Sunday, February 28, 2010

Retail Therapy

Sunday night already? How does the weekend ALWAYS go so fast? I know this would never work in the field of education, but I could definitely go for one of those jobs where you work 10-12 hours a day four days a week, and then get three day weekends. I am definitely a buckle down and get it over with person. That's why I front loaded my parent conferences this week and even though this week is going to be terrible, next week will be a lot better :)

Yesterday I tried to recreate the failed quinoa cakes of Thursday. Well, recreate is probably the wrong word. I tried to completely change them and make them quinoa chocolate chip cookies. The idea was good in theory but...

Yeah...a cookie should not do that. I probably should've reduced the egg whites when I didn't have all the veggies in there, but I didn't. Oh well, lesson learned. Truthfully, I thought they did taste better than the original quinoa cakes, but that was probably the addition of Ghirardelli chocolate chips.

Today had the potential to be a bummer of a day. I was tired and it was dreary outside (for about the 100th day in a row) I started to get into wedding stress out mode early this morning and was agonizing about ceremony music (any suggestions?). Eric immediately suggested we go for a walk, which seemed like a weird suggestion since it wasn't a nice day but I agreed because when faced with a decision between wedding planning and anything else, I choose #2.

As often is the case, Eric was a genius. A few minutes into fresh air and exercise, wedding planning was forgotten. Guess what I changed my focus to...?

Yup, my new spinning shoes!!!

This morning I e-mailed back and forth with Madeline, who I was lucky enough to meet when I was in Arizona last week :) She works at a running/cycling store, so she was a wealth of information for me regarding whether or not I could get a pair of shoes for both spinning and my road bike. Plus, she pointed me to a really helpful post she wrote back in January about bike shoes. If you have ever considered getting shoes for your bike or your spin class, I definitely suggest reading this post. I felt a LOT more prepared at the store today than when I went to a different store a few weeks ago, just after talking to Madeline and reading this post!

Feeling a lot more prepared, I went to a bike store near my house this afternoon and asked for a budget-friendly shoe I could use for both spinning and outdoor biking. The guy at the store, Joseph, explained to me what I needed to know about bike shoes and helped me pick out a comfortable pair.

Also...look at my bike now.....!!!

Clipless pedals!!!

I was totally not planning to get these, but it was a way better deal to get everything together rather than buying just the shoes today like I was planning to. Obviously, I am all for a good deal so I took the plunge. I have to admit though, I am scared out of my mind to try these out on the road though. I practiced on the trainer at the store a bit today, but I am sure I am going to have some major falls until I get used to these. I can only hope that spinning class adequately prepares me :) Anyone have any good rookie clipless pedal stories to make me feel better?

Also, since yesterday I found another bike race so if you have a bike and live around Boston, let me know if you would want to do any of the following races, I am looking for biking friends :) I will probably do two of these, not all three.

Cycle for Autism Awareness- May 2nd, Milford MA (30 miles)

North to New Hampshire- May 16, Wakefield MA (Half or Metric Century- 50 or 62 miles)

Best Buddies Challenge- June 5th, ends in Hyannisport MA (20, 50 or 100 miles- I'd prob do 50)

I hope everyone has a good start to the week!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

That Guy

Good morning! I think we all know I am in a good mood because it is SATURDAY. It's still cloudy up here in Boston but it looks like snow right now, which is great but is a little break from high winds and endless rain, so I'll take it.

Has anyone else seen the movie Couples Retreat? Eric and I watched it On Demand last night and it was so funny! Lately Eric and I have been picking terrible movies to watch so I was so happy to actually laugh while watching a movie. By far my favorite character in the movie was the little kid who kept going to the bathroom in the model toilets in the home renovations store. Awesome.

This morning I hit up Saturday morning spinning. This class never fails to be eventful. See...there is this guy who comes to class. I won't mention any names or anything (except that he shares a name with my fiance haha). He is insane. Not kidding. First of all, he does the 45 minute class before mine and my class. Okay, that's fine so do many other people (not me). He also wears a white wife beater to class and let's just say, he should not be wearing a wife beater, especially when he gets all sweaty and might as well not be wearing a shirt at all.

Also, he never does what the rest of the class is doing, we are sitting, he is up in second position. THEN, he is not in that amazing shape so he breathes REALLY heavy while also putting his mouth in an oval shape that causes him to basically whistle while breathing heavy. It's kind of like when you see a woman giving birth in a really dramatic movie, plus some whistling... THEN, when he gets really out of breath he starts to cock his head to the side (while still breathing heavy) and his eyes start to roll back...and he looks like he is going to fall off his bike at any moment.

