Choosing to Smile

As many of you are aware, the last week and a half at work have been pretty tough.  Sudden changes and lots of upheaval have caused much sadness, stress, frustration, and feelings of being overwhelmed.  I’ve basically been feeling “magenta.”

500 points if you get my reference. I just gave you a really big hint…

Despite the ickiness, I thought I was doing a pretty good job of dealing with things.  However, this past Sunday, while enjoying our weekly swim, my mom, oh so kindly, informed me otherwise:

“Yeah, so I know you’ve been kinda down lately but you gotta snap out of it.  I was reading your blog posts from last week and I could totally notice that you weren’t yourself.  Your attitude is affecting your writing.  Those posts just weren’t your best work.”

Um…thanks?  You gotta hand it to the woman, at least she’s honest with me.

But ya know what?  I’m not all that surprised.  One of my character flaws traits is that I tend to wear my emotions on my face – joy, excitement, embarrassment, sadness, anger…chagrin – it’s all right there in my eyes, the set of my mouth, the tilt of my head.  Can’t hide it.  So, I suppose it would follow that my emotions can be, literally, read in my writing as well.

Now, not to toot my own horn, but I’m a fairly adequate wordsmith.  To know that a skill I pride myself on is being adversely affected by my mood?  I’m not okay with that.

Mom’s right, I’ve gotta snap out of it.

While we can’t necessarily help what we feel – we’re sentient beings, we’re gonna get mad/be happy/freak out every once in a while – we have complete control over the face we present to the world.  Our attitude is our choice.

Heh, heh…  For those of you who know me in real life, you’ll chuckle at the hypocrisy of my above statement.

I’ve worked for years to try to better mask the physical representation of my inner self.  To be fair, in some cases wearing my heart on my sleeve is a good thing.  For instance, my family and friends…and co-workers and complete strangers…always know where they stand with me.  But, for the most part – in the office or during a poker game – it’d be better to conceal my colorful anima.

Now that I’ve been informed of the effect it has on my writing, you better believe I’m’a amp up my efforts.

Rather than play a game of “Let’s Hide What We Really Feel” – cause, hello, that’s just being fake – I shall try to literally turn my frown upside down.  There have been studies that show the simple, physical act of smiling can actually boost one’s mood.  If we pretend to feel a certain way, we may actually come to feel that way for reals.  It’s like the adult version of playing pretend.  Cool.  🙂

Ya know, I think it works.  I’m sitting here now smiling just cause I’m writing about smiling and I’m actually feelin’ pretty good.  I don’t know if “happy” is the word for it but I’m definitely feeling more pleasant than I have for a while.  I’m gonna walk around the office today with a grin on my face in the hopes that it leads to a more positive outlook cause:

Was that a better post, Mom?

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Categories: Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Easy Pleasy

I love to entertain.  All forms of entertaining – cocktail parties, snack-y and drink-y get-togethers, dinner parties, the ol’ song and dance…

Let me entertain you…

I love it all.  I love it even more when I save myself some time and effort and make things easy.

Um…alright…given the above picture, I understand how you might misinterpret the above statement.  Keep it clean people.  I was talking about recipes, easy recipes.  Recipes that are a cinch to prep and execute and leave me more time to entertain my guests.  And I’ve got two of ’em to share with you right now cause it’s time for another addition of…

What I Ate Wednesday Easy Dinner Party!

This past Saturday night The Man and I had his sister and her boyfriend over for dinner.  This was the first time I met Sister and BF so I was a tad bit nervous…to say the least.  Not only did I have to wow them with my sparkling personality (and hope that they accepted my innate nuttiness), I also had to razzle dazzle them with my culinary prowess.

Easy recipes were most defintely called for.

For dinner I fell back on a tried and true salmon dish that has served me quite well over the years.  The original idea came from a family that I used to nanny for and it’s such an easy dinner to throw together that I almost feel “recipe” is too strong a word – it’s more of a “recip-ease.”  Yes, I just now invented that word.  OOO, I like it.  I shall add it to my lexicon.

