How Early is it *Too Early* to Travel in a (Fairly New) Relationship?

After dating for just over two months, Adam and I made a pretty monumental decision: we sent in our applications to get our passports renewed.

You see, mine was due to expire and his had already been expired. I can’t quire remember exactly when in our relationship we had initially talked about it, but by the time we got there it seemed like the most natural thing. So one Saturday a couple of weeks ago, we went to the local CVS to take our passport photos. I had already filled out both applications, we signed them and away they went!

I cheered today as I realized that the government had cashed my check – it means that the passports are on their way to being processed and soon we will be able to travel internationally together.

When talking with some friends about it all, I realized that this might be deemed as “too soon” by some people’s standards.

Inevitably, the question comes up: how early is simply TOO EARLY to travel with a significant other?

How long should two people be dating before they can take a trip together? How serious do they need to be before spending a significant amount of time together somewhere new, possibly somewhere that they simply can’t escape from each other?

For Adam and I, it didn’t take very long.

While we’re about to get our passports and are planning an out-of-the-country trip, the truth of the matter is that we took our first mini-vacation about two and a half weeks into our relationship. It was a mid-week trip that was about the equivalent of spending the weekend together. We drove to a new city, rented a hotel and spent a couple days exploring before ultimately going home.

It might sound like an incredible leap of faith to go somewhere new with someone I barely knew, but I had no doubts that I was making the right decision at the time. In fact, it was on that trip that we decided to officially commit to each other (“Are we boyfriend and girlfriend now?”) and it was a HUGE step in us falling in love.

That trip holds a really special place in both of our hearts, but I know that some people said “WHAT?!” in their heads when they heard that I was going away with the boy I was dating less than a month.

I’m sure those same people would also be shocked to know that we’re soon taking a week off with my parents, spending a week in New York City with all of my friends in two months and then another week in Chicago meeting all of his family and friends for Christmas. You know, NBD – NOT!

But the biggest shocker of it all might be that international trip we’re planning at the end of November. A trip that comes in just under 7 months of dating and includes a wedding in an exotic location.

To be honest, I probably would have been one of those people right now, judging my relationship and wondering if it was moving “too fast” and whether committing to travel plans well beyond how long we’ve been together is a bad idea. In fact, I can remember not even a few months ago telling a friend that the general consensus of advice seems to be that you should never plan a trip further ahead than the months you’ve been together.

Yet here I am, not even at the three month mark, and already planning how we’re going to spend our seventh, eighth and maybe tenth month anniversary. In fact, we might even have half-seriously joked about where we’re going on our one year anniversary.

Yes, I know this might sound crazy. But the more and more I think about it, the more I realize that it’s just exactly our kind of crazy.

Ultimately, nobody can tell me what’s right in my relationship except me and my partner.

As they say, nobody really knows what goes on behind closed doors. It may be a cliche, but it’s been said over and over for a reason. And to be honest, I’ve never been a huge believer in normalcy anyway.

While the slightly more rational person in the back of my mind might be cautioning me a little right now, I know that in my relationship, we are far past the “is this too soon?” stage. Every step we have taken has been miles ahead of what someone else might expect. But that doesn’t make it wrong or weird or speedy. It makes it part of what makes me and Adam an “us.”

As I look at the leftover passport photos and giggle about what kind of new bathing suit I’ll be buying for our November trip, I sure as heck know one thing: it’s not too early for us.

In fact, it feels like we’ve been waiting for this for a LONG time.

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To Car or Not to Car? When Buying One is the Question…

To car or not to car? That is the question…

Here’s the deal: I have been living in the state of Florida for almost three months now, and I have yet to purchase a vehicle for my transportation needs. And I am starting to seriously consider whether I actually need one or not…

The truth is, I’ve been living in New York City for the past 12 years and it’s been really easy to get by without a car. It’s really the best city this side of the Atlantic for public transportation. There are tons of subway lines and the buses aren’t too bad either (though many of my NYC friends have never been on one, I like them!).

In fact, nobody I know in the city has a car because nobody really needs one. And if they do have a car – and there’s been a friend here or there – it’s for a very specific need. One friend has a car at his family’s home in New Jersey, one friend has a car because it’s easier to conduct his business, one friend has a car because it’s MUCH easier to travel with his baby and another friend has a car because he needs it for his band equipment.

The general trend, though, is to not bother with one at all. To be honest, the only real reason to have a car is if you live in an outer borough (Brooklyn and Queens, mostly) because it is a shorter commute to go from one outer borough to another in a car. But even for those friends that have a car, not a single one of them uses it to commute to work or to go into the city.

