Archives for December 2012

Happy NYE!

Hello my little Olives!

A quick post today to wish everyone a very happy New Year’s Eve! I hope you have a fun AND safe night and a wonderful 2013 full of healthy (yet delicious!) food, decadent wine, fun travels and fitness achievements :)

Mitchell NYE

Mitchell’s resolution is to bark less in 2013… We’ll see how long he sticks with it! ;) Check out my 2013 New Year’s Resolutions!

I Can Ski!! And My Final 2012 Weekly Health Goals

Hi friends! I hope you are all having awesome weekends!

**I recently created a new Facebook Page! I would love it if you “liked” my page to get updates on my blog posts and life :) ** 

Kyle and I are on our way back to Chicago after a long weekend of skiing and snowboarding in Utah. On Friday morning, I wasn’t too hopeful or excited about skiing but after a lesson from a certified trainer, I gained a huge amount of confidence! The two best pieces of advice David, my trainer, gave me were: 1) to look ahead at where I want to go. I have a bad habit of looking directly down at my skis which causes skiers to crash… And 2) to lean forward in an athletic stance. I got the athletic stance down right away (thanks CrossFit!) and after I realized that leaning forward actually helped me gain control of my speed and direction, I got the hang of skiing! I had the biggest smile on my face after I made it down my first hill :)

I ended up going down the mountain 4 times Friday afternoon after my lesson and 9 times Saturday morning. I would have gone back out Saturday afternoon but my legs were shaky and worn out and I didn’t want to risk losing control and rolling down the entire side of the mountain :)

If you are ever in Utah and are looking for a fun place to ski, I totally recommend Solitude Mountain Resort. There were hardly ANY lines for the ski lifts, the trainers for the ski academy were great and super informative and the powder was outrageous!

I received a lot of comments and emails after my last post about how a lot of you are just as terrified of skiing as I was (yep, WAS!!) before this trip. I am still a novice skier but the best piece of advice I can give you is to take lessons and to continue to practice. I went down the same green 13 times and, before that, the bunny hill probably 15 times and was finally gaining confidence toward the end of the weekend. I really used my trainer’s advice and repeated “Look and Lean” to myself while I was skiing down the mountain. Also, don’t let anyone else talk you into going on a hill you aren’t comfortable with. This is when you have a higher probability of falling, losing the confidence you’ve gained and increasing the potential of injuring yourself! Seriously, if I can ski in Utah, ANYONE can ski in Utah :)

Check out the gorgeous views from the top halfway down the mountain!

That off-white spec by the tree is Kyle!

Mountain Photo 1

mountain photo 2

mountain photo 3

Kyle and I at our condo before heading to The Library (a bar at the resort) for some post-skiing medication ;)

Mountain Photo 4 - B&K

Kyle relaxing at The Library before heading out for dinner.

mountain photo 5

Since this is another holiday week, my health goals and meal planning aren’t going to be as good as I would like them to be. I’m going to focus on continuing to be active since I know I’ll be eating some not-so-healthy foods in the coming days (Like the pizza I am going to order at 1am on January 1st! Haha ;) ).

Weekly Meal Plan

  • Sunday: Healthy, homemade dinner – TBD
  • Monday: NYE Party
  • Tuesday: Travel Day – Something from the freezer :/
  • Wednesday: Spanikopita
  • Thursday: Fajitas
  • Friday: TBD
  • Saturday: Becky’s Celebration Dinner! (More on what I’m celebrating to come next week!!)

Weekly Fitness Plan

  • Sunday: Rest
  • Monday: Run or Elliptical
  • Tuesday: Run – Happy New Year!!
  • Wednesday: CrossFit
  • Thursday: CrossFit
  • Friday: CrossFit
  • Saturday: Run or Elliptical

Overall Weekly Health Goal

Get back on track in 2013! Check out my 2013 New Year’s resolutions I made about a week ago. To be honest, I haven’t really fallen off track in the last few weeks of 2012. I have definitely eaten more than I typically would because of traveling but I have also been ridiculously active – I’ve made it to my mother-in-law’s gym everyday in Chicago plus skiing is a killer workout! I’m excited to go home Tuesday night and to start cooking healthy and delicious meals and to get back on a regular fitness routine.

