Weekend in NOLA

A few weeks ago, we went to New Orlean’s for the French Quarter Festival.  It was amazing.  We had so much fun.  NOLA is different than any other city I’ve ever visited. The streets are filled with music, a brass band on almost every corner.  The food is a delicious merging of flavors that you can’t find anywhere else. Perhaps best of all, the whole town seems happy, relaxed and carefree.

While we were there to see jazz, after watching Top Chef New Orleans and watching as many travel channel NOLA shows as I could find,  I also had a long list of foods that I wanted to try:

1.) Beignets

2.) Po’ Boys

3.) Barbecue Shrimp

4.) Gumbo

5.) Muffaleta

We managed to try everything on the list except the muffaleta, plus so much more.

We arrived at around 10:00AM on Friday morning, so we had the whole day to  explore. Frank’s been to NOLA a few times, but this was my first trip, so I wanted to take it all in and see everything. Amazingly, our hotel room was ready when we arrived, so we were able to drop off our bags and deplane a bit. We stayed at the Royal Sonesta on Bourbon Street, which was really nice, centrally located and much quieter than you’d imagine given the location.

We had lunch at Mother’s, which is known for their Po Boy’s.  The service was a bit hostile, but the long line went fast.

My first Po Boy!

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Frank got one with their famous debris.

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Next we took a walk around the French Quarter.  Pat O’Brien’s  bar was really fun, it had a great outdoor space and dueling pianos inside.

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After checking out the Jazz Festival for a bit, we made a stop at Cafe Du Monde, which was highly recommended.

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It was PACKED.  We waited a bit for a table, but the super affordable prices made it totally worth the wait!

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After some time at the pool and some shopping on magazine street, we got ready for the evening.  Our first stop was the Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel.

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It was one of my favorite parts of the trip.  The Sazerac  Bar was were the  Sazerac drink was created and the bar was completely preserved in time. I love places that remind me of the past without feeling stuffy or just plain old.  Sazerac was perfect.

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Next up was dinner at the Commander’s Palace, which we had seen in Top Chef.  We took a cab to the Garden District and stepped into one of the largest, most elaborate restaurants, I’ve ever been too.   We were whisked through the kitchen and into a room that overlooked the courtyard.

We started with a spicy shrimp dish.

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Next up was a crafish soup with delicious little dumplings. IMG_7724

Filet

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Garlic cheese grits, amazing. Holy huge portion, right?

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Pecan crusted grouper.

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And a white chocolate souffle that was indescribably good, and oh so gooey.

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Commander’s Palace definitely lived up to the hype.  Our only regret was not trying the .25 cent martini’s, which apparently are actually .25 cents!!!!

 

 

Stitch Fix and NB Brooklyn Half Pre-Party!

Let’s start with the New Balance Brooklyn Half Preparty! Pretty much everyone is running the Brooklyn Half, including me! New Balance is hosting an awesome 4 mile fun run on Thursday, May 15th at 10:30AM for anyone who wants to really live it up!  You’ll run from the 5th Ave New Balance Experience Store to packet pick up, but all fun runners get early access, so no waiting in line! Plus, they’ll pay for your metroride home! You can sign up on NB’s facebook page.  I’m seriously considering taking a vacation day to attend!

I can’t believe the half is in two weeks! I hope I’m ready.  My best long run was definitely in New Orleans–a trip I really need to post about. So hopefully warm weather is my key to success!

In other news, my birthday stitch fix came!  I waited almost two months for this box of joy to arrive! The best part of stitch fix might be the anticipation!  While I’ve really liked my first two boxes, I’m not sure what to keep from this box…and I need to decide soon.

First item, blue top with a deep v-back.

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The color is great and it’s nice and light, but the front doesn’t seem to fit perfectly.  It actually looks better on backwards.  It’s too bad because I love an interesting back!

Item 2: Paloma Top.

 

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Another fun back with scooping and buttons.  I love the scoop back , but don’t love the buttons or the way it gathers at the bottom of the back.  I could overlook the buttons, but I think the gathering calls attention to my butt.  But I do love the color!

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Item 3: Mint green pants.  So pretty, but not flattering on me.  I wish they were!  I will say that I get a ton of wear out of my black floral stitch fix jeans.

