Foodie Pen Pal – Reveal Day!

31 Oct

Last month, I joined The Lean Green Bean and many others in the monthly Foodie Pen Pals program.

Each month, bloggers and non bloggers can be a Foodie Pen Pals and share some of their favorite local treats with others across the country.  I love trying new foods and trying local flavors, so this was the perfect challenge for me.

For more on becoming a Foodie Pen Pal, please check it rules out here.

My very first Foodie Box came from Tasha in Iowa.  When Tasha first emailed me, I was amazed at her efficiency.  She knew exactly the right questions to ask to make my box exactly what I would enjoy.  And enjoy I did.

“Tasha, you outdid yourself.”

I received the box on a Friday afternoon after a challenging day and my spirits perked up as soon as Ed walked through the door with it.  I was overwhelmed with all the yummy treats inside.

I immediately was drawn to the baked goods. (Please note: You have the option to not request fresh baked goods if you are not comfortable with this.  Tasha asked me if I felt comfortable with this and I told her I was.)  When I opened the bag of Kringla, it smelled like soft pretzels.  Not sure if this was the plan, but they only lasted a day or two later.  They are popular around Tasha’s house and now quite popular here too.  The Dutch Letter Tasha described as “heavenly” and I agreed.  I split it between two morning breakfasts with coffee.  Perfection.

Dutch Letter and Kringla

Next, was the canned and bottled items.  Tasha sent me some of her canned tomatoes and a story about her favorite childhood dish of mac and cheese and canned tomatoes.  Add some salt and pepper and you’re good to go.  Might just have to give that a try!

The Corn Cob Syrup has been calling my name since I opened the box.  I haven’t had a chance to try it to it’s full potential yet, but yummy!  I love unique items like these.  I see pancakes smothered in this in my near future.  I haven’t had a chance to try the Cranberry Jalapeno Jam yet.  I’m finishing up my current jam before opening it.  Should add a little spice to my morning😉

This was my favorite item!  Two bags of fresh popcorn kernels.  Perfect for my bagged popcorn recipe. Tasha and her husband pop popcorn the old fashion way, just like me and my husband.  Yum!


Finally, the sweet stuff!  Well, the beef sticks weren’t really sweet, but they were a big ticket item in our pantry.  They were the perfect afternoon snack.  I remember eating beef sticks at the fair and haven’t had any in ages.  The Oh! Chocolate Devine Cheesecake Mix sounds fantastic.  I am debating to take it to a small potluck this Sunday or save it for our friends Thanksgiving meal…or make it and keep it all to myself.  Decisions.

The Iowa State chocolate bar was her son’s addition to the box and I would like to personally thank them for my sweet after race treat from this past Sunday.  Go Iowa State!

If you would like to see what I sent, check out Andrea at Pretty Wings over here.

I had a great first experience with Foodie Pen Pal’s and I’m looking forward to participating more and getting creative with my boxes in the future.  I most certainly enjoyed meeting two exceptionally lovely ladies in the process.

Andrea ~ I have enjoyed getting to know you through putting your box together and thrilled that you are enjoying your treats.  Keep up that positive energy!

Tasha ~ I am without words.  You’re box was pure joy to receive and I can’t wait to enjoy it even more.  The thought you put into each item and your note made my day!

To sign up for November Foodie Pen Pals, click the link here.  You do not have to have a blog.  You have until November 4th to sign up!

Linking up with The Lean Green Bean today!

Sandy Update

31 Oct

…Do I know you?

Yes, I’ve officially ignored the blog for a couple weeks.  I just haven’t had the itch to blog much lately and I’m still getting used to things.

Please, be patient with me.

This past weekend we ran into the Frankenstorm named Sandy and came up with no power for two days.  Which is minimal compared too many in other areas.  Thanks to cell phones, social networking and texting; we were able to monitor the status of our family and friends from a far.

Isn’t technology great!

After this past summer’s surprise, 4 day, 105 degree blackout, we had time to prepare for this beast with vengeance.

We did all the laundry we could so we had clean clothes and towels, stocked on water, packed ice, powered up our solar panels (Thanks, Rob S. for the hook up!), gassed up the cars for a quick getaway, if necessary, among other necessary things like candles and batteries.  Ed even made sure to have the camper grill ready for warm food.

We felt prepared and blessed.

