Archive of ‘business travel’ category

Worlds Collide: Healthy Eating on the Road

Hello friends! Long time! I have been craaaaaazy busy with so many things, including lots of travel, a busy work schedule, and a busy social life! I was away for a week in Puerto Rico for pleasure, and in Denver for a long weekend for work before that. October basically flew by before I even knew what was happening, and now somehow we are almost half way through  November. I digress.

Yesterday at my day job, I gave a presentation on Healthy Eating on the Road. You may remember I did another presentation on Healthy Lunch Options a while ago, and it was kind of crazy to be at my day job talking about healthy living stuff, since those two worlds rarely cross paths. But yesterday, they did again.

I opened up the presentation with asking about what is challenging about being healthy when traveling. Everyone was in agreement that it’s definitely difficult and people were pouring out their ideas for why. Here are the challenges we identified:

  1. Lack of healthy options and not being as familiar with the options as you are at home.
  2. Wanting to enjoy new food as part of the travel experience.
  3. Time constraints/stress lead to limited time for exercise/making healthy choices.
  4. Social influences/drinking more than when at home.
  5. Lack of control over the menu/not knowing what is in the food that you’re eating (catered meals/restaurants)
  6. Kids.
  7. Portion control when eating out.
  8. Food being around all the time.
  9. Vacation mentality. (Feeling like you deserve to eat everything).
  10. Being out of your routine.
  11. Budget (healthy options cost more)
  12. Cultural Challenges (ie. not being able to turn down a 10 course meal)
  13. No scale to check in on your weight.

Originally I wanted to go through the challenges one by one and identify the tips and tricks that might work for each, but in the interest of time, we only got to a few. Here are the tips that we came up with:

  1. Do some research before you go so you can identify some accessible spots to eat and locate a grocery/convenience store not far from where you’re staying.
  2. Bring a water bottle, healthy non-perishable snacks, and workout clothes with you no matter what.
  3. Ask the staff/server at a restaurant or hotel what’s in the food and/or how it is prepared if you don’t know.
  4. Ask the hotel to put a refrigerator in your room before you get there so you can stock up on some healthy staples.
  5. Focus on eating a lot of the local fruit and veggies as part of the experience.
  6. Pay attention to portion control when you’re having heavier dishes and have less control over what you’re eating.
  7. In general, simpler foods where you can identify what is in it tend to be better for you than dishes where you can’t.
  8. 10 minutes of exercise can be enough. If you don’t have time for a full workout, just do some pushups, sit-ups, and/or jumping jacks. You can get a great workout and it doesn’t require any equipment and not much time, either.
  9. Carry healthy snacks with you so that you don’t let yourself get ravenous. Being ravenous is the worst way to be if you want to make healthy choices.
  10. Realize that just because you’re eating out for every meal does NOT mean every meal is a celebration. Sometimes it’s just lunch.
  11. Choose one between bread, dessert, and booze when dining out.
  12. Take a look at all the options before you choose what you put on your plate. That way you can make room for what you really want.
  13. Ask for half your meal to be wrapped up before they even bring it out to the table.
  14. Order two appetizers instead of a full meal for your entrée.
  15. Physically put yourself away from the food if it’s out all day. If it’s within arm’s reach, you’ll tend to eat a lot more than if you have to get up to reach it.
  16. Choose your splurges wisely. Ask yourself, “is this really the best cookie/brownie/etc I can get? Is it worth it to eat it just because it’s there?”
  17. Treat yourself with things other than food. Maybe go see a museum, exhibit, or show in the town you’re traveling as a treat instead.
  18. Plan a splurge meal for towards the end of your trip so help keep you on track leading up to the splurge.
  19. Stay within your routine as much as possible, even though you are in a different location.
  20. Take extra whole fruit from the breakfast buffet for later.
  21. A lot of hotel gyms are equipped with a scale, but use your clothes as a gauge instead if you can’t find one.

Lots of good stuff!

Do you struggle with being healthy when traveling? What’s your biggest tip for staying on track?

Life Lately

Hello long lost friends! What a whirlwind life has been lately. Here’s some random highlights to get you up to speed with my life lately.

Two weekends ago, I went to San Diego for a work conference. The view from my hotel room looked like a postcard!

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It was absolutely gorgeous outside, so I laid out for 45 minutes before exploring the town and going out for dinner.

