Christmas 2012

I hope everyone had a great Christmas!

photo3

This being my mom’s and mine second Christmas in Florida we’re still getting adjusted to new traditions. It’s a little hard not to wake up in a chilly CT house and spend the day in robes drinking hot chocolate and opening presents. But luckily we have Jon’s family that is always very welcoming on Christmas!

On Christmas Eve I made my mom’s vegetarian quiche. My mom was never much of a cook. She’s vegetarian and my dad was diabetic and pretty much only ate chicken or fish. With everyone having different diets it never made sense to cook big meals. But there was one thing that my mom made: her vegetarian quiche. I’m not sure where it originally came from (I have a photo copy), but it’s actually a crabmeat quiche that she adapted. She would make it every now and then for dinner, but it was our standard holiday meal on Christmas.

I failed to take a photo, but it turned out very yummy! I actually had a mini freak out when I realized I put 1/2 cup of flour in instead of 2 teaspoons. Ya, big difference right? Turns out it didn’t hurt it at all…it just held together really well! Two teaspoons does seem like not much at all…next time I’d probably try 1/4 cup of flour.

Our tradition is to serve one slice with corn and a side salad. We also had some delicious yeast rolls from Fresh Market and a glass of Pinot Gris.

MomsQuiche

After dinner we opened our presents to each other and then watched Magic Mike. How’s that for a Christmas movie? πŸ™‚ It’s kind of what I expected. No real plot, but still somewhat entertaining. Channing Tatum sure has some MOVES!

Christmas Day we drove down to Cape Coral for the day. It was a great day of presents and spending time with the family.

photo1

And of course Christmas dinner!

photo9photo10

Prime rib, potatoes au gratin, roasted asparagus and yorkshire pudding. Delicious!

Jon’s sister-in-law also made red velvet cupcakes, which were amazing…she makes the BEST cupcakes.

And it was this little girl’s first Christmas! (With us at least.) How cute is she in her reindeer antlers?

photo

What’s your favorite present you received?

Advertisements

Foodie Friday: Cookies, Cookies Everywhere!

Let the madness stop.

I’m on sugar overload!

With the holidays come treats upon treats upon treats. All week at work cookies, candies, chocolates and donuts keep popping up on every empty counter top space. ‘Tis the season to indulge and I’ve had moderate bites here and there.

My favorite Christmas treat?

cookies

Cookies!

I don’t think I’ve ever met a cookie I didn’t like…chocolate chip, oatmeal, sugar, frosted, sprinkled, bar form…they’re all yummy to me!

Before plates and plates of treats started popping up at work I DID have plans on making my own cookies to share. But since I think I might get some groans if I bring one more sweet treat into the office, I’m going to hold off. But here’s some gems that I can’t wait to make!

chocolate_gooey_butter_cookies-291x437

 

Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies

137782069820311494_BBN8lmfp_c

Hazelnut Cookies

8225267699_19d3bf44da_b

Lemon Sugar Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

211598882463824752_IqLh3WTM_c

Crinkled Ginger Molasses Cookies

44543483785444038_f4U0GWub_c

Rocky Road Cookies

215680269626430293_ifOttLtk_c

Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Red-Velvet-Crinkle-Cookies-31

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

Those Red Velvet wonders there are first on my list to try…mmm, I love red velvet!

What is your favorite Christmas cookie? I love a good Mexican Wedding cookie!

P.S. I wonder how many times I can say cookie in this post πŸ™‚

 

Holiday Giving

My sickness has returned 😦

Luckily, it’s not as bad as it was the first time around. But boy is it hard to get up after you take NyQuil the night before! I feel like a zombie until about 9 a.m.

I wasn’t about to miss our holiday work party though!

Some people roll their eyes at work parties, Secret Santa, silly Xmas office games…but I love it! I love team bonding and being able to have fun with co-workers in a non-work atmosphere.

photo

We had a casino game night, which has been a hit in years past. I learned how to play Blackjack! Thank goodness we weren’t playing for money though πŸ˜‰

There was a fun photo booth that my friend Ashley and I partook in. And LOTS of food. They usually do a lot of hors d’oeuvre type of stuff, but they had more meal type food this time and I loved it. Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and vegetables filled my plate. There were also many yummy looking desserts, but I ended up having a few glasses of wine and forgetting about dessert. Actually still kind of kicking myself over that one, ha!

photo1

Example of my “cloudy sick head” in action. I saw yesterday’s CrossFit workout and figured I was well enough to give it a go.

