The Cheese Cupid

Hello All! 

I’ve been meaning to tell all of you about this great new Web site for wine and cheese pairings! The Cheese Cupid is a Web site developed by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board that helps you pair your favorite wine/beer/liquor with the best cheeses for that wine or vice versa. It’s super easy to use and it gives you photos and descriptions of the cheeses and wines. And better yet, it even has a free iphone application – perfect for when you’re running around buying last-minute party items.

A few weeks ago, the Cheese Cupid actually sent me some cheeses to try….

Wisconsin cheese

They sent a block of cheddar, edam, gruyere, and gorgonzola for me to sample. I ended up trying the edam and cheddar at a dinner party I had over the weekend. The cheddar tasted – well, like cheddar. It was good, but nothing too special.

12.21 cheese tray

However, the edam was fantastic! I have never had edam before and had never even heard of this type of cheese. It was a mix between Swiss and cheddar and was so mild yet flavorful. So yum, I wish I had more! I did attempt to use the Cheese Cupid site to pair my cheese with a recommended wine. But, it turns out, I never ended up drinking wine that night!

Ok, enough cheesey talk 😉 I had another fabulous but chilly run outside this morning! I wonder if I’m getting addicted to winter running?? 

Today, Scott and I finally bought our Christmas cards. We are just now beginning to write them out to about 50 people/families. I highly doubt any of these will get delivered before Christmas, but better late than never!

Tomorrow, I’m headed to lunch with Anne, a long-time friend and former colleague. We’re headed to Big Bowl – yummy Asian stir-fry.

Gotta run. See you all tomorrow!

Tea and Goodwill

Hello All! 

I had such a fantastic Sunday! I am actually sitting here sipping on some tea, thinking about how wonderful the day – and whole weekend was.

12.20 Celestial Seasonings Peppermint Tea2

I’m drinking Celestial Seasonings Peppermint tea tonight. I’m still trying to follow Jenna’s challenge’s of drinking tea in place of coffee (haven’t been to Starbucks since Wednesday!!). So, after yesterday’s afternoon tea, I’ve been craving more peppermint tea. We usually have peppermint tea in our HUGE stash of tea but I just couldn’t find a quality peppermint tea in the mix, until I saw this….

12.20 Celestial Seasonings Sampler

We don’t usually buy Celestial Seasonings tea. I’m more of a Harney and Sons or Tazo kind of a girl. But Scott must have slipped this in when I wasn’t looking 😉 It’s not that I don’t like Celestial Seasons. I think it all comes down to the fact that their tea sachets do not have strings. There’s something a little uncouth about having to dip into your tea with your spoon or fingers to retrieve your tea bag. Anyway, this peppermint tea ended up being just the thing I needed to settle me down for the evening. Plus, it helps that I’m also having a little bedtime treat…

12.20 Raspberry swirl cake

More raspberry swirl cake! Hmmm…so goood! And, a perfect combination with the tea.

12.20 Celestial Seasonings Peppermint

So, back to my Sunday….

Believe it or not, in spite of the cold temps (32 degrees) I went out for a 40-minute run this morning and it was GREAT! Yes, it was cold, but I bundled up from head to toe and, for the most part, felt toasty the whole time. The biggest issue wasn’t the cold either, it was watching for black ice which means danger for runners in the winter. It was gorgeous outside too – very picturesque with all of the snow on the trees and houses. 

After my run, my sister and I hung out for a bit before she, my brother-in-law, and little nephew had to get on the road to head back to Michigan. Then I mailed Shauna’h’s giveaway followed by tackling a bunch of house projects (aka goals for my Christmas vacation). This included going through all of my clothes to find those to donate and then sorting through all of my items for Goodwill.

