Monthly Archives: August 2011

A good birthday

I had a very nice birthday! I spent the majority of it alone, but have great memories of the people I met while out running errands and such.

Thank you for the sweet comments you readers left today. They made my day and were so nice to read throughout the day.

My massage this morning was awesome-one of the better ones I have ever had. It was only a half hour long, but that was the perfect amount of time to relax, get the stress out of my lower back and neck, and a great way to start my day. The massage therapist I had was really nice too.

After the massage, I went to World Market to use my $10 off b-day coupon. I picked up a cooling rack and a pretty place mat that was on clearance.

I also headed to the mall to use up some coupons. I got $20 off a $50 or more purchase at Boston Store, so I found some perfect black trousers for work.

birthday finds

I got the Clinique bonus and because I am an old lady today, purchased some “all about eyes rich” eye cream. :) It’s never too late to prevent wrinkles!

Clinique bonus fall 2011

When I was done perusing Boston Store, I went to Mayfair to use my $15 off Banana Republic b-day postcard. I popped in there on Sunday and couldn’t find anything. Today, I walked out of there with two perfumes and didn’t pay a cent for them! Hooray!

banana republic perfume

And the best part of my shopping trip was that the Apple store had my printer in stock! It took a little while to get it added onto my old order, but I walked out of there with it and was so happy I don’t have to go back to get it. It will only cost about $5 after the rebate. Score! We finally have a scanner and a wireless printer! They seem to be including these printers with any new purchase whether you are a student or not.

HP Deskjet 3054

The funniest part about the Apple trip was the funky guy I worked with had me raise my right hand and pledge to buy Apple care within the next year. Not sure I will, but it was pretty funny. He also told me that I seemed so laid back, unlike other women. Maybe he was having a bad week with his wife or girlfriend.

Once home, I made myself lunch–a whole wheat tortilla shell with provolone cheese, tofu, spinach, and tomatoes. I also had some strawberries and watermelon juice on the side.

birthday lunch

I spoke to a few friends and family in the afternoon and it was so sweet of them to call and wish me a happy birthday!

Then the UPS man came and SPREAD THE LOVE today by delivering a package from Love Grown granola! Hooray! What a great birthday surprise. :)

spread the love

Love Grown granola

I am most excited to try it for breakfast tomorrow. It’ll just be hard to decide which flavor to open first.

Love Grown granola box

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Love Grown granola

I went to the gym and when the guy behind the counter scanned it in, he said, “Happy Birthday!” and then he went over to the speakers to turn up the music. Their computer automatically plays “they say it’s your birthday” when a guest with a b-day comes in on that day. I started dancing around at the front desk and it was fun. Then the guy just kept chatting to me–he was nice.

After not getting much cardio in during belly dancing last night, I was happy to hop on the elliptical for 35 minutes and then to lift some machine and free weights.

Once I was home and showered, we went to Red Robin for dinner. Yet another freebie to use up–a gourmet burger or chicken sandwich is free during your birthday month when you sign up for their rewards card. We don’t go to Red Robin that often, but we were impressed with our meals tonight.

Craig with dinner

Birthday dinner at Red Robin

We both eyed up the Chicken Bruschetta sandwich and were glad we went with it. The flavors all blended together deliciously! When I ordered, I pronounced bruschetta the Italian way and it confused our waitress. She thought I wanted a certain salad, so I corrected her and pointed to the sandwich we wanted and then she said bruschetta the American way and it all made sense to her.

Red Robin Chicken Bruschetta sandwich

And I’ll end with the funny picture Craig sent to me “from the cats.”

cat birthday

31 is off to a good start! Lots of funny memories from today. Oh yeah and besides lots of people telling me I looked 21, not 31, I also got hit on during my drive to the gym. I hope I look youthful for a while and that my new eye cream helps. ;)

My 31st year and blogiversary

Today is my 31st birthday and it is also my 1st blogiversary!

I am off of work for the next six days, which makes me so happy.