Back Squats

5-5-3-3-3-1-1-1-1-1

Each of the those numbers is reps.

Unfortunately, the warm up included two 400 meter runs, one with a weighted ball. I almost died.

Then during the workout I was supposed to add a total of 35# onto my bar…instead I put 35# on EACH side. I tell one of the coaches, “I don’t understand…this weight is well below my one rep max yet it feels SO heavy!” He just looks at me and says “You have 115# on there.” (I was going for 80#) Oops. Needless to say I had my first PR last night in CrossFit! 115# back squat…up 5# from my last! Might not sound like much but an additional 5# feels like a lot when lifting.

Crazy to think that Christmas is just a few days away! I really need to get some wrapping done…

In the midst of holiday craziness I’ve noticed that this time of year is when there’s a big push for charities asking for donations. Salvation Army bell ringers, Toys for Tots bins, various Facebook posts from various charities asking to help better the holiday’s for kids and families.

This time of year, it’s important to step back from your Christmas shopping list and remember what this season is all about. Family, togetherness, love and kindness. Not all families will be having a Merry Christmas. But there are ways that we can help. What better Christmas gift to give than knowing you helped make someone elses Christmas better?

It’s as simple as volunteering for a toy drive or a soup kitchen, donating money to a cause (every $1 counts!) or donating goods. I dropped off two toys in my local Publix’s Toys for Tots bin last weekend and was overjoyed to see it brimming at the top. Any bit helps.

Are you giving this year? What charities do you like to give to?

The Happiest Day on the Planet

 

Yesterday I had a one of a kind experience.

IMG_4003

I ran The Color Run!

The Color Run is known as the “Happiest 5k on the Planet” and that it was.

Even though I laid everything out the night before I got up ay 7 a.m. to give myself some time to wake up, eat and get ready. My fuel was a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and banana.

I drove downtown and met up with my friend Karen to walk to Vinoy Park, where the race was starting.

IMG_3972

She had the brilliant idea of taping our shoes so they didn’t get dirty!

IMG_3959

As we approached the park we saw the color stations being set up.

IMG_3960

When we got to the park we got behind the start line. Lots of people! And so many had such great costumes, from tutus to unicorn horns…we vowed to think of something fun for next year!

IMG_3969

IMG_3963

I did have some fun sunglasses to wear. Plus a bandana to cover my mouth and white knee highs for extra color coverage!

IMG_3971

IMG_3967

IMG_3965

I wanted to get some race action shots, but was too afraid of my phone getting color on it. I’m sure it would have been fine (the color is essentially colored cornstarch and 100% natural) but even still it stayed safe in my Spibelt in a ziploc bag. πŸ™‚

We went through four colors: pink, blue, orange and yellow. It was a great course that took us up to the Pier and down Beach Drive. This was truly a fun run. The race wasn’t timed so there was no pressure to make a certain time. There were walkers as well as runners. I ran because I was counting this as my exercise for the day and I hadn’t run in a while. I started off running with Karen, but eventually had to slow down. With not having run for a while and Β being sick most of the week I wasn’t feeling my best. Karen timed herself and ended around 31:00 so I imagine I ended around 35:00.

IMG_3992

The race was sold out. There were 10,000 people! As we watched people finish they just kept coming and coming!

IMG_3978

As promised, this was the most fun race I’ve ever ran. If it’s coming to your city and there’s still spots left I definitely recommend signing up!

IMG_3975

Later that night my friends Karen and Lora co-hosted a Champagne and Cookies holiday party.

IMG_4010

I arrived early to help set up.

IMG_4005

This is actually just some of the food. Lots of other goodies were added! I made the two plates of skewers you see there. Plus this spicy cranberry cream cheese dip that hardly got touched cause I think people didn’t know what it was…but it was really good!

IMG_4009IMG_4008IMG_4007

Mmm Lora did an awesome job making cookies! They were all so good.

Karen has an awesome condo downtown and the building has a spacious party room for residents to use. With beautiful views of St. Pete it was an excellent party spot.

316507_10100200886892877_134177196_n

An overall great night of champagne, cookies, food and friends!

Have you done The Color Run?

A Note on Newtown

My hometown is Easton, Connecticut. A small, suburban town, where as kids we always joked that the number of cows outnumbered the number of people. We always complained that our town was “boring”.

Fairfield County is filled with all-American, middle to upper class households. It is a comfortable place to live and needless to say, I always felt safe growing up.

Newtown, CT is just 15 miles from Easton and reflects that same safe, suburban feel.

