Golden: 28 on the 28th

Tomorrow, I turn 28.

That’s right, it is what some refer to as a “golden birthday,” which is when your age and day of birth match [defined here on Urban Dictionary]. I only learned about this recently, and was happy I hadn’t missed the golden opportunity to pretend my birthday this year was a momentous occasion (see what I did there?! golden birthday… golden opportunity…). While I don’t think I’m “old” (I joke about being old but don’t truly think you can say you’re old and believe it until you’re, well, old), I’ve realized that I’ve completed a good portion of this thing called life, and took a little time to reflect on it. I suppose as you do get older, you start to think about where you’ve been, where you’re going, and everything in-between. Reflections seem to happen during those milestone moments – a birthday, a wedding, the start of a new year. So rather than try to ignore it, I decided I’d do something productive!

I’ve seen plenty of people make lists for things they’d like to accomplish within a set period of time, and I find myself thinking, “that would be cool to do!” but never actually doing it myself. But as I enter what is decidedly my “late twenties,” I realized there is no time like the present to do what I want. Within reason, of course. So yes, I created a short list of things I would like to do during my 28th year. They don’t really have a theme, and are random things I started to jot down when this idea first popped into my head. I’m sure I’ll add to the list as the year goes on, but the idea is to embrace doing the things I love; especially those that make me a little uncomfortable. And yes, this little graphic took me a lot longer than I’d like to admit.


I’m starting the celebration a little early today by going for a run and having lunch with Ashley and cutie-pie Jennie. I’ll officially kick off  my 28th year tomorrow morning with a 14 mile long run, followed by a much-earned free Starbucks drink (I’m thinking a Trenta will be in order). Beer, ice cream, and general relaxing will also be involved, and Sunday will include a trip to my hometown municipal pool, and a delicious dinner (to be determined where) with my mom and dad. Here’s to my golden year!

Tell me…
Have you had your “golden” birthday yet?
Any fun birthday traditions?


Thanks for all the wonderful birthday wishes on Thursday! Because one day of celebration isn’t enough, I was able to extend the festivities throughout the weekend.

After a half day of work and a trip to the doctor’s (I finally have my diagnosis – more on that later!), I got together with my family for dinner and fro-yo in my hometown. Only in Westfield, New Jersey would it be appropriate to have two self-serve fro-yo establishments within blocks of one another. We decided on Yapple Yogurt for two reasons: the inside of the store is cute, and they have salted caramel pretzel flavored yogurt. I didn’t even need to question my decision.

Each year on the Friday after my birthday, I know I have plans. Ever since my teammate and friend was tragically killed back in 2006, we all get together for a golf outing to support causes that were near and dear to his heart. It’s great to see familiar faces that I spent so much time with in college, and it’s also an excuse for everyone to go out in Philly afterwards. Since it’s close to my birthday, I always get suckered into birthday shots (not that I’m complaining), and no matter how old we get, our old college selves come out to play for a bit. This year we headed to City Tap House in University City, and thanks to their rooftop lounge we got to watch the awesome thunderstorm from a cool location (we tried to sit outside, and the 97 degrees at 11pm thing wasn’t happening).

After a quick 4-mile run on Saturday morning through University City, it was off to The Pop Shop in Collingswood. If you are ever in the South Jersey/Philadelphia area, you NEED to go here. Aside from their soda shop throwback look, they have tons of different grilled cheese sandwiches and fries available for you to devour (and don’t forget about the flavored soda or milkshakes). They also have vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options, which I think is pretty neat. Being the bad food blogger that I am, there are zero pictures from The Pop Shop. Assume it’s because I spent the entire time shoveling food into my mouth. The rest of Saturday was spent trying to get things together for our Eurotrip, and an early bed-time for Sunday’s long run.

The weather has been nice and toasty the past few days, so getting up early to run on Sunday was a must. Because I’m going on vacation and I won’t be able to get in a super-long run while I’m away, I figured I’d split the difference between this past Sunday’s scheduled run and next Sunday’s, which left me with 11 miles. I luckily ran the majority of the miles on a shade-covered path, but that didn’t stop me from looking like I jumped in a pool when all was said and done. Thankfully, I was able to literally jump in the pool when I got home.