I enjoyed some coffee and my favorite Chobani yogurt flavor, pomegranate, for breakfast this morning.

coffee and pomegranate chobani

I almost forgot to open my pile of birthday cards that have been arriving in the mail. I like to save them all until my actual birthday.

Birthday cards

This one from my friend Loni is perfect for me!

Birthday Yoga card

Especially because I just started meditating this year.

The Birthday Wish meditation

birthday card inside

I better get ready to head out of the house! I am getting a half hour massage and then using some of my birthday coupons because a bunch of them expire today.

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Belly dancing class at the Y

I went to the Y tonight for a new class they are offering called ShimmY, which is really belly dancing.

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It is free for Y members to attend before the class officially begins in mid-September and then you have to pay extra for it.

While I thought it was fun to try a new class out, I don’t think belly dancing is for me. I would look at myself in the mirror and think “who is that robot!?”

This picture below is not my class, but this is kind of what we were doing. Maybe I just needed one of those things on my hips to help me move a little more smoothly?

The teacher did come around and correct us if we weren’t doing a move correctly, which was nice. She came around to me twice and I needed to loosen up the way I was moving a couple of times.

Positives:

-Loved the music. Someone asked the teacher what type of music it was and she said Egyptian.
-The instructor we had was good at explaining the moves and adjusting for our levels. It’s just too bad that I am horrible at watching teachers do the moves when they are facing a class. Luckily, someone asked her to face the same direction as us and that helped a lot.
-I also liked that she came around and corrected us. I wish yoga teachers did that more often.

Negatives:

-I’m just not a great dancer, but I think the moves are still hard to understand and do if you have never done them before. It reminded me of Zumba. Despite having good instructors and watching others, if you don’t do Zumba often enough, you forget some of the dance moves.
-Tonight’s class was simply introductory, so we didn’t really get a great workout in. I am not sure if belly dancing would make me feel like I got the best cardio workout, even if we were moving more quickly. I could be completely wrong though and shouldn’t judge after the first class.

I really wish the Y would offer an Indian dancing class because I think I would be much better at that and I love Indian music.

Have you ever tried a belly dancing class? If so, what did you think?

A package, salsa, and a fabulous new book to read!

Happy Monday evening to you!

I had a good day, except for battling back to school traffic on my way into work this morning. I pass by a high school on my way and I noticed so many cars on the road in that area.

I started off my morning with some of the Seattle’s Best level 5 coffee, which reminded me of Starbucks. Some people don’t like that taste, but I prefer a dark, bold blend of beans.

I also had plain non-fat Chobani with fresh strawberries, hemp seeds, and the last of the Trader Joe’s Vanilla Almond granola.

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Lunch was a ham sandwich topped with spinach and a roma tomato from our garden. I also had a string cheese, a red pepper from our garden, and some cucumber slices. I enjoyed the pomegranate Chobani as a 4 p.m. snack right before I left work.

My drink was a Cascal soda. I have to be honest–I didn’t love the crisp white flavor. I am hoping I enjoy the other ones more.

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When I got home from work, I received our Kodak Gallery medium hardcover photo book in the mail!

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Craig and I were both really impressed with the quality of it. I am so happy I was able to receive it as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program with Kodak. We’ll have these memories of our honeymoon to share with others and remind us of the unbelievable trip we experienced in Europe.

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The back is a picture of us pouting on our last day of our trip, in Frankfurt.

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We made salsa for dinner. We have so many different types of tomatoes and hot peppers to use up.

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Our favorite tortilla chips are these from Sam’s Club.

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It was beautiful out, so we dined outside next to our container garden.

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I went to the gym and started reading Farm City while biking. I love the book so far! It is definitely well written.

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The Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee is hosting a book club discussion on the book, so I want to read it and attend the event.

The author lives in Oakland, CA and talks about her experience farming in the backyard of her apartment. I lived right on the border of Oakland and Berkeley and the neighborhood she lives in sounds pretty close to the one I lived in in Berkeley.

Some of the quotes I can relate to so far are:

“This place, this ghetto of Oakland, California, brings out the best and the worst in us.”