12.20 Goodwill clothes

As you can see, I had a trunkload of clothes to donate to Goodwill, plus a bunch of household items. When you donate items to Goodwill, or anywhere else, and intend for them to be a tax write off, you’re supposed to document each thing that you donate and what condition it’s in. Imagine doing that for SEVEN full bags of clothes! I hope to drop them off at GW tomorrow. It will be so nice to have all of those things out of the house. The less clutter the better, if ya know what I mean…

Can you believe it? I am only 3 days into my 10-day Christmas vacation and I’ve already crossed two of the five Christmas vacation goals off of my list! I love it when I’m productive on vacation! Now, I just have to:

  1. Wrap all of my Christmas gifts
  2. Get to a yoga session this week
  3. Study for my personal training certification test
  4. Sort through clothes to give away
  5. Sort through and document all Goodwill items

That’s enough for tonight – see you all tomorrow!

Nutcracker Tea

Hi Everyone! I had such a wonderful and festive Saturday! A big part of my day was spending time shopping, chatting, and eating with my sister, Carrie, who drove in from Michigan for a visit. Today, we headed to a tea shop for a little afternoon tea – Nutcracker style!

12.19 Nutcracker ornament

That’s right – the tea sitting was themed after the Nutcracker and each place setting had a little nutcracker ornament for everyone to take home. It was a very nice touch. This is an annual tea that the restaurant serves around the holidays. You typically have to make reservations weeks in advance – which I did – in order to get a spot. Today, the place was packed with groups of women – young and old – many of whom were wearing fancy hats. Sadly, I was not wearing a hat, although I plan to come better prepared next year.

Our indulgences started with individual pots of tea – mine being Republic of Tea’s Lemon Wintergreen Tea. Hmm…sooo good – this may just be my new favorite winter tea!

12.19 teapot

The tea was super flavorful and the peppermint was such a nice, fresh taste to pair with the foodie items. One problem though…even though I poured with quite a steady hand, I still managed to get tea leaves in my cup…

12.19 Lemon Wintergreen tea

No matter though- it was all good. That’s the beauty of being with your sister, you can ask her to look in your teeth to see if there are any stray tea leaves 😉

12.19 Jen Tea 2 Say Tea!

Our full tea service also included a three-tiered tray full of sweet bread, scones, cookies, finger sandwiches, and chocolate-covered delights…

12.19 Tiered tea tray

Absolutely De-Lish! And so pretty for picture taking, don’t you think? On the very top tier laid two very large gingerbread cookies. I’m not a huge gingerbread fan, although even if I was, these cookies were just too cute to eat…12.19 Gingerbread cookies

The desserts included a chocolate-covered strawberry, chocolate-covered lady fingers, and bite-size brownies. By the time we got to the dessert, we could only eat the strawberries and lady fingers – oh-please, twist my arm would you! The brownies were just too much for us so we ended up taking them home for “the guys”.

12.19 tea desserr

After our very filling tea, we walked around a few of the neighboring shops. It was an absolutely perfect snowy winter scene, with the soft, fluffy snow covering the old houses-turned shops and the covered bridges. Gorgeous! But we quickly learned that we are both marshmallows when it comes to the cold so we headed back to the car.

By the way, we never ended up wrapping gifts last night, so we’re about to jump into that right now!

Have a great night!

Pretty in Pink

Hi All! Well my sister and I had fun-filled day of shopping! We found ourselves all over the place, including…

  • Crate and Barrel
  • Bath and Body Works
  • Gap
  • Ann Taylor Loft
  • Lucy 

Whew! Now were so exhausted, but not too tired to have a little late night dessert…

12.18 raspberry swirl cake

Raspberry and white chocolate swirl cake with a side of Edy’s peppermint ice cream – so yum! And I love the pink colors – how girly, don’t ya think?

Now, we’re getting ready for a little gift wrapping party – fun, fun, fun! Tomorrow, we’re headed to a Nutcracker-themed afternoon tea. I love the practice of taking tea in the afternoon – it’s so old-school British! We’re also hoping to go for a morning walk/run – although it might be too cold (30 degrees – brrrrr…)

Signing off for now, but stay tuned for pics of my cool loot from Lucy!

10 Days of Christmas Goals

Today was officially my last day of work until December 28 – whoop whoop! I LOVE being off the whole week of Christmas. It’s so nice to just concentrate on the holiday instead of worrying about work (and my commute). We used to get the whole week of Christmas off as a freebie, but now we actually have to take vacation time, other than Christmas Day.

