Getting it Together Thursdays: Collect Moments, Not Things

What do you remember more – that amazing Spring Break trip you took with your girlfriends in college or the sweater you bought last week? If you’re anything like me, you don’t realize you own two-thirds of the things in your wardrobe, so it’s probably the trip.

I love to travel. I was bitten by the travel bug at an early age. I am very lucky and blessed that my family puts importance on spending time together doing things rather than buying things – while most people asked for a new MacBook for high school graduation, I schlepped my two-year old laptop to college and instead, asked for a trip to Europe. The laptop I eventually did have to purchase a week into school now lays forgotten and unused in my basement, but I still fondly remember visiting Versailles with my grandmother just about every day.

My friends often ask how I have money to travel so much – the simple answer is that I am really cautious about where my money goes: I pack my lunch everyday for work rather than buying it, I make my coffee instead of stopping at Starbucks for a latte every morning, I live at home (I know, this isn’t something to necessarily be proud of at 25, but I save so much money) and delete those sales e-mails. Think before you buy – do you really love it? If not, don’t buy it. That money could go to something more meaningful.

Maybe you don’t have the travel bug – you can still collect moments with your friends and family. Each birthday and holiday, I try to buy my friends and family something that requires us to spend time together. I bought my grandmother a spa package this Christmas, took Friend Emily (who seriously I have to have guest post about her Green Trekker) out to brunch and a mani/pedi for her birthday and bought tickets to a concert for Angela for all her hard work over the summer.

In college, I drove a beat-up Ford Taurus (because I was a terrible driver, it was purchased for me in perfect condition) and all I wanted was a new car. After a summer trip to Italy, my dad told me “I was going to buy you a new car this summer, but I decided the memories you would make in Italy would be worth more”. Think about that next time before you spend money – will you remember what you buy or will you remember that trip or event you are saving money for?

Chat with me:
Do you collect moments or things? (It’s okay to collect both :))

What I Ate Wednesday [4]: Savannah and Birthday Eats

Incase you don’t follow me on Twitter or Instagram, I spent the past weekend in Savannah. The last thing in the world I was going to do was spend my 25th birthday in Pittsburgh.

In early February, I received an invite in the mail to an award ceremony for my aunt who lives in Savannah on my birthday and knew it was a sign (she was named a “Woman of Distinction” by the Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia – little known fact, my family, especially my aunt, is super involved with Girl Scouts). I immediately called my cousin Jaimie who lives in Atlanta and we quickly planned a trip.

Since we arrived late Thursday and spent a few hours talking with my aunt when we got to Savannah, we slept in. There was a ton of fresh fruit so I had my favorite breakfast for my birthday – lots of oatmeal with fresh fruit and Greek yogurt (not pictured).

gluten free oatmeal with chia seeds and fruit what i ate wednesday | almost getting it together

My grandmother and aunts all have the same dishes. No matter where I am, I feel like I’m at home!

There was a luncheon for the awards ceremony, but nothing was really gluten-free so I picked at some grilled chicken and veggies. Totally forgot to take a photo and also it wasn’t photogenic. t was at the same table as all of my aunt’s girlfriends, many of whom I have ran half-marathons with in Savannah or Disney, so it was definitely fun. My aunt also did an Ellen-style selfie on stage… and I realized my entire family is selfie-obsessed except me.

family | almost getting it together

I look totally out of place with my cousins and aunt because of my dark hair and skin. Was I adopted?

Afterwards, we decided to go downtown and do a little shopping at my favorite store in the world, Paris Market (more about that on Getting it Together on the Road: Savannah, coming soon). I was hungry – verging on hungry, really – so we stopped by Zunzis and I had my staple salmon salad and one of Jaimie’s falafels that honestly was maybe the best falafel of my life.

Zunzis Savannah Salmon Salad Zunzis sauce What I Ate Wednesday | almost getting it together

Salmon salad from Zunzis with a bite of falafel off to the side.

My Aunt Sherry is a huge runner (I ran my first half-marathon with her on my 21st birthday!) so she signed us up for a Shamrock 5K that ran through the squares of Savannah. I was a little disappointed during the Savannah Half-Marathon that the race didn’t go downtown but after running approximately one hundred corners, I understand why.

