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Posted on May 7, 2013 in Blogging, Dear Diary | 5 comments

Hello Stranger

Oh, hey there.

This is awkward.

Cause, y’know, I haven’t really been around lately.

Sorry about that.

Well, not really sorry, per se, since you probably already know my stance on bloggers apologizing for not blogging. I mean, I do know that it’s not like your lives have stopped just because I haven’t been recording mine lately, I really do! Although, let’s be honest, sometimes I like to think I have that kind of affect anyway, just for sake of my ego (it’s quite large, you know).

Anyway, hi. I know that my blog updates as of late have been rather few and far between, but don’t think for one second it’s because I’m phasing blogging out of my life or any such ridiculous nonsense like that. This blog isn’t stopping — I’m far too much of an attention-whore to ever let THAT happen — I’m just taking a little breather. A bit of a break. Because, in all honesty, I know most people don’t think that blogging takes up much time, but it can be really time-consuming. Taking and editing photos, threading words together coherently enough to create a legible post… sure, it ain’t rocket science, but it’s not as wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am as some might think either. And sometimes, rare though these occasions might be, there’s just a bit too much going on in my life for me to actually take the time to stop and write about it.

Life is INDEED happening, and I am so, so, so, so excited to update you on those things soon. There are definitely exciting things in the works, first and foremost being that my big brother is getting MARRIED this weekend!

Take what you know about how much I love weddings, and then add that to how much I love my brother, and you might start to get an idea for how ridonkulously excited I am about this weekend.

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PLUS my perfect niece (and soon to be goddaughter – squee!) Mia is coming back up with my sister and her hubs for the wedding AND for her baptism the following day (on Jenny’s first Mother’s Day! D’awwww…)

Also, in posting both of those pictures above, I’m suddenly made aware of how lucky I am to be able to photograph so many beautifl family moments — Ben and Tay’s engagement shoot in St. Maarten, Mia’s newborn shoot, and I’ll be playing the triple roll of bridesmaid, sister, and photographer at the rehearsal dinner on Friday! Admittedly, I originally got into photography mostly because of this blog — I really just wanted to take nice pictures of my food, and it helped that Ben is a photog so he could help me out. But it has turned out to be so incredibly rewarding.

…Whew! I wasn’t quite expecting to get so sappy this morning! I think that’s quite enough cheesiness for today. Anyway, the bottom line is that I just wanted to let you know I’m still here, and will be back with more regularity soon, I’m sure. In the meantime though, I’m going to keep enjoying some of that life I’ve been living. πŸ˜‰

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Posted on Aug 21, 2012 in Dear Diary | 21 comments

HLS 2012: Part 2

Hoo boy, I tell you, I am not having an easy time readjusting from the weekend. It took me not one, not two, but three separate tries to put my shirt on correctly this morning (first time: backwards, second time: arm through neckhole, in case you were wondering). So I guess that means I should jump right into Part 2 of my weekend recap, huh?

Picking up right where we left off, it’s now an HLS tradition to officially kick things off with a cocktail party Friday night. Because we knew that there were only going to be light appetizers at the party, the roomies (Anne, Theodora, Ashley, plus Tina) and I wanted to make sure we got some actual sustenance beforehand. We were a little crunched for time because the photowalk took longer than planned (whoops), so we decided just to get our nom on at the hotel restaurant: Zephyr on the Charles.

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The menu was very tantalizing, and we were given a 10% discount because of HLS, so it ended up being a great choice! Before we could get into ordering, however, we had to take advantage of the deliciously even lighting that our patio seating allowed us. Vanity photoshoot? Yes please.

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I love dining with other bloggers. Makes me feel so much less self-conscious about my food paparazzi ways.

As expected with people who have a lot of the same interests food-wise, all of us ended up ordering one of two things. I got the lobster cobb salad (as did Anne and Tina), and Theodora and Ashley (who were set to run 15 miles in the morning as part of their marathon training) got a rigatoni dish with chicken and vegetables.

