Monday, October 26, 2009

Meet Me On the Equinox

Quick lunchtime post... just bought the The Twilight Saga: New Moon soundtrack from iTunes and am loving it so far!
I saw the video for Death Cab for Cutie's contribution, "Meet Me On the Equinox" when it was released a week or so ago and thought it to be a bit cheesy. It's much better to listen to as background music. I am stoked to listen to the Bon Iver and St. Vincent duet, the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club song and several others. It is quite the star-studded, packed album!
Breakfast this AM was consumed on the go... a slice of oat nut bread with organic peanut butter and raspberry champagne jam. This bread was very soft, yet had a hearty consistency with the whole grains. Delicious. Enjoyed with a hugh jass iced coffee from Starbucks.
Yep, I am still drinking iced coffee, despite the season change. Is that odd?
The drive in was foggy and rainy this AM - boo. Couldn't see Lake Michigan at all.
Though it was dreary, I realized that I am lucky to A) have such a short commute and B) have such great scenery on the way! I drive over Milwaukee's iconic Hoan Bridge every single day, and have great views of the city skyline, the lakefront, the Milwaukee Art Museum and more.
What is your commute to work / school like? Are there any landmarks that you enjoy seeing every day?
Lunch is leftover vegan chili a la Zak - I added about 2 tbsp of organic plain yogurt to mimic sour cream.
With some unpictured, McGyver-ed saltine crackers from the deli downtstairs and a Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper.
I don't always drink diet soda, in fact I try to avoid it, but today I was craving some fizz and a little caffeine buzz. Also, this flavor rocks.
Dessert will be some more lovely grapes, cool and crunchy.
I've got a mountain of stuff to do - have a great afternoon!

No Scrubs.

The rest of the Ingrid Michaelson show was great! She did an opera-esque cover of TLC's "No Scrubs," LOL. Also, she covered UB40's "Falling in Love With You." Hope that she'll be back around in the springtime.
Okay, okay... my foodie inspiration came back pretty quickly :-) Just got home, famished, and decided to capitalize on the oh-so-tantalizing fresh grapes and organic yogurt in my fridge...
The huge bowl started with one chopped Honeycrisp apple.
Next up, the aforementioned grapes.
Topped off with organic plain Stonyfield yogurt, some crushed Barbara's Peanut Butter Puffins cereal, and chopped pecans... YES.
This yogurt monster creation was delicious and refreshing. I've been a bit dehydrated all weekend, and the fruit was exactly what I was craving.
Though it is now raining outside, today was a beautiful day. While I didn't take photos of Chance (the horse), I did get some photos of the gorgeous scenery from the drive.
I loved this house (barn?) on the hill.
The scenery at home was adorable, as usual :-).
Some other eats from today... breakfast:
Veggie scramble a la Zak.
Loved this except for the soy cheese that was snuck in there - to me, it just doesn't blend well with the flavor of eggs.
Favorite OJ.
Also - The other day, I attempted to make "Egg-in-the-hole."
I liked it, but don't care for the texture of fried eggs, so probably won't make it again anytime soon. Easy and quick, though. Tasted even better topped with Cholula hot sauce.
What's your favorite way to prepare eggs?
Alrighty, going to attempt to get some sleep now. G'night!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Here, take my sweater...

