8 Amazing Pumpkin Products

It’s the most pumpkin-filled time of the year! Now that we’re (already!) well into October, I thought I’d share some of my favorite pumpkin things from the season. From cereal to tortilla chips, check out the list below. And let me know what your favorites are!

Pumpkin collage 10-29-2014

1. Trader Joe’s Pumpkin O’s: a brand NEW product from TJ’s this season, and it’s a winner! Think: pumpkin bread meets Cheerios. What’s not to love? I use them in trail mix with almonds and peanuts, or simply with milk for breakfast!

Trader Joe's Pumpkin O's

2. Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Butter: one of my all-time favorite pumpkin products. If you haven’t discovered the glory of pumpkin butter, you’re missing out. Many of my friends seem baffled by it. Don’t knock it ’til you try it! I assure you, pumpkin butter tastes delicious in oatmeal, and even homemade pumpkin spice lattes!

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Butter

3. Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Spice Ground Coffee: in my opinion, this is one of the best-tasting pumpkin coffees out there. I use a traditional coffeemaker, so the grounds work out just perfect for me. For Keurig folks, I’m sure the K-Cup version is delicious, too. The coffee exhibits *just* enough pumpkin flavor, without being overbearing. It’s quite tasty, and much more healthy than a pumpkin spice latte!

Dunkin' Donuts Pumpkin Spice Coffee

4. Brach’s Mellowcreme Pumpkinsokay, so they aren’t really pumpkin flavored, but they do look like pumpkins. These are a game-changer in the candy corn department.

Mellowcreme Pumpkins Candy

5. Bath & Bodyworks Pumpkin Pecan Waffles Candleprepare to be smell-mazed! If you could wrap the best parts of fall all into one candle, this would be it. It’s only a seasonal item, so I recommend stocking up before they roll out all the Christmas stuff!

Pumpkin Pecan Waffles Candle

6. Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Granola: yet another TJ’s pumpkin favorite. This tastes great in yogurt, on top of oatmeal, by the handful… the list goes on. The best part: tart cranberries sprinkled throughout.

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Granola

7. Simply Nature Pumpkin Tortilla Chips (from Aldi): now THESE were the pleasantest of surprises! My mom whipped out a bag of these when I came home for the weekend, and I have to admit I was VERY skeptical. Pumpkin tortilla chips?! I thought that was maaaaaybe taking the whole pumpkin thing a little too far. Quite the contrary! They’re quite delicious, and so flavorful, you’ll want to eat them without salsa or dip.

Pumpkin Tortilla Chips

8. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (my favorite brands are the Nice! pumpkin seeds sold at Duane Reade and the Trader Joe’s version): I LOVE, LOVE pumpkin seeds just about any time of year. They’re salty, crunchy and add just the right amount of substance to homemade trail mixes. Bonus points: they’re healthy, too!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


**Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which may generate a revenue for my site when a purchase is made.**

NYCWFF + Weekend Adventures

Lately I’m starting to realize that my weekends revolve around food. (Also, running.)  I don’t hate it. Haha. This weekend was no different! My friend Anna had a few extra tickets to the Jets + Chefs NYCWFF event on Saturday, and she didn’t have to ask me twice! A day of food festivities? Yes, please.

collage 10-19-2014


Marcus Samuelsson was posing for photo opps when we first walked in. I recognized him right away from Chopped! Pretty exciting. He was super nice!

IMG_6264 NYCWFF Jets + Chefs

The food was all “tailgate” themed — plenty of BBQ, burgers and the like, along with some super delicious dessert plates. I sampled SOOO many things. I honestly lost track. But I did take pics of all the desserts I tried. First off, one of my favorites: these yummy chocolate cake pops at the Celebrity Cruises table. They were just like old-school push pops I remember having as a kid! But WAY better.

NYCWFF Chocolate Cake Pops And then there was THIS goodness from Catch. My favorite dish from the entire event: bourbon banana bread pudding with Guinness ice cream! Just look at that presentation! Warm, caramelized bananas, decadent pastry and refreshing ice cream. I was skeptical about the Guinness ice cream. But its slight bitterness complemented the bread pudding perfectly.

Catch NYC Bourbon Banana Bread Pudding Next up: rum balls from Sysco. There were two varieties: one rolled in coconut, and the other coated in toasted nuts. I opted for the coconut! 

NYCWFF Rum Balls This was very, very rich and fudgy — as a chocolate lover, I definitely enjoyed it. But it was a bit much to stomach after all the other desserts I had enjoyed!

NYCWFF Rum Balls

Luckily, I did get in a workout that morning! I ran 14 miles (per my marathon training plan) through Hudson River Park and Riverside Park. The leaves are *just* starting to change colors! It made for some great scenery.


