Matthew Sanchelli is a self-proclaimed “nice guy,” and apparently, something worked, because he’s engaged to be married, and is all up in the wedding planning, right along with his bride-to-be!
Matt, and his fiancee Becca, met online (gives me hope!), and eventually met in-person at a dog park — aww! Check out their joint blog, Love At The Dog Park, which is all about their journey to the altar. But for now, Matt has something to say…
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After getting engaged, one of the first things Becca and I did was go to a used book store in the hopes of finding some advice on planning the type of wedding we wanted.
She had relatively no problem finding books with worthwhile advice targeted toward the bride.
- No matter how stressful it gets I will not have lost sight that I’m planning my. fucking. wedding. This is exciting to me.
- The wedding day is not something I need to survive. I’m looking forward to it just as much as my future wife.
- More variety for dessert. Many weddings are moving away from HUGE, multi-tiered wedding cakes. Numerous flavor combinations of smaller cakes, or cupcakes, are very popular; but I’ve even seen success with cookie platters and pies.
- Cream cheese wedding mints are a MUST. This is my wedding crack.
- No ‘Dollar Dance’. As a wedding guest I’ve typically despised this part of the reception. I’ve only participated in one once since becoming an adult and that was for one of my best friends from college.
- Limited amount of posed photos. My ideal percentage of formal posed photos is no more than 20% of the pictures taken.
- Groom POV video during the beginning of the ceremony. Because I wanted to be able to relive the moment over and over again, exactly as I saw it that very day, until the day I die.
No, I’m not quite cool enough to be featured on an episode of MTV’s Cribs, but yes, that is the inside of my fridge.
After an incredible week back home, it’s time for me to detox and get back on a tight diet — I can’t lie, I’ve put on some pounds this summer, and I’m feeling jiggly in all the wrong places.
So, here we are.
To combat this added weight, of course I’ll be hitting the gym my usual five times per week, but I’m following the Tone it Up Plan, as far as my meals go.
You may recognize Tone it Up trainers Karena and Katrina, from Bravo’s reality show, Tone it Up. Together, they’ve created a lifestyle that revolves around staying active, and of course, eating healthy.
However, the difference with this meal plan is the timing — you eat five times a day, and you eat certain things at particular times of the day (fruity in the morning, clean & green in the evening).
So, I spent Sunday grocery shopping, and then cooking up a storm in order to prepare all of my meals for the week (or maybe two weeks). Here’s some of the things I purchased:
- Salmon & scallops
- Chicken breasts
- Asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts
- Celery, snap peas, bell peppers
- Kale, arugula, baby spinach
- Unsweetened almond milk
- Greek yogurt
- Low-fat string cheese
- Strawberries, blueberries, peaches, lemons
- Chocolite Protein
- Hummus, guacamole
- Flaxseed, granola cereal
I chopped, cooked, and prepared nearly everything! I prepped tupperware containers with meals consisting of salmon (5oz), asparagus or broccoli, & quinoa (1/4 cup); scallops (4oz), quinoa, & brussel sprouts; salad (kale, spinach, arugula, onion, tomato, bell pepper, snap peas, 4oz baked chicken breast & a side of tomato basil vinaigrette — 4tb).
I also prepped tupperware containers with measured protein for shakes, measured almond milk, and measured cereal for breakfast — preparation is key.
And yes, it took a few hours, but now everything is ready for the week. And while today is only my second full day on the plan, I can say I’m liking it so far. Tone it Up gives me the opportunity to eat the things I enjoy (like fruit and carbs), while learning when and how to eat them so my body can use it as fuel, instead of storing it as fat.
Weight loss, and staying in shape is a constant journey, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of — especially as we get older, I am finding it isn’t getting easier. If you have any questions about Tone It Up, or are on a plan that’s working for you, feel free to share it!
I’ve traveled a lot my myself — in fact, I’ve traveled more on my own than I have with other people (same goes for seeing movies). Sometimes, I’m traveling alone to meet others at my final destination, and there are times I’ve taken an entire trip by myself. Either way, traveling solo (I just finished a train trip on my own) can be really, really fun!
