Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Brian’s 30th B-day Beer Bash + Giveaway Winners

photo (6)

Someone got “iced” at his birthday party…

This was extra funny for someone who pretty much only drinks craft beer (and wine and the occasional cocktail…but I mean you’d be hard pressed to find a bud light in this guy’s hand if he can help it)

Apparently it was also really cold and gave him brain freeze! 


Before those shenanigans ensued, there was a lot of work to be done!

On Sunday we had over 50 people at our house, friends and family, to celebrate Brian’s 30th birthday which was actually on the 23rd!

The theme of the party?  BEER.  That was easy, but I had to do a little more than just serve beer, that was a given anyways.  He had already brewed two batches just for the party!

So my thought was to create a little beer fest/tasting for the party!  Complete with custom tasting glasses.


I had my cousin Patrick design a logo.


Brian’s Hoppin’ 30th!  LOVED it!!!IMG_4557

I worked with the great folks at Kappy’s in Medford and selected 6 local brews that I’d have on hand for a tasting.

It was actually really hard to pick out the 6 beers!!  I wanted all local beers, preferably ones that maybe not everyone has tried, and I wanted a variety of styles!


Local was easy.  There are a TON of Massachusetts breweries!   

From left to right:

  1. Blue Hills Watermelon Wheat (actually I wanted Clown Shoes Clementine but they didn’t have it in stock, so I grabbed a few Watermelon Wheat for a light “fruity” beer).  Canton, MA
    • Strong watermelon flavor, but it’s natural watermelon flavor.  Refreshing, I liked it, but I could see how some people might find it too fruity.  Blue Hills has some great beers though!! 
  2. Slumbrew – Flagraiser IPA – Somerville, MA  (I was glad that Brian hadn't tried this one yet!  And he liked it!)
    • I’m learning to like IPA’s.  I’m not a fan of the very bitter ones.  The bitterness is from the hops, BUT some IPA’s have a lot of hop aroma without being bitter…those are the ones I like.  Also harder to find I think as IPA’s I originally wanted were too hard to get.   But this was very good!  Verging on bitter for me, but Brian really liked it and is happy we have extra left over.
  3. Cambridge Brewing Co. - Sgt. Pepper – Cambridge, MA (this beer recently won a gold medal at the World Beer Cup so I was excited that I actually was able to get it) 
    • This is a Farmhouse Ale, a type of Belgian beer.  Its light and refreshing but is brewed with peppercorns so you just get a little of the pepper taste/feel left in your mouth.  Its subtle but you notice it. 
  4. Night Shift – Somer Weisse – Everett, MA.
    • I was REALLY excited about this one!!  It literally JUST came out.  This is a nanobrewery in Everett, MA and they have some really interesting sounding beers.  This was their newest and the bottles were actually had written with the date they were filled….5/20/12.  I knew NO one at the party would have tried this one.
      It is a Berliner Weisse Sour Ale brewed with lemongrass and ginger.
      I am a big fan of sour ales, and this was delicious!  Tart, refreshing, and a lovely ginger taste to it!  Brian and I are both excited we have extra bottle of this now!
  5. Pretty Things – St. Boltophs Town – Somerville, MA
    • This is a Yorkshire dark brown ale.  Brian is a big fan of Pretty Things beers and this is no exception.  I for some reason can’t remember this one aside from liking it :) 
  6. Slumbrew – Porter Square Porter – Somerville, MA
    • Another Slumbrew!  Named after Porter Square which is in Somerville :)  This Porter is brewed with cocoa powder and conditioned with cacao nibs from Taza Chocolate (another local company!).  This beer is delightful.  I love the chocolate/coffee notes.

I didn’t know how the whole tasting would unfold at the party, but what ended up happening was that after people ate, we did cake…etc, people gathered around and we all tasted them in order :)  It was really fun and I think Brian loved it.  He said I did a good job with my selections…phew!  It was SO hard not to ask him about it (that part of the party was a secret).


Another somewhat “stressful” aspect of this party was that I, myself, wasn’t really making much food!  Most of the food was brought by family and friends.  I usually have a hard time letting go of the reigns in the kitchen, but I knew for this many people I needed help!!  Plus my aunts are all amazing cooks and are used to feeding a big crowd.

My mom was also a huge help getting things ready AND making food!

We had:


  • chips/dip/salsa
  • veggies/dip
  • deviled eggs
  • mini blt “bites” (my friend made these, they were little cherry tomatoes stuffed with a bacon mixture…SO good!)
  • layered Mexican dip
  • hummus

Main Course:

  • Ancho Chili Chicken (a family favorite!)
  • pulled pork
  • burgers +lots of toppings (I even cooked up bacon and caramelized onions!)
  • baked beans with bacon breadcrumb topping
  • salad
  • bean salad
  • 2 different pasta salads
  • potato salad
  • grilled veggies
  • hot dogs


  • Cake!!  2 Amazing birthday cakes
  • banana cake w/chocolate icing
  • cheesecake
  • brownies



IMG_4529 IMG_4528 IMG_4527  





Luckily for us it was an absolute PERFECT day weather-wise.  Everyone was outside the whole time!  So we set up all the food on the cabana bar.

