Once in a lifetime

I just spent 5 months working like a dog living for free in New York City!  Wait…what?!  It has been 5 months since I last posted, and that is because I have literally been busier than EVER.  DSCN0854

Unfortunately, I put blogging aside while I was in NY, so I don’t really have a lot to share.  Basically, here is what I did.  Every Sunday night, I packed work clothes in a suitcase (I got REALLY good at this), said goodbye to Brendan, and called a cab to take me to the airport.  I flew to NY on JetBlue every time, even though I had to go to JFK, because I LOVE the terminal at JFK!  Try it.  I stayed in hotels every week.  I had a budget, but I could basically stay anywhere I wanted as long as I could get to work on time in the morning.  The picture of me above is on the Brooklyn Bridge.  I worked in Brooklyn right at the base of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. 

My food was free up to $50 a day.  My hotel was free.  My subway pass, free.  Up to $40/week to spend on health and fitness, free.  Ummmm… need anything else?  So that was me… a West Coast girl transplanted to the East Coast and then spending 5 months exploring NYC for FREE!!!

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Then on the weekends I could either fly home to see Brendan or use the money I would have spent to go to the airport and fly home to go somewhere else… OR… stay in NYC for FREEEEEEE…

So of course… Brendan had to get in on this weekend fun!DSCN0857

I got to explore so much of NY because I stayed at different hotels in different neighborhoods all the time.  My first week there, I cried because it was so dirty and scary and lonely.  My last week there, I cried because I had fallen in love with my favorite places in the city and I had a million new friends that I was saying bye to. 

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I mean… a city famous for pizza, hot dogs, cupcakes, cookies, and huge parks full of runner…. what’s not to love?

 

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It wasn’t all perfect.  I did work 55 hour minimum weeks the entire time. Including some weeks where I literally didn’t know I was in NY… 8:30am to 11pm = who the F cares… but I definitely fell in love with a city in a way I never thought possible… here are the basics for your next free trip to NY…

Favorite hotel: the W in Union Square for the great central location and huge cheery rooms.

Second favorite: The Sheraton on Canal Street for their great Club Lounge for Platinum members.  It is an outdoor terrace on the 21st floor with free breakfast and drinks.

Favorite restaurant: Dos Caminos on Houston for their seared tuna tacos and blood orange margaritas… I know this is a chain, but I fell in love with it so shove it.

Second Favorite: Westville in Chelsea for their fresh market sides.  You can order a HUGE plate of maple brussel sprouts, parmesan artichoke hearts, roasted zucchini, mozzarella and cherry tomatoes, and butternut squash for $14!!! In NYC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Favorite Workout: Soulcycle for the biggest grin I have ever had on my face for 45 minutes straight every week.  It is a dance club on a spinning bike, and I have never enjoyed myself more.  Plus, the instructor was AMAZING… go to soulcycle union square with Marvin before you die.  You must.

Second Favorite: Yoga to the People for their amazing culture.  I raved about this already when I went to the classes in Berkeley, but in NY it is something else.  They fill 3 floors of 50 people each for each class!  The donation-based part helps, too.

Favorite Subway Line: the Q!  It only stops like 3 times… ever.  If you want to go somewhere that isn’t on the Q… don’t go.  If you stay in a hotel on the Q line… amazing!!!

Second Favorite: Just take the Q.  Otherwise, look at the map… I guess.  You really can go anywhere in NY on the subway.  It just might take a little longer than it would on the Q.

Favorite Cupcake: Apple Cobbler cupcake from Crumbs. It is HUGE and there are fresh apples in there!  It is like apple pie and spice cake on crack… with frosting on top.

Second Favorite: this is cheating, but I choose the Banana pudding at Magnolia.  Apparently, people in NY have been tricking us tourists into just ordering cupcakes at Magnolia.  They’re amazing, but you really must try the banana pudding.  Homemade banana pudding, tons of fresh sliced bananas, and cubes of banana cake all in one!!

Favorite view: Brooklyn Heights Promenade for the view of the sunset behind the financial district.  I think this is the only way to fully appreciate how big those buildings are on that little island!  Check it out when the Freedom Tower is lit up red, white, and blue and you will be a patriotic American forever.