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But first, the bread! We housed the pretzel roll. It. Was. Awesome.

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Aaaaaalmost as awesome as my lobster cobb salad. With huge chunks of lobster, bacon, egg, tomatoes, super ripe avocado, and a heaping amount of GOAT CHEESE, it was seriously amazing. It came with a lemon-rosemary vinaigrette on the side. Nom-tastic, for reals.

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After we wrapped up dinner, it was time for the cocktail party! The fabulous Elizabeth was the planner of this event. It was held in a little tented area off of one of the meeting rooms, and it looked fantastic.

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There were a few little apps and whatnot: a cheese plate, a veggie plate, and a dessert table.

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I was so glad that we got a real meal beforehand, but I was also glad that I saved room for dessert! I tried one of each type of mini-whoopie pie: chocolate, red velvet, and lemon poppyseed. The lemon was my favorite — there’s just something about that flavor combination I really love. It’s my favorite kind of muffin, too!

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The most fun part of the cocktail party (last year’s too!) is the photobooth that we have set up. What can I say? You have to know that getting a bunch of women together who already have a penchant for posting photos of themselves on the internet is going to result in some serious goobering-up in front of the photobooth cam. Check out some of these beauties:


From Elizabeth’s blog

We didn’t end up staying until the very end since we were so tired (not that I really had an excuse since *I* wasn’t set to run 15 miles in the morning, but still). But before I officially went up to hit the hay, Mal came to pick Tina up since she wasn’t attending the conference the next day and…

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I got to meet Murphy!

He was such an adorable little munchkin. He has SO much personality! It made me wish that I had Daxter with me so he and Murphy could instantly become bestest best friends. Oh well, maybe next time. πŸ˜‰

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I hightailed it back to the room after that to put up my feet (which were more sore than I like to admit) and start mentally preparing myself for the day to come… which included my photography presentation! Ahhh!

Saturday: We had a breakfast which was sponsored by Wild Harvest and was actually AWESOME. Instead of cereal, oatmeal, and fruit, which I was expecting based on last year, they had a full-service breakfast which featured the winning recipe of the contest they held prior to the conference. I was too nervous for my presentation so I forgot to bring my camera down, but rest assured it was awesome.

After breakfast, most people headed off to the CrossFit session (which, as I mentioned, I had to unfortunately miss out on), while I went and prepped for my presentation. Before I knew it, 10:45 had rolled around and I was off!


Picture from Courtney

I actually think my presentation ended up going really well. It FLEW by, of course, and I couldn’t believe it when I looked at the clock on my computer and had already been talking for 25 minutes, but it also went smoothly. People had a lot of questions, as expected, so I was glad I left enough time for them to be asked. If you’re interested, here is a link to the slides from my presentation.

If there’s enough interest, I’d also be happy to go through a post (or a series of posts) on what I talked about – photography basics and how to up the ante in terms of your blog’s photos. Just let me know!

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As mentioned, my session flew by (as did the following one I attended, which was a panel on working with brands that featured my roomies, hosted by Lauren of Say What You Need to Say. Then, before I knew it, it was time for lunch! I was RAVENOUS (must have been all that nervous energy), so again I am glad to say that the hotel did not disappoint food-wise.

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They had a make-your-own salad that you could top with goat cheese, almonds, and dried blueberries, a delicious tomato and avocado salad, a vegan lentil chili (which was spicy and delicious – I had seconds!), and this roasted chicken which was actually fantastic. I always expect conference chicken to be dry and flavorless, and this was anything but. They also had a vegetable soup which was good, albeit a little salty.

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The one part of lunch I did not particularly enjoy was the dessert. They served us yogurt parfaits at breakfast, so I was pretty much expecting this to be more of the same. When I dug in expecting yogurt, however, I was met with a flavor that was more like cottage cheese or ricotta. Now, I normally LOVE cottage cheese (and ricotta, frankly!), and most of my tablemates seemed to really enjoy the dish. I just couldn’t get over the texture though (maybe because I had gone in expecting yogurt?) and ended up just picking the fruit and glazed walnuts off the top. Oh well, at least it photographed beautifully!

