Wednesday, April 29, 2015

April Recommendations - Steph Cubed Edition

Skimmers, recommendations are in bold. Anything that's colored text is a clickable link. Aside from me, this month you get recs from Steph at Insert Classy Here and Steph from Not Entirely Perfect.

It's a triumvirate of Stephs. A Stephanie bonanza, if you will.

 Both of these ladies are on my daily reads list, so do yourself a favor and check them out.  Links to their blogs and social media accounts are beneath their photos.

Follow Steph from Insert Classy Here  on
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1. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. It is the cheesiest show that centers around an Indiana girl with a strange background moving to New York City. Ellie Kemper's character is similar to her roles in the Office and in Bridesmaids, so if you like her there, you'll enjoy her in this.

2. A Library Card. Everyone should have one and use one. I feel stupid that I waited a year after moving to get one.

3. The 30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge. They run it 4 times a year and will send you an email each week with the next week's recipes and grocery list. It's easy and they all taste good.
Via - disregard the date, I just picked the image out. Go click on the link and read it!

4. Yes to Blueberries Age Refresh Eye Firming Treatment. You can find it at Target. This tiny bottle has made the little wrinkles around my eyes disappear. It smells good and feels good and you only need a tiny bit.
5. Pacifica Natural Minerals Lipstick. I have tried so many different kinds of lipstick and they all felt wrong. This was my last attempt and I fell in love. 

Follow Steph from Not Entirely Perfect on 
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1. WalkForADog App. If you ignore all the rest of my recommendations, that's cool, just do this one. Sign up, enter your pet's info (or pick a pet from them if you don't have one), and start walking. This app tracks your walks and donates to an animal rescue organization of your choice every time you walk a mile. They pay out a couple times a year directly to the organization, and they more people walking for your rescue, they more money they'll get. And it's totally and completely free to you. Yes, free. And you can even track your walks around the grocery store. Save all the animals! Think of all the money you'd donate if you hit your 10,000 steps a day. Do good things. (Might be listed under WoofTrax in your app store.)

2. Dandelion Root Tea. It smells and sort of tastes like drinking grass, particularly if you let it get too cool. But this stuff is wonder tea, so it's worth it - helps you naturally lose extra water weight (like icky bloating during that time of the month), cleanses your kidneys, protects your liver, lowers high cholesterol, cures hangovers....just do it, drink the tea.

3. EveryDollar Budgeting Tool. If you read my blog you know I swear by YNAB software for my finances. It's a game changer. But it does cost money. Dave Ramsey came out with a new budgeting tool called EveryDollar and it's totally free. It runs much like YNAB and it also has a phone app. If you're looking to get a handle on your finances, you'll love this option.

4. Tangerine sorbet champagne floats. I may be a die hard lover of winter, but I can get on board with spring/summer if it involves tangerine sorbet champagne floats. Also, there's nothing wrong with just buying the sorbet and pouring champagne over it, if you ask me.
5. Homemade dog treats. Get ready for the most adorable dog site - Doggy Dessert Chef.  So many treats you can make at home for your pup! Healthier, no preservatives, and made with love. And there's options for every skill level. Start with Peanut Butter Banana Pupcakes. P.S. I made my dog the meatballs and my boyfriend ate them. So, this is good stuff!

1. e.l.f. eyelash curler. The curve is similar to the holy grail of eyelash curlers by Shu Uemura and at $1, the price of the e.l.f. is $19 cheaper.  Find it at Target.

2. Food Should Taste Good Sea Salt and Brown Rice Crackers. I can't believe I like these as much as I do.
3. M-A-C Fluidline liner. I pink puffy heart this. I suck at applying eyeliner and this is super easy even for eyeliner impaired people like myself. Kristi used it on me at Aubrey & Stephen's wedding and I bought it toot sweet after that. I have this black and shade, which is a deep green. Edited to add: you need an eyeliner brush to apply this.
4.  A! Absolute Make-Up Cleansing Tissues with Cucumber Extract. You can get these on Amazon, and the link suggests, but they're like $10 with shipping. Hell no. I grab these at Marshalls and TJ Maxx and hoard them when I find them. They're $5 there. They are great for the nights when I don't feel like washing my face, which is ah, most nights. I have sensitive skin that hates everything but loves these.

