30 Day Challenge Update

CSatt challenge tank

I’m officially past the halfway mark in my 30-day challenge, and I feel amazing. It definitely hasn’t been easy fitting workouts into my schedule 6 days a week (especially when they last from 1-2 hours), but I’ve learned to drag myself out of bed at 5:30am when I have plans after work so that I can still get my workout in.

The food portion of the challenge has been relatively easy. I’ve had the occasional cravings I’ve had to overcome (one day I exclaimed to my husband, “I just want some tortilla chips!!”), but I’ve realized that if I just stay strong they’ll pass, and in the end I feel better for not giving in. Or if I really need a crunchy chip-like snack, there are always rice cakes. I’ve found while watching what I’m eating that we don’t eat out anymore, as it’s just easier to cook at home and control the ingredients going into our food. However, we get one “treat” meal every week, so that’s when we’ll take advantage and go out to dinner or order our favorite takeout.

My biggest takeaway from Cody has been “Stay off the damn scale!” He preaches this constantly, and it’s so true. Muscle weighs more than fat, so if you’re lifting weights you might actually end up gaining a pound or two before you start losing the weight. But your body shape will be changing for the better and you’ll be losing inches even if you’re not losing pounds. So the best way to track progress is through before/after pics and body measurements.

I’m really excited to see how I’m feeling at the end of the challenge on March 8th! If this halfway point is any indication, I think “amazing” will only begin to describe it.


P.S. Short story about the shirt pictured above – Cody has a saying at the beginning of each challenge that we write on a piece of paper and hold up in our “before” pics. A member of the group found a shirt at Target that had this challenge’s EXACT saying written on it, so of course all of us ran out to buy it. We plan to all wear it in our “after” pics!

Fitness: Pure Barre



(photo credit: pure barre)

It has been four months since my wedding, and let’s just say that I haven’t been working out and eating super healthy since the day after my wedding. With spring approaching and summer right around the corner after that, I figured it’d be a great time to amp up my fitness game and get in shape so I can wear those cute outfits and swimsuits.

I have heard wonderful things about barre classes, but never had the courage to actually sign up for them. To be honest, I truly didn’t know what to expect. Would I get a good workout? Will it help me with my weight loss goals? Will the class target my problem areas? After researching extensively for about a month – and going back and forth in my head about whether or not to sign up for it – I took the plunge and signed up for Pure Barre in San Rafael.

If you’re looking for a new class, definitely give Pure Barre (or a class like it) a try. There are studios all over the country and they offer a great introductory class called Behind the Barre. It’s a 75 minute class where the instructor breaks down the choreography and you can ask questions and learn modifications for each move. In this class, you’ll learn about the small (dime-sized) movements that really make your muscles burn and shake. The instructor will show you how to use certain parts of your body to get the best minute movement and burn. Pure Barre’s motto? “Lift. Tone. Burn.” If you’re out of shape like I am, then you’ll feel those three things at the end of the Behind the Barre class, for sure.

If you enjoy that class, Pure Barre currently has a new client special: unlimited classes for 1 month for $99 (you can pick a studio, create an account and purchase online). That’s the offer I claimed before even signing up for the introductory class.

I had my first real Pure Barre class yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it. I will be back on Wednesday, then again on Friday and Sunday, giving myself the goal of four days per week of lifting, toning and burning.

Do you have a favorite barre class that you attend? Let me know in the comments!

Recipe: Ceviche Veracruz

A couple of weeks ago I spent a long weekend in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico at The Cape boutique hotel. I of course experienced lots of amazing scenery, weather, pool time, activities, and cocktails. But beyond that, I discovered that I really love the food in Cabo, specifically the food at The Cape. And even more specifically, their many different variations on ceviche that they serve there. I was addicted, eating it at every meal (even breakfast!). So when the opportunity to take a cooking class with Chef de Cuisine Alex Branch of Manta restaurant at The Cape, I eagerly said yes. And as luck would have it, he was teaching us how to make one of his amazing ceviche recipes. See his recipe for Ceviche Veracruz below!


