Tuesday, November 30, 2010

'Tis the Season: Workout DVDs

With every passing Holiday season, comes the inevitable New-Year, New-You / get-back-into-a-fitness-routine-with-THIS-gimmicky/awful-product, season.
Yes, this is real, it's true. I can't believe I missed this being released last week.


For those fitness buffs on your Holiday shopping list, look to these fun new release workout DVDs for gift ideas. Here are some that have caught my eye:

1. Dance with Julianne: Just Dance! 
I don't really watch Dancing With the Stars, but am somehow familiar with Julianne Hough. She's stinking adorable, and I really want to try out her DVD workout. 
And something tells me that even though Zak detests DWTS, he wouldn't mind following along with Julianne and trying out this routine. Bonus. 

2. Jillian Michaels: 6 Week Six-Pack
Who doesn't love Jillian Michaels? I would love for her to mold me a six-pack in 6 weeks. Hopefully her plan doesn't include taking her B.S. weight loss supplements. 

3. Dance Fitness Workouts: Urban Street and African Beat with MaDonna Grimes
Admittedly, I have not yet heard any buzz about this DVD. I picked it off of Amazon's new release list because it looks awesome. Having taken African dance classes in the past, this caught my eye. The description promises that the program offers "Dance moves you can take to the club," so that sounds good to me! Plus, it looks like on the cover, MaDona's sport bra says 'JIINGA.' That can only be good.
Note: this DVD won't be released until January 25, 2011. 

4. Billy Blanks: This Is Tae Bo
Okay, ok. I know what you're thinking, and you're right. This did make my list mainly for its narcissistic title. However, I've heard in general that 'Tae Bo' is fun. You can pick this up used on Amazon for $7. So, there you go.

5. The Situation Workout

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't curious about just how gimmicky and awful this might be. You'd be lying if you aren't even a little curious, too. 
Maybe I'll have a party, and invite you all to come and try out 'The Sitch's' ab routine with me? We'll have some beers, some chips and dip, then try this workout. Then, we'll have ourselves a real situation.

Questions: What workout DVDs are you raring to try? Any current favorites?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

'Tis the season: an awesome gift for that preggo in your life

Happy Black Wednesday, everyone! Are you all stoked for Turkey Day tomorrow?

I am really excited for two days off from work, and to spend time with family. Oh yeah, and for all of the delicious food :-)

Today's post is Holiday-themed! I've gotten a head start on gift shopping, namely for Zak's sister Jem. She and husband Kevin are expecting their first child in April, and I've had a lot of fun researching some fun parent gifts for them. We want to get something silly, and something nice / useful.

Well, I've found the funny gifts:
This is from MuthaCrafter on Etsy. There are also framed prints, a t-shirt, and tote bags available with this design.

There's something cheeky for Dad-to-be, too:
Cute, no? 

Hope that you're having a great day. Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday night, is bourbon night.

At the end of a rough week, I am not always a social butterfly. I love my friends and enjoy my coworkers, but sometimes it's best if I spend a little time home alone, instead of kicking off the weekend at a concert.

Especially when on Friday afternoon, a celebrated blogger posts a recipe that sounds so delicious it makes one speed from the office, straight to the grocery store. To buy heavy whipping cream, of course.

For what? Caramel sauce. *Insert Homer Simpson drooling sound*

After seeing Jenna's recipe, I just had to try and make this myself. I very much enjoyed the process!

It's chemistry, really, but I found it fascinating that a pile of sugar and a couple tablespoons of water went from this:

To this, almost instantly boiling.

To this (!)

After adding the whipping cream:
And then, I added my own personal touch to the recipe. 

What goes better with caramel sauce than bourbon? :-) Just a little bit (1/4 cup).

Technically, Jack Daniel's is whiskey (not Bourbon). I know. I think that bourbon sounds fancier, so I'm sticking with it. So there. This caramel sauce would taste excellent with real bourbon, such as Basil Hayden's or Maker's Mark.

