Tag Archives: wine

Oh, Pens and Paper, You Make Me So Hot and Bothered

I was thoroughly excited last night to organize my bookshelf and watch Law & Order re-runs while drinking wine with Dan.

I was actually E-X-C-I-T-E-D.

Is something wrong with me? Like in a I-get-pumped-when-I-see-school-supplies kind of way?



Filed under August 2008, Eat, Pray, Run

Fancy Cheese, Wine Festival and Potatoes, Potatoes, Potatoes!


It’s been a little while since I last posted and, boy, do I have some good vacation times — food, too! — to share with you.

But first: In case you are just tuning in, I want all of my readers to understand the method behind my slightly increased madness. Starting on June 9th, I kicked off a personal 30-day health challenge based on the influence of my writing work with First30Days, a Web site devoted to helping individuals change their life for the better. I have also been reading the book, First 30 Days: Your Guide to Any Change (And Loving Your Life More) and it has bee an amazing resource for helping me along in my journey.

However, let me tell you one thing — it probably was not the best idea to kick off this change before I went on vacation, one of the most self-indulgent times of my year. It’s been a bit tough to moderate. But we learn, right?

And I have been thinking that it may have not been so bad of a thought after all because vacation is a time for self-renewal anyway, at least, that is how I look at it. So, perhaps, it was a good time — especially, a good time to learn how to better control portion sizes of foods that are not so high on the healthy list. (; I have also been working on pushing the exercise factor despite the fact that I would sometimes rather just sit and read a fabulous book.

Now, when I left you last, I was heading off to dinner. Thursday night’s meal ended up being mahi mahi, chicken, a spicy black bean rice dish and grilled veggies. I had about 2 oz. each of the chicken and fish, and 1/2 cup of rice with the vegetables on the side.

I also had a small glass of wine. Mmm … this dinner was so good.

After we finished cleaning up, we took a night ride on our boat and my mom, dad and Dan jumped in. I had a slight earache, so the water just was not happening for me that night. But I did get some funny pictures of everyone jumping in — it was chilly!

Friday was kicked off with a bowl of the usual — Barbara’s Bakery Shredded Oats with about 1 cup of 1 % milk. But I jazzed it up by adding a side of some homemade potatoes. In case you have not noticed, these potatoes are a vacation breakfast staple. They have become particularly special to the 1000 Islands because these salt potatoes — potatoes boiled in salt — are a breakfast food my mom often ate with her family when they vacationed here. And so, the tradition of yummy potatoes was passed on. Most likely, however, they are not part of a healthy diet. (: But for vacation, I believe in some exceptions, especially, family food traditions!

After breakfast, my sister’s boyfriend, Anthony, surprised her by arriving a day early. Her face was priceless!

Lunch was a bit of a repeat of dinner the night before; I had about 3/4 cup of black beans and rice with a dried blueberry-topped salad. I was trying to keep it a bit on the light side because I knew we were having “fancy” grilled cheese for dinner.

I followed up lunch with a small bit of M&Ms.

Before dinner, my mom, sister and I went for a 4-mile walk. It felt good to get out and get my muscles moving!

Now, before I move on to dinner, I think this meal requires some explanation. I call this “fancy” grilled cheese because when Dan first came to the 1000 Islands we visited this store called River Rat Cheese, — I know, what a name, right? — and he came up with the idea to buy a bunch of gourmet cheeses and great bread to make some extra-special grilled sandwiches. Not much genius thought required behind that culinary creation, but oh-my-gosh these things are fabulous! Now, they are a once a year vacation dinner requirement, and I am so thankful my fiancé established that tradition — thanks, honey! I tried to keep it as healthy as humanely possible by putting it on whole grain bread. My sandwich was a mix of garlic and chive, tomato basil, and a dash of jalepeno cheese. On the side was some split pea soup from the The Wellesley Hotel. I know it kind of looks like baby food in the photo, but the fresh peas tasted so, so good. It was topped off with sliced sugar snap peas and I ate every bit of it! I was a bit full after this one . . . to say the least.

Breakfast on Saturday morning was the last bit of my Barbara’s with about 1 cup 1 % milk. Luke tried to steal it from me, but then her realized how serious I was about this cereal, and he gave it right back! (:

My last bunch of Barbara’s was followed by a trip to a book sale in Alexandria Bay. Yay, BOOK SALE!!!!! I know, books are pretty much the last thing I need, but I figure there are worse addictions out there, right? I bought about 20 used books for $13.00! Now, that’s a bargain you just cannot pass up!

