Tag Archives: coffee

Tuesday Treasures: Foodie Edition

I’m so happy that you all enjoyed my recap of the CT NOW Love Your Body 5K! Not only am I proud to have run it in less than 30 minutes, but I am still feeling inspired by the message behind the event. Being surrounded by so many others who share my passion for self love is pretty powerful.

I went to visit Heather a couple of weeks ago (you can read about some of our shenanigans on her blog) and came home with some amazing new memories created with her, her boyfriend Matty, and her best friend Raquel. But I also came home with far less money (lose) and a crapload of foodie treasures (win). Obviously I decided to share said treasures with you today just so I could use alliteration in this post title.

Of course whenever visiting Heather, we make it a point to visit Wildflour, a vegan bakery, cafe, and juice bar, while blogging in bliss. The vegan eats at this place are incredible and if you are ever in the Providence, RI area, I highly recommend passing on any of the restaurants by the mall and making the short drive to Pawtucket, RI to visit Wildflour (and the vegan restaurant next door, Garden Grille). Whenever I go there I leave with $30-$50 worth of goodies to take home and devour (as slowly as I can because I want it to last). This trip was no different. Here’s my haul:

  • a slice of whole wheat cheese-less butternut squash & broccoli flatbread
  • pineapple coconut jerky (YES)
  • raw garlic tomato kale chips (so far I’ve tried this flavor, garlic, and pizza…must try salt & vinegar and nacho still)
  • soba noodles with slaw (bottom left)
  • tofu tuna-style salad topped with carrots, served over greens (bottom right)

I threw MANY of these goodies into my lunch salad beasts and am in fact still working through the soba noodles (my first time having them and they are very interesting but it’s taking me awhile to use them since I’m not a huge noodle person). Pictured above is the entire container of the tofu “tuna” salad, thrown into a bowl and amped up with more greens and veggies. It was incredible!

I dreamed of dipping the pineapple coconut jerky into plain Chobani from the moment I purchased it, and that’s just what I did for a nighttime snack. However I was foolish to think the four pieces of jerky above would be enough with all that Chobani. I ended up polishing off the whole bag on that fine evening 🙂

The flatbread was a great carby option for me this past Saturday when my stomach wasn’t feeling well, and I enjoyed half the kale chips on the way home from Heather’s (great road trip snack) and half at work one day while at my desk typing away.

I’ve tried the Dino Smoothie (almond butter, banana, almond milk, spinach, kale, blueberry) at Wildflour before and though I ADORE it, I wanted to go for something new and had a mean green craving! So this time while blogging there I snacked on the Sillyantro (spinach, kale, parsley, cucumber, OJ, ginger). The ginger was just what my sensitive stomach  needed and the OJ was the perfect hint of fruit to balance out those greens. I wish a juice bar like this existed near me!

I always get a large black slow-pour coffee and vegan scone to keep me company as I blog with Heather, but they didn’t have my usual (spinach and mushroom) that day. No worries, another savory beauty awaited me…the above broccoli cheddar (vegan of course) scone. Holy moly! I always dip my scone in that heavenly coffee and was happy to try a new flavor.

Wildflour was also bustin’ out the free samples that day. I’m not a huge raspberry fan but the above gluten-free razberry cheesecake brownie sample rocked my world. The real star though was a sample of this beauty…

That seems like a steep price but I’d say it’s worth every penny. The above pumpkin cheesecake is made with tofu and Heather promised it’d make me swoon. My BB never breaks a promise!

The two of us also made a fun little trip to Whole Foods, where I happened upon a gem I’ve been anxiously awaiting to try since I first heard about it a month ago…the limited edition Cedar’s PUMPKIN SPICE HUMMUS! I also purchased two squeeze packs of Justin’s Honey and Vanilla Almond Butters – perfect for sampling these new-to-me flavors. Heather also gifted me with a jar of garlic-stuffed olives she had at her house, because she knows olive garlic (haaaaa).

I have been dipping many-a-vegetable into the hummus. So incredible. I love dipping savory food into a slightly-sweet dip. Last night I was even dipping chicken into it.

I was pretty proud of the below epic snack combo that I came up with at work one day last week. I peeled the banana, put vanilla almond butter on each bite, and topped it off a pretzel stick. Legendary! I just finished the vanilla yesterday and next up will be the honey AB.

Finally, Heather, Matty, and I ventured to Trader Joe’s right before I went home so that she could do some grocery shopping and I could shop for things I didn’t need.

  • BBQ Popped Potato Chips – SO MANY CHIPS IN A SERVING #win
  • Nacho Kale Chips – Only $4…the Wildflour bag I got was about $8. Just to give you an idea of how crazy this deal is.
  • Savory Thin Mini Edamame Crackers – These kinda remind me of rice crackers. We’ll see how they are!
  • Balela Middle Eastern Salad – All things Caitlin. Chickpeas, cilantro, tomatoes, black beans, and fabulous flavor. This stuff has made it into all my salads and I’ll be sad when it goes bye-bye.
  • Olive Tapenade – WOW I love olives and this has been great in my salads, on bread, on meat, you name it. Another sad face when this guy goes.
  • Hot & Sweet Mustard – I’ve heard so much about this gem from many favorite bloggers like Katie! I am a mustard fiend and am gonna bust this open when I finish my current jar.

And okay, I was in Massachusetts in the company of TJ’s wine. So much CHEAP wine. In CT, our grocery stores can’t sell wine (we only just got Sunday sales, talk about behind on the times). So I picked up the above three bottles of Charles Shaw (Cabernet, Merlot, Shiraz) for $2.99 each and the Blue Fin 2011 Pinot Noir for $3.99. You may recall that I sampled the Cab recently and was super impressed. Can’t wait to give the Merlot and Shiraz a spin. Also had the Pinot Noir and wow, I sure can see why it was a whole dollar more expensive 😛 GREAT stuff and I don’t even usually like Pinot Noir (too light).

Mother-daughter wine glass sizes 🙂

FINALLY my last Tuesday treasure in foodie land is the below gem from my town’s farmers’ market. I spontaneously stopped by on Saturday after the 5K (notice my Team #AmazingMe tee!) since it’s right by my usual weekend study spot, Daybreak Coffee Roasters. Can you believe this guy was just $3?! He was in a bucket with a bunch of other smaller butternut squash that were the same price. NO brainer, I picked out the biggest squash in the pile! Just to make my girl Lisa proud of me. And apparently it was the last day of the market so good thing I stopped by! Hello fate.

Oh how I love a vegetable that’s bigger than my head.

My mom is away for the week but once she returns, we have big plans for this big squash. I hear that the skin tastes tres gross so does anyone have any tips on easy squash peeling-and-roasting? Who has some recipes I can try? I already know I want to do quesadillas but need more ideas because this is one big squash!

Which of my Wildflour goodies would you like to munch (or sip) on most?

What was your last gem of a find from Whole Foods and/or TJ’s?

Tell me about your most recent farmers’ market purchase!

Fashion Friday: Celebrate Your Style!

I’m hosting a giveaway on the Cait Plus Ate Facebook page – open until today (Friday 10/5) at 3PM EST! New England (excluding Fairfield County, CT) and Albany, NY readers can enter to win one free small cup of Newman’s Own Organics coffee from McDonald’s every week for almost a YEAR! I am not a customer of McDonald’s for their food but I will take a free cup of black coffee any day…hoping some of you will too!

Thank you all for your many congratulations yesterday on my post announcing my appearance in the North Atlantic region holiday issue of Whole Foods Magazine! I’m still pretty blown away and it’s not even because I’m hoping to gain new readership from this. That actually didn’t occur to me until some point yesterday! What I’ve really been focused on is taking this as a sign of recognition that this blog is enjoyable to others, and that’s really my top priority – along with making sure it’s still enjoyable to me!

Still would tweak my description a bit but still beyond grateful!

Another priority is getting self-hosted! I want to be able to get the stats I need from Google Analytics to put together a kick-ass media kit. I’ve been putting off making one because I don’t want to send out something incomplete to brands I want to work with or magazines I’d like to freelance for. I want to show what I am really capable of with a complete media kit. After BlogHer I resolved that I’d get self-hosted within a couple of months and while I unfortunately haven’t met that goal, I have hired someone to help me out and I have a development site up and running on a new host! The next step is getting the layout all set – I’m going to get a new look (I’m even springing for a paid theme *gasp*) and I can’t wait for you all to see what the blog will look like!

In honor of Becki‘s Leaf Your Negativity Behind October challenge, I am going to make today’s Fashion Friday a particularly positive one. I feel like when I see other bloggers’ fashion posts or Instagrams, sometimes I find myself wishing I had the clothes they’re wearing or wondering if I could “pull off” that look. Yes I know there are more important things in this world, but comparison traps are everywhere and even lurk among all those #ootd’s.

That’s why I want to make today’s Fashion Friday about celebrating your style. So this post is not going to tell you where each outfit is from, like it usually does. Instead it’s going to tell you why I chose to share that look and what it says about MY sense of style, and no one else’s. I’m encouraging everyone else to do the same today, whether in a post, tweet, FB post, whatever! “Leaf” negativity and comparison traps behind. Celebrate your own sense of style and your look!

Before the HLS ’12 Chobani dinner!

To me this outfit goes back to my days as a little girl who LOVED wearing dresses. I still love wearing dresses but living in New England, most of the year I’m too cold to do so. But my favorite thing to wear will always be a dress like this – floral, flowy, something I just want to spin in circles in!

I feel like my sense of style revolves around a “theme” each day. I think I sometimes confuse my co-workers because I’ll go totally casual one day, then the next day show up in a fancy dress. I try to tie everything together with accessories so my shoes make sense with my shirt, my bracelets make sense with a dress, etc. The above outfit is very tropical-vacation! Makes me think of what I might wear when I go visit my grandparents in FL this December 😀 #grandma

The above outfit is SO me. I adore bright, delicate florals. I almost always “cuff” my jeans or jeggings when I wear them. And I love bright, fun flats! Oh, and a messy bun is ALWAYS easier than…anything.

