Attention Women! It’s Time to Start Pumping Iron

Take a moment to pause on the hamster wheel, put down your celebrity gossip magazine and read this post. Here’s the thing, for a long time I was the girl spending the entire gym session on the elliptical or treadmill and then maybe dedicating 10-15 minutes to get on some weight machines. So, I get where your head's at. 

There were a few things holding me back from really dedicating time to weight lifting:

  1. I was concerned about what other people were thinking. Do they think I’m lifting too light/heavy? Am I doing the movement right? Are my pants see-through? All of these ridiculous things that go through my head...
  2. I was only comfortable doing the machines or movements I knew how to do. I went through the same “weight lifting” routine every time I was at the gym. Quad machine, hamstring machine, highly inappropriate ad/abductor machines (the ones that make you look like you’re at the gyno), a few curls, bench press with dumbbells, and a few other random exercises. Looking back, I realize how most of them were targeting a single muscle, not a whole group of muscles, and I wasn't lifting weights that were particularly challenging. So, I really was not working very efficiently in the time that I was weight lifting.
  3. I was primarily focused on the calorie burn! The cardio machines give you this lovely little number that tells you how many calories you’re burning. I was aware that the number was totally inaccurate, and yet I still lived by it. 400 calories!?! That makes up for the ice cream I ate last night, only 300 more to go to cancel out that bag of chips I ate at lunch. I couldn’t as easily “quantify” the calories I was burning during my weight lifting time, so it became less valuable.

Here’s where I was wrong (and I only learned to believe this when I actually started doing it. So I fully understand that you’re probably going to read this and ignore it). With weight training you will see results in far less time than you will on the cardio machine. Whether you’re trying to tone up or lose pounds, it’s going to happen faster when you get serious about lifting weights. I’m so tired of hearing the “lighter weights, more reps helps tone muscles”, “heavy weight, less reps helps build muscle” bologna. That’s just not true. Heavier weights = more calorie burn and muscle production. More muscle = higher metabolism and less fat. Boom.

Here’s the fact. You’re NOT going to look like this, unless you’re trying to look like this:

You can, however, look like this (toned and feminine):

Stop being scared, stop being a headcase, start reading some magazines that talk about weight lifting, and start lifting! One of my favorite fitness magazines is Oxygen - these women are strong, healthy, and toned, but they look perfectly normal and attractive in everyday clothing.

My husband recently sent me this article: 10 Things Women Weight Lifters Should Know I think it’s a good mental prep article. Although, I’ve never cried at the gym, and I’ve yet to pee myself...but at least I have those things to look forward to.


The Last Supper...Before Sandy

We weren't really sure what to expect from Hurricane Sandy, turns out, we were graciously spared from her wrath in our neighborhood of Philadelphia. However, in preparation for the storm I thought I would cook up a big dinner and hopefully have some leftovers that we could dig into if we lost power. 

Whenever I'm in need of a real rustic home-cooked meal, I turn to a great recipe for braised short ribs (courtesy of Bon Appetit magazine) made in the slow-cooker. Also, I whipped up a cauliflower mash and brussels sprouts with bacon and onion. AND since we had picked up a bag of apples from the orchard - purchased during our quest for cider doughnuts, I thought I might as well make some apple crisp to wash it all down. 

braised short ribs
Braised short ribs - see full recipe
apple crisp
Apple crisp a la mode
See more photos of this dinner after the jump! 


The Quest for Cider Doughnuts

In anticipation of Hurricane Sandy, BryGuy and I decided that we needed to go out and stock up on a few essential items. You know things like batteries, candles, water, alcohol, food, etc. On this list of "essentials" was cider doughnuts. Hey, if we're going to be trapped in our apartment for a few days, we want some sugary treats to shove down our pie holes.

cider doughnuts
Cider Donuts
BryGuy spent a few minutes on the Google Machine and soon enough we discovered there was an orchard 35 miles away. Highland Orchards also is acclaimed as the Best of Philly winner for best cider doughnuts, so it was only natural that we had to hop in the car and get to these doughnuts! We pulled up to the most adorable farm, complete with goats, a little vintage shop, lots of apples and root veggies, a bakery, and activities for the kiddies. 

