Monthly Archives: July 2010

Bridesmaids’ Luncheon

I had an awesome 10 mile run this morning!

I started off with a thin slice of Dakota bread with some PB & banana and even had enough time for coffee.  I like to drink coffee before long runs because I drink it every morning and I don’t think you should do anything too outside your regularly scheduled programming.  However, sometimes before early races, I don’t have time for coffee.

Like I said, the run was great!  I ran with Jen and it was wonderful to have someone to talk to for 10 miles.  As we chatted, the time just flew by.  Before I knew it we had covered 5, then 8, then 9 miles! The last mile was a big hill, but we got through it and pounded out the last few tenths of a mile on flat terrain.  It was great!  The weather was just perfect.  A little humid but the temperature was only in the 70’s.  Such a nice change from the high temperatures we’ve been experiencing early in the morning.

My face gets really red when running.

When I returned my sweet guy made me this green monster for breakfast #2.

1/2 frozen banana

1 scoop chocolate Amazing Meal

1/2 scoop chocolate whey protein

1 cup frozen spinach

1 cup almond milk

5 mint leaves

It was delicious!  I’m experimenting with putting mint leaves in my smoothies.  I think I’ll try more next time.  I don’t want it to be too minty so I’m trying it a little at a time.

Coffee #2 was a must! Have you heard that coffee might possibly help muscle recovery after runs?  I first heard about it in a Runner’s World article, which you can read here.

After getting ready, it was time for my bridesmaid luncheon.

I held a luncheon in honor of my bridesmaid at 300 East in Charlotte.   They were really easy to work with.  Picking my menu was super easy because I love their simple but delicious food.  Their pastry chef even called me personally to give me a consultation on what she could do.

The Menu


Hummus plate with veggies and pita chips

Housemade Pimento Cheese with crackers and veggies

Guacamole with salsa and tortilla chips


Sonoma Salad ~ Red Potatoes, Avocado, Grape Tomatoes & Dijon Dressing over Baby Greens, with Grilled Chicken, Grilled Shrimp, or Lump Crabmeat

Fig and Prosciutto Pizza ~ with Gorgonzola & Grilled Fruit

Grilled Chicken and Pesto ~ with Roasted Red Peppers and Provolone on Focaccia

Grilled Portobello Sandwich ~ Gorgonzola, Arugula, Red Onion, Tomato Salad & Sherry Vinaigrette on an Onion Roll

Special Drinks:

Peach Bellinis, Mimosas, Honig Saugvignon Blanc


Key Lime Pie with Raspberries and Raspberry Sauce

I had a great time picking out this menu! 🙂

The table with one of the bridesmaid’s gift and a photo of me.  My aunt found this photo of me a few days ago.  I was two years old and it was taken at her bridesmaid luncheon 25 years ago.  If you could see it more closely, you know notice that I used to be a blonde!  Funny, because my hair is almost black now.

Some of the girls and my family before everyone arrived.

While appetizers were passed around, I had a club soda with a splash of cranberry juice.  I also drank a full glass of water to rehydrate.  Don’t worry, I enjoyed myself.  I soon switched to a peach Bellini.

The bridesmaids’ gifts were a necklace and earring set I handmade.  I took a class to learn how to make the “branch-style” necklace, but made each necklace differently.  The one pictured above is Candace’s set.  I used sterling silver wire, hooks, and chain, topaz, Swarovski crystals, and mother of pearl.  The earrings are mother of pearl to match.  I’m really proud of these necklaces because I have never done anything like it before.  It was really important to me to give them something nice and something that reflects myself.

My (3rd) cousin Marie and wedding director, my grandmother, and my aunt.

A candid photo of the table.

My cousin April, Brittney, and my sister-in-law Jen.

I somehow missed taking shots of the apps, but let’s move on to the entrees.

I ordered the Sonoma Salad with shrimp.  I always eye this salad, but have never ordered it.  I’ll pretty much eat anything with avocado on top.  I also had a glass of the Honig at this point in the meal.  I chose this wine because Brad and I visited Honig winery on our day-long trip to Napa.  It is our top recommendation to anyone going to Napa.  Small and intimate, they give you a lot of attention and we absolutely love d it.

Candace (my matron of honor) ordered the fig and prosciutto pizza, as did a lot of people.  If you try 300 East, you’ve got to try this.  It’s one of my favorite things on their menu.  Salty sweet combos are always my favorite!

I had about 1/2 of my key lime pie.  It was the perfect balance of sweet and tart.  Scrumptious.

300 East is so cute!  I love the fireplaces with iron fronts, all over the old house turned restaurant.

Just the bridesmaids (and me!): April, Ashlyn, Candace, me, Jen, and Brittney.

Two shots of the whole group.

I had a really nice time talking to everyone and involving Brad’s mom and grandmother into getting to know the women in my family and my friends.  Each of my bridesmaids are so special to me, so honoring them and the commitment it takes to be a bridesmaid was very important to me.  It was also really nice to have a wedding festivity that didn’t center around me.  I prefer to be the hostess way more than the guest of honor.

300 East was a dream to work with.  The food was perfect and the staff was extremely helpful and hospitable.

After the bridemaid luncheon we all hit up this super cute consignment boutique around the corner, called Sweet Repeats, which has really swank, barely used stuff.

It was a great day to celebrate with the women I love! 🙂


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Filed under Breakfast, Restaurants, running

Hawthorne’s Pizza

Two weeks ago when Brad’s mom and grandma was in town, we did Customshop for dinner.  This time we wanted to go out for pizza.  Brad wanted to try Hawthorne’s NY Pizza & Bar, a popular pizza place in the Elizabeth neighborhood of Charlotte.

It was slightly muggy but pretty nice outside since the sun was starting to go down, so we asked to sit on the patio where it was quiet and we could talk.

Brad and I both rocked our aviators. 🙂

This lady will be my mother-in-law in 7 days.  🙂

Brad and grandma in matching brown t-shirts.

Studying the wine list.

I went with the Friday white wine special (haha, I typed whine instead of wine), a Sauvignon Blanc.

We ordered two 18″ inch pizzas: one veggie and one basil and tomato, both had 1/2 pepperoni per Brad’s request.

I had one of each…

…sans pepperoni.

I liked the veggie more than the basil and tomato because it had marinara, while the basil tomato had no sauce.  I much prefer marinara and lots of it.  I usually request extra, bur our waiter never made it back to our table.  The pizza was delicious and I think the carbs will be well-spent.

I spent the rest of the night wrapping my bridesmaids’ gifts, with which Brad was so sweet to help me, blogging….and now…

I’ve got to head to bed stat, because I’m running 10 miles with Jen tomorrow at 7 am!


Filed under Restaurants

It’s not easy eating green

I haven’t eaten as many greens this week as I usually do and part of the reason is that we’re going out of town in a week and I don’t want to spend a bunch of money on produce.  Today, I seriously made a dent in my frozen veggie collection.

First off, I started with the worlds ugliest, but still tastey, SIAB.

Why so ugly?

I was a little spacey when I woke up this morning and initially forgot to put in the vanilla whey protein.  I had a fully assembled SIAB with granola on top.  I had to remove the granola, put the smoothie back in the vitamix, add the whey, then reassembled with the granola.  That’s why you can barely see the granola and why it’s a darker green.  I also went a little crazy with the frozen spinach.  This is a peach SIAB.

1/2 frozen banana

1 huge sliced peach

1 cup almond milk

1 scoop vanilla whey protein

1/4 tsp. xanthan gum

bit of Stevia

heavy on the cranberry flax granola

It reminds me the slime they used on You Can’t Do That on Television. Look familiar?

My morning was spent working from home, a break for No More Trouble Zones, and my photographer dropped off my bridal portrait.

I used leftover un-chicken fried rice, sans egg white and added frozen green beans and peas, which I roasted until they were slightly crispy.   Then I added a Dr. Paeager’s veggie burger.

This looks huge but was only 1/2 cup quinoa.  The loads of veggies really bulked it up.

Early afternoon, Brad and I headed to the Register of Deeds to get our marriage license, which took forever.  We initially tried to go in through the county courthouse, but they wouldn’t let me in because of my camera.  What a dumb rule, everybody has a camera on their phone and phones are totally allowed.  So weired.

Luckily we could go into the Register of Deeds office from another side of the building.  The whole process took longer than I expected and I think everyone waiting with us were plotting to stage a coup by the time we left.

Next, was a quick trip to Target where I tried this.

It’s just water with a very small hint of blackberry.  I liked it!

Lunch was pretty filling and I didn’t get hungry until 5:30 pm, which was great because we’re probably going to have a later dinner than usual with Brad’s mom and grandmother.  They’re coming into town for my bridesmaid’s luncheon tomorrow.  I’m so excited about giving them their gifts!

Happy weekend!


Filed under Breakfast, Lunch, Uncategorized

Sushi at Enso

Yesterday evening, I arrived home from work to find this.

Wedding presents!  I received some of my very first Vietri dishes!

Vietri dishes are made in Italy, but Vietri is a North Carolina company.  I first learned of the company driving back to Raleigh from Charlotte (back when I was in grad school and visiting Brad on the weekends).  I often listen to NPR (because I’m a 80 years old) and while I was driving WUNC (NC Public Radio) did an interview with Susan and Frances Gravely, founders of Vietri.  They told a really lovely story about how they traveled to Italy with the mother in the 80’s and loved the Italian pottery so much they started importing it to sell it in the U.S.  You can hear the story here or read a shorter version here.

I just love beautiful dishes so in lieu of “fine china” I decided to go with Vietri’s intricate Italian pottery, which is handmade so every piece is just a little different.  It’s just beautiful.  I can’t wait to make a fancy meal (maybe Italian?) and plate it on my pale blue dishes and show it to you. 🙂  Maybe I’ll learn a thing or two on my Italian honeymoon.

After tearing into the boxes, Brad said the magical words for someone who worked all day and spent two hours commuting: “Honey, you shouldn’t have to cook tonight, let’s go out and get sushi”.

Well, if you insist.

To put it nicely, I haven’t been extremely impressed with the sushi scene in Charlotte.  Our favorite is Sushi 101 and Ru San’s is pretty good too (although they could probably benefit from a new website).  Since we live Uptown, we wanted to walk to a sushi restaurant and decided to try Enso since we’ve never tried it before.

Enso is a part of the Epicentre which is a complex in Uptown Charlotte with some dining, a couple of stores, but mostly bars and clubs.  It’s really not our scene, but we go every once in a while to try a new restaurant or take advantage of their movie theater which is 18+ after 7 pm (awesome).

I started off with a seaweed salad that also had some micro greens.  It was pretty yummy.

Hi Brad.

For sushi, I ordered the eel and avocado Maki roll.

I also had two Yellowtail tuna Nigiri, with plenty of wasabi.

Brad and two make rolls: spicy tuna and the eel and avocado.  He also had the tamago (egg) Nigiri and the mackerel Nigiri.

Enso was very trendy and a little pricey. The sushi was fresh and they had some very interesting rolls I would like to try.  I just wasn’t in the mood for huge rolls with tempura and 9 different toppings last night.  Sushi 101 is definitely still my favorite Charlotte sushi restaurant, especially because of their reasonable prices.

After dinner, we dropped by the The Wooden Vine which we went to last Thursday for a Tuscan wine tasting.  We are all about all things Italian lately. 😉  We really loved the Satta Costa Di Giulia (similar to a Sauvignon Blanc) and the La Mozza I Perazzi (a bold Sangiovese blend), so Brad bought a bottle of each.  The had to be ordered and shipped so last night was the perfect opportunity to pick them up.

Soon upon returning home, Brad headed to bed around 9 pm.  He’s been traveling for work since Monday and often does not get the sleep he needs in hotel rooms.  I stayed up until just after 11 to do some bloggy stuff, then turned in for the night.

To keep with the theme, here are some interesting Italian proverbs about marriage:

Ne di Venere Ne di Marte non si sposa ne si parte! – Neither marriage nor war will go away once you start

La buona moglie fa il buon marito – A good wife makes a good husband

La moglie e’ la chiave di casa – A good wife is the key to a good home

Meglio il marito senz’amore, che con gelosia – Better to have a husband without love than one who is jealous


Filed under Restaurants

Coconut Millet

Ready for my example of complimentary proteins?

For lunch I had coconut millet and tempeh + mango salsa, with two plums on the side.

The millet was deliciously coconutty. 🙂

Coconut Millet: (2 servings)

1/2 cup millet

1/2 cup light coconut milk

1/2 cup coconut water

Toast millet in a pan on medium high heat until the millet becomes fragrant.  Meanwhile begin heating the coconut milk and coconut water in a saucepan until it starts to boil.  Turn heat down to medium and add millet once it is toasted.  Allow millet to simmer until all liquid is dissolved.

I also cut a block of tempeh into fourths and sauteed each piece until they were browned on both sides.  I added the tempeh to the coconut millet and topped with the last of my mango salsa.

A few hours later, I was ready for a snack.

2% Greek Yogurt, frozen strawberries (nuked), and my homemade cranberry flax granola.

I love it when there’s just enough yogurt left to take the whole container.  It’s as easy as oats in a jar, container included.

I like my parfaits the best because they’re not very sweet.  The only real sweetness comes from the strawberries because my granola has such little sugar and plain yogurt has no added sweetner of course.

The iPhone photos does not do this justice.

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Filed under Uncategorized

Questions answered

Hi all!

Good news on the home front.   Rascal made it through the night without getting sick.  I have a feeling that the little booger got into something at my aunt’s house yesterday.  He’s such a devious little guy, always looking for the crumb someone dropped, the pantry door left open, the new person invited to dinner who doesn’t know table scraps are not allowed…

But it’s his rascal-i-ness that makes him so lovable too.

Just look at that face!  How could you not love him?

Thanks for all the concerned tweets and comments.  In all honesty, Rascal has a sensitive stomach so this is not the first time it has happened, nor will it probably be the last.  That is why I travel with baby wipes.  Dogs teach you the very basics of  Children 101.

Breakfast this morning was the same as Monday morning, and since I left my camera at home, you get the same photo.

This time however, I could not finish my peach, which may have been even bigger than the one pictured here.  I only ate a little over half, probably due to my snack before bed time.  Note to self: when a peach is as big as your head, cut it in half, just in case you can’t finish it.

Besides questions about Rascal, I got two other questions in blog comments recently, which I thought I should address here just in case anyone else is wondering.

Jen asked: Can you tell me the instructions for cooking the brussel sprouts?

Sure, I can!  But I really wish I knew where I found this combination of flavors.

For fresh brussel sprouts:

–  Clean them and chop them in halves or thirds depending on their size

– Saute with  a bit of olive oil in a pan

– Once they start to brown add about 1 Tbsp. of Sriracha sauce (for one person – add more if you’re making enough for two people or if you just like a lot of spiciness).  I stir them around with my spatula so everybody gets a little Sriracha sauce.

– Add one large pinch of a large grain salt like kosher salt or sea salt

– Just before they’re done (I like mine pretty crispy and brown), add a pinch of brown sugar (~ 1/2 tsp.)

– Serve immediately because who likes cold brussels

Now, this isn’t exactly what I did last night but this version is much better.  I haven’t bought brussel sprouts in a while because they’re not in season, so all I had were frozen brussel sprouts…tiny ones.  So, I thawed them in the microwave first (1-2 minutes) then I put them directly in the pan.  I didn’t half them because they were so small.

This version works “okay”, but to get the real experience, go with fresh brussels, which get much crispier.  There’s just something about that spicy and slightly sweet combination. 🙂

My second question of the day was from my friend Jess.

I couldn’t find if you’d already wrote about this on your site…so I googled it and still have questions.  Bragg’s Amino Acids…what exactly is it?  Is it like a supplement, kinda like adding flax seed? do tell do tell 🙂

Well first of all, I don’t know why I keep calling it Bragg’s Amino Acids, because it’s actually called Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, which contains 16 amino acids. Bragg’s says that it’s a “gourmet alternative to soy sauce”, so let’s compare.

Soy Sauce – top

Bragg’s – bottom

When comparing these two nutrition labels, please keep one important point in mind.  The serving size for soy sauce is one tablespoon while the serving size for Bragg’s is 1/2 tsp.  So even though it looks like soy sauce has much more sodium, in reality a tablespoon of Bragg’s has 960 mg of sodium while soy sauce has about 46 mg more with 1006 mg total in an equivalent serving.  However, the taste of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos is much stronger than soy sauce so you’ll need much less to get the same taste intensity.   Use less = less sodium.

Some of the listed health benefits of Bragg’s come from what it does not contain:

no chemicals
no artificial coloring
no alcohol
no preservatives
no Gluten
Certified NON-GMO

However, there are brands of soy sauce that have no gluten, no chemicals, and no GMO’s.  San-J is an example of a soy sauce that adheres to almost all of these standards except one: it contains alcohol.  However, I’m not so sure why alcohol would be such a negative ingredient. (?)

From what I can tell, the real difference between Bragg’s liquid aminos and soy sauce is that Bragg’s amino acids are live.  This food product is made by fermentation, not by processing.  So if you are a raw foodist, you might prefer Bragg’s.

During my brief stint in researching Bragg’s Liquid Amino’s I found this interesting blog post about Bragg’s and MSG.

To be fair, please also see Bragg’s take on MSG here (5th paragraph under Summary of Basic Findings).

So will I continue to use Bragg’s?  Probably until the bottle runs out.  It’s way more expensive than soy sauce so I purchased the smallest bottle.  I’m not a raw foodest so although I really enjoy raw fruits, veggies, and fish, I’m not going to spend a lot of money to have an additional product just because it’s raw.   I’m not entirely convinced of the health benefits outside of it having less sodium.  I don’t use a lot of soy sauce so I don’t think the small amount I use has a negative effect on my health.

So, are the amino acids specifically goof for you?  Yes, they are.  In fact, you need them to function properly.  Combinations of amino acids form proteins, which you need.  But the amount of protein in Bragg’s is so small, that it would be very difficult to get your necessary protein from this source alone.

What are amino acids? Amino acids are the chemicals that make up proteins. The human body needs 20 different amino acids to function properly. (source)

Amino acids can be found in protein sources such as meat.  However, this becomes slightly trickier for vegetarians (but not that tricky!).

Proteins are made up of “building blocks” of amino acids.  Think of it like a puzzle with two pieces.  To get a complete protein, you must have both pieces of the puzzle.  Many vegetarian protein sources have one puzzle piece, but do not have the other.  So by eating nuts or beans alone you’re getting only part of the amino acids needed to make a complete protein.

To solve this problem, non-meat eaters need to eat a combination of foods that are complimentary proteins.


  • Beans and tortillas.
  • Black beans and rice.
  • Chili and corn bread.
  • Pita bread with humus (source)

It was once thought that you had to eat these combinations at the same meal, but a study done by the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada showed that our bodies have the ability to combine amino acids to form a complete protein from foods eaten within 24 hours.   So you could eat oats in the morning and beans at lunch and your body would take the amino acids  (the two puzzles pieces) and stick them together to form the complete protein.  Our bodies are smart like that.

Stay tuned for a lunch recap, which just happened to be a meal of complimentary proteins.  🙂


Filed under Breakfast

Sick as a dog


I should have known something was up when Rascal seemed like he was trying to sit on the edge of his seat in his car.  A few minutes later I figured out that he had gotten sick in his seat and didn’t want it to get on him.  Great.

This has happened before, although it’s been over a year since it happened in the car.  I was well prepared with baby wipes.  I also had a plastic bag which came in handy as well.

On my way home from work, I stopped to pick Rascal up at my aunt’s and she gave me a ton of peaches in all sizes, from small to ginormous.  Some of these are definitely going to end up in the freezer.

I had plans to go running with a group of girls, but bailed because I was afraid Rascal would get sick on the couch while I was gone.  Being at home didn’t really help matters because as soon as I turned my back he jumped up on the couch and got sick.  Twice.

Ready for dinner now?

1/2 can TJ’s tomato bisque

a slice of Dakota bread with two kinds of cheese, New Zealand Cheddar and Cotswald with chives, sliced thinly with a veggie peeler

brussel sprouts, thawed from being frozen in the microwave, then sauteed with sriracha and a pinch of brown sugar and salt

This is my favorite way to have brussels and I know I got the idea from somewhere but have no idea where.  If I got it from you, please take full credit.

Since I didn’t get my run in, I wanted to do some kind of exercise.  I’ve heard that plyometrics is good for runners and can help you improve overall.  I did P90X for 60 days last winter, but stopped because I got bored with it.  Because I did the lean version, I never tried the plyometrics, because it wasn’t on my schedule for the first 60 days.

Tonight was the night to try it.

This is how I usually workout to DVDs.  I watch the exercise DVD on my laptop and watch TV in the background through the three large mirrors on the wall.  Wow, Toni looks crazy.

This is what I mean by a sweaty mess.

I really liked the plyometrics.  It was a lot of jumping around and I really like circuit training because I don’t get bored easily.  I will definitely do this video again.  Let’s see if it improves my speed.

After my workout, i drug this little guy out of bed who was not happy about it at all.  I suspected he needed a shower.  I always bathe Rascal in the shower with me.  He’s always been such a needy dog and always behaved better if I was in the shower with him.

I don’t usually  have a snack before bed, but I got hungry and had the last of the Flax Plus with half a banana and almond milk.

I also made some of these Chocolate Coconut Date Truffle, but made them smaller than usual.  My recipe usually makes 4 and they come in at 200 cals a piece.  This time I shaped them into 11 smaller truffles and then ate one because I wanted to I don’t like odd numbers.  🙂

Confession of a bad blogger: I also had about 6 little clumps of my homemade granola today and 4 tortilla chips.  It’s hard to photograph everything, but I thought I would come clean.

Rascal is still getting sick every few hours so he has been banished to his bed.  He’s not allowed to sleep with me tonight, but he’s perfectly comfortable in his little bed as you can see above.  I hope he’s better in the morning.

Good night.


Filed under Dinner, Rascal