The weekend wrapped up with a seriously delicious dinner – Caribbean Jerk Salmon Bowl with Mango Salsa, courtesy of A Pinch of Yum. This was so easy and flavorful, and I had enough leftover to justify bringing it for lunch the next day.

While the weekend was jam-packed, the next few days are going to be even more-so. I’ve got a lot to do in the next two days before heading to my parents to run the annual Firecracker 4-miler, and then jet off to Europe! I have plans to blog while across the pond, but I’d say the odds are forever not in my favor (like what I did there?).

Tell me: what did you do this weekend?

Wrong Side of 25

I remember turning 21 like it was yesterday (well, it was only 5 years ago). I woke up early, excited at the prospect of legal drinking awaiting me and joined my dad on a walk with our black lab Kennedy. We discussed how it felt to be 21, and he jokingly said “well, it’s all down hill from here!” which is something my uncle firmly believed in and would tell anyone approaching the age. For me, it was a milestone that only meant I was beginning my transition to the real world. But, being  a young 21 year old, I didn’t think much of it at the time. Not to go into details, but I certainly enjoyed myself that weekend!

To be 21 again… with my two co-captains!

Anyway, it’s crazy to look back and think I turned 21 FIVE YEARS AGO, today! That’s right, I’m officially 26 as of this morning. There was definitely a point at about 23 where I started to stop wishing my birthdays away. Growing up you’re so concerned with what’s coming next – when you’ll be old enough to drive, to drink, etc., that you miss all the milestones in between, until they’ve already passed. I guess you can say I’m at a point now where I want to stop and smell the roses. I’m thankful for every moment – good and bad, and look forward to all of them (the good just a bit more than the bad, though!).

My sister and I… about 15 years ago.

My twenty-fifth year was my most memorable yet. Sure, I didn’t get my license, become a legal drinker, or graduate from college. But, I ran my very first (and second!) marathon, I spent the year working on my fitness and joined a fabulous group of likeminded people at FitFluential, my blog has started to find it’s grove, I finally finished my teacher certification, and I’ve enjoyed my time with friends and family, celebrating their milestones and each other’s company.

So, how could I top 25, you ask? Especially now that I’m over a quarter century old, and officially on the wrong side of that quarter? Well, I have big plans, people! Aside from trying to figure out just what it is I want to be when I grow up, I’ve got plans for my third and fourth (and possibly fifth) marathon this year, as well as celebrating a lot of marriages of close friends. I’m sure there will be much more in-between, and I’m looking forward to it. But first on my list is to devour some ice cream cake!

How do you celebrate your birthday? 
Did you ever reach a point where you became thankful for each birthday, rather than expectant?  

Birthday Cupcakes

If you’re a somewhat regular reader of this blog, or even if you simply look at the tag cloud on the right of the blog, you know that I love cupcakes. So it’s no surprise that I made sure to have plenty of cupcakes in the days surrounding my birthday!

On Sunday, the fiancé and I headed into the city with plans to go to a museum. Unfortunately we forgot about The Pride Parade, so our plans were interrupted. We certainly had plenty of entertainment watching the parade, though. On our way home we stopped at a bakery called Sweet in Hoboken for some cupcakes. Since we live in New Jersey, we try to find the easiest (and cheapest!) ways to get in and out of the city, and on Sunday we figured driving to Hoboken and parking there would be our best bet.

Sweet is cute and simple, and more importantly, has delicious cupcakes. We happened to get there at 5pm when they were closing at 6pm, so all of their cupcakes were by one-get one free! They have both regular and mini sized cupcakes, so the fiancé and I figured it was the perfect opportunity to sample a lot of what they had to offer. I also appreciated the fact that they were looking to get rid of the cupcakes, meaning they  make them fresh every day – no one likes a cold, stale cupcake! For a mere $4.75 the fiancé and I each got to sample a red velvet, vanilla, mocha, ganache, coconut, and fluffernutter (only 4 pictured below). They were all delicious! I wish I had them in the full size so I could have enjoyed even more of them.

For my birthday on Tuesday, of course I had to have cupcakes to celebrate. So, my family brought over four Crumbs cupcakes to try (King Cone, Baba Booey, Three Muskateers, and Peanut Butter Cup). Between the six of us (my parents, sister, her boyfriend, and the fiancé) we each sampled each of the cupcakes – YUM.

