Scenes from the Weekend

Good morning and Happy Monday 🙂 Did you guys have a good weekend? I sure did! It kind of started on Thursday night when I hosted book club, continued on to Friday night when RM and I tried a new place in East Boston and then to Saturday/Sunday when my sister and I tried out a class at the new Handlebar Indoor Cycling Studio in Harvard Square and then headed up to Vermont for a quick one night getaway with our parents. I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking- enjoy!

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Great book! We all highly suggest it. Rose was delicious too 😉

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I grilled pizzas- they were fantastic!

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Love my SMC girls.

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We found a new place on Maverick Street in East Boston- it’s a market/café called Maverick Market and it has a small menu and beer and wine. We had some ginger BBQ chicken sliders and a spicy shrimp and veggie stir fry. We were so impressed with everything!

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Because sweaty/post spin pictures are always necessary…

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Family Road Trip: Recap {Day 2 & the Wedding}

In case you missed the first recap of the road trip, check it out here.

Day 2 started out pretty early for me, considering I was on vacation! Since I had rested on Thursday, and knew I would be in the car for another long period of time on Friday, I wanted to get up and sweat a little (ok, a lot. The gym was horribly small and hot!). A 5K was just what the doctor ordered!

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We had a  quick breakfast then got on the road. We ended up driving through Canada for most of the trip on Friday, which was kind of nice because I was not able to go on my phone to text, Facebook, Instagram or Tweet. I’m guilty of being on my phone wayyyy too much (something I am trying to change), so being forced to not be on my phone for a number of hours was great!

We picked my sister up at the Detroit airport in the afternoon as she was flying in from a client site. The conversations during the car ride from the airport to the hotel were so funny. Sometimes it seems as though we are all 4 having completely different conversations, always talking louder and louder to try and be the loudest. It’s quite comical.

My aunt and uncle (mom and dad of the bride) had a wonderful cocktail hour set up in their hotel room for everyone. Between my dad’s snacks/food for me and this cocktail hour, I couldn’t have been more spoiled with “Monique-like” treats. Seriously… look at this spread!

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Since this part of my mom’s side of the family lives in Michigan, we don’t get to see them as often as we would like, so it’s always nice when we have an event or celebration that brings us all together!

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I was so happy that I could snuggle the newest baby, my cousin Emily’s 3 week old little girl, Grace. Gosh she was SO CUTE!!!

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We all hung out and chatted, laughed, drank wine and ate food and by 10pm, I was ready to hit the sack, so Danielle and I headed to our room.

We both woke up totally refreshed on Saturday morning. After breakfast and blogging, I hit the gym for a little cardio and strength training workout. Most of the family did their own variation of a workout (walking, swimming, etc.). Before we knew it, it was time to start getting ready!
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My face is smirking because Danielle was snipping at me to not take a picture! ha!

As this was Mary’s second wedding, it was very non-traditional in a lot of ways, which I thought was really nice. Everything about the wedding ceremony was absolutely touching and emotional. There was so much love between Mary and Dave and I doubt there was a dry eye in the church when they exchanged their vows. It’s hard to explain, but I haven’t seen that kind of love between two people in a long time- it’s very rare and they are so lucky they found each other. What made the ceremony even more special was how much they involved their children (who seem to get along great and are absolutely adorable!). Mary and Dave had little locket necklaces for all of the kids, which was a great way to make them all feel special on their parents big day. Here are some photos that I took during the ceremony. Pardon the lighting; iPhone’s don’t take the best pictures inside.

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After the ceremony, we had a few hours to kill before the reception, so naturally we had cocktail hour 😉 Mom got me this super cool “wine to go” thing. We thought you could refill and reseal the cup to use again, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Regardless, it was a fun idea!
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Not long after our cocktail hour started, it was time to grab the shuttle to the reception.

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I was absolutely in love with the décor and theme that Mary chose (and, put together in just 3 short months, mind you. Quite impressive if you ask me!). It was almost like a modern country look and feel… right down to the sparkly cowgirl boots she wore under here dress 😉 She explained that she gathered all of the wheat from a local field and had a friend cut down the wood for the centerpieces. Gosh, I wish I was creative enough for DIY projects!

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The food was delicious, but I have to say that the chocolate fondue station stole my heart. Holy.Yum. Amazing idea!

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Once dinner was over, the dancing began. My family loves to dance, so it makes for a fun reception!

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Few! How’s that for a long recap? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I am so blessed to have such a wonderful family and to have the opportunity to get to visit and spend time with those who don’t live so close. Thank you to my parents for letting me tag along on their road trip, thank you to Aunt Sue and Uncle Gerald for hosting us and making us feel at home and thank you to Mary and Dave for including us on your special day!

