Chocolate Bunnies, Marathons and Floral Arrangements…

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My Family’s Dessert Table – Easter, 2017

For as long as I can remember, Easter has never particularly been a holiday of significant importance to me. I can understand it’s value to those who recognize or honor it’s religious meaning- but once I was old enough to learn the Easter Bunny was just my mom or dad hiding plastic eggs filled with candy or money around the yard and not really the work of a seven foot tall rabbit- I stopped paying attention to anything more than Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs and how itchy and uncomfortable the Spring dresses my mom would make me wear as a little kid to the day’s family functions/get-togethers were.

I digress. Every year, without fail- my family continues that time-honored tradition of gathering for a Thanksgiving-level feast at my mom’s house that starts in the early afternoon and doesn’t usually wrap up until much later on at night. We’re all usually catching up with one another (and there’s a lot of us, you best believe!) or watching sports between bites- and it’s always such a good time. This year was no exception. It was wonderful seeing my brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and my niece after a few long weeks or working non-stop.

Admittedly, this time of the year can also be a little tough for me now and then. I think of my dad a lot during time spent with my immediate and extended family- and how much fun we had when he was still here with us- and it was right around this time last year that things started falling apart with my ex, whom I actually saw and spent some time with a couple of weeks ago. We got along just fine (much to my amazement.)

But to distract myself from what I’ve dubbed the “Pre-Blossom Blues” (still waiting on the trees and flowers to catch up with the rest of the warm weather!) I’ve thrown myself into work and planning an impromptu trip to Vegas and San Diego next month to visit friends and enjoy some In-N-Out Burger during an extended cheat day from my diet. I’m really excited!

On Monday, following my food-coma wearing off- I did what most everyone in Boston was doing and jumped right into the Patriot’s Day celebrations and watching the Boston Marathon from the comfort of my air conditioned office with some take-out in hand with a few of my co-workers. Prior to the actual race, I was able to check out the course over the weekend when I headed down to Boylston Street in the dead of the night. There were a few other people walking the final stretch, as well- but the area was mostly filled with watchful police officers and crew setting up the last of the barricades along the runner’s route.

One of the officers was actually high-fiving people who were crossing the finish line. He gave me a supportive cheer as I leisurely crossed the line- throwing my arms up in victory as I did so- which is just one of the reasons why I love Boston as much as I do. Nearly everyone here just has such a fun sense of humor and buzzes with excitement and enthusiasm for events happening in or around the city.

I did it! In ripped jeans and impractical shoes at 11:30 p.m.- no less!

Someday I’ll run the marathon. Someday…

… Just kidding- but kudos to everyone who musters up the strength and the courage and trains their asses off to do it every year!

But for now, I’ve got some non-marathon-related work to get to!

On Friday, I’m going to be sharing my April POPSUGAR “Must-Have” Box (spoiler alert: it’s another good one!) and next week I’ll finally be posting a pretty cute and easy dessert recipe I picked up recently, reviewing some uh-may-zing hair care products, and going through my favorites for the month of April before I wrap it up and we head straight into May!

Have a great day, everyone!

xx

Marathon Monday.

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Anytime any runners came by that looked tired- this guy held up this sign for them to see. Inspirational? You bet.

Anytime any runners came by that looked tired- this guy held up this sign for them to see. Inspirational? You bet.

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Yesterday was Patriots’ Day here in Massachusetts, and more importantly- it was the 118th Boston Marathon. After stopping by my office in the morning to sort through the weekend mail and make a couple of phone calls, I met up with some friends to grab lunch and head down towards the finish line a short time after the race had started to cheer on the participants still making their way to Boylston Street. The sun was shining, it was warm and breezy out- and you truly couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day to have such a celebrated (and this year, an especially poignant) event.

The anniversary of the 2013 Marathon bombings passed last week, and I had contemplated writing a reflective post re-visiting the courage I had witnessed that day (even through the initial fear and uncertainty,) and have continued to witness every day since then- from the stories of survivors who had been horrifically wounded taking their first steps on prosthetic limbs and with their heads held high, to the families and friends who had lost loved ones in the blasts rallying together to show the world that despite the unthinkable happening to them- they would not yield or cave to fear and hatred- that they still had love and strength in their hearts, however broken those hearts were/are in the wake of their loss.

