Archive for September, 2012

September Foodie Pen Pals reveal!

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For several months, I’ve seen posts pop on on Twitter and blogs I follow about Foodie Pen Pals, sharing pictures of boxes of fun foods and goodies from other people. Each month I meant to sign-up and forgot or decided to late. I finally got in on the fun this last month!

Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean started Foodie Pen Pals back in September 2011 and has over 1300 participants! She pairs up people, you send a box to someone, and someone else send a box to you. You don’t have to be a blogger to participate, but if you are, you get to blog about the goodies you receive.

 

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I got to send a box to Ali in Connecticut. She doesn’t have a blog, but I know she received my box. I sent her Columbia Restaurant Sangria mix, recipe for pumpkin fluff, can of pure pumpkin, pudding mix, smoothie mix, Frank’s Hot Sauce, and Parkesdale Strawberry Preserves, all packaged carefully in this box….

 

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I was SO excited to receive my box in the mail. I received mine from Olga at You+Me=Fit. I had no idea what I was going to receive for my first time… Turns out it was Olga’s first month participating as well!

 

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I could not wait to open the box….

 

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It was full of goodies!

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I love the note she included, explaining what each item was and if she had tried them before or not.

 

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What Olga sent:

  • Annie’s Green Goddess Salad Dressing – Olga noted that it is her absolute favorite salad dressing ever. I had never tried it before. Oh. My. Gosh. Olga was right. It is so good, I had it on tomato with lots of pepper. So simple yet so delicious.

 

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  • Avocado Oil Potato Chips – I am currently obsessed with avocados, I eat one almost every day. Fresh avocado, when ripe, is so yummy. I have heard of avocado oil, but have never tried it. The chips were really good. I like them because they were not too greasy and were nice and crunch. I need to find out where to buy these…

 

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  • Larabar Lemon Bar – first time trying one of these, and it was good!
  • Orange Spice Cinnamon Tea – I have not yet tried this yet, but I am sure I will love it.
  • Edamame w/ Goji Berries – I have never had edamame, but I know a lot of people like it. I’m going to have these on a salad this week!
  • Ginger Apple Spice Candies – These may have been my favorite thing in the box. They are chewy and I love the apple spice flavor. At only 20 calories each, I definitely need to find these to keep on hand. One of them does the trick as they take a few minutes to chew. Perfect for just after a meal when you want a little something sweet. And as Olga pointed out, the ginger in them is great for indigestion and immunity.

 

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  • Protein Poppers – These were homemade by Olga, her “own little creations for a quick burst of energy or to curb hunger”. They are made with oats, chocolate chips, peanut butter, ground flax seed, and raw honey. They were so yummy! Hubby had one too and he loved it. I’ll need to make these.

 

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  • DrinkChia – Chia seeds seems to be very popular right now, I see a lot of recipes using them. This drink was Mango Tangerine flavor, both flavors that I love. However, I didn’t like the seeds in it. I think I would like them better blended into a smoothie or maybe mixed in a salad.

 

Thank you so much, Olga, for the wonderful goodies! I had so much fun participating in this, trying new foods that I may not buy. And now I have some new foods and treats that I like and will definitely continue to enjoy.

If you’d like to join in the fun, be sure to go HERE to sign-up for October. You must sign-up by 9pm October 4th to be included in this month’s. if you sign-up after, you’ll be included in the next month’s. It’s so much fun, I hope you’ll join in!

 

Have you ever received a new food from someone that you would never had tried on your own?

Sunday in the kitchen

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This morning I want to share recipe that I tried on Friday night. I had chicken that I either needed to use or freeze, and some veggies that I needed to use as well. I decided to throw it altogether and see what happens. What happened was a delicious meal, one that hubby went back for seconds for!

The ingredients were so simple, and cheap.

 

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1 pack of boneless skinless chicken thighs

6 red potatoes

1/4 white onion

Baby carrots

1 can fat-free chicken broth

Seasonings (I use celery salt, pepper, garlic powder)

 

Quarter the potatoes, leave skins on. If they are bigger, you may need to cut them smaller. Slice the onion into strips. Place all in large baking dish. Add chicken broth and add seasonings.

 

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Bake in oven for 50 minutes on 350 degrees. Your house will smell wonderful while it is cooking. I checked the potatoes with a fork to know when it was done.