I must not have been feeling lunch much that day because I only munched on a graham cracker and bananas with peanut butter. We had an XMen trilogy fest — yes, we are nerds like that! — and maybe the intensity just got to me . . . who knows! Looking back, I went a little overboard on my peanut butter dosage for the day!

Dinner was a chicken chili that my mom concocted, and it was mighty tasty! It was chock-full of chickpeas, black beans and veggies; I also had a piece of whole grain bread dipped in olive oil. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture — I must have been so hungry from skipping lunch that is slipped my mind. Sorry!

I had to buy a new cereal for Sunday’s breakfast, and it had to be very similar to my Barbara’s. So, I purchased Quaker Shredded Oats “with a touch of brown sugar.” They are tasty, too, and I wouldn’t mind using them every now and then to change it up a bit!

Around noon, we all headed to a food and wine festival in Clayton. It was so much fun to try bits of different wines, cheese and crackers, homemade dips, bread and herbed olive oils . . . yummy!

After the festival, we walked around town for a little while, where I had a piece of shortbread from a small cafe. We then went back to the cottage for some time in the sun! Before I went outside, I had a piece of a Pop Tart. OK — pause for a second. I never eat Pop Tarts, I mean — never. And as I was eating this piece of pastry, I was thinking, “Why am I eating this?” And then, I realized: Because I can! The truth is, if I did not have these kiddie foods around me, like when I am at home, I would not be eating them. Well, lesson learned!

For dinner that night, Dan was at it again with an amazing red pepper and sliced almond turkey burger concoction. I had mine with ketchup and light mayo on two slices of whole grain bread. I also had a salad and 12 oz. beer on the side. I am usually not a big beer fan, but sometimes it sounds good to me when I am eating something like a burger. Plus, I had to try one of these because they came straight from the festival! It was good, but I did not finish the whole bottle; sometimes the fizzy nature of beer gets to my tummy! I gave about 1/4 of it to Dan, and he finished it for me.

That night, I had a bit of work to do on the computer, and while I was working I had about 1/2 cup of mint chocolate chip ice cream. So good!

Well, I don’t want to inundate you with too much food and vacation food — this is an extra long blog post!! — so I am going to leave you with a TO BE CONTINUED . . . sound good?

But before I do, a few points I want to end with —

All in all, I am not unhappy with health decisions that I have been making on this vacation. A few things I would still like to work on:

  • Eating more fruits and veggies.
  • Exercising more, and adding much more strength to my routine — Don’t forget: I want those girly musk-les!
  • Eating less sweets!!
  • I need to stop skipping meals. Even if it is only every once and awhile, it makes me feel crappy!
  • Not eating potatoes for, like, an entire year! Ha, ha, ha, ha! (:

More 30-Day Challenge fun tomorrow, but for now I am hitting the sack!

Zzzz . . .

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Filed under Eat, June 2008, Pray, Run

Broken Teeth in the Big Apple … and Thank Goodness for Cheap Wine

timessquare.jpgWhat a whirlwind of a weekend/Monday and Tuesday!

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

In case I have yet to mention it, my fiancé Dan, is a dancer. Please spare him (and me!) the jokes about the tutus and twirling — we’ve heard them all. (:

Anyway, it is currently audition season and Dan has been spending a lot of time auditioning for dance companies across the country, so he can get one of those little things called . . . a job.

So, when we found out he would be going to New York City for an audition, I was more than happy to oblige to be his travel buddy. The Big Apple (city that never sleeps, Empire State, yada, yada, yada) is, after all, my all-time favorite city.


So, we spent Friday night driving to his cousin’s house just outside of Philadelphia, so we could sleep there and only have to drive about two hours the next morning to his audition in NYC.

We slept, we ate breakfast, we drove, we got there on time.centralpark.jpg

I walked him to the City Center, kissed him goodbye, bid him merde (it’s a dancer thing) and made my way over to Central Park.

I was going to sit for awhile in the park and just take in the atmosphere, but I decided I was a bit hungry and would get something small from the Whole Foods in Columbus Circle, which is right by the park. That way, my stomach would not be grumbling, but I would be saving room for the insane amount of cheesecake that I was planning on eating later at the Carnegie Deli. Too good to even try to put into words.