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Piece 4: Polka Dot, striped navy tee.

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Totally nautical, which is totally me.  That said, I have a lot of similar tops.

Piece 5: Anchor Necklace.

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I love all things nautical, so at first, I loved this necklace.  However, I’m not sure the quality matches the price.

I’m definitely keeping something, I’m just not sure what.

What did I love about this stitch fix?  I think they nailed my style, I like interesting backs and details, I like things that are kind of nautical, cape cod-ish.  I love the idea of colored jeans, but as I suspected, they don’t actually look good on me! Also, this was by far my cheapest stitch fix!  I could have had the whole box for $160!

What didn’t I love?  Well, these pieces weren’t particularly flattering on me. I also  don’t really need super casual pieces, I own plenty.

 

Yay Boston and Soul Cycle

The Boston Marathon had so much meaning this year. It was great to see all the support and have the race come back this year stronger than ever.  Congrats to all the amazing runners yesterday!

I was so thrilled to hear that Meb had won!  He is such an amazing runner and person; I always watch for him in the NYC Marathon, but this year it was even more exciting to see him win Boston.  I’ll always remember that while I was running the NYC marathon in 2009,  it was announced that an American had won and it was Meb!  I’ve been following his career ever since.

Frank and I even got to meet him at an NYRR gala a few years ago!

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In other exciting news, I finally tried Soul Cycle.  Verdict: loved it! It reminded me of the first spinning classes I ever took in college, just pure addiction.  It actually had a lot less “soul” than I expected. The workout was very high energy, most of the class was spent out of the seat and there was only one climb in the entire class.  They only thing I wish they had was some kind of monitor to measure RMPs or torque.  That said I’ll definitely be back–most likely after I get my next paycheck. $36 a class–ouch!

BurnThis Challenge: FitnessRuns+Core Fusion

Yesterday, I had the chance to attend a truly awesome fitness event.  The BurnThis Westside Cross Training Challenge!

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BurnThis is an app that lets you book fitness classes through your phone. It’s currently available for 12 cities.

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It has a few features that are really cool.  It is connected with mind body, which is the system almost all studios use for online reservations, but now you can book with one password for all studios.  This is a huge plus because I always find it annoying when I have to log out of one account in order to book another class at another studio.  I think this will make it much easier to book all your classes for the week at one time.   Also, it automatically pulls in your existing credits and packages.

Beyond this app, BurnThis occasionally offers fitness mashups that allow you to try two different workouts!  My “challenge” featured a 40 minute run workout and a 40 minute core fusion class at Exhale Meatpacking.

We kicked things off with mini blueprint juices, water and kind bars and then got right into the run.

FitnessRuns coaches led the run, which was awesome!

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We ran about 1 mile at a moderate pace, speeding up at the end. Then we found a big open space on the west side highway to do running drills, sprints and strength moves.  It was a great conditioning workout for runners–it reminded me of some of the workouts I did with team in training.  It was pretty tough, the typical drill might be sprints followed by burpees followed by recovery.  By then end of the 40ish minutes, I was tired!  I highly recommend FitnessRuns, it was a great full body workout geared toward runners.  They have a variety of workouts ranging from 30 to 60 minutes–and a few even include yoga! The coaches were very attentive to  form and really friendly. If your interested in checking it out, your first class is free and you can get 25% off your first package with the code FITNESSRUNS.

After quite a few drills, we jogged back to Exhale in the meat packing Gansevoort and after a few minutes rest, we started a Core Fusion class. It was an express class and the 40 minutes literally flew by.  That said, I definitely experienced the signature barre class leg shaking!

In addition to the double workout, the challenge included  giveaways from lululemon, exhale and fitness runs, pretty awesome.

I’ll definitely be attending these challenges in the future. It was a lot of fun,  a great workout and pushed me to my limits.

Disclaimer: The workout was complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

 

4 NYC Workouts I Want to Try

It’s that time.  Time to start to think about getting in shape for summer.  Sundress motivation is never lost on me.

I often find the best motivation to be trying something new.  Here are some workout classes that I’m hoping to try this spring…

CITY ROW

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I’ve always enjoyed some time spent on the erg and I’m definitely intrigued by a rowing workout in class format.  From the website: “Alternating between interval rowing and mat work, our signature 50-minute class combines high-interval sweat with low-resistance burn to scorch up to 600 calories in one session.” Price: $32/class.