Maple-Orange Salmon

Salmon

Orange Juice

Maple Syrup

Notice there are no measurements listed.  This is why: you use however much salmon you need given the number of people you’re cooking for (1/2 lb. per person is the standard).  You place the salmon in an appropriately sized baking dish and then you glug on the orange juice and maple syrup.  Just eye-ball it.  You want enough in there that the salmon is taking a nice little bath but you don’t want to drown the poor fish.  I usually do equal amounts of orange juice and maple syrup but you should adjust according to your taste.  I’ve used various different brands over the years but this time I used this juice…

I do not enjoy pulp.

…and this syrup.

A purchase from The Big E.

After you douse the fish, pop it back in the fridge and let it marinate for about 20 minutes to a half hour – you don’t want to let it go too much longer than that cause the orange juice will start to “cook” the fish (a la ceviche) and make it too dry/tough.  Then you just wing that pan into the oven (at 350-ish degrees) and bake it according to how big/how much fish ya got.  Et voila.  Easy.  Delicious.

The Man and I paired the salmon with a garden salad and Israeli couscous (mixed with sauteed red onions, baked-sauteed sugar pumpkin, and bouquet garni) and dinner was done.  I think they liked it.  Also, I forgot to take pictures.  Now it is gone.  Ah, well, moving on…

Dessert was a bit more of a challenge for a couple of reasons.  Not only is BF on a low-carb diet but I also wanted to try to accomodate my no-sugar thang.  I did a quick google search for low-carb, low-sugar dessert recipes and came up with this which I further tweaked to come up with this:

Low-Guilt Peanut Butter Cookies (I know, not a creative title but the best I could come up with at the mome…)

1 cup peanut butter, such as…

Don’t worry, this is the non-recalled one.

1/2 cup Truvia (or 1 cup Splenda or regular granulated sugar)

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

Trader Joe’s Organic Maple Sugar for rolling

Just mix the peanut butter, Truvia, egg, and vanilla together (seems unlikely but it will form a dough).  Roll into balls.  Roll those balls in some maple sugar.  Place on a cookie sheet and press balls down with a fork (to make a cross-hatch pattern).  Then bake those babies at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.  Et voila…again.  Easy.  Delicious.

Alas, I didn’t have a photo shoot for these cookies, either.  I was distracted that night, folks.  But I do have this somewhat fuzzy photo with the cookies lurking behind various beverages:

The remainder of the cookies on that plate were gone by the end of the night.

All in all, a successful evening.  Good company (I hope they thought the same of me) and good, easy food.  Sometimes simpler is better.  🙂

Yes, that is my beer. I drank beer. I like Blue Moon. Can you believe it? Who am I?

What did you eat Wednesday?

Categories: Cookies, Nut Butter, Trader Joe's, What I Ate Wednesday | 10 Comments

Unavoidable Lemons

I got some depressing news at work this past Friday.  Icktastic news that I’d rather not re-hash for you all.  Essentially, though, I’ve lost a part of myself and it’s made me sad.  So very, very sad.

Normally, when confronted with a situation that I find unappealing I like to employ a method entitled “Practicing the Fine Art of Avoidance.”  It’s a spectacular coping mechanism that requires one to ignore a particular situation or problem until it resolves itself, someone else fixes it, or it simply just goes away.  Easy peasey.  It is clean, efficient, and, best of all, protects one’s fragile emotions.

However, sometimes nasty stuff is unavoidable and “Practicing the Fine Art of Avoidance” is not an option.  So, how do you cope when you have to face negativity and hardship?

TCT #8: How do you deal with the negative feelings that come along with unavoidable, nasty situations?

Aside from dealing with the problem itself – let’s face it, at some point in your life you’ve gotta be an adult – here are the various methods I employ to get me through the ick:

Tactic #1: Cry.

Yes, as mentioned above, we must be adults, but, my friends, big girls DO cry.  It’s therapeutic.  It’s a release.  There’s something very freeing and soothing about letting the tears come and getting all snotty and having your mascara run and blowing through a box of tissues in 2.2 nanoseconds.  Attractive?  No.  Professional?  No.  Necessary?  You better believe it.  At least for me.

Tactic #2: Call Mom.