- Research. Blech, I know, that doesn’t sound like fun. If you’re not a planner, then maybe skip this step. But before I go anywhere, I like to find out where I’m going, what kinds of things I need to pack, and what to expect. Maybe you’re looking for a certain hotel, or if you’re going to a foreign country, get the right exchange rate, etc.
- Inform. To be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to inform at least one person of where you’re going, leave them a copy of your schedule (if you want), just in case. Assuming you’ll have a cell phone, let them know that’s where they can reach you, or leave the number to your hotel/where you’re staying.
- Do you. This is YOUR trip, so plan to do things that you’ve always wanted to do! Go to that restaurant you’ve dreamed of, get a massage — treat yourself!
- Make friends. But only if you want. Check into taking an organized day tour to meet people, while seeing some great sights (I did this while visiting Los Angeles on my own and it was a blast). If you’ve still got time to plan your trip, pick a place to stay that’s got a buzz around it — you can meet people right in the hotel!
- Keep an open mind. Plan, but be spontaneous. Be open to discovering new things — including yourself — while traveling on your own. That’s the best part (aside from those single discounts)!
I can’t post this without making a note that, of course, traveling on your own, especially if you’re a woman, comes with risks. Use common sense. Don’t go places that look shady, or make you feel uncomfortable. Keep tabs on your finances. Let someone know where you are. Be smart… and have fun!
I’ve spent the last few months trying to make different protein bars from scratch, so I could avoid buying the expensive ones from the store. I used bags of coconut flour, coconut oil, unsweetened coconut, protein powder, flaxseed, paleo-friendly chocolate chips… and while, some of the recipes I tried were okay, they weren’t really what I had in mind.
So, I looked for some options that were partially-homemade, and I finally found what I was looking for. Here’s my method, and you can switch it up any way you please:
- 1 package of Pilsbury Family Size Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix (Sugar, flour, cocoa)
- 1 15oz can of black beans
- 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter
- 2 scoops of Cellucor Whey Peanut Butter Marshmallow
Put the brownie mix and the protein powder into a mixing bowl. Drain the can of black beans (rinse, if desired), and puree them until smooth. Add the peanut butter to the food processor, too, and blend until everything is completely mixed.
Add the beans/peanut butter mix into the dry ingredients, and mix until smooth.
Now, here’s where you can mix things up, if you want. You don’t HAVE to use the Pilsbury brownie mix, I just love it’s consistency. You’re using the black beans and the peanut butter instead of oil, water, and eggs, so if you start mixing and things aren’t quite coming together, feel free to add one egg or a few tablespoons of water. The consistency should be thick, but you want to make sure all of the powder is mixed in.
If you want, you can omit the protein powder, and still have fantastic, pretty healthy brownies. Feel free to add nuts, for extra protein and flavor, too.
Use the instructions on the brownie package for pan size, oven temperature, and baking time.
Using the above recipe, the entire batch of “Prownies” has 101 grams of protein in it. If you cut it into 12 prownies, that’s a little more than 8 grams of protein per piece, plus fiber from the beans and peanut butter. It’s really not bad for a delicious treat!
Ah, making the first move. This is something I think about often. Should I, or women in general, make the first move? I know, the men out there are shouting from the rooftops, “YES! Make the first move, already!”
But, I’ve had some failures in the past with doing just that — so, what gives?
There’s not some mile-long list of pros and cons when it comes to making the first move. The pro, for the woman, is that the guy knows you’re into him, and you can get this party started. The con is, you could get rejected.
Sounds simple enough, right? Well, rejection isn’t fun, and depending on your current relationship with the person, you could risk losing a friend, or creating an awkward situation for yourself.
I don’t want to reiterate my gym story (you can read all the details here), but basically this is what happened:
- Met a hot guy out
- Found out we went to the same gym
- Talk to him several times at said gym
- Flirting happens (or so I think)
- I consider CASUALLY mentioning that we should hang out
- He introduces me to his girlfriend
And so, I am now left with the often-awkward moment of seeing him at the gym, and ignoring me like he’s paid to do so. I mean, really, it could have been worse, say if we would have been friends, or something.
