Birthday Surprises + Cheesecake Dessert Giveaway

I should probably stop celebrating my birthday now.

But at 32 I’m just not that mature yet.

Vegas had an amazing surprise planned for me on my birthday… but she didn’t wait until the day of to treat me!  And – because I don’t think you should stop being treated either – I have a delicious (healthy-ish!) cheesecake dessert giveaway for you at the end of this post.

So.  To begin the birthday celebration we first went to a fabulous dinner on my birthday-eve.  The Patio on Goldfinch  has been on my list to try for a long time.  Vegas picked me up in my freshly washed car (another treat!) and we had a lovely evening out.  How fabulous does this look?!

The Patio on Goldfinch


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Any Excuse to Party

My family loves a party.

To say the least.

Last Saturday would have been my dad’s 59th birthday.  I froze him in my head at 52… it’s weird to think he would have been almost 60 this year.  It may seem weird to some people, but we decided to have a little party in his honor with some close good family friends.

My dad loved people.  He also loved good food and good wine.  We made sure all were present!  We laid out snacks while prepping the grilled goods.  Cheese, crackers, soppressata, grapes, and figs:

Cheese plate… 

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The Best Sea Bass Ever

Sea Bass is a pork belly of the sea.


Who wants chicken when you can have pork?!

It especially appropriate that Heather, Kirk and I had pork belly of the sea together rather than the chicken.  Heather hates chicken.  All poultry, really.  But I digress.

First, a strange wine.  This Abraxas Vin de Terroir from Robert Sinskey had a glass cork!  (And can we all agree that cheese is awesome?)

Abraxas Vin de Terroir from Robert Sinskey


The the pièce de résistance – Kirk’s Miso Glazed Sea Bass.  I saw this recipe on Heather’s blog nearly a year ago and never forgot it.  It struck me as strange because I always prepare my sea bass simply, with lemon, pepper, and maybe a few herbs.

When Kirk suggested it for dinner, I was beyond thrilled.  It did not disappoint!  Talk about #strangebutgood… look at this thing of beauty:

Miso Glazed Sea Bass


I took one bite and sat in stunned silence.  It was unreal how buttery and delicious this was!  It literally melted in my mouth.

The soy and miso combined with mirin and a little brown sugar created the perfect balance of sweet and salty.  After it was over I went back to the serving plate to drag some veggies through the left over glaze.  In hindsight, I probably should have licked the plate.

Miso Glazed Sea Bass

In conclusion… you should head on over to Heather’s blog for the recipe and make this.


How have you enjoyed making co-workers, friends, or family stare with strange but good creations this week? The link up rules can be found here or by clicking on “Strange But Good” in the menu bar above. In short, I want to see what concoctions have earned you weird looks from co-workers, family and friends! Post your Strange But Good creations, grab the logo below for your blog, and link up here.

Sprint 2 the Table



Remember to use #strangebutgood in any Tweets and Instagrams of your creations. :)


I can’t believe I have to go home soon… I’m so sad!

Are you a sea bass fan?  How about chicken of the sea (tuna)?

What is the strangest thing you ate this week?


Low Alcohol Drinks & Spicy Bubbles

I took a lot of classes this weekend.


If only high school had been this much fun.

Atlanta’s Food & Wine Festival is my favorite event of the year.  It’s not just another tasting tent cattle call.  Food and wine experts come from all over the Southeast to teach classes, host tastings, and showcase their best on the tasting trails.

Food and wine are also great bonding agents.  I tend to go to these event alone, which has lead to meeting a ton of great people.  This year I went with my friend Stephanie, whom I met at last year’s festival in the beer and doughnut pairing class!

Atlanta Food & Wine 2014… 

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France: What I Ate (and Drank) in Burgundy

Eating and drinking wine are my 2 favorite activities.


Well, the 2 that are most appropriate to blog about.

I took a whirlwind trip to France during my travels last week.  The purpose was (obviously) wine.  Burgundy is one of France’s most notable wine districts.  It’s home to red and white Burgundy wines – better known to many as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Specifically, I was in Côte d’Or.


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Strange But Good Bison Cakes + WIAW

Fast food wine shakes?


Something about liquor and dairy scares me.

