Tag Archives: 25 Days of Good Deeds


When we went to bed on Christmas Eve, the living room looked like this:

And the stockings looked like this:

When we woke up, Santa had paid us a visit and it looked more like this:

Now, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before (I’m pretty subtle about it), but I really love Christmas.

This year’s Christmas was great, as always, but a little strange. We usually have about a dozen people at our house to celebrate the day, but this year we not only didn’t have guests, but we were also down one of our own with Sam missing. It was just my mom, my dad, my brother and me.

And the dogs.

Most Christmases, Sam, Daniel and I wake up early and go downstairs to look at the tree together and open our stockings. This year, it was a little different. We all slept in pretty late (except for my mom, who never sleeps late).

We started off with a breakfast together. Traditionally, we’ve had a pretty intense (read: lots o’ butter) coffee cake for breakfast, but for the past few years we’ve tried out a few different versions of coffee cake and things to serve with it… mostly because all that butter has given me a stomachache almost every year.

This year, we had a lighter version of the coffee cake, eggs, english muffins and OJ.

We didn’t end up opening presents until about 1pm!

One of my favorite parts was when Daniel and my dad got Snuggies.

But it just wasn’t the same without my sister.

We all had leftover lasagna for lunch…

… but stopped eating for the afternoon after that, keeping in mind that we had a big dinner in the works.

I spent a lot of time that afternoon baking for our Christmas dessert.

I also spent a part of the afternoon visiting some family friends, who were having an equally lazy Christmas. 🙂

When I got home, it was time to make dinner!

On the menu:



Gruyere & Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes (which I made – a non-vegan take on Emily’s recipe).

Peas and Honey Glazed Carrots

My plate:

Orange Sponge Bundt Cake for dessert:

Oh, I almost forgot! Last one!

25 Days of Good Deeds for Christmas, Day 25

Two locals newspapers, The Stamford Advocate and The Greenwich Time, hosted a giving fund this season. My family donated to one of the cases – but for the sake of privacy, I won’t say which. I believe they’re still open to donations, so feel free to join!

I hope you all had a merry, merry Christmas!



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Christmas Eve

In my family, we have a “tradition” in which the children go out with my dad on Christmas Eve to do some last minute shopping. Usually this entails bringing a list my mom has written out for us so that we can ensure that she actually gets things she wants.

Ah, the spirit of Christmas. 😉

Actually, thank goodness for that list, as it makes the hectic nature of that day just a little bit less hectic.

Anyway, knowing how early we’d have to go out (most stores around here close around 3pm on Christmas Eve and we had a few places to go), I headed to the gym at 7am. I did 55 minutes on the Arc Trainer (love that thing), followed that with an hour-long strength class (but skipped the stretch so I could claim my bike in the next class), and finished with a 45-minute spin class.

It was epic. Best start to a holiday, ever. Except maybe when I ran that 5K on my birthday. Which is totally a holiday, in case you were questioning that.

I came back and made my 8 millionth yogurt bowl of the month.

I bought this Siggi’s yogurt at Whole Foods the other day and had been pretty excited to try it.

This stuff is crazy thick. It was great, but I actually still prefer Chobani. Goes down easier.

Into the mix went:

  • Siggi’s Orange & Ginger yogurt
  • Julie‘s Healthy Homemade Granola
  • raspberries
  • blackberries
  • blueberries

And with that, I was off with my dad and brother to go shopping. No Sam this year. 😦 She celebrated Christmas in New Zealand.

I soothed my spirits with my new favorite drink: an Americano with an inch of steamed soy milk and one pump each of Peppermint and Vanilla. Heavenly. And so many fewer calories than a latte!

While shopping, I also caught sight of this guy:

Mid-life crisis Santa. Funny.

It was nearly 3pm by the time we made it home for lunch. Happily, there was lots of leftover veggie pizza. I ate two pieces, minus the crusts.

And then I made some cookies. 🙂

As my belated Christmas present to you all, I will eventually get around to sharing the recipe with you.

Eventually. Let’s be honest, I only wrote about the 22nd today. It’s the 26th.

Back to Christmas Eve.

Before we knew it, it was time to get ready for my dad’s side of the family to come over for Christmas Eve dinner.

My mom is incredible at a lot of things, but one of the things at which she is most talented is making our house look absolutely beautiful. I’ll just give you a teaser for now, and then share more pictures of our house all decorated for the holidays in my Christmas day post.

Anyway, I started the celebration off with a glass of champagne…

… and ended up kicking an entire bottle by myself that evening.

I wish I was kidding.

It’s my dad’s fault, though. He’s the one that kept refilling my glass.

We started with a few unpictured (actually, pictured, but too blurry to share… blame the champagne) appetizers, cheese and crackers.

We had our traditional Christmas Eve dinner: my mom’s famous lasagna. Both vegetable and meat varieties.

