Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Weekend Recap: Westville and Workouts

I kicked off this gorgeous weekend by exploring Central Park Friday afternoon. It was the most perfect fall day. Seriously, this view...

 
While I had planned for Friday evening to be a takeout and movie in bed kind of night, around 11pm it turned into a night out on the town. I ended up jamming to 80's music, playing dominating at Jenga, and eating guac at E's Bar on the Upper West Side. I miss hanging out at dive bars. Note to self: do this more often.

 
On Saturday, I met up with some blogger friends at Westville Chelsea for some delicious food and girl talk. Check out their websites below:

Danielle, Liz, Meredith & I
 

 
I've been to Westville previously for brunch, and dinner was just as delicious! I ordered teriyaki salmon, Brussels sprouts, and the best butternut squash I have ever tasted! I'm still thinking about that squash days later! 


On Sunday evening, I met up with friends for a little sweat sesh at RIPPED Fitness in Rye Brook, New York. The RIPPED method is a HIIT workout that combines cardio on treadmills with strength and toning exercises on the floor. My friend/instructor/girl crush, Jacquie, kicked our butts and pumped us up for the upcoming week. I mean, how can you not be motivated when your instructor looks like this?!:

Isn't life just so unfair sometimes?
Photo from here.

She naturally epitomizes my signature sign off of "stay fit and fabulous", no?
 
I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and are excited for the opportunities this new week brings.
 
Stay fit and fabulous,
 
A
 
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Monday, September 15, 2014

#ManCrushMonday - Leading Lads

Photo from here.

Their handsome looks make us weak in the knees. They capture our hearts with their declarations of adoration. We are jealous of the girls they so deeply love and pine after. No real guy we meet in life will ever be able to compare.

These are the leading lads from our favorite chick flicks. The guys that set our impossible dating standards high. The ones that, although we know they are just a pretty boy actor delivering heart-melting lines dreamed up by a room full of caffeine addicted screenwriters, we cannot get enough of.

Today, I've ranked my top five favorite fictional characters. I'd love to know which silver screen studs have captured your heart. Let me know in the comments below! Here we go...
 
Photo from here.
 
Leading Lad: Tyler - Remember Me
Title: The Rebellious One
About: Tormented by his brother's suicide and his father's indifferent style of parenting, Tyler has #99problems which brings out his rebellious side. He's a good rebel though - like breaking windows to stand up for his bullied little sister or getting in a fist fight to protect someone else.
Best Quote: "Gandhi said that whatever you do in life will be insignificant, but it's very important that you do it because nobody else will. Like when someone comes into your life and half of you says: 'You're nowhere near ready'. And the other half says: 'Make her yours forever'."



 
Leading Lad: Jack Dawson - Titanic
Title: The Artsy One
About: Oh, Jack. He's had our hearts for almost two decades. (How old do you feel right now?) He is adventurous, selfless, artistic, caring, smart, and a great poker player. What's not to love?
Best Quote: "Rose, you're no picnic, all right? You're a spoiled little brat, even, but under that, you're the most amazingly, astounding, wonderful girl - woman - that I've ever known...You're ama- I'm not an idiot, I know how the world works. I've got ten bucks in my pocket, I have nothing to offer you and I know that. I understand. But I'm too involved now. You jump, I jump remember? I can't turn away without knowing you'll be all right... That's all that I want."
 
Photo from here.

Leading Lad: Noah Calhoun - The Notebook
Title: The Persistent One
About: Noah was the Jack Dawson of the 2000's. (I could write a whole other post about my theory on how The Notebook and Titanic are basically the same movie, but I digress...) He reads poetry, dances, writes love letters, and builds entire houses with his bare hands. Plus, he can rock one sexy beard! Am I right, ladies?
Best Quote: "So it's not gonna be easy. It's gonna be really hard. We're gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, you and me, every day. Will you do something for me, please? Just picture your life for me? 30 years from now, 40 years from now? What's it look like? If it's with him, go. Go! I lost you once, I think I can do it again. If I thought that's what you really wanted. But don't you take the easy way out."

