There have been many crickets chirping on this blog since I last posted, we have lots of catching up to do in the coming year.
But for now, I’m just gonna leave this here because, well, this Mulled Jalapeno Wine thing has become a THING! Which is honestly quite thrilling for me because it all started as a little Crystal recipe I made because it sounded good to me on a crisp Fall day in 2014. I was probably deep into the one-year-old chasing and three-year-old sassing phase. What kind of winemaker’s wife would I be if I didn’t use that experience to craft a warm cocktail recipe we could some day turn into a product itself? A lazy one!
So fast-forward to present day and here you have it folks – the Mulled Jalapeno Wine that started in our kitchen and is now selling out at the Saturday markets faster than I can make it.
There’s cinnamon, there’s clove, there’s star anise (it’s completely ok if you have no idea what that last item is). There’s apple cider, there’s dry white wine, and there’s – you guessed it – jalapeno wine. Stir a spoonful of honey in there and call it a season, friends. I hope yours is served warm with minimal whining from your in-laws…
The me who is now dodging footballs thrown by a four-year-old, making school lunches for a first grader, keeping up with clients in the studio and diligently organizing the chaos involved with opening a tasting room. (Remember how I mentioned we have some catching up to do?) Let’s do that soon…
(Psst – If you’re local you can find us and this mulled wine situation at the Indoor Farmer’s Market at 8th & Fulton in downtown Boise every Saturday until Dec. 23rd [9am – 2pm], as well as at the Capital City Holiday Market on the Grove every Saturday until Dec. 16th [10:30am – 2:30pm].)
It’s true, I’m making an appearance on my own blog. What will she write about after being MIA so long, one would ask. There really aren’t enough words or time or ears with that much storage to spare. So let’s cover a little bit of my favorite things and call this a trifecta cameo!
“I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know where I’ve been.”
Pretty much, and I’m completely sober.
Oh, summer. You and your childish dreams of sitting in the sun all day, your optimistic adventures and restful face looking at me like I’m a traitor. “Spend more time with me,” you say. Truth is, you’re not loyal enough for me. You come in like a knight on a wine truck and captivate me with stories of your past. Then you’re gone, gone, gone. And I’m left here disinfecting the kiddie pool and questioning why I ever thought you’d stick around in the first place.
Am I right or am I right? Here we go, August. Here we go, kindergarten. Here we go, carnies at the state fair. Here we go, jalapeno pepper harvest and the procuring of grape blocks in the vineyards. Cheers to this month and all the transition in our veins. I’m back on the blog and celebrating with an installment of “The Tuesday Tank!”
~We don’t need more time, we need a damn compound.
The kids are at grandma’s house this week. I have four days to get “everything” done I need to get done. BALONEY! I will not get it all done. My winemaker and I will probably not get to go to a movie or see friends we rarely see. Why? Because this: You Don’t Need More Free Time.
So, parents, let us stop feeding ourselves the lie that we’d get more done/see our friends/family more if we weren’t parents. And non-parents, you’re totally guilty of your equivalent lies. There’s a reason compounds exist and perhaps those people have it all figured out. Or perhaps we should just keep the wine rack stocked and continue on…
~’Tis the season for youth sports and Red 40 food coloring!
I’m all about all things in moderation. I’m also all about maybe not having to hear “Mom I pooped green!” If you have a child in sports you may be interested in making your own hydration solution. If so, read how to make Homemade Gatorade Concentrate. Or maybe you love green poop, hell if I know. Who am I to give a child limits?
~Hello, my name is Crystal and I put snail mucus on my face.
Korean skin care is kind of a thing and it’s kind of addicting. As someone who isn’t exactly old and isn’t exactly 20-something (unless ACDC comes on….ohhhh watch OUT world!), I’m definitely into skin care these days and probably for the rest of the days. I’m also into knowing what’s in the stuff that goes on my face. Enter: Here’s How to Find ‘Safe’ and ‘Natural’ Korean Beauty Products.
Psst: Secure yourself a sheet mask and wear it like you just don’t care.
~Someone stole my book idea. No really.
I’ve always wanted to write a book about the different paths our lives could take if we made just one decision differently. The genius Laura Barnett beat me to it, rats! Guess that’s what happens when you don’t actually ever write a book. The Versions of Us is currently open on my Kindle and I’m digging the three different versions of this story. Now…I wonder what turn my life would have taken if my winemaker hadn’t fixed my wine bottle opener when we were just beginning to date…
~I hate shopping. Please somebody, give me the highlights.
Say what you want about Trader Joe’s, there are some sweet finds there. Every three months or so I stock up on a few frozen items just to have on-hand for those crazy evenings when you have no time to prep a meal but you also have no desire to eat out. This list of 10 Things I Buy from Trader Joe’s for No-Cook Dinners was supposed to find you and me. See also my favorite quick-cooking steel cut oats from Trader Joe’s, listed in a previous “Tuesday Tank” installment here.
~I know you probably know how to cook your fruits and vegetables but Yours Truly just did this in the oven for the first time and you’re gonna hear about it.
Roasted tomatoes should be a food group. Typically we grill tomatoes in the summer or eat them raw (or on cucumber/tomato sandwiches) but I wanted that quasi-crispy, slightly-sweet taste you can only get from a roasted tomato. Turns out all I needed was to squeeze some serious seeds to get it. This recipe is perfection, even on a Monday night. Especially on a Monday night.
Thanks for playing with me, happy Tuesday-trudging!
I have learned a great many things since you and I last got together here. The highlights off that list:
When in Vegas, I’m no longer part of the “Let’s party like it’s 1999” population (R.I.P. Prince). Rather, I’m officially in the population lovingly known as “I’m here for work so don’t call after 9:30 or you’ll interfere with Pajamas-in-Bed-While-Drinking-Wine-in-a-Hotel-Cup-and-Watching-The-Wahlburgers time.”
Don’t ever say out loud that you can’t imagine life moving any faster or your schedule getting any busier. I mean, unless you hate yourself and love jinxed karma. We’re all a bunch of masochists!
This trainer has lost five step challenges in a row. Partly because I am not super-human and partly because I apparently need to start running the aisles in places like Whole Foods as I’m working behind a tasting table. Or maybe I’ve learned to stop accepting step challenges from people who run all day.
Jalapeno Wine Lemonade is basically out-performing even my own expectations, as it makes the world’s best shandy (aka: beer + lemonade). “Why would you know this, Crystal? You don’t drink beer.” Turns out anything is possible! Especially if it’s a dangerous combination of jalapenos, wine, lemonade and the bright grapefruit in this IPA. Good things are in the works between us and Boise Brewing this summer, friends.
Fact: You can bake the best, most wholesome dinner on the homestead and your children will still tell you it tastes like “the poop from a Ninja Turtle.”
A more promising fact: You can still make time to exercise while learning above-mentioned valuable lessons and it doesn’t have to completely stink! Want proof? As you wish…
This workout is by far the most-requested by my clients at the studio. The fun part is it can be changed up every time and modified if needed. Have bad knees? Swap out the lunges and squats with more upper body and core moves. If you are getting painfully bored with your current routine I guarantee you’ll secretly enjoy the element of surprise in this workout. Sometimes not knowing what’s happening next is the best way to trick your body into doing hard things.
The premise: Grab 52 cards, preferably not a pinochle deck unless you’re into that sorta thing (LOTS of cardio, if you follow my key below). Place them all in one pile face-down on the ground. Draw one card, perform that exercise before drawing the next card.
For example, according to my handy graphic here – if I draw a 4 of diamonds, I’m gonna do four pushups and then immediately draw another card. Maybe it’s a Jack of Spades. Looks like I’ve got 11 tricep dips! And so on.
Aces are cardio – I like to think of them as Deliverers of 1-Minute Evil (Catholic reference, and a really bad one).
Do this workout until all cards are drawn or until you run out of time. This is the perfect travel workout since all you need is a deck of cards and your hotel room neighbors to stop screaming at each other in Portuguese. Added travel logistics bonus: Airport security people look at you like you’re less crazy than they do when you walk through with a resistance band with handles. Specifically at the Denver airport. Not like that’s ever happened to me…
Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to find some steps. Perhaps at the bottom of a glass of Jalapeno Wine Lemonade shandy…
When you have so many circus balls up in the air, sometimes dropping one means it doesn’t immediately get thrown back into the mix. It gets picked up, dusted off and then some clown steals it and throws it in your face while shouting “Rookie!”. Such is the case with this poor blog these last couple months.
But know this, readers out there: I will always keep trying to juggle this circus (because I kind of love it).
This time I’m back to reveal some things we’ve been working on during the “slow months” (lies!) at the winery. in 2016, you’ll find us at many of the same places as last year, with some exciting additions.
This is not an exhaustive calendar as we’re always adding new events and tastings as they get organized, so check back periodically for updates. If you’d like to receive our (very sporadic) newsletter with occasional open house announcements and VIP promotions, simply email me at email@example.com with the subject line “Newsletter Subscription”.
*Important Note: You will find us every Saturday at BOTH farmers’ markets in downtown Boise through October. Giving this disclaimer right now saves me from typing in every Saturday date for the next six months. The Boise Farmers’ Market and The Capital City Public Market are our favorite homes away from home!
Tuesday the 12th: Women & Wellness event at Thrive Chiropractic. Come by and drink some wine and enjoy other fun life necessities! 5:30 to 7:30pm, located @ 04 S. Orchard St., Boise, 83705.
Saturday the 16th: Opening day of the Capital City PublicMarket. Last year we were visiting members and this year we’re happy to say we’re sticking around! Find us there every Saturday through October. Open 9:30am to 1:30pm, located downtown on 8th Street.
Saturday the 23rd: Taste 208.This year is the fifth anniversary of this event and our first year of participation. With 55 local and regional vendors serving samples of beer, wine and spirits, you hardly have a reason to miss this! 6-9pm, located at Payette Brewing, 733 South Pioneer Street (River St. between 12th and 14th).
In addition to all Saturdays at both farmers’ markets…
Friday the 20th: Wine, Women & Shoes.With a fashion show, wine tasting, designer shopping and shoes, this is bound to be a stellar evening! Proceeds go to women’s and children’s charities, so there’s lots to love here. 6:00 to 9:30pm @ The Boise Centre.
June (Idaho Wine Month!):
In addition to all Saturdays at both farmers’ markets…
Thursday the 2nd: First Thursday with Buy Idaho at the Ward Hooper Gallery. Sip on wine while you browse the iconic Idaho artists’ collections. Buy Idaho is also celebrating their 30th anniversary and will be selling their Commemorative 30th Anniversary Buy Idaho Calendar featuring beautiful scenic images by – you guessed it – Ward Hooper himself. 5:00 to 9:00pm, located @ 745 W Idaho St.
Friday the 3rd: First Friday at Whole Foods Boise. These fun food and drink events inside the store benefit local non-profits. There’s wine, beer, food, demos and even live music. Buy your ticket for $5 when you get there and come hang out with us! 4:00 to 7:00pm, located @ 401 S. Broadway.
Sunday the 12th: Savor Idaho.Don’t even slightly hesitate to get your tickets for this major Idaho wine event, as they always sell out! The Idaho Wine Commission and other sponsors do a terrific job putting on this soiree every year and we always look forward to it. 2:00 to 5:00pm, located @ Idaho Botanical Gardens.
All Saturdays at both farmers’ markets.
Psst! Stay on alert for an event thrown together with Boise Brewing this month! It’s gonna be SHANDY-TASTIC!
(Update: The above-mentioned event did happen on First Thursday in July and it was indeed shandy-tastic. If you missed hearing about it, it’s because you should be following along at our Facebook page. Go now, I’ll wait…)
Friday the 29th @ Canyon County Fair, inside the O’Connor Field House. The fine folks at Buy Idaho are including us in their showcase of Idaho-only booths! Stop by for samples and to purchase your own. 12 to 10pm, located at 2207 Blaine St, Caldwell, 83605.
In addition to all Saturdays at both farmers’ markets…
Thursday the 4th: First Thursday at Salon Apothecary. There’s going to be wine (ours!), appetizers, a mobile botox party (it’s true!), and giveaways. This fun salon is owned by four ladies who are a hit to hang with and get styled by! 5-8pm. Find them in the Sola Salon store front at 1197 W Main St.
Watch for an update on our participation in Salsa Fest at North End Organic Nursery (Always on a Sunday in August, always a big spicy blast!).
In addition to all Saturdays at both farmers’ markets…
Saturday the 24th: Eagle Food & Wine Festival. This is perhaps the most fun I’ve ever had as a vendor (and most events are pretty fun). I think it’s a mix of the attendees, the wineries and the food vendors involved. Plus Mary (the organizer) goes to great lengths to make this a super smooth and exciting evening. We never miss! 6:00 to 9:00pm, located @ Banbury Golf Course.
All Saturdays at both farmers’ markets. And…
Thursday the 6th: Downtown Boise First Thursday. Watch for us at Shift Boutique. Located@ 807 W Bannock St.
Sunday the 9th: Harvest Pa-Brew-Za @ North End Organic Nursery in Garden City. Wine, beer, live music, chili cook-off, fall fun galore! 2-6pm, located @ 3777 W Chinden Blvd.
Thursday the 13th: Buy Idaho 30th Anniversary Celebration @ Boise Centre East. This event is free and open to the public – join in on the fun and peruse the tradeshow of Buy Idaho vendors (spoiler: We’re not the only winery). 11am – 6pm.
Thursday the 3rd: Downtown Boise First Thursday @ Marla Junes. Sip while you shop and make your Christmas wish list. And check out our latest(red) wine release: The Ambassador. Eyebrows up!5-8pm, located @ 811 W Bannock St, Boise.
All Saturdays: The Indoor Boise Farmers’ Market. The weather outside may be frightful but this indoor market is sure delightful. Buy Christmas gifts – two for you, one for them. You know the drill. Keep enjoying local breads, produce, cheeses, sauces, baked goods, jams, wine, coffee…all the important things, through December. Located @ the corner of 8th & Fulton St. 9am – 2pm.
Saturday the 3rd, 10th & 17th at the Indoor Boise Farmers’ Market (see above for address and times).
As January cruises by I’m noticing things are getting serious. Every year I feel like January sets the tone for what’s to come so as of today I’m making a concerted effort to turn my internal bass beat dowwwwn. Between tax season deadlines and planning events and marketing for the year and thinking about Lila’s kindergarten registration (just kidding, I’m in denial!) and this teeny tiny insanely gargantuous tradeshow in Vegas we’re exhibiting at in six weeks (more on that down the road) and the always-exciting commitment levels happening with clients at the studio, I’m taking a deep breath and thinking about wine and the ocean. Specifically: Our visit to Maui Winery last November.
So there. This shall be the tone I set for the year.
At about the precise moment we learned we would be going to Maui I started thinking about write offs the local wine scene. Did they even have one? Can you grow decent winemaking grapes on the island? And so my winemaker and I discovered mauiwine.com. From the looks of what we read they are best known for pineapple wine. Well yes,that makes sense in the Pacific Ocean market. But wait, hang on to your perfectly poised wine glass: They grow Syrah, Malbec, Grenache, Viognier, Chenin Blanc and Gewurztraminer grapes too. All I needed was a willing winemaker hubby and my partner-in-wine-drinking mother to venture up that windy Hawaiian mountain road with me. I kept reminding them both for about ten months that we had to make a point to visit the winery once we set foot on the island. I’m sure they grew tired of me dropping not-so-subtle hints. You had me at wine, their faces countered back. I was simply doing what I do best and making sure no one forgets about wine for a week.
Fast-forward to our week in Kihei when we set a date. We began our ascent up the windy, lush mountain (which is actually a volcano and the locals made sure we understood that) full of shockingly gorgeous vistas overlooking the sandy beaches we’d just come from. It was like a completely different island at 1800 feet above sea level. Forty-five minutes earlier it had been palm trees and sand and humid 80-degree weather. That landscape quickly morphed into green-covered hillsides and houses and misty rain and refreshing mountain air. This was our sixth day on Maui and the first I could say I didn’t need sunscreen.
To say I was surprised by this place would be entirely accurate. It was adorable/charming/gorgeous/historical/welcoming/perfect.
And the trees! I spent a long minute trying to mentally coordinate how I would move one of these guys into my future back yard. Curse the cost of shipping!
Turns out there’s a lot of history behind this place. The estate grounds are known as Rose Ranch, which was established over 150 years ago. The main building where the tasting room is housed is the King’s Cottage where, according to the website, “King Kalakaua – the last reigning king of Hawai’i – and Queen Kapi’olani would come to relax and be entertained.” And so were we as we stepped up to the bar, which was made from a mango tree. I mean, isn’t everyone’s?
Heather greeted us with wine glasses and answers to all our questions. I felt like maybe she’d done this before. She explained how the vineyards sit beneath a blanket of cool mountain air yet are bathed in steady high temperatures year-round, which makes for a very long growing season. The vines actually have to go into a forced dormancy, meaning there is an even greater degree of labor and amount of time spent in the vineyards than is typical for most grape growers.
Very interesting indeed. Now let’s see the wine list.
We each were given three complimentary tastings so we tried to divide and conquer most of the list and pass our glasses around. Out of the pineapple wines selection, we each liked the semi-dry Maui Blanc best. Perhaps we should have brought a sweet wine lover with us, as none of us are big on dessert wines. However both the Hula O Maui and the Maui Blanc were refreshing and would be perfect on a hot sultry day lying on the beach.
