a quick summit recap.

This weekend has been quite the whirlwind, and I am thrilled that I decided to go for it and attend the Healthy Living Summit.  It was wonderful to feel a part of a community of health-minded women not just over the internet, but face to face.  Thanks for inspiring me to blog, girls.

Saturday was filled with many informative speakers who covered a wide array of topics, from a stirring speech on organic farming to details about eco-friendly beauty.  The summit committee shared a great deal of behind the scenes blog info, as well as much of their own experiences with health, fitness, and fitting it all in.  I have much to share about what I learned and was moved by, and I’ll post my thoughts in more depth over the coming week.  Stay tuned!

In the meantime, a photo recap of the fun…

I was lucky to room with two beautiful bloggers, Chandra and Rose:


And we ended up with wonderful Wisconsin “suitemates,” Melissa and Renee.  I think we coined ourselves the fab five?  It was a good time.


We began and ended the weekend by displaying a healthy balance:


The summit began with a cocktail party, where I caught the tweeting bug with Meghan:


And laughed with many bloggers like Whit:


We were provided with a breakfast of perfection, courtesy of Stonyfield and MixMyGranola:


And I created an equally delicious lunch from the healthy buffet:


We even got an afternoon snack (not to mention an amazing amount of swag, part of which got my grumbling stomach through the morning):


I saw food bloggers in action:


And visited a Boston essential:


I enjoyed the summit speakers very much, but I truly loved getting to know the other bloggers in person.


Thanks to Caitlin, Heather, Jenna, Kath, Meghann, and Tina for organizing such a successful event, and thanks to all the other bloggers (and readers!) for welcoming a newbie like me.  I had a fantastic weekend!



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One evening over vacation, my family was dining together (as usual), and my mom posed a question to my dad.  I can’t recall exactly how it fit into our conversation, but the query was made.  “How much do you weigh now?”

I am usually a very soft spoken person.  I choose my words carefully, always think before I speak.  So, I surprised myself when I unabashedly blurted, “Who cares?”

But those words were the truth.  

I’ve just enjoyed eight nights of vacationing.  Eight nights of restaurant meals.  Eight desserts, many glasses of wine, pieces of bread, tastes of heavenly food.

It has nothing to do with weight.  Weight is irrelevant.

ally leslie at joshuas

It wasn’t always this easy for me.  [Sometimes it still isn’t].  But as I’ve often said, and hopefully demonstrated, food is one of life’s pleasures and privileges, and I never want to associate it with weight again.  I never want to associate it with “should” or “shouldn’t.”  I never want to associate it with guilt.

I’ve struggled to determine my feelings on the popular philosophy of moderation.  I’ve been far from it, forbidding a list of foods that only became longer as time went on.  I very, very slowly learned to practice it.  And since I found a healthier balance, I’ve started to wonder if I really believe in moderation at all.

mom and dad at arrows

Sometimes, I think it’s necessary to eat an ice cream cone the size of your head.  It’s necessary to eat pancakes in the morning, even if you ate pasta for dinner.  It’s necessary to eat a salad so big that your stomach hurts from all the fiber.  It’s necessary to scoop hummus liberally, even if the serving size is two tablespoons.  It’s necessary to be the exact opposite of moderate, and go completely over the top.  

dad and leslie at hotel

Balance is eating breakfast in the morning, even if I had a big meal the night before.  It’s eating two bites of dessert when that’s all I want, but also knowing I can clean the plate when I desire that as well.  It’s eating fruits and vegetables in any quantity I choose, never apologizing for being “too healthy.”  It’s eating a bit lighter during the day when I know I’ll be eating more at night.  But it is never allowing one day of “light” to become habit or restriction.

ally and leslie at hotel

Balance is appreciating the view on a vacation, rather than obsessing about the image in the mirror.  It’s treasuring the moments with my favorite people in the world, not adding up the calories of the plates we are sharing.  It’s savoring the memories I’ve created, and it’s realizing that measurements and numbers don’t exist in those memories.


I had a wonderful vacation.  And now, I’ll go back to normal.  Has my weight changed?  Will it change?  I don’t know.  My jeans still fit, and really, it doesn’t matter.

