Well, I kinda failed my resolution last year.
I was supposed to be writing and reading more and being more creative.
I would give myself a B- for 2018.
I wanted to try to write once a week or more but I averaged more like 2 posts a month instead and then felt bad when I couldn’t make time to do it. I always felt like I had to try to squeeze it in and life would trump what I really wanted to do instead and I was always playing catch up.
This year, I have made the following resolutions:
1. Write at least 3 times a month 2. Do more art projects 3. Finish the 3 online courses I signed up for last year 4. Read more than 12 books in the year (physically books not on Kindle) 5. Lose the 10 lbs I gained back in 2018. Pants are tight again and going shopping is not in the budget!
I signed up for 2 fitness challenges so far. The first is with the program I follow (the Transform app by Chris and Heidi Powell). The winner of the 3 month challenge gets to go to Utah with them for free. I don’t really feel like I would win that since there are people out there who have to lose a lot more weight than I do. The 2nd challenge is a DietBet hosted by them. You put $30 into the challenge and have to lose 4% of your weight in 4 weeks. That’s about 7 lbs for me. A little extreme in 4 weeks but if I follow the program 100% I may be able to do it. If you do, you split the pot of money with the others so I would at least win my money back.
I found that I work better with competition so this may hold me more accountable than the first one. I have to be really careful since halfway through I am going to Vegas to see Celine Dion (scream!!!) and going to be mostly off plan for 3 days.
I tried to clean out the 2nd bedroom to make space so I can sit and do my online classes and art projects. I work better when there are designated spaces for things. I used to have 2 couches and one was my reading couch. I miss that space. Now I just wander around the house clutching my books to read eventually falling prey to my damn cell phone! It’s so distracting and I wish I could put it down more than I do. I never thought I would get sucked in so much to technology but I also never thought I would have a DVR and I’m addicted to that as well.
2019 is going to be interesting. I feel like there’s a lot of events happening and my new planner is quickly getting filled. Of course I color coded it but we’ll see how long that lasts…
I’m splitting Greece into 2 posts because the first half we spent in the Athens area and then we went to the area my family is from–small towns near Aigio–for about a week. I’ll call that the Country. City life is so different from the country and it’s amazing that some areas are still so rural in our fast paced technology filled age. My grandfathers’ address doesn’t even come up on Google Maps!
It was definitely surreal stepping into Greece. I haven’t been there since 1990 when I was 5 years old. I remember some things about it and other things feel like I’ve only seen them in a dream. I was excited to see it again and also share the experience of going back with my husband.
Finding the metro at the airport to take us into Athens was really easy and took about 40 minutes to get to our hotel. The metro overall is pretty easy to use since there aren’t many lines but they cover a wide distance which I was really surprised at. We have hosting the Olympics to thank for that construction.
We found our hotel pretty easily, Airotel Parthenon, and checked in. The front desk was so friendly and gave us maps and tips. We also got a bottle of wine and fruit from perks being registered with Expedia. Since we had a longer time in Athens we weren’t as rushed as in our other cities so the first day was just walking around and getting our bearings. It was also about 90 degrees but it was really different from the humid temps of Berlin and Paris and didn’t feel that bad. I was also fortunate to be able to see some family while I was there so most nights in Athens we had dinner plans someone else was in charge of, so less planning for me!
The most mind-blowing thing was seeing these ancient monuments that are THOUSANDS of years old just in the middle of the sidewalk or next to a busy street. They even had artifacts in the subway stations of things they found when excavating the sites! It’s insane. Every night in Athens we just stared at the lit up Acropolis and couldn’t believe that was the backdrop as everyone was sipping on drinks or eating dinner.
Went to see the changing of the guards at Parliament. It’s such an elaborate to-do and it was even more impressive that these men were fully dressed standing right in the sun. We stopped for a snack in Syntagma Square while we waited to have dinner with family. And we would continue our midday coffee break for the remaining time in Greece. Do as the locals, right?
