Oh Hoppy Day – Mohegan Sun BrewFest Giveaway!

Happy Sunday night! I know, I know. Sunday nights are often not happy for us M-F 9-5ers. This particular Sunday has been a bit hard for me – more to come tomorrow, I’m doing some reflecting still but am anxious to share my thoughts on the weekend with you guys.

Now for a hoppy announcement!

But I’m here to cheer up your Sunday with a giveaway for my readers close to Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT! I love Mohegan’s food and drink events. The Sun WineFest blew my mind earlier this year, and I even got to attend the first ever Mohegan Sun BBQ Fest back in June. Now the casino is launching an annual BrewFest!

The event is this coming weekend, Saturday 10/6 and Sunday 10/7. Three sessions are available to attend – Saturday noon to 4pm and 6-10pm (I’m going to that one), and Sunday noon to 4pm. And get this – tickets to a session are just $20 each! So affordable. This isn’t a dinky event either. Check out Mohegan’s BrewFest webpage for a long list of both drink and food vendors that will be there. The casino is also featuring a hotel package to go with the event.

One of my favorite spots in Mohegan is the beautiful Leffingwell’s Martini Lounge!

Portions of ticket proceeds benefit a great cause too, a cause that I never before considered a need for, but as soon as I heard about it I was on board. Snowball Express helps the children of fallen members of our military. It’s so important to take care of the families of America’s heroes, both living and those who have lost their lives.

Mohegan Sun is offering a giveaway for two passes to a BrewFest session of your choice! One Cait Plus Ate reader will win the passes, so make sure you are free this weekend in case you win! And even if you don’t, it’s only $20 per ticket, so you should totally hit up BrewFest…heck, I’ll be there Saturday night, so come then!

Giveaway ends this Wednesday 10/3 at 12PM EST! To enter, you can do the following – and leave a comment for each:

  1. Check out the list of vendors attending and leave a comment telling me which excites you most! (mandatory)
  2. Follow @MoheganSun on Twitter and comment saying you did.
  3. Follow @CaitPlusAte on Twitter and comment saying you did.
  4. Tweet “I entered the @MoheganSun BrewFest #giveaway from @CaitPlusAte! http://wp.me/p1SfTW-1wT” and comment here with the link to the tweet.
  5. Follow Mohegan Sun on Pinterest and comment saying you did.
  6. Follow Cait Plus Ate on Pinterest and comment saying you did.

So many ways to enter 🙂 good luck!

Rules: No Purchase Necessary. This giveaway is only open to residents of the United States who are 21 years of age or older. The email addresses that are collected for this giveaway will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winner and will never be given out to anyone nor sold. The winners will be randomly chosen and contacted via email. The winner will have 24 hours to respond. Please make sure you check your junk mail folder.

Fashion Friday: Double Take

Time to announce the winner of a free hairdo by Blo West Hartford

The winner is Olivia!!! I will be contacting her to set up receipt of the prize!

Congrats to her and thanks to all who entered, and to Blo and Cuvee for making this giveaway possible!

Thank you for all the well wishes on yesterday’s one-year belated blogiversary reflection! I love having this blog to look back and recognize how much I’ve grown while also remembering all the fun I’ve had in the past year.

Fun with the best dad in the world! Rockin’ those classy plaid shorts for Fashion Friday!

I have to admit that this hasn’t been the best week for me. I’ve been doing a lot of feeling bad about myself. I’m honestly just downright sick of it and I’m trying to keep trucking on – I know I need to be out of my comfort zone to learn the lessons I need to learn to be happy in the long run. But it sure isn’t easy.

Some mornings, eating my banana and beloved PB isn’t easy. Good thing I love the combo so much 🙂

I was cheered up today when I read a post from Lisa about how she is taking the plunge and is going to stay in California on a “sabbatical” for the next year. I am so envious and at the same time inspired! I want to leave Connecticut and live in a place that’s more “me” one day, but there are things I need to do (my MBA, save more money…) before it’s “practical” to do that. I’m a very practical person, but that doesn’t mean I’m always happy about it. Still, seeing someone do what I want to do makes me realize that it is indeed possible. I need to be patient!

At least last night in class when I dated my page as Tuesday, I got to cross it off after realizing it was Thursday, and not the other way around.

I’ve got a fun weekend ahead – but then again, I always do (I’m not trying to be snotty, it just seems to be the case!). Sometimes that’s the problem! The fun activities are fun to me often because they might entail some food…some drinks…and I feel guilty for thinking those things are fun. But that’s me. That’s my passion, along with the people I’ll be spending time with. I need to focus on them!

Will be hanging with my mom for sure on Sunday night for dinner!

And onto Fashion Friday! Let’s do it! I wanted to showcase a couple of skirts I’ve purchased over the summer that I’ve worn a couple of different ways. Maybe it’s the fashionista in me, but I love those features in magazines that show different outfits using the same piece. Sometimes there isn’t much of a difference, but sometimes a new outfit combo can result in a completely different look!

I used the above outfit in a prior Fashion Friday, but this week I wore the H&M skirt and those shoes again, just with a different shirt. This is an example of a different shirt NOT changing a look much…especially since it’s literally the exact same shirt, in a different color. #sorrynotsorry

Went for lime green this time!

I love wearing neutral colors on the bottom and BRIGHT neon on top! I think the two balance each other out well, and I decided to stick with that look.

This photo makes it look like I’m wearing one earring, but the glittery gold dot (Aldo) and the shell (Forever 21) are two different pairs. I refuse to lay down and let it be fall! Bring on skirts, bring on seashells!

Necklace: Mikarose

Top: Armani Exchange

Watch: NYC flea market

Bracelet, Rings: Forever 21

Skirt, Flats: Urban Outfitters (on sale now for $14.99!)

