Sunday, January 29, 2017

#250KChallenge 2017 - Week 3

Measurements today said I gained weight. Well damn. This isn't going so well. And I know why. Whiskey and diet.

Last Sunday night, we had a foie gras private party. Our foie gras ice cream was the best offering. Just saying!

I also had a lot of caviar and crostinis. Damn those carbs! But nice shoes, right?

Shoes by Jessica Simpson and caviar from The Caviar Company.
The next day was my day off with MBT and we love whiskey as seen on my Instagram pic that the new Fort Green Bar in Oakland re-posted during Oakland Restaurant Week 2017

We also stopped at Havana in Walnut Creek for another beverage before going to our cooking class at Sur La Table. A separate post will be on that fun event.

The next evening, I had to attend my Cugino's birthday dinner and I picked up Beard Papa's Cream Puffs in San Mateo. They were pretty good! And not to mention the spread of meat, crab legs and birthday cake and wine. Oh goodness.

Seeing that I'm only on recapping the second day of the week and I know I make poor dining decisions with Court Court, I agree, I am eating extremely poorly. But it was SF Restaurant Week! We went to Plouf for a $40 3-course meal and then went to Pagan Idol because it was conveniently across the street! We had to get the $50 scorpion bowl-like thing. They light it on fire!

Eating terribly but still going to the gym! I see some progress but that could just be the shadows but I liked what I saw!

Snapchat 'bappletree' - New Spalding pants from TJ Maxx. $15 plus ShopKick points.

Nutrishop tank
Then it was dinner with Dylan with lobster, veggies, salad, a basil cocktail and gelato and sorbet. Kind of amazing. Then we checked out the new Sons of Liberty Alehouse also in San Leandro. Who knew! They have been open for 9 weeks and it was a good time.

But it was time to hike on Sunday morning. Trying to keep up with my resolution this year to hike once a month. We did almost five miles on Mt. Diablo (last time was in 2011,) then beer and BBQ at Southern Sweetwater Tavern in Danville. 

Soooo, goals for Week 4.

FOOD - I would say stop eating like garbage would be the best route. Tomorrow, Monday, will be tough. It's my company party and Monday with MBT is usually my cheat day. I need that to be my ONLY cheat day.

WORKWEEK HUSTLE - I killed again in the work week's hustle on Fitbit, with me in second place for the Weekend Warrior challenge and over 100,600 steps in the past seven days. I need to keep my streak going.

WATER - Need to count my water intake and flush out toxins. Sorry, Whiskey, you can't stay in me forever!

What are your goals for Week 4?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Oakland Restaurant Week 2017

For anyone that works in the food and beverage industry we know that January and February tend to be a bit slow after the holidays. Restaurant associations market Restaurant Week in Oakland and San Francisco. Why they overlap, I'm not sure. Restaurant Week is an opportunity for restaurants to attract business with a special two or three course special menu for lunch and/or dinner starting at $10. This is also a great time to try a restaurant that customers otherwise wouldn't have tried given their usual average cost per person.

Living in the East Bay and also dating someone also in the industry, we took advantage of our Monday off and searched for a spot to participate in Oakland Restaurant Week. After searching lunch menus online and avoiding the tempting $40 meals, we ended up at The Trappist with a $20 menu. It was a beer, a shepherd's pie and pickled veggies. 

Though accessible via Bart, we were able to find parking the next street over. We happily found our way into the Umami Mart and met Chris. Find bar tools, books on bar tending and the largest selection of Japanese beer and liquors in the nation I believe. The store was clean, well organized and definitely abundant in all things bartending. Chris was very friendly and helpful, plus he gets major props for knowing DW. I immediately told my Head Bartender about the shop since he also lives in Oakland.

Around the corner past the Starbucks, find yourself at The Trappist where the wooden sign hangs above the door. We almost passed it up. It's a narrow bar with seating in the back. As usual, I opted to sit at the bar. I like watching the bartenders in action and you often get great service being in the face of the staff.

I was there for Oakland Restaurant Week  so I didn't tease myself too much with the rest of the dining menu and ordered the $20 special and asked for the beer while MBT decided what he wanted. He asked for a few tastes of beers, not being a big beer fan. He tried a Saison and a Stout. He ended up with my beer as I liked the Barley Wine from Spain. Can't say I have ever had one from there.

My Oakland Restaurant Week special arrived and it was very filling. I have never had a Shepherd's Pie before and I can't say I would crave it in the future. I did enjoy the pickled veggies and I ate all of the greens. 