To maximize my 10 days off in a row, I have decided to set a few goals for myself. Some of the goals are holiday related, while others are just plain goals.  

12.17 wrapping paper: http://www.flickr.com/photos/31493432@N08/3131341442

Goals for the Christmas Break…

  • Wrap the enormous amount of Christmas gifts that I have stashed around the house. Seriously, I have like 40 gifts that I need to wrap. I can just feel the pressure building.
  • Go through all my clothes and set aside the things that I want to give away
  • Take a bunch of stuff to Goodwill. It’s a tax write-off ya know!
  • Practice yoga at least once (sorry, Jenna, that’s about all I can give right now!)
  • Study for my personal trainer certification. I’m hoping to take the test by the end of January – yikes! I get nervous just thinking about it!

Ok, I think that’s enough for 10 days. So, what are your goals for Christmas break?

 My sister is in town now and we’ve got a busy weekend planned. I’m signing off for now – have a great night!

Relaxing With Charlie

Hey everyone! Hope you’re having a wonderful evening. Only 7 more shopping days until the BIG day! Just curious, has anyone out there NOT started holiday shopping yet?

I just finished a whirlwind evening of shopping, which included a stop at Trader Joe’s! Oh TJ, how I love thee 🙂 I know I’ve said this before but I’m gonna say it again, the people at Trader Joe’s are SO nice! Anyway, after shopping, I did a little LOT of cleaning! And now I’m relaxing, listening to a little Charlie Brown Christmas and lovin’ the jazzy tunes. They are actually making me quite sleepy – yawn…

charlie brown tree: http://www.flickr.com/photos/26104563@N00/3099243669

You know one thing I don’t understand about the Charlie Brown Christmas special is …Where the heck is Peppermint Patty? She’s in every other holiday special out there but, for some reason, she’s left out in the cold on Christmas.

Anyway, back to cleaning….I LOVE when my house is CLEAN – you know, the kind of clean where you only need to “maintenance” clean for a couple weeks. And the REASON that I cleaned like a mad woman tonight? ….

My sister and her husband and my two-year old nephew are coming into town tomorrow – yeah! I’m so excited – can’t ya tell? We have big shopping plans for the weekend and my sister and I are going to afternoon tea at a snazzy tea shop. Fancy hats are optional, but I’m going to try to get one ahead of time. Any suggestions for a place to get a great hat to wear in the winter?

Ok, gotta get to bed or else I may just be too tired to run in the AM (yeah, like that would ever happen 😉 ) Have a great night and I’ll be back tomorrow with more pics of my holiday lunch with my team at work.


You Know You're a Runner When…

This morning, I woke up at 3 AM unable to sleep. When my alarm finally went off for my 5:45 run, I contemplated going back to bed due to lack of sleep. As I lay there, thoughts raced through my head. I anticipated my long day of being tired and in a foul mood because of my decision not to run. This thought, combined with the fact that I still could not go back to sleep, was enough for me to get up and running, literally.

runners

This is not the first time I’ve experienced this runner’s anxiety. And, I’m sure I’m not the only runner that has felt this way. I truly think that runners are a special breed of people. Some people are born to be skaters, bikers, dancers, etc. While others are born to run – that is me. Runners share a special bond – we know what each other goes through, whether it’s the challenge of finding time to run or feeling depressed because you can’t run due to injury or some other obstacle. No matter what group or club you belong to, when you’re a runner, you automatically become part of a worldwide team – a family – of runners. But how do you truly know if you’re a part of this running family? Let’s find out…

You Know You’re a Runner When…

  1. You plan your whole week (and everyone else’s) around your runs.
  2. You wake up for your morning run after 5 hours of sleep, decide not to run, lay there thinking about why you’re not running, then get up and run anyway.
  3. The highlight of the year is either a big race  you’ve been waiting for or when the new running shoes are unveiled.
  4. On your “off” day, you feel like everyone is running but you.
  5. When going to a new city, the first thing you find out is the best place to run.
  6. At any given moment, you can recite all of the cities/countries you’ve run in and you remember those places based your running experience
  7. You are giddy when your favorite running magazine arrives in the mail.
  8. While attending a business function or party, you can easily spot the other runners in the room.
  9. You wave or nod at everyone when you’re running – it’s a runner thing.
  10. You can’t understand why people walk, when they can run.