Not only did we have the Crumbs cupcakes to enjoy, but I also received cupcakes from Serial Baker! Now this girl is serious – she dropped off birthday cupcakes for me at 10:30p on the eve of my birthday. I was so zonked from my morning run that I was already in bed, so my fiancé actually received the package for me. I had a recipe for a twist on S’mores cupcakes in my head, and she was able to bring them to fruition. A great bakery could always be able to bring to life the recipes in your head. I had mentioned I had a recipe for them and wanted to make them, but just didn’t have the time or energy, so I opted to make two simple pies and bring them to work. So, she decided to make them for me! I have such good friends – look at that bad boy. [The picture is actually from Serial Baker’s post, but was taken by my fiancé – circle of blogging!].

Needless to say, my birthday was pretty sweet! It was made even sweeter by the awesome gifts I received – a no-slip yoga towel, running socks, a yoga mat carrier, a cupcake stand, and a Marc Jacobs bag I’ve been eyeing up for a few months. Next up in terms of celebrations are my bridal shower, bachelorette party, and of course, the wedding. I can’t wait!

Quarter Life

Today, I turn 25.

It’s hard to believe that I’m 25 – sometimes I think to myself there’s no way I’m THAT old (yes, I know that’s not old at all), and other times I think to myself it’s amazing I’m still so young. Either way, today is my birthday! I’ve always loved my birthday, but who doesn’t?

Growing up, I was never in school to celebrate my birthday. In second grade, though, we made it all the way to June 27th because there were horrendous storms all winter, and we had to make up all our time off. Because I couldn’t have the in-class birthday celebrations on my actual birthday, during the last week of school my mom would always bring in watermelon that we would enjoy as a class outside. I always thought it was so cool to do something different, and looking back, my mom certainly had the right idea by giving the kids watermelon instead of cookies, cakes, and candy! My birthday parties were always a blast – roller skating, bowling, going to the pool, movies and pizza… my parents always made sure I got to do what I wanted.

Birthday party at an ice cream parlor. Checkout my sweet scrunchie!

Throughout high school and college, my birthdays started early, with 6am long course practice where I ususally had to do something “fun” to celebrate, such as a 400 free for time, or maybe some laps of birthday butterfly (while everyone stayed on the sidelines using a kickboard to splash). Even when I turned 21, I was up at the crack of dawn to get my swim in.

All the swimming paid off - Landmark Champs '08

I always loved the fact that my birthday was in the summer, and I never had to spend my day at school or in class. Even when I was working during the summer, I somehow always managed to get my birthday off. Since joining the real world, though, I’ve spent most of my birthdays at work. It’s really been quite a different experience. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m older, because I’m at work, or a combination of the two, but my birthday just doesn’t have that same pizzaz it used to. That isn’t to say I don’t love the day!

So today, aside from work, I’ll be celebrating with my wonderful fiancé and family, with dinner and of course cupcakes. I know this year is going to be epic – I’m getting married, running my very first marathon, and most importantly, really planning on loving every minute of it. I can’t wait to see what the year has in store for me!

Bring it on 25!

Sisterly Love

Sometimes it seems as though my sister and I are years apart, while at other times it feels like we’re much closer in age. There are times when she acts like the adult and I’m the child, and vice versa. The truth is, though, we’re 6 years apart (almost exactly since we were both born in June), and even though I grew up wishing I had sibling(s) closer in age, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Growing up with someone so much younger than me was actually a lot of fun – sure, we didn’t get to share clothes until she was in high school and I was already in college, but it was fun to bring around my “little sister” who was just so darn cute.

First day of school!

Today, my “little” sister turns 19 – not so little anymore! It wasn’t that long ago she was introducing her self as “Just Kate,” because people couldn’t understand her name wasn’t a nickname for something else. Or that she was obsessed with Gulla Gulla Island and Barney. When for her second birthday she got a Lamb Chop plastic plate (which my parents still have!), or when she turned four and we celebrated at McDonalds in the ball-pit. When she made it through the awkward middle school years beautifully, and was the swimmer to beat throughout her elementary days all the way up to her very last swim season as a senior in high school. And most recently, when I saw her off to college, hiding my tears as I hugged her goodbye, remembering her tearful goodbye to me, 6 years earlier. Oh how time flies! Now here we are just three months before my wedding, with her as my maid of honor.

