Charleston South Carolina: Day 2

In true Werkin fashion, all of us woke up before 8am… did you expect anything else?

My dad had already left for a run (and God bless him because the humidity was ~80%) so I got ready and headed to the gym for my workout! 30 minute treadmill intervals, followed by bis, tris and abs– i felt pretty good!

Afterwards, I showered up and met mom and dad at the pool (Mom has to cop her spot!!!) We were all a little hungry so we walked up to The Hudson Cafe, a small shop in the hotel that served breakfast. Dad and I got scrambled eggs and bacon, and Mom got her signature bagel with bacon and cream cheese.

We took about a 2 mile walk on the beach. It was during high tide and the waves came in so far!  Ive never actually seen such a drastic change in the water levels; in the afternoon, the beach looked SO much bigger it was like night and day

It was decided that today was going to be our “exploratory day” of downtown Charleston. So we headed up the the room around 1, I did some work for my online class, and we left around 3:30!

Surprisingly, it didnt take very long to get into town from Isle of Palms. I was so excited to finally visit. Ive seen pictures of the city, but to see it in real life… it was beautiful. The three of us walked around the historic district, and down by the Waterfront Park. It honestly looked like a scene from a movie.

I wasn’t joking about the humidity. It was so hot out, so we decided to take a break and stop at a rooftop bar. We walked into Vendue, and took the elevator up to the roof. We had a couple drinks while we decided where we wanted to eat for dinner. After looking through a few menus online, we opted for Blossom, which was convenient since it was maybe 700 feet from the bar we were currently at

Looking at this restaurant from the outside, it doesnt seem like much. But appearances are deceiving! After sitting down, our waiter greeted us. He was phenomenal, like best service I’ve ever had. He was helpful and very knowledgable about the menu. We ordered some wine while we looked over our dinner options.

For an appetizer, we chose the Prosciutto Wood Oven Pizza. It came with prosciutto (obviously), pecorino, mozzarella, and basil infused olive oil. Delicious. No other words. I feel like with all that was on that pizza… it was really hard to go wrong.

For the main course, I went with the Grilled Scallops with creamy white grits, wild caught shrimp, mushrooms, spinach, and lobster butter. It was by far my favorite meal of the whole week. The texture of the grits was to die for, and the sea food was all cooked so well. My dad picked the Grilled Swordfish, rice and beans and lima beans. The man is STILL talking about this fish. Mom decided to go with the  Blue Crab Ravioli with porcini mushrooms, sweet corn, spinach, and Parmesan cream. At first, she wasn’t sure, but after they cooled down a bit, she said they were excellent.  We passed on dessert tonight, and headed back to the island.

We sat out by the pool again to listen to some music but the storm clouds were rolling in! We hurried back up to the room to avoid getting rained on!  But we had such a great day downtown, I really couldn’t wait to go back!

 

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Charleston, South Carolina: Day 1

Charleston South Carolina– a place that was definitely on my bucket list, but i can cross it off now! Needless to say, I was super excited to visit. Ive heard only good things about the city and I couldn’t wait to experience it for myself. My family and I actually stayed in Isle of Palms, so we got the best of both worlds– the beach and access to the city!

We arrived in Isle of Palm late morning/early afternoon. Our room wasn’t quite ready yet, so we took a look a round the resort to get out bearings. We stayed at Wild Dunes, and let me just say, this place is absolutely BEAUTIFUL. There are beach houses that line the boardwalk that lead up to the ocean!

It was a little overcast. but we decided to lay at the pool while we waited for the call about our room. After being awake since 3am… I fell asleep in the chair. Whoops! I woke up about an hour later, and met my dad at the poolside bar. This is my first family vacation since turning 21 and let me tell you– it rocks. The fact that waitresses can’t  take my wine glass away at dinner anymore is the best feeling in the world… but anyway!

Like I said, it was a long day. So when it came down to picking a place for dinner, we went with a small restaurant in Mt. Pleasant called Long Point Grill. I hadn’t really eaten all day and I was pretty hungry.

I ordered the Grilled Short Ribs that came with mashed potatoes, asparagus and a port wine jus. The ribs literally melted in my mouth. Mom ordered the Shrimp and Grits (all of out first time trying it!) and Dad got the Sirloin Steak. Everything was great and it was so nice to just relax. For dessert, we all split the key lime pie.. just what we needed for the end of the meal!

