Tag Archives: apps

The Caitlins/Kaitlins Meet Again

CT residents, remember to enter my giveaway for two lawn tickets to the Talcott Mountain Music Festival!

As you may have seen in Kaitlin‘s MIMM post, I paid her a visit over the holiday weekend and stayed over Saturday to Sunday. I enjoyed the leisurely car ride down to the 203 and arrived around 4pm – just enough time for us to pay a visit to the pool of Kaitlin’s best friend (and maid of honor). I enjoyed meeting and chatting with Kaitlin’s friends from home, and sipped on Cisco Brewers Summer of Lager, a new-to-me light lager. It definitely hit the spot on such a humid day, but made me a bit sleepy. I rallied though, because then it was off to a summer cookout at the home of Kaitlin’s mom’s best friend, Linda!

Kaitlin's fiance Jeff was with us during my visit too!

Kaitlin’s fiance Jeff was with us during my visit too!

We instantly dove into an amazing spread of apps, along with glasses of chilled summery rose. Along with the below-pictured bruschetta (on farmers market bread!), we snacked on cheese & crackers, TJ’s spinach & artichoke dip, and homemade onion dip. I could’ve made a meal out of all of it!

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Glastonbury LobsterFest 2013!

I can’t miss Glastonbury’s best event of the summer, our Rotary Club’s LobsterFest. So when my mom told me she and my dad were entertaining the idea of NOT going this year, I did not stand for it. All it took was some reminders of all the fun we’ve had under the big white tent in year’s past, and my dad was on my side and my mom outnumbered. We put out the call to some of our close family friends from Florida, I invited my good friend Jeff, and we were all ready to go with a table.


Thankfully the weather improved drastically for Saturday and the sun was even out of most of the morning and afternoon to dry out the field after Friday’s monsoon. The hard-working Rotary Club volunteers were out all day in the rain on Friday setting up and getting the tent erected to keep the ground underneath as dry as possible.

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Vision, Brilliance, and Trumbull Kitchen

My best friend Lidia and I had tickets to go see The Connecticut Forum‘s Vision and Brilliance panel at the Bushnell for a couple of months, and finally the big night arrived this past Saturday. Here’s the event description, from the Forum’s website:

“This live, unscripted panel conversation brings together a diverse group of popular experts, each with their own unique field of study and view of the world. The Forum will be fast paced and surprising, as [the panelists] discuss their own work, and so much more… technology, science, design, new ideas, our changing world and possibilities for our future. Bring your sense of wonder to this conversation with big thinkers and visionary minds.”

The moderator and panel, ready to discuss vision and brilliance.

The moderator and panel, ready to discuss vision and brilliance.

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Rooftop120 With Cupcake Kelly’s!

Remember to enter my SOYJOY giveaway – two winners will be chosen after tomorrow night’s entry deadline!

There must be something about me and bringing blends to Rooftop 120, huh? Or maybe there’s just something about me going to Rooftop 120. Yeah, I think that’s more like it. Well whatever the “something” is, I decided to show the magic of one of my favorite CT restaurants to my blend Kelly and her hubby, a fellow Manhattan-lover. They’ve been staying nearby while waiting for their new house to be ready, and Kelly and I wanted to take advantage and have plenty of hang-out time during her “homeless month”.

Nick, Kelly, and I!

When Kelly and Nick arrived I was already at Rooftop 120 with my parents (obviously, when am I not hanging out with them?) enjoying a cocktail that my favorite bartender ever, Andres, had crafted for me. The ‘rents had decided to go out for a drink before a church fundraiser.

The family that drinks together – stays together?!

As soon as I arrived, Andres shared with me a cocktail he had been dreaming up that had my name on it – Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, muddled orange, and a splash of ginger beer, served up. Yum! I was on board immediately and even my whiskey-averse mom thought it was nice and smooth.

Once Kelly and Nick arrived, they selected their adult beverages – very wisely, I might add. Nick took my suggestion and ordered one of Andres’s wonderful Maker’s Mark Manhattans (on the rocks), while Kelly opted for one of the fall cocktail specials, the Smashed Pumpkin: Fulton’s Harvest Pumpkin Pie Liqueur, Captain Morgan, and cinnamon.

It tasted even better than it looks!

Kelly and Nick had a Groupon to use (alas, I had used mined already the week prior) so of course we ordered dinner too! Both of the evening’s specials sounded absolutely AMAZING to Kelly and I, so we ordered both and split them so we wouldn’t have to make any heart-wrenching decisions. One of the many reasons why blend dining works well!

Seasoned cod special atop warm chickpea puree and sauteed spinach.

Surf & Turf: jumbo shrimp and filet! Source

Kelly and I were beyond wow-ed by the above two dishes as well as beyond bummed when they were gone! Nick ordered the Kobe burger and fries which I didn’t get a photo of, but trust me, it looked fantastic.


Nick decided on Junior’s cheesecake for dessert, and was kind enough to let me steal several bites. Though I don’t eat it often, cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts EVER. After each freshman year calculus exam, I used to get a huge slice with Oreo crumbs on top from the cafe I worked at in college. Because the studying I did for those things was hell and I certainly deserved it.

Had to go Greek!

But I was craving more savory, not sweet, so Kelly and I split the above appetizer – baked lamb meatballs with onion jam and yogurt sauce. Plus BREAD! Kelly and I love all things Greek and so a Greek-inspired dish seemed perfect for us. But next time we are going to go all out because I have officially invited myself over to her in-laws’ house for an authentic Greek meal…hope you don’t mind, Kelly and Nick!