Second Favorite: It is perhaps a little more spectacular from Brooklyn Bridge Park, where you are closer to the water, so everything really looks HUGE.  Plus, the view of the bridges all lit up is amazing.  I’ll call this one a tie.  Either way, you need to get your butt over to Brooklyn.

This is making me tooooo sad.  I feel like I did SO MUCH, but there was still so much left to do, as well.  Of course, I could probably go on and on forever about my least favorites of NY…

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Business travel… so sophisticated

I’m home from a week on the road in Wilmington, Delaware.  I know, I was wondering why I was traveling to this random place, too.  Turns out a lot of trusts are based in Delaware for the same reason that most companies are incorporated there… for better tax treatment…. and I was auditing a trust for the week.  No, I don’t always have the snore-tastically boring job of auditing a trust, but that is what I have been doing for the past few weeks. 

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Bahaha… this sign was in the alehouse we went to almost every night because it was right next to our hotel.  About that… we went there sooo much.  We went drinking so much.  What the heck.  I didn’t realize people really do drink a lot.  Needless to say, I had quite a few sodas with a splash of cranberry juice, and I looked and felt significantly better than my colleagues every morning.  I also had a lot more room in my per diem budget for cupcakes!! 

Honestly, the real point of this post is that I wanted to share my excitement: I LOVE expensing my food on a business trip.  It makes me a little giddy every time I hand over the corporate AmEx for my latte.  And it’s a good thing I like it so much because I am going to be spending a good portion of May through September in NYC.  Yep, I will be working in Brooklyn, NY this summer and probably rotating hotels across the city over the summer, so I can get a taste of a few different areas.  I am pumped to be expensing my food in such a fantastic food city.  Such an expensive foodie city.  I will also be expensing a hotel room, so if you are interested in staying in NY with me for a week this summer please reach out to me to see about dates, details, etc.  Brendan will be staying with me for two weeks in May before he starts his summer job. 

The work I’ll be doing is totally different from my normal job.  It’s a huge financial job we’ve been hired to do, and the NY office asked the Boston office for some extra staff for the summer.  I volunteered because there probably isn’t another time in my life I will be so close to NY, have such flexibility in my personal life, and be so free to try new things at work (most auditors will be stuck in a single industry without much room for change by their second year).  My manager didn’t want to let me go, so I will be scheduled on my usual client in Cambridge on and off in the summer, as well. 

This short trip to Delaware, my short assignment on the trust, the opportunity in NY, and my lovely client in Cambridge are all making me feel pretty excited about my job right now and pretty optimistic about the future.  Please skip ahead if you are bothered by ridiculously nerdy comments: I really like public accounting!!!  (Please note that I am free to say the opposite tomorrow)

Coming up soon: I have a 20 mile training run tomorrow, a half marathon next weekend, and I will be spectating at the Boston Marathon the following weekend!!!!!!!!  Stay tuned.


A great day for racing!

I rallied up some friends from work and convinced them to sign up for a 10k with me!  Yay.  I haven’t run a 10k since high school just because I’ve focused on racing longer distances, so it was fun to change it up.  Plus, I haven’t really run more than 3.5 miles since I moved, so I can’t even pretend like I could have run any further.  In fact, I kind of died during the 10k.

My favorite things about the 10k? 

Friends!  It was so fun to go with a group of friends, and it was my friend’s first race and first time running more than 5 miles, so it was really fun to be part of that.

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The Price  It is SOOO much cheaper to register for a smaller local race.  I just looked up the price for the Las Vegas Rock n’ Roll Half and I wanted to cry.  Not sure if I’ll give in. 

My not so favorite things?

