Brunchin’ @Union

Let me be honest, I’ve been slacking on my brunch game. I’ve been skipping the gym on Sunday’s and sleeping in till 10 a.m. then rolling out of bed tossing my hair in a messy bun and putting on yoga pants and an over sized shirt and walking down the street to Harry’s, which is a sub par bar that happens to serve a decent brunch.

Today, I figured why not try a new place. Living in Allston, I live near some dives and also some of the most popular bars in Boston. Just a few blocks from my apartment is @Union located at 147 Harvard Ave in Allston. Now, don’t let the exterior of the building or Harvard Ave scare you away from this popular brunch location. It’s worth a shot.

After our short walk to @Union we had to wait about eight minutes to get seated. The restaurant itself is a cozy size with about fifteen tables serving up homemade orange juice and mimosas, Arabic coffee and an overwhelming amount of options.


To start, I got a mimosa and the freshly brewed Arabic coffee. And for brunch I got the bacon and blue omelet (without the blue), which had caramelized onions, mushrooms, bacon and blue cheese. The meal also came with toast and breakfast potato’s.

Adam got iced coffee, pancakes and a side of bacon and another side of potatoes.

Overall, the food was really tasty and the atmosphere was cozy and quant with wood walls giving a coffee shop vibe. This is a great location for young adults or college students in the area looking for a reasonably priced brunch option.

If you’re going on a weekend be prepared to wait. On a busy day the line usually is out the door. But, again don’t let that scare you away it’s worth the fifteen-minute wait.

Google gave @Union 4/5 stars and I would give it a 3.5/5. Although the service was slow it was made up by the atmosphere and food.


One of My Favorite Places In Boston

One of my favorite things to do when I arrive early to my grad classes is go to BOLOCO at the corner of Bolyston and Charles Street and order an original teriyaki bowl and people watch as people are leaving for the evening commute.

What’s nice about this particular BOLOCO is the large windows all around the restaurant making it even better for people watching or just enjoying the view of Boston Common. But what makes this BOLOCO location more unique than others is the iconic statue of one of history’s’ most distinguished writers, Edgar Allan Poe.

As I am enjoying my dinner I love watching peoples reactions as they see the statue for the first time. Theirs hugs, pictures and selfies as if he were still living. One of the best parts is when a trolley or bus tour pulls up and a sea of people get off and crowd around the statue to remember one of history’s greatest writers.

Now, it’s not a coincidence Edgar Allan Poe is nestled at the heart of Emerson College, which is filled with aspiring writers alike. Poe was born on January 19, 1809 right down the road from where he stands today.

The statue was designed by Stefanie Rocknak and was funded by the Edgar Allan Poe Foundation of Boston. On October 5, 2014 over 200 years after his birth in Boston, Poe remains forever frozen in time in one of the most historic cities in our nation accompanied by the raven from one of Poe’s most notable poems The Raven.

If your ever looking for something to do in Boston take a walk across from the Boston Common to see one of histories most beloved writers and you may find me eating a teriyaki bowl watching as you take a selfie with Poe.


IMG_3627.JPGEdger Allan Poe at the corner of Bolyston St. and Charles St.

Orlando, FL. Disney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon

2015 was a year full of traveling for me, which I was not expecting. Most of the trips was surprise trips from my parents for graduating college, while others were spur of the moment trips with Adam (my boyfriend). However, there was one trip I had planned since March, which at the time was the only trip I thought I would be taking in 2015.

March 2015, I committed myself to run the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon. This has been on my bucket- list since I was a senior in high school after my English teacher ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon. In years past I’ve missed the deadline for this particular half marathon, little did I know in past years the Disney runs fill up fast! So, I put the time and date in my agenda back in October of 2014.

Finally, the day had come to sign up for the race. It was like registering for a class, I sat at work in the Admissions Office constantly refreshing the page and thinking, “oh no, what if I don’t get in?!” their was a moment of panic and then relief when it was all said and done. I got in! Now all that was left was to train and the wait until the race in November, which perfectly fell on my birthday weekend as well as the Epcot’s 20th International Food and Wine Festival. 

