Nutty Cinnabon

My dear friend Ariele introduced me to a delicious adult beverage of her creation a few weeks ago. Since then, not 5 minutes can go by without thinking of the sweet, creamy decadence of her Nutty Cinnabon.

A combination of Rumchata, cake vodka, and Frangelico create a hazelnut enhanced cinnamon masterpiece of epic proportion rivaling the notorious White Russian. Drink responsibly and enjoy!

Nutty Cinnabon

  • 2 parts Runchata
  • 1 part Cake Vodka on ice
  • 1 part Franjelico

Sip and slip into sweet, decadent bliss.

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Work Your Abs Without Getting On The Floor

An article on abdominal exercises standing up recently posted by FitnessOverSitxy caught my attention. The article is below and you can find the complete text here.

By DualFit.com

If you think you need to get on the floor to work your abs, you’re wrong. The majority of the abdominal exercises in the fitness world require you to lie on the floor, mainly on your back. But this can be a problem for people who have back injuries or someone who has a problem getting up and down from the laying position.

You can work your abs standing up just as much as you can lying down. Standing ab exercises may actually be even more beneficial for you. They are a great way to start out if you are a beginner exerciser. Many people who are just starting out find getting down to the floor to perform crunches a bit difficult. If you begin by working your abs in the standing position, you can give your abdominal muscles a little time to warm up and get stronger before getting to the more advanced level. Now, this isn’t to say that standing ab exercises are just for beginners. They are great for everyone.

Benefits Of Working Abs While Standing
The biggest benefit of standing ab exercises is a lower risk of injury. Ab moves that are performed on the floor are not always done correctly. The basic crunch, for example, requires you to lift your neck and shoulders up off the ground. Unless they have a trainer, the majority of people do it wrong. They hold on to their neck and pull it up to get themselves off the ground. This isn’t going to work the abs and it will strain your neck. During standing moves, you don’t have this problem. It is much easier to control your neck and shoulders in a standing ab move then it is on the floor.

Another big benefit is the effectiveness of each exercise. When you are performing moves on the floor, you can only go so far. Exercises that are done on the floor sometimes involve the legs way more than they should. A lot of people tend to use their hip flexors rather than their abs. (Hip flexors are located in the front of your thigh.) Many people also tend to use their hands as well to perform some moves. During a sit-up, a lot of people swing their arms out in front of them to get their body off the floor. If you are doing that, you’re not really working the abs because you are using your arms to get up. While performing a reverse crunch, people tend to press their palms down on the floor. This also isn’t going to work the abs effectively.

So you can see that there are many downfalls to working your abs on the floor. Working your abs standing will make sure you do a safe and effective workout. If you aren’t convinced that you can get a successful ab workout standing up, perform these moves the next time you work your abs.

1) Knee Cross Crunch
This move is going to work every muscle in your stomach. To perform this move: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in one hand. Extend the arm with your dumbbell over head and put your other hand on your hip for balance. Now lower the arm that was in the air as you simultaneously bring the opposite knee up across the body so that your elbow and your knee meet. Hold this position for about a second and perform the desired number of reps. When done with one side, complete the same thing on the other side.

It’s important to make sure you are getting your knee above the hips during this move. This is what is going to target your lower abs. (The dumbbell is optional. If you are just starting out, you can perform this move only using your bodyweight.)

2) Standing Bicycle Crunch
Think you need to perform bicycle crunches on a mat? Think again. This move works the same muscles that the bicycle crunch does — all of them.

To perform this move: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Place your hands behind your head with your elbows out and back in line with your shoulders. Bend one knee up across the body making sure it comes at least to hip height. Keeping the knee in the air, bend the opposite side of your upper body toward the lifted knee so that you can feel the crunch. Return back to the starting position and perform the desired number of reps, alternating sides. After you do this move, you may never do bicycle crunches on the floor again.

3) The Repeater
This move, derived from a step aerobics class, awesome because not only is it a killer ab exercises but it also provides a bit of a cardio and leg workout. Since this move is used mostly in a step class, you can use a step if you’d like but it’s not necessary. It’s just as good a move on the flat floor.

To perform this move: Stand with your body on angle with one leg in the front with the knee slightly bent and the other leg in the back straight but not locking the knee. You are going to place both of your hands up above your head (your body should be on an angle, you shouldn’t be standing up straight.) Bring the knee in the front up as you pull your arms down to put the knee. Pretend that you are holding a coconut in your hands and you are trying to break it using your knee. Perform this move a pretty fast pace. When you are done doing the desired number of reps, repeat the same move on the other side.