FLEX STUDIOS

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For a while I thought Pilates ProWorks had closed and I was sad.  However, it looks like it has just been rebranded and made some changes.  Flex’s class line up looks great. I definitely want to try the Flex Barre and Flex TRX–I also think the studio is gorgeous! From the website: “The Barre Class that Will Make You Sweat. An intense calorie-burning, workout with an emphasis on conditioning the thighs, seat & hamstrings to make you stronger, increase your muscle tone and change your body. Set to the hottest soundtrack in the city.” Price: $38/class

EXCEED

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My good pal MeriG told me about Exceed and I’ve been meaning to check it for a while! While I don’t get to the UES very often, sometimes it’s worth the trek! Here’s what Exceed says about Exceed: “Exceed is the Ultimate Full Body Workout. Combining metabolic, strength, cardio, and interval training, the EXCEED workout will drive and inspire you to get fit, stay fit, and be
at your best every day.”  Price: $32/class

STUDIO 360

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I’ve always thought that balancing spinning with yoga or pilates would be the ultimate workout combo, Studio 360 does just that with their signature series class which includes a 40 minute cycle and 20 minutes of yoga–very high on my list of workouts to try! From the website: Signature Series. “This class will make your life even more awesome. Join us for a 40 minute indoor ride. The journey continues in the next room for a 20 minute Yoga series to integrate that energy from your cycling cardio, lengthen your muscles and strengthen your core. Yup, all that and more!” Price: $27/class

In other news, I hoping rumors that a beloved UES/UWS workout studio will make its triumphant return to the downtown area are true. :)

If ya’ll have studio or workout recommendations, send them my way!

 

Training Again

It’s been so long since I’ve actually trained for a race that it almost feels like I am starting from scratch…except I kind of know what I’m really in for!

The Brooklyn Half is coming up on May 17th.  I have only run this race once– in 2009! It seems like so long ago.   Tomorrow I have 7 miles on the schedule–rain or shine!  If I add a mile a week until May 17th, I’ll have a solid 11 miles under my belt before the race.  I’m planning to do at least one easy or tempo run a week and one night of speed work a week as well.

Adding to that, I also have this little race to prepare for:

Congratulations, Melissa! You’re in.
Welcome to the Class of 2014, TCS New York City Marathoner!

You’ll be on a runner’s journey through the five boroughs of New York City. The TCS New York City Marathon is the ultimate celebration of what makes each borough unique, inspiring, and an amazing place to get out and get moving!

Kick off your marathon season—there’s a lot you can do to get started now

Man! The pressure is on!

Just for kicks, I’m also considering doing my first tri.  The Escape to Miami looks like fun and I have some friends doing. Plus, any excuse to go to Miami.  Joe’s Stone Crab how I love thee.  The question is Sprint or Olympic?  I think I could do the sprint no problem.  However, it’s tempting to push myself a little bit more and try the olympic length.  That said, I’m not sure where I would swim. I also don’t know if I want any to have to worry about really training for anything other than the marathon.  I have to decide soon, so I’ll let you know what happens!

 

Fitbit Flex: First Thoughts

On Monday, my birthday present to myself arrived, it was a Fitbit Flex.

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Initial reaction–I love it!  I haven’t been using it long enough to do a full review, but so far, it’s been great.

Here’s what I like about it:

It motivates me to move: I love tracking my steps and just knowing I’m wearing my fitbit makes the decision to take the stairs or walk to a restaurant instead of ordering from seamless easy.  The frigid weather has definitely hampered my walking a bit, so I’ll take any motivation I can get.   I was actually surprised to see how much I walk now.  I’m averaging about 14,000 steps a day with several days over 20,000 not including other workouts. I was dog sitting last week, so we’ll see if my activity level decreases this week. Oh, and I love that they make a big deal with buzzing, text messages and little emoticons whenever you hit your goals!

It tracks everything in one place: I’ve tried a few calorie counting tools before and never stuck with them past breakfast.  However, because I check my fitbit dashboard regularly to see steps, I’ve had no trouble remembering to also track my calories. I can also track water consumed, weight, sleep and activity very easily.

