7 Reservations in 7 Days

Evening everyone! Hope you’re Saturday was fun. My day was pretty lazy. I did not end up going to yoga this morning – blah!. After running 6 days this week, plus adding weights, lunges/squats, and an office yoga session, I was pretty tired this morning. But, I did have a fantastic breakfast…

This is my second day of oats in a bowl – although today it was in a ramekin = paired with Tazo Awake tea…

Check out my new tea/coffee cup from Anthropologie! It has my initial, of course, which I absolutely love, and it looks so French. Plus, it was only $6! I could have spelled out my whole name for that price, but I really did not need 8 more cups.

Lunch wound up being a sandwich again, although this time I actually slowed down enough to enjoy it…

Much of the day was spent lounging but also doing a little vacation planning. We’re heading out the Disney World in a few weeks and we’re anxiously planning/making all of our dining reservations ahead of time. I’ve actually been making reservations for the last 3 weeks, so today when I called the dining hotline, the customer service rep told me I had over 20 reservations made under my name. Yikes! I better cancel some of those. And so, I spent over an hour trying to reconcile the reservations, deciding which ones to keep and which ones to give up. As of now, we have reservations at:

  1. Le Cellier (Epcot)
  2. Boma (Animal Kingdom Lodge)
  3. 1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian)
  4. Crystal Palace (Magic Kingdom)
  5. Chef Mickey’s (Contemporary)
  6. Whispering Canyon (Wilderness Lodge)
  7. Wolfgang Puck Cafe (Downtown Disney)

I seriously can NOT believe we will be eating at all of these restaurants – 7 top restaurant reservations in 7 days! We will definitely be making up for our Restaurant Diet!

And, except for Boma, all of these restaurants will be NEW for me – and that’s saying a lot considering I used to work for Disney. If it isn’t obvious by the reservations, we are doing the Disney Dining plan – for the first time. I’m really not sure how much money we are saving by doing this, if we’re even saving any at all. But, since we go to Disney once a year, we thought we’d give it a try.

Anyway, dinner was a brand new creation – a recipe/serving suggestion taken from the February issue of Real Simple magazine…

The magazine featured 10 ways on how to doctor up plain cheese ravioli. ALL of the serving suggestions sounded delicious, which prompted me to try one tonight. I started with Trader Joe’s mini cheese ravioli..

Which I cooked according to the directions. Then I added a mixture of cream and Trader Joe’s pesto…

I mixed the sauce and noodles together then put that into a glass baking pan. It was topped off with parmesan cheese and baked for about 20 minutes, until browned on top.

This was a great dish to make on the fly, although I’m not sure how healthy it was. I’m eager to try more of the serving suggestions the article suggested.

OK, I’m starting to fall asleep. Take care everyone and chat with you all tomorrow.

$5 Homemade Pizza

Happy Friday everyone! I’m going to make this quick because my head is hurting right now. I had a great 30-minute interval run (ranging from 7.0 to 7.6) on the treadmill, followed by lunges and squats. I know I’m going to feel that tomorrow! 


After seeing many of you starting your day with oatmeal, I’ve been craving it for days. I usually can’t find time to make it on a true workday, so I saved all of my oatmeal wishes and cashed them in today…

I actually made TWO bowls of these because Miss M quickly spied my yummy oats and wanted some. How could I say no to her big blue eyes?

As I mentioned yesterday, I had a very important call today about an upcoming, nationwide project for my company. Well, that one phone call turned into three phone calls and several emails. Taking calls on my day off can be a little tricky, especially when I’m watching the kids. Thankfully, my mother-in-law drove a hour to stay at our house while the kids napped. I was really afraid the kids would wake up while I was on the call which would make the situation very awkward. They ended up sleeping through all of the calls!


Lunch was not very healthy today for two reasons…1) I didn’t have time to make a decent lunch because I was on the phone (or prepping for the call) from 12:30- nearly 2:30 and 2) I ate my lunch super fast because I was starving after the calls…

  • Veggies? NO
  • Fruit? NO
  • A big cheesy roll with salami? YES

Again, not so healthy.


I made up for it at dinner though. Earlier this morning I picked up some fresh whole wheat pizza dough from Trader Joe’s and all of the pizza fixins’…

Could I have made pizza dough myself? Probably. Do I have time to do this? Take a guess at that answer. Trader Joe’s pizza dough is actually quite good – it IS Trader Joe’s after all. And, it’s only 99 cents. Why would I want to make my own???