We grabbed a gallon of apple cider, a dozen cider doughnuts, and a basket of apples. We parked our derrières at a picnic tablea and started to dig in. It was such a mild and beautiful Autumn day it's hard to believe there's a superstorm about to wreak havoc on the Northeast.

Diggin' in!

See more photos after the jump!


A Favorite Activity With the Hubs (Yes, It’s G-Rated)

You might know that I like to cook based on my previous posts, but did you know that BryGuy is a serious grill master? I really love when we get home from work on a summer day and deciding that it’s a grilling night;: burgers, steak, chicken, you name it, we grill it. That means he starts preparing the charcoal and the meat and I come up with some veggies to accompany it. This works wonderfully for us because we each have our own domains (I’m not so good about people hovering around the kitchen while I’m cooking). 

pepper crusted steak in cast iron skillet
BryGuy’s been itching to grill some steaks that he bought but the weather wasn’t cooperating so he decided to do a cast-iron skillet grill session instead. While he “grilled” away at the stove, I whipped up a sweet potato puree and simple garden salad with homemade dressing. While I’m sad that the summer and “official” grilling season is over, I’m looking forward to more evenings where we share the kitchen and prepare a nice meal together. 

Get recipes for the salad dressing and sweet potato purée after the jump.


Tips for Future Brides - Part II

This is part II of the "Tips for future brides" series. See Tips for Future Brides - Part I here. 

Limit your DIYs. 

Stick with your area of expertise and know what will just be an added stress. As much as I seriously considered the idea of making my own centerpieces, I came to my senses. I am however, pretty handy with some graphic design software and figured I could put that to use by making my save the dates, ceremony programs and menus. I also rigged up a weird light-box thing in my living room to do my own calligraphy on my invitations. The key is to pick things that won’t take more money (remember time = money) than they end up appearing to your guests. If you have some Photoshop skills NextDayFlyers has a great product line at really affordable prices. If you're a novice designer looking for something pretty basic, Vistaprint has some decent offerings as well. 

DIY  save the dates, ceremony programs, and menus

Stay organized. 

I was a big proponent of spreadsheets as an organizational tool. I had a spreadsheet for my to-do checklist, one for the budget, and other for the guest list (which turned into the RSVP tracking sheet as well). Whatever your organization method may be, make sure you’re staying on top of it. I also had a binder to keep all receipts and contracts in one place. See my month-by-month to do list for wedding planning. There were many websites and books with various checklists but I found that none of them were comprehensive enough for me, so I made my own. The bottom line is, you should use whatever organization method that works for you.

Be ready for stressful moments. 

You will likely have tricky RSVP situations, disagreements about the guest list, and last minute additions and cancellations. Realize that these are natural and unavoidable things, and try to make those “situations” last for the least amount of time possible. Work with your fiancé and family to come up with a solution and determine who’s responsible for taking action on it. 

Choose your vendors wisely.

I cannot stress how important this is. Your hair and makeup team are some of the first folks you see on your wedding day, are they going to keep you relaxed, make you laugh, and help you feel beautiful? Mine did, they were absolutely fabulous and I couldn't have picked a better team to work with! Your photographer is going to be by your side all day. Are you comfortable with him/her? Does he/she mesh with you and your groom's personalities. While there are lots of choices and reviews out there, one of the best sources of info about prospective vendors is your friends and family. Find out who they used, whether or not they liked working with them, and whether or not they'd hire them again if they had to do it all over again. 

I can honestly say that all of my vendors were amazing and I would hire them again in a heartbeat. I'm going to write reviews about each of them, when I do I'll come back here and provide the links directly to my reviews. 

Let your fiancé have his things. 

Once your guy does all the hard work of picking out the perfect engagement ring for you, the spotlight moves away from him and onto you. It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the things that you want, that you fail to ask him what he wants. Do the occasional check-in, “Hey, do you want to help me pick out the invitations/centerpieces/bridesmaid dresses? No? Okay, I got it covered.” There were some things that BryGuy really cared about, the music and his attire. So I let him take the lead in both of those areas. Ultimately, it took some things off of my plate and gave him an important role in the wedding planning.

That's James Bond, not my husband...my husband's tux was way better.
See Tips for Future Brides - Part I here. Also, you might be interested in finding out how I'm getting over post-wedding depression

Did I miss any good advice that we think future brides out there should be aware of?!