My sister, brother and I are, by now, like a well-oiled machine in terms of getting people seated and getting the plates out to everyone. This year, however, Sam was gone and I was missing in action. Good thing Daniel was there to do a great job all by himself.

I sort of helped get people seated. And by “sort of helped.” I mean I took pictures of people sitting down.

That’s my Nana taking a picture of me taking pictures. It’s like she’s a blogger or something.

I wish I had better pictures to share with you, but I was too busy getting drunk socializing with my family.

We also had some salad. Gotta have your greens!

My plate (a little of both lasagnas + salad):

Sorry the flash blew it out. We had the lights very low. Flash was necessary. Also, alcohol exponentially decreases my picture-taking skills with each glass.

And there were a few glasses.

Dessert was a reverse chocolate roll, also made by my talented mother.

She usually makes a chocolate roll with whipped cream filling, but she switched it around this year.

She still, however, made whipped cream on the side.

It’s decadent.

She also made a chocolate sauce and served berries, both of which I managed to somehow not photograph.

My dessert plate:

I was too full to finish it (who am I?), but it was fantastic.

Soon after, it was time to hit the hay. After all, Santa was coming!

25 Days of Good Deeds for Christmas, Day 24

In spin class, when it seemed the instructor was going to have to give up her bike, I offered her mine. After all, I’d already had a pretty complete workout. Fortunately, someone who had signed up on the list ended up not coming to class. So, both the instructor and I ended up being able to get our spin on. 🙂 But still, I offered!


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I have been the worst blogger lately.

Eesh. Sorry.

Let me get through things kind of quickly. I’ll start with the 22nd and 23rd. Interestingly, in those two days, I did most things in twos.

The first meal totally doesn’t fall into that, though. I just had another yogurt bowl. But what a yogurt bowl it was!

Into the mix went:

  • Strawberry Banana CHO
  • Julie‘s healthy homemade granola
  • blueberries
  • raspberries
  • 1/2 banana, sliced

Now, for the twos.

I had two coffees. One for each day.

On Wednesday, I had a Toasted Almond coffee from Zumbach’s… on which my mom decided to write a new spelling of my name.

And on Thursday, a soy latte.

Wednesday brought two fish-based meals.

Lunch was fresh Italian bread and tuna salad, both from a local Italian deli & bakery, toasted and topped with cheddar cheese to make a tuna melt. On the side: green beans with EVOO, walnuts, almonds, fresh parmesan and dried cranberries – from the same deli. Delish.

So fresh.

For dinner: leftovers of the grilled shrimp, sauteed vegetables & rice.

On Thursday morning, I made two bowls (well, mugs) of oatmeal – one for me and one for my dad.



Into the mix (for two) went:

  • 1 cup oats
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup 1% organic milk (for the record, I like almond milk much better in oatmeal)
  • 1 banana, sliced & mushed
  • a few dashes cinnamon
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

On top (of mine, 1/3 of the oatmeal):

  • creamy honey
  • blueberries
  • raspberries

On top (of his, 2/3 of the oatmeal)

  • creamy honey

Then, I had two tomato-based, Italian meals.

For lunch, I had pasta fagioli soup from that same Italian deli/ bakery from the day before. Topped with fresh grated parmesan from there, too.

Then, for dinner, we got pizza from a place nearby called Planet Pizza.

We ordered a Greek salad, the veggie pizza and a ridiculously fresh pizza called Grandma’s pizza. I had a slice of each and a lot of salad.

I also had a blueberry ale. But just one. 🙂

I saw my first snowfall of the season that day. One snowfall. Two pictures.

But it was nothing – nothing – compared to what we got today.

Two fitness classes: one strength class and one kickboxing class. Plus 50 minutes on the Arc Trainer. All on Wednesday. No workout on Thursday.

Two good deeds:

25 Days of Good Deeds for Christmas, Day 22

I actually know I did something else that day, but I can’t remember what it was. But I also left an extra big tip at Zumbach’s, so I’ll list that one.

25 Days of Good Deeds for Christmas, Day 23

At the eye doctor, the nicest old man sat down next to me and just wanted to talk. That’s all! He told me about his sick wife and the fact that they can’t go down to Florida anymore because of how sick she is, and how he’s not used to the cold. I just sat and talked to him for as long as I had until I was brought in for my appointment.

I’ll leave you, for now, with two seriously cute dogs.


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Broke My Promise

Let me start with some gratuitous dog pictures.

They’re totally best friends. It’s adorable.

Anyway, yesterday was a whirlwind of doctor’s appointments, but the most important one was the one in which I got to rid myself of the dreadful heart monitor. So glad I only needed a 24-hour one and not a 48-hour one.

