Category Archives: Reviews

Could I Become a Yogi?

Happy weekend! I cannot tell you how happy I am that the weekend is finally here. I had a very stressful week and found myself basically passing out at 9:30 p.m. both Wednesday and Thursday nights. I was completely drained and needed to rest.

And after all my big talk about sticking to my marathon training plan “to the T” this time around, I failed big time as the week progressed. I didn’t run five miles on Thursday night or Friday morning. I had to take Mr. Murph to the vet Thursday night (he’s okay), and then was way t0o tired to get my lazy butt out of bed on Friday morning.

So now it’s Saturday, and I just finished my long run (saw Ali in the park running too), and typically Sunday would be a lovely rest day. Not for me – I have to squeeze in four miles at some point tomorrow. Darn it! Oh well, I’ll just suck it up.

This week was actually a cut-back week in training. So I only had an 8-mile run on the schedule for a long run. I headed out to Central Park around 11:00 a.m. with some light snow falling for a full loop. I went out with a few co-workers for drinks on Friday night, and after about four beers, I wasn’t feeling all that fast and furious this morning. But I knew that I would probably feel decent by the end.

I ran my loop and was actually kind of surprised by my splits:

I ran 8.8 miles in 1:16:20 and was averaging a pretty decent pace. I definitely think the 7:02 pace is totally wrong, but the 8:11 might be right, and that’s pretty good for mile 6 into a long run. Dare I say that I MIGHT be getting back in shape finally?!!

I stopped on my way home at the post office to pick up a pretty exciting little package:

Yes, I am officially addicted to nuun. I will finally admit it. I tried it for the first time before the 2011 Mohawk Hudson River Marathon, and while I can’t say that it was the only reason I was able to finish, I do think it played a part. So as I creep along into week four of my spring training, I was getting nervous to see my nuun tubes disappearing. Drastic action needed to be taken. And now that it is here again, I feel much better.

Ok – so what is it right? I’m sure a lot of other runners out there know about nuun and this is nothing new, but for others here’s the gist:

“Nuun’s special formulation of electrolytes helps increase the amount of water that’s absorbed into the blood stream. That means more of the water you drink is actually used to hydrate you instead of being eliminated because the electrolyte balance wasn’t right. Nuun is not energy. We designed Nuun just for hydration. “

That is the very basic idea from the nuun website – which you should check out if you want more info.

And no, nuun hasn’t asked me to blog about their product or anything like that. I simply really like these little tablets.

Giving Yoga a Shot
I recently got a LivingSocial deal for New York Yoga, which has a location right near our apartment, so I decided today was as good a day as any to go check out their Vinyasa Basics class.

And away I went…

I hate being the newbie to a gym or class and having no clue where to go or what to do. But everyone was very nice and pointed me in the right direction. I found the locker room, put my stuff away, found the room and unrolled my mat. Then a lady next to me said that I should pick up two blocks, a blanket, and a rope thing. Thanks random lady for being so nice to the clearly clueless new chic. Check, check, and check – I was ready to get my yoga on.

The instructor was really great. He was very calming and took things really slow for us. There were only a few poses here and there where my legs or arms would start to shake a bit. But otherwise, I felt like I was pretty in control for it being really only my second classes ever – and the first was YEARS ago. There were a lot of people, but we managed to all find a place.

I REALLY enjoyed the class. Especially after my run in the morning, I could feel my legs and muscles just completely stretching out and breathing. I think it will be good for me to add one or two yoga classes a week to my training to keep my muscles loose.

So, it looks like maybe, just maybe, I could be converted into a Yogi (is that even a term, the right term?).

What about you – do you take yoga? What kinds? Who does the hot yoga?

As part of my deal, I have access to the yoga place on 86th and Lex that has hot yoga – but that is totally intimidating me. Should I give it a shot?

Mid-Week: The Good, The Bad, The Sweets

Hello Wednesday. I wish you were Friday. So far, this week has been one of those really never-ending weeks. I’m actually glad I’m back in training mode because it’s keeping me sane.