What are your health goals for the last week of 2012/first week of 2013? Do you have any health-related or fitness New Year’s resolutions?

{mostly} Picturesque Utah Update

Hi friends! Happy Friday!

A few things I’ve learned the past few days in Utah:

  1. Skiing and I are not friends. We will most likely remain amicable for the remainder of the week but after that we will be parting ways.
  2. Joy (my mother-in-law) has the patience of a saint. She spent over an hour guiding me down a green (yes, a GREEN) hill this morning. I spent a majority of that time face down on the mountain.
  3. 4-wheel drive vehicles should be required when driving to Solitude, Utah.
  4. Utah’s liquor laws are bizarre, although they have fun bar names. The Thirsty Squirrel, anyone?
  5. Kyle and I have waaaay too many hats (see photos below).
  6. Babbling brooks and streams DO exist – I found one yesterday and was mesmerized for 5 minutes. So peaceful.

Canadians, eh?

BFFs 4-eva!

Ninja and Russian Spy… OR Boris and Natasha ;)

Utah Hike 1

Utah Hike 2

Utah Hike 3

Utah Hike 4

Utah Hike 5

utah hike 6

utah hike 7

utah hike 8

Utah Hike 9

What are your plans for the weekend? Are you going on any trips for NYE?

Elf For Health Challenge – 20 Things I’m Thankful For!

Have you heard of the Elf For Health Challenge?

Two of my favorite bloggers, Elle at Nutritionella and Lindsay from The Lean Green Bean, developed a fun challenge to help keep those participating healthy over the holidays! They have daily assignments and tasks to keep you on track. You are also assigned an elf partner that helps support and encourage you throughout the process – SO. MUCH. FUN! My elf for the next week is Leslie, check out her blog: Musings From the Front Porch Swing.

Check out Elle’s page if you want to learn more about Elf For Health!

Today’s assignment was to create a list of 20 things you are thankful for. Below is my list!

  1. Kyle, my loving and adorable husband. 
  2. Mitchell, my cute and naughty pup.
  3. My family and their unconditional support.
  4. My friends – both near and far.
  5. In-laws that I love spending time with! I feel it is rare to have such a great relationship with your spouse’s family :)
  6. A job and coworkers that I love.
  7. My ability to be active and run, walk, hike, do yoga and CrossFit.
  8. Means to travel as frequently as I like.
  9. Owning our own condo.
  10. My optimistic personality.
  11. Olives ‘n’ Wine and all of my readers :)
  12. Coffee, particularly soy lattes.
  13. Technology – I’m addicted!
  14. Living in Minneapolis, a super health-conscious city with TONS of trails, lakes, and other ways to have fun and be healthy outside.
  15. My education – for what opportunities it has given me and who I met along the way (including Kyle!).
  16. Wine – I have to be honest here!
  17. My persistance – I am pretty determined and tend to focus and work on things until I excel.
  18. My love of baking and cooking – YUM!
  19. Spas – Shallow? Maybe, but I love a good massage, facial and mani/pedi.
  20. My health.

What are you thankful for?

Grandma’s Cheeseball

Hi! How has your Christmas week been going?

Can you believe that New Year’s Eve is in just a few short days? It seems that 2012 flew by too quickly! Kyle and I will be attending a NYE party in downtown Chicago with some friends. It should be a really fun time!

Cheeseball 2

If you are hosting your own NYE party, I have the perfect hors d’oeuvres recipe for you. My Grandma’s Cheeseball! Many years ago, my grandmother’s church created a cookbook that included recipes from members of her congregation. I don’t think that this recipe was originally hers and I don’t remember who first made this delicious ball of cheese for me BUT I do know that this is one of my favorite (and most requested by my friends) party foods!

Cheeseball 1

This recipe is not only amazing, it is also quick AND easy so you have no excuse not to make it for your own NYE party!

Cheeseball 3

Rich and creamy cheese, crunchy pecans, and spicy jalapeno pieces will have your guests coming back to the appetizer table for seconds and thirds of this delicious cheeseball!

Cheeseball 4

My Grandma’s Cheeseball

Makes 1 Cheeseball


  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 10 ounces Old English Cheese
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1/4 cup onion, minced
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 12 ounces pecans, chopped


Mix all ingredients (except for pecans) in a stand mixer until well-blended and creamy. Wrap in saran wrap and store in refrigerator 6 hours or overnight. Roll in pecans and serve with crackers or pretzels. Enjoy!