How would you finish this sentence?You know you’re a runner when...

And so, to all my fellow runners out there – Happy Holidays and may the New Year take you back to all of your favorite running spots –  and introduce you to a few new ones too!

And Away She Goes…

Hi Everyone!

I’m so glad that you all enjoyed my tips for staying healthy and not gaining weight during the holidays. We all know that food temptations are abundant from October through December, so it either takes a lot of will power or a little planning (or both) to make sure that we’re staying on track with our health goals.

Gingy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/41754875@N00/2137900541

Case in point 

I walked into our office today to find many goodies up for grabs – candy, chips, and even individually wrapped Cheryl and Co cookies. I already know what they taste like and know that the sugar cookie with frosting is my favorite. There were no frosted sugar cookies in sight, so I passed on taking one for myself – although I did take a snickerdoodle for Scott. Was it will power? Maybe. But it could also have been that I had a big bowl of Kashi Go Lean Crunch this morning…

12.14 Kashi Go Lean Crunch

But, if it wasn’t for Kashi, I may have been all over those cookies! 

And Away She Goes….

I found out today that I am adding at least two more trips to my Spring 2010 travels. Yikes – I think I’m going to be away on business more than I’m going to be at home! Now I know how flight attendants feel – or at least a little.

So far, here are the trips I have planned:

  • January: Phoenix and Washington, DC
  • February: Orlando
  • March: Baltimore (FitBloggin Bound!)
  • April: Orlando and Miami (and I’m hoping Key West 😉 )
  • May: New Orleans
  • June: Washington, DC
  • October: Vancouver, BC

Whew! My head is spinning just thinking about it. I should probably write a few posts about how to stay healthy while traveling for business – I sure have experience with it! Although business travel is not as glamorous as it looks it in the movies, it definitely has its perks. You can be a regular traveling gourmet, eating at nice restaurants with someone else picking up the tab.  And, when you’re lucky, you can actually take in a few of the local sites.

I’ll be sure to give you all a heads up before leaving on my trips. I’d love to hear your ideas for great restaurants or sites in these cities.

Ok, I’m off to bed. Have a great night all!

Stay Fit During the Holidays and All Year Long

As most of you know, I have just begun the process for earning my certification in personal training. While in my class this weekend, I had a chance to socialize with the other students. We were all different ages and came from all walks of life. Some were changing careers, others were working at gyms and needed advanced training, etc.

Although there were different reasons why we were in training, it became apparent that we were all similar in one main way – we were all very fit and very health conscious. It was great being around others who really enjoy fitness and overall wellness as much as I do – it just confirmed that I am not the only health nut!

Jen-Chicago1

But also, it was very interesting to hear what others did to stay fit and how they cope with setbacks, like injuries, overeating, etc. This made me think of my own health and fitness habits. To keep my weight down (average 107 at 5′ 1”) and to maintain a high level of fitness, I engage in several fit behaviors and have for many years. By now, some of these behaviors are done unconsciously, but some of them I make a very conscious effort to follow. 

So, what are my fitness secrets? Let’s take a look…

  • Water, Water, Everywhere: I drink tons of water. Not flavored water, not sparkling water, just plain old water. I drink about 8 glasses (8 oz) a day, but more when it’s

    hot or when I’ve been exercising more than normal. Water helps keep me stay hydrated, of course, but it also helps me stay full.