As for Sunday, it was time for eat-a-thon part two! I told you, this weekend was ALL about food. My friends and I ate brunch at Sotto 13. All the plates were served tapas-style, and you got a certain number of dishes based on the size of your group. We had 5 people, which equated to two pizzas, two brunch small plates and two sides. Needless to say, we didn’t leave hungry! I highly recommend this place for groups. There’s plenty of seating, and the food portions are spot-on. Everything was delicious. My favorites: margherita pizza and the frittata.


Now I’m just spending the rest of the afternoon relaxing before my short-ish week. I’m headed back home to Wisconsin on Thursday. It’s UW Homecoming weekend. Can’t wait to reunite with my family and college friends!

New Running Kicks!

Exciting stuff! I bought myself a shiny NEW pair of running kicks: the ASICS Women’s Gel-Cumulus 16Half marathon training wore my old ones out to the bitter end. It was time for a fresh pair! So I visited a nearby running store for my first-ever fitting. Now I know what shoes I should really be wearing.

ASICS Gel Cumulus I visited JackRabbit Sports for my fitting. While running on a treadmill, they analyzed my stride and subsequently recommended a variety of shoes. Based on the fit, these were the BEST! I was pretty surprised. ASICS?! I am *so* not an ASICS person. I’ve always been a Nike devotee! But I really had to separate myself from the brand and think about the fit. BOY, OH BOY, they are comfortable! I purchased them over a month ago, and they are working out great. If you love a very supportive shoe, these are for you.

I’m already eyeing a back-up pair (maybe pink?!) that I can use for cross-training and just hanging around on the weekends. Might have to make this one of my next posts. Stay tuned!

  • Question: What’s your favorite running/athletic shoe? Are you devoted to a particular brand?

**Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which may generate a revenue for my site when a purchase is made.**


Michigan Vacation, Part 2

Helloo! It’s been a while… but I’m back! Marathon training has been consuming 90% of my free time. Never realized how hard it would be to balance all the craziness! But I’m loving it at the same time. Now I’m pushing myself to get back into the blog groove. I’m finally getting up the rest of my vacation pics from Michigan! Here’s part two…

Paradise collage 9-1-2014

Part two of the trip started at Whitefish Point — one of my favorite Upper Peninsula beaches! It is absolutely stunning, and so serene.

Whitefish Point Whitefish Point Whitefish Point Whitefish Point IMG_5721 IMG_5718

The next day, we visited Grand Marais, to hike and explore the sand dunes. The water there is SO beautiful. You’d think you were in Hawaii….

Grand Marais IMG_5729

Later in the trip, we stopped at the local Blueberry Festival. Here are some shots of my cute candle discovery. They all came in little mason jars, in fun flavors like piña colada. Even my brother bought some!

Soy Candles Soy Candles IMG_5735 IMG_5739

Now, on to one of the best foodie parts of the trip — Brown’s! Year after year, my mom, brother and I look forward to this meal (here’s a post from last year’s visit). The sign says it all — “fresh and smoked daily”! All the fish is caught bright and early in the morning, then served at the restaurant hours later. It just doesn’t get any FRESHER than that! It’s really the best whitefish I’ve ever had.

Brown's Fish House Brown's Fish House

Just look at this goodness…

Brown's Fish House

Brown Fisheries Fish House on Urbanspoon

And of course, I *had* to indulge my sweet tooth at the local soft serve spot.

Snowflake Soft Serve

Chocolate and vanilla soft serve mixed with Reese’s… yes, please!

Soft Serve with Reese's Soft Serve IMG_5755
Crisp Point

And then we visited Crisp Point. I climbed up a lighthouse!


Taking this picture just reinforced my fear of heights. Amazing view, nonetheless!


A shot from dinner at the Tahquamenon Falls Brew Pub. They serve the BEST blueberry beer (and I’m not even a beer person), garnished with *real* blueberries. Yum!


Tahquamenon Falls Brew Pub Tahquamenon Falls Brew Pub

Some apps… I can’t resist a good mozzarella stick!

Tahquamenon Falls Brew Pub

But when it comes to fried pickles, I’m not a fan. I let my family devour those!

Tahquamenon Falls Brew Pub

My mom ordered the pasty, which is essentially a chicken pot pie, but in more of a ‘hot pocket’ type form.

Tahquamenon Falls Brew Pub

I took the healthy route for dinner… the flower made me feel tropical!

Tahquamenon Falls Brew Pub And, that’s all! It was so nice to get away for the week. Until next time…!

Tahquamenon Falls Brewery & Pub at Camp 33 on Urbanspoon


Mackinac Island

I’m back from my family vacation, and I CANNOT believe August is almost over! What happened to summer? Wahhhh! I can’t complain though. I did just enjoy a very long week off! My family visited Mackinac Island and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Below is my first batch of photos, from Mackinac Island!

