July Foodie Pen Pals, Flowers, and Vegan Cake

Huge thanks to Danielle of Clean Food, Creative Fitness for including me in her Marvelous in my Monday link roundup. I encourage every one of you to go to her list and check out the posts. They are awe-inspiring examples of strength from fellow bloggers!

I can’t believe it’s already the end of July, and time to reveal what I received from my foodie pen pal this month! Lindsay of The Lean Green Bean amazes me every single time she sends out her monthly spreadsheet of pen pal matches. I don’t know how the girl handles it all and keeps it so well-organized. Lindsay, you rock! Readers, if you want to participate make sure you click the image below for more details.

This month I sent a package to Mary of Healthy Lifestyle Ideasand received a package from Shaunna of Mama’s 13 Minute Mile, who I found out (from her blog) happens to also be an outdoor yoga fan!

One of my favorite parts of Foodie Pen Pals (but probably not the most favorite…that’s gonna be the food #sorrynotsorry) is the requirement to send a handwritten note in the package. Just doesn’t happen enough nowadays!

First up, the goodies from Shaunna’s local farmers’ market!

I simply love getting local foodie treats in these packages. It makes it all the more special. I am a sucker for these Brandywine House herb and dip mixes (I’ve purchased a few before at the Glastonbury Apple Festival, still need to finish them all off) and especially can’t wait to try the spicy bleu variety. Maybe my Indian food fan blends Heather and Jenny can point me to a recipe that I could use the tandoori mix in?!

I keep forgetting that I received the Mad Mango Jalapeno Jelly by Terri’s Homegrown Heaven aka The Jelly Lady, and I kick myself each time I do. I have eaten so many good meats at home the last couple of weeks that would’ve paired great with it! MUST. REMEMBER. IT’S. IN. MY. PANTRY. I will be sure to Instagram whatever meal I use it on. The jelly seems ripe for a fish dish, yes?

I’m surprised my little brother hasn’t gobbled up all of the Planters Nut & Chocolate Trail Mix, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. Unfortunately the Blue Diamond Bold Wasabi & Soy Sauce Almonds were not my mom and I’s cup of tea, but I was super surprised that my mom was even willing to give them a shot! She’s a plain Jane almonds lover. Finally, I’m really excited to try the El Mexicano Pico de Gallo powder in one of my mom’s healthy Mexican dinner recipes. She does tacos…casseroles…quesadillas…I know it’ll be delish in any of those.

Thanks again to Shaunna for taking the time to put together  such a nice package for me!

I also want to send another thanks to the Marketing Team Leader from Whole Foods West Hartford in Blueback Square, Kristin. She was nice enough to take notice of the tweeting I like to do about their events (they even have a farmers’ market in their parking lot on Mondays) and left a gorgeous bouquet of fresh flowers from the Floral Department at the Customer Service desk for me to pick up last night before my event at Barcelona (which I am excited to blog about, by the way, but probably won’t be able to til next week). They certainly put a smile on my face!

I asked a poor unsuspecting employee to take an iPhone pic for Instagram, obviously.

Aaaand I found something pretty cool in the cafeteria at work today – my coworker’s daughter made a vegan cake and was selling slices to raise money for a local cat shelter. Not only did the cake look beautiful and contain unique ingredients like coffee, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg, but I also felt that the type of cake was the perfect match for the type of charity she is looking to support. I’ve never thought of this before, but it makes perfect sense – selling a baked good or any food that contains no animal products is super appropriate when raising money to support an animal shelter. I know that the animals typically housed in animal shelters don’t often find their way into food Americans usually eat, but I just love the idea of raising money to help animals in a way that’s as kind as possible to them, whether those specific kinds of animals are going to be eaten/have their bi-products eaten or not.

Isn’t it beautiful? She’s a little foodie!

Not saying that eating animals and their bi-products isn’t kind per say. I am certainly a carnivore more days than not. But I also still think that being AWARE is key, and in my mind, raising money to support animals by selling or using products that could contain ingredients that may have been obtained in a way that harmed them just doesn’t make sense. That’s why this whole vegan cake struck me as a really great fundraising idea and a fine example of being aware of a time when going vegan is a more appropriate choice.

I feel like I have more to say but everything has kinda flown out of my head! And I also didn’t plan on making my post this long! It’s been a busy day and I need to get back to business. And write my last summer school paper. But that sentiment just flew out of my head too, and I don’t really feel like going to get it back 😛

Don’t forget that the Mikarose $50 gift certificate giveaway ends at 11:59PM EST tonight!

Did you do Foodie Pen Pals this month? What was the best part of your package? Leave a link to your reveal post in the comments so I can check it out!

Have you ever gotten a pleasantly surprising gift from someone who was thanking you for something you did? I didn’t even think that I was doing anything that deserved a “thank you” – just tweeting and spreading the word about local, good-for-you food!

What is your opinion on being aware of “matching” a method of fundraising to a charity of choice?