I should also probably mention that you know how spinning is on "stationary" bikes? There is nothing stationary about his bike which usually moves at least 5 feet in one direction or the other during the class.

The first time I witnessed this guy I had no idea what to make of him. But it has come to the point where it's REALLY tough not to die of laugher in the middle of class. Today I was at class with my friend Kathy and I literally could not make eye contact with her (even in the mirror) because I was on the verge of hysterical laugher. You know when you are in middle school and you are trying SO hard not to laugh with your friends but the more you try not to the more you can't stop? Yes, spinning = middle school. Someday I'll take a secret movie to give you guys a good Saturday morning laugh...

Speaking of spinning, I really have to stop being cheap and just get spinning shoes. Today the pedal straps were so lose I couldn't sprint at all and at one point I felt like I pulled my IT band just trying to keep my foot on the pedal. Like the bike store lady said, it's just like buying a pair of running shoes. Except that I just had to buy a new pair of running shoes. AND I really want clipless pedals for my road bike too. So now we are looking at a $300 + situation. Why is being active so expensive sometimes?

Since I can't run STILL, I have been looking at bike races I can do this summer. The problem is, while I'm 100 % confident running in a 5K by myself, I'm really not dying to bike by myself. I feel like I'm more likely to get lost, or stuck somewhere if I get a flat tire (apparently I've forgot about the use of cell phones). Unfortunately most of my friends don't own bikes so while I could pretty easily find someone to run a 5K with me, the biking thing is a bit more challenging. So, Boston readers (or people who like to visit Boston)...anyone want to do the Cycle for Autism with me? It's Sunday May 2nd at 9:30 AM in Milford, MA (I think about 45 minutes from Boston?) and it's a 30 mile ride. E-mail me or comment if you want to do it. I could probably be convinced to do the Half or Metric Century in Wakefield on May 16th instead or also...but I'm even more scared of that because I feel like there are less likely to be newbie riders like myself in the group. Anyone?

Alright I'm off to get some Saturday errands and productivity out of the way. I'm so excited because Eric (my Eric, not crazy spinning guy) and I are introducing his parents to our new obsession, aka the tapas restaurant inside Nordstrom. Yum.

What are your plans for this weekend?
Also, do you have a "that guy" (or girl) in one of your classes at the gym, classes at school or work place? Tell me what does "that guy" do that makes him "that guy" you talk about after class/work?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Kitchen Failures

Guess what? Tomorrow is Friday and all I can say is THANK GOD! It has been raining for 48 hours straight and it's putting a serious toll on my mood. It's hard to know whether I am just one of those people who needs sun to be happy or if I just can't stand children without recess. All I know is I'm seriously wishing I could go back in time to this...

So back in the present. I took a few days off from the gym earlier this week. I think my body really needed it and I was just so exhausted from traveling and getting ready for conferences next week. I think it's okay to take a few days off (very infrequently) but sometimes it can be hard to get back in the routine. I knew today I had to get back into it so I could get back in my grove. I did a nice 35 minute treadmill work out. I still can't run, but I did some good incline intervals. After I did about 20 minutes of lifting and ab work. Nothing too crazy, but got me back into work out mode.

It's hard to say how I feel about cooking. I do it, often, because I think basically the only way for me to eat healthy is to cook. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don't mind it and sometimes I want absolutely nothing to do with it. I am definitely not one of those cooks who likes to spend hours in the kitchen being creative and putting a ton of "love" into a dish. I wish I was, but that's not me. I prefer simple, healthy and quick :) Today though I was genuinely EXCITED to try a new recipe: quinoa cakes.

Last Saturday I tried a quinoa cake at Whole Foods and I was so happy to find the recipe online! I wanted to recreate this delicious creation tonight in my own kitchen. I had to modify the recipe a bit because of what I had in the house, so here is what I used:

Quinoa Cakes- Ingredients
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2/3 cup grated carrot
2/3 cup grated yellow squash, seeds removed
zest of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons egg whites
2 teaspoons salt

Preheat oven to 400. Mix together all ingredients. Oil a baking sheet. Divide mixture into 8 balls, then flatten. Bake 10 minutes. Flip cakes over, bake 10 more minutes.

I had one of these for dinner, with a side of leftover salmon and mashed butternut squash.

The verdict?