5. Centering yourself daily. By your method of choice, but hopefully it's something pure within yourself. We each receive zillions of messages a day and it can be hard to remain present and focused amidst all those messages. Centering yourself helps with that.

Thanks to Steph & Steph for indulging my Recommendations from Steph Cubed dream.

What are you recommending this month?

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 Linking up with Shanna for Random Wednesday

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The other side of fear

All of the problems we have or the seemingly insurmountable hurdles we face have one thing in common: fear. Sure, there are other factors at work, but the river that runs through them all is fear. 

There's fear of failure, of course, and fear of change. Failure and change are facts of life, so we all just need to get right with them. We'll all fail. We'll all make the wrong choice and have to deal with the consequences. We'll all go through changes. We will survive our failures and we will adapt to change.

The other big fear is one you can actually control - the almighty fear of what other people will think. This drives so much behavior and it's just crazy. I just want to tell you - you have to stop giving a shit what other people think about you, your decisions, your likes and dislikes. 

You can't be a selfish asshole trampling all over people, but you also can't exist to make others happy. You can't stay in or put up with situations or play roles that don't serve you and your purpose here. But I have to, you say. No, you don't. But we choose to stay where we're stuck and blame other factors or people because it's easier. Because we're afraid to be fierce with ourselves: to examine our lives and see the good and bad and the role we play in both. Because we're afraid to own our life and everything it entails. Because we're afraid of what lies on the other side of fear.

But if we can just get past that fear, we can live the life we really want. What lies on the other side of fear is freedom. Sweet, sweet freedom. Freedom to do what you want and pursue your purpose. Freedom to sit back, settle into and be truly comfortable in your own skin.

The key to your happiness is not in someone else's pocket. It's in your own. When you're on the other side of fear, you know that. You're not afraid to use that key to open all the doors. 
We only get this one life, and as long as it's not harmful to others we should live the breadth and width of it, being ourselves and not giving a shit what anyone thinks about it.

Fear is an obstacle that stands in the way of progress. Move it out of the way and go forward with your eyes on the prize - the life you want to lead. Stronger and wiser within yourself. Be who you are. No fucks given.
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Monday, April 27, 2015

TWTW - the last one in April

Friday night I was worn out. Totally. So I came home, I did my weights, vacuumed, did some laundry, then started doing a bunch of other shit. I meant to be in bed at 8 and got 100 second winds. I hate that. Other than that it was a low key night. Oh, and I sent MFD to the store for five things. This is what came back. Life lessons, my friends. Life lessons.
Saturday was a slow start. After I got my exercise in, I tried on every dress and pair of shoes I own and began the twice yearly complete wardrobe purge and reorganization I go through. This is still in progress as of today (Monday). It's a pain in the ass.
When I got tired of that, I went to get a manicure (Zoya Odette) and pedicure (OPI Senorita Rosalita - I can never wear this polish without thinking of my wedding, it's what was on my toes that weekend), then came home and read some mags in the sun.
We had a delicious dinner at my parents' house including a strawberry trifle dessert I wanted to eat 50 helpings of and which MFD did eat 50 helpings of.
You do not know what your patience level is until you go sneaker shopping with MFD. While he browsed interminably I left You Are Beautiful stickers around Dick's Sporting Goods like a dork. I also laughed uncontrollably at this picture on Instagram. MFD was all that's not that funny. Come on! Yes it is.
Sunday was the March of Dimes March For Babies. Team Eva the Diva rocked it. It was awesome to see a thriving, happy Eva next to her storyboard and it was a really nice day for a long walk for a good cause.
The umbrella is up, the new spring mats are out at both doors (both from Target), and the flowers are from Wegman's.
Weekly food prep: zucchini pie and berries for breakfast, orange peppers, carrots, and almonds for snacks; orzo salad with EVOO, caesar chicken thawed from the freezer, spinach, grape tomatoes, red onion, capers for lunches; and dinners are salmon, roasted potatoes, baked chicken, rice, and steamed veggies. Still working on that freezer and pantry cleanout.
This weekend in mail: Penzey's spices and this awesome Darth Vader tank top. Darth Vader is my alter ego. Are we calling that spirit animal these days?
This weekend in pugs...I can't even with Geege's tongue. The cutest. And Gus and Mae are now co-sleepers.
Sunday evening consisted of changing sheets and sitting on my ass. I didn't even make dinner. I ate Wegman's wings and animal crackers. Whoops. I was in bed before 8 and asleep before 10. It takes me a while to get used to so much fresh air again after a long winter. It tires me out.

