Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mixing it Up

On Sunday, in an attempt to expand my exercise horizons, I dediced to go spinning with my Dad. All I can say is  WOW! Spinning is tough! As a runner, I tend to think my sport is the most difficult and sweat-inducing, but each time I try something new, I'm reminded that running isn't the be all end all of sports.  Don't get me wrong, I still do and always will love the feeling of running.  It makes my heart pound, my legs ache, and my body sweat in such a good way.  However, I am also discovering the joy that comes from other exercises.  I think this year (I work at a community college, so the new year for me always begins in the end of August/beginning of September), my focus is going to be on trying new things and diversifying my fitness.

In addition to some half marathons, and a possible full marathon, I'm considering adding a triathalon or two into the race lineup for the upcoming year.  I am also starting to think about doing a century ride the following year.  My father is an avid cyclist, and he has completed two centuries.  It would be really memorable to do a century ride with him someday. 

So, it looks like this year is going to be a year of exploration.  I'm hoping that adding some new things to the mix will keep me excited about exercise and will help me keep my body in shape.  But, most of all, I hope it helps me stay energized and focused so that I can be a better mother, wife, teacher and friend.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Partying with the Peas

It's no secret that I love blogs.  After all, I wouldn't have my own if I wasn't so into them.  Over the years, I have read numerous blogs.  Some have held my attention for a few days or a few weeks, while others have remained on my list of favorites for a long time.  Peas and Thank You is one of those blogs.  When I first discovered it, well over a year ago, I spent hours (at work, mind you) reading the blog from the first ever post through the most recent post.  I fell in love with Mama Pea's writing style, her wonderful little family, and most of all, her delicious vegan/vegetarian recipes.

I am not a vegetarian, but my family does eat a low-meat diet. Even though we do eat some meat, I am particularly fond of vegetarian recipes and find myself drawn to them.  In fact, many of my cookbooks and favorite blogs are vegetarian and vegan.  Peas and Thank You has been a great resource for me as I attempt to find new, exciting meals to feed my family.  So, when I read that Mama Pea was writing a cookbook, I knew that it would one day join my other favorites on my bookshelf.

Over the past few months, I have watched Mama Pea pour her heart and soul into this book.  I read the stories of her recipe successes and failures.  I read along as she and fellow blogger, Ashley, spent a weekend reshooting all of the pictures for the book.    Then, as the date for her cookbook release grew closer, I joined the rest of the blogsphere as we eagerly awaited the release date.

I received my cookbook last week, and I have already read it cover to cover and marked most of the pages with my post-it tabs (this is how I keep track of recipes I want to make).

Amelia looked at the cookbook with me, and she immediately asked to make the "Life's not Fair Blueberry Scones."  So, I decided it would be the first recipe we make out of the book.

Amelia, Ben and I spent the evening measuring ingredients and mixing them together, and the end result was a fabulous blueberry scone. 


These are the perfect texture, and Amelia loves the glaze. This child adores anything that has powdered sugar in it (who am I kidding, so do I).  I could go on and on for pages about how good these scones are, but I think you should buy the book and try them yourself.  Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

Friday, August 19, 2011

You've Got Mail!

Last week, I celebrated my 35th birthday.  It was a wonderful week spent with family and friends.  However, my in-laws don't live near us, so they were unable to celebrate with me.  They sent money instead, and I did what any good food/healthy living/fitness blogger would do.  I bought new stuff, which I ordered online.  All of my new stuff came today.  As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing as exciting as coming home from work to find packages on the front porch.

Here's what I got:

I am so excited to look through Mama Pea's book.  I love her blog, and I know her book will be full of the same fabulous meatless recipes she posts each day.  I can't wait to start cooking.  The Broner V-slicer is my third mandoline.  I'm hoping I actually have success with this one. I really want a good mandoline to julienne vegetables into my salad.  I have tried two others so far, and have not been satisfied.  The first was a Cuisinart mandoline, which didn't slice well.  The second was a Pampered Chef mandoline, which did not have a julienne blade.  So, I'm hoping the third time is the charm.  I'll let you know how this one works out.

It looks like I have a busy weekend ahead of me.  I have new recipes to try and vegetables to slice.  I'll see you on Monday with reviews of both.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Balancing Act

When life gets crazy and hectic my food choices and exercise habits suffer.  As I have mentioned before, I firmly believe in the 80/20 rule.  As long as I am making healthy, wise choices 80% of the time, the other 20% isn't really an issue.  I am not obsessed with making sure that my diet and exercise regimen is perfect 100% of the time. However, that doesn't mean that I'm not aware of my choices all the time.  I know what it takes to be physically and emotionally healthy, and for me that includes a diet of whole foods and regular exercise.  When I don't get enough of either, I start to feel it.