So when my mom called me Friday morning and said there had been a school shooting I almost didn’t believe it. And the shocks just kept coming.

An elementary school?

20 children killed?

All of the same questions swirled through my head that I’m sure went through yours as well. Who could do such a thing? What kind of senseless act of violence is this?

My eyes instantly filled with tears as I kept scanning news updates and watching live coverage. My heart is breaking for the parents, the children, the faculty, everyone involved. And I’m also thinking about the aftermath. All the children who will have to live with those horrible images for the rest of their lives.

The phrase, “it can happen any where”, is certainly ringing true.

I’m going to echo what most people have been saying…hug your family, tell them you love them…you never know what tomorrow will bring.

I will also make a personal statement that all of these tragic shootings are beyond gun control issues and safety issues. What really lays beneath is a mental disease issue. This article let’s you take a peak into that issue.

And most importantly here’s how you can help the victims: Newtown Memorial Fund

Sicky Icky

I rarely get sick. But when I do, it hits me hard.

Sunday afternoon, while joining my friend Ashley to a visit to The Chihuly Collection, I suddenly started feeling “off”.

I was going to call in sick on Monday, but then remembered an important department meeting so decided to brave the work day. I lasted until 1 p.m.

So Tuesday was a sick day. I slept in. I ate comfort food. Jon was my nurse. We watched The Walking Dead.

300px-Walking_Dead_Season_3_Cast (Source)

Anyone who knows me well knows that I do not like any movie, book, etc. that has to do with vampires, werewolves, zombies, wizards, etc. I’ve only read one Harry Potter book and you couldn’t convince me to see Twilight if my life depended on it. I don’t know what it is…I’m just not into it.

In saying that, I LOVE The Walking Dead. It’s a great, well done show. The acting is kind of eh at times and Jon and I make fun of some certain characters wide-eyed faces, but the storyline is fantastic. The effects are very real and not corny at all. The characters are well-formed and there’s lots of action that keeps you guessing.

Jon and I also just finished watching all the seasons of Breaking Bad (another phenomenal show). Both don’t start-up again until March, which makes me groan with anticipation!

Because of my sickness I had to miss an Eckerd Alumni Holiday Party 😦

It’s funny though, how being sick reminds you to slow down. I’m a gogogo type of person. I love being busy so it’s hard for me to reserve quiet time. Last weekend was no different.

Saturday after a CrossFit session, Jon, Maddie and I headed to the Saturday Morning Market.

photo9

photo

Egg, cheese and bacon croissant from Le Creperie…delish! Best croissant I’ve had in a LONG time.

photo11

This little girl was so good…mostly because we kept giving her bites of deliciousness.

After hours of Christmas shopping with my mom, Jon made butternut squash ravioli with a brown butter sage sauce.

photo10

And then we were off to Studio@620 for Spec Performance: Second, which was a great showcase of dance performance. I was there for Articulate, so check back later this week for the blog on that.

Sunday I got up again for CrossFit, Jon and I went to get dim sum and Boba.

photo13

I met up with Ashley and we went to Chihuly since she had gotten two free tickets. We’d both been there before, but it was nice to visit again. Such amazing pieces. Later that night Jon, my mom and I went to see Santaland Diaries at American Stage, which was very entertaining. Again, check Articulate later in the week for that blog πŸ™‚

photo12

As fun as the weekend was, I’m sure all of that running around wasn’t exactly good for me. I was even just on the phone with my mom telling her I was going to go workout tonight and she talked me out of it. She said that’s how I got sick in the first place…getting up too early and running around all day. Mother knows best right?

While I hate to give up another workout this week I know she’s right. I still need to take it easy until I’m fully better. No sense in pushing it.

Especially, since this weekend is another busy weekend! Color Run, a Champagne and Cookies party, a photo shoot, some friends in town…fun, fun, fun!

What do you think is too much in terms of a busy day? Do you leave quiet time for yourself each day?

The Holidays Have Begun

As my friend Lora mentioned in a recent post, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas in Florida. I’ve always loved the warm weather, and I think most Floridians do, but come December you’re bound to hear lots of grumbling if the temps don’t dip below 75.

My first few years here I loved it. And there was something so funny about seeing Christmas lights on palm trees and Santas on the beach. But now? I’m really yearning for some cords, a sweater, a scarf and some hot cocoa. As much as I complain when it’s cold it’s nice to feel the need to bundle up in December. Cold weather just goes hand in hand with Christmas ya know?

