FitBloggin’ was held at the Hyatt near Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.  McCormick had just opened a new store right across from the hotel.  Since they were such a generous sponsor, I had to go check it out.


I never realized that Thai Kitchen was a McCormick brand.


Being in Maryland, there’s no shortage of Old Bay Seasoning.


The store was part items to buy and part displays and interactive.  These cases were like a mini museum display.


There was an interactive where you could find our your flavor preferences based on choosing foods that you liked.


This vides showed how we get vanilla.  It was like watching a “How It’s Made”.


Besides the spices, there were also displays of some cooking tools.


Finally, now store at Inner Harbor is complete without souvenirs.


I didn’t need anything, but I had a 20% off coupon and left with some extracts.

It was a fun store and I’m sure it will be super busy around the holidays.

 Posted by at 11:11 AM

We picked up our bag in Mayfield today.  Tonight’s the Homecoming Football Game, so the hours are shortened and they are expecting full parking lots for the game.  We got there early and quickly picked up our bag.

What a pretty bag!


Here’s what we were expecting this week:

  • 1 piece Mayfield Road Creamery “Bloomfield,” a brie style cheese
  • 1 lb. raw honey
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard
  • 1 bunch carrots with tops
  • 1 bunch radishes
  • 1 bag mixed greens, can be used for braising or salad greens
  • 1 head speckled romaine lettuce (it will have brown spots…that is how it should be)
  • 1/2 dz. ears sweet corn
  • 1 quarter peck gala apples
  • 1 butternut squash (2 if they are small…but that’s doubtful based on what I’ve seen)
  • 1 pint mixed color cherry tomatoes
  • 2.5 lbs. Roma tomatoes
  • 2 zucchini/squash
  • Approx. 1 lb. onions
  • 1 head broccoli
  • A handful Croatian sweet peppers

We received everything exactly as listed.  I’ll probably just use the Swiss chard in a quiche.  We haven’t had it in a while and I plan to be home on Sunday, so it’s a good day to make it.  I’ll probably use some other veggies in it as well.  The kids are excited to see the carrots, so they’ll make an easy side dish for lunch one day this week.  I usually just cook them and sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on them.


I have plenty of eggs and think some zucchini muffins are in order.  The corn is going to need cooked today, so I’ll be adding it to tonight’s dinner.


I haven’t decided on a specific use for the Brie, but I’m sure it will disappear.  We use honey as our regular sweetener.  This will mostly go into tea and muffins.


I’m going to make some sauce this week and use the onion, peppers and tomatoes.  We also picked tomatoes from our garden, so we have plenty.



We’ve been eating the apples as they come.  I’m going to try to source some additional ones for sauce this week.  Winter squash is my favorite.  I’ll probably make soup with this butternut squash.


The speckled lettuce and radishes will go into salads.  The broccoli is part of tonight’s dinner.


I’m determined to tackle braising greens this winter.  We’ll see these often and I never can get away from the bitterness.  I am going to conquer them.  I’m open to ideas.


Hopefully, our schedule will start to calm down this week and I’ll be able to cook a bit more in the kitchen soon.  Lately, our meals have been thrown together based on what’s handy.  It works, but I miss some of the more complex dishes.


Last year, I attended FitBloggin’.  When I was researching about the conference, there was chatter about whether you really needed to bring an extra suitcase.  The answer is YES.

FitBloggin’ wouldn’t be possible without our awesome sponsors.  It’s not really possible to photograph it all, but I tried.

When we first arrived, were were given a traditional SWAG bag.  It’s basically a bag full of products from our sponsors.  This year, the bag was a nice Reebok duffle.  We had a choice of resistance band or yoga mat.  I chose the yoga mat.  Also included in our bag were Pop Chips, biPro protein powder, McCormick spices, Attune cereal, Nature Made vitamin C and fish oil, a I Love Beef apron, bars and more.  The next stop was the Reebok table where I picked up my shirt and shoes.  Yes, they are bright pink and I am going to wear them!


At lunch one day, we arrived to find this Be Epic bag with bottle and shirt hanging on our chairs.