It seems like the place to be for food was O Thanasis right in the middle of things–I think it could be considered the Monastiraki area—there is shopping all around, places to eat (a lot of them touristy so watch out), and bars. And of course ruins like the Ancient Agora and Hadrian’s library right in the middle. Thanasis had everything to eat and of course we stuffed ourselves until we couldn’t move. Mostly because my family ordered one of everything to be sure we got the full experience. Kebab (log shaped meat) over pita bread with sauce over it was one of my favorites. We had a greek horiatiki salad with every meal—the tomatoes tasted the best we ever had—and we couldn’t stop eating. I don’t even have half the number of pictures of the food I should because halfway through stuffing my face I realized I didn’t document it and no one would be able to see all the yumminess! First world millennial problems.
Was meeting a friend that afternoon in Glyfada. Since it’s on the coast we decided to go to the beach before meeting up. We took the metro to a bus which was pretty easy to figure out (took about 40 minutes, I think, from Syntagma). We stopped at the market to grab some snacks then walked onto the beach. It was small but not that crowded considering it was a Saturday. It’s funny that the locals consider this the city beach meanwhile it looked tropical and lovely to us.
We took a quick dip, ate some snacks, then met my friend. She showed us around town, we did some shopping (in need of sunscreen and a beach blanket), and then we had lunch. Once again dove right in and forgot to take pictures. We ate until we couldn’t move and I think about all the food we couldn’t finish and wish I could have it right now.
Afterwards we did some walking and headed to a cafe for some coffee. That’s definitely the thing to do out here. Most people get a late start to the beach, then have an early
evening coffee before heading out to a very late dinner or clubbing. Definitely took some getting used to since we’re usually in bed before 11pm most nights. My husband loved it though and quickly took to the laid back way of life.
We returned back to the hotel to wash up for dinner to meet another relative. We walked down the street called Dionysiou Areopagitou which is a lovely marbled walkway that runs East (near Hadrian’s Arch) to West (near Park Filopappou Hill) and connects to the street that will bring you to Monastiraki. Since it was the weekend there were vendors selling things and lots of people strolling and it was so nice especially since the Acropolis was our background. Still can’t get over that sight.
We took a tour with Keytours and headed to Delphi. It was about a 3 hour drive both ways, up mountains, and through small towns. I’m glad we didn’t drive that on our own. Our driver was a miracle making a coach bus go through a town with one road. I woke up not feeling so hot but I got my backpack on and headed out for our day trip. We finally got there and the sun was beating down. It was so hot out we barely made it just carrying our small backpacks, I have no idea why people would drag their small children up this mountain of ruins in this weather. Parents are terribly selfish.
For as shitty as I felt, I made it up that mountain and the views were spectacular. Pictures don’t even do it justice. Afterwards we stopped at a local restaurant where we had lunch and got to talk to the other travelers. Once again we had lots of Australians and people from all over and it was nice to meet others and hear about where they’re from or where they were going.
Once we got back to Athens I figured we should just push through and cover some more ruins. You can get an entry ticket for 30 Euros that covers most major attractions such as the Acropolis, Ancient Agora (both Roman and Athenian), Hadrian’s library and three others. It definitely saved some money and it’s valid for 5 days so I recommend it. We hit up the Olympieion which was just a bunch of ruins out in the burning sun (even at 7 pm!) so we strolled through really fast then decided it was time for dinner.
I knew that if we stopped at the hotel before dinner then we probably wouldn’t leave the room again so decided to just go straight to the restaurant. It was fancier than I expected and we smelled worse than we thought we did so it was an interesting meal. The place, ManiMani, is located upstairs of a small building, and feels like you’re sitting in someone’s house. Which potentially you are. The food is an elevated version of typical meals you find in Mani, an area my family is from on the southern part of Sparta. Since we weren’t going to be able to travel there this trip I thought we could bring a part of it to us in Athens. We also got to drink some craft beer from the area as well.
Once again, stuffed, we waddled back to the hotel and decided to have a late night coffee and tea before bed. As I said, my husband had taken to the lifestyle quickly.
We began at Aristotles’ Lyceum site and I still can’t believe we got to stand on the same grounds he did. It really is surreal when you think about it.
A block away was the Museum of Cycladic Art, which wasn’t on our original itinerary but my cousin recommended it. The museum was very well planned out and flowed focusing on the ancient artifacts found on the Cyclades Islands.