(Well for me, it brought out the worst in me to be completely honest. I did feel challenged and like I was always learning something while living in the area. But, most of the time, I felt pretty depressed living in that area).

She talks about living in the Oakland hills with a pack of straight-edge vegan anarchists and says the following: “At first I thought it was cute that anarchists had rules. No alcohol. No dairy products. No meat. Then the paradox started to chafe.”

(Kind of reminded me of the apartment I lived in in Berkeley with 5 or 6 housemates at a time. This Midwestern girl did not like it when my one housemate and classmate told me that drinking cow’s milk was evil and I should start drinking soy. I did try soy out, but it seemed to upset my stomach and now I much prefer almond milk to soy.)

I can’t wait to read more of this book and go to the discussion in September.

Time to sign off of this addictive new computer and go read!

Cafe Hollander Brunch

On Sunday, Craig and I met my parents for brunch at Cafe Hollander in the Tosa Village to celebrate my upcoming 31st birthday. This is the real reason I dressed up yesterday. I didn’t dress up to go buy my new Mac, we just planned on going right to the mall after we were done with brunch.

I seem to keep wanting to hang out in the Wauwatosa village this summer. I get a nostalgic feeling from it since I grew up in Tosa until I was almost 9 years old.

Isn’t it cute though?

The top of the cream city brick building pictured above has Pabst Milwaukee on it, so we were wondering the history of the structure. It now houses Bartolotta restaurant.

I wanted something more breakfast than lunch like, so I went with a Benulux omelet which had gruyere cheese, tomatoes, & mushrooms. I also had some potatoes and toast on the side.

Craig had a breakfast burger…so a burger with an egg on top.

Dad had a short stack of pancakes.

Mom had an Avocado Chicken Wrap that she enjoyed.

Naturally, I had to “show” my mom yo mama, right up the street. My dad was kind of shocked that we would be getting frozen yogurt after just having a big meal. There is always room in my tummy for treats, especially fro yo.

I enjoyed cake batter (third time now having that flavor) and red velvet swirled with some mochi on top.

We enjoyed our brunch at Cafe Hollander and would recommend the restaurant as a nice place to grab a drink inside or outside or to have a nice meal outdoors.

My nephew’s 8th b-day party

Last night, we went to my nephew Nathan’s 8th birthday party at my brother and sister-in-law’s house.

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Nathan just got eyeglasses, so we were admiring those and how distinguished he now looks with them on. :)

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It was a Scooby Doo themed party! Who knew kids were so into Scooby again? I loved the cartoon when I was little and so did Craig.

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Nathan was so proud to show us his special recipe and have us taste his favorite pretzels. I can’t properly credit the recipe, but I believe it came from a bag or box. Kind of cute that my nephew calls it his own in a way.

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This kid is a food blogger in the making for sure!

I swung with Owen for a bit and then took lots of pictures of my nephews on the swings.

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My favorite is this picture of Nathan jumping off of the swing, like I always loved to do when I was a kid. Well, and I did it quite recently as an adult too. :)

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We enjoyed lots of yummy food.

This bean based salsa was delicious! I took this picture as a reminder to make something like this at home.

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I kept snacking and finally made myself a proper snack plate.

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I had a delicious burger for dinner. My brother grilled them outside and then put them in a slow cooker with onions and other stuff to make them nice and moist.

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I enjoyed a little Margarita that hit the spot!

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Cake was strawberry flavored with a Scooby decoration on top, naturally.

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What a fun night with family! My little nephews are always fun to be around, even if they are troublemakers some of the time. :) I just about killed Owen and so did everyone else when he almost dumped our Canon DSLR onto the deck. It would have totally crashed and been broken if it hadn’t been for Craig and my parents saving the day!

I am now a MacBook Pro owner!

After 7 years of using an iBook G4, I finally bought a MacBook Pro today! In fact, I am blogging from it right now and it’s lovely!

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The Apple store was packed today! We learned that I wouldn’t be able to upgrade the hard drive in the store and would have to order the computer online if I wanted to do that.