But still, gathering the courage to ask someone out is tough — especially if you’re not sure how they feel about you.
There’s one thing I worry about more than rejection though, and it’s based around the entire relationship. Let’s say I ask a guy out, and he takes me up on my offer, and things go great. We go out several times, and things might even start to get serious.
Is the ball still in my court because I initiated our relationship? I have always been afraid that a woman making the initial move would result in the man taking a backseat for the ENTIRE relationship.
And, not to get all scientific here, but that goes against nature. Men are supposed to be the hunters, right?
One of my guy friends assured me that this was not the case, that even if a woman made the first move, the guy would take the lead thereafter.
But I haven’t been in a relationship where this has happened, so I sadly cannot support this claim with evidence.
I was going to include a list of “ways to tell if he’s into you,” but most of the ideas I found were stupid, i.e “He sends you emails” — Who does that? Never email me. Or, “He laughs at your crappy jokes.” Hrmm okay.
Truthfully, there’s no surefire way to tell if a guy’s into you… unless, of course, you ask.
Greetings! I am publishing this post while aboard the Amtrak #58, traveling from New Orleans, LA, all the way to Chicago, IL. With more than 900 miles between destinations — I shouldn’t have to tell you that it’s been an interesting ride on the “Spacious Superliner.”
Really, this is my first time traveling via train. I like planes. I like driving, too, but I also like to sleep, drink, and sometimes, read. A train, I figured offers the best of all worlds, while offering an affordable ride, with a view to write about (that’s what I do).
I rode the train as a child, from Indianapolis to Chicago, and remember feeling ill — which is why I packed Dramamine. Other than that, I’ve never been aboard a train. And I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t have “Love Train” stuck in my head for the entire trip (see my Twitter account for proof of this).
To make my ride as comfortable (and as fun) as possible, I purchased some travel essentials specifically for the train:
Of course, I packed a few snacks, drinks, and loaded up my iPad with tons of books (of the romance variety). For the sake of blogging and Tweeting along the route, I brought my own WiFi, via my T-Mobile HotSpot.
While I had reserved a seat on the upper-level of the train car, the seat was first-come-first-serve. I was thankful to get a window seat. Honestly, I expected the train to be like a bus… but I was in shock at how nice it is. It’s clean, and roomy (stretching my legs out all the way, I still can’t touch the seat in front of me).
I did a little bit of work on the train, but was really excited to get started on a book. So, aside from chatting with my fellow passengers, I read most of the 19-hour journey.
As we approached Greenwood, Mississippi, I was able to catch the sunset, and many of my readers may remember, that I am a sucker for sunsets and sunrises — I think they are the most beautiful things to see. I was all smiles to see that sunset.
Around 8pm, we stopped the train for a “cigarette break” and I checked out the observation car (which was very cool), and purchased a sandwich for dinner, along with some wine.
I fell asleep around midnight, and awoke as we were traveling over a bridge, and could see two boats on the water.
About a month ago, I went on a date with someone whom I told my upcoming trip about. Having traveled a similar route, he told me to pay the extra money for the sleeper car, to avoid meeting people. He also said there was “nothing to see” on the way.
Call me a sap, but miles of fields, a sunset, water, neighborhoods… that’s amazing to see. And of course, I set my alarm to wake up in time for the sunrise.
It wasn’t until I woke around 5:30 am that I realized I’d gotten a passenger in the seat next to me (the train stops nearly every hour) — she was already asleep. At a reasonable hour, I asked her what time she got on the train and where she was headed (4:30, Milwaukee…if you’re curious).
So, what am I doing in Chicago? While my train ride wasn’t necessarily full of love (although everyone was kind), my trip is. I’m in Chicago for a wedding — quite possibly an epic wedding — and of course, to see my friends.
Traveling, and especially traveling alone, always leaves time to reflect. And often, when I’m traveling home, to the Midwest, I wonder what exactly I was hoping to find when I left. I really wanted to land a Southern gentleman… but I’m still waiting for that to happen.
Sometimes I wonder if what I was hoping for isn’t still waiting for me right here, at the end of the train tracks.