Top: Forever 21

Watch: NYC flea market

Skirt: Urban Outfitters (see above)

Heels: Steve Madden

I think the two outfits featuring the Urban Outfitters skirt definitely give a more different vibe. I love black lace because I feel like it’s a contrast between girly and dark. I think the first outfit is all girly, from the soft colors to the flats.

Also, in my “travels” through the Urban Outfitters sale skirt section I came across these two gems. I WANT.

I don’t even like watermelon, but I want the skirt below!

Which way of wearing each of the two skirts is your favorite?

How do you feel about my latest Urban Outfitters wish list skirts?

Do you find yourself wearing the same pieces in completely different types of outfits?

One-Year Belated Blogiversary!

The giveaway for a free visit to Blo West Hartford ends TODAY in a couple of hours (12PM EST). Be sure to enter AND hit up the last Pink Thursday at Cuvee tonight!

Yesterday I mentioned that I’d missed my one-year blogiversary! Don’t be embarrassed if you didn’t notice my mention of it yesterday…I wouldn’t be surprised, since you were probably too busy drooling over my recipe for a pesto salmon broccoli pizza. WHICH by the way, was posted to the Gorton’s Seafood Blog! What a nice blogiversary present!

I’ll drink to that!

So I guess this will be a belated blogiversary celebration. And I wouldn’t be surprised if my brain subconsciously forgot about my blogiversary on purpose, JUST so I could use the word “belated” in this post’s title and incorporate alliteration.

My girl Meg looooooves alliteration!

My first post on September 21, 2012 asked the question “Why am I here?” (and eww, I hate how Am and Here aren’t capitalized, what was I doing?!). Some things haven’t changed since then! My life still “moves at a million miles a minute”. This photo was featured in the post, and was taken in May 2011:

Greek lamb burger at BGR in DC.

I still raise my eyebrows most time I pose with food, and I’m still a ham. 

Hamming it up with vegan pizza (wait that doesn’t make sense…) earlier this month.

But a lot has changed since September 21, 2011! Maybe listing my top ten favorite posts I’ve done will help you – and me – see how:

  1. I’m Amazing Because…: This is a given. The post brought me so much inspiration through the way it inspired others. I have never felt so loved as I did whenever I read (and still read) feedback. I still keep my list in my purse and I want to start a full #AmazingMe project someday – but it’ll likely have to wait until after I finish my MBA.
  2. Summer with a Side of Guilt: I think this is the first time I really truly opened up here about feeling anxiety and guilt over enjoying life through eating and drinking. I was nervous to do so, but the encouragement I got from this community made me see that it was totally worth it, and encouraged me to keep opening up in the future.
  3. Why I Didn’t Go To Church Today: I wrote this post on Easter Sunday from La Petite France. The bakery’s atmosphere had me feeling cozy and a trip to Bikram that morning had gotten me in a pensive mood. I really enjoyed using this blog as a place to “sort out” my own feelings about religion and also loved the thoughtful comments the post got.
  4. Fitness Magazine Meet and Tweet: Writing this post was just so much fun and memories of meeting some of my favorite bloggers for the first time still make me feel warm and fuzzy 😛 as do the compliments I got on my recap!
  5. Three Generations Dine at Max Fish: I just had such a good time this night with my family. A memorable meal with great company!
  6. Teachings of BlogHer ’12: I loved sharing with you guys the marketing/blogging techniques I nerded out over at this conference, and also what I learned about myself!
  7. Too Blessed to Be Stressed: Talk about fate! A chance encounter that was meant to be shared on this blog…and it gave me one of my new favorite mantras.
  8. Cafes do Brasil Week in NYC: It didn’t seem like as big of a deal to me back then, but I went into the city by myself for the day and just spent it all in a state of pure bliss. I had my first “blogger event” and felt like my blog and what I had to offer truly had value. I also got to try some fantastic food and taste lots of COFFEE!
  9. Pure Food and Wine: One of the most memorable meals of my life, shared with one of the best gifts blogging has brought me!
  10. A Day at Reebok World HQ!: Another unforgettable experience that made me feel like I’d really “made it” as a blogger! And more meeting and hanging out with so many ladies I’d admired for so long.

Myself and tons of amazing bloggers – still can’t believe I’ve been able to hang out with them several times over!

How am I different? I’ve learned to open up and be more OK with appearing vulnerable – with not being perfect. If doing so will get me support I need to make me happier in the long run, it’s the right thing to do. I’ve picked up countless sources of inspiration and tricks for combating mean mental thoughts, and I’ve filed them away – files that are pulled every day. I’ve found that I’m not alone, and that it’s possible to come out on top, but that it won’t be easy. I’ve realized where my true passions lie, and that whatever they are, I will find a way to live them out. I’ve gotten better at putting myself first…#sorrynotsorry. I can recognize when I’m comparing myself to others, and check myself before I let it go too far – most of the time. When it does go too far, I recognize it and come back instead of declaring failure.

I can do anything!

I’ve built relationships with new friends, with restaurants, with brands, with like-minded people interested in the same things as me (I guess that’s a bit redundant). I’ve explored new places, and experienced old places in new ways!

Are you really surprised to see Heather in this post?

I’m #AmazingMe, one year (and six days…) later!

What’s the more important lesson blogging has taught you?

Think back to where you were a year ago today…any surprises now?

Where do you hope to be a year from today?

Gorton’s Seafood Pesto Salmon Broccoli Pizza!

Don’t miss my giveaway for a free visit to Blo West Hartford, in honor of the last Think Pink Thursday at Cuvee. Giveaway ends tomorrow afternoon and the event takes place tomorrow night!

