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Oh happy day! It’s Friday! This has been a week, hasn’t it? It’s been incredibly busy with work, but also with some family fun, dinners out, and time outdoors. When it hit 50, it felt like summer. I for one am completely over this wintry weather and ready for running in shorts and boating season. I suppose we do have some nice, summery evening light though, don’t we? I am anticipating working for most of the weekend, but looking forward to doing so in cozy pajamas, keeping warm and enjoying the quiet of home. I am craving quiet.

Today’s guest post from  Sarah from Dark Rome Tours, is pretty timely, considering the world’s  focus on Rome this week. It covers some lesser-known wine regions of Italy. I only wish I had this post before our last trip to Rome.   While in Italy, I tried to drink wines from the region we were in on each stop, but I knew nothing about the wine region surrounding Rome.

Luckily, we have Sarah to shed some light on these wines.

Rome and the Lazio area are not exactly known for being the greatest in terms of Italian wines, but they do have a particular brilliance with white wines and possibly their most famous wine: Frascati. It is so famous in fact that you can find Frascati Wine Tours consistently. But what other vineyards and wineries could you come across in the capital city area?

vineyards in Italy
The Castelli Romani

Slightly south of Rome you can find the collection of vineyards that often are called the Castelli Romani due to that being the type of wine grape they grow in that area. Many of these wines come with some interesting hints of tastes thanks to the volcanic lakes that surface in the same area and the ways these grapes are often used for their wine. Many of the vineyards in this area do produce the Frascati wine, but a select few also provide other forms of dry and sweet white wines like from the grapes Puntinata and Trebbiano.

The Orvieto Zone

Heading north of Rome you can find the Orvieto area, which provides another selection of white wines, which are not actually Frascati. In fact this area had become famous with its vineyards for some wines named after the zone. The Orvieto Abboccato and the Dolce are probably the most known wines, but they are also produced in such small quantities that if you manage to get some bottles whisked away from the Roman area, you are probably among the few to do so.

Most of the wines they produce are dry with a lack on the sweet, and utilize Grechetto and Trebbiano grapes commonly; however they have some of the most beautiful golden-yellow colors. Surprisingly this area also manages to produce a few red wines that are blended with some of their white grapes.

Italian Wine Tours

The Castle of Marino

Yet another neighbor to the Frascati wines, the hilltop castle town of Marino happens to produce a wine of the town’s name, which utilizes grapes of the Frascati but in a different manner. Due to the other types of crops grown in Marino, this white wine manages to pull in flavors similar to artichokes. It also happens to benefit from the volcanic soil of the area, since it is technically near or sometimes considered in the Castelli Romani.

The greatest spectacle for this town happens to be their grape festival, which has supposedly produced a white wine fountain in the center of town during the festival. It can be one of the most interesting and exciting spots to check out. The Marino wine also happens to hold a slightly sweeter yet also more dry texture than the Frascati, and many people prefer it better due to a greater intensity of flavours that can be found in it.

The Cesanese Comune

The Cesanese wine is probably the most famous actual red wine of the Lazio region. This red wine is also quite sweet due to it generally being blended with a mix of the sweet white wines from the Lazio region. This wine happens to be one of the best to have with most normal Roman foods, due to it going well as a pairing to anything with tomatoes in it. This is why the Cesanese wine has managed to obtain the name around Roman locals for being the ‘King of Wines’. The Cesanese is actually grown in a couple of different places across Italy, but usually produced in the Lazio area, and best done there because of the soil and sweet wine grape combinations added to it.

The berries of the Cesanese in the Lazio area happen to come at a rather large size, almost akin to normal edible grapes. So it shouldn’t be any surprise that this Red wine actually manages to maintain a fruity yet spicy smell and taste.

Do not fret if you don’t manage to find a wine suited to your tastes in the Roman area, because they are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the vast amount of Italian wines available. If you don’t enjoy the wines you find from a simple wine tasting of the region, then you can always move further into the areas of Italy that are more known for having some wonderful choices for the most exquisite wines.

Sarah Murphy has worked in Dublin for the last two years as a blogger, web content manager and marketing coordinator. A journalist by training and travel junkie by nature, she regularly travels to Italy for both business and to experience some of the Rome tours where she mostly spends her time in search of the perfect gelato.