Good evening!
...Writing to you live from our show with Ingrid Michaelson at Turner Hall Ballroom. The house is packed, and so far everything is going great. The opener, Matthew Perryman Jones, is playing right now. I am digging his acoustic, mellow sound as I type away in the tech office.
Do you guys like Ingrid Michaelson? I've gotta admit, her songs have me hooked. "The Way I Am" (aka the Sweater song) is constantly stuck in my head and I am guilty of singing it in the shower. Her new single "Maybe" is pretty fun.
So lately I haven't had much time for new posts... nor have I been enjoying much interesting food. Today though, I did get to do something fitness-related... a horseback riding lesson!
I didn't get any photos today, but will fill you in. I found a wonderful person who is willing to give me private lessons for a nominal fee. In exchange, I am expected to tack and groom my horse, help with horse training, etc. Needless to say... this is VERY EXCITING and I am pinching myself to make sure it's really happening!
My horse's name is Chance, he's a certified Paint / Pinto mix gelding and is very well trained. I have never worked with such a well-behaved or gentle animal. Here's a photo from the owner's posting - isn't he handsome?
We had a great two hours today getting to know each other, and I can't wait for the next lesson. Eventually I will be riding the trails of Wisconsin's Kettle Moraine area, which will be incredible to experience.
I really enjoyed the ride to and from the farm, which was about an hour away from my home. The trees are at their peak of fall colors right now, and I absorbed all of the beautiful reds, oranges, and yellows from my viewpoint behind the wheel of Edward.
Other highlights... Zak bought some Honeycrisp apples and shared one with me. WOW are these great. How have I never tried one before? What's your favorite type of apple?
Gonna get back to work. Have a great evening!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

This Rocks: "Frugalista" blogs

Friends, this girl loves herself a deal.
When it comes to shopping, I've recently gotten into pairing coupons and sales to get some amazing deals. Why pay more, right?
For example, today I visited Walgreens and picked up their in-store ad. There was a tear-out coupon for $.99 Lindsay Olives, for which I had a "$1 off 2" manufacturer coupon (click on the link and you will, too!). Since you can use in-store and manufacturer coupons together, I bought 2 jars for just $.49 each! Super cheap.
Wags also had an in-store ad coupon for Starbucks Frappucino bottled drinks for $1.29 each. I had manufacturer coupons for $1 off, so I picked up 2 for just $.29 each.
I told a friend that I'd put a listing of some of my favorite coupon / thrifty blogs together for her, and thought I'd share with you folks as well.
The tone is tounge-in-cheek, and KCL features a ton of useful information, from listings of internet printable coupons to freebies.
Another great site - several updates are made daily. Blogger Mercedes constantly posts great tips about store sales and coupon matchups, free samples and more.
Tara posts constantly, and seems to scour every edge of the Internet to post about deals! Right now, she has a post about an EarthFare promotion (wish we had these in WI) and a Santa Cruz $.75 off natural juices coupon. Great stuff.
Visiting these blogs is a fun daily activity, and I feel good when I save money. Hope that you enjoy them as much as I have.
Another preview photo from Nashville...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Where the Heart Is

Tuesday night... 10PM... and it feels good to be home.
Zak and I had a great time in Nashville, but were both anxious to get back to Milwaukee; back to our apartment, our pets, and most of all - back to normal food!
We got into the airport and decided on our tasks: Zak went to his parents house to pick up Blue, and I went on a grocery shopping bonanza.
Now Zak usually does the majority of our grocery shopping because, ahem, he eats most of the groceries. I typically pick up staples, stuff for my baking projects, and hot ticket items that I match coupons and sales for. After this evening's trip, I have a new respect for Zak and his thrifty produce shopping. Let's just say I picked the wrong kind of apples and spent like $5.16 on 6 - ouch. Also learned that cauliflower costs $4, which seems unjust.
I digress. We got right into dinner... Huge salads with spinach and black beans, and tons of raw veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, et. al.
I heated up some Trader Joe's multigrain pilaf on the side, topped with some green salsa.
So I ate about half the salad and all of the pilaf, and remembered that I had sliced up a sweet potato and was baking some cheetahs! I put away my leftover salad (lunch tomorrow) and dove in.
Mmmmmmm, is there anything better? These really hit the spot on this cool Wisconsin evening.
A couple hours later, I was ready for something sweet. Enter: Ben & Jerry's Half Baked fro-yo. On the side, an episode of True Blood. I can't get enough of this show!
Hello, Lover.
I am beat and have a million things to unpack. Tomorrow will be crazy with having been gone a few days, but I am hoping to post some photos and such from the rest of our Nashville trip.
A sneak preview... yup, that's a red carpet.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

And the Winner is...

Sorry to have left you guys hanging with the Cory Chisel CD giveaway! Had a crazy week with work and leaving for a vacation (more on that later).
The winner of the Cory Chisel CD giveaway is... Ali from Let the Sunshine In!
Congrats Ali - shoot me an email ( and let me know your address.
See you guys soon!