Manic Monday

ZOMG. You know that song Manic Monday? This is not “just another Manic Monday”. This is THE Manic Monday. So I am just going to say a few things:

  1. I’m going to Barcelona Wine Bar tonight for a Patio Party grilling class at their outdoor seating area with their talented chef, Jason Welch. The cocktail and/or glass of wine I have will be much needed. As will that yummy food! Got any grilling questions for me to ask Jason? Comment with them here or tweet them to me by 7PM tonight (the event’s start)! I will ask him and hopefully report back with some useful tips.
  2. I guest posted for Janetha of Meals & Moves on Friday. I’m still pretty awestruck because I have been reading her blog since 2010, when I first started reading healthy living blogs. So to be writing for her still has me dizzy with glee. I shared the recipe for that red sangria I made last month and know that a few of you were looking for that, so head on over 😀 there’s also other options for drinks to order out this summer.
  3. If you  haven’t entered my Mikarose giveaway for a $50 gift certificate, you are crazy. AND you still have time (til tomorrow night at 11:59PM EST) for me to declare you sane, so go enter!
  4. I hope to do a post on Wednesday recapping my Baltimore weekend in the form of photos. Yup, Wordless Wednesday. Yup, alliteration. For an advance preview, check out my Instagram account, because I was doing mass-uploads periodically up until last night. But it was an amazing time. I didn’t miss out on a thing and am proud of myself for that.

Repping the Orioles at work today in honor of my trip!

How’s your Monday going? 

Fashion Friday: Mikarose Giveaway!

Happy Fashion Friday INDEED! Not only is it extra happy for me (I’m currently on the road to Baltimore, MD for a long weekend of restaurants, shopping, and baseball with my dad and sister), but it’s extra happy for you too because I’ve got a giveaway for you!

Showing off my necklace on Instagram!

I’ve been being a bit of a tease on Twitter and Instagram, mentioning the goodies I recently received to review from Mikarose. I have to admit that I had never heard of this clothing company until they contacted me, but I was immediately intrigued by their tagline “Reinventing Modesty”. I am lucky enough to have a fairly lax dress code where I work (OK, very lax…you’ve seen what I wear to work in previous Fashion Friday posts). However, I still can’t show up in tank tops or short skirts, so it’s nice to know there are enough sources out there for women to find modest, fashionable clothing, especially since most do not work in such a casual office like I do.

It’s nice when a brand takes the time to write me a note!

Mikarose’s helpful representative, Carlee, sent me the above card and two products to sample: a dress and a necklace (the latter of which I was able to pick out myself!)

The website’s image of the Butterfly Necklace I picked out.

Quick Instagram shot of the necklace when I received it.

The above Butterfly Necklace is only $9.99 and I love all the different materials that make it up – gold, pearls, the cloth flower! I’ve already worn it a couple of times, including yesterday! My only complaint is that a couple of times, the chain links have disconnected from each other whenever they have gotten caught on something, like my seatbelt when I put it on in the car or my hair when I am taking the necklace off/putting it back on. However, they are easy to snap back together and this isn’t a problem I haven’t seen on plenty of other affordable accessories, like those from Charlotte Russe or Forever 21. Like I said, it’s only happened a couple of times.

Yesterday’s “ensemble”.

Wore it with the same blazer…earrings…ring…watch…(it’s a diff shirt, I swear, ha) to dinner at Max Fish a couple weeks ago!

Though I didn’t pick which dress I received, I was really excited to try it on, especially when I saw that it was my favorite color pink! The piece was called the Ashley and is shown on the website with the below photo. If you click on its link you can see that it comes in other colors, like most of their dresses do.

Funny enough, I paired it with a similar style of heels in the same color! I also added a necklace of my sister’s, a Fossil watch, and the same Forever 21 ring and bracelet I wore with the necklace in the photos above. The dress was perfect to wear to work.


OK, let’s pretend we’re reading People…who wore it best? Me or Ashley? You know the correct answer. 😉


I have to admit the $44.99 price tag on the Ashley dress is a bit steep to me, given the fact that I have seen similar styles available elsewhere at a lower cost. However, there are plenty of other cute dresses on Mikarose’s website that I are more unique, like this adorable “little number” (I really can’t think of a better way to put it) called Daisy (again, perfect name).

So now I’m not sure what this chick’s name is – Ashley or Daisy?! Source

I also like the bottom of my Ashley dress. It adds a nice girly flair.


The fabric was really breathable and soft! I felt comfortable in my dress all day long.

I’ve gone on long enough – you want to know what the giveaway’s all about, right? One lucky Cait Plus Ate reader will win a $50 gift certificate to Mikarose! This is open to US and Canada residents only and will run until Tuesday 7/31/12, 11:59PM EST.

Here’s how to enter (leave a comment for each or extra entries will not count):Comment on this post with a link to an item from Mikarose’s website that you’d like to buy if you win the gift certificate!

