Tag Archives: pumpkin

Back In Time

As of 3 minutes ago, it’s officially Thanksgiving! I’m cozy at home in my bed, surrounded by my stuffed animals, Polaroids from high school, and hundreds of books, among other things. What was your childhood bedroom like?

Speaking of childhood, I got a fun e-mail from my friend Jenny at 8 this morning while I was sipping on my coffee. Jenny is hands-down my oldest friend; our mothers grew up together, and although Jenny and I have been separate by half a country for our entire lives and only get to see each other once a year, we’ve always been close. When my grandfather was still living, my parents and I visited him in Indianapolis every winter between Christmas and New Year’s; this photo is from the winter of 1988. (That’s me on the right, with the bowl cut.)

Here we are this past summer, in Lake Michigan.

I miss her so much during the year. We look forward to our week on the lake so much!

After my trip down memory lane, I made a quick breakfast: Ezekiel English muffin with almond butter and a banana, raspberry jam on one side and pumpkin butter on the other.

I went to the post office to mail something; it didn’t open until 10 (which seems a little later) but there was a machine that got the job done. Then to physical therapy I went! It as a particularly good appointment. I learned some new exercises to stretch my hips; I can easily do them from the hotel room in Russia. After PT I raced back home to eat lunch before I had to turn right back around and go to an interview. I made a quick salad:

In the mix:

It was one of the rare occasions where I could not finish my meal. Usually, once I’ve dished a certain amount of food out, I will eat every last scrap even if I’ve long since reached capacity. (Last night’s pasta plate was an example of this.) However, today I started getting a stomachache about partway through, and just picked out what I wanted (roast vegetables, tofu, hummus), leaving a fair amount of spinach.

I felt guilty about throwing the rest out (I won’t be back at the house for two weeks), but it was better than making myself sick. As it was, my tum hurt for the next two hours. My eyes are bigger than my head sometimes, and I think the most important thing I need to remember to do is slow down while I’m eating. I’ve been so rushed these past few weeks that although I’ve been eating foods I love, I’ve barely tasted them as I’ve had to practically inhale them to get from appointment to appointment on time. It’ll be nice to have a little break 🙂

There’s always room for sweets, though! I had a couple of these strawberry gummy candies from the Japanese grocery store in our neighborhood. Not bad!

I was starving after my interview. Luckily I had about four different snacks in my bag, so I ate one of the apple-flavored Heart Thrive bars that I was sent to review. I’ll do a formal review once I’ve sampled all of the products, but I liked this a lot!

When I got home I folded laundry and did some preparatory packing for my trip to Russia. I am one of the worst packers ever. I always take too much and forget crucial items, like spare contact lenses or pajama pants. Do you have any fool-proof (or LVP proof!) packing tips?

I snacked on some Concord grapes that were about to go bad while I waited for my dad to help me pack some things up. These grapes are really addicting. There are seeds, which I thought I wouldn’t like, but are actually kind of fun to work through and take longer to eat. Plus, these are the kind of grapes used to make grape juice, so they’re the perfect combination of sweet + tart.

While my dad was at a holiday party, my mom and I had dinner at watched Hannah And Her Sisters. Not only is this a really good Woody Allen film, but it’s told between two years’ worth of Thanksgivings! I ordered a bento box for dinner, which came with a spicy tuna roll, tempura, sashimi & shrimp shumai. (It came with rice, salad & miso soup as well, but I’m saving those for tomorrow.)

I also had a glass of Black Box Wine’s Sauvignon Blanc.

My mom brought home dessert from Billy’s Bakery, the same shop she ordered my birthday cupcakes from.

She bought one pumpkin cupcake and one pumpkin bar; we split them three ways. De-lish.

I’m off to bed. There’s a lot on the agenda tomorrow! Have a great night, a happy holiday, and safe travels wherever your day takes you.