So, I got a mish-mash of things to try at the Whole Foods salad bar, and happily walked back over to Central Park, so that I could sit on a rock an enjoy the beautiful day while I was noshing.

centralparkfood.jpgAnd I am eating, and eating, and eating, and enjoying, when I notice something hard in my Five Grain Salmon Salad. No big deal, I’m in New York, everything is fantastic . . . I push it aside and get a new bite. I bite down, and CRACK.

My tooth snaps in half. I mean all the way up the center. And then, it does not even break off, it just dangles there like the loose tooth I have not experienced since grade school.


So, I call mum because she knows everything and she tells me to call my dentist, so that I can obtain the emergency number. I, unfortunately, have experienced one too many tooth problems and know exactly what he is going to tell me to do anyway. So, when he does not answer, I take charge of the situation and head off to a drugstore for some denture plaster.

By the time I buy some temporary filler for the crack in my tooth, Listerine and a tooth brush to go, I end up spending about 15 bucks at the dang store.

Now, here is the kicker. Because Dan and I are attempting to save money on this adventure, we are not even staying overnight. Instead, we had planned to drive the six hours back to Pittsburgh in order to avoid spending too much moolah.

So, I do not even have a private bathroom where I can try to temporarily fix my tooth. Therefore, I decide to go to the nearest hotel, find their public bathrooom and station myself at the sink.

I whip out my filler — all for the viewing pleasure of the group of women waiting to use the restrooms — and begin to work. I am mid-rinse in the prepatory phase of my dental work, when two little girls walk up to me.

“What are you doin’?” the one with light brown hair says to me, her neck crooked as she tries to look up and into my mouth.

I explain to her that my tooth is broken and I am trying to fix it, and she loudly announces to her mother — and the entire facility — “Mom, she broke her tooth!” and points at me.

Her mother, who is pretty much disgusted by this news, looks at me with a “What the heck is wrong with you?!” face and begins to shuttle her daughters in the opposite direction.

I am now the creepy woman from New York City who this family will talk about when they arrive home. This story about the woman with the broken tooth and denture cream will be met with sighs of, “Only in New York!”

So, after becoming the image of New York that those young children will now carry with them for quite some time — not the horses, not the roasted nuts, but the girl with the tooth — the repair kit does not even work.

I give up. Instead, when I finally see Dan after his audition, we walked over to Central Park, sat on a bench, and I leaned my head back on his lap while he shoved the plaster between the new hole in my teeth.

At that point my unsanitary and obnoxious actions had really just hit an all-time high for the day, so I figured, “Why not in the middle of a major, crazy busy, people-filled park?”

So, I spent the rest of the day nursing my injury — which by the way, did not hurt — and eating as many soft foods as I could find. Good thing cheesecake.jpgcheesecake fits that description.

In between that time, Dan and I also went on a mission to track down the Trader Joe’s Wine Store because we wanted to purchase a few bottles of Two Buck Chuck, a Trader Joe’s wine that, for its cheap price of $2.99, was supposedly pretty decent. Pennsylvania stores do not allow the sale of alcohol, so we wanted to investigate a bit while we had the opportunity. We honestly walked around the general area of where the store was located for a good 45 minutes. We could not find it, and asking for help is, of course, just not an option. We were so desperate to buy cheap, good wine, you would have thought we have severe drinking problems. It was really quite pathetic.

We finally gave in to asking for a bit of help, walked another eight LONG blocks to get there and got our stupid wine. We haven’t tried it yet, but it better be really effing good.

So, here I am today.

I finally got my tooth fixed — which, by the way, did not hurt because I had already had a root canal on it — and am sitting at home. The cheescake it gone and my mouth is a bit sore. I am not in the mood for food right now.

There are, however, five bottles of Two Buck Chuck sitting on my counter.

Hmmm. Crazy tooth lady from NYC might just have to enjoy a glass . . .

Dan buying me my favorite roasted nuts the last time we visited NYC. They, unfortunately, did not fall into the soft foods category. ):


Filed under Eat, March 2008, Pray, Run

Health Check for The Day!

plates.jpgSeveral studies suggest that the size of the plate we eat on has a serious effect on our caloric intake. So, next time you are at a buffet, pick the smaller dish, such as the salad plate. It will seem like you’ve eaten a lot more than you have, and your stomach won’t know the difference. clover.jpg
Eat This, Not That

clover.jpg  Interesting, huh?