Warwick Valley Farmers’ Market

Every Sunday from May to November, Warwick plays host to a Farmers’ Market with produce from farms throughout the Hudson Valley as well as artisan cheeses, meats, baked goods, wines, and flowers.

For the past few summers I have had the luxury to stroll through the market Sunday mornings, picking out juicy, ripe peaches, crisp baby lettuce and delicious apple pies. Warwick is as familiar to me as my hometown and I lavish in the vitality of the people and fertile landscape that surrounds an incredibly active and lively downtown.

After a nice ride on Cornelius (I have yet to formally change his name), who recently learned how to jump!, I cruised the windy country roads into downtown Warwick. The market was packed with families and friends stocking up on fresh, delicious produce.

I came home with a gorgeous peach pie, carrots, turnips, cabbage. spearmint, parsley, red parsnips, radishes, fresh cracked pepper goat cheese, and a stunning head of romaine.

I neglected to take photos this time around, but I will be back next weekend. Here is a video from the Warwick Valley Farmers’ Market website:

For The Love of Martha: Pet-Silhouette Tote

Every once in a while I browse Martha Stewart’s website to see what kind of crazy craft projects she comes up with. Some of them are wonderful ideas! As a homemade gift to an animal lover, Martha provides the following step-by-step instructions for making a Pet-Silhouette Tote Bag. The following images and text are courtesy of Martha Stewart Living.

Tools and Materials

  • Photograph of dog’s profile
  • Ultrasuede fabric
  • Fabric pen
  • Fabric scissors
  • Craft glue
  • Natural-canvas tote bag (ecobags.com)
  • Twill tape

Step 1:

Photocopy picture, enlarging so that dog is about two-thirds the height of the bag; cut out along dog’s outline.

Step 2:
Lay photo cutout, face up, on front of fabric, and trace with fabric pen. Cut out. Flip fabric silhouette.
Step 3:
Cut out. Flip fabric silhouette. Apply glue to dog’s head. Position silhouette, glue side down, on bag; press to adhere. Apply glue to the rest of the back of the silhouette in sections, pressing and smoothing out as you work
Step 4:
Cut a length of twill tape slightly longer than needed to form a collar and leash. Apply glue to 1 side of twill tape in sections; position tape on dog, starting with the back of the dog’s neck and curving the tape to mimic a collar. At front of dog’s neck, tuck tape slightly under the fabric. This will make it easier to pivot the tape upward for the leash. Continue gluing and positioning tape for leash. Let dry.

I can think of one adorable teacup black poodle names Lyla that would made an adorable silhouette.

Chocolate Covered Bananas

One of my all time favorite summer desserts are chocolate covered frozen bananas. I used the following recipe from Martha Stewart to make a delicious treat for me and my brothers.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 6 popsicle sticks or wooden skewers
  • 2 bananas, peeled and cut crosswise into thirds
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped salted peanuts

Directions

  1. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of gently simmering water. Stir just until melted.
  2. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Insert a popsicle stick in one end of each banana piece. Dip banana, one piece at a time, in chocolate, spooning on additional chocolate to cover.
  3. Sprinkle each banana with peanuts, and set on prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate until chocolate is firm, 20 minutes, or up to 3 days.

As I like my frozen, I froze my bananas before dunking them in the chocolate and placed them back in the freezer to set. I also used chopped roasted hazelnuts instead of peanuts. Delicious! What are your favorite summer treats?

Birthday Weekend

This past Saturday, June 16th, was my 23rd birthday. While not a particularly special age, I have not truly celebrated my birthday since 5th grade when I took my friends to a pottery studio to paint. Not even my 21st birthday. For that I was stuck in a hotel in NJ for corporate training. This year, with my friends being so spread out, I decided to attempt at gathering them together.

Friday evening, began with dinner at a delicious local Greek restaurant called Kefi. The entire table order Souvlaki. Mine was with pork and incredibly flavorful. The meat was tender and smoky creating the perfect mix of flavors with the tzatziki sauce.

After consuming a wonderful meal ending with lemon and mango sorbet, we headed to the Little Kitten’s apartment on the Upper West Side for some homemade concoctions while we waited for the arrival of friends in transit. By midnight everyone had arrived including the infamous Minxy from Boston, two of my cousins and the ever ridiculous Doctor.

Once gathered, we headed out to the bar Prohibition, with live music every night, it’s one of Little Kitten’s favorites. The band this evening was quite good and the place was packed with people pushing up against each other, groping on the dance floor and enjoying their respective beverages.

