Aaaaand I’m back in Chicago. I mentioned it before, but the reason I fly back so often is because I’m finishing up a work project here. It has its perks and downfalls but that’s besides the point…

Let’s move on to the weekend! After spending a few days down in the dumps (who still says that?!?), Friday brought with it recovery and a great mood! I chose to spend the weekend in solidarity for the most part, aside from grabbing drinks with a friend one night. Sometimes all a girl needs is some alone time.

randoms

{Randoms: *showing off my new top in a color that is brand new to my closet* Trawffles have returned! * I’m continuing to give Quest bars a chance…I gotta try all the flavors!*}

Saturday

{After an emotionally-draining week, I wanted nothing more than to sleep in on Saturday morning and dedicate the day to doing whatever the hell I pleased. After sleeping for a double-digit number of hours (glorious), I stopped by the salon to get a quick manicure and then took a long stroll through Central Park to visit the West side of town. As much as I love the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side certainly pulls at my heartstrings. Every time I visit the UWS, I start convincing myself that I need to eventually pack my things and move across town – the wide streets, brownstone stairs and buildings, liveliness, I love it! But then, as soon as I step foot in the UES again, I realize that I’m exactly where I should be right now.}

Saturday

{The truth is, my main mission on Saturday was to visit a place I’ve been dying to see since moving out East – Columbia University. With the eventual return to school constantly in the back of my mind, I wasn’t sure how I would react to being surrounded by academia. The truth is, I really truly madly deeply miss school. I sincerely miss using my mind in the ways that I did back in college. I have yet to be challenged like that in my career and it’s no surprise that my mind longs to be stretched to its limits. Anyway, Columbia is a beautiful university but it felt a bit lonely to me.}

race

{I ran my first race of the Fall season yesterday! It was an un-timed 5K (I didn’t realize it was un-timed when registering) but it still felt great to run my first race in New York. Recap coming later this week!}

street fair

{Oh New York, you never cease to surprise me. I was greeted with blocked off streets and a sea of people as I approached my apartment post-race. Apparently there was a huge street fair planned for Sunday and it was conveniently located steps from my studio! I quickly finished up all my necessary errands, packed my suitcase, and headed out to explore for the remaining two hours available before my flight. Highlights included a huge Vince Camuto sale (I was a good adult and didn’t buy anything), loose-leaf tea (I bought five bags…oops), the most amazing roasted corn on the cob, and horseradish pickles.}

I am honestly dreading these next ten days. It’s our official and final major release at work and I am swamped! Because of this major milestone, I’m stuck in the Midwest until next week. New York, how can I be away from you for that long?!

What is your favorite way to spend the weekends?

Are you looking forward to Fall races?

Quest bars – yay or nay?

♥ Irina

Hello hello hello! Well look at me, posting on time?!? Shocker. It’s been a crazy busy past few days – my parents stayed with me last week and I flew back to Chicago last night. In case you’re wondering (and I’m sure you’re not), I fly back to Chicago this often because I still work on a project here…I basically split my time working between New York and Chicago. We’re approaching one of our two major releases on this project and it’s been busy busy busy around these parts! I’m here for an entire week this time around, but I can’t deny that I’m missing Manhattan already!

Now let’s get back to this past week/weekend.

family visit

{I’m cheating again by showing you photos that were from the week and not the weekend, but I couldn’t resist! Some highlights from my parents’ visit: * desserts from Maison Kayser, which is dangerously close to my apartment * oysters oysters and more oysters from Flex Mussels (followed by 2lbs of mussels and champagne…duh), which is also too close for comfort * Broadway show, Forever Tango, featuring Karina and Maksim from Dancing With The Stars…I loved it!!! *}

weekend

{First and foremost, Trawffles are back!!! Aren’t they beautiful? Get ready because this is just the beginning of Chocolatier Irina. This weekend was the first in a while that I had to myself, so I took full advantage of my rare free time. With an iced coffee in hand, I set out to stroll around my beloved city. Some new bedding and a gorgeous silk dress may have made their way into my possession. Photos to follow soon…}

weekend

{It’s official, I’m absolutely obsessed with curling my hair! Seriously, I feel like a bombshell when wearing this hairstyle. I use this curling iron in 1-1.5″(it’s actually a curling wand) and love the simplicity of it. Much of my weekend was also spent organizing the tremendous amount of stuff my parents drove over from Chicago. I have to point out the perfectly positioned inspiration board I created at the start of this year – it’s ideally hidden in my coat closet for only me to see when I need a reminder of my 2013 goals. And finally, you see that pretty sky blue top? I bought it at Macy’s for under $30! It was $98 when I first tried it on (and fell in love) and believe it or not, I almost bought it! Lesson learned…patience is a virtue and sales are worth waiting for.}