Well you can probably guess by the title of this post. I was not a fan, but I think it was completely my fault. #1- I should NEVER have included the salt. Truthfully, I ALWAYS eliminate salt from recipes because I never want extra salt, but since I thought Eric was going to try one and in general I was just not confident about deviating too much from the recipe I did include it and I really think it ruined it for me. The quinoa cake was WAY too salty! #2 I did not read the recipe close enough and I didn't know I was supposed to turn over the cake and cook for 10 extra minutes. I didn't think they looked done at 10 minutes so I did leave them in for 15 minutes, but I never turned them over. I don't think this affected the taste but that's why they look more like a cookie haha.

I know it seems weird that I bothered to post the recipe and directions since I didn't like it but I truly think these would be delicious if you just don't add salt! Also, this kitchen "failure" gave me a really good idea that I am going to try this weekend, so stay tuned! Maybe I am becoming a bit of a cook :)

So...make me feel better about myself, what was your worst kitchen failure ever?

Happy Almost-Friday everyone!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

100 x 3= 300 posts

Happy 300th Post to ME.
Gotta say, I never thought when I wrote my first post that I would ever get to 300th. Or that anyone would read 300 posts...haha.
I decided to make my title a multiplication problem because I have been doing nothing but multiplication with my 3rd graders that I tutor. It's on my mind, what can I say?

I considered not posting tonight because it was a long, rainy, miserable day. The kiddos were terrible, but who can blame them? No recess makes for crabby kids and a crabby teacher. Do you know what makes for an even crabbier teacher? Finding out at the end of the day that I am getting a new student next Monday. Yup, that's the same week that I have 15 parent conferences (the rest are the next week). Awesome.

But, not posting is not going to make my day any better. Let's answer another question. If you want to ask me one, click here.

Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000105 EndHTML:0000006873 StartFragment:0000002516 EndFragment:0000006837 What do you look for in a "good" restaurant?

Good question! I do a lot of restaurant reviews on my blog so it might be useful to know what my idea of a good restaurant is...

I am not someone who is too picky about the overall atmosphere of a restaurant but one thing I absolutely hate is when you are basically sitting on top of the people next to you because the tables are so close together. I feel like I'm eating with random people and I don't like that.

The menu must be online. I never go to a restaurant without looking at the menu online first. If you have important daily specials, you can get bonus points for being awesome like Myers & Chang and having a twitter account where you announce these. I also like the menu to explain a lot about the dish I am going to eat. Is my chicken grilled or fried? Is that pasta going to have cheese on the top of it? etc. I think this is important for people with food allergies and also for people who are just trying to eat healthy.

Of course I like the hostess and waitstaff to be nice to me. Particularly I do not like them to act annoyed if I ask for something with no sauce or some kind of small change. I do not ask to have IBS, I would rather I did not have it so please do not get frustrated with me if something is going to bother my stomach so I ask for it to not be there. I know it's annoying to have to make lots of changes, but frankly it is their job. I do not get annoyed when I get a student who needs to sit at the front of the room because he or she cannot see well. Sure I have to think about it when I make seating arrangements, but I don't get annoyed. I don't get annoyed when I have a student with a disability in my class even though it always requires slightly more work. That may seem like a crazy comparison, but seriously- I am not trying to be a pain- if I eat that cheese I will not make it through dinner without feeling sick, that may be slightly irritating or the wait staff- trust me it's more annoying for me to deal with it every day. So there. Also, it's nice if they can refill drinks as much as possible and bring more bread quickly haha.

I'm not saying I don't frequent the occasional cheap Italian chain or greasy Chinese food spot. However, to be a really good restaurant I think you need to be authentic to the kind of food you are claiming to make. I am especially happy if my tomato sauce tastes like I am sitting in Italy...

I like the price of the food to reflect the quality. Of course, it's even better if it can be high quality at a low price. Eric and I like to eat out a lot, so we try not to spend TOO much on each meal. This probably goes without saying but I'd rather have a smaller portion at a cheaper price so I really like places that often half portions for a lower price.

This is the most obvious one but the food has to taste good. What taste good to me is usually something that is high in quality and does not need a ton of sauce and condiments to be good. Just me though :) Eric loves his sauces and condiments.

What do you look for in a good restaurant? What's your favorite restaurant in the world?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Kelly Gets Positive About Weddings?

