FitFluential, a Video, and Thanksgiving Decor!

Work continues to be crazy so I continue to give you guys a substantial post each day, but after yesterday’s long one I figure I’ve earned something short and sweet today, right?

Elena sent me a YouTube video of the Cafes do Brasil brunch at Casa Restaurant that I attended last weekend, and I thought I’d share it with you guys so you can see a little of what I experienced! If you’re short on time just flip to about halfway through and you’ll catch a glimpse of me 😉


I’m also excited to announce that I have been invited to become a FitFluential Ambassador! FitFluential is an awesome company (I’ve been following them on Twitter and Facebook since I started blogging) that connects bloggers with brands and with each other. I’ve already met some great people in the company as well as other bloggers and ambassadors. I’m so excited to see where this position takes me! And if you are a blogger who wants to become part of the FitFluential family, I totally recommend that you apply.

Now I’ll leave you with the latest additions to my cubicle – Thanksgiving decor time!

Got that sign at Edmondson’s Farm stand – same place where I got my Halloween cubicle stuff!

Had to give my hand-painted giraffe a friend!

Have you heard of FitFluential? Do you decorate for Thanksgiving at all? Can you believe Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK?!

Taste of New Haven: Westville

I often find that Sunday afternoons bring about a lull in which I’m not quite sure what to do with myself. It’s too early to start getting ready for the next day (lunch packing, outfit organizing, etc) but I’ve already been doing HW for a few hours and need to do something to unwind. That’s just one of the many reasons why I was so happy to find a Groupon for Taste of New Haven, a company that hosts walking tours of different neighborhoods of New Haven and integrates food, culture, and history into a few delicious, interesting hours, starting at a local farmer’s market at Edgewood Park.

Rose's Berry Farm of Glastonbury and their apples

The particular neighborhood of Sunday’s tour, starting at noon, was Westville. I had never heard of this part of New Haven. All I think of when I hear “New Haven” is the downtown area – bars, pizza places, Urban Outfitters. This area was quaint, full of charming restaurants and walk-able streets, as well as cute, old houses. The farmer’s market itself was quite impressive! I was pleased to see that our first stop there was Glastonbury’s own Rose’s Berry Farm’s booth to sample apples. I don’t like apples, but I grabbed a Pink Lady for my mom!

Honey and maple syrup.

The next booth featured samples of real honey and maple syrup from Bodhichitta Farms. I had never had fresh, raw honey before – and I can’t say I was a fan! To each his own though – I LOVED the fresh maple syrup. I could really taste the difference between that and Aunt Jemima.

We were also able to sample dehydrated maitake mushrooms, which can be used in cooking. Their taste alone was very “earthy”, and of course they aren’t meant to be eaten alone, but were still interesting to try. I can definitely see them being good in recipes.

Pesto, feta pesto, and sundried tomato and roasted garlic spread, accompanied by both raw and pasteurized cheeses.

The award for Caitlin’s Favorite Farmer’s Market Booth (equivalent to the Oscar, as you know) goes to Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm. They are advocates of the benefits of dairy products made from raw (unpasteurized) milk. I found it interesting that there are many local town laws in CT against the sale of raw dairy. In certain towns when they attend a farmer’s market, they are not allowed to sell their raw dairy goods. There definitely seem to be arguments out there over whether or not it is safe to drink or eat raw milk dairy.

The booth was my favorite because of the food itself, both raw and pasteurized. I thought both types of cheese tasted equally delicious, but the real winners in my book were the three dips in the above photo. If you read the caption, you will see they were made up of all foods that I LOVE (not like), so this was a given.

Next we heard from CitySeed, an organization looking to use local food to connect communities – something I can definitely get behind. After all, everyone eats, and food definitely has the ability to bring communities together. They are responsible for Westville’s farmer’s market, as well as others in the New Haven area. In the above photo, blogger Alexandra Grizas is holding what is actually the stalk that Brussels sprouts come from! Thanks to Christina, I had actually learned that a week prior to attending this event, but it was still cool to see what the veggie I ate for dinner last night (on any given night…) looks like before it hits the grocery stores.

I usually roast my Brussels, but Alexandra whipped up an amazing recipe which involved steaming them and mixing them in an herb dressing of Dijon mustard, EVOO, capers, lemon juice, mint, basil, oregano, and garlic! Oh yes, that happened, and it was insanely delicious.

Can you believe that at this point, we had not even begun the restaurant portion of the tour?!

Nate is noticeably absent from his chair!

Nate’s Naturals offered up some of the tastiest granola I’ve ever had. He has four varieties, all of which are made with no added sugar:

  • Granolus Rex: basic granola
  • Toasted Orchard: more fruity, very aromatic – Rachel sampled this one.
  • Declaration: heartiest, made with flax seeds and barley malt syrup – I went with this.
  • Crunchy Yankee: lightest and sweetest, though still naturally sweetened, blend
  • Happy Jack: pumpkin special
Nate also sold balls of his granola covered in chocolate (Cocoa Orchard) or white chocolate (Yankee Lace). I really like the name of that last one!
Ahhh bread. After sampling some landbrot (a wheat rye bread) from German bread bakers Whole G, pictured at right, I had to buy a loaf! I love both wheat and rye bread, and it’s very hard to find a combo of the two, especially baked fresh. I didn’t even know there existed a name for it! I was pleasantly surprised when the girl at the booth told me that it was a buy one, get one free day. So I made out like a bandit with another loaf – kalamata olive bread!