Since we were splitting the pizza four ways, I had to be very careful of the ingredients. I like all types of pizza (when it’s good pizza) but tonight, I topped my portion with sauteed bell peppers, spinach, red onions, turkey pepperoni, and cheese. Sauteing the peppers, onions, spinach, and pepperoni ahead of time really helps bring out the flavors.

I think the whole pizza – which all of its ingredients, only cost about $5. Not bad for a family of four – healthy and cheap!

Almost forgot to mention…prior to pizza, we all grazed on some Trader Joe’s spinach dip…

I can seriously eat a whole bowl of this stuff by myself (but of course I would never do that ;-)). I took a few bites and then pushed it aside to save room for pizza — thankfully.

Gotta run for now. I’m going to try to make it into the gym for the 8 AM yoga session – we’ll see about that!

In a Carb Funk…

Exercise Schedule Thursday:

  • 4-mile interval run on the treadmill
  • 15 ab workout
  • 50-minute yoga session

Hello All!

Today, I learned that we are getting closer to signing a major deal that would fund a huge project – a project that I would be leading! I am so thrilled to be heading up such a major initiative (sorry, I can’t reveal what it is just yet) but I’m really nervous as well. If and when this deal gets signed, I could very well be traveling all over the country throughout the entire year! Yikes, I’m already traveling a ton this Spring – my kids and husband are going to forget what I look like 🙁 I hope to reveal a few more details as they unfold in the coming weeks.

After my anxiety-filled day at work, I stopped to pick up the kids and dinner on the way home. I did NOT get take-out – which would clearly be breaking the self-inflicted rules of the restaurant diet – but rather picked up a rotisserie chicken from The Fresh Market…

I paired the chicken with roasted potatoes and sweet carrots. It was actually a very light meal which is perfect for me because I hate eating a ton when dinner is at 7 PM. However, no one else at the table seemed to like the food – Scott turned down the chicken because it was lemon flavor (come on – who doesn’t like lemon chicken?) and the kids didn’t like anything I gave them. Oh well, more leftovers for me.

I think I may have jumped the gun a little when I said this was a light meal. What I should have said was that this could have been a very light meal…until I added some major carb action. Along with the chicken, we had some awesome cheddar cheese rolls from the bakery…hmmm, so good, even without butter. I admit, I had two of these and quickly fell into a weird carb funk that just about left me in a coma.

Despite my carb overload, I was eager to try another little goodie I picked up from the bakery…

Ahh, yeah! Now, that’s what I’m talkin’ about! If you’re going to do sugar and carbs, do it right and enjoy it! This cupcake may look normal size, but it was actually quite large. I ended up having 1/3 of it and repackaging the rest. I’m also dying to try a little somethin’ somethin’ I picked up for Scott…

It’s a chocolate chip cookie sandwich with buttercream frosting in the middle – OMG – can this get any better? Haven’t tried it yet, but I am getting very close….

Ok, gotta run so I can review a few documents for top-secret call tomorrow. Stay tuned….

Dinner for Two = $142

Last night, after my work-related event was finished, a colleague and I ventured off to downtown Scottsdale for a bite to eat. My colleague had been to Scottsdale several times before and had been raving about a restaurant there. Given that she is a foodie and somewhat of a wine snob, I was pretty sure the restaurant would be a good one – and I was NOT disappointed.

Cowboy Ciao Scottsdale

We ate at Cowboy Ciao, a very eclectic restaurant, with a mix of Southwest meets LA meets NY kind of menu. Plus, they had a HUGE wine menu, probably 3x the size of the food menu. It was easily the largest wine menu I’ve ever seen -and I’ve seen quite a few on business trips.

My colleague wasted no time devouring all of the listed wines and decided on a French white wine. I can’t tell you the name but I can tell you that it was an aged wine – 10 years old – and about $45 a bottle! Yikes – I was glad I was not buying.

1.9.10 Stetson Salad

We both ordered the restaurant’s signature salad – the Stetson Salad, which is a mix of all sorts of goodies. I can’t remember all of the ingredients, but I know there were corn nibbles, couscous, tomatoes, and chicken thrown in there. The mix of flavors was outstanding! And, because I opted for chicken instead of salmon, this salad could have easily been my meal.

