Valentine’s Day Weekend

I hope everyone had a lovely long weekend! Despite the frigid temperatures, we had a fabulous weekend.

It all kicked off on Friday with a girls only  fondue night!

We had chocolate and cheese fondue and plenty of dipping options.

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On Valentine’s Day, Frank and I had a full day planned.

We  relaxed in the morning and watched some of our favorite food network shows.  Then I got a manicure before we met up to head to Dos Caminos for an amazing cooking class. I had gotten an email about a Valentine’s Day cooking class that included breakfast, unlimited cocktails, a cooking class with Ivy Stark, a four course lunch and a copy of the Dos Caminos Tacos cookbook. It was all for less than the cost of dinner for two,  so I signed Frank and I up.

We nibbled on some breakfast and had some delicious coffee before we were seated for the class.  Ivy Stark is the executive chef for all Dos Caminos and she was funny, talented and very witty.  She recently was featured in Well and Good, as she is on a mission to show people that mexican food can be healthy.

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From the second we sat down, the drinks were flowing, margaritas, sangria, tequila shots, it didn’t stop!  Frank and I did our best to pace ourselves, but the one thing that was totally worth it was the Mexican hot chocolate with chocolate tequila and passion fruit marshmallows.

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It was just insane.

We learned how to make blue cheese and fig  cheese empanadas, spiced rubbed filet minion with arbol chile sauce, chocolate mousse and mojito de limon tea.  Chef Ivy and Chef David were a great pair and answered all kinds of cooking questions.

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Then it was time for a four course lunch!

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We actually left before dessert was served  because we had a big dinner planned for the evening.

Can you guess where we went for Valentine’s Day?

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Dinner, dancing, old school New York?

If you guessed the Rainbow Room, you are right!  It recently reopened and it was a really fun way to have a very classic New York Valentine’s Day.  The live band was great and there were some amazing dancers on the floor.

The dinner menu was a nod to Rainbow Room classics with a modern twist.

We had a wide assortment of canapés and breads to start, that I forgot to photograph.

I asked for an alternative to the appetizer options and they suggested an endive salad, which was nice and light.

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Frank got the  amish chicken salad, which wasn’t what we expected, but was interesting.

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The seafood course was a delicious and perfectly prepared scallop.  I never order scallops because they are usually overcooked, but these were perfection.

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For my entree, I had the dover sole with crab tortellini.  Again, nice and light.

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To finish, we shared the baked alaska, which I had never had–so retro. It was our favorite course of the night.  Do you see the igloo?

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We had a great night.

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They gave us (well, me) a rose and some chocolates and a few petite fours to finish of the evening.

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It was a perfect day from start to finish.

On Sunday, we hung out with our furry Valentine.  Petty’s rigorous workout schedule included some yoga.

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He also enjoyed some time cuddled up on the couch.

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On Sunday, we had brunch with friends at Norma’s, which happens to be participating in restaurant week!

A weekend filled with my favorite people and my favorite puppy, I couldn’t ask for anything more!

 

Barry’s Bootcamp Academy Week 1 Recap

I can’t believe I’m already looking back at my first week of Barry’s Bootcamp Academy.  5/20 classes in February are done!

If I had to sum up my thoughts on the week in one sentence it would be: it could have been worse.

Prior to starting week 1 I wasn’t sure I would be able to handle 2, let alone 5, back to back Barry’s Bootcamp classes in a row. I’d never taken more than 2 classes a week and I’d never taken 2 classes on consecutive days.  I thought I’d be wrecked by the third day. My main and worst fear was that I’d be injured the first week and have to throw away the rest of the month and a ton of money.

Fortunately, none of that happened.  I made it through all five classes with the expected and appropriate amount of soreness.  A bit of icing was all I really needed to keep  myself together week 1.

The nice thing about Barry’s is that each day of the work week focuses on different muscle groups. Monday is abs and arms.  Tuesday is legs and glutes. Wednesday is arms, abs and chest.  Thursday is hard core abs and Friday is full body.

Even though only two days are officially arms days, there is still way more arm work than I would ever do on my own and sometimes it seems like everyday is arms day, you get through it. I will say that I can rarely do even the lightest of the recommended weight range and I often have to drop down further. When I try to take the weights they recommend, I typically can only do 30% of the workout.  I’m one part wimp and they are one part insane!

Goals for Week 1:

  • Don’t drink alcohol Mon-Thurs.: Fail. I had a glass of wine at the cocktail hour on Tuesday.
  • Finish Week 1: check

I was starving pretty much the whole week, so I ended up gaining weight. I’m hoping at least a bit of that is muscle–see notes about heavy weights above.

Goals for Week 2:

  • Don’t Drink Alcohol Mon-Thurs.
  • Finish Week 2
  • Less snacking in general, but definitely less snacking on crap.
  • Make more dinners at home
  • Increase sprints by .5 MPH

Just one overall observation was that I had 4 different instructors week 1, which was great. I loved the music in each and every class.  It basically made it all worth it.

Valentine Gift Guide for Him

I used to have a hard time buying gifts for guys.  However, I now find it pretty easy to pick out a gift for Frank.   We tend to celebrate small and big events alike and Valentine’s Day is no exception.  If you are looking for last minute gifts for him, here are a few ideas…

A Slim Wallet 

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This one from Vineyard Vines is perfect for a night out because he  can tuck in just the essentials and lose the bulk of a traditional wallet. It’s like a clutch for dudes. $58

Buffalo Nickel Cufflinks

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Cufflinks are one of my go to gifts.  These Buffalo Nickel pair is really fun.  $98 from Brooks Brothers, but I think etsy has them too.

Tom Tom Multi Sport Cardio Watch

 

 

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If you’ve got a bit more to spend, this sports watch has a built in heart rate monitor (no annoying chest strap!), GPS and can track cadence and altitude. $299. Tom Tom is offering 20% off 12:01AM from 2/12 – 2/14 using code  20% off the MS Cardio.

Personalized Golf Markers

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Golf anything works for Frank. But I really like these brushed brass magnetic golf markers customized with initials. $17 for two.

Cocktail Making Kit

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This kit will help him make a bar worthy cocktail at home. Shaken or stirred? $39.99

HOMEMADE IDEAS

Valentine’s Day is a great time to make something truly from the heart.

Love Letters

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A thoughtful love letter is perhaps the best gift around, and Feb. 14th is a good reason to finally write one to your love. Check out Rachel’s article, Tips for Writing an Amazing Love Letter, to help you get started.

Why You’re Awesome

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If you need a bit more of a guide, this book is funny, romantic and charming all in one. You fill it out madlibs style with a sweet thought on every page. $10 Urban Outfitters.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

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In high school one of my girlfriends had a chocolate making and cookie making Valentine’s Day pre-party every year.  A bunch of girls would get together and make tons of sweets and then deliver them to our crushes/boyfriends/friends.  This year, I’m reviving the tradition by having a girl’s night fondue party.  While we’ll be eating a lot of chocolate covered goodness ourselves, we’ll also be making some for our Valentine’s.

Those are my suggestions.  What are yours?

If you’re looking for something for a lady, you can check out my holiday gift guide for sporty ideas.

 

Day in the Life

February is off to a good start.  Honestly, February feels more like the start of the year to me than January did.  I thought a Day in the Life post would be appropriate, as February has been sort of a new beginning for me. Tuesday, February 3, 2015.

6:20am-Alarm goes off.  I let Pettitte out of his kennel and take him out for a quick bathroom break.

6:30am-I put on the work out clothes that I laid out the night before and throw my hair in a ponytail.

6:33am–I play with Pettitte and kind of laze around a bit and prepare Pettitte’s kong filled with peanut butter and blue buffalo.