I decided to wait on the post, however- not only because I believe others who shared their thoughts and feelings on the anniversary did so infinitely better than I could have ever hoped to do, but because I wanted to experience this marathon, first.

So let me just say this:

Yesterday’s Boston Marathon, from each and every sweat-drenched runner who crossed the finish line, to each and every attendee who came to show their support, cheer themselves hoarse, yell words of encouragement like “you’re almost there! You can do this! We’re proud of you! Keep going!” and “don’t give up!” at the participants passing by on the course who had slowed their pace to catch their breath. To the police and fire departments, some of whom came in from out of town to help, and who kept a vigilant eye over things- and to the people I saw shaking hands, high-fiving, and hugging anyone and everyone they came across who were wearing their medals- some with their silver thermal blankets still draped around them- while congratulating their accomplishment with wide, genuine smiles: THAT is the personification of this event. THAT is the personification of the city of Boston.

“Boston Strong” is more than a catchphrase or a slogan on a t-shirt. It is a rallying cry, birthed from a horrible tragedy last Spring, that represents the unity of an amazing city filled with some of the best and bravest people you could ever hope to meet- people that band together to support one another during the tough times- and come together to rejoice together during the good times.

Congratulations to the runners in yesterday’s marathon. You were all spectacular and I can only imagine how exhilarating it must have felt to cross that finish line after so many of you couldn’t do it last year. You helped take the marathon back and you helped restore it to what it should always be remembered as- a beautiful, uplifting, and inspiring event.

I look forward to cheering you all on again next year!

April 2013: In a Nutshell.

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April was the month we finally saw Spring prevail over Winter (after taking quite a beating for a few rounds), and with temperatures consistently climbing day by day, I’m hoping it’s here to stay and that we won’t get a freak snowstorm or anything (it’s happened before!) It’s been wonderful being able to wear skirts and dresses without having to layer on leggings or sweaters over and under them.

Sunny days and warm weather aside, April was truly the month that the city of Boston showed the rest of the world exactly why it’s the best. In the wake of a cruel and unfathomable terrorist attack, regular, every day citizens became heroes as they rushed to aid those affected in any way they could (the ONE FUND to date had raised over 20 MILLION dollars!), and tireless authorities and officials made sure they tracked down those responsible in less than a week following the bombing at the Boston Marathon. The city rallied together to show everyone watching that “Boston Strong” was more than just a phrase to help get us through a crisis- but a longstanding and deep-rooted way of life.

There have been so many benefits, charities, fundraisers, raffles, vigils, and other gatherings to support the victims, their families, and the Greater Boston communities, and on Sunday afternoon, I headed down to Lansdowne Street for the sold out “For Boston!” benefit show put together by the Dropkick Murphys. All of the proceeds from ticket sales, merchandise, etc. went directly to helping those affected by the attack, and with performances by Dropkick themselves, State Radio, Big D and The Kids Table, The Parkington Sisters, Old Brigade and Barroom Heroes- all of whom had the most sincere and inspirational words to say about Boston and it’s residents- it turned out to be a really fun, sometimes emotional, but very successful and rewarding day.

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Kudos to everyone who participated in the show and for everyone who came down to show their support!

Finally, April ended on a high note. I received some great news at work today (one word: promotion!) and I’m hoping that the luck and good fortune will carry into May as I prepare to attempt some semi-late-in-the-season Spring cleaning, get ready to reboot my diet and fitness regime, and gear up for a little bit of travel and adventure within the coming weeks.

See you all there!

xox

Boston Strong.

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To describe the events that have taken place in Boston over the past 24-48 hours would read more like an elaborate script to a Hollywood blockbuster, or like an episode of “Homeland”. I’ve seen some crazy things in my life- but this definitely trumps them all. I have never, ever, seen anything like this.

On Thursday afternoon, following the attack on the Boston Marathon this past Monday and a moving speech given to the city and the nation by President Obama earlier Thursday morning, the FBI and Boston officials released video surveillance footage and photographs compiled after hours and hours of research and tips, of two men they deemed as persons of interest. In the surveillance footage, the men can be seen walking a distance apart, but were later photographed standing together, only to separate again. In footage not released to the public, it is said that one of the men can be seen placing down a backpack and then leaving it shortly before the second blast.