I apologize in advance if any of this post makes no sense at all. The tiredness of Sunday night's return home is hitting me now AND I just spent over an hour proofreading report cards...and I'm no where near done. I don't recall them taking this long before so either I just blocked it out of my mind, or maybe I just normally don't read them over at all. I have 15 parent conferences next week (and the rest the week after). I'll try to continue to post every day, but if I'm ever missing you'll know why. Right now I am feeling very unprepared.

Thanks for your comments on my strength training post yesterday. It's good to know that others (and maybe even Jillian Michaels) have struggled with this problem. I did want to say that I totally know I will not be able to see muscles if there is fat above it. This is definitely the case with those ab muscles I have been working so hard on :) However, I don't tend to store a lot of fat on my arms (at least at my current weight) so I don't think that's the problem on my arms. I am going to take all of your advice/comments into consideration and rework my cardio/strength training plan starting next week after my weight class is over. I'll post when I get that figured out. If anyone else has any advice, please let me know at any point.

Today I am going to answer one of my reader questions. Feel free to keep asking away!

What are you most excited about in planning your wedding?

It's no secret on this blog that wedding planning is NOT my thing. I like flowers but I'd rather not deal with them. I think invitations are a waste of time, money and paper and tat all wedding invitations should be evites. Dress shopping was okay, but I'm not a huge fan of white dresses or the pressure of finding, "the dress." However, there are a few small parts of wedding planning that I enjoyed or am looking forward to:

1. Asking my bridesmaids to be in my wedding. Sure, being a bridesmaid is expensive and at time a bit of a pain, but it's also an honor to be that important to someone that they want you to stand next to them at their wedding. I have so many amazing friends and I am so lucky for that. It's very hard to choose who to include on such an important day, so I stuck to people that I have been close with for a long time and I talk to very often. My sister is my Maid of Honor, and my best friend Katie is my Matron of Honor (you may remember I was Katie's Maid of Honor last August). I talk to both Caroline and Katie almost every day and consult them regarding all major and minor life decisions, so they both need to be there, and I mean RIGHT there, when I decide to get married. My other bridesmaids are my friends Ashley and Tiffany, and my two younger cousins Courtney and Shannon. Ashley was my roommate all 4 years of college and Tiff has been my close friend since 7th grade (a long time!), I couldn't imagine either one being anywhere but right next to my on my wedding day. My cousins Courtney and Shannon are almost 10 years younger than me. I have a LOT of cousins, but these two cousins were like my little sisters when we were younger. We always joked that they would be my flower girls in my wedding, though we clearly forgot to do the math and realized they would be 16 and 17 at the time of my wedding, oops. They did offer to still be flower girls, but I figured bridesmaids would work instead. I made each of my bridesmaids a photo book or collage to ask them to be my wedding and it was fun to re-live all the old pictures and memories.

2. Sharing wedding planning with so many friends. When I got engaged, I had four other close friends planning weddings at the same time- Katie, Tiff, Sarah and Timna. I also had two good friends at work planning weddings! It has been so nice to have so many people to talk to about planning (read: complain with). They have been so helpful in offering advice and just general support. It's fun to go through some of the same things with your friends at the same time.

3. Cake tasting. Let's be serious, this is very clearly the best part of wedding planning. Yup, I can't really eat cake but I am fully planning to enjoy a taste of cake at our cake tasting. My plan is to have no plans at all for the rest of the day after the cake tasting so if I feel sick, oh well, I'll be home in my bed :)

4. Making our website was fun, kind of like blogging :) I really enjoyed adding pictures of us and our families, and writing little blurbs about the people in our wedding. Even when I don't know the bride and groom I enjoy reading about how they know their wedding party. I just think it's fun.

Your turn:
If you are already married, what was your favorite part of wedding planning? If you are not married yet, what do you think will be the best part?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Big Muscles?

Oh Happy Monday friends,
I got home last night around 6:30pm from Arizona and it was back to work this morning. I thought it was going to be more terrible than it was, but I had no problem falling asleep last night at 10 even though it was only 8 Arizona time. Apparently I never fully switched over, or I can just never got o bed too early :) I was pretty exhausted today but coming back from vacation is always tough. I told the kiddos that my favorite part of vacation was self serve frozen yogurt. I explained it to them as make you own sundaes with frozen yogurt. They were on board. I think there could be a real market for this in Boston...anyone?

So today I want to talk about strength training. You may remember at the beginning of January I decided to get serious about strength training. I began taking a weight class at my gym twice a week and I read The New Rules of Lifting by Lou Shuler. Back then I talked a lot about my strength training sessions and what I was working on at the gym. Since then I have not mentioned it much, but I have consistently completed a strength training routine three times per week at the gym.