Sandy was originally supposed to hit closer to the bay which would have been pretty awful for Marylanders, but she took a spin north on Sunday night, so some flooding and loss of electricity was the most that happened near us.  She was roaring on Monday night.

I enjoyed a book by flashlight.

We received power early this morning and back to normal everyday life.  Thank goodness.  I was getting STIR CRAZY!

Since moving to Maryland 16 months ago, I have experienced (2) hurricanes, (1) mini earthquake, and a major blackout.  I think that is t-shirt worthy.  In Ohio, I survived snowstorms.  It was the norm.

What major super storms have you experienced in your lifetime?

This actually wasn’t my first experience with a hurricane in Maryland.  While vacationing in Ocean City as a kid, another hurricane was brewing that cut our family vacation early.  I can remember the wind being extremely strong and no beach at all.  Fun stuff.

New York City Weekend – WTC Memorial

17 Oct

Good morning!

I’m finally going to get started on some highlights from our NYC trip.

But first, breakfast!

Two scrambled eggs, a dash of parsley, a sprinkle of cheddar cheese, half of an avocado, drizzled with Ed’s homemade spicy (for him, not me) tomatillo sauce.  I sided it up with a small glass of orange juice and a few sips of coffee.  The same pumpkin spice I left on the coffee table on Monday morning.  A “few sips” being the perfect choice of words.  It wasn’t very tasty 2 days later, but I don’t like to waste.  So, I gave it a shot.

World Trade Center Memorial

My friend Kelly and I escaped Maryland via Bolt Bus on Friday afternoon to go visit her sister, Elsa, who lives in Queens, NY.  She moved there about a year and a half about and we’ve been discussing a trip there together for some time.

My attempt to beat bus ride boredom. I read ZERO pages in that book.

The bus ride was quiet and the two of us chatted for the better half of it as well as a quick nap since sleep was not on the itinerary for the next couple nights.

We arrived NYC at around 8PM and bolted to their friend Ken’s place to drop our bags off before dinner at Lena Latin Grill.  We were hungry and I gobbled up my grilled chicken with tomatillo and avocado sauce (Yum!), sweet plantains and fried yuca in no time.  Since our bus was so late, we headed to Queens to rest up for an early morning at the WTC Memorial.

On our way to the World Trade Center Memorial, Elsa convinced me that a bacon, cream cheese bagel is the best street car breakfast in NYC.  I didn’t argue since I was hungry and there just happened to be one of many food carts outside the memorial.

Bagels, cream cheese and bacon are three of my favorite cheat items.  So, what can I say, I approved.

The memorial has come a long way since I visited Ground Zero last in 2008.  While there is still some to be done to put the finishing touches and officially open it to the public, it was quite a different site from what happened just over 11 years ago.

While waiting in line for our 11:30AM entrance, Kelly and I discussed where we were and how we found out about the tragedy that surrounded that day.  I was in 9th grade and in 2nd block gym class when we walked by the television inside the fitness center.  That was my first glimpse of the first tower and eventually the hit of the second.

South Pool

Ken, Elsa, Kelly

Even though I was a young 14 year old, the phrase “terrorist attack” was not something I had much knowledge of before that day.  From my memory, I think many people, older and younger, had to take a moment or two to figure it all out from afar that day.  Some couldn’t bare the site of it, while others chose to ignore it completely.

The memorial still has some final touches they are working on, but the beauty of the grounds was obviously there.

The Survivor Tree

North Pool

Rainbow across the North Pool

Needless to say, we left the memorial with a deeper honor for those whose lives were lost that day.

We will never forget.

After spending our morning at the memorial we headed on to enjoy the rest of our day in the city.

Where were you on September 11th, 2001?

Back to Reality – Giveaway Winners

16 Oct

I promise, I have not forgotten about you.

New York City was a blast and I  look forward to sharing some of the highlights…soon.  Today, its back to reality and I’ve done nothing but run around since my return on Sunday night.

When 5AM rolled around Monday morning, life was pretty darn hard until I got my large travel mug of coffee brewing…which was left on the coffee table at home by accident.  Luckily, there was a pot brewing at work and I used some of my cereal milk to fix it right.

Word.  I’m working on this though.  I only drink coffee about 2-3 times a week at most.  With the exception of yesterday, I actually do just drink it cause I like the taste.

Ed and I were supposed to meet with our small group last night for a service project after work, but we were rained out.  With that said, I knocked out to bed extra early.  10:30 PM.  Close enough.