The photographs and the footage were viewed and circulated at such a fast speed that the FBI’s official website momentarily crashed- but it means something- it meant people wanted to find these men. They wanted answers.

Meanwhile, Boston attempted to move forward with healing and helping those affected by the attack.

And then Thursday night happened.

Video surveillance from a 7/11 in Cambridge, around the time an unrelated armed robbery took place, shows one of the marathon bombing suspects entering the store. Shortly thereafter, there was a fatal shooting of a MIT Campus Police Officer and a carjacking nearby, leading police on a pursuit into neighboring Watertown. During this pursuit, an MBTA officer was critically injured.

During the pursuit, which extended into the early hours of Friday morning, various explosives were thrown from the windows of the vehicle being chased and numerous shots were fired at police, leading to a massive gunfight. It became clear after determining there were two suspects involved in the shoot-out and the style of explosive devices they were attempting to detonate that these were, in fact, the two men the FBI were looking for in connection with the marathon bombing.

I had gone to bed on Thursday night following the news of the shooting at MIT, but was woken up around 4 a.m. by numerous phone calls/texts/and social media messages- all of which were essentially the same thing: asking me if I was watching the story unfold. By then, one of the bombing suspects had been killed. The other had fled on foot, leading to a massive manhunt in Watertown. Both suspects had been ID’d as 26 year old Tamerlan Tsarnaev (the one who was killed) and his 19 year old brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who immigrated to the United States from Chechnya in 2001.

Within the hour, the MBTA was suspended, which eventually led to taxi service being suspended as well. Certain neighborhoods, including Watertown, were placed on mandatory lock down so that the Boston Police Department, the Massachusetts State Police, the FBI, National Guard, and SWAT could conduct an unprecedented manhunt. No one was allowed to leave their homes. Businesses were ordered to close. All vehicles were ordered off the roads. It wasn’t until I was halfway to my office when I was informed that the order had been extended to the city of Boston as well, and not just it’s neighboring communities that were at risk.

And if you think that a deserted city is eerie, you’d be 100% correct.

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via Neal Hamberg for Reuters.

via Jim Davis at the Boston Globe

via Jim Davis for the Boston Globe.

via David L. Ryan at the Boston Globe.

via David L. Ryan for the Boston Globe.

via George Rizer for the Boston Globe.

via George Rizer for the Boston Globe.

via Jessica Rinaldi for Reuters.

via Jessica Rinaldi for Reuters.

For the remainder of the day, myself and millions of others stayed glued to our televisions, radios, and social media feeds waiting for updates, press conferences, and confirmations. Some people were saying they’d located him, others were saying they’d found more bombs strewn around the area, and some others were saying he was still at large and had possibly fled the state. The uncertainty of the situation, and numerous conflicting reports, was grueling and frightening.

At 6 P.M. a press conference took place, in which we were informed that they hadn’t been able to locate Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, but were going to continue the search. Re-instating MBTA services and lifting the city-wide lock down, citizens were once again asked to stay diligent and keep their eyes open, since the suspect could still be within the area- and still armed and extremely dangerous.

And then there was a lead.

A man in Watertown, stepping out to get some fresh air after being cooped up in his home all day, noticed something amiss with the boat he had stored in his backyard- specifically, the tarp covering had been cut open and there was blood on it. Peering under the tarp, the owner noticed an injured man hiding inside the boat and immediately contacted authorities.

Those of us who hadn’t quite gotten to venture outside and were still glued to the news, frustrated that the suspect hadn’t been apprehended, suddenly heard gun shots in the background of the reports- and watched as officers and authorities scrambled into action and ran towards the scene.

The man in the boat was soon confirmed to be Dzhokhar. He had been injured in the gunfight the night before, and had hidden in the one place authorities had yet to search. After another tense stand-off, authorities were finally able to get him out of the boat and take him into custody- news that sent Boston into a relieved, happy frenzy and saw thousands take to the streets to cheer on law enforcement, and each other- after what had been a traumatic, emotional week:

There’s still a lot of questions that need to be answered, the biggest one being “why?” Why would two legal residents of this country, and this city, who lived and worked here for years, who friends and neighbors described as funny, smart, well-liked and kind, who were believed to be living a life so many people who want to immigrate to America hope for- do something like this? What is the reason? What was the motive?