In general, I'm proud of what I accomplished since I began my quest to incorporate strength training into my workouts. Sure, I've lifted before, but never consistently enough to see any results. The fact that I haven't missed a strength training workout in almost two months is a major accomplishment in itself. That, and the fact that I haven't once done 4 biceps curls with a 5 pound dumbbell and then called it a day.

There are other accomplishments too. First of all, I have learned more than I thought possible about how to strength train, which exercises work which muscles, and how to balance training so I do not have imbalances in my body. Also, I'm comfortable with the weight machines even in new gyms. Two months ago you never would have caught me switching the grip on a pull down machine. I have even improved a lot in how much weight I can lift on every exercise I can do! Finally, I can see muscle in my arms, muscle I have never seen before.

I should be 100 percent satisfied. Goal= accomplished, right?

Okay, truthfully I did not start strength training to get stronger, or more comfortable in the weight room. I did it so my arms will look good in a certain white dress I'll be wearing this summer. Also I was a little sucked in by the idea that muscle burns more calories than fat. Who doesn't like the prospect of being able to eat an extra spoonful of ice cream?

How did this go for me? Well, like I mentioned, I can see muscles in my arms. Honestly though, unless my arms are flexed, it mostly just looks like my arms got bigger. I am not going to walk around on my wedding day with flexed arms so basically I am just going to look like I put on some weight, just what ever girl dreams of looking like on her wedding day. Oh, and as for burning extra calories, I wouldn't know because I am so hungry all the time that I am sure I've eaten significantly more calories than I was before. I definitely haven't lost any weight, and have probably gained 5 or 6 pounds of what I can only hope is muscle, but who really knows?

Hmm, maybe not the success I was looking for...

According to Lou Shuler (New Rules of Lifting for Women) you can't really tone (aka make muscles look better without making them bigger) and I have to say WHY NOT?!?! (that is a five year old whine in case you couldn't tell). He says that if you do the low weight, high rep plan that promises to "tone" your muscles it actually won't do anything because you are not challenging your muscles and then they won't grow. If they don't grow you won't look any better than you do now. Well...then maybe I'll just take my old arms back and the 3+ hours a week I am spending lifting. Unless anyone has any suggestions for me?

Oh and also, I skipped my weight class tonight so I could unpack, do laundry and get to bed early (first time I have skipped without doing a replacement work out). Unlike most Monday nights when I get home at 8:15pm and feel ready to eat the entire house...I just had my dessert, I am happily full and will probably not even think about going back to the kitchen for the rest of the night. I don't think I like lifting anymore...

I don't tend to compare my body to others or wish for the body of a model. But is it too much to ask for Jennifer Anniston's arms? Apparently yes...haha

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Arizona Recap

This post is set to publish when I am on the airplane home from Arizona, hopefully arriving in Boston at any moment. If you missed any of my Arizona posts, I am going to list them below:

Plane, Arrival & 1st Night in Sedona
Full Day in Sedona
Grand Canyon & More Sedona
End of Sedona & Arrival in Phoenix
Full Day in Phoenix
Goodbye Arizona

Overall, it was a great trip. Eric and I had not been on a trip just the two of us in almost four years! It was so nice to only worry about the wants and needs of two people, we rarely had to compromise at all :) We are pretty compatible travelers.

Health-wise, this was a pretty successful trip for me as well. I squeezed in three strength training work outs, and two days of cardio (plus two hikes and a few days of general walking around all day). Not too bad! Also, my stomach held up on this trip better than it has on a trip since I've been diagnosed with IBS. I attribute this to the fact that I stuck with my work out schedule, ate oatmeal with apple every morning for breakfast in my hotel room, ate small lunches whenever possible (we had Subway like 4 times- I got a plain turkey sandwich all of those times haha) and managed to find the best possible food ever for dinner. When we were in San Fran it was a running joke how often my order was wrong, in Arizona I never ONCE got something I did not ask for on my plate. In fact, I very rarely had to ask for order accommodations because they did not seem to randomly spread butter and mayo all over their food like they did in San Fran. Thank you Arizona. Unfortunately for Eric, he got a bad cold the first night we got here and he never really shook it the whole trip. Luckily, he is a trooper and still participated in all of the adventures with me. I'll probably get this cold when we get home and refuse to move from the couch, haha.

