order now, ask later

This morning, while running errands, I made my daily pitstop to The Chipped Cup, a sweet little uptown coffeeshop on Broadway at 149th that takes all my money and supplements my caffeine addiction (I love them).  I ordered my usual, and as the barista called out my drink at the bar, a man standing in line to order goes, “What is that?  I want that!”  The barista reiterated my order to him (a large, iced, almond milk latte) and he confirmed he definitely wanted that.

This guy had absolutely no idea what was in my drink.  When it came time for him to actually commit to the drink, he started changing his mind.  “Oh, not almond milk, I want regular milk.  Oh, wait, is there espresso in that?  What does that mean?  Can I get the almond in there with regular milk?”

So, what you’re saying, sir, is that you looked at the drink and wanted it, but you had absolutely no idea what the drink actually was? Clearly this man might be a little slow on the uptake (and probably shouldn’t be in a coffeeshop), but here’s a thought: Why are we so quick to look at things and instantly commit to them without knowing what’s inside?

I feel, especially in this day in age, we impulsively commit to something we see without asking questions first.  Whether it’s clothing, jobs, relationships — we’ll order it first and ask questions later.

So what happens if you realize you don’t want it anymore?  This man couldn’t return the coffee for a refund — they simply just made him another variation of what he wanted (free of charge, of course, because Chipped Cup is magic).  But in the long run, who does that hurt?  Not this customer, because there are no consequences for his error in judgment.  It hurts the business.

And what about the things we commit to that don’t come with gift receipts?  Apartments, relationships, jobs.  You can quit on all of these things, and the landlords will find new tenants, your exes will find new significant others, and the company can hire someone else; but isn’t that more trouble than it’s worth?

As the questions first, order it when you know it’s what you want.

 

The Year of Travel

The Year of Travel

Each year on January 1st, we list off a myriad of resolutions and positive promises to ourselves that will hopefully manifest change in our lives. And whether they stick or they don’t, twelve months later, we reset and do it all over again.

I rang in 2017 with a dear friend of mine, Hailei Call, who begins each year by proclaiming what she hopes it will be with one title: “The Year of…”  It’s much broader than a checklist of endeavors we set out to accomplish or the number of times we vow to visit the gym in a week.  The concept of naming your upcoming year simply promotes what you hope will manifest itself the most, not necessarily how you’ll get there.

At the start of this calendar year, I predicted this would be The Year of Travel.  The travel didn’t need to be anywhere exotic or distant, I just wanted to explore places outside of Manhattan; even if they were in states I’d been to over and over again.  I spent a solid part of this year in a long-distance relationship that had me on many midnight trains to, from, and through my home state of Connecticut.  I also spent most of this year helping my best friend plan her wedding, which, in turn, brought about planning-travel, shower-travel, bachelorette-travel, and wedding-travel to various places.  I was brought to Long Island for family holidays, baby showers, and alike.  And I’m rounding out the year on my first regional contract at White Plains Performing Arts Center where I’ll travel for rehearsals and performances.

This year, for many reasons, was my year of travel without even trying.  I’ve been lucky enough to share those adventures surrounded by lovely people in lovely places.  Here are some of my favorites to share with you.

O   R    L   A   N   D   O ,    F   L 

One of my closest pals plays Nemo in Finding Nemo: The Musical at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  I started my Year of Travel on the second week of January flying down to see her for a couple days.  Despite the fact that I had been there before, being in Disney World as an adult was still just as fun as it was twelve years ago (except for the fact that Epcot wasn’t nearly as exciting when I was thirteen and couldn’t drink around the world).  I’m looking forward to kicking off 2018 the same way!

B  O  S  T  O  N ,   M  A  S  S .

Three friends and I took an amazing weekend trip to Boston together in April.  I fell madly in love (see BeanTown) and know in my soul that something will take me there someday to live for a moment or two.  I was lucky enough hit Boston twice this year and go to my first Red Sox Game at Fenway in June.

S  A  R  A  T  O  G  A    S  P  R  I  N  G  S ,   N  Y

I’ve been visiting Saratoga Springs almost every summer since I was born.  I’ve missed a couple years here and there since moving to NYC, but it’s a place that lives in a very special corner of my heart, and I was lucky to escape there for a couple days over the summer.  My mother has been going every year for the last 40 years. FORTY YEARS. It’s such a sweet and special town. Stewart’s Ice Cream: No words. It is the best.

P  O  R  T  S  M  O  U  T  H ,   N  H

Along the way to an overnight getaway in Ogunquit, Maine, we stopped in the sweet little town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Honestly, we wanted to stay and nix the next half hour of driving! It was so beautiful — a quainter version of Boston. Our visit was short but so worth the pit stop. Portsmouth Brewery is a must-go!