Early Bird Special

Are you an “all or nothing” type of person? My body seems to be.  My internal clock is so out of whack right now!  For the past week, I’ve alternated between going to bed early and getting more than a full night’s sleep (10+ hours) and getting less than 6 and feeling completely wiped.  This morning was the latter.  Last night, even though I was exhausted,  I could not get myself to drift off.  I knew I had to get up early to get ready for an interview, and the pressure of knowing I needed to sleep only made it worse.  I dragged myself out of bed, bleary and blurry eyed (I’m blind as a bat), not even stopping to put on my glasses.  I had one mission, and one mission only.

Our house guest left this as a parting gift when he left.  I’m sure it’s delicious, but I really didn’t pause to smell or taste it before throwing it back.  I’ll let you know about that tomorrow 🙂

I replenished my supply of POMx to dissolve my Ester-C into.  I’m still so proud of myself for discovering this works!  (For new readers: I drink a little bit every day with breakfast to dissolve Ester-C, which aids the absorption of an iron supplement I take for low energy, but don’t photograph it every morning.)

I was excited to try out a new product with breakfast: Stonewall Kitchen’s Lemon Curd.  I’ve been curious about this for years, and my mom was nice enough to buy it for me this weekend.

Breakfast was a double portion of Sarah‘s pumpkin “cakes”, topped with a heaping cloud of 0% Fage, cinnamon, walnuts, and a scoop of lemon curdLemon Meringue Pumpkin Pie before 7 AM? Yes, please!

I had two back-to-back interviews starting at 9 (which I think went well); afterward I needed to unwind a little with some teasing retail therapy (AKA touch everything, buy nothing) at J.Crew and Anthropologie.  How is it that a store (or two) can be filled with only perfect things?  But my bank balance remained stable, and I left satisfied with the clothes on my back.

The tree is going up in Rockefeller Center…

I sat in the plaza and ate my Criterion apple.  Sometimes it’s okay to be a tourist in your own city.

After making sure there were no more stores I needed to browse through, I came home to get some done and eat lunch.  I heated up a bowl of Spinach & Rice soup and added lots of fresh parsley, and served it alongside a small sweet potato with brown sugar and cinnamon.  Perfect mid-Monday comfort food, if you ask me.

I thought I deserved a treat, so I had some 55% Dark Chocolate Peppermint Chococolove.

The rest of the afternoon was spent writing. Welcome to my “office”!  You may recognize it as the kitchen table, but during the day I spread out and use it for reading, writing, researching, and tea-drinking.  I tried the Sugar Plum Spice holiday teaso good.  I think this might have been the first flavor they came up with, because I remember having it a long, long time ago before they changed their packaging.

After successfully moving to decaffeinated tea, I didn’t want to go back to drinking coffee so late in the day.  Instead, I moved on to a cup of Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride.  I don’t know how they do it, but this smells so much like a cookie! It’s very vanilla-y, but it has a very soft taste without a hint of bitterness.

I finished up my work, then went into the city to meet my friend Ilena at 5:30 for an early dinner at FreeFoods NYC.

Tonight was another example of how many secrets this city has to offer, both food-wise and other.  I never would have suspected that a restaurant like this could exist (and thrive!) in Midtown Manhattan, in the heart of corporate offices and tourist attractions.  Was I wrong!  It goes to show that people do want to eat locally and sustainably, the options just have to be made available.

FreeFoods serves fresh soups, sandwiches and salads; they have raw, vegan and gluten-free options.

I built my own salad with arugula, avocado, spiced mango, shittake mushrooms, spicy shrimp and Manchego cheese with Thai basil dressing.

One of the staff members had made an extra Vitality Berry smoothie (sweet cherry, açai, blueberry- pomegranate juice, ginger-agave), so Ilena and I split it with our dinners.  It was really good, and helped ease the heat in my mouth leftover from my spicy salad dressing!

Ilena and I sat for a while catching up…

…and were treated to another smoothie sample! This time we tried the “orange creamsicle” (it’s new, and the ingredients aren’t listed).  As Ilena said, it really did taste like a creamsicle, “but not in the bad way”!

Since we dined early, I was back home by 7:30 to get some things done before Gossip Girl.  Sadly, it seems like most TV shows have already had their holiday finales, so I did some more work instead.  I did, however, make a fabulous dessert to fill my Chuck Bass-sized void…

My dad found a great deal on takeout containers of Tasti D-Lite, so he picked me up some peanut butter frozen yogurt.  I added frozen berries and Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter.