Disney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend


Adam and I booked our plane tickets to Disney back in June. Our flight from Boston to Indianapolis to Tampa was $250 each on Southwest Airlines. We had an early flight out of Boston, which meant it was going to be a long day of traveling.

Both Adam and I took off work on Friday, November 6 to travel to Florida. We left our apartment at exactly 4:30 a.m. after a quick 10-minute ride to the airport and zipping through security we were off. The weather was great and everything was on time. We even arrived early to Tampa, which was nice because we were meeting up with my family who decided to come support me in the race. After meeting up my with my parents and brother we made a quick stop at The University of Tampa to pick up my sister and we were off to Disney!

Once we arrived at Disney our first stop was to get my bib at Disney’s Wide World of Sports at the Wine and Dine Expo, which was filled with Disney running gear. I was a little upset I was unable to get the Minnie Mouse New Balance shoes, but I got light up shoe laces instead, which was awesome because the race was at night. Also at the expo my family signed-up to track my time so they knew where I was the whole race.

Where We Stayed:

What’s really nice about the Run Disney races is that they offer special discounts on all the Disney resorts making the weekend very affordable. We stayed at the Disney’s All Star Movie Resort, which is one of the cheaper resort options. My family has stayed at the Disney All- Star Sports resorts several times when I was little so we knew we were getting nothing fancy, just the basic stuff.

What was different about this resort compared to the Disney All-Star Sports Resort was it was movie themed. We stayed in the Herby Fully Loaded section of the resort and overall it was nice for the short time we spent there.

The Day of the Half Marathon:

The morning of the half marathon I woke up to a filling breakfast of eggs and Mickey Mouse waffles at the resort. After we ate breakfast we decided to go to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This was because theirs not a lot to do at Disney’s Animal Kingdom  and I had to get my leg tapped and rest before the race, which didn’t begin till 10 p.m., below is a time line of the day.

9:30a.m. : Depart in the Nalepa Circus Van to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. And enjoy a morning full of fun.

Noon : Left the park with Adam and my dad to Disney’s Wide World of Sports to get leg tapped, while dad and Adam had beers.

3:30 p.m. : Head back to the resort for a quick rest.

5:00 p.m. : Myself, Adam and my dad got dinner at the resort. I got a huge plate of pasta.

6:00 p.m. : Napped.

8:30 p.m. : Get ready for the race and head over to the bus, which took me back to Disney’s Wide World of Sports where the race began.


The Half Marathon:

Once I arrived I was excited I was about to cross another dream off my bucket list. About, thirty minutes later my family showed up because they want to see me start the race and finish. So they came over to where I was and we chatted for a bit before they left. Little did we know a really bad storm was coming that would postpone the race.

About ten minutes after seeing my family I was trying to get into race mode when it suddenly became really cool and windy. People started to line up, so I followed. A good amount of time passed and I got confused as to why we weren’t lining up in our corrals. Then the sky lit up and we heard a loud boom, boom. I didn’t think too much of this. I lived in Florida for six years and knew this was typical Florida weather.

Well, I thought wrong, next thing I knew security grads were directing us into the baseball stadium and the field house. I was so confused. Soon I learned by my family who was in the field house, while I was in the baseball stadium that the race was going to be postponed. I quickly go upset and began to cry because the first through in my head was that the race was going to be canceled. So their I was alone in the baseball stadium crying (okay I was with 40,000 people but still).

After two hours they told us it was okay for us to run,  we all walked over to our corrals in a very unorganized fashion. Once there I was so excited. I was corral ‘G’ so I had a few corrals in front of me before I got to begin my two-hour jog around Disney. What’s really unique about Disney Run’s is  they want to make the race special for everyone. Each time a corral was set to run fire works would go off, which made the beginning of the race special to everyone and not just that first group leaving.

