Five on Friday {3.27.16}

Good morning! TGIF, right?! I’ve felt like this week has DRAGGED on, which I can only attribute to teaching late on Tuesday, which isn’t something I tend to do. Oh, and just feeling really off this week. I feel like I’ve been fighting something for a few weeks now, and finally this week I took a day to just rest… which brings me to my first Five on Friday topic…

  • Taking time to rest- If you know me, you know I’m not good at resting. Whether it’s resting from the gym or resting from work or anything else, I’m not good at it. I have one speed: fast- I’m always going-going-going, and while I can sustain that for a while, there always comes a time where I’ve just had enough. All the signs were there, too: I wasn’t recover as quickly from my workouts, I felt achy, irritable, tired, yet not able to sleep well, diet was off, throat started to hurt. Basically, my body is telling me to SLOW THE EFFFF DOWN! So, yesterday I took a day for me. I felt so crappy as Wednesday wore on and pushed it too much in the class I taught so by the time I got home I was pretty miserable. I NEVER call in sick, but I did that yesterday morning and ended up sleeping soundly until after 9am, which also NEVER happens. I spent the day resting, hydrating, reading and blogging and it was glorious. Being go-go-go isn’t a bad thing, but it’s also so important to pump the breaks every once and a while and just do nothing. I needed that!


  • Lent– For my fellow Catholics out there, today is Good Friday, meaning Lent is coming to an end. In years past I would give something up, but over the past few years I’ve started adding something instead. I added 10 minutes of meditation a few years ago and last year I did a daily gratitude journal, which was a nice way to appreciate all of the positive things in my life. This year, I planned to do the same but lost steam about halfway through. For a second I felt like I failed, but then I remembered that it isn’t about passing or failing. It was just something that wasn’t working for me right now- and that’s ok! I have been good about not eating meat on Fridays, so I’ll focus on that instead 😉
  • New glasses- I finally got a pair of glasses that I really like! I ordered a pair originally that I thought I liked, but when I got them home, I decided they were just not what I wanted. Luckily LensCrafters has a 30 day satisfaction guarantee so I went back and got these bad boys. While they are similar to my Ray Bans in the fact that they are plastic, they have a different shape and color so it makes them still seem new and fun.


  • Wedding registry gifts– My bridal shower invites went out last week and it’s been so fun checking our registry to see things get checked off the list! AND, we received our first gift the other morning, which was a super fun surprise. Thanks to my SMC girls, we now have a wine fridge and I’m SO excited about it!
  • Meal Delivery Services- I mentioned earlier this week how I am a brand ambassador for Just Add Cooking and although I plan on recapping everything for you next week, I have to share with you now that I am SO impressed with the company and the meals we’ve received and cooked so far. It has made cooking and dinner FUN by spicing up our normal meals. Stay tuned for some discounts I’m sharing next week.


And that does it for me! I’m hoping that by the time I wake up today I feel much better and more like myself. As for weekend plans, I’m teaching tomorrow morning and then we are heading to my sister’s apartment for an early Easter celebration with my family. We will head to RM’s mother’s house for Easter dinner with them on Sunday.

What are you guys up to this weekend? Are you celebrating Easter? Do you give anything up for Lent? How has your week been? Do you ever just take time to rest or take a mental health day?

Quick & Easy Spaghetti w/Clams

Good morning! If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw me post a sneak peek of this recipe over the weekend. I wanted to share it with you today because it’s SUPER easy and it’s a great Friday night recipe during Lent. RM said he used to make this dish a lot but for one reason or another, hadn’t made it in forever. I’m so glad he did because it was such a treat to eat a dish that is quite different from our “normal” dishes.

We wanted to use the Jovial brand of pasta, but since RM said he couldn’t find it he went with regular old Barilla Gluten Free. You really couldn’t tell it was gluten free! Other than that, you just need some canned clams, EVOO, white wine & lots of garlic and hot pepper flakes.

