Fire Island 2017


Welcome back to Tantalizingly Tasteful!

Vacations can be hard to take, especially when you’re a young college student who’s summer job hasn’t started yet. Planning a vacation around everyone else’s schedules makes things even harder. Enter the staycation, a term we’ve all become familiar with by now. Vacationing in your own local vicinity. It’s (more) affordable and easy to plan, and a decent substitute when jetting off somewhere just isn’t possible.

It’s hard to believe that a week ago, I was sitting on the beach in Fire Island. All there was to worry about was tanning evenly and listening to good music. No cars, no parents, no responsibilities, no worries.  The ultimate staycation.

Here’s a little look into last week’s staycation on Fire Island!

Wednesday, May 31

The four of us gathered at Torie’s house so we could drive to the ferry, a quick half-hour trip. It was Torie, Dani, Lauren and I. We shoved duffle bags and coolers into the drunk and drove off to catch our early evening ferry.

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Of course the trip started with us packed into a car! From left to right: Torie, me, Lauren and Dani

I used to get boat sick when I was younger, but thankfully, that’s no longer the case. The ferry has become one of the best parts of the trip to Fire Island. I love the view of the ocean, the smell of the salt water, the feel of the breeze. It’s so relaxing and really gets you in the mood to relax on the beach. Plus, it’s the perfect place for the first photoshoot of the getaway!

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A shot of Dani and I on the ferry

We finally set foot on Fire Island around 6:30 or so, so we had missed out on the beach for the day. It can get pretty cold at night, so we went to the house (borrowed from a family friend of Dani’s who only goes on the weekends), unpacked, and ate dinner on the deck. We had a fantastic view of the sunset.

We finished off our night with a walk around the neighborhood. We usually walk into town, but this time around, we walked the opposite direction, choosing our turns randomly. We ended up at the beach for a late-night chat. When we were tired, we went back to the house and cuddled up for the night.

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My outfit of the day! Top: Mossimo; Jeans: Old Navy; Jacket: 1st Kiss; Sandals: Steve Madden; Headband: Target

Thursday, June 1

Dani is an early riser. I, on the other hand, am not. But, she insisted we get up early and take a walk, so Torie, Lauren and I obliged. We walked through town to discover yet another part of the neighborhood. On our walk, we found a school that we didn’t know existed. This gave us a new task: find a Fire Island local. We had so many questions about their lives in the off-seasons, but we couldn’t seem to find any answers. We asked every store employee we ran into if they were a year-rounder or not, and even though none of them were, we were able to answer some of our questions.

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Naturally our walk included a photoshoot! From left to right: Torie, Lauren and I

We found this great market, The Pantry, that we had never been to before, and were thrilled to get our hands on some iced coffee. We continued walking through town, this time stopping to enjoy some local art and scenery.

 

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Torie and I loving life… and our iced coffee! Yes, that says “life,” Torie’s just covering the l.

 

Then, it was finally time for the beach. We changed into our bathing suits, packed our beach bags, and walked the short walk to the beach. Before long, I was laying under the sun, listening to the waves crash. The sun was strong and the water was cold, so it was the perfect balance. Before long, we were met by Dani’s friend, Rachel, who joined us for sunbathing and photoshoots.

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Love my friends and this picture! From left to right: Lauren, Dani, Torie and I
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The cold water couldn’t keep me away! Bathing suit: Clean Water; Top: American Eagle; Sunglasses: Tilly’s; Hat: Powerfect
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A peek at the back of my suit while cuddling Dani

After the beach, we went back to the house to clean up for our one fancy dinner out. We all wanted to look trendy and fashionable, like one should when on vacation with their fabulous friends. We walked through town, trying to find a place to eat and to learn more about the locals. And, of course, we stopped for more photos.

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A shot of the five of us captured by a lovely lady who stopped for us. From left to right: Rachel, me, Dani, Torie and Lauren
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My outfit for the night. Romper: Xhilaration; Jacket: 1st Kiss; Sandals: Steve Madden; Wristlet: Kenneth Cole Reaction; Sunglasses: Tilly’s
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Had to stop for a (fabulous) snapshot of Lauren and I!

We ultimately decided on a restaurant called the Island Mermaid, where we met the owner and were challenged to find a grammar mistake in his writing. (Please, do not get me started on this, because I found so many that Torie confiscated the articles from me). We sat outside, which meant an awesome view, and just enjoyed each other’s company. Oh, and the food! It was such a great night, if you ask me.

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The sunset view from our table was stunning!
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The only thing that could beat our sunset view was my view! From left to right: Torie, Rachel, Dani and Lauren
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My delicious meal, called the Gourmet Burger (no bun!), which was served with a mixed green salad and garlic mashed potatoes

After dinner, we walked further into town to go into my usual Fire Island ice cream shop, Scoops. Once we were all served, we headed back to the house, where we played some games (how many Target departments can you name without repeats?) and talked until it was time for bed.

