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Does anyone else feel like they always overlook the places that are closest to them when it comes to eating out?  Jared and I are definitely guilty of that, searching wide and far for places when there are plenty of nice options less than 10 minutes away.

After passing Bolu for the hundreth time last weekend, I mentioned that I wanted to try it.  Jared’s mom came to help him with the garden on Monday, so that seemed like the perfect time to check it out.  Billed as a Trattoria with traditional brick oven pizza and antipasta, we figured we couldn’t go wrong.

Bolu is located right off Route 78  in Basking Ridge.  Located in a shopping center that also includes another restaurant we’ve checked out, the location is pretty convenient for us.  The inside of Bolu is cozy and welcoming.  While it wasn’t very busy the day we went, the atmosphere was relaxing and inviting.

Bolu prides itself on using organic, fresh, local ingredients whenever possible.  While I’m certainly not fanatical about things being organic, I think it’s nice to be able to take people somewhere where everything is made fresh and not just taken out of a box.  The menu at Bolu has a lot to offer-from salads to individual pizzas to an antipasto bar, it’s a great compromise for families or groups with different tastes and dietary needs.

It took me awhile to figure out what to get.  None of the salads were really grabbing my attention, so after painfully looking away from the pasta dishes, I decided on the Arugula Pizza with a multi-grain crust.  Jared’s mom chose the same pizza, both of us getting an individual size, and Jared chose the Rustica individual pizza.

The individual pizzas come with about 6 small slices.  I’m rocking the other half for leftovers this week

Bolu Arugula Pizza

Behold the glory of fresh leftovers!

, so I definitely think these can be shared among 2 people for a small meal.  Although I will admit that in  my former non-Weight Watchers hey day, I could have polished off the entire thing.  The pizza was beautiful, with fresh arugula and tomatoes with a generous coating of cheese, making it light, yet satisfying.  The crust was delicious as well and not too dry like some multi-grain options can be!

Dessert options were a bit slim here, with some traditional items as well as gelato.  We opted not to go for dessert, since nothing really caught or eye.

Service was attentive, yet definitely relaxed in pace.  As I mentioned, there were not a lot of people there, but things definitely moved slow.  I’m guessing that’s because they make everything to order.  From the looks of the open kitchen, they do a great take-out business, which is definitely something to keep in mind for great-tasting pizza.  Although the options are a bit more expensive than traditional pizzerias, you know you’re getting something fresh.

Bolu is BYO, however, if you forget, there is a wine store in the same complex.  With plenty of parking and a lovely looking outdoor seating area, Bolu is definitely a great option for antipasto, pizza, or homemade pasta.

Trattoria Bolu
25 Mountainview Blvd.
Basking Ridge, NJ 07920
908-647-0033

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I think I speak for all females when I say that shopping for clothing can fall into two categories:  a fabulous, stress-relieving experience or a raging beat down of your body.  We’ve all heard other women talk about themselves in the dressing room, and we’ve probably engaged in that kind of talk ourselves.  From “Wow, I need to lay off the pasta” to “I’m never eating again”, shopping for clothes can sometimes turn us into a mess of self-depricating emotions.

When I started the Weight Watchers program, I can’t really say I was hung up on getting to a particular size-I was much more hung up on getting to a particular number on the scale.  Honestly, I’m not sure why, but it never really occurred to me that my clothes would soon be too big.  Now that I’ve reached the number I had in mind, I’ve had my work cut out for me in the closet.  After weeding through my clothes a few weeks ago, and creating piles and piles of clothes that might never fit again, I have to say, I started to feel some anxiety around the size issue.

There is a lot of conversation around whether or not sizes for American clothing have changed.  As we all know, sizes vary depending on the store, brand, cut, etc.  For instance, when I bought new pants this weekend, I ranged from a size in the single digits to a size in the double digits.  Everything fit just fine, it just fit differently.  But that’s not where the anxiety I’m talking about comes from.