I totally screwed myself for tonight, I have too much to do now. On a Monday. Barf.

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Did you enter to win a $50 Target gift card Friday?

How was your weekend? Inquiring minds want to know.
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Linking up with Biana at B Loved Boston for Weekending

Friday, April 24, 2015

Being Ladies Who Lunch

One of my favorite things to be is a lady who lunches. Today another Philly-area blogger, Nicole from Nicole Marica, is joining me for a virtual lunch and we want to hear what you have to say. Please do butt in on the conversation with your opinions and answers by commenting below! And enter to win a $50 Target gift card while you're at it. What better way to spend a Friday?

If we were having lunch at my house, I'd probably serve us... 
Nicole: Realistically? You'd get boxed mac and cheese. Unless I had a heads up then I'd serve something based on your favorite foods or a theme. The way to a person's heart is their stomach!

Steph: It totally is. I think I'd serve spinach mac & cheese cups, a big ass salad, and ice cream sundaes. 

The most recent beauty aid I started using and can already recommend is...
Nicole: Yes to Tomatoes moisturizer. I love the way this stuff smells. I just started using it so I don't know how its going to fare acne clearing wise but it does moisturize very well!
Steph: I use Yes to Cucumbers moisturizer! For years moisturizer was my biggest cause of face rage. I could never find one that works. I've been using this one for over a year and it's great. So I guess I recommend that. Wouldn't it be great if absolutely everything came in trial size so you could test before you buy? I got some trial size Tarte stuff from the Sephora VIB Sale and I'm looking forward to testing it out. I'm not far along to recommend yet. 
However, I'm always in search of the perfect...
Nicole: Face wash that will get rid of all my pimples and even out my skin tone. 
Steph: Aren't we all! I've been using L'Oreal Million Lashes for a year and I think my eyelashes are tired of it. Can that happen? I'm looking for a cheap replacement. 

TV! Right now I'm loving...
Nicole: There are so many...Lip Sync Battle, Sherlock, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones. We'll be here all day if I keep going on. 
Steph: Breaking Bad is on my list. One day I'll get to it. I've not watched much TV recently except for Bloodline on Netflix. And Criminal Minds. I can't quit that even though it's way played out. 

If there was a TV show about my life, I think my role should be played by...
Nicole: I would like to say Emma Stone or Anna Kendrick but I'm pretty sure both girls are way funnier than me. Probably more like someone like Reese Witherspoon without the star power. Any idea who that might be? 
Steph: Hmm...I think Emma or Anna would be good as you! Hell maybe Reese herself is free. We can ask. I'm actually really bad at this question. Is it cheating if I say I want Shannon Doherty to play me as Brenda Walsh? Probably. I'm going to go with Tina Fey because, well, she's Tina Fey.

And my husband's would be...
Nicole: This is a really tough question. He'd have to be really kind, very likable, funny, handsome, and also play off exasperated husband well. Maybe someone like Ryan Reynolds? 
Steph: Ryan Reynolds sounds like a perfect fit. I'm going with Michael Rappaport. He's funny and weird just like MFD. Also I haven't seen him around lately so he's probably not too busy and maybe we could get him for a steal.

But never mind the TV...I'm reading...
Nicole: Right now I'm reading Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum. I only just started it so I'm holding out judgment but it does jump around a good bit and the beginning is slow. A few friends have raved about it though so I'm going to keep trudging through it. 
Steph: I'm still pissed that there's a book called Hausfrau that was not written by me. Rude! I hate when books are slow and I start to feel like I need to hang in there. That's one of the kisses of death for me. I'm reading The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, recommended by a few people on the Show Us Your Books linkups.