Skinnygirl Cucumber and St. Germaine.

I ordered (and was unable to finish) the above second cocktail – still craving savory, so I went with a cucumber martini with a salted rim. Kelly tried it and was a fan too of how refreshing it was! Great job again Andres!

It’s good to know a guy who can make a good drink!

Kelly got a second drink too, which she had seen previously on Andres’s Instagram (where he uploads photos of his lovely concoctions) and was intrigued by – a Sparkler! Many flavors are available and whichever one you want comes in a puree and is mixed with Prosecco. Love the presentation!

Sparkler with Prosecco!

Kelly and Nick headed home and I stuck around a bit longer to chat with Andres as well as some friends I ran into from the gym. Always a bit strange to see each other outside of workout clothes for the first time! And of course before we parted ways Kelly and I made another dinner date…for this Friday!

Thankful for my blend!

Which of the drinks and/or food we tried looks best to you?

Have you ever had a blend meetup? How about a blend-and-her-hubby meetup?

Do you have any special connections with any employee at a restaurant where you are a regular?

Fashion Friday Gets Fab!

Awhile back, I was featured by fellow Fitfluential Ambassador Rachel of Running Rachel on her blog’s Fitspiration Friday feature! Thank you for selecting me, Rachel!

Okay, so regarding the title…Fashion Friday is ALWAYS fab. I know. But a) it’s been awhile since I’ve done a Fashion Friday, and b) last night I felt so very fabulous and have extra fabulous professionally taken photos to include in today’s post! Let me explain.

Photo credit to Sean Fowler of CT.com!

My Dress, Ring: Forever 21

My Watch: Michael Kors

Kelly’s Dress: Marshall’s!

Last night was the 3rd Anniversary Party for one of my favorite places in CT to get a unique cocktail – Cuvee, located in West Hartford’s Blueback Square. I mentioned the party and their contest to win access to its VIP portion in previous posts. And my friend Kat was able to score me a guest pass for my friend Kelly and I to attend that VIP portion – papa-razziiii!

See all that? FREE.

We sipped complimentary chutes of both Chardonnay and Rose champagnes, and munched on delicious passed apps like Pulled Pork Crostini, Thai Shrimp Skewers, Veggies & Homemade Hummus, CHEESE A-PLENTY, and Mozz-Stuffed Meatballs! The latter were, to put it simply, mind-boggling good.

My drink at left (Sailor Over a Barrel – Max’s Own Cask Aged with Sailor Jerry’s Rum, Domaine de Canton, Sweet Vermouth) and Kelly’s Peach Kicker (Ciroc Peach, Jeramiah Weed Sweet Tea Vodka, Jalapeno, Lime, Agave, Lemonade) in the mason jar!

After a little over an hour at Cuvee we decided we needed to do what we do best – restaurant hop – since it was our last night together before Kelly moves to MA! We tried to hit up Bartaco but unfortunately it was too packed, so we opted to sit outside at a Max Restaurant Group establishment I’ve been dying to try, Max’s Oyster Bar (also home of Chef Scott Miller from my recent Chef to Farm experience!). The above cocktails did not disappoint! My drink may have been small and it may have been simple (and $13), but it was also extremely delicious and smooth. I love me some high-quality liquor. When it’s the good stuff, the extra additions are not needed!

A warm, crusty wheat roll and my salad of greens, goat cheese, Brussels sprouts, apple, and pancetta!

I only wish I’d been more hungry so I could’ve ordered a fabulous dinner entree! Next time…because Max’s Oyster Bar has certainly now moved higher up on my to-do list, even after I’ve already “done” it. That says a lot right?! But the above salad was mind-blowingly wonderful and Kelly’s Blackened Tuna Tacos were so fresh I could taste it. I’m very grateful to her for letting me steal one 😀 What a fun last night of activities to spend together!

Photo credit to Sean Fowler of CT.com!

Shoes: DSW

And now onto the remainder of your regular Fashion Friday programming…

Cardigan, Pants: Urban Outfitters

Top: Hollister

Shoes: PacSun Outlet

Selfies FTW.

Watch: NYC flea market

Headband: H&M

Cardigan: Forever 21

Top: Express

Watch: NYC flea market

Jeggings: American Eagle

Shoes: Steve Madden

Before dinner with my grandma at J. Gilbert’s!

Dress, Bracelet: Forever 21

Watch: gift from grandpa

Shoes: Steve Madden

Have a great long weekend, everyone!

Which outfit is your favorite?

Have you ever gotten to be “VIP” at an event?

Wordless Wednesday: Baltimore

I never had time between all my weekends away to share my photos from one of those weekends, in Baltimore, MD. I really felt at home and can totally see myself living there one day, though I know most parts of Baltimore are not as “cute” as the parts I was hanging out in! Enjoy my photos 🙂

Iced coffee, gross clothes, and #fitblognyc swag bag – travel standards.

Nomming on a packed salad while working on my paper during the car ride.

Right by our hotel!

Ridiculous amount of menus at Chazz.

Enjoying the Ginger Gin & Tonic made with ginger, cuke, and mint.

Better look at the drink. No it ain’t water.

We all shared a bunch of apps at Chazz’s happy hour – this was the Gorgonzola Beef Carpaccio.

Good old calamari with a fab aioli.

The super tentacley ones with less breading are my fave – more seafood!

Standard tomato bruschetta with goat cheese.

Veal meatball sliders with housemade chips.