Saturday night’s mixer was sponsored by Unilever.  With two young children and a love for cooking, I can never have too many wooden spoons or measuring cups.


Our Ignite Fitness Keynote was sponsored by Polar.  I spoke during the keynote and loved having the chance.  I’ll post more about it later after the video is available for sharing.


There were many more sponsors and I thank them all.  All of the generosity makes FitBloggin’ affordable and available to many bloggers.

I didn’t really need an extra suitcase, only because I left a bag and a box at my sister’s house.  She’ll bring it back to Ohio at Thanksgiving.

 Posted by at 1:53 PM

McCormick was one of the FitBloggin’ sponsors this year.  In addition to being in attendance at the expo and our conference, they hosted bloggers at their testing center on Thursday.  We had two (not full) buses leave the hotel just after noon.  I loved that the center was on Pepper Road.


We were treated like celebrities.  Photographing began before we even were off the bus.  Having worked for Camp Invention before, I loved the Create It sign that hung outside the room where out lunch buffet was set up.


We had lots of dishes to choose from.  The squash ribbon salad was particularly photogenic.  The turmeric roasted cauliflower was also quite beautiful.


I even remembered to take a photo of my plate.


The complete menu was on the cards at our tables.  All of the recipes can be found online.  There is over 1000 recipes available on their site.


After lunch and some general information speeches, we split up into groups.  My group went to a applesauce testing first.  We were tasting cinnamon applesauce.  We learned about flavor profiles and the spice wheel.  We also talked about wellness associated with cinnamon.  It turns out we were trying two different cinnamons.


We answered several questions and completed our questionnaires electronically.


Next we headed to learn about tastes.  We completed experiments with salted potato chips, strong cinnamon gum and strawberry flavoring.  It was interesting.  I kept thinking about Camp Invention and what an awesome curriculum these experiments would make.  There are 5 basic tastes which everyone is familiar with, but there are also others that are starting to be recognized like fat, metallic, heat and Kokumi (mouthfeel/thickness).  I always describe myself as a texture eater.  Of course, I definitely agree with the last one.


After a dessert break (mini shot desserts), we headed to a talk about flavoring vegetables.  Since the basket looked like an in-season CSA box, except for the asparagus, I was very interested in their talk.


They talked through some preparation and seasoning ideas for various fall seasonal items.


We followed up with two more cooking demos.  Both demonstrated items from the lunch menu.


The experience at McCormick was amazing.  I had a great time.  As we left, were were given a wonderful goodie bag.


Since we are in two CSAs and cook at home often, I was particularly happy with this outing.  I’m always looking for new ways to cook our CSA bounty.  Thanks to McCormick for hosting the FitBloggin’ bloggers.


The customer service booth was gone today when we arrived at Whole Foods.  I guess that aren’t quite done with the remodel.  Our sign out sheet for the CSA was easy to find, so the pick up was smooth.

Here’s what we received today:


Eggplant, green beans


Leaf lettuce, tomato


Bell peppers, PIE PUMPKIN!!!


Apples, basil


I’m going to roast the eggplant as a side dish.  I’ll do it when I cook the pie pumpkin.  We ate the green beans for dinner tonight.  I’ll be using the bell peppers in fajitas tomorrow night.  Some of the basil will go into salad dressing and the rest I’m going to puree with olive oil and freeze.

The lettuce will make great salads.  We were almost out.  I picked tomatoes at the garden today and this one will get combined with those for the freezer.

Between the apples and pie pumpkin – I’m in heaven this week.


If I have to pick just one reason to go to FitBloggin’, it’s the fabulous people that you meet.  Some people are already friends, some people you only know from on-line and many others you meet throughout the conference.

Here’s a quick glimpse of some of just a few of my favorite people photos from the weekend.








Everyone is friendly, welcoming and approachable.  It sets the foundation for a great conference.

 Posted by at 11:17 PM

I had a wonderful time at the FitBloggin’ conference and will be sharing much more about it in the next few days.   Before heading home, I spent some time with my sister.  She’s lived in the Baltimore area for 10 years and I’ve visited many times.  But, until today, I never picked crabs.

