Tuesday, August 28, 2012


This is a post I’ve been waiting years to write.

Most people would rather die than announce their weight for anyone to see. Do you see that number? It may just be 2 measly tenths under 150 but I don’t care. My weight is in the 140’s for the first time in my adult life. EVER. I couldn’t even tell you when I last weighed this much (or little!) because I don’t even remember how much I weighed in high school but it sure as heck was higher than this. By a lot. I know because I remember what weight I lied and said I was on my first driver’s license. No more lies here.
If you’re like me and have struggled with weight all your life, you know there’s no quick fix. It’s been said a million times before that you need to make a lifestyle change if you want to achieve your goal. I am now down 50.2 lbs from my all time high. It was not easy. In fact, for the last 25 months (that’s over 2 years, folks), I have only lost 15 lbs. And that was me gaining and losing the same 5 lbs over and over. Extremely frustrating. Counting calories, 6 days a week of exercise. That’s what it took for me. If you’re struggling too, that’s what it may take. I’m warning you now.

Here’s what worked for me (and again, none of this is new information and it's what worked for ME, you need to find the right balance of what works for you)
  1.     I chug water like it’s my job. In fact, all day long at my job, I’m drinking water. Yes, I go to the bathroom more than the average person. You get used to it. Your body will love you for all the water you’re drinking. It can help curb your appetite until that next meal or snack and it helps ensure that you’re not drinking your calories. I hear you people saying diet soda is calorie free, and I’m ignoring you.

2)      You have GOT to move. Walking? Probably isn’t enough of a calorie burn if you want to lose a significant amount. It might be in the beginning, especially if you were pretty inactive before. But over time, your body becomes far too accustomed to workouts. If walking is your thing, be sure you’re pumping your arms and adding time/distance to the routine. In this entire journey when my workouts got stale and I plateaued, I switched it up. I plateaued a BUNCH. For whole years even. Somewhere in there I was dubbed Queen of Plateaus. You know how when I started running I could only go for 45 seconds at a time and now I run for over an hour? There’s a reason. Also, please add in some weight bearing exercise days too. I didn’t buy into this before and thought cardio was the only way to go. It’s not. Pick something you'll stick with. I've also taken zumba classes for the last 5 years, various dance classes, countless workouts through TV and DVD, etc and so on. If you'd rather bike or swim or hike. Do that! I do not love running. I love finishing my run and I love what running has done for me. There's a difference. I would thank my lucky stars if one day I could be one of those people who could think of nothing more fun than lacing up and hitting the pavement. So far, that's not me. But I do it anyway.

3)      Getting the right amount and right kinds of calories for your body. PLEASE use one of those handy online calculators to figure out your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). This will give you a better idea of how many calories you should be consuming each day. Starvation is not the goal here. You’ve got to fuel up for that burn (see #2). It took me a long time to learn this. And not all calories are equal. That took me a long time to learn too. Protein is not the enemy I used to think it was. It’s crazy important! Track your food. This is probably the biggest pain and I don’t do it anymore but after one of my first plateaus, I tracked everything and really learned what a proper portion size was. Portion control is your friend. I still use a measuring cup for cereal, rice, etc. I want to make sure I'm not eating more than my fair share. Do I still let myself have a juicy burger at a restaurant? You bet. Do I still get cravings for calorically dense sweets? All the time. It's a choice. Everything in moderation.

That's it! Easier said than done, right? Another important factor is to try not to get discouraged. If you have a bad weigh-in, there is no beating yourself up about it. If you had to skip a workout, get back at it tomorrow. You cannot go into this with a defeatist attitude or you'll never make it to the other side. There were plenty of times early on when I forgot to stay positive. You don't gain anything from negativity, except maybe more weight.

Some day you won't have to wear the biggest size available in the regular stores. And you won't be shoved on kitchen duty during your sorority's rush events with the other chubby girls. You won't have to lie on your driver's license out of shame. You won't be called 'large' to your face. 

Someone will refer to you as skinny and you'll turn around thinking they're talking to someone else. You will hold back tears of happiness in a dressing room when you try on your first single-digit size piece of clothing. You won't hold them back when you reach your goal. That's okay. You deserve those happy tears. You worked hard for them.