Ingredients (makes 4 small bowls of ceviche):

1/4 lb. white fish (should be very fresh and a semi-firm fish, no skin or bones)
1 Tb Kosher salt
4 limes (approx 6 Tb juice)
2 Tb white onion
1 Tb olive oil
1 tsp serrano chile (deveined and deseeded, chopped small)
2 tsp California pepper (sliced thin)
1/3 cup cherry tomatoes (quartered)
6 green olives (halved)
2 Tb capers
cilantro (loosely chopped)
1 avocado


  1. Dice fish into approx. 1/2″ cubes and add to a bowl. Cure by adding salt and half of the lime juice and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, add chopped onion, the rest of the lime juice, olive oil, California pepper, and serrano chiles and mix well.
  3. Add in capers (with some of the juice), olives, tomatoes, and cilantro.
  4. Divide ceviche into 4 bowls and finish with cilantro leaves and a wedge of avocado.
  5. Serve while fresh – fish should only marinate in the lime juice 15-30 minutes or it will start to break down too much.


IMG_0839And as if I had to give you another good excuse to make ceviche, Monday (February 22nd) is National Margarita Day! I think ceviche with some tortilla chips would pair perfectly with a nice, cold margarita, don’t you?! And don’t worry, one tip I learned from Chef Branch when it comes to ceviche is that it’s really hard to mess it up. Just add citrus to cure the fish, and any mix-ins that you desire, and you’ve got ceviche! For proof of how easy it is to make, here’s a pic (right) of the ceviche I made at home from Chef Branch’s recipe. Looks pro, right?

What do you think, would you give homemade ceviche a try?


Survivor: Kaoh Rong


Last night was the premiere of the 32nd season of Survivor. This time, contestants are on a beautiful island in Cambodia called Koah Rong. Now, I haven’t watched Survivor in about six or seven years. The reason I decided to watch this season? Local ice cream entrepreneur Neal Gottlieb, founder and owner of Three Twins Ice Cream, is competing with other members of the “Brains” team.

I’d like to point out his attire in this first episode: ice cream pants, ice cream bowtie, and later on in the episode, ice cream boxer-briefs.


Can’t forget to mention Tai, a gardener from San Francisco. He’s fabulous and causes a little bit of trouble in the first episode.

Although this post is short, the reason why it fits so well on Sassy Sweet SF is because of the contestants from Marin and San Francisco. Also, who doesn’t love Three Twins organic ice cream?

Catch the next episode of Survivor: Kaoh Rong on CBS, Wednesdays at 8 p.m.


Magic comes to SF


Last night I had the pleasure of attending the opening night of The Illusionists – Live From Broadway at the SHN Orpheum Theatre. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but came away from the show fully entertained by these masters of illusion.

There are 7 illusionists: The Anti-Conjurer, The Manipulator, The Inventor, The Escapologist, The Trickster, The Weapon Master, and the Deceptionist. Each has their own specialty and performs roughly 2-4 times during the course of the show.

Dan Sperry - The Conjuror and Jeff Hobson - The Trickster

For us (my husband and myself) there were two standouts of the night – the Anti-Conjurer (above left), and the Trickster (above right). Total opposites, the Anti-Conjurer was a dark, gothic character, performing the most shocking of illusions that night. I had to look away at some parts during one of the Anti-Conjurer’s tricks and was literally screaming about what was happening on stage, exchanging looks of shock with my husband. But he was by far one of our favorite acts, so the “eek” factor was worth it. And the Trickster provides levity for the show, acting as the M.C. for the night in an array of flashy costumes and fall-out-of-your-seat-funny tricks and humor. He steals the show with his audience involvement and jokes – I never expected to laugh that much at a magic show!

If you are going to spend the money to see this show, I would recommend trying to book close seats. Even sitting in row R, we wished we could have been closer in to see some of the tricks better. They do have a giant screen on stage that projects the action live for those further away, but it’s always more fun to watch the real action in front of you.