The Bad
Besides having some residual head cold symptoms lingering, it just seems like every day there is another new issue to contend with or another frustration. My motto this week has kind of been two steps forward and eight steps back. And for a control freak like me, that is tough to handle.

The Good: Training on Track
But, I’m trying to focus on the positives. One being that I ran on Monday and Tuesday. Monday I logged 3.5 miles at the gym and Tuesday, I got my butt out of bed in the morning for a brisk 5-mile run. So far, I am on track for my mileage this week.

The Good: Delicious Dinner
Also on Monday, I made a delicious dinner after my run. I baked some tilapia, topped it with butter and lemon, and then sprinkled with dill, cilantro and garlic powder.

Our side dish was a vegetable medley. My colleague brought in some fresh kale from his garden, so that’s what inspired the dish. Along with kale, I added zucchini, potatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, and a few grape tomatoes. It was very filling and delicious. 

The Good: Balade
Ok – so another positive was getting together with a friend last night for dinner and finding a new hidden gem. My friend Katie and I love exploring new ethnic, eclectic cuisines. We used to have a monthly date where we would try new and different restaurants. I think we kind of forgot about that tradition when we joined our book club.

But last night took us back to exploration. We ended up around Union Square and then walked a little south and east. We would up at: Balade – a Lebanese pitza and grill.

The waiter was super nice and helped us with our pronunciation and meal selection. We chose to share a bunch of small plates and it was the perfect amount of food.  We started with some hummus that had a light touch of lemon and was really good.

Then we had the Sambousik: “decadent pastry pockets filled with seasoned ground beef and toasted pine nuts.”  Along with the Grilled Halloumi Cheese: “grilled, sizzling hot cypriot cheese slices served with tomatoes and cucumber.” 

And last we had the Fatayir with Spinach and Feta (my favorite): “mini-pies stuffed with chopped spinach and feta cheese.”  

Unfortunately, I completely forgot to take photos. It’s taking a little time to get back into the swing of things, but I’m working on it.

I guess, upon reflection, although my week has been kind of tough, it’s also had some high points. It’s all about balancing the good with the bad. I’m hoping that my little head cold will work its way out of my system today when I sweat it out at the gym and then eat a healthy dinner.

The Sweets: Sugar, Sugar
I guess I might as well also admit another bad point of my week have been my intense sugar cravings. I don’t know why they are so out of control, but with Valentine’s day candy and cadbury eggs showing up, I’ve found myself veering off my course and making unplanned stops at CVS and 7-Eleven to stock-up on totally unnecessary and unhealthy sweets. It’s my weak spot and I’m totally failing.

My new plan is to allow myself just a hint of the sugar I am craving tonight. I bought those ever-so-delicious-and-addicting sweettart hearts, and I am only allowing myself to eat five mini hearts tonight after a healthy dinner. I will give moderation a shot, and if that fails, I might have to just throw them out.

What about you (if anyone is reading) – how do you squelch temptations? Can you have them in the house or do you have to get rid of them? Can you practice moderation?

 

 

 

 

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Oh What a Productive Sunday

Happy Sunday all! I wish the weekend wasn’t over already. It really flew by. Hubby and I both got our long runs in yesterday, I got a hair cut, and then we went to dinner and a movie.

We tried out a new place about a block away from our house called Felice 83. It’s a new wine bar located in a very tiny space. I felt kind of cramped right away when we sat down. I hate feeling like I can’t really have a conversation with my husband when we’re at a restaurant because the people next to us are basically eating with us.

I got over the tight quarters and checked out the menu. There were some pretty interesting selections on the menu, and I finally settled on the quinoa dish. Hubby and I started off by sharing a salad (overpriced at $15), and we each had a glass of Cabernet. The negative was that, for a wine bar, our glasses of wine were very small. And at $8 and $15 a glass, we were expecting a decent-sized goblet. Not so.