So come and visit me in Music City...

Hello friends... blogging to you direct from Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tennessee.
I have been enjoying a long weekend here with Zak, and so far we've done a whole lot of nothing. The resort is beautiful, 100% man-made "gardens" under huge glassed in ceilings, waterfalls and rivers, the works. It's gorgeous and we're having a great time.
We've enjoyed taking in the sights, working out at the great fitness center and pool, and even made it to their Vegas-style nightclub for some dancing. Can't say that I've ever paid $22 for two cocktails, but hey! We're on vacation.
As for Nashville itself, we're gonna get there tomorrow. Will be spending the better part of the day touring the historic Ryman Auditorium and exploring Downtown.
Now that we've been here a couple days, we both are thinkin' we could have planned ahead a bit more, food-wise. The restaurants here are nice, but are overpriced ($17 for pancakes? Seriously!). We found a Cracker Barrel restaurant that's about .75 miles from our room at the resort, and have visited twice. For our dietary needs, there are a few menu options that offer fish or seafood, as well as a breakfast menu that's offered all day long. Tonight for dinner, I had two scrambled eggs, grits and biscuits. Random, definitely breakfast foods, but they did the trick to fill me up. Zak liked his entree of seasoned catfish filets, baked beans and a side salad. Our tab, including tip, was easily half of what it would be had we dined at the resort.
For snacks, I brought several packets of Justin's Natural maple almond butter, a can of Blue Diamond whole natural almonds, and a couple random bars. Honestly, I wish that I had brought 3x the amount of healthy foods, especially fruits and veggies. It would have been very easy to bring a couple cucumbers, a small bunch of bananas, and some apples in my carry on bag. Does anyone know is hummus is allowed to clear through security? Not sure that it's considered a liquid / gel.
Anyway, time for some photos! I really enjoyed this Jam Frakas strawberry bar that I won from Heather's contest. It's from the makers of Larabar, so I guess that's no surprise! The texture was dense, the ingredient list was all stuff I recognized, and I loved the little crunchy strawberry seeds. I haven't seen these around the stores, but if I see 'em will definitely purchase in the future.
I have had my share of indulgences, too. This morning after my workout, this pastry was giving me the eye, so I took care of it :-)
Apricot cream cheese danish... mmm.
Yesterday, I was excited to find a Romano's Macaroni Grill nearby. We had lunch and started with their signature rosemary bread with olive oil, and delicious marinated olives.
I've been thinking a lot about Backstage Pass and am going to be making some changes over the next week, tweaking and revamping the theme and look. I'd like to achieve better consistency with topics, if you have any input I'd love to hear it. Of course, these thoughts don't pertain to just the blog but also to my overall approach toward health, diet, exercise, etc. I believe in rethinking things where necessary, and that evolution is the best approach to problem-solving. Gotta do what works for you!
Anyhow... hope to blog tomorrow with a recap of Downtown Nashville. Cheers, friends!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Jungle Jack Hanna, Bon Iver, and million dollar meals