After I’ve cried my eyes out – or while still in the process of – I pick up the phone and speed dial Mom.  No one else in the world has the calming effect that that woman has on me.  The planet could be imploding – a scene straight outta 2012 – and all she has to say is “It’ll be alright, Baby Girl.”  All of a sudden, the clouds part, the sun goes back to its proper place in the sky, and all is right with the world.  She’s a miracle worker.

Tactic #3: Go for a run.

The act of physical exertion goes miles – heh, heh, pardon the pun – towards alleviating an emotionally hazardous situation.  Sometimes I focus on my breathing and footfalls to distract myself from what I’m feeling and sometimes I let those feelings wash over me in waves and cry and run and cry and run and cry and breathe and run and cry, breathe, run, breathe, cry…  Inevitably, I feel better after a run particularly when faced with scenery like this:

Atmospheric, no?

Tactic #4: Go shopping.

Let’s be honest: sometimes retail therapy is a must.  I sometimes try to avoid this route, but, when practiced with mindfulness and a bit of restraint, it can work wonders.

Friday’s haul.

Tactic #5: Redecorate.

Whether it be of the everyday variety…

New artwork in the living room.

…the comforting variety…

Who doesn’t love new bedding?

…or of the holiday sort…

Happy Halloween!

…a change of my surroundings is, occasionally, just what the doctor ordered.

So, darlings, what do you do when you cannot avoid the lemons that life throws at you?  How do you cope with unpleasant feelings?

What are your two cents?

Categories: Running, Two Cents Tuesday | 1 Comment

I’ve Fallen…

…into such a habit…

…that, even though Jenn and many other WIAW followers have moved on, I’m still stuck in the above series.

**My lateness to the new WIAW party might also have something to do with my recent absence from the blog world.  I apologize profusely, my darlings.  Life has gotten in the way the last couple of weeks but I am now officially back in the game blog!  Careful there, don’t fall all over yourselves with excitement.  I mean, I know it’s hard to rein in your joy at my return but we wouldn’t want you spilling your morning coffee all over the keyboard now, would we? :)**

Anywho, the aforementioned habit in question?  Cottage Cheese.

A small selection of the various brands that have been inhabiting my refrigerator shelves of late.

I blew through the tub of Cabot this past Friday – a little too watery and salty for my tastes but that didn’t stop me from eating the entire container in one sitting.  The Breakstone’s served as my Sunday night dinner and the container of Friendship was consumed over the course of two days – Monday and Tuesday nights’ dessert.  48 oz. of cottage cheese in four days.  That’s a lot of cottage cheese.

I’ve tried in vain to curb my enthusiasm…

Truth.

…for this delectable edible but it’s just not happening.  Even if I limit myself to purchasing just one tub on my weekly grocery run, chances are I’ll be making an atypical mid-week trip to the store for another 16 oz. of dairy delight.

This is not the first time I’ve had an obsession with a particular food.  I periodically go on these food jags where I am consumed by – or, more accurately, I consume – a certain food for an extended period of time.  These jags are not your everyday, run-of-the-mill binges.  They’re not a case of an “oh-my-god-I-cannot-stop-eating-this-bag-of-Chex-Mix-someone-please-take-it-away-from-me-or-it’ll-be-gone-in-zero-point-two-seconds-oops-too-late-I-already-ate-the-whole-thing-but-I-won’t-want-Chex-Mix-now-for-another-few-months” situation.  No, my jags last for weeks, if not months, people.  During this time, I simply cannot get enough of whatever food I happen to be obsessed with.  Roasted vegetables (no specific veggies or roasting method – just roasted veg in general), mangoes, roasted and salted mixed nuts, raisins – they’ve all been the subject of one of my jags.

Granted, most of my jags center on a somewhat healthy food – it’s not like I’m having a gustatory love affair with Craz-E Burgers – but too much of a good thing is still too much, right?  Probably.

Whelp, I will work valiantly to break myself of this cottage cheese habit but if I’m successful it’ll probably only mean that I’m on a new jag.  The ends of my jags are of biblical proportions in that the raisin jag begat the mixed nut jag begat the roasted vegetable jag begat the mango jag begat the cottage cheese jag.  If it’s not one fruit it’s a nut butter…but at least it’s not (and, hopefully, won’t ever be) a double bacon cheeseburger between two Krispy Kreme donuts.

Have you ever been on a food jag?

