Monday, January 31, 2011

Music to my ears

Hello, friends - Happy Monday to you and if you're in the Midwest, Happy Blizzard Watching. 

I thought today it would be fun to go a bit off the beaten path from my typical posts, and share something fun: music. There are some great new albums around, here are a few that are on my radar.
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Bright Eyes, The People's Key, in stores Feb. 15
I've liked this artist for years and was stoked to hear that a new album was finally in the works. NPR's Robin Hilton proclaimed "This is the best record Bright Eyes has ever made. In fact, it's the best record the band's frontman, Conor Oberst, has ever been a part of. Publicists like to say as much any time an artist releases a new album, but in this case, it's actually true... career-defining work of art." Decide for yourself - you can stream the whole shebang for free here (NPR Music). 

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Adele21, in stores Feb. 22
I've been in love with Adele's voice since her 2008 performance on SNL. She's a new school diva, with the pipes and the chops to go the distance. My local stations have been playing "Rolling in the Deep" (watch / listen here) and it's been an equal favorite at my desk and on the treadmill. Since I can't sneak off to the UK to buy her album now, I suppose I'll have to hold out until Feb. 22nd when it becomes available stateside. 

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Amos Lee, Mission Bell, in stores now
We've had Amos a couple times at my workplace, and he'll be back this spring. You may have seen him perform "Windows Are Rolled Down" last week on Ellen (watch / listen here). This breezy track evokes the sensation of cruising along a highway on a summer road trip. Exactly the kinda song I need to distract me from the frozen tundra reality of Milwaukee!

What new music are you into lately?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Winter weekend

Hope that everyone is having a great weekend!

This afternoon, after another couple unhappy hours spent in the salon chair (more on that later), I was craving a wholesome meal.

A couple stops later, I got to cookin' in the kitchen. 

The star ingredients:

 What's in the bag, you ask? Dakota bread!

Just what I needed. Nutritious and delicious.

After the meal, I noticed some killer icicles, framed by our living room window. Yikes!

Have a great afternoon!

Monday, January 24, 2011

And the winner is...

Thanks to all for entering my Celestial Seasonings Fast Lane Tea giveaway!

One of the great parts of having a smaller blog is the ability to individually recognize and thank people. So, thanks to Katertot, The Hungry Runner Girl, Kayla @ Let's Live Wholesome, Purplelarkspur, and AnnieM. You all rock!

I drew for the winner using's true random number generator, and the winner is....
Comment #7 - AnnieM!

Congrats, Annie - please email me your address and Celestial Seasonings will ship you your tea :-)

Happy Monday to all... hope that you have a great day.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fancy a spot of tea? GIVEAWAY!

Good day, friends - TGIF! Right?

Recently, Celestial Seasonings contacted me about Fast Lane - their "legendary high-energy, caffeinated black tea."

I tried a cup today and love the fragrant, spicy taste. It's no secret that I am a coffee girl, however so far I have no caffeine headache - Fast Lane has 110mg of caffeine per serving, which is more than drip coffee which has 90mg per serving.

Anyhow! This is apparently an extra special tea because it's not available in stores - you can only order it online. And apparently, it was brought back into production at the request of over 2,000 fans who signed an online petition. A tea with a cult following? I suppose, this is the same company who makes the ever popular Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride tea, after all... 

Now, onto the giveaway!!! Celestial Seasonings will send one lucky winner a box of Fast Lane. 

To enter:
a) Leave a comment on this post and let me know what your favorite type of tea is. 
b) Follow me on Twitter - lauramke20 (send me a DM to let me know)
c) Post this contest on your own blog, or Twitter, and send me the link via comment on this post

The contest will end this Sunday 1/23 at 11PM CST. A winner will be drawn and announced on Monday 1/24 at 9AM CST. Cheers!

Disclaimer: All opinions expressed for product reviews, are my own. I was given one box of tea to review, and voluntarily agreed to offer a giveaway to my readers. I was not financially compensated for this review / giveaway. Cheers!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

When it's 11 degrees outside

Hi, friends! How was your Hump Day?

I gotta level with you, January is a tricky time to be a Milwaukeean.
Yep, that's what the next 24 hours are gonna be like in good ol' Milwaukee. Brrrrrrrr.

Anyhow, when it's freezing outside I like to trick myself by doing fun things, inside.

Like BodyPump!
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Side note - this is what you might find if you Google 'BodyPump goofy':
Awesome, but not quite what my gym's class is like.
I've been doing BodyPump classes at my gym for about a month now... and absolutely LOVE the program. If you're not familiar, it's a group fitness class where you basically lift weights to choreographed songs. You get a full workout in the hour-long class. 

A little more about the music, since I'm a geek like that: The songs vary by 'track' or program, but are generally modern and upbeat. Think of music pumping, bass thudding and everyone in the class grooving to the songs. It makes for a fun, motivating environment! If they added flashing lights and booze, it'd be like working out in a night club. 

Some of the playlists are older and kinda cheesy... but most of the ones I've heard, I like. There is a new 'track' coming out soon which I've heard features songs from Lady Gaga, Ke$ha and Mike Posner. Can't wait for that one.

The class I took tonight was instructed by Amy (Golds Gym - Milwaukee) - I've gotta say, she's the best. She has a high-energy, cheerleader-like personality and shouts out encouraging sentiments constantly. Even cooler, she created her own mix of BodyPump songs, with a heavy emphasis on Black Eyed Peas. Awesome, no?

Tonight's class was great and helped me temporarily forget the frigid temps outside. When I came home, I was pretty hungry. I was elated to see that Zak had dinner waiting for me:
Toasted up nice and crispy.

A burrito of sorts - vegetarian refried beans, sharp cheddar, roasted brussels sprouts and broccoli, all wrapped up in a spinach tortilla.

This was great and warmed my stomach. After dinner, I was happy to set up some new candles which arrived today: 
'Winter' by Bath + Body Works on the left

A silver-plated pinecone?
On the inside - 'Balsam' scented candle
The photo is from September, taken at the finish line of the Pikes Peak Challenge, aka the top of Pikes Peak. It was pretty chilly at the top, but looking at the photo reminds me of how warm and fuzzy we felt at the finish line :-) My sister gave me the framed photo for Christmas, what a lovely way to remember that moment with her.
Seesters on the left
And to finish out the night - not warm, but tasty. Some vanilla greek yogurt topped with bunnies. 
Fun times. 

Coming tomorrow - a review of Celestial Seasonings' new Fast Lane tea - and a giveaway! G'night!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Still Cruising

Hello, friends!

Happy New Year to all of you out there. I can't believe that we're already 16 days into 2011. It's already been interesting... how many of you had your Astrological signs change? I went from being a Capricorn to a Sagittarius, and I don't know what to do with myself.

I wanted to check in and let you know I'm still around. The past few weeks have been a blur of friends and family...

playing around with lovely new toys,
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and - of course - enjoying delicious food.
pumpkin scones - recipe coming soon

I've been focusing on hitting up the gym more regularly, and have been bitten by the Body Pump bug. It's awesome! 

And, it turns out that turning 29 wasn't so scary after all. I had some great company to help me celebrate. 

The funfetti cupcakes with Bourbon buttercream frosting that my sister and I made together helped, too.

Big changes are coming for the blog... Backstage Pass to Health & Happiness will have a new home and a new direction. Stay tuned! 

Later this week, I'll have a tea review and giveaway. Exciting stuff, I tell ya :-)

Hope that you all are well. Talk soon!