  1. Mandatory: Comment on this post with a link to an item from Mikarose’s website that you would buy if you won.
  2. Follow Mikarose on Pinterest and repin your favorite item to one of your boards. Comment with the link to the repin.
  3. Follow Mikarose on Twitter and tweet the following: “I’m entered to win $50 to @Mikarose25 from @CaitPlusAte! http://wp.me/p1SfTW-1cN” – comment with your link to the tweet.
  4. Follow Cait Plus Ate on Pinterest and comment saying you did.
  5. Follow Cait Plus Ate on Twitter and comment saying you did.

That’s 5 ways to enter – just make sure you do at least the mandatory one and comment for each entry. GOOD LUCK!

Too Blessed To Be Stressed

I’m continuing to see #AmazingMe love flow in and it makes me so happy! Sharla tweeted to me her list of why she’s amazing, and Meg want so far as to create a whole page devoted to her list called Marvelous Me (adore the alliteration, girl). I just might create a similar page with my list as well as links to all the list you guys have been sending me. Keep ’em coming!

I had so much to say after this past weekend of mental challenges that I realized only about a couple paragraphs into yesterday’s post on how I handled an active rest day that I’d need more than one post to cover everything. I know I can get very long-winded sometimes when I blog 😉 so I’m spreading the love and continuing my weekend recap today. I will be summarizing the CT Bloggers event at J. Timothy’s Taverne this past Saturday night soon, but for now, let’s jump to spending Sunday at MGM Grand Foxwoods for their Liquid Sunday pool party.

View from my parents’ room on the 23rd floor!

My parents and I love to take little weekend and day trips together! Over the last couple of summers we have established a tradition of going to MGM Foxwoods for their pool parties, which take place on Sundays from 12p-6p. The pool becomes open to non-guests (guests can still get in for a reduced cover price) and as the event has gotten bigger each summer, celebrity guests have been added. My parents usually stay the night Sunday to Monday, and I head home Sunday evening after we have dinner to go back to the real world.

Look at their room’s huge stand-up shower! With a seat option, haha.


I was pretty annoyed because we arrived around 10:30am to hit the pool early since my parents were paying guests of the hotel, but found out that we couldn’t get in until 12pm and would have to wait in line with everyone else. I was peeved and letting this get to me way more than it should have, but my mom and I found a solution when my dad carried some pool chairs we found over to a nice sunny patch of grass near the pool’s entrance.

Elle, Whole Foods iced coffee, new H&M bikini…I’m all set!

And a pear, obviously.

Gold is essential at the casino!

The line to get into the pool actually never went away, even after it opened at 12pm, but the temperature was the perfect amount of warmth – great for laying out and not too hot that I felt like I needed to go throw myself in the pool. So, we saved $10 each and never had to go in! I even started chatting with one of the security guards, and he was kind enough to run into the pool area and bring my mom and I some free bottles of ice cold water. I was blown away by the service of the MGM Foxwoods security guards!

Those Wildflour kale chips and Ste. Michelle Riesling aren’t from the security guards, but they were still damn good together.

In another great example of security guard service, or just fate in general, a kind guard named Jon trotted over to my mom and I and asked us how we were doing and if we needed anything from him. He was a joyful man who seemed to just be loving life. We thanked him profusely for his kindness and assured him we were doing great at our grassy spot. What he said next really hit home. He smiled widely at me and said, “Ladies, it’s like I always say. You’re too blessed to be stressed.”

Blessed with the best dad ever.

I was speechless for a second, and then my face broke into a wide grin. “I LOVE THAT!” I exclaimed to him! His smile grew wider (didn’t even know it was possible) and he just said, “Y’all, I love God, I love life, I love you all. Have a beautiful day!” And then he bounded off (yes, bounded), and I just sat there, reflecting on what brought this happy man to me to send me a message that I’ve needed the last few months more than ever.

Posing on the outdoor patio of our dinner spot, Alta Strada.

Later in the evening, my parents and I dined outside, where I enjoyed a fabulous flatbread half clam/half prosciutto pizza and a basil lime gimlet. I kept reflecting on Jon the security guard’s words, and was honestly just feeling really emotional as a result. I guess I wasn’t the only one because I raised my glass in a toast to thank my parents for all they do for me, and it turned into quite a lovefest as my dad held my hand, looked into my eyes, and said, “I’m so proud of you. You are so perfect. I love you so much.”

Aren’t the precious?

I enjoyed myself throughout the day and at dinner, partially still riding on a high of Jon’s faithful words. Also partially because I was riding on a high over getting to meet the Liquid Sunday guest of honor, Audrina Patridge of “The Hills”.