Oops, here I am wearing jeggings with no cuffs 😛 but there’s the bright, fun flats – my beloved fruit flats! I definitely think they say a lot about my sense of style – I like to pop in little “quirks”. I wouldn’t exactly wear a dress covered in a fruit print (though I did express desire for a watermelon skirt in last week’s Fashion Friday…) but shoes covered in fruit? They’re like the cherry on top – or in this case, on the bottom, and fruit other than cherries. I also wear a lot of lace, and I like how the bright neon of this top is again very me! I shy away from neutral colors because they “bore” me. I want to excite myself and those around me with what I’m wearing! It makes me feel good and that is what fashion is all about.

So don’t be afraid to celebrate you today. Celebrate your style – it is YOURS and no one else’s. Don’t compare your clothes, your accessories – your ANYTHING – to anyone else. There are more important things in life than fashion, yes, but if you are able to truly celebrate anything about yourself, even just how you rock a new top, then that’s an amazing thing! It takes a lot of hard work to truly celebrate yourself! So “leaf” negativity behind and accept that you are amazing 🙂

Tell me what your favorite part of YOUR style is in the comments, on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! Use the hashtags #AmazingMe, #FashionFriday, and/or #LeafNegativityBehind!

Weekend With My BB – Part Two

I’d like to take a moment to remember those who lost their lives and all those affected by 9/11. I cannot believe it’s been 11 years since that day in 7th grade when I came home from school to see the TV in my house displaying the day’s horrifying images. May we never forget!

Note: If you missed part one of my weekend with Heather visiting, you can check it out here!

I just love taking people places that are special to me. There’s nothing better. I’ve been wanting to bring Heather to Rooftop 120 for awhile now. It’s an all-seasons rooftop bar in my town (the all-seasons part is made possible by sliding glass doors that turn the rooftop from an outdoor bar to indoor in moments). They serve up unique food and drinks in a classy atmosphere. When I’m there, I don’t feel like I’m in Connecticut. I feel as if I’m in NYC or Vegas! I also have a favorite bartender there, Andres, who always treats me, any friends I bring in, and also my parents when they visit the bar (whether I’m there or not) SO well. I could go on forever – and hope to do a Rooftop 120 post one day that shares ALL the food and drink I’ve tried there. I did a post previously, but there’s so much MORE I’ve experienced since then that needs to be seen! For now I’ll just have to stick with sharing my night there with Heather. We had an incredible time!

Before we left.

My outfit was not very classy rooftop bar, but I was also super comfortable and it felt gross outside (humid, rain, etc). So I rocked the hippie shorts/tee, messy boho braid, and Birkenstocks on the rooftop. #sorrynotsorry

After being attacked with bobby pins by Heather 😛

I was thrilled to see Andres and we parked ourselves in seats at his side of the bar! I asked him if he had any interesting hard liquor to throw my way and boy did he ever.

Stoli Hot – ole!

I was a bit wary at first of the above Stoli Hot Jalapeno Vodka, especially since I am still getting accustomed to spicy food. Heather couldn’t even believe that I’d try it. But Andres fixed me a nice sample in a shot glass lined with sugar! The beverage itself had the vodka mixed with lime and white cran. I actually enjoyed it, and ordered up a full size – but asked for less white cran, more vodka, and extra salt!

Fill ‘er up!

And Andres already has dreamed up another concoction for me to try next time…jalapeno vodka mixed with CUCUMBER vodka, with an extra salty rim, and some other stuff I unfortunately can’t remember right now. Whatever, it’ll happen.

Heather ordered up her fave, Pinot Grigio, which was served in Rooftop’s standard wine glass size – As Big As Your Head.

You can see another example of this here.

One drink each is all it takes for these girls. We sipped and savored slowly. By the end of the evening, lots of giggles were coming from our general area.

And lots of mooooaaaans over our amazing food! I wouldn’t have brought Heather to a restaurant that had no vegan options, and we feasted on roasted Brussels sprouts prepared with miso olive oil (instead of butter – Rooftop was very accommodating)  as well as a veggie platter with hummus and baba ganoush. 

Being the seafood lover that I am, I had to also order some tilapia ceviche. Complete with extra plantain chips on the side for us to share!

Incredible!

Our plan to get a good photo by Rooftop 120’s gorgeous multi-colored glass bottle wall didn’t quite pan out, but the effects were still pretty cool!

We headed home to do the obvious – watch more of “The Hills!” Then we both hit the hay at our nice bedtimes of 11PM-ish.

Love you!

I awoke on Sunday itching for a cardio and weight lifting lovefest! Heather was doing good to her bod pod (her trademark saying) and completed some stretching while I went to the gym and knocked out 35 minutes of spin and 25 minutes of abs and ARM DAY. I love lifting arms!

Wearing a matchy-matchy Reebok outfit. Obviously.

I got cleaned up after my sweaty workout and Heather and I went to – where else? – Daybreak to blog and try out more French pressed coffee flavors!

Mocha Butter Crunch for her.

Toasted Butternut for me!

Once we were caffeinated, blogged out, and fed our lunches, it was time to hit the road for the destination we experienced together on one of her last visits…the Coventry Farmers’ Market! I was ready to judge their Farm to Shaker Cocktail Competition after the market’s closing, but we were sure to get there before that so that we could spend lots of money. DUH.

Just a scarecrow in shades and a pumpkin bumpkin. That bushel of apples has a KNEE in it!

Heather and I made a beeline for one of our favorite CT vendors, Yummy Hummy! These folks were kind enough to not only set aside our desired unique hummus flavors for us to ensure that we would be able to purchase them before they sold out, but they also were offering $1 off Heather’s choice, Curry hummus, for their Facebook fans. It was our lucky day too since my frequency card with them filled up, so we got one hummus free!

LOVE the label 😀

I opted for Pretty Beet and Honey Garlic hummus varieties. I can’t wait to sample them! I also decided to get a tub of Peach Basil Salsa, made with all CT ingredients. At $7 for the tub it was pretty pricey, but I’ve purchased other fruit salsas from Yummy Hummy before (strawberry and blueberry) and have NEVER been disappointed. Pleased to report that the case still holds! I had some of this with my dinner last night and it rocked my world!

After hearing Heather hadn’t tried their plain Pico de Gallo yet, she was gifted with a free sample to bring home. So very kind of Lexy and Ian, Yummy Hummy’s founders, to take good care of their return customers!

And I even started a new frequency card when I bought my salsa, so obviously I’ll be back soon.

Thank you Yummy Hummy!

We also visited Shayna B’s and The Pickle, a local bakery of wheat/gluten-free vegan goodies! Last time Heather and I were both overwhelmed by the owner’s kindness when we met her at her booth. Heather was missing just a bit of cash to pay for a container of delectable Wendy Bites, and she was allowed to purchase them for what money she had on her!

Well, Shayna B’s astounded us again. First, they sold Heather the above coconut apple tart. The ingredient list was incredible, and just check out her reaction upon first bite.

Tartgasm.

That’s genuine, folks.

Just too good…

After seeing us admire the two pear ginger scones remaining, the staff of Shayna B’s offered to let us take them home for FREE! I just know it was because they could feel our enthusiasm and appreciation for the simple, pure baked goods they put out every single day. It’s great to share a passion with someone you’ve only just met, and know that they clearly acknowledge and are grateful for it! Can’t wait to tell you all how the scone is. I’m saving it for a special evening snack…or maybe two evening snacks to make it last longer. I have a feeling plain Chobani may be involved.

Dammit goat, stop eating.

And what’s a Coventry Farmers’ Market visit without photos of me being awkward with animals…and children?!

Thumbs up, it’s a goat!

Staring down this child. Back off my goat.

I also purchased three jarred items from Christine’s Country Kitchen, another favorite local vendor of mine, as they were finishing packing up. HUGE thanks to them for putting up with my annoying lateness and still selling me some full sour pickles, jalapeno mustard, and sugar-free (sweetened with STEVIA!) beets! Unfortunately half of the beets and their jar did not survive the car ride home, and I drove to work yesterday morning sniffing beet smell the whole time, but that’s the life of a local foodie!

The day was FAR from over, but my judging of the Farm to Shaker cocktail competition deserves a post all its own, and that’s what it’ll get. So I’ll leave you guys in suspense for now.

Do you have a special local restaurant where you are known and treated well by the staff as a “regular”?

What are your favorite items to pick up at the farmers’ market?

What’s the coolest hummus flavor you’ve ever encountered?

Weekend With My BB – Part One

Thanks to all who entered my giveaway for two Anchor Bay fitness DVDs – I received 193 entries! The two winners are…

Laurel and Angela!

Congrats, ladies! I will be contacting you for your shipping information. Can’t wait to hear what you think of the DVDs! And now, onto today’s weekend recap (part one!)…

During Friday’s drive from work to the gym, I was itching with excitement. Yes, I felt pumped to get to the gym after taking a semi-active rest day the day before. But I felt MORE pumped for what would be arriving in Glastonbury after my gym trip – Heather, my best blend!

Cheers!

My BB drove from MA to CT to stay for the weekend. We both absolutely craved the same things Friday night – wine, salad, and pajamas. Consider it done!

My mom captured the bloggers at work!

I purchased a bottle of Pinot Grigio for the perfect price of $7! I’d sampled this Pinot, from Lulu B Wines, at the Yelp Helps! event in Hartford recently. It was definitely Instagram-worthy, as you can see above, and also tastebud worthy! I find that white wines are way easier to “do cheap” than reds!