Spaghetti w.Clams 1


  • Spaghetti/pasta of choice
  • 1 can of chopped clams (we used Bumble Bee), drained, but save the juice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Plenty of EVOO (we used our olive oil that we infused with dried hot peppers)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup white wine
  • Plenty of red hot pepper flakes (if you like it spicy! less if you don’t)
  • salt & pepper to taste



  1. Boil water for your pasta/spaghetti and eat a pan with EVOO (again, we used red hot pepper infused olive oil that we make and always have on hand). Once the pan is hot, add in your chopped garlic.

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Weekending: The Gagnons Do Boston

Good morning! How was your weekend? Mine, per usual, went way too quickly. I still have San Francisco to recap for you, but for now, let’s do a little weekend recap!

Friday night, RM and I headed into the city to have a sushi dinner at Douzo. It feels like it’s been ages since we had a Friday night date night, and since we aren’t eating meat on Fridays (Lent), it was a great excuse to get out and do a sushi date night. Per usual, the food was fantastic. We shared a few rolls and sashimi pieces and had their spicy garlic coated edamame which is absolutely delicious! Paired with a few glasses of rose and good conversation, it made for a great night!

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Oh, and tempura bananas and ice cream to finish the night? Perfection.


Saturday morning started with my cardio kickboxing class which is always my favorite way to start the day! But what I was really excited about on Saturday was the fact that my parents were coming down for the night. My sister used her points and got them a night at the Renaissance, so she, her boyfriend, RM and I headed in around 6 to meet for a pre-dinner drink and then dinner at 75 on Liberty Wharf. Have you ever been there? It’s right on the water next to Jerry Remy’s and it’s a cute, tiny little restaurant with delicious food! We all loved our meals- everything from the steak tip salad to salmon to seafood stew to a burger and my Jambalaya, was just awesome.



Post dinner, we headed over to Whiskey Priest because mom wanted to go dancing. I hadn’t been there in years, and it didn’t take long for me to realize why: it’s such a young crowd!! But, they had a great live band and we had so much fun dancing and meeting people. Guess that’s what happens when you bring your cute little mom to the bar 😉

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“I’m a guy magnet!”- Sue Gags herself. We did not know these guys, but she had guys and girls dancing with her all night!


Even though I stayed out way later than I anticipated and drank more than I would’ve liked, it was seriously such a fun night. I’m so lucky to have parents who love coming to the city and going out and having fun.

Sunday morning had a very lazy start, which was perfect. And these healthy pancakes? The best RM has ever made!


All in all, such a fun weekend! I was so sad last night when I knew it was coming to an end.

Questions for you: How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun? Where do you go dancing? Have you ever been to 75 on Liberty Wharf?


My 40 days of meditation {in review}

As you may remember, for Lent this year I decided to focus on ADDING something, rather than taking something away. I just felt like there was more meaning behind adding something beneficial to my life than there was restricting myself from sweets, chips, peanut butter, etc.

Since there were so many of you who commented and said you were interested in trying it with me, I wanted to check in and give you my thoughts now that the 40 days are over.

The verdict? Overall, I really liked it! But,was I good at it? Not really. Was it easy? Definitely not. Did I do it every day? Nope-I have to admit that I missed days here and there and didn’t always want to take time to sit and do it, but that’s ok. I didn’t want it to become another task; I wanted to WANT to do it because I felt the benefits. Therefore, if I wasn’t feeling it, I didn’t do it.

And that is OK. I’m proud of myself for realizing that!

just breathe

I have to say, though, “meditating” for just 10 minutes a day for a month + (give or take a few days… well, actually just take a few days) was much harder than I anticipated. There were some nights where I just couldn’t shut my mind off! It was so frustrating, but rather than getting upset over it, I just let my thoughts come in and tried to let them go right back out (I have to thank my date here- he’s actually the one who turned me onto meditating and when I voiced my frustrations to him about my racing mind, he told me to acknowledge them, let them come in and then let them out. It helped). This wasn’t always successful, but I tried! Some nights I used the 10 minutes to just think, because clearly I had a lot of thoughts that were racing through my mind. Yet other nights I was able to sit there, peacefully, and just breathe innnn and outtttt with big belly breaths.