Do you believe in moderation?


Filed under health

diner dining.

We had one final mission before leaving Maine today: blueberry pancakes.

After one last walk on the beach, one last round of family golf, and two cars stuffed to their brims, we set out for the ultimate pancake destination: the Maine Diner.

maine diner

It may appear a token roadside diner, but looks are not everything.  The wait for a table is always long, as diners in-the-know practice patience for the best blueberry pancakes in, well, the world.  Seriously.

As a farewell to Maine meal, my mom and I split a short stack of pancakes, a veggie omelet, and a fruit salad.  The eggs and fruit were good, but really, nothing compares to these pancakes.  Moist, doughy, thick, and overflowing with juicy blue.  

maine diner meal

You might notice the maple syrup spilled behind my plate.  Sometimes we are clumsy.  Although, with the amount of plate-passing my family does, it’s surprising we don’t spill more often.

Now, I’ve said goodbye to Ogunquit for another year, and I am spending the evening at a friend’s, midway between Maine and Boston.  My dad booked our reservations for next summer, and in the meantime, I can’t wait to meet some fabulous bloggers at the summit tomorrow!

What are the best pancakes you’ve ever had?


Filed under restaurant


The day had to come – the final evening of our vacation.

Our dining destination last night was actually just outside of Ogunquit – Joshua’s, a restaurant in Wells, one town north of ours.  The chef, Joshua Mathis, began his career at Five-O, before opening his own kitchen along with the aid of his parents.  The family-operated business would already have my support, but it gets better, as they grow their own vegetables and add seasonal ingredients to each dish, matching each month of the year.  And the final plus:  nearly everything on the menu, including the wine list, is organic and sustainably raised.


The one drawback to Joshua’s is that the menu never changes.  Aside from the soup of the day and two entree specials, one of which is vegetarian, the menu has remained identical from the moment the restaurant’s doors first opened.  I see fine dining as an adventure, and part of that means opening a menu without any preconception of what might be waiting within its folds.  I enjoy reading through the choices, imagining the flavors, making selections according to my cravings that evening.  At Joshua’s, that piece of the experience is lost.

But, the food is still expertly prepared, as Joshua bakes his own breads and desserts, spins his own ice creams, harvests his own crops, and of course, prepares each dish himself.  While the excitement of new tastes may not be part of a return visit to Joshua’s, the joy of perfect cooking certainly is.

Our meal last night began with a bottle of red, as always.  Things got a little crazy because I chose the wine, and it wasn’t pinot noir:

david bruce petite syrah

I picked a David Bruce petite syrah – everyone loved it.

The chef always bakes a variety of breads, and we were treated to a basket with tastes of four types:


The best is the anadama bread – whole wheat molasses with dried fruit and nuts, akin to a doughy dessert.  I. love. bread.

I’ve tasted nearly every appetizer on the menu in the past, so I chose to start with a salad:

joshuas salad

Mixed greens fresh from the garden, with a roasted tomato vinaigrette.

The thing about Joshua’s is that while the menu may never change, every item is still cooked to absolute perfection. For an entree, I chose the fish special, and while it was not a new dish (my sister remembered ordering it last summer), it was the best fish I’ve had this entire trip.

joshuas entree

Seared halibut and a sea scallop (Amy, you’re right – I’m obsessed!), with garden fresh steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, and just enough creamy corn sauce.  Both the halibut and the scallop were just – oh, amazing.

Dessert has been five literal years in the making.  Back when the restaurant first opened, my parents visited it in the spring, and my dad described the dessert he had ordered: a maple walnut pie with maple ice cream and homemade whipped cream.  His description sounded perfectly decadent, and with maple being one of my favorite flavors, I couldn’t wait to order it in the summer.  And then, summer came, and they ran out of pie.  The following year, our server greeted us with dessert menus and apologized – they were, once again, out of maple walnut pie.  It happened again and again – no pie, no pie.

This year, I made sure to reserve a piece right at the start of the meal.

maple walnut pie

It was so very much worth the wait.  