Red Robin ain’t skeered.  They are rolling out a boozy little ice cream number mommy can enjoy.  Wine.  Ice cream.  The shake?  A Mango Moscato Wine Shake made with wine, vodka, mango puree and vanilla soft serve.  Hmmmm…

Moscato Wine Shake

Photo: Red Robin

The target market is 35- to 49-year-old moms “in need of a break.”  A $7.49 break.  It better be a big shake!


This WIAW I had a seriously fun day of food.  You can’t go wrong with pancakes for dinner!


Read on for my eats, and then check out Jenn’s blog for everyone else’s delicious creations!… 

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Keeping it Healthy in San Francisco

 Vacations are an important part of staying healthy.


Mental health is no joke!

I took Monday off of blogging because my friends and I impulsively decided to extend our stay in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  My sanity and I needed it.

It was a fun-filled weekend… there was plenty of debauchery, but we stayed active too.  Curling giant bottles of wine counts, right?

Blue Ridge


We braved rain and chilly weather to go paddle boarding.  It was my first time!  I think it would be more fun if it had been warm amd sunny… and you best believe I’ll be trying again!

I didn’t fall in once!  Fear of cold water will give you balancing super powers.

Paddle boarding

The dog (Milo) went down the river too!


The more “traditional” relaxation activities ensued as well.

The cabin’s hot tub was well-loved.  We refueled with a feast cooked by the lovely Latina women on the trip.  And we played board games that involved poetry writing.  Have you ever heard of Quelf?  Good fun!

The poem for me. :)


I may not be a natural at everything, but relaxing?  Relaxing is my jam.

Kat is having her own relaxation time after taking the Bar Exam.  Of course, her version includes winning races in San Fran and running a 50K.  You know, for fun.

Read on for this force of nature’s adventures and healthy travel tips!


My San Francisco To-Do List – Keeping it Healthy

Because I’m not working full-time yet, I am actually taking some time to relax, enjoy life, go on a couple of trips and maybe do a little conferencing.  This week I am in the San Francisco Bay Area (Editor’s note: Color me jealous.  This is one of my favorite parts on the country!) for the annual Lavender Law Conference, but I tacked on the weekend to do essential “Kat” things.

To Do List


As many of you know and experience, it can be hard to stay healthy on vacation.  Laura did a great job on her birthday trip with running, and some healthy meals (Editor’s note: Shameless plug… this is the post I did about that on my California trip).

I’m having a similar trip, and still enjoying cool food (Editor’s note: I’d break up with you as a friend if you didn’t 😉 ).  I’m also enjoying the cider, wine, and cocktails, but nothing to excess.


My favorite tips for keeping a healthy vacation:

  • Find rock-star baby-sitters for your fur-babies.  It can put your mind at ease, and keep stressors low.  I could not be here with out Khristina and Tara helping me out.
  • Try to stay with a friend, if possible.  It makes many of the following tips easier.  (My friends Sara and Jenny are angels for hosting me for 10 days).
  • Go to the grocery store and pick of some of your favorite healthy staples!  (I immediately got apple cider vinegar and bee pollen).
  • Plan a few nights to have meals at home.  You know what’s in your food, and can make healthy (and delicious) choices.  (Doesn’t hurt that Sara is also an awesome cook!)
  • Make or find fresh juices and don’t have a heavy breakfast every day. (Oh, and Sara juices with fresh fruit and veggies every morning… I’m in heaven).
  • Plan to be outside!  It’s the easiest way to stay active – weather walking, running, biking, hiking, etc.  (I planned two races and 3 other day trips!)
  • Breath Deeply.
  • Actually try not to think about work!  I didn’t check email all day today.  Laura can attest to this, as she thought a blog was not coming for Thursday!
  • Give yourself a break.


I know a lot of them overlap, but how many of you still sometimes work (even a little) on vacation?  I bet more of you than want to admit it.  But time off, to renew and regenerate is key to happy, healthy living.  It can help you be a better girlfriend, wife, employee, mom, friend, etc., etc. when you get back.

Note To Self


I know breathing deeply doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is.  (Editor’s note: I have to remind myself of this on the regular.)

Sara and Jenny have taken me to 3 overlooks, just to enjoy the views, breath, smile, and relax.

Wildcat Canyon Road Overlook from Berkeley

Wildcat Canyon Road Overlook from Berkeley

San Francisco From Twin Peaks – check out how the fog opens up!

San Francisco From Twin Peaks – check out how the fog opens up!

