an indoor rock climbing wall

Wine for Indoor Rock Climbing

I did a thing over the weekend. A crazy thing. I tried indoor rock climbing! And, not just the beginner level rock climbing — I tried bouldering! For months now a fitness friend of mine has been trying to convince me to join her for climbing and I’ve been busy. In fact I was happy to be busy because truth be told I was terrified to even try this. I no longer have the calloused hands of my childhood when I just about lived on the monkey bars on all the playgrounds. I worried I wouldn’t have the grip strength. What’s more, I wasn’t sure I would be strong enough to climb. Lifting weights in the gym is one thing but actually being able to do something functional with your body could be an entirely different story!

Well, I’m here to tell the tale. I tried it. I conquered it! It completely surprised me. For one thing, the crowd was a completely different crowd than I’m used to. As I waited for my friend to arrive I was taking it all in wondering if I really was going to be able to do this thing. People had their own climbing gear and seemed really outdoorsy to me. I’m not a huge fan of the outdoors, by the way. I hate camping. Hiking is OK, though! Anyway, I observed carefully for about 10 minutes or so.

When she arrived, she quickly got us ready to go, explaining the various levels of bouldering and giving us a way to tackle the first wall. We, of course, started with 0, the lowest level, and we made quick work of the first route up. The walls go about 15 feet in height and the highest level I saw was a 9. I was able to do up through level 2 with ease and I think I tried a level 3 but I don’t think I made it to the top. One of the things that surprised me about climbing was the mental aspect of it. The idea that you have to kind of map it out before you climb on, as well as stick to it all the way to the top and then about halfway down is a mental exercise in itself.

hand with callous on it
I grabbed this shot of my “souvenir” just after washing my hands of the chalk I used for climbing!

My grip strength got the best of me about 90 minutes in and we stopped for the day, but not before trying a campus ladder (too fun – I felt like I was on American Ninja Warrior!) and making sure to stretch as much as possible. I wasn’t too sore until about 36 hours after climbing. Then, the forearms, lats and shoulders were on fire! But, two days later, I’m just fine! Will I go again? I’m not sure it will be a regular thing but I definitely recommend it for those who are in shape and would like to test the limits of their minds and bodies.

One of the routes in particular was hard for me. I had trouble even jumping on the first “rung” and couldn’t see how I could grab on and start the climb. After nearly 7 or 8 tries and observations of others, I finally got it. But as I reached the top, I really got into my head too much. It was high! And I had to stay very close the wall and in balance. Terrifying but exhilarating all at the same time! That was the most fun for me. Conquering something I didn’t think I could do and pushing through the scariness. It was empowering and I found myself wanting to brag to everyone!

The gym itself, Central Rock, was clean and well-organized. The staff was welcoming and friendly. I even received a follow-up email a few days later with options for participating again! There are several locations across the United States and members have access to all the gyms, which is a nice bonus for those who like to road trip or who find themselves in different cities for whatever reason.

The wine I chose to celebrate my indoor bouldering success? Well, it was nearly 95 degrees the day I went so we had subs for dinner (no cooking in that heat) along with a crisp Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc. A refreshing way to unwind after a tough rock climbing adventure!

Here’s one of my earlier attempts at a level one wall. You basically map it out in your head and then follow the same color all the way to the top!
post it notes that say reset, realign, restart

Wine for Mid-Year Reset

It’s approximately six months into the year and while we are inundated with talk of New Year’s Resolutions around the first of the year, one rarely hears about the six-month checkpoint! As I reset myself for the second half of 2019, I want to share with you some of the reasons why I love the “second New Year.”

  1. Summertime and the livin’ is easy. It’s far easier to get back into a routine when some of the busyness of life is out of the way. For example, I no longer need to make school lunches for my three kids so I can spend more time on my own lunch and snacks, allowing me to reset my meal planning and nutrition plan and refocus on my health goals.
  2. Summertime = wider access to healthy foods. Between farmers’ markets and our own gardens, plus most of our country in its prime growing season, we can access a whole lot more healthy foods than other times of the year. What’s more, the grills are out again, allowing us to cook up all that high quality protein. Our herbs are growing strong, too, adding that much more flavor and nutrition to our food.
  3. Gym time uniform changes. Now that it’s hot outside, we wear less, which allows us to see the fruits of our hard labor in the gym. And, I don’t know about you, but I work harder when I see my reflection and can actually look at my muscles I’ve built!
  4. It’s daylight longer. This means our days are inherently longer. For me, it allows me to read more, which is accomplishing my goal of reading the Bible cover to cover, as well as my total books read goal for 2019. Plus, I have more time to work on my cross stitch projects.
  5. Work is a slower pace, at least for me, since the students and faculty are gone. This means, I can catch up and be more productive but it also means bringing less work home. This frees my evenings and weekends up to work on my goal of becoming a certified personal trainer.