We moved on to the Rose Ranch selections where of the four I believe we enjoyed Upcountry Gold and Ulupalakua Red most.
Again, given the sweetness factor of the remaining two I think we may have been a bit biased. The Upcountry Gold was easy to drink and the red blend was subtle and simple. This may be the time to plug in a fun fact to insinuate my own hunch about the winemaker’s style: He is from and was once a winemaker in Oregon. Noted.
The unanimous winner however was the 2012 Estate Syrah. This was the meatiest wine on the list so of course it was bound to be our pick. We purchased a few bottles and when we opened one a month later at home it was surprisingly dry, something I don’t remember noticing at the winery probably because I was sopping wet from island rain showers at the time. It was nice, enjoyable, and reminded me of the ocean which felt light years away from the 17 degree temps at home. Thank goodness for photos and wine, or I may have dreamt the whole vacation.
After tasting and walking around the grounds and letting the kiddos emit some energy we were ready for some local fare. Heather had recommended the place just a hop/skip/jump across the street which was perfect considering it was the only place within about 30 miles to eat.
The Cowboy’s Place was eclectic, charismatic and full of fun gifts, convenience goodies and a little café in the back where I ordered up the curry salmon salad-stuffed avocado. I mean, the avocadoes on this island are ridiculously superior to any others. Don’t talk about how many calories are on this plate. I don’t give two shakes of a Hawaiian pig’s tail.
We ended the day on the beach drinking a glass of wine while the kids splashed around in the salty waves.
Christmas shopping: Check. Workout: Check. Workout other people: Check. Ship wine to wonderful customers: Check. Drink wine in my pajamas while wrapping presents: Check. Share new cocktail recipe: Check!
This is the stuff that matters, friends: Cocktails and wine. And personal hygiene.
My winemaker and I wanted to come up with a new Jalapeno Wine cocktail recipe to share in time for cheers’ing the New Year. Last weekend a star was born! For now I’m calling it a Jalapeno Wine & Ginger Cocktail but I’m still searching for clever names. It’s very similar to a margarita made with ginger ale…if that margarita also were to incorporate Jalapeno Wine (which ours usually do around here, see this recipe on the website). A Potter Wines Ginger Margarita may make more sense but then it would lack the Jalapeno Wine kick-in-the-attention-span I want people to receive when reading/saying it. Folks, tip your mixologist well the next time you’re at a bar. For they know some of life’s biggest secrets like how to adequately name a cocktail.
I love the brightness of this drink. It’s got the right amount of spice and tequila, not too much sweetness and the ginger ale makes it fizzy and fun. You could probably also use ginger beer and get a similar result. We tried a local ginger cider the second time around and while it was also good, I preferred mine made with ginger ale to capture the Jalapeno Wine just right and deliver it to my taste buds in a way that made them say “Let’s keep doing this, team.”
In other news, the good people over at Chomps Snack Sticks sent me some samples of their 100% grass fed beef sticks (because protein gets kind of boring and I also asked nicely for them). I have that review for you at the end of this post so stay tuned if you’re a cocktail/wine lover who likes beef to go with your buzz. Or maybe just a high-protein snack to go with your New Year’s resolution.
Lime wedge and/or slice of jalapeno for garnish (optional)
(Optional: Chill two glasses in freezer 5-10 minutes ahead of time. We used martini glasses because we live recklessly and sometimes drink our margaritas in a martini glass.)
Place a fair amount of ice in a shaker. Add all ingredients and roll in your hand to mix. My winemaker shook it very briefly for me because he knows I’m odd and I loathe carbonation. I recommend you DON’T shake it up unless you too get puffy like a seagull on Alka-Seltzer when you drink carbonated beverages.
Strain into glasses.
If you’d like you can add ice. We found adding ice only dilutes the brightness of the drink, hence why we instead chill our glasses ahead of time and drank sans-rocks.
Happy New Year!
Chomp Snack Sticks Review
Here’s the thing with me: I believe in eating a high-protein diet (for most people, this is beneficial as well as a tried-and-true method for keeping pounds off). But if I’m being honest? Borrrringggg. I’m constantly changing up my protein sources because let’s face it – I’m a carb and cheese girl. So I have to get creative on how I get my protein in. Yes, protein powder helps. Which leads me back to above-mentioned snooze drill and the fact that I’m not going to recommend to all my clients that they shell out more money by buying protein powder around the clock. You can always find ways to eat more protein – so I hit up the people at Chomp.
It’s not like I’m a big beef stick fanatic but when I’m on the road, especially with my kids, I get super annoyed at all the gross food options I’m faced with. Same goes when we’re working a wine event and it’s 4-5 hours before we can eat. So usually my go-to is a pepperoni stick or jerky. Which means it’s great protein-wise but pathetic processed-wise. And the last time I “treated” all of us to a round of all-natural, store-bought jerky in the car (which I found at Target), I vowed to never do it again unless I was depressed that I hadn’t seen my gag reflex kick in for a while.
Chomp sent me their snack sticks in three different flavors: Original, Hoppin’ Jalapeno (uh, clearly they know their demographic), and Crankin’ Cran. Here’s the skinny:
Tasty. I pretty much inhaled the Original between clients at the studio and all thumbs pointed up. I think that’s the first time I’ve had a beef stick that didn’t break my teeth. Wayyyy better than that junk they sell at Jackson’s.
Nutritionally sound. These are the nutrition facts and list of ingredients. It’s pretty much like finding out there’s pirate treasure buried in your back yard.
Niche market. While I’m not a Paleo or Whole30 follower, I can appreciate where these guys are coming from. Kudos to them for diving into a market that needed some realistic options.
Grab and go, my friends. Grab and go.
Crisis aversion. Your 2 ½ year old is beginning to use his powers for evil because it’s been two minutes since he ate something. Lucky for you you’ve got a Chomps Snack Stick in your bag. Well done, parent. Proceed to curse at whomever coordinates traffic light patterns.
Whaaat?! There aren’t any sugars in here. There AREN’T ANY SUGARS! Perhaps other food manufacturers will catch on and we can all move on with our lives without added sugars in every product we consume. That’d be a Christmas miracle!
Price. Have you purchased a stick of (questionable) beef or jerky lately? A financial planner passes out every time a sale is made. And forget about turkey jerky. I purchased a bag for $6.99 once and there were three lousy pieces inside. No I mean it, they were really, really lousy. Chomps Snack Sticks are actually more reasonably priced considering you get more for your buck. A financial planner somewhere just got their wings.
Flavors. Um, Crankin’ Cran? Who does that to a beef stick?! And who pulls it off?! These guys. And the Hoppin’ Jalapeno flavor is a winner with the jalapeno-obsessed over here. What’s even better is these flavors don’t taste like fake beef with fake flavoring mixed in. They taste like…real food. Insanity.
Post workout snack. I’m usually ravenous after a workout and if I’m exercising at the studio it means I don’t have time for an entire meal before my next client. Which leads us back to that whole grab-and-go thing I mentioned above.
Spousal agreement. Even the hubby liked these. I asked him to sample the Hoppin’ Jalapeno since…well, it’s obvious seeing as he’s the Jalapeno Winemaker, isn’t it? “That’s good. It’s a lot better than any others I’ve tried. I’d give it a 4.5 out of 5.” (That means it’s pretty dang good.) “But there’s no jalapeno in this.” Which means there is definitely jalapeno in it but his taste buds are completely immune at this point.
That sodium thing. There is a little bit of added salt, likely for preservation purposes. Still, this beats the entire salt flat you’ll find in something like a Slim Jim. And if you’re on the road, sitting for hours in the car, we all know how much fun extra sodium adds to that experience.
Price. Notice I mentioned price as a Pro above. While these are definitely more reasonably priced than other natural options out there (and you do get more for your buck nutritionally), they’re still an extra cost for protein. With that said, if you find yourself grabbing protein bars or shakes anyway, I think this makes sense cost-wise as another option. Or if you find yourself over-eating (or under-eating) because you never eat enough protein to begin with, these are definitely worth the money.
If you’re intrigued and want to try them for yourself, go get ‘em at gochomps.com!
(This review was powered by BrandBacker, but all opinions and sarcasm are my own.)
“Hello. It’s me. I’ve been MIA because my head is still in Hawaii.”
That’s essentially the only good reason I have for you. I realize that Month Three of this segment turned into Month Three-and-a-Half. Roll with it. You had to know I’d come back for you. A great trainer knows how to make people hold on a little longer than they’re comfortable. How’s that for justification of my absence?
Judging by how many hits I’ve had lately on the Get Fit in Four post series, you guys are ready. You’re ready for the nitty gritty, detail-intensive, game-changing last month. And what better time to amp yourself up for it than during the holidays, when you know you’re going to be thrown into food and drink remorse. I speak of this judgement-free since I managed to gain more than a few pounds on vacation (I blame only myself…and the market fresh coconut filled with rum…and the margaritas at Fred’s Mexican Café). The fact that I’d lost more than a few pounds beforehand during my own Get Fit in Four journey, however, kind of makes me feel no remorse. See how that worked out for me? It’s a win/win. Your turn!
If you’ve been doing your homework from Month 1, Month 2 and Month 3 then you’ve been logging your food, watching your portions, lifting heavier, interval training and choosing cleansing, less bread-like foods. You’ve also been increasing your protein intake. Well done, team. If this was a basketball game I’d slap you on the butt and fist-pump you. Since this is simply the game of life I feel doing both those things in tandem would be highly inappropriate. So you get a proverbial high five and a get-back-to-work nod of approval. We’re headed into overtime.
Get Fit in 4: Month Four
*Disclaimer: Please remember I’m giving you my plan for myself, which means you may have to tweak a few things if you’re already doing them/they don’t apply/you have an alternate effective method. I’ll give suggestions for options where I think they are applicable but otherwise try to focus on keeping true to yourself and finding areas you can improve on that are similar to what I’m tackling in this guide. Also, this is meant to escalate in baby steps, meaning each month will become more focused, particularly the last month where I’ll be in small-detail mode. Oof!*
Limit sugars and alcohol.
You were dreading this moment, I know. If you remember back in Month One I promised I would bring you a doable approach to getting fit that allowed you to still drink your wine. Because Yours Truly here does not give up wine unless I’m having a major surgery. Even then it’s extremely temporary. If you are up for cutting out alcohol altogether for a month, do it. You’ll see even better and quicker results than I did and I will applaud you and cheers you with my Walla Walla Red Blend. Otherwise, you can simply limit yourself to one glass a *fill in the blank.* Maybe it’s one glass a night all week long (back in Month One I only committed to 1 glass/night Sunday through Thursday). Maybe it’s one glass every other night. Maybe it’s one glass a week. Commit to it this month.
Also, really cut back on your sugars now. Sure, I’m talking about all that Halloween candy you’re still sneaking or the pies people haven’t stopped gifting you for the holidays. But I’m also talking about sugar in the form of less-obvious things like beverages, cereals, condiments, baked goods, breads, etc. If you won’t be starting Month Four until after the holidays and the New Year begins, you’ll likely be in sugar coma overload.
2. H.I.I.T. train more, more, more.
Last month I told you to integrate interval training into your workouts. We’re going to build on that this last month and up the playing level with H.I.I.T. training (High Intensity Interval Training). These are generally shorter workouts done at a higher/as challenging as possible intensity. For a beginner bodyweight H.I.I.T. workout check out this post. If the treadmill is more your go-to torture device, there’s a H.I.I.T. workout here for you, too.
Essentially, the idea behind H.I.I.T. training is that by doing shorter bouts of high intensity work alternated with a fixed period of less-intense activity or even complete rest, the body will be pushed to burn fat more efficiently. You can thank your body’s repair cycle for this, seeing as you’ll actually continue to burn calories for 24 hours after a H.I.I.T. workout. Since the whole point behind Month Four is to shed as much fat as possible, H.I.I.T. training is the ringer you call in to seal the championship trophy at the end of the game.
My favorite way to do H.I.I.T. is actually equipment-free. I typically do 20 minutes of H.I.I.T once or twice a week. You can Pinterest the hell out of the H.I.I.T. workout world and find yourself a good one, or check out the two links (above) to my own posts to get you started.
3. Drink LOTS of H2O.
I mean, you should be peeing pretty much every time you blink. Or maybe just really often. Water is super important this time around and if it wasn’t already a BFD to you, congratulations – you just had a baby – we’ll call her Dasani – and we don’t leave the house without the baby, do we?
If you’ve ever said the words “water weight” you probably know you can lose or gain 1-3 pounds of the stuff over the course of a day. Traveling home from Hawaii on the red eye a couple weeks ago, I was overjoyed to discover my cankles later that day. On opposite day. Truth is, water weight is a jerk of a thing. One way to fight back is by moving lots, reducing your sodium intake and drinking more water than a hungover elephant. I know, my husband thinks I’m insanely eloquent, too.
4. Incorporate pyramid training when weight lifting.
Here’s where it gets technical and also fun. You’ve already been lifting heavier since Month Two, right? Yesssss. You’re used to doing straight sets by now whether you know it or not – they are when you do a fixed number of reps of an exercise no matter how many sets are in your workout. Straight sets are pretty common and while they are a great thing, it’s time to change it up. It’s time to introduce pyramid training.
There are two kinds of pyramid training: Regular pyramid sets and reverse pyramid sets. Let’s start with the good ‘ol fashioned way first.
Pyramid sets are when you increase the weight each set while decreasing the reps. That simple. Here’s a borrowed example:
With pyramid sets, you’ll usually do 4 (or more) sets. Four sets is my minimum when I’m doing this type of workout.
The only issue I have with regular pyramid training and what many people in the fitness industry confirm is that doing it this way means your muscles are already fatigued by the time you begin lifting the heaviest weight. Hmm…if only there were something called reverse pyramid training…
Magically, reverse pyramid training, uh, reverses everything. So instead, you’ll start out lifting the heaviest weight you can manage for a lesser number of reps, then each set you’ll lower the weight and increase the reps. Like this:
While I do both kinds of pyramid training to mix it up, I’m partial to doing it this way. For the most part I really enjoy that the weights get lighter every set. I like being rewarded for my valiant effort.
To get to work on either of these methods, simply pick out which exercises you’re going to do and pick a weight and number of reps to begin with. You can do each set back-to-back or you can do the entire routine with all exercises once, then move on to the next set. Your first time will be mostly trial and error as you figure out what you’re capable of lifting. Push yourself as much as you can and rest a little longer than usual between sets (unless your usual is long enough to drive across town for a skinny latte).
Also, it’s crucial that you warm up properly before doing either type of pyramid training. Now is not the appropriate time to shave 5 minutes off your schedule.
5. Listen to your body!
After all that talk about going into overtime and sealing the championship trophy, here is where I tell you to chill the !@#& out. Quite honestly, I gave myself some breaks here and there during this whole process. Crap happens. My life and your life are not perfect. Pretty sure I could’ve been even more fit when I hit the beach. Pretty sure I didn’t care because…I was on the beach. Be kind to yourself and your body and your perception of it. There are enough crazy-obsessive people out there – you’re not one of them (I mean, please tell me you’re not one of them, right?).
P.S. One suggestion: Do not get a spray tan two days before you jump in the beautiful, warm, salty ocean to body surf. Total. Waste. Unless you enjoy looking like a black and tan brownie.
This is the time of year everyone is talking about thankfulness. Well, not everyone obviously, seeing as how I got flipped off in traffic a few days ago (caring means using your blinker, Mr. Pushy-Pants). So I thought now would be an opportune time to reflect on the last year and take in all that I accomplished, since I’m more prone to thinking about everything I still haven’t crossed off my to-do list.
Turns out 2015 was a productive year for me minus only a few She-Won’t-See-This-Coming trick plays and Underwhelm-Her-With-This-Whistle-Blow referee calls. Plus, I managed to get my kids almost all the way through another year of me parenting them. Don’t get me wrong, my husband has been a trusty life-force throughout this whole child raising gig. But I’m just going to reminisce for a hot five minutes about how I completely dominated parenthood this year.
1. I didn’t yell the fifth time my son kicked me in the face during a dead sleep.
By the fifth time, I realized it must be his version of tough love. Because the first four times I screamed initially in surprise and subsequently in pain. When I didn’t yell out the next time…he stopped. “That’s just life, momma dukes. But I love you anyway.”
2. I mastered perfect hygiene so that whatever I am wearing/eating/drinking/looking at/touching/breathing does not smell bad.
You would think that after being raised by a clean set of parents, spending my adolescence in girls’ locker rooms, sharing a dorm space with three other females and tackling my fair share of day-after multiple bar nights in my early 20s, I’d have the whole hygiene thing down. Negative. Apparently I needed my 4-year-old to simply say a specific sentence one morning while agitatedly waiting for me to unbuckle her from her car seat: “Mom, I don’t like the way your face smells.” Well that’s not nice. Nowadays I wake up extra early just to immerse my entire body in a tank of hospital-grade antiseptic. I dry myself off with a box of Lysol disinfectant wipes and then put on my mouth mask so as not to irritate the Queen.