Tips for Future Brides - Part I

One of my family friends recommended that I write a blog during the wedding planning process to help future brides. I liked the idea, but was not sure how I would be able to transition the blog post-wedding. The truth is, my wedding planning went as smooth as such things can go, and I may not have been much help. There were a few tidbits I learned along the way that I’m happy to share.

As I started to write my "tips" I realized I had more to share than I expected and therefore have split this up into a two-part post.

Read Tips for Future Brides - Part II

Start early. 
Whether you are planning with a few months lead time or years in advance. Do as much as you can, as early as you can. For certain things like choosing your venue, or picking vendors (dj/band, florist, caterer) do some initial research, narrow it down to a few options, get quotes, make your decision, and book it. The longer you think about the possibilities, the more stressed you will become. Also, you will need to buy a lot of things for the wedding: veil, shoes, accessories, undergarments, etc. If you buy these things early, it won’t feel like you’re running around like a shopping maniac in the last few weeks. Here is my month-by-month to do list for wedding planning. Hopefully it helps someone somewhere - obviously you can modify the timeline to meet your own needs. 

Be realistic. 

Yes, Pinterest has amazing wedding pictures and tips,. Yes, there are hundreds of blogs you can read that will inspire you. But, do you have an unlimited budget for your big day? NO. (Well, if you do then we probably can’t relate and this blog may not be of interest to you anymore). My point being - there is only so much you’re going to be able to cram in between day one of engagement and the wedding day. Be realistic about what you can do, what you can afford, and what your expectations are.
My Pinterest Wedding Board

Have a rain plan. 

Believe it or not, it does rain from time to time. (See my photo in the banner? Yes, that’s rain pouring down on us.) As much as we all want the gorgeous sunny, not-too-hot, and humidity-free wedding day, sometimes that’s just not in the cards. If you’re okay with the fact that it may be rainy, cold, or otherwise not ideal for an outdoor wedding, then feel free to plan wedding activities outside. But always, I repeat ALWAYS have a contingency plan. If you do happen to have rain on your wedding day, you will hear your fair share of people saying it’s “good luck”, which may or may not be true, but it does have its advantages! Because of the rain, the groom and I were able to spend more time at our cocktail hour and EAT because we weren’t driving around for photos in three locations. Also, because we had an amazing photographer (Bailly Photography), we got one of the most unique and beautiful rain photos ever! If it rains, embrace it, get out there and get wet!

Another rain photo courtesy of @baillyphoto on Instagram 

Believe in your decisions. 

You’re going to be making what feels like one million decisions for your wedding. For those indecisive individuals out there, not believing in your decisions will make you question everything and will become a burden. Try to make an informed and gut decision -- then stick with it. There was a reason you decided that color/vendor/invitation/insert noun here, now accept it and move on. 

*Bonus tip: A great piece of advice my husband’s cousin gave me was to number the back of the rsvp card - the number corresponds to the guest’s row on your spreadsheet. You will not believe how many people either don’t write legibly or just leave their names off the rsvp card altogether.

Read Tips for Future Brides - Part II

Also you may be interested in learning how I'm fighting post-wedding depression


Why Italy is Cooler than America

Let me preface this by saying I really don’t think that Italy is that much cooler than America. Just cooler in certain ways. Ways that I think are perfectly adaptable in the U.S. and could ultimately make us the coolest of all.

Inexpensive wine is available at every restaurant. At every restaurant no matter how fancy or casual you can get a bottle (yes, a BOTTLE) of house wine for 8-10 euros. It’s also delicious house wine, better than many $40 bottles at restaurants in the U.S. Yes, I know this has a lot to do with proximity and import tariffs, but we produce some excellent wines in the States and there are very few restaurants that have a decent selection of bottles under $20. 

Mopeds. Enough said. 

A general slower pace of life. There’s no rush walking down the street and Italians are certainly in no hurry to finish a meal. In fact, it’s almost a challenge to get your bill at the end of your dinner. The waitstaff is perfectly content letting you sit at your table for hours after you’re done eating, just chatting and drinking your wine or an espresso. It seems they just have a better grasp on how to live in the moment.


Oktoberfest is my favorite holiday

Alright, maybe it is not my actual favorite, but it’s close third behind Christmas and Thanksgiving.