I’d heard stories of other friend’s friends having cars for various reasons, such as going to the Hamptons during summer weekends or for monthly Costco trips. Those seem like pretty decent reasons, actually, but none of these were really reasons good enough for me.

I was pretty happy to not own a car for the past decade, and I honestly sort of continue to be happy about it.

The truth is that my main reason for considering owning a car at this very moment is because it has always seemed impossible to NOT own one everywhere outside of New York City.

Sure, you could probably get away with it in smaller cities like Chicago and Atlanta. But in general, if you want to live anywhere outside of the metropolis that is the biggest city in the United States, then you needed to invest in your own mode of transportation.

No longer can I depend on the trusty old MTA to get me to the beach, to get me to work or to get me to dinner with my friends.

These days, I really can’t get anywhere without a car – but to be honest, I am still having my doubts about needing one.

The truth is, I’m very comfy without one right now. I work from home (as the freelance food editor at Brit+Co) and find very little cause to use a car on a daily basis. In fact, if I had a car, I definitely wouldn’t need to use it every single day because of my very cushy remote work situation.

I’m currently in the process of officially moving in with the boyfriend, which is partially another reason why I’m both considering getting a car and considering NOT getting a car.

You see (and I know that I am SUPER spoiled in this), he pretty much drives me wherever I need to go. And the truth is, it’s not like he’s going out of his way to go somewhere special. Nope! For the most part we are going somewhere together and that’s just fine by me.

With very little exceptions, our arrangement has been working for us.

I know that this might not always be the case, which is one reason to get a car. I know that as the “honeymoon” period of our relationship fades or as my needs become greater (or his needs, for that matter), having one car for two people is not going to be ultimately sustainable. And even worse, I know that in cases of emergency, if I need to get to the hospital or bring one of our pets to the vet, I am REALLY going to need a car.

But right now, all of that seems really far off. At most, I can see myself maybe needing a car once or twice a week – and at the moment, it’s kind of easy to just say “meh, I’ll just have Adam drive me or borrow a car from my parents in dire straights.” If I started to spend the money I am planning to budget on a car FOR the actual car, I would be spending more per ride than if I took an Uber or rented a car three times a week.

Now doesn’t that seem just a little silly?

I know that a car will provide me with plenty of freedom. Should I start to feel cooped up or want to go out and run an errand or want to just go to the store and surprise Adam with something, or even just buy flowers for myself because it’s gloomy outside and I want them, having a car will definitely be a huge advantage. And that’s not even to mention one or both of us needing some alone time or time with a friend. Coupledom, while extremely awesome, isn’t everything.

But then again, I’ve survived 12 years without one. And although I’m not saying I will live the rest of my life without my own mode of transportation and simply depend on my partner when and if I need him (or, ya know, an Uber), it’s also nice thinking about all of the really AWESOME things that I could do with the extra money I’d be spending on a car that I barely even use…

So, for now, I am holding off. In a couple of months, after my work situation is more stable and I’ve paid off my 2015 taxes (don’t ask) and our rent has gone up a bit with a lease renewal and we are just more stable as a couple in our lives together… I will reconsider. Yet at the moment, I just can’t help but think: do I really want a car when an extra vacation or two a year might just be so much more fun?

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5 Snacks I Absolutely LOVED During Whole30

When I set about doing Whole30 last month, I knew one very real thing: I was going to need to snack, snack and snack some more!

I know that the original program actually doesn’t really encourage snacking. Technically, you should be eating good enough portions that have plenty of calories and good fat. All of that food should be completely satisfying to the average person doing Whole30 – but I’m a bit of a unique case.

You see, I had a gastric bypass back in 2009 which allowed me to lose 100 pounds. It’s great, but one major thing that this surgery has done is that my stomach is much smaller than most people. A LOT smaller!

Couple that with the fact that me and Adam were also planning to do a pescatarian Whole30 (since, you know, the boyfriend was a vegetarian up until that point and had just barely talked himself into eating fish again), I knew that snacking was going to be monumental.

First of all, we needed the added calories. Me because I wouldn’t be able to eat decently sized portions and him because he would need to compensate for not having as much protein to support his continuing muscle growth. Fortunately (or unfortunately?), he’s one of those people with high metabolism who was pretty skinny his whole life. He’s currently finally at a weight he’s happier with and continuing to exercise. But that all requires LOTS of protein, and he couldn’t really have any protein shakes during Whole30.