Anywho, with December comes holiday parties. My favorite part of the holiday as an adult! I love getting gussied up, spending time with friends, silver and gold decorations…and yes, I am the one who LOVES corny Christmas games and present exchanges (Secret Santa, White Elephant, etc.)

I have six holiday parties on the calendar, and the first was this past Wednesday for Junior League. Our Junior League Holly Jolly Holiday Party was held at the Vinoy downtown. Always a great place for an event…even though the food was less than desirable and drinks overpriced. (Being in the hospitality industry, I was unfortunately not surprised.)

photo1

I just love my man in a suit. πŸ™‚

After catching up with friends and my feet starting screaming at me, Jon and I headed to Engine No. 9 for dinner. Last time we were there they had a limited menu. They have a full menu now, but focus a lot on burgers. And boy are they de-licious! I had the BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger with sweet potato fries. Hit. the. spot.

Jon has been cooking up some delicious dishes lately. Like his butternut squash lasagna.

photo

Which I think is now in my Top 5 Favorite Dishes That Jon Makes.

I’ve been in the cooking mood lately though, and was finally able to get into the kitchen last night.

photo11

Melt in Your Mouth Chicken and Mushroom Asparagus Quinoa.

You know how we always say “what did we ever do without cell phones”? Well, last night I was saying, “what did we ever do without Pinterest and Foodgawker?”

The original chicken recipe is made with mayo (ick!) but I substituted greek yogurt and it was pretty awesome. Lots of flavor for so little ingredients.

Did you know Publix does not carry quinoa? It’s very frustrating. Two times now I’ve searched the store top to bottom and end up cursing to myself in the rice aisle. I had to settle for a brown rice quinoa premade pack, which was actually not made. It also made for a quick side dish. I just wish they’d put more quinoa in these kinds of mixes!

photo10

I also used portabella mushrooms because they’re my fav. I omitted the pumpkin seeds because I didn’t want to find/buy them. The recipe says to serve topped with goat cheese, and while it’s good you can certainly do without it as well.

photo9

Does it feel like Christmas where you live?

‘Tis the Season to Reassess

Another year is quickly coming to an end. In the midst of twinkling lights, decorations and holiday cheer, it seems to be the time of year where most people look back and evaluate their accomplishments this past year.

Although I believe we should take time to reflect all the time, it seems that’s nearly impossible. We live hustle bustle lives and rarely do we find time for ourselves. But I guess it’s better that we reflect once a year instead of not at all, right?

Last year I created a list of goals for 2012. I remember glancing at it a few months ago and being proud that I actually accomplished some of those goals.

2012 Goals

1. Find inner peace

I’m still working on this one. As I said last year this should be a lifelong goal, and I still believe that.

2. Think local first

I was so proud of myself last year for getting all of my Christmas gifts at local stores. I hope to do the same this year, but not sure if it will happen. Money is tight and as much as I love local stores I’m afraid my pocketbook loves some bargain deals at the big chains as well.

I’ve also had a plan in mind for the past few years to start buying groceries (especially produce) at local places. That hasn’t quite happened yet, but Jon is getting fed up with Publix produce so I’m hoping we can start visiting some local produce stands soon.

3. Become financially smart

I did start a budget this year and have tracked my spending each month. It has helped in the sense I know where my money is going. It hasn’t helped in the sense that I still spend it and need to save more. Still haven’t opened a savings account OR started any kind of retirement plan, which is important to me. I hope to open a savings account with any Christmas dollars I might get.

4. Have a creative outlet

Thankfully, this has been crossed off the list. I found a freelance blog writing gig, which makes me so happy. I get to write about performing arts and other arts related events. I also want to start free writing every day.

5. Be involved

I volunteer through Junior League. I also volunteered with a local non-profit for a series of events they were doing. I really want to do more though. Thinking of trying to find some volunteer opportunities this holiday season.

6. Get educated

With the election this year I did try to educate myself on politics more. As for other things…not so much. I still need to schedule some news reading time into my day.

7. Get moving

Thankfully this has happened as well. From training for a 10k to starting CrossFit I definitely feel like I have a good fitness groove going on now.

I’m still thinking about goals for 2013. Good to have all of these thoughts in mind while doing that.

Besides reflection, this month is going to be filled with such fun. I was filling out our fridge calendar for the month this morning and getting excited for all of the holiday parties coming up! Really need to start that Christmas shopping too…

What’s your favorite part about the holiday season?

Jon’s Birthday

*Note: My apologies on the dated post, but I just realized I never hit publish on this puppy. Opps!