My final haul from the farmer's market.

We were done with the farmer’s market portion of the tour, and our tour guide, Colin, led us over to a cool little place called Lyric Hall. Colin is, in addition to being a culinary tour guide, a historian, architect, actor, author, and about a zillion other things. So, he was very prepared to help his friend John in restoring the old silent film theater, where events are still held today.

Colin showing off the stage – was unable to get a pic without a ghost arm.

What amazed me most about the place was that it really did look extremely old, and full of antiques, but everything in it was actually new and made (very effectively) to look old!

Definitely have this as my phone background.

It was nice to get not just food samples, but also samples of history in our own backyards.

Colin next led us to another room of Lyric Hall, where more samples awaited us!
Yay – more bread! He selected for us food from some of his favorite local places with the best quality products – sourdough from Bread and Chocolate of Hamden, and fresh mozzarella from Liuzzi of New Haven.
It had been so long since I’d had fresh mozzarella like this and it blew me away. So simple, but SO flavorful.
We left Lyric Hall and headed over to one of Colin’s go-to spots, Delaney’s. At this point I was glad we’d gotten such a gorgeous day for the tour!
Inside, I got a really chill vibe from Delaney’s, but I also wished I had come at a time when it was busier, because I have a feeling this place draws quite the crowds in the evening. They are, after all, famous for their beers – but still, brunch comes with a free drink! That’s pretty cool too.

Belgian ale, wheat ale, and double pumpkin ale.

We, and by that I mean Rachel only, were given three beers to try. I’m not a beer fan, so all three of these ended up going to her, which left her enjoying the second half of the tour more than the first half.

Harvest Salad

Our first course was a very tasty starter salad with grilled chicken, veggies, gorgonzola, walnuts, dried cranberries, and balsamic vinaigrette. That dressing was amazing – not too sweet (could’ve easily been with those cranberries in there), and the gorgonzola contrasted so well with it, as it usually does in these types of salads. The Harvest Salad was definitely not anything I haven’t seen before, but was high quality and tasty.

Pesto cream pasta with artichokes and tomatoes.

I never order pasta out (it’s not unique enough for me and I don’t think it’s ever any better than my mom’s), especially dishes with creamy sauces, so it was nice to get a small tasting portion of this heavier pasta. The size was perfectly satisfying because the sauce was so rich and flavorful. The artichokes were a delicious addition!

Two varying levels of sobriety.

Rachel might kill me for putting up this picture, but I think it’s cute and it was unfortunately one of our only ones together from the whole day! Oh, but our best pic together is yet to come…in the mean time, we strolled through Westville and got some more interesting history lessons from Colin about the buildings we passed on our way to our last stop, Manjares.

The moment I walked in, I was in love with the quaint, cafe feelings I was getting from this place. They serve a famous brunch on weekends, and open some nights of the week for tapas and drinks! Manjares is also known for its fresh-baked pastries.

Awkwardly posing with pastries is what I do best.

The food we tried here was easily my favorite of what I sampled all day – and I’m not just saying that because it was last on the tour!

Nice nails, Rachel!

Rachel and I drooled over the full menu and sipped on fresh Barrington’s coffee while waiting. Even Rachel, a chronic Dunkin drinker, enjoyed her cup black! And it has certainly been quite the fall of coffee sampling for me!

Looking so psyched.

Grilled cheese and Paglia pancake sandwiches.

Yes you heard me right – a pancake sandwich! The top sandwich on the plate is the Paglia, or a bacon egg and cheese between two homecooked pancakes. Oh. My. Goodness. The saltiness of the bacon and cheese was a match made in heaven for the slightly, but not overly, sweet pancake.

The grilled cheese was excellent too. One of my very favorite simple food pleasures is toasty multigrain bread. It gave the sandwich a super satisfying crunch, which contrasted well with the soft cheeses, avocado, and tomato on the inside. I have to say that the Paglia sandwich stole the show though, and I polished off what Rachel couldn’t finish of hers too.

Dessert was fabulous – my first experience with flan! And I’m so glad that first experience was with something authentic and homemade. I don’t think I could have chosen a better place to try it, and I really liked it a lot. Rachel said it reminded her of creme brulee, which I can definitely see. It reminded me more of a less-rich cheesecake. The sauce covering it was so good and made me think about the Peace Tree Desserts caramel sauce that I sampled at the Beltane Farms Cheese Fest!

I was bummed that our tour was over, but have already purchased my next Groupon for a tour of the Canal Quarter neighborhood of New Haven – can’t wait! It’s not until January, but Rachel will be joining me again and I already know we will be visiting the bar with the largest rum collection in the world. Who knew that was even in CT?! If you are interested, the Groupon is still on sale until the end of the day today (Wednesday), so pick one up if you are in the area!

We capped off our tour with a photo of a fabulous find outside Frio, the gelateria owned by Manjares.