The other question, of course, is are there others involved? Did this act of terrorism stretch beyond these two brothers? Did they have help? Accomplices? Other attacks planned?

Hopefully with Dzhokhar’s capture and recovery at a nearby hospital, we’ll eventually get those answers. Until then, this was a huge step in closing one chapter of this attack- and this case.

I am so proud of the Boston Police Department, the Massachusetts State Police, the FBI, the brave citizens of this amazing city and the countless unnamed heroes who have emerged in the aftermath of an unfathomable tragedy. This capture- a true victory- is for the people we lost too soon on Monday- Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu. It’s for MIT Officer Sean Collier. It’s for those who were injured.

It’s for Boston.

It’s for Massachusetts.

It’s for New England.

It’s for America.

It’s for us.

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Boston, you’re my home…

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MeAndThePru

I think I’m still at a loss for words.

First and foremost, I’m okay. I’m safe- as are my friends and loved ones in the Greater Boston Area. I am so unbelievably thankful for that.

I had a half day at work yesterday (Patriot’s Day) and after running a couple of errands and meeting up with my mom and my cousin, I had every intention of heading down to the Boston Marathon with them to try and snap a few photos and root on the runners, including a friend of a friend who was participating after months of training and hard work.

My mom changed her mind last minute and asked if we could do something else instead, and together, the three of us headed out to Western Massachusetts to do some shopping and have dinner. A couple of hours later, the marathon was attacked. Two powerful bombs were detonated near the finish line, leaving 3 dead, one being just a small child, over 150 people injured, and the city I love and am proud to consider myself a part of devastated and shaken to it’s core.

The phone lines jammed up and my service was unstable following the attack, understandably, and I apologize to those who tried to reach me via phone calls or texts to make sure my friends and I were okay. I tried to keep people updated on social media but it wasn’t easy, what with how many people were trying to check in with each other all at once. There are no words to describe the panic, the helplessness, of trying desperately to contact friends who were in close proximity of the blasts to see if they were alright- and I wasn’t the only one who experienced it.

I appreciate the concern and well-wishes I’ve received from so many, but ask that they be directed to the victims of this senseless and horrible tragedy. Please keep those we’ve lost, those who were injured- most of who are still fighting for their lives in local hospitals- and the unbelievably heroic first responders and civilians who, without hesitation or regard for their own safety- ran towards the chaos to help others- in your thoughts, your hearts, and your prayers.

In the past 24 hours, I have been so touched by the love, support, and sense of comradery and selflessness around Boston (and all of New England) in these confusing and grim hours. The stories of runners in the marathon continuing on without stopping to Mass General Hospital to give blood, residents offering space in their homes to strangers who were misplaced after evacuations in the area, and people utilizing the emergency hotlines and social media to help others reunite with loved ones who were separated in the confusion- it’s awe-inspiring and heartwarming.

And although there is anger (there always is in the aftermath of terrorism) and the desire to punish those who are responsible for this heinous act, it’s nice to see that everyone is focusing more on doing whatever they can to help out, and being supportive to those affected by the events of the past 24 hours.

Boston is truly one of the best cities in the world- with some of the bravest, most kind-hearted and resilient people around. Keep being good to each other and taking care of one another, everyone. I love you all and I’m so, so proud of the strength and positivity that is stretching far beyond Massachusetts state lines right now.

I love you, Boston.

Thanks again, everyone.

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If you want to make a donation/contribution to help the victims, the first responders, and their families, here are a couple of good places to start. I’ll be updating this list in the coming days, so please check back:

The One Fund

Donate to the Boston First Responders Fund

Give Blood (Note: As of right now, the Red Cross has PLENTY of blood, but considering the severity of some of the injuries sustained in the attacks, that could change. Keep it on the back burner if they need more!)

The New England Patriots Charitable Foundation (The Kraft Family will match $100,000 in donations to support marathon tragedy victims.)

Donate to the Boston Children’s Hospital, where 10 injured kids were brought in following the attack. 3 remain in critical condition.

Donate to Massachusetts General Hospital

Donate to the Boston Athletic Association (Donation page will be up within the next 24-48 hours)