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LOVE Scoop’s Birthday Cake ice cream!

Friday, June 2

We woke up early on our last morning so we could enjoy it as much as possible. We tidied up the house so it would be ready for the owners that afternoon, and then got to the beach to repeat the previous day’s routine.

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Dani and I wearing “The Bathing Suit,” as we refer to it.
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Seriously, keeping me out of the water is a difficult feat.
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Dani couldn’t resist a selfie of her two worlds colliding! From left to right: (front) Dani; (back) Lauren, Rachel, Torie and I

When we got back to the house, we packed our stuff and finally got to meet the incredible woman who lets us borrow her house when she’s not there. Dani and Rachel were staying an extra night, so Torie, Lauren and I grabbed our bags, said our goodbyes, and headed for the ferry… where we waited an hour and half because we misread the schedule.

Grey storm clouds hung over us as we boarded the ferry. We were leaving our vacation behind. It had been relaxing, fun and memorable, with lots of laughs and new catchphrases (right, “LAAAADIES?”). But, of course, I couldn’t miss out on one, last photoshoot opportunity.

 

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Torie took this after much convincing. Bathing suit: Merona; Top: American Eagle; Pants: H&M; Jacket: 1st Kiss; Sandals: Steve Madden; Sunglasses: Tilly’s

 

It’s only been a week and I’m already ready to go back. I miss the sun and the sand and the sea… and it doesn’t help that the weather these days has been iffy. But until I go back, I’ve got some other things to plan for, like Camp St. Paul in just two weeks! Well, I guess I’ll see you next summer, Fire Island.

xx,

Toni

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Looking Back at Washington, D.C.


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The beautiful view from the Lincoln Memorial

I got back from Washington, D.C. on Sunday night, but honestly, it feels like forever ago already. I had been so excited for my trip beforehand, and then it went by in the blink of an eye. Here’s a look back at my weekend!

Friday, November 4

Traveling is never the fun part of traveling. On Friday afternoon, I had to get on a 1:19 train to get to Penn Station and meet my friend Demi. The train alone took just under two hours. Demi and I then walked ten minutes to Port Authority to meet our friend (and her “fousin”) Stella for a four-and-a-half-hour bus ride from New York City to Washington, D.C. The bus ride itself took up a majority of our day and was completely exhausting, but it was nice to get a chance to catch up.

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Finally getting into Union Station (which is totally beautiful, BTW!) From top top bottom: me, Demi and Stella

When we finally made it to Union Station at around 9:30, we were so tired and barely wanted to go out, but we fought through it. We took a taxi to the Renaissance Hotel in Dupont Circle, where our friend Anastacia was already waiting for us. We rushed to get ready and eventually made it out for the first event of Panhellenism Weekend 2016 by midnight.

Saturday, November 5

I guess the first party should probably go here since it was after midnight… But we walked a few blocks (and then Ubered because we got a little lost) to this super-cool four-floor club/bar called Ozio for the first event. Luckily, we didn’t wait on line to get in for more than 20 minutes, and in the meantime, I got to chat with some friends from camp I hadn’t seen since August. To me, that was better than the actual party.

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It was so great to catch up with friends this past weekend! From left to right: me, Raquel, Steph (who was one of my first camp counselors!) and Victoria

The club was totally cramped. Like, the kind of cramped where you can barely breathe. And that’s doable when you’re with your friends and know the people around you. But it’s a whole other story when the people around your are drunk strangers. Long story short, it wasn’t long before I got uncomfortable and wanted to go to sleep. I had expected a great, long night of dancing with my friends, but there wasn’t even enough room for that. I was disappointed to say the least.

We didn’t get back to the hotel room until 3AM, and didn’t really get to bed until five, but when we woke up in the morning, we were ready to take on the day… kinda. While my friends went to a brunch for alumni of Ionian Village, a Greek Orthodox sleep away camp in Greece (which needs your help, BTW!), I stayed in the hotel room and worked on my NaNoWriMo story (I am so behind now, don’t even get me started) and FaceTimed my friend Maria to catch her up on what happened the night before.

When the girls were done with the brunch, Anastacia and Stella came back to the hotel to get me and Demi hung out with her friend from Ionian Village. The girls and I walked to the Lincoln Memorial with our friend Niko. It was so warm out and the scenery was so beautiful, with leaves changing colors and fashionable people walking past us. I loved D.C., but it was definitely a little quiet for someone like me, who loves New York City.

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I couldn’t put my camera down at the Lincoln Memorial
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Had to get a shot of Abe…

We met up with some of our friends at the Lincoln Memorial and took some awesome pictures (shout out to great lighting!). I wish I had gotten to do more sightseeing though, but we had limited time and Stella had to meet up with some friends from high school.

