Life Lately: December 2014

Last week I blasted you with my November life update, and today I’m here to share scenes from December and the holidays.

Life Lately

The month kicked off with two girls nights in a row, and both were on school nights too! The first was a midweek fitness date with my gym friends Liz, Ashley, and Mary. We took a class at The Studio Empower and then treated Liz to a belated birthday dinner at Farmstead Table in Newton. It was so cute in there, and our farm to table food was perfect.

Studio EmpowerFarmstead Table

The following night, I met up with my friend Erin downtown for dinner at Rustic Kitchen before we saw The Nutcracker! <–Recap post here.

Boston Ballet's The Nutcracker

Tim and I spent the first weekend in December enjoying some quality time together. Friday night was spent at home before heading up to Portsmouth on Saturday for our annual overnight. We typically go in the fall, but this year we didn’t have a weekend to use our free Marriott night until December. It was really nice being up there at Christmas time for a change. Everything was decorated, and we were able to get a lot of Christmas shopping done during the day on Saturday.

Portsmouth NH 2014

We ate dinner out on Saturday night at Cava, and it was one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to in my life. We sat at the bar downstairs, drank a bottle of wine (oops!), and left happy and full from all the delicious small plates we sampled. Crazy new try of the night? Octopus ink! Ever had it?

Cava Tapas and Wine Bar

Finally, on Sunday we grabbed coffee and a quick breakfast at Popovers on the Square before hitting up the Kittery outlets for some more shopping. Neither one of us wanted to head back to Boston that night!

Popovers on the Square

The following week we decorated and got our Christmas tree. Every year we get it from McKay’s trees, which isn’t anything special, but it’s close by, and the people there are so nice. Our tree this year almost didn’t even fit in the house. Tim had to get his saw from the basement. I didn’t even know we owned a saw? Good to know.

Christmas Tree 2014Christmas

Despite turning down a few invites, the rest of the month was one holiday gathering after another. Luckily, since we did most of our shopping in Portsmouth, the weekdays weren’t too crazy, which made the busy weekends more manageable. The weekend of the 12-14th kicked off with Christmas dinner and a slumber party at Katrina and Geoff’s new house on Friday night. I almost had a mental breakdown in the amount of traffic we hit getting there, but once we got there and started cooking all together, drinking wine (confession: I have completely turned into a wine-o if you couldn’t tell from my life lately posts the last couple of months), and laughing, I was fine. I’m still mad I forgot my cranberry and pistachio bark though!

Wally World Christmas 2014Wally World Christmas 2014 Wally World Christmas 2014Wally World Christmas 2014

On Saturday we celebrated Christmas with my dad’s side of the family at my grandfather’s house in New Bedford. We did a Yankee swap instead of a secret Santa this year, and since it was my uncle’s birthday, we also had a cake for him.

New Bedford Christmas 2014New Bedford Christmas 2014New Bedford Christmas 2014

Finally, on Sunday after a really hard workout from all the food we ate on Friday and Saturday, we headed to my godfather’s for a holiday luncheon with all my second cousins. The following weekend we had my work Christmas party at Julia’s house on Friday night, and on Saturday night we had the 15th annual Christmas party with my home friends at Shannon’s apartment. I can’t believe she’s hosted this party for 15 years straight (or that we’ve all been friends for so long!).

Shannon's Christmas Party 2014Food for Shannon's 2014Shannon's Christmas Party 2014Shannons Christmas Party 2014

This brings us into Christmas week. On Christmas Eve Eve, I went to Liz’s last kickboxing class (end of an era!), then Tim and I met some of my home friends at Rudy’s in Somerville to celebrate Shannon’s new job and Esk getting into medical school.

Liz's last kickboxing class

This year was the first year that we had Christmas Eve off from work, and it was so nice to spend the day at home together before heading to Tim’s cousin’s house like we do every year.

Pesto Stuffed TomatoesChristmas Eve 2014

Tim and I also have two Christmas Eve traditions of our own. The first is to do a random act of kindness for someone. This year we gave a ten-dollar bill to the person working the tolls on the mass pike, and we asked him to please pay the toll for however many cars it would cover after us. We also always exchange an ornament before going to bed. My ornament was my favorite gift that I received during the entire holiday season this year. Tim had a custom one created with a picture of the lighthouse where we got engaged this summer. Love!