I fueled for the day with a yogurt bowl, since my mom noted my love for CHO and stocked up for me. 🙂

Into the mix went:

  • 1 pineapple 2% Chobani
  • Julie‘s healthy homemade granola
  • blueberries
  • blackberries
  • raspberries

Isn’t the grain of the wood pretty? I love the photos I take at my parents’ house.

Another reason my mom rocks? She packed me lunch!

She made me a chicken sandwich (basically all I’ve had for lunch since I came home…) with the Crispy Parmesan Chicken from the night before, cheddar cheese and honey mustard on a toasted english muffin.

I also snacked on an apple a little bit later.

Now, to get to that whole breaking my promise thing…

I worked out yesterday.

I just… had to. First of all, my doctor didn’t give me any indication that I had to stop working out altogether, so there was that. But really, after being limited in movement for the previous 24 hours from the heart monitor, after three days of not working out at all, and after a day full of doctor’s appointments… like I said, I just had to.

So, I fueled up with a handful of dark chocolate-covered raisins (what, that’s not fuel?) and went to the local gym (which I love) and did 20 minutes on an Arc Trainer and followed it with an hour-long strength class and then an hour-long kickboxing class. I had a blast. It was exactly what I needed!

And then, when I came home, I found that my mom had made an awesome dinner: grilled shrimp and sauteed vegetables in a chili sauce with white rice.

Um. Yum.

I could get used to coming home to a warm dinner!


Just kidding.

Oh, my mom and I also had a baking project yesterday…

… but I’ll get to that in another post. 🙂 I have a good deed to get to.

25 Days of Good Deeds for Christmas, Day 21

When I was in high school, I was in a choir that sold grapefruit every year in order to raise funds. This meant that every fall, I was held accountable for selling X many boxes of fresh grapefruit… no easy feat!

To this day, despite the fact I graduated roughly a thousand years ago, my family still buys grapefruit from the choir.

Yesterday, I went to pick our box of grapefruit up.

Someone else was pretty interested, too…


These 25 days are wrapping up!


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Electrode Central

Monday wasn’t my moooost favorite day.

Remember how I’ve had that heartbeat issue? Well, yesterday was kind of all about that. First, I had to fast in case I needed to have bloodwork done (I did), which I’m never completely thrilled about. I get a teensy bit cranky when I’m hungry.

(My mom might argue that it’s more than a teensy bit. Don’t listen to her. She so doesn’t know what she’s talking about.)

So, anyway, no breakfast. And then I had to wait for a while to begin the doctor’s appointment. And then I got totally worried as I realized that this could actually be a big deal. I spent the morning getting an EKG, bloodwork and an examination done. And then, I was sent to get hooked up with a 24-hour heart rate monitor, which I’m hooked up with now, as I type this. I am a huge baby and, I’ll be honest, being hooked up with this has somehow convinced me that I’m actually sick and, naturally, I’ve been lying in bed in my pajamas ever since.

Because that’s a normal reaction.

Please excuse my mother’s old pajamas. I know, they’re tragic.

In my defense, the bulk of the five electrodes attached to me, all the protruding wires, and the box I have attached to my hip do all kind of call for loose, flowy clothing.

Anyway, I was very excited to eat when I finally got home. I made an open-faced rotisserie chicken sandwich on a toasted english muffin with a little olive oil mayo on it. Atop the chicken (so much chicken lately, since I’ve been home) I sprinkled some sea salt and ground pepper and split a piece of white cheddar, then heated everything together.

I pretty much inhaled this.

I’m surprised I pulled myself together enough to take three whole pictures. Honestly.

After the sandwich, I also ate some grapes.

I ❤ fruit.

Which is why I so enjoyed also eating an apple for snack a few hours later.

… along with a few crackers and maybe a few chocolate-covered almonds, too. 😉

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some Cake Boss to get back to.

25 Days of Good Deeds for Christmas, Day 20

Sorry, guys, I’m passing this one off, too. My mom gets this one, for driving me all around CT for the various doctor’s appointments I had today.


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Peruvian Fail

Last night, after my mom shook me various times to wake me up from my accidental 1 1/2 hour afternoon nap (whoops), my parents and I went out to dinner. We originally had plans to go to my favorite Mexican restaurant, but my mom had a Groupon (the apple really does not fall far from the tree) to a Peruvian restaurant and we decided to give it a try.

Most Groupons are wonderful but I’m sorry to say that this one was a major fail. The restaurant is called Quechua and it’s in Norwalk, CT.  Without going into details, I’ll just say that the waitress was one of the densest people I’ve ever come across. It was very difficult to be sure she had actually understood anything we’d asked for, and it wasn’t because of a language barrier.

Food-wise, I was also pretty unimpressed, mostly because the entire menu was basically fried variations of the same thing and because there were very few vegetable offerings whatsoever.

We started with two appetizers to split amongst the three of us (please excuse my pictures… I only had my iPhone on me).