There were only two small letdowns – The Manipulator never made an appearance last night (maybe he was sick?) and the much-touted full view water torture escape by The Escapologist never happened. I would likely chalk it up to opening night technicalities, and would hope both will join the show for the remainder of the SF run. I will note that the Escapologist was there and performed an upside-down straight-jacket escape that was impressive, just not the water escape.

Overall, a night of awe and laughter, recommended to those with a love of magic and illusion – or just for those wanting to try something new.

Illusionists, The: ? Witness the Impossible
Marquis Theatre

If You Go:

When: February 16-21, 2016
Where: Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market Street in San Francisco
Cost: $45 – $212
Running time: 2 hours, including one 15-minute intermission
Age Recommendation: Appropriate for all ages (no children under 5 allowed)

What do you think, does this show sound like something you’d go to?


Moving Tips

This past weekend was an eventful one in my household. Sure, it was Valentine’s Day, but it was also the weekend Max and I moved into our new place. Let me tell you, it’s been a stressful last couple weeks, but the stress is gradually being lifted off my shoulders as things are getting organized and placed appropriately in our new place.
We moved from a first-floor apartment to a third-floor apartment about a half mile away from our old place. Moving is a really stressful experience for both people and animals so I want to share some tips and tricks with you to make your next move a little easier.

  1. Make sure you give yourself enough time to actually move. I cannot stress this enough. Luckily, our lease at the old place officially ends this weekend, so we have a whole extra week to move last-minute items.
  2. Pack boxes appropriately. Whether you head to U-Haul to buy boxes or purchase bankers boxes, make sure to not overpack a box. You don’t want them to be too heavy if you’re moving boxes on your own.
  3. Clean out your fridge well in advance. This was one of my main tasks during the packing process. I got rid of things in the fridge and made sure not to buy anything extra – just the essentials.
  4. Can’t move the furniture yourself? Hire movers. This was the best decision we made in regards to our move – and worth the investment. Local company Johnson & Daly Moving & Storage came out weeks prior to our move to estimate total costs and the two gentlemen who actually moved our furniture ended up fitting heavy boxes and more into the moving truck. Once at the new apartment, they unloaded all the furniture and placed it in exact spots for us.
  5. Unpack boxes immediately. There’s nothing worse than living with boxes in hallways and all over the living room. In order to avoid knocking into them, unpack as you go. This was another of my main tasks. As boxes came in, I unpacked them and placed items where they belong.
  6. Canvas bags come in handy. For the odd-shaped items, throwing them into a canvas bag or bag you may use for groceries is wise. It’s easier to carry and you can throw the whole weight of the item on your shoulder if need be.
  7. Have pets? Let them acclimate. Animals are interesting beings, especially cats. Our cat Oliver has been hiding under the couch since the moment we brought him into the new place. At night, he’ll cry for the old apartment. Why? Because it’s all new for him. If animals cry, it’s important to just let them do so without you going over to console them. They need to readjust and acclimate on their own time. With cats, it’s making sure they are putting their scent on everything. With dogs, it’s a little easier. They’ll be slightly confused for a while, but keep the treats coming and they’ll adjust just fine.

Did I miss some of your key moving tips? Let me know in the comments.

Recipe: Mom’s Baklava


You can’t beat one of mom’s recipes, especially if that recipe has been handed down through generations. My mother’s baklava recipe, that she first learned while visiting relatives in former Yugoslavia, has become quite famous among family and friends and is always requested at dinner parties and celebrations. I have begun my own tradition with the recipe, making it for my husband on special occasions. He and his friends have claimed it is the best baklava they have ever tasted, and I have to agree.

If you’re looking for a treat to bake for your significant other this Valentine’s Day, why not take a break from the usual cookies or brownies and try this baklava recipe? There’s nothing like homemade baklava, and your sig other will appreciate all of the effort you’ve put into making something special for them.