I started scheming and thinking I had a chance to place in my age group. Never before (besides the AEO 5K we had at work this summer) have I been in the front of the pack (okay, top 1/5th of the pack) in a race. Eating a salmon salad an hour and a half before was a bad idea (I know better but my hunger got to me) and I definitely felt it around mile 1.5 (despite running a 7:42 mile two). I didn’t place in my age group, but I was in the top 15% overall and top 6% of women so I’ll take it. Also this time is off because I did not cross the start line at the gun – I was definitely sub-26.

savannah shamrock 5k | almost getting it together

THIS TIME IS WRONG, SAVANNAH.

savannah shamrock 5k | almost getting it together

I proceeded to never warm up that night after taking off my gloves, ear band and jacket.

My aunt is also gluten-free and told me about this new restaurant that had gluten free pizza called My Your Pie (JK on the my pie, I’m glad I fact-checked that). Your Pie is basically the Chipotle of pizza – you choose your crust (white, whole wheat or gluten free) then whatever cheeses, veggies and meat you want. I never eat pizza anymore (besides my 10-Minute Gluten Free Pizza), so I was pretty pumped to eat pizza on my birthday. Then I had to indulge because it was my birthday and eat a kid’s sized gelato – half pistachio and half dark chocolate.

what i ate wednesday my pie gluten free pizza | almost getting it together

Gluten free pizza from Your Pie.

what i ate wednesday my pie gelato | almost getting it together

Birthday treat – gelato from Your Pie.

So basically on my birthday I ate a ton and felt totally guilty on Saturday and had to run it all off (kind of… before I proceeded to drink a ton of champagne). This was really different for me because I feel like for the past few years I’ve had to go somewhere fancy for my birthday with my family and this year I just wanted pizza so I had it. This is basically a break-through with me eating things because I feel like I should.

Full Savannah recap coming soon!

And of course, linking up with Jenn from Peas & Crayons for What I Ate Wednesday!

Chat with me:
Have you ever been to Savannah? What did you eat on your last birthday? Is your family as cool as mine?

Getting it Together Thursdays: Goals for 25

Tomorrow I turn the big two five. I made the curve from early-twenties to mid-twenties (someone kindly told me last year 24 was mid-twenties so I took it). Every year I say “this is going to be my year”… and 24 definitely was not my year. I strangely think even numbered ages are bad for me (22 was alright, despite one pretty bad thing happening). Also according to the Chinese, the year you were born in (i.e. ox) is supposed to be a bad year for you. Last year was the Year of the Snake and I was born in the Year of the Snake so it makes sense.

year of the snake Philippines bohol island | almost getting it together

YEAR OF NOT GETTING EATEN BY A SNAKE. Philippines 2009, baby.

Anyway, 2014 is all about learning to set goals and figuring out how to achieve them. I think a mixture of 25 15 goals is attainable – some are little attitude or habit changes, others are things that are just perennially on my to-do list. Now that I have this blog about becoming an adult, I can check in on a goal or two each month so I’ll hold myself a little more accountable.

Note: I’ve been trying to think of 25 goals since January. I came up with 15. This gives me a little wiggle room and maybe I can find 10 new goals before I turn 26.

Goals for My 25th Year

Personal Goals

  1. My number one goal is actually not able to be posted up on my blog. If you know me, you probably know what it is. If you don’t, feel free to go to my About Page, send me an e-mail and ask.
  2. Go on a solo trip. I don’t want to be held back on adventures because I don’t have someone to go with. I actually already have this one planned – I’m going to surf camp in Nicaragua later this month! I want to be able to just go out surfing on my own (granted I’m by the ocean and not in Pittsburgh) so I figured the best way to really hone it is to go to surf camp.
  3. Get Italian passport. I’ve seriously been meaning to do this for like six years. I have Italian citizenship through my grandmother and it’s just a pain to deal with the Italian embassy. It’s in Philly, it’s open literally nine hours a week in total. My grandmother gave me the name and number of an attorney who will actually do all the paperwork for me – I seriously just need to get it together (pun not intended) and call. From my adventures in third world countries and desire to go to Cuba, sometimes traveling as a non-American has its perks.
  4. Run a marathon. This is the year I’ve finally decided I’m ready. If I don’t get in the New York City Marathon, I’m going to run the Savannah Marathon with my great aunt for her 70th birthday. I would have ran Pittsburgh but I’m running the DC Nike Women’s Half the weekend before and I really want to focus on doing well at that race.
  5. Take the GMAT. I’m not totally sure if I want to get my MBA yet, but just in case, this will be the year I take the tests
  6. Start/finish my novel. I used to think this was stupid and unattainable until I read The Happiness Project. If you write 1,667 words a day, you can have a short novel done in a month. I am going to self-publish and see if it goes anywhere from there.
  7. Go to Wanderlust/other yoga retreat.
  8. Read one book per month. 
  9. Start swimming again. I keep talking about it – I just need to do it.

