Winner! The Oscars and Cocktails, a Match Made in Heaven

Powell and maoneyThe good people at Powell & Mahoney sent me a sample of their (my choice) Old Ballycastle Ginger mixer.

Handcrafted in Vermont, Powell & Mahoney, Ltd. was founded by two beverage industry veterans who were inspired by the lack of quality mixers made available to consumers. Noticing a true need in the market, the duo combined their expertise and passion and launched the successful mixer brand. Powell & Mahoney, Ltd. has reinvented classic cocktail recipes by swapping out artificial flavoring and preservatives for hand selected, better-for-you ingredients.

Old Ballycastle Ginger
This rich, full bodied mixer uses the finest ginger, delicate elderflower, and fennel to create the perfect partner for your favorite dark spirit. It also makes an elegant non-alcoholic sipper!

This recipe is on the bottle, but I jazzed it up a bit, ‘cos I love to put my own spin on things…

“Bubbly” Moscow Mule

1.5 oz. Russian Vodka (We used Stoly)|
2.5 oz Old Ballycastle Ginger
.5 oz Fresh Lime Juice (from our garden)
Champagne (or club soda)

Add all ingredients except champs/club soda to a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously. Pour into pretty glasses. Top with 1 oz. champs or club soda and stir. Garnish with a fresh lime wedge and a sliver of freshly peeled ginger.

We had just opened a bottle of Gruet champs to celebrate our twenty-first anniversary, so I used that bubbly to top one cocktail, and the other was bubble-free, so we could compare the two.

Both were DELICIOUS.

Actually, this was one of the best tasting, sophisticated, and fancy cocktails I’ve had anywhere.

The ginger mixer is intense, complex, and PERFECTION with fresh lime juice.

I’m Oscar-ready, are you?

As always, I was provided product and no compensation; the reviews are my own honest opinions.

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Champagne, Cupcakes, and Candles

Let’s never forget to practice random acts of romance, OK?ChampagneCupcakesCandles1Tugboat man had to fly away for a couple of days to attend a biz meeting (not to go out to sea – that’s next week) and I decided to surprise him with a flirty homecoming.

This allowed me time to plan…

Logs are staged in the fireplace, candles are flickering, champagne and chocolate cupcakes are ready to serve; he’s gonna be one very happy hub!

When was the last time you peeled off your sweat pants, got all dolled up, and romanced your significant other?

I’m not talking about a birthday or anniversary or Valentine’s Day —  but for no special reason, just like the good old days when you were courting, when you were that different person. Know what I mean?

If you’re empty nesters like us, there’s really no excuse.

No kids, no school, nothing to interfere with rekindling the flame that brought you together in the first place.

Sadly for us though, his Southwest Airlines flight was delayed almost two hours and he didn’t get home until after midnight and was too exhausted to do much of anything except eat one of the yummy cupcakes.

The beauty of a long term marriage is that we have another opportunity. We’ll try again tonight. There are 15 14 13  12 cupcakes remaining, along with a very chilled bottle of Gruet champs.

Grand Marnier Frosted Chocolate Cupcakes adorned with pretty garden flowers.

champagnecupcakescandles

How a Gall Bladder Attack Helped Me Lose Weight

gall bladderThe backstory
I’m about the same height as Danny DeVito. He’s MUCH, MUCH wider than I am, but you get the picture. I’m only five-feet-zero-inches. Every extra ounce on me looks like ten extra pounds on a normal sized human. There’s no place for any extra weight to hide. A lifetime of dieting and starvation adds up to one screwed up metabolism, that’s for sure. I’ve been a vegetarian (pescatarian) since I was in high school. I’m the undisputed queen of counting calories, fat grams, carbs, and protein. I don’t smoke, don’t drink (a lot), don’t drink sodas, don’t eat processed foods, don’t eat fried foods except once in a while. We eat a lot of brown rice, beans, lentils, tofu, and veggies. I make broiled, grilled, or seared ahi and salmon. Most of the time all of our desserts and breads are home baked. I have a terrible time losing any weight at all. It just doesn’t go away, no matter how much I work out, go to Boot Camp, walk, lift weights, or use my elliptical. We turned our third bedroom into an office/craft/workout room with an elliptical, weights, rubber bands, jump rope, and a big ball. When I used to teach aerobics, my class combined high intensity aerobics with core training and weights. I’ve got all the tools to know how to effectively burn calories and build lean muscle, but it just wasn’t working on ME!

