THE ‘NO’ CLEANSE: POST-THANKSGIVING RESET

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Idk about you, but I’m still down for the count after Thanksgiving. Between the food, drinks, and bar-hopping, I’m exhausted – and also feeling like a tremendous slug.

I try, but I’m never very good at sticking to the healthy eating thing because I lack any kind of self-control. Sure, I’ll go on a solid 2-day bender where I pat myself on the back for my salads and protein shakes, but let’s not get it twisted. The second someone so much as mentions ordering pizza in my presence, I drop my salad faster than a hot potato. Plus, takeout is soooo much more convenient than cooking. I could have a perfectly good package of chicken breasts sitting next to Brussels sprouts in my fridge, and I’ll decide it’s a good idea to call in a Thai order for pick-up. It doesn’t matter if it’s snowing out and I’m already in my pajamas, I’m there.

When the holidays roll around, it’s pretty much non-stop parties filled with appetizers, huge dinners, desserts, and lots and lots of cocktails. Pretty soon, you’re feelin’ like Jabba the Hutt. Sometimes your holiday binge is immediately followed by a mediocre attempt at “cleansing” – which, of course, can mean anything from not eating pizza to living off of vegetables for a week.

Unless someone is telling me exactly what I should eat and how much of it, I have a tough time with cleanses because again, I have no self-control…and also, I’m lazy. I find it works best for me to start with a vague understanding of what I should NOT eat.

Below is my version of cleansing – aka taking a time out from all of the foods that I eat on the reg and most definitely should not be.

NO BREAD. RIP garlic bread, burgers, and pizza. That is all.

NO CHEESE. Are you aware that cheese is bad for you? Like REALLY bad for you. Clearly it’s loaded with saturated fat, which is basically a heart attack waiting to happen if you consume it at the rate I do (paired with wine, always) – And I basically have a glass every night, so there’s that. It also tends to cause constipation or sometimes, the opposite effect… so I’ve heard…

NO CANDY OR ICE CREAM. I love where I work, I really do. But if there was one thing I would change about it, it would be that they STOP FORCE-FEEDING US MOTHER F-ING M&MS. And when I say force-feeding, what I mean is, placing them in a large glass jar RIGHT as you round the corner to the kitchen. You can’t not stop at that table. It’s a god damn trap. AND they dedicate Thursdays to taking a casual office trip to Beal’s for ice cream. Every Thursday, rain or shine. This place is the worst.

NO SODA. This one I can actually live without. The only time I have soda nowadays is with captain, if my boss decides to guilt me into getting Wendy’s, or the occasional “Oh, you’re going to the grocery store? Grab me a Sunkist, would ya?”. It sounds like I have it a lot, but it’s a true rarity. Say no to soda, kids. It’s no bueno for your teeth and I’ve heard it could technically burn a hole in your stomach.

 

25 LITTLE THINGS TO GIVE BIG THANKS FOR

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Is it weird that I’m now craving Louisiana Bayou Benedict, even after I pretty much just ate more than my body weight in turkey and stuffing? UGH ilysm.♥

Thanksgiving is a special day. You’re allowed to eat whatever you want and pass out on the couch with your pants unbuttoned and no one can say a damn thing about it. Also, you probably have Black Friday off, so…wine. Most importantly, Thanksgiving is a single day dedicated to giving thanks for what you have.

Because I’m feeling all kinds of warm and fuzzy today, I thought I would share a few of the little things I’m most thankful for now and always. Just a little reminder that, even when life gets tough, it’s not always so bad. Happy Thanksgiving!

1. Random acts of kindness.

2. Reliving a moment every time a certain song comes on.

3. Traditions.

4. The snooze button.

5. Saturday mornings.

6. A trip to the movies on a rainy day.

7. Football Sunday.

8. Brunch.

9. Finding money in your jacket that you forgot about.

10. Date night.

11. A text from one of your parents.

12. The first snow.

13. Long drives with the windows down.

14. Staycations.

15. Movies that you’ll never get sick of watching.

16. Sweatpants fresh out of the dryer.

17. Laughing until you cry.

18. Awkward home videos.

19. Staying in with delivery and a bottle of wine.

20. When you should’ve gotten a parking ticket, but don’t.

21. Changing seasons.

22. Sunset boat ride in the middle of summer.

23. Finally stepping out of your comfort zone.

24. Ugly sweater holiday parties.

25. Unconditional love.

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HOW TO SURVIVE FALL IN NEW ENGLAND

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Fall has a way of toying with your emotions. Sometimes you’re heading into work and nearly drive yourself off the road staring at the vibrant leaves all around you. And then other times you wonder why the F you live in New England where it’s rainy, blustery, and cold AF. I’m currently experiencing the latter, shacked up in my apartment with a cup of tea, leggings, and a marathon of It’s Always Sunny.