3. I finally went ice skating.
I know, you’re thinking I’m kind of ridiculous. The childhood that molded me was glorious, however my single ice skating experience got pushed to an ominous compartment of my memory recall and the only time I talk about it is in a safe zone. Which exists nowhere in the present. However this past year I finally put on my Big Girl Skates after watching my daughter glide around taunting me on the ice for several minutes (other witnesses tell me she was in fact quite sweetly beaming and asking me to skate with her – but whatever). One small icy sashay for mom-kind!
4. I refrained from verbally accosting Barbie and Ken in front of my daughter.
Never mind that what I really wanted to say was that Barbie and her entitled boyfriend are whiny losers. The point is I didn’t verbalize my feelings and in this case it was a triumphant thing. Instead, I convinced my daughter that she can’t watch episodes of Barbie on Netflix because the TV breaks every time it’s on. That wasn’t exactly a lie, because it does freeze up – on apparently the only phrase Ken was taught as a self-absorbed punk: “Dude, that is so not fair.” Fast-forward to this month as she has learned to use the remote and navigate Netflix by herself. Dang kids and their motor skill development.
5. I figured out how to do my daughter’s hair.
Kind of. We have three selections: A ponytail, an Elsa braid or “down like Rapunzel.” I have watched 3 billion tutorials on how to do a fish tail braid. I have cursed 3 billion times inside my mouth.
6. I killed a spider with my bare hands and looked cool doing it.
Don’t judge me, spidey-savers out there. Earlier this summer those sneaky creeps were infiltrating the house like mold on cheese. I had probably just got kicked in the face out of a dead sleep and had possibly already taken my antiseptic bath so you can imagine my apprehension when yet another one of those guys tried attacking my son’s Ninja Turtle. My fist came out like a blur on the floor and when I lifted it up to see what I’d done my son looked at me with his proud baby blues and whispered, “Whoaaaaa!” No regrets.
7. My kids were exposed to new experiences.
Let’s not focus on the fact that one of these experiences involved gambling at the horse races and let’s not focus on the fact that my kids are actually kind of addicted to winning at the horse races and my daughter is a bookie. Let’s simply remark at how ironic it is that she was almost born at the horse races. (But Yours Truly needed a sandwich before delivery that night, so we left.) I know a lot of parents whose kids aren’t exposed to this charming, exciting past-time and maybe there’s comfort in knowing their kids are not yet aware of what the words win, place and show mean. They have their successes, I have mine. Meanwhile, my children are mapping out their trip for a certain weekend excursion to Kentucky…
8. I threw a birthday party at the zoo.
Sure, it was 105 degrees in July and Elsa was melting as was everyone’s face and SWACK was deemed appropriate dress code that day. But it was a birthday at the zoo and we all survived! If you’re still wondering what SWACK is, just think of it as the reason you don’t wear light colored pants on a sweltering hot day.
9. No one played with power tools.
Earlier this summer we began a semi-major remodeling project and there was a sea of Home Depot you-name-it on our kitchen table for about three months. Looking back it’s quite remarkable neither of my children built a shelf into the side of our dog. They really should give responsible parents some rewards points.
10. No one has pooped in the tub (so far).
Do I really need to expand on this point? Counting my blessings.
11. I didn’t forget _____.
Oh, I’ve forgotten a lot of things this year. But I didn’t forget the important stuff like Project Day (when we do Kelly Kits at home) or Library Bus Day or Color-While-Mom-and-Dad-do-Wine-Taste-Trials Day. “Mom…sometimes you forget things,” uttered my daughter in the car earlier this week. Yeah well, sometimes I remember things too. Like the really embarrassing photo I am waiting to show everyone of you on your Graduation Day.
12. Neither of my kids have been hungover.
Yes I do realize they are only 4 and 2. It’s the small victories over here. Considering both my kids are around wine all the time and my daughter could even tell you what good wine versus spoiled wine smells like, I’m happy knowing neither of them have acquired a taste for it yet. There’s that whole child services thing I’d have to deal with, after all. Luckily, my kids are just kids – who love them some milk.
13. I didn’t give in…
…To nothing and everything. To other peoples’ expectations, to my own “Am I doing enough?” dark thoughts, to my kids calling the shots instead of me, to worrying about everything under the moon happening and stifling my mother’s intuition, to the bad days, to overlooking a laugh when my kids need to laugh/a hug when they need hugged/discipline when they need self-control, to trying to do it the “right” way instead of the way for our family. And I surely haven’t given in to the whole Barbie and Ken nonsense.
“Hey self, how about we wrap up Month Three with a weekend in wine country?”
–“Yeah, that sounds more like it. Wait, will we still see results doing that?”
“Nope! But it’ll make us even more focused in Month Four.”
And that is how Yours Truly transitioned between Month Three and Month Four. If you remember from Month One, I am actually a month ahead of you on the plan, in order to be sure it’s going to work give you my honest approach. And honestly, the weekend in wine country was worth it. I’m not going to downplay it: The host at our bed and breakfast cooked up the scones of all scones, making carbs cease to exist in my serotonin-induced coma. I really was not ashamed – the food in Walla Walla was fresh, of practical proportions and everywhere we went menus boasted adorable words like “Our menu changes with the seasons and availability.” – Whitehouse Crawford. Go there. Tonight.
But on that following Monday morning there existed a more familiar reality and I was pinched awake from my red wine cloud by the reminder on my phone chiming: “Begin Get Fit for Maui: Month Four.” Gonna need some coffee.
But dang, those scones and that wine…
Let’s back up a bit though, because before all that there was Month Three in which I began running again after my little forced hiatus. Month Three is possibly the most crucial of the four because it is in Month Three that our loyalty to our body gets tested most. Sure, we can handle two months of lifestyle changes but can we handle three months of giving our bodies consistent, well-rounded exercise, nourishment and fuel that won’t make us sink to the deep end of the “I tried” pool? More importantly, can we then end Month Three with enough gusto to face Month Four? Yeah, we can. Because between goals is that swim meet called life we must participate in. So this month we take any set-backs we might have had in Month One and Two and let Month Three kick them out of the lap pool. For we are past the doggie paddling stage.