Monday, August 27, 2012



Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected - A Memoir by Kelle Hampton was recommended to me by my sister. I don’t read Hampton’s blog so I was unfamiliar with the story except for what my sister had told me.

Good Read’s Synopsis: "Love me. Love me. I'm not what you expected, but oh, please love me. "
That was the most defining moment of my life. That was the beginning of my story.

From the outside looking in, Kelle Hampton had the perfect life: a beautiful two-year-old daughter, a loving husband, a thriving photography career, and great friends. When she learned she was pregnant with her second child, she and her husband, Brett, were ecstatic. Her pregnancy went smoothly and the ultrasounds showed a beautiful, healthy, high-kicking baby girl.

But when her new daughter was placed in her arms in the delivery room, Kelle knew instantly that something was wrong. Nella looked different than her two-year-old sister, Lainey, had at birth. As she watched friends and family celebrate with champagne toasts and endless photographs, a terrified Kelle was certain that Nella had Down syndrome--a fear her pediatrician soon confirmed. Yet gradually Kelle's fear and pain were vanquished by joy, as she embraced the realization that she had been chosen to experience an extraordinary and special gift.

With lyrical prose and gorgeous full-color photography, "Bloom" takes readers on a wondrous journey through Nella's first year of life--a gripping, hilarious, and intensely poignant trip of transformation in which a mother learns that perfection comes in all different shapes. It is a story about embracing life and really living it, of being fearless and accepting difference, of going beyond constricting definitions of beauty, and of the awesome power of perspective. As Kelle writes, "There is us. Our Family. We will embrace this beauty and make something of it. We will hold our precious gift and know that we are lucky."

What I Thought: I am not a mother so I can only imagine the gamut of emotions having a child with Down’s Syndrome would put me through. I thought Hampton’s story was poignant and honest. If faced with it, I hope I’d come out on the other side of an experience like this with the grace and growth she showed. The insight into DS was interesting as well as I am not versed on this topic. It was a conversationally-written, quick read and a thought-provoking departure from my normal read. The family photos of her cute kids were a nice addition that gave the story a beautiful face.

Rating: * * * 1/2

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Recipe Reblog

Two summery recipes for you this week!
Perfect Summer Panzanella: A quintessential summer side dish. Still plenty of time to enjoy those fresh from the garden veggies before summer wanes.  If you’re unfamiliar, panzanella is a combination of cubed bread, tomatoes, onion, cucumber and a vinegar/oil dressing. It’s light and refreshing and this was the first time I had ever made it. We thought it was quite tasty. However, the leftovers were pretty soggy. Best to eat this all in one sitting. Mixed up quick and easy. Give this a try!
Spicy Honey Glazed Chicken: This recipe comes from an old issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray. June 2007, to be exact. The back of the page has a side dish I made years ago but I had never mixed up this recipe on the flip side. This was a good summer recipe too. The chicken gets salted and peppered and grilled like normal, then the sauce is brushed on when finished. It was sweet with a hint of heat and you probably have all ingredients in your pantry. Grill it up tonight!
You guys. My feet are throbbing. I went to Zumba in the Parking Lot just before I typed this up. It was 2 hours of straight zumba on asphalt. I want to die. Or just be carried everywhere for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Autumn Beer 2012 Edition

It may only be August 21st but the fall beers are here! They excites John to no end as the fall variety are his favorite specialty brews. For me, it's a tie between summer and fall. But, having sampled a number of summers already, I'm ready to move on.

For your sipping pleasure..........

This Pumking from Southern Tier is the end all be all of pumpkin beer. It's their seasonal Imperial for fall. At $8.99 for the 1/6th keg bottle size (22 oz.), it had better be. But, oh my heavens. If you are a pumpkin lover, you need to splurge on this. The brewer says you should taste pumpkin, buttery crust, pie spices, vanilla and roasted pecans. This description is spot on! It packs a punch at 8.6% ABV (alcohol by volume). PLEASE try this. You'll never go back.


Maple Bock from Hinterland has been in stores for awhile even though it's their fall release. I spied this in my store at least a month ago and pined after it for just as long. Because there were so many summer beers to try, I passed it up on many occasions. But, last weekend, I handed over my $9.99 for 4 - 16 oz. bottles and poured a glass. Unfortunately, this did not live up to my hype. I so wanted a strong maple flavor to punch my taste buds without apology. Instead, I got a smoky, brown ale that was so so but nary a maple note to be found. This was the first from Hinterland I've tried. I would attempt others with caution and lowered expectations.


Much like the Maple Bock, this seasonal offering of Caramel Apple Spiced Ale from Blue Moon was quite intriguing. So intriguing, in fact, that we had already purchased that weekend's beer but bought the mixed 12 pack anyway because of the inclusion of this beer. It's only available in the Autumn Brewmaster's pack. Again, I was hoping to be inundated with caramel and apple and got only the slightest hint of it. So sad. Good thing there are only 3 bottles in the pack because it's not their best.

And that's all she wrote, folks. Sorry to end on a down note.

 Want to see more about fall beers?

 Here's what I posted last year. And more can be found here.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ultramarathon Man


For a little motivation as I continue through my half marathon training, I read Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All Night Runner by Dean Karnazes. This is the second book of his I’ve read but it’s the first one he wrote. This man is amazing! Ultramarathon Man chronicles how he came to be a runner, the heart and strength behind his races and perseverance, and what brought him to the ultra stage of the spot. Karnazes talks about the first time he ran the Western States 100, a 100 mile foot race through the mountains that he attempted to finish in 24 hours, his attempts at the Badwater Ultra (racing through the desert), and a chilly marathon in Antarctica. I found his story very interesting and really enjoy his writing as well. As he discussed some of the pain and strife he encounters on his runs, I was right there with him. It definitely solidified the fact that I do NOT aspire to be an ultra runner. However, I applaud all that he’s achieved.
A fast and captivating read, even for non-runners. But, give it a try especially if do lace up on a regular basis.
Rating: * * * ½

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Recipe Reblog

I’ve been trying to mix up my diet and incorporate a lot more protein, especially on days that I do strength training. I used to be afraid of the fat in protein but I got over that. You should too!

Overnight Oats: These are all the rage in the blog world but if you don’t read any cooking or health blogs, they might be new to you. There are lots of reincarnations of Overnight Oats and for my first foray into the subject I tried three different varieties and played around with the amounts a bit.
Day 1: (no pic, sorry): ½ cup rolled oats, ½ cup plain Greek yogurt, ½ cup skim milk. Mix it all up, put it in the fridge. In the morning, you can eat it cold but I threw it in the microwave for 20 seconds to take the chill off. First bite was…..tangy. If you’ve never had Greek yogurt before, you probably won’t like the plain version of this. I am a Greek yogurt lover and still decided to add some cinnamon and about a teaspoon of brown sugar. That helped a lot!
Day 2: Same ratios on the ingredients but this time I threw in a squirt of honey and a few blueberries and strawberries. I really liked the addition of fruit but today, the oats were kind of soupy.

Day 3: Overnight Oats in a Jar. This is probably the most popular version I come across online and I can see why. I went a little lighter on the milk today, only about 1/3 cup. Then, I used an empty peanut butter jar that was destined for the trash. The mixture takes on the PB flavor plus in the morning you can scrape up those delicious left behind traces of peanut buttery goodness. I also added some strawberries but no extra sweetener. Much better with less milk, and you can use any kind of nut butter (almond, cashew, etc.)
The downside to this breakfast is that buying the extra Greek yogurt costs more than the instant oatmeal I was eating 3 mornings a week (cold cereal on Tuesdays/Thursdays). But, it helped me add more protein and it shakes things up a bit. Plus, the instant oatmeal that John also eats will last longer if I’m not eating it.
Verdict: I’ll keep adding this into my diet when possible. I’m really looking forward to mixing in pumpkin this fall.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Put-In-Bay Day

If you didn't grow up or live near Lake Erie, you may have never heard of Put-In-Bay. A few miles from Ohio's beachy coast (there's a sentence you don't hear often), sits South Bass Island. Put-in-Bay has somewhat of a party reputation and I believe if you're staying overnight, you can find yourselves all sorts of trouble to rouse. Don't be assuaged though; it's also a family destination with lots of activities for all ages to enjoy. One recent Saturday, John and I hopped aboard the Miller Ferry with my dad and stepmom to take in the sights and visit a place none of us had been to in a good 10 years or so. You can also take the Jet Express but it costs twice as much. Miller Ferry leaves Port Clinton every half hour during peak season and costs $13/person. Save a buck with the coupon on their site! A quick 18 minute ride and you're on the island, ready to explore!

The main modes of transportation on the island are golf carts and bicycles. You can rent both at many locations by each dock. We rented a 4 person golf cart for the day (which I never photographed!) It wasn't cheap, about $80. They also have hourly rentals. The ferry will transport your vehicle for you but where's the fun in that? John was our driver for the day as I'm not licensed to operate a golf cart.

Our first stop was Heineman's Winery.....at just before 11:00 am. We skipped the Crystal Cave tour (world's largest geode) because we've all done it before but it's worth seeing if you never have. Instead, we did what any normal folks do at 11:00am at a winery. Drink wine! My dad is not a wine fan but he was pleased with his Diet Coke. We shared a bottle of Gewurtztraminer (sweet and crisp) and this fancy cheese plate. Yes, those are plastic cups for our wine.

Dixies and saltines!

 I would have preferred a tasting but when I asked the staff (not super helpful) what the tasting situation was they said $2.00 for a 5 oz. glass or you can buy a bottle. We ended up with the bottle thinking multiple varieties of tastings wasn't the best deal. As it happens, the raucous crowd at the next table shared their Island Chablis and a red I can't remember with us as well. When on the islands, beware that tipsy folks are oftentimes happy and will come visit your table! Don't be alarmed. They were nice, and entertaining.

Back in the cart we headed on down the road. You can't really get lost here as there are only a few main roads with a lot of side streets. PIB has some year-rounders but it's mostly vacation homes and rentals. Lake Erie in December is typically not somewhere you'd want to hang out.

Check out that sky

The pinnacle attraction (for height and popularity) is Perry's Monument. I'm sorry. Its full name is Perry's International Peace Memorial and Visitor Center. This 352 foot monument was built to honor those who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. We were lucky that recent renovations were completed ahead of schedule so we could take the elevator to the top. We got in line just in time and had about a 20 minute wait for our turn. No bathrooms inside (you've been warned). $3 admission charge as well but the views from the top are spectacular!

You CAN see Pelee Island but that's not it

Busy Marina - we also ate lunch down there

Back down on the ground and much to my father's pure joy, a cannon was about to be shot off in a reenactment.

Thar she blows!


There is a visitors' center with artifacts and a movie but we didn't stick around there long. We were HUNGRY. There are a number of eateries to choose from in the main marina area of the island. We selected The Upper Deck at the Boardwalk. They are known for their lobster bisque but I had a perch sandwich. Yum!

We walked around a bit and popped into a couple shops but ultimately landed at the Put-In-Bay Winery. I regret that I took nary a picture here! I'm sorry as the grounds were lovely. Check out the link though, you can see it there. This joint was classy. Real wine glasses and everything. And true tastings, but pricier than our first stop. We sipped outside and enjoyed the vino. We also tried their Celebration drink with was lemonade, pomegranate and a bunch of herbs topped off with their sparkling moscato. The ladies loved it, the gents not so much. We purchased a couple bottles and went on our merry way.

I should note that we had an absolutely gorgeous day weather-wise. Up until that day, we had been slogging through upper 90's and suffocating humidity. Today started out a bit shaky as we drove through some rain on our way to the ferry. The lake was pretty choppy on the boat ride, white peaks and all. But, once on the island, the sun came out, the temps hovered in the low 80's and the humidity was almost non-existent.

We drove around a bit more and after having been on the island for about 6 hours, we decided it was time to go back to the mainland. There are other attractions, Perry's Cave, Butterfly House, etc. but we skipped those. I can't say enough about how perfect our day was. The weather, the sights, spending good, quality time with family. This was a belated Father's Day/Birthday outing for my dad and I think we delivered.

Lake Erie - smooth as glass

If you haven't ever been, you really ought to check it out! I think it would be fun to go for a weekend some time. An island getaway in Ohio!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wednesday Things

Sometimes posts have a theme. Sometimes they don't. They're Mounds and Almond Joy like that. When I have ultra important things to share that don't fit together, what's a girl to do? Throw them in one post for your reading pleasure,that's what!

I had a spa day a couple weeks back and wanted to show you my new favorite color. This is Dim Sum Plum by OPI. I liked it so much I bought it the next day for touch ups and to add to my collection. Too often I purchase nail polish only to find an identical color at home. This was unlike anything I own so I was pleased with my choice. I think it'll look great in the fall too.

I opted for Cajun Shrimp on my toes but I'm only showing you the bottle. Ain't nobody wanna see a picture of my gangly toes. You're welcome.

And a brief garden update. Despite not watering for a week in July when we were on vacation, everything is growing great. I have already harvested 100 cherry tomatoes with plenty more still on the vine! I've also decided that the plant labeled green pepper is actually the red pepper and vice versa. Unfortunately, my red peppers have all died on the vine. Not sure what to do about this. I haven't been feeding them. Perhaps that would help.

Hope you're all having a great week! Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

American Heiress


I picked up The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin because I'm going through Downton Abbey withdrawal. I came late to that party and Netflix only has Season 1, which I've finished. Must find Season 2 somewhere before the third begins. I was longing for the over the topness of the Guilded Age and I found that here.

Good Reads' Synopsis: "Traveling abroad with her mother at the turn of the twentieth century to seek a titled husband, beautiful, vivacious Cora Cash, whose family mansion in Newport dwarfs the Vanderbilts’, suddenly finds herself Duchess of Wareham, married to Ivo, the most eligible bachelor in England. Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals. Money, Cora soon learns, cannot buy everything, as she must decide what is truly worth the price in her life and her marriage."

What I Thought: I found myself transported by Goodwin to the mansions of Newport, Rhode Island (which I've been to!) at the beginning of the story. While some of the characters were of course, lamentably money and title-grubbing, others evoked real empathy. Over time, I grew to care for Cora more and more and I liked her maid, Bertha, from the start. The servants are always most interesting. The story itself was somewhat predictable but that didn't bother me. The imagery is what really sells this one for me. If you're into the romanticism of that era, give this one a try! Relatively quick read for 400+ pages.

Rating: * * * 1/2

Monday, August 13, 2012

Exploration Dayton

Oh, hey, Monday! Nice of you to stop by and interrupt a perfectly good weekend. That's okay. I want to tell you about all the new, fun things we did this this weekend anyway. You will be so jealous that you're not as cool as Saturday and Sunday.

I'm on a new quest to explore the city and surrounding areas. I have lived in Dayton for more than 7 years now (can that be true?!) and yet John and I continually frequent the same restaurants, shops, etc. Time to branch out. Time to explore. Time to discover something that could become a new favorite. I had lots of new discoveries planned for this weekend so let's start at the very beginning. (A very good place to start)

For YEARS, we have been waiting for a good frozen yogurt shop to come to Dayton. I know. Life is tough. We have a couple froyo places but they do not live up to the caliber of shops that we used to go to when visiting family in Austin. The places we have offer limited flavors, mostly fruit, and are not self serve. Where is the fun in that? A new place opened up nearby and I thought, "Sigh. OK we'll try it. But, it won't be as good as we're hoping."

I. Was. Wrong. This is Soyo Yogurt. Not only is it self-serve, but they have AMAZING flavors. How amazing? Well, what about peanut butter, or cake batter? Does that do anything for you? Because that's what I had. John had Angel Food Cake and something else I can't remember. 45 cents an ounce so be careful. Those giant cups fill up fast! For you locals, it's in Centerville by the giant, new Kroger.

Peanut buttery goodness

 That was Friday night. I may have also coerced John into going to the Gap because it was 30% off everything. I may or may not have purchased yet another maxi dress. I was a good girl and passed up the tote bag I've been eyeing though. If I can find the right fabric, I can make it cheaper than buying it. We also bought a power tool (not at the Gap) but that's a story for another day......

Moving on - Saturday, Sadie needed a hair cut and thankfully, she was with a good groomer she's had before so it turned out cute, even though we prefer her hair long. We ran a few errands and made a sizable purchase at Lowe's (another story for another nother day) had good runs outside and were all cleaned up by noon. Productivity is the name of the game. Oh, rewind. Because we had to get Sadie to the groomer by 9:00, we treated ourselves to breakfast at Saxby's. I had the oatmeal. It was creamy and filling. John's breakfast sammie was tasty too. OK, now moving on.

This left time for lounging and a little house project. See above paragraph re: power tool. Then we cleaned up again and got ready for new adventure numero dos.

A friend that I've known since 6th (or 5th?) grade lives in Cincinnati and we've yet to meet up in all these years. We both laughed about how we see each other every Christmas in our hometown and say "we should meet up sometime" and then we never do. Time to right that wrong! Her husband is a musician and was playing at a local coffee shop in Dayton that we had never been to so we thought this was the perfect opportunity to get together, check out a new place and hear him play.

This is the counter of Ghostlight Coffee (on Wayne Ave. for the locals). Funnily enough, if I still lived in the very first apartment I had in Dayton, I would pass this on my way to work each morning. It definitely wasn't there in 2005 though.

They are known for their artisan sodas and pour over coffee. I'm still not sure what this is because I didn't order it (the coffee, I mean). To start, I had an orange hibiscus soda. I really wanted to try the Tangerine Lavender Honey soda but they were out. Guess I'll have to go back! John got a cream soda. Mine was really refreshing but his was out of this world! If you're thinking bottled cream soda, this is not that. This was super creamy and sweet. Actually, you can add cream to all of their sodas for a richer taste. We got our drinks while we were waiting for our dinner from this:


This is the Fressa Food Truck. I believe one of Dayton's ONLY food trucks. Just like we're slow on the froyo, we're also slow on the food truck front. Normally, Ghostlight Coffee closes at 7:00 pm but on Saturday nights in the summer, Fressa parks it until 10:00 pm and the coffee is brewed until then while customers can enjoy some live music. I ordered the Fressa Burger (juicy!) and John had the Fressa Dog with bacon jam. We split the Fressa chips and a fruit salad. For $17 we had quite a feast. Although they did lose our original order. But when remedied, we had a delightful dinner.

Then, it was time for the show!

Here is Matt. Also known onstage as WolfCryer. He plays the banjo and harmonica and it was awesome! All original music and he has a great voice too. The tunes filled the rather intimate space nicely. He performs with his friend Eric, who plays guitar. They played for 2 hours. During this time I enjoyed a chai latte and split a Honey Lavender Whoopie Pie with John. I didn't want to share it but it was the last one for sale. Heavenly!

We had a great time catching up with friends, listening to music and enjoying local cuisine and coffee.

A successful exploratory weekend, wouldn't you say? 3 for 3 on new destinations! 4 for 4 when you count the music as we'd never heard them play before. Winner winner food truck dinner!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Recipe Reblog #25

Last weekend, we hosted our wine night with a theme of VinOlympics. When caught up in Olympic fever, add wine! We chose wines from around the world and the menu also came from assorted countries. The appetizer round wasn't too foreign but it was delicious. I'm quite proud of myself for coming up with a crostini trio. I cannot believe I didn't take a picture. One topped with bruschetta (from my garden!), one topped with a honey-lemon ricotta and strawberries, and one topped with this.........

Sun-Dried Tomato Jam: This is a Giada recipe from the Food Network. It uses a jar of sun-dried tomatoes and a few other ingredients and coaxes them into a savory jam. Let me tell you, mine never jammed up. I simmered the heck out of it too but there was too much liquid. No matter. My guests and I could not get enough of this! It was extremely tasty. Packed with flavor! Hers has you add goat cheese too but we skipped that part. This recipe is also relatively low maintenance as once the pot is going, you just let it simmer. I made my own crostinis in the oven but you could certainly do storebought. Serve this stunner at your next get together!

P.S. Blogger told me all the Italian words in this post were spelled incorrectly. Mi scusi!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Road Trip - Last stop, Wine Time!

I just realized I forgot to tell you all about our marathon winery day to cap off our summer vacation. My apologies! Niagara-on-the-Lake is about a 20 minute, scenic drive from the Falls. It's a quaint little town that's home to the Shaw Theatre Festival, umpteen B&B's and about a thousand wineries. None of these wineries export to the States (at least not that I've found) so we were ready to go load up! I think you can purchase online but where's the fun in that?

Reif Estate Winery

Our first stop and one of the very first wineries you come to on River Parkway from the Falls is the Reif Estate Winery. We had been here before but this was the first time we toured. $5/person got you a tour and 3 tastings, but you got a $5 discount on any bottles you purchase. We purchased a 2009 Cabernet Merlot blend here. It was delicious, even though I don't like Merlot.

Peller Estates

Peller Estates has some of the most gorgeous grounds of all the wineries. I've toured here before so this time we just tasted. Unfortunately once again, they were sold out of their extremely popular Baco Noir. I was pretty bummed about that. $7 for 3 tastings but then you got that off the price of a bottle as well. Service here was kind of impersonal but I remember the tour being very good. This time we purchased a 2010 Gamay Noir for a little something different.

Pillitteri Estates

This was our favorite stop! Pillitteri Estates Winery had been on our last trip but this time we also toured. Their tours were free and we were the only ones so we got to ask all kinds of questions and our tour guide was really knowledgeable. Another bonus here: free tastings! We liked everything we tried but they are most famous for their Riesling Gewurztraminer Fusion. Incidentally, besides ice wine, that is the one VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) bottle I've seen in the States. We purchased a 2010 Cabernet Franc that was amazing. I could have bought a lot more here.

Sunnybrook Farm Winery

When touring through Ontario's wine country, I suggest you try to visit a mix between larger estate wineries and smaller, personal niche wineries. Sunnybrook Farm Winery is one of the small ones. They are known for their array of fruit wines, all made with fruit and no grapes. Peach, cherry, apple, etc. No tours here but we tasted a few. $1/taste. They tasted like juice, but good juice. They had a wonderfully effervescent hard cider that we purchased as a gift and I'm kicking myself for not buying some for us.

Strewn Winery
Strewn Winery was a new one for us. We only tasted there, no tour, although I think there is a tour available. I can't remeber how much the tastes were but I forked over $4 in Canadian coins to cover it. We purchased a special white release for summer called the Cottage Block. We tasted all whites here and they were all good. I think we also bought a Riesling. We tried to balance our white and red purchases. There's also a cooking school and a restaurant here but the timing wasn't right for us to eat.

 Hillebrand was next. I totally forgot to take a picture here! It was our 6th stop so details got a little fuzzy. We bought a white here but I can't remember which one and I'm too lazy to go look in the wine rack. Sorry! They have a nice look restaurant here that we considered for dinner but didn't feel like leaving our wallets on the table. Yikes!


Here's one of the big guys. We toured Jackson-Triggs Winery last time so we just tasted here. Truthfully, we only stopped here because we had free tasting vouchers. One standout was a Sparkling Merlot. I mentioned above that Merlot is not my favorite but I'll try anything that seems interesting. It was different. The girl serving said that's what everyone says about it. We didn't purchase it and I don't regret that. We bought a Sparkling white instead. I can't remember what the variety was.

Inniskillin is also one of our favorite wineries. We toured last time and had a great tour, especially trying the $100 ice wine as a special treat. This time we didn't tour because we were short on time and while we love it, we only really tasted because we had free vouchers. Ask your concierge (wherever you stay) if they have any tasting vouchers. There is also a wine shop in the Fallsview Casino hotel that has free tasting vouchers. We stopped in there the first night and when I told her we were touring the next day, she handed over the goods. This time, we purchased the 2009 East-West Cabernet Shiraz. This was our 8th and final stop!

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the ever popular ice wine. Ice Wine is made from grapes that are harvested while frozen and pressed in December. It is an extremely sweet dessert wine. We love it but the bottles are PRICEY. It takes 10 times the amount of grapes to make a bottle of ice wine than a normal bottle (fact.) So, definitely try it when it's available but I have a hard time forking over $50 for a 375 mL bottle of wine. We did try it everywhere though. Yum!

And that's it!

Can't get enough wine info? Here's my post from our last trip there back in 2009.

Monday, August 6, 2012

What is Up

  • The other day I passed up 5, count them, FIVE, pairs of Kate Spade heels (in my size!) severely discounted at TJ Maxx because I knew my terrible feet couldn't even handle them to wear out to dinner, let alone a full day of work. Progress.
  • I have zero trips booked right now and this makes me sad. I'm not counting our Thanksgiving trip to North Carolina as booked because there is no official booking to be done with my sister. Yes, it's a trip but I don't look at a confirmation in my email every.single.day like I do with other vacations.
  • Do you have trouble falling asleep, most especially on Sunday nights? You're not alone. Take Melatonin (natural - by the vitamins). Thank me when you're well-rested.
  • I have officially turned into my father. The other day, someone tried to give me Olympics results that had just happened. Honest Abe, I plugged my ears and started screaming 'NO NO NO NO' until I was certain they had stopped talking. I like to watch the prime time taped delay, much like my dad watches football games on taped delay. Woe betide the fool who tries to give him any results.
  • One of the best moments of my week was purchasing a Groupon for Hot Yoga. I've always wanted to take Hot Yoga and now it's come to Dayton for a fraction of what it should cost. Thanks, Groupon! Sweating is the best.
  • There has been a lack of birthday cake in my life lately. How come I'm not around for the few summer birthdays in my life? Cake is the best.
  • Last week I spoiled my appetite for lunch by eating a bag of animal crackers from the vending machine at 10:30am. Which is weird because I thought I was 29 and not 6.

What's up with you lately?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Recipe Reblog #24

Here's a summer dinner for you. Take advantage of those fresh zucchinis!

Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats: This recipe caught my eye because we've had lots of good summer zucchini already and I was looking for another use for it. It's a main course in which you stuff the zucchini with meat, marinara, cheese, etc. I did switch out the sausage for ground turkey though. That was the only change I made. This was super tasty! Here's another bonus: it's way healthy for you! One boat is only 155 calories. Our zukes were small so we each had two which probably upped the calorie count a tad but that's okay. Still a very reasonable dinner. Whip these up for yourself!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

July Running Round Up

Spoiler Alert! I didn't hit 50 miles this month. Between vacation and a trip home, I just seemed to run out of days to log those miles. But, I did have some OK runs in there. Let's review!

Jul 3: 3 min OT in VT, 30ish mins
Jul 10: 4 mi in 35:55 TM, kinda rough
Jul 14: 4 mi OT in 40 mins, felt good - very little walking
Jul 15: 6 mi TM in 55:53, 9:25ish pace, tired legs but felt decent
Jul 17: 3.3 mi TM in 30 mins, 9:21/9:03/8:46 - felt decent
Jul 21: 3 mi OT in 30 mins, leg pain halfway
Jul 22: 5 mi TM in 47:07, rough run, pain and tired :(
Jul 24: 4 mi TM in 34:46, 1@6.5mph, 3@7.0 mph+
Jul 31: 4 mi TM in 35:52, 9:40/8:58/8:44/8:30 -tight hamstring

36.3 miles total

(OT is outside, TM is treadmill)
Also in July, I registered for my first scary half marathon and got new shoes.

Here are my new best friends, the Adrenaline GTS 12th series by Brooks. I've been in the 11th series for the last year so I hope I love the new model just as much. Only time will tell! I'm not too concerned that I didn't run 50 this month because my training program for the race is pretty intense and adds in an extra day of running each week. In 12 weeks, I'm supposed to run over 200 miles. So.....I think I'll be okay on my 500 goal. I just hope to stay injury-free. Fingers crossed!

P.S. Happy 2nd birthday to my nephew, BEN!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Still Missing

Yes, two books in a row. What can I say? I'm a read-read-read-read-readin' machine.


Still Missing, by Chevy Stevens, was recommended by my sister as a fast, somewhat suspenseful read so I picked it up from the library last week and got down to business.

Good Reads' Synopsis: On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a 32-year-old realtor, had three goals—sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever-patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she's about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all.

Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent as the captive of a psychopath in a remote mountain cabin, which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist, is a second narrative recounting events following her escape—her struggle to piece her shattered life back together and the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor.
Still Missing is that rare debut find--a shocking, visceral, brutal and beautifully crafted debut novel.
What I Thought: I really enjoyed this one. The story had enough twists and turns to keep me guessing and the outcome was not one that I expected whatsoever. Annie’s tale of abduction definitely held my attention and I was rooting for her to escape (duh) and felt her pain and anguish as she tried to get back to normalcy. The juxtaposition between her speaking to her psychiatrist and retelling her story was a literary device that I’m not sure was necessary but I suppose it added some interest. A good freshman effort for Stevens. Looking for a suspenseful mystery/thriller? Give this one a shot!

Rating: * * * 1/2