With everything going on outside, I’m inspired to write a guide to surviving fall in New England. These tried-and-true tips will ensure you come out on the other end of November unscathed and ready to take on a brutal winter.

Buy yourself a GD pair of LuLaroe leggings, like yesterday. I should have listened to my friend Nicole awhile ago when she told me to get on this train. These leggings feel like butter and are the perfect accessory for a night on the couch, a nap, a trip to the grocery store, barre class, work… actually I’ll probably never take them off.

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Invest in a quality rain jacket before it rains. I was reminded of this one whilst trecking through a legit monsoon a couple of weeks ago. The rain literally did not stop coming down, and I quickly learned that my rain jacket was not really suited for such conditions. You know when you’re shopping online and the site clearly specifies that a jacket is perfect for “windy conditions” but you’re 100% positive it will pass for a rain jacket and you really want it because it’s cute and reasonably priced? Yep, I definitely did that. Don’t.

Have as many Shipyard Pumpkinheads as you want. Listen up, summer is over. You don’t need to worry about your beach bod for awhile, so embrace the season of layers and treat yoself. Shipyard Pumpkinhead is a staple of fall in New England. And, when garnished with a shot of Stoli vanilla and a sugared rim, it’s an instant mood-lifter. If it’s wrong to live off these, you really just don’t even want to be right.

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Get to know L.L. Bean. And do it ahead of season (I learned this one the hard way by  trying to order Bean boots in the middle of November). If you’re not from New England, you are probably wondering who L.L. is and what Bean boots are. In a nutshell: L.L. is the only place you should be buying anything related to the outdoors from. You can literally bring their products back for a replacement whenever you want. So the second your reliable (and fashionable) Bean boots start to feel not-so-much, send them on back for a brand new pair. In an area as unpredictable as New England, this is clutch.

Be basic and do fall things. As soon as temps drop, seasonal affective disorder sinks in. Do whatever you can to keep your spirits up. Apple picking. Leaf-peeping hikes. Cider donuts. Pumpkin spiced everything. Instagram shots of your boots in a pile of leaves. Fall activities tend to get a bad rep because they’re “so basic”. Well, they are “basic” because they make most people happy. When have you ever met someone who made it to the top of a mountain and was immediately pissed off at the mere sight of a landscape painted with breath-taking foliage? Probably never.

And there you have it, your complete guide to surviving fall. One last tip: While you’re in the middle of complaining about a mid-day high of 50 degrees, appreciate those vibrant leaves around you and New England’s ability to change season. In the end, we’re pretty #blessed to live here.

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A SUNDAY OF REGRETS

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Boston and I have a serious love-hate relationship.

It’s home to several people that I care about and has arguably some of the best brunch spots in America. However, every single time I visit, I leave with a firm “okay seriously, that was the last time” mindset. The hangovers, driving that evokes my road rage, and alerts from my bank letting me know that I’ve successfully overdrawn my account all make for a less than desirable ride home. But then, a few months later, I again find myself spending a weekend there visiting friends or celebrating a special occasion. This one was a biggie: One of the last bachelorette celebrations in my circle of close friends. (Yours truly, holding up the caboose, hayyy).

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Anytime our group gets together, it’s pretty much a mess. Exhibit A: Our last round of gallivanting through the city involved Jacques Cabaret, a “Jingle Bells” karaoke performance (in September), running home in bare feet, and waking up extremely parched in a bed of pork fried rice #killedit. This time around was only slightly different. A legit 12-hour drinking binge resulted in the bride puking at dinner and me drunkenly swaying in a night club at 1:45am, trying to figure out why the F it was still open. Is anyone else in this city 31 and exhausted? I ended up Irish-goodbying that scene and making a beeline for the hotel, narrowly escaping a face plant on Tremont street along the way. Making memories here, people.

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10:30am: My bad, it appears the day started here…
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3:30pm: I don’t care what anyone says, Jalapeno margs are the bees knees.
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6:30pm: The bride regrets everything.

As expected, we all woke up the next morning in strong form. The bride puked again, I woke up in popcorn kernels from our 3am snack, and one of the girls headed home early without her shoes. On the way home, I made an emergency pit-stop at Dunkin’s and am now recovering on my parents’ couch while my dad gives me a sideways look whenever I try to form sentences. Also, he just informed me that we are going OUT to dinner for my sister’s birthday and that I could have chosen a better outfit than my Christmas leggings.

