Labor Day Weekend

I have a love/hate relationship with holiday weekends. I obviously love them because I get an extra day tacked on to the too short weekend. I hate them because come Tuesday I seem to have forgotten my head. Like forgetting my rent and certain bills that are due at the beginning of the month. Oops.

I had quite the weekend…

Jon’s sisters are CrossFit-ers and I’ve been telling them that I’d like to try it out. So Saturday morning I woke up bright and early with them and off we went.

It wasn’t nearly as intimidating as most people think it is. Yes, people do badass things like climb ropes, do handstand push ups and lift twice their bodyweight. But the friendly family-like atmosphere you get right upon entering washes away any nerves you may have. Saturday was Open Gym day at their CrossFit so Tori and Alyson formed our workout along with the coach.

In honor of my visit…”The Katie” 🙂

Do as many rounds as you can in 20 minutes.

20 calories on the row machine

20 kettleballs

20 meters of pushing weights on this thing I can’t remember the name of

20 dead bugs (similar to V-pushups)

We ended up doing 4 rounds. It was really similar to a bootcamp workout, except with different equipment. I loved it! I’m really a fan of high intensity interval training workouts so I always felt that I’d be a CrossFit fan. Before I left I tried my hand at some pull ups. I also tried climbing the rope…I was doing great until I was almost to the top and I looked down. My fear of heights kicked in and I had to come down from fear of falling. I know, I’m a wuss!

Evidence of a job well done.

I’m planning on joining a local CrossFit box here in St. Pete. I can’t wait to get started!

After our workout we decided to head across the street to this European American bakery that Tori had been wanting to check out.

Holy moly. This is not a good place to come to after a workout. I wanted to stuff my face with a tray of cookies.

Everything looked delicious. It’s actually a cafe as well and they have an awesome sounding menu.

We ended up getting a raspberry danish to take home to the rest of the fam. It was heavenly, best danish I’ve ever tasted!

After some chores and pug cuddling…

It was time for dinner.

Grilled shrimp a la Jon for apps.

London broil, roasted broccoli and roasted potatoes for the main feature.

Later that night we put on our cowboy boots and headed out for a night at Dixie Roadhouse.

This place is insane. There’s very little nightlife in Cape Coral so once this place opened it instantly became one of the top hang out places. I’m not one for country music, but the vibe of this place is pretty cool and they do play some fun dance music that’s not country. It also makes for excellent people watching. This was our second time here and we all agreed last time we went was much better. They didn’t play a lot of good music this time and it was sooo smokey I could hardly stand it. But we still managed to have a good time and ended up running into some friends we hadn’t seen in a while!

The next morning we rose early again, put on our swimsuits and headed out to board Tori’s friend’s sailboat. This boat was nothing short of awesome. It’s been in the family for years and is very retro.

Meet Captain Diesel. What a cutie! I told Jon our next dog has to be a Boston Terrier.

It was a beautiful day. We rode out to Picnic Island and grilled burgers and hot dogs for lunch. And did some jumps off the roof of the boat. Again my fear of heights kicked in, but I went for it…ugh I hate that feeling of falling!

We ended the day with a dinner of ribs, Jon’s collared greens and corn on the cob. Mmm…perfect way to end such a fun filled weekend!

How did you spend your Labor Day weekend?

Maddie’s First Week

We’ve certainly packed Maddie’s first week with us with lots of experiences.

She LOVED the dog park. More and more dogs showed up and she had such fun with her new doggie friends. She is FAST. We may need to look into some agility training…

One of the things we’re thinking of is certifying her as a therapy dog. She is just SO sweet and great around people, kids and other dogs. Such a good temperament. Jon and I love volunteering and would love to have her be a part of that aspect in our lives.

She loves her toys 🙂

We took her to Beer with the Bard with us on Thursday. The Ale and the Witch has a wonderful courtyard area and lots of people bring their dogs along with them. Very pet friendly place. Again, she had a ball. She got so much attention and just took in the scenery.

We also took her down to Cape Coral with us this weekend. Luckily she got along great with the other dogs. Everyone loved her and couldn’t stop petting her and telling her how pretty she is. I tell ya, this dog certainly has landed into a good life here 🙂

I am so in love with this photo.

We tried to go out on Jon’s brother’s boat on Saturday, but the weather wasn’t going to let that happen. We drove out to the channel, saw the looming clouds surrounding us, and turned right back around.

The pups still seemed to enjoy themselves.

We tried to get Maddie to swim in the pool, but she clearly has never been swimming before. We eased her in to get her used to the water, but I think it will take her some time to get into swimming. Maybe a beach would be better?