What is this, a center for ants?

There were literally no normal sized benches out there!

Thank you, Taste of New Haven!

I had a great time and couldn’t think of a better way to spend that Sunday afternoon. Thanks to Colin and Taste of New Haven for showing me some of the many, many tastes that New Haven has to offer! It’s not just bars and pizza folks – though that stuff is good too!

Have you ever been on a culinary tour in any city?

Josie’s West and a Relaxing Sunday

Hey guys! I’m a bit late asking this but…how was your weekend?! In case you missed it, Sunday I recapped the Cafes do Brasil brunch I attended in NYC on Saturday in honor of Brazilian Coffee Week in NYC. Highly recommend that you check out the recap if you’re interested in coffee and/or brunch!

Ready to head into the city.

I had such an amazing day in the city the rest of Saturday. After the brunch, I met up with an old friend from high school to seeJ. Edgar, which I HIGHLY recommend. It was a bit long but if you go in prepared for that, I think you’ll really enjoy it. Everyone’s performances were wonderful (except Naomi Watts, who I felt was just kind of there, but she was still OK).

I drove in by myself and spent some time alone shopping as well at Urban Outfitters. 50% off all sale prices – how could I resist?!

Please ignore the feet of my stuffed bear in the upper right.

Everything was just $10 each!

My grandmother often makes trips by herself, and now I see why. I loved being on my own schedule, taking things at my own pace, and being able to listen to my audio book on the drive there/back. It would take a lot of bravery for me to take on an international cruise alone, like she often has for up to a week, but solo day trips definitely have new appeal to me for their lack of stress involved.

After seeing the movie, I had the opportunity to meet up with two bloggers I have been following for awhile, Katy and Danielle, at Josie’s for dinner. The place came recommended to me by Kathleen of the Elvis Duran Show, and Katy and Danielle confirmed for me when we were originally making these plans that the place was worth visiting. And they were certainly right – I LOVED Josie’s and already want to go back!

I arrived and was totally starving. I polished off the above cornbread and focaccia bread, which was accompanied by a hummus that was either pumpkin or squash flavored – I never did completely figure it out. But as soon as I saw that there was hummus paired with the bread, I knew this was my kind of place.

Boo flash.

It was a tough decision, and one of those times when I wished I had about 10 stomachs, but I decided on the Grilled Scottish Salmon with mango-roasted pepper salsa, pinto beans, and grilled asparagus. It was fabulous!! I finished every last bite, and Katy’s veggie meatloaf and Danielle’s butternut squash ravioli were amazing as well (we sampled each other’s dishes).

Me, Danielle, and Katy.

What a great time! I so enjoyed meeting the girls who write these blogs that I have been reading for so long, since way before I started blogging. Thank you ladies for a tasty meal with great conversation!

Though I had a great time on Saturday, it was nice to spend my Sunday around town and have a relaxing Sunday. I went to spin very early and wore my new Old Navy workout top, which served me well (and even has a little zipper pocket built in – nice!) in a sweaty class. Also got HW done at Daybreak (accompanied by coconut coffee of course) and did some chores at home.

Sunday's lunch, eaten while doing some reading.

I ended my weekend with a trip to happy hour at J. Gilbert’s with a couple of friends I’ve known since high school. We were there for over two hours and had a great time! OK, I had a little too good of a time after drinking two glasses of Avalon Cab…on an empty stomach. Mistake!

Back to the grind this week…but I had a great dinner out last night and got to attend my favorite Step class, so I’d say it’s starting out well!

Have you ever gotten the chance to meet a blog friend in person? Have you ever taken a solo trip?

Cafes do Brasil Week in NYC

If you are in the NYC area this week (November 12-19), I highly recommend checking out Cafes do Brasil Week! Twenty restaurants will be serving high-quality Brazilian coffees, which I had the pleasure of sampling yesterday at a brunch at Casa Restaurant in NYC.

My greeting upon entering the restaurant.

I was greeting by the friendly woman who invited me to the event, Elena, and received a cute little bag which contained a Cafes do Brasil pin and a brochure which mapped out and described each Brazilian coffee, where it came from, and what distinguished each variety from the others. The brochure was extremely informative and helpful during the coffee tasting because it helped us visualize exactly where in the country the beans of the coffee were were drinking that very morning were grown!

Other attendees of the event included freelance writers, blog owners, photographers, and web journalists. I met some amazing people and the conversation was fantastic!

I adored the simple place settings and classic cloth place mats. Those salt and pepper shakers are cute too!

The interior was also gorgeous. During the meal, one of the writers I met, Alex DiBlasi, told me that the street we were on was supposedly one of the oldest in the entire city. I can definitely see that, because the restaurant had an old charm with a touch of authentic Brazilian decor. The plentiful sunshine coming in through the windows brightened up the white walls and ceiling even more too.

We had the chance to sit down and taste three types of Brazilian coffees with Christian Santiago of the Brazilian Roasters Association and Alberto Bicca of the Brazilian Trade Promotion Agency. I feel lucky to have been able to learn about the coffees I was trying from Brazilians with such a passion for what the farmers of their country grow – Brazil is the world’s top coffee producer! I’m a self-proclaimed coffee addict, but honestly do not know much about its origins or different types beyond simple flavor differences. Now I can honestly say I am a more educated coffee drinker, and I love knowing more about what I love!

