She who dares to stand where I stood.

I am BACK!  I am waiting to post some of the food and fun highlights after getting the pictures from my good friend Megan Christine, the same lovely lady who took pics from Galentine’s Day.  In the meantime, I will leave you with a few pictures before I post the full account!  Let’s just say I ate pizza for every lunch and had wine at every meal, except for breakfast!  To sum it up, I basically ate my way through Italy.  I did manage to get one run in, but didn’t bring my Garmin so I have no idea how far I went.  Back to marathon training this week!

I have to admit, that I had a moment in St. Peter’s Cathedral where I started to tear up because I felt so blessed to be there, and that I knew I wanted to travel the world and continue to create adventures for myself.  I have the marathon in San Diego in June, North Carolina in July, and want to plan an Alaskan outdoor adventure for my next trip.  However, Europe and Africa are still on my many list of things to do.  Who wants to start a vacation club with me?  I already know Megan and Olivia are in.  😀  Don’t doubt that I won’t make it to all these places.  I’m the one of the few people that I know who can accomplish everything I set my mind to, even if there are up and downs in between.  Staying in the moment and accepting every part of it is what makes the entire experience worth while.

Right now I’m experiencing jet lag and what I consider to be a vacation travel “crash” and feel a little sad.  I have been so excited for this trip for months, and I experienced it, lived it, came home, and woke up to several inches of snow and a pile of work that makes my head spin.  Thank god I know I have so many things to look forward to.  See?  The ups and the downs are what make it all worth it.  Ok, onto a brief recap of my stay on the Mediterranean.

Here we have me in front of the Trevi Fountain in Roma, Italia.  I threw in two coins, so, fingers crossed.
Then we have the town of Almafi on the Almafi Coast.
Next, we are onto a glass of wine and an entire individual pizza for myself in Positano, Italia.
Our group also took a ferry to the island of Capri.  My camera doesn’t do it justice.
Look at some of the graffiti found in the side streets of Sorrento, Italia, where we stayed for most of our trip. Amazingly cool! (Just like me, pfft.)

Below I’ve photographed the wine and caprese salad I consumed at a rest stop (can you believe it) on my way from the airport to Sorrento.  Autogrill!!

We also were given the opportunity to tour Pompeii, a city famous for its history.  It was developed Before Christ (B.C.) yet was not discovered well into the 18th century, after it was covered by the ashes of a volcanic eruption by none other than Mt. Vesuvius.

The three of us Americana’s on the way to dinner. The longer we sat at the bar, the more goodies the bartender adorned us with.  Oh to be blonde in Italia. The only thing it wasn’t good for was renting scooters.  Yep.  That’s right.  Olivia and I tried to rent scooters to do some exploring and they wouldn’t rent it to me.  Stupid.

I also dined on squid and pasta.  Nom nom nom.

Here I am in the town center of Napoli (Naples) where I did a jump for joy, hitting myself in the face with my scarf.  I am definitely pictured wearing the same jacket all week because when I overpacked I took out some key items just before leaving for the airport.  All of those key items were coats.  Um, hello donkey clown.

We also had the pleasure of going to a lemon/mozzarella farm.  Don’t tell customs I kissed some cows.  Well, I pet some cows and about ten million cats and dogs.  The family who owned the farm gave us a demonstration of how to make olive oil, mozzarella, and limoncello.  They then served us a ridiculous home cooked meal, with house made wine.  I told you I had wine every ten seconds.

Here is the very moment I started to feel a tear stream down my cheek while at the Vatican and St. Peter’s Cathedral.  
We had one night in Roma, and had the pleasure of quickly passing by the Colosseum and the Wedding Cake topper.  
As I was walking through a public garden in Sorrento, Olivia snapped a pic of me mid-spin among the lemon trees. 

Finally, our last night, we dined on the best Tiramisu I have ever had the pleasure of being introduced to.  The restaurant not only served amazing dishes, but also put on entertainment with local artists singing classic opera pieces.