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Once we’ve stuffed ourselves full of Thanksgiving goodness, there might be the need for a some lighter meals until the next indulgent holiday event arises. Thanks to Pamela from the fun and tasty blog My Man’s Belly for this lighter version of one of my favorites, grilled Caesar salad.

grilled caesar salad

grilled caesar salad

I’m thrilled to be doing a guest post for Meghan today, but with that comes a little pressure. What to write? What to make? How long? How short? Yes, I have probably over analyzed this, which is my nature.

If you’re wondering who this neurotic mess is that you’re reading right now, my name is Pamela and I write a blog called My Man’s Belly. If you give the site a visit, you’ll find recipes and relationship advice because I believe that food and romance are very intertwined.

Since we’re getting into that time of year when we’re all looking for comfort foods, or at least food that will help to warm us up, I thought I’d show you the recipe I use for making grilled Caesar salad. Yes, I live in sunny California and can use my grill year round, but this can just as easily be made in a grill pan on your stove top.

I realize that Caesar salads, while popular, are not usually the lowest of calorie salads. It’s also a salad that most people don’t make at home without resorting to buying a bottle of Caesar dressing. Maybe it’s the raw egg, called for in the recipe, or just the amount of time it takes to make up the dressing. Either way, I’ve got you covered with this grilled Caesar salad recipe.

Instead of the usual Caesar dressing, which basically requires you to make your own mayonnaise, I’ve lightened this up by starting with fat free plain yogurt. From there, the ingredients are easy to find and easy to make into the dressing.

A quick grilling of the lettuce, followed by a light coating of dressing and another fast trip on the grill and you’re ready to eat. Oh, and did I mention that you’ll be making your own croutons at the same time using the same dressing (which, by the way, makes THE BEST garlic bread)?

If you want to make a meal out of this salad, instead of just a side dish or appetizer, you could toss some chicken breasts on the grill a little ahead of time and everything will be finished at the same time.

Recipe: Grilled Caesar Salad



2 Anchovies (drained)

1 Clove Garlic

½ Cup Plain, Non-Fat, Yogurt

2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper


4 Heads Baby Romaine Lettuce

Olive Oil

Parmesan Cheese (optional)



Place anchovies and garlic clove in mortar and pestle or into a small flat bottomed bowl. Add a pinch of kosher salt to the pestle/bowl and mash the garlic and anchovies into a smooth paste.

Add the yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil and a few grinds of pepper to another bowl then add in the garlic/anchovy paste.

Stir to thoroughly combine.

Let sit for 20 – 30 minutes or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days before using.


Preheat your grill or grill pan.

Cut Romaine heads in half lengthwise. Keep the core attached to the lettuce so that it doesn’t fall apart on the grill.

Lightly drizzle the cut side of each lettuce half with some olive oil.

Place lettuce, cut side down, onto grill surface.

Cook for 30 – 60 seconds. You just want a light char on the lettuce leaves.

Using a pastry brush, or the back of a spoon, lightly coat the leaves with the dressing. You’ll want to carefully pull back some of the leaves so that you can get a bit of dressing on the inside of all of the lettuce leaves.

If you’re making the croutons, or garlic bread, spread a bit of the Caesar dressing on the cut side of the bread.

Place the dressed lettuce, and bread, cut side down on the grill.

Grill for 1 – 2 minutes (depending on how hot your grill is). This time, you’ll be getting a bit more char on the leaves. The bread may take a bit longer to cook.

Remove lettuce and bread from the grill when it is slightly wilted and a bit more charred than after the first grilling.

Depending on the size of your Romaine, and the appetites of your guests, this will either make 4 (full head) servings or 8 (half head servings).

Cut bread into cubes, if using as croutons, and sprinkle around lettuce.

Serve with lemon wedges and grated Parmesan Cheese.

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Tags: Food, guest post, healthy, recipe, salad

Hello and Happy Friday! We are on our way to Sonoma as this posts, and I am jumping up and down in my seat with excitement. This trip has been a long time coming. It was originally scheduled for November, but my Nana passed away two days before. Obviously, the trip to Sonoma became the last thing in our minds, but we have been trying ever since to reschedule. Hopefully the solar storms don’t interrupt our flight path!