Finally, it was corral ‘G’. This being my second half marathon I was less nervous about the finishing part because I did it before, also most of the course was flat, which made running easier. Once we left the Wide World of Sports complex there was entertainment right from mile one all the way to mile 13.1, honestly I think I was smiling the whole time! I saw so many character as I ran through Disney. Each mile was a different theme with music from each particular movie. You even had the opportunity to stop and take photos with the characters, which was unlike any race I have ever ran before. I didn’t stop to take pictures since the lines were very long, instead I just took in every second of my dream half marathon.

Finally, I made my way over to Disney’s Boardwalk and took a left into Epcot where the race ended. Only one mile left and finally I could see Chef Minnie and Mickey at the finish, honestly no better way to finish a race in my opinion.


Finish Line Party- Food & Wine Festival:

Disney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon didn’t have your traditional post half-marathon bananas and beer, being Disney they took it to the next level. Yes, their was your free beer at the end, however if you participated in the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon you got fee admission into Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival on top of Disney keeping the park open till 4 a.m. to enjoy drinking and eating around the world. As well as a free $20 gift card to use at the festival.

After the race myself and my family walked over to Mexico where I got chicken tacos and a margarita. The line was probably one of the longest countries (clearly everyone had the same idea as I did, tacos and margs)! After stuffing my face we walked around to other countries, a few rides were open as well as a hand full of characters were around the park taking pictures with the runners.

Soon enough it was 3:30 a.m. and we had to catch the bus back to the hotel. Overall, I really enjoyed the experience and would one hundred percent run it again in the future. As well as participate in many of the other Disney themed runs they offer through Run Disney.


IMG_0753.jpgPicking up my bib.

IMG_0846.jpgSometimes I make running look fun.

IMG_0775Adam had an awesome idea to surprise me with Tina faces. They kept it a secret from me for weeks.



Freeport, Maine

July 2015:

Now, many of you know how obsessed I am with my Bean Boots. I got my first pair freshmen year of college and soon after I started to see the popularity of the boot growing. But that didn’t stop me from wearing my boots from October 1 through March 31, every year. It’s almost like an obsessive attachment I have with these shoes. What can I say I just love my shoes.

One thing that has been on my bucket list for awhile was to go visit the original L.L. Bean in Freeport, Maine. You know which one I’m talking about the one with the iconic boot. Well this summer on a mini road trip my parents made that bucket list dream reality.

After a short visit in Portsmouth, New Hampshire we loaded our van and headed to Maine. Our first stop on our adventure up north was breakfast. We ate at the Egg and I, which my parents were very excited to know still exists since it’s where they ate the morning they got engaged. Little did they know at the time it would grow into a popular breakfast destination for tourist. For breakfast I had the blueberry pancakes and coffee, both were very filling and tasty.

Once we were finished with our breakfast we took our time driving up north. I’ve never been to Maine before so it was refreshing to see such an unfamiliar place as we drove through unique, antique, and beach friendly towns. As we got closer to our destination it got very green with tall trees that surrounded us, but just as beautiful as the previous towns.

Once we arrived I was shocked to see how big the store really was it was almost like a mini college. The L.L. Bean Freeport Store could honestly be it’s own community within the town. Their was something so right about how it felt, almost like the location was meant for this outdoor store in that outdoor town.

Of course I was overly excited to see the larger than life boot. Just as every other tourist visiting I took a photo with the boot and made my way inside. I was so excited to be at the original store, I was like a little kid in a candy shop. Now, I understand they have most things as other L.L. Bean stores I was just excited to be there and have a new experience and see a new place.

The rest of the day we walked around Freeport and ended up eating at this little pizza shop before heading back home.

On our way home we made a quick stop to see a few lighthouses. My favorite was Nubble Lighthouse in York,Maine. It was a beautiful day to enjoy the view of the lighthouse.

Pictures from the day:

IMG_9486.jpgWe made it!