Blogging Goals

  1. Redesign my blog for a more professional feel. Self-explanatory.
  2. Self-host my blog. Google Analytics would be nice.
  3. Aim for new content three times per week. I want to have new content more often that that, obviously, but I know for goal making you’re supposed to set attainable goals.
  4. Make a press kit. This is becoming my to-do list in a blog post.
  5. Apply for one new partnership opportunity/guest blog/free lance writing gig a month. If I want my blog to be successful, I need to put a little time and love into it!

Friends & Family Goals

  1. Spend meaningful time with my family at least once per month. I’m guilty of blowing my family off, screening calls because I’m busy or sitting at my grandparents house reading blogs. I seriously need to focus on them when I’m with them.
  2. Make time to talk to my friends. I am also guilty of saying I’ll call and never do. A lot of my friends live in different cities and are always there for me when I need them. I really need to make more of an effort to pick up the phone and talk to them every once in a while rather than texting.
  3. Reply to e-mails within 48 hours. Do you ever get an e-mail from someone and don’t want to respond right away so you can write a meaningful response and then totally forget to respond? Yeah, me too. I need to write a response, even if it’s short and sweet.

Today I’m linking up with Amanda from Running with Spoons for her Thinking Out Loud series since this post was basically me thinking out loud and I love reading her Thursday posts!

Thinking-Out-Loud running with spoons | almost getting it together
Chat with me:
What do you think of my goals? Do you make goals for yourself on your birthday – or New Years – or randomly?

How to Have a Successful Long Run

First off – I’m not a trained running coach, a doctor and my last science class was AP Biology in high school, so the below is what works for me. It might not work for everyone. I’ve been running for 11 years now so I have figured out what works best for me – and I’m still figuring it out every day – but this is what I’ve used to run my past successful four half-marathons in 2013. Also I don’t know what kind of shape you’re in – I have the mentality I can do whatever I put my mind to (aside from being taller than 5’0”) so basically I’ve developed and honed the “crazy runner gene” over the past 11 years.

There was a time in my life where I was terrified to run more than 5 miles. I thought I couldn’t do it. Then one day I had a lot on my mind and went and ran five miles and it was over before I realized what happened. This was in high school – and I still remember it 6-7 8-9 (crap, I’m getting old) years later.

The biggest hurdle of increasing your mileage for the first time is the negative self-talk. I’ve discovered the biggest part of forcing myself to go out and run double-digits in single digit temperatures and piles of snow is telling myself I’m good at what I’m doing, that I’m enjoying it and I’m fully capable of whatever it is I’m trying to do. Once you tell yourself that you’ll leave all the negative self-talk for another time, you’re overcome the hardest (mental) part.

Increasing mileage safely is really important.  I add 1-2 miles to my long run each week when I’m increasing my mileage. It works for me, but I also run 1000+ miles a year (rough estimate, but probably close to accurate) so I have a good base. Be sure you have a good base – you can easily run 3-4 miles – before you try to run 5 or 6.

Okay now to the fun part – fueling! Eat a good breakfast. What works best for me I’ve discovered is oatmeal with nut butter and some banana. Be sure you didn’t get wasted the night before and drink a lot of water the day before and the morning of.

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Nut butter – essential to long runs. Deliciousness courtesy of Angela.

I also take homemade energy bites or Larabars with me – maybe 100-200 calories worth – if I’m doing anything over 10 miles. If you’re starting out – take it with you for 6+ miles. Sometimes I’m more fatigued than others. Eat something when you’re starting to feel tired – I can tell that my legs feel heavy and I eat something and I get a pep back in my step.

almost getting it together national oatmeal day trail mix energy bites

Make my Trail Mix Energy Bites to take with you on your long run.

