Thursday, February 28, 2013

CT Bites Beer Dinner at Bar Q

When I saw that CT Bites was hosting a beer dinner the day before my birthday I thought, “Well, this is kismet.” I went to a wine dinner at Epernay Bistro (which has since closed) in Bridgeport a couple years ago and a beer dinner/blogger meet up at J Timothy’s in Plainville last summer.  I love going to these kind of events, you get to chat with people who are knowledgeable about their products and you get to sample delicious food that is properly paired with beer or wine.  This particular event was held at Bar Q in Stamford and featured beer from three Connecticut breweries; Half Full, Two Roads & City Steam.

beer dinner

My sister works in Stamford, so I hopped on the train to meet up with her.  It was a quick (and super cheap!!) train ride from Stratford and Bar Q was within walking distance of the train station. 


We were greeted by Ellen from CT Bites and given a glass of “Welcome Beer” while we waited for everyone to arrive. The “Welcome Beer” was Half Full’s Bright Ale.  This was one of my favorites of the night.  It was crisp, citrusy and fresh. Kind of like the Sauvignon Blanc of beer.  Which is probably why it was one of my favorites.  The owner of Half Full, Conor was there and he told us that they are currently the only ones brewing this type of beer. How awesome is that? He told us all about the brewery and it sounds like it would be a blast to check out one of their open houses or tours!

Next up was the 1st course (oh yeah, there were FIVE courses!!) which was Wood Kissed Chicken Wings paired with City Steam Blonde on Blonde. These were easily the best chicken wings I have ever had.  The were super tender and super flavorful. They paired nicely with the hoppy-ness of the Blonde on Blonde. 

This was followed by Smoke Pit Chili paired with Naughty Nurse, another City Steam brew. This was not your run-of-the-mill ground meat chili.  This had to have been made with meat that had been slow-roasting and marinating all day until it fell apart on it’s own.  It was amazingly good and super spicy.  Unfortunately, I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to spicy.  The sweet caramel flavor in the Naughty Nurse brew took a little bit of the edge off but I could only get through about half of my bowl before I had to call it quits.

For the 3rd course we had “designer” sliders and Two Roads Ol’ Factory.  There was a pulled pork slider topped with creamy slaw and a pickle and a brisket style one topped with sauce and a jalapeno (eek!) We were given a tangy red vinaigrette sauce on the side.  This was comfort food at its best. Did I mention they were served on potato buns? YUM. This paired with the crispness of the Ol’ Factory pilsner was perfect, especially after the spicy chili!

So at this point I was feeling very full, but my need to sample kept me going strong.  After all, I was celebrating my birthday, why not indulge a little? They brought us out a plate of ribs.  One was St. Louis Sticky style and the other was made with a Memphis dry rub.  I only took a few bites to try it out and they were both super tender and packed a ton of big flavor.  I loved that it was paired with a beer that also had big flavor – the Two Roads Road to Ruin Double IPA.


…And now for dessert! Luckily, there is always room for dessert because I really did not want to miss out on this. I can’t believe I’m about to type this but, we had, Snickerdoodle Bacon Ice Cream Sandwiches. Yes. So good. The snickerdoodle cookies tasted homemade and paired with sweet vanilla ice cream a savory bacon crumbles it was just, amazing.  But wait, there’s more! This bad boy was paired with Half Full Chocolate Coffee Brown Ale. I know, let that sink in. So many flavors, so much perfection. It was a great ending note!


We were also offered samples of Two Roads seasonal Holiday Ale afterwards but I was literally about to burst! I know their Holiday Ale is awesome though, I got a growler the last time I visited their brewery!

Overall it was a great night and I’ve decided that a) I need to take my husband to Bar Q and b) I need to attend another CT Bites Invite event! In fact, I think everyone should!!!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fit at Home Friday–Pinterest

Hey everyone! This is a new series I am starting here on my blog called “Fit at Home Friday” I will be offering up ideas for at home fitness as well as reviews of fitness products and hopefully some giveaways in the future.  I am also going to have a “food of the week” at the bottom of the post that will either feature a specific food or a recipe. I hope you enjoy it!