Upon entering the bar, Little Kitten made her grand appearance by falling in her stripper heels. True to their nickname, these heels are 6 inch deadly platforms that should belong to Jenna Jameson. The bouncer, eying Little Kitten after her fall, made note of her name while checking IDs and wished her a wonderful night when leaving hours later.

My favorite quote of the evening came from a surprise guest, V, who I had not seen since graduation. While us lovely ladies were hanging out there was a group of gentlemen close by. She looked at them as said, “Hi! Why is there no beer? Don’t you see us. Buy us beer.” Mind you V is usually incredibly polite and she has no recollection of saying any of this. We did end up with a round of beer.

After Prohibition we headed to Jake’s Dilemma before drawing the evening to a close and making our way back to the apartment. The Little Kitten had one more tumble in her porn star heels at the apartment. She giggled throughout the whole spill.

Saturday morning began with a delay as we all showered, chugged water and popped some Advil before heading out for a delicious brunch at Max Brenner in Union Square. After a round of White Russians and chocolate martinis, Minxy, the Little Kitten, my two cousins and I enjoyed our scrumptious breakfasts of sweet treats and savory delights. I indulged in the Huevos Rancheros Sunrise Burrito with chorizo sausage and pepper jack cheese. I also had a side of Black and Tan Beer Battered Vidalia Onion Rings with Dark Chocolate Ranch Dressing. Heaven. Absolute, pure, white light, bliss. Best onion rings of my life and the sauce was incredible. It didn’t really taste like chocolate or like ranch, but some sultry, spicy concoction. Yum!

After brunch, my cousins departed and Minxy, Little Kitten and I lounged in Union Square for a while absorbing the heat from the sun. We slowly meandered our way into Chelsea stopping by a few stores and and an ice cream truck along the way. Upon reaching the High Line, we climbed up the stairs and onto the raised tracks that once held subway cars now covered with grasses, trees and flowers.


We followed the greenery for a while lavishing in the vibrant life surrounded by so many steel and glass buildings before leaving the high road for the shores of the Hudson as we found ourselves on a long line leading into The Frying Pan. The line moved swiftly and we were soon seated at a large table sipping on our drinks, Minxy with Jack on the rocks of course.

View of Manhattan from the Frying Pan, courtesy of Minxy.

As we consumed our drinks and the order of calamari I could not resist getting, the leftover pitcher of sangria from the group before stared at us longingly, willing us to drink it. Once all those who were privy to the true owners of that pitcher left, Little Kitten, in one bold move, grabbed the pitcher and filled her glass with sweet white wine with blueberries and pineapple. Minxy soon followed suit though my doubts about table sangria prevented me from joining in, I gave them credit for their bravery.

We soon walked over to Bathtub Gin, a prohibition style bar hidden behind a secret wall in Stone Street Coffee Company. Probably one of my greatest finds, this little nook offers a dark and romantic atmosphere with a cocktail selection that will make your head spin.

I wet my palate with a delicious wine cocktail made with elderberry liquor and a whole bunch of delicious stuff I wish I could remember. It was a mouth sensation that tickled my taste buds.

We ended the evening with sushi near the Little Kitten’s apartment and some free samples of gelato from a very nice man eager to get us to try the chocolate whiskey brownie. It was a wonderful weekend.

Progress and Naming Conundrum

After a full two months of professional training at Mirabella under head trainer Vanessa Karlewicz, my horse is doing fantastic!

During the first few weeks of riding, our initial concerns were teaching him how to properly move out off the leg. He developed a liking for poking along and breaking to a walk whenever possible. Now that he is past that, the current strategy is to pursue more supple gaits and teach him to understand softening and trotting and cantering at various speeds and levels of collection.

As the title of this post notes, I am having some difficulties in the naming department. I purchased my gorgeous 4 year old Friesian Holsteiner Cross with the name Cornelius, barn name Junior. I am not a fan of either. I did not pursue changing it right away as I was waiting for his papers and the bill of sale from the owner. Now that I have all the paperwork required for a formal name change, I am lost as to the name.

Initially I was leaning towards Ozymandias, after Ramses the Great and the poem by Percy Shelley. I would call him Ozzy. As there is already an Oz at my barn, that presents a small problem. Other names that I have been considering are Movado, Leonidas and Oberon.

Please let me know what you think. I’ve a few friends leaning towards Leonidas with the nickname Leo. It seems to suit him well.