Now, I have a lot to tell you about my weekend, including a broken tooth, spending about 9 hours in New York City and walking several, several blocks for cheap (but good!) wine. I will tell you all about it this afternoon, but for now I’ve got to run!

Enjoy the day, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!  clover.jpg

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Filed under Eat, March 2008

Undo Your Belt Because It’s Time to Eat!

I am not one to go crazy with food indulgences, especially during this new path of total health that I am headed down. But I do think there is a time and place to stuff your face a bit.

Last night, I arrived at that spot.

Dan and I went out with a few good friends to the Grand Concourse, a fabulous restaurant here in Pittsburgh, PA.

And I went a bit crazy. Well, I shouldn’t say crazy. I did indulge, but I actually tried to eat in moderation (some) of the foods that were on the not-so-good-for-me-list.

Appetizer was a seafood platter and Brie, then a salad and bread. Dinner was crab-encrusted Mahi Mahi with rice pilaf, asparagus and two glasses of wine. And, then . . . drum roll please . . . came DESSERT!!


This ridiculously good dessert is called the chocolate truffle cake, but I just call it the ridiculously good dessert. I absolutely love this oh-so-wonderful creation.

However, here is the thing: I left the restaurant, and did not feel full or stuffed to the max. I felt like I had indulged, but within reason, and that was a much better feeling than going home so full that I am in pain.

I love to eat. But, like last night, I am trying to learn to take less bites of Brie when I know I want dessert, or not eat ALL of the 2 pounds of rice on my plate. Ya know?

So, what are your indulgences? Do you plan on indulging this weekend? If so, how have you learned to moderate your extravagant choices a bit in order to be semi health-conscious?


Filed under Eat, March 2008

Keep Bustin’ That Arse

superbowl-2.jpg Lets get one thing straight: I am not a football fan.

It is not that I do not have any appreciation for the sport … because I do.

My inability to call myself a “fan,” instead resides in the truth that I am more likely to be the girl sitting on the couch and reading a book while everyone else watches the big game.

I once joined my younger brother’s football poll just so I would not appear to be a complete party pooper. But I ended up winning, and when everyone turned away from the screen to tell me I had won a few buckaroos, I was passed out on the couch, sound asleep.

That is how much I love football.

But yesterday, I watched. My fiance and I made a bunch of snacks — my mom loves his bruschetta — and went over to my parents’ house to watch the Super Bowl, Pariots vs. Giants. I don’t know if it was the good food and a nice glass of wine, or the chance to see the underdog win, but I was actually excited to watch the game.

I found myself engaging in behaviors I did not know I had inside of me. I was yelling at the screen, doing cheerleader-esque dances, and even pointing at the television and screaming, “In your face, Brady!”

I know I was acting out of character because, at one point, I actually caught my fiance looking at me with wide eyes and a “Huh?” expression on his face.

But here is the really interesting thing that happened to me last night: I learned something from football.

Who woulda thunk it?

But I mean, if you think about it, how cool is it — unless you are a Patriots fan — that the Giants won when they really did not stand a snowball’s chance in hell? The Patriots came into the game with an undefeated season, and Tom Brady’s arm and ass — most people were positive they would win.

It was so nice to see the underdog prevail. To see them prove all of the naysayers wrong. To let everyone out there who was watching know that they, too, can say, “Oh, really? You think I am not a Super Bowl-winning quarterback? Well, here is what I think about that.”

Well, maybe not in those exact words, but I think you understand what I mean.

I felt like singing and dancing and rejoicing. I was so happy to see these people pull through; these people who, when it comes right down to it, do not play a huge part in my life.

But as I was driving home that evening — and Dan was still looking at me with wide eyes — I realized my merriment was not necessarily because of the Giants’ win. Even though I was happy for their victory, I was more glad to have one more person, group of people and cause behind me.

You see, this game, while seemingly trivial, is the reason why people like me and you succeed. Because this victory shows anyone that, as corny as it may seem, where there’s a will, there’s a way, baby.

In the end, it does not matter if the entire world tells you you are a fool. If you and I actually think our plan is unbreakable, unstoppable, undeniable, and we put all of the faith in the world behind it … well, then, there is no one to tell us otherwise.

Rock-hard ass or not.

(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)


Filed under February 2008, Pray