If you are like me, you might have workout ADD.  Doing the same workout every day just gets boring. Plus, your body gets used to doing the same thing over and over again and you could be burning less calories as the days go on. 

Luckily, there is a great, free, resource right at your fingertips – Pinterest! People are posting and repinning workouts constantly.  It’s also incredibly easy to search for exactly what you are looking for.  Feel like doing some cardio? Just type in ‘cardio’. Arms? Legs? Butt? A great treadmill routine? It’s all there!


Here are some great boards to follow for some workout pinspiration:

One of my favorite workouts that I found on Pinterest is this Kettlebell HIIT workout from Janice over at Fitness Cheerleader.


Since we’re on the subject of pinterest this week, I’m going to feature something very pinterest-y – smoothies.  There are tons of great recipes for making all different types of smoothies or this great guide for creating a green smoothie.

Smoothies are great for breakfast or post-workout.  Just be careful not to add too much sugar!  Try freezing your own fruit and switching out bananas for avocados.


Did you find a great workout or smoothie recipe on pinterest? Please leave a link in the comments!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Save the Children’s–“Superfood for Babies” Report #FirstHour

When I had my first son a little over 4 years ago, I knew nothing about babies.  I’m pretty sure that he was the first baby I had ever even held.  When my doctor asked me whether I planned on breastfeeding or bottle feeding, I just assumed I would breastfeed.  My mom had breastfed me and her mom had breastfed her.  That was pretty much as far as the conversation went, I never really looked into it or educated myself about breastfeeding.

After he was born, I had trouble getting him to latch on.  The lactation consultant at the hospital wasn’t all that helpful and the nurses made me feel like I was going to starve him to death if I didn’t feed him.  So we gave him a bottle.  I tried to breastfeed a few more times to no avail.  I felt a little defeated, but I wasn’t devastated.  I didn’t really know any of the benefits of breastfeeding.

A couple years later when I was pregnant with my second son, things were different.  I had friends who touted the benefits of breastfeeding and really encouraged me to try it again.  My OB had also joined a new practice and was now delivering babies at a different hospital, a “Baby-Friendly” hospital.

My experience was completely different this time.  The staff encouraged me to breastfeed within the first hour of my sons life and exclusively until it was well established.  They offered lactation support 24/7 and all the nurses were well educated about breastfeeding.  Through all the encouragement and support, I was successful.  My son was weaned off of breast milk a few months ago, but I am still so thankful for my wonderful experience in the hospital.

I was lucky to get the support that I needed, but many women are not.  Only 6.7 % of births in the U.S. occur in “Baby-Friendly” facilities that meet international guidelines for supporting breastfeeding.

Mothers everywhere should have access to information that allows them to make an informed choice about breastfeeding, and the support they need to breastfeed should they choose to.

While there are many benefits to breastfeeding here in the U.S, in developing countries it could be a matter of life and death.  In a new report titled, “Superfood for Babies” by Save the Children, they look at how hundreds of thousands of babies lives could be saved each year through breastfeeding and what it will take to get there. The report finds that starting breastfeeding earlier can make a big difference. Breastfeeding within the first hour of your babies life is the most significant. The colostrum, or first milk, jump starts the babies immune system and more often leads to extended breastfeeding, which could protect against malnutrition.

The report found these 4 major barriers that women face in breastfeeding:
Cultural and community pressures.

Many cultures discard the colostrum. In India this often relates to religious belief, but also that it is thick, unclean and the removal helped the child suckle more easily. In Afghanistan, people believe it should be discarded because it’s been in the breast for 9-10 months. In Niger, tradition says that colostrum is dangerous for infants and should be thrown away. 
Many women are not empowered to make their own health decisions – in a Sierra Leone survey 47% reported that this was the case.
Global health worker shortage.
The World Health Organization has estimated the global health worker shortage at more than 3 million and one third of moms give birth with no skilled health worker present.
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative launched by WHO and UNICEF in 1991 to implement practices that protect, promote and support breastfeeding. Facilities must implement “10 steps to successful breastfeeding” to get the designation.
Lack of maternity legislation.