MBT had the grilled cheese with added on prosciutto and it was great. Crispy, warm and with some salt from the prosciutto. No sides.

Nice, unique beer selection, crunchy pickled veggies and a good grilled cheese. Cheers to Oakland Restaurant Week 2017.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

#250KChallenge 2017- Week 1 & 2

Weigh in and taking before photos the day before is never fun but they were done and posted. What also happened was that the first day of this 12-week long challenge didn't start off so good.  Friends and I pre-gamed at DW before a Luxardo cocktail competition at the Forgery down the street in San Francisco. I have only been there one other time before with a nice big group and it was nice to be invited to this industry event. I knew one of the competitors, Ryan. His entry was excellent and creative.

'Instafriends' & lovers of the advertising world, Julia & I. I just met her last month!

See the temptation. And so demanding!

Find Ryan and his delicious cocktails at The Treasury
Luxardo cotton candy. Can't say I didn't have any.
The night didn't stop at the Forgery. We ended up at Mr. Tipple's nearby for some lite apps, drinks and live jazz. The Rye All Day is still a fave of mine. Glad they've kept it on the menu. Then finished off at DW for more drinks and apps. Day 1 one terrible.

Week 1 didn't give me any major progress to report. The numbers decreased by a hair so I guess I can still consider it progress.  I vowed to do better the following week. I also started a bet with Dylan to see who can get down to 15% body fat first. The winner will be taken out to a nice dinner. I have never been down to 15%. I have gotten down to 18ish. So we'll see how that goes.

I did however win the Workweek Hustle Challenge via FitBit with coworkers and friends, AFTER being at the bottom for the first two days. I'd call that a come back! Cristen and I were neck and neck and it was a lot of steps. I was moving while Bevo was sniffing leaves, while drinking my shake, while talking to my staff during work and getting an hour in of cardio almost on a daily basis. I want to drop that body fat percentage!

Week 2 has been really good with the exception of one night where I had two drinks at 15 Romolo with Merk and Tara. It was a reunion! I feel like I am eating better, drinking more water, continuing with the hour of cardio, I have clocked in over 109,000 steps over the past seven days and I won this Workweek Hustle Challenge by almost 17,000 steps. Thank you, FitBit. I am also currently leading in the Weekend Warrior Challenge. Week 3's Workweek Hustle Challenge invites are already out. Game on!

Marina Greens from Project Juice
We love Project Juice at DW
MuscleTech protein powder, Organics from Safeway & my Magic Bullet.

Yup, just one leg. Silly auto-correct. SMH. Love my CaliMuscle gear.

The biggest achievement so far is that I have motivated two more ladies on my staff. Morgan tells me when she has gone to yoga, have picked up some weights and did some cardio. She is also looking forward to hiking with me and my group. A hike was planned for Sunday, tomorrow, but it'll be raining. Therefore it is rescheduled to the 29th. We'll see if the rain sticks around. I also have Adrienne on board! I post my workout pics on Snapchat and she's currently on vacation. She saw one and said, 'those arms though!' She makes me laugh. She said she wants to start a work out plan and thinks she would be lost when she goes to the gym. I told her I would go with her, teach her and make it fun. I told her to start getting up from her chair and sitting down, pushing through her heels to prep her for squats. She sent me a Snapchat video of her doing it by a fire pit.

Pardon my French.
I am so happy to have inspired people. I do like the progress and feeling more confident about myself but the fact that I am motivating people to do something that is good for them, to live a longer life and taking control of their happiness. You don't have to have won fitness competitions, wear a size two or be 15% body fat to make a difference. Just keep going. And here's to 10 more weeks!

Related posts:
#250KChallenge 2017

California Winery Log

Thanks to Twitter, I saw a post by Visit California that there are more than 4,000 wineries in California. I thoroughly enjoy wine tasting. It is always a great time with wonderful people. I thought I would start a log of wineries I have had the pleasure of visiting and link posts I have created based on those visits. Visiting where the wine is made takes tasting their wine to a whole other level. Please visit the other posts for more information! The list is in alphabetical order. Enjoy!