Something I always see people doing but have no desire to do is...
Nicole: Skydive. No thanks, I prefer not plummeting to my death. 
Steph: Hahaha. You sound like my Mom. Whenever it appears on one of my lists she's like please don't do that. Sorry Nicole and Mom. I'm doing it. I have no desire to ever climb mountains and see photos of myself hanging off the face of a rock cliff.
Via / Via 
But then I think I might like to try...
Nicole: I'm willing to try almost anything once, but if I had to narrow it down, I think hiking up some volcanoes in Hawaii, or diving down a waterfall (safely) would be fun to try.
Steph: Is it possible to dive down a waterfall safely? I'm being serious. That could be my thing for what skydiving is to you! Hiking up a volcano in Hawaii is a good one though. 

I love long vacations, but I'm a big fan of weekend trips too. Some things I have coming up are...
Nicole: I'm trying to convince my husband to do a quick weekend trip to Ohio, I think he's avoiding answering me since we just got back from a weekend trip to Chicago, haha. Also, for my 30th in September, I want to take a day trip to Baltimore. 
Steph: It's nice to live so close to so many things, isn't it? East Coast rules. I'm heading up to NYC for a quick in and out dinner and a show in May, so great to be able to do that. I'm going to go to my aunt's lake house Memorial Day weekend and I think the weekend after because MFD can't go Memorial Day. I also have two girls' weekends in July! 

My packing philosophy for weekend trips is...
Nicole: It starts out with pack smart and small but eventually I end up packing everything. The best laid plans....
Steph: I hear you. For me it depends. If I'm driving I have no problem throwing everything I own in my car and taking off la di dah as I please. When I'm flying, I'm more focused on wearing pants more than once and limiting shoes. 

If I was President, I'd immediately...
Nicole: Hire some really intelligent, experienced people to fix our health care, student loans, the budget, the war, and everything else. No one person can do everything!
Steph: Just co-sign my name to your answer, okay? Oh but first I think I'd institute a better vacation policy and maternity policies so we can really BE a nation that believes in family-first and not just say we are. I'll wait for all the free-enterprise capitalism rules down with government people to come and tell me why I can't do these things. Sue me! This is pretend. I'm making my first move for the people.

Not like we have to pay you to have lunch with us, but a $50 Target gift card is up for grabs. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Currently - April

Taking...A lot of walks at lunch (see photo above and typically eleventy billion photos on Instagram). 'Tis the season - it's finally pretty warm, no coats are needed, and the bastard humidity hasn't hit yet. Last week I walked over to the library to pick up books only to find out it was closed. If it would've been 30 degrees and overcast, I would've been pissed. Since it was 70 and sunny, I was just happy to be out walking.

Freaking out...because I did something totally out of character this week. We saw a Living Social deal to South Africa on Tuesday and booked it on Wednesday for travel in January. A few days in Cape Town and then a few days a game reserve in Limpopo Province to see the big animals. I am the person who researches to death and plots vacations three years out. This wasn't even on the radar. The deal was good and MFD has been talking about going to Africa for 20 years. He said just do it, and I had heart palpitations all day yesterday, I'm not even kidding, but I just did it. Spontaneous feels like a straight jacket to me. It's much more suitable on my husband. When the price is right and the stars align, sometimes you have to YOLO. zillion iced coffees a day. Okay two, at least, in my DD refillable cup. And even if I get three? It's like three cents more than one large iced. Ridiculous. My DD people are like family. We see each other twice a day.

Wishing...Yard Crashers would come crash my yard. Should I spend a lot of time hanging out in home improvement stores to increase my chances of this happening?

Keeping a list...of all the pricey leather things I want. I already sent MFD a text telling him to bring extra cash to London next year for the little case of gorgeous on the bottom left. Even though I really want it now. I'm Veruca Salt.

Wearing...Too many clothes. Exercising a lot is great, right? And great for increasing your laundry.