For the “Superfood for Babies” report, Save the Children commissioned research to look at maternity protection in the 36 low-income countries with the highest number of malnourished children. It looked at whether maternity leave met the International Labor Organization (ILO) minimum standards (14 weeks leave moving toward a recommended 18), financial protections and policies to accommodate breastfeeding women at work.
Only Vietnam met 18 weeks leave. Only 10 countries exceeded 14 weeks.
Most of the 38 industrialized countries provide the recommended 2/3 pay during maternity leave, 5 countries provide between 30 (Japan) and 60 (Czech Republic) percent. In Australia and Denmark, maternity leave is funded by employers, but in the U.S. there is no requirement at all that women be paid while on maternity leave, although some employers choose to.
Aggressive marketing of breast-milk substitutes.
The International Code of Marketing Breast-milk Substitutes (“The Code”) was created by the World Health Assembly in 1981 and has been updated numerous times since. It is a set of minimum standards to promote and protect breastfeeding and ensure breast-milk substitutes are used safely if needed. Provisions include no advertising of breast-milk substitutes or promotional materials, no free samples to mothers, their families or health workers, no gifts to health workers, labels must state the superiority of breastfeeding and give a warning about health hazards, no pictures of infants or other pictures idealizing the use of formula, no direct contact with moms by marketing personnel.
  • In China, 40% of mothers that were interviewed had been contacted directly by baby food company representatives.
  • In Pakistan, 1/3 of health professionals said they’d been visited by a representative of breast-milk substitute companies and 1/10 of health professionals said their health facility had received free samples of formula, nipples or bottles.
  • In Sri Lanka, it was found that breast-milk substitute companies operate an incentives scheme for midwives, including offers of money and foreign travel in return for selling formula.

Breastfeeding is critical to preventing malnutrition and saving children’s lives in the developing world. Breastfeeding immediately after birth could help save 830,000 newborn babies from dying a year, and exclusive breastfeeding for six months could save even more babies and children.

Many families in impoverished communities around the world have been getting great support from the 1,000 Days Call to Action – an initiative led by the U.S. government.  But, it is set to expire soon – unless we speak out!

Please visit: to sign the petition and tell the Secretary of State, John Kerry to demand renewal of the 1,000 Days Call to Action!

Let’s make nutrition a priority!

I am a part of the Global Team of 200 and Social Good Moms' 24-Hour Blogathon spreading the word about Save the Children's new breastfeeding report, Superfood for Babies. Sign the petition urging Secretary Kerry to help mothers around the world get more support around breastfeeding and lifesaving nutrition for their babies.

Workout Wednesday–Which Way to The Beach?

Happy Workout Wednesday everyone! I have a million things to do today, but I wanted to share a quick arm workout with you guys first.

It alternates push ups and dumbbell workouts so it will keep you moving from your feet to the ground!

Links to exercise instructions are under the image.

arm workout

Push Ups

Alternating Bicep Curls

Front Raises

Hammer Curls

Mini Lifts (I couldn’t find a good demo, but basically like this but while holding dumbbells)

Tricep Extensions

Try to do 3 circuits!!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mamavation Monday


Schedules and normalcy. Two things that were lacking in our household this past week and will continue into this week.  My son had 4 snow days last week, went back to school on Friday and is now off for winter break.  My husband, who usually works a few hours outside of our home in the morning and works from home for the remainder of the day, had to work for the majority of the day outside of the house also due to the snow! I know I live in New England and should be used to snow, but this storm really sent the whole state through a loop. It was epic.

I didn’t get to do any real grocery shopping for almost 2 weeks and my eating habits suffered.  I’m back on track this week and have some pretty great healthy meals planned. 

Luckily, I am feeling more motivated than ever these days because we have finally booked a honeymoon! We got married almost 4 and half years ago and we haven’t been on a kid-free vacation since then.  We went to Arizona and Las Vegas when we first started dating and now we will be heading back to Vegas for a few days in April! I’m a little anxious about leaving the kids, but I am also really excited about spending some QT with my honey.

Have a great week!

This post is sponsored Dole and Mamavation – a community dedicated to obesity prevention & weight loss for women and I’m writing this to be entered into a giveaway

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Great Things Are Happening at Macy’s!