It worked out great that MGM wouldn’t let us into their pool before 12pm, because otherwise we wouldn’t have chosen the grassy spot outside the pool gates where I ended up seeing Audrina getting interviewed before her appearance! I ran over and like a huge nerd, stuck out my hand and introduced myself. She looked at my hand like it belonged to an alien (I’m guessing she isn’t used to people my age formally introducing themselves!) but was super sweet about taking a photo. I even snapped a quick “selfie” with my iPhone. I had to Instagram and crop it so that I wouldn’t look naked thanks to my bikini tube top. After I got my photos, she went in through the pool gates and began her appearance. I’m sure I never would’ve gotten to meet her if I’d been in that crowded pool party with the other guests! More fate making my day better!


But back to the real point of this post. I arrived home after finishing dinner and hugging my parents goodbye. I chatted with my sister for a bit, got in bed, and did my color-while-listening-to-NPR routine. And then I went to sleep. But I awoke in the middle of the night plagued by negativity. I felt like I was starting to panic. I thought about the Riesling and cocktail I’d drank, the fries I’d finished off my dad’s plate, the laying around I’d done at the pool. I dwelled on finishing my entire flatbread and sipping on some of my mom’s red wine after dinner. Then I laid on my back in a savasana-like pose, took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and saw this:

The Basil Lime Gimlet!

And this…

And even this:

I took a cue from my own #AmazingMe post and saw the positives of my day, of my life. It was amazing how hard my mind fought to throw negativity back at me. It was bickering taking place in my mind. “What an amazing spin class you  had this morning,” I said. “Well, you missed the first 15 minutes of it because you slept in,” my mind said back. “At least that gimlet was FABULOUS and unique,” I thought. “Well, you shouldn’t have drank it. Alcohol is empty calories,” my mind said. But I kept it up. I kept telling myself why my day, my life, I was amazing. And what pushed me through to keep  fighting were Jon’s fateful words: “Too blessed to be stressed.”

I ended up falling back asleep, and feeling pretty good when I woke up the next morning. I was proud of myself for making the conscious effort to take my own advice and make an effort to be positive. And in savasana too – clearly was still feeling inspired by Om Street Yoga! Heck, looking back on this I am still proud. Jon’s words remain in my mind (in a good way) and I don’t know what brought him over to my mom and I, but whatever it was, it was the perfect example of fate giving me a tool I need to help with my anxiety. I couldn’t wait to come here and blog about this today and share my experience and triumph with you all!

(And I also couldn’t wait to share my Audrina run-in. I admit it.)

Have you ever had a run-in with a celeb?

Have you ever had a fateful run-in with a stranger? What was your last brush with fate?

Active Rest Day: How I Did

Amanda of  Run Principessa took my #AmazingMe list one step further and did a VLOG of hers! Check it out and make your own list if you haven’t already – I want to eventually do a post that links up all of them! Make sure to email or tweet me with the link!

Drawing on the chalk tables at ION with Heather. Thanks for the pic, Jenny!

You may remember on Friday that I asked for your support and thoughts as I headed into a weekend of personal challenges. I’m not going to lie and say everything went swimmingly. On Friday night I met up with Jenny and Heather at It’s Only Natural (ION) in Middletown for what should have been an absolute blast of a vegan meal, but I just wasn’t all there. I felt stressed and dragged down by my negative thoughts. I’d had a longer day at work than I’d expected when I woke up that morning and was running late to meet the girls at the restaurant – a ton of little things just combined to create a perfect storm and I had a hard time being present. The food was AMAZING as per usual. The sweet potato fries made my heart sing. My friends were being wonderful and understanding, but I felt guilty as I drove him for not being able to sit back and enjoy. Guilt guilt guilt!

My meal – the blackened tempeh special with the sweet potato fries and a small side of their cold mashed potatoes. I also had a beet salad to start.

The next morning brought part of the challenges I’d discussed on Friday – Om Street Yoga from West Hartford Yoga. Jenny, Heather, and I met in West Hartford center and took ourselves and our mats over to LaSalle Ave, which had been closed down for the second year of this free outdoor 75 minute yoga class.

Call me stereotypical, but yes I wore my Birkenstocks from the Fitness Meet & Tweet to a yoga event.

There was a great turnout! Mic problems only came up a couple of times during the practice, and a live percussion group was present playing relaxing music, complete with a gong.

The class actually ended up being more intense than I’d expected, which I enjoyed! My heart rate got up there during a ridiculously fast dancing warrior series, and my legs were on fire from all the chair poses we did. As I sunk into the last one, I literally whispered to Jenny, “Are you serious?!” I’d thought they were over!

Texting and folding 😉 it’s safe!

Child’s pose may or may not be one of my favorites #sorrynotsorry

My favorite moment came as the entire class was in a goddess pose, doing a series of powerful arm movements. We pushed our arms up to the sky, to the side, in front of us, and downward, each time shouting out “HUH!” Sounds cheesy but it felt great, like a release, and right as we completed the series the sun broke through the clouds. Our instructor declared we’d “brought out the sun” and the crowd broke into applause. In that moment, I felt united with every single person on LaSalle Ave!