So, how am I doing on my goals? Here’s a quick progress check:

  1. Become a certified personal trainer. I’m working on this one; my exam is July 30!
  2. Finish Jon’s Christmas stocking. Still chugging away. I have plenty of time but thought I would be done by now. Refocusing my energy on this one.
  3. Read 30 books. I’ve read 23, 24 if you count my personal training textbook. So, I’ll definitely reach this goal!
  4. Read the Bible. Read through 12 books so far through a Lenten Bible Study at my parish. Honing in on the rest of it with a guided journal aid to help me along the way.
  5. Post 24 blog posts. I’ve published 16 so I’m ahead of goal on this one.
  6. De-stress with a bath and/or massage twice a month. Not doing so great. Maybe did this two months out of the six so far. Have to do better!
  7. Gain five pounds. I reached 101 pounds last week, blasting past my 100-pound goal. Boom!

I highly encourage you to take a few minutes, sit on your sunny deck with a nice glass of wine and review your own personal goals. See how far you’ve come since setting your New Year’s Resolution and reset yourself for the back half of the year. I would choose an almost icy cold white or rose for this activity, mostly because it’s my jam in the summer months. Chablis or a light pinot noir rose would be gorgeous for sipping, dreaming and goal-setting. Cheers!

three photos of Toronto buildings, the CN tower and skyline from above

Wine for a Toronto Trip

Last week, my husband and I spent a couple of days in Toronto, Ontario, Canada — a quick getaway that took more planning than anything else! It all started last Christmas with a gift he gave me — four class passes to the Hourglass Studio in downtown Toronto. Faithful readers will recognize this gym as it is the flagship of Lyzabeth Lopez, the online trainer with whom I’ve worked for the past nearly three years. Lopez got me into training. She was the first to guide me to a formula that is working for me, a hard-gainer who has long struggled to maintain and put on weight.

It was a thoughtful gift but we waited until last week for me to use the passes since Lopez recently had a baby boy and was not working for a few months. Although, she is back she’s not teaching classes every day so I wasn’t able to workout with her but I still had the opportunity to meet her and her family! She was, of course, genuine and kind. I don’t know what people expect someone with more than two million followers on Instagram to be like but we are all human. She was warm and friendly and we joked about back fat and crazy babies like old girlfriends.

The two classes I took with Elizabeth were Upper Body Madness and Booty Builder, a metabolic conditioning and muscle workout respectively. While I was a bit out of shape for the cardio in the metcon, it was still super fun and a departure from my normal lifting routine. Booty Builder was a bit more my jam! Both had elements I am used to from the traditional Train with Lyzabeth online program, as well as her most recently developed TWL App. I can see how those two products derive from her in-person gym classes. It was also really fun to workout in a group setting again, something I don’t usually do at home.

I got the workouts out of the way early in the trip so we could enjoy Toronto for the remainder. We logged over a dozen miles walking around the city’s neighborhoods, trying the food, wine, beer and visiting the markets and shops, including Curiosa, where one can purchase all things Harry Potter! One night we went the tourist route and visited the CN Tower for a sunset dinner; the views were incredible! Our final of the three nights featured a wine bar crawl through the Little Italy and Portugal neighborhoods, which was super fun. It’s not every day we try different, expensive wines!

Here are the trip details:

Who? My husband and I

What? Our somewhat annual getaway trip without the kids

When? June 26 – 29, 2019

Where? Toronto, Ontario, Canada (We stayed in an AirBnB a few blocks from the CN Tower. Billed as the “apartment in the sky,” it was a corner apartment on the 45th floor of the building.)

Why? To meet Lyzabeth Lopez, do a few workouts and see the sights of the city

How? We drove the three-and-a-half-hour trip passing into Canada at Lewiston, New York.