A while ago I wrote about the Rwanda Path to Peace products that are available at Macy’s to provide jobs and sustainable income for artists in Rwanda.

Today, I want to tell you about a couple more great things that are happening at Macy’s!

First up is their Heart of Haiti products.  Much like the Rwanda Path to Peace Products, Heart of Haiti provides some of the first sustainable work since the January 2010 earthquake. 


Artisans receive half the wholesale price for each item in the collection, a steady income that allows them to repair homes, pay school fees and feed and clothe their children. In communities lacking secure, sanitary conditions and funding to support economic relief, it means better access to healthcare and nutrition, plus improved education.



These tea leaf nesting trays from the collection are absolutely gorgeous! They are sturdy and the colors are vibrant.  I gave a set to my mother and she is going to hang them up on the wall, where they will add a great splash of color to the room.  They would also be great on top of your dresser to hold jewelry or perfume.

Check out the whole collection for more great artisan pieces.

Next, I wanted to tell you about Macy’s Culinary Council, an exclusive council of expert chefs from across the US.  The chefs have restaurants at select Macy’s locations, share tips & recipes on the Macy’s website and you could even meet one of them when they are visiting a store near you!



On Valentine’s Day, I tried out chef Marcus Samuelsson’s recipe for a Fresh Citrus Wine Cooler.  It was pretty easy to make and amazingly delicious.  Check out the recipe at the bottom of this post.


The hardest part was squeezing all the fruit, I had to squeeze the juice from 2 oranges, 2 lemons and 2 limes into a pan.  It was too bad that my husband was in the shower, or else I would have made him do it!


I squeezed all the fruit facing up so that the seeds wouldn’t fall into the pan.  One of the lemons, however, had about 20 seeds in it and there was no stopping them!


The recipe called for a dry white wine, but I chose to use Sauvignon Blanc.  One, because it is my favorite white wine and two, I’ve always thought it pairs really well with the citrus. 


Another thing I did differently was straining the mixture after it had cooled.  I love ginger, but I didn’t want any chunks of it in my drink! Also, I wanted to eliminate any seeds that may have slipped in.


This was definitely a hit and I can’t wait to sip on this in the summertime, maybe floating around on the boat!


wine cooler

macys 027


Disclaimer: Everywhere provided me with product from Macy's Heart of Haiti. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Be #RedCarpetReady With Wholly Guacamole® and Daily’s Cocktails® - Giveaway

upsAs the first snowflakes started to come down from blizzard Nemo, my awesome UPS driver arrived with a package of goodies from Wholly Guacamole and Daily’s Cocktails.

It couldn’t have been better timing, I had a big batch of turkey chili in the crock pot and what goes better with that than delicious salsa, guacamole and frozen drinks?

wholly and dailys
I rolled out the red carpet for the food and drinks and grabbed the Oscar nominated “ParaNorman” for us to watch.


WG_DoubleDip_logoI started out with a bowl of chili topped with the homestyle guacamole. I was really surprised by how fresh it was! I normally make my own guacamole and tend to steer clear of pre-packaged, but this tasted homemade! It was my favorite out of the three I tried. (homestyle, original & spicy.)  All of their products that I tried tastedWHOLLY_SALSA_022812 really fresh.  I also tried 3 of their salsas, classic medium, red pepper mango & guacamole with spicy pico.  The classic was a really great tasting salsa, but my favorite was the red pepper mango.  It was the perfect blend of sweet and spicy.

Some of my favorite things about their products were that they were all natural, had no preservatives and no GMOs and also, the guacamole comes in 2 packets so you can enjoy one when you buy it and freeze the 2nd one for up to 3 months!

DailysCocktails-LogoI was able to find the Daily’s Cocktail frozen pouches in a variety of flavors at my local liquor store.  I picked the peach daiquiri and strawberry daiquiri to try out.  I admit, I was a little skeptical of these.  I had tried a similar product from a different company before and they were overly sweet and had a weird consistency.  I’m happy to say these were different.  You just have to pop them in the freezer for ahead of time (at least 8 hours) and then tear them open and pour them in a glass. Bam! – perfectly mixed frozen cocktail.  The strawberry was my favorite. Not too sweet and it had sort of a shaved ice consistency which was perfect.  The peach was a little sweeter than the strawberry but still good. I really want to try the frozen lemonade and pomegranate acai margarita flavors they have. Hopefully I can find them soon!