TAMALITO VERDE: Smooth Andean corn dough, scented with cilantro, stuffed with chicken breast pieces, served with crispy onion salad.

and BOLI-YUCAS: Balls of mashed fried cassava (yuca) stuffed with mozzarella cheese, served with a house cream sauce.

My plate:

Except I didn’t finish the corn dough one. I was soooo not a fan. The ball was pretty good, though.

And yes, my mom did, in fact, have a chuckle about us having balls on the table.

I also had a glass of Chardonnay.

My parents also each ordered Mojitos, which they found out 20 minutes later were not actually available.

For dinner, I had Tacu Tacu, which is described as a combination of fried rice and white beans (though I’m pretty sure I had pinto and not white beans), with grilled chicken and sauteed onions, tomatoes and green peppers.

I was actually surprised at how good this was, but then again, my expectations weren’t exactly high at this point.

We didn’t order dessert, but the waitress then brought two complimentary Mojitos, which I guess had then become available. My mom didn’t want hers, though (she was driving), so I had about half of it before I called it a day. I’m not a big liquor drinker, as I’ve said before.

The Mojitos were actually really good made us all feel a bit better about the experience. At least the restaurant knew they hadn’t exactly been at the top of their game.

The good news is that even though the actual restaurant experience was kind of dismal, I had a great time with my parents. No matter where we are, I can have fun with my family.

I was supposed to go to my friend’s party in NYC last night, but I realized over this past week that I’d never make it. I was simply too tired. And I was absolutely right. My dad and I tried to watch a movie last night and I was asleep by 9:00 (like 20 minutes into the movie) – which, for the record, was really only 6:00 for me.

I am such an old lady.

25 Days of Good Deeds for Christmas, Day 18

I’ll be honest… for the second time over these 25 days, the good deeds project kind of slipped my mind. On the bright side, though, lots of people do good deeds and I get to sub them in! So, yesterday’s good deed actually happened on Friday night, when my friend Roberto offered to drive me all the way to LAX… during rush hour. This also wasn’t only a good deed to me, but to Lauren, who was supposed to drive me but would have had to go far more out of her way to do so. A big thank you to both of them for their good deeds!


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Travel Day

There’s just something about waking up on a day on which you’re going to travel, isn’t there? You just wake up excited. I do, anyway.

Long before traveling, however, I had some things to do! I started off, of course, with the gym. Knowing full well that this was to be my last high intensity cardio workout for the rest of 2010, I gave it my all, and thus I left the gym kind of soaked.

Interestingly, the boot camp instructor yesterday morning was the one about whom I had not been particularly excited in the beginning, and I now like her a lot. It just goes to show that first impressions are not always accurate and some people (me) shouldn’t jump to conclusions.

I was starving by the time I left the gym, which actually isn’t normal for me. Maybe all of those cookies had something to do with it. I’m surprised I made it through my shower before eating. My stomach was growling!

Naturally, I made a yogurt bowl. They seem to be all I’m craving lately.

Into the mix went:

  • one container of 0% plain greek yogurt
  • Go Lean Crunch! Honey Almond Flax
  • the last ( ;( )of the Frog Hollow Pear Granola (I’m really going to miss that stuff)
  • 2/3 banana, sliced
  • coconut
  • walnuts
  • cranberry apple butter


Doesn’t the cranberry apple butter kind of look like the cherry on top of a sundae?

This bowl was fantastic. I will say, though, that I much prefer the 2% to the 0%… especially since I was starving again by the time 1:00 came around. When I eat the 2%, I can usually last an hour longer.

I had planned absolutely nothing for lunch, so again I was lucky to have a stocked kitchen.

I spread one and a half pieces of Monterey Jack Cheese on a Flat Out wrap and put that in the toaster for a few minutes, then spread the other half with edamame hummus and topped it all with some fresh baby spinach.

On the side, I had some baby carrots, more hummus, and an unpictured apple.

Worked out pretty nicely! I also, for the first time this week, finally turned dessert down – even when it was rice pudding from that amazing truck yesterday. I think I might be getting a little sick of sweets.

My good deed for the day for the 25 Days of Good Deeds is one that I cannot believe I am only getting to now.

Warning: if you’re squeamish about hair (like my sister is), maybe don’t read on.

25 Days of Good Deeds for Christmas, Day 17

I cut my once very long hair back in January. In case you can’t do the math, that’s almost a year ago. The hair has been sitting in a bag in the back of my car for that whole time. Yesterday, I finally got around to sending it to Locks of Love!

Check out the ponytail.

That’s ten inches of hair right there!

But now it’s gone. 🙂

Friday Morning Workout

5 minutes elliptical trainer warmup

45 minutes boot camp

35 minutes elliptical trainer (30 min high intensity + 5 min cool down)

Next time you hear from me, I’ll be in Connecticut!



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