Photo from here.
Leading Lad: Christian Grey - 50 Shades of Grey
Title: The Complicated One
About: Christian's troubled childhood has left him with a fear of loving and being loved in return, but all of this changes after he meets Anastasia. He's ambitious, philanthropic, passionate, and romantic. He is always stylish whether he is rocking old, worn jeans or a tailored suit. Last but not least, he's one thoughtful gift giver. He gives Anastasia a bracelet with charms of all their relationship's milestones and a personalized iPad including their first photo as the background, all his favorite music, and an endless library of books because she loves to read. (Now gift giving seems like a superficial item to add to this list, but I once got a box of Kraft Easy Mac as part of a Valentine's Day/Birthday gift, so let's step it up to Christian Grey's level here, guys. Even if you miss, you'll still land in an appropriate area on the gift giving spectrum.)
Best Quote: "You wanted hearts and flowers...You have my heart and here are the flowers." (after brining Anastasia to a room filled with flowers once he got over his fear of commitment and romance)

Photo from here.
Leading Lad: Augustus Waters - The Fault in Our Stars
Title: The One
About: I don't even know what to say about Augustus. You really just need to rent this movie immediately once it is released on DVD tomorrow to experience this guy for yourself. He is tenacious, witty, creative, and an all-around great friend. Whether it's the relationship he has with his family, his best friend, or his girlfriend, you just want to be someone in his life because he is that warm-hearted and charismatic. I'm presenting him with the title of "The Noah Calhoun of This Decade" Award. It will be hard for a future fictional character to top him. 
Best Quote: See, the thing is...we all wanna be remembered. But Hazel's different. Hazel knows the truth. She didn't want a million admirers, she just wanted one. And she got it. Maybe she wasn't loved widely, but she was loved deeply. And isn't that more than most of us get?...She's so beautiful. You don't get tired of looking at her. You never worry if she's smarter than you, 'cause you know she is. She's funny without ever being mean. I love her. God, I love her, I'm so lucky to love her, Van Houten. You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world, but you do have a say in who hurts you. And I like my choices. I hope she likes hers. Okay, Hazel Grace?"
 
Annnd, back to reality...
 
 
Stay fit and fabulous (and continue to day dream about your fake movie boyfriends!),
 
A
 
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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I'm On A (Baby) Boat!


Two things I love about living in Manhattan are the gorgeous skyline views and the abundance of unique workouts available. On Saturday, I decided to take advantage of both and try kayaking along the Hudson River. I dragged Angela @ Runner in Denial along for this adventure because I knew it was one of her summer bucket list items, and I'm all about checking things off the ol' bucket list

Angela and I have come to the conclusion that anytime we are going to partake in a water activity, particularly those involving boats, the sky will immediately fill with dark, stormy rain clouds. We've accepted this. Saturday was no different. As we met up, rain drops were slowly starting to fall, but we had not received cancellation e-mails yet so we continued on to Manhattan Kayak Company at Pier 84 off West 44th Street.

Each group is small (six people or less), and is lead by a guide. Our fearless leader, Fiona, was amazing. She taught us the perfect form and made sure we had enough practice before we left our safe, little harbor. Once we were ready, we made our way out toward the middle of the Hudson. The river was full of cruise ships, sail boats, booze cruises, and more. Plus, the current was extremely strong. During one moment, I thought the Manhattan Kayak Company was going to have to send a rescue boat for us, but eventually our little arms paddled hard enough to get us back into calmer waters.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to capture any photos of the city while out in the middle of the Hudson due to my fear of being swept out to sea if I stopped paddling. Though the skyline views aren't the same, I was able to snap a few while kayaking next to the Intrepid.
 
 
 
 
I'm attending a blogger dinner this weekend with friends, so you'll be seeing more of Angela on the blog soon. Other than that, I don't have any weekend plans. After passing two bowling alleys last weekend, I kind of want to get my bowl on though. Who's with me?! Let me know what you have planned for the weekend in the comments below!
 
Stay fit and fabulous,
 
A
 
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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Update: 27 Things To Do Before 28

 
Happy September! I cannot believe the year is flying by so quickly. Unfortunately, this means I only have five and a half months to finish the 27 tasks on my birthday bucket list! It's coming along slowly, so I hope I can finish. Here's an update:
 
Take a Bikram Yoga class.  I've also tried aerial yoga and an amazing yet awkward Mother/Daughter yoga class sans my mom on Mother's Day.
Travel somewhere new. I visited my sister in Jacksonville, NC a couple weekends ago. It was nice to get away for a bit.
 Go to a concert. I took my mom to the OneRepublic concert (also featuring The Script) at Jones Beach when she was in town in June. The venue was absolutely breathtaking and all the bands put on a spectacular show.
Get a library card. This was my first order of business upon moving into the city.
Find the perfect apartment. Heaven is currently located on the UWS.
Read a new book series. Divergent. Read it. Watch it. Obsess over the soundtrack.
Watch a complete series of a new show. I'm almost finished with Dawson's Creek. I can't get over the 90's fashion and music!
Fall in love. Does falling in love with this beautiful city count?