And that’s about all I can muster up for a Sunday post. You win again, Boston.

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OBLIGATORY SUMMER SEND-OFF

Summer is officially ovs, and not unlike any other year, I’m having serious issues with it. Fall is great and all, but it’s got nothing on summer. Especially when fall pulls BS moves like usual in New England, coming in hot with the crisp weather and suicidal leaves on day 1.

This summer, I decided to do something totally out of character for me and make a major life change. Normally, I run in the opposite direction at the simple thought of having to switch oatmeal brands because my favorite has been discontinued. But sometimes you’ve just gotta do it. In my case, hanging with my biological roommates while I tried to recover from a breakup and figure out what exactly I was doing with my life got to be real old real fast. So over the span of 2 months, I forced myself to find an apartment, put my notice in at a job that I had grown out of, find a new job, and relocate an hour north of where I’d spent most of my life.

I did it in that order too, which was kind of ass-backwards, but moving on.

I landed in Portland for a couple different reasons. One, there is just something in the air up here that makes you never want to leave. Maybe it’s the smell of 9 million delicious restaurant choices, or maybe it’s the aroma of dead fish as you’re walking along Commercial. Who really knows. Something just sucks you right in. Two, it’s an hour away from where my family is. This is important because I no longer receive a call every week from Jodi asking me to come have dinner at their house. But, I’m still close enough where once every couple of weeks is doable.

Although I had to sacrifice the familiarity of seeing most of the people that I care most about whenever I wanted, the rest of my world feels like it’s more in place than it has been in awhile. It’s for that reason that I’m gonna go ahead and boldly call this summer “the best yet”.

 

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MUST-VISIT: EARTH AT HIDDEN POND

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When you decide to move away from where you spent most of your life, you have to adjust to all kinds of change: Starting a new job, working with different coworkers, remembering how to get to the grocery store without getting lost, and meeting new friends.

One thing that you may never get used to is knowing you can no longer make last-minute plans with your friends back home. Living a few minutes away from each other once made grabbing a beer after work a breeze. Now, hour-long drives and rush hour traffic make coordinating schedules for a weeknight dinner about as easy as peeling yourself away from a Netflix marathon on a rainy Sunday – nearly impossible.

If there is one thing I’ve learned after moving from the New Hampshire seacoast up to Portland, it’s that there’s a silver lining in all the suckiness of losing the familiarity of your social life: it makes getting together way more awesome. Cheese city, but true.

IMG_7230A few weeks ago, one of my best friends and I were doing our normal ‘haven’t seen you in forevs’ text dance – trying our best to squeeze in catch-ups (since we can never find the time to talk on the phone) and tossing out date suggestions for when we might be able to see each other. Once we reached an agreement on a night that worked for both of us, the next task was determining what we were going to do – and where. Thankfully, she is a saint and will often volunteer to meet me halfway, despite the pile of nursing homework and lonely pup she has waiting for her at home. She also happens to be a great detective when it comes to discovering awesome new restaurants to visit. After she suggested Earth at Hidden Pond in Kennebunk, I took one glance at the online menu and was sold without getting past the ‘From the Coast’ section. Crunchy glazed pork ribs? SAY NO MORE. We both decided to ignore the steep price tags (a casual $165 ribeye, for example) because…YOLO.

For the record, we did not order the ‘enormous’ ribeye.IMG_7227

On my way to girls night, I was obviously running way behind schedule because that seems to be my M.O. and traffic heading out of Portland is always a treat. To complicate matters, the hidden part of the restaurant was no joke – even my GPS was confused, telling me repeatedly that my destination was an unhappy woman’s driveway. A few wrong turns and some choice words later, I came upon a questionable-looking dirt road with the unmistakable “Hidden Pond” signage at its entrance. The landscape of the lengthy driveway leading to the venue gave off fairy house vibes, with tree-lined paths extending from the road and stopping at cabins sporadically placed throughout the woods.

Once you make it to the front entrance of Earth, a word of advice: take advantage of the valet service. There seems to be no real rhyme or reason for the parking situation, which is dispersed between sporadic trees.

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Inside the restaurant, I couldn’t help but shamelessly swoon over the modern light fixture that dressed up the lobby area. ICYMI: I have a small obsession with lights and snag any opportunity to take photos of them.