There were too many wines to list here and because I was relaxing too much I did a terrible job keeping track of them. We visited Pellar Estate’s tasting room at the St. Lawrence Market, where we tried their wines for the second time, purchasing our favorite Icewine, Vidal Blanc. The one we enjoyed at the Sotto Voce Wine Bar was a lovely 2014 Montepulciano Tombacco. We also had a few interesting Portugese white wines at the Salt Wine Bar, and a couple more European wines at Sapori.

Getting away for a few days was a wonderful way to reset, but it was not nearly long enough! I’m looking forward to a longer time away from work and responsibilities hopefully in a few weeks, this time with the kids in tow. Special thanks go to Papa for taking care of them while we were away, driving them to field hockey, cheer and honor band rehearsals. While they had a great time vacationing with him, they deserve a family trip, too! Cheers!

Happy Father's Day with a mug full of coffee

Wine for Christmas Father’s Day

This past weekend was Father’s Day, a day to celebrate the dads in our lives. For us here in Syracuse, New York, the spring has been rainy and cool and not at all like our normal June hot weather. Sunday, for example was around 60 degrees and steady, soaking rain. So, instead of our usual clambake on the deck, I decided to make meatballs and sauce!

It smelled heavenly by around 10:30 a.m. when my husband returned home from Mass. In fact, as he opened his gift – lovingly wrapped in red plaid paper – my daughter said, “It smells like Christmas in here!” I had to agree. It felt cozy and warm in the kitchen and the smell of garlic and tomatoes was reminiscent of a Christmas Day rather than a Father’s Day.

This year, I found a couple of unique gift items for my husband. One was from an Etsy merchant who creates framed art from sound waves. You choose the song and the color for the wave and he does the rest. Very cool. We picked Riders on the Storm by the Doors since it’s a favorite of Christopher and his dad’s. I also purchased two pairs of socks from Rock ‘Em Socks, which will put a photo of your choice on a pair of socks. We chose one pair with Daisy the dog and one with Grace the cat. My husband wore one of each to church!

As for wine, I braved the wet day to head to Harbor View Wine and Liquors. I headed for their cellar in search of a Barolo, which I found, but ended up grabbing a Super Tuscan off the rack, too, and that’s the one we chose for dinner. The 2015 Crognolo from Toscana is a blend of Sangiovese and Merlot grapes. Yummy! We decanted it for about 45 minutes before enjoying it with dinner. Perfect choice for pasta. Dessert was a chocolate cake.

Toward the end of dinner, we decided to play Song Quiz with Alexa. What a fun party game that is! Although, you have to be careful not to speak too loudly during or in between Alexa’s songs or she’ll get you! We all took turns winning.

It may not have been the best weather and we may have preferred to be outside in the sunshine, but for what it was, Father’s Day was a quiet, delicious affair.

screen shot of cronometer app dashboard

Wine for a Macro Epiphany

Those who have been reading for a while know that I’m a workout fanatic. In fact, I’m loving it so much that I’m in the midst of obtaining my Certification in Personal Training from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. But, that is a story for another post. Today, I want to talk macros (again!).

In January, I entered a fitness challenge at Athletic Apex in Syracuse, New York, which came with it three personal training sessions, as well as a couple of assessments designed to optimize my training and determine the best workout and nutrition plan for me. One of the assessments was the RMR, which determined my resting metabolic rate and, in turn, was used to help devise my ideal daily caloric intake and macronutrient breakdown – in other words, how many grams of protein, carbohydrates and fats I should consume each day.

I started with the goal of building muscle and gaining weight, something that I’ve struggled with for years. I was excited to get a real formula based on science and not just gut (no pun intended!). My total calories were set at 2,100, which was lower than I had been at on my own. I averaged 2,200 to 2,400 and was struggling to gain anything. I was a bit skeptical about going down but then wondered if maybe I was eating too much of the wrong foods or something. So, I gave it shot.

Initially, it was great for me. I gained muscle in a way I never had before, while reducing body fat. I put on two pounds. But, then, the progress stopped. I increased my calories by 200 to see what would happen. Nothing. Then, I decided to move the macros around. Still nothing. The whole time I was progressively lifting heavy, following the BUILD 1.0 program. Now, I realize I had two variables going on – the new fitness program and playing around with the macro ratios but still!