Viansa in Sonoma, California - November 2016
CURRENT TALLY: 54 California Wineries

Anaba Winery - Sonoma International Film Festival 2017
Big Basin Vineyard
Black Stallion Winery - Napa 5-29-11
BoaVentura - Wine Log 2014
Cerruti Cellars
Chateau Ste. Michelle
Cinnabar Vineyard
Cline Cellars
Darioush Winery - Napa 5-29-11
David Bruce
Domaine Carneros
Domaine Chandon
Ektimo Vineyards - Wine Tasting July 2017 - Sebastopol, CA
El Sol Vineyard - Wine Log 2014
Field Recordings
Fog Crest Vineyard - Wine Tasting July 2017 - Sebastopol, CA
Francis Ford Coppola Winery
Garre Winery
Gloria Ferrar
Grgich Hills
Hagafen Cellars - Napa 5-29-11
Iron Horse
John Evans
Luna Vineyards
MacPhail - Wine Log 2015 Q1, Wine Tasting July 2017 - Sebastopol, CA
Madrigal Family Winery
Marimar Estate - Wine Log 2015 Q1
Mario Andretti Winery - Napa 5-29-11
Mountain Winery
Murrieta's Well
Opus One
Paradise Ridge Winery
Raymond Vineyards - Wine Log 2015 Q3 & Q4
Rock Wall Winery - Wine Log 2015 Q1
Ruby Hill Winery - Wine Log 2014
Savannah Chanelle Vineyard
Schug Winery - Sonoma International Film Festival 2017
Stags Leap
Sterling Vineyards
Steven Kent
Sunce Wineary & Vineyard - Wine Log 2014, Wine Log 2015 Q2
Trentadue Winery
Tres Sabores
Viansa - Sonoma International Film Festival 2017

Which ones have you been to?
What are your top 3?

If you're a winery, please let me know if you'd like to be on my list of places to visit next and add to my blog. Contact me HERE.

Me at Raymond Vineyard's Halloween Party - 2015
A fun one at the Harvest Festival in Sonoma County - October 2016

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Milan, Italy - Day 9

So sad to have to leave Venice after such a short amount of time. We were approaching the end of our trip and we had one city left: Milan. I have never been before and it's the fashion capital of the world. I was planning on doing some damage, for sure.

We packed and headed down to get breakfast at the Ca' D'Oro Hotel. This place had chocolate croissants, bread, cheese and prosciutto. I was still feeling ill so I had to have some orange juice with my meal. Notice the Nutella packets? Yum!

A porter was going to cost us quite a bit so we took our chances getting onto a water taxi. The device to pay didn't accept cards and I didn't have enough Euros. Sorry, Venice, I had no way to pay for our rides. And there was no one there to help us. I swear we weren't trying to be 'those tourists.' We were cautious getting onto the boat with our heavy luggage and found a spot close to the entrance. The sun was shining and I wished we could have stayed just one more day.

We boarded our train and I wanted to sleep. Court continued to read her naughty book on her phone. Her radar was off on that train ride because there were three young Ciao Bellos in our car and one sat next to Court. Oblivious. While I'm being a creeper.

I actually didn't sleep the entire ride and I took in the countryside view from my window seat. It seems like such a simple life out there. A train stop was in Verona, where the love affair of Romeo and Juliet took place. My father honored my request of sending me a post card from Verona when I was in high school. I'm pretty sure I still have it in a box.

We were pulling into Milan and I couldn't believe my eyes. In the distance there were skyscrapers. The tall buildings were duomos you can see from afar. I was unsure whether or not I was going to like this city. But I was there. The train station was pretty cool. The loading areas were covered by high, arched structures. This is the kind of train station I envisioned in Europe.

We made our way to the taxi line and was taken to our hotel. On the way there, the skyscrapers reached the clouds, logo were on its sides and even an apartment building looked like it was trying to pull off being a tree like those cell phone towers here in the States. Weird.

We reached our hotel and a farmers market was happening on our street. It was pretty busy with many vendors selling fruits, veggies, clothes and dolls. We checked into the Una Hotel Scandinavia and it was definitely a nicer hotel. They had the largest elevators of all of the hotels we stayed in and the front desk was manned by more than one person.

Our room was great with a large closet, fancy bathroom, a large mirror, comfy beds that actually had room to be two beds, and the best wi-fi we've had all trip. AND they had a real gym! Oh yes, we were going to take part of that!

We freshened up, took advantage of the awesome wi-fi and headed out to explore. We used Yelp to find some local grub. We first stopped at a sports bar, sat at the bar and the bartendress seemed like we were a pain because I couldn't understand her Italian very well. I looked at the menu and it seemed like it was stuff I could get at home: deep-fried finger foods. I'm in Milan and it's our last city on our trip. I want to be wowed.