Using glasses from Chamard Vineyards!

Heather and I like to buy each other little gifts when we see things that remind us of each other (you can vomit now), and we weren’t even surprised when we pulled out bags from the same store (our little piece of heaven, Urban Outfitters) when it came time to exchange presents.

Who’da thunk it?!

I love giving people presents. I’ve been known to find someone the PERFECT birthday gift, and buy it, regardless of whether the birthday is a week or almost a year away! Hanging onto the gift becomes difficult. I only got Heather’s gift last weekend, but have been so anxious to give it to her since!

And for good reason! I knew this would be Heather’s face when she opened her present – a large photo book containing a history of the Beatles through FASHION! I don’t know much about the Beatles (don’t judge me) but I do know she loves them, and loves the fashion of the 60s (and beyond). Also, the book was $2 .Yup. Purchasing it for her was kinda a no-brainer.

Wet hair, don’t care.

The notebook on the right literally lists the benefits of drinking coffee – as if I needed any convincing to consume it daily – and is so perfect for grad school. Especially since I just started back this past Thursday! I love the contrasting stripe and polka dot patterns of the notebook on the left. They’re sure to get my creative juices flowing, which is appropriate since Heather purchased the notebook for the specific purpose of my continued journey with #AmazingMe. Um, #AmazingHeather! I’m so touched by her constant support.

The pan in the center has curried sweet potatoes from Whole Foods (plus ketchup) that we made extra crispy in the oven. Le duh.

We’d planned to add re-runs of “The Hills” to our salad-and-wine soiree, but they were not available on MTV.com. Never fear! We were better off moving ourselves and all our “gear” down to my basement to use Netflix. Five or six episodes later, we were in major #jadorelavie mode.

I also need to give Lauren Conrad props for having the BEST bitch faces ever.

I awoke with an annoying stab-my-eyes out headache, but I wasn’t too concerned. Heather and I had plans to visit the local Bikram Yoga studio. I had 9 classes from a Groupon to use and she’s a big fan, so we thought it was an appropriate Saturday morning BB workout. And a workout it was! Not only did I feel physically challenged, but also mentally. I noticed that whenever my mind started to wander, my balance did too! My desire to hold poses longer and more correctly drove me to bring my mind back to the present. The practice felt hardest to me during all the transitions to and from savasana, as strange as that sounds. The switching between lying on my back and whatever mat pose was next really got the blood flowing to and from my head, which made me feel light-headed and set my heart to a racing pace at times. That might sound scary, but I still felt in control of my body – just challenged as well. I felt like my heart and lungs were fighting to get stronger! I always discover something physically and mentally new about myself when I practice yoga, particularly a style as extreme as Bikram.

The post-Bikram glow – and HLS headband!

After showering and packing a snack bag (priorities, people), we went to our special Glastonbury spot – Daybreak Coffee Roasters. Every time Heather visits Glastonbury, our time together is not complete without a blogging session at Daybreak, just as my visits to her are not complete without a Wildflour trip (which must include a scone).

Of course my standard cottage cheese and fruit snack was on stand-by!

We ordered Pumpkin Spice (Heather) and Southern Pecan (me) French press coffees. In mugs, for ultimate coziness.

All set up with her protein oats!

We both were super productive thanks to our fresh fuel and cups of joe! And super zen thanks to the morning’s yoga and the peaceful atmosphere of Daybreak.

Thanks for the labels, Daybreak!

Afterwards, we went to Sonoma Wines & Spirits, my favorite package store ever, to help my mom pick out some craft beers. Sonoma has a great selection of singles of unique beers from smaller brands, and customers can build their own six pack AND get 10% off! Later in the day, I joined my mom in sampling some of the Dogfish Head Burton Baton and Sierra Nevada Hoptimum. We both agreed the Hoptimum was the winner!

Beer in a Coca-Cola glass, classic.

Perfect for Tennessee football viewing!

We obviously had to do a photoshoot outside of Sonoma. Because that’s what bloggers do.

Sonoma – and Heather’s fishtail braid skills – rock!

We had another Whole Foods experience for our late lunch, but managed to spend a bit less money this time.

Heather’s awe of how “cute” my town is totally made me realize that I sometimes take it for granted. I DEFINITELY used to in high school. I’m glad that since moving back home, I’ve learned about the treasures my town has to offer. One of the cute gift shops we visited, Emmy Lou’s, also happened to be home to Heather’s favorite type of dog, a corgi.

Awkward…

This particular corgi was named Tasha, and she was literally camera shy – as in, afraid of cameras! Opposite of a blogger. A hilarious attempt to get a photo of Heather and Tasha together ensued.

Corgi fail!

Corgi isn’t having this shit.

Seeing Heather laugh that hard was pretty awesome.

Tasha is over it.

Thanks to the shop/corgi owner, we got a good photo!

After our Glastonbury adventures were done, we went back to my house and I watched the football game with my mom (and my beer) while Heather read her book. Seeing my friends read makes me so happy, since I’m such a bookworm! We took some time to read each other favorite passages, both of her book and my latest (which I plan to do a post on soon). After more episodes of “The Hills” (can’t stop, won’t stop), we set off for dinner. To be continued…

You can read Heather’s take on our first adventures here 🙂 and more to come from me!

Cheap wines, red and/or white…do you buy/drink them?

Which old show could you watch endless re-runs of?

Have you ever tried Bikram yoga?

Foodies Take RI – Part Two

If you missed part one of my RI foodie trip, which consists entirely of time spent in Newport, you can check it out here! I took this trip 8/10-8/12 and, true to Caitlin form, and just now getting around to recapping it. I hope you all had a good Labor Day weekend!

Sunday:

I awoke and was shocked to find that Jeff and I had slept TEN HOURS! AKA I’d slept til 8AM – which felt strange, yet appropriate, since the day before I’d slept until only 6:30AM. I felt full of energy and had the desire to expend some of that on a quick run. I didn’t feel like I had to run – I wanted to! So I laced up my Reebok ZigNano Fly 2 sneakers and headed out on a 26 minute jog. It got kinda ruined by side stitches at the end, and I was going for 30 minutes, but I decided I was done and headed back to the room. I don’t even know how far I went, but a spontaneous run of a random length and unknown distance was just what I needed to start my day on a chill, stress-free note.

FINALLY!!!

Any Carrots n Cake readers will recognize the place I am posing in front of in the photo above – a Mary Lou’s Iced Coffee!!! I spotted one in, of all places, a Shell station near our hotel. And Tina isn’t lying when she says this place has the best iced coffee ever. THEY DO! The flavor doesn’t come from syrups, but right from the bean! I had to get a photo in front of the counter!

Jeff got Banana Nut Creme, and I got Hawaiian Chocolate Nut – we both asked for our iced coffee to be served black, of course! Jeff’s flavor was the winner, but mine, with its coconut-chocolate flavor combo, still was heaven on ice. We drove into Newport’s town center to enjoy our beverages.

Jeff had no sunglasses and was having squinting issues, so I lent him a hand. Or a pair of sunglasses.

It was so nice to once again spend our morning chatting, caffeinating, and looking at the water! The people watching scene in Newport is great too – I could just sit for hours and be content. Not easy for me to say, since I am so often in go-go-go mode.

Third time the place remains a charm!

Of course we got hungry for breakfast soon and after much unsuccessful searching for a brunch spot, ended up back at Diego’s. Fine by us!

Haitian Swizzle – Jalapeno-Infused Haitian Rum Barbacourt, Velvet Falernum, Tiki Bitters, Fresh Lime

We also continued our drinks-before-noon trend. #sorrynotsorry How could I pass up a drink off this gem of a cocktail menu?!

The Beano – Bloody Mary with Black Bean Puree!

Jeff certainly went for a special beverage that I wish I’d ordered! By far the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever tasted – and I don’t usually like Bloodies!

Diego’s Huevos – White Corn Tortillas, Black Beans, 2 Sunny-Side Eggs, Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa, Ripe Avocado, Diced Veg, Baja Aioli

I made a stellar brunch choice, if I do say so myself! Not only was the above dish filled with all of my favorite things – runny eggs, black beans, avocado, salsa, aioli, veggies, carbs… 😉 – but it was ordered off the $5 portion of the menu!

These kinds of pics are becoming a Cait Plus Ate standard.

After our amazing brunch, we said a final goodbye to Diego’s (no we, didn’t go back a fourth time) and did some more Newport exploring!

Ohhhh lover, lover…

What is up with this giant T-shirted bear?

SAD!

Clearly he’s less experienced with goofy pics.

These sea creatures have human legs!

I knew I wanted to visit another Tina recommendation, The Lawn at Castle Hill. The Castle Hill Inn is a beautiful hotel tucked away from the busy center of Newport. To get there, one has to drive (or bike!) through rural, scenic roads – but it’s worth the slightly out-of-the-way trip. And guess who I got to experience it with?!

That’s the Castle Hill Inn in the background!

My CT blend (and practically neighbor) Bethany, of More Fruit Please, was visiting Newport with her now-fiance, Farhan. Thankfully, the fates aligned and Jeff and I were able to meet up with them for our visit to the Lawn! Bethany and I have been trying to get together since we went to the CT Veg Fest and Wesleyan Foodstock together, and it was such a treat to not only do so, but to do so in such a gorgeous setting!

The Lawn at Castle Hill’s cute Adirondack chairs – and their breathtaking view – are open to the public. Of course, classy and refreshing cocktails are available!

Cucumber Collins – New Amsterdam Gin, Cuke Puree, Lemon Juice, Seltzer Water

I could actually see the cucumber seeds floating about in the puree at the bottom of my drink. It didn’t taste as strong as I usually like, but was perfectly refreshing for such a warm day and I appreciated its simplicity.

Jeff’s choice, the Rum Swizzle (I think), was definitely sweeter.