{Mom’s Baklava}
1 pound frozen phyllo sheets
1 cup melted butter

for the filling:
2 cups finely chopped walnuts or pecans or a mix of the two
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8  teaspoon cloves

for the syrup:
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup honey
1 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice


1. Thaw phyllo pastry and separate the sheets according to package directions. Most packages will say to cover the phyllo with plastic wrap and a damp towel to keep the sheets from drying out.
2. Transfer half of pastry sheets one by one onto a greased cookie sheet or rimmed pan, brushing each sheet quickly and all over with melted butter (make sure to fully cover the edges with butter).
3. Combine nuts, 1/3 cup sugar, cloves, and cinnamon; sprinkle over buttered pastry (I made slightly more of the filling and did two layers).
4. Place remaining sheets on top, brushing each with melted butter.
5. Cut baklava pastry into squares or diamonds, but leave the bottom layers uncut. Bake at 350° until slightly  golden brown and crisp, about 30 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine remaining 3/4 cup sugar, honey, 1 cup water, and lemon juice; bring to a boil. Boil baklava syrup for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until syrupy.
7. When both the syrup and baklava have cooled a bit, pour 1/2 of the syrup over the baklava. Let it soak in for about an hour. Then cut thru the uncut layers of dough, and pour the rest of the syrup over the baklava.
8. Let the baklava soak up the syrup about 5 hours or overnight before you serve them, either on plates or in cupcake holders.


{Phyllo dough work station}


{Brush butter over the edges and work lightly inward}


{Combine chopped nuts with sugar, cloves, and cinnamon}


{Once halfway through phyllo sheets, add filling mixture}


{Cut pastry halfway through before baking – it will make for easier and cleaner cuts later}


{Pour syrup over pastry after it’s finished baking}


Let me know if you try out the recipe! Do you have any favorite desserts to bake for loved ones and special occasions?


Affordable Valentine’s Day Date Ideas


Valentine’s Day is this weekend! While some of you might be planning a tropical getaway or a stay-cation in a nice hotel in San Francisco, others might be trying to figure out what to do on a tighter budget. Since my husband and I will be moving into a new place this weekend, we need to stick to a budget to celebrate the day of love. I have come up with seven fun and inexpensive date ideas. Did I miss your favorite? Let me know!

Fun & Cheap Valentine’s Day Date Ideas

1. Make dinner together: For those who cook, and even those that don’t regularly, this is a great Valentine’s Day go-to. It’s ample opportunity to crank up the romance factor in your relationship, or, if it’s a newly formed relationship, a great chance to get to know each other better without anyone else being around and distracting you. Cooking together can be a lot of fun. I’m a fan of a stir-fry since it’s super simple to make and can be done quickly, but if you wanna go all out, try homemade lasagna or something a little more complex. Don’t forget the wine and dessert of your choice. Can’t be a traditional Valentine’s Day date without a great dessert!

2. Takeout and board games: This brings out the kid in everyone. Grab takeout from your favorite restaurant, head over to Bev-Mo! or your local Safeway to grab some beer and wine, then head on home, or to your significant other’s house and choose a few board games to play while you get your grub and drink on. It’s always fun to sit picnic style in the living room by candlelight and play games like the good ol’ days.

3. Valentine’s Day hiking trip: Valentine’s Day dates don’t necessarily have to take place at night. Day dates are just as fun! Living in Marin County, there are tons of beautiful hiking trails. I’m sure wherever you live, there are trails equally as beautiful. Plan the hike so you end up overlooking a beach or something beautiful. To make it extra special, bring a backpack with yummy little (healthy!) snacks and two drinks to celebrate your Valentine’s Day hiking adventure.

4. Dinner and a movie: This is the standard, go-to, every day kind of date. But on Valentine’s Day, try to amp it up and make it a little more romantic. Venture out to a restaurant you both haven’t been to before and see a movie in a genre you both like. Don’t forget your trip to the local frozen yogurt place! Can’t forget about froyo…

5. Video game fun: Even if you both don’t play video games religiously, it’s still nice to sit down together and learn how to play a new game. It can be on any console and head over to your local GameStop and pick a game out together and have fun learning the ins and outs of a new game. Laughter will surely be had.

6. Cards Against Humanity game night: This is a game that requires a lot of people, so be sure to plan it in advance. You will spend your entire night laughing your buns off and having a great time. They don’t call Cards Against Humanity “a horrible game for horrible people” for nothin’! Be sure to have snacks and beverages on hand for this gathering. Keep in mind that the best and easiest place to buy the game is through Amazon, but you can always ask friends if they own it. I personally have the game and all the expansion packs. Totally worth the investment.