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Anastacia and I in front of Abraham Lincoln… I guess we cut him out
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A shot of my outfit, courtesy of Stella! We took a ton of pictures in the spot because the lighting was great.
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Stel and I chilling on the steps
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Had to get a shot by the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, even if the sun was in our eyes

The three of us took a taxi to Georgetown and I was immediately in love. It was so trendy, clean, historic and photogenic. We literally stepped out of the car into a brick alley that was just begging to be photographed, so we had yet another photoshoot (shout out to Anastacia and the brick wall for giving me something to use for my photo class project).

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The love I have for these two is insane… thanks to you two (and Demi) for coming on this adventure with me
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Posing with Anastacia
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All smiles (and all black) with Stella

When Stella left us to visit her high school friends, Anastacia and I grabbed lunch at a restaurant called J. Paul. They had really yummy pretzel bread as an appetizer, and Anastacia was totally obsessed with her sandwich. I got a crab cake sandwich, figuring it was something more regional and something I was much less likely to get at home, and it was alright. When we were done, we headed to Forever 21 for some last-minute accessory shopping. I bought a pair of earrings and Anastacia got a choker. We then found Stella, the girls stopped for bubble tea (I tried a sip for the first time, still not sure what I think), and headed back to the hotel for a nap.

We got ready for the night and were ready to leave around 11:30 or so. The event was at the historic Howard Theatre, which was stunning to say the least. The line was so short, which was a plus, and there was food (even though all I had was one mac and cheese bite). There was much more space to dance, but my feet were killing me from the night before and the day of walking, which was a bummer. I was able to catch up with some friends, and snagged a seat next to my cousin Dionysia to chat for a while.

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Catching up with my amazing and incredible cousin Di

Stella and I finally decided to head back to the hotel around two because we were exhausted. We stayed up a little while longer just talking, but eventually fell asleep before Demi and Anastacia had even gotten back to the room.

Sunday, November 6

I woke up the next morning in a panic. The clock next to me said 11:30 and our bus back to New York was at 2:15. We hadn’t even started packing our stuff up yet, and everyone except for Anastacia, who had gone to church and wasn’t leaving until 4, was still in bed. Then, I remembered daylight savings time was a thing and calmed down. We eventually got up, packed our things, checked out and headed to West End Bistro, a restaurant Stella’s sister had recommended for brunch.

Honestly, if you’re in D.C. and around the Dupont Circle/Ritz-Carlton Hotel area, I highly, highly recommend West End Bistro. The staff was so accommodating and friendly. The restaurant itself was stunning. The food was spectacular (even if it was a bit expensive for my taste).  I got the WEB Breakfast Burger, which had an actual burger with cheddar cheese, a sunny side egg (which I usually don’t even like), bacon, and caramelized onions on a brioche bun and French fries on the side. It was so, so amazing.

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MY AMAZING WEST END BISTRO BRUNCH

Stella, Demi and I said goodbye to Anastacia and finally made it to Union Station but, wouldn’t you know it, our bus is late. We thought we were going to miss the bus, but it didn’t leave till around three. And then we hit traffic. We were supposed to get into Port Authority by 6:35, which meant I’d be able to take a 7:18 train back to Stony Brook, but we didn’t get in until closer to seven, which gave me absolutely no time to make it back to Penn Station and grab my train. So, we grabbed dinner at Port Authority (chain pizza and pasta, anyone?) and then Demi and I left Stella to head towards Penn. I finally got back to Stony Brook around 10:40, a whole hour later than I was supposed to and eight hours after I started traveling. Like I said, traveling is exhausting.

So now you’ve (presumably) read a lot about what I did during the day, but here are my thoughts. D.C. is stunning, and I wish I could’ve spent more time enjoying the city and the sights than waiting on lines for parties I barely enjoyed and being squashed in between people. Also, next time I go, I want to go for a longer amount of time so I can better enjoy it.  And if I do go to Panhellenism Weekend 2017, likelihood is I’ll only be attending one night event (in much more comfortable shoes!)  and spending the other night taking in our country’s capital.

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Another beautiful view in Georgetown (which I think is the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal but honestly I’m not sure)

I hope this post gave you a little bit of a look into my life and my head. Let me know about any of your own experiences traveling or in Washington, D.C., or tell me about other places I should check out! Hope you’re out there loving the world!

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Kisses to you, Tasters!!

xx,

Toni

Email: tantilizinglytasteful@gmail.com

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Why I Love Working Out with Friends + Yummy Salads with LP


Today’s post should’ve been about my weekend in Connecticut for an Orthodox Christian retreat, but unfortunately, that plan fell through. So instead, I’m here to tell you all about why working out with friends makes exercising fun, easy and motivational, at least from my perspective.