Another sweet end to a good day.

What was the best part of your Monday? What are you looking forward to about Tuesday?

P.S.  Please vote for Lyle!  She is a talented, beautiful actress who deserves to realize her dreams.  Register, vote, and help here get there!

Dos and Don’ts

Hey there, strangers! How was your weekend? Mine was lovely… I spent the last few days relaxing in upstate New York with my parents.  Time seems to move slower there; I never felt like I was rushing to catch my breath or finish five things at once.  It was a nice change.  What did you do?

Here’s a quick re-cap of the weekend chez with Mom & Pop LVP, Do/Don’t style!

DO make Eggs In A Basket out of an open-face grilled cheese sandwich.  Thanks for the idea, Kaytee!

DO enjoy pumpkin whole wheat pancakes on a frosty fall morning.  The secret to their fluffiness? A little bit of vinegar.

DO support your local farmers and buy apples at the orchard…

…and while there, DO pick up an apple cider donut for your mama.

It will make her happy.

DO top your salads with Red Ants On A Log (celery with Sunbutter and dried cherries).

DON’T feel silly when you squeal with delight after finding holiday teas at your local food co-op, after searching every chain grocery store with no luck.

DON’T gloat about winning some fancy protein powder from your neighborhood Everythingtarian.

DO share Holly‘s pumpkin molasses cookies with those who gave you life… albeit grudgingly.

DO cozy up to a mug of Spiced POM Cider

DO have a nice dinner at Church and Main, a sustainable restaurant that supports local farmers and uses only the freshest ingredients (and DO go home and watch Food, Inc. afterward).

DO drink local Riesling

…eat wedges of bread

DO share two appetizers with Daddy-O to maximize tastings, like these bay scallops with parsley pesto over cappelllini...

… and this spinach and arugula salad with candied almonds, parmesan and goat cheese.

DO have the pan-roasted Atlantic monk fish with creamy white beans, celery root, warm baby winter greens & roasted beets for yourslef.

DO share three desserts (warm chocolate cake with caramel sauce, gingerbread crème brulée, semolina cake with roasted apples).

And, in case you were wondering, this is a salsify root:

…this is a celery root:

… and this is a turnipDON’T worry, these aren’t sea creatures!

Do warm up for your first 6 mile run since your injury with Yoga For Runners.

DO give your knees a break and run on a track.

DO utilize the Lap function on your heart rate monitor; DON’T feel bad for taking a year to notice it.

Total distance: 6 miles
Total time: 59:54

Mile 1: 9:49
Mile 2: 9:57
Mile 3: 10:07
Mile 4: 10:14
Mile 5: 10:03
Mile 6: 9:41

Average Pace: 9:58

DO refuel with a bowl of apple cinnamon raisin oatmeal.  Microwave a diced apple, sprinkled with cinnamon, for 90 seconds. Insta-baked apple.

DO enjoy an end-of weekend bowl of Marcella Hazan’s Spinach and Rice Soup.

DO buy packaged falafel based on the brand name alone.

And most importantly, DO take advantage of your boyfriend’s absence to load up on things like Garlic Lovers Hummus and raw onion.

For an added bonus for body and soul, DO a free Lunar Flow practice before bed, with your eyes closed and the lights off.  You’ll thank yourself.

What are your most recent DOs and DON’Ts?

Sweet and Spicy Sweet Potato Leek Soup

First things first (and I might get in trouble for this later)… HAPPY BIRTHDAY ARI! Feel free to send him a little hello 🙂 He’s not a big “birthday person,” but I still wish we were together.  When he gets back from tour, though, I’m going to make him a mighty fine cake!  The first Upwelling fan’s tattoo has surfaced… what’s the farthest you have  gone (or would go)  for a band, artist, writer, _____ you love?

Last night, once again, hunger pangs dragged me from bed.  I grabbed an apple and snuggled back under the covers.