More important than food is water. I used to never take water with me, which was dumb. When I get dehydrated I start to get really negative. When I start to have negative thoughts, I drink more water – whatever, it might be all in my head but again these are tips that work for me. I have a little 10 oz Amphipod I use. On really hot days and really long runs (think over 12 miles) I either keep more water in my car and make my route stop by there to refill or stop and get water. (One time I stole a little Gatorade out of the machine from Sheetz when I was running near my grandparents house because I was DYING and they didn’t have a water spigot. I didn’t have any money with me. I still feel bad about it… kind of.)

Another important thing for keeping your attention in the run and not giving up and walking home is to have an interesting route. I love trail running because of my cross-country background so usually I do 90% of my runs on a trail. Sometimes if it’s snow covered or I need a change of scenery I go somewhere else.

Have a good playlist to listen to. I recently listened to Madonna’s MDMA Tour Live on Spotify ~1.25 times on a 15 mile run. It actually went by fast in my head because I was jamming out to all of Madonna’s classics. (And let’s be real – she’s great thinspiration fitspiration because she’s in great shape for being in her 50s. Say what you want about her arms being veiny – she’s able to werk it on stage still. You can’t do that without being fit.) I also recently discovered Podcasts and those keep my mind off the insane amount of time I’m spending in the snow, dodging ice and cars. I recommend The Dinner Party.

Finally – have a delicious meal to look forward to. Don’t go eat 1,000 calories in one meal and undo all the hard work you did, but eat something warm (if it’s winter out, duh) and nutritious. I love having a huge salad with some sort of treat – healthy muffin, kabocha, or my 10 Minute Gluten Free Pizza. I also have an almond milk latte after every long run. I don’t know why – it’s just my thing and I look forward to it so it helps me get through it.

Again – these are things that work for me. They may not work for everyone and don’t go trying something new on race day. Rookie mistake.

Chat with me:
Do you do long runs? What are your ways of coping with a long run (or super intense workout/bike ride/swim/whatever)?

I’m joining Lisa from The Skinny on Health for her Fit Tip Tuesday. Head to her blog to see more fit tips!

Fit Tip Tuesday Button

Getting It Together Thursdays: JOMO [Joy of Missing Out]

It’s not a secret that I was once completely out of control, but in the exact opposite way I am now. The fact that I went to a party school wasn’t a happy coincidence. I don’t remember a lot of details about college and it’s probably because I was regularly ingesting 1,000 alcohol calories 3-4 times a week. Friday mornings routinely consisted of me being hungover in bed watching all the great Thursday night TV I missed the night before hanging out at the same bars with the same people.

I’m comfortable talking about this because it was never a secret to my family – as long as I was “safe” (i.e. not drinking and driving, not passing out, etc. etc.) and kept my grades up, it didn’t matter what I did (despite getting guns pulled on me in the Philippines and eating in Nigerian kitchens – that didn’t elicit smiles and laughs from my parents). From the time I was 14 until I was halfway through being 24, I wasn’t comfortable spending a Friday or Saturday at home – and I could probably count on two hands the number of times I did. No, I wasn’t necessarily out getting wasted all the time, but I was at least out doing something.

 

Italian tomatoes | almost getting it together

Fun fact: If you’re a loud, drunk American your Italian neighbors throw tomatoes at you.

 

I spent the first three-quarters of 2013 traveling just about every weekend and staying in half-marathon shape (and running them, of course). I was always jealous of people who were able to enjoy being at home – I was never that girl. I wondered what it was like to enjoy laying in bed watching a movie or reading for pleasure or any of those normal things normal people do. I blamed my need for traveling and going out on my boundless energy and sense of wanderlust, but let’s be real – I just had FOMO for ten years before it could be self-diagnosed.

Then something happened: I realized I was absolutely miserable going out. I was uninterested in a glass of wine before it was finished more often than not. I knew how many empty calories were in those endless shots people kept buying. Unless I had a reason to be out (i.e. seeing some guy I liked), I found that I was a lot happier at home reading blogs, catching up on all the things I didn’t have time for during the week and not gaining back my college weight by drinking like an Irishman.

 

kennebunkport maine | almost getting it together

I love Maine because you can just relax and unplug.

 

Last week, I found a blog post I missed from Lululemon in which my disease of homebody-ness was diagnosed: JOMO, or Joy of Missing Out. The author, a former magazine editor turned freelance writer, gave up fancy events and parties for the joy of spending time at home. Huffington Post even declared 2014 as the Year of Missing Out.