More quick yet tasty dinners have been taking place in the Croswell house thanks to the year’s supply of Gorton’s Seafood that I wonFrom the moment I found out I was the winner of this fabulous prize from BlogHer ’12, I have been dreaming of making the meal in this post. Pizza is my favorite food, and I especially love it with unique toppings! Clam and shrimp pizzas are pretty common on restaurant menus nowadays, but it’s not too often that I see a pie offered with a healthy helping of SALMON!

These two boxes were on sale at the grocery store – just $9 for both!

Gorton’s Seafood Pesto Salmon Broccoli Pizza

Ingredients/Cooking Tools:

  1. 1 box of Gorton’s Seafood Lemon Butter Grilled Salmon
  2. 1 box of Gorton’s Seafood Classic Grilled Salmon
  3. 1 Boboli 100% Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
  4. 2 cups of chopped broccoli
  5. Garlic salt for broccoli (to taste)
  6. EVOO for broccoli (to taste)
  7. 1 cup of diced tomato
  8. 1/4 cup of Buitoni Reduced-Fat Pesto with Basil
  9. Cedar’s Tzatziki Sauce (optional)
  10. 1 ceramic pizza stone (optional, but it’ll make your crust more crispy!)


  1. Add desired amounts of garlic salt and EVOO to chopped broccoli on foil-lined pan. Roast at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
  2. Place pizza stone in oven on a different rack – getting it hot before putting it in the oven with the pizza will aid in a crispy crust!
  3. Prepare salmon per package instructions. Dice up and place in a bowl.
  4. Mix diced tomato into bowl of salmon, add salt/pepper to taste.
  5. Remove stone from oven, place pizza on top, spread pesto onto pizza.
  6. Spread salmon and roasted broccoli atop pesto (I ended up with some leftover salmon and broc on the side to avoid too-heavy slices since it was a thin crust).
  7. Place stone with pizza back in the oven and cook at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (time can vary depending on your oven and how “done” you like your pizza!)
  8. After removing pizza and letting it cool, drizzle tzatziki sauce on top if you wish!

Couldn’t get in fast enough to take a pic!

The pizza was seriously out of this world delicious and the leftover salmon even stayed fresh in the fridge long enough for me to polish it off as a snack five days later! My mom and I finished almost the entire pie between the two of us and the tzatziki was the perfect compliment to the salmon – reminded me of a lox and cream cheese combo! I only wish I’d had some capers to add…next time! And the best part of pizzas is their easy customization. You could add or take away any of the ingredients on this recipe and simply use it as inspiration for future topping combos!

I also liked using one box of plain salmon and one box of lemon-butter, like I did last time my mom and I cooked with Gorton’s products. I’m all about trying as many different varieties of a food as possible! I don’t think I could really taste a difference between the two kinds, though. I am glad the lemon-butter salmon wasn’t too buttery or lemony, because I wouldn’t want anything to take away from the fishy flavor that I adore so much!

You can try Gorton’s products too, and you know that as Coupon Caitlin, I’m always looking to save money and help others do so. That’s why I’m directing you to this coupon on the Gorton’s Seafood website for $1 off any two items!

Has anyone tried any Gorton’s Seafood products since I last posted about them?

What’s your favorite pizza topping combo?

Have you ever tried a seafood pizza?

P.S. Total fail on my part…I didn’t even realized that this past Friday 9/21 was my one year blogiversary! I want to do a more reflective post to celebrate so I will be doing so when I actually have time to sit down and write something more thought-provoking this week…hopefully that’ll be soon. This has been one crazy work week!

Pink Thursday at Cuvee Blo’s Up – Giveaway!

Congratulations to the winners of the Mama Micki’s Vegan Cookie giveaway! I received 136 entries – thank you so much for your interest in these local goodies baked with passion and care right here in New England.

Congratulations Jeanne and Audrey! I will be contacting you to get your shipping information and choice of prize! You also clearly have good taste 🙂

Remember the 3rd Anniversary Party I recently promoted and attended for Cuvee? Well they’re at it again, and this time you can support a good cause AND drink champagne at the same time in this fabulous champagne room in West Hartford’s Blueback Square.

At Cuvee, each Thursday in September has been Think Pink Thursday – wear pink and get a free glass of champagne! As you can probably guess, the pink is more than just a girly twist – it’s been selected because Cuvee has partnered with Susan G. Komen’s Connecticut chapter to support breast cancer awareness. In addition, patrons can purchase a pink champagne flute and bring it back next Thursday 10/4 for a three-hour open champagne bar!

Feasting on apps and champagne with my friend Kelly in one of Cuvee’s cozy, intimate corners!

This Thursday is the last Think Pink Thursday at Cuvee, and it will be an especially can’t-miss evening since Blo West Hartford will be there giving out beauty tips and information about this new Blo location and its services!

In honor of the last Pink Thursday at Cuvee, Blo West Hartford is giving away a free do from the Blo Hair Menu to one lucky Cait Plus Ate reader! Want to enter? There are several ways – but leave a comment for each or they won’t all count! Giveaway is open until 12PM this Thursday, 9/27!

  1. Comment on this post telling me which style on the Blo Hair Menu you’d choose! (mandatory)
  2. Tweet Blo up @CuveeCT for @komenct this Thurs 9/24 & enter the @CaitPlusAte @bloheartsyou #giveaway! http://wp.me/p1SfTW-1vt and comment with the link to your tweet.
  3. Follow @CuveeCT on Twitter and comment saying you did.
  4. Follow @komenct on Twitter and comment saying you did.
  5. Follow @ScarlettOHair_a on Twitter – owner of Blo WeHa – and comment saying you did.