Some of the cool stuff I learned from Christian and Alberto:

  • Deregulation of Brazilian coffee in the 1990’s aided in putting quality over quantity and increased the varieties of premium coffee grown, as well as the incidence of “green” growing practices.
  • Since the coffee grows best in certain altitudes, and so much farming is done in the mountains, there is a lack of flat land available to lay out the beans and let them naturally dry in the sun after harvest. That is why coffees made from beans that were dried are more rare.
  • Coffee is a fruit! Well, the bean that is.
  • Just like in Europe, there is not much iced coffee to be found in Brazil. Coffee-based alcoholic beverages are also not as popular there as in America.
  • In Brazil, it is common to do tastings of coffee and wine at the same time. SIGN ME UP!

I absolutely loved each coffee I tried. We sampled them solo first, from lightest to darkest (Mogiana, Cerrado, Planalto, as seen in the menu above). And trying them back-to-back highlighted the subtle flavor differences so well. My favorite type was the Cerrado, because the subtle orange flavor the menu promised was really there. I had never tasted something like that in coffee before, and I do tend to gravitate toward the unique!

My kind of shots…

I loved the atmosphere of this brunch. The people were friendly, the pace of sampling was slow, and I felt so relaxed and at ease. I’ve been feeling pretty stressed lately, so the entire day in the city yesterday was a welcome release.

Food time! Each sample was provided by Jeff Santos of Brazilian Specialty Foods, Inc and we were definitely impressed.

We started with a basket of cheese bread, yucca and coconut cake, and sugar and cinnamon doughnuts. Everything was wonderful. The doughnuts, while delicious, did not taste unique in any way that would make me think they were Brazilian. However, the yucca and coconut cake was unlike any breakfast bread I’d tried before – the perfect sweetness. I dipped both that and the doughnuts in another cup of the Cerrado.

Perfect pairing.

I love both sweet and savory breakfast treats, so the cheese bread was really something. It smelled like an asiago bagel, but had a soft, pillowy texture that I enjoyed. Each little “puff” was not chewy at all, but flaky and a pleasing warm temperature. They were my favorite part of the basket.


The main course was eggs florentine paired with roasted potatoes and Brazilian sausage. Each of us enjoyed a cup of the Planalto coffee with this dish, because it is considered the most breakfast-like coffee of the three we tried. It did complement the food well! I usually drink coffee solo, and rarely with food, so this was a nice change of pace for me. Again, the relaxed brunch vibe was really flowing at this point and I was having a blast.

The sausage was honestly the best I have ever had. The potatoes were also perfect – not greasy, and soft with the exception of perfect, crisp edges.

The egg was poached perfectly and my favorite part of the meal was saved for last – the yolk-soaked, spinach-covered english muffin. YUM. I cleaned my entire plate.

This was my first official blogger event and it far surpassed my expectations. I made amazing connections and learned so much about New York City from the other attendees and about Brazilian coffees from the event hosts.

Again, anyone in the NYC area this week should really head to one of the restaurants participating in Cafes do Brasil Week and try some Brazilian coffees – and some Brazilian food too, because why not, right? Some of these coffees are even in our country for the first time ever!

Thank you to Cafes do Brasil for having me and for teaching me so much about my favorite beverage!

How much do you know about coffee? What’s your favorite brunch dish?

Definition of Random

Happy to say that I was in a better mood yesterday – thank you for your de-stressing tips! This post is pretty random, but I have a lot of thoughts floating around in my head today.

I had a good day at work yesterday and an interesting class (Law, Business, and Society – we learned about torts and product liability) at night. Something I learned involved the famous lawsuit in which a woman was initially awarded $2.7 million in damages from McDonald’s for the third degree burns she suffered from as a result of spilling their 190-degree coffee on herself. I always thought the reward was ridiculous, but after hearing the full story from my professor, I’m actually changing my tune a bit. Turns out McDonald’s knew about their coffee being hot enough to cause 3rd degree burns within several seconds, but opted not to decrease the temperature after deciding that the money they would continue to pay out in settlements to people with burns was worth spending, compared to the money they’d lose in profit if they made their coffee the same temperature as everyone else’s. And that is why the punitive damages amounted to $2.7 million – because that is the amount of profit McDonald’s was making on its coffee in a single day. The punitive damages had a meaning and sent a message, which is indeed a function of punitive damages. So maybe the award wasn’t so ridiculous after all – what do you think? You learn something new everyday!

In other news, Faith Hill had her big comeback into country music at the CMA’s on Wednesday night. I was a bit annoyed when I was watching my DVR recording last night, and she started singing OneRepublic’s “Come Home” for her performance. I LOVE OneRepublic and their first album is one of my favorite albums of all time (and it has that song). I’m going to make an assumption (so that may make an ass out of me, but I digress) that many people watching the CMA’s didn’t know that she is not the original singer of this song because they may not know OneRepublic’s first album very well. If you’re gonna make a comeback, make it with a new song! Now many people probably don’t realize she’s covering it!