If so, how did you break yourself of the habit? – Come on, I need ideas, people!

What did you eat Wednesday?

Categories: Cottage Cheese, Uncategorized, What I Ate Wednesday | 2 Comments

If Time Grew on Trees

Happy September Foodie Pen Pals!!!

As most of you are aware, I’ve been supes busy lately.  I am in the midst of filling an enormous order for my side business and, for the past two weeks or so, my world has been taken over by paper daisies and cardstock.  On top of my normal 9 to 5…

Yup, I know, that song is stuck in your head now…you’re welcome.

…and all the other crap stuff associated with everyday life, I’ve barely had time to take care of personal hygiene…but, don’t worry, I have.

Anywho, while I was wicked excited to receive my excellent Foodie Pen Pal package from Mamie, I haven’t gotten a chance yet to try any of the delicious products she sent me. 😦

The time will come, though, when I’ll be able to dip into this wonderful looking jam…

Love the fabric cover and handwritten label – it’s all about presentation :).

…and try out these intriguing mixes from Biltmore Inspirations using the amazing looking recipes that Mamie so kindly included.

See the paper daisies hiding in the background?

I’m looking forward to next weekend when I will be done with my order and can get back into the kitchen for some baking adventures.  Thanks, Mamie!

If you would like to participate – and you should cause it’s fun and brings back the good ol’ days of receiving care packages at summer camp – here’s the info:

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.

-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!

-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!

-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)

-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.

-Foodie Penpals is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa.

-Click here for more info.

 

Categories: Foodie Pen Pals | 4 Comments

I did it! I did it!

My darlings, I feel that I deserve a pat on the back. 

If you read last week’s WIAW post, you’ll know that I am on a personal journey to rid my diet of excess sugar.  Well, I’ve gotta say that this past week hasn’t been nearly as difficult as I anticipated.  I can do this.

But…

Monday, The Man and I went to The Big E.  In the days leading up to this adventure, I prepared myself for the certainty of failure.  I was certain my “No Sugar” mantra would die an extremely rapid and merciless death once I spied the bags of cotton candy the size of my body, make-your-own slushy stations, and barrels (yes, literally barrels – big ol’ barrels) of rot-your-teeth candy. 

Here’s the shocker: I.  Didn’t.  Cave.

What?  Yup.  Aside from the 5-ton bag of Kettle Corn that I (with little help from The Man) consummed in the span of time it takes a cheetah to run down a gazelle, I resisted temptation.

Now, this isn’t to say that I ate healthy that day – of course I didn’t, I was at the sixth largest agricultural fair in the U.S. – but at least what I did consumme wasn’t dusted with my own personal version of PCP.

So, here we go!  What I Ate Wednesday At The Big E!  **I will still use the “Fall into good habits” version of the WIAW logo cause of my above mentioned success**

Monday marked my first trip to The Big E since I was about 10-years-old and I had no idea what to expect.  I knew it’d be fun, I knew I’d eat a lot of yummy things, and I knew there were rides but other than that, I had no clue.  To say that I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement.  This fair is the best thing since nut butter!

The Man had just been the week before so he already had a few items on his wish list, one of which was the stand that sells fried cheese curds.

Straight from WI?

The curds come battered and deep-fried with a side of marinara and aren’t half bad.  Not my favorite fried food of all time (and I gotta say I prefer my curds fresh so I get that satisfying squeak when I bite ’em) but worth a try.  They were sorta reminiscent of fried mozerella sticks – the curds are by-products of making cheddar cheese but they have a milder flavor than cheddar, hence the mozerella-y-ness – but with better, lighter breading.

Before diving into our next (and best) fair food, we stopped by the agricultural house were we saw some big a** pumpkins…

We dubbed this one “Jabba.”

…that sorta had the same characteristics as a morbidly obese human.

This one has gan-“green.”

Some beer was in order (to erase the image of fat, anthropomorphic pumpkins from my brain) so we headed over to the Shock Top booth were The Man got the Belgian White and I got the Raspberry Wheat.

The orange slices are a must have.

I like this beer, which means something coming from my wine-accostomed palate.  It’s super light and refreshing and just slightly fruity – it was the perfect beverage to pair with the best treat of the day…

Not to be confused with an Egg McMuffin.

