Sunday, August 24, 2014

Brick Farm Market

What a great New Jersey find!

Already had taken a bite and spilled crumbs from my falafel wrap before I remembered to snap a pic!
Two weeks ago I took a random day off of work to catch up on wedding and house things (kind of a bit overwhelming trying to work full time, plan a wedding for 200+ people, and purchase and redo a condo at the same time).

For lunch we decided to try something new. I had seen a place in Hopewell, New Jersey before called Brick Farm Market, so we decided to give it a try. So glad we did!

This place has all kinds of local fare. Meats, cheeses, produce, along with a coffee bar, juice bar, bakery and cafe menu, so much to choose from. I was tempted to get a juice or a coffee, but we had intended to come for lunch so we headed toward the cafe section where you can eat in the market or outside. There were a ton of choices, both in the case freshly made salads etc., to made to order, all made with ingredients that are in-season and mostly Jersey fresh from local farms. We decided to order the Reuben with sweet potato fries and this delicious falafel wrap. Both had unique names and had other things than just the normal reuben or falafel wrap, but I can't remember the specifics. The taste, however, was unforgettable, and I will definitely be back.

But... don't expect to have the same thing I did because their menu changes weekly. Being that they use what is in season, it is constantly being changed up. I happen to love this kind of place. You never get bored, it forces you to step out of getting "the usual" and makes you try something new.

I also happen to love that they had "Natalie's Lemonade" in the fridge for sale. Yeah, I make lemonade now... just kidding. This tasted awesome though, and it made me happy to see only three ingredients listed on the back, water, lemons and pure cane sugar. All natural. All delicious, as goes for anything in this place.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My Bridal Shower!

They got me! This weekend, August 10th, was the second time on record that I was completely surprised. First time was when I got engaged back in December of 2012. I was almost 100% sure my shower was going to be August 24th, because I just had gotten a few inklings from my mom and Carl that it was the day, but I was wrong!

Carl and I started out the day going to church as we always do on Sunday, my favorite part! Afterward we grabbed a bite to eat and stopped at my house, where I first started suspecting that my shower was that day. Then we headed to our new condo to attempt to scrape the "popcorn" texture off our ceilings. That last part didn't happen, oh well. Carl turned down an unfamiliar road, to a country club. That was when I started really got a feeling that it was shower day. I still was a little confused because I didn't see any familiar cars in sight, even though in the back of my mind I knew what was coming.

Still, when the lady opened the doors, I was taken aback when all my close friends and family shouted, "Surprise!!"

My mom and all my bridesmaids worked so hard to put together a beautiful shower, and it was perfect, and I am beyond thankful!

Check out some photos below.

My Grandma & Grammy. I love them and was so happy to have them both at my shower!

So absolutely grateful and overwhelmed by the generosity. Cannot thank everyone enough!

My amazing bridal party!

My soon to be mom-in-law and my mom!

Longtime girlfriends!

Cousins! Each of us were the only girl in our families so we consider each other "sisters". (:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Getting Back to Fitness: 5 Tips to Help You Get Back on Track

Confession: I am a chronic yo-yo exerciser. I have a love-hate relationship with working out. One day I am inspired and get in an amazing workout, the next day I shudder at the thought of even putting on those stretchy pants and that uncomfortable sports bra. Why am I like this? I am not sure. I could tell you all the typical excuses "I'm so busy", "I'm tired after working all day", "I don't have time", "I don't feel good", "It is too late", "It is too early", "I'll do it tomorrow", "I'll start again next week", I have used every one in the book.

How do I change this pattern? Here is how I propose to do it and maybe it can help you as well.

1. Not taking measurements or "before" pictures. 

For some people, taking measurements and before pictures are essential to their motivation, but for me I feel like when I do those things I am starting over from square one again, which is not the case. I have been exercising on an off for a few years now, I need to give myself some credit for my efforts, so should you! I also don't like the idea of the before picture. Usually you take 20 pictures to get the "best" looking one and then you feel like crap because you know this person you see in the picture is someone you need to change and you feel like you have a long way to go. No. You are perfect the way you are, any "improvements" in your health and fitness are just additions to the already great person you are.

2. Consistency, no matter how small.

Whether you complete an insane, sweaty two hour workout session or a 5 minute abdominal circuit, you just did something. Your body was moving, your body was engaged and active for that amount of time. It counts! If you are going, going, going all day long, a 10 minute fast-walk around the neighborhood, the office building, or campus is sufficient. My thoughts are that anything is better than nothing. If one day I just get in a few minutes of exercise, another day I'll push harder.

3. Remember your WHY.

Everyone has a different reason for working out. To achieve better general health, to prevent illness, to look great in a swimsuit, to relieve stress, to be in a bodybuilding competition, to feel confident, the list goes on. The key to your motivation is figuring out your true reason "WHY" you exercise, and keep it in the forefront of your mind. You can do this through an inspiration board, a daily reminder on your phone, a fitness partner, etc.