Once I was finished making the sauce, I decided I would need something to eat it on. A caramel sauce vehicle, if you will. And what better to go with Bourbon caramel sauce, than ice cream?

Frozen banana soft serve ice cream, that is. If you haven't heard about this recipe, you must have been living in a cave for the past year and a half.

Anyhow, you start with your frozen bananas, chop into pieces and discard the skins.

Then take 'em for a spin in your food processor.

I usually add a little almond milk to smooth things out, but was out of that so used the next best thing... more whipping cream ;-)

Keep spinning in your food processor, stopping every now and then to smooth out clumps that form. After a couple minutes, the mixture will have the consistency of soft serve ice cream. Mmmm.

I spooned some into a ramekin,

Topped with some bourbon caramel sauce, 

Dropped the spoon in the saucepan... drat. Will just have to lick the spoon later.


And more sauce.

Put it all together, and what do you get? Exactly what I needed tonight, and 100% homemade and wonderful.

Oh, and I 'dropped the spoon' again. Darn :-) Guess I'll have to fish that one out, too! What to do with another caramel-covered spoon? Hmmm....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A girl can dream: Kate Middleton's ring

Disclaimer: I'm not much into celebrities, or material things, so this post is a rarity for me. BUT it's a fun one, so just play along :-)

As you may have heard, Prince William of England is now engaged to marry long-time girlfriend Kate Middleton. 

Side note: Good for them for waiting several (nine?) years, that's what modern couples should do (in my opinion).
He proposed to her with his mother's - Princess Diana's - gorgeous sapphire and diamond ring, which he reportedly carried around for three weeks before popping the question. Aww.
(image source)

I am a fan of Diamond Nexus Labs and their lab-created, but authentic gemstones. You get the same beautiful end result, but without the blood and politics (and cost!) of mined stones. 

Check out DNL's Lady of Kensington replica of Princess Diana's, and now Kate Middleton's ring:

Pretty pretty, wouldn't you say? I may have to buy myself one for my upcoming 29th birthday...

I'm not engaged, but I did receive this sweet Simply Vera by Vera Wang created white sapphire ring from Zak last year for Christmas. 
Love it!

Questions for you: What celebrity's engagement ring are you lusting after? If you're engaged or married, what does your engagement ring look like? :-)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday, Monday

So today was one of those days.

You know, a work projects stacked up as far as you can see, rushing all day long, forgetting to eat lunch until 4:28PM type of day. Thank goodness for white chocolate macadamia nut clif bars. I ate one for 'lunch' and it seriously cheered me up.

Anyhow! Enough moping around. Once home for the evening, I cut and sorted some of these:

Fact: The best coupons are issued around Thanksgiving. I especially love the coupons for spices, nuts and other items for baking. Time to stock up!

For dinner, I was craving some warm comfort food, so I made some brown rice and added pinto beans, mixed veggies and some light cheese. Mexi-meal in a bowl?

Afterwards.... this:

While I was away in San Francisco on Foodbuzz weekend, Zak received a Pom-A-Gram. I sent him one via Pom Wonderful's free offer a few weeks ago, and was excited to see that it had arrived (he sent me a photo message, as pictured above). He said that he would have eaten it immediately, but had no idea how to peel or harvest it. Tonight, I decided to tackle the arduous task.

Piece of cake! The whole fruit yielded about two cups of arils (seeds). Can't wait to savor these with some yogurt, or maybe over oatmeal.

The aftermath was scary-looking. Very glad that I used a paper towel and didn't stain my butcher block countertop!

As I write this post, I am sipping on this:
A sample from my swag bag, from way back in August at the Healthy Living Summit. Lemon-y, ginger-y and delicious.

Next, I am going to relax and read some of this:

Have a great night!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

On the road, again.