Christmas Eve ornament

On Christmas Day, we woke up and exchanged our other presents for each other and opened our stockings before cooking a festive breakfast (our other holiday tradition together!). We each got each other a new winter jacket and winter hat. Does that make us lame? Tim also got me a kettlebell, a couple of new workout tops, and a cozy infinity scarf, and I also got Tim tickets to a beer and cheese festival in February.

Stockings on Christmas 2014Healthy french toast casserole

The rest of the day was spent at my parents’ house with my mom’s side of the family! Seemed like it went by in a flash.

Christmas 2014 Christmas 2014Christmas 2014 Christmas 2014 Cranberry White Chocolate Bars

The weekend immediately following Christmas was our 8th and final wedding of 2014, which we have officially dubbed the year of weddings. Tim was a groomsman in this one, so we spent Friday night at the rehearsal dinner at Smith and Wollensky’s, and Saturday was the wedding itself at the Boston Public Library. Holy fancy! We had such a fun time, and I enjoyed getting to know some of these friends a little bit better.

Doug and Carolyn's Rehearsal DinnerDoug and Carolyn's Wedding Doug and Carolyn's Wedding: GirlsDoug and Carolyn's Wedding Doug and Carolyn's Wedding

Finally, we finished out our month (and year) with dinner out at Solea on Moody Street and meeting up with friends at Hopsters to count down at midnight.

NYE 2014

I have no idea how we survived the last two months, but somehow we did!

Readers, let’s chat! What was the best part of your holiday season? Tell me about your favorite traditions, the best party you went to, or your favorite relaxing day at home.

I just love sitting on the couch with Tim with our tree lit up, a cup of tea, and a Christmas candle lit! I am looking forward to more of this (sans tree) in January now that our weekends are no longer jam-packed. I know I haven’t written about my 2015 intentions yet, but one of them definitely is to create more space. I need to be more mindful of living in the moment so I’m not always thinking about the next place we have to go. This is something I struggle with! Tim and I are both social butterflies despite still turning down more things than we ever have this year.

Hope you guys are having a great week so far. ❤

Happy New Year! Make Commitments, Not Resolutions

Happy New Year!

Whether you rang in 2015 with a crazy night out, a nice dinner, or a low-key night at home in your sweats, I hope you had a great time and were able to live in the moment.

A lot of people use the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day to reflect on the year past and review their goals for 2015. Along the same lines, a lot of bloggers use this time to post their “best of recipes/workouts/etc.” posts and give a rundown of both blog and life highlights.

I typically like to let the holiday hustle die down a bit before I do any reflecting or commitment making of my own. I don’t think there’s any magic rule that says all of that needs to be done by January 1st.

One thing I do want to do today is point out how I used the phrase “commitment making.” I didn’t say anything about New Year’s resolutions.

When I hear the word resolution, it makes me think of the result of something that was once broken or a situation that needed fixing. Every year, millions of people make New Year’s resolutions, and this has a very rear-view mirror way of looking at things, don’t you think? By making New Year’s resolutions, we essentially acknowledge all the baggage and crap we’ve carried around. We dwell on the things we’ve done incorrectly in some way, and then through our New Year’s resolutions, we resolve to fix them.

When we resolve to fix something, it implies that something was broken in the first place.

That seems like a pretty negative way of looking at things, if you ask me. Not exactly the way I would want to start fresh and anew.

My advice to you this year? Forget all the crap!

If we kick off 2015 focused on what we CAN’T eat anymore or what behaviors we WON’T do anymore, then we will immediately start our year with a deprivation mindset. It will make us feel like these items are off-limits, and that’s typically when we’ll feel MORE compelled to eat the junk or indulge in the “bad” behaviors.

So let’s make a little shift this year. Let’s make POSITIVE commitments for ourselves instead by looking ahead. Let’s ask ourselves:

  • What WILL I do this year?
  • What foods will I eat MORE of?
  • What behaviors will I START doing?

new years resolutions


To commit to something means to make a pledge or promise. Today, or when it feels right for you, set yourself up for success and make a commitment that is meaningful to YOU.

Pledge to take positive action.

Promise yourself you will add choices and behaviors that add purpose, health, and happiness to your life.