…an Arepa!  I’ve never had one of these before but I hope the one we shared Monday will not be my last.  This cheesy, corn-cake concoction was to die for!

This arepa was not long for this world. We scarfed it.

The corn cakes were lightly crispy on the outside but soft and fluffy on the inside.  The cheese inside was perfectly melty and warm and it’s saltiness was the perfect balance to the sweet, corn-tasticness of the cakes.

Look at that cheesy goodness. Oh, man.

This nearly blew my mind.  Words cannot describe the deliciousness.  You must try one at least once in your life.

We filled time between snacks with shopping (loads of vendors – crafts, hot tubs, blenders, mattresses, you name it…), people-watching, rides down the Big Yellow Slide, posing for embarassing photos, and cow-cuddling…

These girls were super nice. That cow I’m petting belonged to the one on the left.

…that seriously made my day…

The girl is smiling but her eyes say “You be careful how you cuddle my cow…”

…cause who doesn’t love to cuddle a cow?

Yeah, I was excited.

All that cuddling made me thirsty – hey it was a pretty intense roll-in-hay 😉 – so we headed over to the Hofbrau booth to get a pint of Dunkel.

Handsome beer in a plastic cup.

A little dark for me but tasty in small doses – it was also the perfect match for the corned beef, saurkraut, and cheese fritters that we got at the same stand.

Our next, and I have to say most surprising, stop of the day was at the Wine & Cheese Shop.  Who woulda thought that The Big E would put on a pretty good wine tasting?  We sampled the delighful Cayuga White and Red Hen Red from Mineral Hills Winery

Bottle of red…bottle of white…

…as well as the pleasingly sweet and uniquely cloudy (due to the high concentration of concord grapes) Sand Castle from Zoll Cellars.

Love the summer-y labels.

To cap off the day we decided to get a platter of fried veggies that The Man had tried, and thoroughly enjoyed, the week before.  In retrospect we should probably have skipped this part.  Things started well, we ordered our platter from the kind veggie-daddy and waited with anticipation for the battered and fried congregation of cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, onions, and mushrooms.  After a few moments, our veggies were ready and we retired with them to the back of the truck where the kind veggie-people had set up a few tables.  Thank goodness we were hidden from the main thoroughfare by an enormous food truck because what transpired next was not pretty.

The Man kindly warned me that the veggies were pipin’ hot but in my zeal I just couldn’t wait.  I chose a zucchini to start and found it to be warm but not unbearably hot – it’s thinness aided in it cooling faster than some of the other veggie choices.  Relishing the delicious success of my zucchini experience, I opted next for a mushroom.  Folks, I love mushrooms, so I popped that whole thing right in my mouth.  Well, it was hot.  Hotter than hot.  It had not cooled yet to zucchini temperatures, probably due to its increased volume. 

Rather than remove it from my mouth until it was more palatable, I tried to employ the “wave-my-hand-in-front-of-my-mouth-while-making-an-“O”-shape-with-my-lips” cooling technique…with disappointing results.  It was around this time that The Man got up from our table to go get some more ketchup…from around the corner…out of eye-sight.  Thank goodness for small blessings because it was then that I, very unattractively, started to choke.  Legit choke.  This was for reals.  I almost needed the Heimlich.  A small Asian man at the next table took a moment to glance up from his platter and calmy ask “You okay?”  I proceeded to make some uncomfortable inhaling noises in response, which he must have took to mean I was fine cause he went right back to devoting his attention to his half-finished platter of veggies.  This was fine, however, because it was not long after when I coughed up and spit out the offending mushroom, had a few sips of beer, and commenced laughing hysterically at my ordeal – all in perfect timing for The Man’s return.

Needless to say, the veggies did not get a photo.  They are not deserving.  They are not my friends.

And that,my dears, is What I Ate and Drank at The Big E: refreshing beers, delicious curds and fritters, a heavenly arepa, unexpected wines, and a mushroom that almost killed me.  Oh yeah, and that bag of kettle corn…but my time spent with that treat is a relationship better left undiscussed.  🙂

What are your favorite fair foods?

Have you ever choked in public…or in the privacy of your own home?