The pace… it’s a nice challenge to try to pick up the pace, knowing that it will be a lot shorter than my other races, but it is really hard for me to run any faster, just because my muscle memory is so set on my distance pace.  I would definitely have to add in some speed training if I wanted to make this my thing.  I ran an 8:08 first mile and then I DIED.305279_10100456965314650_931615_56193464_1636595650_n

I wore my Nike Women’s Marathon shirt so I could cheer on A.Jay who was running her first FULL in SF today!  OMG OMG!  I wish I could be there for her… Plus, my mom and our crew of friends ran the Girlfriend’s Half Marathon in Vancouver, WA today.  That was my first half EVER about four years ago!  I was definitely sad to not be at either of those races today because I love female-focused races, but I don’t really think I could have gone the distance.  Plus, it was fun to try a new distance in a new place with new friends! 


My first real addiction

I love running.  Sometimes I crave a good quick run in the rain, or a long run on a chilly fall day.  When I go too long without running, I go a little cray cray.  BUT… I wouldn’t say that I am addicted to running.  I could probably get the same thing from some other endurance sport, but I haven’t tried those… yet. 

Last year during the fall semester, some kid commented that he thought I was addicted to coffee because I always had my coffee in my hand when I got to class in the morning.  I laughed and told him that it was more likely that I was addicted to 1. having a cup in my hand because it makes me feel cool and reminds me of the Pacific NW, and 2. a good dose of sugar… because my cup was almost always full of hot chocolate… not coffee.  Too poor for daily lattes. 

When I started work a few weeks ago (it has already been 3 weeks!) I started going to Starbucks in the morning because it was the one little thing that I did for myself each day.  If you know my mom, you’ll understand why going to Starbucks reminds me of home and family.  It has become my comfort food of choice.  When I lived in Spain for a year it was my go-to cure for any homesickness.  Beyond the nostalgia, I enjoy my few minutes alone outside with my white and green cup every morning because it always, without fail, feels like an indulgence.  I hope that never goes away. 

So what’s the problem?  The problem is that I don’t like Starbucks hot chocolate and it has been way too hot for anything but iced coffee every morning here in Boston.  So, I’ve had coffee for the past 3 weeks.  One of them was even free because my Starbucks gold reward points kicked in!!  Yesterday I slept in… A LOT, but it was ok because Brendan did too.  After lunch with a friend, I came home and I was super productive studying for my next CPA exam took a super long nap.  I just figured it had been a long week, and I needed the rest.  But then the same thing happened today, except it didn’t feel good because it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing, and I knew I wasn’t actually tired.  Then I got horrible head and neck aches while I was running.  Then I got cranky and felt like I needed sugar… any sugar.  When I started explaining these symptoms out loud, I realized that I needed coffee.  I needed coffee for the first time in my life. 

I’m still not sure if I’m ok with this situation, but I sure did feel better after grabbing an iced coffee this afternoon! 

Onto dinner…

I had a major craving for chicken parmesan…

Cornmeal-crusted Chicken Parmesan

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Ingredients:

  • Chicken breast tenderloins (uncooked)
  • Cornmeal
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Dried basil or Italian seasonings
  • Grated parmesan
  • Egg whites
  • Canned or homemade marinara
  • Whole wheat spaghetti
  • Mozzarella

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare a shallow bowl of egg whites and another shallow bowl with a mix of cornmeal, S&P, parmesan, and Italian seasonings.  Prepare the chicken by giving it a bath in the egg whites and then coating it in the cornmeal mix.  Set aside on a plate while you prepare all of the chicken.  Heat a pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and cook on each side for about 3 minutes.

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Remove each piece and place them in a casserole dish or brownie pan.  Cover with a coat of marinara sauce and mozzarella, and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and cheese is melty!  Serve over spaghetti with extra sauce!

YUMM… this was so good. 

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“Adjusting to real life”

I emailed the manager on my upcoming client engagement this week to find out what I could do to get ready for my client work, which starts next week.  He answered my questions with brief responses, thanked me for reaching out to him, and ended by saying, “I hope the transition to real life has been going well.”  I laughed a little, but it was more of a courtesy laugh (Note to self: you don’t need to do that when you read emails), as I sat and wondered what he meant. 

Is this what the rest of my entire life is going to be like?  Probably not. 

Was my life real before now?  I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure.  

Does this suck?  I don’t think so.  Not yet. 