And, one last thing before I end this incredibly long post… Mary made her little veil/hat thingy (ok, I don’t know what it’s called) and after I raved about how much I loved it, she gave it to me! Heads up to my friends: I’m going to have a hat party soon 🙂

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Questions for you: How many weddings did you attend this year? Did you have to travel? If you had to pick a non-traditional thing to wear to your wedding, what would it be?

Family Road Trip: Recap {Day 1- Boston to Buffalo}

Hi, friends! Phew, does anyone else feel like after a long, indulgent weekend, it’s harder to get up and get going on Tuesday than it is on Monday? My 1/2 mile walk to the T in crisp, morning air definitely helps to wake me up, though 🙂

As most of you know, last week/weekend I went on a mini road trip with my parents to Michigan for my cousin, Mary’s, wedding. I took Thursday and Friday off from work since we planned to do the trip in 2 days (so happy we did- 16 hours in the car in one day would have literally caused me to go even more crazy than I already am!).  Mom and dad picked me up around 8:30 on Thursday and we wasted no time hitting the road!

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I drove the first and last legs of the trip, dad drove in the middle and mom didn’t drive. No shocker there! The trip actually went incredibly smooth, except I quickly realized that I forgot my freshly charged iPad at my apartment. I was so mad because I had just downloaded Gone Girl the night before. Womp, womp.

Traveling with my parents is great because we take lots of bathroom stops and there is never a shortage of treats 😉

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Day 1 went incredibly well and fast! We stopped for a picnic lunch around 1 and made it to the hotel around 4:30. I had been waiting for lunch ever since my dad told me all the things he bought. I was absolutely blown away with how thoughtful his food shopping was! Seriously, when he saw the snacks that I packed for myself, he said I didn’t need any of them because he had already gotten them all… and more! Trail mix, granola bars (4 different boxes), crackers, deli meat, chopped veggies, dips, sandwich thins and every type of fruit you could imagine. What an amazing dad, right?!

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In typical Monique fashion, I think I had a bit of everything 😉 The weather was gorgeous, wine tasted delicious and it was a great little break from driving!

The second big leg of the trip wasn’t bad at all, and before we knew it, we were at the hotel! Since my sister travels so much, she has lots of points at various hotel chains. She set us up at an awesome Residence Inn in Buffalo, NY. I asked if there were any upgrades available and lucky for us, they did! This place was seriously like an apartment (what I would do to live in an apartment like this hotel suite!).

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Downstairs there was a mini kitchen, living room (with a real fire place), dining room area, bathroom and a Murphy Bed (which was surprisingly SO comfortable). Upstairs was a loft-ish bedroom and another bathroom, so this was a perfect suite to share with my parents since we had entirely separate sleeping areas.

Not long after we arrived, mom gave me my “special” bottle of wine (Estancia Chardonnay- right up there with J. Lohr for me!) and we headed out to the pool to relax and soak up the last of the sun for the day.

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As I mentioned yesterday, I instructed my mom through a water aerobics workout which was a blast!

Once the sun went down, it started to get a little chilly so we meandered over to the hotel’s complimentary cocktail hour.

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Boy do we have fun together! After the happy hour ended, we decided to order in since no one felt like getting back in the car. We went with Greek, but unfortunately, it took forever for the food to get there and by the time it eventually got to us, it wasn’t very warm or fresh. Womp, womp. Overall, though, it was a solid first day and we had lots of laughs and good conversations.

Since this post is already quite lengthy, I’ll share the rest of the trip in another post.

Questions for you: What’s the longest road trip you’ve ever been on? Nicest hotel you’ve ever stayed at? For us, it is Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City- Ahhhh mazing hotel!

Road Trippin’… With my parents…

Yes, you read that correctly. Next week, I’ll be embarking on a very long car ride with Sue and Al. My cousin Mary is getting married and she lives in Michigan (as does her whole family. Her dad is my mom’s brother… in case you wanted the whole story!) and when my sister and I decided that we wanted to go, too, I started looking into flights. Mom and dad were planning on driving all long because they love adventures like that, but since I’m not retired and don’t have as much time as they do to have extended vacations, I figured I’d just fly and meet them on Friday.

Well, roundtrip flights were outrageous, so when I started to hint to my dad about potentially hitching a ride with them to Michigan and taking a one-way flight home, he couldn’t have been more excited. To quote him, the convo went like this “Nickie, you have NO IDEA how much I would love for you to do the trip to Michigan with us. Really, it would mean the world to me. We’ll have a nice picnic lunch and if you just chip in for gas we’ll be in good shape.” So, I mean, how could I not agree to that?!