After getting some work done and finishing up another dentist appointment this morning, I fixed a quick lunch to eat.

One apple with 1 Tablespoon of drizzled caramel

One whole wheat English muffing toasted with mozzarella cheese and fresh tomatoes.

Food is still a little low after this weekend.  All I’m craving is veggies.  I worked my sweet tooth a lot in NYC!

I twisted my knee up pretty badly with all the festivities of the weekend, but I seem to be much better this morning.  I’m hoping to get an ab workout in with some much needed yoga.  I’ll let you know what I came up with.😉 Running will take place again tomorrow.

Giveaway Winners

The Who Nu? Giveaway winners are:

  • Emily N.
  • Chels
  • Kristina S.

You will all be emailed this afternoon. Please respond within 24 hours or I will have to choose a new winner.

Enjoy your treat!  Thanks to all who entered.

How do you “get back to reality” after a trip away?

Ed and I have been on so  many weekend trips to Ohio and other fun places since we have been married.  You would think we are used to it.  I’m exhausted after a quick trip like these.  All in good reason, of course. ;-)  I have never been good at relaxing while on vacation, especially weekend trips.

This or That?

13 Oct

Helloooo from New York City!

Okay, so I’m not really blogging on my girls weekend in NYC.  I set this up to pop up while away.  I’m so high tech😉

This survey has been floating around blogs for some time now and I couldn’t wait to get my fingers typing away at it.  I love surveys!  Take a look and feel free to play along in the comments below.

This or That?

  • Run or Work Out in the Heat and Humidity or the Freezing Cold?

If I have to choose, I guess I choose freezing cold.  I don’t like the idea of running and feeling like I’m breathing in a furnace.  The idea of running in “freezing cold” though makes my toes and nose shiver in fear.  The cold is coming…

  • Have Washboard Abs or Flat Abs?

Flat abs.

  • Dr. Oz or The Doctors?

Dr. Oz because I never saw The Doctors before.  It’s my default answer.  I really don’t think I care for watching either.

  • Cardio or Strength Workouts?

Cardio.  I like to move around a lot.  Strength is perfect for my lunch workouts though.

  • Cravings: Protein or Carbs?

Carbs.  Honestly, no contest.

Who can’t indulge in something like this at least once a week?

  • Jillian Michaels or Bob Harper?

Jillian.  I would respond better and get better results from her hard core yelling.  I feel like I could always find an out with Bob.  Although I do like him a lot too!

  • Frozen Yogurt or Ice Cream?

Frozen Yogurt.  It’s so refreshing and with all the new fro yo places popping up everywhere, the possibilities are endless!

  • Strength Training Upper Body or Lower Body?

Upper.  I prefer the upper body burn from the lower body.

  • Protein Powder or Food with Protein?

Food with protein, but protein smoothies are a close second!

  • Lunges or Squats?

Squats.  Lunges just suck.

  • Sweet or Salty?

Salty.  Too much sweet makes me feel sick instantly.  I’ll never pass on a little chocolate though.

Chocolate Caramel Pretzel. Love it.

  • Workout Attire: Cute or Comfy?

Both.  As long as it’s fitting and stays where it’s supposed to.  I can’t workout in baggy t-shirts.  They make me feel sluggish.

  • Body Pump or Heavy Lifting?

Body Pump!  I miss it so much.

  • Yoga or Pilates?

Pilates since I have only taken one real yoga class in my whole life.  I took pilates in college and loved it!

  • Favorite Fitness Brand?

I don’t have one since I shop the clearance rack for my workout attire.  As long as it meets the requirements for staying put on my body, I’m up for anything.

  • Running: Treadmill or Outdoors?

Outside for distance.  Treadmill for speed and high intensity work.  I can’t motivate myself enough outside to get my speed work out without the treadmill threatening me.

  • Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s?

Trader Joe’s by default.  I don’t typically shop at either, but Whole Foods is too far from where we live.

  • Summer or Winter Olympics?

Summer.  I love watching the swimming and diving.  Brings me back to many swim meets from years past.

  • Exercises Classes or Exercise Videos?

Classes.  I love the energy of being around other people with the loud music and pushing instructors.  I will do videos with my co-workers though.  Those can be just hysterical.

  • Steamed veggies or roasted veggies?

Steamed veggies.  Just cause it’s faster.

Apple Salad

10 Oct

Today flew by!