We live in a beautiful world.
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Italia you are mine

I will be back in a week to share all my updates from Italy, especially the sights and food that I will undoubtedly indulge in from the Almafi Coast and Rome.  I am even visiting a lemon/mozzarella farm.  Stay tuned!  I will miss you all, but this is going to be one of the best experiences of my life! 

All you can do is laugh

Oh lord.  Lately things have been on a backslide. So I’m glad that at the very least, I know how to laugh. About everything. Its my best quality.  First off, I’m really excited by a very old song (2009) by The XX called Islands.  The XX is an excellent band.  Secondly, I’m doing a really crappy job of running this week but am ok with it, because I like to keep a thumbs up attitude.  Thirdly, I got my Christmas present from my brother’s girlfriend today, and I was so super excited to receive a handmade bracelet from….ITALY!

Then, to what to my wondering eyes should appear?  My hunter boots arrived in the mail, with eight tiny reindeer!  Yep, these were my Valentine’s Day present to myself.  Thank you very much! Look how marvelous they are!  I no longer will be wearing my little kid rainboots anymore.  I’ve graduated into adulthood.  

I’ve also taken the liberty to show you what the rainboots look like on me if I were french.  Because french girls wear trendy buns, and have straight bangs. Because….
I done got my hair did!  I’m not necessarily saying its exactly what I wanted, but its what I got.  Oh god, you’ve been a funny fellow these last two months.  Thank goodness we can have a chat at the vatican next week.  Olivia even suggested we light some candles at a cute little Catholic church overlooking the Almafi Coast.  Tee hee, I’ll be in Italy by Sunday!

Ahh, so I’m so off track with training, I know.  But! I have a lot of wonderful things happening in my life, even if it doesn’t feel that way 100% of the time.  Let’s remember kids what I wrote before Valentine’s Day!  Although we sometimes aren’t where we think we should be, we are exactly where we are meant to be.  I had been recently introduced to a commencement speech given by Steve Jobs (hailing from the Apple empire) to the students at Stamford University. Below, I have listed my favorite lines, and remind myself of these words whenever I start to feel a little “phooey”.  I fully believe in this way of thinking, and I try to remind myself that, in the end, it will all work out the way its meant to.  Even if I don’t get a run in for three days.  Even if work is hectic.  Even if I haven’t packed for Italy.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Ciao bella!

Tory Row

I’m not doing so good, pearl.  Honestly, what has been going on the last two days?  I haven’t had a moment to exercise because although a ton of wonderful things are coming into my life at the moment, they just all happen to be coinciding with the most stressful week at work that I’ve experienced in years.  Sigh.  At least I had a delightful evening with my favorite girls, at Tory Row in Harvard Square.  Here is a photo collection of the highlights.

We ladies split a few appetizers before heading into the main course, which included a house-made hummus, and a noshoba brook bakery baguette as well as curry apricot cheese spread and baguette.  Sara and I split two entrees which was a great idea.  Between the two of us, we indulged on a fennel agrodolce (tasted very sweet), with teardrop tomatoes, broccoli florets, and robiola (an italian cheese similar to brie) flatbread.   No offense to the veggies, but they were obviously not fresh, and most likely came out of a bag.  A frozen bag of veggies, how tres chic!  We also dined on grilled tandoori chicken skewers (one per person) paired with a lemon-tomato couscous and cucumber raita.  Es delicioso! 

We ended the night with the girls trying to figure out the bill, while I played with my camera to see if I could get any artistic shots of this flower.  I tried my best…I have a long way to go.  As for Tory Row, I definitely recommend it for its cheap eats and trendy atmosphere.  (Although, I bet it will be no where near as exciting as the food I get to fall in love with, while in Italy!)  Somehow I have to remember that I’m training for a marathon when my life gets this busy.  I have to make running a priority too!

The end of Stephanie’s vegan nightmare.