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My body totally forgot how to process sun, and I woke up in a lot of pain the next day. Whoops.

I ended up coming back a day early because I got finished with everything for work I had to get done, and it was cheaper to change my flight than to stay an extra night in the hotel. It was a fun and productive trip, but weird staying just one night in a hotel on the other side of the country!

Then I got back to DC and left again a few days later for New Orleans for one of my best friend’s bachelorette’s. It was AMAZING. Here’s the bachelorette, Lianne, and me:

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9 girls, and somehow NO DRAMA.

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We ate, drank, danced, and made Lianne do a lot of embarrassing things. It was so much fun, but I am definitely not 21 anymore. By the last day, we were all ready to come back home, and not eat or drink again. Winking smile

And then this past weekend, we had a baby shower for one of our best friend’s from college, Rachel. She’ll be 37 weeks this Friday, and it is so crazy to think that my friends are now having babies and that no one is concerned because we’re old enough that it’s perfectly acceptable.

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She looks SO cute and you can’t even tell she’s pregnant from the back or the front. I can only dream that I’ll look anything like that at almost full term! Lianne and Jess came with, and it was so fun to see a lot of the women in Rachel’s life that we hadn’t seen since the wedding.

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The set-up was really cute, with baby-themed décor everywhere.

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We played a bunch of games, ate food and delicious oreo-filled cake, and watched Rachel open a ton of gifts to get ready for Ethan’s arrival. Such a fun afternoon.

Other random updates:

    • The Beth’s Journey DietBet ends today!
    • I am traveling to Woodstock, NY to see my sister and the kiddos this coming weekend for the first time since Christmas!
    • I leave for Peru in less than 2 months
    • I have a big (for my life) weightloss journey related announcement coming tomorrow

See you soon!

Would you guys be interested in me hosting another DietBet for May? I was thinking of having another one start Monday, May 6, but only if you guys want me to!

I’m Leaving, On A… Train

This week, I am in Philly Monday through Friday for a conference. It’s my biggest event of the year workwise, and my first time being at the conference since starting my new job last June. I’m excited because it’s always fun to see something come together that you’ve worked on for most of a year, but I’m also nervous because this is about 4x as large as my biggest conference at my old job with over 5,000 attendees, and I don’t know exactly what to expect. So mostly I’m just excited to have this one under my belt.

Traveling for work is always a huge challenge for me because I’m not in control of my own schedule, and there are always so many temptations around that I don’t have in my normal environment. There are a few key things I bring with me every time I travel for work in hopes of staying on track as much as possible possible.

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1.) A Refillable Water Bottle

This is a big one for me. I’m always moving a ton during the conference, and being in a convention center is often very dry, so staying hydrated is super important. I always make sure to bring a water bottle with me so that I can fill it and have it on hand at all times. Drinking plenty of water helps me feel more full too, so I’m less likely to give into the temptations that present themselves.

2.) Workout Clothes

Always. It’s really hard to find the time to work out, but I know for sure I won’t workout if I don’t have anything with me to do so. I always try to bring one more pair of clothes than I think I will use just in case, and I’ve never regretted making the space in my suitcase.

3.) Snacks

Every morning there will be pastries, bagels, and other carb-y items, and every afternoon there will be cookies and other treats. There’s also constant candy jars everywhere, especially since I run the exhibit hall and exhibitors are eager to get attendees to their booth and use candy for extra pull to get them there. Having some healthy snacks on hand helps me feel more in control, and in addition to those Clif ZBars above (3 PP each), I also have self-made 100 calorie packs of almonds. I’m planning to pick up some whole fruit once I get there, so if those things help me make a good decision one time when I would have given in otherwise, it’s worth it.

In addition to doing what I can to control your environment, I think it’s really important to be realistic with myself and the goals I have. I cannot be as good as I can when I’m home and making dinner most nights, and I can’t workout as much as I like to when I’m home either. That said, here are the goals I have for this week:

    1. Start each day with a healthy breakfast
    2. Try to workout 2 times, even if just for 20 – 30 minutes
    3. Limit drinking to 2 glasses of wine max
    4. Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night
    5. Focus on eating as many fruits and veggies as I can

I think if I do all of those things listed above, I won’t be too much worse for the wear upon my return Friday night. Five days in the scheme of things won’t break me, but I know I’ll feel a lot better if I come back doing the best I could have done while traveling.