So happy birthday, Kate! We’ve had our moments, but you’re the best sister a girl could ask for.

Pumpkin Soup and a Kitchen Farewell

About a year ago Serious Eats reviewed an instant pumpkin soup by Maggie and Mary, so I jumped at the chance to buy it. Yes, it took me a year to do so, but I finally tried it. Being our last real night in our soon to be old apartment, I wanted to keep it as simple as possible, so along side the soup we had grilled cheese. I sautéed some leftover red onion from the Spicy Quinoa we had, but that was the extent of my culinary adventure for dinner.

The soup was okay. I’m not sure if it’s because of how long it sat in my cabinet, or if it’s really just because it was powdered soup. It would probably be a whole lot better if there were some veggies thrown into it (maybe carrot, celery, even potato). But for something so quick and easy (add 4 cups of water and simmer for 20 minutes) I can’t complain too much!

My co-worker and bridesmaid’s birthday is Friday (happy birthday Kierstin!), and she absolutely loves pie. So, I figured instead of doing my typical cupcake, I’d make her a pie! I went ahead and dug up an easy favorite – Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Pie! I made it on Pi Day this past year, and being it requires no baking and the mixing of only two ingredients, it was perfect. Hopefully she shares, so I can enjoy a sliver after we have our celebratory Thai birthday lunch!

My Coworker and I in our Best Friends Costume!

After we finished up with dinner and dessert, it was time to finally pack up the kitchen. All that’s currently left is our coffee maker (like we can move boxes without coffee!) and some perishables in the fridge. My parents have been kind enough to help us out, so they’re bringing over a cooler Saturday morning that we can put our refrigerated items in for the move. That’s the great thing about moving only 15 minutes away – we didn’t need to completely clean house in the food department. I have to say, our new kitchen is A LOT smaller, but it also has a dishwasher, which will be great for my fiancé. It’s overall a nicer place, too, so I have to take that into consideration. In the end I don’t think I’m really losing any counter space, though, which for me seems to be the most important anyway.

My next post will be from the new place, and I’m so excited to share it with you! It’ll take a few days before I’m fully settled to get cooking again, but I’ve got some really yummy recipes queued up!

A Foodie Birthday!

Ahh yes, birthday time. Monday (6/28) I celebrated the big 24 (boooooring!), and received a lot of foodie (specifically baking) prizes. Yes, you read that correctly. I do not call gifts presents, rather prizes – it sounds more fun!

Most of the food related gifts actually came from my co-workers, and they’re smart; hopefully their prizes will get me in the kitchen, and therefore bringing in left over goodies to share with them. Good thinking! Anyway, in addition to the amazing MacBook from my fiancé that I’m currently using to type this up, an awesome new Coach bag, Forever21 gift card, shirt and earrings from my parents and sister, I got the following foodie items:

– A sweet set of baking dishes, and a Pyrex measuring cup, which we somehow don’t have. This is going to come in handy!

– I’ve been eyeing this cupcake recipe book for awhile. Everything is SO cute. I hope my lack of artistic ability will some how not transfer over to these cupcake decorations

– I’ll be making these cupcakes this weekend to bring to a 4th of July BBQ. Hopefully they are yummy!

– How can you go wrong with this?! Now I have an extra cupcake pan (having only one is annoying), a mini cupcake/muffin pan, AND a carrying case? SCORE!

So as you can see, I was spoiled with my foodie (and non-foodie) prizes! By the end of the week I’ll hopefully have used the pie dish, cupcake mix, and cupcake carrier. I’ll definitely be reporting back on those!

As for the eating aspect of my birthday, that was equally delicious. It started off before work with some Dunkin Donuts (iced coffee and a jalapeno bagel twist to be exact). It was later followed up with a junior homewrecker with tofu burrito from Moe’s Southwest Grill. Then, going for a double-dose of Mexican (how could I resist?!) the family took us to Jose Tejas, one of my favorite Cajun Creole/Mexican joints (you can read about the restaurant here)! After that we had some cake – a chocolatey moussey ganachey coconutty slice of heaven. Needless to say I had to roll myself into bed after eating all that!