We stopped in a few other spots and I was just being picky. We ended seeing a sign for a small spot that had some deals like our first meal in Rome. They also had a long list of pizzas and calzones. Sold!

We were sat at a table for four and were served by our first heavy-set Italian man. Smiling and helpful, he brought us our beverages. I had the Calzoni Farcito with tomato, mozzarella, ricotta cheese, baked ham, mushrooms and artichokes. Court had a pizza. It was ginormous! And very filling. I couldn't eat the crust but made it a point to eat all the insides.

Next, we headed out towards to Galleria Vittorinio Emanuel. We walked for quite some time and it was definitely a busy city. There were plenty of cars parked on the streets, cars passing by and people on bicycles. We eventually came across some modern restaurants and not just Italian cuisines. We found ourselves at the Arco della Pace, the Arch of Peace. It was meant to control an important road in Milan. Passed the Arch was a huge park with playgrounds, skate parks, basketball courts, a little creek and several people. It was common to see lovebirds sitting on the benches with the woman sitting on the lap of her love. We came across an area where there were tents set up. The city was preparing for an event the next day.

Passed this area was a wall of a fortress, Castello Sforzesco. It was built in the 15th century for the Duke of Milan. It now houses several museums. It is amazing how these structures have maintained themselves over the years. Imagine what it was like in its day. The grounds were extensive.

Just passed the other entrance was a circular fountain and a metro station entrance. Continue on this route and you will find yourself shopping, and large beer glasses, street performers and several opportunities to buy a selfie stick. I knew the Galleria was close by. I was ready to shop!

The Galleria Vittorio is just beautiful. Not for the designer items it houses but the structure is stunning. I have never seen a rotunda glass structure above me like that. I was awesome to finally see this in person. It was also exciting to know that I was going to splurge a little bit here.

After a few stops at Prada and Louis Vuitton, I narrowed down my selections to Giorgio Armani and Gucci handbags. I considered getting a pair of shoes but the handbags will last longer. I first spotted the red, alligator print Giorgio Armani bag. The salesman said that there were only seven left in stores in all of Europe. The other one I wanted was the bee embroidered, brown Gucci handbag. I wanted a classic print but with a little personality. The handbag was also a European exclusive, which means it was distributed to other continents.

Decisions, decisions. So I bought both!

I have never purchased anything that expensive for myself that wasn't a car. My Gia Michael Kors handbag that I purchased at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas was $800 and my Jimmy Choos were also $800. But I deserve it, it was my money and I allowed myself this one time to splurge. The rest of my earnings will go to that goal by 40, real estate on Maui.

We also stopped at Marchesi for a snack. It was located on the second floor of the Galleria and it was bright, baby blue and well decorated with many of their goodies on display. It was interesting on how you order. You order beverages and some items at the counter, they give you a ticket and you go to the cashier to pay for it. I bought myself a little custard topped with fruit, cannolis and chocolates to bring back home since I left the ones I bought at The Florian in Venice at the bar. Doh! These were delicious. I bought a big box of chocolates. I heard that the box I selected was 19 euros. Oh, cheap! And then in the middle of the lady behind the counter boxing and tying a beautiful ribbon on my box, I then understood it was a 90 euro box of chocolates! They better like those damn chocolates!

We were then ready to head back to the hotel. I was carrying three bags worth thousands of US dollars. Just like Florence, we were unsuccessful in getting a taxi. Oh, how we missed Uber. We ended up walking all the way back to the hotel in the dark and through that huge park. My load was not light and I held it close to me just in case. Thank goodness we made it back to our hotel safely, with 'my pretties' safe in a closet.

A rest was much needed and then it was time to eat again. Again, Yelp was our savior. We found a spot and headed that way. It was close by. After the walk we had that day, I wasn't trying to go very far. We were sat at a table for two and there was one server working for a small dining room. He had a good amount of customers and we were in no hurry but then we saw the deals they were offering. I had the seafood pasta and salmon and Court had the risotto and pork chop I believe. We started off with a piece of bruschetta and a glass of wine. I went with the white and I really didn't like it so it was not drunk. The food wasn't great but the service was friendly.

Guests at the long table next to us was getting louder and celebrating a woman's birthday. Grandpa started a conversation with us and his cute grandsons across the table were smiling and making their apologies for his very friendly behavior. We greeted, did the cheek to cheek kiss and he went in for a kiss! Grandpa!!! Oh, Italian men. It never gets old to them.

And then we headed back to our comfy room before our last day in Italy.