IMG_9493_2.JPGNubble Lighthouse. York, Maine.

IMG_9499_2.jpgFamily photo in front of the lighthouse. Photo credit: Mom.



Portsmouth, New Hampshire

July 2015:

This past July was one of the worst months for my family with my grandpa passing away. So my family came from Illinois for a week to do a mini New England road trip. Our first stop was Portsmouth, New Hampshire. My parents being from New England have been to Portsmouth many times before, but this was my first time. Naturally, I was excited to visit a new place. We stayed in a hotel not to far from downtown Portsmouth, which included a complementary shuttle that took us downtown for free!

During our time in Portsmouth we had a nice dinner over looking the water. At dinner I got cod and wine because well, what else would I get?! The rest of the night we strolled and shopped around the town before going back to the hotel to begin our next adventure in the morning.

IMG_9476_2.JPGDowntown Portsmouth, New Hampshire.


IMG_9456_2.JPGMy sister and myself enjoying dinner in Portsmouth with my parents.

Ecuador 2015

January 2015:

A year ago today I left on a journey of a lifetime to a country I have only dreamed years of visiting. I boarded a plane in Boston with 12 others and jetted off to Ecuador. Our professor had told us over and over throughout the semester this trip would change our lives and he couldn’t have been more right. Although I have wanted to travel to Ecuador since seventh grade this trip lived up to all my expectations and more.

After a full day of traveling, we finally made it to Quito, Ecuador where we grabbed our bags and loaded the bus to our first stop to the hacienda Pachamama where we got a tour of the hacienda and got to sleep after a long day of traveling.

IMG_7027Hacienda Pachamama.

The next morning we began our first official day in Ecuador. After waking up to a traditional Ecuadorian breakfast we had the opportunity to explore the hacienda and ride the horses the family owned. After an eventful morning at the hacienda, we loaded the busses to Laguna de Quilotoa.

However, on the way, our buss got stuck behind a traditional Ecuadorian Parade. After waiting for the parade, which seemed like forever, our tour guides let us get off the bus and join in the parade. This was our first taste of the culture. It was incredible to be part of their tradition and how we got to interact with the locals who were beyond welcoming and friendly wanting us to join in their celebration. They were dressed in colorful ponchos as they crowding the street, all laughing, drinking and dancing, while others had guitars and drums.

After walking about a mile with the parade we jumped back on the bus and headed to our destination, which was right up the road. Once we arrived at Laguna de Quilotoa, which is one of the many volcanos in Ecuador, we had a quick snack to fuel us before our journey up the volcano. The catch was in order to climb the volcano we first had to climb down it, which took about thirty minutes walking down: the very steep volcano. The view from the top was absolutely beautiful. Once we got to the bottom we took a breather before making the journey to the top.

IMG_7052.JPGLaguna de Quilotoa.

While others decided to rent donkeys to the top some of us chose to walk up the volcano. This was honestly one of the most physically and mentally demanding challenges I have ever decided to accomplish. Since the air was so thin and the volcano was so steep it was very hard to climb. Most of the journey up I had to walk sideways because you physically could not walk straight up. At times I thought I was going to pass out or puke and I took more breaks then expected, but I made it! It was such an accomplishment to say, “I climbed a volcano!” Once at the top we were given lots of water, fresh juice and a nice dinner that overlooked the volcano.

After the dinner we boarded the bus and began a four-hour ride to Angamarca, which is where we stayed for the rest of our trip. Angamarca is located in between two mountains in the Andes at the very bottom in the valley. The ride started great, we were at the top of a volcano, in the clouds looking at a beautiful sunset and then all of a sudden we were on gravel, but not just gravel a winding gravel road with twists and turns and bumps heading down a huge volcano. Now let me be honest IT WAS TERRIFYING! So terrifying that half way down I had a panic attack and started to cry. I knew once we got to the bottom I could relax and look forward to the next day, but all I could do in that two hours down the volcano was panic all I thought was this bus is going to flip over and roll down the volcano.