Fast forward to earlier this week when I saw a mention of the Cronometer app in a workout group of which I’m a part. The person said they felt it was more accurate than MyFitnessPal for tracking nutrition. So, I figured I’d give it a shot. My first impression was that it was a pretty basic app and it wasn’t pretty or organized well at all. It was an endless list of what I was eating and it wasn’t grouped together and there wasn’t a lot of white space with the design. BUT, once you get passed all that? There is one key difference that is completely changing my life. MyFitnessPal never truly synced to my Apple Watch. But Cronometer does. So much, in fact, that my daily calorie needs adjust as the day goes on and I burn more calories. I am realizing just how many more I need based on my activity. I consumed nearly 2,500 calories the other day, for example, and yesterday just more than 2,400. Today, 2,234 is my current goal, but I imagine it will go up as the day goes on, especially if I go for a walk at lunch.

So, there you go. Science can only take you so far. While my RMR may have been accurate, the data was not enough to account for my energy usage all day long, particularly since my metabolism may run a bit faster than average. I weighed myself last night and was at 100.3 pounds for the first time since I was pregnant! Now, a female’s weight fluctuates daily, for better or worse, so I’m going to check again in a week, but my scale indicates body fat and muscle mass percentages, too. The trend is going up for muscle mass and body fat is about the same. So, those are all good signs.

The whole time I’ve been experimenting with all this, I’ve cut way down on my alcohol consumption. A couple glasses a week is now my new normal. So, that also could be helping as alcohol is not the greatest when it comes to getting good sleep and it can interfere with metabolization of key nutrients, too. This past weekend was the exception. I celebrated the first full gorgeous weekend in Central New York with a $5 Sauvignon Blanc from Frontera in Chile, as well as Clean Slate Riesling, an old standby. Life was good in the sun all weekend! Cheers to many more as we dive into summer!

photo of exterior of saint urban wine bar and restaurant

Wine for a Wine Bar: A Review

Last night, my husband and I went out to dinner at a newish wine bar in the Westcott Neighborhood near Syracuse University. Saint Urban Wine Bar and Restaurant has only been open a few weeks from what I understand but colleagues at work were raving and since we love wine and food, we decided to check it out pronto!

We made a reservation easily from the website and chose dining but there also was an option for communal dining at a long table down the middle of the restaurant. We had a nice two-top near the corner which allowed us to chat pretty easily and wasn’t too close to people on either side of us. The entire space is quite small so I can see why reservations are a must! But, we didn’t notice too many people at the bar, though.

The menu is more wine than food however Saint Urban offers three-course specials on a weekly basis — appetizer, main dish and dessert. There were three choices in each category. While wines are not suggested for each course, our server assured us that the chef designed the dishes with the wines in mind and there would not be a poor pairing!

Using what we knew about wine and food pairings, we came up with a good collection of wines and small plates and shared/tasted each other’s to give us even more depth to our overall experience. My husband had Carpaccio with vegetables and duck; I ended up on the seafood side of things, trying a chilled pea soup with crab, sea scallops. For dessert, he chose Burrato with strawberry-rhubarb; I went for the chocolate and cherries plate.

My appetizer and dinner wines:

Laroche Chablis, 2014
Burgundy, France

Stephano Mancinelli Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Superiore
Cru Santa Maria 2017
Marche, Italy

My husband’s appetizer and dinner wines:

Dauvergne-Ranvier Luberon Vin Gourmond 2017
Rhone, France

Pike Road Pinot Noir 2015
Willamette Valley, OR

Now for dessert, my husband grabbed the dessert wine I really wanted so I decided to try a Hungarian wine for the first time. We ended up realizing our mistake after one bite/taste! We shared our dessert wines but I mostly drank his — Broadbent Colheita Maderia 1999, Madeira, Portugal; while he sipped more on mine — Royal Tokaji Late Harvest Tokaji 2016, North Hungary, Hungary Furmint.

The menu offers wines by the taste, half glass or full glass, allowing you to freely taste and enjoy many different wines without breaking the bank or drinking to excess! I overheard our server explaining that the owner really wanted to create a fine dining and wine experience for people who ordinarily couldn’t afford a high end establishment. I think he succeeded. The three-course meals are $39 each plus the wines are various prices, depending on the wine and serving size. All together, our bill came to $150, which was reasonable considering we each had three courses and three different wines.