The salad was very good, and my quinoa was delicious. I tried some of Hubby’s dish and it was good too. Overall, I’ll say the place is decent. It offers organic and local selections, so I guess I can see why the prices may be a bit more. However, I think we will be trying some other local places before we go back to this one again.

After dinner, we went to see Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

(Source)

I was a little hesitant about this movie because I knew it would be tough subject. But it wasn’t focused solely on 9/11 – it was really more of a close look at a family who lost a father/husband in one of the buildings. The boy in the movie was so good. He was pretty amazing. It was a very emotional and heart-wrenching movie, and I probably cried for most of it. But I certainly wasn’t the only one – I heard people all around me sniffling too. It was a good movie, but you have to be prepared for it, and in the right frame of mind to watch it.

Sunday
So after our busy Saturday, one might think Sunday would be a relaxed day. Not so. Before I got down to business, I fueled up with a delicious french toast breakfast.

With both of us in training now, we have more stinking (literally) laundry than ever before. It was overflowing and I knew it was going to be a big project. Four loads of laundry (up and down five flights of stairs about 20 times), and it was all finally gone.  So now we can start our second week of training off with clean clothes and an empty laundry basket.

The rest of my Sunday was filled with cleaning, running errands, and then making a delicious veggie lasagna.

Here is the recipe:

Vegetable Lasagna (6 servings)

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/2 chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 3/4 of a bottle of tomato basil pasta sauce
  • 1 (15 oz.) carton of part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 6 hot cooked lasagna noodles (halved)
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I used skim)

Pre-heat the over to 374 degrees. Cook the noodles and then saute the mushrooms through the red onion for 5 minutes. Then add the sauce and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Then spray an 8-inch square baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Line the bottom with 1/2 cup of the tomato mixture, then lay 4 noodles on top. On top of the noodles place 1/2 of the ricotta cheese and then 1 cup of the tomato mixture on top of it. Repeat the layers and end with noodles. Then put the last remaining tomato mixture in a thin layer over the noodles and sprinkle it with mozzarella cheese.

Then bake it covered for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake it for another 20 minutes. Then take it out and let it cool for about 10 minutes.

This is the second time I made this lasagna and it has come out really well both time. And I now have lunch for about four days this week. I love leftovers!

Okay – time to watch the rest of the SAG Awards and head to bed. Week two of training starts tomorrow!

How was your weekend? Anyone training for a spring marathon too?! What races?

Restaurant Review: V-Note (Vegan)

I remember that about a year ago I was very excited to try the new Blossom Restaurant that had opened up on the UES. But my plans kept changing and I kept pushing things back, so that finally when I had a day figured out, the restaurant was CLOSED!! Sadness. I still plan to make it to one of the other Blossom sites in NYC, but imagine my excitement when I found out that another vegan restaurant was opening on the UES. V-Note!

And as fate would have, this new restaurant is owned by the same owners of Blossom. Who knows what happened to the one on the UES and why it left so quickly, all I care about is that they brought in a new place!

And then a few months back, I happened to see a Groupon for V-Note and I pretty much HAD to buy it. Last weekend I was finally able to use the Groupon when I went with a few friends to V-Note for the first time. I made a reservation the day before – yes, they do accept them. And we arrived at 7 p.m.

We were seated pretty much right at the front in a nice little booth spot, but I wish I had explored the location a little more. The three of us ordered the Roasted Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Gnocchi for an appetizer, along with a bottle of the Pizzolato Cabernet, while we waited for our fourth.

She arrived just as our appetizer and wine arrive and we all dug in. The appetizer was delicious, as was the wine. I forgot to snap a photo of our app. We were all very excited for the next course.

For my main meal, I ordered the Chile Relleno – a baked poblano pepper stuffed with vegetable ratatouille and cheese, spinach citrus rice, tomato coconut cream, and pineapple salsa. It was seriously AMAZING!! I was thrilled with my choice and think if (and when) I go back again, I may order it again!

