Tag Archives: valentine’s day

WOL Day 4 + A Valentine’s Day Surprise

14 Feb

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’m so happy to have all you dear readers in my life, so I want to send you all a huge hug and all my love. 

fbstefFacebook wanted to make sure I was sending my love, too. Has anyone noticed the massive increase in ads on that site recently? It’s getting a little crazy.

IMG_2033[1]Last night I came home to a Valentine’s Day surprise of my own. Somebody had sent me flowers! I was very confused, because I figured if Stef were going to do it then he would just bring them himself and save himself the shipping/delivery costs. However, when I opened up the box, I was so happy to see that they were from my lovely mother and had a very sweet note attached. I just adore her!

IMG_2035[1]They are a perfect way to brighten up the room and all the beautiful colors remind me that spring is just around the corner. Thank you, Mommy!

As you might remember from earlier this week, Valentine’s Day is my very favorite holiday. People go on and on about how you should express your love to the people you care about all year round and not on some designated holiday, but guess what? We’re all human and sometimes life gets in the way and it’s nice to have a reminder that we should appreciate our loved ones a little more. Just call me Sara Hallmark.

SO. Today is the big day, which means there is most definitely a Week of Love Challenge ready for everybody. This one is focused on your significant other, if you have one. If not, no matter! Make this one all about you, because you’re worth it.

WOLThursStefano doesn’t have work tomorrow, so we can actually have a celebration tonight. We don’t usually make a huge deal out of Valentine’s day, seeing as it directly follows Christmas and our anniversary and precedes Stefano’s birthday in March. Usually we’re all gifted out, so we either go out to dinner or stay in and make a nice dinner ourselves. This year will be the latter and I’m looking forward to actually sitting down and having a nice leisurely meal over some good conversation.

This will be our sixth Valentine’s day together and I still remember our very first one. We had only been together for about a month and I remember being extremely nervous – we were still at that stage where any silences were awkward and we were kind of uncomfortable being alone. Stef picked me up from my house and we drove downtown to a fabulous pizzeria (which has since closed). He was so excited to introduce me to “real Italian pizza”. Some of you may know this, but Stefano is half-Italian and has much of his extended family still living in Italy, making him a self-proclaimed pizza expert.

This was my first taste of thin-crusted, Italian pizza and also probably sparked my interest in all things Italian. The dinner itself was enjoyable, but the most memorable part of the evening was getting lost on our way back home. At one point, we were trying to get directions from his dad and he drove down a one-way street in the opposite direction. After nearly driving into an oncoming car and a brief panic attack, we laughed about it the whole way home. It was at that moment I realized that talking to him was as easy as breathing and I had no reason to feel self-conscious or uncomfortable. Since then, silence in conversation is a rare occurrence between the two of us, but when it happens it is comforting rather than awkward.

Even before 2007, Valentine’s Day has always been my favorite. I think it started in elementary school when the day was all about making cards and sharing candy with my classmates. The good valentines were the ones with fun sized candy bars, we always threw away the cards that were just writing – no sweets included. It was so much fun to decorate my valentine “mailbox” and hunt through the fun cartoon cards I would receive. My favorites were the Disney princess-themed cards because I was all about Jasmine.


I don’t remember ever feeling left out of the day because I didn’t have a boyfriend, because I never really considered the holiday a romantic one. My friends and I shared valentines and ate candy and sent each other flower-grams in high school, so it was all about celebrating love between friends and family.

If you don’t want to celebrate and hate the holiday in general, you could always take a page out of Jessica Biel’s book and throw an anti-Valentine’s Day party.


I saw let’s spread the love and embrace the fact that it’s perfectly acceptable to eat candy for breakfast. Also, consider it a pre-celebration of how cheap chocolate will be tomorrow. Which is fine because chocolate is good for you, right?

Have a wonderful day, lots of love to you all!

Food for Thought: What are your thoughts on the big V-Day? Love it, hate it, or couldn’t care less?

Inside My Snack Drawer + WOL Day 3

13 Feb

It’s hump day, everybody! Halfway through the week before a much needed long weekend.