Of course Bethany and I put our blogging hats on, and were taking photos with our iPhones and cameras!

Caught mid-tweet, I’m sure.

I’m sure Bethany’s big, fancy cam got some amazing shots!

I’m so very happy that I got to see Bethany and Farhan again, as well as introduce them to Jeff!

After dropping the two of them near their car, Jeff and I headed to Narragansett for the destination that started our plans for the entire weekend – Crazy Burger! A reader, Tom, had recommended the vegan hotspot for me on my blog’s Facebook page, and one look at the menu told me this place was meant to be visited by me. Funny enough, after Jeff and I had planned out our weekend, Heather even blogged about Crazy Burger, adding to the torture of waiting so long to finally try the place!

Jeff and I took a quick walk by the Narragansett shore, but we were disappointed when we didn’t find many – or shall I say any – little shops to visit! Oh well…I was hungry for dinner already, so we decided to go ahead and get Crazy.

Instagramming like a fiend.

Obsessed with the back of that Urban Outfitters shirt. Got it on sale in Baltimore.

As Jeff and I walked into Crazy Burger’s outdoor seating area, I literally gasped.

Could I have asked for a more serene place to conclude my weekend of trying to BE a serene foodie? I don’t think so.

The mis-matched cloth napkins were a cute touch.

We brought a bottle of red wine I’d gotten from a lovely Groupon deal from Radford Dale – AKA “The Winery of Good Hope” 🙂

Impossible decisions…

Even after beginning to sip on my glass of red, I still wasn’t feeling any less anxiety over making the impossible decision of what to order for dinner! I went back and forth between MANY options, and finally decided on a vegan burger with a curry flair, because I have been LOVING curry lately.

Chana Masala: Celery, tomato, mushroom, onion, ginger, chickpeas slowly stewed in curry, garam masala, allspice, then bound in rice. Served on grilled naan!

I cannot tell you how wonderful my Chana Masala sandwich, housemade pickles, and slaw were. So I’ll show you.

Lucky for me, Jeff isn’t a ketchup fan, so I stole his homemade ketchup to add to my burger! He actually chose a vegan burger that I’d been contemplating getting.

Birdie Mae: Grilled tempeh, purple sticky rice, sweet tater, roasted sunflower seeds, rosemary-pumpkin pesto grilled in a tomato tortilla.

The Birdie Mae was certainly an option I know I would have enjoyed if I’d ordered it – Jeff let me have a bite, and also some of his sweet potato fries. They were super yummy – but no ION 😉

After having no dessert Friday OR Saturday night, when I really kind of wanted it, I was not about to let this chance to not only have dessert, but have VEGAN dessert paired with red wine, pass me by. Dessert and red wine is my favorite food and wine pairing ever.

Wine…

It was kind of a no-brainer. I love carrot cake. So when I saw a vegan version on the menu, I had to have a taste!

…and dessert.

I was sure to not let a bite pass my lips without the company of a sip of red wine. Jeff and I shared the slice above and it was pure bliss. I finished the meal and felt perfectly satisfied…so glad I’d had room for dessert!

However, though I did revel in my eats, sips, and time with my friends as they happened on Sunday, I had trouble reveling after the fact. Almost the entire way home, my mind was consumed with thoughts that started with, “You shouldn’t have.” How could I have had several drinks each day for the last few days? How could I have topped it off with a dessert? I shouldn’t have done such a SHORT run that day. I shouldn’t have skipped working out the day before. In the last ten minutes of the ride home, I really felt like I was on the verge of tears.

The floodgates opened the second I walked through my front door. I know I’m 23 and I should be hating the fact that I still live at home, but I really don’t. And one of the many reasons I don’t is because when I come home and I’m stressed and scared and I need my mom – she’s usually right there for me. I let it all out to her, I just shared with her exactly why I felt guilty and like I’d done a whole lot of things I shouldn’t have done.

And then I followed that up with exactly why those things are OK, and how proud of myself I was (and still am) for experiencing Newport the way it’s meant to be experienced, and for having that fabulous meal at Crazy Burger, and for recognizing that a weekend away is just that – a weekend AWAY – and you always come BACK to your routine. The fact that I planned this trip in the first place was huge because I knew these thoughts would “attack” me and intrude at some point, but I was ready for it. I was ready to fight and to say, fuck this, I’m not going to let fear hold me back from going to one of my favorite places in the world!

Complete with my Max Fish Tiki Dinner lei 🙂

So I hung up those little wooden flip-flops my parents bought me on Saturday night at one of my favorite Newport shops, Frazzleberries, outside my cubicle at work. And every time I walk by them, even now almost a month later, I’m reminded of my courage and of my fun experience, and I can smile knowing that I have no regrets about missing out.

Have you ever felt guilty for taking a break from your normal, “safe” routine?

Have you ever been to a vegan cafe like Crazy Burger?

Foodies Take RI – Part One

Another better-late-than-never recap of one of the weekend trips I took this summer to one of my favorite places in the country – Newport, RI – as well as Narragansett, RI! As usual I’m Wordy Wendy and this will be long so I am splitting it into two posts!

Outdoor seating area of the Barking Crab at night.

The second weekend in August, my always fun and always ready to chow/drink foodie friend Jeff and I hit the road for Newport, RI. My mission? To let go and enjoy myself in one of my favorite places ever – and show him the magic of Newport! My family has been going to Newport once a year for as long as we have lived in CT, and when we didn’t make plans to go this year, I took matters into my own hands and planned this trip. I’d never been to Newport as a super-adventurous foodie blogger either, so I was ready to eat and drink what I wanted to as part of my mini-vacation, and get away from the guilt.

No room for guilt with this view!

Friday:

The trip started out on a stressful note for me because my town was hit with a REALLY bad thunderstorm right when we were scheduled to depart, so not only were we delayed, but we encountered tons of down trees on the way to the highway. That drive from my house took two or three times as long as it usually does, but once we got on the highway it was smooth sailing and we didn’t even hit any more traffic. I think fate was throwing me a challenge to see how I’d handle stress on the trip, and while I kiiiinda failed, I think it all turned out OK in the end.

If only we could have sat outside! The restaurant’s outdoor seating area wasn’t open up due to the rain.

We scored free parking outside my first restaurant pick, Perro Salado. If you’ve ever been to Newport before, you know this free parking thing is a huge deal. I couldn’t stop talking about how amazing it was, but Jeff just didn’t get it. So I reveled in my savings solo.

Finally made it – and in possession of beverages!

I started with a spicy cucumber margarita!

I was starved when we sat down, and when I found out they didn’t bring out chips and salsa unless they were asked (and paid) for, I made the decision to, well, ask and pay for them. It was hard to let myself be OK with going for it and ordering the chips, but I did it, and enjoyed every bite of the spicy red salsa and mild, slightly sweet and thick tomatillo salsa they came with. The latter was some of the best I’ve ever had. I was happy when Jeff gave me props for ordering the chips because I wanted them!

The entrees were so AMAZING! Jeff had the agave & chipotle-glazed pork belly with pinto beans and pickled veggies. I tried a bit and I can seriously tell you that the pork belly melted the moment it hit my tongue.

When I saw the rare yellowfin tuna special, I knew it would be the best choice for me. I love rare tuna, but when it’s on special, you KNOW it’s at its freshest! On the side I had some fantastic local farmers’ market veggies and black bean/corn salsa.

Plate bigger than my head FTW.

We were too full for dessert, and I have to admit that later on in the evening I was craving one, but I just couldn’t let myself do it. I felt like I was going to be indulging all weekend and that I should give myself a “safety padding” of no dessert that night. I know…it sounds silly right now as I type it. In fact later that evening as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, I kept thinking about the regret I felt over not enjoying a Newport ice cream cone, and was kicking myself. I tried to take that regret to heart and use the desire to avoid it as motivation to enjoy myself for the rest of the trip.

Fashionistas!

And Jeff and I did have so much fun walking around the center of town after dinner! The rain had long since passed, it was a warm summer evening, and I babbled on and on about my favorite Newport spots, pointing out one place after another.

What is this head on a stick? What is this pirate thing?

Turns out that walking through little shops and boutiques is way fun when you’ve got a little marg buzz on 😛

New skirt – or is it a purse?

You fancy huh?

Bring in the dancin’ lobstas.

This cracked me up to no end.

Long live Lennon.

Jeff was a history major, hence me making him pose like this in front of this sign.

And we were sure to get a photo in front of a classic Newport landmark, the feet-disappearing-into-the-wave statue!

Saturday:

Our hotel of choice (due to being cheap) was a gem called the Pineapple Inn. Yes, the name is covered in cheese. But we embraced our motel accommodations, complete with shower drain that didn’t really work and the most strange shower faucet of all time, with smiles and silly Hawaiian shirt photos.

Jeff used to wear Hawaiian shirts like it was his job, so I asked him to bring some of his best.

The sign’s letters are even falling off…it’s too perfect.

But to be fair, the AC worked well, my bed was comfortable, and there was shampoo (though not conditioner) provided. All we wanted was a place to sleep, and that’s what we got. The price was right!

Coffee Grinder at Bowen’s Wharf

You know I scouted out a cute cafe for our morning Newport coffee!!!

Yes, those signs were on each outdoor table!

Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be able to sit at this cafe every morning and drink my coffee while looking out at the ocean.

Love how they served Jeff’s iced coffee in a glass.

We sat in comfortable silence while admiring the water, chatted with some silly kids who for some reason thought we were really interesting, and just soaked in the Newport atmosphere.

Coffee Grinder is located in one of my favorite area’s of Newport’s center, Bannister’s Wharf.

Our stomachs started to rumble and we set off in search of a yummy brunch, and didn’t have to look far.

Outside of Diego’s, which serves breakfast every Saturday/Sunday starting at 10AM.

