Weekending: Lots of dining out {again}, girl time, date night & finally taking time to breathe

This past weekend was another whirl-wind, but it was all super fun stuff so I can’t really complain 🙂

On Friday, my upstairs neighbor, Lisa, and I went into the city for drinks and dinner at Sip Wine Bar.

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I had been once before, but not in a few years, so I was excited to go back! We had to wait a bit for seats at the bar to open up, but that was fine, we had cocktails and lots of catching up to do to pass the time.

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I love Sip because you can have a “sip” of wine, a half glass, whole glass or bottle. After my bubbly, I did a white wine sampler.

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Yummy 🙂 We shared the Ahi Tuna Tacos and the Mushroom Flatbread, both of which were delicious! Seriously, I don’t know if it was the truffle oil on the pizza or what, but I could’ve eaten the whole thing on my own.

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Thanks for such a fun night, Lisa!

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After my going to Pursuit on Saturday morning, I met up with some college friends for lunch at Margarita’s in Medford. Sheila and I were both craving Mexican, so it was the perfect place to go… my wine headache needed chips and salsa. Like, needed them. A margarita didn’t hurt, either 😉

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When I got home, I whipped up a batch of the most delicious gluten free, dairy free oatmeal chocolate coconut pecan no-bake bars!

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Saturday night was date night! We went to Eastern Standard, which is one of my favorite restaurants/bars in Boston. I got all dolled up and even wore contacts- it’s so weird when I don’t wear glasses. I feel like I don’t look like myself at all!

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We scored seats at the bar and enjoyed some cocktails before finally ordering some food. We ordered some shrimp cocktail to start, and I wound up getting the cheese burger. Say, what?! Yeah, I was just graving red meat, but not in the form of steak, so the burger was a great option- it was so good.

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Such a fun night! Sorry I missed you, Steph and Alice 😦

Sunday morning started with much needed yoga, followed by a day to myself. Between my crazy weekends and week days, I really, REALLY needed/wanted a day to myself to catch up on life. Yoga, grocery shopping, meal prep, blogging, workout prep, cleaning and laundry… may not sound that exciting, but it was perfect for me!

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And that about sums it up! This past weekend was a better balance of fun things and relaxing things- I needed that.

Questions for you: Have you been to Sip or Eastern Standard? What was something fun that you did over the weekend? Truffle oil- are you a sucker for it like I am?

Boston>Dallas>Chicago

Few! Hi everyone! How’s it going? I can’t believe that a week ago today I was packing up and heading out to Dallas. After making a detour through Chicago for a long weekend vaca, I finally made it back to Boston last night, just in time to jump into my car and head to Watertown to sub a kickboxing class. Not the brightest idea, but I wanted to help a fellow instructor out and I was itching to teach (it’s crazy how much I miss teaching when I haven’t taught in a week+.).

Let’s catch up, shall we? I am going to get to my Chicago recaps later this week, but I wanted to share some things I did and learned about while I was in Dallas. We are required to take certain classes at my company, one of those classes being a Business Writing Course. I’ve never been a terrific writer, and blog writing is veryyy different from business writing, so I was actually excited to take the course.

I got to Dallas on Tuesday night around 7 and immediately met up with a few coworkers (some taking the course and some just work in Dallas). We went to Pappadeaux and I ordered a glass of Chardonnay to quench my hunger thirst. I don’t know what it is, but as soon as I travel for work, I feel like I am on “vacation”, which means I tend to indulge in more alcoholic beverages than usual (on a normal week, I don’t drink at all Sunday-Thursday).

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For dinner, I ordered the Seafood Skewers which were delicious! It was a mixture of salmon, shrimp and scallops with an assortment of grilled veggies sandwiched between. The plate was HUGE, so I barely made a dent in the meal- always a shame when I’m traveling and can’t take leftovers home.

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Wednesday morning, I headed to the gym for a cardio and light strength workout and then went to day 1 of the training course. One of the best things I learned throughout the 2 days was how we have been taught to use big, filler words rather than using smaller, stronger words. I think some of you can agree that when typing business emails, a common sentence may be “Attached please find a word document with responses pursuant to your earlier requests. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.”, right? Well, in this course, we learned that no one likes to read emails with “filler” words that are used to try to make the piece sound fancier than it is. We want to read things that are quick, short and things that we understand. We were encouraged to re-write the sentence above with removing unnecessary words: “The answers to your questions are attached. Please let me know if you have questions.” Much easier to read, right?

