Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cranberry Orange Sparkler with Sweet 'N Low

We're staying in on New Year's Eve, which is my preferred way to ring in a brand new year. I'll be drinking a Cranberry Orange Sparkler with Sweet 'N Low to celebrate.

I found the recipe in Dash, an insert that came in our local newspaper, and adapted it. I thought it sounded like the perfect winter cocktail.

Cranberry Orange Sparkler with Sweet 'N Low

Servings: Makes 8 drinks

2 cups red wine (pinot noir)
1 cup cranberry juice
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup raspberry vodka
one packet of Sweet 'N Low

I mixed it all up in the cocktail shaker I received and refrigerated it for one hour before serving.

I received the cocktail shaker and Sweet 'N Low as a part of the DailyBuzz Food Tastemaker program. Thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Day 2012

Christmas was relaxing and lovely.

Craig and I woke up and opened our gifts to each other. He spent a lot of time looking for the perfect blog business cards for me and these from Moo turned out so perfect! What a great gift idea because I have wanted blog business cards for ages. The teal color and kitchen graphics are so me and super cute!

Check out the backs of the cards. There are a bunch of different colors in the pack of 50 he ordered. In the future, Craig would actually like to do a guest blog post about his positive experience with Moo.

In the afternoon, I went to my parents' house while Craig stayed home with Karma to make sure he was still ok. Here is my mom with the Aveda hand cream and antibacterial gel we got her. She will need both on our trip to Europe this Spring. About a month ago, we talked about loving lemon curd and how expensive it tends to be. When I found it at Trader Joe's for a great price, I knew I had to get her it for Christmas.

Here's my dad being silly with the bottle of wine I got him. I also purchased a gift card to Panera for my parents as they love to eat there.

I ended up with a sweet immersion blender from my parents! I can't wait to experiment by making soups, smoothies, frothing milk with the whisk, chopping veggies, etc. 

I also received a Kitchen Aid mixer cover and I was very excited for that and a sifter because I needed both! Now we can properly cover our Kitchen Aid because we simply don't have room for it in our limited kitchen cabinets.

My mom traditionally makes these raspberry kisses (meringues) every Christmas, so I had to naturally had to dig into them. They'are a family favorite.

Once I got home from my parents' house, Craig and I just chilled the rest of the evening. We played WiiU together and that is always fun!

One of the things I asked for from my in-laws was the Wisconsin Humane Society calendar. It's so cute and I am glad the proceeds go to one of my favorite causes. My only complaint is that there are more dog pictures than cat ones. :( I think it's because the judges were mostly dog owners.  

We still have one more family celebration on Saturday with one of my sisters and two of my brothers, so it doesn't totally feel like Christmas is over for us. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you have a wonderful day with your family.

We got our little Karma back from the vet yesterday and he's doing well so far. It was the best Christmas Eve gift to see him healthy and happy again. The boys are back to normal, pigging out at their food bowls together. 

Fröhliche Weihnachten! Joyeux Noel! Feliz Navidad! 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Clarisonic, a new magazine, and a cocktail

Here are some other photos from last week.

I found such a good deal on the Clarisonic that I had to order it. Merry Christmas to me!

I chose turquoise, of course. It's my favorite color. Once I have used it longer, I will do a formal review.  I have tried it the last couple of days and love it so far. It hasn't irritated my skin, which I was worried about because I read about that happening to others.

After crying so much on Thursday and Friday, I needed to use some eye products I received in my Birchbox. I haven't gotten around to trying the eye gel yet, but the Benefit eye cream is great.

I also got this in my December birchbox and it was delicious!

Karis gave away digital magazine subscriptions through Zinio last week. I was so happy to receive my first issue of Oxygen, which features a nice balance of fitness and clean eating. Reading this will keep me motivated to work hard at the gym and eat cleanly in 2013.

We spent the weekend spoiling Tanzi since he clearly started missing his brother. This is where he loves to crash on weekends and I cover him with the blue blanket, which makes him so happy and cozy.

After all of the stress, I needed a cocktail to relax a bit. I tried a new mixture that I am experimenting with for an upcoming DailyBuzz post and I will share the concoction soon.

Have a great holiday week everyone! Travel safe and enjoy your family and friends.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Tough Week

If you follow me on social media, you already know that it's been a tough week for me. Our cat Karma, who is very much like a child to us, got very sick and we finally had to take him into the emergency vet on Friday. We experienced something similar two years ago and assumed he was having lung problems (he has one lung). When he wouldn't eat much on Thursday and was breathing with his mouth open and drooling, we thought we would have to go through with the worst thing possible for a pet owner.

On Friday, we took him into the emergency vet clinic and he was immediately put on oxygen. After blood work and an ultrasound, we discovered that he had pancreatitis. He would be ok, but would need to be hospitalized until Monday. Basically, the inflammation of his pancreas had been affecting his breathing and eventually, his organs would have shut down if we hadn't brought him in. He wasn't eating because humans and animals who have pancreatitis do not want to eat and most humans vomit when around food. 90% of cats with pancreatitis recover while only 50% of humans do.

We called this morning to find out he was doing pretty well and was playful. After running some errands, we got to visit with him in person. He seemed out of it at first and then when he realized it was us, he got excited and seemed like he wanted out of his cage. In fact, the exterior of his cage says "cage diver" and "needs a bath." That's our feisty boy.

Oh and the technician was happy to find a cat that loved this cushion as much as Karma does. I'm glad he is hopefully sleeping a bit more now and comfortable.

He isn't able to eat until tonight, but has been getting electrolytes and pain meds through an IV. I hope he does ok on food again.