Diego’s wasn’t on my pre-prepared Newport dining list that I’d made, with the help of Yelp. However, it had everything I look for in a restaurant! Outdoor seating…

Creative decor…

Ceiling of the bar!

Affordable prices…

…and of course, a killer cocktail menu.

My kind of place! Check out the “disclaimer” on the bottom in red.

My Sazerac – chilled Rittenhouse Rye 100 Proof Whiskey, Peychaud bitters, simple syrup, served neat in chilled absinthe-coated glass. SO me.

Don’t even get me started on the food. Every bite was interrupted with an “oh my God” or a “mmmm”. I ordered the smoked salmon quesadilla with a scallion cream cheese, grilled tomato, and zesty red onion & caper salsa. I asked for a wheat tortilla and a lighter amount of cream cheese; the dish turned out perfectly.

SAD.

Jeff and I exchanged bites and sips as always, and we gave each other’s dishes two thumbs up.

Jeff’s choice from the $5 menu, the Breakfast Torta – 2 fried eggs on Portuguese bolos (a bread) with ripe avocado, black beans, oaxaca cheese, spicy baja aioli.

During the meal I noted to Jeff that I hadn’t worked out that morning, and didn’t plan to that day, since we’d be walking so much. Saying it out loud kind of cemented it in my head as a goal for the day – no workout, Caitlin. Just stroll through this beautiful place and enjoy yourself, guilt-free.

I stumbled upon some sunflowers!

And that’s really what I did the rest of the day!

I love the Newport Cliff Walk!

A classic goofy Caitlin photo.

This isn’t staged, I swear…

My #fitblognyc Birkenstocks held up so well even with all my walking!

A snack fit for kings from The Black Pearl‘s Waterside Patio: Country Pate!

Adorable colorful director’s chairs in an outdoor seating area!

In the evening, my family joined in the fun! Thankfully they were up for tagging along to whatever restaurants I’d picked out. I’ve gained a rep as an expert 😉 the Perro Salado bartender had even commented the night before that “he could tell what I was doing” when I was sharing with him places I was interested in visiting. Props from a local? Oh, NBD!

First stop – Fluke Wine Bar, home to a menu containing carefully crafted cocktails and super interesting food.

My amazing “man drink”, the Hanky Panky: Plymouth Gin, Carpano Antica Vermouth, Fernet Branca. It was so perfect.

Don’t worry Jeff, your pink Firedancer drink tasted pretty manly! Sauza Hornitos Tequila, Agavero Tequila Liqueur, Scorpion Mezcal, Lime & Pom Juices

The orange peel perched atop Jeff’s drink was set on FIRE at the “finale” of its creation!

This was my dad’s initial reaction to the octopus small plate Jeff and I chose, but after he took a bite, the sea creature got two thumbs up!

We also ordered Rabbit Pate. Freakin’ amazing! My first rabbit experience.

Sis and I! This is the Urban Outfitters dress I got in Baltimore. Her dress is J. Crew.

Was so proud of my sis for venturing out of her comfort zone and ordering the above Chick Pea, Roasted Red Pepper, Black Olive Crostini! And lucky for me she wasn’t the hugest fan so I got one.

After we were pre-dinner-imbibed and fed, it was time to head to the actual dinner – at Diego’s again! After all my raving, the fam just HAD to try their food, and I was all about getting to sample dishes off the lunch/dinner menu – and more off the amazing cocktail menu!

Mom with her Upgrade Margarita (Milagro Silver Tequila, Agave Nectar, Lime, OJ Splash) and me with my Corpse Reviver (Lillet Lanc, Plymouth Gin – yes again, Cointreau, Fresh Lemon, Pernod Absinthe).

Showing off my side of black beans and my Spicy Catch Pan-Seared Tuna Salad: over mixed greens with julienne veggies, tomato, fruit salsa, pomegranate-chipotle vinaigrette.

A photo meant to send Meg into a food coma.

I’m so thankful that I got to spend time not only with a good friend in Newport, but with my wonderful family (minus the little bro) as well. I have to admit that as I was walking back to the car with Jeff later that evening, I still felt panicky. The day’s eats and drinks seemed to be piling up in my mind and also seemed to be destined to never end in the future. My mind asked me, what if this becomes the norm? What if you do this EVERY WEEKEND? What will happen? Thankfully the combination of a busy day and my beverages made me super sleepy, so these thoughts did not keep me up late at all. Quite the opposite actually – I was passed out by 10pm.

The family, minus Michael, at our traditional pic spot.

Next up – a recap of finishing up in Newport and dinner in Narragansett on Sunday!

Have you ever been to Newport? If so, been to any of these spots?

Do you have a special vacation spot you visit each year with friends and/or family?

Which dish and/or drink in this post do you think you would’ve liked most?

BIG News and Knoshbox Giveaway!

Don’t forget to check out yesterday’s post if you’re a CT resident – it contains some special instructions about how to possibly get into the VIP portion of Cuvee‘s 3rd Anniversary Party in West Hartford next Thursday 8/30!

Before I get into today’s review and giveaway, I have big news for you guys that I’ve been holding off on sharing until after I  was done recapping the 2012 Healthy Living Summit. On Monday I was contacted by Ripe, a local company that makes 100% natural drink mixer juices. They, along with Onyx Moonshine (another favorite local company of mine) and Morton’s of Hartford, are sponsoring a Farm-to-Shaker Bartender Challenge at my favorite CT farmer’s market, the Coventry Regional Farmers’ Market, on Sunday 9/9 at 2:30PM. Area mixologists will be asked to use ingredients from the day’s farmers’ market offerings to make unique cocktail creations. Adding a local twist to fancy beverages?! This has ME written all over it!

And Ripe thought so too, because the reason I was approached on Monday was so they could ask me to be a JUDGE at this event! I enthusiastically, immediately accepted the “job”. I am not only excited to get a chance to sample all these cocktails, but beyond honored and pleased that my blog has accurately portrayed my passion for the most out-there, skillfully crafted, and simply tasty cocktails. The fact that I was thought of as a good person to judge this kind of event means that I am doing a good job of being ME when I publish posts! And after having just tuned into the “I Am the Blogger in Your Neighborhood” session at HLS and feeling encouraged and reassured about my involvement as a CT blogger, this is only further proof that I am on the right path!

My BB Heather just so HAPPENS to be visiting that weekend too (this keeps getting better) so she will be able to join my parents in watching me judge – and take photos/videos to show you all!!!

Knoshbox Review & Giveaway

Now let’s get into the goods. As in, good for you guys!

My friend Richard has utilized his local food expertise and started Knoshbox, a monthly subscription service that delivers local treasures to foodies nationwide. There are other food sample subscription services out there, but Knoshbox differs in a couple of ways.

Firstly, the products Richard selects to send out each month are not produced by “big business” by any means. Knoshbox recipients can rest assured that the food they’re receiving is coming from sources such as start-up ventures or farms.

So simple and classy!

Secondly, Richard is not sending subscribers sample items. Instead, he sends out full-size items so that foodies have plenty to enjoy. Also, farms or start-ups might not already be producing sample sizes, so I think it makes sense and is considerate of the producers to not restrict Knoshbox items to those that come in sample sizes only.

I was so excited when Richard sent me the company’s first box and even included a note explaining just how fresh the box’s contents were. The words “a few days ago”…”this past Friday”…”first bounty of the season”…totally stood out to me and made me all the more excited to see what was inside.

No, I’m just kidding, the box did NOT only include packing “potpourri”. But I thought it was way fun.

Like my do?

But seriously, my Knoshbox contained a variety of high-quality foodie treasures.

  • Ashlawn Farm Coffee: This bold blend contains fair trade and organic beans! I haven’t had a chance to use it yet since I typically don’t drink coffee I make at home, but my mom is excited to try it. The only reason she hasn’t yet is because the bag came with whole coffee beans instead of ground. This was a bit inconvenient, but I also understand it was necessary to preserve the freshness. I love that it came right from a farm in Lyme, CT. I’d love to visit their cafe sometime.
  • Zen Tara Tea: The Golden Meyer Lemon Black Tea is the perfect basic flavor, made with lemon peel and lemongrass. Zen Tara is a company based in Bethesda, MD.
  • Two Cousins Biscotti: You probably have seen me tweeting away about having this as a late-night snack with my beloved plain Chobani. An Italian couple in Clinton, CT makes this authentic, complexly flavored biscotti. It’s the perfect mix of sweet and savory and each bite was like a surprise because I didn’t know if I’d hit a cranberry, a pistachio, or an apricot. Any of the three was welcome! Love that satisfying crunch too.

  • Taza Chocolate: I raved about Taza when I tried their stone ground chocolate at CT Veg Fest and I’ll rave about it again here. Once again, plain Chobani provided an excellent place to mix in this salt and pepper dark chocolate. Such a rich flavor and the difference between Taza and other dark chocolate brands is totally noticeable. I was so excited to see it in the Knoshbox.
  • Full Bloom Apiaries: It doesn’t get more legit than honey straight from those that do it best, like this apiary in Franklin, CT. I have to admit I don’t use honey often but would love to find some baked good recipes to incorporate this into.

Me and ma honey 😉

All of these items and those that appear in any Knoshbox are available for purchase on the site’s Market. Your next question, I’m sure, is “How much will this cost me?” You can guess that with full-size local products, the price point of a Knoshbox is not as low as the $10/month I was paying for my Birchboxes. However for $30/month, you can get your own Knoshbox without having to pay shipping. And if you aren’t sure whether or not you want to commit, you can order just one box (with shipping) – that would even make a great gift, since Richard shares on the website ahead of time what kind of goods will be in the upcoming month’s box! For example, September will bring the Wine Trail Box with goodies like Vermont wheat crackers and Portland, Oregan chorizo – perfect for the wino on your gift list (*cough*)

My nighttime routine (for four nights since I had four biscotti) was having the biscotti crumbled in plain Chobani while I read my book!