Everyone else also enjoyed their meals – I believe they ordered the Mushroom Walnut Ravioli, Medallione Au Poivre, and I can’t recall the last one. But I had a taste of each one and they were all good! Here is mine: 

As we were eating our dinner, we saw a couple order a delicious looking dessert and we all decided we had to have it.

Mmmm Dark Chocolate Fondue – very nice!! The dipping choices were mainly fruit. Surprisingly, I really like the pineapple with the dark chocolate, but not the melon. Overall they were ALL yummy!

All in all, this restaurant was delicious. The service was a little bit slow, but we weren’t in a rush, so it didn’t really matter. The atmosphere is also posh and more upscale than I expected. I’ve been to a few vegan restaurants, so I was expecting a more casual mish-mosh of design. I would completely recommend this restaurant to vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters. It was that good! Enjoy!!

Book Review (Winter Garden) & Movie Review

Lately, it seems like I am just tearing through books. I tend to go through spurts like this every now and then. Typically, I’m not a very fast reader. Apparently finishing The Hunger Games so quickly, made me “hungry” for more reading ASAP. Hence this post will be filled with a book review and movie review.

Alas, no food or running will really be highlighted. I’m in a bit of slump there. I haven’t run at ALL since last Saturday’s 5k race.  I’m hoping that I’ll get a chance to do a longish run in Utica this weekend and find my running mojo.

So anyway – here goes my book review:

Winter Garden

By: Kristin Hannah

I approached reading this book in a tentative manner. First of all, I wasn’t too excited that I was going to be reading about winter at the very end of summer. I am ready for some fall weather, but didn’t want to jump right into winter.

Despite my trepidation, almost as soon I started reading Winter Garden, I was hooked. The initial setting is an apple orchard in western Washington state and Meredith is the narrator. I guess I connected immediately when she told the reader she had to start off her day with a run (okay, so morning really isn’t my favorite time to run, but I liked that the narrator was a runner in general).  From there, the story introduces us to her family: husband, Jeff; father, Evan; mother Anya; sister, Nina; and her two daughters. We begin to follow Meredith through life on the orchard and immediately notice a strange relationship with her mother.

Soon a tragedy occurs in the family, that bring Nina back home and forces Nina, Meredith and Anya (mother) to interact. The word “strained” does not do justice to how difficult it is for Nina and Meredith to connect with their mother. From there, we begin to hear a story within a story that helps to explain why Anya is the way she is. We are taken back to Russia during WWII and begin to understand the mystery that lies behind this cold, quiet woman.

At first I wasn’t sure about the story within the story and how it started off. It was difficult to grasp where it was going, who it was about and what the point was the first few times it was interjected. But slowly the “mystery” of the fable begins to unfold and the reader begins to understand the implication and what we need to gather from the story to proceed with the exterior family story.

Mid-way through this book I was completely invested. I really enjoyed it and wanted to learn more about this family, the mother’s secret, and what happened in Russia. The glimpse into Russian life at that time was especially interesting and engaging.

If you are interested in reading this book, please realize it might take some time to get into the story and connect with the characters, but it will happen. I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it.

——

And now on to a movie review….

Just Go With It

This netflix movie had been sitting next to our t.v. for over a month. Although we’ve been very busy, I also just wasn’t that excited to watch this movie. I’m not even sure why I added it to our list. It stars Jennifer Anniston, Adam Sandler and Brooklyn Decker. I knew this was going to be cheesy and potentially unbearable before we even started it.

The beginning part of the movie shows Adam Sandler with a GIANT fake nose and we see how/why he becomes so disillusioned with women and relationships. Then  it fast forwards to him being a plastic surgeon and Jennifer Anniston being his assistant.

Let me pause to say that I think Jennifer has most definitely had some facial work done and I don’t like it one bit! No lines, no wrinkles – it’s starting to look bad. She’s moving in the direction of her friend, Courtney Cox, and that is NOT a compliment. I hope she stops. I still like her.