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So, mom and dad are picking me up next Thursday morning at 8am sharp and we’ll drive until our picnic lunch (which, when you’re with the Gagnon’s, is always an event with lots of snacks and fun things to eat… and plenty of wine!) and then keep driving until we get to the Buffalo, NY area (I think). We are spending the night there and then getting back on the road early Friday morning to make the final trek to Sterling Heights, MI, making a pit-stop first at the Detroit airport to pick up my sister (she’s flying from a client site).

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In all honesty, I’m really excited about the trip- even the ridiculously long drive! I always have such a great time with my family and I love weddings because there is so much love and so much dancing!! 🙂

But, here’s where I need your help… I’m bringing my iPad and am in need of a good book or two to download. In addition, I’d love to download a movie to watch. So…

  1. What’s the best book you’ve read lately? I need help picking one!
  2. Can you rent movies from iTunes? Or do I have to buy them? What movie should I buy/rent?

I could really use your help, so please leave your suggestions in the comments 🙂

also, don’t worry- I’ve already decided that if I get bored, I can raid the cooler and snag some vino to keep things interesting… or put me to sleep 😉 jk… kind of…

Hot in the City. Literally.

Hey everyone! How are you?? I am back from a wonderful little getaway at a work conference in Stowe, VT from Tuesday-Friday. The conference was held during a great week; being in VT and in a hotel during this crazy heat spell was amazing! Even if the temp was as high there as it is back in Boston (which, it wasn’t), there’s something about being surrounded by beautiful mountains that makes tolerating the heat a little more bearable. I’ll get to a full recap of my trip next week, but for now I just wanted to pop in, say hello and make sure that you checked out the two awesome guest blog posts from a couple of my friends:

Guest Post: It’s Not About Having Time, It’s About Making Time

Guest Post: Summer Favorites from The Truth About Vinyl and Bikini Tops

Big, big thanks to Athena and Rachel for helping me keep you all entertained while I was away!

Anyway! On Monday I had a long day at work trying to get everything ready for my week away. Doesn’t it always seem like work gets so much busier when you’re about to be out of the office for any amount of time?? By the time I left work, I knew I was in need of a solid workout. I knew I would workout while in VT, but I wasn’t sure how long or strong or intense they would be, so I wanted to make sure I got in at least one good workout during the week! And good workout it was! I hopped on the elliptical to warm up and then I created a circuit that I did 4 times through:

  • 500M row
  • 60 seconds ropes (If you’re not familiar, check out this video. killer!)
  • 60 seconds kettlebell swings
  • 1-legged push-ups up and down the ladder (a ladder is painted on the turf)
  • 60 seconds plank pikes with feet in TRX straps

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I did a few more ab exercises and a few shoulder exercises before calling it a day. I was SPENT! My knees were irritated from the turf, my hands were getting calluses. I call that a good day at the gym 😉

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Post gym, I came home, watered my garden really well and then made myself the easiest dinner alive:

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English Muffin Pizza’s. Doesn’t get much better than that, right?! Brings me back to my childhood big time!

I got up early Tuesday to A. work out and B. try to beat the heat for my workout. I was feeling pretty sore from my Sunday and Monday workouts, so I ended up doing a jump rope and ab circuit which was perfect!

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After my workout, I showered and worked from home until it was time to pick my coworker, Tim, up at the airport. To ensure that we had healthy snacks for the road, I went shopping over the weekend and stocked up.

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I also brought a few peaches and a yogurt. I don’t have a huge appetite in one sitting, but I sure do love to snack! It helps keep me from being “hangry”, which, if anyone has seen the “hangry Monique”, I think you can agree she’s someone we all would like to avoid 😉 These snacks kept both of us totally satisfied and the 3 hour and 20 minute trip almost flew by! I went to Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, VT, so the ride up 89 (both through New Hampshire and Vermont) is one I could likely do with my eyes closed. Tim had never been in that area (he lives in Florida, originally from NY), so he was totally in awe of all the mountains and trees and beautiful scenery.

Driving past the Ben and Jerry’s Factory, Cabot Cheese store and Pie In The Sky totally brought me back to my college years when my girlfriends and I would make the short-ish trip down to Stowe to (basically) eat our way through it. Ah, the good ol’ days! Anyway, it was fun reminiscing. #ilovermont 🙂

Well, that about does it for me today! I am teaching my 10am kickboxing class at the Oak Square YMCA and then babysitting for Trent and Lila again from 1-??? Pending on how I feel after that, I am going to try to make it to a BBQ at Rachel and Dan’s apartment. I hope you all have a great Saturday!!

Questions for you: Have you ever been to VT? What is your favorite New England state? What’s your favorite “healthy” road trip snack that you always make sure to pack?