Service was excellent, competent and friendly. I think we’ll definitely be back! 10/10!

fingernails painted white, black and red with C A on them

Wine for Choosing an All-Star Cheer Gym

Last year at this time, my now 9-year-old daughter came home and declared that she wanted to be a cheerleader. She had never cheered in her life. None of her friends cheered. She just decided it was something she wanted to do. So, I did what all Type A moms do. I went on social media and started asking my network about cheerleading. Did anyone’s kids do it? Does anyone know anyone? Where do I begin? Surprisingly, it was challenging to get any information about cheer. Google searches turned up lackluster results. One website kept coming up time and again and it turned out to be the place we landed, CNY Storm.

We signed her up for a six-week program called FUNdamentals designed to give her a taste of cheerleading. I figured it was a good way to try it out and see if she really wanted to do it. She was a natural. Flying high and smiling her heart out, she convinced me to let her join a mini-prep level team. I had no idea what mini-prep was or what was to come. I just blindly did it, carried away by my daughter’s enthusiasm.

After a year spent experiencing and learning all there is to know about All-Star Cheer, I’ve learned several valuable lessons. This information is not readily available online from what I could find. For me, it was just something I had to figure out. But, I believe in paying it forward. Here are my 7 lessons learned from the first season of All-Star Cheer.

  1. Get everything in writing. If you don’t understand the fee schedule or what you are required to purchase or do, ask and ask again. Preferably get the answers in writing so you have them to refer to later. So often I didn’t understand something and I felt embarrassed to ask since everyone else seemed to know what they were doing. Fees are most important. There are a lot of incidentals that are not discussed up front, such as the cost of sneakers, practice wear, makeup, even travel.
  2. Make an appointment with the owner or manager of the gym and interview them. This is something I failed to do the first time. You need to make sure the gym is a place where you can envision your child and yourself for that matter. You spend a lot of time there and with these people. If you are not comfortable with the staff, or they are not welcoming to you, seriously consider that before joining. Make sure their values align with yours and the vibe is your jam. Plus, the one on one time helps you get answers to all the questions you have without the activity and noise of the gym.
  3. Ask for references. It’s helpful to ask for references so you can chat with other parents about their experiences at the gym. It helps you gain perspective and avoid any pitfalls later. Parents can tell you what questions to ask and what to look out for, plus they can give you a sense of their own journeys and why they chose the gym for their own children.
  4. Get a sense of the travel schedule. All-Star Cheer involves some level of travel to the different competitions. Some gyms even have international teams that travel to Canada. Travel is a HUGE expense in terms of not only money but also time. Make sure you know up front how many competitions there will be and where they will be. Also, book those hotels early. If you’re not sure where to book or how, ask. I didn’t ask, thinking I’d figure it out and ended up in different hotels from other families, as well as booking and un-booking when competitions ended up not being “stay to play.” The whole thing confused me and instead of asking someone, I just went along with it.
  5. Ask how communication will take place. This is key. I can’t stress enough how important communication is in an All-Star Cheer facility. There is a lot that happens between your child’s team and growth as an athlete, fundraisers, competition information, weather closings and more. Make sure you are comfortable with how you will receive information and provide feedback to the staff. Facebook groups are not enough. You need other options, too. Make sure you ask other parents how they feel the communication is. The freer the information flow is, the fewer rumors and issues there are.
  6. Find out about the training plan for your child. Cheerleading is hard work and involves developing skills that take tremendous time and practice to perfect. Make sure there is a plan for your child to train, not just learn a routine for competition. Find out about classes and other opportunities for your child to learn new skills and make sure they are affordable for you, as well.
  7. Find a buddy. This is the best advice I have. Find another cheer parent who is willing to help you learn the ropes. I had a few here and there but no one solid to count on. I think it would have helped a lot if I had someone to ask all the questions. I had a lot to learn! It’s always helpful to find someone else who’s been there to help you through it!

Now that I know more about this sport and how things work, I have come to realize that CNY Storm is not the right fit for my daughter and me. We’ve decided to make a move to Core Athletix for the 2019-20 season, a facility headquartered in Rochester, New York, with a satellite gym in North Syracuse. It’s larger overall, but a smaller environment here, which was appealing! Plus, the overall expense is lower, saving us money, which always helps.

So far, we’re thrilled. We started with a personal interview with the manager of the Syracuse facility and tried a few open gyms to make sure it felt right. After only two visits to open gym, a time when you can work on whatever skills you want with the support of a few coaches roaming around, my daughter has perfected her back walkover, learned the front walkover and completed a back handspring with a spot — skills she failed to develop after an entire year at the other gym.