(all photos taken from the same spot within 5-7 minutes)

San Francisco from Sausalito

San Francisco from Sausalito


I also decided to keep it active and fun by exploring tons of new trails!  I first had a Cinderella 30K race at Joaquin Miller Park and the Redwood Regional Park on Sunday (and I placed in my age group!), then I did some exploring in the city on Monday (who knows how many miles Jaime and I walked).

Tuesday I ran/hiked all the trails on the southeast side of Tilden Regional Park, and Wednesday I went to Half Moon Bay for a walk on the beach, and to Huddard Park for the MOST FUN run of the week.  I was flying.

Joaquin Miller Park

Joaquin Miller Park

Tilden Regional Park

Tilden Regional Park

Halfmoon Bay & Huddart Park (redwood central)

Halfmoon Bay & Huddard Park (redwood central)


Next weekend, I get to participate in the Mount Tam 50K.  It’s got limited entries, and I got in off the waitlist!  yay!

I could go home now and not be disappointed.  But the conference starts today, and I’m super excited to network, learn a bunch, and maybe even party a little with the folks from the conference!  (Editor’s note: My career counselor in grad school taught a class called “Networking or NOT working” – SO true.)

I feel compulsive about wanting to share my adventures with you guys (Editor’s note: Welcome to being a blogger)!  But I guess there will be more in two weeks!

Random Vacation Pics

Random Vacation Pics


Kat’s post this week is making me want to go back to SF!  Also, I giggled while posting the hot tub pic… 😉

How do you stay active and healthy on vacation?  Do you turn off your cell phone?

Any tips for more stuff to do in the San Francisco area?  There might be zip-lining in Sonoma on Sunday!


Work It Out On Vacation

Vacation is a time for relaxation.


I would say rest and relaxation, but I’m not good at being still.

Taking a break from your exercise routine doesn’t have to mean being sedentary.  Being active away from home is one of the best ways to explore a city!  Today’s Work It Out is dedicated to a few of the ways Lisa, Heather, and I stayed active in Napa* last week.

*Raising a wine glass doesn’t count as lifting.  But not for lack for trying.



The cottage we stayed in had bicycles available to guests, so on day 1 of our trip Lisa and I decided to cycle from winery to winery.  There was plenty of entertainment, as neither of us bicycle.  As we were pulling out of the cottage area, a couple stopped to tell us we needed to take a few practice laps before we got on the road.  Haha!

It was a blast – we went up and down some hilly roads on the cruiser bikes (read: no gears or handle breaks).  Talk about a killer quad workout!  The unexpected value add was that it kept us from buying too much wine – you can buy more than you can fit in the basket on the front of the bike!  That is, until we discovered a winery that offered to deliver to our cottages.  Tee hee.


Photo courtesy Lisa


On day 2 we’d planned to take a break from wine gluttony enjoy the town.  We set out on a 7 mile hike up Oat Hill Mine Trail.  The trail was filled with flora and fauna I’d never seen before.

This tree’s red bark fascinated me:

Calistoga hike


We were rewarded for our hard work up the winding trial with a stunning view:

Oat Hill hike in Calistoga


Then we were rewarded again with a mud bath that afternoon.  No pics of that (it was a nude area), but it was certainly a fun experience (if not a teensy claustrophobic).


Heather arrived the next day.  She is doing the Live Fit program right now and needed to run 30 mins of sprints.  I tagged along and pointed us down the Silverado Trail.  I hadn’t been in that direction on the bike, and it was fun to watch the fog lift from the valley in the cool morning air.

I don’t normally run with other people, so it was also a nice change to have Heather there.  I definitely wouldn’t have done 30 sprints without her encouragement!

Photo courtesy Heather

Photo courtesy Heather


Added bonus: after being so fit you can feel good about flexing in front of a giant bottle of wine from Del Dotto Vineyards called “The Beast.”

Nevermind the fact that the winery owner was looking at me like I was nuts. #shameless

Del Dotto Beast


Finally, we took one long, long walk to dinner.  I thought we could cut down a side street to get to dinner… it ended up making a 3/4 mile walk more like a 3 mile walk.  I don’t recommend this method of exercise unless you have very patient friends.

The upside was seeing a gorgeous sunset over the vineyards.

Calistoga sunset

The downside was walking the last mile in the dark… rockstar Heather ran the last mile to get them to hold our reservations.