I have so many posts that I have been planning for you guys! I have all these backed up food photos that I want to post today, but hopefully soon you guys will be seeing posts on:

For now, just check out some pictures of food I’ve been eating.

Fiber One whole wheat english muffin, topped with banana and Cinnamon Raisin PB

Saturday’s breakfast – this is my favorite plate ever from my childhood 🙂 and my favorite breakfast that I hadn’t had in FOREVER! Also, I finished that jar of Cinnamon Raisin Swirl yesterday morning. Sad – but I did open a jar of Mighty Maple today!

Packed salad and fruit/cottage cheese while I waited to get my car check-up.

Had egg whites and Moe’s black beans as my protein in the above salad beast.

BBQ chicken and veggie pizza slices.

I came home for dinner Monday night and was surprised to find Giovanni’s pizza waiting for me – PSYCHED. I love their pizza. So thin and crispy!

Moe's black beans + pico de gallo

Needed a little somethin’ on the side.

Roasted brussell sprouts and whole wheat pasta

Tuesday my mom surprised me with those brussells and like the nerd I am, I was psyched. On the spaghetti we put the bruschetta-flavored oil dip mix that I got at the AppleFest. It was just as good as the sample I had there!

Meatloaf, pico, roasted brussells, and broccoli

Tonight I had an awesome dinner – the above (baby) plate, eaten with my (baby) fork, plus more meatloaf and some kalamata olive bread I got at the farmer’s market recently.

Yoplait plain greek yogurt and Uncle Sam strawberry cereal

Just finished off the above snack – dumped the yogurt out of the container into the cup and mixed with the cereal.
I’m headed to Group Step after work today – can’t wait!

What’d you have for dinner last night?

Agave Grill

I was in a Mood last night. I came home from work after getting out late, which hence caused me to be late for an appointment, which I ended up feeling like I wasted money on since it ended up being cut short due to my late-ness.

Bad mood face?

I picked up an extremely disappointing take-out meal from a local Mexican place I had a Groupon to, Three Amigos. It was set up just like a Chipotle or Moe’s, but the food was SO greasy. Probably explains why the prices were so much cheaper. I ended up throwing out most of what I brought home and eating leftovers.

The cherry on top was that lately I have been coming home and just not felt like talking to my parents. I pretty much just crave me-time at night and even telling them about my day politely when they ask feels like a chore, though I know it’s not and I sound like I’m 12 right now, not 22. But I need to vent – I can tell they’re getting sick of me acting rude sometimes, and I can tell when I’m being short with them. But it’s times like lately when I really do wish I lived alone. Still, the money I’m saving by living at home is too much to ignore.

That turned into a longer rant than I intended. So I started yesterday feeling pretty good, and ended it feeling like a highly irrational person. I guess it happens to everyone. Can anyone else relate to any of this?

I wanted to quickly review and recap a meal I had this past weekend (Saturday’s dinner), in which I used a LivingSocial deal to Agave Grill. Now this Mexican meal was much more satisfying and of higher quality (and obviously, more expensive, but the daily deal cut us a good bargain).

Image courtesy of

My mom and I called ahead, and still had to wait about 20 minutes, because this place is both popular and small. That combo can be lethal, so if any CT locals plan to visit Agave, I highly recommend you call ahead because they only take reservations for parties of 6 or more! It does stink when restaurants do that, but there really aren’t that many tables at Agave and I’m pretty sure that if they took reservations for all, they’d essentially be reservation-only like J. Gilbert’s ends up being on weekends (just because they fill up). It’s nice that they give anyone out in the city who decides to go out to a spontaneous meal a chance to dine at their restaurant.

Waiting to sit!

We expected a wait and settled back with drinks by the bar, me with a glass of red and my mom with a Dos Equis. It took me awhile to decide to have some wine but I was craving a nice glass and it ended up doing a good job keeping me company while we waited!

We were served warm chips and salsa right away. Both were great, but I do wish the salsa was the chunky type. That’s my favorite!

The specials looked really tasty, and I almost went with appetizer special of Ceviche Mixto, but then something fancier caught my eye…

Why hello, lobster enchiladas with black beans and grilled veggies! You were AWESOME.

Seriously, these enchiladas were stuffed with fresh lobster meat, no gloppy mayo or sour cream hiding its pure lobster taste. Mixed in the enchiladas’ filling was a corn and black bean salsa that was also to die for. I dumped a ton of the chip salsa into my black beans after this photo was taken. The grilled veggies were a little oily, but nothing too heavy!

My mom ordered a grilled veggie quesadilla, which I helped her finish. I agreed with her opinion that it was quite amazing, though still not as amazing as a Loco Perro quesadilla.

Woke up this morning and had time to finally try the P90X Ab Ripper video. Quick and dirty, perfect! Dirty as in effective…

In other news, I’m going out for lunch today to use a SaveNowCT deal to a local sushi place, Sakimura. This is a big deal for me because I ALWAYS pack my lunch each day and it’ll be my first time since starting my job that I haven’t! But for a soon-expiring daily deal, I think I can make an exception 😉 we’ll see how this lunch is!