First and foremost: Keep up with the last two months’ tips – most importantly keep logging your food, watch your portion sizes, stop eating two hours before bed, continue to do more core work and keep lifting heavier. We’re going to get a bit more technical with these specific things in the next two months.
Get Fit in 4: Month Three
*Disclaimer: Please remember I’m giving you my plan for myself, which means you may have to tweak a few things if you’re already doing them/they don’t apply/you have an alternate method. I’ll give suggestions for options where I think they might be necessary but otherwise try to focus on keeping true to yourself and finding areas you can improve on that are similar to what I’m tackling in this guide. Also, this is meant to escalate in baby steps, meaning each month will become more focused, particularly the last month where I’ll be in small-detail mode. Oof!*
Chill out on the breads.
For me, this little rule isn’t so much about gluten-free or even the calories. It’s about the fact that my body feels heavy when I eat more bread than I’m used to eating or even just when I eat certain types of bread in any quantity. There are all kinds of theories about this out there and very valid ones at that (simply Google “bread and inflammation” and you’ll see what I mean). Without getting deep into the science of it right now I’m going to simply recommend that if you find your stomach instantly balloons after eating bread then…don’t. Or simply chill out on your consumption of it. I love carbs (see above scone rant) and as my last meal I would request the best breads and cheeses and vino be brought before me for my immediate consumption. But I don’t love the tired, weighed-down, inflamed feeling I sometimes get afterwards. Again, it varies depending on the bread and maybe it is a gluten thing, but I digress. I don’t believe in cutting out certain foods completely unless a person has an actual allergy or intolerance, mostly because personally I don’t do well with being told I cannot have something (Youngest Child Syndrome). So I limit myself instead and I’m encouraging you to do the same this month. This also applies to crackers and chips of all kinds. Unless they are homemade apple chips. In which case don’t mind me raiding your pantry…
Eat more cleansing foods.
This is not me telling you to put yourself on a cleanse. You likely won’t see that suggestion on this blog. I find the fastest and most efficient way to nourish myself while ensuring my system doesn’t feel bogged down is by consuming cleansing foods regularly. Luckily we’re in the perfect season for naturally cleansing produce right now: Tomatoes, all kinds of squash, apples, beets, carrots, cranberries, and Swiss chard. Others available all year round (at least in grocery stores) are avocados, lemons, berries and garlic. Now, whether you get your cleansing foods in by juicing/blending them or throwing them together in a hearty soup or other recipe, it’s all beneficial. Thanks to the chilly evenings that are only getting chillier, the soup’s on at my house. Most recently we devoured the below cleansing soup, but here’s a link to some more delicious, cleansing soups we put in regular rotation all year round. Also, eating these items raw or a few of them together in a salad is a great idea.
Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple Soup Recipe
3 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks (about 8 cups)
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 apples, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper
4 cups low sodium, organic chicken broth
½ tsp. curry powder (I actually used 1/4 tsp. paprika and 1/4 tsp. cayenne in lieu of curry powder, it gave the soup a kick of heat!)
Preheat oven to 425.
Divide squash, onions and apples in two rimmed baking sheets.
Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil over each tray of fruit and veggies and seasons with salt and pepper. Gently toss all the ingredients together until they all have a light coating of olive oil and seasonings.
Roast for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Once the ingredients cool to room temperature, put them in the blender (one tray at a time) and add two cups of chicken broth and ¼ tsp. curry powder or other seasonings. Blend for 30-60 seconds or until the soup is rich and creamy.
Pour into a large pot and repeat with the second tray. Listen to your kids scold you for being too loud. Warm the soup over a medium-high heat until heated through.
Adjust the seasonings and enjoy!
Makes 6 cups (4-6 servings)
Introduce interval training into your workout regimen.
If you’ve stuck to your guns and have been getting in more cardio these past couple months, now’s the time to shake it up again. I want you to introduce interval training into your sweat sessions. Interval training can be adapted for all kinds of exercise but generally speaking:
If you are walking/jogging/running/biking/rowing/using the elliptical – Begin pushing yourself faster for a set amount of time, say 2 minutes. Slow it back down to normal pace for 60 seconds. Repeat that combo until you’ve reached the end of your workout session. Each week, increase your faster intervals by time (try 3 minutes instead of 2). You can play with both the faster and slower interval lengths as much as you’d like but be sure to make it challenging every time. If speed isn’t your thing, you can also use the incline option for your harder interval bouts.
Another alternative: You can break your session up into segments – 5 minutes of walking followed by 5 minutes of jogging followed by 60 seconds of sprinting followed by 5 minutes of walking again, for example.
Remember how back in Month One you began logging your food? If you’re using an app such as My Fitness Pal or any food entry program that allows you to track your macronutrients (carbs/fat/protein), start paying attention to your protein intake. More specifically, make protein 30% of your diet. To put this another way, 30% of your daily calories should come from protein. This will be different for everyone depending on gender and goals, but for the intent of this post series I’m guiding you to hit that 30% mark. This means more chicken, turkey, fish, lean red meat if you’re a fan, eggs, Greek yogurt, etc. I currently aim to get 150 grams of protein every day. I don’t always hit that mark, but that’s not so much my concern as it is watching to be sure I’m getting enough protein to help recover, restore and rebuild muscle as well as to feel full longer. As far as the rest of my calories go, I aim for 40% to come from carbohydrates and 30% to come from fat. My Fitness Pal is super helpful to keep me on track…as long as I’m diligent about logging everything!
Believe me, I’m no angel when it comes to regularly logging my food but I consider it one of the top five most important things you can do to see progress. Remember the last time you conveniently didn’t count the half cookie you ate because your kid didn’t want it anymore? Been there.
That’s it for Month Three, but as you can see I think it’s enough to keep you on your toes. Comment below with how you’re doing, what helps you the most, or what you think is the most challenging about sticking with this whole situation!
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