Good luck to all who enter and remember – if you’re in the West Hartford area, THINK PINK this Thursday at Cuvee to support breast cancer awareness!

5K Fashion Friday!

Be sure to enter my giveaway for Mama Micki’s vegan cookies – you have until tomorrow (Saturday 9/22) at 11:59PM EST to enter!

I’m still so relieved to know that I’m not alone in feeling what I shared on Tuesday. I would never be happy that others are experiencing any negative emotions, but it is comforting to know I’m not alone, and I can see that many of you share the same sentiment. I always get paranoid when I open up here but I never end up regretting it because you’re all just so very kind and understanding!

This seems like a fitting time to announce that I recently signed up for the Love Your Body 5K on Saturday, October 20th! The run is being put on by the CT Chapter of the National Organization for Women and will take place at the beautiful West Hartford Reservoir. I highly encourage anyone in the area to sign up and join fellow blogger Maria and I on Team #AmazingMeThere’s no “official” sign-up process to start a team, but if you sign up and want to join us then simply shoot me an email and let me know so that I can keep you in the loop on where we’ll meet up before the race and costumes(YES we are ABSOLUTELY dressing up and suggestions are welcome!)

My dear friend Jenny and I on a hike in the Reservoir!

Registration is just $25 before the race and $30 on race day, so if you’re on the fence you won’t be losing out on too much money by deciding to show up last minute. But you MAY lose out on the advance notice needed to put a costume together 😛 fair warning! Proceeds benefit the CT NOW Foundation and they are still looking for sponsors, so if you are a local business interested in showing support for an empowering movement then you can email them here!

Now let’s get down to it. I know you guys enjoy Fashion Friday and I do too, even if it means I’m slowly revealing the  size of my closet to the public – it’s actually a small closet, but way more full than it should be. Oops. But fashion makes me happy (and so does donating clothes I don’t wear anymore!) so I will keep filling (and periodically emptying) that closet of mine with more material for more Fashion Fridays. After all, there are 52 Fridays in a year!

Disclaimer:I am completely kidding and am in no form promising you all 52 (multiplied by 4-5 outfits per post) unique outfits per year. Now that would be obscene.

Like my work badge?

Top: Urban Outfitters

Necklace: mystery to me

Watch: Fossil

Jeans: American Eagle

Shoes: Toms

Top: H&M

Watch: gift from grandpa

Rings: Forever 21

Pants, Shoes: Urban Outfitters

Bow: Samantha American Girl doll (not a joke)

Earrings: Forever 21

Cardigan: J. Crew

Cami: Hollister

Watch: Michael Kors

Ring: Forever 21

Jeggings: American Eagle

Wedges: Francesca’s

Headband, Earrings, Ring: Forever 21

Top: Urban Outfitters

Watch: NYC flea market

Belt, Jeggings: American Eagle

Shoes: Urban Outfitters

I also just found one of the tops from last week’s Fashion Friday on Urban Outfitters online SALE section!

Which outfit is your favorite?

Got any ideas for costumes for Team #AmazingMe? Remember the Love Your Body 5K takes place just 11 days before Halloween, so the possibilities are truly endless!

Have you ever attended a Love Your Body – themed event?

Mama Micki’s Vegan Cookies Review and Giveaway!

Words can’t describe my appreciation for your supportive comments, emails, and tweets in response to Tuesday’s post. It’s hard to open up like that and I still feel pretty vulnerable, but it seemed like each moment of self-consciousness I had over sharing so much was accompanied by yet another kind message of encouragement rolling into my Twitter feed or inbox. I’m so thankful to have this community and will be responding to you all when I have a chance (it’s been a busy work week).

Oo a package!

In the spring I attended the first-ever CT Veg Fest in Hartford, and had the opportunity to meet tons of passionate vendors looking to spread the word about their food offerings. One of those vendors, Mama Micki’s All-Natural Bakery of Scituate, MA, really stuck out to me for a few reasons. Not only are many of Micki’s baked goods vegan, but they are all made with REAL ingredients – and she even uses only non-GMO soy! Micki’s drive to share her love for all foods whole comes from her own personal experience with the healing power of real food; it has aided her for years in a quest to improve her hearing!

Micki and her “pup”! Source

Yeah yeah yeah – but do they taste good? The answer to that question is a resounding YES! At Veg Fest I had the privilege of sampling three varieties of vegan cookies – Chocolate Orange Walnut, Molasses, and Oatmeal Raisin Sunflower Seed. I was particularly impressed by the first two! In fact, just thinking about that Molasses cookie is making my mouth water right now, due to the autumn-fever that’s been taking over New England the last couple of weeks.

Cute tagline, right? Source

I’ve liked Mama Micki’s on Facebook and followed her on Twitter since Veg Fest, but we recently re-connected on that Facebook page. I proposed doing a review and GIVEAWAY for you all of these wonderful vegan baked goods, and Micki was all over it! She was kind enough to send me three different flavors of cookies to try, and even let me pick them out.

Hello to you, cookies and kind note!

I did ask for the Chocolate Orange Walnut cookies again, just because at Veg Fest I so admired the complexity of their flavor. The orange is the perfect level of subtlety and the real cocoa flavor shines through in each bite. I love being able to bite into something and say, “Oh yeah, I KNOW that’s made with Ingredient X”. The walnut in these cookies is nice and chunky too!

Enjoyed a cookie crumbled into chocolate Jello pudding after dinner – more than one night I might add!

I wanted to also sample a more “plain” variety of cookie to cover all my bases, and the Sugar cookies were right up that alley (notice I didn’t say MY alley – plain is NOT my alley!) I liked these, but since I prefer a more complex flavor, they were my least favorite of the three.