Hating...that my work shoes are starting to stink. It's sweaty, smelly feet season. "Hurrah," said no one ever.

Reading...Books and ignoring magazines. My magazine stack is towering.

Not regretting...Cutting cable. This Sunday marks 30 days since we ditched Comcast and I haven't missed it once. 

Watching...Bloodline. What a weird and intriguing show. I like the cast a lot. Welcome back, Coach Taylor. I've missed you on TV.
Loving...that my Sam's Club card is now on my phone. Yay technology. impromptu visit from Lori this past weekend.

Trying...something new in the Men Can't Ever Find Anything game. Last weekend, whenever MFD asked me where something was, I simply didn't answer him. And what do you know? He looked where it's stored and he found it.

Counting down...0 days until my haircut and color thank you tiny baby wash that gray right outta my hair Jesus. I've had grays since before I turned 22. Last week, just over a month into turning 38, I discovered my first gray hair at my temples. That was a blow, I won't lie. Anyway, the fabulous Kristi at Sensational Scissors will fix this tonight. Three days until the March of Dimes March for Babies with Team Eva the Diva. Click here if you'd like to donate.

Laughing at...Blame my Veruca Salt reference above. I feel a Willy Wonka blog post coming on.

Now you - lay some of your currently items on me.

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Linking up with Kristin and Joey for Stuff & Things

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The things I keep

As you know if you are a regular reader, I'm big on purging and organizing, I often walk around the house giving possessions the side eye. Do we need you? Do we use you? Do we love you?

The other night as I was dusting the dining room, my eyes fell to a set of dishes in the china cabinet. I'm so used to them being there I don't give them a second thought. My Grandmom bought them for me a ways back in her retirement community's shop. She told me she thought of me when she saw them. I don't need them, use them, or love them. But I've kept them without once thinking about getting rid of them.

Why? I'm certainly not trying to summon her back from the dead and being ever the practical person, she would absolutely tell me to get rid of them. They weren't even hers, so they don't hold sentimental value for me. But I don't get rid of them. Just like I don't get rid of the afghans I don't use that my Mom Mom crocheted that sit in the basement in a picnic basket.

I often tell other people to get rid of things that don't serve them but I rarely mention that I keep some things that serve no purpose and that I don't love. I have an under the bed box that holds paper memories in the spare room and we have these things around the house that remind us of people who are no longer with us. I consider the sentimental stuff we own manageable. Everything has a spot and most of it is on display. It's not overtaking our home, stealing our air, or making us hoarders. I'm good with it. I just want to put it out there that I have this stuff too. Not everything has fallen victim to purging!

Might I someday get rid of this stuff? Sure. But that day is not today. 

What do you keep?

p.s. Every day is Earth Day, friends! Some things we do at our house to be more eco-minded: 

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 Linking up with Shanna for Random Wednesday

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Holiday Double Cheese Scalloped Potatoes

Who's the genius who forgot to take a photo of this dish? Trust me, it looked and tasted good.
Meanwhile, enjoy this potato stand-in. 
In our late 30s, we've cut out a lot of the crap in our house because our asses don't need it. Holidays are a whole different ballgame though. This dish is holiday fare, through and through. MFD always requests it at Easter. He loves the scalloped potatoes and I refuse to use the box, so this is where we're at with that. If you're on that same wavelength, save or pin this for the future!

Double Cheese Scalloped Potatoes

by Life According to Steph
  • 2 TBS chopped fresh dill
  • 3 TBS chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 lb Yukon gold potatoes peeled, thinly sliced, 8 cups
  • 2.5C fat free half & half
  • 1TBS ground mustard
  • 1.5TSP salt
  • 1/4TSP pepper
  • 2.5 cups shredded sharp cheddar
  • 2.5 cups shredded havarti dill
Preheat oven to 325. Coat a shallow 3 quart baking dish with cooking spray.

Combine dill and parsley in a bowl and set aside. I use a mandolin for the potatoes but you can use a knife as well - just make sure they're thin.