In case you forgot our backyard looks like this (day after, I totally missed any pictures of the actually party!)



We’re also now in the possession of a new umbrella, fire pit, and that tent on the left!!

Birthday Cake?  Oh yes.  So funny story.  I’ve mentioned my aunt owns a bakery and makes amazing cakes, well I had heard she was swamped with work so I didn’t want to bug her to make a cake for the party.  So, I asked my friend who owns another amazing bakery.

Turns out my aunt did have time and ended up making a cake!

So we were blessed with TWO incredible cakes…by luck one was chocolate and the other vanilla.

My Aunt’s cake (her bakery is Honey’s Bakery and Cafe in Medfield, MA)

IMG_4518 IMG_4538

It was a rich chocolate Guinness cake (the Guinness was in the cake too), with a chocolate ganache filling. 

The other cake was from the Danish Pastry House (Medford and Watertown, MA)


I had asked her to use the logo :)


This was a vanilla cake with a passion fruit white chocolate filling and fresh raspberries.   

OMG.  Cake heaven!!  They were both INCREDIBLE!  If you need a cake you can’t go wrong with either place!! 

So basically the party was a BIG SUCCESS!!  I’ve heard my family had a wonderful time, we had a blast, and couldn’t have asked for a better day :)

How do you handle hosting a big crowd?  Have you ever had to host a big crowd before??  Do you delegate? 

Now GIVEAWAY winners for the UFX and VBarre classes!

The two UFX winners are:




And the VBarre winner is:


Congrats guys!! 

Please email me ASAP at and we will get you set up!  The UFX sessions start next week! 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Boston Sports Club UFX & VBarre Giveaway

How is it almost Friday already??  This week flew by, which is great, but its been crazy busy too!  I’m still having Reach the Beach withdrawals, Brian turned the big 3-0 yesterday (!!), and we’re having a big birthday bash at the house this weekend that I am feeling very unprepared for. 

Well, I’m prepared but I just wish I had more time to get everything done!!

I also still have lots to share from the rest of my Reach the Beach experience, but first I have an AWESOME giveaway…unfortunately this is for the readers that live near a Boston Sports Club!

Boston Sports Clubs has recently started two new Small Group Training classes:  UFX and VBarre!

In addition to the regular classes offered to members of BSC, they also offer these small group training sessions where you pay an fee to take a specialized class for a session (usually 8 weeks).  These small group training classes are offered to members AND non-members. 

I took these descriptions from the BSC website:



Vbarre transcends the typical ballet barre exercise class by blending ballet, Pilates and resistance training into a calorie-burning workout. The result is a lean and sculpted body in minimal time. Choreographed movements using a ballet barre, light weights and a glide board are set to motivating music. (source)

I’d imagine this is their version of the barre classes that have become so popular lately. 

The other class is UFX or Ultimate Fitness Experience!


What happens when you combine personal training with team motivation? You get in the best shape of your life with the UXF ultimate fitness experience. This eight session, cross-training workout blends strength training and cardio conditioning to improve your flexibility, agility, strength and endurance. Equipment such as TRX, kettlebells, ropes and bars are mixed with plyometric exercises to create a balanced circuit where you progress at your own pace. UXF is your one-stop shop for a total-body workout. (source)


This class has a lot of what sounds like aspects of Crossfit!  If I wasn’t already involved with Crossfit I’d definitely want to take this class!!  I bet its a butt kicker!

So now for the details!

I am giving away one package of VBarre sessions and two packages of UFX sessions!!! 

Here’s what you need to know:

UXF (Ultimate Fitness Experience)

Get in the best shape of your life with UXF – the Ultimate Fitness Experience. This comprehensive, body-changing workout combines strength training and cardio conditioning to improve your flexibility, agility, strength and endurance.

You’re challenged to achieve your personal best and progress at your own pace during eight sessions that span four weeks. Equipment such as TRX, kettlebells, ropes and bars are combined with plyometric exercises to create a well-balanced and varied circuit. UXF is your one-stop shop for a total-body workout.

Things to note about UXF:

  • Location: UXF is offered at EVERY Boston Sports Club location – times and dates available upon request.
  • Timing: The next session starts June 4th! This is a 4 week session that meets twice a week.  Usually a Mon/Wed, Tues/Thurs/ or Wed/Fri, and almost all locations offer sessions early in the morning before work, or in the evening after work! 
  • Total Value: $199 MSRP per 8-session package
  • What if I can’t attend all sessions?  No worries, you can drop in and out as you please.

Things to note about Vbarre:

Vbarre transcends the typical ballet barre exercise class by blending ballet, Pilates and resistance training into a calorie-burning workout. The result is a lean and sculpted body in minimal time. Choreographed movements using a ballet barre, light weights and a glide board are set to motivating music.

  • Locations: ONLY BSC Downtown Crossing & BSC South End
  • When: 8-week session, once a week (8 classes total). 
  • Timing: The next session begins on July 9th
  • Total Value: $149 MSRP per 8-session package
  • What if I can’t attend all sessions? No worries, you can drop in and out as you please.

