots.
  2. Identify what you do with ease.
  3. Look at your past.
  4. Play like a child.
  5. Do what makes you happy…all of it.
  6. Ask others for help.

All 6 items on these list stood out to me, and when you read the article the explanations for each truly make a well-rounded argument for how these items can help you find your passion. Yet, still, I find myself baffled. How can 6 things that seem so simple make such a big impact?

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I think the problem, for me at least, when I read these types of lists is that I automatically assume these are things I am already doing. Of course it’s easy to say that you truly know what it is you love in life and that you try to focus on what makes you happy and do these things. However, how fully are you really embracing this kind of lifestyle?

There are so many things I love to do – travel, eat, write, explore – that I don’t do enough (well, besides eat). And, if I do them, I don’t necessarily allow myself to “live” them. This lies hand-in-hand with my risk-averse personality. I am scared. I am scared to go after what I love, and I think that is because there are so many things I love that seem so “basic” that it is hard to imagine making a life out of these passions. As in, how could I ever get a job doing any of these things?

I want to make a difference in this world, and I think that if every person were to embrace and live their passions, the world would be a better place. We are all so unique and bring such a different perspective to the world, if we were to harness these passions and live them, just think of how bright and beautiful this earth would be.

That said, I love this short and sweet list, but it makes me wonder what more there is to do to find and live your passion. If you have suggestions, let me know, because I am still chasing after mine.

XOXO

Risks & Rewards

I often ask myself, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” Haven’t we all asked that question – what risks would you take if you knew there would be no consequences?

The hardest part for me, though, is coming up with the answer to the question. I have so many things that I want to do in and with my life, but I often let fear inhibit me from taking the plunge and doing these things.

Those who know me well, and likely even those who have only briefly encountered me, know that I am an anxious person by nature. I worry and I fret and I often let my worry paralyze me. But, as I reflect on my “quarter-life crisis” and think about the worry I have about the unknown that lies ahead of me, it’s made me realize all the more that I can’t let my fear stop me from going after what I want and love.

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At 23, I have most of my life ahead of me (God willing), which seems odd considering people say college is the best time of your life, etc. How can the best time of my life already have passed when I still have three quarters left to live?! I certainly hope what’s best is yet to come.

So, now that I am my older and wiser 23-year-old self, I want to issue myself a challenge, and perhaps you too. Embrace the trial and error of life. Take risks, knowing that you may (and likely will) make mistakes. But, without taking these risks, you might not know what you’ve been missing out on. I guess the way I look at it is, I would rather take a risk than live with regret. Or, at least that’s what I am telling myself from here on out. Plus, with so much life left to live, can’t I afford to take a leap of faith and perhaps fall a few (million) times?

It’s easy to let anxiety stop you from trying new things or taking new adventures. It’s easy to let the fear of failure stop you from even trying. It’s easy for me at least. But, and taking one from Babe Ruth here, with this new year of life ahead of me, I am pushing myself (and you!) to not let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game. Cliche, but true.

XOXO

The Quarter Life Crisis

In one week I turn 23 years old. That’s in 7 days. 10,080 minutes. 604,800 seconds. And, don’t they say, nobody likes you when you’re 23? Thanks, Blink 182.

But, do you want to know what else nobody likes?  Nobody likes to tell you how hard your 20’s can be. Yes, I am still young enough to go out and drink until 2 a.m. and, sure, I don’t have a family or a mortgage. Hell, I don’t even have a car payment (#bigcityperks). But man, life is still throwing me some curve balls.

Before now, life has been pretty prescribed. Elementary school. Middle school. High school. College. Class at this time. Sports (or if you’re me, student government) at this time. Babysit at that time. Study. Get a grade. Pass your class. Look for a job. Graduate. Move on. Start your job…

Suddenly, though, the path ahead isn’t paved – and you’ve got to figure out the direction you’re headed in on your own. And while you may have people guiding you, there’s no one there to tell you exactly how it should be done. Instead, you’re told there’s no right answer, and you’ve got to decide for yourself what lies ahead. And what happens if you mess up and decide you’ve gone the wrong way, or made the wrong choice? Sadly, it’s no game of Monopoly; there’s no get out of jail free card.