I’ve found on recent shopping trips that my brain simply can’t get used to the fact that I need to take smaller sizes into the dressing room.  I’m still grabbing the same old sizes I wore when I was 17 pounds heavier. My mom and sister look at me like I’m crazy, lol.  In the dressing room, these clothes look ridiculous, but there is still a voice in the back of my mind whispering, “You might need these when you gain it all back.  Don’t waste your money on the ones that fit.”  I’ve found that I often have to be forced to go back to get the smaller sizes, or someone literally has to get it for me and make me try them on.

I know this is all a side effect of  disordered eating.  I simply cannot come to terms with the fact that I’m wearing sizes I never even dreamed I’d fit into.  My brain doesn’t seem to want to let me think that it’s real-even though I can see the results, there is still something telling me that I’ll never fit into clothing of a certain size.  Whether it’s the fear that this weight loss thing is just a phase or the pre-conceived notion that only “skinny people” wear these sizes, shopping for clothes has proven to be a totally different experience for me.  While I’m pleased with how things look, and I’m definitely pleased to see single digit sizes, the whole thing just causes so much anxiety for me that it’s hard to enjoy the results I’ve worked so hard for.

How have other people gotten used to losing weight and needing clothes?  Does the anxiety end, or is it something we just need to work that much harder to overcome?

As I’ve mentioned before, there’s more that goes into maintaining a healthy lifestyle beyond eating right and exercising.  Relationship health is a major contributing factor to staying on the right path.  If you’re not happy in your relationship, a lot of other areas of your life can suffer as well.

I recently came across an article that described the 6 habits that keep couples happy, and was happy to see #3 on the list:  Nurture your separate selves.  I’ve found through various message boards and other couple related sites that we can be a bit cruel to one another when it comes to desiring independence.  We often accuse those that desire to remain slightly independent from their partner of being selfish.  In fact, there are a lot of people that believe that in order to maintain a healthy relationship, all interests must be shared 24/7.  Forget going off alone for a girls weekend-if you’re not bonding with your partner over every turn, something must be wrong.

I’ve always been a big advocate for having individual interests and activities.  As the article states, taking “couple breaks” relieves your partner from having to “provide” happiness and enhances your relationship, allowing you a deeper appreciation of one another and your talents.  Imagine that…

I’m not going to pretend it’s easy to take time for yourself.  Since I’m away at the office for 10-12 hours a day 5 days a week, it can be tough to justify running off to a  solo shopping adventure or drinks with the girls.  However, it’s important to let go of that guilt and remember how refreshing independence can be.  In fact, I feel most refreshed in my relationship and personal life after a girls weekend or any other independent activity.  And that doesn’t make me a bad wife, or mean that Jared and I are drifting apart.  In fact, in the end, it only serves to bring us together. Even just an hour or so once a week spent doing separate activities can make a big impact on how you feel about one another, and ultimately, yourself.

The best part about moving?  New restaurant choices.  🙂  Last week, we decided to visit the Stone House Restaurant at Stirling Ridge.  I had seen this advertised in NJ Monthly, and the venue looked gorgeous.  The reviews on Yelp were pretty good, so we took a little drive over.

The pictures don’t lie.  The venue is absolutely beautiful.  The Stone House Restaurant is managed by Landmark Hospitality.  The Web site isn’t very clear about this, but I’m guessing Stirling Ridge is the events section, as they do have a Grand Ballroom and wedding options.  There was also a beautiful outdoor patio that would probably be very lovely when it’s not 50 degrees out.  I’m sure having an event there is expensive, but it really is beautiful.

Now, on to the actual restaurant, which was also very elegant without being stuffy.  The kitchen is open, and the whole interior features natural stone, as well as a beautiful floor to ceiling wine cellar.  We sat in a booth close to the door, which I was worried about at first with noise and drafts, but it actually proved to be quiet and comfortable.  Table seating was a bit cramped, so I’m glad we had the opportunity to sit alone instead of on top of other patrons.