Ending the week in our timeless town with a timeless meal seemed particularly appropriate.  I’m savoring my last few hours in paradise, soaking in every flavor and every gorgeous view to last me until next year.

Do you prefer menus that are familiar or those that always change?


Filed under restaurant

the lobster pound.

Over the years, my parents have taught me a great deal about food.  One lesson I have come to truly respect is the importance of local food, not only because of its greener quality, but also due to the increased strength and depth in flavor.  It’s the explanation for why my father won’t touch a bialy or a deli sandwich outside of New York, the reason I couldn’t taste hummus for a good three months after returning from Israel, and the rationale behind our refusal to eat lobster anywhere but in Maine.

The Ogunquit Lobster Pound, our dining destination yesterday evening, is no fancy locale.  Atmosphere is nonexistant and unimportant; we don’t even bother to read the menu.  There is only one reason to attend:  the freshest lobster in town.

How fresh?  


That fresh.

Just outside the front door, diners select the lobster they’d like.  It is then fished out and weighed, and well, carried to its doom.  Apologies to the vegetarians who are reading.

weighing the lobsters

Servers bring supplies to the table:

lobster tools

Some diners need a bib:

dad with bib

Some just enjoy playing with theirs:

ally with bib

Two sides are selected and presented:


Finally, the main course arrives, boiled to perfection, needing no seasoning, no sauce, no added flavor.  The sweetest fish, worth the year-long wait:


Two nights ago we were relishing a refined meal at Arrows.  This night, our hands were dirty and we played with our food:

leslie with lobster claw

Balance, right?


Do you have a favorite locally-sourced food?


Filed under restaurant

vacation and movement.

Just as I enjoy leading a relatively active lifestyle, I also appreciate a bit of activity on vacation.  This has never meant spending my mornings in a hotel gym or cranking out pushups on my hotel room floor.  It does, however, mean picking up my feet and breathing in some fresh air.  In the past, I woke up to sunny runs along the beach.  This year, I appreciated the simplicity of a walk.

I began many mornings with walks on the beach…

ogunquit beach

Or along the rocky coast…

marginal way

My family walked to dinner…

shore road

And to reach entertainment…

ogunquit playhouse

We walked on the golf course…

merriland farms

We walked to the beach…


In the sun…

perkins cove bridge

Blanketed by fog…

ogunquit river fog

And just to appreciate the view.

perkins cove

I love walking.  Accompanied by some time on my yoga mat (have I mentioned I held crow for the first time this week?), it is all the movement I need.

How do you move on vacation?


Filed under exercise

balancing it out.

While it may seem that my family eats nothing but gourmet meals, we do know when to take a break.  Last night was one of those evenings; with three three- course meals behind us, it was time for a less intense dining experience.  

We strolled over to the local sandwich shop, Fancy That, and brought our paper plates onto the outdoor patio.  The weather was unusually warm for Maine, so we were able to enjoy our meal al fresco in the sun, people-watching the other vacationers strolling through the town’s center.

In its heyday, Fancy That was unmatched in sandwich creativity.  The bread was thick and grainy, the fillings diverse and bountiful.  The counter service was slow and confusing, all part of the shop’s charm.  More importantly, avocado could be added to any sandwich.

Time has passed, however, and the crowded sandwich shop moved across the street, merging with an ice cream parlor, espresso bar, and village grocer.  Things have changed, bit by bit, and this year, avocado was completely absent from the menu.  A cardinal sin:  when I requested it, I was informed that avocado no longer exists on the premises.  [First the slimcado, now this!  I can’t win.  Good thing I haven’t exactly been deprived of good food lately.]

The food is nevertheless still tasty – though the menu has certainly shrunk along with the sandwich sizes.  I was ravenous upon ordering, so, um, the camera missed the first few bites:

fancy that

I chose the Mediterranean wrap, except I changed it to a sandwich on three seed bread.  Hummus, mixed greens, carrots, onions, tomatoes, and olives, alongside a large garden salad.  Ideal patio dining fare, particularly when followed by a viewing of the latest Woody Allen movie at the local one-room cinema (loved it, by the way).  Please, can vacation never end?


What’s your go-to post-indulgence meal?


Filed under restaurant