Nobody tells you that it’s scary. It’s scary to make these choices and to venture into the unknown with little to no safety net. You embark on your journey into the “real world” at such a young age. Suddenly, the bubble you’ve been living in for approximately 21 years is burst. You take your first real job. You hope you listened well enough in school as you sit in meetings across from people twice your age. You hope you don’t make a fool of yourself or sound too much like a “millennial,” all too often perceived as narcissistic, gadget-obsessed fools with their heads stuck in the clouds.

You hope you’re not seen as too young to know, but reality is, you are young. And there’s a lot of life you’ve yet to have experienced, so therefore…you might not know, simply because you haven’t lived it. But that doesn’t mean you’re dumb, or does it?

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This decade is a hard one to navigate. And nobody seems to tell you that. You teetering between being a child and a full blown adult, navigating a fine line that you may not even want to cross. Seemingly overnight you’ve gone from a few homework assignments and essays to bills and errands and real life work tasks (no more hypothetical problems anymore). How are you expected to do it all, and more importantly, to do it all right?

And there in lies in the real challenge. You’re not expected to do it all right. And, chances are, you probably won’t. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to make the wrong choice. You’re going to have to change your mind and pave a new path for yourself. Sometimes, in doing so, you’ll let people down. Sometimes, you will get hurt. But, in the end, you’ve got to make the choices that put you on the path towards your own success. And, what is success in life but being the happiest version of yourself? Yes, you’ll want to make money to live off of, and yes you’ll want that good ol’ American dream, but at the root of it all, if you’re not happy, what is any of it worth?

Note, though, that I write this not necessarily believing every word above. That is, I am in the midst of the struggle myself. Yes, I am certainly enjoying life – I have a great job, I live in a wonderful city, I have an amazing family, wonderful friends, a great boyfriend – but I still get worried. I worry about the three quarters of my life that lie ahead. I wonder what I truly want to be when I “grow up,” all while hoping I don’t ever really have to grow up, teetering that fine line we do in our 20’s.

But, I write what’s above believing deep in my heart that the best is yet to come. And that I can find that ultimate happiness if only I remember that it won’t happen overnight. And there will be hurdles. And I will trip over said hurdles (klutz by nature) and fall flat on my face. But, if I can pick myself up, if I can wipe the dirt off and keep moving, what lies ahead will be wonderful, if I only remember that the journey to get there won’t be perfect, as nothing ever is.

23, I am scared for you, but I am ready. Let the countdown begin. (And please, greet me with a pitcher of margs.)

Turning the Page

A bad workman blames his tools, right? Well, sorry to say it but this working woman is going to blame her tools. I don’t have a functioning computer which has led me to ignore my blogging and go about my New York life without updating my blog in AGES. It makes me sad, though, especially as my time in the City That Never Sleeps comes to an end.

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                         Midtown Sunset

Comes to an end?! What?!

On July 1st, I will officially be a resident of the City of Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love.

I can hardly believe how quickly a year has passed. It seems like it was just July 3rd, 2014 and I was moving myself into my Manhattan apartment and then POOF, I blinked and now I have two weeks left in this city. How in the world did that happen?!

It’s true, though, that with each passing year time seems to go faster. And I hate it.

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     God Bless America

This year was a whirlwind. At first I was confused and alone, and I felt like a small fish in a pond that was far too big. But, as the months passed, I came to find a place for myself in this city of millions. I found friends and things I enjoyed doing, and suddenly I can’t imagine leaving this place.

While I admit I would never live in New York long term (too far from family, too busy to raise a family, TOO EXPENSIVE, etc.), I can’t imagine leaving quite yet. I feel I still have people’s company to enjoy and things to still explore (and fun food to still try). It truly is bittersweet.

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Brooklyn Bridge Walks

While there is much to look forward to in Philadelphia (hello brand new apartment!), there is a lot to be missed about NYC. If you would have asked me a few years ago if I thought I would ever live in New York City, my guess would’ve been no. But, now that I’ve done it, I can’t imagine this past year any differently. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my strength, and I have grown empowered living in this city. I am excited for this new chapter, but it certainly is hard to turn the page on this one. But, like they say, if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere…

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Bushman in the Big Apple

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Central Park Sailboats

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Gal Pals

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City Slicker

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Lobster Benedict at Hotel Chantelle

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Parents Visit!