Anyway, back to the movie. It was NOT nearly as intolerable as I thought it would be. I admit that I have a soft spot for both Jennifer and Adam, even though they’ve both made some terrible movies in the past. But for some reason, they seemed to have a decent chemistry in this movie. I believed that they probably did really joke around a lot when the cameras turned off.

As for Brooklyn Decker – a superb actress she is not. But I didn’t hate her. And then there was a totally unexpected cameo from Nicole Kidman and Dave Matthews. Totally random and appreciated. I miss Nicole.

Getting back on track. I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. I didn’t hate it and actually found myself laughing quite a bit. The ending is predictable, but I got past it and was able to enjoy the movie overall. Not a total hit, but not a complete waste of time either.

Have you seen any good movies lately? Give me your suggestions! Next on my list are Limitless and Bridesmaids (no, I can’t believe I haven’t seen it!!). I also just bought the book One Day, so that I can eventually watch the movie with Anne Hathaway.

Book Club, Race for Hope and a Baby Shower

Busy – that is the word to best describe my past week. Coming back from a long weekend (Labor Day) is always tough because it means squeezing a ton of work into four days.

But as busy as things were, I had to take time out to go to book club on Thursday night. We meet monthly and are each responsible for selecting a book for our month. This past month, we read The Hunger Games and you can check out my review here. But the first book was soo good, that most of us read the second and third book as well. Every month, we also try to choose a restaurant that goes along with the theme of our book. This month we thought it would be kind of tough, but turns out that Korean BBQ was the perfect choice! We went to Yakiniku West in the East Village. And soon it was time to cook our meat and veggies, just like Katniss did in The Hunger Games – okay… well kind of.

It was a great choice. We split four entrees, a few appetizers and several pitchers of beer and it was still very affordable and delicious!

With Thursday over, it was time to head upstate again on Friday evening. We drove up to Albany and got there in time to watch my cousins play in the CBA vs. Albany football game. CBA crushed them. I headed home early and went to bed because I had a race the next morning!

On Saturday morning, I ran the Race for Hope in Slingerlands, NY with a few friends. I can’t say it was the most organized thing in the world. They had one person working the table where they were handing out the tags, so the race started about 15 minutes late. But regardless, we were off and running. The course was a little hilly and pretty suburban, but it flew by.

According to my Garmin, I finished the 5k in 23:52. Not my fastest, not my slowest. That’s fine, I’ll take it!

After the race, we “raced” home to shower and get ready for a friend’s baby shower. I didn’t have my camera with me, so I have no photos from the shower, but I’m hoping friends will send a few my way. We had a gorgeous day for the shower, which was outside, and it was a lot of fun. Lots of food, fun baby stuff, ginormous CUPCAKES, and a very pregnant friend who looked fabulous. Seriously, she is eight months pregnant and so very mobile and comfortable looking.

After the shower, I headed to Clifton Park to spend the evening at another friend’s new house. She moved in about a month ago and already it’s looking pretty good. Know what else looked good? The mounds of food we brought…

…and devoured. We had so many awesome snacks, that we didn’t even end up needing to make the actual dinner foods that were prepared. To be honest, sometimes I prefer that. I love appetizers and snacks.

The night was filled with lots of laughs, girl talk, wedding talk, baby talk, and almost anything you can think. We go off on some serious tangents when we get together.

On Sunday it was time to head back to NYC, but not before stopping at Lindsey’s Country Store for some freshly picked apples and apple cider. It’s such a cute little store and I love it because they spell my name right!

We bought some gala and honeycrisp apples. Is there anything better in the fall?

And lastly, I will leave you with what we came home to on Sunday night…

Such a teaser – as soon as you go over and try to smush his stomach he tries to attack you. He’s sneaky like that.

What are you most looking forward to as fall approaches? I am torn between fall clothes, delicious fall flavored coffees, foliage, our wedding anniversary and apples. If you couldn’t tell – fall is my favorite season!