6:45: Frank seems to be ready to go, so I put on an extra layer of pants and a sweatshirt, my jacket, hat and scarf.

6:48: I show Pettitte the peanut butter kong and he sprints for his kennel. I tuck him in with the kong and a toy and he enjoys breakfast as we slip out the door. We’ve found giving him breakfast in the kennel has totally ended any crying when we leave.

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6:50am-We walk to Barry’s bootcamp in the 15 degree weather. Brrr.  But we are signed up for the academy, so we have 18 more early morning walks to enjoy before the month is out.

7:00AM: We arrive at Barry’s and brave the crazy locker rooms to drop off our belongings and switch from boots to sneakers.

7:10am: Class starts. It’s legs and flutes day and I start on the floor.  I generally think that all the barry’s trainers are fantastic, unfortunately, this might be the one that got away. The strength moves are way overcomplicated and he never makes it near my end of the room to check form. Fortunately, the running segment is much better.  We have another set of strength and running and we are done. Since we are running overtime, almost everyone has skipped stretching, but I know I’m going to need every stretch I can get if I am going to make it through the academy.

8:15am: I head home.

8:25am: I give Pettitte breakfast part two in his tricky treat ball. He enjoys this while I take a 2 minute shower and throw dry shampoo in my hair.

8:35am I get dressed and do my make up, which consists only of moisturizer, powder and mascara.

8:45am: I read a few emails and play with pettitte for a few more minutes.

8:55am: I put Pettitte in his kennel and head to work.

9:00am: I’m at work.  This is the beauty of basically no commute. I work quickly to finish up a few things before my morning meetings start.

9:30am I dig into the yogurt and cereal I packed for breakfast.

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9:50am  I send one last email and head to my chair meeting which is followed by a committee meeting.

11:40am Meetings are over, so I head to my downtown office.  I have two different offices–note the different colors of the desks.  I generally try to work in one or the other each day, but that rarely works out. At least I get exercise.

12:00pm: Work, work work.

1:30pm: Lunch arrives from Fresh and Co. I love Fresh and Co.  I think they have a lot more variety in ingredients than chopt–for example, they have daiya vegan cheese, brussel sprouts, and all kinds of yumminess.  Their seasonal salads are always fabulous too. I’d eat there everyday if it wasn’t so expensive! $16 later, my lunch: The Sante Fe Salad, chicken, onions, tomatoes, kale, cheese, corn and avocado. Plus, the low fat tex mex dressing that is so nice and spicy.

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2:00PM A marathon of meetings starts and doesn’t end until 4:45pm.

4:45-5:20pm: I finish up a few things, but don’t even make a dent. Fortunately or unfortunately, I work until 11pm on Wednesdays, so I’ll have plenty of time to get caught up tomorrow.

5:25pm: Greet and walk Pettitte.  He has to do a whole long wag, stretch and hide under the coffee table routine before he’ll go for a walk and he will NOT be rushed.

5:45pm-6:00pm: Back from the walk. I feed Petty in his treat ball. The best trainer advice I got was to never feed a puppy in a bowl.  The ball method gives him some extra exercise. I play with Petty/try to keep him from  chewing up absolutely everything in the house. 7 months is a  very challenging age.

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6:00pm-6:30pm: I hop in the shower, do my make up and get dressed–while still trying to keep the beagle in check.

6:30pm: I hop in a cab to the Princeton Club where I am meeting Frank for an Emory in Your City Alumni Event.  It’s a cocktail reception and lecture about how a dog’s brain works.  The ride is slow, so I open feedly and read Meghann’s post on the WDW 44 Challenge while I sit in traffic.  I  enjoy the post so much that I actually don’t even mind until I finish the post and look at the meter.

7:00pm-8:30pm: I enjoy a few too many passed appetizers and a small glass of wine at the cocktail reception. The lecture is fascinating, if you are into dogs, I suggest you check out the book How Dogs Love Us. 

8:30-9:45pm: Frank and I walk to Ammos Estario for some dinner. We share the  greek salad and zucchini fritters. I also have a few bites of Frank’s fish. Too bad I don’t have a picture of the salad because it was stunning.

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We hop on the subway and our home by 10pm, just in time for Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce–LOVE.

10:00-11:30pm: We watch Girlfriend’s Guide and play with Pettitte.  I feel bad he hasn’t gotten much attention today, so I book him a spot in day care for Friday and confirm his mid-day dog walkers for the next three months.

11:30pm: Brush teeth, remove makeup and go to bed.

Soul Cycle Review

Gosh, this review has taken me a long time to even attempt to write!  My love of SoulCycle is somewhat complex.  You see, people seem to either love or hate SoulCycle, even my most trusted sources seem to disagree.  For example, Kelly Ripa (who introduced me to Physique 57 and changed my life) loves it.  Well and Good, who I adore and respect, has some mixed reviews.  Neither is Andy Cohen for that matter.

Anyways, maybe I am getting ahead of myself.

What is SoulCycle?

It’s a boutique indoor cycling studio with 36 locations in 8 states and not one but two cute logos!

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 The Studios: SoulCycle studios are shiny, sleek and clean in fresh white and sunny yellow.  They are spotlessly clean with high end bathroom amenities. I will say that the studios vary in size by location. I’ve taken most of my classes at the NoHo location, which is large and bright with a more than ample locker area. On the other hand, the Union Square location is teeny tiny and the locker area is a madhouse. Did I mention that the Union Square location is a three minute walk from the location one block up on 19th street?  Crazy! The classes are that packed!

The studio itself has high quality bikes in stadium style seating.The bikes are pretty close together and have no measurement of resistance or RPMs–it’s a feeling not a calculation.  Most classes are done in candlelight, which adds a nice ambience. Also there are 2 pound weights that rest on the back of the bike.

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The Workout:

45-60 minutes of spinning to upbeat music.  There is a mind body element–it’s sort of zen/yoga-esque.  You are encouraged to let go of your day and focus on your workout.  My classes have been heavy on the push ups and bike dancing, which I love. I always feel like I am being pumped with happy endorphins. However, the classes are very low on resistance, so you really have to self regulate to feel the burn.  There is a short weights section done with very light weights. This is followed by a cool down, where most people really bliss out!

What I love: I love how fun SoulCycle is!  It is literally a joy to be there.  The class is a non-stop good time with a side of work out. If I’ve had a rough day and just need to get away from it all for an hour; I immediately book a soul cycle class. I also think the instructors are very good and the front desk staff is always super friendly and welcoming. The general vibe of the place is great, it feels young, fun and a little bit fancy.

Why I’m not head over heels:  While I really enjoy soul cycle classes, I don’t think I get quite as good a workout as I do at Flywheel or even other similar studios. I like having the accountability of the RPM and resistance gauge. It ensures I push myself to the max. I don’t always leave spent At SoulCycle, I really have to keep on my resistance because it’s rarely even mentioned, so you can spin your heart out without really burning anything if you aren’t careful. On the plus side, SoulCycle will never bulk you up the way Tracy Anderson claims most spinning studios do. As a friend put it, “I feel like I can go to Soul Cycle if I’m a little bit sick”, meaning you can kind of phone it in if you want to.  For example, the 2 pound weights that are attached to your bike are pretty wimpy, you have to take it upon yourself to pick up heavier weights at the front of the class.

Bottom line: If you are someone who can push yourself without someone screaming in your face and telling you exactly how hard to push, SoulCycle will be perfect for you. If you want your workout to actually feel enjoyable, Soul Cycle will be perfect for you. However, if you pay to get whipped into shape, Soul Cycle may not get you there, even though you will leave with a smile plastered across your face.

Cost: A single ride in NYC is $34, your first ride is $20.

Fitness Lover’s Gift Guide

We are down to the wire, but if you are looking for last minute gifts, here are gift ideas at every price point for the fitness lover in your life (or yourself).

Under $25

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Eos Lip Balms are just the best! They are great for preventing chapping on those winter runs.  $4.99–available at any drugstore

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Runner’s World Subscription.  The gift that keeps on giving–I look forward to seeing this in my mailbox each month, although it’s probably time to go for the iPad subscription at this point. $12

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Choosing Raw Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat. A beautifully written book inspired by the beautifully written blog.  I love this book because it is so much more than recipes; it helps you make practical, achievable, healthful changes no matter what your relationship with food. $13

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Gift Certificate to Liquiteria, Hu Kitchen or any local health food spot.  Perfect for post-workout recovery.

Under $50

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C9 Printed Leggings: These come in all kinds of fun colors and prints and they are under $30! I’ve been wearing mine nonstop. It’s a good way test out the print trend at an affordable price point.

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C9 Space Dye Pullover This is another great Target find! It’s cozy and cute.  It’s really warm, so you can wear it in lieu of a jacket for most of the winter.

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Gift Cards to Their (Your) Favorite Studio.  May I suggest Refine, Uplift, Barry’s Bootcamp, Soul Cycle, Flywheel, Mile High Run Club and City Row? $30-35

Under $100

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Erica Sarah race necklace. On my list every year.  They are the perfect combination of inspiration, victory and elegance. Around $50

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Athleta Triangular Be Free Tight Pricey, but Athleta has had the most gorgeous printed tights this year.  I want them all. Bonus, they have a wide range of size options! $74

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New Balance Wind Blocker Half Zip Let’s face it, wind is what really makes cold weather running tough.  This top will help stop wind in its tracks so you can journey on.  Plus, I love the side detail along the neckline. $99

Under $175

Finally, some splurges!

shoppingThe Soda Stream Revolution Starter Pack.  We got this as a wedding gift and it’s the best! I love that it has four different fizz settings, so if you are more of a Pelligrino than a Canada Dry, you are all set. As someone who is not a water enthusiast, this thing keeps me hydrated. Bed, Bath and Beyond usually has them, so snag one with a 20% off coupon! $174

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New Balance Fresh Foams. My favorite new shoe of the year!  I use these for running as well as pretty much all my workout classes. Plus, they are super light if you are lugging them around pre or post workout. $110

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Lululemon Weekend Warrior Bag I’m going to admit that I’ve never owned any Lululemon workout bag, but I’ve always wanted one!  I can never justify the price, but as workout bags go, you can’t find many with better style and function. No matter how much schlepping you have to do, this bag has you covered with room for your laptop, yoga mat and water bottle, plus wet/dry compartments for swim gear, dirty shoes and sweaty apparel. $148

New Balance Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered the New Balance Giveaway!  The winner of the $75 gift card is :

True Random Number Generator  11

I really really want the glow beacon vest!

Congratulations, Ash!  The drawing was totally random–I promise!  Enjoy the glow beacon vest!

I hope everyone is having a great weekend! I’m hoping to get through a bunch of errands and organizing, including:

  • Get 3 loads of laundry out of the  dryer and fold and put them away.  I don’t mind doing the washing and drying, but the folding and putting away kills me.
  • Finish holiday decorating–currently 75% complete
  • Continue throwing out things we don’t use, we are doing this slowing and trying to get rid of 2 garbage bags full of stuff each weekend until we have less clutter!
  • Finish some birthday and Christmas shopping–all online
  • Grocery shop and start prepping for large dinner party on Thursday
  • Make dinner for tonight, I promised Frank I’d make this PW recipe.
  • Take Pettitte to dog school
  • Organize the chaos that we currently call a bedroom
  • Wash dishes

If I get through all of that, I will be thrilled!  Better get moving.photo-6

Winter Workout Playlist 2014

It’s time for a playlist.  I have to say the end of Gossip Girl has left a serious void in my life where fun indie music finds used to be.  However, I’m liking the sort of throwback vibe of a lot of the songs on this list.  Here are some songs to help your work up a sweat as the temperature drops.Various-Artists-Workout-Music-300x300

Ghost-Ella Henderson
Animal-Maroon 5
Uptown Funk-Mark Ronson
Bang Bang-Jessie J
Habits-Tove Lo
Cool Kids-Echosmith
Shake it Out-Taylor Swift
Lips are Movin‘-Meghan Trainor

Also, don’t forget to enter my New Balance Giveaway!

New Balance $75 Giveaway

In September I ran the Reach the Beach Relay as part of New Balance‘s media team.  It was a great experience and I got to check out a lot of great gear, almost all of which I wear on a weekly basis.  I love New Balance  and their products so much that I wanted to do a giveaway for readers!

Before I get into the giveaway details, I wanted to share a few of my favorites…

The ice racerback this tank is paper thin and perfect on a hot day…or for hot yoga. The racer back really adds to the style of the top.

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The first are the Fresh Foam running shoes.  They are light and springy!  I wore them in the last leg of RTB and they pushed me through a tough final 3.1 miles. I wear these all the time and get lots of compliments.  They come in road and trail versions. photo 4

Fresh Foam 980

w980pp_nb_31_iIf you are looking for a light shoe that still has plenty of cushioning, this is it.

My  other favorites are from the Anue studio apparel line.

I love this light long sleeve top with the sheer patterned back. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look to be available right now, but maybe something similar will pop up soon.

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And the burn out wrap–which is available! It’s literally the perfect top to throw on to head to the gym or a class. It even has pockets-POCKETS!

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 The Giveaway:

To enter to win a $75 New Balance Gift Card, just go to the New Balance site and leave a comment telling me what item you’d most like to add to your fitness collection by Friday, Dec, 5th at 9:00AM EST.

Winner will be announced on Friday, Dec. 5th.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday

After being quite sick for over a week, I’m finally on the mend–I hope.  Phew, I was just about to break down and go to the walk in clinic or my actual doctor!  Sorry to all my co-workers for refusing to  take sick days–I promise I always cover my cough.

Today has been both lazy and busy, Frank’s at work, so I’ve had all kinds of thoughts and nobody to share them with, thank god for blogs, right?

Here are just a few things on my mind, feel free to chime in!

Thanksgiving Live: I love Thanksgiving specials on the Food Network, but apparently, no Thanksgiving Live this year.  Was is because of the very awkward on air feud between my beloved Giada and Alton Brown last year?

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I guess Food Network isn’t taking any chances this year. I wonder if Giada and Alton have spoken since!

Petty is So Cute in his Petticoats

I’ve gone a bit nuts with buying winter clothes for Pettitte.  He’s pretty much always better dressed than me when we go out.  That said, the poor dog is still cold even in his jackets.  The sweater+jacket combo seems like overkill, but it might be necessary. We managed to make it to the vet for a bordella shot, then to petco to make up for the shot, and then a quick trip to the Union Square Dog Park.  It was my first time at that dog park, the dogs there were so nice and Petty had a blast, but it smelled terrible. Not sure if I’ll be back.

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Sweatpants

Is it acceptable to wear sweatpants until I change for a 9:30PM dinner?  I think the answer is no, but I will likely disregard my own advice.

Shake it Out

Will I ever get Shake it Out, out of my head? It’s been weeks.  This is so embarrassing, I need to download something new stat.

Andy Cohen

I read both of Andy Cohen’s books, Most Talkative and The Andy Cohen Diaries in a couple days.  I love Andy. I love Wacha.  How have I never run into him? We seem to go to a lot of the same places in the village.

Giveaway

Most excitingly, I have an awesome giveaway planned! It’ll be up in a couple days, if not sooner.  You won’t want to miss it.

What are you thinking about this Saturday?