No detail throughout the venue was overlooked, as wildflowers decorated barn-inspired walls and large tree branches hung from the tall ceilings. We later learned that everything on the dinner menu was either grown onsite or locally sourced, hence the name ‘Earth’ and appropriately-theme decor.

We ended up having to wait at the bar for a table, which gave us the chance to talk with an older couple who could not stop raving about the flatbread pizza and meatballs. About a half-hour later, we were finally brought to our table on the back patio. A swimming pool served as the centerpiece of the deck, with low-set country-style tables lining the edge. Tiki torches and live music provided the perfect backdrop for a summer dinner.

Cocktail to try: Tree Line IMG_7242

Someone really nailed this light and summery concoction: a mix of Kettle One vodka, St. Germaine, and fresh mint leaves. The unique blend of sweet elderflower and refreshing mint make it a dangerously delicious drink that helps to combat the discomfort found in humid summer evenings. At $15, it’s probably wise to limit yourself to just one – but it ain’t gonna be easy.

Plate to try: Flatbread Pizza

…And not just any Flatbread Pizza. Pizza with ‘Marscapone, Fennel Sausage, Calabrian Chile, Oil Cured Olives, and Pepper Cress’. Not even sure what some of those ingredients are, all I know is that together, they offered up a light and delicious pizza with a kick. I was actually so into it that I didn’t have the chance to take a photo.

Experience in Summary

The only drawback to our whole experience was the wait time. On top of the 30 minutes spent waiting at the bar, no one came to our table until I mentioned something to the patio bartender, some 15 minutes later. Otherwise, the food was excellent (albeit a tad pricey),the setting was tasteful, and we couldn’t have asked for better weather.

A fun fact that we learned from talking with the bartender inside: Hidden pond rents out the cabins I had seen on my drive in for secluded getaways. The venue also offers private event cabins located off the back of the restaurant, perfect for intimate dinner parties. The transparency of Earth’s garden is pretty amazing; they grow the majority of their ingredients on property, and their garden is accessible to guests.

To learn more about this establishment, visit www.earthathiddenpond.com

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USING ‘POKEMON GO’ TO CAPTURE BUSINESS

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If you had told me that Pokémon was going to make a serious comeback at any point in my life, I would have laughed at you and replied “Right, and I should probably dig out my slammers in preparation for the POG resurrection”.

But it’s happening. And way faster than anyone can comprehend.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two weeks, you know that the popular 90’s franchise has been reincarnated as an augmented reality mobile app known as ‘Pokémon GO’. In summary: it’s now possible to capture Pokémon “in real life” using your smartphone. Subsequently, the entire world has lost it’s damn mind – even countries that haven’t been able to download it yet.

A mere 13 hours after its July 6th debut, Pokémon GO found itself at the top of US charts, making it the most successful mobile game ever to hit the United States. It quickly surpassed reigning social media platforms Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook for iOS user engagement and has shutdown servers with its more than 15 million Apple and Android installs.

Upon initial assessment, Pokémon GO is the new kid on the mobile gaming block that everyone wants to be friends with. So much so, that app users – aka “trainers” – have flooded the news with stories of falling off cliffs, crashing into trees, and even solving crime – just to ‘catch ’em all’. Others are crushing their step goals by venturing up to 10km, just so their incubating Eevee will finally hatch.

Despite its staggering popularity amongst a largely millennial audience, the inevitable question for any overnight celebrity application remains on the table: Will Pokémon GO stick around long enough to join the ranks of successful mobile games before it, or will it fade faster than Heelys?  It’s too early to make any long-term predictions about the  game’s future, but one thing is for certain: While Pokémon GO is here, small-medium businesses (SMBs) should strike while the iron is hot and capitalize on the app’s million daily users.

Here’s how to do it.

First Thing’s First: Be A PokéStop.

A trainer’s quest to catch as many Pokémon as possible is sustained by his/her access to Eggs and PokéBalls – two items that make the catching part happen. Such necessities are found at stations cleverly referred to as “PokéStops”, which include neighborhood tourist attractions like historical monuments, parks, statues, and – you guessed it – local businesses.

SMBs may have no prior knowledge of their PokéStop status, which is predetermined by the game’s developer, Niantic. But if you’re an SMB with a storefront presence, you’re going to want to do a little research to figure that out pronto. Simply put: serving as a source of virtual replenishment for the biggest mobile game in US history will undoubtedly generate some additional foot traffic for you.