Still those that prefer way less going on in a cookie will enjoy these – that’s what sugar cookies are for, right?! And how FUN it would be to decorate these around the holidays! The coolest part by far, though, are the red sprinkles dusted on top of each cookie. I noticed beet powder on the ingredient list of these guys, and asked Micki about it. Turns out she won’t even use artificial dyes in her kitchen – the beet powder is what turned the sugar red! At that point I TRULY realized how dedicated Mama Micki’s Bakery is to its principals.

Finally, I had to save the Coconut Almond Bliss cookies for last! They seemed to use the same “foundation” as the Chocolate Orange Walnut, only minus orange and plus a hint of coconut flavor! I do wish the coconut had come through a bit more strongly, but I’m a coconut fiend. For others, it may have been just right! Once again I could so clearly taste the fresh cocoa used in these cookies, and really liked that some of the almonds in them were actually whole!

Accompanied by ever-present hydration!

Overall, another favorite characteristic for me of ALL of Micki’s baked goods is their lower sugar content! Eating processed sugars makes me feel sleepy and kinda crappy (not to say they don’t taste wonderful – I try to save them for after dinner so I can drift off into a sugar sleep :-P) and lowering the amount I consume over the last couple of years has made my taste buds really sensitive to them! Probably why I prefer my drinks strong like an old man’s, hmm? A cookie that tastes less sweet and more hearty and whole is the cookie for me, and that’s what Micki is putting out there.

Another combo of choice? A Mama Micki’s cookie crumbled into my beloved plain Chobani!

I was sure to share the wealth with friends. I brought my co-worker a few cookies to give his daughter, who is a vegan. She must have REALLY loved them because she was so grateful that she made me the below beautiful drawing, which totally brightened my day and is still brightening my cubicle!

I also was sure to share some with my ever-present foodie friend Jeff! He is always benefitting off my blog! I asked him his opinion via text.

I did like how the lack of butter made them so easy to crumble into my pudding or yogurt!

So now that you’ve heard from my friends and I how good these cookies are, let’s get to the part you’re most excited for – the giveaway! Micki has generously agreed to give away two bags of her cookies to each of two winners. This giveaway ends Saturday, 9/22/12 (11:59PM EST) and is open to US readers only (excluding Hawaii and Canada).

To enter, you can do the following and leave a comment for each or multiple entries won’t count!

  1. Head over to the list of products on Micki’s website and let me know in a comment which creation you’d want to try most. (mandatory)
  2. Follow @MamaMickis on Twitter and comment saying you did.
  3. Follow @CaitPlusAte on Twitter and comment saying you did.
  4. Tweet “I entered to win #vegan cookies from @mamamickis – thanks @CaitPlusAte! http://wp.me/p1SfTW-1uC” and comment with the link to the tweet.

And if you just can’t wait to see if you win the giveaway, or if you don’t want to take your chances, you can head over to the Mama Micki’s website, shop online, and use the coupon code CaitPlusAte to get 20% off your online purchase until October 20th! 

Thanks Micki for making this review, giveaway, and coupon code possible. Good luck to all who enter! I received samples to review from Mama Micki’s Bakery free of charge, but all reviews and opinions are my own.

Losing a Battle Isn’t Losing the War

Timing can be scarily appropriate – today my guest post on Grow Soul Beautiful is just the kind of post I needed to re-read so that I could internalize my own words and the message I am trying to send my readers – and myself! Please check it out, writing it was so therapeutic to me and I hope that comes across to you all.

OK. Time to tell you about my weekend in Tennessee. I have a lot to get off my chest. But first of all, I’ll start with the good stuff.

Dinner with my family right after I landed (I took a taxi from the airport to the restaurant) at Chesapeake’s, an amazing Knoxville seafood spot.

Rare ahi tuna, sauteed spinach, ginger soy wasabi sauce.

Speedy treadmill run the next morning – thank goodness for hotel gym TVs to occupy me. Ran the first 5K in 27:51!

Felt great after…

Went to go see my sis’s apartment – big fan of this sign in her kitchen!

Her view rocks. That lamp on the right was mine in college!

I love her living room’s orange & blue color scheme!

I so wish I went to a school that was big into football. What energy!

LOL. Sorry Britt!

I suppose I started having trouble with this weekend away to visit my sister at University of Tennessee in Knoxville after I got back from our family dinner on Friday night. I’d had a few drinks, cleaned my plate, had a couple of rolls, and shared a dessert. I did not feel overly full. Heck, I didn’t even really feel that full. But I kept “adding it all up” in my head, and it seemed pretty ridiculous in my mind that I had consumed those calories after sitting on airplanes all afternoon.

Hang the Gators! Note: These were all taken down the next morning…after we’d lost.

My morning workout made me feel happy and accomplished for about…an hour. Then I started thinking about the day’s tailgating festivities. What food would be there? How much would I drink? How much SHOULD I drink? Would I be able to tell how many calories I was consuming since alcohol doesn’t give me any feelings of full-ness? What if drinking made me more apt to overeat? I quickly became mentally EXHAUSTED, and it wasn’t even noon yet.

Me and my mom with an inflatable Smokey Dawg!

I took a walk with my mom to Calhoun’s for something I was so very excited for…a meetup with my twino (twin + wino), MegWe have been blends since I started my blog almost a year ago and when we first “met”, she was in Denver going to grad school. I really never thought we’d get to hang out in person one day. My happiness and the way we seamlessly started chatting like we’d known each other for YEARS certainly temporarily distracted me from my worries.

My dad ordered me that dress last night…SO PUMPED. Isn’t she beautiful?