After dinner, we took a little walk around down by the water, and then headed back to the hotel pool to sit and listen to music. When it came time to turn in.. lets just say I slept fantastic.

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My Body Is No One Else’s Business

It’s kind of upsetting that this has to be said, but its true.

I didnt know that my body was something that I had to hate, criticize, or be embarrassed  of… until I was taught that I was supposed to. I could have gone through life without giving the fact that my thighs rub together a second thought, but society robbed me (& all of us) of that privilege. Oh, I dont look like the model in the picture? Then I better kill myself at the gym, and give up carbs and obsess over every little thing that does or doesnt go into my mouth, and basically drive myself crazy until I look absolutely, barbie doll perfect? Wrong.

So you’re telling me that we have to deprive myself to live up to someone else’s standards of beauty? That its a requirement for us all to be a size 2 to be valued? Last time I checked, thats ridiculous.

I dont see why I need to feel ashamed that I wear a DD bra, or that I have stretch marks. It makes zero sense. Why should we have to apologize for our bodies?  My body is no one else’s business. Just like your body is none of my business. I dont want to be told that I can only be happy with myself if I’m trying to fix how I look.

Think about it: ask almost any woman at any given time, and I bet you that they are trying to lose weight or gain muscle, or *insert crazy trend here*. Point is,  we’re always after something that is so unattainable, but the media guilts us into feeling like we aren’t good enough . Spoiler Alert: you are more than  enough.

I am me. If I decide that I want to change, then that is my decision. For me. To make myself happy. Not to fit some “ideal standard of beauty”.  Because, like I said, the only person whose business it is is mine.

Social House 7

The tradition still stands, and it has come to be one of my favorites. I just wrapped up my third Christmas break, and of course, that means my back to school dinner in Pittsburgh

. Last year, we chose Casbah, the year before, Monterey Bay on Mt. Washington. This year, I chose Social House,  A big thanks to my best friend Maddy for recommending it! (She’s my go-to for everything Pittsburgh related ❤ )

Social House is a “Japanese izakaya-style restaurant”, which basically means meals are meant to be shared. Which honestly is perfect for us since my family eats off of each others plates anyway.. oops!

I loved the atmosphere as soon as we walked in. You could definitely tell it was new and trendy. There was a glass covered koi fish pond in the floor of the entrance.. enough said. (and I’m SO mad I didnt get a picture!)

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We took our time and really looked over the menu. There were so many options that looked interesting, we had a hard time picking just one… so we didnt! ! For appetizers, we ordered a few pieces of sushi, edamame, and edamame hummus. The hummus was definitely different than any i have had before, you could taste the soy beans and their texture really stuck out. The sushi was great, I expected no less.

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For dinner, my mom picked out the Short Rib Yaki Noodles (because Sheila can’t pass up beef). They weren’t at all what I was expecting but, regardless they were to die for. My dad ordered a bowl of ramen. I was really excited that someone ordered it, because I’ve been wanting to try ramen for a while now, but I’ve been too scared. It was really good but I dont think I could have finished that big of a bowl! For me, I decided on the Bi Bim Bap and wow am I glad I did. Put an egg on top of anything and I’m sold!

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Our waitress came around to offer dessert.. and you think Im gonna say no?

We actually picked two treats to go with our coffee. First was the Japanese Cotten Cheesecake with Pineapple Lychee Sauce, Green Tea Powder, Charred Pineapple. This wasn’t your typical cheesecake. It wasn’t very sweet, but I loved the texture. I was dense but smooth. ( I looked up how to make it while we were eating 😉 ) The second dessert was our waitress’s recommendation,  the Egg Custard Steamed Buns with a Lemongrass and Orange Blossom Pastry Cream and Orange Glaze. Surprisingly amazing. As my mom said, they tasted like an Italian Christmas cookie, and she wasn’t wrong. They came in a covered basket ( between this and the ramen, the restaurant looked like something out of an anime LOL) and they were still hot when we got them, and they were incredibly soft.

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100% would eat there again. I could have easily ordered one of everything on the menu, but thats what next time is  for! If you’re looking for a trendy restaurant in the heart of Pittsburgh, Social House is the way to go!