I think it’s because I’ve been eating dinner earlier than I’m used to… growing up, we ate dinner between 8 and 9, but now when I cook for myself, I eat around 7. Interesting!

This morning I got up early to finish some work for my internship, and by the time I was ready for breakfast I’d worked up quite the appetite.  I made my first batch of oatmeal in a couple weeks, and it did not disappoint.

I microwaved 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup oats, pumpkin and frozen berries all together at the same time. Saves time, and I didn’t have to wash an extra dish.  I topped the dish with brown sugar and a scoop of flaxy peanut butter.

Things were a little busier at the office today, and before I knew it it was time to meet my mom for lunch.  We went to AOC, a cute French bistro in the West Village.

We had some buttered bread while we waited for our orders to arrive.

I ordered the Salade Nordique, which was not only beautifully presented…

…but it was fully loaded with delicious ingredients!  Poached salmon, smoked salmon, jumbo lump crab meat, a poached egg with grainy mustard, grapefruit, mixed greens, and tomatoes.

It was delicious.  My favorite bites were forkfuls of smoked salmon-wrapped grapefruit… I really have to try this at home.   I didn’t come close to finishing the salad, and took a lot of the salmon home.  It’ll make a delicious lunch tomorrow!

We each drank a cup of coffee, then went to The Lite Choice for dessert.   I got a small cup of frozen yogurt with half Fluffernutter, half Dark Chocolate Truffle.

My mom went back to work, and I went home to get some things done.  I went for a 2 miles run as my training schedule directed, then did some ab work and played around on the foam roller.  Sweet pain.

I wanted to make something fast, easy, delicious, and comforting for dinner, and came up with a new twist on an old favorite.  It’s low in fat, high in flavor and smells like heaven.

Sweet and Spicy Sweet Potato Leek Soup

Serves 1-2

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized sweet potato, peeled & chopped
  • 1 leek, finely sliced
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 inch ginger, minced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (I made my own using Better Than Bouillon)
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 tsp curry
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • parsley (optional)

Heat oil over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are near-transparent,  about 5 minutes.  Add ginger and cook 1 minute more, being careful not to let the ingredients burn.

Add leeks, potato, stock & bay leaf.  Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf.

Transfer to a food processor or blender and pulse until soup reaches desired texture.  I prefer mine smooth, but you can easily leave a few chunks of potato.

Add spices and pulse until cloves are ground and incorporated.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with parsley and additional spices, if desired.

Serve and enjoy!

I enjoyed a bowl of soup with a toasted Ezekiel English muffin.  One half had almond butter and raspberry jam, the other had melted cheddar and Bragg’s.

It was a perfect dinner for one, followed by the perfect dessert: dried fruit stuffed with roasted almonds and dark chocolate chips. Natural candy, if you will.   I have a little trouble with portion control when I eat these… they’re so good that I can’t help going back into the kitchen to make more!

I’m hoping to get to bed early so I’m nice and fresh for tomorrow.  What was the best part of your day?

A Wedding In Connecticut

Good evening and happy Sunday!  How was your weekend?  I just got back from Westbrook, Connecticut, where The Upwelling’s former tour manager got married.  The boys were part of the wedding party so they came back from tour and we all went together.

While this is going to be more of a “greatest hits” post, I want to share a new dressing with you: coconut mint.

Coconut Mint Dressing

Coconut Mint Dressing

  • 1/2 tsp shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 small handful fresh mint, chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

“Muddle” the mint, coconut and lemon together before adding the rest of the juices.  This releases the flavors and lets them really pop!  I drizzled the dressing over a tempeh/sweet potato/apple/feta salad

Coconut Mint Salad

… but it would make a great marinade for fish, shrimp, or tofu as well.   I’m getting so much mileage out of this bunch of mint!

In the car, I had the healthiest and most delicious “candy bar” imaginable: dried fruit stuffed with roasted almonds and bittersweet chocolate chips. These are so good.

Healthy Candy Bar

Ari bought me a slightly more processed version, but still a favorite nonetheless.  There’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s.

