Starbucks and Fitbloggin: Who's Ready?

Hello All and Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Although I have kissed the actual Blarney Stone in Ireland (said to give the kisser the gift of gab), I am far from being chatty tonight so I will let my cupcake friend say it all…

I’ve had a busy day at work and at home. At this point, I’m ready to crash on my bed right in the middle of all of my clothes for Fitbloggin that I still need to pack. Speaking of packing, I am sooo happy someone invented packing cubes – packing cubes are absolute genius! It must have been a woman who invented them, ‘cuz Lord knows that women appreciate anything that can make packing easier.

For anyone going to Fitbloggin, the closest Starbucks is .1 miles away from the Marriott. I predict that is going to be one busy Starbucks this weekend!

Ok, gotta run. See you on the flip side.

Give It Up

Today is Ash Wednesday, the official start of Lent in the Christian faith. Lent is also a time of sacrifice. When I was growing up and attending Catholic school, this meant giving up something that you love – usually a food item. Even after leaving Catholic school, I would still continue to give up something during lent – most of the time it was food-related, like chips or cookies. One time I gave up gossiping and that was very hard considering I was in my sorority-girl phase. 

So what do I give up this year?

This year, I toyed with the idea of giving up chips – after all, I do love chips. I also thought about giving up French fries – something I love, but I really don’t eat them very much. So it wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice. Instead, I decided to give up Starbucks’ Mocha Frappuccinos! That’s right, for the next 40 days (or until Easter Sunday) I will not have a single Starbucks blended coffee drink – yikes, I can hardly believe it myself.

After discussing my semi-addiction to frappuccinos with Anne this weekend, I decided that giving them up was not only a great Lenten sacrifice, but also a necessity if I wanted to reduce excess spending. It’s going to be a looong 40 days.

Also in Lenten tradition, Ash Wednesday means a day of fasting and no meat. Seeing as I didn’t eat very much for most of the day (a Luna bar and a 1/2 PBJ sandwich) dinner was my main meal of the day…

Instead of our planned cheese ravioli, Scott and I got take out at Go Roma. I had an awesome veggie panini with red peppers, onions, fresh basil, and goat cheese, plus some fries on the side. Hmm…maybe I should have give up fries for Lent 😉

For all of you Fitbloggin attendees, remember to sign up for the 5K run on Saturday morning. I’ll be there, will you?

Gotta run – Psych just started. I have been sooo Psych-deprived!

Gerber Daisies Make Me Smile

Happy  Valentine’s Day! Hope you all have someone special to share the day with.

I received a lovely bouquet of bright pink Gerber Daisies for Valentine’s Day. Gerber Daisies have been my favorite flower for years – they are such a happy flower and always make me smile!

The rest of the day was not so exciting. Scott and I worked most of the day. He worked on a big project for a client and I studied for my CPT exam. I can’t believe I’m taking the test this Tuesday! Happy Mardi Gras to me 🙂 I am so glad that I am off of work tomorrow so that I can study.

Alright, it’s back to the books for me. Have a great 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 🙁

Happy New Year's Eve!

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone! 

So, what are you all doing for New Year’s Eve? Scott and I are playing in low-key tonight. I’ve actually been sick the last couple of days (tummy troubles – ugh!) but am trying to still have fun tonight. Hope you all have a wonderful time tonight, whatever  you’re doing.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a recap 😉 Be Safe!


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!

Yoga – No Excuses

Hey There! 

I don’t know what the problem is  – yesterday and today, running has been so HARD! I could barely make it through 4 miles on the treadmill. Spring weather can NOT come soon enough!

After my mediocre run, I replenished with some Kashi Go Lean Crunch…

12.28 Kashi Go Lean Crunch

Then, it was off to my first day of work after 10 days of being off. The day was actually really good. Half the office was still on vacation so it was nice and quiet. I ended up getting a ton of things done. I hope that it’s the same way tomorrow. Plus, when I walked to my desk this morning, there was a cute little Christmas card and a Christmas tree magnet on my desk from a coworker – how sweet!

12.28 Christmas Tree Magnet

About 11 AM, I started getting a snack attack but just wasn’t ready for lunch. Instead, I grabbed a peppermint chocolate Luna bar….

12.28 Luna bar

It tasted sooo good going down, but I think I ate it way too fast because I had stomach cramps for the rest of the day, ugh!

Lunch ended up being leftovers from the other night – a little spinach risotto and mesquite chicken…

12.28 Spinach Risotto

Luckily, my stomach eased up enough to let me eat this, but then it was back to cramping again. Later in the afternoon, I found out some GREAT news! A few months ago, I mentioned on one of my posts that my office was going to offer onsite yoga once a week. Well, our office yoga starts next week – woo hoo!!! I am so excited! My colleague who is arranging the yoga class brought the instructor by my desk to introduce me. How cool is it that I can now practice yoga at least once a week and not even have to leave my office? Now I have no excuse not to practice. Hmm…I think I might have to buy a new yoga mat to celebrate!

Any recommendations on a good yoga mat????

A great thing about the yoga class, aside from it being onsite, is that my company is paying for the majority of the class. Perfect – nearly free yoga! I was so thrilled that my stomach felt a little better. I decided to splurge and have some this….