In October-November 2013, I began to be more mindful of what I was doing – more mindful of how I was eating, more mindful of how I was spending my free time, more mindful of putting down the phone and enjoying the moment. I’ve never been one to have my finger on the shutter constantly when traveling or somewhere, so deep down I knew how to live in the moment.

I live in Pittsburgh – the bar scene is going to be the same people, same places, different night – I know I’m not missing out on anything terribly cool. Yeah, Sidney Crosby might be at the bar – but he probably is not going to come up and ask for my hand in marriage once again. I’m happier binge watching Scandal and waking up in the morning to go to yoga or for a long run than I am spending my entire weekend hungover in bed and eating greasy food, only to feel immensely guilty Sunday night.

Much happier running 13.1 miles on a Saturday morning than being hungover.

Much happier running 13.1 miles on a Saturday morning than being hungover.

For now, I’m turning down invites if I don’t want to do something. I used to pride myself on never canceling on people and forcing myself to do everything, but now I pick and choose the things that will make me most happy.

Chat with me:
No questions, just your thoughts.

Getting It Together on the Road: Montreal [Do]

Like I said in my eating in Montreal post, Quebec is all of the great things about Western Europe and France and none of the crappy parts (minus sub-zero temps and wind chills, brrr). All those things people go to Europe to see – churches, castles, cool old buildings – you can see in Quebec (especially Quebec City, which is third on my next-trip to Canada list after Toronto and Vancouver).

To forget you’re in Canada for a moment (but honestly, why would you you want to – maple syrup, everyone’s nice, SIDNEY CROSBY – the country is a utopia, basically) and see where Celine Dion was married, head over to the Basilique Notre Dame de Montreal. I’ve been to a lot of churches and basilicas in the world (Notre Dame, the Vatican, basically every other church in Italy, one or two that I was kicked out of in The Philippines for not having on enough clothes, and even the ruins of St. Paul’s in Macau to name a few), and this one was one of the best.

They had an organist playing Christmas songs and we made an offering and lit some candles for a couple special people in our lives and ventured back out into the cold.

basilica de notre dame montreal | almost getting it together

Lots of colors for a Basilica and a cool star ceiling. I dig it.

basilica de notre dame montreal | almost getting it together

Besties do Basilica.

From the Basilica, you can walk down to the Old Port and Old Montreal. We spent an afternoon there, ice skating and wandering in and out of shops. There is some place to ice skate on every single corner in Montreal, which is a real surprise for a moment until you remember hockey.

old montreal | almost getting it together

Junior World Championship. You would [sadly] never see this in the States.

old montreal | almost getting it together

Snow makes everything feel festive.

 

One morning we decided to hit up a yoga class to get our vinyasa on. Using the Lululemon Om Finder app (I seriously recommend having it if you travel + love yoga) we found Enso YogaDisclaimer – Enso is expensive for a drop-in ($25 USD + tax). The space is really cool and really nice – it reminds me of YogaWorks in NYC. Their studio is heated but the class was pretty restorative to me rather than a crazy hard workout, like my studio in Pittsburgh, (Amazing Yoga, if you’re ever in town) but it was just what we needed after walking around and being cold (and towards the end of my 35-day run streak).

If you don’t have a mat, don’t worry. Enso provided a mat, towel, block and afterwards you could use their showers. Enso is right on the corner of Rue Peel and Rue St. Catherine, so you can do a little post-yoga shopping at all of the stores that you probably have in the States if you live in a bigger city.

For a bird’s eye view of the city, you have two options (that I know of): you can go to the top of the observation tower at the Olympic Park or you can drive to the top of Mt Royal to Summit Park. When we ventured out to Olympic Park the tower was closed (despite them allegedly being open until 6 p.m. according to their website), so the next day we drove to the top of Mt Royal.

mt royal montreal | almost getting it together

Mt Royal selfie.

mt royal montreal | almost getting it together

Montreal through an Instagram filter.

mt royal montreal | almost getting it together

Does this parka make me look fat?

 

Olympic Park is somewhere that we also didn’t get to check out to thoroughly but I will make a point to get there next time I’m in Montreal. I’m totally into eerie, abandoned things (I want to visit Chernobyl, is that weird?). There was a lot of folly around the Olympic Park in Montreal – the stadium is empty after the Montreal Expos were relocated to DC. You can actually see a lot of creepy abandoned Olympic venues on Huffington Post.