Secondly, we both would also need more healthy fats. Since I wouldn’t be getting most of my animal fat from meat, pork and poultry (just fish!), I needed to step up on compensating for that. I know that, when I tried Whole30 in the past, eating good fats was really important to keep me full and satiated. Again: why snacking would was SO important!

Even though it’s not actually encouraged during Whole30, making sure I always had good and healthy snacks around is a must-do in my life. Plus, getting into the habit of these kind of snacks helped to set me on the path for continuing healthy snacks after we were done with Whole30.

So what did we indulge in? Here’s the list!

1. Baby Carrots & Guacamole Cups: This is one that I actually discovered through my career as a food writer, and it’s something that has served me QUITE well. It’s a snack that I had back when I first tried Whole30 in January 2015, and the boyfriend absolutely LOVED this one. Basically, it’s about a cup of baby carrots wth a Wholly Guacamole mini. It’s a really easy snack that we have continued since then. And it’s DELISH! The best is that the guacamole is pre-made but totally Whole30-friendly. I actually bought big packs of this guac, too, for topping meals occasionally. It was definitely a win-win type of situation.

2. White Grapes and LOTS of Berries: One of our other strategies for snacking, while not necessarily filling us up with calories or healthy fats, was always having fruit around. This was an especially good snack around the mid-afternoon slump. Sure, some people may yell at me for having sugar, but the little pick-me-up with fiber was exactly what I needed around that time of day. Personally, white grapes were my favorites for this and they were a particularly easy snack because it’s hard to eat an entire bag of them. This strategy also served us well when an after-dinner snack was needed too.

3. Granny Smith Apple with Cashew Butter: This one was a PARTICULAR favorite of Adam’s. He was pretty used to having peanut butter as a snack or as an additive to his post-workout smoothie, but peanuts are legumes and therefore not allowed on Whole30. Bringing in some more nutrients, though, is almond butter – but an even taster alternative (in my humble opinion) is cashew butter. Personally, I love cashews more than almonds, so cashew butter was a pretty easy change for me. While Adam indulged in this snack almost daily, I left mine for the weekends. SO good!

4. Bananas, Bananas, and MORE Bananas: This one needs very little explanation, and it’s actually one that my friend Chris turned me onto when we attempted Whole30 last time. He found that a banana as a mid-morning snack often did wonders to lift his mood, and I agree. I’ve always loved bananas, in fact, and they have continued to be a staple in our house and in our fruit basket.

5. Bags of Almonds & Walnuts: When I found the 100 calorie bags of almonds and walnuts, I almost JUMPED for joy. I must have bought at least 5 or 6 of these boxes during Whole30. We snacked on these all throughout our time on Whole30, and they were absolutely great. They were necessary to bring to the movies, to keep in my purse when a random hunger bout struck and we’re nowhere near the house… and just about any other time too. We still have some of these around, and I’m really thankful for the healthy snack that I can keep in my bag for whenever.

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How to Make the Easiest Dessert Pizza Ever (with a Tortilla, DUH!)

DESSERT PIZZA, you guys!

I have to say that in capitals because, well, OBVIOUSLY dessert pizza is one of the best things that any of us can imagine.

Okay, real talk: it’s been kind of a rough week. Okay, it’s been a really really difficult week for those of us who believe in the #BlackLivesMatter movement. I’ve had a not-so-pleasant time trying to keep some optimism alive after all of the tragedy, but it’s been helping to talk about it.

The other thing that has really helped with this rough week is when Adam comes home from work and we give each other a BIG old hug. Holding the person I love really close after an upsetting week just helps. I can feel my anxiety melting away as he wraps his arms around me, and my happiness level shoots straight up.

Of course, we’re not perfect. And so I noticed that we were snapping at each other a bit toward the end of this week, both probably feeling just generally stressed by the events of the world. It happens, and that’s okay. But how do I best deal with stress on a regular day?

Cooking, OF COURSE!

And so that’s what I did. A couple of days ago, just as Adam came home and took the dog on his pre-dinner walk, I decided to make something very special: a dessert pizza.

My logic in coming up with this crazy concoction was basically that a) we both love pizza, b) we need to cheer up, c) dessert is the BEST.

And I was successful!

The first thing I did, though, was figure out how to make the thing. And here’s my BIG secret: I used a tortilla and heated it up in the microwave using a very special and SUPER easy method to make it into a crispy tostada, aka the perfect pizza “dough” for my sweet.