While I am off tasting wine and being offered copious quantities of money to stay in Sonoma forever (I can dream. . . ), I wanted to share a blog post written by a Travel, Wine, and Dine reader who has become a friend in the last year. Knowing how hard it is to quit a “real” and stable job to pursue something a little outside the box means I am always impressed by fellow young people who take that leap. There’s nothing about it that is easy, and I have been impressed by Shannon’s drive in addition to just being excited for her. In 2012 I have been trying to include more than just food on the blog, so if you have something career or life related you would like to share, please let me know. I’d love to feature you!

Without further chatter from me, I leave you today’s guest post. Thanks, Shannon!



Hi everyone!

My name is Shannon, I’m a 24-year-old health-coach-in-training living in Boston, and just started my second month as an Arbonne independent consultant. When Meghan offered me the chance to chat to her readers about making the transition from a 9-5 schedule to operating my own business venture from home, I jumped. I was excited to put into words, not only for you but also for myself, what it is that I’ve taken away from a month of running my own business. The experience has definitely been a learning curve, but I’ve enjoyed every step so far.

A little bit of background about me and Arbonne: as a graduate of Emerson College, I spent my four years interning in PR agencies, sales offices, and even Governor Patrick’s Press Office, but wasn’t finding myself in line with the 9-5 thang.

A year after graduation, I decided to visit Chicago on a whim. I fell in love with the city upon first sight, and declared that my next course of action in life would be to go to graduate school there. I went back months afterwards with the purpose of doing research on the various schools there, but unlike Boston or Chicago, I had no major connections in that city. I ended up staying with my ex-boyfriend’s-cousin’s-girlfriend at the time (did you follow that?). She was living with her sister, Leah, who was working for a company called Arbonne, which vaguely sounded like a more eco-friendly version of Mary Kay cosmetics.

Leah had a hunch back then that I would be a prime candidate for Arbonne, she later told me, based on my positive demeanor and that I seemed to be a very social and socially successful person. She sent me samples, and I loved the product line, but I was still in the middle of two jobs, working as an executive assistant for a major hotel chain in Boston, as well as a sales representative for a wine distributor. It wasn’t until a year later, after I had had a string of temporary jobs, all 9-5, all entry-level assistant positions, and all contributing to what I felt was a stagnant dry spell of career karma, that I got another e-mail from Leah and actually felt ready to join her as an Arbonne consultant.

In a nutshell, Arbonne sells botanically based, 100% vegan skincare and nutritional products, everything from moisturizers to vitamins. Buying is Internet-based, the products are shipped direct, and the online store is a “one-stop shop” as far as household health and beauty products are concerned, including a men’s skincare and baby care line. Because the company manufactures and formulates its product lines in Switzerland, Arbonne upholds the stringent practices of the Europeans, meaning that no cheap “filler” ingredients, chemicals, or dyes make it into the final product. Arbonne does not test on animals, and is PETA-approved. This adherence to excellence and emphasis on re-educating the public about the importance of what goes on one’s skin as well as in one’s body, was a main reason I joined.


On the sales side, Arbonne comprises a network of independent consultants that refers the public to the company and its products. The product line is ultra-premium, steps above department store and economy line brands you would find at the mall or CVS, but since we do pay for advertising, and the ability to get the products is limited to being referred by a consultant, the cost of the products is very affordable, with the result still being an effective, safe, and beneficial line.

That’s where I come in. My job is now creating and building my Arbonne “team”, whether they are clients, referrals, potential consultants, or just people there to cheer me on and wave me on to the next benchmark. I am now in the business of meeting people, which I always was before, just not getting paid for it. To build my business, I schedule coffee dates, group presentations, parties, and workshops with friends, friends-of-friends, former co-workers. In my first month it was paramount that people at least KNEW what it is I was doing, regardless of whether they would purchase anything. Having friends refer me was the most important thing they could do.


I did learn quite a bit, and not always the easy way. For example…

1. People are hard to get a hold of. They are flakey, they miss your calls even when they say they’ll pick up, they have busy lives, they have multiple jobs of their own, they don’t always carry day planners and have iPhone reminders like I do. People have a different set of priorities. What I’ve learned from Leah, my now mentor, and also my dad (my forever mentor) is that I can’t take this personally, and I can’t let the next potential sale or next meeting suffer from how I felt from the failed first one.