What did you eat Wednesday?

Categories: Uncategorized, What I Ate Wednesday | 8 Comments

Taking a Break

I’m sorry, my darling readers, it’s been ages (well, at least it seems like ages) since my last post.  I’ve been spending a lot of time here…

Messy desk = creative mind?

…and here…

My second job – I moonlight as a crafter of fine paper products.

…and blogging has had to take a temporary back seat. 

This past Sunday, though, I was sick and tired of all forms of work and I needed a break.  It was a beautiful day – the air was cool and crisp, the sun was shining in the most spectacular way – so The Man (formerly “Winky Dinner Guest”) and I decided to leave my paper daisies at home and take advantage of late summer/early fall in New England.

We hopped in the car and headed for the shore. 

On our way we stopped off at Lyman Orchards for some Corn Maze fun.  We navigated our way in and outta that maze in record time.  My map reading skills and The Man’s knowledge of U.S. History (trivia questions posted throughout the maze help you stay on the right track) made us the perfect pair.  If it was a race, we would have won – and I have no qualms about shoving ten-year-olds into the corn  stalks in order to cross that finish line first. 

We celebrated our success with a trip to The Apple Barrel, Lyman Orchards’ farm shop…

I can eat a whole barrel of apples cause they are yum.

…and admired the pumpkin patch…

Pumpkins are also yum but you probably shouldn’t eat a barrel of them – that’d be a lot of pumpkin…

…before hopping back in the car and heading here:

You should go here.

After an idyllic walk along the beach and some playtime with the hermit crabs in the tide pools (yeah, sometimes I channel my inner child, gotta probelm with that?), we got ourselves some drinks…

This gin, Pimms, and cucumber martini sure did pack a punch…a punch of deliciousness, that is :).

…and a spot on the porch to admire the picture instagram-perfect ocean view…

Amaze-balls…

…from various different angles…

Breathtaking…no?

…and listen to the Jimmy Buffet tribute band that happened to be playing on the hotel lawn that afternoon.

We kept waiting for them to start playing Margharitaville…didn’t happen.

By this time all the maze-conquering, beach-walking, band-listening, sun-soaking, and martini-drinking had made us quite peckish so we headed over to arguably the best restaurant in the state, The Place.

Gotta love the larger-than-life menu.

If you’ve never been here before, drop what you’re doing now and go (they’re open on weekends through October, so you’ve still got time this season).  I’m serious.  I don’t care if you live in Australia, hop on a plane and head on over.  You will not be disappointed.

The restaurant is BYO-everything.  If you want drinks, bring ’em (though they do have a few choices on the menu).  If you want salads or sides, bring ’em.  If you want utensils…bring ’em.  Cause pretty much th only thing The Place provides is the absolute best seafood you have ever eaten in your entire life.  Everything’s roasted on an open fire grill…

That’s our corn getting all roast-y toast-y.

which lends an almost indescribable mouth-watering, moan-inducing flavor that you just have to experience in order to appreciate.

In addition to lobstah, shrimp, steamers, various fish, and even chicken and steak, The Place offers their Roast Clam Special…

Nom, nom, nom…

…that you have to taste to believe.  It is the #1 must-get on the menu – you’ll see why once you hop in your plane, train, or automobile and “sit your rump on a stump.”  Oh, yeah, that’s The Place’s slogan by the way cause that’s what you do when you’re there.  The tables are utilitarian slabs of wood and the “chairs” are tree stumps.  The atmosphere is rustic…

…though charming…

…cause all the energy is focused on the food.  I’ve been going to The Place every summer of my life and I plan to keep that tradition alive for as long as I can.  The food is always good, the atmosphere is like nothing you’ve ever experienced, the waitstaff does not look at you funny when you request that they burn your corn-on-the-cob, and you can throw your clam shells on the “floor” cause it only adds to the charm.  I’m telling ya, The Place is most definitely the place to be.

Well, that’s it for this random post.  It was a bit disjointed, perhaps, but that’s okay.  I told you about some great places that are all worth a visit and that’s all that matters.  🙂

I’ll leave you with a tiny mote of wisdom bestowed upon me by the Magic Hat beer I had with my lobstah the other night:

This is why you Australians should be booking your tickets to fly here and eat at The Place…now.