Can you believe Valentine’s Day is tomorrow??? I feel like every single holiday is sneaking up on me and I’m so not prepared. I am hoping to get crafty this evening and make some goody bags for some loved ones in the area. Next year I want to be more on the ball and send them to all my friends – even those in faraway places.

So today I want to talk about one of my favorite food places: the snack drawer at my desk. As most of you know, I pack my lunch every day and always include snacks for the mid-afternoon slump between lunch and the end of the work day. I’m generally pretty good about estimating the amount of food I will want, but some days my appetite is out of control and my stomach just feels like a black hole. Enter, the snack drawer.

IMG_2027[1]My office has a basket of snacks that will appear occasionally in the kitchen and my gym often has different kinds of bars at the front entrance. I take those times to add to my snack drawer and I don’t think I have ever actually bought any of snacks. As you can see, I have an assortment of bars, as well as my very favorite Nut & Chocolate trail mix from Planter’s. I like to keep my snack drawer full of things that have lots of protein so they’ll fill me up and power me through the rest of the work day and my gym time before I can get home for dinner.

The other day, I tried Zone’s Perfectly Simple bar for the first time.


This is from the makers of ZonePerfect protein bars. The idea behind Perfectly Simple is using fewer, all-natural ingredients. Here’s a look at the data:

Serving Size: 45 g bar
Calories: 170
Fat: 4 g
Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 8 g
Sugar: 19 g
I like that there’s a good 10 grams of protein in there, but 19 grams of sugar? For a 45 gram bar, that makes 42% of this baby sugar. Luckily, all of it is fruit-based, as the ingredients include Soy Protein Isolate, Apple Juice Concentrate, Sweetened Dried Cranberries, Date Paste, Roasted Almonds, Dried Pomegranate Seeds, and Cinnamon Powder. I like that there’s no added sugar (except to sweeten the cranberries).
I thought the taste was pretty good, though I don’t think I will ever get over the grittiness of protein in these bars. Just not a fan.
The verdict? With a couple grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein, it did a good job of filling me up until I was home to make dinner, but I still prefer whole foods, like an apple with some peanut butter, over a bar.
Do you have a snack drawer where you work? Which kinds of foods do you like to keep stashed for emergencies?
One mini meal I have been really into is an open-faced sandwich with a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese and some slices of smoked salmon.
IMG_2029[1]I nom’d on that as an evening snack while watching the State of the Union. Did anyone else watch it? My favorite part of it was Joe Biden’s tie.
joebidentieLOVE that purple.
Politics aside, there was a line of President Obama’s speech that really stood out to me and inspired today’s Week of Love Challenge.
Preach, Barry, preach.
When talking about raising children, the focus of parenting is often on the mother. For a long time, this was because mothers did (and still do) spend the most time caring for children. However, father figures are so important in a child’s life. Be it a biological or stepfather, an uncle, or even a beloved coach, having an important man in your life is crucial. Like female role models, male role models set an example for what it means to be an upstanding citizen who plays a positive role in their community.
My dad has always treated me like I am capable of anything. I was a fearless child growing up and he never held me back from trying new things because I was a girl. If I wanted to play soccer, he made sure that he practiced with me and didn’t go easy. When I wanted to study Arabic, he was always there to help me understand concepts that were difficult to understand. He is a fierce advocate for me as a career and education-minded woman.
Coming from his background, this could be a big surprise. My dad is Egyptian and is the only person in his family to live outside of Egypt. As many people know, the culture surrounding women there is generally not what it is in Western countries. All of my female relatives married young, had multiple children, and didn’t work. Many of them never reached higher than an elementary sch0ol education. Every time I visit, I am asked when I am getting married and starting a family, which is practically unheard of for a 23-year-old in the States, but very common practice back in Egypt.
Still, my father has always valued my desire for higher education and has never once suggested that I should be more focused on domestic life. He supports me in everything I do and pushes me to challenge myself by encouraging me to apply for a job or to look at graduate programs. As far as he’s concerned, I can do anything just as well, if not better than my male counterpart.
As a result, I have grown up with self-confidence and an assuredness that I can do anything I set my mind to.
So let’s give it up for the dads, grandfathers, husbands, uncles, stepfathers, teachers, coaches, and other male role models that play such an important part in our lives. Like yesterday’s challenge, this could mean anything from sending them a heartfelt email or posting a sticky note on the mirror in their bathroom to remind them how much they are loved.