There was in true French-Canadian fashion, a strange Christmas market at Olympic Park. Not deterred by plans gone awry, Carly and I purchased marshmallows and had fun acting like 6 year olds. Also on my life bucket list is Quebec Winter Carnival. We learned about it in French class in high school and I was so intrigued by something so insane.

olympic park montreal | almost getting it together

Marshmallows are insanely delicious in case you forgot.

 

The art scene in Montreal is pretty big. There are a ton of museums, exhibits and galleries. We went to the Museum of Contemporary Art to see an exhibit on aborigines and hip-hop, Beat Nation. It was pretty awesome, to say the least. There’s a student discount, too, if you’re twenty-four and have no shame about using your ID that hasn’t been valid for two and a half years (not pointing fingers here…).

Nearby, they have an installation called Montreal en Lumiere. There are thousands of reflectors with colored lights in the boulevard that you can walk through that feels like wheat fields.

montreal en lumiere | almost getting it together

Carly in the “light” fields because she looks like a model and is built like a model and I’m not.

montreal en lumiere | almost getting it together

Light festival selfie.

 

If you want to check out a food market, we went to Marche Atwater. It’s a great place to wander around and buy meat and cheese and bread for a picnic.

marche atwater montreal | almost getting it together

Marche Atwater

marche atwater montreal | almost getting it together

Looking at food works up an appetite.

 

Davida from The Healthy Maven gave us a ton of awesome recommendations for bars and we made it to two – Apartment 200 and Big in Japan. Apartment 200 feels like your parent’s lake house/cabin of your dreams. They have a ton of games – Canadian Foosball, air hockey, Pac-Man, skee ball – all surrounded by big wood tables and huge leather couches. The scene is a little fratty so it feels like your favorite college bar, just elevated and cooler than some dump that you think is awesome is terrifying to be in when you’re sober.

apartment 200 montreal | almost getting it together

Canadian foosball – hockey.

 

Big in Japan was really hard to find… probably because it is a speakeasy. Everything I read said to look for a red door. Fun story, that door is now painted grey. We walked up and down the street for five minutes until we just tried a door then immediately noticed it had Japanese characters. You can buy a bottle of Japanese whiskey and if you don’t finish it, you write your name on it and they screw it in to this thing in the ceiling for the next time you come back. I would have taken a photo but I was trying to not look like a tourist.

big in japan montreal | almost getting it together

I did sneak this pic of our drinks, though.

 

On New Year’s Eve, we went to the port (bundled up in a million layers) to see the fireworks. It’s the first time I’ve done something like that for New Year’s (re: remembering what midnight was like). Afterwards, we went to Pub Sir Joseph to get our champagne drinking on. The DJ was playing all the best hip-hop of the early 2000s, minus R. Kelly Ignition, but we called it a night around 3:30 when Celine Dion “My Heart Will Go On” started playing. How Quebec.

montreal | almost getting it together

My alcohol tolerance is clearly down. Skirt: Francesca’s. Shoes: Ivanka Trump. Top: Isabel Marant pour H&M

montreal | almost getting it together

Night: over.

 

Before we left, we also had the opportunity to meet Davida in person! I basically have a girl crush on her that just increases my blogger crush on her. She is super awesome and I can’t thank her enough for all her recommendations and for meeting us!

davida the healthy maven | almost getting it together

Blends! New Year’s Day, ignore my dark circles.

 

I have some other exciting trips in the works for the first half of 2014 but don’t want to jinx any of them yet!

Chat with me:
Where are you traveling next? Where do you want to travel next?

Getting it Together on the Road: Montreal [Eats]

I wanted to do one big overview post about Montreal but with my short attention span, I start skimming through long posts on blogs so I’m breaking this up into things to eat and things to do/see. 

Confession: I want to be a travel writer. After girlfriend-in-tow of some hot rich guy traveling the world, my only responsibility to look pretty and wear flowy clothes, my dream job is a travel writer. I want to be the less-weathered, younger, female Anthony Bourdain. And I guess I can. So to start that off I present my new series – “Getting It Together On the Road”. I’ll probably back-track on some of the places I’ve been at some point (ideally).

My best friend Carly and I met in Italy nearly six summers ago. We love recounting the story to each other about how it was just “meant to be”. We have literally been through everything there is to go through with a person and at the end of the day, other than my dad and grandparents, Carly is the only person who puts up with my insanity and still loves me. She also loves travel as much as I do and is exceptionally fun to travel with. Enough sentimental stuff.