It’s easy to wear: While the band isn’t gorgeous, it doesn’t really bother me at all. I’ve been taking it off to sleep and shower, but that’s about it.

It can be personalized: You have a lot of options based on your overall health goals. For example, when I set my weight goal,  I could pick from 4 different program levels to reach my goal.  I went with the medium level of intensity, which helps me create a 500 a day calorie deficit through diet and exercise, approximately 1 pound of weight loss per week.  It automatically accounts for my activity and adjusts my daily calorie allowance throughout the day.  As someone who hasn’t counted calories in ten years, it’s definitely a bit strange to track my food intake so closely, but I’m enjoying it for now.   You can also personalize your goals for daily steps, water, etc.

Here’s my dashboard from yesterday.

You can see the 5 mile run I went on at 10AM is my highest activity level of the day.  Also, I definitely need to step up my water intake. On this particular day, it said my calories were low, but my average for the week was around 2,000 calories a day, so it all balances out.

Here’s What I’m Still Figuring Out:

If I’ll still be wearing it in 3 months. I’m not sure if I’ll be as jazzed about Fitbit down the road or if it’s just a novelty.

How often to charge it! It says the battery lasts for 5 days, but I had to charge my Fitbit after 4. I think the charging might getting a little annoying, but maybe I’m just really lazy.

How accurate it is: I have a hard time believing that I actually burned 2342 calories in one day. I’m only 5 feet tall, so typically when I figure out my resting metabolic rate plus activity level, it’s closer to 17,000. For now, I’ll take it. :)

What the “premium” tool is all about: I fine using their basic program for now. It’s actually fairly robust, but I’m curious to see what the premium software offers.  Has anyone tried it?

How much does the Fitbit Flex cost? Approximately $99. Mine was slightly cheaper on Amazon, but now seems to be the same cost as other retailers.  The computer software and app are free unless you upgrade to premium.

Wine Tasting in North Fork

North Fork Trip Part 2!

After our delicious breakfast, we set off for our first vineyard of the day, Bedell Wine Cellars.  IMG_7603

We were the first people to arrive in the tasting room…

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We had a VIP Tour scheduled and we ended up being the only ones–score.  Seriously, North Fork is awesome in the early spring.  It’s still low season, so you get lots of personal attention.

It happened to be the one nice day all week, so we got tour  the Bedell property (well, one of three). Even in the winter, it was lovely. It  would be a beautiful place to get married. We got to see the barrel rooms and even the bottling room.  I highly recommend taking at least one tour on any wine tasting trip–you learn so much!

The tour included a tasting….

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Plus a delicious cheese plant…

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Our favorite red was the Musee, followed by the Taste Red (which was described as your Monday through Thursday wine). Our favorite white was the Gallery Chardonnay.

Yum, really great wines.

We stuck around for Live on the Vine, which was part of the NR Winterfest and included live music and a glass of rose.

Maybe it was all the wine, but we were sold on Bedell; we ended up joining their wine club and taking home 5 bottles.

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Next we moved on to the nearby Raphael. It had a grand Tuscan tasting room. I liked that their tasting allowed you to order glasses individually, so you could pick exactly what you wanted to taste with pours ranging from $2-$4.  That said, I didn’t love the wines.   Frank was a fan and snagged two bottles.

Next was the tasting I was most anticipating, Sparkling Pointe.  I love my bubbly.

This tasting paired 3 bubblies with 3 cheeses.

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My favorite was the 2010 Brut.

After that we went back to the B & B for some relaxation!

For dinner, we headed to Greenport.  Our first stop was actually the Greenport Harbor Brewing Company. I’m not really a beer person, but their tasting deal was amazing. $8 for 7 tastes and you get to keep your glass. Plus, after all that wine tasting, I owed it to the hubs.

I’d heard great things about Noah’s and we were excited to check it out for dinner.  I loved the atmosphere! It was relaxed with a slightly upscale sensibility. We ordered several small plates and a couple large ones.

Deviled eggs with crab

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Crab tacos

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Mache, fig and goat cheese salad–my favorite

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Brussels, always brussels

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Fish and chips

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Chicken bolognese

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Overall, I thought the small plates were good and the large ones were mediocre.