But oh no, it didn’t stop there. Next, we ordered our entrees…

1.9.10 butternut squash and bacon quesadilla

By this time, I was feeling pretty full, so I wanted to keep my entree on the lighter side. I had the butternut squash and bacon quesadilla. OMG – bacon and butternut squash – come ON! Why didn’t I think of that sooner! This quesadilla was fantastic! I only wish that I wasn’t so full when I ordered this. I ended up eating two pieces and leaving the rest.

As I mentioned last night, a piece of red velvet birthday cake was the grand finale of the meal.

1.9.10 red velvet birthday cake

I know, I know, I’ve already said I was full. I should have thrown in my napkin after the entree. But, when our waiter said those magic words – Red Velvet – all reasoning went out the window.

If you are ever in Phoenix or Scottsdale, I highly recommend this restaurant. It really is a restaurant for foodies, wine lovers, and anyone looking for something fun and different. However, it is NOT cheap. Our bill came to $142 with tip – again, so glad someone else was buying!

I was so incredibly full after the meal that I had to walk around the hotel for 40 minutes when we got back. I’m so glad I did or else that food would have been laying in my stomach like a big lump all night.

Alright, I’m back in the office tomorrow so must head to bed.

Next trip – Wash, DC, in two weeks!

Calm Before the Storm

Like most of the Eastern half of the United States, Chicago is in the middle of a deep arctic freeze – or at least that’s what it feels like! Good thing I ordered my new coat from JCrew  – yeah! Now all I need is a warm set of gloves and I’ll be set for the rest of the winter.

Because we are all trying to warm up in our house, soup sounded perfect for tonight’s dinner…

1.6.10 Chicken soup 3

Seriously, chicken noodle soup is like the edible version of a big fuzzy sweater or a huge bear hug – warm and cozy I tell ya!

Around midnight tonight, Chicago is supposed to start getting snow. Not just any snow but SNOW! From midnight until Friday morning we are supposed to get anywhere between 6 and 12 inches of snow. I know, you probably think that Chicagoans are used to snow. And, for the most part, we are. But when snow falls that hard, that fast, it can really cause trouble on the roads – whether you’re used to driving in the snow or not.

For the most part, I don’t mind the snow – when I don’t have to leave my house and venture into it. But when I know that I’m supposed to go to work the next day, I get quite anxious before the storm hits. I spend all day listening to and reading the weather reports. Then I practically have an anxiety attack thinking about how long it’s going to take me to get to and from work (usually 2-3 hours each way in bad snow). 

So to calm myself down this evening, I chilled out with my new tres chic calendar…

1.6.10 French Women for All Seasons Calendar 3

The 2010 engagement calendar/planner is actually based on the popular book, French Women For All Seasons, by Mireille Guiliano. She also is the author of the fabulous book, French Women Don’t Get Fat, which I adore! The planner has large calendar pages interspersed with recipes from Guiliano’s books as well as French language lessons, and other surprises. Plus, it has colorful, French-themed illustrations – how cute is that?

And yes, those are more French macarons pictured above – do you see a theme here?? 🙂

I am supposed to leave on Friday morning for my Phoenix trip. With the winter storm headed Chicago’s way, who knows if I’ll be able to get out. I hope I do because I could really use some warmer weather right about now!

Ciao babes!

Fun With French Macarons

Hello everyone!

Thank you all for your kind words about my last post and my 2 babies! I really struggled with whether or not to tell all of you about them. But then I realized that it’s really hard to talk about some aspects of my life (like travel, stress, etc.) without mentioning that I have children! Now you can understand why I’ve only been posting once a day and so late at night 😉

Anyway, the day started off per usual, with a fast 40-minute run on the t-mill, followed by a big, green, juicy pear – just ripe for the pickin’ eating…

1.5.10 Pear

And it looks too cute on my oh so pretty plate from Anthropologie!

On Friday, I will head out to Phoenix/Scottsdale for the 1st of 6 trips I have planned for the next 5 months (5 of the trips being work-related). So this week, I’m trying to get a bunch of things done before leaving the office on Thursday. I really want to use any extra free time I have on this Phoenix trip to STUDY for my personal trainer test. It’s only about 5 weeks away – yikes!

Lunch ended up being leftover chicken noodle soup from Sunday, along with another LUNA bar. I was actually in the middle of a project when I paused for lunch and completely zonked on the picture taking.