One lucky Cait Plus Ate reader will WIN that September Wine Trail Box! Giveaway is open to US residents only (except Alaska and Hawaii) and will close Saturday night at 11:59PM ET. The winner will be announced Sunday. There are several ways to enter, and make sure you leave a comment for each:

  1. Head to the Knoshbox Market and comment telling me which local treasure you’d most want to try (mandatory).
  2. Follow me on Twitter and comment saying you did.
  3. Follow Knoshbox on Twitter and comment saying you did.
  4. Tweet “I entered to win a @Knoshbox full of local foods from @CaitPlusAte! http://wp.me/p1SfTW-1nX” and comment with the link to the tweet.
  5. Follow me on Pinterest and comment saying you did.
  6. Follow Knoshbox on Pinterest and repin something from there. Comment with the link to the repin.

Good luck to all!

My Very Own BlogHer Food ’12

Finally we have come to my last recap of my 8/2-8/5 weekend in NYC for BlogHer ’12. I saved the best for last (obviously…would you expect anything less from me?) and you can catch up below:

You know me. I’m all about the restaurants. I like to experience new places through food (among other fun activities, but eating/drinking tend to take priority :-D). So how could I go to NYC and not try as many restaurants as humanly possible?! Folks, prepare to get hungry. I may not have been able to make it to BlogHer Food this year, but I turned BlogHer ’12 into my own BlogHer Food.

Josie’s East:

I had my first ever blogger meetup (with Katie and Danielle) at the Westside location of Josie’s, which was recommended to me via Twitter back in the fall by Web Girl Kathleen of the Elvis Duran Show. After falling in love, I knew I had to go back to try more fresh, healthy food and drink from their menu.

Enjoyed a glass of pinot grigio throughout the meal (quite a generous pour), and a couple pieces of bread (including cornbread) with homemade HUMMUS!

My long-time friend (we go back to middle school…and dates to homecoming freshman year of high school) Hong met me at Josie’s Eastside location for dinner in between working his crazy banker’s hours. It was wonderful to see him again!

Grilled Gulf Yellowfin tuna with wok sauteed julienne veggies, baby bok choy, shitake mushrooms, and a miso-wasabi sauce. Also had unpictured side of pinto beans.

Hong got a salad with the same tuna and we both appreciated the way the chef had gotten the outside to be crispy and the inside to be that lovely shade of rare-red. I ended up being too full to finish my side of Josie’s pinto beans, which I ordered last time and adored, but I of course cleaned my plate of all seafood and veggies.

So Hong clearly hates me, but what are ya gonna do?

Newbie Breakfast & Fika:

I was concerned that Friday morning’s BlogHer Newbie Breakfast would be a donut-and-muffin fest. While there were no egg whites or turkey bacon present (breakfast items I enjoy both because they make me feel good and energized, and because they don’t have too much of that darn guilt associated with them), I was still able to put together a nice plate for myself…once said plates were finally replenished (chunks of time passed during which several essentials, like plates and fruit, ran out).

Photo taken while awaiting my plate 😛

Eggs, fruit, mini croissant, and potatoes. I’ll admit the croissant had me anxious but I finished almost all of it, and cleared out everything else!

Since I’m a coffee snob and former cafe manager (and currently am cafe obsessed), I of course turned my nose up at the Hilton‘s provided coffee and took a quick walk from the hotel to a spot recommended to me by New York blogger Meg of Harmonious Belly during a brunch we met at last fall. Coincidentally, Hong had also mentioned it at dinner the night before and called the cafe, Fika, a “very Caitlin” place. Sold, and such a short distance from the hotel too!

I went with my usual black coffee and wasn’t disappointed; each sip was savored during my sessions that morning. I do wish the staff had been more friendly and appreciative of my enthusiasm over visiting their shop, but hey, it’s New York on a Friday morning. Most of the patrons were regulars and seemed to just wanna get to work and get the day over with.

The small space allocated to most NYC cafes served Fika’s atmosphere well.

I like that they drink stoppers. Never seen anyone else aside from Starbucks have those. Interesting that theirs are green too.

FreeFoods NYC:

The line for Friday’s conference lunch and keynote with Martha Stewart was ridonkulous, and I was starving. Wait in line with a rumbling tummy for most likely only-OK conference food? It didn’t take me too long to decide to take matters into my own hands. With Yelp‘s help, I found FreeFoods NYC, a nearby mostly-take-out spot with a Whole Foods-like salad bar of epic, creative proportions.

This is what $18 looks like.

Deciding between any of the pay-by-the-weight bar’s options was NOT happening, so I picked up a little bit of it all. My favorite was a small slice of raw/vegan pizza on a spelt crust. I felt very New York as I sat in the cafe eating my salad and working on my summer school paper on my laptop.

Agave NYC:

I’d already mentioned that after our Well and Good Physique 57 event, we had margaritas and Southwestern fare at Agave NYC in the Village.

We were starvin’ Marvins after that workout and Sabrina had the fab idea to order two of these bad boys for the table. GUAC ME.

Watching blogger reactions to food being served never gets old. Despite what Cat appears to think.

I had my usual indecision anxiety over this margarita menu…

How to solve such a problem? Order two drinks. 

Agave Nectar (tequila, fresh lime juice, agave) on the rocks, extra salt. My all-time favorite kind of marg.

I honestly can’t decide which was my favorite. Both were very Caitlin AKA not at all sweet.

Cucumber Uno! margarita made with cuke, basil, fresh lime. Oops, sucked down half of it before I remembered to take a pic.

I’m not vegan, but damn do I love vegan food, and that love seems to grow with each vegan dish I put into my body. Again, a fantastic menu of many choices had me indecisive, but I ended up selecting the vegan tacos (tempeh with both wild & tame mushrooms) served with black beans, pico, and plenty more guac.

I polished off everything. The tempeh’s texture was amazing and I love the restaurant’s choice to use corn tortillas. Excellent black beans (made even more excellent when I dipped the leftover blue corn chips into them) and I welcomed the fresh pico and guac.

Hello, plate as big as my head.

Of course there had to be an eyebrow-raising photo taken.

What a meal. I’d go back to Agave again in a heartbeat. Too many dishes I haven’t had yet. And my two margaritas had me feeling fine enough to not go into a TOTAL and COMPLETE panic when my phone died before I could even get to the subway station after leaving dinner. #fail

Zibetto Espresso Bar & Conference Lunching:

I used my Yelp app to scout out another cafe just a couple of blocks from the hotel for Saturday morning’s caffeination. Natasha confirmed for me that my choice, Zibetto Espresso Bar, wouldn’t disappoint. I walked in and felt I was truly in Europe! The barista wore a bow tie and the shop was laid out as a long rectangle with standing room only for those who wanted to stay and sip espresso out of tiny mugs on saucers. Zibetto is certainly not a cozy study cafe, but it is one that will transport its patrons farther than they ever thought they’d go when they left their homes on a given day, that’s for sure.

The menu’s and cup’s simplicity really fit well.

No coffee to be found here…just espresso. The barista was jovial and glad to help me decide on a simple Americano. No dairy or sweetener needed! I enjoyed the espresso’s pure taste and wish it’d lasted longer. Another NYC cafe win!

Wish I’d ordered a bigger size!

Thankfully Saturday’s lunch line at the conference was practically non-existent. I’m not sure what made the difference…were more stations set up? Were there just more Friday-only attendees? I was actually quite impressed by the food offerings, and also thought it was pretty funny that almost every tray of watermelon & feta salad set out was almost completely depleted of watermelon, but had plenty of feta cubes remaining.

Clockwise from top left: BBQ chicken sandwich, watermelon/feta salad, wheatberry salad, curried seafood sandwich, fruit tarts.

I didn’t finish all my sandwich buns (they were just blah to me – sandwiches always are made with too much bread at these kinds of events!) but gobbled up everything else. Man I loved those fruit tarts! So fancy shmancy!

Super psyched! These tarts were so yummy!

Plunge at Hotel Gansevoort, The Standard Plaza, and 5 Ninth:

My most fun foodie experience of the trip spread itself across three spots in the Meatpacking District on Saturday evening. Hong and I love feeling like classy New Yorkers, so we met up at a special destination he’d suggested, the Plunge Rooftop Bar & Lounge at the Hotel Gansevoort. During my commute there, I found out via tweets that Kim Kardashian lived at that hotel with Kris Humphries on “Kourtney and Kim Take New York”. YES, that got me excited. #sorrynotsorry

View from our hightop.

We miraculously found an open hightop table with a gorgeous view immediately after grabbing drinks at the bar – #jadorelavie, my friends!

Bliss.

See that drink? That’s a Manhattan. It cost $18. When in Rome, my friends. Or when in Meatpacking?

Whaaat?!

What a beauty. Oh, the view is OK too.

How could I not drink at least one Manhattan while in Manhattan?! How could I not drink it while on a rooftop bar being sooo New York?! Yes I’m aware that I’m a tourist. I’m as far from authentic Carrie Bradshaw as it gets. But at least the bartender was heavy-handed with the bourbon in my expensive drink. I probably only finished about…$15 of it though? It was so strong that I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy a cocktail at our next location if I’d sucked down all $18-worth 😛

Which is prettier Meg, the view or what’s on my plate?

I decided to be a responsible foodie/drinkie and order an app to go with my alcohol. Plunge had some really cool and unique items on its menu! I obviously went with the funkiest dish I saw – the BBQ eel sushi. This was my first time having eel. Jeff has raved about it for awhile now and I’m glad I finally got the opportunity to try it. I will be ordering it again!

See the avocaaaado?

