Tag Archives: Coffee

Becoming A Morning Person

I’ve always needed a lot of sleep… always. No matter how many hours I’ve slept, I rarely feel refreshed and ready to go when my alarm goes off. For a long time I chalked it up to just not being a morning person; but I’ve never been a ‘night owl’ either. Once I can fight through the battle of actually getting up out of bed I’m fine, but that push to get myself up has always been the real struggle. As I’m getting older, though, I’ve come to appreciate those quiet hours in the morning where I can get a head start on the day with less people around. Plus, as a runner being down with early wake-ups are especially important in the summer when it’s hot and humid as soon as the sun rises.

Sometimes you just need a little extra caffeine

Sometimes you just need a little extra caffeine

So where am I going with this? Well, it wasn’t until Sunday morning where I found myself casually sipping coffee at 8:30 in the morning at a local Starbucks before my 9:30am Refine Method class that I realized, “hey, I think I’m finally a morning person!” I had been up since about 7am and took an early PATH train to make sure I had enough time before class since they run infrequently in the morning on the weekends… and I didn’t hate it. To me, getting up at 7am on a Sunday (when we sprung ahead, no less) was early; and it wasn’t a struggle to convince myself to get up, either. After thinking about it for a bit, I realized there were some tangible things I’ve done over the last few months to condition myself to being able to get up early in the morning (sometimes it’s 5am, sometimes it’s a weekend 7am) without trying to make a deal with the devil to let me sleep more. I know there are a lot of people who want to get more out each day just like I do, so I figured I’d share some tips that I’ve found really helpful.

  • Set your clothes out the night before – this is something my mom made me do when I was in elementary school and it stuck with me. By figuring out what I want to wear in the morning, I avoid going through the inevitable “wait, no, I want to wear this instead!” and it requires little to no thinking – I pick up the clothes, head to the bathroom, and get ready. I do this whether I’m getting up to work out or go somewhere. Easy peasy.
  • Be aware of your bedtime – it’s easier said than done, but obviously the earlier you go to bed, the early you’ll wake up (in theory). Being cognizant of the time you need to wake up and how many hours of sleep you’d like to get can help a lot. If you’re used to going to bed way later than you’d like, be gentle and slowly make your bedtime earlier… it’s pointless if you’re in bed tossing and turning!
  • Be consistent – this is something I’ve read over and over recently and it is finally ringing true for me. The whole idea of “sleeping in” on the weekends isn’t the smartest – it throws your schedule off and makes it hard to get back on track for the week (which is often why Mondays feel that much harder). I don’t get up at exactly the same time every single day, but on the weekends I try to get up no later than an hour from the latest time I get up during the week. Sure, it might seem silly to wake up at 8am on a Saturday when you have no plans, but your body will be thanking you mid-week. Eventually your body will get used to the timeframe you’ve been waking up in, making it easier for you when that alarm finally does go off.
  • Sign up for a fitness class or make plans with a friend – this has been the biggest catalyst for my transition to being a morning person, I think. Fitness classes in the NYC area have cancellation windows and if you miss that window, you usually forfeit the class credit and are oftentimes charged a fee as well. If that isn’t motivation to make it to the already pricey class, I don’t know what is! Or, if you aren’t going to a class make plans to meet someone – you’ll be less likely to cancel if there’s someone waiting for you!
  • Treat yo self – it can be something simple like stopping for coffee after your workout or on your way to that early morning meeting, but reward yourself every so often for a job well done. Getting up early isn’t always easy so there’s nothing wrong with making the early wake-up a little sweeter (sometimes literally).
And you'll be rewarded with views like this (sometimes)!

And you’ll be rewarded with views like this (sometimes)!

I know that none of these things are ground breaking or new information for most, but it’s the kind of thing that everyone says and you just shrug it off… until you try it for yourself. Doing the 5 simple things I’ve listed above have made it possible for me to get up before the sun on most days and not hate it. Of course there are still days where I’d like to just sleep forever, but for the most part I’ve conditioned myself to get up and get going earlier than I ever have before. If you’re struggling to get up early, whether for a workout or just so you can enjoy the morning hours and add more time to your day, I definitely suggest trying some of the suggestions above. You don’t have to do them all at once and maybe just one change will make a difference, but definitely give it a try… It can’t hurt (much).

Tell me…
Are you a “morning” person?
Do you have any other tips or tricks to help get you up in the morning?

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Friday Favorites

How about a little Friday Favorites to kick off the first official weekend of Fall? As usual there is no particular theme… just what I’m currently loving!

Free People Convertible Crossbody Bag

A few months ago I decided I needed a new crossbody bag; specifically one that had a fold-over top. I’m the kind of person that once I get something in my head that I want, I search and search until I find it. It took me a few days, but eventually I found a bag that was cute, functional, and wouldn’t break the bank. Enter this Free People purse!

bag

I love this bag for a few reasons. First, it’s vegan, so I don’t have to feel badly about carrying it around. And it’s already worn-in so it has that soft leather feel. It’s also convertible! I can leave the fold-over flap out, or I can fold it into the bag and zip it closed that way. It has a long strap that can be worn as a crossbody or shoulder bag, but it also has handles in case I just want to grab it or throw it on my arm.

 

Vous Vitamins

When I was asked if I’d be interested in sampling some customized vitamins by Vous Vitamins, I jumped at the offer. When I lived in Brooklyn, I remember taking Flinstone’s Vitamins and loving them. But, when we moved to New Jersey, my mom started giving me prescription vitamins. I was always mad that I couldn’t have any of the “cool” vitamins, and by the time I was in high school I stopped taking them all together. Now as an adult I try to take them, but I’m admittedly not very good at remembering.

vous

I absolutely love the idea of customized vitamins. All you have to do is take their quick questionnaire online which asks questions about your dietary and exercise habits, where you live, your age, and how you generally feel. You then get your vitamins, and they suggest taking two with a large glass of water after a meal. Of course, if you prefer, you can take one in the morning and one in the evening. While I don’t feel remarkably different (which I wouldn’t expect just from some vitamins) I do like knowing that I’m making sure my body is getting all the nutrients it needs – especially during marathon training!

 

Oiselle Portman Pants

I fell in love with the moto trend a little late last year, so I didn’t really have the opportunity to capitalize on it for fear that it wouldn’t still be a trend this fall. Lucky for me it is, so I’ve been snatching up plenty of moto inspired pieces over the last few weeks. A few months ago Oiselle shared a sneak-peek picture of a pair of moto inspired leggings, and I knew as soon as I saw them I’d have to have them (mind you, this was without seeing the entire pant).

Hello, moto

Hello, moto

So after patiently waiting, I scooped up the Portman Pant as soon as they hit the website. I got them last Friday, and I’ve already worn them twice. It hasn’t been cool enough for me to run in them, but they were perfect travel pants when I went to visit my sister in Rochester last weekend. They’re super soft like my beloved flow tights, but the detail makes you feel like you’re wearing more than “just” leggings. I have no doubt in my mind that these are going to be a staple for me this fall and winter on those days where I want to be comfy and cozy, but also look like I’m wearing more than just running clothes or lounge pants.

 

Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters

On my first trip this past July to visit my sister in Rochester, NY we stopped to get coffee from one of her favorite local coffee places, Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters. She works in the medical center at The University of Rochester which is attached to the city’s main hospital, and they have a FLR coffee shop there as well as a bunch of stores in the area. I had high hopes for when I finally made it to the store since she’d been texting me about all the fun coffee flavors she’d been having for months. Naturally when I got to the store I was like a kid in a (coffee) candy shop.

FLR

When I went the first time I decided to bring back one bag of coffee, coconut. We left the bag in the car as we went to do other errands, and by the time we got back my sister’s entire car smelled like coconut coffee… yum! It tasted as good as it smelled, and I finished it within a week! On my most recent trip I decided to try two new flavors: salted caramel and streusel cake. I haven’t had the streusel cake yet, but so far I’m loving the salted caramel. I’ve had plenty of flavored coffees that have beans that smell amazing, but when you actually brew it there isn’t much flavor. Well, not Finger Lakes Roasters. This coffee tastes as good as it smells! It also made my luggage on the trip home smell amazing.

 

Wedding Season!

Yup, it’s that time of year again… wedding season! Mine kicked off a little later this year with the first on September 6th. I have one this weekend, as well as the next two weekends (till mid-October)! While having to get up at 5am to do my long runs before the fun starts isn’t my favorite, I love the chance to get dressed up and hang out with some of my very best friends. Who doesn’t like a little love in the air?!

Mustaches of some sort are a requirement at weddings with me... sorry?

Mustaches of some sort are a requirement at weddings with me… sorry?

Hope you have a great weekend!

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Friday Favorites

Welcome to another installation of my Friday Favorites! I realized as I was thinking about this post that I’ve done a bunch, and the titles of each blog post are all the same. Whoops! But this post is no different from any of those other posts – it’s a whole bunch of random things I’m currently loving.

Bodum Bistro Coffee Maker

This coffee maker is awesome. You may be wondering why I bought a new coffee maker when the one I had was fine. Well, this bad boy was on sale, and after reading a few reviews, I knew I had to have it. I mean, just look at it!

What a beaut

What a beaut

I’m no coffee connoisseur, but I’m an avid coffee drinker and appreciate a good cup. I have a French Press and love to take the time to use it on the weekends, and I also love getting pour-over coffee when I’m out. This coffee maker gives me a similarly flavored cup of coffee, and all I have to do is grind some coffee beans, fill it up with some water, and press a button. And another bonus is the carafe that the maker comes with; it’s insulated so you can take it from the kitchen to the table so you don’t have to keep getting up during your lazy weekend breakfast (and it isn’t glass, so you don’t have to worry about breaking it, like I’ve done before).

New Balance 1400s

I’ve wanted a pair of lighter sneakers for awhile; a pair that I can run workouts and shorter races in, and as I get stronger, longer races. A lot of my friends wear New Balance 1400’s or 1600’s, so I figured I’d give them a try. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that a big draw to these particular sneakers were the colors. I’ve always been obsessed with bright and bold colors, and New Balance has been delivering on that front with their running sneakers for quite a few years. I tried them on before ordering them, and am happy to report that in addition to the sweet colors, they fit great and are perfect fast(er) running sneakers for me.

So bright. So awesome.

So bright. So awesome.

It was tough to figure out what color scheme I wanted, but eventually I settled on the glow in the dark 1400’s! They’re perfect because I can wear them when I have to run after work, and if you throw them under the light for a few minutes before you head out the door, they actually glow. I like the idea of having a little extra visibility (in addition to my reflective vest, and knuckle lights), and these provide that. Plus, they have just the right amount of cushion while still letting me feel the ground; and they’re super light weight. I’m looking forward to working them into my shoe rotation on a more steady basis… I’d love to be able to use them as my racing shoe for my PR half marathon attempt!

Oiselle Spring Funnel Neck 

I knew as soon as I saw this top that I had to have it. The gray color with a pop of fresh green on the sleeves and the ever-so-slight turtleneck were just what I needed to help get me through the last few months of winter.

A Polar Vortex Selfie, brought to you by the funnel neck, a long puffer, and serious snow boots

A Polar Vortex Selfie, brought to you by the funnel neck, a long puffer, and serious snow boots… with a creepin’ cat

Unfortunately it’s still too cold for me to wear it while running, but I’ve been loving it as a layering piece for everyday wear in the meantime. The beauty of a lot of Oiselle‘s clothing is that while it’s made for running, you can easily get away with wearing it out in public without having that “oh, you just worked out” look. Plus, since my office is casual (they let us wear shorts in the summer), tops like this are perfect for work… especially because it’s always cold in my office and the thumb-holes help keep me warm!

Reading for fun

This might sound silly, but when I was in college I couldn’t wait to “not have to study and do homework” so I could read books that I wanted to read for fun. As an English major I did plenty of reading, but it was almost always assigned reading; I think I had maybe one class that incorporated some outside reading. So when I first graduated I did just that – I tore through quite a few books and was loving it. But as the years passed and I got busier with that little thing called being an adult (and the introduction of running and marathon training), reading for fun fell by the wayside. I recently changed that, and have been loving it so far!

Reading by candlelight is my jam

Reading by candlelight is my jam

During the Holidays I read Everything Is Perfect When You’re A Liar by Kelly Oxford, and often found myself giggling while reading. It’s absolutely hilarious and a fun, lighthearted read. On my trip to Brussels I read Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and devoured it in a matter of hours. It’s technically a young adult novel, but I think people of all ages will absolutely love it. It takes you back to high school and reminds you of those gut-wrenching feelings you had for that boy or girl that caught your eye. I’ve also been slowly going through Jay Dicharry’s Anatomy for Runners, but it’s a science heavy book so I’ve been taking it piece by piece and isn’t really a “fun” read so much as an “I need this so I can figure out how to stop getting injured so much while running” read. I also just downloaded The Fault In Our Stars by John Green at the recommendation of many (though those recommendations have also come with a sadness warning). I’m hoping 2014 is the year of Danielle being well read!

Supporting Others & Causes

While this doesn’t necessarily fit with the whole “material things I love right now” theme of the post, I wanted to take a minute to point out two special runners that have gone from Twitter and blog friends, to teammates, to real life buds. I am so inspired by both of these ladies on a daily basis – from their amazing positive attitudes, to their insane and speedy mileage, to the support and FUN they bring to the running and blogging community. Currently, they’re both fundraising for separate, but equally important causes, and I wanted to highlight them in hopes that you will think about making a donation to help them reach their goals!

Hollie – Fueled by LOLZ
Hollie is currently fundraising for Ophelia’s Place, a center that provides information about eating disorder prevention, intervention, treatment, and education. She’s running the Lake Effect Half Marathon in Upstate New York at the end of February (I’m cold just thinking about it) and hopes to raise $2,000 for the cause. I hope you’ll take a moment to think about donating!

She also posts amazing memes everyday... I mean, how could you note vote for THIS?

She also posts amazing memes everyday… I mean, how could you note vote for THIS?

That being said, Hollie is also campaigning this month for an all expense paid trip to Napa to run the Zooma Half Marathon, and she’d love to have your vote. You’re supposed to vote for a blogger that embodies the Zooma mission – inspiring women to lead healthy, happy, and active lives. It seems pretty clear to me based on Hollie’s dedication to being a healthy runner – and in the process is fundraising for eating disorder awareness – that she does in fact embody the Zooma mission. Not to mention she’s hilarious and a lover of New Jersey diners, and my Oiselle teammate. So let’s help get her to Napa (you can vote once a day until the end of February)!

Krissy – Shiawaselife
Krissy was one of my first Twitter/blog friends turned real life friends, and I’m so thankful that she’s also an Oiselle teammate who is equally (and possibly even MORE) obsessed with Disney as I am. I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with her in Disney World, Disneyland, and running the Nike Half in D.C. last April with her and Ashley.

Runnin' with KMurph & Bun in DC... having SO MUCH FUN

Runnin’ with KMurph & Bun in DC… having SO MUCH FUN

I wish I could get across on paper (or in this case, computer screen) how awesome I think Krissy is, but I don’t think there are words that can adequately describe just how enthusiastic, positive, and supportive she is. So naturally when I found out she was going to be running the Run Donna 26.2 at the end of February as her redemption race in hopes of a (well deserved) BQ and would be fundraising in the process, I knew I had to donate… and I hope you’ll consider donating as well.

And with that, all I can say is happy Superbowl weekend!

Tell me…
What are you loving this week? 

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Filed under Life, Running

A Trip to Brussels: The Food, Part 1

When I found out about a month ago that I needed to take a trip to my company’s office in Brussels, Belgium to work on documenting a new product, all I could think about was the awesome food and drink I’d get to experience. They didn’t even have to finish the sentence or tell me much about the project in order to get me to say yes! So I took a trip “across the pond” last week, and am back (likely heavier) to talk about the deliciousness.

Whenever I’m planning a trip, I do as much research as I can, and really appreciate when people take the time to review things. I rely heavily on Yelp and FourSquare when it comes to food and drink, and I feel as though it’s only appropriate to pay it back by doing the same. So in addition to the reviews there, I wanted to blog about it too. I’m going to break it into two parts: first the food, then the drink. You can experience most of Brussels and the “sights” in a matter of three days (if you hit up the big attractions and are diligent with your time), but obviously staying longer means you’ll have more of an opportunity to try different restaurants and bars. I was in Brussels for six days; three days of work and three days of sight seeing and being a tourist.

Grand Place / Grote Markt

Grand Place / Grote Markt

I must admit I was a little nervous for my first dining experience in Brussels, as each country seems to have their own social and cultural norms when it comes to dining. I tried to do some research beforehand to see what was common, etc., but didn’t get much information. My timidness only stems from my first night in Berlin two years ago, when we walked into a restaurant and didn’t realize that they go by the “seat yourself” rule, and stood in the doorway for awhile until a surly man ushered us to a table. It seems as though in Brussels, you are acknowledged and directed by waitstaff when you walk in, but you’re able to pick your own seat. And when it comes to the check, they don’t rush you – so you either have to ask for it when they’re clearing your place, or flag them down to request it. Or, in some cases, just go up to the register and they’ll ring you up right there. It’s also worth noting that a lot of places are cash only – so make sure you have plenty of Euros with you! Now onto the food…

My ahead of time research led me to my first meal at Houtsiplou. There seem to be a lot of burger joints in Brussels, but this particular restaurant had the best reviews, and they their food is served up in a kitschy environment (all of their walls are painted with fun scenes and their food is delivered up from the kitchen via dumbwaiter). After perusing the menu for awhile, I ordered a beer (of course – review to come in a separate post) and their veggie burger, “Lola.” The burger had some grilled eggplant, tomato sauce, lettuce, and cheddar cheese served with frites in a cute little flower pot. I absolutely loved everything about the restaurant, and planned to take a trip back (which I did on my last night) before leaving. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a good burger and delicious frites just outside of the central tourist area of Brussels.

Lola Burger & frites

Lola Burger & frites

Since my sense of time was out of whack (Left at 6pm EST and arrived at 8am CET, took a little nap before and after lunch), I wasn’t really hungry for dinner that first night. After a trip to Delirium Café (full review on that awesomeness to come in my beer post) for beer, I headed to one of many Friteries just two blocks from my hotel for fries (yes, this was after having them with my burger at lunch). This particular location, Friterie Tabora, offered two different sizes (small or large) and a plethora of sauce options. I decided on the curry sauce, and watched the guy behind the counter smother my piping hot cone of fries thinking to myself, “Um, how am I going to eat this?!” Thankfully they offer those cute little forks for frites consumption, so I had no problem strolling back to my hotel while devouring them.

Frites!

Frites!

On Sunday morning I woke up with two goals in mind: breakfast that included a giant cup of coffee, and a visit to a museum and Mannekin Pis (and more beer, of course). Despite Brussels being a bustling city, there weren’t a lot of coffee shops around. And I quickly learned while trying to find one nearby that a lot of stores, restaurants, and even coffee shops are closed on Sundays. Eventually I settled on The Coffee Company, and ordered myself a blueberry muffin and a cappuccino. It was nice to sit back, relax, and enjoy my breakfast in a familiar environment (well, except for the fact that everyone around me was speaking French). Eventually I made my way to the Magritte Museum to enjoy a little culture. The museum actually made me really tired (it was quiet and dark), so I knew I’d need to walk around outside a bit to wake up.

Brussels | FoodosaurusRex.com

After wandering around for a bit, I decided on my early dinner haphazardly. The hotel I was staying at offered wifi, so I was able to look up the location of things and read reviews, etc., anytime I was in my hotel, but I kept my phone in airplane mode the entire trip so I wouldn’t incur any international data charges. This worked out well, until I was out somewhere without internet and needed it. I had bookmarked one restaurant, Rachel, based on it’s reviews and location, and just as my stomach started to grumble, I walked past the restaurant. This is also a bit of a burger joint, but they offer more than just burgers (apparently their brunch is very good). Even though I had a burger for lunch the day before, I went with their Frankenstein burger (with a veggie patty substituted) which was served on a bagel. That’s right – a burger on a bagel. It was as amazing as it sounds! I also had my first tasted of Kriek, which I really enjoyed (and was shocked I did). The service was quick and friendly, and I didn’t feel out of place at all. After my second burger of the trip, I walked down to the famed Mannekin Pis for a picture. I must admit it’s pretty weird, but funny, and picture worthy.

NSFW?

NSFW?

Monday meant it was time for work, so I took a trip to the office, which was about 20 minutes outside of Brussels in an office park. I must admit I have no idea where we went for lunch which isn’t very helpful, but again, it was outside of Brussels so I’m assuming the average tourist wouldn’t be out that way anyway. By the time I got back to my hotel I couldn’t wait for dinner. And again, I decided to go a few blocks away from the touristy section of the city. I should note that anyone who wants to have a good, non-tourist centered meal should avoid any restaurant near Grand Place, especially Beenhouwersstraat / Rue des Bouchers streets. You have to walk down them to get to the Delirium Café, but you really shouldn’t go down them for any other reason; unless you like having people jump out at you from the restaurant trying to get you to come in and eat. I nearly punched someone in the face after telling him no and saying excuse me (in French) multiple times without him moving. More on that later, though!

Dinner on Monday night was at Publico – a small and intimate Mediterranean restaurant. I was thrown for a loop when I first opened the door, since you need to completely close it before being able to stand inside. When you do, it’s pitch black as there is a big heavy curtain separating the doorway from the actual restaurant (which I’m assuming is to help keep out the cold). Once you realize what’s going on and you open the curtain, you’re faced with a warm and inviting restaurant. I ordered the bruschetta to start followed by one of their specials (orecchiette) and it was phenomenal. They have an extensive wine list, and in addition to serving you bread (as all restaurants in Brussels do) they also had herbed olives that were delicious. My main dish was so big that I couldn’t finish it, and the server asked me if I didn’t like it and that’s why I didn’t finish it (and he seemed insulted). I had to assure him that I was just too full to finish, as they take finishing their food in Brussels seriously. I must admit that was the only meal I didn’t devour!

Wall art in Publico

Wall art in Publico

At the risk of getting too long and too wordy, I’m going to split this post into two parts – I still have three more days worth of food to talk about! And don’t worry, things like Belgian waffles, moules frites, Belgian chocolate, and speculoos are up next.

So in the meantime, tell me…
Have you ever traveled somewhere that had different dining customs? Did you know about them beforehand, or discover them once you were there? 

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Filed under Food Review, Restaurant, Travel, Vegetarian/Vegan

What I Drank Wednesday: Holiday Edition

Look at me, posting a WIDW two weeks in a row! This week’s theme is Holiday drinks, and includes beer, coffee, and tea. I’m a sucker for themed drinks, and like to try them all. A lot of times, though, I find that themed and overly marketed drinks are average at best. The ones below are the exception to my made up rule in that they are themed, and they’re good. We should probably start off with the good stuff (the beer) first, right?!

Harpoon’s Winter Warmer: I had this beer for the first time at the end of the season last year and loved it, so I knew that as soon as it became acceptable to talk about the Holidays, I had to get my hands on some. In simple terms, it tastes like the Holidays (cinnamon, nutmeg), but not in an overpowering way. It manages to be light, but also warm you up, as the name suggests. This is definitely the kind of beer you want to have on hand for Holiday get togethers! [Spiced Ale, 5.9% ABV]

Winter Warmer

This will warm you up!

Shiner’s Holiday Cheer: Despite having “Holiday” in the name, it’s far from what you would expect as a traditional Holiday beer (at least for me). When I think of Winter Holidays, I think of the spices found in the Winter Warmer. This brew, however, throws that logic out the window and instead you get the taste of peaches and pecans. It is so delightfully fruity and light, and reminds me a lot of Magic Hat’s #9. Despite the summery flavors, it definitely works as a Holiday beer, and I can just picture sipping it in Shiner, Texas (where it likely makes sense to have such a light and fruity beer for winter). [Dunkelweizen, 5.4% ABV]

Holiday Cheer

Peaches & pecans are needed in the snow

Southern Tier’s Creme Brûlée: Oh man. I should preface this by saying up until a few weeks ago, I was very much not a stout fan. I could drink a Guinness if it was given to me, but it was never my drink of choice. They were always just a little too heavy and bitter for me. But after finally trying Founder’s Breakfast Stout a few weeks ago while out after work, and really liking it, I decided it was about time to try more. So when Jenny suggested I give Southern Tier’s Creme Brûlée a try (with some dark chocolate), I made sure to pick it up when I went to the liquor store… and I got the last one! As soon as I opened the bottle I could smell the vanilla and caramel; it smelled like dessert. I was nervous to give it a try because I had such high hopes, and I wasn’t disappointed! It was so good. Not only could I smell the vanilla and caramel, but I could taste it. It’s a perfect “dessert beer,” or a beer to have when you want something a little heavier and sweet, rather than a light sweet beer (such as the Holiday Cheer above). [Imperial Milk Stout, 9.5% ABV]

Creme Brulee

Slowly becoming a stout lover

Starbucks Christmas Blend coffee: No more beer! Starbucks puts out this blend every year, and it’s really good. I actually love all of their seasonal blends (Thanksgiving, Holiday, Christmas, etc.), but this may be my favorite. Made up of beans from a bunch of different regions (South America and Indonesia), I enjoy it every morning, but find it also pairs well with desserts. It’s a darker roast, but isn’t overpowering, and smells fabulous.

Starbucks Christmas Blend

Jingle jingle

Celestial Seasonings’ Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride Tea: I had heard of this tea for a few years before actually trying it. I couldn’t  believe that there was actually a tea flavor that tasted like sugar cookies. When I finally tried it last year I was in shock; not only did it taste like sugar cookies, but it tastes like my favorite frosted cake-like sugar cookies (like the one pictured below)! Well, the people were right – it tastes like a sugar cookie. This is a perfect tea for when I’m craving something sweet but don’t have anything around. The smell is phenomenal, and I promise it tastes as good as it smells. It’s perfect for someone like me that will almost always choose coffee over tea, but actually wants tea every once in awhile.

Sugar cookie, sugar cookie tea. Both delicious.

Sugar cookie, sugar cookie tea. Both delicious.

I love taking advantage of different food and drink based on the season, and have been lucky enough to discover some really great ones.

Tell me…
Do you have any favorite Holiday themed drinks?
Any Holiday themed drinks I should try?

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Filed under Beer, Food Blogging, Food Review

What I Drank Wednesday

Since I had so much fun with my last What I Drank Wednesday post, I thought I would do it again! The blog is so heavily focused on food and running, that the liquid counterparts rarely get a chance to shine… and I figured Wednesday is just as good a day as any to share what I’ve been guzzling lately.

First up is 21st Amendment’s Hell or High Watermelon. I was extremely skeptical about this beer; I mean, a beer that tastes like watermelon? I’m not one to mess with beer flavors, and I naively assumed that this would be an abomination of the deliciousness that is a good brew.

Even the can is cool!

Even the can is cool!

I was pleasantly surprised by the beer when I ordered it a few weeks ago, and have found myself ordering it when available since then. It’s light, fun, and refreshing without having an overly watermelon flavor. It tastes like someone dropped a watermelon Jolly Rancher into a (decent) beer. This is definitely something you should try, but make sure it is really cold when you do. Obviously all beers are better when cold, but this one turns undrinkable quickly (more-so than a non flavored beer, I think).

Continuing the beer theme, another brew I recently tried and loved is Brooklyn Brewery’s Sorachi Ace. After a super hot run with Ashley, we headed to Stuff Yer Face for beers and bolis, and both decided to try this beer. I love going to Stuff Yer Face because they always have a good beer selection (both draft and bottle), and the food is good too.

Appropriate post run hydration, no?

Appropriate post run hydration, no?

This particular beer has a higher ABV (7.6%), so it was definitely a one and done type of drink, but it was delicious. It’s actually a special hop blend from Japan and it’s a classic saison, which I’ve come to realize I love. As I was looking over it’s “pairing” suggestions I saw that goat cheese was mentioned (which I am obsessed with), so it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed the beer.

Switching from beer to my other drink of choice, I recently started drinking cold brewed coffee. I actually received a cold brewing “system” for my birthday and tried it for the first time this week. It creates a “coffee concentrate” that you can then mix with water or milk to dilute and enjoy, which is perfect for me as someone that is obsessed with iced coffee. It’s nice to be able to pour my coffee over ice and not have the ice cubes immediately start to melt!

Toddy Cold Brew

The flavor is a little different from what you’re used to in terms of coffee, but I really like it. Plus, it makes a decent amount (since it’s a 1:3 ratio of coffee to milk or water) that stays fresh for up to two weeks – talk about easy!

And finally, while not interesting at all, I have been drinking a TON of water. It has been so incredibly hot recently, and combined with all the non-hydrating things I’ve been drinking as mentioned above, water is absolutely necessary. Back when I was swimming, one morning the Notre Dame women’s coach came to scout a few of my teammates at practice, and our coach asked her to share some words of wisdom with us. I don’t remember much of what she said, but I do remember one thing that I think of often; “If there’s yellow in your pee, that’s all the gold you’ll see,” meaning make sure you’re hydrated – if you aren’t, don’t expect to win! Obviously it’s just a fun little antidote, but it stuck with me and is an easy way to remember to keep hydrating. Of course I’m mixing Nuun into my water a lot as well, but I already talked about that last WIDW!

What are you drinking and loving lately?

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Inspired: What I Drank Wednesday

Last week, Ashley did a hilarious “What I Drank Wednesday” post. It was absolutely hilarious, and I thought to myself; ‘hey, this isn’t such a bad idea! Everyone always talks about what they eat, but what about drinks?!’ So, I figured it would be appropriate, given we just had Memorial Day Weekend, to share what I’ve been drinking lately. I’m by no means a big drinker (anymore), but I love craft beer.

Things started off on the right foot Friday when I got to leave work at 2pm. It was rainy and cold, so a stop at Wawa for coffee (and jalapeño bites, don’t judge) was necessary. Thinking of Hollie, I made sure to snap my #coffeeaday and add some of their Irish cream creamer, which is delicious and should be available everywhere.

Wawa coffee. It's good stuff.

Wawa coffee. It’s good stuff.

To further my weekend of drinking, a package of Nuun was waiting for me when I got home – citrus fruit, tropical, Kona cola, and lemon tea flavors! These were all new-to-met flavors and I couldn’t wait to try them… so I started with the cola during dinner, had the tropical after a run on Saturday, the lemon tea while lounging on Saturday evening, and the citrus after Sunday’s run. No surprise to me, I loved them all. I think my favorite was the tropical (it reminds me of something, but I can’t put my finger on what exactly), and the cola and tea flavors are impressively close to regular cola and tea (obviously watered down, since it’s mixed with water). Things got crazy on Monday when I made myself a cherry limeade and Kona cola slush!

Just a few new (to me) Nuun flavors to add to the collection!

Just a few new (to me) Nuun flavors to add to the collection!

I also picked up some of Starbucks’ new 3 Region blend, which admittedly first caught my eye because of the bright floral package. I was happy to see that it was a medium roast that boasted “floral, citrus, and herbal notes” that was a perfect companion to a sunny day. After my 8.5 miler on Sunday, I was more than happy to plop down on the couch with a cup while I watched the new season of Arrested Development on Netflix.

Coffee. Always coffee.

Coffee. Always coffee.

I suppose it wouldn’t be a Holiday weekend (or a weekend, or a regular day for that matter) without some beer. We’re a little low on inventory, so I made due with what we had in the fridge. Thankfully we only buy good beer, so I wasn’t disappointed in my choices. I had an Ithaca Beer Co. Flower Power IPA on Sunday evening, and a Flying Dog seasonal Woody Creek on Monday. I love me some good craft beers!

Ithaca Beer Co. Flower Power

Ithaca Beer Co. Flower Power

I’m currently headed to Punta Cana for a friend’s wedding this weekend, so I’m sure I will have even more drinks to share next week!

What have you been drinking lately? 

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Breakfast of Champions

While I was swimming, I often had to wait until after practice to enjoy a “real” breakfast, since practice was usually anywhere from 5:30a to 9a, depending on the day, and season. When I got home, I was always ravenous, and since I had already been up for quite a few hours, wasn’t really interested in typical breakfast food. Being a huge bologna fan (I grew up eating bologna and American cheese sandwiches cut into quarters, with an offset of real juice and tons of veggies for lunch), I oftentimes made myself a bologna and cheese sandwich, with an iced coffee. It’s a totally weird (and to some gross) combination, especially for breakfast. My mom liked to joke that it was “the breakfast of champions.”

For Valentine’s day, I bought the fiancé a French press, because he’s been wanting one for ages. I know nothing about them, so I just went with what was rated highly on Amazon, a Bodum Brazilian press. Since it’s a little more time consuming compared to your average cup of brewed coffee, we decided to save it for the weekend. After boiling water, letting it sit so it wasn’t super hot, and then letting it all sit together for 4 minutes, we were ready to enjoy our first cup of French pressed coffee. Let me tell you, the flavor is completely different. We used our go-to coffee, Dunkin Donuts (French vanilla flavor), and it definitely didn’t taste like it does when we make it in our regular coffee maker. You can really taste the coffee flavor, and honestly, it tasted thicker. I know that sounds ridiculous, but as someone that always drinks their coffee black, sometimes it tastes a little too watery for my liking… but this was perfect. I’m definitely a French press convert!

Yup, that's me in the background getting my cook-on

Leaving the fiancé in charge (it is his, after all), I set out to make a breakfast scramble with tofu. I’ve made it no secret that I’m not a huge egg fan, so after reading a bunch of different vegetarian and vegan recipes using tofu instead, I decided to give it a shot. I went with a Southwestern theme, since that’s my go-to breakfast flavor combination, and it was really delicious. Since you don’t have to worry about making sure the eggs are cooked all the way, the whole entire thing took about 10 minutes, leaving us perfect timing for when the coffee was ready. I could have definitely had this wrapped up into a burrito, atop some toast, maybe in a casserole, or just how I had it, plain.

Southwestern Tofu Scramble
– Serves 2 –

Ingredients:
8 oz. package of tofu (pressed to remove excess water)
1 small yellow onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, diced
1/3 cup chunky salsa
1/2 cup shredded cheese (any blend will do)
1/4 cup cilantro
2 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp Adobo
1 tsp ground cumin
Sour cream or Greek yogurt (I used Chobani plain) for garnish

Directions:
1. Heat oil in skillet, and add onion, pepper, and jalapeno. Sautee for 5 minutes, adding spices half way through
2.  While the onion and pepper mixture is cooking, mash tofu in a bowl until it has the consistency of eggs
3. Add tofu, cilantro, salsa, and half the cheese mixture. Cook about 5 minutes, making sure everything is combined
4. Finish off with the rest of the cheese, mixing all the way through, and remove from the heat
5. Serve with the sour cream/yogurt and any other garnish you’d like

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An open letter (of dissapointment) to Dunkin Donuts

My dearest Dunkin Donuts,

I’m writing to you as one of your biggest fans to let you know I’m dissapointed. How am I one of your biggest fans? You can look right here, where I defended your awesomeness versus Starbucks. Yesterday, May 11th, was advertised as “Free Iced Coffee Day.” Sure, you said “at participating locations” which ususally means most. I’ve gotten myself an iced coffee on this day for years.

This year, though, New Jersey locations were not participating. Matter of fact, according to the Huffington Post, only fourteen locations were. Not states. Locations. Do you have any idea how many Dunkin Donuts there are around here?! Of course you do, you own them. So imagine the chagrin of your loyal customers who were looking forward to a little pay back for supporting you so whole-heartedly.

Take my own family, for example. My mom LOVES Dunkin Donuts coffee. Swears by it. Getting it is a treat, but one she indulges in often. As my sister and I cultivated a love for coffee over the years, we got in on her weekend routine of Dunkin. I continued the tradition in college, and once I got into the “real world” often treat myself on Friday mornings. We also excitedly give (and receive) numerous gift cards for various occassions. Even my office loves Dunkin Donuts. People often bring in munchkins or boxes of donuts, and whenever possible, they buy the Dunkin coffee for our own coffeemaker.

That being said, I find it rather dissapointing that the free iced coffee day that I’ve grown to know and love was publicized per the ususal, but not followed through on. Later yesterday I saw a tweet from Dunkin Donuts appologizing for the miscommuncation. That’s it? Really? How many people do you think actually went to a franchise location excited to get a small iced coffee, only to be dissapointed?! I know both my mom and sister were upset about it. In the case of New Jersey, you lucked out. It’s been cold and rainy the past few days, so I don’t think people were on the hunt for iced coffee to the degree they would have been if we had temperatures from a week ago. Regardless, you made a promise you didn’t keep.

So, next time I’m ready and willing to bat for your team versus the Starbucks team, I might think twice. I mean, at least Starbucks is offering frappucino happy hour until the 16th. And they aren’t making promises they can’t keep. At this point, you’d almost be better off going back to Rachael Ray as your spokesperson. And we all know how much America loves her.

Honestly, I love your coffee, and could never break up with it. But know I’m like a mother dissapointed in their child. I hope you can right the wrong, and give back to the Dunkin Donuts coffee lovers who support you. We’re all crabby we didn’t get our dose of coffee yesterday – you yourselves say us Americans run on it. So don’t deprive us!

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Christmas Gift Review 1: Contigo Travel Mug

Since this past Christmas was quite the foodie Christmas, I’ve decided to review most of my presents that would be of any use to anyone on this site. So, first up is my Contigo Travel Mug! I have to say I was a bit wary of it’s claims at first, but so far so good.

I’m an avid coffee drinker; I bring it to work every day in an effort to save money, but also because the coffee at my office is less than stellar. I was finding that by the time I arrived at work, my coffee was cold and needed to be reheated in the microwave. Now, this wasn’t usually a problem, unless I happened to bring a non-microwavable mug. Then I had to go through the process of pouring it into a regular cup, heating it up, then pouring it back in hopes of it retaining it’s heat for a little.

I’m also unable to prevent coffee from spilling on myself. I’m by no means a klutz, but for whatever reason coffee always seems to leak out or spill on me. So, I really needed a mug that I could rely on to close all the way.

With all of the aforementioned issues taken into consideration, my boyfriend decided on a red Contigo mug for me. Not only does it keep warm beverages warm for up to 4 hours (and cold up to 12), but it also is leak and spill proof! That is by far the best part. I have turned the mug upside down from side to side on multiple occasions to demonstrate, and not a single drop has appeared any time.

I am seriously impressed by this mug. It seems to have everything; I can fit 16 oz. in it, and it stays drinkably warm for quite a few hours. And, if I happen to be wearing a white blazer and reach over my mug, I don’t have to worry about it spilling all over myself and needing to use two Tide-to-go pens to try and get it out (yes, this has happened). It has also come in handy for my weekend morning trips to the movies with bagels and coffee; my usual plastic bag and hope for the best method can be laid to rest.

So, if you drink coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or even super cold drinks close to as much as I do, I can’t recommend this enough! I know they have them on Amazon, and you can also get them directly from their site. Next time you’re in the market for a new travel mug, check this bad boy out!

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