Scott doesn’t start teaching his night class until next week, so he was home tonight! Thank goodness too, because he had dinner almost ready by the time I came home from work (and from picking up Mr. C and Miss M). He made an awesome one-pot meal of sausage, leeks, and tri-colored bell peppers…

1.5.10 Sausage Leek 1

I do want to point out that I made this dish FIRST, so in essence, I taught Scott everything he knows about this lovely meal!

1.5.10 Sausage Leek 4

After dinner, I was soooo wanting a cookie or another somethin’ somethin’ from Barnes and Noble Cafe. But, seeing as we just started our Restaurant Diet, I went to freezer to see if it would magically reveal something that I like – and it DID!!

1.5.10 French Macaron 2

I bought these little beauties just before Christmas at Trader Joe’s! Who would have thought that TJ’s would have French macarons (yes, they are spelled with just one “o”, unlike American macaroons). Now I absolutely adore French macarons – love them, love them, love them! So, when I saw them at TJ’s, I just about squealed with delight. Normally, I would prefer fresh macarons from a patisserie but seeing as those are few and far between in the Chicago suburbs, TJ’s macarons would do just fine – and that they did!

1.5.10 French Macaron 5

After about 15-20 minutes of thawing, I anxiously tried the vanilla flavor. Oh my – this cookie was so light and creamy and the flavor was incredible! Since they are a Trader Joe’s product, you know that they are using natural ingredients. Plus, they are only 45 calories per cookie – perfect for a little after-dinner treat. 

Ok, enough fun with my macarons, it’s time to hit the books. Have a wonderful night!

Cooking, Baking, and Merry-Making

Hello All! So, is everyone still recovering from last night? 😉 I took it easy because I’ve been kind of sick the last couple of days. Surprisingly, I was still able to run yesterday morning – which seemed to help a little. Since Scott’s parents were coming over for New Year’s Eve (and spending the night), I split my day between errands and cooking.

After running out for groceries (I love Trader Joe’s!), I started to bake, and cook, and bake again! I think I mentioned last week that I managed to go through the whole Christmas season without making a single Christmas cookie. Well, yesterday, I sure made up for lost baking! Aside from making my usual chocolate chip oatmeal cookies (a la Nieman Marcus), I also made one of my favorite Fine Cooking recipes…Banana Chocolate swirl coffee cake

12.31 Banana Chocolate Swirl cake1

I said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t know how they can get away with calling this a coffee cake – it’s really more of a dessert!

If you can believe it, this was only 1/2 the chocolate I had planned for our New Year’s celebration. Scott has been repeatedly asking me to make chocolate mousse. I find mousse time-consuming and, unless you really know what you’re doing, it just doesn’t seem to turn out right. But, I obliged and made a simple chocolate mousse...

12.31 Chocolate Mousse

I followed the directions exactly, except for omitting the rum – because we only had spiced rum, not the dark rum that it called for. I thought is was just so-so, but everyone else seemed to like it – of course, after a few drinks, everything tastes better!

Just before my in-laws arrived, I also made a batch of Ina Garten’s cheese puffs

12.31 Cheese Puffs with bacon

Hmm, these are soo good and really easy to make. I added crunchy, uncured bacon to give the puffs a little crunch and even more flavor – fantastic!

Although I don’t eat seafood, everyone seemed to love the shrimp cocktail, courtesy of Scott’s parents…

12.31 Shrimp cocktail

Sorry – I have a very difficult time even thinking about eating these little crustaceans. 

For our main course, I suggested we have a make-your-own salad bar to offset the not-so-healthy eating that we’d be doing for most of the night.

12.31 New Year's Salad Bar

I ended up not eating a salad after all because I think my stomach troubles have been linked to salad – either the dressing or the lettuce – and I didn’t want to chance it. 

I did attempt (and I’m using that term loosely) to drink some wine, but my stomach as still cramping up – ugh! I guess it was meant to be because the white wine ended up being bad after sitting in the fridge for too long…

12.31 Toad Hollow Chardonnay

Although, how cute is that little toad! Reminds me of the Wind in the Willows 🙂

The whole evening was spent chatting, eating, and listening to music (I think a little dancing happened somewhere in between). Just after midnight, we all wanted to call it quits for the night – that’s what happens after college, you just can’t keep up with your old self anymore!

By the way, did anyone catch Dick Clark on TV last night? It seriously hurt just to watch him, I had to look away whenever he came on the screen. He did a relatively good job though, considering everything that he’s been through health-wise. 