 **You may have noticed, loyal readers, that I have also taken a break from TCT this week.  Don’t worry, though, we’ll return to regular scheduling next week…**

How have you recently enjoyed a break from work?

Do you have a favorite restaurant that you’ve been frequenting for many years?

Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Goodbye Sweet Friend

I’m doin’ it.  I’m saying farewell to a constant companion.  A companion that has provided succor in times of need but that I know deep down is not good for me.  Of what companion do I speak?

Sugar.

Yes, my dears, I’m giving up sugar.  I’m bidding adieu to sweet, saccharine splendor.  Saying sayonara to delectable, comestible confections.  Kickin’ candy to the curb.

At least this is my plan.  How successful I will be remains to be seen, but I have high hopes.  According to WIAW, this is the time to “fall” into good habits – no better time than the present – so here I go.

Of course, I have known for quite sometime how bad refined sugar is for overall health but this hasn’t stopped me from satisfying my insatiable sweet tooth on a daily basis.  To be fair, because I live a relatively healthy lifestyle, I don’t have to worry that my sugar consumption is gonna end up killing me tomorrow but I could probably benefit from a reduction.  Therefore, I will focus on cutting out the overt culprits – candy, frosting, maybe even the occasional pint of Arctic Zero – but not stress too much about hidden sources – salad dressing/condiments, yogurt…ahem…wine. 

So, goodbye, Gummies.

Okay, I can do this…

Cheerio, Caramels.

Gah! This is hard…

May we one day meet again, Marshmallows.

What the h*ll am I thinking?!?!?!?!

I can’t promise that I won’t fall off the wagon – that I won’t heed the siren song of sweet temptation every once in a while – but this post marks an end to my daily 11:00am raid of the candy dish.  Instead, I will reach for these…

Okay, I admit, these do have added sugar but I think this qualifies as one of those “hidden sources”…no?

…and these…

I’d eat these even if I wasn’t using them as a candy substitute.

…and bask in the antioxidants and fiber that they provide.  Candy cannot compete.  But, man, it sure does taste good…  Deep breaths…  I will stay strong.  🙂

Have you ever tried to give up a food you crave?

What did you eat Wednesday?

Categories: Candy, Sweet Tooth, What I Ate Wednesday | 5 Comments

There’s No Junk In My Trunk

In my perusal of exercise/running related blogs last week, I came across a post that really ruffled my feathers.

Angry Bird.

The subject of the post is “Running Lingo 101.”  In the post, the blogger in question kindly defines some common running terms for those new to the sport and/or just unfamiliar with the terms she frequently uses on her blog.  For the most part, it’s an informative, informal run-down of some common running related words and phrases.  Fair enough.

However…

One of those terms just doesn’t sit right with me:  Junk Miles.  The blogger (I am purposely not identifying her or her blog because I don’t want to point fingers or make anyone feel bad) defines “junk miles” as “low quality runs used just to get your mileage for the week higher.”  Um, excuse me?  Hold up.  I take issue with this.  Hence…

TCT #7: Is there such a thing as “junk miles?”

To be fair, the blogger is not alone in her description of “junk miles.”  Traditionally, there have been enough runners who subscribe to this notion that it has wormed its way into the lexicon.  However, the times, my friends, they are a changin’ and this idea of “junk miles” is being exposed for the hogwash it is.

Just from a quick google search, I found valuable articles here, here, and here that serve to debunk the myth of “junk miles” and finally set the record straight: all kinds of miles are valuable for various different reasons.

I don’t care if you’re doing speed training, logging distance runs to increase endurance, or just running cause you’ve got nothing better to do – if you’re hoofin’ it, you’re hoofin’ it.  Period.

Who’s to say that if I run “just” to clear my head, enjoy a beautiful day, or spend time with a friend that the miles I cover on those particular runs are “junk?”  Did those miles work my muscles?  Yes.  Did they exercise my cardiovascular system?  Yes.  Did they burn calories and benefit my overall health?  Yes.  Most importantly, did I enjoy myself on those runs and feel good afterwards?  Yes.  Call me crazy, but that doesn’t sound like “junk” to me.