For some reason, the past few weeks have not been as full of good choices as they usually are.  I have been eating more sugar and junk than I normally do, drinking more wine than I like to, and exercising less than I usually do.  Compared to the "standard" person, I'm still getting more healthy food and exercise than most, but not enough for me.  I'm starting to feel sluggish and bloated, and just not as much like "me" as I like to feel.  So, I know that it's time for the pendulum to swing the other direction.

Since I work at a college, the beginning of the semester feels like a fresh start for me.  So, I'm going to take this as an opportunity to get back on track and be more mindful of my food and exercise choices.  I'm contemplating another Clean Food Challenge, and I'm going to get my exercise back up to 5 or 6 days a week.  In addition to running and cross training (elliptical, swimming and biking), I'm going to add some yoga and strength training to my routine.  I might be in pretty good shape, but I'm still in need of some toning. 

So, I guess the end of summer is approaching and it's time to get back into school/work mode.  I need to get back on track and remember why I adopted these healthy habits in the first place.  After all, I have a busy year ahead of me, and I want to be able to keep up.  Plus, I have a late spring marathon to prepare for.

Here's to a happy, healthy fall!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Within a Mile of Home...

The community college where I work is exactly 4.41 miles from my house.  How do I know?

My Garmin told me.

Today was our last "early out" Friday for the summer, so I was done at 1pm. I had a short run planned for today, but I knew if I came home from work I would never get off the couch.   So, I decided to force myself to run.  How?  I ran home from work.  Paul and I both work at the same college, but we don't normally ride together to work (I know, it's not very environmentally friendly) because we're each responsible for dropping the kids off at different times in different locations.  Our work days actually start at different times because of this.  So, normally, running home from work isn't an option.  However, today we were able to drop the kids off close to each other and at the same time, which meant we were able to drive to work together.  I took advantage of this rarity and used it as an opportunity to run home.  I packed my running gear and changed into it at the end of the day.  I gave Paul all of my stuff so that he could bring it with him in the car, and he drove off to pick up the kids.  I ran home.

It's exactly what I needed today.  I wasn't really in the mood for running, and the run itself was difficult.  But, I had no choice.  If I wanted to get home, I had to keep moving.  I'm glad I don't have to run home from work every day, but I think I'm going to try to find a way to do it more often.

When I got home, I was drenched.  It's still so muggy here.  So, I enjoyed an icy glass of water out of this:

This is the pint glass I won from Emilie's giveaway.  It's from this company, and I LOVE it.  As I posted last week, Maine is one of my favorite places on earth.  Now, I have a glass to show it.  This is the first blog giveaway I have ever won.  I don't participate in them too often, so I'm not that surprised, but it's still exciting.

Monday, August 8, 2011

If I blog about it, do I have to do it?

So, I'm actually thinking of doing this in May.

Vermont City Marathon

I keep going to the website and looking at the information.  Rather than fill me with dread and anxiety, it actually excites me.  That must be a good sign, right?  I'm in the midst of training for my second half marathon, and I already feel like I want to go further.  It's funny...when I started this running thing last year, I said I would never run a marathon.  I confidently told everyone that the distance just wasn't for me and that I would be completely satisfied running shorter distances.  I guess I was wrong...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Is 7 the new Tween?

Seriously...when did this incredible, smart, funny, thoughtful child become a teenager?

The last time I checked, a (almost)seven year-old was still a child.  However, in the past two days, she has given me a very attitudey (is that even a word) finger snap, rolled her eyes at me, and then today, when I told her to do something, she looked right at me from her spot on the couch and said, in a snotty voice, "Make me!"  She's lucky that I didn't actually take her seriously.

Amelia has always been an independent, emotional, precocious child.  It's tough to find the balance between embracing her unique and challenging nature, and squashing it with the need to teach her respect and self-control.  Honestly, I want a child who questions the world around her, who challenges authority, who stands up for herself and what she wants...but...I just don't want her to do it with me :)

Boy, this parenting thing sure is hard!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air...

Thank you, Emerson, for reminding us what is important in life.  You really got it, didn't you.

We just returned from a week in Southern Maine.  We spent our mornings and afternoons at the ocean, where we searched the tide pools for sea life.  Amelia had one hope for this trip...that she would see a real starfish.  She sure got her wish.

In between visits to the ocean, we explored the towns of Southern Maine:  Wells, Ogunquit, and York.  We saved Old Orchard Beach, Saco and Kennebunkport for another trip.  The southern coast of Maine is very touristy, but in a good way.  It was fun to walk through the bustling crowds of people as we visited shops and explored the local attractions.  We ate lots of great food, including fabulous lobster rolls, which I always enjoy. 

The kids had so much fun running through the waves, and we returned home fully exhausted and completely happy.  The car was full of sand, our suitcases were full of wet bathing suits, and our bellies were full of great food.  All signs of a successful vacation, don't you think?

Maine is one of my favorite places on earth, and I always feel a little sad leaving.  Each time we visit, Paul and I talk about moving there someday.  This time, I even went online and began searching for community college teaching positions in Maine.  Alas, it's not in the cards for us at this point, but maybe someday...