What’s the #1 most important thing you bring with you to stay on track when traveling?

Five San Francisco Highlights

I figured the best way to recap my trip to San Francisco without going overboard was to share with you the best meals and fun things I did (outside of the Mariani Walnut Harvest Tour which was awesome) so here we go!

1. Dinner at Nopalito on Friday night.

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It included the best ceviche I’ve ever had in my life, hands down.

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Ceviche Verde de Pescado y Calamari aka marinated fish and calamari in lime, tomatillo, jalapeno, cilantro, and avocado with house made tortilla chips. Seriously, heaven on a plate. I’d never had tomatillo ceviche before and it added a tang that really just took it to a new level.

And then, the Quesadilla Roja con Chicharron

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Which was a mulato chile-corn tortilla with crispy pork belly, chile cascabel, jack cheese, queso fresco, onion, and cilantro. Unreal, I tell you. I mean I’m not sure how pork belly and cheese on a house made corn tortilla could be anything short of incredible, so I doubt it’ll take much convincing. And, healthy choice, I know.

Friday night’s dinner was actually sponsored by Foodbuzz. They gave all the attendees who checked in on Friday $50 cash for dinner anywhere in the city. Pretty awesome, huh?

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2.) Getting all dressed up for the Saturday Night Gala.

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The event was held at the California Academy of Sciences, and it was so awesome to have full access to the aquarium while sipping on prosecco and eating copious amounts of cheese.

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Though my date was excellent company, the food itself was nothing to write home about, which was surprising for a food blogger conference.

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They missed a lot of the little details, like having knives available to cut the food with, or you know, plates or utensils for the desserts. At least there was an open bar! Plus, getting dressed up was fun and the venue was awesome, so those count for something…

3.) Wine tasting in Napa Valley.

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Can you believe that I had never in my life been wine tasting before? I mean, I’ve tasted PLENTY of wine, but not at a vineyard even though there are plenty very close to DC. But I guess tasting wine in Napa for your first time is a great way to kick off the hobby.

The drive itself was GORGEOUS. I could not believe how pretty and surreal it was!

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It honestly would have been worth it just to drive through wine country without tasting any wine – but that wasn’t really even a slight possibility with this pair.

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We stopped at two different vineyards and tried 10 different wines each!

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The first place – The Hess Collection – had 4 wines for $10. I had a Verdelho, then 3 reds – Charbono, Petite Sirah, and a big Cavernet Sauvignon. I don’t know much about wine (besides the basics), but they were all delicious. I almost got a bottle of the Charbono and the Petite Sirah, but shipping was $19 for the first bottle – yikes!

At the second place, the guy who poured our wine is actually from a town right next to where I grew up in Connecticut. It was funny to talk about our tiny towns and nice when he gave us 2 extra wines because of the CT connection.

So fun.

4.) Dinner at Nojo on Sunday night.

This was my last dinner in San Francisco so it was best to go out with a bang! This place divides there menu into “On a Stick” and “Not on a Stick” and are known for their various meats… on a stick. They had all sorts of different parts of animals, like chicken skin, liver, heart, etc., and literally every small plate we ordered was delicious.

The highlights for me were the Albacore Tuna Tartare.

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Which was flavored with chives and pink peppercorns, and then served with lightly fried nori chips for scooping and was seriously of this world. The tuna was so fresh it melted in our mouths and was so nice against the crunchy nori. I’d never seen or heard of nori in chip form, and they were incredible.

Also, the Tsukune, which is Japanese chicken meatball in sausage form, with egg yolk sauce for dipping.

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Our waiter instructed us to break the yolk and stir it into the soy glaze sauce below it, and then dip the cut up chicken sausage in there. The sauce underneath was slightly warm and the yolk stirred and dissolved it into a creamy, delicious sauce that perfectly complimented the chicken. I thought the presentation was SO COOL and loved being able to do the honors of breaking and stirring the yolk.

And last, and also probably my single favorite of the night, was the pork and wheatberry rice ball.

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It was crunchy on the outside and filled with a small amount of pork and wheatberries, with a mustard miso sauce on the plate. I loved how the crust on the outside of the rice ball contrasted with the warm, sticky rice and the slightly sweet pork inside. It was so amazing, even if I did feel like a rice ball myself at the end of that meal, and the end of the 5 day eating frenzy that was my trip to San Francisco.