So, Craig and I did need to leave the Apple store and think about the decision. We figured out how much space I would probably use with pictures and other items and I just wanted to go home with it today, so we went back in and got it!

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The staff we worked with were really nice and helpful. I also got a little tutorial on how to use the new trackpad feature, which sort of reminded me of how I scroll and such on the iPod touch.

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So happy to have a new toy to play with! I am taking off of work Wednesday-Friday this week, plus we have the three day weekend to look forward to. I will have plenty of time to learn all of the new features on my new laptop.

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Birds Eye’s Voila! Three Cheese Chicken dinner review

Thanks to the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program with Birds Eye, I tried out the Birds Eye Voila! Three Cheese Chicken dinner on Sunday. I wrote about it briefly in this post.

I received a coupon for one free product and it would have cost me about four dollars otherwise.

Birds Eye Voila! Three Cheese Chicken frozen meal

Truthfully, Craig cooked up the meal while I was working on something else, but it was really easy to make on the stovetop. He just added 1/2 cup of water like the package said to and heated it up on the stove for about 8 minutes.

cooking Birds Eye meal

three cheese chicken Birds Eye meal

The flavor was nice and cheesy. The three cheese sauce had parmesean, romano, and cheddar cheeses. I picked out something cheesy so Craig would be able to eat it too. He wasn’t about some of the vegetables, but picked them out and ate a lot of the chicken and noodles.

The other flavors that are available include:
-Garlic Chicken
-Alfredo Chicken
-Garlic Shrimp
-Chicken & Vegetables in a Pot Pie Gravy and Crust Crumbles
-Cheddar Chicken Potato
-Cheesy Ranch Chicken
-Chicken Parmesan
-Chicken Florentine
-Creamy Tomato Penne with Chicken
-Shrimp Scampi
-Chicken Penne with Vegetables
-Teriyaki Chicken
-Chicken Stir-Fry
-Beef Lo Mein
-Sweet & Sour Chicken
-Beef & Broccoli

As you may know, I don’t eat a lot of meat and I am picky about it when I do. I liked the chicken pieces in this meal. They tasted nice with the veggie ingredients and sauce.

I mentioned this earlier in the week, but I wanted to reiterate that I took the leftovers to work on Monday and they heated up very nicely too.

As the information I received from Foodbuzz states, “Birds Eye Voila! gives you a complete meal, full of quality Birds Eye veggies, proteins, and grains.” I did like that I was able to make a meal that contained all of those ingredients in only 5-6 minutes.

I’ll be honest though–the ingredient list is quite long and that always leaves me a little leery.

I also received a huge amount of buy one, get one free coupons, so I may be trying a few of the other meals, like Chicken Parmesan, in the future.

Overall, I really enjoyed reviewing this product and would recommend it to others who are looking for a complete, but easy to cook meal that they can keep on hand in their freezer.

Thanks again Foodbuzz Tastemaker program with Birds Eye Voila!

Beautiful Saturday for a B-day Cookout

Good afternoon! It’s a beautiful, sunny Saturday here in Southeastern Wisconsin. Probably nothing like the weather they are experiencing on the East Coast right now.

After clocking out of work at 12:05 a.m. and not getting to sleep until about 1 a.m., I slept in this morning, meditated, and went for a long walk with Craig. My legs were really sore from walking about 5 miles at work last night, but I think the walk actually helped a lot.

I really wanted to make it to the Eat Local Resource Fair at the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee, but walking around at a fair and being so tired after work last night didn’t sound like it would mix too well. Plus, I didn’t want to feel so rushed today.

So instead, I painted my nails this morning.

nail polish Ulta and Sally Hansen

nails

Eek, my nails/cuticles look like they need a proper manicure. Hmm…maybe on my b-day on Wednesday?

Got excited to check out the package I received yesterday.

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I won some Cascal fermented soda from Jessica at Healthy Living in America’s Dairyland. Never tried it before, but I will definitely let you all know how it is or you can head over to Jessica’s site to check out her opinion.

The sodas came in this adorable lunch bag!

Cascal lunch bag

Lots of yummy flavors to try out!