So just to reiterate:

  • Giving away 3 packages:  2 are for UFX and 1 for VBarre
  • you do NOT have to be a BSC member!
  • UFX is offered at ALL BSC locations
  • VBarre is ONLY offered at Downtown Crossing and the South End BSC locations. 

How to enter:

  1. Leave me a comment telling me your favorite fitness class!
  2. In that same comment specify whether you want to enter for UFX, VBarre, or either!
  3. Tweet about the contest for an extra entry and then leave a separate comment telling me you did so. 

This contest is open until Wednesday May 30, 2012 at 9pm EST.

Monday, May 21, 2012

RTB MA {relay recaps} Part 1

Where to begin... I never really jumped on board when everyone started calling everything "epic", but now I get it because that was seriously an EPIC adventure this weekend participating in the Massachusetts Reach the Beach Relay!!


I will remember this amazing weekend with these amazing women always!  


Need a refresher?  Here’s the list of ladies in our running order:

Team Off Balance

Gretchen – Honey I Shrunk the Gretchen
Jess – Fit Chick in the City
Melissa – Fitness NYC
Patricia – Run Foodie Run
Sarah – Sarah Fit
Tina - Carrots ‘n Cake
Monica – Run Eat Repeat
Theodora – Losing Weight in the City
ElizabethOn Tap for Today
Anne – Fannetastic Food
Ashley – A Healthy, Happier Bear

There were also our unbelievably amazing drivers Nicole and Monica!!  They easily became part of the family this weekend too!!! 

I need to rewind a bit back to Thursday though. I left work early, made a quick stop at Whole Foods for some last minute provisions, and headed to the New Balance headquarters in Brighton to meet the team.


We quickly packed up the vans and headed north to Lawrence for a tour of the manufacturing facilities and the lab where they test all the shoes.

I used to work 5 minutes away from the New Balance in Lawrence for over 5 years and I never knew everything that actually took place here.
Some fun facts:

  • NB created it's first shoe in 1982 with their 990, which is still their top shoe.
  • This was also the first athletic shoe to break $100 and no one thought it would sell.
  • Whoever said that is kicking themselves now though, because as of today their have been 14,000,000 pairs of the 990 sold!!!
  • NB is also the only athletic shoe company that still manufactures shoes in the USA! 25% of their shoes are made in the county.


IMG_4284 (material waiting to become shoes)

We were lucky enough to tour the manufacturing floor and actually see these 990's being made. I've never seen anything like this before. Its crazy to see the shoes go from pieces of materials all the way into sneakers!






A shoe is made about every 22.5 seconds!

After that tour we headed downstairs to visit the  Sports Research Lab.

There were a few desks, but also a treadmill, basketball hoop, lifting bar, and other equipment that made me thinks they don't have onto sit behind their computers all day.

We saw and tried out some of their technology that analyzes how you run, if you pronate, how your foot strikes the ground, and how they test their shoes against competitors.



I learned that I strike the ground on my mid foot, which it what I had thought. Apparently striking mid-food helps avoid injury. But we also talked about how being a heel striker is not necessarily a bad thing if you do it right. However most people don't do it right and that's why it has a bad rep.

One of the guys that worked down in the lab also was telling us his theory about how when other parts of the body are injured you keep them in a cast/sling/brace for the short term and then get them back to their natural range of motion.  However, if someone pronates, they get a corrective shoe and that’s that.  Basically saying that being an over-pronator may just be how some people naturally run and as long as their not in pain or injured, why correct it??  Interesting…



We then headed back to the vans, and headed to the Wachusett Village Inn, where we would be spending the night before the relay. 

We checked in, had a few minutes to relax and then we gathered by a campfire outside while we had our first interaction with the videographer.  We had a videographer with us the entire time, and not just filming…but he is creating 5 episodes for the Reach the Beach facebook page about our journey.  We talked about what we are nervous about, what our thoughts were going into the race, and our goals. 

When he first talked about creating “conflict” I started thinking Real World: Reach the Beach.  But in reality it was more our own conflicts with what we might struggle with over the course of the relay.

Then it was dinner time!


Maybe nachos aren’t the best pre-race dinner…oh well!  I also had a big salad, and a few bites of mac and cheese that was passed around the table.  I love people who share :)

Just like the HLS, Elizabeth was my roomie and partner in crime…sadly we weren’t in the same van but we kept in constant contact via the twitter machine.  


In fact…twitter + group texting = the most action my cell phone has seen in a 2-day period EVER.  If you’ve  never group texted…get on it.  Its life changing.

After breakfast Friday morning we all headed to Mt. Wachusett to register, go through orientation, and get ready to send Gretchen off on the first leg!!



I love these girls!



Team Fast Food Nation:

Loved some of the costumes we saw!!

Gretchen getting ready to tackle the first leg…basically up Mt Wachusett!


And they’re off! IMG_4407  

I’m guessing by now you’ve read some of the other re-caps, and we were all trying not to do TOO many posts but there is just SO much to share.  I’m going to stop here for now, but I can’t WAIT to talk about the actual race!!!