Ok, be back later with the scoop on today – which involved more running, eating, and taking down Christmas decorations – sniff, sniff 🙁

Food Hangover

Is it possible to have a hangover from food? If it is, I’m pretty sure I have one. I think I ate the most food at one meal last night than I have in a very long time! Without further ado, here’s the scoop…

Scott and I met his parents and his brother and sister-in-law at Francesca’s Famiglia, a fantastic, family-owned bistro in the Chicago suburbs (although the original Mia Francesca is in downtown Chicago). Our pre- New Year’s dinner started with a little vino and some bread/oil for dipping…

12.29 White Wine

Only one glass of Chardonnay for me! Next up were the appetizers – crunchy calamari and bruschette topped with mozzarella cheese, basil, plum tomatoes, and prosciutto…

12.29 Bruschette

The prosciutto was a little odd tasting to me but I took it off and ate the rest of it -hmm, hmm good!

The salad course was next. I was actually going to pass on the salad, but everyone else was getting a salad – so, when in Rome…

12.29 dinner salad

I had a simple dinner salad (giving half to Scott who decided to get the minestrone soup) which was mighy tasty with its super fresh ingredients -and HUGE carrots – plus balsamic dressing. 

Now for the main course…decisions, decisions…

12.29 Francesca Menu

I was really wrestling between the spaghetti with sausage and prosciutto or the fusilli. I decided to go on the lighter side, avoiding meat…

12.29 Pasta with capers olives

Talk about HUGE portions! The fusuilli came out in a large bowl and was topped with a light cherry tomato sauce, capers, black olives, and parmesan cheese. Simple, yes, but delicious! I decided to stop half way and save room for dessert. And luckily I did, because they had banana chocolate bread pudding on the menu…

12.29 Banana Bread Pudding

This actually was a smaller dessert than I expected, but it was just right for Scott and I to share. The banana chocolate bread pudding was topped with banana fudge gelato, drizzled with cream anglaise and caramel sauce. Oh my, I could have skipped dinner to eat this whole dessert and would have been content for the rest of night! Everyone at the table split a dessert, including tiramisu and protiferoles made with pistachio gelato…

12.29 Protiferoles

The profiteroles were so cute, I just had to have a taste! Finally, when I thought we had ended our meal, the waiter brought out a complimentary round of limoncellos for the table. Sorry, I took one sip of this very strong vodka drink and completely forgot to take a picture of it!

In true Italian/European fashion, the whole meal took about 3 hours from start to finish. For the most part, I think what I ate was very healthy, it’s just that I ate too much – or at least more than my body is used to.

Ok, now I must find a cure for this possible food hangover – WATER!

Savoring my last day of vacation…

Hey all!

I can’t believe how fast the last 10 days have gone by! In less than two weeks, I was able to give the house a major cleaning, spend some quality time with my sister and her family, and celebrate Christmas. Plus, I managed to accomplish ALL of my goals for the vacation…

  • Wrap 40+ Christmas gifts
  • Sort through my clothes and household items to find items to giveaway
  • Donate items to Goodwill
  • Get to a yoga class
  • Study for personal trainer certification (although I need to study a TON more)

Not too shabby!

So, my last day of “freedom” started out like this….a fast but very challenging 5-mile run on the treadmill. It’s amazing that I can do 6 or 7 miles outside with no problem, yet 4 or 5 on the treadmill is really difficult. After the run, I enjoyed a big, steaming bowl of oats…

12.27 oatmeal

Plus, I had a cup or two of Harney and Sons English Breakfast tea – loose leaf style!

12.27 Harney and Sons English Breakfast

I go back and forth between Harney and Sons English Breakfast and Tazo Awake tea. I just happened to be down to my last Awake tea bag and thought I should save it for my first day back to work – always thinking ahead!

The rest of the day was spent cleaning and studying, including a nearly 3-hour study trip at Barnes and Noble, just for the change in scenery. While I was gone, Scott spent the afternoon making his homemade pasta sauce, which we also enjoyed for dinner…

12.27 Pasta sauce

I admit, I ate way too much of this pasta/sauce combo tonight, plus the AWESOME three-cheese garlic bread. Not to mention…fresh turkey meatballs..

12.27 Turkey meatball

Now, I’m finishing off the night with a little blog reading and cookie eating…

12.27 walnut cookie

Enough from me, gotta run so I can get some decent sleep before work tomorrow!

See you then!

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!