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Rink Bar at the Rockefeller Center

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Frozen Marg O’Clock

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Bifflez

Time to enjoy these last couple weeks! XOXO.

Mid-February, Already?!

Oh, ya know me, just doing that thing where I say I will start blogging again and then fall off the face of the earth for a month. Dare I say typical? Le sigh.

Needless to say, life has been pretty busy! This is my team at work’s “busy season” filled with many 12-hour days, and I simply haven’t devoted time to ze blog world. But, I really want to and am going to do my best to get back in the swing of things! (Deja vu??)

Here are some highlights from the past month:

January 10 – Got to cheer on the Panthers with some fellow Carolinians in Manhattan at Sidebar. Tough loss, but good to be in the Big Apple with some hometown fans!

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January 16 – My sweet Uncle Tom came into town for a visit, which was lovely! On Friday, we ate Dinner at Casa Nonna in Hell’s Kitchen – it was phenomenal! After, we saw the new Broadway musical, “Honeymoon in Vegas.” Although neither of us had heard of it, we both LOVED it! It was modern and fun – definitely worth seeing!

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January 17 – Happy Birthday, Daddy! With my Uncle still in town we met up with my Great Aunt Marilyn, Great Uncle Michael and second cousin Tyler for lunch at Sardi’s followed by a matinee performance of “Rock of Ages.” It was a wonderful day followed up with a night in New Haven, CT with delish pizza and Marilyn’s oatmeal raisin cookies.

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January 24 – ‘Twas a busy and fun Saturday. I started my day at the Brooklyn Brewery (as someone who doesn’t *love* beer, I highly recommend their Greenmarket Wheat), followed by drinks and snacks at The Whiskey Brooklyn.

BBSaturday concluded with an amazing dinner at the trendiest and most chic restaurant I have ever set foot in, TAO Downtown. Just being there I felt instantly like a celeb. I went with dear friends from Charlotte who were in town and it was so lovely to see them! We ate and drank well of course, too, and I highly recommend the Satay of Chilean Sea Bass and the Angry Dragon sushi roll. Both were phenomenal!

taoJanuary 27 – Ah, the epic NYC blizzard that never was. While it was predicted we’d see 3 feet of snow, we managed to get about 7.5 inches in the City. But, due to the overwhelming panic before, the Big Apple all but shut down meaning a “work from home in pajamas” day was in order.

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January 30 – While I don’t have any pictures from this night, I went to my dear friend Emma’s 23rd birthday celebration. Our night began at the Fat Buddha in Alphabet City and ended at Los Feliz in the Lower East Side. Between the lychee martinis and the jalapeno-cilantro margaritas, it was a great night had by all.

February 6 – Another night of margs at El Camion in Alphabet City and La Palapa in the East Village. Margs + tacos = my favorite nights. These spots have the best margs I’ve found in the City thus far!

February 7 – Finally caught up with my best girl, Tara, and enjoyed drinks and Bareburger. Gal time is the best time. The night concluded with seeing Birdman with my friend Peter! Definitely a good movie, much more “artsy” and “Academy Award worthy” than my typical viewing of “Mean Girls,”

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February 14 – Celebrated Galentine’s Day (duh) with Emma and Joanie and it was wonderful! We noshed on baked brie, salad, Skinny Spinach Lasagna from Pinch of Yum (SO GOOD.) and chocolates. Oh, and we may have consumed a copious amount of red wine. Whatever.

brieOtherwise, life has been pretty ordinary. Trying to balance work and socialization, while constantly being back and forth to our offices in Philadelphia each week. The nice part about that, though, is that I have tried some amazing restaurants in Philly and I am getting a feel for what may potentially be my new home starting in July. That, and a huge hotel bed never heard anybody.

Hopefully I will be back sooner than I was this go round. In the meantime, Go Heels. Go America. Go to hell dOOK.