During the class I was continuously impressed with Jenny’s yoga skills. She is actually a yoga teacher and considers the practice to have saved her life. Her movements were so very fluid and I am envious of her flexibility! I’d love to get my om on with her again soon 🙂

Jenny’s yoga pants are amazing.

A part of my personal journey over the last couple of years has been working on being more mindful. Each time I do yoga, I have to admit that I am not living in the present. In fact, I rarely find that I am being present in any aspect of my life. This is something I’m trying to change and I was making an effort to be hyper-aware of mindfulness during the final portion of Om Street Yoga, savasana. My mind continued to wander forward to my plans with Heather and Jenny following yoga, forward to my tasting event later that evening, even back to the chair poses during the class and whether or not they were enough of a leg workout. I’d like to say that it was a zen, peaceful savasana, but instead I felt a bit panicked that it was SO damn hard for me to live in the moment. Why couldn’t I just enjoy?! Still, I followed the teacher’s instructions at the end to wish myself happiness, healthiness, and ease; it gave me some peace.

I suggested Hartford Baking Company nearby for our post-yoga coffee fix. I’d had their food before but had never had the chance to sample their pour-over coffee. My friend Matt was working and he recommended an Ethiopian blend from Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Brooklyn; it tasted excellent, possibly also because he did a good job making it! I liked the glass pitcher it was served in – my kind of pitcher!

Heather and I sipped our pour-over coffee black, while Jenny went with a large regular coffee with her beloved soy creamer!

I had a great time chatting with these ladies, and our sunny cozy table made this coffee trip extra special. But I still know I wasn’t 100% there. Negative thoughts associated with stressing over situations to come, an active rest day, whether or not I was disappointing my friends, and more crowded my mind. When I dropped my friends off at Jenny’s and headed out, I was feeling really upset and frustrated with myself.

I was cheered up relatively soon, however, when I ran into my best friend Lidia at Daybreak Coffee Roasters (I stopped by to get iced coffee – decaf, because I’d had enough caff for one day). I felt like it was fate because it also happened to be her birthday! I sat outside with her, her mom, and a family friend of theirs. We just caught up and I was having such a good time that I really did lose myself in our conversation and not think about the fact that I wouldn’t be putting in a gym trip that day.

Losing yourself over coffee is easier when you love it so much 🙂

It got more challenging though when I got home and finished doing my “blog errands” (photo editing and uploading). I had a couple of hours of free time before my next activity, and didn’t know what to do with myself. Free time?! I felt like a slacker for not taking advantage of it and hitting the gym. I almost felt angry with myself for publicly declaring an active rest day to all of you guys. I thought to myself, well I could save this rest day for a day I’m literally too busy to work out. Why should I waste today, a day I have so much time for the gym?! A lot of the reason I didn’t go was because I didn’t want to disappoint those who had left me such supportive comments on my post, Facebook, Twitter, and more.

I consciously attempted to pull my mind to the positives of the situation, and also to the fact that I needed to do this challenge for ME. I had time to put away my laundry while listening to NPR, something I really enjoy doing. I finally got a chance to get iTunes set up on my laptop and attempted to load all my music onto my iPhone (something I gave up on halfway through, but oh well). I got to zen out on the back porch while doing my blog errands and eat baby carrots with Yummy Hummy curry and lemon cilantro hummuses (humm-i?)

In the end, I know that I did a workout on Saturday. I took a 75-minute yoga class that worked my body, stretched my tired muscles, and quieted my mind (even if only a bit). I had a chance to unwind in the middle of the afternoon before headed to my CT Bloggers event that evening, which probably ended up helping me handle that event well in the end (more on that later). And the next morning when I went to the gym for 45 minutes of spinning and an arm workout, I had a ton of energy and kicked some ass. So I did it. I took an active rest day and challenged myself. I’m not extremely happy with how I handled the entire situation, but I handled it and am a work in progress. I’ll get there. I know it!

How do you handle taking rest days?

Have you ever done outdoor yoga?

How do you keep yourself in the moment and present?

Fashion Friday Shows Some Leg

Thank you to Meg, one of the blog world’s brightest rays of sunshine (I’m a sap but it’s true), for including me in her weekly High Five Friday post! It always is great to get props for something positive I’ve done, especially since I often need reminding about why I’m #AmazingMe. And she’s now joined in the fashion fun (yay alliteration) with her Shopping Spree Sunday!

Sorry that I’ve been a bit MIA! I’ve been really busy at work and have also been trying not to put too much stress on myself and just chill. It’s been pretty amazing to be at home for dinner every night this week eating a home-cooked meal and drinking a glass of wine with the DVR. That being said, I’m completely 100% excited to be going out to dinner tonight with my rocksHeather and Jenny, at one of our favorite CT restaurants, It’s Only Natural. I often find vegan dishes to be the most unique, so I’m pumped to have something for dinner tonight that I’ve never had before. Then tomorrow morning, the three of us are attending a free outdoor yoga event in West Hartford center called Om Street Yoga, sponsored by West Hartford Yoga. The 75 minute all-levels class in the fresh air is just the thing I need, and I plan to challenge myself by making it my ONLY workout tomorrow. It’ll be hard, especially since I have an amazing CT Bloggers meetup scheduled tomorrow evening at J. Timothy’s Taverne in Plainville, where food and beer will be a-plenty. But I need to prove to myself that not only can I go to the event and stay in control, but I can also do so on a day in which I did not get an intense workout in. I got this, but would appreciate it also if you all kept me in mind and sent positive thoughts my way tomorrow!