As if having your birthday on Thanksgiving wasn’t enough…

photo

I decided to surprise Jon by taking him somewhere he’s wanted to go for a long time…

photo7

Oh yes, he was a happy guy!

photo5

Cigar City Brewing Company is a local brewery in Tampa, FL. Named after the fact that Tampa was known for its cigars back in the day and had the nickname “Cigar City”.

Now, I am not a beer drinker…I just have never developed a taste for it. There are some beers I’ve tasted that I’ve liked, but I can only manage a few sips. But I still have an interest in the beer making process and have picked up some knowledge from Jon.

photo9(Some grains we got to taste that they put in the beer. It was yummy!)

Cigar City does tours for $5 and it includes a tasting glass and free drink. Pretty good deal!

The brewery is kind of small…at least smaller than I expected. But they actually opened another space next door to them that they’re not giving tours of yet. They’re also expanding their tasting room very soon, where they’ll have 50 beers on tap. Holy beer!

photo11

photo10

Our tour guide, Bob, was great. He made the tour fun and welcomed as many questions as people had. He talked about Cigar City’s history, some of the beers and walked us through their process. We even got to taste a few of the beers.

And yes, I tried them. And yes, I kind of liked them. But as usual…I only had a few sips then poured the rest into Jon’s glass πŸ™‚

photo3

If you live in the Tampa Bay area I definitely recommend checking this place out! It’s a fun (and cheap) thing to do.

Jon’s parents were in town this weekend. I had a certificate to The Vinoy sitting in my dresser for forever and finally realized Jon and I were never going to use it (too close to home) so I gave it to them to use since it’s more of a vacation for them.

We met up with them later Saturday night.

photo4

Yay Christmas!

We had a nice drink in the lobby. I hadn’t been to The Vinoy since they finished renovating their lobby. It looks really nice, but kind of too modern for the historic building that it is. Jon’s parents said they loved the place though and were having a great time!

We went to dinner at Red Mesa, which was wonderful. I had the pork tenderloin with mashed potatoes and black beans. We had a bite of all of our dishes and everything was delicious. Definitely a great spot that we need to go to more often.

Sunday morning I picked up my friend Tamsyn at the airport. (She lives in Ft. Myers but flew to visit her parents for Thanksgiving.) It seems we’ve started a tradition every time she’s in the area…Datz and shopping.

Oh Datz…I love you oh so much. I feel like I haven’t tried any other wonderful restaurants in Tampa simply because I always want to go to Datz.

I had to try their new Popsicle Cocktail. I got the pumpkin chai flavor.

photo8

It’s a pumpkin chai popsicle served in sparkling wine. The popsicle melts down and you have a fun cocktail. It’s definitely a fun and unique drink. Flavor wise I think it could be a bit better.

For lunch I had the Holy Guacamole Mezrah. Turkey, muenster cheese, cole slaw and Russian dressing on country white bread. Very good. I love how they put tons of meat on their sandwiches, but I actually wish there had been less on this sandwich. I wanted to tasted all of the flavors together, but there was only a small hint of the cole slaw and Russian dressing. I had a few bites of Tamsyn’s Havana Hottie too, which was soooo good!

photo12

Tamsyn was in need of some furniture so we explored a few local shops before hitting up International. I always say I need to visit Tampa more often…there are so many cute little stores that I want to stop into! And warning for any shoppers…looks like malls are going to be terribly crowded until Christmas. International was crazy! Or maybe it was because it was Black Friday weekend?

Side note…I took this cutie with me to CrossFit the other day.

photo1

She was really good. I tied her up by the door and she just laid down and watched us the whole time. Probably thinking “What the hell is Mom doing?”

photo2

Do you take your dog to workout with you? Or do you workout with your dog at all? I’ve taken Maddie on a few runs…nothing over 3 miles yet. She seems to like it!

Weekly Meals and Fitness (Nov. 26-Dec. 2)

Meals

Monday – Kale, Sausage and Bean Soup

Tuesday – Leftovers

Wednesday – Leftovers

Thursday – Leftovers

Friday – ?

Saturday – ?

Sunday – ?

Jon’s making soup tonight, which I anticipate will last us most of the week. By the weekend, I’m sure I’ll have some recipe ideas up my sleeve πŸ™‚

Fitness

Monday – No time for CrossFit tonight so tried to get up this morning…and failed. So…rest day.

Tuesday – CrossFit

Wednesday – Rest day

Thursday – CrossFit

Friday – CrossFit

Saturday – CrossFit

Sunday – Rest Day/Run/Yoga