Monday, February 22, 2010

New Feature: Chocolate Reviews

Good morning! I hope you all had a great weekend! I had a very busy week, hence the lack of posting. This weekend I played an awesome show with a guitarist and drummer that didn't even start until 10pm! So needless to say, I was up very late both for the show and to hang out afterward, as is the custom in the rock performance world! Went to bed at 4:30am (LATE, even for me!!) and woke up at 9am to watch Office Space, which I had never seen (it's great!) and then went about my long (but fun!) work day. I taught all afternoon and then my kids (aka students) at one of my studios had their big concert of the year and the orchestra that I have helped start performed at that event. Anyway, I am back posting today, obviously.

"They" always say to blog about what you know. I love food blogging and the wonderful bloggers I've gotten to know through it! So a new thing I'll be doing on here is regularly reviewing all the kinds of chocolate I eat. (Because I do eat A LOT of it!) Chocolate doesn't make me gain weight easily and doesn't screw with my blood sugar levels the way other desserts do. Probably because of the fat in chocolate and for the fact that I buy reasonably dark chocolate which has limited sugar + fiber! SCORE! So without further ado, I present the first chocolate review. Consider it my contribution to your taste buds! :) I know, I'm sooo helpful!

"Beaucoup Berries. Rich Dark Chocolate, Cranberries, Cherries & Vanilla"

7 Grams of fiber and 50% DV of iron! Cool!

Dagoba gets major points for a cute label! Above reads "You can deprive the body but the soul needs chocolate." Amen!

And "The Art of Chocolate Alchemy." I really enjoy it when companies put cute little slogans/interesting trivia/funny paragraphs on their packaging!

Look at that beauty!

I had a coupon for it at Whole Foods so I think I only paid around $1 for it. (Can't remember--sorry. I will start including the prices of the chocolate in these reviews.)

It is excellent! I like the very slight tang that the cranberries give it, among the hints of cherry and vanilla and mainly exceptionally smooth chocolate! And all of Dagoba's chocolate comes from organic sustainably grown cacao beans, which I can definitely support!

I can't wait to try their other chocolate bars! Also, I have two more kinds of chocolate to do reviews on, but for now I should get to the gym and then practice, before teaching, so I must end here. More posts coming soon though! :)

What is your favorite brand of chocolate? Any recommendations for me?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Running Music, part 1

Good morning! Yay--I'm actually posting 2 days in a row! Thanks for all the recent comments by new readers! I really love getting them! It totally makes my day, so I just wanted to say thanks!

So I wanted to share some of my running/workout music with you and I would LOVE to hear your workout play lists! Please share them with me! Do you have separate lists for different activities (running, strength training, yoga, etc)? Any other themed play lists? Do you have any particular favorite artists or genres? Especially lesser known artists that I can familiarize myself with. I always enjoy discovering new music, so comment to your heart's content!

Here are some of my favorite songs/artists, specifically for running. I have blogged before about how I am working hard to improve my running (although right now my shin is in serious trouble and I'm staying off of it for the next 2 weeks to even have a shot at running my first half marathon on March 27th!) But ordinarily, I was trying to run 4 days a week between 3-5 miles, plus a long 10-ish mile run once a week. So that's a lot of time and good music makes it so much more fun! I thrive with good music and it really motivates me so much more than if I had to run without it. It also provides the energy to keep pushing through (all of my songs are quite upbeat) because at this early stage in my running, with my extremely limited abilities, I am pretty much dying after the first 1/2 mile and anything thereafter is simply a mental and physical battle.

So without further ado, this is my all-time favorite songs list (part 1):

-Viva La Vida by Coldplay As a violinist, I am immensely biased toward excellent songs with strings in them!

-Lose Yourself by Eminem Always inspiring. It gets me just angry enough to keep pushing!

-Kick Drum Heart by The Avett Brothers
A peppy piano-driven song!

-Drunken Lullabies by Flogging Molly
And many other songs of theirs! I'm pretty sure I could do an entire long run of Flogging Molly songs! They are extremely upbeat Irish punk rock, for those not familiar! Other favorites include: Kilburn High Road, Rebels of the Sacred Heart, Requiem for a Dying Song, What's Left of the Flag, Tomorrow Comes a Day Too Soon, From the Back of a Broken Dream, and many more.

-Erasers on Pencils by Ceili Rain (a lesser known, but incredible artist) -These Things Have a Way of Workin' Out by Ceili Rain
Hard to find these songs, but worth buying the CD for. They are uplifting both lyrically and musically. I could loop these and be content for a long time. -Henrietta by The Fratellis
Another indie-punk band. I think maybe I have a large inner punk kid in me! :) Seriously, high energy and fun. Also recommended by them: Flathead, Chelsea Dagger, The Gutterati and Creepin' Up the Back Stairs.

-Plasti-Queens by Geoff Byrd
Nice and funky, with cool lyrics.

-Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous by Good Charlotte
This was popular when I was in high school, so I listened to it a lot. Good beat.

-The Middle by Jimmy Eat World
"It just takes some time, little girl, you're in the middle of the ride, everything is going to be alright." Great lyrics, great beat, so uplifting! One of my most comforting songs!

-Leave Me Alone by Hanna Pakarinen
Another artist who is harder to locate. But totally worth it. She's Finnish (I think) and has an excellent voice plus catchy almost rhyming music. Also check out Go Go and Stronger Without You by her.