Exercising without knowing you’re exercising is a blast.  So is getting home and back to a routine… vacation wears me out!

How do you stay active on vacation?

Have you ever taken the long way on accident?  I’ve gotten lost on runs more times than I would like to admit.


What I Ate On My 30th Birthday

Birthdays should be drawn out.


I’m celebrating mine for a solid week.

Today I leave for a fabulous birthday trip with two of my best wine-os friend: Lisa and Heather.  At 21 we celebrated with cheap shots and beer, at 30 we spend too much money on fine wine and taking mud baths.  I choose 30.

The celebration have been on going though!  Later in the post are some birthday eats, but I wanted to share my favorite treats first.  My actual birth DAY was fabulous – I was totally overwhelmed by the comments on this post and on Instagram.  If you get a chance, look back at everyone’s “lessons learned” in the post comments.  So much wisdom!

I had a wonderful dinner with my family, including my best friend who is basically my sister.  We missed my Portland sister though!

Mallory, me, Mom, and Madison

Mallory, me, Mom, and Madison


Mom nailed the gift department – I told her not to buy clothes or anything.  There’s not much I need… but I wouldn’t turn down a little Napa spending money.  She made that happen in a rockstar way.

Nothing says “I love you” like cash credit!


Just when I thought the night couldn’t get better, I received this gem from Lauren.  Lauren’s fur babies, to be more precise.

Does it get any cuter?!


This WIAW is actually what I ate on my birthday.  I had some favorites, and some indulgences.  It was exactly as it should be on one’s 30th  birthday.


Read on for my celebration eats, and then check out Jenn’s link up for everyone else’s delicious days.



My morning cocktail (apple cider vinegar, water, Glutamine, and Fitmixer Aminos) was served martini-style in honor of my birthday.  Who doesn’t want to start their 30th year out with a draaaank?




This is an old favorite.  I don’t know why it’s been so long since I’ve made PB & Ceggs, but it’s what I wanted for my birthday.  This is the perfect time of year to make it because the carrots are so sweet and juicy!

This is the version with an egg scramble, not the tofu in the linked recipe.  It’s good both ways though!  Even better with sprinkles:

PB & Ceggs



This was a desperation meal.  I leave for Napa today and I knew I’d be eating out for a couple of meals due to birthday celebrations so I didn’t do my usual grocery trip.  Bring on the canned tuna!

This mix is tuna, nutritional yeastcayenne, cumin, pepperherbs de provence, turmeric, and balsamic vinegar.  I tossed it with the end of a bag of spinach and ate it with a slice of P28 protein bread… on a ZooPals plate to preserve my youthfulness. 😉


Finally time for my birthday meal!  My mom treated baby sister, my best friend, and me to dinner at Seed Kitchen & Bar.  I was really excited because I got to try a new-to-me fish: Wreckfish.  Wreckfish is like a cross between Sea Bass (my favorite!) and Halibut.

Wreckfish at Seed

We did have to send my dish back (wayyyy overcooked), but on the second round it was perfection.  Our server was nice enough to give me the sides from another special, so I was able to have caramelized brussels and roasted cauliflower on my birthday.  It was a giant plate of my favorite things!



Simple and delicious.  As my “cake,” I ordered a fresh-baked and slightly undercooked chocolate chunk skillet cookie a la mode.  Mom and baby sis were allowed one bite each. 😉

Birthday skillet cookie


I forgot to take a picture of the 3 cards I received at dinner.  All were related to boobs.  Way to go, Family! 😉

Have you ever tried Wreckfish?

What is your favorite thing to eat on your birthday?  


A Food & Wine Weekend

3 days of all the food and drinks imaginable.


It’s like how I envision heaven, except in heaven you never get too full.

This weekend was my favorite event in Atlanta: The Food & Wine Festival.  Many of you have probably heard of the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.  This event was modeled after that.  It’s in its 3rd year, and this was my 3rd year attending.  It just keeps getting better!

Kat, my friend and bi-weekly guest blogger, came with me to the first day:

Kat and Me


I can’t even being to recap everything from the weekend, but today I wanted to share some of the eats (and drinks) with you.  You will be shocked at the volume… but one thing you learn is NOT to clean your plate.  Take a bite and toss it.  It sounds wasteful, and I had a really hard time (read: failed) doing it in my first year… but if you ate everything you’d explode.  Those starving children in Africa aren’t going to benefit from you finishing every dish.  I was stuffed from the millions of bites!