5.) Ending my last morning in San Francisco with a skim latte from Blue Bottle Coffee.

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I looooove coffee, and it wasn’t until my first trip to San Francisco this time last year that I realized what I’d been missing out on. Blue Bottle Coffee is seriously the best I’ve ever tasted, and they make each cup so artfully. When you get drip coffee there, they even brew each cup to order. Last time I was there, I had the steel cut oatmeal that had whipped BUTTER and brown sugar and it was out of this world. This time though, I woke up feeling like I needed to get it together and had Greek yogurt for breakfast instead, and then treated myself to this latte as a last taste of San Francisco!

The End of an Era

For my current job, I travel about 4-5 times a year for conferences and courses, so I have been to a lot of places I might not have gotten to see otherwise! Just to recap, here’s a list of all the cities I’ve visited because of my job over the last three years:

    • Reno – September 2009
    • Houston – January 2010
    • Oklahoma City – June 2010
    • Minneapolis – July 2011
    • Columbus – September 2010
    • San Diego – January 2011
    • Indianapolis – June 2011
    • Kansas City – July 2011
    • Charlotte – September 2011
    • New Orleans – September 2011
    • Sacramento – November 2011
    • San Antonio – January 2012
    • St. Louis – June 2012

That’s a pretty long list of cities! The only ones I would probably have gone to visit independent of my job are San Diego, New Orleans, and San Antonio, but I’m so glad I got to see them all! I can honestly say that pretty much every city on that list exceeded my expectations, regardless of how low they may have been going in. Winking smile

Tomorrow, I am leave for a conference in St. Louis for five nights for work, and it is going to be my very LAST trip with my current job.

After 3 years and 2 months, I am leaving my current position for a new opportunity at a different association in DC. The move is extremely bittersweet because I actually really love my current job (most of the time) and have grown very close with my coworkers, so I am really sad to be leaving. When I was interviewing, I didn’t really take much time to think about leaving the current place and was more looking forward to the next stage in my career, but when I put my notice in the week before last, it hit me.

I won’t be seeing these same faces of my coworkers five days of the week.

I won’t be seeing the members of the organization who I’ve seen several times a year for the last three years.

I won’t be at a place that I know inside and out and have been at more than any other place for the last three years.

I won’t have already proven myself.

With that said, this new opportunity was one I couldn’t walk away from. It’s a huge step up professionally and is making me feel like a real grown up, even if I have technically been one for some time. I don’t want to go into too many details on here, but my new title is Director of Corporate Relations, and I’ll have an opportunity to rework the entire corporate relations program at the new association and build a team under me over time.

Part of the reason that things have been so insane for me lately is because I’ve been interviewing a lot, and then super busy at my current job as I try to wrap things up before heading out the door! I will be back to DC next Monday night, then back in my office Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and then I am done! It’s so crazy to think about the change after you’ve headed to the same place every weekday morning for years, but even though I am nervous about it, I truly am more excited than anything.

I Warned You

I gave you fair warning that this post was likely coming… time to get back on track post work/vacation travels!

San Francisco was SOOOO fun and I am still working on posts about the Foodbuzz Festival and my trip in general, but I’m still a little delirious from the cross country trip so those will come another day.

I will share one major highlight – I got to meet Tyler Florence!!

He was SO nice and charming in person, and even gave me a copy of his new cookbook.

And signed it!

Don’t worry Tyler. I will!

Anyway, I ended up taking a redeye back on Monday night, which was a lot less painful than I was expecting. I have mentioned it before, but I am an excellent plane sleeper, so I fell asleep no problem for almost the entire flight and liked that I didn’t have to give up a whole day to get back to DC. That said, it was a really strange experience to have dinner in San Francisco Monday evening and then be at my desk Tuesday morning. You can probably guess which one I preferred! =)

After working all day yesterday, I made one stop right after work before going home – Whole Foods! My fridge was so bare – I didn’t even have one fruit or veggie in the house. I had to get on that stat.

I ended up spending $44, and got everything I need for some good meals for the week. First up, the produce.

    • Mixed Greens
    • Kale
    • Cucumber
    • Bananas
    • Tomatoes
    • Honeycrisp Apples
    • Vidalia Onion
    • Scallions
    • Holiday Grapes

The most delicious grapes ever.