Based on many recommendations, we visited Cantler’s.  We wanted to sit outside and was told it gets crowded.  Our plan to get there at their 11AM opening time worked great.


It was a perfect day for the patio.


We had a great view and even saw a few boats dock so passengers could come to the restaurant.


Knives, forks, plates, napkins, mallets and a brown paper “table cloth” were our supplies.


Soon, our crabs arrived.  We ordered 2 super and 4 large, so we each had 3 crabs.  They totally covered in Old Bay seasoning.  In Maryland, it’s assumed.  I’m sure that I consumed more Old Bay today, than in my entire life prior combined.


We had a great time.


Soon, I was off to the airport.  It’s nice to be home.


Two years ago, I thought about becoming a docent for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.  A docent is a person who trains to be an educator and guide.  Usually, it’s a volunteer position.  The docent training at the museum is like taking a college level class about the overall museum.  The class meets for about 60 hours over the course of a few months from September until December.  I already had many weekend things planned and could not take the class at that time.  I planned to take it last year, but then found out that it’s only offered every other year.

I had it on my radar early this year and filled out an application and interviewed back in May.  I’m so excited that our class began about two weeks ago.

I am going to become a docent for several reasons.  We love going to the museum.  As a family, we go there 2-4 times a month.  I want to know about all of the exhibits so as Nick and Sally learn about various topics, I can enhance their knowledge based on what’s availble at the museum.

The other reason to volunteer as a docent is to help inform and educate museum visitors. Docents are guides, they help interpret exhibits, they staff “please touch” carts with specimens and models visitors can handle, they staff off-site events for the museum, and they act generally as ambassadors for the museum. I look forward to sharing tidbits about the museum as I go through the course.

 Posted by at 10:08 PM

One of my favorite things about the Fresh Fork CSA is that we are permitted to take up to 4 weeks of vacation.  I am definitely one who needs all 4 weeks.  This week, I’m in Baltimore, so we aren’t going to be able to use/pick up our share.  Usually, when I’m on vacation from my pickup, I am very sad to be missing one or two of the items.  This week, I finally feel like I picked a great week to be on vacation.

Don’t get me wrong, I love most of the items on the list.  But, many of them are either things we’ve been getting all summer or items that are just starting to appear.  The only item that would have been new and fun would have been the mini Mira sweet corn.  Maybe I’ll get lucky and still be able to obtain some of it.

I hope everyone enjoys their share this week.  I’m hoping for lots of winter squash in the upcoming weeks.

Here’s what the large share is scheduled to receive this week:

  • 1 whole pasture raised chicken
  • 3 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 bunch kale or 1 pint mixed color baby sweet peppers
  • 2 ct. eggplant (1 if they are really large)
  • 2 ct. red bell peppers
  • 1 head green leaf lettuce
  • 1-2 onions, depending on size
  • 1 lb. dragon-tongue beans
  • 2 ct. zucchini
  • 6 ears mini Mira sweet corn
  • 3 lbs. sweet potatoes
  • 1-2 leeks
  • A handful Poblano peppers

Enjoy the change from summer to winter this weekend.





Today, I am leaving on a jet plane and heading to Baltimore.  I’ll be attending (and speaking) at Fit Bloggin’.

FitBloggin’ is a conference for anyone who blogs about health, wellness, good food, fitness, etc.  I attended this conference last year as well.  I’m excited to meet many bloggers that I follow and look forward to being inspired.

Thursday afternoon there is an event at McCormick.  I can’t wait to learn more about spicing up food.  The conference agenda is jam-packed with informative and entertaining sessions.

I’m part of the Ignite Keynote Friday evening.  I’m excited, nervous and challenged.

I suppose by the end of Friday night, I’ll be relaxed and able to fully enjoy the rest of the conference.  As a bonus, my sister lives about 20 minutes from the conference hotel in Inner Harbor.  So, I’m crashing at her place and will get to spend time with her and her family on Sunday before flying back.

I’ll be telling you all more about my experience in Baltimore next week.

 Posted by at 9:00 AM