Looking Back at Washington, D.C.


Washington1-4.jpg
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.

washington2-6
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.

washington2-1
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.

Washington1-1.jpg
I couldn’t put my camera down at the Lincoln Memorial
Washington1-2.jpg
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.

washington1-3
Anastacia and I in front of Abraham Lincoln… I guess we cut him out
washington-7
A shot of my outfit, courtesy of Stella! We took a ton of pictures in the spot because the lighting was great.
washington2-5
Stel and I chilling on the steps
washington2-4
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).

washington1-5
The love I have for these two is insane… thanks to you two (and Demi) for coming on this adventure with me
washington3-1
Posing with Anastacia
washington1-6
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.

washington2-3
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.

washington2-7
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.

washington1-7
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!

washington-4
Kisses to you, Tasters!!

xx,

Toni

Email: tantilizinglytasteful@gmail.com

Twitter: @TTasteful

Instagram: @tantalizinglytasteful

Pinterest: @TTasteful

Facebook: Tantalizingly Tasteful

Snapchat: @TTasteful

Advertisements

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.

 

 

lauren-and-salads-7
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.

 

lauren-and-salads-3
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.

 

lauren-and-salads-5
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!

 

lauren-and-salads-4
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!

 

lauren-and-salads-2
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

Email: tantalizinglytasteful@gmail.com

Twitter: @TTasteful

Instagram: @tantalizinglytasteful

Pinterest: @TTasteful

Facebook: Tantalizingly Tasteful

Snapchat: @TTasteful

 

My Love-Hate Relationship with Packing: Connecticut Edition


packing-4

I have always been a girl who loves too much. I love people too much, I love food too much, I love shoes and clothes way too much. Which makes packing for anything a challenge from the get-go. I always pack (you guessed it) too much, and then I have to schlep a gazillion heavy bags to wherever I’m headed. Not. Fun.

But the contradiction lies in the fact that I love packing. There’s something about it that makes me feel so productive and grown-up. Maybe I associate packing with adventure and journeys so I get all excited when I pack. All I know is that packing makes me feel official and gives me purpose.

That’s not to say it’s easy. It definitely isn’t, due very much to my original problem of over-packing. Even when my mom used to pack for me, I would somehow find a way to sneak more and more things into my luggage. My mom hasn’t packed a suitcase for me in close to a decade, so the blame is falling more and more on me, and now that I live in a dorm room and not at home, it is much more imperative for me to pack light for my own convenience and sanity.

I spent five weeks as a counselor at a sleep-away camp called Camp Saint Paul this summer, and even though I was only supposed to stay for four weeks, I somehow managed to pack my suitcase with enough clothing to last me months, even though I had convinced myself that I packed light this year. How in the world could I have been so wrong?

So now, I’m limiting myself.

packing-5

I’m spending the weekend in Connecticut at an Orthodox Christian Fellowship retreat (more details to come soon!), and I am traveling by train, so it was incredibly important that I pack in a smart and efficient manner. I knew exactly what I needed, so I packed no more and no less. I packed:

  • two T-shirts
  • one pair of jeans
  • one pair of joggers
  • one dress
  • one pair of ballet flats
  • one rain jacket
  • one set of pajamas
  • four underwear
  • toiletries: BB cream, mascara, eyeliner, makeup wipes, toothpaste, toothbrush, perfume, deodorant, pads, a razor
  • a pillow
  • a blanket
  • a sleeping bag
  • a journal
  • my planner
  • my Kindle
  • my camera
  • notes to study (I have a media law midterm next week)

packing-3

That’s enough for an outfit on Saturday, an outfit for liturgy on Sunday, and a travel outfit for when I leave the church on Sunday. I’m honestly really proud of myself for the surprisingly light and efficient packing that I did, so here are some of my tips and tricks on how to pack smart!

  1. Make a list: Making a list of what you need to pack without a doubt makes your life easier. It lets you check things off as you go so you can be certain you have everything you need. When I was packing my suitcase for Connecticut, I nearly forgot pajamas. Like, my suitcase was packed and zipped and ready to go, all without pajamas. Thankfully, I consulted my list again and realized my mistake.