But you know what day it is, right? It’s Fashion Friday! Here’s what I’ve been wearing lately! You will notice more legs happening…I have been in such a mood for dresses, shorts, skirts…I just don’t want my legs covered. No, not because I’m a skank, but because when you live in CT  you have to take advantage of warm weather while you can!

Cardigan/Dress: sister’s (so likely Urban Outfitters or Nordstrom)

Headband: American Eagle

Watch: Fossil

Heels: DSW

Necklace: Forever 21

Dress: J. Crew Outlet

Watch: gift from my grandpa

Wedges: H&M (I saw them at the Newbury St. location in Boston this past Saturday, FYI!)

Dress: sister’s (so Urban Outfitters or Nordstrom)

Watch: Michael Kors

Shoes: Forever 21 (Heather borrowed him during her last visit!)

Necklace: Francesca’s (featured in a previous Fashion Friday)

Tank: H&M

Shorts: Nordstrom Rack

Sandals: Steve Madden

Sunglasses: Nordstrom Rack

Tank: Urban Outfitters

Watch: Fossil

Shorts: Hollister

Shoes: Birkenstock (from #fitblognyc!)

It’s safe to say I’m obsessed with the back of this shirt, and insisted that Matty take a photo for me when I wore it to Wildflour with him and Heather on Sunday after Color Me Rad!

Which outfit is your favorite?

Anyone else been tempted to wear outfits that let your legs breathe in these lovely summer months?

Any advice for me as I take on my fitness and event-related challenges tomorrow?

Color Me Rad on the Fitfluential Blog!

“Real life” job is SUPER busy today. So I’m copping out and linking you to another place where you can read a post from yours truly: the Fitfluential blog! And if you weren’t already reading it, well…that’s a problem 😉

Check out my recap of the Color Me Rad 5K in Braintree, MA, held this past Sunday! Team Fitfluential represented and rocked it!

My colorful #PROOF.

Don’t forget to comment over on that post! I’ll be checking them!

Blogger Recipe Pairing

Tina of Carrots N Cake (a healthy living blog I’ve been reading for several years, since I first discovered them) posted a recipe at the end of last month in a post titled The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Obviously I was immediately intrigued. You would be too, right? Well, I’m pleased to report that Tina is a truthful blogger.

The recipe was for sweet potato quesadillas. YUP. If the post’s title had grabbed me before, I had now been…snatched?…by the recipe’s title. Tina’s version used black beans, sweet potato, and a whole wheat tortilla – all of which my mom used when she made these for her and I two Sundays ago. But Tina also used Babybel cheese and chopped kale, which my mom and I replaced with goat cheese and edamame for extra protein! Mashing the sweet potato was easy thanks to Ore Ida’s frozen sweet potato steak fries. The edamame was also a frozen variety that we simply heated up in the microwave. For the tortilla, we used Flat Out Healthy Grain Harvest Wheat wraps.

How amazing does that look? I have to tell you that it tasted even better. My mom and I did a lot of moaning and groaning – foodgasm-ing, if you will. We paired our quesadillas with Columbia Crest Two Vines Merlot-Cabernet blend. I really loved it – and it’s such a cheap wine! Definitely recommended if you’re on a wine budget.

The beginnings of a great side.

Because that one quesadilla each is NOT enough food for us, my mom also whipped up a second blog-based recipe: Jenny’s refried black beans from Tofu SwagMy mom was doubtful that she’d pull this one off, but it came out AMAZING. The only change my madre made was adding the onions in the beginning (see photo above).

Fabulous AND healthy. This entire meal was protein-packed AND vegetarian! I may eat meat but there’s no denying that it’s totally possible to get enough protein from plants. The refried beans were drool-worthy and we can’t wait to whip them up again.

Thanks for sharing the recipes, Tina and Jenny! Thanks to you two, my mom and I dined like queens on a Sunday evening.

I also just have to say that I had the most kickass workout yesterday. I went to my favorite class at my gym, a Step class with awesome choreography broken up by HIIT drills. The combos were filled with kicks, knees, and “basketball shooters” (for da glutes). I worked most of the moves to perfection and even had the energy after class to rock a 4 minute #plankaday!


Also, check out what I hung up in my work cubicle today…a recap of my Color Me Rad experience is coming to the Fitfluential blog soon! I’ll let you all know when it’s up!

Have you ever tried making your own refried beans?

What’s the best recipe you’ve ever gotten off of a blog?