4. Finding what works for you.

I can't work out at home. Maybe here and there I can do an at home workout, but if I have to count on myself to come home everyday, pop in a DVD and workout, I won't do it. My home is my oasis, my retreat. It takes one too many planks to push me over the edge and make me pause the DVD to crash on my bed. An important factor in helping stay consistent with your fitness is to find what works!

I found when I joined a local fitness studio in my town, I actually looked forward to exercise. They had a great variety of classes, BarreAmped, Pilates, Yoga, Yogalates, Zumba, and more to always make things interesting. It also helped me when I was working out with other people because I was less likely to give up if something was really difficult. Seeing other women giving it their all really made me push myself a little harder. Check out local studios in your area or see what your gym offers for classes.

I left the studio I was at because I am in the process of moving to a different town, but I definitely want to get back to some workout classes in my new town once we're settled.

5. Setting realistic goals.

It is easy to say, "I want to lose 10 pounds by next month", but once you come to the realization of what that means, you may shut down and say to yourself, "Forget it, not going to happen." Having goals and a picture in your head of what those goals look like definitely can help, but setting realistic ones is the key.

Realistic goals to me means having a big picture in mind, but focusing on short-term goals to get there. Last October I said, by my wedding (this October), I want to be in the best shape of my life. Did I set any small goals? No. Am I in the best shape of my life? Nah.

If I had set short-term goals I may be a lot closer today to that big picture than I actually am. The goals can be anything from getting to the gym at least 3 times this week, to losing 1 pound this week, to getting up at least one or two mornings this week to take a walk around the neighborhood. I like to start with just some very small goals because I find it more satisfying if I wanted to go to the gym 3 times this week and went 4 rather than if I had aimed to go 6 times this week and only went 5. See the difference?

Don't set yourself up for discouragement! Set yourself up for achievement!

Hopefully these 5 pointers will help get you back on the fitness train. As for me, I'm taking my own advice to get in shape for my wedding.

Last thing to remember, if you get off track don't feel like a failure, you're not! Just jump right back in. Sometimes you have to take a few steps back to take a giant leap forward!


Monday, August 4, 2014

Recipe: Pasta with Pancetta and Cabbage

Amongst the wedding crazies and the house happenings, a girl has to eat. While I have been eating generally pretty healthy, I do enjoy a good bowl of pasta here and there, I am half Sicilian after all. Saturday, while my mom and I were out and about, we drove to a quaint little shopping landmark called Peddler's Village in Lahaska, Pennsylvania. If you have never been there and live in the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York area, I recommend spending the day here. I've been many times and it never gets boring. Peddler's Village has some of the most unique shops that you won't find anywhere else.

One of my favorite shops in the Village is called Casa Casale. It is a little Italian specialty shop, with pasta, oils, vinegars, cheeses and other unique cooking knick knacks from Italy. On the one end of the shop is a live cooking demonstration station where there is always one or two meals on the stove to sample. Saturday, they were cooking "Pasta with Cabbage and Pancetta". One bite and I had to have the recipe. I bought the same pasta they used in the recipe which was a Fusilli variety and my mom and I went straight to the grocery store for the rest of the supplies.

I love when recipes call for wine. Usually you only need less than a cup and then the rest you can sip while cooking or while enjoying dinner. The recipe used white wine, I had a white table wine variety called "Just Married" from a Bucks County, Pennsylvania winery, Wycombe Vineyards.

Pancetta is usually purchased at your grocery store or any italian specialty shop in your area. It is delicious! We tweaked the recipe a bit to make it more our own. This recipe is Carl approved. (;

Enjoy and don't forget to stop by Casa Casale in-store or online!

Pasta with Pancetta and Cabbage

2 tbs. Olive Oil
1/2 cup diced Pancetta
3/4 cup diced Onion
1/2 head boiled Savoy Cabbage - chopped
1/4 cup reserved Cabbage broth
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
1/2 cup White Wine
Salt and fresh ground Pepper
1 lb. of Fusilli Pasta - cooked al dente
Grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring a pot of water to boil for pasta.
2. Cook Fusilli until al dente - taste after 6-7 minutes, don't over cook.
3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet.
4. Sauté the pancetta and onions until the pancetta is crispy and the onions are translucent.
5. Add white wine and let stand a few minutes to deglaze the pan.
6. Add the cabbage, stir, add the cabbage broth and chicken broth.
7. Let everything simmer for 15 minutes.
8. Drain pasta and add to pan with pancetta & cabbage, toss together.
9. Add salt & pepper to taste.
10. Top with some grated parmesan.