Do you ever get into random moods – how do you deal with it? Any good Mexican meals to share? Ever tried the P90X Ab Ripper? Do you pack your lunch each day, go out, or mix it up?

Bertucci’s: Awesome Customer Service!

Hey guys! Happy Hump Day – my week is flying by – how about yours? If it’s not, I apologize for saying mine is. Forget I ever did?

Last night I had class, which dragged on, but it also happened to be a rest day from the gym. It was actually my first rest day in almost two weeks after looking back through my Daily Mile feed, so probably a good thing, but I still felt a bit restless!

I woke up this morning way before my alarm, at about 5:45am, and was quite awake. I took advantage of this and went to the gym to get my workout in – now I won’t have to go in the evening, and I’ll be home today around 6:45pm! That’s unheard of for me. I did 30 minutes of intervals on the Stair Master – each time I do this, it never ceases to amaze me how hard it is. Another instance in which I was trying to tell myself that quality > quantity! I followed it up with about 10 minutes of abs with a 10 pound medicine ball (to try to get some arms in), 30 regular push-ups, 30 tricep push-ups, and 30 tricep presses with the med ball. Abs and upper body, done!

Thanks for the image!

It seems that whenever I try to set an alarm to get up and work out before work, I always wake up feeling like death and can barely drag myself out of bed. So I always plan to work out in the evening on weekdays, but if I happen to wake up early in the morning (because I go to bed fairly early), I try to get my workout in then. It just works for me! Another reason I work out at night is because I love group fitness classes, and the morning classes at my gym all start at 5am or 5:4am. It’s just TOO early! So, I opt for the night classes.

Work continues to be crazy busy. I was also lucky enough to have a chance to finally start on all the saved episodes of “Hart of Dixie” on my DVR. It’s a cute show! Rachel Bilson’s clothes are gorgeous. Sure the show is cheesy, but I was always more of a Summer fan than a Marissa fan (I miss “The OC”) and can’t help but enjoy it. I hope the show makes it! Anyone else into this show?

Image courtesy of

This past weekend was the end of my week off from work, and full of tasty food. Weekends often are – isn’t that one of the many reasons why they are so wonderful?

My mom and I kicked things off Friday afternoon with manicures and then glasses of Avalon Cabernet at J. Gilbert’s during happy hour. Best happy hour in town!

My mom and I each had 1.5 glasses (we split her last one) and I was feeling SO buzzed. Good thing she was driving!

Did NOT plan to get my nails done to match my wine 😉

We headed home, picked up my little brother, and went out to dinner at Bertucci’s. I have to share a great customer service example here!

I went there for dinner before I started blogging more regularly, in early October (hence why there’s no post about that particular meal to reference). The next day, Bertucci’s posted on their Facebook that they would be giving anyone who dined there in October a coupon for a free birthday dessert to use during the next visit.

The dessert choices.

I was confused – I’d just eaten there, it had been October, but I was coupon-less! Being the coupon queen (and probably a bit obnoxious) person that I am, I wrote on their post, asking why I hadn’t received a coupon. Someone from Bertucci’s reached out to me right away and asked for my mailing info. Within a week of providing it, I received my missing coupon in the mail! I was so impressed that they would take the time to send me a coupon and show me they care about each customer. I already love Bertucci’s, but now I have even more good things to say about them!

So I insisted we go there Friday night to use my reclaimed coupon. Another satisfying meal. I got my favorite Venetian Spinach Salad with Grilled Salmon and Goat Cheese. I ate every last bite, as usual.

My brother Michael got a Cheese Pizza with Chicken. Lucky for me he didn’t eat his crusts, so I had some. The tomato sauce remnants that were left on each crust were SO fresh and delicious. Bertucci’s may have my favorite pizza sauce. I know, a bold statement!

My mom ordered the Grilled Chicken Chopped Salad with Goat Cheese and also polished it off.

I was going to give Michael my dessert coupon, but it wasn’t necessary. Our waitress was awesome and let us have two free desserts for one coupon! Michael went with chocolate cake while I chose one of my favorites – tiramisu.

Then, the cherry on top: our waitress ALSO let me use a Facebook coupon I’d gotten for “liking” Bertucci’s.

So THANK YOU Bertucci’s for an amazing coupon experience!

Are you a morning, afternoon, or evening workout person (or a mix)? Are you sick of seeing me write about Bertucci’s? Do you have any awesome restaurant customer service experiences to share?

Winter Storm Alfred

Hey guys! New responsibilities at work have me busy busy busy. Not sure how long I’ll be able to keep up this one-post-a-day thing but we’ll see!

Last night I was running super late after a doctor’s appointment, and so unfortunately missed a trip to Group Power. I was so bummed because I have a hard time motivating myself enough to get in a truly challenging weights workout solo, but spent some time on the elliptical, doing 3.5 miles, and finished two magazines that I’d previously started. I will be solo at the gym again tomorrow and I really want to just do a nice cardio/circuit weight workout that will get me nice and sweaty and sore. Any suggestions?

I have a lot of food photos to share from last week, when I was work-less and partially power-less, so let’s get to it!

For any New Englanders out there, I’m sure you felt at least a little bit of an effect from good old Winter Storm Alfred. I was one of the lucky ones – we lost power for only a few days, and since we don’t use a well, we never were without hot, running water. My office was not as lucky, but I can’t lie, the week off of work and class was, well, nice.