Later that night we had a big family/friend dinner outing to the best restaurant in Cape Coral, no joke. La Trattoria Cafe Napoli is a must if you’re ever in the area. The price point is reasonable, the atmosphere is lovely and the food is to-die-for amazing.

We started off with a variety of appetizers. Tuna Picadillo, Stuffed Plums with gorgonzola wrapped in prosciutto and Baked Goat Cheese. All delicious, but the stuffed plums stole the show.

For dinner I had the Ternera Tortellacci a la Castellana, which was handmade pasta with veal ragout, roasted garlic, plums, shallots and madeira wine. Simply divine, but not enough! I wanted more. Especially since we were such a large group (there were 10 of us) so it took a long time for dinner to come out and I was ravenous. I had little bites of some surrounding plates and all was wonderful. Unfortunately, Jon and his dad got the pork special and the pork was overcooked. I had a bit of Jon’s and the wine wasn’t cooked down all the way so it had a very strong flavor. Surprising, since everything we’ve ever had there was great, but I guess it happens every now and then.

This was another week, where my runs took a backseat. I think we’re still adjusting to our new schedule as doggie parents…so it’s been hard to schedule in a run after work and every time I’ve set my alarm early I’ve ignored it come a.m. This weekend I knew it was going to be hard to fit in my 8 miler since Cape Coral means late nights out with family and friends. I didn’t set an alarm Sunday and when I saw it was raining I thought I’d have to cut my run. But I looked at the forecast, which told me it was going to clear up so I laced up my shoes and headed out the door. Since it was later in the day and therefore more humid I decided to just do 5 miles. As soon as I started running and really felt the heat 5 miles turned into 4. And eventually 4 turned into 3. It felt like I was running through a sauna! Glad I got it in though. Now hopefully this week I can get back on track for my 10k training.

Sunday is family dinner night and we were celebrating August birthdays (Jon’s mom’s, his brother’s and mine).

So we fancied up the dining room a bit.

And had a menu of beef tenderloin, mushroom rosemary risotto, roasted asparagus and grilled Cesar salad.

And Grouper nuggets for an app.

I helped on the risotto front.

I love making risotto. It’s easy and truly a labor of love. But man do you need some arm muscles to keep the stirring up! Jon’s sister, Tori, and I kept switching 🙂

And for dessert Jon’s sister-in-law, Amanda, made a beautiful and delicious cake. I can’t remember what kind it was exactly, but the cake was made with malted milk (hence the whoppers as decoration on top) and chocolate ganache was the icing. SO good. We got sent home with some extra ganache and I can’t wait to swirl it on top of some vanilla ice cream.

We also pulled out the Pictionary last night, which is a classic game in this household. It’s so fun to play with a big group and we all really get into it.

How was everyone else’s weekend?

Cape Coral Weekend

So we meet again, Monday…

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Jon and I went down to Cape Coral since we hadn’t been in a while. It was a typical weekend filled with family, friends, fun and food.

It started with an early rising on Saturday morning. Jon was off on an all day fishing trip with his brother and friends. And I was off to volunteer at Games Day at Special Populations with Jon’s uncle, cousin and sister. Special Populations is a city run program for adults and children with developmental disabilities. Jon’s aunt goes to their day program. It is really an amazing place. It’s like going to school, where they do all kinds of activities, go on field trips and have special events like dances or dinners. I’ve never heard of a program like it anywhere else, but it’s definitely something that every city should have. Each year they have Games Day, where they have different activities set up throughout the property with prizes for everyone. It was Armed Forces day so they had fun themed activities like Sargent Says, Grenade Toss, Target Practice and a fun obstacle course.

I was a group assistant where I helped take one group around to all of the stations. You can’t help but be happy around these people. They love life and see fun in everything. It was a great morning!

After Games Day Jon’s sister, Tori, and his cousin, Alex, and I went over to his uncle’s house for some pool time. It was too hot to lay out so I just dangled my feet and stayed in the shade while watching the pups have fun in the water.

   

And tried to keep my hands out of the cookie jar.

Mexican wedding cookies are officially my favorite cookie. Anyone have any good recipes?

Then came a much-needed nap and then a much-needed burrito from Azteca. Tori and I then headed over to catch up with the boys, who were feasting on their freshly caught amberjack fish. Poor Jon was exhausted from being out in the sun all day so we made it an early night.

I did get to try this this weekend.