I’m bracing myself for an incredibly busy next few weeks, and truth be told I’m not looking forward to it. While the completion of our major work project will surely bring me great satisfaction and an awesome feeling of pride, the final stretch will be exhausting. I also have to confess that I’m eagerly awaiting the end of September when there is minimal traveling and no visitors planned. I’m in need of some Irina time!

Are you a lone wolf or a social butterfly?

Any organizing tips for small spaces?

What’s your favorite hairstyle?

♥ Irina

One word: December. How? I’m in denial and the unusually warm weather keeps my mind in an autumn mentality. The weekend flew by and for some reason I feel more exhausted than ever.

{This deserves the first spot in the weekend highlights…we finally got a new washer and dryer! No more destroyed clothing, random burn marks, and earthquake-like shaking with every laundry load!}

{Shopping randoms: gummy bears and worms (addiction is still going strong), candy canes, pepper, and a festive new dish to make buckwheat bakes}

{The Santa Hustle 5K was on Saturday. I had many gripes with this race but seeing the sea of red (8000 Santa Clauses!) was great. Recap coming later this week!}

{Saturday was the busiest day of the weekend. After the Santa Hustle I made myself presentable and headed over to Sierra’s beautiful apartment for our monthly book club! I finally got to meet all the lovely blogger ladies I’ve been reading for many months and had a great time chatting with everyone. Our food was obviously fantastic and I plan to remake many of the dishes that others brought if they’re willing to share. I brought chocolate-peanut butter-apricot Trawffles that actually turned out quite ugly. We also had a white elephant gift exchange and I ended up with a Harry Potter wand pen thanks to Lindsay.}

{Some weekend eats: crockpot cranberry sauce (I had a craving), my sister’s fish stew, a chocolate version of the happy trails adventure cookies, pumpkin waffle (my pumpkin obsession is sadly still going strong)}

{Christmas decoration time! We bought a beautiful live tree and started decorating it last night. Hopefully, we’ll put up the ornaments today so I can show you the final result later this week.}

Who has a holiday race planned before the year ends?

Any other gummy bear/worm/anything addicts out there?

♥ Irina

The other day the lovely Amanda posted this fun survey and I couldn’t resist taking it as well.

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1. What did you eat for breakfast?
This entire week I’ve been eating pumpkin spice buckwheat bakes for breakfast. I’m addicted I tell ya! I prepare and pre-mix most of the ingredients the night before so that early morning all I need to do is add in the wet ingredients, pop it into the microwave, and eat! So simple and so delicious.

2. How much water do you drink a day?
Hmm I’m not sure, but I would say somewhere around 8-10 8oz glasses a day. I have one 24oz water bottle that I drink through the day along with two or three 16oz cups of tea. Needless to say (and TMI), but I always have to pee.

3. What is your current favorite workout?
Running! I’ve hated working out my entire life until running entered the picture. I don’t work out, never have, and likely never will unless it has something to do with strengthening myself as a runner. The best part is that I refuse to look at running as a workout – it’s simply something that I do because I enjoy it.

4. How many calories do you eat a day?
Ummm…I have absolutely no idea. I couldn’t even give you an approximation! I tried calorie-counting once my freshman year in college for 3 months out of curiosity and it did a lot more harm than good. Long gone are the days that calories even enter my mind. After all, food isn’t a number!

5. What are your favorite healthy snacks?
Good question, but I don’t think it’s right to categorize food as healthy and unhealthy. What may be healthy to someone may not be healthy to someone else. And plus, what about all the foods that are deemed “unhealthy” (cakes, cupcakes, etc.) but are so so so good (and healthy!) for the soul? Our mental state of mind contributes to our health just as much as food and nutrition does. Anyway, if I were to choose something that most would consider healthy and it fits my standards of making me emotionally happy, I would probably choose the recovering runner’s rice crispy treats. I’ve been eating them like a mad woman daily and enjoying every bite!