Reese's 1 Reese's 2

When we got to the hotel, I took advantage of the time the groomsmen spent rehearsing to go to the gym.  I ran 3.1 miles (5K), walked another .4, and stretched.  As the Gina always says, no one wants to miss out on the fun, so I try to plan timely activities (like workouts and… ahem… the time I spend getting ready to go out) while everyone else is either sleeping or doing something else.

The bride and groom are both Jewish, and because the rehearsal dinner fell on Friday, we had a traditional Shabbat dinner.  The challah abounded!  Somehow I ended up with three pieces of bread on my plate, but Josh and Ari picked at most of it.

Bread Plate

The entrée choices were Vegetable Risotto with Arugula Pesto or Cappelini Rustica; I wasn’t sure which (if any) option was vegetarian, but figured the risotto was a safer bet.  They both turned out to be meat free, and I loved the risotto! It was very rich, though, so I only ate about half of it.  And the flower.  Which I’m pretty sure wasn’t of the edible variety.  Whoops!

Vegetable Risotto with Arugula Pesto

Strawberry sorbet for dessert…

Strawberry Sorbet

… and a fun-size Cookies ‘n Cream Hershey’s bar.   This is one of those weird LVP-isms; I really don’t like white chocolate, but a couple times a year I get cravings that can only be quenched by this particular bar.  The bride and groom must have known this when they stuffed it in our goodie bag!

White Chocolate

Also in the bag were these personalized M&Ms; they had the wedding date, photo, names and words printed on them.  Very creative!

Wedding M&Ms

We may or may not have gone to a casino late that night (this girl’s first time) to further my blackjack education and lose $5 on the slots.  It was a strange, strange place, I tell ya!  It was HUGE, and the lights are pretty dim and there aren’t any windows so there’s really no way to tell if it’s 4PM or 4AM.  Drinks are free, and you can walk everywhere with them!  People also smoked inside; it’s strange that a few years ago that was the norm everywhere.  The stores were opened past midnight, so Ari and I split a Godiva pumpkin truffle.

Godiva Royale

We got to the hotel really late, and with the exception of Stew, all slept in past noon.  We woke up famished, so we set out in search of brunch.  Where did our journey take us, you ask?  To the Grand Slam at Denny’s. Yes, you read that correctly.

Denny's Grand Slam

The Grand Slam is a magical deal that lets you pick four breakfast items for only $5.99.  For an extra $.49 per item, you can choose from three “premium selections” like yogurt, granola or fruit.   We were all very excited.

Denny's Grand Slam 2

We placed our orders, then  set to work.  When was the last time you colored at an eatery?

Grand Slam Coloring

Ari ordered a festive pot of peppermint tea (which came with an unsolicited squirt of peppermint syrup):

Denny's Peppermint Tea

I drank my coffee black.

Grand Slam Coffee

The food arrived: I ordered (dry) whole wheat pancakes, egg whites, oatmeal and a cup of fruit.

Grand Slam Breakfast: Before

I ate all the fruit and eggs (which were buttery but delicious), half of the pancakes and left all of the oatmeal.  Even had I not been an oatmeal snob, I don’t think anything else would have fit in my stomach.

Grand Slam Breakfast: After

Brunch understandably held me right up through the wedding, and left me with more than enough time to shower, dress (Hollywood Tape did not come through for me as I’d hoped)…

pre-wedding

… and watch three hours worth of Married With Children episodes.

pre-wedding

The ceremony was beautiful, and while it was traditional in some respects, there were some nice personal touches: the groomsmen walked down the aisle to Semi-Charmed Life, the bridesmaids to Bittersweet Symphony, the bride to Do You Realize?, all performed by a string quartet. There may have been some tears in my corner.

At the dinner reception, the guest seated to my right taught me a helpful trick to remembering where your bread and drinks go in relation to your place setting.

Table Setting Trick

Make the “OK” signal with both of your hands.  Your left forms a lower-case “B” (for bread), and the right forms a “D” (for drink).  How handy!

Speaking of bread, this roll was particularly tasty…

Bread

… and where drinks are concerned, I stuck to vodka- sodas.