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Frank insisted we get dessert…

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Yup, it was a great birthday weekend.

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I can’t believe it’s already been a week since we arrived in North Fork.  Here’s to another great weekend.

Weekend in North Fork: Fig and Olive B&B

My  birthday weekend in North Fork was wonderful. It really is the perfect escape from the city.  It’s quaint, relaxed and charming, it kind of reminds me of cape cod.

We stayed at the Fig and Olive Bed and Breakfast, which was idyllic. I can’t think of one thing they could have done to improve our experience. It was so personalized and perfect. Before we even arrived, the asked if they could help make us reservations, but of course, I was already on top of that!

The B and B was within walking distance to 6 vineyards, so we decided to see if we could get away without renting a car and just hopped on the Jitney.

We arrived at the B and B to a warm greeting!

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Fig and Olive was absolutely beautifully decorated–it looked right out of a magazine. In fact, our room, the Driscoll room, was featured in W Magazine!

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There are only 3 rooms total, and we were the only ones in that weekend, so I was able to take a peek at the room across the hall.

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Our room had a great coffee station and a mini fridge that was packed with complimentary beverages. Lisa had even left a cheese plate ready for arrival!

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There were several sitting ares for guests and lots of books and magazines to peruse.

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After we had a moment to settle in, we took advantage of nearby vineyard that was open until 7PM and had a nice little tasting!  More on wine tasting in my next post.

We ended up switching our dinner reservation and went to the nearby North Fork Table for dinner, which was highly recommended by pretty much everyone. It has a 3-Course pre-fixe with many options to select from.

The  restaurant itself was quite simple in decor. It had a colonial history charm.  The food, on the other hand, was very modern and beautifully presented.  Oh, and there was a lot of it!

We started out with an amuse bouche of lobster salad.  Divine.

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I had the tuna tartare to start

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Frank had a very refreshing fluke and grapefruit dish

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For my entree, I had an incredible kale and ricotta cavatelli.  I have no words for how good this was.  The mix of textures and flavors made it my favorite dish of the night.

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I wish I could say the same for the monk fish….

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Then we had about 25 dessert courses, starting with a coffee, toffee ice cream sandwich.

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Followed by some cheese, but Frank hates cheese, so cancel that…

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Cinnamon sugar donuts, now that’s better…

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And por fin, a s’more/mallomar hybrid. Delish.

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Whew!  We went home and I sunk my teeth into some James Patterson. The Beach was a truly terrible novel, but fortunately the other book I read that weekend made up for it!

The next morning, Frank and I did a short run around the area.  When we returned our hosts  prepared and served us a truly lovely breakfast in their charming dining room.

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We started with a delicious berry parfait

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Then warm zucchini bread was served–mmmmm

IMG_7627A fabulous crustless quiche with asparagus was up next

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served with a side of five spice bacon

 

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Along with our breakfast, we enjoyed reading the NYTimes with leisure.  It was definitely the perfect start to a full day of wine tasting!

Fig and Olive turned out to be a great find.  We read about in NYMag and booked it without looking into many other options. I have to say, it was one of the best impulse decisions I’ve ever made!

Escape to Northfork

Yay for a long weekend.  What’s the occasion?  Just a little celebration of getting a year older.  While I don’t know how I feel about that, I do know that I am thrilled to have tomorrow off!

My standard b-day routine includes treating myself to a workout class, typically Physique 57.  Since my schedule tomorrow is tight, I’m saving P57 for next week, but I am indulging in a strength class at Uplift.  I don’t think I ever posted this picture from my bachelorette:

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These brave ladies actually indulged me in a pre-party workout class to kick off the bachelorette weekend. In any case, I’m excited to head back to uplift, so many awesome memories.

After that I am going to try and get a mani (it’s been months) and retake my passport photo for the third time.  I can’t even tell you how bad the first two came out–believe me, I typically could care less, but so far my photo attempts have been hideous.

After that, I may try to get my beloved avocado sandwich at the Smith, but that’s probably a bit of a lofty goal since I have to hop on the Jitney at 2:00PM.

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Our plans for Northfork are pretty low key right now, a little bed and breakfast action, some wine tasting, and a few nice dinners.

Fingers crossed it warms up a bit before I’m hiking around the anti-Hamptons.