But my life has changed a lot A LOT in just the past few weeks, and I ‘m pretty sure it hasn’t stopped changing.  One really dramatic change for me is the way I approach exercise.  During the last six months, I often woke up to find that the only thing I had on my to-do list was a tentative workout… an if-you-want-to sort of run or yoga plan.  I almost always got around to it… lol. 

The biggest recent change has been the extraordinary pride I feel each time I lace up my running shoes.  It’s a really amazing feeling: “I did this for me.  I planned this.  I beat the odds.  I am capable of fitting this into my schedule.”  I know I’ve grown up watching my super busy mom fit her marathon training into her schedule, but it really is harder than it looks.  Well… it’s not harder… you just have to decide that it’s important to you.  Here are the things I’ve done so far to make healthy eating and exercise fit into my work schedule:

1. I cook a pot of 3 servings of oatmeal on Sunday night for the next three days.  While it’s cooking in the pot, I prepare three tupperware containers with brown sugar and PB.  I leave the oatmeal to cool on the stove and then seal up each serving with its toppings.  Ready for the next three days!  Repeat on Wednesday night for the next 2 days. 

2.  I knew I was going to be working out of the office for the next 2 weeks, so I bought a 2 week membership at the yoga studio right by my work.  They had a new student special for 2 weeks for $25!  On the days I plan to go to yoga, I simply pack a bag with some gym clothes the night before, and tote it to work with me on the subway.

3.  I’ve tried to mix up my workouts, so that the idea of it doesn’t sound like a total drag.  Having the yoga studio membership has been good because I look forward to the new kind of class each time, and I can alternate running days with yoga days. 

4.  Set a bed time.  I’m still working on this one.  It is Thursday, and I have red lines in my eyes that I only get when I’m really tired.  They appeared this morning.  I almost made it to the weekend, but not quite. 

5.  I know you’ve heard this one before, but tell people about your plans to work out each evening.  After my first yoga class I had three people ask me about it the next day, which also made me excited to go back. Plus, verbalizing your commitment is even better than writing it in your personal calendar.

What are your tips for saving time and making healthy decisions during the hectic work week? 

I have a quick awesome EASY healthy dinner to post soon!  


My new life…

will be busy

includes less running

will be fun

includes long walks into the city to go shopping!

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I bought a bunch of new clothes for work this weekend.  It is a lot easier now that I’ve been to the office and seen the level of formality I’m dealing with.  It’s not as high as I was expecting, but I think I will still dress on the nicer side because I feel more confident that way. 

We went to my favorite “real fast food” place in Boston for lunch: b. good. 

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Yum!  I had the veggie burger with avocado and fresh baked sweet potato fries! 

Skip to dinner!  Brendan made cornmeal-crusted tilapia with mango-cilantro salsa!  and I made some quinoa and steamed broccoli slaw to go with it.  It was great and super quick and easy!  The fish was from the frozen section at Trader Joe’s. 

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I couldn’t get over how quick and easy this dinner was!

I’m off to catch a flight to Texas for National Training!  I’ll be there for a week.  I might blog, but I’m not allowed to take pictures there, so what’s the point!?  I will definitely be running and taking advantage of their super fancy gym and group exercise programs.  I’ve heard you can rent bikes for free to go exploring off campus, too.  I’ll let you k now how it goes! 


First day of work!

Yesterday was my first day of work!  It was a lot of orientation-type activities, so it wasn’t very intellectually stimulating or anything.  I met some new friends and got comfortable riding the T (subway in Boston).  My first day of work outfit was this red-orange top from J.Crew that my brother helped me pick out and a black pencil skirt from Banana Republic. Not pictured: black pumps.

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My hair ended up in a loose low messy bun, but I kept it down for most of the day! 

For dinner we made a pizza on our new pizza stone that Brendan got us at Target!  We used Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza dough, some jarred spaghetti sauce, shredded mozzarella, chicken sausage, and caramelized onions!  It came together pretty quickly!  I also chopped up another Italian chopped salad.

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We couldn’t get the crust on the bottom as crispy as we would have liked it.  Any suggestions?  Should we heat the pizza stone first?  How do you put the pizza on a hot pizza stone?