I could go on and on about the course, but in attempt to not make this post ridiculously long, I’ll stop there. 😉

Wednesday night, my coworker and I grabbed Mexican at Chuy’s which is a restaurant our team went to the last time we were in Dallas. I splurged and ordered a margarita to start… It was SO worth the splurge!

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I ordered one of the “lighter” chicken dinner options since I consumed my weight in chips, salsa and queso and was no longer very hungry.

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We grabbed a glass of wine at the hotel bar before calling it a night. I was happy to have some earlier nights during this leg of my trip since I knew I would be staying out much later while in Chicago.

After the course ended for the day on Thursday, I headed to the Dallas airport. I mentioned on Instagram; that I had planned on eating healthier and not drinking, but what did I end up doing? Sitting at a Mexican bar drinking wine and eating chips/salsa. Ugh. I wasn’t so mad about it, though, because there were a few cute guys sitting next to me so chatting with them was a good way to pass the time. 😉

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I got to Chicago around 10pm and headed to the hotel where my sister was staying. I was so excited to see her and start “vacationing”. We caught up for a bit and then went to bed. I had to work a bit on Friday morning so I got up early to work out and start my day. I usually rest on Friday’s, but I knew I likely wouldn’t work out over the weekend so I wanted to get something in.

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Around noon, we headed back to the airport to take the Blue Line into the city. Our room was ready, so we checked in, dropped off our bags and quickly headed out. We stayed at the Sheraton in downtown Chicago and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for some place to stay. It was super affordable (I used points for 2 nights, but it was still affordable even without points), very clean/nice, had a great gym and was in a great location.

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I’ll catch you up on the rest of Friday night in a later post… this one is getting quite lengthy!

Questions for you: What is your favorite Mexican restaurant or meal? Do you like margaritas? If so, what kind?

Memorial Day Weekend at the Gagnon’s

Hey everyone! Who else is feeling a little bit of a let down after the long weekend? I was so happy the sun finally decided to come out yesterday, but where was it the rest of the weekend?! Thankfully, we had loads of fun inside and really didn’t notice the gross weather too much. Since my weekend in Maine was filled with so many fun things, let’s get right to recapping them!

Saturday

Danielle and I met mom in Springvale for lunch at the Springvale Publick House (clearly, we love that place). Dad dropped mom off and took Chuck home so he didn’t have to sit around in the crate for any longer than necessary. After lunch, we grabbed Dairy Queen and puttered around Ocean State Job lot and the Dollar Tree and decided to grab margarita’s at Fresco Mexican Grill. Holy Yum! I had the Pineapple Mango Sage infused margarita with dry ice- such a fun afternoon treat!

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After drinks, we came home and got going on our homemade pizza on the grill night! Dad made his homemade dough and we split it into 6 pieces so that we could have lots of mini pizzas. I made a caramalized onion, zucchini and fresh mozzarella cheese and I think it was the best out of all of them!

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We had such a fun night filled with lots of laughs, good food and wine (duh!).

Sunday

Since we were going to 11am mass, we had plenty of time to hang around and relax when we got up on Sunday. And, with rainy/gross weather, being lazy was totally ok. After church, we all went to Lowe’s and Wal-Mart to get plants and whatnot. By the time we got home, I was STARVING and couldn’t wait to dig into the left-over pizza! Late afternoon, before our BBQ, mom, Danielle and I went for a 1/2 hour walk which felt great!

Sunday night, we hosted a Memorial Day BBQ for our close family friends. There ended up being 15 adults and 2 babies! So fun!

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My mom obviously has lots of friends, but she has 2 best friends that she is always with: Jean and Jeanne, aka “The Jeans”. One cannot do something without the other two, so it is no surprise that when the Jean’s went shopping earlier in the weekend, they had to get mom a matching shirt!

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It was an extra special party because Matt and Courtney came and brought their new baby boy, Alexander! What’s really neat, is that they are letting people choose their own nickname for him: Alex, Xander, Al (although, I wouldn’t call him Al since that’s what my dad’s name is and that would be weird).

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And no Maine post is complete without a picture of one of our favorite babies… Emma Jean! She is getting SO big and is so much fun.

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Sara, as you remember, is so very pregnant at this time! She is due on Wednesday and could give at any moment. It was fun to see her with the babies and know that she will have her own so soon! Come on out, Zeke, we want to play!!

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As always, the food was delicious! Asian salad, broccoli-cauliflower salad, pasta salad, hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, steak, pork, and so many desserts!

018It was really so fun to see everyone, and even more fun that everyone was referencing Burpees to Bubbly! I love to hear people say “let’s get a pic for Burpees to Bubbly”. Music to my ears:) This pic seemed only fitting since we were most definitely drinking bubbly!