Mackinac Island collage 8-23-2014

Day #1 of our vaca was super laid-back. I went for a run and then my mom and I walked half the length of the island to go grab coffee at one of our favorite spots.


Flowers on Mackinac Island

A pic of our hotel, the Grand Hotel:

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island

Grand Hotel

We stopped at J.L. Beanery and ordered cherry-flavored coffee. Not your average cup o’ joe! It was sweet and really did taste like cherries. Not too overpowering, though.

J.L. Beanery

Next stop: fudge! Mackinac Island is known for its amazing fudge. There must be at least 10-12 shops on the island within the same quarter-mile radius. No joke! My family’s favorite kind is Ryba’s.

Ryba's Fudge Shop

One of everything?…. Don’t mind if I do ;-)

Ryba's Fudge

Ryba's Fudge

Ryba’s carries a long list of classic and specialty flavors . According to staff, these are the most popular:

  • Chocolate peanut butter
  • Chocolate no-nut (my family’s favorite!)
  • Chocolate sea salt caramel

Ryba's Fudge

We bought the chocolate no-nut (a must) and Oreo!

Ryba's Chocolate No-Nut Fudge

Ryba's Oreo Fudge

Ryba's Fudge


Later on, we stopped at my favorite cocktail spot: the Cupola Bar. It’s situated atop the Grand Hotel. Aren’t the views amazing?

Cupola Bar Grand Hotel


Cupola Bar Dirty Martini IMG_5578


We wandered over to the Grand Hotel’s dining room for dinner. This is an experience to say the least. FOUR courses! You really need to pace yourself! I started with shrimp cocktail, followed by an awesome baby spinach salad, veal (not pictured — I ended up sending it back to the kitchen for lamb instead) and salted caramel cheesecake.

Grand Hotel Shrimp Cocktail

Grand Hotel Salad

Grand Hotel Cheesecake

Grand Hotel Geraniums

It rained on our second day, so we hung around the hotel reading and playing cards. I got a massage, too!

Grand Hotel Porch

Later on… back at the Cupola Bar!

Grand Hotel Cupola Bar IMG_5634

On our last day, I woke up early to go for a 4-mile run along the water. Pretty beautiful sunrise to wake up to!

Grand Hotel Porch

Breakfast every morning was a FEAST. This was our bakery/pastry basket. And that’s just a small portion of the meal! I ordered orange juice and eggs almost every morning, aside from the fruit and other bakery I picked up from the buffet. Best meal of the day!

Grand Hotel Breakfast IMG_5663

Grand Hotel American Flag

Grand Hotel Coffee


Our last stop before leaving the island: Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor! It’s attached to the Grand Hotel.

Sadie's Ice Cream Parlor

Sadie's Ice Cream Parlor IMG_5686

Sadie's Ice Cream Parlor

Sadie's Ice Cream

Sadie’s offers a long list of flavors. The staff confirmed these to be most popular:

  • Toasted coconut
  • Sea side caramel
  • Grand Hotel pecan ball

Sadie's Ice Cream Sea Side Caramel

My mom and I both opted for the “Sea side caramel” — a very delicious choice! The perfect way to end our three-day stay on the island.

Sadie's Ice Cream Sea Side Caramel

Sadie's Ice Cream Parlor

Sadie's Ice Cream Parlor

Stay tuned for the second half of my vaca photos! :-D

Marathon Training

Hellloo, there! I’m back to blogging after a few weeks of moving craziness. (I’m still in NYC, but just moved to a different apartment!) I also have some very exciting and out-of-nowhere news: I registered for a marathon! Ever since I finished my first half marathon back in April, I’ve been contemplating a 26.2-mile race. Now, I finally decided. YEP, I’m going to do this! I registered for a race in November. Running a marathon has always been a far-off dream of mine. It seemed like a cool thing to do SOME day. But some day is only today if you just make it happen! I’m excited to start this journey.


Shore Park in Brooklyn

I found a training plan from HalHigdon.com, the same site I used for my half marathon training. Currently, I’m on week #3:

Beginner Marathon Training Plan

Similar to my half marathon training, I plan to run primarily on the treadmill. I’ll change it up occasionally with outdoor runs in the park. (When the weather is nice, of course!) I know a lot of people DREAD the treadmill. I used to. But it honestly worked well for me with my half marathon. I also just love watching TV during my runs (haha), which helps. During the week, I usually run early in the morning and watch the news (okay, maybe that sounds nerdy… but try it ;-) ). On the weekends, I watch my favorite Food Network shows.

I’m anxious to get further into training, and continue to share my progress and experiences. It’ll certainly be an interesting (and hopefully not overly sore) journey! Stay tuned.

Question: Have you ever completed a marathon? Would you?