This doesn’t just apply to running either.  Any time you choose to move your body rather than sit on your tush it’s a good thing.  A 15 minute walk is better than 15 minutes on the couch.  Biking to run errands is better than driving.  Walking to your co-worker’s office to ask a question is better than emailing.  Heck, dancing to a live band at a bar is better than sitting on a bar stool.

Excellent band. Great covers. Heck yeah, I danced.

Any kind of activity that reduces the amount of…ahem…junk in your trunk is worthwhile.  The motivation behind your exercise should not define its overall value.  It doesn’t matter if you’re running to train for a race, lose some weight, or just kill time.  You’re running.  That’s it.  And that’s not junk.

Your turn, dear readers: do you believe in “junk miles?”

What are your two cents?

Categories: Exercise, Running, Staying Active, Two Cents Tuesday | 4 Comments

A Walk in the Park

Last night Mom and I met for our weekly Wednesday night walk.  I look forward to these little jaunts of ours.  It’s a nice excuse to spend time together while also getting in some exercise.

Really, any time spent with mom is a proverbial walk in the park.  Why?  Well, cause she’s my Best Mom and I love her :).  However, last night we took that idiom and made it literal.

Thank you LTC Construction Company!

One of our local parks has a Fit Trail – a half mile walk around a pond with different exercise stations along the way.  The scenery is beautiful…

The fountains add a certain je ne sais quoi.

…but it’s the exercise stations that take this walk to another level.

Fitness Trails have their origin in 1960s Switzerland but they can be found all over the place now-a-days.  If you haven’t had the good fortune to experience one, it’s basically outdoor circuit training.  Come along with me and Mom, dear readers, as I re-cap last evening’s trek.

All walks should start with some stretching, so we got that outta the way first.

My beautiful, fit Mom.

We followed up stretching with some leg swings to loosen up the joints.

Exercise Barbie at the Park.

I’m not sure of the technical term for this contraption but it sure is a good time.  Your legs go all swing-y, swing-y, back-and-forth and it feels like you’re gliding.  Even better, if you bend your knees a little and focus attention on your hip action and contracting your quads and glutes, you get a great leg and tush work-out.

The best part is that there are two of these things side-by-side, so we could chat while we swung our leggies.

Next up was this barrell-roll type thing:

Someone bring me a Margarita.

If you do this the wrong way, you feel like you’re chillaxing at the shore in a not-particularly-comfortable beach chair.  However, if you do this the right way – contract those abs, lift those legs – it’s an excellent and tough core exercise.

We meandered our way to the next station and discovered this weird turn-y, twist-y thing:

I told Mom to “look confused” and this is the face she made…lol.

Weird arm exercise?  Medieval torture device?  We couldn’t quite figure it out.

Next up, though, was an arm machine we could appreciate:

Look the muscles in Mom’s arm. She’s got some guns, I tell you!

I’m a huge fan of this contraption cause no weights are involved, it’s designed to use your own body weight as the resistance.  Also, it’s double-sided so we could continue our convo as we lifted.  One side was decidedly easier…

No sweat.

…than the other.

Feel the burn.

Further down the trail, I tested my balance…

There I go!

…and made it safely across.

Here I come!

We also did some leg lifts on the parallel bars…

Parallel bars remind me of recess in grammar school.

…and I attempted a pull-up.

This is my “not-gonna-happen” face.

Folks, as fit as I am, I cannot do a pull-up to save my life.  No, not one.  I’m workin’ on it, though.  Perseverance and persistence.  I will get there someday.  🙂

Finally, I knocked out a few sit-ups.  This resulted in an awkward photo…

Made more awkward when Mom stumbled whilst taking the photo…hence the finger in the corner.

…in which I appear to be in the throes of possession by some other-worldly creature.

Didn’t see this comin’…didja?

Notice any similarities?  Hey, at least I’m smiling in my photo.  🙂

We did a few more loops around the pond and then threw in the towel for the day.  Nice walk, fun exercises, and the best Fitness Trail companion a girl could ask for.  It was a pleasant evening, indeed.  🙂

Have you ever done a Fitness Trail?

Do you have an exercise partner that you meet for regular work-outs?

Categories: Exercise, Staying Active | 2 Comments

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