Will I continue this now that Lent is over? I’d like to say I will do it a few times a week, but if I’m being totally honest, I don’t know if I actually will. It’s not that I didn’t like it, but it was another added thing to my day. Granted, I should put down my computer/iPad/phone earlier or shut off my TV earlier or get up 10 minutes earlier to get in the 10 minutes of quiet, still, ME time. But sometimes we aren’t always as good at doing things we know we should do, right? Sometimes it’s easier to talk about the things we could/should/would do rather than actually taking the time to DO them. In the end, doing more and talking less is something I could really benefit from… anyone else?

I hope all of you were successful with Lent this year- I want to know how it went! Were you able to last all 40 days? Did you cheat at all? Have you decided to adopt the change you made for longer than the Lenton period? Any advice to help me do more and talk less?

For the next 40 days…

Well, at this point, it’s the next 31 days, but who’s counting?! Anyway, as a Catholic (not as much of a practicing Catholic as I should be…), we “give something up” during the Lenton season, which lasts 40 days. Over the years, I’ve given up gum, ice cream, chips, French fries and soda, to name a few.

lent- no junk


This past year, though, when I thought about what I wanted to “give up”, I was stumped. I thought about a lot of different things, but wasn’t really sold on anything; I just couldn’t find something that I thought I should give up (well, besides texting while driving, which should be an every day thing, not just a Lenton thing). Instead, I decided to add something. Something that I knew wouldn’t be easy, but that I knew would be beneficial to me.

What is that, you ask? Meditation.



Say, what?! The girl who doesn’t ever stop, is always adding more on her plate and complains about those two things all the time probably too often is adding meditation to her schedule?

Yup. It’s true. I’ve decided to take 10 minutes of my day to just be still. No tv, no music, no iPad, no computer/blogging, no Facebook/Twitter/Instagram. Just me, being still and focusing on my breath. Inhaling and exhaling for 10. whole. minutes. You may not think that would be that hard, but for me, it’s been incredibly hard! As soon as I shut my eyes, my mind starts racing sounds a little something like this:

“Shoot. I forgot to do respond to that email.”

“What am I going to teach in kickboxing tomorrow? I like that burpee-kick move I’ve been doing.”

“Should I work from home tomorrow?”

“What should I wear to the gym tomorrow? New blue pants?”

“What time do I have to get up?”

“Monique. You’re just supposed to be breathing here, not thinking. Breathe in, breathe out. There you go. I should have a snack before bed….”

As you can see, it has been a real challenge for me to turn OFF my thoughts and to focus on my breath. But, at the end of the day, I think this is really good for me. It’s time every day when I can just sit, without any distractions. And, you know what? It’s getting easier! My thoughts have slowed down and I really look forward to those 10 minutes of my day. I’ve also been sleeping better since I started doing this, and I have to attribute it to the fact that I’m giving myself time to decompress before I go to bed. Normally, I am blogging or catching up on social media right until the time I go to bed, which means when I get in bed, I spend a good chunk of time trying to unwind from the day and slow my thoughts before I’m able to actually fall asleep.

Since I’ve seen some positive changes and I’m only a week in, I’m interested to see how the next 31 days will go with this challenge. If you’re like me and could agree with anything I said in this post, I urge you to try it- turn off all electronics, set your timer and close your eyes for 10 minutes. I’d love to know what you think and how it makes you feel!

Questions for you: What did you give up for Lent, if you’re Catholic? Have you ever meditated? Do you do anything before bed to help you relax?

I hope you all have a great St. Patty’s Day weekend! If you’re looking for tips on how to stay in control and to make good decisions, check out the post I wrote last year: Tips to Stay [Relatively] Healthy on St. Patrick’s Day… there are some good tips to keep in mind 🙂