 

 

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Clearly, my friend Lauren and I are both Nike girls! Our sneaks are pictures with my beloved Zumba shake weights (the green ones, which are 1 lb., came with the Zumba Exhilarate DVD set, and the purple ones, which are 2.5 lbs., came with the Zumba Tone Up DVD set) and my BPA-free fruit infuser water bottle, which you can get here.

 

 

Don’t get me wrong, I love working out on my own. It’s this weird power trip: nothing goes straight to my head more than a half hour of beast mode at the gym. But there’s also some great benefits to working out with your friends, and not just physical ones. And it doesn’t even have to be in a class, it can be at home or in your neighborhood. I’ve done both, and they can both be equally fun and inspirational.

  1. Accountability: There’s no bailing out on exercising when you’ve made plans to hit the gym or pound the pavement. Your friends will make sure you show up, on time, and put all your energy into your workout.
  2. Motivation: When you feel like there’s no going on and you’ve exhausted every last bit of energy you had, your friends are there to cheer you on and keep you going. It’s a lot harder to do that all on your own, just saying.
  3. Positivity: How many times a day do we tell ourselves that we’re not good enough, not performing well enough or just not up to par with everyone else? Friends and workout buddies are there to nip any negativity right in the bud and raise you up again.
  4. Catching Up: Sometimes, a workout sesh can be just what you need to catch up with your pals. In between push-ups or during laps around the track, you can be gabbing about what’s going on in your life. Not only is the conversation great, but it also makes the workout go by quicker. The perfect way to multitask!
  5. Trying New Things: Friends are the perfect people to drag along when you want to try out a new workout. Whether it’s a class like Zumba or SoulCycle, or even just a new routine, having a friend to try it out with you can make the activity less daunting and more fun. Last summer, when I wanted to give running a try, I went on walks/runs with my best friend Lauren who also wanted to try something new. Having her with me made me less scared to try and more excited for something new.
  6. Answering Questions: I can’t even begin to explain to you the number of questions I have had about different workout machines at the gym. I was always too scared to use them because I didn’t know, but whenever I go to the gym with my friend Alyssa, who is definitely more athletic than I am, she can answer my questions and tell me what to do. It’s definitely reassuring to have someone who has my back explain what each machine in easy, plain terms so I can understand it.

Since I didn’t get to go to the retreat this weekend, I got to spend Saturday morning and afternoon with my best friend Lauren, who has been one of my best and constant workout partners for a while now. From our Zumba sessions with our other besties Torie, Dani, and Emily, to our morning summer runs on our local trails, Lauren is always there to keep me positive and motivated. She came over in the morning to do Zumba, specifically the DVDs from the Zumba Tone Up System (get the 5 DVD set here.) We did about 35 minutes, with 15 of it doing the Amazing Abs, and the rest working out biceps and triceps. After a week of not working out because I was sick, it was so energizing to get back into the groove. Plus, I hadn’t seen Lauren in a few weeks, so it was a great chance to catch up and gossip while working out our abs.

 

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Our post-workout meal!

 

After our workout, Lauren and I went to this super awesome salad place called Chopt, and I totally loved it! It’s like the Chipotle of salads- pick from a variety of toppings to create your own salad or order a salad off the menu. I got a Santa Fe salad, which had romaine lettuce, corn, avocado, pepper jack cheese, grape tomatoes, (delicious) homemade fried onions, and sweet and smoky chipotle vinaigrette. I also added steak, which was totally yummy. Though my salad was a little spicy, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was so filling and super delish.

 

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My delish Chopt salad!!

 

Lauren ordered the Mexican Caesar salad, which comes with romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, cotija cheese, jalapeno peppers (which Lauren subbed for cucumbers), tortilla chips, and Mexican Caesar dressing. She said hers was spicy too, but it smelled really good and I know she totally loved it!

 

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Doesn’t Lauren’s order look yummy, too?

 

My favorite part of working out with Lauren is getting to catch up and having her there to motivate me, but the tasty food we sometimes get afterwards doesn’t hurt either!! And it’s good to know that the feeling is mutual. I asked Lauren what she likes about working out with a buddy, she agreed with me and said, “Ok so working out with friends is more fun because you not only work out but you can catch up. The time passes quicker and you can share new techniques with each other. It’s great to motivate each other.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. Best friends think alike, I think!

 

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Lauren trying out her salad post-workout.

 

Lauren and I went back to her house after we got our Chopt salads so we could eat and watch HGTV, which is one of our post-workout routines. Nothing is more rewarding to me after working out than a laid-back afternoon with my bestie! Let me know what keeps you motivated to work out, what your healthy post-workout routine is or if you’ve given fitness with friends a try! Keep on working, Tasters, you’ve got this!

xx,

Toni

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