We decided after a strain of not-the-best New Years that we should just go away because no matter what, you’re somewhere cool and we’ll probably get a great story out of it. Originally we were thinking Jamaica but $600 plane tickets are not worth it for Jamaica – we had been talking about Montreal for months so we finally pulled the plug to do it. Here’s what we did in Montreal that was cool and some suggestions for if you ever find yourself in ‘Diet Europe’ (All of the taste, none of the crappy-ness about Europe.) Also, mad thanks to the lovely Davida from The Healthy Maven who not only gave me lots of great Montreal recommendations, but also met up with us before we left!

Eat
Truth be told, we didn’t have the chance to go to all the top Montreal eateries – many were closed for the holiday. We did eat very well, however, and had the chance to explore some lesser talked about restaurants.

The night we got into Montreal we were hungry but wanted to explore the city a little. This was before we spent a day out in the Montreal cold and ultimately basically gave up on taking the subway/walking and started driving everywhere. The owner of the bed and breakfast we stayed at told us that many places were ‘apportez votre vin’ (bring your own wine for all of my non-French-speaking friends) which we can definitely get down with.

We wandered into Les Infideles which looked cute and French and was pretty crowded, basically fulfilling our three checkboxes for a dinner place. We split a prix fix (thus keeping costs down and trying lots of things and keeping portions all in check with one fell swoop – honestly, I prefer splitting meals because then I don’t overdo it) and had a goat cheese salad, deer medallions and a chocolate mousse – all were amazing (but my dad’s venison is beyond compare). They also had horse on the menu which we thought was a joke – I’m an adventurous eater but horse is where I draw the line.

 

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Goat cheese salad from Les Infideles, Montreal.

 

les infideles montreal | almost getting it together

Carly and I split this plate then I started eating before remembering to take a pic – whoops.

 

les infideles montreal | almost getting it together

Chocolate mousse and coffee from Les Infideles.

 

You can’t miss a bagel from St. Viateur’s Bagels. I read all about the bagel history in Montreal prior to going and basically all I could think about before going to St. Viateur’s was going to St. Viateur’s.

Montreal bagels differ from NYC (and all other bagels) because they are baked in a wood-fired grill so they are wood-smoked and baked at the same time. They are smaller than your average bagel and sweeter (they are boiled in honey-water instead of just water) so you can vaguely feel a little less guilty about indulging in one. Traditionally they are covered in poppy seeds or sesame seeds.

 

st viateur's bagels montreal | almost getting it together

Ask for your bagel to be “hot hot” for it to come fresh from the oven.

 

St. Viateur’s cafe locations have really amazing sandwiches and salads (I had a delox salad, first thinking it was detox but wondering how salmon and capers were involved in a detox… then I thought it was deluxe until I got home and got the lox part. And I’m vaguely a writer – hah!). Be sure to get the chocolate cream cheese if you’re into sweet smears for your bagels – Carly and I both agreed it was the most amazing cream cheese ever and was basically like chocolate frosting.

 

st viateur's bagels montreal | almost getting it together

Jury’s still out on whether this was chocolate frosting or chocolate cream cheese.

 

On New Year’s Eve we were planning on going to Olive et Gourmando for lunch but after we trekked down there, we discovered it was closed for the holiday. We ended up wandering into Marche De La Villette and splitting a charcuterie plate. The place was pretty loud and crowded and the service was kind of terrible but the rabbit tartine and duck pate were delicious so I’m willing to overlook it this time.

 

maple latte montreal | almost getting it together

Can’t leave Montreal without a maple latte – almond milk, of course.

 

We also stopped by Cacao 70 one night for a late night “dinner”. Cacao 70 specializes in all things chocolate (think fondu, milkshakes, chocolate tastings, hot chocolate and dessert pizzas). I felt it upright to leave Montreal without crepes, so I had savory crepes and possibly the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had (it’s neck-to-neck with hot chocolate from The Greenbrier).

 

savory crepes from cacao 70 montreal | almost getting it together

Green vegetables are as hard to come by in Montreal as they are in France.

 

cacao 70 hot chocolate montreal | almost getting it together

Hot chocolate from Cacao 70 – so rich I only managed a 1/3 of this mug!

 

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