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The rest of the day was spent going in and out of additional sessions, snacking on Driscoll’s berries, and bumming around with the roomies. We were all really glad that our presentations had been back-to-back and before lunch so we could enjoy the rest of the day together. Before we knew it, Meghann, Julie, and Heather were going through the closing remarks!

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Eventually we made our way down to Meghann’s room where a bunch of the girls were meeting before heading out to a Chobani dinner (like the one I got to attend back in May).


Photo from Theodora

Meghann was already deep in post-conference relief mode, hehe:

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Since I wouldn’t be attending the dinner, I ventured out with Chase and Michelle to take in just a little bit more of Boston while I still could. We grabbed the hotel shuttle out to Harvard Square and ended up having dinner at a cute little Irish pub called Tommy Doyle’s.

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I got a Magic Hat beer and decided to keep my lobster craving satisfied for the second night in a row:

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Talk about a great value! For $12 I got TWO lobster rolls stuffed to the brim with meaty goodness. I ended up eating one whole roll and then just picking the lobster out of the other. Mm-mmm.

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I was also pleasantly surprised to see a Bon Chon Chicken joint right in the middle of everything. You guys know how I feel about the deliciousness that is Bon Chon. Harvardians (is that a thing?), if you haven’t tried their magical crack chicken yet, go! Quickly!

Aaaaaand, that about wraps it up! I caught a super early flight back to DC Sunday morning with Chase, realized quickly that I had also caught a cold, but didn’t really care. I have another great HLS weekend under my belt, and can’t wait to see what next year has in store!

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Posted on Aug 20, 2012 in Dear Diary, Food | 21 comments

HLS 2012: Part 1

Hey girl hey.

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So, I’m back from Boston and the 2012 Healthy Living Summit, and it (of course) a total blast. Because I was a speaker at this year’s summit, I was admittedly more nervous than excited about it, but now I don’t really know why that was the case. It was just as much fun as I expected it to be!

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Heather, Elizabeth, and Meghann – three of the wunderbar organizers of HLS!

I met a ton of new (and new-ish, since I kind of already knew them from their blogs) people, got to speak on a topic that I am supremely passionate about, and FINALLY had a reason to wear my peacock dress. Win-win-win.

I flew into Boston around noon, and quickly made my way over from the US Airways terminal to the Jet Blue terminal to meet Anne, who was landing about 40 minutes after me. We cabbed to the hotel – the Hyatt Regency Cambrige – together!

Sidenote: Boston Logan is a fairly confusing airport! I had to take a legit bus to get from one terminal to the other. Inter-airport shuttles: they are the future. Embrace the future, Boston. I mean, c’mon, what is this, DCA? Hehe.

Anne and I got to the hotel, said our hellos to a few people that we knew, then grabbed our flippin’ sweet swag bags and went up to our room. As was to be expected, the haul was pretty epic this year:

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Also as was to be expected, I definitely could NOT fit all that jank in my carry-on for the flight back. So I ended up having to sadly ditch and give away a few of my bigger and liquidier totally free items. I know, my life is so hard.

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I can’t lie, the thing I’m most excited about (other than the multiple coupons I snagged for Almond Breeze and Laughing Cow cheese) are the Reebok sneakers that we all got. They’re the minimized, super-light style which I’ve never gotten to try out before. I think they’re actually specifically targeted for CrossFit use, but we all know how much CrossFit I’ve done (er, bagel). But who knows? Maybe this will inspire me to take the plunge and see what CF is really all about (since I sadly had to miss out on the CF session at the summit Saturday AM!)