I met Meg’s welcoming boyfriend, as well as his parents and friends. I just love being with fellow Vols! Something that I don’t get to do often in CT. Everyone was all smiles and so spirited. Random Tennessee Vols chants were breaking out, I was sampling glazed donut vodka (yes it exists and it’s pretty good!), and taking selfies.

Meg’s boyfriend Whitt had a little brother over at the frat houses that he was anxious to meet up with, so I walked with him and Meg as far as I could until it was time for us to part ways so I could head back to my family. I hope I see Meg at another game next fall – or sooner! It’s still surreal to me that we got to hang out!

Orange solo cups, so necessary!

I felt myself come down from a whiskey buzz and an emotional high with each passing minute at my next tailgate. I snacked, and I hung out with my wonderful relatives and friends that I hadn’t seen (in some cases) for years. I could never really let go and enjoy myself though. I was smiling, but inside I was panicking.

I wore Sperrys in honor of meeting Meg!

I was honestly on the verge of bursting into tears the last half hour before it was time to walk over to Neyland Stadium to get to our seats and watch the football game. I was so excited to meet up with the amazing, strong Sloane, who has been such a huge support system for me since we first met a few months ago. Just like my meetup with Meg, I really never thought I’d get to meet Sloane since she lives in TN.

Sister and I – the girls dress so cute on game day!

It was time to go to the game, and I couldn’t take it any longer. Voices in my mind were scolding me for drinking, questioning how much I’d eaten at the tailgate, asking me if my home workout the day before had been enough, and reminding me of eating dessert at Chesapeake’s. I pulled aside my wonderful mother and finally let myself cry behind my mondo sunglasses. I told her I was going to stay in the room, and I just couldn’t do it. She completely understood – everyone did. Even Sloane. I’m so lucky to have such fantastic family and friends.

My adorable parents – I can credit my existence to UT, which is where they met!

The wallowing I partook in and shitty feelings I experienced for the remainder of the evening are not worth commenting on. I don’t want to relive them. I’m glad I had Heather there to leave me an encouraging voicemail, Sloane there to text me, and my mom there to hang out with me in the room (she decided to sell our pair of tickets for a pretty penny).

The next morning my feelings turned from fear of not being good enough to guilt over what I’d missed out on and letting the thoughts and their power over me win. I’ve been doing pretty well this summer with these weekend trips, during which I am often out of my comfort zone. But this time, the whole trip was just too quick (landing at 8PM on Friday and taking off for home at 8AM on Sunday does not make for relaxation) and badly timed (with the way my night classes have started forcing me to do lighter morning workouts instead of post-work hardcore gym sessions). And so I gave in and cowered, too mentally exhausted to fight and tell myself all the reasons why I don’t deserve to be so mean to myself.

And what happened? Well, I didn’t come away from the trip with any proof that I can use to fight disordered thoughts in the future. I love it when I put myself out of my comfort zone and come out of it with everything being OK. It makes for great ammo to use later on in this battle. Nope, I don’t have any of that now.

And I don’t think I can ever say sorry enough times to Sloane for the fact that my giving into my guilt resulted in us not meeting. We were literally less than a mile from each other, and yet I couldn’t walk that less than a mile to the football stadium to see her? Why? My legs were working and my heart was full of excitement and anticipation. Why did this struggle have to be enough to cripple those legs and why did the voice in my mind have to overpower the heart in my chest? Sloane, I am so very sorry that I didn’t fight harder. I’m so sorry that I couldn’t tell myself that I’m amazing and that I deserve to enjoy myself with a close friend who has been there for me since day one.

I have to put this behind me. I have to remember that to consider myself a failure for how I handled this past weekend would only be continuing to let the part of me that messed this up be the winner. I’m amazing. I’m fighting. I’m living this battle. I may be the underdog right now but I KNOW I will come out on top.

Have you ever dealt with regret as a result of how you handled a situation?

Do weekends out of your routine ever throw you? How do you deal with it?

Anyone else feel me on the Southern football love?

Fashion Friday Goes Au Naturale!

No you dirty-minded individuals, au naturale does NOT equate to nudity. You will see what I mean at the end of this post – but don’t scroll down! You’ll miss some cute outfits!

Ready to explore Newport!

I love the back, but it calls for a cami underneath!

Sunglasses: Forever 21

Top: Urban Outfitters (purchased in Baltimore)

Shorts: Hollister (BTW all their color jeans in store/online are $25 right now!)

Watch: Michael Kors

Shoes: Birkenstock (received at the Fitness Meet & Tweet!)

Day 2 of my foodie weekend in RI!

Sunglasses: Forever 21

Bikini: PacSun

Top: Urban Outfitters (another Baltimore find)

Shorts: Hollister

Watch: Michael Kors

Shoes: Birkenstock

Drinks & dinner in Newport!

Earrings: Forever 21

Dress: Urban Outfitters

Watch: Michael Kors

Sandals: Steve Madden

And now for the au naturale

Girls night ready!

Glasses: Dolce & Gabbana (oh you fancy huh?)

“Top”: Corona? (gifted to me on Cinco de Mayo by my fave bartender, Andres!)

Shorts: Charlotte Russe (gems, I tell you)

Shoes: invisible

😛 Thought you might appreciate a silly ending to Fashion Friday because, well, it’s Friday. Who else is gonna get sillay this weekend?!


I’ll be travelling to another state – Tennessee – to get my weekend on! My sister goes to school there and it’s also my parents’ alma mater (they met there!) I visited last fall for a football game and had a blast (my trip was even extended due to the freak Halloween Nor’easter). Football games at a Southern school…there’s NOTHING like it! I never even went to a football game as a UConn student (don’t judge me). I have remained a Tennessee fan despite being a graduate of their arch rival in womens’ basketball!