We walked around to check out our many, many dinner options and decided on The Standard Plaza, which met all the Caitlin Criteria (interesting drinks, unique dishes I’ve never tried before, outdoor seating…you know the drill…I am so high maintenance). The menu consisted of small tapas-style plates, many of which contain seafood! The decor was also quite beautiful.

For drinks we got the Rose Sangria (Hong) and the Cava Fresca (me). Mine was vodka muddled with berries and mint, topped with cava. Loved that ever-so-slight fizz.

Oops Hong, way to order the girlier drink 😉

This is the only way I can get Hong to look like he enjoys being in photos/likes being near me…feed him drinks.

SELFIE STATUS!

Unfortunately by the time our food came it was way too dark to take any photos that wouldn’t be a) impossible to make out or b) ugly due to flash. So I opted to go camera-less for the meal itself, and that was actually quite enjoyable.

We ordered three tapas, then realized that four would be way better. The online menu doesn’t have them all but does include these two that we ordered, both of which were fantastic seafood sensations:

  • Pez Espada – grilled swordfish, summer squash, peas, castel vetrano olivada
  • Gambas – grilled sweet shrimp, chorizo, zucchini, meyer lemon

My usual dessert craving – a delectable sweet something paired with a not-sparkling dessert wine – struck hardcore. We decided to search for a third restaurant for course three, because like I said at the beginning of this post, when in NYC I wanted to experience as much as possible.

Awkwardly posed in a beautiful indoor/outdoor patio. I felt like I was in a Shakespearean play!

After sitting down at one restaurant and immediately getting right back up and leaving once I saw they no longer had any port or sherry (poor, baffled waiter…and Hong), we found a whimsical spot called Five 9th and continued the trend of dining al fresco. Hong and I narrowed down our choice to one of my favorite cakes…coconut! And I got my tawny port. Maybe I’m a grandpa, not a grandma, after all 🙂

THIS IS HAPPENING.

The cake itself was a bit dry but the heavenly icing made up for that. I think  Hong let me eat more than my share of this and for that I am grateful 😉 I’m so glad I got to spend a second evening with him absorbing and experiencing the magic and energy of NYC!

I’m sure now you can definitely see why I was so proud of myself for handling the weekend well. I surely went outside of my comfort zone with drinks and eats, but I also know that I missed out on nothing. I’m someone who enjoys the experience of a meal, and exploring a foodie city in that manner was completely appropriate, despite what my pesky brain was trying to tell me. I can look back at all these photos and the fun I had and feel grateful and fulfilled. I can excitedly share all of this with you and not let the guilty voice be triggered into action by doing so. I think that a major factor in helping me to lose myself in all these moments and take risks was the inspiration I felt being around all the bloggers that were teaching me or have more to teach me about myself and what I am capable of. Not only did BlogHer inspire me to be a better blogger, but it inspired me to appreciate all I have accomplished and allow myself to feel my passions – even if that passion is for dessert wine and coconut cake.

Have you ever been to NYC and if so, what is the best dining experience you’ve ever had there?

Have you ever eaten meals at a conference of any kind? How were they?

What is the most you have ever paid for a cocktail? Was it worth it?

BlogHer ’12 Sponsor Silliness and Swag

Here goes my third recap post of my BlogHer ’12 NYC weekend…the sponsors at the conference itself, which took place Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. If you missed my last two recaps of my Physique 57, YogaWorks, and Chobani SoHo experiences, you can still go back and read them!

If I could sum up the BlogHer conference in a few nouns they’d be…information, inspiration, and sponsors. I know that a conference is meant to be a teaching tool, and BlogHer certainly served as that. However, you really can’t go to a blogging conference without expecting (and hoping for!) some fun sponsor action. After all, who doesn’t like swag?

Laid out the haul on Sunday night when I got home.

Yeek, I need to settle down and stop going out-of-chronological-order in my recaps 😛 when I left my house on Thursday, I thought I had a lot of baggage.

Completely posed self-timer pic…

That is, until I ended up hauling these babies from taxi to train, and then from train to car. My shoulders fell off.

Damn you, swag. Yet I love you.

Room Awesome

I arrived and check-in at the New York Hilton was seamless, though elevator travel throughout the conference (it should not take 15 minutes to find an open elevator!) was not. My room was OK…the bathroom was a bit dingy, the humidity was kinda out of control, but what are you gonna do? I got an amazing deal and didn’t have to do anything to organize it all. I’m eternally grateful to “Room Awesome”‘s planner, Stephanie of The Froggy and the Mouse. What a sweetheart…all of my roomies were actually (Melissa of Growing Up Geeky and Linette of The Kid’s Fun Review).

Stephanie, a fellow planner/organizer!

Expo Hall Experience

I unfortunately arrived too late to see Obama give the opening address to BlogHer participants, but badge pickup went super quickly (thanks to BlogHer for offering an affordable student rate!) and after a much needed post-travel shower, I made my way to the first conference party (apparently these are a BIG part of BlogHer, but I had no idea until a month beforehand and never ended up attending any others), Evening at the Expo. Essentially just the same Expo Hall that was open the entire conference…WITH WINE!

You mean these tickets I got with my badge buy WINE?!

I visited eons of sponsor booths throughout the conference’s three days, though Friday and Saturday had no wine (le bummer). My favorite sponsor experiences were those with people in silly costumes and/or the opportunity to dress up in silly costumes myself.

Me and the Dole banana!

One row back…another banana, this one from Jamba Juice!

Wendy of CT Bloggers would only be in photos in which she was “disguised”! So she was kind enough to pose with me at the Wholly Guacamole booth 🙂

If you like it then you shoulda #PutAWheelOnIt at the Gorton’s Seafood booth! Bummed I never made it back to try some samples.

The folks at TMobile must’ve thought taking the above photo would be a pain for me because they gave me a massage afterward to say thank you. I mean, that’s awesome, but I would’ve done it for “free” 😛

Oh yes, I’ve got milk. Wait, not really! But I do have these milkmen.

This guy was supposed to be a Smith Brother. I called him Abe Lincoln. Promoting the upcoming Spielberg biopic?! No? Oh.

I find it hilarious that Danny DeVito voiced the Lorax and literally has the same exact build as him/it.

Plenty of Perks

Fun photos were not the only activities available to bloggers at sponsor booths and suites. Since I listened to some T-Mobile reps’ shpeals on the latest apps (and put on a feather boa), I received the treat of one of my first massages…and I went to a very special place, I have to say. It was just pure heaven. Too bad I’m too cheap to ever purchase another massage, ha!

Starbucks gave private demos of their new home espresso beverage machine, Verismo, to small groups of bloggers. My demo guy was fabulous! I wasn’t a fan of the drinks produced by the Verismo machine, because I drink my coffee black. Just way too much milk (and 2%, which has a rich taste I’m not used to) and not enough espresso. Still, the machine did create some incredibly frothy, aromatic milk out of a powdered K-cup style insert. I think these machines will be really popular among those who prefer espresso beverages to coffee…think of it as the Keurig for the espresso drinker.

The Verismo brewed this beverage for us!

The perk of the Starbucks suite was the $5 gift card I received on my way out. I don’t go to Starbucks a lot anymore but when I have no local cafe options, they are definitely my go-to over Dunkin Donuts, so I know I will use this. They also have more convenient hours than many local cafes.

Me and my sample, my new friend, and the Verismo.

Bailey’s Creamers reps were passing out mini cupcakes…I selected red velvet, Ginawent with s’mores.

Love the tower 🙂

Didn’t sample any of their products since I don’t like sweet drinks OR creamers, but I did sample some coffee-colored OPI nail polishes in the form of a complimentary manicure– already much needed!

My manicurist was so sweet and we chatted the whole time!

She was a bit baffled by my request for a “disco nail” but did a wonderful job! I’m now a disco nail addict.

I have no clue why Bankrupting America (a non-profit with a mission to distribute easy to understand, creative educational materials about our nation’s economy, something we definitely need more of) was serving Skinnygirl‘s original and peach margarita flavors.I think they wanted to attract people to their booth. Shameless free-drink-if-you-talk-to-us, but I’ll take it. As in, I’ll take a peach on the rocks, please.

I made friends (aka was a Chatty Kathy with) the Bankrupting America rep and asked her to pose with the drink server (he was in a James Bond costume, I’m pretty sure).

And CouponCabin.com clearly knew who they were dealing with when they gave me this shirt…

Coupon Caitlin FTW!

T-Mobile also gave me cake pops and Terra chips. They really spoiled me! I spent about 5 minutes searching through the cake pops trying to decipher which was a red velvet, then gave up. I have yet to eat the one I selected but when I do I’ll update you all as to what flavor I got (because you’re riveted).

These were later devoured during a session. Shared with Theodora and Ashley, who immediately asked where they could get some too.

Plethora of Products

Meg, are you liking the alliteration this post is pumping out?! I talked to a boatload of brands, and a few of them stood out to me.

Monthly subscription services for food samples are usually above my budget, though they do offer tasty and high-quality products. From what I saw, Love with Food offers the same quality for an excellent price point – $10 a month! I hope to do a full review on the blog soon! Even better…for each box bought, they donate a meal to a hungry child. The website’s product page features beautiful photographs and SO many treats I want to try.

I already know I’d like to try the dried sweet corn and the cute whale tail shaped chips!

Dannon had the sweetest rep, Janelle, working at their booth. Maybe I just thought that because she recognized me instantly and said she loves my blog?! 😛 They also put up with me when I frantically ran to them before my writing clinic session, sputtering that I was staaaaarving, and could they spare a snack? Why yes they could!

Light ‘n Fit Vanilla used to be a daily snack for me in college. Now the line is too sweet for my tastebuds and also tastes less real than I’m used to…but in this situation, the Light ‘n Fit Greek variety held me over til lunch and did its job. I also sampled the Oikos Blueberry – yummy, but again too sweet for me. I picked up a coupon so I can get one of the plain tubs though!