What’s the most innovative way you’ve ever used sweet potato?

Three Generations Dine at Max Fish

This post may have bad timing since I just recently published a post about how I don’t eat out EVERY night, but please forgive my contradiction because I have a home meal post coming up tomorrow. For now, you REALLY want to read this one. Like, really.

I don’t do a full recap of every dinner I have out (just photo dumps), especially if the restaurant has already been featured in its own post on the blog before. However, the meal I enjoyed last Thursday night at the Max Restaurant Group‘s seafood establishment, Max Fish, in Glastonbury, CT was so noteworthy that I had to do an entire post on it. Let the gushing commence!

Grannan and I!

My grandma (we call her Grannan) had arrived that afternoon from Florida, and my mom and I knew we wanted to take her somewhere special for dinner. Thankfully my family had plenty of points racked up from the Max restaurants’ free rewards program, Max Vantage. Ever since hearing about the Max Fish Tiki Dinner I attended, my mom has been dying to try their regular menu (she is already a fan of their award-winning happy hour), so we decided to use the rewards points there. Plus, they have an outdoor patio – I love dining al fresco! My grandma, mom, sister, and I decided it was the perfect spot to celebrate Grannan’s arrival.

Once seated we were immediately served the above sampling plate of seaweed and pickled cucumber salad. That certainly started the meal out on a high note! The combo was genius and the cucumbers were pickled just enough. Any more and they definitely wouldn’t have paired as well with the seaweed.

We also got a pretty great bread basket. The wheat rolls were just OK to me, but the other variety of roll contained raisins and caramelized onions. Those were so flavorful that they didn’t even need any butter – but that didn’t stop me from using a bit 😉 My favorite part of the bread basket actually wasn’t bread – it was the flatbread crackers with sesame and what I believe were caraway seeds. So satisfyingly crunchy and hearty.

Max Fish has one of those cocktail menus (pictured above) that I could study and debate for hours. They certainly proved themselves to be expert mixologists at the Tiki Dinner! I love wine, but felt like it’d be a cocktail appreciator’s sin to not order one (or two!) of these gems.

Happy with my choice.

It actually didn’t take me too long to decide on the Fish Hook, Max Fish’s take on the Manhattan, because of its main ingredient: Onyx Moonshine. I’ve spoken with the owners of this Manchester, CT-based company a few times at events, and they are a great group of people putting out an excellent, smooth liquor. As expected, the Fish Hook was amazingly refreshing and the orange peel in it looked pretty awesome as well. I savored every sip.

My sister was very surprised when she ordered a Diet Coke and it came out in an old-fashioned Coke bottle. Cute!

She may kill me for using this.

I was debating between ordering tuna and swordfish (the dinner menu is pretty epic…lots of menu indecision anxiety for me!…and cool sidebar – Max Fish has a gluten-free menu!), and that decision was made easier for me when my family and I had the chance to sample the rare yellowfin tuna.

Meg, are you dying?!

I was ecstatic that my mom, grandma, and sister were all willing to try it. And better yet, the madre and Grannan declared that they LOVED the rare tuna!

All gone!

I can totally understand why and I’m glad that their first taste was at Max Fish. The tuna was cooked to perfection, the exterior crusted in an adequate amount of sesame, and the sauce and slaw garnishes were the perfect compliments.

So proud of herself for trying – and enjoying – fish cooked rare!

Hannah was not the biggest fan – she is still in the stage in which the only seafood she likes is mahi mahi, what I like to call the “gateway fish” – but she tried!

She is not a seafood fan!

She much prefers the taste of Diet Coke!

When our food came out there was a bit of confusion with the food runner over whose plate was whose, and which fish was which, so my mom and Grannan’s dishes got sent back. But once we realized that everything had actually been correct in the first place, the kitchen was nice enough to warm the entrees back up before delivering them to the table.

Since I’d tried the tuna, I ordered the above grilled swordfish with pineapple-ginger chutney, local bok choy, and black sticky rice. I have been dreaming of that rice since the Tiki Dinner, and convinced my mom and Grannan to get it with their food too! I never eat rice – I find it to be extremely boring, and it makes me sleepy if I eat even a bit too much, like pasta does. This rice, though, is just the right hint of sweetness and its texture is so fun! I know that sounds strange to say about a food’s texture, but it’s really the first word that comes to mind. The pineapple-ginger chutney was so amazing paired with the sticky black rice. My only complaint is more like a regret – that I didn’t ask for EXTRA chutney! The bok choy was very well cooked, not too oily, and the swordfish was the thickest cut I’d ever received at a restaurant. The outside was nice and char-grilled while the inside was flaky. No knife was needed to slice off each bite – a fork was plenty.

Grannan’s entree

Mom and Grannan continued to make my everythingarian-self happy by taking my suggestion to get the sticky black rice with their entrees as well. They are very much like me when it comes to rice – just not that impressed. But also like me, they were over the moon about Max Fish’s rice! Being true seafoodies though, their favorite meal component was the grilled monkfish. The two of them could not say enough good things about how it was cooked. Grannan also swooned over her sauteed spinach (pictured above).