The wait staff seemed young, but exceptionally knowledgeable.  The wines by the glass list was pretty versatile, considering it seemed like a place where they would push the bottles.  I started with a cheese platter, and Jared had an antipasta-type appetizer.  Our server gave us a selection of cheeses that complemented one another very well.  While the platter was a bit much for a one person starter, he was kind enough to wrap it up for us to take home.  Honey, fruit and bread made nice additions to the platter.

Dinner was absolutely phenomenal, and well timed.  The Stone House prides itself on creating meals based around local, market driven food buys.  The wait staff does an excellent job pointing out which dishes feature local vegetables, meat, etc.  Even though the kitchen seemed busy, the pace of the meal moved at very comfortable rate.  I had the pork chops with maple glazed sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts.  Pork chops are my usual, since they often come in a fabulous glaze with sweet potatoes.  Can I just say that these sweet potatoes were to die for?  And the brussel sprouts were fantastic-usually I’m not a huge fan, but these were like little baby ones that complemented the dish very well.  Overall, a fabulous presentation that matched the taste.

The dessert menu actually proved to be better than we thought.  Sometimes at restaurants like this, they only feature the usuals, with some seasonal fruit dessert that doesn’t appeal to us.  However, there was no way we were passing up the S’mores Brownie with ice cream.  A rich, chocolate brownie topped with some kind of marshmallow hardened glaze?  To die for.  And the tea and coffee list did not dissapoint either.

While the Stone House ended up becoming more crowded towards the end of our dinner, our server and the wait staff in general did not seem to ignore anyone to the point of annoyance.  It’s nice to go to a restaurant that takes care of your needs from start to finish, keeping things moving, while also giving you time to relax and enjoy a lovely Friday evening.

My Rating:  10/10

Stone House at Stirling Ridge
50 Stirling Road
Warren, NJ 07060
908-754-1222
http://www.stonehouseatstirlingridge.com/restaurant.html

Note:  While I typically like to provide links to a recent menu, the Stone House actually does a terrible job putting this information on their site.  Menus listed are from 2009, and don’t open on any computer I’ve tried!

My girlfriends and I recently spent a fabulous Friday evening at Martell’s Tiki Bar in Point Pleasant Beach. The band playing this past Friday night, Drop Dead Sexy, had to be one of my all time favorite cover bands I’ve ever seen. From the “Boy Band” medley to a number of awesome hip hop songs, Drop Dead Sexy really knows how to work a crowd.

There aren’t too many cover bands I would get so into that I’d visit their Web site first thing Monday morning and look into seeing them again, but Drop Dead Sexy was just that good!

Check them out! And check back for pictures from Friday night’s show. We were front and center, and hopefully you’ll see our smiling faces dancing the night away. 🙂

I came across Eatocracy the other day as a result of a post called Dining and Dating:  The Food of Love.  Taste of Home posted this on their Facebook wall with a catchy call out quote that tempted me to click through.  The call out quote that caught my eye was:  “Could you stay seriously involved with someone who didn’t care about food the way you do?”  Obviously, I had to find out what wonderful site was posing such important questions.

I had no idea that CNN had a portion of its site with this nomenclature.  At first I just thought maybe CNN covered a blog called Eatocracy. Imagine my surprise to find this was part of CNN.  And now I have to say I’m pretty obsessed.

From fun articles like the above and yesterdays about “Picky Dinner Pals” there is so much to relate to on this blog.  I find myself nodding along and laughing at the writers’ descriptions of people and personal feelings.  AND I absolutely love the polls they put at the end of every article.  There is seriously nothing better to get people engaged with your posts than polls.  Not that Eatocracy has a problem with that.  As of last count, the Picky Dinner Pals post generated 90 some comments.  Pretty impressive for a blog all about food!

The site is broken up into several different tabs:  The Home Page, News, Bite, Sip, Make, Think, and Buzz. If you don’t have a lot of time, these categories make it easy to find the stories that would be most interesting for you to read, oh, I don’t know, during your lunch break maybe?  🙂

Eatocracy is intelligent and fun at the same time, making it a site I want to visit every day.  Eat up!