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We are so blessed to have so many wonderful friends around all the time! Never a dull moment at the Gagnon’s 😉

Memorial Day

I woke up to a bright, sunny sky and immediately decided that it would be awesome to go for a run! As I was running, I realized how quiet it was compared to the city running that I usually do. No sidewalks, no cars, no people, just my music, the pavement and a sunny sky. I really focused on being present and enjoying the moment, something I should probably do more often!

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I made my run more fun by adding in strength exercises after every mile- I’ll post it later this week!

Here are some pictures of “Shapleigh Corner”… I am from a very small town and this is the “center” of town. A whopping blinking light!

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028Yup, you’d call this Maine, small town living!

The rest of the day was filled with LOTS of planting and gardening with dad and visiting with our cousin, Karen, who is visiting from Michigan. Always nice to visit with family!

And now we are back to the grind! This week got a little busier when I agreed to sub back-to-back classes tonight (Kickboxing followed by SHRED at the South Station BSC).

Questions for you: Best part of your weekend? Did you have or go to a BBQ for Memorial Day? Are you from a big city or small town?

SOWA Open Market & Cinco de Mayo

Hi! How are you doing today? Have you ever been to the SOWA Open Market? I had never been until Sunday, but I can tell you that it won’t be my last time, that’s for darn sure!
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Someone sent me an invite on Facebook earlier in the week and ever since then, I had been looking forward to checking it out.  It was a perfect weekend to do it, too, since I stayed in and didn’t have any big plans the whole weekend. Danielle and I got up on Sunday, had breakfast, I blogged while she watched a movie, and then we cleaned the house. By this time, it was 11am and we decided that since it had warmed up, it was a great time to head to the SOWA Open Market. Note to self: next time, do NOT drive. After driving around for a little bit, I did end up finding awesome parking, but it was a bit of a hectic mess prior to that! Well worth it once we arrive in the parking lot full of Food Trucks. Oh my goodness. I was in absolute foodie heaven! So many trucks. So many things to choose from!

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We decided to do a big lap and look at the menu’s at all of the different trucks, cancelling out all Mexican (we had a Mexican meal planned for dinner) and things we could cook or order regularly (burgers, grilled cheese, chicken sandwiches). We wanted a savory crepe, but they were all out of the one we wanted:( Option #2: Greek/Mediterranean food! This whole thing was only $6! What a steal.

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Danielle got us truffle fries to share, too… they were to die for. It was kind of funny eating lunch sitting on the pavement in a big parking lot, but it’s what you do when you’re at the SOWA market, I guess!

After lunch, we walked around the non-food part of the open market, checking out all the different vendors and letting our food digest a bit. All while knowing that we were going BACK to another crepe truck to get a Nutella Crepe. Back when I was studying abroad, I went to Paris and couldn’t get over how amazing Nutella Crepe’s were. Sunday’s crepe was nothing like that, but it was still pretty freaking delicious! Overall, it was such a fun way to spend a beautiful, Sunday afternoon. I foresee many more Sunday afternoons spent in the South End!

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Cinco de Mayo

After walking and eating our way around the SOWA market, we came home and got dinner together. I say “we,” but really it was all Danielle tonight! She found a crock pot Mexican recipe from Iowa Girl Eats that she wanted to make, and she ended up combining it with a recipe from Rachel to create quite the tasty little meal!

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While she got everything together, I made us Skinny Margarita’s.  Well, I tried to make us skinny margs. I found a recipe from Cookie and Kate and had all of the ingredients except for Agave Nectar. In baking recipes, I’ve always seen that you can sub Agave for honey or maple syrup, but let me tell you this now: do NOT sub out Agave for honey in this drink recipe. You will regret it. Needless to say, I had to add lots of sugar and other stuff to try to kill the sourness from the limes; it wasn’t pretty. I only got halfway through mine before I had to switch to a Sam Summer. Oh well, better luck next time!

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Dinner, on the other hand, was delicious! I ended up eating mine in a bowl and used some chips to scoop it up. I could’ve put it in a tortilla, but I am a sucker for chips, so I decided to skip out on the tortilla and use chips instead. Plus, Danielle also made guacamole and I was absolutely eating that with chips!

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Mmm… homemade, fresh guac- holy yum!

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In the end, this crock pot dish almost came out like a chili, but that was certainly not a bad thing. This was full of flavor and texture and totally hit the spot for a Mexican, Cinco de Mayo meal.

Questions for you: Have you ever been to the SOWA Open Market? Do you have a favorite food truck? Do you make your own margarita’s or buy the mix? Favorite Mexican dish?