That right there is Hannah’s choice, the 10 oz filet mignon with creamy mashed potatoes. She also got a side of haricot verts to get her green on. She ordered the steak medium and it certainly came out cooked just as she’d asked.  I have to admit I’m glad she didn’t finish it all because this filet was beyond-words amazing. As in, it-rivaled-J. Gilbert’s amazing. Yeah, I said it. Hannah said those taters hit the spot as well – exactly what she craved.

Me and the sis!

I finished my Fish Hook right when my entree came out, so to go with my meal I ordered something refreshing, light, and citrusy – the French 75.  It was served in a fun, classy glass and contained gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and Prosecco. Didn’t taste much like alcohol, and not a cocktail I’d usually order (a bit sweet), but it was still fun to step outside of my martini-shaped box.

The French 75, me, and a bunch of good bread.

We declined dessert because we were all quite satisfied, so our waitress brought the check, along with some nice warm towels topped with fresh lemons for cleaning our hands. My mom adored that fancy ending!

And Max Fish had one more surprise up its sleeve…after-dinner drinks! Again, though it was a sweeter beverage than I’d normally order, I enjoyed the below Strawberry Caipirinha, AKA Brazil’s national cocktail, made with strawberry, cachaca (sugar cane rum), raw sugar, and lime. Hence the lime and strawberry garnishes! This drink made me feel fabulous and was perfect for a warm summer evening like the one we were enjoying that evening.

Lighting doesn’t do it justice – it had gotten dark!

Thank you so very much to Max Fish for giving my grandma an amazing welcome-to-Connecticut dinner to kick off her visit from Florida. We promised her a great seafood dinner and the restaurant certainly delivered! I highly recommend Max Fish for any occasion – or even none at all. If you’re trying to save money, their happy hour is a great way to try a lot of their food options at a discounted price.

And don’t forget to read up on the Max Restaurant Group’s Chef to Farm Dinner Series, which already has generated buzz nationally. I’m planning to hit up one of the August dinners, but there is one coming up as soon as the end of July in Simsbury, CT! Click the link, take a look at the menu, and buy a ticket once you recover from passing out (since it’s so amazing).

Do you have a favorite seafood spot near you?

Which foodie photo is your fave in this post? I won’t judge you if you name a beverage 😉

Fashion Friday (Not Unlucky!)

Happy Friday the 13th! Did you know it’s the third Friday the 13th we’ve had this year?! It makes sense since the world is supposedly ending (and on my mom’s birthday no less) in 2012, but here’s hoping your Friday the 13th doesn’t actually end up being unlucky! I’ll be hitting the gym after work for the StepMill and an upper body lifting session, then headed to Elton John Night at the Talcott Mountain Summer Music Festival (I recently did a ticket giveaway). I’ve got red wine straight from Italy packed (literally, my friend brought it back to the US in her suitcase) and a SaveNowCT deal to Harry’s Pizza in West Hartford to use. Can’t wait to pair pizza and wine (my favorite food with my favorite alcoholic beverage happen to combine to make my favorite pairing), listen to music outdoors, and chill on a blanket. I’m hoping it’ll be an evening of zen 🙂

It can’t possibly be Friday the 13th, because lucky enough for you, it’s Fashion Friday! Here are the outfits I’m sharing (but didn’t necessarily wear recently) this week:

Top/Scarf: Forever 21

Pants: Urban Outfitters

Shoes: PacSun

Awkward Hip Jut: all me 😉

Accessories view.

Watch: Fossil

Wristband: Oakley

Bracelet: from Ilyse Baker of Dancinerate (and my cardio dance instructor at #RBKFITBLOG!)

Pants: Urban Outfitters

Shoes: Toms

Top: Nordstrom (sister’s)

Watch: Fossil

Cardigan/Top: sister’s…don’t know their origin(s)…but if I had to guess I’d say Urban Outfitters or Nordstrom

Pants: Urban Outfitters

Shoes: Steve Madden

Blazer: Forever 21

Top/Necklace: more sister-owned mysteries

Jeggings: American Eagle

Shoes: Steve Madden

Before dinner outside at Giovanni’s in Glastonbury.

 Top: sister mystery

Pants: Urban Outfitters

Shoes: PacSun

Watch: NYC flea market

I’ve got a busy weekend ahead of me so I won’t be blogging again until Monday at the earliest. I’m headed to Boston tomorrow to use a Groupon for a BYOB sailboat cruise (oh yes I did) and am meeting up with one of my best friends for dinner. On Sunday morning I’m running the Color Me Rad 5K with Team Fitfluential!

You may notice that I wore the same Urban Outfitters pants in almost every outfit this week – do you have that one item of clothing that you wear ALL the time?

What’s your favorite outfit this week?

What are you doing this weekend?