Imagining I’m eating the yogurt with its rep John Stamos…

The Michael Angelo’s reps let me try some of their prepared meals and I really enjoyed talking with them (and eating their Italian food with red wine, duh).

Their products are made with natural ingredients, many of them are very light (unlike most pre-prepared foods), and were created with the influence of Michael’s mother, Sara’s, recipes.

The eggplant parm (left) and lasagna (right) were amazing and tasted homemade.

I got a coupon for a free item and asked my mom to add it to her grocery list asap!

Of course I needed a photo of me eating.

Someone left a giant box of Popchips outside her hotel room and declared that they were first-come, first-serve. I got served…with a snack for the train ride home on Sunday (and brain fuel for my paper).

They were SO GOOD. I try not to count calories but I have to admit the fact that the whole bag was only 100 immediately caught my attention.

The Dole booth was super elaborate, complete with a tiki hut and fruit carvers. And that banana you saw earlier.

I felt smug that my shoe choice at the Expo Hall party on Thursday night was a perfect match for their booth.

That is a bowl of banana USB drive keychains.

I obviously took one home. I doubt I’ll ever use it as anything other than a keychain but come on, it’s a banana, and now my keys are #Fitfluential with one keychain each for #EAT, #MOVE, and #ENJOY. I just need a #SLEEP keychain!

Reebok sneaker, Dole banana, and a Life is Good keychain (hiding).

Wait, Dole makes food?! Just kidding. I pounded these Pineapple Real Fruit Bites before Saturday morning’s Physique 57 class. They made for good fuel and I had a great workout, and again the calorie-noticer (not counter…trying not to!) in me liked the 90 calorie serving size. However, these still have more artificial ingredients than I am used to (though there is some real pineapple in there) and I’ve seen recipes for similar products on sites like Lean Green Bean. If anything, enjoying the Real Fruit Bites has inspired me to make my own, more natural version at home.

Finally, I got to test out the Bowflex CoreBody Reformer, which looked pretty silly to me until I stepped up onto it and felt my core engage as I struggled to balance. And to think the Olympic gymnasts do flips on beams a million times higher and a zillion times thinner?! The helpful rep also showed me the book of exercises it comes with – soooo many, and much of them I never would have thought of on my own!

Not exactly workout attire!

It’s really portable too and can be packed up and carried on one’s back with a strap. CoreBody workout DVDs are also available to pair with your reformer. An ideal piece of home workout equipment for someone living in a small apartment or working with a tiny workout space!

Best For Last

I met a very special someone at the Coupon Cabin booth…as Fitfluential’s Community Manager Robin Elton put it, inception happened at BlogHer 2012.

Kate Plus 8, meet Cait Plus Ate! Kate Gosselin officially knows of this blog’s existence, loves the name, and is actually really cool and chill to talk to. WOO HOO!

I didn’t even find out Kate Gosselin would be appearing at BlogHer on Friday until the night before while waiting to get into the Evening at the Expo Hall. Another brush with fate! I never imagined that when Rachel gave me the idea for my blog’s name, one day I’d actually be TELLING Kate Plus 8 about it!

Would you have been as down as I was to take silly photos at the sponsor booths?

Do any of the products I tried or perks I received strike your fancy? I had to find a creative way to ask that question!

Have you ever gotten the chance to do something you truly NEVER thought you’d get to do?

Active Rest Day: How I Did

Amanda of  Run Principessa took my #AmazingMe list one step further and did a VLOG of hers! Check it out and make your own list if you haven’t already – I want to eventually do a post that links up all of them! Make sure to email or tweet me with the link!

Drawing on the chalk tables at ION with Heather. Thanks for the pic, Jenny!

You may remember on Friday that I asked for your support and thoughts as I headed into a weekend of personal challenges. I’m not going to lie and say everything went swimmingly. On Friday night I met up with Jenny and Heather at It’s Only Natural (ION) in Middletown for what should have been an absolute blast of a vegan meal, but I just wasn’t all there. I felt stressed and dragged down by my negative thoughts. I’d had a longer day at work than I’d expected when I woke up that morning and was running late to meet the girls at the restaurant – a ton of little things just combined to create a perfect storm and I had a hard time being present. The food was AMAZING as per usual. The sweet potato fries made my heart sing. My friends were being wonderful and understanding, but I felt guilty as I drove him for not being able to sit back and enjoy. Guilt guilt guilt!

My meal – the blackened tempeh special with the sweet potato fries and a small side of their cold mashed potatoes. I also had a beet salad to start.

The next morning brought part of the challenges I’d discussed on Friday – Om Street Yoga from West Hartford Yoga. Jenny, Heather, and I met in West Hartford center and took ourselves and our mats over to LaSalle Ave, which had been closed down for the second year of this free outdoor 75 minute yoga class.

Call me stereotypical, but yes I wore my Birkenstocks from the Fitness Meet & Tweet to a yoga event.

There was a great turnout! Mic problems only came up a couple of times during the practice, and a live percussion group was present playing relaxing music, complete with a gong.

The class actually ended up being more intense than I’d expected, which I enjoyed! My heart rate got up there during a ridiculously fast dancing warrior series, and my legs were on fire from all the chair poses we did. As I sunk into the last one, I literally whispered to Jenny, “Are you serious?!” I’d thought they were over!

Texting and folding 😉 it’s safe!

Child’s pose may or may not be one of my favorites #sorrynotsorry

My favorite moment came as the entire class was in a goddess pose, doing a series of powerful arm movements. We pushed our arms up to the sky, to the side, in front of us, and downward, each time shouting out “HUH!” Sounds cheesy but it felt great, like a release, and right as we completed the series the sun broke through the clouds. Our instructor declared we’d “brought out the sun” and the crowd broke into applause. In that moment, I felt united with every single person on LaSalle Ave!

During the class I was continuously impressed with Jenny’s yoga skills. She is actually a yoga teacher and considers the practice to have saved her life. Her movements were so very fluid and I am envious of her flexibility! I’d love to get my om on with her again soon 🙂

Jenny’s yoga pants are amazing.

A part of my personal journey over the last couple of years has been working on being more mindful. Each time I do yoga, I have to admit that I am not living in the present. In fact, I rarely find that I am being present in any aspect of my life. This is something I’m trying to change and I was making an effort to be hyper-aware of mindfulness during the final portion of Om Street Yoga, savasana. My mind continued to wander forward to my plans with Heather and Jenny following yoga, forward to my tasting event later that evening, even back to the chair poses during the class and whether or not they were enough of a leg workout. I’d like to say that it was a zen, peaceful savasana, but instead I felt a bit panicked that it was SO damn hard for me to live in the moment. Why couldn’t I just enjoy?! Still, I followed the teacher’s instructions at the end to wish myself happiness, healthiness, and ease; it gave me some peace.

I suggested Hartford Baking Company nearby for our post-yoga coffee fix. I’d had their food before but had never had the chance to sample their pour-over coffee. My friend Matt was working and he recommended an Ethiopian blend from Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Brooklyn; it tasted excellent, possibly also because he did a good job making it! I liked the glass pitcher it was served in – my kind of pitcher!

Heather and I sipped our pour-over coffee black, while Jenny went with a large regular coffee with her beloved soy creamer!

I had a great time chatting with these ladies, and our sunny cozy table made this coffee trip extra special. But I still know I wasn’t 100% there. Negative thoughts associated with stressing over situations to come, an active rest day, whether or not I was disappointing my friends, and more crowded my mind. When I dropped my friends off at Jenny’s and headed out, I was feeling really upset and frustrated with myself.

I was cheered up relatively soon, however, when I ran into my best friend Lidia at Daybreak Coffee Roasters (I stopped by to get iced coffee – decaf, because I’d had enough caff for one day). I felt like it was fate because it also happened to be her birthday! I sat outside with her, her mom, and a family friend of theirs. We just caught up and I was having such a good time that I really did lose myself in our conversation and not think about the fact that I wouldn’t be putting in a gym trip that day.

Losing yourself over coffee is easier when you love it so much 🙂

It got more challenging though when I got home and finished doing my “blog errands” (photo editing and uploading). I had a couple of hours of free time before my next activity, and didn’t know what to do with myself. Free time?! I felt like a slacker for not taking advantage of it and hitting the gym. I almost felt angry with myself for publicly declaring an active rest day to all of you guys. I thought to myself, well I could save this rest day for a day I’m literally too busy to work out. Why should I waste today, a day I have so much time for the gym?! A lot of the reason I didn’t go was because I didn’t want to disappoint those who had left me such supportive comments on my post, Facebook, Twitter, and more.

I consciously attempted to pull my mind to the positives of the situation, and also to the fact that I needed to do this challenge for ME. I had time to put away my laundry while listening to NPR, something I really enjoy doing. I finally got a chance to get iTunes set up on my laptop and attempted to load all my music onto my iPhone (something I gave up on halfway through, but oh well). I got to zen out on the back porch while doing my blog errands and eat baby carrots with Yummy Hummy curry and lemon cilantro hummuses (humm-i?)

In the end, I know that I did a workout on Saturday. I took a 75-minute yoga class that worked my body, stretched my tired muscles, and quieted my mind (even if only a bit). I had a chance to unwind in the middle of the afternoon before headed to my CT Bloggers event that evening, which probably ended up helping me handle that event well in the end (more on that later). And the next morning when I went to the gym for 45 minutes of spinning and an arm workout, I had a ton of energy and kicked some ass. So I did it. I took an active rest day and challenged myself. I’m not extremely happy with how I handled the entire situation, but I handled it and am a work in progress. I’ll get there. I know it!

How do you handle taking rest days?

Have you ever done outdoor yoga?

How do you keep yourself in the moment and present?