Isn’t this a much more positive way to start the year than looking back on the could have, should have, and would have?

Readers, let’s chat! I’m wondering, what do you think of this concept? Have you made any personal commitments yet for 2015?

Wishing everyone a fresh start and a wonderful first weekend of the new year. ❤

2014 Fitness Goals

Happy New Year!

new years resolutions

I can’t believe 2013 has come to an end and 2014 is underway. Hopefully the coming year has a lot of fun things in store for all of us! I’m sure many of you have spent some time reflecting on 2013 and deciding what you want the coming year to bringg. Has anyone set any New Year’s Resolutions goals for themselves?

During my last Thursday morning class of 2013, I started out by asking each class member (it was a small crowd that day!) to write one fitness goal they wanted to make for 2014. The only rule I gave them was that they could not write “to lose weight” because it had to be something fitness oriented.

Here’s what some of my peeps came up with:

–Strengthen upper body

–Run a 10k instead of a 5k

–Perfect a pushup

–Use 12 pound weights

–Be stronger

–Strengthen calf muscles

–Increase running pace and get faster

–Come to the gym 3-4 times a week during the winter

–Get more toned in my core and arms

–Run a 10k

–Not be so dependent on group exercise classes and feel more comfortable working out independently

Aren’t my class members awesome? I had so much fun reading these.

However, here’s my F&F tip for New Year’s Day. When making goals for this year (whatever they may be), let’s try to think about more than just the outcome. Of course we should always think with the end in mind, but we should also consider the baby steps it will take to get there. It’s that “in between” from point A and point B that’s going to make or break our success.

For example, if your goal is to increase upper body strength, how do you plan to do that? Are you going to add another upper body strength workout to your repertoire? What will it be, when will you do it, and will you do it on your own or with a trainer? Will you choose heavier weights at your next workout and gradually increase from there? If your goal is to run a 10k, what’s your plan? When will you start training? How will you train? Where will you train?

Oaktoberfest 5k

Thinking about the “how” can often be more powerful than the “what.” Doing so simply gets you thinking of all the details of what has to happen in the middle, between where you are now and where you want to be. Even just stating one step you’ll take next week (start researching races, buy a new pair of twelve pound weights, look for different upper body workouts online) can get you well on your way.

–Here are some of my fitness goals for 2014–

Lift heavier more often
I want to increase the amount of weight that I can squat, deadlift, and bench press. I played around with a lot of heavier weight workouts last week, and I am going to start by including at least one heavier weight workout on the weekends with Tim into my workout plan. We’ll see how that goes to keep it manageable at first, and then I’ll try to increase the frequency from there. I’ll need to do some experimenting with how to revolve this around teaching my classes!


Introduce chin ups and pull ups into my life
These are two exercises that have always intimidated me, but this is the year I’m going to try. I’m going to start adding the beginner and assisted versions of a chin up to my weekly repertoire, then build my way up. My friend Ashley has inspired me for this one, so I also plan to use her as a resource. She recommended this article to me, so this will be a good starting place. This post from Steph is also really helpful. Finally, I am going to focus more on exercises that will help strengthen all the other muscles needed for these moves. Hello inverted rows!

Run more than just one 5k race
Since my workouts in the second half of 2013 included more treadmill and running routines, I want to run a couple of more 5k races than just the Oak Scare 5k in October. To start, I’m going to research what else is out there and ask around to see if any of my friends have any specific races in mind. I probably won’t plan this until the spring when the weather is nicer.

Get another fitness certification
At Boston Mania, I won a free MMA Trainer Certification, so I am planning to get certified in February. I’m also researching some spinning certs as well. We’ll see!

Boston Mania - MMA

Try classes, studios, and fitness opportunities around Boston more often, and go back more than once!
I want to try spin classes at both The Handle Bar and Flywheel since I’ve never been. I also need to try The November Project. I want to frequent Barry’s Bootcamp regularly, get back to both FitHouse and The Studio Empower, and just see what else is out there. A lot will depend on my schedule and cost, but I just want to break out a little more. If anyone has any Boston fitness opportunities or recommendations, send them my way. I’m also always up for a little gym buddy action too!

Do you have any fitness goals for the coming year? What are the “in between” steps that will help you get there?

Let’s make 2014 the best one yet.