Well Stephanie successfully completed my challenge, in that by day four she was done being vegan. Hey, at least she gave it a shot!   It all came to an end when Elephant and Castle said, hey, have some french onion soup and pretzels.  I’ve been there, sister. Here’s her narrative!~
So it’s Monday, day four of back to normal life.  As I write this I’m snacking on my favorite gorgonzola crackers (from TJ’s) which have been giving me the stink eye from the top of the fridge for the past week.  Today I had the same oatmeal that I ate last week, but I got to have cheese in my lunch!  That’s what I missed the most last week.  Not bread, surprisingly.  Cheese! 
Overall, even though I had some tough times last week and eventually gave in before a full week’s time, I am glad I experienced veganism.  I’ve never put my body through something so restrictive before.  I am the type of person who spoils myself and allows myself treats and indulgences so it was really hard to tell myself I couldn’t have things when I wanted them. 

Here is a recipe of something good that game out of being Vegan: Cupcakes!

So they’re actually called Margarita Cupcakes but I had so many oranges that I chose to change it.  Here’s the recipe for what you ate on Sunday:
1/4 cup orange juice
1 1/2 tsp. orange zest
1 cup soy milk (or you can probably use almond milk if you prefer but it might affect the taste a little
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar (it’s only vegan if you make sure it’s a beet sugar brand)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-24 minutes.  I tend to eyeball things instead of timing though and it’s great as cupcakes or a cake.  For the frosting I just mixed 1/4 cup butter (vegan or non if you’re not in the vegan mood), 1 tbsp soy milk, 3 tbsp orange juice and 2 cups confectioners sugar.  If you want the frosting to be thicker just add more powdered sugar.  And there you go!
Last week definitely made me think about ingredients that you (well me) might not realize are in everyday foods.  I think going forward it’s going to make me very conscious about knowing what exactly I’m ingesting.  And that’s a good thing, so really this was a good experience.  Thanks for challenging me to do it!

Here picture of the faux meat that broke this camels back.
~This is Lauren again.  Just as an FYI, Steph thought this was disgusting and wound up giving me her chicken version that she couldn’t even bear to eat. BEAR or bare.  I’m not sure, actually I think it is bear. Anyway, I had it for a lunch today and it was awesome.  BOOYAH.  Vegan whattt!  I wonder what I’ll challenge her to next.

I think I have the perfect quote to send us out of this post….from my favorite kitten youtube video.  “I want pie.  I want beef jerky!”  We all just want a little meat…or maybe bone char in our sugar.  Mmmm.

It’s Galentine’s day!

I am too tired to post from the day, but here is a photo montage of our afternoon!  By the way, if you didn’t notice, I didn’t take these photos with my broken Canon (I did make the cupcakes though!).  Instead, the beautiful Megan Christine, who is a professional photographer, and one of my favorites, documented the evening with her super awesome fancy camera.  I will definitely update you when I get through this stressful week of report writing, Dinner with Cupid date, and packing for Italy!  (FYI, if you want to check out Megan’s blog, its listed below.  Website to come!)

Run lauren RUN

8 miles around the charles in 1:06:57.  All done before 9 a.m.! YESSSS.

Here are the splits! (How fast I ran each mile, on average).  Also, could the city of Boston start shoveling the sidewalks?  Because now they’ve turned into ice death traps.  By the way, the only people that said “Hi” to me on my run (I smile and say “hi” to everyone) were men over the age of 50. Pffft.  Next run I want to high five people, well maybe not really high five.  But continue to high five with a smile.

Mile 1-8:23
Mile 2-8:24
Mile 3-8:34
Mile 4-8:32
Mile 5-8:43
Mile 6-8:17
Mile 7-7:51
Mile 8-8:08

I started challenging myself toward the end of my run, which was even faster than the start!  I tend to set up mental goals to push myself, especially during times when my Ipod dies (yes AGAIN! I know! I think its allergic to the cold because it doesn’t die at the gym!).

Take care of yourselves loves!  I think the most important thing to remember during Valentine’s season is that whether or not you are single or in a relationship, be mindful and cherish the moments you are in, make each day new, remain positive that you are exactly where you are meant to be in this moment regardless of where you think you should be (positive energy attracts positive experiences), and keep working on the relationship you have with yourself.

Also totally loving Keane’s This is the Last Time.  Its old school circa 2004, but I forgot how much I love Keane!