7. Road trip it!: This road trip can be a day road trip or a lengthy one. I’m sure that beauty surrounds where you live, so why not venture out to a place like that? Or, to fulfill that kid-at-heart urge, drive down to Disneyland (if you live in California, or Disney World (if you’re in Florida), and have yourself a grand ole time! Disneyland is fun at every and any age, so why not make Valentine’s Day fun? Don’t forget your Disney character gear — I’m a fan of the sparkly Mini Mouse ears headband.

I hope you and your love enjoy the holiday and long weekend!




CSATT Fitness 30 Day Challenge

I’ve taken the plunge, and decided to join the CSATT Fitness 30 Day Challenge. The days of winter hibernation and comfort foods have come to and end, and it’s time to start thinking about swimsuit season and just getting into better shape in general.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 11.32.25 AM

If you’re not familiar with CSATT Fitness, it was founded by none other than Cody Sattler (pictured above) of The Bachelor franchise (he appeared on The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise). He was best known for his killer physique and his upbeat and positive personality. So what better person to start a fitness empire that’s based on a community of positivity!?

This community, known to members as the “Fit Fam,” is what really makes the whole challenge so special. There’s a private Facebook page that members comment on everyday, all hours of the day, motivating each other and sharing pictures and words of encouragement. This family helps with accountability and also helps to answer any questions you may have while working out or about the nutrition plans.

csatt fitness

So what exactly is the challenge? It’s basically a workout and nutrition plan that lasts for 30 days. By joining, you get:
– Two 30 day workout challenge programs customized for either novice or intermediate/advanced levels that maximize fat loss and muscle growth
– Video guides for every exercise with Cody demonstrating proper form and technique
– 30 day nutrition plans, including meal-by-meal breakdowns and preparation tips
– Nutrition and training e-book
– Live SpreeCast with Cody every Sunday night where he answers questions
– Daily motivational blogs from Cody
– Access to the private Facebook page.

Oh yeah, and it’s also a contest – you take full-body pics at the beginning and end, and Cody determines a top 10 best transformations. From that, voting determines first place ($5,000) and second place ($1,000). Below is the winner from the last challenge – pretty amazing right?

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 11.32.00 AM.png

My favorite part of the program is that the workouts can all be done at home, and the whole plan only costs $69 for the month. Pretty good deal for a personal trainer and nutrition plan! My challenge started on Monday, and lasts until March 8th. Wish me luck! I did the program last April and lost 12 pounds and several inches all over, so I’m hoping for great results again!

What do you think, would you give it a try? Do you have a favorite workout program?


Recipe: Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Did you watch Super Bowl 50 on Sunday? I’m guilty of dozing during the game, but enjoying the commercials and the half-time show. I mean, who doesn’t love Queen Bey, Bruno and Coldplay? While I didn’t bust out the bean dip I usually make to celebrate this sporting event, I did bring out my crockpot and make some turkey chili. I started at around 11:30 a.m., threw everything in the crockpot at around noon and the chili was ready by 4 p.m.

Just like the slow cooker balsamic chicken recipe I’ve shared, this, too, is a staple in my household.

turkey chili


  • 1 package ground lean Jennie-O turkey (or whatever you have in the freezer)
  • 1 16 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 1 large can (24 oz.) of petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of kidney beans
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1/2 green or red onion, diced
  • 6 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2-3 tablespoons cayenne pepper (or more if you like it spicy)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • Up to 1/2 cup of water

To Prepare:

  1. In a large non-stick skillet, cook your ground turkey 90%.
  2. Once your turkey is cooked, place it in the crockpot along with the tomato sauce, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, kidney and black beans, onion, chopped celery and mix it together.
  3. Add the spices: chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper, and mix those in.
  4. If you see that it’s too thick, add a little water and mix again.
  5. Cook on high for 4 hours.

What is your favorite type of chili to make in your slow cooker? Let me know!