6. What do you usually eat for lunch?
It depends whether I’m traveling or not. I typically bring my own lunch when I work downtown. My staples are quinoa or rice bowls, hardboiled eggs and tons of avocado as garnish, Portobello mushroom sandwiches, spaghetti squash dishes, and veggie stir-fry. To be perfectly honest, I’m getting tired of these meals and am in desperate need of a creative change!

7. What is your favorite body part to strength train?
Strength training, what’s that? No but seriously, someone please make me strength train because I know how beneficial it is to runners and I really want to become a better and faster runner.

8. What is your least favorite body part to strength train?
Well, considering that I hate all forms of pain associated with working out, I would probably say everything. With that said, I have no idea why I run and actually enjoy the activity as much as I do even when it causes me physical pain. Basically, I have no answer to this question because now I’m just confused…

9. What are your “bad” food cravings?
Please see #5. Bad, good, healthy, unhealthy – UGH! Come on now, these terms are all relative! Maybe I shouldn’t have started this survey…

10. Do you take vitamins or supplements?
Yes indeed! The list includes: actual fish oil (not pills), calcium, gummy bear vitamins, and probiotics (not pills but the actual live liquid).

11. How often do you eat out? 
Again, that depends on whether I’m traveling or not. If I’m away for the work week I eat out daily. When working out of Chicago I limit my restaurant adventures to once a week, but that’s a loose estimate and varies from week to week depending on my mood and cravings.

12. Do you eat fast food?
Heck yes! Let’s be real here – there are some great food options that would technically fall under the “fast food” category. My most recent fast food favorite came in the form of a magical cream puff from Beard Papa’s. Sorry to break the news to all you Chicagoans, but the place just closed down this week. It’s devastating because these were indescribably delicious!

13. Who is your biggest supporter?
My mom is hands down my biggest fan and supporter. She willingly comes to most of my races no matter how big or small, she stands behind my decisions no matter how wild they are, and she loves me no matter how mean I can occasionally be. I am a lucky girl and forever grateful. Now that’s love ♥

14. Do you have a gym membership?
Yea right. Last time I had a gym membership was back in 2006 and I went about 5 times total. It was a waste of money and I’ll never buy one again. I told you, I don’t like working out!

15. How many hours of sleep do you get a night?
Definitely not enough. I go to bed around 10:30PM on weekdays and wake up at 6AM, giving me about 7 hours of sleep. I suspect my ideal number is 8 hours, but I only achieve that on weekends. I will say this though: once upon a time while I was working at an internship I didn’t sleep enough and felt miserable every single damn day. I had no idea at the time that my depressive feelings were tied to the fact that I was only getting 5-6 hours of sleep a night (as well as the fact that I was in the wrong career but that’s beside the point). Lesson learned!

16. Do you have a “cheat” day?
Ugh come on guys! Again with the good and bad, cheat days and good days. Since when is eating so polarized? I guess there are days when I don’t eat enough wholesome foods and replace meals with desserts (story of my high school days), but everything balances out in the end if you do as your body tells you.

17. Do you drink alcohol?
*Giggle* I’m embarrassed to admit just how wild I used to be back in college. Please tell me you were as well? I went to a large state school, what do you expect?

18. Do you have a workout buddy?
Nope, it’s just me, myself and I! I actually enjoy my solo runs (see question #3) but as of last weekend Kelly and I ran together and I discovered just how much I loved running with a buddy! I’m thinking I need some sole (see what I did there?) sister bonding at least a few times per month – there are just too many benefits to running with others that I can’t pass up.

19. What is the best thing that has changed about your life since committing to a healthy lifestyle?
It has made me more creative and simplistic. I am quickly learning how to bake different versions of things to suit all lifestyles (gluten-free, vegan, etc.) and create meals that are simple, wholesome, and filling. Most importantly, it has helped me discover my passions of cooking/baking and nutrition. Refrain from making any sexist jokes when I say that I feel most comfortable in the kitchen.

20. What was the last healthy thing you did?
I just ate a piece of minty chocolate.

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Your turn! Answer one or all of these questions. I’m always interested in learning more about you all!

♥ Irina