Vodka Soda

While we were eating our smoked mozzarella and pesto ravioli appetizer, Josh and Ari played an acoustic version of A-Ha’s “Take On Me” for the bride and groom’s first dance. This was really good, but I let it get cold and only had a few bites.

Smoked Mozzarella Ravioli

I didn’t leave a scrap of arugula salad with toasted walnuts, shaved parmesan, and mandarin oranges, however.  The couple next to me thought it was too big, but I would have gladly alleviated them of their portion!  This was my favorite part of the meal.

Arugula Salad

The entree was grilled salmon with mashed potatoes, green beans and carrots. It was good, but I was pretty full by the time this came around and only ate about half of the fish (but all of the veggies!) and gave my taters to Ari.

Wedding Salmon

We danced around on the floor for a bit, but really just enjoyed being with friends and each other.  The band is booked through February with a short break in December, so it was nice to be able to spend the weekend together.

The cake was sliced and brought around: chocolate with strawberry and vanilla buttercream.  I ate about half, then went back out to tear up the rug.

Wedding Cake

Our eyelids started drooping around midnight, and we were asleep by 1.  We had to hustle in the morning to get back to the city, but we had enough time to have a nice brunch with the wedding party.  I had half of a sesame bagel with cream cheese, eggs, fruit (plus some unpictured grapes), and half a slice of French toast. Coffee abounded, as usual.

Wedding Brunch

It was such a nice weekend.  I really cannot express how grateful I am to have been able to spend a weekend- more like a mini-vacation, actually- with people I love.  The next few days will be pretty busy… The Upwelling goes back on tour tomorrow, and I have a couple interviews for potential jobs.   My healthy habits have been slacking a bit, but one month from this morning (Sunday, December 13) is my 15K race.  I’ve updated my training plan, and will stick to it… I went on a 4.5 mile run late this afternoon.

15K training

Regular posting will resume tomorrow.  I hope you had a fabulous weekend, and congratulations to the newlyweds!

My Knight In Blue Adidas

Good evening and happy Tuesday! I hope you’ve had a fabulous, fabulous day.  Mine’s been alright… no complaints here!

Yesterday I had an early-morning appointment with a new physical therapist (mine is in Orlando competing in a Half Ironman!), so, after flirting with snooze for as long as possible, I dragged myself out of bed.  This was a little harder than usual, as I got less than five hours of sleep the night before.  Ari was at the All-American Rejects show in Atlantic City the night before, and while I knew he’d be home late, was startled when I woke up at 3:30 and he wasn’t there.  I couldn’t get him on the phone, and because I was still half-asleep, got myself so worked up thinking that something really awful had happened.  He came home at 4 and all was fine, but I don’t know if I’ve ever been so worried.  I can be a little silly sometimes 🙂

Anyway, breakfast was quick but delicious: Sarah‘s microwave pumpkin cake topped with raspberry yogurt and walnuts.

Pumpkin Cake w/ Yogurt

Speaking of pumpkins, our little fella has aged quite a bit since Halloween!

Grandpa Jack

My PT session went well.  My temporary therapist told me my muscles are still really tight… I need to be more aggressive with my foam roller and concentrate on the IT band.  It hurts, but it’ll ease up as the muscle loosens.   He also put me on a pilates machine for some quad work.  I’ve only done mat pilates before, but this was fun! I definitely feel its work today.

I raced home to watch Heroes and get lunch with Ari.  I suggested we go to a bagel place that also makes salads, but when we got there and I saw that their ingredients were no better than the ones I had at home (my rule when eating out is only to get something I can’t make at home) I changed my mind and ordered a toasted low-carb bagel with light cream cheese smoked salmon and tomato.

Bagel Lunch

This was good, but so filling.  I’ve never had a meal hold me over for 7+ hours before… note even Thanksgiving!

The rest of the afternoon was meant to be spent reading, but our room was so hot that I fell right asleep!  It’s been unseasonably warm here for the past few days, and it was the same in Minnesota.  Hmm…

While I was snoozing, Ari was out running errands, one of which was a trip to the bookstore.  He got us both copies of The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain for us to do on our own and talk about while he’s on tourHow do you keep up with friends and loved ones when you’re separated geographically?