Some Random Trip Notes:

1. Having my Blackberry (and GPS) on this trip was so great. We did not have a single bad meal and I attribute this to the fact that I was constantly googling restaurant reviews right before we went in. Plus, I still feel relatively caught up on blogs :)

2. Arizona has some interesting characteristics: the moon looks "upside down" (for us), they don't do daylight savings time so the sun does not rise until after 7 but it sets late- nice for a vacation but I don't think I would like being at work for over an hour in the dark, they have these interesting lights as you are getting on the highway- instead of merging like normal, a light will tell you when you are allowed to go and start merging, many many people here seem to be originally from somewhere else, Phoenix/Scottsdale loves multi-lane roads, and last but not least the food was amazing and the weather was beautiful.

3. Self serve frozen yogurt is my new obsession. How can this clearly AMAZING idea not have moved eastward and upward?

4. I'm really happy I have explored another area of the US. For some odd reason, I seem to have seen more of other countries (especially Ireland and Australia) than I have seen of my own. I love exploring a whole new culture, but I also think it's amazing to see how much difference there is from one part of the US to another. Eric would be so proud of me for this Patriotic comment. I swear I have Patriotic spirit, I am just capable of being critical as well- oh and sometimes I root for Australians in the Olympics haha, oops.

Have you ever been to a different part of your country and noticed something that was really different, where were you and what was it?

Okay, so like many others, I have taken up the fun game of Ask Anything. I'll be answering at least one question a day this week, so keep 'em coming!

When are you and Eric going to have kids?

My friend from work warned me that starting the day I get married this question is going to come up A LOT. Looks like you guys have started the trend early :) Here is the deal, both Eric and I are no where near ready to have kids. Since we both spend our days with children, we are well aware of how different our lives will be when we have little people to take care of 24 hours a day. Truthfully, Eric and I don't even want a dog because we like to be able to pick up and go where we want, when we want. We value our sleep, alone time and relaxation time- all things that we envision disappearing with a new addition to the family. We do want to have kids eventually, but we are just hoping at some point we are ready. I tell myself that five years ago I was no where near ready to get married and now I am 100 percent hopefully in 5 years or so I'll feel the same way about kids. Although, about a month ago when some kid was making us crazy, Eric and I had a full on conversation about how we could save all the money we would be spending on a kid and buy ourselves a yacht instead of having kids. This is a total joke since I get sick on most boats and also we will still both be teachers (and therefore a yacht is probably not ever happening), but now whenever kids are making us crazy we always say, "have yachts, not kids." haha. I swear I'll be ready someday...

When you do want to have kids? How many do you want to have? If you have kids already, how did you know you were "ready"?

Goodbye Arizona

I tried to post this last night but the hotel internet was not cooperating with me, let's hope I have more lucky this morning!

Today was our last day in the beautiful state of Arizona. It was actually rainy, but still much warmer than what we are used to in February, so no complaints.

Since the weather wasn't the greatest Eric and I decided to lay low today. We are not exactly get home on Sunday night, go to work early on Monday morning people so we figured if we got some relaxation in today we might feel better about the crazy transition we are going to have to make tomorrow night.

We are staying at a place called Scottsdale Resort and Athletic Center, so we figured we might as well check out the "athletic center" part.

Eric and I both work out, but I don't think we have ever worked out together, at least not in years. Eric's lifting strategy is to kill one or two muscle groups a day and then rest them for the rest of the week, where as mine is to work several muscles a day but not kill them, and then give them only about 1-2 days of rest before working them again. I don't know which way is better, and I'm probably going to do a full post on this at some point in the future. But the point is, we didn't really know what to do today. Eric ended up focusing on chest and triceps and I focused on those two, but not as heavily and also did some biceps & shoulders. We both did abs. Eric even made me use the scary bench...

I kinda look like I'm sleeping not lifting. I have gotten pretty comfortable with the weight machines at the gym, but I usually leave the bench to the big scary guys, ha ha.

Post-gym we did a lot of relaxing and then headed to a nearby Whole Foods to get some lunch. I had a delicious quinoa cake that I am going to try to recreate in the kitchen at some point. I ate it on half of a ciabatta roll. Yum.

For dinner we headed back down to Old Town Scottsdale. Even on a dreary day, it's a beautiful place.

I know I said Scottsdale didn't seem that snotty to me, and I still maintain that. But I have seen some sweet cars on this trip...if that's your thing.

For dinner we went to a place called Cafe Forte. Have I told you how AMAZING everything I have eaten on this trip has been?! And...look at this menu...