    img_5882
    I would be no where in life without the Notes app on my iPhone. This checklist option makes my life so much easier.
  2. Mix and match: Mixing and matching the pieces of your outfit can make packing a million times easier. The less items you need to pack the better, right? Now, I’m not saying pack one underwear or shirt and wear it for the entire duration of your trip, but planning your outfits around re-wearable accessories like shoes will make your packing lighter. I packed one pair of shoes that I need for liturgy on Sunday, and the rest of the time I will be wearing the shoes I’m traveling in, which is my maroon Vans.
  3. Know your itinerary: Knowing what activities you might be preparing in will help you know exactly what you need to pack. Since I knew I’d be attending a church service, for example, I knew I needed to pack a dress and nice shoes. This ensures that I won’t feel out of place or be uncomfortable in any situation presented to me while I’m away.
  4. Early preparation: Getting your packing done earlier instead of waiting till the last minute helps you ensure that you don’t forget anything while getting your things together. Like my issue with the pajamas, I would’ve been much more likely to forget them if I had packed after all of my classes instead of the night before.
  5. Check the weather: Checking the weather of your intended destination will help you pack clothes that you’ll be comfortable in. I knew the forecast for Connecticut this weekend predicted rain, so I made sure to pack my fave raincoat. Even if I’m not outside that much, I’d rather be over-prepared than under-prepared.
  6.  Layer: On the topic of climate, you may not know how it will be inside your destination. Sometimes it’s freezing cold, other times the heat is blasting. By planning out outfits that you can layer with, like a T-shirt and a sweatshirt or sweater, you make sure that you’re prepared for anything.
  7. Solve the puzzle: This might be both the hardest and funnest part. Packing is indeed a puzzle. You need to make the most of the space you have so you can pack as much as possible. The key to this is finding a way to condense your belongings as much as possible and then fit them together almost like Tetris. I tried to accomplish this for this particular trip by stuffing my pillow at the bottom of my suitcase and then packing everything on top of it. I rolled almost all of my clothes so that they would take up the least amount of space possible and could be stacked. Anything that I didn’t fold got placed on top of what was already there. My toiletries sat in any empty spaces. Don’t forget to take advantage of any zipped compartments your suitcase may have!

    packing-1
    A successfully solved puzzle… I think. The clothes I’m going to wear first are on top to make my life a little easier, too!

I’m super glad I got to have this experience with packing because I’m heading on a trip to Washington, D.C. in early November, and even though I’ll need to pack totally different items, this really taught me how to pack more efficiently. I hope you guys have some awesome trips coming up and can use these packing tricks to make your experience a little less stressful! Let me know about any cool adventures you’re taking and any packing stories, mishaps or tips you may have. Happy and safe travels, Tasters!

xx,

Toni

Email: tantilizinglytasteful@gmail.com

Twitter: @TTasteful

Instagram: @tantalizinglytasteful

Pinterest: @TTasteful

Facebook: Tantalizingly Tasteful

Snapchat: @TTasteful

 

Rebranding Me: Beginning A Journey of Self-Discovery


13988274_992847547501614_4617714649525627388_o
“Above all, remember to love yourself.”

My hair used to be brown, then it was brassy red, then the color of red wine, then a dark brown that really looked like black, and now it’s a combination of the four. It occurred to me around the time that I started dyeing my hair that I wasn’t really sure who I was. Sure, I had a vague idea of what I liked and disliked, but I began to realize that many of my “opinions” were actually just the regurgitated words and thoughts of friends and family. I had never consciously sat down and decided exactly what it was that Toni thought, admired or despised, I just repeated what I heard everyone else around me say.

The problem with me not knowing was that if I didn’t know who I was, no one else did either. I have friends that are so completely sure of who they are that you can describe them in a nutshell just minutes after meeting them. I, however, was not one of those people. I blurred the lines of fashion styles, personality, sense of humor. And so I decided, it was about time I defined myself.

I’ve struggled with self-esteem issues since my early teenage years. I was never pretty enough, never funny enough, never well-liked enough, etc. Throughout high school, I compared myself to my friends and classmates, and drove myself insane. I started college out pretty much the same way, until I got tired of that same old routine. I soon realized that the reason I was always so unhappy was that I was comparing myself to other individuals, each of whom was unique and beautiful in their own way. The issue with that is that I was not seeing any of those people in their own context, or even myself in my own context. In other words, I was failing to realize that what may work for one person in their life does not necessarily work for me in mine, and I was making myself unhappy.

That’s when I decided it was time to make a change. I didn’t want to feel lost or discouraged anymore. I wanted to find out who the real Toni was, imperfections and all. And this blog is the (ongoing) story of how I took my first real steps towards rebranding myself.

I’d like to give a shout-out to my mom. A few months ago, I decided I wanted to focus on my health– emotional, physical and mental. She suggested that, in order to keep myself motivated and accountable, I do what I do best and write about my journey. I’m really ready now to tackle this challenge head on. So here I am. Thanks, Mom, here’s to you.

This is just a little bit of background information to explain my blog’s new look and focus. My hope is to update the blog every few days with inspiration, ideas and plans. I hope that these posts will not only help me stay accountable and motivated, but that it will also help other people get out of their ruts and find out who they are.

 

Just a little motivation I found on Tumblr

 

To anyone reading this: We’re in this together. If there’s something you want to read or see from me, or something you want to share, let me know. I’ll leave my contact info below so you can reach me. If you put the work in, and you continue to love yourself, this journey will be worth your while. Best of luck to you. Looking forward to seeing your progress and mine.

xx,

Toni

Email: tantilizinglytasteful@gmail.com

Twitter: @TTasteful

Instagram: @tantalizinglytasteful

Pinterest: @TTasteful

Facebook: Tantalizingly Tasteful

Snapchat: @TTasteful