 

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We normally eat a lot of chicken breast, and you could easily use that instead of chicken thighs. But, I think chicken thighs are much more tender. This was really good. I love throwing ingredients together and finding another easy, inexpensive meal to make. You could easily put this altogether in the morning and throw in the oven when you get home. Or… You could cook it in a crockpot. Now I just need to come up with a name for it…

 

I also found a new treat this week at the store. I had recently seen a picture on Instagram from a fellow blogger (BocaFrau) and made a mental note that I need to find it. It was a picture of Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Spice Bread. When I was at Publix the other day, I had pumpkin on the brain and remembered the bread. I was so excited to see that they had it (along with other yummy flavors but I wanted pumpkin). Rather than wait till breakfast the next morning to have it, of course I had to try it when I got home.

 

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It has a wonderful cinnamon aroma and just the right amount of pumpkin flavor. It’s a winner!

 

Do you have any easy recipes that you’ve created from ingredients you already have?

My introduction to Peak Wellness

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Recently, I was contacted by Chris Kelly with Peak Wellness to discuss a partnership… I would receive personal training in exchange for recognition and discussion on my blog. I know that several of the Tampa Bay Lady Bloggers have worked with Chris, so I was very excited to hear from him for this opportunity.

Let’s face it…. I need help in this department. I need some direction with training and working out, now more-so than ever since my sciatica. Ever since then, I’ve had this nagging thought in the back of my mind that I am going to be terrified to start working out again for fear of hurting myself. That is a very scary thought, after all the pain I was in AND all the progress I’ve made since then.

And while I was super excited at the thought of personal training in exchange for talking about here on my little blog, what made me even happier was the personal touch that Chris had when he emailed me. He had read my blog, feels I am a role model for my readers, he is aware of my injury, and would talk to my physical therapist if needed. I was sold. I have been very happy with my physical therapist, he has helped me a lot since that first visit, and it immediately made me comfortable that Chris would talk to him. I expressed as much to Chris, letting him know that I do not want to do anything to undo the progress I’ve made. He also pointed out to me that he does post-rehab for runners suffering from different injuries.

So, Chris and I set up a time to meet, and this past Tuesday I went to the Plaza Fitness Center in the Bank of America building in downtown Tampa. Chris has a gym in Lakeland and is in Tampa two days a week. The fitness center is located in the basement of the building. It is a very nice facility – very clean, plenty of amenities, filled with state of the art equipment. I’ve driven past the Bank of America building countless times… Who knew there was such a nice gym in the basement!

 

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Chris and I talked about my injury and where I’m at with it, my goals, and more. He took a genuine interest in me and my concerns. I’m no stranger to gyms and trainers, and they are not all like that.

My goals…. Honestly, I am still holding out hope that I can somehow participate in the Women’s Half Marathon in November. Pre-sciatica I wasn’t going to ever be able to run the whole thing anyway, if I have to walk more of it than run it, than that’s what I have to do. Chris is aware of my desire to be able to do this and while he thinks it’s a bit of a lofty goal, it’s not totally out of the question. The next several weeks will really determine how much of a reality that will be. With just 7 weeks until the race, I have my work cut out for me. Short-term goal would be able to participate in the half, long-term goal is to get this body of mine back in shape and stronger.

This injury is currently my biggest challenge right now as far as my health and fitness go. I want to be out there walking and running and training, and that came to a screeching halt to the day I felt that pain down the back of my leg. It’s been a huge setback and has absolutely kept me from getting to where I had hoped to be for the race.

After Chris and I spoke at length about this, he put me through a movement screening to see my range of motion, flexibility, and more. It was very obvious that my left side is much weaker than my right side, which of course I attribute to my sciatica. Surprising to me, was Chris’s feeling that the sciatica may have been a result of weakness. For a long time, my only working-out has been walking or running – no strength training. I openly admitted to Chris that I am certain I don’t run properly, it’s not easy for me. All this works together in how my body responds.

After the movement screening, Chris showed me several things I can do to help with my calves. He asked me if I’ve ever foam rolled and of course the answer was no. We joked about how I’ve heard people talk about it, that’s it’s great afterwards, but it really hurts while you’re doing it. He showed me a modification I can do with a tennis ball to help loosen up the sore spots and knots. It’s amazing how something as simple as a tennis ball can help you pinpoint those spots and help to work them out.

I think I made it pretty clear to Chris that I am not opposed to hard work to get back in shape. I welcome his interest in helping me, and designing a program specific to my needs. We will meet once or twice a week to make sure I am doing everything right and to discuss any concerns I have. I am very much excited about the opportunity to have this training and guidance. My weight will always be an issue for me, and while what I’m eating goes a long way to help that, I want to have a stronger body, one that will not be prone to injury. And that is where Chris and Peak Wellness comes in. Between the one-on-one training, the personalized program, and the online community that my friend Steph is in charge of, I have every chance to succeed at this. So, I am VERY happy to be a Peak Wellness Community Ambassador!