Cheeseball 5

Super easy, right? What a great way to impress your friends on New Year’s Eve!

What are your plans for NYE? Are you hosting a party for your friends?

And We’re Off… to Utah!

Hi! I hope you had a very merry Christmas and enjoyed the wonderful holiday with your family and friends :)

For the past few years, Kyle and I have gone on a ski trip over winter break with Kyle’s dad, step-mom, brother and sister (Scott, Joy, Seth, and Gabi). This year, actually THIS morning, we are leaving for Utah!! I’m super excited! We are staying at a ski resort in Solitude until Sunday and, although I’m not the greatest skier (I’m actually quite awful…), I am looking forward to the gorgeous scenery, a vacation and the resort’s spa ;)

Here’s a grainy gem of Kyle, me, Seth and Gabi from our 2010 ski trip!

Ski Trip 2010

I LOOOVE traveling and visiting new places but I do NOT love flying. This surprises most people since Kyle and I travel frequently. I am terrified that something is going to go wrong with the plane mid-flight and well, you can imagine the rest. Morbid, right? Typically a glass or two (or three) of wine eases my anxiety but I’ve also found that having a great playlist of some of my favorite songs of the moment and a few good magazines helps as well.

Here is my playlist for our flight today. I am OB-SESS-ED with Casey Abrams right now!!

  1. Get Out – Casey Abrams
  2. Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
  3. Vegas Girl – Conor Maynard
  4. Wanted – Hunter Hayes
  5. I Cry – Flo Rida
  6. Little Things – One Direction
  7. I Will Wait – Mumford & Sons
  8. Stubborn Love – The Lumineers
  9. Between the Raindrops – Lifehouse
  10. Gangnam Style – PSY
  11. I Knew You Were Trouble – Taylor Swift
  12. 50 Ways to Say Goodbye – Train
  13. Scream & Shout –
  14. Locked Out of Heaven – Bruno Mars
  15. Die Young – Ke$ha
  16. Birthday Cake – Rihanna

I’ll be checking in later this week with some beautiful photos from Utah!

What are some of your favorite songs of the moment? Do you have any tips that ease your nervousness or anxiety during flights?

Merry Christmas from Mitchell!

Woof! Mitchell here wishing you a VERY Merry Christmas!

Mitchell 1

I hope you all have a wonderful day with your people and enjoy the extra attention and treats. I’m off to open presents – It is my favorite part of Christmas!

Mitchell Presents 1


Lemon-Ginger Cake

Merry Christmas Eve! I hope you are all relaxing and enjoying this wonderful time of year with your family and friends.

In my many years of baking I have never made a bundt cake – can you believe it?? So, this year for Christmas, my mom gave me a bundt pan! (We celebrated Christmas early last weekend since Kyle and I will be at his mom’s for Christmas this year.) 

I was ridiculously excited and searched for a bundt cake recipe immediately to try out my new pan :)

Lemon-Ginger Bundt Cake 1

Soft, fluffy and slightly sweet, this cake is the perfect dessert when served with a scoop of lemon sherbert. It is also a wonderfully decadent breakfast pastry when served with a bowl of fresh blueberries and strawberries!

Lemon-Ginger Bundt Cake 2

If you serve your family this rich cake for breakfast tomorrow morning, expect for it to become a Christmas tradition!

Lemon-Ginger Bundt Cake 3


Lemon-Ginger Bundt Cake (Barely adapted from Martha Stewart)

Serves 24


  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups flour
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh, minced ginger
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray bundt pan with non-stick spray. In a small bowl, mix together flour, lemon zest, baking soda, salt and ginger. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition then mix in lemon juice. Next slowly add in flour mixture and sour cream, alternating between the two. Mix until just blended. Pour batter into bundt pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes (if cake browns too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil). Let cake cool in pan 30 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar prior to serving.

Lemon-Ginger Bundt Cake 4

Kyle’s family demolished this entire cake in 2 days! I know that I will be getting requests to make it again ;)

What are your Christmas morning breakfast traditions?