Everything else:

    • SO Delicious Coffee Creamer
    • Whole Wheat Pasta
    • Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
    • New-to-Me Greek Yogurt
    • Skim Milk
    • Nasoya Lite Tofu (free with coupon)
    • Babybel Light
    • Laughing Cow Light Garlic Herb
    • Corn Tortillas
    • Swiss Cheese

Not too shabby for $44! Here’s what I came up with for a meal plan:

Breakfast Lunch Snack Dinner
Tuesday Egg + Cheese on Ezekiel Toast Subway Veggie Delite w/Baked Chips Starbucks Americano w/skim milk Cheese Quesadilla w/scallions + salad
Wednesday Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal w/Cottage Cheese Big salad w/sardines, wasa crackers, + babybel cheese, grapes Banana + Greek Yogurt Cheesy Butternut Squash Bake
Thursday English Muffin w/sunbutter + banana Leftover Cheesy Butternut Squash Bake w/salad Cottage cheese w/frozen berries Loaded Baked Potato
Friday Pumpkin Oatmeal w/Cottage Cheese Leftover Cheesy Butternut Squash Bake w/salad Greek Yogurt w/banana Out with friends

Feels good to be back with a plan! Now I just need to get back on Eastern Time and convince myself not to move to San Francisco. We’ll see how that goes.

If you could meet one celebrity chef, who would it be?

The Year of Traveling

As I sit here on the Sleep Number bed in my hotel room (my number is 40, by the way), I can’t get over how much time I’ve spent in hotels this year. I know a lot of people travel all the time for their jobs, so the amount I travel pales in comparison, but for me this year has been crazy with the amount of trips! Check it out:

    • January: San Diego, CA – one week – Work Conference
    • May: Baltimore, MD – 3 days – FitBloggin’
    • June: Indianapolis, IN – 4 days – Work Conference
    • June: New York, NY – 3 days – Visit Family
    • July: Shenandoah Valley, VA – Birthday Getaway
    • July: Boston, MA – 3 days – Bachelorette Party
    • August: Philadelphia, PA – 3 days – Healthy Living Summit
    • September: Charlotte, NC – 8 days – Work Conference
    • September: New Orleans, LA – 4 days – Work Exam
    • October: Chicago, IL – 3 days – Weight Watchers Training
    • November: Sacramento, CA – 3 days – Work Course
    • November: San Francisco, CA – 3 days – Pleasure

Notice, 11 of those 12 trips have been in the past 6 months, and I’m sure I’m forgetting some. Whew!

Speaking of staying in hotels, the one I’m currently at has the cutest toiletries!

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Do you see what’s peaking out from back there?

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A loofah! I’ve never had a hotel give me one of those and I LOVE them and realize it’s one of the things I miss the most from my shower at home.

It’s funny because as I was trying to make sure I didn’t forget any of the trips, I searched my blog for “hotel” and the first sentence of many of the posts were “healthy living didn’t go so well” and “time to get back on track”. Clearly traveling is something I majorly struggle being healthy with – so don’t be surprised if you see another one of those “Back on Track” posts next week…

That said, I did workout over the lunch break from the course yesterday, and it was AWESOME. I ran about 4.0 miles in 40 minutes outside, and then did 3 sets of this circuit (that I came up with myself as I was doing it) back in my hotel room:

    • 10 squats
    • 10 lunges on each leg
    • 10 pushups
    • 10 dips (on the coffee table)

It had my heart pumping and I ended up burning 575 calories in 55 minutes according to my Polar. I probably should have added some abs in there to make it more well-rounded, but too late for that! I took a quick shower, got dressed again, and was back at the course just before the 1.5 hours were up. I wish I had that long for lunch normally! It was such a pick me up in the middle of the day and left me feeling great for the rest of the day.

And with that, I’m heading to San Francisco tonight and I could not be more excited! It will be my first time ever visiting and I have heard SUCH great things. The thing I’m looking forward to least is the redeye back on Monday evening – my first one ever. I am pretty great at sleeping on planes but I can’t imagine it’s going to be that fun regardless.

Where is your favorite place to visit in the US?

My “Interesting” Voyage to Sacramento

So I had an experience on my flight today I won’t soon forget. But let’s rewind a bit.