For the past six years or so, my parent’s have held an annual Oktoberfest party. My late grandmother was German, she made a mean potato salad and delicious red cabbage. Her father owned a meat shop on Broadway in Albany, New York. As I was surfing the world wide web I stumbled upon this old newspaper advertisement for Moch Meat Products from 1951. (The ad is in the far right column under the Miscellaneous section.) My great grand pappy would cure, smoke, or cut up your fresh pig! Isn't that adorable?

Oktoberfest - bratwurst and franks
Brats and Franks


The 30 second egg breakfast

I fibbed a bit. It takes about 15 minutes to put the egg “casserole” together and about 45 minutes to bake it. BUT in the morning when I’m running out the door (always late), I grab the little baggie with my egg in it. I get to work, make my coffee and pop the cutie little egg square in the microwave for 30 seconds and voilà, a protein-filled breakfast that holds me over until lunch time. 

I used to make this in a muffin tin but that proved to be extremely problematic to clean. I decided to try it in a casserole dish lined with the pancetta for easy removal. I found this method much easier. 

You could switch up the recipe and omit the cheese and/or bacon, add some veggies (however, I don't believe in eating vegetables for breakfast). Play around with it, make it your own!


Post-Wedding Depression is Legit

Image from Save the Date Events blog
I knew it would happen to me. I saw it coming a mile away, and yet, I still wasn't prepared. Post-wedding depression smacked me in the face the moment I stepped foot on U.S. soil after my honeymoon.

Let me back up, I LOVED planning my wedding and I genuinely enjoyed every single part of it. Don't get me wrong, there were some stressful moments, but I never hit that point where I thought, "I'm tired of planning and just want to have the wedding already!" My absolute favorite part of the process was the browsing and dreaming. With thousands of wedding blogs and an entire wedding section on Pinterest (see my Wedding Board), you can get lost for hours just looking at beautiful, unique, and really personal weddings. Needless to say, I spent far too much of my free time after work and between gym sessions browsing, getting ideas, and envisioning our special day.

Once the wedding was over BryGuy and I would reflect on how awesome the day was, recapping our favorite moments. Pictures started coming in from friends and family that allowed us to relive the day while on our honeymoon. Once we returned from vacation I started to face the grim reality that awaited me, I was going to have to go back to "life as usual." I had no big event to look forward to anymore, no blissful vacation to talk about, and I started to get really sad. That’s when I knew that post-wedding depression was a real thing. But I’m determined to snap out of this in a timely fashion.


Bacon wrapped water chestnuts

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts
Makes approximately 50 appetizer bites

2 lbs bacon

3 cans whole water chestnuts (8 oz. cans)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons (approximately) soy sauce 
2 tablespoons (approximately) Worchestershire sauce

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Take a water chestnut (or cut them in half if they are big) and roll them in half of a piece of raw bacon. Stick the roll with a toothpick
  3. Line up your bacon rolls in a casserole dish with the toothpicks pointing up
  4. Sprinkle liberally with brown sugar
  5. Shake soy sauce and Worchestershire sauce over the top of the bundles. (Give a quick sprinkle over the top making sure that each little roll gets hit with a dash of soy and Worchestershire)
  6. Bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes or until browned and cooked through (this might take a little longer if you use thick cut bacon)


Putting Marissa Says… on the Interwebs

I’ve gone and done it. I have been thinking about starting a blog for years, literally years, but I’ve finally found the cojones to just sit down and make it happen. The biggest roadblock was that I couldn’t settle on what the blog was going to be about. Instead, I’ve decided NOT to decide what it’s going to be about. What I can say is that the focus of the blog will be me. I can hear my parents now, “…she always did think the world revolved around her.”

Marissa says… will touch on my main interests: food, fitness, fashion, entertaining, and design. However, I imagine that it will also hit on some other subjects from time to time – life as a newlywed, activities around Philly, work, etc. I really don’t want to put any limitations on this thing. I want to let it evolve organically, and see where it ends up.

So folks, here it is, the first post.

What I do know is that my goal is to have this be interactive, tell me what you like, tell me what you don’t like, give me feedback! Otherwise I’m just talking to myself.

Just as a heads up - I have purchased www.marissasays.com but I'm having trouble linking that domain to my blogger account. However, I hoping to get that sorted out shortly. I'll be sure to let you know when it's up and running and you can bookmark that link instead!
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