See those little pink letters to the right of the writing? That is telling us which meals are gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan. How much do I love that? (no I am not a vegetarian or vegan, nor do I eat gluten free-but I am someone with food restrictions so I appreciate this). Eric and I wanted so many things on the menu we decided to do an all appetizer dinner including: arugula romaine walnut and gorgonzola cheese with a dijon vinaigrette...

Chicken and vegetable pot stickers...

White bean, lemon and herb dip with pita...

Polenta cakes with tomato sausage sauce...

Everything was absolutely amazing and the perfect way to end such a good food vacation!

After dinner we headed over to Scottsdale's first and only winery, Su Vino. We got to taste five different wines from the owner, who couldn't have been much older than us! We knew things were going to be amazing in this winery when we saw these wine stoppers...

I tried the Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay (unoaked, yum), Summer Rain, Ruby and Porto Cocoa (yup, chocolate). I really liked all five that I tried, which almost never happens, but I think I am started to expand my wine horizons. I even am starting to like red wines.

We had a blast at the winery talked to the guys that work there and tasting the wines, but the best part of the night was definitely still to come...FROZEN YOGURT. You didn't think I was going to leave Arizona without another night of frozen yogurt, did you?

Eric and I met up with Madeline and her boyfriend, John, at Mojo (same place as last night, different location). It was so fun to meet up with Madeline, especially because she was such a great help in planning our Arizona trip! Plus, isn't it just fun to meet people after you have been reading about their lives for many months? haha.

I went a little crazy with the fro yo tonight. Maybe more than a little...

This would be vanilla frozen yogurt, snickers, caramel cups, gummi bears AND reeses pieces. Do you think I may have a topping problem? Amazingly, this combination actually worked. Or maybe I was just too busy chatting to notice it was a terrible combination? The good news is I actually remembered to have the boys take a picture of me and Madeline:

Another success of the night was that we met the FIRST person the whole trip who is actually originally from Arizona. Madeline's boyfriend John takes the prize as the only person we met this entire trip who is FROM here! We were starting to think that Arizona was just the place to escape for everyone who got sick of cold weather (it still may be that ha ha). Plus we learned some new things about toll booths, speeding ticket photos, people love U turns, you don't have to take a new picture on your license for something crazy like 25 years! Oh, and no one has a basement. Wow it's fun to visit new places.

Now I have to finish packing and get to bed. Getting back on Eastern time is going to be fun, especially on Monday morning when it feels like it's 4 am, oh boy! Tomorrow night I'll post a trip summary & the first answer to your Ask Anything questions. I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

What is something that is unique to the country/state/area that you are from?

Giveaway Alerts:

Do you want to win Olympic red mittens? cuz I do...check out Marlene's giveaway!

Also, I think we know how much I love running clothes, even if I can't run at the moment :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Frozen Yogurt = Happiness

Today, February 19th 2010, I found heaven. It is located in Tempe, Arizona and it is called Mojo.

But I'll get to heaven later...

Tomorrow it's supposed to rain in Phoenix so today was our last day to enjoy the gorgeous weather. We started at the Phoenix Zoo. It was kind of funny, I tweeted about how I was at the zoo and then I got a tweet from the zoo itself saying they hope I'm having fun. Awesome, I love twitter.

Did you know The Phoenix Zoo is the largest non-profit zoo in North America? It was definitely huge. We saw lots of fun animals...

There were lots of field trips at the zoo today and it was so nice to know that I was not in charge of a single one of them!

Next stop on our outdoor adventure? Desert Botanical Gardens because we love cacti haha.

This is going to sound stupid, but here it goes...

I literally had NO idea cacti could be this tall. I thought they were like...small bushes. Boy, was I wrong!

Also, did you know beautiful flowers can grow in the desert too?

When we had enough sun (ha ha, yeah right) we headed down to Tempe to check out Arizona State.

I have this...problem, where I love to buy college sweatshirts. It's sort of become a running joke with my friends that I own so many college sweatshirts of places that I didn't go myself and don't even know anyone who goes there haha. For example, I currently own the following sweatshirts of random colleges: Trinity College- Dublin, University of California Berkley and University of Chicago. Obviously I wanted to add an Arizona State sweatshirt to my collection.

If you didn't look too closely, you could've been in the Boston College bookstore (aka my REAL college, and don't worry I have lots of BC sweatshirts!).