After my dramatic episode we arrived at our second hacienda, in Anagamarca, which was Aburlita’s hacienda, which was the cutest Spanish looking house where we would be spending the next five nights. After each of us picked out our beds we all feel asleep and woke up bright and early to roosters! Yes, roosters at 3 a.m. yes, each day.

IMG_7072.JPGSecond Hacienda.

Since it was so dark when we arrived waking up in the morning to see the two mountains on both sides of us was the most breath taking moment of the trip. All I could think is I was dreaming. I wanted to go to Ecuador for so long and I was finally there.

After taking in the view, we had breakfast, which was similar to they day before and everyday after, which was okay with me because everything was homemade and fresh!

After breakfast we made our way up the mountain to the school called Escuela Quilalo where we spent the next five days volunteering with the children and local workers of the village. Each day the journey up the mountain got easier and easier; to the point where we only made one rest stop on the last day. But, I didn’t mind the stops it gave me time to think and take in the breath taking views.

When we reached the top it was awkward meeting the students for the first time their was very little interaction and myself not being good with kids made it even more awkward. But as each day went it became less and less awkward. Instead of things being awkward we became attached. So attached that I cried leaving the school and all the kids on our last day. It was beautiful the connects that we made. Although we spoke little Spanish and they spoke little English we connected through movement and games, which grew and flourished our relationships over the week.

This is where I learned the most on the trip I did things I normally don’t do like play with kids, and teach kids, which I learned they are actually fun! I also learned what manual labor really is. Here in North America we are spoiled with having tools to help us build things. In South American that’s a little different we didn’t have machines to help us. Something that could’ve been accomplished in a day here took us the full five days we were at the school. But guess what, I enjoyed it. I gained appreciation for the small things and the gratification of knowing I did that myself with the help of a few others, look what we did feeling!

Each day at the school was different. The lay out of the day was the same we: worked for four hours, had lunch for an hour and then worked for another two hours. But the tasks each day were different. Some days we were teaching and other days we would build or paint. It kept things different and gave us all the opportunity to try something different.

Here are some of the tasks we completed during our time at the school in Anagamarca:

  • Painted the exterior of the school
  • Painted a playground
  • Built a playground, which included monkey bars, swings and soccer field
  • Cleaned a well
  • Taught English to the students
  • Taught students about the environment and how to be sustainable
  • Fed the students lunch
  • Donated books and shoes to the students
  • Assisted with basic hygiene tasks such as hair cuts and teaching how to bush teeth

By the end of the five days spent with the students myself as well as other students in my group realized what an impact we made on the school and students. Although it was only a week we helped them accomplish things they couldn’t accomplish without our help. Not only did we make an impact, but also we made relationship with the students, locals, and members of our group. Those relationships we formed helped in giving back to such a needy school and community.

This was really shown on our last day when they threw us a send off party with dancing and a band with traditional Ecuadorian music. I can honestly say I don’t think one of us has ever cried more than having to say goodbye to such a wonderful group of people.

The last day of our journey we loaded the bus for the last time and made the drive back up the mountain to five hours to Quito. In Quito we had the opportunity to shop around, walk around Quito and enjoy a fancy dinner on a rooftop restaurant looking over the beautiful city of Quito. I don’t think I’ve spent a week anywhere as beautiful as Ecuador.

IMG_7096.JPGDinner looking over Quito, Ecuador.

After dinner was hard it was time to say goodbye to or tour guides who we built some great relationships and memories with and goodbye to the country of Ecuador not knowing when or if we would ever return. After goodbyes were said we drove off the airport for our 11-hour trip back to Boston.

This trip one hundred percent changed my life, made me look at life in a different way and made me realize my love for Ecuador and South America. I am beyond thrilled for my return and next adventure to South American one day.

IMG_7059.jpgBottom of the volcano.



Burlington, Vermont

August 2015: Spur of the moment trip to Burlington, Vermont.