My outfit today – appropriate for my destination!

I’m so pumped for tailgating fun before the game. I’ve even got some Ripe Bar Juice packed! And a mini bottle of Riesling to sneak into the stadium in my shirt #itsfine plus it’s ESPN College Gameday on campus! We couldn’t have planned this better! I’ll be rooting against Brittany‘s Gators (sorry Britt!) alongside my parents and grandma, and get to FINALLY meet two wonderful blends, Meg and Sloane, beforehand! So yeah, expect lots of tweeting and Instagramming to be happening. And I’ll be on the lookout for scenes from your weekends, too! Enjoy it, everyone!

Which outfit is your favorite?

Are you comfortable with pictures that are taken of you with a more “natural” look? Pretty sure that’s a YES from all my fellow Fitfluential Ambassadors…sweaty #PROOF is nothin’ but natural!

Have you ever been to a college football game?

Farm to Shaker: CT Bartender’s Challenge

You can check out parts one and two of my weekend with Heather visiting in case you missed them!

You may remember when I announced that I had been chosen to serve alongside the founders of Ripe (JD Altobello) and Onyx Moonshine (Adam von Gootkin) as a judge at the first Coventry Regional Farmers’ Market Farm-to-Shaker CT Bartender’s Challenge. There are really too many good things about this opportunity for me to gush about. The moment I was asked to take part in the event, I felt officially recognized as a knowledgeable source of information about my local area – and a source with good taste at that! It really validated all the hard work I’ve put into this blog, and also assured me that I am portraying an accurate version of myself each time I post. I am so enthusiastic and passionate about sampling interesting craft cocktails, and the fact that JD of Ripe knew this after only meeting me once (at Taste of the Nation) means my blog has been speaking the truth to its readers!

I’m also so happy that my parents and Heather were able to be present at an event that was so special to me! And every time I looked over at Heather chatting with my parents, I couldn’t help but smile. I just love seeing people I love getting along #sap. It particularly meant a lot to me that Heather came to the event and stuck it out the entire time, because while cocktails may be my thing and while she and I may get along famously, they certainly aren’t her thing as well and the food being served (by Morton’s!) was mostly not vegan-friendly!

Thanks BB!

Love ya, ‘rents!

I met up with my fellow judges before things got going, and was so happy to find that I’d ALSO be judging alongside a pretty amazing individual I met at the Mohegan Sun Wine FestSignature David, master mixologist! He frequently appears on FOX61 showing off his crazy concoctions.

David’s repping Onyx!

I’ve met Adam of Onyx at several events in the past! It was great to see him again and get to drink so many different cocktails with his wonderful, smooth moonshine.

He mixed up a very special blend for all the guests – Apple Cider Onyx Moonshine! Holy crap this was SO GOOD. And unlimited!

Heather and I were chatting with JD of Ripe and found out that he is a vegan! So when the watermelon, beet, and goat cheese salads over arugula came out, he was able to secure a cheeseless version for himself and Heather.

Vegan power – cheeseless salads! 😛

I also had the chance to work with the event’s emcee, Chion Wolf, of WNPR!I am a total NPR nerd – my addiction began after I graduated from college and started a job with a semi-lengthy commute. Now I listen even when I’m not in the car! In fact, playing NPR’s app on my iPhone and coloring in my bed are two activities that, combined, equal a number-one stress reliever for me. I was so happy to be able to share that with Chion at the event.

You can just tell from looking at her that she’s extremely cool.

And I’m so glad I did, because she was visibly touched to hear that fact and added that she doesn’t often get a chance to meet listeners and even sometimes forgets when in the studio that there are people out there listening. Well Chion, I know that I and many others are listening with great attention!

Sneaky shot – I love her style!

To hear her introducing me as a judge – and reading out loud my blog’s “sidebar” description, felt so epic!


Each competitor from an area CT restaurant would need to use in his/her cocktail the Onyx Moonshine, Ripe juice mix, and two of the many secret ingredients from the day’s farmers’ market that JD had picked out.

Everyone’s favorite ingredients!

The ingredients spread!

Some were pretty typical (strawberries), and some were downright weird(brown cucumbers? tomatoes that looked like plums?)

That orange/tan thing is a cucumber!

Local honey…bitter melon…hot peppers…oh, and apples.

The winner was to receive this shaker trophy!

The competition got rolling so that we could find out who that winner would be! The competitors were listed for the event attendees, who were to submit their favorite drink at the end on a ballot so that we judges could take the Peoples’ Choice vote into consideration.

Competitors from the following restaurants (in order of above list): Morton’s, Max’s Oyster Bar, Zula, Firebox, Pond House Grille. I’ve been to every one!

First up, we had Suzanne of Morton’s (Hartford, CT) mixing up a cocktail of raspberry, peaches, and sugar muddled into a combo of Onyx and Ripe’s Pure-Squeezed Agave Punch. She shook it all up and added a splash of club soda.

I could tell just from the ingredient list that the drink would likely be too sweet for my sugar-sensitive taste buds, and I was right. While my mom enjoyed it (she doesn’t like any kick in her cocktails), I craved something more unique and was disappointed that Suzanne chose two very “normal” secret ingredients – raspberries and peaches. However, I still love that she incorporated muddled fresh fruit into her beverage and the presentation of the full-size version was flawless!

While Suzanne’s away, her drink will stay! 🙂

I totally loved the next cocktail, and that’s not just because it was prepared by Chef Scott Miller, Exec Chef of Max’s Oyster Bar and the maestro that prepared a gorgeous meal for Jeff, me, and many others at the Max Chef to Farm Tomato, Tomato dinner a couple of weeks ago.