Cascal soda berry cassis

Cascal Ripe Rouge

Cascal Soda fresh tropical

Then we went to Barnes and Noble to get my nephew a gift card. I’m glad he is getting into reading and I want to encourage it with this gift card. I definitely was very into reading at his age (going into 2nd grade) and now I am a lifelong reader. It also helped my spelling skills!

Barnes and Noble gift card

And to the grocery store to pick up some good deals.

I picked up two Protein Plus PowerBars that ended up being totally free with coupons I found in Women’s Health magazine.

PowerBar

I used a $1.50 off coupon for some Seattle’s Best coffee.

Seattle's Best coffee

And I used one of my free Chobani coupons the company sent after I had a bad experience with a raspberry flavored yogurt a couple of weeks ago. Great customer service on Chobani’s part–I was impressed. Now I get to have one of my favorite flavors, pomegranate, for lunch this week.

Chobani coupon and yogurt

I’m quickly writing this post while watching America’s Test Kitchen. It’s an episode focused on chicken, which is sort of grossing me out. I still like learning things from the show though, even when it is very meat based cooking featured most of the time.

America's Test Kitchen

America's test kitchen

We’re off to a cookout for my nephew’s 8th b-day party this afternoon! Can’t wait to sit outside and enjoy a hamburger. I think this flexitarian is actually going to have a burger and hope it doesn’t affect my stomach. I have been craving meat all week.

Hope your weekend has been relaxing and fun so far!

Birds Eye Chef’s Favorites Review

I love reviewing new products. These Birds Eye Chef’s Favorites vegetable dishes don’t come out until September and when I got the opportunity to try them out through the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, I was excited to preview them.

I’ll be honest, I don’t really buy frozen meals that often, but these impressed me.

I received four bags to try out:

-Lightly Sauced Creamed Spinach
-Lightly Sauced Primavera Vegetable Risotto. A creamy risotto, with sweet green peas and tender carrots, with light notes of Parmesan cheese.
-Lightly Sauced Roasted Red Potatoes & Green Beans with Parmesan Olive Oil Sauce. Whole green beans and roasted baby red potatoes, lightly tossed in a Parmesan cheese and olive oil sauce.
-Lightly Sauced Mushroom & Green Bean Risotto made with savory mushrooms and cut green beans.

For dinner last night, I warmed up a bag of roasted potatoes with green beans. I also cooked up some tofu on the stove for my protein.

tofu and Birds Eye steamfresh

Birds Eye Lightly Sauced Steamfresh

I felt rushed last night because I have had a major craving for chocolate chip cookies all week and decided to bake those, while making this dinner simultaneously. The meal was the perfect solution for my rushed feeling! A delicious meal was ready pretty quickly.

I loved the flavor of the green beans and roasted potatoes. The sauce was light, just like the package said, but very tasty.

Here are the Nutrition Facts.

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I warmed it up in the microwave, which was so nice and easy!

Birds Eye

tofu and Birds Eye

I also ate the leftovers for lunch today and they still tasted delicious.

Tonight, I was sort of rushed again because I wanted to make it to yoga, so I tried the Primavera Vegetable Risotto.

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Steamfresh Chef's Favorites Birds Eye

Birds Eye Steamfresh Chef's Favorites

I just had that all alone and loved the taste of that meal too.

Birds Eye meal

Birds Eye Chef's Favorite risotto

Nutrition Facts on the Birds Eye Chef’s Favorites Primavera Vegetable Risotto.

Nutrition Facts Birds Eye Primavera Vegetable Risotto

Nutritional Stats Birds Eye Chef's Favorites

Can’t wait to eat the rest of it for lunch or dinner tomorrow!

I think these meals are really nice and convenient to have on hand in the freezer when you feel like you need something quick to heat up and don’t have the time to cook or chop.

Thank you Foodbuzz Tastemaker program with Birds Eye Chef’s Favorites! I appreciate being able to try these products out before they are in the stores soon!

Disclosure-as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I was sent four free bags of Bird’s Eye Chef’s Favorites Steamfresh bags to try. The opinions provided are my own.