Athens War Museum was up next and my husband always likes looking at the old planes and tanks. That was another well designed museum where each room flowed into the
next as a timeline of Greek history. I knew about all the wars my people had gone through but it was crazy to see that just as one ended we had another group of people trying to take us over right through the late 20th century! I was exhausted just walking through the rooms, I can’t imagine the kind of life they actually lived through. And I think the world tends to forget that. When people think of Greece they immediately say Santorini and the Greek Islands or the Acropolis but there was so much more that happened and so many corners that no one ever visits. Corners that are probably unspoiled and beautiful.
After the museums, we headed west across the city to the Monastiraki area again for lunch. After walking around and finding most places too touristy we settled on going back to O Thanasis again (from the first night). This time I remembered to take some pictures.
So stuffed, we walked to the Roman Agora nearby, which are outdoor ruins like most things in Greece and baked under the sun. Again these ruins are just smack in the middle of the city surrounded by buildings and tourists.
My Greek obsessed husband decided that he needed legit worry beads (known as a komboloi) that you would see most men carry and hold in their hand as they’re sitting at a cafe. He researched a good place that sold them and then we snaked through the meandering small streets to find the store. We bought him one that is claimed to be made by lava rock and he left the store excited to go get coffee to use his beads.
I was feeling really sick by this day but still trekking along since I knew we had so much to see. We went back to the hotel late afternoon to grab a couple of hours rest before heading out for dinner. The original plan was to do the Parthenon before dinner and then climb up to the Acropolis the next day. What I didn’t know that both were inside the same area so what was supposed to be a short walk before dinner became a climb up the cliff with non-grippy sandals. I didn’t fall over so that was a feat.
It was beautiful of course once we got to the top and probably not as crowded as it usually is since it was an hour before closing, which was even nicer.
We walked back down to find something for dinner and went to a restaurant recommended by someone (I forgot the name). The food was decent and took a little work since I ordered grilled shrimp not realizing it would come shelled. Afterwards some ice cream for dessert and then back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.
We were told we HAVE to take the cable car up Mount Lycabettus to the top where a church was with a beautiful view of the whole city. We added it to our schedule today but by this time I was super sick–my ears and throat hurting with runny nose—but somehow I crawled up the SUPER steep hills nearby on the way to the cable car even though I could barely breathe.
We were told to take a cab to the cable car but we are New Yorkers and wanted to save money so we decided to get to the nearest metro station and then walk the mile. We didn’t realize just how steep that mile was. Very reminiscent of Montmartre in Paris and maybe we should’ve listened but we made it. I was wheezing and could barely breathe, but I was alive.
The cable car was not so exciting since it was stuffed with people, super hot, and went up in a dark tunnel with nothing to see. Plus I was preoccupied with the weight limit of the car and if the Greeks adhered to any safety codes or just figured “we made it this many centuries, let’s wing it!”.
The signs weren’t great at the top but luckily it’s not very big so we managed to stumble upon the small church. There’s a restaurant at the top, bathrooms, and the church. Not much else. We took some pictures then waited for the next cable car down.
Took the metro to Monastiraki area again (it’s the place to be!) to visit Hadrian’s Library (ruins outside) and the Athenian Agora (more walking outside in the sun). We actually learned a lot about Hadrian, a Roman who did a lot for Athens including rebuilding the Parthenon, constructing the aqueduct, and creating a library to literary works and other documents.
We had a gelato break then I headed to the Pharmacy to get some medicine for my cold and then back to the hotel for a rest.
We had another tour lined up for that night—-a trip to Sounio to watch the sunset at the
Temple of Poseidon. So armed with my box of tissues and lozenges we boarded for the 2 hour drive.
The tour guide was not as great as the first tour we took and she pretty much lost the group when we got there and recited the facts from the info board at the site. We got some great pictures of the sunset and then had a glass of wine before heading back to the hotel area to get our last dinner in Athens.
Our last meal in Athens
We packed up and traveled on metro to Pireas, a port town, to pick up the rental car to drive out to meet my family. We chose to get the car from here because we had to go back to Pireas to catch a ferry for our island getaway so it made the most sense. Once we got out of the congested area driving was pretty easy and the signs were clear for the most part. There are a lot of tolls so I always suggest having change and small bills to cover that.