CNY Storm doesn’t include tumbling classes with your mini-prep registration payment; they are extra and it adds up. What’s more, the classes are often disorganized and kids are just doing cartwheels and not truly working on skills. If your child is missing a skill, they end up in a different role for the routine and they never really have the opportunity to learn it. This was disappointing for me to find out. Core Athletix values the skill development and includes tumbling classes with registration. If your child is a flyer, they are required to attend tumbling AND flyer classes. This makes so much sense! That’s why the kids are in cheer — to learn how to cheer! When they learn skills, they do better in competition, too.

What kind of wine goes with learning the hard lessons and paying it forward? One that is reminiscent of education, of course! Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon is an easy drinking red for pondering these great questions.

All-Star Cheer is a huge time and money investment. It’s one I’m willing to make, given the right facility and management. I’m thrilled to be a part of the Core family and excited to feel nothing but welcomed! Team placements are this weekend. Lucia can’t wait to meet her new tribe! Cheers!

weights on a rack

Wine for Bodybuilding

It’s been a hot minute since I posted anything. End of the semester craziness along with competing priorities have gotten me out of my blogging groove. No matter what is happening in my life, though, I never miss a workout. I’m still a huge fan of Lyzabeth Lopez and will be meeting her at the end of June when my husband and I visit Toronto. I hope to train with her, too!

But, as fitness freaks know we often need to do something different to switch things up and shock our muscles a bit. One goal of mine has been to create an hourglass shape and more curves on my banana frame. I have an amazing foundation from the Train with Lyzabeth program and now I’m working on my overall strength. Enter BUILD 1.0 by Stephanie Sanzo.

BUILD is part of the SWEAT app, which I have mentioned in previous posts. The app includes several trainers all focused on a different type of training. BUILD is a powerlifting, bodybuilding style workout. I chose it because Sanzo has a tiny frame like me. She’s five feet tall! If she can build muscle, so can I! So far, I’m really enjoying this style of training. I feel like such a badass lifting all that weight.

Basically, each workout focuses on one major movement, such as a sumo deadlift, squat or bench press, plus a series of supplemental exercises or accessories, designed to build the muscles. Some sets include higher reps and others are only 4 to 6 reps. It’s been fun trying to see how much I can lift when the reps are lower. I finally feel like I will reach the strength goals I’ve set for myself based on research and my bodyweight and fitness level – 80 pound bench press, 120 pound squat and a 150-pound deadlift. After nearly two weeks on her 12-week program, I’ve gotten to a 65-pound bench, 80-pound squat and 85-pound deadlift. I’m on my way!

Like Lopez, Sanzo is extremely active on social media, particularly Instagram, which I find empowering and uplifting. What’s more, she responds when you mention her or ask her questions, providing helpful tips. This week, I had some difficulty with the front squat because it was bothering my wrists to hold the heavy weight that way. She suggested a reverse lunge instead or showed me a picture of straps that you can use around your wrists to help position the bar, all through Instagram messaging!

stephanie sanzo's instagram

I’m still trying to figure out my best macro combination. I’m sticking with the 158c/131p/105f for now but increasing my calories when I can. Some days I go a bit higher on the carbs, too. I am curious how Sanzo breaks down her calories because her overall total seems a lot lower than me. So, in time, I hope to figure that part out.

I haven’t been drinking as much wine lately just because I’ve been so busy and tired to be honest! In the evening, all I really want to do is curl up on the couch for a bit and then head to bed! But, last night, since it was #WineWednesday I enjoyed a Chenin Blanc from Dry Creek Vineyard in Sonoma County, California. It was tough waking up this morning, between the wine last night, which kept me up a bit later and the soreness from my new workout routine.

Overall, I think BUILD 1.0 is amazing and I’m excited that 2.0 is being launched soon. If I really love it, I don’t have to stop! Download a free trial today and see for yourself if BUILD or any of the SWEAT workouts are right for you. Cheers!

bible with rosary on it

Wine for Holy Week

Faithful readers of this blog will recall that one of my New Year’s resolutions was to read the Bible. I read it once a long time ago in college but it was for a humanities class and not read through the lens of my Catholic faith. This year, I decided to read it again, thinking about my faith and more carefully about what’s happening through each passage.