Never Let a Man Define You.

 “Never let a man define you”. My mom has told me this for as long as I can remember. And she continues to preach this to me, even now as I approach 21.  Its one of the best, and most accurate pieces of advice she’s given to my in my life. It has  put things into perspective, and  helped me to develop into  into the independent, strong young woman I am today.

So now… I’m learning how to be alone.

Ive been guilty of associating my self worth with what others think about me, and I’m seeing how inherently wrong that is. My happiness should not depend on a guy, nor should I need  a guy to verify the great qualities about me.  My identity should not be so deeply rooted a man that I don’t know who I am without him. And I definitely dont need someone who is going to make me doubt, or feel less about myself.

I have a hard time sometimes seeing this… but I am still so young. I have my whole life ahead of me. This may very well be the only  time to not have to worry about anyone else, and have time to focus solely on my life, my future, myself. Ive spent too much time moping and feeling sorry for myself, instead of concentrating on how I can be the best version of Monica. And to be completely honest, I’m over it. I’m done letting men determine my happiness.

I’m  the type of person who  grows  comfortable in the security of  a routine. And my  relationships are no exception.  I realize that, when it comes down to it:  I miss the familiarity and the routine of my  relationships, the idea of the person, and not so much the person themselves. I miss the validation, and my pride often gets mistaken for heartbreak. But when I look back and reflect on if I was truly, 100%  happy in my relationships… the answer isn’t always yes.

Ive thought about it a lot, and in the end,  I came to the conclusion: I’m getting along just fine alone. I refuse to  put my happiness in anyone else’s hand but my own. Im moving on to a new chapter in my life and accepting that everything happens for a reason and that God has a plan for me. And most importantly, not letting a man define me.

 

 

Healthier Mini Pumpkin Pies

This idea has been floating around in my head for a little while now. Its October which basically means its the time for pumpkin everything. But pumpkin pie is such a classic, so I decided to stick to the basics

We’ve been learning about pastries and pie crusts in my Food Study class, and naturally i wanted to put my knowledge to the test. For totally winging it, Im pretty happy with my results

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INgredients

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat  flour, sifted
  • 1.4 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp olive oil***
  • 3 tbsp water

For the Filling :

  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup truvia (or any other no cal sweetener)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350, and coat your muffin tins with a non stick spray
  2. For the crust, combine the flour and salt together in a large bowl
  3. In a smaller bowl, stir oil and water together. Combine oil mixture with the flour and mix until a dough forms. Add more flour or water as needed.
  4. Press your dough into the muffin tins and up the sides pic-4
  5. For the filling, combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
  6. Scoop filling into the crusts and bake for 25-30 min until crusts are set

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*** I did the first batch with olive oil and the second with melted butter. The both turned out the same!

this recipe can easily be made into 1 large pie, or smaller pies using a mini muffin tin! These are the perfect little dessert for fall. Top them with some whip cream and enjoy 🙂

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DIY Oat Cereal

This idea is pretty much life changing,  Cold oatmeal is probably one of my favorite breakfasts these days. Im sure it sounds a little strange but you’ll just have to hear me out on this one! I’ve been playing around with this recipe for years and I think I’ve finally got it down to a science

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup raw oats
  • 1/2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 packet Stevia
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 tbsp runny nut butter ( I find that it mixes better when its runny. If yours isn’t, i suggest microwaving it!!)
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • raisins, for topping
  • chopped nuts, for topping
  • 1/2 cup milk ( I use almond)

Directions:

  1. place oats, flaxseed, chia seed, stevia, protein powder, and cinnamon in a bowl and mix to combine
  2. add in a few slashes of vanilla extract and stir.
  3. drizzle nut butter of choice over dry ingredients and mix until it forms a crumbly texture.
  4. top with sliced bananas, raisins, and nuts.
  5. pour milk over top and enjoy!!

SO GOOD. I promise. The longer it sits, the better it gets! What I like about this cereal is that it has a little bit of everything: carbs, fats, and protein,  which means it keeps you full for the morning! Feel free to switch up the toppings and make it your own! Like I said, this is one of my favorite breakfasts, and I hope it will top the list as one of yours! 🙂

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