Stay tuned for the results of all my awesome prizes, and happy nomzing! Oh, and thanks to everyone that made my birthday special!!

There’s a first time for everything – Giant cupcakes and Korean BBQ!

This particular post is two-fold. Both topics, however, surround the celebration of the birth of my wonderful fiancé who’s birthday was this past Thursday. 🙂

On Wednesday, I headed over to my parents house to make a GIANT cupcake as his birthday cake. I had seen commercials and magazine ads for the cupcake tin, but was afraid to ever get one. I finally caved and bought one, along with a real pastry bag and some food dye. Since it was a Wilton pan, I had high hopes. Baking the cake itself was easy – I used double chocolate fudge on the bottom, and French vanilla on the top. I don’t think I waited long enough for the bottom to cool, though, before slathering it with coconut-pecan frosting. From there, I added the top, and with the help of my wonderful sister, frosted it with vanilla frosting that we had dyed a light blue. We finished it off with some green/teal dots, and white sprinkles.

Luckily, I thought to take some pictures before packing up the cupcake to bring it home. Now, I only live about 20 minutes away from my parents. But in that time, despite the amazing packing job my mom did, the cake wound up like the leaning tower of Pisa. Of course my fiancé was extremely supportive and said he loved the cake as it was. I was able to save some face because it tasted delicious! I definitely think next time will be more successful, and I’ll make sure to bake it where I plan on keeping it!

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Then on Thursday, the fiancé’s family came up from South Jersey, and we went out to dinner. One of our co-workers has been raving about Korean BBQ for quite some time. So, we decided we’d give it a shot – we’re always up to try something new! Once his family arrived, though, his mom was less than excited to try it, so we figured we’d just get Hibachi instead. The first restaurant we went to cooked it in the back, so we decided against that. The second restaurant we went to said they had just seated a large party, so hibachi was out, but we could have sushi with a 45 minute wait. After wasting about an hour, we settled on our original pick, Korean BBQ.

At that point we were all ravenous and it was getting late. So we headed over to Woo-Jeon on Route 1 in Edison since it was literally 5 blocks away from our apartment. We walked in, and were immediately seated which was awesome. Each table had a little circle in the middle with a grate on top. Once we were seated, the grate was removed and replaced with a cook-top, and the flame was turned on.

From there, we were like little lost dogs. The menu was extensive, but didn’t give much description. We had all decided we’d get the BBQ, so we just needed to decide what type of meat we wanted. Despite having watched the Earthlings trailer earlier, I went with Bulgogi, which is marinated tender beef. We actually all wound up getting that. We felt silly ordering the same thing, but we figured we’d know for next time to get a little more experimental.

Once we ordered, they almost immediately started bringing out side dishes. Honestly, I knew about four of them. There was kimchi, lettuce, seafood cakes, bean sprouts, a delicious potato salad w. apples, and rice. That’s really where my knowledge ends. I’d love to know everything that I ate, because it was so incredibly delicious. There wasn’t one thing I tried that I didn’t like. They even brought out an egg soufflé on the house!

I really loved the whole cook yourself concept. That way, you’re able to control the pace, portion, etc. The only room for error is not cooking your food enough. But it would be no different from cooking in your very own kitchen. Plus, all of the side dishes can be eaten as they are, so you really just need to focus on whatever type of meat you choose (beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, cows tongue (!!), etc.)

When the meal ended, we were all stuffed, and collectively decided it was a great experience, and something we’d all want to do again soon. I’ll definitely be a bit more adventurous in my main course selection next time. It’d be great to go with someone that really knows their stuff, too. That way, we can try new and different things – everything everyone had around us looked equally fantastic.

Unfortunately I failed you all once again, and didn’t think to take any pictures. I had contemplated saving this post until after I visited a Korean BBQ again, but I just couldn’t wait to tell you all how great it was. So I suppose the only way for you to see the deliciousness is to experience it for yourselves!

I’d recommend taking a look at to find some local Korean BBQ’s and read the reviews. If it’s good, believe me there will be A TON.