O  G  U  N  Q  U  I  T  ,  M  A  I  N  E

Ogunquit was a great end-of-Summer escape.  It was such a wonderful little town, filled with cute shops and gorgeous views.  I tried lobster for the first time and we spontaneously went kayaking.  It was totally worth the drive!

W  I  L  D  W  O  O  D  ,   N  J

My bride-to-be’s bachelorette party was in Wildwood, New Jersey.  It was a perfectly inexpensive weekend getaway.  We landed an amazing Air BNB, located near a ton of restaurants on the water, and only a short walk to the boardwalk.  We rode the go-karts, Escaped The Room, and made breakfast each morning equipped with Costco bagels and lots n’ lots of mimosas.

N  E  W     W  I  N  D  S  O  R  ,   N  Y

I can’t say New Windsor, New York is the most exciting destination ever; but it’s special for the simple fact that I got to watch my best friend get married there.  It was about an hour west of where we grew up together in Connecticut, so it was definitely familiar, but still a new adventure.  The venue (Anthony’s Pier 9) was beautiful, and the rehearsal dinner was held at Newburgh Brewing Company; which is so charming and has a stunning view of the river, especially in the Autumn!

P  R  O  V  I  D  E  N  C  E  ,   R  I

Though it was only a glimpse, I took a spontaneous road trip to visit my best gal who recently relocated to Providence, Rhode Island to get her MFA at Brown (she is a rock star).  The journey was short but sweet — we got brunch at The Grange Providence, an adorable little restaurant down the street from her apartment that serves brunch all day.  Yes, all day, every day.  While we didn’t explore much, the road trip itself was a new adventure, and it was undoubtedly the first of many more visits to come!

tj maxx, you should go

tj maxx, you should go

So anyone who knows me is well-aware — I am undoubtedly a Maxxinista. Most of my wardrobe, from my dresses, to my shoes, down to my underwear, is from one of the TJX stores.

Well, last week, I had the most outrageous experience with a $10 shirt that I purchased from the 57th Street TJMaxx in Manhattan earlier last month. It was a simple, pink, cotton shirt that was stylish without breaking the bank (as most items at TJMaxx are) manufactured by a brand named Lavender Field.

By the time I reached work at noon on Saturday, this shirt had stained everything I was wearing including my bra, my new purse, my Levi jeans and even my skin.


It was WILD. So I did what any millennial would, and I tweeted about it — pictures and all.

I was met in the days following with flawless customer service. Theresa, Andre, and Kevin were so incredibly helpful, kind, and generous with my situation. Since, of course, every item that was damaged came from their store, I was able to go in to the 57th street location in Manhattan and get store credit for, not just the culprit shirt itself, but every single item that it dyed (except my skin, cause they don’t sell that there).

I just had to write about this. The TJX corporation has always been one of my faves and it was so comforting to know how highly they prioritize customer satisfaction. They will forever have my business because their customer service is MAGICAL.

sweet pot noodles

After deciding to incorporate the Whole30 guidelines into my lifestyle rather than practicing only on a month-to-month basis, I’ve gotten incredibly crafty when it comes to my meals.  One of my absolute favorite things to make: sweet potato noodles.

You can make them yourself, or buy them in store (my boyfriend and I found them recently at Big Y Market in Connecticut for $4.99).  I bought a really inexpensive spiralizer on Amazon, which makes it incredibly easy to make veggie noodles of any kind at home if you don’t want to buy the precut ones.

Below is a real yummy recipe I made at home for next to nothing:

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S W E E T  P O T A T O  N O O D L E S

2 narrow sweet potatoes – spiralized

2 TSP Black Pepper

1 TSP Cayenne Pepper

1 TSP Salt

2 TBSP Refined Coconut Oil

Sauté spiralized sweet potato noodles and coconut oil in a medium-sized frying pan on medium heat until soft.  Gradually add spices while the noodles cook.

R O A S T E D  B R O C C O L I

1 small head of broccoli

1 TSP Black Pepper

2 TSP Lemon Pepper

1 TBSP Melted Coconut Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread out chopped broccoli on a baking sheet and drizzle with melted coconut oil.  Sprinkle pepper and lemon pepper evenly over the broccoli.  Bake for 12 minutes, or until slightly crispy.

G U A C A M O L E

1 Avocado

5 Grape Tomatoes

1 Scallion Stalk

1/2 Lime

1 TSP Cayenne Pepper

1 TSP Black Pepper

Peel and slice avocado and mash in a bowl.  Dice grape tomatoes and scallions and add to avocado.  Squeeze “half a lime” juice into the bowl and add 2 TSP of pepper.  Stir until all blended to your liking.