Last weekend, we had a free Saturday for once.  Shocking, I know.  Since we moved to Bedminster, I had seen signs last year and heard tons of ads this year for the 28th Annual Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning.  I’ve never really seen hot air balloons up close and personal, and thought it might be fun to see tons of them launch into the summer sky.  So, off we went.

If you plan to go next year, I’d recommend buying tickets online.  Our tickets online were $17 each plus a service charge of $3 each, as compared to the $25 at the door.  I’ll admit, I thought this ticket price was a bit steep to simply watch balloons.   I looked on the Web site for the festival and could tell they had vendors and concerts, but I wasn’t sure how robust this would be.

The Festival FAQs specifically say that traffic gets bad around 4:30 p.m.  We found out that the balloons can only go up at 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., since this is when the wind is at its best for flying.  We decided to get to the festival around 3:45, and had no trouble getting in and parking.  The lines to have tickets scanned were not long at all.

The festival was pretty packed.  Not in a bad way,but there were definitely some lines to look at things in booths.  We were pretty pleased with all of the free samples (Dr. Pepper, Haagen Daaz, Turkey Hill, M&M/Mars to name a few) and were able to get those without a problem.  While a lot of the booths ran out of samples before we got there (pretty poor planning, I guess!) we still felt like we got a decent amount.

From a vendor perspective, I thought the festival was lacking variety.  There were a lot of home renovation type booths, such as windows, cabinets, etc., but not a lot of craft vendors.  The ones that were there did not really spark my interest, but maybe it was just me.  There were some cute balloon crafts if that’s your thing, but other than that, nothing too interesting.  For kids there were a lot of cute carnival type rides, and if we had kids, this is definitely a great place to take them.  The concert tents were also fun, along with the air conditioned Quick Chek tent that actually was like a little mini store!!

The launching of the balloons certainly lived up to my expectations.  It was really a very beautiful thing to watch.  I can’t say for sure how many balloons were there, but it must have been at least 40, if not more.  There was an announcer that kept us informed as to what would happen, and the “Master Balloonist” was on the air waves with her too, sharing information about how the balloons worked.  It was really very informative and just a cool thing to watch. 

Up, Up, and Away!

On our way home, we actually got to see some of the balloons landing, since they were near our house!  We did leave about 3/4 of the way through the launches to avoid the traffic build up. At first I was mad that Jared wanted to do this, but when I saw how cool it was to watch them land, I forgave him.  🙂

This is definitely a worthwhile event for the whole family.  While it’s not guarenteed you will see the balloons launch if the weather is poor, we got lucky and definitely got the full experience.  Another great local event to add to our list for next year!

Well, we’ve finally come to the day all bride’s dream about:  the big WEDDING Day!

We’re getting married tomorrow and will be on our honeymoon until May 30th.  I’d like to thank everyone who helped us get to this day-we couldn’t have done it without you!

What am I thinking right now?  To be honest, not a whole lot of anything.  🙂  Just trying to get through the rest of the work week and make it in one coherent piece to the ceremony.  🙂

I will try my very best to get back on the blog bandwagon once we return.  Until then, thanks to everyone who shared our special day!

Well, I’ve done it.  I’ve broken the cardinal rule of blogging by ignoring this blog for about a month, lol.

I have my excuses:  as most of you know, I started a new job December 1st and that has kept me quite busy.  Still no excuse for ignoring the blog, though.

I’d like to say to expect more from me soon, but, I won’t make any promises I might not be able to keep.  I’ll certainly make a valiant effort to check in more often, so stay tuned, and be patient with me.  🙂

Until next time…

Well, friends, a rare opportunity has come up for me to travel to Dublin, Ireland for the week, and I’ve decided to take advantage of it.  So, I’ll be offline until Saturday, October 31.  Check back in November for some updates on our trip!

Keep your fingers crossed that I successfully figure out how to navigate to Ireland solo.  🙂  I’ll let you know how it goes.  I suspect it will be an empowering experience.

What am I Tweeting?