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One of our sponsors was Happy Family, which is a natural baby food company that’s looking to expand their product line. If you think that the fact that it’s baby food stopped me from taste-testing my “Happy Tot” pouch that I got, however, you would be sadly mistaken. It tasted like… sweet potato applesauce. Yep.

Anne and I hung around in our room for a little bit, while we waited for our other roomies (Ashley and Theodora) to arrive. Tina also joined us for a little while, since she wasn’t attending the summit but was going to the cocktail party with us that night.

Before I could get to say too long of a hello to my friends, however, I had to gear up for the photowalk that I was heading up with Holly!

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We went on (what was supposed to be) a 2.5 mile walk from the hotel to Fenway park. We passed by Boston University directly on the path there, too. Of course, because it’s me, the part of the group that had (much to their chagrin) stuck with me ended up taking a little longer to get back. Some people might call it getting lost, I like to say it was extending the adventure, hahaha. I think we must have walked at least 4 miles in total that afternoon. Oops?

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Oh well, at least I got some banging pictures out of it! Plus, I can say that I’ve been to Fenway now! Not that I care especially about baseball either way, but I just feel like Fenway Park is kind of a big deal.

Photo overload starting in 3… 2… 1…

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Boston is a really beautiful city, I’m actually kind of sad that both times that I’ve been there this year (for Reach the Beach and then for this) I haven’t gotten to see much of the city. Oh well, guess this just means I’ll have to come back and tour it for real. What a shame. πŸ˜›

The rest of the first day of HLS included dinner with my roomies at the surprisingly delicious and well-valued hotel restaurant as well as the traditional Friday night cocktail party! I won’t get too far into either today since A) I took like 5 pictures the entire second day of the conference so I need to stretch them out (good thing I was giving a presentation on photography, huh? Ahaha), and B) this post has already been a little too picturetastic. Here’s a group shot of us from dinner that I pilfered from Tina, though, so you can see our pretty dresses. Kekeke.

We got to have a bit of a mini-RTB reunion at the cocktail party (since both Elizabeth and Bridget were there too!) and thus pretty much commandeered the photobooth for a large part of the night, just to sum it up. But fear not, I’ll be back tomorrow with the rest of the conference, including a link to the slides from my presentation in case you were interested in viewing them.

Things are definitely getting back to normal QUICKLY around here. I got sick with all the traveling and whatnot for the conference, not that that’s particularly surprising, and I think Daxter may have been just a little miffed that I left for the weekend: he left me a whole boatload of “presents” on my bathroom floor in the middle of the night last night.

Ah well, c’est la vie. At least I get to relive the weekend through these posts, eh?

Have a great Monday!

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Posted on Jun 8, 2012 in Dear Diary | 28 comments

Exciting News!

Happy Friday, neighborinos! I don’t know what you all have on the docket for what is supposed to be a truly amazing weekend, weather-wise, but I am totally pumped. While last weekend was gloriously lazy, I have some fun stuff on the horizon.

First up, tonight is the re-return of book club, where we’re having a taco-themed fiesta (ole!), and then I’m going to see Snow White & The Huntsman with my sister. If you’ve already seen the movie and can confirm that it’s totally terrible, well, keep that to yo’self. I just want to see some beautiful Chris Hemsworth, stunning Charlize Theron, and quivering-lipped K.Stew, mmmkay?

And as if those two things weren’t delicious enough (both literally and figuratively), tomorrow night I’m seeing the lovely Kristin Chenoweth in concert! She’s performing at the Hippodrome tomorrow night, and I can’t wait! For those of you who might be less familiar, Kristin Chenoweth is a very famous Broadway actress and absolutely phenomenal singer who has cropped up in plenty of mainstream media lately. In addition to originating the roles of Sally in the revival of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown! and Glinda in Wicked, she has also played April Rhodes on Glee, Olive Snook on Pushing Daisies, had a couple of supporting roles in various movies, and did a stint on the West Wing. She was most recently on that show GCB.