After one heat-less night of shivering in a ball in front of the fireplace though, wide awake at 4am, I knew that I would not be able to handle another night without power. That’s why we spent our last night with no electricity in a cozy hotel by the Mohegan Sun Casino. It was fun to have our own little “winter storm party”. We even headed over to the casino to have dinner at the Summer Shack!

I’ve eaten here once before at another night out to the casino with my parents. I love how many options their menu has. The seafood is so fresh! Most is local!

I did not partake in the bread basket, because though the Summer Shack has great seafood, the bread is nothing to write home about. There were a couple of plain rolls (my mom devoured them before the camera came out) and the above soft, Northern, sweet corn bread. Boo – bring on the crispy, Southern style! What kind of corn bread do you prefer?

My dad started with a gumbo special. It came with the most adorable side that I can only call a mini English muffin. I think my dad wanted crackers, but I was entranced by the cuteness!

Action shot!

He selected the breaded baked cod special, paired with jasmine rice. The fish was very well cooked and the tomato sauce it was baked in was so flavorful!

My mom ordered the swordfish special with broccoli and roasted acorn squash on the side. The tomato chutney sitting on top of the fish was out of this world. It was basically like eating a pile of the juiciest, freshest tomato I’ve ever tasted. She and I shared the squash and could not get over how good it was. It fit the Snowtober vibe perfectly.

I selected the cider glazed scallops appetizer with mixed greens and broccoli. Holy yum, the scallops were AMAZING! The broccoli was your typical steamed broc, nothing special, but the scallops stole the show.

As I’ve mentioned, I spent my days off during the post-storm-week working on the blog and writing my paper at Whole Foods. This meant some delicious $12 salads.

Edamame, many bean salads, falafel, green beans, pineapple, roasted veggies, a million other things.

I also spent some time at the Starbucks on Uconn’s campus, studying with Joe. I helped myself to their spinach feta egg white wrap, which I hadn’t had in forever, and forgot how much I loved!

Our first night with power back, my family celebrated by…using the grill, something that requires no power, to make dinner. Ha, oh well.

Broc, baked potato with Mariah's relish, turkey burger, grilled chicken

The next night, we made use of the newly powered freezer and had another delicious Newman’s Own Thin n’ Crispy pizza! My mom added grilled chicken to the veggie pie, just like last time. SO crispy and satisfying.

Paired mine with some leftover broc and black beans from Moe’s. I LOVE their black beans.

Had another slice after – couldn’t resist!

Were you affected by Alfred, in any positive and/or negative ways? Have you ever tried Newman’s Own frozen pizza, or Starbucks breakfast sandwiches?

Tennessee Recap: Part Five (Grand Finale)

Morning! I’m about to head back to work for the first time in over a week thanks to Snowtober. I really can’t complain. I was fortunate enough to have power back by Wednesday, and work and class cancelled. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t be bummed about going back to work. I’ll miss cafe days and morning workouts. What I am glad to get back though, is routine. I definitely thrive on it and now my days will be much more plan-able.

I don’t event feel like I am coming off a weekend – just a long vacation! It really feels like forever since I’ve gone into the office. It also feels like forever since I started telling you all about my trip, but I finally am gonna conclude my story today, so we will be back on track to regular posts tomorrow – I already have SO much to catch you guys up on that’s happened since I returned!

Anyway, so ended the surprise-extended Tennessee vacation. Yes, I’m on the level of calling this a vacation, not a trip. There’s a difference, agreed?

Monday (Halloween!) morning, I did a workout (30 minutes incline walking, random upper body free weights) and went to meet my sister at an Einstein Bagels on campus. I was supposed to start my paper, and ended up writing a paragraph and spending the rest of the time on the blog. Oops.

UT has SO many chains on campus. I can’t believe it! At UConn we just had a few chains in our Student Union, but their University Center has a ton, and this Einstein’s wasn’t even in that building. We had UConn-branded cafes, but they have branded cafes, and I like it better.

The Einstein’s was filled with the smell of toasted asiago bagels. The menu was impressively extensive! I kept it light because I was eating an early lunch, and had one of the best fruit cups I’ve ever bought (usually they’re sucky, but this one had a ton of fresh pineapple and strawberries) and a very good coffee with steamed skim milk.

Later I got to go to my second chain-mission, Chik-fil-a, for my very favorite fast food sandwich: the Char-Grilled Chicken Sandwich. I am OBSESSED with their honey BBQ sauce and pickles. Chik-fil-a is slowly spreading up north and is in Mass now, but still not CT. COME ON UP Chik-fil-a, we are ready for you!

Headed to the airport after that and spent the first flight with my book and a nonfat chai tea misto from Starbucks.

When we landed, we had a couple of hours to kill in between our connection, and I was STARVED. We passed a Chili’s and I knew immediately what I wanted – Mexican food!

My mom got a large Stella and we shared chips and salsa to start. They really hit the spot.