Tori said it “tasted like a sweet tart”, which it does. Not in a bad way though. It was good, but nothing I’d buy again. A bit too sweet for my taste, but I love that it’s only 100 calories a glass.

Sunday was pretty low-key. Lots of lying around except for washing cars. Then we did a shopping trip for groceries for a yummy dinner.

But first…we made lemon bars.

 

Neither Tori nor I had ever made lemon bars and we were combing ones we found from Martha Stewart and Williams and Sonoma (I always forget they have great recipes!). They were lookin’ a little odd to me before we stuck them in the fridge for an hour, but I crossed my fingers.

Dinner was curry chock full of veggies, leftover amberjack from the boys fishing trip and asian style tilapia piccata. Everything was so good! Curry a la Tori, grilled amberjack a la Jon’s grillmaster of a dad and tilapia a la Jon. A great mix of culinary efforts!

 

And those lemon bars?

They turned out pretty darn tasty too.

What fun things did you do this weekend?

German Food, Cigars and Boat Rides

Good morning friends! Hope everyone has been having a nice, relaxing weekend.

The Chef and I drove down to Cape Coral on Friday. We met up with some family members to have a belated birthday dinner for myself and The Chef’s brother. We were finally going to get to try this German place that his family has been raving about. It didn’t disappoint!

German-Austrian Pavilion is tucked away in the Broadway Palms shopping center. It’s a bit like BayWalk in St. Pete in that it’s practically a ghost town except for a few store fronts. This is the type of place that you wouldn’t know is here unless someone told you about it.

It is the cutest place. I was expecting hole-in-the-wall, but I wasn’t expecting all of these trinkets and fun kitschy European memorabilia hanging from the ceiling and on the walls.

  

The atmosphere was really homey and the dim lighting set the mood for a nice, intimate dinner with family, friends or a date.

They had an amazing summer special going on…for $29 you could choose a meal for two and get a bottle of wine. Crazy! I couldn’t get over how good of a deal that was.

The Chef and I each tried one of the two soups. The pancake soup, which was beef broth with shredded crepes. Very good.

And the vegetable soup, which I wasn’t expecting much of, but it was the better one! Peas and carrots swimming in a luscious cream based soup…the flavor was wonderful.

For my entree I had the “Coach Man” schnitzal, which was stuffed with prosciutto and gorgonzola. Mmm…this was out-of-this-world good. The best part? Hearing them pounding out the pork in the kitchen as they’re preparing it 🙂

I also got to try a bite of The Chef’s sauerbraten (which by the way was 100x better than Cafe Vienna where he first tried it and got “scolded” and told he just didn’t understand the dish…sorry Cafe Vienna) as well his sister’s goulash, which might have been my overall favorite.

And then of course dessert had to be had 🙂 I was so full by this point, but when apple strudel appeared on the table, looking like this…

I had just had to try a few bites! (Sparklers were courtesy of our birthday celebrations 😉 )

Although I also managed to try a little something out of this box when we got home…

Birthday gift 🙂

They’re going quick…

I haven’t had Godiva in so long…I forgot how much I love their truffles! I must admit I have become a bit of a chocolate snob though.

We pretty much passed out from food coma when we got home.

The next morning The Chef made a scrumptious breakfast…fritatta!

With a side of cinnamon raisin toast from Panera. Pretty good! First time I’ve had actual bread from there that wasn’t on their sandwiches.

We then proceeded to have one of the laziest days ever. We watched the most random assortment of movies too…Matinee, Blue Crush and Frida. We’d never heard of Matinee, but it was really good! We’d seen Blue Crush…definitely not a blockbuster hit or anything, but nothing was on…and then Frida was wonderful. We’d never seen it and while there were many um *spicy* scenes, it was very artistically done and a well done film.

One of our friends came over to join us for dinner.

Meatloaf, green bean salad with homemade balsamic and roasted potatoes.

Then it was out for a night on the town.

We went to Cigar Bar in downtown Ft. Myers, which we forgot was another place that we liked. A bit smokey inside, but if you find the right place to sit, it’s not too bad. Good atmosphere and  good drinks.

We represented all alcohol: wine, beer and liquor 🙂

We did end up going to Bacchus as well. And, much to my constant complaints, ended the night at Indigo Room *shudder*.

Today was quite the leisurely Sunday. Woke up to blueberry pancakes with fried apples and sausage.

  

And some much needed tea.

Then we stopped by The Chef’s brother’s house and got asked to join them on an impromptu boat ride. Don’t mind if we do!