My second drink, which my dad had to help me finish…the Pikesville Manhatta using a Maryland classic rye whiskey, with a brandied cherry. One of the best Manhattans I’ve ever tasted.

This Nutella jar on display was HUUUUGE!

Sis and I at da ba.

Sis, dad, and I outside of Chazz, ready to head to an Orioles game!

My most hated chain!

Buzzin’ in the Inner Harbor walking to the baseball game.

I love the Inner Harbor!

The coolest building I saw there.

We got these free bucket hats at the Orioles game!

Dad’s got his rally cap on.

BBQ at the ball game! Surprised by the options at the stadium for food. But that drink I’m holding was freaking gross.

Shared BBQ pulled pork sammie and sides for sis and I.

Way typical.

Next morning’s brunch bev of choice at Teavolve – Strawberry Basil Fizz.

But I had some of their coffee too!

Wheat toast, egg white omelette with CRAB and muchos veggies.

Purchased on SALE at South Moon Under 🙂

Haul from a cute boutique! Because I definitely need designer highlighters.

Hannah and I stumbled upon this gorgeous bar with cocktails comparable to Drink’s, called Wit & Wisdom, in the Four Seasons.

Perfect afternoon to sit outside with my drink, which included walnut bitters.

Hiding behind some fake dunes?

Hello, you.

Snagged this for just $20 at Urban Outfitters – it’ll pop up in a Fashion Friday soon enough!

My go-to margarita – natural, on the rocks, with EXTRA salt at Roy’s happy hour.

Marvelous marg!

Edamame in the beginning of the meal?! My kind of place!

Dad’s face when I clued him into the fact that edamame is full of soy protein!

Skinny Cosmo 😀 so pretty!

Mini smoked mahi tacos in a crunchy shell!

Mini shortrib tacos!

3 cheers for ICE CREAM from Haagen Dazs! Spiced caramel biscuit…AMAZING.

Pour-over coffee from Lamill for the ride home. So delicous (and it better be, it was like $4!)

And a Whole Foods salad BEAST for the ride home too. Can’t resist visiting other locations’ Whole Foods bars!

Have you ever been to Baltimore?

Do you usually pack food for road trips, or buy on the way?

Which nommm looks best to you?

Also, the winner of the Love with Food giveaway is my friend Alex of The Run Within. Congrats girl! I will be sending  you the code to get your FREE September Love with Food box. Remember, everyone else has until 8/31 to use the code CAITVIP for $2 off if you want to order your own box! Thanks to all who entered!

CT Bloggers Take Over J. Timothy’s!

Have you entered my giveaway for a Knoshbox of local foodie goodies? Don’t forget to do so – you have until tomorrow night (Saturday 8/25) at 11:59PM EST!

J. Timothy’s Taverne in Plainville, CT may be housed in an old building (as in…built in 1789!), and has even been open since 1985, but that doesn’t mean the restaurant’s marketing practices haven’t grown and evolved with the rest of the industry. Social media is a big part of the popular spot’s advertising and public relations strategy; its active Facebook and Twitter accounts (run by a SUPER fun woman named Nikki) spread the word about food specials, gather customer feedback, and…develop relationships with area bloggers!

Last month in the J. Timothy’s loft (this restaurant is HUGE…we’re talking multiple levels, banquet rooms, a bar area, and more), a group of Connecticut Bloggers gathered for a meetup hosted by the J. Timothy’s Taverne marketing team. Not only was it a chance for me to try out a new-to-me restaurant (legendary for their wings, and also frequented by the infamous and elusive West Hartford PR Girls), but I also got to finally meet so many of the area bloggers I’d been tweeting with for so long!

Katie of The Simple Songbird and me. She works in the same town as I do and lives just fifteen minutes away too! I also called her Diana when I first saw her. Holy awkward!

Dominique of Craftfully Cooks is a fellow Fitfluential Ambassador! Love her top.

Maria of Pappa Don’t Preach is a fabulous fellow fitness enthusiast. She shares my arm day obsession (arm day = holiday!) and we talked arms during dinner 😀

All of us plus Hilary (in pink), the talented chef and artist of My Own Blog Review and owner of Mews Boutique.

So after taking the above photo, we decided to be the blogging version of the Spice Girls. What do you all think? Perhaps I can be Posh?

I mingled with the ladies and the rest of the bloggers in attendance while drinking a glass of Duck Duck Goose Shiraz-Cabernet and sampling a little bit of everything from the above app plate. My very favorite items included figs and some kind of fabulous bacon-like meat. The wine list at J. Timothy’s impressed me, especially since their main gig is beer (particularly craft and/or local). I’ve only had Duck Duck Goose at a Sonoma Wines & Spirits tasting and had never seen it offered by a restaurant before.

Passed app – beef tenderloin crostini with gorgonzola sauce. Of course I was the only one trying to get some of that veggie garnish in the center on my plate too!

I also sampled a few of the above craft beers from the summer beer list. Small sips of each were all I needed…still working on liking beer!

The owner of J. Timothy’s (left) and Mark of Relic Brewing (right).

The owner of J. Timothy’s took the time to come up to the loft and greet us Connecticut bloggers, and then Nikki kicked off the evening’s event by telling us why the restaurant uses and believes in social media. She also shared examples of marketing research the Taverne performs on a regular basis. I was particularly interested to learn that focus groups of parents seemed to agree that when taking children out to eat, they are NOT looking for healthier kids menu items. In fact, going out to eat is seen as a treat, so therefore the parent is more OK with letting the child treat him or herself to a more decadent or heavier meal than would be served at home. I can definitely see why that would be the line of thinking behind selecting a kids menu meal…but also think it’s good to have the healthy options there in case the child chooses one of those! The focus group found, at least, that parents do want to see more healthier sides. That’s some balance – perhaps a burger with some veggies 🙂 I could go on about this topic forever!

The CT Blogger power couple and starters of the website, Wendy and Greg Limauge, live-instagramming Nikki’s talk.

The main event – a tasting of the J. Timothy’s menu – began. I took one look at the list and felt a bit overwhelmed. SO. MUCH. FOOD. How full would I get? What if I overate? What if I lost control? Those thoughts immediately intruded, but I was aware of them, and checked in with my body. I was hungry, ready to eat, and could just sample a little of everything and stop when I was done. I could do this! And hey…it all sounded pretty damn good.

Wings may not be the most unique app, but you can’t go wrong ordering them when dining at a restaurant like J. Timothy’s Taverne, famous for their wings! And we got to try all the flavors – Original Buffalo, Honey Gold BBQ, General Tso’s, and Teriyaki. My favorite? The General Tso’s! The bleu cheese sauce was also fantastic, but I always have issues with that when it comes to wings with bones. It ends up a huge, albeit delicious and fun, mess.

I really like the way J. Timothy’s served us the food. Each dish came out on a family style serving plate that was passed around the table. I could get the specific bites and tastes I wanted to put on my own smaller plate, and in the perfect amount that let me feel comfortable. The serving method totally helped me sit back and enjoy the event without the intrusive thoughts telling me I may lose control.

Butternut squash ravioli.

After the wings, a starter from the regular menu came out that will probably get a lot of my readers excited – butternut squash ravioli in sage & brown butter cream sauce, sprinkled with walnuts. I definitely wish there had been less sauce because I could hardly taste any of the butternut squash filling! But collectively, the dish was delicious and the crunchy walnut texture contrasted with the soft, pillow-like ravioli (yes, most overused description for ravioli, so sue me) in an interesting way that was just enough to set J. Timothy’s version apart from others I’ve tried.

Scallop Waldorf salad.

The salad we sampled, the Scallop Waldorf salad, was probably my favorite dish of the evening. More walnuts are always a good thing, and the greens weren’t too dressed, something restaurants so often do. I would have preferred pears to apples but that’s the weirdo in me that doesn’t like them (don’t yell at me). I wanted more scallops! Right, Meg?!

Pomegranate pork tenderloin, spinach, & mashed taters.

OK wait…THIS may have been my favorite dish. The salad was certainly more “comfortable” to me, but I can’t lie, the above grilled pork tenderloin bacon-wrapped medallions in a pomegranate balsamic glaze, paired with sauteed spinach and mashed potatoes, was comfort food at its best. I so wish I’d had more room to have more pork, and it’d been eons since I’d eaten any “legit” mashed taters. Of course I wanted to take more spinach off the platter, but left enough for my companions

Mark of Relic Brewing handed out beer samples to pair with certain courses. My favorite – and the most interesting beer I’ve EVER sipped – was the lavender & honey brew. I could truly taste the lavender and even finished my entire sample (something I don’t often do with beer) just because I wanted to keep experiencing that taste that I knew I wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else.

Haddock au Gratin

I’m always ready to gobble down a good piece of fish but was disappointed that the haddock au gratin came absolutely DROWNING in cheese. I love eating cheese with crackers, fruit, wine, pizza, etc. But when it comes to my meat and my seafood, I don’t want a ton of greasy cheese clouding that fresh meat or seafood taste. I want to taste my protein! And I do have to be honest here – melty pools of cheese like the kind featured on this haddock certainly make me nervous. I wonder how much “hidden” fat is in there, and worry about the consequences of eating said fat. I picked off as much of the cheese as I could, but at this point I was getting really full anyway and knew I wanted dessert, so I didn’t finish this dish. It was definitely my least favorite of the meal.

Cherry vanilla cheesecake bread pudding.

Luckily, dessert more than made up for it, especially since it was a two-parter! The above cherry vanilla cheesecake bread pudding was COMPLETELY amazing. The soft bread pudding and the crunchy shell it was served in balanced each other out perfectly. Cherry isn’t my favorite flavor of dessert, but this was quite yummy. The best and most decadent-tasting part of the dessert, though, was next…

Chocolate oreo truffles!!!

I did not want my truffle to end. It was definitely one of the best-tasting desserts I’ve ever eaten. Too bad it was so tiny! I wanted it back as soon as I finished it!

Me and the CT Bloggers queen, Wendy.

I left this event a bit more full than I am used to or comfortable with feeling. But I dealt with it – I went home, chatted with my parents, colored, listened to NPR, and went to bed. I didn’t miss out on anything and I had a great night out with my CT blogging friends. I’m so glad I finally got to meet them, and try a new restaurant at the same time!

Thank you to J. Timothy’s, as well as Greg and Wendy of Connecticut Bloggers, for organizing and hosting what I hope is the first of many more meetups!

Summer with a Side of Guilt

Summer is officially here! What comes to mind when you think of summer? I think of warm weather, beaches, family, friends, concerts, sunglasses, flip flops…and parties. Now, get that image of a keg out of your head. That’s not what I mean.

I prefer homemade sangria to a keg.

I mean summer parties, whether in the form of barbecues, bonfires, backyard grad parties, festivals, tasting events…frequency of all of the above really kicks up in the summertime. I already know this from personal experience over the last month – and it wasn’t even summer yet.

Cabernet, strawberries, oranges, and lemon seltzer.

With these parties come the usual suspects – food and drinks. Suspect is probably a poor choice of words though.

Yup, I made that!

It’s a poor choice of words because thinking of the food and drinks at my beloved tastings, BBQs, and shindigs as bad guys is exactly what I’m struggling with…and trying to get away from.

I’ve found that in the back of my mind, as I sip on my sangria and roast my marshmallows, I’ve been battling those nagging feelings of guilt over indulging. A creeping fear that I will enjoy doing so to such an extent, that it will become a daily habit (and hence, no longer an “occasional splurge”).

Kim and I have bonded over our sangria love since we first started hanging out!

Which stinks, because what I really want to do is tell those thoughts to go to hell so that I can have fun with my friends and relax. In fact, Jeff and I have even created a little inside joke hashtag that we can throw out at me when I need to do just that – #CalmDownCaitlin.

Sometimes at summer festivities, I start feeling overwhelmed. I look around at all the good food and refreshing drinks, and I want to try it all. It’s OK to try it all! Then my over-planning mind kicks in: But what if I get full first and overeat? What heavy ingredients are in that dip? How much juice is in that sangria?

White and red sangrias, the right courtesy of yours truly.

Nothing better than crusty bread and cheese!

I am often able to find myself distracted enough by good times to quiet my mind and enjoy myself in the moment. I’m glad I haven’t been missing out on anything.

Yeah, I overloaded on the fruit in the drink.

But often times when I get home from a BBQ or a tasting event, I start dwelling on what I ate. On if it was really “necessary” for me to have a second helping, or if I really “needed” to have  a third glass of wine.

Memorial Day BBQ Dinner

Father’s Day BBQ drinks – white & red wines

OK, maybe I physically don’t need dessert, or cheesy dips, or creamy potato salad. But when I’m surrounded by family and friends enjoying those things, and when I find myself looking at them with envy, that doesn’t matter. It’s what I WANT, not what I SHOULD do, that can guide my decisions and my actions.

Family friends gathered around the dominoes table.

The problem is that I don’t trust myself when I’m surrounded by stuff I get excited about – stuff like this:

But just because I love all the food and drinks at these parties doesn’t mean I’m going to go crazy and eat everything. In fact, it means  it’s the PERFECT time for me to just sit back, enjoy myself, and try the foods that I want to try. Eat the potato salad that I want to eat, despite the fact that it’s got bacon on top. I mean, these fabulous parents are grilling us all this amazing meat and seafood, so why not throw some steak onto my plate next to the chicken?

I honestly am usually more of a savory food lover than a sweets lover, so why not have a bit of that Coca-Cola chocolate cake (below right) if I want it? Eating it will not make me want to eat it every single day from then on out.

There’s a reason everyone, me included, looks happier with an ice cream cone in hand. Ice cream is worth it. Happiness is worth it!

How cute is my friend Erica with her homemade strawberry ice cream?

No use crying over spilled milk, right? So no use feeling guilty over strawberry shortcake either. OK, that was a reach. Go with it.

When I’m smiling like this and having a good time, does it really matter that I’m not being “perfect Caitlin”? That I’m not eating clean? It’s just one day – one meal, even.

My friend Colin, stickin’ his butt in my picture.

I don’t want to look back on my summer, or any time in my life, and regret holding myself back. There are already periods of my life that I feel that way about. I don’t want there to be any more. How can I hold myself back when there are so many good times to be had?

Not sure if this qualifies as a good time.

What’s the benefit of living a physically healthy lifestyle if I can’t be mentally healthy, too? I’ll have this body for the rest of my life, but I’ll also have this mind. And the guilty feelings that invade it and scold me for following up dessert with another glass of red are not healthy.

I want to let go. I want to let the good times roll. I want to come home at the end of the day, take a deep breath, and tell myself that I wasn’t perfect today – and have that be a GOOD thing. I want to CONGRATULATE myself!

About to enjoy a s’more!

Because I deserve to laugh at moments like this…

I deserve to sit around a bonfire and play Catch Phrase with my friends…

I deserve to say “yes” when someone asks me if I’d like a s’more…

Perfect roasting position.

I deserve it all! And that’s OK.

Father’s Day…where are the fathers?

Do you have certain times of the year when indulging stresses you out more than usual? I know the holidays are another time that many worry about.

Do you have any suggestions that have been helpful to you for dealing with feeling guilty over not eating “100% clean”?

What ways are you kind to yourself mentally?

Glastonbury Rotary Club Lobster Fest 2012!

I went to bed at midnight on Saturday. If you know me, then you know this is a big deal. The last time I was up past midnight was the night of a trip to Mohegan Sun with my friends. So, what occasion had me awake past my usual 10PM bedtime? None other than an event I have looked forward to every year since I first started attending a few years ago, the Glastonbury Rotary Club’s Lobster Fest.

Outfit for the Evening:

Necklace, Bracelet: Charlotte Russe

Watch: Fossil

Top: Ahh! I don’t know! It’s my sister’s 😀

Jeans, Belt: American Eagle

Shoes: Forever 21 (Heather borrowed them when she visited!)

I spy…a floating lobster!

Every June, citizens of Glastonbury and surrounding towns gather under a huge tent with their own snacks, desserts, and drinks. Tickets are $50 apiece and will get you a meal of corn on the cob, salad, a roll, and lobster or steak. Steamers are also available.

My dad’s tray, which I so lovingly waited in line for 😉

The lines for food this year were the longest I’d ever seen! It had been cloudy earlier in the day, but thankfully it cleared right up and, for the first time in a few years, the Fest didn’t end up getting rained on later in the evening!

I got an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek at the Rotary Club volunteers in dinner prep mode!

Prepping those steamers.

Plenty of water for lobster cooking.

Now that’s a grill!

The table of lobster “crackers” was definitely the most intense work station. These folks weren’t stopping for anything! And I could see why – the pressure was on with the huge food lines, which were wrapping around in a couple “layers” of people at the busiest point.

Maria is the tweeter behind @GlastRotaryClub!

She’s also QUITE the lobster cracker.

Each group of ticket holders was assigned to one of the tables under this HUGE tent!

Our family friend Mrs. Trett brought her famous guacamole, and my mom contributed her delicious black bean and pico de gallo salad.

Another couple at our table, the Peerys, brought my favorite food of the evening, a shrimp curry dip topped with crunchy cracker crumbs and almonds! It had a cream cheese base and the curry flavor made it so unique. All of that crunch was pure satisfaction.

For dessert, our table didn’t have a lot, but the below bowl of Cool Whip, blueberries, strawberries, and pound cake went fast! I skipped out though – I’d been eating fruit ALL day and was quite fruited out.

My beverage of choice was a bottle of wine I’d received from my intro package of reds from the Wall Street Journal Wine Club, called Saracosa Toscana 2009. I don’t usually dislike red wines, but I was just not a fan of this! It just tasted…blah. Nothing special, not dry, not robust, a weak body…someone ended up drinking it but it certainly wasn’t me. Luckily my mom had brought her standby favorite wine, Avalon Cabernet 2009, and was up for sharing it with me. With my dessert (a chocolate chip cookie and the top of a FABULOUS coconut rum cupcake), I also had a glass of Relax Riesling, one of the few sweet whites that I enjoy.

Showin’ off that Reeeeelax.

Some tables REALLY go all out with the food, drinks, and decorations. I saw light-up drink glasses, frosty dispensers filled with sangria, huge summer-themed balloons, and…tiki huts?

I made laps around the tent all night and ran into neighbors, high school classmates (it wasn’t as awkward as you’d think it’d be!), and…Olivia! Not a coincidence, I knew she’d be there, but we hung out periodically throughout the night and it was great to see her again. Side note, I’m obsessed with the dress she wore, only $22 from Nordstrom Rack!

Check out the flip flop balloon behind us!

I sit with my parents and our family friends every year (if you couldn’t already tell from my food descriptions), and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


And he loves me 🙂

In addition to loving this lovely mama of mine.

My favorite part of the Lobster Fest every year isn’t the food and drinks (I swear). No, it’s the DANCING! I haven’t had a place to go and dance like I did last night, just losing myself in amazing music, since graduating from college a year ago.

I spy my mom…

There were your hit or miss songs, but the DJ did a pretty good job. Every year at the Lobster Fest, attendees go crazy for the music and dancing, no matter what generation the dancer or the song is from. I LOVE IT! Seriously, I can’t get over how much fun this night was, I keep smiling to myself like an idiot whenever I think about it. I danced with both of my parents, Olivia and her boyfriend, and high school friends throughout the night.

You know there’s trouble when the kissy face comes out.

And the duck face!

Too busy dancing for focus!

May or may not have been glow stick raving occurring.

When my parents and I got in the car to head home, I could hardly believe my eyes. It was past 11PM! The amount of surprise I had over this just goes to show you what a grandma at heart I am. But I felt so full of energy and so, so happy! I’d had a stressful day previously and the Lobster Fest was just what I needed. Thanks to the Glastonbury Rotary Club for putting on the best Lobster Fest yet!

Have you ever attended an outdoor summer festival like this?

When was the last time you went all-out and had a night of crazy dancing?

How late do you stay up on weekend nights?

Rain Can’t Stop BBQ at Mohegan Sun

There’s a great discussion about preferences, use, opinions, and more regarding SOY PROTEIN in the comments of yesterday’s post. Don’t miss it!

Check out my pre-BBQ-fest post here for info on this event and my thoughts before attending!

I woke up on Saturday and was quite bummed to see that the weather was NOT cooperating for the outdoor Mohegan Sun BBQ Fest. I received an email notifying me that the start time was being delayed until 3PM, since the weather was calling for the rain to stop by late afternoon. All day long it kept pouring down, and I have to admit I was doubtful, but I still hit the road for the casino with my foodie-friend Jeff by my side. We planned to get a drink and play a little craps before the festivities began.

Anyone who has ever been to Mohegan Sun Casino is surely familiar with the gorgeous waterfall by Todd English’s Tuscany. We sat at the bar outside the waterfall and ordered unique cocktails from Tuscany’s drink menu, which I was very pleased with because I’d already stalked that menu online and knew it was right up my alley.

Jeff’s Black & Blue Mojito and my Pisco Pumelo

The cinnamon sea salt rim on the Pisco Pumelo called to me! I ordered it sans grapefruit juice, so it was just Pisco Porton, lime juice, and ginger-spiced syrup (which I sadly couldn’t taste at all). It was essentially like a margarita with a cinnamon kick. I loved it, so refreshing!

Jeff’s loved his Black & Blue Mojito: Malibu Black and Passion Fruit, Absolut Berry Acai, pomegranate juice, lime, and a TON of mint and blueberries. Seriously, there were so many left after he’d finished it, and we transferred them to my drink and “muddled” them into it with a straw, which gave it a nice addition!

After winning $15 on the craps table ($10 of which I turned over to Jeff to pay him back for my beverage), we went to get my media pass and Jeff’s will-call ticket. (Un)fortunately I found out Jeff didn’t need to buy a ticket in the first place because I got a guest pass too, but since I didn’t know that initially, and he’d already paid for his ticket, we just decided to see the silver lining – which was that we did get 8 extra food tickets out of it!

Ready to hit the fest with our passes!

As you can see I was proudly using my Oakley Women bag from the Tone It Up Meet ‘n Greet to carry my event-coverage-essentials!

Despite the rain, the crowds were lined up at the booths, both those from Mohegan Sun restaurants and those from outside vendors, to get in some tasty BBQ eats. Jeff and I wanted to peruse everything first before deciding where to spend our food tickets. We started out at the farmers’ market.

The nuts we sampled from The Nut Lady were super tasty, but we wanted to save room for BBQ and I wanted to save my money for another farmers’ market trip I had coming up!

Some of the market booths weren’t open yet because we arrived right at the 3PM start. That included this extremely sad-looking Italian ice cart…I thought the Porta-Potties made it look extra lonely, ha!

Around this time we received word that members of the media had a tent they could go to for eats, and some custom-mixed drinks (in exchange for some tickets). Yes, please! Especially nice since it was still drizzling off and on and the benches outside were slightly damp.

Seriously nearly died over how smooth and delicious our drinks turned out – made with a little ginger ale and Spiced Cinnamon Red Stag Whiskey by Jim Beam.

The food spread in the tent was pretty impressive!

Cheddar biscuits and cornbread.

Macaroni salad and potato salad.


Vinaigrette coleslaw.

RIBS – what we came for!

We felt pretty smug when we set up our plates and cups and chowed down in the media tent. It’s fun to be a media member 🙂

Me on the left, Jeff on the right.

The verdict? The biscuits were OK, but could have been crispier and warmer. I had the kinda-crunchy exterior but left the rest. Jeff said the cornbread was northern-style – sweet and soft. NOT a fan, glad I didn’t waste stomach space on that, I needed all I could get (you’ll see). My mom’s cornbread is perfect, so savory and I have it burnt to a crisp.

Obviously I loved the veggies, but I have to mention the vinaigrette coleslaw because it really stood out to me, especially since I had expected every booth’s coleslaw offering to be mayo-smothered. This coleslaw was light, fresh, and different than any other kind offered at the BBQ Fest. I legit could’ve had a whole plate of it!

Jeff and I agreed that the ribs were tasty, but not fall-off-the-bone impressive. I liked the sauce on them! But we had some more booths to attack…we surveyed the outside vendors and searched for the one with the cheapest sampler platter, which we ended up saving for last. I love the fun carnival vibe the outside vendor displays gave to the BBQ Fest!

I was psyched to see Tennessee BBQ represented at the event, complete with UT decor. GO VOLS!

You can barely see me! Even though I’m labeled “big”? Ha!

Eek – vegetarians/vegans may want to look away now! Jeff and I were jealous of those with access to the VIP tent, who were apparently the only ones who got the chance to sample the BBQ fresh off this roasted pig!

Something exactly like this is actually what I eat on Christmas Eve every year.

Proud lovers of all meat.

There was a special rib-cooking demo going on around this time!

We hit up the Mohegan Sun food and drink booths and their affordable offerings.

I just thought this packaging was kinda hilarious…and that is seriously a TON of munchkins.

Belvedere “skinny” iced tea and lemonade cocktails!

A healthy looking slider and nice display from Margaritaville.

Our first Mohegan munchie (Meg, do you love that alliteration?) came in the form of two fabulously flaky BBQ Spring Rolls from Michael Jordan’s 23 Sport Cafe. Only 1 ticket for 2 rolls, and there were 2 foodies present…perfect! And that green aioli they were served with? TO DIE FOR.

My drink co-modeling with the food.

The offerings at the below booth from the Mohegan Sun Banquet & Catering Team were so low-priced and so delicious looking. We simply could not pass up 2 of the 3…the Grilled Chilled Jumbo Shrimp and CT Oyster Poboy with Cucumber Slaw and Herb Aioli! I LOVE AIOLI (*cough* mayo *cough*)

My kind of prices!

This shrimp was lookin’ satisfying even in a plastic bag!

That is one gorgeous poboy!

Despite the fact that our tickets purchased three shrimp, the vendors noticed we were two people sharing them, and gave us four. Jeff was the one who pointed that out, and it really impressed me. All it takes is a little something like that to feel true appreciation! And it’s true that I had been wondering how splitting that third shrimpie would go for us #foodieproblems

1 shrimp, 2 shrimp, 3 shrimp, 4! Can you tell I was super enthusiastic about my drink? It keeps showing up.

The shrimp were really good! The cocktail sauce was…well, it was cocktail sauce. I preferred eating the shrimp on its own and enjoying the flavor.

De-tailing my shrimp.

Story behind the above photo…the first time I ever ordered shrimp at a restaurant (yes, I remember), I was at Catsup and Mustard with my boyfriend at the time as well as Jeff, who was there on his inaugural Corey Wry restaurant visit after I insisted that any real Hartford area foodie couldn’t be called a foodie until trying Catsup and Mustard (which has been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives). Anyway, Jeff had to get a burger since that’s what they’re famous for, but I’d already tried them and ordered shrimp after recently discovering that I liked some seafood (I was still branching out). I proceeded to eat my first two shrimps off the skewer – including the tails. Joe and Jeff realized I was, well, crunching my shrimp and asked what the HECK I was doing. I was quite embarrassed when I found out I was supposed to remove the tail before eating it.

The Oakley Women bag and hairtie are honestly complete coincidences! Haha

But I knew what I was doing this time – see how psyched I look? I also realize that it took me way longer than it should have to tell that story above, but I was enjoying my path down memory lane 🙂

Jeff looking smug to be at Catsup and Mustard that day, I just realized he looks so different! Can’t believe this was over two years ago.

I’d just turned 21 and insisted ordering a margarita at every meal.

I’m also notorious for raising my eyebrows hardcore when I bite into anything. It’s a weird reflex, as if I think it’ll help get my mouth open wider (that’s what she said).

Not on purpose.

Other evidence of this habit…

Chillin’ with a wing at a Chops ‘n Catch beer dinner.

Apparently I even think raising my eyebrows will make me drink faster!

Clearly the habit was contagious to Jeff.

Raised brows or not, the poboy didn’t stand a chance. The oyster was so well fried, but not too much so that I couldn’t taste the seafood. The cucumber slaw added such a satisfying crunch to the fried exterior and the aioli was, again, dynamite.

Damage, done. Finally the drinks make their exit.

Next up, Jeff and I decided to split a brisket slider from Big Bubba’s BBQ and a spicy pork slider from Geno’s Fast Break. The brisket slider had some tasty meat but the bun was plain, white, and big, which is my usual beef (hardy-har) with sliders. I enjoyed the spicy pork slider much more because it was served on a nice flatbread with a soft, pita-like texture and also contained some crunchy, fresh veggie action.

Brisket on the left, spicy pork on the right.

We decided to take a food break (pacing is required at these kinds of events) and go to the main stage to watch the rib-eating contest!

The contest was headed up by an announcer dressed in his Southern best, including a fancy straw hat, which had its own hat box. We know because we spotted it in the media tent later!

Spotted: hat box.

Jeff liked the crazy high-energy of the announcer and thought he was very charismatic, but I just found him a bit ridiculous and long-winded! Still, it was funny to listen to his out-there intro for each contestant, accompanied by “get your game on” music like “Lose Yourself” by Eminem.

I think it took him about thirty minutes to intro all the contestants.

The judges lined up and then the contestants took the stage, including one randomly-chosen member of the crowd named Mitch.

Interviewing the judges.

Stare-down between contestants.

Game face is on as he unpacks his various liquids.

Most competitors showed up with a ton of different liquids! I would not want to fill up on any of those if I was participating in an eating contest, but I Googled it and I guess they help lubricate the throat. Still, I’m not sure what the purpose was behind all the different liquids this guy had! The article I linked here also only mentions water, but most competitors opted for something different.

Mitch, the contestant from the crowd, is on the far left.

Mitch ended up taking a slow pace in the contest and looked very content the whole time. Jeff and I joked that he was using it as a free dinner and seemed quite smug about it.

The only female in the competition.

When this girl came on stage, there were gasps from the crowd and cries of, “She’s so skinny!!!” But don’t judge a book by its cover – I had a feeling she was going to be tough to keep up with.

A rather hilarious candid of Joey Chestnut.

Of course the famous competitive eater and current Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest champion, Joey Chestnut, came on stage last and received the biggest cheers (and most long-winded, hyped-up intro from Mr. Announcer).

And then they were off! The competition was so graphic that we could NOT look away. And I really mean graphic in some parts…one of the contestants ended up projectile-vomiting on the announcer, who had been standing right in front of him at the time!

The culprit? The guy on the left.

It was also graphic and hard to look away in the sense that these guys were just SO into their rib eating. Joey especially didn’t have a care in the world except getting down as many ribs as possible, no matter how gross he looked doing it or how messy he got!


Had to take a pic of this little girl – blogger in the making?!

In the end, Joey Chestnut was crowned champion of the Sun BBQ Fest Rib-Eating Competition, though the female contestant came in second place and lost by only about 1/4 lb of ribs!

Yeah, I won, so what?

Watching all that rib-eating made Jeff and I not hungry, but also not stuffed any longer, so we decided to get a sampler plate from one of the outside BBQ vendors. My readers know I love my sampler plates!

I think this was called The Panhandler? Only 6 food tickets!

We ended up being completely unable to finish this, but at least Jeff had leftovers to take home. The platter came with pulled pork, ribs, coleslaw, beans, and Texas toast. The mayo-laden coleslaw paled in comparison to that light and fresh vinaigrette coleslaw served in the media tent, and the Texas toast wasn’t toasted at all – but Texas-sized hunks of bread! However, the protein of the platter – the beans, pork, and ribs – was all very good. Definitely better ribs than in the media tent, and a better BBQ sauce. Still, despite how good the meat was, there was a lot left after we filled up!

My napkin pile…

We shared a cup of red wine and a cup of white since it was only 2 tickets per cup, but we didn’t even have room in our stomachs to finish that! Competitive eaters, we are not. The Authentic Red was pretty good but I actually preferred the Pinot Grigio, probably because I just wanted something REALLY light.

We left with fun memories and full bellies – just what we were hoping for. Congrats to Mohegan Sun for putting on a great event despite the rain, and thanks for having us!

What was the best BBQ meal you ever had? How about the best BBQ sauce?

Have you ever had a REALLY good bourbon or whiskey? I’m becoming a big fan lately!

Have you ever watched a competitive eating contest? What do you think of them overall?