In large pot, combine potatoes, half & half, mustard, salt, and pepper. Over medium high, bring just to boil, stirring occasionally, and cook about five minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer half of the potatoes to the baking dish. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of the dill/parsley mixture, then add 1 cup of each cheese.

Top with the remaining potatoes, a few spoonfuls of the half and half mixture around the edges, one tablespoon of the dill mixture, and the remaining cheeses. Use as much or as little cheese as you want.

Bake until tender and golden, 40-45 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining dill mixture and serve.
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Holiday food fare:
Creamy, dreamy, cheesy...yes.
Then stick to salad.
It's a jolly holiday with you, Bert.
A very jolly holiday with youuuu.

I can't help it.

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Martinis & Bikinis

Monday, April 20, 2015

TWTW - spring things

Friday night I was a whirling hausfrau. Nothing in my path was safe. Laundry, dishes, purging, putting out fans, setting out hats and sunblock by the back door...I did it all. Then I painted my nails (karmish sutra by Sally H from The Sisters Wexler).
I also made 25 turkey burgers with goat cheese and spinach in a cast iron skillet. Do you know how long that takes? A long time. Do you know how smoky your house gets? Pretty smoky. Thankfully MFD was out for the night so I didn't have to hear complaints. While doing that, I did some weights, made egg muffins, breakfast muffins to freeze, and cucumber salsa.
Saturday I hosted Ladies who Lunch at my house. On the menu: cucumber salsa, turkey burgers topped with shredded lettuce and tomato, pasta salad with pesto/mozzarella/tomatoes, salad from Jenn, fruit from Melissa, wine from Debbie, and cookies from my mom and Sam's Club. Lori was also there but missed the photo op! We chit chatted the afternoon away and it was lovely.
Melissa brought me these awesome Buddhas for my continues! I know, you're like STFU about your birthday already. Sorry, I can't. I love them and can't stop staring at the little Buddha statue.
Saturday evening we jackassed around outside and with the dogs.
Saturday night Lori held down the fort with the dogs while MFD and I went to see Mark's bands Gringo Motel and Mercury Radio Theater at Bourbon & Branch in Northern Liberties. We have many talented musician friends but Mark is the one who plays in the most bands by far. We were lucky to see two of the bands on one stage on Saturday night for The Bourbon Experiments. It was a fun night. It's been a while since I've been down in Northern Liberties. It's crazy how much that area has changed.
Sunday I was out and about with my fairy godmother Lori all day and we had a great time as always. We hit HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, Target, and Red Robin for lunch.
It would be nice for you if you read a blogger who staged photos nice nice against whiteboards but alas, today I am not that blogger. My haul included my favorite face wipes, a mug (duh), e.l.f. mascara, a journal with one of my favorite quotes on the front, leopard cupcake liners, a super true print, Nordic wear cupcake pans, quinoa, a faded print dress like I wore in the 90s, and a pajama tank and capris. I didn't get anything Lilly Pullitzer at Target. On purpose.
Weekly food prep: egg/cheese/ham muffins and grape tomatoes for breakfasts; turkey burgers on sandwich thins, cucumbers, and snap peas for lunches; carrots, grapes, and bananas for snacks; dinners - pasta with broccoli, shrimp, garlic, and EVOO; roasted potatoes, onions, and pork tenderloin with steamed veggies; and salmon, rice, veggies.

Sunday I was in pajamas by 4 and did nothing else productive all day. I was in bed by 5:15 screwing around online and reading. Then I didn't go to bed until midnight. Fool.

Other weekend things:
- Super deluxe weather Saturday. Spring!
- MFD's cousin and my good friend Gail celebrated another year of fabulousness on Sunday. Happy happy!

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Another great and busy weekend. I was very pleased to see my girls, to finally see a few of Mark's bands, and for Lori's impromptu trip down.

However, my early to bed laziness last night, no exercise on Saturday or Sunday and the everything I ate this weekend makes me happy to get back to a routine today. My house and fat ass are glad too.

What were your top three things about the weekend?

Good luck Boston Marathoners & supporters today!

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Linking up with Biana at B Loved Boston for Weekending

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