 

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There are several ways you can find out more about Peak Wellness:

Website:   http://peakwellnessonline.com/

Twitter: @PeakWellness1

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/peakwellnessonline

TBLB Book Club

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Last night was the second Tampa Bay Lady Blogger’s Book Club and after missing the first one, I was so happy to make it to this one. Even better? The book selected was one that I had already read – and loved. The book was Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess). If you are not familiar with The Bloggess, she has a blog, and is a writer, married, with a daughter, and has cats. Her blog is hilarious, and so is her Twitter feed. You can find her blog here.

Five of us met at Smokey Bones in Clearwater and enjoyed adult beverages and yummy food. I ordered the Blush Sangria, it was very good!

 

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A new member joined us, which was fun. Jacqueline had not read the book, but by night’s end, I’m pretty sure she was ready to go out and buy it immediately. She has a blog as well, you can find her over at Pardon Our Sawdust. I think we also convinced her to join Twitter.

A couple appetizers later (which I forgot to take pictures of! Spinach and artichoke dip, and chips and salsa…), and our orders placed, we started talking about the book. I brought a few book club discussion questions with me, but we talked about so much more, I think.

 

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If you’re read the book, you’ll know that there was a laughter in reading it. Well, there was just as much laughter in talking about it. I think one of the things I loved most about the book was her husband Victor’s reaction to everything. I just envision a lot of eye-rolling and head-shaking. I think he should write his own book – that would be great!

Of course I had to take a picture of my dinner. I ordered the half-salad and loaded baked potato with pulled pork. Delicious does not even describe it. Probably I should have moved the empty sangria glass from the photo so it wasn’t so obvious that I had two. Don’t hate.

 

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We also talked about the next book to read and set up a date. Since we are bloggers, we like to read books written by bloggers. The first book for the book club back in June was A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. I loved that book and will likely read it again.

I really enjoyed the evening with the ladies, it was fun talking and laughing about the book and more. I know I keep saying it, but it’s amazing how this blog of mine has allowed me to meet such great women and have opportunities such as these.

 

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                                                       Thank you Caroline for sharing this picture!

 

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                                                                               Left to right:

                                                       Debbie, Jacqueline, RachelCaroline, and me!

 

I look forward to our next book club meeting! Good times!

 

Do you belong to a book club? If so, do you choose books with a specific theme?

 

 

 

Fall Favorites

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Fall is my favorite time of year and my favorite season. Here in Florida, we have miserable summers with hot and humid days. It can be unbearable. Whenever summer starts, I wonder how I will survive three months of awful humidity. I dread sweating as I get ready in the morning, despite the a/c. And even worse, sweating some more when I walk out the front door. I literally count the days to fall.

This past Saturday marked the first day of fall. To say that makes me happy is an understatement. I live for fall! And while we don’t have the typical fall here in the Sunshine State that others experience up north, we finally have temperatures that drop out of the 80’s at night and wonderful breezes.

To celebrate the arrival of fall, I thought I’d share some of my fall favorites…

 

  • Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks. Yes, you knew this was coming. And while I tend to think they bring it back too soon, it is a wonderful treat, and a sign that fall is quickly approaching. The only thing better? When the holiday cups come out. There is just something about a pumpkin spice latte in a holiday cup that makes me happy.

 

  • Shorter days. I, personally, like shorter days because it means we will have some sort of temperature change. California is a good example – some places can experience a 20 – 30 degree temperature change when the sun sets. That is just not the case here and in summer, it rarely drops below 80 degrees, which means the a/c is running all night. But when the sun sets earlier, it cools off a little more.

 

  • I love pumpkin. And cinnamon, and nutmeg. Those flavors are the epitome of fall. Ironically, I have never been a fan of pumpkin pie, but I’ll take a slice of my mom’s pumpkin cheesecake anytime. And I love to make pumpkin fluff (you can find the recipe here). Starbucks has amazing pumpkin scones and pumpkin loaf. Love it.

 

  • My fall decorations. I have a nice assortment of fall and pumpkin-themed candles and decorations. This week they will be unpacked. I can’t wait.

 

  • Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday of the year. The food is amazing, my mom has always made a wonderful spread – turkey with Italian sausage stuffing, crab cakes (a family joke, not really crab cakes, but fried stuffing patties, shrimp and homemade cocktail sauce, blue cheese and celery, amazing mashed potatoes, and dinner rolls. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I also love Thanksgiving because it is the first day of the holiday season.

 

  • My niece’s name is Autumn. Adorable, right? I love her oodles!

 

“Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.”

 

Is fall your favorite time of year? What do you love about it?

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