12.28 Enstrom toffee

Mmmm, melt in your mouth, Enstrom English toffee! This is my absolute favorite toffee and I only have it once a year around the Christmas holiday (good thing too, or else I’d be huge!). If you have never tried this toffee, I highly recommend it. But a word of caution, it is very hard to STOP eating it. I took two small pieces from a gift box that was delivered to our office. But, while walking to the staff lounge, I accidentally dropped one piece on the ground. I contemplated picking it up and eating it anyway (yes, that’s how good it is!), but decided to just throw it away and – what else? – get another piece to replace it!

My commute home was a breeze and I was happy to see that dinner was nearly ready when I arrived. It was a basil chicken stir fry kind of a night…

12.28 chicken stirfry 1 good, and not too spicy, which was good for my tummy…

12.28 chicken stir fry 3

Scott’s parents are taking us and Scott’s brother and sister-in-law out for an early New Year’s dinner tomorrow night. Can’t wait!

Have a great night everyone and see you tomorrow.

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!

Christmas Goodies

Happy Day After Christmas Everyone!

From the looks of your posts (or lack of them 😉 ) I gather that all of you were doing quite a bit of merry making and rightly so. I, of course, did quite a bit of celebrating myself. Instead of giving you every detail about the last three days, I’ll just give you the highlights starting with Christmas.

I can hardly believe it, but it ended up being 45 degrees and sunny on Christmas morning in Chicago!! I was absolutely thrilled to be able to run outside on Christmas. It felt awesome to breathe in the cool, crisp air, and see the glistening snow in the trees. After my run, I enjoyed a fantastic breakfast – a 3-egg omelette (1 egg and 2 egg whites) courtesy of my egg-loving husband…

12.25 Christmas omelette 2

He put all sorts of goodies in it too, like broccoli, red peppers, mushrooms, spinach, and cheddar cheese – I’m such a lucky girl!

12.25 Christmas omelette

Then it was PRESENT time!! Most of the gifts I gave to Scott came from JCrew, that’s what he likes, so that’s what he gets. In turn, most of MY gifts came from Anthropologie. I LOVE Anthropologie but rarely buy anything there because their items are so expensive. I think that’s why Scott shops there for my birthday and Christmas because he knows that I won’t spend the money on myself.

For starters, I received some cool European-esque dish towels…

12.25 Anthropologie towels

I feel like we go through a ton of dish towels each week so these were a very welcome gift. Next up were some cute little bejeweled hair clips…

12.25 Anthropologie hair pins

He knows me so well and knew that I would fall in love with these little darlings. He also gave me a very trendy cupcake book…

12.25 Anthropologie cupcake book2

Surprisingly, there was no red velvet cupcake recipe to speak of. I find that very odd – how can you do a gourmet cupcake cookbook and NOT include a red velvet cupcake? It is still a very sweet book though! I can’t wait to make some of these cupcakes, especially because I can put them on my brand new Anthropologie plates…

12.25 Anthropologie plate 1

12.25 Anthropologie plate 2

Oh my, was I ever having fun opening these presents! And, last but not least, came my favorite gift of all…

12.25 Anthropologie teacup 1

A new tea cup! Scott knows that I’ve been wanting a new tea cup for work and for home. I kept saying how I needed to find just the right cup, not too big, not too small, and just the right design. I definitely won the lottery with this little cutie!

12.25 Anthropologie teacup 3 The detail around the cup is fantastic – especially the cute little flower by the handle as well as the inside design…

12.25 Anthropologie teacup 2

Ok, how lucky am I to have a guy who can go into Anthropologie and buy frilly things for his wife!

I also received a very pretty top from Anthropologie although it’s too big 🙁 

After presents we hustled over to my in-laws for the rest of the day. We were having so much fun opening presents and eating that I really didn’t take many pictures. But, let’s just say I ate my fair share of dip, cheese, and cookies. I am SO feeling that today too!

Moving on to today….Saturday is normally my day to take off from running. But instead, Scott and I headed to the sledding hill for a little outdoor fun. Unfortunately, I became cold really fast (only went down the hill twice) and had to take a rain check.

I warmed up with some hot Tazo Awake tea and a few little walnut cookies…

12.26 Walnut cookie and Awake Tea

These walnut cookies, courtesy of my Father-in-law, are so yummy! They taste a LOT like mini coffee cakes, so it’s no wonder why I love them!

12.26 Walnut cookie

Lunch was warmed-up turkey chili from the freezer – perfect for a very snowy and cold day…

12.26 Turkey Chili

Then it was time for a much-needed nap. I am usually not the napping sort of gal, but I do love a good nap when I’m on vacation.

Dinner was my own creation tonight – mesquite grilled chicken with spinach risotto and sweet carrots…

12.26 Spinach Risotto 2

The risotto was especially good, although Scott thought it had a little too much spinach it it.

12.26 Spinach Risotto

Now, were eating a little popcorn and watching Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – another Christmas present.

Ok friends, that’s all for now. I want to want the rest of my movie then it’s off to bed! Have a great night everyone!

Merry Christmas From Running With Cake!

Just wanted to let you all know that I’m thinking about you and hoping you are all having a wonderful Christmas. And, for all of my Jewish foodie friends, Happy Hanukkah (belated)!

I’ll be back soon to fill you in on all of my food, fitness, and family antics, plus a few surprises 😉

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes!