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Cinco de Mayo with El Pollo Guapo & Ripe Craft Juice

23 May

Happy hump day! The weekend is so close, I can feel it! I just want some sunshine and a glass of Rose in my hand and I will be one happy camper. This week is a bit crazy as we have two softball games (I co-manage a team in the men’s league where Dan plays) and the upcoming holiday weekend.

I wanted to finally share my recap of the fabulous blogger event that I attended at El Pollo Guapo on Cinco de Mayo. It was perfection. I mean honestly, the BEST chicken and tasty margs, what could be better? It was a small group which I loved because we were able to all sit together outside at one of their picnic tables outside and chat.

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Jen from The Brunching Blonde. Oh yes, the sombreros were out in full force 😉

I have definitely mentioned El Pollo Guapo on the blog before and it is truly one of our favorite restaurants. We have been fans of their food since the owners, Roy and Heather Riedl started their food truck, Mercado (which I KNOW I have mentioned before too) and we basically stalked them at various farmer’s markets around the state because their food is that incredible. Also, I must mention that Roy and Heather are just two of the best humans ever.

They serve some pretty darn handsome (#handsomeAF) rotisserie chicken in the form of rice bowls, lettuce bowls (not salads, these are much more than a salad), tacos, and burritos with all kinds of sides and sauces that will rock your world (garlic lime aioli, I’m looking at you).

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I chose the Span-ish Chop bowl which is my number one favorite item on the menu. They also served us some smashed avocado and chips which were amazing.

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No filter needed for this beauty.

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We also enjoyed some fantastic margaritas from Ripe Craft Juice served in mason jars because YES. The margaritas were strong (Kat, I love you) and so fresh. That is what I adore about Ripe, they produce a quality product that is so incredibly fresh, you would think that someone had just squeezed the limes right in front of you. I will most definitely be enjoying experimenting with the different Ripe mixes for cocktails this summer.

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It was a great event and wonderful to connect with some of my favorite local bloggers. I look forward to sharing more of these events with you guys soon as I think there are a lot of fun ones planned for summer!

Note: All food and drinks were provided at no cost. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Bistro on Main – Manchester, CT

9 May

Happy Wednesday! I hope you’re all having a fantastic week. I’m loving the abundant sunshine and warm weather we have been having.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a blogger event at Bistro on Main in Manchester, CT. Now, my intentions were to relaunch the blog with a new look much sooner than now (and it’s still not done) but I’m having some domain-related issues so I’m sticking with the old look for now.

Bistro on Main is such an amazing concept as a restaurant and I’m so grateful that I was able to hear their story. They are owned and operated by the Manchester Area Conference of Churches and they aim to provide excellent food (which they do!) and support those who may not always have the support from the rest of society. They employ and train those who may have been unemployed, homeless, or dealing with any other type of obstacle that may prevent them from working.

They employ those who graduate from their MACCchefs program and offer transitional employment with most going on to other jobs in the restaurant industry after a year or so at Bistro on Main. The entire idea is one that immediately made me feel passionate and just listening to chef Ben Dubow speak about how strongly he feels for this cause made me feel even more passionate.

The food itself follows a French bistro theme, using many local ingredients, which is something I think we all can appreciate. Ripe Bar Juice also provided the amazing mixers for the cocktails, and the maitre’d Mary Quinn was a master mixologist.

This was only my second visit to a French restaurant and I was so excited to try all kinds of new dishes, which I most definitely did because I felt like they were going to have to roll me out of there by the end of the night!

I think that food speaks better in pictures than in words so, shall we?

Bistro on Main 1

Mary’s twist on a cosmo – so good!

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Because cheese, always. 

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Braised beef slider with french onion crema. Absurdly delicious. 

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MONTMARTRE FROMAGE GRILLE – Grilled cheese with three types of cheese and apples. SO good.

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TRIOS PETITS CANARDS MAC ET FROMAGE – Three Little Ducks Mac & Cheese. One of my favorite items that we tried. 

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COQ AU RIESLING – Chef Ben’s spin on Coq Au Vin served over a carrot parsnip mash which was TO DIE FOR. 

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Another fabulous Ripe cocktail made with their Bajan Punch and coconut rum.

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SAUMON – This is Chef Ben’s spring salmon dish and it was incredible, especially the spring pea puree surrounding the salmon

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TOAST AUX CHAMPIGNONS – Mushroom toast. This was my favorite, hands down. Give me truffle anything and I’m in love. 

As you can probably tell, Bistro on Main is just amazing, from the people to the food and everything in between. I have already promised Dan that I will bring him for dinner so he can experience this one of a kind restaurant.

Have you ever tried French food? 

Which item featured here would you love to try?

Note: All food and drinks were provided at no cost. As always, all opinions are my own.

 

 

Local Favorites: Alvarium Beer Co.

12 Apr

Happy almost Friday! I hope you’re all having a great week! I’m looking forward to some warm weather this weekend (finally!) and I plan to spend as much time as possible outside. Today I wanted to share a little bit about one of our favorite local breweries and the amazing experience that we have had with them. I want to note that this post is not sponsored in any way and I just wanted to love on one of our new favorite local spots.

This past Tuesday was Dan’s 28th birthday so last weekend, we went with a few of our friends to Alvarium Beer Co. to enjoy some beer and celebrate. We had first visited Alvarium back in December, on New Year’s Eve actually, and Dan was immediately obsessed. He decided a week or so later that he wanted to celebrate his birthday there so I slowly started planning a small, low-key gathering.

Alvarium allows you to bring in your own food, and they often have food trucks on site on the weekends too, as they did this past Saturday. We love that they have both options, bring your own and food trucks as well, as it makes it easy to visit for a planned or spontaneous trip.

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The only food pic I managed to take. #foodbloggerfail

On one of our previous visits, they mentioned to us that you can reserve tables or the small couch area that they have, so I contacted them a few days prior to reserve a table for us to mingle around. They were so helpful and accommodating and also offered an additional table for the food that I was planning on bringing. This helped alleviate any stress that I had about not being able to get enough space for mingling and food.

Alvarium 2

The brewery itself is large and very open, with all kinds of neat details paying homage to the city of New Britain. Although the space itself is pretty large, they do not want to focus on mass production, but rather bringing the community together to enjoy some amazing craft beer.

Alvarium 1

The bar top is gorgeous and it is definitely one of the first things that you notice when you walk in. It is very obvious upon first sight that a lot of hard work and planning went into building this place.

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They have all kinds of fun games scattered around the brewery, including life-size Jenga and a huge shelf of board games. They also have a patio which we are very much looking forward to visiting when the weather warms up.

Alvarium 3

And how is the beer, you ask? I can honestly say that I have not tried a bad beer during any of our visits. My favorite from this past weekend was Clown Parade, which is a New England style double IPA. I love juicy IPAs and this one definitely fit the bill.

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This picture is from our first visit in December. 

If you’re local, this place is a must visit and again, I can’t say enough about the incredible hospitality and customer service they provide, which is honestly a rarity these days.

Alvarium 5

Alavrium is open Thursday and Friday 4-10pm, Saturday 12-10pm, and Sunday 12-7pm. They do flights, pints, and growler fills. They are located at 365 John Downey Drive, Suite B in New Britain, CT.

Friday Faves & Weekend Excitement

16 Feb

Happy Friday!!! I’m super excited for this weekend as we have lots of exciting plans 🙂 Tonight we are having our belated Valentine’s day dinner at Max Fish. We haven’t been there for dinner in forever. Gimme all the seafood!

Tomorrow we are having our annual “wine day” with our friends Robbie and Jenna. Once a year, around Valentine’s Day, we head out to Litchfield county to our favorite wineries with lots of yummy snacks packed and it is always a great time. Can’t wait!

Today I figured I would share a few of my recent favorite things (ahem, more like obsessions). Beware, they are random and all over the place but that’s just how I’m feeling today 😉

Favorite leggings: Zella Live In High Waist Leggings. These leggings are definitely a splurge item unless you find them on sale like I did, but they are so worth it. I love them for working out and also just lounging around the house. They are so comfy and the best material I have ever worn for leggings.

Zella Leggings

Favorite mascara: Too Faced Better Than Sex. Why are mascara names always so funny?! Anyways, this mascara has been my fave for a while now. It doesn’t clump and it adds so much volume and length. Although, I recently received a sample of this new mascara from Benefit in my Birch Box so I’m excited to try it!

mascara ecard

Favorite “Alexa” feature: Five minute plank workout. Like I said, so random. But I’ve been wanting to strengthen my core and I was playing around with the Alexa app for our Amazon Echo Dot and I found this five minute plank workout. It incorporates a straight arm plank, elbow plank, one legged plank, and side planks. I have been doing it every night, usually after bootcamp, and I am already noticing a difference.

Favorite recent local food: Acai bowls from Liquid Nirvana. I’ve featured these on the blog before (the picture below is an old one) but lately I have developed a routine of Saturday morning bootcamp at Mission followed by an acai bowl from Liquid Nirvana. These bowls taste amazing after a sweaty workout and they fill me up for a while.

Acai Bowl

That’s all I have for today! I hope you all have a fun and safe weekend 🙂

Fashion Friday: Stitch Fix # 7

2 Feb

Happy Friday! I took today off to get some errands done and deep clean the house a bit, something I feel like I haven’t done since before Christmas. Before I get moving on all of that, I wanted to share my most recent Stitch Fix box with you guys. It has been a long while (well over a year!) since I’ve ordered one and I felt like I needed some new pieces in my closet as we transition from winter to spring so I decided to do it! I asked my stylist Carolyn for a mix of clothes that would work well for both winter and early spring with some casual and some a little bit more fancy for going out.

Here is an explanation in case you haven’t heard of Stitch Fix before: Stitch Fix is an online personal styling service. You pay a $20 styling fee up front and then you fill out an extensive styling profile which is sent over to a stylist who picks out five items (clothing, jewelry, scarves, accessories, and now SHOES!) which fit the personalized profile you have filled out. The items are sent to you and you try them on, with three days to decide on what you want. If you decide to keep anything, the $20 styling fee goes toward your purchase. If you purchase all five items, then you receive 25% off your entire order! (Note: This time I also had a $50 Stitch Fix gift card that I purchased with a visa gift card that I received for Christmas).

Stitch fix box 7

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Item # 1 and 2: Liverpool Elizabeth Super Skinny Jean ($78 – Size 4) and Honey Punch Rivington Textured Open Cardigan ($64 – Size Small): 

As you will see, I’m wearing the jeans with every top I received in this fix which was awesome because they are super versatile and they are honestly more like jeggings which is what I wear the majority of the time anyways (closer to leggings = happiness). I’m obsessed with cardigans and this one was perfect and so cozy. I can definitely dress it up a bit with the jeans and some booties or pair it with some leggings for a cozy night in.

Stitch Fix box 7 sweater

Verdict: Keepers! The jeggings were a no-brainer and comfort is key so both were a definite yes.

Item # 3: Truly Poppy Gina Scalloped Sleeve Blouse ($58 – Size Small): 

When I saw this top, I literally exclaimed “this stylist just gets me!”. The color navy, scallops, and a party in the back?! (I know Jenna is laughing right now in agreement). This top is perfect for a Friday night out or just to wear every single day because I love it that much 😉

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Stitch Fix box 7 scallop 2

Verdict: Keeper! Not much needs to be said other this shirt is just the best.

Item # 4: Nine Britton Skylee Knit Dress ($34 – Size Small) 

In her note to me, my stylist Carolyn said she looked at my Pinterest board for inspiration and picked this dress. I am obsessed with swing style dresses. Although I already own a few, they are long-sleeved and this one is perfect for both winter (with tights and booties) or spring (no tights and a jean jacket). It’s also a great price for a dress too!

Stitch fix box 7 dress

Verdict: Keeper! I love the versatility and options that I have with this dress.

Item # 5: Collective Concepts Kim Gigi Neckline Top ($54 – Size Small)

I was pretty undecided about this top when I first tried it on. While I love the choker neckline, the fit wasn’t the greatest and I typically like my flowy tops to be a bit longer. After I looked at the photos of it on, it definitely grew on me and again I’m loving that neckline. It’s one of those items I would never pick for myself but I’m kind of glad that Carolyn did.

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Verdict: Keeper! Since I was already planning on keeping all of the other items, it made sense to keep this top with the 25% discount and it does bring me out of my comfort zone a bit.

Carolyn did an incredible job with this fix and it was definitely the best one yet! This is the first box where I kept all five items. It ended up being such a great deal with the 25% discount, my styling fee reimbursement, and my $50 gift card. I’m so happy with this fix and I can’t wait to do my next one (in a month or two?).
Which one is your favorite?

If you decide to sign up for your first Stitch Fix, use this link!

WIAW: January Eats

31 Jan

Happy Wednesday! Today I’m sharing a photo dump of all of the delicious meals I have been enjoying throughout the month of January while I have been “sugar free”. I’m linking the recipes for some of the meals in the captions. (Note: As I said in my last post, I really wasn’t insanely restrictive and I definitely allowed certain foods with a gram or two of sugar per serving just for sanity’s sake).

Sugar free 1

Our lunches looks mainly like this: chicken tossed with buffalo sauce, brown rice, veggies, and half a sweet potato. We cooked the chicken and rice in our brand new Instant Pot!

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Mexican food (ie. tacos and nachos) were a big deal for us. These ones were fish tacos. YUM!

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Another lunch: same chicken, veggie, sweet potato combo with some raw veggies and string cheese on the side. 

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I had never really liked oatmeal in the past but I’m loving it now. I’ve been having it every day for breakfast, topped with low sugar peanut butter, cinnamon, and whatever fruit is on sale. 

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Chicken chili on a snowy day. I made sure none of the canned tomatoes had any added sugar (some of them actually do!)

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I’m pretty sure the high temperature on this day was like -5 degrees so pho was the only thing I wanted in my life. 

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A take on Cait Plus Ate’s bacon brussels egg bowl topped with kale pesto from Pinch of Yum. Random but delicious!

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Another breakfast of oatmeal topped with fruit 

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A Span-Ish Chop Bowl from one of our favorite places ever, El Pollo Guapo. If you’re local and you haven’t been, you need to go now!

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Doesn’t everyone need to snack while cooking dinner? Cukes, ranch, crunchmaster crackers, and cheese. And red wine, because winter. 

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Pinch of Yum’s healthy baked pesto rigatoni made with whole wheat pasta. Her kale pesto is everything you guys. I may make this for lunches next week!

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Breakfast for dinner. YES.

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A fantastic meal from Outback enjoyed compliments of a Christmas gift card. #winning

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Brown rice tuna & avocado roll

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A fantastic sesame cauliflower bowl with brown rice made by our wonderful friend Shannon and a sugar free cucumber cocktail made by Robbie 🙂

Phew, that was a lot! Thanks for reading (or, viewing?) Stay tuned on Friday for a Stitch Fix post 🙂

 

Sugar Free January: The What, Why, and How

30 Jan

Happy, happy everything all! It’s been quite a while. I took a much needed hiatus in order to reevaluate a myriad of things and search for some inspiration. The holidays were too quick but excellent. 2018 seems like it’s going to be a fantastic year. I’m here to tell you why I’m participating in Pinch of Yum‘s sugar free January and share some of the meals I have been enjoying so far.

What: Sugar free January

  • I’m cutting out all refined sugar, refined carbs, juices, and most packaged foods. As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, I’m not about being super restrictive with anything so I’m allowing certain foods with a gram or less of added sugar since it can’t always be avoided (ie. salad dressings out at restaurants that don’t have just oil & vinegar, etc). I’m still eating whole grains, nut butters, and fruit. I’m also allowing red wine and vodka with seltzer because winter is red wine season for me and it’s my favorite. I’m not being super crazy restrictive either, because that is just not who I am.

sugar free plan

Why:

  • I’m honestly not a big sugar or sweets person to begin with but I feel like I went crazy like a kid in a candy store this holiday season. I ate cookies just because they were there, not even because I really wanted them, and that isn’t cool with me. I’m not looking to lose weight or anything like that but I won’t be mad if it happens 😉 Bottom line:  I didn’t like the way my body was reacting to the sugar (aka I felt like crap) so I’m reeling it in.

How is it going?:

  • I haven’t really noticed much of a difference or a craving for that matter. The hardest part has been not eating bread as I do crave sandwiches quite often. Whenever I have an urge to go grab some M&M’s from the vending machine at work, I pop in a piece of sugar free gum and the urge passes. Peppermint tea has helped after dinner and so have the individual packets of sugar free Crystal Light lemonade (the raspberry is the BEST!). I wish I had more to report but it really hasn’t been all that bad.
  • I want to emphasize that I’m not being crazy restrictive at all. For example, a couple of weeks ago we went out for a friend’s birthday and stopped at a pizza place for dinner. I enjoyed my pizza and felt good about it because it was a special night with wonderful people. I’ve also been to a few breweries that were new to us and I’ve enjoyed some beer too. Tortilla chips have also been a big thing for me and I’m more than okay with that.
  • I have noticed some physical changes and with how I’m feeling too. I don’t think I have lost actual weight (but I really don’t weigh myself either) but I’m SO much less bloated and my clothes definitely fit better. My skin has also cleared up quite a bit too. I have more energy overall and I sleep SO much better at night too.

Will I continue after January?:

  • I think I’m going to loosely try to stick with staying sugar free beyond January. I’m definitely going to have sandwiches and pizza from time to time but regarding desserts and candy, I think I can avoid those and be perfectly fine.

I’m going to share a post tomorrow with some of the meals that I have been making and enjoying throughout this month. Also, stay tuned for a Stitch Fix post on Friday!