Drawing On The Right Side of the Brain

He also got me a surprise…

French Wine for Dummies

French Wine for Dummies (FWfD)!  Just what I need to kick-start my wine education.  What a nice boyfriend! 

We decided to go on a quick run together before dinner; I didn’t want to run at night by myself, and to be honest I’ve been a bit apprehensive about running outside again.  I haven’t had any pain at all in either of my legs for at least three weeks and have run on the treadmill twice since I was given the OK, but I just wanted some company!  While we ran, Ari taught me the rules of blackjack.  I was so engrossed in his casino tales that before I knew it, I was falling… and falling… and falling… it seemed to take a really long time for me to hit the ground, and Ari acted so quickly and caught me so that I only scraped my palms.  I have never fallen while running before, and I shudder to think of what could have happened if he hadn’t been there… I don’t think I’d be able to handle another injury!

We both had more work to do before we were ready to relax, so I made us a quick and easy dinner: Tomatoey Spiced Chickpeas (which I’ve made before), brown rice and Japanese Cucumber Salad with Vinegar.

Sweet & Spicy Dinner

This chickpea recipe stood the test of time… Ari really liked it, and he’s a pretty tough judge.  We both agreed the seaweed wasn’t quite right on the cukes; next time I think I’ll cut the pieces a bit smaller.  A miso would probably taste good as well.

We had some De Loach Merlot, a 2006 Californian from the Russian River Valley that my friend Howard gave to me.

De Loach Merlot

Although this isn’t a French wine, I consulted FWfD to learn a little about Merlot. I scanned the table of contents… nothing.  I flipped to the back to search through the index… nothing again!  No Merlot?! It’s a French word!…. Isn’t it?  I flipped to the “Cheat Sheet” at the front of the book to see if anything even starting with “M” made an appearance, and lo and behold! Next to Bordeaux (red) (Wine Type) was an a list: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc (Principle Grape(s)).  Merlot is a type of grape, and just one of several that falls under the category “Bordeaux.” It grows in the Haut-Médoc in Gironde, a region in the southwest of France that is located in the city of Bordeaux.   The Merlot grape is the most commonly planted variety in Bordeaux (FWfD p. 36-38).

So what does this mean for California Merlots? According to the Wine Institute, Merlot grapes were brought to the United States in the mid-19th century, and are mainly used to blend and “soften” a more robust wine.

I’m typically more of a white wine drinker, but I want to broaden my horizons.  This didn’t taste too strong to me, and it did feel sort of “soft” in my mouth, if that makes sense.

Ari’s take: Deliciousness in a sleek and spunky package.  I was impressed by  both the amount of flavornoids and antioxidants.   And I was ready to party.

I was also ready to party… with the freezer.  Häagen-Dazs sent me a coupon for a free pint to make up for their almond-less ice cream, so I picked up a container of their five-ingredient Brown Sugar ice cream.

Häagen-Dazs Five Brown Sugar

It tasted so much like brown sugar!  Which, I guess, is an acquired taste… straight sugar isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  Ari wasn’t a fan, but I filled a bowl and topped it with Pure Dark chipotle chocolate.

Brown Sugar Ice Cream w/ Chipotle Chocolate

We did a little more work, and spent the rest of the evening watching Heartburn.  Has anyone seen this?  It was made the year before I was born, and there were so many things I recognized (specific toys, accessories, my mother’s perm…).  The film itself made me a little sad (Mike Nichols directed it), but I liked it a lot.  What movie should I order from Netflix?

P.S.  Holly’s giving away some supa-fancy protein powda!

Wynken, Blynken & Nod return

Honesty is the best policy, and I’ve got to admit that there’s about a 70% chance that my eyes will close and this post will go up tomorrow morning instead.  Daylight Savings + changing time zones must be catching up with me!

Today was an absolutely lovely day.  I woke up earlyish and met my grandparents downstairs in the breakfast nook.