I didn't even up buying a sweatshirt (they were all huge) but I did take a picture of my favorite ASU alum:

Dustin Pedroia- Red Sox second baseman :)

After, we headed to get some Italian food at a place called Oregano's, recommended by Lisa! The menu was HUGE:

So was the garlic bread...

So was the Bollo Pasta, which by the way was bottomless? Who would even finish one bowl of this, seriously?

Anyway, the food was delicious and I loved the atmosphere: another outdoor patio. I could seriously get used to this. Thanks for the recommendation Lisa!

After dinner we FINALLY found a self serve frozen yogurt place. I've been reading about these on all the Arizona/California blogs and I was so excited to finally be able to go to one myself.

There were a ton of flavors to choose from. Even Eric, who usually just tolerates my ice cream/frozen yogurt obsession was interested. I got the sweet vanilla, it had some fancy name that I can't remember but it was basically the vanilla that was not tart and not "skinny" (which means no sugar added, no thanks!). Then, I covered it with Butterfinger and small caramel cups.

I took one bite and I was in heaven. It was amazing.

Why is Mojo only located in Arizona, California and Nevada? I promise there is a market for this in Boston! Although I was just informed tonight that there is a self serve place in Brookline, MA so you can bet I'll be visiting it in the very near future.

What is your favorite ice cream and/or frozen yogurt topping?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Adventures and First Impressions

Happy Almost-Friday everyone! (or Friday depending on when you are reading this). Obviously, I am not TOO pumped that it is Friday since that means my vacation is almost over, but I'm happy for all of you that I've been torturing with my blog posts and tweets all week.

Last night for Eric's birthday dinner we took advantage of our extra night in Sedona to try what is supposed to be one of the best restaurants in Sedona: Cucina Rustica.

It was a really nice place and the food was delicious. I got Capellini Pomodoro with homemade pasta. I think we can all agree there is just something about homemade pasta?


This morning we got up and decided to do one last hike in Sedona before we officially said goodbye, though the hotel did joke that we will probably be back tomorrow.

We decided to hike up Bell Rock.

Technically you need actual mountain climbing gear to get to the VERY top but we just decided to do the best we could and it was fun. I think hiking may be my new favorite activity. Think the hikes in good ol' Massachusetts will be this gorgeous?

Too bad my arms are the same color as my shirt!
We managed to make it pretty far past the trail with only a few questionable climbing decisions (just kidding Mom).

On the way down to Phoenix from Sedona we checked out Montezuma Castle. Check it out:

It's literally built into a canyon wall. Awesome. Apparently the whole "Montezuma" thing is actually not accurate, but originally they thought he had been there and the name stuck. No wonder history confuses kids!

A few hours later we arrived at our Scottsdale hotel and found that our bathroom was bigger than our room had been in the Grand Canyon. Yay!

We also have a nice living area with a fridge and microwave!

And a separate room for our bed. It's my favorite when there is a separate bedroom. I get it whenever possible (meaning only if it's not a million dollars extra) because then Eric and I can have our own space when the other person is sleeping.

Even though we were completely sick of driving, we did head out again to get a late dinner (well, late for us which is really normal for everyone else). We went to a Mexican place in Downtown Scottsdale called Frank and Lupes. We sat on an outdoor patio behind the restaurant. I think they pretty much won us over with the outdoor seating, but the chips and salsa were amazing as well.

I got chicken fajitas, my new favorite dish.

They were really good, but not as good as my first encounter with chicken fajitas, mainly because those had black beans, my bean favorite.

Eric got a Chalupa and it was in one of those insane bowls they use to put our salads in during college.

He enjoyed his too. AND, the whole meal came to $21 before tip. Can't beat that!

On the way home I tried my hardest to find one of the famous frozen yogurt places that I have been dying to try in Arizona, but I gave up. I should probably mention that I did not happily give up, but I'm so sick of hearing "recalculating" on my GPS that I just couldn't take it anymore.

It's funny- everyone told me Scottsdale was really upscale and a little bit...snotty? The lady on the airplane said it was so yuppity that she couldn't think of anywhere near Boston to compare it to... Maybe I just haven't seen it so far, but 6 lane roads and endless strip malls just don't scream snotty to me...I guess I'll have to do some more exploring tomorrow. Bring on the snotty people!

Right now I'm completely exhausted and my head hurts. I'm going to get to bed and hopefully sleep a little better than I have been. You'd think I'd be used to new beds by now! Tomorrow I best be finding some frozen yogurt, that's all I can say.