Friday, April 29, 2011

Uncorked #8: La Fiera Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

Welcome to Uncorked! Where I feature a wine that I've tried and let you know my thoughts on it. There is a little disclaimer: I am by far no wine expert --I am just going to tell my thoughts on a wine. Some wine snobs out there might turn their nose up at my opinion and that's fine with me! Wine is meant to be savored and enjoyed! I might throw out some wine terms here and there and if I do, I will make sure that I give you the definition and try to explain them to the best of my abilities. My goal is to share some tasty wine picks with the world and hopefully encourage some of you out there to try a new wine. No bottle shall be discriminated against, price is no matter (with in reason), and this is just going to be all about exploring the world of wine.

This week's wine is:
2009 La Fiera Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

Description: La Fiera Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is a full-bodied red wine with violet highlights and a fruity bouquet. The palate boasts dark berry fruit and spice. Best paired with tomato-based pastas, pizza and roasted poultry.
Price: $6.99 per bottle
Region: Italy

I am sure I have said this before on this blog, but World Market is my favorite store. I stopped by there today to kill some time and I found myself again in the wine aisle. I wanted to blog about a different type of wine and they usually have a nice variety to choose from. This is the first time I have drank a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. I looked it on Wikipedia, and it's a type of wine that is made from a grape that grows in the Abruzzo region of Italy. I have no idea where this region is, but Christi might as she has been to Italy.
First off, the color of this wine is very pretty. It's a deep burgundy color. I swirled it around in the glass and my little guy was mesmerized by it. The smell very berry-like and peppery. When you finally take a drink, after noticing the wonderful smell and color, you really taste quite a few spices with an acidic ending. The description says it is a full bodied wine, however my husband thought it was thin*. I didn't agree with him on that description, but would say it was more medium-bodied than the full-bodied as described.

Would I buy it again? Yes. Though I am usually not a fan of acidic wines, I actually liked the balance between the berries and spice with the acid ending. My husband, though he thought the wine was thin, said that it was a pretty good and he would drink it again.

Fun Wine Fact: Italy has been making wines for over 2800 years and is the largest wine producing country in the world.

Be careful to trust a person who does not like wine.
– Karl Marx

*Thin- thin: A synonym for shallow; it is an undesirable characteristic for a wine to be thin, meaning that it is watery, lacking in body, and just diluted.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Losing The Baby Weight Part 7

A few days ago, my little guy officially turned 6 months old. That means, I have had 6 months to work on losing this baby weight. I have been stuck with 10 pounds remaining for the last couple months. (Read previous posts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6) Of course, I have been slacking off a little and not really been eating as healthy as I should. Since my last post on this subject of slacking off (see post 6), I have been trying to eat only healthy meals and work out regularly. I stepped on the scale today to see that I am now down to 128. That means I have eight pounds to go before my goal! YAAHHH!!

I think I have lost the two pounds because I have really stepped up my fitness routine as of late. My husband and I joined the local YMCA a couple of months ago and it has allowed us to work out together while the baby is in the daycare. In fact, I would say that joining the gym was one of the best decisions we have made. The gym we joined focuses on working out as a family. Our little guy might be in daycare right now, but we like to take him swimming in the pool (he loves the water) and as he gets older he can attend gym classes specifically designed for kids.

In addition to the family aspect, I love the mental break the gym gives me. You see, after the baby was born I went from working outside the home to working in the home. I am basically a stay at home mom now, which I LOVE and wouldn't trade for the world. I work part time from home, but my number one job has been to raise this little guy. I am lucky to be in a situation that allows me to stay home with him. However, being at home all day with a child can get a little overwhelming. I mean, I do have the world's easiest baby, but there are times where I need a little "me" time. The gym has really given that to me. They have a daycare that will watch him while I work out. It's great "me" time that is healthy for not only my body, but my mind too!

Since we have joined the gym I started to attend some of the classes offered and I really love going to them. It gives me time to interact with other adults and usually have some trainer beat me into shape. The classes vary, but I usually attend some type of boot camp or circuit training. The instructors have been very good about keeping the classes updated, so the workout doesn't get boring. Just last Friday, Good Friday, I attended a class and the instructor said that she had an Easter present for us. She had planned an Easter scavenger hunt. Now, I know this sounds crazy, but it was a really good idea. Each of us were handed two full sheets of paper. One paper had cardio workouts and the other was weight workouts. The scavenger hunt was to mark off as many as you could from both sheets. I thought I would share this with the blog world because it was really a creative way to mix up your workout routine. Here are all of the items I accomplished from the scavenger hunt:
25 Chest Presses
25 Squat Jumps
25 Rows
25 Hamstring Curls
25 Triceps Extensions
25 Bicep Curls
25 Knee Tucks
25 Reverse Crunch
25 Pushups
25 Bench Dips
25 Pull Ups
25 Kettle Ball Swings
25 Band Bicep Curls
25 Lunges
25 Sit-ups
25 V-Tucks
25 DB Shoulder Presses

200 Jump Ropes
50 Mountain Climbers
20 Burpees
2 Laps On Track
50 Jumping Jacks
10 Globe Jumps
1 Ladder (gym floor)
2 Laps On Track
30 Box Toe Taps
10 Elbow to Knee Jumps
1 Min Ride on Bike
1 Floor Cleaner (gym floor)
30 Line Jumps
200 Jump Ropes
10 Box Jumps
20 Burpees

I woke up the next day totally sore, but it felt great to have such a fun way to work out. Yesterday, I was looking in the mirror and noticed how ripped my arms were getting. I attribute my new tone to all the classes I have been taking.

I guess the moral of this post is, join a gym. I know the economy is tough right now, but for a pretty reasonable fee the YMCA provides a number of healthy activities for the family. It's a great way to build a foundation for you and your children to have a healthy and active lifestyle. So what are you waiting for? Have you been thinking about joining a gym? Do you currently belong to one? Why not give it a shot. The only thing to lose is some extra weight and maybe you will gain some mental health and muscle in the process!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Guest Room Remodel Complete!

I have been long overdue to talk about the results of our guest bedroom remodel, a blog I wrote months ago. Well, the room has been finished for a while and I thought I should show you the results.

This room is the guest room right next to the master bedroom. We really didn't end up doing much to the room. Just removing the wallpapers and cleaning up the woodwork. The room has this ugly maroon carpet, but we are going to wait to replace it till a later point and time. I would LOVE to replace it now, but it's just an extra expense we are trying not to have.
Here is the room before:

It had ugly pink striped wallpaper. We decided to paint the walls a color that didn't clash with the maroon carpet and that was pretty neutral. In an effort to save money on this somewhat remodel, I decided to mix all of our partial cans of paint together. I had no idea of the color we would get, but the partial cans of paint are mainly beige and white, so I knew it would be something close to the color I would want. The color turned out to be a very light beige, which was perfect! We swapped out the light fixture and called the room good...granted it still has that SUPER ugly maroon carpet, but we will deal with that later.

Here is the room after:It doesn't look that different from the first picture, but I am always glad to see one less room with wallpaper!


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Food On A Budget Part 3: The Sweet Tooth

A couple of years ago my husband lost his job...just like a lot of other people out there when the stock market went crazy and our economy tanked. I still had my two businesses (in-home salon and daycare) but I knew we had to make changes to our budget. So the first thing I did was slash what we were buying for meals. I am very healthy when it comes to food...but I had to find a cheaper way! I have started a post periodically, sharing my ideas to cut the food budget, save some money, and still feed my family with some healthy and tasty meals. I would love to hear any food budget saving ideas that readers might have so please feel free to share!

This week's money-saving tip is concurring your sweet tooth! I have somewhat of a little sweet tooth (who doesn't?) so I make things ahead of time so that I don’t drop by the local ice cream shop or coffee house. Here are a couple things I do at home to help those sweet tooth cravings without hurting the budget.

• Make an ice coffee and have it in the fridge ahead of time. (No more iced mochas from Starbucks, saves me $3.70 each time I drink one at home!)
• Make cookies and that can be frozen or just refrigerate to bake when needed. (It also helps me stay on my diet if I have only baked enough for one per person or just the kids.)
• I also make scones to leave in the freezer so that when a friend drops by I can bake up a couple different things in about 13 minutes.
• I bake homemade sweet breads and muffins at least twice a week for after school snacks or a fast breakfast. I can freeze bread or muffins for a later time….when I REALLY have no time!
• I use our ice cream machine and make home made ice cream in 20 minutes outside or the frozen deck (in Minnesota) and then freeze the rest for later use.

I probably have never talked about this on the blog, but one of my favorite past times is having tea know complete with the hats, teas, scones, and crumpets! Well over the years, my family has developed quite the taste for scones. They make a nice treat for the kids and as I said above a nice treat for guests. Here is one of my favorite recipes:

Sweet Lemon Scones

Image from

2 cups Flour
3 ½ tbs Butter - unsalted
½ tsp Salt
4 tbsp Sugar
1 tbsp Baking Powder
2 Eggs yolks
8 oz Low fat lemon yogurt
1 tsp Grated lemon peel
3 tbsp Heavy cream

1. Pre-heat over to 425 degrees.
2. Cut together dry ingredients, flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, with butter
3. In seperate bowl, stir together egg yolks, lemon yogurt, and lemon peel
4. Add flour mixture to bowl of liquid ingredients, stir lightly with a fork
5. Add heavy cream to the mixture – 1 tbsp at a time
6. Knead 3-4 times (on parchment paper)
7. Shape into square area (¾ inch thick ) – cutout shapes. Or shape into round area and pre-score slices
8. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes or until light brown

Tip: You can freeze unbaked scones. When ready to cook - bake frozen and adjust oven temp to 420 degrees and baking time to 15 minutes.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Vegetarian Chili with Chocolate

Sounds interesting right, chocolate in chili? I ran across this recipe on Real Simple but tweaked it a little. I have tried several versions of vegetarian chili, but many of them turn out to be more of just a vegetable & bean soup. The chocolate adds some thickness to the soup and gives it sort of a mole type of flavor, not to mention the antioxidants you get from chocolate! As I type this, I am eating the leftovers for lunch and it tastes even better on the second day. I served it with some corn bread muffins and it made quite the tasty healthy meal for dinner.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2- 14.5 ounce cans of chili prepared tomatoes (or just diced tomatoes)
2- 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1- 15-ounce cans light kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1- 15-ounce cans dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed
32 ounces of vegetable stock
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons of chili powder
1 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. In a stockpot, over medium heat, cook the oil, garlic, onion, and green pepper until slightly softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, kidney beans, vegetable broth, cumin, and salt.
3. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (I made corn bread in this time.)
4. Before serving, stir in the chocolate until melted.
5. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Keep It: Store in the refrigerator up to 3 days or in the freezer up to 4 months. Freeze individual servings in heavy-duty zipper bags

The Skinny: Serves 8 @ 263 calories


Uncorked #7: Lucky Duck Riesling

Welcome to Uncorked! Where I feature a wine that I've tried and let you know my thoughts on it. There is a little disclaimer: I am by far no wine expert --I am just going to tell my thoughts on a wine. Some wine snobs out there might turn their nose up at my opinion and that's fine with me! Wine is meant to be savored and enjoyed! I might throw out some wine terms here and there and if I do, I will make sure that I give you the definition and try to explain them to the best of my abilities. My goal is to share some tasty wine picks with the world and hopefully encourage some of you out there to try a new wine. No bottle shall be discriminated against, price is no matter (with in reason), and this is just going to be all about exploring the world of wine.

This week's wine is:
Lucky Duck Riesling

Description: Lucky you! We searched the globe to create a collection of authentic, great tasting international wines, with layers of flavor. Sweet notes of citrus and apricot. Enjoy Lucky Duck alone or paired with white meats, fresh vegetable dishes, or spicy Asian cuisine.
Price: $3.97 per bottle
Region: Germany

There I was, walking through the wine section at Walmart and this very cute bottle jumped out at me. I love ducks, I mean who doesn't, right? Well with a price tag of $3.97 I thought, it was worth a try! Riesling is one of those wines that I love and I love to hate. It can vary so much from very dry to a super sweet dessert wine. With that in mind, unless you are familiar with the bottle or the winery gives you a description on the label, you have no idea what you are getting. This bottle gave no description of the level of sweetness, but I thought for the price it was worth a try. I do not discriminate with price and in the past have found some pretty good cheap bottles of wine (Trader Joe's anyone?) So, I poured myself a glass and took a nice big inhale of wine's bouquet. The nose was not very sweet, which gave me the heads up that I shouldn't be expecting a super sweet wine. I could smell a little apple and maybe some peaches, but something was a little off about the smell. The first sip was quite a disappointment, but somewhat expected from a $4 bottle of wine. I thought overall the wine lacked flavor. Usually with a Riesling you will have a nice crisp burst of fruits, and I really think they can be some of the most refreshing white wines out there. However, this one just was pretty blahh and slightly metallic tasting (which might be what I couldn't quite place with the smell.)

Would I buy it again? No. This might be my most harshest review on a wine, but I just really didn't like this wine. And Lucky for me I paid less than $4 for it! My husband thought I was being a little hard on this wine, but I have had much better bottles of wine for around the same price. There are some good cheap bottles out there. Quite literally, this wine gets the three T's for me: Tinny*, Tired*, and honestly Terrible.

Fun Wine Fact: Riesling is almost always aged in stainless steel and should not have characteristics of oak. (Probably why I thought the wine was so metallic tasting.)

A person usually has two Rieslings for doing something: a good Riesling and the real Riesling. – Thomas Carlyle

*Tinny- Metallic tasting
*Tired- Limp, feeble, lackluster


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Losing The Baby Weight Part 6

I am not going to lie, I have been procrastinating writing this post. If you haven't been keeping up, I have been writing these blogs about losing the 50 pounds of baby weight I gained during pregnancy. (To read the previous posts see 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5) My goal to lose all the weight was my birthday, which was last week, but I successfully failed. It's depressing, to say the least. I have remained at 130 pounds now for over a month and the scale has not moved. That means I still have 10 more pound to go till my pre-baby weight size.

Now, I know many of you out there are probably sick of hearing me complain that I am 130 pounds. There are some women out there that would punch me in the face for saying I wanted to get below 130, but I think 120 pounds is a great weight and well within my healthy weight range. I am 5'4" and have a small frame and my healthy weight range is 120 to 132 pounds. Most importantly, I was 120 pounds before the baby and I really don't want to let myself justify continual weight gain because of my little man.

Well, back to the subject at hand...this stubborn 10 pounds. I guess I shouldn't say it is depressing that I haven't lost the 10 pounds, but it's a little heartbreaking. The big question we should ask is why haven't I lost that last 10 pounds in a month?
Well, I have a few theories on that and here they are:
1. Nursing- I am still nursing my now 6 month old. I am sure that since my body is still producing milk and that I am a little larger on top then I was prior to the baby this add some pounds to the weight component. I am guessing 2-3 pounds at the most.

2. Laziness- I have had a lot of things going on in the last month that have prevented me from working out like I usually do. I have been super busy, so busy in fact that this is my first blog for the month of April. I will unveil the reason for this craziness in the coming months, but for now I will simply say... it's stressful; especially since I have an infant in the midst of this.

3. Laziness x2- Yep, saying it again. I have been super lazy. MyFitnessPal has sure been missing me and lately I have been eating like I was pregnant. For example this week I ate- Pizza, Jimmy Johns (twice), 1/3 of a sheet cake from Coldstone (my birthday cake), 1/2 of a 9"x13" pan of Taco Dip, Chinese buffet and that's just what I can remember without making myself feel even more guilty.

I guess the moral of my baby weight loss dilemma and really any weight loss is that losing the weight really takes some good old fashioned hard work. I need to focus again on eating healthy and working out regularly. I am too stubborn to let myself keep this 10 pounds, so hopefully by the next post I will have lost a few a more. Wish me luck!

PS- My husband just walked in and said we need to go to the gym and have a marathon workout...guess that means 2 hours of working out to combat the recent laziness!


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sophistication Sunday - CoverGirl NatureLuxe Lip Balm Review

My sophistication muse, Audrey Hepburn
Photo Source

Sophistication Sundays will revolve around my favorite beauty finds, techniques, fashion trends and anything else "pretty" that catches my eye. I look forward to sharing these ideas with you and hope to hear your suggestions and feedback as well! I am no expert at beauty or fashion by any means but perhaps that will make my thoughts more relatable. Simply put, I'm just a girly-girl navigating my way through the fabulous finds I come across.


As a little girl I remember swiping my older sister's beauty magazines and pouring over the glossy pages. I particularly loved the CoverGirl ads featuring Nikki Taylor and Tyra Banks. I pined to wear their beautiful makeup and be just as fabulous and model-esque as both of them!!!

Photo Source

Anybody else remember these?? :) Seems like yesterday!

Unfortunately, wearing makeup was simply not allowed before I turned 13. I begged and pleaded with my mom and when she let me get clear mascara prior to the age of 13 (which does nothing) it was a BIG DEAL. So when I was finally allowed to wear makeup I just naturally gravitated towards Cover Girl products. It's amazing how much of an impression ads can make on someone, isn't it? :) I continued on this CoverGirl route throughout high school and I also worked well for me because their products were the most reasonably priced. But during college and most recent years I basically stopped using any kind of CoverGirl products. My skin changed along with my taste in makeup and CoverGirl just didn't deliver what I was looking for. That's not to say I didn't keep using drugstore brands, I just pretty much stopped using CoverGirl.

When I saw that T. Swizzle (read: Taylor Swift) was the new CoverGirl and was representing a new CG Line, NatureLuxe, it piqued my interest (again, the power of ads!).

I adore Taylor Swift and I thought I was happy to see they selected her as the new CoverGirl model. To me she is the All-American, girl next door kinda chick.

Now, to get to the point of this post, with all this hype I was anxious to try the NatureLuxe Lip Balm. I referenced this product in my post about coral and was actually in need of a new coral lip gloss since my Neutrogena MoistureShine Lip Sheer ran out.

Based on what I saw from the ads and what the product looked like in person I expected moisturizing, sheer color. Now when I say sheer I'm thinking sheer enough that it doesn't have the heaviness of lipstick but I'm still able to see a wash of color. Based on the array of rich colors I could see through the tubes I thought the product would be pretty similar to the Neutrogena Moisture Sheers.

To be honest I was kind of disappointed with this product :( I expected it to actually give my lips a some color and I honestly couldn't tell the difference between this lip balm and cherry chapstick. I felt like I paid $6 for ordinary chapstick. This is not to say that the color was completely transparent but I could barely tell the difference when I put it on.

The upside? It was definitely more moisturizing than what I usually get out of the Neutrogena MoistureSheers and it felt very soft on my lips. The NatureLuxe line is about giving light, soft coverage and while the Lip Balm did just this I thought it should have some color. Otherwise what is the point of having all those different shades to choose from?

Who knows, maybe it was just the coral shade I chose. Perhaps it works better with a different shade? Have you tried this product? Did you have better luck?

So the final verdict is if I had to do it all over again I probably wouldn't buy it. Live and learn, right? ;)

Have a great week, xoxo.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sophistication Sundays - Clinique Quickliner for Eyes

My sophistication muse, Audrey Hepburn

Sophistication Sundays will revolve around my favorite beauty finds, techniques, fashion trends and anything else "pretty" that catches my eye. I look forward to sharing these ideas with you and hope to hear your suggestions and feedback as well! I am no expert at beauty or fashion by any means but perhaps that will make my thoughts more relatable. Simply put, I'm just a girly-girl navigating my way through the fabulous finds I come across.

Aside from my beloved MAC Studio Finish Concealer there is another beauty product that I am completely devoted to: Clinique Quickliner for Eyes.

Now how I happened upon this eyeliner is actually kind of funny. When I was 13 years old my parents and I moved to a city in South Dakota which I now fondly refer to as home. However when I went through the moving process I was less than thrilled about changing school and starting over. Yes, I had done this before since we used to move about oh, every 3 years, but this time I was a teenager. Need I say more? Every. Thing. Is. SO. DRAMATIC!. Seriously, just not a fun time with all the hormones and awkwardness that ensues. I oftentimes look back on this age and just CRINGE when I remember some of the nerdy things I used to do! (*NSYNC posters anyone??) But that's all beside the point. The reason I am sharing this little story with you is because my mom was trying to find a way to perk up my spirits after leaving my BFF Roxy and moving to another city where I didn't know a soul. So she scheduled an appointment with the Clinique counter at the mall and took me there to have my makeup done. What a good Mommy, right? :)

So after my little "makeover" we made out way home with a nice little array of Clinique products, one of those being Clinique Quickliner. Nowadays the other products have fallen by the wayside because let's face it, I'm not going to only wear Clinique and some of it is pretty pricey! However, I cannot wear any kind of eyeliner EXCEPT for Clinique. I'm one of those people with horrible allergies and my eyes water constantly. I've tried to venture out and use other brands; even other hypoallergenic ones like Almay. But they just won't work on my eyes.

My favorite colors of the Quickliner are really black (which I wear about every day), dark chocolate, and brown black.
It has a twist up end which I love because how annoying would it be to have to sharpen the pencil each time? And the other side has a tip for smudging the eyeliner if you wish to soften the look or make it into a smokey eye. The best thing about this eyeliner is that it is EASY to apply and glides on effortlessly. When I buy the eyeliner I wait until their bonus time comes around and stock up so I can get a new makeup purse and sample products. Who doesn't love free stuff? (well, kind of free I guess!) The bonus bag usually comes with a full tube of lipstick as well. I am loving the pink shade they included in the Spring 2011 bonus bag.

I say when you're a woman you need products that you can always count on. Ladies, Clinique Quickliner is one of them.

Now i'd like to hear from you! Do you have a favorite eyeliner you use? Or a favorite beauty product? Let me know in the comments below!

Have a fabulous week, xoxo


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