Monthly Archives: November 2013

They All Arrived on One Day


Last Friday, these arrived at my doorstep:

photo 1Yes, all four subscription boxes arrived on the same day. Only I didn’t know it. I was hosting an Open House Wine Tasting and our first guest had to bring them in! Consequently, I actually waited until the next morning to open them. I was like a kid on Christmas morning!

So hear goes…. From Top to Bottom!

Love with Food

  • $10 + $2 shipping per month
  • Each box shipped = meal donated to a hungry child
  • Earn points for reviewing or referring toward product purchase

November’s {appropriate} Love with Food Box Theme:

There was a whole slew of coupons and inserts, as well as a recipe from Chef Ryan Scott:

And the contents:

November Love with Food Contents {clockwise from top left}:

  • Mighty Leaf Ginger Leaf Tea – Refreshing!
  • Arora Creations Indian Spice Blend – There is a recipe to make Indian-spiced green beans or asparagus. Can’t wait to try this!
  • Kukuruza Tuxedo Popcorn – Rob and I split this and we were in love {with the popcorn!}
  • Eat Natural Almond, Apricot and Yoghurt Bar
  • Laura Secord Maple Fudge – Reminded me of a caramel… sort of. YUM!
  • Dancing Deer Baking Co. Rosemary Sea Salt Shortbread – Rosemary may sound like a strange flavor for rosemary, but so hath one of my favorite desserts in all of the Twin Cities!
  • Sensible Foods Sweet Corn Crunch – I received this in what I believe was my very first Love with Food box. Loved it then, so I’m sure I will again!
  • Sweet Potato Popchips
  • And to the right… Green & Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate {70%}Dark chocolate. Duh.



  • $10 per month (includes shipping)
  • Earn points for reviews and referrals toward product purchase.
  • Discounts on each month’s products for members.

November Contents

November Birchbox contents {clockwise from top left}:

  • Chella Ivory Lace Highlighter Pencil
  • Fatty Sundays Chocolate Covered Pretzel – Yummy Toasted Coconut. But a full-sized one one/container is about $32.
  • Beauty Protector Shampoo & Conditioner – samples sized, perfect for travel
  • Supergoop Daily Correct SPF 35 CC Cream – sample size

This month’s box = not that exciting.



  • $19 per month (includes shipping)
  • All products chosen by a Registered Dietician

November Bestowed box contents {clockwise, from top left}:

  • Nektar Honey Crystals – I’ve received these before and love that they make honey portable for tea.
  • Crunchmaster Multi-Seed Crackers (full-size) – I’ve received these in other boxes, too, and love them. I love that Bestowed includes full-size products!
  • Perfect Fuel Chocolate
  • Wild Garden Hummus Dip – I’ve had this before and wasn’t a fan. I love hummus, but I’m just not thrilled with this stuff.
  • Eat Green Tea – Eat green tea?! Just sprinkle it on anything and get your green tea antioxidants. I liked it on my salad. They recommend it in smoothies.
  • Quest Bar Chocolate Peanut Butter
  • Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix – I really liked the flavors
  • Salba Smart Chia Boost
  • ZICO Chocolate Coconut Water
  • And to the right… LifeIce – I put this in the freezer and forgot about it until now!

Obviously, I haven’t had time to try everything. And I really didn’t want to, because it’s one of the best put-together boxes in my opinion, but I canceled Bestowed. *GASP!* I decided it’s way too many foods to keep trying. I’m sticking with LWF for now because it’s cheaper and I’ve racked up rewards. But that may change soon, too, just because Rob and I are talking about more clean eating. Otherwise, I think I actually prefer Bestowed… by a small margin! I’d highly recommend it.



  • $29/month (including shipping), as low as $19 per month if you pay up front.
  • Earn free boxes for referrals. Click my referral link for $5 off your first box.
Anxious Sham

Anxious dogs!

Last year we wrapped the December Bark Box for Sophie & Benny and opened it for them on Christmas. We are planning to do the same this year. But here’s November’s Box:

November BarkBox contents {clockwise from top left}:

  • Bocce’s Bakery Truffle Mac & Cheese Dog Treats
  • N-Bone – I’m glad there were two! They chewed on the chair together, as you can see above.
  • Happy Howie’s Turkey Sausage Treats
  • Etta Says Chew – Not pictured. I’m not sure why. These are Sophie’s favorite, so I’m trying to find a time when I can give it to her without making Sham jeaouls.
  • P.L.A.Y Zucchini Toy – Not pictured. Shamrock stole it immediately. Of course, it’s his new favorite. {Until the next new toy comes around!} I liked that there was a zucchini muffin recipe for dogs included! I may attempt those this weekend.