After posting this morning’s post, I buckled down at my work computer and before I knew it, it was was lunch time.  I decided to spend my lunch in the gym doing a “quick” and “simple” workout and chose my Simple Treadmill Circuit.  I should really think about changing that name…I was a sweaty mess.  Since I’ve been running outside more with this beautiful fall weather, the treadmill and I are not doing so well.  I also kept my incline up at a 2.0 the whole time I ran.  I felt it.  Tomorrow is a long run before my NYC trip this weekend.  I’ll be walking, but I won’t be running at all from Friday to Sunday😉

For lunch, I started with my favorite Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie before putting together a leftover bowl of soup.

I used Pacific Foods All Natural Southwest Vegetable Soup as my base and added some leftover pulled chicken and leftover Buitoni Whole Wheat Three Cheese Tortellini for some added depth.

Warm me up!

It tasted pretty awesome and made it’s way to my dinner plate as well.

Apple Salad

While tons of blogs are blowing up with all of their tasty  pumpkin recipes, I can’t forget that there is another favorite food in season as well.  Apples are getting tastier as the temps cool and I decided to put together a fall apple treat to change up all the pumpkin I’ve been consuming in the past week.


  • 3/4 cup of cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise (I used light Miracle Whip)
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups apples, diced
  • 1.5 bananas, sliced

Blend the cottage cheese, mayonnaise, cinnamon and sugar in the blender until creamy (about 3-4 minutes).

Pour mixture into a bowl and toss apples and bananas together.

Serve and dash with a little extra cinnamon for some added flavor.  Extra cinnamon is always allowed.

That’s it!  A simple dessert or side dish to go with your next meal.  I plan on eating more with my breakfast tomorrow.😉

While making this dish, I kept humming that song, “I like to eat, eat, eat, apples and bananas!”  Does anyone else remember that song?  I can’t remember the whole thing, but I know one thing is for sure,  I’ll take my fair share of both any day!

What are your favorite apple recipes?

I love hot apple cider and homemade applesauce.  Anywhere there is hot apple cider around fall time is where my spending money goes.  It’s the perfect cool evening, non caffeinated treat.  Motts doesn’t hold a candle to homemade applesauce.  The chunkier, the better!

Have you entered my Who Nu? Giveaway yet?  Only a couple more days to win a sweet and nutritious treat!

Book List

10 Oct

Good morning!

It’s been a couple days, but they have been rather busy on this end with getting back into a study routine.

First up, breakfast!

I started my day immediately with a hot cup of pumpkin spice coffee.  Yum.  I can’t get enough.  I wish I had my vanilla almond milk instead of skim, but it’s good all the same.

My meal consisted of 2 scrambled eggs, a scoop of roasted garlic hummus, cheddar cheese, a dash of parsley and a handful of fresh organic spinach open faced on half of a whole wheat English muffin.

Book List

Last night, I consolidated a list of books that I have been keeping track of wanting to read on the computer.  I love reading, but with school and my schedule lately, my days are early and as well as my evenings.  So, reading something I enjoy often takes the back burner.  I’m currently on the 3rd Chronicles of Narnia book, which has been enjoyable, but it’s taking me a while to get through the whole series.

Unfortunately, I started taking a liking to reading later on.  I wasn’t much of a reader in high school, but did enjoy the books that were assigned in school (Lord of the Flies, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Outsiders were a few favorites).  I haven’t read much of the most popular books that come to mind, but I’m working my way towards getting them off my list.  I recently had a conversation with my hair stylist who is an avid reader and I made it my absolute goal to read more often when time allowed.

Books that you have probably read, but I haven’t yet:

  • Harry Potter (Only read Book 1 so far)
  • The Hunger Games (Only read Book 1 so far)
  • The Chronicles of Narnia (Only read Book 1 and Book 2 so far)
  • Gone Girl (I’m really hoping to get a hold of this one before October is over)
  • How to Eat a Cupcake (The title intrigues me)
  • Sarah’s Key
  • Wild

Oh, the list could go on.  Needless to say though, I have a lot to catch up on!

Off to work!

What’s on your ‘to read’ list?  How do you make time to catch up on your favorite books?

I think I’m craving time to myself more then anything these days.  Reading helps me escape and to concentrate on other things rather then working out, what to make for dinner, what assignments are due that week, etc.

Have you entered my Who Nu? Giveaway yet?  Only a couple more days to win a sweet and nutritious treat!

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