If you can believe it, I’ve actually never done this before. But luckily, I remembered that I wrote an article about how to make a crispy tostada in the microwave a few years ago and I found it, then promptly made it. It takes just a couple of minutes and the tostada comes out perfect.

Of course, typically you’d cover this thing in refried beans, maybe some meat, lettuce, veggies, guacamole even… but instead, I covered it in Greek yogurt, almond butter, bananas and melted chocolate.

Want to try it yourself? Here’s how:

Easy Dessert Pizza with Crispy Tortilla

Ingredients:

  • 1 8″ tortilla, made into a tostada
  • 1 5.3oz non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 banana, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1/4 cup melted chocolate chips

Instructions: 

  1. After you’ve made your tortilla into a tostada (following these instructions, I microwaved it for 1 minute on each side), pat the plate dry and make sure your tostada is nice and crunchy.
  2. In a bowl, mix the honey into the Greek yogurt. Melt the chocolate chips if you haven’t yet (I used 1/2 cup Lindt truffles here).
  3. Finally to assemble! First, put the honey Greek yogurt as your pizza “sauce”, then the sliced bananas, small chunks of almond butter and finally drizzle the melted chocolate on top.
  4. Serve with a knife and fork, because this will likely get messy! Slowly break up the tortilla and eat it as pizza or sweet “chips”. YUM!

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Aubrey Plaza Came Out as Bisexual and So Did I (Well, a While Ago)

It’s always a lot of fun for me whenever a new celebrity comes out as bisexual because, as one of the tribe myself, I can’t help but give a little WOO HOO to our little spark of visibility all of a sudden.

This morning I read that Aubrey Plaza, one of my favorite actresses (who also happens to be Latina), has just revealed that she is bi. In an interview with The Advocate, the famously monotone funny woman responded to a question about whether women come to her with:

“Oh, yeah. I don’t mind. I know I have an androgynous thing going on, and there’s something masculine about my energy. Girls are into me — that’s no secret. Hey, I’m into them too. I fall in love with girls and guys. I can’t help it.”

Reading the news this morning definitely made me give a big WOO HOO, as per usual, because I constantly find it impressive that bisexuality can still be relegated to the back of the closet.

In fact, my own coming out story wasn’t much different than what bisexuals face today – being told that it’s “just a phase”, an attention-seeking behavior or, most annoyingly of all, that we’re all just on our way to full-on Gay Town.

And hey, I do know people who initially came out as bi and are now happily 100% homosexual but that’s not me. In fact, I resent that kind of thinking because it puts us bisexuals in a really tough spot of having to prove ourselves to both the straight and gay communities ALL the time.

When I tell someone I’m bi, I am often met with wonder, doubt or perverted stares. The realities of dating as a bisexual Latina are rough because, unfortunately, men tend to sexualize me already for my big booty and “fiery” personality. Upon finding out that I like chicks too, it tends  to get even worse. Lately, I’ve had to actually preface any further questions with “and that doesn’t mean I want a threesome.” Because, yes, that is absolutely the FIRST thing I am asked by (most) straight men.

Not that there’s anything wrong with threesomes, but that’s not why I am a proud card-carrying member of the LGBT community.

Mainly, I just find women beautiful and attractive and sexy. Being with a woman can be a completely different experience than being with a man, and that can be pretty thrilling in and of itself.

And so I’ve known, and been very comfortable with, my own bisexual identity for many years now. Even if my parents are kind of in denial about it and even though I’ve come across some gross and rude comments from the opposite sex, it’s a huge part of what makes me who I am – and not a part I would ever apologize for.

Sure, I mostly form emotional attachments to men (both as friends and as lovers), but that doesn’t make my attraction to girls any less real. And for as long as I’ve been able to, I have fought long and hard to help the advancement of gay rights across the U.S. After all, shouldn’t I have the right to marry the man or woman that I choose?

This simple concept to me has always been pretty obvious, and I’m glad that 2016 is a year that we can continue to celebrate more and more freedoms as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and whatever-else-you-want-to-identify-as individuals. Even as we face unspeakable tragedy like what happened in Orlando last month, I like to think the world is still a little better off today than it was when I first came out in 2003.

Sure, I wish that some people still didn’t have the mentality that bisexuality isn’t real or that bisexual men don’t exist (something that REALLY bugs me, let me tell you) or that we’re attention whores or just plain whores… But that kind of thinking is changing. And by speaking out about who we are, whether the person speaking out is a famous actress or little old me, we serve as a reminder that we’re here, we’re bisexually queer, and GET USED TO IT!

Thanks, Aubrey, for this little reminder today.

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