Things I’ve Learned Since Starting a Blog

1 Feb

Happy, happy Friday! I know I am so ready for this weekend, how about you? The temperature in DC has dropped 40 degrees in the past two days, I’m still struggling to understand this city and its weird weather.

I guess I should also wish you a very happy February! Can’t believe January already flew by and how fast February will go, too. Although January was wonderful (celebrating my 6th anniversary with Stefano, my mommy’s birthday), February will be fabulous because of Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday and everybody can roll their eyes all they want, but I can’t think of a better holiday than one that’s focused on love. And when I say love, I mean love for family, friends, and significant others. Hallmark holiday or not, I think it’s great to have a little holiday to remind us to love one another.


As it is the first day of the month, I am going to be participating in Katy Widrick’s 28 Day Blog Challenge for the month of February. Marking the first day, I took the leap and bought my own domain name, so Magia e Pasta is officially magiaepasta.com! The idea is to spend the month of February working on improving your blog, whether it is something small, like updating your ‘About Me’ or doing a full website makeover.

Since I have been blogging on a (near) daily basis for over six months now, I feel like I want to commit to investing in the blog a little more. My goals for the blog have been all over the place, because I didn’t really know what I wanted it to become when I first started.

At the beginning, the was simply a way to mark my transition to a new city and new stage of my life post-college, but I have learned so many things about blogging (and about myself) along with way.

Things I’ve Learned Since Starting a Blog

  • I love to write. I knew this going into it, but writing is one of my very favorite things to do. If somebody could pay me to read books and write all day long, I would be in heaven.
  • HTML. I had a very (VERY) basic knowledge of it, but since starting to blog, I have learned so much about HTML code and it has really motivated me to want to take a class to get better.
  • There is a widespread healthy living community. The healthy living community is so much bigger than I could have imagined. I started out reading only a handful of related blogs and now my Google Reader is growing every day with blogs I love and learn from.
  • I have varied and changing interests. I originally meant for this blog to be about health and fitness and yes, while that is the main focus, I know that there’s so much more I can and want to talk about. Some of you may have noticed the ‘Where I Go’ tab on my website and that is something I really want to work on this month. Travel is a huge part of my life and something that I feel I can talk to others about. Having lived and traveled abroad since before I could walk, I know that I can help others get out there and explore the world.
  • Comparison leads to disaster. It’s difficult not to compare yourself to people in your life and that doesn’t change for the online community. There are several bloggers who constantly astound me with how successful they are, how in shape they are, etc. and while I know that we are all different people leading different lives, I constantly have to remind myself that I need to focus on my life and not get wrapped up in what others are doing.
  • Slow and steady wins the race. My whole life, I have expected to excel at whatever I try from the get-go. If I didn’t succeed immediately, I would quit (examples: basketball and acoustic guitar). When I first started the blog, the only people who read it were my mom, aunt, and grandma. Even though my readership isn’t sky-high, I know that there are people who read it that aren’t related to me! I didn’t really go into it with the intention of increasing my readership dramatically, but as time passes and I become more involved in social media, more people are tuning in.
  • The Internet is an amazing thing. I am part of the last generation to grow up without active use of the internet and am of the belief that recognizing the sound of dial-up is a distinct generational marker.

This weekend I am going to try my darndest to make it to yoga again. Maybe I’ll watch the Superbowl, though I really don’t have a dog in the fight (what a terrible expression). If nothing else, I will get to watch Beyonce sing it up (for real, this time?). It sort of made me sad that she had a pre-recorded track during the inauguration, but then this happened:

Thanks, Queen B.

Sending you all major love for the weekend, go 49-ers Ravens Beyonce!

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