On our way to my family in the Aigio area, we drove by the Corinth Canal and stopped to look over the bridge. I can’t believe that men carved that out, it was so steep and high! Then back in the car to drive another hour through the country. Luckily there was a major highway that was built so the drive is really easy until you get to the smaller towns, then it becomes confusing roundabouts and dirt roads.
We followed Google Maps to our Airbnb location but it wasn’t exact and we had no idea what house it actually was because street names aren’t really visible nor are house numbers. There were a lot of dogs, cats, and chickens though. We stood between an intersection trying to figure out which house it was and finally heard someone inside one of them. After a few bangs on the outside gate, a lady came out and I asked where Ms. Antonia lived. I guess that’s what you do in the country because she knew right away and pointed us a couple houses away.
We immediately realized that we were going to have to use Greek out here. In Athens we got away with speaking mostly English but that wasn’t going to fly here and, although I know more than my husband, it is still limited and I wondered how actual tourists who know nothing of the language get around.
We were lucky that I have some knowledge of French which got us through Paris and Brussels and a lot of English was spoken in Amsterdam and Berlin. But country Greece is REALLY Greek and definitely intimidating. Our country adventure begins…
I’ve heard people say that in your 30’s you begin letting things go more. You become a little less rigid, a little more forgiving, and you can say NO without feeling bad.
I can attest, that this is all true. After I turned 30, when I started realizing my likes and dislikes, I started noticing the things and people I didn’t like as much. I began seeing the good and the bad around me and I was ok with saying no to events or seeing people less who didn’t make me feel happy.
In your 20’s, you’re invited to places almost every weekend and you have less to do or worry about so you go. Doesn’t matter the time. After 30, if your party starts after 9pm, no thanks. Do I always have to be the one to reach out to you or you only call me when you want something? No thanks. Do I want to be in the secret Santa at work with people I don’t know? No thanks.
I found that I have less events to attend now, mostly because a lot of my friends have moved away, but I have more things to do. I’m not sure what these things are exactly but I was feeling overwhelmed at points.
Pay the bills, have to meal prep, bathroom needs to be cleaned, shop for that birthday present, oh we have that dinner to go to Saturday, I wanted to work out at least 3 times this week, we ran out of toilet paper have to make a stop, ugh laundry, what’s happening on This Is Us I’m so behind, look at those 3 books I started and haven’t finished…..my head is literally this run on sentence. Every day.
A few months ago we put a small whiteboard up behind our front door and wrote out our weekly schedule. I schedule the days I can meal prep and my workouts, but I don’t always stick to it. Sometimes things change or move and that’s when I started feeling overwhelmed. I tried to squeeze everything into the night and for some reason the 6 hours I have at home FLIES faster than 6 hours at work will ever. It’s very annoying. If the time at home went as slow as work time I would probably be able to solve the worlds problems in a day and a half (I was going to say a day but figured I’d be a bit modest).
For the last few months I’ve learned not to get so stressed if I don’t get to everything. I really would love to work out 3-4 days a week. If I manage only 2, then ok I make sure that I’m eating on plan that week. I’m not perfect at it yet but I’m still learning. I have my freak out days too.
Last week work wanted to host a “thanksgiving” lunch and I got roped into it. I said I was going to bring dessert and by Wednesday I still had no idea what I was going to bake. I figured it would be cheaper to bake something since I have most of those ingredients at home already. But by that afternoon I realized, yes it would be cheaper and we’ve been trying to save money, but it would also take me 2 hours to do it and I had to make dinner and shower and had wanted to work out so I knew I was going to be cranky by 8pm. So, I decided to stop by the bakery before going home and picked up a cake for $12. I didn’t like that I had to spend money but, guess what, I got to work out for 45 minutes and I felt AMAZING afterwards. I wouldn’t have felt like that after forcing myself to rush at baking.