-Jesus Loves You by Stellar Kart
I know it's a Christian song, and I don't want to offend anyone, but it's high energy and string-driven, so I love it! I can't say I'm a huge fan of the name, though!

-Fatima by K'Naan -Wavin' Flag by K'Naan
K'Naan has a cool voice and excellent instrumentation! I mean, a sampled trumpet riff? How many songs can boast of that? And his lyrics are great, but sad. Especially Fatima; you have been warned.
-Face Down by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
A very sad song that deals with domestic violence. But it handles it maturely and it helps me push through!


I don't want to overwhelm anyone, so I will end this post here. While I was typing, I noticed how long it was getting and I decided to break it into two (or more) posts. There are many more artists on my running play list, so I'll try to post that in a few days.

Before I go, want to leave you with a few more snow pictures!

My street!

You can barely tell where the cars start!

Big foot. Or just me being silly. :)

My poor little car! I hope the poor thing starts when I need it to!

A cleared sidewalk.

Most of the city is still shut down and most of my evening students have canceled. So I'm just staying at home all day, practicing and blogging. I do need to get some major practicing in, due to that Missouri gig that is coming up!

I might try to walk to the gym again. I ventured there yesterday and got a decent 30 minutes on the SciFit machine + 60 minutes of strength training. (Trying to stay off my shin!) Plus the walk which should have been 20 minutes was 45 minutes each way!

In the meantime, if you're snowed in (or even if you're not) here are two CHOCOLATE giveaways! (Hook me up! You know how much I love my chocolate! Wheee!)

-The Voracious Vegan is giving away some awesome Sweet Earth organic vegan chocolates!
-Mambo Sprouts is giving away fair trade organic chocolate!

I hope everyone is staying safe and warm! Spring is almost here!

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Holy Snow!! Geez, we got about 18 inches dumped on us overnight! As in, in one night only. As in, on Friday at 2:00pm, it was totally dry and snow-free outside! Here's what I woke up to:

My front steps!

And the view from my back porch.

Do you have snow where you are? And if/when you are snowed in, what's your favorite way to spend the day?

I had a very productive day! ALL of my lessons at both studios were canceled, and pretty much the entire city was SHUT DOWN. (Bars, the symphony, even STARBUCKS!, etc.) So I took advantage of it and slept in! (I slept from 11:00pm to 10:30am on the first day in forever that I haven't set my alarm!! Gosh, what's wrong with me? How can I possibly need that much sleep?!) I also did 2 loads of laundry, changed my sheets, dusted a bit, organized my room, vacuumed, and got a lot of practicing in!

In the morning, I talked to my parents for a long time and made breakfast:

A virtuous yellow pepper with avocado, parsley and hummus + 2 eggs with organic ketchup!

And for some carb-y deliciousness, I snacked on...ahem...several chocolate chip cookies that I made yesterday.

(The letters LJ are on many things above so that my roommates don't eat my food!)

Plus a little baking =

(I have been overdosing on these cookies which are SOOO good! Also, my workouts have been drastically cut, due to the weather and a VERY sore shin all week. I have barely worked out at all, so I'm counting on the old metabolism to keep things going! Woo! Yay for a 23 year old metabolism! Lol!)

And apparently I was in a baking mood all week, because several days ago I made these:

Neither the cookies nor the brownies have an actual recipe! I just sort of threw some stuff in a bowl, mixed it together and baked them. Being thoroughly prepared to throw them both out if needed, I was pleasantly surprised to taste both of them and find out that they were excellent! Maybe I will try to recreate them next week and actually write down the recipe...what a novel concept, I know.

Anyway, onto the non-sweet foods.

Power snack extraordinaire:

-reduced fat swiss cheese

Another classic snack:

And some excellent meals:

-sauteed veggies as the base (cabbage, onion, red bell pepper, spinach + EVOO)

**I had a bunch of food pictures on my camera, so I apologize for having to go through these quickly.**

Some random lunch this week:

Tuna, avocado and hummus sandwich.

Close up of the veggies:

Last week a friend invited me over for dinner, and he sent me home with leftovers which fueled me for a long day of teaching on Saturday (a week old...what a bad blogger!)

This was a mixture of shrimp, veggies and a teriyaki sauce over noodles. It was extremely delicious!

Back to sweet stuff now. It always cracks me up when bloggers say "I'm such a chocoholic. I usually have at least one piece every day!" Pfff! Assume that I *regularly* eat between 100-300 calories of chocolate daily. Or more. Oh yes I do! I'm not at all sorry and I do not regret any delicious bite.

Here's proof, although these were not all eaten in the single day.

(From a local supporting local businesses!)

Some of this 90% bar went into this bowl of oats:

And one more:

I have been drinking red wine most nights at home. Currently enjoying this bottle:

Which I bought for one reason only: the cute penguin on the bottle! Some people buy wine based on taste, or brand, or year or price...I buy based on how cute the label is!

I am again sorry for such a long post! Bear with me. I will try to do more frequent and therefore shorter posts!

I'm off to read for a bit before bed! I'm skipping church tomorrow because I honestly don't want to drive anywhere that's not absolutely necessary! So it will be another day to sleep in! Goodnight!