I just wanted to share Karma's story because if you are a pet owner and watching your animal as he/she gets sick, let this be a lesson to take them in right away. We aren't doctors, so it wasn't ok that we assumed he was just declining in health overall due to his lung problem. I wasn't too optimistic about his future and was crying a lot at work on Thursday, assuming we would have to put him down and that this was the end. I am so thankful for modern medicine and a caring vet that caught his problem. I can't wait to get our little cat back on Monday, even if it means I may miss some Christmas parties with the family or may be able to go for only a little bit. 
"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." -Anatole France

Cranberry-Orange Bread

Baking always makes me feel better and gets my mind off of serious things. So, baking was my therapy last night and I chose to make some Cranberry-Orange bread.

The recipe I found on was rated 5 out of 5 stars, so I decided to give it a shot.

Cranberry-Orange Bread from 

1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups fresh cranberries or 2 cups frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

1  Preheat oven to 375°F.
2  Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan and have it ready.
3  In a mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
4  In another small bowl, beat eggs lightly with a whisk or fork, then stir in melted butter, orange peel, and orange juice.
5  Add the wet mixture to the flour mix, and stir with a spoon until the batter is just mixed, then fold in the cranberries and walnuts (batter will be stiff).
6  Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake in the preheated oven for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out fairly clean (a crumb or two can stick to it but you don't want wet batter).
7  Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and finish cooling on the wire rack.

I really liked this recipe and understand why it gets 5 stars. It's easy to make and tastes delicious. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Getting in the holiday spirit

It's been a good week so far! I am definitely getting in the holiday spirit now. We even had our first measurable snowfall of the season and seeing the snow falling made it feel more like December. 

Craig surprised me with a little visit to a house nearby that has synced holiday music to their lights. We had some time to kill before the "show" started and went to a local home and garden store, where we had fun with the displays.

The Christmas light display set to music played Mannheim Steamroller, my favorite song from Nutcracker and other songs. It was really impressive to see and I know I'd never be able to accomplish that kind of thing. (Sorry for the awful photo, but it shows how cool the lights were)!

I went to Trader Joe's on Sunday and finally found Candy Cane green tea! I tried it for the first time yesterday and loved it! 

We had our work holiday potluck today and I won a nice foodie prize in the raffle! A couple of people who know me well said that it was the perfect thing for me to win. I am most excited about trying the Middle Eastern sweets! I definitely need to share them at a holiday party though instead of eating them all by myself.

Over the weekend, I need to watch one of my favorite Christmas movies, Love Actually, while wrapping presents and then I'll really be ready for the holiday next week!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

My week in photographs: December 9-14

Here is what my week looked like....

On Sunday, I tried out a new machine at the gym. It's called NuStep and while it may seem like it's made for baby boomers, I think it is perfect for my sprained ankle situation. It's a recumbent elliptical. I definitely got my heart rate up using it on a higher resistance and on Monday, my arms hurt so badly, which is always a good sign!

Craig and I got frozen yogurt for the first time in a couple of months. My favorite local, small business fro yo place, YoMama, even had the holiday flavors like Egg Nog and Gingerbread available. I stuck to my boring favorite of Cake Batter. It tasted so good! I even put some green and red mochi on top. Those things are the best. I loved the Christmas decorations around the business as well.

I finally put the Christmas tree up! I think I've hit my limit on ornaments for our mini tree.

Our angel this year is an ornament that my Grandma made. She died when I was young and seeing this little angel ornament brings back fond memories of her.

Food/drink wise, I enjoyed trying a new tea, Winter Spice, from Twinings. I paired it with the chocolate peppermint scones I picked up at the bake sale on Saturday. The scones were delicious, just as the person who baked them promised them to be.

We received a number of holiday cards and these two were my favorite. We need to start sending cards one of these years...

I snacked on this quite a bit. It's so delicious and the perfect snack to keep at my desk at work.

I went to the Milwaukee Public Market for lunch on Friday. I had the urge to eat something healthy and so I chose to get a juice and tempeh wrap at The Green Kitchen.

It was nice to relax in the market and get away from my desk.

Hope you're having a good weekend so far! 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Wish List

Melissa from A Better Bag of Groceries posted her Christmas wish list on Monday and it inspired me to share my own. I actually don't feel like I really "need" anything this holiday season and tend to just buy what I need throughout the year. Despite those factors, I still thought it would be fun to show you what is on my wish list for this holiday season.

1. Clarisonic Mia. The thing I'd love most is this in turquoise. My skin hasn't been looking the best lately and part of that is because I have been off an antibiotic that was controlling my adult acne. Plus, even though I wear sunscreen every day, the aging process is starting to show and my pores seem really large lately. I have read great reviews on the Clarisonic and think it is worth the money to invest in a tool like this. I have used a sonicare toothbrush for over 10 years now and it has helped my teeth tremendously  I seriously haven't had a cavity since I started using it.

2. A metal travel mug with a handle for commuting to work with coffee. A handle is a must because I ride the bus. I have been doing research on these and haven't come up with one that is rated great, so if you love yours and it fits my description, let me know! The mug below is from Starbucks and appears in a Good Housekeeping article about coffee mugs. I like the looks of this one and it seems to match what I need!

3. An immersion blender. I think this would be handy for smoothies without the mess of the blender and for making soup.

4. Calendars. The Wisconsin Humane Society's 2013 calendar and/or the Henri calendar. :) Yes, I am totally a cat lady, but I prefer the terms "animal lover." I added the WI humane society calendar to the hint list I sent to my in-laws and I hope I get it.

5. A 15 or 20 lb. kettlebell. I wish my gym would get some of these. The YMCA I go to is getting a makeover this month and I am crossing my fingers that kettle bells end up being part of the new equipment. I would probably use them more often at the gym than in my living room.

What is the one item you really want this Christmas?