The kickoff was on Thursday night at JCT Kitchen in Atlanta.  It was set up like a tailgate party where you went from table to table sampling foods and drink created by chefs and mixologists around the Southeast.  It was aptly named Pig Out.

Food & Wine Atlanta Pig Out Dinner

Clockwise from top left: Tito’s vodka with , bonal, aperol, lemon, cucumber, tonic from Paper Plane in Atlanta; Southern BLT Slider with pimento cheese and bacon jam from The Hungry Peach in Atlanta; Pork ribs with moonshine BBQ and peach slaw and a deviled egg from JCT Kitchen (this was my favorite… and I don’t even like ribs!); Cupcake heaven: coconut with marshmallow icing, strawberry, and red velvet by Sugaree’s in Mississippi; Shrimp with rhubarb and summer pea sauce


Atlanta Food & Wine Pig Out at JCT

Clockwise from top left: tailgate scene; Four Roses bourbon with marsaca cherry paste, lemon, and orange blossom from The Crunkleton in Chapel Hill, NC; Blood sausage queso fundido with corn tortillas from Underbelly in Houston, TX (blood sausage is not my favorite… but I tried a bite); Grilled andoullie, cheese grits, and sauce piquante from Restaurant Iris in Memphis, TN (the piquante was amazing); Cherry Old Smokey moonshine cocktail (I loved the ‘staches); Country sausage with Southern kraut and beer mustard from Local Three in Atlanta (mustard WIN).


Friday and Saturday started out with workouts.  A good sweat to begin the day is a must during this weekend!  I got in a great weight session and ran some stairs in the park on Saturday.  They sky looked threatening, but it cleared up by the time I walked to the event!



We had classes each morning, then it was on to the tasting tents!  More on the classes later – I learned a LOT!  For now, the gluttony.

I wish I could remember each restaurant, but it’s hard to juggle food, wine, cameras, and taking notes.  #bloggerfail

Atlanta Food and Wine 2013 Tasting Tents

Things to note:

  • Strawberry moonshine is delicious.  And dangerous – it tastes like candy.
  • The bottom left pic is a piece of pork belly… with a Pop Rocks crust.  Literally an explosion in your mouth.  That’s what she said.
  • The bottom middle is the Pine Street Market table, which was my overall favorite each day.
  • The bottom right was a collard-wrapped sweet potato tamale from Acre, a restaurant set to open this fall in Auburn, AL.  It was really, really good.


Atlanta Food & Wine Festival 2013 tasting tents

Things to note:

  • The BBQ taco in the top middle was from Fox Bros. BBQ and was enough to convince me I actually do like some BBQ.
  • The salad on the bottom left was incredible – it was topped with blueberry-lemon-thyme jam from Sallie’s Greatest.
  • Honeysuckle Gelato continues to be good.  Their honey-fig is my favorite!
  • Frozen Pints is beer ice cream.  I SWEAR I had this idea to do this when I was 16.


2013 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival tasting tents

Things to note:

  • The salmon in the top middle is crave-worthy.  I’m considering a trip to Louisville, KY to get more from Proof on Main.
  • Mole Negro Chocolate (bottom right) from French Broad Chocolates in Asheville, NC was impressive – at first I thought it was plain… and then a full 5 second into the bite the kicker came – a delicious wave of chili and spice.


2013 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival tasting tents

Things to note:

  • The Lazy Goat in Greenville, SC made the dish on the bottom left.  It was a Moroccan braised lamb shank with cucumber yogurt and a plantain chip.  It stands out in my mind because I loved the warm sauce and rich lamb again the fresh, cool yogurt.
  • I wish I could remember where the dish in the bottom middle came from.  It was a cucumber wasabi sorbet with shrimp and mango sauce.  Light and delicious.


The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival is what’s marvelous in my world today.  Check out Katie’s link up for everyone else’s highlight reels!

Marvelous Monday


Annnnd… salads are also marvelous.  Sunday I sold my pass – I was stuffed!  Instead, I played 3 softball games (we are 8-1 for the season!) and spent $50 on veggies alone at the farmer’s market.  There will be a lot of this happening this week:



Stick a fork in me, I am DONE.

Have you been to a food festival?  Are any of the restaurants I mentioned in your hometown?

What was the most marvelous part of your weekend?