Anyway, she’s obviously fabulous and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing her perform twice now: once as Glinda, during Wicked‘s pre-Broadway run back in 2007, and in the show Promises, Promises a few years ago. She’s basically one of my (many) idols, and I’m really excited for the show.

So actually, as exciting as my weekend plans clearly are (I’m sure you’re all thrilled for me, after all, hehe), the title of this post doesn’t actually refer to my schedule. I actually have an announcement to make!

I’m going to be speaking at this year’s Healthy Living Summit! I went to HLS last year (recaps here and here), and had an absolutely amazing time. I got to bond IRL with friends I only knew through their blogs, see the city of Philadelphia, and learned a surprising amount. This year it’s in Boston, and I’m so excited to be a presenter! The topic of my session?

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Essential photography basics for blogging! I cannot even tell you how many bloggers I meet who are stuck using the Auto feature on their ridiculously expensive cameras. Hopefully I can provide some tips that embolden them to at least try shooting on Aperture mode, or even — gasp! — Manual. I’m clearly not a professional photographer, but I have had the benefit of having a brother who is, so hopefully I’m in a good position to help bloggers understand that having great photography is not a huge, professional undertaking.

Of course, not everyone has a DSLR, so I’ll definitely be including general tips on how to make the most of your point & shoot or camera phone, too. Here’s the little blurb about my session, as posted on the HLS website:

HLS blurb

I’m super psyched to be able to combine so many things that I love: blogging, photography, and forcing people to pay attention to me. Registration for HLS opens this coming Tuesday, June 12th, at 8 PM (EST) if you’re thinking about attending. Have an awesome weekend, everyone!

Have you been to HLS in the past? Are you considering going this year?

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Posted on Nov 14, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food | 39 comments

Zoology

Thank goodness for long weekends, that’s all I have to say! Mine was a-hustlin’ and a-bustlin’ with trips to the dog park, homemade sushi, and getting schwasted-faced at my friends’ band’s show. Before all of that, though, my work-free Friday started off with a trip to the zoo!

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I always forget that the National Zoo is so easily accessibly, picturesque, and the best part, FREE! So when my friend Sarah suggested we hit it up, I was more than game!

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As evidenced by the incredibly wind-blown hair I’m sporting in the picture that Sarah took of me above, it ended up being quite the blustery day. That certainly didn’t stop us from getting trigger happy with our cameras though!

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Cheetahs and pandas and elephants, oh my!

Cheetah Cheetah!
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We had been hoping that the new elephant house they’re building would have been ready, but we were off by… oh, about 2 years. (2013 y’all!) I really like that the National Zoo brings so much attention and fundraising to the diminishing Asian elephant population, so the existing exhibit was still a lot of fun to check out.

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Donate to a Good Cause

Especially for those of us with an incredibly sophisticated sense of humor…

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Hehehe.

Post-zoo, we went to have lunch at Open City, a neat little coffeshop/restaurant/bar right by the metro.

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It was really cute! The place was hoppin’ so the service was a tad slow but I loved their drink menu: so many different kinds of teas! Sarah got a mulled apple cider that was to die for.

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Also, she has the best iPhone case EVER. I want.

Inevitably I ended up being too indecisive on the beverage front, so I just stuck with water to go alongside my Open City burger. Cheeseburger + bacon, yes prz!

Burg

After nommage, I continued my social Friday by meeting Hilary for coffee! I felt horrible because with all the travel time from the zoo I ended up being SUPER late for our meeting (and I generally pride myself for my punctuality, shocking as that may sound) but she graciously forgave me and we had a great conversation.

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Hi Hilary!

She also generously gave me a couple cases of La Croix sparkling water because she ended up trying it and hating it, haha. More for me!

Are you a zoo-goer? I know that many people feel strongly against zoos and aquariums, and that they can be kind of controversial. That being said, I have to admit that I do still like visiting them. I think part of it continues to stem from my continued hope that one time they’re just going to let me take one of the otters home with me.

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