I'm in the process of working on the rest...
 
Host a dinner party.
Volunteer.
Go camping.
Take French lessons.
Visit the Hamptons.
Back up my computer and phone.
Save goal amount of money. Moving into the city sort of messed with this goal.
Finish the unfinished. You know that to-do list that continues to grow no matter how many things you cross off of it?
Find the best bagel in New York City.
Publish one of my creative writing pieces on my blog.
Take care of my body. Eating healthy is still my kryptonite...
Stay up-to-date on current affairs. I'm working on it. I just signed up for daily news e-mails from Need 2 Know after seeing a girl on the subway reading it in her e-mails. #creeper 
Successfully complete a 30-day challenge. Any suggestions?
Take a road trip.
Run a new race. I'm registered for the New York City 10K on October 19.
Send personalized Christmas cards. 
Step outside my comfort zone.
Watch the AFI's Top 100 Movies list.
Visit home. I'll be flying home in exactly one month for a wedding filled weekend!
 
Do you think I'll be able to finish by February 14? It's a pretty long list, but I'm always up for a good challenge! What are some things you would love to do this fall/winter? Let me know in the comments below.
 
Stay fit and fabulous,
 
A
 
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Friday, August 29, 2014

Why You Should Wait

I didn't wait, so I totally get it.  You've found the one.  You picture your life together - long walks, shared ice cream cones, Sunday nights cuddled on the couch watching Game of Thrones. And can we talk about how cute he/she is?!  You can't even stand it. It was love at first sight for both of you. I get it, but you should still wait.  Think of the consequences!  Are you prepared to have a child?  To provide for another living thing?  To feed, bathe, and care for a bundle of joy forever and ever?

 
Because getting a dog is exactly like having a baby, and I suggest that you wait.

 
I should start off by stating that I absolutely adore my Australian Shepherd/Lab mix, Lily. I love that people stop us on the street because they are in awe of how beautiful she is. I love that she's a cuddle bug, and that she always wants to be around people. I love that she bows down to other dogs when meeting them for the first time. I love that she has her own unique personality. I love that she refuses to walk on street grates or get her feet wet. I love that she's so ridiculously smart that she is brilliant at acting dumb. Lastly, I love that she carries this blanket/doggy bed around with her like she's Linus from Charlie Brown. Having said all that, she is a huge responsibility and when I got her a few years ago I was in a completely different stage in my life.   
 
 
Life was easier at the time. I was in a relationship and our dating activities included Lily whenever possible...even 15 hour roadtrips to visit his parents. My best friends all understood the life of a puppy parent because they had dogs as well.  Now, my life has completely changed. I don't have help from my family anymore. I have a three hour commute most days and work odd hours. I'm living in a new city, so I'm attempting to make friends and go on the occasional date once in a blue moon. Speaking of dating, introducing a new guy to Lily for the first time is about as nerve-racking as a single parent introducing a new boyfriend/girlfriend to the children. You know - except for the fact that single parents don't have to worry about their children jumping or shedding too much on their new love interest for the most part...
 
Photo from here.
 
I always try to tell my friends who are interested in becoming puppy parents to wait until they are more settled down - like "married and the next step is children" settled down. If not, too many things will pull you away from your dog. If you really want to test the waters to see if you're ready for a furbaby of your very own, I suggest dog-sitting a friend's pet. (I'll volunteer Lily for the weekend! #yourewelcome) Or, follow this great advice I learned from the E! True Hollywood Story of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Supposedly, in order to get a dog, Ben was required to walk a dog leash every morning and evening until his parent's believed he was ready. As crazy as it sounds, set out the food bowls and walk that leash around the block twice a day!  Then let me know if you still want a dog in six months.
 
 
Lily is wonderful (She's cuddled up next to me while I blog as usual...). But, with all the fun adventures and cuddle sessions dogs come with, they also require that much responsibility. Maybe I'm playing devil's advocate, I just ask that you keep this in mind before committing to a dog...and that you adopt, but that's a whole other soap box rant for another day!
 
Stay fit and fabulous,
 
A
 
Please follow me on Twitter and "like" my blog on Facebook if you enjoy what you read. Thanks!
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Restaurant Review: Alice's Tea Cup


I've been wanting to visit Alice's Tea Cup, with locations on both the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, since I read in Us Weekly back in 2012 that Katie Holmes and Suri Cruise had visited the spot for a playdate. Trust me - I wish that previous sentence wasn't true either, but...
 