So, sometimes you have to decide to do what you want to do and make the things around you work for you. And next year, I will politely decline joining that lunch (I didn’t eat the food since I was trying to eat on plan anyway). It’s a nice idea but I’m guessing that cupcakes taste better when they’re not forced.
I was trying to work on my blog about Greece but there’s so much info and good stuff to share and I can’t concentrate since I’m sick this week and all I want to do it eat soup and go to bed.
So here’s a post I had written a while ago to tie you over. I’ll be back soon….
At the end of last summer I got the opportunity to be interviewed at MSG studios as an Islanders fan (that’s hockey if you don’t know) for some promo they were putting together for the start of hockey season. We are a hockey family–my husband has been lifelong and I’ve been since around 2012. I started as a NY Rangers fan but switched over because of a very cozy hoodie be bought me. Cozy hoodies can probably end wars if we
would just let them. Seriously, he said he would buy me the $60 hoodie if I switched teams. My loyalties were not as intense as I thought they were.
I really just submitted my entry video to this opportunity because I thought I would be able to do it with my husband and maybe even get to meet the team or get some good tickets. Instead, we got a t-shirt, a drawstring bookbag, and a travel mug after we did our interviews alone. Not the swag I was looking for. Do better MSG. But the experience itself was pretty cool. First, they took me to hair and makeup complete with the giant mirror with all the bulbs and directors chair. That was the best part for me and I asked the makeup artist if she can come to my house every morning because I REFUSE to do my own makeup any longer. It took me all of two minutes to become Mariah Carey. A little bit of this, and some powder of that, and then a swish and a fluff and at the end I looked like myself but enhanced. We really underestimate the power of makeup and how artistic it really is.
Afterwards I got to be miked and interviewed where I pretty much just sat in front of a bunch of men and lights and cameras and answered questions about the Islanders. That was fun but it was nerve wracking not knowing what they were going to ask beforehand (I don’t like improv). Then they took me outside on the street and I got to pose awkwardly for some photos in front of strangers trying to get home after work.
During the season, they played 3 of A.J’s commercial. At the start of the season they were playing them so much we called him the face of the Islanders. People would stop him and say “are you that guy on tv?”. They finally released a commercial where we were both discussing our upcoming wedding and all the hockey related things we were going to have–but mostly that commercial featured him and they quickly cut to me saying 2 words and nodding a lot like an idiot. I still can’t believe I (the girl who dreamed of being an actress for years) was upstaged by my husband who hates taking pictures and speaking to other people. They cut my scenes?! Well shit. I thought I did well and they told me they loved the stories I told but apparently they also told my husband the same thing. That’s showbiz for you.
Walking home I started thinking how stars get obsessed with the way they look. We have some celebrities we’ve never seen without makeup on and now I get it–I got to look like myself but enhanced and it was nice to have that boost of confidence. I walked down the street all sassy because I felt good. And I guess when your fans have always seen the 2.0 version of you, it’s hard to go back because You just looks so basic. I’m glad I live in the real world where it’s opposite–most days my hair is ok and I do what I can with my face but then for events I go all out and people are pleasantly surprised that I look so much better instead of being disappointed.
It’s bad enough that our phones and Instagram have filters to enhance our photos but then some people actually pay money to buy apps to fix their pictures even more! So now on the internet we’re just competing with a bunch of fake faces and, for travel sites, fake places that have been photoshopped to hell and I’m here wondering if we could all just please be happy to be you and me.
I would so much rather see a real deal photo of a celebrity on their Instagram than the fairytale nonsense. I wanna see that messy bun on your head, and your sweatpants eating a bowl of cereal at 11pm. Thank god for Chrissy Teigen cuz for all the glamour there’s also an equal number of pictures with her showcasing her double chins and I appreciate that. I think most people do. I follow this fitness person from Australia, Emily Skye, who recently posted a photo of herself (she’s also pretty real on the Insta) and I couldn’t believe people were commenting meanly about her barely visible loose skin after having a fucking baby 9 months ago. Complete strangers feel like they can say things on the internet like that but would NEVER say it to someones face. It’s infuriating but also very very sad. So you have to stop and think that yeah, it’s really scary to be real as a celebrity because you can only take so many mean comments a day even if you have thick skin.