December 23rd – Weekly Health Goals

**If you’re looking for my 26 Random Acts of Kindness page, here is the link!

Happy Christmas Eve Eve!! ;)

How was your Saturday? Kyle and I ran some last-minute errands, hit up the gym, opened Hanukkah presents with the fam and then went out for sushi with some friends in Chicago – It was a fun and busy day!

Mitchell LOVES to open presents, by the way. Check out how much fun he had with my gift for Kyle!

Mitchell Presents 1

Mitchell Presents 2

I also was able to do a few random acts of kindness yesterday. *BIG SMILE* If you haven’t started your kindness acts yet, I really recommend it! It gives you a wonderful, happy feeling to do nice things for others :)

Random Acts - 1

Random Acts - 2

My health goals are going to be slightly different this week. I am not going to be making a meal plan since Kyle and I are visiting family in Chicago and then traveling to Utah for a ski trip! If I were to make a plan, it would go something like this: Hanukkah Party Latkes and Dessert, Christmas Eve Dinner and Wine, Christmas Dinner and Mimosas…. you get the idea… I’m going to stick with my eating philosophy from last week and enjoy this wonderful holiday week!

Weekly Fitness Plan

  • Sunday: Run or Elliptical
  • Monday: Yoga
  • Tuesday: Run or Walk – Merry Christmas!
  • Wednesday: Rest – Travel day to Utah!
  • Thursday: Ski
  • Friday: Ski
  • Saturday: Elliptical

I realize that I forgot to make an overall health goal last week – oops!! This week my goal focuses on spiritual and mental health. The holidays can be an extremely stressful time (lots of family, traveling, potentially bad weather conditions, extra food, etc.) and I want to make sure that both Kyle and I get enough “me time” to ourselves so we stay sane and happy. This is one of the few times each year that we can completely forget about work and relax so I plan to make sure that we take full advantage!

Weekly Health Goal

Enjoy time with family and friends while making time to do the things I love. I will be focusing on exercising, relaxing, laughing and having fun!

How are you going to stay healthy this week?

26 Random Acts of Kindness

Following the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, Ann Curry of NBC challenged each of us to offer up “26 Random Acts of Kindness” in remembrance of the children and teachers who lost their lives.

All too often we expect people to be rude, mean or intolerable. This has, unfortunately, become second nature to us. It is considered to be “creepy” or “weird” if someone shows compassion to a stranger. Why? How has the simple act of kindness been removed from our society? Why can’t we, if just this once, LOVE each other and show the respect and kindness that each of us deserves?

(Image Source)

I challenge you to create your own “26 Random Acts of Kindness” over the next few days. Think about what is most important to you and how you can share your blessings with others. It doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t need to be expensive. It is the little things that often make the biggest difference in our lives.

With that said, here are my 26 Random Acts of Kindness:

  1. Buy coffee for the person behind you at Starbucks.
  2. Thank a police officer.
  3. Put an extra hour in an expired meter.
  4. Bake cookies and gift them to your neighbors.
  5. Compliment a stranger.
  6. Hold the door for an elderly person.
  7. Leave a 50% tip for a server.
  8. Leave an inspirational note on a car’s windshield.
  9. Purchase a small gift from a stranger’s wedding registry.
  10. Offer to carry a heavy package or bag to someone’s car.
  11. Sincerely ask someone how their day was and actually LISTEN when they tell you.
  12. Thank a store retail worker in the days leading up to Christmas – They give up a lot of pre-holiday family time in order to keep their businesses open for you.
  13. Allow someone to merge in front of you during rush hour traffic.
  14. Spend an extra 10 minutes with your pet doing what THEY love to do.
  15. Give a homeless person a sandwich or piece of fruit.
  16. Leave $10 and a “pay-it-forward” note on a table in my favorite coffee shop.
  17. Invite a new friend to yoga.
  18. Let someone go ahead of me in line at the grocery store.
  19. Put an upbeat note in a random cube at work.
  20. Leave a book that you have already read in a waiting room for others to enjoy.
  21. Place a $5 gift card on a car’s windshield.
  22. Send a card to a soldier overseas.
  23. Offer up your seat on a train or a bus.
  24. Call a friend, just to talk.
  25. Give a loved one an unexpected massage.
  26. Tell someone you are happy they are in your life.

I will be posting photos and updates about my “kindness” experiences over the next few weeks. I would love for you to comment about your acts of kindness!

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