On the road again -
Just can't wait to get on the road again.
The life I love is making music
 with my friends
And I can't wait to get on the road again.
On the road again
Goin' places that I've never been.
Seein' things that I may never see again
And I can't wait to get on the road again.
On the road again -
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We're the best of friends.
Insisting that the world keep turning our way
And our way
is on the road again.
Don't pretend, even for a second, that you don't also appreciate this song. Willie Nelson is a genius, haha. I had it stuck in my head earlier as I prepped for today's destination, the horse farm. It had been about four weeks since I'd been out to ride, and I was looking to get a great workout; for me, and also for Chance. 
The weather sucked -rain, rain and more rain- but once I arrived at the farm, it let up into a fine mist. Luckily, there is an indoor arena that's perfect for days like this.
Someone made a rookie error and brought a treat bucket out to pasture, in hopes of coaxing Chance away from the other horses and get his halter on. That someone almost got her arm broken when three horses started to all go after the treat. The bucket's wire handle was clamped to my arm, but I managed to get it off and throw the bucket on the ground, leaving the horses to bicker over it. I am okay, but it was pretty scary for a few seconds.

Once I got Chance indoors, I was faced with a crabby, hangry and very wet horse.
I mean, come on. He's even sticking his tongue out in this picture.
He started to come around once I dried him off a bit, using a squeegee type tool (I'm not joking). Chance always loves being groomed.
Chance and I worked for about an hour, doing some basic drills around little traffic cones. He was moving pretty well, and his canter (galloping gait) was nice and smooth. As good as our session was, I missed having my instructor around. Unfortunately, I think I will have to go it solo with Chance until February; the instructor is not available on weekends anymore. No bueno.

How's your Saturday going? Any big plans for tonight?

Zak has a hockey game and we're hanging out with some of his family. Should be fun.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The best kind of vacation...

... is an active vacation!

As you may have heard, I traveled to San Francisco this weekend to attend the 2nd Annual Foodbuzz Blogger Festival. It was 3 jam-packed days of food, booze, bloggers and information. Today, I am back at work, but feeling remarkably renewed and refreshed. I am thinking that though this weekend was indulgent (copious amounts of gourmet food, wine, beer and spirits), at the same time it was a very active trip. All of the walking, San Francisco hills and a great bike tour tired me out and helped burn off some of the excess caloric energy.

So, about that bike tour! On Friday morning, I headed to breakfast with the roomies (Heather, Raya and Kaitlin). We walked around and perused our options for a moment, deciding on the Cable Car Cafe.
(image, courtesy of Kaitlin)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

San Francisco-licious

WOW - what a weekend it's been.

I have been attending the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival in San Francisco, and it's been swell. A quick shout out to all of the awesome bloggers who are also here this weekend! I've enjoyed meeting every single one of you.

Check it out:

These are my lovely roommates for the weekend: Heather, Raya and Kaitlin

A brief overview of activities thus far in this fair city:

- A flight in common and taxi ride alongside blogging greats Gina, Kath, Emily (hidden) and Ashley! Is that a great way to kick off a foodie vacation, or what?

- My first ever blogger dinner meet-up, organized by Diana! We dined at Millenium, a gourmet vegetarian restaurant.

- Biked along the Bay, across the Golden Gate Bridge and into Sausalito. Breathtaking, both in the beauty of the surroundings and in the fact I was getting schooled, cardio-wise.

- Ate approximately one million Mission Minis cupcakes (my fair share) while at the Foodbuzz Welcome Reception & Street Food Fare event at Fort Mason. Cameras from Food Network abound.

- Hung out at Tacolicious, an awesome restaurant / lounge in the Marina district (aka B-Weezy's 'hood). Photos later.

- Met Tina from Carrots 'N Cake (finally!) - she's super nice!

I don't really care for this photo (I look creepy), but I'd hate myself if I didn't post it :-)

As I write this, it's 12AM on my last night here and I am in bed. I'd love to go out, and maybe catch some live music or go dancing, but I'm just not feeling it. Which is highly uncharacteristic of me... when I visit new places, I love to experience the local hotspots. Could my attitude have to do with just having walking 1.4 miles in 5-inch high heels? 

Yes. Goodnight, San Francisco!