I started out reading one chapter a night starting at the beginning. I, of course, fell out of that routine after about three weeks, reading a few nights a week instead. That same week I learned that my parish was sponsoring a Bible Study during Lent. Though the Wednesday evening meetings were tough for me to make, I signed up and have been following along on my own, watching the videos, using the workbook and reading for homework each week. We’re at week 5 now, and this week I’ll attend my second in-person study.

Unlocking the Mystery of the Bible, by Ascension, teaches the reader to think strategically about the Bible and recommends only some books read together and in conjunction with related books. This makes the whole book more manageable and it helps it make more sense. An accompanying chart helps the reader identify key characters, plot lines, themes and historical references. In a somewhat linear fashion, the reader can see how something that happens in Genesis foreshadows what’s to come in the New Testament.

I’ve really enjoyed the videos, as well, since the leader of the study is engaging, smart and funny. I can imagine he must be amazing to hear in person, as well. The workbooks follow his talks and there is lots of room to make notes, which I have done fastidiously.

Not many people have an opportunity to do studies like this one. What’s more, I’m fortunate that this came at a time when I was attempting to read the Bible on my own. This support has made it all the more possible that I will make it through, if only through the books highlighted in this study.

The wine that I have enjoyed during one Bible reading session is Liberty Vineyards and Winery’s Pinot Grigio. It is described as a wine you want to sip while reading a good book. And there is no greater book than the Bible.

Wine for a Cheer Road Trip

As our first all-star cheerleading season comes to an end this week with a trip to the Platinum Nationals in Rochester, New York, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about our recent road trip to Erie, Pennsylvania for the
Lake Erie Cheer and Dance National Championships.

Our Little Winds are a mini-prep team; nearly all the girls are in their first year and it’s been a learning experience for the 6 to 9-year-olds. This was the first time we traveled this far from home for a competition and they were so excited to stay in a hotel! Plus, one of the girls on the team celebrated her 8th birthday and we had the opportunity to have lunch and cake together as a team with her.

I absolutely hate driving. I don’t mind long car rides but I really dislike being the driver. So, this trip was about three hours and 45 minutes and, man, it felt like forever — that is until I started to see an exciting sight out my windows. On either side of New York State Thruway were vineyards are far as the eye could see. It was almost like seeing cornfields spread out for miles but it was grapes. Now, the grapes are still dormant in Upstate New York but my mind could imagine how beautiful this sight would be come later spring and through summer and fall.

When I first spotted the grapevines, I was curious. What winemaking region is this? Part of Niagara? Something else? Then, I told myself maybe it was where grapes are mostly grown to make jelly and jam. I could not have been more incorrect. It turns out we were driving through Lake Erie Wine Country, the largest grape-growing region east of the Rockies. It extends roughly 50 miles from Chautauqua County in New York to Erie County in Pennsylvania. The farther we drove, the more vineyards we saw until we started to see many blue signs noting the names of the different wineries we could visit.

I made a mental note to stop on the way home and see what this region is all about. Since we left Sunday morning, many of the wineries in Pennsylvania were not open but just outside of Fredonia, New York, we stumbled upon Liberty Vineyards and Winery in Sheridan, New York. After a warm welcome from one of the owners, my daughter and I surveyed the scene. They were having an Easter-themed tasting complete with wines paired with Peeps, dark chocolate and milk chocolate eggs and jelly beans. I was mainly interested in what they were known for and wanted to taste the wine not the candy! But, they were smart and provided the candy to my 9-year-old along with a bottle of grape juice!

I tried wines from various profiles, including a Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Diamond Select, Red Blend, Fredonia and Sparkling Riesling. My favorites were the Diamond and Fredonia, which I could imagine having with dark chocolate, pizza or a burger. In addition, I tried their best-selling Reds, Whites & Blues, which is a sweet rose they use in their popular sangria recipe.

We left with seven bottles of wine for about $100, as well as a fun bottle stopper we won after Lucia chose a plastic egg from the basket. We also learned enough about the region for me to want to make another trip back with my husband. It looks like there is a lot to see and taste in this area, which to me is a well-kept wine secret in New York State!

Oh, and about that cheer competition? Those Little Winds won the national championship! Their winning routine is below:

CNY Storm Little Winds gave a flawless performance to become national champions in their class at the Lake Erie Cheer and Dance National Championships April 6.