There are two primary ways to determine if your business is a PokéStop. The easiest of course, is to download Pokémon GO and see if the signature blue emblem that designates a Stop is floating in or around your venue. The second, less-known method for identifying PokéStop locations is to tap into data originally collected from Ingress, an earlier AR exploration game also developed by Niantic. By downloading Ingress and creating an account, users are able to unlock the application’s global intel map, which highlights not only its own locations, but also portal locations for (surprise!) Pokémon GO.

Once you’ve secured your position as a PokéStop, you can enjoy increased exposure to an audience that may have never heard of you before, as hoards of trainers will identify you as a Stop and come to collect the goods. As great as this is, a trainer’s mission is simple: go out and find Pokémon. If there are no Pokémon to be seen near your business, you can expect that most people will be on their way. But if you familiarize yourself with one of the app’s features (and best-kept secrets), you will quickly discover how easy it is to change that.

‘Lure’ Pokémon (and your Customers).

In addition to providing trainers with the tools they need to succeed in the game, PokéStops also serve as a hub for attracting Pokémon through what are referred to as “lures”. Anyone accessing Pokémon GO has the ability to purchase and drop a lure at a PokéStop, which will give themselves and any trainer in the surrounding area the opportunity to capture. Two important things to reiterate here: 1) lures may only be released at PokéStops and 2) multiple trainers can catch Pokémon drawn to a single lure.

Is a lightbulb going off yet?

As an SMB-turned-PokéStop, you are essentially able to leverage Pokémon GO to effortlessly bring customers into your business. Once a lure is purchased and released through the game, it displays within the GPS-integrated map as a purple cloud of flowers and remains active for 30 minutes. During this time period, several Pokémon will storm the area, making it crucial for avid players to stick around once they’ve discovered a lure has been released.

Get creative during those 30 minutes. Drop a sign outside your location that eludes to recent Pokémon sightings and offer discounted appetizers to trainers who are weary from their travels. Remember that those who are really committed to the game will probably stay until the timer runs out on the lure. As the talking cornfield in Field of Dreams so eloquently put it, “If you build it, they will come”. #Preach

How to win when you’re not a PokéStop.

Eager to jump on the Poké train, you do extensive research and to your great disappointment, learn that you are not a designated PokéStop. What a buzzkill. Short of sponsoring a PokéStop, which so far has only been permitted for McDonald’s locations in Japan, that leaves you with seemingly limited options to cash in on the craze.

Fear not, my friend and consider your neighbors who do have that title.

Let’s say that Ralph’s Pizza, which is two doors down from you, has been labeled as a PokéStop. Ralph may be taking advantage of this and purchasing lures up the wazoo, but he also may not be as tech-saavy or as “in the know” as you are. You can do both of you a favor by sauntering over to Ralph’s and tossing lures in his general vacinity. At the very least, you will draw attention to your location from trainers who may not be familiar with the area. They may also pass by after collecting supplies or Pokémon at Ralph’s PokéStop and decide that they feel more like seafood tonight than Italian.

If you’re one of those people who adamantly refuses to install Pokémon GO but is still intrigued by the insanity it is evoking, you can take the less aggressive sidelines approach and just pretend that you know what you’re talking about. Use that sidewalk signage or take to your Facebook business page and highlight specials you are running if customers can come in and furnish proof that they are on the hunt for Pokémon. Offer a special discount specific to a certain team’s color.

If you do not have a physical location for your SMB, but have serious FOMO (fear of missing out) on the Poké-craze, take your business to the streets and work remotely from a PokéStop. You don’t even have to steal another business’s glory; the statue of your smalltown highschool football coach that overlooks a bustling street will work just as well.

Takeaway Points

  • Pokémon GO is exploding. It’s the fastest-growing mobile application in history and is showing no signs of slowing down – especially since many countries are sitting on the edge of their seats in anticipation of when they will be able to access it.
  • The app attracts a mostly millennial audience. According to a recent study, 18-34 year-olds account for roughly 83% of all Pokémon GO users; Not entirely surprising, considering Pokémon 1.0 peaked during a chunk of that group’s childhood.
  • Lures deliver a crazy ROI and require little effort. All you need to do to increase sales as an SMB is purchase a reasonably-priced lure package. Investing just $50 will get you roughly 44 hours of lure use. That’s $1.24 per hour. $50 is nothing when you consider that you barely have to lift a finger in order to attract Pokémon (and visitors) to your business for a total of 44 hours.
  • You don’t need to be a PokéStop to be successful. Rely on your neighbors, go remote with your business, and gamify the experience. The opportunities are endless!

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