 
I was recently scrolling through my Facebook feed when I noticed that my grad school buddy, Robin, and her daughter, Anabel, were in town scouting colleges. During the two years it took to complete our Master's degrees, Robin would constantly tell me stories about her days living in New York City and we would discuss the possibility of me moving here.  I credit her as being one of the reasons I'm here.  She told me that living in this city would be an amazing experience, and she was right! Thankfully, we were able to throw together a last minute meet up, and I thought this would be the perfect occasion to try out Alice's Tea Cup on the Upper West Side.
 
 
Beginning with the cute knick-knacks sold at the front of the restaurant, Alice's Tea Cup has a similar vibe to Serendipty 3 on the Upper East Side. All the décor in the restaurant is Alice in Wonderland-themed down to the kitchen doors which are shaped like key holes.  It is the very definition of the word "adorable".
 
 
The menu includes a variety of teas, pastries, small plates, and other sweet treats. Robin and I shared a pot of Alice's Tea - a blend of Indian black vanilla tea with Japanese green tea and rose petals.  We also both ordered a scone with raspberry preserves and homemade clotted cream.  Anabel ordered the warm, soft chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. Everything looked and tasted lovely:
 
 
 
 
As with Café Lalo, Alice's Tea Cup has a warm and inviting feel to it. I love the beautiful wooden accents and mismatched china. In my opinion they are both the most adorable backdrops for a screen-worthy New York City romance. Or, maybe I'm a hopeless romantic and these are the types of places ladies brunch at on weekend mornings Sex and the City-style to discuss the lack of screen-worthy New York City romance in their lives. To each their own...
 
Stay fit and fabulous (and try a scone or two!),
 
A
 
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Weekend Recap: The Land of the Pines

I absolutely love New York City, but it's easy to get caught up in everything the city is famous for - money, status, titles, fashion labels, the fast paced life, etc. As someone who grew up wishing she could live in a dirt mound (thanks to my Little House on the Prairie books...), it's nice to step away from it all for a little bit to recharge, reground myself, and breathe in some fresh air.

This weekend I headed down south to the land of the pines to visit with my sister and brother-in-law (who recently returned from being deployed) and to celebrate what would have been my dad's birthday on Sunday.  I missed my connecting flight Friday evening due to flight delays, so my 40-hour trip was even shorter than expected.  It was great to have some fun, Southern family time though.  I'll take as much as I can get!


Meet the Flouer Family

I woke up early Saturday morning to make a quick breakfast trip to Chick-Fil-A - it's always a necessity when I venture outside the city. Anyone who has tasted the greatness that is their chicken mini sandwiches will understand my longing.  My brother-in-law, Jason, and my sister, Logan, then gave us a quick tour of Camp Lejeune.


We made a stop at the MCX (Marine Corps Exchange) which is basically a department store mixed with a Target.  They have everything from designer handbags to department store beauty products to big screen TVs - all tax free! I ended up walking out with two dresses and an $11 pillow which I've been eying at Nordstrom for almost $40 in New York. #SMH...

I woke up like this...
 
We had a light lunch on the water at Icehouse Waterfront Restaurant which looks like something out of a Nicholas Sparks movie. (Sparks lives less than an hour away in New Bern, NC.) I completely went against my love of seafood and ordered the baked brie appetizer - almond encrusted brie with cranberry chutney and grilled crostini. It did not disappoint!

 
 
We briefly interrupted our weekend of eating with a quick fantasy football draft, an ALS ice bucket challenge, and some documentary watching on Jason's new 55-inch television, but that didn't last long as we soon made our way to dinner. Every year for my dad's birthday, we would go out for Japanese food. We would eat a massive hibachi dinner full of steak, scallops, Shirley Temples, and onion volcanoes! Even though my dad passed away last year, we've kept this tradition alive.

This was the best Shirley Temple I've ever had - amazing Sprite/grenadine/cherry proportions! It had to be immortalized through this photograph.

My forty hour getaway came and went quickly but not before I was finally able to make Jason some slutty brownies (a mixture of chocolate chip cookies, Oreos, and brownies) - for breakfast, of course. He requested them during his deployment, but I figured fresh desserts are better than two week old desserts sent through the mail. You can check out the recipe here if you are interested.

 
I'm now back in New York City where I've traded pine trees for skyscrapers and quality family time for rush hour.  It's back to reality and the daily grind, but I look forward to my next big weekend adventure filled with southern hospitality and fresh air in one month. I'm coming for you, Atlanta!

Stay fit and fabulous (but eat dessert too!),
 
A
 
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