Before we get into things - Here's a friendly reminder to please, please enter my first ever giveaway contest! You have until 6PM central time tomorrow (Monday) - please do enter by leaving a comment. I wanna buy one of you that CD, and your support means a lot to me!
Thank you :-)
As another weekend winds down, I find myself relaxing at work listening to a great show... Bon Iver. Justin Vernon (singer, aka Bon Iver) was the spokesperson at AIDS Walk Wisconsin earlier today in Milwaukee, and the concert serves as an extension of this outreach effort. It's great to have worked on a show that benefits this very important cause.
This evening, I visited our newly redecorated catering / hospitality area tonight at the Riverside (our biggest venue) and must say - it's sleek, sophisticated and stylish. Felt more like an upscale restaurant than anything! I got to sample one of the desserts, which was some type of lemon creme confection.
Pardon the iPhone photo. That's some gorgeous Milwaukee skyline in the background. This is what the rock stars see when they dine at the table I was sitting at.
Earlier today, I started things off on the right foot with this lovely breakfast.
Plain organic Stonyfield Farms yogurt, one chopped plum, raspberries.
Whole wheat toast, topped with PB&Co honey peanut butter.
OJ in a favorite mug. This b-fast made me feel like a million bucks.
Check out that glorious pile 'o produce in the background. Zak went grocery shopping. I am a lucky lady.
The big activity for the afternoon was a live animal show with 'Jungle' Jack Hanna, at the Pabst! Zak's adorable niece and nephew had their first visit to the theater, and got to meet Jungle Jack himself. Guess who else got to finally meet him?
!!!!! This woman! Can you tell I was super excited?
Jack Hanna is one of my favorite human beings... he has educated so many thousands of people about wildlife conservation through his TV appearances and shows. His sense of humor is one of a kind, he's a gifted communicator as well. He's also quite the humanitarian.
It was a great time with Ben, Elise, and of course the grownups, Taylor and Jen. Hoping to arrange another outing soon.
Later, I enjoyed this super salad prepared by Chef Zak.
It had a little bit of everything, and on the side I made some Texas Toast.
I inhaled it :-) Fresh vegetables and fruit feel so different in my stomach than other foods. Back to that million dollar feeling! Good stuff.
It's now after 10PM and I am thinking of heading home. Sweet dreams, blog friends!

Friday, October 9, 2009

First CONTEST ever - Cory Chisel CD giveaway!

Yup, that's right - my first ever GIVEAWAY here at Backstage Pass to Health & Happiness!
Wow... is all I have to say. I am listening to the new album from Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons, and it's pretty great.
This post falls into the 'Happiness' category of my blog name. As you know, music is a big part of my life - I am pretty involved with it career-wise, and first and foremost, as a fan. Every now and then, I will post about musical artists or new album releases to keep you in the know :-)
Cory Chisel is a Wisconsin artist who has grown quite a bit over the past few years. His new album was produced by Joe Chiccarelli, who is known for his work with The Shins and The White Stripes. I've seen Cory & the Sons perform countless times at our venues, and he has this unique, soulful and smooth voice. An incredible musician. I couldn't be more proud that as a Wisconsin artist, he is finally getting the respect and exposure he deserves in the national spotlight!
Most importantly - he will be performing LIVE tonight on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon! How's that for awesome? Do me a favor and please check it out tonight.
And now, what you've all been waiting for - the first ever GIVEAWAY!!!
I am going to buy one of you Cory's new CD, Death Won't Send a Letter. This contest is in no way endorsed by anyone or any company, I just personally think this artist is so great that one of you deserves to check him out on my dime!
Here's how to enter:
1. Click here to preview the CD.
2. Leave a comment on this blog post, about which track you like the best and why
ie, I really love "So Wrong for Me" - very relatable!
3. Earn an extra entry by posting about this on your own blog (do another comment here with your link, or send me an email @ to give me the heads up)
Sound good? Entries will be accepted until Monday 10/12 at 6PM CDT. Good luck!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Freakin' Weekend

Can you feel it? Just one day away!
Today has been very productive at work... this AM we announced the David Cook concert I've been working so diligently on. I've never really gotten into the Idol stuff, but this should be an interesting show.
I am currently buried in invoices - blah. I haven't really had to solid of a meal today, just some snackin' here and there...
I kicked off the morning with a Perfect Oatmeal from Starbucks. Because I have instant and slow-cook oats at home, I don't often go this route, but really love it when I do. It's a quick, easy and transportable meal option that stays hot. until I am ready to add the toppings at my desk.
In the mix: one packet of mixed chopped nuts, one packet of dried fruit, and 1/2 packet of brown sugar.
Later on, I grabbed some Udi's granola nuggets.
The nuggets contain oats, honey, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, and not much else. They are thick and delicious. I bought these onboard the Frontier Airlines flight from Denver (couple weeks ago). I have to see if I can buy these locally, they're great!
Have you found any great airline snacks or meal options?
Also, had some more berries... on their last leg. Glad I finished them.
Tonight = NEW EPISODE of The Office! New Parks & Recreation! Can't wait.
What television shows are you into this fall?