Kennebunkport, Maine Vacation Recap

I can’t believe it’s already September. I feel like Hubby and I just got back from our Maine vacation, but in reality, we got back on August 22. We stayed in Kennebunkport, ME from August 18 – 22 in this adorable Bed and Breakfast called Bufflehead Cove. Our room was really cute and had a balcony, a Queen bed (ahh the luxury!), a full bathroom and a Jacuzzi tub. The B&B was situated right on the river and we got to enjoy our breakfast each morning on the front porch watching people kayak and paddleboard on by.


And let me just say that the breakfast each morning was AMAZING!! Seriously delicious, homemade and usually most ingredients were all-natural. I missed taking a picture of the first morning’s spread, but here are the other days:

Mmm yummy. I am getting hungry just thinking about our breakfasts there. But enough about the B&B food, we did get out and explore the area quite a bit. Our first day there, we arrived in the late afternoon, checked in and then headed into the town of Kennebunkport. Our B&B was just outside. We walked around the cute little town exploring and relaxing and then we headed to dinner at Arundel Wharf. It was a gorgeous night, right on the water, so it was just perfect. We enjoyed our meal on the deck and sipped on some white wine and beer. We called it an early night because we had plans to head to a few nearby towns the next day.

On Friday, we devoured our delicious breakfast, which was served everyday between 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. and hung out with our buddy Loqui the cat while we ate. He reminded me of our Murphy, only not quite as large and in charge.

After breakfast, we drove to the town of Ogunquit and took a nice long walk on the Marginal Way (a long walkway above and along the beach)


and then we drove to York and saw the Nubble Lighthouse.

After our long day excursion, we headed back to the B&B, showered and then had dinner in town at Bandaloop. It was a little bit of a different place, but totally delicious. On Saturday morning it was another busy day after breakfast. We took a schooner ride from Kennebunkport out for about two hours on the water and got to see the Bush estate (it is gigantic). The weather was amazing, sunny with a slight breeze, and our trip was fabulous.

After we got back from our boat ride, we headed to Cape Porpoise for a nice relaxing lunch on the dock outside the Chowder House. There was a pretty decent view of a nearby lighthouse from the Pier. And again, we had such a gorgeous day.

So after exploring Cape Porpoise, we headed to Goose Rocks Beach and chilled there for a little while. The water was a little bit colder than I like, but it was nice to spend some time walking around and hanging out.

After hitting up the beach, it was getting close to dinner so we showered back at the B&B and then headed back into Kennebunkport. We had reservations at Mabel’s, which is supposedly a Bush favorite. I don’t know what I was expecting, but a tiny little shack wasn’t what I envisioned. Mabel’s is completely unassuming and small. We made reservations for outdoor seats and we were almost sitting in the road!

But I completely loved the place. The food was delicious and reasonably priced. My only hang-up was having to drink my beer from a Patriot’s glass. But other than that, Mabel’s gets an A in my book. Here is my dinner from Mabel’s…

The next day (Sunday) was our last day in Maine. We decided to head to Portland for the day and stopped at Orchard Beach to visit one of Hubby’s friend’s along the way. After our morning get-together, we made it to Portland and explored a bit, had some lunch and hung out.

As the afternoon turned into evening, we drove to Kittery to have dinner with one of Hubby’s co-workers. And I got to watch Hubby learn how to properly eat a full lobster, with the bib and all. These instructions helped, as did his friend’s coaching.

Hubby did a pretty decent job. We finished off our night with some ice-cream and headed back to Bufflehead Cove for our final night of our mini vacation.

We thoroughly enjoyed our last breakfast on Monday before we loaded our stuff into the car and headed home.

So what was my overall Maine experience? It was fabulous! We had such a good time, explored some really beautiful areas, ate a ton of great seafood and managed to run into a bunch of people we knew. Seriously, Maine is some sort of hot spot. On top of the people that we actually planned to get together with, we also ran into a neighbor from Hubby’s parent’s neighborhood in upstate NY, another co-workers at Hubby’s company, and a girl I went to college with. It really felt like such a small world in Kennebunkport, ME. And I loved it!!