As for ParaNorman – it had great animation and an interesting story line but it was incredibly slow-paced! Oh well, at least we had a great feast!

Please follow Wholly Guacamole on facebook and twitter @eatWholly & Daily’s Cocktails on facebook and twitter @dailyscocktails and join them for a Hollywood-inspired twitter party during the Oscars on February 24th using hashtags #Oscars and #RedCarpertReady

….And you can enter to win a Wholly Guacamole & Daily’s Cocktails prize pack that includes a Walmart gift card below!
2013-02-08 09.19.33 (1)
 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received products for free in order to facilitate this review and giveaway. As always, all opinions are my own.

Workout Wednesday–Cardio Countdown

Happy Workout Wednesday everyone! Here is a quick cardio and lower body workout.  You can either do all sets of the same exercise and then move onto the next or you can do 10 of each, 9 of each, etc.

Make sure you do the reps for each side with the mountain climbers!!

Links to instructional videos are under the graphic.



Mountain Climbers

Jump Squats

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Family Time with The Harlem Globetrotters #GlobieFamily


The Harlem Globetrotters love seeing families laugh together during their games, and would love to see your family when we come to a city near you. If you're looking for an awesome event the whole family will enjoy, get your tickets to the Harlem Globetrotters "You Write the Rules" tour. Your family's smiles will start before you even get to the game because this year, your family can vote at, and decide rules for the game like two balls in play at the same time that could affect the final outcome. After the game, Globetrotters will stay on court to sign autographs and take photographs with your kids. The only thing better than finding an event the whole family will enjoy, is getting a great deal on it. Save $7 per ticket* by using the promo code "TOGETHER". Get ready to experience a show your family will remember for a lifetime! *Discount available on select ticket levels

I can still remember the first time I ever saw the Harlem Globetrotters.  I was in elementary school and they came and put on a show in our tiny little gymnasium.  We all sat there and watched in wonder and roared with laughter. 

One of my favorite ways to spend quality time together with my family is when we can experience things together.  That is when the laughter, good times and fond memories are made. It could be something as simple as playing together at home or going out to an event like a Harlem Globetrotters game, where the players seem larger than life and almost magical to a child.

Disclosure: I am a part of the Harlem Globetrotters affiliate program & will receive tickets to a show in exchange for this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mamavation Monday–NEMO.



There is never a dull moment around here.

The week started off good, I got to the gym on Monday & Tuesday to do some running to prep for my road race on Saturday.  Then, around Wednesday I started feeling a cold coming on. The 4-year-old had just gotten over his, so naturally the baby, my husband & myself now had it.  I was also having some serious pain in my wrist and had pretty much lost all range of motion.  So, I headed off to the doctors who said it looked like I had a ganglion cyst on my wrist but it seemed too hard, like a bone to be a cyst. So, I was sent to get x-rays.

I got a call back later that night that everything looked fine. So, I turned to google where I learned that ganglion cysts can become hard and feel like a bone. I also learned that if you hit the cyst with a big book, it goes away. So, I had my husband hit me with a big book and voila! All better!

We also learned about a “historic storm” that was heading to our area on Friday. I don’t know why, I doubted the enormity of the storm.  It snowed all day and all night on Friday and on Saturday morning we woke up to over 3 feet of snow.  My race was postponed and I spent the weekend shoveling.  Yesterday I even shoveled our roof. I also walked around the neighborhood on Saturday and Sunday.  My whole body is sore, but I ended up losing 1.8 pounds this week! That’s 4.2 pounds in the past 2 weeks! Woohoo!

So, I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing (I will obviously have to replace snow shoveling with something else!) and keep that scale moving down.