It’s not spring, but I’m doing a little spring cleaning! Today, I’m cleaning out my closet AND the office. All of this “stuff” sometimes makes me want to purge a few things. I’m actually looking forward to it.

What do you need to purge/organize this time of year?

Disclosure: I was not paid to review any products listed here and have purchased the boxes on my own. Referral links are imbeded in this post if you choose to try out a box.



Extended Birthday?


Today’s my HoneyBear‘s birthday!

Birthday Cake

This year, he won’t be won’t be thrown a surprise birthday nor receive 40 individually wrapped gifts like last year. But he still has it made!

Rob’s Extended Birthday Celebration…

  • Last year, he had the day off because his big day was on Thanksgiving. This year he still has his birthday off today because it’s his “off” Friday from work.
  • Thursday night, his co-workers planned a trip down to Fulton Brewery. {More on that next week!} It wasn’t for his birthday, but what a fun way to start his birthday weekend!
  • Tonight, we’ll be spending A Night with Mark Twain {a play he picked out!} and having a quick happy hour dinner beforehand.
  • Saturday night is when we’ll go out for his true birthday dinner per our tradition. But you’ll have to come back next week to find out where he picked!
  • There may be an Ale Fest mixed in there, too. This is something we did ten years ago when we first met and Rob was teaching me about beer. While we do enjoy good beers from time to time, we haven’t done anything like this since. It’s another way to celebrate ten years together.
  • Sunday – Packers vs. Vikings. This should be an interesting one. If only we were at Lambeau…

Have you ever extended your birthday throughout the weekend?

What kind of events did you plan?


2013 – Le Beaujolais Nouveau est Arrivé!


It has arrived!


To learn more about le Beaujolais Nouveau, its history, what to pair with it and how to correctly pronounce it, click here.

We didn’t buy nor drink any Beaujolais Nouveau last year. And I’m ready for a little good luck. So I’ll be buying those from a few different producers to drink and compare. Don’t worry, my husband and I will do the research for you and review them over the next coming weeks…

If you drink Beaujolais Nouveau, do you have a favorite vintner/producer?


Drink Me: Petit Verdot


Happy Wine Wednesday!

Most people have heard of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. But unless you have been around the wine world for a while, very few people have heard of Petit Verdot.

It’s a varietal that hails from from Bordeaux, France and is often used as a blending grape to make wines from that region. Very rarely do you see it on its own. I have had a few Petit Verdot wines in the past, but I found that they weren’t very well balanced at all. Because it is a grape that ripens late, it’s hard to get it right. On the other hand, the addition of this varietal to other blends can give a wine depth and a little more tannin. {Which helps in the aging process – perfect for Bordeaux reds!}

But last night, we were able to try a Petit Verdot from our new Reds Wine Club from South Coast Winery in Temecula, California.

South Coast Petit VerdotAnd I just have to say that this is one of the best wines I’ve had in a really, really long time.

I am so over that sweet, generic taste you find in so many restaurant reds. This wine had depth, character and, surprisingly, was well-balanced, too. The flavors were subtle: mostly berries and mocha. The tannins weren’t too sharp, but provided what I like to call a “dusty” quality to the wine. I adore that! The finish was long. It tasted elegant and refined. I trust that this wine could even age a few more years.

And I actually learned something from the back of the bottle!

Read the label!

South Coast Petit Verdot - backI love how it states the date the grapes were harvested and from where!

A little off topic… Despite turning one, Shamrock is still in his puppy stage. Maybe I’ll call him my little Petit Verdot until he “ripens.” Well, he isn’t green, but his name is Shamrock after all.

Have you had a Petit Verdot before?

If so, which one?

Any other unique wines out there you’ve tried?




Saturday night, Rob rounded up some friends and we went down to Republic, a craft beer bar and restaurant. Rob had almost chosen it for his birthday dinner this week, but decided it would be more fun to head there in a group.

It’s the second time we’d been to the Uptown location of this restaurant. But all it took was one visit to put Republic’s beer and burgers on Rob’s Top 10 lists.

There are several things that I love about this place:

  • There are no televisions! – Thus, no distractions. Unless your mate is constantly on his/her SmartPhone, you should have his/her undivided attention!
  • The Simplicity – There is one menu with one side listing beers by category {Ales, Belgians, IPAs, Ciders, etc.} and the other side listing food by category {Daily, Vegetable, Beef, Cow, Pig, Bird}
  • Local Beer Selection – Of their 56 craft beers on tap, about of third of them are local – meaning within the Twin Cities metro. There are many more hailing from the entire Midwest.
  • The Beer Flights – They are exceptional here because there are no exceptions. You can choose any three beers in a flight of half-pints for $10.
  • Beer Feature – There is also one Beer Feature that is just $3 at any given time until it’s gone!
Republic Beer Flight - 8 oz pours of any three different beers

Republic Beer Flight – 8 oz pours of any three different beers

This is the route I like to go so that I can try a variety of beers. Jen and Kim did the same and each included a Cider in their lineups. Lately, mine have been consisting of the Porter and Stout varieties. But I did add the Steel Toe Imperial Red Ale to the mix this time.

The Food

I’d like to describe the food here as “Elevated Comfort Food.” I can almost guarantee you that I’ve heard that phrase somewhere else. So I can’t attest to its originality. But I do think it describes it well. Here are some examples:

Beer Battered Fish & Chips - Fulton Blonde beer batter, house-made tartar sauce

Beer Battered Fish & Chips – Fulton Blonde beer batter, house-made tartar sauce

When I asked Kim how her fish and chips chips was, she gave me the look and said, “It’s awesome.” You could see that there were spices in the batter. And that is not how she described the fish and chips at Pat’s Tap.

Sausages - roasted potatoes, mustard

Sausages – roasted potatoes, mustard

Even though this was so simply described, our friend Mike was intrigued. When it arrived, I asked what kind of sausage was in the dish. He said, “Kielbasa, I think.” Rob hates the word “hearty,” but if we had to describe any dish as such, this would be the one. There were a lot of potatoes! Purple, Yukon, baby reds… He had a pile leftover after eating half of them and all of the meat. His wife, Lisa, said that they’d take them home and she’d make some hash for breakfast.

Poached Eggs - grilled vegetables, roasted potatoes, chimichurri {add steak for $6 or sausage for $4}

Poached Eggs – grilled vegetables, roasted potatoes, chimichurri {add steak for $6 or sausage for $4}

I surprised myself by ordering poached eggs in a restaurant. But. It. Just. Sounded. Good. I added steak and was glad I did. The grass-fed beef was perfectly cooked and maybe even “made” the dish.

The poached eggs were a little overcooked, in my opinion. I like me a runny egg and they were barely so. Also, I took a big bite of one and found something crunchy. After a few bites, I realized it was an egg shell and it was all dispersed throughout my mouth. I have never experienced this before. How could it happen? I thought maybe I was imagining it, until I carefully forked up another bite and found another piece of shell in tact. When I showed the server and asked her to take away my napkin which contained the remains of the shell-bite, she apologized; but that was about it.

That being said, those roasted veggies were divine. And I ate every bite of potatoes. I don’t buy potatoes because I could eat them in quantity with no regard to portion. So, indulge I shall, when they are offered on my plate at dinner.

Angus Burger - carmelized onion, bacon, aged cheddar -or- blue cheese {burgers served with a mixed green salad, sub fries for $2}

Angus Burger – carmelized onion, bacon, aged cheddar -or- blue cheese {burgers served with a mixed green salad, sub fries for $2}

And then – The Burger. Lisa, Rob and Jen all ordered one. Jen said that there was a good amount of blue cheese on hers. Other places are a little skimpy on that. And she went on to explain how she never had any patience to cook up some carmelized onions herself, but how wonderful she forgot that they are! Rob confirmed that it is still one of the best burgers he’s had in the Twin Cities.

What is your favorite comfort food?

How would you kick it up a notch?


F&F – The Leftovers Edition


This weekend we hosted my last ever Wine Tasting Open House. {Well, there’ll be more on that in the next month.} I can’t even begin to tell you how fun it was to have people over whom I haven’t seen in ever so long! I think I have to make a commitment to see these people at least once each year. {A checklist maybe? Or another type of entertaining event?}

But what we have in the house – that I wasn’t expecting – is a whole lot of leftovers. I was worried that we wouldn’t have enough food! So instead of grocery shopping this week, we are going to have to be creative with the following ingredients:

  • Shredded lettuce
  • Sliced black olives
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Sour Cream
  • Mushrooms
  • Cubed Cheese – Tuscano peppercorn, Havarti Dill, Iberico
  • Hummus
  • Garlic & Asiago Sourdough Crostini
  • Cream Puffs
  • Blue Cheese
  • Salami
  • Irish Cheddar
  • Gingersnaps