2. In that way, too, people are scared of being sold to. In our media-saturated world, we can all smell a sales pitch a mile away. I learned over the course of the month that when people are listening to my spiel, their nodding and smiling is covering up their nervousness of the end of my speech, when I’m presumably going to try to lock them down into some sort of commitment or agreement. I now have re-framed my entire way of business. I’m not selling anything, I’m a consultant. I’m here for you, to listen to you. When you put your focus on the client and what she needs, you end up receiving so much more out of your relationship, because you provide much more than a quick fix to a problem, much more than a product. You’re first providing your support, your ability to listen…and then options that she can choose from. Rather than just pointing to a couple things in a catalogue that are pretty.

3. Discipline is everything. While there are days that I do get up a little later than I should, and do work in my pajamas, I try to create an “office” mindset in my apartment. I bought a plan to signify my work zone, I always set the coffee timer to make sure that first pot is brewing as I’m checking my e-mail – whatever it takes to “go there” mentally and prepare yourself for your work day, do it. You will have fewer distractions, and maybe…just maybe realize that you like to work hard?

4. On that note, my business is partially sponsored by Apple. I utilize my Mac book, my iPhone, and iPad to a gross degree, it’s true, but without any of the individual components of the trifecta, I simply would not be nearly as productive. Invest in yourself and in the tools that contribute to your productivity to make the end result worth it. No, you don’t need to go out and pillage Best Buy to feel like you have your own business, but if these items can speed up your efficiency and assist you in your busy day of juggling tasks and tracking people down, then by all means!

5. Your business begins in your mind. Everything else is secondary. This is where my mentor really helped me a lot. Because she lives in New York City, and I am in Boston, before I officially launched as an Arbonne consultant I had a hard time believing that I had my own business-within-a-business. I thought I would mingle and chitchat with people and hopefully they would buy products. Wrong! I had to make a lifestyle shift, and a personal shift, and believe that I was starting this new journey with a built-in support group, and that I would use my own talents and positivity to grow that group to a rewarding degree. When Leah came to launch me, she looked me in the eye and said, “Shannon, you are a rock star. You have everything that you need already,” and I realized it was true. Networking, meeting people, referring things I love, getting educated about being healthy, gaining new skills…I could do all these things, and was doing them already. I was already in business; I just didn’t realize it yet. Now she and I have weekly phone chats, and I feel like I can always count on her. I don’t feel nearly as “alone” in my business.

6. Don’t get in the habit of letting people disrupt your flow. People will always question or doubt you. It’s OK that they don’t get it. Your job is not to convince people of things. As annoying/scary as it is, that’s also part of having your business – being able to know your purpose despite the naysayers.

7. Take account of what matters to you outside of your business. I joined Arbonne because I wanted to become more financially stable and to enjoy aspects of my life that I’ve been missing for awhile, such as travel and having enriching cultural experiences. Learning new things is important to me, and I’d like to spend this year trying new avenues, such as rock-climbing, Krav Maga, and salsa dancing. I see my business as my pathway to get to all the other things in my life that I love, while propelling me forward with positivity and a can-do spirit.

8. Know your strengths. At my best, if I am engaged, focused, and excited about a project, I will give my all and do whatever I can to get the job done. From experience, though, if I find myself bored or find the job lacking meaning, then I will probably not do my best work. I have an entrepreneurial spirit and thrive on incentives. I knew this going into Arbonne and capitalize upon it now as I create my own schedule.

9. Schedule, to a degree, your life; not just your business. Because client meetings may pop up at any hour of the day, I try to schedule other things that I like to do, like exercise, catch up with friends, try out a new recipe or restaurant, as well. It helps to have boundaries for when you can’t meet up with people – otherwise you end up running around trying to meet everyone else’s needs and come out of it exhausted. No good! Also, if people know that you are “always free”, they may not prioritize meeting with you if they think they can see you at some other point on their time. It’s kind of like dating, really. And finally…

10. There is no #10. There will always be more things to learn, more places to go, more people to meet, more experiences, good and bad. #10 isn’t the end, and this list will continue for me as my second month closes at the end of March. Right now I acknowledge that there’s no end of the list as far as creating your own business is concerned. J

Thanks for reading! If anyone would like to get in touch with me further, about me, Arbonne, or anything else, feel free to drop me a line at Follow me on Twitter @Shannonlass, and “like” my page on Facebook,

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