Scott mixing it up.

A mason jar was an appropriate choice in which to display the full-size version of Millers’ Muddle Maple Moonshine cocktail, which consisted of maple syrup, Onyx, Ripe’s Agave Lemon Sour, blueberries, lemon, club soda, and a splash of beet juice!

Scott and his creation.

I’ve gotta give Scott props for not sacrificing taste for convenience. He was muddling blueberries into EACH sampler cup for each audience member, instead of muddling them and the syrup together in a big batch and pouring the results into all the cups. That’s dedication!

Syrup waiting to be joined by blueberries in sampler cups.

The drink was pretty incredible. I was worried that the syrup would make the drink too sweet for me again, but the use of a sour Ripe mix balanced out the syrup’s sweetness perfectly. I also like the sour added by the fresh lemon. And of course, the unexpected choice of beet juice as an ingredient totally impressed me. It was meant to add color to the cocktail, but also added a special something in the flavor department.

 Next up we had Albana of Zula, whose current cold inspired her to choose the soothing ingredients honey and cinnamon cloves to her cocktail, as well as fresh lemon! Mixed with the Onyx and Ripe’s Agave Margarita mix, and combined with a very careful presentation, Albana’s cold certainly ended up leading to a great drink.

Another participant who wasn’t going to let hard work get in the way of presenting a pretty drink!

Mmm. Calming and the cinnamon added a hint of autumn! The other judges loved it too. This was gonna be tough…

Albana and her creation! You can’t tell she has a cold!

The judges before taking their first sips of a drink!

I was way excited to see what Samantha of Firebox would have up her sleeve because I once had one of the best Manhattans EVER there! It’s a farm-to-table restaurant and its chefs and bartenders are very used to working with only the most local, fresh ingredients.

Strikin’ a pose!

Though simply presented, Samantha’s beverage tasted great enough to stand out among the competitors! True to Firebox form, she didn’t need many ingredients to make something great – just Onyx, Ripe’s Mojito Mix, and fresh ginger-peach iced tea. I commend her for the way she used her chosen local ingredients!

Finally, Michael of Pond House Grille added a touch of science to his cocktail submission! Pond House uses liquid nitrogen in its restaurant as part of the presentation of some menu items. They view food and drink as works of art – hey, me too!

Michael and his smokin’ drink.

He muddled cilantro, Anaheim peppers, and fresh lemon into Onyx and Ripe’s San Marzano Bloody Mary Mix. Oh, and a splash of liquid nitrogen – NBD.

We judges were fearful of taking our first sips because we didn’t want to get “burned” by the liquid nitrogen’s extremely cold temperature!

Adam illustrates his fear.

Intense discussion.

I ended up enjoying the Bloody Mary and its pepper-y kick. I also appreciated the addition of the lemon juice. However other than the presentation, it wasn’t set apart from other Bloody Marys I’ve had in the past.

Whooooo will win?

The judges huddled outside to deliberate while the crowd submitted its votes for Peoples’ Choice.

A clearly intense conversation.

The crowd inside the beautiful new barn which served as the competition’s location.

Don’t worry, the judges and the members of the crowd were still coherent enough to accurately critique the cocktails, since they’d paired them with food from Morton’s!

The previously mentioned watermelon, beet, goat cheese salads. My mom’s favorite part!

Oh. Em. Gee. Melt-in-your-mouth filets read for assembly onto sliders.

Morton’s Executive Chef himself did the grilling!

My dad practically dive-bombed the filet slider platter!

Chocolate mousse cups – didn’t have a chance to grab one!

After hearing the Peoples’ Choice pick and considering our own opinions, the judges arrived at a decision on the winner. But he was MIA! JD and I knew where he was though, and nabbed a golf cart to go grab him.

It’d been forever since I’d taken a ride in a golf cart!

Our winner was actually across the way cooking up a dinner for over 100 people. Yup, it was Chef Scott Miller, and he was working on the Nathan Hale Homestead Chef to Farm dinner! Luckily we were able to “drag” him back over to the barn to accept his shaker trophy.

Scott and the event sponsors JD and Adam.

A well-deserved win for Chef Miller! And you can re-create his winning cocktail at home using the recipe below – or order it up yourself at Max’s Oyster Bar, because it’s going to be added to the cocktail menu! I hope it’s still served in the mason jar!

Miller’s Muddled Maple Moonshine (thanks Max Restaurant Group for the recipe!)


  • 1 Tbsp Connecticut Maple Syrup
  • 1 oz Native Blueberries
  • ½ Lemon, Squeezed
  • 1.5 oz Onyx Moonshine
  • .5 oz Ripe Agave Lemon Sour
  • .5  oz Club Soda
  • Splash of Beet Juice


  1. Muddle blueberries with maple syrup and freshly-squeezed lemon juice in a pint glass.
  2. Add Onyx Moonshine and Ripe Agave Lemon Sour mix.
  3. Add ice cubes and shake well.
  4. Pour into mason jar, splash with club soda and beet juice.
  5. Garnish with 4 blueberries on a pick and a lemon wedge. Drink up!

The 1st Coventry Farmers’ Market Farm-to-Shaker CT Bartender’s Challenge was a great success, and all in attendance seemed to have an enjoyable time. Adam was even joking that we should call this contest a summer edition so that the wait before the next edition wouldn’t be too long! I’m all in favor – especially if I can judge again!

Thank you to the Coventry Farmers’ Market, Ripe, and Onyx Spirits for involving me in such a unique event. It was right up the Cait Plus Ate alley!

Have you ever been to a cocktail competition?

Which cocktail would you most want to try?

Has your blog ever brought you any exciting local opportunities?