Other items we need to use up before expiration this week:

  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • Greek yogurt
  • almond milk
  • bacon


So, it’s another strange week coming up, but here is what we have planned:


  • Monday – Roasted Pear
  • Tuesday – Ground Beef Stroganoff
  • Wednesday – Surprise! I’m thinking about another pasta dish, but don’t want Rob to know about it! So, I’m not posting it here.
  • Thursday – Fulton Brewery – Yes, we are finally making a Pilgrimage!
  • Friday – Rob’s birthday – We are going to a play and probably grab a quick bite to eat beforehand.
  • Saturday – Rob’s REAL birthday dinner. You’ll have to check back next week to find out what he chose!
  • Sunday – Packers vs. Vikings – Will Rogers be back?


  • Extraordinary Salad with leftover lettuce, cukes, tomatoes, carrots, olives, cheese cubes, bacon {yes! I added bacon!}, salami with a lite Caesar dressing
  • Leftovers from the week


  • Overnight oats
  • PB Toast


  • Last week’s fitness was non-existent and my body is feeling it. To get going again, let’s start simple and say walk at least one mile per day. There’s no excuse for not doing that.

How would you utilize the leftover ingredients above?


What a Diifference a Year… or Ten Makes


This was the first day of NaBloPoMo that I was a bit stuck on what to write. I do have many posts in the works, but the timing just isn’t right for most of them.

Then I read a writing prompt somewhere that asked, “What you were doing ten years ago? Or even just a year ago?”

November 17, 2012

Well, last year on this date, I participated in the last 5k that I actually…


I have tried to come back to running, but every time my back starts to show any signs of pain again, I back off. I’m really sad about not running. I want to do it again. It helped me to lose nearly 35 lbs; but since back surgery, I gained nearly 15 back. I have to quit complaining about not running. I still have legs and I can walk. I need to get excited about a walking program. It won’t get the same type of high or sense of accomplishment; but this is my reality now. Maybe if I get some more of the weight back off of my body, it’ll be easier to run again.


November 17, 2003

Then, I thought about what I was doing ten years ago. I was living in Minnesota much not more than a year. I had just started dating Rob only a month and a half before. I had attended my first Traveling Vineyard Wine Tasting. Little did I know, that in exactly one month, I would become a consultant and my world of wine and knowledge of it would be heightened beyond my imagination!

Then, I found an old email that I sent Rob on November 17, 2003.

And it’s funny to learn that at this point, we’ve done everything on the list except one. If I’ve posted about them on this blog, I’ve linked to them. I’ve made some notes, too!

Here are only the twenty of the things I’m looking forward to doing with my HoneyBear:

1. Meet his friends in Seattle.
2. Drive him around Green Bay and show him where I grew up.
3. Go to Michigan to meet his family and see where he grew up.
4. Join him while he reminisces his college days in Ann Arbor.
5. Spend time with him in Pensacola, Florida. {We actually were married there!}
6. Show him all the delights of Paris.
7. Travel somewhere with him where neither of us have been. {The first time was on our Honeymoon on the Amalfi Coast in Italy.}
9. Take a bike ride in the countryside… Either in Ireland, Provence or Tuscany. {How could I have known that he’d propose in Tuscany?! We’ve also been to Ireland now, though the bike ride hasn’t happened. But who’s complaining?!}
10. Go to a movie with him!
11. Go shopping with him.
12. Travel around Ireland with him, showing him my favorite places and discovering new ones.
13. Go to a University of Michigan football game.
14. Take him to a Packer game.
16. Make fondue for him.
17. Tour a winery with him.
18. Play cribbage with him. {I used to win often. He beats me 9 times out of 10 now.}
19. Learn to play Hearts from him.
20. Visit a microbrewery/brewpub with him.

Some thoughts about that email?

  • Boy how young, silly and giddy I sound having only have started dating him early that October. It’s a little embarrassing, yet refreshing.
  • I skipped #15. What?!
  • I haven’t called him HoneyBear in years. That pet name fell off the map, but we still call each other “baby” more than anything else.
  • I love football and would love to see a game in the Big House. That’s the one thing on this list we haven’t done together!
  • I now understand the Law of Attraction. Intention is everything.

Have you ever reflected on silly wishlists in your life?

What has come true?

Make a Top 10 or 20 Wishlist RIGHT NOW…

Email it to yourself or ask a friend to mail it to you next Christmas and see what happens.