Yesterday’s 6:15am wakeup call was a little painful (mostly because I stayed up way too late watching Lost), but I pulled myself together and got out the door for the 7am cab to the airport. I ended up bringing oatmeal with me for breakfast and just asked for hot water from the place where I got my coffee and some fruit to supplement it, and it worked out great.

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The oatmeal itself was just OK – I much prefer my regular steel cut oats, but this worked out in a pinch (and was much cheaper/healthier than the breakfast options at the airport).

Fun fact about me: I always request window seats on planes because I tend to sleep really easily and like to lean again the window if there isn’t a headrest. I got into my seat and was a pretty happy camper.

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This usually works out nicely, except after drinking the coffee and water pictured above, I inevitably had to use the restroom at some point during the four hour flight.

The man seated next to me in the middle seat was a bit older and didn’t seem to speak English too well. So, when I asked him if I could get up, he just pushed his legs slightly to the side so I had to literally climb over him to get out. Slightly awkward, but ok.

After I got back to my seat and climbed back over him again, some time passed before the man put his head up against the seat in front of him. I wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but the guy seated in the aisle seat next to him got a horrified look on his face. He grabbed a barf bag to hand to the older man and while he took it, he didn’t even attempt to use it and proceeded to start vomiting DIRECTLY onto the floor and seat of the plane right next to me!

I jumped up on my seat with both my feet and started freaking out a bit from the smell/sound, as the guy continued to barf all over the floor and his seat. He refused to get up, so I had to climb out behind him to get away, despite the offers from the people in the row behind us for me to jump over the back of my seat. Ha.

I mean no one wants to throw up on a plane, so I felt bad for the guy, but come on. At least TRY to use a barf bag! Yuck.

The flight attendants were very accommodating and moved both me and the guy in the aisle into exit row seats, which was nice. Even though it was a center seat, I had much more leg room and no one throwing up on me. Win-win.

So that was fun.

Luckily, the second leg of my flight was a lot less eventful no one was even in the middle seat of my row. I slept almost the entire 2 hours of the flight, so it flew by. Pun intended.

In the end, it was all worth it because Sacramento is GORGEOUS.

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It was 74, sunny, and clear when I arrived; a 180 from the weather in DC! The hotel I’m staying at is almost like a campus and there’s even a pond with a fountain in the middle of it.

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The rooms themselves are quite spacious and have a sleep number beds. I’m still working on figuring out my number, but tonight is my last night to experiment since I head to San Francisco after the course tomorrow!

This is only my second time ever in California, and my first time in Sacramento. Both time I’ve come here the weather wins me over and makes me not want to go back to DC!

Do you prefer window or aisle seats? Why? (Or center, but then you’re just strange. Winking smile)

The Five Don’ts of Bike Commuting

I feel very lucky to have found an apartment that allows me to walk or bike to work. Walking takes about 25 minutes or so, and biking takes just 10, and sometimes less if I catch the lights just right. The first time I decided to attempt to bike to work was shortly after moving, and I’d only ever used my bike for exercise before – never as a means of transportation. I figured it couldn’t be too hard and set out to go to work without much thought put into the ride.

To put it simply, it was a disaster.

Top Five Don’ts of Bike Commuting

While most of these things may seem pretty intuitive to the general population, for me, they were learned through trial and error.

1.) Don’t… Keep your phone in your pocket.

It doesn’t matter who calls or texts you on the way to work, nor what time it is each time you stop. On my first commute on bike, I thought it would be a good idea to transport my phone in my pocket and it turned out not to be when it fell out into a puddle and I haven’t been able to turn it on since.

2.) Don’t… Bring a large over the shoulder bag.

A backpack works much better, trust me on this one. Day one, the huge bag not only had me completely off center, it was going into the opposite bike lane on the road and I had to keep swerving to avoid hitting into other cyclists. Turns out, the backpack is also a great place to keep your phone.

3.) Don’t… Wear wide legged pants.

They will get caught in your bike chain, and you will rip a hole in your favorite work pants. You can roll your pants up or buy a band that goes around your ankle to keep your pants secure, or else you can just wear jeans or tapered pants and they shouldn’t get caught in your bike.

4.) Don’t… Forget to check the weather.

It will probably rain if you don’t check it, and riding to work in the rain is not only wet and makes you arrive cranky, but it’s not the safest either.  You’re better off walking with an umbrella or taking public transport if that’s an option.