Outline your plate with the sweet potato noodles, creating a ring around the edge.  Then take the broccoli and do the same on the interior of the sweet potato noodles, leaving a small circle in the center.  Fill the center with the guacamole and viola!

whole30

A few days ago, I posted about a really amazing breakfast bowl recipe I concocted on a whim during the final days of my first Whole30 challenge.  Well that challenge ends today!  For anybody who may be unfamiliar, the Whole30 challenges you to eliminate all heavily processed food for thirty days.  This includes all grains (bread, rice, etc.), dairy products (milk, cheese – ugh.), legumes (peanuts, corn, beans), unnatural added sugars, many saturated oils, and alcohol (yup, you read that correctly).  It’s main purpose is to train your body to “eat clean” for thirty days, then incorporate foods you used to eat back into your diet to see what affects you after you’ve reset.

I have struggled with my eating habits since I was thirteen years old and noticed my metabolism wasn’t as rapid as a prepubescent.  I tried the crash diets in high school, college, and from time to time since moving to the city.  Especially being exposed to many different routines in Manhattan, it’s easy to get wrapped up in a quick-fix solution.  But the Whole30 Challenge is no quick-fix, it’s a lifestyle change.

My biggest reservation about challenging myself was the fear that my self-control would get the better of me.  Luckily, I had already made many changes over the past three years in my diet – I’ve spent months going gluten-free, switched to almond milk in my lattes, and spent a great deal cooking with coconut oil.  My struggle over the past twenty-seven days has been to avoid drinking alcohol.  Not because I’m an alcoholic but, let’s face it, amongst the top ten phrases out of New Yorker’s mouths is, “Hey, wanna grab a drink?”

Today I’m sharing with you the things that helped me get through these past thirty days unscathed and without a cheat day to be had:

Sweet Potatoes

baked-sweet-potato.png

Excuse my language, but I fucking love sweet potatoes.  And guess what?  You can have as many as you damn well please on the Whole30.  You wanna bake a potato and put some salt and pepper on it?  You wanna mash em up and pretend like you’re eating a Thanksgiving dinner? You wanna make yourself some sweet potato fries at home? Live. Your. Life (but use coconut oil…).  Truthfully, the Whole30 allows you to eat white potatoes in moderation, but sweet potatoes are just straight up better for you.

Almond Butter

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This stuff saved me from going out of my mind during this challenge.  When I moved her in 2014, I became a crunchy peanut butter girl (Smuckers’ Natural PB if we’re getting specific).  I put peanut butter on everything, so when Whole30 told me I couldn’t eat peanuts (they’re a legume, not a nut), I didn’t know what I was going to do.  Justin’s Classic Almond Butter is a perfect choice – there’s no added sugar, the ingredients consist of only Palm Oil and Almonds.  Some will argue that the 2g of sugar on the nutrition label violate the Whole30 sugar intake.  They’re wrong.  The nutrition label and the ingredients are two very different entities.  If added sugars are in your ingredients, it’s off-limits.  If no sugar is added but natural sugars appear on your nutrition label, you’re safe.

Smoothies & Acai Bowls

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While the Whole30 strongly urges you to avoid substitutions, we all have a sweet tooth we need to appease.  Through the moments of wanting a milkshake or sorbet, I whipped out my Nutribullet at home and made this challenge drastically easier for myself.   I also found myself at Juice Generation daily (who am I kidding? I lived there before this challenge too).  As long as you know exactly what they’re putting in your smoothie, you’re in the clear.  Same goes for their acai bowls – I avoid the hemp granola garnish like the plague.  It tastes too sweet, and I don’t need it.  Acai bowls are also a lot of fun to make at home because you know what you’re putting into your smoothie, and ultimately, your body.  If I wanted to make the above recipe (which you can find here), I can be enjoying something sweet in minutes.

Avocado

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Do you love guacamole? Fabulous.  Have at it on this challenge.  Guacamole, if made correctly, is naturally gluten-free and vegan.  I personally like to use bell peppers and sweet potatoes as a substitute for chips and make my guacamole at home.  I found my recipe here on Official Whole30 Recipes Instagram.  I also added avocado to my smoothies for consistency, and pretty much topped all my meals off with it, because I have a healthy addiction to avocado.

Bareburger

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I wanted to include at least one “going-out” restaurant because making every single meal at home when you live in Manhattan is just not ideal.  The Whole30 creators understand that and have made adjustments to their rules to accommodate eating out.  My personal favorite is Bareburger.  These restaurants are scattered throughout all the boroughs of New York City and will easily accommodate your dietary restrictions.  They have many ingredients listed on their menu and pride themselves on being a very natural establishment.  My personal go-to is the turkey burger on a collard green wrap with spinach, mushrooms and guacamole.

Bottom line, when it comes to any challenge, you have to want to do it.  If you’re considering Whole30, you won’t complete it if you let your doubts or cravings drown out your desire to change your eating habits.  It’s only 30 days – it sounds like a lot, but it flies.  I know my relationship with food is very different than it was 30 days ago.  I am excited to move forward knowing how food affects my body, and furthermore, knowing that I was able to complete this challenge for myself, even when I thought I couldn’t.