Breakfast Nook

I had an English muffin with peanut butter, cinnamon and 1/2 banana and a bowl of plain yogurt with fresh raspberries and blueberriesBreakfast

As I was assembling my breakfast, my grandfather remarked that there were no redeeming qualities to peanut butter.  Of course, I loved having the opportunity to launch into my spiel about protein, healthy fats, folic, and plain ole great taste!

After breakfast, I gave myself a little time to digest before hopping on the treadmill and pounding out 2 miles.  Luckily, Saved By The Bell was on and I didn’t get bored…

zack_morris4 Source

Nothing like a little Zach Morris to keep your heart rate up!  (Although, he’s clearly underage in this photo, and that makes me feel a little weird.  A little.)

On our way out the door to run some errands, my Granny fed me a carrot and told me about her new method for fast-cooking veggies: steam them in the microwave! Make a pouch out of waxed paper, moisten with a few drops of water, fill with veggies, and nuke for 3 minutes or until cooked.

Microwaved Carrots

Is this the end of rebel carrots?  Maybe, as long as the wax doesn’t break down and seep into the vegetables.

Everyone seemed to still be full from last night’s dinner,  so lunch was kind of informal.  I grabbed a Pink Lady apple on the way out the door…

Pink lady

… and got a Grande Skim Mocha at Starbucks.  Mocha?! Who am I and what have I done with LVP?

Mocha

I must have been really thrown off my my choice, because I immediately spilled it all over my purse.  I’m a bit of a klutz!

Spilled Mocha

An hour or so later, I had my first Nature’s Path product.  I’ve seen these Optimum bars all over the blogs, so I grabbed this when I spotted it on sale.

Optimum Rebound Energy Bar

It was good… the taste and texture reminded me a little of a Luna Cookie.

Optimum Rebound Energy Bar

This is my second lunch in a row that’s been supplemented by energy bars.  I’m not proud of this, but it happens when you travel.

Granny and I took a special trip to the grocery store to look for Celestial Seasonings’ Sugar Cookie Sleighride tea that y’all seem to love… we searched in vein, but I did find this Sweet Coconut Thai Chai tea that will hopefully taste like the coconut chai tea I love.

Tea & Clementine

I also convinced my grandmother that she needs some POM in her life.

I Heart POM

We had an early dinner at Spoonriver, one of my favorite restaurants in Minneapolis.  I was really happy when our waitress asked for my ID when I ordered a Moroccan Mojito (mint, lime, rum, cardamom and rose water).  I haven’t been carded in a few months, but this must mean my wrinkle is getting smaller!  It’s funny… two years ago I would not have enjoyed being IDed at all.

Moroccan Mojito

I had a slice of whole wheat potato bread

Spoonriver Bread

… and my grandmother and I both ordered the Broiled Salmon Okisuki in a savory Japanese Ginger Broth with Fresh Udon Noodles. I think Grandpa was jealous… I am definitely going to recreate this at home.

Spoonriver Salmon

For dessert, we all split a slice of butternut squash-carrot cake with pumpkin-cream cheese frosting.  Oh, mama!

Butternut squash-Carrot cake

After dinner, we went next door to the Guthrie theater to see an evening showing of Faith Healer.  It was a really, really powerful play told entirely in monologues.  I loved it.

When we got home, I took a deep breath of fresh air for Averie on the way up to bed.

Minnesota Air

If it weren’t so late, I’d ask Granny to tuck me into bed.  I used to visit them every summer when I was younger, and until I was 11 or 12 or so, my grandmother would put me to bed with this nursery rhyme.  I have such nice memories of sleeping in this room (when I first started visiting on my own, the floor was covered in a thick pink shag carpet) and being here.  Although I went to college in Minnesota as well and visited a lot, my memories from that time are sort of separated from the time I spent here as a kid.  Do you have any memories of nighttime rituals? If you‘re a parent, how do you put your kids to bed?

Around the blogs: Starting Monday, I am going to do my best to follow Angharad and Holly‘s lead and practice yoga thrice a week.  I am also going to take meal-prepping more seriously, so I don’t stand in front of the fridge with the door open for minutes on end, willing the empty produce drawer to magically refill itself.

Wish Jungwha a happy blogiversary and win big!

Have a great night!