Here are pictures from that day at MSG. The first one I took myself showing off my new glasses. And yes, there is an Instagram filter on that.
These are after the shoot in my bathroom, and obviously evident that I’m a diva now with my new enhanced face. It looks like I barely have makeup on but I was in the chair for 20 minutes and under 3 layers. It has no filter because the layers of makeup ARE the filter, darling. Boom.
When my husband finished Grad school I decided to give him a little summer getaway weekend. One of his favorite bands (Primus) was playing a show in Philly and I found a deal online for tickets around $30. He’s never been to Philly so I figured two birds with one stone. Of course, this was in the middle of wedding planning so we didn’t have a lot of funds to play around with, but my middle name is Deals (well, really Christina), so I figured out how to pay the least amount as possible for a 3 day weekend.
My friend had told me to use Airbnb and I was really hesitant because it seems weird staying in someone else’s house. Plus they have keys to the place so can kill or rob me as well…but I guess they can do that at a hotel too so I could take a chance. It helped that I got $40 credit for my friends referral code. I tried to find a place that was central to everywhere we wanted to be, and I found a new listing. After the credit it was only going to be $164 for 2 nights which seemed like a steal and cheaper than any hotel in the city. There weren’t any reviews up yet but I messaged the lady and she seemed normal so I decided to have some faith. And we really lucked out–it ended up being a townhouse on a quiet street that was decorated like a picture out of Elle Decor.
**use my Airbnb referral code to get $40 off your first trip! I’ve used it a couple of times now and haven’t gotten killed so take a chance if you’re on the fence like I was: airbnb referral
Philly has limited (and expensive) street parking so we found a garage a few blocks away and used Spothero to leave the car for 2 days which ended up costing about $32. We stopped at the supermarket to grab things for breakfast so we could save money on a meal. I also brought bottles of water, Gatorade, and snacks from home. We were hardcore dealing on this trip but also going to have fun. That’s how I roll.
About a month before our trip, I started looking for Groupons and realized that there was a lot of food deals and that could help cut down on costs. I researched what areas we would be in and the closest deals I could find at places that got good ratings. It’s a little bit of work but worth it in the end. Plus, I bought the Groupons during a 20% off day AND got Ebates against those orders. I would call that winning.
Dinner at CommonWealth w/ drinks: groupon $16+ spent $26 = total $42
Brunch at Toast: groupon $19.50 + tip $10 (we both ended up tipping b/c we didn’t communicate with each other!) = total $29.50
Dinner Finn McCools: groupon $10 + spent $23= total $33
Unfortunately all the major tourist attractions and museums require money to get in so we tried to focus on free things–parks, walking by Betsy Ross’ house, and walking on the outside of the Liberty Bell (I don’t know why people stand on line to see it when it’s surrounded by glass and you can see it perfectly fine from the outside!). The only
exception I made was for the Franklin Institute (an interactive science museum) which was a bit disappointing. I’ve been going there since I was young and thought it was so cool which isn’t the case when you’re 32. Plus I think the place has lost its luster and some exhibits need to be repaired.
The great thing about Philly is its very walkable and being New Yorkers 1.5 miles (our longest trek) was nothing. And it saved us money instead of taking Uber! The bad thing is the street parking—there isn’t any. And, when you finally find it, it costs $2.25 for ONE hour! No thanks. The other good thing is that I had a 10% off credit all rides on Lyft during that time and a car in any direction was about $10 or less which isn’t really bad.
This is the breakdown of the total we spent that weekend. I think we did pretty well considering we spent 3 nights in Boston during Memorial Day weekend that same year and spent about $1,200 total! That did NOT include any fancy meals.
If you plan ahead, cheap doesn’t mean lame. We did a wine tasting, went to a concert, and visited a local brewery. I’d call that a pretty awesome weekend.
PHILLY SPENDING BREAKDOWN:
Tickets to Primus show: $40
Airbnb for 2 nights: $164 (with $40 referral credit)
Spothero parking for 2 days: $32.01
Food groupons: $136.50
Misc costs: $66
3 Ubers/Lyfts: $29.01
Wine and cheese tasting groupon: $13.60 + $5 tip= $18.60