  • Run, Baby, Run: As most of you know, I run anywhere from 20-25 miles a week, about 4-6 miles 5 days a week. I try to do other things, like walk, yoga, stretching. But running seems to be the one thing that keeps my weight down the most.
  • Give Me Strength: Aside from running, I also do strengthening exercises for my abs and legs, such as a variety of crunches and lunges. Strength training helps me build muscle and strong bones, which is definitely something I need now and will need later in life.
  • Breakfast Break: I eat breakfast every day. Yes, like everyone else, this can be a challenge, especially when I’m prone to running late in the AM. But, I find that by eating breakfast every day, I eat less calories throughout the day, especially in the morning.
  • Snack Attack: I try my best NOT to snack but sometimes it’s inevitable. When I do snack, I try to eat healthy things, like nuts, whole-grain crackers and cheese, yogurt, etc. The key word here is try!
  • Calories Count: Although I do not write down everything that I eat each day, I mentally add up my calories throughout the day. I know that if I hit a certain amount by lunchtime, that I need to take it easy in the afternoon and evening.
  • Make Adjustments: Even though I watch what I eat and exercise, there are still times of the year when I may gain a pound or two, like when I’m stressed about work or when I’m on vacation and let things slide a little. When this happens, I do a recovery effort by writing down everything that I eat for a week to see how many calories I’m really eating. Then, I make adjustments to my food intake by swapping in healthier foods, or eliminating unnecessary snacks. If this doesn’t seem to be working, I modify my exercise routine for the week by adding an extra day of running or adding 5-10 minutes more each day. By making these small adjustments, I’m usually back at my normal weight within a week.
  • Treat Yourself Good: It’s true! I eat a dessert every day! Whether it’s ice cream, cookies, or a piece of cake, if I want it, I eat it. But, that also means that I plan to eat it every day. Having treats is a part of life, so when you plan for it on a daily basis, you can cut a few calories in other places (no chips at lunch, no bread at dinner, etc.), to allow for your treat calories.
  • Healthy Happy Holidays: During the holidays, when there’s more than enough food to go around, I pick and choose my indulgences carefully. I try not to eat things that I could eat every day, like chips, cookies, etc., but save my calories for more festive appetizers that only come once a year.

So there you go! These are the basic strategies I use every day, all year round to stay healthy and fit. They may not work for everyone, but they definitely work for me!

Have a great night everyone!

 

Flexing My Runner Muscles

Only one more day to enter my Crabtree & Evelyn giveaway! Find all of the details at Bistro Chic!

Hello Everyone – 

Hey All! I’ve got to make this quick, because I have another early class tomorrow.

I had to be at class (45 minutes from my house) at 8 AM today. Ugh, getting up that early on a Saturday is NOT fun unless you are on vacation in Hawaii or Europe. I attempted to go to Starbucks for a pick me up, but after driving around for 15 minutes, I couldn’t find ANY! What’s up with that – I thought they were on every corner! All that work and I was 20 minutes late for class with no coffee to show for my efforts. Bah – humbug.

12.12 starbucks: http://www.flickr.com/photos/66208256@N00/2092989435

Well, I realized today that I really need to get back into my yoga routine. At class today, we learned all about resistance training and flexibility. I actually did the testing and was tested on. When the flexibility portion came around, I could barely reach past my feet – yikes! Granted, I am only 5′ 1” and have a very short torso, but I really think I should be more flexible than that 🙁 It kind of makes sense though – I read somewhere that distance runners are some of the most inflexible athletes. Hmm…I guess i would fall into that category – although I’m not proud of that factoid.

12.12 Yoga

But I really kicked a-s on the crunches test – I did the max you can do – sweet! 

I was soo exhausted by the time class ended. I am really thankful that Scott had a little stir-fry action going when I arrived  home…

12.11 Chicken Stir Fry

I didn’t think I was that hungry, but I just couldn’t stop eating tonight! I had two servings of stir-fry plus a bunch of ice cream (not pictured). I guess talking about exercise all day can actually increase your appetite – he he!

OK, gotta run. My class goes from 9 AM to 4 PM tomorrow, then it’s time to clean house – my big sister, her husband, and my nephew are arriving on Thursday night to stay with us for the weekend. Woo hoo! We have so much planned – I’ll share details later in the week 😉

Have a great night everyone.