  

We rode over to Tarpon Point, which I’d never been to. We pulled into a cute little shopping plaza and had lunch at Marker 92. The Chef and I were still so full from breakfast, but I knew I needed something before dinner. So I ordered a salad for us to share and a bloody mary. The salad was a bit over dressed with a citrus vinaigrette, but otherwise was very good. If I was hungrier I would have wanted more chicken, which was chargrilled and quite tasty. I also had a bite of The Chef’s brother’s pastrami sandwich, which was delicious. Not only was the meat fantastic, but the pretzel roll was really a nice addition.

Now we’re relaxing back at The Chef’s parents’ house and are waiting on a pork roast to finish cooking 🙂

On a more somber note, it is a sad day of remembrance today. I grew up close to NYC and have family there so I am familiar with the city and the tragedy that happened 10 years ago really “hit close to home”. I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. I remember standing in the hallway at school in between classes and them announcing it over the loud speakers. I remember being angry and confused and walking away from my friends to reflect by myself. No matter how close or how far away this tragedy was to you, it is still a big part of our history now. Let’s all take a moment today to remember the lives that were lost and the lives that were changed that day.

Conversation Starter: Do you remember where you were and what you were doing 10 years ago on 9/11?

Cape Coral Highlights

Cape Coral is…well…it’s Cape Coral. Residential and filled with shopping plazas it’s really not the most exciting place for twenty-somethings. When The Chef and I visit we struggle to find places to hang out. We usually end up at someone’s house or at a semi-decent bar in Ft. Myers…you really can’t be too picky in this area. But that being said there are a few select places that we do really enjoy.

Spirits of Bacchus

This is the only bar in Ft. Myers that I will step into willingly. They have an extensive cocktail and wine list, which instantly makes this wino happy. The atmosphere is intimate and the decor is classic without being pretencious. The only thing that could be a bit better are the bartenders. Last time I was there I ordered a cote du rhone. He said they might not have, but that he suggested the rose if they were out. Um, champagne?? The Chef and our friends all had confused looks on our face and instead of nicely explaining his reasoning he got a bit snippy. Still don’t understand how a rose and a cote du rhone are similiar.

Azucar

3326 Del Prado, Cape Coral, FL

The Chef and I have yet to explore and find a good cuban place in Tampa Bay…I’m sure there’s one, espicially in/near Ybor City. But until that day comes Azucar has the BEST cuban food. We go there a lot of Sunday mornings after a long night with friends for their super cheap (under $5) breakfast. Why bother looking at the menu? The usual is the Cuban Sunrise, which consists of eggs, hash browns, ham or bacon, toasted cuban bread with a side of guava jelly and cafe con leche. I can’t drink coffee/espresso (heart palpitations), so The Chef gets two, but I usualy sneak a sip or two because it’s so sweet and creamy! They used to make their guava jelly, but for some reason don’t anymore. Still good, but not as foodgasmic as it used to be. Last time we were there I was in the rare mood for a sandwich instead, so I ended up with the media noche. Pretty much a cuban sandwich, but with sweet bread. A-mazing and truly satisfying.

El Taqueria Azteca 

1918 Del Prado, Cape Coral, FL

Hands down the best mexican food I have ever put in my mouth, and easily the best I will ever eat short of going to Mexico. After first eating here The Chef and I have searched high and low for anything that compares. Taco Bus is the closest, but this is the type of food you dream of and crave for weeks. I always order the chicken mole burrito. And we always get about 6 tacos pastor. These ain’t no hard shell Taco Bell tacos…this is the real deal. Corn tortillas with meat, cilantro, onion and radish. That and a drizzle of your hot sauce of choice and you’re good to go.

Siam Hut

There are an abundance of thai places in St. Pete, but this place beats out all of them. You think to yourself, it’s just Thai…but once you’ve been here you’ll see how good Thai food can really be. It’s not just an alternative to Chinese take out. The decor in here is also impressive. I normally find thai restaurants oddly tacky with misplaced decorations. But this place is orderly and nicely decorated with intimate lighting. Best thing ever? Kanom Bieng, which are thai crepes stuffed with minced shrimp, fresh shredded coconut, bean sprouts and crushed peanuts. SO good. I’m literally going to bring their menu to our Thai go-to place here in St. Pete and demand they add these to the menu. Our entrees were Bamee Hank, which are egg noodles with bean sprouts, crushed peanuts and either roasted pork or shrimp. We went with roasted pork and it was de-lic-ious. It’s like gourmet lo mein 🙂

Then of course there’s the absolute best part of Cape Coral…

These faces…

And family/friend dinners…