2013-02-09 08.39.39

That is my car parked in the driveway!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Enter KaBOOM!'s Playground Love Contest

One of my favorite things about our neighborhood is this great park we have within walking distance. It has a playground, a kiddie pool, a fishing spot, scenic walking paths and more! We are truly blessed to have such an awesome, free resource in our community and it is easy to overlook the fact that many people do not have a place like ours. 


KaBOOM! is a national non-profit that is working towards building a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America. KaBOOM!, exists to solve a problem: The Play Deficit.

The Play Deficit is an important problem, and it is imperative that we solve it to ensure our children have long, healthy, and happy lives. The decline of play is closely linked to:

  • Childhood obesity
  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity, anxiety disorders and depression
  • Violence and other behavioral problems
  • Stunted social, cognitive, and creative development
  • Lack of green spaces in cities and suburbs
  • Fragmented communities
  • Failing schools

KaBOOM! is currently holding a #ilovemyplayground photo contest on their facebook page.  You can share a photo of your favorite playground and a story about your love for it for a chance to win great prizes!

Please head over to facebook & enter today! And don’t forget to get out & play!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

How to Prepare for a Winter Storm in Connecticut

As you’re reading this, your facebook timeline is probably quickly filling up with weather maps, snow memes, and friends complaining and making predictions about the approaching storm.  But before the “snowpocalypse” or “snowmageddon” you’re going to want to have a few things prepared.


First off, if you are a lady, you will want to dress in your best cold-weather shopping clothes. (Uggs, a North Face & tapered sweatpants, preferably with a school logo.) If there is no snow on the ground yet, you could opt for the adidas sandal/sock look for footwear and if you are planning on heading to Walmart you could go with a printed flannel pajama bottom instead of the sweatpants.





After you’re dressed, throw your hair into a messy bun and head out to the stores. You’re going to want to hit up the grocery store for all the essentials. Bread, milk, eggs, water & batteries.  If you already have these things on hand at home, just go buy some more.





Then, you’re going to want to buy some booze.  Whatever you want. Go nuts.





When you return home, place all of your implements of snow removal near the front door, (shovel, salt, ice scraper) and place your windshield wipers in the proper position:


Next, make something yummy in the crockpot and share the picture with your friends so they can marvel at your culinary efforts and see how prepared you are for the storm.


Now you can sit back and relax and wait for those first flakes to fall, but don’t forget to do this as soon as you see snow:


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Workout Wednesday–Butt Pyramid

Okay, okay, so this workout will work more than your butt – but I couldn’t resist using the name “Butt Pyramid.”

For the lunges, step ups & hip extensions you can alternate each side or you can do one set all on one side and switch to the opposite side on the next set. (i.e. do 40 left side lunges then do 40 right side lunges for the next lunge set.)

Links to the exercises are under the graphic, enjoy!




Step Ups

Hip Extensions


Monday, February 4, 2013

Mamavation Monday


I can’t believe it’s February already! Time seems to fly by once you have kids. In fact, I received a kindergarten registration packet in the mail for my oldest son today. Kindergarten! Ah!

Anyways, last week I decided I would only weigh myself one day a week instead of my normal – every time I see the scale – weigh in. It was tough, but I managed to get through the whole week and weighed in this morning. I was down 2.4 lbs! Well worth the wait.

I did do a couple things differently this week. I think I was more motivated knowing that I was giving myself a weekly weigh-in. I had breakfast every morning BEFORE I brought my son to school.  It had been easier for me to get him ready and bring him in and then eat when I got home.  But, I would be so hungry by the time I got home I would just shove whatever was in my reach into my mouth.  I also drank plenty of water and avoided juice.

Last Monday night, I was going to head to the gym for a run on the treadmill but the roads were too icy so I popped in a pilates dvd I had received in the mail earlier that day.  I wasn’t sure what to expect because I had never done pilates before, but, I loved it! In fact, I did the workout almost every single day!

This week I hope to continue with the pilates and also get some running in.  I have a 4 mile road race this weekend that I’m a bit nervous about!

This post is sponsored by Jessica – the Healthy Hip Chick and Mamavation – a community dedicated to obesity prevention & weight loss for women and I’m writing this to be entered into a giveaway

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