I ordered the chicken fajitas, because this Chili’s was a Chili’s Too and had a limited menu and didn’t offer the shrimp tacos I usually get. Change is good though, I was just a little chickened out (ha) after this meal after having chicken earlier for lunch! This dinner was, by the way, one of my earliest ever (4pm). Takes me back to the days of waiting for the dining halls to open for dinner at 4:15.

I didn’t have any of the tortillas or guac since I had filled up on some chips, but I did pour all the salsa on top of the chicken and veggies, as well as a side of black beans. I polished off that entire thing. Yes I think that made about four servings of chicken that day – ha!

Thank you for following my recaps of my little getaway – I hope you enjoyed!

Are you a Chik-fil-a fan? What about Chili’s? How are you feeling on this Monday?

Tennessee Recap: Part Four

Thanks to daylight savings, my 9pm bedtime last night (aided by me being a grandma, and the glass of wine I had with dinner) combined with the time change had me awake at 5:30am on this lovely Sunday morning. As in, the gym was not even opening until 7am. I looked at my phone and saw 28 degrees – a run was out of the question. So I did the P90X Yoga video I have on my laptop for these very occasions. I hadn’t done this since I was without power/gym access during Hurricane Irene, and though it was tough to get through the 90 minutes (I’m more of a short and sweet workout person), it was really a good thing for me to stop myself from fast forwarding through stretches and through corpse pose at the end. The workout also had a lot of heat in terms of lower body. I really like this video – it’s all-encompassing!

The video also includes one of my favorite poses: standing shoulder pose. I actually used to do this all the time when I was little without even knowing it was a yoga pose, so I guess it’s always been my favorite!

I still have more to share with you guys about my trip to Tennessee – food and shopping, I’ve got it all!

On Sunday I woke up thinking I’d be headed back to CT that day, and ended up having a full Tennessee experience after we found out that due to the snowstorm, we wouldn’t be headed back home for another day. But before that change was made, I put on my sparkly orange hat and went to Starbucks with my sister and my Nana Connie, one of our traditions.

Looking hairless?

I had the usual, a nonfat bold misto. Hannah had the same and sprinkled cinnamon dolce powder on top of hers, looked so cozy!

The coffee came to us so hot that it was time for brunch before we were done, so I kept it classy and poured the rest of my coffee into one of the hotel restaurant’s cute mugs.

I have the spindliest fingers of all time.

I ordered a salad of baby field greens, cocktail shrimp, mango, sundried tomatoes, celery, and balsamic on the side. It was AWESOME. I love being impressed by restaurant salads, it’s always a pleasant surprise. Hannah had a Greek salad with grilled chicken salad and let me finish hers off.

Funny story: The first time I ate cocktail shrimp, I ate the hard tail part too – I didn’t know you had to remove it!

My mom had a veggie egg white omelette with home fries and an English muffin. She gave me the rest of her home fries and they were AMAZING, especially dipped in ketchup.

My dad had a sausage, green pepper, and mushroom omelette with home fries and wheat toast. The toast looked crisp and hearty.

Hannah and I took a walk to her dorm after brunch, where we decided to stay the extra day. I worked on blog stuff in her room while she showered so I brought my backpack along. Don’t I look legit?

We went shopping later and couldn’t help but buy some tasty-smelling candles at Bath & Body Works – they were having a sale AND handing out coupons!

I got these four candles – oatmeal raisin cookie, gingerbread, s’mores, and eggnog – for $20! And it’s a good thing since I headed home to a power-less house the next day.

We stopped at Wal-Mart, and I know they have some questionable corporate practices, but I am impressed by some of their grocery areas. It was clean in there, well-organized, and there was a huge variety. I have to admit that for someone on a budget, Wal-Mart is an affordable grocery option, and even has a fair amount of healthy choices at affordable prices, which I think is something our country is seriously lacking.

I love displays of Halloween treats at grocery stores too. These treats looked so good!

I loved the selection of University of Tennessee by Pink gear at Victoria’s Secret. I really wanted some of that underwear, but couldn’t let myself pay $26 for just three pairs.

I came out of this shopping trip very well stocked. A little too well stocked, I’d say. I’m putting myself on shopping sabbatical until Black Friday.

In addition to the sparkly hat…TN cap, football jersey, and boxers!

Workout gear: Old navy running capris/top, and PINK yoga pants.

Who knew Old Navy sold cute Colts gear? Buy 1, get 1 free!

We went to dinner at one of my favorite chains, Bonefish Grill. Unfortunately they aren’t chain-like enough to extend any farther north than Poughkeepsie, New York (I’ve checked…many times). Whenever we vacation anywhere south of that city, we’ve got to hit up a Bonefish. Our extra night in Tennessee gave us a chance to do just that!

Their bread is beyond amazing. It comes with olive oil, pesto, and herbs for dipping, like Bertucci’s and Carrabba’s, two more wonderful chains. I’m beginning to see a trend here.

I got the swordfish special, with broccoli and steamed veggies on the side instead of potatoes. It was so great. I had every last bite, plus my mom’s leftover fish and Hannah’s leftover broc.

So ends my last full, but not my last delicious, day in Tennessee!

Have you ever heard of Bonefish Grille?  What do you think of Wal-Mart and their grocery sections? What was your last shopping purchase?