Health history and numbers
My cholesterol is textbook perfect. My blood pressure is normally 105/60-ish, resting heartrate about 60. The only medical problems I have is asthma, allergies, and a bit of a sluggish thyroid. I use Advair for the asthma and .50 mcg Synthroid for hypothyroidism.

Except for a lot of sore throats, I’ve never really been sick. A few months ago, I got a super bad stomach ache, like the worst one ever, I mean like rolling on the floor and moaning, that kind of pain. It’s a good thing the captain was here, ‘cos I thought it was almost ER time. With a mom who was an RN, I immediately imagined my abdomen separated into four equal quadrants. If you’re in the medical field, you know what I mean. I knew that pain in the lower right quadrant could have meant appendicitis. My pain was in my upper right quadrant near my ribs. It was tender to the touch. I thought I exhibited all the signs of a classic gall bladder attack. I made an appointment with my doctor and he agreed with my tentative diagnosis and suggested an ultrasound to be sure. The US revealed a healthy liver, pancreas, kidney, and bile ducts, but there was either a cyst or one small 4.5 mm stone in my gall bladder that seemed to be the cause of my pain. Removal of my gall bladder is not a good option for me; I like to work on things homeopathically first. My doc suggested I keep a food diary and figure out which foods cause a problem and eliminate or avoid them. That was a great idea. As Dr. Oz says, “Do you think that’s something you can do?” I learned that peanut butter, cheese, chocolate, and alcohol are my trigger foods. What a load of crap! Those are the things I love the most. I love to eat spoonfuls of peanut butter from the jar. I love chunks and chunks of cheese.

chocolate

I’d like to take a bath in this chocolate.

Can you imagine not being able to eat chocolate? It’s just not fair! What did I ever do to deserve the “no chocolate” karma?? It was kind of fun to sample a variety of alcoholic beverages to determine which ones are off limits. I can now cross gin off my list–no more Tanqueray martinis or gin and tonics. Vodka is OK, but only about two ounces. That’s hardly worth it! Chardonnay and champagne pass the test, not so much red wines.

Silver lining: losing weight!
My last “attack” was in April. After that, I eliminated all fats from my diet except for olive oil. In case you didn’t know, dietary fats are a causal factor in a lot of gall bladder situations. It definitely is my problem. I have had no cheese, no peanut butter, and no chocolate. Not only have I been symptom free since then, that stubborn weight is falling off. It’s not like I had a lot to lose-but even five pounds makes a huge difference in the way clothes fit. I dropped two sizes in Joe’s Jeans. (I won’t divulge the specifics, but trust me, it made my day.)

joes jeans

This is NOT me, well, maybe in my head it is…

I’m certainly not recommending that an inflamed gall bladder should be a weight loss tip. What I’m saying is that I learned that reducing or eliminating the fat in my diet helped me shed those last few stubborn pounds and it might work for you, too.

The Mayo Clinic says:

Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that can form in your gallbladder. Your gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ on the right side of your abdomen, just beneath your liver. The gallbladder holds a digestive fluid called bile that’s released into your small intestine.

Gallstones range in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball. Some people develop just one gallstone, while others develop many gallstones at the same time.

Cholecystitis (ko-luh-sis-TIE-tis) is inflammation of the gallbladder. Your gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ on the right side of your abdomen, just beneath your liver. The gallbladder holds a digestive fluid called bile that’s released into your small intestine.

In most cases, cholecystitis is caused by gallstones that block the tube leading out of your gallbladder. This results in a buildup of bile that can cause inflammation. Other causes of cholecystitis include bile duct problems and tumors. Cholecystitis signs and symptoms usually occur after a meal, particularly a large meal or a meal high in fat.

If left untreated, cholecystitis can lead to serious complications, such as a gallbladder that becomes enlarged or that ruptures. Once diagnosed, cholecystitis requires a hospital stay. Treatment for cholecystitis often eventually includes gallbladder removal.

Signs and symptoms of cholecystitis may include:

  • Severe, steady pain in the upper right part of your abdomen
  • Pain that radiates from your abdomen to your right shoulder or back
  • Tenderness over your abdomen when it’s touched
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Abdominal bloating

The following factors may increase your risk of cholecystitis:

Gallstones. Most cases of cholecystitis are linked to gallstones. If you have gallstones, you’re at high risk of developing cholecystitis.
Being female. Women have a greater risk of gallstones than men do. This makes women more likely to develop cholecystitis.
Increasing age. As you get older, your risk of gallstones increases, as does your risk of cholecystitis.