5.) Don’t… Wing your route.

I found myself cycling the wrong way on one too many one-way streets on day one because I didn’t map out my route beforehand, and it was not only dangerous, it was frightening. Google maps actually has bike routes mapped out for several areas, but another option is walking or driving the route beforehand to figure out the best way.

I’m happy to report that since day one, my bike commuting skills have improved immensely. I now have a great route to and from work, only bike when the weather looks clear, and have not one, but two backpacks I alternate between. I also have taken to keeping my phone in my backpack rather than my pocket, but am still working on #3 – I definitely ripped a hole in another pair of pants yesterday…

You can’t win ‘em all, right?

How do you get to work? Drive, bike, walk, public transport? How far is it from your home?

Top Four New Orleans Foodie Hot Spots

According to me, that is. Smile

Though I’ve only been to New Orleans twice, I did quite a bit of research and got several recommendations from friends and family before going and did (what I think is) a pretty great job checking out several highlights of the city. I thought now would be the perfect time to share them since I just got back and want to relive every meal I had while I was there!

1.) Café Du Monde

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It’s a must for beignets and coffee. It’s located right near the French Quarter, and was just about a 10 minute walk from the hotel I stayed in this last time. I went there both times I’ve visited, and at $2.41 for three fresh, hot beignets drowning in powdered sugar, it’s worth making the trip each time.

This past weekend, I also got a FROZEN Café Au Lait, which was out of this world.

Sort of like a classier frapuccino, but not quite as sweet, and twice as delicious. Yum.


2.) Jacques-Imos

 

This funky, local restaurant is located uptown, so you have to take a cab there if you’re staying down near Bourbon/Canal Street. That said, it is SO worth it. Unfortunately I managed to forget my camera when we went there this past Saturday night, but it was one of the places on the top of my list to go since I didn’t make it there the first time I visited New Orleans.

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Source.

I may or may not have shared the Crab and Alligator Sausage Cheesecake, which sounds kind of gross but is OUT OF THIS WORLD. It’s one of their most famous dishes, and while I’m pretty sure alligator doesn’t qualify as a fish and thus I broke my normally pescatarian diet by eating some, dare I say it was worth it??

The other extreme highlight were the Watermelon Mojitos. Filled with chunks of fresh watermelon and plenty of mint,

3.) Commander’s Palace

This place I’ve been to both times I’ve visited NoLA, and when I found out I was going back for the second time, I called immediately to make a reservation for lunch! It’s hard to get a reservation so make sure you book in advance, and be aware that it’s kind of fancy so men have to wear jackets!

That aside, Monday through Friday, this place has 25 CENT martinis during lunch. A quarter!

It’s a super famous restaurant where Emeril Lagasse and several other famous chefs got their start, but if you go for lunch, it can be quite reasonable! At the top section of the menu, they have two and three course lunches to choose from. I went with the Blackened Drum.

Which, for $20, came with soup or salad of my choice. This is what screamed out to me:

And it did NOT disappoint!

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Light and refreshing but slightly spicy, it was the perfect start to lunch. Unless you consider the martinis the start…

Or the complimentary garlic toast.

Yum. But the main course was also so so good, that I can’t pick a highlight.

I guess I’ll just go with the company!

Kobi, myself, and Becca – coworkers but friends too. Smile with tongue out

The other cool part is that you can take the street car to get there and back, which is kind of fun.

4.) Acme Oyster House

And last, but certainly not least, is Acme Oyster House.

It’s located right in the French Quarter near Bourbon Street, and has some of the best raw oysters I’ve ever had in my life.

This is another spot I hit up both times I visited, and the last time I was there we sat right at the bar. The guy shucking the oysters told us that they do not clean the outside of the oysters there, because apparently when you do, the warmish water heats the oysters up ever so slightly so that they actually open their shells a little bit. This causes the INSIDE of the oyster to get dirt/grit in it, so at Acme they just keep them dirty on the outside so the inside stays clean. That said, you can’t slurp these ones out of the shell quite as freely as you can elsewhere since the shells are covered in dirt!

Acme also has relatively cheap local cuisine, including po boys, etouffee, rice and beans, and some other cajun favorites. I highly highly recommend you check it out!

Have you ever been to New Orleans? If so, what’s your favorite foodie spot that you went to? If not, what’s your favorite foodie town to visit?

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