Their is no doubt  this past summer was a hot one. What better way to beat the heat than a short three hour drive up north to Burlington, Vermont. The only plan we had was to go to the Ben and Jerry’s Factory everything else was just a spur of the moment decision, which was such a great choice. We had such a great day exploring the city of Burlington from the downtown area, to the lake, shopping, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory and the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory.

Check out some of the day’s adventures below.

IMG_9799Church Street, Burlington.

IMG_9776Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory. IMG_9805Vermont Teddy Bear Factory.


Hawaii: Disney Aulani Resort and Spa Review

June 2015:

Disney Aulani Resort and Spa.
Disney Aulani Resort and Spa.

Families young and old love the entertainment and hospitality that Disney has to offer while staying at Disney resorts. That’s one feature Disney is good at and keeps guests coming back year after year, but what many guests visiting Disney theme parks and hotels don’t know is they can now travel to Hawaii to experience Disney’s Aulani Resort and Spa nestled twenty minutes from Waikiki in Oahu, Hawaii.

Aulani Disney resort and Spa was opened in 2011 and was named Travel & Leisure’s 2014 World’s Best Winner for Top Family Resort in the United Stated. With its Disney charm and Hawaiian touches, this resort will not disappoint Disney fans alike looking to embark on a relaxing getaway with some of their favorite Disney characters.

Character Brunch.
Character Brunch.

With over a hundred: one and two bedroom suites looking over Disney’s private Ko’Olina Lagoon guest can get a perfect view of the beautiful scenery that Hawaii has to offer. The resort also offers villas for larger families looking for access room, and kitchen areas to cook their own food. Rooms vary in price per night depending on which room guest choose and when they will be traveling, however Aulani offers special seasonal rates and packages through the year.

The resort also includes several amenities such as Aunty’s Beach House, which is a kids play area with crafts, activities and character meet and greats. Looking to cool off? The resort offers a handful of pools to choose from including adult only areas, a lazy river, a coral reef lagoon for snorkeling and much more. If the family is looking to get sometime at the beach no need to leave the resort, Aulani has its own private lagoon with beach chairs and beach rentals ranging from $15 to $30 USD depending on the rental.

Aulani also offers excursions around the island, which can be booked prior to arriving or as soon as guest arrive. A list of daily activities can be found in the lobby and is a great way to know what will be going on throughout the day.

Disney’s Laniwai spa is an experience like no other. I highly recommend any of their spa treatments to anyone looking to relax. Don’t forget to arrive an hour before your appointment to enjoy Kula Wai: Outdoor Hydrotherapy Garden, which will leave guest relaxed and rested. Aulani offers guest a 24-hour fitness center, with morning fitness classes held on the beach. I recommend arriving fifteen minutes prior to the initial start time because classes fill up fast.

What would a Disney Resort be without the entertainment? Aulani does a fantastic job incorporating just enough Disney without taking away from the Hawaiian traditions and culture. There are Disney movie nights, story telling under the stars as well as a Disney Hawaiian Lulu featuring some favorite Disney characters.

Looking for something to eat? Aulani has three main restaurants all of which include different themes and menus. For a couples night out I recommend “AMA-AMA’, which overlooks the lagoon and is a great spot to try some local food and watch the sunset. For families I recommend MAKAHIKI, which is a typical buffet style setup with local Hawaiian dishes. What’s unique about MAKAHIKI besides its family-dining atmosphere is that Aulani offers a Disney character breakfast and brunch, great for families of all ages. I recommend booking in advance because this is a popular restaurant in the resort.

Dinner overlooking the lagoon.
Dinner overlooking the lagoon.

Guest who are not in the mood for a full course meal can try one of Aulani’s bars, snack shacks, cafes, or shaved ice station. Don’t forget to stop by LAVA SHACK for Disney’s signature Dole Whip!

Mahalo for reading.

For more information and what Aulani has to offer go to: