Feelin’ Fantastically Festive

Happy FRIDAY everyone! Hope you’re all feeling fabulous today. 😀

I, on the other hand, am feeling Fantastically Festive!

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Last week, I was contacted by Alexander from me & goji, asking if I would be interested in designing my own custom cereal mix.

OH MY GOSH, YES! 😯

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Me & goji is the first custom cereal & granola company where you can design your own cereal from 60+ all-natural ingredients, and even name your creation. The cereal then arrives in a Cereal Capsule, designed for portability and keeping your mix fresh.

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When I first started browsing through the website, I was completely overwhelmed with all the choices that were available! And if you know me at all, you know that decision-making is not my strong suit. 😉

There is an abundance of super foods, organic ingredients, and purely decadent ones, too. So finally, after what seemed like almost an hour (!!!) I had my custom cereal mix:

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And it was even handmade by Adam’s Mom. 😉

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Of course, I had to dig right in…immediately.

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Check out those cocoa almonds! How’s THAT for a nice little treat in your cereal mix?? I wonder if they’ll make my milk all chocolaty like my Cocoa Krispies used to when I was little?!? 😛

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I’m really looking forward to incorporating it into my yogurt bowl that I have planned for lunch today…

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(Plain Chobani + a spoonful of raspberry Polaner All-Fruit + blueberries)

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Mmmm, Mmmm, MMMMMM! 😀

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Now I’m off to work…but hey, it’s Friday, it’s Pay Day, AND it’s a very SPECIAL DAY for a very special guy in my life…… 😉

Questions for the Day:

What’s your favorite cereal?

What would you put in your own custom cereal blend??

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Fashion Friday: Boutiques.com

🙂 Happy Fashion Friday!! 🙂

All this week, I had been having trouble trying to decide what to post about for Fashion Friday. I had a couple ideas floating around in my head, some of which aren’t bad, so maybe I’ll save them for another time…

I’m saving them because I just came across a brand new fashion website that I just had to share with you all!

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Boutiques.com is a new fashion website, which is (believe it or not) brought to us by Google! You wouldn’t know it, since there is no sign of any Google logos are advertisements anywhere though; the site is big, bright, and very attractive to the eye…well, at least it is to my eye. 😉

While Boutiques.com has an enormous selection of clothing, shoes, bags, and accessories, to browse, it also offers some other really cool stuff:

1. Create Your Boutique

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In this area, you can go through 6 different steps to find and/or create your own personal style:

  • Take the “Stylizer” quiz
  • Choose your favorite designers, or
  • Browse your way through tons of styles, colors, and patterns for dresses, tops, bottoms, and shoes.

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2. Celebrity Boutiques

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Celebrity Boutiques show the favorites of celebrities that you may want to try to replicate.  And even better, there is quite an impressive lineup of both entertainment stars and celebrity bloggers listed:

Anna Paquin, April Bowlby, Ashely Olsen, Ashlee Simpson-Wentz, Ashley Benson, Carey Mulligan, Debi Mazar, Elisabeth Moss, Emma Roberts, Ginnifer Goodwin, Iman, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Jane Krakowski, Jenna Fischer, Jessica Lowndes, Katharine McPhee, Katrina Bowden, Kelly Osbourne, Kim Raver, Krysten Ritter, Lindsay Price, Maggie Q, Malin Akerman, Mary-Kate Olsen, Miranda Lambert, Olivia Palermo, Rashida Jones, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Shay Mitchell and Vivica A. Fox

One of MY favorites? Jamie Lynn Sigler

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Her middle outfit actually almost kind of reminds me of my outfit last weekend???…

Maybe we could be twins?? 😉

In addition to celebrity styles, there’s also a huge list of designers to search by too!

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To name a few:

Alice & Olivia, Andrew Marc, Anna Sui, Badgley Mischka, Mark & James, Catherine Malandrino, Christian Siriano, Cynthia Rowley, Cynthia Steffe, Derek Lam, Elise Overland, Erin Fetherston, Geren Ford, Grey Ant, Isaac Mizrahi, Kate Spade, Lulu Guinness, Marchesa, Oscar de la Renta, Rag and Bone, Rebecca Taylor, Tracy Reese, Betsey Johnson, Diane Von Furstenberg, Halston Heritage, Karen Millen, Nicole Miller, TemperleyTibi,Tory Burch, William Rast

3. MORE Boutiques!

In addition to the Celebrity & Designer Boutiques, there’s also a list of other boutiques to narrow your search:

  • Bloggers(!!)

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  • Retailers (none of which are located anywhere remotely close to me…which is probably a good thing) 😉

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  • Trend

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  • Popular

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  • Recent
  • Style Genre (romantic, edgy, classic, etc…)
  • “Featured”

With having so many great designers, many of the items are obviously going to carry a heavy price tag. HOWEVER, you are able to search by price range, which is nice…especially when you want to keep yourself from falling in love with that $1,000 pair of boots… 😯

Ohhh online shopping, you are going to get me into trouble!

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You guys should definitely check this site out…Hey, some of us probably have some Christmas lists to make, right?? 😉

Question for the Day:

Which celebrity style would you say best emulates YOU?

Date Night Dinner Giveaway!

As you guys all know, I’m a sucker for Date Nights. 🙂

As much as I love having Date Nights out, sometimes it’s nice to have something quick and easy to prepare in the comfort of your own home.

A few weeks back, I was offered an opportunity through MyBlogSpark to try out a couple new dinner kits:

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I received the Wanchai Ferry Orange Chicken dry dinner kit, as well as the Macaroni Grill Creamy Basil Parmesan Chicken & Pasta dry dinner kit. YUM YUM! 😛

I had actually forgotten that I had them in the pantry, but since I’ve tried to start cleaning some stuff out to make room for the new renovations, I figured tonight would be the perfect opportunity for a little “Date Night” in.

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I decided to prepare the Orange Chicken dinner kit, however, I switched things up a bit to make it an “Orange SHRIMP” dinner! I’ve had a bag of frozen shrimp in my freezer weeks now, and really wanted to use it. The dinner kit provides everything that you need, except for your protein, so it gives you options (think chicken, shrimp, pork…)

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The dinner was actually extremely easy to make, and it was quite nice having everything I needed right at my fingertips. I honestly don’t usually buy boxed dinner kits like this, just because I prefer to make my own. However, the ease was of preparation was definitely right up my alley. 😉

Considering it was a “Date Night” and all, I decided a little bit of wine was in order…

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Yeah, that’s right. I kept it classy in the plastic cup. Hey, sometimes that’s just how I roll. 🙂

When cooking up my shrimp in the provided seasoning, I also added a little red bell pepper + onion for some extra bulk. Definitely a good decision.

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After adding the orange sauce…

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I’ve gotta admit…I was little apprehensive about adding these chilies…I’m not a spicy kinda person. 😯

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But I did it anyways, and these four little buggers definitely gave the entire dish a little kick!

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My “date” and I agreed…it was yummy! 🙂

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I think if I were to make it again, I might consider adding a little less of the orange sauce. I know orange “add your protein here” is supposed to be sweet, but I think I might like mine a little “less dressed.” 😉

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And of course, somebody else wanted in on the Date Night action…

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He sure knows how to make himself right at home, doesn’t he?

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So do you guys want in on a little secret??

There’s an extra “Date Night Prize Pack” that’s up for grabs for one of YOU!!! 😯

The winner of the Date Night Prize Pack giveaway will receive:

  • (1) Wanchai Ferry dry dinner kit,
  • (1) Macaroni Grill dry dinner kit, &
  • a $25 Visa gift card that you can use to create your OWN date night at home!

*To Enter:

Leave a comment on this post answering one of the following questions:

  • Where did you and your significant others have your first date? Or…
  • What are your best tips for having a fun date night at home?

The giveaway will close on Wednesday, November 17th @ 5pm E.T. I will announce the winner that evening.

In the meantime, feel free to snag a coupon for $2.25 off a Macaroni Grill or Wanchai Ferry dinner kit! Just CLICK HERE.

GOOD LUCK!! 😀

*Note: Wanchai Ferry and Macaroni Grill provided me with the free products, information, and prize pack through MyBlogSpark. Any opinions of the products seen here were completely my own.

“The Big Junk Food Test”

Since yesterday’s “Twinkie Diet” post attracted so much attention, today comes a follow-up post of sorts that I thought you might all find equally interesting…

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Coincidentally, I happened to by reading my November issue of Glamour magazine yesterday, when I came across an article that quickly caught my eye:

The Big Junk Food Test”

In the article, 31-year old Beth Shapouri agrees to follow 1 week of a very unique “diet” –

**Eat only the foods she sees on TV for one week.**

Staying within a limit of 2,000 calories a day, Shapouri began filling her meals with anything she found on TV:

    • Dulce de leche doughnuts
    • Wendy’s Apple Pecan Chicken Salad
    • Subway Steak & Bacon Melt
    • Cheetos
    • Jimmy Dean Bacon, Egg, & Cheese Biscuits
    • Totino’s Pizza Rolls
    • Nutrigrain Bars
    • V8 Juice
    • Arby’s Jr. Deluxe Sandwiches
    • Olive Garden’s Parmesan-Polenta Crusted Chicken
    • Frosted Mini Wheats
    • KFC fried-chicken meal
    • Starbursts & KitKats

The main premise of the article was to show the negative effects of a diet that consists mainly of foods that are advertised on TV. While many of these foods were packaged and processed, some of the foods also came from chain restaurants.

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However, what I found most interesting in this article, which was missing from the Twinkie Diet article, is a timeline of how Shapouri felt from the beginning of Day 1, until the end of the week.

This seemed to be a common question that was brought up by many yesterday who read the Twinkie Diet article:

“Even though he lost weight, he couldn’t have been feeling well??”

So here are some recaps from Shapouri as to how she felt each day of her week-long “Junk Food TV Diet”:

Day 1 – A morning doughnut gave instant energy, but left her “ravenous and headachy” by 11:30 that morning. After consuming the Wendy’s salad seen above (which has 39 grams of sugar!!), she became too tired to complete her afternoon workout.

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Day 2 – She added protein to her morning meal to try to head off an energy crash which worked better. After eating the pizza rolls (seen above) for lunch, another headache sets in. After consulting a doctor, she finds out that the chemicals in the food, combined with a lack of vitamins and nutrients, are the culprit of her headaches and exhaustion. Her afternoon workout “felt like an eternity.”

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Day 3 – Her depression from the lack of fruits & veggies in her diet causes her to sneak bites of her friend’s fresh sandwich. After consuming a heavy meal at the Olive Garden that evening, laden with cheese, she found herself in “a fat-and-cream-induced coma” just minutes later.

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Day 4 – She can’t get enough water at this point…all of the salt in the foods is leaving her parched. She also determined that she had 2 hunger modes: (1) desperately starving, and (2) uncomfortably stuffed. Another phone call to a doctor helped her understand that the excess fat was making her feel fuller, but since she was consuming more sweets, her blood sugar was spiking & crashing…usually around the time the full feeling wore off.

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Day 5 – Shapouri woke up “foggy” and soon begins to notice that “easy” tasks were making her overly anxious. Not only that, but she became a self-proclaimed “klutz” (i.e., increase in typos, motor skills were uncoordinated, tripping over her own feet in Zumba class…) A third phone call to the doctor informed her that all the fat, sugar, and salt in her diet were overstimulating the release of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. When the levels dropped, she became “anxious, unfocused, and uncoordinated.” The doctor followed up with saying that experiencing changes like these can happen after just one meal. ALSO by Day 5, some added fiber was needed…a Fiber One bar + Activia yogurt did the trick.

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Day 6 – She gained 1.5 pounds and had incredibly swollen hands, feet, and belly. Her mood was starting to take a turn for the worse, and her typos were not improving.

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Day 7 – Very interesting. Shapouri ate the same doughnut as on Day 1, but this time, it was not as sugary tasting. Apparently we get used to sweet flavors (and salty flavors) fast. This is why so many food companies now make “super-flavor-blasted” products…they need to keep the customers coming back for more. By day 7, she now has no problem finishing big portions, her headaches are gone, and she isn’t as thirsty. Unfortunately, this meant that her body was beginning to adjust to the TV diet. Scary indeed.

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Talk about interesting, right??

Shapouri said it took her three days to lose the extra bloat, and at least a week to get back to feeling satisfied by her pre- TV diet portions.

So while these findings may have been different from those of the Twinkie Diet, at least here we can see just how quickly the side effects of eating poor food choices can wreak havoc on the body. I can’t say I’m very surprised; I can only imagine how she must have felt after a week of eating all of this food, and I would think that Haub had to have felt the same way. I know how I feel after eating just one meal of these foods, let alone a whole week! 😯

Question for the Morning:

What are your thoughts on THIS article??

New Accomplishment, New Gadgets, & A New Dinner

WOW! Well today was definitely an exciting day for Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life…

I was Freshly Pressed!

Just in case you’re wondering, “Courtney, what the heck are you talking about?” –

Each weekday, WordPress.com (which is where I host my blog) selects about ten new blog posts for the Freshly Pressed section of the WordPress.com homepage. These posts represent how WordPress can be used to entertain, enlighten, or inspire.

Pretty cool, right? Especially considering there’s well over 300,000 blogs on WordPress! 😯 Being “Freshly Pressed” has made my post on the Twinkie Diet rather interesting to read…I’ve had SO MANY great comments about it so far. Who would have thought it’d be such a hot topic! Have you weighed in yet?? 😉

Alright, let’s back it up here…

Breakfast

A couple lightly toasted pieces of my Farmer’s Market whole wheat bread,

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which I spread with some fabulous toppings: one half got a simple PB + banana treatment, but the OTHE got a little PB + a smear of pumpkin cream cheese + banana. It was phenomenal. This combo will be happening again. YUM! 😛

Also enjoyed was some wonderful Caramel Macchiato coffee…I’m only a few pots worth away from being OUT of this stuff. Then it’s on to the Christmas Blend!

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No photos ended up being taken of lunch today. It was a rather busy afternoon which consisted of about 10 minutes to shovel everything in. (Major bummer when that happens). But luckily, I was still able to taste at least a little of the delicious pumpkin oats that I packed up with me. Pumpkin oats are good at any time of day if you ask me. 😉

Workout

After work today, I headed home to test out the NEW TREADMILL! :mrgreen:

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This thing is pretty bad-ass. 😉

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For those of you who asked yesterday, Jay and I did a lot of researching before we finally decided on a winner. We bought the NordicTrack C 900 from Sears, which so far totally rocks.

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Some of my favorite features:

  • It has 20 built-in workout programs to choose from, (5 high intensity, 5 speed, 5 incline or 5 calorie-burn workouts)
  • 1-Touch Speed & Incline buttons (so no more wrestling with the up/down arrows!) 😀
  • It’s iFit Live compatible which seems REALLY awesome, but I have to look into it a little more…unfortunately, there’s an extra cost to it (I think around $200?) But hey, Christmas is right around the corner! 😉

My first encounter with this monster machine turned out to be fab-o: 4.2 miles in 43 minutes, with the last 10 minutes between a 4.5-3.5mph walking pace. WOOT WOOT!

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After finishing up my run, I headed upstairs to do a little yoga from Exercise on Demand. Today’s choice: ELLE Make Better Yoga. It was definitely a change of pace from the video I had been doing, but I actually really enjoyed it. I felt so long and lean after!

Dinner

My cravings were all over the place with dinner tonight, but I knew I was in need of some veggies and whole grains (I guess all that reading about Twinkies earlier did me in) 😉

I started by roasting up some zucchini & yellow squash…just a little spray of PAM, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Super easy!

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Then I ended up making a “Tuna & Rice” salad of sorts, which really came together rather nicely.IMG_6202

I cooked up 1 cup of rice, mixed it with 1 can of tuna, and then just started adding whatever I could get my hands on: diced tomatoes, pepper, onion, sweet vidalia onion relish, about 1-2 tbsp sour cream, salt, chili powder, seasoned salt, garlic powder, and cumin.

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A little random I suppose, but I really liked it! Better yet, I don’t think I ate even half of what this made, so I have leftovers all set for tomorrow. LOVE that.

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About halfway through eating this, I decided that the salad would be delicious if I scooped it up with some tortilla chips…

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So I got them. And it was delicious. I definitely did a little damage to this bag. 😉

Now it’s time to go get comfy on the couch and watch a little One Tree Hill!

Question for the Evening:

What’s the last “throw everything together” meal you made that was a hit (or miss!)?

Twinkie Diet??

Happy Tuesday!! How’s everyone doing on this lovely, dreary, snowy day? 😉

So yesterday afternoon, a co-worker of mine brought an article to my attention that I immediately had to check out; as soon as I read it, I thought it would be rather interesting to share with all of you this morning…

Turns out, there is a man who decided to follow a 10-week diet that consisted mainly of this stuff:

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Yes my friends, that is Twinkies.

Instead of eating regular meals, Mark Haub, a professor at Kansas State University, ate snacks consisting of Twinkies, Little Debbie Snack Cakes, and other convenience store “treats” every three hours.

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The information that followed in the article was rather interesting:

His premise: That in weight loss, pure calorie counting is what matters most — not the nutritional value of the food.

The premise held up: On his “convenience store diet,” he shed 27 pounds in two months.

No joke.

Granted, there was one underlying factor in his “class project” that played a huge part in his results: he limited himself to less than 1,800 calories a day. A man of his size should normally consume 2,600 calories in a day.

But even still, I continued to become more intrigued as I read through the rest of the article:

  • His BMI dropped from 28.8 – 24.9.
  • His “bad” cholesterol, or LDL, dropped 20 percent and his “good” cholesterol, or HDL, increased by 20 percent.
  • He reduced the level of triglycerides, which are a form of fat, by 39 percent.

Although Haub took a multivitamin pill, drank a protein shake daily, and ate vegetables (i.e., a can of green beans or 3-4 celery stalks), 2/3 of his total intake of food came entirely from junk food. Take a look at a “sample day” for Haub during this experiment:

Espresso, Double: 6 calories; 0 grams of fat
Hostess Twinkies Golden Sponge Cake: 150 calories; 5 grams of fat
Centrum Advanced Formula From A To Zinc: 0 calories; 0 grams of fat
Little Debbie Star Crunch: 150 calories; 6 grams of fat
Hostess Twinkies Golden Sponge Cake: 150 calories; 5 grams of fat
Diet Mountain Dew: 0 calories; 0 grams of fat
Doritos Cool Ranch: 75 calories; 4 grams of fat
Kellogg’s Corn Pops: 220 calories; 0 grams of fat
whole milk: 150 calories; 8 grams of fat
baby carrots: 18 calories; 0 grams of fat
Duncan Hines Family Style Brownie Chewy Fudge: 270 calories; 14 grams of fat
Little Debbie Zebra Cake: 160 calories; 8 grams of fat
Muscle Milk Protein Shake: 240 calories; 9 grams of fat

Totals:
1,589 calories and 59 grams of fat

Although Haub never commits to saying whether the “Twinkie Diet” is neither healthy or unhealthy, he does admit to the fact that this is not a healthy way of living and eating. Thank goodness Mr. Professor. My stomach was churning after reading just a quarter of one of your sample days. Yikes! 😯

While the premise of the article I found to be somewhat interesting, there are some overwhelming facts that hopefully anyone can see: The man significantly cut his recommended daily caloriesOF COURSE he’s going to lose weight!!!

If you’d like to check out the full article, you can click here.

In a world full of cheap fast-food fare, convenience store treats, and on-the-go families, I’m sure there is more of this type of eating going on than we’d like to admit. Also unfortunate, is that I’m sure there are probably people who will read this article and think, “Gee, that sounds like a great idea! Eat a diet full of empty calories and I can lose weight!”

But hopefully, as you read through this article the same thoughts crossed your mind, as they did mine:

  • This is just GROSS!
  • It is definitely no way to eat!
  • Bring on the fruits, veggies, whole grains…and peanut butter!

Ok…maybe I wouldn’t be opposed to one zebra cake. We are all about a healthy, balanced lifestyle here, right? 😉

***Edited to add: If you’re interested in reading more on the side effects of how one girl felt after eating similar foods for one week, check out my latest post, “The Big Junk Food Test“***

Question for the Morning:

What are your thoughts on the article??

Trying Something New!

YAY for Date Night! 😀

Even though it was really just a night out to dinner, it just makes it seem so much more exciting to call it Date Night, don’t ya think? 😉

We were really having a difficult time deciding where we wanted to go (which is no surprise for us), but I wanted to try somewhere new. I got a couple great recommendations for Date Nights to come, but last night I ended up picking a totally different place: Franklin’s Tower.

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I’d heard many good things about this place, but hubby and I just never had the chance to make it to Downtown Albany to give it a try. Supposedly, it’s haunted! 😯

I had no idea what to expect, but was immediately impressed upon walking in. The inside had a pretty cozy feel, but not too “stuffy” if you know what I mean.

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The lighting, however, was not too cooperative with my little camera…a little on the dark side! I didn’t mind though, because I love that type of ambiance when I’m dining out. 😉

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Hubby started out with a delicious Octoberfest brew. Isn’t he handsome? :mrgreen:

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While I started off celebrating Date Night with a glass of vino.

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Hellooooo blurry pictures! Yikes!

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Before we even got to the restaurant, I already knew what I wanted as an appetizer (thanks to my uncanny obsession with stalking restaurant menus online)

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We ordered the Fried Brie, which was served with a raspberry puree, balsamic reduction and assorted crackers.

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I only had one or two crackers, but only because the brie was good enough to eat on its own. It was amazing! I absolutely loved the addition of the raspberry puree & balsamic. They complemented each other perfectly.

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Next, to our surprise, we were served some house salads. Who knew! The dressing on this was great. Not sure exactly what it was though; almost tasted like a creamy balsamic? Again, sorry for the blurry photos… 😳

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My entree for the evening was something I’d never tried before! I figured “Hey, I’m at a new restaurant. Why not try a new dish?” Let me just say…I’m so glad that I did. And can I also just say how excited I was that I finally figured out how to fix the lighting at our table so my photos looked halfway decent. WOO HOO!

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I ordered the Salmon Oscar: Atlantic salmon stuffed with fresh lump crab meat, asparagus and red pepper, wrapped in leek and served with hollandaise sauce. Served over a bed of spinach risotto”

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It was probably one of the best salmon dishes I’ve ever tasted! The salmon + crab meat, combined with the hollandaise were extraordinary. Perfectly cooked, subtly seasoned, yet just enough to bring the entire dish together. The risotto was rich and creamy, but not too heavy. Absolutely amazing! We were both pleasantly impressed by our visit to Franklin’s Tower! 😀

And as if we hadn’t already eaten enough at dinner, we decided to stuff our faces just a little more. On our drive home, I convinced hubby to stop by a local cheesecake place that I’ve been hearing rave reviews about for years, yet I’d never been to: Cheesecake Machismo.

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Thankfully for us, we got there just as they were about to close. The girl who was working nicely let us in after I flashed her a big ‘ol smile, telling her it was my first time visiting. (Hey, I don’t care if it was cheesy, it worked!) 😉

Cheesecake Machismo has a huge variety of cakes that you can order in full, or they also have different varieties available by the slice which vary from day to day.

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We went in to Cheesecake Machismo planning on choosing one slice and splitting it. However, we somehow ended up with both of these…

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Hey, it was Date Night. Apparently just an excuse to stuff my face.

One slice was the Tiger Stripes, which was a mix of Kahlua + caramel.

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It’s one of their signature cakes…I can totally see why. WOW!

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The second slice we ended up choosing was their Chocolate Chip Fasciana, which is a vanilla caramel cheesecake with tons of mini chips on top of a chocolate chip cookie crust.

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All I’ll say about this bad boy right here? If I had to eat a slice of it everyday for the rest of my life, I would by no means be upset. It was outstanding.

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I’d like to say that Jay and I mindfully split these and decided to save some for another day…

…but we definitely devoured them both.

And then we were stuffed.

And thus was a terrific, delicious, “food-coma-esque” Date Night! 😀